<![CDATA[A. L. GOULDEN - author - Blunt Blog]]>Fri, 05 May 2017 09:27:07 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Who Do You Work For?]]>Fri, 05 May 2017 14:00:00 GMThttp://author-algoulden.com/blunt-blog/who-do-you-work-for
Even if you work for the largest company in the world, who are you really working for? Are you punching a clock to feed your kids? Are you showing up to fulfill the career you chose when you were twenty? Are you collecting hours in a retirement bank that you hope is enough for the path you're on? Who are you working to please or win over now? And if it's only for yourself, is there an imbalance in that?  
My father would answer, "I do what I do because that's what I do." As I get older that reasoning isn't working for me. I don't want to work this hard and feel like I can't give a better answer than him. 

I'm not lazy. And I'm very good at what I do. For most people, that challenge would be more than enough. At it's core, I still love what I do. I just find that the reasons I had to drive down this path have changed. And I'm okay with it, even when others look at me funny. If I'm not
pursuing the passions that mean the most to me, what's the point? Counting the days until I get a pension is the most depressing thought in my mind. Yet, believe it or not, even in the film business there are people who do just that. I'm in a unique profession that awards with unique perks like meals and excellent healthcare, but it's not the end-all be-all that I thought it would be when I dreamt of it. So now what? What do we do when we hit this new fork in the road?
I imagined this new path, barely visible under the forest's growth. It has sharp pebbles and tricky vines that can trip a newcomer. It has muddy patches and thick walls of the unknown blocking a clear view. It's dark and damp in the unknown. No wonder people look back and remember that old path fondly. The one you spent years marching down. The one you cleared of obstacles and could probably take with your eyes closed. You can remember how that path smells and feel the rut in the dirt that fits your shoes. That old path isn't scary. It runs smooth and tilts to a comforting decline. It had good money. It has good benefits. Established power and authority. Comfort. All of these are great reasons to turn back... but how will you ever find out what's down the new path if you don't clear it? Eventually you'll kick all rocks aside, and clear the way for a new ease. It may be uphill at first, but running downhill all the time is bad for your knees.

​My tax accountant said. "Everyone quits their career at least once. But they usually return."

Plenty of people change careers or have more than one at a time. For those restless spirits out there like myself we find other avenues to drive down. I've always been a restless creature when it comes to settling in one thing. One niche. I'm working for me. And I'm not a one niche kind of gal. So I choose to write. And design. And paint. And build. And grow in all directions.

<![CDATA[Improving On Improvement]]>Wed, 21 Sep 2016 15:00:00 GMThttp://author-algoulden.com/blunt-blog/improving-on-improvementPicture
"You can not make a spoon that's better than a spoon" - Umberto Eco

Eco's profound ideas about books and writing as an extension of the hand make me wish I were a sponge. His words make me thirsty. He described writing as "almost biological in it's evolution. It is the communication tool most closely linked to the body. Once invented, it could never be given up… Our modern inventions — cinema, radio, Internet — are not biological." 

​Stories and storytelling are within us all as humans. We communicate and express ourselves through story to connect with our emotions and purposes. We use story to ask questions or defend beliefs. Man has been telling stories for as long as we've existed. And because of that, he invented the portable way to transport these stories easily from one place to another. Man created a mobile item that can be hugged, torn, borrowed, and sold... and it is perfect. So the idea that books, whether they be in paper or on digital devices, cannot ever be improved, can be daunting.

For me this concept is not discouraging. It presents a challenge to me as an author to strive for. I don't try to create something "new", I try to create something worthy. Stories worthy of the greatness of the book itself. In that effort, I work towards an
unimprovable story within me. I have not found it yet... but I do love challenges.

