By Indie Authors for Indie Authors.

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The Time To Write Your Book Is Now

Write Now

by Jonathan Olivier

 

 

One day. One day I’ll be an author.

That’s what I told myself for years. As I started my career in journalism, I thought I was beginning the process of one day being an author, of some day writing that book.

Heck, I even had a few chapters written (very rough chapters), but those crude pages were shelved deep in the recesses of my computer. I didn’t have what it took, yet, I thought.

But as the years went on, as I wrote more feature stories and news articles for magazines and newspapers, my aspirations to one day write a book were increasingly on my mind. So I asked myself: When was one day? Why wait? What is holding me back, after all?

After giving it some thought, I knew becoming an author was whenever I wanted it to be. I was the only person standing in the way of writing a book. So, without any knowledge of the publishing industry, I sat down every chance I got for an entire summer and wrote, and then wrote some more. It was that easy.

Toward the end of finishing the first draft, I knew I had to start exploring how I’d actually get published. I started to read about self-publishing. After seeing the tremendous success so many indie authors have had, it showed me that it doesn’t matter who publishes your novel. If it’s a good story, if it looks professional, and if you have a good marketing plan, then you have a shot of selling some books. And from what I read, that sentiment is echoed by many, many indie authors.

With the wealth of information on indie publishing and the ease to do so, there is no better time to write your book. If you don’t have the resources to publish it, there’s always someone who can help you along in the process. So don’t worry about publishing yet. Just start writing. The only thing that makes an author an author is the fact that they write—a lot.

You won’t get anywhere by hoping that one day you’ll become an author. Make that one day today.

Here’s a few tips to start a writing routine to get the ball rolling.

  1. Once you have your story idea, write every day, no matter what. Set aside time to write every day, whether before work, after work, or on your lunch break. As long as your writing, you’re progressing.
  1. Set a goal for yourself. I like to set weekly goals. Start off slow, perhaps at 1,000 words a week.
  1. Don’t get caught in the weeds of revising right away. You can always revisit your story and tweak details later. Keep the story progressing while it’s fresh in your mind. (Of course, minor revisions are always a good idea. Just don’t spend days and days revising before your story is finished).
  1. Go with your gut. Don’t think about what someone will think if you write a certain detail. If you want to take the story in some direction, then take it that way.

 

 

Version 2

About the Author:

A native of Port Allen, Louisiana, Jonathan currently lives in Ithaca, New York. He began his writing career as a journalist, and he has won several awards for his reporting on outdoor recreation and environmental issues. His debut novel Between the Levees was inspired by his love for the wilderness of Louisiana’s Atchafalaya River Basin, as well as his Cajun lineage.

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

Author Interview with Keven Fletcher

Keven Fletcher Author Interview

 

I am pleased to have Keven Fletcher join us here at Nothing Any Good. Mr. Fletcher is a Chaplain and Faculty Mentor at St. Michaels University School in Victoria BC. His first book—When It Matters Most—is set to be released on June 7th and is currently available for pre-order. Welcome Keven!

Glad to be here.

 

I’m going to skip a softball opener and come out of the gates with a 90 MPH slider. You’ve written that the old adage, “You did the best you could,” can not only be misleading, (e.g. your best isn’t always good enough), but can also be detrimental. What you seem to theorize, if I can crassly distil it, is that sometimes our best actually has a negative impact, so simply saying that I tried my best is not enough. I need to reflect on where my best failed and learn to improve. (Correct me if I’m misrepresenting your thoughts.) If you will allow me to take your theory one step further, though, if my best has a negative impact, wouldn’t not trying at all have been better than trying and creating a negative?

Great slider! I have a totally satisfying answer:

It depends.

Okay, not very satisfying, but hear me out.

If you ask me to prepare pufferfish for dinner tonight and I’m not an expert, rather than trying my best, I should probably defer to someone who knows what they’re doing or offer you salmon in its place. In a high risk case such as this, doing my best isn’t necessarily the same as doing what’s right. It’s better to not try at all, period.

That being said, let’s assume that I’ve been trained in the preparation of fugu and you understand the poison risks. In this case, I’m in a position to offer you the pufferfish. Of course, I should offer my best work. Anything less courts disaster.

Now imagine that despite my best efforts tonight, you get sick from the meal (sorry). This happens, even in the world of master chefs. The popularity of the meal is partially connected to the risk – the foodie equivalent of bungee jumping.

