Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 26-March 4, 2017

Ah, another lovely batch of informal writerly learnings for you 🙂

K.M. Weiland: the lazy writer’s six-question guide to writing an original book. Helping Writers Become Authors

Kathryn Craft shares seven ways to get rich from writing (it’s not quite what you think). Writers in the Storm

What a sensitivity reader is and how to hire one. Natalia Sylvester guest posts on Writer Unboxed.

Julia Munroe Martin tells us how to get by with a little help from our (writer) friends. Writer Unboxed

Sarah McCoy: a hard change will do you good. Writer Unboxed

Donald Maass says, impossible odds for everyone! WriterUnboxed

Jo Eberhardt: how to (not) overcome fear. Writer Unboxed

Laura Drake: the angels are in the details. Writers in the Storm

Chris Winkle lists twelve traits that help create loveable heroes. Mythcreants

Oren Ashkenazi examines five great characters from horrible shows. Mythcreants

Chuck Wendig never fails to crack me up (while sharing awesome advice). A very good list of vital writing advice—do not ignore! Terribleminds

Jenna Moreci: how to outline your novel, part 1.

 

Angela Ackerman shares the news about the new worldbuilder tool on One Stop for Writers. Looks amazing. Writers Helping Writers

This feels weird, but also awesome. I’m curating myself! Why I write speculative fiction. DIYMFA

Bess Cozby embarks on an experiment in minimalism. DIYMFA

Gabriela Pereira interviews Dale Wiley for DIYMFA radio.

Michelle Chalkey shares five benefits of aromatherapy for writers. DIYMFA

Ruth Harris examines stress and burnout, how they’re different, and why it’s important to know the difference. Anne R. Allen’s blog

Dr. Jena Barchas-Lichtenstein asks us to, um, stop demonizing filler words. Quartz

Check out this year’s Latitude 46 line up. The North Bay Nugget

Stephanie Convery reports on Ali Cobby Eckermann, the unemployed, indigenous poet who just won the $215,000 Windham-Campbell Award. The Guardian

George Saunders: what writers really do when they write. The Guardian

Zen Pencils: Stephen King’s desk.

Hillel Italie: Ursula K. Le Guin among authors inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. SFGate

George Gene Gustines interviews Ta-Nehisi Coates about creating black superheroes. The New York Times

Don Pittis: machine intelligence lessons from science fiction. CBC

Swapna Krishna pits science against The Expanse: is it possible to colonize our solar system? Tor.com

Genevra Littlejohn critiques Iron Fist. The Learned Fangirl

If you liked the movie Arrival, Phil Plait wants a (single) word with you. Blastr

In the latest Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 trailer, Peter gets to meet his dad. Katharine Trendacosta for i09.

And that’s it until next week!

But you can always come back on Thursday for a little thoughty 😉

tipsday2016

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 19-25, 2016

I have no idea where all this came from. It was a bountiful week for Writerly Goodness.

Julie Glover guest posts on Jami Gold’s blog: four steps to break grammar rules with style.

Anne Janzer guest posts on Jane Friedman’s blog: how to create an internal mindset conducive to writing.

Barbara O’Neal conducts an experiment in fostering creative flow. Writer Unboxed.

When you don’t want to write: Heather Webb on Writer Unboxed.

Joanna Penn discusses how to banish writer’s block with K.M. Weiland. The creative Penn.

How to plot a book: start with the antagonist. K.M. Weiland’s Helping writers become authors. Later in the week: how (not) to write satisfying action scenes. More lessons from the Marvel Universe movies.

Jami Gold wonders why “unlikable” can be a deal breaker for readers.

MJ Bush offers her keen insight into writing the perfect flaw. Writingeekery.

Dave King explores the work of a master for Writer Unboxed: Jaime Lannister and sympathetic monsters.

Kayla Dean explains how to use story archetypes to subvert expectations. DIYMFA.

DIYMFA radio, episode 100: Unleash your storytelling superpower with Gabriela Pereira.

C.S. Lakin takes a look at the first turning point in your novel. Live, write, thrive.

Chris Winkle offers three painless ways to patch plot holes. Mythcreants.

Jamie Raintree delves into the process of overcoming the emotional obstacles to a writing career. Writers in the Storm.

Five good ideas science fiction teaches us to fear. Oren Ashkenazi for Mythcreants.

Katherine Langrish shares some thoughts on writing meaningful fantasy. Tor.com

Women at WorldCon

 

Dan Blank: celebrate the arts where you live. Writer Unboxed.

