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Freddy is back to talk about his writing process. We discuss how author’s need to be proud of their writing and to do everything they can to get it to their readers.
All right, so let’s move on to some author stuff. And we have an interesting topic today owning it which we’ll get to in just a moment. Before we do, let me. You’ve written several books and you’re talking about doing a remix, and we just talked a little bit about things you’ve learned from an editor.
So what are some things you’re doing different with your writing now than when you first started?
Freddy: What I like to do is change up the writing experience for me so that I don’t get bored, because I think the problem with any creative is being able to sit down. When. The creativity doesn’t seem to flow as easily as it does on some days.
So my way of battling that, that inevitable board, inevitable boredom, is to create a different experience. For example, the first book was written, third person Omni. The second book was written, first person present. The third book allow me to Ruin Your Christmas was written. First person present.
From two different characters perspective, so alternating chapters. We got Beck at the college, kid writing, first person telling the story, first person. Then we got Lex telling the story, first person alternating chapters. So it’s just something to keep me engaged and I feel like. If I’m engaged in the story and I’m excited to write even when I’m not feeling my best at four 30 in the morning or wherever, whatever time that I can, I’m still, I’ve got something that can keep me somewhat engaged as opposed to just trying to vomit the words out.
Stephen: Got it. Okay. And what software and services do you like to.
Freddy: I write with a Mac, so it’s pages. I keep the spell check and everything on, but when I’m done drafting well, and let me back up. My second and third book, and from here on out I write Long hand. I wrote the first book.
On my machine. But when I found out that Chuck Pollick writes long hand I just, I’m like my favorite authors are writing longhand. I better start writing longhand. And let me tell you, it does something to you. It really draws you in. And I’m sure there are a lot of authors out there who write on a keyboard and they feel the same way.
I just feel like there’s something about going from brain to. To hand to fingers to moving the pen on the paper. There’s just, there’s something that you just can’t get from typing on a keyboard, and I don’t, I’ve, I don’t, I’ve never written a nonfiction kind of narrative article or anything long hand, so I don’t know if it’s the same, but for fiction.
Long hand it is. So all of that to say from long hand to transcribing to to my Mac with the pages program, and then from pages I. I use this program called Auto cri. So auto like automatic, and then cri, like critic. So auto cri dot com. And it’s a great service. You can, I think there’s a free, there’s a free version, but I have the paid version so that I can get all of the feedback and it breaks everything down for you and pie charts.
And then it shows you little bar graphs. Your sentences. So here, Stephen’s got a whole bunch of short, a whole bunch of short paragraphs, and then a really long paragraph, or too many short paragraphs, too many long paragraphs. Here in chapter seven, Stephen has too many of these kinds of words. And so yeah it breaks everything down by, by word count.
Showing versus telling strong language. It’s. It is. And then, oh, and then you can compare your writing to, so let’s say Steven, let’s say you write women’s fiction. You can compare yourself to someone who writes women’s fiction. You can compare yourself to someone who writes.
You can compare yourself to individual authors Lee Child, Stephen King. Yeah, so it’s a great piece of software. They’re not paying me to say this. I’m a part of their Facebook group. I pay to use the service. So as a client, I can tell you that this is one of those few things that I will just, I will brag all day long about, about this particular service.
They’re very few things that I will brag about and talk incessantly about. This is one.
Stephen: Nice. You’re not just a client, you’re the president. Those
Freddy: size Spurling from the hair club for men.
Stephen: Yes. Yeah. Yeah.
Freddy: So guys our age, remember that. Exactly.
Stephen: Yeah. All the kids just went home . How are you marketing this besides doing podcasts?
Yeah, your book.
Freddy: I. Yeah, absolutely. I’m doing the podcasts, but I’m also advertise, I’m, right now I’m doing kind of a, I’m in the, a part of an AB testing to see if BookBub is gonna do better than Instagram. I have a feeling BookBub is gonna work better, but I don’t want to, I. I’m gonna wait for the results.
I’m also, because the book is set in Houston, I am in the process actually the ad is out now. There is a company called Running Boards, and so it’s Digital Mobile Billboards on a Truck. Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And so I’ve got a two, two month program of advertising where it’s a graphic of the book pointing to the url ruin my christmas.com.
