Derrick didn’t set out to be a writer, he started as just a GM. We discuss the fun reasons people start to write and what it can lead to.
All right, so let’s move on. Talk a little bit of author stuff, and we have an interesting topic, which I think some people may totally understand. Before we get to that though you’ve written several books at this point. So what are some things that you have learned on your journey that you’re doing different now than you used to?
Derrick: it. Don’t try to force it. If you get blocked up, go do something else and don’t push through it. You’re just gonna be beating your head against a wall. That’s probably the most obvious thing I could say, but it’s true cuz first go around my first book, catch an Odyssey I hit some pretty hard blocks and would just sit there and pound my head against the keyboard for hours trying to figure it out.
it didn’t work. And it got to a point where I pretty much gave up on the book and walked away for a couple of weeks, and yeah, it still bugged me. It’s in the back of my head, like a b and a Mason jar trying to figure itself out. But I wasn’t focused on it so hard, and when I came back to. I wrote eight chapters in two hours.
, it’s one of those things where you can’t force it. Yeah. There’s a certain point at where it’s fine to sit and fight your way through a problem, but at some point you just gotta take a break.
Stephen: Agreed. Yeah, I agreed. My, my first book, I still love the concept and the idea, but I really didn’t know what I was doing, thought I did and it’s still kinda sitting around. It’s got a few good things in it, but there’s a lot of stuff that my editor went through and I literally ripped half the book out. 35,000 words eh, okay, these are, but I kept them because the individual scenes could be reworked. At some point if I do that series, yeah, absolutely. But the general overall book, and I think the books I’ve gotten now are just way better. So people are like, oh, but haven’t you gone back to it? No, I haven’t, cuz it hasn’t really called me back, the stuff I’m doing now is just it’s so much better and it’s drawn me in and it’s good, yeah. I just not, don’t have the impetus to go
Derrick: back. I’ve even noticed that in my own work, like from the first draft, first attempt at Kere Odyssey. My work has evolved a ton to where I am now, still early in my author childhood, as it were, , but 300,000 words later, and it’s barely recogniz. So I’ve learned a lot.
I’ve grown a lot, I’ve figured out what not to do and quit doing it and ,
Stephen: right? Yeah. I’m new, pretty new also I don’t, I’m not the experienced wise writer, but yeah, I’ve been doing it for a couple years now and I’ve realized a couple things. Whenever I get people on, whatever social media or Facebook or at a conference or something in there, they’re like I’m working on my first book.
I have got a couple chapters done, but tell me about publishing. Tell me about this. And it’s No, forget all of that. Just sit and write. You need to just write and write a ton. Get a book done and don’t even go, oh, now I can publish. Write another book. Because really, if you write a couple books and you write a couple short stories, you’ll be so much better off when you finally do go into publishing them.
Yes. Than trying to rush that first one. Yes. That’s my advice I give people
Derrick: now, and don’t underestimate the power of flash fiction and writing prompt. because even in the middle of my projects, I have Facebook groups that I’m part of. I have Discord servers that I’m part of that all have a weekly prompt where you, it’s an image or 10 words or one sentence or whatever, and you have to write 500 words, a thousand words, whatever, based on that and do it.
Have an idea. Don’t do it if you don’t. But those sort of things will force you out of the box that is your current work in progress, but still keep the wheels turning, keep the juices flowing. And for me, those have been an absolutely massive help. I have. Another whole document full of these prompts that I’ve written and liked and gone, that’s a short story.
That’s a short story, right? That’s a develop, I could probably turn that into a whole book like it just because it creates ideas, and ideas are money in this business. So it’s important and yeah, I agree. The work you can do that’s out of your comfort zone, even a little bit, the better You’ll. I agree.
Stephen: And that’s both of us still being new compared to a lot of other authors out there, ,
Derrick: right? Yeah, exactly. You gotta start
Stephen: somewhere. Absolutely. And I think people get, like you said, they rush too much. They don’t rush it. You’ll be better off because what happens is they rush it and they’re in the exact same spot and boat five years down the road as they would’ve been if they would’ve just wrote and wrote and concentrated.
but they don’t see it. I didn’t see it. It’s, hindsight, so
Derrick: it’s absolutely hindsight.
