Deadlines

December 10, 2015

No, not Deadpool, deadlines...

No, not Deadpool, deadlines…

The best projects have timelines and deadlines. I don’t know how anyone gets anything done without imposing those on themselves.

My last article talked about the path less taken and challenging yourself to pursue your passion, but in the end, and at the end of that article, I touched on deadlines.

My biggest enemy is procrastination. I don’t think I’m alone. When I’m at my ‘real job’ I can’t just put things off and ignore projects for weeks at a time, but for some reason the projects I lay at my own feet get delayed and ignored. Why? These are the things I am passionate about.

Unfortunately it comes down to feedback and feelings of self-worth.  No one has jumped on either of my screenplays and my book sales are mediocre, but that really shouldn’t be the thing that holds me back. The writing is the ends, not the means. My self-worth can’t be measured by the judgement/reaction of the outside world. My work has to be ongoing for me.

Well, that got a little personal. I don’t limit what I write here because I think the process has to be organic, not contrived, so there it is for the world to see. My self-doubt… but I have a feeling I am not the only one. We ARE worthy. And we are creating. And the process continues…

Back on target. One thing that helped drive me with the audio works was that there was a group of people depending on me to finish scripts and there were definite deadlines. I allowed other people to determine what I was creating and when it was due, but truthfully my inner demands should be given equal weight. A self-imposed deadline should be just as valid and urgent as anything coming from without.

Let’s make it so.

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Is being silly outside your comfort zone?

Is being silly outside your comfort zone?

We tend to limit ourselves. Yes, I am speaking for all of humanity. I am qualified and obligated to do so. (Just kidding, but I’m going to do so anyway.)

One of my favorite quotes from Robert Frost is the “I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”  Life does present us with paths from an early age and we unknowingly decide the course too soon. Who knows what passions we will have as we mature? yet at a tender age we are expected to select a path. Deviating from that path is frowned upon.

One of my favorite stories to tell is when I decided to leave the steel mill. I had arrived at the mill through a series of random events and passion certainly didn’t have anything to do with it. Answering an advertisement, as many people seeking employment do. Not thinking “Is this job a good match for me?” but rather thinking, “can I do this job?” But I digress.

After spending fourteen years at the steel mill I decided to move on. I needed to write and I felt the steel mill was allowing me to keep writing as a hobby rather than a career. I went in to my boss and said I was giving my two weeks notice. He asked what my plans were and I told him I was quitting to finish my first book and to pursue my writing. He had a puzzled look on his face and said, “Rob, are you sure you know what you are doing?” and I replied, “No.” A simple response. I was jumping off a cliff. Leaving security behind. But I did finish that book and went on to write a few more… (you can buy any of them here. Look around and click.. )

But my comfort zone needs to be disturbed again. I have written novels, screenplays and audio dramedy.  Now I embark on the journey of my first musical for the stage. It’s an idea I’ve had for a while, but I never have pursued it. Now is the time. I am writing and am working with an accomplished musician to make it come to life.

It’s scary. I’ll admit it, but I am in a great place for it right now. The audio show (It’s about time travel agency) has wrapped after a great two year run. And now my time is again all my own. But not unlimited time. We all have only so many hours/days/years and you just don’t know what tomorrow will bring, so I have limited myself… or challenged myself to finish this in six months to a year.

I urge anyone to do the same. Think about your passion. Align a project. Give yourself a deadline.  “There is no day but today” to quote another musical, so …Go! Do! Create!

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Huffington Post

August 29, 2015

It’s important to pat yourself on the back once in a while. Writing is a tough job and the kudos don’t come along that often, at least when you are starting – so give yourself props…

Here’s a bit of kudos on the podcast I write for. We were mentioned on Splitsider.com and that got picked up by the Huffington Post. 

It’s about time travel agency is a podcast about two guys who run a travel agency which happens to have a portal that can send people back in time. I am one of four writers for the show, and the episodes mentioned on HuffPo were written by me with a bit of help from my buddy Douglas Clinton.

