Sunday, September 3, 2023

If you can write, then you can be a writer. Why this is anything but true?

Truth. What is it? Is it in the eyes of the beholder? Is it nonnegotiable? Does it have relevance? All significant questions when attempting to understand who you are as a writer. However, some might see these questions and take them to their literal meaning. Which can lead to a significant loss of self-esteem. Is it necessarily a positive thing to be so open and honest about your goals? Yes, it is if you want to reach said goals.

This was my dilemma in early 2015 when, after several months of my book stagnating at an insanely inferior position on sales list, I moved forward by not being consumed by bitter disappointment. I had made myself believe that as soon as my book hit the digital shelf, it would become the next bestseller. I had to work hard at getting out from under the shame of not achieving that goal.

Looking back now, it feels like so long ago and silly, but then I found myself near catatonic with writer’s block. It took all my will to put words to paper. I tell you all of this in service to the truth. Because if you find yourself in a similar situation, you must be truthful with yourself in order to overcome the feelings of self-doubt. Instead of the bad, you will need to focus on all the good that has brought you to this place. “Being able to focus, even though you are stressed, and get the job done gives you the knowledge that, no matter what happens, you can avoid internal musings and excuses. Doing what needs to be done, regardless of temporary setbacks, will make you proud of yourself. It also produces a secondary positive outcome, which is a greater ability to focus on the problem that caused the upset, because you won’t be thinking of what you haven’t gotten done.” (Goldsmith, 100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence (100 Ways Series))

Back then, I used one book that helped me crawl out of the morass: 100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence, by Barton Goldsmith, PhD. In his 2010 book, Mr. Goldsmith details many ways to recognize and overcome a lack of self-confidence. Each chapter building upon the last to ensure confidence necessary to achieve your goals. He discusses everything from how negativity kills confidence (Ch. 2) to just having a faithful pup curled at your feet while you work will boost your spirits and help maintain your focus (Ch. 98). As the title suggests, there are one hundred chapters to this book, though don’t let that ward you off. It is a quick read.

However, the first and the last chapters that have helped me the most. Both chapters offer a list that you can reference to help keep you on track and keep your spirits up. The first chapter lists of ten ways to get motivated for the day. Although, it is the list of ten in chapter one hundred that were, and still are, the most inspirational for me:

1.      Realize that self-confidence is easy to gain. But if you don’t have enough, it can make succeeding in life hard. All you need is desire and persistence.

2.      Do something for someone else. Helping others lets you know you are a good person and that you can use what you know positively.

3.      Knowing that you are a person of honor and integrity keeps you on a purposeful and positive path. Find the confidence within.

4.      Act “as if.” Acting as though life is already going your way allows you to physically and emotionally feel success.

5.      Find a mentor.

6.      Take care of yourself. Stay healthy, exercise, keep your energy high, and reward yourself appropriately for your achievements. It is for your psyche and your body. Get up and get moving.

7.      Experience. Having been there (and gotten the T-shirt) lets you know you can go there again and again. Even if it has been years, most things in life are like riding a bike.

8.      Keep a confidence journal. Just write five things you feel confident about on a daily basis.

9.      Build a support structure.

10.  Monitor your thinking. Think positive thoughts.

List from 100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence. (Goldsmith, 100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence (100 Ways Series))

With this list, I motivate and remind myself to ensure that, first-and-foremost I am a writer. Also, I aspire to be a writer of substance and acceptance. So, if you can write, you are a writer, if that is how you define yourself. No one can tell you otherwise, because it is only your opinion that counts.


[This is the end of part 2. Part 3 in the ongoing series will be available next week.]

Works Cited

Goldsmith, Barton. “100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence (100 Ways Series).” Barton Goldsmith, PhD. 100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence (100 Ways Series). Red Wheel Weiser, 2010. 18-19. Kindle Edition.

Goldsmith, Barton. “100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence (100 Ways Series).” Goldsmith, Barton. 100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence (100 Ways Series). Red Wheel Weiser, 2010. 217-219. Kindle Edition.

Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation. “One in Ten (Organization).”. 24 Apr. 2020 April 2020. 20 August 2023.

Womack, Ytasha. “Afrofuturism.” Womack, Ytasha. Afrofuturism. Chicago: Chicago Review Press. Kindle Edition., 2013. pp. 11-12.


Monday, August 28, 2023

I self-published my first book in 2014, then my self-confidence cratered

Part one in an ongoing series: Because you need to write more: Self-publishing and maintaining self-confidence.