And yeah, so we’ll see if that gets any traction. I figure Instagram and Facebook, I don’t know if it’s and I will seed. I don’t necessarily know the ins and outs of advertising on social media, so maybe it’s something I’m doing wrong or that I have done wrong. But it just hasn’t worked, so I figure why not.
The book is here in Houston. We got this company here in Houston. It’s. It’s worth a, it’s worth a shot. And I’m not dropping thousands of dollars on advertising because I, I’m, as an indie, I don’t have, and I’m also trying to make money and not, blow away a whole bunch of, so it was, it made the most sense from a perspective of trying to go big and bold and different as opposed to simply social.
Stephen: I agree. We’ve got a small local theater and there we don’t have many movie theaters really close. So it was nice when this one opened and all the ads before the com movie are local.
They’re nothing that’s national or, whatever. They’re all small, local companies. And I asked one of the guys, cause I went to his shop and I said, Hey, I saw this, tell me about it. And it’s like $450 for three months and it’s every movie, every showing in that theater for three months.
I’m like, wow, that’s, it’s a small town. I understand that when, but even if there’s 20, 30 people in that theater doing that for three months, that’s a lot of local people to get to. And that’s big when it’s local compared. Everywhere.
Freddy: Exactly. And I think you have to find, you have to be willing to diversify what you’re doing because sometimes at the end of the day, you don’t wanna be beholden to the social media overlords and the algorithms and right.
There are authors who are bigger than the two of us who have the backing who. The tens of thousands of dollars to spend on social media. And then we get buried. We get buried not just on, on the big ones, but we also get buried on Amazon and on book Bob and on whatever. So it’s, it, I think it for indies, I think it behooves us.
I love that word. It behooves us to explore other more viable options if you’ve got absolutely a movie theater. And that’s a captive audience too. That’s a great idea, man.
Stephen: Yeah, I was like, man, four 50 bucks. Funny thing is also our local fair, you can set up a booth, a table yeah. In the merchant building.
And I was with somebody else that works for a mattress place and we went to check it out and they were like, oh yeah, for a small 10 foot it would be like 7 85. And I’m like, oh, is that per day? They’re like, no, that’s for. For a week with our county fair that gets 45,000, 50,000 people through there in a week.
That’s, I like, that’s pennies per person, yeah. So I was like, oh, that’s pretty cheap even for me to think about, to
Freddy: do. Yeah. You got, you Really, I think and this goes back to being an Indian and owning the entire process, because you can write the book and that’s just the. That is just the beginning.
There is no, you will build it and they will come. You’ve gotta let people know that you are out there, that your book is ready, and this is the best book that they’re gonna ever read in their entire life. And so you put your blood, sweat, and tears. Some people take five years to write their first manuscript and finally get it out to market whether it’s indie or traditionally published and.
It is incumbent upon the creator of the story to let people know that it is there. And there’s nothing wrong with advertising. I think, and I come from the terrestrial radio world where I worked for more than 25 years, and so commercials, it was like yeah, we run 30, 30 ads per hour, but how else are we supposed to get paid?
And how else are these brands supposed to get? Their products and services noticed, you have to advertise. So as a creator, there’s nothing wrong with putting yourself out there, whether it’s going to fair or putting an ad on a movie theater. There are ways to go about it without doing it.
The slimy kind of snake oil salesman way.
Stephen: And if you really wrote a good book, you put your time and effort into it and improved the product, you have something good. Like for me, it’s middle grade kids. I’m doing them a disservice if I don’t get my book to them. I think it’s a great book. I think they’d enjoy it.
I hope it sparks their imagination, but if they don’t know about it to read it, then I have failed. And it’s a different mindset. And you mentioned owning it, which is owning the outcome, good or bad. That’s our topic for today. What made you wanna discuss that topic and choose that as a topic for our discussion?
Freddy: I’m doing this for selfish reasons because I am. This is my first year going out on my own. As I said, I worked in terrestrial radio for more than 25 years. And as a non it’s all about owning the outcome, good, bad, or indifferent. And as a storyteller, as a media company owner, as a podcaster, as a blogger, as a dad, as a husband we have to own what we do.
And we’re not gonna get it right all the time. And we have, we just have to own it. Don’t dwell on, don’t dwell on it. Don’t dwell on what somebody else could have done to help. At the end of the day, it all comes down to you. Or in my case, it all comes down to me. And so by doing that, I have empowered myself to try.
