“You must want to enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist you must learn your craft—then you can add all the genius you like.”
—Phyllis A. Whitney

9 Things I Did To Become A Full-Time Writer

Three years ago, I was like many of you. Just starting out. Not a clue which way to go. I had an idea for a book and that was it, but I wanted to become a full-time writer.

Fast forward a couple years, and I’m doing this for a living (on top of being a stay-at-home dad). I make a living writing fiction, but everything didn’t converge until four months ago. So what did I do to get here?

photo credit: streetwrk.com via photopin cc

photo credit: streetwrk.com via photopin cc

If you don’t want to hear a bit of my story, and think I may be tooting my own horn, feel free to read some of Joe’s stuff HERE. He’s much gooder than me anyway. 🙂

If you’re like me, and you enjoy hearing what others have learned in hopes of avoiding potential pitfalls, and you want to see what it took for me to become a full-time writer, continuing reading, my friend.

1. I Stopped Looking For Permission

I learned basic grammar and story-telling in grade school. I took one mandatory creating writing course in college.

That makes me a hack. I am not classically trained. But who cares?

The second I realized that it was all about writing stories that I enjoyed, and that readers might buy, I stopped listening to people who said I couldn’t be a writer.

You are a writer the nanosecond you declare it.

2. I Learned To Deal With Rejection

Bad reviews stink.

Not having your closest family read your stuff hurts even more.

I had to come to the realization that my closest friends and family were not my target audience and that one crappy review could not eclipse twenty or thirty great ones.

Rejection is everywhere. Learn to focus on the silver lining instead.

3. I Read Everything I Could About Being A Writer

I’m an entrepreneur so this one was right up my alley. The Internet makes it so easy. There are tons of websites dedicated to the writing. Do a search for “How To Be A Writer” and you’ll get more than you could ever process.

The point is if you’re going to be a writer, read about being a writer.

4. I Developed Relationships With Like-Minded Writers

I’ve talked about this in other posts, but I can’t tell you how good it felt to find writers with the same mentality as me.

Guy and gals who were willing to type fingers to the bone in their quest for success. I no longer had my Marines, but I had something else. What I found were warrior writers.

Surround yourself with positive writers who challenge you to be great.

5. I Developed My Craft

The moment you think you’ve figured it out, learn something new.

Developing your talent takes time and gobs of effort. Luckily I’m imbued with this annoying habit of self-analysis. I think most of my stuff could be better.

That’s not to say that I hold my work back. What I do is take classes and try to hone my craft while publishing as I learn. I’m always improving.

Don’t ever stop chasing perfection.

6. I Discovered That My Stories Aren’t Really Mine

I think a lot of writers get stumped because they think it’s up to them to come up with a story. I am a firm believer that that’s not actually how it works.

Think about it. When you look at a crumbling castle in Scotland a story probably comes to mind. When you happen across a teetering drunk you probably envision what led them there.

Before every writing session, I stop, close my eyes, and ask God (you may want to use the Universe or something less religious-y) to bring me the story.

I even posted this quote on my wall: “The story isn’t mine. I’m just the conduit.”

As long as I remember that, and try not to force the story, I don’t have a problem completing my novels.

Be the conduit, not the source.

7. I Learned About The Business of Writing

This is in addition to #3. I couldn’t just learn how to be a writer. I had to learn how to navigate the business of writing. Like I said before, there’s plenty of information out there. Take it in bite-sized chunks and apply the most important parts immediately.

Without business, there is no writing income.

8. I Gave My Stuff Away For Free

I know a lot of you hate this one. That’s cool. The only problem is that it may be holding you back from being successful.

This past March I set my first book to perma-free. You read right. That book will be free FOREVER.

You’re probably thinking, “Carlos! You’re crazy!”

My answer to you: Only on Sundays.

Here’s the truth. The more I’ve given away, the more sales I’ve made. A lot more.

This isn’t my idea. Guys and gals like Robert J. Crane and SM Reine paved the way. But they planted the seed, and now I’m gearing up to do the same thing with my first three books in the Corps Justice series.

Stop being greedy. Give readers a chance to love your work without asking for a penny.

9. I Wrote

The most important lesson comes last. This is the big one, ya’ll.

If I don’t write, there are no books.

Without books, I cannot sell.

Without sales, I can’t do this full-time.

More than one writer has said that the best piece of marketing they ever did was write their next book. It’s true.

Every new book I publish sells more than the last. My readers want the next installment.

That’s made me ramp up my plans which now include six to ten new novels every year.

You may (once again) think I’m nuts, but I love what I do. I love writing prolifically. After all, isn’t a writer’s only real job to write?

What’s keeping you from pursuing writing at a higher level?

PRACTICE

So, go do it! Go write your next book (even if that means your first one)! Spend some time writing your work in progress. Write for fifteen minutes. When your time is up, post your practice in the comments section below (then feel free to keep writing!).

If you post, please provide positive feedback for your peers.

About Carlos Cooper

Carlos is author of the Corps Justice novels. Get the box set of Books 1-3 for FREE HERE.

  • Hi Carlos, a question. (Well, 2 actually. 🙂 )

    I have completed a first draft. I want to rewrite it. Mostly change the structure into something a bit more effective (clever) and do some research to really embed the theme of the novel.
    However I’m more interested on starting another one than doing the work I need to do on the first one. I enjoy the creative flow more than the return to polish.
    How do you deal with this – especially given your prolific goal?