"One of two things will happen: either the book will continue to be the medium for reading, or its replacement will resemble what the book has always been, even before the invention of the printing press. Alterations of the book-as-object have modified neither its function nor its grammar for more than 500 years. The book is like the spoon, scissors, the hammer, the wheel. Once invented, it cannot be improved. You cannot make a spoon that is better than a spoon. When designers try to improve something like the corkscrew, their success is very limited; most of their “improvements” don’t even work. Philippe Starck attempted an innovative lemon-squeezer; his version was very handsome, but it lets the pits through. The book has been thoroughly tested, and it’s very hard to see how it could be improved on for its current purposes. Perhaps it will evolve in terms of components; perhaps the pages will no longer be made of paper. But it will still be the same thing."​ - Umberto Echo

Grab a copy of A.L. Goulden's latest release, Chasing Swells
Amazon - https://goo.gl/c2r0ob
Barnes & Noble - http://goo.gl/NkIuLV
iTunes - https://goo.gl/FfpMxr
Kobo - https://goo.gl/3KYEeD

Add the companion novella, Chasing Dreams on your To-Read shelf, too.

Amazon - https://goo.gl/ShNcxj
Barnes & Noble - ​http://goo.gl/VM2ESH​
iTunes - https://goo.gl/Rndr1M
Kobo - ​https://goo.gl/wwr9ha
<![CDATA[Tips For Better Internetting]]>Tue, 13 Sep 2016 14:30:00 GMThttp://author-algoulden.com/blunt-blog/tips-for-better-internettingTips to prove you understand how to use the internet with respect. Picture
  • Don't hit 'reply all' to an email unless you have a really good reason. 
  • Breathe three times before you hit send. You can't take it back once that email is out there.
  • Don't type in all caps. Shouting with text is never helpful.
  • Don't buy anything on the phone (or by email) from a stranger for anything having to do with your small business, your computer, your Google listing or a charity. Just hang up.
  • Everything you click on, surf on, or do online is being recorded somewhere. Keep it in mind.
  • Backup your data. Even if nothing bad has ever happened. You'll be so thankful when it does.

  • When in doubt, restart your computer. If that doesn't work, visit duckduckgo and type in your question. You'll be amazed at how many people have had the problem you're having.
  • To become an expert in something, you're going to need to read more than the first link that comes up in a search. And before you forward something you're not an expert in, check Snopes.
  • Offer help on something you're good at to the community at least three times before you ask that community for help. Make your mark count.
  • Don't believe everything you read online. In fact, don't believe most of it.
<![CDATA[Less Is More - Tablets Replacing The Laptop]]>Wed, 07 Sep 2016 14:30:00 GMThttp://author-algoulden.com/blunt-blog/less-is-more-tablets-replacing-the-laptopPicture
I'm searching for less. Not more. Less weight. Less stress. I traveled to Europe twice this year and discovered how wonderful it is to not carry my laptop. I'll admit that I'm annoyed by the slight inconveniences of it's "bulk". Hassled by removing it at security. Weighed down by the heavy AC adapter. And the wear and tear of travel puts the valuable computer at risk of even getting there with it in tact at all. I find myself constantly babying the backpack or case it's stowed in to ensure it's not banged around or smashed. It seems the portable laptop device that was once the must have is now, like most technology, becoming obsolete for it's original purpose. Of course we need laptops and continue to use them, but they're replacing desktop towers and finding more permanent nests in our offices. This transition means the portable information recording device is now the tablet. 

Since the invention of the iPad, users were predicting tablets would replace the laptop, but for professional writers and designers, the tablet and its programs were still too light on memory or speed to be able to function as the central instrument. But now with tablets like the Surface and advances in the software available for Android and iPad, we can write and design graphics anywhere on these smaller devices. I sync up a small keyboard to my Samsung Galaxy and the whole world is at my fingertips. My only wish is that Scrivener will make their software available for portable devices, but in the meantime, using Word to write is an acceptable compromise. I'd rather have creative freedom and less weight on my back.

<![CDATA[August Fog 2nd Edition Giveaway!]]>Wed, 31 Aug 2016 14:00:00 GMThttp://author-algoulden.com/blunt-blog/august-fog-2nd-edition-giveaway
Take a chance and ENTER to WIN the 1st SIGNED copy of the 2nd Edition release of August Fog.

