Friday, April 23, 2010

No Time to Read!

If you love books like me, you know that reading is fun. And as you have fun reading hundreds and hundreds of books, you'll one day come across a book that'll make you say:

"Wow, I wish I can write a book like this."


"This sucks. I can write better than this."

And on that day when you say those words, you take the first step. Reading books suddenly isn't enough for you. You'll start having ideas forming in your head, and this tiny urge to get up and start writing those ideas down. Congratulations! You've taken the first step to becoming a writer.

However, as someone who has started to seriously write his first novel, I've got to warn you. THERE IS NO TIME TO READ!

Writing takes a lot of time and effort. In fact, it takes so much time that reading books is barely an option anymore. If you're like me, just because you want to be a writer doesn't mean you want to stop reading books. I still love to read books, but now I don't have any time to read at all.

I've come to realize that it's a small, yet important sacrifice to make. If you're going to write a lot, you can't use your time to read anymore. There is no time to read. So focus your time and effort on finishing your novel.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hook in your Readers with the First Pages

I've just looked over the terrible first eight pages of my novel (but that's okay, because I'll just keep on writing forward, and go back to those pages when I start editing my novel).

So I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you what I've learned so far about writing the first few pages of my novel (and from what I've learned from reading other novels).The first pages of a novel are very important, especially for an unpublished, aspiring writer. These pages are the opening hook for your novel, the purpose of which is to immediately draw the reader into your story.

Now, how do you write a good opening hook for your story.......



I have absolutely no idea how to do this.

The only thing I do know is what I wouldn't like to read as the opening hook for a story. So, in my opinion, don't put these in your opening pages.

1) It can't be slow paced. The beginning can never be slow.

2) There shouldn't be long descriptions of something, like a mountain or the country, that are several paragraphs long.

3) It shouldn't start out as something happening to the main character, but it turned out to be just a dream

4) There shouldn't be a long narrative that contains a character's backstory.

5) Don't start with "Once upon a time...."

6) Don't talk about the weather.

7) And please, no cliches.

At the moment, these are all I can think of. Though there are probably more things out there that you should avoid when writing your first pages.


(*There are sometimes exceptions to the rule. A few great novels out there began with terrible first pages and was still a success. I can't think of any of those novels now, but I'm sure there are a few out there).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Blockade Billy

by Stephen King
This novella comes out on April 20, 2010. Go on and read it!

For more information about this novella, click here.

Stephen King is also the author of various other novels (too many to list all of them), like Carrie, Duma Key, and On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

Morpheus Road: The Light

by DJ Machale

This novel comes out on April 20, 2010. You've got to read it.

To find out more about the book and also read an excerpt of it, go here.

DJ Machale is also the author of the Pendragon series (which I highly recommend for fantasy/scifi readers). He also wrote other books... which I haven't read (sorry, DJ Machale). Also, he did a bunch of TV shows too, like Ghostwriter and Are you Afraid of the Dark? (which are great shows that I watched when I was younger).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Review: Knightley Academy

by Violet Haberdasher (her real name is Robyn Schneider)

Before I go into the review, I have two things to say:

1) The pen name Violet Haberdasher makes me think of a purple rabbit for some reason.
2) I don't understand why she needs a pen name. Her real name, Robyn Schneider, is a fantastic and unique name.

Knightley Academy by Violet Haberdasher is a fantastic novel. I would recommend it to anyone, especially those who love the premise of a young boy going to an amazing school and fighting enemies. Sorry if you're thinking of Harry Potter by JK Rowling, but this book has no magic. However, what it does have is chivalry, sword fighting, characters with strength, a touch of humor, mysteries with red herrings, and many more fantastic elements.

This novel is about a boy named Henry Grim who is a simple commoner with a brilliant mind. However, due to some circumstances, he was able to attend the famous Knightley Academy, which was a school only for noble born students. But because of Henry, that tradition is broken. Together with the help of his friends, Adam, Rohan, Frankie (she's a girl), and his tutor, Professor Stratford, he tries to survive school and stop a war at the same time.

If you love stories of chivalrous knights and tales of strong characters who stands up even when society tries to bring them down, this is the book for you.

Although, I still wish there was some sort of awesome, climatic battle at the end. Despite that, the novel did end in such a way that I wish there was a sequel in my hand now.

For more information about the novel, click on this.

Violet Haberdasher, if you're reading this, thanks for writing a fantastic novel.

Also, thanks to those who read my blog, and especially to those who're going to go read Knightley Academy because of my blog.

John Smith

PS: I discovered Violet Haberdasher from Kaleb Nation. They are both funny people who make great vlogs and write great novels.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

How to build a Platform for your Novel

For any of you who don't know, a novel platform is basically a group of people who want to read your novel.

So how do we find these people who want to read your novel? How do we build a platform to support your novel when it comes out?

First off, before you get started, you have to actually start writing a novel. Even if you manage to build a platform for your novel, it means nothing if you don't actually have a novel for the people to read. So write a novel while you're also building a platform (but you should devote most of your time to the novel).

