New Page!

Hey everybody! I just wanted to pop in and say that I hope the first week of The 5th Wave is going well. So far I really enjoy the book and I’m taking plenty of notes about things I would like to discuss!

I also wanted to let you all know that I have developed a new Facebook page that is open for discussion from anyone on any book at all, not just limited to this particular book club’s monthly title.

As a literature lover, I am infatuated with discussing my passions, and I LOVE finding people who feel the same. I hope you’ll all jump over to the page and join it if you have Facebook. If not, feel free to contact me at any time with any lit discussion you’d like to have!

Here is the link to the page; https://www.facebook.com/litloverstalk/

Please help me share it far and wide so we can get some really good, wide open discussion!

Plans

Unfortunately plans don’t always work out. That’s something we learn from a young age, if we’re lucky (and find out the hard way once life gets its claws in us if we’re not). It’s basically just a fact of life. Just as people say rules are made to be broken, plans are, unfortunately, made to be unkept.

I’ve had some first hand experience with that, lately. I had some big plans for the first week of October, if you may remember. I was determined that I would get a novel sent to a publisher by no later than the tenth. Well, it’s the tenth and no publisher has seen my novel. Granted, the reasoning behind this change isn’t necessarily bad. Last week was my one year anniversary, and I obviously spent the day with my wife and didn’t focus on anything else. I wouldn’t have had that any other way! After that I spent the week researching as much as preparing my novel, as I went through my new copy of the 2017 Writer’s Market looking for the best place to send my work.

So far, I have found dozens of agents and publishers that could be helpful to me and my potential future in the literary world. That being said, I have developed a new plan; Pinpoint the best of the ones I have found that would work for me and begin making contact. With this plan in motion I hope/”plan” to have at least one novel out for consideration by the end of October.

Which brings me to the ultimate point of this blog post. It is always a great idea for an artist to set goals, make plans, have a set idea about where you want things to go and when. But it does not have be set in stone. In fact, most of the time, you’ll find that, no matter what plans you make, something is almost always going to change. I’ve often heard something to this regard that I think makes more sense than anything; “If you want to hear God laugh tell Him your plans.” To me it describes life perfectly. We can try to make our lives happen exactly how we want, but there’s no guarantee it will go our way.

Our end goal may come out the same, but the journey almost never is what we expect. The point is that you can’t give up. No matter how you come to the final stage, no matter what you have to go through to get there, it doesn’t matter as long as you keep trying.  Whenever the plan you make doesn’t work out then you make another one. Keep your end goal. Keep your passion. Life can throw anything at you at any time and will almost certainly always try to keep you on your toes. Sometimes it may seem like life doesn’t want you to succeed, but I’m not sure I fully believe that. I like to think that, for the most part, the world doesn’t care whether or not you succeed, but it want to make damn sure that you give it your all either way.

Success is not always a matter of luck, just as it is not always an impossibility, but more often than not it only comes after very hard work and dedication. So, no matter what it is you  are after, you have to be willing to make it an act of passion and determination if you truly have hopes or expectations of success. What goals do you have for your craft? How do you plan to make sure they are fulfilled? Furthermore, have you  had any experience with plans falling through like I have described here, and if so, how did you come back from it?  Comment, contact me, interact and enjoy, everyone. If you have anything you’d like me to discuss, feel free to chip in and make a suggestion. Best of luck with all of your plans, and I hope you’ll all take this message to heart!

Always keep working

I have been a terrible blogger lately. Life, it seems, can often get in the way of writing and blogging. Of course, the irony of that is that I write for a living. I was told before accepting a full time job as a reporter that if I wasn’t careful that writing for work could very easily replace writing for pleasure. I didn’t believe that, and to an extent I still don’t, but I do see the point  behind it and the truth in the statement.

I must begin my explanation for this by stating that I do, in fact, love being a reporter. I very much enjoy my job (although on a hard day I tend to complain about it as much as the next person, but that’s life), not least of all because it does allow me to write words that hundreds, if not thousands of people see on a daily basis. This is very gratifying and will certainly be good experience for the future, but the work does sometimes spill over into my free time.

Of course, such is the life of a reporter, but what some don’t understand is that when you write all day it can be very challenging to come home and write all night as well. Not only is the work writing in a very different format than novel writing, but it can be very hard on the hands, eyes, and brain to do both all of the time. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; writing is what I was made to do. It is literally what I was created for.

