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Write Answers

Write Answers

I try never to give people advice about writing. It seems presumptuous at best, but worse, it implies there is a right way to write.

There isn’t.

So my first piece of advice about writing is to ignore anyone who tells you there is a correct way to write (especially the hag at the front of your English classroom who thinks spelling, punctuation and diagramming sentences are more important than creativity and storytelling). But beyond that, I don’t believe that any two of my works got written the same way so I can’t imagine that trying to emulate someone else’s technique would be productive. I don’t believe any writer who says that any two books of theirs were written in exactly the same way. They might have been, but I can’t believe it unless all their books are just alike in which case I don’t want their advice.

I’m also leery of those people who make writing sound like this awful, painful, excruciating chore. They whinge on and on about how hard it is. How they throw out most of what they commit to the page. How nothing is good enough and how writing is the most arduous soul destroying career one could choose. My advice to them, offered freely, is “If you hate writing that much, you’re in the wrong business.” Either that, or they’ve taken someone else’s advice about the right way to write and are making themselves miserable by denying their own process and allowing that to change, evolve and grow with each page and word they write.

To be fair, I do always tell people who are considering writing or any artistic, creative or entertainment related profession the same thing. If you can do anything else and be happy, do anything else. I don’t think the work is hard, if you love it, but the business is brutal and crushing and offers far more rejection than it does success. That said, I know I could not be happy doing anything else, so here I am.

Then I suppose my next bit of advice is that if you must write then you must fall in love with writing. Whatever that means. If you are to do it, you must find a way to love the doing of it.

If you’re new at it, this is where talking to other writers might actually help. Their experience — their failures probably more than their successes — can be of some benefit. Letting other people make your mistakes can save you a great deal of time. For me the mistakes are much easier to see in someone else’s writing (cause I’m kind of a bitch.)

But it’s a love affair with writing that will make you a writer.

When I wrote my first novel, Say Uncle, I sat in a very uncomfortable Lucite folding chair at a glass table. I wrote in long hand, on yellow legal pads in black, Pilot Razor Point pen. I had three other jobs at the time, so I only had Saturday mornings to write. What I discovered that meant was that I had to spend Friday night getting EVERTHING done. The house had to be clean, the floors waxed, the car washed, the dry cleaning delivered or picked up, the sock drawer sorted, the canned goods alphabetized, EVERYTHING. I even needed to make plans for Saturday evening or at the very least Sunday brunch. Only in that way could I keep my butt in that chair on my precious Saturday morning and write.

It sounds just awful to me now, but that’s where I really fell in love with writing. I’d get up, put the coffee on, take a shower and sit down with a steaming mug, a clean ashtray and a carton of cigarettes. I’d take my first sip of dark, strong French roast, light the first Marlboro, upcap the pen and lean in to those yellow pages. And when I looked up, it would be night time. It was like the Witch and the Wardrobe. For all those Saturday hours, I was just gone. I came to understand the power of creation that holds writers in thrall. I spent those weekend mornings in a world of my own making.

And I was hooked.

I was already working as a writer, but the freedom of those Saturday mornings sticks with me. It’s the high I’m always chasing when I sit down to face a blank page.

I skipped typewriters. They were around but I couldn’t bear re-typing. I’ve since learned to compose on a computer. I quit smoking – yuck! – and gave up coffee – sniff, sniff. The internet has been invented which makes research an instantaneous and integral part of writing as opposed to the time burning field trips, interviews and hours at the library that used to be mandatory and which I still find a great deal of fun—probably because they’re now optional.

There have been periods when I did all my writing on a laptop in bed. A lot of The Prince’s Psalm was written on a chaise lounge that used to be in Anne Rice’s living room and is now in mine. I’m back at a desk these days, but we’ll see. I’ve got friends who write at coffee shops and public places but I’m just too social for all that temptation.

Insofar as learning how to write, I’ve only one piece of advice. Read. I learned to write by reading. And then I got better at writing by writing. I’ve never had a writing class. I’m bad enough at spelling and punctuation and the like to suspect that I have some undiagnosed learning disabilities that preclude my being able to learn those things or make heads or tails of numbers. But I have learned how to tell a story by reading other story tellers and I’ve gotten better at story telling by telling stories.

And that’s really all I’ve got.

If you want to read a long book about writing I suspect that you’re just avoiding work, but reading other people’s writing will only improve yours — even if it’s just to see what bad storytellers they are! Oh, but when their work inspires me there’s nothing that makes me want to write more.

