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Posts Tagged ‘sacrifice’


Making a Difference in 10 (Easy?) Steps

   Posted by: admin    in Musings

Many may find the life of an indie author very tedious. Trying to break into the business is a long process of dedication and hard work. You have to absolutely love storytelling. Remember your senior year English term paper? It’s like that, but on steroids. It goes like this:

  1. Draft your novel. This can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to a few years.
  2. Sit on it for a while and start another novel, novella, or short story. This gets you away from the first story so you can return to it with a fresh set of eyes.
  3. Return to it. Read it. Revise it. It’s not reading for pleasure or to pat yourself on the back. It’s a slow, laborious task of finding flaws in grammar, spelling, and the fact that maybe one of your characters put a rifle in the trunk of his car on page 57 but it’s never mentioned again. So, you fix those problems to help the story ring true.
  4. Revise it again because you know that there’s always something to improve upon.
  5. Again! There’s a scene or two that still doesn’t ring true, and you know it. But it’s getting harder to find the mistakes because you’re now so familiar with the words that you’re not sure you’re even reading them anymore.
  6. Send it to a few trusted friends for their feedback. These have to be people that love you enough to tell you when you’re wrong. Even then, they are your friends, so you have to take what they say with a grain of salt.
  7. Consider what you were told to fix, understanding that some of the feedback may go against your vision but is also coming from a subset of your market, so maybe there’s more validity in the criticism than you’d like. Revise again.
  8. Send the manuscript to an editor to find all the mistakes you and your loved ones didn’t notice. There will be some, I promise.
  9. Search for a publisher. Or you may self-publish like many new authors these days. Whatever avenue you’re comfortable with that gets your words to prospective fans.
  10. Wait, wait, wait for sales so that you can finally quit your day job and only write, write, write.

I’m being a little over-disparaging here on purpose. I’m not complaining or looking for sympathy. Nor am I trying to speak for other authors. But I do want to illustrate what goes into writing a novel so that I can talk about a specific author and the sacrifices he’s made in the midst of all that hard work.

If you purchase an R.S. Guthrie book, he’ll donate at least 50% to the tuition of a young man with autism and Down Syndrome. Special needs schools like The Joshua School are expensive, and Rob Guthrie has found a way to help his friends and their son. If you purchase from his website, he’ll also send you a signed copy of the book and the donation percentage increases! This is a man who loves storytelling. If he could, I believe that Rob would sit all day in his Colorado home and type, type, type, until he had a bookshelf full of stories to offer.

He loves writing and the process. He has a blog about it. He’d make a living at it if he could. But he has willingly put a clamp on his ability to earn money from his work. He does this because helping others is more important to him.

He also started Read a Book, Make a Difference to encourage fellow authors to give back. Each author chooses a charity, whatever pulls at his or her heartstrings, and gives a portion of sales to those who need it. As of this writing, I count 38 authors that are part of RABMAD. That’s 37 additional donations around the world that are larger than they might have been because R.S. Guthrie decided that giving back is important, and inspiring others to give back is almost as important as giving back yourself.

RABMAD isn’t an organization with accountants and receptionists and web designers. It’s one man taking the time to pull it all together. You want to be on the list of authors—he does it. You want a new profile pic—he does it. You need to update the links—he does it. He’s writing new novels. He’s keeping up with his blog. He’s tweeting. And he’s finding time to help others.

Being an inspiration while doing what you love—I can’t think of anything better. Rob Guthrie is an amazing man.

I believe that there will come a day when you’ll hear the name R.S. Guthrie again. Good things happen to good people, and when those people are also dedicated to hard work, they succeed at what they do. So, don’t be surprised if you’re be on the phone with a family member and at that inevitable lull in the conversation when you ask, “So, whatcha reading?” the excited answer comes back that the new Clan MacAulay novel came out last week and it’s the best one yet.

I won’t repeat all his information here, but I urge you to visit the R.S. Guthrie website. I think you’ll be glad you did. I was.

You can find R.S. Guthrie’s website, with links to his first novel and two shorter works, here.
His blog, Rob on Writing, can be found here.
Click here for information about The Joshua School, where Rob is helping pay tuition for Ben F.

After you purchase an R.S. Guthrie book, please consider helping other authors participating in RABMAD here.

And when you’re done reading those, check out my RABMAD books, Good Deeds and The Evolution of Mortality.


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A Kid Goes (Chris) Baty

   Posted by: admin    in Musings

I wrote my first book when I was 10 years old.  Sure, it was only five hand-written pages long, but I added a few illustrations, bound it in poster board, and spent a few hours with my colored pencil set to create the cover art.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s officially a book.  I had writer’s block for a couple years, but in the summer between 7th and 8th grade, I wrote another story.  This one was fifty or so hand-written pages.  I bound it, illustrated it, and also considered it a book—the first in a series, with the second written near the end of the school year.  More writer’s block (or maybe it was that I started to notice girls) but I finally wrote a third book my junior year of high school.

Those stories were all mysteries.  I love reading mysteries but I found that I don’t love writing them, and so I now write horror and dark fantasy.  I wrote about that transition in a previous post.  What I need to talk about here is my process for writing those early books.

Each youthful day I spent writing one of those books, I set a goal for myself of one page per day.  Many days saw two or three pages, but no matter what else was happening, I absolutely refused to stop before at least one page was turned over onto the stack.  I was sometimes a few minutes late to the dinner table, and I missed the beginning of The Dukes of Hazard and The Incredible Hulk once or twice.  These were the sacrifices I had to make if I was to finish my books.

