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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dreaming

It's that time of year; the busy, crazy several months that make me collapse onto my bed at the end of the day. I don't get much writing done during these three months. In fact, I don't get much of anything other than life done. That's okay. This is the time when I dream. This is the time when  my stories come alive in my mind while I plot and plan and imagine what could be.

So I'm quiet. And that's okay . . . because I'm dreaming. Talk to you soon.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

On Differences

There are people who don't like Star Wars. Gasp! The horror! How in the world can that be? Star Wars. Really? It's not possible. No Way! There is no freakin' way someone couldn't like Star Wars.

Yeah, there is.

It's all a matter of opinion.

As an artist (writer, in my case), my dream is that everyone would instantly fall in love with my creations. I have this vision in my head that angels would sing and people would dance in the street praising the latest words I put on page. (Okay, I exaggerate. But you get the point.) It's not reality, nor can it ever become such. The truth is, people have their opinions.

I for example, (please don't throw things at my blog) don't like the movie Les Miserables. Own it. Seen it. Don't like it. That doesn't mean the actors are bad, or that the singing is horrible. It just means that I'm not a fan. I am; however, a big fan of Victor Hugo. I studied him a lot while I was in France and used some of his passages to advance my skills in French. And it doesn't mean I don't like musicals. I just don't like that one.

One of the fantastic elements about life is the fact that we're all different. Because of these differences, colorful ideas and creations intertwine and flow among us to create the universe. We perceive the world through senses built on experience and taste. If we were all the same, we'd all wear the same clothes, listen to the same music, and (gasp) write the same stories. And that would be boring.

So like what you like. Do what you do. And share what inspires you.

Happy Reading.

~ Jamie



Friday, September 13, 2013

Clean Books for $0.99 Today


Hi everyone. I've teamed up with a group of fantastic authors to present clean books for $0.99 today. That's right, all books listed above are $0.99. Today only. And, here's the bonus, they are all clean reads. No sex, no swearing, and no graphic violence. Just visit http://cleanauthors.com/ for the list and links to all the books.

Happy Reading.

~ Jamie

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I've been a Bad Blogger

I'm here. I promise. This time of year is my busiest. Getting the kids ready and back to school, amping up for the holiday season at work, writing, and editing like crazy. There's no excuse for leaving silence on this page; however, my mind has not been too far away.

I wrote three books so far this year. Yep. Three. First is a book called In Forgotten Dreams. It's book four in the Stone Portals Series and is the most intense installment yet. I can't wait to share it. Rhiannon learns the secrets to the stone portals and discovers who Darian really is. Second is a book called Jesse Wolfe and the Lost City (or something like that--I keep changing the title.) It's a middle grade novel about a boy in the 1850s. Jesse and his twin brother Jack escape exploding trains and dangerous bandits while searching for their father and the lost city of gold. Third is a book called Dead and Gone. It's the sequel to my zombie book. The apocalypse is here and Ryan Moon is caught in the middle. With no one left to help him, he must survive attacks from the infected and escape the clutches of his girlfriend's dad and the National Guard. I also started a fourth book, but quickly realized I need help with the genre. It's a love story I'm calling Wedding Dresses. I need to read a lot of Nicholas Sparks book before I'm even close to ready to tackling a story like this.

I've also been editing Under Darkened Skies like mad. It's the longest book of the Stone Portals series and super intense. My zombie book, Dead and Beloved, is out testing the waters of agentland. I'm more excited about this book than any of my others. This book was a thrill to write and response from my beta readers has been fantastic.

So there you have it. I've been busy, just not busy on this blog. I'm sorry. I'll do better. In fact, there's some exciting news coming next week that I'll be sure to share here. Until then,

Happy Reading

~ Jamie

Monday, August 5, 2013

psst...

Did you know I've posted chapter one of UNDER DARKENED SKIES at my facebook page? Yeah, I did. Here's the link: Chapter One.

Happy Reading.

