Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Quotes of the Week

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.
—Friedrich Nietzsche

The first time I appeared on stage, I really didn’t know what all the yelling was about. I didn’t realize that my body was moving. It’s a natural thing to me. I asked my manager backstage, ‘What’d I do? What’d I do?’ And he said, ‘Whatever it is, go back and do it again.’
—Elvis

When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.
—Will Rogers

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.
—John Muir

When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest. 
—Stephen King

Everything can nourish the writer. The dictionary, a new word, a voyage, an encounter...a book, a phrase learned.
—Anaïs Nin

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.
—Ernest Hemingway

You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
—Jack London

I'll be writing records until I'm dead, whether people like it or not.
—Alanis Morissette

Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
—E. L. Doctorow
 


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Quotes of the Week

I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.
—Sylvia Plath

If your book doesn't keep you up nights writing it, it won't keep anyone up nights reading it.
—James A. Michener

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.
—Robert Frost

Don't be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value.
—Arthur Miller

Happiness is pursuing work that sustains the spirit.
—Walt Disney

Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.
—John Steinbeck

There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.
—Ernest Hemingway

Philosophy for a Happy Life—
Someone to love, something to look forward to,
and something to do
—Elvis Presley

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Quotes of the Week

 
You're only given one little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it.
—Robin Williams

I have found that a story leaves a deeper impression when it is impossible to tell which side the author is on.
—Leo Tolstoy

Freedom is...the right to write the wrong words.
—Patti Smith

Don't use no double negatives.
Never use a preposition to end a sentence with.
The passive voice should never be employed.
You should not use a big word when a diminutive would suffice.
About those sentence fragments.
Avoid clichés like the plague.
—William Safire

Don’t describe it, show it. That’s what I try to teach all young writers—take it out! Don’t describe a purple sunset, make me see that it is purple.
—James Baldwin

You can only write regularly if you’re willing to write badly. You can’t write regularly and well. One should accept bad #writing as a way of priming the pump, a warm-up exercise that allows you to write well.
—Jennifer Egan

The only thing that makes one an artist is making art. And that requires the precise opposite of hanging out; a deeply lonely and unglamorous task of tolerating oneself long enough to push something out.
—David Rakoff

You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.
—Annie Proulx

Monday, June 6, 2022

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Quotes of the Week

If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area.
—David Bowie

There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in.
—Leonard Cohen

The first person you should think of pleasing, in writing a book, is yourself. If you can amuse yourself for the length of time it takes to write a book, the publishers and the readers can and will come later.
—Patricia Highsmith

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
—J.R.R. Tolkien

We all have time machines, don't we, those that take us back are memories...And those that carry us forward are dreams.
—H.G. Wells

Friday, May 27, 2022

The Fast Friday Interviews: Erica Rue

Erica Rue

Tell me about yourself?

I grew up in Virginia on a steady diet of sci-fi and fantasy. I always loved writing and I was (and still am) one of those people who collect notebooks and hate writing in them. I wrote plays in elementary school and emo poetry in middle school (who didn’t?). I kept writing through high school, lost the habit in college, and found it again in my mid-twenties. Finding my way back to writing has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. It literally keeps me sane. Last August I published The Predator Analysis, the fourth and final book of my debut series, The Kepos Chronicles. 
When I’m not writing, I plant new varieties of veggies in my garden, play video games, and read the same five books over and over to my kids. And sometimes, if I’m lucky, I get to go to the rock climbing gym.

Tell me about your current Book:


A narrow escape from an alien ship. A planet with a secret. Can she save the entire colony, or has she doomed them all to decimation?

Dione Quinn is a biology nerd, not a fighter, but when a school research trip goes wrong and the Venatorians attack their ship, she doesn’t have much of a choice.

In fact, she has even fewer choices when her best friend, Lithia Min, jumps them to a planet outside the Alliance-protected Bubble. They’ve escaped for now, but they are stranded where no one will find them, and one of her classmates has been injured in the attack. The only thing that can save her is on the uncatalogued planet Kepos.

As Dione discovers the truth about the planet and the lengths to which she must go to save her friends, Kepos presents a problem. One that will force Dione to decide: What is her future worth?

What are you working on now?

