Category Archives: Daily Life

I don’t need your story ideas

The moment someone finds out I’m a writer, they almost always say, “Have I got a story for you!”

As if I don’t have enough story ideas of my own to keep me writing from now until the end of time. If I’m struggling to work on one of them, I sure as hell don’t need to write someone else’s story to help me break through writer’s block.

Then there are the people who think their idea is SO DAMN GREAT!!!! that they just KNOW you’re going to fawn all over it the moment they reveal it to you. They’re sure it’ll earn a TON of money, even though I’ve been in this business long enough to know what people expect writers to earn is miles (make that lightyears) away from what we really make.

So no, I’m not interested in writing your book for you. Or even really listening to your idea, because I have too many of my own to write.

First of all (you know the shit’s about to hit when that phrase pops up), what you’re looking for is called a ghostwriter, and that pays big bucks. Which means you need to be able to shell out enough money to make it worth my while to write your story before you earn anything. And there’s no guarantee you’re going to make any (or all) of that back.

Here’s a true story: last year my CPA tried to get me to ghostwrite a nonfiction book about postage stamps (yes, for real — who would read it?). He claimed I could earn $10k or more from it, though I’m not sure how he arrived at that figure. I can’t imagine a nonfiction book about stamps bringing in anywhere near that much once it’s on sale. I guess he thought the “real” author would pay me out of an advance, but are there actually publishers clamoring for stamp stories? I just can’t see it.

Or maybe you’re looking for a book doctor, someone who will take your finished manuscript and “doctor” it into something readable. Note I say “finished” — book doctors work with something you’ve already written. It’s like an intense edit that will take a rough story and polish it into a diamond. Again, you have to pay upfront for this work, because no one works for free. And I’m still not writing your story.

Maybe the next time someone tries to sell me on writing something for them, I’ll bring up the notebook I keep on my bedside table that’s full of ideas I’ve jotted down over the years. Once all those stories are written — and after I’m done working on all the other ideas I’ll get during the time I’m working on the first lot — I’ll probably still not be interested in working on your story.

If you’re dead set on getting your story out there and don’t want to tackle it yourself, or if you’ve written a draft and need someone to go over it to “make it good,” I recommend taking a look at Fiverr. I’m sure there you’ll find ghostwriters and book doctors aplenty eager to take on your story, but I’m not one of them.

Oh look, a blog!

So apparently I’ve been pretty slack this year. I haven’t blogged at all (not even to promote my books). And I haven’t managed to write much of anything, to be honest. I’ve been busy — at one point, I had 4 jobs — but that’s no excuse. I have too many WIPs to allow myself to start anything new. I need to finish something, you know?

I’m not going to make any half-hearted promises to update my websites, or to blog often, or to release a new e-book a month. I do have a friend who’s in the same boat, so we’ve challenged each other to write at least 500 words a day. It helps me out because he lives in the UK, so when his day is over, I still have several hours left of mine. Which means when he emails to tell me how many words he wrote, then I feel like I have to write, as well, or he’ll get ahead of me.

It might sound a bit weird, but in the past two days, I managed another 900 words, so at least there’s that.

So I’m not going to make any resolutions to write more. I’m just going to sit in front of a blank page (or a blank blog post) every day or so until words appear where none were before. This should be fun.

The Best Books I Read in 2015

I did this last year, and don’t know if anyone cared or not, but eh, I enjoyed it so I thought I’d do it again. Here are my five favorite books I read last year. As I’m a writer myself, my readers often ask me what my favorite books are, and I think they’re disappointed when my personal reading choices don’t mirror what I write. Consider yourself warned.

NOTE: they weren’t necessarily published in 2015; I just read them then. They’re listed in the order I read them.

The Best Books I Read in 2015:

The Death Class by Erika Hayasaki

On the surface, this nonfiction book is a look at a popular college course on death and the charismatic professor who teaches it. But the book is so much more than that. It’s a human interest story about students struggling to deal with mental health issues and learning to find their own ways in life and coping with the hassles of growing up and coming of age. It’s about an extraordinary professor who teaches dignity in dying and, as such, helps her students embrace the fleeting essence of their lives. I highly recommend this to everyone, everywhere. One of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

Finders Keepers by Stephen King

The second Bill Hodges book (though you don’t have to read the first to enjoy this one). This is definitely up there with my favorite King novels. I couldn’t put this one down! The fact that it involved a writer and a lost manuscript only added to my enjoyment of the story. If you’re a fan of Mr. King, definitely check out this series. I can’t wait for book 3!

Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County by Kristen Green

Set in my own backyard, practically, this opened my eyes to things I hadn’t known existed, literally. I naively thought Brown v. Board of Education “fixed” segregation overnight. Boy, was I wrong. Though this was a bit heavy-handed at times, it was a real eye-opener, and enlightened reading in today’s troubled times.

The Martian by Andy Weir

I was late to the party and just read this book this year. Of everything else I read, this was seriously the number one best book, bar none. I seriously could not put it down — and as I read the Kindle version, I couldn’t flip to the end to see how it all played out (which I tend to do when things get hairy!) so I was up until two in the morning just so I could finish it. I thought I’d read it before seeing the movie, then ended up not seeing the film because I didn’t want to spoil the book, it was that good. I might catch it on DVD at some point, but GOD! This book! If you haven’t read it, go read it NOW!

Horns by Joe Hill

If nothing else, 2015 was the year I discovered Joe Hill. Oh, I knew he was Stephen King’s son, and I had NOS4A2 on my Kindle for ages, but I hadn’t read anything by him until this past August. Then I couldn’t STOP reading him! Everything he writes is magic, same as his father — the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree in this case (thank God). Of all his novels to date, though, Horns is definitely my favorite. It unravels slowly, like an intricate puzzle, and as the pieces begin to fit into place, I found myself reading faster and faster just to be able to see the bigger picture. I loved loved LOVED this story. I’ll definitely read it again in the years to come.