7 Things I’ve Learned As A Writer

Hey everyone, I’ve got a new vlog for you all! =)

Since (by my own judgment) I kind of suck at talking to a camera and may have fumbled a couple points, I wrote a basic outline that goes a little more in-depth than the video:

  1. Accept criticism of your work. Let’s face it. If you’re not willing to listen to what readers have to say about your work, you will never develop yourself as a writer. This can be a bit of a balancing act at first, but you have to learn to weigh what is most beneficial to you. There will always be self-righteous trolls out there ready rip apart your work for stupid reasons, but the good thing is that you get the final say and you don’t have to listen to that shit. Only accept what your think would make your story stronger.
  2. Read more. It will make you a better author. This should go without saying. And when I say read, I don’t mean Buzzfeed or Cracked articles (unless of course that’s who you’re writing for), I mean read actual books. Read many books, and in different
    genres and points of view. Not only will it strengthen your prose and dialogue, but it will also expand your horizons and help you see what is necessary to build stronger characters andan addicting narrative. Plus you may find yourself coming up with ideas in a genre you hadn’t previously considered writing in before.
  3. Characterization is everything, because characters drive the plot. This isn’t necessarily something I’ve ever had a problem with, because most of the stories I read deal with strong character development.I also watch people a lot and I think watching a lot of movies has really helped me develop good, strong characters and dialogue. Dialogue is actually one of the first things I write for my story when I’m constructing a scene, and sometimes I’ll even pace around my room like a crazy person trying to act out that scene. But that’s not because I’m insecure or nuts about it, I’m just emotionally moved by it, and strong characters are what I base my entire plot around. Think of characterization as the Force from Star Wars. It’s always there, surrounding everything, but you can’t see it. That’s what strong characterization does. Then the action comes, and it changes them from within, and they react. Given the Force and inner workings of your characters, how do they react? Strong characters are essential for telling a story worth reading.
  4. If you love it, stay in it for the long haul. I can’t tell you how many artists, writers, and musicians I’ve seen quit at this just because they didn’t know how to build an audience, or decided that just because one part of their story or song was crap, they
    should just throw out the entire thing. But your creations are, for better or worse, a mental and emotional extension of you. In effect, they’re your children. And you don’t throw out the baby with the bath water, do you? You don’t throw your kid out on the street just because they slipped up once. Writing a story, just like with any kind of art and even parenting, is about loving and nurturing your creation and seeing it through. So if you really love to write, don’t quit! It’s a vital part of you and I promise that with enough love and dedication, it will get better and you can do anything!
  5. Write in multiple points of view. It will expand your horizons. The fact is, most writers typically start in first person, just because it’s easier to put yourself in your character’s shoes and write his or her thoughts down. Basically, like writing a diary. The problem with this is that first person is a very hard point of view for newbie writers to pull off effectively. For one, you’re not able to see what anyone else is thinking, and two, your entire world will be colored by your character’s perception of it. You have to show equal parts introspection as well as outside action. That’s not to say that you can’t tell a great story with that point of view, but it’s important to be aware of the benefits and limitations that each perspective comes with. I for example wrote my first two books in first person, and while it worked for those stories, I realized it wasn’t going to work for my current story. I decided to try third person limited POV, and while it was a little awkward for me at first, I’ve gotten incredibly comfortable with writing in that style, and my story is much better as a result. So don’t limit yourself.

  6. Remember to write and read with cultural diversity in mind. AKA, #CheckYourPrivilege. Hopefully, you’re not racist, misogynist, or a hater of LGBTQ people. I cannot stress this enough, because it’s a question a lot of straight, white, male authors seem to struggle with. There’s a good quote a friend of mine said a while back, and that is “it takes effort not to be racist”. My point here is that if you’re a white, straight author and your stories don’t include women, people of other ethnicities, sexual orientations, or gender identities, you’re being ignorant and your stories will probably be boring. Consider that it is possible to be ignorant by omission as well; if you’re not including the physical descriptions of your characters and you are a white author, it’s generally assumed your cast is white unless noted otherwise. If you are genuinely concerned with how to remedy this problem, I highly suggest visiting a Tumblr called Writing With Color that will tell you pretty much everything you need to know on how to write with cultural diversity in mind.
  7. Make friends with other authors. Seriously. There are way more of us than you think! Especially indie authors, who need your support the most. Plus there’s nothing more beneficial to your writing than making a few friends who might help you edit and beta read your work. So get out there and make some author friends, because they’re literally all over Twitter. Join a writers group! Even if there aren’t any in your local area, there are plenty you can find online. Sign up for NaNoWriMo. I know that’s in November, but its extension site, Camp NaNoWriMo, is going on all throughout the year to help keep you motivated. You can make personalized writing goals and keep in touch with groups of other authors just like you. You literally have nothing to lose. Even if you’re as painfully introverted as me.

    So those are my Top 7 Things I’ve Learned As A Writer, and I hope they help you too =)


My First Vlog!

Hey guys! So recently, I discovered an insanely awesome and down-to-earth author named Jenna Moreci, and she is friggin’ amazing! She gives frank and very helpful advice to other writers, and she has become both my go-to resource for writing tips as well as one of my favorite YouTubers.

And because I was so inspired by her and what she does and how she’s marketed herself–resulting in great success and a following of diehard fans–I decided to start a vlog myself to talk about my writing and various other topics of interest related to it.

So without further adieu, I give you my first vlog =) I know it may not be the greatest and I have to get more comfortable in front of a camera and I need to clean my room, all that jazz. But I’m super pumped and excited for it. Check it out! I’ll be putting out new videos every Monday!

The Hatred of Change, and Writer’s Frustration.


It is no secret to those who know me that I abhor healthy routines. If there is any length of time during which I manage to drag my stubborn ass onto the path of eating healthy, sleeping normal hours, using the gym membership I waste $20 a month for, paying bills on time, and being a normal, sociable person who actually takes time for interaction outside of work, it is inevitable that I will screw it up somehow.

And I can feel myself slipping, every time. The nights get progressively longer, until eventually I’m going to bed in the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes I’ll get fed up and reprogram myself by staying up for 48 hours until I’m exhausted enough, but lately I find myself incredibly stubborn. I do this even though I know I feel at least 70% better about life on a regular schedule.

I make a lot of excuses for why I don’t go out anymore. “I have to write,” I’ll tell myself. Or “I have to finish working on this song”. And then months go by, and life passes by and very little of it really gets done.

All of that seems to be changing lately. Not the stubborn habits, but my work ethic. I now have two web serials going, Burntown which is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi teen drama amalgamation (that I haven’t worked on in over a year but just decided hey, let’s see if anyone likes this weird thing), and Adventures in Viktorium, a dystopian sci-fi series which is much better written and is more planned out.

Guess which one is now getting the most attention since I just dumped all these posts into it last night? Of course. Burntown.

But I am not particularly proud of Burntown. The writing isn’t the best. It’s horribly planned out and needs editing. It straddles a few lines, ranging from major teen drama and social issues to post-apocalyptic, and then later on I blast the characters off into deep space. Strangest story ever.

And yet somehow, Adventures in Viktorium, which I am currently writing in the arena of 4,000 words a day for, is getting no traction at all. I wanted feedback on it most of all.

That’s one of the most incredibly discouraging things for me as a writer and music producer. It has been for a long time. How can I be this creative and yet have no audience? All I want is feedback. I feel like a tree falling in a forest that makes a sound, but no one’s around to hear it, so it’s as if that sound does not exist–even though I know it does, because I made it.

Maybe it’s that I’m still waiting for that “magic hand”, so to speak to drag me out of obscurity–which is also why I haven’t looked for a better day job–but I am slowly getting better at tearing away from that mindset and working on my own luck. I’ve recently been talking to a successful author named Travis Simmons, and while he isn’t world famous by any means, he makes an actual living off his writing (or otherwise things involved with writing). That’s pretty what I want to do, and he’s given me a few pointers. I don’t need to be famous (nor would I want to), I just want to make a living doing what I love.

But I wonder why it even bothers me that I get no attention–I think it may stem from my childhood. My dad didn’t really spend a whole lot of time with me since he’s a pastor, and even now that I’m 29, we don’t have the closest relationship. It’s been hard all my life to find people willing to listen to me, because I was usually the one listening to everyone else and helping them with their issues, to the point I never helped myself.

