!!PUBLICATION DAY!! The Jackal’s House

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A new book from Anna, the amazing writing goddess!

Anna Butler

PUBLISHED TODAY!

I’m over the moon about this book and so delighted that publication day has arrived at last. I’ve learned so much about writing since the very first of the Lancaster’s Luck books two and a half years ago, and I genuinely believe this is the best one I’ve done. It’s a romantic adventure. Or an adventurous romance? Anyhow, there are aeroships and deserts, whirling Dervishes and jackals, archaeologists and assassins, villains and lovers, love and hate.

I do hope you grow to love this as much as I do!

JUMP TO:

Buy Links

About The Jackal’s House, and an excerpt

Launch Blog Tour and Chances to Enter Giveaway

Winners of Pre-Order Prize Draw

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Buy Links

Dreamspinner Press ebook  |  Dreamspinner Press paperback

Universal link to other digital stores (not DSP)

Individual Store Links:

Amazon.com  |  Amazon.co.uk  |  Apple iBooks  |  B&N …

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The Agony of dForce

3D

(For anyone who’s not immediately up on obscure references: check out the beginning of the Wide World of Sports from the ’70s. The title is a variation of “the agony of defeat.”)

Okay. So, a couple days ago, Daz Studio released the new version (4.10 if you’re interested). It includes a new feature, the dForce engine, which allows actual dynamic cloth right there inside Studio, without having to buy anything extra. And everyone’s been playing with it and posting their results, which has had me extra-bouncy and excited, waiting for the weekend. Aka today.

A little note here: I have terrible bad luck with dynamic fabric. Like, I don’t know if I’m terminally stupid or what, but I can almost never get the stuff to work right. So I started out with pretty low expectations.

And oh boy, did I ever meet them!

First, I set up a scene. Then I ran out of time, saved it for later, and went to work. That sucked.

Fast forward a bit to today. I forgot about my original scene and set up a new one. I made sure there wasn’t a bit of poke-through anywhere to be found. I made pretty hair, nice lights, good skin, the whole nine yards. See? This is what it all looked like before I pooched it.

1

Okay, doing good so far. I used that particular hair because a friend of mine from deviantArt said dForce works better on older hair models without loads of strands. Fine. No problem. I’ve always liked the Radiant Jaguar hair, it’s pretty.

So… add the dForce modifier. (Actually, spend a freakin’ long time looking for the damn thing, because as you can clearly see from the screenshot, my Studio looks different from anyone else’s on the entire planet. Found it, though. And if you’re looking for it too, right click the Simulation Settings tab.) Blithely assume it will work. Click “Simulate”.

And… freak out!

1.5

I forgot simulations start from the default pose. *blush* Oops. Thought I’d already screwed something up.

Which, of course, I did.

2

Yeah, that looks like shit. Right. On to the next thing. I’ll fix the hair later, time for the dress.

CRASH!

Yeah. Blew up my computer. Daz Studio and Photoshop both went kablooey.

Okay, fine, I don’t expect this dForce thing to work with every piece of clothing out there. So I pull up the other file, the one I started immediately after upgrading my Studio.

3

Crap. Forgot to give her a lantern. I get the scene all fixed up and ready to go, although I didn’t bother with any fancy materials or lighting. I add modifiers, make sure the dress will ignore the lantern, hit Simulate, and…

Not a crash, but still swear-worthy. Studio suddenly can’t locate any OpenCL device on my computer. I have one. I have a very nice one, in fact. But apparently it’s gone invisible.

Crap, crap, crap.

So I do the usual stuff. Restart, blah blah blah. I even updated my graphics driver. Why the hell not, never hurts, especially when you’re doing crazy 3D stuff.

Crash, crash, crashity crash crash!

Fine. You want to be a piece of crashing shit? I’ll fix you!

New scene. G8F, the clothes they sent out specifically for the dForce update. Boring. Mundane.