"I will be counting down the days, hours, and minutes until the next book comes out. A.L. Goulden may have just written my all-time favorite series." - Cheryl for Readers Favorites
Monica Waters is reluctantly passing through her thirties in a damaged marriage to the love of her life, Alex. Her body is broken. Her job as a television editor isn't stable. Her daily routine is beyond dull. And her sad sex life is all of the above. So when an artist named Quinn Matthews moves in next door, all of the fire she's learned to suppress flares an obsession into a scalding and dangerously secret relationship. Quinn invigorates her lust for art, flesh and a life she hasn't been living, and forces her to make the most difficult decision of her life. Will she clench to her commitment and history with Alex or be swept away by the life and lust she used to dream about with Quinn?

31 days to choose between the love of her life and her soulmate.
<![CDATA[August Fog 2nd Edition]]>Sat, 27 Aug 2016 07:00:00 GMThttp://author-algoulden.com/blunt-blog/august-fog-2nd-edition
Fire & Ice Books interviewed me on a number of subject, including the newly released 2nd Edition of August Fog. Don't miss it!!

What about your favorite character or characters? Which characters from your books do you think readers will really feel a connection to?
It’s so hard to pick one character when you spend so much time with them. I think the one I’ve had the deepest love for would be Quinn Matthews from my August Fog series. I think readers relate to the females I write, especially Monica Waters from the August Fog series. She’s a bit lost in life, but doesn’t realize she’s on the wrong path until she’s faced with a huge moral dilemma. I like characters with flaws, big ones, that you can still root for as they overcome life’s hurdles.
Catch more of this interview at
Fire and Ice Book Promos
<![CDATA[Don't Polish Turds]]>Fri, 26 Aug 2016 14:30:00 GMThttp://author-algoulden.com/blunt-blog/dont-polish-turds
Don't try to tell me that crap is more than just crap. If I spend three days writing junk and only end up weeding out one paragraph that works in my final manuscript, I've wasted time, energy, and words.  I'm not saying that everything I write the first time will be "It" or free of editing, nor do I have illusions that that's possible, but I do disagree with just about everyone that cranking out drivel is part of the writing process. Don't let the shit that bubbles out easiest fool you into thinking your impressive word count means anything. In fact, it's quite possible that it's going to be harder to sculpt your story when you're already out of original words and lost in a see of blather that doesn't resemble the original reason you started the story in the first place. 
Take the harder route. Work out the difficult stuff on purpose. Spend the extra time to understand the who, what, why, where, and how of your story. Don't let your characters speak nonsense just to get those quotation marks on a page. In the end, when you have your path mapped out and you're on your way, the words that flow will service your intended story. Those words will work for you. They'll earn their place in your fiction. And maybe, you'll want to keep most of them.
<![CDATA[The Voice Of Self-Doubt In A Writer's Head]]>Tue, 23 Aug 2016 14:00:00 GMThttp://author-algoulden.com/blunt-blog/the-voice-of-self-doubt-in-a-writers-headPicture
I spent the weekend trying to write. I sat there going through my outline process on the WIP that I feel is the least developed, and yet, the most interesting. So why do I feel like I didn't get anything accomplished? There's a nagging pressure I put on myself to produce a certain amount of words when I sit down to write. There are no real deadlines set by anyone other than me, but the bar that I set floats in my mind next to my other enemy, doubt. 

I wouldn't say I have a low self-esteem. Not even close. But I'm painfully aware of my lack of rhythm when I start a new project. I have been so excited to dive into a fresh idea, but somehow it feels like I'm swimming in sand. I know how fairly new to authoring I still am. I know how many writers have flooded the romance market over the last five years, and how that affects readership choices. These factors shouldn't be in my brain while I'm writing, but a little voic whispers, "Hasn't this been done before? That premise is boring. There's no there, there." I spend time over analyzing my raw ideas and question my plotting paths. So how can I get through it?

I've been having an ongoing conversation about the creative process with my friend Sally, a thought-provoking sculptor. She turned me on to the amazing book, A Writer's Diary by Virginia Woolf as well as other essays by Woolf on the process of being a writer. It's inspiring and humbling that Virginia could pinpoint the anguish and troubles of the process so clearly, so long ago. Whether you're putting your visions on paper, or sculpting them into clay, there's a vulnerability that opens us up to rejection and criticism. It's a natural inclination to retreat from the scrutiny and procrastinate, or worse, quit. I think as artists it's crucial that we understand fears and doubts so they don't win. We have to know that the struggle with ourselves is at the heart of the process of creation. It's a dance we have to stumble through. But doesn't it always feel better to know we aren't dancing alone. You're not the only one who has felt this. I'm okay with someone proving that I am not the first. I am not the last. And I am forever grateful to Sally for letting me share my struggling dance with her. I cannot recommend enough, to any writer or artist, to read Virginia's diary excerpts. It will assure you how utterly not alone you are in the ups and downs of artistic process. If you have any thoughts, I'd love to hear about your struggles too. Leave comments so that we can all benefit from the mutual dance of creativity.

