New Year, Better Plans

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you can take the best of 2017 and carry that over to this year. Let’s leave all that negativity and hate in the past and move forward with a purpose and a bright future ahead.

ipadrt_823x978 copy2017 saw the release of my first novel, The Selection. It has since been rebranded as The Selection: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 1. It’s now the first in what I’m planning as a trilogy, set on the planet Anastasia and following Eron as he moves beyond the Selection. As the series title suggests, the Forgotten play an immense role in all of this.

I’ve had mostly positive responses to the book and it’s brought me more readers which I hope to continue into 2018.

To further that, the audiobook release of The Selection: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 1 is due within a week or so of this post. It’s narrated by Paul Jenkins and sounds AMAZING! I cannot wait for its release. I think you’ll love it!

ipadlt_823x978The second book in the trilogy, Rise of the Forgotten comes out on January 19th. You can pre-order the ebook now for only .99. ( A little under the radar pro-tip: if you really don’t wanna wait, the paperback is actually live and available to purchase now.)

I’m working on the third book of the trilogy, The War for Truth. I’m about 8,000 words into it and I’m planning a late Summer release, maybe July. If all goes well, you may also get the release of a series of novellas in the Fall that relates to 4-5 characters from the series.

Other than the scifi series, I’m planning on releasing two horror novels in 2018. One is titled Brown’s Sacrifice and the other is Soul Windows. Both are set in Brownsville, my pseudonym for Murphysboro, where I live. I’ve thought about branding those as Brownsville Oddities Novels and see how that goes. I have a possible third novel to include in that series, however I’m not certain about that yet.

OnTheHorizonNoWoodIn May, my book The Selection: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 1, will be re-released as part of the On the Horizon book bundle which includes 22 full-length scifi and fantasy novels with the theme “little to no tech.” My book fits perfectly with the theme and to make it enticing to those that have already read my book, I’m going to include an exclusive short story that’s only part of this bundle. The best part is you can pre-order it for only .99! I highly encourage you to check it out and pre-order your copy today. Even if you’ve read my book, that’s still 21 other full-length novels for less than a $1!

Finally, I’ll be working on a fantasy novel for a 2019 release as part of a larger shared world project. I think at last count we had something like 20-25 authors committed to the project. Our plan is to release a book a month, all tied into the same world. It’s a fascinating concept and will finally get me to write the fantasy novel I’ve been wanting to write since I started creating stories.

This is what you can look forward to from me in 2018. I’m grateful to those of you who’ve supported me by buying a book, sharing my posts, or offering words of encouragement. It’s lonely sometimes as a writer and you make it all worthwhile. Thanks again for everything! Let’s crush 2018 and make it the best yet!

 

 

Advertisements

Going Full-On

I’ve written before about moments in my writing “career” where I’ve felt dejected and full of self-doubt. This is not one of those posts.

I have a strong tendency once I get past my initial doubts where I go full-on confident.

man-1902765_960_720You see, there are times when I don’t give a damn what someone else thinks. I know I will succeed. I have no doubt. I believe in myself when no one else will.

I’ve never been given anything. If I wanted it, I had to work hard for it. My family didn’t have money. I started working when i was 13 or 14 as a newspaper carrier for the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, OH. I got up every morning before the sun and delivered the daily paper all along my street.

Not having money taught me to work hard, learn from my mistakes, and suck it up. I didn’t always enjoy the jobs I had, but I dealt with it and gained strength from it. Everything I gained is because of determination.

I can’t tell you how many times my stories have been rejected (Well, actually I can. My stories have accumulated 74 rejections since 2014 with only 4 acceptances). Many for good reasons. It’s ok. I know they’re good. I know they belong somewhere. So I continue sending them out.

The thing is, I can’t let those get to me. What’s the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure?” I feel that way about my stories. They weren’t right for some places but a perfect fit for others. I gotta find that fit.

So for those who reject my stories just know, you’re gonna be part of my success. You will push me to prove you wrong. It might not be the most healthy attitude, but it keeps me focused.

Dear Writer

Dear Writer,

Hi, my name is Jason. I’m not special. I’m not an authority. I’m not a collegiately trained writer (well, sort of). I’m an (almost) average Joe. But I have something to say.

You know that story you keep meaning to write? Remember that idea burning a hole in your skull? Can you picture those characters that feel so life-like to you? Yeah, that. Do you remember?

Why aren’t you writing?

I met many writers this past weekend that said “I don’t have the time” or “I keep meaning to get back to the story” or some other lame excuse. I’m not gonna sugercoat it for you–write the damn thing!

Your first draft will suck. It will. No amount of “revision as you go” will do it any justice. Be ok with this. Embrace it. You must write a first draft in order to edit and revise.