Stephen: Yeah. Learn from us. Anyone listening, learn from us. , we’re new enough to be able to say this .
Derrick: Exactly. I’m the old farm mule who will fight through anything and not learn anything else. And I learn by doing.
I, you can’t tell me not to do something. I have to go do it and get hurt and figure it out myself. Don’t be me . Listen to the people who have done this before you. It’s a long line of brilliant people. And pay attention. Learn something long line so you don’t have to
Stephen: A long line of brilliant people, which may not include us.
We’re not saying we’re probably not . So Derek when you’re writing, what software and services do you like to.
Derrick: I use the I use Reed z.com. I use their editor for all of my drafting. Okay. And editing and a lot of things. Okay. I pretty much live there. I absolutely love it. I tried Scrivener, I couldn’t do it. It was too complicated for me. I’m very much a What George Martin would call a gardener. I don’t outline, I don’t plan.
So that whole three quarters of Scrivener was lost on me and Reedsy had everything else in an easy platform. Everything’s cloud-based. I can grab it from my phone, my tablet, my desktop, my laptop, whatever, whenever, and everything’s right there. So it’s super handy for me cuz I jump around a. From different machines trying to get work done and I can just pull it up anywhere and it’s there.
It formats it as you write to look like a book, so you’re not fighting with weird formatting later, and it’s great. For anybody starting out or anybody who’s on the go a lot, I highly recommend Rezi .
Stephen: I like that You’re actually the first author out of 130 episodes that has said that and recommended Rezi, and I find it also interesting that we talked earlier about programming and it, you were having trouble struggling with it.
The reason I believe I glommed onto Scribner so well is because it really spoke to my analytical programmer brain. It just made sense. People are like, oh, it took me so long to learn Scribner, and I’m like, really? I’m like, I opened it up and I was like I just did it. It made sense to me. Yeah, so no, it
Derrick: makes sense to me.
I just don’t have a use for 90% of what’s there. I have, I think five pages total. Of outline between two full length novels, and that’s handwritten in a notebook because I got stuck and needed to figure out a continuity problem. That’s a good way handwriting. I have no outlines. I have no outlines. I have a doc with a list of like names and pronunciations and like basic stuff just to keep my head straight and that’s it.
I don’t plan. . Got it. I don’t do that, so I, I don’t need the database and the wiki and all the craziness of what a lot of people need and used.
Stephen: I’ve been using a lot of the features of Scribner because I focus a lot on wanting kids to learn to write and encouraging kids to write and. Tools and information to help teachers and parents to help kids write.
. So I actually have been creating a Bible for my world so I can keep it all straight and connected. Yeah.
Derrick: Correctly. Yeah. Yeah. It’s a great tool. I’m not discounting Scrivener at all. It’s a fantastic tool. It’s just not right for me.
Stephen: Yeah. There’s the bottom line, what wo works for one person may not work for another and don’t use a tool just because your favorite author said that’s what they use.
It may not work for you. And you’ll struggle and be frustrated and it won’t be any good.
Derrick: Yeah. Everybody’s different. I have friends who write their books longhand with fountain pens in handmade leather journals, and I have friends. Wouldn’t know what to do without Scrivener. And I know people who use Microsoft Word 1997 running on a potato , Clipy.
It just, yeah, Clippy was awesome though. But bring back Clippy, .
Stephen: I’m surprised I haven’t actually
Derrick: It’s a nostalgia thing at this point. But yeah, everybody’s different. Everybody uses different tools. You go to a construction site, you’re gonna see DeWalt, Milwaukee, Nikita, everybody has a different tool that they prefer and that’s fine.
It all does the same thing. It just does it differently.
Stephen: It’s whatever you can use to get what you need. Yep. Agreed. Yep. Derek, what are you doing to market your books?
Derrick: Not. I’m gonna be brutally honest. My marketing consists of word of mouth, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, basically social media, and that’s pretty much it.
And the podcast.
