The Benefits of Fanfiction

Anyone who has consumed a significant amount of media can tell you that there are no original ideas. Most stories merely borrow ideas from their predecessors. The fact that most stories can be categorized into a handful of core concepts proves that everything has already been done before. And yet, people keep writing stories. Part of what makes a story original is how it mixes its influences to create something new, even if the foundation is recycled. Then, there's fanfiction. Some stories are told so well that the characters and settings are adopted wholesale into a different author's new work. While this form of creative writing could be considered intellectual property theft (especially if the stories are sold without consent from the original creator), it can be used as a stepping stone for writers who want to improve their craft. Alternatively, experienced writers can find the weak spots in famous stories and re-write them to fix plot holes and character inconsistencies....
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Traditional Publishing is Bizarre

The dream of many writers is to be traditionally published. There is a certain amount of clout that comes with having a manuscript printed by a company that is in the business of publishing books. There is a validation when an author’s book is distributed to brick and mortar bookstores like Barnes and Noble. I understand the appeal, but the more I learn about modern traditional publishing, the more I find it antiquated and bizarre. Is traditional publishing behind the times? For personal reasons, I have decided to exclusively pursue self-publishing as my venue for distributing my stories. While this is in part due to my realization that I can’t make a living off my writing—and thus why I pursue it as a hobby—I’ve dipped my toe in enough of the process and discussed it with other lesser-known authors who have successfully done it to realize that it’s somewhat stuck in the past. Here are three things about traditional publishing that I...
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2021 Has All the Fun

2021 Has All the Fun

Another year, another set of writing goals. 2021 will be a bit different in that I've already been hard at work getting things prepared for publication—or merely fixing up the project that I delayed from last year. Either way, I do plan to continue my goal of self-publishing at least one book each year. With most conventions postponed or canceled this year, I'll certainly have time to sit down and work on these projects. Buried Colony Despite the setback I had last year, I still plan on self-publishing Buried Colony as soon as possible (before it becomes a reality). I'll be re-working the parts that need attention in January and will get a few beta readers to check my work before proceeding with the advanced reader copies again. Fortunately, a lot of formatting and design has already been completed, so it's really just the content that needs some polishing before publication. I also hope to release this as one of the first...
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The Hindsight of 2020

As the saying goes, "hindsight is 20/20." This year has been a bit challenging and different from past years due to the pandemic. I didn't have nearly as many opportunities to go to conventions since they were all canceled or delayed to future years. While staying at home would have provided me with plenty of opportunities to write, I have also learned that having an infant daughter is a challenge that I had not accounted for in my plans. Regardless of these challenges, I managed to complete at least a few things in 2020, based on the goals I set forth at the beginning of the year. Let's see how I did in this year's... 2020 YEAR IN REVIEW The Ascent of the Writer (Ironed Man / The Last Immortal) In part due to the "hindsight" saying, I decided this year to go back and collect together all the little bits of writing I had written over the last 20 years. The result...
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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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