Books & Buzz Magazine: After a challenge, success is all the sweeter

Books & Buzz Magazine, July 2022, Volume 4 Issue 10And they’re off! Just this morning, writers in the 365-Day Indie Author Challenge have embarked on the journey of a lifetime as they write, finish, and publish their novels. I’ll be with them every step of the way, and I’m excited to see the stories that emerge from this year-long adventure.

If you would like to join us, the doors will be open for just another few days. The more voices and creative inspiration we have in our group, the better.

Even if you’re not a writer, you’ll find plenty to read when you join ChapterBuzz. Read published books, join the Fan Clubs of our authors, and give feedback to writers as they post new chapters. It’s a lot of fun, and it helps our authors!

This issue, meanwhile, is packed with literary talent—and, as it happens, on-air talent as well—and you are going to love what you find in our virtual pages:

Featured on our cover this month is Alan R. Warren, radio host and bestselling author. Born at a time when autism wasn’t very well understood, Alan faced challenges his peers didn’t as he came up in his career. “People always told me I would never be on radio because I wasn’t a good communicator,” he says, “and that I would never be able to write professionally.” Well, he proved them wrong on both counts, and in our interview, Alan talks to me about what first sparked his desire for a career in radio, the double standard he calls out in his new true crime book series, and the one feeling he needs to experience before he can sit down and write a story.


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!


Then, horror author Kelly Florence wonders if society puts too much pressure on young people to succeed by an early age. “It shouldn’t matter,” Kelly writes, “how long it takes for us to accomplish our goals, as long as we get there. It shouldn’t matter at what age we get married, or start our dream career, as long as they are things we want.” Kelly’s piece also explores the meaning of happiness in different cultures, and how we can avoid stress and anxiety by not comparing ourselves to others—and take back our lives by not paying heed to the “social clock.”

Next, Meg Hafdahl, Bram Stoker Award–nominated author, puts in a good word for an art form that’s not as popular as it used to be: the short story. “The humble short story can often be overlooked,” Meg says, “especially as readers’ habits and tastes have changed over the decades.” In fact, novels were considered a lesser art form—even dismissed as a “feminine pursuit”—back in the pre-Victorian era, while the short story was the more versatile, more widely read format. Meg, whose career began, fittingly, with a short story, has written quite a few of them and assures us that she plans to write many more.

Finally, award-winning fantasy author Richard H. Stephens gives us a glimpse into his writing process, and it’s a lot simpler than you might think: he doesn’t outline. Nor does he world-build, create characters, or fret over magic systems. “In some circles, I am called a ‘pantser,'” he says. “It means I fly by the seat of my pants. Truth be told, I like to think I fly by the seat of my character’s pants.” The way Richard describes it, he’s merely tagging along and telling the story of what his characters are experiencing. Although he admits this approach doesn’t work for everybody, it saves him time and stress—and also prevents writer’s block.

When you get a few moments amidst the chaos of outdoor festivities, fix yourself an ice cream cone, kick back, and enjoy this month’s issue of Books & Buzz Magazine.

Happy reading,

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

This writing group is about to start on Chapter One. You could be, too!

Learn more about TimWe’re going to start with Chapter One.

When you’re writing a novel one step at a time, it’s best to start from the very beginning.

In this case, the very first week of our year-long novel-writing challenge will be spent getting your ideas together. Then, learning the basics of how to make your first chapter stand out—that is, what should be included, and what certainly shouldn’t be included!—as well as the best way to bring it to a close so that your readers can’t wait to start in on Chapter Two.

In just 30 days, you’ll have a finished first chapter.

It’s a first chapter you can share with anyone. Getting people interested in your story—and rooting for your success—will give you a huge boost as you write the rest of your novel.

So stop by, introduce yourself, and get settled. You’ll be a part of a group of writers who have only one thing on their minds: finishing an excellent novel this year!

With a week left, don’t get stuck NOT writing a novel this year

Learn more about TimImagine, for a moment, the next 12 months of your life.

You COULD be spending each day …

  • Writing each morning as the sun comes up, or typing out your latest exciting chapter deep into the late night hours. Really, whatever time of day you enjoy most and feel most productive. Wouldn’t it be great to get back into that writing routine again?
  • Learning the best ways to bring your ideas together and structure your plot. Just think of all the possibilities for your characters, scenes, settings, and plot twists!
  • Telling friends to go check out your published book on Amazon … around this time next year.

Sounds pretty good, huh?

Now, imagine NOT doing any of that.

See the difference?

The power to succeed as a novelist is in your hands—literally—so come join us on a year-long adventure writing your novel.

I’ll look for you!

As one of the few, you’re in the company of esteemed writers

Learn more about TimIt’s a club few ever make it into: the esteemed society of published authors.

