The Fictorians

Turning Point – Where I Found my Confidence to Write

3 July 2015 | No Comments » | Ace Jordyn

Where did you learn to write? Where do your story ideas come from?

These are the two questions I get asked most often. And when I tell people where I learned and how that learning now gives me my ideas, they most often shake their heads and say, “Really?”

I always loved stories and the power of words to whisk me away to other realms and realities. I wanted to write them, to tell them but I felt too shy, too awkward, too inadequate, and too intimidated. To overcome this, I took a university degree in English, and instead of feeling my confidence soar, I was devastated. How could I, a lowly kid from the farm, ever be as perfect, so lauded, or garner so much depth and awesomeness in words? The bar was set high and everything I learned taking that degree didn’t set my creativity free – it only intimidated it.

Oh, I still dabbled with ideas but achieved nothing of substance. I just didn’t know how to make it work. The answer, oddly enough, was found by going back to University, but not in English Literature classes.

My great revelation came when I studied Food Science at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Agriculture. That meant I had to take a variety of classes including Agricultural Economics. I worked for a while in that department because I had a gift for understanding and telling the stories found in numbers. That was second nature to me, but still, that wasn’t where I learned to write fiction.

My fiction writing emerged from studying chemistry and microbiology. In microbiology, I had to observe and explain worlds – what creatures they were composed of, how they came to be, what their effects were on the systems they were found in and so on. In chemistry, I had to explain cause and effect, or stated in writing terms, to observe, document, explain the characters’ (substances and elements) actions, reactions, and the consequences of those actions and reactions. Both courses taught me to be an astute observer, to document, to ask the what-ifs, to understand and explore their worlds.

The formulas for writing and working in a scientific environment are all the same – observe, document, ask the what-ifs, hypothesize, understand and explore.

So hail to economics, microbiology, chemistry, and physics too! They’ve kept me in good stead because now I see the stories in the world around me. For example, I’ve found them in a creek near my house, looking out an airplane window and seeing the Canadian Shield below me, visiting henges in England, on a Moroccan shoreline, in ancient digs in Crete, on an island, in my back yard and in all the people I’d like to know about.

Now I explore the rich world of what-if around me. It bursts with ideas and possibilities and my writing life abounds with stories yet untold. I may never be as perfect as the masters who had once so intimidated me, but I don’t care. All I care about is the world I know and explore and I revel in the joy of sharing it. My world now is filled with What-If?, How Come?, and Why Not? – aren’t those the questions children so often ask? That sounds like another story, for another time…

Happy writing!


3 July 2015 | No Comments » | Colette

Connie Williamson is the winner of our Terry Odell audiobook giveaway! Stay tuned for our upcoming 1000th post celebration, full of book giveaways and prizes.

Fan to Writer: An Online Meeting with Rowling Herself

2 July 2015 | 2 Comments » | fictorians

A Guest Post by J.J. Bennett

Back in 2001, I had knee surgery. Looking back now, I’d say that it changed my life. It was December and a friend suggested I read the Harry Potter books to pass the time being stuck in the house while I was healing. I’d always loved reading, but it seemed silly to be reading children’s literature as an adult. My friend assured me that it was just what the doctor ordered.

My husband read aloud day and night to the family and I and we became some of Rowling’s biggest fans. I spent time on chat boards dreaming up what the next book would hold and how it would play out. The site I frequented was HPANA, a site which was one of the first out there for all things Harry Potter. I lived on that site for years. As a stay at home mom, it was one of the only things I had as an outlet.

On a certain day, I was posting on a board when someone started giving all kinds of strange information not included in any of the books thus far. I couldn’t imagine how this person was getting all this crazy information. This was just six months before The Half Blood Prince came out and this other poster was telling me to think about the relationship Snape had with Lilly. All I could think about was what relationship? I quickly posted asking how on earth this person got this information and where they could document such a thing when a moderator messaged me that I was speaking with Rowling herself.

From then on I realized how writers could interact with their fans online and how stories could become deeply engrained in people and I loved it. As time moved forward and Harry Potter ended, I still frequented the site and became friends with a young man who had many of the same interests I did. It was this young man who became my inspiration as a main character to my story. Without the entertainment of Harry Potter, I yearned to fill that void in my life and found it by writing my own work.

My oldest daughter became engrossed with the Twilight scene and explained that I really needed to read the series. My husband wasn’t too keen on the idea of spending the last two weeks of his summer vacation with his wife buried in books. So again, he said he would read them aloud so we could spend time together. The writing wasn’t the best ever, but the connection Meyers had with her audience was strong and I could relate with that. It was then, that I felt like if Meyer could do it, then why couldn’t I?

After my father was diagnosed with cancer, he made me promise him that I would finish my novel. I knew I couldn’t go back on any promise I made him and after he passed away, I knew it was time to get serious and worked hard to learn as much as possible about writing. I started blogging, creating a social media presence and followed key internet master, agent, and writer Nathan Bransford. I followed trends, read as much as I could and started going to writing conferences in San Francisco to meet Bransford himself.

