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Cover reveal: If Sin Dwells Deep

By auspicious happenstance, my 100th blog post coincides with another milestone: the completion of my next book’s cover.

Behold!

If Sin Dwells Deep will be published as a paperback and for Kindle on Oct. 2, 2018. The Kindle version will be available for preorder at the end of the month IS AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER NOW!

Here’s the back-cover text to tide you over until then:

Even good girls have secrets.

When straight-laced Allison sleeps, the rebellious goddess Syn wakes. Having a fling in the dreamscape may seem like harmless fun, but when a sadistic predator learns her true identity, the fantasy begins to bleed into real life.

If Sin Dwells Deep—a parallel novel to If Souls Can Sleep—exposes the hidden world of dream drifters and explores the war between gifted government agents and those who would use their abilities to corrupt life, death, and that which lies beyond.

Because I’m up to my elbows in pre-release book marketing tactics (which will likely include penning some guest posts), I’ve elected to use the rest of this article to highlight some of my favorite posts from this blog.

Without further ado, here’s my Top 10 blog posts…so far:

10. Celebrating a writing milestone? Listen up!

About three years ago, I created a soundtrack for a novel I was working on. The songs all—directly or indirectly—tie into the plot and characters of If Sin Dwells Deep. (Available soon!)

9. It’s a…business!

This short but significant post announced the birth of One Million Words LLC, my indie publishing company. The business, now 2½ years old, resembles a toddler today: lots of unexpected fun and requiring constant supervision.

8. How to make a person

No, this isn’t sex education. I once used this blog to share writing tips, and this post featured a series of interview questions to get to know your characters better and transform them from two-dimensional ideas to full-fledged human beings.

(Pro tip: I recently used these same questions to flesh out my new D&D character.)

7. Why sci-fi and fantasy?

I get asked this question a lot.

6. What every writer needs

Spoiler: it’s an audience. I followed this post up with three others related posts: What else a writer needs to succeed (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). While I think this series could be helpful to other writers, I’m including it here because it also gives readers a glimpse into a writer’s journey (and psyche).

5. The Good, The Bad, and The Ungrammatical

The odds are I’ll never make a video game about grammar, but what I love about this post is the reminder that writing doesn’t always have to be a serious and that writers should always have a dream or two in their back pockets.

4. ‘Who is your book about?’

I composed a “Meet the Renegades” blurb as far back as fall 1997, when I was drafting the first chapters of what would eventually become Rebels and Fools. That guide was meant for the English instructor reviewing my chapters for an independent study class. It was with great excitement that I introduced the rest of the world to Klye Tristan and the gang.

3. Friends and family of writers, beware

Another common question from readers: where do you get your ideas from? The answer: just about everywhere, including the people closest to us.

2. Why writers groups still matter

I wrote this treatise on the importance of writers groups more than five years ago, and I still believe strongly in the message. In fact, a fellow Allied Authors member and I tackled this very topic on the Read.Write.Repeat. podcast, which will air later this month.

1. Storytelling can take many forms

Predating my life as a writer, I told my stories by other means. Before the cast of The Renegade Chronicles made it to the page, they were LEGO minifigs. As a nod to my humble roots, I transcribed the characters from If Souls Can Sleep into the same medium, bringing my fiction full circle.

I’d like to thank all of my readers over the years. I hope you’ll enjoy not only my next book, but also many more blog posts to come.

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Reblog: Pantsers vs. Plotters

Once upon a time, the stories poured from my fingertips.

Back in the early days of my Quest for Publication, I was equipped with naught but a trusty Pilot pen, a five-subject Mead notebook, and a plethora of ideas. Eventually, I upgraded to a keyboard and computer.

After transcribing tome after tome of intertwining fantasy storylines from my neat (read: girly) handwriting to single-spaced Times New Roman, I typed up additional supplemental materials. I sketched out maps, chronicled centuries of history, invented religions, drafted character profiles, and crafted the very rules of the universe.

I was world building, damn it, and every fantasy author worth his sword needs to know his setting inside out.

I wrote this blog post for nyareads.com. Read the entire post here.

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Living (and writing) the dream

Hi, my name is David. Remember me? I used to write articles about writing on this website.

