Do NOT Live in the Now

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Many times in life I’ve been given the advice, “Live in the now.” Dwelling on the past robs you of the present. If you live for the future, you will never get there. Philosophically, I agree. We can only  affect what we are currently doing. Guilt for things we’ve done saps energy and sours today. Constantly reaching for future goals means never experiencing the greatness you could be feeling.

So, from the perspective of living, it’s great advice.

From the point of view of an author, however, it’s terrible.

Writing a book takes a LOT of time. Few have the luxury of sprinting through a manuscript un-distracted. So that means dedicating a lot of “right nows” to something you only vaguely hope will pay off in the long run. The biggest enemy of an author is “the now.” If you want to have a great experience, you’ll go out with friends or binge watch the latest TV show. Those things feel better in the moment.

Don’t get my wrong. Writing is emotional. It’s a lot of great moments. But they are solitary, and the good times are punctuated with outlines, edits, and confusion. That’s where the emotion driven artist falls down. The passion to create can only fuel so much writing. So you either have to stick to short stories, or you eventually have to face the long dark of the manuscript.

It means choosing not to have fun or relax during your precious few hours after work. It means not going out on a Saturday sometimes. It means closing Facebook, turning your phone to silent, locking your door and sitting in a desk chair. Those hours have to come from somewhere… and that means a lot of “right nows” that you don’t really live in… rather you work through.

I’m not saying you have to become a hermit. See friends. Watch TV. Have great experiences and moments. Those are all fuel for future characters and scenes. However, you can’t live in it. Some of your time has to be the fitful typing when you’d rather be at a movie.

That’s the price of writing a book. And if you want to get good, you have to write MANY.

So when people say, write what you love, it’s because you will be dedicating a lot of present hours to something unsure in the future. Learn to love the journey. Find enjoyment in slogging through proofreading or tweaking an outline. Only when those difficult tasks become something you enjoy will the actual time spent writing become something rewarding enough that you don’t have to rely on the end payouts to make it worthwhile.

In the long run, that’s the only way to get from “Once upon a time…” to–

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GameLit Expansion Pack

GameLit Expansion Pack

Cover Reveal!

Now a story from my writing past…

When I started writing, I only wrote novels. I’d written ten or twelve of them when I started seriously querying publishers. After a LOOOOONG stretch of nobody interested, I heard people say sometimes you can break in by writing short stories and publishing those first to build up a writer resume. So I tried my hand at shorter form fiction.

I entered the Writers of the Future contest a few times and submitted to the big sci-fi magazines. Even those were a little above my level at the time. Eventually, I found some “for exposure” anthologies and managed to get three stories in. Soon after, I sold my first steampunk story for money ($20.00). And “won” a contest that included getting another story published and fifty bucks.20130530-222635.jpg

With this new resume, I began querying again. I saw Curiosity Quills calling for subs on Twitter, and they accepted my first book. That book, Theocracide, is GameLit. Only, at the time, nobody used that label.

The first label I heard of was LitRPG. My publisher caught a trend and wanted to brand the Actuator series accordingly. It worked well, boosting sales. But as the fans of LitRPG fleshed out what that really meant, the definition didn’t really fit my work. To be LitRPG, having a role-playing game the books are set in and including scenes where people go into video game realities isn’t enough. They wanted actual game statistics in the book. So my publisher re-branded the Actuator series as GameLit, where it belongs.

Actuator Series Wallpaper

I wasn’t excited by LitRPG books I read where they say things like, “Adarian leveled up when he killed the troll, gaining 6 hit points and better fighting skills.” It just pulls me out of the story. Clearly a lot of other authors felt the same way. So, they created a label to separate game-based literature from stories that literally describe the game terms. The new subgenre, of course, is GameLit.

actuator-rpg-e-book-coverAs I talked with other authors interested in these themes, and supported their facebook pages, Indie Illuminati issued me an invitation to put a story into an anthology designed to raise awareness of this new genre. Several authors writing in that field were each preparing novelettes (15,000 – 20,000 words) to go with GameLit books they’d written. One of the contributing authors dropped out and they asked me to fill the void.

It just so happened that my current work in progress, Virtues & Virtual Reality, is a GameLit book. If not, I probably wouldn’t have agreed to such a large side project on such a short deadline. Anyway, I immediately knew what story I’d tell for this antho, and I’m over 10,000 words into it now. That story: Pre-screening Test.

Since the rest of them are ahead, they already started advertising. The cover (top) is out and they have it available for pre-order on Amazon. When I looked it up today, I saw it’s already ranking on the Amazon charts! You should get it now while it’s cheap, BTW. Only 99 cents!

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They have a “Pre-release Party” page up on Facebook, too. They’re giving away books every week until the release. (Go check it out!)