Writing is hard. In many ways, it is the hardest thing I have ever attempted to do. Officially, I didn’t start writing until 2001. It was a form of self affirmation for me. I hard only been living openly as a gay man for a little over ten years, but I still did not feel that I was living my truth. The organisation named One In Ten held in conjunction with the LGBT film festival, a screenwriting competition.

 “One In Ten (OIT) is a non-profit, all-volunteer LGBT arts organization in Washington, D.C. Its largest program is Reel Affirmations, the third largest LGBT film festival (in terms of attendance) in the United States and the largest all-volunteer film festival in the world.” (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation) Like 99% of writers I had been writing off and on since a very young age, so it intrigued me. My life partner and friends encouraged me to enter. I spent several weeks writing the script for “Only Child.”


I entered the competition, but my script wasn’t considered, but the experience lit a fire that at the time I thought would never go out. Afterward, I wanted to know why, so I went back and studied the script and decided it was because of my lack of knowledge of narrative construction. In 2005, I started taking many classes and reading as many books on writing as possible. It paid off. The more I learned, the more confident I became. I started writing short stories, and before I knew it, I had about fifty saved on my computer. However, I couln’t get that first script out of my head. So, I revisited it again, and I decided I had more to say. I reworked the script into a novel and expanded the story over three books. The new series title “Only Child Trilogy.” Not exactly original, but I figured it’s a good working title. I could change it later if need be. Using the script as an outline, from 2007to 2009 I worked on the novel version renamed “A Only Child.”


When I finished, I submitted to several small publishers and received no responses. Not even a “we aren’t interested.” I felt disappointed when small publishers did not respond, so I opted to enter the manuscript into competitions instead. Still no interest. Instead of moving forward with the series, I kept reworking the story. I told myself that I needed to get it right before I could start the next book in the series. Not doing so meant more work done the line. I had ideas for the second book and, but I couldn’t bring myself to get them into an outline. By the summer of 2012, I had reworked the story to the exclusion of everything else that I could have been writing at least thirty times. So, I gave up on the series. Looking back on it now, I realized this was when the fruit of my confidence started to wither on the vine.


I returned to my short stories. It had been the last time I had felt completely confident in my writing. I began work on my short story collection, “A Brief Moment In Time.” I had a lot to choose from that covered several genres. However, speculative fiction is my true love, so I pulled from that stack for the collection. I picked six stories and wrote three new ones to finish out the collection. Each story was seven to ten thousand words long, so they would be more than enough to combine into a novel.


It is hard to portray how much work that I put into this collection. I did everything from writing to book design my self: I even created the cover. I did so much because I decided early on that I would self publish. When I made that decision, I did not know that so much work would be involved. Honestly, I to this day don’t believe that I did enough. This was born out when as I was working on my MFA and we covered how to promote your book. As the term progressed, I learned so much about book promotion that I didn’t even consider during and after the release of ABMIT. Had I known, thing would have been different, I am sure, but hindsight is 20/20, right?


As it stood, I lost my confidence after the release of ABMIT in 2014, because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I did what every novice, uninformed, self-published write does when they put their first self-published work up on sites like Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes and Noble: they upload, sit back, and just wait for the accolades and money to flow in because they’ve written the next amazing novel and everyone knows it.


At first, it felt like I had some traction. I did promotions on Amazon, Smashwords, and Goodreads. I sent out a hundred ARC’s (advanced reading copies) and held competitions on Goodreads’s where twenty readers got free books. Everything looked and felt good for about two weeks. Then the lack luster reviews started. And the sales that weren’t good from the start stopped. For a year, I obsessed over what I did wrong. I ended up selling nine books. What I could have done differently? Why didn’t get the accolades that I deserved? At no time did I think maybe I wasn’t ready to make that leap in to self-publishing.


My self-published collection’s lack of sales and mediocre reviews killed my confidence, and it took me eight years to reenter the writing headspace.


[This is the end of part 1. Part 2 in the series will be available next week.]

Sunday, August 13, 2023

 Take a walk with T.W. Spencer down the lane.

Let's walk down the lane to the house at the end and discuss.

Hello World, I am T.W. Spencer. This is my new blog, and I have a lot to say. I am a writer, after all. Let's take a short walk down to the house at the end of the lane. That is where you'll find everything you want about me and my writings. On the "My Tidbits" page, you will find free short stories you can download. On the "News And Events" page, get up-to-date info on interviews and events where I will appear. For the low, low price of adding your email address to my mailing list, you can get my newsletter for free once a month in your mailbox. So, let's walk down the lane together and get to know each other.

