Thursday, July 28, 2011

Where do you draw the line?

I was once asked, "How long did it take you to write your first book?" That's a loaded question. Is it measured in the actual amount of time writing, meaning the hours spent pounding on the keys? Or is it measured by the date you started until the date you ended?

Frankly, I don't have a clue how many hours it took. But when it came to writing The Hidden Sun, it was a good five years from when I started to when it hit the shelves for the first time. Granted, I have a full time job, plus a wife and four kids and I'm active in my church. In addition, there were times I had set aside for writing, and the inspiration just wasn't there.

And then came the question of "what is your story about?" What's been interesting is that I've asked that question to people who have read it--and I've gotten all sorts of different answers. It doesn't fit into a particular genre. It takes place in medieval times in a fictional land. But there isn't magic and the only monsters are the human antagonists. For that reason, it isn't fantasy. Is it a romance? Well, there are romantic parts of the book, but that isn't the focus. Is it a coming of age story? Well, yes and no. To explain this would ruin some of the surprises in the book. Is it young adult? Here, the answer is "yes--sort of". Meaning, there isn't any bad language nor sex scenes and while there is some violence, it isn't graphic. BUT (and that's a big but) the book isn't targeted for only young adults. It's written for adults as well, just without the typical elements that would make it be considered an "adult" book.

So. . .what is it? Well, I would describe it this way: It has action. It has adventure. It has romance. It has political intrigue. It has heroes. It has villains. It has many twists and turns. It has interweaving subplots that come together in the end. But overall, it's a book I wrote to convey a message.

Having said that, when different agents and publishers were reviewing the work, I'd get suggestions like "add some sex and violence, and we'll be interested." Or, "get rid of this or that and we'll be interested." In those cases, they wanted me to change things to make it fit into a more particular mold.

That is where I had to ask myself, where do I draw the line? Keep in mind, I had a lot of good suggestions on ways to improve the book that I did incorporate. Which suggestions did I choose to ignore and which did I keep? It boiled down to this simple question, "Does it change what I'm trying to say by writing this book?"

In everything I write, I have two things in mind when I start. First: What is the basic story? and Second: What is the theme or message behind this story?

For me, a story without a theme or message doesn’t hold the same impact as one that does. If I may be so bold as to offer suggestions to other authors, it would be this: If the changes you are asked to make to your work alters what you as a writer are trying to express, then they aren't good changes. Draw a line in the proverbial sand and don't cross it. In the end, your book is your work. You are writing for a reason. Don't lose sight of that.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What Comes First?

What comes first in this field that we are all a part of?


I am answering this from a fiction writers perspective, but it has to be story-ultimately that's why we all write, we have a story to tell. Anything else comes later and that includes marketing, promotion, finding an agent/publisher, and even doing favors for other people that are tacitly related to all of the above.

I mention this because I have felt a little overwhelmed as of late and my wife gave me a dressing down for being too nice to people. "Why are you doing this? Why are you doing that?"

My answer was always-"Well, its for promotion, to get my name out there, to support someone else, give out some reviews my readers might like, etc, etc, etc."

Not that there is anything wrong with any of those things--But what comes first? What is the most important thing to Your career as a writer?

Telling your story and writing your books.

So I am not against any of the above, I have expanded on some social networking lately Google+ for one, but I do need to find a better balance of my time because of what is more important in the big picture for my career-Yes, I am working toward it being THE career.

When I told Dan this would be my post for July (sorry about nothing for June) he thought it might be controversial-I don't see how.
Anyone who I told I would read their book, or give them a blurb or review etc is still going to get one-I'm just probably not going to volunteer so much once I get through this current batch.
as is stated in the heading of the Man Cave -"Writing can be solitary, but success isn't." is true, I'm not advocating an every man for himself policy, just a reminder like my wife had to give me...of what comes first?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Mothers and Angels

Last year, I entered my short story into the Cedar Fort Mother's Day contest.  To my delight, "Portrait of a Mother" was selected for publication as a Mother's Day pamphlet and turned out great!

Now they are calling for submissions again.  You can find all of the details on this blog post:
Go ahead and try it! You may find yourself in print sooner than you think! And if you submission gets published, you'll already have the perfect Mother's Day present.

In other news, my new release "The Last Archangel" is on a blog tour right now and getting great reviews.  You can also win a copy of the book just by stopping by and filling out a form.  Come check it out at