Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Mythbusters (the Writer's Edition)

I started writing this blog post a long time ago, back when I had plans on updating it every week. Now that I AM trying to update it every week, it's time to revisit this topic.

WARNING: this one might be a bit long, but I have a lot of thoughts.


Here are a number of myths I'd like to address regarding writing.

1. Writing is a lonely business.

FALSE! Yes, the act of writing can seem lonely sometimes, when you're locked away in your little writing cave and you purposefully make it a point to shut out the outside world. That's probably for the best while you're doing the work of writing anyway. Getting rid of all your distractions will prevent you from coming up with excuses why you can't get it done. 

But you're not alone. There are so many other writers out there who are doing the same thing. So just remember you're part of the whole collective of writers out there, and that collective is HUGE! And when you're not writing, that's the time you should connect with the rest of the collective, share your experiences, have some downtime with them, ask for help, etc. 

I have found the writing community to be awesome for my own sanity as a writer, to know there are others out there who are experiencing some of the same frustrations, fears, and (occasionally) triumphs as you are.

2. No one can help you on your journey.

FALSE! See Myth #1. The writing community at large is very generous overall when it comes to helping out other writers, especially fledgling ones. 

But other writers are not the only place you can go for help. There are many writing professionals who are always offering their advice and expertise on the mechanics of writing, what's trending, what they're interested in or seeking (great to know when you want to submit your writing), editing services, and workshops where you can work on your creations. They hang out on social media and post little nuggets of info. They also offer private services and present at writing conferences. Not all these options are free, but some of them are. Take advantage of whatever your budget allows.

3. No one can help you except professionals.

FALSE! Sure, professionals are called professionals for a reason. They have lots of expertise and experience behind them that's extremely valuable, and they're in the publishing business, so they have an insight that writers don't necessarily have. 

But you can also learn a lot from everyday people. Some of these people may be writers like you. Some may work in other industries. Some may be your loved ones and friends, while others are complete strangers. There are always opportunities to learn from anyone and everyone. 

Writers will always tell you that ideas are everywhere, and I believe that's true. You just have to be open to receiving them, no matter where they are. And never be afraid to ask anyone for help.

4. The publishing industry is against you.

FALSE! I hear this one a lot, usually from writers who have self-published or are interested in self-publishing. They say that publishers are the gatekeepers preventing them from getting their work out there. I don't want to turn this into a self-publishing vs. traditional publishing topic, because it's not meant to be. Both options have their pros and cons, both are equally viable options, and only you as a writer know which is better for you personally. 

But I personally don't feel that traditional publishers are out to get you. Publishers, agents, and anyone else who is in the business of selecting people's work to represent are people just like you and me. Which means they have personal interests that are varied. Your work of art might not be anything that a particular publisher connects with. Another one, however, might feel your story is the best thing they've ever read. The challenge is to avoid the former and seek out the latter. 

How do you do this? Research. Lots and lots of research. Fortunately, as I've stated in Myth #2, publishing professionals are very active on social media and attend workshops and events where they offer up what they're interested in and what they're seeking. 

Also, you do have to remember that publishing is a business, and publishers and other professionals are ultimately going to gravitate toward what they think will sell and that the public at large are interested in. 

I will say this. Regardless of what the current "trends" are, if you've written to the best of your ability and poured your heart and soul into what you've written, someone will take notice, and you could wind up being the next '"trend".

5. You're a fraud because you don't have any experience in writing or what you're writing about.

FALSE! Not having any experience in writing or even a particular writing topic does not automatically make you a fraud. 

Let's address the first issue first: not having any writing experience. At first glance, this whole writing thing is one of those catch-22s, isn't it? You need experience to be a writer, but you don't have any and can't get any until you've had experience being a writer. This is faulty thinking. You DON'T need experience to start writing. Just do it! So you don't know the mechanics of writing. Maybe you make grammatical or spelling errors. Maybe you need help with how to plot a novel, or how to make believable characters, or how to writing engaging dialogue. There are plenty of places to learn. Take courses. Take advantage of whatever free resources are available to you. And practice, practice, practice! And, as I said in Myths #2 and #3, don't be afraid to ask people for help.

Now for the second issue, which is a big one these days: what if you don't know about what you're writing about? Especially with today's focus on own voices and unrepresented or underrepresented writers (which I FULLY believe is something that the industry as a whole needs to work on), are you in danger of being out of your league or, even worse, offending someone through misrepresentation with what you're writing about? Maybe. It's something you really need to think about. Personally, I feel you can write about anything if you're coming at it from a place of sincerity. 

However, your best bet is to pull from your own experiences, feelings, imagination, and point of view. That's the best way to produce something that sounds authentic. Everyone is unique and has their own stories to tell. Dig into those, and tell them in your own way. 

