Embrace the Grind #MondayBlogs

So I saw a maxim scribbled across an athletic shirt that caught my attention. Now, generally speaking, I absolutely hate athletic shirts with silly slogans on them. Every time I see a forty year old dude wearing Oakleys like he’s fucking Kenny Powers with his stomach hanging out of the bottom of his Under Armour shirt that declares ‘Clutch Performer’ I have an urge to ask him when, exactly, he performs under pressure. Probably a knee jerk dickhead reaction on my part, but hey, it’s how I feel.  Back on task, I saw a shirt and the motto read, ‘Embrace the grind’. Holy shit, I want one of those, but not for all that athletic shit. Ten thousand practice free throws a day is not my kind of grind.

But you know what is my kind of grind? Yeah, you guessed it, wordsmithing. If you aren’t a writer and think that writing a novel is as easy as dropping your ass in front of your laptop/word processor/typewriter/stone tablet and kicking out a hundred thousand or so words, you’re right. Well, sort of. Let’s just say you have made it through the entire process of finishing a complete novel. Counting beta reads and editing and all that jazz. Congrats, you’re a novelist. What’s next? Sit down and write your follow up masterpiece, right?

Wrong. Fucking wrong.

If you want to make any money off your novel you need to write a query letter and synopsis and research what agent would be the best fit for your hundred and sixty thousand word epic about a corn kernel’s journey through the small intestines of an aging biker. Then you get picked by an agent or publisher, you’re done right? Not quite Mr. Jumpy Pants. Drop some lead right in the seat of your Levi’s because there’s marketing to be done. Interviews, blog tours, and all kinds of other ‘hey, I wrote a book’ kind of posturing. Oh yeah, while you were writing your book however many months ago, you probably should have been blogging about what the fuck ever people blog about to build an audience. Yeah, audiences buy books. Sold books continue writing ‘careers’ and yes, I use the word career loosely.

So, that second book you were going to start, you remember the one right? Yeah, you had that kick ass idea for a story about a werewolf that changes form every time someone squeaks a squeaky toy titled ‘Like an Lichan’. It’s time to get started on that bad boy. NO, WAIT I SAY. Your publisher loved your breakout hit Colon Kernel and now they’ve requested a sequel. They wan’t to know if you can have them the first draft in two months.

Okay, so that whole scenario is a bit blown up, it’s true. But not by much. Sustaining a writing career (There’s that fucking word again. I don’t mean that you make a living off your writing, I just mean the act of your writing and everything around it) takes a lot of work. There is always a deadline (self imposed or outside imposed) and there is always pressure to perform. This book has to be better than the last one. I need to sell more copies. I need to diversify my bibliography. I need to actually find time to read other people’s books. I promised x,y, and z beta reads this month that I need to do. I need to blog. I need to market. I need to sit in a corner and cry for all my hard work that’s gotten no recognition.

Whatever.

You are always being pulled in a million different directions and at time it feels like too much to handle. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the shit you don’t think about. That’s exactly the time you need to embrace the grind. This is why you do this. This is what you wanted, right? It’s what I wanted. I want fans to read my books and beg for more. I want to write more to give them. I want to share what I have to say, that’s why I started sharing my writing in the first place. So I say it again embrace the grind. That’s fucking right.

We’ve all got shit to do and shit we want to do. If writing is the thing you want to do, then you know what you’ve got to do. That’s right. Embrace the mother fucking grind. 

T is for Tattoo #AtoZChallenge

ImageThat’s it, I’m saying this right here, right now. Tattoos are art at the very least and extremely personal portraits of someone’s own unique symbols in most cases. You can, and do, judge a book by it’s cover just as well as you can, and do, judge a person by theirs.

If you see a guy with tattoos up his neck, a swastika on his forehead, and a teardrop on his face, that’s probably not someone that’s going to leave a good first impression. You see a guy with a tattoo of a pop culture reference that you enjoy and you immediately have something to talk about. In recent memory I’ve seen two different guys with “Veritas, Requitas” tattoos and we talked about how good of a movie Boondock Saints was. Maybe you see a portrait that you can tell was an old picture, probably someone’s grand-mother or father, and you can immediately tell how close that person was with that family member. Maybe someone has a tattoo of their last name or the flag of their country, you automatically know what that person has pride in.

Tattoos are art and art inspires me. Tattoos tell a story and stories inspire me. I’ve got three, each tell a small part of my personal story. Do you have any and if you do, what do they say about your story?

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One of my wife’s tattoos. I helped design it 🙂

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A tattoo that my wife drew for a friend.

R is for Rise Against

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R is for rise against. I think they’re classified as a melodic hardcore punk band. What that translates to is a fast-playing rock band where the singer is capable of singing.

I know a bunch of my posts have been about music, but music inspires me as much or more than anything else.

Rise against have been around for a while now and one of my favorite things about the band is that every song has a point.