    Also any suggestions on manuscript feedback? I write ‘pantser’ style, yet I really feel the need for developing a structure for the re-write. I have very little access to a writing community so I’ll be looking to hire manuscript assessment services.

    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Kind Regards
    Dawn

    • Dawn,
      Thanks for the questions.
      I don’t do a whole lot of rewriting, but we’ve gotta realizing that proofing and editing is part of our job. I don’t like it, but I have to do it.

      Hiring for feedback is fine. Just get a couple recommendations. Once you have more readers ask for beta readers. One of the best things I’ve ever done.

      Till then, keep writing and keep publishing…

    • Dawn, I can relate to what you have said. After finishing the first draft of my novel, I started the second draft, and it changed so much that I’ve no longer included any writing from my first draft. I’ve basically started the whole book all over. That might sound crazy, but I’m glad that I wrote that first draft. It got me to this point.

      Anyway…I’m also nervous about the editing part that will follow though. I imagine it will be tough to focus on that when I just want to keep writing and moving on to new ideas. Hopefully we will both find a good balance between creating and polishing writing. 🙂

      • Hi Joy.
        I’m quite excited about the second draft. After all the first draft is simply about getting the story out. I do feel I’d like to work this second draft with some critique and ideas about structure. Did you do that or just plunge straight back in?

        I feel I really understand the characters, and i’m really keen to deepen them. I’m also clearer about the theme (which occurred as part of the writing itself and wasn’t preconceived – an interesting outcome of simply writing the story). I’m also keen to do some research and back up the theme and context of the novel.
        Editing and proofing is process. I deal with this in my every day work. At times I systematic approach to that also.

        I do wonder though about my muse’s urge to push out another story at the same time. What has your experience been?

        I’m considering doing NaNoWriMoagain in November. And may just commit that month to simply writing the next story.

        Sounds like I’m answering my own quandary.

        • Whoops sorry about that. iPad wouldn’t let me edit. ‘NaNoWriMo again in November’ I meant to say.

          I appreciate your feedback. And would love to discuss more.

          Warm Regards
          Dawn

          • No problem. 😉

        • Awesome. Sometimes just talking it out can bring answers 🙂

          I like your pantser approach to writing. It sounds like you have a solid first draft. That should make the second draft much easier to manage.

          If you’re feeling like you need feedback on your first draft, then that would probably be a good idea. I’ve yet to have someone read my WIP, although I do share bits of it with others. I’m feeling like I’m going to have to get some input though once I finish this second draft.

          As far as taking a break before launching into the second draft, that’s probably a wise idea too. I delved right into the second draft, since I had some sudden inspiration for it, and then I took a break when I went on vacation for a couple weeks. But that’s just how it worked for me… I think it’s good to distance ourselves from our writing sometimes though .That makes it easier to see what parts are really good and which parts aren’t so great. 🙂

          I’m constantly thinking of new book idea…It’s kind of ridiculous…but I’m trying to dedicate myself to my WIP. I’ve put so much work into it, and I really feel like it’s what I’m supposed to be writing, so that makes it easier for me to focus on it.

          I enjoy our discussions too. Best wishes for your second draft! 🙂

  • Richard Peeke

    My first e-book on Kindle was a collection of poetry,( not a best seller ) then a not very good mystery story, followed by a sequel, novel length. I seemed to be getting better ( in my eyes anyway ) with each thing written. Now I am on my fifth book of erotic novelettes and with a good proofreader am getting into my stride with sales. Just learning a few things or tricks at a time and picking up books at a book store and looking at them ( not reading them ) to see how they do it, helps me along. As some one wise said, write, write, write.
    B. Manly

  • Victoria I. Sanchez

    A child raced down the steep, rock-peppered hill and into the valley. The grassy basin held the moonlight like a tipping ladle full of cream; thin, papery blades of grass caught the light and shuddered it off as he sprinted by. The sound of whipping leaves trailed at the boy’s heels and stopped when he did—in front of an unassuming plant with smooth, black leaves. The boy stooped to examine the plant: the curve of its stems; its dense foliage; the gauzy texture of its flowers.

    The boy’s observation was interrupted when in his peripheral vision, he caught a flicker of movement. Turning his head, he saw it: a glint of silver darting in the pale moonlight.

    The moth hovered past him and perched lightly on a diaphanous flower. It rested there for only an instant when it started to flutter in a hysterical frenzy. The moth tumbled, teetered, veered—until finally exhausted—it plunged onto a damp patch of soil. The moth was dead.

    Sighing, the boy kneeled, enclosed his fist near the root of the plant, and pulled. The plant groaned as it was dragged out of its earthy bed. A snap here, a tug there, and it was out, naked and vulnerable.

    On the other side of the wide valley, a man was perplexed. He could’ve sworn he had spotted a child in the moonlight; a boy with grey skin and dark hair standing far too close the Devil’s Root. But when he looked again, the boy and the plant were gone.

    “The moon is playing tricks on me,” he said, fighting the sudden tremor that struck his hands. For the second time that night, the man was bemused. The air was warm, so why was he trembling?

