Monday, September 6, 2010

Midpoint & Bookseller OCD's

I know I've been writing for too long today because I keep pressing ctrl+s as I type this blog entry to "save my work". I think I save my manuscript after every paragraph, lol. OCD comes with being a bookseller I guess, always straightening piles of books and whatnot. Actually I find myself constantly straightening things in my room, and even at other store ("how dare someone move this cereal box out of line with the rest!").

I hit 30k words in my novel, which according to my goal is the halfway point. I checked my outline and according to the plot I'm on track to finish at about 60,000. Yay. I can't wait to finish. When I do, then I can feel comfortable calling myself a writer. I know that if your hobby is writing, and you write, then you're a writer. But I feel like I need to finish a novel first. Then I'll be a level 2 writer.

Now with the boring stuff out of the way.. if anyone's curious, I'm currently reading Warbreaker. I like the sense of mystery Sanderson stirs up at the start. There are different ways to get people to turn pages and creating questions is one of the best methods IMO. At the start of my writing, rather than creating more intriguing, unanswered questions, I have a tendency to answer them instead. Something to work on.

As an example, where did the mustard get a gun, and what did the ketchup do to him?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Posting for the sake of staying an active blogger

No, I really do have something to say, lol. I went to Brandon Sanderson's release date book signing for the Way of Kings. He is a class act. Brandon spent time with each reader answering questions in depth and with enthusiasm (despite the massive hordes waiting to get their books signed -- I'd imagine signings could get tedious after awhile, especially with the same questions asked a million times). He reminded me of Brandon Mull, author of the Fablehaven series. I helped Mr. Mull do a few signings as a part of my job at Deseret Book, and the way he interacted with his fans was also very impressive. Anyways, both Brandons are the kind of author I'd like to be.

On the topic of writing, progress is going great! I'm working on Nova & the Past-Life Powers. I'm at 25.8k words. I've cut down my daily goal to 500 words because of school/work. But it's a goal that's easier to consistently achieve, and I usually write a little more.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Online Presence

I'm joining an online writing group -- should be fun!

Also, I just finished 3 excellent books:
1 & 2: Hunger Games and Catching Fire (Mockingjay in two days!). Fast-paced. And first person present tense?! It works. These books live up to the hype.
3: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. This will be the new epic fantasy series of this generation. Loved it. The three viewpoints kept me anxiously page-turning (through all 1008 of them). That's right, Sanderson left out the boring parts that plague many gargantuan fantasy epics. The world-building is mind-blowing, the magic systems innovative, and most importantly, the characters realistic and lovable.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Online book covers! I fiddled in photoshop and made these. Hopefully they generate enough interest to tempt you to read. That's the point of book covers, right?

Interrupting Ideas

I finished my first short story and submitted it to LA. It’s a great feeling to hold a finished manuscript printed on 24 lb paper and seeing your name on the front. Knowing you made that.

Sometimes ideas knock on your door that you cannot ignore. If you don’t answer, they’ll shrug and move on, likely to never return. I had such an idea for short story. Unfortunately, one of the most dangerous causes of death for novels are such ideas. My new goal is to write 300 words a day on my novel (for its own personal health), and 700 words on my new short story. At that rate, it should only take a week and a half to finish anyways. Another reason I want to write this short story, is that I’m getting submission fever. Finishing James James James & the Ice-tree Charcoal got me excited to submit something to anyone, but its my contest submission for the Writers of the Future contest, and thus, is stuck in limbo until the results come. So, I need something finished to send out. A short story is obviously a lot easier to finish than a novel, so short story it is.

The working title is: “Magic Beyond the Micronation” (however I wince at the thought of using any of the following words in a fantasy fiction title: sword, dragon, quest, or magic.) The other possible title is: “The New French Republic-Kingdom of Dislandia”. I seem to favor longer titles for some reason.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Post from the past - Top 5 Influences

I wrote this blog update the other day when I didn't have internet.

