10 Things You Should Never Say to a Writer

Ever had someone find out you’re a writer, just to say something absolutely stupid, irritating, or rude in response? Believe it or not, it’s a lot more common than you think. There’s probably 50+ things you should never say to a writer. For today’s blog, I’ll narrow it down to ten of the worst things you could ever say to a writer. Period, end of story.

#1, I wish I had time to write.

I don’t have time to write. I make time to write. If you’re too lazy to make the time, then you clearly don’t wish for the time after all, eh?

#2, I have an idea for a book! You write it, and we’ll split the profit 50/50.

This one is particularly annoying, having had this one said to me personally. The problem with this one is manifold. First of all, I have my own stories to worry about writing. But let’s set aside that fact and the fact that a story from a non-writer is unlikely ever to be published. If the idea was worth my time, I wouldn’t be putting in 50% of the work. I’d have to write the book, then I’d have edit it, then send it to a professional editor, then more edits on top of that…. Do you get it? A simple idea is not worth that much time and effort for 50% of the profit. That’s 95% of the work at least, meaning I better be getting well over 50% of the author royalties.

#3, Can I have a free copy of your book?

Not if I want to do this full-time. Authors need this little thing called food, rent money, and various things like that. If I were to give away free copies, I’d live in my parents’ basement forever.

#4, You won’t let me read your book? @$$hole!

If a project isn’t ready, it isn’t ready. I don’t become a jerk just because my book is in the early stages of it’s development, and if you can’t accept that, go screw yourself.

#5, Can you base a character off me?

No.

#6, But what’s your real job?

Unless you want a knife in your back, never say this to a writer. People don’t ask this question when they find out someone plays basketball or disk golf, so why writing? It’s unfortunate that people treat writers like lazy, idealistic fools just for being creative, yet they never ask someone who plays ball when they’re going to join the NBA. This is what I like to call a double-standard.

#7, But there’s no money in books.

I write for fun, and to produce art. I’m not in this to get rich. We’re not all J.K. Rowling. If I wanted to be rich, I wouldn’t have chosen to self-publish my books.

#8, You should write about this, not that.

The first amendment says I can, so kindly take that advice and shove it. Don’t ever tell a writer what he or she should write about. It’s rude, and nine times out of ten, you’re just plain wrong. You don’t know what I’m good at writing about. Who are you to judge?

#9, But what about your social life?

I’m perfectly happy without one, thank you very much. All I need is my writing, my family, and my woman. A social life is not important to me at all.

#10, What’s your book about?

This is my least favorite thing to be asked. If the book is published, you can find it online. If it’s not published, it’s not ready for the world quite yet. I’m not going to bother giving you an oral synopsis just to make you happy. If you’re really curious, either buy the book and read it or shut your freakin’ mouth. It’s not cute, it’s not funny, and it’s not my fault you’re not willing to wait to find out.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

On Writing: Kingslayer, A Novel by Napoleon Lovecraft

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you’ll know that I recently completed my novel Kingslayer. And to be honest, this was a major step in my career as a writer. I can barely remember the days before I started working on this project, primarily because I’ve been working on it for over ten years. It’s been a lot of work, mainly because this book has been the project that taught me how to be a writer. And when I say that, I really mean it.

Not a day goes by in which I don’t think of the characters, which is likely to continue even though I’m moving on to other projects. I hope some of you will grow to enjoy reading this book just like I enjoyed writing it. Some will not, which comes with the territory of writing high fantasy (or sword and sorcery), but that’s okay considering what my goals for this project are. But now that I’ve revealed what kind of book it is, let’s get into the nitty-gritty about how the novel is set apart from other books in the same genre. There are three things that really stand out: it’s told in first person, it does not have medieval-level technology, and most importantly, there are dozens and dozens of footnotes in the book.

First Person POV

This isn’t too revolutionary, though as anyone who is well-read in the fantasy genre could tell you, first person point of view is something that never happens in high fantasy. The Lord of the Rings is written in third person, as is Harry Potter and A Song of Ice and Fire. But the truth is (in regards to writing in first person), I wasn’t trying to be unique. I was simply trying to write the best story I could, and third person POV just wasn’t working out.

