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4 Bits of Advice From A New Author-For A New Author

4 Bits of Advice From A New Author-For A New Author

I reached out to Harper the day she started sending out ARCs to the masses and asked her to write this post for me while the pain of birth was still fresh in her mind. There are so many things to learn as a new author and the path to publication is never the same for any of us. Here are the top four pieces of advice Harper has for you based on her own rocky road.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting…to Be an Author

 

Having just hit publish on my first novel, I realized the familiarity of the feeling the experience left me with. I felt like I had just given birth. I did–in a very real way. Up until my manuscript was completed, the idea that I was writing a novel was an abstract and it wasn’t until I had typed those two damning words that I understood what I’d just done. Much like with my first child, now that it was here I realized I had no idea what the hell to do next.

So I’d written a book. Great. Amazing. A huge feat for me. But what now? As a novice on the writing scene, I had few avenues I could take and even fewer resources to get me where I needed to go. A couple of form rejection letters were enough to turn me away from traditional publishing which left me with the seemingly monumental task of going the self-publishing route.

I was a stranger in a strange land.

Sadly, through years of conflict, subversion and mistrust, few within the industry are willing to offer their hard-earned wisdom to the newcomers and understandably so. The self-publishing ocean is full of sharks. Consequently, I learned by trial and error with the help of a few kind souls willing to take a chance on a dewy-eyed publishing virgin and break me in gently. What did I learn? I’m so glad you asked.

First: Expect to rewrite until your eyes bleed. Writing isn’t enough. Polish your end product. Edit the ever loving hell out of it. Make sure every ‘t’ is crossed and every ‘I’ is dotted. This is your first time out of the gate; make sure you’re showing your readers the kind of quality you want them to expect from you. You’re already the new kid on the block in a neighborhood full of writers who have honed their craft and worked their way up the Independent ladder. You have some hard acts to follow, make sure you can keep up.

Second: Expect to go back to school. If you can’t afford professionals, you have a lot you’ll have to learn. Most authors have jobs that pay because, frankly, writing doesn’t unless your last name is King or Patterson. So unless you have a fairy bookmother, you’re going to have to do more than just write. Brush up on your Photoshop skills. Learn how to write blog posts and make teasers. Look up cover design specs and give yourself a refresher on those grammar classes you skipped in high school. You’re going to need them. I offer you this much–if you’ve ever wondered what the 7th level of Hell might really be like, I recommend trying to read a CS8 manual to figure out where your margins just went.

Third: Expect to shake a lot of virtual hands. The lifeline of the independent author belies the title we’ve been given. We are almost completely dependent on a pool of peers to get our work out there. Readers, bloggers…other authors… all are invaluable when it comes to getting your name seen in the already overwhelming pool of works that hit eBook retailers every day. You are going to have to interact with *gasps and clutches pearls* people. I know–it terrified me, too. Just square your shoulders, take a deep breath and put yourself out there. Word of mouth is a powerful tool so make sure yours is always kind. Be polite. Be professional. You are just beginning to build your image. They say never to judge a book by its cover. However, you are your book’s cover and people will judge. Put your best foot forward and do your damnedest not to put in it your mouth in the process.

Finally: Expect to be in it for the long haul. Perseverance. Resilience. Fortitude. A stiff drink wouldn’t be remiss from time to time. Writing isn’t for the thin-skinned or the faint-hearted. The first book you sell isn’t the beginning of your career and the first bad review you get isn’t the end. It’s not an easy road we’ve chosen to walk. It’s long and full of challenges at every turn. You’re going to have days when you wonder why you bother. Keep going. I promise you, in spite of all the late nights of hard work and hours of networking until your social skills were sore; the first time you hold your work in print it will all be worth it. Just like having a child, you’ll run your fingers along its brand new spine and forget the pain and exhaustion that came with making it. You’ll want to do it all over again. So go ahead. Write another one. I’ll be right there with you.

