How to Become a Novelist (Part 1): Write a Novel

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be posting some info on how to become a novelist.  Here’s the first, an infodumpographic and general Q&A on the first step — write a novel.

Why?  Well, careful scientific studies have revealed that the number one reason for not having a novel published is, in fact, not finishing a novel.  A lot of writers struggle to get past this step, but I hope this information helps.


How big is this mountain I must climb? (How long is a novel?)

Are we there yet? (How long does it take to write a novel?)

How many millions will I make from my books and movie deals?

Seems easy enough, you just … Oooo, cat videos!

Don’t Stop Believin

Is a novel like a long short story?

I finished! Now what?

Writing a Novel


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Clarion West Write-a-Thon 2015 Edition

It’s that time again!

You want great fantasy and science fiction? Help support the development of future writers. Knock knock. Hello. My name is Randy Henderson. I’m asking for donations to Clarion West, a totally awesome intensive writing workshop for speculative fiction that has been called a “boot camp for writers.”

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE. For the first 10 people who register with the Carl Brandon Society (at as a paying member), announce it and let me know about it, I will donate $10 each to the Clarion West write-a-thon on your behalf. The Carl Brandon Society supports and increases the representation of diversity in our genre’s content, creators, and fans, and offers a scholarship every year to an attendee of Clarion West, so it is a great way to ensure your donation dollars produce the maximum benefit.


San Andreas the Oscar Contender

WHAT? I looked at the critic reviews for San Andreas on Fandango and was surprised to see this as the first review:

“The film is so unusually moving and penetrating because it refuses to cloud its emotions in distancing irony, anger, or nihilism.”

WHAT? Is this movie completely more interesting and deeper than I assumed? ::Scrolls through more reviews:: Oh. Nope. Fandango is showing reviews for Sisterhood of Night on the San Andreas page by accident. What a DISASTER! And totally Fandango’s FAULT for misleading me! (HA! Get it? Disaster? Fault? Oh man, I slay myself). But seriously, I’m sure this will be an incredible emotional journey exploring the human condition and explosions and shite. So I was inspired to create an updated movie poster.

San Andreas the Drama

Only the Rock could truly explore the depths of the San Andreas.


Finn Fancy Book Tour Wrap Up

Here finally is a wrap up of my book tour experience for Finn Fancy Necromancy — the good, the awesome, and some lessons learned — not only to say thank you to everyone who helped or attended, but also to maybe help those who are trying to plan their own book tour.  This is way overdue, I know.  And I’ll do a separate post about promotion in general.

Randy at Gatsby Books

Randy at Gatsby Books, LA

I figured I’d talk about how I set up the tour, how I promoted it, then share some pics, and a list of the bookstores.

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My Reddit Fantasy “Ask Me Anything”

I have an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit’s /r/Fantasy forum!

Reddit Fantasy


My Norwescon Schedule 2015

Hey all!  I’ll be at Norwescon this weekend, hope to see you there!

Here’s my scheduled events (not including individual workshops):


Cascade 1
Saturday 1:30pm–2:00pm

“Finn Fancy” Fun Time with Randy – Randy will read a bit from his new novel from TOR, titled FINN FANCY NECROMANCY, do a little dance (Q&A), make a little love (PRIZES!), and get down tonight (TREATS!). Finn Fancy is a dark and quirky contemporary fantasy set in Port Townsend, with sasquatch mercenaries, mobster gnomes, and more. Randy might also read something new, demonstrate miraculous powers, or at least juggle. It’s not just a reading, it’s Finn Fancy Fantastic Fun Time!. Rated PG


Panel: Character Arc, Plot Arc, Story

Evergreen 1&2
Saturday 5:00PM-6:00PM

Knowing how your plot and characters change as the tale moves forward helps a writer to craft more powerful stories. What makes a great character arc, and how can you make your character’s internal change more compelling? What makes a great plot arc and how can you intertwine it with your character?

Nina Post (M), Randy Henderson, Craig English, Nancy Kress, Alex C. Renwick, Susan DeFreitas


Reading Tempest’s Challenge as a Writer

I haven’t weighed in on Tempest’s challenge because others said what I would have said quite well.

But this morning as I read yet another bit of concern over it, I realized that many people who are reacting to it are writers (and many who are reacting negatively are white male writers who fear this is an attack on their writing and/or livelihood), and for writers, there is an obvious solution: treat it as a writing critique.

If someone tells you that there’s something wrong with your story, you should not take it as a condemnation of who you are, it is a critique of the problems in the story.

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Using Your Writing Brainergy Wisely

Brainergy.  It’s not a new agey thing, or a result of midichlorians.  It’s just my word for measuring how fresh and alert and energized my brain is feeling.  And I believe learning to organize your writing schedule around your brainergy is very useful for writers.

Basic Writers Brainergy Chart

Basic Writer’s Brainergy Chart (more below)

Alas, I am not independently wealthy and writing this from my Super Writer Cave hidden beneath stately Henderson Manor.  I have to work full time, and I try to spend quality time with the people (and pets) I like.  I also have myriad other little life distractions.

So people sometimes express surprise at the amount of writing that I get done (not that I’m anywhere near Jay Lake levels or anything).  And it isn’t just the writing, of course, but the fact that I actually find time to finish and polish and submit my writing, and do all the other work that goes with being a writer.

One of the tricks I’ve learned is to not simply make a “To Do” list of things I want to get done, but to schedule them, and more importantly, schedule them smartly.

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Setting Your Goals for the New Year and Beyond

Happy New Year!

Rather than share events from my past year, I thought I’d offer a bit of encouragement and advice to help with the coming year.  While this is aimed primarily at my fellow writers, it also, I think, can be applied to life in general.

This weekend, I encourage you to sit down and do three things:

1) Create a calendar/schedule for your goals and tasks.

2) Create, or update, your list of goals and tasks.

3) BELIEVE and do what makes you happy.

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Finn Fancy Duran Durancy

I am pleased and excited to announce that FINN FANCY NECROMANCY will also be published in the UK!!! By Titan! I will, of course, need to brush up on my UnitedKingdomish so that I can read the translation, but I am pretty dang chuffed! And I think their cover is awesome, a perfect balance to Tor’s.

Titan's UK Cover for Finn Fancy Necromancy