Blazing Star

It has been a while since I posted on here. There will be more on that at a later date, but I have some BIG NEWS to share with you tonight.

Davis Publishing Company hosts a quarterly short fiction contest and the finalists for Summer 2016 were announced last night. My story, The Blazing Star, was picked as one of the final entries, and will be published by DPC along with the other two finalists. Of course, the final placing must be decided by author and writing mentor KM Weiland, but that’s all gravy at this point. Being a finalist means that I will go from aspiring fiction author to PUBLISHED fiction author.

PUBLISHED.

I want to let that sink in for a minute because it feels kinda good. I have published writing works before as a journalist, but this story being published is a momentous thing for me. It gives me hope that I can really make this writing thing work, and now I want to work harder to keep the ball rolling.

On the heels of this announcement, I would also like to offer a bit of a teaser for future projects. I have been working with Josh Davis of DPC to build on the Blazing Star story, which came about after I wrote the short story. I knew there was more to the tale than what I had in the submitted work, so I have been working on expanding that. More to come in the future on that!

I want to thank Josh and Patricia of DPC for taking me on and giving me all the guidance and support that I could ever ask for. I also have to thank my wife, Emily, who has supported my writing and gave me the strength to finally chase this dream.

Be sure to look for the final results of the contest on September 30th, and keep an eye out for more news after that!

Goals

We all have goals.

Weight goals (of one kind or another), workout goals, life goals, work goals, etc.

The point is that you have to shoot for something. Without a destination in mind, we are aimlessly driving to nowhere.

With this in mind, I have set some goals for myself, or more accurately, for my first book. In case, you haven’t been paying attention, read further on my novel aspirations HERE. Anyhow, my goals are:

  1. I want to complete 5 chapters a week on my first draft.
  2. I want my first draft to be done by October 1st.
  3. I want to have critiques and edits done by November 1st.
  4. By April, I want my final draft off to a editor/proofreader
  5. Roughly one year from now, I want my book to be hitting bookshelves.

Those are my goals. They may come to be, and they may not, but now I have something to shoot for. As for goal #1, I have 3 chapters done in 3 days, so I’m doing alright thus far. I figure it will take me roughly 10-12 weeks to do my first draft at this pace, which I am fine with, since I have a full time job and a family. That will put me well within range of goal #2. Then begins the race for the rest of my goals.

Also, big news, I have reached a verbal agreement with the Davis Publishing Company to be my publisher. The co-owner, Josh Davis, has been a great help and mentor, and I am looking forward to working with his growing company. I hope that we can help each other by bringing both of our respective brands success!

So the moral here is to have goals. I have a few other goals that I’ll keep to myself for now, but when the time comes, I hope they will be instrumental in building towards a life that is fulfilling for both myself and for my family.

That’s all I have for now, folks. Keep checking in for updates on the progress of my novel. I will be sure to post milestones as they are reached. Sometime soon, I will release a story synopsis, so keep your eyes peeled for that!

The Battle Has Begun…

Earlier this year, I began crafting an idea for a book. For years, I banged half formed notions and thoughts around my head, trying to get something to stick. I was unable to give the ideas the attention they needed to grow, and they would always fade away. I was almost to the point where I was going to let writing fade in to the background of my life. Luckily, inspiration came along and turned things around.

My wife chasing her dreams kicked my writing habit back in to gear. I knew if I rested on my laurels any longer, I wouldn’t ever get started. 6 months later, I had a plot summary with 51 pages and 34,000 words. I pushed myself to make progress, and the ideas flowed like water.

I created a plot that I felt a personal sense of pride in. I built a story idea that I believed in, and that I knew could be the basis for a series of books. The only thing I was worried about was the opinion of others.

I sent my work out to a few people, so they could check the plot summary for the content it contained. I wanted to know if they felt it was a good story, and if it was worth moving forward with. The response I got back was favorable, and I was told that I was on the right track. I knew that I had something substantial to work on.

What I have is a fantasy tale. I won’t go in to details, because I’m not ready to share that with the world. I will say that it’s not overly fantastical or wild. I love the fantasy realm for the ability to build my own world, make my own rules, and not be bound by our reality. So here I am, with my plot summary and a path forward.

Now the battle begins. I have started the work on the actual story, and it will be a long and twisting path to the completion of the book. I’ve done a lot of research and read a lot of books, blogs, articles, and works on how to go about writing a book. I’ve tried to prepare myself and figure out how to go about attacking this, but I have realized that nobody will be able to tell me how to best write my book. Only I will know how I can accomplish that. I found that out when I began my summary. I followed the steps of others, but my success came when I followed what came natural to me. Obviously, the advice and experience of others did give me some guidance, but when the ink went on the paper, I had to chart my own path. I feel like writing the book will be the same. I will have the mentors and guides to consult, but my hands will write the book, and I have to figure out the best way to do it. The process will be slow at first, but I know I will find my way. I can see the story in my head, but now I just have to figure out how to get it on to the page.

I feel like every day will be a learning experience, and some days will be incredibly frustrating. I will want to give up, and I will want to walk away. I will wonder why I ever decided to make writing a part of my life. After that, I will sit back down, and lay siege to the story and not quit until it is finished. I want it too bad, and I want to write for a living. If I can pass this test, then I can make it my life.