Do the best that I can given the circumstances, and let the dice fall where they may. This particular book might not sell 50 copies. And guess what? There was probably something I could have done. To make it better. Yes, I’m advertising, yes, I’m making the podcast rounds. Yes, I’ve I’ve done what I can in trying to communicate with my social media following, but at the end of the day, if I only sell 27 books, that’s on me.
That’s not on the reader, that’s on me for not taking the extra step or 10 steps or 100 steps. And so I think there, there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of power in that, in knowing that it’s not it’s not some outside force some greedy billionaire holding his thumb down on my success.
It’s me, right? It begins and end.
Stephen: With me. Agreed. And like I agree with what you said, that when you think about it, owning the outcome could be several different things. Yeah. In this case it’s, Hey, I wrote this book. I spent the time and effort, it’s up to me to make it work. Not just put it out and say, oh writing books doesn’t work, or, oh, I’m a terrible author, because there’s a lot of bad books out there that have sold a lot just because they marketed it.
They got out there and there’s people that sell things all the time that aren’t worth buying just because they’re, they can talk and they have charisma. Yeah. And the other part of it is this is something you did. There’s a lot of authors that get afraid to talk to people about it.
Yeah it’s not that good, but no, you wrote this book. It’s the best you could do at this moment. Giving every circumstance, around. So yeah, own it. I be proud of it. I wrote this book there, there’s several aspects of the whole topic.
Freddy: Yeah, absolutely. And one of the things that.
- My friend has been such a transformational year and it has taken me on a rollercoaster of emotions trying to figure out what my place in this world is. And I will say, and I’m, I started to delve off. I will say though, here we go. Okay. So I don’t know if you wanna pick up at post or we’re just gonna leave it like that.
I will say that.
Now I forgot what I was gonna say again. So what happens when you Transformational year? Yeah, transformational. It’s a transformational year and so what I, where I think I went wrong in my previous career was not treating my gifts, was not persuading people to see my gifts that I have. In such a way that I am the gift.
So you have to have a certain degree of hubris. And I hate saying that because it has a very bad connotation. But you do have to exert that alpha male or alpha female or alpha, whatever, energy. If you’re going to, if you’re going to succeed, you have. You have to put that energy out into the world because just like you said, you can have somebody that you’re talking to on a podcast, and if they don’t believe in the product, what makes me think that?
Suzanne Smith, who wrote this cozy mystery, who doesn’t believe in her book, and I’m listening to her talking to Steve, what makes me wanna go and buy that, right? I’m not gonna wanna buy that. Oh it’s just a little book. No, I wrote a cozy mystery and guess. It rivals anything that’s on the New York Times bestseller list and here’s why.
Absolutely. And absolutely, it’s a fine line to walk because hubris leads to very bad things. But you’ve gotta have just a little, just like when you’re cooking with salt and pepper and garlic, it’s a little dash of it. and it makes the meal just as that certain kind of, so you have a little bit of hubris, you sell your gifts, but with the mentality that you are the gift.
And so that’s where I went wrong in my previous career, was not convincing people in a way that, Hey, look, yo, I am. I am the gift. There are people, just like you said, who are far more inferior to what you do, what I do, and what you have done and what I’ve done. And yet they know cuz they’ve got the silver tongue that, and they schmooze the right people and they’ve got the agents and they’ve got the backing that they’re far more successful than.
But bull crap, we flip the narrative and we take control. And it all goes back to owning it because no one’s gonna care about what you do more than you. And I think the, absolutely. Yeah. And I think that the I think that the sooner a creator of any sort, it could be an author, it could be a blogger, it could be a vlogger, it could be a poet, it could be a musician or whatever.
It could be an a white collar office worker for God’s sakes. The sooner they realize that nobody cares about their work as much as they do things get.
Stephen: And it’s not pride and ego. That’s the difference. You can be proud of something without being prideful. With that thing. Yeah, you can be proud of the product and like I said, if I wrote this book cuz I want middle graders to spark their imagination and think about my, I a lot of what I.
Is the general theme is there’s magic in the world all around us. You just have to find it and discover it and that , and I didn’t intend that to happen. It just seems to be, that’s how I think in my life and I think kids, Need to use their imaginations more and just do things because it’s fun and that’s what my books and stories tend to be.