I looked to my home state of Utah for more support and quickly found other writers like myself. I found inspiration while working in a middle school library buying books for students, writing grants for new programs, and creating relationships with kids who I felt a strong connection with. I enjoyed my time there and I felt like I had something to offer them and became excited to share my story with others.

In 2010 I had my youngest child. I was torn between wanting to spend my time writing and being a mother to a new baby. I felt like this challenge was given to me for a reason and made the choice to put my writing on the back burner until my little girl was older and in school. I’m not a person to half-ass anything I do. So, the best option for me was to move forward with things I could do from home. During this time I’d been raising four kids and running a household with a husband who worked out of state. Much of my time has been lived like a single parent juggling kid’s schedules and projects between writing conferences where I now found myself helping other writers through a group/website I founded called The Authors’ Think Tank. Hosting podcasts, blogging, and traveling to events started taking up much of my time and I started wondering if I’d ever finish what I started with my novel/series.

I took a leap of faith and a wad of cash in March of 2014 and paid Michealbrent Collings to do some editing work for me. That was really hard sending off that MS. That was the longest two weeks of my life. After getting the edits back, I wondered if I should even keep on writing and I took six months to let things percolate inside my brain. Doubt and frustration in myself grew and I didn’t know where to start editing when I had over 450 comments to tend to absorbing and adjusting from. Plot issues abounded and I knew even after I handled the comments, I still would have a monumental task ahead of me.

Currently I’m deep in edits. I’ve put together a marketing team and have a group of people ready to support me once I’m done. I have an agent who is ready to look at it when it’s ready and a family eager to support me. I have one year till my daughter is in school and I look forward to what the next part of my life will hold. It’s been a long road (as many describe) to publication which I haven’t yet obtained. Patience and development are needed in this field. I’m okay with that. Hell, it took Harry Potter seven books to finally defeat Voldemort! No story without trial is a good one. My advice to any writer is this—Stop looking at other writers and comparing yourself. Your story is not like another’s. Some stories take more time than others. That’s okay. The important thing is to keep moving forward. You’ll get there.

About the Author:Author
Jennifer Bennett or J.J. Bennett has worked as content manager for Wise Scholar and writer for Zyndio, and online marketing firm. She has published articles by Ind’Tale magazine and numerous guest blogger posts in the writing community on the topic of writing and social media. Jennifer founded The Authors’ Think Tank which has grown to over 1500 writers and authors including many New York Times Best Selling Authors in all genres. These authors as well as Jennifer, contribute to both the website and podcast. She currently is working on her YA novel titled “The Path.”.

Finding Inspiration in the Writing Life

1 July 2015 | No Comments » | Nathan Barra

Writing is hard, lonely, and often underappreciated work. Authors spend years, if not decades, practicing and perfecting our craft with the hopes of someday being deemed “publishable.” Each year, thousands of aspiring authors risk ego and scathing rejection for the chance to see their name in print. Most fail and give up. After all, walking away from the dream is easier and less painful than going on.

However, the truth is that there is only one person that can end the journey from novice to pro. Published authors aren’t victors, but rather they are survivors. They are those who have risked, been rejected, and stood back up to go another round. Whether traditionally or independently published, authors and hopefuls alike need to be constantly putting themselves out into the world. We need to attend conventions and seminars to network and learn. We need to keep writing, submitting and resubmitting until the popcorn starts popping. Most importantly, we need to remember why we chose this path in the first place. It is that self-awareness that will keep us sitting down in front of the keyboard.

Though we have spoken extensively on business and writer’s craft here on the Fictorians, few of us have gone into our raison d’être. Largely that is because those experiences are deeply personal and often painful. However, the industry isn’t getting any easier. So, this month, we’ll talk about our motivations and inspirations with the hopes of sharing our strength and experiences with each other and with y’all.

I write because I believe in the power of fiction. To tell stories is to be human. Even our most ancient ancestors painted stories on the walls of caves so the exploits of great hunts and mythic figures could be shared with the future. Stories provide comfort and companionship to the weary and those in pain. They excite and invigorate the bored, and provide a safe place for the tormented or insecure to seek answers to the greater questions of life. Through books, we are able to live another life, experience another’s thoughts, and have sympathy for types of people with whom we may never interact. Our stories allow us to reach well beyond ourselves and help or inspire others.

I have heard some of these stories, and so know the power of fiction first hand.

Because of fiction, soldiers earn purple hearts by jumping on grenades to save the lives of their comrades.

Because of fiction, teen aged girls leave an abusive home with nothing more than a backpack of clothes and a single beloved book.

Because of fiction, a young man found hope in the midst of depression.

Fiction has power because we as authors feed our energy, the product of our imaginations, and the strength of our beliefs and convictions into the stories. However, for that world changing fiction to exist in the first place, we must understand ourselves well enough to know that we can never give up on the dream.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: