How Not Tetris explains my planning process

I’m a planner. Ever since I wrote my first novel in 2010, I’ve usually had many different story ideas tucked away in their own Word documents. Each time a new idea comes to me that would apply to one of these stories, I open up the document and jot it down so I won’t forget about it. Even though I plan my writing projects out years in advance, there are usually plenty of ideas I never use in the finished manuscript. Either the flow of the story prevents their use, or I find they aren’t as strong as I initially thought they were. While I’m not nearly as fastidious about collecting ideas together before starting a project as I used to be (First Name Basis had 35 pages of notes), I do continue to plan and research well ahead of when I finally sit down and write the first draft. There are plenty of ideas I never use. Recently, I’ve re-discovered a free...
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What it takes to do it all

There are days I see the benefits of going with the traditional publishing route. When you are signed on with a publisher, they provide some of the hard work it takes to make a manuscript into a polished and publishable product. From editors to formatters to cover artists to distribution, these publishers have the resources to help an author be successful. But what about the self-published author? One of the common misconceptions about being an author (especially a self-published one) is that we only have to write. In reality, a self-published author needs to perform the entirety of the publishing process by themselves. Now, you may be asking yourself, “OK, you have to do it all, but what does that even mean?” Let’s start at the beginning of the process, and I’ll walk you through it. If you want to self-publish, you have many jobs to do. Many of the most famous authors have a research department (or person). These are the people...
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How traveling improves your writing

With the invention of the internet and the ease of access to an endless supply of research materials, practically every aspect of the writing process can occur on a home computer. We all know the cliché of the writer who holes themselves up in their house and spends days upon days in a disheveled state writing their book. While I always encourage writers to get out of their house and write somewhere else once in a while (especially when they have writer’s block), many successful writers have found what works for them, and it often involves a routine centered on making themselves the most productive they can be. Depending on their home situation, they could very well spend most of their time writing from the comfort of their favorite desk or table. Unfortunately, a limitation of spending so much of the writing process indoors is that some of the best research needs to happen in the field. One of the best...
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1890: A San Francisco Steampunk Treat

One of the genres I have not had a lot of experience writing is that of steampunk. However, when I was given a lead to a short story anthology with the theme of “steampunk heroes”, an idea immediately came to mind. Of course, with this genre being new to my repertoire, I had quite a bit of research to do in order to meet the theme and genre requirements. For those who are unaware, the steampunk genre has many interpretations, but in general it focuses on advanced technologies brought about by the industrial revolution in the Victorian era. What this boils down to is a lot of gears, brass, corsets, top hats, steam, and the color brown infused into the story’s setting and accouterments. Many consider steampunk to be a sub-set of historical fiction because of its known timeframe (the aforementioned Victorian era). Consequently, historical accuracy can help to make the story believable, even if it has certain technological advances well...
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Nuclear Pasta

As a writer who tries to be "surreptitiously educational", one of the tenets of my fictional works is that the science in them is at least somewhat realistic to how things work in the real world. Granted, they are still works of fiction, but I want there to be just enough of a scientific reality to them that my readers' interest would be piqued enough that they might learn these scientific concepts are at play in our universe. Consequently, I don't mind using Wikipedia as one of my sole sources for research. One of the problems with using Wikipedia for my writing research is the tangential research that ends up being added to the singular topic I wanted to learn about. This, in turn, leads to me wanting to include more and more interesting scientific concepts in my writing. In my first set of books, The Fluxion Trilogy, I tried to cram too many references into each one of them, a...
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