So I have to own that. And if I want parents and teachers and the kids to read my books, I’ve got to get it to them. I’ve gotta show it to ’em. I’ve gotta do something. And if not, then you know, I’m doing them a disservice. It’s a mindset shift to owning it. And again, it’s not an ego thing. You can tell.
That’s like you said, smarmy, salesman. Yeah. That’s the ego and coming out.
Freddy: Yeah. And kids, man, kids are so much more smarter than we give them credit for. Yeah. They will pick up if Steven’s not completely sure that his new book is gonna hit, they will pick up on that energy and they’ll be like, yeah, forget this.
I’ll just read Harry Potter again. .
Stephen: Yeah. And that’s actually what spurred my book. There’s a Harry Potter Fest over at Kent, and I didn’t have a wizard magic type book. So I wrote a short story to set on my author table, and then I realized, oh, this could be better. And that idea of a short story has turned into what’s going to be possibly seven books now.
, oh. That’s yeah, how that all started. So that’s great, man. Yeah. I’m working on, I’m, I’ve got book two written. I’m finishing things up. I got idea for three and four with vague plans for beyond that. But that, that’s the goal. I want kids to understand that they can be imaginative throughout their life.
They can write by starting now, and by the time they’re 1820, they’ll be much further ahead. I see so many authors. That are, 40 getting started and they have, they, I can’t write, I can never do this. Whereas if they started when they were 15, by the time they’re 40, they’d have masterpieces. Yeah.
Freddy: my philosophy. No, absolutely. And with you targeting the middle school demographic, this, it seems like maybe that’s about the age where. The luster of imagination starts to, to wear off. And so by you telling these kids and sharing these stories with ’em, it’s helping them realize that, hey, you know what, there is wonder out in the world and you know what?
School might be boring or life might be boring, or, things might not go wrong, but the world is huge. It’s a, it’s an incredible place to be and Yeah.
Stephen: And you said, okay, something you said about your book that you like to challenge yourself and do something a little different. And this one’s second person perspective, so owning it, another, this is another thing.
You chose to do it this way. You could have written it in third person, first person. You could have done a happy romantic Christmas instead of a going bad type of, you chose these things. These, this is the story that you wanted to get. Like you said, it could flop totally. You could do everything, all the podcasts, all the marketing, pay for all the ads, and it could still flop Totally.
That’s part of owning it too. That doesn’t mean you are a bad writer. Doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, doesn’t mean your book sucks. It might be the wrong audience, the wrong time. Maybe you just need to tweak and improve one thing. That’s what the next book’s for improve. Next time get better. Learn from the things you made mistakes on.
I see a lot of authors that, they still have that thought, Hey, I wrote this book over the last weekend. I put it out and nobody bought it by day one. So I’m a failure. No, you. Again, going back to the owning it, there’s more to it than just putting words down and throwing it out there.
Freddy: Absolutely. And just to give you an idea, Edgar and Poe, in his entire lifetime didn’t make but around $200 off of his writing. And if he only knew his legacy, he’s got, he’s required reading in schools. He has got entire literary societies named after him awards named after him. So just because you don’t sell a hundred thousand copies of your ebook over the course of a month does not mean that it’s not gonna make an impact in some way, shape, or form.
Because somewhere over the past hundred and something years, there was somebody. Who read one of his books that might not have been The Raven who read one of his books or poems or whatever. Or maybe it was the Raven who the Hell knows. But there was somebody somewhere down the road back then who saw something and was like, ha, this is incredible.
I gotta show, I gotta show Steven and then Steven’s whoa, this is incredible. You know what? I have a friend who’s the dean of a college, I’m gonna show her, and the dean of the college is wait a minute, I’ve got friends. I’ve gotta show this to my book club. And the book club, it’s just a, you never know.
Humans are, Complicated and fun and interesting, and you just never know what can happen if your book gets into just one reader’s hands.
Stephen: Exactly, and you gotta get, you gotta find those readers, so you gotta keep trying. I, what you just said made me think some of the initial reviews, when Star Wars came out in 77, the critics, they didn’t like it.
They panned it, they thought it was stupid and Oh yeah, I guess they were wrong on that one. Yeah, a little bit. And think of it this way, there’s 7 billion people on this planet. Yeah. If you had a hundred thousand fans. And they all bought your book every year. Now you’re making enough money to live on by writing one book a year to just those and a hundred thousand people is nothing compared to the whole planet.