So, if you want to write, then write. Fearlessly. Get it wrong. Learn from your mistakes. Do it again. Do better. But more than anything, if you want to write fall in love with writing.

The Prince Psalm and my other novels are available here in all formats and platforms: http://thedinnerpartyshow.com/albums/the-princes-psalm/

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The Voice Of An Angel

Angels edit 1

Over the years I’ve gotten the feeling that The Prince’s Psalm was a novel that was meant to be somehow. Along the road to publication, people told me the book was too old fashioned, too modern, too long and too short. There are more than a dozen drafts and scores of rewrites.

And every time I have thought to put the book aside, it has come up again, on its own.

There are plenty of books I want to write. Ideas that have been orbiting around up there, waiting on their chance, for years. I’ve written books that are moldering away on old, actually-floppy discs and some that are big-banded and stuffed into long forgotten stationery boxes.

I published Write Murder last fall, the first in a murder mystery series I’ve always wanted to write.

There is a folder in my files entitled “I Think Maybe” that has little scraps of paper on which I’ve jotted down ideas. Countless e-folders crowd the document files on my computer, each filled with little synopses, ideas and titles.

Many years ago, my father reached out to me and shared the first few verses from 1 Samuel 18:1-3 because he thought their depiction of the love between Jonathan and David demonstrated a Christian inclusion of my sexuality, a kind of meeting point between his long-held faith and my identity. In that moment, I became determined to write The Prince’s Psalm. But along the way, the universe seemed determined never to let me give up on the idea.

I attended a local play starring a long forgotten gay porn star and the verses my father had quoted to me were on the program even though it was not the subject of the play or referenced in it – I know, I was not the only person at the play, but still, random. There was an inspirational phone call with my dear friend novelist Anne Rice whose encouragement and determination singlehandedly caused me to write The Prince’s Psalm. And yet, we could not even get my agent interested in the book once it was written.

Shortly thereafter, I went to a friend’s comic book signing – my pal Gregg Hurwitz is not only a prolific author but he also writes the Batman graphic novels or comic books or whatever is polite to call them now but whatever you call it, it’s BATMAN!! Right?! Isn’t that cool? – and at lunch after, we commiserated about the business of writing, as authors do, and when I mentioned The Prince’s Psalm and how it was languishing in a drawer, ignored by my own publisher, for whom my most recent novel had been a bestseller, Gregg volunteered to read it. Shortly thereafter, he connected me with his literary lawyer, the excellent Marc Glick. Marc fell for The Prince’s Psalm and put me together with estimable historical author and interpreter of the Bard, Nicole Galland. Nicole worked with me to edit the unabridged version into the merely compendious work it has become.

Alas, once again the project flagged. But then, several years later, my best friend Christopher Rice ran into Elizabeth North (Publisher and Executive Director at DSP) at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Dallas. As they spoke of other matters, Christopher happened to mention The Prince’s Psalm in passing as their conversation turned to historical works. Elizabeth was polite enough to ask to see my novel. I sent it to her and she published it.

But the most unnerving cosmic nudge happened at the very well attended signing of another book. I was appearing at the West Hollywood Book Fair that is, alas, no more. The book I was promoting was a bestseller and the crowd was big, but the security was a little light. A man who’d apparently begun his recreational substance use a little early that day — and possibly a few hundred days before – broke through the rope line, charged the table, waved his finger in my face and demanded, “Don’t you remember me? I’m King David, have you forgotten?” And then he ran away before I could answer.

If I have learned anything from watching eleven seasons and counting of Supernatural it is not to expect my angels all to arrive in stained-glass-ready form. Some are little a little scruffier than others. Angels come into this world through the vessels that are open to them, so who knows? But whether or not that man was really an angel or just high and sleeping in the park, my answer is the same. The long answer is my novel The Prince’s Psalm. But my answer then and now is “No, David, I have never forgotten you.”