My response to the situation is crucial. If I shrug my shoulders, ignore the outcome, and simply hope that you won’t get sick next time, I’m not really offering my best in its most important sense (even though I am doing my best in the moment). If this is the case, it would be more accurate to simply say that I’m doing the same as before.

Quite differently, doing my best in its fuller sense entails figuring out where I missed the mark and learning all I can to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. It’s ultimately about my willingness to learn and grow, rather than any single meal’s effort.

This being said, the stakes aren’t usually so high. Most often, we’re well positioned to (1) do our best in the moment, (2) learn from our subsequent successes/shortcomings, and (3) apply those learnings to the next rounds. My suggestion is that we can’t stop at step one and slap on a vacant approval statement. We are only truly at our best when we incorporate all three.

For the record, I’ve neither prepared nor eaten fugu. I avoid it for the same reason that I avoid bungee jumping – life is thrilling enough.

 

So it seems you’re more concerned with people not learning from their mistakes and being content. I’m a basketball fan and there are two quotes by two different coaching greats that I think apply. John Wooden, the UCLA coaching legend, once said, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?” Another great coach and current president of the Miami Heat once wrote, “Anytime you stop striving to get better, you’re bound to get worse.” I love both of those.

 

I don't know what to do with worldviews that don’t involve paradox. It must be wonderful, but it’s just not my experience. - Keven FletcherClick To Tweet

 

Now that we’ve gone from 0-100 in one question…Your website (www.kevenfletcher.com), and I can only assume part of your pastoral mission as well, focuses on how to create a meaningful life. What does your inspiration for creating meaning in people’s lives come from? Is it from your own hard-learned failures to create meaning or the thrashing of others searching without finding meaning?

People fascinate me. Some seem compelled to create a deep sense of purpose in life, while others seldom move past the surface. We’re all scattered across this spectrum, seemingly without correlation to privilege, education, or health. When I come across people who are strong, vulnerable, and resilient, I wonder how it happens – what ways of thinking, what patterns of behaviour lead to lives that are so full of meaning?

It’s not that my own life has been marked by extraordinary challenges or that I’ve benefited from remarkable adventures. The gift I’ve received has been exposure to a wide cross-section of people at very significant moments in their lives.

Through these encounters, I’ve come to conclude that we both receive and offer the most in our lives when a sense of greater purpose and meaning guides our thoughts and actions.

 

Have you read “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl? Has it impacted your work at all?

Frankl is a personal hero. He influences my work whether I directly reference him or not. The book you mention is one of my favourites on two counts.

First, Frankl provides a powerful example as to how we always have a choice. I’ve spoken more than a few times about how I don’t draw this conviction regarding the enduring existence of choice from my own life. Mine has neither been particularly challenging nor adventurous. But Frankl, he talked about the existence of choice within the context of his personal experience of four concentration camps and the loss of his immediate family. He witnessed its power in both the guards and prisoners, and we, his readers, see it in him.

Second, Frankl concluded that people need a sense of meaning in their lives. What’s so important is that he wasn’t fixated on a particular meaning, such as a doctrinal stance or specific worldview. Rather, my understanding is that he believed that people need to find a meaning that reflects their individuality.

I was introduced to Frankl’s work by a dear friend who happened to be re-reading his favourite books as death neared. It’s an example of the gifts I’ve been handed by people whose paths I’ve been fortunate to cross. You meet my friend in the book, over a glass of Guiness.

 

Victor Frankl is a personal hero. I was introduced to Frankl by a dear friend nearing death. -Keven FletcherClick To Tweet

 

Your first book—When It Matters Most—looks at creating purpose and acceptance in relationships by exploring the wisdom of Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and Taoism. What inspires you to explore the wisdom of all of those traditions?

I think that wisdom stories are powerful tools for stimulating reflection. They tend to be universal, transcending cultures and times. Because the tales usually offer several layers of understanding, the same story can offer different insights at different points in our lives. On top of this, the story format makes the wisdom memorable and accessible, which renders the messages easier to call upon when needed.

As for the breadth of stories used in the book, I think that we sometimes get caught up in our own traditions. More and more, though, we’re coming to understand and appreciate the global nature of the human endeavour. These stories allow us to dip into the full breadth of what that outlook offers.

