Apple-Obsessed Author Fella

Out Now: Gentle Writing Advice (How To Be A Writer Without Destroying Yourself)

What you need to know first is, I wasn’t supposed to write this book.

I had an entirely different book on the docket: a direct sequel to Damn Fine Story which was about applying the principles of that book to a variety of genre stories while also examining genre and sub-genre and all that fiddly stuff.

But then, Writer’s Digest’s parent company went insolvent, then it got bought by PRH, then everything about that book was in limbo.

Oh, also? A global pandemic happened.

And so when WD came knocking and said, “Hey, you still wanna write that book?” — well, it turned out, I kinda didn’t. My heart really wasn’t into the idea anymore, and further, I certainly didn’t feel like I wanted to kick over any hornet nests on the subject of genre and make statements I was ultimately not smart or wise enough to support. But: I gave it a shot, just the same. Freelancer mindset and all that, I figured I’d rally and get it done.

As I was trying to write that book, a whole other book began to emerge, first as bits where I thought “well, maybe this can become a separate book somewhere down the line.” But eventually it leapt forth as a colonizing entity, swallowing the original book. At this point I had to say to myself, “I guess this is the book I’m writing right now, and hopefully the publisher is going to be okay with that.” (This is not advisable, by the way, but hey, the pandemic made us all pretty weird.) The whole other book that emerged was a book that attempts to tackle the rigors and tribulations of being a writer — both from an emotional creature trying to make a story happen and a writer who needs to sometimes pay his bills with those stories perspective. Because honestly, writing is hard. The act is hard, the business is harder, the pandemic made it even worse — it’s chaos, all the way down. Making a book is a strange experience and it only gets stranger once it gets tossed into the churning maw of the publishing industry, or out into the eyeballs of a waiting audience.

I wanted to write about that, it seems.

So, the book that emerged is all about… being a writer, and how hard it is sometimes, and how we deal with that difficulty. That’s it, at the end of the day. It’s a book about surviving, and then, thriving as a storyteller. It’s a book about writing advice as much as it is a book of writing advice. And with a lot of it, it ends up quite personal, too, because at the end of the day I can really only talk about me as a writer, and not that much about you. I’m a pretty privileged, pretty lucky writer, and at the end of the day I can only guess what’s going on with you and in your head — but I damn sure know what’s up with me. It also ends up a book of me in conversation with myself — the myself who was a freelancer once upon a time, the myself who started writing novels just over ten years ago, the myself who wrote writing advice then and now, too. That conversation is about exhuming and reexamining and challenging old ideas, too. It’s ultimately about being gentle on yourself through this mad maze of writing, storytelling, and publishing. Because the rest of the world won’t be gentle. Not ever, not really.

Some of this too comes out of my experiences writing Wayward — which were, in fact, discussed in the afterword of that book. There, I had to write this giant post-apocalyptic novel in the midst of living through an Actual Fucking Pandemic, and… I was coming up bone dry. It was like being in the dark in a cave with no echo. There was no there there. I had a book to write, but no book in my mind to write. It was eerily comforting in a way that was profoundly disturbing.

I had to find my way through that, and have had to find my way through many dark forests through the years, and I thought a book talking about that was maybe useful to someone. Not necessarily as a “whole picture” thing, where all aspects of my lived existence will be relevant — but the hope is, something in this book inspires a greater connection to yourself as a writer and an artist.

So, Gentle Writing Advice was born.

And as it turns out, the publisher was more than okay with it.

As such, it has since leapt its containment paddock and is now rampaging loose in the world. It contains footnotes. It has bad words. It tries not to take itself too seriously because I never, ever want you to take writing advice too seriously. It contains no answers — which, for some, I recognize is frustrating. I can’t give you the map. I can only show you the way I went. I can mark trails, but those trails might not even be there anymore. But maybe I can help give you the tools to blaze your own path through the shadows.

Hopefully you’ll check it out, and find something in it that sparks some part of yourself or your process. Maybe you’ll read it and take just a little better care of yourself as a writer-of-words. After all, it’s dark down there in the word mines. Take a lantern and a snack.

If you want signed, personalized copies: Doylestown Bookshop is your place. They will absolutely ship to you! Wherever you are! Except probably the moon.

You can also use or just go to your local store.

Certainly e-books are available where e-books are sold. Kobo, Kindle, Apple, and, well, all the other places.

And — audio! Right out of the gate. It’s erm, not me reading it? Which is a good thing because I’d totally screw it up, but Adam Verner nails it., Audible, plus other audio retailers here.

Finally, though I’ve no events specifically around this book, next week I’ll be at Doylestown Bookshop with Clay McLeod Chapman (6/14, 6pm) to talk about the paperback release of the most excellent Ghost Eaters.

Also if you don’t care about any of this fancy-pantsy writing crap — well, BLACK RIVER ORCHARD is out 9/26, and you can preorder that now.