Taught my first creative writing class last night

Last night I taught my first creative writing class. I think it went pretty good. I talked for two hours straight, only taking breaks when people asked questions, and every single topic was something we could have talked about more. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.

There are 84 people enrolled. We filled the biggest classroom they had at this location, and they still had to turn people away. Right now we’re doing it in the same building as the police academy (I requested that because it was closest to the freeway, so I thought it would be the easiest for people coming from Salt Lake City) but if I end up doing this again we’ll have to move it to the Ogden campus where they’ve got bigger classrooms available.

With this class I’m trying to focus on the professional, making a living aspect, rather than the artsy literati side of creative writing. I’m trying to keep it nuts and bolts, practical, pragmatic, get it done and get paid.

This is from the handout. It is more of a checklist of things I want to talk about, than an official schedule. Like last night we spent the first hour on how to write better, and the second half on how to sell your stuff.  I think I touched briefly on everything in the business section, but only scratched the surface on a few things. Now I’ve got a list of comments and questions from the online streaming students to incorporate into next week’s lesson.

Creative Writing Class Outline

The two steps to becoming a successful professional author.

  1. Get good enough people will give you money for your stuff.
  2. Find the people who will give you money for your stuff.

Part 1: Getting good enough.

On the “rules” of writing.

  1. Does your audience like it? Leave it in.
  2. Does your audience hate it? Take it out.

The spark and where ideas come from/contagious enthusiasm

Outlining vs. Discovery Writing


1st vs. 3rd Person

Creating characters

Pacing and intensity

Dialog, and why it is different than talking

The pros and cons of “writing what you know”

Accuracy and research

Time management for writers and the evil myth of Writer’s Block

Message/the author works for the reader, not the other way around

Editing, if it sucks, fix it

Alpha Readers, or your mom might not be your target audience

Pros and cons of Writing Groups

Finished? Now write the next one.

Part 2: Getting Paid

Ugly Fact Time: Author pay scale and failure rate

How traditional publishing works

  • Small press vs. Large press
  • What are literary agents and do you need one?

How self-publishing works

Novels vs. short fiction markets

Contracts and what to watch out for

Advances and earning out

Structuring your business and paying taxes

Other rights (foreign translations, audiobook, movie options)

Networking, marketing, and finding your target audience

When to quit your day job

A Long Time Until Now by Michael Z. Williamson, on sale now!

Michael Z. Williamson’s new book, A Long Time Until Now is now available. Today a bunch of us are helping spread the word.


I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I really enjoy Mad Mike’s stuff. Normally when a Book Bomb is coming up I try to notify people in advance to mark their calender, but I messed up and forgot. I know I just did a BB last week and I only try to push one of these a month, but Mike is a talented author, and a friend, and I’d really encourage everyone to check this out.

Charity to check out, EOD Warrior Foundation

My best friend is EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal). It is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. He sent me the following charity information. Please check them out.

The annual EOD Memorial is tomorrow, May 2nd. Every year, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technicians from all branches gather to honor the fallen. There’s a memorial wall at Eglin AFB, Florida (colocated with NAVSCOLEOD).

The EOD Warrior Foundation raises money for the families of the fallen and maintains the memorial wall. I’m a cake-eating civilian now, but I haven’t forgotten where I came from, and this is pretty important to me.

Four years ago this month, Chris Solesbee from the Hill AFB EOD flight was killed in Afghanistan. Also killed was his teammate, Joseph Hamski, from the Spangdahlem Air Base flight. I spent some time at Spang and they were like family to me. 

Both men were assigned to what we called Bravo Flight in Afghanistan. It was the unit I served with there, and my flight was the one to replace the one that lost those two. My rotation was very fortunate; we had no KIA. Three friends of mine were blown up and injured, though. Several Army techs died while I was there, and a Navy tech was severely wounded. 

Before I left Afghanistan, in January 2012, the Air Force lost an entire team in Helmand Province. 

So, if you would be kind enough to post a link to the EODWF on your blog, with an explanation, I would very much appreciate it. It might raise some awareness and possibly raise a little bit of money. 


Arthur Chu sucks at everything but Jeopardy

Many regulars may remember Social Justice Warrior and Salon author Arthur Chu as the dipshit who declared Brad Torgersen’s 20 year interracial marriage and his biracial children as “shields” to hide Brad’s racism. He is one of the morons who blamed the Sad Puppies’ success on GamerGate.

