Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Road To Agoura Hills

About a year ago, a friend of mine told me about the hundreds of people across the country who go missing each year in our national parks. In a moment of sheer hubris, I told him I could figure it out.

Sure; a mystery that's been going on for decades, but I'm gonna be the one to put it together. Humility wasn't one of my strengths.

Of course, I was only able to put together the slightest bits of info, but I have far more qualified friends. So I asked them to look into it.

That's when things got weird.

All I kept hearing about was the unbreakable wall that no one had been able to get through when it came to looking at these disappearances. For whatever reason, law enforcement did not want to discuss the issue. At all.

Which begged the question; just what the hell is happening to people out there?

The reports strain the limits of plausibility. People aren't just disappearing; some of them reappear, miles away from where they were taken in a relatively short time. No one seems to have an explanation for this. The missing can't recall what happened.

People don't just disappear. Something happens to them, and no one wants to talk about it.

So I approached Agoura Hills with the idea of telling a thriller; people are going missing, but if you read the prequel Agoura Territory, you'll at least have an idea why. The question these characters face is, can they stop it from happening again?

This is the most difficult story I've ever undertaken because these characters are not like me. The central character, fourteen at the time, is logical, timid, and very forward thinking. No one will ever call me those things. So writing a personality that doesn't so much sync with mine and making it plausible has been a challenge.

Agoura Hills could be small town USA. Everyone knows each other, grew up together, looks out for one another--and keeps each other's secrets. There isn't a soul who lives in Agoura Hills who does not have some idea as to what's going on, and watching them wrestle with the morality of their choices has been both gut wrenching and fun.

Both the first drafts of Agoura Hills and Agoura Territory are done, and the second drafts are underway. I'm trying to have them out on all e-readers and in print early next year.

Thanks for reading.

Avery K. Tingle "The Gamer Author" is the author of sci-fi/romance the Anniversary. Titles are available on Nook and Kobo too. If you’re new to Kobo, you can get both stories for free!
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Monday, November 28, 2016

One Hour A Day

That's all it takes to make it.

One hour, every single day, solely devoted to your craft.

The hour is hard. It gets a little easier over time.

First, you only produce a few words. With practice, you produce more.

First, it's 100.

Then it's 500.

Then it's 1,000.

You don't have to spend this entire hour all at once (though I recommend it). Fifteen minutes here, ten minutes there will do. So long as it adds up to one hour of productivity.

One hour a day, every single day, for one year, and I promise you'll see results.

Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What It REALLY Takes To Succeed As A Writer

The number one question I get asked is; what does it take to make it as a writer? How does one get published? Exactly how much coffee can the body tolerate?

A lot. The answer is a lot.

The truth is, there is no magic bullet, no special formula, no big secret. Sorry, guys. No there are no shortcuts. The truth is, almost everyone can write. You just have to make up your mind to do it.

But what separates the successes from the failures? That's a different story. A lot of factors go into whether or not one "makes it" in this business and a lot of it is decided by your own definition of success.

There are a lot of little things that go into a success story but I feel like the three most important aspects are as follows;

  • Perseverance
    I turned professional in 2008, when I won my first NaNoWriMo (if you haven't done that, you should). I did not start seeing traction in my career until 2015. That's almost ten years before I started seeing any tangible results. I'm still nowhere near where I want to be, but I have no intention of quitting, either.
    Forget what you've heard about the overnight success story; there's no such thing. These are people who toiled away in obscurity for years before finally writing something that resonated. Your first title probably won't succeed. Neither will your second. Or third. Maybe not even your tenth.
    But all this time, if you're learning, improving, and building your network, then these aren't failures; they're investments. The good news is that these investments do pay off, but the bad news is they take a lot of time and energy. So lower your shoulders and get ready for contact, because this is a long, rewarding road.
  • Practice
    WRITE EVERY DAY. There are arguments for and against this, I've tried both methods, and I've reached the conclusion that the only way to get better is to stay immersed in your craft. Write every single day. It doesn't have to be Shakespearean. It doesn't have to be anything anyone will ever read. But put words on paper every single day. Get in the habit of bringing your ideas into the real world. You'll see the quality of your work steadily improve. The Zone will be easier to slip into. Your good stuff will get better.
    Stay in shape. Write every day. Allow yourself one or two days every couple of weeks to let ideas simmer in your mind, and then stay focused.
  • Humility
    Far and away the most important aspect, and the hardest lesson to learn. I used to think humility was a lie, and I wish I could get that time back. I would have done better, sooner.
    Not trying to be mean here, but you're going to suck when you first start out. It's not your fault. Even the most natural talents require refinement to be realized. Your work, initially, isn't going to be that good. You're going to write something that may offend someone else and they'll have no problems telling you about it (by the way, never snap back to a negative comment or review). Your first few years in this business will not be easy. If you're doing this right, you'll spend a lot of time learning, unlearning, and relearning as you find your groove. If you treat this as a business you may yearn for the days when you could just write. It all serves a purpose, which is to improve your craft, which in turn allows you to produce better work, which in turn allows you to grow your fan base and God willing, your income.
    Never, ever assume you've learned everything. Be prepared to admit, publicly, when you're wrong. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Failure is not screwing up. Failure is refusing to try again after you have. 
There are other tidbits, like prioritizing your time (your most precious resource), and such, but these are the three most important facets when it comes to success as an author. The rest is up to you.

