All posts by R. B. Wood

What the Hell Happened?

Hi Everyone!


Site looks a bit strange, doesn’t it?

Well–my Joomla site got hacked pretty bad…so I’ve brought this up temporarily to accommodate the latest Word Count Podcast.  Bit of a disaster at the moment but I was thinking of getting rid of Joomla all together…just not as quickly as I wanted.  You know me….I prefer to plan!

Next post will be the show then we’ll go from there.  Thanks for your patience!



The Conventional Writer

There are different types of conventions a writer can go to, but no matter where you are in your career, you should be attending conventions (cons) when you can.

Not for the parties, nor for the large quantities of top shelf booze although both are kick-ass.

StormtrooperPictured: Kick-ass booze and party result

You should attend cons because you’ll be surrounded by experts in the field who’ve done what you’re dreaming about. 

Namely writing.

For aspiring authors, there are conventions, typically run by a writer’s association of some sort, that are designed to help writers learn to write a book that will sell, sell a book they have written, and let them rub elbows with, and even pitch their projects to agents. This is great for writers that are trying to break into the industry. If that’s you, find a good one near you and go there. It’s a great learning opportunity and a chance to network and meet the people who will be your support system and a leg up in pursuing your writing career. Established authors can benefit from these cons too, and are often found on panels that help the audience learn the things they need to know.

When you’re an established author, there are still cons for you. There’s a huge variety, whether it’s a genre-specific writer’s con, from RWA (Romance Writers of America,) to World Fantasy, or industry focused cons like Book Expo America, there’s a con that puts you in the thick of writers and readers in your specific genre or the industry as a whole. These are incredible networking opportunities, and no matter where you are in your career, you’ll learn something too. Plus, they’re fun.

There are also genre cons that have great resources for writers, but have a much broader attendance base. These are cons for the fans as well as the writers and producers that bring the entertainment to them. Dragon con is one of the biggest in the scifi/fantasy genre, Comic Con as well. (Can you tell I’m a scifi/fantasy author?)


Pictured: Entertainment

The drawback of cons is the cost, which can be a huge issue for the aspiring or even newer midlist author. So start small. Writer-specific cons are usually less expensive and there will be one near you. (Relatively, for some of us.) The bigger cons and the fan cons are once a year events, they’re not cheap, and for most of us will involve the cost of travel as well as registration, meals, etc. Some of them, like WorldCon, are in a different place every year and, as the name implies, may be held anywhere in the world. You may not make it to these without some serious saving or until you’re already published and have some royalties coming in.

The important thing to remember is that these cons are an investment in your writing career. Don’t let the costs scare you off. If there’s any chance you can make one, then pick one in your price range that’s most appropriate for you. Read up on them online and ask other writers on Twitter or the like about cons you might be interested in. Some are family-friendly and can be fun for the non-writers as well. Some are writer-specific and bringing alone the spouse and kids will be a waste of money.

Personally, I’m writing this in the airport as I wait for a flight to take me to ReaderCON, a con for the scifi & fantasy genres. Not only is it fun and informative, I’ll have a chance to strengthen relationships I made at last year’s ReaderCON, and Ad Astra con I attended earlier this year in Toronto.

Can you become an author without attending cons? Sure. Can you maintain a career as an author without attending cons? Of course. But cons are a great way to make sure you’re making the connections and capitalizing on the opportunity to do better, to be more. And, for those who aren’t as far along as you, they’re a great opportunity to give back, and that’s one of the best parts of being a writer.

And the drinks are to die for.





Leah Petersen lives in North Carolina. She does the day-job, wife, and mother thing, much like everyone else.  

She prides herself on being able to hold a book with her feet so she can knit while reading. She’s still working on knitting while writing.

Her first novel, Fighting Gravity, is available now from Dragon Moon Press.

Indie Top Ten List

top10‘Top Ten’ of the things an Indie writer needs to be doing today

So, you wrote a book. Now what?

