Welcome to week twenty-five of the #WritersQuick5 series - where we learn about writing from fellow writers.
This week brings you answers from author and channillo.com writer Lucas C. Wheeler. Lucas’s first book, Star Dog Legacy, was published on Amazon and in KU and the second book in the trilogy, Star Dog Corruption just posted in May. The third book in the series, Star Dog Liberation is coming soon.
Lucas also writes a Star Dog spin-off series called Star Dog: Earth’s Last Shield that posts a new chapter every Tuesday on Channillo. All of the proceeds from his Channillo stories are set up to go to the Humane Society via the Channillo for Charity program.
Let’s see what Lucas has to say...
Question #1 - Where do you write and why do you write there?
Physically? Since my husband's giant fan has taken over my desk, I write either on the couch with my laptop on the coffee table, or I write in the de facto gaming room which is always either freezing, or a heat box. Neither are comfortable, but that's what's available to me. When NaNo rolls around, or whenever the adventurous mood strikes us, we go to a local coffee shop to write with our group or alone.
I also either outline, write quick scenes as they come to me, or jot down notes while I'm out and about, either in a notebook I designate for that sort of thing, or in a memo app on my phone.
In terms of writing software, I use Novel Factory software, which I wrote a review for on my website and Tumblr, and I pair it with 4thewords.com, a website that gamifies writing. It appeals to the nerd side of me, which, if I'm honest, is more than a side. It's pretty much both sides. Maybe even three sides. Those two digital places are where the bulk of my creative process happens and after that I edit and format in Word before publishing.
Question #2 - What is unique about writing for your particular genre?
I haven't written in many other genres to compare, but from my experiences I'd say is that I get to focus on world-building perhaps more than other genres. Speculative fiction as a whole lends to having to make your own worlds and the rules in which all the characters play. If we didn't have that aspect of it, I think we'd all just be writing in other genres that fit our sub-elements. Our diversity lies in our settings and the species of our characters and their made up cultures and, at least for me, the scientific principles that we play with and imagine under different circumstances.
Question #3 - What are some of your grammar or punctuation pet peeves?
My husband says I use commas too much, and there may be some truth to that. As for personal pet peeves, it's the little things that trip me up, mostly because I haven't seen a lot of (consistent) examples for what I want to convey in my work, whether my characters are stuttering or interrupting each other, or even interrupting themselves, and how I'm supposed to make that look on the page.
Do I still use punctuation, or just a line? Where does the comma go? Why does it look weird next to the quotation mark? Why can't my computer get that clean, long dash line I've seen in books? These things have never broken a novel for me, but it is a pet peeve when I have to deal with it until it looks good in whatever scene I'm writing.
Question #4 - At what point in your writing process do you start to bring other people in to review your work?
It varies by work. For the four years it took to write Star Dog Legacy, I couldn't get anyone to review it, at least beyond the first chapter or so. I was insecure about my writing and just wanted to see if it had a shot, but most everyone that promised to read it didn't follow through. I joined critique sites and jumped through a lot of hoops for very little reward. I think I even critiqued others' works more than I ever got in return. I eventually got tired of waiting. I wanted to be finished and move on.
In the end, the only people that read it all the way through (after it was all done, which was a condition) was my mother (not really a reader) and my husband (who is also a writer). Then I published. If I had more resources, I would have paid for beta readers and editing, but that's just not a possibility for me right now. For others who have read it after I published, I heard only good things.
In conclusion for my main novels that get published to Amazon, the only review they get as of right now is when they're halfway done, and then all finished, if I'm lucky enough to get that.
For my Channillo series, my work comes out too quickly to have someone review it, so it goes up as-is. The same goes for any flash fiction I post on my website. I tend to write clean though, and I always edit everything myself, and I always read my notes and outlines to make sure I didn't miss anything and everything's on track. I intend to do more formal editing later for when I bundle shorter works for Amazon publication.
This process might change in the future though as I gain more resources and followers and adapt my processes. I'm open to starting an ARC Reader program and seeking more beta readers in the future, and some things will be available on my Patreon early, but everything is time sensitive. Creating new content is my main goal, and I have so many books in the pipeline I have to write, and sometimes I can't wait for someone to review it.
Question #5 - What advice would you give to a new writer about the writing process?
Write. Every. Single. Day. Even if it's a journal entry or an observation. Then, once you get an idea for a project, just do it. You can't wait for a muse, as it is popularized on TV or in movies. You have to sit down and make it happen, and it won't always be easy. Do some outlines, make some goals (daily word count goals, scene goals, chapter goals, or whatever else), and then stick to them, at least about 80% of what you promised yourself. If you have a story to tell, get it out there however you can. If you love writing and it's your passion, then that's all that matters.
Most importantly, don't languish for years like me and worry about every little thing. I became much happier when I finally decided I didn't need a golden stamp of approval. It was my first book, and it's not perfect, but it's far from my last. I mentally got rid of my internal perfectionist, at least long enough to hit the publish button. No matter how much you edit and prepare (which you should do a reasonable amount anyways because you do care about quality in the first place), you're eventually going to have to wrap it up and say goodbye. Then you work on the next book, and it'll be easier, and you'll be better.
Thank you Lucas for the time you took in preparing these answers. I agree, “If you have a story to tell, get it out there however you can. If you love writing and it's your passion, then that's all that matters.” Great advice!
If you want to learn more about Lucas, check out his website. Everything he posts there gets pushed to his Twitter feed. He also has a Tumblr feed to follow. And, of course, check him out on Amazon and on Channillo.com.
If you would like to be featured as a writer in the #WritersQuick5 series, please just reach out and let me know. I’d love to promote your work as well!
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