So the question remains; how does one manage this?

The answer is just as hard as it is easy. You have to maintain conviction, passion, and determination. As it is currently, I work around 45hours a week (getting paid for 40, but again, that’s life), come home and spend at least that much reading, watching a little television, and spending time with my wife. Somewhere in the midst of all of this I also have to find time to sleep and write. The break down makes the issue seem much more simple than it is, of course. What brings the complication in is finding motivation.

So how do you find the inspiration to write at night after writing all day? By pressing on as hard as humanly possible, of course. Personally I do my best to make time for everything, but it honestly can be hard, as I’m sure many of you know. Personally I have let the inspiration that still so frequently shows up unexpectedly to have full reign of my mind when it comes. Granted, it sometimes is fleeting and likes to toy with various ideas without settling on one, it still leaves me with a fair amount of new material.

One of my most recent accomplishments is a short story that I was able to completely revamp and elaborate on so I could send it to a journal for consideration. Even if I don’t make it into that particular publication, I can honestly say that I’m much happier with the current version of said short story than I was with the previous one. But the thing that I may be most involved in right now, aside from editing Maverip, is a new story that I have been inspired to write that (at least so far) has a very elaborate plot with a story spanning centuries. I don’t want to say much more about it currently, as the idea is still very fresh and I’m toying with plot lines, but I have decided to include a small sample that really excites me. I would love to have any and all feedback you all have on this piece. I would also love to hear how you all balance writing, motivation and everyday life. Leave me comments or send me messages, however you would like to communicate! I hope you all enjoy the small sample!

“Jonas woke suddenly, breathing heavily and sweating. He stared into the dark, waiting for his breath to slow. He felt himself drifting off to sleep when the image rushed back to his conscious. He saw the women, aged and wrinkled yet somehow vibrant, covered in blood and nothing else. Fire blazed in the middle of the clearing, filled with a shadow that made him scream aloud in the night. Looking into the fire Jonas was certain that he had looked into the very eyes of the devil himself.”

Beating the Monday Blues

Mondays suck. Lets face it. But that doesn’t have to stop us from doing great things. We, as artists and writers, really need to give ourselves a bit of a schedule to follow. Some authors will find themselves needing a more strict and rigid schedule. Throughout history there are some authors who have stated that they wouldn’t let themselves do anything else until they had typed X amount of pages or written X amount of words per day. This can be quite a daunting idea for some us and for others it can honestly be nearly impossible. If we don’t have a set schedule at work it can be very hard to try and have a set schedule with out writing. This can lead us to breaking any type of schedule we may try to set. That’s not good at all.

Other of us (myself included at times) don’t like trying to demand ourselves to meet a certain deadline. Granted we may sometimes be under contract and actually have a deadline, but that doesn’t mean that we can just force ourselves to vomit out a certain amount of work just because it’s what we say we need to do. Part of this can be fixed with the inspiration I so love to write about. Even while typing this I am listening to music on my old Mp3 player to make sure I stay motivated despite the feeling of inspiration that I’ve had today. I have used the music on this player to help me write and focus on my craft for so long that I’ve had to change players three of four times because I’ve worn some of the others out and just ran out of room on one.

But we do want to continue performing our craft at the level we are now and we do want to improve. We may find it hard, or even impossible to do that if we let the world get in the way of our productivity. Yes, it’s Monday, and yes that means we are going back to work and/or school and are feeling the typical mourning over the loss of the weekend, but Mondays can be positive as well. Mondays can symbolize the beginning of a whole new week of work. This can be the week where we tackle that hard chapter and vow to gain something from it. Or maybe this is the week we complete that particularly hard painting or song. Maybe it’s even just the week we convince ourselves to pick up the tools of our trade and produce SOMETHING. Mondays can be real downers. They can kill our spirit and motivation and bring us so low that we don’t even have the ability to produce anything at all that week. But they can also mean a lot. They can be the day we start the ending to our latest novel, or start that new painting, or the day we start writing our own music instead of just learning what has already been done. Monday may come at the worst possible time, but it can also bring us a never-ending realm of possibilities. Don’t waste them!!!!

