All posts by Maynard

Learning: All the advice

Copyright reserved by E.A. Maynard 2020 ©

Write with wine, edit with coffee. Don’t let a page stay blank. Know your audience. Outline everything and fill in the blanks when you write. And the list of advice can go on and on and on.

When I got serious about writing a novel, I went into information overload. I searched every article about writing and listen to as many podcasts on the topic as I could.

What I found that I spent more time trying to learn about writing, than I did writing. The worse part of it, lots of people would contradict each other or even themselves.

One day I heard an interview with an author about how they learned to write. What he said I took to heart. The truth is, I don’t remember who it was that said it.

What I do remember is the fact that he said he got good by writing. He joked about writing little short stories, blogs, and a chapter for a book that would not go any were.

He even joked about writing letters to people. he made little stories within the letters. He just looked for ways to write. Then he found his story while writing.

At the time of the interview, he had a few books in the series that got him popular. It was interesting to listen to how he found his topics. He talked about the news and about how he searches the web for strange stories.

Then it dawns on me. I was not sure where I got my ideas from. There are all the stories I read and listen to. There are also the travels I have done and the things I have seen. But I think my first story come from my friends. We would talk about a lot of different kinds of what if events. I don’t know if you know of these kinds of conversations.

It starts with a simple question. An example would be asking what the world would be like if people could fly. This is not meant to be like flying in a plane, but like birds or superman would. It is a silly question, but what if you could go from location to location without cars, trains, or planes. So where would you go? Would people be more spread apart? What would the world be like?

This kind of thinking would leave to more questions. Some years have passed since I have been lucky enough to have one of these conversations. Then one day I started to wonder a few things and I started asking what if. Mind you it was to my cat.

She was not very good at moving the conversation forward but was a great listener. Yes, I know it was mostly just me talking to myself. That is ok, talking to my cat got me started with a story. Now I have two novels out from starting that thinking. You can read either book Bearman or Country Secrets.

Now, as I have heard from several other authors, this is what worked for me. Not what worked for me is guaranteed to work for you. This in one trick I used to get started and form a concept, is a simple entertaining brainstorming technique.

My point of telling you about what I did it to say look for stories everywhere. Mine came to me in a one-bedroom apartment with a glass of bourbon and my cat. It can come to you while walking down the street or crying in your beer at a bar. Either way, find what works for you. Just be ready to take down some notes when your idea comes to you.

The blank page

Copyright reserved by E.A. Maynard 2020 ©

There are many reasons to write something. Sometimes you need to write a single word in a text. Other times a few lines in an email will get your point across.

It is not always easy to know what to write in an email. You know what you want to say. You know why you need to say it. It’s just figuring out those few words you need to make sure you’re understood.

You would think it comes easier for some people, but I have watched experts type an email about what they know better than those around them. The emails have been rewritten over and over and over again.

I believe it comes from the passion of wanting to share your knowledge, of sharing what you know and putting it down in a way it draws others into wanting more.

I hear how some people will write a chapter for their book in an hour or two. I spend a week or two with the time I have. I personally don’t understand how they do it. On the other hand, I don’t know if what they write is of any interest to their readers.

The phrase of a blank page is a writer’s worst enemy is very true. But when you get started and there is motion to what you’re trying to say, the next word does become easier to find. The action of the characters starts to take shape. Finally it is almost as though you are no longer thinking about what you want to say as it just starts flowing.

Before you know it, you have written a heart racing scene or gave more insight to why the reader loves the bad boy selling drugs and raising hell. Just like in my Bearman series.

I remember writing a scene in Country Secrets that pulled me in. I wanted to know what happened next. When the character Scott Bearman had to act quickly and think even quicker when his right hand man almost was killed, the thought of what all could have happened made it exciting for me to write.

What to write is a tough starting question. Deciding how it started is tricky. Then once you get going,the writing becomes exciting. It just really sucks when you need to get started again.

One thing I do is follow some advice I heard from another author. “Stop in mid thought. That way when you come back, you just need to finish the thought. Then you are off and writing.”

Enjoy your reading adventures.

The Author’s adventure

Copyright reserved by E.A. Maynard 2020 ©

A common author’s phrase that I hear writers say is that ” Writers are the biggest readers.”  They say that writers have to read more than most people in order to be a good writer.

A problem I have with that thought process is that not everyone has time to sit and read five books a week.  Most writers I have gotten to know work full time to pay their bills and might have a family to care for and spend time with.

What I think is more of an accurate statement would be that writers take in stories more than others.  I see writers talk about audio-books, and drama podcasts.

