Category Archives: Website

My Reverse Resolutions

On New Year’s Day, I drove past two large groups of cyclists; perhaps two dozen all told.

The following day, I passed 6 joggers, not a one of them daunted by a cold winter drizzle.

Even in a fitness-conscious community like Chapel Hill, these are statistical anomalies. The explanation, naturally, is New Year’s. If you visit a YMCA this week, you will find it packed with rigorous exercisers. Weight lifters, treadmill joggers, swimmers, tennis players, cardio fiends.

By April, they will be gone.

New Year’s resolutions aren’t permanent. This is why you shouldn’t make them: you should set goals. Year round.

This year, I’m making zero “resolutions”, but I do have goals. An ongoing goal from prior years is to become published in fiction.

This has led me to make two counter-intuitive, or “reverse” resolutions:

  1. To blog less.
  2. To get rejected by publishers more.

These both sound bad, don’t they? Like I’m striving to be lazier, less productive, or lower the quality of my work.

The first resolution is especially strange. Time and again I’ve renewed the blog, came to the table with new columns, new schedules, new requirements to impose upon myself.

These were in part due studying what makes blogs successful for career bloggers. I even met a guy last year who explained, in detail, how to take a blog from zero to hero: 3 readers to 3,000. I was following much of his advice, as well as common sense. Guidelines like post regularly, post on time, determine specific topics.

All good advice.

But the truth is, I have no interest in being a career blogger. Generating additional readership via the blog would be a nice bonus, but the people who blog full-time are doing what they wanted to do. I would much rather have my work garner readers who then stop by the blog — if they want.

So I am ignoring all the advice and methodology for generating blog readers. This blog is not to make me a successful blogger; it’s to keep my fiction and non-fiction readers informed about current projects.

What I want is to write fiction, and tying myself to blog columns takes time and effort away from fiction. So it’s out. Gone.

I will post when I post, and it will be on whatever I want to write. If people like it, fine. If they don’t, who cares? Those who really want to know will RSS me and so it won’t matter if I post every Wednesday or once a year.

The second Reversolution, to get rejected more, is probably more understandable. No writer has ever broken in without rejection. And often, the more numerous or harsh the rejections, the better the later career.

The fact that I’m not getting rejected more is proof that I am simply not submitting enough. So the goal isn’t actually rejection: It’s publication.

But rejection is a reality. All of the most successful authors have been rejected, some of them thousands of times. It’s time for me to get on the same track.

Blog Restructuring: You’re going to like it.

Devoted readers, I submit to you that my various ramblings, while entertaining, may appear random and unfocused. For this reason, I am implementing blog patch 3.0.024.2042.1491823.24985492.2.0000000q.

In this edition of the website, my commitment to you is to post three times per week; specifically, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Read More →

ASK JASON ANYTHING: How do I get a copy of your book?

It’s a writer’s job to know a little bit about everything, and to thoroughly research anything he doesn’t know. ASK JASON ANYTHING is your opportunity to challenge Jason with a question of any kind, whether it’s scientific or religious, financial or social, political, historical. It can be something you already know, or something you’re genuinely curious to learn. You can ask trivia or knowledge or advice, and every Thursday, Jason will do his best to answer. (Read more atwww.jasonrpeters.com.)

Today’s question is cheating, since it’s one I already know the answer to. (It’s also on the wrong day.) But it is based on a real event: yesterday as I attempted to pound a Starcraft II opponent into oblivion, I received this surprising query:

How do I get a copy of your book?

What?…really?

Well, okay, if you insist.

For those who might follow me on RSS/Facebook/Twitter/Telepathic Emanations/Bridge Graffiti, I guess I should tell you.

There is a page on my website where you can request any manuscript I have written. You can find it here. Several short stories are included, as well as Fragile Gods. Just pick the title that interests you and submit.

Now, regarding Fragile Gods, I must again offer disclaimers: I do not think this work is up to publication standards, though I do think it is an interesting and engaging read, and I value feedback to improve it. For this reason, I am certainly not pushing it on people (‘hey, plz read my book kk”), but for the genuinely curious, it is freely available. I hope you enjoy.

With apologies to my commentors

I just checked the site today and found five or six comments I’d had no idea were ever posted.

It used to be I’d get emailed whenever a new comment was posted. For some reason that hadn’t been happening. Here I thought the site was stagnating when in fact I have more participating than ever.

This also accounted for any delay first-time posters (Michelle, William) would have had in having their comments approved. I need to look into my settings and see what changed.

Just writing is easy. But Actual Writing is hard.

Overwhelmed?So, the blog began as a little extra work to keep me in the practice of writing. Also a way for me and my readers (aka friends) to keep on top of my work, progress, and writing career. (Even though the most lively discussions are, predictably, a little off topic.)

Things have changed.

The overall feeling of having an audience has been trans-formative for me. The best thing I can compare it to is that if you’re at work and conversing with a buddy, you might talk about anything that comes to mind. If you’re in that same conversation and suddenly your boss walks by, you may or may not change your topic or tone, but you’re likely to be a little more self-conscious. (Even if your direct supervisor doesn’t make you feel this way, chances are there is someone who does. Regional manager. Vice president. Auditor. Whomever.)

This makes me want to present the best of myself, especially in the focus for the site: My fiction. The various political commentaries are just an exercise…stretching my descriptive muscles, as it were.

To that end, writing has slowly but inexorably taken over the cracks in my life. It used to be that I would play video games or other forms of recreation for most of the evening/weekend, and then fit a little writing into the bored cracks between other activities.

Now the reverse is true.

