Writing

This Typey-typey Thing Is Hard! (dedicated to all potential writers) by Jake Bible

Today I’d like to welcome author and podcaster Jake Bible to The Evolution of Nikki. Jake is the author of DEAD MECH, the world’s first drabble novel.

You can find out more about Jake via his official website.

Now onto today’s post. (If you’re a potential writer, this one is most definitely for you.)

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So, I am a writer. Impressive, eh?

Sure, I get to sit around in my PJs clacking at my keyboard, getting multiple refills of delisciousssssss coffee while snacking on donut holes. Then watch Doctor Who re-runs for the other seven hours of the “work” day. It’s the life!

Except, none of that is true. Oh, I wish it was. I could use a good pair of PJs. But, alas, I am part of the 90%-95% of professional writers that is afflicted with a condition that the average reader (even sub-average reader) is not aware of.

I am speaking of: The Day Job.

Yep, I work for a living.

Sure, I may make enough from my ebook sales and (soon) my print book sales to keep my fridge stocked with craft beer on the weekends (can’t afford beer on weeknights), but I won’t be buying a summer cottage on The Cape anytime soon. (Where is “The Cape”, by the way?)

Yes, I even have a literary agent that is busy trying to sell my work out there, but selling and sold are two different words. And even when sold I will be lucky if I can pay off my Best Buy card. Not that I regret the HDTV in the living room. I do regret I got suckered into buying the over priced HDMI cable, though. I should have read CNET first.

I digress. Won’t be the last time in this post.

What many readers don’t know is that only between 5%-10% of professional writers make enough money to support themselves (and possibly their families, as well). Yep, see all those books on your bookshelf, dear potential writer? 90% of those are written by folks that are schlepping it to work each day just like you. Oh, the glamour!

Now, before you feel sorry for me and get your wallets out…be sure and click here. I kid. …Or do I?

Okay, I better get to the point before you go back to watching The View. Or that YouTube video of the cat playing with the dolphin. That is just so damn cute! Can’t wait for the sequel where the cat plays with a shark. Hijinks will ensue, I guarantee it!

Here is why I am writing this post (after six plus paragraphs of nonsense): if you want to be a writer, be prepared to work your butt off like never before. If you are lucky! That’s right, you’ll be working your tuchas to the bone even if you catch a break. I am.

I launched my first novel, DEAD MECH, as a free podcast. I was lucky (there’s that word again) that it took off and caught the attention of some other big authors/podcasters. With help I was able to gain a rather large following right away which lead to a publishing contract (which I have since nullified because I am a control freak). But, my following was a following of folks that liked FREE content. Did that translate to sales when the novel was printed? No. No, it didn’t.

So, I had to start the hustle that all writers go through. I had to self-promote my novel (as well as the podcast), I had to work on getting my next novel written (and recorded for podcast), I had to plan my third novel (maybe a podcast?) plus all the website maintenance, correspondence, ebook publishing, writing, revising, editing, writing, revising, etc.

And do it all while working 40+ hours a week at my day job.

Sure, you still want to be a writer?

Or, if you don’t want to be a writer, do you still believe writing is easy?

I’m sure many of you are unconvinced, so let’s break it down.

My month has consisted of the following:

  1. Prep/proof two manuscripts for print publication.
  2. Revise said manuscripts and coordinate with my formatter for revisions.
  3. Write a new YA novel (still in progress).
  4. Edit my current novel.
  5. Record/edit the podcast release of my current novel.
  6. Start the first draft of a zombie musical (yes, you read that right).
  7. Update all of me ebooks because of late errors found.
  8. Update my website to reflect the new info constantly being generated by new work.
  9. Write several guest blog posts.
  10. Be part of a few interviews.
  11. Work on publicity/promotion.
  12. Get frustrated with publicity/promotion and get drunk instead.
  13. Post on Facebook/Twitter/The Ether.
  14. Respond to comments on Facebook/Twitter (can’t respond to The Ether, that’s just crazy talk).
  15. Take notes for next novel.
  16. Take notes for the novel after that.
  17. Drink coffee (okay, drink whiskey with coffee in it).
  18. Work at day job.
  19. Keep wife and children healthy and fed (I do all the cooking).
  20. Sleep (yep, I’m a wuss that way).

