Tag Archives: Inspiration

Going Back to the Basics

Hi everyone!

It’s been too long since my last post.  But that’s the thing about blogging lately, I feel like I’ve lost sight of some of my original goals with this blog, while greatly achieving others.

The trials and triumphs of writing, searching for an agent, and getting published.  That was what this blog was originally supposed to be about, all the way back in 2014.  I was certainly a different person then, and my life was very different.

I never found an agent, though I came close a couple of times.  I have, however, been published.  I think my decision to become self published was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  It’s given me incredible insights into this industry, made me realize that there’s just so much more to writing than I ever realized.

Having said all of that, there’s one part of my blog’s stated goals that I’ve greatly neglected in recent months.  Writing.

Granted, we bought a house recently, and as anyone who’s been through that knows, there’s a lot involved in that (including fixing up everything that was wrong with said-house in the first days after taking ownership.)

And we’re still not fully settled in.

But that’s meant I haven’t written anything in months.  At least since early February, if not longer.

Furthermore, sometimes I feel like I’ve spent too much time and effort trying to advertise my published books on this blog, when that wasn’t one of the original goals.  Sure, sharing my celebrations and events involved in marketing is part of it, but…well, all in all…I think it’s time I took a break from blogging.  Again.

I first started considering this after I read a blog post by Rachelle Gardner.  Her words resonated with me, and I realized that I felt like blog writing, right now anyway, felt too much like a chore.  The joy I used to feel in blogging was gone.

Thinking even more on it, I realize that is because every time that I’ve spent time writing a blog, I felt like I could have used those precious minutes to write stories.  And over the past 2 or 3 years, writing time has been scarce.

Of course, there’s a flip side to that…what do they say about writing?  That to be a good writer, you need to write from experience, and that means going out there and experiencing life.  And I certainly have done that in the past 3 years!  I’ve had more adventures, experienced love like never before, seen and done things I’ve only dreamt of before!

Photo by Wayne Adams of Death’s House Productions

It’s made me a better writer.  And now, more than ever, I feel like the time is right to take advantage of that.  Now is the time to write stories again.

That’s who I am at heart, a writer.  So I need to go back to my roots, and focus on that.  Rediscover that part of me.

Does this mean I’m shutting this blog down?  Nope.  It just means I’m taking an extended break for now.

But I’ll be back.  That much I can promise you.  My journey is still just starting, and I still want to share it with you all :)

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks for being awesome!  See you next time!

-Jon Wasik

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When A Story Demands To Be Told

Hi everyone!

Have you ever had a story in your head that demanded to be told?  Not later, not eventually, but right now?

I’ve had some interesting experiences with characters making demands (such as Kailar in book 3 telling me “This isn’t me, I would never stand for being so passive”), but this is the first time I can recall when I’ve had a story come to mind and demand that its time is now.

Nine chapters into The Sword of Dragons book 3, and all of a sudden, another unrelated story won’t stop coming to the forefront of my imagination.

It was a story I actually first had an idea for back in 2015, and I’ve been slowly jotting down plot and character ideas ever since, knowing that it would be one I’d get to eventually.

Looks like eventually is now, whether I like it or not.  Every spare moment I have with my mind, I think of this story!  I’ve developed a large portion of the plot, and have begun to give characters names.

And these developments are happening fast, super fast!  Granted with buying a house and thus moving in the next few weeks, I won’t be able to develop and write this story nearly as quickly as I did the first draft of Chronicles of the Sentinels, but this could be something I finish quickly and can then go back to work on the Sword of Dragons books.

What would I do then?  Self publishing a book takes considerable time and effort for me, would I go that route?  To be honest, probably not at first.  I think this is one I might have a good chance at picking up an agent with.  It’s something special, or so my friends whom I’ve shared it with insist, and I feel as though it is too.

What is it, you ask?  That’s the kicker…I don’t know how much about this story I should share.  I’m even hesitant to share the genre, but I don’t think I could get away with sharing nothing with you all, lol.  It’s a book that, in the beginning, you might think is fantasy.  But early on, you realize that it isn’t.  It’s sci-fi.

