Deep down I think we all seek some type of validation. It could be with a loved one, in our careers, and in our friendship. It can also be with parking. We all need it. I have a confession though, I self doubt a lot. That is to say that I am constantly needing validation that my choices are the right ones. This is true of my writing career as well.
But I think writers are a group that need a special type of validation. There are a lot of people out there that want to be writers. There are even a lot of people out there who say they are writers and really don’t know what they mean when they say that. But deep down we writers want to be validated as authors. Unfortunately validation doesn’t always come.
So at what point are you valid in claiming you are an author. Well, that is a bar that we set for ourselves. Some set the bar really high, claiming they can only be an author when they get that first professional sale. Some claim that they can be called an author simply because they say they are.
But what really validates the claim to that title of author? Well for me it is the recognition of my peers, my readers, and friends.
Last year I felt really good when I took 2nd place in the science fiction and fantasy short story category of the 2011 Preditors and Editors readers poll for “Death Watch”. I felt even better at all the nice comments I received. I even felt validated as a short story author. The sale of my first two short stories in a matter of months helped a lot, but being recognized in that poll was special to me.
But what I really wanted to do was sell novels. So in 2012, I didn’t work on many short story projects. I put my work towards publishing my first novel, and I did it. My goal was to get a lot of new readers, and I did that. My goal was to get a lot of reviews and praise, but that has not really happened. I’ve had 8 reviews on Amazon US and 2 on UK. Don’t get me wrong, I am very pleased with those reviews. But one of my roll models, the person that inspired me to get Dissolution of Peace out, seemed to get a lot of reviews very quickly. Even a lot of editorial reviews (of which I’ve only had two). It is my opinion that he made a big splash in the Horror scene, while I seem to have made only a slight ripple (like a pebble dropped into the ocean) in the Sci-Fi scene.
So, I started to question the validity of my claim to be a novelist. Some of my role models in the independent scene, including the person above, have not even shared (to my knowledge) the work I have done. I think perhaps I expected too much from those I thought would return the favor. But the point is that I began to question if I was any good at what I was setting out to do. This is that self doubt I was talking about.
The problem not feeling validated, is that you tend to slump. And I did a significant slump. But then the readers poll came around again. I was nominated for best Science Fiction and Fantasy novel. There were also 85 other novels nominated. In the end I took another top ten finish, coming in 5th for the 2012 poll.
There were some great comments in there too. I take great pride in how much people love my work and my characters. I was ecstatic to see some of these things, they mean a lot to me.
I think the important thing that this post should point out. If you are a reader, like I am, you need to set out to review ALL the books you read but especially the ones you enjoyed. You need to make sure to share that with everyone. Because if you want to see writers continue to write, they need to feel validated. And for many of us, your reviews, purchases, and kind comments validates our purpose. I think this is more important than a professional sale, and or even a large book deal, though those all help. After all, it isn’t about who publishes what we write, but about who enjoys what we write.
So to those who continue to buy my books, vote for my books, comment on my books, review my books, and share my stories: I thank you. You fuel my my writing career and make it that much more likely that I will someday reach all my writing goals.
As for the parking, I think I will just pay for it. That is a validation that can be impossible to get.
Today is Cyber Monday. That means that you are likely out looking for good deals on various gifts for others, and maybe even yourself.
What is a better deal then free?
For today only Dissolution of Peace will be free on your Kindle! You can pick up your free copy here: LINK
A lot has gone on since I wrote my January Updates in the first part of January. There are new announcements and progress reports to share. Let’s get started, shall we.
On February 5th, I finished the first draft of my still untitled novel. It game is at just over 67,000 words and only took forty seven days start to finish. As I mentioned before, I didn’t write everyday. Life gets in the way sometimes. So, it took 21 days of writing. I am pleased to be finished, but now the real work starts. There are many other steps ahead and I will probably start the self editing in March.
I did write a January short story. I put it out for critiques and the overwhelming response is that it seems unfinished. I originally wrote it with a quick little idea, thinking a flash piece. But it seems it needs some expanding. The problem is, I am not sure where I will go from here. We will see.
Daddy is Tired, the children’s picture book, is still waiting on the illustrator. So, unfortunately there is no cover art to show you yet. I also don’t think a March release will happen either. The lead time from the publisher is lengthy. So, perhaps April. The illustrator has told me she will be staying up late tomorrow and hopes to finish then. Official release dates will be announced as soon as I have them.
I’ve done a lot of reading since I finished Shining in Crimson by Robert S. Wilson. I read Shadows in Flight by Orson Scott Card and The NanoTech Murders by Lee Gimenez (review here). Right now I am reading I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. I know it is amazing that I have not read this book yet, not sure why I never got to it but I am reading it now. Once I finish that, I will have to head back to the book store.
I’m planning a move any day now. I plan to move back to Vacaville, my hometown here in California. I’m living just up the road in a neighboring city right now. We moved here for cheaper rent, but we miss home (even with it being so close) and we hope to move before March 1st. But, that may not be possible. It all depends on if we hear back from the applications we have put in.
Well, that’s the updates for February. We’ll have to touch base on these again in March. Hopefully then I will have release dates and other fun stuff to share.