There’s more but I’ve had too much “coffee” to remember what the rest is. Let me know if I missed anything.

How’s that writing dream feeling? Have I crushed it yet? I sure as hell hope not. Because if you have read all of this and still want to be a writer then you probably have the stuff to be successful at it. However, if this list freaks you out (or you don’t like “coffee”) then maybe you should just keep working on that manuscript until you do have what it takes.

Now, if you get one thing from this post, I hope it’s this: It’s easy to fail, it’s hard to succeed. Be prepared for success. You don’t need preparation for failure. We’re humans, failure is in our DNA. Success is what will really kill you. As a writer, your biggest regret in life won’t be that you failed at writing, but that you succeeded at writing then failed at success. That’ll break your soul.

But, even with all of this craziness I absolutely love writing and I wouldn’t go back to my pre-writing days if someone paid me. Well, I guess it depends on how much they paid me…

And, on that note, I wish you all great success!

Cheers!

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Bio:

Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids. He is the author of many published short stories and the creator of a new literary form: the Drabble Novel. DEAD MECH is his first novel and represents the introduction to the world of the Drabble Novel, a novel written 100 words at a time.

Learn more about Jake and his work at www.jakebible.com. Links to his Facebook fan page, Twitter and his forum can be found there, as well as his weekly drabble release, Friday Night Drabble Party, and his weekly free audio fiction podcast.

 

Backing Up the Info Dump Truck by Jim Ryan

Today’s special guest is Jim Ryan, a caffeine-loving podcaster and writer who can be found at his official website Jim – Yes, THAT Jim and via Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. (Yes, MySpace is still around. It’s hard to believe, I know.) Also, please feel free to check out Jim’s two podcasts, The Great Debate and The Everyworld News Podcast.

Now, onto Jim’s thoughts on providing readers with too much information at once. (Yes, the old saying is true. Sometimes less is more.)

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I have a confession to make.  I’m addicted to world-building.

Whenever I write something that takes place in a fictional world, I like to spell out details about that world to the Nth degree.  My material leans in the direction of science fiction and fantasy, so more often than not I find myself creating races and societies and – depending on the setting – sorting out rules for how magic works or how advanced technology works.

Why bother with all that?  Because my OCD-riddled brain likes to sort out every last piece of information and put it in its proper place.

The problem is that once I’ve got the details written up, I often feel a compulsion to share them with my readers.  From what I understand this can be a malady that strikes many writers.  It’s only natural, of course.  After working for hours on the complete history of every major spacefaring race in a given galaxy, the desire to share the pride I have in such a massive creation is a perfectly normal one.

Normal, but sadly, not helpful.

I may feel as though providing pages and pages of information on the mating habits of the rock people of Quar is the right and just thing to do, but deep down I know that producing a story the approximate length of the Great Wall of China might not be the best strategy.  Not if I want to retain any of my readers, anyway.

So, how do I avoid including info-dumps in my fiction?

I’ve tried having clueless minor characters standing by to ask, “What’s going on?” so the clever protagonist can tell them.  But that only really seems to work for me up to a point, after which it can start getting ridiculous.  Sometimes there’s a fine line between having a main character who’s a genius and having one who’s basically a tape recorder.

(For those of you who may be a bit younger, we used to have these things called “tape recorders.” Google them some time if you’d like to get an insight into how the ancient folk of the late 20th century lived.)

What I’ve found works better is to seed the information in appropriate passages a bit at a time – just hinting at the greater depth of background instead of throwing it all out there.  I try only to include the bits of information that are relevant to the story. So, for example, instead of getting into the specifics of how the Quarren race reproduces, I can instead have the Quarren ambassador mention that he’s recently carved out a son.

The key here is letting the readers fill in the missing bits with their imagination.  I haven’t explained HOW the ambassador had a son, but I’ve 1) communicated what I need to (that the ambassador has a family, which helps explain his motivations) and 2) hopefully made the reader curious about the Quarren race.  The readers can’t help but try to picture what I’m talking about, but because the picture is incomplete there’s now a mystery to which they’ll want to learn the answer.

