This is my very first guest post on this blog. I don’t usually go guest posts or have guests because I’m actually rather shy, even online, but when I heard that this particular writer was releasing a new book and needed volunteers to help her spread the word, I jumped at the chance. I’ve read her previous release, a compilation of very unique stories centered around zombies and love called, Hungry For You. If your haven’t read it, I honestly recommend checking it out.
Without further ado, I present A.M. Harte.
Choosing what to write isn’t always easy.
Whether for a guest post, a short story, or a novel, indecision can sometimes paralyse you as you wonder what you should be writing.
What will sell? What are the current market trends? How can we ever know what people truly want to read?
I hesitated when I sat down to write today’s guest post. I scratched my head and tried to figure out what people might want to hear. Eventually, fed up, I clicked onto this very blog in search for inspiration… and found the answer in the website header.
Write your own story.
Many of us have heard this advice before, but it’s often difficult to remember. Nothing makes my day more than an excited email from a reader, or a positive review, or even a nice royalty check. How can I not think about what people might like to read — specifically, what might make them like me (and my work) more?
It was N.M. Martinez’s website header that knocked the sense back into me. Who cares what people might want to read, if such a thing is even possible to identify?
I could write a novel based off of current best sellers in the hopes of vast commercial success, following the advice of every single writing guide in existence. But is that what I want to write, or what would fulfil me?
Write your own story.
Don’t think about anyone else. Write whatever you feel comfortable with, whatever makes you happy. It’s what I did with Above Ground. I knew the novel was never going to be picked up by a traditional publisher, but I wrote it anyway — and as a result I’ve met some amazing readers and fellow writers.
If you don’t believe in the story you’re writing, no one else will, either. But when you write your own story, your conviction shines through your work… and that is what lures readers in more than anything else.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying to ignore what everyone says. Get honest feedback from readers and writing buddies, and by all means ensure to have an editor look over your work prior to publication. I know that Above Ground wouldn’t be half the story it is today without the help and encouragement of so many people.
But the point is that editors and writing buddies are helping you make your story the best it can possibly be, instead of turning it into some generic mass-market template.
So what if Above Ground is a cross-genre dystopian novel with werewolves, reptilian humanoids, magic and technology? So what if even I sometimes stumble over Lilith’s name? So what if I’ve created a race of beings based off of newts? It was my story to tell, and I am proud to have written it.
And between you and me, there is nothing more rewarding than writing a story you love and finding that other people love it, too.
N.M. Martinez’s philosophy, on her about page, is that everyone has their own path to take.
I couldn’t agree more.
Thank you for such an interesting and flattering guest post. I truly believe in the message. Just like Hungry for You, Above Ground also sounds like a very unique story that you won’t find on just any book shelf. I can’t wait to read it!
As with any good book release, there is a giveaway! Eleven mystery prizes, each based off one of the letters in Above Ground. Please go here to sign up.
And go here to see the tour schedule. A new post every day this month!
A.M. Harte writes twisted speculative fiction, such as the post-apocalyptic Above Ground and the zombie love anthology Hungry For You. She is excellent at missing deadlines, has long forgotten what ‘free time’ means, and is utterly addicted to chocolate. She lives in London, a city not half as foggy as some seem to think.
We don’t do trips very often, but we’re doing one this weekend! We’re going to Fanime, an anime convention, for five whole days. This is as close to an actual vacation as we get.
Before I go, a couple of things.
1. Con special!
I hope to one day have a table at this con where I’ll sell my own books. As I only have one book, I didn’t really try very hard to get a table. (Plus, the tables were filled within days.)
Instead, I’ve put The Two Brothers up for free on Smashwords and made Ruin name your own price. Please pass on the word if you’ve enjoyed either of them or take a chance to download them if you haven’t.
The Two Brothers might be going free on other sites for a while until I get this next book out. That sort of makes me feel as if I’ve cheated previous buyers out of $.99, and for that I’m sorry. I’m still experimenting. I hope that those who do spend money realize how much it means to me. The money does help. I’m not exactly breaking the bank with how many I do sell, but so far I have made enough to cover the cost of Ruin’s cover. For that, thank you readers.
2. Have you seen the Gaiman talk?
I know, you probably have. I got this from Amy Rose Davis. Gaiman is an amazing source of inspiration. The best piece of advice I have seen him give over and over is to just write. If you’re not going to write, then don’t write. No whining. He’s like an author version of Yoda.
