Today Author Diego D. Lomax shares his success story of how he overcame doubt and dyslexia to finish his manuscript.
My questions are in bold, Diego’s follow in plain text
About Diego D. Lomax
I am a child of the ’80s, a teenager of the ’90s, and a huge fanboy; a hopeful writer who refuses to grow up.
My love for reading books started with The Little Vampire in Love by Angela Sommer-Bodenberg when I was in junior school and I quickly read all the ‘Little Vampire’ series I could find in my local library. In comics, I started, like most British boys my age, with the ‘Beano’ and ‘Dandy’. As I grew older, I moved onto Anne Rice’s Vampire series and the Judge Dredd comics.
I have always tried to write from an early age despite my dyslexia. It didn’t help that I was not diagnosed with it until I had left school, so I was just known as a poor speller, bad hand-writer and grew increasingly frustrated at my inability to get the words I knew in my mind onto paper.
When I finally got tested it became more about dealing with it and recognizing when it was my dyslexia and when it was just general ignorance. Even now I have my ‘dyslexic moments.’.
After that life got in the way.
It has taken 15 years for me to write again and now I have my first complete manuscript: Flying — Book 1 in the Dreams of Dragons Saga.
How did you get started in your career?
Back at school, I wanted to be a writer, writing comic strips and vampire stories in my spare time. I still have one I wrote when I was nine or ten. My first ‘real’ complete novel came when I was thirteen, an erotic story about my friends in a hotel.
It was awful. More like a soft-core movie with the thinnest of plots (I was a horny teenager). Despite its terrible premise, style, and plot my friends loved it and it was passed around our school (bear in mind this was in the prehistoric days of no broadband or smartphones).
People I didn’t even know were reading it and passing it around. In fact, a couple of years later, a former girlfriend who was from another school told me she too had also read it and it had traveled around her school as well.
Throughout my school life, I struggled with spelling and grammar as they were well below the average though my intellect was high, and I was an avid reader if a little slow. It wasn’t until I was in college that I was diagnosed with dyslexia.
I think it was this lack of confidence in my skills which is why I never took the craft any further as I always thought I was never good enough; writing wasn’t a thing for people like me.
In my twenties working at another dead-end job, doing twelve-hour nights at a plastic box factory, I kept myself from going crazy with boredom by writing in my head. A had a kernel of an idea come to mind one day about a final battle: six verse six million. From that, I worked backward. Who were these people, how would or could they win? How did they get there? And so on.
Another near decade past and the story just remained in my head until my last girlfriend (fed up of me moaning about wishing I was a writer but never actually doing anything about it) brought me a leather-bound notebook and laptop and told me to write. So, I did.
Starting at the end and working backward. A year of planning and rough drafting and I had created my own world. Another year of rewrites and editing and finally I had my complete manuscript.
It wasn’t picked up, so I gave up on it for another year. In that time, I took a short writing course and from which I learned why it failed. Taking the advice from the coursework I revisited it and improved it greatly. It was a mammoth 184,000 words — far too long for a depute novel from an unknown author.
I hacked at it until I got it to a more manageable and tighter 140,000. Still rather long though it is an epic fantasy so there are allowances made for larger word counts as there is much world building.
What does a typical day look like?
I get up at about 10 a.m. First few hours is online presence work: spend an hour or two on Twitter, checking notifications, following new people, liking posts, replying to people, setting my posts up for the day and so.
This is followed by gift opening on Pokémon Go and email account checking. Then lunch at about 1 p.m. where I try to take a break from screens for an hour (usually ends up being only half an hour).
I have to set an alarm to remind me to eat as I am awful at losing myself in whatever I am doing and forgetting to eat. Once fed I carry on writing my current work-in-process or editing. This takes me up till about five-ish then I eat again.
Afterward, I go on Pokémon Go hunt for two or three hours (my only real exercise). When my batteries start to die, I return home and back on writing or editing until usually midnight. After that, it’s binging TV series or movies.
That is if I am having a good productive day. As I have not been published yet I feel guilty if I am not doing something towards that goal.