<![CDATA[Cutting Hurts - Editing Pains]]>Thu, 30 Jun 2016 15:30:02 GMThttp://author-algoulden.com/blunt-blog/cutting-hurts-editing-painsEditing Hurts - But You'll Get Through It.  Picture
Here's some tips on getting your book through the first round of edits.

​There are a ton of websites out there that can take you through editing your first draft. I've just put a few things here that I recommend before you even let the first person read it, much less give it to your editor.

  • Wait. - I recommend waiting a bit before you go through a major edit. That can be different for everyone but factor in a good break to look at the book with slightly fresh eyes.

  • Read the book all the way through. Try doing it out loud. It really makes a huge difference and you'll catch things you wouldn't in your head. We have a tendency when writing to break the book into parts and jump around. Here's your chance to digest the piece as a whole. I like to use Word on my tablet for this and just highlight or make notes as I go. I don't get into deep notes because I want to get through the book. You can just highlight things to come back. This works if you print it out too. Seeing it in print really reveals things you miss digitally.
  • Spell & Grammar Check - I know it sounds like, "duh," but this is a long step that is a must. I write in Scrivener so for me it means I have to export a Word doc to run a grammar/spell check. Yes, Scrivener has spellcheck that I use as I write, but I believe in checking with both programs to catch different things. You also can't beat the grammar check to call out those "there" "theirs" and "you're" "yours". I actually enjoy this part of the process because it lets me step out of the story and feel productive in a mechanical way.
  • Search for your crutch words or actions. We all have them. Maybe eyes are doing things they don't really do or maybe your characters always laugh. Whatever it is... look for things that repeat and really dig deep to give more variation to the actions. Search for words that repeat. In Scrivener you can look at the statistics to see the words that are used the most. Obviously words like "the" or names of characters will come up, but look for less common words. Kill most instances of "just," "of course," "suddenly,"and use of too many “to be” words like “am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been and others." You’ll be appalled at how quickly they flatten prose and slow your pace to a crawl. Some of these will be needed to flow, but see the areas you've used as a crutch and remove. It will cut to the heart of the subject better.
  • Show Don't Tell. Another "duh" moment, but I promise you there are areas that you missed on your rough draft. One of the things I used to do a lot was inner monologue. It's popular in romance and funny when used right, but I've started to pull back on it because it really is telling a reader what the character feels rather than showing it. The action behind an emotion is more captivating. Plus, let's face it, most people don't know how to evaluate and describe their emotions in the heat of the moment. So why would your character have that powerful insight?
  • Formatting. Even though this is tedious and not my favorite part, it's absolutely necessary. If you're doing a paperback then you'll need to format the pages and margins. If you're doing subheadings or any special characters to separate sections this is when you double check spacing and consistency.
  • Commas, commas, commas. Compound sentences, independent clauses, introductory elements and names, lists of items, dialog, multiple adjectives... the list or uses for commas goes on and on. You need them. And you need to use them correctly. 
Once you've been through all this, go ahead and send it to your editor for their first "real" round of edits. Think of the process above like polishing your rough draft so that the editor can see the heart of the story, character, and flow instead of getting bumped by simple fixes. Congratulations on this first big step! You're in the middle of a marathon, so stay strong. 
<![CDATA[Writing - How To Balance Your Other "Day Job"]]>Wed, 29 Jun 2016 15:30:01 GMThttp://author-algoulden.com/blunt-blog/writing-how-to-balance-your-other-day-jobPicture
Today I started back at my "Day Job" as the Art Director on How To Get Away With Murder. For the last ten weeks, while the show was on hiatus, I've focused primarily on finishing Chasing Swells (which entailed a large rewrite), making all the promotional materials (cover, teasers, trailer, etc.), redesigned my new website (Welcome. I'm really happy you're here), and I spent time roughing out my next writing projects. Now the trick will be incorporating my full-time writer's life back into my Art Director career on a hit ABC show. No small feat. 

If I said my writing process was all over the map, that wouldn't be helpful. It's hard to pinpoint and stick to a process this early into my career. I've only been writing seriously for three years now, all while maintaining a career that requires a twelve-hour day. But when I think of how I started out, and how differently I approach writing now, I think that's information that could be helpful. After finishing my fourth novel, I've fallen into certain patterns that work for me. And maybe it could work for you.

Time management is my biggest hurdle. A sixty-hour work week is tiring. It zaps my will to do much on the weekends. That's how I realized how much I love writing, I found myself wanting to write on the weekends or early in the mornings or late at night, even when tired from work. I've worked harder as a writer, setting my own timelines and work schedule, than I have ever worked for any other creative passion.

Here's how you can continue writing with a full-time job:

1. Start out with an idea for a premise or genre you want to tackle. 
Pretty simple and straight forward. I'm sure you're thinking, "Duh," but having a fleshed out idea is really important for time management. I could never be happy just writing one style of book back to back, so my first step includes researching the genre if it's new to me. I think it's good to explore different genres that challenge you. The beauty of being new and your own self-published boss, is that you can write what you want. 

2. Outline the idea in a three-act structure, or closely to it.
There are plenty of sites and books on a three-act structure out there so I won't get into it in-depth. Basically you need to have a plot and plot points that get your hero/heroine through their journey to discover or change in the way they're meant to. Some people claim to just write and go where the story leads them, but I don't really buy that. I'm sure people do it, but I'm not sure how a person can consistently wind a great story by happenstance. 

3. Work on character arcs
I find Kim Weiland's website, Helping Writer's Become Authors, wonderful at breaking down character arcs. I take my main characters and do a breakdown of who they are and what their purpose is on colored index cards. I could do this in Scrivener, but I still like to do this one part of my process old-school. I try to figure out what my character's personal journey within the story is. One of the most important things for your book are great characters that the reader will care about. For love stories this is key because our characters need to also fall in love with one another and our readers need to care. Honestly, readers already know what's going to happen. To a certain extent, at least. They want that HEA, and they'll stick around if there's a great cast of characters at stake. Even if you create a heroine like Monica Waters in the August Fog Series who's unlikable at times and full of faults, readers still rooted for her because they had sympathy for her struggle to choose the right man, and the right path in life.

4. Twists and believability
I put these together because for me nothing is worse than a twist for twist's sake. If you're going to work hard enough to slip in a little surprise or two, go the extra mile to research or weave believable details into your plot. Don't try to add something into the story that doesn't fit just to have a gatcha moment. For instance, having a secondary character suddenly deliver the big life saving drug or exposing a truth about your hero that doesn't fit anything else in the story will disappoint your readers.

5. Write
Another, "Duh," moment, I know. But this is where I fail when I'm juggling two careers. When will you make the time to write and still have your life? I've had to learn that devoting a set amount of time and not stressing about the rest is best. I dedicate a few hours on Sundays while my hubby works on his hobbies. Then Monday mornings I give a final hour of progress before the work week swallows me up. I go to the gym before work Tuesday-Friday, but getting to my office early on Mondays reminds me of my commitment to both careers now. I put those last words or notes down while it's fresh since time away from the story kills my flow. I've heard of people who claim to have written bestsellers on a lunch break. That's not something I think I'd want to do, even if I could. I used to try and squeeze in time every night and during lunch, but that takes a toll on your relationships as well as your sanity. Don't try to keep up with the demands of the rapid-release publishing crowd. If you're holding two jobs, you're doing enough. Making sure your writing is good is more important than pumping out words.

6. Edit, edit, rewrite, and edit again.
This is the part that has taken me the longest to accept. Rewriting and editing are the real meat of what being an author is about. It's not the initial rough draft. That's the honeymoon phase. The editing is the hard work. The marriage, lets say, that makes the whole thing worth it. It makes the end product something to be proud of, even though it hurts and it's hard and tiring.