Janet Reid lists the reasons she rejected 25 queries so you can avoid them. She later confesses: so I didn’t get it right the first time . . .

Sarah Negovetich: it’s not you, it’s really not.

Jonny Gellar’s Ted Talk: What makes a bestseller?

 

This is a weird story from the MFA world. Steven Galloway, chair of UBC’s creative writing program, was fired after an investigation, but under mysterious circumstances. Nobody’s willing to say exactly why. I think anyone reading the articles can infer, but . . . I’ll let y’all judge for yourselves.

Susan Spann explores the legal side of writing for anthologies. Writer Unboxed.

The Active Voice shares the story of Pauline Creeden, who lost her Amazon publishing account through no fault of her own.

Sadness. Lois Duncan died on June 15th at the age of 82. I loved her books. Publishers Weekly.

Jim C. Hines writes about racism and the backlash against black Hermione.

Cory Doctorow revisits Writing the Other, intensely practical advice for representing other cultures in fiction. BoingBoing

The Witch explores America’s essential fear of female power. Dianca Potts for Lenny.

Brainpickings presents Virginia Woolf’s thoughts on the connection between loneliness and creativity.

She-Ra and the fight against the token girl. Maria Teresa Hart for The Atlantic.

Publishers Weekly: Fall 2016 adult announcements in SF, fantasy, and horror.

Indie presses are starting bookstores. Jon Sealy for Literary Hub.

Chemistry explains why old books smell so good. Robin Burkes for Tech Times.

The short film, The Birch, may be creepy, but I think it’s rather heart rending warming 🙂 Rebekah McKendry for BlumHouse.com

James Whitbrook shares Geroge R.R. Martin and Stephen King in conversation: how the fuck to you write so fast? i09. Watch the whole talk. It’s awesome.

Who’s afraid of female Ghostbusters? Dave Itzkoff interviews the cast for The New York Times.

Michael Livingston gets medieval on Game of Thrones’ ‘battle of the bastards.’ Tor.com

Entertainment Weekly shares a sneak peek of the actors who will play Roger and Brianna on Outlander.

Exhausted? I am.

Until Thursday *waves*

Tipsday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, August 16-22, 2015

Blissfully back to normal!

And Mom’s surgery went wonderfully, thanks.

Now, on to the Writerly Goodness:

Are you protagonist and your main character the same person? K.M. Weiland explains how the answer could transform your story.

The Pixar way to think about conflict in your story. Katie’s weekly vlog.

Chuck Wendig shares his writing process and invites us to share ours. Terribleminds.

He also smells our rookie moves . . . and tells us how we can avoid them.

Marcy Kennedy guest posts on Jami Gold’s blog on the topic of internal dialogue and three story problems it can help us address.

How to become a bestselling, full-time novelist—it’s so easy! Dan Blank takes a facetious look at becoming an overnight success as an author on Writer Unboxed.

Stephen Kings asks, can a novelist be too productive? The New York Times.

Jeff Bollow’s how to write FAST. By the way, that’s an acronym. It’s not about speed or productivity.

Leta Blake highlights diversity in the LGBTQ community for Writer Unboxed.

The Rabbit Box: a strange and wonderful storybook for grownups. Brainpickings.

Neil Gaiman explains why our future depends on libraries, reading, and daydreaming. The Guardian.

Dylan Landis shares her experience with grief and how it affected her. The New York Times.

The BBC talks to Verlyn Flieger, who helped to bring J.R.R. Tolkein’s Kullervo to print.

R.F. Foster on Yeats, faeries, and the Irish occult tradition:

Flavorwire shares this list of 50 books for 50 classes—a curriculum on your bookshelf.

Who won the Hugos and why it matters. Wired.

Noah Berlatsky chimes in with this take on women authors in SF and the Hugo controversy for Playboy.

Gary K. Wolfe writes about it in the Chicago Tribune, as well.

Takeaway of the week: It doesn’t matter whether your write fast or slow, full-time or part-time, only that you write. Don’t go comparing your work or process to anyone else’s. You are you and your novel is something only you could have created. Value yourself and your time.

So get writing.

And we’ll see you in two days.

Tipsday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, August 2-8, 2015

This was the big controversy this week: Homme de Plume (now in convenient hashtag #hommedeplume). One woman author queries using a male name and gets more requests for partials and fulls than when using her name.

Canadian author, Marie Bilodeau responds.

Kameron Hurley offers a reality check on the necessity and nature of writing with a day job.

Then Chuck Wendig posted this: Starving is a terrible condition for making art.

Most common writing mistakes, part 43: Too many exclamation points! K.M. Weiland, Helping writers become authors.