Of course, you also want to expand your own worldview too, and your own story universe, so you might want to include topics, characters, cultures, etc. that are different than your own, which I also strongly encourage. When you do this, however, DO YOUR RESEARCH. Check your sources. Get multiple points of view. Reach out to others who have more knowledge of these things than you do, who may have experience in what you're trying to write about, and listen to them.


What are your thoughts about these writing myths I've addressed? What other writing myths have you heard, and what is your response to them? 

Remember there are NO hard and fast rules about writing. That's what makes the profession so wonderful. You get to bust the myths and forge your own path. So get out there and do it!

Monday, March 15, 2021

Baby Steps

While going through all my old writing idea folders, I found that the first folder was simply titled "50 Words". Inside, I found four 50-word short stories that I had written that I had never done anything with. Along with taking these little gems, dusting them off a bit, and doing some research on where I could send them, I also got a great idea for a blog entry.

When struggling to figure out where to start with your writing, whether you're new to it or have been doing it for years but you're a little rusty, my advice is to take baby steps. Think of a baby. A baby has a very short attention span. Many readers are the same. This is not a negative or derogatory comment. People are just busy these days. They're longing for an escape, but maybe they only have a few minutes to do so before they have to dive back into their real lives. I happen to be one of those people. A short story every now and then would be perfect for them.

Start with a very short story, a poem, an idea. Nothing says you have to have the next Great American Novel right out of the gate. Something simple yet impactful and meaningful to you will do. Polish that little gem up to the best of your ability. Maybe let some of your writing partners or friends read it to see what they think. Then send that little gem out into the world. 

If you're lucky, someone will pick that jewel up and want to share it with the world. Or maybe it stays hidden and no one finds it at all. But you've succeeded in taking that first step of finishing a project and submitting it for publication. That should be enough to pat yourself on the back and say, "Hooray! I did a thing!" As well you should. That in itself is no small feat.

For those who are taking these first steps (or 10th, or 100th), what are you working on? What have you submitted? What gems of yours has someone picked up and published recently? What's out there still waiting to be discovered?

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Revival

It's been over a year since I've written a blog post. At the beginning of last year, I had high hopes that my writing would continue on a good trajectory, I'd continue to have good news to share, and I would be able to focus more attention on this blog and creative endeavors. 

Then the pandemic hit, and, much like everyone else I'm sure, I was plagued with much doubt and uncertainty on a whole variety of things, my writing included. I have been very fortunate in that I have continued to work at my day job (at home instead of on site). Things at home, while very different (some kids at college, others at home doing remote learning), have been mostly fine. But the isolation and lack of contact with others outside the family has been slowly wearing on me. And my writing has all but dried up, due to a lack of energy, interest, and opportunity, among other reasons.

At this moment, however, I feel that the world as a whole is feeling more hopeful, now that there are a number of vaccines developed to handle this virus. I'm also feeling a little more hopeful myself that the end of this craziness is in sight.

The theme of this blog post is "revival". Much like society is slowly reviving, I thought it was time for my writing to do so as well, but how to do that? I've already been down this road a number of times in my life. What makes this time any different? While sifting through my writing files, I realized I have a lot of old stories lying around in various states of completion. Some are nothing but one-sentence ideas. Others are completed stories that just need a little polishing. The majority of them are somewhere in between. This gave me an idea on a goal I can work on for the remainder of this year. I've decided it's time for me to revive my old stories.

Along with that, I've also decided to revive this blog along with my stories. I look around at other writers' blogs and social media accounts, and they all have so much content and other writers have so much to say. I used to think that I had nothing to say that would be of any interest to anyone, writers or otherwise. But I realize that I've been writing long enough now that I do have lots of experiences I can share. 

Some of them are lessons I've learned over my years of writing. Some are fun, crazy, and scary anecdotes. Some are just the voices in my head that tell me that I'm a fraud and that I shouldn't be wasting my time doing any of this. Even those experiences are shared experiences of many writers I've spoken to over the years, and just by talking about them, I might be able to relate to those writers, to tell those writers that it's OK to have these feelings, and to tell them that those feelings can be locked in a box and thrown out to sea, because we don't have to listen to them and they only prevent us from being happy with what we do and what we are.

I am hoping that others are also feeling a little more hopeful this year and are also reviving their own writing somehow. If you are, feel free to drop a comment and let me know what your revival plans are. I would love to hear from other writers, because along with reviving my writing and this blog, I'd also love to revive my communication with others (which is a whole other blog topic, maybe for another day).

Thursday, January 2, 2020

A New Year, and a New Book

Hi all.

