For the luvva gawd, stop reading reviews

[Side note- some of you may notice I’m blogging more. If you’re mostly an ISBW podcast listener, my language may surprise you. I have a clean podcast because I am all too aware of the value of having something you can listen to in your car when your kids are with you, but in my fiction and nonfiction writing I do enjoy the colorful metaphors and descriptions.]

If you are one of those people who enjoy reading about yourself, no matter what people say, then go ahead. Read the reviews as if someone isn’t talking about your work, and, like many reviewers do, make assumptions based on your personality as a direct result of what you write. You don’t even need to continue reading. Just go off and feel pleased about yourself and the confidence you’ve built as an adult. Well done!

OK, now for the 95% rest of the population – don’t do it. Seriously. Nothing good comes of reading reviews. You’re going to read them and if they like the whole thing but think the romance part is weak (unless you’re writing romance, which makes it a bigger deal) then you’re probably going to be like AUGH THEY HATED MY ROMANCE MY LIFE IS OVER.*

Some people may not “get” your writing. They don’t see what you’re trying to achieve, or your subtle phrasing and hooks went over their head. That’s a definite possibility. However, the moment you say that people don’t understand your work, you dive headfirst into Sensitive Artist pool and sound like a pretentious asshole. It’s also possible that they didn’t “get” it because you didn’t do a good job of presenting it. Horrors, I know.


Nobody understands me because I am so deep.

Online, there are two things you never want to ask anyone, because there is no good answer.

  1. Why did you unfollow me on [social network]?**
  2. How could you write such a bad review of my work, my baby, my livelihood?

Seriously, nothing good comes out of this. The weird thing about becoming a public persona — whether for what you do, what you create, or being famous for being famous — is that when one person tells you their opinion of their work, you can bet cash moneys that there are many others out there who aren’t speaking up who think the same thing. This works both ways, good opinions and bad. So there are more out there that think the same as that horrible reviewer, but aren’t saying anything (possibly because they’re afraid of scary crazy author person chasing them down). So even if you did stop that one reviewer – which you won’t – it doesn’t stop opinions.

Also, reviews aren’t for you. They’re for the reader. Reviewers tell other readers what they think of a book, and whether you should pick it up or dear gawd don’t waste your money and time. These are valid warnings. If a reviewer for the Crusty Literary Readers Guild or The Stories Should Be About White Dudes Club doesn’t like my book about a woman writing travel guides for monsters, then they should probably warn other readers like them not to pick it up. Perfectly valid.

I really can’t think of any instance where an author complained about a review and it turned out OK for them. There was Anne Rice’s meltdown eleven years ago, and she is still campaigning against people who have opinions online. (I won’t link to the site where she does this because they cry about bullies but then go after “SJWs” – a huge red flag for me since it’s a term almost exclusively used by bigots associated with groups like Gamergate and Rabid Puppies) Laurel K Hamilton freaked out on her own blog. And now we have another one, a man posting an incomprehensible rant against a reviewer, comparing her to a child abductor. His comments have since been removed, but archives and an article about the incident are here.

That article makes a good point- the author is always the one who looks bad in this. ALWAYS. I don’t care if they said you were a poopyface that eats vomit and kicks baby birds. The moment you go “NUH UH, STOP BEING MEAN” you look like the jerk. People are going to wonder why you are spending so much time messing with this review. You’re a writer, why are you rampaging online instead of writing more?

I use goodreads, but as a reader. I like to keep track of my books. I don’t even write reviews anymore, unless I’m strongly driven (Station Eleven) to or it’s a medium in which I’m not currently writing (i wrote a review of the horror manga Uzumaki because it was amazing except for one aspect I needed to comment on). I’m technically on it as an author, but I never look at my reviews. There is zero point to it, unless I want to have a really good reason to drink that night.

You can go Jay and Silent Bob if you like, and take all the money you have and use it to track down everyone on the Internet who ever said anything bad about you and then punch them, but there are better uses for money, and that won’t stop MORE people from calling you an idiot for making that use of your time and money.


Satisfying, maybe. Illegal and impossible, definitely.

Look out the window right now, at the wide world. Perhaps the sun is shining. Perhaps the moon is up. Perhaps birds are singing or hopping around a feeder or bath. Maybe a cat is sitting on a fence, licking her paw. Maybe a neighbor or coworker wanders by and waves. You know, logically, that apart from the lovely view out your window, there are also likely rotting dead animals in the woods, and worms and beetles teem under the rocks in your garden, and copperheads lurk in the grass, ready to bite your dogs in the face***, and that person likely has skeletons in their closet they pray no one will ever find.

