- 17. Notebook: I am very much into the digital age so I don’t use notebooks, journals or anything that I have to handwrite. I used to have a much better penmenship but these days, it is clear I’ve not used a pen often. I probably couldn’t write cursive to save my life!
- 18. Favorite Work In Progress: Every WIP is your favorite at the time! You pour your blood, sweat and tears into the work. Of course, you want the writing to be the best every time. It doesn’t always turn out that way and you will find yourself wanting often to go back and rewrite passages or chapters in your books, but like children, sometimes you have to let them go, cherish them as a whole including flaws.
- 19. Writing Group/Buddy: I don’t belong to any writing group currently. That’s something to think about though. I do have a small circle of people who read the work and critique it for me on occassion but I don’t have anything formal.
- 20. Writing Spot: No “spot”. I have more of a “get it down and done” philosophy than a Zen Garden spot for writing. I have bought a new writing desk which I am absolutely in love with but it’s not a necessity for me to write.
- 21. Writing Snack: My key ingredient to a lengthy writing session is caffeine so I tend to mainly drink instead of snack. I do have plenty of favorite snacks but I hold off of those while writing.
- 22. Ways to Prewrite: I am a big proponent for backstory and character depth. If you can visualize or get into the heart of the character before the story writing takes place, you’ll have a better understanding of that character’s POV and how they would realistically react. One of the infernal sins of any writer is to have unrealistic or unlikely character actions. If the action slaps the reader in the face then they are thinking it over in their mind versus being in your story. You lose credibility and story immersion in one fell swoop!
- 23. POV to Write In: That’s easy. 3rd person. I have some 1st Person but it definitely is a challenge for me.
- 24. Pantser or Plotter: I have covered my eccentric, obsessive need for outlining so there’s no way I could even pretend to be a writer that flies by the seat of his pants. I have at the very least a simple “beats outline” to write by and keep me on track.
- 25. Favorite Villain: Far as movie villains — the usual list of suspects being The Joker, Pinhead, Pennywise the Clown, Jack Torrence. My own written villain would have to be Auste, the Pale Chaos Mage, from Consequences Within Chaos. He had cause to want vengeance but the means that he took made him so hateful. It was that core of pure evil in him that turned another character, LLasher, from the evil path to the repentent hero.
- 26. Favorite Bookcover: I wish I could say it was one of the ones I have done for my books, but to be completely honest, my favorite is The Bleeding Crown’s book cover done by artist Joy Landa. It truly brought to life that character. One look at the cover and it just pulls you in!
- 27. Favorite Heroine: Signorney Weaver’s portrayal of Ripley in the Alien franchise was always a fantastic inspiration on how to write a female character. Strong and independent one moment, sensitive and compassionate the next. I think that many women have the mix of the two and many men portray only one side. My favorite heroine that I wrote would be hands-down, Princess Letandra. I am really chomping at the bit to write the third installment of The Wyvernshield series and give you all a glimpse into the hell she’s been put in and what she must do to save Wyvernshield.
- 28. Writing Cup: Nope. Don’t have one. I think it’s because I don’t drink coffee or tea.
- 29. Favorite Book on Writing: The writing book Save the Cat that I did a blog on has become very instrumental to my writing and I would still credit, Structuring Your Novel and Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weland as a fantastic set of reference books to help any manuscript!
- 30. Favorite Writing Inspired Quote: Not much of a quote person. I like some but don’t memorize them.
- 31. Favorite Halloween Tradition: My father and I started making my Halloween costumes at a very young age (I think maybe 5). It was the chance to really explore my creativity and imagination. The holiday meant a lot to me and I still like to dress each year.
Save The Cat!
by Jessica Brody — a Writer’s Resource & Reference Guide
Released on October 9, 2018 — 311 pages
Narrated by Jessica Brody
So, one of my bi-monthly goals in June (as per the post, Looking Back & Looking Forward – Bi-Monthly Goals) was to read a writing craft reference book. This awesome book,Save The Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book On Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need is it. A fantastic guide on how to evolve your stories organically, captivate the reader with the pacing and structure, and how to win lifetime readers over with incredible themes and character arcs.
Originally Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need written by Blake Snyder was developed as a way to help screenwriters. He found an almost universal pattern in every award-winning film. In his book, he shares his discovery and shows you the master template he crafted based on his findings.
Side note: The title Save the Cat! is a phrase pinpointing a decisive moment when the protagonist demonstrates that they are worth rooting for. Especially needed in cases of an anti-hero like Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones or Frank Castle of the Marvel Series, The Punisher. “It’s the scene where we [first] meet the hero”, in order to gain audience favor and support for the main character right from the start.
The first novel-writing guide from the best-selling Save the Cat! story-structure series, which reveals the 15 essential plot points needed to make any novel a success.
Novelist Jessica Brody presents a comprehensive story-structure guide for novelists that applies the famed Save the Cat! screenwriting methodology to the world of novel writing.
Revealing the 15 “beats” (plot points) that comprise a successful story–from the opening image to the finale–this book lays out the Ten Story Genres (Monster in the House; Whydunit; Dude with a Problem) alongside quirky, original insights (Save the Cat; Shard of Glass) to help novelists craft a plot that will captivate–and a novel that will sell.