Whether its poverty or social inequality or poorly run government systems these guys have opinions and they’re not afraid to share them over blasting guitar riffs. To me their older music was on a more personal level while their newer stuff seems to take things to a global level. I prefer personal, but it’s all good either way.

My favorite lyrics: “We’ll get by just fine here on minimum wage. If love is a labor I’ll slave till the end”

“Lets take this one day at a time. Ill hold your hand if you hold mine. The time that we kill keeps us alive.”

Here’s a newer music video. If it doesn’t make you sad or angry you either aren’t old enough to remember Katrina or you have no soul.

Only ten days left to enter to win a copy of one of my favorite books, John Dies at the End. All you have to do to enter is follow me on twitter (@alexnaderwrites) and then tweet this message: Follow @AlexNaderWrites and RT this for a chance to win A copy of John Dies at the End in paperback

O is for On Writing #AtoZChallenge

ImageToday’s post is for the Stephen King book On Writing. It is a partial memoir of his life and his thoughts on the craft of writing.

The first section he chronicles some of his memories that led him down his path to becoming an author. At one point he talks about when he found out his first big novel Carrie was going to get him a big check and how he was struggling to support a family at the time. That part really stuck with me and it always lifts me up to hear other people’s success stories.

After he gets past the events that made him an author he talks about the actual nuts and bolts of writing. The things that work for him and what he thinks makes good prose. I don’t necessarily agree with it all, but he’s Stephen King so who am I to argue?

The final part is how while writing On Writing he was struck by a vehicle, a van I think, and ended up in a pretty bad spot. Another story that puts into perspective just how quickly one’s life can change.

It’s a good read and I would suggest it for anyone, even if you aren’t a writer.

I just want to make a note that On Writing almost lost out to Oreos for my O post. They are delicious.

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N is for Noir Fiction #AtoZchallenge

ImageContinuing right along with some writing influences today we have the letter N. N is for Noir fiction.

I’m pretty excited about this one too because Noir, or Hard-Boiled, or whatever you want to call it is one of my favorite genres of books. It’s really kind of odd the more I think about it because it is the only genre where I don’t particularly care what the story is. It’s not that I don’t like mysteries or anything, really I do, it’s just the thing that draws me to noir is the writing.

It’s raw and gritty and dirty and sparse. There’s not a whole lot of big, deep metaphors or anything like that. They just tell it how it is. That goes for the dialogue too. The way the characters interact is wonderful. They don’t throw out broad, foul worded insults. Instead they say things about each other in a brutal honesty. Why waste a cuss word when you can just tell a character their personal short comings. I don’t know why I think this is so much fun to read, but it is.

My personal favorite is Dashiell Hammett. His most famous work is The Maltese Falcon, but the first thing I read by him was The Thin Man. To this day The Thin Man is one of my favorite books. I’ve also read a little bit of Raymond Chandler and I am in the middle of The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy right now.

What about you guys? Any hard-boiled suggestions?

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Also, I am giving away a copy of one of my favorite books, John Dies at the End. All you have to do to enter is follow me on twitter (@alexnaderwrites) and then tweet this message: Follow @AlexNaderWrites and RT this for a chance to win A copy of John Dies at the End in paperback

M is for Muse #AtoZChallenge

ImageM is for Muse.

No, not the band, the inspirations. People have all sorts of muses. They can be people, books, music, quotes. Pretty much anything can inspire someone in some shape or fashion. Hell, the theme for my A to Z challenge is things that inspire me.

But I have one person that I consider my own personal muse and I’ve been married to her for almost nine years now. My wife is smart, creative, and never afraid to tell me when something needs changed. While writing my first two books I tried not to talk to her about them. I wanted the stories to surprise her, but it never failed in both books I got stuck and had to go to her for help. Now I just talk to her up front about all my story ideas. It’s nice to have someone there to say, “I like this idea but not that one.”

She also has all kinds of ideas of her own about my characters, some of them I use, some I don’t. It’s always nice to live with your inspiration and I truly believe that creativity inspires more creativity.

Now seems like a good time to remind you guys I am giving away a copy of one of my favorite books, John Dies at the End. All you have to do to enter is follow me on twitter (@alexnaderwrites) and then tweet this message: Follow @AlexNaderWrites and RT this for a chance to win A copy of John Dies at the End in paperback

And in case you came here for the band, here’s some of that too.

A is for Atmosphere

B is for Benny Imura

C is for the Crow

D is for Doomtree

E is for Empathy

F is for Fight Clube

G is for Game of Thrones

H is for Heart-Shaped Box

I is for Internet

J is for John Dies at the End

K is for Kids

L is for Logan and (Remy) LeBeau

K is for Kids #AtoZChallenge

ImageSeeing as how I suck at planning and the A to Z challenge was kind of a last minute thing, I think I signed up with six hours left, I have spent these first two weeks flying by the seat of my pants. I have spent the last two days thinking about what starts with the letter K and inspires me.

