Category Archives: Jace Killan

Jace lives in Arizona with his wife and five children. In addition to writing he enjoys music, photography, and anything outdoors. He holds a Masters in Business Administration from Utah State University and is the Chief Financial Officer of a biotech company.

How to Tribe

tribe memberI’ll never forget that day in 2012 when I became part of a tribe. I walked into the hotel conference room and scanned the wide array of books on the back table. Then I noticed the Star Wars Jedi Academy Trilogy I had read in high school written by Kevin J. Anderson. I was both excited and intimidated by the talent I would meet at the Superstars Writing Seminar about to start.

Finally a familiar face entered the room, Colette Black, who had invited me to attend. She was greeted by an energetic fellow who asked, “Where’s Jace?”

I was awe struck. Had someone actually asked for me by name? Colette pointed at me and the gentleman introduced himself as Kevin J. Anderson. I remember tripping all over myself and then having one of those Chris Farley “that was stupid” moments in my head.

As the seminar progressed I learned that I was amongst friends. I had found my people. These professional and aspiring writers liked what I liked. But that didn’t necessarily make us a tribe.

I had been a part of groups before with like-minded folks, be it religious or civic or nonprofit. But each of these seemed plagued with unnecessary drama. Gossip and backbiting usually undermined the group’s endeavors.

My tribe was different. It didn’t much matter where I was in my writing endeavors; everyone seemed eager to help me be better.

Being a part of the Superstars Tribe has been a great experience, not only for my writing career, but for life.

There are two sides to a tribe. The benefits of having a tribe are exceptional. And the opportunities that come from being a good tribe member are equally wonderful.

In case you’re curious, this is how to Tribe:

  • Be humble. When you need help, ask for it. A tribe is full of members that want to help you, that believe in you, and will do what they can.
  • Be grateful. It’s just good manners. Acting entitled won’t get you very far.
  • Be teachable. Feedback is a gift. And don’t forget to be grateful.
  • Be open minded. A good tribe will offer a lot of diversity which also means that there will be ample opportunity to learn if your mind is open to it.
  • Be willing. When an opportunity comes to help another tribe member, do it. Offer what you can, even if it’s just a hug.
  • Be dependable. When the tribe is counting on you, make sure you deliver. And if you can’t, remember to be humble and then to be grateful.
  • Be supportive. It’s not a race. We aren’t in competition. Root for others in the tribe. Celebrate their accomplishments.
  • Be sharing. Let others hear and participate in your successes. This is easy if you remember to be grateful.

A final thought. When I attended my first Superstars, I roomed with a great guy. We stayed up late talking about all kinds of things, some of them writing. Don Hodge knew how to Tribe. He helped me and others be better people and now his memory will help many more. I learned today of the Don Hodge Memorial Scholarship to attend Superstars Writing Seminars. Thank you Don. And thank you Tribe.


jace 1I live in Arizona with my family, wife and five kids and a little dog. I write fiction, thrillers and soft sci-fi with a little short horror on the side. I’ve got an MBA and work in finance for a biotechnology firm.

I volunteer with the Boy Scouts, play and write music, and enjoy everything outdoors. I’m also a novice photographer.

You can visit my author website at, and you can read some of my works by visiting my Wattpad page.

Live Deliberately

Several times now I have had the profound experience of listening to famed author and illustrator, James A. Owen give his incredible lecture titled, “Drawing Out the Dragons.”

There were many great lessons shared and some terrific insights into life. One particular seemed to penetrate me deeply; each time I’ve heard Drawing out the Dragons, I have felt challenged, recommitted to Live Deliberately.

Much of my early life, I lived like a stick floating down a stream, subjected to the whims and will of the water flow, victim to whatever happened to me, resenting most everything, because I wanted something else, but felt powerless. In recent years I’ve discovered that I have a voice, and it is my choice whether or not I use it. Rather than letting life and the elements act on me, I have chosen to act. I have chosen to live deliberately.

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

This is what I think it means to live deliberately.

Seize the day. “As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.” – Henry David Thoreau

Have no fear. “If you really want to do something, no one can stop you. But if you really don’t want to do something, no one can help you.” – James A. Owen

Let go of pride. “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you’re looking down, you can’t see something that’s above you.” – C.S. Lewis

Find your tribe. “The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Learn, always. “Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Know thyself. “He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.” – Lao Tzu

To thine own self be true. “Every once in a while, the Universe opens itself up to you and you alone, and shows you something that no one else is going to understand. And you have to decide in that moment how much you believe in what you have seeneven if everyone else in the world tells you you’re wrong.” – James A. Owen


The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”  Robert Frost

Rodeos and Popcorn

We’ve all heard the statistics of the odds of getting published as a writer. The stat most often thrown around is less than one percent of stories submitted for publication are ever actually accepted and published, let alone make any money from it.

Some look at the act of being published like a lottery, like it’s a matter of chances and getting lucky.

RodeoMy friend was in the pro rodeo bareback circuit (ranked in the top 10 in the US by winnings) and happened to have a layover in Phoenix, so he delayed his connecting flight and went out to the little rodeo in my town. I took the family to see him ride. Now I’ve been to a few rodeos and enjoy the events but know very little about form and technique. I’d tell you he rode well because he didn’t fall off during the eight seconds, but beyond that, I couldn’t tell you why his score was significantly higher than the others that also didn’t fall off.

After the event, he told me that the other riders hated that he showed up because usually those with his skills and winnings stayed away from the small time rodeos, giving others a chance to start winning something. I guess it’d be like Stephen King entering a local writing contest and making off with the grand prize of $100.

I asked him what he did that the other riders didn’t do and he tried to explain that he was scraping the bronco high on the shoulder with his spur and that made the animal jump higher and buck better in a sort of pattern. He definitely knew and understood his craft, though it made little sense to me.

As an aspiring writer, I thought my craft was great until a writing group set me straight, and a friend, and an editor, and another, and another. My point is that as I’ve grown as a writer, my understanding of my craft has changed and now I see that my work from a couple years ago was just awful.

A writer might have as much chance of getting on the pro rodeo circuit as getting published, but it isn’t a lottery. It’s a matter of getting back on the horse every time and writing better. Those one percent didn’t just wake up one day and decide to write a publishable piece. They wrote, got rejected, wrote some more, improved, got rejected some more, and improved some more until they developed enough skill to get published.

popcornThere is a great writing seminar to add to one’s proverbial belt, where Kevin J Anderson discusses his popcorn theory. To get the full gist, you’ll need to attend Superstars and it’s so worth it, I’m going again, so maybe we’ll see each other there. But in brief, the seminar gave me an idea that I should take every chance I came across to write. “I can do that,” as Kevin put it.

And I have done that. I was invited to guest post with the Fictorians and then invited back several times. I went out of my way to be on time and do a good job, which probably led to their inviting me to write for the Fictorians as a full fledge member.

I also started a personal blog. It’s a journal of sorts and discusses my personal spiritual journey, but there seems to be a niche for it. I’ve tried to post about once a month and each posting receives around five hundred hits. If I ever get anything published, these five hundred may be interested in reading something else that I’ve written.

I’ve also been asked to write articles at work. I’m in finance and my main job is as a CFO of a biotech firm. I’ve written a couple articles for the firm (and it’s a great source for research and ideas related to my sci-fi stories).

Not to long ago I took on a client that deals in antiques. There was a local paper known as the Antique Register and I wrote an article for it. They liked it so much that they asked if they could put it in their national paper known as the Country Register that distributes from California to Rhode Island and Canada. So now I’m on my third article. They’ve sent me dozens of the different editions from all over the nation and Canada each with my articles in them.

This led to me submitting articles for two other papers.

In the meanwhile I’m working on a couple novels and searching for an agent that can help me sell a finished historical fiction.

