Tuesday, October 29, 2013

This is a guest post-deal with it

I'm a hunter. Its what I do. When you go to bed at night, comfortable in your homes behind your walls and self imposed deceptions I'm on the streets. My name is, hell does it even matter? Fine. My name is Sepia Blue and no its not my given name, I don't even know what that is. Enough with the name.

Why am I here hijacking this blog? I'm tired of being in his head.  I decided it was time you heard my voice. For some time now I have been suggesting to him to get my story down. I whisper to him when he is sleeping or when he is doing some of his other writing.  Writing. Not. About. Me.  I don't do coy well. I am at the point where I want to shove my blade between his ribs, gently of course. Just to get his attention.

So you want to know what I hunt? I hunt nightmares. I hunt things that would make you soil yourself, crawl into the fetal position and wish you had never been born. I face them with Cade my partner-when he isn't being a pain in my ass.  Most of the time I face them alone. There is an order, a balance in my city-New York. Hunters maintain that balance. When that balance is threatened, say some nasty creature wants to make entrees out of you, my bosses call me. I cancel the menu.

I'm not like you-what would absolutely kill you, would probably kill me. Its a big difference, trust me. No I'm not immortal-what is this a comic book? However I do have the skill and the weapons that level the playing field. My sword, Perdition is what I like to call a blade of evil. Cue in the cackling. Every time I use it, I lose a part of myself - its a raw deal, I cope by not drawing it unless I have to. I'm also covered in ink, every Hunter is. It gives us strength and protects us. Don't ask me how- some ancient rite, special ink, some other things I didn't get. Bottom line is that I look like a yakuza's wet dream, covered neck to ankle in designs. Hey they keep me alive while I do my job so its a fair trade-off.

So why am I here? Two reasons. First I'm putting him on notice. Write my story before I visit you in the most unpleasant way possible. I know how to be an unpleasant bitch, trust me. Second, he is going to need help. This is where you come in. Make sure you help him get this story done in a timely manner. I would hate to have to visit you as well. Actually you would hate it, I wouldn't mind at all.
The name of the book is Sepia Blue-Origins. Make it happen.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Revision and Self-Editing for Publication

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of books on writing. As a writer,  martial arts instructor, father of seven ( yes seven) I rarely have time to attend writing seminars. The last writing seminar I attended was two years ago held by the Open Center in New York City. It was a Right to Write seminar by Julia Cameron and it was excellent.

However as artists we must always seek to improve our craft. So I keep my skills sharp on my blogs and I am constantly in the middle of several books. Some are fiction ( pick up anything by Brandon Sanderson, my current read is the Mistborn series), some are on martial arts, and some are on writing.

Lately I have been reading Revision &Self Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell. You can get it on amazon here :http://www.amazon.com/Revision-Self-Editing-Publication-ebook/dp/B00B03HSEW/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382978918&sr=1-5&keywords=james+scott+bell

I initially purchased this as an e-book for my kindle and then realized this was the kind of book that becomes a reference, a resource, so I purchased it as a paperback as well. If you are a writer, or an aspiring writer, this is a book you need to have in your author arsenal. This is the book that will help you polish your manuscript.  It asks the right questions, the hard questions. It spurs you to action with the sole goal of making your book the best it can be. GET THIS BOOK. Read it,  Write in it. Read it again. Do the exercises. Then go and thank James Bell.

writers write

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Writer Support

I am fortunate to be part of several communities, tribes if you will. One of these tribes is my writing tribe. Writers appear to the outside world as a reclusive, introverted and strange bunch. We are. We hear voices, create strange worlds, live in our minds and get these images and places down somewhere we can share them.  This tribe is also incredibly supportive.

I have had the pleasure of meeting mainstream published writers and indie self published writers. The only difference between the two was how they chose to share their work with the world. Writers are gracious, witty, bizarre, hilarious, somber, insightful and open to new ideas. I've had writers meet with me , just because. Its how we are. When I published my first book, writers ( I only knew a few then) cheered me on. My victory was theirs as well-they truly elevated my voice. They also kicked my ass, and told me in no uncertain terms-get started on the next book, NOW.

In this spirit I would like to support a writer who has been writing probably longer than I've been alive (sorry Chuck lol). His name is Chuck Wendig and he writes a great blog and has some excellent books out as well.

You can find the  blog here : http://terribleminds.com

Currently he is offering a bundle of books for only $10.00. Its an excellent bundle and well worth your picking up, especially if you are a writer.
You can find the link to bundle here:  https://payhip.com/b/NsWQ

He is offering this for a short time ( during NaNoWriMo), so get it while you can.