4

Hey, look at that, it’s doing it! Wow! It’s working! Even past the point where it crashed before.

5

Success! Too bad it’s a freakin’ boring, mundane, utterly uninteresting image. Bleah.

But I got it to work. So… back to the cool stuff.

6

Much more interesting outfit. And look at that, no crash yet!

7

I can see her butt.

CRASH!

Aw, hell. Here we go again. Finnegan, begin agin.

8

By the way, this is what the scene looks like before the sim runs.

And…

9

This is what it looks like after the sim runs. *sigh*

I guess I really need to spend some time with this thing, figure out what exactly is making it blow up. But for now, no more. I’m in the middle of an Elder Scrolls experiment, and must go play Skyrim.

If you’re curious, the experiment is this: Can I determine which game is better, Oblivion or Skyrim? To test whether this question is answerable, I started new characters in both games. So far I’ve completed the main quest in each, built a nice home in each, and am about to embark on the mage guild/college quests. And guess what? I ain’t got an answer. I love ’em both!

Promo: Elizabeth Coldwell, Guest Author

Promo, Writing

Casting A Love Spell

by Elizabeth Coldwell

 

At the heart of Careful What You Wish For, my story in the Myths, Moons and Mayhem anthology, is a love spell. I don’t remember how the idea first came to me (it’s been a while since I wrote the original version of the story) but it arrived pretty much fully formed, and I knew that I had to create a convincing-sounding spell for Josh, the narrator of the story, to recite.

Josh is trying to conjure up his ideal man, and while the kind of online site offering to provide a love spell that will work immediately wouldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of those who are serious about paganism and wicca, their examples worked for my purposes. As well as the right words, Josh needs certain items to make the spell work – two red roses and a lock of his own hair, tied with red ribbon. Most importantly, he has to perform the ritual “skyclad”, or naked. This isn’t a prerequisite for all magical rituals, but when you’re writing an erotic story, it’s always good to find an excuse for your characters to strip off.

The spell I came up with for Josh is:

A perfect man I summon here
Bringing love to hold so dear
Make our brother see the light
Bring to him his Mr. Right

To his surprise, and that of his roommate Aaron, who’s suggested casting the spell, it brings his dream lover to life. Of course, something like that wouldn’t work in the real world – unless you know better…

MMM Blog Tour Graphic

Excerpt from “Careful What You Wish For” by Elizabeth Coldwell in Myths, Moons, and Mayhem

About “Careful What You Wish For”: Josh dreams of meeting Mr. Right, so his roommate offers help with a love spell. Neither man is prepared for what happens when the spell begins to work.

“Okay, now we’re going to need a lock of your hair,” Aaron said.

“Are you sure about this?” I asked, thinking back to stories I’d read about zombie curses and voodoo dolls. Didn’t you need the hair of the victim for making something like that? Suddenly everything was getting a little too serious for my liking.

“It’s just a bit of harmless fun. Nothing’s going to go wrong, I promise, Josh.”

He’d told me to trust him, and I knew I had to, if we were going to have any success at all. Aaron handed me the scissors and I snipped off a little of my dirty-blond hair, taking it from a spot close to the nape of my neck where it wouldn’t be noticed. Aaron produced a length of red ribbon and tied it round the lock of hair, then placed it in the circle, next to the roses.

“Is that it?” I said.

He shook his head. “One last thing before we start. You have to undress.”

 

About Elizabeth Coldwell

Elizabeth Coldwell is a multi-published author and the former editor of the UK edition of Forum magazine. She was the launch editor of Erotic Stories magazine and one of the co-founders of the Guild of Erotic Authors. She is now an editor at Xcite Books. Find her online at The (Really) Naughty Corner.