Image Source – http://www.thenextweb.com/

And I’ve debated about that revelation for awhile.  Should I brand the story as sci-fi from the get go, or should I allow readers to be surprised?  Of course, the fear there is that if I brand it as fantasy, fantasy readers might pick it up, and then get mad when they realize it isn’t fantasy…and good luck getting sci-fi readers to pick it up if they think it is fantasy.

All of the lessons I’ve learned over the past few years of self-publishing tell me I should market it to a target audience, and I’m uncertain how big of  a readership out there is a fan of reading both genres.  Am I one of the few?

I guess if I manage to land an agent and eventually a publisher, they could help me with this decision, or possibly make it for me.  But then…that’s the other question.  What kind of agent do I look for?  An agent who represents mostly sci-fi, or fantasy?

In the long run, this would be the first book of a larger series, and the larger series would most definitely fall under the sci-fi category.  So perhaps that answers my question for me: this is a sci-fi story.

Artwork by Vuk Kostic

I’m also wondering what existing fans of my work think of me going off to write a sci-fi.  The Sword of Dragons are most definitely fantasy.  But I love both genres, and believe it or not, I started in sci-fi.  The Sword of Dragons books were my first pure fantasy stories.  So in a way, I’m more in my element with this.

For those who are curious, I don’t think I could ever consider myself a ‘hard sci-fi’ writer.  I love tech, I love learning how it works in the fictional universe.  I could even tell you how most of the technology in Star Trek works.  But when it comes down to it, story is more important to me.  Story and characters will always be my focus.

It’s what makes a story worth telling, in my opinion.

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

Born From Emotion – The Best Stories

Hi everyone,

I wanted to offer a real quick apology for not writing a blog last week.  House hunting has been extremely time-consuming and stressful and before I knew what was happening, last Sunday was over O_o

Onto the blog we go – are the best stories and characters born from emotion?

Artwork by Vuk Kostic.

The thought occurred to me late last year when I was proofreading all of my books just prior to release.  As I read through them successively and rapidly, I discovered that the most recent story, The Orc War Campaigns, felt better written and more engaging as a story.  And I wondered why.

There’s probably many reasons, not the least of which is, it’s my latest, so all of the lessons I’d learned up to that point were ingrained into telling the story.

But also…I wrote the characters out of real emotion.

Especially Amaya.

Image Source – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/200128777168277635/

I know I’ve talked about it before, so I don’t intend to get into details, but as I wrote Amaya’s story and her struggle to move on from an emotionally abusive relationship, I used it as a way to explore my own attempt to do the same.

And in using my own emotions and fusing them into the story, I was able to better connect with her character, as well as Zerek’s and Arkad’s.

What resulted was a writing style that felt more relaxed, more intuitive.  The writing flowed, and despite being 3rd person, it felt like the story was more from their perspective rather than an objective 3rd person describing the events.

I’m also happy to have learned that others feel the same about The Orc War Campaigns.  In fact, despite being the longest book I’ve written so far, folks have read through the entire book in one sitting!  That tells me I definitely did something right.

Applying These Lessons to Future Stories

So now the question is, can I take this idea and write the next book in the series the same way?  Can I connect more with Cardin and Kailar and write in a way that makes it easier for the reader to connect with them?

The answer, of course, is yes.  But it also meant I had to go back through the chapters I wrote last year and the year before and changing them…or in the case of Kailar, rewriting them from scratch.

Actually, I’m glad to have had this revelation.  I came to realize that my original plans for Kailar were far too passive in book 3, and that I needed to drastically change things.

Originally she was going to be very passive, following Letan’s orders and only occasionally letting her temper take hold and spur her to more direct action.

Image Source – http://www.pinterest.com

That’s not Kailar.  It never was.  Part of what makes her such an engaging character is that she is an antihero.  She wants to do what’s right, but isn’t held back by the same moral constraints as Cardin is.  She is much more aggressive.  And now, after the events of Burning Skies, she has the power to back her aggressive and straightforward nature with direct action.

And I have to say, I enjoy writing her a lot more this way!  She felt two-dimensional before, this feels more natural for her.

Another bonus to having taken a break from book 3 was that I came up with new ideas for book 3 as well as later books that I could foreshadow in book 3, especially for Cardin.  His journey in book 3 starts out feeling like it’s the same as book 1 and 2, something comes up, an adventure, and he just goes along with it.