Good luck, happy writing, and thanks for reading.

Avery K. Tingle is the author of sci-fi/romance the Anniversary. Titles are available on Nook and Kobo too. If you’re new to Kobo, you can get both stories for free!
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Monday, October 17, 2016

On Breaking Up (In Writing)

Today, I finished the first draft of my alternate history fantasy "Hand of God", the first official story in the Era of the Scourge series. I figured I could leap right into the supernatural mystery thrillers "Agoura Territory", and "Agoura Hills".

The final word count for the first draft of alternate history fantasy "The Hand of God"

Something funny happened when I closed Hand of God, though. I tried to open the Agoura Duology and found myself stymied for words.

Some people describe a hollow feeling when they complete a project. I get that now. Closing Hand of God felt akin to a breakup. Not a bad one, but when two people reach the end of the road and agree with pained smiles that it's time to move on.

Even when done amicably, it still hurts.

That's when I closed the Agoura Duology to write this post.

When Hand of God was finished, the plan was to take a few days off. I've been so consumed by this story that I figured that I could use the time to recharge. But it's more than that.

The act of writing is a tremendous expense of energy, during which time you run the gamut from dangerously depressing to euphoria no stimulant can take you (trust me on that last one). When you do it right, you become a conduit to an imaginary world, and a whole slew of imaginary people and your words are the medium in which you are bringing these characters, and that world, to life.

Finishing that story means you have to say goodbye to those characters for a little while. Goodbyes hurt.

Finishing a story can be just as hard as beginning one; I learned that today. Jumping from one story to another is like leaping from relationship to relationship without taking any time to mourn the previous one.

If you've just finished a book, or a story, or a game, or what have you, take a little time to breathe, cherish the memories, and put it to bed before moving onto the next project. Your fans will thank you for the effort.

In the meantime, I'll return to Hand of God in January 2017 and take a few days before leaping back into the Agoura Duology.

Thanks for reading.

Avery K. Tingle is the author of scifi/romance the Anniversary. Titles are available on Nook and Kobo too. If you’re new to Kobo, you can get both stories for free!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Let's Talk About Homelessness.

I was predominantly homeless for ten years. The first stint of that homelessness was in my hometown of San Francisco. I have fond memories of the Aranda hotel on Turk in the TL, nodding off on BART and waking up to the treescape in Orinda, foraging good food and nighttime brawls outside of the (now defunct) Carl's Jr. at seventh and market. While I never want to be homeless again, those were some of the most educational years of my life.

So when I read an article about people with too much money trying to, once again, evict homeless from San Francisco, it hit home. Homelessness is not what you think, and it's a far more complex issue than we want to acknowledge. 

So let me lay out some truths you may not know about being homeless.

1). Not Everyone Is Homeless By Choice--But More And More Are.
Living out of doors is an incredibly liberating experience. You can pretty much go and do whatever you want. Fall asleep in one city, wake up in another. Repeat. Take a temp job (Labor Ready or some such), work it for one day, scrape up enough to eat and clean yourself, move on. 

What I enjoyed most about it was that I didn't have to put on a mask, or shield part of my personality. There was a simple, albeit brutal logic to street justice, and it's not what you see in the movies. People construed as fake, or who were not known for keeping their word, had a very hard time getting by. All you had to do was be honest and be willing to work. If you had these two things, you could survive.

2). A Great Deal Of People Have No Other Choice.
I promise you, no mother is standing out in thirty degree weather with her children because she wants to be there. There are more and more people who cannot go home, out of fear for their safety, than we all would like to admit. This is especially true for male victims of domestic violence (I speak from experience here). Resources are scarce and the stigma is worse. A piece of paper doesn't stop a dedicated loser for beating someone up or worse. Shelters can be crime centers, but at least on the street, you can keep moving. Hide. Stay alive.

3). We're Not As Big On Second Chances As We Pretend We Are.
We all make mistakes. Some of us make criminal mistakes. And the truth is, in a lot of cases, once we've served our time, society isn't as willing to welcome us back as they'd like to believe. 
The stigma of being a criminal is incredibly difficult to shake, especially when you're trying to go straight. I'm not speaking of violent, major offenses, either. Try attempting to get a job when you've just gotten out of jail. Seriously, go try. I'll wait. 
When you're trying to re-define yourself when the world has already made up it's mind about you, that can be crushing. Why bother? (I'm very driven, and I'll be damned if I was gonna let all my naysayers be right about me).

