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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2019 Year in Review

At the beginning of 2019, I set forth all the goals I had for this year, so now it’s time to reflect and see if I did everything I wanted to. If you’re following any of the posts I’ve made over the year, this might look familiar. If you’ve missed some of these announcements, this post is a handy recap of the content I released in 2019. So, without further ado, here’s the . . . 2019 YEAR IN REVIEW Cinema Connections Having re-released my first trilogy in 2017 and my memoir in 2018, I kept the streak alive this year by publishing my fifth book, Cinema Connections: a never-ending “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon” at the end of September. Here’s an unboxing video for the paperback and hardcover versions: A passion project of mine that’s lasted almost seven whole years, Cinema Connections is the collection of the 400 posts I wrote for my blog of the same name that finished at the end...
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You may already be a writer

About three years ago, I decided that I wanted to take my writing seriously. In 2016, I had a bit of a gap in my self-publishing schedule, having published the Fluxion Trilogy omnibus two years prior. I learned a lot in publishing my first three novels, so this was part of the reason I was taking some time to ensure the future products I published would be of the necessary quality. I was still writing drafts of the books I wanted to write; I just realized it would take longer to get them into polished shape for publication. Since I still wanted to publish the stories I had backlogged, I needed to figure out a schedule where I would release one book a year for the foreseeable future—much like I had done with my first trilogy. This was my definition of taking my writing seriously. Expanding my bibliography of published works every year seemed like an achievable goal, so I started...
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My Love/Hate Relationship with Amazon

As a self-published author, one of the most frequent questions I get is, “Are your books on Amazon?” While some other questions like, “Is it an audiobook?” or, “Can I buy it at my local Barnes and Noble?” are increasing in frequency, the basic fact of the matter is that Amazon rules the online retail platform. Look, I get that people want to get free shipping on a copy of my book and I can’t offer that via any other sales avenue. I understand there’s an amount of trust that goes into buying books on Amazon. After all, that’s how they got their start: selling books. Unfortunately, because Amazon is the ubiquitous place to buy practically everything, some people won’t bother to head to other retailers or online sites to buy a book by a self-published author. For those independent authors who only want to do print-on-demand (POD) paperbacks and/or Kindle eBooks, this is great! I’ll admit that I can purchase...
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When is a manuscript “good enough”?

Just like I was surprised to realize I had been journaling for ten years (now up to 12 years), I’ll be participating in my 10th National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November. It’s weird to think that I’ve written nine books with this challenge over the years, even to the point where I’ve used the experience I’ve gained in doing so to publish other books outside my self-imposed NaNoWriMo publishing cycle (like the Cinema Connections book slated for release this September). Back when I wrote First Name Basis, I was so excited CreateSpace offered me five free proof copies of my book just for finishing the NaNoWriMo challenge. I really wanted that physical copy of the book I had just spent six weeks writing, but I also knew it needed some polishing so I’d be proud of what I had created. I asked some friends to help beta read, and I took their notes and performed a number of edits before finally clicking that “submit”...
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How much should you write?

Writing is my hobby. It is not my full-time job. It is not paying to support my family. Sure, it can make some money on the side, but I generally write to be creative. I have stories and ideas that I want to get onto the page and out to the world. I started writing for fun in college, creating a series of intertwined short stories I wanted to collect into a novel-length book. Nothing ever truly came of these short stories, other than to convince me that they were possible. Then I wrote my first novel. I found it ironic that I didn’t pursue a thesis-based Master’s Degree, but ended up doing nine months of research to write a thesis-length book in roughly six weeks. This was the largest thing I had ever written. Unlike my previous short stories, though, a coupon to get five free proof copies of this book was the impetus I needed to edit and polish...
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Why a book is more than just words

Go over to your bookshelf. Pick up your favorite book and open it up. What do you see? If your only answer is “words,” then take a second look. Flip through a few pages. Now, what do you see? Do you notice that it looks like a book? What do I mean by that? Essentially, all the other elements of page design—besides the words themselves—are what help make a book into what it is. That being said, I’ve seen some issues with self-published books that I feel I need to address. Good design balances negative space. Even though this post is mostly about the design of a book’s interior, the first place to start is with the words themselves. Open up your favorite book again and look at the words. Now, see where there are no words? The indents at the start of paragraphs and the chunks of space to the right of fast-paced dialogue create negative space that helps the reader...
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2019 and Beyond

While December was a good time to look back on all that I accomplished in 2018, now that it's January, it's time to look forward to the future. I have a lot of plates spinning right now, and a lot of manuscripts still waiting for me to edit them. Fortunately, I have plenty of projects that are wrapping up in 2019. Buried Colony 2017's NaNoWriMo novel, Buried Colony (originally titled as Frozen Planet) has gone through three editing passes in 2018 in preparations for one of the most terrifying things I have yet to do with my writing: submitting a manuscript to an agent. That's right! I'm going to spend 2019 pitching this hard sci-fi story to agents in the hope that I can have it be traditionally published in 2020. Since The Martian has helped make hard sci-fi a more viable genre in recent years, I hope that my exploration of how to potentially send humans outside the solar system is met with at...
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2018 Year in Review

It's incredible to think that 2018 is almost over. This year, completed quite a few projects and started many more. In case you've missed some of these announcements, this post is a handy recap of all the content that I released in 2018. So, without further ado, here's the . . . 2018 YEAR IN REVIEW Fourteener Father While 2017 saw the re-release of my first three books in the form of the 2nd Editions of The Fluxion Trilogy, this year I released my fourth book, Fourteener Father: a memoir of life above 14,000 ft. Here's an unboxing video for the paperback and hardcover versions: This book was a labor of love and the first non-fiction book I've written. Over the last 20+ years, my father and I climbed all of Colorado's 14,000-foot mountains, and I wanted to share that experience and journey with everyone. I released this book on Father's Day of this year and have been getting pretty good reviews on it on Amazon. It's...
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