Tag Archives: Blog

Dirty Dish Philosophy

Doing the dishes sucks. It’s never been my favorite chore.

My mom made my brother and I do the dishes as kids. We’d have the duty for a week at a time. After dinner, we were expected to get the dishes done no matter what. I remember how angry I’d get when I heard my brother outside with our friends, playing and having a good time while I was stuck inside doing the dishes. Those days were the worst.

When I got married, I didn’t have a clue about cooking. I could make the basics, but I never liked to do it. Because of all that time spent with my hands in dishwater, I made a deal with my wife that if she did the cooking, I’d do all the dishes. It’s an arrangement that’s worked pretty good for over twenty years now.

The huge pile of dishes after a big meal seems daunting. It’s disheartening. How do I get them all done?

One. Dish. At a time.

You know what, that’s an extremely valuable lesson.

Think about it. When faced with a difficult task, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. When that giant project looms large, it’s hard to focus because all your attention is directed towards the overall assignment.

However, if you take one task at a time; one small victory after another, you will create success.

dishes-197_960_720That pile of dishes goes away one dish, one glass, one pan at a time. Soon enough, that insurmountable counter full of dishes disappears and the task is over.

Difficult tasks can be tackled with the same mindset.

When writing a novel, it can be horrifying when you think about all those words you need to write. The blank page is every bit as scary as a monster pile of dishes. But adding one word at a time, you will get there. Soon they form sentences, then paragraphs, and those turn into pages. Before long, you’ll have a book. All it takes is to work on one small task at a time.

All those years of grumbling about dishes and soaking my hands in nasty water has led me to this conclusion: anything can be accomplished if you focus on doing all the small things needed to finish the monumental task ahead.

Now if you’ll excuse, my sink is full. I’ve got work to do.

 

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Changes To Come

It’s been an amazing couple of years and now it’s time to revisit the blog. I’d like to offer more engaging content in the coming year and hope to keep you coming back for more!

I’ve been posting about three times a month and that’s going to increase. Every Monday morning a new blog post will be published in 2017. Some weeks more posts might be published but we’ll see how it goes. But for now dear reader, I commit to you new posts every week on Monday.

I also intend on presenting a new author every month in the (Almost) Average Author Spotlight. These writers might not be someone you know but that’s the point–to introduce a new author to my audience and hope you find new and interesting books to read.

Another feature I’d like to include is reviews, especially of indie authors however it will include traditionally published authors as well. I don’t read as much or as fast as I’d like so these might be an irregular element of the blog in 2017.

And finally, I’d like to include more guest posts. There’s never enough exposure for writers and I’d love to use this platform as a way to help. Hopefully we’ll all get to meet new writers and maybe by the end of the year, we’ll have met our new favorite author!

These are most of the changes I intend on implementing in the coming year. Stick around, there’s gonna be a lot to discover!

No More Ragrets

What if the world ended today? What is the news was flooded with reports of impending global destruction or some other cataclysmic event? Would you run around screaming and crying? Would you get violent and act on all your base instincts? Would you seek out your loved ones and hold them close? As you sat waiting for the inevitable end and the time ticked away, what would your mind focus on?

My mind wanders to thoughts like these a lot. Call it “mid-life” or “scared-of-what-these-presidential-candidates-have-in-store-for-us” syndrome, but either way, I find myself questioning my life choices and direction.

meteorite-1060886_960_720I’ve found balance, to a degree, by focusing more on writing. It’s an avenue where I can express my thoughts (like on this blog) or create new worlds full of danger and heroes through my fiction. Expressing myself through words and sharing that with others has given me a greater sense of “being” in a way unlike anything else I’ve been doing. I’ve met so many new and wonderful people through the power of words. I feel confident in what I’ve done so far. Maybe my words might live on in some form that a future generation, if anything survives a possible global annihilation, can discover it and be entertained by it. If nothing else maybe they’ll get a good laugh.

That’s one of my constant fears: leaving nothing of consequence behind.

I look at my son as my parting shot to the world. When he’s an adult and out on his own, my hope is that my wife and I raised him to be a productive member of society and he brings something positive to the world. We’re doing our best and maybe one day he’ll cure a disease or create a new product that truly benefits humanity. Or maybe he’ll be the next great artist or novelist. He could possibly be a great family man that in turn raises a child (or children) to become something special to the world. (Though I can wait to be a grandpa. I’m not in any hurry for that!) It took me awhile to realize it, but he is “something of consequence” I’m leaving behind. My legacy, fair or not, lives on in him. What my wife and I do in raising him and the values we instill in him will affect future generations and by doing so, I am leaving something after I’m gone.

