Daddy, why are you a writer?

Notebook and blue pen

This morning my 5-year-old son came into the office, looked at my computer screen, and asked, “Daddy, why are you a writer?”

I thought about it for a moment. It’s something I haven’t considered in a long time, up there with why my eyes are the color they are or why I live in Oregon or why we breathe. But I took Connor’s question seriously, because I always take my children seriously. A child’s question is an opportunity to refresh and examine your beliefs and understandings. My kids keep me honest, they keep me assessing, and they help me disrupt myself.

The difference between breathing and atmosphere

But back to Connor’s question: why am I a writer? The gist is simple, I explained to my son. I’ve known since I was 12 that I would work with words. It’s so much a part of me now , that I don’t think about it. If I do think about it, I have to take mental backsteps.

It’s like when you think about the atmosphere. Sure, we all know that we breathe, and we know that we are surrounded by air. But when you stop to think about it, it’s a pretty crazy fact and you need a moment to process it. Connor’s been going through that himself lately, telling us how every time we move, we displace air and create wind, and talking about how the atmosphere is all around us.

As with so many things though, the gist is simple yet incomplete. When I talk to my kids, I try to get to the heart of something, the how and why. For my thinking, I try to find the most truthful explanation that balances being comprehensive with being comprehensible. I believe that life’s great truths are things a 5-year-old can understand—and that adults then constantly struggle to remember.

About the words but not about the words

“When I was becoming a teenager, I realized that words were really important to who I was,” I answered my son. “But I came to understand it wasn’t about the words necessarily, it was about how I could use the words to express thoughts, feelings, and concepts. I came to understand that I was capable of expressing things that other people felt or thought, but they had a hard time putting their thoughts or feelings into words. I could though, and that meant that I was capable of expressing what others wanted to say.”

He nodded, we had a little cuddle, and then he went back to his room to play.

But it got me thinking some more.

Why am I writer?

The real answer

It’s a little like asking why I have arms. As much as I believe in nurture and free will and self-determination, I also believe deeply that some aspects of us are wired in, we just mainly determine how we do or don’t apply those various parts of ourselves.

I’m a writer because I get language. Not necessarily in a grammatical sense—I understand grammar, I have an English degree, but I’m no more going to wax authoritative about grammar than breathing Earth’s atmosphere means I have a comprehensive understanding of the laws of chemistry and physics as it relates to elements in a gaseous state.

I write because I under that language is the process through which we translate the infinite into the temporal and the temporal into the infinite. Language is how we express the heart and explain the mind.

This is not as elementary as it sounds. Ever notice how certain you can be of how you think or feel about something, and then go to actually try to convey it into words?

Yup. It can be hard as hell.

It’s hard as hell for me—and I do this for a living.

I’m a writer because voice is who I am. There have been many years where I’d forgotten that. Or maybe I ran away from it, got scared and tried to abandon a sort of calling.

Many times over the years I’ve been pretty scared of this part of myself. After all, what if I express the wrong thing? What if there are bad consequences? For many years, I’ve erred on the side of saying nothing at all. But not anymore.

I’m not just a writer. I’m a teller, an explainer, a letter painter, an understander, a sharer.

I’m a writer because that is how I can be one with the heart of the world, the soul of us all, and turn it into something that we can understand in our day-to-day lives.

I’m a writer because it’s a decent way to make a living.

I’m a writer because someone needs to be.

I’m a writer because it’s who I am, and it is the only honest truest expression of who I am and what I am on this world, in this life to do.

That’s why I’m a writer.

Now I’m finishing up at this, and I’m thinking of my articulate daughter and my inquisitive son. I’m thinking of how I hope that what I live, what I try to live, is what they will see and connect with too: that just as their mother and I strive to live our most honest truest selves, that we hope that one day, as they come to understand, they will too.

It just happened that for me, it’s being a writer. But for my kids, it’s an example.




New Guidebook Shows the Real Independent Scotland

Rucksack Universe - New Guidebook Shows the Real Independent Scotland - BS Trotter

A FREE Rucksack Universe Short Story

Rucksack Universe Short Stories are available for free at anthonystclair.com. They may or may not be canonical, and may or may not be as polished as other stories. Enjoy.

Like what you see here? Visit the Rucksack Universe for available books in the ongoing series.

Originally published in London Rising.
From The Lost & Found Travels of BS Trotter

Scotland has been a favorite travel destination for years, and you’ll soon find, Constant Companion, that Guru Deep’s new Scotland Through the Third Eye guidebook will be a favorite for your backpack or suitcase. The timing couldn’t be better: 75 years ago this month, the signing of the Treaty of Stirling restored Scotland’s independence as a sovereign nation in a post-Blast world.

Scotland is a country of hard history yet enduring romance. The rolling hills of the Highlands. The lush Lowlands. The otherworldliness of the narrow yet boundless islands. Two powerhouse cities, Edinburgh and Glasgow, each pull you in its own way. There is so much to see that it can be overwhelming. Luckily, for any traveler hitting the road, there is nothing like a good guide to help you on your way.

Through the Third Eye guidebooks have become common sights with travelers over the years. This latest installment is an excellent reminder why the series has become essential to anyone from backpackers to business travelers. Available beginning this Tuesday (prepping for weekend adventures, anyone?), Deep’s Scotland is 300 pages of witty, concise, informative, encouraging travel information. At its core, an adventurous heart will have you swooning for everything from a taste of whisky in the Highlands and a romp through Edinburgh and Glasgow, to a boat ride to the Isle of Skye and a reflective moment in Stirling Castle, where the Treaty of Stirling was signed.

“Scotland is one of the most fascinating countries and cultures in the world,” says Guru Deep. “With the anniversary of independence approaching, it was time to put out the definitive guide to a country of such deep history and geographical variety.”

Deep’s singular style also accompanies you like a travel companion. Beginning with an introduction that lays out Scottish history and gives an overview of modern Scotland, the book’s organization is similar to other Through the Third Eye titles. After the introduction, a general planning guide addresses logistics such as getting there, transportation, money matters, passport and visa particulars, and other details. From there the book is organized by region: Lowlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Highlands, and Islands. Within each section, further breakdowns by region or city are included, along with well-organized chapters that cover accommodation, food and drink, top destinations, popular itineraries, and more.

Of particular note is the guidebook’s extensive history of Scotland, especially its details of Scottish independence. After The Blast, with the British Empire failing in the wake of London burning, Scotland (along with Ireland and India) was able to gain its independence through a bloodless revolution. Deep takes us beyond the history books, showing us the story behind the story that is as enthralling as a good novel. Post-Blast independence movements have been lauded as miracles. For the first time we delve deeply into the figures—and legends—that took Scotland from being part of a United Kingdom, to becoming the driving force that transformed the island of Britain into three separate countries: England, Scotland, and Wales.

“Independence movements seem like mandates only in hindsight,” Deep writes. “Scotland’s independence was not a foregone conclusion. It was a modern miracle: a confluence of circumstance, a triumph of negotiation over violence, and a legend of a singular figure who rose from the void and led a people and a country to a new vision of themselves.”

Reception among the travel community has been positive overall. Travelers have noted the ease of use that Through the Third Eye guidebooks consider a hallmark. “There is so much here that I never knew about Scotland,” says a traveler who gave his name only as Jay. “I could spend a lifetime there and still not see everything.”

Other travelers noted the quality of maps and photographs, always a friend to the traveler. There are enough photos to pique your wanderlust. The maps, especially of urban areas, are rendered with the best detail and accuracy in the industry.

Deep and his army of guidebook-writing travelers have gone over every inch of Scotland, meeting fascinating figures throughout its rural areas, villages, and cities. Never before has a guidebook on this fascinating place delved so deeply, especially into areas such as the islands, from the Shetlands and Orkneys in the north, to Inner and Outer Hebrides, such as Islay and even distant St. Kilda. You’ll see cities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Inverness in a new light. Even if you’ve been to them before, you’ll be ready to go again and experience them as if for the first time.

Legend also accompanies fact, such as tales of a mysterious leatherworker on the Isle of Lewis. Does he exist? Is his genius real? Can you pay for his wares with a dead polecat you found on the side of the road? Does he, in fact, control the fate of Scotland?

Scotland has changed much since its days in the British Empire, and Scotland Through the Third Eye bravely shows this ancient, fascinating country in the detail and respect Scotland deserves. The care taken with detail is exquisite. The writing is evocative and inspiring. And you, dear traveler, might as well pick up your copy and then immediately buy a ticket to get you there as soon as possible.