The Prince’s Psalm and all my books are available in all formats and platforms here: http://thedinnerpartyshow.com/albums/the-princes-psalm/

PrincesPsalm[The]_headerbanner

 

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PrincesPsalm[The]_headerbannerPublishing a new book is a great way to find out who your friends really are! And I don’t mean that snarky. A novel is a big ask of anyone, even a close friend. And a big fat, historical, biblical, gay romance, well that really gives your bestest, besties the chance to rise to the occasion. I apparently have a lot of really wonderful friends! So many people have taken time to help me promote my latest in a busy and indifferent marketplace. From astonishing posts to head spinning reviews to standing up for me against the online homophobes to showing up and getting a book signed or buying a copy and reading it, I feel very lucky so far. I can only hope that the enthusiasm of so many dear friends will translate into success for my dream project. Case in point: I have no idea what I have done to deserve it, but Sarah M. Cradit is not only the bestselling author of The House of Crimson and Clover series (available at her site http://www.sarahmcradit.com/house-of-crimson-clover/) but she took out the time to do a trilogy of posts about my new novel, The Prince’s Psalm on her excellent blog . . And Then There Was Sarah.

If you haven’t seen them, I’m including them here in a kind of digital boxed set. There is a guest post from me about my inspiration for writing The Prince’s Psalm. That’s followed by an interview with Sarah about the novel, being a writer and so much more. And there’s an exclusive excerpt from the novel.

Huge thanks to Sarah for her inestimable support and to all those who’ve helped support The Prince’s Psalm.

Sarah Cradit Post

https://sarahcradit.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/the-eric-shaw-quinn-series-part-1-of-3-a-guest-post-from-eric/

Sarah Cradit Post 2 The Interview

https://sarahcradit.wordpress.com/2016/07/12/the-eric-shaw-quinn-series-part-2-of-3-a-conversation-with-eric/

Sarah Cradit Post 3 The Excerpt

https://sarahcradit.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/the-eric-shaw-quinn-series-part-1-of-3-a-guest-post-from-eric/

Thanks Sarah and thanks to all who have taken time to read and support The Prince’s Psalm.

The Prince’s Psalm is available in all platforms and formats here:

http://thedinnerpartyshow.com/albums/the-princes-psalm/

And signed and personalized copies of The Prince’s Psalm and my other books are available by special appointment from The Ripped Bodice. Call them or order online and leave signing instructions in the comments section at: http://www.therippedbodicela.com/book/9781634768351

 

 

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With Host Sarah M CraditSarah Cradit Post 3 The Excerpt

https://sarahcradit.wordpress.com/2016/07/19/the-eric-shaw-quinn-series-part-3-of-3-an-exclusive-excerpt-from-the-princes-psalm/

The Prince’s Psalm blog tour brings you an exclusive never before seen excerpt from The Prince’s Psalm — unless of course you already bought a copy in which case thank you and please visit Sarah’s excellent blog and check out her bestselling series The House of Crimson and Clover at her official website http://www.sarahmcradit.com/.

The excerpt is from the first chapter of The Book of Eliab within the novel. It was originally written as the opening of The Prince’s Psalm and found it’s home at the beginning of the section named for David’s eldest bother Eliab which focuses on David’s family life. I chose it because I think it does a great job of setting the novel and introducing you to a number of the important players, particularly David, and the conflicts and themes that underlie his story. I hope it will whet your appetite for more of The Prince’s Psalm, available here in all formats and platforms:

http://thedinnerpartyshow.com/albums/the-princes-psalm/

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Sarah Cradit Post 2 The Interview

https://sarahcradit.wordpress.com/2016/07/12/the-eric-shaw-quinn-series-part-2-of-3-a-conversation-with-eric/

The Prince’s Psalm virtual book tour continues with another excellent post from bestselling author and estimable blogger, Sarah M. Cradit, author of the beloved House of Crimson & Clover Series. http://www.sarahmcradit.com/house-of-crimson-clover/the-house-of-crimson-clover-series/

Clearly an expert where series are concerned, Sarah continues her blog trilogy on The Prince’s Psalm with an in-depth interview with the author (aka me!).

Go behind the scenes of The Prince’s Psalm as Sarah and I explore my writing process, the controversy surrounding the novel and my personal journey. Of course, you can get your copy of The Prince’s Psalm available in all formats here: http://thedinnerpartyshow.com/albums/the-princes-psalm/ 

It is a book tour, after all!

Coming Next Tuesday:

An Exclusive Excerpt From The Prince’s Psalm

PrincesPsalm[The]_headerbanner

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@And Then There Was SarahSarah Cradit Post

https://sarahcradit.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/the-eric-shaw-quinn-series-part-1-of-3-a-guest-post-from-eric/

Thanks to accomplished author, colleague & Party Person, Sarah Cradit,PrincesPsalm[The]FS who made room on her excellent blog And Then There Was Sarah (SarahCradit.wordpress.com) for a fond memory of my father’s kindness that served as the inspiration for one of my most ambitious projects to date, my novel The Prince’s Psalm. This is the first of a three-part series Sarah is hosting on the next couple of Tuesdays so stay tuned for more! (Next Tuesday The Interview!)

