Bio: Edward Owen has been writing stories since childhood. His style ranges from horror to humor with a healthy mixture of sci-fi, paranormal thrillers and murder mysteries. His works include “Gunn Sight”, a sci-fi novel and ‘The GAME’, a horror novella and audio book. Nightmares and Body Parts, a collection of short stories, was released last December. Current projects include a web series called Black Rabbit and a multi-genre novel called “Equitorius”. He was a winner in the 2012 NaNoWriMo contest, completing fifty-three thousand words in the month of November. He lives in Rancho Cucamonga, CA with his wife and sons.
What’s the best way for a writer juggle their personal and writing life?
When someone figures this out, let me know. Juggle is the operative word. It depends on the other demands in your life. If you have young children, it can be a three ring circus and writing may happen very early or very late in your day.
Ordinary life often gets in the way of a planned structured day. Any tips?
Be flexible. I have a 40 minute bus ride back and forth to work four days a week. I try to use the time to write. It’s a challenge typing on a bumpy bus ride, but no one interrupts me. At home, I get most of my writing done early in the morning on the weekends when my family is asleep. If I really need a long block of writing time (I did this a lot during NaNoWriMo) I try to find out what my family needs from me and get those duties done first so they will give me my time. My youngest is 19, so it is a little easier to make this happen now than it was ten years ago.
What can a writer do to overcome ‘writer’s block?’
I personally do not believe in writers block. Unless you are literally handcuffed to a chair, you can write. If you can’t make the words flow into your current WIP, there are a million places you can find writers prompts. Write about something else. Blog (which you should be doing anyway); write a letter to your muse letting her know that you are not happy with her lack of cooperation in this matter. Write a big, steaming pile of crap (save it, it might be the next 50 Shades…), but write something. If you are really stuck, email me and I will give you a topic. You must, however, promise to complete at least a thousand words on the topic, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.
What should a writer look out for when deciding if their manuscript is the best it can possibly be before releasing it to an agent/publisher/the public?
First of all, if it has not been professionally edited (that means you paid someone who earns part of their income in this capacity to do this) it is not ready. Period. Before that, you will probably rework the manuscript at least three to five times. Look for different things each time. One to three times for typos (read your book out loud then the paragraphs backwords), once or twice for plot holes, at least once for continuity (if your hero is locked in a room in Chapter One, he better still be there in Chapter Two) and once for word usage and repetition. Beta readers are great. They give you the best kind of feedback: from those who would buy your book, but they are one part of the process and cannot replace professional editing. The same goes for your book cover. Unless you are a graphic artist, you need to pay for the services of someone who is (if you are self publishing. Traditional publishers will usually dictate what the cover looks like.)
How can a writer be prepared for, and deal with rejection?
First of all, if you aren’t expecting to be rejected, you are in for a big shock. You will be rejected; often, repeatedly and sometimes in the most callous manner possible. I have only submitted a few works, so my experience in this area is not as vast as others. It is also why I self publish. If acquiring an agent and/or a book deal is your goal, toughen up, butter cup, it’s a bumpy ride. Remember, it’s not necessarily because your book isn’t good (see comments on editors above), it just isn’t what the agent/publisher is looking for. ‘Harry Potter’ was rejected 12 times before a publisher picked it up (and it was represented by an agent). If you aren’t prepared to wallpaper your office with rejection letters then you should either self publish or simply write for fun.
How should a writer deal with negative reviews about their book?
Thank the reviewer for their opinion and move on. There’s a saying about opinions – “Everybody’s got one …”
What’s the best piece of advice you have heard in respect of writing/being an author?
Stephen King- Write one word at a time. “A radio talk-show host asked me how I wrote. My reply—’One word at a time’—seemingly left him without a reply. I think he was trying to decide whether or not I was joking. I wasn’t. In the end, it’s always that simple. Whether it’s a vignette of a single page or an epic trilogy like ‘The Lord Of The Rings,’ the work is always accomplished one word at a time.”
Can you share any valuable websites/magazines/blogs for authors in respect of tips, help and advice?
WANA International- http://wanaintl.com (founded by Kristen Lamb) Full of resources and contacts
http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ – Kristen’s blog- a must read, especially for new authors
http://www.worldliterarycafe.com/ Another great resource and an awesome group of folks
http://www.chwritersgroup.org/ My own face to face writers critique group. We have chapters in
http://literatureandlatte.com Makers of Scrivener, the best writing software anywhere IMNSHO.
http://writeordie.com Great software to keep you writing
http://focusme.co/ (not a typo, that’s the site) Block access to internet and other distractions on your computer.
Any tips in respect of getting the synopsis right?
Write it after you write the manuscript. Start with one line from each chapter and then boil it down from there. You actually need two or three; the back of the book blurb to market your book (again, traditional publishers usually do this), the query letter synopsis for prospective agents/publishers and your elevator speech. You must be able to sum up your story in a single sentence of twenty words or so. If not, you don’t have the idea solid in your mind.
Any tips on marketing and creating a fan base?
Yes, read Kristen Lamb’s blog and her books. She is awesome at this and I am not. I will say, if you are not blogging once a week, get busy. It’s writing, it counts.
Lastly, can you share with us about what your usual writing day is like?
I work in Los Angeles forty to fifty hours a week (see bus ride comments above), I have a wife and family so I have very few writing ‘days’. It’s more like shorts spurts of creative energy slapped onto the page. On those rare days that I do manage to dedicate to writing, I give myself half an hour or so to check email, Facebook and Twitter, then turn off the internet and focus. I wear headphones and play instrumental music (check out Thomas Bergerson, his stuff is awesome http://www.thomasbergersen.com/ ) and the real world simply fades away to the one I am creating. Sheer Heaven on Earth.