Category Archives: Updates

Jot 2017!!!

Jot 2017 just happened and it was amazing for several reasons.

It was our ninth Jot conference and since nine is a larger number than eight that means it was clearly a superior conference to all others which have come before it.

And we released our first book!

Check it out here!

It’s a fantastic resource for writers of all experience levels, but it’s aimed squarely at the beginning writer with the goal of providing an encouraging, educational nudge forward into the crazy world of writing.

A huge thanks to everyone involved, especially my awesome writer’s group, The Weaklings.

Looking forward to filling up that resource page with many more books in the future!

Happy writing!

Fall Jot 2016

Time again for another awesome edition of the Jot conference.

It’s free, it’s awesome, and it’s this Friday at 7 at Baker Book House 2768 East Paris Ave. SE Grand Rapids, MI 49546.

Come learn about writing, meet other writers, and maybe even do some writing yourself.

The writing journey can be a long, lonely, difficult one. We all need community. Come join one!


So seeing as how i am part of this writer’s group that puts on this conference that i also happen to be speaking at, i figured it would probably be a good idea if i posted something about it.

It’s called Jot and we try to do two a year, one in the fall and one in the spring. It’s a free mini conference that takes place over the course of an evening with 4-5 20 minute presentations with time afterwards to talk and write.

The goal is to bring people together to learn and connect. The writing journey is a tough lonely road and any opportunity to get together with fellow writer’s is a good thing.

Rather than rehash everything about it, feel free to check out this link

And if you happen to be in the Three Rivers area this coming Saturday feel free to check out the conference as well.

Jot Writer’s Conference

So i figured i’d mention the free writer’s conference my writer’s group puts on roughly twice a year at Baker Bookhouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

It;s called Jot, and it’s free, and it’s one evening. This coming Friday, March 13, 2015.

What more do you need to know? I would have stopped reading at the free part. Writing is a funny thing to try and learn because at some point you will reach a place where someone will tell you to attend a whole bunch of writer’s conferences to network and learn and all that stuff. Which takes time and money, and if you’re trying to start a writing career or just write something for your own personal edification, chances are time and money are low on the list of things you have lying around in abundance.

No excuses here. Its both free and a low time commitment, so if by some random twist of fate you happen to read this post and live somewhere conveniently close to Grand Rapids and have even a passing interest in writing, then i would recommend you stop on by.

After all, it’s just Friday the 13th, what’s the worst that could happen?

How to Stoke the Writing Flames

I’m in limbo at the moment. A self imposed limbo of sorts in that i am trying to take a break from writing to recharge my batteries before i revisit book one and tackle a major edit/polish. While i certainly have had more time to theoretically recharge, i am finding the distinction between letting my batteries recharge and letting them grow cold and dormant to be tricky to navigate.

The lack of writing has me feeling restless instead of relaxed and the further i get from my project the more negative type feelings start to creep in. The high of finishing a draft starts to diminish and all the insecurities that get temporarily drowned out by the euphoria come back with a vengeance.

The ‘why bothers’ start to dig in like weeds and my recharge becomes threatened by being turned into a draining of enthusiasm. So while i am not writing, i am finding that i need to do things that will keep my enthusiasm for my writing running at a nice even burn so that when the time comes to dive back in i am not trying to get a fire going in a block of ice.

Engaging other creative tasks helps keep those wheels turning.

Reading other stories for pleasure and self instruction will almost certainly have your mind buzzing about your own work. Be on guard though, the risk of comparing yourself to other successful writers is ever present and not a road you want to go down.

Read books on writing that are purely instructional. Sharpening your knowledge of the craft and adding something new to your toolbox is a great way to get things roaring. For me anyways, my brain goes into overdrive thinking of how i can apply what i’ve learned to my writing.  This is usually the last step i take before i start an edit because it almost guarantees i will be champing at the bit to get back to work.

I’m sure i will discover more ways to keep from sliding too far backwards, but for now these are the things that help. Hopefully within a month or so i will be back at the grind stone.

The Fork in the Road

It’s an odd feeling finishing the rough draft of a novel. On the one hand, it’s a major accomplishment. Many people dream of writing a book and to complete one, even a rough draft of one, should be celebrated.

Still, at the same time, there is a very tangible fear that comes along for the ride. When you’re in the middle of a project there’s nothing to really worry about aside from the creative process and if anyone asks what you’re working on in your spare time you can puff out your chest with pride and declare that you’re writing a novel.

Then whenever anyone asks after that, you can tell them you’re working on the plot or you’re shaping a character, or coming up with a dynamic title or anything else you can think of. Being in the middle of the process is safe, but when you’re finished, you are faced with a fork in the road. You can keep what you’ve written to yourself. Maybe you share it on a personal website or give it to a few interested friends to oh so carefully test the waters.

Or you can pursue publication and that means giving your precious novel to people who don’t know you or care about you. Editors can be cast in an unfairly harsh light, and while i would like to think that none of them gain any satisfaction from turning you and your dream away, it will almost certainly happen, it might happen often, repeatedly, for long periods of time. Even one rejection can be enough for a fledgling writer to call it quits, now imagine facing hundreds. I try not to think about it, instead, i will focus on whatever the next step is for me, and that’s editing and re-writing. I’m thinking two to three months before i give the first book in the series a serious shove out of the nest, and i know it won’t be easy, because a novel (Or any personal creative endeavor really) is a deeply personal thing, you are exposing a piece of yourself, a piece of your dreams and aspirations to be torn to shreds.

But there’s always the chance of success and it only takes one like minded person in the right position to come alongside your dream and take it to the next step in the journey.

For me, it’s worth the risk.

Week 12 of 10,000 Words. Success! Sort of…

So technically, kind of, maybe, i think i will call the draft finished.  It’s an odd feeling. On the one hand it’s hard to say it’s finished because it will certainly need a good deal of editing and re-writing, and on the other hand, when i sit and think it’s time to get to work on the novel i have to remind myself that there isn’t anything else to do for it right now, because it’s finished… sort of.

For those of us who love to write, you never really stop writing. You just move  on to something else. Now the question becomes, what do i work on?

My goal at this point is to take a small break and do some reading. I don’t generally read much while i’m writing, so this will give me a chance to just enjoy a book or two. Then i will dive back into editing the first book in the series. I love the story, i think it’s my best work to date and now i have the second part of the series waiting in the wings. Getting book 1 polished and getting it published are next on the agenda. No big deal…


Week 11 of 10,000 Words

It was more like 5,000 words. For some reason i saw that i was on the home stretch and the sense of urgency diminished.  I mentioned in an earlier post about the affliction of senior-itis that can strike as a writer and that’s pretty much what happened.

I have also noticed that getting to the end of a project is even scarier than starting one and i think a bit of, “Oh my word i am so close to this being done what do i do then.” sort of crept in on me.

No matter, because there should only be one week left. By this time next week the draft should be finished.

Week 10 of 10,000 Words

Got back on track this week and hit my mark despite the new year. My big writing goal for last year was to have this draft done and it looks like i will be a few weeks over the limit, but no biggie.

Haven’t yet decided what this years writing goal will be, i am leaning towards taking over the publishing world and making billions of dollars, that sounds reasonably attainable.

Looking like two more weeks, if i can hit my mark for each one, and this draft will be done. I’m hoping to gain some momentum as i tumble down the hill toward the finish line.

Week 9 of 10,000 Words Destroyed by Christmas

I gave it my best shot but in the end the holiday proved to be too much for me to work around and my epic streak of writing 10,000 words a week has come to a halt. This just goes to show that if you want to get any writing done the most important thing is to alienate all your friends and family members so that when holidays roll around your calendar remains serenely empty.

At first i was pretty bummed out. I tried to squeeze writing in around traveling and celebrating but i was never able to gain any traction. Instead of coming down super hard on myself i ultimately decided to just give myself a break. As much as i would have loved to keep the streak going, it’s just one week, and no matter how well you try to plan for stuff there will always be unplanned stuff that gets in the way. If you don’t give yourself some grace when that happens it will suck all the life right out of you.

So it’s a new week. I actually have found the brief time off writing to be refreshing. Hopefully the rest of the story will breeze right onto the page.


Week 7 of 10,000 Words

Hit my goal again and crossed the 100,000 word mark for the current draft last week. I had been adding bits and pieces slowly before going on this writing bonanza which accounts for the first 30,000 words or so. I think I’ve pushed through the slogging middle portion and can now see the end in sight.

If all goes well it will be another 3-4 weeks and the draft will be complete. Should put the word count very close to the first book in the series which will be nice for the sake of symmetry.



Week 5 of 10,000 Words and a Happy Thanksgiving

It was a rough writing week with the holiday. Always great to see family but it puts a damper on my writing momentum. Fortunately i was able to spew out enough words to reach the mark for the fifth week in a row.

Now I’m all full of delicious food from the long weekend and primed for another week of writing.

Hope everyone had a restorative and uplifting holiday.

Week 4 of 10,000 Words

So far so good. I’ve managed to keep up the pace for the last four weeks. I can honestly say my brain is getting a bit fatigued.

I estimate i am right around the half way point of the draft itself. I have found the first half of any project to be the uphill half. Hopefully being on the downhill half will help with some of the fatigue.

I am eagerly looking forward to its completion and the time when i have more head space to devote to posting other stuff. For now, it’s thousands and thousands of words before i get to rest.

Week 3 of 10,000 Words

Another successful week of reaching 10,000 words. I have managed to double the size of the current manuscript in the past three weeks, which is exciting.

