Author Voices

As I type this, I have three author voices – the children’s book voice (Barbara Ann Burgess), the blog and article writing voice (Barbara Burgess), and the romance voice (Lily Dae). Come July, I will have another author voice to add to the club house of writers that inhabit my mind: B.A. Burgess, scifi and miscellaneous fiction writings.

Author Voices vs Pen Names

I get a little bent when people call my author voices pen names. I’ve called them pen names in the past which makes me aggravated at myself, but I did it to keep things from getting complicated.

If ever there was a place to get complicated and wax philosophical about something as meaning less as a pen name, it’s on a blog. So, here’s the conversation I try to avoid having with people concerning my author voices and why they aren’t pen names.

Unwitting Person (UP): Why do you write under a pen name?

Me: I don’t.

UP: Yes, you do. That romance book. You wrote that under a pen name.

Me: It’s a voice.

UP: A voice?

Me: Yeah. An author. One of the many that live in my head.

UP: You hear voices, homey?

Me: No, but different stories require different writing styles and a different “mojo” if you will. So, I let different writing voices write different books.

UP: So, you basically get possessed and write all this shit?

Me: No, Jason. Listen very closely – Pen names are meant to hide the identity of the author. I don’t care if people know I wrote any of this stuff, but I need to keep all of the different genres separated by tone. The easiest way to do that is to organize them by voice. Giving each voice a name makes it easier for people to find the work they want to read, and it makes it easy for me to slip in and out of genres without getting writer’s fatigue. Does that make more sense?

UP: I don’t care anymore.

Me: I don’t either, man. I don’t either.

End of Song.

3 Pieces of Writing Advice

I like to finish projects. In order to get the rush of finishing something, everything I do needs to be efficient. It also means that I need to be okay with minimum viable products (MVP) while I am finding a system or process to do the thing I am setting out to do.

I am, among other things, a children’s book author. Children’s books are roughly 32 pages long and can have any number of words. Typically, they are mostly images, right? So, why, dear friends, did it take me nine months to write my first one?

I’ll tell you — overthinking.

I poured over my favorite children’s books from my childhood. I read new children’s books that were nothing like the books from my childhood. I asked everyone there opinion on using what I call “Scrabble words” in books for younger audiences. I asked people’s opinion on my book before I had even written it!

Do you see what I am getting at?

Here’s from friendly, generally writing advice:

1) No one in your inner circle is going to be your number one fan for your writing. Let them buy your book to support you, but don’t ask them to elaborate on their love of your work. Just say thank you, because they most likely didn’t read it. They are proud of you though, so let them be proud. Again — Just say thank you.

2) Since you aren’t worried about your friends and family reading what you’re writing, don’t worry about the language or ideas contained within your work. Use the language that is right for the piece, not the people. Your story will find its audience when it is finished, and you can help to shape that audience by adding language warnings, selecting demographics to advertise to, or publishing in specific categories.

3) Reading is a great idea, but I personally cannot read anything while I’m writing. It slows me down. So, yes, of course, read much as you like, but just read. Don’t compare yourself.

Read as a reader. Write as a writer.

New Year’s Resolutions – Writer’s Style

As we move into the new decade, we writers need to come to terms with what worked for over the last ten years versus what didn’t work for us so well. That means telling ourselves some hard truths about our habits and fears.

No More Half Written Novels

Stop calling your short stories, novelettes, novellas, whatever “half-written.” It’s rude. It hurts their feelings.

There is nothing wrong with writing short. If you’ve said all there is to say about Tom and Jacob’s tricycle gang that sold abandoned souls on the black market in 3500 words or less, then cool! Leave them to live their lives in those 3500 words.

Move on with your life. Stop using them as an excuse not to write that other story that you’ve been telling your friends you’ll “get to after your first book is done.”

MVP. Minimum viable products will get you through this.

The Book in Your Head Finally On Paper

You do not get a reward for thinking about writing a book just like no one gets brain surgery by me because I thought about becoming a brain surgeon.

Write it down. Type it. Speak it into a recorder or dictation device. Do something to free your characters from your mind.

You are their only hope of having their story told, so what, my darling, are you waiting for?

Read Less. Write More.

2017 was the last year I read 100 books in a year. Last year, I read 76 books. This year, I’ve read a little over 20.

In the last two years, I’ve written one novelette (and published it) and one soft sci-fi novel.

Additionally, I’ve begun teaching writing to fellow writers.

Reading is wonderful, but writing makes you a writer. Do both in as balanced a fashion as possible.

Write Daily, But Don’t Be A Jerk About It

Keeping that balance means writing daily, but be kind to yourself. I am not a fan of setting daily word count goals. I get credit every time I write anything toward my end goal. If I am not working on a book, then journaling and blogging count.

Penning poems and short pieces of fiction without planning are all forms of writing and count toward your daily writing goal because they use your creative writing muscles.

Emails and newsletters shouldn’t count toward that goal, because those items are admin related.

Set these resolutions for yourself. Keep them for at least three months to see if they work for you. If they do, let me know when you’ve posted or published something. I’m rooting for you.