Stephen: I was gonna say, does the podcast, do you think, help bring light to your books?
Derrick: For the 20 people that listen to it? Yeah. , they know about it. May, maybe we can get a. We’ve got five or six episodes at this point. So it’s nothing huge yet. We’re, we started the ball rolling late on that, but it’s still a lot of fun.
Yeah, I don’t do enough. I really don’t. It’s pretty much social media. Okay. But I also have zero budget promote anything. So . Do what you can do.
Stephen: All right. So you mentioned talking about being a reluctant author and how you really didn’t think about being an author. You hadn’t really wanted necessarily to always be an author, but you did it anyway.
So you mentioned earlier let’s repeat that. Why did you say, okay, I’ve gotta write this
Derrick: My world, my characters, my stories all started out in one place, which is the black hole in my brain that is filled by d and d. I was working on a dungeon and dragons campaign for a bunch of friends of mine.
I do a lot of home brew, make everything up myself and basically just hang it on that d and d framework to create a playable world. It got to a point where the world was awesome. The concept was awesome, but my characters were too specific to want to throw to the wolves, as it were of my players, and my plot was getting a little out of control for a campaign and have it be efficient.
It essentially outgrew and ended up being too big and too small in different ways to be a d and d campaign. So it also wouldn’t leave me alone. It got hung in the hung in my head and wouldn’t go away. And I told myself, screw it, I’m gonna write it down. I’ll write a book. Maybe I can actually finish something this time.
Cause I’m horrible about finishing big projects. Absolutely terrible.
Bye. Yeah, so I ended up with a book that was intended to be, one book was intended to sit on my shelf and nobody else’s as a trophy just to prove that I did it. I got my trophy, I put it on my shelf, and it kept bugging me because my story wasn’t finished. So I wrote another one, and another, and now what was supposed to be one book is looking like it’s gonna be a trilogy with a bunch of side branches, which we talked about.
what started as proving to myself that I could do something is now what about this sci-fi project? And what about this historical fantasy project? And what about this. Lit RPG project. And what about this other thing? And ooh, that’s an idea. Look, shiny .
feel like a lot of people can relate to that, whether they be artists or writers or musicians or whatever.
You, you start with one thing and end up with a hundred more and it’s both helpful and not .
Stephen: And I think that’s important for others to hear because I’ve heard other people say, oh, I’m not a writer. I couldn’t write a book. Sometimes it just takes a matter of sitting down and starting to type or scribble or whatever it is.
And you may find that it calls to you that’s the only way to describe it. When I really hit upon that story that’s really just buzzing along and clicking, it’s not so much like I’m thinking of what to write. It’s like I’m peeling. To another universe, another dimension and I’m looking in and seeing what they’re doing and I’m just writing it down.
It’s like it channels into me, and I, I think when people get that feeling, then you can’t stop ’em. .
Derrick: Yeah, I’m an extremely visual person. I have a background in art, graphic design, music. I’m very creative, artsy person, and I’m extremely visual. You say something gross in front of me, I’m gonna picture it before it’s all the way outta your mouth.
I’m that guy. So for me, when I’m writing, I’m seeing a movie in my head and I’m just doing my best to translate. That’s all it is. Which is part of why I think they would be better suited as movies, because I’ve already seen that movie and it was pretty darn good. It’s it, like that’s what it is for me.
Like you said, you’re. Peeling back the layers and explaining what’s going on. That’s about it. And it very much is a creative process and it very much is something that a lot of people don’t realize they’re capable of until they actually try to do it.
Stephen: Absolutely. Do you do you think your background with d and d helped and you, cuz you don’t have any writing training, you just started.
Derrick: Yeah. The d and d pretty much, I at this point consider my time as a dungeon master game master, whatever version of that term you prefer. It was a practice run. The thing is, I didn’t really write much of that down. I just pulled it out of my head. , which is the same thing I do to my books , right? I don’t really write it down or plan it out.
I might go, okay, we need to go here, and here in that order, and then we need to end up over here somehow. And that’s my outline. Okay, start, middle, end. I want this thing to happen. That’s a cool scene. We’ll put that in there somewhere. And that’s how I write my books.
