All authors have unwritten rules regarding writing their books. Alistair has graciously shared his with us today. He has quite a few books under his belt and a few he has co-written with Tamara Thorne (who is also quite amazing). If you click on any of the covers below it will take you directly to Amazon where you can see these and others written by him.
The Ten Commandments of My Writing Career
In the beginning, when becoming a writer was just a distant dream, I had lots of ideas about what life would be like once I got published. Some of those fantasies came true, and others, not so much. But of all the surprises, I was most astonished by how hard the work actually is.
Come to find out, writing novels is really, really difficult, and what comes after is even worse; finishing the book is often the easy part. But I’ve learned some things along the way – some rules and reminders I live by – that have eased the challenges and taken the sting out of the disappointments. I call these lessons The Ten Commandments of My Writing Career and I hope what I’ve learned might smooth the bumps for others.
1. Treat It Like a Job. If writing is your hobby, just something you do in your spare time, then by all means, leave the door open, keep your phone handy for texting, and browse the internet while you wait for inspiration to strike. But if you want it to be your job, that means showing up, using your time productively, and shutting down interruptions. You wouldn’t play on the internet at work or take a phone call from your buddy during a meeting with your boss, so you shouldn’t do it while you’re writing either. And don’t let others spend your time for you. When people find out you work from home, they often think this means you’re available to shoot the breeze, run errands, or watch their kid while they go shopping. If you’re serious about writing, you’ll create a sacred barrier around your work hours – a barrier that even your nearest and dearest wouldn’t dare penetrate.
2. Assassinate All Excuses. An amazing thing happens when you become a writer: so does everyone else. At the mention of your career, the floodgates crash open and you find yourself suffocating in a swamp of would-be writers, all of whom have this really, really great book idea, if only they could find the time. And though certainly the most popular, time isn’t the only excuse – it’s the day job, the kids, the distractions. It’s the lack of a special “writing room” in which to pen the great American novel … I’ve heard it all and it’s all drivel, without exception. The bare-boned fact is that writing is the only way to become a writer. No excuses. Which leads us to Writing Commandment #3 …
3. Got Writer’s Block? Get Over It. We all get stumped in our writing, we’re all intimidated by the blank page, and we all suffer from intermittent bouts of disenchantment, uncertainty, and lack of inspiration. But “writer’s block” isn’t the crippling psychological affliction they say it is. If you don’t know what to write, read a book. Watch a movie. Talk to a friend, after hours. If you’re mid-way through your book and get stumped, step back, go for a walk, brainstorm with another writer, or sleep on it. Often, “writer’s block” is the unconscious mind telling us we’re on the wrong track. So back up and try a different direction.
4. Lie Down with Lions. Whether you’re new to the business or an old hand, the company you keep will define your career in astounding, unexpected ways. Stick with writers who are successful at their jobs. Learn from them. As it is in all things, people are either your greatest resources or your fastest track to ruin, depending on whether you lie down with lions or with dogs.
5. Kick Your Ego to the Curb. We’ve all read that book by the author whose characters are thinly-veiled, glorified versions of themselves. Even if we know nothing about the author’s life, we sense their hands in the story and it makes for an irritating read. Don’t be that writer. If you’re writing fiction, it’s not about you. It’s about the characters, the plot, and the readers. No one cares how interesting or smart you are. Your job is to take people away from waiting tables, tending sick children, worrying about bills, or whatever they need a break from. It’s as noble a profession as any, so get on with the story.
6. Write, Don’t Teach. It’s a writer’s right to advocate the changes they’re passionate about and certainly, history shows us that the arts are the forerunners of the social climate. As a writer, you have a voice and a captive audience, but while it’s important to express your passions in your work, I believe that a fiction writer’s foremost duty should be to captivate the reader. Readers don’t generally turn to novels for religious sermons and political rants – nothing puts them off quicker than an author with an agenda – so if you’re going to teach, be crafty about it. Do it in whispers rather than screams.
7. Be Bold. State what you mean. Don’t be afraid to get up in the reader’s face. “The door was brusquely shut by her angry husband before he heatedly left the room,” doesn’t pack the same punch as “Her husband, red-faced with rage, slammed the door behind him.” If you write with enough conviction and confidence that the reader believes you, you can write whatever you want.
8. Read Like a Writer. Read a lot, paying attention to what works and what doesn’t.
9. Simplicity is Power. I often find myself stuck, trying to find the least clumsy most powerful way to describe an action, a character, or a situation. Invariably, I realize that simplicity is power – that the strongest method of expression is the shortest, the cleanest, the easiest to understand.
10. Don’t Read Your Reviews. If you want feedback on your work, get it before the book is released, and get it from an agent, a publisher, or a trusted friend, not from the reviews section on Amazon. Write a good, honest book, polish it to the highest possible shine, and set it free. Once it goes out in the world, it’s really not your business what people think of it. Some will like it, some will not, but the odds of any review – positive or negative – changing who you are as a writer are slim. Nothing good can come of worrying about what the neighbors might say. Just write, release, and repeat.
Also by this author: The Crimson Corset, Mother, The Ghosts of Ravencrest
The Angel Alejandro
A Man without a Past
After a near-fatal accident, Madison O'Riley is faced with an astonishing problem: What to do with the man who saved her life. Naive and heartstoppingly handsome, he calls himself Alejandro ... and he has no memory of his past. As they set out to recover his lost identity, Madison realizes he harbors deep - and otherworldly - secrets that will shatter her understanding of reality ... secrets that may put her in grave danger.
The Devil in the Details
And now, there’s another stranger in town. Gremory Jones has something for everyone, and for a small price, he’s willing to make a deal. By day, he walks the streets of Prominence in top hat and trench coat, tempting the citizens with nefarious wares from his shiny black briefcase. By night, he and his legion of insatiable acolytes corrupt the locals at Club Mephistopheles, a den of unholy delights housed in an abandoned church.
The Battle has Begun …
The townspeople are changing in outrageous and appalling ways and it's up to Madison - with the help of a psychic, a local priest, and the new chief of police - to help Alejandro unlock his forgotten powers before an unspeakable evil tears apart the fabric of existence ... and costs them their very souls ...
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