Announcement: Two Titles in BundleRabbit

Hi Folks,

This will be of interest if you enjoy my fiction, or if you haven’t read any of it yet and would like to try it.

Beginning on Sunday, May 1, I will have novels in two separate bundles.

If you aren’t familiar with bundles, it works like this: You pretty much pay what you want. 🙂 It’s a great deal, and it’s a good way to discover new favorite authors.

The Science Fiction May Day Bundle features work by yours truly as well as works by nine other authors. This bundle ends on May 13.

For that bundle, if you pay at least $5, you get the first five books in the bundle, including my SF novel, The Advent of Simon Stark. If you pay at least $9, you get all ten books in the bundle.

The Chills, Thrills and Spills Bundle includes one novel by me as well as one by USA Today best-selling author Dean Wesley Smith and ten other authors. This bundle ends on May 20.

For that bundle, if you pay at least $5, you get the first six books in the bundle, including my Confessions of a Professional Psychopath. If you pay at least $12, you get all twelve books in the bundle.

That’s it for this time. Thanks for listening, and happy reading and writing!

Harvey

Good Stuff for Writers

Hey Folks,

I almost forgot to post something for today. This probably will be brief.

First, my apologies for allowing two short stories to post yesterday. On the home page of my website at HarveyStanbrough.com you can scroll down to see both of them below this post. Or you can click the Free Short Story tab and see both of them there.

I’m finally on the verge of writing again after a very long (for me) layoff of two weeks. I’ll try to pay attention to this blog. I enjoy sharing with you guys what knowledge I’ve been able to glean.

But my main effort with writing will be in fiction and in posting to my Daily Journal over at HEStanbrough.com. I often post writing tidbits over there, and almost every day I post links to other pointed sources of information. Come join me at HEStanbrough.com. The next post will go out at about 6 p.m. tonight.

Here are a couple of items of interest you’ll find over there in today’s post:

BookExpo America (BEA) Embraces Self-Publishing

Blaming the Reader (for no sales)—This includes a list of reasons your books don’t sell even a few copies. It was so good I copied/pasted it into a Word document, mostly so I could share it with others in the future.

Of course, not everyone will be interested. (You can read about those folks in the “Blaming the Reader” piece above.)

Recently I received an adamant note from a woman who said she would “never” publish her work as ebooks because she “hates” ebooks.

When I finished laughing, I told her maybe she was confusing her desires as a reader for her business practices as a writer. (Yes, I own this flooring store, but I HATE laminate so I’ll never make it available to others.)

I’ve also had people tell me (again, adamantly—why are they always so angry?) that they will “never” attempt to follow Heinlein’s Rules because they don’t write science fiction.

Sigh. Really? Anyone who reads them can tell they aren’t only about SF. They’re simply a set of business habits for people who want to be successful professional writers.

But sure. Crossing your arms and steadfastly refusing to read anything at all that might help improve your craft is a good tactic too. I guess.

Of course, despite the fact they’re simple, Heinlein’s Rules are also extremely difficult to follow. In fact, I have failed on Rules 1 and 2 for the past two weeks, as I alluded to earlier. And I pride myself on being a Heinlein’s Rules adherent.

So I’m gonna start adhering again now. Oh, and here’s an annotated copy of Heinlein’s Rules. You know, just in case you think learning from someone like Robert A. Heinlein might actually be wise.

‘Til next time, happy writing.

Harvey

Creating a Reverse Outline

Hi Folks,

In the interest of full disclosure, I first posted this as a blog entry on April 2 in my Daily Journal at HEStanbrough.com.

To continue the discloure, this is a technique I learned from Dean Wesley Smith. I find his openness and instruction (inadvertent and otherwise) pretty much invaluable.

But to the topic at hand.

Anyone who knows me or has talked writing with me for more than five minutes knows I don’t outline. If I’m going to take the time to outline, I might as well just write the story. If I wrote an outline, I would already know where the story’s going, what’s going to happen, etc. So then why bother writing it?

If I wrote an outline and then followed it, I, not the characters, would be telling the story.