Author standing in front of books
T.W. Spencer is the award-winning author of the highly praised A Brief Moment in Time.

Let's walk down the lane to find more of what you seek.

T.W. Spencer is the award-winning author of the highly praised A Brief Moment in Time. A retired Mechanical Designer from The National Gallery of Art, in 2017, T.W. pursued a full-time writing career. Although T.W. has written since the third grade, writing didn’t become more of a profession than a hobby until 1990. Bitten with the writing bug, T.W. started writing daily and posting his stories online at and similar writing sites. T.W. Spencer has a BSAST in Technical Studies from Thomas Edison State College and an MFA in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University.

I make frequent posts, so come back for more.

You won't regret it. Let's walk down the lane to the house at the end and discuss. We can sit down, have a cuppa, and talk.
Leave a comment, or subscribe to my newsletter.

T.W. Spencer

Thursday, June 4, 2015

!!!!!!!Updates to the web site are forthcoming!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

New book cover for Compartmental Lives!!

Here is a sneak peek at the cover for my new novella "Compartmental Lives."
Be sure to read the 1000+ word excerpt from the novella in the previous post.


Haven't been here in a while. An Only Child has been put on hold for now. I just haven't been satisfied with the manuscript, so I decided to step away from it for a while.

But don't feel cheated. I have been working on my next book, "Compartmental Lives," another collection of short stories. Together the five stories are told by five different women about someone they all knew at a defining point in each of their lives.

This is the front cover tagline for the book:

Cooper Ross: Writer, early victim to AIDS. His Living Will summons five women to his deathbed. Meeting for the first time they must decide: hasten Cooper’s death or let him suffer as they have suffered.

Below is an excerpt from Wilma's Folly one of the stories within Compartmental Lives. If you would like to read Wilma's Folly in its entirity click the link above or here

Here is the 1000+ word excerpt from my forthcoming 35,000 word novella Compartmental Lives:

August 28, 1963

The Roxbury group met every Wednesday, just off Blue Hill Avenue in the back of Mr. Williams’ barbershop on the corner. They talked for long hours discussing and trading stories of their latest put down or slight. “It’s necessary,” Sister Williams always says, “to get it off your chest and out of your system. That way we can all think clearly and proceed to an adequate solution to our collective problems.”

But this Wednesday, August 28, 1963 the meeting was being held on the bus, and everyone was elated. The bus trundled down Interstate 95; the constant whir of wheels on macadam a nearly unnoticeable undertone of the never ending hymns led by Sister Williams. Raymond and his wife, everybody called her Sister, kept the spirits of the group alive. Even when Wilma herself thought she couldn’t bear being pregnant anymore, they were there keeping her delicate spirit afloat. I don’t know how she keeps from losing her voice.

Because of her condition, Sister Williams insisted Wilma sit towards the front. “Just in case we need to stop so you can take care of your business girl. We don't want any accidents on the bus.” Sister had said with a hearty motherly laugh.

Wilma smiled her assent; gingerly lowering her eight months pregnant body onto the seat. Wilma had always been a thin person, even though she had a near full term child swirling above her loins, no one could claim her large. Wilma didn’t take up much room on the bench seat, and so Doris Hopkins sat down beside her.

“Momma, if I have to go you’ll need to get up,” Wilma said with a smile.

“I know that I carried you didn’t I? You had me rushing off to the bathroom every five minutes.” Doris chuckled.

“Momma, don’t talk like that in front of everyone,” Wilma said blushing.

“Why? They all know, why do you think they want you up here?” Doris protested.

“Ain’t that the truth,” Sister Williams chimed in, “My Tyrone was a big baby.” As if anyone who saw Tyrone’s six foot seven, two hundred and fifty-pound physique wouldn’t have guessed. “The big ones wear you out with all the back and forth.”

Now, after having to stop five times on route so Wilma could waddle into the brushes, they were finally here and soon they would see him. Wilma didn’t know if she could take it, walking anywhere for any length of time made her tired, but she intended to try. They pulled into the prearranged parking area, which turned out to be the playground of an elementary school near Howard University. They got off the old white bus; its paint peeling and rust dotting the haul like blight. Wilma stood in the gleaming August sun. The dry blistering heat is beating down on her; evaporating her confidence, creating fissures in her resolve. I’m going to do it, even if I pass out from the effort.

