Tag Archives: Lindsey Stirling

Warmer in the Winter Concert – Lindsey Stirling

Hi everyone!

Last night, my fiancee and I had the exciting experience of attending Lindsey Stirling’s Warmer in the Winter concert!  This is the fourth Stirling concert I’ve been to, and as is always the case, I was not disappointed!

Image Source – https://twitter.com/lindseystirling/status/931781927937261568

But why am I talking about concerts on a blog about writing?  Because of Stirling’s history, where she was and how far she’s come, and how she’s gotten there.

Because there are days when I need a reminder…

I know I’ve talked about Lindsey Stirling before, in fact it was after the first concert I attended that I made the decision to self-publish.  Not only does her music speak to me, but the story of her rise to stardom has inspired me.

And last night’s concert reminded me why.  During one of the breaks between numbers, she spoke of how she gets to live her dream every day because of her fans, but before her rise, she would play anywhere and everywhere she could get a gig, even in school cafeterias.  She did anything she could to get her voice, or rather her violin, heard.

Image Source – speakola.com

She got her shot when she tried out on America’s Got Talent, but was shot down by the judges.  I can imagine how she must have felt, being told she wasn’t good enough.  And somehow that reminded me of Peter Dinklage’s speech that I wrote about several months ago, when he mentions how the world will keep telling you that you aren’t ready.

Now Lindsey is one of the most popular performers out there today, and her star shines brighter than ever.

How many times have people told me that I’ll never make it as a writer?  That it’s impossible?  That it’s a pipe dream?  There are days when I find myself wondering if those people are right.

But there was something else Stirling spoke about that struck a chord in my heart and helped me regain my composure.  It was when she spoke about her battle with depression, when she used to look in the mirror and wonder if she had anything worth contributing to the world.

Fast forward several years later, and the answer is yes, she did have something worthwhile to contribute.

These concerts, her story, they remind me that though I may run into roadblocks often, though I sometimes look in the mirror and wonder…I believe I do have something worthwhile to contribute.

And so I keep going.  I keep writing.  I keep publishing.  I may never have a rapid rise to stardom, but I know that if I keep going, if I keep working hard at it, then no matter what happens, I’ll have left something behind that is worthwhile.

Plus, I’m reminded often that there are people who like my stories.  I’ve sold hundreds of copies of the first Sword of Dragons novel through Kindle and print, and the Amazon reviews may not be numerous, but they are positive.

Not to mention the positive things people say to me when they meet me.  Or when they send me emails.  I recently received an email from a long-time reader of my fan fiction series, expressing his sadness that I’m shutting down my fan fiction website in the near future.  He was emailing me back in the early 2000’s when STDragon was still live!

So I just need to remember all of those facts.  Remember the fans, those who have read all of my work, who encourage me to write more, and just keep going.  Someday, I’ll get to write full time, even if it isn’t until I retire from I.T. work.  Until then, I’ll just keep going.

I’ll never give up.

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

From Writer’s Block to Creative Outpouring

Hi everyone,

On release day of The Sword of Dragons, I began telling the tale of how this epic story came into existence.  This is part 2 of that tale, the first part can be read here.

Four Years of Writer’s Block

The path to writing the first 12 chapters of what was still called Sword of the Dragon was a slow but eventful one.  I rewrote the first chapter about 3 times before I was satisfied, and then moved on from there.  At the time, my system was to write a chapter, and then go back and proofread it before moving on to the next chapter.

Little did I know at the time that this was a mistake for me.  It slowed down the flow of the story, and stifled my creative outflow.  Wow, it sounds so technical when I put it that way…

College-GraduationIt was right around the time that I graduated from college in 2007 that the dreaded writer’s block hit.  And it hit hard.  From 2007 until 2011 I wrote two chapters of the novel, and maybe only 2 short stories.  It was the least productive time of my entire writing life.

What caused it?  A multitude of things.  But a big part of it was uncertainty in my life.  I was graduating with a Bachelor’s of English, but I was dissatisfied with it at that time.  I was already on course for switching to IT for a career, but was unable to secure a job right after graduation.

Concept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.
Concept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.

My life became chaos.  I didn’t know where I was going, what I was doing, and my writing suffered for it immensely.  I did eventually find a part time job that then led to a full time job, but even as I changed jobs and began to make incredible progress in my IT career, my writing continued to suffer.

Breaking the Chains – Inspiration Strikes

I’ve been told that pulling out of writer’s block is one of the hardest things to do for any writer, and until this had happened, I had no idea just how hard.  But I did.

It wasn’t instantaneously, though.  I began writing short stories again, but didn’t complete any of them.  I had some false-starts on chapter 14 of Sword of the Dragon, and I went back and rewrote chapters 12 and 13 a couple of times.

