Death and the Self Published Author

During the time I would have normally been writing my blog post for today I was in the hospital emergency room connected to several machines that were monitoring my vitals as my wife sat by my side waiting to find out what was wrong with me. I'd gone to bed the night before with a slight twinge in my chest, by midnight that slight twinge had become a steel band that made it difficult to breath. Fifteen years earlier a close personal friend of mine had gone to bed the night before his death with a slight twinge in his chest, his wife told me about it afterwards. That memory coupled with the intense pain that was making it difficult to breath prompted me to go to the emergency room.

Turns out it was a pulled muscle in my chest and I will survive to write another day, but as I lay there facing my own mortality, in addition to worrying about my wife, I was worried about what was going to happen to my self publishing legacy. Being relatively new to all this, I've only been doing it since 2012, I don't have a massive back list of published titles, nor am I making much money at this time. But I'd like to see my family benefit from all of my hard work even if I'm not there to share it.

I recalled a post I once saw on J.A Konrath's blog, A Newbies Guide to Publishing, that I'd like to share with you today. So without further delay I give you J.A Konrath and Death and the Self Published Author.

Better Mousetraps with Rusell Blake

Today I'm re-blogging a post from author Russell Blake and how he creates his outlines. Take it away Russell.

I had a long discussion with a friend who’s an aspiring author about how to move the plot along and engage the reader at every turn. To that end, I thought I’d share some things about how I plan and outline my own work. If you find it helpful, good. If not, well, it was worth what you paid for it.
Let me say up front that there is no one or “right” way to write a novel. Some start writing with barely an idea, others do 50 page outlines. So I can’t advise the only way to write a compelling draft, I can only explain the system I use.

Here’s how I do it: First, I ensure that if it’s an action book, there are sufficient beats to keep the reader engaged. I do this visually, as I outline (I do single sentence summaries of each chapter, usually in three acts, approximately 15 chapters per act), by color coding my chapters with action beats or reversals. So if my typical book has, say, 45 chapters, and I don’t have a beat every two or three chapters, it’s probably going to be a snoozefest. I’d rather know that going in and contrive more story than discover I lack beats once written.

As discussed, my outline will be single sentence chapters, a la “Giant panda storms Tokyo,” “Protag introduced, narrowly escapes,” “Romantic interest introduced, helps her across river,” etc. The action beats will be highlighted red (or in romance, the conflict beats). I want to see a lot of red in one of my action adventure tomes.

Read the rest at

Friday's 5 with Patricia (Lynne) Josephine

Patricia Lynne never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was all about art. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head. That was the start of it and she hasn't regretted a moment. She writes new adult under the pen-name Patricia Josephine.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow, and an obsession with Doctor Who.

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.) Late 2011 when I was writing my first YA novel, Being Human. It struck me as a story other people would enjoy. I started researching writing and publishing, eventually put the story through a slew of beta readers and editing, and published it myself. It was like opening the floodgates and now I can't stop writing!

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A.) Getting myself to focus. Procrastinating is so easy. Sometimes I have to force myself to sit down and write. Once I do that, I find it hard to stop writing.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.) Terrified, excited, amazed. Honestly, I never thought of myself as a writer. I really thought I sucked at it and had a college essay graded D that proved it. But I worked hard on my first story and learned everything I could (still learning too!) and people have enjoyed the book.

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

A.) Is this a trick question? I think character would be more important. If they weren't compelling, I might stop reading a book. But then again, if the story is boring, that could make me put it down no matter how interesting the character is.

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

A.)  If I work at the day job, I get up, check email, Twitter, Facebook, read blogs and reply to comments on my own. Then it's off to cook tasty food and pies. Home and I usually take a nap. I have a fatigue problem I'm in the process of diagnosing. Dinner and then it's time to write, but not always. It depends on how tired I am. I wish I could write while tired, but I've tried and I can't string a sentence together.

Now, on my days off... I. Will. Write! Like a madwoman. If I get a good streak, I can crank out 5,000 words or more. I've learned to take advantage of days off and get as much work done as humanly possible.

Patricia can be found at the following links.



Amazon Page for Patricia Lynne:

Amazon Page for Patricia Josephine:



Just good enough, is not good enough anymore.

A recent post by Kristine Kathryn Rusch served as a real eye opener for me. You can read the full post here if you would like:

She talks about a lot of things that directly affect the success and or failure of a writer in these somewhat turbulent times. Turbulent at least for indie writers who have seen their sales drop over the past year. Some of the problems are the result of outside influences that are beyond the control of the average writer. Such as Kindle Unlimited, and the reduced royalties of those writers who chose to participate. That’s an Amazon decision and as much as we may want to complain about it, it is one of those things that are totally out of our control as writers.

What we can control though is what we, as Indie Writers, put out there.

When I first came into kindle and indie publishing around the beginning of 2012, the Amazon gold rush was going strong. There was this sense of get it out there now or lose out for good. I envisioned selling hundreds of thousands of copies of my work thereby allowing my wife and I to get away from the craziness of working for other people who honestly didn’t give a rat’s ass about you.