Internet comments, and some reviews, are the under-the-rock, rotting animal, secret-keeping neighbor that we all know are there, but to see them we have to hunt for them. So the question is, do you enjoy the view from your window, or do you purposefully go look under a rock just to get grossed out?

(and don’t tell me that you go under the rocks to remove the pests from your garden. You’ll end up killing some earthworms if you do that, which damages your garden. And the earthworms are your loyal readers who just lost respect for you because you threw a great big noisy fuss online. Metaphors. BOOM.)

I’ve gotten bad reviews. When I first got nominated for the Campbell, I had a very weird super-backhanded compliment given to me on a blog. But I learned in fifth fucking grade that ignorance is bliss – I was much happier before someone intercepted a note and showed me a line completely unflattering about me. Because what can you do about it? (Note- the answer is NOT go-apeshit-on-the-Internet.) Remember the Bonnie Raitt song “I can’t make you love me?” Well, you can’t make people love your work. And if you throw a fit online, you’re actively making them love you less. Not your work: you.

So you run across a bad review, or someone “helpfully” tells you about it. What can you do? You can get back to fucking work. That’s pretty much my answer for everything these days. Mad at something? Write. Trolls trolling online? Write. Grackles overtaking the birdfeeder? Write.

Do something that only you can control, and remember that they have no power over you but what you give them.

power


*Yeah, this was my Publishers Weekly review. 99% positive, a comment that the romance was weak, and I was devastated. Illogical, I know.
**I’ve stopped answering when people ask me this. No one has ever liked any of the reasons I told them.
***Happened last summer. That was a fun night. If you go on a long trip in the summer, remember to pay someone to mow your grass.

Prep the adrenaline cannon… FIRE

Edits, man. I have friends who cheerfully say, “rewriting is writing!” and love the edit process. I think these people are also the kind who enjoy putting laundry away. My approach to edits is different, and something I constantly struggle with. Picture a conversation, if you will.

Conscious mind: Your work needs other eyes. Your work has always, always benefitted by an editor’s hand. Most of the time the requested edits are pointing out unconscious repetitions in your work, or unintended cliches, or just misuse of a word. In short, editing is good. Editing makes the story better. You should feel grateful an editor has taken the time to suggest improvements to your work.

Subconscious mind: OH SHIT AN EMAIL HAS ARRIVED WITH “EDITS” IN THE SUBJECT LINE, FIRE THE ADRENALINE CANNONS, PREPARE THE SORRY-FOR-MYSELF HUGGY BEARS, AND MAKE SURE THE WEEPING CLOSET HAS FRESH TISSUES.

Conscious mind: Um, Drama Mama? Can you hold it down and stop flooding me with the desire to run away screaming that no one likes my writing? I have work to do here. And edits have never been bad, or personal. It’s about the work. So let’s edit the work.

Subconscious mind: WRONG WRONG WRONG THERE WAS THE TIME. THE CHOAD* TIME. YOU KNOW IT. RPG EDITOR SEND REDLINES BACK WITH THE WORD “CHOAD” WRITTEN AMONG THE EDITS THREE TIMES. ONCE AS A VERB. OR MAYBE AN ADJECTIVE. “CHOADING.” WE DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS.

Conscious mind: That was over 10 years ago! You were a baby writer! And besides, he was still commenting on the work, not you. Your writing was choady. You were fine.

Subconscious mind: You’re serious? Is this a joke? Choady writing is just fine as long as we don’t have Choady Mur?

Conscious mind: You haven’t been treated like that since! Get over it! Every time since then the edits come in, and you freak the fuck out, and then I have to spend days making you get up the courage to look at the edits, and how often are they more than an hour’s work?

Subconscious mind: Only on novel-length work.

Conscious mind: What’s that?

Subconscious mind: Only on novel-length work. But STILL. SCARY THEY DON’T LIKE US OR OUR WORK FEELS.

Conscious mind: Do you remember how good you feel when it’s done? Do you remember how we always say, “Why did we dread that so much?”

Subconscious mind: Fires the adrenaline cannon at Conscious mind, runs off to the weeping closet.

Conscious mind: Well. That was fun. Now I’ve got adrenaline all over me. Anyone got a towel? Maybe I’ll edit this afternoon…



Meet my subconscious. She’s kind of an asshole.