  1. Target Market. Really, know who your target reader is. **Hint** it is not “Everyone”.
  2. Website. You must have one. If you do not, stop and get one now. It is that important. Everything below, points back to it!
  3. Blog. Was that an eye roll? Will you get thousands of book sales by building up the most successful blog ever? No. Not the goal, either. If you don’t blog, how will I know if I like your writing?
  4. Tweet. Another eye roll? If you haven’t tried it, stop judging. If you have, and think “it isn’t working” – I ask, are you blasting out links to your book every five minutes? Yes? Absolutely wrong.
  5. Guest blog. Reach new people – share the love in the blog-o-sphere. IF they are in your target market.
  6. Facebook. Your goal is simple, get on there, and talk to people. Friends, family, fans (you DO have an author page, don’t you?)
  7. Pin. On Pinterest yet? Fastest growing social media out there. Back to #1, what do your readers care about?
  8. Post Comments. Write a relevant comment, people will read it. Note that word “relevant”. Do not spam.
  9. Don’t Advertise. How often do you click on an ad? Save your hard earned cash for something that will impact sales, like hiring an awesome cover designer.
  10. Stop Marketing. Do not think of any of this as “MARKETING”. Networking, research, conversation, connecting. If you think of it as marketing, it will come across. People have an inherent distrust of being “marketed to”.





Twitter: @ksearsbooks

Katherine Sears is the Chief Marketing Officer and co-founder of Booktrope Publishing. Prior to Booktrope, her background was primarily in technology and online marketing in both Seattle and California, working at companies such as NetApp, ADIC and Siemens. Her life-long love of books, and a desire to bring a new type of focus to marketing them, had her join forces with some other bookish folks to create Booktrope. She is the co-author of How to Market a Book and has served on the University of Washington’s Digital Publishing Certificate Program advisory board. She has also worked as an actress, and a corporate trainer. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theater from the University of Southern California. Katherine currently lives in Fall City, WA with her canine and human family members.

The Traveling Writer

photoI believe I’m living, breathing proof that writing doesn’t have to be done at a desk. Or in a den. Or even in an enclosed room at all. I’m fortunate in that my job allows me to travel.

Actually my job requires me to travel. Okay, okay…my job IS travel. And while the jet-setting lifestyle, the white sand beaches, the crystal clear pools, the gourmet food, and the cold drinks are nice, they sometimes get in the way of my real love, writing. 


Wait. Strike that. Those things ROCK. 

Truth be told, anything that gets in the way of writing is just an excuse. Writing can be done anywhere, anytime, any way a writer can. And in today’s 21st century, tech-filled world, that’s never been more true.

I’ve written some of my best work on an iPhone in a hotel lobby, and some of my worst work on my laptop in a dead-silent dining room. I’ve written some of my best work in Evernote on an iPad, and some of my worst in Scrivener on a Mac. The place and tools don’t matter. But I admit, the location does tend to stir my creative juices a bit.

A few weeks ago, I was on a cruise ship sailing out of the port of Taormina, Sicily, headed for Greece, and while my wife was getting ready for dinner, I sat on the upper deck with a bottle of Peroni, my laptop, and sunglasses. Three hours later, after Sicily had faded into the background and the open Med stared back at me, I had two complete chapters written. 

Yeah, maybe I won’t quit the day job anytime soon…it’s actually helping my writing endeavors…


Steve Umstead has been the owner of a Caribbean & Mexico travel company for the past ten years, but never forgot his lifelong dream of becoming an author. After a successful stab at National Novel Writing Month, he decided to pursue his dream more vigorously…but hasn’t given up the traveling.

Steve lives in scenic (tongue-in-cheek) New Jersey with his wife, two kids, and several bookshelves full of other authors’ science fiction novels. More information is at, and you can always find him on Twitter (@SteveUmstead).

Hello internet. It’s me!

announce-bullhorn“Hello internet.  It’s me!”

Now imagine me shouting that in Grand Central Station at rush hour one week before Christmas. Now imagine that every other person around me is also shouting hello. Some of them have bullhorns, some have flashing lights, many of them have their friends pointing to them and drawing attention to them.

That’s what social media feels like to me, a shouting cacophony.

I was one of those kids who liked to be the big fish in a little pond, purposefully never straying out of my comfort zone and keeping to things I was really good at, like writing, art and music. Then the internet exploded and I found out that the little pond was in fact an ocean the size of a planet and there are not only bigger fish. There are sharks.

It’s a little daunting, and it’s impossible to even attempt a website or a blog or a social media engine without a bit of ego on your side. After all, I wouldn’t be doing it, unless some part of me said, “Out of the millions of websites on the internet, you should look at mine. I’m worth reading.”

And this goes against everything about humility and fair play that I was ever taught as a kid. That little kid, who preferred to have everyone tell her. “Oooh! You’re so clever! I could never do that!”

It’s time to grow up, little kid and brace yourself. There’s a lot of sharks out there… sharks with megaphones.

Did I ever mention that metaphors aren’t my strong point?