Killer stress

There are many things in life that can have negative effects on us. These things can range from the personal to the professional, and they can seriously damage our work if we aren’t careful. This post is about caution, as the one yesterday was, but in a different fashion. We, as authors, have to constantly be on the lookout for things that are going to kill our work. Personally I find the higher the stress level, the harder it is to write these days. Which, sadly is the exact opposite of what used to happen. When I first began writing it was the writing itself that helped lower my stress level, but now it seems that stress hinders me more than anything else. That is a very disappointing situation to a fifth year English major; stress is an essence of life, and if the one thing I was put on this earth to do is hindered by the one thing I have to do in order to be taken seriously  in that task then I am in a very tight spot. That’s a destiny that awaits all writers at some point in their lives; running into a spot that hinders all writing and makes your inspiration sporadic and trite. But there is always a way out, and this post is more relative to past posts in that it refers more to my post about inspiration. Because this post is a reference post it will be relatively short. The reason for this is because I am personally just getting over my own bout of writer’s block due to stress and am reaping the benefits of my return to my own creation. Maverip 2 is currently going very well, and I’m still looking for a publication deal for part 1 so you can all see the work I’ve done instead of having to just listen to me ramble about it. Tomorrow, I may post a bit of my work so you all can get an example of what I’ve done so it will sound less like I’m just sitting here blowing smoke in your faces. For now, enjoy whatever inspiration you are getting and write your hearts out like I’m trying to do. Thanks for sticking with me, and feel free to contact me with any comments, concerns, questions or feedback you have.

Completing my first novel

Today I think it would actually be beneficial to explain a bit about my biggest work; Maverip and its subsequent series. The work itself is one thing that I am most proud of in my life. It took three years to write the first novel in the series, and at the end of those three years I felt like I had finally accomplished something I could really be proud of. I spent three years on this work, not just writing and thinking, but researching. That was one of the most important parts of the novel. I had to look into the vast depth of vampire lore and rip it apart to find what I felt I needed. I have spent the last five years of my life immersed in a literal plethora of everything vampire, and I couldn’t be happier. I am one of the biggest vampire fans you will ever meet, and now I am basically an expert on nearly all things vampire too. But I’m not trying to brag here, that is farthest from my purpose. I’m just trying to really share the depth of my experience.

I spent three years with almost nothing but Maverip on the mind. I did and still do eat, drink and breathe vampire, and I wouldn’t accept anything less with my life. I love it. That is one reason I tell you all that you have to write about something that you are passionate about. It is the reason I became a writer of fiction, especially horror fiction with a specialty in vampires. It’s something I’ve always been nuts about.  That’s what makes it so easy to just dive in. Writing about it is just about the most natural thing in the world and the research has given me so much more added knowledge on something that I absolutely love.

In a manner writing this series has basically been less than work in any way and more of an immensely fun and incredibly life-changing event for me. When I ponder the work, its history and it future, I feel like it is something that will change the world. That is a feeling you just can’t help but love. I think about these novels and they make me realize how blessed and lucky I am to have the gift of being able to write as I do, and I am eternally thankful and grateful to God for giving me this gift and allowing me to attempt to share this series with the world.

Thus far the hardest part of this has been trying to find a publisher who will give me a good deal. Granted many people look at my subject matter and think that it will fall short of the expectations of some, I must assert that one of the biggest things I have attempted to do with this series is return to the true origins and roots of vampire tales. But that will come later, especially once the work has actually been picked up. Basically the point of this post has been to give an insight into my experience and to help you guys get to know a bit about me personally. I hope it has been interesting at least. My next post will include something that’s actually helpful, I promise. Thanks guys.

Life Can Hinder Us, If We Let It

I have a lot of experience in the field of writing, as I’ve said. It gets really difficult at times trying to keep everything sorted out and on track, I know, but the rewards are like nothing you can imagine. Once you finish a novel, or even just a short story, you have this overwhelming sense of accomplishment that makes you realize that all of the struggle and all the work you put into the piece was more than worth it. One of the hardest parts of writing, though, is keeping your mind wrapped around the task when life is going on as quickly as ever all around you. Many things can break our focus, which is why it is extremely beneficial to take notes and attempt to outline the future of your work so that when these things do come up and break your focus you have at least an idea of where to take things.