I found this book very well planned out and down-to-earth. She lays out this master template for you in simple and defined terms, but also how you can still follow the template without “the dreaded F word”… that F word being Formulaic!
Not only does she give multiple examples taken from great novels like Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle to modern classics like The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Misery by Stephen King, and The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, she provides in depth analysis to show where theme and story are laced together seamlessly.
There are ten complete novel templates broken down defining each of the original Ten Story Genres (including Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill)
Brody takes you through the Opening Image, making it hook your reader and keep them on the edge of their seats, to incorporating meaningful themes, then shaking things up with Debate and Catalyst moments in your stories.
Jessica Brody narrates her novel and brings a ton of energy and excitement, she WANTS you to hit the ground running!
Jessica Brody is the author of more than 20 books for teens, tweens, and adults including Sky Without Stars, Between Burning Worlds, The Chaos of Standing Still, Better You Than Me, A Week of Mondays, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, and the Unremembered trilogy.
She’s also the author of the Descendants: School of Secrets series, based on the hit Disney Channel original movie, Descendants.
Her books have been translated and published in over 23 countries and several have been optioned for film and television.
In summary, I took a lot from this audio book even though I had heard some similar story structure techniques before. This book was different and impacting in an all new way — it showed how theme can be woven in and character growth is essential to the outline.
I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this to any author, rookie or veteran! The master story template has been there right before our eyes all this time, but now it has been brought out in a clear and organized manner for all of us to craft our own unique worlds!
I have been working hard on strengthening and fleshing out my two resources Pinterest and Patreon for you. These sites should give you even more access to me, my work and new materials I am developing.
For those who may not fully understand what Pinterest is, Pinterest is unique search engine for materials, reference resources and finding key elements that fit into your customized categories. In other words, I have currently fourteen “boards” (categories) where I can “pin” material that I feel fall into those categories. For example I have a board called Storyboard: Horror-Suspense & Crime Inspiration.
When I find an image that intrigues me, I can pin it and keep in that folder. I also have a board for my Fantasy images. This gives me a handy place to get writing ideas as well as show you the readers where I get some ideas. In my board From My Writer’s Blog I have six subsections with material showing my self-publishing tactics, some biography blogs, my writing prompt stories, etc.
Some of the other boards are: From My Writer’s Blog, My Horror-Suspense & Grim Fantasy Collection, My Newsletters, Book Reviews, Book Cover Artwork, Landscapes, Batman & Other Comics, My Audiobooks, and My Favorite TV Series.
I can also do my own “pins” like these:
Also on Pinterest I can place reviews on my books, details about my book & audio book giveaways, or I can share pins from other collaborators and authors I find on Pinterest. If you want to see my work or other things on my site, you can click here and “follow” me so you can see my contributions and additions to the site.
Patreon I have previously talked about here. I want to this year do even better at maintaining and providing exclusive access to my work. I have decided that I will be writing a fantasy novella based on this:
The novella will be seen in chapter installments only on Patreon and sold only in paperback format once completed with signature and customized metal bookmarker to my patrons initially. The other benefits for becoming patrons will still be there — now I just want to make it even better!!
Please see these two sites and let me know what you think of them and if you have suggestions, comments or ideas to provide even more value to you!!
Definition of Resistance
The “Resistance” is constant but not futile (a tiny joke and a nod to my fellow Star Trek fans out there). Resistance is the inner voice that every creator, writer, inventor or artist out there hears deep inside. That annoying, grating, self-indulgent nay-sayer who keeps you from pursuing your dreams, goals or from even putting one foot forward to start on your journies. The voice trapping you behind false masks!
Resistance is born from our insecurities, busy outside lives and the lack of faith in our skills. The questions it seeds our minds with grow into trees of self-fulfilling prophecies. In other words, its true purpose is to give you excuse after excuse why you cannot or will not write today. We all have hundreds of unique excuses and seemingly valid reasons for not putting pen to paper. Everyone has lives and everyone has their own agendas. Yet if you give in to Resistance, you set up a habit of self-destruction and a pattern of sabotage.
Symptoms of Resistance
- Procrastination — This is a big one for me. I give myself an out by saying, “I just don’t have the energy” or “I’m too tired tonight. One more day and I’ll get to it.” Lies I tell myself. Resistance provides a nice pillow for me or it provides a comfy couch for me to binge-watch my shows on instead of battling to find the right words for my chapter.
- Confusion — You are “stuck” or have a minor case of “writer’s block” because you may have written yourself into a tough scenario and don’t know how to write yourself an escape. Or your outline is vague in this spot or too general and now you find you have to fill in the nasty missing link.
- Loss of creativity — “How can you be expected to write your masterpiece tonight?” Or another accusation from Resistance, “I’m not feeling it. The scene isn’t going anywhere.” We stare at the screen or the blank paper for a few seconds then let Resistance “save us” and we jump ship.
- No motivation/muse — Similar to loss of creativity is lack of motivation or the infamous “muse”. You actually know what you want to write, have the story events in your mind but at the same time doubt nags you or a lack of confidence keeps you from even trying.
Causes of Resistance
- Low energy — One of the common and easiest ways to let Resistance get over your walls and breach your defenses against it. You have to discover the right time for you and when you are at your peak energy output is key to writing quality work. When are you focused?