“We set out in the Third Eye books to give travelers the world over a way to feel like they were in a place, even if they weren’t there yet,” explains Guru Deep. “Once they had arrived, we wanted them to feel like we were wandering together. Our new Scotland adventure is a culmination of research and on-the-ground exploration. We get to know the real Scotland, and the real people and history who make this place what it is. Scotland remains one of my favorite destinations, and this guidebook is not only the newest in the series, it is also the fulfillment of a personal quest. I have gotten to explore Scotland the way I have always wanted to explore Scotland—and now I hope you do too.”

Rucksack UniverseThe Rucksack Universe Series

The Rucksack Universe is Anthony St. Clair’s ongoing series of myth, adventure, beer, and globetrotting intrigue.




What to do when your kids ask you to join their dance party

“Daddy!” asked my 5yo and 2yo, “will you join our dance party?”

I’d been in the midst of a big morning, writing, revising, and filing an article, while also moving pieces for some upcoming assignments. I’d planned the week, checked the finances, and all this after, I confess, having stayed up a tad too late with Jodie while we watched most of Star Wars: Rogue One.

But when your kids ask you to join their dance party, there’s only one answer.

Yes.

Now excuse me, I need to dance, jump on it.




The circle: Why bend genre when you can break it?

Image: Stiller Beobachter https://flic.kr/p/og2Waz

The circle

We were all supposed to make noise and move around in whatever direction we wanted.

It was the last activity for an acting workshop I was attending in college, put on by a theater troupe who later would perform Shakespeare (Twelfth Night, if memory serves). Through the course of the afternoon we’d gone through various improv, blocking, and dialogue techniques. Now, in this last activity, we would just wander and react.

It was quite fun. At first, everyone was all over the place. People moved about, dodging and bumping into each other. There would be brief exchanges of words, some nonsensical, some with depth. There was a good bit of laughter.

Eventually, though, the most curious thing happened. Two people began moving in a similar direction. Then a couple more joined them. Then more and more.

Eventually, every person in the workshop was walking in a counterclockwise circle in the middle of the room, going around and around and around together.

Except for one person.

I was still wandering my own way—and had wound up in the middle of this stream of people. Only problem was, I was walking in the opposite direction as everyone else. I still wanted to move my own way. I still wanted to go in my direction. It just happened to be different from what everyone else was doing.

As soon as I could, I got out of the circle and kept doing my own thing.

I guess some things never change.

Don’t bend genre

I think about that afternoon a lot—how it felt to be doing something different from everyone else, and wondering why I was the only one. I think about it as a parent too, since early observations indicate my son and daughter will be walking their own directions too.

But I also think about it a lot as an author. Specifically, when I think about genre and book categories.

You know. You look online or go into a bookstore, and everything is categorized all prettily for you. There’s the romance and the horror, the fantasy and the westerns. Everything is tidied into stacks or web categories. You can whittle things down finer too. There’s sweet romance and paranormal romance, epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and even things more granular which I won’t even get to.

Then there’s poor buggers like me.

Thing is, so far my books don’t fit any tidy genre categories. The Rucksack Universe is categorized under fantasy. But just as Neil Gaiman has said, more or less, that he doesn’t necessarily see his books as fantasy but concedes they have to be put on the shelf somewhere, I figure that fantasy is about as good a fit as I’m likely to find.

But that doesn’t mean I play by the rules.

My books aren’t what come to mind when you think fantasy. If you envision swords and sorcery, wizards and kings, vampires and werewolves, and lots of scantily clad helpless women who need rescuing, well, you won’t find that in my stories. That makes it a challenge to attract readers and help them see that the Rucksack Universe is something they want to take a chance on.

Break it

The other day, Library Journal and their SELF-e program asked me for an author interview. It was a really cool bit of Q&A (should be out next month). I keep thinking about my answer to one question in particular.

They asked what I wished I had known about self-publishing when I was getting into this.

I thought and thought about that. Then it hit me.

Genre.

I wish I had understood how hard it was going to be to categorize my books, and what impact that would have on how I appeal to potential readers. I’ve been a full-time, self-employed, independent writer and author since 2011, with books on the market since 2013. Yet in all that time, genre continues to bust my balls.

Now I understand why. It’s ridiculously simple, of course. Been staring me in the face all this time. Hell, not even that. It’s part of my DNA.

I don’t fit the box. I don’t tidy nicely into the category. I don’t walk in the circle or the same direction as the circle.

My stories are different. Thing is, the people who come to them, tell me that’s what they like. They like that they’re unlike other stories.

