Blarg!

Bill's blog. Writing, guitars, gratuitous Simpsons references, you'll find i​t all here. Almost certainly a waste of time for both you and the author. On the internet, that's actually a plus.

New column: Motivate Yourself with Ten Tips on Self-Motivating Yourself

photo by  aronbaker2

photo by aronbaker2

Check out my new column on Writer Unboxed: Motivate Yourself with Ten Tips on Self-Motivating Yourself.

Some days, the words flow from your fingers like water. Other days, they—ooh, look, somebody posted a picture of their dog on Facebook! If you’re feeling burned out, I’m here to help you get fired up to get back to work.

  1. Set a regular schedule. To paraphrase Stephen King, the muse will visit you more often if she knows where to find you. Set a regular writing time for yourself. It makes the joy of creating new worlds and characters as much fun as a day at the office or going to school, except you’re doing it at 5 in the morning. (Though some people prefer evenings, when they’re already exhausted from their other responsibilities.)
  2. Jog your memory. Read what you wrote yesterday and challenge yourself to do even better today. Based on the fact that you’re reading an article on self-motivation, surpassing yesterday’s output should be a pretty easy bar to clear.
  3. Rekindle the romance. There’s something you loved about this project that made you want to exchange all of your free time for it, right? Think of your writing time like a date with your special someone. True, sometimes it feels like you’re dating a cruel taskmaster who inflicts constant pain on you, but some folks pay professionals lots of money for that type of experience.

Read the whole thing here.

New short story: "A Crawlspace Full of Prizes" in UFO 6

ufo6_ cover.jpg

My latest short story, "A Crawlspace Full of Prizes," is available now in Unidentified Funny Objects, Volume 6. It's one of my favorites. It's a classic tale of an everyman who, while going into his crawlspace to put away the Christmas decorations, finds a fully-staffed prize counter to a Dave & Busters.  

Here's an excerpt:

Thursday, you walk around to the rear of your house to the crawlspace to put away a box of Christmas decorations for the year. You expect that behind the three-by-five crawlspace door will be the crawlspace, since it's right there in its name and everything. But instead of the musty smell of garden tools and old maple boards from that cutting board you tried to make but gave up on, you find a neon-lit room with day-glo carpet. Top-40 radio blares over loudspeakers that sound nicer than anything you've got in your den. At the center of the room is a glass display case filled with little plastic spider-rings and Pixy Stix, as well as other assorted knick-knacks, candies, baubles, and gee-gaws. You couldn't be more surprised if a bear had jumped out of the crawl space. A bear would've at least made a certain kind of sense. You mention this to Sean, the surly, skinny, pimply teen wearing a green polo shirt and nametag, standing behind the glass counter. You also ask him what the heck he's doing here, anyway?

"Because it's my shift," Sean tells you. 

How did he even get this job? This is your house, you protest. Surely there must be a mistake. Sean will have to leave this instant. And where are you supposed to put your Christmas decorations?

If there were competitions for such things, Sean's reply of, "I don't know what to tell you," would win gold for Least Helpful Phrase in the English Language.

You can buy your copy of UFO 6 at Amazon.

New column: Only 45 Shopping Days Until NaNoWriMo!

photo by  grapefruitmoon

Check out my new Hacks for Hacks column, fresh from the oven: Only 45 Shopping Days Until NaNoWriMo! Here's an excerpt:

We’re halfway through September, which means it’s almost October, better known as Secretly Start Working on your NaNoWriMo Novel Month. You probably know it by its acronym, SSWOYNANOWRIMONNOMO (which, by coincidence, is also a curse in a long-forgotten tongue, so don’t say it out loud lest you fall into the dreamless sleep of a thousand years, which will wreck your daily word count). Here’s the thing: Nobody is going to stop you from starting your NaNoWriMo novel early. Yes, I know the NaNoWriMo songs and stories about what happens to early starters, but we’re adults here. We can admit that Halifax the October Hobgoblin won’t steal all the vowels from your keyboard; that the Dropbox Gremlin isn’t going to replace entire chapters of your book with its erotic haiku while you sleep; and that the Eternal Editor will not demand you rewrite the entire manuscript if you ever want to see your doggo alive again. 