- Illness — Poor health or unexpected events are going to happen. Yet if you plan with “life” in mind, you will give yourself some back up or make-up time. Myself, I have been using Bi-monthly Goals and Writing Sprints to understand better on what to plan for and if they are possible in my given time table. I have also been working on my health and trying to approach those goals like my writing goals. In essence, good health and energy IS a writing goal.
- Poor planning — By knowing your projects, your actual production limits, and keeping in sight holidays and/or special events in your life, you can keep Reistance at bay often. Also using efficient and beneficial planning for your writing will make it easier to progress. I struggle a lot if I don’t work out my outlines well enough or if I have left a spot too general or vague. I stall without direction. I know this about my writing so I need to adjust accordingly in order to fend off Resistance.
- Internet distractions — The internet is a double-edged sword for all writers. We use it constantly in our wordcraft, research and even inspiration. However, it is super addictive, highly distracting and often a vicious time-killer. There are actual websites online that prevent you from accessing other websites or email during a programmed time. It protects you from YOU!
- Lack of character knowledge — The next two are related to poor design or poor development of story elements. If you have a limited idea of what your character is going to do in a scene, no idea of how they might react under pressure or if you have someone with barely any personality, this will leave you with limited material and limited ways to progress your story. Resistance feeds on lost productivity like this.
- Off course of plot/storyline — Writer’s Block at its finest can be broken down to another version of “don’t know what to write”. The blank page spans for eons in front of you like a white desert, barren and desolate of life. Yes, of course, when a character goes offscript and drags you and the story into a whole other direction, it could be magical and inspiring, but if you find your story has ground to a halt and Resistance is boiling up, you need to re-examine your original story or outline to find your way back. Resistance could be using your detour and “magical moment” as a way to derail your progress!
Answers to Resistance
- Maintain a better life & work balance — Nothing is easy and finding the perfect blend of writing and having a family life is a difficult but necessary tool to stop Resistance and your writing production. A great way to see where your actual time goes each day is to track your activities and how much each action takes. You can also learn when you are the most productive by listing the times you write, for how long, and what your word count was for the session.
- Create a Time Table for your week/writing commitments — A great way to beat Resistance is to make writing routine and habitual. Craft a chart for listing 3 Goal Items: Writing Commitments, Process/Project Tasks, Personal Ojectives. What will be your Writing Commitment this week (example: a 25-minute session for 5 days of the week as a success)? What is a Process or Project Task you are going to spend time on (like marketing, editing, etc)? And other Personal Objective you want to accomplish during the week?
- Set up a writing routine/writing space — Finding routine is essential for habit-making. What works for you as a writer? Does going to local public places like libraries or coffee shops help you get into your writing zone? Do you need a designated place in your house, a specific hour or quiet atmosphere? Would mood music help you produce more or shut out the noise from Resistance? All of these questions are key to learning the writer you are and what will boost your spirit into writing.
- Freewriting sprints — Sprints are timed freewriting sessions in which you silence your inner editor (Resistance’s bastard cousin) and produce as many words as possible. Leting go of any obstacles or any normal objections you have. Many writers also use these sprints to get past the initial “blah” to writing. Once you have made it past five or ten minutes, you’ll most likely push through to your daily objective.
- Delve into your backstories — I touched on this above, but not having any true direction or finding your character is too flat to come to life on paper begs Resistance to block you. My advice is to work on their prior lives. What happened to them before your story? Was there an event which guided their behaviors or personalities? Do they hide from stressors, have character flaws, have unknown strengths or are there secrets in their past you could work out which can add depth and color to your character portrait?
- Research your subject or develope more of your world — This tip is a balancing act. Resistance can hide here and disguise your efforts at world-building or learning historical or scientific facts as a lengthy distraction and keep you away from your true goals of writing. If you are stuck on a specific area or if you need motivation, use this with precision to get through the part. Limit the time donated on this aspect and you should find it a great way to fight back against Resistance.
- Reward yourself — If you find Resistance is still putting a wedge between you and your work, add a reward for accomplishing your writing goal. It doesn’t have to be big (special food, coffee, or maybe video game time) will be enough spark to push through. If you want bigger, use the reward to honor completed sets of sessions. An example could be taking the family out for a dinner at the end of the week of completed writing sessions. This gives you and the family quality time together and rewarding those who are in your life supporting your writing.
- Set your Goals and writing plans realistically — Becoming overwhelmed or finding yourself missing out too much on family events or nights out with friends will invite Resistance into your life guaranteed. It’s a part of that Work/Life balancing act I talked about. If you have too many projects hanging over your head, you’ll lose the thrill to writing. When everything about writing becomes a chore, you will know you have to revisit your goals and what you can accomplish. I recently did some timed sprints myself and learned that I can at the moment produce 400 words of quality writing in 25 minutes. I’m tracking this and hope to continually build this word count up. If I set goals now for myself to write 2000 words a day, I know it will take me almost three hours. I have a full-time day job and a family of five to support and I want to spend time with as well. Three hours a day would be unrealistic and unfair to those who support me — I would quickly become overworked, stressed out and extremely grumpy. I don’t want to live this way nor do I want to put my family through it. I would love to only have writing but it isn’t financially feasible as well. Plotting out the year with this knowledge however and understanding how illness and holidays will interfere, I can better set up realistic goals.
