Tag Archives: Larry Correia

Treat Yoself to a Dragon*Con

First, if you haven’t seen Parks and Recreation, do that. Do it. All of it.

Next, go to Dragon*Con.

This year was my first Dragon*Con, and can I just say “wow”? Wow. While it has a reputation as being a party Con, I found Dragon*Con to be one of the best. There’s something about being in a place with thousands of other people, taking up a lot of space, and being there for the same reason: to geek out together! I especially loved that I could look at anyone and smile. I felt the excitement and camaraderie almost immediately.

Dragon*Con has a few unique aspects. The panels and events are held in six hotels and buildings in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. Also, because it’s such a big Con, the organizers put the events and panels along a number of tracks. You can access the schedule and information about these panels via the Dragon*Con app. For example, if you are particularly interested in Anime/Manga, the organizers have a proposed schedule for you for each day. Some of the tracks include: Animation, BritTrack, Comics and Pop Art, Costuming, Fantasy Literature, High Fantasy, Horror, Military Sci-Fi Media, Paranormal, Podcasting, Sci-Fi Literature, Star Wars, Table Top Gaming, Urban Fantasy, Writer’s Track, Young Adult Literature, and many more.

But what’s in it for you as a writer? Lots.

I attended about 13 panels at Dragon*Con this year, most along the Writer’s Track. I loved the YA panels – it felt like we were all there together, laughing and geeking out over YA literature instead of an audience watching writers talk about writing.

I especially liked two panels over the weekend. The Magical Mavens of Fantasy/SF panel included Laurell K. Hamilton, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Mercedes Lackey, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and Jane Yolen (I’ll save you the play-by-play of my geek-out over Jane Yolen). Hearing these women talk about the industry, the people who told them they wouldn’t make it, and how they paved the way for the rest of us really made an impact on me. The sister (brother?) panel to Magical Mavens of Fantasy/SF I attended was Magnificent Men of Fantasy/SF with Kevin J. Anderson, Jim Butcher, Larry Correia, Peter David, and Larry Niven. I wasn’t expecting to laugh that hard, nor come near tears when they told touching stories.

Each night, the Westin hotel hosted a Writer’s Bar where professional writers could go to meet fans and fellow writers. I spotted and/or talked with Myke Cole, Sam Sykes, Jim Butcher, and Delilah Dawson. The cast of Wynonna Earp also showed up to hang out, which blew a lot of our minds. The accessibility of writing professionals at this convention seems abnormal, especially compared to other bigger Cons like San Diego. But nothing will light a fire under your ass to get published more than talking with professional writers and wanting to be on panels with them.

I’ve attended smaller conventions and a few huge conventions. Dragon*Con was my favorite. The Writer’s Track, High Fantasy Track, Sci-Fi Track, Urban Fantasy Track, and the Young Adult Literature Track provided multiple choices of panels each hour, and I didn’t attend one panel that I didn’t love. The access to professional writers was unlike any other convention I’ve been to. You’ll find that price of admission is well worth it to attend Dragon*Con. Oh yeah, and you’ll have a blast, too.

Writing for Magazines and Newspapers

AntiquesThe place of my day job interviewed several candidates to assist with marketing a retail antique store and restaurant. After floating through a few self-proclaimed gurus with no real results we became frustrated. Then someone pointed out that Jace was a writer. I hadn’t considered writing in that fashion and at that time knew very little about antiques, but why not give it a go? I liked being referred to as a writer and wanted to prove that I deserved the title, so I wrote a piece and submitted it to a local paper.

Let me pause here to emphasize an important observation. While the piece was well written and fairly entertaining, the paper was overly excited to have content. I’ve noticed that time and time again magazines, periodicals, and papers are looking for content to legitimize their advertising space.

That local paper liked the article so much that they asked if they could run it in their national paper. Now antiques are a bit of a niche, I’ll admit, but still there are enough readers to support a national distribution. Within a month I had received versions of these papers from as far away as Rhode Island and Canada all featuring my article.

So I did it again. This time I was let in on a little secret. This national paper only had a handful of contributors and they were extremely grateful for another. The articles allowed me to mention our store, and have helped with some free press.

I wasn’t compensated for these articles from the papers but the free advertising we received was worth thousands. And because I wasn’t compensated there weren’t any contracts or rights or terms. So I turned around a couple months later and submitted that same first article to several other papers. Now I’ve submitted articles all over. I’ve ran the same article in multiple papers at the same time. In fact, each time I’ve submitted an article to a paper I’ve been thanked and the article has ran in the next installment.

This goes back to my earlier observation: papers are looking for content.

There’s a lot of blogging going on these days, but print articles are still in demand (especially free articles). There are nationalized papers, journals, periodicals that are specific to niches like antiques. Most (I assume all) of these papers maintain their existence through advertising, but they all need someone’s words to print, stories to share. Larry Correia gains continual attention when he writes nonfiction about things like gun control.

It has been good for me in my writing career. Not financially per se but it has given me deadlines to meet, word counts to maintain, and it has gotten my name in front of tens of thousands.

Tracy Hickman once asked me why I write. He answered for me while I was thinking on the question, “To inspire,” he said. Whether fiction or non, contract or free, I write to inspire. Antiquing has become a fun niche where I can do just that.

 

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 www.jacekillan.com, and you can read some of my works by visiting my Wattpad page.

