Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Many Genres, One Craft (Part 6)

One Writer, Many Genres by Ryan M. William: I’m considering a pen name. Damn I never thought that I would say that.

When I saw this article in the book, I’ll admit…I cringed. Ever since I was younger, I couldn’t understand why anyone would ever consider making up a fake name to hide behind. To me, it sounded like they were ashamed of their writing, and then when I started freelancing erotica. It became routine procedure when I received my contracts to click the box that said ‘Yes, you can use my real name.’ I mean, yeah I wrote a steamy sex scene and was proud of it so why should I put someone else’s name on it?

And then word started to spread. And it wasn’t that I was writing sexy romance scenes. It was that I was writing porn. Really?

So I read this article in the hopes that it might help me come to some decision about the concept of a pen name, which I still hate the idea of but are warming up to. For instance, if I end up writing erotica, I highly doubt my horror fans are going to be a fan of that if people are split open with an axe or possessed by the devil. But hey, you never now and I certainly wouldn’t deny them the knowledge that I’m writing a different genre on the side. Williams writes, “I suggest that you use open pen names. Otherwise you cut off your third audience, those readers that want to follow your books wherever you go.”

I think that’s a brilliant idea.  Plus, this way when I apply to jobs at Christian universities, I won’t have to explain why I’m published in Clean Sheets Magazine (which I’ve had to do). So I’m thinking about it… I even have a name in the works, but if I do, I’ll be open about it…if people are curious. But if they don’t ask, then they don’t need to know.

Oh. And FYI… I’m not writing porn.

Writing More by Susan Mallery: Discipline is the solution to everything.

I’ll be very honest with everyone. I love to write. It’s my soul passion in life. However, I’m having a hard time adjusting to graduate school while holding down a full time job.  When I was doing my undergrad, I worked 6 hours a week in an art gallery and freelanced poetry on the side for some extra cash, but other than that…my head was in a book and I was writing 24/7…thus, the workload was a problem. Deadlines weren’t an issue. And I never turned in anything late.

Now, with a holding a full time job, and being a full time graduate student, my head is ready to explode, ha.  I’ve been trying really hard to discipline myself into writing at the same time every day, but so far with my schedule it’s not really working. And I’m not a fan of not having structure in my life. But I’m building habits slowly but surely.  I think after I feel adjusted to my new job, I’m going to try to write a poem a day, and shoot for x amount of pages/words a day. Right now, I’m just doing what I can to make the deadline whether it be writing every day, or having to pull major marathon sessions a few days before.

But then I come across Mallery’s article and it makes me feel like everything is going to be okay. I think this article had such a big impact on me because it applies to every writer out there… not just me. So clearly that means that other people are going through the same problems as I am. Here are some pieces of advice that I found particularly useful:

-“The Secret to writing is very simple and done in two parts. Part one, write consistently. Part two, write more.”
-“Writer’s block only exists because you say it does. The reality is you can train your brain to be creative on demand. It just takes a little discipline.”
-“The point is to build habit.  You have to train your brain to learn to be creative when you say so, and you butt to stay in the chair for the time required to get the pages done. Of the two, the butt is much harder to train.”
-“The trick to writing more is to first write consistently, then slowly, very slowly, adding a half-page at a time.  Using this process you can easily double your output over a few months.”
-“Pantsers will see significant increase in pages very quickly.” – YES!

So with these little tidbits of information and advice going through my head, I’m going to really try to schedule in blocks of writing time each day to avoid rapid writing sessions and writer’s block (that doesn’t exist). Thank you Mallery for your encouragement!!

eFabulous: Publishing in a Paperless World by Penny Dawn: Shelf life for an eBook is infinite.

The idea of an eBook still baffles me for some reason because I’m having a hard time seeing how writers make money off of it. But that’s a question for another time when I can sit down and study the business and marketing of writing. Now, I want to talk about shelf life. If your book is available online, it’s going to be there forever and that is a beautiful thought to me.  I mean I love having stacks of books scattered around my room, and believe me I do, but sometimes having them on my iPad and phone is nice too because they are easily accessible.

Dawn writes, “…ePublishers produce more books per year than traditional publishers, due to having less production cost.  If you’re fighting for one of forty-eight release dates, instead of one of six, your odds of acceptance are greatly improved. ePublishers take more chances on unknown writers, as well as works that may not adhere to genre conventions.”  Frankly, this is exciting to someone that is just breaking out into the industry because it provides a completely different backup plan if traditional publishing doesn’t work out right away.  I never thought about ‘going green’ with writing, but it looks like it might be something to look in to.

Networking at Conventions by Lucy A. Snyder: I need to start preparing for the World Horror Convention this March!!

First off, I had no idea that convention expenses could be considered tax deductible for working writers. That’s kind of cool! But really folks, this article was hugely important and helpful to me because I have no idea what to expect when I head out to Utah this March. 

Snyder talks about new writers focusing  on strong writer-related panels and workshops and to “steer clear of conventions that mainly focus on costuming or media.”  Great advice...I’m excited to see what I can get myself into at the conference!  But I am a little nervous about networking and meeting potential agents. I have a feeling I’m going to be practicing in a mirror a couple weeks ahead of time and going over (1) what my book is about (2) why I picked my genre (3)how I’m going to say “can I buy you a drink” without sounding creepy and desperate!

Any advice? How did you guys handle your first conference/convention? I’d love to hear stories!

And…I’ll update more about the conference as soon as  I found stuff out. Right now, I just have a ticket, and know that Jeff Strand is the emcee! Woo! More excuses to buy his books and spend my evenings reading!


  1. I put Susan Mallery's advice to practice as soon as she sent us the article--it works so unbelievably well that my count is up to 3000 words a day.

    That may not be a lot for some writers, but it sure is a lot better than I was doing before!!

    BTW, some of my least productive writing times were while I was attending grad school, then everything just opened up for me later.

    Thanks for this wonderful review series!!

  2. Steph,

    Writing and holding down a full time job IS tough. Couple that with family obligations (whether parents, or children or needy friends...and the time to write just slips away faster than a jackrabbit dodging a coyote. Hang in there. You're doing a wonderful job. Remember that many writers who do nothing BUT write often struggle to put down words on paper. Their lives are not as rich because their experiences are based only on what they interview and/or research. You are LIVING, and have the ability to absorb every conflict, human emotion and graphic nuance that comes your way. Look at it as an opportunity and not a barrier. And remind me that I said that, FREQUENTLY. :)