Well, after a day of futile harassment, his team of idiots couldn’t even call in a bomb threat correctly.

Here is a detailed report: http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/05/03/dc-gamergate-meetup-disrupted-by-feminist-bomb-threat/

And here is Nero’s version, which is hilarious, because when SJWs try to destroy something it turns into a giant party.  http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/05/04/how-gamergate-hater-and-social-justice-clown-arthur-chu-got-me-laid/


More reading stuff, eARC give aways

A quick plug.

Writers of the Future is a great contest that has launched a whole lot of careers. Their next anthology is coming out in a few days.

Kary English is a talented author, and she’s giving away partial eARCs of the winning stories here: http://karyenglish.com/2015/04/free-mini-earc-for-wotf31-who-wants-one/


BOOK BOMB! Residue by Steve Diamond

Residue (Jack Bishop Book 1)
Kindle Edition
by Steve Diamond
Today we are Book Bombing Steve Diamond’s debut novel Residue. I was one of the alpha readers, and this is a great read.
For those of you new to the Book Bombs, how it works is that we get as many people as possible to buy the book on the same day from Amazon. This will cause it to go up in the sales rankings. The higher it ends up, the more new people will see it and check it out. A good book Bomb will introduce an author to hundreds or even thousands of new readers. The more exposure the better. Success breeds success, a deserving author gets new fans, and most importantly the author GETS PAID.
So please tell your friends, share the link, spread the word, bother random strangers on public transportation, etc.
On these Book Bombs I always try to pick an author who I think deserves a career boost. Steve has been published for a while, but only in short fiction (which is also very good). This is his first novel, but I really enjoyed it. (note, I’m one of the cover blurbs). Many of my regular readers might recognize Steve’s name from the Writer Nerd Game Night serials where he wrote Ikoma Uso who was like a magical samurai Dexter, and he was also the coauthor on the Tombs and Santos stories like Son of Fire, Son of Thunder.
Basically, the dude has mad writing skills.
I’ve known Steve for years. When we first met I was a breakout author and he was a book reviewer doing an interview. We ended up in the same game group. Then we found out we were both accountants (accounting and fantasy writers have a surprising amount of career overlap). A couple years later I wound up hiring him as my assistant finance manager (we were Utah’s Small Business of the Year!) and eventually Steve was the guy who replaced me when I retired to become a full time author. He still has my old job.
Now you know why he got redshirted in Grimnoir, and a casino named Diamond Steve’s was blown up in MHL.
So, now the question is, how many finance managers from the same company can we turn into bestselling authors? Can we continue the cycle? Can we sell enough copies of Residue that Steve will be forced to hire another aspiring author/accountant to be his assistant?
It is the circle of life, my friends.
(actually, interesting side note, I don’t think it is that company that is magic, so much as that company’s Human Resources director is like a good luck charm… Because before he was my HR director, at a different company he was Brandon Mull’s HR director, and now he is Steve’s. So obviously the secret to becoming a bestselling author is having Mike Weimer as your HR Director)
So please tell your friends. BOOK BOMB!
Throughout the day the stats will update. Amazon updates hourly, but they’ve added this weird delay thing, so we probably won’t see much movement of the numbers until later this afternoon. Man, I miss the immediate ratings jumps all day during the old BBs. It was like the wild wild west. :)
Right now we are at:
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,182 Paid in Kindle Store
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #444,756 in Books
EDIT: Called it, there is a big old long delay now. This morning’s sales are finally starting to register. We should see them keep ticking up until the middle of the night. Way to go guys!
 EDIT 2: Damn… Looking good.
 EDIT:  The next morning’s rankings. I went to bed and missed getting a shot of the highest number. I heard it got into the high 300s on Kindle overall. That’s another downside of this new 7 hour delay. I’m not staying up that late to see. :)


Updates for the Week

Too busy to spend much time on any one thing, so here are some quick updates.


Don’t forget, tomorrow is the Book Bomb for Steve Diamond’s debut novel, Residue. Mark your calender and tell your friends.


The creative writing class I’m teaching at Weber State starts next week.



The second batch of MHI challenge coins are coming soon. There will be a another Kickstarter. This time we are adding some Grimnoir stuff too. Details to follow.


Speaking of merchandise, Jack Wylder is the MHI merchandise guy. He wanted me to put up a note that we got patches back in stock, he shipped most of the orders, but is running behind on the last of them. There was a family crisis he had to help with last week. He’ll be caught back up next week.