Another very important thing that can be the saving ground of an author is making time every day to write. No matter what is going on, it is important that you make time to put down at least a couple of ideas every day. Your work is something that needs consistent attention. You can’t (most can’t anyway) just write every now and then and expect the work to be as strong as it would be if you gave it daily attention. Think of it like caring for a plant of sorts; that plant is going to need daily watering and sunlight if it is going to reach its full potential. I believe it may have been Hemingway who said that he made himself sit down and write at least two pages a day. Granted I know many people also say you can’t force the story, you need to coax it as much you can. Like I suggested; throw down a few ideas, go back and read what you already have of it, develop some things you’ve been vague about. Do what it takes in order to stay connected with your work and make sure it has a future. One of the saddest things in the world is an unfinished story; and even sadder, an abandoned one.

Life can throw a huge monkey wrench in our plans, yes. That’s a given. But it doesn’t have to ruin our work. We, as writers, must be able to entertain and work around any hindrance imaginable in order to keep writing. It is our calling, after all. So you have to find what works for you. If forcing the words out gives you what you need, then that’s your solution. Just as no two works are exactly alike, neither are any two authors going to be identical. It is for that very reason that I can’t express enough (even though I’ve certainly tried) that no two methods of writing, inspiration, or achievement can be expected to be the same. It just doesn’t work that way. Everyone is different, and every result is going to be different. And we have to realize that and make sure we never give up. No matter what. Only you can give your story to the world, and I am here to assure you that no matter what that story is, it deserves to be released and shared.

Write it now?

So when you have an idea, but it doesn’t quite seem fully developed what are you to do? Are you supposed to write your half story and just hope the rest comes to you, or are you going to just wait and see if it finishes developing? That answer is likely going to be different for every author on the planet. The craft of writing is itself a matter of attempting perfection, is it not? Think about it. We have our fictional world that we want to be perfect, we have our fictionally perfect characters and situations, and the ending is just always absolutely perfect to us isn’t it? Don’t misunderstand me, I merely mean ‘perfect’ as in up to our standards as the author, not perfect as in infallible in nature. But in the regard to which I was referring, we want our work to be up to par in our own minds or it is unsatisfying to us. In order to reach that sort of personal perfection we have to go through all sorts of methods of development, once again allowing me to assert one of the biggest lessons I have to teach you; that no two authors are the same.

We’ve all had an idea that we just couldn’t be sure about. Either it comes to us in pieces and we just can’t see how they connect, or only half of it comes to us at a time, etc… But regardless of the situation we just know it somehow isn’t complete. One of the most asked questions by many writers, not just fresh and aspiring authors, is what to do when this happens. It’s very difficult to deal with an idea that you feel isn’t complete or good enough. Many people think it’s perfectly acceptable to just ignore or forget about these ideas, but let me ask you this; what if F. Scott Fitzgerald had gotten stumped on “The Great Gatsby”? We would be without one of the greatest books in the history of literature (in the humble opinion of this experienced reader, anyway). So it seems only obvious to me that ignoring the ideas is not the best option.

In my own experience, an idea that doesn’t seem complete can need one of two things. You either need to go ahead and begin writing the idea itself out, either as idea/outline or as a story and hope that it goes ahead and fills itself out as you go, or you need to simply let it ‘cook’ a bit longer. Those options are both very flexible for nearly any idea or situation in all honesty. Sometimes the idea can trigger itself if you begin taking notes on it as a possibility, or it can almost literally write itself if you go ahead and just start it while it still seems to be in its infancy. As I’ve mentioned that you need to sometimes listen to your stories and allow them to tell you what to do with their development, you also sometimes need to trust them to take themselves there using you as a means of doing so. The other option, letting them ‘cook’ a little longer, can be somewhat tricky at times. If you choose to go about this route it is important that you don’t forget about them. You have to dwell on them a bit, try to see inside them, and look around the problems or hindrances in its completion and get to the place you feel comfortable starting them.

