Have you got questions? I might have the answers!
Every once in a while I get questions thrown at me – about writing, about being a writer, et cetera. All writers are different, so my answers will vary wildly from others, but if you are interested, ask away and I will do my best to answer.
Here are a couple to get us started…
Q: Do you use Word or some other specific writing software?
Until recently I used Microsoft Word. I know some folks who use GoogleDocs but I really recommend Scrivener. It took some getting used to, but having all of my notes, timelines, character descriptions, images and more all in one place is absolutely perfect!
Better, Scrivener allows me to write my manuscript and then compiles it in the format I need (.epub, .mobi, a manuscript for editing or submitting to an editor, and much more)
Q: Do you write every day? How long do you write for?
A: I try to write each day. That said, sometimes weeks go by with little done. One look at my track record with self-publishing five books in eight years illustrates this quite well! That said, I’ve also spent a lot of time wavering about writing, doubting myself and more. At the time of this writing, I have re-dedicated myself to the process. I want to write as many interesting, suck-you-in good stories as I can. The more I write, the more stories I have to share with the reader. Right now I’m attempting to write at least 2,000 words per day. Sometimes that is done in a couple of hours, and other days it seems to consume most of the day. I imagine it will get quicker as time goes by.
Q: Do you have a clear idea of where the story is going before you begin to write it?
A: Yes and no. It all starts with a “snippet” – a scene or idea in my head. For Gliese 581: Departure I knew I wanted to write a sci-fi novel that included a journey to Gliese 581g, the discovery of an Earth-like planet announced in 2010 by Steve Vogt. I began to write it,, but had no idea what the “conflict point” was. Eventually, I thought, “I’ll add a saboteur!” But I still had no idea why the man wanted to kill everyone off. It sat there, for a couple of years, until I thought of combining it with The Plague Tales, another “snippet” in which I imagined a woman, naked in a drive-thru, eating until her stomach exploded.
Often the entire storyline does not reveal itself. I have a general idea of where I want to go, and then I pull it out of my ass as I write. Yes, you are reading writing pulled from my butt. What an image!
Q: Do you write in order?
A: Nope. Not at all. In War’s End: The Storm, when I realized I needed to kill off a character I really liked, I literally wrote the book around that chapter. I couldn’t bear to write it, it was literally painful for me. Finally, I wrote the aftermath, the chapter immediately after it, and then I managed to push it out, crying the entire damn time.
In Schicksal Turnpike, I kept getting stymied over the first chapter, the ONLY chapter I had written some three years before. I plotted the book out, set in chapter names and wrote notes in each of the chapters about what they were about, and then began writing in whatever chapter took my fancy.
If I try to go in a straight line, I tend to get bored. A bored writer makes for boring prose.
Q: So, are you able to make a living as a writer?
A: Ummm…not yet. I have a couple of jokes I usually tell people about this whole writing thing I do. When I’m meeting a potential cleaning client (yes, I clean toilets on the side) I tell them “I’m a writer, that’s why I run a housecleaning business.”
I also will tell folks, “It was a good month, I earned my monthly latte from Amazon!” And until the last couple of months, that’s about what I could expect, somewhere between $3-$10 in income from book sales and pages read through Kindle Unlimited.
That said, it’s gotten better recently. That doesn’t mean it will stay better, but with this month’s dividends I can probably buy FOUR lattes at Starbucks. I’m really quite proud of that.
Yes, the goal is to have my writing income replace and exceed my cleaning income. So far that hasn’t happened, but I remain eternally optimistic.