I’ll spare you the clichéd “Sorry I haven’t blogged in a while, but I’ve been busy” post. (Snore.) I’ve never met a writer who wasn’t woefully short on time or an author who boasted copious opportunities to type the hours away. Why should my situation be any different?

When a guy’s calendar sports more words per page than his manuscript, he has to prioritize. So even though I acknowledge that marketing is important, at the end of the day, I’m a fiction writer. If I’m going to produce a novel amidst real life’s diversions and obligations, fiction must come first.

Therefore, I make no apologies for my long absence here…though I’m hopeful there will be fewer in the future.

While I haven’t lost (much) sleep over a dearth of blog posts recently, I have succumbed to some tossing and turning due to a general lack of productivity—specifically, the slow rate of progress on the rewrite of my current novel, If Sin Dwells Deep.

I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that the “hour here, hour there” approach hasn’t been working too well. Yes, I know that some time—any time—is better than none and that the mark of a professional is being able to “turn it on” whenever the chance to write arises.

And maybe there are those out there who’d say I’m lucky to have had regular, if sparse, pockets of time allocated for writing each week. Indeed, some authors say spending a little time writing every day is the best approach.

Not for this writer…

At the risk of sounding ungrateful, the starting and stopping—or, rather, having to stop just when I was getting in the groove and then having to retrace my mental steps a few days later—was a recipe for frustration.

The Dreamer by Halfdan Egedius [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Dreamer by Halfdan Egedius [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Part of the problem, I realize, is the nature of my current manuscript. A lover of mind games, I tend to write books with complex plots, and the main focus of the rewrite of this particular novel is a redistribution of revelations. Even after an extensive period of planning and organization (in the form of an incredibly comprehensive scene-by-scene outline), it has proven difficult to keep track of what plot points have been shared when—and what new surprises should be sprinkled in next.

My story about dream drifters was becoming something of a nightmare.

Fortunately, my tale has a very happy ending. As of this week, I have taken on a new role at the website and marketing agency where I work, and my new schedule includes one day away from the office each week. So instead of seven one-hour stints, I’ll now have that same span all in one session to focus exclusively on my fiction (i.e., plowing through as much writing and editing as humanly possible).

The new schedule also afford me some additional pockets of time for fiction-related activities, such as industry research and, yes, blog updates. As if things couldn’t get any better, my new role at the agency focuses more on content: copywriting and editing, along with creative concepts, website population, search engine optimization, and website analytics.

No pinching, please. I don’t want to wake up!

Tuesday was my first “fiction-only” session, and I edited two and a half chapters—the equivalent of about half of a months’ work under the old stop-and-start paradigm. My original (self-imposed) deadline for getting If Sin Dwells Deep to my agent was December 31, 2015. I expect I’ll be able to do much better than that now.

Improving my pace not only moves up the timeline for finishing If Sin Dwells Deep, but also means I’ll be able to tackle other objectives sooner, including exploring the option of self-publishing The Renegade Chronicles, investing more time in marketing, and imagining new stories to tell.

New stories? Imagine that! I’ve been working on the first two books of the Soul Sleep Cycle, on and off, for nearly a decade. It’s difficult to wrap my mind around pursuing a new plot—difficult but delightful.

And, of course, I’m eager for the day I can use this blog to announce that Book 1 of the Soul Sleep Cycle (whichever novel turns out to be Book 1), has evolved from a pipe dream to a finished product available for purchase.

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It’s important to look back occasionally while on the long road

Yesterday morning, WordPress congratulated me on my blog’s third anniversary. There was even a fancy little trophy icon by the announcement.

Never mind that I hadn’t posted an article in nearly three months—or in this calendar year.

TrophyIt’s not that I had given up on One Million Words; I simply have prioritized the heavy editing/rewriting of my novel, If Sin Dwells Deep, over blogging. I knew I’d come back to this blog at some point, and I almost broke down last month and wrote the clichéd I’m-taking-a-break-but-stay-tuned! post to let all of my readers know that I’m still alive, but to be honest, I didn’t think anyone even noticed my silence.

After all, I know most (if not all) of my author’s Facebook page’s 85 “likers” on a personal level, so they’ve probably seen my non-writing-related comments on my other account. And the majority of my 58 followers on Twitter have hundreds, if not thousands, of other tweeters to fill their feeds each day.

Also, no one really reads this blog.