This is what we do as writers, like Atlas we hold each other up. Show each other off when we can and get those voices out in to the world.

writers write


Silence the censor

Every writer has gone through this. That voice, you know the one- THE VOICE. That says what you are writing is rubbish. The one that says you cant possibly be a REAL WRITER. It advises you to quit now while you're behind.  This writing business is hard, why not take up something less challenging, like neurosurgery?

We have all been there, in fact every time I face a blank page or screen somewhere in the background I hear my inner censor chuckle. He whispers what now? What will you dare to write? Its a very good question-that usually freezes me.

I'm here to inform you that there are ways around  your censor. No you cant silence him completely-I don't think that is possible or desirable. You can, however evict him out of your head-space for a short time, while you get to the business of writing.

One of the exercises that I find works is the morning pages (Thanks and credits to Julia Cameron for this exercise). Three pages of free writing about anything. You cant do them wrong, you just write three pages about anything. It serves the purpose of quieting your censor, because all of those thoughts were going to come up, anyway. Now that you have it out, your censor has no foothold. Also I have gotten some great ideas just from writing like this.

James Scott Bell suggests writing dialogue. This is a great exercise. You just write dialogue- go crazy, cut loose- let it take you wherever its going. The point is you are writing.

Some of us have rituals. A favorite pen or notebook. A special writing area. Lighting incense before during or after. Some require strong extra large doses of caffeine prepared in their favorite coffee house, or at home. Some require that the planets be in alignment. We all have our ways of doing this, the point is that it must be done in order for us to write.  Me, there are days I would love to take my censor out back, tie him to a post and flog him senseless. He is too wily to be caught so I shut him up instead.

Seems to be working so far. What methods do you use I would love to hear them.

writers write,

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pursue your Passion

Its the only way to do it.
You have to ask yourself
What would I do even if there was no reward?
What would I do even if no one else noticed?
What is that thing that burns within, that drives me to do it no matter what?

When you can answer those questions, honestly you will have found your passion. For me early on it was writing. I have been writing ever since I was very young. Short stories no one read. Novellas I would let some friends read. Journals in marble notebooks. Now blogs and books. One of the key ingredients to following your passion is that you don't seek the approval of others to follow that burning fire within, you just do it.

When you don't find it you will know. There is a longing within, a space, a void that needs to be filled. There are indicators that demonstrate you aren't following your passion- restlessness, discomfort, anxiety, apathy boredom-to name a few. A real easy way to find your passion is to ask yourself this question (in case the above three are too vague). If money were not an issue in your life, what would you do or pursue?  You will find that the answer to this question is your passion.

So what are you waiting for?

Find your passion, pursue it!

writers write


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dont strand yourself on an island

Its possible you have heard some of these:

In order to be a writer you must struggle ALONE in obscurity.

There is no way you can write while surrounded by other writers or artists.

Writing forces you to be disconnected and its better that way.

A writer can only truly depend on themselves, no ones knows you like you.

I'm sure there are countless others and I'm here to tell you that its false. Actually I believed this and worse for a long time while I wrote and struggled to identify as a writer. Then I realized, if I am going through this other writers must be going through the same thing. It wasn't an epiphany, but it was close. So I started to look around and found groups of writers who band together to write or offer support.

There are teachers who will share  their experiences( Julia Cameron comes to mind with  one of my favorite writing book:

The Right to Write http://juliacameronlive.com/books-by-julia/the-right-to-write/

as does Stephen King's On Writing

 If you haven't picked up these books please do. They will motivate you and give you a glimpse of what it means to write.

Another great source I have found recently ( OK I'm slow to this) are blogs. There are countless writing blogs in existence but I have found quite a few excellent ones, here are some:

http://terribleminds.com/ -Blogged by Chuck Wendig who is an excellent writer with a very unique sense of humor. On occasion he has guest writers which make for great reading and plenty of useful information.

http://goinswriter.com/- Blogged by Jeff Goins. A very good blog filled with down to earth inspiration and motivation.

He also wrote(among others):
 The Writers Manifesto

 Its a fast read, but a very profound call to action. If you haven't embraced your calling as a writer this book will spur you to answer that call. Look up Jeff he has some great books that will transform  your view on writing..