I’ve worried a lot in the past year or so (is it a coincidence it happened when I turned 40?) that I’m toiling in this world with nothing to show for it. I don’t want to be a cog in the machine. I don’t want to be one of millions that trudges on through life and before I know it, I’ve wasted it on fruitless pursuits. I don’t want to get to the end and look back on a series of regrets for not doing this or not helping with that. I’m trying to avoid that kind of end to my life. I’m trying to leave something lasting after I’m gone.

When those meteors rain down on us or flames sweep the globe, I want to know I’ve done something special. What about you?


 

Before you go, I want to update you on a few things. I’ve got a brand new author website up and running. Go check it out at jasonjnugent.com. While there, sign up for my monthly newsletter and receive a code for a FREE copy of my debut fiction collection to download from Smashwords.

I’ve got my first book signing event coming on April 9th at the Book House in St. Louis. I will be with fellow S.U.M. writer Lakesha Mathis. If you’re in the area, please stop by. I love to meet new people and share my work with them.

On May 7th I will be at the St. Louis Indie Book Fair at the St. Louis Library. I’ll have books to sell and will have a chance to do a reading. Come on out and meet me and over 50 other writers at what should be a great event.

And finally, if you’ve not picked up a copy of my debut collection (Almost) Average Anthology, it’s available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iBooks for only .99! You can click on the large book cover on this page to buy it from Amazon. Please consider getting a copy of my original fiction and when you do, an honest review is very much appreciated.

Thanks!

Writing News

I’ve got exciting news to share!

This year has started off strong for me. I released my first book, a collection of flash fiction culled from this blog (and 2 previously unreleased stories!) and so far the reception has been positive. I expected worse but have been surprised by the feedback I’ve been given.

I was invited to be part of Some’N Unique Magazine (or S.U.M. for short) and it’s been a tremendous experience so far. F. Kenneth Taylor 10364048_854258568033497_8318241705119909330_nhas worked tirelessly to get it off the ground and soon we’ll be able to present our first issue. Until then, check out our Facebook page and follow to stay up to date with our progress.

 

Part of Ken’s vision is to create opportunities for us writers to gain exposure. Here is a Skype interview with “Hangin With” I was fortunate enough to be part of set up by Ken.

 

 

In May70847c_f734e46e8adf4359857d1e575772765b, I’ll be attending the 2nd Annual St. Louis Indie Author Book Fair at the St. Louis Public Library’s main branch. It’s an excellent opportunity for me to reach out and meet new readers and other writers close to me. Check out their website for a list of authors. It should be a great event!

 

And finally…JAson J. Nugent copy 3

I’ve set-up my own website! It’s where I’ll be keeping all my writing links, info, and updates about me and my writing. While there, you can sign up for a newsletter I plan on sending out monthly (I’m not going to overwhelm you with needless emails!) By signing up, you’ll get a coupon code for a FREE ebook download from Smashwords of my debut collection (Almost) Average Anthology. Stop by jasonjnugent.com and check it out.

 

So that’s it for now. The (Almost) Average Blog will continue. New essays will post on the 5th and 25th of every month with new free flash fiction on the 15th. Please feel free to like, share, or comment below. I appreciate all the support you’ve given me and the encouragement to keep going.

 

 

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.

Guest Post: Tokoni O. Uti

Today’s guest post is a poem by Tokoni O. Uti. Tokoni is a student and poet originally from Lagos and currently studying at Bowen University. She’s been published in Huffington Post, the Los Angeles Free Press, Girls Life Magazine and many other publications.

Check out her poem and please follow her at the links below. Thanks!


 

Slow

by Tokoni O. Uti

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Twitter: @TokoniOUti

Instagram: Tokoniouti

Follow her blog: insanitybeautiful.wordpress.com

 

Guest Post: Kris Baker Dersch

I’m excited to bring you today’s guest writer Kris Baker Dersch. She’s the editor and producer of an excellent flash fiction podcast called No Extra Words (Go subscribe now!) Besides her duties with the podcast, she’s also a writer, librarian, and a mom.

Kris was kind enough to offer an essay and I think you’ll enjoy hearing a different voice than my own. Please, please, please go visit her at one of the many links I’ve included below, I know she’ll appreciate it and so will I.


 

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A new bookstore just opened in the town where I live.

I love bookstores. Owning my own bookstore is one of those pipe dreams I have, like some people want to have horses and run a dude ranch. It’s not going to happen. But in my head, I’m Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail with a quirky little book shop that is just what people don’t know they need. Of course, we’d also have to sell records so my husband could participate. And we’d decorate it with old typewriters.

Even movie reality doesn’t work here, because by the end of the movie her bookstore gets shut down by Tom Hanks and the big chain around the corner. I’m sure that the people who ran the wine cellar or specialty shoppe that once occupied this bookstore’s spot in my quirky suburban small-town will probably tell you to hit this bookstore very soon because odds are they will not be long for this world. Reality is hard on dreamers.