Well, that’s not entirely true. According to WordPress (the content management system upon which my website is built), I have 127 followers. Now, I can’t say with certainty that any of them actually read my posts (except those precious few who take time out of their busy schedules to comment on them), but they cared enough at one point to click the “Follow” button.

Delving into my site stats, I also find that there have been 357 comments over the past three years, and even if I estimate that half of those were mine (in reply to others’ comments), that still leaves more than 170 times someone read and replied.

While these aren’t big numbers compared to many, many other blogs, I take some solace in them nonetheless. I’m a big fan of measurable goals. I’m also a progress junky. Every now and then, I need to take stock of what I’ve accomplished, even if they are small successes.

Because most of the time, I’m terrible at acknowledging my accomplishments, especially modest ones. Every silver lining has a storm cloud and all that…

For example, while reviewing my early notes on my current project, I noticed a timestamp that caught me off guard. My very first ideas about this novel—the sequel (maybe) to If Souls Can Sleep—was dated 7/14/10.

Sweet sassy molassy, I’ve been working on this book for more than four and a half years?!

What’s worse is that I still have a ways to go with the editing, which means it could end up being five years or more from inception to completion.

To prevent myself from hyperventilating, I reminded myself that I tackled a number of other projects between July 2010 and March 2015: starting and populating this website, editing and publishing a children’s chapter book with my wife, writing a new short story (“Ghost Mode”), attempting to get that and another short story published. Oh, and real life happened somewhere in there too.

Perhaps it was a bit masochistic of me, but after seeing how long I’ve been working on Book 2, I opened my notes file for Book 1, did the math, and discovered that that novel took me four and a half years to plan, write, rewrite, proof, and submit to my agent. That means, when all is said and done, I likely will have pumped close to a decade into the first two books of The Soul Sleep Cycle.

And I still have at least one more book to go!

Then there are the four sword-and-sorcery novels I wrote before diving into a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid world of The Soul Sleep Cycle. Add in the experimental children’s book, and I’ve written seven novels. None of them are available for purchase.

I doubt there’s a word to describe the combination of emotions I experience when I consider the situation. I’m at once impressed with what I’ve done, amazed at how much of my life I’ve dedicated to this project, and disappointed that I don’t have more to show for it. “Impressamazappointed”?

If nothing else, the fact that I’ve put so much time and energy into my fiction without a significant return on investment indicates I have the thick skin and tenacity it takes to make it as a writer.

Or maybe it just proves that I am a masochist, after all…

Some aspects of my writing are quantifiable. As for this blog, I can easily conjure up this statistic: Over the past three years, I have published 51 posts (not including this one). And while that’s not a ton of content compared to some other sites out there, that’s 51 posts more than I would have written if I hadn’t overcome my prejudice of the medium and decided to add my perspective on the topic of fiction writing to the Web.

Other attributes are not so easily quantified, such as the satisfaction of transforming an idea in my head to a full-fledged story on the page or the frustration and guilt I feel when I go too long without a writing session.

If this were only a numbers game, I wouldn’t have much to show for my 17 years of being a dedicated writer. But every experience within that span has made me a better writer and wiser when it comes to the publishing world.

Were I to keep my eyes fixed solely on the destination, which always seems just beyond the horizon, I probably would have swerved off of this wonderful and terrifying road by now. But even when I’m enjoying the journey for the journey’s sake, I know I need to look back at the milestones I’ve passed along the way, if only to remind myself of the distance I’ve already crossed.

Even if that reminder comes in the form of a cheesy trophy graphic.

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4 reasons why fiction writers struggle with marketing

Please excuse me while I make some excuses.

You see, I’ve read 3,009 articles about how fiction writers need to become savvy marketers and self-promoters if they want their books to succeed commercially, and I fear I’m becoming a convert. (This very blog is evidence of that.)

Many of these how-to editorials cover common ground, but every now and then I discover one that contains tidbits I hadn’t uncovered before, as was the case with “10 Things Authors Ought to Know about Book Marketing.”

And even though writing advice is often rife with contradictions, one theme rears its draconian head again and again when it comes to writers and marketing: you should start your marketing strategy well in advance of your book’s publication.

Blocks of Swiss cheese

No time or interest in marketing your fiction? How about some cheese with that whine? | “Swiss cheese cubes”. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Even if you don’t have anything else published yet.

