Thursday, November 25, 2010

That's what friends are for

Originally posted on 11/29/09 for the Charge of the Write Brigade.

I thought I’d use this article to explain what I’m thankful for. After all, it is Thanksgiving weekend, the time of year where we pause and think on our blessings and good fortune.

There are a lot of things I could write at length about. My family, friends, work, house, pets and even the material things I enjoy. I could go on about faith and various religious terms, but this blog isn’t really for any of those things.

This is a writer’s blog and on it I’d like to mention my gratitude to other writers and readers. See, while we as writers have imagination and the means to use that imagination to create, we need others to create for.

Sure, you could write for yourself and many do. This site, however, is for people trying to perfect the writing craft. To improve on your writing, you need someone outside your head to read your stuff and call BS on it. Someone who will see the good for good and the bad for bad.

I’m so very grateful for them. Some of these people are reading this right now (Michelle and Kim, I’m looking at you!) while others have no clue I’m put this article up.

From Jeff, the 6th grade teacher who agreed to check out my rough draft (feel sorry for him) all the way to Rick at work who is reading my 2nd book, every one of you have shaped my novels and ideas into something better. I’m grateful to all of you. It was hard to listen sometimes, but it has always been worth it.

I’m also grateful for this site. Writing my articles here has given me the opportunity to force my butt down and write. They say you learn by teaching and that has certainly been true for me.

Thanks guys, and keep on writing!

A little addendum from 11/26/10
As you readers know, I originally wrote this article two years ago for a writing blog.
My gratitude to my past beta readers still hold true. I'd like to add to the list. I'm grateful to Cheri for forming the Tooele division of the League of Utah Writers and to the various members for their support. I'm also grateful to Mr Kelly and Bryant for letting me speak in their classes and to Jennifer, the best editor in the world, for showing me the light.

As always, I'm grateful to my children and my wife. Her support is the light in my soul, without it I could not function.
Beyond all that, I'm grateful to my Heavenly Father for giving me the talent to write.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I Wanna Talk About Me

Originally posted on 10/18/09 for the Charge of the Write Brigade.

Ever have a chance to talk to others about your books? It seems us authors can’t get enough of that. We simply won’t shut up. Well, I guess I’m glossing over the legions of people who might feel differently. I’m sorry if you’re one of them. It’s just that I haven’t met any of you.

I have, however, met many writers who, once they get started, can’t stop themselves when describing this great scene or that cool new character. They were wrestling with a dilemma in their story and something clicked. My family, friends , beta readers and critique partners would testify of how they labored over my constant jawing about Annabelle.

I’ve labored to control myself here and only pepper my articles with my novel info. I’ll continue to do so. The reason I’m going on about this is one simple fact. We like to share our worlds, concepts and ideas with everyone. Why else would we try to be published?

Ok, this being said, have any of you thought of taking this desire to the next level? Sure, it’s easy to babble on to one or two people in person about your stories, but have you ever tried a group?

I’m talking about speaking engagements. Yes. Scheduling a time and place to stand up in front of several eyes and speak about writing, your journey as a writer and yes, your book. Not rambling on at your long suffering spouse about how character A can’t get to place B without item C and it’s driving you insane. I mean calling up a book store, library or school and scheduling a time to stand before others and share with them.

Several of you live in a different universe than me. Many of you are published and attend speaking engagements on a regular occasion. Maybe next weekend you’ll be at the Lone Pine Mall, signing copies of your book. If so, all the power to you and I long for those days.

Speaking as a first time author with no agent or publisher, I can still attest to the power of public speaking. I’ve had the privilege to speak in front of two 6th grade classes and two 8th grade classes. Last Friday I spoke to my daughter’s 8th grade history class.

Was I scared? Of course! A small sea of eyes looked up at me, expecting knowledge mixed with mild entertainment. I don’t like being under the spot light. My daughter laughed later and told me how nervous I looked. She would know. She sees me all the time and knew I seemed a little tense. I didn’t let the others onto it, though. I focused on a select few faces and continued on. Sure, I could’ve done it better, but they did like it.

The teacher had a Smart Board. I knew this ahead of time so I brought various images of my characters and the historical settings. I explained the story and main characters and then sat down and read a few pages. I wrapped it up with questions from the audience. It was an afternoon class so the kids were awake and full of questions.

Sure, I got the “when will it be published” question and had to explain how it’s in the editing stages but I hope to get it out there in a couple years. Sure, some were disappointed, but they did enjoy the presentation and I could tell by their eyes they wanted more. If I never get published, at least I inspired future writers today.

You can inspire others to write, or just get them excited about your book. We newbies can use all the well wishes we can get. Have a teacher read your book in class. It’s possible. It happened to me. Sure, you can’t put their positive feedback in a query letter, but it’ll lift you up during the down times and show others that writing can be fun and productive. They learn that if they might just reach those dreams.