Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Writer's Block

A question that comes up from time to time is "How do you deal with writer's block" or some variation like "Is writer's block real?"

Writer's block is a very real phenomenon. It is basically writing to the end of your conscious stream for a story, and it can be very daunting and frustrating to overcome. I have set on a particular writing project for months trying to figure out where to go next.

So how do you deal with it? How do you as the Doors would say "Break on through to the other side?"

The best advice I have come upon regarding combating writer's block, is from Ernest Hemingway. His advice to a young apprentice, Arnold Samuelson as quoted in Samuelson's book, With Hemingway: A Year in Key West.

"The most important thing I’ve learned about writing is never write too much at a time… Never pump yourself dry. Leave a little for the next day. The main thing is to know when to stop. Don’t wait till you’ve written yourself out. When you’re still going good and you come to an interesting place and you know what’s going to happen next, that’s the time to stop. Then leave it alone and don’t think about it; let your subconscious mind do the work.

The next morning, when you’ve had a good sleep and you’re feeling fresh, rewrite what you wrote the day before. When you come to the interesting place and you know what is going to happen next, go on from there and stop at another high point of interest. That way, when you get through, your stuff is full of interesting places and when you write a novel you never get stuck and you make it interesting as you go along. "

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Coffee Giveaway

I'm giving away a $10 Starbucks gift card. Sign up before midnight May 18, 2020.

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Shaken Awake: The Complete Trilogy - Behind the Story

On Tuesday, January 7, 2014, I walked into my office on the 5th floor of Colony Square (14th and Peachtree ST, Atlanta). I sipped the tall blonde coffee that I had grabbed at the Starbucks at the base of the building and read the headlines on the Atlanta Journal Constitution app on my phone. I was shocked to read that a a 70-year-old homeless man, Charlie Perkins, was been found dead just a few blocks from where I was sitting. He had frozen to death sleeping on the street. The news rattled my soul. I looked out the window of my office at all the high rise apartment and office buildings a strong contrast of wealth and the poverty of the homeless just below them.

I thought about the man in the army coat and thick military issued black framed glasses that I had just spoken to in the Starbucks as I did every morning. A man who I recognized was homeless. I thought about the older homeless woman who sat in the food court just outside the folding gate to Chick-Fil-A waiting for it to open. I thought about the white haired and white bearded man with the huge backpack that usually sat one table over from her quietly waiting for breakfast.

My work day proceeded on, but my thoughts continued to return to the shocking news that someone had frozen to death a few blocks outside my office and the city carried on as normal. It was surreal.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 started as just another cold windy day in the city. When I went downstairs for lunch, I sat in Chick-Fil-A and noticed it had started snowing - not the slow, light snow Atlanta was accustomed to seeing. It was falling fast and quickly accumulating. You can read my entire account of the winter storm written two days after the events here: Atlanta Snowapocolypse

After the storm, I began writing Shaken Awake, the first of three stories which would eventually lead to the trilogy. Once I started writing the story just flowed. I found myself grabbing my phone and jotting notes at lunch or when waiting in line somewhere. In 2013, my wife and I had launched a nonprofit performing food rescue, and we had been working with partner agencies that provided food to struggling individuals and families. That experience coupled with our experience meeting families while volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and my personal interactions with the homeless I encountered in and around Colony Square provided me with a great deal of insight into the struggles of the homeless.

Not long after Shaken Awake had been published, I began receiving feedback that it ended too abruptly, and it didn't show how the church responded to the community after the storm. Honestly, I had intentionally written an abrupt ending as an invitation for the reader to write themselves into the book and write their own ending. This recurring sentiment did not seem to fade away. So kinda like Steve Goodman after receiving David Alan Coe's feedback, I wrote Awakened as a sequel to resolve Shaken Awake for the reader. I had followed the ministry of Alan Graham and Mobile Loaves and Fishes in Austin, Texas which operates food trucks providing meals, socks, and blankets to the homeless in their city. And I had followed their work constructing Community First! I got a copy of Alan's book Welcome Homeless: One Man's Journey of Discovering the Meaning of Home,and fell in love with the story of how community was changing the lives of homeless in Austin. I then read Under The Overpass by Mike Yankoski and Not Just a One Night Stand by John Flowers and Karen Vannoy.

After Awakened was published, my good friend, Bill Barton began a relentless campaign that he wanted to see the how the characters that moved into the community found themselves a role in serving others. After his continual nudging, I volunteered with a service learning organization to take a group of college students to Community First! for a week. I volunteered in the community during that week and listened to the stories of everyone I met. I chatted with Alan Graham and asked questions. I listened to staff members and volunteers detailing how they created a community that provides healing and restoration.

After the trip to Austin, I wrote Woke! as the third and final story in the trilogy. During the editing phase, I developed a strong sense that none of the books really stood on their own individual merit, but needed each other to be complete. I made the decision not to release Woke! as a single book, but to instead release the complete trilogy under one cover.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Overcoming the Naysayers

When I was working on my undergraduate degree, I wrote someone a thank you note. They asked a college friend if I had ever passed a composition class. That comment has remained with me for more than 25 years - etched in my brain. I struggled thru college and graduated. I have since completed a graduate degree and published a book. I write this not to garner sympathy, but as a word of encouragement. Don't let the naysayers hold you back from pursuing your dreams. Whatever you want to do, do it. Don't listen to the detractors saying you can't. Pursue it with reckless abandon. You CAN do it. Press on for the prize.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Book Launch Invitation!

Hey Y'all,

I’ve got some pretty exciting news: It’s almost time for my next book to be released! It’s called Shaken Awake - The Complete Trilogy, and it releases on April 30, 2020. My publisher, Charm House Publishing, and I want to invite you to join the launch team!

Shaken Awake - The Complete Trilogy is three books in one. Shaken Awake, Awakened, and Woke! Chances are you have read Shaken Awake and Awakened and have been patiently waiting for a conclusion to the series. This is the entire story start to finish!

The Shaken Awake Launch Team will be a fun and personalized group with only so many spots available, so apply now. Details are listed below:

      A chance to read the book before anyone else does.  All eligible team members will receive an Advanced Abbreviated Reader digital copy of the book.
      Access to the private Facebook group
      Interact with me personally through Facebook Live chats and other fun things happening inside the Facebook group
      Exclusive chances to win some prizes
      Guidance every step of the way with suggested posts, content, and memes to share

      READ & SHARE about the book on your social media channels, with your IRL friends, book club, etc…
      REVIEW the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and GoodReads
      PARTICIPATE in the private Facebook group – tell me how the book impacts you personally, join in on exclusive Facebook Live Chats, etc.

            **the application will close at midnight on March 22, 2020 or whenever the team is full

Thanks so much, my friend. I can’t wait to share this book with you. I hope you’ll join me in spreading the word!

-   Allen