 

Promo: Myths, Moons, & Mayhem

Promo, Writing

Myths, Moons & Mayhem

Blog tour and giveaway, Oct 13–Oct. 31

MythsMoonsMayhem-ebookcover_opt copy

Title: Myths, Moons & Mayhem
Editor: Dale Cameron Lowry
Authors: Rebecca Buchanan, Elizabeth Coldwell, Rhidian Brenig Jones, Morgan Elektra, Greg Kosebjorn, Clare London, Dale Cameron Lowry, Carl Redlum, Rob Rosen
Publisher: Sexy Little Pages
Genres: anthology, paranormal, menage, LGBT, MMM romance, MMM erotica
Date of Publication: Oct. 13
Length: 194 pages
ISBN: 9781386972891 (ebook); 978-1977763518 (print)
ASIN: B07654NZQ2
Universal ebook Link: https://books2read.com/mythsmoons
Amazon universal link (paperback): http://getBook.at/mmm
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36368999-myths-moons-and-mayhem
More information: https://dalecameronlowry.com/books/myths-moons-mayhem/

Myths, moons, and mayhem make the perfect threesome—and so do the men in this anthology.
Enjoy nine erotic stories of paranormal ménages a trois fueled by lust and magic, where mystical forces collide with the everyday world and even monsters have their own demons to conquer.
A werewolf gets a lust-fueled lesson on fitting in with the pack, a professor unlocks ancient secrets and two men’s hearts, and a pair of supernaturals find themselves at the erotic mercy of a remarkable human. Ghosts, fairies, aliens, and mere mortals test the boundaries of their desires, creating magic of their own.
Penned by favorite authors such as Rob Rosen and Clare London, as well as by newcomers to the genre, Myths, Moons & Mayhem is an eclectic mix of paranormal lust and polymythic beings that will spark your fantasies and fuel your bonfires.

Inside Man by Clare London—At a London pub, a tear in the veil between the dead and living opens up new possibilities for a ghost who could only ever watch the men he desired, but never touch.
The Secret of the Golden Cup by Rebecca Buchanan—A classics professor finds himself at the center of a magical war. With an unfairly attractive student and a campus janitor as his only allies, can he stave off the forces of evil?
When The Big Moon Shines by Carl Redlum—A college student is intent on hunting down the man who turned him into a werewolf. But his mouthwatering neighbors keep getting in the way.
Careful What You Wish For by Elizabeth Coldwell—Josh dreams of meeting Mr. Right, so his roommate offers help with a love spell. Neither man is prepared for what happens when the spell begins to work.
The Cave by Dale Cameron Lowry—Losing sleep to the sounds of his tent-neighbors’ nightly lovemaking has nature photographer Ethan at his wit’s end. What kind of magic can convince the two men he should join them?
The Endless Knot by Morgan Elektra—The fiery romance between a vampire and a werewolf threatens to burn itself to the ground until a human teaches them to temper the flame.
Squatchin’ by Greg Kosebjorn—Two Bigfoot hunters get more than they bargained for when they set out on an overnight camping trip to trail the legendary beast.
Celyn’s Tale by Rhidian Brenig Jones—A young Welsh farmer is haunted by visions of his future lover, only to discover that the lover is not one, but two—and not exactly human, either.
Close Encounter of the Three-way Kind by Rob Rosen—In this quirky comedy, aliens arrive from another galaxy, but they’re more interested in consensual exploration than invasion. Alien probing never felt so good!

Giveaway

mmmgiveaway4

To celebrate the release of the paranormal gay ménage anthology Myths, Moons & Mayhem, Dale Cameron Lowry is giving away a bunch of paranormal and ménage ebooks for your reading pleasure. Prizes include:

  • Chance & Possibility: Seven Fantastical Tales of Gay Desire, an eclectic selection of Dale’s previously published paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi stories. Chance & Possibility isn’t available to buy anywhere.
  • Pacific Rimming, a contemporary novelette about a middle-aged gay married couple who fall in love with a younger man while vacationing on Canada’s Vancouver Island
  • Love Unmasked, the story of a gay man who’s unlucky in love because, once in a blue moon, he turns into a raccoon.

