Thursday, March 24, 2011

Just Landed a New Book Deal

My previous post promised some big news. Well, I just inked a book deal for my second novel, DEAD OF WINTER. It's been a long journey since I published my first novel, SHADOWS IN THE MIST, five years ago. My World War II supernatural horror novel has done well, publishing first as a trade paperback, then as a mass paperback through Berkley/Penguin, then as a hardback in Austria and Germany under the title Schattenkrieger. Now, it is still selling as an ebook for Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook.

DEAD OF WINTER is a horror novel I started researching and writing back in 2006 and finished the winter of 2009. It sat in limbo for a little over a year before it found a home with Samhain Publishing. I'm thrilled to be working with legendary horror editor Don D'Auria and I'm eager to get my second novel out to all the readers who've been asking, "When's your next book coming out?" Well, now it's very soon. I'll announce the release date as soon as my publisher has set one.

In the mean time, you can read an excerpt of DEAD OF WINTER at my fiction blog DARK LUCIDITY.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Zen of Writing

A writer responded to my previous article “Dealing with Distractions.” What happens if the kind of family distractions are not external noises like children playing or romping around but the internal kind that sticks within you and rubs you uncomfortably and you can't seem to shake it off at that moment? You want it out of your system because you know it distracts that peaceful state within that makes you want to write? I'd like to think that professional writers too have internal disturbances -- what do you to not let it get in the way of your writing?

Honestly, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't have something internal pulling at me to do this or do that instead of sit at my computer and write. I have a few approaches in handling these gremlins. First, I meditate and see if all I need to do is quiet the mind for a little bit. If there's something that really has to be done, like pay bills that day or do a task for someone, then I'll take care of business.

I've gotten in the habit of dedicating a block of hours early in the morning to write. I usually get up before everyone in the house. It's too early to call anyone and no one calls me (because I turn off the phone.) So I have peace and quiet in which to work, and I don't feel obligated to talk to anybody or do anything for anyone. It's 100% Me Time.

During my morning hours (5:00 a.m. - 8:00 a.m.) there's very little to distract me. All the business that I need to take care of that day can be handled after 8:00 or noon, depending how long my writing schedule is that day. If there's still too many nagging thoughts breaking my concentration, I'll go back to meditating or do some yoga. It's all just mental noise anyway, and breathing and stretching quiets things down. The key is training your brain to be a habitual writer, so that when it's time to sit down and write you can focus and get into the zone. If someone can't focus at all, then I would recommend getting coaching from a personal coach trained in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). I'd have them guide me through some closed-eye exercises that help your mind create more resources around being focused and more relaxed when the time comes for you to sit down and write. Productivity is all about getting yourself into a zen state.

Dealing with Distractions

A writer who was having too many family distractions asked me, "Have you ever just had to get away somewhere to write?"

Yes, I would say my best writing happens when I take some time off and go on a brief writing sabbatical. Anywhere from a three-day weekend to five days, whatever time I can afford to take off from my business. I have a friend's cabin in the woods I escape to. Or I housesit for people who are traveling. If I can afford to rent a room somewhere, then I'll do that, too. The investment in myself is well worth it. Other places to escape to are the library, coffee shops, a friend's house while they are out. As a writer it is important to create a space of solitude to write. I have lived with roommates and I have lived with a girlfriend and her children. I told them that writing is part of my career, and they have given me space to write in my office without disturbing me. They know that when I leave for a few days to write, it is because getting my book done is important. When there are a lot of family activities going on that make writing difficult during the day and evening, I wait until everyone's asleep and write then, either staying up till 2:00 a.m. or getting up at 5:00 a.m. I prefer mornings, because I'm most creative after waking up. With 3-4 hours of focused writing, I can really move my story along.

What do you do when you get stuck, I mean really stuck and can't seem to push through?

If you are feeling stuck, then the best thing to do is take some kind of action--ask a family member to take over your responsibilities for a few days and get away to write. If you are constantly sacrificing your needs for others, then you run the risk of being a martyr. And this doesn't help anybody. It creates an unspoken tension for everyone in the house. Your needs are just as important as your family's. If you truly are a writer, and publishing novels is your dream, then you making time to write is just as important as everything else you do. Share your goals with your family. Hopefully they will be supportive and give you the space or help to write. Even if not everyone supports your choice to make time for yourself to write, then that's okay. Give yourself time to write anyway. Every writer who has responsibility to other people deals with this challenge. The writers who succeed at finishing books, publishing, and building a career out of writing novels know that sometimes being selfish is okay. Writers have to be somewhat selfish to achieve writing books. Successful writers give blocks of time and attention to their loved ones and blocks of time and attention to their writing. Think of your book as just another child who needs your love and attention.

If you can enroll some help from a family member or friend, I highly recommend you get away from your current situation so you can breathe and get your book written. You will feel much better about yourself, your book, your life, and your career, and you will return to your loved ones feeling renewed and appreciative.

Brian Moreland is a published author who offers professional coaching to writers. Check out his services at

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

World Horror Convention 2011

I just signed up to attend the World Horror Convention in Austin, TX Apr 28-May 1, 2011

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Should You Continue Writing

A budding writer wrote: Do you think I should continue writing even though my parents don't want me to continue? They are always telling me that I have no future being a writer.

Yes, definitely continue writing if that's something YOU want to do. What your parents probably want is to make sure you find away to earn steady money so you can support yourself. Writers don't typically make a lot of money at first, so it's good to have a second career that you work while you write. For instance, I make my living as a video editor, editing TV commercials and documentaries. I also coach writers and do brainstorming sessions with them on their books. The novels I've written and published are now bringing in additional money, but I would have starved years ago had I relied solely on my writing to pay the bills. So, you should definitely find another career path that you love that pays you steady paychecks. And, if you really love writing, keep writing, no matter what other people think. My dad didn't understand my desire to be a writer. He didn't see how I could make money at it. But I kept writing because it is my #1 passion. It's my calling. It's why I am here on the planet. So I kept at the writing and now, after much success with selling my books internationally (I just landed my fourth book deal), my dad sees that as a writer you can make good money. Really great money. Eventually. Keep at it. Keep writing for you. It will pay off down the road.