2015 Goals

Photo courtesy of: http://www.happynew-year.com/
Photo courtesy of: http://www.happynew-year.com/

Yes I’m doing the whole resolution thing. I don’t think it’s as cliche as everyone thinks. I know for a fact that I will not be able to complete all of my resolutions, but I think it’s nice to have something to strive for. Of course, I have more goals for the new year besides writing and reading, but I won’t bother listing them here. Here are five things I would like to accomplish this year:

  1. Submit my book to a literary agent. (Yes, I still haven’t done this yet.)
  2. Get a short story published in a literary magazine.
  3. Improve my freelancing career. (It’s looking promising already!)
  4. Read at least one book a month. (It doesn’t sound like a lot, but I have a pretty demanding schedule.)
  5. Gain new blog followers. (This will probably happen when I start blogging more regularly.)

There are probably other things I could put down, but those actually seem feasible. The first two will take the most work, but looking back on 2014, I know that a lot can happen in a year. Who knows? Maybe this time next year, this will be the blog of a published author! 🙂

Good luck on your goals for the next year! Don’t be afraid to dream big. As the great philosopher Drake would say, “YOLO.”

Self Publishing?

This post is one big question that I’m hoping people can answer for me. Here’s the question: What is so great about self publishing?

To me, it seems that it is a good way to get your work published without going through an agency or a publishing company. However, doesn’t self publishing devalue an author’s work? I don’t think I would want to read a book that has been self published because it doesn’t have the backing of a publishing company. Publishing companies add a stamp of approval to an author’s work. Without it, I would have no idea if the book is even worth reading.

I know there are cases where self-published works get really popular. Eragon comes to mind, but even then, I didn’t know about that book until it got picked up by Random House. To me, self publishing feels like posting a really long political rant on Facebook and expecting everyone to treat it like an article in the New York Times.

Maybe it’s just because of my background. As a journalism major, it was so frustrating when people wouldn’t get their news from my carefully researched articles; they would get it from Twitter or Facebook. Self publishing rubs me the wrong way because I feel like if you’re good enough to be picked up by an agent and a publishing company, then your work deserves to be read. If not, then why bother publishing in the first place?

Feel free to respond. I am a novice to all sorts of publishing, so I really would like to hear from people who have gone through the self-publishing process. I’m sure I’m only looking at one side of the story.

My Novel: The First Page

I figured I would give everyone a taste of what my novel is about, so here is the very first page! Enjoy, and feel free to leave feedback!

Arach: The Dragon Saga: “The Lost Prophecy”

Chapter 1: Chosen

Mitchel could tell winter was on its way as he sat polishing his sword outside the Emperor’s castle. It was always cold in the world of Arach these days, but there was a raw bite in the frigid air that signified a change in the season. He was thankful for his thick jacket and the wool lining inside of his black boots. He rubbed an oiled cloth over the steel blade, until the dim sun’s rays made the metal and the red in his auburn hair gleam together. But he kept polishing, lest his hands start trembling again.

There were two paths before him, and only his actions would decide which path he would take. He sighed a little, his ice blue eyes following the cloth down the blade. It would not do to obsess about it too much. He was twenty-one years old, and in those twenty-one years he had learned that fear dulled the mind. He needed to be sharp today.

“If you keep polishing that sword, it’s gonna snap in half.”

Mitchel did not look up. “You sound surprisingly calm, Danial.”

Danial sat down next to him. They were dressed exactly the same, gray jackets, white shirts, black breeches, and black boots. Danial was shorter in stature but broader in his chest and shoulders. He wore his blonde hair cut close to his head, while Mitchel’s was long enough to reveal lose curls. Danial’s eyes were black, but the sharp, battle-hardened expression in them matched Mitchel’s perfectly.

“I think it hasn’t sunk in yet,” he said smiling slightly. “I’ll panic when the time comes. He looked over his shoulder at the palace. “They’re cutting our energy rations.”

Mitchel kept his face expressionless. “Oh?”

“Yep. We can’t use any lights until 8, and from now on, we have to rely on open windows to cool our rooms.”