I’m planning to put out a series collection of all four books of The Kepos Chronicles later this year.
I’m also working on a new trilogy called The Atlantis Crown. It’s a YA dystopian/dystopian romance trilogy. Think “The Selection” by Kiera Cass meets “The Atlantis Grail” by Vera Nazarian. This new series is fun and relatively light, so it’s perfect for an escape. The first book, The Goddess Games (The Atlantis Crown Book 1) just went to the editor. I’m going to try a rapid release, so I’ll be waiting until I have at least two books ready to go before I start publishing the series.

What is something that people don’t generally know about you?

I was an athlete in high school. I played basketball, field hockey, and lacrosse, and while I wasn’t a superstar, I was pretty good. Even my own friends in high school didn’t know until I convinced them to watch one of my field hockey games. To quote my own father: “I didn’t think you could run that fast.” I think because I was also a nerd people assumed I was bad at sports.
And these might be fighting words, but my favorite Star Trek is Voyager. Janeway is the best captain, though Picard is a close second. Between Janeway and B’Elanna and Seven of Nine, I had a trio of worthy female role models growing up. 

What is a favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

Define your own success and set goals. Is success finishing a novel or making six figures? I think it’s important to define one’s own personal idea of success instead of using someone else’s metric. My idea of success probably looks very different from another author’s. It doesn’t matter if you dream big or small because it’s your dream. Once you know what success looks like, so set goals that will help you achieve it. Reevaluate these goals at intervals. Nothing is set in stone. 

What is the best piece of writing advice you give to new authors?

Read and write. A lot. Those are the two things that have made me a better author. When I read something I enjoy, I ask myself why I liked it. Was it the writing style? The characters? The plot? By identifying what specifically made me like a book, I can use that element in my own writing. When I listen to a song, I mostly hear the lyrics and melody. When my audiophile husband listens to a song, he takes in the composition. He can tell you what instruments were used, the key, all sorts of stuff I barely notice, like the fact that apparently, the song Ocean Avenue by Yellowcard has an electric violin. I realized that he must analyze music the way I analyze stories. So that’s my advice. Study stories. Study tropes. Figure out why an element works in one story, but not another, then try it in your own writing.

Links:

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Quotes of the Week

A writer always thinks the last version of his novel is best, until he reads it again...
--Martin Wilsey

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.
—Stephen King

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.
—Stephen King

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. 
—W. Somerset Maugham

Maybe the hardest thing in writing is simply to tell the truth about things as we see them.
—John Steinbeck

Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.
—Orson Welles

It's true that writing is a solitary occupation, but you would be surprised at how much companionship a group of imaginary #characters can offer once you get to know them.
—Anne Tyler

Novel writing, I soon discovered, is like channel swimming: a slow and steady stroke over a long distance in a cold, dark sea.
—Ann Patvhett

Don't loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you don't get it you will nonetheless get something that looks remarkably like it.
—Jack London

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in shock-proof shit-detector—the writer's radar...all great writers have had it.
—Ernest Hemingway

 

Friday, May 13, 2022

The Fast Friday Interviews: Gregory Peterson

Gregory Peterson

Tell me about yourself, Greg?

I will put the things here that I didn’t put in my public bio. I’m a Navy brat, my dad was stationed at the El Toro Marine Air Base when I was born and we ended up settling down in that part of SoCal. I attended a Catholic school in Tustin, California, until high school which is why I’m no longer Catholic. I’ve been a voracious reader since I was a child: fantasy and science fiction being my first true loves. I was obsessed with the Lord of the Rings and was voted Most Likely to Read It 1,000 Times by my junior high class. I had decided by the time I was twelve to be a writer and by fourteen I was submitting my horrifying stories to Omni, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and several others who shall remain nameless. Oh yeah, those stories were horrifyingly bad. I spent the next decade collecting rejection slips and hiding them in a drawer. I never told anyone I was writing and submitting stories, I was too embarrassed.

I kept at it and when I was twenty-four years old I won a short story contest in the Orange County Register. After that, I decided to get off my ass, stop surfing and bartending, and go to college to study writing. I ended up a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, with an English degree and a minor in Chinese studies.

I was hired out of college as an assistant at a Los Angeles magazine publisher, and after I had impressed my bosses with some unsolicited pieces, I was moved up to associate editor three months later. I also discovered I hated magazine writing. I ended up leaving after four years and moved to Portland, Oregon, where I met my wife of now fifteen years. After relocating to Houston, Texas, I experienced a series of catastrophic injuries that led to multiple surgeries (when you turn 40 your warranty expires, btw) and I didn’t write a word for the better part of 7 years as I spent my time recovering and being a stay-at-home dad to my kids. When the munchkins were old enough to be bored with me I committed myself to my dream of writing a novel and… here we are.