Until something tragic happens.

The tragedies of book 3 were always planned, but they’ve become even more vital after a discussion I had with our friend (and wedding photographer) Danielle, about how she felt like Cardin was never really in any danger.  His powers protected him, and always evolved to save him in a life-threatening situation.

And it’s true, the Sword of Dragons makes Cardin very difficult to hurt.

Everyone else, however…not so much.  Worse still for him, being the Keeper of the Sword means that his actions never affect just him, or even just his friends.  He also must contend with the new paradigm of Dark Magic, and what it means for him and his future.

Book 3 will be a very personal journey for these two characters, as well as for Reis.  More so than in Rise of the Forgotten or Burning Skies.  All with the backdrop of an epic story unfolding!

Go For It, Even If You Don’t Believe In Yourself

Hi everyone, I’m back!

Photo by Danielle Lirette

Our wedding was wonderfully geeky, and we were very fortunate to have some incredible people participate in it and help us out!  It turned out to be a perfect day, with weather better than predicted, and nothing major going wrong.

However, I want to tell the story with pictures, and our photographer is still working to get our photos to us (the preview pictures she has shown us are incredible!)  But what I wanted to talk about today crosses from my wedding day to writing, and why you should never give up on yourself…

I Thought I Would Always Be Alone

My best friend (and best man) reminded me of something during the reception: when I was younger, I had a dream of a woman who was perfect for me.  My definition of what that might entail evolved over the years as I grew and changed as a person, but I knew what I wanted…

Image source – google.com

And as time passed, and rejections from women grew in number, I started to despair.  I started to believe that I was unlovable.  This led me to some pretty bad relationships that only reinforced my belief that I was unworthy.

…but I kept trying anyway.  I kept searching, even though I didn’t think anyone would ever think I was worth loving.  As the years and years and years passed, no matter how much I was rejected or how many bad dates I went on, even surviving an emotionally abusive relationship, I kept trying.

Character design and model: Beck Stewart. Photo by WeNeals Photography.

And then she was there.  The one who would one day become my wife.  Of course I didn’t know it at the time, and I remember thinking, even when I asked if I could add her to my Facebook, “she won’t ever be interested in me.”

That led to friendship…which 4 months later led to dating, and six months later led to engagement, and a year and 3 months later, marriage.

After more than two decades of searching and dating and trying and failing and being rejected, I finally found what I had searched for.  Someone who loved me, who believed I was worth loving.  And when I realized this last week, I knew that I had to pass the message on to everyone else…

Keep Going.  Never Give Up.  Even If You Don’t Believe

The same goes for writing.  Hell, the same goes for everything in life, but since this is a writing blog, let’s focus on that.

Writers get rejections, from agents and editors.  But does that mean you’re unworthy, that your stories aren’t worthy, and you should stop trying?  If JK Rowling had stopped trying after her first couple of rejections, Harry Potter would not be the phenomenon that it is today.

Writers get bad reviews, on Amazon and everywhere else.  Does this mean that their novel is really horrible and not worth reading?  If you get a few bad reviews, should you take it to heart and stop writing?  Everyone gets bad reviews.  Every book.  Take a look at your favorite book on Amazon, no matter how good it is, and you’ll find one-star reviews.  Even Ready Player One, which is now a major motion picture making millions, got one-star reviews.

What if you get published, or are self-published, and your books aren’t selling well?  Should you just…stop?  No.  First, harkening back to a blog I wrote about an author who re-branded his books, his initial publication was getting him few sales.  When he learned from his mistakes and re-branded his book, he started selling thousands of copies.

If you don’t believe in yourself, but you’re still passionate, GO FOR IT!  Don’t stop!!!  Keep doing it, if for no other reason than your love of it, your passion, your desire to make it, your desire to write and get readers.

Keep.  Going.

Because even if it takes decades, one day, whether you believe in yourself or not, someone else might.  And then your books will sell.  And you’ll write more.  And more.  And more.  And before you know it, you’ve achieved your ultimate goals.

The other option is to give up.  But then you’ll be left wondering for the rest of your life, “What if?”

Photo by my new Mother-in-Law :)

If I gave up…I’d never have met my Starshine.  Never would have asked for her hand in marriage.  Never cried the happiest tears of my life when I watched her walk down the aisle towards me.

