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Kevin G Hare

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The Write Commitment

September 13, 2017

You want to be a writer. Most of us with full time jobs that take up most of our schedules, scratch a spec off the clock to frantically pound out what few words we can before another distraction pulls us away. We don’t seem to understand the level of commitment it takes to truly be a writer.

Distractions are easy to give in to, we’ve all been there. We sit down with the gumption to write something but as we stare at a blank screen, or the last words we scribbled out the last chunk of time we were able to make some progress, some meagre excuse draws our attention away.

Too much light, the dishes aren’t done, forgot to take the steaks out for supper, maybe if I sit on the porch in the fresh air an idea will come to me, I just don’t feel it right now…

If we just had the commitment to momentarily focus on the task at hand, pick up the pen or place our fingers on the keyboard and just start. It’s always hard at first but over time it gets easier, ideas start to flow, the words just come to us and the story begins to tell us what to put on the page. Giving in to the excuses becomes habitual if we let them win but the commitment to the work and the dedication to the craft gets stories completed.

I was giving in to the excuses for a long time. I figured, one day I’ll have a creative spurt and the book will be finished. One day. Years pass with that attitude and I’m here to tell you, you will regret not sitting down and writing it then as opposed to now. I want my full-time occupation to be a writer and when this reality actually sunk in, like the Aha! moment of absolute clarity, I made the connection – I made the commitment to be a writer.

The next steps I took where very important. I redeveloped my author website and dug up as many pieces of anything I ever wrote as I could find and put them on their own page for all to read. I listed my book projects both past, current and upcoming and wow, what an eye opener! Realizing I had books yet to write fanned the flames of creativity. And I added my own blog to spread the word and share what info I have to help everyone else.

Next came the social media posts, a new Facebook page, an update to my Smashwords account; generally re-inventing myself as a writer. The last phase in my commitment was the most crucial, however. I had to understand that I am not an IT Guy who writes, I am a writer who does IT stuff.

That cements the commitment, locks it into your mindset. To be a writer, promote yourself as a writer, convince yourself you are a writer. Don’t convince yourself you don’t have time to write right now, the more you write the easier it is to write. The 'practice, practice, practice' adage fits here, it truly does.

I am more committed to writing than I ever have been. I want to see my projects completed because I love the stories I created and can’t wait to see how they turn out. I want this to be my full time job even if it only pays enough to help with the bills because I’m doing something I love doing every day. If this is where you want to be, find the write commitment in you, that which motivates you to become a writer, not a service tech or cashier or administrative assistant; great jobs to be sure but only temporary if writing is your true passion.

Step out of the shadows and announce yourself as a writer, friends. You’ll be glad you did.

Marketing for Writers

August 16, 2017

Smashwords is a great tool.

A new author will be hard pressed to get any sort of exposure in the writing world without marketing and creating a social presence. Fortunately, these days there are several options for the writer who is not initially thinking of traditional publishers right away. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat... there's a myriad of social media platforms to take advantage of to promote yourself and your work. You should, of course, always start with your own author website.

Your website is your go to source for bio, current projects, upcoming projects, past works, extra stuff, giveaways - anything that will give your viewers something to take away with them, be it as simple as information or a free read for a project you have on the go. Viewers will become steady readers if they become involved in your process much the same way as they become involved with the stories you write.

Aside from a facebook page (an author page, separate from your personal page) and the other media outlets, I would advise getting yourself a Smashwords account. Through Smashwords, you get (for free...) a profile page to feature yourself and your books with direct links to certain social media profiles and your website, instant exposure to other writers and visitors on Smashwords, you get to upload your books where they convert the files into various formats for different platforms and they make your books available for sale in those formats right on the site. As well, they offer an affiliate program so you can list books from the Smashwords library on your site for up to 11% commision. Now I'm thinking, if I make direct contact with other authors here, we set up a shared agreement where I list their books, they list mine - everybody wins and gets shared promotion. That is coopetition!

But this is only one avenue, here are some other sites to check out for tons more info from very qualified people:

www.thecreativepenn.com

www.authormedia.com

www.thebookdesigner.com

 

What's Your Hurry?

June 1, 2017

I get that we writers want to put out book after book to get our names out there, to get noticed, get picked up by a publishing house so we step out into the world and scream, "I made it!". That letter of acceptance from a professional to signify and cement the recognition that you are now an author.

Well, you wrote a book, that makes you an author.

I have spoken with several budding authors and attend regular writers group meetings and the stress is always the same - must finish book fast and send to agent or publishing house to be officially validated as a writer. I have read books, articles and study guides on how to write and be a writer and they all stress the same thing - write, write often and write a lot. Pump out as many words as you can in as short a time frame as you can and someday you will be a writer. And someday may come when a publishing house finds your work worth selling and they take you on, give you some money to entice you but they don't give you any more until they've made back that little teaser. Then they don't give you very much for all your hard work compared to what they take for printing and marketing your name as an author. If your book does well, they will ask you to write more and only give you so much time to finish it so you cage yourself up in your little writing space between the rest of your life and crank out a generic feeling story because you didn't have time to real polish it off the way you envisioned it.