 

When Rules get you into Trouble

The_Book_Cover_Of_The_RacketeerA great writer once told me that to be a good writer, I needed to learn all the literary rules and then forget them all.

I remember the first time I shared my craft with a crit group. I remember thinking how lucky they all were to discover my talent. The session didn’t quite go as I thought. They tore apart my writing for one fundamental flaw—Point of View. In the chapter of about fifteen hundred words I switched POV at least seven times. I wrote as if I were watching a movie, each POV a different camera angle. This of course is amateurish and makes for rough reading.

In another crit group, I shared a new piece, expecting agent referrals and publishing contracts. Instead I received fantastic feedback on the concept (new to me at the time) of Showing vs. Telling.

So I upped my game. I avoided any word ending in “ly” and the word “felt” so that I could show instead of tell. (There was a great post on adverbs earlier this month). I wrote much more dialogue and I put my main POV character deep in the scene. I thought that I needed to keep reminding the reader of where my POV character was, how his/her hands were positioned, and where he/she was looking.

Instead of writing, “I picked up the phone.” I might have written something like, “I picked up the phone with my right hand while using my left to shuffle through some papers.

I’d use filtering phrases like “I could see the light glistening through the window from the outside.”

Rather than “Light glistened through the window.”

This type of writing really messes with pacing. I had written a scene as follows:

“Lenny grabbed the back of the trailer with his right hand and while running along he reached as far as he could with his left hand grabbing another part of the trailer and jumped at the same time pulling himself up though he got stuck part way but soon pulled himself up and onto the trailer. “

Rather than, “With some effort, Lenny managed to pull himself into the trailer.”

Also, I failed to give any backstory in my novel for fear of telling rather than showing. So I would get it in by an incredibly long discussion that didn’t quite work. I left my readers with a bunch of questions, because I was too afraid to “tell.”

It seemed as if I swung on the pendulum of poor writing from inappropriate use of POV and too much telling, to the other side of overuse of POV and obscurity.

To address my problems I’ve read, a lot. I take notice of when authors use “ly” words and when they use filtering and why it works or maybe how it could be better. I’ve paid attention to how an author shows a story, how he/she sets it up and establishes setting while still revealing back story, and I think I’m getting it. Maybe those publishing contracts are right around the corner or maybe I’ll have another opportunity to learn and grow or both.

I’m learning that good writing is just one element to a good story. I’ll endure page after page of telling backstory in The Rackateer by John Grisham, because the story is intriguing. I’ll ignore Larry Correia’s overuse of adverbs in his work Monster Hunter International because his story is extremely exciting and funny. I’ll overlook Michael Chrichton’s abundance of point of view filtering in Prey because the story is full of nail-biting suspense. Hopefully someday I can have the privilege of someone critiquing my work after they’ve paid for it.

jace 1I think that it is very unlikely that a person just wakes up one day and realizes that he/she is a fantastic writer. Great authors learn how to write great stories well. It takes time and lots of practice.

I think maybe I’m starting to forget some rules.

 

 

 

Life, the Universe, & Everything Symposium aka LTUE

Taken from LTUE’s website: LTUE “is a three day academic symposium on all aspects of Science Fiction and Fantasy. LTUE is comprised of panels, workshops, presentations and papers on writing, art, literature, media, science and other aspects of speculative fiction.”

I attended it the first time several years back and have been a few times. It has changed over time growing from a small student-run symposium for active Brigham Young University students being held in random rooms on campus to taking over the Continuing Ed building to now being held in a nearby hotel. Although it is held in Provo, Utah and run by the Mormon students of BYU, everyone is welcome and it is not religious based.

One time I attended, Richard Hatch, Apollo from the original Battlestar Gallactica, gave a two hour presentation. I was in full Battlestar-loving-geek mode sitting in the front row… six feet from my favorite teenage crush idol. I have to think Richard Hatch is used to the glazed looks and drooling women cause he is as cute as ever!

But I digress. This is a great event. I’ve met authors like David Farland, James Dashner, Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson, Larry Correia, James Eric Stone, J. Scott Savage, Lee Allred, Jessica Day George, and Howard Tayler at LTUE.

It’s small enough that you can easily visit with the presenters and panelists. They have readings, panel discussions, presentations, Q&As, workshops and book signings. There are generally three or more activities occurring at any one time and you can literally go from event to event for five to ten hours a day… for three days.

Some stand outs for me over the years have been a workshop on how to create your own language, how costuming affects how we see characters, how accurate do you need to be with facts and history in fiction, how to generate ideas, how to create plot, many aspects of world-building, tips on collaborating, how to create web-comics/comic books/graphic novels, how to do research, writing stellar openings, marketing, editing and revision and too many more to mention.

It is a feast of options, knowledge and networking. People travel to attend this event because it provides so much for the crazy reasonable price of only $30 for three days (and it used to be free).

I do recommend as soon as the schedule is available, highlight the topics you are most passionate about seeing and plan out your day. You have a few minutes to get from talk to talk, but trust me, you’ll want to know in advance where you are going to next. Bring lots of paper or a device for note-taking. In the past, I’ve taken snacks with me so I didn’t have to miss anything by taking a lunch break. They have evening fun like filking and a banquet as well.

If you are anywhere near Utah or can get here February 14-16, 2013, I highly recommend you do. LTUE is worth attending in ways you can’t even imagine.

Anyone else attend LTUE before and want to share?