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Born in Southeastern Ohio, Harper L. Jameson has always had an active imagination, first finding her love of books through the works of Stephen King at a young age. Then with her mother’s influence, she found the romantic works of Beatrice Small and Johanna Lindsey and whole new worlds were opened to her. With the encouragement of family and friends, she began to create worlds of her own. Worlds of love and magic, of men and monsters and sometimes, they all intertwine in dark and delightful ways. Come in, she has stories to tell.

If you like to laugh and enjoy gems of insight and advice delivered with a sense of humor, you need to follow Harper. I’ll even make it easy for you:
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For more hints and tips on navigating the Indie world, check out a few of my other posts!

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Posted by on May 23, 2016 in Guest Posts

 

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5 Things Authors Keep Forgetting

5 Things Authors Keep Forgetting

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Whether you’re self-published or one of the old-school traditionalists, chances are pretty high that you’ve been guilty of at least one of these at some point in your career. They’re easy slip-ups that can pretty easily leave a bad taste in the mouths of your readers and the kick-ass bloggers who make our little world go ’round.

Humility

**gasp** I know, I know. Why would an author need humility? I mean, you wrote the best novel ever, right? Everyone should recognize that and bask in the glory that is your God-like mastery of the written word. Well, chances are good that you didn’t actually write the best novel ever. As a matter of fact, statistically speaking, you probably didn’t even hit the radar for the Top 100. That’s not to say your book isn’t good, or even great, but let’s be honest here: We can’t all be F. Scott Fitzgerald. Hell, we’ll never even be J.K. Rowling.

That being said, even Nora Roberts knows the importance of humility. Staying humble and remembering that you’re just another human being trapped on a spinning ball of rock, hurling through space and narrowly dodging catastrophic collisions with other heavenly bodies, can go a long way.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: People aren’t going to buy a book just because you tell them to. People aren’t going to buy a book because the cover’s pretty (although the chances are much higher if the cover is actually pretty). People are going to buy a book because they want to support the author. Take a step back and ask yourself if you’re being the kind of person people want to like. Is your social media just link after link after link to your chosen POS? Do you give your readers a chance to get to know you?

Friends and Family are the easy sales, folks. Why would you not want your fan base to be made up of friends? Please, for the love of all things holy (to be read as “cheese”), stop chasing your own fans off!

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Don’t be this asshole!

Marketing

In stark contrast to humility, we’ve got marketing. Much like the hydra, every time you think you’ve ticked a box off the marketing to-do list, fifteen thousand nine hundred and twenty-seven more checkboxes show up to stare at you with their beady little glowing eyes of doom. I can’t tell you how many times I see authors publish and assume the book will well itself.

For most of us, this is probably the worst part of publication. Writers are, by nature, I think, an introverted species. We love to be around people, but only so we can watch them and dissect how they behave and interact with one another so that we might, one day, write that revolutionary piece of literature that strikes to the heart of human relations and rockets us onto the aforementioned Top 100 list. Alas, the moment our subjects turn their friendly gaze upon us, it’s like we’ve been pinned to the wall with razor-sharp daggers. The panic sets in and we start looking for escape routes and silently cursing ourselves for not taking note of the exits like James Bond taught us. There’s only one option left as the guy you’d been watching smiles and takes that first step toward you: Kill everyone in the room and burn the evidence.

Fortunately (or not), most authors are only trained killers in theory, not so much in practice.

As the invader approaches, your brain shuts down, overwhelmed at the idea of actually holding a conversation with another human being. You’re acting on instinct and your fight or flight kicks in. We’ve already established that fighting isn’t really an option, so you run like hell, clenching your ass-cheeks together and faking a case of explosive diarrhea. So much better than having to deal with real people.

This tactic is great for our personal comfort levels, but not-so-great for selling books. You have to be personable. Even with the backing of a major publishing house, authors need to be able to interact with their fan bases. You’ve gotta talk to people, folks. I know it’s hard. I know it’s terrifying. I also know it’s necessary.

My method is simple: I interact like mad on Facebook (the easy part) and I’ve gone to carrying business cards around in my wallet. All it takes is a simple “Hello, I just published my first (or tenth) book. What are you doing with your life?” (You can probably drop off that last part for the sake of humility, but you get the picture.)

The moment someone finds out you’re an author, there will be one of two responses:
1) “I don’t read. When does the movie come out?”If this is the response you get, all you have to do is remember the time you had to Google self-defense for that one scene and aim for the throat.
2) “You write books? Where can I get them?” BINGO. Hand them a business card, smile, and pull up your Amazon reviews on your smart phone. Chances are good they’ll pull out their own phone then and there and one-click that shiz! (I did this four times yesterday and sold four books.)

Blog

This one is my personal downfall. I forget to blog (I think it’s been almost a year since my last post) and it’s really hard to get into the habit.

My reasoning behind this little piece of advice is simple: It gives readers a free taste of your writing style and it’s a free marketing tool to get your name out there. You can’t really ask for a more effective tool.

Read

This one seems like a no-brainer, but stop and ask yourself how long it’s been since you’ve taken time away from writing to actually read. Personally, I go through a book or two a week. Primarily because it’s easier to read at my day job than it is to write.

You need to read. Especially in your genre. It’s a roadmap to better writing. It keeps your eyes sharp (“Why would you put a comma there?” or “OMG! Typo!”) and it trains your brain to think in a more natural cadence. You’ll find that the more you read, the less you’ll find yourself editing when that first draft is finished. It’s also a fantastic tool for overcoming writer’s block. My favorite thing in the world is when I finish a good book and suddenly can’t wait to sit down at the computer and bang out all the words. Nora Roberts in particular has a penchant for making me want to write.

Review

This one is a touchy subject for many authors and, honestly, I can’t say I blame them. Leaving honest reviews is hard for everyone. Leaving an honest “bad” review is even more difficult. A lot of the authors I know simply refuse to leave reviews because they’re afraid that author will send their cronies out to destroy their reputation.

Here’s my advice: Be respectful, be honest, and be constructive. This community can be brutal. There’s no denying that. However, we know that reviews can make or break an author. We spend a good portion of our time trying to convince people to leave them for us. Why would we not be willing to do the same for a fellow author?

If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of leaving a less-than-stellar review, be sure to tell the author why it didn’t resonate with you. Especially if you’re like me and pay money for your books, even if you receive an ARC. I am entitled to my opinion and, if you’re a professional, you can take a little criticism and find a way to make yourself better.

We, meaning authors, have to learn to take criticism. As nice as it would be, we can’t all win a trophy. That’s not how the world works. There are no “safe zones” and yes, words can hurt like a bitch. But they also have the power to create change. As authors, that should always be our goal. We’re in the very unique position of knowing what a bad review feels like and also knowing that we could all use a little advice every now and then. Take the bad reviews with a grain of salt and find the nugget of good advice that can generally be found in every single review you receive. Sticking your head in the sand or throwing a temper tantrum isn’t going to make it go away. It’s either going to make you continue writing poorly or it’s going to make people afraid to leave reviews altogether. Neither option is good for your career or mine.

As always, I hope these tips have been helpful! If you have an aspect of ‘The Biz’ you’d like me to talk about, let me know down in the comments! I’ve been through the process of publishing seven times now and I’m always happy to share what I’ve learned!

You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Instagram.

Oh, and BUY MY BOOKS!

Happy writing! ~D

 

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DO: Promote


This, my friends, is an endless, uphill battle. It’s also a terrifyingly fine line to walk.

You can only blast your social media circles with BUY MY book posts so many times before people start hiding (or worse, unfollowing) you, right? I mean, we’ve all done it. We all know at least ONE of those people who uses social media for absolutely NOTHING but pushing sales.

This post will, in the long run, be one of those.

For now, let’s talk about HOW you should be promoting.

Instead of scheduling posts with buy links to go live every hour on the hour and then walking away from your page, you should probably try to be a little more engaging. There are MILLIONS of books for your readers to choose from. If they were only in it for the book, nobody would ever be able to make a decision. Successful authors are the ones who remember who pays the bills. TALK TO YOUR FANS, DAMMIT!