* Most people I’ve told this story to don’t know what choad means. It’s slang for penis. For more information, that link right there is text and descriptive, and safe for work unless people looking over your shoulder also like to read over your shoulder. And then they’ll only be reading about penis. Fun fact, according to the link above, choad was The Mavens’ Word of the Day, 2000 May 31, Random House.

Joining the payhip bandwagon

In case you dislike the other options for ebook purchasing, I’ve given you one more option: Payhip. You can buy directly from me instead of going through other ebook retailers. I’m gradually uploading things, and the first ones I did was my short story collection, Merry Christmas from the Heartbreakers, and Marco and the Red Granny, my novella about arts, patronage, aliens, and gladiatorial combat on the moon.

  Marco and the Red Granny

    Merry Christmas from the Heartbreakers

Princess Scientist Preps for Advent

It’s time to get ready for the advent season, and Princess Scientist is ready, with a hat. Enjoy our promo!

See the inspiration: Grant’s Advent Calendar!

In other news, here is how NaNoWriMo is going:

Anthology Sale!

I am thrilled to announce I made a story sale to John Joseph Adams for the extremely amusing anthology, Help Fund My Robot Army!  This book features stories written entirely in the form of Kickstarter (or other crowdfunding) campaigns, inspired by the Keffy R.M. Kehrli story of the same title (and format.) My story is “SAVE THE PHOTOPHOBIC HEMOGLOBIVORES WITH THE SANGUINE RESERVE!” *

See the rest of the ToC here.

robot-army

* Thanks to Fran Wilde for helping me make the title sexier.

Boskone and professionalism

Yesterday afternoon I got home from Boskone. Had a stressful travel day, landed, and ran off to see Book of Mormon in Durham. It was awesome; I’ve been waiting nearly two years to see this show and it delivered.

Boskone was definitely worth the trip, despite the blizzard and the shortened con because I had to run home for the show. I got some good time with other authors, some editors, Stonecoast friends and mentors, and met some new fans. Panels were great, but one moment stood out: I had a “funny pose” panel (a-la Jim C. Hines) – which was amazingly fun – at 7pm on Saturday. At 730, Boskone held a big book launch party, and Orbit (my publisher) kindly sent in a box of Ghost Train to New Orleans. I was delighted and promised I’d get to the party right after the posing panel to push the books and sign them if people wanted me to. When I got there at 8pm they told me the very good and very bad news that my book had been one of the fastest moving titles (YAY) and thus they were all gone so there was nothing for me to sign, no fans to meet (BOO). Some people did find me later and have me sign their copy. (YAY)

But one thing came out of the con that has me thinking: I want to talk professionalism: When we talk about being a pro, it often means doing work even when we don’t want to, and being polite to others in your field so you’re not mocked as being a sexist asshat, but another aspect of being a pro hit me this weekend: no matter what level in your career that you are in, you go to cons to connect with people. Readers, writers, editors, agents, fans, dealers, what have you. Even if you’re a veteran there just to see old friends, the mere act of being in public reminds readers who you are, the panels increase your visibility, the signings and readings reconnect you with the fans and tell them I’m still writing.

But for the non veterans, for the new writers, or baby published writers like me, it can be hard. When I’ve talked about this in the past, I’ve always talked about approaching writers/editors/agents as getting over a shyness problem. But yesterday I realized it goes deeper than that. It’s our JOB to do this. Networking is part of the job, just like putting your butt in the chair is. And if you can’t do that part of your job, you might suffer.

Charlaine Harris was at the con. During a panel, my friend Kristabelle asked Harris a craft question and Harris jumped on it, delighted to talk about writing. Apparently not a lot of people ask her craft questions. “Well heck, maybe she’d like to be on ISBW,” I thought, and immediately got scared. Ask Charlaine Harris? That’s terrifying. She’s famous and important. I have little to no connection with her, I didn’t know anyone who could introduce us. I would have to essentially cold call (cold approach?) her in the middle of the con for an interview. Saturday night, I saw her having a drink with her agent at the bar, and thought, “when I finish this glass of wine I’ll be relaxed enough to ask her. And they might be done by then so I won’t have that “I’m interrupting” problem.” I forgot I was drinking on an empty stomach, and by the time the wine was gone, I was not in a professional space to approach an author I’ve never spoken to, and the next time I looked, she was gone anyway.

I could easily blame a number of things- the wine hit too hard, I should have eaten dinner, I didn’t want to interrupt her chat with her agent, blah blah. But the truth was, I was too scared to do my fucking job. And that can’t continue.

It’s not about being brave, it’s about doing the job. And I think (hope) if I approach networking and interviewing and the like with the mindset of “time make the donuts” then I might do this a little better.

(I’m sorry I didn’t score a Charlaine Harris interview for you.)

(15 days till Ghost Train to New Orleans!)

The answer inside a turkey sandwich

There are things we know we are supposed to do. Floss. Get enough sleep. Eat regular meals. Eat healthy meals. Exercise.

And yet, inertia and incorrect priorities always make us sacrifice the important things. We eat crap and wonder why we feel sluggish. We sleep 6 hours a night and wonder why we are slow and snappish. We don’t floss and wonder why we bleed and get lectures at the dentist office.

And when we feel rather bad or low or like we’re the worst writers in the world, it’s often good to look away from the writing and see if you have covered all of the important things. If it’s been 8 or more hours since your last meal, or you got 4 hours of sleep, or you’ve got a cold coming on, those are all things other than your manuscript that can bring you down. We don’t like to admit it. We don’t like to think that the key to our novel lies inside a turkey sandwich. But our emotions are volatile little toddlers that can explode unexpectedly for reasons we don’t quite understand. And we take it out on unsuspecting things, like our work, or loved ones, or other drivers on the road.

So: you wake up. You’re convinced you’re shit. The world will chew up and spit out your prose. If you ever finish what you’re working on. But you won’t. Because you’re shit.

Hold up: how did you sleep last night? Have you had breakfast yet? Take the dog for a walk. (I do realize that suggesting this on the eve of a huge cold front about to freeze the eastern US solid is bad, but this post is technically evergreen.) Get a shower, get your head on straight. Hug your kids, tell your significant other that you’re grateful for them. THEN look at your work.

It’s possible it’s still shit, sure. I’m not saying all writing is magically better once you eat some eggs. But your attitude about approaching it will be better, and your endurance with writing and editing will be greater. We have to take care of ourselves if we want to accomplish anything.

(That said, you want to explain to me that medical doctors who prove time and again that the brain needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night, often pull 24 hour shifts?)

Fear- The Ugly Cry

This is not one of those inspirational posts that talks with sanitized optimism and comfort about golly gee we all have fear and it’s important to overcome it. No, I’m going to talk about my own fear, my specific and ugly fear, and show you all the snot and the blotchy face and the sobbing. I’m baring my soul so I can have the cathartic experience and perhaps move on.

I’m afraid of starting new projects. I think I’ve gotten to a placid feeling in my life of having plenty of projects due – book contracts or school assignments or story requests – that I have gotten lazy. Nine years ago I had no audience, no readers, and I thought, hey, let’s do this podcasting thing. A project that had no money, no reward, just This Might Be Fun. And it was.

I don’t think like that anymore.

In my own defense, if I have a contract, it takes precedence. I shouldn’t blow off school work when I get a wild idea. But you know what? Right now I’m between contracts. I’m about to graduate from school. I have limitless potential. And I’m fucking terrified.

  • I’m afraid of failure.
  • I’m afraid of succeeding and not knowing how to handle it.
  • I’m afraid there are more eyes on me than ever and I’m open to more criticism.
  • I’m afraid of starting something and fizzling out and slinking away, ashamed. That’s probably the biggest one, the fear of my own lack of motivation.

I know that everything I say on I Should Be Writing is true – that you have to put fears in the Happy Box, that you have to strangle the Inner Editor, that you have to understand that failure, rejection, criticism, none of those will kill you. You can look at authors and other creatives who have tanked their careers (I often marvel at Hollywood in this case) and then five or ten years later rise from the ashes like the phoenix, stronger and better and more popular than ever.

But that stuff is hard to internalize. I feel its truth when I’m saying it on the show, but during the dark times, when I’m not podcasting, when i’m sitting here going AH GAWD I AM A FRAUD AND EVERYONE WILL FIGURE IT OUT ANY TIME NOW, that’s when I’m not on the mic, and I’m not saying the truths, and it’s when I need to hear it the most.

So this is my baring of the soul, the open look at the ugly cry. The truth is I’m so damn afraid of every project I have in mind. It is still hard to look at feedback and critique as helpful instead of “THIS IS DRIVEL QUIT NOW AND GO BACK TO MAKING COFFEE FOR A LIVING.” It’s hard to look at failed projects and think, “OK, what did I learn from this?” instead of “FAILURE MEANS I SUCK AND SHOULD QUIT.”