Sad Puppies Round Up

Same old, same old. Bunch of new anti-Puppies articles and blogs this week. I could either A. Write books and be paid large sums of money. or B. Repeat myself over and over to every dipshit on Twitter… Hmmm… Tough one.

From what I’ve seen the people who disagree with us now mostly fall into a couple of camps. 1. People repeating the already discredited anti-diversity slate narrative and other lies. BORING.  2. People who agree the Hugos were screwed up, but who didn’t see any political bias. Insular, cliquish, wannabe-literati, yes, but not political. Great. You guys run with that. 3. People who benefit from the status quo dismissing a bunch of fans because of guilt by association. Weak.

You can still join and get a supporting membership to Sasquan here. You’ll be able to vote this year, and nominate for next year. The cost is $40. You will be sent a packet of nominated works to read and then vote accordingly.  https://sasquan.swoc.us/sasquan/reg.php 

There were some fun articles last week though. Some of my fans have taken up the Path of the Fisk.

Here a Redneck makes some dude with a literature PhD look like a doofus. https://marsascendant.wordpress.com/2015/04/23/in-which-this-ignorant-ass-redneck-attempts-to-fisk-one-of-them-genius-professorial-types/ 

In this Fisk an author takes on somebody with 7 Hugo noms who thinks the system is fine. http://tlknighton.com/?p=7070

And we even get political cartoons now.  http://freebeacon.com/culture/the-men-who-started-the-hugo-award-controversy/ 

New Monster Hunter International project Announcements

Okay, a bunch of new stuff is now public so I can talk about it.


First, many of you have heard that bestselling author John Ringo loved my Monster Hunter International series so much that he was inspired to write a book set in that universe (without telling me!). You’ve got to understand, John is one of those authors with the muse thing, where he won’t write for months, and then all of a sudden he’ll get in this mood, and write like 50,000 words a week, no sleep, living off of caffeine. The dude is a machine. Baen fans joke about the Ringo Book of the Month Club, but they aren’t kidding. That’s how John rolls. He gets spun up, and he’s brilliant at it.

(me personally, I’m a plodder. I average 10k a week, working normal job hours, but that’s every week, and I’m consistent).

By the time I got to see this book, John had already written the second one of the trilogy.

Now, pro-tip, even if you are taken by surprise, when one of the most successful authors around says that he wants to write books set in one of your universes, and he already has, you make that work. :)

I went through the first book last week. I loved it. Freaking awesome. He’s been posting tons of snippets on Facebook. Fans are loving it too.

But as John discovered, I’m an accountant at heart, or as he said, I’m somewhere on the OCD scale. And I’ve got 5 big books, more planned, and an RPG worth of continuity to make sure everything matches. John made a tradition of killing Joe Buckley in all his novels because Buckley once sent back one of his manuscripts with like a hundred comments. He said he doesn’t know what to do with me since I sent back twice that, and some of them were a page long. (but to be fair, before John violently red shirts me in some other series, many of those comments were things like “LoL” or “awesome scene” and the long ones were about the detailed secret history of monster hunting, or me putting my firearms expert hat on, because the story itself was cool as hell).

So anyways, long story short. These books are now collaborations. I don’t know if Toni has approved the titles yet. And I don’t know the release dates. But probably next year there will be the beginning of a new MHI trilogy, set in the 1980s. They are the memoirs of a Hunter from a period of time before the regular MH series started.


There is also going to be an anthology of short stories set in the Monster Hunter International Universe from various authors.

From editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt: I am very pleased to announce that Larry Correia and I have signed a contract as co-editors with Baen for an anthology with the working title MONSTER HUNTER TALES which will feature stories set in the universe of his NYT Bestselling MONSTER HUNTER INTERNATIONAL series. Besides Larry, authors will include Jim Butcher, Jonathan Maberry, Jessica Day George, Faith Hunter, John Ringo, Sarah A. Hoyt, John A. Pitts, Jody Lynn Nye, Mike Kupari, Maurice Broaddus and more. For release in 2017.

And he is right on the And More, because we’ve got a bunch of awesome authors lined up for this project. I think we’ve got 6 or 7 NYT bestsellers in there, which is pretty impressive for an anthology.

We’ve also got a bunch of talented up and comers and new authors too. Bryan didn’t list all the names, so I don’t know who is confirmed and who has signed contracts, so that’s all I’ll say.

I’m really excited for this one.