What might you risk never seeing if you give up?

What might you never get to experience if you don’t try?

“What if I fail?”  Rubbish question.  “What if I succeed?”  Now that is a question worth pondering…

Where Do You Write?

Hi everyone!

Where do writers write?  That’s an interesting question that came up when reading a blog by friend and fellow writer M.L. Humphrey.  In her blog, she mentions that she writes in a dedicated office at home, while another of her friends writes in a bar.

Photo by Wayne Adams of Death’s House Productions

For me, I can’t write at home.  I used to be able to, but these days it’s difficult for me to find my focus when I’m at home.  Usually I go to a coffee shop of some sort, throw on my ear buds, and get to work.

What happens if I try to write at home?  Most often, I sit at my laptop and stare blankly at the computer screen.

Why is that?  Why do I write better in a coffee shop?  Why does my friend write better at home, and why does her friend write better at a bar?

Location, location, location

One of the things that caught my attention in my friend’s blog was when she says she works in a dedicated office at home.  I recall reading a long time ago something about separating work life and home life, and that people who work from home need to have a dedicated space to do so.

According to several articles, one of the big reasons behind this is to maintain work/life balance.  If you don’t have a dedicated home office, one blog suggests, then your temptation to check your work email or phone ‘after hours’ is strong and your home life starts to suffer.

But it also goes the other way around, I think.  If you don’t have a dedicated home office to your writing pursuits, the distractions of home can be too great and make it difficult to focus on writing.  Especially if you have a family.  I can’t imagine how difficult it is either way for Dads and Moms with kids that aren’t yet going to school, or are on breaks from school.  Distractions would abound!

But if having a home office is the answer to undistributed work, then why does going to a coffee shop work for me?  Distractions abound in coffee shops, don’t they?

It all comes back down to mindset, and separating home from work, even writing work.

Have you ever walked into a room, then stopped, looked around, and forgotten why you went in there?  Surprisingly, there is an explanation for this in science – the Doorway Effect.  To put it simply (probably too simply), the mere act of walking from one room into another changes the context in which your brain is operating.

I believe this is a big part of why going to a coffee shop works for me.  And why I used to be able to write at home, but have great difficulty now – I don’t have a dedicated office these days.  But back when I lived with my parents, we had a dedicated ‘computer room.’  And when I lived in Las Cruces, I had a spare bedroom where I kept my computer.

I didn’t start going to the coffee shop until I moved to Denver.  Every time I’ve had a 2nd bedroom since I’ve moved here, I’ve had a roommate.  And now that my fiancee and I have moved into a 2-bedroom together, we’ve made the 2nd bedroom into a craft room.  I was more than okay doing that, because at this point, I’ve gotten used to writing in a coffee shop, and even prefer it these days.

Which brings me to one other point that my friend M.L. Humphrey made in her blog: sometimes what worked before might not work now or later.  And that’s okay.

Writing in a coffee shop works for me now, but it might not always.

Find what works.  When you do, go with it.  When it stops working, find something else that works.  Life is ever-changing, ever-evolving.  It’s up to you to keep the writing going.

Final Thoughts

Something I just thought of: when I was in high school, part of my routine for doing homework was to go into my bedroom, close the door, turn on the TV, and start working on my homework.  If the TV wasn’t on, I had trouble doing my homework.

Again, shouldn’t it be the other way around?  First, there’s the white-noise phenomenon.  Some noise in the background helps me focus, where as no background noise is too ‘loud,’ and I suspect this is the case for many other people.  It’s also why I put on ear buds and listen to Lindsey Stirling when I write (seriously, any other music usually distracts me too much.)

But I’m also wondering if this is part of the ‘separation of work and home.’  That routine of going to the same spot, turning on the TV, tuning out the rest of the world, and working on homework was the best way I could set my mind to ‘homework mode.’

So now I’m wondering…could finding a place at home, putting on earbuds, and tuning out the world around me allow me to write at home?

Something to try in the coming days :)

What’s your favorite place to write/work/read?

-Jon Wasik

A Brief Holiday

Hi everyone,

Due to the busy schedule ahead of us and the upcoming U.S. holiday, I won’t be able to write a blog today, and I probably won’t be able to next weekend either :(  I’m really sorry!