My goal is to get published and I can see that I’ve come along way and I think I am getting close, but I still continue to improve and write and work at bettering my craft. And I do that by writing wherever, whatever, however I can. If there are enough popcorn kernels in the pan, something is bound to pop eventually if I keep stirring it up and adding heat. I’ll see you on the pro circuit.

jace 1I live in Arizona with my family, wife and five kids and a little dog. I write fiction, thrillers and soft sci-fi with a little short horror on the side. I’ve got an MBA and work in finance for a biotechnology firm.I volunteer with the Boy Scouts, play and write music, and enjoy everything outdoors. I’m also a novice photographer.You can visit my author website at, and you can read some of my works by visiting my Wattpad page.

Researching it Old School and a Little New

researchLouis L’Amour talked to every “old timer” he could find so that he could accurately portray how folks used to live in the old west. Nowadays most writers just turn to the Internet.

There are great, insightful websites that offer a virtual experience and allow us to get into the minds of our characters. For example, I was writing about a space station built on the planet Mercury. Using computer software I was able to visit Mercury and see what Earth looked like from her surface. In the right rotation, Earth and her moon looked like two bright stars. This detail added a nice level of authenticity to my story.

A couple years ago, I was researching my family history and came across a gentleman that I may or may not be related to (I still can’t figure that out) but his story is a great one. Commodore Joshua Barney fought in the American Revolution and was one of the first to serve in the continental navy.

I decided to write his amazing coming of age story (and am nearly complete with this endeavor). Though at the time, I hadn’t a clue about ships and sailing in the 18th century. So I turned to the Internet.

Wikipedia is alright for double checking a reference, not hard fast research. But I perused its site first to get some direction.

YouTube offered some interesting videos on ship replicas from that era and I was able to glean some insights into sailing such a vessel. But even the replicas have been modified with gas engines and motorized rudders, so how authentic could that be? Most of the cabins have also been modified to accommodate the 18th century luxuries we now consider necessities like running water and flushable toilets.

I gathered twenty or so books from Amazon on sailing in the 18th century and other period pieces. The first thing I noticed is that folks back then didn’t talk like we do today. Keeping to the historic dialect would probably be more authentic, but I would most likely alienate my middle-grade readers in the process. So I drifted from authenticity in that area and hoped to make up for it in my research of the sailor life: food, sleep, hygiene, and so on.

I went to an antique mall and purchased a few model ships from the 18th century so I could get a feel for their look, dimensions, and layouts. This helped me gain a better prospective than just looking at photographs.

IMG_6211After reading the Amazon books and playing with my model ships, my head was swimming in information, but I really had no way of knowing what was worthwhile and what was rubbish. So I booked a sailing expedition on an 18th century tall ship replica (now referred to as a yacht). I was able to feel the experience, see it, smell it, and taste it. This made it easier to convey sailing in my writing. But I still lacked some aspects of the ship life.

My next research adventure came by surprise. I was visiting Collette Black’s Desolation book signing in Half Priced Books and wondered if they had anything on sailing. I was able to browse dozens of helpful books and elect the ones that were most specific to my project, at a great price. That is something you really can’t do on Amazon. I even found a book that discussed trekking through the Alps during summer in the late 1800s (something that my protagonist did at the age of fifteen in the late 1700s).

David Farland said that I needed to visit the Alps to convey the experience like I had with sailing. I’d love to, and don’t doubt that my writing that particular chapter would be much more convincing and insightful if I did, but I’m going to try writing the chapter from my research first and we’ll see how it goes.

So sure, researching has gotten much easier with the Internet, but researching it old school is still necessary to add levels of depth and authenticity that virtual experience has yet to duplicate. My experience on Mercury would no doubt be a drop in the bucket to what I might actually experience if I travelled to the planet (and lived to tell about it). Bottom line, there isn’t any short cuts. Even a fantasy novel on a made-up world still requires huge amounts of research to capture the reader. Good research facilitates better writing.

jace 1I live in Arizona with my family, wife and five kids and a little dog. I write fiction, thrillers and soft sci-fi with a little short horror on the side. I’ve got an MBA and work in finance for a biotechnology firm.I volunteer with the Boy Scouts, play and write music, and enjoy everything outdoors. I’m also a novice photographer.You can visit my author website at, and you can read some of my works by visiting my Wattpad page.