Writing can be like this. There’s the dream of the bestseller and the book signings. The movie rights to your first novel will go for a high six figures, nothing to set cinema records, but plenty to live on forever, although you’ll keep writing because you love the craft just that much. If my bookstore owner fantasy is Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail, in the author fantasy I’m Emma Thompson in Stranger Than Fiction with her Selectric and her quirky shut-in status, not enough to be mental illness, but just enough so you know she’s famous enough to get away with it. Or maybe Colin Firth in Love Actually, typing away in his French villa that is somehow also in Portugal. Maybe I just love their typewriters.

I haven’t hit my reality when it comes to life as a writer. Or maybe I have. Lots of work, self-imposed deadlines, no money. Maybe this is what it is all about. That certainly is a romance-killing reality.

I’m doing Nanowrimo again this year. I have two wins: 2009 and 2012, so you can see I’m not consistent about doing it. In 2009 I only had to work 16 days in November because of a scheduling fluke and I had my own little office, an attic bedroom in the house I was sharing with my then-boyfriend. I had a “new” 80-year old typewriter, my first, and I felt like Anne of Green Gables writing under the eaves. The whole thing was terribly romantic. I wrote some kind of historical fiction and never looked at it again. In 2012, I only made it because of a last minute “I shall not lose” 20,000 word Thanksgiving weekend. I never did figure out how to turn a Nanowrimo draft into anything more than dead trees.

I crashed and burned on my third Nano attempt last fall. That boyfriend and I are now married and share our home with this tiny human who last November at the age of six months decided to stop sleeping. Week 2 I fell out of love with my novel idea, and week 4 I didn’t write at all. Writing can be a real slog. I wasn’t planning on signing up at all this year. What’s the point? I wondered.

I didn’t know what to write. I was disenchanted with the idea of launching yet another manuscript. It helped to learned that the rules of Nano have changed and it is now acceptable to bring partially completed works and add to them for your word count. Thinking of November as my “finish the crap I’ve started” month is not romantic at all, but that’s what actually inspired me to sign on and take the plunge again. While there’s a lot to be said for launching into the great unknown with an idea and barreling out thousands of words just to see what happens, after six years of trying to tame this writing beast, I know that there’s more to it than that. Sometimes it’s a brilliantly edited short story you thought would be a novel but just needed trimming. Sometimes it’s yet another draft because damn it who wants to read all that unedited crap. Sometimes it’s flash fiction because life with a toddler and the Great American Novel don’t mesh. It’s hard work, all of it, and less romantic than that bestseller and movie rights dream, but a lot of things that are worth it are hard work. Like owning a bookstore.

I wish that bookstore owner all the luck in the world, and I hope if there’s anything I can do to make her successful I will be able to step up and do it. I started that today by buying some books. She may not make it, but every indie bookstore I love exists because someone took the leap. And every book I ever stayed up all night reading, re-read eight (or ten or fifteen) times, or clutched to my chest after finishing it because I couldn’t let it go exists because someone rolled a piece of paper into a typewriter, picked up a pen, or opened a laptop.

Whatever you’re doing to build your word count today, I salute you. It is two parts hard work, and one part dream, but the dream keeps us going.

 


 

 

You can find Kris at her blog: noextrawords.wordpress.com

Twitter: @noextrawords

Facebook: facebook.com/noextrawords

And of course the podcast itself: No Extra Words

Anniversary! (Sort of)

Today is a great day in literary history! And you get to share in the excitement and be part of it just by reading this. Sound exciting? Sweet!

OK, let me explain.

I started this blog in 2013 at Blogger. Earlier this year, I switched over to WordPress and couldn’t be happier with the decision.

In October of 2014, I made a commitment to myself and my readers to post at least 3 times a month: the 5th, 15th, and 25th. I reserved the 15th for releasing new flash fiction I’d written over the previous year and a half. The 5th and 25th were reserved for essays on anything that came to mind.

I’m proud to say I’ve made it an entire year sticking with my plan! (Check the archives button, it’s all there I promise!)

Sure I’d like to post more and I might in the future. Having a consistent schedule made me stop and write, if only for a brief moment each month.

I made a promise to myself and the payoff has been worth it. Each month I gain new readers and reach a larger audience. It’s pretty dang difficult going from obscurity to raising your voice loud enough to be heard in the ever growing world of writing and blogging. To those that have shared my posts and directed new readers my way, I cannot say thank you enough for your generous support and encouragement.

thankyou

I know writers that post weekly or daily or whenever the mood strikes them. I can’t do that. I need structure or I won’t be consistent. If nothing else, you the reader know to expect a new essay or story three times a month.

I’ve learned a lot about writing this past year. Having promised myself to write monthly, I kinda had to! I’ve written more this year than ever before and even had a story published! Dedicating myself to the blog helped keep me focused and constantly learning. Part of that involved thinking more about the act and process of writing and gaining new perspectives through attending a writing conference in June.

