About Michael D. Brooks

Michael D. Brooks writes both fiction and nonfiction. His stories and articles have appeared in Avenue, Bewildering Stories, The Cynic Online Magazine, Lightning Flash Magazine, 101 Words and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

He writes a column of Website reviews for Associates: the Electronic Library Support Staff Journal.

He has an M.A. in Writing Studies, is endeavoring to expand his fiction repertoire, and dreams of being a Jeopardy answer some day.

Michael is a contributing member of several Writer’s Groups.

His first book, Conversations with Pop: the musings of an average guy, It is a collection of humorous flash fiction stories and is available through Amazon.com.

Are You Really Reading When You Listen to an Audiobook?

Print books versus audiobooks. Is reading with your eyes the same as reading with your ears?

When you read a book, you are essentially following printed words on a page and listening to your inner ear/voice as you imagine what you read. When you listen to an audiobook, you are essentially following spoken words someone else is reading on a page and listening to your inner ear/voice as you imagine what you hear.

Whether you read it yourself or listen to someone else read it to you, whether you agree or disagree with the format and methodology, the end result is the same: you immerse yourself in a world written by a writer for your enjoyment and edification.

James Tate Hill discusses this very issue in a recent article for Literary Hub called “Do Audio Books Count As Reading?” where he discusses his visual impairment and use of audiobooks.

Reading has traditionally been accepted as words on a page scanned by the eyes because it was the only game/technology in town, but as technologies change and lifestyles change, a new form of reading is taking its place on the game field, and its validity as a form of reading will be a subject of discourse and debate for years to come.

Don’t Make Resolutions, Set Goals

The year 2018

We’re a week into the new year and many of us have already broken or severely undermined our resolutions already. Things will only get worse for some as the year progresses. Others will completely abandon their resolutions as unachievable. But there is a way of achieving (or coming close to achieving your resolutions). Don’t make any resolutions.

Resolutions are essentially promises we make to ourselves that we eventually can’t keep. But a resolution can be seen not as a lofty promise but as a set of reasonably achievable goals which can be adjusted based on feasibility and realistic expectations.

Set yourself a goal or series of goals and then set out to reach them. If a goal seems unachievable, re-evaluate it and adjust your outcome/reward. If it turns out you can’t reach it, no harm, no foul, just put it on your to-do list and skip it for the time being. Move on to the next goal.

If you’ve decided to finally write that novel you’ve had bouncing around in your head, then set yourself a goal of writing it. Set yourself a goal of writing a chapter a week. If that turns out to be too much, pare it down to a chapter every two weeks, or a chapter a month. If that’s too much, then pare it down to a paragraph a day. (Think of it as writing a novel in flash fiction installments.)

Get into a routine; it’ll become second nature. Eventually, you’ll be running on automatic and have that novel written and be ready to move on to the next one. And if something happens and takes you away from your routine, the habit of writing regularly will become ingrained. You will naturally be drawn back into a comfortable writing habit.

Just remember, life happens and stuff gets in the way. If you set reasonably achievable goals (baby steps along the way), when you get sidetracked, it won’t be difficult to get back on track. And if you begin to doubt yourself, you can gain some inspiration from New Year’s Resolutions for Writers.

For other resolutions/goals, check out Making your New Year’s resolution stick.

Afraid of Being Critiqued? Here Are Three Ways of Losing That Fear and Getting the Feedback You Want

Every writer wants to know how they’re doing. Feedback often comes in many forms. L. Roger Owens’ article, Getting Feedback Can Hurt—Here’s How to Ask for It can help soften the blow and show you how to solicit the type of feedback you want or need.

Sometimes You Just Have to Challenge Yourself as a Writer

Every day we’re all faced with challenges of some kind or another. As writers, we’re often challenged with what to write, what not to write, is the grammar correct, is the spelling correct, is the punctuation on target, and is what I said what I wanted to say. These are basically outside challenges that come with the territory. But sometimes, there are moments when some of our challenges are self-imposed.

Recently, Christopher (aka @shapshifter) over at Drablr.com not only wrote a story containing exactly 100 words, but he wrote it without using the letter L, and he titled it appropriately “No L.”  Check it out. Maybe you can write something omitting another letter of the alphabet.

Four Points to Consider When Sharpening Your Writing Skills

A surefire way of improving your writing is by pitting your skills against others in the competitive arena. There are four points to consider that just may help you advance your writing skills.

One: there’s always a writing prompt so you have no excuse for claiming you don’t know what to write about. The prompts will motivate you to write something, and as you do, you will think of other things to write about. The prompts usually come in two forms:

Form one: a word, phrase, or sentence.
Form two: a picture or video.

So you’ll have no excuse to not come up with something to write about. If you still can’t think of something to say after being given a writing prompt, give your brain time enough to process the prompt. Most writing contests allow adequate time to write a winning submission. Everyone has an opinion about something one way or another. Just give yourself some time to form your opinion and then expound upon it. (What I just said has already prompted some of you to form an opinion about it.)

Two: motivate yourself to write the best damn story you’ve ever written in your life. Why? Because you are competing against the best damn writers in the world–and you’re one of them. And if you don’t think of yourself as being on the same level as the best, then discipline yourself to take on the best. To be the best, you must compete with the best. Don’t second-guess yourself.