What finally seemed to do it?  I moved to Colorado.  And my inspiration soared!aspen_colorado

In many ways, my move to Colorado was the best thing I could have ever done.  I was unhappy where I was in New Mexico, I was unhappy in my job, and I had a lot of painful memories there.  I was stuck in the past.

So I found a better job in Colorado and ran away from New Mexico.  There was more to do where I moved to, better quality of life, and a job that didn’t require me to work 12 hour shifts.  Massive improvements.

Within months, it started.  I finished chapter 15.  Then 16.  Then 17.  On and on it went.  And before I knew it, Sword of the Dragon was completed in 2012!!

Changing the Title

So why did I change Sword of the Dragon to The Sword of Dragons?  Because it’s such a cooler title?  Actually I think I lucked out on it, because I was dead-set on the original title.  I like The Sword of Dragons better :)

But the reason behind was simple: The day I decided to start querying for an agent, I did a search on amazon, and found a novel subtitled “The Sword of the Dragon.

Image Source - http://www.authorappleton.com/
Image Source – http://www.authorappleton.com/

While published long after I first came up with Sword of the Dragon, I am not despondent nor do I believe the author knew about my novels, how could he?  And the description of Scott Appleton’s novel sounds really cool, I fully intend to buy it and read it :)

Never-the-less, this required me to change the title of my series.  It took me about 5 minutes of thinking (the first 3 of which was me getting over the fact that I couldn’t use my title) to come up with the revised The Sword of Dragons.

Rejections, Redirects, and Self Publishing

With the title changed and all references in the manuscript changed, I began the arduous process of writing query letters and synopses.  After each rejected query letter, I reworked it.  Checked out some awesome helpful websites (Agent Query Connect is the best!  :D)

But no hits.  This didn’t deter me.  While I worked on finding an agent, I completed book 2 of the series, Burning Skies.  Compared to book 1’s six-year development, book 2’s year-long development was insanely fast!

I took a break from the series when I came up with Chronicles of the Sentinels, but that was yet another incredible outpour of creativity: I developed, wrote, and completed 2 rounds of proofreading on the novel in 3 months!!!!  It is safe to say that my writer’s block is really over, heheh.

But when a potential agent for Chronicles fell through, something sparked in me.  I realized how annoyed I was at the whole process.  And I kept thinking about Lindsey Stirling, who was rejected (quite brusquely) by the panel of “America’s Got Talent”, but through social media, was able to make a name for herself!

lindsey-stirling-celebrity

The key was when I asked my girlfriend one question: “Do you think I should self-publish?  Do you think I can even do it?  Can I make it as a self-published writer?”

Her unequivocal “yes” was that last boost I needed.  :)

The result of that decision so many months ago?  Well, you’ve all seen it.  The Sword of Dragons :D

Cover by Christian Michael
Cover by Christian Michael

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

The Return

Hi everyone!

Yep, I’m back :)  It’s been a long while, or that’s how it feels anyway.  September was my last blog post, and a lot has happened in that time, some of which has made me reconsider the direction I’m going with my writing career.

Since I first started writing stories, I always wanted to pursue what is now called “traditional” publication.  Essentially that is finding an agent or editor to represent me, to spend time and money on me and my stories, and help get my work out there to the mass market.

However, there is another avenue, one that I’ve been resistant to for a long time: self publication.

Some people still shudder when they hear that.  And honestly, it still scares the hell out of me.  Why?  Time and money, and lots of it.

Granted the scene has changed a lot in recent years.  It used to be that self-publication meant hiring a printing company, paying for every copy of your novel, and then distributing that novel to whomever was willing to sell it for you.  It was expensive, risky, and making a living off of it was extremely difficult.  I don’t know if this existed before the internet, but if it did, I can only imagine how difficult it was.

http://www.thedreamlandchronicles.com/
http://www.thedreamlandchronicles.com/

At least with the internet, writers could promote their work and have methods for readers to order a copy online.  I know of at least one online comic book writer who uses this method, Scott Christian Sava of The Dreamland Chronicles.  His comic is free to view online, but hard-copies can be purchased, and this has given him at least some modicum of success (and has helped him garner interest from Hollywood!)

However, today it has become much more common for writers to begin making a living from self-publication, but not through the old printed method.  E-books have begun to take a real foot-hold in the market.  I’ve seen varying numbers for the market share of eBooks, ranging from 20% to 40%.  I’d more likely believe the 20%, but the point is, the market is growing.

This is why I have begun to consider pursuing eBook publication for my high fantasy series, The Sword of Dragons.  For more information on the first and second novel in this series, check out the “My Novels” section of my blog.

Pros and Cons

I still have lots of research to do, but I’ve discovered that there are multiple pros and cons of eBook self-publication.

One thing I like about self-publication is that I am essentially in control of my writing career.  My success, or failure, is almost entirely in my hands.  I do not rely on an agent or a publisher to represent me.  But there-in lies a con: that puts ALL of the work on me.

