Sam Hawken Posts

Social MediaThere’s a school of thought which insists social media is an essential tool for writers.  As advertising budgets at publishers have shrunk, the attitude has been that authors should pick up more and more of the slack, constantly entertaining the world via clever tweets, perfectly filtered Instagram photos and pithy Facebook updates.  I could not care less about any of that, and I respectfully suggest you consider taking this stance.

At best social media is a time-wasting distraction.  Every minute you spend reading tweets, looking at posts or perusing images is a minute lost.  No work has been done.  And if you’re not working, then by definition you’re goofing off.  For someone like me, who depends on a steady income from producing fiction, goofing off is literally something I can’t afford.

This isn’t to say entertainment must fall by the wayside, or that one must work all the time.  However, I’ll ask you this: would you rather spend your time scrolling through a feed (of whatever kind) that’s been shown by objective study to cause depression (link), or is it better spent reading a book, taking a walk, playing a game, talking to someone close to you, or simply watching television? I know my answer.

If you’re a writer and your publisher says you have to use social media to sell books, tell them no thanks.  If your friends or family or coworkers insist you get a social media account to “keep up with everything,” don’t do it.  There is no good to come of being on these services that outweighs their negatives.  You are better off doing almost anything else.  Your Twitter feed isn’t going to sell books.  Your friends can send you a text if they want to go out.  Your relatives can pick up the phone.  You don’t need to see pictures of someone’s vacation, party or food.

And that’s why I don’t use social media.

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ClockI work quickly.  I don’t do this because I have a desperate need to release a book every three to four months, as so many self-publishing gurus suggest, but rather because I have a lot of stories to tell and a finite time in which to tell them.  Some believe it’s perfectly okay to take years to write a book.  If they only have a handful of stories in them, that works.  If the opposite is true, they need to get a move on.

There is no secret to writing quickly.  I’m sorry to be the one to break the bad news.  The only real way to write quickly is to write a modestly ambitious amount five days a week.  There is absolutely no need to write 5,000 words a day, or more, no matter what anyone tells you.  There’s no reason to spend twelve hours slaving away on a treadmill desk, churning out fiction.  If you want to finish a book in what many would consider record time, write about 2,000 words each day, five days a week.  That’s it.

Yes, I know, some of you are saying, “Two thousand words a day!?  Are you insane?”  Short answer: no.  I figure about 80,000 words for a novel, broken out by forty days (eight work weeks), which reduces to two thousand.  Two months is more than fast enough for anyone’s purpose and, really, two thousand words is nothing.  As of this sentence, you’ve read 250 words, and it’s only been three paragraphs.  Write another nine paragraphs and you’re done.

At first you’ll take some time to hit this rate.  I started slowly back in the mid-oughts, writing just those 250 words a day.  It didn’t take long until my writing energy exceeded that count, so I increased to five hundred a day, then seven-fifty… you see how it goes.  Right now I can do approximately 1,500 words in an hour, which means I’m done with my daily count in an hour and a half.  Do you have an hour and half to spare?  I’m willing to bet you do.

Note that this doesn’t include time for revision once the book is done.  I set aside another twenty days for that, as revision is a more labor-intensive process.  But, again, three months to finish and polish a book is nothing in the scheme of things.  If you have stories to tell, that makes all the difference.

Writing

Make Them Sorry, by Sam HawkenHot on the heels of the great review from Publishers Weekly, we hear from Booklist, who’s even more excited for Camaro Espinoza (link).  While I haven’t started hearing from you, the readers, I look forward to your thoughts.  I continue to think Make Them Sorry (link) is the best Camaro novel thus far, and you’ll love it.

Miami accountant Faith Glazer is sure she’s being stalked. She’s seen him outside her office, and she senses that he has even been in her apartment, so she goes to one of the city’s fighting gyms to learn how to defend herself. But she soon decides she needs a personal instructor and approaches the most formidable woman in the gym, Camaro Espinoza (Walk Away, 2017 [link]).  Reluctantly, Camaro agrees to train her. She also tells Faith to buy a gun.

Faith does so, and when the stalker invades her home and brutally assaults her, Faith shoots him six times. Soon after, Camaro’s home is invaded by three men with assault rifles. Camaro kills them. The three dead men are found to be Armenian thugs, and Hawken is off to the races in a violent, twisty story of Colombian coca lords, bent Miami bankers, and money laundering. Camaro is a fascinating character, adding several nice variations on the typical genre “tough guy.” She’s a decorated veteran of America’s various Middle Eastern military adventures who keeps even potential friends at a distance, explaining that she has an “anger problem.” Fans of head-banging thrillers will love Camaro.

I don’t think it gets more enthusiastic than that.  Thank you to Booklist and thank you for your readership.  It means the world to me.

Be sure to get your copy of Make Them Sorry, the latest Camaro Espinoza thriller, available for purchase right now at your favorite bookseller. (link)

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Camaro