~ Jamie

Monday, July 29, 2013

These Moments pass Swiftly

Before leaving for work this morning, I was telling my wife how much of a difference a few minutes delay can make in my commute. I told her that if I didn’t time my drive right, I would get caught in traffic and add as much as 20 minutes to my travel time. Well, I happened to be leaving a couple minutes later and knew there would be some delay. Then I walked out the front door and saw this:
Sunrise, July 29 2013

 I called my wife over and snapped a couple photos before suddenly, it ended. And that was that.
I think that some of the most spectacular moments in life are like this sunrise. They arrive and pass so swiftly that, most of the time, we miss them. In this crazy fast world of digital real time living, it’s easy to overlook the little miracles that shape most of our existence. I have seen the sunrise most of the days of my life, but I have never seen one like this and I’m not soon to forget this one either.

Happy living.

 ~ Jamie

Monday, July 8, 2013

Revisiting old Stories

I feel like a hoarder. Not of objects, but of stories. I have a lot of stories. They are swarming around in my mind, fighting for position near the front of my consciousness, all hoping to become the next project to make it onto my screen. There are so many stories that I think I might explode until I get them out. So I’m writing as fast and as often as I can, which isn’t as fast and as often as I need.
My latest project is an experiment into Middle Grade fiction. It’s a book loosely based on a story I imagined back in 2008 when I decided to try writing again. I started writing that book with absolutely no idea how to begin. I only knew that I wanted to create a story, and a novel seemed like the best way to do that. After a few days, the project died—or rather, my laptop died. I dropped it and the screen went dark. I kept the laptop so that I could retrieve the data later.
A few weeks ago, I salvaged the old idea and decided it was worth investing in. Now it’s a living, breathing project with hope and 15,000 words. I can already tell that a few years of consistent writing and a handful of completed novels have helped make this story much better than what it would have been in 2008.

So that’s where I’m at. While every idea that comes to me doesn’t immediately turn into my current WIP, all of them get written down and stored until later. Someday, sometime, I might turn to these dusty old files I keep and turn them into a novel. One day, they might even sell. Until then, I’m gonna keep writing and gonna keep dreaming. Because that’s what makes this writing adventure so fun.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Took Some Time Off

I'm still around. I took some much needed time off and went to Bear Lake and then Disneyland with my family. It was a great vacation. When I returned, I had a brand new book idea which I have quickly turned into a WIP. Getting back to work and life is stealing all my time at the moment, so this post will be brief. Actually, this post is done. Have a great week. Happy summer. I'll return in a week or so.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

In That Place

I'm supposed to be writing at the moment, but thought I should take some time real fast to share how I feel. I'm good.
No, really. I'm good.
For some reason, the writing world doesn't seem so dark and foreboding. There's not this giant cloud of "I must get published" hanging over me which, by the way, kind of was around since I restarted writing back in 2009. I don't know why I feel this way. It's not that today was super special. I got a rejection letter and didn't fret. At all. I got a request from an editor and didn't rush to send the file. Nope. I'm just chillin', enjoying the journey. And that's what this is. A journey.
Perhaps it took me a few years to realize what I've posted in the heading of this blog. It's not a rush. Well, it's not for me. It's a JOURNEY. And for me, it's been good times.
While not evident on this blog, I can tell you that my writing has improved a lot over these past few years. That's something to feel good about. There was 20 years of rust to shake off when I resumed my passion to write. Yeah, 20 years of not writing a word. Not one. My wife didn't even know I loved writing. I had stopped before meeting her. 20 years is a long time for bad habits, poor storytelling, and everything else that can hinder a writer to set in. The rust is gone now. I feel like it is.
And I have plenty of story ideas. Lots of them. There's something else to feel good about. I'll never run out of material. Never. If I were to drop everything else in my life and just write, I'd be busy for years with all of the ideas I have notes for at the moment. I'll get to some. Perhaps. Or I'll write something else.
That's the last thing I want to share tonight. Writers write. We know that. Others know that. It's true. It's all I do. Once the kids are in bed, I'm plotting or writing or editing or something. There's always a gear turning the writer's mind inside of me. Writing is what I do. And that makes me happy.