Agents and publishers do a lot for a writer.  Granted our work never ceases on a book, but they are the ones in-the-know for the market, and know how to advise you on what to do, they have the contacts, and they give you your best chance at the widest distribution.

https://www.nookpress.com/
https://www.nookpress.com/

Another big, big pro for eBook publication: you don’t have to pay to get your novel published.  Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s nookpress are completely free to use.  If I wanted to, I could get my novel out there for publication in a couple of days.  Plus neither vendor requires exclusivity, I can publish through both AND still get a hard-copy published some day.

However, it isn’t quite that easy.  There is still the cost of finding and hiring someone to create cover-art for the novel.  Granted I could make a very generic cover on my own, but I’ve found that even with eBooks, if the cover doesn’t catch a person’s eye, they are less likely to check out the book, let alone purchase it.

Another cost is advertising.  I don’t know yet if Nookpress or Amazon include advertising on their websites for books published through them, but any and all marketing beyond that would be solely on my shoulders.

When it comes down to it, there is one big advantage: guaranteed publication.  For all the cons, I get my name out there, I get my work out there for readers to see.  There are no limited copies, it’s available, worldwide, for all to read.  But can I make it as a writer via electronic means only?

Making It Big on the Internet

https://cnmill.wordpress.com/
https://cnmill.wordpress.com/

The fact of the matter is there are examples out there of varying artists who either make it big, or at least get a really good start on the internet.  Lindsey Stirling has been a huge inspiration for me this year, and she got her name out there thanks to youtube and collaborations with other musicians.  The aforementioned Scott Christian Sava got his name out there thanks to the internet.  And I see writers like C. Miller who has written quality work and has both hard-copy and eBooks available of her Reave series, and I’m inspired by her work.

So while there’s no guarantee, it is entirely possible.  I recognize that it will eat up a ton of my time, and I’d basically have to split between my full-time ‘day-job’ and writing, at least in the beginning.  The goal would be to eventually make writing my full-time job.

Decisions

I’ve gone over it again and again in my head, and I still am not sure.  I’ve heard that if I fail to sell a book well online, it makes it more difficult for me to find an agent or publisher willing to invest in me.  So of course, the what-if game keeps playing through my head.

I have a lot to think about.  And I would greatly appreciate any and all feedback from all of you.  Those who are writers, what are your experiences with self-publishing?  Those who are readers, how often to you read eBooks?  Anyone and everyone, your thoughts and opinions in this matter would be greatly appreciated.  Please leave comments below :)

Thank you,
-Jon Wasik

Conference-Bound!

Hi everyone!

Tomorrow I head out for the Colorado Gold Conference hosted by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers!  How do I feel about that?

Image Source - kendavenport.typepad.com
Image Source – kendavenport.typepad.com

Excited, terrified, anxious, hopeful, energetic…a whole slew of words, I could go on and on.  (No really, I’m a writer with a BA in English, I can go on endlessly!  ;) )

It’s an end and a beginning all at once.  Without even having realized it, this conference was to be a major milestone even before I decided to attend.  Even if I don’t attract an agent this weekend, I know that this is going to be a huge step in my career as a writer.  I have the panels I want to attend picked out, and they’re exactly what I think I need right now as a writer.

Plus I get to mingle with a bunch of other writers, something I confess I haven’t really had a chance to do before!  That in and of itself is exciting, to meet those who are going through or have gone through the same struggles I have, who have the same hopes and dreams.

Image Source - https://www.facebook.com/lindseystirlingmusic
Image Source – https://www.facebook.com/lindseystirlingmusic

I think I’ve mentioned it before, but what really started me on this course was when I attended a Lindsey Stirling concert on May 30th.  A combination of doing something I had never done before, and was terrified to do (go to a major event like this alone,) and the music and her story just moved and motivated me, and left me with an incredible energy that, even over 3 months later, still hasn’t dissipated!

There’s much more to it than just the concert, of course, including finding myself, learning to believe in myself, becoming comfortable in my own skin.  Not to mention coming up with my best idea for a novel so far definitely helped :)  But one thing I’m really just constantly reminding myself tonight: relax, have fun at the conference, and above all, don’t be afraid to be myself, even if that means being a little goofy/funny!

So here we go.  The next big step is before me.  And tonight, just now, I finally feel ready for it :)  Care to keep going on this crazy journey with me?  Because believe me, my story is just beginning, and I intend to take you all along for the ride!

One last bit of exciting news: today I was asked for my autograph for the first time in my life!  And not just by one, but by two people!!!  :D

Thanks for reading,
-Jon

Why I Write: Response to Rachel Cauilan’s Blog

Hi everyone!

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:

Why I Write: Blogs and the Path of Meaning

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.

writing quote