The time excuse doesn’t fly. Do you have fifteen minutes a day? No? Find it. Put the game controller down. Set your phone to “Do Not Disturb.” Wake up fifteen minutes earlier. Eat a faster lunch to leave time for writing. Instead of watching that tv show in the evening–write. You can always find a quick fifteen minutes of your day to set aside for writing if you evaluate what you’re actually doing with your time and decide what can be cut from your day in order to give your dream a chance. You decide what you do with your spare time, not someone else. Pretty soon, that fifteen minutes will magically expand to twenty. Then to thirty, and then till you’re too tired to make any sense at all (remember, the first draft will suck!)

I’ve got a secret for you, and unlike a magician, I’m gonna share. Do you know how a novel gets completed? By stringing together pages of words. Those pages are made up of paragraphs. Paragraphs are made from sentences. And those sentences are made from words. Write one word. Add another. Add a couple more. That’s progress kids. Keep typing. E-V-E-R-Y word you add to your story is progress. When your time is short, just remember every word you write is one step closer to completion. Your story is moving forward.

Get the words out. If you really want to write, don’t say “I want to.” Do it! Add a couple words at a time. Soon enough you’ll have a sentence, then a paragraph, then a page, and so on.  Be ok with the first draft sucking. Just get it done. Then go back and fix it.

Like I said at the beginning, I’m not an expert, but I have gone through this process. All it takes to go from “I want to write” to “I’m a writer” is putting down one word at a time.

You got this!

 

Your friend,

-Jason

 

Lessons In Rejection

I’ve been on a mission this year to send more stories out to the wild, hoping they will find good homes. Like a mother bird nudging her chicks off the branch, I’ve been watching and waiting for them to land.

Last year I found myself consumed by doubt. I won’t bore you with the details or the “oh poor me” post. What my doubt did was force me into action.

I’m accustomed to rejections for my short stories. Considering there are maybe 1,000 or so stories submitted to many publications-per month!-it’s not difficult to see how the numbers stack against emerging writers.

I decided to treat each and every rejection as an opportunity for growth. I asked myself a ton of questions: What did I do wrong? How can I make the story stronger? Is the story written poorly? Do I have a jumbled plot? Are my characters relatable?  Did I send it to the right place? 

stamp-2114884_960_720When a rejection comes in, I’ll revisit the story and address what might be wrong. I’ve enlisted other writers and readers for feedback. Once satisfied with the result, I send it back out, hoping it finds a home.

I keep a running document in Google Docs detailing every story submission, when it’s submitted, and whether or not it was accepted or rejected. The document is lengthy. Every story has multiple rejections.

I’m convinced my years in sales prepared me with the thick skin needed to endure constant rejection. Like in my job, I’ve learned to not take rejection personally. Sales and writing aren’t for everyone. If you intend on being successful, meaning-selling your goods/stories-you have to be willing to hear “no” more than you want but pushing harder for a “yes.”

So far this year I’ve accumulated double digit rejections tempered with one acceptance (I’ll post more about that soon!) If you want to succeed, keep trying. And when you get there, please let me know how to follow your path!


Maria Haskins, an excellent writer that you must learn more about, has an awesome post about submitting short stories. Check it out here for inspiration and a good list of what worked for her.

Ready for Rejection?

Rejection sucks! Whether it’s from another person, your boss, or anyone else – rejection sucks! This past year has been a boon for me in terms of rejection.

I’ve got a file I keep of all submitted stories and queries. I’ve got over 40 rejections with only 1 acceptance! I’m not the greatest with math, but the percentage of my work accepted is pretty dang low. I thought about it and there are a few reasons why I’ve experienced so many “no” emails and only one “yes” email.

My first and most important thought is my writing needs to be better. I don’t blame others for my failings. I own my shortcomings and learn from them. I do think my writing needs improvement. I work on it almost daily. I’ve gone to a writer’s conference earlier this year and I work on the craft much more now than I ever have. I can see improvement in how I write from a year ago. I’m positive if I continue to hone my craft, I’ll get better as I practice. It’s kinda like running. I can’t go out and run a marathon if I don’t start training. I have to build up my body in order to run the race. Writing is the same way. If I work at it and learn my failings, I can grow and be a better writer.

I’ve mentioned this before, but in one of the rejections I received for a manuscript, the publisher was kind enough to offer a few critiques. The one that’s stuck out with me was “you can write, but you can do better.” It was validation that I’ve got some talent but could still learn a lot more. I was grateful to get such a response.

Second, maybe I’ve been sending it to the wrong places. I’ve targeted the major markets (Daily Science Fiction, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Nightmare Magazine, etc) hoping to break through and grace their publications. Nope, not this year. And that’s fine. It’s a learning experience. Fortunately I don’t need to sell stories in order to support my family. Looking at magazines and journals that don’t pay pro rates might be where I need to focus. It would help build an audience and get my name exposed to more and more readers.

