Monthly Archives: July 2016

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

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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.

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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

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10 ways you can support this indie author & THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY

web-TheLotusandtheBarley-AnthonyStClairA quick favor for The Lotus and the Barley? By now, you’ve likely heard about my latest Rucksack Universe novel, The Lotus and the Barley. There’s good momentum building, but the more momentum the better for my books, especially this fourth installment in the series. It’s also an exciting time because this book comes out as I’m passing the 5-year milestone of being a full-time author and professional writer. Your support is part of what makes that possible.

Long post to follow, so here’s the too-long-didn’t-read (TL;DR) version. Please… tell someone about my books; or come to the July 15 Facebook launch; or come to the Aug. 25 community launch at Tsunami Books Eugene; or buy a copy; or request from your library; or read it with your book club; or review it online. Or all of the above. Buy links and book info: anthonystclair.com/lotus

About the book

This latest book is about two sisters who have to choose between their dreams and each other—and it’s about two enemies (Faddah Rucksack and the often-mentioned, now-to-be-introduced Guru Deep) who renew a bitter vendetta. Set in a rebuilt, post-Blast London, the story is also my most “beerpunk” yet. Readers are saying they love not only the characters (especially the sisters, plus some have said Guru Deep is a new favorite villain) and a few bits with some swords, but also all the insights into the process and poetry of brewing—and enjoying—fantastic beer.

How you can help

Are you willing to help this book? Here are 10 things you can do, some of them in 5 minutes or less, most of them for free. I’d be so grateful if you’d pick just one and let me know how I can return the favor.

1. Tell someone about the Rucksack Universe.

If you know someone who is interested in… travel… fantasy… beer… complicated fascinating characters… alternate worlds… themes of decision, destiny, transformation, and identity… then that’s someone who would really enjoy my books. Spread the word.

2. Come to the online book launch on Facebook on Friday, July 15.

I’ll be on Facebook all day, answering questions, doing live video chats, talking books and beer and travel and such, and offering 5-year-anniversary specials on the Rucksack Universe.
 Here’s the event page so you can put it on your calendar.

3. Come to the community book launch at Tsunami Books in Eugene on Aug. 25.

There’s absolutely no obligation to buy a copy of the book—we just want to pack the store with support for The Lotus and the Barley, as well as for my 3 fellow authors who are also launching new books:

  • Valerie Ihsan, The Scent of Apple Tea
  • Tanya J. Peterson, Twenty-Four Shadows
  • Gina Oschner, The Hidden Letters of Velta B.

Here’s the event page so you can put it on your calendar.

4. Purchase a copy of the book for a friend or loved one.

The book is available from any online or physical bookstore. You can also purchase e-books and signed paperbacks directly from me—e-books bought from my store include versions for all devices, and signed paperbacks are available only when buying direct.

5. Request a copy from your local library.

That goes for e-books too: nowadays many libraries lend both printed books and e-books. (You can also mention that Forever the Road was a top fantasy pick for 2015 in the American Library Association’s SELF-e program.)

6. Consider reading a Rucksack Universe title with your book club.

Each title in the series is interconnected yet stands alone, so it’s easy to try out one or many. Special book club discounts are available, as are discussion materials. I’m also available for online and in-person chats. If you’d like Rucksack Universe books for your club, just get in touch with me directly.

7. Keep an eye on my Facebook author page and new YouTube channel.

I’m realizing that some people probably think I just bake bread all day. Now that I’ve (finally) gotten a post-book launch, post-kitchen renovation haircut, I’m doing more online video to talk about The Lotus and the Barley, answer reader questions, as well as to discuss my work, why I use fantasy for my stories, and lots of other things that I think you’ll find worth watching and sharing. Keep an eye on my Facebook author page and new YouTube channel for more videos, and please send me your questions too.

8. Review it on Goodreads

If you read The Lotus and the Barley and like it, post a review on Goodreads at this link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30126014-the-lotus-and-the-barley and share on social media. Heck, feel free to post if you don’t like the novel. I can take it. 🙂

9. Or post a review at your favorite bookstore.

Bookstore websites let you post reviews, so please post a review to one of these: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, iBooks (or whichever is your favorite). Please share your review on social media too. Reviews sell books, and yours will help so much.

10. Follow my email list or social media for the latest Rucksack Universe news.

Sign up for my author email list, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter @anthonystclair.

Thank you for all your help. And please do let me know when I can return the favor!

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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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