The novel expresses this broader approach through more than the wisdom tales. Though set in a single location, its characters reflect a wide spectrum of humanity in terms of our ethnic, social, economic, gender, and sexual diversity. Again, it’s about the broader picture.

 

Were you afraid of the undertaking of exploring the wisdom of all these ancient traditions and religions? Did you ever find yourself saying, “Who cares what I think about this?”

I’m glad you care enough to offer this interview!

The initial drive to produce the novel stemmed from a desire to share the wisdom stories more widely. In my own speaking, they’ve generated the strongest, positive response. I have students and faculty who come to me years after leaving the school, who share the stories that stuck with them and made a difference.

Happily, this focus on the stories makes the novel less about what I think and mostly about the wisdom tales themselves. I’ve tried my best to set them into a concrete context that illustrates their power, but in the end, it’s not about what I think. In fact, my only responsibility is to share these narrative gifts from which I’ve benefited.

And best of all, those who don’t care aren’t required to read the book…

 

I may be projecting, but you seem to be someone that is not only comfortable with paradox, but embraces it. How do you account for the paradoxes that lie within your religious and personal worldviews?

Am I allowed an extended quote? Fritz Williams said:

I believe in cultivating opposite, but complementary views of life, and I believe in meeting life’s challenges with contradictory strategies. I believe in reckoning with the ultimate meaninglessness of our existence, even as we fall in love with the miracle of being alive. I believe in working passionately to make our lives count while never losing sight of our insignificance. I believe in caring deeply and being beyond caring. It is by encompassing these opposites, by being involved and vulnerable, but simultaneously transcendent and detached, that our lives are graced by resilience and joy.

I completely buy into this approach. So much of living a rich life is tied to our ability to choose which end of a paradox to emphasize at a given moment. Each of Fritz’ statements is true. Knowing which way to lean is a product of wisdom. Being able to follow that wisdom takes discipline and practice.

I’m really not sure what to do with worldviews that don’t involve paradox. In a way, it must be wonderful to see life as less complex. It’s just not my experience.

 

Your Amazon bi-line refers to your wife as “resilient.” Why did you choose this adjective to describe your spouse?

Jenn puts up with me. Not everyone would. But that’s not the full story.

Her family having been hit by a drunk driver when she was young, Jenn’s physical challenges and sheer number of surgeries would have caused lesser souls to crumble. For me and others, she’s an inspiration as to how our framing of events has greater impact than the events themselves. In many ways, she embodies the exercise of choice at the core of Frankl’s work.

She’s been an incredible influence in how I understand my own life and its meaning.

 

It sounds like you, like me, got too lucky. People say, “Behind every good man is a good woman.” In my case, my wife is miles ahead of me encouraging me to keep up.

I only allow this from time to time, but for your final question, I’m allowing you to interview yourself, but it can’t be a standard interview question that is pre-packaged.

Keven, you prattle on about finding one’s meaning in life. What’s yours?

At the school, we take our grade twelves through an exercise where they identify all the roles they fulfil (son/daughter, student, athlete, friend…). We then ask them to pick the five that they believe to be most significant. Once they’ve gone through that process, we get them to finish the sentence, “I exist in order to…” It’s a simple enough exercise and sets the stage for some deeper thinking.

Of course, what’s good for the participants is good for the leaders. Here’s how I filled in the blanks:

I, Keven Fletcher, am a citizen, spouse/father, chaplain, friend, and writer. I exist in order to cultivate and celebrate growth in others and myself.

It’s the sort of bookmark exercise that one can return to every few years. After all, our understandings grow over time.

Did you notice that I cheated by combining two roles? Perhaps we can chat about my moral failings next time.

Thanks so much for the chance to share!

 

Thank you, Keven! I am grateful for your time. You seem to have a kind and generous heart. The world needs more men like you.

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

 

keven_fletcher

 

About the Author

Drawing on a background in corporate leadership, mediation, and religious thought, Keven Fletcher currently speaks, facilitates, and mentors within a globally diverse, academic community that represents twenty-five countries and five continents. His recent book, When It Matters Mostreflects a distillation of all these roles.

