My journey to become a novelist

Although I didn’t know it at the time, I started my first novel as a senior in high school.

It began as a short story about two characters in a fantasy world, and as I recall was inspired by the 1980s Robin Hood television show. Before I began my novel, I had completed a beast of a project, a 20-page short story. It was for one of my classes, and until that point had been the longest thing I had ever written. After that challenge, I would have been scandalized if someone told me I could write an entire novel.

So I wasn’t writing a novel that day. I just had an image, a scene in my head that wouldn’t leave me alone.

Read more…

Judging a book by its cover

Novels are a collection of ideas and images and characters and philosophies and stories, all twisted up in a blender until all the bits come together into a coherent series of words that we recognize as a book.

These words then get wrapped up in their cover like a Christmas present, with shiny and colorful paper that includes the title and author.

Some books have fantastic covers, others… not so much.

Read more…

Tess Warn: A dear woman who helped others until the very end

I just learned about the passing of an amazing woman who is no stranger to WordPress.com.

The lovely Tess Warn passed away a week ago.

I got to know Tess well during the two years I worked for WordPress.com, for Tess, known as 1Tess on the WordPress.com forums, was the one and only volunteer moderator on the English support forums where I also worked. She had earned that unique role for her consistently helpful and pleasant demeanor, and she was always constructive in her approach. As happens in most online forums, such traits are rare among the “regulars” and it was no different there. She was a compassionate and friendly voice that rose above the not infrequent sour notes. As a staff member, I couldn’t help but appreciate her contributions, and I occasionally reached out to her in private.

Read more…

Author Platforms Turn Writing into a Business

Writing your novel or nonfiction book is only the beginning. If you want people to buy your book, you need to develop an author platform as part of your marketing efforts and to build a relationship with your readers.

Speaking to the Indie Publishing Austin meetup, Tom Corson-Knowles (the bestselling self-published author of 20+ books including The Kindle Publishing Bible series, founder of TCK Publishing, and host of The Publishing Profits Podcast), offered up excellent tips on how authors can build an online presence and an audience for their books.

As he defined it, the author platform is the combination of methods, tools, and resources that an author uses to connect to readers and build an audience.

Read more…

My visit to the stuffed animal petting zoo

Lion loves to garden
Lion loves to garden

Once upon a time in Austin TX, 37th Street was a place of magic and miracles. A short little street tucked behind businesses on Guadalupe, it was unremarkable in every way until December. That’s when every house on the street hung hundreds of strands of Christmas lights to and fro, up and down and around and around. There were dazzling spinning lights and stars and angels, lights in soda cans and BBQ pits and dog houses, and even the street itself was bedecked with sparkling lights of all colors, strung from one house to another. People would take their children to visit the lights, residents would hand out cookies and snacks, and random groups of locals would drop by for Christmas caroling.

Read more…

Just past the halfway mark…

It’s November 17th, and the month is a little more than half over. For a writer that can only mean one thing… NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), also known as the month in which writers nearly go insane, is also half over. We have willingly accepted the challenge to craft a new novel of at least 50,000 words, and it’s all downhill from here. This is my second year participating in NaNo, and this time it should be a lot easier, right? No, it doesn’t get easier. Sure, you learn some techniques and tricks during your virgin NaNo experience that make the mechanics easier the second time around. The writing, though… the stringing together of words in some sort of (semi) logical fashion, and constantly moving forward with a story? That never really gets easier. There may be times when you can spit out 3000 words without breaking a sweat… and times when putting together a complete sentence almost is … Read more…