There are many more that I will share with you over time, but ideally the key is to go out and connect with others, writers, readers, bloggers, agents, publishers-Basically anyone who loves using words to express themselves. Go find them. Stop thinking you need to be alone to be a writer- I thought that for a long time and its not true. Join a writers club. Find a place where writes converge, online and off.
 In NY we have a few writing cafes that are excellent places to meet fellow writers. Find the one that suits you or create one.
The key is not to be alone in this adventure we call writing.

writers write

Friday, October 11, 2013

The thick skin you need as a writer

So I am getting responses back from some of my beta readers. Most are saying that they love the story (Blur) and then like the inevitable breakup conversation that starts with "we need to talk" they begin.

"Loved the story, but why is this happening or why is this character doing that?

"It was great but this doesn't make sense."

You get the gist I'm sure. Now just to be clear I enjoy this, actually I asked for it. Its part of the writing process and as amazing as I may think I am ( in my own mind) I know better. Its important to put your story and yourself out in front of others to get feedback and criticism, because it helps you make the story better. That is the point isn't it? A pairing down of things unnecessary and superfluous. In order for all of this to work however, you need thick skin.

You need to be able to take criticism, constructive and destructive and move on. You cant take it personally even though you want to, and I know you really want to, but don't. Remember, focus on the story, its all about the story. You as the writer can fade into the background, but the story should shine in the foreground. You need to be able to look past the battering of your story, characters and even writing ability to continue writing. In my opinion, if you cant do this you have no business writing, really.

This doesn't mean you should only subject to criticism that destroys your work. You should pick your early readers with care, people that will read your work and be honest  and supportive of you being a writer. If you only want glowing reviews (and who doesn't) then only use your family. That way you can get a skewed review in your favor (its delusional, but fun). If you want honesty, pick people who like you, but are not afraid of telling you the truth with compassion. That last part is important. Writers tend to be sensitive individuals who bruise easily. This is all done with the understanding that you must release your story into the world, and not everyone will be kind or a fan. Remember to be your own greatest fan.

If you are a writer then cultivate the thick skin needed to hone your craft and undergo the scrutiny required to improve from being a good writer to a great one. If you ever find yourself fortunate enough to be an early reader of someones work remember that the point is to make the story better without destroying the writer in the process. Think surgical strike instead of  a slash and burn policy. Focus on the writing not the writer and you will be sought often to improve those nascent novels.

writers write


Monday, October 7, 2013

Embracing the title

What does it mean when I say I'm a writer? Does it mean I spend my time engaging in flights of fancy? Do I hear voices in my head and more importantly, write down what these voices say?

Honestly its hard to pinpoint the exact definition. It does mean I enjoy and strive to hone my craft of conveying story through the written word. It means that I believe in story and good storytelling. Ultimately I think being a writer and embracing the title means, to me, that the activity, the action of writing takes on a life of its own in my life. Its not that I like to write ( I do) it is that I have to write. Its one of my methods of self expression. From journals when I was younger to blogs now, writing has been a central theme in my life. I don't think you wake up one day and decide, " I'm a writer."  What happens is that over time you realize that this is your preferred method of telling a story, yours or another persons ( real or fictitious) and at some point you embrace the tittle of writer.

Two things can occur at this point You can rebel at the thought of being a writer, even if you have embraced the title. The self doubt rears its head and surreptitiously whispers in your ear that you aren't a "real" writer- whatever that is. Or you completely accept being a writer and revel in the process of it all- from agony to elation and back again, over and over. I can say that for me I am still wrapping my head around the idea of being a writer even though I have done some form of writing my entire life.
My opinion is that no matter how long you have been doing it, on some level I don't think you ever get truly comfortable with the title.

Maybe that's a good thing.

writers write


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Beta Readers

I'm one step closer to getting Blur published. Currently its in the hands of five beta readers and yes its like the first time you hire a babysitter to watch your child, the most precious thing to you in your entire world-very close to that feeling. I have never done this before ( this is my second novel being published), but I felt that with this novel it was warranted and I think it can improve the overall quality of the book. Do I like it ? Hell no. Its like I'm in a weird place-a sort of writers limbo where my book is being subjected to the scrutiny of others, my characters tortured, unmasked and deconstructed. Yes I know this is not rational thinking. I'm a writer, I specialize in non rational thinking. Not only that, I actually asked for this.

So what do I do in the meantime? I write. I edit my next project-a book on fatherhood that I will release around the same time Blur comes out. I write the second book to my Spiritual Warriors series- The Ascendant Warrior. Basically I keep writing because, I cant stop and because to not write is to invite simultaneous brain implosion and explosion. Writers really do hear voices in their heads. Letting these voices loose with a system of checks and balances, well no matter how I envision that scenario its not a pretty sight. I say that last bit with the utmost seriousness and hilarity. See what I mean?

And so I keep writing, Ill let you know how it goes.

writers write