Tag Archives: Gregory D Little

Non-Fiction Makes Money and Sense

Non-fiction can be both fun and profitable and November 2015’s posts showed us that and more.

Writing non-fiction, as Brent Nichols noted, can reunite us with our passion to write fiction. Brent also said other cool things like “And how would I communicate that thrill to my readers? By being specific.” For all his pearls of enthusiasm, check out Writing about Writing.

Others also revealed that non-fiction can teach us to be better fiction story tellers. But more about that later…

First, you need to know that yes, you can earn a living writing non-fiction.

Non-fiction to supplement fiction? It does happen and Colette Black shared her experience with finding a subject (which she was most enthusiastic about) and selling it. Collette sums it up best in her article, My Best Sale, when she says “… the numbers add up just fine.”

In Writing How-To’s for Fun and Profit, Guy Anthony de Marco showed us the fun in choosing non-fiction topics. As he said, everyone has something they like to do, and we all have some special knowledge to capitalize on. Guy has masterfully taken his hobbies and interests, even his grandmother’s old recipes, and has produced non-fiction books. Besides giving him a break from writing fiction, it has helped his bank account!

While Guy gave us great ideas on what kind of non-fiction books we could write, I provided some pointers on how to make sure you’ve got the perfect idea, about checking the market for what’s selling, and how to give the idea form. (See How to Write Non-Fiction Books for Profit) But the thing that Guy and I both stress, is that you’ve got to enjoy what you’re writing about. Again, that’s key in both fiction and non-fiction.

Ghost writing can be challenging, fun or frustrating. The challenge is that sometimes you’re dealing with sensitive subject matter, you need to portray the story to both the author’s and publisher’s satisfaction, and the deadlines may be tight. Yet, the results can be tremendous both for you and the person whose story is finally on the page. Evan Braun shared his ghost writing experiences with us in My Brief Career as a Ghost Writer.

In Writing for Magazines and Newspapers, Jace Killan shared a secret niche for non-fiction writing, and that’s newspapers, magazines and online articles. Oftentimes, these articles are used to supplement or give credibility to advertisements. Check it out.

Are you a mercenary or a freelance non-fiction writer? There is a difference. A mercenary writer is not a freelance writer. It involves writing for pay, no matter the subject. Do you want to be a mercenary writer or a freelancer? Check out Tereasa’s article, The Mercenary Writer, before you decide.

Get rid of fiction’s money woes! Apply for a grant.

Grants can be lucrative sources of funding and you’ll increase your chances of success if you apply the advice I provided in Grants – Money to Write. Grants are to be found on the local, regional, state/provincial and federal levels from governments, businesses or organizations. And, they can be used for research, for writing, for living, for retreats – the options are as varied as the sources. So, don’t be shy, seek them out because they’re there for both emerging and professional writers.

Of course you can write both fiction and non-fiction! You have the talent!

In Learning from Non-Fiction, Billie Milholland provided a valuable perspective on how fiction and non-fiction intermingle in her writing life and how they feed off each other. Writing non-fiction can be stimulating and rewarding and enhance a fiction career.

Still not convinced that you can write non-fiction?

Then reread Adria Laycraft’s article Fictional and Technical Writing – What’s the Difference? While fiction and non-fiction may seem to have very different goals, voice, and content, when it comes time to the actual writing, they’re really not that different. In either case, the writer must elicit the desired emotion from the reader, create a good structure of all the necessary key elements, research subjects thoroughly, and ensure proper word selection all to create the best possible content.

Rather than hiring a ghost writer to tell the family stories or to write the memoir, sometimes you just have to write the non-fiction stories. Follow Frank Morin’s advice –  interview the grandparents, write their stories and you’ll give them the best Christmas present ever! Remember also that those personal stories, or some element of them, can inspire a new fiction. Check out How to Distract Grandma from Pestering you for More Grandkids.

Non-fiction is a necessary tool to further your fiction writing career.

Those conniving cover letters! You’ve spent months, even years perfecting that novel and your success in the market place hinges on how you introduce your book and yourself in a cover letter! Fear not! In The Art of the Cover Letter, Kristin Luna demystifies the cover letter by giving us a simple yet effective way to write one.

