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Ask Paul J. Joseph a question

Paul J. Joseph

Paul J. Joseph

Science Fiction
      • pjoseph 28 days AuthorAuthor
      • I would like my work to be recognized. I'd like more readers to share my work with and perhaps a movie deal or two. I am comfortable with what I have accomplished so far, but would like to be known in science fiction circles at least.
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    • allauthor 28 days CurrentAllauthor
    • How do you think concepts such as Kindle, and e-books have changed the present or future of reading?
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      • pjoseph 28 days AuthorAuthor
      • E-books have created a wonderful new avenue for writers. Simply put, e-books literally remove almost all the production cost from publishing! Books can be distributed and shared without the cost of so much as a piece of paper! This can also allow one to own a vast library of books without
        needing so much as a bookshelf!

        Now here's the downside. Without production costs, publishers, who once acted as "filters" for the written word, can be bypassed entirely. This means that anybody, talented or not, can publish any kind of book and make it available in a growing ocean of self-published work. This ultimately reduces the author to the role of beggar, hoping to find any readers of any kind to write reviews in order to stand out. This often leads to free books, which wind up downloaded to kindles and never read.

        In short, e-books are a new development in literature and we're still only beginning to understand where it will fit. I would recommend that writers offer their work in every possible format, including e-book and audio. Each has strengths that can be put to good use.
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    • allauthor 28 daysAllauthor
    • Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
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      • pjoseph 28 days AuthorAuthor
      • Always, but not in the obvious sense. I tend to write symbolically. Science fiction lends itself to that. I've described significant moments in my life as happenings on alien worlds, for example. Arguments and conflicts in the real world can be acted out as wars and plagues elsewhere.

        I've also looked to my memory for great settings and used conversations I've overheard for examples of great dialog. To some extent we all write about what we know.
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    • allauthor 28 daysAllauthor
    • Have you ever experienced "Writer's Block"? Any tips you would like to share to overcome it?
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      • pjoseph 28 days AuthorAuthor
      • I can't speak for everyone, but I've always thought of writer's block as an indication that this might not be the best time to write. I'll be honest and say that I have no idea where ideas come from, but at least in my case they can't be forced. I would much rather make time to ride the wave when it comes than waste time tugging myself along when there's nothing there. I will say that if you can write one line of dialogue, another may follow. If the process needs jump starting, that's what I'd suggest.
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    • allauthor 28 daysAllauthor
    • Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?
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      • pjoseph 28 days AuthorAuthor
      • Enjoy it! Yes, you, as the writer, are also your first reader. More than that, you are seeing the story from the inside! Yes, it can be emotionally draining, but this is a rare jewel that only a writer can truly know. Only the writer gets to experience every word, understand every reference, and know even more about the characters than appears on the page. It becomes an addiction. I've cried while writing, busted out laughing, and felt the fear of my characters. Savor it! But, of course, step away when you need to. Honestly I feel like I am living more than one life when I'm creating. The hard part is giving it up and being "normal."
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    • allauthor 28 daysAllauthor
    • Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
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      • pjoseph 28 days AuthorAuthor
      • I love reading reviews of my work and am grateful for every one! Naturally I would prefer good reviews to bad ones, but both can be instructive. I like to read reviews that indicate that the reader actually read the story and appreciated it. If the reader just seems in "awe" of my work that doesn't tell me much. On the other hand, if somebody has an axe to grind and I've somehow touched on something that they don't like, that doesn't mean that there is a problem with my work. I do take criticism seriously, and may well act on it. If somebody would prefer to read romance while I write science fiction, that cannot be helped. Other than I am pretty open minded.
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      • pjoseph 28 days AuthorAuthor
      • To be fair, there are many types of success. I would say that if I, as a writer, am happy with my work I am successful. If others like it, even better. Naturally, it would be even better if I earned great advances and enjoyed record sales, but that alone is not success. As a self-published writer, any feedback from my audience is a good indicator that I'm on the right track.
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    • allauthor 28 daysAllauthor
    • If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
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      • pjoseph 28 days AuthorAuthor
      • The classic answer would either be to tell myself to not bother writing or to offer some "secret" I discovered in hindsight. The truth is I did everything I could with what I had to work with and I wouldn't give up what I've created for the world. Some of my books I couldn't write now, but they were what was given to me then. It's been a fun ride and it's not over yet.
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      • pjoseph 28 days AuthorAuthor
      • This is a hard question to answer because the publishing industry has become far more complicated with the addition of self-publishing and other schemes. To understand the "evils" of publishing, one must first see it from their point of view.

        Simply put, there are too many writers with too many manuscripts, many of which are not well written. It is impossible for every story to get a fair hearing. Literary agents were created to act as a filter for the massive flood of paper, but even they can't possibly read them all.

        No, I don't blame the industry for not being able to properly evaluate all the work they receive. I don't even blame them for the massive number of fire walls that are placed between the decision makers and the writers.

        What I do object to is the entire sub-industry that is based on taking money from aspiring writers for bogus services or "advice" that turns out to be remarkably generic. There are always book review services, book doctors, and self publishing services that make grand promises without ever reading the author's work. This is not to say that nobody can offer such services to authors, but it should be honest. We need editors, formatters, and marketing specialists, but these should be based on a quality product delivered, not something on the horizon that never comes. Empty promises don't work and they don't help.

        Being an author is hard enough. We have to wear a number of hats. We all want to succeed and get our work out. We don't need vultures picking at our flesh while we're doing it.
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    • allauthor 28 daysAllauthor
    • Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?
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    • allauthor 28 daysAllauthor
    • What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
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      • pjoseph 28 days AuthorAuthor
      • Good writing must start with original ideas. In my opinion good writing must break new ground, which is not always easy. This is not to say that you can't write about familiar topics or situations, but something about every story must be unique, at least from the author's point of view. The story should also grow organically from the characters and the conflict established from the beginning.

        In addition, the writing itself must provide the reader with a comfortable view of the action. Good writers should create scenes based all five senses and dialog that sounds realistic. The author should put the audience in the position of the characters, which includes good description of scenery and the right amount of action.

        Finally, the work should be quality. A good writer is a craftsperson delivering polished work. Word economy and placement matter, and the author should develop an instinct for what reads easily.

        Good writing depends on creating stories, telling them well, and learning how to craft words. All the rest is experience and time.
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    • allauthor 28 daysAllauthor
    • What inspired you to start writing? How long have you been writing?
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      • pjoseph 28 days AuthorAuthor
      • I can't really remember a time when I didn't want to write. Stories were my escape, whether books, movies, or in any other form. Science fiction interested me from an early age and I filled journals with story scenes while in highschool. In college I studied television and film, but always intended to write a novel series. My first serious attempt at this goal started in my third year of teaching. At a temporary job in the midwest I began writing one chapter per night one summer until I had discovered the writing process. That was over twenty years and ten books later. All told I've been writing for close to thirty years.
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