I can’t quite believe it, but not 2 minutes after I posted yesterday’s article, A Writer at Heart got it’s 100th follower!! Woohoo!
I didn’t know what to expect when I first created this blog, and seeing that number, seeing that there are over 100 people interested, that just totally blows my mind! Thank you to each and every one of you, you all rock! :D
It has definitely been a bit of a struggle for me. I’ve never been much of a social media person. I’ve had a personal Facebook page for quite sometime, but I rarely ever posted anything on it, not much more than some pictures from trips and such.
To go from that to having an author’s Facebook page and a blog was a readjustment that I definitely am still making (which was made apparent by my 3 month absence of new articles.) But I also love hearing from others, it always makes me smile when I see someone has liked or commented on one of my articles :)
I’ll keep going, I want to and I feel like I have to. I want to connect with readers as best as I can, and that means more communication. That has been one of the driving factors behind creating this blog, I want to reach out to readers, and be more than just a name on a book. Which, of course, would require a published book, but I’m still working on that part. That’ll definitely be coming!
So here’s to you all and to the next 100 – cheers! :)
So yesterday the Colorado Gold Conference hosted by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers concluded, and it was an amazing conference! I don’t even know where to begin! (and some voice in my head just went “From the beginning! Duh.”)
It was a whirlwind weekend packed full of epic goodness, I met so many incredible people and learned so much! Plus, there is some really good news about Chronicles of the Sentinels! Shall we call that foreshadowing and leave it until the end? As the good Belt said, “Dun dun duuunnnnn!”
There’s a lot to talk about, so bear with me!
Thursday Night – The Newbies
One thing I can say about the members of RMFW, they were all incredibly welcoming to all of us newbies! Starting with the night before the conference actually began. Kevin Wolf had sent out an invitation for any of the newbies showing up at the conference Thursday night to meet in the hotel lobby, and about fifteen of us showed up.
I was a bit nervous at first, but as I came down to the lobby and found a few of the other newbies sitting and chatting with Kevin, I was immediately welcomed by such warm, open people! Furthermore some of the bigger names for RMFW happened by while we were chatting and stopped to welcome us as well :)
When everyone was set and Kevin had given us some great tips, we went to the bar and had drinks together, exchanged business cards, and had a great time! While I had been nervous about the conference before, that night made me feel so welcomed and so confident that I had made the right choice to come!
Friday – Masters and Coaches
Something I actually didn’t realize, because I didn’t actually read carefully enough: the conference didn’t technically start in the AM on Friday. There were, however, Master Classes as they were called that started bright and early, 8AM. When I found out they were optional and cost extra, I happily paid for the “So You Want To Write a Series” class, and I was not disappointed!
I learned so much from speaker Susan Spann! This was a particularly helpful class for me because I have always written my stories as series, starting with my fan fiction. I seriously don’t know if I’m even capable of writing stand-alone novels! (Although that could be an interesting future challenge.) I know that what I learned from her will help me immensely in the days to come.
Shortly after that 4 hour class and a quick lunch (okay that was a lie, I forgot to eat lunch that day…) I had my pitch coaching session with Heather Webb. Naturally I was extremely nervous, and although I had prepared a pitch several days prior, when I sat down in front of her, my mind went completely blank!
But that was okay, because she started asking me questions about the characters and story and helped me come up with a much, much better pitch! More than that, as soon as I started telling her about Chronicles of the Sentinels, her eyes lit up, and she was immediately hooked! That is an awesome feeling when an established author who writes in a completely different genre finds your story idea intriguing :D
From there, I attended a couple of seminars, including an uplifting “Rejection is a Four Letter Word” seminar :)
Friday Dinner – I Found My Home
Friday night’s dinner was just as phenomenal! I ended up sitting at Heather’s table and met some phenomenal Historical Fiction writers. More than that, however, was the feeling that had started to build that day, and entered my conscious mind at dinner.
This is going to sound cheesy, but: I found my people! lol. Seriously, though, everything that had happened, I felt like I had found people who could truly understand me. I felt like I had found a home, of sorts. The funny thing is, about a half hour after I had that very thought, someone up on stage said something very similar :)
It occurred to me that I don’t actually know many writers in my personal life, or at least, I didn’t before now. To be surrounded by 400 of them?! And unlike the attitude I got from certain people at a certain university I attended almost a decade ago, everyone from every genre, including Literary Fiction, were open, warm, curious, and creative. Everyone accepted everyone else with open arms.
Why? Because we’re all writers. And I’ve learned just how special that really is :)
Saturday – Pitch #1
Saturday was another full day, 14 hours non-stop just like Friday, but it was a truly nerve-wracking day! Saturday was when I had my first pitch! *gulp* Worse than that, it wasn’t until 11:20AM, which meant I had the whole morning to freak out over it!
Thankfully my fellow writers came to my rescue :) When I entered that waiting room, the first thought I had was, “I’ve seen photos of things like this, when actors and actresses are waiting to audition for roles.” I sat down, and looked at the person next to me, who looked as nervous as I felt. So what did I do? “Hi, I’m Jon!” Just like I’d already done dozens of times at the conference.
Striking up random conversation with everyone around me soothed my nerves, and seemed to help them with the same :) When the time came, I was still nervous, of course, but the editor I pitched to, Kerri Buckley, was extremely friendly and patient! And while Kerri was not one who represented Fantasy, she encouraged me to submit to her coworker, and said she would tell him to expect me :)
After that I had lunch, where I met even more awesome people, and finished the day of conferences optimistic and quite happy!
Saturday Night – Who Needs 2 Forks?!
The dinner Saturday night was probably the most formal dinner I had ever attended. I’m not kidding, 2 forks, 2 knives, a dainty looking spoon, and some…interesting fancy meals. I felt wholly out of place in my Hawaiian shirt and jeans. But, as always, writers came to the rescue, and those at my table made me feel quite welcome :)
The Keynote Speaker was Mark Coker of the famous Smash Words website, an insanely fast-growing self-publishing eBook website! His speech was pretty inspiring in some parts, while other parts were a bit degrading to traditionally published authors, but all in all I was impressed. And there was one thing he said that I really loved hearing: printed books are not going away! There is an equilibrium being created between eBooks and printed novels, and for someone who has always dreamed of seeing a hard-backed copy of my novels, that’s good news :D
Sunday – The Big Day!
Sunday was when I had my 2nd pitch to the agent I was most looking forward to meeting: Lucienne Diver of Knight Agency! And thankfully, I was considerably less nervous after the incredible amount of support and interest I garnered from everyone throughout the conference!
I was totally unprepared for what happened next: I went in, met Lucienne, and at her request I dove right into my pitch. A minute later, it was done. Without blinking, she handed me her card and said, “Ok, I’d like you to send me 30 pages and a synopsis.” I was completely blown away, and I can only imagine the look of surprised glee on my face!! She wanted to see my work!!!!! An agent was interested in my novel! Wait, let me repeat that in it’s own paragraph for effect:
Lucienne Diver wants to see my work!
It was exactly what I had hoped for! :) There is more to that short, 10 minute meeting with her, but I’m going to save that for my next blog article: it deals with genre, target audience, and something about Chronicles of the Sentinels that I am most excited to share :D
After attending one more session about Theme, there was a final lunch with another inspiring speech, where I got to say goodbye to all of the fantastic friends I had met. I have to admit, as exhausted as I was by then, I was really sad to have to go. I felt like I was leaving my new home, just when I had found it.
Next, I have some work to do on Chronicles (again, more to come on that later! This is already a too-long article…) I am looking forward to submitting those 30 pages and the synopsis to Lucienne, and who knows, in a couple of years, my first novel may very well be on bookshelves!
No, scratch that, I’m not going to say may. I’m going to say will. In a couple of years, Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy will be on bookshelves all over the nation! The power of positive thinking, right? ;)
If you’ve made it this far, kudos! This turned out to be my longest blog article yet, but there is so much material for more articles.
To anyone who attended the event, and to RMFW, thank you for an amazing weekend, and for making me feel at home! :)
The first is an incredible milestone: 50 followers!! I can’t believe that after only a month (a month and 10 days to be exact) I’ve already reached this amazing milestone. When I first started my blog, I didn’t really expect to gain many followers, but I am pleasantly surprised. Thank you to everyone who has followed me through the start of this journey :)
The second is that I was nominated for two blog awards by Victoria Davenport (if you haven’t already checked out her blog, I highly recommend it!) They are the Very Inspiring Blogger award and the One Lovely Blog award!
This came as quite a surprise for me, but a welcome one :) There are rules I am encouraged to follow for these awards:
The Rules (or as Victoria said, they are more like guidelines :) So think of them like the Pirate Code!)
Thank and link the amazing person(s) who nominated you.
List the rules and display the award.
Share seven facts about yourself.
Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
If you’ve already been nominated for these awards, I’d say there’s no need to go through all of this again unless you really want to :)
Seven Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me
When I first started writing, I wrote a Star Trek story that involved me and all of my classmates. Keep in mind I was in 5th grade at the time, lol.
The first actual, proper novel I remember reading was The Hobbit. That probably doesn’t surprise anyone here ;)
I used to be very, very near-sighted until I had lasik performed.
For most of my life, I hated the idea of ever living in a big city. Now I live in one and love it! So much so that I don’t think I could ever move back to a small town again.
I took over 4 years of French (2 in high school, 2 and a half in college) but I have still never been to France.
I was interviewed by a web-hosted MTV show that was on a video game tour across the U.S. in 2007. I worked in a video game computer lab on campus at the time.
Now on to the nominations. This was not easy, there are a lot of really awesome blogs I’ve found over the past month! I also wasn’t sure if I was allowed to go outside of wordpress, so I stuck to ones I subscribe to on here.
One outside of WordPress I’d like to mention is writer Laurel K. Hamilton’s blog – I’ve never actually read her work, but a friend of mine recommended I check out her blog when I first started my blog, and I’ve enjoyed following her blog :)
I highly recommend checking out those blogs, they are all very awesome :) And I have to apologize, but it’s late and I need to get to bed, so I don’t have time at the moment to let them all know. A total cop-out, I know, but I have to work tomorrow :(
Thank you again to everyone for following and to Victoria for the nomination! You all are awesome!
As a writer I’m always on the lookout for something to inspire me and inspire others. After a discussion with Ivyon on one of her blog articles, I found a quote that resonated within me and thought I would share it with all of you who read, who write, or do both:
“One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.” – Carl Sagan
In a sense, that makes all of us who read time travelers. Even better, those of us who write build time machines :)
So I’m curious if any other writers out there have a favorite type of music they listen to while they write? Or a favorite artist/composer? Do you change up music depending on what kind of scene you write? For that matter, do you listen to music while you write?
Most of my writing these days is done at Starbucks and I usually don’t take my headphones with me. So that means whatever music they have on at Starbucks, that’s my soundtrack.
But there are exceptions. For instance for The Sword of Dragons book 1, when I wrote the last 4 chapters, all of which covered the final epic battle of the novel, I had assembled a playlist of my favorite battle songs from movies and video games. The songs in this list included:
Suicide Mission – Mass Effect 2
The Battle – Gladiator
Tenrai Divinity (parts 1 and 2) – Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children
Scorponok – Transformers
The Black Gate Opens – Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
There were more but those are the highlights :) One of my all-time favorite albums to listen to while writing is Adiemus. The very first album they did, anyway.
So everyone, please tell me what music inspires you! Whether its for writing, arts and crafts, or what have you, post it here! I’m very curious to know what everyone’s soundtrack is :)
Today I went to Starbucks and did something I haven’t done in what feels like a really long time: I read a novel.
I don’t think I’ve said it yet in my blog, but Starbucks is my favorite place to go to work on my stories! For some reason I seem to have a hard time focusing on writing when I’m at home, but when I’m there, I somehow become more focused on writing.
Also lately I have been studying for an IT certification I need for my current day-job. Between these two items, where has that left my pleasure reading? Non-existent.
For someone who’s been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, that realization kind of startled me. The last time I just read for pleasure was when I was waiting for my flight at the airport a couple of month ago. Insane!
So it made me realize something, and I want to pass this revelation (perhaps words of wisdom?) on to fellow writers and, for that matter, everyone: take the time to read. Make the time to read!
For anyone, writer or not, if you enjoy reading, do what you can to find time, even if it’s just fifteen minutes, to read! Many of you may be doing that now: reading blog articles could be what refuels you.
It is so easy to let the craziness of life take control, and you might start to miss out on your favorite ‘past-times.’
Reading Fuels Writing
For writers specifically, I believe this to be essential! I can’t speak for all writers, but for me I find a lot of inspiration in written work. Movies, music, and other media too, but being someone who creates stories out of words, reading is one of my fuel sources!
Reading other writers’ works can give you ideas on how to change or improve your own writing style, it can give you ideas on characters, settings, details. Reading novels is, in a way, like reading a how-to book. You should never copy another writer’s style, but you can learn from it, and take what you like from it, and morph it into your existing style. Essentially, make it your own!
Let your imagination run wild by reading stories that you haven’t told! Especially if you are stuck on a part in your story and don’t know how to get by it. In fact, let me re-type that in bold:
If you are stuck with your story, put it down for a while and read someone else’s story!
I have found this helps me a lot in the past. Even if what I’m reading doesn’t provide me with a method of getting past that part of my own story, it relaxes me. When it comes to writing, I do my best work when I’m not stressed out!
So do yourself a favor: take time off to just read. And remember, when you’re reading another author’s novel, you’re supporting them. Maybe someday they’ll be able to return the favor for you :)
Back when I first decided to start this crazy blogging endeavor, there were a lot of reasons behind it, one of which was inspiration from a blog I found while searching for information about Dia Frampton and Archis. That blog was “Beauty Within” by Rachel Cauilan. While exploring her blog, I came across an article she wrote that really got me thinking about the same topic: why I write. Click the link below to check out the original article:
In her blog, she makes a very bold statement that struck a chord within me: “I find that nothing is worth writing unless you are doing it for yourself.” The moment I read that line, I realized how true it was.
Certainly we as writers wish to have our stories presented to others, and I believe that everyone who writes wishes to present it to others for their own reasons. But when you write for yourself, for your reasons, the results resonate beautifully! Like Rachel said in her blog, people can feel your passion.
While her article was specific to writing a blog, I believe this is a truth in all forms of writing: blogging, fiction, poetry, music, even news articles. There’s probably a science behind it all, word usage, sentence structure, punctuation, all that jazz, but there is no mistaking that when someone is passionate about their writing, you just know it!
Which brings me to the core of this article:
Why I Write
This question is not a simple one for me to answer, because there is no single answer. To say “because I love to write” is true, but an altogether too simple of an answer.
There are selfish reasons, to be sure. I’ve always loved reading other works, getting to essentially live in another person’s fictional world for a time. So to me, writing is my chance to create my own worlds, my own universes, where I get to make the rules, and what happens is what I want to happen. I have a very vivid imagination, so when I imagine these new worlds, I can see them as if they were real!
That means I get to explore these new worlds as well. That might sound strange, you might be asking “But you created these worlds, what’s to explore? You already know everything about it!” Well no, I really don’t. Take for example my novels, The Sword of Dragons. Not long ago I finished writing the 2nd novel, and I took the characters to two entirely new continents, as well as to cities on the 1st continent that they had never been to before. When I started the series, I knew the basic geography of the entire world, I knew what major cities existed on which continents, and I knew about the major geological features.
But what I didn’t know were the details, the nuances! And even more importantly, the people that lived in those new places! Better still, when I am writing about a character seeing a new location for the first time, I am not only seeing that place for the first time in my mind’s eye, but I am seeing it through that character’s eyes!
Which brings me to another bonus feature: getting to know new people! …Ok, stop looking at me like my crazy. ;) Seriously, though, creating new characters is a fun and engaging activity for me, especially because once they are developed enough in my head, they really do take on a life of their own. And as I present them with ever-changing circumstances and events, I get to explore how they react. By deciding how they react, I get to know them better.
All of this comes together to form entertaining stories that one day many will get to read. But why, you ask? If I get so much out of writing for myself, why present my works to others?
For starters, because I have to. I feel compelled to share these stories with others. I always have, its one of the reasons I created a fan fiction series back in 1999, and ran it for 7 years straight writing 70 short stories!
But beyond just that urge, there is the desire to share with others the gift that fiction has given me. I know I’ve written about this before, in my “About” page here on the blog as well as in my first article: stories have captured my imagination and inspired me in so many ways throughout my entire life!
When life was tough, I could escape into a novel. I learned important lessons early in my life thanks to fiction. And while I had plenty of real-life role models, some of the ones in fiction were equally instrumental in shaping me in my youth (and not just written fiction, Captain Picard was definitely a big influence in my youth!)
I have a gift for writing, and it isn’t one I want to waste. I want to give back to the world what fiction has given to me! I want to inspire others in ways I can’t even imagine yet! I want to instill a sense of wonder, imagination, and creativity within others, to help them to feel hope when they otherwise could not find it, to shine a light on what might otherwise seem like a bleak and dreary world!
This is why I write. This is who I am. And while obstacles may stand in my way (such as a recent bout of writer’s block), it will never change. I write because it is who I am.
Trials and triumphs of writing, finding an agent, and publication.