Sam Burns

Seeing the Bright Side of Romance & Fantasy

Category: Life

tl; dr: Take Care of Yourself

I’m one of those annoying authors who doesn’t believe in the concept of writer’s block.

Yes, sometimes I struggle to write.

Often, that’s the black dog hounding my tail. If it’s depression, it takes time to run its course. I sit around and read a lot of books—or if it’s really bad, I don’t read a lot of books.

Sometimes I struggle because there’s something wrong with the book I’m trying to write. If it’s that, I need to figure out what the problem is. Usually, it’s me trying to push square pegs into round holes. Sometimes the plot I envision just isn’t what my characters would do, and I need to accept that and replan to suit them.

So when I sat down to write the last book in the Rowan Harbor Cycle, Wren and Oak, and the words refused to come, I presumed it was one of those two issues. But instead of taking to my kindle and reading books, I spent a lot of days sitting there staring at a blank document, wondering why the words wouldn’t come.

It wasn’t my plot, I was sure. I’d spent eight books setting this up. I knew what needed to happen, and just how Fletcher would react to it.

And yet, my daily word counts had gone from thousands one month, to only occasionally positive numbers the next. It’s convention planning, I told myself. Then the convention itself. Then vacation planning. Then vacation.

Suddenly two months had gone by, and I didn’t have a book.

This is probably when I’d have usually started to despair about how I was never going to write again, and other such melodrama. Instead, I realized, I hadn’t eaten in two days. I’d lost fourteen pounds in the last week, in fact.

As it turns out, I started a different medication right before I started working on Wren and Oak, and because I was so busy, and traveling all the time, I didn’t realize that I was, in fact, poisoning myself. It turns out my body was not a fan of the medication in question, and was slowly shutting down.

I went off it, and two weeks later had a finished manuscript.

What was the purpose of this ridiculous plot twist?

I mean, other than that it’s a true story and proves that fictional plot twists have nothing on real life, there’s this: sometimes we all neglect ourselves in the daily rush to get everything done. I know if we don’t get things done, everything falls apart. Rents need paid, after all, and electric and grocery bills. But if you ignore your body’s warnings that something is wrong, you won’t be able to get everything done from a hospital bed.

Also, if we met or started speaking between September and mid-November, I apologize for anything and everything I said or did.

Asexual Awareness Week

Hey guys, it’s Asexual Awareness Week again, and I thought I’d link the blog article I wrote on the subject last year:

Asexual Awareness Week: Guest Post by Sam Burns

It’s been incredibly important and powerful for me to have a community of people who support aces. Thank you all!

Brand New Year, Same Old Sam

Hey, guys!

It seems almost compulsory to write a New Year post, either to recap one’s accomplishments from the year passing, or to talk about goals in the coming year. I figured… who am I to buck the trend?

Last year was a big one for me: I finally got my degree, wrote six novels and published four of them, starting what I firmly believe is going to be the last career I’ll ever have. It’s the only one I ever wanted, after all.

I don’t know how anyone else feels, but I have high hopes for 2018. My first book of the year, Blackbird in the Reeds, is coming out on the 4th of January, and the second in its series is already in edits. I hope to release the entire series this year, as well as a few other projects I’ve been working on, and maybe even one that’s still just a series of related ideas.

2017 was bad in the ways I expected, and incredible in ways I didn’t foresee. I’ve made a few friends I think are in it for the long haul, and a few changes in my life that are going to help me keep writing for years to come. I’ve had successes I didn’t expect, and learned from my failures when they happened. All I can hope is that this year will be even better.

I am going to write so many books this year, you guys. So many books. And it’s going to be the most fun yet.

School’s Out Forever…

This author is finally, finally finished with her bachelor’s degree.

Yes, I’m much closer to 40 than 22. It’s late for anyone to be graduating college, and sometimes I feel incredibly self-conscious about the fact that both my AA and my bachelor’s were earned after the age of 30.  But you know what? I did it.

I went back to college in my late 20s, and finally, over many years working half time and sometimes even less, I finished school. I won’t be applying to any MFA programs, and I certainly don’t want a doctorate in English, so this is it for me.

I’d say this is dedicated to the stepfather who told me I’d never make anything of myself, but it’s not. It’s dedicated to Mr. Burns, who has supported me through everything, despite his misgivings about the insane cost of college today. In the end, he knew it was something I had to do for myself. And you know what? It’s totally dedicated to me. You finally did it, nerd.

Life’s Too Short For Bad Books

When I was sixteen, I prided myself on finishing every single book I picked up to read. It didn’t matter how bad it was, or how much I hated it, if I started it, I was going to finish it. That melodramatic Victor Hugo epic Les Miserables? Every. Last. Word.

In my twenties, a few started slipping through the cracks. I blame it on schoolbooks. There was no way I was going to read the C++ manual front to back. I might have died of boredom.

My twenties saw me finally abandon some fiction, too. The first I remember was Twilight. I tried, you guys, I really did. I got all the way to the last one. Then there was that whole pedophilia thing, and I just… couldn’t. I ran screaming in the opposite direction and never finished the book. That particular hardcover is the single book in my house that gets no respect whatsoever. Which is to say that we use it as a doorstop.

In my thirties, there have been things like the abusive BDSM series that everyone knows. I think that one was my breaking point.

That was when I realized that when I finished a bad book, I didn’t feel accomplished. I felt annoyed, or ripped-off, or outright angry. And it wasn’t like I didn’t see it coming. I can usually tell in the first few chapters whether a book is going to work for me or not. So why am I wasting my precious reading time on things I hate? So that I can be angry and go leave nasty reviews on the work of authors who spent time and effort on those works I hate? I hope not. That’s not the me I want to be.

tl;dr: I have embraced the DNF. Life’s too short for bad fiction. If I decide at any point that the book is going to get a bad review from me, I’m putting it down.

The Ubiquitous Pride Post

Coming up on my local Pride day, I feel like I should make a post about it.

Politics and drama about who is and isn’t queer aside, I’m just going to keep this simple: Happy Pride, guys.

If you’re any member of the community, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer, intersex, asexual, or aromantic, I hope you have a happy Pride, and I do hope you are proud. We should all be proud of who and what we are.

My Ration of Anxiety

I know that every author has been through this moment.

Everything is done. The files are ready and waiting. All that’s left is the actual upload and release. As of next Monday, I will become a published author.

Yeah, yeah, it’s ‘only’ self publishing. Whatever. The point is that I’m putting my first novel out there to be judged and rated, but hopefully mostly enjoyed.

Every author I know has admitted to being nervous about putting their first book out for sale, and right now, nervous doesn’t really cover where I am. I’m going to spend my time between now and Monday wondering if this is actually a terrible idea. Then, I’m probably going to keep wondering that.

But I’ve dreamed of becoming a published author since I was a little kid, and at this point, nothing is going to stop me from pressing that button, short of being hit by a bus.

That’s it, I’m not leaving the house till Monday.

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