New column: How to give a literary reading

My new Writer Unboxed column is live today. The topic: How to give a literary reading, which you probably gathered by the title of this blog post. Anyway, here's an excerpt:

Before the Reading

  • Eat a healthy and delicious breakfast that morning.Choose wisely, as this is what you’ll be throwing up later due to your crippling stage fright.
  • Set the stage. Arrive at the venue early and get a lay of the land. Check if there will be a microphone or lectern or what-have-you. Look for opportunities for cool visuals, such as a blown-up picture of your book cover, or a big poster of your face like in Citizen Kane. Queue up some entrance music. Walking up to the mic through misty clouds from your smoke machine to the tune of “Rock You Like a Hurricane” will let your audience know that a serious author is taking the stage.
  • Choose the right piece to read. You’ll want something people can follow without you having to explain a bunch of backstory beforehand. The beginning of your book is a good choice. An exception to this rule is if you’re reading the first chapter of a sequel–to make sure people know what’s going on, be sure to read the climax of your previous book first.

New column: Please do not support my Patreon

Have you heard of Patreon? It’s a company that empowers crowd-sourced patronage of the arts, including but not limited to authors. By pledging monthly support at one of various patronage tiers, each with its own level of perks and rewards, you’re able to support your favorite writers directly. I have recently started my own, and it is my fondest wish that your patronage does not include me.

Read more at Writer Unboxed.

New column: "Bob Dylan’s Nobel-Prize Worthy Advice to Writers"

photo by Xavier Badosa

photo by Xavier Badosa

My new column is up at Writer Unboxed: "Bob Dylan’s Nobel-Prize Worthy Advice to Writers."

“When I start writing a song, I like to put together a real detailed outline first. Then I hand it over to some freelancers I know from the advertising business, and they hash out the chords and the lyrics while I cruise down to the club for a quick nine holes. Much more efficient this way. Production is up 23% this quarter. The market needs product, man. Gotta feed the beast.”

Go read the whole thing here.

New Column: Killer Apps for Writers

Check out my new column at Writer Unboxed, Killer Apps for Writers. I had a lot of fun writing this one. Here's an excerpt:

  • Something Just Came Up: Once per week, you’ll have to work on your manuscript at the same time as an event scheduled in your Google calendar. Prove your dedication to the craft by skipping a meeting at work, or by missing your kid score a goal in soccer while your eyes were focused on your laptop. Even more insidious: Each word you type on holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries counts double, so it’ll be REALLY tempting to write during those. If you fail to meet your session goal, you’ll receive a calendar invitation ominously titled “FUNERAL FOR THE DILETTANTE” scheduled for exactly one week later. You will try to RSVP “no,” but will find you cannot.
  • Pop Quiz, Hotshot!: This Android and iPhone app will surprise you once a day by demanding you write 250 words. The good news: You have a whole hour to do this. The bad news: You’ll get locked out of your phone if you fail.

Go read the whole thing, why don't you?


Killer Apps for Writers via WriterUnboxed

New Column: Boost Your Writing Career by Faking Your Death

Photo by David Merrett

Photo by David Merrett

New column! Read it!

Here's an excerpt:

You’ve tried everything—publishing, self-publishing, vanity publishing, e-publishing, third-person publishing—but you just can’t achieve the breakthrough success you’ve always desired. No mere mortal can climb Slush Mountain of their own accord; you must become something more. You must encase yourself in a foolscap chrysalis and emerge even better than your best self. You must summon all your creative power, all your skill, all your life experience to give life to—then take it from—the greatest literary mind of the twenty-first century: yourself.

Boost Your Writing Career by Faking Your Death via Writer Unboxed