My subconscious always speaks in all caps. Little punctuation. I know it’s annoying, shit, I live with it every day.

When I’m feeling low, I can’t even look at successes without seeing downsides. I’ve written every day for 393 days? Well, somewhere around July I stopped hitting my big daily wordcount goal (which was something like 600 a day) and went back to hitting minimum 250. Sometimes I do more, but I haven’t been able to work up a good streak of writing over 500 words a day. I won an award? Well, that was for potential. I can easily not live up to THAT expectation. I got a book deal? Great, but those books are done and finished. What is in the future for me?

The absolute worst part of the fear is that when I speak them or write them down, they sound illogical and whining.

I don’t feel like I have the right to have these fears.

I did have a well-received book, I did win an award, I am about to graduate with my MFA. My career is going great. The answers to these fears are clear and obvious.

Airing these fears makes me feel ashamed. But I don’t feel as if I can work through them if I let them fester, so here they are.

I’m afraid nearly all the time. I hold back creatively nearly all the time.

It feels hypocritical since I give advice to deal with this stuff. But that’s one reason I give the advice; the problems of writers are so obvious to me because I feel them all the time. I don’t know if it will make you feel any better, knowing you’re not alone if you feel this way. It could make you feel worse since you might hope that these things go away once you get a book deal/the book comes out/you win an award. For me, they didn’t.

You know when you’re walking down the street and you stumble and flail like an idiot, and you look around and see no one saw, you have that sense of relief that kind of washes over the embarrassment? That’s being a new writer and writing something that doesn’t work. Doing a project that no one cares about. Getting a rejection. Yeah, you stumbled, and that can be disappointing, even disheartening but who cares? No one saw.* Try again. Next time you won’t be as likely to stumble.

The thing is, when you have eyes on you and you stumble, well, it’s a little more embarrassing.

If only we all had the humor and strength to deal with it as well as Jennifer Lawrence did.

And so, now that more eyes are on me, I’m terrified of stumbling; I have held back. And my cold logical stern mind says yeah, but if you don’t walk anywhere, you don’t go anywhere. You take the risk of stumbling when you take that step. And the rewards are worth that risk, dammit.

So there is my ugly cry. I’m afraid of new things. And I’m airing this on New Year’s Day to be cathartic and hopefully push me into realizing that these fears, while very real, are also very stupid, and I need to just create and get it done and over with, and move on. 2004 Mur would be appalled if she saw how I hold back today. We don’t want to appall our past selves.

Now, to create.

Happy New Year!


* And if you’re thinking, “THE EDITOR SAW, MUR!” I promise you, it’s rare the editor formed any opinion about you when they rejected you. They probably didn’t even register your name, unless they’ve seen it many times before. And EVEN THEN you’re still a new writer, and all new writers are expected to submit and be rejected. It’s part of the process. You see it as huge,** that the editor is singling you out to reject you, while you’re just a part of the process to them. You can see this as a positive or a negative. I try really hard to see it as a positive.
** And it is huge. I remember the sting of rejection, and still experience it. But there’s the sting of rejection and the humiliation of public failure, two different feelings, two horrible things.

Guest post: Should I Be Writing?

Freelance writer, novelist, award-winning screenwriter, poker player, poet, biker, roustabout, Travis Heermann is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop and the author of the Ronin Trilogy, The Wild Boys, and Rogues of the Black Fury, plus short fiction pieces in anthologies and magazines such as Fiction River: How to Save the World, Weird Tales, Historical Lovecraft, and Shivers VII. As a freelance writer, he has produced a metric ton of role-playing game work both in print and online, including Legend of Five Rings, d20 System, and the MMORPG, EVE Online. He teaches science fiction literature at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and speculative fiction writing at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver.


Back in January, I wrote a guest post hereabouts on defeating the Procrastininjas. Now I’m going to talk about one of the most powerful Procrastininja clans.

One of the fundamental questions for any writer trying to make a go of it today is this: how do I balance writing time with promoting?

Since I went into this writing gig full-time in the Summer of 2012, my biggest struggle has been finding the balance between time spent writing and time spent promoting.