So here we are. Page one of Huff Entertainment, right next to Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence. They kind of missed that it’s the Rockette’s Red Glare, but I’ll forgive them…

huffsnip

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Ten Writing Tips

August 12, 2015

Some good information here from Josh Bernoff… had to share.

Ten Writing Tips

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Book Facts

July 4, 2015

Reading equals growth, never stop.

bookfacts

Currently reading: The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

Credit to robertbrewer.org. thanks for sharing

#readingisfundamental

 

 

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Trimming the fat

June 21, 2015

I’ve never had to use crutches in my life (knock on wood) but I have had to wean myself of verbal crutches in my writing.

My favorite crutch is the word “that.” That is over-used and many times can be dropped from your sentences without any impact on meaning. This is really funny because I glanced at a headline for an article on using twitter and “that” is the number one word to drop. Twitter makes you think of economy of characters for sure and superfluous verbiage should be sliced to the core. Ha. Superfluous verbiage. Who uses words like that in conversation? But you see crazy shit when stories are being told. Using 50 cent words when 25 cent words will do doesn’t make you seem smarter; you’re just making your reader work harder.

One of the best compliments I’ve ever received on my writing was “a super easy read.” Some writers might take that as a criticism or something to try to overcome, but people don’t want to work hard when they are reading. (By the way, this was from the review for Blaze Motors. You might want to check it out.)

A bit of fat goes a long way.

A bit of fat goes a long way.

To keep this post brief, “really” “honestly” and “literally” are the other three words that add nothing. It reminds me of people who start a sentence saying “to tell you the truth.” Um, should I distrust everything you say unless it’s preceded by this phrase? “To tell you the truth” tells me you are about to tell me something I should seriously consider to be bullshit. You are telling me “the next part of this dialogue is going to sound impossible, but “trust me” it’s not.” Ha.

I am not saying cut out every word; just make sure you consider the purpose of each word you write. It’s sort of like a nice cut of beef. Marbled beef tastes sweeter… Cut the fat, but leave in some excess for flavor.

 

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It's about time...

It’s about time…

It’s an exciting time to be a writer. There are so many outlets for writing, whether you are concerned about paying gigs or just expressing your creativity while building an audience!

I have used multiple sources to find clients. websites like elance or craigslist can hook you up with jobs (as always be careful)

I’ve also found that people can find you through writing on websites like Ezine Articles or even by writing for a podcast.

One thing that you can get out of any of these is building a network. Networking can make things happen. I would use, for example, I got cast in a short film because of being involved with the podcast It’s about time travel agency.  It’s a cool writing gig that landed me a role in a film. how cool is that?

Speaking of It’s about time, the first episode of season two is now online and it’s a nail biter. Loose ends from last season get tied up, and new plots start to unravel.. tune in..

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Determination and Drive

March 28, 2015

Sometimes it’s not raw talent that wins out, but the dedication to your art, education and the mental drive to get ink to paper (figuratively speaking.)

trailI ran a 10K race today and was unprepared. I had injured my foot somehow (don’t ask how, since I really don’t know.) but the one thing I did have was drive. I refused to not run the race; I made it to the starting area, then I refused to stop running. My pace may not have been record-setting, but the outcome was that I finished the race. It wasn’t talent. I don’t have talent when it comes to physical tasks. It was just a mind-set.

Yeah. This is about writing. It gets done when you get yourself to the starting gate and GO! Pace isn’t as important as being in the race.

Next time, we’ll talk about building an audience and their anticipation for your next book. Cheers!

Now off to soak my aching legs…

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So my last post was concerning having books in multiple formats and available from different sources. To that end I decided to go with CreateSpace for my latest books and the first proof to arrive was for “Blaze Motors.” The reason I went with CreateSpace was because the books will link up automatically with my Kindle versions and directing people to Amazon is easy enough. (as demonstrated by the link above. – go buy one of my books now.)

So, on to some images.

