Tag Archives: focus

To Con or Not To Con: The Write Question

For years, I’ve gone to conventions all over the continental United States. Some were genre conventions such as MileHiCon, Radcon, and Archon. Others were more media-centric, such as Denver Comic Con and Salt Lake Comic Con. Toss in a World Horror and a few writing conventions such as Superstars Writing Seminars and you’re looking at most of my traveling expenses over the years.

I’ve decided to pull back on the conventions this year. I’m only going to go to two – MileHiCon, because of a series of panels on anthologies that I help to produce with author Sam Knight, and possibly Archon St. Louis. Going to conventions has helped to get my name out there, and I sell enough books to offset some of the costs of traveling. I made quite a few friends along the way, and was able to get on panels with some of the best authors and editors in most of the genres that I write in.

Now it’s time to start getting work out the door. I wrote rough drafts for five novels during NaNoWriMo last November, finally breaking through one million total NaNo words. I am working on getting at least four of my novels finished, polished, and sent to publishers. I’m halfway through two non-fiction books that are new, plus a rewrite of a short handbook that will be republished soon. Add in some short stories for different anthologies and I’m on my way to having my name in at least eight titles this year. If that isn’t enough, I’m working on the artwork for a graphic novel script that I wrote last October.

It’s going to be a very busy year, assuming there are no medical issues.

I’m sure you’ve read authors saying that you just need to sit down and write. This is the year I focus on that task. Hopefully, one of those projects will be the kernel that pops, according to Kevin J. Anderson’s Popcorn Theory of Writing. If one of the projects can get some viral recognition, I’m hoping that the inertia will get my name in front of convention programming directors for the 2017 convention circuit. It would be nice if they were asking me instead of the usual me asking if there were any panel slots available. I’ve been the Guest of Honor for one convention so far, and several others have paid for my hotel. I’d enjoy the opportunity to visit places I haven’t seen yet, and there are still seven states I require to get all fifty — and luckily, I’ve already been to Hawaii and Alaska, although I wouldn’t turn down a return trip.

So, for me, it’s time to put up and shut up. Much of the hard work is done, since I have so many rough drafts to polish and rewrite. If I take breaks from the long works by cranking out several short stories or poems, I expect to increase my title count from the current 47 to well over fifty. Who knows, if I have enough short works, maybe I’ll also put together a collection to get closer to 60 titles to start off 2017.

Wish me luck!

About the Author:DeMarco_Web-5963

Guy Anthony De Marco is a disabled US Navy veteran speculative fiction author; a Graphic Novel Bram Stoker Award® finalist; winner of the HWA Silver Hammer Award; a prolific short story and flash fiction crafter; a novelist; an invisible man with superhero powers; a game writer (Sojourner Tales modules, Interface Zero 2.0 core team, third-party D&D modules); and a coffee addict. One of these is false.
A writer since 1977, Guy is a member of the following organizations: SFWA, WWA, SFPA, IAMTW, ASCAP, RMFW, NCW, HWA. He hopes to collect the rest of the letters of the alphabet one day. Additional information can be found at Wikipedia and GuyAnthonyDeMarco.com.

Identify Yourself

A Guest Post by Anton T. Russell

In this writing game, the whole literary world and all that, I’ve listened to many discussions and have read many articles on the subject of being an author vs. writer vs. novelist … etcetera. For the life of me, I couldn’t find the title that best identified me. Many others involved in the discussions also could not quite agree on where they stood.

Since I’m not a bestseller, or widely known, finding a measure of success was very difficult for me, as I didn’t have those good days where I sold X amount of copies. As a result, I had always thought I was failing. I mean, really … I had just published a book and was also contracted by a publisher. Surely I could do better than that.

Uh, no. Write it and they will read it? Yeah, that wasn’t working out the way I had planned it. Clear failure, right?

It wasn’t until I talked with some trusted friends that I was able to understand that I wasn’t failing. Oh, they didn’t tell me what to look at, or how to measure my efforts. All they did was have that same ole discussion about being an author vs. writer vs. novelist … etcetera, and I was actually a part of it. Then it hit me.

I am a storyteller.

Beginning—plot twist—middle—plot twist—plot twist—end, and any other formula you’ve heard can be thrown in. It’s part of why I call it, “The Writing Game.” But that’s a-whole-nother-topic.

At any rate, by defining myself, I can now measure my successes and failures. See, I know where I stand, what I’m trying to accomplish. And let me tell you; I can pen one helluva story. That’s how I determine my successes, of course. The failures are just as clear. They’re the revisions that feel a whole lot like re-writes. The reader doesn’t know this happens, though. Still, when I have to re-write nearly a whole story, I’m not the easiest person to get along with. It means dumping more than 20k to 50k words. It that ain’t failing…

Yeah, so I tell stories. It’s a passion that grows within me each time my hands are idle and my mind wanders. Sometimes I find myself running to grab my super-secret notebook and adding details to a story-line I’ve yet to start working on. Then, when I’m in the writing groove and my office door is closed, I am as focused as a surgeon. For me, that’s winning. It is a tremendous victory, I tell you.