However, I wanted to leave you all with some good news and with a question!

Rise of the Forgotten

First the good news: I’ve completed the final edits for Rise of the Forgotten!  I’m really excited about this, because there’s not much left for me to do before I can setup and order a proof copy!  I’ve already purchased the license for cover art for books 1 through 3 and the cover art for Orc War Campaigns, so all I have left to do is finalize the maps!

And one other thing to finish, a part I’m struggling with…the “About The Author” page.  I don’t like what I’ve written in the 1st editions of books 1 and 2, but I don’t know how to re-write it.  I’ve already had one friend give me really good suggestions on facebook, but, my question to you all:

What are some of your favorite “About The Author” pages that you’ve read before?  Or, if you’re a writer, what have you written for yours in the past?

Thanks for reading, and to those celebrating this weekend, Happy Thanksgiving!

-Jon Wasik

When Inspiration Strikes – Developing The Next Novel

Hi everyone!

Whenever I start actually writing the manuscript to a new novel, by that point it has been at least a year or two in the making (the one exception so far being the Chronicles of the Sentinels.)  I first come up with the general idea, either for the story or for a character, and start to unravel the entire story surrounding that idea, as well as back story to go along with it.

So it shouldn’t surprise me, and yet it still does: I’m smack in the middle of 2nd edition edits, still need to finish writing the first draft of book 3 of The Sword of Dragons…and suddenly inspiration strikes, and I start unraveling the entire story for book 4 in my head!

Not to say I don’t already have a general idea of all six books anyway, but I mean actual full story details.  And the best part is that I started coming up with the details when I started thinking to myself, “how can I start to give the supporting characters more attention?”

And it just started unraveling in my head like the story was already there in my mind, I just hadn’t brought it forward to my conscious thoughts yet.

What’s really exciting is that, just like  with my 7-year run on my fan fiction, things that I wrote in the earlier books are coming together to create the new stories.  Things that happened in the first 3 books as well as The Orc War Campaigns will become important in book 4…some things I didn’t even mean to make important later on!

I get so excited when this happens!  I love that, somewhere in the back of my mind, everything is connecting together from the beginning and building on the foundational story.

The Importance of Supporting Characters

Image Source – http://sunniersartofwar.com

More and more, I’m learning just how important supporting characters are.  Often times supporting characters become fan favorites in stories.  Samwise Gamgee, for instance, or Ron Weasley.

In the past, this was something I struggled with.  In my fan fiction, I focused a lot on the two main characters, the Captain and his first officer.  To the suffering of all other supporting characters.  I started to rectify this in the last two seasons, but I realized this was something I should have done from the get go.

For The Sword of Dragons, I tried to ensure I at least had good back stories setup for Reis, Sira, and Dalin.  Yet I feel like I still haven’t given them the time and attention they deserve.  That’s definitely changing starting in book 3, and most definitely now in book 4.

But, I have a question for everyone: are you usually willing to read a longer novel due to more time and attention being given to supporting characters?  For instance, book 3 of the Sword of Dragons will have about 1/4 of the chapters devoted to Reis going on his own adventure without Cardin or Sira.  Plus several other chapters branch off for other supporting characters.

All of these instances are integral to moving the main story line forward, and I think that’s probably the key: any time a novel goes to a perspective of another character, it must be with a legitimate purpose, and not ‘just because.’  What do you think?

Status of 2nd Edition Edits

I have less than 100 pages of edits left for Rise of the Forgotten, which means I’m more than 2/3rds through it!! :D  I’m excited, I really like how the changes are affecting the flow, I think it’s making for a much more enjoyable story.  Of course, that’s my own opinion, I just hope everyone who reads it will agree :)

Much to my surprise, so far I’ve reduced the word count of book 1 by 1400 words!  I’m kind of glad to see this overall trend, though, mostly because I’m trying to get rid of redundant phrasing and make each paragraph have more impact.

I haven’t had time to work on maps.  I also just realized that the artist doing my character sketches, Centalynn Artworks, should be back in country now, so I need to go back to review her latest iterations and make choices to send to her.  I don’t currently plan to include any character sketches in the novels, but I’d love to have them on the website as soon as they are finished :)

That’s all for today, thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik