Tag Archives: modern fantasy

Who Do You Write Like?

Hi everyone!

Who are some of your favorite writers?  Can you point to why they are your favorite?  There’s probably a lot of reasons, anywhere from the stories they write, the characters they create, and so on.

One thing to consider, however, is how they tell their stories.  I love JK Rowling’s writing style, especially watching it evolve over the course of the Harry Potter novels.  I also really enjoyed Michael Stackpole’s writing style.

I know I’ve touched on this more than once in the past, and every writer has a distinct voice of their own…

…Right?

I mean, that’s what I’ve always thought: we all have our own writing styles that are unique to us.  However, according to an interesting website that analyzes text to compare it to ‘famous’ writers…my writing style seems to change over time.

My fiancee first mentioned it, that she once found a website that compared her writing to another author’s.  We searched and found it, and started putting excerpts from our stories into it…and were a bit surprised by the results.

The “King” of Horror

Her results were relatively consistent, and for someone who has never read Stephen King, according to https://iwl.me, she writes an awful lot like him.  Very consistently.

Myself, however…

I started by putting in the first page of chapter 1 into the tool, and was pleasantly surprised when I apparently write like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  The same man who wrote Sherlock Holmes.  That was kind of cool to see!

However, I had the idea to see how much my writing changed after my 4-year writer’s block that was in the middle of the Sword of Dragons, so I took an excerpt from chapter 31 and put it in.

…and according to the website, my style matched that of JK Rowling’s.  This didn’t surprise me a whole lot, because during my writer’s block, I had read all of Harry Potter.  And all of my chapters from book 1 after the writer’s block period came out as JK Rowling.

That pleased me, because I really really liked her writing.

Then I began to wonder, how different was my writing style for Chronicles of the Sentinels?  I intentionally tried to write it differently.  So I put in the first page of chapter 2, and was not surprised to find I wrote that chapter, and action sequence with military-type action, like Dan Brown.

…However, a later chapter came out to say that I wrote like Stephen King.  That caught me a bit off guard.

So again, wondering if things were different in later books, I started putting in excerpts for Burning Skies.  And according to the website, I write like Ursula K. Le Guin, the same author who wrote Earthsea.  I’ve never read any of Le Guin’s work, so this also surprised me.

While some other chapters had other authors’ names attached, mostly book 2 was written like this author.  And when I put in excerpts from my work in progress for book 3, it again is coming out as being like Le Guin’s style.

This got me to thinking something…has my writing style matured?  Have I found my voice?  At least, for high fantasy?  Where as my style changed in the first novel, and my style changed throughout Chronicles, my latest two novels are giving me Le Guin as the result.

Is this good?  I think I might have to pick up Earthsea to see if I can pick up on the similarities, and see if I like her novels.

But if this is an indication that my writing style has matured, that’s kind of amazing…because it took 20 years to find my voice!  I wonder if that’s normal for a writer, or not.

I also can’t help but wonder…I’ve always thought it is important to try to improve my writing all the time.  Will this mean that, over time, my style will change and become comparable to someone else’s?

I guess time will tell :)

Thanks for reading!  Let me know if there’s a particular writing style you like.  Or if you’re a writer, check out https://iwl.me and comment below who’s writing style yours is similar to!

-Jon Wasik

Starting Simple – Character Archetypes

Hi everyone,

Something’s been nagging at the back of my mind lately, and I think I’m starting to figure out what it is.  And the thing of it is, it started a couple years ago.

Christopher Tatsu (Image Source - http://cdn.stylisheve.com)
Christopher Tatsu (Image Source – http://cdn.stylisheve.com)

Back when I was still going to a writer’s critique group, I took in chapter 1 of Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy.  In that first chapter, I introduce Chris Tatsu as he is finishing up his college finals.  That first chapter needs tons of work, and in fact I’m thinking of scrapping it completely at this point and rearchitecting the beginning of the novel, but I digress.

In that first chapter, Chris runs into a classmate who is, in a sense, a stereotypical ‘surfer dude’ type.  What surprised me the most: two of the people in that critique group said that Chris was boring, but the stereotypical surfer dude was more interesting.

Do people really want more of the ‘stereotypes’ than more intricate and complex characters?

I don’t think so.  But I did have a thought…

Starting Simple and Building From There

Image Source - http://wallpapertvs.com/dragon-guarding-the-treasure-hd-wallpaper/
Image Source – http://wallpapertvs.com/dragon-guarding-the-treasure-hd-wallpaper/

Something I did in The Sword of Dragons was I took a lot of fantasy tropes and made my own spin on them.  The best example I always give: in book 1, there’s a dragon with a lair in a cave guarding a treasure.  Except, instead of an evil dragon who hoards gold, this dragon was a good, intelligent, kind spirit, who was protecting the most powerful artifact in the entire Universe.

And I’ve been thinking, at least for future projects…maybe I should continue this trend for future characters and projects.  Start with an archetype, but then make my own spin on that archetype.  Maybe this approach will allow readers to more easily connect and identify with characters from the start.

Image Source - https://www.pinterest.com/smokelight/dwarf/
Image Source – https://www.pinterest.com/smokelight/dwarf/

I kind of already plan to do this with book 3 of the Sword of Dragons series.  I’m introducing a dwarf character early in book 3, and he is a bit of a conundrum.  You see, he’s got the attitude of a ‘stereotypical’ dwarf, but he fights that attitude, because he serves the elven College of Serelik (first mentioned in Burning Skies.)  So he’s expected to dress nice and act nice and remain well groomed.

But I’m also thinking of future projects beyond the Sword of Dragons series.  I have so many ideas that I hope I’ll actually be able to get to someday…and I think I want to try to model characters in such a fashion.  Start them off as archetypes, but turn those archetypes on their heads and make sure that the characters are their own, complex, unique entities.

What do you think, dear readers?  Do you find it easier to identify with archetypal characters who then go off to become their own, or would you rather have characters who don’t in any way fit a stereotype?

Final Note

I’m trying to work up the courage to do another VLog…because I have an important announcement to make, and I feel like just typing up a normal blog would not be appropriate for this announcement.  This will likely end up being outside of the normal Saturday blog cycle.  I’ve only done one other VLog in the past…is anyone here interested in seeing more?

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

Writing A Series – A Love Affair

Hi everyone!

Have you ever seen the movie “Cloud Atlas” or read the novel from which it is based?  There’s a quote in the movie that kind of inspired this blog article:

"A half-finished book is, after all, a half-finished love affair."
“A half-finished book is, after all, a half-finished love affair.”

Off and on, I’ve toyed with the idea of going ahead and publishing the first Chronicles of the Sentinels novel in the near future, rather than waiting until I finish the Sword of Dragons series.  So I started reading through old blog entries while I mulled it over, and came across a blog I wrote earlier this year.

In it, I had talked about deciding, after almost landing an agent for Chronicles, to self-publish.  But instead of self-publishing Chronicles, I decided to self-publish what I called “my first love,” The Sword of Dragons.

And that’s when the answer came to me.

Commitment To A Series

I can’t stop working on Sword of Dragons.  I want to see it through to the end.  And I know as a reader, I hate when a writer takes years to come out with the next book in a series.

Image Source - stylecaster.com
Image Source – stylecaster.com

Just like I’m a one-woman kind of guy, I’m a one-series kind of guy :)  I can only really and truly focus on one at a time, otherwise I get distracted, and the series suffers for it.

Even writing The Orc War Campaigns has put me behind on the main novel series, and I’m genuinely worried I won’t be able to get book 3 out on time.  I haven’t even started the first draft yet!

So I’m going to stick with my original plan.  Work on one series at a time.  And while that unfortunately means I’ll only be releasing one novel per year (excluding the Orc War Campaigns anthology,) it’ll be well worth it to focus on one series, one story, at a time.

The Long Term Plan

So, assuming I can get book 3 out on time, my plan is to release one Sword of Dragons novel per year, leading up to the epic conclusion in book 6 in 2020.

Images Source - http://bramleegwater.deviantart.com
Images Source – http://bramleegwater.deviantart.com

From there, I want to finish the Chronicles of the Sentinels trilogy.  Even though book 1, Legacy, is already done, it needs work and TLC, so I’ll likely hold off releasing that until 2021, making that series go out to 2023.

From there…well let’s just say that I have enough story ideas to continue publishing a new book every year until 2030.  But after Chronicles, I’m not sure what I want to do first.

Image Source - http://best-sci-fi-books.com
Image Source – http://best-sci-fi-books.com

There are a few one-off novels I want to write, including a sci-fi story idea I had recently, but there’s also a series of sci-fi novels I want to write that totally cross boundaries of genre, in ways that I think are really cool :D

Anywho, that’s all for today, everyone!  Sorry for no vlog today, but maybe I’ll work up the courage later this week :)

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

Of Sacrifices and Dedication – Committed to Writing

Hey everyone!

While I am super anxious to share more info about Burning Skies with you all, I wanted to touch on a subject that, as someone who is committed to becoming a full-time writer, has become very prevalent in my life lately.  And that is specifically the sacrifices I’ve been making the last few years, and how all of the people in my life have reacted to it.  In a way, this post is part of the core of my blog’s purpose: the trials and triumphs of writing.

More than 20 years ago, I started writing, and it has since become my great passion!  I’ve written for so long, I simply can’t remember or imagine my life without it.  And I don’t want to imagine a life without it.  I had grand dreams of becoming a known author, someone who inspired thousands, even millions with my stories.

Someday.  Tomorrow.  Eventually.

The dreams I had were always “Someday.”  Whenever something came up to distract me from writing, writing became “Tomorrow.”  And getting published?  “Eventually.”

stdragon20 years as a writer, and I had nothing published, outside of Star Trek Dragon’s run on the internet.  20 years without making a dime off of writing (which, if you ever want to write full time, is important.)  “Eventually” turned into 20 years.

Not long after I moved to Denver, which was a major turning point in my life, I decided to stop letting that happen.  I was going to get published!  If not with The Sword of Dragons, than with some other novel!  Those of you who have read my blog from the beginning have seen the majority of that struggle.

Photo taken by Laura Earley
Photo taken by Laura Earley

It started with proving to myself that I could write full time, or as close to it as I could.  So when the idea of Chronicles of the Sentinels was born, I decided to work on it, every.  Single.  Day.  And I did.  2 or 3 hours every night after work.  5 or 6 hours every Saturday and Sunday.

In 3 months time, I completed pre-production, writing, and the first series of proofreads and edits on book 1, Legacy.  It was, and still is, an exciting story, and if never picked up by an agent, will one day be self published.

I had done it!  I had proven to myself that I was a true-to-heart writer.

And when I almost-had-but-lost an agent for Chronicles, that was when I decided to self-publish.  I could have started with Chronicles, but I wanted to work on my first love: The Sword of Dragons (Hmm, there’s an idea for a blog: each novel, each series, as a love affair ;)  lol)

I had some idea how much work was ahead of me, but I still had no idea just how much work it would take to promote the book and get it out there.

Between writing, editing, and working on my social media presence (such as with the blog you are enjoying right now,) I’ve been doing something writing related almost every day.

Balancing Writing with Life

Something else extraordinary has been happening since I moved to Denver.  Any one who knew me before I moved here knows that I was once a very shy guy, who would sooner sit at home and play video games that interact with, well, anyone.

20160312_105213Since I’ve moved to Colorado, I’ve slowly emerged from my shell, and have finally built a base of some truly incredible friends, both at work and outside.  I’ve gone to conventions, parties, and seen and done things I never, ever thought I would.  And I love spending time with my friends, and seeing my family that lives in the area!

But I also work 2 jobs now.  At least, that is how I treat my writing – as a 2nd, part-time job.  I take it that seriously, and as I build up my platform and start to gain readership, I feel ever-more obligated to keeping up with writing (which is good, in my mind, it keeps me focused :) )

Anyone who has worked more than one job knows that your social life suffers to some extent.  I don’t want to lose the friendships I’ve built up, and I genuinely want to spend time with friends and family, but in recent months, I’ve found myself learning to say something very important to anyone who truly desires to make it as a writer, an artist, a singer, ANY passion or artistic endeavor.

Learning to Say No

Before I continue, I know that many of my friends read this blog, and I want to say here and now: no, this post is not a gripe or an attack.  In fact, you have no idea how wonderful it makes me feel when you insist I come have drinks with you, or go to a movie, or hang out, I love it!  And I love each and every one of you :)

To my fellow aspiring writers, artists, heck to everyone out there with goals and ambitions: the word “no” is something you should learn to be comfortable saying.

In fact I’m suddenly remembering a conversation that my friend Wayne and I had a long while ago.  He told me how he often overbooks and spreads himself too thin because he just hasn’t learned to say no when people ask something of him, whether favors or just to hang out.

And when he told me that, and suggested I learned to say no, I took that to heart.  With some hesitance, I have started to exercise that powerful word.  I hope so very much that my friends understand.  I hope that they realize I have fallen so far behind my schedule as a writer, and that I need to make sacrifices to get back on track.

So while the word “yes” is equally as powerful, so is “no”, and if you can learn to balance the two, it will become a truly wondrous superpower!

Too dramatic to call it a superpower?  I don’t think so.  Because believe me, it is not easy.  To all of my friends, I thank you for your patience and understanding, and your continued support of my addiction, uh, I mean passion ;)

And as always, to all of my readers, thank you so much for reading.  Something I often write when I sign books, I now say to everyone out there:

Never give up on your dreams!

Thanks for reading :)
-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

Writing Critique Groups

Hi everyone!

First I want to apologize for how long it has been since I wrote a blog entry.  Two weeks to the day!  :-\  It has been a very busy couple of weeks, and a bit of a roller coaster.  Okay more than just a bit!

But, on the bright side of things, I have completed the revisions to Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy, and only need to finish up a query letter and synopsis, and then I’m ready to send my pages to Ms. Diver!  I’ll post the manuscript’s stats at the bottom of this article :)

On to the subject matter for today’s article!  And this has a lot to do with becoming published and/or finding an agent.