Despite the chicken-and-egg paradox this presents—how can I get fans when I don’t yet have anything for them to be fans of?—I can appreciate the proactive approach presented in articles like “When should you start marketing your book?”

With so many marketing tips for fiction writers out there, I’ve come to a couple of deducations:

  1. Self-promotion must be important.
  2. Writers, apparently, aren’t inherently good at it.

But why don’t fiction writers approach marketing with more gusto? Read on.

Disclaimer: These are not universal facts about the fascinating and complex animal that is the Earth-dwelling author. They are possible truths about most fiction writers…or some fiction writers…well, at least, one fiction writer.

Excuse #1: We don’t have time.

Just about every writer I’ve met wishes he or she had more time for fiction writing. So when it comes to finishing that short story or meeting a novel’s daily word-count quota, that must come first, and writing blog posts, participating in forums, and engaging in other social media inevitably fall to the back burner.

Or off of the stove entirely.

On the other hand, I’ve come across very successful bloggers who seem to prioritize their marketing strategy above their fiction, periodically lamenting about their lack of progress on the latter. I suppose procrastination takes many forms, including other potentially productive, writing-related activities.

Certainly, there’s a balance to be maintained when it comes to creating a writing schedule—not this!—and even small steps can reap benefits.

Another thing to consider is that while promotional writing and fiction writing share some commonalities—including the arrangement of words and punctuation—the two disciplines have significantly different skill sets. Just because someone can crank out a novel, it doesn’t mean he or she innately understands or will excel at marketing writing. (Just ask anyone who has ever reduced a 100,000-word manuscript down to a single-sentence synopsis in order to hook an agent or editor.)

Learning how to promote one’s writing and oneself as an author takes time too.

Excuse #2: We don’t like talking about ourselves.

If fiction writers thought they, as individuals, were particularly interesting, they would be writing memoirs, not novels. Self-promotion (especially if done heavy-handedly) can sound an awful lot like bragging.

Fiction writers might sprinkle autobiographical details throughout their plots and into their people, but it’s far more comfortable to couch personal thoughts and emotions in imaginary scenarios.

While putting a piece of fiction out into the world does open us up to criticism, how much more vulnerable is an author when he or she puts him- or herself out there…as him- or herself?

It’s one thing to weather the blow when a reader bashes our characters and quite another to endure venom directed at our own character.

Excuse #3: We’re a little antisocial.

Writing can be a very solitary experience, and I suspect the craft attracts more than its fair share of introverts.

Think about it. We don’t need anyone else when it comes to thinking up ideas, performing our finger exercises at the keyboard, or tinkering until we’ve hammered out a full-fledged novel.

(Which isn’t to say that there aren’t advantages to letting others assist in the process, such as joining a writers group. Also, if you want to go from being a dabbler to a bona fide published author, you’re going to have to depend on others somewhere along the path from final draft to sale-worthy book.

These days, marketing—when done well—requires a certain level of networking. However, we authors generally prefer one-way narration to two-way conversations. And if we are engaging with the masses, we find that we must become “fans” (or “friends” or “followers”) of others in order for them to even think about being “fans” of ours.

One hopes that there are other motivations and rewards for networking with other writers and readers of your genre (other than just future sales), yet there is something inherently predatory when it comes to joining online communities, in particular, with the ulterior motive of building a fan base—even when you do it “right.”

Plus it can be difficult not to take it personally when forays into the marketing arena don’t pan out—such as when an insightful and time-consuming blog post doesn’t garner any comments. (HINT HINT!)

Perhaps worst of all, networking blurs the lines between author and audience as well as creator and creation, when we really just want to be appreciated our work. Because at the end of the day…

Excuse #4: We want our writing to speak for itself.

Yes, it’s naïve, but I believe there’s a part of every fiction writer that thinks if he or she writes something wonderful, a handful of people will read it and love it, and then news will spread faster than a virus in a zombie flick.

Sadly, that’s almost never how it works, and even though the popularity of self-publishing has put an awful lot of power in writers’ hands, that doesn’t necessarily diminish the challenges of getting your story to the reader. Even authors who go with traditional publishers have to pitch in when it comes to promotion if they want their books to get noticed.

With an ever-increasing amount of competition for readers’ time and transactions, there is no shortage of other writers who are trying to do exactly what you’re doing.