But you can tell people you are a writer, you've earned it.

Honestly, I'm not out to slam the book publishing industry and it's efforts to turn an unfamiliar name into one synonymous with a great story, without them, some of us would never know how to get our work out to the masses let alone actually get our work out to the masses. I just want to point out that the best stories take time, nourishment, development. They need to make mistakes, take a few steps back and try again. They need to grow and take on a life of their own if they are to be a truly great collection of words. Know that you will experience a mental block, take time to mull it over, it may just be your story telling you it's not going in the direction it should be. Keep it in the back of your mind, the right scene will come. Don't beat yourself up about it, just breathe.

My current trilogy is already almost 10 years in the making. I completed the first draft of the first book and scrapped it. Don't be afraid to take that step, it is not nearly as crucial as introducing a sucky story to the public and regretting later that you could have done better. I want it done right and to my liking before I hand it out to everybody else. You handle your writing in a manner that works for you. Find your time to write for that is the only way your book will get done. One factor is true in all of the articles and study guides and books on writing, the more you write the better you get at it, and faster.

So write, don't pressure yourself into a deadline when you're starting out, craft that great story and listen to your instincts. Don't fret about whether or not an agent or house will think you are good enough to validate you as a writer. Believe in your work, work at it to write better and your writing will validate you as an author.

Cheers.

Show, Don't Tell

January 14, 2017

Writing is a fine craft. It’s a constant practice to find the right words to form a complete thought to create that perfect sentence. Writing, to me, is about inviting a reader to step out of their reality for a time and get caught up in my universe. But, in order for them to accept, I need them to become involved in the characters and the story. Emotionally involved.

This is where the real craft begins. How you tell the story is vital for the reader to connect, to become personally attached to what is going on. I believe there is no better way to do that than to let their imagination run away with them. Give them enough information for their mind to create the picture for them without you being caught up in explaining every detail of a particular scene. If they are creating their own image, it’s a sure sign they are getting involved with what is happening. What practice do we writers have at our disposal to do that?

Show them the story, don’t tell it to them.

I have been reading some indie published books lately because that’s the avenue authors are pursuing these days and that’s a great thing but something we will get into in a later post. Indie publishing means you are solely responsible for the credibility of your work. Grammar, sentence structure, plot, character development, 3 act sequence… all up to you to get right or the quality of the editor you pay for. The one thing I haven’t seen in the last couple of books I have read is the ability to show the story to me, the reader. The story was dictated to me in plain English without the embellishment of allowing my imagination to fill in the blanks and visualize the scene on my own terms. I was told how characters responded to situations with ‘-ly’ adverbs instead of the writer describing expressions or body language so I can ‘see’ the response. For example, ‘John gasped shockingly’, does nothing but tell the reader what John did. However, ‘John’s jaw dropped and his brows pulled his eyelids wide as he drew in a gasp,’ shows the reader his reaction and creates a mental picture the reader can hold on to.

Here's another example. The following is the first paragraph from my second novel, Terth Willager Age of Mythology, from 2009 when I was still honing the craft:

Tuthrow Jacob Willager sat in a creaky, wooden chair watching a pink sunrise peak over the horizon of a calm sea. He had not slept that night. There was a tension of excitement within him that would not allow his body to slow down enough to rest. Instead, Tuthrow spent the midnight hours tending to old maps and parchments and remembering how difficult they were to collect. Such stories those would make to future generations he thought.

Simple, a little descriptive, plain. Doesn’t grab your attention as much as it could. Several years later, this is how I may revise it:

Two mountains cradled the rising sun as the first rays peered over the edge onto the face of Tuthrow Jacob Willager. He hadn’t slept that night. He knew, felt it in his bones, this new day he would find it, the great secret that eluded explorers for generations before him but where they had failed, he had succeeded. He sat at a desk, elbows resting on old maps with his grey, bristled chin in his palms as he watched the pink sun rise above its perch. The gentle swaying of the schooner as it glided through the waters roused the moans from its timbers unmatched by the fainter creaks of his own chair.

This is better though maybe not perfect. Already we have a better image of the scene in mind; an elderly gentleman in a period setting, sailing on a boat with old maps and a big secret. Hopefully, just enough information to urge the reader onward into the journey.

Showing your story to the reader and not telling it to them is an advantageous tool to capture your reader’s attention. Give them more and more reasons to stay in your world, create sympathy and empathy for your characters for therein provides the emotional attachment a reader will find difficult to let go. You put a lot of time and effort into your story; write it, rewrite it and rewrite again until even you can’t put it down. That is the best reward you can give to a reader and they will come back for more.

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