Happy new year! I can’t believe it’s 2020. But I’m already excited about a new year in my writing career, especially because right at the beginning of the new year, I have a new book out!

It’s called Artificial Intelligence in the Real World, published by Focus Readers, and it’s part of their Artificial Intelligence series of books geared toward children grades 5-9. 


Here’s a quick summary of the book:

Explores how artificial intelligence is currently being used in the real world, including in health care, retail, manufacturing, and homes. Clear text, vibrant photos, and helpful infographics make this book an accessible and engaging read.

The entire book series is a great introduction to what artificial intelligence is and its impact on our world today. You can order my book or other books in the series using the links below or by going to your favorite bookstore:

Focus Readers:

https://www.focusreaders.com/artificial-intelligence/

Amazon:

Artificial Intelligence in the Real World: https://www.amazon.com/Artificial-Intelligence-World-George-Anthony/dp/1644930749/ref=mp_s_a_1_11?keywords=george+anthony+kulz&qid=1577979634&sr=8-11

The complete Artificial Intelligence set: https://www.amazon.com/Artificial-Intelligence-Set-4-Various/dp/1644930722/ref=mp_s_a_1_16?keywords=focus+readers+artificial+intelligence&qid=1577979439&sr=8-16

This year, in addition to working on getting more short stories and books out into the world, I’m going to be focusing more on my web presence and also working on doing appearances. I’m hoping to share more with you soon.

Hope everyone has a happy, safe, and healthy new year, and that whatever goals and dreams you have imagined for the coming year come to pass.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

In a Flash, Another Story is Out!

Hi all

Right on the heels of my latest publishing news comes more publishing news. My latest flash fiction story, “Custard’s Last Stand”, clocking in at just 101 words, is up at 101 Words, here: https://101words.org/custards-last-stand/#comments

Flash fiction is one of my favorite modes of storytelling, for three very simple reasons.

First, it’s fun. Some of my strangest ideas have come to me while coming up with flash fiction stories to write about. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because it’s so short that I feel comfortable taking chances. If the story somehow doesn’t pan out, it’s no big deal. Putting aside a piece of flash fiction that’s not working is much less devastating than putting aside all the time and energy spent writing a novel that doesn’t work. 

Second, it’s a challenge. And I love a good challenge. It’s sort of like a puzzle. Trying to come up with an entire story - with a beginning, middle, and end - that fits into such a small space is no easy task.

Finally, it’s a great learning experience for a writer. When you’re restricted on the number of words you can use, it forces you to really heed all the great writers’ advice to avoid unnecessary words. Editing flash fiction stories is a great writing exercise that hones skills you can carry over to anything else you attempt to write, from the shortest flash fiction to the longest epic-length novel series. 

For the budding writer that’s just starting out, i suggest trying your hand at getting some flash fiction stories written, not only for the reasons I mentioned above, but also because seeing your work in print after working on a quick story may give you the confidence to try something more meaty. Maybe my story, and the many other 101-word stories on that site, will inspire you to create something of your own.

Happy reading, happy writing, and thanks for following me!

Friday, October 25, 2019

And Now, for Your Listening Pleasure...

Hi all

More publishing news for you. I just found out that my short children's story, Small Mouse, Big Trouble, is now available at Audible.com! It's so amazing to hear that my story is now an audiobook, and now you can hear it too. Just check out the link, here:

https://www.audible.com/pd/Small-Mouse-Big-Trouble-and-Other-Funny-Animal-Stories-Audiobook/B07YNWBQZJ?qid=1572030219&sr=1-1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=E0J93FYWNN847JWTEDBN&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1

I will have more news to share soon about another book coming out, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Two New Coding Books

Exciting news for techie kids out there. There are two more of my books on coding concepts out in the world, published by The Child's World and part of their Simple Coding series.

All About Coding Sequences:




Book description: 

Introduces young readers to coding sequences. How are sequences like a treasure hunt? With real-world examples and labeled diagrams, learn about what a sequence is in code, what it looks like, and how it works. Additional features include a table of contents, a phonetic glossary, a reading quiz, an index, and sources for further research.


All About Coding Selections:





Book description:


Introduces young readers to coding selections. How are selections like coming to a fork in the road? With real-world examples and labeled diagrams, learn about what a selection is in code, what it looks like, and how it works. Additional features include a table of contents, a phonetic glossary, a reading quiz, an index, and sources for further research.


The other books in the series are All About Coding Loops by James Bow and All About Coding Functions by Jaclyn Jaycox. 


You can find these books here:


The Child's World: Simple Coding Book Series


And at Amazon, here: 


All About Coding Sequences

All About Coding Selections

All About Coding Functions

All About Coding Loops