So it’s getting out there and finding those people and that’s, you know what you gotta do after you write the book. And again, another part of owning it is taking the time to write and learn your craft and write a good book and it improve each time you write a book. That’s part of owning it too, not just throwing something together and thinking.
Three year olds, five year olds, that tell you a story. Wow. That was great. I love that story that you just made up. That made no sense whatsoever. Every parent does it. They’re like Uhhuh, I loved it. Great. I have no idea what they just said, but we’re gonna tell ’em that. But when you’re an adult, you gotta suck it up a little bit and actually make a good story. You can’t just throw anything out and expect everyone to praise you.
Freddy: Exactly. Exactly. And that doesn’t mean you have to go to school or take a college class or whatever. Just read a couple of craft books, Stephen King and Chuck Pollick and oh, now I’m spacing on the Kurt v.
Kurt Vts. Kurt V. Either reader is incredible. And it’s a dense book. It’s huge. It’s huge. And it’s chock full of so much wisdom from. That it’s almost like if you were to just spend a week reading that book, you would get so much more knowledge and be a, you’d be so much, you would be an improved writer in more ways than one.
Stephen: The other one I’ve come across is by Jeff Strand. He independent, he writes comedy horror. He’s written 50 books, and his 50th one was basically a memoir writer book, encouragement, inspiration thing. But a sarcastic viewpoint. And I interviewed him and talked to him. I love his books and I didn’t realize that it was just the last, like five books that he had quit his job and was writing full time.
So he kept going until he got to that point. So he is got a lot of good things to say. So yeah. Those other three books you mentioned? I’ve read ’em all. I’ve read his so good books for authors, keep going.
Freddy: Yeah, absolutely. And read craft books from outside of your genre too.
Like I’ve got one Jennifer Probst is a fantastic romance writer. I’ve only read a little handful of her work, but I have read her, her writing craft book. Oh, and I forget right naked. Is the book I know catchy title, but Right. For, because listen, humans we are the relationships that we have many are romantic.
And so you have to be able to, whether you’re writing horror or mystery or even middle grade, there, there are, there, there is love, there are components of love. In every story that we write or in most stories I assume. But yeah, there, there are things that you can take away from.
From any kind of craft book in what she recommends. It’s interesting. What she recommends is that if you are a writer of what do they call it? The erotica, like the raunchy stuff, if you’re, yeah, if you write the raunchy stuff, Read Sweet read Sweet Romance, and if you write Sweet Romance, read erotica.
So basically it’s learn that ying yang aspect where you’re learning from something completely outta your wheelhouse. Yeah it’s great. It’s great advice.
Stephen: I, I did something similar. I read a reacher book by Lee Child and I’m not a big thriller action reader and, but Id heard him on an interview, actually, his brother, cuz he is taken over.
And so I picked up a book, you can find them at every yard sale for 50 cents. They’re all over the place. And I read it and I was just blown away. The writing is so precise and the sentences are short and say what they need to say without flowery anything. And the story moves without putting in tokens, 50 pages of descriptions and, so it is a totally different style.
So it was like, No matter what style I wrote, somebody out there will enjoy it for the genre and style I have. That’s, what everybody needs to remember.
Freddy: And that’s how you find your voice too, because no one author is going to take away the same the same advice from anyone or two or three or four authors who write craft books.
Stephen: Absolutely. A hundred percent. All right. Freddy, I know you need to get going. And I’ve got stuff to do today. It’s been a wonderful talk. I’ve enjoyed myself immensely. Thank you. So before we sign off, do you have any last minute advice you would give to new authors?
Freddy: To new authors? Just write the damn book.
Right? There you go. Even when you don’t feel like a, get in the chair and write the damn. Write it right. Make time. Make time.
Stephen: I would add to that the craft books don’t make nearly as much sense unless you’ve written some stuff beforehand. If you’ve never written and you’re trying to pull it all in, just by reading a craft book, you won’t absorb anything.
It won’t make sense. But if you’ve written some stuff, no matter how poorly. Reading those books makes a lot more sense and you improve a lot more that way. So that’s my new advice I’ve been telling people and
Freddy: that’s why you should just write the book . Yeah, absolutely. Agree to the craft books .
Stephen: Yep. All right man.
Thank you. I’ll talk to you later.
Freddy: Yeah, really appreciate it. Hey Steven.