Three: if you win, place among the winners, or get an honorable mention, take the accolades and build on them. Such an accomplishment is a validation of your skills.

Four: if you don’t win or get an honorable mention, that doesn’t mean you don’t have what it takes. It means you enter the next contest, then the next, until you get that honorable mention or win. And when you do get that win or mention, you move on to the next contest and the next. Along the way, you may get feedback. Understand that feedback is not a criticism of you but constructive critiques of your work. Many writers get bogged down with the critiques and let that feedback deter them from pursuing their dream.  Take that feedback and learn from it. Use it as the foundation upon which you can become the best damn writer in the world.

So remember to 1) Tackle those writing prompts. 2) Do your best. 3) Build on your accomplishments and push yourself to the next level. 4) If your best isn’t good enough, try again and again.

Sure and steady finishes the race. Now get out there and compete.

Libraries Are More Relevant Now Than Ever–Especially to Writers

More information is more readily available to more people than ever before in human history. Unfortunately, many people are not adept at wading through the information clutter and making logical sense of it all.
Fortunately, librarians and library support staff (paralibrarians) are still the best resources for assisting with navigating the information landscape. They can also be a writer’s best friend.

“The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” ― Albert Einstein

Can You Be Both a Writer and an Introvert?

Is it possible to be a writer and be an introvert? Yes, it is. Just because you don’t have a natural inclination to mingle and put yourself out there doesn’t mean you should give up being a writer. So what if you’re shy. Big deal. So you’re not comfortable being around people. Big whoop. You don’t have to be comfortable with anything but your writing. But how do you get noticed without being noticed? You can get noticed by working with social media.Introverted Writer

You can create a Facebook page to promote your latest book, blog, or stories. You can create a Twitter account then set about looking for other writers who share your interests. You can set your news-feeds to receive information and notices from fellow writers and those in the writing business–as well as readers.

Mystery writers write mysteries for people who enjoy reading them. Science Fiction writers write for those who enjoy reading science fiction. For every genre, there is an audience of readers.

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Goodreads, or any number of social media sites, or writer communities, you can post notes, updates, and any other useful information that will get your writing and your name “out there” without you actually being out there.

Save, Backup, Archive Your Writing

Save copies of what you submit and publish.

Backup your work. Nothing lasts forever

When you submit a story to an electronic publication and they accept and publish it, never expect your story to be forever accessible.  Anything could happen that might cause your story to disappear. The most likely scenario is the publication your story appeared in ceases to exist. More times than not, they will not only become defunct but so will your story. Either the domain will disappear or change owners and focus. The story you so diligently worked on and submitted will vanish into the digital ether.

Keep a record of where you submit and get published

The same is true for any social networks or writing communities you are a member of. If you have a page you actively post to, keep a copy of everything you post or publish to it. Note the site, the dates posted/published, and any comments and responses. These items will prove useful if you decide to submit your story somewhere else. Though you may not have any traceable evidence your story saw the light of day, you will have data to corroborate your claim you published your story before if you are trying to sell reprint rights. And that just might go a long way in convincing a potential publisher that your story was published before.

Use the Cloud and maybe a few other locations

Ensure your backup doesn’t get corrupted, save a few copies of your work. Archive your stories on flash drives, terabyte drives, or cloud storage like Google Drive, iCloudOne Drive, or DropBox; a hardcopy also helps. If the work is extensive and you don’t want to have to retype it again, scan the hardcopy and save it in a manipulatable format like MS Word. This way, if something happens to one (or two) of your backups, you will still have an archive of your work. It’s highly unlikely all of your archived copies would be lost.

 

A Brief Perspective on Why I Write (and read) Short Stories

As a writer, I can say that I prefer writing and reading short stories because I live a busy life and I don’t always have the time or the inclination to sit down and read a novel. I mostly read newspaper, magazine, and blog articles, or social media posts. When I read a book, for the most part, it’s nonfiction. As a child, I did read more fiction because I had the time (though not always the inclination) to read books. But my books of choice were usually nonfiction. (Though I did read every Hardy Boys novel in my grade school library.) However, I very much enjoyed (and still do) books on astronomy, biology, history, geography, oceanography, and such.

As an adult, I do most of my fiction “reading” through audiobooks. But when I do take the time to visually read what some would call literature, my preference is for short stories; mostly flash fiction. I prefer short stories in general and flash fiction in particular because reading them does not take up much of my time. So I write short stories for people who want to read something other than articles and social media posts but just don’t have the time, desire, or the attention span to read something longer.

Much of what I write is stuff (Yes, I said stuff.) that I want to read but can’t seem to find to my liking. I also write what I think others may want to read without making it overly esoteric. My stories do have messages, and my messages are designed to appeal to the average person, but if a reader doesn’t get the message but enjoys the story anyway, my job is done. I don’t write stories that will make people think too hard. That’s why I decided to write my Pop and Son stories.

Pop and his son are a couple of average people living average lives with average concerns. Their discussions and adventures, to me, reflect a slice of average life that I believe appeals to the average person. There are no profound ponderings the reader will have to expound upon as if they were in a college English class. What Pop and his son talk about are insightful snippets of common sense, common courtesy, and fair play, with a bit of humor and fun thrown in. And that’s all I want my readers to get out of reading my stories.