Sunday, 21 July 2013


Here’s major writing advice from an author who was almost hit by a van in the quest to publish. I was on the quest to publish – I can’t speak for the van.
Write your stories as though you are about to be hit by a bus.
I am having some difficulty spelling the word PUBLISHING. In the big out-thereness of the world, someone decided PUBLISHING Kacey Vanderkarr was worth a shot. I wouldn’t go PUNCHING Kacey Vanderkarr – she’s far taller than I am and has a greater reach than I could muster.1
Not advocating violence – merely advocating imagery.
At heart, Kacey will always be an old-fashioned youngster. In this, the Digital Age, Kacey hankered for a physical copy of the book she wrote. A mere dream, woven from moonbeams and dainty sugar-strands of nothingness.
Bizarrely, that antique dream came true.
Sitting in her oak-panelled study, checking her gold pocket-watch, Kacey swooned melodramatically as the hour of import approached. Swivelling in her curlicued chair, she risked snagging her velvet cape in the seat’s old-fashioned mechanism.
Her butler – husband – delete as applicable approached with the tome upon a silver salver.
“That will be all, my good fellow. See to the stable, for the colt wants reassurance. Alas, I have not the time in which to provide the balm. For I must hold my latest publication in my over-perspiring hands. Rapture!”
At which point, Kacey returns to this century and emits a very long “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”
I’m an electronic self-publisher with an archaic preference for reading hardback tomes. My gold pocket-watch lies dusty and defunct in a drawer. I have no desire to hold a copy of one of my own books in my hands.
Kacey should be an electronic author too, but she’ll never get over the alliterative joy of purring the pages of a paperback. She’d be delighted to sign a copy for you. Her work is, in short, as ready as it’ll ever be. Oh, ’twas not always thus…
For once upon a once upon a, Kacey fell prey to the fear that she’d never be ready to publish. She’d never send a manuscript to a publisher – let alone embark upon the thorny path of self-publishing. Sigh! She swept her unsung stories around the house and into dusty corners where she hoped no one would notice them.
Kacey wailed into the darkness and the darkness responded. Out of the gloom, a Scottish voice emerged.
“Fear not, Kacey-rella. You shall go to the ball.”
And, with a wave of a magic club, I started punching the crap out of Kacey Vanderkarr. She had to ditch the fear. BAM! The only person holding her back was an idiot named Kacey. BAM! She was no idiot, so what was really holding her back? BAM! Fear. BAM! She could write. BAM!
How inspirational was she to the people around her? BAM! Very. I gave harsh advice. BAM! Write your stories as though you are about to be hit by a bus. No, not with clenched buttocks and a wild surprised look on your face. Though if that posture helps, hey, go for it.
Result? After punching Kacey Vanderkarr, which I likened to bludgeoning a baby seal on the ice, I sat back and waited for her volcanic eruption. Instead, she chased a publishing deal. And this blog post celebrates her publication.
Authors. They grow up so fast – and turn to hard liquor.
I waded through her blog – a marshland of self-defeating fear. And I found a piece of fiction, on which she’d be judged. That extract became the book Antithesis. Yes, this is a plug. On reading her novel’s opening, about a one-armed ginger character, I saw that Kacey could write. I marched onto the ice and bludgeoned her with the news.
Those bloodstains are still out there.
Kacey chased a deal with INKSpell publishing. That, too, is a plug.
Her 2011 blog trotted out excuses about being afraid to finish writing a manuscript. I fell over her blog post when I read that. The manuscript under fear-filled discussion featured a one-armed ginger character. That story is now a book Kacey can hold in her over-perspiring fingers.
This blog isn’t about us. (I only nudged her. Kacey received sustained help from the late, lamented, Missy Biozarre.2) No. I’m writing this for the scribblers who want to be published and who are scared to go ahead.
Ditch the fear. Write your stories as though you are about to be hit by a bus. No, not in the middle of the road. Kacey had written four books, and felt she might nearly almost be ready to think about maybe considering the option of possibly – tentatively – perhapsing her way to contemplating the notion of writing to a publisher. Kinda-sorta on the 12th of Never, if that didn’t clash with a Leap Year and the Transit of Venus.
Write your stories as though you are about to be hit by a bus.
This is the Digital Age. You can publish your own work. True, you may wish to seek a paper deal. Or involve yourself in a hybrid operation that’s paper/digital. Doesn’t matter. The best tale written and stored in a digital drawer is a dim prospect. It is trounced, trumped, and trepanned by lesser tales of a published nature.
In Hollywoodland there’s a pointless list of the greatest movies never made. Pardon my yawning.3
What are you scared of? Reviews? Spam in your in-box? Disapproving looks from people who know you are a writer? Be scared of sudden unavoidable death leaving your work unpublished for eternity – because that’s a long fucking time.
Write your stories as though you are about to be hit by a bus.
Don’t care about what people may think of your unpublished work. Stop stopping yourself from publishing. You shouldn’t care what people think of your published work, come to that. Stop stopping yourself from writing more.
Start starting.
Write. Edit. Publish. Write more. There must be something in writing, alone, unpublished, unknown, that makes you feel good about the writing process itself. Go with that. Let it carry you through to publication.
Write your stories as though you are about to be hit by a bus.
You might feel you need help. Well, I just gave it ye. PUBLISH. Drain the interconnected network of information you’ll need to put a book out there. And do it. What will you require? A thimbleful of courage. No more.
When I bludgeoned that baby seal on the ice, and told her to publish, I was no guru. I’d published. That alone served as the bullet in my gun.