I appreciate the validation, and I’m going to keep on keepin on with my oddball stories of travelers, beer, and living and breathing legends myths. But how do I appeal to new readers and bring them to the series? When someone is browsing, say, the fantasy category, they may already have a set of genre expectations—but I get to turn those expectations on their head. It’s what I’ve always done. It’s who I am and who I choose to be. Expecting X from a story? Here’s a heaping of A with a pint of B—and you’re going to have a feckin good time.

After all, why bend genre when you can break it?

Appealing to new readers has been a challenge because I’ve been walking the same direction in the circle with everyone else.

Now I’ve stepped out.

Image: Stiller Beobachter




Behind the recent silence

Plum tree with spring blossoms

Plum tree with spring blossoms. In Japan, the spring blooming of plum and cherry trees signal a time of change, renewal, and beginning. I’ve been putting that to work for me and my writing too.

You might not have noticed. After all, you have so much going on yourself. But you’re here now, for whatever reasons are yours. Curiosity. Wondering. Concern. Maybe even a dash of hope.

I’ve been quiet for a while. I’ve fallen off with my emails to readers of late, and I have been fairly silent on social media. I haven’t been blogging much either. That’s the visible part of what I do, outside the office, outside my head. Inside… Well, inside, it’s been rather busy.

Over the last few months I’ve written tens of thousands of words. Some of it not visible yet, such as blog posts, Rucksack Universe short fiction, and Roadsong. And some it very visible, such as articles for publications I write for and content for clients.

I haven’t been saying much outside of all that for a couple of reasons. I’ve been more focused, honestly, on just taking care of the business, and doing some growth and strategy checks. I’ve also been trying to figure something out. Something in me that isn’t right.

I’m scared, you see. Always have been. Scared of you. And scared of me.

I’m scared because I’ve always had a certain fear of people. What they’ll think of me and what I do. What they’ll think of what I write. Or, far worse, that they’ll think nothing of it, because the stories will fail to touch them. A story that fails to touch someone is a story that doesn’t matter.

I’ve been working hard on writing things that matter. Some will matter to you. Some won’t. Some will matter to others. But I want them to matter to someone, so I start with making sure that what I write matters to me. That’s my baseline. A story, a post, has to at least matter to me—then there’s a decent chance it might matter to someone else too. So these last few months, I’ve been upping my game, pushing myself. Writing and writing and writing. I’ve snuck words every chance I can. Even on nights when it’s my turn to put my 2-year-old daughter to bed, I sit next to her as she goes to sleep, an iPad on my lap, tapping away on a Bluetooth keyboard.

Now it’s been time to change gears again. I don’t need to prove to myself or to anybody else that I can produce. I can do that. I can hit deadlines and word counts.

I need to prove to myself that I can publish more. Short stories. Books. Articles. You name it. I have so much work just… sitting here. Not doing anything. That’s a waste, and it’s ridiculous. So what I’ve been working on is why things are like this, and how to do something about it.

Things are like this because I’m scared of putting work into the world that isn’t perfect by my standards. Trouble is, perfect has been getting in the way of the published. So I’ve been working on improving my process, so that I can have a comfort point with writing, doing a bit of polish, and then just getting stuff out into the world. My main job right now is not just to write, but to release. I want more stories out there. Folks like you like my stories, but there aren’t enough yet—neither of stories or readers. The more stories, the more reading goodness for you, and the more to attract others who are interested in these stories too.

I’m taking some time now to write less, revise more, and publish the stuff I’ve been working on lately. To get more stories out into the world, in whatever way is best. There will be more Rucksack stories coming to my website, for example. Many short stories in the Rucksack Universe, I’ll post here, for free. These stories may be flawed, and they may also have the occasional typo, but I’ll still be writing and polishing to a good standard before I post them. (Some stories I’ll later gather into paid collections for e-books and such, and those stories will receive more rigorous editing at that point.)

Some stories I’ll be putting out into short story markets for paid publication. I’m also working on getting better about my process for letting you know where else you can find my fiction and non-fiction writing, so that will be improving here too.

It’ll also be improving on Facebook and my email list. I’ll be posting more to those too. I’m also rejiggering my social media presences right now. I’m going to focus on Facebook and email—in part because they’re challenging for me, but also because they’re the most relevant to where folks want to hear from me. Other networks, I’ll occasionally post too, but they’re just not as much my thing right now.

So that’s why I’ve been silent recently. Not because I’ve run out of things to say—but because, honestly, I’m about to start saying more than ever.