In spite of the oppressive heat, the parking lot swarmed with jubilant rally goers all waiting for a shuttle bus to take them downtown. Wilma leaned against a pole, positioning herself within the minimal strip of shade. The air was stifling. After the shuttle’s arrival, Wilma stood first in line and was delighted to feel chilled air wash over her when the door slid open. Air Conditioned; what will they think of next.

Yes, it was a cliché, but it was appropriate. She only experienced conditioned air on the rare occasion that she went to a fancy building in downtown Boston. That isn’t often.

She stepped into the shuttle and took the first bench seat just like before. The air cooled her, calmed her, let her mind rest. The ten-minute ride lifted her spirits, only to have them dashed when they arrived at the drop off point; nearly a mile from the Lincoln Memorial. We won’t even be able to see Reverend King. The Capital building loomed behind them its bright-white dome gleaming in the too-bright August sun.

“What are we gonna do? You all want to walk as far as we can through this crowd?” Sister asked.

Before the others could answer, Wilma started to waddle away.

“Where are you going,” Doris asked.

“I didn’t come all this way to stand so far away. I came down here to hear and see the Reverend Martin Luther King speak.” Wilma yelled back as the others fell into step behind her.

As they walked determinedly winding their way through the growing crowd; sweat drenching her blouse. Payment for the exertion, but Wilma moved without looking back. The needle point of the Washington Monument pierced the unrelenting glare of the sun creating a shadow spire spearing a thin swath over the growing crowd. It allowed a small respite from the broad expanse of the sweltering, sun-drenched Mall. Wilma headed for the shade using it as a compass to traverse the Mall.

When she reached the crest of the hill at the base of the monument, Wilma realized that she had lost her group. At some point, they must have lost track of her in the crowd – which had grown in proportion to its proximity to the Lincoln Memorial – and she could not see anyone she knew anywhere. Wilma decided to move on and catch up with them later. She had to be more aggressive. They’ll let a pregnant woman through. She took a deep breath of the hot stale air, dabbing at her brow with a handkerchief that Sister had given her. Hoping against hope that bout of nausea roiling in the pit of her stomach was butterflies, excitement about seeing Reverend King.

Wilma swam deeper and deeper into the ocean of people. The massing crowd, squeezing and compresses into one sweltering collective of single-mindedness quietly demanding to be free of oppression. A multi-hued sea of faces, swirling around an island oasis of Reverends, movie stars, singers – pop, folk, opera, gospel – of the day. The Great Man himself standing calmly proud and confident on the dais; behind him, the greatest man – carved of marble stoically sitting – that ever walked on America’s blood-drenched soil. And from the moment those first four words of his speech were delivered with quiet strength, echoing Lincoln words, Wilma’s heart soared.

Her mind filled with dreams and possibility. Her soul danced to the musical cadence of his words. When she looked back at this moment, it would be this sweltering summer that gave unfathomable depth to his words, singing a soothing song of content. When by the end, those last five words were received with unrestrained, uproarious joy and applause; the heat blanketed Wilma. Hand to her head, trying unsuccessfully to stave off the dizzying euphoria. The child to be named Kenneth announced his impending arrival by drenching Wilma pelvis to ankles.

That was when one last truth descended upon Wilma’s increasingly disoriented psyche. She noticed one of ‘our White Brother’s’ that Mr. King spoke of for the first time since she and the others had arrived. He said, “Miss, are you OK,” and reached a hand for her just as she, stumbled, lost her balance, and it all faded away.

enjoy, and keep reading,

T. W. Spencer

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


The giveaway over at Goodreads is now over. 10 lucky winners are going to get a free copy of my book 'A Brief Moment in Time.' This the second giveaway this year. The first garnered 305 entries for ten copies. This giveaway was far more successful, having 511 entries to win ten books.

An Only Child is so close to being finished. I am still inline for the 4/30 release. Soon you will see a pre-order for the book on amazon and Smashwords. Keep checking back for new updates.

Will be picking up  Zephyr series. I'm looking forward to get Volume I stared. Volume I, II, II are respectively called Winds of Change, Forest of Stars, and Sand of Doom. The first book in the series is tentatively titled Captivation. The entire series will grow to a total of nine books, 3 volumes of 3 books each: It is a very ambitious undertaking for me, but the story is there and I have to get it out of my head.

So Work, Work, Work,

Talk to you later,