Why Do You Write?

Every writer has a different reason for writing.

Some write from a place of pain, and their writing is both healing to themselves and a message to the world about true hurts.

Some write from a place of joy, wanting to share the positive experiences that tie all humans together.

Some write because they have a message to deliver, a cause they want others to support, or a lesson they want others to learn.

Some write to explore the inner workings of their own minds, or to help others explore theirs.

Some write just to tell a good story.

All of these are equally valid reasons for writing. And there are probably many more reasons that people write, and every reason is valid and important.

If you’ve experienced darkness and evil in this world, and you write to cleanse your inner demons and show light to others who have similarly suffered, don’t let anyone tell you that your writing is wrong or too dark or shouldn’t be written about.

If you’re passionate about a cause or a belief and you write to let others know the value of something they may have never heard of or experienced before, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re being too preachy or that your topic shouldn’t be written about.

If you just want to tell a fun story, full of fictional people and events that never happened, don’t let anyone tell you that your writing is pointless or is silly fluff that shouldn’t be written about.

All writing has a place, all writing matters. If your audience is the world, if your audience is just you, it matters.

Go write your story.

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When You’re Hit with a Shiny New Idea

Most of us creative types are often working on at least two projects at any given time.

So what do you do when you’re going along as planned, making headway (or not) on your current creative projects, and a Shiny New Idea hits you out of the blue?

The way I see it, you can handle this one of three ways:

File it away for later

Whether your Shiny New Idea is just the vaguest form of a concept or a full-blown Idea, write it down. You’ll never bring your Idea to fruition – now or later – if you don’t first write it down. And no, you won’t remember it later. Writing it down and filing it away is a good way to a) remember the Idea when the first Shininess has worn off, and b) let it cool before you interrupt all your current projects to work on it. Continue reading

2017 – A Year in Review

This has been quite a year for me. For all of my followers, I hope you have enjoyed reading my posts, and have gotten some useful and insightful tidbits from this blog. And I hope you continue to read, because in 2018 I plan to delve deeper into all things writerly, both for myself and to share with my fans and followers.

2017 has been a busy year for me, full of learning experiences, dreams being realized, and unexpected blessings. Here’s a quick rundown of my year:

  • In the spring, I left the only home I’d ever known (central Virginia) and moved across the country to the inland northwest (north Idaho). I had no job or place to live lined up, but my sister and her family had moved out there the year before, and I was ready for a change. So I packed up my cat and my books in a U-Haul (don’t panic – the cat rode in the car, not the trailer) and drove across the country.
  • Just a few short months later, I’m living in a little cottage built in 1929, surrounded by fruit trees and mountain views. My town has one traffic light, no McDonald’s, and no movie theater. Most of my neighbors have chickens, and it’s not uncommon to see someone riding a horse through downtown. It’s a border town, so I see as many Montana and British Columbia license plates as I do Idaho plates. My town does have a library and a used book store, though, so there’s that.
  • I’ve met so many new writers this year, both in real life and online. There’s a pretty vibrant writing/artistic community in my area. And Twitter is a wonderful platform for connecting with writers from all over.
  • I published three books this year. They’re all short (a novella and two short stories), but hey, it still makes me an officially published author.
  • I’ve been delving into dieselpunk this year, and learning more and more about all the different nuances of this “punk” sub-genre of science fiction or historical fantasy. I’m learning that there’s a niche for every interest, and a market (even if it’s a small one) for every niche. If you’re not sure who your target audience is for your books, or what to call the kind of books that you’re writing, then keep searching and keep reaching out. You’ll find your people.
  • I had a white Christmas for the first time in forever. I think I experienced a white Christmas perhaps twice my whole life in Virginia. I’m a big lover of snow, and an even bigger lover of Christmas and all things holiday, so having two feet of white powder on Christmas was pretty much a dream come true.

I hope every one of you had some good experiences in 2017. Whether 2017 was your best year or not, find something to be thankful, something you can learn from, and set your goals and dreams for the upcoming year.

Onward to 2018!

Why I’m Writing Short Stories Instead of Novels

I’ve always considered myself a novelist. I love long involved stories, the more epic the better. As a kid I loved The Chronicles of Narnia, then I read The Lord of the Rings and others (The Silmarillion, etc.) I love a thick novel with a thick plot (like The Historian), and my favorite TV show is the sprawling sci-fi epic Babylon 5.

And so, I began writing what I loved reading. In middle school I had an epic fantasy series that I wrote on for several years (I’d planned to make it a seven book series, and wrote first drafts of about two and a half books). When I first started this blog a few years ago, I was working on an epic fantasy trilogy inspired by the folktales of Finland.

While I have not given up on either fantasy series, both have been temporarily shelved and I’ve started writing short fiction. Because of my love of long epic stories, I never thought of myself as a short story writer. Continue reading

5 Types of Books to Make You a Better Writer

This is a re-blogging of a post I wrote a couple of years ago, but I believe the content continues to be valid. It’s said that writers should be readers – which is true – but just what exactly are we supposed to be reading? Here’s my take on books for writers:

A Craft of Writing Book

This is one category that I need to work on more. I’ve read a few books on the craft of writing, but it’s something that even the best authors can always get better at. If you want to get better at writing, then constantly writing is important – but a how-to writing book can help you strengthen your writing strengths, adjust your weaknesses, and point out mistakes you didn’t even realize you were making. Continue reading

5 Google Tips for Authors

The Internet is a writer’s friend. We use it for research, for social media, and for selling (and buying) books. I offer tips and personalized coaching for writers and their social media platforms, and so I thought I’d write a blog post along similar lines to help writers with their Googling.

Research Names

Some time ago I got into the habit of researching proper names before I used them in a story, and I believe it’s a good habit to have. I think it’s especially important in contemporary or historical fiction, because it’s very easy to accidentally name your character after someone famous (that you didn’t know about, but that one of your readers most likely will). I also recommend doing it if you want a fictitious town (or road or school) in a real place; like, say, you want your characters to live in small-town Nebraska, but you don’t want to make said small town an actual real place. Go ahead and research cities, towns, and communities in Nebraska so that you don’t accidentally wind up setting your story in a real place that you will then mispresent because you thought it wasn’t real. Continue reading