How to pivot as a writer

If 2020 has taught me anything, it's how to be flexible. It's quite difficult to predict what will happen in a year, let alone one with such a massive global event like COVID-19. Fortunately, writing is a solitary activity, so writing new stories isn't terribly difficult when I'm forced to stay home. Unfortunately, this pandemic has been such a historical moment that it's difficult to ignore it in anything written in the present day. While I had plans to write a rather dramatic story set in the real world and in present times, I'm now considering moving it out a few years to gain some distance from COVID. Hopefully, this whole mess will be done by the time I start writing this book, and I'll have a bit of hindsight to help mold the characters and plot. So far, I've already gained a few key points that I want to integrate into the story that will certainly be familiar to anyone...
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Pretend Politics

I just turned 35 a few weeks ago. According to the Constitution, since I am a natural-born citizen of the United States, I am now eligible to run for President. With the latest Presidential election upon us, I thought I’d take some time to figure out what I would change if I were running this country. There’s clearly a lot that could use some improvement. One of the challenges of identifying what’s wrong with any situation is how easy it is to focus only on the symptoms instead of the root cause. One of the most memorable television shows I watched growing up was Connections. This PBS show that aired in the mid-1990s would take random objects/themes and show how they are all interrelated. I loved how these elements of “cause and effect” revealed how interconnected our world is. Nothing is truly isolated. As a scientist and writer, I can explore hypothetical situations. Granted, many of these scenarios rely on my knowledge...
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When did the writing begin?

Before this year began, I decided the idiom of “hindsight is 20/20” was an appropriate chance to reflect on the writing I’ve done over the years. While I managed to collect over 200 pages of my written works from the last 20 years in my latest book, The Ascent of the Writer (available today!), my writing “career” started well before then. I’ve never been one to throw away anything I’ve created. My basement has quite a few boxes and cardboard portfolios filled with all the visual art that I made throughout my elementary education. Among the pencil sketches and finger painting, I also managed to keep some of my earliest writings. These go back as far as 1992 when I was in the first grade. Some of my earliest stories were written in 1992. It’s quite a trip down memory lane reading some of these “stories” I wrote back then. I still remember the inspiration for some of them—some of which were just...
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Why I don’t make a living on my writing

Why I don’t make a living on my writing

Writing is my hobby. I have a full-time job, so there is no need for me to make a living on my writing. Since I do it mostly for fun, I’m not too concerned about making money. Most importantly, for tax purposes, writing is my hobby. Sure, I try to run it like a business by keeping track of expenses and sales, but overall I’m not doing much more than breaking even. This is fine. After all, a hobby is usually considered a “money pit” where you don’t expect to get a return on investment other than the pure enjoyment it brings you (think about other hobbies like restoring cars, reading books, or gardening as examples). A few years ago, I received a review request from someone who had written a book. They were self-publishing and admitted that they were currently homeless and that this book (that they had taken over a decade to write) was their only ticket out of...
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An Author’s Online Presence [PART 2/2]

Last month, I wrote about how an author should have some form of an online presence. Engaging with the writing community and potential readers is easy to do when starting out. Social media helps connect people online, so it should be the first place to start when developing a writer brand. Even if a writer hasn’t published anything yet, these profiles help legitimize what they’re trying to do in the off-chance that they do decide to proceed into publication (either self or traditional). And while social media is somewhat “unofficial” in the sense that anyone can sign up and participate in it, there are plenty of self-published authors who are missing out on some “official” portals of information that they can control. These are the places where customers are likely to come to search for information on a particular book or author, so it’s essential to ensure that they look like they’ve been set up instead of having default data displayed. Just...
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An Author’s Online Presence [PART 1/2]

While writing is a solitary activity, it doesn’t have to be in a vacuum. Just like any creative pursuit, there is inevitably a community that develops around it. Fortunately, the barriers to entering the writing community are slim to none. Do you write? Then you’re a part of that community. Even if your local area has a writing group that meets in person, it benefits most writers to connect with an online community. Additionally, if you’re an author trying to communicate with potential readers, your reach will be much broader if you’re involved in the most significant online resource: social media. I understand social media is this huge, terrifying monster for those who either aren’t used to it or are addicted to it. Unfortunately, as an author, a social media presence is vital for connecting with fellow writers and potential readers (some of which are the same people). When it comes down to it, regularly posting content and engaging with the...
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Logic and the Suspension of Disbelief

Fiction writers have the most freedom to write whatever they want. After all, fiction is—by definition—not true. Thus, without the constraints of truth holding them down, fiction writers can write about things that don’t make any sense. This is how the more fantastical genres of science fiction and fantasy can get away with having aliens, dragons, and any other number of crazy things the author can think up. While fiction doesn’t have to hold to the tenets of truth, there is one fundamental foundation needed for this—or any other—writing. That foundation is logic. Even if readers can accept a world that has faster-than-light travel or a ring that can make its wearer invisible, if there isn’t a logic supporting these claims, the reader will begin to doubt the world the writer has created. The second that doubt creeps in, disbelief isn’t far behind. A hole in logic is a hole in the plot. Because there’s no need to write factual things in fiction,...
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The List of Best Movies

The List of Best Movies

Anyone who has met me and talked to me for any considerable amount of time will know that I like movies. This love of cinema started in high school but blossomed in college. While I was in college, I decided to watch through the American Film Institute (AFI) top 100 movie lists. I found many classics had become my favorites in this process. After graduating, I then set out and watched all the movies that had won the Oscar for Best Picture. This was slightly less inspiring, as there were some obvious snubs over the Academy Awards’ almost 100-year history. When I moved back to Colorado, I picked up a copy of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die when a nearby Borders Bookstore was going out of business. This was an eclectic list, but it gave me the best quote when it comes to listing out the “best” movies. I’m paraphrasing somewhat, but it basically said, “Sometimes you...
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Answers to a new writer’s FAQ

Nobody is born proficient in anything. We all have to start somewhere when it comes to learning new skills. Sure, there might be a prodigy or two out there, but instances of individuals with extreme natural talent are rare. Writing is just like any other skill. Nobody starts out knowing everything about it or how to do it. Consequently, I’ve seen a lot of the same questions pop up in online forums from new writers who are just trying to get a handle on this skill. Some are trying to improve, but many don’t know what they don’t know and seem to ask some fairly basic questions. Since I’ve recently realized I’ve been a published writer for over a decade, I thought I could shed some light on some frequently asked questions (FAQs) that I’ve seen from numerous new writers. Q: I want to write X. Should I write it? The addendum to this question is usually, “It’s already been done before.”...
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2020, Looking Forward

It’s always nice to see everything I accomplished, and December was a good time for that. However, with resolutions hot in my mind, here’s what I have planned for 2020. There are plenty of projects that I want to see coming to fruition, so this post is to help keep me accountable this year. Buried Colony Despite no agents having an interest in the hard science fiction manuscript I wrote for 2017’s NaNoWriMo, I still plan to self-publish this book in the coming months. As I see the advancements in technology happening right now, I know I need to get this book out as soon as possible. I need to show how viable it can be to get humans out of our solar system with current technology (and slightly refined advanced technology) in the next 15 years or so. Since there are some final edits that need to take place, I haven’t picked a release date quite yet. Just know that it...
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