Show, don’t tell, matters in foreshadowing, too. Katie’s Wednesday vlog.

Christine Frazier looks at five kinds of societies for your novel on The Better Novel Project.

Donald Maass discusses how to write about unnameable emotions on Writer Unboxed.

Elizabeth Stephens introduces us to the #weneeddiversebooks hashtag on Writer Unboxed.

Veronica Sicoe writes about how perfectionism is murdering your muse.

Stephen King shares 22 lessons on how to be a great writer on The Business Insider.

John Scalzi shares his creative process on lifehacker.

Catherine Ryan Howard answers the question, how many drafts did you do?

Chris Winkle discusses the process of troubleshooting when you’re stuck. Mythcreants.

Can a virtuous character be interesting? The New York Times.

22 authors, including K.M. Weiland and Roz Morris, share their greatest writing challenges. Become a Writer Today.

A genre takes flight: Science Fiction. The Library Journal. The good news: epic fantasy still sells. The bad news: the dark stuff, not so much . . .

Tor.com shares 20 time travel classics.

Ten Old English insults that could be band names. Anglophenia.

Geekster Ink Shares twenty images of women in practical armour.

Tipsday

The Red Band Deadpool trailer is def NSFW.

Tipsday will be beck next Tuesday with more Writerly Goodness.

Wordsmith Studio Homecoming 2015: What are you reading?

For the best effect, please read the headline of this post with an incredulous tone 😉

WSS Homecoming 2015

1) What are you reading?

Just like I work on multiple project in my writing, I read multiple books, both ebooks and print, cause I kind of have this problem. I can’t stop buying books of any variety (!)

So here’s my current reading list:

  • 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. Although I’m sure it suffers in translation, I’m enjoying this novel immensely.
  • InFusion by Scott Overton. I’m beta reading this SF novel for an author friend. I’ll save my specific feedback for him, but, just so you know, I think it’s great 🙂
  • The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. On finding your calling. It’s kind of serendipitous that I found out about this book back in January.
  • Moon Called by Patricia Briggs. I picked this up last year after seeing Patricia at Ad Astra. I figured I should get off my butt and read it . . .
  • Pain, Porn, and Complicity by Kathleen McConnell. An academic work on SF&F movies and television series. It’s been a while since I dipped my toes in that particular non-fiction pool.
  • Lock In by John Scalzi. I’m listening to this on Audible. Narrated by the inimitable Wil Wheaton.

2) What was your favorite read in the last year (or month, or…)?

My favourite reading of recent recall is A Turn of Light by Julie Czerneda. I rated it five stars, though I haven’t written a proper review. Yet. This is the kind of fantasy novel I love to read. It’s also the kind I write and there were a lot of similarities between Czerneda’s Jenn Nalynn and Ferrathainn Devlin, the protagonist from my WIP. I was enthralled to the end 🙂

3) Do you have a favorite genre?

Yes and no. I favour fantasy novels of any age range, but I also read science fiction, historical fiction, the classics, mysteries, and romance novels (though I must say I haven’t read many of those recently). I try to alternate fiction and non-fiction reading, as well. Again, most on my non-fiction reads tend to be writing craft books, but I also read as a form of research for my various works in progress, and sometimes, stuff that I’m just interested in. I learn something from everything I read, even if I don’t particularly enjoy the book. In other words, I read as a writer.

4) Bend one step further: are there alternative forms of writing or art that you have found inspiring or even dabbled in?

In my “searching” phase of university (the undeclared years) I majored in music and art at different times. Performance anxiety put the brakes on my music career, though I still love to sing. I was summarily drummed out of art class when my professor called me nothing more than an “illustrator.” From time to time, I still sketch, but I’ve honestly never been very good. I’ve sunk all my creativity into my writing for a number of years now. In 2000, I did the crazy, being in between jobs, and auditioned for a Theatre Cambrian production of Hair (Y2K). I sang and danced in that, for what it’s worth 😉

6) Back to your main inspiration: Do you have “mentor” titles for the writing you are working on?

I’ll reframe this in terms of “comps,” or comparative works. As I mentioned above, I learn something from every book I read, so I don’t have any “mentor” titles, per se, though I would identify several novels/authors whose work I aspire to.

  • The above-mentioned Julie Czerneda and her A Turn of Light. I’ve committed to read more by Julie.
  • Juliet Marillier’s Celtic legend inspired Seven Waters series.
  • Guy Gavriel Kay’s novels. Though he writes in a created world, it is based on painstaking historical research. I’m not that dedicated, but I love the stories he writes. He’s actually made me cry in the reading.
  • Sherri S. Tepper. Just anything she writes. I love her ideas. Or should I say lurve?

