Sunday, February 18, 2018

Fighting That Feeling

On the heels of my last post, I'm going to confess something that I think a lot of writers feel at times - I sometimes feel like a fraud.

No, I don't mean that I'm plagiarizing anything.  What I mean is that I often wonder if I'm any good at writing, or if I'm just a charlatan.  Do those who claim to love my work really love it, or are they simply being nice?  Sometimes a clever twist of a phrase makes me feel good one minute, and the next I wonder if I just got lucky.  After all, it seems like anyone could've written that.

And when I look back at some of the garbage I've written...bleh.

What I have to remember, and most writers need to occasionally remind themselves of, is that such feelings are natural.  As we grow up, we're used to getting validation - our teachers, our parents, our coaches, etc.  However, with our writing, those authority figures don't really exist.  We have to rely on much more nebulous stuff, and it can create insecurity.  This often goes against the confidence/arrogance we tend to project.

In some ways, this can be a good thing.  It can lead us to better develop our writing, as well as make sure we're pumping out good stuff.  On the other hand, it can also lead to paralysis if we're not careful, agonizing over every word and refusing to put something out there for fear that other people will see right through us.

This phenomenon isn't limited to writers.  Studies have shown this to be common to people in every field of work.  Even the most successful feel that people will see them for the frauds they are.  I wish I knew, beyond insecurity, what causes this.  Maybe it's success we feel we don't deserve.  For whatever it is, it can be maddening.

I guess the takeaway is to remember that you're not a fraud.  Frauds get exposed.  Frauds rely on other people to do the work for them.  If you're putting your heart into what you write, then it's real, regardless of how you feel.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Great Reviews!

I've been getting some great reviews for both Akeldama and Salvation Day!

Regarding Akeldama, on Amazon, VeganTourGuide wrote, "5.0 out of 5 starsI am glad this book was recommended to me and I will be recommending it to others in return. Until now, this wasn't my genre of reading, however I love the action and story and so I'm IN and looking forward to more!"

CC Case wrote, "Imagine if Tom Clancy were running your Vampire: The Masquerade Campaign."

Gregory C. Scrivens wrote, "5.0 out of 5 starsFantastic. Grabbed you at the beginning and kept you holding on. Great seque to historical factish. Read it in a weekend. Great job. Looking for the sequel."

On Goodreads, Vanessa Eccles said," 4.0 out of 5 starsVampires and the church? Definitely an interesting and unexpected read!" 4.0 out of 5 starsVampires and the church? Definitely an interesting and unexpected read!

And Sir Reader of Iowa said, " 4.0 out of 5 starsI got this from voraciousreadersonly.com. Fantastic read! I got hooked since first page of the book."4.0 out of 5 starsI got this from voraciousreadersonly.com. Fantastic read! I got hooked since first page of the book.

Salvation Day is beginning to get similar reviews.  On Amazon, Redskier wrote, "5.0 out of 5 starsUnique topic and handling of various beliefs. But underlying is a story which keeps the pages turning and the mind engaged on your own religious beliefs."

Finally, Tonya Adrian-hill writes on Goodreads, "5.0 out of 5 starsExcellent read, my husband wants to read it as I kept reading sections out loud to him. I would love to hear more of this author’s ideas on God and religion."

Please keep writing reviews - I love getting feedback from readers!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Same Character?

I feel like I'm caught in a trap that many writers face - are my main characters really just the same person with minor variations?

One of the oldest pieces of writing advice is to "write what you know."  Though I think that such a sentiment is often garbage - not many of us have gone to Mars or are endowed with the powers of a witch - there are times the phrase has meaning, and it's usually when you put yourself into your characters.  Most of the folks I write are exaggerations of myself and how I might react in a situation.  I do that because I know my own mind and motives better than I do anyone else's, so it makes the character more easily believable(for me).

Of course, the danger here is that the characters in a series of novels can end up being pretty similar, and that's frustrating.  I want to branch out into more interesting people, but my lone attempt - the first draft of Wrongful Death, where I tried to make the main character a high school girl - went so poorly that I had to start over.  It turns out I have no idea how to realistically portray a high school girl, but I remembered what I was like in high school, so I changed the main character to a high school boy with little difficulty.  Was that a cop out?  Sure, but it was also the only way I could produce what I needed to produce in a compelling way.

But how do we fix this issue?  Once a writer gets into a groove, it's tough to shift.  I think the solution is to ask your beta readers to look at your characters and figure out if they're the same person.  Do my scientist and my vampire hunter do things the same way?  Can I distinguish between the historian in my science fiction and the vigilante in my war about a new American Civil War?

It takes outside eyes to look at a work and figure out if, compared to other works by the same author, the main characters are the same person.  This critique can be crushing for a writer, but the sooner you figure it out, the better.  After all, while I love Jack Torrence, I doubt he'd have been as compelling fighting Pennywise.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Enjoying Work

On the heels of my last post(I know I missed earlier this week...sorry), someone asked me if I read my own books.  The only thing I can say is...well...yeah.

No, I don't obsess over my novels, lovingly caressing them before bed each night, but I look at them off and on, and for several reasons.  First off, both Akeldama and Salvation Day have upcoming sequels, so I have to make sure I can remember various pieces for the sake of consistency.  Readers remember the original well enough to catch flaws in new work that the author may have forgotten about.

Beyond that, though, I just like them.  I've often spoken of writing what I want to read, so why wouldn't I enjoy going back to my own work the same way I've read Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince or Guns of the South over and over?  Authors, I hope, don't write something and then think, "Wow, that's crap.  But I hope people still buy my book."  Just as any reader does, I get attached to my characters and like to remember their travails and triumphs.

In addition to that, going back and re-reading my own books reminds me of where I was in life when I wrote them.  Ask any writer, and he or she will tell you the energy and life circumstances that went into writing a novel.  I can look at a chapter, a plot line, or a character and remember, Yup, that's what was going on at that time.  I can then see how the book evolved as my life evolved.  It's also fun to retrace the evolution of not just my life, but my writing style.  You can find what you did not as well, and how you might change it today.  It aids with growth as a writer.

This is not to say I read only my own books, or even that I do so very often, but I do it, and it'd be dishonest not to admit that.  I'd wager that any writer worth his or her salt will cop to that.