    I find what is really stopping me at the moment is having a group of writers to critique with; I’d like to build a support system where we can read each other’s work and encourage each other. I like writing young adult fiction. If anyone is interested in having a critiquing group, email me: victoria.i.sanz@gmail.com 🙂

    • Your writing is beautiful. Keep it up! 🙂

      • Victoria I. Sanchez

        Thank you, Joy! If you’re interested in joining a few of us who’d be interested in reading each other’s work, send me an email and we’ll all connect! :))) victoria.i.sanz@gmail.com

    • Katherine Nederlof

      Oh wow! Your imagery is amazing, loved ‘The grassy basin held the moonlight like a tipping ladle full of cream;’. Is this from a story you’re writing? If so I would love to read more.

      • Victoria I. Sanchez

        Yes, Katherine, it is! Send me an email; I’d love to read some of your stuff too. It’d be cool to get a few people together to critique each other’s work. 🙂 victoria.i.sanz@gmail.com

    • Cara Enete

      I LOVE YOUR USE OF THE SEMI COLON IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH! Yes, I’m that excited. It’s my favorite punctuation mark 🙂

      I also applaud your appropriate use of the word “bemused;” so many authors tragically use it wrong.

      Some friendly feedback: I love so much of your descriptive writing, but too many adjectives can be distracting. When I’m reading I like to be able to use a little more of my imagination, rather than rely on minute descriptions. Then again, that might just be my personal preference, rather than a general one 🙂

      • Victoria I. Sanchez

        Cara, it’s my favorite punctuation mark too. So useful, those semicolons. 😉

        And yes, I’ve been thinking about toning down some bits here too. I don’t want my readers to trip over adjectives.

        Would you like to join a small group of writers from here? I think we’d all get some use of reading each other’s work on a weekly/biweekly basis. I have a couple of people interested already! Thank god for these blogs. Anyway, if you’re interested, send me an email: victoria.i.sanz@gmail.com

    • Sandra D

      I loved this. Everything felt so vivid.

  • Hi, Carlos!
    Thank you so much for this inspiring blog post. I read this after doing a Morning Pages writing assignment in Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way. I discussed some of the topics you mentioned in your blog post about developing my craft, reading everything I could about being a writer, and writing. The third item is the most important because a writer needs to stay motivated to consistently write regardless. Your blog post was much needed confirmation for me to stay focused and determined as a writer.
    Take care and be blessed!
    Bill

  • Carlos, Thank you for the book which I downloaded this morning and read in one sitting. My passion is writing and family history but all of my time has been devoted to learning more about my history. I have neglected writing for research and your line about an itch you can’t scratch hit me. Thanks for the wake-up call. I will do the seven day writing exercise to get back in the groove. I have ignored my family history blogs and the stories that need to be written. What good is the research if it is not shared?

  • Amanda Pina

    You just made my day with this text. I think a lot about it, and what you say, all of it (especially the part about give stuff away) makes a lot of sense to me. Thank you!

  • Hi Carlos,

    I started writing pretty late in my life. But, when I started, I had enough evidences of my good writings, though none online, that I never had a problem thinking I wasn’t a writer.

    I love #6 above. I tell this from experience too – God surely helps when we communicate with Him and ask for help.

    I don’t hate #8. In fact my blog and e-book have an uncopyright notice and I’ll be adding it to my writer website too when soon.

    You may know Leo Babauta has such an uncopyright too. And since I come from the Linux world where info and software are mostly free and free to modify, I liked this. BTW, do you mean your e-books are free only on Sundays?

    Thanks for telling your story and inspiring others to follow.

    • Thanks, Raspal. Luckily some of my books are free every day of the week 🙂

  • Marcy Mason McKay

    All great advice, Carlos. I’m still fascinated by the “give it away for free” makes the sales, but KNOW it’s true. I have several writer friends doing the same thing. Good for you!

  • Kellie Hatman

    I’ve wanted to be a “published” writer all my life. Still working on it, but I know it will eventually happen. Thank you for this article and the motivation!

  • Katherine Nederlof

    So this is from the novel I’m writing called ‘I’ll Carry Your Wings’. This excerpt is either at the end of chapter four or beginning of chapter five.

    “Kade?” she rushed forward, sliding the candle onto the tabletop, and reached for his hand. She grasped his wrist firmly and looked at him, searching his hazel eyes.

    “Ella? What are you doing here?”

    “What am I-,” she frowned, “I’m here to rescue you.”

    “You shouldn’t have come here Ella.”

    “What? I should have just left you?”

    “Yes,”

    “Do you even know me?” she hissed, trying to stop her voice rising. “Did you think I’d just leave you with Tristan? I mean you were kidnapped, which in itself is crazy, by your friend and-”

    “I was hoping you would,” he cut her off.

    She stared at him in shock, “You were hoping I would just let you be kidnapped without even putting up a fight?”

    “Yes, this doesn’t concern you and you should have stayed out of it.”

    “This doesn’t- I’m your best friend!” she yelled, “Unless Tristan get’s that title now, need I remind you that he kidnapped you. Of course this concerns me.”

    “Ella, I didn’t-, you should have stayed home where it’s safe.”

    “Safe? When they could have killed you!”

    “They wouldn’t kill me.”

    “The note said if I wanted to see you alive again I would come through the portal.”

    “They left a note?”

    “Yes!”

    “But, I don’t-”

    “Kade, Tristan kidnapped you. Tristan, the guy who’s been your friend for nine months. Who knows what crazy things he’ll do, heck this place is crazy. I met a Sprite and had to-” No, she wouldn’t tell him that. He had enough to worry about trapped here without her piling her problems on top, and frankly she didn’t want him to know the horrible thing she’d done. It was self defence, she reminded herself. “…to run through the woods with bleeding feet and arms. And then, when I was captured trying to get you out, this guy kept calling me Feathered, and they all have swords and, oh, the portal! A portal Kade, I came through a portal. This place is crazy, and I might be going crazy, and who knows what they’ll do to you so I am getting us out.”

    Kade was staring at her a look of horror on his face; his hand had tightened around her wrist to the point where she could feel the fantom pin pricks that told her the circulation was being cut off. She didn’t care though because she was gripping his wrist just as tight and didn’t want to let go. She’d found him and just wanted to go home now to where they could both be safe and free of all the craziness.

    “I’m sorry, Ella.” he whispered.

    “Don’t apologize, Kade, you did nothing wrong. You were kidnapped, now can we just find a way out?”

    He nodded slowly, then loosened his grip and looked around. “I already tried, but there’s no way out of here other than the door. I think our best chance would be when they bring us food.”

    “Okay.” She looked him up and down, “They’ve been feeding you?”

    “Yeah, three times a day.”

    “That’s good at least, but you do need a shower.” She reached up, having to stand on her toes, and ruffled his hair.

    “You should see yourself, and what happened to your hair?”

    Her hands flew to her ponytail and she remembered that the rain had washed the straightness out of it.

    “It rained, and it’s not like I have a straightening iron here.”

    “Right, I forget your hair is naturally curly. You should wear it like this more, it looks nice.”

    “You’re not the one who has to brush it every morning.”

    He grinned, then stepped forward and hugged her, his head coming down to rest on her shoulder. She wrapped her arms around him too and closed her eyes, holding him tight. She’d found him, and as soon as someone came to bring them food they would escape and go back home. Then Ella could forget all the craziness.

    Hope you all liked it and any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

    • Hi Katherine
      That is a great piece of dialogue. I got a real sense of the urgency.
      The only constructive feedback I can offer is to consider adding some. Ore description in the dialogue.
      Refer to http://thewritepractice.com/characters-talking/
      This post has some good ideas to give lengthy dialogue some extra pinch.
      Well done.
      Regards
      Dawn

    • Cara Enete

      I really enjoyed this excerpt! It was nice to jump into your story somewhere in the middle and be able to keep up with it. Do I sense some romantic tension between our two characters? Then again, that could be because I’ve been reading a lot of love-laden books lately. 🙂

      The only feedback I can give is regarding grammar. Just basic things here and there to help the flow of the story.

  • Cara Enete

    Thank you so much for this post! It’s easy for me to get caught up in unnecessary details, because I love details, and it’s so good to remember to JUST WRITE. (The quotes were supposed to be in italics to indicate thought, rather than spoken word. Alas, I couldn’t even copy and paste the italicized phrases from Microsoft Word.)

    “Why does this fool have me lugging buckets of water up this hill when I can easily use my magic?”

    The boy was only eight years old, but he had the intelligence of somebody much older… and magic to rival the current great sorcerers; his arrogance surpassed it all.

    “Laboring like a common mortal is humiliating and futile. My energy is better served studying and actually practicing spells.”

    His master was a good man who upheld his honor by reminding himself of humility. Not to be brought low, but to understand even the lowliest walks of life. Wisdom is derived from such pursuits. Or so the old man said.

    “My power is already great enough to conquer worlds. I yearn for the day I take everything I can from the Old Fool so I may finally drain his power and destroy him. After all, why waste such glorious magic on altruism when I can use it to take everything I want with almost no effort? Yes, I will eventually control everything in this world and will never suffer humiliation again.”

    • Kendra miller

      We want more!

      • Cara Enete

        Thank you, Kendra! Your encouragement makes me so happy!

    • Janell Ludwig

      Ooh, nice insight into your villain. Love the backstory!

      • Cara Enete

        Thanks! I just did what the prompt said: I just wrote. In those 15 minutes, I had no idea what was going to come out on paper. It was a lot of fun 🙂

    • Sandra D

      Fun~ A villain who is evil just because it is more fun then being good!

  • Luther

    This is a very meaningful post to me and I thank you for sharing. I am still learning and starting to link with writers, but I have not yet called myself a writer. I enjoy creativity and if I say I am a writer, have I committed to just writing as a creative outlet? As you can see, I am still working on the answer and your post has been helpful.

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  • Great insight. Thanks for sharing.

  • Steve scroggs

    Thank you Carlos. This is inspiring and insightful. One day my little brother looked up at me with a look of admiration bordering on worship…and I never was the same. Here’s looking at you brother.

  • Currently working on a collection of ‘Winter Moments’. This is a memory of an evening with friends on the last full moon. It’s not my usual style of writing so I’m just playing with new ways… Critique and feedback welcome. 🙂

    Tonight. Crisp and clear. A small fire. A small gathering clustered in the gentle concave of a grassy slope on the riparian fringe of the Kworabup River. Thick deep green grass, towering Karris, small puffs of smudged mauve cloud high in the sky courting the silver white moon as she rises high like a pearl in a sea of sequinned constellation. Her rays diffuse into softness and the sweet silent cyclic promise of earths cosmic rotation.

