Why I Became a Writer (And It’s Not Why You Think)

Shockingly, this is a picture of a sledge hammer.

Hammer time! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Do you ever wonder if maybe we make crucial life choices based on completely misunderstanding the world around us?

One of the most common questions I’m asked in interviews is: What made you decide to become a writer? I tend to talk about reading and storytelling as a kid, playing with an old typewriter, that sort of thing.

But really, I think it all goes back to a broken plate glass window.

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How to Get the Book Cover You Really Want

I don’t know about other authors, but for me the moment when a book becomes “real” (and not just a story floating around in my imagination) is when I see the artwork for the book cover.

Ever wondered what the book cover process looks like from the author’s perspective?

It starts with cover concepts from the editor.

akbd2Last fall, while I was still writing the manuscript, my editor sent me two variations of the cover and asked for my opinion.

They had decided that in this book, only Dru should be on the cover, not Greyson. (If you haven’t already read Book 1, I won’t spoil the end for you, but I will say this: it’s not exactly a Disney ending for our guy Greyson.)

However, they did want to imply that Hellbringer is back on the road by including tire tracks. And not just ordinary mortal tire tracks, but glowing red tire tracks of doom. Oh yeah!

akbd1(If you haven’t read Book 1 yet, Hellbringer is a 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona possessed by a literal speed demon. Which leads to the most “hellish” car chases ever.)

The biggest thing I love about these cover concepts is Dru’s new sassy silhouette. Also, I love the magical sparkles and cryptic circles floating around her. They add a fun comic-book feel that just screams “MAGIC!”

Uh oh. Problem…

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They’re Here! Advance Reading Copies of “Kiss”

A Kiss Before Doomsday advance reading copies (ARCs)

Hot off the press!

This is where it starts to get real, people. You’re looking at a box full of advance reading copies of A Kiss Before Doomsday.

That means, for the first time ever, the truth is out about Greyson. And Hellbringer. And the end of the world.

And what about Dru’s magic crystal shop, the Crystal Connection, which was utterly demolished in a battle against the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? How will she fight the forces of darkness without her crystals, magic books, and assorted tools of the trade?

And what about her sassy, outspoken, highly inappropriate friends, Opal and Rane? What will happen to them?

It’s all in there.

Plus, there are tons of little Easter eggs for those super-fans who read closely. All of those little details are present.

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Electric Spec Interview on Writing Short Fiction

Electric Spec fantasy and science fiction short stories

Wait, are these stories AC or DC?

It was a real honor to have the chance to sit down and talk with Electric Spec about what makes short stories so relevant today. As writers, short stories give us the opportunity to connect with readers in ways that novels don’t. Besides, talking about how to write short stories is just plain fun.

Also, for probably the first time ever, I talked about the science fiction stories I discovered when I was 12 years old that made me decide to become a writer.

If you enjoy an engrossing science fiction or fantasy short story (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), then you need to check out Electric Spec. For over a decade, these fine folks have been putting out some of the best speculative fiction out there. Give them a shot.

Click here to read my Electric Spec interview.

And speaking of short stories, don’t forget to subscribe to my author newsletter to get a free Dru Jasper story. >

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The Simple Secret to Fixing Ugly Story Problems

how to write: retroactive continuity

When you’re in the middle of writing, don’t stop. Except for coffee.

It happens to every writer: you’re writing along when suddenly you need to go back and change some fact or detail.

Because if you don’t fix it, the story won’t make sense. Should you stop writing at that moment to go fix it?

Nope. That could kill your momentum.

Here’s a better idea. It’s called a retcon, and comic book writers have been using it for decades.

Retcon is short for “retroactive continuity” and it means that you’re stating a new fact that changes what’s come before.

In other words, you’re changing the past.

This is a term I first encountered in the massively entertaining and informative book Writing for Comics with Peter David. (Mr. David, by the way, has an impressive list of comic writing credits, including Spider-Man, Wolverine, Supergirl, Hulk, Star Trek, and tons of others. He knows what he’s talking about.)

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Should You Self-Publish Your Novel?

Ginormous Library

If you squint really hard, you can almost see my books … Oh wait, no, that’s James Patterson.

Which is better, self-publishing or a traditional publishing deal?

If you’re a hands-on, DIY type of person with an entrepreneurial mindset, then you might be better suited to self-publishing. If you’d rather focus on the writing and not deal with the rest of it, you might prefer traditional publishing.

I’ve done both. Here’s the truth: there are benefits and drawbacks to both self-publishing and traditional publishing.

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How I Make a Living as a Writer (And You Can Too)

Make a living writing

Copywriting for fun and profit. Don’t knock it ’til you try it.

I’m proud to say I’ve built a full-time career around writing, as both a novelist and a copywriter.

That means splitting my time between the two. Usually I spend the morning writing novels, then spend the afternoon writing marketing and advertising copy for business clients.

(“Copy” is just fancy ad agency shorthand for “words that sell stuff.”)

I’m not alone. There have been innumerable examples of copywriters who also successfully wrote fiction. James Patterson, Salman Rushdie, Joseph Heller, and Dorothy Sayers, to name a few.

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How to Plan and Write A Novel

non-English typewriter

Think Microsoft Word is a pain to use? Try cranking out 100K on this sucker.

I’m often asked what my writing process looks like.

How do I write a book? It’s pretty simple, actually.

(Not easy. But simple.)

First, I start with the basics:

  • Who are the good guys?
  • What are they trying to do?
  • And, especially, why?
  • Who are the bad guys?
  • Where does this take place?

Then I boil all of that down into a strong core idea. For example: a bookish crystal shop owner has to save the world from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – who drive possessed muscle cars.

The idea has to work at the core level, it has to really grab me, before I start writing it. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Then I figure out how to make the whole book work, beginning to end, in a short synopsis. Maybe one page. That takes time. And even once I have that figured out, I don’t start writing it yet.

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The Bulletproof Secret to Doing Anything Better

Thumbs Up

Try. Measure. Improve. Then repeat as needed.

Every writer I’ve ever talked to always wants to achieve more.

(Even Hugh Howey.)

We all want to reach more readers, sell more books, write better stories, and so on.

All of us, writers or not, want to do more and do it better. The question is, how?

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How to Turn a Short Story into a Book Series

Lightbulb Moment

DING! (That’s my lightbulb-moment sound effect.)

Believe it or not, IT HAPPENED ONE DOOMSDAY started out as a short story.

I was struggling with another novel, so I switched gears and wrote a fun little story about this awkward wannabe sorceress who ends up breaking the evil curse on a bad-boy hero with a muscle car.

It was half scary, half funny, and people seemed to really get a kick out of it. They kept asking me what happens next.

And I had to say, “There is no next. This is it.”

But then something funny happened.

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