It’s insane how often I see fledgling indie authors who don’t do this. People aren’t going to buy your book just because you tell them to. People are going to buy your book PRIMARILY because they like YOU. My fans are fans of ME first and my work second. Why is that? Well, because I talk to them. If someone can take the time to comment on my status, the LEAST I can do is like said comment. USUALLY, I end up having quite a back and forth with them. Our conversations, on a normal day, range from about 5 replies to 20 replies. 10 to 40 seconds of my day was given to that person and chances are pretty good that that alone will land me future sales.

Pretty good investment if you ask me.

Interacting with your fan base is THE most important aspect of being a successful ANYTHING.

Followed shortly by generating word-of-mouth. This is where the actual quality of your work comes into play. Now that you have your die hard 1-clickers, you need to give them something that they can talk about with their friends and family. If one of my friends says to me, “OMG! You NEED to read this book!” I’m MUCH more likely to actually pick it up VS the author of the book telling me, “OMG! You NEED to read this book!” I mean… Of COURSE the author is going to say that, right? Another relatively simple way to get some buzz going is to reach out to book bloggers.

These people LOVE to read and they LOVE to talk about reading. 99.9% of the time all you have to do is go to their Facebook page, read their “About” section to see if they do promo stuff for authors, make sure they cover your genre, see if they have special submission guidelines (EXTRA IMPORTANT!!!), etc… More often than not, the admins names will be in there as well. If you can send them a message that starts with their name, it shows that you actually took the time to go out of your way and get familiar with their blog. That goes a LONG way in beginning a positive, beneficial relationship. Trust me: These people are the people who will make or break you. You WANT them to love you.

Kiss. Their. Asses. It’s worth it. Believe me.

Not to mention most of them are actually REALLY awesome people!

And that leads us into blog tours. You will want to start setting these up MONTHS in advance. Try to get promo posts set up with your participating blogs leading up to release day. Ask them if they do author interviews (these are my FAVORITE things in the whole wide world), character interviews, takeover events, guests posts, etc… ANYTHING that will get some hype going pre-release.

You’re also going to want to get your ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) out to them AT LEAST a month in advance. I don’t recommend going much further out than that, but a solid four weeks gives them enough time with your manuscript to read through it, write a well-structured review, and if they loved it, they’ll be talking about it while they wait for release day. This is what you want. Remember, these people are SUPER busy and they do all of this for FREE. Don’t pester them about it. Don’t freak out if they haven’t sent you an email the day before release day. Most of them won’t. Just watch your POS (point of sale) site on release day and wait for the reviews to roll in.

THEN SHARE THEM.

Most bloggers put a considerable amount of time into their reviews (we’re talking PARAGRAPHS, folks) and they LOVE when you share that hard work for them. It’s WAY better than a “thank you” note. Share the review and tag them where you can. That increases traffic to their page and keeps all of us in business.

I’ll even recommend a few of my favorites to get you started:
Books, Chocolate and Wine
Glass Paper Ink Bookblog
WhirlwindBooks
FMR Book Grind
Wicked Reads
2 Girls Who Love Books
Hopelessly Devoted 2 Books
PBC
These are just a few of the MANY blogs that have supported me throughout my career and they’re honestly an absolute joy to work with. I could go on for DAYS, but these ones came to mind most readily.

I’m not going to blow sunshine up your ass and tell you this stuff is simple. It’s not. It requires a LOT of work and a calendar on your phone that will send you notifications to remember that you have things to do. What I WILL tell you is that it’s worth the time you have to put into it. I WILL tell you that it’s going to take away from your writing time and your family time and your “real job” time. I WILL tell you that even if you do ALL of these things, there’s no guarantee that your book will hit Bestseller (none of mine have yet, but I’ve come VERY close this last time around). And I will also tell you that if you DON’T do these things, your career as an indie author will be very short lived.

Oh, by the way, you NEED to read this book!

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You can read it for FREE if you have KU or Prime!
US: http://amzn.com/B00YDVCK50
UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00YDVCK50
CA: http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00YDVCK50
AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B00YDVCK50?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

I also do interviews, guest posts, takeovers, and happily let you cry on my shoulder if you’re having a bad day. Feel free to email me at author.david.michael@gmail.com or hit me up in the comments below!