So, today I announce that my story, currently titled Mage’s Fire, is in work. I am proud of the fact that I can say this, and that I can actually share it. I’m hoping to have it done within a year. Josh, hold me to that. In fact, everyone hold me to that, so I can set myself a real deadline.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this venture. Also, thank you to the people who have always supported my writing habit. Without the guidance and kicks in the ass, I would not be this far along. Keep guiding and kicking.

Now I am off to put more words in to my story. I hope that it will be as good in your eyes as it looks in mine.

Writing Tips With Josh Davis

Today, I would like to welcome Josh Davis to The Town’s End Tribune! He is a very experienced writer with loads of knowledge, and I’m hoping to share his thoughts on a regular basis. So, without further ado… Here’s Josh!


000 josh writing picI’ve been writing professionally off and on for over ten years now. It all started with a gig as a sportswriter for a local weekly newspaper in my hometown of Appomattox, Virginia. Then, I served as a contributor (and later as the general editor) of a Mixed Martial Arts news website. While I was editor, web traffic was increased by over 1600%, unique page views per month increased by nearly 600%, and we won numerous awards for our content. During that time, I was also winning awards for my poetry, and working on my own blog, the (now defunct) Laymen’s Theology blog, and working on novels. Since January of 2015, I have been writing full time, achieving the dream of writing for a living as a freelance ghostwriter and editor while I keep working on my own things, earning nearly $30,000 as a writer last year.

In March of this year, my wife (Patricia) and I started a publishing company together, and our first release achieved #1 on no less than six best-seller lists on Amazon.com.

I say all this, not to brag, but to illustrate the simple fact that I know what I’m talking about. If I give out tips or information, it’s because I know that it works and will increase the overall quality of your writing. So, drawing on my over ten years of experience as a pro, I started my #WritingTipsWithJosh series of videos on my YouTube channel. I try to post a writing tip video every Thursday, to help the aspiring writer to improve as a writer. After all, my personal motto is, “never stop learning.”

And it is with that intention in mind that I illustrate the key points of my video from this week, regarding introductions and prologues in fictional stories.

Introductions, while pivotal in non-fiction books and articles because they introduce the reader to the material, are one of the worst things that you can put in a fictional story. They serve only to ruin the story itself, because readers do not want you to tell them what they are going to read, they want to read it. More importantly, the information in an introduction is often simply a repeat of the information they’ve already digested in the book description. After all, any discerning reader will read reviews and book descriptions to determine if the story is one that will interest them. So, never include an introduction in fictional stories.

As to prologues, they are a slightly trickier animal. It would be very easy to say “don’t include prologues either,” but the fact is, prologues can actually serve a purpose if handled with care. The trick is to make the prologue matter.

For example, let’s look at one of the best-selling fictional stories ever written: J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

The first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone serves as the prologue to the story. Rowling masterfully sets the stage with information that matters to the story. Hagrid mentions that he borrowed the motorcycle that he delivered Harry with from “young Sirius Black.” Black, of course, is not mentioned again until the third book in the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. We see Professor Dumbledore leave a letter with the infant Harry’s sleeping form. We never know the contents of that letter until the fifth book in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

More immediately, we read that Harry’s cousin, Dudley, pokes and prods at Harry for the next few weeks, foreshadowing the abuse that the Dursley’s put young Harry through until his eleventh birthday.

While not a true prologue, the first chapter of the series demonstrates all the qualities that we look for in a prologue. It is filled with plot points and conflicts that never fully come to fruition until later (and sometimes, much later) in the series. The motorcycle, for example, is used in the third book to illustrate Sirius’s hand in the death of Harry’s parents. The fact that Professor McGonagall is able to shape shift into a cat sparks Hermione’s search for incriminating forms of bugging in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In the fifth book, we learn that Professor Dumbledore told the Dursley’s that Harry’s life would be in extreme danger if they ever turned him out, resulting in his being allowed to stay in the house in Order of the Phoenix.

These are the qualities that we look for in great prologues…setting up plot points that matter. The key is to avoid dumping information onto the readers, immediately turning them off from the characters that we have spent so much time getting to know and falling in love with ourselves. After all, if we don’t love our characters, the reader won’t either.

Writing compelling stories is less like The Notebook and more like Saving Private Ryan. We have to fight to earn the privilege of having readers read even one more word. Speaking from experience, there is no greater feeling that seeing our words have the desired impact on the reader. We want readers to cry with our characters, laugh with them, rejoice with them, and leave the worlds that spring forth from our minds feeling as if there is something missing. We want them to become so immersed in the story that they are compelled to turn the page, simply to find out what happens next.

Do you really want to turn them off just because you couldn’t restrain yourself from dumping all the information you can into a few pages at the front of your brilliantly composed novel? If your answer is “no”, then avoid prologues as much as possible, and never use an introduction to your fictional story. If your answer is anything other than “no”, you need to find a new line of work.

Seriously.


Josh Davis is a writer, editor, and publisher in his hometown of Appomattox, Virginia. He has been married to his high-school sweetheart, Patricia, for almost eight years and the couple has three children, Ivy (7), Nathaniel (6), and Christine (2). He is an avid fisherman and golfer, and loves to watch his favorite football team, the Tennessee Titans in the fall.

He currently has one novel and one biopic in the works, Stockholm Syndrome and Power of One, respectively. You can learn more about his work as a writer at Josh Davis, Writer. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter. For more information about his company, you can visit the Davis Publishing Company Facebook page and website.

For more writing tips and tricks, subscribe to his YouTube channel. To have your questions answered, use the #WritingTipsWithJosh hashtag on Facebook and Twitter.