Lastly, and this ties in with the second, is that I’m incorrectly identifying my stories and sending them to the wrong places. It’s possible my work doesn’t fit their magazines at all and I need to look for other sources to get my name out there. I need to reevaluate my stories and where I send them in order to find better matches.

I believe in my work. I trust I have some amount of skill. More importantly I enjoy writing stories. When I get so involved in writing that I can see the characters as vivid as if they were standing in front of me and hear them speaking to each other, that’s when it’s the absolute best. There is nothing like it.

I’ll continue to submit stories. I’ll keep sending queries. Maybe this time next year, I’ll have another list of rejection but a few more acceptances. I won’t know unless I try.

Claimed

I’m a writer. There, I said it. Take me to task. “What have you written?” you may ask. “Are you published?” you might follow up with. OK, slow down.

Just know, I am a writer.

Do you know how long it’s taken me to claim that title? It’s not like I woke up one day and thought, hmm…today I think I’m a writer. If only it were so easy.

Others have a preset idea of what “I’m a writer” means. I was one of those people. Now, not so much.

I no longer think a “writer” has to have published a NYT bestseller. A writer need not have actually published at all. Some have written far longer and more prolific than I have, yet they don’t have a single published credit to their name. Are they writers? Of course they are! And probably better than I am.

I’m fortunate to have at least one published credit to my name (*cough, cough: http://www.everydayfiction.com/cat-got-your-tongue-by-jason-j-nugent/) I also have this blog which has gained readers every month. Add my work on a video game and the three unpublished novels I’ve written, and I’ve got a decent start to what I’d like to call my “writing career.”

Not that any of that makes me more of a writer than others. I’ve been fortunate because I’ve put myself out there for others to read and I’ve had mostly positive feedback. It’s not always been a pleasant process, but I believe in what I do and I’m not afraid of rejection. Well, not that afraid.

At a recent writing conference I attended, the question was posed, “Who has had a story rejected before?” About two-thirds of the class raised their hand, including me. The instructor applauded us because you can’t get published unless you try. Part of the process is rejection.

I’ve been writing seriously for maybe seven to eight years. I’ve enjoyed creating stories since high school, but I never devoted time and resources to it like I do now.

I was scared at first to call myself a writer. What did that mean? How would others think of me? Do I have a right to claim that title? Do I have enough “cred” to call myself a writer?

Yes. Yes I do.

I might be a sales rep. at a screen-printing company. I might be a husband and a father. I might be a part-time runner and wicked bocce ball player.

But I’m also a writer. You’ve got it in black and white.

My Writing Impetus

One of the first reasons I had for writing was to deal with depression and anger.  Like most teenagers, I had my moments when I felt everything was crumbling down around me.  Moving from Cleveland to rural southern Illinois was a huge catalyst for such writing.  I spent many hours working on sappy, depressing, angst filled poems and drawing odd, cryptic pictures.  I’m not sure if I have any of those early works any more but I do remember they had a similar theme:  anger and darkness.  Eventually, I worked my way out of it and was better for it.  No one read those pieces and I’m thankful for that!

When in college, I remember having an assignment in my first English class to write a story based on my summer.  Sure it was an intro level class and the exercise was to get us as students into the mode of writing and expressing ourselves in different ways, but I found out something about myself in the process.

My best friend broke up with his girlfriend just after we graduated high school and both of us being without girlfriends, we spent the summer hanging out with friends and skating all day long (when we weren’t working)  We stayed busy all hours of the day and for him, I think it was a way to distract his mind from the heartache he felt.

My story I wrote for class was about our summer through his eyes.  The story was dark (where did I get that idea?) and, considering it was an entry level class and I didn’t have much experience writing, it was fairly well received by the instructor.  I remember feeling proud of the story, showing it to several friends.  That was the first time I felt the excitement of creating a compelling story of my own.  I was thrilled at the prospect of writing, of creating, of doing something productive and lasting.

So…I made history my major.

Why didn’t I pursue creative writing?  I guess I wanted to have an education that prepared me for supporting my family.  In hindsight, I suppose seeking an education in the art of writing may have been a better choice as now I devote more of my time and energy to the craft, however I think studying history gave me the bones I needed to create interesting stories.

I learned how to research to get the answers I needed.  This has helped in my writing.  I do preliminary research before working on a novel to give me a feel for the setting and plot so when I do put words down, they have a reference point.

I also found a love for the medieval romance stories of Arthur and his knights.  I was entranced by Celtic myths.  I dug deep into the histories of monks and the Christianization of Europe, particularly the British Isles.  To this day I feel a pull towards those stories and they are special to me.

My path to writing is not traditional and I’m sure not entirely unique.  But…it is my story.  It is how I got to where I’m at today.  I’ve got a long way to go.  I push myself to be better and I try to engage with others to improve myself.  It’s a process and I’m thankful for the opportunity.