Adam Armstrong is a life-long native to Northern Kentucky. His writing has been published hundreds of times in everything from small literary magazines, to large sci-fi markets to trade journals. Adam writes professionally and lives with his wife, Melissa, and their son, Dylan.
1. How long have you been writing and what got you started?
I’ve written on and off since my teen years. About eleven years ago I started submitting my writing and sold my first story a few months later. I write fiction to get out all of the ideas that seem to be at war with one another in my head. It helps me sleep, keeps me happy, and has turned out to be quite lucrative over the years.
2. What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
There is the usual: write everyday, don’t let rejection deter you, read as much as you can and so on. On top of all of that I would say set attainable goals. I hear people who want to have big sales numbers like James Patterson, Stephen King, or J.K. Rowling. The top tier writers are talented but they also had luck on their side (they submitted the right stuff at the right time). The same goes for those who wish to write like Harper Lee, Truman Capote, or Hemingway. It’s a nice thought to have, but writers need to set goals based on their given talents. Not only are you more likely to hit these goals, you can take more joy in the success, and not get discouraged as easy.
3. Are there any writing resources, such as books or websites, you’d like to recommend?
I’ve always enjoyed On Writing by King, Zen And The Art Of Writing by Ray Bradbury, and of course The Elements Of Style by Strunk and White. On top of those I would also recommend 2K to 10K by Rachel Aaron. It’s only a buck and it is full of good ideas for writers with limited time.
4. What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?
That’s a hard one as I read a bit of everything. My favorite overall book is Tropic Of Cancer by Henry Miller, though I love a majority of what he wrote. As far as favorite type of fiction I would say something that is magic realism. I’m a huge Jonathan Carroll fan, along with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Phillip Roth, Haruki Murakami, Cormac McCarthy, Raymond Chandler, John D. MacDonald, Steven King, Chuck Bukowski, James Gunn, Jeff VanderMeer, and John Steinbeck.
5. What tips do you have for finding time to write?
Write in any time you have, period. Don’t wait; don’t think that you’ll get to it later. Read through 2K to 10K and use her techniques to speed up your writing. If you don’t feel like you have enough time cut something out. If you spend a lot of time on social media and its not for marketing purposes, stop. If you find that you are looking at your smartphone while watching something, it’s not worth watching. If you pointlessly surf the web, unplug your modem until you are done writing for the day.
6. Do you prefer to outline a story in advance or write on the fly? Why?
I use a combination. An idea strikes and I move it to the back burner to let it simmer. If the smell is still enticing after a day or so I move it back to the front to get cooking. Once I get the intro/setup going I do minor outlines to propel the story forward. I either outline in my head or write it out by hand. With novels it is a bit of the same though the outlines are a bit more involved and generally put into a word processing program as they can go on for 20-30 pages. I don’t stick too close to the outline if something better comes along I go with it. I find the combination of the two keeps me going. If the spontaneous writing slows, I switch to outlining and vice versa.
7. How do you deal with rejections?
Rejection is a learning process. Most rejections are form rejection editors are busy people. If it says “your piece isn’t right for our market,” it means a few things, exactly what is says (which means I submitted it incorrectly, or the reading I did wasn’t inline with the majority of what they publish), it means my writing stinks and I need to revise it, or it means my opening was weak and didn’t grab them. Rejection hurts but it can teach you something. Don’t tell yourself stupid things like “they don’t know what they’re missing,” they know. Instead, I look at the piece harder and read deeper into the next market. It’s ok to be saddened by rejection, but don’t bother getting mad about it, and never email the editor even if it is to say thanks for their time. You’d be wasting your time and theirs. Spend that time and energy rewriting or writing something better.
8. What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?
I set a variety of goals every year, kind of like resolutions only I work frequently to achieve them. My writing goals this year are to break into five new markets (I’ve hit two so far), submitting 50 short stories (I’m behind on this a bit I’ve only submitted about a dozen), and get one of my finished novels into the publishing process. Juggling a career, family, and a little bit of enjoying life puts a strain on these goals. But I find little spots here and there to try and squeeze as much as I can into.
9. For the next five years?
I used to have a long-term goal of writing professionally. I do that now so I have to look for different long-term goals. I would like to see some of the novels I’ve written make it to the published light of day. I also have ideas for comic books/graphic novels, television shows, and video games that I’d love to get into production at some point in the next few years. But at the beginning of each year I reassess and decide where to go from there. So I’ll wait and see where I am in January.
10. Is there anything you’d like to plug? Feel free to share a link.
I have a blog at http://wordsandsquiggles.blogspot.com. It basically lists various publications I’ve made over the years and some of my thoughts along the way. Check it out. I also do a lot of writing for Perihelion Science Fiction (http://www.perihelionsf.com), where I’m the Game Critic, New Myths Magazine (https://sites.google.com/a/newmyths.com/nmwebsite/) where I’m the Book Review Editor, and I do work for Buzzy Mag (http://buzzymag.com) from time to time. They are wonderful magazines and worth checking out.