The Other Half of the Job

Now before anyone says anything, no, I am not down-playing the importance of writing skill.  No matter what, you must have a quality piece of writing in order to have a chance at either mainstream publication or making your self-published work sell.

Having said that, I have learned this year just how important it is for a writer to get out from behind the pen and actively work on getting your name out there, or going out and meeting other writers, meeting publishers and agents face to face.

In general, writers are by nature introverted to some extent.  (This is not a universal truth, however!)  And I used to have the naive impression that all writers had to do was write, and then leave the rest up to the ‘professionals.’

I was wrong.  I’ve been learning all about what a writer should do beyond writing this year, and honestly is part of the reason I started this blog, and started my facebook page.  Whether you’re self-publishing or going main-stream, it is chiefly the writer’s responsibility to promote themselves and their work, to get their name out there.

Image Source - RMFW.org
Image Source – RMFW.org

Beyond even that, however, is the ‘mingling’ part.  And yes, RMFW’s Colorado Gold Conference and my experiences there is a big reason behind tonight’s blog!

If you haven’t read it yet, read my blog that details my experiences there!  I met so many different writers, which in and of itself was incredible!  More than that, I got to meet editors and agents, and pitch to one, which led directly to finding an agent interested in my work!

The lesson learned there was that my one weekend at the conference was far, far more productive than cold-mailing query letters out.  Now of course, there is no guarantee that you’ll have any success going to such conferences.  You really must have a good product to sell, be a person an agent or editor wants to work with, and have a good pitch!!

There’s also something else that I am going to highly recommend all writers do…

Writing Critique Groups

kevin-wolfWhile I was at the conference, I was encouraged by Kevin Wolf to join a local critique group hosted by RMFW.  I’ve now been to two sessions, and I have to say that it is an incredibly helpful resource!

Not only do you get to meet and collaborate with other writers regularly, but you get multiple eyes on pieces of your work, which allows for a wide range of view points, opinions, and suggestions!  Plus if you’re lucky, you’ll have published writers in your group that could potentially give you advice in other aspects of the industry!

Having said that, I should caution that not all critique groups are alike.  I was lucky to have found a great group my first time out, but I’ve heard horror stories.  So I would recommend checking around, and if your first venture into a critique group doesn’t go well, look for another one, but don’t give up!

I know that those of you who live in a small town might not have such a group.  I have two recommendations.  First, there are online critique groups, so just do a search on the internet!  Second, try to create one in your area!  I would be willing to bet that there are at least a few writers even in the small towns :)  And even if that’s not the case, it can’t hurt to try!

So what do you all think?  Are there other resources ‘out there’ that you would recommend on top of this?  And if you do go out and find a critique group, or are already part of one, I’d love to hear about your experiences with them!  So please leave a comment below :)

Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy Revision

So as promised, here are the stats for the revised version of Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy, now marketed as an Adult Modern Fantasy novel :)

Word Count: 75,237
Page Count: 231

Photo Source - http://mainlineoptix.com
Photo Source – http://mainlineoptix.com

It’s a marginal increase, not the 80,000 words I was wanting, but I was grateful for the opportunity to flesh it out without worrying about making it too long.  I feel like anything extra added to the story would be arbitrary at this point.  This increase doesn’t come from big chunks tacked on here and there, either, every single chapter has been modified to some extent, little modifications here and there.

This includes fleshing out Alycia’s character more, so I am very pleased with that :)

I’ll be sure to let everyone know when I finish my query and synopsis and send it out!  Thanks for reading.

-Jon Wasik

Chronicles of the Sentinels – Stellar View

Hi everyone!

Today’s excerpt is a little special.  As I’ve been going through my latest revision before sending 30 pages to Ms. Diver, I’ve started running the NASA HDEV in the background, to give myself a great view while reading.

Tonight I caught a sunset while reviewing chapter 12, and thought I’d share it with you all, while at the same time giving you a full page of an excerpt :)

In this scene, Emmi is in her cat form, which I have posted an excerpt from before.  This is after that scene.  She is exploring the Sentinel facility, when she comes across a most curious section…

(Click the image for the full-size)

excerpt-nasaI hope you all enjoyed this!  It’s definitely more of an excerpt than I usually give, with the bonus of some eye candy ;)

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to finish my revisions today like I had hoped.  I came down sick on Friday and ended up doing next to nothing on Saturday except lay in bed :(

But that’s okay, it’ll give me a chance to finish this, write up a query letter, and get that query letter reviewed by a critique group I’ve started attending!  :D  (more on that in a follow-up article later this week)

I hope you all had a great weekend!  Thanks for reading :)

-Jon Wasik