Tell me about your current Book:

Aloysius Leigh is a former elite Marine turned high-tech thief. In the aftermath of a heist gone sideways, the technology he was meant to steal invades his body - and leaves him holding the bag
for murder. While the explosive technology seizes control of his body. Leigh must also do battle in the real world as he is hunted by the Russian mob, the FBI, and his former counter-terrorist unit who would like nothing more than to get their hands on the dangerous machines swimming around inside of him and who definitely wouldn't care how. Leigh is alone and running out of time in a war where his very body and mind are the prize. He is outmanned and outgunned - with no friends, no allies, and nowhere to turn.

What he does have is a plan.

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on the sequel to War Machines. I also have a separate urban fantasy novel outlined and sitting on the back burner ready to go, but I am hesitant to go after that one right now. The issues it deals with are profound to me and I’d like to grow a little more as a writer before I tackle it.

What is something that people don't generally know about you?


I have dysgraphia and all its attendant little buddies that travel along with it. If you don’t know, dysgraphia is a specific learning disability as well as a transcription disability. Simply put, it’s a deficiency in the ability to write, primarily handwriting but also coherence. It also overlaps with other neurological disabilities like ADHD and developmental coordination disorder (DCD). So basically, I’m genetically hardwired to not be able to write and to be an uncoordinated klutz. 
So I decided to become a writer, musician, and athlete. Fuck you, genetics.

What is a favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

My favorite lesson and best piece of writing advice go hand-in-hand. Finish it, and write your first draft like no one is looking (cause they’re not). 

I learned those from Neil Gaiman when he came to do a talk in Houston. I was stuck on the first act of my book and couldn’t move forward. He talked about those two subjects and it was like a giant kick in the ass. You can’t do anything if you don’t finish it. The second is more about learning to turn off that inner critic in your head that’s reading over your shoulder as you write. Those were transformative pieces of advice for me. I would hear Neil’s lilting British accent in my head every time I sat down to write, “Finish it.” Over and over I would hear him in my head while I wrote my way to the end.

I had Finish It carved into a piece of wood that hangs over my writing desk.



Links:





 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

RIP: Chris Schwartz

Schwartz, Bailey, and me.
On April 23rd I lost a dear friend. We simply called him Schwartz!

There are not many grown men, outside my immediate family, that I have told, "I love you, man." He was as close as my immediate family, he was family, the family I choose. 

Not many friends during my life have shared so many interests with me. Everything from computers, movies, coffee, building stuff, steak, shooting, reading, TV, the internet, hunting, camping, beer, bourbon, bacon and more...

He loved my cats, the books I wrote, and even my wife Brenda. He was so frequent a guest in our home he had his own bedroom. We'll probably always call it "Schwartz's Room."

Camping
I usually camped with Schwartz for about 20 nights every year. So many deep or absurd conversations on the entire spectrum of topics. Politics to history to movies. He had the best jokes. He was the king of photobombs. Whenever I wrote a new novel he was always the first to read it and was never shy about pointing out my mistakes with humor. 

He was there for me when my father died, when first one brother died, and then another. He always knew the right thing to say.

Schwartz was 10 years younger than me and I always expected he was going to be the one making people laugh at my funeral. Instead, your ashes rest on my mantle waiting for that last camping trip.

Rest in Peace, my friend, my Brother. 
You have the answer now to that mystery.



The Official Obit:

Christopher Nichols Schwartz, 53, of Silver Spring, Maryland, passed away unexpectedly on April 23, 2022.

Born February 21, 1969, in Washington, D.C., Christopher grew up in Germantown, Maryland. Prior to graduating from Seneca Valley High School in 1987, he completed the necessary requirements in the areas of leadership, service, and outdoor skills to obtain the rank of Eagle Scout. 

Chris continued his education at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, majoring in history. He was a member of the Corps of Cadets, Alpha Company, and Navy ROTC. He graduated in 1991. Commissioned as an ensign in the United States Navy, he served at Pensacola Naval Air Station until 1993. 