Let’s not forget about the movies, TV shows, and short videos on social media. These are just the start of how stories get to authors.  Everyone has these options and some will spend all day listening to stories, sometimes while working their day job or driving.

What tends to be the difference from what I have heard, is not how many stories a person takes in, it’s more about how they had taken in the stories.

I have listened to the same audio-books four times before.  I can tell you almost every bit of Atlas Shrug and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.  Of course there is a reason that I listen to these stories’ multiple times.

First, there is the entertainment that comes from a good story. Finding yourself in a world that brings the danger or an adventure through an unknown world, can take me away from a world full of negative issues.

The next layer for me is learning the little secrets hidden in the story and the little details that were missed when you focused on the overall story.  I can tell you that Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere has numerous little details that will catch you on the second or third pass.

Finally comes the theme of the story. This is the lesson the writer seems to be trying to have you reach.  I have read some books that try to beat the theme or moral of the story until you cannot stand it any longer.

Whereas the classic Beauty and the Beast is a good story that teaches a lesson without it being blatantly said.  Now depending on the version you take in, will depend on the lesson.  The original version is different than what Walt Disney put out.

It might sound odd, but the way you take in a story can change the way you think of it.  An example is when I first read Dante’s Inferno.  I loved it and the strange dreams it gave me.  It was the first book I let take me away. I walked through Hell.

Then years later, I saw a show that was an adaptation of the Inferno. I hated it because it was so different than the book’s writing that I loved.  I also played a video game that was called Dante’s Inferno.  It was a good game that loosely followed the book.

But another couple years passed and I had not reread Dante’s Inferno, so I got the audio book.  You might have guessed it. I hated it.  The monotone that the narrator told the story gave no emotion or inflection of the way I took the book in. It felt like finding an old “B” movie from years ago.  You like the story, but the way the story is being told turns you away listening.

My point is that the more stories that you can read, the more worlds and adventures you can go on.  I can’t count all the stories out there, and I even list some on my newsletter, including a few Indies Books.  There are a never ending list of stories for the readers(and listeners) out there.

Understanding the stories is more than just getting through a story.  You need to find stories that take you away from where you are and into new worlds and thoughts.  Learn what opens you up to a new insight that grabs your interest.  Read that book or put on headphones, and go to spaces to see other’s lives.  The choice is yours.  Embrace the author’s life of taking in all the stories you can and just enjoy the written adventure.

All Words are Bad

Copyright reserved by E.A. Maynard 2020 ©

My life revolves around using words. Before I leave home, I am on the phone talking to my crews or clients, as well as talking with my family during the daily routine of getting my son ready for day care.

In the evenings when I’m home, there is a lot of talking and interaction with my family. Once they are asleep, I work on writing. I understand very well that everyone listens to my words for various reasons. My family listens to me because they love me, most days. My crews listen to me because their paychecks depend on doing their work accurately.

My clients listen to me for information that affects their business’s success. They hear the things I say that are meant to be helpful to them. Of course, If I say something they don’t like, then I know about that very quickly.

For the most part, the people I speak with daily have thick skin and
understand not to take a joke as anything more than a joke. It is not that way with everyone though.

People nowadays are easily angered by what is said. Someone says something that is true and has facts to support it, yet that no longer matters. There is a mob of people who will go after to cancel someone’s life because they don’t like the facts and refuse to have open minds.

As an Indie author and a working stiff, it is not likely someone will come after me. At least not yet. But wait, there is more.

Being a new author and learning to grow in my skills, I do need to be aware about this trend to be offended, as much as anyone else. What I write today could offend someone ten years down the road. I could be saying how much I love my family, or how I will stand to protect them.

In ten years, those comments could bother someone that has no perception of my values and isn’t capable of talking to anyone without making others feel uncomfortable around them. That person may have a family and even their parents think they are creepy and keep a six-foot social distance from them. That was before the COVID thing.

Now I am not going to change my views because of those creepy people or those who follow what a mob tells them. I know facts are scary, but it will be ok.

Now to my writing. In Bearman: A Road of no Return, I have a black
guy as a criminal. I know how bad that is. I also have everyone as a criminal and race, color or national origin are not a consideration.
Nonetheless, I have a black guy in a bad light, and it could offend someone. They may go out and try to get people to stop buying my books, only based on their biases.

So, when I write, I have to make a choice. First, I have to decide if I am going to worry about what might offend someone. With enough deep thought between the time it takes me to fill a wine glass, I say no, I will not.