~ Jamie

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

After Storymakers


Have you ever attended an event so wonderful that the crash of reality leaves you longing? Yeah? Me too.
I’ve attended the LDStorymakers conference the past few years and this year’s conference was the best. When I say the best, I mean it was better by a grand margin. The other conferences didn’t even come close. Okay, I’m sure I’m exaggerating—but it was a great conference. In fact, I’m getting all tingly just writing about it.
The classes were fabulous. I found myself undecided at times as to which course to take, because there were so many good ones, and was always pleased with the information given. It was as if the speakers had prepared topics that I needed to hear and learn from right now—like they knew what I was looking for. And they delivered. Again, fabulous.
One highlight from this year was the writer’s boot camp. I’m been focusing lately on getting back to basics, working on the craft of great storytelling, and signed up for the boot camp to get fresh perspective. I am so glad that I did. It was a wonderful experience and opened my eyes to a few things I’m missing in my writing.
Then there was Anne Perry. (Excuse me for a moment while I sigh with elation.) Anne Perry. I didn’t know who she was before the conference, but now I’m a fan. She was fantastic. I’ve never learned so much from a writer before. She is a master. Her words opened my eyes to concepts I never dreamed could be applied to the art of storytelling. Listening to her speak was worth ten times the cost of the conference to me and the highlight was hearing her read from her own works. I feel like I’m a better writer just for being there. Yeah, she’s that awesome.
So the conference was great, and the people I met were amazing, and the experience was one that I’ll cherish forever. Now I’m here, back on earth, working and living and surviving the inevitable crash that comes after such a wonderful event. I’m going to write, and write, and write some more, and do my best to meet the standards of excellence set into my mind from Storymakers.

~ Jamie

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Writer's Voice Entry

As part of the process to move forward with my newest project, I’ve entered a couple contests. One contest, The Writer’s Voice, randomly selected 150 participants who will have the chance to receive feedback and guidance on both queries and the first 250 words of a manuscript from some wonderful coaches. I have been selected to participate and am thoroughly thrilled at the opportunity. This is my first time dabbling in a contest like this, so I’m a little nervous; however, I know I’ll be in good hands.


Okay. The contest is over so I'm removing the details of my entry. Hopefully,  we'll all get to read the first page in print one day. Congrats to all the fine folks who moved on and received requests. There were some great entries. 

~ Jamie

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

10 Things NOT to do at Storymakers


Next week is Storymakers! I know, I know, this is my second post about it in a week. I’m excited. Can you tell?
I’ve been preparing for the conference by painting my car windows and ironing my socks and such. Just kidding. I'm a procrastinator. I still haven’t printed my pages for bootcamp. I have, however, been thinking about all the good times in store. I love going to writers conferences and can't wait to interact with everyone.
In honor of the event, I thought I’d throw a little bit of fun your direction. It's strange and goofy and off the wall, but it's me. Here are ten things not to do at Storymakers:

  1. Wear a cape and a mask and dart from corner to corner.
  2. Put windshield repair flyers on all the cars in the parking lot.
  3. Introduce yourself using an opera voice.
  4. Wear a pair of puppy hand puppets and have conversations back and forth.
  5. Yell “Amen! I believe.” after every speaker.
  6. Randomly pick a person and loudly announce to the conference that it’s their birthday.
  7. Whistle the Andy Griffith theme song nonstop between classes.
  8. Spray Lysol everywhere without an explanation.
  9. Constantly laugh like that little guy in Jabba’s palace.
  10. Raise your hand to answer a question, then share a story from your mission.

I promise: I will not do any of these at Storymakers! See you there.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Writing...The Long Walk


You know the book. Stephen King’s first novel, later published under the name Richard Bachman. The contestants walk at four mph until there’s only one left. The winner gets anything he wants. The losers…well, they don’t keep walking.