My top 5 influences (in no particular order):

Harry Potter

Harry and I have been pals since third grade—before movie producers or toy tycoons found him (nothing against them of course, just saying). Literary snobs may turn their noses at someone as well known, successful, and commercialized as Rowling, but I have to applaud her story. Why? Because it’s just that: story. Pure, 100%, unfiltered, story. I grew up with Hogwarts’s students so it holds nostalgic value like those who discovered elves and orcs for the first time in Tolkien’s world. Harry Potter wasn’t where I first found a love for fantasy, or reading even, but the story and characters tugged me in a way no other tale had done before. And Harry tugged hard.

Lord of the Rings

The literary snob in me prides itself by saying I read the books before I even knew there would be movies made. And I adore the movies. But I remember a friend telling me about the cool battle scenes between dwarves and dragons. I had to read it. I devoured the Hobbit, entranced by the fantasy setting, and a little disappointed by the brevity of the battle of five armies. The Lord of the Rings fed me plenty of nice war scenes. Tolkien wove his magic on me, even though I had already been immersed in the fantasy genre he so heavily influenced (unbenownced to me during my junior high exploration of his world). That ability, I think, is what makes a classic a classic.


Brandon Sanderson is my contemporary idol. I was Wheel of Time fan, and told a friend how awful it would be if Mr. Jordan passed away before he finished the series. Tragedy struck, and just that happened. The same friend informed me that Sanderson, who lives in Utah, would be finishing the series. He referred me to Mistborn, which he said “blew my mind”. I read it, and it blew my mind too. Sanderson’s has talent for destroying clich├ęs and his endings are downright explosive. While reading the trilogy, it was actually the behind-the-scenes annotations on his website that inspired me to start writing. It’s a mixture of that inspiration and how the three books are so seamlessly woven together to create the perfect ending that makes me love Mistborn so much.

Miyazaki / Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle by the fantasy guru, Diana Wynne Jones, is fantastic. But I must confess, I saw the movie first, and that’s influenced me more than the novel. Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese equivalent of Disney, is a master storyteller. His films have a charm, genius, and magic you find more often in a memorable novel than a Hollywood blockbuster. They’ll whisk you away. If you’re not an anime fan, don’t worry. It’s not what you’d think. His story-telling is so powerful you’ll forget you’re watching an animated, Japanese movie. I’ve got a list of once-skeptical friends who will vouch for that. The book’s great too, by the way.

Stardust / The Graveyard Book / Neverwhere

Okay, okay, I saw Stardust, the movie first too. I’m a terrible literary snob. I loved the movie. I love movies in general. More specifically, I love a good story. I don’t think books are so superior that movies are worthless (again, terrible snob)—I just love books differently. Anyways, Mr. Gaimon knows how to write a good story. He’s got his own trademark charm/genius/magic. Stardust the book deserved a good film. The story was pure magic. To those turned off by the Tolkien/Harry Potter stereotypes of fantasy—I say, try Gaimon’s stuff. Try Neverwhere first. You’ll be surprised.

James update

My short story is ahead of schedule. The first draft should be finished today. That gives me a handful of days to mull over and revise. I'm forgoing my 1000 word/day rule until July 1st because I'll be spending all that time editing and rewriting. I think it's turning out better than I though. The ending for sure is better than planned.

James James James and the Ice-tree Charcoal - 4,845 words (it's shorter than I planned, but it works better shorter--it should end up around 5.5k, I think).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tight words and an ending

James James James & the Ice-tree Charcoal is coming along nicely. A rough skeleton of the ending is forming in my mind, but it's faint still. The plan is to discovery write as much as I can in the next few days. Then with the last three or four days of June I can rewrite a few times to get everything right.

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White is fantastic. Reading just the introduction inspired me to write tighter. It will take time.