 

 

 

 

 

Happily Ever After by Marjorie Owen

happily ever afterI am excited that Nothing Any Good can utilized as a platform, not only for assisting writers throughout the writing process and promoting their works, but also as a platform to explore new works from up-and-coming authors. Despite what some might think, I don’t believe writing should always be done in a vacuum. Having a community with whom to share essays, short stories, and musings is a valuable commodity for writers. I’m pleased to bring you our second short story by Jesse Dee’s beloved mother, Marjorie Owen.

 

Happily Ever After

by Marjorie Owen

 

“And so they were married and lived happily ever after.”

The little girl gave a sigh of blissful contentment, although she must have heard the story at least a dozen times before. Then, with the eternal optimism of children she begged, “Read me one more, granny. Just one.”

Laura Clayton closed the book firmly and stood up. “No more tonight, darling. Time you were asleep. Snuggle down now, and I’ll tuck you in.” This done, she kissed her granddaughter and went to the door, turning to look fondly at the child whose eyes were already closed. She’d soon be dead to the world, Laura thought.

She hurried along to the bathroom. Extraordinary, what a mess one small person’s bath time could make. She could imagine, all too well, the familiar icy look of tight-lipped disapproval on her daughter-in-law’s face if she saw the havoc there; she could hear the impatience, “Oh, leave it to me, mother!”

This always reduced her to a fumbling, inefficient idiot, of about the same age as her own granddaughter. Tidying away the little garments, putting the soggy towels in the linen basket, cleaning the bath, mopping down the walls, and trying to dry the worst bits of the carpet, her thoughts were scurrying around for the umpteenth time. Why, oh why, had she ever been so foolish as to agree to make her home with Roy and his wife? Working furiously away, she smiled wryly and muttered half aloud, “Money, my girl! That’s the beginning and end of that one. What else?”

When her husband died so suddenly, leaving his affairs in such a muddle, and it dawned on everybody there was absolutely nothing left, what alternative was there but to accept her son’s invitation to make her home with him? A woman in her forties with no skills, no training, and no experience. There seemed no other way out. That was two months ago and how bitterly she regretted it. It would have been better to have gone into one room, tried to get some sort of unskilled job, perhaps as a charwoman. They earned enough, God knew! Some cleaner I’d have made, she thought ruefully, regarding her inexpert attempts to get the bathroom cleaned up.

The trouble was she hadn’t known her son’s wife very well beforehand. The two families lived hundreds of miles apart and on their infrequent meetings; everyone was on his or her best behaviour. Laura had decided from the day of Roy’s wedding, she’d never become an interfering mother-in-law and the best way to achieve that was to keep a respectable distance between them. She despised those mothers of only sons who refused to cut the links.

For a few days after her arrival in their home, everything had been sweetness and light. They’d given her a very nice room, there were flowers to welcome her, and Roy seemed genuinely pleased to have his mother under his roof. Her daughter-in-law, Nancy, although not effusive in her greeting, had spoken kindly enough and said she hoped Laura would be comfortable. Then came the night of the dinner party, ostensibly held for her as an introduction to their friends and Roy’s business colleagues. Laura was quite looking forward to a little gaiety; dressed and made herself up very carefully so that she should be a credit to her son and his wife.

Copyright 2012: Michael James Owen

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

 

This delightful excerpt was shared with me by Jesse Dee, who found this story (and over fifty others) in a box after her mother had passed away. Jesse Dee chose a select few to share with the world.  You can find the short story on Smashwords and follow Jesse Dee  at her blog.

Here’s the tale of her mother and how Jesse Dee happened upon the stories.

 

WritingMarjorie Grace Patricia Bridget Owen was born on September 11th 1911 in England and endured the bombardment of World War II. She was born out-of-wedlock with an Irish Lord for a father and a Russian princess as her mother. Although her life before working is somewhat sketchy, her career, as a major London department store clothing buyer, was long and interesting. Members of the Royal family were amongst some of her more famous clients. Marjorie found time to write many short stories and four novels ranging from romance to mystery. She did not attempt to publish any of her writings. We can only surmise that she wrote for the joy and did not wish to seek out any recognition or fame.

Marjorie passed away on March 28th 2004, after a very full life, at the age of ninety-three.

Mum had told Mike that she had written a couple of stories and let him read them some years ago. She expressed no interest in having them published at that time. He was never aware of the amount that she had written until she passed away. Mike, being an only child and having no Aunts or Uncles, is the sole heir to Marjorie’s estate. He discovered the box full of Mum’s writings on clearing her flat in England and took them back to the USA.  

