“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”
– Saul Bellow
Word of the Week: Bletcherous means to have an ugly design. I love this word because the very spelling conjures thoughts and images so ugly that the word itself is quite fantastic. It is one of those words when read, even by someone who doesn’t know the actual definition, it will work.
Tip of the Week: Beta Readers! Many of us use them, but are we getting the most out of the experience? It’s easy, well… maybe not emotionally, to hand off a piece of work to someone and expect them to know exactly what we’re looking for from them. But unless you’re fairly specific, they may have no clue how to help you best – and that’s what they want to do! Do you want them to look for grammatical errors? Spelling errors? Do you just want them to really focus on what they think of a particular character? The story as a whole? Look for plot holes? In recent months, I have been asked to beta read for several people and only a few have been specific in what they really need from me, so in the event someone hasn’t been specific, I usually ask. That said, if you ask someone to beta read for you and you specify you’re really interested in how the story flows and not to worry about spelling/grammar, and they send you their thoughts but they’ve also pointed out a few errors that jumped out at them, that’s no reason to be upset. This may mean the error was so egregious that it took them out of the story – pay attention to that! You’ve asked this person to beta read for you for a reason and hopefully that’s because you trust them and value their input.
Resource of the Week: Have you heard of bubbl.us? This online mind-mapping machine is a fantastic tool for organizing your thoughts! It’s simple, easy to use and quite fun. There are paid subscription services, but there’s also a free service. You can try out a paid subscription with a free trial, and there aren’t any contracts to sign.
Spotlight of the Week: I am honored to introduce you to John Brhel this week, who was kind enough to answer this week’s questions. Be sure to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.
John Brhel is a fiction writer and a co-founder of Cemetery Gates Media [Facebook] [Tumblr], a horror/fantasy publisher based in Binghamton, N.Y. His first book, a short story collection titled Tales From Valleyview Cemetery, was published in 2015. His next book, tentatively titled Marvelry’s Curiosity Shop, will be released in June 2016. When John’s not writing, he works as a communications manager at Binghamton University, writes music, plays games, and reads short stories and books. He lives in Vestal, N.Y. with his wife, daughter, and their two furry friends.
- In which genre do you predominately write? What interests you in it particularly?
I write mostly genre fiction – fantasy, horror, sci-fi, etc. I like stories about everyday people that end up in weird situations. Fun little “what ifs” have always intrigued me, whether that involves ghosts, vanishing hitchhikers, or evil robots. I mean, a story about a bitter husband and wife becomes so much more interesting when you throw in a demon or a masked killer, doesn’t it?
- What is your biggest motivator?
My biggest motivator in writing is to be part of something that has brought me joy my entire life – fiction. Books and short stories have entertained me and fueled my imagination for decades, and I want to tell my own stories, to add my own twisted tales to the mix, to be like my heroes (Poe, Matheson, Serling). And heck, it feels good to see my name in print, too.
- What has been your biggest challenge in the entire writing process and what advice would you give others to make it easier for them?
My biggest challenge has been finding the time to write between work, taking care of my kid, being a husband, etc. For me, I’ve had to sacrifice some “hobby” time (video games, movies) to get writing done. The funny thing is, I’m actually more productive now than when I had more free time, since I’m better at budgeting my time.
I’d tell others to not to wait around for that perfect writing moment to come, but just do it – write on the bus, brainstorm in the shower, use your time wisely.
- Would you rather have dinner with Shakespeare, Hemingway, Twain or Asimov? What would you say to them?
Shakespeare is the master, but I think Twain would be a hoot to have dinner with. I’d probably ask him to tell me some stories.
- What’s a little-known fact about you? Explain or elaborate. (Special talents, non-writing hobbies, etc.)
I played in bands for years, but I suppose that’s not “little-known.” Well, I make a really good rice pudding. I’m a pretty decent dancer. I enjoy the Bee Gees. Anything else?
That’s it for B Week! Thank you for tuning in. I will “C” you next week when I will be interviewing quite possibly one of Australia’s most sought after bachelors – so don’t miss it!