I’ve got a couple other really exciting MHI related projects in development, but I can’t say anything further about those yet.


Then there was this press release from Baen last week:

Baen Books Announces Eleven New Science Fiction and Fantasy Acquisitions

Works include Lois McMaster Bujold Vorkosigan Saga Novel, and Original Novels from Best Selling Authors Larry Correia, Michael Z. Williamson, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Catherine Asaro, Brad Torgersen, and Charles E. Gannon

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, a new Vorkosigan Saga novel by award winningNew York Times best-selling science fiction author Lois McMaster Bujold, is among eleven recent acquisitions by Baen Books. The new Vorkosigan novel was agented by Eleanor Wood of the Spectrum Literary Agency.

Baen has also purchased two new entries in the best-selling Liaden Universe® science fiction series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, agented by Jennifer Jackson of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.

Three new books from Hugo finalist Michael Z. Williamson—two of which will be set in the universe of his time travel novel A Long Time Until Now  (May 2015)—and one set in the world of Williamson’s long running and popular Ripple Creek series are on the slate.

A new novel by Hugo finalist, Audie Award Winner, and New York Times best-selling author, Larry Correia, titled Wendell, will be delivered by the creator of the New York Times best-selling Monster Hunter International contemporary fantasy series.

Baen has also acquired two new novels in the Caine Riordan science fiction series from Nebula finalist and Compton Crook award winner Charles E. Gannon.

Further acquisitions include a new hard science fiction novel by AnLab award winner and multiple Hugo finalist Brad Torgersen, and a new Skolian universe science fiction mystery novel from two-time Nebula award winner Catherine Asaro, via agent Eleanor Wood.

“We are extremely pleased with this wonderful selection of new novels we will soon offer eager fans,” said Baen Books publisher Toni Weisskopf. “And we’re very happy to work with a group of such fine writers whose work engages and entertains hundreds of thousands of readers.”


I have no comment on what top secret project Wendell is. :)

I believe that with these latest deals I’m now back up to 14 or 15 books under contract.

Right now I’m working on the third and final Dead Six novel with Mike Kupari. Up next, two other Monster Hunter novels that take place at the same time (details to come). And the next novels after Son of the Black Sword (by the way, I’ve been getting really positive buzz on the eARC, which you can get here http://www.baenebooks.com/p-2688-son-of-the-black-sword-earc.aspx ) House of Assassins and Destroyer of Worlds.

So back to the plod!

Next Book Bomb, Tuesday April 28th, RESIDUE

Mark your calenders. Our next Book Bomb is going to be next Tuesday, April 28th, for Steve Diamond’s debut novel, Residue.

For those of you not familiar with Book Bombs, that’s where we try to get as many people as possible to buy the same book on Amazon on the same day, in order to push it as high as possible in the sales rankings. The higher we get it, the more other people notice it. Success leads to success, and a good Book Bomb will get an author a whole bunch of new fans, and most importantly the author GETS PAID.

I was one of the alpha readers on this one. It is a great book, and Steve is a fantastic writer. It is an action/horror story, monsters, psychic powers, and I was his gun consultant. It is marketed as Young Adult, but that just means he has a teenage protagonist and doesn’t get to swear much or sex it up. :)


Geeky Hobbies: Little Space Dudes and a place for them to fight


This post is an experiment to see if I can post pictures directly from my iPhone into the new WordPress page. No idea if this will work or not. :)

I paint minis to relax my brain. I usually put a cop show or audiobook streaming in the background, and do this for an hour or two at night. It really helps me refocus the next day.
These are some Infinity minis I’ve done over the last couple months. (Spanish company, fantastic sculpts) I’ve done a bunch more, but need to get some good lights set up and take some decent photos. These are just crappy iPhone pictures in bad light.

Once I get some good lighting set up, I’ll take better shots. I’m not the best painter, but I’m pretty darned fast. I’ve only played a few games of Infinity (Warmachine is still my game) but I’ve painted about sixty of their minis since the beginning of Winter. (I went ahead and bought about half their product line off of Black Friday sales from Miniatures Market and FRP Games, because there is nothing more dangerous than a nerd with disposable income)

The terrain is MDF pieces glued together by my me and my son, and then I gave them a quick, basic paint job with an air brush. That is about 1/3 of the stuff for the sci-fi themed wargaming table I’m working on right now.  The next Writer Nerd Game Night campaign I’m running is going to be sci-fi Savage Worlds, and I like to bring a ridiculous amount of props.