What I’m doing now, January 2017

Writer, wonderer, wanderer: Me in a nutshell

I’ve been a full-time self-employed professional writer since 2011. I’m the author of 4 travel fantasy books in my Rucksack Universe series. I write about craft beer, food, business, and other topics that fascinate me and fascinate others. I help other people with their online content and marketing. Outside of my home office, I spend lots of time with my wife, son, and daughter, in lovely Eugene, Oregon, in the US Pacific Northwest. And I love to cook.

January

Happy New Year! May you have an amazing 2017 full of love and joy #2017 #newyear #sayonara2016

A photo posted by Anthony St. Clair (@rucksackpress) on

  • The waiting
  • Articles & projects
  • A journey underway
  • A milestone of zero
  • Tech talk

Coming into 2017, there has been a lot of snot.

How I wish I hadn’t needed to write that.

But I did. ‘Tis the truth and all that. My wee family and I came through the end of the year with both kids catching sinus colds and (luckily) mild cases of pink eye. Then my wife and I caught them too.

Yup. Pink eye. At the age of 39, it’s like I was 10 again. Suddenly I had an urge to lie on the couch, watch Silverhawks and Transformers, and eat and drink nothing but apple sauce and ginger ale.

We’re all getting better though. The kids are better. The cold hit my wife harder than it hit me, so there have been some tricky weeks of getting back into my work groove while also taking extra care of my wife, son, and daughter. But we’ve managed. We’ve got each other, and we’re still getting stuff done.

So, I’ll take that as a decent start to the year.

This month I’m…

Waiting

2017 has also been ready… set… wait.

On Dec. 31, I finished writing the rough draft of Roadsong. Despite the holidays, two birthdays, and a holiday visit from my in-laws, December wound up being my most productive writing month of the year. It was the first and only month in 2016 that I cracked 50,000 words written for the month:

 

Totals Days with writing

# of words

# of minutes

Avg. words/day

January

24

25,675

538

1,070

February

19

20,891

409

1,100

March

12

12,239

178

1,020

April

25

28,170

835

1,127

May

26

37,461

1,014

1,441

June

25

31,985

703

1,279

July

20

32,279

779

1,614

August

25

37,597

830

1,504

September

18

33,117

998

1,840

October

26

40,132

1,182

1,544

November

26

35,814

1,167

1,377

December

27

52,357

1,413

1,939

All

273

387,717

10,046

1,405

# of hours

Avg.words/hour

167

2,776

Roadsong has been a lot of fun to write, and overall I’m pretty happy with this first full draft. Now the manuscript goes into its waiting period. Like Stephen King, I believe in writing a draft, then tucking it away and putting it out of my mind for a few weeks. The file is waiting for me, and it knows that I’m not thinking much about it right now. A little bit, sure—there are times where I’ve written down some notes on things I think need improving—but overall I’ve focused my January on other things for the year. Come February, I’ll start reviewing and revising so I can get the manuscript ready for my Chief Reader, Beta Readers, and copy editor. I’d like to have Roadsong out this year, but we’ll see how things go in revision.

Writing about beer and more

In 2016, I filed/published 64 articles. Pretty sure that’s my most to-date.

I wonder what 2017 will look like. So far it’s had me hitting the ground running with deadlines on articles and other projects. I’ve been finishing up a few things at the start of the year, oddly enough, so that I can start some new things too. It’s been pretty exciting, and it also reminds me that this year there are more markets that I want to explore and get into.

Here are a few recently published pieces and publications:

A journey underway

2017 also has me thinking about a particular journey, one both for my writing, and one for myself. After 5 years in business, I’m starting to realize some of my goals. Others have a long way to go. One of them is simply being more open. That’s always been hard for me. By life circumstance and by nature, I’ve always erred on being a very private person.

However, I’m realizing that I’ve hit a point in my life and in my career where that is holding me back from greater success. It’s scary as hell, but I’m trying to figure out how I can, well, be more open and approachable.

Part of that is a cool wee program called One Little Word. Run by Ali Edwards, One Little Word brings together people all over the world who, for one year, each pick a particular word that has meaning to their lives. We do different tasks and creations and such based on that word, and the year-long class takes each of us on a journey through different parts of our lives, our pains, our dreams and hopes. Jodie and I did this last year too, and it was a big help for us—it’s helped our finances, it’s helped us communicate better, and it’s helped us with goals and projects, such as us redoing our kitchen last summer.