That’s how I brain my d and d games and it. Basically a dry run, except now it doesn’t just go away at the end of the night .
Stephen: So have you been concerned about the imposter syndrome or do you feel like, oh, I’m not really a writer, I don’t know what I’m doing. Did that affect you or has you, have you gone through times when you’re just like, I can’t write cause I’m no good or anything like that?
Derrick: Yeah. Every single day . Okay. The last two years? Yes. Every day. I think what really helped me through that the most was realizing that A, I’m not the only one. And B, the big famous authors that you look at as people who can do nothing wrong and know exactly what they’re doing, they have it too.
Absolutely. Yes. Toking had it. Lewis had it. Sanderson has it. Martin has. Everybody deals with it at some point. JK Rowling, I’m just rattling off fantasy people because that’s what I know. But everybody deals with it at some point. And it’s like writer’s block, it’s inevitable. ,
Stephen: right? And having an MFA and studying word str or sentence structure doesn’t necessarily help you write a good story.
Those are things that, no, it’ll
Derrick: probably make it.
Stephen: I agree. Writing a good story has nothing to do with grammar or spelling or anything like that. They’re they’re actually separate. That’s what editors are for. Yeah, exactly. You can learn grammar, you can learn spelling, but it’s much harder to learn to tell a good story.
Derrick: Yes, I would agree with
Stephen: that. And we see it with little kids all the time. Oh, let me tell you a story. And I was walking down the street and there was a pebble and I picked it up and then I went and I threw the pebble and it’s oh my God, where is this story going? That’s cuz they’re still learning and the they’re figuring out story. Yeah. And I think a lot of people. In their head, oh, I need to take classes. I need to be taught. What do you play? You said you play music.
Derrick: I hand it to me. I’ll make it, make noise. Okay. I grew up in the same house as a music teacher,
Stephen: okay. You probably had some lessons, but at some point, yeah. You start playing and you start making music and playing other instruments without all that behind you. Some of the best rock musicians didn’t have lessons
Derrick: necessarily. Exactly. Exactly. Now,
Stephen: if you’re a doctor, please go get trained and take classes.
Yes. As your doctor .
Derrick: If you’re new and whether you’re writing fantasy or not, I would highly recommend that you go on YouTube and watch Brandon Sanderson’s le BYU lectures. Yes, they’re free, they’re amazing. Start at the beginning and go through. It’s gonna take you a while, but yes, do it. I learned a ton.
Just from his introduction, let alone the rest of it. . And he picked him up for free hours of information. Yeah, he does. Which is an absolute service to the industry and Absolutely. I appreciate that very much. But yeah, I. Learned a ton. And it’s basically you’re auditing a college class, listening, watching those Yes.
Or listening to those. So do that. If you feel like you need lessons, go watch that. It’s free. You don’t have to go to school. It’s fine. Your computer, your phone, your tv, whatever. Good enough.
Stephen: Agreed. I love that. All right. Derek it is been really great talking to you. A good time. So before we wrap up do you have any last minute advice other than everything we’ve already talked about for some new authors?
Derrick: Just go out and tell your story whether you feel like you’re worthy or not. Just do it. I don’t remember the exact numbers. I did some digging into statistics about writers a while back, and essentially something like if you complete a book. You’re in like 2% of the world population that will ever complete a book, and that’s regardless of publishing, regardless of anyone ever reading it.
If you complete it, you’ve done something that 98% of the world will never do. If you just write it down and start it and don’t finish it, you’re in like 12%. So it’s. It’s a feeling of accomplishment, knowing that, and I’m not saying just do it to be special. I’m saying if you have a story in your head and you want to tell it, get past the imposter of going, I’m not good enough for this.
And just go tell your story. Everybody has a story. If you have one, go tell it.
Stephen: Agreed. I love that. All right, Derek, thank you for getting on tonight. For me it’s dark , so it’s been dark here, . It’s that time of year, so Oh, yeah. I wish you luck on your books and hopefully we’ll see you write some more coming soon.
Derrick: Yeah, absolutely.