Even these days, when anybody can self-publish, there’s still a huge barrier to bringing a story from your imagination all the way to the bookshelf.

That barrier is not your ability to write, nor your ability to tell a story. These things can be learned. No, the barrier is just … yourself.

You don’t have to be a wordsmith on the level of Hemingway, Morrison, King, or Lee to write a book that captivates readers—I mean, have you read some of the popular works of the last decade or two? Some of the most mainstream books (I won’t call them out by name) are from authors who could use a refresher course in the art of writing … yet their stories capture the imaginations of readers everywhere.

And that’s what’s important. You simply have to be driven, passionate about your craft, and ready to tell your story.

In short, you have to want it.

They say “80% of success is just showing up,” but I think that’s only because showing up is no small feat in itself. There’s no “just” about showing up. When you show up, it means you already harbor a great deal of the desire you need to follow through—and the guts to do it.

And sure, we’ll call that 80%. Sounds about right to me.

Yet still, it’s that last 20% that trips up many an aspiring novelist, because it requires discipline, focus, and courage to make it through the home stretch, and not everyone has this kind of mental fortitude.

If you can’t wait to get started, the 365-Day Indie Author Challenge is just around the corner, yours for the conquering.

Writer, if you give it your all, and you want it badly enough, then success is yours … along with admission to an esteemed club only the most dedicated ever make it into.

Not to mention that steeping yourself in the company of success-minded writers only lifts you to greater heights!

We’re ready to get started on our novels. Are you?

Learn more about TimThe line is forming outside, waiting for the doors to swing open in just a few days.

We’re itching to get started writing our novels!

We’ve got some ideas—even though we may not know quite how they all fit together yet—we’ve got the motivation, and we’re about to get the step-by-step guidance.

And we know that 365 days from now, we’ll be holding our newly published books in our hands.

It’s time!

I hope you will join us in the 365-Day Indie Author Challenge, a FREE novel-writing-course-slash-writer-meetup where we are going to keep ourselves busy busy busy for the next year, writing, reading, editing, and publishing.

Sign up (for free) now and join this terrific group of writers, who range from total beginners to seasoned pros—and everything in between.

It’ll be a productive year for all of us … and one heck of an achievement!

Writing a novel is exciting! But … what if you lose steam?

Learn more about TimSo you’ve decided to write a novel!!!

You’re excited, and you can’t wait to get started. You’ve even signed up for the 365-Day Indie Author Challenge. (At least, I hope you have!)

You’ve got all these ideas, and you can’t wait to get them all down onto paper. Writing a novel, here you come.

In short, you’re ready.

And then, about halfway through, it happens: you slow down.

You realize—with horror—that you no longer know where your story is going, and as a result, you can’t get motivated to sit down and write.

Like a fantasy hero trudging her way through a muddy bog in the driving rain, or a day hiker hopelessly lost in the woods with no way out in sight, the middle of your novel can feel like a windswept plain that looks the same in every direction. You’re basically lost in your own story.

There is, however, a pretty good reason why this happens.

Lauren Sapala, in her article “Why Writing Your Way Through the Middle of a Book Is So. Damn. Hard,” leaves no mystery: it’s because of all the exciting possibilities you may have imagined just a few chapters ago, only a few would even make sense at this point.

So how do you power through the sagging middle of your story, when you have no idea how to connect the dots from one chapter to the next?

Here are 5 exercises that will make the path forward more obvious:

1. Focus. Picture the central theme of your novel as a vein that runs through your entire story. Do all of your plot points revolve around it? Or can you identify some scenes, or even entire chapters, that veer off the path? By “trimming the fat”—which is easier said than done, because you wrote it, after all—you can tighten up the plot. Often, a clear direction for the rest of your story will emerge from what’s left.

2. Unfocus. This is the exact opposite approach. Eschew focus, write with abandon, and go in several different directions at once. This one’s for all you pantsers out there! As your story branches out, surely one of those paths will look like an appealing option.

3. Reimagine your plot. I’m not saying you have to go back and rewrite your whole novel, but just take a mental step back and look at the whole plot from a distance. This will help you rise above all those details that might be bogging you down. Consider not just what you’ve already written, but how your story might end. From there, start connecting the dots in your head. You might have to add, remove, or tweak some chapters to make it work, but it will be worth it.

4. Sharpen your character’s goal. What is it your main character truly wants? What obstacles have stood in her or his way up to this point? If many goals are pulling your character in too many directions at once, whittle it down to one goal. Any scenes or chapters that aren’t related to this goal can be scaled down or removed.

5. Write backwards. Sit down and think hard about how you might want the story to end. (That’s right, pantsers, I’m challenging you here!) When you’ve got the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, to use as a guiding beacon, the journey from “here” from “there” will be much easier.

