This month: a man wakes up naked in an NYC park, the future of cybercrime, and a traveling cat

Books & Buzz Magazine, October 2022, Volume 5 Issue 1Happy October, readers!

I’m excited to feature Mark Leslie this month, an award-winning horror and speculative fiction author who’s also played integral roles in the publishing industry for decades. Ever since childhood, Mark’s active imagination has led him from the most intriguing “what ifs” to the darkest possibilities. “I would tell myself serialized stories that would last weeks and weeks,” he recounts in our interview. “Sometime in my childhood I discovered the magic of putting my stories down on paper. That way, when I moved on, those stories remained.” Find out how Mark’s imagination has led him to a prolific writing career, what he wrote about in the “gigantic epic” he penned at age fourteen, and how a trip to New York City inspired his latest series.

To start with, a bit of news: the 365-Day Indie Author Challenge, a guided, year-long “zero to published novel” program, is kicking off its fifth session, and there’s still time to hop on the writing train with us.

For now, settle in, because you’re going to love these superb articles:

This is the Letter From the Editor in the latest issue of Books & Buzz Magazine. Not a subscriber? Start getting all of our great articles by subscribing for free!

First, Philip Fracassi, award-winning author and screenwriter, sees his writer friends posting about their success every day and wonders if this causes some writers to overestimate everyone else’s level of success and underestimate their own. “I’d like you to remember that many writers, myself included, tend to only post when Good Stuff happens,” he writes, “leaving the Bad Stuff for some of our ‘offline’ circles to hear about.” No matter how you feel about what you’ve achieved as a writer, you’ll be inspired by this motivating piece, which ends with a quick pep talk reassuring us that all of our hard work will pay off.

Then, Carrie Carter tells us the story behind the story: how Asti, a petite, opinionated cat, became such an enormous part of her life and ended up with a starring role in her debut novel. “Her cat personality never failed to amuse me,” Carrie writes, “and I found myself so enthralled with her that it made me want to write about her fictional journey.” In this entertaining article, you’ll get to know this tiny kitty with an outsized personality, hear about Carrie and Asti’s pre-writing ritual, and learn why she ultimately had to force herself to write two sentences a day to finish her novel.

Finally, authors Charles Breakfield and Roxanne Burkey are full-time technologists who write about emerging technologies and the growing threat of cybercrime. “As storytellers, we focus on real technology as today’s cyber threats in our novels to alert folks that bad actors are ready to attack them from the dark net,” they write. Check out the four predictions they make about how our world will adapt to accommodate these technologies.

Kick back in your most comfortable reading spot, let the aroma of your favorite pumpkin spice beverage carry you into our world of literary adventure, and enjoy this month’s issue of Books & Buzz Magazine.

Happy reading,

Timothy Pike
Editor-in-chief, Books & Buzz MagazineSubscribe now for free!


3 reasons you should TAKE YOUR TIME writing a novel

Learn more about TimWhen it comes to writing a novel, different authors write at different paces. Sometimes wildly different.

Michael Crichton, for example, took 20 years to write his novel Sphere.

Meanwhile, other writers are setting land-speed records in NaNoWriMo, clocking in at just one month.

But there’s a happy medium, and it’s one year.

This is just what the 365-Day Indie Author Challenge is all about, and here are the reasons I argue it’s better to take your time when writing a novel (especially if it’s your first):

1. It’ll just be better. I suppose you could write your first draft in a month-long frenzy, but it’s risky. What you end up with could be difficult to work with, as many writers have found out. By putting more time into fleshing out your ideas, learning why story structure is so important, and taking care with the words you put on the page, you’ll have a more solid foundation to build on.

2. You’ll come up with more ideas. By spending more time with your story and your characters, new ideas will come to you. Perhaps as you’re writing, one of your characters will take you on a side adventure that you’ll decide should feature in the main plot. Your story just got better!

3. You’ll get to know your characters. As you write a novel, you’ll probably find, like many other authors have, that your characters take on a life of their own and become real to you. Sometimes they’ll even speak to you! Let them lead the way at times and see where they take you.

These are the discoveries that await you when you put time into your novel. In the 365-Day Indie Author Challenge, we spend the first 30 days just writing our first chapters, and the first six months creating our first drafts.

Come learn with us, and get ready to become a published author this year!

Your chance to have a published novel … for the holidays!

Learn more about TimIf you’d like to have a published novel, ready for people to order by holiday season 2023, get started writing now!

And the best way to get started? The 365-Day Indie Author Challenge, starting October 1st.