    A veil of mist slowly rolls up from the shadows of the shallow gulley and the shining face of river. And gently it weeps through the grass shrouding with gossamer cloak the bare, black, fat trunks of Karri, and rolls gently on dissolving secretly beyond the knoll.

    Fire crackling while logs radiant embers soak in the breath of our sharings and smoke dances with sweet wafts of chai. It is a succulent night. I want to slurp it up. I want to draw up the earth beneath my feet, lift my chin and let the mist caress my chest, throw back my head and open my eyes wide into the gleaming face of the moon and behold the magnificent shadows of towering trees.

    And for a while I simply stop and sink into the succulent, unctuous, spacious moment. I sit and feel the mighty glory in the presence of other hearts, deepen my roots and free my soul into the fragility and vulnerability of my own nature, my own personal presence on the planet. A stirring deep inside remembers that this crisp now-ness is, was, will always be, rotating with me through the galaxies and cosmos of yesterday, today and tomorrow’s .

    I drink in the silvery promise, taste the night coolness wash down my throat, release all that is holding me, open up to all that is about me. I become a part of the magic; me, we, us in the soft moon-kissed tapestry.

    Touched and loved by the moonlit night. Held and mesmerised by the cosmic rotation. Grounded and present on this earth. Warmed by fire and friends. Behold the magic of life. The joy of living. The mad ride that it is. The lunacy of this existence. That I am conscious enough to note this is conscious enough. It is plenty. It is an overflowing realisation that spills from this cup, this grail, this life, this experience that I am knowing. Right now, tonight. Divinely full and in love.

    • Sandra D

      Beautiful job.

    • I love your descriptions! I can picture what you’re trying to describe perfectly. *claps*

  • Sandra D

    I am starting a WIP finally, yay! And I found this information helpful. It was a good reminder when you said to read everything you can about writing. I went and did look up how to write a book on google, and now have about 20 websites I am hoping to get to soon and hopefully gather some good info. I like that this post applies to writers who have written a lot and one’s just starting out like myself.

    I went ahead and did write for 15 minutes to see what I’d come up with. It was fun to do so. And though I know it could use a bit of editing, I have to go out and do errands for now. But thanks for the nice lesson.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    He walked home. Kicking his feet in the dirt. Dust billowed up around him. He grabbed an apple out of his pocket and took a large bite of it. It was a tangy sweet green-red apple from the local market. He liked to go by there and get his apples sometimes. There he could find different kinds of apples he had never heard of. They were usally always much more sour then the ones at the grocery store. And they were often so sour that they were not always easy to eat. But they were just as juicy.

    He watched the houses of his neighbors as he went by them. Each house was a different color and a different floor plan. Some took to having ornaments on their porches. One of them had a large silver windchime that went down from the door halfway to the porch. Another house had a whole zen garden thing with rocks and shrubs and all sorts of exotic little flowers, and thick rolling moss in other places. This house also occasionally displayed rock statues of different kinds. The one this week was a man holding a bowl which was a fountain.

    He looked down at the evenly divided segments of sidewalk as he passed each one, and they’d flash by quick as he took his long strides. Like watching a moving watching his movements and marking the passing of time and space, so that things are always changing.

    He went this way everyday. His feet stepped naturally in the same places, in his mind the path was ingrained from the school to his home. And whether he was looking or not he’d probably follow that same path home.

    He was just the end of the block and the next block down from his house. A black cat crept from behind a trucks wheel. As it did, it bent its tail, feeling the hard rubber dips of the wheel. It slinked up to Robert and mushed its body against his leg, and meowed in a howling fashion. He gently pushed the cat off with his foot, when the cat shout-meowed again. He then bent over and gave the cat a quick pat, and the cat let out a thick voluptuous pur. He gave the cat a few more pats and then kept walking. The cat started to walk behind him and went on meowing at him.

    He kept walking until the cat had become too lazy to keep up the chase and stayed back in front of the neighbors hour, standing in front of the truck.

    He clutched his backpack by the straps, for the backpack was feeling heavy and hurting his back at this point.

    • Nice work Sandra.
      There’s lots of little details in this piece of 15 minute writing that could become little stories of their own.
      It’s a nice reminder of how much detail we walk past on or normal habitual routes.
      Regards Dawn

      • Sandra D

        Yeah I was thinking about my walks home from school.

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  • Joanne

    I thought I was the only writer whose closest family and friends didn’t read their books – so glad I’m not alone!

    • Joyce

      Me too…and upon further reflection, maybe that is one reason we write to be finally seen and heard.

  • H.Leighton Dickson

    Hi Carols, thanks for posting this. I have a question – in point 8, you mentioned you ran Free Sundays. That’s a brilliant idea – I already know the sales power of a giveaway, so I’m all over that concept. But you must not be on KDP, right? You’re limited to 5 days per quarter. If you use other channels, does Amazon pick up quickly enough to match your freebie on other channels? I’ve heard they’re a bit slow in that regard. I’d love to know how you manage that, and what you think the most successful channels are. (If that’s a secret, no worries!) Again, thanks for posting! – Cheers, Heather

    • H. Leighton Dickson

      Sorry Carlos! Typo!

    • My perma-free books are not in KDP Select.

      Once you have whatever book you want to be perma-free on Amazon already free on Apple’s iBooks, let the KDP support team know about it along with the link. As them (politely) if they’ll match the free price for you. You can also include a link to the free book on B&N and Kobo, but I’ve heard Apple is the most important. With my last three they did it on the spot and it showed up online quickly. Hope that helps!