Today I’m feeling like a walker.

I remember when I first started blogging; I was so fresh, so eager, so excited. I set up a Twitter account. I started sharing my thoughts. And followers came. I reached out to other bloggers, unsullied writers seeking the same interaction. We were a collection word walkers, some farther along the trail than others, all seeking to stay ahead of the pace and claim the ultimate prize. We entered contests and shared stories. I emailed a few almost daily we shared passages and encouragement.

That was two years ago.

Today I still love writing. I enjoy blogging. I enjoy twitter. Many of the other writers are gone, though. Some announced their lives had changed and they wouldn’t be updating any social networks regularly, only to slowly fade away; others posted great writing advice one day, then nothing…silence.

And I’m still writing.

It feels different. Quiet. Maybe I took a wrong turn and am on a different road. Perhaps everyone left me in the dust and I’m a straggler. I don’t know. But like the book where the walking never seems to end, here I am. Still writing, still walking. I read somewhere that a professional author is an amateur that didn’t quit. I’m not quitting. I love writing too much. That’s why I’m here.

If you are out there writing and creating—I salute you. We share the same road. You, like me, are a walker. You’re still there, dreaming and working toward the future. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Two Weeks to Go


This has been an active spring. Between work, school plays, sports, family time, writing, preparation for vacation, music lessons and concerts, hiding from the weather, my church calling, and a new commitment to regular exercise, I rarely get a moment to just relax.

Wait. Here’s a quick moment. Deep breath. Sigh. Okay, the moment is over. That was nice, though.

I get to go to a writers conference in two weeks. It’s the only writers conference I regularly attend and, honestly, my only opportunity to take an extended break from reality for a day or two. Yeah, it’s LDStorymakers and I can’t wait.

For me, going to an event like this is energizing. It’s a chance to renew my passion for writing while absorbing information from authors, editors, and publishers. I have a ton to learn and there’s always more than enough great information. In fact, the hardest part is choosing from so many great classes. I also love the interaction with other authors because it’s the only chance I get for 365 days.

I’m especially excited this year because I have a new project under my belt. I signed up for the boot camp and can’t wait for the feedback on the first chapter—even though my table might chase me away and tell me I’m crazy after they read it. Shh. Don’t tell them. It’s about a zombie in high school. I had a great time at boot camp two years ago and fully expect an equally fantastic experience this year.

So if you’re going to Storymakers13, don’t be a stranger. Say hi, tweet me zany messages during class, and tell me all about your soon-to-be bestseller! See you there.

~ Jamie

Monday, April 15, 2013

Rearranging the Furniture


I don’t like to get comfortable for too long. I stare at a room and imagine what I could change to make it…different. There’s no rhyme or reason, save the singular goal of changing things around. It drives my wife nuts and it helps me to keep a fresh perspective on things.

I’m feeling that way now about this blog. It needs changes. Nothing subtle, no that wouldn’t do. Something drastic. A name change?

Here’s the thing: When I started writing novels I had one type of story in mind. When I was ready to venture into the world of social media, that story dominated everything I was involved with. A six book series about a young faerie and her quest to overcome the tragedy of her choices. The blog reflected that.

Now there’s a knot in the rope. I wrote this other book, this secret book that has nothing to do with anything I’ve talked about on this blog before. I want the blog to reflect what I’ve written, but also what I’m writing. Does that make sense? It needs to say me. Right now, it doesn’t. So I’m gonna make a change and I’m telling you this because I want you to convince me not to. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Endings

This week, I gave a copy of my secret zombie novel to a beta reader. She loved it. Then she asked, "are you really going to end it that way?" My initial response was, "well, of course. That was always the plan." The more I think about it, though, the more doubt creeps in about my idea to end the book. It's not what happens at the end that bothers me, it's the approach.

Every book is different, and every denouement has to be handled in its own way; however, there are common elements that readers expect at the the end of a story. I understand that. Or do I?