I briefly thought about the band Kings of Nuthin’, a punk band with a piano line that reminds me of Jerry Lee Lewis, but they don’t really inspire me so much as they are just awesome to listen to.

So at about 2a.m. last night my wife says to me, “What about kids?”

Huh. Such an important part of my life and it never even clicked. I have three kids a 3 yr old boy, a 7 yr old girl, and an 8 yr old boy. They are awesome and I love them more than I ever thought possible. My kids don’t just inspire my writing, they inspire my life. Because of them 65 hour workweeks (plus writing time) don’t seem so bad.

I also don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as funny as my children. Plus, nothing makes me question my thoughts and beliefs as much as explaining to and 8 yr old why I believe them. My family is everything to me and the things they teach me everyday show up in my life as much as my writing.

Draven, Ava, Xavier, I love you guys.

So in closing, I offer this:

 

A is for Atmosphere

B is for Benny Imura

C is for Crow

D is for Doomtree

E is for Empathy

F is for Fight Club

G is for Game of Thrones

H is for Heart-Shaped Box

I is for Internet

J is for John Dies at the End

J is for John Dies at the End #AtoZChallenge

ImageOkay guys, this is a pretty big one for me as far as things that have inspired my writing. I’m gonna start with a little back story.

In the six years after high school I read exactly two books, Angels and Demons by Dan Brown and Amazonia by James Rollins. Both of them were good books, two of my favorites to this day, but they didn’t inspire me to seek out more reading.

About three years ago a friend recommended a book, John Dies at the End, to me because it was written by one of the editors of cracked.com, a website I spend a lot of time at. I picked up the book and was immediately hooked. I am honestly not even sure how to describe what happens and the dialogue consists of exactly how my friends and I speak to each other at times.

In short it is the first book I ever read that seemed like it was written for me and my friends, not just all people ages 20-65. There’s nothing wrong with writing for a wide audience, but there’s something special about thinking another author is speaking at your level. That book ignited my reading and although I’m still not a speed reader I’ve managed to finish at least one or two books a month since then.

Not only did John DIes inspire me to read more it also made me think about writing. It what got me started and to this day it is still one of the funniest books I’ve ever read in my life.

While I’m on the subject, now is a good time to remind you guys that I am giving a copy away. All you have to do to enter is follow me on twitter (@alexnaderwrites) and then tweet this message: Follow @AlexNaderWrites and RT this for a chance to win A copy of John Dies at the End in paperback

Or you could buy it right now by clicking on this picture:

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I is for the Internet, of course #AtoZChallenge

ImageTo keep those of you new to the blog up to date, my theme for the A to Z Challenge has been things that help and inspire me as a writer.

Today is the internet. I truly cannot imagine how people wrote without it. Don’t know how to spell a word? Google. Need a brush up on proper hyphen usage? Google. Need to know what kind of cake 17th century French knights ate atop their steads as they marched into battle against the Brazilians? Google. (Google may have a hard time finding results for that last one, but keep looking, you’ll find something.)

I find myself writing sometimes with my browser open for fact checking. I have a real round-a-bout kind of memory so I always like to double check those things I’m hazy about.

The internet can also showcase some of humanity’s awfulness. If I ever need a new and probably misspelled insult I just have to check the comments section of pretty much any internet article ever. This is a totally different subject for a different time. This is a happy article about how helpful the internet can be. Dammit.

Recap:

A is for Atmosphere

B is for Benny Imura

C is for Crow

D is for Doomtree

E is for Empathy

F is for Fight Club

G is for Game of Thrones

H is for Heart-Shaped Box

I is for Internet

H is for Heart-Shaped Box #AtoZChallenge @joe_hill

ImageHere we go with another item on the list of things that influence my writing a to z.

H is for Heart-Shaped Box a novel by Joe Hill. It makes the list because it is the first book I ever read that scared the shit out of me.

I will be the first to tell you that I’m not big on horror movies. I don’t so much mind scary stuff as I mind all of the gore filmmakers think they need to make them scary. Because of that I was apprehensive about reading a scary novel. Heart-Shaped Box showed up in my “you might like” list and I clicked on it out of curiosity.

It was described as a story about a washed up metal singer with a taste for collecting macabre items. One of the items, a dead man’s suit, comes back to haunt him, literally. This one top of sharing the name of a Nirvana song was all I needed. I read it, and it was creepy as hell.

Thanks Joe for writing something frightening that doesn’t have to be gross or gruesome.

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Also, don’t forget about my contest. I’m giving away a free copy of one of my favorite books, John Dies at the End, at the end of this month. All you have to do to enter is follow me on twitter (@alexnaderwrites) and then tweet this message: Follow @AlexNaderWrites and RT this for a chance to win A copy of John Dies at the End in paperback

 

A is for Atmosphere

B is for Benny Imura

C is for Crow

D is for Doomtree

E is for Empathy

F is for Fight Club

G is for Game of Thrones

H is for Heart-Shaped Box