If i can keep up the pace it will be doubled again (And hopefully finished or at least nearly so) in six more weeks. I imagine things will get a bit difficult to manage with the holidays coming up, but i will keep my focus as best i can.

Week four of my goal officially starts after this post. Wish me luck.

The Home Stretch

The term “senioritis” comes to mind, though i’m not exactly sure i spelled that correctly or if there is even an officially correct spelling since i’m pretty sure it’s a made up word, but i first heard it in college so i know it’s a thing.

It refers to the idea that when you’ve been working on your degree for the last however many years and you finally reach the home stretch, suddenly you begin to skip classes and slack off on assignments and whatnot.

The end is so close you can literally see it approaching on your calendar. Why keep working hard? Your GPA soon won’t matter. If you bomb your last test you will probably still pass and that means you will probably still graduate and that means you will probably never see any of your professors again or care at all about their scrunched up disapproving faces.

It’s a mindset that can strike any long project. Work out goals, diet goals, personal projects, home improvement projects, whatever. For some reason, all that work you did at the start grinds you down and by the time you can see that the end of your suffering is near, you take your foot off the gas and you coast the rest of the way.

Writing, unfortunately, has multiple stages that can easily be affected by senioritis. Your first draft for instance, or your first edit, or just starting your first edit after you just put all that work into finishing your first draft. Then there’s revisions and rewrites and the cycle goes around and around. Each stage can drain you, leaving you exhausted and eager to just coast for a while.

Coasting can very quickly become stopping, which becomes stagnation. Maybe you stopped in the middle of a chapter and left it for months. Getting back into that mindset, picking up where you left off can feel like going on an archaeological dig into your manuscript, unearthing whatever came before and trying to decipher exactly what that strange creature from before was thinking when they wrote that strange and unfamiliar series of symbols.

Momentum is key. So is self discipline. Commit to write so many words a day or a week whether you feel inspired or not. Writer’s groups can be great for accountability. Anyone you value can be great accountability for that matter, just tell them to poke you once a week and check up on your weekly goal.

If you want to write, you do whatever it takes to stave off the slow crawl into stagnation, and when you see the homestretch approaching, for whatever stage of the journey your on, you put your foot down to the floor and cross the finish line with your engine roaring.

I am approaching a sort of artificially imposed homestretch. I want the first draft of the next book i am working on to be done by the end of the calender year. This will not be easy, but i will do my best to do it, and even if i don’t make it exactly when i want, there will be no senioritis involved.

What’s the goal? 2500 words a day or 10,000 words a week.

I’ll let you know how it goes.


What to blog about as a fiction writer.

Non fiction blogs are easy. Whatever you want your book to be about, that’s what you blog about. Want to write a book about parenting? Blog about parenting. Want to write a book about traveling? Blog about traveling. Want to write a book about how to make homemade ninja weapons? Blog about making homemade ninja weapons.

This gives you the chance to share your voice with your potential audience at the same time that you are building that audience and establishing yourself as an expert on your chosen topic.

The formula is pretty simple, but what about fiction? The content and quality of your story takes center stage, but you are still expected to have an online presence, and that means a blog, among other things.

A blog means you need blog posts and that means…what exactly?

Blog posts for non fiction should line up with the book in question. Many times blog content becomes incorporated into any books that get written. So the bulk of the content is always pulling in one direction. The writing efforts are in sync. You don’t have to wrack your brain over what to post on your blog, then wrack your brain over what the next chapter in your novel is going to be.

It is this divided focus i have found to be a challenge to manage in the past. I had years of posts archived at the same time i was working on a novel, and then i just burned out. The posts stopped while the novel continued, and for anyone who has ever struggled to keep a blog fresh, you know how hard it is to get back on that horse after a lapse has occurred.

Doubly so for me since i still wasn’t sure what i would even be able to come up with for regular posts.

Years passed. My large projects moved forward, and i found myself circling back to the need to have a website which brought me face to face once more with the need to know what sort of a direction my blog would take.

The answer still isn’t ultra clear, but it’s less fuzzy than it was in the past. Thanks in part to a business book i read recently called Start With Why by Simon Sinek.

I had always looked at myself like this. I am an author, i write stories. I focused on what i was creating instead of why i was creating it in much the same way a company starts with what they do instead of why they do it.

So why do i write? I write because i love stories and it is my dream to share some of the stories i have created with the world. No matter what happens with my writing career in the future, be it massive commercial success, perpetual toiling in obscurity, or anything in between, my love of stories will remain constant. And i know there are lots and lots of people out there who also love stories, and dream of sharing them with the world the same way i do. It is that connection i hope to create with this blog. That is my why and it will give this blog purpose. What that looks like in execution is still taking shape, but i am excited to shape it.