Saturday, October 22, 2016

"Aspiring Writer"

Aspiring Writer. I see this term all over the Internet, on TV, in movies, everywhere, and it always carries such a hopeful, yet negative connotation. I admit there was a time when my profile description on Twitter read aspiring writer. I have since changed that.

According to Webster, aspire means to seek to attain or accomplish a particular goal. As an aspiring writer, it would then mean to seek or to accomplish being a writer.
A writer is someone who has written something. It is also defined as someone whose work is to write books, poems, stories, etc.

Based on these definitions, it is safe to say that someone who writes, is no longer aspiring, but rather is someone who is in fact a writer.

All that being said, there is some unknown reason that writers believe that unless their works are picked up by an agent, editor, publisher, etc., their work is of little value and therefore, drops them back into the aspiring category. I find this to be cruel and unfair.

The writing world has been evolving since the beginning of the Internet. I can remember querying my first work through the mail. There was quite a few photocopying, envelope licking, and stamp sticking. It was quite the process. But when email picked up, it made the whole thing so much easier. Easier doesn't mean better, though. Email made the querying so much faster and accessible that I imagine agents became inundated with queries, which in turn muddled the process. Now, the agent world is incredible subjective, and with so many more queries this meant that the odds of getting an agent decreased exponentially. More and more writers switched to aspiring because there were no words of affirmation.

Then the indie world blossomed into something I don't think anyone could have imagined. It is now possible to write a book one day, publish the next. This definitely doesn't mean the quality hasn't decreased, but it has given authors a chance to see their words in the world. It means more eyes can see the work of the masses who were passed in the subjective world.

I would love to say that everything I write is good, but the reality is that it probably is not the best it could be. I am trying though. I've put out two books via create space and I have the pleasure to see dozens of kids reading my work. Even if it's only local, I am making a difference in kids' lives. Because of this I am not an aspiring writer. I am a writer.

I hope that more writers start to see themselves in the same light. We, as a collective, need to stick together and build each other up. We need to stop the self promotion and start promoting each other. I am not saying to stop querying agents at all. I do believe that if you want to see yourself in the major distributors that is the path you want/need to take, but I also believe that if you choose to go on your own, you are still a writer. We all are. I say no more to the "Aspiring Writer" tags so many want to use. Drop the "Aspiring" and keep the "Writer" because that's exactly what you are.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Back in the Writing World

I've crossed the threshold and my books are moving into print. I never thought I'd see one of my books in the physical hands of people around me, but in August, I stepped into the publishing world with Keridwen. Yes, it was an ebook for years, but after even more editing and revising, I opted to get it to people who don't want to read on readers. It's been quite the ride. Now, Keridwen can be found on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, as well as multiple other online vendors. What a trip! My school library has two copies and it has a wait list for kids to check them out. Caitlyn and her Druid friends are becoming a part of dozens of teens' lives. I love it! I have conversations with kids about the book daily. There are amazing questions about druids, and even more about when Guardians is coming out. I've now vowed to release Guardians before Thanksgiving. I have some serious work to do, but it will get done.

http://amzn.to/2evxEKU

My latest book is Ticket to Heaven. After a tragic texting accident, Maddie Jones finds herself stuck in her hometown with no idea how to move on to Heaven. All she knows is that because of the world’s overpopulation, Heaven can’t handle the influx of the dead, so a new process has been established. The dead must have a bus ticket to Heaven. With little to no knowledge on how to obtain this ticket, the only companion she has is her elderly deceased neighbor, Mr. Fowler, who acts more as a mentor and guide than a friend. Matters get worse when Aaron DeCann, the star quarterback from her high school, joins her in their purgatory town. As a ‘hipster’, she hates everything he represents, but Maddie must learn to look beyond her preconceptions in order to work with Aaron to earn their passage to Heaven. Together, they discover that everyone there has a story and each person has a unique lesson to learn, but it isn’t enough. Maddie and Aaron must figure out what they each have to learn to get their own tickets to Heaven without killing each other first.

Ticket to Heaven was a labor of love, and I'm very proud of its unique tale of love lost and love found. I hope that many get a chance to read it.

http://amzn.to/2elKUpx

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Taking Me Back

It's funny because for over ten years I've been chasing the approval of others with hopes of becoming a traditionally published author. KERIDWEN, my favorite novel about Druids and magic, is now available on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com and every other online vendor in print form. It's by far my favorite original work. But then there are four other novels I want out there. ALL'S FAIR IN LOVE AND TEXTS will now just be LOVE AND TEXTS. After reading through it, I can see that it was me definitely me as a young author. At nearly 40 years old, I see that it needs revision, if not a total overhaul, so that will be a  new project. GUARDIANS will be the sequel to KERIDWEN. It's almost done and I'm so excited about it, as it is really something I've been working on for a while and putting my heart into.

TICKET TO HEAVEN is in the final process of rewrite/editing. This novel is based on the idea that Heaven is full and you have to earn your ticket into heaven. We don't always accomplish what we're supposed to when we're alive, so we need to do that before getting in to heaven when we die. This has been a WIP for three years, and now I'm confident it's going to be something people want to read.

TO WHERE AND BACK is for sure the last in the line - not because it's the worst, but because it's the most painful for me to read. This novel helped me process the death of so many students I've had who have died in combat overseas. It's a labor of love, and I hope it really does give comfort to those who may have lost loved ones before their time.

There it is...the five novels I'm putting out over the next 12 months, if not sooner. I'm so excited to take control of my own destiny, as opposed to playing the query game, which I do respect. That being said, I've endured years of rejection or just plain ignoring. I completely understand that this is a subjective business, and I respect the process. I have seen authors who have signed on with agents, been picked up by a publisher, printed books, and are still struggling. It's really a hit or miss industry based on the person representing you taking a chance. Well, I'm taking a chance on me. As much as I'd love to say I have an agent who is selling my works to Random House, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, etc. I am ok with the idea that that is not in my future. It is definitely a subjective industry that I didn't hit at the right time with the right person.

All that being said, I am writing this to be an encouragement to others like myself. I teach students who want to be professional athletes. We try to explain the odds to them while encouraging a back-up plan. This is my back-up plan. But I'm not sad about it. I'm empowered. I'm not willing to do the work required to put my work out there, and it's good. As an English teacher, I know the grammar is solid, and the stories follow what people naturally expect. I'm ready. I'm confident.

Good luck to everyone else who is trying to put their work out there. It's scary. It's exciting. But most importantly, it's yours. Embrace it.

I love writing, and I'll never stop.

J