Well, in my post “Distractions” I talked about setting a writing goal. Part of that commitment to writing more was to share the journey with you. So, once a month, I am going to give you some updates on how my writing has gone. I’ll also touch on some of the other projects I have going.
First lets talk about writing. I made a commitment that I would try to write 1,000 words a day. Honestly there have been a few days where I didn’t write at all (six days actually). But considering we had the Holidays in that time, I am okay with that. However, there were a lot of days were I wrote a lot. I even had some great days, this past Friday I almost got 10,000 words. On the days I wrote I averaged over 2,000 words. I’ve been posting my daily word counts on Twitter (when I write). I have written just over 38,000 words.
None of this counts the writing I do here. While I love getting the blog to your guys. I even had a very successful post on self-publishing. But, this word count has gone directly into my novel. You may remember I have set a goal of one short story a month and one novel a year. I haven’t thought of a short story for January yet, so I may be a little behind on that. But, the novel is coming along well.
I have a children’s book my oldest son (he was five when we wrote it, six now) and I wrote together. The status on it’s publication is still a bit in limbo. I have an illustrator working on the drawings. The backgrounds are all done, and the characters have slowly been put in the scenes. But, the next part is all the coloring. She just had a baby, so of course that slows things down. Fingers crossed for a March release, but I haven’t set any dates yet. It is the hope that by the time I do the Updates for February I can show you the cover art and announce an official release date.
I think those of you with kids will enjoy it, and likely relate with it. It also embodies the joy of working on a project with your own child and sharing in an art you both can enjoy. In any case, “Daddy is Tired” will be a joy to read for parents and young children learning to read.
I still have two short storied for 2011 out at different markets. They will make their rounds until they are published. I will of course announce that right away on both Twitter and Facebook. Once I start turning out short stories monthly, I will be really glad to Duotrope to help track where they all are.
As far as my reading goes, it has been put on hold with the holidays. I am currently reading the novel Shining in Crimson. As some of you know I read this when it was still a draft to help Robert S. Wilson with my thoughts on the novel. I am excited about reading the completed work, and have found he left in all the good parts (so far). I don’t have a novel on this list for once I am done reading this one. So, a trip to the book store may be in my future. Shadows in Flight by Orson Scott Card is set to release in a few days, that will certainly be on my list. You can always follow what I am reading by becoming a fan on Goodreads.
I still get my daily dose of short fiction from Daily Science Fiction. But, I am way behind on my issues of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine. I haven’t even opened the Nov/Dec issue and the Jan/Feb should be coming any day. Perhaps I will take a break from novels and catch up on those. We will see.
My short story “Death Watch” has been nominated for two awards in 2011. I am very please with this. First, of all this is my very first published short story. It was only the second one I had ever written and the first one considered Flash Fiction (under 1,000 words). You can still read it at Liquid Imagination by clicking here.
The first nomination it got was for the Micro Awards. The announcement on that won’t come until the very end of February. It will be judged by a panel of judges and we will see how it does.
The second nomination came as a complete surprise. It was nominated in the Preditors and Editors 2011 Readers poll. There are a lot of good works there. I was reading and voting through the categories when I got to Science Fiction and Fantasy short stories. And there was “Death Watch” listed. I about jumped out of my seat. I was honored to find that I was even nominated.
Because it is a poll, it is done based on voting. I am even more pleased to announce it has been in first and second place for a good portion of the polling. Polling ends January 10th. Please, go place a vote here. It only takes a minute and I would appreciate it.
I think the last thing I will bring up isn’t directly related to writing. I used to own a business, and I am dying to get back into owning one again. I have been contemplating many different things, but another Security Company is not one of them. I have been in the industry for a while, but the big companies really have locked the start ups out of the business. Perhaps if I had clients set before I got started, I might consider it.
So that is the updates for you this month. I will continue to post my weekly blog posts on a variety of topics. Please subscribe to my blog to receive email updates on when I post.
Today Shining in Crimson (Empire of Blood) by Robert S. Wilson was released in the Kindle Version with the Paperback and Hardcover editions set to be released October 2nd. You can check out his website to see more about it, or visit Amazon to buy eReader version. Also you can follow Shining in Crimson on Facebook.
Now that you can look up what I am talking about, I thought I would explain why I mention this particular book release. Robert and I are both members of the Hatrack Writers Workshop (or Hatrackers). In early February I came across a post in our Fragments and Feedback section in which I read an intro to a Vampire book.
Typically this is not my genre and I tend to steer away from it. I don’t remember why I chose to read this, but I am glad I did. I was hooked by the style of this small opening fragment. I offered to review the whole thing. I had not read a critiqued a novel before, but if I can help I figured I would try it.
I spent the rest of the month reading over three chapter blocks. I offered my advice but truthfully I fell for Robert’s characters, their struggles, and the overall plot. And I continued to push him to send me more chapters, while he continued to try to get them edited. And, like most stories I truly love deep down, I was a little sad when it was over. From the time I read that draft to now, I would say that I gained a friend in Robert.