This will be the last start date of the Challenge for this year, so don’t put this off!

You’ll love the writing group dynamic, the discussions in our writer forum, daily lessons and tips, and the feeling of getting closer to a published book every single day.

Not to mention holding your published book in your hand by this time next year!

This is a free Challenge, so now you have every reason in the world to push yourself, connect with a friendly group of writers, and spend the next 365 days writing a brilliant novel.

We’ll get it published on Amazon and ready to sell for Holiday Season 2023. You can sign up here and we’ll get started on October 1st!

Novelists: How to write a first chapter that rocks!

Learn more about TimWriters, are you interested in attending a webinar?

I’m putting together a FREE, live webinar:

How To Write A First Chapter That Rocks

I’ll be moderating a panel of experts who will teach you everything you need to know about writing the perfect first chapter!

You’ll learn all sorts of tips and tricks, including:

-How to turn your vague ideas into a workable premise for a whole novel
-How to make your opening sentence and paragraph as intriguing as possible
-When you should first introduce your main character
-Why you might (or might not) want to end on a cliffhanger
-Beginner mistakes you should avoid because they can turn readers off

Sign up for details here

I would like to conduct this free webinar before the start of the next 365-Day Indie Author Challenge (starts on October 1st) so you can come into the Challenge even more prepared to tackle your first chapter during the first 30 days.

This free webinar will take place live within the next couple of weeks, but a recording will be saved in case you can’t make it to the live session.

We just need 25 interested writers! If we can get 25 interested writers, we’ll get the green light for the webinar!

Sign up for our newsletter and I’ll send out details about when and how to sign up for the free webinar (or how to access it after the fact).

Share this & let’s reach more writers!

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To your writing success,
Timothy Pike (Tim) | About me

Questions about writing a novel

Learn more about TimWhen it comes to writing a novel, I want to know …

What do you want to know?

You’ve probably wondered about what it takes to write a good novel. There are plenty of ins and outs of writing and publishing a quality book, and it can feel overwhelming at first.

That’s why I want to get your most pressing questions, no pun intended!

Here are some things you might be wondering about …

  • The first steps
  • How to write a catchy opening
  • Character development
  • Dialogue
  • Pacing
  • Self-publishing
  • Book promotion

And really, the list could go on and on.

But what’s at the top of your mind? Let me know in the comments below (or send your question to me via e-mail).

And of course, you’ll want answers … sign up for our brand-new newsletter, The Informed Indie Author Newsletter, and I’ll be answering as many questions as I can on a weekly basis.

I want you to be successful in your novel-writing efforts!

What happens when writing dreams become reality?

Books & Buzz Magazine, September 2022, Volume 4 Issue 12Of the 1,100 or so hardy souls who inhabit Denman Island—a chilly slice of maritime paradise resting just off the coast of Vancouver, British Columbia—fiction author JP McLean, otherwise known as Jo-Anne, figures among the most prominent.

It was a frigid winter day on the island when Jo-Anne fired up her laptop and began writing her very first novel. “I recall sitting in our living room with the wind howling outside and the rain hitting our windows horizontally,” she tells me. “It was cold and dark, and I didn’t know how I was going to get through an entire winter cooped up in the house.” In my interview with her, Jo-Anne talks about how she ended up living on this small island, her simple goal every time she sits down to write, and how she based her debut novel on a recurring dream about being able to fly.

Speaking of chilly weather, fall is a great time to write a novel, isn’t it? That’s why I’m offering two autumn start dates for the 365-Day Indie Author Challenge, our free, year-long writing program. It’s your chance to end the year with a published book, and we’re starting soon!

This is the Letter From the Editor in the latest issue of Books & Buzz Magazine. Not a subscriber? Start getting all of our great articles by subscribing for free!

If you’re more into reading than writing, you’ll love ChapterBuzz, where you can keep up on the works-in-progress that these groups of authors share with us over the next 365 days.

And now, here’s what awaits you in this month’s issue:

We start with bestselling author David D. Schein, who wants to save you time and frustration by revealing how he is able to coordinate the large amount of effort—and teams of people—it takes to write his non-fiction books. “I have multiple writing projects in process at any one time,” he says. “It would take years that I do not have to produce each article and book, so I work with researchers for most writing projects.” David lays out his system in detail, with tips for tax write-offs, “work for hire” agreements, and fact checking.