First off the cover was designed by my wife, Deb. For some people this would already be a flag. Holy crap, who is the editor, your 8th grade grand-daughter? No. My wife is a graphic designer with over 20 years in the business and she is amazing. The reason I mention that she designed it, is to let you know I didn’t use one of the createspace templates. From my understanding the templates limit your options for fonts and overall design. Not saying you couldn’t have a great cover using those tools; I just didn’t use that route.

Blaze Motors by Robert Britt The cover looks great and the book feels great. Quality heavy duty paper, not cheap or flimsy. Picture is outstanding and the cover is sharp looking. I had some concerns whether this would turn out well, but the look and feel is very nice.

The spine also looks very good. If you use the template you are sort of stuck with what they offer as far as limited fonts and spacing, but this looks really nice and reflects the cool fonts on the cover.

DSCF4933

The back cover also looks good. The font is Pallatino. The image in the back was supposed to be sort of a watermark look, but looks a bit darker than it did in Photoshop. I just didn’t want a plain black background, so this works well..

DSCF4934

So on to the interior. I used a size 12 Georgia font after scouring the internet trying to figure out what would look okay. I’ll get more into the formatting I used in Word at the end of this post. 12 worked. It could be smaller and still be easily legible. I’m going with 11 for future works. Something I wasn’t sure of was whether CreateSpace would add a page at the beginning to put in the legaleze and publisher information. They didn’t. So likely in the future I’ll add a title page and also some copyright information.

DSCF4936 DSCF4935

Finally, the binding. This is also quality. It reminds me of the soft cover text books I had in college. Very pleased.

DSCF4938

So on to formatting. I used the 6X9 book size and set up my word document as such. I had to use the ‘custom size’ feature. I set the header and footer margins at .35, and the other dimensions as below.

create space page setup

Gutter spacing depends on page count.

gutter

For paragraph spacing I did 10 points after. (that’s in the page layout section of Word)

Couple things. This is supposed to automatically link to a Kindle book within 5 days, if you’ve already done a kindle version. One cool thing – if you haven’t done a kindle version of your book, Createspace will do it for you. Not sure how the formatting and all would work out with that, but it is a possibility.

Different fonts work better on Kindle than print. I used Verdana 12 for Kindle and Georgia 12 for paperback. What would createspace choose or do you get to make that choice? I don’t know the answer to that.

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Lessons learned.

I did 10 point spacing after the paragraph. Probably too much. Not going to change the books I’ve done, but for future reference I think I’ll do 6 points.

I didn’t do any headers. Most books have author name and book title on alternating pages. Maybe in the future….

Add title page up front along with legal gobbledegook. (probably)

Don’t “select all” to change font type and think it’s going to be okay. Have to edit the new font for spacing, page breaks, etc. This was a pain, but also was an additional editing chance and possibility to see errors which may have been missed.

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Any questions, comments, etc? I’d be happy to share my experience.

 

 

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Format and audience

December 27, 2014

So if you’ve been reading here for a while you know that I am a big fan of the e-book format and especially the Kindle reader, but you really have to think about your audience when you are writing (and more importantly marketing.)

There are lots of people out there who don’t own an e-reader and will never own one. It’s just a foreign thing to them. And… I’ll say it. There is a certain tactile feel to holding and reading a “real” book. Paper and ink just have their own feel and smell and it’s an independence thing. You are alone and absorbed and it’s disconnected and connected at the same time.

It’s disconnected from that online electronic world which has enveloped the world, but it connects you to people that have been around since shortly after Gutenberg and his press opened up the world for reading. It’s a connection to history. Shakespeare held paper and read the inked word and so have all the modern writers. Whether it’s a newspaper or a book there is something about holding the printed page.

I went off on a little trip there, but it felt good. The point is that you have to get your words on paper to reach a larger audience. That might be magazines or it could be a newspaper, print on demands or a traditional publisher, but you have to spread the word with assorted delivery methods.

There’s something to chew on. Happy holidays and raise a glass to a successful new year! champ

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