Lately I’ve toyed with the idea of serializing one of my unpublished novels and releasing two chapters a month. I’m still leaning that way and will update you when the decision is made. Better yet, follow this blog on WordPress or through email (see the button on the side…makes following by email easy. Come on, you can do it!)

Thanks again to everyone that’s commented or shared my posts. I appreciate everyone that’s stopped by and lurked without sharing but at least you made it here and my words found their way into your brains.

It’s been a tremendous twelve months since I first dedicated myself to writing on my blog. Where it goes from here, I have no idea.

Here’s to another successful year!

Welcome Autumn

Football, chili, and colors. The end of summer has passed and we are now heading into Autumn, my favorite season.

I love the cooler temperatures, football on television, and the beautiful display of colors on the way. Summer is fun, for a while, but when it breaks and Autumn comes rolling in, I can’t help but feel a bit better.

The sun shines a little differently. Birds and animals scurry about getting ready. The soft rustle of leaves when the wind blows soothes me. When nature begins its metamorphoses from the heat and humidity of Summer to the harsh frigid temperatures of Winter, the transition season of Autumn provides me with great hope.

I enjoy Fall festivals like the Apple Festival we have here in Murphysboro. We have an Art, Wine, and Blues Festival as well as the BBQ Championships. It seems like every little town around here has some type of festival to mark the season. There are haunted houses in October (though I enjoy horror stories, I tend to avoid these. I guess I’ve read too many or seen too many movies that these scare the crap out of me!) Before you know it, Thanksgiving will be here.

But what I’ve found that attracts me to Autumn more than anything else, more than the change in weather and seasonal festivals, is hope.

Falling leaves and pumpkins and hoodies remind me of school. They remind me of being in college. A time I remember vividly remembering how I walked across campus carrying a backpack that threatened to pull me down. It was a time of hope for the future. I was in college learning skills and acquiring knowledge that I expected to prepare me for a life in academia. I assumed I was on a path which led to teaching history. I had visions of my future with my girlfriend (now wife of 18 years!) and the life we’d lead together.

Now many years removed from college, that hope of a future isn’t quite what it used to be.

Once out of school, the hope I’d been looking forward to never materialized. No longer working in class towards a goal in front of me, I work. I don’t have a lofty goal waiting for me at the end of work. I don’t have this expectation that I will be done in a couple years able to forge ahead to what I’d been working towards. I’m there already. Now my goals are not filled with hope for a future as an educator, they are filled with a desire to provide the best I can for my family.

Every Autumn as the temperatures cool and the sun casts shadows much different than Summer, I’m reminded of this hope I once had. I’m reminded of a young me that went to school every day, tired and anxious, looking forward to a future I had envisioned. And that rejuvenates me.

Sure I’m not where I expected to be. My job is nothing like what I thought I’d be doing. But I enjoy it. I meet new people every day and I’m able to help them make events happen. My family life is way better than I could’ve ever expected and I’m thankful to my wife and son for that.

And as a Browns fan, every Autumn is a season of hope. Usually that euphoria is crushed but there is always hope in the beginning!

Welcome Autumn! It’s nice to see you again, I’ve been expecting you.

Sharpening My Sword

July was a weird month for me. It started off great with the All Write Now Conference. Then it took a turn.

I started the month giddy with myself, anticipating further progress with my writing. Going to my first ever writing conference seemed like a natural step to take. It was. I met many new people and attended several classes that either reinforced what I’d been doing or gave me greater insight into the craft. Off of that high, I still had a story pending with Daily Science Fiction.

I’d made it past their first round of review and was anxiously awaiting their final say. It didn’t go my way and they passed (rightly so) on my story. Then within a day of that I received a letter from a small publisher I met at the conference who’d asked for my manuscript after I had a pitch session with them. The letter was a rejection, but at least they did me a huge favor and offered a short critique. That has helped me more than they’ll ever know.

Within a day or two of that letter, I received another rejection of a different story I’d submitted. I tried sending the story to another place and had another rejection within a few days.

To be fair, the story probably needed rejection. It wasn’t ready. I’m reworking it now to make it stronger.

What all of this has taught me is that I need to hone my skills. Certainly I need to take time with my work and make sure it is the best possible representation of my writing. I don’t need to go storming prematurely at the gates of publishing expecting entrance when I haven’t prepared my sword yet!

The rejections hurt, they always do. I’ve got a nice growing list of stories that were rejected and by whom and when. It’s enlightening to see that but at the same time, I know maybe the stories weren’t ready or maybe I tried the wrong places.

I’m not  giving up. I know I can do better. Rejection doesn’t mean the end of things. To me it’s like a nice way of saying “not yet, but soon.” It’s up to me to put the effort into it.

I’m sharpening my sword right now, staring at those gates, ready to make my way inside.