Personally I usually tend to use a mixture of these two methods. If I have an idea that just doesn’t seem complete enough to actually get it started I’ll take notes on what I have and attempt to let the idea itself sit in my brain and build itself up until it has a strong enough base that I can go forward with what I have and allow the rest to catch up and fill itself in along the way. I hope this has answered a question that most people think there isn’t really an answer to, and I hope this has helped someone, or will in the future. Just remember to write in whatever manner is best for you. The methods and mannerisms of another author aren’t necessarily going to fill your needs and be what gets you a best seller or even a completed work, in reality. Your work is your own, and it is not necessarily going to follow the same format as someone else’s. It is part of your duty as an author to find out what works best for you, which is what a lot of my posts may tend to emphasize. Good luck with your work, and keep your eyes open for my next post.

Inspiration

As I promised, here is my post on inspiration. The first and most basic thing I have to say about is that it can be absolutely anything. You simply cannot put a label on it in any way. What one person finds the stupidest and most pointless thing in the world can be something another person finds to be the biggest and best inspiration of their life. The best thing about a good bit of inspiration is that it can do many things to the person it inspires as well. For instance some things may inspire you in that they just give you a vague desire to write ‘something’, much as the smell of a summer evening does to me. On the same note some things may inspire you so much that they give you the full idea for a thousand page novel. You just can’t label it, and you can’t say that you know what to expect, because more often than not you don’t.

One of the things that gave me some of the greatest inspiration I have ever felt is a simple quote by Jules Verne. The quote lead to a 12 page short story that vastly exceeded even my own expectations and intentions upon completion. I intended on it being about 3 pages at most, but as I said yesterday, you have to be flexible. The thing that gave me the most inspiration, however is a simple 4 minute song that allowed me to literally envision the story line that became the complete basis for my Maverip series, which thus far in my career seems to be my ‘magnum opus’. It is certainly the work I am most proud of.  I developed the entire story from this song, and basically had the ending before I even wrote the beginning.

My main point here I suppose is that every writer needs to keep their mind and eyes open for their inspiration. The mind must be open largely because you cannot expect something that inspires other people to be inspiration to you, and if you do expect that you are likely to be very disappointed, and let me assure you right now; disappointment can cripple an author. Period. You can’t allow yourself to slip into disappointment in regards to your own work. But back to the point. In relation to the mind, you must keep your eyes open in order to figure out exactly what it is that does give you the inspiration you so desire. You’ve got to look at every possibility and rule nothing out. Anything can be what gives you your idea for the biggest masterpiece in your collection, from the smallest pebble to the greatest and most magnificent experience of your life. You just can’t expect or gauge what any one thing may or may not do until you give it a chance and try. Granted, the word ‘eyes’ here is relative and more metaphorical than literal, as inspiration can come from any sense or sensation.

Basically you just have to be ready for inspiration to come from anywhere at any time.  I want you to know that any item that gives you inspiration can be the thing that vastly changes your life.  Don’t ever throw inspiration aside, and don’t ever squander an idea. Granted that doesn’t mean you need to rush them, but that’s a whole other post altogether; maybe even my next one. That sounds like a good way to go to me. So look for the next entry to come in the next couple of days, based largely on the dilemma of letting an idea ‘cook’ or throwing it straight out there. As always feedback is welcome, and I hope I have helped. Good luck finding your inspiration and giving the world its next set of masterpieces my friends.

Feeling your work

One of the most important messages any author can get or share is that you must be able to relate to your work. It HAS to be something you can feel. You wouldn’t want a full time police officer trying to do your taxes would you? No. Well an audience is not going to accept someone whose interest level lies highly in the field of horror fiction trying to write romance either. You have to stick not only with what you know, but what you are comfortable with writing about. If you know horror, write horror. If you know cooking, write a cookbook. If you know history, write some historical piece. It is imperative that you love your work. That is something I can’t express enough. You should be able to wake up in the morning loving what you do and wanting to do it to the best of your ability. It shouldn’t feel like a chore, it should feel like a blessing and a privilege.

That being said, there are still many benefits of stepping slightly outside of your comfort zone and your area of advanced knowledge. Sometimes the slightest adjustment to your work can help you break writer’s block or monotony that you may feel if you let yourself get too immersed in the fine points of your work. This is a trick that not many people are willing to use, but the slightest tweak of your mental prowess in regards to your work can lead to a potential flood of work, and sometimes the floodgates are opened by a small amount of research or questioning.

Basically the love of your work is your best friend. That is something you should never doubt, and something you should strive towards. Do work you love, because if you love it chances are someone else out there will too.