Oh dear blurb, how shall I blurt thee out? Mary Pletsch knows how! In Blurbs: Baiting Your Hook, Mary explains that a blurb is not a summary. It’s role is to make you read more and Mary’s points make it easy. That’s it for this blurb, go check out the blog if you want to know more!

Whether we write fiction or non-fiction, there is a certain syntax, a voice, we all have that makes our writing genuine. Kim May’s blog Finding Your Voice Through Blogging, reveals her path to finding her voice. Her observation that we write a million words to find our voice makes a lot of sense. As I heard it said, if we try to emulate someone else, then we’ll only ever be second best. Be yourself and you’ll always be number one!

As writers we live and die by the book review. How to tell a good review from a bad one? How to give a good one? A reader and receiver of book reviews, author Jeff Campbell shared what works and doesn’t when it comes to writing book reviews. Sometimes we have to give it and sometimes we have to take it – Batman style. For more on Batman read Batman, Boldness and Book Reviews.

Then, there’s the dreaded interview.

You’ll be interviewed, either in person or by phone or by email. You may even have to conduct one. Understanding the craft of the interview is an important but often over looked form of non-fiction so read An Interview on Interviewing where I interviewed Celeste A. Peters.

Interviewing someone who has conducted countless interviews was daunting but fun! Celeste’s and my greatest challenge was making sure we were on the same page. I had a goal and Celeste had a goal along with a wealth of information to share. That meant I had to do what all interviewers must: understand the subject matter to some degree: know something about Celeste’s work and trust that she’d do a smash up job (and she did); and ask questions that would be fun for her and interesting to readers.

And finally, we had a great example of using non-fiction to promote our fiction when Gregory D. Little, rocket scientist by day and author by night, launched his book Unwilling Souls. This book sounds good – I’ll have to check it out.

I hope you enjoyed non-fiction month and found our posts not only interesting but useful. Happy writing!

Book Launch: Unwilling Souls

UnwillingSouls_FictoriansHello, Fictorians readers! I’m thrilled to announce that today my first novel, Unwilling Souls, launches.

Ses Lucani has never known her parents. Powerful leaders in the cold war left over after the gods’ imprisonment, Ses’s mother and father are now bitter rivals, each pretending their secret daughter doesn’t exist. Raised by her grandfather, Ses now lives in the hollowed-out center of the planet and learns to forge wrightings, tools imbued with soul energy and used to maintain the prison of the gods.

When terrorists attack the prison on her sixteenth birthday, Ses is forced to flee after the ensuing investigation reveals the secret of her parentage. Suddenly, the very parents who abandoned her may be the only people she can trust. Running from government operatives and fanatic cultists, Ses meets Murien, a boy with fingers in a shadowy network that can lead her to her father.

But some secrets are darker than parentage. On her way to find her father, Ses will uncover truths about her family and herself that will shatter her understanding of the world and risk the return of the gods themselves.

This book was a lot of fun to write. I set out with the conscious goal of crafting a fast-paced tale in a second-world setting with as many amazing locales as possible. As Ses races from the core of the planet, where the gods are kept imprisoned, to the surface cities built out of the corpses and bones of the immense creatures that nearly destroyed humankind, I feel I achieved that goal. I hope you’ll check it out!

Unwilling Souls is available in ebook formats on Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks and in trade paperback from Amazon.com!


About the Author: Gregory D. LittleHeadshot

Rocket scientist by day, fantasy and science fiction author by night, Gregory D. Little began his writing career in high school when he and his friend wrote Star Wars fanfic before it was cool, passing a notebook around between (sometimes during) classes. His first novel, Unwilling Souls, is available now from ebook retailers and trade paperback through Amazon.com. His short fiction can be found in The Colored Lens and Game of Horns: A Red Unicorn Anthology. He lives in Virginia with his wife and their yellow lab.

You can reach him at his website (www.gregorydlittle.com) or at his Author Page on Facebook.


Monsters in All Their Forms

A friend and I were sitting in a brewery last weekend, killing time before meeting our wives for dinner. A wide-ranging discussion of pop culture touched on the concept of monsters in fiction, and what we want and expect out of them.

There are as many types of monsters as can be imagined, and as the quote from A Beautiful Mind goes, “man is capable of as much atrocity as he has imagination.” But fictional monsters can be loosely gathered up into two categories: those with a backstory and those without. Think of them as “evil because,” and “evil just because.” Each of these concepts can do the job of terrifying the reader or viewer, as long as it is consistent with the goals and tone of the story being told.