I admit I haven’t been writing lately. I have ideas, but haven’t wanted to write, so I read, discovered new shows, and played old RPG video games. Ultimately, I realize that it comes down to my own self esteem issues. Fake it until you make it, is my motto, because it works for me. But sometimes I can’t. Sometimes, I do need to put my head in the sand and just let myself be. I think my imaginary characters realize this, so they’ll whisper ideas in my head but generally stand in the background until I’m woman enough to sit my ass down and just do what I’m supposed to.
That said, there is an excitement about writing things. I write stories because I don’t know where they’re going to go. I can write an outline and still come away surprised to see what I write. That excitement is usually more than enough to energize me into working again. I’m hoping that the trip will help with that too.
3. Things I’m enjoying
The Guild is on Netflix right now which is how we watched it. It’s a web series, so each episode is actually ten or twenty minutes long, but they put each season into one long episode. If you’re a gamer/online person (Sim friends, I’m looking at you all), I’d suggest checking it out.
Surviving the End has a story by my friend Ashlee Scheuerman. I haven’t gotten to it yet, but so far the stories have been interesting. Each story is tied together through intermissions. I’m curious to see how all these short stories are actually connected and what happened to the world– if we even find out! It’s clear no one knows, and that’s what makes it fun to read.
Yesterday we found the coolest thing in the trunk of my boyfriend’s car- an IBM Selectric II typewriter!
Okay, so we didn’t just magically find it there; it’s been there for months, possibly enough for a full year. He works at a storage place, and someone had abandoned their things. While he was cleaning out the space, he came across this typewriter that was just too awesome to pass up. It even still had the dust jacket on it. He couldn’t just toss it. So instead he brought it home.
It was in such good shape, he figured maybe he could sell it. As a last resort, we thought we’d take it to the local thrift shop at the dump so that it could find a home with someone who’d probably appreciate it.
Then we completely forgot about it.
These past two weeks I’ve been sort of on autopilot. I kept trying to write up a blog post (not like I don’t have a million of them stashed away), and they were so all over the place that none of them felt right. Nothing I was doing felt right. And when I get in that mode it’s best to just back away and let the brain percolate. So I gave myself a week off. Last week was rent week, and I knew I’d be on edge. Something about coming in contact with at least 50% of the 100 or so tenants, usually with complaints that have been building for a month. I chose to let writing go.
Let me tell you, that was the wrong thing to do. A better way would be to just work on something else– something different and fun that is just for me and no one else– because it is tough to go back.
Monday I was determined to get back into it, and I couldn’t. I glanced at my notebooks and didn’t even pull out the thumb drive. Instead, I started to play a puzzle game on the 3DS. This avoidance was becoming a nightmare. By nature, I’m a procrastinator, like many others. I’d much rather tell myself that I’ll get to it tomorrow than actually get to it today. I may even mean it which is why I’m so persuasive when I tell myself these things. (“I’m honest, why would I lie to myself? Of course I’ll get to it tomorrow.”)
So yesterday, I woke up at some insane hour. I wasn’t quite present, but I’m sure it was 4:30 in the morning. What was on my mind? Writing. I couldn’t go back to sleep, and I couldn’t stay in bed, so I got up at a quarter to five and brought out my computer looking for some motivation and some inspiration. I went to Google (where else to find inspiration?) and I entered, “Asimov” and “typewriters.”
A highly unreliable source once said that Asimov had six typewriters with different projects on them at all times. I wanted to see if there was a basis for that. Instead, I got a lot of links talking about Asimov as a writer. The third link was for the IMB Selectric wikipedia article. I thought that was awesome. The man wrote so much that he’s linked to the tool of his trade.
Asimov is a huge source of inspiration for me. It’s not that I want to write like him or even that I think I can. What I admire is that he had a way of doing things and an intent behind the things he did. That’s what’s endeared him to fans like me. I wonder if he were alive today, what he’d think about how online and connected writers are, and I can imagine he’d probably mention something about how a lot of the writers like to talk about writing but never actually write. (Only what he’d have to say would be clever and probably make you laugh.)
So from here on out, as a writer, I’m going to just think, “What Would Asimov Do?” Because the answer to that is simple– he’d write. That would always be the answer. If I tired or get stuck on one thing, it’s going to be onto the next thing. I’m going to just write for me first, and I’m going to trust myself.
If you’d like to see a picture of Asimov with his Selectric typewriter (just like mine!) take a peek at this blog post: A humble tribute to Isaac Asimov. And while you’re there, read the post and see if you don’t get inspired too.