And now somehow, I must break free of that mindset. I must make a change. I just wish I felt some sort of validation, or knew how to go about validating myself as a human. A rite of passage, as it were. It feels pathetic to want attention. But I don’t think the general wanting of anything is bad in itself. It’s good to want, and it’s okay. But I don’t think it’s okay to want out of lack for something, or to fill a void. You should want because it’s good, because it is already yours, because you already feel blessed. You should want for others, and want because of the experience of having.

Life is transient after all, and short. To quote one of my favorite bands Circa Survive, accomplishments are transient.

Maybe that’s what I have to get back to. The one thing I always used to hate about the Lehigh Valley where I now live is that everything in it seems transient; the people, the businesses, the friends, everyone just passes through. We’ve become somewhat of a tourist destination in recent years, and this is no more evident than in our interpersonal relationships.

Still, maybe it’s time I embraced the transience, the impermanence of everything. What would happen if I did that? I wonder…

Buddhist monks painstakingly create these beautiful, intricate sand mandalas, then toss them into the river when they finish. It serves as a reminder of the transience of life.

I’ve wanted to cultivate my spiritual self forever, but like everyone else in this media/internet-saturated world, I “haven’t had the time”.

What if I stopped focusing on the how? What if I stopped looking for validation? I love what I write. I do it because I like to think that through the sharing of myself, I can help others. I can give them an escape.And through it, I escape also, as I learn to love myself.

Fate will find me. We are all walking universes made up of the literal collective past of the cosmos. I do not hold a universe inside me just to collapse. But even if I do, I am reborn. We are all transient creatures, helping each other along through the motions. My words should be a narrative of that. They will find the people who need them most.

Yes. I think that will be my philosophy from now on. Don’t look for the readers, because then all you’re looking for is validation. Your words will find them. Keep pressing on.

Embrace the transience.

House of Rats (Part 2) is now available to read!

The latest installment of my web serial, Adventures in Viktorium, is up now for your reading pleasure here =)

I have to say that it’s going in a couple unexpected directions, but that’s the beauty of writing; nothing is final until you type it down (or use a pen, if that’s your chosen method…I almost miss using them). Though you may plot it perfectly and have characters planned out to a tee in your head, sometimes they just do what they want to do and reveal what they wish at different times. It’s interesting to me how the visual is a constantly evolving thing as well. I started off looking at the maze of the city environment, knowing where everything was. Suddenly there are canals and bridges and statues popping up in the most unexpected places, and building floor plans have changed. But that’s okay, because I don’t think I’ll be providing a map for readers (as of yet…I’ve been experimenting with different web applications, but I haven’t found much that satisfies me yet).

Lucien is going to end up being one of my favorite characters, I can see it already! Crafty bastard, that one. In addition, I’ll also be including some scenes with characters who up until now have been background voices, i.e. Benoit Laurent and Constance Renou. The mayor will also make an appearance soon.

I adore my cast of characters.

This web serial is probably the single greatest thing I’ve ever done for my writing productivity, ever. I used to struggle to pound out 1,000 words per day and now suddenly I’m cramming in 3,000-4,000 on average on my days off work. That is so far beyond what I would have previously expected of myself. I’m learning to be a confident writer, it’s awesome!

Anyway, it’s my bedtime. But if you haven’t yet, please do check out my web serial and give me some feedback on it! I’ll need it because I’m planning to launch Kindle versions of it in the near future with maybe a few extras included, not 100% sure yet.

Also, I promise I’ll try to post on this blog more. I know I’ve been pretty lazy with it, but I’m trying more to keep up with Adventures in Viktorium.

Later for now!

The first chapter in my post-apocalyptic sci-fi series “The Burntown Chronicles” is FREE on Kindle until Saturday =)

From today until Saturday, you can get the first part of my monthly post-apocalyptic science fiction serial The Burntown Chronicles free for your Kindle here =) Get it fast, I’ll be putting out the second part very soon!


July, 2021. When the small rural town of Kentsburg, Mississippi finds itself cut off from the rest of the outside world following a terrible thunderstorm one evening, no one thinks much of it, although several teens can recall seeing flashing red lights on the horizon just before the power went out. The next morning, even stranger things begin to happen.

Nobody’s car will start, clocks are frozen, and all cell phones are mysteriously dead. Then come the circular drones that some farmers have started digging up in their fields–heavy devices which house a plethora of deadly weapons to kill anyone who interferes with them.