As an avid reader Dee (daughter-in-law) became fascinated with Mum’s stories and books. All her writings were hand written on legal size paper or note books and on both sides of the paper. Dee began reading some of the short stories (there are fifty plus).   After reading a few, she was hooked and decided to attempt, the monumental task of transcribing them to computer.   Mum’s writing was not the easiest to read, however, Dee had set herself the challenge and was going to follow through. At first, her husband, Mike assisted her with the ‘translation’ of Mum’s hand writing. At times they became frustrated with each other and Mum. After a couple of stories, Dee became the expert, reading Mum’s writing and even improving her own typing skills and speed. As yet, Dee has not completed the task, with a few more stories to go and two novels, after several years of work.

Your Thighs Are Huge

I’m excited that Nothing Any Good can be utilized as a platform, not only for assisting writers throughout the writing process and promoting their works, but also as a platform to explore new works from up-and-coming authors. Despite what some might think, I don’t believe writing should always be done in a vacuum. Having a community with whom to share essays, short stories, and musings is a valuable commodity for writers. I’m pleased to bring you a heartfelt essay by Sarah Warman.

 

indie author running

The author–Sarah Warman–running a 5k.

 

Your Thighs Are Huge

by Sarah Warman

 

I was basking in the sun on the Delaware beaches. I had just completed my first 5k and had even won my age group. In between dips into the ocean, I found myself discussing my accomplishment to a man and woman who had also ran the race. I told them how I was so excited to complete my first 5k because I had been a sprinter in high school and at one time could have only dreamed of running three consecutive miles.

That’s when he blurted it out, “Your thighs are huge.”

I didn’t get upset or mad. I just felt perplexed. I didn’t know how to respond. For his part I think it was a foot-in-mouth, not-meant-to-offend comment. But it still left me feeling confused. No one had ever told me that my thighs were huge. It wasn’t like they were out of proportion with the rest of my body or I had to search the mall for pants wider in the thigh. Was it a compliment? I wasn’t sure.

 

“I’m worried that young girls will see those images and think; “I need to have the ‘thigh gap.'” I’m here to tell them, “You don’t need it.”

For a while there’s been a trend circulating the Internet called the “thigh gap.” This bothers me. It doesn’t bother me on a personal level, but it bothers me because I think about the young teenage girls that are bombarded with images of the “thigh gap” and other so called “ideals.” I was fortunate to spend my high school years without social media and constant reminders of what I should expect myself to be. I’m worried that young girls will see those images and think; “I need to have the ‘thigh gap.'” I’m here to tell them, “You don’t need it.”

As a teenager I was fortunate to have positive experiences playing team sports including volleyball and basketball and also running track. My coaches never cared about my weight. How high could I jump? How fast could I run? It was our performance that mattered, not our appearance. I never had any concern over my weight or my clothing size. The only thing I cared about was if I was improving at my sport. But usually when I was good at my sport, I felt good about myself.

I can’t remember the last time I had a “thigh gap” or if I ever had one. If I was standing on that beach today hearing about my “huge” thighs I’d probably have a response. I’d say how my thighs are one of my favorite body parts. I’d say how even when I gain weight they still look strong and in shape. I’d talk about how they enable me to walk stairs of an observation tower to enjoy a wonderful view. I’d mention how they could walk for miles without getting tired or even squat over one hundred pounds. I would add how they have carried me over 26miles without collapsing and gave me more confidence than I ever knew I could have. I would say they make me feel grateful and proud, and that’s something no one will ever make me feel bad about.

 

 

This essay originally appeared August 15, 2014 on the Huffington Post.

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

Indie Author

Photograph taken by Andrew Warman

About the Author

Sarah Warman grew up in Southwestern Pennsylvania, raised by her parents who met in the steel mills of Pittsburgh. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering Technology she moved to the eastern shore of Maryland so she could take walks on the beach whenever she pleased. After spending five years as a migrant, Sarah and her husband returned to their native Pittsburgh where they reside with their rescued cat. Her writing has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thought Catalog and her personal blog, Lunges, Long Runs and Lattes. She recently self published two ebooks including a book of essays entitled, Don’t Forget to Write and a short story entitled Seeking Vegas.

 

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