Enter to win here. (https://dalecameronlowry.com/mmm-giveaway/)

About the Editor

Dale Cameron Lowry’s number one goal in life is getting the cat to stop eating dish towels; number two is to write things that bring people joy. Dale is the author of Falling Hard: Stories of Men in Love and a contributor to more than a dozen anthologies. Find out more at dalecameronlowry.com .

Promo: The Stark Divide, by J. Scott Coatsworth

Promo

The Stark Divide

J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer sci fi book out:

Some stories are epic.

The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.

Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them. 43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her, a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.

From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.

Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.

Book One of Liminal Sky

DSP Publications (eBook) | DSP Publications (paperback) | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Smashwords | Goodreads


Excerpt

DRESSLER, SCHEMATIC, Colin McAvery, ship’s captain and a third of the crew, called out to the ship-mind.

A three-dimensional image of the ship appeared above the smooth console. Her five living arms, reaching out from her central core, were lit with a golden glow, and the mechanical bits of instrumentation shone in red. In real life, she was almost two hundred meters from tip to tip.

Between those arms stretched her solar wings, a ghostly green film like the sails of the Flying Dutchman.

“You’re a pretty thing,” he said softly. He loved these ships, their delicate beauty as they floated through the starry void.

“Thank you, Captain.” The ship-mind sounded happy with the compliment, his imagination running wild. Minds didn’t have real emotions, though they sometimes approximated them.

He cross-checked the heading to be sure they remained on course to deliver their payload, the man-sized seed that was being dragged on a tether behind the ship. Humanity’s ticket to the stars at a time when life on Earth was getting rapidly worse.

All of space was spread out before him, seen through the clear expanse of plasform set into the ship’s living walls. His own face, trimmed blond hair, and deep brown eyes, stared back at him, superimposed over the vivid starscape.

At thirty, Colin was in the prime of his career. He was a starship captain, and yet sometimes he felt like little more than a bus driver. After this run, well, he’d have to see what other opportunities might be awaiting him. Maybe the doc was right, and this was the start of a whole new chapter for mankind. They might need a guy like him.

The walls of the bridge emitted a faint but healthy golden glow, providing light for his work at the curved mechanical console that filled half the room. He traced out the T-Line to their destination. “Dressler, we’re looking a little wobbly.” Colin frowned. Some irregularity in the course was common, the ship was constantly adjusting its trajectory, but she usually corrected it before he noticed.

“Affirmative, Captain.” The ship-mind’s miniature chosen likeness appeared above the touch board. She was all professional today, dressed in a standard AmSplor uniform, dark hair pulled back in a bun, and about a third life-sized.

The image was nothing more than a projection of the ship-mind, a fairy tale, but Colin appreciated the effort she took to humanize her appearance. Artificial mind or not, he always treated minds with respect.

“There’s a blockage in arm four. I’ve sent out a scout to correct it.”

The Dressler was well into slowdown now, her pre-arrival phase as she bled off her speed, and they expected to reach 43 Ariadne in another fifteen hours.

Pity no one had yet cracked the whole hyperspace thing. Colin chuckled. Asimov would be disappointed. “Dressler, show me Earth, please.”

A small blue dot appeared in the middle of his screen.

Dressler, three dimensions, a bit larger, please.” The beautiful blue-green world spun before him in all its glory.

Appearances could be deceiving. Even with scrubbers working tirelessly night and day to clean the excess carbon dioxide from the air, the home world was still running dangerously warm.

He watched the image in front of him as the East Coast of the North American Union spun slowly into view. Florida was a sliver of its former self, and where New York City’s lights had once shone, there was now only blue. If it had been night, Fargo, the capital of the Northern States, would have outshone most of the other cities below. The floods that had wiped out many of the world’s coastal cities had also knocked down Earth’s population, which was only now reaching the levels it had seen in the early twenty-first century.

All those new souls had been born into a warm, arid world.