6) If you didn’t already do this for #4, what music inspires your writing?

Okay, now you’re going crazy. Or you will if I offer up all 963 songs on my iPod (!) Suffice it to say that any music I like is generally something I’ll add to my playlist. I have music from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and the new millennium. I like some pop, a lot of alternative, celtic, and world music. I also have more eclectic selections on CD: The Rites of Spring, Satie’s gymnopedies, The Symphonie Fantastique, Carmina Burana, Gregorian chant, a number of Sequentia recordings (including the Eddas), gamelan music, Tibetan singing bells, shakuhachi flute music . . .

My favourite artists (I’ll pick up just about anything they release):

  • Imogen Heap
  • Tori Amos
  • Sarah Slean
  • Florence + the Machine

7) Have you ever thought of this: what book is your main character reading?

Interesting question. I’ll even answer it.

  • Ferathainn Devlin: Sadly, all of Fer’s reading would be studying for her forthcoming initiation, so all of it would be history, scholarly works on magic, or non-fiction works on herbs and simples, astronomy, and the like.
  • Charlene Kalveras: School textbooks, and, because of what’s happened to her father, true crime.
  • Gerod: Owing to his impoverished upbringing in an environment of medieval feudalism, Gerod doesn’t know how to read. He learns, though.
  • Marushka: She hasn’t had any formal schooling, hopping around the world in a magical hut, so she’s had to teach herself everything. She steals books from libraries and reads omnivorously.

8) Do you have a favorite book, article or magazine for writing advice?

Again, I have several 🙂

  • Writing the 21st Century Novel, Donald Maass. Currently on loan to a member of my critique group. Actually all of Maass’s books have helped me immensely.
  • Any of K.M. Weiland’s writing craft books.
  • Any of Roz Morris’s Nail Your Novel series.
  • And the books that have helped me find my way to the writing life: Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind and Writing Down the Bones; Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write; Heather Sellers’ Page After Page and Chapter After Chapter; Stephen King’s On Writing; Terry Brooks’s Sometimes the Magic Works; Jane Yolen’s Take Joy; and Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Wave in the Mind.

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Alrightie, then!

I’ll have a wee Sundog snippet tomorrow about miscellaneous stuff, ‘cause sometimes you need miscellaneous stuff, you know?

Muse-inks

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 18-24, 2015

Roz Morris with more tales from her masterclasses for The Guardian. This week, your inner horse, johari windows, and finding your character’s true nature.

K.M. Weiland on “on the nose” dialogue, how to recognize it, and how to remedy it.

In her weekly vlog, Katie discovers the one common element in all the books she loves. Want to make sure you have it? Watch and learn.

After a lengthy pause, MJ Bush posts about how to know your character deeply in one step: the back door. Writingeekery.

I have a writer-crush on Chuck Wendig because he writes bad-ass stuff like this: 25 ways to be a bad-ass maker who makes bad-ass stuff.

Dave King writes about forthwringing tonguishness, or, why English is such a mutt language, on Writer Unboxed.

Dan Blank answers the question: why bother with email newsletters? Writer Unboxed.

Christine Frazier of The Better Novel Project interviewed on the writing education, technology (WET) podcast.

 

Writing is self-hypnosis from Stephen King:

 

Four plots structures you want to avoid. The New Yorker.

Fabulous bookshelves brought to you by BookBub. My faves? Nine and nineteen.

Why season three of Orphan Black is going to be even crazier. The Nerdist. Yeah, it’s a TV show, but damnit, it’s also great storytelling.

The Guardian. 20 previously unknown Pablo Neruda poems discovered in Chile.

It was a lovely week for writerly goodness.

Enjoy, my friends.

Tipsday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Sept 14-20, 2014

I’ve an interesting variety this week.

How to use rewards and punishments to encourage your character to change, by K.M. Weiland.

Katie shares how she learned to write on her Wednesday vlog.

How to plot your novel with mini arcs. Janice Hardy’s Fiction University.

Marcy Kennedy guests on Fiction University, writing about ways to save money on editing.

Jamie Raintree asks, why are you really stuck on your novel? On Thinking Through our Fingers.

Roz Morris discovered that the pebble phone she conceived of for Lifeform Three, is a little closer to becoming a reality.

How Stephen King teaches writing, by Jessica Lahey for The Altantic.