Succinctly, know what you’re doing, know how to get to where you want to be, and know what you are. Until you do those three things, you will forever measure yourself against others. The thing about that is; they WILL have had different experiences and backgrounds than you do. Oh, and success might mean something entirely different to them.

Although setbacks, stumbles, and missteps will seem hound your every effort, if you do YOUR thing to the best of your ability, you will find true measures of success.

Meeting Summer Goals (or Not)

Lou's kink-tailed cat
Lou’s kink-tailed cat

A guest post by Lou Berger.

Summer is a fantastic time, depending on your particular situation, to knock out some writing assignments.  I set goals, myself, that are frequently too aggressive. “If I can write 5,000 words per day, I can have this middle grade novel knocked out in TWELVE DAYS!”

I then hop about, making fist pumps and hooting, which frequently frightens the kink-tailed cat into yawning and turning over.

Then I sit at the computer and open up my manuscript to the place I left it: the blank screen, the header, the ominous “about xxx words” at the top.

Then I check Facebook. I mean, seriously, one has to make sure nobody is in need of witty retorts before settling down to some AWESOME writing, right?  I whip through the latest posts, make my snarky comments, then, with a flourish, close out the Facebook application entirely.

WTF?!  That took TWO hours?!

Fine.  Log out of the Internet, open up the manuscript again, stare at the xxx word count.

In a flurry of activity, I bang out the opening paragraph, putting in that necessary “hook” to grab the reader, maybe a multi-armed alien wielding a blaster in each six-fingered hand, complicated technology spilling around its green, malformed body.  Strike that.  Two arms (we have human readers, after all, and we can’t be TOO weird) and a six-gun in each hand, mowing down the inbred members of Black Bart’s gang.  Dammit!  That’s a Western!

Delete.  Delete…delete.

Grr.  Another wasted hour.

Hitting your goals requires focus and discipline.  Try different times of the day for your writing until you strike one that fits your circadian rhythm.  Some people can only write when the day’s chores are done and silence descends upon the world in the late evening darkness. Some can only write early, when everybody else is asleep, in the pre-dawn darkness, when the remnants of sleep haven’t quite left our brains and our internal editor is still slumbering, damn his scaly hide. Others need the noise and bustle of a coffee shop and the myriad of goings-on to provide a white-noise-esque background to settle down the creative parts of the writing brain.

Choose your best time and location, and make it a goal to be consistent.  100 words a day, every day, beats the guy who writes 2,000 words in one sitting once every month.  Consistency is key, and giving yourself permission to write utter crap as a first draft is one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn in my long journey to becoming an author.  Letting your editor mumble into your ear while you write is certain death and doom to any project you embark upon.  She (he) is not cognizant of the freedom required to write down utter dreck, but wants it picture-perfect on the FIRST try!

Ain’t nobody got time fo’ that.

My goals are to write consistently this summer, to carve off reasonable chunks of word products in relaxed sittings that, hopefully, happen once or twice a day.  To focus on ignoring the snarky comment quotient in my Facebook pages.  And to get this damned middle-grade novel DONE, at least in first draft form, no later than 6/15.  I have an editor who wants to see the whole manuscript and she’s been SO patient with me.  She deserves better.

What about your goals?  Write me and tell me what they are at Lou@LouJBerger.com.


Lou Berger Bio:
Lou Berger is a Denver writer who lives with three kids, three Sheltie dogs and a kink-tailed cat.  He’s unsure of the cat’s motives but permits cohabitation. His blog can be found at www.LouJBerger.com.


Distractions ““ Stop working against your technology

One of the most common complaints I hear from fellow writers is how hard it can be to write and be productive with all the distractions prevalent on the information superhighway. While the usual advice “Just Write” still burn strong, when you write every day the temptation can be too much. It can be an email notification, or just a quick pause to look something up. Next thing you know you’re lost in the throes of reddit and the time you allotted yourself to finish this chapter ended hours ago. If you’re one of these types that often find the allure of the web a little too much to resist, here are some ideas that may help. I’ll start out easy and move to the most extreme so you can choose a solution that works best for you.

  1. Close all programs that distract you. This means your email program, instant messenger windows, web browsers, and other alert programs. Keep a notebook in front of you to write down all ideas that pop in your head or items you want to research. Stay in your writing window as much as possible.
  2. If you absolutely need to have internet access for research, but find yourself always clicking on those same websites, look at getting a browser add-on that blocks websites for certain time limits. Examples are leechblock for firefox and StayFocusd for chrome. These apps let you choose a website and set up access restrictions. You can block the site for the entire writing session, or grant brief access to the site for 10-15 minute breaks every other hour or so. While this method is easy to circumvent, it will remind you to write when you absent-mindedly click on that reddit or facebook link.
  3. If nothing else works, block the problem sites permanently. Almost all routers have an access control functionality. The access control pages, much like the plugins, let you choose a website and a time period. If you have it in your schedule to write every morning from 7-9am, you can have your router block these pages during that time. You can even specify the computer so your family/roommates aren’t blocked as well. You can even turn off the internet during this time so there is literally nothing online to distract you. If you’re really desperate, bring a friend in and have them change the password to the router. That way, it’s blocked from the router and you’re free to work.

While this won’t solve all distractions, it does help get you away from the ones online.