We did it to ourselves. Colin, who had known nothing besides the hot planet he called home, wondered what it had been like those many years before the Heat.


Author Bio

Scott spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Enticed into fantasy and sci fi by his mom at the tender age of nine, he devoured her Science Fiction Book Club library. But as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were in the books he was reading.

He decided that it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at his local bookstore. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently. He sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He loves to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

Starting in 2014, Scott has published more than 15 works, including two novels and a number of novellas and short stories.

He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own lives.

A New Project Is Coming

Writing

As if I don’t have enough stuff going on in my life.

Some of you may have read my free short story, Love Revisited. Some of you may also have cussed, hollered, and flipped me the bird when the story ended abruptly and I wrote a note saying I’d ended it there because the story’s about to take a turn for the weirder and I wanted to give people who like plain old Earthly fiction a safe jumping off point before all the science-fictiony weirdness began.

Now, I’ve known all along the next several scenes of the story, and the ending, and had a pretty good idea what’s going to happen to get to the end scene. There’ll be lots of explody goodness. But I couldn’t figure out whether or not the story fit into a larger universe.

Well, it does.

And thanks to everything finally coming together in my head, I’m going to start a new project, one that will incorporate that older short story as a bit of itself.

Some people may even cuss at me more, now, because the scifi/fantasy/mundane stories in this new project aren’t going to be free. Sorry. But while it’s true I’m not likely to become a billionaire off my ebook sales, it’s also true that I’m not getting any closer to retirement by giving away thousands of copies of my stories for free.

Anyway, anybody that follows me on Facebook already knows this, but I’ll say it again. The new project will involve:

  • Aliens!
  • Science fiction!
  • Magic!
  • Contemporary, distant past, and future Earth!
  • Time and dimensional travel!
  • and a whole lot of insanity, ’cause it’s me.

So wish me luck. I’m hoping to get started soon, but realistically, I’m still having a fight to the death with Firestorm. (Did I mention the blasted thing has become a three book series now? No? Well, it has.) The real, actual plan involves finishing that monster sequel-turned-series, setting it loose in the world, then seriously buckling down on the new project for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo. It will be a definite change for me, involving linked short stories and novellas, rather than the epic huge novel-monsters I’ve been writing lately.

And now, back to my regularly scheduled weekend chaos.

Worldbuilding 101: The Basics

Writing

Worldbuilding. It’s an enormous topic, and there’s no way any blog, course, book, lecture, or anything else can ever cover all of it. But I’ve wanted to take the subject on for a while now, so come on. Join me. Let’s do this. Let’s create some worlds.

There is no single way to build a world. No right, no wrong, no absolute guidelines guaranteed to give you a perfect world that everyone will love.

There are, however, assorted tricks and techniques that can help. And I’ve noticed that I do it differently from a lot of writers out there, so I figured what the heck, I might as well share some of my techniques in case there’s other people who can do things my way.

So. Here we are. There’s nothing yet, no story, not even a genre. Just an idea: I want to make a new world to play in. 

When I start making a world, the first thing I do is kick back and relax. Put my feet up. Close my eyes. Check to make sure no cats are on my keyboard, then close my eyes again.

Now, world.

I’m getting a sci-fi sort of feeling, so there’s my start. Sci-fi. For the purposes of this blog, I’ll make it a standalone, apart from any of my pre-existing stuff.

It has pretty colors. Okay, there’s a detail I can work with. This world has an advanced, tech-based society, and… they love nature, because this particular planet has–oh, my, where’d that come from? It has sprawling, silvery blue forests, and huge, dramatic, pastel cliffs.

See? That’s easy, isn’t it?

Worldbuilding used to be my biggest weakness. Now I enjoy the hell out of it. See why? Sit back and relax for a minute or two, and suddenly there’s a framework to build on.

And it has five moons.

So. I promised tips and tricks. I just gave you a brief glimpse of how I generate worlds, at least from scratch. The ones that come after the story or characters appear develop differently.