It was a really good book, and I generally don’t care for Vampire stories. Perhaps it is my limited knowledge of the genre. Perhaps it is the way Twilight has transformed the mainstream vampire story. I don’t know why I don’t care for the genre. However, Robert changed my mind. Or at least opened my mind a little.
This is not the Vampire story where the vampires are hunky men, and you have to join Team Mark or Team Sam. This is about Hank, the Main Character who finds himself charged with a crime and sentenced to visit Necropolis, a city belonging to the Vampires now. This is a sure death sentence, but Hank is desperate to survive for the sake of his son.
There are several plot threads to this story giving it depth and forward motion. I found myself turning pages with ease as I hoped for the success of the various characters. I’ll stop here. It’s time for you to pick up your Kindle and read Shining in Crimson.
I have chosen to pre-order the paperback version which will ship on October 2nd in honor of Robert’s mother’s birthday (who passed away in 2006). If you wish to pre-order a paperback or hardback edition you can do it here. If you are on Goodreads you can enter to win a copy here.
At the very least, pick up the Kindle Version for only 99 cents. It will be the best dollar you ever spent.
On August 31, 2011, I officially became a published Author with my Flash Fiction piece “Death Watch” in Liquid Imagination. This was a remarkable thing and such an unbelievable accomplishment. I had not planned to reach the goal of being published so quickly. After all, I had not started submitting anything for publication until March 2011. “Death Watch” is only the second short story I have written, and the first Flash Fiction piece. So frankly, I was over joyed to have it published so quickly.
Okay, enough bragging. Lets talk about why being published is so much joy. Truthfully I thought seeing my name in print would be the coolest part. That seems to just one of many cool things I have found. But first, lets talk about money:
The pay check is not the satisfying part at all. In fact, I was surprised how little I care about it. If you write for money you will be sadly disappointed. At SFWA defined pro rates, you would have to publish eight hundred and forty thousand (840,000) words a year in short stories to make just $50,000. And out here in California, $50,000 year doesn’t go far.
To put that in perspective, that is 2300 words a day with no days off. Now editing, and submitting come into play. Editing takes a lot more time than writing ever does. And lets not forget that some of the most simple of editing changes can cause massive rewrites. Submitting takes even longer. You can usually only submit to one market at a time, and then you are at the mercy of the publication to respond. Some publications take a long time, others are really fast (usually to reject it). From the time I finished “Death Watch” to the date it was published was just over five months, and I am the exception. Many of my fellow authors have waited years to get one story published.
So, assuming you can get 2300 words a day written, and you can get accepted by pro-rate markets, and they accept you fast; then you will make okay money in the writing of short stories. More realistically you will try to turn out one short story a month (a goal I have not even achieved yet). Assuming your short story falls into the normal range of two to five thousand words, you are looking at roughly $1440 to $3,600 a year. This of course assumes they all get accepted at pro rate markets.
So if you are writing for money, sorry to shatter your dreams. However, if you are like most of the Authors I have met you don’t really care about the money. You find other joys in being published. Joys and satisfactions far better than money. For me, my goal was two things: To share my stories with an audience that would enjoy them, and to see “By Richard Flores IV” in print.
I am here to tell you that is just the beginning. In less than four full day since I was published, I have discovered so many other things that are fulfilling to being published:
On the day I was published this site saw a 50% spike in traffic to this blog. The unique views were the second highest they have ever been (the highest was the day I created it). And people were looking at more of my blog then the home page!
WordPress reports that one of the common search terms to get to this blog is “Richard Flores IV”. People are searching for me! People want to find me!
WordPress also reported today that some one searched “Flash Fiction by Richard Flores”. So not only was someone searching for me, they wanted to find more of my work! To that person (and others looking): I have another story due out in October in Cygnus Journal of Speculative Fiction. I find it very inspiring to see that people enjoyed my work enough to want to find other things I have written. That alone could keep me writing indefinitely.
Feedback! I am getting an overwhelming amount of feedback on people’s thoughts about “Death Watch”. People are sending me their praise, and I enjoy that a great deal. I like to know that people enjoyed reading my story. But even more so, I like the emails coming in telling me what they took away from my story. People have sent me a number of interpretations that I had not planned when I wrote it. It gives me satisfaction to know I wrote something that had a deeper meaning to my readers then even I planned.
Inspiring others to write. Two people have told me that my talks about writing have inspired them to either write or resume writing. That makes me feel good!
Perhaps the best part of being published is this (and it ties in all of the above): I have readers! After all, the real reason any of us become authors is to have readers.
Today Liquid Imagination published Issue 10 of their online magazine. They are a remarkable publication that merges artwork with stories. I am really glad that my first published work is with them. I hope you all enjoy it as well.
Please read Death Watch in the Micro Fiction section. I am proud of this piece as it is the first ever Flash Fiction piece I have ever written. Flash Fiction is fiction under 1000 words, and it can be incredibly hard to write a fulfilling story in such a short length. I originally wanted to try it much later, but when this idea hit me it felt right at its current length.
Read Death Watch here: Then enjoy some of the other great works in the current issue. Please share the story with your friends and family and feel free to let me know what you thought. Also, feel free to let Liquid Imagination know by visiting their Facebook Page.
Thanks for reading.