Why am I bringing all of this up now? Quite frankly, it’s because this is the stage our first group of writers in the 365-Day Indie Author Challenge find themselves at right now.

So if you’ve already signed up for the next Challenge starting on July 1st, I’d like to say congratulations! I commend you for taking this step. At the same time, I want you to have a clear-headed idea of the challenges you’ll face as you work your way toward this phenomenal life achievement.

What did you do when the going got slow? How did you get through it? Share your tips in the comments below!

Are you an indie author? Help us out: have you ever talked to a bookstore manager?

Learn more about TimThe Indie Author Success Network—which I hope you join—is a brand-new way for you to connect with other writers and discover new tips and tricks to help you succeed as an independent author of novels.

And now, I’d like to put you in the spotlight.

Indie authors often find themselves on the front lines of promoting their own books, and today, I’m especially interested to know if you’ve ever dealt with a local bookstore in your effort to spread the word about the novel you wrote.

Here’s my question:

Have you ever talked to a bookstore manager?

Maybe you were hoping to sell your book there as a local author …

… or arrange a book signing event …

… or simply make a connection.

How did you do it? For example, how did you first get in touch, was the process easy, what were the requirements? How did the event go, or how long did you end up selling there?

Please leave a comment and let us know! I’ll use your story as inspiration for all the aspiring indie authors who are signing up for the network.

Make sure you include a link to your book so I can let everyone know where to buy it!

This is the exact reason I created the Indie Author Success Network: it’s indie authors helping indie authors to succeed.

This time, it’s different. Here are 3 reasons why

Learn more about TimAs writers, we often need to pull open that mental drawer and dust off our list of life goals.

We may also need to pull open that real drawer and dust off that old manuscript that never quite saw the light of day.

Remember that brilliant story you started writing but never finished?

Whatever efforts may have fallen flat in the past should not keep you from looking to the future, and feeling certain that …

… should you give it another shot …

this time, it will be different, and you’ll succeed the way you’ve always wanted to.

So take a look at these 3 reasons I thought of for why you might be feeling this way, and why giving it another shot is a great idea.

How many of these am I right about?

1. You’re ready now. When something doesn’t work out the way you want, it usually means you’re simply not ready for it. It’s one of life’s many ways of keeping us on the path of what’s right for us, even if sometimes it seems like the world is working against us. But believe me, what happened in the past has all been for the best. So even if the timing was off before, you can tell you’re simply feeling a lot more ready now.

2. Life has calmed down. Before, when things kept coming up, it was distracting to the point where you couldn’t find the time to write anymore—let alone summon your creative genius to put a whole story together in your mind. But now, you have a little more breathing room, and a few more minutes in your day for pursuing long-time goals, such as writing a novel.

3. Now, you have a plan. Wait, no I don’t, you may be thinking. I beg to differ! The 365-Day Indie Author Challenge is starting soon, and it’s a year-long guided journey to writing your first (or next) novel. This is how you take all of your ideas and learn expert tricks to organize them into a finished first chapter—and that’s just the first 30 days. Plus, in the company of all these other writers, it’s a lot easier to stick with it and succeed. See? Now, you have a plan!

No matter what you’ve tried before, or whatever the reason it didn’t work out, you just know that deep down, it’ll be different this time.

It’s amazing how one year can make all the difference, and you are ready for that big change.

A published book, beautiful book cover, growing audience, and a new group of writers to brainstorm with means that a year from now, it’s that glow of achievement—instead of the nagging doubt from the past—that you’ll be feeling.

Just don’t be surprised when people notice the extra pep in your step and gleam in your eye!

Now, over to you:

Have you ever tried writing a novel before where it didn’t work out? What happened? Are you feeling ready to try again?

Comments welcome below!

Success (as an indie author) belongs to you

Learn more about TimMy goal is to help you succeed as an independent author of novels!

The indie author lifestyle is perfect for many writers, but for others, it might not be ideal.

What about you?

Let’s hear your comments! What do you like about being an indie author? Or, if you haven’t published a book yet, what is the biggest draw of this lifestyle for you?

Add your response below, and while you’re at it, be sure to join our Indie Author Success Network for much more!

Want to succeed as a published indie author? Join our new writer’s network

Learn more about TimJoin our brand-new Indie Author Success Network!

If you’re ready to start a new life as an indie author, this new network is your ticket.

You’ll learn:

  • How to get started writing a novel
  • Tips from successful indie authors
  • Ways to get involved and start a new life as a published author
  • Simple changes you can make to power your new lifestyle
  • How to jump right into the life of an indie author (and why you would want to!)

Get on the list now and start learning, writing, and growing as an independent author!

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