To find out more about Sarah and her estimable work check out http://www.sarahmcradit.com/

And to find out more about what we’re talking about get your copy of The Prince’s Psalm available in print and all platforms here: http://thedinnerpartyshow.com/albums/the-princes-psalm/

 

 

 

 

 

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Or How I Finally Got Around to Writing The Prince’s PsalmA Phone Call From Anne Rice.JPG

There are a lot of benefits to being good friends with Anne Rice.

I got to read Prince Lestat and The Wolf Gift a year in advance of their respective publications. Chatter at the dinner table really is as remarkable as you might imagine, and much funnier than you’d expect. Even though she’s my best friend’s mom, I never feel like I’m intruding when Christopher Rice asks me over (I actually have my own room at her house!) But beyond Thanksgiving bragging rights and witty banter, my dear friend Anne is an accomplished and experienced writer. She’s someone with whom I can commiserate about what a tough and underappreciated job writing is and who will never say to me “Well, maybe it’s time to get a real job.” I also have the rare privilege of having a friend I can ask for advice who not only knows the answers but who has succeeded as few others have in this career we officially share… even if we don’t quite bat in the same league.

So a few years back, I sought out her advice when I was trying to convince my agent to accept a book I’d not only written at his request but re-written to his specifications. The book ultimately grew up to be Write Murder, the first in a series of murder mysteries loosely based on my own life and some rather disastrous career choices I’d made. Anne, being the generous friend that she is, spent a half hour or more counselling me on how to respond effectively to my stubborn agent. I liked the agent, but he was acting like an editor, only he wasn’t doing any other part of the editor-gig aside from rejecting what I’d written.

Anne and I settled on a plan of action and we were wrapping up the call. I had a meeting to get to, she had dinner plans. We’d see each other soon when I came out for a planned visit. We said the sorts of things friends say when they wrap up a phone call. I thanked her for her advice and recapped the plan we’d made for me. She wished me good luck and then she said, “So this is the book of your dreams?”

It was an afterthought. Anne always says write the book you want to read, so it was just the sort of things she’d ask. But her timing was strangely perfect.

“No,” I said without needing to pause to consider. “There’s this other book that I’ve always thought of writing when I find the time.”

And I told her about The Prince’s Psalm.

“Oh my god, that’s brilliant. That’s the book you must write,” she gushed.

And it was on. Despite the fact that both of us had somewhere else to be, she began helping me to plan my writing process for The Prince’s Psalm. I tried to explain that I felt like it was too big an undertaking for that moment in my career. I told her my agent had already rejected the idea in favor of the book he was not accepting. She was having none of it. She pointed out in the nicest way possible that I didn’t actually have anything particular to do at the moment, so time was not a problem. Then she started telling me how to go about doing it. Not how to tell the story or what to write, she was far more respectful than that. But she began to pour out to me her vast wealth of experience on planning, researching and building epic tales and worlds, breathing life into them and then teaching them to waltz and dance en pointe.

It was like having the Wright Brothers call to tell me how to fly.

She believed so passionately in the idea that she would not let me off the phone until I agreed to write The Prince’s Psalm.

“If you don’t write it, I will,” she said, playfully. She never would have, of course, but she wanted me to know how passionately she felt about the story, and so she did so in a way a fellow writer would truly understand. She waxed poetic about the book of Samuel, speaking and quoting from it as though she’d only just read it — something I had not even done at that point. Eventually, with my agreement that I would seriously consider embarking on what I knew would be a long and difficult journey, we both had to go.

I was late for my meeting, as I vaguely recall. When I got home there were three or four more voicemails waiting for me, full of ideas and encouragements from Anne.

She also opened her library to me. Coached me on the rigors of doing the kind of research I’d never done before, the type of research in which many, if not all, of her works are richly steeped. She gave me notes. Read and re-read drafts. She even tried to help me sell it. (For those of you out there who think that having Anne Rice in your court will sell your book, I’m here to tell you that even that is no guarantee!) We didn’t succeed. But that’s another story.

The point of this story is simply to say that The Prince’s Psalm is a novel for a lot of reasons, but it might have remained only a dream project that I never quite got around to writing if it hadn’t been for a phone call from my dear, darling friend, Anne Rice.

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