You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter!

As always, Happy Writing!
D

 
 

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If The English Language Had Been Made As A School Assignment…


Weekend Writer Reblog! Once a week (every Friday) I will be reblogging a favorite blog post from throughout the week for your enjoyment! These can be from blogs I follow, blogs that are Freshly Pressed, blogs that I stumble upon of my own accord or , the way I’d PREFER it to be, blogs that YOU GUYS recommend! So please, if you see something, SAY something! If it’s about writing, publishing or books, I’ll consider it for sure!

The Byronic Man

First off, this is very thorough.  Great job – you’ve got everything here a language needs to be not only functional, but allow for nuance, tone, even connotation.

I do have some concerns, though.

funny-pictures-german-language-meme-5The first is there seem to be some important words missing.  Example: There’s an entire entertainment industry built off of enjoying other people’s misfortune and humiliation, yet there’s no word for it.  Hans, in the language he wrote, came up with “Schadenfreude.” Yes, I know the words and spelling in Hans’ language are kind of over the top and occasionally hilarious, but he has words for everything.

Second, is that your language seems a little scattershot with the rules. To be honest, most of them.  It seems like there are very few rules without exceptions. Example: this “i before e” thing.  “I before e” – clear enough; “except after c” – why?  Is there some purpose? …

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Don’t: Defeat Yourself


Do or do not There is no try.

Do or do not
There is no try.

It amazes me how much this little green Jedi has influenced my life with his wisdom. The line quoted in the picture above has been a bit of a personal mantra for me since I was knee high to a grasshopper (thanks in LARGE part to my grandmother who is a little obsessed with this diminutive Degoba dweller).

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

A more powerful statement in so few words has not been made in the history of ever. Entire books have been penned on this very matter and can be quite lucrative—Jordan Belfort, Author and Motivational Speaker, has a net worth of $100 Million.

How can people make so much money driving home such a simple idea?!

Well, it’s because most of us are hell bent and determined to give up before we even get going. How many times have you found yourself thinking, “How can I even compare with XYZ?” or “I’ll never be JK Rowling, so why even try?” My answer to this is simple: Stop trying and just DO it.

You may not ever be as successful as Rowling or Tolkien or even Stephanie Meyer, but if you don’t sit down at that keyboard and pound away at those keys, you’ll never know now will you?

The only way you’ll ever become a successful writer is to write. Every day. Even if it’s only a single page of garbage, at least you’re writing. Nobody produces perfection without practice. It’s just not possible. Stephen King was once quoted for saying

“When asked, “How do you write?” I invariably answer, “One word at a time,” and the answer is invariably dismissed. But that is all it is. It sounds too simple to be true, but consider the Great Wall of China, if you will: one stone at a time, man. That’s all. One stone at a time.
But I’ve read you can see that motherfucker from space without a telescope.”

It’s crude and unrefined (King isn’t one for “polite society”) but the man makes one hell of a point. It is WAY too easy to become overwhelmed when you sit down and say to yourself, “Okay! Only two hundred and ninety pages to go!”… Knock that shit off. Write a thousand words per day. End of story. Some days you’ll be hit by divine inspiration and kick out ten thousand words (and then crawl in a whole and die of emotional exhaustion for several hours), but I beg you: Write at least one thousand EVERY day. When I’m in creative mode, I average about 21 WPM. 48 minutes of my day to hit that one thousand mark is a very small price to pay for the sake of honing my talent. At that rate, I could have a word count worthy of a novel in 60 days.

Either do it or don’t. Just stop telling yourself that you’ll try it tomorrow.

As always, happy writing!
D

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2013 in Literary Dos and Don'ts

 

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Absenteeism


First and foremost, I would like to apologize for my lack of content lately. Due to unforeseen circumstances, my blog fell to the bottom of my To Do list. For this, I sincerely apologize.

However, I would like to offer you an explanation for my Absenteeism:

First, I’ve been tossed into the line for a promotion at work. This is fantastic news as it would allow me a more flexible schedule and a significant raise. In an effort to obtain that promotion, I’ve been busting my butt to make an impression on the eBay Powers-That-Be. As you can imagine, that takes up a good portion of my free time!