When I finally get published, I will do away with mornings all together as I much prefer writing through the night.
Sleep. Pokémon Go. Vodka. Try to write a blog post. Vodka. Bit of writing. Movies. Sleep. Repeat.
What is one thing you have learned from being successful?
Not applicable yet.
Is there a mistake you have made starting out that you wish you could change?
Yes, my internet presence. I wish I had started to seriously build an online following when I first started writing so that now I am near ready to query, I would have a larger fan base to advertise myself to.
As a result, I am now trying to catch up. I haven’t done too bad though. In the last couple of months of serious presence/brand building, I have managed to get a few followers.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
It’s a cliché, but it is a good one: write, write, write. Oh, and build your internet following.
Also, have faith in yourself. Everyone had a story inside them, even if it is just your life story, and every story has an audience. You will find yours, just try.
Professionally what are you most proud of?
My first manuscript. Despite, and in spite of, my dyslexia I have managed to write a complete story with a beginning, middle and end. 140,000-word labor of love.
Filled with blood, sweat, and tears. It is the accumulation of decades of planning and plotting. The history I built of the world stretches from the big bang to the big crunch and all in between. There is stuff in my worlds bible that may never get used or referenced but I have it just in case.
Looking back on your career, is there something you learned from the industry that you found surprising?
There is always something else to learn. The industry seems to always be evolving and changing. I am trying to go traditional publishing route though there is a massive upsurge in self-publishing recently thanks to how easier it has become.
What advice would you have for people that are having difficulty making it in the industry?
Study. Study advice sites. Study what other writers have done. Read about the art of writing. Read how-to guides.
If you can, take a writing course (it helped me). They might give you the little tricks you need to make a killer story work. Above all else, have faith in yourself. If it is your dream, go for it. You will only regret it if you never try.
Do you have any tips for people trying to make it in your field?
If your writing epic fantasy, create your world from scratch. Create every little detail. Make a bible of all the history, details, languages, cultures, religions, creatures, diets, even house and city plans.
Everything you can possibly think of so that when your writing away you have a ready source to refer to.
If you could recommend one book to help people be more successful what would it be?
When it is published, my book! No, I joke. I haven’t read many books on writing. It is more online sources such as my idol, Neil Gaiman.
For my fellow dyslexics out there (and anyone else who struggles with the daily fight with grammar and spelling), I use three different grammar and spelling programs, yet I still find more errors when I reread it again.
Word only goes so far, and you would be surprised how much it misses.
I then use Grammarly (I have only ever tried the free service. I am too tight to pay for it yet), before my third checker Scribens
It looks very basic but they have a ton of options on there including overuse of certain words and it highlights them so you can see the frequency of there use as well as offering solutions and the rules behind the grammar errors. I highly recommend it.
Any upcoming projects you are working on?
For NaNoWriMo I am working on a paranormal-dark-comedy-thriller called God of the Fishes. It is about a man and his pet goldfish trying to save the universe from the evil Morningstar.
What does your social media strategy look like, any tips?
Twitter is my main strategy. I researched how to make Twitter work for you as an author before making an attempt. Make your bio interesting. Keep it short, sharp and to the point with a little bit of humor.
If you can get a couple of hashtags in there as well even better as people search by hashtags and it will increase your chances of getting seen.
Have a profile picture. Doesn’t even have to be a picture of you (mine isn’t). Without a picture, it just doesn’t look right. Same with the top banner as well.
Keep it professional, i.e. no political or religious talk unless that is what you are writing about. At the same time do not harp on about your work.
This puts a lot of people off. Make sure you have interesting tweets. I try to have a couple of funny ones, a writing tip one and then one about whatever I am working on. (Like during November I post updates on my WIP for NaNoWriMo).
Don’t forget to retweet others. They are more likely to retweet you or at least like your stuff and so introducing your account to their followers. Follow at least fifty people a day.
You have to work the odds. Not all fifty will follow you back but some will. Build up your following steadily. It takes time so don’t take shortcuts like buying followers or using bots. They are empty accounts.