As you might have already guessed, my word for 2017 is OPEN.

I’m exploring what that means to me—and why it means something to me. I’m looking at how I can be more open with myself, with my readers and customers, with my friends and family. I spent much of my life believing that silence was my best defense. Lately I’ve been realizing that I’ve overused it. I was made as something who can express—yet too often I’ve not done that.

So it’s time to make a change. Month by month, word by word, bit by bit, that’s exactly what I’m going to be doing.

In addition to One Little Word, Roadsong also got me thinking about a particular book that I needed to come back to.

Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey has been a big influence on me. I hadn’t read it in years, and recently picked up a copy of the third edition. Vogler uses Joseph Campbell’s work on mythology and the hero’s journey to talk with writers about effective and meaningful ways not only of telling a story, but of connecting with readers and connecting readers with themselves. In parallel, I also see reviewing the hero’s journey not only as something that will make Roadsong a stronger book, but that I can also apply the hero’s journey to myself. It will help me learn and grow, help me challenge myself, so that I am a better writer, a better person, husband, dad, businessperson.

A milestone of zero

It’s not too often that people talk about their milestones as reaching zero.

But that’s exactly what I reached on Dec. 23, 2016.

See, I’ve been in business for over five years now, and over some of that I had taken on some debt in the business. For 2016 I had set a goal of paying off that debt by Dec. 31, 2016.

It wasn’t easy. I skimped and worked and threw pretty much every penny I could at my business debt.

But I got there. On Dec. 23, I sent my last payment and soon saw that my business credit card had a zero balance.

Mission accomplished.

Now I’m looking ahead not at what I need to pay off, but at how I can invest more in my business, pay myself more personally, and further grow my business as an author, writer, and overall creator. It’s an exciting time, and while it may not seem as glamorous as, say, hitting a bestseller list, it means one hell of a lot to me that my business is in the black.

Tech talk

Now that my business is in the black, I’m also looking at one of my goals for 2016: replacing my 2008 MacBook. It’s been an excellent computer—hell, it’s even running El Capitan, and it’s nearly 9 years old! But it’s high time I got a new machine.

It’s been quite a quandary though. I started looking at options last year, and the day I wrote this, I went down to my local Simply Mac to talk with the folks there and get my hands on some different machines.

Why is that such a hard choice? Because I’m kicking around 2 options:

  1. Buy a 13” MacBook, and go big in options to future-proof my purchase. That would give me one simple device, and is similar to the setup I’m already used to.
  2. Buy a 21.5” iMac and a 9.7” iPad Air or iPad Pro. That would give me both power, lots of storage, and plenty of oomph for my work, while I’d also gain easy portability.

I’m still kicking around my options (and would appreciate any insight you might have). Cost is a factor of course, but so is making sure I’m meeting my business needs. I’ll be making my choice in the next couple of months.

The year is off to a good and interesting start. I’m hopeful things keep improving—and that how my family and I handled our initial wee health challenges indicates how we’ll handle the rest of the year.

Now to get back to work.

Yoga once a week and walking over 10,000 steps (about 4–5 miles) each day. The kids also love doing yoga with Dad. I also got some new yoga videos for my birthday, and now that my sinuses aren’t splitting I’m going to tuck in to them.

Always intrigued by other people’s stories, so feel free to email me: writer@anthonystclair.com

I typically update what I’m doing NOW about once a month, more if merited. Most recent update: Jan. 16, 2017.

What else have I been up to?




CyberMonday sale

CyberMonday Sale on Rucksack Universe book bundles

This year, give them the universe… the Rucksack Universe!

Through Dec. 4, e-book bundles and signed paperback bundles are on sale through my author store. Each bundle includes all 4 Rucksack Universe books:

E-book Bundle, $5
(list price, $15.99)

Signed Paperback Bundle, $29.99 + FREE shipping*
(list price, $49.99)

Happy Holidays!

* Free shipping applies to free standard shipping in the contiguous US only



What I’m doing now, November 2016

Me in a nutshell

I’ve been a full-time self-employed professional writer for 5 years. I’m the author of 4 travel fantasy books in my Rucksack Universe series. I write about craft beer. I help other people with their online content and marketing. Outside of my home office, I spend lots of time with my wife, son, and daughter, in lovely Eugene, Oregon, in the US Pacific Northwest. And I love to cook.