First of all, I hate marketing. I hate being inundated by it, day in, day out, being unable to go outdoors and not see marketing messages slathered all over every tree, board, building, and light post. I hate the intellectual numbness it inculcates, and I hate the way it so often assumes people are stupid, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. And I hate the way it feeds and reinforces the blind consumerism that lays waste to vast swaths of our planet. I digress, but only just a little.

Being a self-employed artist must also make me a businessman by necessity. I have a product to sell. As I’m a writer, my product is Story. Story is conveyed in a number of ways, but mostly still by physical books and packets of 1s and 0s. I want people who like to read to buy my Stories so that I can eat. In the case of my current project, I want readers to help fund the creation of OTHER people’s stories (but we’ll get to that in a moment).

The bottom line is: if no one ever hears my name, no one will ever buy my Stories. With how publishing has evolved in the last few decades, the overwhelmingly vast majority, teeming hordes of writers, must market themselves to get their work into the hands of readers who will pay them money.

This requires marketing. And thus, my love-hate relationship.  My feelings about marketing make it a very steep hill to climb when I think of adding my own trickle of marketing to the immense, crashing ocean of it already out there. Most of the time it feels like screaming into 180dB noise.

Are there any authors in the U.S. who do not have to market and promote themselves to maintain a living? Sure, and they can probably be counted on your fingers and toes.

Let’s take two authors, of similar quality, with similar publishing contracts, with books of equal mass appeal. Those who succumb to their innate resistance and eschew marketing and promotion are much more likely to swirl away and be lost in the constant upswell of new talent (and for some, “talent” is a euphemism). The thing with hot up-and-comers is that they produce an equal number of forgotten down-and-outers.

So. Heavy sigh. Whether we want a traditional contract or readers for our indie-published work, we have to market ourselves. It’s part of the job description.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes it is immensely easier to go and do some marketing busy work than it is to face the blank page. Even when the Story is flowing, it can be a hair-pulling, leather-chewing, smashing-your-pinky-in-the-car-door load of anguish.

There are some who say that the best form of marketing is simply to write another book, another short story. There are other writers who are marketing machines, blasting away with tremendous loads of ammunition—and they seem to get results.

These are opposite ends of the spectrum. So who’s right? Most people would agree that there has to be a middle ground.

The first half of 2013 resulted in paltry little fiction output. I was running a successful Kickstarter and taking care of its results, teaching a university class in science fiction literature, and I was beating the bushes at a number of marketing approaches. And all this on top of family and friend interaction. I was dissatisfied with my fiction output, which left me crabby, surly, curmudgeonly. So I changed the balance of time. My girlfriend found she liked it when I disappeared to write for great stretches of time. I was around less, but we all liked it when I was in a better mood.

Finding a good middle ground is a constant struggle for me, but here’s something that helped me find the balance. It was introduced to me by other writers, and I have found it a useful tool.

The WIBBOW test. Would I Be Better Off Writing?

When I apply this very simple test (created by Kris Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith) to whatever I am doing that is NOT writing, unhelpful activities get highlighted quickly. This includes things like trying to set up book signings, convention appearances, social media (egad, what a time sink!), sending out piles of review requests, everything that is not the composition or revision of new fiction. Not all of these things have passed the WIBBOW test, but they were all part of the learning process that has helped me weed out what does and does not contribute to my mental well-being.

If finding balance is a daily struggle for you, try the WIBBOW test.

So what about this guest blog post? Does it pass the WIBBOW test?

In the case of this guest blog post, which Mur has been kind enough to host, I happen to be working on a fantastic anthology project as the editor. I’m really excited about Cars, Cards & Carbines, so I’m delighted to be putting the word out. If a high-octane, multi-genre, speculative fiction anthology—in which Mighty Mur is one of the lead authors—gets your fuel pumping, please give this a look. The Kickstarter campaign ends on December 19, 2013.

So does shifting my creative gears temporarily into not only editing, but also putting together and running a Kickstarter campaign pass the WIBBOW test?

Yes. Putting oneself in the shoes of an editor is an eye-opening experience in many ways, not least of which results in becoming a better writer. The chance to work with the lead authors we have on board has also been a tremendous experience. So the chance to put this anthology together required a crowd-funding campaign, which requires marketing. All of these things pass the test, regardless of whether the campaign funds successfully.

So the bottom line is this: if you’re not writing, does what you’re doing have value for your career, make you a better writer, increase your network of resources and contacts, make you feel more fulfilled, or help pay your rent?

If so, keep doing it. If not, get your butt back to the blank page.