James James James short story 1,744 words and a hint of an ending in my head

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Long Title

I'm taking a short vacation from Impowria (working title for my novel - I don't like the name, I need a new one). Not because I'm stuck - quite the opposite. It's rolling quite nicely. I'm switching gears becaaaause, the Writers of the Future short story contest ( starts July 1st.

In other words, I need to write a short story in nine days. I've never written a short story before, but I wrote a prologue for another novel (my first novel, actually - I only made it three chapters in) that I think works as a good premise. As of right now, I have no idea what the plot will be. That didn't stop me from writing the first 690 words. I figure I'll find the ending as I write. I've got a feeling I'll find a good one. So anyways, I'm going to post it here on this blog as I write it. It's raw and unedited, but it's here (link of the left-hand side).

I thought of the title today (this one I do like, quite a bit actually): James James James & the Ice-tree Charcoal. It's a little longish but I'm hoping the catchiness and what-the-heck-kind-of-title-is-that?!-ness make up for that. I like the contrast between 'ice' and 'charcoal' and I think it suggests it's a fantasy book without a boring, generic name like 'The Dragon Quest' or 'The Sword of Flames'. To explain, James James James is the protagonist. He comes from a long line of James James James's. Anyways, just read it and it will make more sense.

(I realized that I used a lot of ()'s in this post)
(another note: I bought Elements of Style today. I've never been excited to read a grammar book before. Weird feeling.)

Impowria 21,848 words (goal: 75k)
James James James and the Ice-tree Charcoal 690 words (goal: 7k)

Weeklyish and Dailyish Reminders

Two tools that have been great for inspiration, motivation, and instruction are:
1) Writing Excuses, a podcast by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler.
Excellent, excellent podcast. Their tagline is "fifteen minutes, because you're in a hurry, and we're not that smart." It's quick, and they offer very practical advice. It doesn't hurt that Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors. I just finished Dan Well's 'I Am NOT a Serial Killer' which was a gripping read. Here's the website:, or you can just snag the podcast through iTunes.
2) Daily Kick in the Pants, a daily(ish) email on writing by David Farland (who writes Sci-Fi as David Wolverton). He's a best selling author, and even better, a passionate teacher. He's the type of successful author that finds satisfaction in helping others get to his level. You'll need to register for his website to get the emails: You can read past emails here:

Word progress: 21,525 words. (Random note: when I finish writing for the day I like to change the font from the normal serif font like Times New Roman to Courier. It ups your page count by 20%. 107 pages makes me feel a lot better than a mere 83).

Friday, June 18, 2010

Teeth and Gold (But not gold teeth...)

This post is actually a report for the 17th. I'm just a night owl, that's all. I've been fighting for my 1000 words each day. Sometimes each word is like pulling out a tooth. Sometimes it's like liquid gold is dropping from my fingers into the keyboard. I don't know why it works that way, but it is. That makes it hard to budget time for writing because I never know easy those 1000 words will come.

Progress: 20,454 words

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


This morning I've been madly writing a synopsis for my untitled YA fantasy novel. It's my first synopsis for my first novel for my first contest. The deadline for the League of Utah Writer's Diamond in the Rough contest is today. Thus, the written-in-one-hour-for-the-first-time synopsis. My mom helped with the formatting. Considering the circumstances, I think I did a good job with it. If you're curious what I'm writing about, I've posted it under pages.

Now I'm off to revise the first three chapters, drop it off at the post office, then take a well-deserved nap.

[late night edit: mission completed. Book progress: 18,599 words.]

Monday, June 14, 2010

Stories and Goals

I'm reading On Writing by Stephen King. I'll admit it. This is the first Stephen King book I've ever read. One thing that stuck out was his challenge to write at least 1,000 words a day. That's what I'm going to do. A typical novel is about 70-150,000 words, and I'm about 17,000 words in on mine. I'm shooting for a smaller novel, so that means I'm about two months away. I think the first novel is the biggest hurdle. It will be like finishing a marathon for the first time. When I finish it, I'll be able to say "Hey, I can really do this. I've already written a novel. No big deal."