You want real people to follow you, so you have a real audience to sell your work too. Also, when choosing whom to follow, check out there follower-to-followed ratio. If they follow more than they are followed by they are more likely to follow you back. If it is the other way around it means they are less likely.
New accounts are more likely to follow you as well. Use hashtags such as ‘#writing’ ‘#writers’ ‘#amwriting’ ‘#writingcommunity’ to search so that the people that pop up will have the same interests as you and will also be writers and so looking to increase their following.
I also have a WordPress site where I advertise my upcoming book and have a progress section letting my followers know what stage it is in.
I use this site to post blogs about writing, writers, review of series, movies and personal posts about myself and occasionally essays on subjects that interest me.
Any mistakes you see people routinely make with social media?
Lack of bio or interesting one. Lack of profile picture. Always tweeting basically ‘buy my book’ and not following back. Twitter has the 5000 following rule (used to be 2000): once you are following 5000 plus, you can’t be following 10% more then you are followed by. For example, if you follow 5500 accounts, you need 5000 following you before you can add more.
Once I get to 2000, I will go through them and remove those that don’t follow me back (except celebrities as they are different). I will do the same when I get to 3000, 4000, and so on.
Where can people connect with you online?
Do have any apps, books or tips that you use to be more productive?
I always have a notebook and pen next to my bed ready for any crazy dreams I had or thoughts. I use the notebook app on my phone as well for either typing up anything I thought of or the voice recorder element of it to record myself a message if I am in too much of rush to type it.
I also find setting a realistic schedule helps me. I used to lie to myself and say I would get up at 8 a.m. every weekday and start at 9. This never happened, and I was just tired and cranky and unproductive all day.
Eventually, I was honest with myself about not being a morning person and amended my schedule. Another thing I do is have a list of things to do.
For example, if I am not feeling up to writing, I can edit, spell check, work on plot details, character details, twitter and so on so that I am always doing something towards my goals.
How do you manage time?
There is never enough time to do everything I want to do. I have a box filled with stories I want to write. I try to dedicate myself to writing and make myself feel guilty when I don’t.
It is also important to make time to relax otherwise it becomes a chore and you will not produce anything good if you are forcing it.
What is the best advice you have received?
Write, write, write and read, read, read. Also edit, edit, edit. When you think you have edited it enough, edit it again but learn to know when you have edited enough and send it off to beta readers for a fresh perspective.
Do you have any advice for people that may feel discouraged about reaching their goals?
Look at J. K. Rowling. She went from being rejected dozens of times before, finally, someone took a chance on her and now she is crazy famous.
Sylvester Stallon was so broke when he wrote Rocky, he had to sell his dog. When the script was finally picked up, he had to fight to be in it as the studio didn’t want to take a chance on an unknown, now look at him and the Rocky franchise.
How import is fitness to success?
For me, my exercise is walking the dog and playing Pokémon Go. It gives me the chance to take a break plus stops me from becoming fused to my chair!
I find that bit of physicality gives my subconscious time to work on anything I am stuck on in the story, character or book names, and so. It is good to let the subconscious work on these things.
Do you enjoy working out? If not, how do you get motivated?
I really lack the willpower to work out properly. I like yoga and weight training but yeah, effort. Pokémon Go motivates me to walk about as I am a gamer with slight OCD for completing stuff and with Pokémon Go, you have to leave the house and walk about otherwise you will not get anywhere.
Plus, it is impossible to ever really complete it. I lie to myself and say I will start going to the gym. Still hasn’t happened yet.
If I ever make millions, I might pay for a personal trainer to give me that kick. In truth, I will probably just buy a yacht and bob about in the Caribbean.
Do you have anything you would like to promote or tell us about?
Keep an eye out for Flying — Book 1 of the Dreams of Dragons Saga, an epic high-fantasy about D’harn’s quest for revenge against the demi-demon of blood, Ziumite and the Golden Queen, while discovering love and dealing with lose.
Follow him as he brings balance to the worlds and hope to a hopeless, damaged land.
What is the one thing you wish everyone knew?
My name and my book. One day they shall.