After the feedback, I looked at my ending and came up with a handful of questions that remained unanswered from the story. Part of me wants them to remain unanswered, leaving room for a sequel; the rest of me knows that I can't get away with it. I need to wrap things up better.

Here's my question for you: How do you prefer your ending? Do you like cliffhangers? Do you prefer a chapter of resolution, or a few sentences to tie things up? Do you like it when the characters spell out everything from the story to put the pieces together, or do you enjoy being trusted to do that yourself? I appreciate any and all feedback about this. It's definitely critical to this story. Thanks.

~ Jamie

Friday, March 22, 2013

Something's in the Air

It's Friday afternoon and everything around here is strangely quiet. I don't know what it is, but there's something in the air. It could be the spring snowstorm were having or possibly the calm before an exciting weekend. Whatever it is, it's mysterious and strange. And I like it. I'm going to absorb the moment and wish you all a happy weekend.

~Jamie

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Symbols


If you’ve read ON FALLEN WINGS, you might have noticed the role of symbols in the faerie devotion. One symbol in particular, 2 circles joined, plays a small part in the story and helps answer a couple questions later in FROM RISING FLAMES. These Fae symbols have been used to preserve the written history of the faeries.

The Fae symbols will play an active part in future books of the Stone Portals series. In book four, the book I’m currently writing, they are everywhere. As Rhiannon discovers more of the faeries’ lost secrets, she also realizes how connected Aisling is to other places. The symbols are the key.

To date, I have not created a chart or a list of these symbols or their meanings; however, I think it would be a fun project. Your thoughts?  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Habits and Routine

Recently I reached the planned half-way point in book 4 (tentatively titled In Forgotten Dreams). The chapter was intense and, I must say, an emotional drain on me. Needing a break, I started thinking about my writing. A few questions on my mind were: Is my writing schedule productive? Am I wasting time? What should I be doing different? Am I going too slow?
Over the past few years I've developed a particular writing schedule. For the most part it goes something like this: January - March = write a rough draft. March - August = edit and revise previous works and current work. Brainstorm. Read. September = more brainstorming. More reading. October - December = plotting and outlining future works. Read. Almost every night, once the kids are in bed, I grab my tablet and start working. Usually I get in an hour or two of work, and I never stop until reaching 1,000 words written or a full chapter edited.
Everyone has their own routine and we all work at our own pace. This one has worked for me. It's the habit I've settled in to and I'm comfortable with it.
While pondering the above mentioned questions, I decided to open the file for book 3 (Under Darkened Skies). My planned release is this summer and I wanted to gauge how much work remained. Keep in mind, I completed the rough draft for that book almost a year ago. Since then, I've done two or three draft revisions. The last time I looked at that book was in December. Wow, does it need work! The writing isn't bad, and the story starts off with a bang, but there were obvious needs that stood out in the manuscript. I filled some holes and reworked a couple things in the first two chapters before putting the book away again.
The lesson for me: it appears that my habits and routine work. I strongly believe that had I rushed through the book to get it finished I would have missed the opportunity to make it stronger. Writers always say that it's best to get away and detach from your work, that way you'll return with an objective point of view. They're right. In this digital age it's relatively easy to push out a piece of fiction that meets a word count for a novel without actually giving the work and the author the opportunity to mature. That's too bad.
As I mentioned before, everyone has their own routine and pace. This one works for me; it probably won't work for most. I'm not the type of author who can crank out four books or even a dozen books per year. If you are that type of author, I applaud you. If you're not, I understand.
So Under Darkened Skies is coming. It's maturing and growing stronger. It's on schedule. After that, In Forgotten Dreams will be here. Somewhere along the way, my secret zombie novel will show up. Until then, I'll keep writing and getting better.

Happy reading.

~Jamie

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Freaky!