I would be “directing” everything. I would be the almighty, all-powerful writer on high. Ugh. I don’t even begin to want that job. I much prefer to go in blind and just write off into the dark.

I much prefer to allow the CHARACTERS to tell the story. After all, they’re the ones who are living it. I’m just their recorder.

I don’t wanna lie back on a cloud, occasionally checking to make sure all the people I created are doing and saying what I tell them.

I wanna be down in the trenches, running through the story WITH the characters, and entertaining the snot out of myself. Or rather, allowing them to entertain me, just as they will entertain the reader.

However, I DO create what I call a “reverse outline” as I write. When I finish a section, a major scene or (in my current WIP) a chapter, I take a moment to make a few notes on a Notepad document. This consists of only a few sentences per chapter.

Now as I recall, Dean keeps a legal pad next to his computer and makes notes longhand. For me, typing it into a Notepad document is easier than writing longhand.

In my reverse outline, I list the chapter number on the left. Then I add significant items such as

  • which characters were in the scene and how they were dressed,
  • any major events that occurred in the scene, with appropriate details,
  • any major descriptions in the scene, and so on.

That way when my characters surprise me with something and I need to cycle back to add a bit of description or a foreshadowing or something, I refer to the list.

This is a TON easier than scrolling endlessly as you look for a name or a word or a phrase or what color shirt a character was wearing. It’s also a lot easier than even having to use the Find function to search the document.

Anyway, in my current WIP, at well over 63,000 words in and thinking I was finished, I decided to hold off publishing. My subconscious (that little voice) told me there was more to the story.

Okay, fine. But for some reason I didn’t create a reverse outline as I wrote this novel. And of course, when I realized I was going to have to splice in some new scenes, I wished I had.

So I took almost three hours of what should have been writing time to go back through the entire novel. Not reading it, but just going from one chapter to the next and making a few notes about what happened, who appeared, significant descriptions, etc.

And that led me to want to pass along this really useful technique. In fact, if you write off into the dark, this technique is invaluable. And if you don’t, if you’re still outlining, well, as they say in Texas, “Bless your heart.”

Try it. You’ll like it. (grin)

Harvey

I am a professional writer. This is my living. If you enjoy or learn from my work, click the Subscribe to My Work tab above. (It isn’t the same as subscribing to this blog.) Or as an alternative, consider dropping a tip into my Tip Jar on your way out. If you’ve already contributed, thanks so much.

If you can’t make a monetary donation, please consider forwarding this post to a friend or several. (grin) Again, thank you.

Interim, Interim Post

Hi Folks,

If you’re a reader, I have some great news for you. If you’re a writer, I have some even greater news.

There’s a new book bundling service called BundleRabbit. If you aren’t familiar with book bundles, let me explain.

If you’re a reader, you can sign up to receive their newsletter. Each time a new book bundle is ready, they’ll send you an email. Then you read the email and, if you’re interested, go look at the bundle.

In the current bundle, for example, you can purchase 5 books by five big authors for a payment of $5. Or you can “unlock” a second tier for a minimum payment of $12. In that case you receive 12 books plus a coupon for two more free books from Kobo Books.

Now for the really exciting news for authors. If you go to BundleRabbit, scroll way down and click the For Authors link, you’ll find an incredible opportunity.

You can sign up for an author account (I did) and upload your own books. Go look. This is not exclusive to novels.

This is another way of getting your work out to readers, folks. It costs you nothing but a litte time, and it pays you if your books are selected by a curator, included in a bundle, and sold.

And if you think it can’t happen to you, then you really need to get a handle on that. Why is it when writers think their work is good, they automatically think “But a writer is the worst judge of his own work,” but when they think their work is bad, somehow that rule no longer applies? Seriously.

This is an incredible discovery tool. If a curator selects one of your works for a bundle, all the readers who normally by works by the other authors are now your readers too.