I got caught up in the rush to just get it out there.

The tides have turned, now just getting it out there is not good enough. All the tricks and gimmicks many had used in the past were just that. For me personally I lost sight of the most important thing to me as a writer, that connection with the reader.

In my rush to catch a wave of my own I allowed myself to accept just good enough when something even better was waiting in the wings had I slowed down to let the story mature in my mind.

But I’ve learned, as I always do, the hard way, that tricks and gimmicks are just that. Nothing will ever replace good writing. I also learned, for me at least, that writing is not a means to an end, but a lifestyle choice. It is not a hobby. Not something I merely dabble in when there is nothing else to do.

It is an integral part of who I am.

How my first novel nearly ended my career

Writing is a business. It’s a business that’s in trouble, or at least a business in dire transition, but it still follows the fundamental rules of capitalism. When you’re coming up in this job, when you’re still holding on to the warm fuzzies that you get from writers conferences and other supportive, aspirational environments, it’s easy to think that writing is somehow immune to the hard edged efficiency of the business world. But it’s not.

Here’s how I figured that out, and also how that discovery nearly ended my career as a writer before it really started.

Like most hopeful writers of my generation, I was a reader first. Actually, if you’re a hopeful writer and you’re not a reader, fuck off. Stop what you’re doing and spend ten years reading. I don’t care who you are, writers have to read.

Okay, anyway. I was a reader. And I formed a bond with other readers, and fell in love with the idea of writing. I started writing pretty young. I used to carry a pile of looseleaf paper in my coat pocket, and I would write these tremendously long stories about robots, that wad of paper getting bigger and bigger until I had to type a bunch of it into my dad’s Apple II, and then I would start over with another wad of looseleaf. So I spent a lot of my youth telling people I was a writer, and I was going to be a writer when I grew up.

That lasted through college, and then I got busy with being an adult. I got married to a woman I actually liked to spend time with, got a job that beat me into the ground each day, bought a house that needed maintenance on the weekends. And in my off time, as little of it as there was, I had hobbies that weren’t writing. Like drinking. And videogames. And I was only spending maybe one or two days a month actually writing, and nothing was coming of it. Obviously.

Then I turned thirty, and realized that if I was actually going to be a writer, I needed to get the fuck at it. I started making sacrifices with my time and health. I entered a phase where I was pretty much going to work, coming home, eating dinner and then shutting myself into my office to write. Everything else in my life suffered. But I was writing.

Read the rest of Tim's journey at

Friday's 5 with Angel M.B. Chadwick

Please welcome Angel M.B. Chadwick, author of Corridors of my Mind. "I write only what I've experienced myself, no lofty perches here only raw emotion, life experience, and soulful intelligence. To read my books is to know me, mind, body, soul, intellect and spirit my essence is on every page." Chadwick has been writing since she was thirteen years old spanning over twenty years and counting and has developed a unique, unpredictable and God given style that is like no other author out there.

 1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.) When I was 13 years old, and wrote my first short story for  a class assignment and got an A+ and bragging rights from my teacher. After that every time I had a writing assignment whether it was writing poetry, a term paper or a literary analysis in college, there was always a teacher or students bragging on my gift for writing.

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A.) The hardest part is the entire process from writing, editing, publishing, etc.

Corridors of my Minds can be found at the following online retailers.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.)  I felt relief and vindication because I didn't have to stay in the shadows anymore.

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

A.) All of it is important story, character, plot development, etc other wise what's the point. You need all these things to craft a well rounded and hopefully well written story.

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

A.) Busy, busy, always busy along with raising my rambunctious eight year old son who is autistic/nonverbal and making steady progress everyday and who is my hero.

Angel's extended bio:

Angel Chadwick is a tour de force writing about the most painful, extremely dark and very, very difficult aspects of her life in her memoir "Corridors of My Mind" written in the unique literary style of lyrical poetry. Her words are visceral and telling of how she speaks from the deepest recesses of her soul. It's a coming of age nonfiction story starting first with her life as a wife, a mother and taking the reader backwards in time from her adulthood to her teenage years, revealing her hardships, relationships and the wisdom she's learned from it all. One of her poems in this book "Life or Some Facsimile of It" is Chadwick speaking to life itself and apologizing to it for ever doing it wrong by attempting or even entertaining thoughts of suicide. She is a fresh, new, yet seasoned and unique multifaceted, multitalented author who has pulled herself out of obscurity many times especially with this book.

Angel can be found on Facebook
and Twitter

Friday's 5 with Christian O'Neil

This week's featured guest is writer/director/other??? Christian O'Neil.

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.) When I finally buckled down and wrote the first chapter of BACK ROADS KINGDOM, I was a wee lad of thirty-seven, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to take on the world. Prior to that, I'd written plays and screenplays, but never a novel. My wife's aunt, a mega-successful e-publishing romance novelist, asked me to co-author a romance/sci-fi hybrid with her. That project never really got off the ground, but it reminded me that writing was something that I loved doing and that it was time I finally made good on all the promises I'd made over the years and write my fantasy opus. I knew I had it in me, it was just a matter of forcing myself to turn off the TV and get it done.

