If you are considering coming to Jot – the writers conference my writers group is hosting on Feb 8th – here is a brief itinerary.
Today, I am loaning my blog to published author Daniel F. Bowman. We both attended Cornerstone University but recently connected through a mutual friend. If you are interested in a good read, especially historical fiction, I would encourage you to check out his book – Alaric, Child of the Goths.
What inspired your novel?
My wife Amanda and I rarely get a chance to take a weekend off and spend it together (without the kids), but back in 2009 we visited the Toledo Zoo (with our son). Amanda was wiped out from walking all around, so I had the chance to watch the History Channel after she fell asleep. We have never had cable, so this was as much a part of vacation as was watching the polar bear tear apart a trash can.
The episode was—you guessed it—about the Goths. I stared at the screen as I heard how a group of farmer-soldiers were cheated by Rome but decided to stand up to her, though she was the greatest empire in the world. They would not put up with bullying. The program ended: “Oppression sires rebellion, and when pushed too far, even the weak and the shattered can rise to challenge their oppressor.” I feel chills every time I hear that.
How did you hear about the writing contest?
I looked for “historical fiction 2012 writing contests” online. I was discouraged by the trouble of getting an agent, and knew that trying to approach a publisher directly for historical fiction was a waste of time. After looking through my list of contests, the best bet seemed to be Creative Print Publishing (CPP), as that had no fee to enter and the winner received publication.
What got you into writing in the first place?
I haven’t always written, though when I think back, I realize that I have tried for a long time. When I was a child, I wrote 1½-page stories of alien abductions, ending before the main character ever made it to the spacecraft! I also like pirate novels, though these always stopped after the third mutiny.
During college, I began writing “The Tinker’s Sons” about two boys (based on my brothers) who were destined to overthrow the evil empire. It was fun telling them the story each night.
Do you have other plans in place along the same storyline?
I began my 3rd book this month.
1st—Alaric, Child of the Goths. (Battle of Adrianople, Fall of Rome, overthrowing the evil empire!)
2nd—Hammer of God (Charles Martel, Battle of Tours —Christian Franks vs Muslim Umayyads)
-Entered in gracenotesbooks.com competition, now being reedited
3rd—Mother of Mexico (Dona Marina, wife of Hernando Cortes—Aztecs and Spanish)
Amanda—my wife and editor—wants a book with a female POV. I’m up for the challenge. It might help me as a husband to get in a woman’s mind.
What are you plans for writing, hobby, full time, dreams?
So far, it’s a nice hobby and publishing was a good goal before turning 30. I barely made it!
Ideally, I would like to get paid for writing so that my main job (teaching ESL) became additional income, rather than the way it currently is. Then again, I don’t know how I would handle the freedom of my own hours. I have a feeling that I would never feel caught up enough to stop working.
Where do you get your ideas?
History is full of stories—true ones (unlike the wildly-adapted-but-still-enjoyable Braveheart, 300, Gladiator…). So many heroes, villains, and tragedies have happened which far exceed the fictional ideas of authors, and many of these stories are known only in boring monographs. I aim to remedy that.
Do you write each day? If so, where? When?
I recently finished a break from writing. After submitting Hammer of God, I wanted to take off the rest of 2012 and prevent burnout. When I am writing, I try to write 1,000 words daily = 5,000 weekly. This is doable and I usually achieve it. Plus, ideally, I could finish a book in six months this way.
Where do you write?
My office (more like a storage room most of the time). Having a door between me and my family is a psychological help for focusing. I also work well as I proctor quizzes at work, wear headphones in the school computer lab so no one interrupts, or am in busy places apart from home. I think it’s because I can ignore everyone there. The non-office places are perfect for putting down ideas, but I tend to need a large chunk of time to put them all together.
When do you usually write?
This is the harder question.
I used to write in the morning, but as my son has proven to be a morning person, I no longer have that time to myself. So I guess this coming year will have me in the office at night. The best tip I came across for “when” is to always plan my next session before I end my current one. That way I can write anywhere/anytime, knowing what I’m supposed to do next. I rarely have writer’s block because of this.
Daniel, Thanks for taking the time to put this interview together. If you are interested in his novel, or have questions for Daniel, please visit his site at http://danielfbowman.webs.com/
Today, I am offer my blog to writer Jessie Clemence who I met through my writing comrade Josh Mosey. If you are a parent, mother, Christian, or just in need of a laugh, I suggest you visit her blog and pick up her book when it hits the shelf.
What is your working title of your book (or story)?
There’s a Green Plastic Monkey in My Purse
Where did the idea come from for the book?
My editor suggested it because she saw that theme running through some of my other writing. Also, I have lived this book ever since my first child was born almost ten years ago.
What genre does your book fall under?
Bible study and parenting
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Since my family and friends are all in the book, I think we’d just all play ourselves. We’d have to be a reality TV show, like the Duggars on 78 Kids and Counting.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Motherhood is hard and requires special character traits that God can help us develop.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Green Plastic Monkey is being published by Discovery House Publishers in Grand Rapids.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It took about nine months. Which, I just realized, is about how long a pregnancy lasts. Coincidence? I think not! (God just thinks He’s funny sometimes.)
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I always have trouble with this one, because it really is a parenting book and a Bible study together, and it’s fun. I haven’t found another that fits these criteria. But I know that Rachel Jankovic has written Loving the Little Years, Motherhood in the Trenches. That theme of enjoying a difficult time with God’s help is certainly running through Green Plastic Monkey, too.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My editor suggested it! It took me a while to get the nerve up to try it, because parenting has been a difficult road for me. But in the end, I think that’s the book’s strength. I don’t have it all together. I don’t know what I’m doing. My kids are thriving because God has changed my heart and shown me His grace. I think that will resonate with other mothers who are struggling.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
My primary spiritual gift is ridiculousness, and the book is full of it. It’s fun and silly and real. Many mothers will read the book and walk away thinking, “Thank goodness I’m a better mother than Jessie.” And I’m totally okay with that, as long as God’s word gets into them while they are laughing at me!
Thank you for participating Jessie!
Roger Colby at Writing is Hard Work invited me to be a part of a blog chain that introduces my latest work while promoting his blog and three other blogs of writers like myself. I hope that you will check them out. I’m highlighting:
Daniel Bowman at danielfbowman.webs.com
Jessie Clemence at Jessieclemence.com
Elizabeth Hein at scribblinginthestorageroom.wordpress.com
- What is your working title of your book (or story)?
The Tale of Calelleth
- Where did the idea come from for the book?
This is a hard question. I’d like to say it came from everywhere. What I was reading at the time – How the Irish Saved Civilization, what I was interested in writing – grand sweeping epics, coming of age stories and, yes, romance, and something that happened in my life – a vicious storm that swept through my home town. The sort of storm that makes noon like night. It causes the constant hum of reality skip a beat and become suddenly vicious and beyond your control. All three of these things collided one summer.
- What genre does your book fall under?
Fantasy – high adventure, coming of age, young adult.
- Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I write with some characters in mind. I picture my villain Maero as Russell Crowe from Gladiator. Strong, noble, and a family man, but he is bent and tortured by his loss. Beyond that, the characters are drawn from people I have met, with the possibility of the main character’s best friend Comitis – recently, I’ve tried to paint him in the light of James Roday (Shawn Spencer) from Psyche.
- What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Calelleth’s leaders have sworn to forget the horrors of their past and succeed in rewriting history for their people, that is, until an army arrives unannounced demanding the past atrocities be remembered and atoned for.
- Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’ve met with an agent and will be submitting my novel to an acquisitions editor soon (hopefully next week). I’d like to have it represented. I know this is a difficult task but I believe in my work and will be relentless about publication until it happens.
- How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About a year. However there have been numerous drafts. Some chapters have been rewritten 8-9 times, others 4-5 times. I’ve been working in the debut novel, outlines for subsequent books and the history behind my world for over 8 years.
- What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
If you’ve read The Emerald Atlas you’ll find children thrust into roles that they find unfitting. One day at an orphanage, the next caught up in the grand struggle of trying to save a world. Also, the academics and young love of Harry Potter, the Merlinesque grandfather in innumerable tales, and the robbing of the rich to equip the poor that is accustom to Robin Hood.
- Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Sadly, I never read the Lord of the Rings while growing up. While that might shock some people I think this was to my benefit as it is not old hat now. I did not begin to write or read a lot until I was in college. I read while younger but stopped for sports. I rediscovered the spark by watching the first Lord of the Rings film. The age and reality of the other world was enchanting. I couldn’t stop until my one tale was written and I have been reading and reading since. I love the Inklings (C.S Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and others) and my writer’s group is called the Weaklings in tribute to them.
- What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
This is the first installment of seven books. You follow not only the life and death of many characters but also the redemption of a people that suddenly come to realize the depth at which they have scared the earth and the peoples they have forgotten beyond their borders. In The Tale of Calelleth I have tried my best to intertwine the familiar portions of Young Adult fiction – love, coming of age, and the reality that comes with responsibilities of adulthood with a medieval epic.
There is a reason Jot is free. Most writers aren’t rolling in piles of cash. We understand that. In fact, we represent that.
So here are a few ways that you can help us out for little or no cost:
- Re-blog our posts. If you don’t have a blog of your own, start one and use it to re-blog our posts.
- Tweet or Link to Jot on Facebook. Use this link, it’s short! http://bit.ly/ZZFvAw
- E-blast your contact list info about Jot. If they tell you that the email wound up in their spam folder, maybe you should just remove them from your contact list. Those aren’t the type of people for you.
- Print out and hang a poster at your favorite library, coffee shop, or public writer hangout. (Click here for the jot_mini_poster)
- Talk about it to your friends. If you don’t have friends, talk about it to strangers…
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Here’s a little blurb about the writing conference I am speaking at. If you are in the Grand Rapids area and are a writer or interested in writing, check out this free conference.
Writers are unique individuals. Not because they tend to be odd or nerdy or both, but because they spend their time doing something that most would consider torture – that is – writing something. Writing is hard work. It’s a task that requires an enormous amount of effort. It calls for perseverance. It needs constant encouragement.
This is where Jot comes in.
Jot is for new and aspiring authors. It’s for established authors, writers mired in the drafting or writer’s block stage, and for those interested getting their feet wet, having yet to put words on the page.
Why should you attend Jot?
Because it’s a date with your inner writer. It’s a time to reflect on your writing life, to learn tips, rub shoulders with other authors and, possibly, make a writing friend or two in the area.
Who should attend Jot?
Anyone interested in writing. Whether you are…
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Here’s this week’s post from Julia’s place. The words “the notes from the piano,” need to be included in a 100 word story. Enjoy.
“Look at this, Jones,” said Captain Micks.
“I know. You’d think when this whole place came down it would have been crushed.” Jones stepped forward and struck a chord, the notes from the piano were crisp and clean. The sound resonated off of the skeletal structures and permeated the vacant rubble strewn avenue.
“Don’t do that again,” Warned the Captain.
“Sorry, I didn’t think it would work.”
“Yeah well, that curiosity could get you killed.”
“You think we’ll hear music like that again?”
Captain Micks sighed.
“Not sure. Maybe someday.”
When I have a conversation with an acquaintance that turns personal, this question usually surfaces – “So what do you like to do for fun?”
At times I think about skirting over the question, with – “I like hockey, or I like to read.” However, I have come to learn the value of writing friends and the bond that
writing builds. I understand that I might get occasional sympathetic nod from the person I am talking with, or a few raised eyebrows and “good luck with that.” Or, maybe, just possibly, a fellow word loving comrade.
Since I started on my novel several years ago I have had the benefit of many writing friends, or friends that are kind enough to read my work and encourage me in my novel. They’ve been with me through many drafts and thankfully I don’t think I have ever been given the look or feeling that I should probably do something more productive with my life.
So where am I going with this long rambling post? Perhaps this is a thank you to all of you who keep asking me, “So how’s it going?” as I stomp through the sludge of my latest draft, and it is. But, also, if you are a new writer or a writer who is struggling to find their way, writing friends are the best and sometimes the only remedy to help you to carry on in your quest to become a published author.
As the old saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child.
The same can be said for any writer you meet.
Keep writing friends. Never give up.
Every once in a while I like to pretend that I’m handy. I can limp along on some construction projects but, for the most part, I don’t have the patience for them. (I know. I see the hypocrisy. Unable to build a table because of a lack of patience, but willing to work on the same book for 8 years)
This was until I received a gift from my parents for Christmas, (kudos to my wife for the assist). It was money toward transforming my bleak writing hole into a useful and inspiring writing space.
This space is essential. It has to be a retreat, though located about 100 feet from my bed and the chaos of a living room dominated by my lovely children. Thus, I have the following pictures of my new writing space (I apologize in advance for the poor lighting).
Photo 1 – All that can be seen in the built-in is the desk and one flimsy shelf that I dared not set any of my precious books upon.
Photo 2 – Main shelves in place.
Photo 3 – Side shelf in place.
Photo 4 – Finished for now (paint to come later).
Now my inner writer has a place to call home. Time to get to work.
Confession. Unlike last year, my yearly reading list is, admittedly, somewhat embarrassing. I hate not to report what I have read because there were several great books in there (which I have made bold in my list) but not as many as I would have liked.
I Hope this year contains more books, and more submissions.
- Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – JK Rowling
- The Help – Kathryn Stockett
- Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – JK Rowling
- I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith
- Humilitas – John Dickson
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – JK Rowling
- An Extraordinary Education – Trenton Lee Stewart
- The Princess and the Goblin – George MacDonald
- Wonderstruck – Brian Selznick
- Half-Moon Investigations – Eoin Colifer
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (again I know. This was enough of Harry for a while!)
- A Voyage Long and Strange – Tony Horwitz
- The Magician’s Nephew – CS Lewis
- The New Testament – NIV Translation
- The Emerald Atlas – John Stephens
- A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
Cheers, and a happy belated New Year to you all.