Remember, being an accomplished, seasoned writer or a brand new novelist doesn’t change the fact Resistance will always be there. Resistance has infinite lives and many devious forms. These tips will help and you will probably find even more ways to keep motivated and strong, but give yourself a break. You will not always be able to ward off the demons of Resistance all of your writing career, but once they rear their ugly heads, cut them off cleanly and quickly! Use drive, planning and organization to keep yourself ahead of the game!
Good luck and great writing!
With the New Year almost upon us, I have been working out my upcoming goals and what I’d like to see as far as successful production for 2020.
With a lot of excitement, I am hoping to publish my new suspense/supernatural horror series, Evade! And with a lot of joy and sadness, I will be wrapping up my epic fantasy collection, the Wyvernsield Series. While this may be a “goodbye” to current beloved characters, I am already toying with a story idea with new characters beginning this time in Aberrisc!
As you know if you have been reading any of my goal planning posts, I like the bi-monthly process breakdown. This method has proven to generate the most goal success for me. I’ll be continuing the process, but this time with a larger “arching” picture in mind. I’ll be planning the entire year, broken down in two-month objectives by Work In Progress.
Overall Goal Summary: This year’s production goal is to publish four books — Evade Parts #1,2 & 3 and the last book in the Wyvernshield Fantasy Series.
Works In Progress Goals:
January – February
- Complete writing for Book #3 (anticipated 25,000 word count)
- Edit Book #1, Book #2
- Craft Book Blurb
- Purchase/design book covers for all three books
- Publish Book #1
March – April
- Edit Book #3
- Publish Book #2
May – June
- Publish Book #3
WYVERNSHIELD BOOK #3
March – August
- Complete writing (March through August — anticipated word count 100,000)
- Edit book (September through November)
- Publish in December
April – May
- Purchase cover
- Write up a book blurb
- Look into a future Set Collection of all three books
- 125,000/12 mos
- Evade Book #3 25,000 — 12,500 per month, 3,125 per week, 625 per 5 days
- Wyvernshield #3 100,000 — 17,000 per month, 4,250 per week, 850 per 5 days
- Once per quarter do an ad (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or Amazon)
- Buy new table & cart
- Buy banner stands
- Find/design a book stand
- Buy Metal Bookmarkers for new books
- Once per quarter do a local book signing
- Participate in one national comic convention if possible
- Expand email list
- Once per quarter do a giveaway
- Donate older book versions to libraries
So this is the 2020 Plan but as they are “goals”, these are subject to change, subject to incompletion, and subject to postponement! LOL
While 2019 was a tough and emotional year for me and my family, it turned out overall a very important and rewarding year. In the end, I learned you just have to have faith all will work out and have faith in yourself that you have the strength to see it through!
I wish all of you a successful and happy new year as well!
Check out this great interview I did with fellow writer, Adam C. Mitchell.
Having a chat with… Author Derek Barton
I had the privilege to chat with American Horror Author Derek Barton a head of him launching a 4 part guest blog series on this site. Check out his Interview below, my review of his book on the Author Review Page ” Consequences Within Chaos” and his first article on the blog tomorrow…
2. Place of Birth
Small town in Indiana
3. Present Occupation (other than author)
A sales supervisor for a healthcare call center. (snooozzzzeee)
Hiking, video games, movies
5. Memberships in Organizations
I am a member to several Facebook groups but nothing outside of that.
6. Current Book Description Just finished my last installment of the Elude series I have been writing. It follows a desperate cat-and-mouse chase between a young ex-con, Vic Vicente, and a sadistic serial killer who keeps placing bodies and blame on Vic. The core of the story is how Vic has to elude the detectives on his case and elude the real murderer using only his wits and street instincts.
Book Blurb: Stepping blindly into a horrific murder scene, a young ex-con, Vicente Vargas, must flee from the police while eluding the real killer who continues to pin more bodies on him in this intricate cat-and-mouse game. Cut off from all friends and family, tried and convicted by the press, Vic must survive on his wits and cunning on the gritty streets of Phoenix, Arizona long enough to clear his name.
7. How did you come to write this book?
I liked the idea of a serial killer who chooses a “patsy” for his crimes only his pawn doesn’t behave in the expected patterns. The killer’s flaw is his own racism.
8. Other publication’s you have out (books listed in order of release:)
A/ Consequences Within Chaos
B/ In Four Days
C/ The Bleeding Crown
D/ Elude: Part One
E/ Elude: Part Two
9. Blogs and Websites (With links):
Author website @ https://rivyen.wordpress.com/
Facebook Page @ https://www.facebook.com/NovelistDerekBarton/
Twitter Accont @ https://twitter.com/Rivyen
and my Patreon Page @ https://www.patreon.com/user?u=16518751
10. Are there any special markets where we can find your work?
Not at this time.
11. Are there any book-stores where we can browse your work?
I am at a local bookstore called Bookman’s Exchange in Phoenix, Arizona. A small selection of my earlier works.
12. Do You have a mailing list?
Yes, I do for a monthly newsletter which I update my core fans with my progress, what book giveaways I am running and where I can be found for personal book signings.
13. Any reviews of your work you would like to share?
Yes, William Bitner Jr, an online book reviewer, read and wrote up a great review of Elude: Part Three. Check it out here: https://booksinmylibraryblog.wordpress.com/2019/04/10/elude-part-three-by-derek-barton/
14. Do you have any Endorser or specific people you would like to thank for whatever reason?
Yes, I would like to thank and give a shout out to my patrons Susanna Willey, Deborah West & Jon Paul Rai on Patreon.com. Their help and support mean a lot and let me do more for my entire fan base than I could alone.
15. What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
What is the first book that made you cry? I remember sitting in my class in grade school reading Watership Down and the character Bigwig was ensnared. I thought he died, and I burst into tears in the middle of class…pretty embarrassing, but I had my own rabbit and it hit a nerve.
16. In your opinion what is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
Of course, plagiarism is the worst offense any writer can make, but I think another issue I have noticed is this “writers selling to writers” trend. Professional writers offering “expert” tips, strategies, etc to help less experienced writers and they just pour out the same information found everywhere for free online with exorbitant fees or monthly payments. I am not saying that there isn’t good reference material out there, but it seems like too many writers are profiting and making a big paycheck off the backs of less experienced or successful writers.
17. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It can definitely do both, but if the thrill of telling a story or entertaining someone isn’t there then you should rethink what you are in it for. I love it where a fan or a reader wants to discuss an event in one of my stories and wants to know the reasons behind my decisions. It means that I touched them, and my story engaged them – it’s such a great interaction and motivation to me. Writing keeps me breathing!
18. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
A trap I fell into was the belief I could do my own editing. It seems easy enough to just go back through and read your work, but editing is a completely different mode of thinking and analyzing. You really need to hire out for it. The other trap I see is the lack of building your email list. Putting your book on Amazon won’t be enough to build your platform. You have to keep shouting in that crowded room of a thousand new faces on Amazon. If you don’t market or make yourself seen, your work will be never noted and go unseen.
19. What is your writing Kryptonite?
Not having an outline. I’m a total plotter. Writer’s block to me is an empty white screen and no notes on the side to follow. In fact, until I really saw the benefit to an outline, I never completed a story I wrote until in my thirties. I would always start strong, peter out and flounder in the middle and never reach the end of the stories. All I had accomplished was a drawer filled with half-attempts.
20. Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
No, I haven’t. However, I cannot find time to sit and read. I’m a huge audiobook fan and that is the only way I can get through books now. Too many responsibilities require my time so I make use of driving time, standing in line, working out, and other opportunities to pop on my audio book. It is another reason I have even gotten three of my stories on Audible.com. Consequences Within Chaos, The Bleeding Crown and In Four Days are all in audio book formats. Elude is the process of being made into an audio book.
21. Have you got a pen name you use?
No. I have no use or desire to create one at this time.
22.. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
To me, you have to do a bit of both to be successful. Give the reader what they’re looking for but with a touch of a twist or something unique added.
23. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have my father who was always an inspiration for me to become a writer. I have several friends that are writers (Nesa Miller, Adam Mitchell, Logan Fox, Jon Paul Rai and Susanne Lambdin) that I ask questions or seek advice often. It’s a journey and everyone can learn something new from anyone. And we all become stronger for sharing experiences, sharing services and sharing support.
24. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I am definitely trying to build a world of work within the fantasy side of my writing (Consequences Within Chaos and The Bleeding Crown). My horror stories (In Four Days and Elude) accidentally became linked when one of the surviving characters in In Four Days became a perfect fit for a character needed in Elude. And now, I am working on a new horror/crime series called Evade that will have another big connection to In Four Days.
To read the rest of the interview CLICK HERE!
Thought it was due time to give you a little more insight into me as a writer and me as the average Joe.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers? Be consistent and persistent. You have to keep pushing and pushing. I’m seeing slow progress (a steady incline!), but it is definitely not an overnight-success kind of thing. It takes a lot of work and faith in yourself. Right now is a fantastic time to be a writer as there are tons of advice columns, writer blogs and mentoring sites out there to get any of your questions answered.
What is your writing routine? How do you discipline yourself to keep at it? I work on my writing every night — usually between 10 through 2 AM. It’s become my passion and my stress release, so when I don’t get to it or have no energy to do it, I feel even worse actually. I have three kids and I do have a full-time day job as a sales supervisor for a medicare healthcare company which occupies the majority of my life. So those few hours of the day that I can spend on my writing is crucial. I don’t waste them or take them for granted. My writing is a lengthy process so if I want to share more stories, then that is what it takes.
How do you begin a novel? My novels are first outlined and broken down into scenes. Some people are plotters and some can do it by the “seat of their pants” (called pantsers). I tried for many years to be a pantser, but it finally became apparent to me that I NEED AN OUTLINE in order to stay on track and not lose my place in the storyline. Plus I tend to weave subplots within the main story and that can be a very delicate surgery sometimes!
Do you go through a lot of drafts? I tend to do a very involved outline now (what I call my Bullet Outline) and then I write the first draft. Then I make another two rounds of personal editing if possible. My editing skills are nowhere near what I thought they were — you will find real quick what your level of editing skills are when you send it to a professional! YIKES! I am trying to get better and now that I see the trends, I try to avoid those mistakes in my initial writing or I will go back through and weed them out.