“We don’t really need air conditioning anyway,” Mitchel said flippantly. “It’s never hot enough for that anymore.”

“True. I’m just glad we still have heat.”

The Emperor had been ordering cutbacks on energy stones even though the winter was probably was going to be the coldest one yet. Mitchel felt bad for the towns on the fringes of the regions. Some of them had not had power for a year. He wondered if they would freeze to death without energy stones to keep them warm.

Pretty soon none of us will have power, Mitchel thought. He looked to his left and saw dark smoke from the nearest energy mine billowing up into the sky. Every month the workers dug deeper and deeper into the earth as they searched for the glowing stones that powered the entire world’s technology. They were running out of stones, and the new ones they found were smaller and held less and less power. For centuries, people had taken the energy stones for granted as a renewable resource, but they had been wrong.

“Oh well,” Danial said with a shrug. “I’m sure the Emperor will come up with something. The Firsts can’t let this continue forever.”

“Of course,” Mitchel said quickly. It was dangerous to discuss the world’s problems for too long without mentioning that the Emperor or the Firsts would eventually find a solution. One never knew who could be listening. A thought occurred to him suddenly. “What do you think we’ll do if the power runs out for good?” he asked.

Danial shrugged again. He had a habit of doing that when something bothered him. “I guess we’ll have to find something else to use for fuel. Either that or we’ll raid the Dragon Realm for energy stones. I hear those lizards are hoarding them.” He snorted. “I hear they eat them.”

 

(Feel free to leave comments! Don’t be afraid to be mean…I’ll only cry on the inside.)

Publishing Update: My Novel

When I wrote my blog post about literary agents, I was planning to have my fantasy novel submitted to agents by the end of September. However, I’ve realized that my novel needs a lot more work.

The problem? It’s 250,000 words. I read on Writer’s Digest a few weeks ago that beginning writers usually get between 80,000 to 100,000 words for their first novel. Just think about the difference in sizes between Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I have to earn the right for more words per book.

Luckily, my book is already broken up into sections. However, the first section is pretty heavy on exposition, so I’ve been editing it down to make it function more as its own work. I was never really big on the idea of writing a trilogy, mainly because I wanted to option to write more novels about the world I created in the future. But in this case, I don’t really have a choice.

My goal is to have this book ready by the end of October at the latest. Fingers crossed!

Calling All Agents!

As I mentioned in my first post, I recently wrote a fantasy novel. I’ve let my sister, mom, aunt, and cousin read it, and they’ve all said it’s pretty good. But of course family has the tendency to sugarcoat things. I needed someone who could be brutally honest. (I’m still looking actually, so if anyone wants to sample a few chapters, let me know!) Anyway, I got in touch with my former creative writing professor, and she recommended that I start looking for agents. That’s my next task in the quest to get published.

My professor recommended that I look at Poets & Writers, a website with resources for (wait for it…) poets and writers. I went to their literary agent database and started hunting. One issue I ran into was that a lot of agents say they are interested in commercial fiction, and when you go to their website, they actually are more interested in literary fiction (There’s a big difference!). I found that, oddly enough, searching for agents who published graphic and illustrated works helped me find the agents who were really serious about fantasy.

After that, I went to Writer’s Digest. This website is great because they have a spotlight for new literary agents. They have this note on that section of the site: “New literary agents are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.” Perfect!

After going to those websites, I picked about seven agents who I thought might be interested in my book. I figured I wouldn’t overwhelm myself with too many agents at this point. I’m just testing the waters, and hoping for some good feedback or even some interest in the complete manuscript. I made sure to do some research about the agencies the agents worked for, and I was sure to copy and paste all submission guidelines into my list. I didn’t want my book to get thrown out because of a submission mistake.

The next step is writing the dreaded query letter (a post about that is coming soon!). I’ve only written query letters for journalism pieces that I didn’t really care about, so this is going to be a brand new experience for me.

My method for finding agents wasn’t all that structured. I’m sure there’s a better way to handle it. Any recommendations?