I listen to podcasts on writing on the way to work and back. When I’m doing mindless data entry, I listen to podcasts on writing while I’m at work. And when I’m not learning from these podcasts, I’m mentally critiquing them — still literary exercise.

Now I even listen to podcasts about writing at home, because it’s as close as I can get to having professional writers in the comfort of my own home giving a constant stream of advice.

Sometimes I’m writing. Sometimes I’m formatting a work for submission. Sometimes I’m buying supplies. Sometimes I’m working on the website.

Sometimes I’m planning what to write. I spent about two hours this evening just working on an outline for a novel — and bear in mind, this is a novel for which the first 10,000 words have already been written — not a new concept.

When I started, the blog was extra work to get me to write at least a little bit every day.

Now, blogging is where I turn when I need a break from writing fiction.

Oh, how far we’ve come in just two months.

I hope this trend continues indefinitely. But more-so I hope it is reflected in the scope and quality of my work.

A buddy told me at work today that until I’m reporting earned income on my taxes, I’m still an amateur writer. This was partly good natured ribbing, and partly his excuse for why he hadn’t read any of my stories even though I explicitly printed one out and handed it to him…I think over a week ago. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think he realizes how seriously I take this — and that’s understandable. I’ve certainly met my fair share of wannabe writers whose work makes me think, “Are you kidding?” I personally cringe whenever someone says, “Will you read this? I wrote it!” so I can hardly blame others for setting those pages aside.

But even if he was totally kidding, there’s some truth to what he said, and it only inspires me to drive harder to reach that magic benchmark of publication. Will it be this year? Next year? Ten years from now? My next submission? God only knows, but I won’t stop until it happens, until the work sells, until the first movie contract, until the first blockbuster, until I make so much money writing that far beyond having a regular day job, writing is my job, and not only that, I’m so good at it that I no longer write because I have to…I write because I want to.

That’s negative reinforcement. I also get it from www.101reasonstostopwriting.com.

Positive reinforcement comes when Mr. Snuggles posts that a scene is my cleanest yet, when my brother-in-law who I never even expected to check the blog tells me he gets my RSS feed, and he and his girlfriend have real feedback on my latest story. When Elizabeth comments on one of my rants and I know she’s still reading even though I probably drive her nuts.

Slowly but surely, writing is becoming as much of a constant obsession as online gaming ever was. Keep pushing me in that direction, I beg you.

Now I must return to that outline and consider adding another scene to Second Chances.

Break’s over.

It’s already helping.

upwardgraphSome writers dread the blank page; not I.

I love the blank page. A whole world of possibilities awaits, and not one clumsy phrase yet clutters the concepts. Drafting the opening line of a story may well take me several hours, but it’s a process I enjoy.

For me, the challenge is the middle of a project. I find myself awash in a sea of words. The opening glow has been lost, and no fruits of my labor are in sight. Minor changes to the first paragraph can send ripples through the rest of the work causing untold grammatical or continuity errors until each is painstakingly fixed. I recently found a sentence in Perfect Justice that lacked gender agreement from the first half of the sentence to the next. That’s a pretty basic mistake, and I’m pretty sure one I’ve NEVER made in stream-of-consciousness writing. It occurred only because at some point, I changed the gender of a minor character, and failed to correct all the related pronouns.

Last night I wrote for about two hours, working on Woman’s Best Friend. Afterwards, I logged into the site and updated my wordcount.

Now when I look at it today, that progress bar has leaped forward. Before when I worked on a story, particularly the first draft, I got no sense of progress or accomplishment. Even now, I still don’t know how many drafts it will take before I submit for publication, and afterwards it’s anybody’s guess how many rejection slips it takes before publication. (And some stories may never see print.)

But the progress bar is something and it’s giving me a sense of achievement and more motivation to go back tonight. It’s made my progress quantifiable at a glance (if not qualifiable).

Quite likely 3,000 words will be too short for that story, but I wanted a very attainable goal for the first project undertaken along with the website. And it will make a good benchmark to try and stay within before going longer to make sure I’m no wordier than necessary.

Website Updates

windowslivewriterfeediconsandfeedreaders-103ffrss4I’m not sure if you can technically call them “updates” for a brand new website that is still under construction in some ways.

Nevertheless, I’ve added some content to the site in the last couple of days I thought worth mentioning.

First, I’ve fleshed out three sub-pages to my Completed Projects page, explaining my philosophy and approach to Short Stories, Nonfiction, and Novels and the roles each of these projects play in my writing career.

Next, I’ve included the full text of two nonfiction articles; previously self-published at Helium, I can no longer sell first publication rights for them so I lose nothing by posting them here. More will follow in the days to come.

Third, I’ve included the first half of two short stories: Perfect Justice and New Magic. If you haven’t read these before, have a look. Or even if you have read them, feel free to peruse them again, suggesting improvements as you go.

I’ve also added pictures to practically every page and post, and enabled avatars in comments. I’ll be adding my own avatar later this evening. I don’t know how they work yet for end users, since I enable mine in the administrative back end, but if you figure it out let me know. It’s possible I may need to add a “login” feature to the site, but hopefully not. (I want to keep it as simple as possible.)

I plan on adding links to the bottom of teaser content (partial stories and sample chapters) which direct readers, “Where’s the rest of this story?” One idea I had is to include an option to buy a single copy of a full story from me for $1-$2 (or $1 per chapter for novels), but I need to research the legality of doing this and then publishing first north american rights from an intellectual property standpoint. In any case, I will add a “request this story” option and close friends and family will of course be entitled to full versions of any story they wish.