Monsters with no backstory are easy to find. Look no further than John Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece Halloween or the much more recent instant horror classic It Follows. In Halloween, six-year-old Michael Myers transforms from a seemingly normal child into the brutal murderer of his own sister in the films opening moments, filmed chillingly from first-person perspective. From then on, he never speaks a word and barely moves a muscle until fifteen years later when he breaks out of his mental ward and begins killing again.

The monster of It Follows, despite the film’s slasher sensibilities, isn’t even human. Rather, it’s a malevolent force that kills whomever has been afflicted with it. Spread through sex, the entity follows its victims at the same maddeningly slow pace wherever they flee. If it catches them, it brutally kills them, then begins working its way back down the line of the cursed, seeking next the person who passed the curse to its now-dead victim. Once afflicted, you are never truly safe again, even if you pass the curse along. Only the afflicted can see the entity, which takes the form of random people, sometimes a stranger, sometimes people they know. Whatever helps it get close.

In both these films, our inability to relate to or understand the monster is a large part of what makes them scary. You cannot reason with Michael Myers or It, just as you cannot fathom why they are doing what they are doing. Despite later films’ ill-advised attempts to tie Michael Myers to a pagan, druid ritual involving the holiday that would become Halloween, any attempt to explain this sort of monster to the viewer robs it of some of its power. No attempt at all is made to explain the curse of It Follows, and that is to the film’s benefit. These monsters are forces of nature, and they are frightening specifically because they recall the fear, buried deep in our DNA, of being preyed upon by creatures that would never offer mercy and could never be reasoned with. Creatures that saw us only as food.

For examples of villains with backstories, look no further than George R.R. Martin and Thomas Harris. A Song of Ice and Fire is replete with human monsters of both the “evil because” and “evil just because” variety, but where Martin really excels is establishing the protagonist family of the Starks and setting them against the antagonist family of the Lannisters. Very quickly the reader is led to hate the Lannisters, and at some point in the story each member of that family commits monstrous acts, either against the Starks directly or just in general. But over the course of the series, Martin masterfully peels back his onion layer by layer, and we are shown the inner worlds of the Lannister characters and the reasons (very valid to them) why they do awful things. Tyrion we sympathize with from the beginning of course, but no one was more surprised than I when Martin made me like Jaime Lannister. Even with Cersei I could find a measure of pity if not any warmth. If you delve into The World of Ice and Fire, you can even learn a bit of what Tywin Lannister, the main architect of his children’s misery, endured as a younger man that shaped him into the man he later became.

Few books I’ve ever read chilled me as much as Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon. The first of the Hannibal Lecter books, this features a plot similar to the more well-known Silence of the Lambs, but with a different FBI investigator trying to catch a different serial killer. This killer, Francis Dolarhyde, is a singular creation in fiction. He murders entire families at the behest of an alternate personality he calls the Red Dragon. Much of the book is told from his perspective, and it’s the most effective example of getting into the head of a deeply disturbed individual I’ve ever read. We come to learn that Francis, born with a harelip and a cleft palate, was abandoned by his mother and raised with brutal cruelty by his grandmother. This treatment ended up warping Francis into the monster he becomes, and the reader feels anger, horror and pity all at once for the character.

If done effectively, this kind of monster awakens a very different kind of fear. Rather than worrying what lurks beyond the firelight, waiting to eat us, the “evil because” monster forces us to look inward, to see the monster lying dormant within each of us (and our fellows). We look and we wonder. Everyone has heard the quote “There but for the grace of God go I.” If we were perhaps less strong or even just less fortunate, if the various circumstances of our lives had combined in the perfect (or anti-perfect) way, would we end up as warped as these characters? Just how far beneath our surface does a monster lurk?

Each of these kinds of monsters can be used effectively in your writing. However, care must be taken to avoid combining traits of the “evil because” and “evil just because” monsters into a single character. It accomplishes nothing but to muddy the waters and confuse the reader, dragging them out of any sense of immersion you’ve built. The key, as always, is in figuring out the kind of story you are trying to tell and what tools need to be pulled from your toolbox to perform the work.