Also, anyone have any home decorating tips for how to display a huge hunk of typewriter like this? (Kidding! Mostly. I think I know where I’m going to put it, if it will fit and that shelving unit will actually hold it up.)
The 10,000 Word Day from Zoe Winters. I’m sure this will be all over the place in the next few days among writers. We’re probably all going to look at that number and judge ourselves and our processes by that number like it’s a yard stick. Some people might be offended despite the author’s attempts to clarify that she is only talking about herself and only talking to the readers to give them a glimpse behind the scenes.
So let me get it out of the way here, the number is amazing, but that isn’t the important part. The important part is that she’s been holding herself back and finally has decided to step out of her way and enjoy the writing rather than just enjoying the outcome. I think that’s the inspirational.
Way back in the day, I used to just write. I had a 486 computer (well, I still have it because it’s one of the things I can’t let go), so there was no internet connection. My only connection to the outside world was the landline phone and the TV, which I kept perpetually on Law and Order or Forensic Files. (What, you’re not shocked that I can be a little macabre.) That was heaven! I used to write to entertain myself, with no consideration of publishing. The whole point was just the act of writing and getting into that zone where nothing else mattered.
Okay, so I’ll admit my stuff was crap. But I was young, and you have to start somewhere. No one starts out perfect. The point was that I just wrote and that’s how I discovered that I really and truly loved it. There was no need for external validation. I had a story to get out, and I did. How many words did I write on those nights I sat down and decided to just do it? I haven’t got a clue because I never counted. It didn’t matter then. All that mattered was that I take time for myself to just write. I’d sit in the chair so long, I’d forget to eat. But in the end, when I finally did get up to take care of myself, I’d actually feel refreshed, like I was doing exactly what I supposed to be doing to live a healthy and balanced life.
Things have changed though, and not just technology-wise. I mean, I could blame the internet for distracting me or depressing me, but since it is just a tool and has no conscious, that’d be a little silly. Being so connected is the most marvelous thing ever and the most terrifying thing ever. I’ve made so many friends, but it’s also easy to get derailed along the way. The important thing to remember is that love of writing and how it feels to just do it with no concern for anything else.
I’m testing things out all over the place. I’ve been on DeviantArt since forever, somewhat participating, but mostly not because writing and literature aren’t totally supported there. They are, kinda, but the community is much smaller than the visual arts community, so I always figured why not just go where other writers are and do a full on blog? (Besides, who on DA wants to hear my thoughts and whines on writing?)
So somewhat recently (okay, maybe like a few months ago), I started a DA just for my writing. The thing was that the cover artist wanted to post up the art she did, and I didn’t want to hold her up until the novel was released. I did push up the release date of the book, but ultimately, I decided I would start a DA account and put my links up so that once she posted the art, I could easily go, “Here I am!” and show off a few passages too as samples.
So far, I do get a steady stream of traffic from DA, though I only have two followers (who are both really awesome people). It’s not a lot of traffic, but it is something, and I’ve gotten a few likes on the Facebook page from people who came over from DA. (Literally a few, meaning like three, but hey, the book isn’t even out yet.)
The other thing I’m trying is Tumblr. I admit it it, I’ve been one of those people who don’t get it and then feel old and unadaptable because I couldn’t wrap my head around it. But then a good friend showed me this site called Pinterest and it clicked. I can use Tumblr as a way to pin things that inspire and interest me. These are things I come across daily, that I usually squirrel away in Evernote and never think on again. If I’m going to be clipping these things, I might as well put them up as a mash up of the things that inspire me and inspire the story. As I see it, it’s another way to get to know the story, or at least the crazy things that inspire this writer to write the story.
There is one problem with this, but the pros outweigh the cons. Social media right now is coming across to me as a lot of people shouting out all at once and hoping that someone hears and engages them in a conversation. I’m guilty of it, and I like it sometimes. Sometimes you do need that release. But it just seems that it gets abused a lot too. I utilize lists so that I can organize everyone based on what level of endurance I find myself facing that day. If I can’t take being shouted at on a particular day, I will skip that column.
I don’t dislike twitter. I actually really love it. The first column I check is always my friends from my quiet account. I love reading what they have to say. It’s just the larger account especially for writing that can give me a headache.
Anyway, I thought I’d share some thoughts on my various experiments. I have the Tumblr account set to update everyday this week. (And twice on Tuesday for some reason. Tuesday which makes me think of burgers… Mmmm burgers.)
I believe the key to everything is to do what interests you, not what you think you should do just for marketing. None of these experiments are purely marketing experiments. These are things that I am honestly interested in.