Monica Marier is a caffeinated writer, artist, mother and eccentric. On weekdays, she’s busy working on her books, recording audio files, and composing short stories for her blog. On weekends she’s a co-founder of Tangent Artists.



Follow her on Twitter! @lil_monmon

Books: Available through Hunt Press

Our World out of Context

IMAGINATIONIt’s a commonality to assume that fantasy and science fiction writers write in the genre they do because they wish to escape the current state of the world. As an avid fantasy and science fiction reader, I can attest to that notion. They are genres that take readers to far places to explore odd creatures, new cultures, and fresh ideas. Yet, because I am also a fantasy writer, I realize that many of the themes in fantasy and science fiction have a hidden context to the real world, be it religion, politics, historical commonalities, etc. This happens in my novels whether I intend it or not. Of course, the worlds I create must have some coherence to the real world in order to maintain their believability to readers, but looking back on my past novels, I also see that burried within my worlds is a reflection of current events and personal questions.

The truth of the matter is, although I write to escape into a different land with different people, I can’t help but address the here and now. Writing and reading is an outlet for me (as I’m sure for many others) to process events and reflect on personal issues and questions in a safe and somewhat removed way. Oftentimes, these musings are not evident to me while I’m writing—the realization comes later.

Essentially what I find many fantasy and science fiction writers doing is not pulling readers into newly formed and unfamiliar places, but showing readers our own world (or aspects of our own world), taken out of context. Current events, social and historical contexts, politics, and religion are inescapable. The beauty of fantasy and science fiction is their ability as genres to show us our current world through a skewed perspective. And what better way to reflect on our own reality than to take it out of context?





Nicole Persun is a 17 year old student who signed her first book contract at 16. Her novel, A Kingdom’s Possession, was recently named a finalist for the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award at the American Library Association conference. In addition to writing, she loves to garden, cook, listen to music on high volume, practice photography, and spend time with her horse Goldie. Read more at and

Finding Time to Write

Writing123If you are a high school student and reading this right now, you are on summer vacation. So what to do with the oodles of time in your day? Well write, of course!
But I know it’s not quite that easy. There are summer camps, family vacations, and friends to hang out with. However, you do have some small gaps between these, and these gaps can be when your best ideas come to you. Jot ideas down in your phone or carry around a pen and paper.
Now we’ve got an idea for a story. Next comes the hard part – expanding upon it. An idea can sound great, but without a full plot, it won’t go anywhere. You need to think of secondary characters, backstory, and the range of emotions you want your readers to feel. Most of all, make this a book you would want to read. If you would read it, then others would want to read it.
So now you have a full plot arc. Now it’s time to write! Sit down at your computer and find some music fitting the mood of the scene you’re writing. When you have your music, let the words flow out of you.
The most important part of the writing process is not to let your outline rule you. If you want to end a chapter differently, then do it. Just don’t make any huge changes without first consulting your outline to make sure it fits. It is absolutely key to not lose sight of where your story is going.
Oh, did I mention have fun? Well have fun! You’re writing a story, and this is your story. Have a good time with it!
Zack Umstead is an honors high school student entering a busy sophomore year, but has still somehow found time to write and publish two stories. Shifter, the first in a young adult scifi novelette series, was published in June of 2011, and Entanglement, a quantum physics young adult novella, in April 2012. What little free time he has left, he’s spent earning his senior black belt in Kenpo Karate. Work is currently underway for the next in the Shifter series.

Writing Today

gun-mirrorToday’s world demands a writer not only write, but also market their work on websites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, interviews, book signings and other marketing opportunities…and also meet the responsibilities of life. One can lose sight of the key to success as a writer, which is to…write! A successful writer simply must write every day. There is no alternative to this rule. You can’t let the lack of time, rejections, harsh criticism and the evil writer’s block deter you from writing.

Writing is a job. Schedule your writing time and let those who love you know what that time is. Be firm on your schedule and don’t let it be altered unless absolutely necessary. This is sometimes hard to do, but essential.

Rejection and criticism are a part of being a writer. Not everyone is going to like your work. Instead of getting angry or emotionally upset about criticism, learn from it. If you see a common thread in the rejections or criticism, you have a problem and you need to fix it.

There is a way around writer’s block. Instead of giving up and walking away from the computer, start working on another story. We all have other stories milling around in our demented minds. While you’re working on the other story, your subconscious mind will be sorting out the writer’s block. This is a scientific fact.

When I believe the whole world is conspiring to prevent me from writing, I look in the mirror. The culprit is usually there.





