Thursday, July 23, 2009

Write With Fire

The fried chicken is in the bucket. Now I can talk about it. 2009 marks my 20th year as a writer. During that time I haven’t gotten famous. During that time I haven’t made enough money to quit my day job. But then, none of the working writers I know are famous. And most of them either have a day job or are married to someone who does. What I have been lucky enough to do for those twenty years, though, is weather the changing seasons that have swept over publishing and still sell pretty much everything I’ve written: vampire stories, sword & sorcery, sword & planet, adventure, westerns, children’s tales, humor, and nonfiction of a wide variety. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pretty. [Especially the splatterpunk stuff ;)]. But it got done.

Over twenty years I’ve done a lot of thinking about writing, about what works and doesn’t work, about what it takes to give a substantial portion of your life over to this rather strange habit. Almost from the beginning I’ve also written articles about writing. I think best on paper, and those articles have helped me crystallize my own thoughts on the craft. Now all those articles are gathered together in Write With Fire: Thoughts on the Craft of Writing, which has just been published. I’m extremely happy about it. And rather proud, I suppose too.

The book is 248 pages, and divided into three parts. The first part is mainly about the practical mechanics of writing. How do you shepherd ideas through the writing and editing process and into the final form needed for publication? It talks more about fiction than nonfiction but a lot of the articles are really about communicating with your writing, which applies to any genre. The second part deals more with theory and philosophy in writing. What kind of characteristics are common to writers? What makes and breaks a “page-turner?” The last and much shorter section consists of articles that are more personal to my life as a writer, such as my experiences after Hurricane Katrina.

Many of the articles have been published before, often in out of the way magazines, but all of them have been updated and expanded for the book. And there is quite a lot of stuff here that has never been seen before by most of those who know about my writing, including ideas I’ve developed in teaching classes in writing and giving presentations on the craft. I’ve posted the cover on the blog, and the Amazon link is Write With Fire.

I haven’t even gotten my copies yet but will blog about it when I do. In the meantime, I’d really appreciate it if my writer friends in the blogosphere would mention the book around so the word gets out. I’ll thank you for it.


Paul R. McNamee said...

Wow! That's great!

From what I've seen here on your blog, you have handier insight into writing than most of those writing books have to offer.

Good luck with it!

Charles Gramlich said...

Paul, thanks much.

writtenwyrdd said...

yay for you, Charles! That's so cool. I will buy a copy just because you wrote it, and I know there'll be some great pearls of wisdom in there. :)

laughingwolf said...

grats, charles!

will put this up on my page :)

Rick said...

Congratulations, Charles. I respect your writing a great deal, and count on me buying this and reading it with great interest.

Charles Gramlich said...

writtenwyrdd, thanks very much. I appreciate that. It's pretty much everything I know about writing and wasn't afraid to ask about.

laughingwolf, I appreciate that, man. You've always been very supportive. Thanks.

Rick, thanks. I appreciate that. I guess you could say this one was certainly "years" in the making.

Angie said...

Congrats, that's excellent! {{}} I added it to my wish list, and next time I have book money I'll definitely grab a copy.


Shauna Roberts said...

CONGRATULATIONS! Wonderful news! If the chapters are anything like your blog posts, it should be a big help to many writers.

Steve Malley said...


Freakin' awesome! I'll spread the word!!

laughingwolf said...

will order my copy asap, too :)

Greg said...

hey Charles, that's awesome! congrats on the book. i'll definitely mention it and post a link on my site.

G. B. Miller said...

Very cool Charles.

I'm on the look out for another good book on writing.

Will keep you in mind when I go to make my monthly book purchase. :)

JR's Thumbprints said...

Congrats! Sounds like a wonderful book. I'll bet those 20 years flew by. Myself, I've got plenty to learn. I didn't take writing seriously until the year 2000.

Spy Scribbler said...

Wow, this is awesome! I pressed the please-publish-this-book-on-Kindle button, but I might just have to buy a real copy. (And I only have one shelf in the camper, so that's saying something!)

Congratulations, Charles! Will totally blog about it!

Charles Gramlich said...

Angie, thanks. I appreciate that. I like to think it's a fairly practical guide, as opposed to some of the more philosophical ones out there.

Shauna, thanks. I appreciate that. Most of the articles are fairly short, though longer than blog posts. But some of my past blog posts were on related topics.

Steve Malley, thanks. I much appreciate that. Yeah, I'm pretty happy.

laughingwolf, I appreciate that, dude. Hope you enjoy.

Greg Schwartz, thanks, man. I appreciate your support.

G, well it's everything I know. I hope that's good! ;)

JR, yes, it doesn't seem that long until I count it up. And I've still got plenty to learn. But I guess it's always possible to do a 'revised edition.' lol.

Natasha Fondren, it would be handy to have on a Kindle for sure. Only one shelf? You are roughing it. Thanks for the support.

Sidney said...

We had some long talks at school about writing and pay and the changes in the economy and in every aspect of the arts. We agreed the best thing to do is figure out a way to pay for the health insurance and do the best work you can and that's all you can really hope for. I suppose that's true. Happy 20.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute, you're famous? Holy shit! BTW, what's with using the "Allen" in your name this time? Getting ready for a serial killing spree?

Also, I am now advertising for you.


ivan said...

I had no idea, Charles.
In fact, I did have an idea, but you're beaten me to it.
I was once asked by the House of Anansi in Toronto to do something like you've done, but was too lazy or scattered to produce.
I will certainly mention it on my blog once the current lineup of work is done.
Migod. I am impressed.

ivan said...

Okay, I've done it.
Mentioned "Write With Fire: Thoughts on the Craft of Writing", in an anwer to your comment on my blog.
I have about twenty "Quarks", followers of my blog, and I'm sure they'll be putting up something about Write With Fire as well.

(and congrats again)

BernardL said...

Very good news!

Cloudia said...

Definitely gonna get this book!!!!!

Congrats on ALL of it. Seriously, you are the real deal, Charles!

Comfort Spiral

Charles Gramlich said...

Sidney, I agree. We can only do the best work we're capable of and then let the world sort 'em out. But one thing for sure, you've got to feed the family.

Wil, I'm so famous I'm beyond famous. I'm famous enough to be an "unknown" famous person. This is a far greater level of fame than most folks ever achieve. Until recently even you had not heard of me. See how it works? Yeah, the allen does suggest a serial killer, who all have three names. I didn't think about that but maybe it's not a bad thing.

ivan, thanks, Ivan. I appreciate you putting out the word. It really means a lot. I spent most of the summer of 07 putting the book together. Most of the articles were already long done.

BernardL, thanks. Yes, I'm pretty happy.

Cloudia, thanks so much. I appreciate all your support. Always good to see your commentary.

Heff said...

Damn. I may buy that just to HAVE, seeing as I don't read.

Charles Gramlich said...

Heff, It'll make a good place to set a couple of beers I'd think. ;)

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

I am buying this Charles. In fact I'mm off to Amazon now.

the walking man said...

The only common trait I know of that is in all writers is a penchant for insanity.

Charles seeing as i am VERY technology challenged when it comes to taking pictures and posting them could you drop the embed code into an e-mail for me?

ninthmuse (roz m) said...

Wow, congratulations! It's in my basket for my next Amazon splurge.
Luckily, I've also had the pleasure of hearing you speak "in person" about writing, so I know what to look forward to :)

jodi said...

Charles, You done good, Dude! I will never be a serious writer, (an essayist at best)altho I LOVE to read serious writers. I too, will be honored to purchase and read your book, and say that I "know" you. Kudos!

Scott D. Parker said...

Wow! Twenty years in the biz! That's awesome. As someone who's just starting out, that's an incredible feat. BTW, I'll be requesting that both local libraries carry your book.

L.A. Mitchell said...

I had no idea you were working on such a project. Very sneaky, Charles. I'll be more than happy to spread the word ;)

j said...

I like your common sense approach to writing. It seems to be tempting for some to use discussions about writing to make themselves seem like great writers. You strike me as someone who loves writing and THAT is your motivation. Just from reading your blog, I have learned a lot.

Have a great weekend Charles!

j said...

Bah! Manners. CONGRATULATIONS Charles!

Charles Gramlich said...

ARCHAVIST, Gary, I appreciate that. Thanks much!

Mark, and, I think, an imaginative and unconventional approach to life. I did a couple of articles that I thought were interesting that compare similarities between Jack London and Hemingway. It was pretty close in many ways. I'll send that code to you today. Thanks.

Roz, Thanks. Yes, you pretty much 'had' to listen to me eh? I sometimes wish you'd come teach some of our current crop of students how to listen in class. :)

jodi, thanks, I appreciate that. But hey, Thoreau was primarily an essayist and he was certainly a serious writer.

Scott Parker, cool. Thanks. I'm also going to see about getting it into the local libraries. They carry my novels.

L.A. Mitchell, thanks. I tell you I just fear jinxing things if I talk about them. Or more, I fear the humiliation if I talk about them and they don't happen.

jennifer, thank you! I just finished reading a book that tried to make writing all mysterious and magical. It's great fun and sometimes hard work, but it's a craft like many others we humans do.

Vesper said...

Congratulations, Charles! The book comes as a celebration too of your twenty years of writing. Just in time! I've always found your advice immensely valuable. I hope gets the book so that I can buy it.

Merisi said...

I will have to come back to read your latest posts with a cup of coffee. Right now I just wanted to tell you that I agree: That cloud really looks as if coming from Victoria Secret's heavenly bra selection! ;-)

Sorry for stopping by so infrequently lately. Either on the road or getting readign for the road again. Life is tough! ;-)

Happy weekend!

Merisi said...

Could not resist skimming your post:
I put your book is on my amazon list!

I am happy for you!

I have plans.
Wait what happens once I hold it in my hands. ;-)

Middle Ditch said...

Many, many congratulations with your new publication Charles.

Twenty years of writing under your hat. My, my. I didn't discover I had a (little talent) for scripts until in my fifties.