  • Joyce

    So inspired by your words and living example of embracing one’s voice and staying true to the calling of writing…writing for a living, writing to save your soul.
    I have been inspired to write of what I’ve never dared pen before…your feedback would be most welcome. I ask you…does my voice matter?

    TO AE…

    Is it wrong to speak ill of the dead?

    Does a single exhale into dimness absolve one of all horror?

    Of shame anointed upon a child.

    Of fear transmuted into one so trusting.

    Of anger pummeled into the face of innocence.

    When it is time to speak of such atrocities? To tell truths after the final departure?

    Of things a sister should never do.

    Of mortal wounds and mortal sins.

    Of the unspeakable and all that must be spoken.

    Lucky, lucky you…. now dissolved from the past.

    Leaving me behind, brutalized and beaten.

  • Wow, thank you so much for your post. I do the same: before starting to write a new scene, I ask God to give me his inspiration or to stear up the creativity in me. Sometimes it’s awsome, what happens next …

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  • Starlight11

    This post is so helpful. Well here is my 15 minutes worth of writing. If there were more pages, on a scale of 1-10, how interested would you be in turning this one to get to the others?

    As the first rays of bluish sunlight trickled through the openings in the maroon curtains
    covering her large, beveled glass window, Jax placed her cello in its case with
    gentleness and zipped it in securely. Turning to the open travel bag on her
    queen sized bed, she rummaged through its contents.

    All of my favorite clothes? Check. All of my sketchbooks? Check. Plenty of
    money? Check. My application? Check. Emergency survival gear? Check.

    Zipping her bag
    too, she slipped it over her shoulder and firmly picked up the cello. Jax tip-toed
    to her solid wood bedroom door. Turning to survey the room a final time, she
    allowed her eyes to caress the childhood stuffed animals that she had decided
    to leave behind. Though her room had never been home, it held many memories. A
    dress caught he eyes. It was disgustingly ornate and it could only belong to
    one person. Bronwyn. Suppressing the urge to hide it so that Bronwyn would
    never find it, she forced her attention back to the door. Opening it, she stuck her head out. Jax glanced down the bedroom
    hallway and then as best she could over the railing. All of the lights were off
    and all of the doors were closed.

    Good, she thought, everyone is still asleep.

    She stepped out of her room and raced
    down the stairs, making sure to skip the last step. When she reached the
    bottom, she immediately froze. The silhouette of her tall and lean father,
    Kaero Oberin, beside her considerably shorter mother, Elina Oberin, stood by
    the front door. Jax straightened up and gave them a tight smile. Her father reached
    his hand down into her mother’s and strode across the foyer to stand before
    her. With every step they took, her heart gained speed.

    “And where,
    Jaxania, do you think you are going?” Mr. Oberin said.

    Jax shifted from
    one foot to the other and glanced away. Suddenly very aware of the weight of
    the cello dragging on her hand, she set it down. Her palms produced a thin
    layer of sweat and she smoothed them over her tunic.” I, um, was going to
    walk to the bridge.” She swallowed. ” So that, um, I can ride to Avredon.”

    A tense silence
    followed her words. Jax would have blown on her thumb to slow her heart rate,
    but it would completely give away her discomfort. Instead, she focused on
    taking deep, even breaths. Mrs. Oberin’s eye brows creased and a sad smile
    appeared on her usually happy face. Stepping
    forward, she grasped Jax’s hand in her own. Jax immediately stiffened, but did
    not pull away. “Without saying good-bye?” her mother asked.

  • I’m currently working through NaNoWriMo this month. SO I guess I can post an excrept from my novel. It will be interesting I hope… Feedback is welcome, but I’ll probably ignore it til February :P. This is the Prologue of the project (for context, this takes place in Star Wars: The Old Republic. It’s the back story to my main character):
    ———————————–

    Look at those people in that house in Kaas City. They are supposed to a family of the sith species where Darths are at the head and they are growing a strong son who will carry on their legacy. Yet they are the warmest place in a city so cold on a planet that is colder. It is amazing, I think, that they can live as such without being hidden.

    Of course the husband and wife are Darths. They probably had to compromise who they were to get to the power they have now. Not to mention they had to get through to Darth Thanaton how much they were staunch traditionalists. The more I think about how that Dark Council member believed it, it is amazing someone didn’t kill him using his naiveté long before Darth Nox did. Why are they so happy? How can anyone in the Empire be this happy?

    Why can I not be that happy? Is it because I’m passed out in the cold? Is it because I got born to my mother and father instead of them? What the kriff do I have to do to live like them?

    Look at their son…He’s the future Darth Caedusios and he’s using a blow dryer to dry his hair! Furthermore, his room is a mess with books upon books about useless stuff that will get him nowhere.

    I know, bold talk from someone asleep outside in the cold, but a man can still have an opinion!

    I can also have a dream that he’ll open the door. Soon. I am freezing out here!

    The rain did not let up yet and I could see some of the plumbing in the city begging the engineer to be executed— you don’t leave a street to flood in one of the most luxurious apartment blocks in the city and expect Darths and Lords to not take exception sooner or later.