“If you write it, they will come” just doesn’t work.

No more excuses…

Even if there’s some merit in these excuses, it doesn’t change the fact that marketing one’s fiction is essential.

If we ignore the business side of writing, we might as well keep our manuscripts stored safely in a box under our bed or on a hard drives and forget about publication altogether. A book that isn’t nurtured by a deliberate marketing plan—or, at least, exposed to some occasional sunlight—is bound to wither.

What’s the best way to approach marketing? There are at least 3,009 articles out there to answer that question, but I’ll add this: when it comes to the challenges of marketing, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach—not so unlike fiction writing.

Good thing you’re so darn creative!

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What else a writer needs to succeed (Part 2)

Missed Part 1?  Here’s a quick recap:

  • Yes, a successful writer must come up with creative ideas and adeptly wield words—a master of the craft of writing—but other essential attributes sometimes get ignored.
  • For example, writers of all skill levels ought to grow thick skin.
  • No matter how well-written your manuscript or book is, some people won’t like it.  Some might even hate it and voice their opinions publicly.  Deal with it.
  • Constructive criticism is a gift.  Make use of what you can and ignore the rest.
  • Resist the urge to lapse into despair if you get a negative reaction or a lambasting review.
  • And defy the urge to defend your work.  Don’t tell your readers they are wrong.
beached jellyfish

Jellyfish can be graceful creatures, but outside of their comfort zones, the lack of spine proves to be a major disadvantage—not so unlike writers. | Photo via Wikimedia Commons

At first glance, the picture I painted of the well-adjusted writer might resemble some spineless creature, smiling timidly as his work is ripped apart.

But even if writers tend to absorb ideas from the world around them like a sponge, that doesn’t mean they should lack backbones like said sea creatures.  In fact, if there were classified ads for novelists, I’m pretty sure the following phrase would be prominently featured:

Invertebrates need not apply

I stand by my advice that serious writers should keep their mouths shut and ears open when it comes to feedback (positive or negative).  So much about art is subjective.  Anyway, arguing your point isn’t likely going to make the masses suddenly adore your book.

In all likelihood, vehemently defending your work will only make you look like a jerk.

Ultimately, your story will have to speak for itself.  However, keeping a healthy distance between creator and creation doesn’t equate to spinelessness; on the contrary, it suggests there is a strong backbone supporting the aforementioned thick skin.

Because, at the end of the day, a writer does have to defend her decisions, if only to herself.  When rejection rears its ugly head, when years of hard work doesn’t seem to be paying off, when it feels like the rest of the world is rallied against you—that’s when a backbone is needed most.

Even if a solid support system is in place, there will be times when a writer must be his own cheerleader.  He will have to muster the energy and enthusiasm to press on even if his last blog post attracted only a handful of readers or yet another agent passed on representing the manuscript he sacrificed so much to produce.

Without a backbone, the tag-team combo of inevitable obstacles and increasing doubt will reduce a writer to a puddle of goo.

A backbone also combats the reclusive tendencies that plague many writers.  Let’s be honest: the act of writing is potentially isolating at best and incredibly private at worst.  Some of us choose this artistic expression—as opposed to, say, acting—because we can do it whenever we feel like it…on our own terms…behind closed doors…in the safety of our own homes…

But unless you’re content with being a mere dabbler (not that there’s anything wrong with that), you’re going to have to put yourself out there.  Sure, you could go the Emily Dickinson route and isolate yourself, but I’d argue that an author’s fiction benefits from many and varied life experiences.

Anyway, if you want the world to embrace your work—while you’re still alive—you have to take active steps to be a part of that world.

Even if you’re not a card-carrying risk taker, writers must embrace some measure of extroversion if they are going to get the word out about their book.  I don’t care if you’ve been picked up by a major publishing house or are single-handedly peddling your self-published novel: Your biggest promoter will always be you.

Maybe that means joining a few online forums filled with readers of your genre or networking at national conferences.  Even if you’d rather spend all of your free time fashioning fantastic fiction—or if you’ve always hated blogs—today’s writers know that self-marketing comes with the territory.

With some extra layers of skin and a strong spine, you’ll be well-equipped to step boldly into the wild frontier that is modern publishing.