November

Has been such an incredible month. I’m looking forward to this week’s Thanksgiving holiday in the US. I’m also looking forward to my daughter’s second birthday. My kids and wife are so much of why I do what I do. I’m so thankful they are in my life, and that I can have a career where I can spend as much time with them as possible.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re up to this week, I hope that your world is well and that you have much to be thankful for.

This month I’m…

Trying on hats.

My wife can tell you that for ages now I have had a thing about trying to find a good hat. Despite having lived in the Pacific NorthWET for 16 years, I cannot get used to wearing a hood. Hoods cut off my peripheral vision, and it drives me batty.

Now, I do have some excellent woolly caps, hand-knitted by my beloved. But I needed a hat that I could wear at other times of the year.

Enter serendipity. I was helping some friends recently, and during a few spare minutes we swung through a secondhand shop, Value Village, in Springfield. And what do I find, at the back of the store? A hat. That fits me. For $5.

Author still life: hat, Moleskine, pens, pint @sambondsbrewing

A photo posted by Anthony St. Clair (@rucksackpress) on

There you go.

My wife likes it, so that’s pretty much job done there. And I’m… I’m quite digging having a hat. It brings out something noir in me.

Raising a glass of Shake Your Tree wild ale with peaches. Excellent bottle party, @alesongbrewing!

A photo posted by Anthony St. Clair (@rucksackpress) on

November has been packed with writing, especially coming off October. In fact, at 40,132 words, October was my biggest writing month of the year. I worked on various articles and stories, including the 3 prequels I’m writing that will be part of Roadsong, the next Rucksack Universe book. I also wrote and filed 3 articles, sent various queries, and did advance work on articles that due in November.

All told, in October I wrote 40,132 words over 26 days, an average of 1,544 words per day. So far for November, as of Nov. 21 I’ve written 26,079 words over 18 days, an average of 1,449 words per day. I write six days a week, taking either Saturday or Sunday off.

Retooling

As 2016 starts coming to a close, there are lots of things I’m looking at for my writing business. For 2017, I have a big goal of increasing book sales. I don’t sell a whole lot of books at this point, and I’ve been trying to work on that.

There are lots of marketing things, for example, that I haven’t found enjoyable, so I haven’t been doing them. I’m figuring out what I like to do that also works for the business, and I’m starting to dial it in. There are some big changes afoot in 2017.

I’ve also got some other projects in the works.

Writing about beer and more

To-date for 2016, I’ve filed 61 articles, and just about all of those are already published (a few are over the next couple of months). Here are some recent published articles:

Yoga once a week and walking over 10,000 steps (about 4–5 miles) each day. The kids also love doing yoga with Dad.

Always intrigued by other people’s stories, so feel free to email me: writer@anthonystclair.com




Rob Widmer & McMenamins: 2 new craft beer articles

Thirsty for news about Oregon’s craft beer industry? Check out these 2 new articles by me in the October 2016 issue of the Oregon Beer Growler (more in the print and digital edition too):

Brewing Review and Outlook With Rob Widmer – Oregon Beer Growler

The Track for Craft Runs Through McMenamins – Oregon Beer Growler




What I’m doing now, September & October 2016

Me in a nutshell

I’ve been a full-time self-employed professional writer for 5 years. I’m the author of 4 travel fantasy books in my Rucksack Universe series. I write about craft beer. I help other people with their online content and marketing. Outside of my home office, I spend lots of time with my wife, son, and daughter, in lovely Eugene, Oregon, in the US Pacific Northwest. And I love to cook.

This month I’m…

Glad to be home.

My 22mo daughter Aster was a flower girl at my sister-in-law's recent wedding. I've now walked my daughter down the aisle for the first time.

My 22mo daughter Aster was a flower girl at my sister-in-law’s recent wedding. I’ve now walked my daughter down the aisle for the first time.

September was a month of intense deadlines, story work, and travel here at Author World HQ:

  • Finished outlining the next Rucksack Universe book, a prequel called Roadsong.
  • Outlined 3 short stories that will be prequels for the prequel book—in other words, each short story ends right where Roadsong begins. Each prequel features one of the main characters in Roadsong. I’m going to be making these stories available for free as I finish each one.
  • Drafted the first of the stories, which focuses around Faddah Rucksack—and specifically an adventure he was on before The Blast
  • Wrote and filed 7 articles

All told, in September I wrote 33,117 words over 18 days, an average of 1,840 words per day. That’s my highest per-day average for the year and my second-highest number of words per month for the year. Not bad, given that then my family and I went out of town for 10 days.