Also, there is a book trailer! (Watch it now!)

What struck me about this situation is how everything fell into place so neatly. After years spinning my wheels and never getting any kind of interest from publishers, I’m now to the point where invitations come to me. It feels pretty great.

So, if you’re an aspiring author, keep at it! Write a lot of books and stories. Write what you love. Submit like crazy. Most of all, keep writing. Once you break in, things get a lot easier. 🙂

GameLit Expansion Pack Box Set

 

Glimpses

Glimpses

The amazingly talented Craig Nybo, recently started a project where authors write lyrics that tell stories (or relate to stories they’ve told). I was honored to be invited to contribute. So I wrote a short piece from the perspective of a Sasquatch called THE STRONG MUST WAIT. The album is aptly titled GLIMPSES. I know many of the authors invited to contribute, including international bestsellers and several that are close friends. In order to cover production costs (not even compensating Craig for the many hours he put in), please back the kickstarter and help make this a reality! You can listen to samples and see the line up here:

Glimpses Kickstarter

I’m not saying my song is the best. I’ll let you be the judge. 🙂

The Strong Must Wait

 

Here are the lyrics:

 

The Strong Must Wait

 

Verse 1

Reaching out with senses to the edge of our world

Connecting to you with but a scent

Hunting to feed the only one I’ll ever hold

Never feeling what nature meant.

Stepping carefully where no twigs break

Scanning ever for intruders in our land

Only the most meager food dare I take

How long before we make our stand?

 

Chorus

Here in the wild, the strong must wait

Safe from guns and traps and hate.

We listen for the call to rally our side

Until the revolution, we must hide.

 

Verse 2

Every hairless weakling totes a camera now

The mists of legend are our only vein

Hiding in the deep, we predators bow

Without you I know I’d be insane.

Together we can weather all the storms

Your furry arms my warmth from winter cold

For you I gladly stay among the rocks and worms

Waiting for the day we can be bold.

 

Chorus

Here in the wild, the strong must wait

Safe from guns and traps and hate.

We listen for the call to rally our side

Until the revolution, we must hide.

 

Bridge

I cannot roar my love for you

I will not bear my claws

My muscles do not flex, it’s true

Until it’s time to change the laws

 

Chorus

Here in the wild, the strong must wait

Safe from guns and traps and hate.

We listen for the call to rally our side

Until the revolution, we must hide.

 

Buy the album!

Online Vote & Real Life Signing

I’m up for a Writecast Listener’s Award. If you want to help, all you have to do is go to this website and vote for my episode (Acquisitions Strategies and Content Rating Systems). I’m sure you’ve heard it, but if you’re just sure mine would be the best, that’s okay. 🙂

Vote here!

Signing Banner

Also, I’m doing a signing at Fortis College on Thursday, March 1, from 12:30 – 2:30 PM in Suite 200. If you have some time, please stop by! It’s the first time I’ll be signing paperbacks of The Actuator 4: The Last Key.

Come say hello!

The Last Key Wrap Cover

Uncommon Love

Uncommon Love

My latest blog post is part of series by Curiosity Quills Press on Romance (for February). I talked about love, but how genre fiction provides a unique medium for exploring non-standard relationships. Also, it includes an excerpt from Exacting Essence.

Go check it out!

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The Road So Far

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Five years.

The Last Key came out  five years after my first book and short story in print.

The full score is 6 Novels, 1 Novella, 3 Anthologies I edited, 1 RPG manual with 2 short stories in it), short stories in 18 Anthologies edited by other people (including 3 reprints), and comics in 2 episodes of 1 magazine.

I have 2 Novels ready to go whenever I decide to buckle down and send them in, and 4 short stories going into Anthologies coming out in the future (including 1 reprint). I’m currently working on a new novel, which I paused to experiment with a serial story.

I hope this doesn’t come off as bragging. I’m just taking stock of where I’ve been, as a way of deciding where I want to go next. It’s been a rough year, and I think I need a little direction and motivation before I start to build up momentum again. Seeing this block of covers really makes me happy.

A writer’s only real success is the readers, of course. I’m immensely grateful to my readers, fans, friends, and family. I’ll leave you with some eye candy from the first test version of The Last Key by cover artist Eugene Teplitsky.

Here’s to the next five years!

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The Last Paperback

The Last Key Wrap Cover

At long last, the last paperback (The Last Key) in the Actuator Series is out! If you read electronically, as the majority of people seem to do these days, then you probably already have it. For those who are holding out because they want the paper in their hands and the smell of a new press, your time has finally come.

For me, the ultimate moment will be placing this book on my shelf next to the others. Then it will finally feel complete. My copies are in the mail, so the time is coming soon.

It’s been an amazing journey. Thank you all for sticking with me through it!

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