I'll mention Write With Fire on facebook as I have mentioned Xdell's radio play several times (news feed moves quick when you have loads of friends on there) and it should help. XX

Liane Spicer said...

Fantastic! Both the span of your writing career and the new publication. Congratulations!

Lana Gramlich said...

You so rock, baby. Write on! :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Vesper,I imaigne it will be on Amazon.CA. It should be available at Wildside also.

Merisi, thank you so much. I appreciate your support. When I saw the cloud pic I thought, do my eyes decieve me? Or maybe it was my mind. lol.

Middle Ditch, thanks. Yes, I've been enjoying the Golden Ganesh adventures. It doesn't seem like it could be 20 years, and I started off very slow. It has gone past fast.

Liane Spicer, thanks much. And thanks for dropping by and reading.

Lana Gramlich, that would be you sweetums.

Mary Witzl said...

This looks great, Charles. If what's in this book is anything like the interesting things you say about writing in your blog, this will be a real gold mine. I'll keep my out for it and make sure to mention it in book stores.

Travis Cody said...

That is so cool! Congratulations!

Charles Gramlich said...

Mary Witzl, It covers a pretty wide range of things and I think it addresses most of the issues writers face. At least I hope it does.

Travis, thanks much, my friend.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Excellent, Charles. 20 years, amazing.

"I think best on paper ..." The true writer's creed.

Here's to 20 more.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Looks great. I will post it tomorrow.

X. Dell said...

Okay. I'll certainly give it a plug.

I actually once made a living as a freelancer, but not as a real writer. Pay entails writing stuff that other people would if they had the time, the experience/education, etc. that they claim to have. Oftentimes, it's distasteful, and the client really understand the ins and outs of the process, or what you're putting on paper. And your creativity is curtailed by the restrictions imposed by the client. But it used to pay.

I marvel at anyone who's written and published fiction. Tis a hard thing to do.

Charles Gramlich said...

Don, thanks. I appreciate that. And its true. I love to have opportunities to write out my thoughts and arguments. It's the only way I can truly understand what I'm saying.

pattinase (abbott), thanks. I much appreciate that. I enjoyed your comments on the blog about single author anthologies.

X. Dell, I appreciate that. I've done a 'little' of that kind of freelancing. Man talk about hard writing. Trying to please the customer and turn out a quality product at the same time is not always easy.

cherie said...

hi, i've been smiling from "during that time, i haven't gotten famous" haha! i won't just spread the word, my, my but you're good, i'll buy me a copy myself! hope you don't mind my hopping over - i need this boost to steer my mind off the tracks of "being married to one who does" work-wise, haha1 i think you are funny - will be back here definitely...good job!!

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Charles,

This is terrific news! What a great accomplishment. I know you don't like Raymond Carver, but now is the time to break out what I like to call the Ray Carver picnic -- champagne and KFC. The man did have at least one good idea, right? :) Can't wait to read it and tell everyone about your new book!

cs harris said...

I still can't believe you kept quiet about this. You have way more self control than I do. Congratulations! I can't wait to read it.

Maude Lynn said...


Erik Donald France said...

This is so cool! Major congrats, man! Will purchase, no question. Look forward to reading it!

Sarah Hina said...

So, so cool, Charles. I'm really happy that all of your awesome insights have been pooled into one book!

I've often thought you gave really sound advice, without too many frills or the trappings of ego. It's obvious that you're a professor and that you were meant to teach. And write, of course.

Great work. Congratulations of the highest order!

Charles Gramlich said...

cherie, I've not even gotten infamous, which would have earned me more money. Thanks for visiting. I appreciate it.

Michelle, well, if Carver recommends KFC he must have hidden depths that I've not yet probed. Maybe I should give him another read. Thanks for your kind words.

Candy, It's not self control as much as utter fear of embarrassment. Thanks much. I appreciate it.

Mama Zen, thanks very much and thank you for visiting my blog.

Erik, thanks for all your support, dude. I appreciate it.

Sarah Hina, thanks. I don't know if I could say that I'm exactly humble, but whenver my ego threatens to get out of control some epic fail happens that brings me back to earth.

PRNewland said...


I'll definitely check it out and encourage others to do the same.

Lisa said...

I'll check it out and see if I could purchase it on-line.

In the meantime, is writing like singing? It is either you are born with the talent or not. I really wish I could write, to tell stories and to be funny :)

Charles Gramlich said...

PRNewland, thanks. I much appreciate that. And thanks for commenting.

Ocean Girl, I don't think writing is much like singing at all. I think there may be some people who are more natural writers than others, but I think anyone can learn to write well enough to publish. That's a lot of the focus of the book. It's more about discipline than it is raw talent.

Lauren said...

Congrats on hitting 20 years of the craft :) I love the title of your writing book!

Charles Gramlich said...

Thanks, Lauren. It took me some time to come up with that title.

Barbara Martin said...

Congrats on putting this together and getting it out there.

Charles Gramlich said...

Barbara, thankee.

Aimlesswriter said...

Looks like a great book. Love the cover.
Can't wait to get a copy.