The Technology

This high fantasy has guns, airships, locomotives, pocket watches, and bionic arms. I personally think of the tech being a little steampunk-ish, but that’s open to interpretation. One thing that isn’t up to the reader, however, is the fact that the world I’m writing about isn’t medieval Europe. Think more industrial revolution plus magical world, and you may be getting close.

Lots and Lots of Footnotes

This is a bit of an oddity in fiction, particularly the kind I’m writing. There are a couple famous books with them (including Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke), but none that really stand out to most readers. The truth is, I fell in love with the idea of using footnotes in fiction, which to some may seem a bit nerdy, but it’s the type of art I wanted to produce. With a single viewpoint character, I was limited on what I could do with the book. The footnotes solved that problem. They provided “historical” records of battles that take place, plus simple definitions of made up words and terms, not to mention the fact that they helped me insert incantations and descriptions of spells that are being cast by wizards or magic-savvy characters. The bottom line: they helped me tell a story in a very unique way, and honestly, I’ve never seen a high fantasy written this way before. It’s something I’m truly proud of.

I’ve yet to release a plot description or a cover (which should not be a surprise, considering neither have been put together yet), but I will post updates on Twitter as time passes.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Weird Things Writers Do

Assuming that all of the readers of this blog are writers like me, we all do things that those “normal people” consider strange in one way or another. Perhaps you cannot focus without your favorite snack by your side or you let your entire social life fall apart. Nonetheless, us writers are an unusual group of weirdos. So I figured, today’s blog should be a list of some of the most common, strange habits that writers tend to pick up.

Talking to Yourself

This one is likely a common thing that everyone does, whether they want to admit it or not, but it gets even stranger when you write fiction. Ever spoken to yourself as if you were talking to one of your characters? Yeah… me too.

Things Start to Get Smelly

 

Needless to say, writers tend to love getting stuck in a story. But have you ever gotten so busy writing your novel or short story that you forgot to shower, brush your teeth, eat, or change your clothes? Mhm… me too, and it’s something loved ones tend to point out, so avoid this one at all costs, especially if you don’t write as a full-time job.

Acting Out the Scene

Say you want to know how it sounds if you do one thing or another in your novel, so you decide to act it out. It’s actually more common than you might think. I do it, at least.

Different Sleep Pattern

Ever gotten a phone call at 11 a.m. and you’re sleeping because you were up till 4 in the morning, working on your novel? The truth is, creative people are a lot more productive at night, and this may seem outside the norm to those unfortunate “normal people.” Oh well….

Writing Drunk

This is a more famous one, since Edger Allen Poe supposedly got himself drunk and wrote his poetry and fiction while intoxicated. Some other writers do this, which is interesting to me. Personally, I’d never do it. But if that’s how you roll, who am I to stand in the way?

Scrambling to Protect the Computer Screen?

Ever had someone come up behind you and ask you what you’re working on, only for you to cover the screen and have them get offended? It likely has something to do with the fact that you’re drafting the project and it’s not ready to be read, but what do I know? I’m only the writer in the room.

Dropping What You’re Doing to Take Notes

If any writing habit is more common than the others, it’s this one. I can’t tell you how many writers have an idea for a story that comes out of nowhere. And from my understanding, it always results in them dropping what they’re doing to find something to write on. Nowadays, we have the iPhone with a notepad, but it wasn’t always like this. And as a writer, when inspiration strikes, remember that this one happens to all of us.

There’s likely a good 15-20 things I could post, but I’ll stop the list there. That’s it for now.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Learning from Failure

Since 2012, I’d been working on a novel that would hopefully serve as a prequel to my debut, Kingslayer. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried and no matter how many times I tried to rewrite the darn thing, this prequel idea just didn’t want to be finished. I kept writing it until recently, the whole project just fell apart. The time I wasted writing the project is part of the reason I’ll soon be focusing on shorter fiction (short stories and novelettes), but that is a post for another day. The truth is, I learned a lot from this failed attempt at a manuscript, which is what I want to discuss in this blog entry.

In the long run, this failed project actually made Kingslayer a better novel, and provided some much-needed backstory for one of the main characters. I know that character a heck of a lot better now, and now I have a better idea as to what’s going on in my main project, Kingslayer. I really wish that I could’ve kept on going with this story idea, but sometimes it’s just not meant to be.

