Writers Should Know Better

During a conversation with other writers yesterday, I became shocked, SHOCKED, at how many think that they are so good that they don’t need further study or guided practice. At how many choose beta readers for a pat on a back instead of real feedback. At writers that don’t revise. At writers that think that BOOK REVIEWERS don’t have useful critiques and are only good for marketing and promotion (I always take reviews to heart. Someone went through the trouble of pointing out strengths and weaknesses. I won’t disrespect them by ignoring it). At writers that don’t read. At the pure arrogance of thinking that you are at the height of your powers and don’t need to grow anymore. It’s the height of elitism.

Could you imagine a professional musician that doesn’t practice for hours a day? Can you imagine a doctor that doesn’t follow new breakthroughs in medicine. Can you imagine an athlete than doesn’t practice or go to the gym? Can you imagine any job where you don’t try to improve on it?

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Indie Authors’ Day Workshop

On Saturday I gave a lecture and workshop at Pine Plains Library, in upstate New York. This was my second straight year presenting for IAD. Instead of most presenters that I’ve seen, who give lectures on publishing and marketing, I focused on the actual craft. It doesn’t matter how great a writer you are, you can always be better (myself included), something so many writers forget. Being an author is a combination of narcissism and humility, and the second part is what helps you grow.

A general version of the lecture “The Hero’s Journey: It’s No Myth” is available on my website, but I was a teacher, and I’m best when I work out loud. I make jokes and obscure references. I bring props (usually toys). In this case, I brought tissue paper “plot points” and threw them back and forth with the crowd. I used a Snoopy Snow Cone Machine as a brainstorming prompt.

I miss teaching.

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Too Many Cooks Spoil the Books

I’m I’m a serious bind with the sequel to The Watchmage of Old New York, “Cold Iron.” I was talking to my critique group last week and said that I wasn’t getting any useful feedback, or any at all, from them. It’s true. I bring in a chapter, and everyone just says that it’s great, and I know that it’s flawed.

This is going to sound really arrogant…

The problem is that I’m a veteran writer and writer’s coach of almost 20 years (it’s not skill that makes you a good writer as much as practice and experience), and except for one other person that rarely shows up, everyone else is a dabbler. I’ve been part of critique groups and workshops for 25 years. They’ve been part of 1 or 2. They don’t have the experience to see my work’s flaws. Instead of a give and take, I spend all of my energy coaching them through their writing and even giving mini classes–something I usually get paid for. I need to find a group of more experienced writers, but there are none in my area.

In a blatant attempt to get me to stay, the creator of the group edited the whole novel. Sounds great, but I already have an editor. Now I have 3 different edits for the book (from the group, from this guy, and eventually from my actual editor) and I can’t start revising until I have all three and can integrate their ideas.

Worse, the guy from the group thinks I should expand it (it’s already over 80k) when I want to reduce it. It’s very confusing and annoying. Having more than one person critiquing or editing your book at once is bad news. You end up with too many versions of the same piece. I want one editor per draft, and I was getting that. Now I’m getting a headache.

I hoped to get the book out this year, but I’ll be lucky to get it out next (the first Watchmage book came out in November of 2015). It’s only on the 5th draft, and I’d like to do 5 more. I would rather but out a quality book than a fast one, but I’m under a lot of pressure to get that book out. With a series, you need to keep the books coming at a regular basis, or readers will forget what happened in the previous book. As they say, the best promotion is another book.

I’m basically losing any momentum I had, and I didn’t have much to begin with.

I don’t know who’s more arrogant: me for complaining that I wasn’t getting quality feedback, or the guy that decided to edit my whole thing, suddenly thinking that he can give what I asked for when he couldn’t during group.

cosmic-cat-tripping-balls-redux

Writers in the Mountains Conference

On Sunday, I was privileged to be part of the Writers in the Mountains’s “Meet the Authors” conference. Set in a distillery (talk about reinforcing a stereotype) in Arkville, NY, it was one of the most supportive, interesting, and especially fun, writing events that I’ve attended. Thank you so very much to the good people at Writers in the Mountains.

First, let me plug the distillery, because they deserve it. Union Grove Distillery opened only three months ago, and their vodka is fantastic. It’s in an old building that may have been a warehouse, I’m not sure. The setting…hell, the whole area around Arkville, deep in the Catskills, is beautiful. The mixed drinks were pretty damn good too.

writers in the mountains booze and coffee

(Coffee and booze: it’s what writers crave)

I even sold a few books! Considering my last clusterF at Barnes & Noble, it was a great confidence builder. Since I’m selling the Kindle copy of The Watchmage of Old New York for 99 cents (until 5/31/16) I sold a few of those too.

Craig at writers in the mountains

(I don’t always sell books, but when I do, it’s because I’ma sexy beast)

Did I mention that Watchmage is 99 cents right now? I did? I’m doing it again.

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I got to sit between two excellent (and very different) writers. The novelist and musician Robert Burke Warren, and the academic writer Linda Lowen. You can’t see them in the picture, but they’re there.

There were panels on the current state of publishing (both indie and traditionaul) and some beautiful poetry readings from luminaries like Danniel Schoonebeek and Sharon Israel. The keynote speaker was the always funny Rosie Schaap, author of the excellent memoir Drinking With Men, and the “Drink” columnist for The New York Times.

What else can I say. The conference was a very positive experience for me, and after being despondent about my work for the last month or so, I feel revitalized. Thank you to everyone, especially the president of Writers in the Mountains, Simona David.

If you’re an aspiring or established writer, always go to events. The internet is a fine way to network, but nothing beats face-to-face.

cosmic-cat tripping balls redux

 

Sale! Watchmage For 99 Cents!

Hey everyone. I decided to have a sale on The Watchmage of Old New York for this week only. Why? Because I CAN!!!! Also because sales and reviews are falling off.

Sooo, the sale is on Amazon only, and only for the ebook. If you like my blog, you’ll probably like Watchmage. It’s the same writer, you know 😉 You’ll also be helping a neat-o dude like me. I consider every purchase a hug (and each review is a belly rub…I love belly rubs)

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Yes, I know it’s shameless pandering…But I gotta eat.

In case you haven’t heard of The Watchmage of Old New York yet, let me hit you with the book blurb:

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Workshop Panic

I am flipping out over this workshop coming up on the 27th. The library called me and said that ONLY ONE PERSON signed up. This is despite the dozen of people that said they were coming. The library said that if more people don’t register by Thursday, they’ll have to cancel. That means I’m out a paycheck and the considerable money I used for materials.

This could really sink me. I’m on a hairline budget, and I was depending on that check.

I’m freakin’ dead.