Where is your favorite place to write and why? I am not a picky person when it comes to where. Some writers have to have everything precise and always uniform (same place, same time, same paper or same coffee mug, etc). I am flexible, but that’s also because I had to learn to be. I don’t have an office — I write in the living room! The only thing I really need is isolation — I immerse myself into the writing and focus on the picture forming inside my head to find all the needed details and imagery I can put upon the page. Other than that, I am good to go.
What is the first book you remember reading? I read Watership Down by Richard Adams in sixth grade. It sucked me in even though it was a novel all about the desperate lives of wild rabbits. From there I read The Hobbit and became addicted to fantasy stories. Later in my teens (go figure!), I couldn’t pass up any horror novels I found. Thus, I have an attraction to writing in both genres. And often times, there are elements of both in my stories.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? I am definitely working to have a body of work that has some common connections. My fantasy stories are all in the same world and same characters for now… But my horror novellas are also linked. A minor character, a Detective Chad Ellis in the novella In Four Days becomes a key figure and character in my Elude series. Finding those little threads which bind a story with another always entertained me as a reader so I wanted to give that back to my fans as well.
What was your hardest scene to write? In Consequences Within Chaos, I found the hardest scene to write for me was the first major battle my heroes faced with the Viestrahl (a beast race intent on destroying the humans colonizing their lands). I had never had experience writing one and unless you know exactly all the details, you really can’t just write the scene out. Even though I had an outline and I knew the generalities of what I wanted as an outcome, I didn’t have the specifics. In other words, who goes where, who comes in later, who gets injured, how do they get injured, who dies, etc. It is a lot to take in and it daunted me horribly. I put the book aside for several months before I took the plunge and bulldozed through it. Once I got into it and learned the process, I was able to take up other battle scenes quicker and with better organization.
Okay… now for a little less serious insight into me!
DO YOU PLAY BOARD GAMES? WHICH ONES? Yes. My wife’s and I’s favorite is a game called Lords of Waterdeep. We also like games that have links to the Call of Cthulhu stories by H.P. Lovecraft.
WHAT MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO? When I am in the car, it’s heavy metal. When working out, it’s techno or dubstep. When I am writing I love epic classical going in the background.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT TIME YOU WERE BORN? Sometime after 6 AM (probably the only time in my life I chose to wake early!)
WHAT DO YOU WANT MORE THAN ANYTHING RIGHT NOW? Make enough book sales to write professionally, but I would also love to have a much bigger fan base.
WHAT’S YOUR MIDDLE NAME? Don’t have one. My parents hated theirs so they decided I didn’t need to be stuck with one.
THE BEST TV SHOW EVER CREATED? Game of Thrones and close behind it Dexter (hmmm there is that fantasy and horror combo again!)
DO YOU GET SCARED IN THE DARK? No. But I do like to come up with ideas for horror stories while sitting or walking in the dark.
WOULD YOU RATHER BE SMART OR FUNNY? Can I go for both and be a smartass?
COFFEE OR ENERGY DRINKS? With my late hours, I am a double Rockstar morning person. I know it’s not the best for me, but I don’t drink or smoke so this isn’t such a horrible vice.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PIZZA TOPPING? Hawaiian Pizza baby!!
IF YOU CAN EAT ANYTHING RIGHT NOW, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Snow Crab Legs or Prime Rib.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CAR? Red Chevy Nova
WHAT IS YOUR FANTASY CAREER? Screenplay writer
ARE YOU A LEFTY OR A RIGHTY? Righty.
DO YOU LIKE SPICY FOOD? Nope. I have been accused of saying vanilla ice cream is spicy!
WHAT ANNOYS YOU MOST? Tone of voice. So easy for people to say stuff “jokingly” but their tone says what they are really feeling.
HAVE YOU BEEN OUT OF YOUR COUNTRY? WHERE DID YOU GO? Yes. Canada and Mexico a couple times. That’s it. Someday I would love to see Austrailia and Scotland.
FAVORITE FOOD? Chinese
FIRST JOB? Busboy at a buffet. HATED IT! Only restaurant job I ever worked.
HAVE YOU EVER RIDDEN A MOTORCYCLE? Yes, my father and I would go on rides when I was younger.
WHAT TV SHOWS DO YOU WATCH CURRENTLY? Game of Thrones, Criminal Minds, Mr. Mercedes, Face-off
CAN YOU PLAY AN INSTRUMENT? I used to play Alto & Baritone Saxophone in middle school but doubt I would do very well with it now. I can’t read music anymore that’s for sure!
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT? Sedona, AZ or there’s a cabin rental property in Strawberry, AZ.
HOW MANY (MORE) KIDS DO YOU WANT? No more thank you… We are a complete family.
WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Ugh… I don’t really want to answer this… Fine… I was named after Derek & The Dominos. *Shaking my head.
DO YOU KNOW HOW TO SWIM? I can. Grew up around lakes my whole life. And now that I live in the desert, I swim in pools on occasion.
DO YOU GET SEASICK? Horribly! I cannot even play first-person shooter video games due to motion-sickness. And don’t get me started about the night I went to see Blair Witch in the movies!
ARE YOU MARRIED? Yes, for five years and counting!
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Warsaw, Indiana — it’s near Fort Wayne, Indiana.