Eight authors who experienced their biggest successes after 50. BookRiot. Take comfort. I did 🙂

Janna Marlies Maron shares how she used writing to heal her depression without taking drugs on Jeff Goins’s blog.

The real link between the psychopathology spectrum and the creativity spectrum. Scientific American.

How Jane Friedman recovered from three years of chronic back pain. It’s an injury that visits most authors at one point or another.

i09 shares 10 lessons from real-life lessons revolutions that fictional dystopias ignore.

Landmarks of feminism in science fiction, from The Cut.

Obsession and madness mark the best episode of Doctor Who in years. Polygon. Not sure if I agree with this assessment. I think I’m still warming up to Capaldi. Mind you, it’s the best episode so far this season.

Good words at you, my friends.

See you Thursday!

Tipsday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the Interwebz March 16-22, 2014

TipsdayAway from home this week and free wifi is slooooow.

I’d just posted about seasonal affective disorder (SAD) myself when Lydia Sharp posted this to Writer Unboxed:
http://writerunboxed.com/2014/03/16/seasonal-writing-disorder/

On the changing role of agents and new submission guidelines from Anne R. Allen’s blog (with the fabulous Pam Van Hylckama Vlieg):
http://annerallen.blogspot.ca/2014/03/the-changing-role-of-literary-agents.html

Part 6 of K.M. Weiland’s Creating Stunning Character Arcs series:
http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/2014/03/character-arcs-6.html

Two from Elissa Field. Is teaching a good day job for a writer? http://elissafield.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/writers-day-job-is-teaching-a-good-day-job-for-writers/ and Friday Links for writers 03.14.14 http://elissafield.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/friday-links-for-writers-03-14-14-quirky-info-sources/

Hey, who says I can’t curate the curators?

And here’s a third for good measure: novel revision strategies: http://elissafield.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/novel-revision-strategy-retyping-the-novel-draft/

The science of emotion in marketing. The article speaks to me more of braiin science and the power of story.
http://blog.bufferapp.com/science-of-emotion-in-marketing

Improve your vocabulary.
http://justenglish.me/2014/03/10/important-infrequently-used-words-to-know/

Stephen King’s top 20 rules for writers, ‘cause you know, we can never break too many of them 😛
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/stephen-kings-top-20-rules-for-writers/

Agent Carly Watters explains what she looks for when she Googles a prospective client.
http://carlywatters.com/2014/03/17/q-what-do-agents-like-to-see-when-they-google-writers/

Roz Morris on the dangers of over-dependence on your thesaurus.
http://nailyournovel.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/bring-on-the-empty-horses-handle-synonyms-with-care/

The neurological similarities between writers and the mentally ill. Get your critical thinking caps on people.
http://thoughtcatalog.com/cody-delistraty/2014/03/the-neurological-similarities-between-successful-writers-and-the-mentally-ill/

5 charts that show how publishing is changing from Jane Friedman.
http://janefriedman.com/2014/03/21/5-valuable-charts/

5 insightful writing tips from Paul Harding.
http://publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/tip-sheet/article/60070-5-writing-tips-paul-harding.html

5 reasons your platform may be spinning its wheels from Michael Hyatt.
http://michaelhyatt.com/traction.html

WOW! Did I find a lot of good stuff on the interwebz last week or what?

That’s the thing with me. Sometimes, I’ll be all over that. Sometimes I won’t. This week, for instance, being on the road, I don’t think will be very productive for the linkage. We shall see.

And this is me, saying goodnight.

Six questions with J.R. Cameron

John Cameron

John Cameron

I’ve never understood why it’s become common practice to write the author bio in the 3rd person. John R. Cameron lives in Sudbury, Ontario. If you’re taking the time to read my bio, isn’t it because you’re essentially interviewing me for a chance to be a part of your life for a short while?

Hi. I’m John.

I have a wife and a kid. They often drive me to the brink of madness; not a difficult thing to do, considering how close to the edge I already am. My daughter is a hellion. At the age of six, she’s both bright and bold, obstinate, and pushes every button I have. My wife blames my genetics: “I was never like that,” she claims. I deny it, despite knowing that I was also an uncontrollable child.

I’m thirty, and a teacher. I’m very worried about the current state of education. I’m concerned about the future, in general. I don’t think we all necessarily need to be alarmists, though I do believe that if you look at the world around you and aren’t a little worried, you and I probably aren’t going to agree on much. (Don’t worry, I’ll pretend not to look while you navigate elsewhere. There’s plenty of other entertainment online. Crushing Candy, and so forth…)

_______________________________________________________________________

WG: When did writing first come into your life (or vice versa)?  Give us the origin story of John Cameron, Superhero Writer.

