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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?




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




What I’m doing now, August 2016

Me in a nutshell

I live in Eugene, Oregon, and have 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. And I love to cook.

This month I’m…

Going going going.

Coming up on 2 months since the launch of The Lotus and the Barley, it’s been a busier time than ever at my Author World HQ. Readers have been telling me it’s the best Rucksack Universe story yet, so that’s quite encouraging!

You can get the e-book or paperback today from anywhere that sells books. Here are some quick links: Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and more.

Any way you buy the book supports me, and I thank you for that—your support is part of what makes it possible for me to do the work I do. The best way to support me, though, is to buy your e-books and signed paperbacks from my author store. It’s also the only place to get bundles of all 4 books currently in the series.

Outlining Roadsong

What am I working on? Oh, ya know, just outlining the next #rucksackuniverse #adventure. #authorlife #indieauthor #wip

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

Now that The Lotus and the Barley is out, I’m working on the next book in the Rucksack Universe. Roadsong will be a prequel of sorts, a good entry point to people who want a more solid starting point in the series.

I’ve been working on different facets of outlining and planning, and here are a few things from behind the scenes:

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.

Part of my process is also coming up with about 20 words to sum up the journey for each main character. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  • A wanderer falls to a different world and goes on a quest to get back home—then something changes.
  • A fallen hero confronts his worst failure, but the challenges of the heart soon outweigh the dangers of a quest.
  • When the light of Ireland senses a growing shadow, she must prepare a fallen hero to face new challenges.
  • Find the key that will make the universe bleed.
  • The shadow covering the world will stop at nothing to realize a terrible purpose.

Bwah-ha-ha-ha.

Traveling & camping

The past few weeks have had lots of travels. At the end of July, my family and I visited friends in Portland and Seattle. The following weekend we went camping with some of our best friends (and we’re about to do a big group camping trip too).

Celebrating 5 years of being a full-time author and professional writer

And thank you for that. Readers. Editors. Fans. All of you make it possible for me to live a cool life doing what I love, and getting paid for it to boot. Thank you thank you thank you.

Writing about beer and more

To-date for 2016, I’ve filed 44 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:

Giving away books

In the midst of my 5-year business anniversary, I’m doing various giveaways and such. Here’s one going right now (thru Aug. 20):

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Martini of Destiny by Anthony St. Clair

The Martini of Destiny

by Anthony St. Clair

Giveaway ends August 20, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

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.

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




Night Attack and Scott Sigler praise the Rucksack Universe

One of my readers, known as Bishma in most spots online, got me and the Rucksack Universe a mention on Night Attack… while they were chatting with bestselling author Scott Sigler.

I gotta admit, I was terrified when I first pulled up this video… but here’s what they had to say:

“This is my sweet spot. If this gentleman can write multiple books in a series and you can jump into any book at any point in the series and not be confused or have to go back and re-read, that’s a pretty stellar accomplishment right there. That’s a ballsy choice. That’s impressive…. And an indie author with GOOD cover art? You ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie there.”

Wow. Thanks guys!

You can find Scott Sigler and his books here.

Want to check out Night Attack? Here’s their website and YouTube channel.

By the way

If you’re curious about my Rucksack Universe series, right now I’m celebrating 5 years of being a full-time author and professional writer. I just kicked off a Goodreads Giveaway of 5 copies of Forever the Road:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Forever the Road by Anthony St. Clair

Forever the Road

by Anthony St. Clair

Giveaway ends August 06, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway




5 lessons learned from 5 years as a full-time writer and author entrepreneur

Five years ago in June 2011, I gave up my job as a website editor at a national sales company to become a full-time professional writer and author entrepreneur.

This is the part where I should pop out the old chestnut that most small businesses in the US fail within the first five years.

But I’m still here.

I’m a full-time, self-employed author and professional writer. I write and publish both my own books, as well as articles for a range of print and online publications. I also structure my business and schedule so that I don’t work all the time, but am actively involved every day with my wife and our two small children. I work on our house. I cook (quite a bit, actually). I’m present in life, family, and work—and five years on, I’m still going strong and wake up each morning excited for a new day.

I know that you may be pondering your own journeys. Maybe there’s one you’re on, maybe there’s one you’re yearning to start. So I wanted to take a little time today to talk about 5 lessons my journey has taught me so far.

  1. Get started. Don’t quit.
  2. Big projects are actually lots of little projects added up.
  3. There is no muse. There is only process.
  4. Understand your options, make confident decisions, and follow through.
  5. Fear shows you crossroads, but love should pick the path.