Stringing folks along by revealing only tiny bits of the world you’ve created can be a bit cruel, perhaps, but ultimately they’ll love you for it. Because a world that looks like it’s got a lot of potential is way cooler than one that’s finished.

So consider hoarding all of those excruciating details and letting them out a bit at a time. That way, when they ask for more, you’ll have a ready supply.

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If you’d like to guest blog on my site, please feel free to contact me at nicole@nicoleireland.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Too Busy to Post

As you probably have noticed, I’ve been missing in action once again. It’s not because I don’t have anything to say because I ALWAYS do. The truth is, I’m really busy with work work. You know, the kind that pays you opposed to just blogging for fun and hoping one day it’ll pay off?

If I was making boat loads of money off of this site, it would be one thing, but I make next to nothing. And I can’t support a family on that amount.

Like many families I know, money is REALLY tight right now. My husband is barely getting 40 hours at work, which means I need to make up the difference in order to pay the bills, feed the kids, pay for gas, etc.

It’s frustrating to me because I’m working crazy hours just to make enough money to help us squeak by. I’m literally working seven days a week with little extra to show for it. But that’s okay as long as I help keep a roof over our heads and food in our bellies.

When I’m not working, I’m running errands, cleaning or spending time with the kids. There hasn’t really been any extra time to speak of for me to just sit and work on my two sites or on my writing. I hate it, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. No one else is going to pay my bills for me.

Don’t get me wrong, if a magical little elf appeared and offered to do the housework, cooking and some of my work for me, I’d accept. It would open up my schedule some. But since I don’t see that happening anytime soon, I’ve got to continue what I’m doing.

I know it may seem like I’m making excuses for not writing, but that’s not the case at all. I have all the edits for Second Chances that I want to finish in the worst way, but I can’t jeopardize my family’s well-being. My kids depend on me. I’m responsible for all of their needs. Sometimes, that means putting things aside for a bit to focus on providing for them. After all, that’s what parents do.

I know, though, that it will ease up some in the future, and I will be able to focus on my other pursuits again. I keep reminding myself of that, and it helps.

I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m not being lazy by not posting. I’ve just got a lot on my plate that I need to work on right now. Be patient, and I’ll post when I can.

Much love,

Nikki

Story Ideas: An Unexpected 2am Brainstorming Session

As a writer, it can be very frustrating when ideas pop up at inopportune times, like when you should be sleeping or spending time with your family. Last night, or rather early this morning, was one of those times for me.

At 2am this morning, when I should have been sleeping, I was wide awake, twiddling my thumbs and pondering whether or not I should get up and watch an episode of True Blood. I was tired, but my body wouldn’t let me fall asleep. It was irritating me, and I was looking for a distraction.

Well, I sure got one!

While I lay there under my nice, warm blankets, I felt the beginnings of an idea tickling the edges of my mind, dancing around just out of my reach, as though it were saying “Here I am. Catch me if you can.”

Slowly, that taunting little troublemaker moved forward, and I was finally able to grasp ahold of it. As frustrated as I was about being awake when the rest of the house was sound asleep, I was also very excited by this new idea, which probably contributed to the fact that I never fell back to sleep. Once I start brainstorming, it’s hard to turn my brain off.

Sure, I could have just chosen to ignore that pesky little idea when it first started toying with me, and spent that time drooling over Alexander Skarsgård until my lids grew droopy. But had I done that, I would have ended up very disappointed with myself because I didn’t chase after an idea that could have been great with some tender love and care.

In all honesty, I would have missed out on two ideas because my initial brainstorming session led to another one. Needless to say, I’ve got to get working on both of these little nuggets. I’m anxious to see if they’ll turn into something special.

If you’re a fellow writer/artist/creative mind, tell me about some of your brainstorming sessions. Do you have them in the middle of the night too? During the day? When?

A Time for Reflection

Wells Beach

Today, when I woke up, I was greeted by quite a few birthday wishes. It was a nice way to wake up and begin the day. As I’ve thanked those who have wished me a great birthday, I’ve had time to reflect back on the past year.