JRC:        I’ve been an avid reader my entire life. I was one of those people who sat around saying, “I’m going to write a book one day,” but just never got around to it. I can’t claim that I couldn’t have found the time. I’d be lying if I did. I’ve pissed away a solid three decades of my life. Over the past few years, it’s like the thoughts running through my mind have turned into a constant third person narrative. We’ll call it the ‘itch’, I suppose. I realized the day was coming when I’d open a Word file, and start typing. I just didn’t know when that day would come, or what I’d be writing about. Until this past winter, I’d never made any attempt at a serious literary endeavour.

WG: What was the idea that became The Second Lives of Honest Men and how did it occur to you?

JRC:        In December of 2011, I walked away from a terrible car crash. This was only because of blind luck, or fate, or whatever you’d like to call it. I slammed into a guard rail doing 100 kilometres an hour, backwards. I was pushing it – trying to get home on the first snowy day of winter, before the roads got worse. I rounded a bend, and low and behold, that stretch of road was worse. I fishtailed back and forth over the slush, trying to correct my course. It was a hopeless effort, and I quickly lost control. I clutched the steering wheel and braced myself against the seat, preparing for the inevitable. I blew out seven posts of the short, twenty post rail, coming to a dead stop in the middle of the highway. It was the only guard rail on that side of the kilometre long stretch.

I could have hit one of the many rock cuts, or been flung into the deep, stony valley between the East and Westbound lanes. Instead, I momentarily laughed off my good fortune while I waited for a tow truck. I even went bowling that night. When you walk away from an accident like that, the implications of ‘what if?’ begin encroaching on your soul. The harder you try not to think about it, the more the darkness grips you. I eventually came to terms with what mortality really is, and what it really means. I spent the better part of 2012 in a deep apathy, as I began seeing a lot of things in an entirely new light. I questioned how I’d been interpreting the world around me, and what my role was in it. In October of 2012, I was watching television with a good friend while we discussed the problems of society; how the moral compass seemed to be broken. An advertisement for Spielberg’s Lincoln came on during a commercial break. I made an off-hand remark, something to the effect of, “Maybe that’s what we need – Honest Abe to travel through time, and come fix things.” The idea was one I simply couldn’t shake. A premise, characters, and a rough plot formed in my head over the next few weeks. When I had enough pieces of the puzzle, I opened up the Word file and set to work.

WG: How long has it taken to take The Second Lives of Honest Men from idea to finished manuscript?  Can you give us some idea of your drafting or revision process in your response?

JRC:        My first draft took me seven weeks, working on it 8-10 hours a day, often more. I think the word is ‘obsessed.’ Once I felt that it was reasonably polished, I printed ten copies, and brought it to my first group of beta-readers. A month later, I met with each of the readers, gathering honest, critical feedback. After this process, I had a pretty good feel for what the book was lacking, and had some ideas how to improve it. I made several major changes to a couple of characters, altered some aspects of the plot, and narrative… It was a fairly extensive edit, that added about 6,000 words to the manuscript. I brought the second draft to a Philosophy professor and a History professor, both of whom were very encouraging, and willing to offer more great feedback. The third draft was a less exhausting revision than my second one was, and it saw its way to several more professors (three English professors and another History professor), and to many other people in my life. Again, all the feedback was extremely positive, and the additional advice was also great. One of the English professors convinced me to do two things: Write a fourth draft to fix a few lingering problems, and hire a professional editor. I’d hoped to avoid the latter. He made the case that no matter how good the book was, ‘Even Stephen King has an editor.’ That’s a rather humbling statement if ever there was one. So, I wrote the fourth draft, and had it professionally edited.

WG: When you mentioned your genre to me, you admitted that it sounded convoluted.

Writerly Goodness challenge time!

Imagine I am a high-powered literary agent, like Kristin Nelson, Janet Reid, or Donald Maass.  If I told you I could negotiate you a six-figure advance if you could nail down your genre, what would you say?

JRC: I always try to explain it like this: If you asked George Orwell what genre 1984 fell into, I seriously doubt the answer he would have given is “Science Fiction.” (Or, like me, he simply cringed whenever he was asked the question.) That’s the genre we typically associate with his novel, however; that is, the genre that our culture has branded it with through the passing of time. My book (should anyone ever care enough to define it) will undoubtedly be classified as science fiction. Like 1984, it’s set in an urban dystopia. I tried to use only as much science fiction as necessary to carry the plot, and have been relentless in making that aspect of the book accessible to readers of all genres. Personally? I think of The Second Lives of Honest Men as a character driven, philosophical odyssey that touches on technology, truth, freedom, hope, and redemption.