My first tip: don’t limit yourself. If you have a stupid idea, try giving it a shot anyway. Doing things my way, by brainstorming and daydreaming, can transform a stupid idea into something cool.

Once you’ve got your world, it’s time to get busy on the details. But I’m saving those for later, ’cause there’s tons of them. Lots more blog posts, just waiting to happen.

Huh. Guess this world has dramatic weather events, and the architecture people build reflects that.

There’s another tip for you: let your subconscious have fun. If you start getting stressed out, relax, quit worrying about it. This isn’t half so hard as you think. You have endless capacity for world generation. So let ’em out to play!

Anybody got the seed of a world now? Want to share it in the comments? I’d love to see what you come up with!

PS: This world is much larger than Earth, spins faster but still has a longer day, and has a small ring system.

Okay, brain. That’s enough for now. Save it for next week.

Oh, That Muse…

Random, Writing

A lot of creative people have a muse. Dictionary.com defines muse as the goddess or the power regarded as inspiring a poet, artist, thinker, or the like. Pretty fair definition, I’d say.

Some people are lucky enough to have a real person as their muse, but I’m not. Some people find inspiration in a photo, or a piece of art, or a place, or even a cat. I don’t.

Of course not. I can’t possibly be normal, have something so mundane as a muse I could look at, talk to, interact with. Nope. Not happening.

Instead, I get a nebulous and temperamental voice in my head. Well, sort of a voice. That’s the easiest way to think of it, even though it makes me sound completely insane. Sometimes this ephemeral muse is kind to me and showers me with ideas. Other times, like in recent months, my muse shuts the hell up and won’t say anything at all, even under threat of violence. Which, let me tell you, makes me feel real adult and rational, threatening to kick the shit out of something that doesn’t even exist.

I’ve been thinking about this temperamental muse of mine a lot lately, wondering what its problem is. (His problem? The bugger’s cranky enough to be a male.) And… it keeps coming back to the same thing: the real world.

See, my muse went on a long hiatus once before. It began on September 11, 2001, and lasted for a really long time. I went from writing and creating 3D art all the time, pretty much non-stop, to just barely creating anything at all. Because after what happened, writing smutty, slashy fanfiction just seemed so unimportant and trivial, it wasn’t even worth it.

But a good muse won’t be kept down, and mine eventually recovered. It started presenting me with idea after idea–you should see my WIP file–and helping me fill my online galleries with art.

And then… political bullshit happened.

Leaving my muse all sorts of pouty and unhappy, barely willing to toss out a half-hearted idea every now and again.

Idiots running my country, bills growing larger than my income can support, bigots and assholes partying in the streets… What place for creativity in all that? Why bother? Why not go crawl under a rock and hide, don’t worry about writing queer fiction or blog posts, don’t bother producing pretty pictures in a world full of ugly…

Yeah, whatever. That’s a line of crap I’m not going to buy into. Because I’m not going to let this stupid world get me down. I will feed my muse with Dr. Pepper (the real sugar kind) and pizza until it cheers up, and I will keep right on writing and making 3D art.

It’s harder now than it should be, yeah. But it feels like not writing is letting the jerks of the world win, somehow. Like allowing the stupidity of others to keep me from creating art or writing is just giving up and letting “them” win.

So screw “them.”

If nothing else, at least I can create beautiful worlds where bigots and assholes get run over by steam-powered freight trains or blown up by colossal fireballs. That’s the beauty of being a writer, after all.

Writing Is For Writers

Writing

So you want to be a writer. You read a lot of books, and you think it would be really cool to see your name on a fabulous story. But writing is for writers, right? Normal people don’t write books. Only people who have magically transformed into this amazing, mysterious being known as a writer can write books. Right?

Wrong.