Now that you're writing your novel, let's begin:

There are many ways to build a platform. However, one of the most common and easiest way is to blog it (which I'm doing). When you blog something, anyone in the world can read it. This allows you to get the word out on your novel so that a lot of people can know about it. Blogging is fast, it's free, and you can do it in the comfort of your own room.

The only problem with blogging is that you have to compete with a bunch of other blogs out there. However, you don't have to fight with those other blogs. Instead, you can combine forces and link with each other, which will get your readers to read their blog and also get their readers to read your blog. You can do this by guest posting on their blog and allowing them to guest post on your blog. So go out there and read other blogs and get to know those blog owners. Leave comments on their blogs and email the blog owners. Let them know that you're there and that you're interested in their blog, and that they also might be interested in yours.

Another way to build a platform is social networking. Get a twitter and/or facebook account (follow me), and tell the people on your account that you have a blog. Your friends, followers, and fans will then read your blog and support you. This will spread the word about your novel through the network and get more and more people in your platform.

Well, that is pretty much all I'm doing to build my platform. It's not much, but it's a start.

However, there are still more ways to help build your platform (which I might do sometime in the future).

You can (after you finish your novel) post the first few chapters of your novel for your readers to enjoy, so then they will want to read the rest of your novel.

You can go to school, and libraries, and etc... and talk about your novel (spread the word without the internet).

You can send ARC (advance reader copies) to some people (like famous authors) so they can read it and then review it (hopefully good reviews) and tell other people about it.

You can make book trailer videos about your novel and then youtube it.

In a nutshell, just do everything you can possibly think of to spread the word about your novel. That is how you build a platform.

PS: If you want help building your own platform, then email me so that you can guest post on my blog, or I can guest post on your blog. In other words, we'll link our blogs together, and our readers can read each other's blogs.

What is a Platform?

A platform is a group of people that want to read a certain book or go see a specific movie or listen to some music or etc....

Let's use a movie as an example. You've just finished making a movie, and you want a lot of people to go watch it. To get all these people to watch it, you have to market the movie. You do this by putting trailers of your movie on the internet and on TV. You can also invite some critics to watch your movie so that they can review it (hopefully good reviews). There are many ways to market your movie so that these people will want to watch it. These people, who all want to watch this specific movie, are your platform.

Because of the marketing you've done to build your platform, these people are all excited about going to watch the movie even before its released. They tell there friends, they twitter and facebook it, they make plans to go see it, etc... The movie has a platform of people that want to see it.

This can also apply to novels as well... if you know how to build a platform for your novel.

PS: If you want help building your own platform, then email me so that you can guest post on my blog, or I can guest post on your blog. In other words, we'll link our blogs together, and our readers can read each other's blogs.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Plan: Write My Novel

Okay, thanks to this blog, I'm able to put my thoughts down and plan out how I'm going to write my novel.

Here is my plan:

(*at this point, I've already outlined my ideas for a novel, so all I need to do now is plan out how to write it).

1) Write a rough draft. At this point, I should already know enough to try writing a novel of my own. I should just stop wasting time reading books and articles on how to improve my writing (let's face it, I was just reading those articles as an excuse for procrastinating). So, I'm going to write a novel straight through without stopping. I'm not going to do anything to edit it yet, or try to fix any mistakes I make. I'm just going to write, and write, and write... until I finish.

2) Building my platform. While I'm writing my novel, I'm going to blog as well. That's because posting on my blog, and doing various other things, can help build my platform. Building a platform takes time, and I've got to start now if I want to get a large enough platform of people to support me when I send out my novel to an agent and a publisher (which can increase my chances of getting published).

3) Research agents, writing tips, etc... Once I finish writing my novel, I'm going to hide it somewhere for a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks. This way, after those weeks are up, I can look at my novel again with fresh eyes (which will help me edit it better when I look at it again). Anyway, during those 6 to 8 weeks, I'm going to research writing tips/techniques that I can learn to improve my novel when I'm editing it. Also, I'm going to look for agents that fit my novel's genre and style, so I can submit it to the agent when I'm done.

4) Edit my novel. Once those 6 to 8 weeks are up, and I've done all my research, I'm going to look over my novel again. I'm going to use all I know and edit, edit, edit. I will fix every mistake, make sure the plot is consistent, and make the characters come to life. I'm also going to get rid of the adverbs. Everything is going to be done to improve my novel.

5) Sending it off... After editing my novel, I will send it off to the agent that I chose. I will submit my novel with a proper query letter and also mention that I already have a platform of people that already wants to read my novel. If the agent accepts my novel, I will work with my agent to further improve on my novel until it shines like a diamond. Once the novel is finished, my agent will send it off to various publishers and hope for the best.

So that is my plan to work on my novel. I'm hoping that this plan will only take a year to complete. And as I work on my plan, I will mention every step I take on my blog, so all of you can support me. Please wish me luck.

Thank you everyone who reads my blog!

PS: I'm going to try not to procrastinate.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The 2 Reasons why I started this blog... Part 2

Why did I start this blog?

Obviously from the title, there are two reasons. The second reason is Kaleb Nation.

Kaleb Nation, writer of the Bran Hambric series. He is also known as TwilightGuy and ShiverGuy. He is addicted to Twitter and he vlogs alot... I'm starting to wonder if he spends anytime writing his series at all.