In short, I learned that it is important save your ideas, even the ones from failed projects. You never know when that writing will become a backstory in one of your books, or a subplot in another. Bottom line: if you have a story that falls apart, throw it in a folder on your laptop and back it up for future reference, and never hit the delete button. You never know if you’ll need those files one day.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Is a Creative Writing Degree Really Worth It?

Having been a writer for sixteen years, the art of Creative Writing is something that is second nature to me at this point. I work hard on a novel for six months or even a year or two, and sometimes it’s pretty exhausting. But it’s always worth it, because at the end of the day I get to hold that big, fat manuscript.

But one thing I’ve noticed is that–despite having taken several college classes in fiction writing–none of them have helped me become a better writer. That’s because fiction writing isn’t something you can actually teach. As Stephen King once said, to be a writer you need to read a lot and you need to write a lot. So the question is, is a Creative Writing degree really worth it?

The short answer is no, but only if you want to write books professionally like Stephen King, Brandon Sanderson, or J.K. Rowling. Again, being a good writer comes from both writing and reading a lot, and no amount of sitting in class, hearing your professor blab at you is going to help you land a deal with HarperCollins.

What a Creative Writing degree can do, however, is get your foot in the door in the publishing industry. What a lot of schools do (like the University of Central Arkansas, my college) is they host writing festivals and conferences where local and regional authors come and talk about their work. Kelly Link, who has worked with Cassandra Claire and Holly Black, came to my university last semester, with a lot of useful advice.

Unfortunately, none of that will help if you can’t write worth a darn. The most useful thing a Creative Writing degree can do for you is to get you a job with a publisher or another writing-related job. The best thing you can do (if you want to land a deal with a decent publisher) is to work hard to be the best writer you can be, and study the work of those who have done it all before. That’s the best advice I can really give.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Quick Update On Tomorrow’s Post

Hello, everyone. For tomorrow, I had originally planned to make a YouTube video on my experience with a college program in Creative Writing. Unfortunately, my speech impediment is hindering me from making the intended videos, so I’m going to be doing a blog instead. This is pretty annoying, because I had originally wanted to do some writing vlogs in addition to my blog posts, but I guess I’m just not cut out for YouTube. But know that there’ll be plenty of blog posts in the coming weeks to make up for the vlogs that I am clearly not fit to make.

Anyway, that’s it for now.

–N.L., 2017

Why I Chose to Self-Publish

In the world of publishing, there are a lot of options available to those who want to see their work in print. Some go the traditional route, and attempt to land a deal with a big New York publisher like HarperCollins or Random House. I, on the other hand, have made the really hard decision not to traditionally publish, and attempt to self-publish my novel. For those of you wondering why, let me explain.

As a writer I have been traditionally published before, but my experience was less than desirable. They were a small press, and because of this they didn’t really know what they were doing. In addition, their contract lasted five years, which was terrible seeing how the book didn’t sell very many copies to begin with. So, in a nutshell, I was forced to deal with an amateur publisher that didn’t know what they were doing for five years, with zero creative control to show for it. This is why you absolutely must research your publisher before signing any kind of contract. Period. I learned that lesson the hard way.

Another contributing factor was that my stories tend to be shorter than typical novels. This means that the only publishers that would accept my work were small presses (like the one mentioned above). Needless to say, I’m not making that mistake again. Thus, we have the option of putting it up on the Kindle and eReaders like it, along with the P.O.D. options that Amazon’s company CreateSpace provides. With their services, an ebook can be priced at $2.99 and the author gets 70% of the profits. That doesn’t happen with traditional publishing at all, which means self-publishing is a better option now than ever before.

Something else to keep in mind is that with small presses, you simply don’t get the investment from the publisher that the book needs to succeed. This means it pretty much falls on the author to market the book. But if the author is expected to do all the marketing (from Facebook to Twitter), it seems logical that the author would just publish the book themselves and take the 70% that is mentioned above, as opposed to a mere 6-12% (which is typical) that they would get from traditional publishing. It seems to me that self-publishing pays better, plus you get more direct control over how well the book does in the book publishing marketplace.

So there you have it. The truth is I could go on with even more reasons why I’m self-publishing my novel (such as marketing and the print life of the books being published), but I’ll stop there.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblong and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017