Ok--so I don't stand a snowball's chance in... Well, you get the point. I'm talking about the exciting AmTrak writer's residency that officially opened its doors for submission yesterday afternoon. If you're on Twitter you've probably seen the flurry of discussions concerning this event. If you want to learn about how it all started, check out this article on the Wire website. I was glued to my Twitter feed all week waiting for the announcement. It finally came yesterday as I was walking into B&N to attend my writer's meeting. I sat down, fired up the laptop, and put in my submission. Now the waiting begins. If you're interested, check out the link above and put your name in the hat. Yes that means I'll be pushed farther down the list but it's more appropriate to share this information than to keep it private in the hopes that I'll be one of only a few to submit. Go for it!
Peacekeeper now stands at 31,309 words. I received some very positive feedback from my reading at the writer's group yesterday as well as a couple of interesting suggestions. I wish I had time to get into the suggestions because it highlights just how important it is for writers to hang out together and exchange ideas. Perhaps in another post???
Yesterday morning, in the middle of working on new material for Peacekeeper, our power went out. This is perhaps one of the scariest events that can happen in a writer's life (a total hard drive crash without having a backup is the worst). I was not working on a laptop either. If I had been, the laptop's battery would have kicked in. I was on my main system. Luckily, both of my desktop PCs are equipped with battery backups. I lost nothing. And, because I power the router and modem with the UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) I was able to save my work to DropBox in case I had to transfer to the laptop. The power was out twice; once for 15 seconds and a few minutes later it went out again for 6 minutes. Others in our area weren't so lucky. Forty-six thousand people lost their power for most of the day. The lesson learned: Backup your work and either write on a device that has a built-in battery or buy a UPS for your desktop. I use an APC XS 1000.
I was hoping this would not happen, but United airlines (which is backing out of Cleveland as one of their hubs) has changed my flight to Denver. I had originally booked a flight putting me there at the decent time of 2:34 PM. Now my arrival has been pushed back to 5:59 PM. It's a 2-hour drive to Laramie from Denver and I'm supposed to be driving a group from the airport. Luckily, nobody has been selected to attend Launch Pad yet. I've alerted Mike Brotherton of my late arrival and he can inform the new attendees of my flight times so they can plan their flights around mine if they desire.
That's enough for me--time to get some writing done.
Today's post is a little abbreviated due to our having an overnight guest and I don't want to be rude.
As of this morning, Peacekeeper now stands at 29,789 words putting the novel at just over 1/3 complete, assuming a final word count of 85,000. Last week, I told you about a suggestion from one of my readers that has improved the book enormously. Those improvements required me to add a completely different beginning. Thanks to Scrivener, doing so was a piece of cake.
If you've read Peacekeeper, you will recall that the main character—Tom—formed a unique relationship with an alien named Lashpa. Peacekeeper 2 continues this relationship and delves deeper into the problems of inter-species relations. I haven't gotten there yet but I will also be explaining the difficulties a cyborg faces in forming a close relationship with a non-enhanced individual. The results should make for a good character story. And for those who want the action, there will be some of that as well. Space battles, powerful weapons, and incredible ships.
Making the above changes would have been a nightmare in any other 'standard' word processor. Scrivener, however, made it a snap. After adding the new first chapter, I had to move a couple of scenes around to put things into the right timeline. Each scene is a separate file in Scrivener and moving them around is as simple as dragging the filenames. Throughout the entire rewrite process I didn't have to worry at all about renumbering chapters or putting in scene separators at the proper location. Scrivener does it all when I build the final product. If you're a writer and you haven't looked into this wonderful program—do it now.
Finally - Don't forget that Launch Pad is now taking applications. If you're involved in any way in the entertainment industry (writer, editor, publisher, producer, agent) please consider putting in an application to attend this incredible workshop. You will not only learn some science but you will get to know a group of individuals who share the same interest as yourself. I am so glad to have attended in the past and I'm looking forward to doing it again and again.
How important are your fans? Think hard before you answer this one because a fan is far more than just a source of income. They are the reason why you write. Without them, a writer is nothing, a voice without an audience. You should listen to them, interact with them, and always treat them with respect.
People have been saying for a long time that an author should have a wide social networking footprint. That means spending time on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and a host of other sites. Recently, I’ve read that a study has concluded there is no benefit in sales from having a strong social presence. The same study also concluded that winning an award also has little to no affect on sales. I was surprised. I thought about that for awhile and then noted that the key word here is ‘sales’.
Most people buy books based on verbal recommendations from their friends. Some read the reviews but many now realize that reviews may not always mean anything because everyone has different tastes. Writer awards are mostly for the writer community—few people other than writers have ever heard of most of them and most people simply don’t care. The average consumer wants to spend as little as possible to read a well-written book. If you write a good story and a reader enjoys it then that reader will come back for more—you’ve gained a fan.
Does all this mean that every author should quit blogging and vanish from the social network? After all, instead of writing this blog or updating my Twitter feed I could be spending that time writing. If sales is all you care about then perhaps that would be a proper strategy. I look at things in a different way.
Don’t get me wrong—sales are important; it’s what helps pay a writer’s bills. But a writer—a true writer—does not write strictly for the money. He writes because it is an insatiable itch that must be scratched. The urge to tell a story to someone else is too strong to ignore. A writer needs an audience otherwise there’s no point in writing. If you think about it carefully, this means that the reader—your fans—is all that matters. And the best way for a person to feel like they matter is to make yourself available to them for comment and to respond to those comments in a professional manner. Social networking is the modern way to accomplish this.
Example: I have a few fans who have given me feedback—good feedback. I listen to them and I try to learn from what they’ve told me. Recently, I asked one such person his opinion on an aspect of my current work in progress. The reply I received was an eye-opener and has caused me to go back and rewrite the beginning of my next novel. His feedback has changed the entire course of my main character. The novel’s basic plot remains unchanged but my main character now has a more interesting life, a more human experience, and hopefully the book will be much better because of it. I’m going to give that reader a chance for more feedback since he’ll be one of my beta-readers for Peacekeeper 2. Thank you Lee Dilkie! (You didn’t think I was going to leave your name a mystery did you?)
In case you’re wondering: I’m on Twitter (@author_farren) but I only follow fellow writers or a very few select other Twitter feeds—feel free to follow me if you desire. I have both a personal and a fan Facebook page. Because of my limited time (I do work for a living) I rarely look at what others are saying on Facebook. I also have a Google+ account and I look at that feed even less. I am on LinkedIn. I have a website and I write a weekly blog. There you have it—my complete social networking platform. If you want to get in touch with me the best way to do it is by emailing me. My email is available on all of my social network platforms which is the main reason why I have them—so people can find me. If you write me, I will write you back.
Peacekeeper update: I have managed to get some writing done this week. Peacekeeper 2 now stands at 27,788 words with a new beginning still in progress.