Next, Nicole Fanning, author of the Heart of the Inferno series, admits that she, like many other writers, has experienced impostor syndrome, the feeling of trying to be something you’re not. “It’s the inexplicable urge to rewrite everything you’ve already written because it suddenly doesn’t feel good enough,” Nicole explains. After exploring possible reasons we might find ourselves afflicted, Nicole concludes her article with a number of simple ways to overcome impostor syndrome, which she calls the “uninvited house guest.”

Finally, Cari Lynn Webb, USA Today–bestselling author, understands that despite our best intentions, life can get hectic and totally derail our writing plans. “The one thing I do know is those deadlines come no matter what else is happening,” she writes. “Until the chaos calms, I’ve landed on three sanity savers that also keep me writing.” Cari shares these with us, and also quips about what she does when all else fails.

With the kids back in school, take advantage of the peace and quiet. Find a cozy nook, pour a glass of your favorite beverage, and enjoy this month’s issue of Books & Buzz Magazine.

Happy reading,

Timothy Pike
Editor-in-chief, Books & Buzz MagazineSubscribe now for free!

Starts tomorrow! The 365-Day Indie Author Challenge

Learn more about TimCalling all writers!

If you’ve been wanting step-by-step guidance on writing a novel—and are brave enough to give yourself a deadline of one year from now—this new writing challenge is the way to do it.

In just 365 days, our small group of writers (and you?) will write their novels and become published authors.

The 365-Day Indie Author Challenge starts with Chapter 1, and takes you all the way through self-publishing your book to start your new life as an independent author—along with plenty of tips on how to get the word out about your novel.

This challenge starts tomorrow, so join us!

Aspiring novelists, laptops ready, take their seats in class

A group of students ready to get to work. (cottonbro)

TUESDAY, AUGUST 30 — Just ahead of the Thursday start of a year-long novel-writing program, aspiring novelists are settling into a virtual writing space to get busy accomplishing what for many has been the dream of a lifetime.

These writers are participating in the 365-Day Indie Author Challenge, and with the goal of publishing a book by year’s end, “challenge” is a fitting word.

“This is the fourth time we’ve run this challenge, and I’m thrilled to welcome our new group of writers,” said Timothy Pike, creator of the program. “It’s been a wonderful experience so far, and it’s always so exciting to see what our writers will create.”

Many are first-time novelists who will be learning as they go, but others are veteran authors who bring a wealth of knowledge and experience—and a willingness to help their fellow writers.

Seeing their literary creations in book form and ready for readers to buy has been a top priority for these writers, even if it’s a goal that has at times seemed out of reach. All the same, the opportunity to buckle down and achieve something so monumental is alluring. “I just signed up. So excited,” one participant said.

The Challenge starts Thursday, September 1, and registration is currently open.

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Motivated to write a novel this year? 3 reasons to join this FREE challenge

Learn more about TimIt’s something you’ve been wanting to do for quite a while: write a novel that readers can’t put down!

Well, starting on September 1st, we’re going for it.

Here are 3 reasons you should join us for the 365-Day Indie Author Challenge:

1. It’s a learning experience. Don’t just guess at how to write a novel! Daily lessons from experts teach you exactly what you need to know to write a story that readers will love. Let’s take the time to do it right, step by step.

2. Fan Club. Publishing a beautiful book involves book cover design, copy editing, and page layout services—but your Fan Club can help you earn credits to cover these costs. When you join the Challenge, you’ll earn credits every month as your Fan Club grows. I’m excited to see your published novel standing proudly on the shelf!

3. Just in time for holiday sales. You’ll learn all the tricks bestselling authors use to get the word out about their published books. By this time next year, when book lovers everywhere are starting to think about what to give for the holidays, your book will be an easy choice.

As a bonus, here’s a 4th reason: it’s FREE!

This week, we’re getting to know each other in our private writer forum. All that’s missing is you—join us!

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To write a novel, follow your guide

Hikers nearing the summit of a mountain

To write a novel, follow your guide. (Photo credit: Quang Nguyen Vinh)

Personal achievement comes in many forms.

Some people aspire to scale mountains, while others strive to climb the career ladder.

But for you, it’s always been writing a novel—and it’s one of the biggest achievements you can pursue.

Now’s your chance! In less than a week, I will be leading an expedition to the summit of the novel-writing mountain.

Get your gear ready! In this case, your laptop and a few sheets of paper for sketching out your ideas.

And a cup of coffee.

Oh, and of course … your FREE spot in the 365-Day Indie Author Challenge!

Challenge yourself to write a novel over the next 365 days, and by this time next year, you’ll have a published book in your hand, just in time for the holiday gift-giving season.

Here’s to you, future published author! Join us today