Adolescent and adult life happened.  Girlfriends.  The track team.  College.  Perhaps, a party or three.  Career.  Volunteer work.  More college.  A new career.  And on and on.  I let the writing goals slide.  Then I purchased a book, and those goals were brought back to me by Chris Baty and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  There’s a lot behind Chris Baty’s plan for pounding out a novel in November, but at the center is a simple truth: if you don’t set goals and a deadline, then it won’t get done.  Writing a novel is no different than weeding the garden or painting the upstairs bedrooms—you need to set aside the time to finish the task.  Nothing against a periodic sit-down in front of the television, but if you’re watching celebrities learn to ballroom dance, you’re not spending that time behind the keyboard, with the trowel, or on a ladder.  (For me, it was attractive police officers catching murderers with questionable science that took up my time.)

What I’d known instinctively in my youth, I’d forgotten as the years passed.  So, with Chris Baty’s blessing, I set aside some time each day and I wrote a novel.  It took me more than that single month, I must admit, but I did finish Good Deeds.  Putting the last word on the page gave me the same excitement I’d found finishing those little mysteries.  I was giddy!  (Of course, I had champagne to give my giddiness a boost this time, but that’s almost as good as Pop Rocks and Mr. Pibb.)

NaNoWriMo has grown over the years and gained quite a following.  It has spawned a script writing sister program and the Young Authors Program to help kids get excited about reading and writing.  Chris Baty has decided that NaNoWriMo can sustain itself now, and he’s stepped down to pursue his own writing career.  It’s sad to see him go (and I’m sure I’m not the first blogger to say so—Google him and you’ll probably find numerous praises).  He’s helped hundreds of thousands realize a life-long dream.  But after spending over a decade inspiring others, he deserves a break and the chance to pursue his own dreams.

The support of my friends and family helps more than they know.  I’m forever in their debt.  But if it wasn’t for Chris Baty reminding me of a simple truth, my first novel might still be a jumble of images only available inside my head.  If you’ve always wanted to write a novel—or need a jumpstart on your next novel—and you want all the details of how to make November incredibly hectic for you and your family, I encourage you to check out NaNoWriMo.  I don’t want to speak for Chris Baty and the NaNoWriMo staff, but I have no doubt that they will welcome you with open arms.

Maybe, like me, you’ll feel like a kid again.

You can find more information about NaNoWriMo at their website.
Seriously, Google Chris Baty. People really love that guy! Here, I’ll help you…

With November looming, I’m about to start working on another NaNoWriMo novel, Hell Bent, but in the meantime, you can check out my first one, Good Deeds.


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Math, Motorcycles, and Mr. Mauro

   Posted by: admin    in Musings

When I decided to create a blog for my website, I knew I didn’t want to make it just about writing.  In fact, I wanted to make it mostly not about writing.  I wanted to make it about inspiration.  About good people who do good things.  I write creepy stories but, more importantly, I write about people in creepy situations.  I like stories with characters that persevere against insurmountable odds or make sacrifices to help someone else in need.

I want my books to be about those types of people, and I want my writings here to be about those types of people.  I want to share some really great people with you.  Once I decided that, I knew immediately who I wanted to tell you about first—my friend John Mauro.

John is a math teacher.  Teachers are an inspiration anyway (says the former teacher) but John is one of those teachers that they make movies about.  One of John’s students once said to me, “I’m not worried about Mr. Mauro getting mad at me.  I’m worried about Mr. Mauro being disappointed in me.”  John Mauro’s students want to do good by him, and that’s a sure sign of someone who wants to do good by others.

John’s generosity doesn’t stop at helping students solve tricky equations in his classrooms.  John takes the classroom outside and I’ve seen him in the evenings tutoring students at the local coffee shop.  John is usually sporting one of the many T-shirts he purchased from Rosa Loves, an organization whose shirts literally tell a story of need and whose profits go directly to the needy in those very stories.  John chaperones teens on a yearly cross-country trip to do disaster relief, and he tells the kids, “We’re here to work hard, but take every opportunity to talk to as many people as you can.  Get to know them.  Every person you meet has a different story, and I bet they’d like to share it.”

This guy’s heart is as big as they come.

John has recently taken the idea of helping others to a new level.  He took a hiatus from his teaching job here in the States to connect with Rustic Pathways, an organization that helps young people give back around the world.  John journeyed to Peru to help a small community make a better life for its youth.  A long-time proponent of the Girl Effect, which says educating young women is essential to improving the situation in impoverished countries, John has parlayed that support into work on the Sacred Valley Project, where he’s helped build a school for young girls, teach them all those confusing equations, and give hope to people he’s never met.  I can’t think of too many things more inspiring than that.

In his stint in the Peruvian mountains, making lasting connections with people of all ages, John slept in tents during the cold nights.  He endured rain and snow and constant stomach issues.  He cared for others and he worked himself to fatigue.  But for John, that’s all worth it if it helps children get an education and a chance at a full life.

John Mauro makes sacrifices and never complains.  John Mauro is not a martyr.  He’s not looking to impress anyone.  He just wants to be a good person.  He has succeeded.

By the way, he also had his motorcycle shipped down to South America.  He’ll be riding it back—from Peru to Michigan—over the coming months.   He’s decided to take his own advice and stop to talk with as many people as he can and collect their stories.

As a writer, I know that my characters have qualities taken from the people around me.  It’s unavoidable.  Sometimes the jerk in line at the DMV gets himself rolled into a sadistic kidnapper, or a crabby old neighbor becomes a vampire, or something I overheard at the gym sparks an idea for a gruesome death.  My villains come from any number of places.  But I think all my heroes have a little piece of John Mauro in them.

You can find John’s blog about his trip to Peru and back here.
The Rosa Loves T-Shirts that John likes to wear are here.
Information on the Girl Effect can be found here.
The Rustic Pathways website has more information on their programs.
To learn more about the Sacred Valley Project, visit here.

And if you’d like to read a story that has a piece of John Mauro in it, check out Good Deeds.

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