WHAT WERE YOUR FAVORITE TOYS AS A CHILD? Stretch Armstrong, Army Men and Hot Wheels
DO YOU HAVE ANY TATTOOS OR PIERCINGS? I have one large Tribal tattoo on my shoulder that has three dragon heads circling a Celtic knot. It represents my Past, my Present and my Future.
I think that’s enough for this year. 🙂
Hope you got a smile at least out of this silliness.
It’s that time again to hold my production record up to the spotlight and see how I did…
- Complete the Audiobook for In Four Days. DONE! Now available for sale on Amazon & Audible.com for $4.86 (membership pricing)!!
- Create/organize this year’s 2018 Indie Fantasy Book Giveaway with several other independent authors. DONE! I will be sending out another blog on this shortly, but I will be hosting the 2018 Indie Giveaway for the month of September.
- Add a new page to the site showcasing associates and people I have worked with and what they can do for other writers. DONE — sort of. I did a blog shout-out as my show of appreciation for their help and efforts.
- Find at least two places to do a book-signing appearance. PARTIAL FAIL. Got a book-signing with Bookmans in Phoenix for Oct 6th. Still looking for another location.
- Schedule one or two more comic-cons or book festivals by the end of the year. FAIL. I just don’t have the finances yet for the extra costs to do the comic-cons yet, but this is a major goal of mine to accomplish for next year. I hope to have at least two or three appearances booked for 2019.
- Finish editing for Elude #1 & #2. DONE — sort of… I have finished Elude #1 but Elude #2 is still being worked through. Elude #1’s editing took a bit longer than I hoped but at least I was still able to get the book produced by the end of August. 🙂
- Design the book cover for Elude #1 & #2. DONE! Very happy with the book cover — decided to just use one cover for all three parts. Now if I could get a better handle on doing book blurbs.
- Write the end of Elude #3. FAIL. Just too much to get fully written on top of all the editing.
- Send out Monthly Newsletters by 15th of the month. DONE
- Keep up The Hidden saga on the website every 2 weeks. DONE
70% GOAL COMPLETION!!! Highest scoring yet. I didn’t accomplish 80% to actually consider this a “WIN”, but I feel the two months were still very successful and productive.
- Complete the editing of Elude #2.
- Publish Elude #2 by the end of October.
- Complete the writing for Elude #3 (about 30,000 to 40,000 words).
- Start my outline for Book #3 for the Wyvernshield Fantasy series.
- Write up and prepare for writing in the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) Challenge in November — Book #3 will be my focus for NaNoWriMo! (50,000 word count goal!)
- Do a book-signing event in Arizona.
- Craft a video book trailer for Consequences Within Chaos and The Bleeding Crown. (Can you say strettcccchhhhh gooooaaalll???)
- Work up my booth design for comic-cons and book festivals.
- Send out Monthly Newsletters by 15th of the month.
- Keep up The Hidden saga on the website every 2 weeks.
This year has flown — I cannot believe how fast it flew by!
I started this blog in July of 2016 to help promote my new book and to do some writing research as well as experience sharing. While the climb up the mountain is far from over, I can look back over my shoulder proudly.
Here is a list of writing goals that I have accomplished in the year since my last blog anniversary:
- Written, edited and published The Bleeding Crown as well as designed the book cover myself! I am super happy with the outcome of the story and hope to begin outlining the series finale soon. Expect to see it in 2020!!
- Written two more novellas like In Four Days. My upcoming Horror-Suspense series, Elude: Part One and Elude: Part Two will be published by the end of the year.
- Participated and wrote 50,241 words in the month of November for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) Challenge. That was the first time I took part in it and plan to this November as well.
- Wrote and edited every couple of weeks (give or take) a horror web series with my father T.D. Barton called The Hidden. It has been very fulfilling for the both of us I believe. He finally gets to see his own writing come to fruition — it only took 30 years! In the upcoming year, it will be released in full book format.
- Partnered up with two voice actors for my works — Consequences Within Chaos (which is available now on Audible.com) and In Four Days (which will be released on Audible by the end of the year!) Really happy with the productions and I have already gotten Laura Richcreek (the actress for CWC) to start on The Bleeding Crown. Nothing is more thrilling than hearing your words performed. Not a movie (yet! heh heh heh) but very close to a play as far as performance.
Blog stats and growth since 2017 and from its start in 2016:
- 1303 views / 862 visitors since July 2017
- 1603 views / 659 in 2016 and all together that is 2,906 views / 1,521 people that have read and/or visited my writer’s blog since it was first started in July 2016.
- This is the 70th Blog Post for the site!
- 36 followers through WordPress and current email list @ 2,226!!
- Readers have checked in from 42 different countries around the globe!!!
- 310 Followers on Twitter, 90 Followers on my Facebook page, 25 Followers/166 Friends on Goodreads.com and now on Instagram 82 Followers! — It’s a small tribe but we are growing!
What’re my goals for the next year?
- Book a table at a book festival or comic-con in Arizona.
- Find a local bookstore to do a book-signing in Phoenix, Arizona.
- Maintain monthly book/audiobook giveaways.
- Write another novella, Elude: Part Three.
- Finalize and publish The Hidden.
- Write a fantasy novella — perhaps in the same world as the novels, but maybe something brand new?!
- Get The Bleeding Crown and Elude series on Audible as well!