Anyway, Kaleb has this amazing website:

On his website, he blogs... alot, whether it's about his novels, or his pet chinchilla, or his interviews with other writers, or going on Blogtv, or about Stephenie Meyer and her Twilight series, or etc.... Seriously, when does he ever write his own novels.

Kaleb Nation is the author of Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse and Bran Hambric: The Specter Key and also whatever comes next after that...

However, these books are not what got me reading about Kaleb Nation. Don't get me wrong, his books are great, but what really got me into following Kaleb's blog is that he sometimes talk about his journey as a writer. He often mentions that he had this idea in 2003, and then five years later in 2008, that idea became a novel that was accepted for publication with Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. Then in late 2009, the novel came out and I read it.

Reading about his journey as a writer appeals to me because Kaleb Nation is around my age, and he's publishing a novel, which gives me hope that I can publish a novel as well. So then someday, I'll be able to shout on my blog that my novel got accepted for publication. Someday I'll be able to sign a book deal, and tell people I'll be going on tour, and etc....

Not only that, but I realized that one of the reasons I read his first novel was because I've been following his blog and getting all excited when it finally came out. So maybe, if I start my own blog, I'll be able to connect with people who also loves to read books. In other words, I'm trying to build a platform.

Let's face it; today with facebook, and twitter, etc..., publishers have gotten lazy when it comes to marketing their client's books. Publishers want authors who already have a platform of people who want to read their novels. They have realized that with blogs and stuff on the internet, they can get their authors to help market themselves in a more efficient way that won't hurt their budget (remember: publishing companies are a business too).

That is why Kaleb Nation is one of the reasons I started this blog. I want to follow in his footsteps so that one day I'll be able to publish my first novel. So, please read my first novel when it comes out someday; I promise you won't be disappointed. Also, read the Bran Hambric series by Kaleb Nation. It is a really good fantasy series.

To find out more about the Bran Hambric series, go to this website:

The 2 Reasons why I started this blog... Part 1

Why did I start this blog?

Obviously from the title, there are two reasons. The first reason is Stephen King.

In 2000, Stephen King published an autobiography/writing guide, called On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. After reading this book, I've only got one thing to say about it.... If you ever decide to become a writer but know nothing about writing, then READ THIS BOOK!!! Out of all the self-help writing guides I've ever read, this was one of the most useful books of them all.

This book has three parts in it. The first part is just an autobiography of Stephen King's childhood and his early attempts at trying to get published (his first successful novel was Carrie, which is also a great novel and movie that I highly recommend). The third part of the book is also autobiographical, but this time it's about how Stephen King got injured in an automobile accident, and how he struggled through his injuries and tried to write again. Parts 1 and 3 of the book does not really give any practical writing advice. However, I find it to be very motivational for anyone who is lazy when it comes to writing (like me). When I look at the problems in my life, I realize that they are nothing compared to what Stephen King had to go through when he tried to write. Compared to him, I'm just a big blob of procrastination that can't turn off the TV and sit down and write. So, I'm going to face my small problems and also start writing seriously (hopefully, this blog will motivate me).

The second part of this book is a practical writing guide. This is VERY useful. It teaches you about the essentials of writing a novel; everything from developing your characters, coming up with plots, and fixing your grammer. Most of all, it tells you how to edit out the unnecessary details in your novel. In other words, get rid of those annoying adverbs. Seriously, kill the adverbs.

Writer: Die adverbs! Die! {stab}, {stab}, {delete}, {stab}

Adverbs: No! Stop killing me continuously!

But I bet that many of you are wondering why this writing guide is better than most of the others out there. Well, there are many reasons, but these three are the biggest of them all.

1) This writing guide was written by Stephen King, who is one of the best horror writers in history. He can be compared to other famous writers, like Poe and Lovecraft. So, after all the years of experience and success, Stephen King must know something about writing.

2) Along with his advice, Stephen King also included a rough draft and then an edited draft of his short story, 1408 (which also became a great horror movie). In other words, he doesn't just give us advice on how to write better, he also shows how he does it too.

3) This writing guide only gives us necessary and practical advice. Most other writing guides out there just fills up its page with unnecessary pieces of manure that is just a waste of time. They give out useless information that is not needed, and then give us exercises that most will probably ignore.

In conclusion, read On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King! It's a great book for the aspiring writer.

For more information about Stephen King, go to his website:

PS: If you haven't noticed it yet, at the top of my blog page, it says 'John Smith: On Writing'. I hope that this blog will record all I know about writing, and then one day, like twenty years after I publish my first novel, I will be able to write my own 'On Writing' autobiography/writing guide, which will hold all I know about writing.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

First Post

Welcome to my blog!

My first post! Hi, my name is John Smith (which is just a pen name, not my real name). If you're a fan of Doctor Who, just like me, you'll understand why I chose 'John Smith' as my pen name. Anyway, welcome to my blog! I hope that you guys will check out this site daily and spread the word about my blog to everyone you know. Follow me as I work towards publishing my first novel.

Thanks to all who love to read and other aspiring writers,

John Smith