The truth is, there are a lot of underlying factors when it comes to homelessness. Yeah, there are people who game the system, and there are those who enjoy the life, but there are a great, great many more who had the life thrust upon them and can't find a way out. We will never be able to "get rid" of homelessness. You think evicting them is going to do any good? These are the most resourceful people on the planet. They'll just move somewhere else and smile at you while they do it. 

Rather than throw money at the (bad) idea of pushing these guys out of the city, we need to be putting money at expanding resources for those living out of doors, in fear, or trying to start over. The focus needs to be on turning people into productive members of our society, rather than shunning them.

I've been off the street for eleven years, thanks to the resources availed to me.

Thanks for reading. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Writer Essentials Bag (For Android Users)

I happened across this article from Lifehacker a little while back. It got me thinking; I enjoy Apple products but they're far outside of my price range. I glimpsed a thousand dollar iPad in Staples the other day. I balked so loud that the store associate asked if I was okay.

This is my writing setup. It's affordable and lets me get the job done.

  • KAKA Laptop Backpack
  • HP Pavilion 17 Notebook PC
  • LG V10 Phone
  • LG G Pad X 10.1

1). KAKA Laptop Backpack ($31, Amazon)

This sturdy, rugged backpack can handle anything I throw at it, Multiple inside pockets and two exterior side pouches hold all of my electronics, chargers, whatever I've packed for lunch, and even my gym clothes if I want to sneak in a workout on the day job.

2). HP Pavilion 17 Notebook PC ($478 Recertified, Walmart)

Perhaps the best, cheap little laptop I've ever owned. I've since invested a further sixty dollars to upgrade the memory to sixteen gigs, and there's been a drastic increase in performance since then. The laptop is a few years old and not only supports all of my writing effort, but long WoW marathons, too. Despite its age I have no plan to upgrade anytime soon.

3). LG V10 Phone ($694, AT&T)

Phones like this exist to remind you that there is a world of quality smartphones not named Samsung. A wide screen and expandable storage make this the perfect, on-the-go writing tool. The second screen at the top make accessing your favorite apps easy.

NOTE: I like this phone, but I plan to upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 as soon as they solve that pesky little exploding issue.

4). LG G Pad X 10.1 ($309, Amazon)

When you don't want to use the phone but don't feel like pulling out the laptop, there's this tablet. This handy little case makes it perfect for writing at a slant or watching netflix for when you know, you're "doing research".

This entire setup, complete with apps like Kindle, Google Keep, and Jotterpad, will run you about $1,500, or substantially less up front of you get plan from AT&T.

This is how I work.

Thanks for reading.

Avery K. Tingle is the author of scifi/romance the Anniversary. Titles are available on Nook and Kobo too. If you’re new to Kobo, you can get both stories for free!
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Friday, September 2, 2016

On Facebook: Just Because No One Is Liking...

Social media can be a tough board to break. It feels like screaming into the void; you put all this time and effort into this epic content, you throw it up on your blog, your fan pages, and then...nothing happens.

Oh dear Zod, why am I doing this to myself? You may ask. It can be torturous, putting everything you have into something only to have no one appear to care what you're doing.

Well, this post is for you.

I've managed a Facebook Fan page for three or four years now. I've managed to garner over twelve hundred people there, and the interaction fluctuates largely because I've put no money into boosting posts or the like. This will change next year. But right now, yeah, I just don't have the money. And if you don't have the money, Facebook will ignore you like the hot girl/guy at school.

It can make you want to quit.

But one thing I've learned over the years is that just because no one is liking or commenting, DOESN'T MEAN NO ONE IS SEEING YOUR POSTS. Quite the opposite in fact.

Case study. I've got a little hype going for my new supernatural YA Thriller Agoura Hills. A couple of people in particular have been clamoring for it. So when one of them asked me publicly to get to work on the book, on a lark, I snipped the image and threw it up on my fan page.

I got one like--typical--but I was shocked to see that almost five hundred people saw the post. That's almost half of the people on the page. I'm tempted to boost it just to see what happens.

Just because no one is liking doesn't mean no one is seeing.

We live in an era of endless, soulless sequels, and an era where anyone with an internet connection can become a published author. I've learned that people are hungry for good stories, but also apprehensive. Will you finish what you begin? (Thank you, Yoda). Are you taking this seriously? Are you worth spending money on?

People are almost always paying attention to what you have to say--that's what your fan page is for--but you're going to have to earn your interactions just like the rest of us.

Don't give up.
Keep writing.
Keep posting.

Are you worth investing into?
Prove it.

Thanks for reading.

Avery K. Tingle is the author of scifi/romance the Anniversary. Titles are available on Nook and Kobo too. If you’re new to Kobo, you can get both stories for free!
Sign up for the Hidden Level newsletter and get weekly updates, writing advice, and a free short story.