Next, I wonder if I should worry about what people are offended by in today’s current society. That one is easy. No. As I write this, people are bothered by everything. I can’t control how each person feels. But I can continue to write stories that people like to read and who become a fan of my books.

Words are not bad. Words are what drive ideas and emotions. Words in a book are compelling and meant to draw the reader into the story line and sometimes even to dream. Who knows what will cause a young person to dream. Those dreams will lead them to break out of whatever is holding them back and then may go on to become something great.

An author could take words that could scare the reader and keep them on the edge of their seat. By the end, the reader of the book could see a way to face fear and stand up to the monster that is trying to do you in.

Another author could write an epic fantasy about exploring space to find untold beauty and destruction. The power of those stories gives some readers ideas to create new inventions. They could change the world. They could even be one of the crew members someday flying off to explore other solar systems, then galaxies, and then who knows where after that.

My point is simple. If we keep allowing others to tell us what is not allowed to be said, the monsters will be in charge without a hero to fight them. The future will be limited to what we have now. The past will no longer be able to inspire us to build a greater future.

Writing a Prequel

Copyright reserved by E.A. Maynard 2020 ©

Let me start with saying that I write in a style called “Pantsing”. I generally write with an idea in mind and very few notes. I will make notes as I go so I remember who is who and doing what. Unlike others who write with the whole story outlined and everything figured out before they start, I don’t do that.

Part of the enjoyment for me is to see where the story will take me. That is until I wrote a prequel to my first book. I was asked about how the main character in Country Secrets got into into selling drugs. Then others asked about general events mentioned in the story. Since I had the story fresh in my mind, I decided to write Bearman: A Road of No Return.

When I sat down and started to put down some words, it dawned on me. I realized I couldn’t just fully let the story go where it wanted to go. I knew I had to have some events happen. What felt odd was how I knew the general ending. At first it was like my hands were tied. I was not just letting it go and I got stuck on chapter one.

Without an outline to refer to, I decided I would make a check list. It was not a long list, but things that I knew had to happen. From there, I didn’t feel restrained any more. I should say not totally restrained. The first chapter was done before I knew it and I found my start.

Then one thing led to another and another and the story of Bearman was filling the pages. I planned to only write ten chapters for Bearman: A Road of No Return. A story to offer a few answers to things people asked me about Country Secrets.

As I wrote, more details than I planned for come out and gave more life to the people in the story. Some times it felt as I was not telling a story, but recording one. Then came those moments that I looked at my list.

Looking at the list at first would stop me in my tracks. The question of how would this fit into the story would fill my mind. It was no more about telling the story, but forcing in something. What the hell am I doing would be the next question that filled my head.

I started to read about what other people did to get past writers block. Of course it had to be writers block, right? Well no. What I figured out I was doing was driving down the road at 90 miles an hour and putting the car into neutral. I had my thoughts running like the engine and just took all the power away from it. Worse I some times kill my thoughts and just had to stop.

The trick I found that worked for me was looking at my list for a while before I started. Taking in what the goal of the chapter, then just see where I went.

I was trying to force myself to take on a different writing style because it was what others had suggested. I read about all the things people suggest and it sounds good when you read it. That is till you try to use a style that goes against the style your use to.

I am a story teller from bulletin points. The best way I can discribe it is how I use to give presentations in College and the few work related meetings I ran. I noticed everyone going up back in school and in my professional life with note cards. Some of these cards had more written on them than this whole article. To me that was crazy. I never understood how you could outline what you wanted to say and give a good speach.

That worked for them. For me, I would go up with one or two cards with a list. Every item would be a keyword or short phrase. I figured I knew what I wanted to get accross, but I didn’t plan what I would say. I just needed to know what topic I needed to discuss. Then from the seat of my pants, I would tell them a story mixed with facts and adventure.

So I went through Country Secrets again to remind myself of what I needed to discuss. There turned out to be a good amount of things that needed told. Like how did Bearman give Dan his scare. There was also the passing mention of a story about streaking and all sorts of things going wrong.

I will most likely only admit this once, but the streaking story was kind of a true story. There was a few minor changes, like I don’t remember what kind of truck I hid under, but the general details fell in line with what happened. This was one of the few stories from my real life that made it in either book, but it was a good one.

Now that I had my list of talking points, I was off. I stop thinking about where I had to go and only glanced at my list to know what might happen. Some times I would think that going towards one way and the story took it another way.

This is one of the exciting things I find about writing. I found I was writing as I was writing memories from someone else. I got to have Scott Bearman’s memories fill my mind and I was able to write them down before they left again.