Ever been so wrapped up in a project that it overtakes every part of you? Yeah, me too. The past two nights I've been working on a scene that I first plotted a couple years ago. I had always wanted it to be a little dark, and a lot scary, but had never expected the result. I freaked myself out!
This wasn't an issue of little spine tingles or a feeling of foreboding, this was downright scary for me. I had to stop at one point and ask one of my kids to come sit by me, then when I went to bed I was worried about nightmares. Yeah, I'm a wimp. Thinking about it a couple days later, I probably worked myself up for no reason. I'm sure when I go back and re-read the chapter I'll realize that it's all silly. But still, that was quite an experience.
I'm the type of writer who dives into the emotion of the scenes I write. I want to see what the character sees. I want to feel what the character feels. It's the only way that I think I can effectively transfer the feelings I intend to convey. Hopefully it works.
Sometime down the road while reading one of my books, if you come upon a scene that scares you, know that it scared me too!

Happy Reading.
~Jamie

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Tools

Last year my laptop died and I thought it was the end of the world. I thought, "how can I write without my favorite tool? How can I keep going at the pace I've developed? How, how, how. Why, why, why?" For me, and I'm sure a lot of people, comfort is a valuable tool. It's like an old worn jacket on a cold day. I'll admit, I might have shed a tear or two after closing my laptop that final time. Might have.

Then I did something way out of the norm. I didn't buy another laptop. Or another computer. I bought a tablet. Yep. I made the purchase hoping that technology would lead me into something great. I didn't want to do it, really. I wanted stick with what worked before. I'm glad I didn't.

Above is a screenshot from my tablet. It's what I see every day, each time I decide to write. The picture serves as my inspiration. It's also a hint into book four. Wink. Wink. It's been four months and I can honestly say I love my tablet. It's my favorite writing device of all time. I have a cool keyboard dock that works flawlessly and a writing program that's everything I need it to be. It's light, it's portable, and turbo fast--no more waiting for a hard drive to boot up before doing anything.

Looking back, I've learned that the only tool I needed to keep was my own imagination. How about that? Storytellers have been changing their mediums for thousands of years and the changes will continue to come.

I'm glad to have finally caught on. Change is good. And inspiring.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Hi, remember me?

It feels like FOREVER since I posted. It has been forever. Well, the holidays are over and it's time to get back into a routine. I'll tell you, that's tough after some time off. I had chosen today as the day to start writing again and I found irony in the fact that I was at the rec center writing. I had taken my son to basketball practice and found a comfy place to relax and write. While penning some words, I looked around and saw hundreds of people who were jogging, lifting weights, dancing, playing ball, rock climbing, and all sorts of other stuff. I hadn't set a resolution to go to the gym this year, but thought, "hey, this is cool. I'm at the gym and I'm writing. Two goals in one." If I had run a lap on the track or something, I'd be doing really great.
Anyway, it feels great to be writing again and I've enjoyed getting back into the stories I've created. I think the challenge this year will be to stay focused on one project at a time. There's so many ideas in my head right now that I'm having a hard time concentrating. It's a good thing, I guess. I just don't want to be left with a dozen unfinished works at the end of the year. It's not fair to anyone, least of all those of you who are waiting for book three of the STONE PORTALS series. My goal is to have that book out by summer. It's written--has been for over six months. The book just needs final revisions and edits.
My current project is writing book 4. I've outlined it pretty well, so getting the words down should be easy.
A few admissions: 1) If I follow your blog, I haven't read it in about 4 months. Sorry. I've been busy. I'll renew my reading on a regular basis now. 2) If you follow my tweets, you've noticed I've been fairly quiet. I have more time to tweet now, so look out! 3) I wrote this zombie book last summer that I can't stop thinking about. I really want to polish it up and see if anyone will pick it up. Since this blog isn't about the zombie book, I won't say much, but--it's freakin' awesome! It's mainstream and different, and quirky, and all the things a zombie book should be. I'll try not to mention it too often here, since I should be working on the faerie books, but I had to say something about it. There, I did.
Anyway, thanks for stopping by. I'll post every week again and should have more interesting things to share next time. Until then, happy reading!
~Jamie