1. Get started. Don’t quit.

When I started my old job in 2004, I was thinking that I could have the best of both worlds: a steady, decent income, and time on the side to write. You know what I didn’t do for seven years?

I didn’t write on the side. I put other things ahead of my writing. Writing kept being something I wanted to do instead of something I was doing. Finally, my wife and I realized that I needed to put up or shut up. I either had to write and publish stories, or I had to let it go and move on.

I chose to commit. Once I got started, I made one other important choice: I wouldn’t quit. I would keep making small steps and big steps, small decisions and big decisions, that kept moving me along where I wanted to go.

The key to a journey is to not only to start, but to keep going. There are difficulties, setbacks, and challenges. But if you keep at it, you will find little successes that keep adding up to bigger wins and better opportunities.

For me, I needed to take the big leap. I chose to go full time, but that’s not required. The important part is the commitment. Maybe it means writing a little every day, or finally sending in that manuscript, or refining your process (more on that in a bit). No matter what, it’s time to make a promise to your craft and stick with it.

2. Big projects are actually lots of little projects added up.

Whether it’s a 1,000-word article or a 100,000-word novel, a project can seem like a giant, impassable, impenetrable monolith. You stare at the bloody thing, but there’s no way through it, no way up it, and no way around it.

Until you look closely.

All writing projects are the sum of lots of little projects added up to the complete whole. Just as the human body is actually a mass of trillions of cells working together, any writing project is letters and ideas, words and paragraphs that add up to something bigger than their component parts, but which could not exist without those smaller parts working in concert.

All my writing projects get broken down into smaller steps. For an article, that’s usually first the research, second the interview, third outlining the piece, fourth writing a rough draft, and fifth revising to final draft and filing the story with my editor.

A novel is on a different scale, but the same principle holds true. Break down the novel into different smaller parts—preferably tied to some sense of word count, to give you some sort of concrete number to aim for. If you say you are going to sit down and write a book… you will wind up putting your head through the desk. But if you sit down with a goal of writing a book with 50 scenes of 1,500–2,500 words per scene (which adds us to a 75,000–125,000-word rough draft, by the way, not chump change by any means)? That is doable. You can wrap your head around that.

At least, with four books published over the last 5 years, that’s working out pretty well for me so far.

3. There is no muse. There is only process.

Anyone who asks me about writing doesn’t hear about the muse. They don’t hear about flashy spells of inspiration where I write furiously for days on end, followed by dry spells where I write nothing because, man, the muse just isn’t there, man.

Dude. I’m a parent. I’m running a business. The muse doesn’t change diapers, wash dishes, sit down at the keyboard, or meet deadlines. I do. Muses are mooches. They don’t earn their keep. I don’t write for a weekend and then do nothing for six months. I write at least a thousand words a day, six days a week. Editors like working with me not because I meet deadlines, but because I often file before deadlines.

So when people ask me about writing, they hear about process. Process is key to writing, and process is key to working toward and realizing your writing goals.

Process is how you get it done.

You’ll note that I have yet to mention my super-secret, one-size-fits-all magic pill silver bullet that cracks the code on all your writing dreams.

That’s because there isn’t any. If you want to believe there is, no offense, burn your notebooks and go do something else. You won’t be a writer. You’ll just be chasing crap that you’ve confused for gold. That search will have no end, because you’re seeking something that doesn’t exist.

There is no muse. There is only process. Every successful writer, trad or indie published, has worked out a process that works for them. So has anyone who completes projects in any field, from the arts to sales, manufacturing to real estate.

No process, no success. Know process, know success.

You’ll also note that I’m not telling you my process.

That’s because it won’t work for you. Just like your process won’t work for me.

No one’s process is a template that you can just plug in to your brain. Here’s the only thing that works: You have to figure it out for yourself.

How do you learn your process? By good ole trial and error. You can research, read articles, take courses, talk to people, yes, those are all good things that will inform your process. But ultimately you must apply that learning to your own writing, and you can’t let learning become an excuse that stops you writing. You will never know enough. You will only know enough to get you started—and if you want to finish, first you have to start.

But here’s the thing: you’re not taming tigers. Nothing is going to eat you because you wrote a crappy story. If you write that crappy story though, and figure out why it was crappy, then you can learn from it and do a better job on the next one.

The more you work at it, the more you will refine your process. It took my first two books to teach me my process. Four books in, I now have a solid idea of what works for me to get my writing done and to have a story that damn well sings on the page.

