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Monthly Archives: March 2011

Self-Publishing : Wave of the Future?

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So you’ve probably heard about Amanda Hocking, the so-called Kindle millionaire who has had a tremendous success selling her YA Vampire books on Kindle after being rejected by traditional publishers.

Will self-publishing become a viable way to make a living as a writer in the future?

For a few people, yes. One of the great things about the digital age is that a writer, artist, or musician no longer needs to have mass market appeal to find an audience. Thanks to the cheap cost of sharing your creations on the internet, people who create work with a niche appeal can find their niche audience when traditional publishers wouldn’t give them a chance. And that’s a great thing.

But there are a lot of words floating around out there in the cloud. The number of decently skilled would-be authors with some talent is tremendous, and there is tons of their stuff around the internet. So be prepared to do an awful lot of self-marketing and self-promotion in order to find an audience as an indie or self published author.

And do your research. The odds are very very much against you. So don’t go in unprepared. David Carnoy provides a lot of useful information about self-publishing based on his own experiences over on CNET.

But don’t give up. Self publishing also gives you freedom to create what you want to create without being tied down to a publisher’s definition of mass appeal.

As for Amanda Hocking? Apparently she is going the traditional route. She has signed a $2 million dollar deal for 4 books as the result of a bidding war that stemmed from her Kindle success.


Short Story Writing Contest – Absent Willow Review

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Absent Willow Review has announced their 2nd Annual Writing Contest.

They do charge a $10 entry fee – I imagine they get overwhelmed with submissions if they don’t. But look over your stories and if you find one that’s worth taking someone’s time to read, I’m sure it’s worth the $10 entry fee.

I like this magazine (even though it’s not Canadian). It’s a small press that seems to have more character oriented stories than you get in some places. Potentially a good place for a new writer to get a foot into the publishing world.

They publish science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

The deadline is June 30, 2011.

For details, go to :

First Prize: $150.00

Second Prize: $75.00

Third prize: $25.00

Plus Honorable Mentions

First, Second, Third, and selected Honorable Mention winning stories will be published in future issues of the Absent Willow Review

On Discipline

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Things I plan to do :


Write every day.

Limit what I eat.

Exercise daily.

Turn off the TV or video game and read a book.

Write.  Write.  Write. Write.




What I actually do:


Watch tv.

Eat sugar.


Shop online.

Eat more sugar and drink coffee with it.

A little work.

Eat sugar.

Shop online more.

Eat sugar more.

Gossip more.

Forget my gym bag – again.  Oh well too bad?

Eat sugar.

Watch more tv.

Eat sugar.

TV.  TV.  TV.




There seems to be some kind of disconnect but I’m not sure I can put my finger on quite where it’s at.  Can you?


Do I need to join an Eastern Monastery where I would sleep 5 hours a night, eat 10 grains of rice a day, and meditate/pray for 18 hours a day?  Is that what it would take for me to develop more self-discipline in life?



In this modern world, where the luxury and easy/bad choices are so plentiful, how do we build our discipline?

Revision and Will Smith

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You all hate revision, and so do I. But it has to be done. I don’t do a little of it. I do a lot.


Way too much because I revise to the point where I’m no longer improving but killing whatever worked in my story.

Sometimes I revise to the point where I’m telling an entirely different story and deleting the original one.

These are bad habits.

Ever see Six Degrees of Separation? Oddest role for Will Smith yet – It’s worth watching this movie just to see him playing a gay-pseudo-upper-class-elitist-overeducated-new-york-snob against the more natural snobs played by Stockard Channing, Donald Sutherland, and Sir Ian McKellan. NOT Will Smith’s typical role, and I prefer him in anything where he fights alien invasions or encroaching zombies. But it’s a good movie based on a great play (written by the brilliant John Guare) and there’s a quote in it that I think of when revising.

. . . how easy it is for a painter to lose a painting. He paints and paints, works on a canvas for months, and then, one day, he loses it. Loses the structure, loses the sense of it. You lose the painting. I remembered asking my kids’ second-grade teacher: ‘Why are all your students geniuses? Look at the first grade – blotches of green and black. The third grade – camouflage. But your grade, the second grade, Matisses, every one. You’ve made my child a Matisse. Let me study with you. Let me into the second grade. What is your secret?’

‘I don’t have any secret. I just know when to take their drawings away from them.

Perhaps I need someone to take my work away from me at the right time. But no one else is going to do that; I have to force myself to do it. To stop before I’ve killed whatever was good in what I wrote.

I think part of the reason I revise so extensively is that I do not plan what I write in advance. I try to – sometimes I make an elaborate outline, sometimes I try to think of where a story is going in advance. But the vast majority of the time, I just have an idea, a glimpse of a thought, and I flesh it out as I write, and I have no idea where it will end up. Which is why I end with gaps and holes and conflicting information; in short, a muddled mess that needs extensive revision just to reach a comprehensible stage.

Some might argue that I simply need to force myself to outline more, but that isn’t going to happen. I know myself too well.

What I do instead now is force myself to only plug in the holes. Fill in the inconsistencies, fill in the gaps, and stop.

Here’s my process :

1) Reread all the way through to the end. This is necessary for me, because if I let myself revise as I go, I’ll revise the first two pages until the end of time and never get to the rest.

2) Take notes about major inconsistencies and holes.

3) Fill those in, moving along quickly.

Perhaps the most important part of revision :

4) Do NOT evaluate what you’ve written. If you agonize during this time over whether what you’ve written is any good, you will never reach a point where it is complete, which is far, far more important. Simply fill in the holes and stop.

5) Don’t give up or stop because you don’t feel that what you’ve written isn’t good enough. Of course it isn’t. Did you really think that what you wrote today was going to be the best thing you ever wrote? That would be sad indeed. What you wrote today was the best you could write today, and it has weaknesses and strengths. Finish it and move on to the next piece, which will be even better. Don’t get stuck rewriting this one until the end of time.

The greatest challenge for amateur writers is finishing what they’ve written. There are a helluva lot of people out there with pretty good writing skills and a passion to tell entertaining stories. Very few of them are capable of finishing what they’ve started, and a lot of the time, it’s self doubt and self judgment that get in the way. Don’t let that stop you.

Finishing what you’ve started is the most important step. Finish it and move on to the next.

Rough start

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It turns out that someone has reserved –

The nerve! that would have been the perfect domain name. Why? Because it’s simple. It’s my nom de plume and nothing more and in that future world where people 1) know who I am and 2) seek me out on the web, well, I’d be easy to find. Yes, I’m well aware that this future world may never exist anywhere outside my head. But if it does….. my blog will be that little tiniest bit harder to find.

Because I was forced to add in the word spot.

A tragic start to this endeavor.

I cruised over to to check out this other person’s page. You know what I found? Take a guess.

That’s right.

NOTHING. That webpage has not been created. But someone has reserved the name so even though it’s not being used, I’m forced to accept the inferior domain name.

Still – I must move on. I’m here. I’m on the web. I have a blog (my own blog! How many people can claim that? Oh. Right. Lots.)

So look out, internet, here I come.

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