OBI-WAN OLD FOGEY: You must learn the ways of Formatting if you’re to come with me to Amazon.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: Amazon? I’m not going to Amazon. No. I have to coach Winterguard, run a shift at the hospital, put in an appearance for my family, and sob over my manuscripts.

OBI-WAN OLD FOGEY: That’s your fear talking.

My having published, though, was enough for those words of non-wisdom to get through to her. Kacey is published because she wanted to be a writer. She’s published because she was helped by Missy Biozarre – genuine scribblers are never rivals. Kacey is published because I bludgeoned her out on the ice and told her to publish…
Write your stories as though you are about to be hit by a bus.
She’s published because she accelerated plans from the 12th of Never to THIS DAY. Kacey is published because her husband (butler, delete as applicable) held her hand and boosted her confidence when she launched a query to an actual publishing company.4
Write your stories as though you are about to be hit by a bus.
Kacey is published because that publishing company said yes. She is published because she then said yes to the contract on offer. Kacey is published because she can write. She’s published for many reasons. Kacey is published because she ditched the fear. She’s published because a tale stored in a digital drawer gathers electronic dust and not readers. Kacey is published.
Is that enough? Of course not. Write more, Kacey. Scribble. Type. Make notes. Read. Write your stories as though you are about to be hit by a bus. Repetition is a great, I say great, weapon in a writer’s armoury.
Mind that bus. Clear out the digital drawer. Dust down that unsung manuscript. Burn the fear. There are worse things to be scared of. Being published? That’s not even on the scale that sits just beneath the scale marked below the scale.
This celebration of Kacey’s publishing achievement has nothing to do with anyone’s liking for or hatred of her work. Just as this celebration has nothing to do with anyone’s liking for or hatred of her singing-voice.
I published. Kacey Vanderkarr published. Why don’t you publish? Start now.

1 Mrs Vanderkarr is eight feet tall.
2 Tragically eaten by genetically-engineered zombies of her own devising.
3 Great movies that aren’t made aren’t movies.
4 INKSpell. This note is a gratuitous plug for Antithesis, by Kacey Vanderkarr.



  1. This totally explains where I got that eye injury!

    1. I accept no blame for damage to your eye - Lana does that in the next comment.

  2. That eye injury happened because you made my turkey on rye wrong.

    I'm so proud of you!

    And thanks for bludgeoning her!

    1. Remind me not to make any sandwiches for you, Lana.

  3. I have been chastised. I shall return to the kitchen in shame to think about what I've done.


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