Saturday, June 29, 2013

You have a writer web site, don't you?

Not all writers do, it turns out. But you should. Okay, perhaps if your writing is a private, self-indulgence, then a web site is extraneous. For all other writers, consider it a necessity.

You can find lots of excellent references for how to establish an effective web site for your writing persona. Carrie Cuinn recently posted some great advice on her blog, with various examples for reference and illustration. Check it out.

In my case, my web site is due for another overhaul. I've been remiss accomplishing that because I built it using an old Microsoft tool (Publisher). My intent is not only to modernize my web site but also modernize my web development tool and methods while I'm at it. So it's on the To-Do list. Unfortunately it's keeping company with quite a number of other entries on that list.

Don't let my predicament deter you, though. There are tools that make simple web site development, well... simple. Many are free. Or you can hire out the work. I chose to take on the responsibility myself because I expected to evolve it. Often. With gusto. Also, HTML/XML coding comes in quite handy for creating e-books. But that's a completely different topic.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Haters, abusers & malcontents are opportunists <-- never forget!

They have to be to have any hope of spreading repulsive thoughts, words or actions outside of their own immediate circle. To them, shock, shame and pain are maximized based on the sheer numbers stricken. Bigger = so much more better and badder. Plus any outrage generated along the way becomes a badge of pride.

Being consummate opportunists, such types are always on the lookout for methods to amplify their aims. In this day of instant news, feeds, distribution lists and express tools to reach out and touch/poke/slap more souls than ever before possible, the opportunities become near endless and difficult to police.

Yet, we can't let down our guard. Never. Nor fail to respond accordingly when a bad egg exploits an opportunity and scores.

In regards to the latest racism-tinged controversy involving the use of an official SFWA communication path (see Jim C. Hines' recap here), I'm trusting the SFWA Board to do the right thing. This is already in progress, though concern is starting to circulate over the pace of the response. I, for one, would prefer a correct and complete response over one that's rash and incomplete. Reasonable limits must prevail though. I'm sure the Board is keenly aware of that as well.

In the meantime, keep eyes and ears open. And remember haters and their ilk have a much harder time getting their word spread when it has to buck a tide of voices constantly turning it back.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Jumpstarting a story via a writing prompt

If you've never tried writing a story based on a prompt, it can be quite liberating. This weekend I took a shot at it and really enjoyed that particular variant of the creative process.

For my attempt, I chose a picture out of a set, pondered the reason for the scene it represented, and let the words flow. In a total of 3 separate sessions behind the keyboard, spanning just a few hours, I put together a 500 word flash piece that I felt the image represented. It sang. Very cool.

Probably this had to be one of the easiest times I've ever experienced crafting a 'full' story. I'm qualifying the word 'full' here because the goal was to keep it flash length yet still tell a complete tale. We're not talking a novella or novelette, though I suppose the technique would be as applicable for those lengths of stories as well.

Do you want to know the real interesting part of all this? I'll tell you.

I had hundreds of images to choose from for a prompt. I expected to browse through them and have one or two stick out because, when I first scanned them, bits of their stories immediately came to mind.

That's not what happened though.

I ended up browsing all the photos multiple times. My attention kept returning to one or two, for reasons I really couldn't determine. They just seemed interesting at the time. Not outright yes-es. More like maybes--maybe sos.

I then narrowed down the field and selected the one that I most wanted to write about. But I didn't chose strictly because of the image. I chose because of the kind of story I felt must be behind the image. In other words, instead of "wow, nice picture," it was more "wow, I wonder what's really going on here?" Once I got to that point, well... it pretty much told itself. The story opened up in my head, sorted out and rooted squarely back to the image it belonged with. Almost seemed like cheating, it emerged so readily.

Unfortunately, I can't share it here because I did submit it for consideration. Perhaps I'll post it as an example if the editors reject it. We'll see.

In the meantime, if you ever get the opportunity to do so, try writing from a prompt sometime. See if you find it refreshing like I did.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I'm a proud, card-carrying, dude writer - NOT!

Labels suck. All too often they get used to marginalize or trivialize someone, even when there was no deliberate intention to do so. It's sad that, in our society today, it is still a tendency to think negatively when a label gets applied to a person.

For the record, the following are writers I've never met:
Brown, black, yellow or white writers
Gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender writers
Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist or atheist writers
Latino, American Indian, Asian or Eskimo writers
Disabled or handicapped writers
Old or young writers
Short or tall writers
Shy or daring writers
Loud or quiet writers
Skinny or chubby writers
Bald or hairy writers
Lady or dude writers

Instead, I've had the honor, privilege and benefit of meeting many, many writers. They come from all walks of life and backgrounds. Each crafts words that draws directly upon their experiences and worldviews to say something. I may not always like what they say or necessarily agree with it, but that's my opinion only. It takes nothing away from or diminishes the writing they do. Nor would I ever want that to happen.

I'm a writer, one of countless others who have the power to deliver something unique through their words. That should be celebrated. It's what's really important.

* * *

ETA: For more reactions to recent editions of the SFWA Bulletin, I highly recommend this digest page being kept by Jim C. Hines.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

5 paths to publishing

This is a good overview of 5 typical paths to publication in use today. Many of the writers I've met are focused on #5, DIY Direct. This doesn't surprise me much because:
  1. I'm meeting most writers virtually, that is, via the web. Which is the primary channel for DIY Direct.
  2. DIY Direct gives the writer more control. I think many people much prefer to sit in the driver's seat, especially in regards to their business, life or passion.
Frankly though, there really isn't one "best" way to get published anymore. Just different ways, each of which has pros and cons to be considered.

No real surprise, it comes down to: whichever path works for you. And that choice of path may not stay the same over your writing career.

The article provides a handy PDF file with summary info and reference links.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The best site for any writer

I will now unlock the secret and reveal the absolute best site for any writer to be...

Find the icon for your word processor program.

Double-click on it.

You're there.

(I know. It's technically not 'a site.' You get the idea.)