As those closest to me know, it hasn’t been easy year. In fact, suffice it to say, it’s been one of the toughest. I spent the first six months of my 27th year with very limited use of my left hand. It was a very frustrating time for me.

Last Christmas, though, I was the lucky recipient of a miracle, of sorts, by way of my parents Wii. (Don’t ask.)

My injury was just one problem I dealt with this year. While I won’t post info on my other trials, I can say that there have been days that I’ve wanted to stay in bed, pull the covers over my head and cry. It hasn’t gotten easier to handle, though, in recent months.

It was back in March, or thereabouts, that I started writing again following my hiatus due to my hand injury. It was slow going, at first, but what really got me motivated was The Creative Alliance, created by author James Melzer.

TCA has given me so much over the past few months. I’m surrounded by a group of insanely talented people who accept me just the way I am. They provide me with support and laughs when I need it.

Because of their support and love, I want to take the time today to thank those who made the second half of this year better than the first.

Jenny, you have been such an amazing friend to me over the past couple of years. You’ve believed in me and helped me to grow. You’ve been a shoulder when I needed one. So thank you for that and thank you for allowing me to be a part of such an amazing anthology.

James, thank you for starting TCA. Without it, I wouldn’t have accomplished what I have the past few months.

Acadia, I know it cramps your style and makes you look less tough, but thank you for believing in me and for nagging me about this site. I’ve made myself accessible to a lot more people because of you. I owe you one.

Pat, thanks for being a great friend and allowing me to guest blog on your site. It was a blast, and we must do it again.

Edit: yesterday, I forgot to include the most important person at The Superificial Gallery — Vange. (We just allow Acadia to think he is.)

So Vange, thank you for reminding me every week to floss my teeth. 🙂 I’d be lost without you.

And as a whole, I must thank Jenny, Leslie, Jackie, Mary Lou and Annie for your time, friendship and support of Second Chances. I truly appreciate it.

Before I forget, as cheesy as it sounds, thank you, Lee, for your Slumberland album. Without it, I would never have figured out my lead character’s name.

As always, I must also thank my mom, dad and brother for their support. They’ve seen me at my worst and yet, they still love me. I love you guys!

OH! One more thing, to commemorate today, here’s a look at the cover for Second Chances, which, as most of you know, is part of the From the Dark Side Anthology. Enjoy!

Thanks to Jennifer Hudock for creating this beautiful cover.

Updates

Things have been really busy around here, which is a good thing. If I had too much free time on my hands, I’d start to obsess about things in my life that are hard to deal with. Instead, I’ve been putting a lot of time and energy into this new site, my writing, work, my family and helping my friends out in any way that I can.

Thanks to some very special people, I’ve managed to get a lot accomplished, which is a great feeling. I don’t feel like I’m letting life pass me by anymore.

One of the most exciting things to come about in recent weeks is this new site. Had it not been for Acadia and his prodding (i.e. nagging), I wouldn’t have this new site up yet. (Thanks dude!)

Second, I wrote my first guest blog, which you can find over at Paddy’s Wanderings. (You can find Patrick’s guest blog here.)

Third, I will be interviewing Ms. Jennifer Hudock in a few weeks as part of her Dark Journeys Blog Tour. The hard part about this particular interview is that I’m actually going to record it. I’m not real comfortable with the sound of my own voice, so it’ll be trainwreck, but Jenny’s a good sport, so I’m sure her and I will have a good laugh over it afterwards.

Fourth, several weeks ago I did a written interview with Dream Wanderers author Paula Brown, which I feel turned out great. She offered some great insight and advice into writing, following your dreams and more.

Fifth, I’ve posted a few pieces of poetry that mean a lot to me and reflect things I’m going through in my own life that I hope others can relate to in some way. (And from what I’ve heard, I’ve succeeded, which is always my goal.)

Well, that’s it for now, but I’m sure I’ll have another update soon, so can an eye out.

Give it up for Patrick!

Tonight, I would like to introduce you to my  first guest blogger, Patrick Pillars who can be found over at Paddy’s Wanderings. He’s a fellow TCA member and all around good guy. Once you’re finished reading Patrick’s post, please take some time to stop by his site and show him the love. I know he’d appreciate it.

Now read and enjoy. Momma says so!