    My cousin, now called Ratsoi, shouted to my aunt and uncle, “I’m off to basic training! I should be back shortly…”

    His mother, my aunt on my father’s side, said, “Of course. Keep an eye out for Crimsèn, son. He wasn’t at home last night. I am becoming worried…”

    Ratsoi finally opened the door and answered back, “Of course I will. Someone might as well be—Crimsèn?!!!!! Crimsèn, wake up! Wake up!!!”

    I lazily opened my eyes at that point. I whispered, “Not so loud… I’m trying to sleep, Rats…”

    He said, “When did you get here? How did you get here?” He picked me up as I was not as big as he was back then. He shouted, “Mother! Father!! He’s here, and he’s so cold…”

    My aunt ran up to me and felt my forehead. “Why couldn’t we sense him? Crimmy, can you hear us?”

    I said to her in a hoarse voice: “Don’t call me that! I prefer Crim… And I got here after you all were in bed.”

    She answered, “No, that’s not possible. How could you have been outside our house all night? You and I have a force bond; I would have felt you. I would have…”

    “Mother, Crim and I have a force bond too. I couldn’t sense him either,” Rats interjected with a voice filled with fear. “Could auntie and uncle have removed his
    awareness? Are they blocking us somehow?”

    Auntie said, “No. Why would they? She was just showing him off, and his powerful abilities, at one of those stupid parties your father insists we go to at least once a year to prove to Thanaton we’re still alive and working.”

    “Then why?” my cousin asked to be interrupted by my very quiet voice, “It was me, auntie. I took the force away. I killed it inside me because I had to…”

    My aunt and cousin were so silent you could hear a pin drop and even an animal roar in the jungle miles away. She said, “We will deal with this later. No basic training, son, we need to get Crimsèn to a medical facility. And we’ll have to tell his parents…”

    I shouted, “NO!!!!! Don’t call them… Don’t call them! They’ll kill me!!!!! Please just take me anywhere, but don’t tell them where I am. And don’t tell them I’m here! Just take me far away!!!!!!!!”

    Eventually my uncle came in. He said calmly, “Crimsèn! What are you doing here? No need to be terrified, you are safe here.”

    If only his calm voice would work this time but it was to no avail. I said in a panic, “Uncle! They are going to kill me! Please don’t make me go back there. I’ll do anything, serve in anyway…”

    “Nonsense, son,” he said in a calm but firm voice. “You are family; I will not have such a strong force user that is one of my father’s descendants become a servant!!!”

    I shook my head and looked down, “No force… no force… Keep me away from the force… I will not…!!!”

    I was told at the medical facility that my cousin knocked me out before I could do more. He supposedly explained to them, “Forgive me, I feared he was going to become violent.”

    How did I end up here? Good question they asked. I had no force, why? Another good question. I was fleeing for my life, and suffering from the elements—no time for me to explain. As I lay there unconscious, my mind went back to the days when I still had the force, knew who I was and what I was supposed to become, and the day I discovered I was broken beyond repair and could not fulfill my pre-determined destiny. I had to make my
    own.

  • Allequestria

    This is my ongoing story “Absorption Distortion” which I have been using Wattpad.com to create. This excerpt is just to give you a taste of the madness of the world I’ve created.

    They pull up beside the house, seeing the lights inside the main house. Bolt jumps out of the car, leaning over it and sending a zap into the front door, but missing at first and hitting a hanging pot plant beside it, making a thud on the veranda floor. He huffs out of frustration and zaps again, hitting the door and sending it smashing into the house. In excitement of the chase, he runs around the car and up into the front of the house, zapping doors and objects in the event Luna was hiding behind it. He makes his way through the house, using his lightening bolt ability in search as he goes room by room. He mistakenly his a curtain and it catches alight, moving quickly through the house. As he scans the house with the blonde, blue eyed Professor Stevens, He was able to break a door open and throw it across the room simply by hitting it with his fists. He was famous in his earlier years as a Professional Boxer who was disqualified for hitting his opponent into the car park from the ring. They moved through the house to the back yard but found nothing. Bolt set a few other rooms on fire, sending the house into a blaze. Stevens walked into the backyard and looked into the darkness as Bolt walked up from behind. “They’re not here,” he says, patting Stevens on the shoulder, but not amused, Stevens looks over his broad shoulder at Bolt and pulls a disgruntled, get-a-way-from-me face and he quickly removes his hand from his shoulder. They move into the backyard as the fire gains momentum but both quickly move back to the car from the side of the house. “Lets go back to Fernbrooke for now,” Eville says from behind a half cracked window with Professor Warren between the two. As Stevens and Bolt get back in the car, Eville notices the dark clouds forming above the house. “Stop!” He demands forcefully and everyone freezes, he opens the door and steps out, “Stay here,” He says to the others, moving at lightening speed around the back of the house.

    With her hands to the sky, Kate controls the clouds to form rain above Nick’s burning house. With her ability, she’s able to create the torrential rain necessary to put the fire out. As she’s focusing up the in sky, a figure of a man appears in her peripheral vision, she lowers her hands and looks at him. Professor Eville slowly moves towards her, “Ahh.. Mrs. Kate Daniels, so lovely to finally see you,” he said seductively with his deep voice as he walked towards her. She looked at him, “I know who you are and what you are trying to do,” she said aggressively, as if to show her dominance towards him. He lets out a laugh and claps his hands while moving back and forth, “No no, you have it all wrong my dear sweet Kate,” He says, as his stops moving and turns to her, “I want you,” He smiles at her, the hair which is pulled to the side begins to lift in the air and she immediately puts her hands in front, creating a dark cloud barrier between herself and Eville, using the opportunity to soak the oval in fog and run away. Eville finishes his sentence, “to find Luna,” seeing the barrier, he turns to face it and looks up at the sky, a few strands of blonde hair floats down and his catches it in his hand, putting it in his pocket and walks back towards the car, leaving the backyard to disappear in the fog she was creating.

