Tag Archives: Tracy Hickman

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.

 

Second Person? Yes, You Can

SojournerOne of the infallible rules that I’ve always been told is that you can never write a good story in second person. First person stories let us see the character in depth from a single person’s point of view. Third person, while not quite as personal, allows us to easily switch viewpoint characters and see the world from multiple points of view. But second person? Who wants to read a fiction story that keeps taking the reader out of the story by insisting that they are the character. “You went to the store. You bought a gallon of milk. You chugged it down so fast you made yourself sick.” Nope. Doesn’t work. But can it?

There are two scenarios in which I think second person works beautifully. First, is the choose-your-own-story scenario. These are books, sometimes online and sometimes sold in stores, where the storyline can change according to the choices the reader makes. I haven’t read many of these. Okay, maybe only one, but I’ve seen calls for them. One online publisher in particular–I can’t remember the name–wanted stories for YA girls. It seems that many of these girls enjoyed a second-person story with a bit of romance and adventure, where they could decide how their story progressed and how it ended. I think there’s some value in this. Just as first person, present-tense, makes a story more immediate, second-person can make it more personal. There’s a unique opportunity to entertain while teaching about the inevitable consequences to our choices, especially if the story is done realistically well.

Another scenario, my current favorite, is writing for games. After struggling for over a year with the technicalities of creating a story for the board game, Sojourner Tales, I finished the module, The Hologames. It’s a take off my Mankind’s Redemption series, going back to the early years of one of the side characters, and introducing the inception of one of the series’ fun elements, the hologames and hololympics. The story modules are written in second person, present tense, and like a choose-your-own-story, the players select the direction in which the story proceeds. There are a lot of great reasons to present the story modules this way:Hologames (2)_smaller

Second person makes the game feel like a personal adventure. In A Knight’s Tale, you are the one trying to find the princess. Will you find the clues, get lost in a dungeon, eaten by a dragon…? In The Hologames, you’re trying to win prizes and glory along with your chosen partner. Will you pick human or alien, which species, what battle themes, and will you select the right environments to win? Second person increases the fun of the scenarios.

In a board game scenario, having the story in second person coordinates with moving tokens, having unexpected events, and the eventual closing chapter and game conclusion. They integrate well.

By putting a tell-your-own story with a board game, Tracy Hickman has brilliantly made a game that can be played multiple times for each story module and the players will have a slightly different game each time. It may not be strategy with the complexity of Twilight Imperium, but the inherent variety is an interesting twist on traditional board games. It’s a lot of fun.

So, never write in second person? Generally, no, but when given a chance to take a risk and step outside the box, I took it. It’s been a great ride.

Bio: Colette BlackAuthor Pic
Colette Black lives in the far outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona with her family, 2 dogs, a mischievous cat and the occasional unwanted scorpion. She loves learning new things, vacations, and the color purple. She writes New Adult and Young Adult sci-fi and fantasy novels with kick-butt characters, lots of action, and always a touch of romance.

The Potential of Daydreams

A guest post by Patrick Sullivan.

Part of becoming a writer is learning to chase dreams. What ifs, fragments of ideas, whispers of truth and falsehood mixed together into a cocktail that sends the imagination off in any number of different directions. It can be taken for granted once you get used to it, having the ability to wrestle with ideas and draw them from the strangest places.

Yet many look down on this skill, the ability to daydream and find ideas. People tease about daydreams and how you should live in the now, not in your head. But where would we be without those who think big? From science that changes the course of human history all the way to stories that inspire people to be what they are capable of, find who they really can be, daydreams can send ripples across all of human existence.

A personal example of such inspiration is recalling a talk Tracy Hickman has given twice at Superstars Writing Seminar where he talks about the time he met a veteran who was gravely wounded, but still saved lives thanks to the inspiration he found in books Tracy and Margaret Weiss wrote, and what that moment meant to him.

Being able to give courage to the fearful, hope to the hopeless, and belief to those without is a powerful tool, and storytelling can do that in a way nothing else can. Stories are funny in that they can appear trivial, yet have so much hidden power to inspire.

For me, the most personal example of inspiring others came about because of my alpha reader. I tend not to let many people near my novels in their early state, but one old college friend insisted, so after doing continuity cleanups and the like, I send ‘em her way. One of those novels stuck with her to the point that we had a text conversation one evening where she was imagining a future for those characters after the events of my novel.

Watching her imagination soar because of a story I wrote, inspired by characters I crafted in a world of my own design, felt amazing. Especially when I considered the fact this happened months after she read the book. That character, those scenarios, rooted themselves so deeply in her head that she needed to let them run free. It tells me a lot about how writers who are okay with fan fiction feel about others’ reactions to their work. It can be intoxicating.

So now anytime I’m writing a story, I ask myself what I hope to inspire in my readers. It doesn’t need to be preachy and message-filled, but it should let them take away something. Perhaps it’s simply a good laugh, or maybe something more. But I always do it with purpose, because I want anyone who comes to my stories to walk away better for having read them. To be inspired.

Guest Writer Bio:
Patrick Sullivan is an explorer of ideas across many forms, from digital data and code to stories. He grew up in southern Arkansas, but found his true home in Denver, Colorado, where he now works in the software industry while writing tales he intends to someday share with the masses.