I discovered Stephen King through the movies before the books. I saw The Shining first, then Carrie. I really did not like either one. I have since read The Shining and it was meh. I never did finish Carrie.

Then I saw Christine, and I liked it. And then I read the book, which I really liked. I watched Stand by Me and The Running Man, both of which I liked. But I am here to tell ya, I was not a fan in any way.

Then I met Steph, she who would become better 1/2. She was a huge fan. I mean huge! She pestered me about how I should try other books by Stephen King. I said yeah well.. only if you will really listen to the Beatles — really give em a try. She was not a Beatles fan. I know, how is that possible? Then again, I was not a fan of Stephen King, how could that be possible, as well?

Well, we were fans of each other at this point, so we decided to trade an album for a book. She got the White Album. I got IT.

She did become a fan of the Beatles, although she likes Paul, and I kinda always liked John. I became a fan of Mr. King and we argue which is better, IT or The Stand. Good thing is, we are still fans of each other in spite of our differences. I may not have ever given any of his stuff a real chance if I had not been prodded along, and I would have missed an awful lot.

I am a short story nut, and I love his short stories. They just do it for me. I also like his older work much more so then his latest stuff. I think that The Long Walk may be my favorite novel, and I believe he wrote that in college. I also like The Gunslinger and the beginning of The Dark Tower series, all written early in his career, like The Stand and IT. There is a rawness, if you will, an abandon which seems to be missing from his later work. The Green Mile and Shawshank Redemption are two others I really like.

I fancy myself a writer, or at the very least, an educated wannabe, and what strikes me about King is his style. The stories are easy to slip into, to be a part of the story. That is what grabs readers and takes them on the journey and that, to me, is good writing. Whether confronting the Walking Dude or Pennywise, both improbable situations, the reader is right there with the characters, and it is believable. That is the magic. That is stuff I strive to do myself and what has made me a fan.

Guest Bloggers Are Coming — Keep an Eye Out!

During one of our chats at The Creative Alliance, one of our members mentioned guest blogging on each other’s sites, which is a great idea because it exposes our readers to new voices.

So the other night I sat down and brainstormed topics to write about with fellow TCA member Patrick. We came up with a pretty cool topic, so we’re excited to share each other’s posts with all of you.

If you are interested in guest blogging, you can reach me at nicole@nicoleireland.com.

Where Do Your Ideas Come From?

Over at The Creative Alliance site, there is a discussion going on about where creativity comes from. Many of us have contributed to the conversation, offering insight into the origins of our own ideas. The sources vary from person-to-person, and it’s always interesting to see what provokes creativity in others.

For me, inspiration comes from all around me. Sometimes an idea will come to me when I’m spending time with my children. In fact, my daughter inspired a series of children’s stories that are based on things she did as a toddler. I’d actually like to see them published one day, but as we all know, that’s easier said than done in these tough economic times when less books are being published.

Another source of inspiration for me is my dreams. There are nights when I go to bed, and I’ll dream about things that are so off the wall and crazy that they inspire short stories that often leave me questioning my own sanity or whether or not I’m receiving ideas from someone else.

I do sometimes feel as though my stories are not my own and that they come from someplace outside of me, like a muse, of sorts. It’s almost as though someone’s channeling ideas into my mind, down through my arms and into my fingertips where I release the idea onto paper or a computer screen. While that may sound a bit kooky to those who don’t write, to those who do, it makes perfect sense, at least for some of us.

I also find inspiration in my own personal teenage experiences. There were aspects of my teenage life that were hard to deal with. I often wondered if I’d make it to adulthood, and as you can see, I did, but not without my share of heartache.

I feel that many of my experiences would inspire younger generations, especially teenagers who are struggling to find themselves and where they fit into this world. So I look inward and find experiences that I’ve had that I could work into a story in some way while delivering a positive message about hope and perseverance.

Some additional ways that I gain inspiration are from observing others and from reading articles from various news outlets. In fact, the first novel I ever wrote was inspired by a murder of a young woman that took place in the town next to mine.

So in closing, my question for all of you is this, where do YOUR ideas come from? Feel free to post them here or you can head over to The Creative Alliance and share with everyone.