  • Sandra

    Night had fallen and the darkness covering the island was
    absolute. The moon could not be seen and what few stars were visible in the sky
    were blocked by the thick overstory of vines, branches, leaves and other
    plants. The sounds of the island life were deafening: animals, insects, even
    the rustling of the leaves made it difficult to hear what any one said. But no
    people. None to be found on the entire island except for four children.
    Thirteen year old Jake, the eldest of the four, stood crouched in the trees at
    the edge of the clearing. The other three, Jane, age 12, was crouched behind
    Jake, with one arm holding back a branch and the other wrapped around one year
    old Timmy, who was strapped to her in a papoose. Mike, who would soon be 13 was
    behind Jane, trying to watch their backs. Jake stood there, peering into
    absolute darkness, trying to see or hear, he didn’t know what, but some clue as
    to whether it was safe to move into the open. The children could barely see the
    outlines of one another if they stood very close to each other; however; Jake
    knew he could see at night, even in this darkness. And he was here,
    somewhere, stealthily moving about without being seen or heard. For all Jake
    knew, he could be in the trees above, looking down on them right now, or eyeing
    them from the center of the courtyard, waiting for them to walk out in the
    open. Or it was possible he could be far away, totally unaware they even
    existed.

    Gathering courage from that last thought, he
    touched Jane and motioned for her to follow him. They held hands as they slowly
    made their way into the open blackness of the courtyard in front of the castle
    ruins. As quietly as they possibly could, they made their way into the castle,
    not without a few trips and groans.

    Once inside the castle, they made their way to
    the dungeons, again with no light, trying to find their way down, remembering
    what they had been told. They fumbled around, looking for the hidden door until
    eventually, they were able to step through it, still in complete blackness. On
    the upside, the frightening sounds of the jungle faded somewhat as the hidden
    door closed behind them. Walking forward a few steps, they finally felt the
    roots of the Wilmer Tree. Strong, thick roots which grew deep into the ground.
    They needed to place the Crown of Power at the center of the roots, touching
    the Bleeding Lavisia stone. As they felt their way around and turned a corner,
    there was suddenly a small glowing light coming from the center of the roots.
    There it was, the Bleeding Lavisia, about 5 feet tall and almost as wide
    around. The Bleeding Lavisia was a purple stone with red streaks running
    through it. When cut, the red would run out of the stone, in a liquid state,
    thereby the name Bleeding Lavisia, the only one if its kind.

    The Crown of Power was made from the roots of
    the rare Wilmer Tree, and the stone in the center was a part of the Bleeding
    Lavisia. The crown, taking the powers of the very strong Wilmer tree, which
    could not be cut down, and the Bleeding Lavisia, gave the wearer invincibility
    against attacks and illnesses. But this came at a terrible price to the one who
    wore it. The longer it was worn, the greater the price. For these powers were
    not intended for man.

    These children, not from this world, were on a
    mission to hide the Crown of Power where no one would ever be able to find it.
    Too many had died attempting to steal it and use its powers. The few who had
    worn it had suffered terribly. So here they were, in the dungeons of the
    castle, where the former owner had lived, the king of this island, so long ago,
    to return the crown to where it came from. The only place it would be safe.
    Where the roots of the Wilmer tree would grow around it and cover it with the
    Bleeding Lavisia and it would never be found again.

    They had placed the crown on the stone and
    roots, when suddenly all the noise stopped. The silence was more deafening than
    the noise of the jungle had been. He was coming. They had been warned that this
    was the sign he was present. Mike found a piece of the stone broken off on the
    ground and picked it up to look at just as he realized they needed to get out.
    He struggled to get the large marble out of his pocket. The ground began to
    shake as he came closer, causing them to stumble a bit. He wanted them to know
    he was coming. He wanted to scare them. Otherwise, he wouldn’t make a sound.

    Mike grabbed the marble, with their home in
    miniature inside, and threw it down, grabbing hold of Jane. Jake and Jane
    reached for one another’s hands but they were too far apart. Jake couldn’t move
    because his foot was ensnared in the gnarled roots of the tree. He groped in
    the dark to find something to connect them and finally they both had one end of
    something, but it didn’t matter. He couldn’t get free and was stuck, in the
    dungeon’s secret room with him coming. Jake was terrified. His family,
    and his only chance of escape had suddenly vanished. He couldn’t see anything
    but he felt their sudden absence, and felt the nearing presence of the ghost
    dragon. He needed to find a way out quickly. There was no hiding from him. The
    only hope was a quick escape. Difficult to do when one couldn’t see.

    While Jake was left standing in the darkness,
    searching for a way out, Jane, Timmy and Mike suddenly found themselves
    standing in the back yard of their families’ vacation home They were horrified
    to discover that Jane was actually holding the crown. They were even more
    distraught to see that Jake was not with them.