An informal apprenticeship with the head brewer of McGuire’s Irish Pub in Pensacola taught Chris the craft and the business of brewing beer. He decided to turn one of his hobbies into a career. He soon became head brewer at Potomac River Brewing Company in Chantilly, Virginia, winning awards for Rappahannock Red Ale, a recipe he developed. 

In 1999, Chris transitioned to employment as an information technology engineer, eventually advancing to system administrator at Eagle Alliance in Annapolis Junction, Maryland. 

Aside from a dedication to excellence in his professional life, Chris had many varied personal interests. His love of history was reflected in his passion for woodworking, especially using non-powered hand tools and traditional techniques. A deep appreciation for skillful handcraft and shooting sports led Chris to gunsmithing. In 2003, Chris joined friends for the first time at The Pennsic War, an annual medieval camping event that he attended every year after. Never without a book, Chris’s home library was as extensive and diverse as his knowledge which he was happy to share and discuss over a cup of coffee with friends. In addition, Chris’s rich voice and uncanny ability to come up with humorous movie quotes for any situation made it a pleasure to be in his company. 

Preceded in death by his grandparents, Esley and Ruth Schwartz, Chris is survived by his father, Edward “Ned” Schwartz (Molly); his mother, Melinda Schwartz (Susan Russell); his brother Brett (Sally); Brett’s children, Ruth and Lilly; his former spouse and long-time friend Darcy Ramisch; and many friends who loved him like family. Chris will be deeply missed by all those who were touched by his kindness, quick wit, and sense of humor. A celebration of life will be scheduled at a later date. 
 

Images that Inspire

 


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Quotes of the Week

Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.
—Orson Welles

There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.
—Ernest Hemingway

Maybe the hardest thing in writing is simply to tell the truth about things as we see them.
—John Steinbeck

If you’re a writer, you sit down and damn well decide to have an idea. That’s the way to get an idea.
—Andy Rooney

Work finally begins when the fear of doing nothing exceeds the fear of doing it badly.
—Alain de Botton

It is a miracle. I don’t know where the good songs come from or else I’d go there more often.
—Leonard Cohen

I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.
—Kurt Vonnegut

I thought it would be impossible for you to write one novel. To prove me wrong, you wrote ten. And just to piss me off, they're actually good!
—Chris Schwartz

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Quotes of the Week

Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.
—Orson Welles

I shall live badly if I do not write, and I shall write badly if I do not live.
—Françoise Sagan

It's true that writing is a solitary occupation, but you would be surprised at how much companionship a group of imaginary #characters can offer once you get to know them.
—Anne Tyler

One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones.
—Stephen King

The process of writing is a process of inner expansion and reduction. It’s like an accordion: You open it and then you bring it back, hoping that additional sound—a new clarity—may come out. It’s all for clarity.
—Jerzy Kosinsk

Novel writing, I soon discovered, is like channel swimming: a slow and steady stroke over a long distance in a cold, dark sea.
—Ann Patchett 

Don't loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you don't get it you will nonetheless get something that looks remarkably like it.
—Jack London

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in shock-proof shit-detector—the writer's radar...all great writers have had it.
—Ernest Hemingway

Writers have a rare power not given to anyone else: we can bore people long after we are dead.
—Sinclair Lewis

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Tuesday Tips: John van de Ruit

John van de Ruit’s Top 10 Writing Tips

  1. Get rid of your romantic notions of what writing is. It’s like climbing a mountain; not sprinting.
  2. Open your creative space. Work on unlocking what it is you have inside yourself. Work out what sort of story you’re trying to tell and the best way to tell it.
  3. Be patient with yourself. You will not create a masterpiece without any hard work.
  4. Let your characters possess you. Let them live inside you. You can liken this to method acting. How do they speak, move? What words would they use?
  5. Keep your head down. Finish your first draft. Don’t go back and try to fix everything until you’ve done this.
  6. Rewriting and editing are just as important as writing. The first draft is the rough outline of a sculpture. The next five or six or seven are the refining of that sculpture.
  7. Wrestle with yourself. Challenge yourself constantly.
  8. Writing is about making choices. You have a choice on every page. Every sentence counts. If in doubt, go with your gut.
  9. Find your groove/rhythm/pattern and write according to that. Make sure you write a minimum number of words every day. 1000 words should be the least you do every day.
  10. Use an outline. I make extensive notes and outlines before I begin writing. I also use a diary as an outline because the books are written in diary format.
See the entire article on Writers Write.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Sign Up to My Email Notification List!

I am putting together an Email Notification list that I will use to keep you informed of new releases, book signings or other events. I promise not to spam the hell out of you!

 
*indicates required
 




Friday, April 1, 2022

The Fast Friday Interviews: William Zanotti

William Zanotti

Tell me about yourself:

I’ve been told I don’t look or act my age. But here’s the thing. I’ve never been this old before, so I’m not sure how I’m supposed to look or act. I am a husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, and nephew. My role models are my parents, who just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. I’m almost halfway there. I’ll be celebrating my 29th very soon. My father never finished high school, and my mother barely did, having had to go to summer school after “graduation.” I was the first in my family to get a college degree. College gave me a lifelong interest in books and spurred my desire to write. A career in law enforcement sidetracked me for close to three decades, but now writing (speculative fiction mostly) is how I spend most of my time. 

Tell me about your current Book:


My most recent book, THE LINK: FAREWELL TO HUMANITY, is the second in a science fiction series.  It can be read as a stand-alone, but, chronologically, starts about a year after the end of book one. It’s about being human, I guess, in a universe where people can live in electromagnetic waves/light. But sometimes emotion gets in the way of good decisions. And sometimes, emotion is all that’s left. In the story, Reggie must choose between his commitment to humanity writ large and his commitment to the one person who'd follow him anywhere. Does he turn his back on old friends and continue to pursue a solitary life of domestic tranquility in a quiet corner of the universe, or does he re-join the quest to save the Folk he’s spent his whole life trying to help? When he gets ripped from the green planet paradise he shares with Zoe, he’ll have to trust cool logic and the equanimity of the link to guide him. But back on Greenworld, Zoe reacts differently to his disappearance. The consequences of their decisions will leave them both reeling, and all of humanity in more danger than ever! Oh, and there’s people living on Venus. Can’t leave that out.

What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m writing THE LINK: RETURN TO HUMANITY, book three in The Link series. It’s shaping up to be an epic, picking up close after the end of ‘FAREWELL TO HUMANITY.’ 

What is something that people don't generally know about you?

I once met the mayor of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. It’s pronounced Wah-Guh-Doo-Goo. Friendly fellow.

What is a favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

Well, I still consider myself fairly new to writing, and I’m learning lessons every week. I make lots of mistakes on the business side. An important thing I’ve learned is that it is a business. Make no mistake about it. A book is a commodity/product like any other, to be produced, marketed, sold, and distributed. I am shocked at the lengths to which advertisers will go to identify and track potential buyers! But perhaps an even more important lesson is that you can’t do it all alone. Fortunately, there are many pro writers out there (like Marty Wilsey) who are willing to go above and beyond to help. In the indie publishing world, most authors don’t view other writers as competitors but as colleagues. This is nice.

What is the best piece of writing advice you give to new authors?

With just a couple of novels under my belt, I don’t give too much advice. But I will say that the story is the thing.  No amount of business savvy or marketing will make up for a weak story. It helps to know who will be reading your book (if you can figure that out).

Links:

Email: billyz@williamzanotti.com

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Prepping for my next Writer's Retreat

During my last Writer's Retreat, I made a post mortem list of things to do the next time. One of the biggest items on the list was a full-size keyboard for my Surface Pro. 

I settled on the Arteck Universal Bluetooth Keyboard.

Here are the features that helped me decide
  • Full-size and good key action
  • Bluetooth and wireless
  • Works with my Surface Pro, iPhone, and PC
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Rechargeable via USB, even a car charger
  • Long battery life
  • Great Price!  $29.99
The other thing I will be taking to the Writer's Retreat will be the chair from my office. Gotta keep my butt from falling asleep!

--Getting excited!



Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Quotes of the Week


When I get an idea for a song it would gel in my mind for weeks or months, and then one day just like that, Ill write it. 
—Johnny Cash

I don't want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.  
—Carrie Fisher

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.
—Friedrich Nietzsche

The writer’s, duty is to help man endure by lifting his heart.
—William Faulkner

A writer, like an athlete, must “train” every day. What did I do today to keep in “form”?
—Susan Sontag

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.
—George RR Martin

There is no friend as loyal as a book.
—Ernest Hemingway

The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.
—Mark Twain

Don't write what you think people want to read. Find your voice and write about what's in your heart.
—Quentin Tarantino

Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader's.
—Stephen King