Category Archives: Successes

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.

What I Set Out to Do: Closing the Door on 2014

With one day left in the year, I think it’s safe to say I will not achieve the goals I set out for myself in 2014. I was hoping to complete three books, and instead I completed precisely zero. This suggests that I failed rather spectacularly, though the truth is not nearly so dire when I drill down to the amount of work I actually completed. The primary book I intended to write was supposed to be finished at approximately 100,000 words, and indeed I wrote 110,000 words—so I’m not done yet, but not for lack of trying. There’s just more story than I anticipated when I started it back in January. The other two books are already written more or less in full, and only require some polish to get ready. And therefore, with great confidence, I am able to predict that I will not only write, but also publish, three books minimum in 2015. A fourth book is not out of the question.

A year ago, I think I might have found a year in which I published no new titles discouraging. As important as it is to be releasing new material as often as possible, though, it’s also important to realize that one must devote the necessary time to producing quality writing. For me, 2014 was just such a year, and I expect to reap the rewards starting in the spring. So despite my seeming failure, the past twelve months have in reality been very productive. I’m enthusiastic about the coming months as I creep closer to the finish line on these multiple projects.

My primary novel-writing endeavour this year was getting through The Law of Radiance, the still somewhat tentative title of the third and final book in my Watchers Chronicle trilogy. In past years, I’ve adopted some pretty solid techniques for maintaining productivity and discipline, but this year the challenge was more about bringing a long-form story like this one to a close in as satisfying a manner as possible. Tying up the various plot and character threads of a single novel is challenging enough, so tying up three novels’ worth is a tall order. I’ve definitely learned a few things I’ll be taking into account next time I attempt a story on this scale.

Other lessons learned: don’t let yourself lose momentum when you reach a difficult yet critical juncture in your work in progress. My tendency is to work my way up to those big difficult moments, then back away for a few weeks, using the excuse, “I need to think this through before I move on.” The end result is that I typically go back and write it according to my first instinct anyway, so I don’t gain much by the delay and lose quite a lot of time in the process.

And as usual, the biggest professional obstacle standing in my way is my handling of the day job, which I routinely allow to take precedence over my writing. Which is, of course, a common scenario. This always seems to make sense at the time, but looking back over the past year, my biggest regrets revolve around not taking full advantage of the short periods of free time between my day job hours. It seems to me I could have squeezed out several more chapters if I’d made myself fill in all the cracks in my schedule that way.

Well, there’s always next year!

Love it. Do it.

Do What you loveMerry Christmas!

This is my favorite time of year.  I love Christmas and everything it stands for.  It is a time of good cheer, family, and giving, regardless of religious belief.  I am religious, so I celebrate that part too.

It struck me this week that Santa represents one of the best examples of someone making a crazy career choice and turning it into a successful, long-term enterprise.  Many people regard writers in the same not-quite-connected-to-reality category as Santa Clause.  And when we first start out, it can be hard to see past the detractors and the naysayers and keep pursuing a passion that has absolutely no promise of producing any financial return.

I’m a perfect case in point.  I’ve been writing for almost ten years, and my expense-to-income ratio so far is so lopsided, it’s laughable.  And yet here I am, still writing.

I love it.

I love stories.  I love consuming them in every form, and I love creating them.  Not only do I love to write, but I’ve set ever-challenging goals to drive myself along this writing path.  It may be a long road, but it’s a road I’m happy to travel.

I’m not the only one who believes that working at what we love is the best possible work choice.


Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.

~Ray Bradbury


There is no scarcity of opportunity to make a living at what you love; there’s only scarcity of resolve to make it happen.

~Wayne Dyer


If you are not doing what you love, you are wasting your time.

~Billy Joel


2014 was a banner year for me.  I set extremely high goals, and succeeded at many of them.  But what really made the year was that I managed to work more hours writing than I did at my consulting job.  I’ve been working toward this milestone for years, but I reached it almost without noticing.  I was so busy writing and doing, that I didn’t pause to reflect until I had already made the shift in my schedule.

The purely pragmatic side of me admits to nervousness as I allow my consulting business to trend downward to make more room in my life for writing.  My computer work is still how I pay the bills and support my family, and it’s a job I really enjoy.  However, I LOVE storytelling.  Despite long success in computer-related fields, I made the choice to move toward writing as a full-time career.  It’s taken a very long time to get to this point, but to me it’s worth the effort.

Loving this work means I Work at it.  This year, I completed three new novels (I set the goal to complete four), along with a lot of other work, including a frantic juggling act preparing novels for a fast-approaching publishing blitz.

2015 will be even bigger.  Eight novels published in eight months is the goal, and I’m doing everything in my power to reach it.

I love writing.

So I’ll work harder at this job than any other.

Do what you love.  Commit to it and let nothing stop you or convince you that you can’t.

It may take a while, but the time’s going to pass anyway.  Why not use it working toward a goal that means something to you?

Failure Is Not An Option

 A Guest Post by Amanda McCarter

Success is important. It means we’re moving forward, that we’ve achieved certain goals. Winning a race or a contest, getting a contract, finishing a book, losing weight. Whatever we set out to do, we want to achieve that thing.

Failure is seen as a setback. We didn’t do it. We screwed up. It’s depressing and soul crushing. We worked so hard (or maybe not hard enough) and got nowhere.

This is the wrong way to look at failure. We need to stop seeing failures as roadblocks to success. Maybe we can look at them more as detours or perhaps the scenic route?

Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I just found one thousand ways that won’t work.”

Think about that. The man invented the light bulb. He didn’t just go to his shop one day and pull a light bulb out of his desk. He worked at it. He tried over and over again until something worked.

Those aren’t failures. That’s exploration and determination.

I think, as writers, each rejection, every bad review, every “close, but no cigar” of our careers is just another way of finding out what works. We’re discovering ourselves, our voices, our work patterns and ethics.

Recently, I got fired from yet another job. It was in the IT field. The six years I spent in that field, I got laid off, fired, or quit out of disgust. I hated it. So this last time, when they brought me the box and took my keys, I cried a little bit. It was frustrating.

But I learned something. That wasn’t the right field for me. I’ve since moved on to a job where I get to work with animals. I love it and I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a job this much. Every day brings something now for me.

Did I fail at IT? Maybe. Probably. But I succeeded at discovering a field that makes me happy. I took all my experiences from a job that made me miserable and found one that makes me happy.
Imagine for a moment, that we got everything we ever strived for the first time we tried. Where would that put us? Would we appreciate it as fully? Would we even try anything else? Failures, these little detours, they help us grow and learn.

So I say failure is not an option. It’s a necessity.

Get out there, skin your knees, collect those rejection letters, feel those sore muscles, scream at the scale. Whatever it is you’re working towards, embrace the failures. Each one helps you discover more about yourself and gets you one step closer to the prize, whatever it is.

Fail hard. And smile. It’ll confuse the hell out of people.