But as I start outlining my fifth book, I will still be refining my process. I will be on my fiftieth book too.

Start figuring out your process, and it will be like a treasure map to your goals. Follow your process, and you will get to where you want to go. You don’t need a muse. You just need your process. But hey, if it helps, call process a muse. Process won’t care, and you’ll get more done.

4. Understand your options, make confident decisions, and follow through.

This is the hardest thing to do… except for #5. But we’ll get to that.

Anyone who wants to make a big life change often hits what Steven Pressfield calls Resistance. This is not the Resistance of the kickass song by the band Muse. It’s not a group of revolutionaries. Resistance is the scared part of you that wants to preserve your current state of being at all costs, out of terrified concern that any change will destroy you.

Resistance, though, can be repurposed. That fear can become the energy that drives you. The key to making it as a writer, or pretty much anything, is very simple. It’s not easy. But it is simple:

Understand your options.

Make confident decisions.

Follow through.

Understanding your options means educating yourself. For example, do you want to publish through a traditional publisher, or do you set up your own publishing operation? Each option has positives and negatives. One option may be perfect for one project, but not the next. Learn about the options and how they apply to your situation, your dreams, your project. Know what you’re getting into, what the pitfalls are, what you give and gain.

Then decide. Indecision is the enemy of completion. Anyone who does anything has to make choices. Those choices will likely be flawed. You likely will be plagued by doubt. You still must choose.

And you must follow through. Following through means sticking to what you chose. But it also means learning. If you made a mistake, following through also means changing course, making amends, or using the mistake to springboard to a better decision.

My son is sometimes terrified of making mistakes. He’s a lot like me in that regard. And I tell him the same thing I keep telling myself: mistakes are opportunities to learn, but in order to learn, we first must choose, do, and keep at it.

Understand your options. Make confident decisions. Follow through.

5. Fear shows you crossroads, but love should pick the path.

We all know what it is to be afraid. I’ve been afraid many times, and I’ll be afraid many times more. And I’ll tell you a secret: I’m not afraid right now… I’m terrified.

Whenever I have felt trapped, or when I have felt overwhelmed, or when I have felt like I can’t make a decision, it has always been because I am at a crossroads. Fear usually shows me these crossroads—it’s very good at sniffing them out.

Over my five years so far as a full-time author and professional writer, I’ve been afraid lots of times. And like I said, I’m terrified right now. I’m working hard on improving my marketing. Talking more. Being more personal and open. I’m a very private, closed, quiet, prefer-to-listen-instead-of-talk kind of person. Being more open online scares the hell out of me.

But I’m doing it anyway.

Because here’s the thing: I have to. The next phase of my business’s growth depends on my being willing to improve how I do outreach and awareness for me and my work. My fear of this has shown me that I’m at a crossroads.

I can keep being afraid, and I’ll eke on, doing okay, but not really breaking out.

Or I can work past the fear, and skyrocket.

So here’s what I’m trying to do: Thank the fear for being there, for showing me this choice.

Then I will tell it to step back. That I’m in charge, and that we’ve got things to do. Because I love what I do, and because I can do better, if I am more open and trusting, then my business will grow. I will write more stories. I will sell more books. I will get where I want to go.

In every decision that has been worthwhile in my life so far, love has led the way. In every decision where I wish I’d made a better choice, fear did the choosing.

So now, even though I’m terrified, even though I have screenfright like some people have stagefright, I’m working through the fear and working on the fear. Yes, I’m at a crossroads.

Fear showed me the choice.

But love will do the choosing.

I know my choice. So I’m committing.

So I can keep going for another five years and beyond.

These past five years have been an amazing ride. I’ve written dozens of articles. Published four books. All while bringing two kids into the world. Thank you for being part of this journey. I can’t do this without your support. You’re part of the love that guides me. You’re part of why I do this.

I hope these lessons from my experience are helpful to whatever journey you’re on or wanting to take.

I can’t wait to see where you are in five years.

Let’s get to it.




What I’m doing now, July 2016

Me in a nutshell

I live in Eugene, Oregon, and have 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. And I love to cook.

This month I’m…

Celebrating.

Why? 3 main reasons:

1. New book is here!

web-TheLotusandtheBarley-AnthonyStClair

The Lotus and the Barley came out June 16, and so far response and reviews have been positive. Here’s a taste of what people are saying about this latest Rucksack Universe adventure:

  • “Strong female characters, strong story, intrigue, humor, and beer, what more could you ask for?”
  • “St Clair has built a universe that’s realistic and yet has provided just enough of that magical fantasy to take me away from the mundane world I know.”
  • “I instantly connected with the characters of Branwen and Zara. I hope there are going to be more stories with the sisters. I loved the book and am totally blown away.”