That way of thinking, while unfortunately pretty common, is a big pile of baloney. I thought that way myself for years. Sure, I made up lots of stories. Sure, I even wrote them down in carefully concealed notebooks that no one would ever see. But that didn’t make me a writer. Writers were people who produced amazing tales without effort, typing away in a special magical world, untroubled by reality. Writers never had to go back and revise or edit, because everything came out shiny, perfect, and publication-ready.

Ha!

The real truth is, writers are people who write. It’s not any kind of magical ability. It’s a lot of work, really. But it’s worth all the effort to have a finished story come out the other end.

So how do you do this writing thing? It’s a very individual process, coming as it does from inside a writer. Here are some suggestions to get you going.

Location

Find a spot to write. Okay, I know that sounds very self-evident. But it helps to have a designated spot to write in, because your brain gets accustomed to being creative in that spot. Some people like privacy, some like sitting in the middle of a busy coffee shop. Experiment a bit. Look around. If you write with portable tools, like a laptop or pen and paper, you’re free to find a spot wherever you can get to easily and won’t get chased off by annoyed workers. If you’re like me and write on a desktop computer, make your space around the computer special. Fill it with things you like. Because guess what? If you’re serious about writing, you’re going to spend a whole lot of time there.

Time

One of my biggest challenges is finding time to write, and I absolutely am not alone in that. My solution was to start getting up ridiculously early in the mornings (4:30am, UGH!) and reserving an hour for writing. It’s rather hard to get up that early, but very worth it. I highly recommend setting aside a specific time, whether daily or weekly or whatever, that is your specific writing time. Although if an idea hits you at some other time, by all means scribble that bad boy down! If you can do so safely, that is. Because if you put it aside for later, it just might vanish, and leave you wondering what that idea was you had on the way to work.

Learn

Becoming a good writer does not just happen. Well, maybe it does if you’re some kind of amazing super-being, but for the rest of us, we have to learn how to write. There are a vast number of books available on the craft of writing, many of which are actually far more interesting than your high school English class. There are also a lot of writing classes and workshops available. Writer’s Village University is my favorite. Looking around on the site, it looks like they’ve killed off the old free F2K course, but they offer a $30 trial membership. I’ve let my paid membership lapse due to financial issues, but it was very much worth the cost.

There are also a near-infinite variety of free “how to write” resources on the web. Obviously. You’re reading one right now. Look around. Explore the different resources. Be aware that some of what you’ll find is pure crap. Pick up the bits and pieces of advice that work for you, and remember them.

Practice

There’s a book out there called Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg. Overall, it bugged me, for an assortment of reasons. But. The book gave me two concepts that are very important to my writing. One of these is writing practice.

Here’s a quick overview of the technique. Dedicate fifteen minutes of your day to writing. Not thinking, not daydreaming, writing. Get busy. Write what’s in you head, even if it’s just stream-of-consciousness. Keep it up for the full fifteen minutes.

And then, after you’re done, you might just find something amazing in the verbal barf you just produced: an idea, a neat turn of phrase, a sentence you’re just dying to have your main character use. There you go.

Another benefit to writing practice is that it gets you in the habit of writing. This ties in to what I’ve already said about location and time. It’s all about habits and training your brain. Or, if you prefer, training your muse.

Permission To Write

Yes, that sounds stupid. But it’s not. Give yourself permission to write. Forget about whatever societal baggage you’re dragging around that says only writers can write. And then take it one step further and apply the other world-changing bit of advice Natalie Goldberg offers: It’s okay to write shitty first drafts. No one’s going to read them unless you want them to. If your characters want to run around calling each other poopy-heads, that’s fine. Just get the words out on the page, whether paper or virtual. Once you’ve produced a whole, complete story, then you can worry about fixing it. So let yourself go! Tell your inner editor to put a sock in it. Sit down and write!

Okay, there you go. Nothing special, nothing fancy, just a paraphrasing of some different basic concepts I’ve seen pop up again and again since I decided to start writing for real. What it really boils down to is summed up in the absolute best piece of writing advice I’ve ever been given: Apply butt to chair. Place fingers on keyboard. Write!