Mike McNeff is a cop who writes about cops. During his 40 years in law enforcement Mike has worked patrol, criminal intelligence, narcotics, and he has been a SWAT team leader and commander as well as a hostage negotiator. He is also an experienced trial attorney in both criminal and civil cases. Writing is Mike’s third career and GOTU – A Robin Marlette Novel is his first published book. Find Mike’s writing here: // , Twitter: @Mike_Mcneff, and Facebook:

I am a Writer!

Typed_WriterI am a writer!

This might seem self-evident to anyone who’s read my bio, but I make this point for a reason – when do you start calling yourself “a writer”, as opposed to someone who dabbles in words around a day job?

I took the plunge when my first book was published in October 2011 – it seemed silly to call myself a dabbler in words when I was a published author. It still makes me smile every time I say it.

The main response I get? You must be rolling in it!” or “How big are your royalty cheques?”

I don’t imagine many nurses or teachers getting asked those questions. There seems to be something about authors that people think we’re as financially secure as Stephen King or Neil Gaiman.

I wish.

When I explain that, even now, I hold down another job in addition to the writing, as my first love doesn’t pay enough to live on. Having had the good fortune to make friends with a number of indie authors from across the globe, I know this is a common trait – but non-writers I tell this to look at me askance, as if I had grown a second head.

I can understand that that kind of attitude can put people off saying those magic words, but it shouldn’t – be proud of the fact that you are creative enough to put pen to paper, or finger to laptop.

Come on, now, say it with me; “I am a writer!”


MMUNSONMatthew Munson is an Englishman; born in a small seaside town, he finally moved away when he was 24 … to another seaside town, four miles away, and is still there now.

He wrote his first book at the age of 9, about a space-cowboy who was fleeing from the dinosaurs, and often worried if he had peaked too soon – until his first book was published in 2011.

Fall From Grace is his debut novel, published by a British publishing company called Inspired Quill, and he’s currently working on a sequel – albeit interspersed with the odd short story, column and blog.

Matthew is a proponent of autism studies and Deaf Awareness, which he writes about over at his blog ( and occasionally, if he is feeling particularly daring, makes the odd vlog here and there. He finds writing a solitary exercise sometimes, so go and say hi at his Facebook page –

Writing in the 21st Century

confused1There are volumes to be written on the difference between reading ebooks and paperbacks. Fortunately, the eventual form the book will take doesn’t yet affect the actual writing of it but it no doubt soon will. The writing is still that magical process of getting sucked into your imaginings and spending time outside the everyday world. But once you release the finished article, other processes take over – often as incomprehensible as the creative phase.

For instance, the whole world of selling and publishing baffles me. A book of mine won an award and you can buy it for $10.99 on Amazon USA. Surprisingly, you can also buy 12 new copies of the same book for from $9.15 to $39.17 on the same site. I’ve no idea what ‘added value’ (to use that grotesque marketing-speak term), you get for the extra money, but it must be significant.

Even more so for another of my books which will set you back £8.88 for a new copy on Amazon UK but £39.92 for a used copy. And, best of all, there’s another award winner of mine (forgive the immodesty) whose present cover price for a new paperback is $12.99 but, again on the same site, used copies are available at prices ranging from $98.53 (yes, almost the magic $100) to (and I swear this is true because I checked it again and again) $250.80.

The world of books is absurd and obviously far too complicated to be understood by mere writers.




Before taking early retirement to become a full-time writer, Bill Kirton was a lecturer in French at the University of Aberdeen. He’s written stage and radio plays, short stories, novels, skits and songs for revues, and five non-fiction books aimed at helping students with their writing and study skills. His five modern crime novels, Material Evidence, Rough Justice, The Darkness, Shadow Selves and Unsafe Acts are set in north east Scotland and his historical crime/romance novel, The Figurehead, is set in Aberdeen in 1840. The Darkness won the silver award in the mystery category of the 2011 Forward National Literature Awards and his spoof mystery, The Sparrow Conundrum, was the winner in the humor category.

He’s had radio plays broadcast by the BBC and the Australian BC. His short stories have appeared in many anthologies, including three of the CWA’s annual collections, and one was chosen by Maxim Jakubowski for his 2010 anthology of Best British Crime Stories.

Writing as Jack Rosse, he’s published a novel for children called The Loch Ewe Mystery and, with another Jack alias, Jack Lefebre, he’s written a satire based on experiences in Second Life™ called Alternative Dimension.

He’s been a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at universities in Aberdeen, Dundee and St Andrews.