*Sigh.* I’m not getting that advance, am I?

WG: All kidding aside, you’ve opted for self-publishing over a traditional publishing deal.  Why have you chosen that route?

JRC:        Several reasons. I feel that my book is very relevant to today’s world, and the problems which we’re facing as a society. I’ve seen so many authors who try to go the traditional route, and they often end up disappointed, jaded with the system, and their hard work sits on a shelf (or in a file) for years. Eventually, they simply give up on it, the moment of ‘now’ having passed them by. I can only imagine how many great books have been written by authors who never saw their work get published. I don’t want to be one of them.

Over the past five years, the traditional publishing model has been flipped upside down. E-book sales represent about 30% of the market, a number that’s sure to climb as people continue to shun paper, using digital formats instead. The big traditional publishers won’t look at newcomers, and the small ones often don’t have the push to establish a new author. Big or small, traditional publishers expect authors to do most of their own promoting, then thank you for your hard work by taking the lion’s share of the profit. I don’t blame them for the business model: Most books don’t do well, and they ride out the losers by standing on the backs of their best authors. By self publishing a well crafted e-book at a modest price on all the major e-sellers, and having Print on Demand paperbacks available through Amazon, I can access a world-wide market. There are many successful authors using this business platform, bypassing traditional publishing routes to put food on their tables. Being able to take care of my family while I do what I love – I think that’s the dream of every author, no?

WG: What’s next for you and The Second Lives of Honest Men?

JRC:        I’ve heard people say something to the effect of, “Writing the book is easy. The hard part comes after.” Let me tell you something: Writing the book wasn’t easy. My first draft may have only taken two months to complete, but they were also two of the most emotionally draining months I’ve ever been through. Still, the parable isn’t wrong in the sense that the harder part does come after. The editing process required a vast amount of work. The biggest obstacle was learning to put my faith in other people’s opinions. I only gave the book to people that I trusted to tell me the things I didn’t want to hear. And they did. It was always painful, as I listened to their advice over a hot drink (or a cold beer.) I’d scowl, counter-argue, and on some points I’d simply hold my tongue. After a number of days, (or weeks), a smattering of what they’d said would start sinking in. I’d be haunted by their voices as I tried, in vain, to sleep. I worked hard on the manuscript, mollifying the voices one by one, and repeating this process through each new draft (and each new round of well meant criticism), until I could finally rest. I passed the manuscript off to my editor the next day, and sent her a cheque. I struggled with the decision of what to write in the memo field. I finally settled on, ‘In Editor We Trust.’

Navigating the world of self-publishing has been an ordeal of its own. The Internet brings you a lot of information, but almost all of it conflicts. I made mistakes along the way – none fatal, but some costly. The good thing is that while I was waiting for my different rounds of beta readers to give me feedback, it left me plenty of time to prepare the other aspects of the book that a publisher normally takes care of: conceptualizing the cover, finding an artist, an editor, the best places to list the e-book, to promote the e-book, hiring (and working with) a website designer, finding a company to convert the book into slick, multi device / multi client formatted .epub, .mobi , and Print on Demand files…

Anyway, long story short… It’s finally all come together. The book is now for sale on all major e-sellers, and available in paperback through Amazon.

The Second Lives of Honest Men - cover

The Second Lives of Honest Men – cover

The website is up, and I’ll be using it as a platform to coordinate my Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter accounts. You can visit at www.johnrcameron.com , www.thesecondlivesofhonestmen.com , or www.embracetheirony.com. (All three domains lead to the same website.)  I have a well crafted, fun short story that I’ve made available on the website for free: Moonshine Perfume. I’ll also be writing short essays (I think they call them blogs, now) to accompany any more short stories that I find the time to write.

I’ll have a table at the Paranormal Show in Sudbury, Ontario, on November 30th, where I’ll be premiering the book and signing copies. The Paranormal Show itself is “a spectacular assortment of Supernatural feats that will make you question everything you thought you understood about REALITY.” – For more info, check out the Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/events/590105517693380/

Come for the stage show, stay to check out the great work of local artists and authors.

I’ll be having signings at some of the more traditional outlets early in the new year: dates to be announced.

You can also find me on Goodreads, https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/664867.John_R_Cameron , on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/embracetheirony , and on Twitter, https://twitter.com/EmbraceTheIrony .

Thanks for a great interview, John, and all the best with your future authorial adventures!