I have also been working on books 2 and 3 in The United Series while I wait for my last beta reader to get her notes back to me for the first book in the series. I’ve got a lot to do before my December 1st release date! (Yes, this is the official announcement of the release date!)

Yesterday, I got a letter in the mail from my school. While this is nothing out of the ordinary, it does give a little bit of insight as to why my blog has been a little stagnant over the last few months. I pulled the envelope out of my mailbox and, assuming that it was a letter letting me know that the financial aid office was missing yet another piece of paperwork that would end up being vital to my continued education, I opened it post-haste. The piece of paper that I removed from that envelope knocked me on my butt and moved me to tears:

“Dear David:

Congratulations! President Cythia Bioteau and Academic & Career Adivising are pleased to announce that your outstanding academic performance in Spring 2013 has earned you a place on the President’s List. The effort you put forth to earn the grades necessary for this recognition is commendable.

This selection is based on the completion of at least 15 graded credits, while earning a grade point average of 3.8 or above. This accomplishment is a source of shared satisfaction – the pleasure we feel in your outstanding scholarship in our college and the pride you must feel in your own success.

We hope the certificate below will have meaning to you and that you will continue your hard work. We are proud of your achievement and wish you continued success.

Sincerely,
Sonia Parker, Director
Academic & Career Advising”

Needless to say, I was floored. The highest my GPA ever reached in Junior High and High School was 1.6 so this is a HUGE accomplishment for me and has sparked my desire to remain on this list and graduate with High Honors. As you can imagine, this requires a lot of time and devotion to attending classes and doing mountains of homework.

Now, a lot of you might be saying, “You wrote a blog to tell us that you’ve been busy?” The answer to that is both yes and no. You all took enough interest in my blog to follow me, so at the very least you deserve an explanation for my lack of faithful posting. More importantly, though, is the example that I hope this provides. I have suddenly become the poster child for the phrase “You can do anything you put your mind to.” and I sincerely hope that SOMEONE walks away thinking, “Hell, if HE can do it, so can I!”

I want to take this time to assure you that my blog will be moved up my priority list and I will make a conscious effort to continue to provide high quality information as my adventures in the industry continue forward. Stay tuned for more inspiration and advice!

As always, happy writing!
D

P.S.
Not a single one of you submitted any pieces to me for my Free Publicity! Every Week Even! post… So I think I am going to change it up a little next week, so make sure you keep your eye out for that update!

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2013 in Mountains and Mole Hills

 

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Branching Out


Well good morning, everyone!
As I sit here at work, I’m thinking about Saved (the third book in the United series) and I’m being flooded with awesome ideas for random scenes throughout the remainder of my plot. I realize that, for those of you who have ever written, this isn’t really big news. It happens all the time. My issue is this: EVERYTHING I have ever written has been written in a linear fashion. The idea I’m toying with is going to tear me away from that comfort zone.
I know there are a lot of people out there who will write the bigger, more important scenes as they come to them and then play connect the dots later. I have yet to try this style of writing and, frankly, It’s scary. I can’t quite nail it down to one specific thing that freaks me out, but SOMETHING about it has me pausing on the edge.
It may be that there’s some strange gene inside of us that is required to be a writer. I mean, in order to undertake the time honored tradition of putting ink to the page, there has to be something inside of you that has a penchant for lost arts. I don’t know of a single author who isn’t also a basket weaver, or sock darner, or magician. SOMETHING that takes a very specialized knowledge that not many people go out of their way to learn. An indication that we’re indignant in the face of change? Clinging to these dying traditions in one way or another has to say SOMETHING about our psyche, right?
I’m going to stick with that assessment either way. It gives me something to face head on and work to overcome. If any of you have any advice for me as to switching up one’s writing style, PLEASE leave a comment! Any pitfalls or pleasures that I’m bound to encounter deserve a warning flag.
With my feet dangling off the edge, I wish you happy writing!
D

 
 

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