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What every writer needs

Someone once said, “A writer is not a writer without an audience.”  I don’t necessarily agree, but I will say this: A serious writer will not be satisfied until he or she finds one.

In one of my college writing courses, I had to read a book the craft of creative nonfiction.  I vaguely recall how the author harped on the importance of selecting a cause you’re passionate about and then presented a very formulaic approach to making your case.

While struggling through page after page, I kept thinking, “Nothing about creative nonfiction seems very creative.”

I was a purist, you see, a storyteller whose tales were rooted firmly in fiction.  I wanted to write novels, get my books on the shelves at Barnes & Noble, and maybe sign an autograph or two.  Newspapers, magazines, journals—these media interested me not at all.  And blogs?  Don’t even get me started.

Fast forward a decade or so, and I find myself in my ninth year of writing for The (Fond du Lac) Reporter.  Having served a few years as a true journalist—mostly focusing on features, not hard news—I now write a lifestyles column for Sunday editions as a freelancer.  After working full-time for the newspaper, I went to the Dark Side (media relations and marketing), authoring feature stories for a university magazine and many more articles for the school’s online publication.  These days, I regularly contribute to this blog and another blog for my current day job.

On average, I spend at least as much time, if not more, writing creative nonfiction than fiction.

How did this happen?  For starters, I’ve been fortunate enough to find paying gigs where I can leverage my writing skills.  Don’t we all want to get paid to do what we love—even if it’s not exactly like what we planned?  Remembering next to nothing from that college textbook on creative nonfiction, I took would I could from my courses on fiction, particularly my solid grasp on grammar, and learned the rest along the way.  Trial and error, patient colleagues, and a fair amount of reverse engineering were my tutors.

I like to think that my foundation in fiction translates to more engaging copywriting, but the truth is it works both ways: Working with editors in the realms of journalism, PR, and marketing have made my prose tighter; my syntax, more succinct and impactful.  In short, writing on a daily basis—and on deadline—has made me a better writer, regardless of whether that story is based on real events or borne of my imagination.

Perhaps more importantly, creative nonfiction has given me a crucial ingredient that I would not have had otherwise: readers.

Truth be told, I don’t get a lot of online comments for my newspaper column, but I know people read it because friends, relatives, and complete strangers mention various topics I’ve tackled.  Even on the occasions when people disagree with my stance on an issue, I’m honored they’ve taken the time to read what I have to say—even more so when they take the time to chime in.

And at some point along the way, I’ve gone from believing I’m a good writer to knowing it.  I have creative nonfiction to thank for that.

Every writer who wants to be published ought to keep the proverbial reader in mind when honing his or her craft.  But having real, actual readers makes a huge difference.  The traffic on this blog is modest at best, but when someone takes the time to subscribe or comment, it’s incredibly rewarding and motivating.  A “like” on Facebook lets me know I’m not wasting my time.

That’s something my fiction has yet to yield.  My early sword-and-sorcery novels garnered no interest from agents or editors; neither did a vignette I wrote in college, the only piece of short fiction I ever bothered to send out to magazines.  With one of my novels under lengthy consideration by a major publisher, I find myself increasingly eager to share my fiction with the world.

Barnes & Noble might not be around by the time my novels see the light of day.  And I no longer fantasize (much) about autographing the inside of my book covers.  Getting paid to do what I love—in my genre of choice—will be a fringe benefit.

What I really crave are readers.

Self-publishing sounds less and less like a dirty word as time goes on.  Nevertheless, I understand that my best shot at getting the most readers is going the traditional route.  Which is why I’m tipping my toe in the murky waters of fiction publishing and sharing a certain short story with a select few—my first “fans.”

I’ve posted the story behind a password at https://david-michael-williams.com/viral/.  If you want to join the elite ranks of my fiction readers, send me an email at onemillionwords@hotmail.com, and I’ll send you the password.

(Why the cloak and dagger?  I’m considering submitting this short story to magazines and/or other appropriate venues, and I don’t want to preempt publication elsewhere by technically self-publishing the story here.  Hence, these steps to keep it relatively private.)

Even if only one or two people take the time to read it, it’ll be worth my effort.

Meanwhile, as I work and wait for my fiction to take off, I feel privileged to have other channels—my creative nonfiction—to connect with readers.

—Editor’s note: what else do writers need to succeed?  Find out here.

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