My Writing Process Blog Hop

Jeff Chapman, a friend and local writer asked me to participate in a blog hop discussing my writing process. Jeff writes speculative fiction that falls somewhere in the fairy tale, fantasy, and ghost story genres. You can read Jeff’s post here. Thanks for the invite Jeff!

What am I working on?

I’ve finished book one of my Seven Sages fantasy series and sent that off to an agent. She is reviewing it now. I have started the second one, and plan to finish that by the end of the summer. I also have a few short stories to submit but I generally write whatever I have a passion for at the time, but I don’t like leaving things unfinished so I don’t allow myself to get distracted from my main project too long. So to make a long story short, one book and a few short stories at the same time.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

A great question, Jeff! Whenever I hear the word fantasy, I cringe. I immediately think of a bare chested man hugging a snow leopard on the cover. But I write fantasy so yes, this is a paradox. My fantasy has more dialogue and mystery, than sword wielding and battle. Although, these are not missing from my work. I love the works of JRR Tolkien (what fantasy writer doesn’t!) but I also like a good mystery book as well and I’ve tried my best to blend mystery and YA, in a fantasy world.

Why do I write what I do?

Sir_John_Mandeville's_Travels
From Sir John Mandeville’s Travels cir., 1410

Sometimes the story finds you. I really enjoy history, not just memorizing dates, but works like Fantasy Islands of the Atlantic –stories about Islands that appeared on maps for centuries that never existed. Or 1421 the year China discovered America, and listening to these arguments. I am reading the Travels and Sir John Mandeville, which is an account of a trip from England to Jerusalem all the way to the steps of Asia and the tent of the Great Khan. This account was a complete lie, with mystical beasts and extraordinary tales, but reigned as the authority on countries in the east for centuries. I stumbled across the idea of my book and my world while reading books like these about nine years ago. I’ve been writing short stories and books in this world ever since.

How does your writing process work?

I write whenever I have time. Sometimes that means I bring my laptop into bed and write late into the night. Other times it means I am up at quarter to six to get my words in. As I have three kids under five, anything can happen at any time, so I have to steal writing time to write when I can. My wife is always gracious and allows me to chase my passions. I could not do it without her.

In regards to what I do when I write, I always read the last two paragraphs I wrote before to get a feel for where I need to go. I usually stop writing at a point that is extremely interesting to me, so I have something exciting or interesting to write when I come to the page again. At times I am tired and spent. However , a book does not write itself, and writing is about coming to the page consistently whether you have the appetite or energy for it or not.

Thanks for the invite Jeff.

I’ve asked Josh Mosey to participate I (and a few others I’ll add later). He’s a blogger, flash fiction writer, part of the Weaklings, cofounder of the Jot Writers Conference, and a good friend. Check out his post next week, but check out his blog for now.

Cheers,

Bob

 

 

A Killer First Line And A Killer First Page

Jot is done. The conference was a blast and not because my writers group put it together, but because it was packed, I met several new writers, learned a ton and was encouraged to write. Among the speakers was keynote Tracy Groot. She shared her ideas on pop lit.

During an interview with her on the Jot Conference blog, she listed six things that a good pop lit book, (or all good books) should have:

  • A killer first line
  • A killer first page
  • Action, action, action
  • But not TOO much action
  • Lovely little details
  • Stuff to think about

I am beginning the next book my Seven Sages series and have a fairly solid idea where I am going with it. I drafted it years ago and split it into two books. Because I already have a good idea of what must happen to get my characters through the book (or sadly lay them to rest), I thought I would examine these six things a little more and see what I can do to make sure my book incorporates them. I started with the first two – the killer first line and the killer first page.

The first line I was thinking of was something like – They were right behind him.

What’s more exciting than starting with a chase scene? Who is this person? What are they running from?  I think the luxury of writing a second book in a series is that you already have the characters established. There is growth or change in the people in the book but when you say Thaddeus, or whoever your main character is, the audience already knows who you are talking about. So, you can mess with your audience a bit and really crank up the action.

How about the killer first page? With line one, we’ve already established that there is a chase going on, so what does a good chase scene need? Near misses? Silences followed by loud noises? A character hiding while their pursuer walks slowly past, dragging their feet, as they search inches from the character hiding?

My scene takes place in mysterious wood so why not a near miss, followed by a silence followed by running into a beast that cries out letting his trackers know where he is? I am just playing with this idea now, but let’s face, attention spans are shorter now. We need to do what we can to get our readers invested and down the shoot and into our world as quickly as possible. Action, should not be for the sake of action, it must be important to the story. It must pull our readers in and not let them go. If your book has no need for a chase scene, why not an argument or some other form of intense dialogue to begin the story?

What have your done to make your first line and first page stronger?

There is much more to write, and much more to learn, so off to it.

Write 500 words today.

Cheers,

Bob

Last Minute Jot Information and LiveStream

Jot: The GR Writers Mini-Conference

Hello writing friends. I wanted to inform you of a few last minute details regarding Jot.

  • The parking lot may fill up quickly. If so, consider parking in the TCBY parking lot instead of the one by La Cantina, unless you want your car towed. This is the safest parking lot nearby.

If you cannot make it, there are two ways to join us:

See you in a few hours!

The Weaklings

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How to Get the Most Out of Jot

Jot: The GR Writers Mini-Conference

jotI’ve read it in writing magazines and on blogs and websites of famous writers that going to writer’s conference is one of the best things you can do if you are serious about being a writer. Writing conferences are part education, part encouragement, and part filler of that elusive creative well.

If you’ve been to Jot, I hope you’ve experienced these things.

Writing can be a lonely process. This is not just true for us amateurs but for professionals too. In the book CS Lewis: Eccentric Genius. Reluctant Prophet., Alister McGrath points out that Tolkien (older and well respected in higher education circles of his day) timidly showed CS Lewis one of his poems he had been working on. Lewis approved of it so enthusiastically, he showed him more. In part, because of that encouragement we now have The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. Being around other writers…

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Interview With Christy Award Winning Author & Jot Keynote Tracy Groot

Jot: The GR Writers Mini-Conference

jot Jot is ONE day away! The Weaklings are excited. The presenters are as well. I hope you are giddy with excitement too. Where else can you rub shoulders with other writers, drink copious amounts of great coffee in an amazing bookstore, and get spectacular advice from publishing professionals all for FREE?!?! (There should be about a billion more exclamation points).

Christy Award winning author Tracy Groot is our keynote speaker for this installment of Jot. The Weaklings are thrilled that she agreed to join us. She wants to share on the topic of pop lit, but more than that, she wants to have a discussion and throw around ideas on what makes a great pop-lit book. I hope you come ready to join in the discussion. Below, I’ve asked her a few questions to help Jot attendees get to know her a little better.

1. Tracy, tell a little bit…

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Writer, Have You Lost Your Motivation? Chad Allen Is Here To Help!

A great interview with Editorial Director Chad Allen of Baker Book House. He’ll be speaking at Jot this Friday. Hope to see you there!

Jot: The GR Writers Mini-Conference

Jot the GR Writers Mini-Conference is THIS Friday. Have you called that writer friend you know to invite them? You’ve got a sitter for the kids, right? You’ve remembered to request the night off of work? Good. Well done. It is going to be amazing.

Since we’re talking about amazing, Chad Allen, Editorial Director at Baker Books, is speaking at Jot. He’s here to encourage us as we chase our writing dreams.

Chad’s topic in a nutshell:

You Can Do This: An Editor’s Manifesto: How to Stay Motivated and Keep Moving toward Publication

The road to getting published can be tough. How can you improve your writing, build your platform, hold down a day job, and still have a life? What practices can writers use to find their voice and produce their best work? In this presentation editor Chad R. Allen shares strategies to help writers be successful over the long…

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Jot Interview Susie Finkbeiner On Characters

Friends, with each passing minute we are getting close to Jot!

The latest installment of the free West Michigan Writers conference has a tremendous line up. If you are not in the state or on this side of the globe, we’ll be doing a live broadcast as well. I’ll post a link when it is available.

For the full list of presenters, please go here.jot

Local Author Susie Finkbeiner shares her love of characters and how we might create ones our readers might never forget. Check out the link here.

See you at the Conference!

Cheers,

Bob

 

On the Origin of Jot

Josh Mosey | Writer

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word “jot” stems from the Latin “jota” which is a derivation of the Greek “iota”, the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet. Thus, a jot is one of the smallest things you can write. And it has taken this meaning as both noun (the smallest letter) and verb (to write a small amount).

Jot is also the name that my writer’s group settled on when we came up with our free, one-night writer’s conference concept. As busy guys with full-time jobs and families, we don’t always have the time or money to attend big writers’ conferences, awesome though they be. So we decided to start one of our own targeting the needs of people like us.

So the Jot Conference, or mini-conference if you prefer, is one night only. It is free to attend. And it offers quality sessions on a variety…

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Parent Writer – On Writing with Kids

An Actual Parent-Writer
An Actual Parent-Writer

Being a parent is like being a Navy Seal. You get little sleep. You are called at any moment, day or night. Though exhausted and pushed to the limits of human endurance, you somehow make it through. Then comes the next day.

Having the dream of publication and the responsibility of raising children can be like spitting in the wind at times. Your days are filled with the greatest joys and most difficult challenges. I’ve tried to write at night and in the morning only to be thwarted by the cutest little girls and happiest little boy in the world.

Many times I’ve rose early, take a sip of my black coffee, smile and sat down at the computer then – “Daddy! I woke up!” calls my 2 year old Clara. Then her sister June gets up and the fun begins.

I love writing, but I gladly set it aside any time I can for my children.

How do I get anything done? I take one night a week to write to go and write for a few hours with my writers group, after the kids are down.  Also, I usually have some time before work or before I got to bed a few days each week. I believe it was Madeleine L’Engle who talked about writing in the cracks of life. As parents who write, we do what we can and keep going, building the habit now, rather than waiting for the time when we’re on a more consistent schedule.

Writing with kids is never easy. But parenting is my first love. Besides, I get to see the world through their eyes and am inspired to be a better person, and better parent. I want to try harder at things, to be a good example, to be disciplined and soft, loving, and kind. Living life is the best way to find inspiration for my work. There is no better way to live life than to share it with those we love.

Love your kids today writers.

Cheers,

Bob

Jot Presenter Interview – What Novelists Can Learn From Screenwriters

Get ready West Michigan. Jot 3 the GR mini writers conference is next week March 14th!

We have reached out to each presenter for an interview to help the audience get to know them better before the conference. Even if you are not in West Michigan, or on this side of the world, I wanted to include the information here on my blog.

For the ful list of presenters, please go here.jot

The link to Indie author Thomas McClurg’s interview on What Novelists Can Learn from Screenwriters is here.

We hope to see you at the conference!

Cheers,

Bob