The wedding

My in-laws live in Colorado, and my sister-in-law was getting married. My wife, two kids and I flew out to Colorado Springs for a few days of beer from Bristol Brewing, rides and spring water from Manitou Springs, and wedding prep. Lots of wedding prep.

From there we drove 4 hours west, into the mountains, to the wee town of Crested Butte, where the wedding was going to be. Fall is a beautiful time to be in western Colorado. The mountains may have some dustings of snow, and the aspens are golden—oh, the aspens—aspens in the fall are possibly the prettiest trees in the world:

Me and my wife in Gothic National Park near Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado

Me and my wife in Gothic National Park near Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado

It was a busy few days. My sister-in-law and now-brother-in-law had opted for a DIY wedding, and family and friends rallied to lend a hand. My main job was food prep—we had packed our kitchen knives, and I’m so glad I had my own steel on hand to thinly slice 16 English-style cucumbers, plus a few gallons of other vegetables.

The wedding was beautiful, and I’m so happy for my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. The kids did brilliantly at the wedding, and it was a bittersweet farewell when we packed up to head to Denver for the flight home.

Events

Home from 11–3: Author’s Fair at Crescent Park Senior Living #Eugene #IndieAuthors #Bookfair

A photo posted by Anthony St. Clair (@rucksackpress) on

In September I also did a couple of author events. I’m looking at my experiences there to figure out some more things I can do with online video. I get told over and over that I should be doing more video, and I’m figuring out how I want to get rolling. More on that soon.

In the meantime, I’m always down with events, and please get in touch with an event I should know about.

This month

October will have a few articles to write, and I’m nailing down some of those assignments. My main priorities will be drafting and editing the 3 Roadsong prequel stories, so I can get those out to you. Roadsong will be digging deeper into the Rucksack Universe than we’ve ever gone before, and these stories will give some exclusive perspective and adventure on the things that lead right up to the start of what’s going to be the most ambitious Rucksack Universe book so far.

From there, I’ll be working on Roadsong itself. The book is outlined and planned, and now it’s time to get on the writing. I’m looking to have Roadsong out in 2017.

Roadsong in one line

A wounded hero wakes. A wanderer falls between worlds. A growing shadow will cover all in darkness.

Ominous enough fer ya?

Current summary

Follow the black road.

From the west coast of Ireland to England’s Black Cliffs of Dover, the mile-wide line of ash is known as the black road. In the hundred years since The Blast scarred the world, none have traveled this road… until now. A wounded hero, a wanderer who fell between worlds, and a mysterious sage undertake a quest: for home, for purpose, for a light to stop the shadow covering the world. Pursued by a hunter of strange souls, the trio must overcome many trials—and their own mistakes—if they are to find answers to their questions… and if they are to survive the unwelcome surprise that also awaits at the end of the road.

Writing about beer and more

To-date for 2016, I’ve filed 53 articles, and just about all of those are already published (a few are over the next couple of months). Here are some recent published articles:

Yoga once a week and walking over 10,000 steps (about 5 miles) each day, aiming for 13,000-15,000 steps (up to about 7 miles) at least a couple of days each week. My 4yo son is also now really good at riding a big-kid bike, so I regularly put my daughter in a toddler seat on my bike so we can all 3 go riding around the neighborhood.

Always intrigued by other people’s stories, so feel free to email me: writer@anthonystclair.com




Hi.

Anthony St. Clair - Travel Fantasy Author / Craft Beer Writer / Business Copywriter
Author and copywriter Anthony St. Clair has specialized in online content since 2000, blogged since 2004 and is the author of the Rucksack Universe travel fantasy series.

FREE Sample

Check out this free sample of FOREVER THE ROAD

Anthony's third book, FOREVER THE ROAD, is a Best Books 2015 Fantasy pick from Library Journal's SELF-e, and a 2015 Oregon Book Award nominee.

Download your free sample to find out why Nth Degree's reviewer said this "high-stakes story, told with wit and compassion," left him "completely gobsmacked."

Rucksack Universe

Travel fantasy tales
of wit, adventure & beer

Forever the Road by Anthony St. Clair, a Rucksack Universe Fantasy Novel - learn more and buy now

Home Sweet Road by Anthony St. Clair, a Rucksack Universe Fantasy Novella - learn more and buy now

The Martini of Destiny by Anthony St. Clair, a Rucksack Universe Fantasy Novella - learn more and buy now

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