In the days following the aftermath of what many refer to as “The Shock”, an unlikely young antihero named Markus Huxley rises, eventually declaring himself de facto leader of a place henceforth known as “Burntown”. Influenced only by his haunted past and an unusual penchant for fire, the future of those who remain in Kentsburg under his reign seems uncertain.

With the town’s older residents dying off, the younger teens soon turn to drugs and alcohol in order to cope. And so the parties rage on, even as the world has seen fit to end in fire…

A Brief Introduction To Me & My Books

Hello everyone! So far, this makes blog #3 for me as an author. I do have one on Blogger, but I haven’t been using it lately. Truth be told, I’m more of a Tumblr guy, though that one is more of a personal/artistic endeavor than I intend this to be.

First of all, I suppose I should say a little about me. I’m currently 26, I live in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and I have been a writer and poet for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I decided to start writing seriously. I got into self-publishing thanks to the help of my dad showing me a newspaper article about Amanda Hocking, and I’ve since learned quite a bit about the publishing business thanks to authors like J.A. Konrath. Within the course of a year, I finished my first novel entitled The Orphaned Ones, from which the quote in my header is taken. I did release it for a time on Amazon Kindle to test the waters, but I have since taken it down for very rigorous comprehensive editing.

The Orphaned Ones will be the first book in a series of 7 planned full-length novels and 1 novella concerning a group of vampires known as Orphans who have been abandoned by their makers and are mercilessly hunted down by an opposing organization called the Council. Much of the story takes place in the midst of World War II, but the history of some characters extends back to the Dark Ages and all throughout time up until 1950.

The second book I wrote, Blue Car Racer, is a young adult fiction novel about bullying which takes place in a small rural town in the early 1990’s. Earlier this year, I entered it in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) contest for publication by Penguin Books. I was ultimately cut, but I’m still proud to say that Blue Car Racer churned ahead up to the semi-finals. It is currently available on Amazon Kindle here.

I can’t say that I really have a favorite genre to write in, though I find YA is the easiest. Horror is a bit more of a challenge for me, though I think it largely depends on what the writing style is and the time period in which it takes place. Science fiction has always been an interesting realm for me, mostly because it’s the first genre I really got into as a kid. I remember reading Star WarsThe Tripods Trilogy, some books from the Aliens franchise as well as Predator when I was in middle and high school.

Another series I’m working on is called The Chronicles of Burntown, which is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi story about a rural town in Mississippi called Kentsburg, but is later renamed Burntown by the main protagonist. All of their electronics and cars have stopped working after an unknown event they call “The Shock” occurred, and many of the kids’ parents have died off in the ensuing months. The teens take to drug and alcohol abuse as a means to cope. Meanwhile, some of them begin finding large circular devices planted out in the fields and attempt to piece together what happened. The concept is to construct a 10-part Kindle serial where each of the characters gets to be narrator.

You could say I already have a full plate with these ideas, but trust me, it’s more like a banquet! I suppose I’ve more or less been trying different things in the field of self-publishing because I refuse to believe that there is such thing as a set path to success in this business. I’ve seen many authors try a different approach, then another, then another. Ultimately, everyone will choose what works best for them. My latest approach is to stop all this madness of promotion and marketing I’ve been attempting, because for me, it takes away from writing anything else.

Some authors are self-publishing gurus, some promise to sell you their secrets for the low price of $79 per e-book/audio session/subscription/seminar, some give you great advice that works for under $2, some just say “keep Tweeting” or what have you.

What I’ve come to learn is that virtually NONE of these methods are 100% effective, because it all comes down to one person, and that’s YOU. You’ll find what works best for you on your own time. That’s my advice, and I’m not even successful yet, but I’m certainly learning =)

Anyway, this is me: Peter von Harten, a poet/author/cinephile/electronic musician/equal human rights activist/lover of Applebee’s half-price appetizers and microwaveable steamed-vegetable bags.

I hope you like what you’ve read so far (given that this first post is quite informal), because you’ll be hearing a lot more from me! =)

Current planned novel projects:

  • Otherworld series
  • The Orphaned Ones series
  • Providence, A.D. series
  • The Swarm
  • Fluke
  • Dr. Westley’s Child
  • The Women Who Write Letters
  • On Vulture’s Wings
  • Eristad, God Of The Underworld
  • 8mm
  • Gone By Nightfall short stories
  • The Chronicles of Burntown serial