You can get the e-book or paperback today from anywhere that sells books. Here are some quick links: Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and more.

Any way you buy the book supports me, and I thank you for that—your support is part of what makes it possible for me to do the work I do. The best way to support me, though, is to buy your e-books and signed paperbacks from my author store. It’s also the only place to get bundles of all 4 books currently in the series.

2. 5 years in business

Thank you for 5 years

July marks 5 years in business for me. I can hardly believe it. When I resigned from my old job in 2011, I knew the road ahead would be both amazing and challenging—and it certainly has been. In the US, we often hear that most small businesses fail during the first 5 years. I’m so happy to be here, and be growing.

So, thank you for my first 5 years. I couldn’t do this without you, and every day I work hard and am so, so grateful for the work and life I have.

3. New kitchen!

You know something that’s fun to do after you launch a book? You know, something that takes your mind off all the stress and work of a book release?

Redoing your kitchen.

My wife and I use our kitchen a lot. We’ve been in our home for a little over 10 years, but other than a spot of paint and new appliances, we haven’t done much to the kitchen. This year we decided to fully repaint, put in a new counter and sink, and do some other sprucing up. We’re most of the way through it, and it’s been quite a project. We’ve pushed ourselves, learned lots, and done some pretty darn cool work. If I could move my office to the kitchen, I just might… Hmmm…

In other news

I’ll be doing another update with some additional items soon. There’s also been lots of articles and other content, plus a few other projects I’m working on—especially a marketing campaign for my books. Later this month my wife and I are taking the kids on a wee road trip to Portland and Seattle—lots of friends to catch up with.

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.

Reading 5 books:

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




5 years

5

5 years. 5 years ago in 2011—and after lots of husband-and-wife planning and deliberating—I resigned from my old job and became a full-time author and professional writer.

I’ve now been in business for myself for 5 years.

I’ve published 4 books and dozens of articles, as well as helped various organizations with their content goals. And in the midst of this, I still get to spend lots of time with my kids, wife, and kitchen.

All this is due in no small part to you—so THANK YOU for reading and talking about my books, sharing my articles, being clients, and being part of this journey.

Here’s to the next 5 years… because the thing is, I’m just getting started.

P.S.: Stay tuned… In July, after the US Independence Day holiday weekend, I’ve got some special celebration discounts and giveaways for you 🙂




The old man: the final sneak peek of THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY

The Lotus and the Barley, a Rucksack Universe travel fantasy novel by Anthony St. ClairToday is the final sneak peek of THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY! I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride—and remember, we’re only a few days away from the release of the fourth Rucksack Universe adventure…

THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY comes out June 16. Preorder today from:

Buy now from Amazon.com

Get it on iBooks

Buy now from Kobo

The book will also be available in trade paperback. Through June 11, you can enter for a chance to win 1 of 10 signed copies! (US only)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Lotus and the Barley by Anthony St. Clair

The Lotus and the Barley

by Anthony St. Clair

Giveaway ends June 11, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY

Sneak Peek: The old man

THE OLD MAN HADN’T noticed the man in black before, but if he had, he didn’t know what he could’ve done differently. Picking at loose threads on his ragged gray coveralls, he drank the rest of his sample and stared at the man in black while making sure he couldn’t be seen.

The man in black drank the women’s homebrew as if it were GPS itself.

Staring down at his empty cup, Gabsir Abrigs hated to admit it, but it damn near was.

It was missing one thing though—only he didn’t know what. Not even the brewmaster knew anymore.

Before he could look away, the smaller of the two women, the quiet one, caught his eye. Before the man in black could turn around and see him too, the old man left the pub.

He had to get back to First Call. It was infuriating enough that Faddah Rucksack was back in London and sure to meddle. The brewmaster would be angry too—angrier even than about having to hear about the Malt and Hops sisters again. But he really needed to change his mind and try some of their homebrew.

Want more?

Pre-order THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY e-book from:

Buy now from Amazon.com

Get it on iBooks

Buy now from Kobo

Enter the Goodreads Giveaway from a chance to win 1 of 10 signed paperbacks (US only):

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Lotus and the Barley by Anthony St. Clair

The Lotus and the Barley

by Anthony St. Clair

Giveaway ends June 11, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway




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
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