- Do at least one out of state large comic-con like the Amazing Las Vegas Comic-con.
- Write at least another 50,000 words in NaNoWriMo Challenge.
- Keep on finding new ways to attract readers to this blog and find new stories to entertain you with!!
- Special shout out to Ted Barton — not only my mentor and my toughest critic (lol!), but my biggest inspiration. Without your own endeavors to push the envelope, I would not have the confidence to reach for my own. Thank you for all your guidance and love.
- Thank you to Nesa Miller who has diligently helped me with my work and really shown me ways to improve upon my writing. You don’t always beat around the bush with how you feel, but your assistance and targeted editing has been a huge boost to my work! You may not yet have your own Editing Site going yet, but when you do, you’ll be a great success!!
- My friend and great supporter, Jon Paul Rai, who has worked with me on both of my fantasy novels and has been a strong advocate on his own Youtube Channel, Entertainment Hacker. Check him out if you are a Star Wars Fan as he has some great material and insight into the storylines and the direction they SHOULD go!
- Nothing but praise and gratitude to my voice actor partners (Laura Richcreek and Charles Pendleton). You have brought to life my characters and taken the writing to that next level. I can never repay you for your time and efforts in that! Thanks so much.
- My number one fans and beta-readers, Susanna Willey and Renee York! You guys have truly made this a blast and your reviews on Amazon and Goodreads have absolutely put me on Cloud Nine. I appreciate all your efforts to spread the word and to get my name out there!
- Last I would like to thank Susanne Lambdin for her words of advice on marketing and continued support for my own growth as a writer. Thank you for your partnership and I look forward to the day we can attend another comic-con together!
THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO HAVE SUPPORTED, READ AND GIVEN ME ASSISTANCE WITH MY WORK! It truly honors me any time I hear that someone has enjoyed or been entertained by my work. There are a million storytellers in all sorts of styles and manner. I know that for you to pick my writing to spend your own precious time with cannot be taken for granted or wasted. Each time I think maybe this isn’t what I should be doing with my life or sacrificing my energies on, someone reminds me how it touched their world and it made a difference to them. As a writer, I cannot ask for anything more.
Here’s to our lives and paths continuing to cross in the future!
It’s time for more goal setting and goal results!
I do want to apologize that I skipped out of sending a post for May & June. The only goals I had for those two months were to produce The Bleeding Crown and the audiobook for Consequences Within Chaos. So for those two months, I was successful, but the effort was all-consuming. I am frankly still worn out!
Now for the results of March & April Bi-Monthly goals:
- Outline new chapters for subplots and additional material – Finish by 2nd week of March (Success!)
- Finish writing new subplots/additional material – Finish by 3rd week of March (Success!)
- Complete 3rd Wave of edits & send out to Beta Readers – Finish by end of March (Success!)
- Complete 1st Wave of edits for Elude #1 – Finish by end of April (Not completed in April.)
- Complete the Cover for The Bleeding Crown – Finish by end of March (Not completed until late May. Went through over thirty variations! But the result worked out and I am very happy with the cover.)
- Get feedback from beta-readers – Finish by end of April (Not completed in April.)
- Complete the 4th wave and final edit for The Bleeding Crown – Finish by end of April (Not completed in April.)
- Write a separate blog entry outside of goals and The Hidden Saga — Finish by 2nd week for April (Not accomplished.)
- Walk 1 mile a day (60 miles for the two months) – Complete for both months (Sadly this didn’t happen either as I donated every minute into getting The Bleeding Crown ready for release.)
- Send out Monthly Newsletters by 15th of the month – Complete for both months (Success!)
- Keep up The Hidden saga on the website every 2 weeks – Complete for both months (Success!)
So the overall results were not pretty — 50% of the goals my lowest scoring yet — but I am still very happy with my latest novel. I have taken the time after the book release to recoup some and will be able to jump into the horror/action/thriller. Already, the work for Elude is going very smoothly.
Now for the NEW goals for July & August Bi-Monthly goals:
- Complete the Audiobook for In Four Days.
- Create/organize this year’s 2018 Indie Fantasy Book Giveaway with several other independent authors.
- Add a new page to the site showcasing associates and people I have worked with and what they can do for other writers.
- Find at least two places to do a book-signing appearance.
- Schedule one or two more comic-cons or book festivals by the end of the year.
- Finish editing for Elude #1 & #2.
- Design the book cover for Elude #1 & #2.
- Write the end of Elude #3.
- Send out Monthly Newsletters by 15th of the month.
- Keep up The Hidden saga on the website every 2 weeks.
You may notice that I didn’t include any health or personal goals here. I am working on finding a better balance with my free time with writing work and health/fitness time. Plus I have a family that I want to see more of!
In 2016 and 2017, I walked up to 3 or 4 miles nearly every night. In 2018, I have fallen into a bad pattern of not walking and spending a lot of time on my writing. But my health has seriously suffered and I am my heaviest weight ever. I am admitting this because I know that I can and will do better. For now, I will be posting my writing goals. Once I have decided what direction I want to take with my health, I will then maybe include those personal/health goals.
It has already been a successful and productive year and I hope to keep it growing. I hope each of you has also had an amazing year. Thanks to everyone who has supported me or been a cheerleader — IT IS GREATLY APPRECIATED!!