And you don’t have to wait for an invitation from a curator. You can upload your books to make them available. Then you can let the books wait for the curator to find them while you’re writing more books. (grin)

UPDATE: At 10:12 this morning (as I write this) one of my novels was requested for inclusion in an upcoming bundle. How cool is that? (grin) Sure glad I uploaded my novels instead of waiting a day or two.

Since this post is primarily to pass along good information, I also strongly recommend you read The Blog That Destroyed An Art Form. (grin) And the comments. Read the comments. Seriously.

Finally, I found a free copy of The Fiction Factory by John Milton Edwards. I also strongly recommend you read it. Excellent book on craft that mimics what most long-term professional writers say. This is a scanned-in copy of the original.

If you want to see what’s possible from writers who follow Heinlein’s Rules, I recommend you read Dean Wesley Smith’s blog (link above) or, in the alternative, sign up for my Daily Journal. I usually keep up with what Dean’s doing anyway. (grin)

Up next, a post on how and why to create a reverse outline.

‘Til then, keep writing.

Harvey

Interim Post

Hi Folks,

Well, I just posted a complete how-to book—in chapters and appendices—free on this site over the past several weeks. If you haven’t read it and you would like to, you can click Writing the Character-Driven Story to find the links to every chapter.

I’ll be taking it down soon, so if you haven’t read it and you’d like to, please do so soon. If you would rather buy your own copy, you can find it at Smashwords, Amazon and all other major ebook retailers. The cost is $9.99. Sorry. It isn’t available yet in print.

Finally, you can always also order your own copy (Kindle, Nook/Apple or PDF) directly from me for only $8.50 by emailing me at HarveyStanbrough@gmail.com.

One person posted on Facebook that she “love’s Bradbury’s rules for writers but Stanbrough’s rules are just common sense.” (grin) I was kind of flattered.

Forgetting for a moment that what’s common to some obviously is a luxury to others, NOWHERE in Writing the Character-Driven Story did I post anything remotely resembling Stanbrough’s Rules. To my knowledge, they don’t exist.

I can only imagine she meant the rules that I annotated (Heinlein’s Rules). You can get a free copy by visiting the Free Downloads page on my website. Then scroll down and click Heinlein’s Rules.

Anyway, if that’s what she meant, yes, she’s absolutely right. They are common sense, or should be for writers. Unfortunately, most aspiring writers never learn or follow them.

In fact, Heinlein first posted his “business habits” almost as an afterthought to an obscure essay. He himself said they were extremely simple; yet they are also “amazingly hard to follow—which is why there are so few professional writers and so many aspirants, and which is why I am not afraid to give away the racket.”

If you would like to read his essay first hand, you can find it in Of Worlds Beyond, ed. Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, 1947. The title of the essay is misleading: “On the Writing of Speculative Fiction.” Anyone with the aforementioned common sense can read his business habits and tell that they would apply to all writing, speculative or otherwise.

But I digress.

This interim post and probably the next two or three are to give me time to develop the next nonfiction book I’m going to post here.

As before, I’ll post it a chapter at a time. As before, you will be able to read it free of charge and even download it and save it to a file on your own computer. You may even print it if you wish. Please just remember it is copyrighted material and respect my copyright.

Until I begin posting the next nonfiction book, this blog will go back to appearing every ten days, albeit on the sixes instead of the ones. This one will post on 6 April. The next two will post on the 16th and the 26th. I might keep to that schedule in the future.

If you’d like to really see what it’s like to follow Heinlein’s Rules, I recommend you sign up for my other blog, my secret blog, the one to which I post daily, over at The Daily Journal (HEStanbrough.com). I think you won’t be sorry.

The next post on this blog (on the 16th) actually is derived from a recent post on the other one.

Whatever you choose to do, happy writing.

Harvey

I am a professional writer. This is my living. If you enjoy or learn from my work, click the Subscribe to My Work tab above. (It isn’t the same as subscribing to this blog.) As an alternative, consider dropping a tip into my Tip Jar on your way out. If you’ve already contributed, thanks so much.

If you can’t make a monetary donation, please consider forwarding this post to a friend or several. (grin) Again, thank you.