Bestseller Banter Panel

First, a wee note: I have embarked on my first NaNoWriMo, and because I had to finish a couple of writing tasks before the end of October, I haven’t been able to blog daily and complete my report of the fabulous Surrey International Writers’ Conference.

I have, so far, managed to make my NaNo quota though (joy!).

And I’m trying to finish up some outstanding critiquing.

So I will post today and tomorrow, but then I will be going on a brief trip to visit a friend for a few days.  I will resume the bloggage after that.  Once I’ve caught up with the SiWC reporting, however, I’m returning to my usual one or two posts on the weekend gig.

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Picture of the author Diana Gabaldon during a ...

Picture of the author Diana Gabaldon during a book signing held in Fergus, Ontario (during the Scottish Festival) on August 11, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The bestseller banter panel was moderated by Chris (CC) Humphreys and was composed of:  Michael Slade, Diana Gabaldon, Jane Porter, and Susanna Kearsley

Q: What was your first book on the bestseller list?

SK: The Winter Sea made the New York Times bestseller list as an ebook.

JP: Lifetime made a movie of my book Flirting with Forty.

DG: I was away on a book tour for three weeks for Voyager. My husband told me when he picked me up at the airport.  I was too tired to react.  More recently Starz is making an Outlander series.  This is the fourth time Outlander has been optioned.  When the deal was struck, I was sworn to secrecy, but I was attending BEA at the time and word got out.  I ended up telling everyone.

MS: My first novel became a bestseller because of my rep got me up at 3 am to speak

Susanna Kearsley Photo by Ashleigh Bonang

Susanna Kearsley
Photo by Ashleigh Bonang

with the book distributors.  That week, Stephen King’s The Shining hit the shelves as well.  The distributors looked at both books and decided to give top billing to the man who came out to talk to them.  That’s how my book beat out Stephen King’s to become number one in Vancouver.

Q: What pressures did you experience after your books had such great success?

SK: I didn’t feel any pressure from others, but I had something I’d never had to deal with before: deadlines.  It didn’t affect my writing.  I placed pressure on myself, however, to prove that I could get on the bestseller list again. Firebird was on the NYT mass market paperback list.

JP: Producers wanted to make movies of more of my books, but they wanted Flirting with Forty again, and I was writing something else.  I had to get out of a bad deal.  Marketing took over.  They kept asking for changes.

DG: Fans clamour for the next book in the series all the time, but I don’t let it bother me.  My sole duty is to the book.

MS: My first book was written while I was still very busy as a criminal lawyer.  Headhunter was successful and I did feel the pressure to write something at least as good.  I decided to write a thriller set in the rock ‘n’ roll world.  My rep got us tickets to Alice Cooper and he really liked Headhunter.  He invited me to send him my next novel.  I did and he wrote back: I don’t know if this will help.  “This book was terrifying.  I couldn’t put it down.” – Alice Cooper.  That endorsement sold the second book.

Q: Does the thrill remain?

DG: Absolutely.  I get a little thrill every time someone responds positively to my daily lines on Facebook.

CCH: Good reviews become reassuring friends in times of torment.

SK: Every time I finish a manuscript, I print it out and drop it on the table.  There’s something satisfying about the “thump.”  When the finished product arrives, there’s nothing like the smell of a new book.

JP: There were times when I was afraid everything I’d worked for would be taken away from me.  I was a single mother.  I feared being poor.

MS: It used to be that you had a 1 in 20,000 chance of success in publishing.  You never know when you’re going to make it big, or how.

SK: Persistence is the key. Download Headley’s “Anything” and listen to it repeatedly. Flaubert said, “Talent is a long patience…”  You have to think about the long game.

JP: Support is so important.  My ex never understood.  My current partner is a surfer and he feels the same way about the ocean as I do about writing.

DG: I have a fan club, the Ladies of Lallybrock, and they like to get together and have a fabulous time.

Q: Are there any downsides?

SK: I had a stalker.

JP: I received creepy letters from convicts.

Q: Do any of you have to content with JK Rowling’s issue?  She has so many people trying to hand her novels and scripts based on Harry Potter that she has someone who collects them all for her.

DG: I always tell people, sorry, I have an agreement with my publisher.

Q: Do you have a pen name picked out?

SK: No.

JP: Lauren Lyles

DG: No.

MS: Michael Slade is a pen name.  When I was trying to come up with it, I was thinking Declerque.  My wife said, very sensibly, no, you want a name with Biblical significance.  Michael.  Slade gives you some hard-boiled cred.  And so I became Michael Slade.  My wife created Michael Slade, and she knows copyright law.