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A.) When you aren't in the rhythm of it, it's about finding the self-discipline to do it. When the project takes hold of you, it's the exact opposite - EVERYTHING else in the world suddenly becomes a distraction, because writing is all you want to do. That's a wonderful, joyous place to be, just cruising along like that for months on end, seized by the story...but it can be hard to get from zero to sixty. (Translation: I'm a lazy procrastinator).

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.) My brain was confused by the idea that I could no longer revise the manuscript, because that's all I've done for the last two years. Then I felt grief, then anger, then bargaining, and finally acceptance. Now I'm just hoping people find me!

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

A.) My theater training has taught me that the two are inextricably linked. I would go so far as to say that character IS story. Another way of saying it is: story is what happens when characters have needs, and act on them. The only story anyone has ever been interested in hearing is, "The Story of the Character who Needed the Thing." I think a lot of people confuse story and plot, and a lot of writers stress over plot, but the plot will always write itself if the characters are active and drive the story forward. Plot is the organic way the world reacts to the character's struggle: the fallout, the complications, the resistance.

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

A.)  You want to know what a typical day looks like? Try surviving one, and then tell me how it went. First, you have to sleep lightly, in case a swarm of skeeters comes upon you in the night. A swarm that size will leave you a bloodless husk within thirty seconds. First thing to do upon waking is to ensure that the Belled Buzzard is nowhere about, because if so, you might want to call out sick: chances are a massacre is in the works. If you do get out, just be sure you're ready to duck and cover at the sound of motorcycle engines: rumor has it the Pale Riders are looking for slaves to bring to market. Such is the ugly truth of the world: up here in the Yonder, you're either predator or you're prey. But hey, at least you don't gotta pay Uncle Sam no dues, and it's been years since you had to befoul your eyes with the sight of an OfficeMax.

Christian O'Neill is a writer/director/other living in New York City with his wife Leah, a children’s librarian, and his 5-year old son Asher, who knows one karate move and uses it often, regardless of what mood he's in. He studied ancient history at Providence College in the hopes of becoming actual Indiana Jones, and then went on to earn master's degrees in Theater Education from Emerson College and Directing from Brooklyn College. He now knows more about theater than Indiana Jones did. BACK ROADS KINGDOM, his first novel, is the culmination of decades of telling people that he would someday write a novel

For more information about BACK ROADS KINGDOM, please visit the official website at:

Or just buy it on Amazon at:

And while you’re at it, why not subscribe to my classy blog at:

Fridays 5 with Children's Author Gregory E Bray

This week we take a little detour from the norm as children's author Gregory E Bray joins us for Fridays 5. A life long resident of Sacramento, CA, married with one son. He was a film/tv major in college, in the past he has worked on a few movies, the most notable being George of the Jungle. He is currently employed in the IT field, and spends his time off writing, and enjoying life with his family. 

1.) When did first get serious about writing?

A.) About 2 years ago when I published my first book, "The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey" It was so easy and so much fun, I wanted to keep on doing it for as long as I have ideas.

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A.) Finding time to write. I work a full time day job, and then we have a almost 3 year old to deal with when my wife and I get home from work. Once he goes to bed, I write. But then I have to battle sleep to get anything accomplished.


3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.) Excited. I couldn't wait for the first person to read it who wasn't family or a friend and let me know what they thought of it good or bad.

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

A.) I write children's books, so to me it's story. I usually have the full concept of the story before I even know what character's will be involved. And so far, there has been some sort of a lesson to be learned in my books.

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

A.) Play with my son before work. Have fun at work for 9 hours. Pick up my son and entertain him while I either cook dinner or discuss with my wife what we're picking up for dinner. Once he's in bed, start writing for as long as I can stay awake.

Gregory can be found online at:



Are the machines taking over?

The publishing industry is reeling today after news broke this morning about Kindle Author, Amazon's new service that  generates high-quality fiction using complex software algorithms.

It’s like Build-A-Bear for ebooks. The reader tells Kindle Author what they want in a story, and then Kindle Author automatically generates the book .

In this post, I’ll explain how Kindle Author works and I'll share never-before-seen screenshots of the service.  I’ll explain the science that made this breakthrough possible, and then I'll wrap by discussing what this means for Smashwords authors and the future of publishing.

How Kindle Author Works

Kindle Author is a new option for purchasing ebooks in the Kindle store.  It's receiving heavy promotion on the Amazon home page, which tells me Amazon is making the service a strategic priority for their business.

Amazon is also advertising Kindle Author directly on the book listings pages of all books in their store.  A customer visits the listing page for a book written by a real author, and Amazon encourages the reader to create and read a free Kindle Author book instead.

Read the rest at Smashwords Blog