Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Quiet Apocalypse

Have you ever been to your local twenty-four hour super center late at night? I’m talking like 2 a.m. when most of the world is asleep. Somehow when this happens to me I find myself in the sporting goods section looking at tennis balls. I don’t play tennis.

Inevitably you wind up in a corner of the store and you are all alone. Not just alone in the aisle, alone in the whole store. You can’t hear anything and that white noise of a busy store we are all so used to is magically gone. I start to worry that maybe the store closed and they didn’t know I was in there. I missed the sign saying it was inventory night and they would be closed from two until six. 

As I walk through the store I peer down each aisle. I’m not sure if I want to see someone or if I fear seeing someone. I seriously consider putting my things down and just walking out of the store. Then the unknown causes my mind to race. What if the building was evacuated and in my tennis ball trance I missed the announcement? What if there are armed robbers rounding up the other shoppers and employees so they can steal anything of value? The possibilities of the unknown far more frightening than anything I can see with my eyes or hear with my ears.

This is the feeling that inspired me to write The Seamus Chronicles. I enjoy stories about asteroid impacts and nuclear Armageddon but what if it was a quiet apocalypse? No explosions, no epic battles and no widespread destruction. As the survivors travel around seeking resources and other survivors are they hopeful or fearful that they will find someone? As a stay at home dad I also wanted to write an exciting and suspenseful story that would still receive 5 stars on the +Alyssa Auch cleanliness scale.

A quiet apocalypse wouldn’t be boring. Even if the only survivors were scientists trying to rebuild the planet in a positive fashion they would have to deal with what the bad guys left behind. Even on their deathbed a bad guy could leave real problems that unsuspecting survivors need to deal with. Running, jumping and struggling to survive can happen without guns and violence appearing in every chapter. 

What do you think? Could a quiet apocalypse create a pit in your stomach?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Write for your readers

This past weekend I went to my first writers conference. The New England chapter of the Romance Writers of America held their conference at the Boston Marriott in Burlington MA. While I am not a romance writer I had heard that they were an open and welcoming group, which I found to be completely true. The sessions I attended were excellent and I had a full day without feeling like I had to sit through a "romance" specific session. Thank you to everyone for a great conference.

One of my big take aways was from author Marie Force. If you're not familiar with her work you can find her on the New York Times best seller list and a few recent articles on indie publishing. I attended two sessions that Marie presented, a late Friday session on the state of the wild west of self publishing and a session on the keys to creating an engaging series. In both sessions she talked about doing things for her readers. They weren't after thought comments or asides. She writes her stories and her series the way she does because that's what her readers want.

It may be true of all writers conferences but every session, every presenter had a comment and joke about the rules of writing and publishing. Words of caution and tales of woe were met with knowing nods as the writers spoke about their experiences with the traditional world of publishing. You can't choose your covers, you don't get to pick your title and you must rewrite to fit the style your editor wants to publish. Submissions, rejections and bad contract offers were as common as plotting, character development and point of view discussion.

I got some great tips about writing a compelling first sentence and crafting a meaningful title. One session taught me about the use of setting as a character. But the day and a half I spent there taught me that the traditional approach to publishing is about rules, restrictions and following along.

The new approach is about telling stories and delivering them for your readers. I like the new approach. I've already started telling my stories, and I look forward to having readers to write for.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A bad, good day

Have you ever had one of those days that didn't go the way you expected? You know the type of day where nothing from your to-do list gets checked off? The day you get an unexpected bill in the mail. Skipping your workout wasn't even a question. Instead of cooking a healthy meal you ordered out. Yeah, one of those days.

I've had plenty of those days. What often amazes me though is that the night after a "bad" day, while I'm brushing my teeth, I look in the mirror and I smile. I'm not happy about having a bad day, but I'm okay with it. Tomorrow will be better.

Yesterday I had the opposite happen to me. I had a "great" day. It was almost the day I visualize when I think about my perfect day (except for a few missing digits in my bank statement). I exercised, ate healthy, followed my calendar, checked off to-do list items etc. I even cooked a healthy dinner and got the family to my daughters school play early enough to casually mingle with other parents.

I worked hard. I did what I wanted to do, I did what I was supposed to do and I did what I had to do. And I felt like crap. There was no smile when I brushed my teeth. Instead I was worried that the results from my carefully planned actions would not be what I hoped for. I was concerned that my best effort wasn't good enough. Somewhere inside I was hoping that maybe I was coming down with something.

When I woke up this morning I didn't want to follow my calendar. I had no interest in having a "good" day, why would I. But as I sat and drank my first cup of coffee I realized something. Bad "good" days are important. They help form habits and set the stage for success. Even if I didn't recognize it at the time, doing the right things for the day and living the life I want to live will help make my good, "good" days better. So I opened my calendar and figured out what I had to do.

Today I'm having another "good" day. I think that when it is over I will look back on it as a good, "good" day.

How is your day?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Why are you blogging?

Last week I sat down to write a blog post and I just couldn't do it. I can't even remember what the topic of the post was about, that's how disinterested I was. So I skipped the blog update. Then I skipped the next one. It was frustrating to not blog. I've attended several webinars and read countless other blogs that tell me blogging is mandatory for authors. If I wasn't blogging there was no way I could sell books when they finally get published, right?

So I reflect on my blog, go back and look over the few posts I've done. They have no relation to the types of stories that I am writing. If you followed my blog there is no way you would expect the book I am about to publish. Why am I blogging again?

I am working on a series of young adult books, The Seamus Chronicles. The books fall in the Sci-fi/Fantasy genre and my blog should reflect that. I have found that I enjoy and am somewhat good at the business aspects of self publishing. I will include some posts on that topic as well. Maybe my experience will help other aspiring writers. Every post that I do will in some way give insight to my writing and the things that interest me. You'll get to know me, and you won't be at all surprised by the books that I publish.

Why are you blogging? The concept of building an author platform and creating a community around your work is strong. It will help you to sell books, if you build the right community and have a relevant platform. Make sure you remember this when you are selecting and writing your blog posts. Ask yourself, is this a platform that I can sell my books from?