Don’t worry, the rest of the monsters will still be there, waiting for you, when this particular story is done…


About the Author: Gregory D. LittleHeadshot

Rocket scientist by day, fantasy and science fiction author by night, Gregory D. Little began his writing career in high school when he and his friend wrote Star Wars fanfic before it was cool, passing a notebook around between (sometimes during) classes. His first novel, Unwilling Souls, will be available later this year. His short fiction can be found in The Colored Lens and the upcoming Game of Horns: A Red Unicorn Anthology. He lives in Virginia with his wife and their yellow lab.

The Late One – World Fantasy Convention

For most, convention season is winding down. While you can find cons at any time of year really, the bulk of the major cons take place during the summer months.  But one major con is different, choosing to fight the power and place itself in late October or early November. And since I won’t be making it to any conventions this calendar year, that makes the 2014 World Fantasy Convention (which I did attend) the perfect one to write about.

I call WFC a major con, but that’s really misleading. While it’s a very venerable con with (it will be putting on its 40th convention this year in Saratoga Springs, NY) and it has a major genre award attached, WFC numbers in the hundreds rather than the thousands of attendees (to say nothing of tens or hundreds of thousands).

As opposed to broader media cons, it’s also almost entirely focused on books, and is almost entirely focused on business rather than fandom. WFC is a work con. It’s a place to go and network, to meet people serious about the business of writing and publishing. As such, if you’re someone like me, who doesn’t have a lot of time for con attendance, it offers a strong “bang for your buck” factor if your main goal is networking.

But I don’t want to make it sound boring, because it’s anything but. Sure, the focus may be on business, but this is still a place to meet up with friends in the industry and a gathering of some of the world’s biggest genre geeks. While it’s true that cosplayers are generally nowhere to be seen, there is still plenty to enjoy. Both times I’ve been (2014 and 2012 near Toronto) I had a great time. And frankly, as a pretty strong introvert, WFC’s smaller size is appealing to me (and I suspect I’m not the only introvert to whom that would be true).

As a Virginia native, when I learned that WFC 2014 would be in “Washington, D.C.” (and I say that in quotes because it was really in Crystal City, Virginia, just over the Potomac River from D.C.), I knew it would be criminal not to attend. Having a major con show up within driving distance really gives you no excuse to do otherwise.

As with many cons of this sort, while the panels provide a lot of quality programming, the real action happens in and around the hotel bar. You’ll find convention goers there at all times of day, their only concession to the rising sun switching to coffee instead of harder stuff. It’s always surreal to roam around the bar area, noticing various writers and publishing giants just sitting around, talking business or just shooting the breeze. I even got to discuss the 2014 NCAA College Football season with literary agent extraordinaire (and Michigan Wolverines fan) Joshua Bilmes after he noticed my Virginia Tech shirt.

As I alluded to above, WFC is also the keeper of the World Fantasy Awards, in the past won by such luminaries as George R.R. Martin, China Mieville, Susanna Clarke, Madeline L’Engle, Gene Wolfe and Ursula K. Le Guin. The award winners are selected by a committee from a pool of nominees supplied by conference goers. There is a banquet to announce the winners at the end of the convention, which any attendee (provided they paid the extra fee) may attend. I attended in 2012 but didn’t feel the need to do so again in 2014, preferring instead to get home a little earlier.

I came back from last year’s convention with a bunch of new friends, a submission request from an editor, some great loot (a print of the A Memory of Light cover art signed by Brandon Sanderson and MIchael Whelan and a early-release signed copy of the Jeff VanderMeer Area X Omnibus), massive sleep deprivation and a whole lot of fun memories. If I had to do it over again, my only change would be to determine that our hotel wouldn’t allow more than two beds due to fire code restrictions. It made for a difficult sleep situation for our third roommate. At some point, I am fated by karma to sleep on the floor of a hotel room in Martin’s name.

So if, like me, you have to carefully pick your conventions and maximize your limited opportunities to attend, give World Fantasy Convention a try.


About the Author: Gregory D. LittleHeadshot

Rocket scientist by day, fantasy and science fiction author by night, Gregory D. Little began his writing career in high school when he and his friend wrote Star Wars fanfic before it was cool, passing a notebook around between (sometimes during) classes. His first novel, Unwilling Souls, will be available later this year. His short fiction can be found in The Colored Lens and the upcoming Game of Horns: A Red Unicorn Anthology. He lives in Virginia with his wife and their yellow lab.