No, I’m not dead. Yes, I rarely post on this blog. However, don’t concern yourself with whether my lack of inspiration here equates to a lack of inspiration in other aspects of writing.  My habits remain consistent and I’m continuing to fail my way upwards. Hopefully I’ll break the surface one of these days. Dead social media always makes me wonder how that person is doing in real life, and even makes me a little sad sometimes, so I hope this blog of bones doesn’t provoke a similar feeling. Just remember I’m still working hard.

Thanks for checking on me.

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Cover Reveal – THE HEARTBEAT HYPOTHESIS

Part of the joy of being a writer comes from the excitement of watching those around you get book deals and seeing their passion pay off. Times like today are the reason we start writing in the first place!

Today, I come ultra-hyped and ready to reveal my friend Lindsey Frydman’s awesome cover for her new book, THE HEARTBEAT HYPOTHESIS!

Now, what we have here is a Contemporary Romance, and even though those stories aren’t usually my cup of tea, I’ve gotten some insight in what to expect from Lindsey’s new book, and I’ve gotta say I’m excited! And you should be too. But, here’s the bad news: It doesn’t come out until March 20th. D: Sorry guys. CLICK THE AMAZON LINK BELOW AND GET THOSE PREORDERS IN SO YOU CAN READ THIS ASAP. That is all.

lftheheartbeathypothesisbookcover500x750

ABOUT THE HEARTBEAT HYPOTHESIS

Audra Madison simply wanted to walk in the shoes of Emily Cavanaugh, a free-spirited teenager who died too young. After all, Audra wasn’t supposed to be here.

Thanks to Emily, Audra has a second chance at life. She’s doing all the things that seemed impossible just two years ago: Go to college. Date. Stargaze in the Rocky Mountains. Maybe get a tattoo. You know, live.

Jake Cavanaugh, a photographer with mysterious, brooding gray eyes, agrees to help chronicle her newfound experiences. She makes him laugh, one of the only people who can these days. As they delve into each other’s pasts – and secrets – the closer they become.

But she’s guarded and feels like she can’t trust anyone, including herself.

And he’s struggling with the fact that his beloved sister’s heart beats inside her.

THE HEARTBEAT HYPOTHESIS RELEASES MARCH 20, 2017

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PREORDER: Amazon

ABOUT LINDSEY FRYDMAN

Lindsey has been writing since she was nine years old, when she discovered the awesomeness that is Harriet the Spy. Her books always include a romance, though sometimes there’s an added sci-fi or magical realism twist. She lives in Columbus, Ohio (where the weather is never quite right). Her BFA in Photography and Graphic Design has granted her a wide assortment of creative knowledge that serves as inspiration (and not much else). When she’s not crafting YA and NA stories, you’ll likely find her spending waaay too much time on Pinterest, playing a video game, singing show-tunes, or performing in a burlesque show—because she enjoys giving her introversion a worthy adversary. (Plus, it’s the closest to Broadway she’ll ever get.) Lindsey was a proud 2016 Pitch Wars Mentee and thoroughly adores being a part of the wonderful writing community. THE HEARTBEAT HYPOTHESIS is her debut novel.

CONNECT WITH LINDSEY:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Newsletter

Make sure to sign up for Lindsey’s newsletter to get the first sneak peek at THE HEARTBEAT HYPOTHESIS!

My First Fan

Pitch Wars was the first time in my life when a stranger told me they liked the words I put on paper. Even went so far as saying she loved them.

Her name is Judi, and she’s been my mentor since August 24th. Two days before my birthday.

At first, when the winners were announced, I didn’t bother checking who won. I already had the first draft to my next book written, and was ready to start editing once I could finally get Pitch Wars out of my head.

But Judi had other plans.

She emailed me a few hours after the announcement when I’d remained MIA on Twitter. I remember looking at her message, experiencing a feeling I’d only heard about, but didn’t expect to know until much further down the road.

Someone had picked my book off the proverbial bookshelf and loved it. Even sifted through dozens of others, then claimed to the world that my story was for her.

My book had a fan. I’d never had a fan before.

Well, let me rephrase—I’ve had plenty of people in my life who supported me. Friends and family, along with a smattering of others I’ve come to know in the writing community. But if I was some Joe on the street offering my story, would they have still said yes?

For the first time, someone with no obligation to who I was loved the book I’d spent hundreds of hours on. The same book that on one day was rejected by an agent I’d poured all my hope into, making me cry into my steering wheel in the school parking lot when that hope turned crushing.

My first fan wanted to work with me, but she wasn’t just a fan. This was a contest after all, and she was a mentor. This mentor had ideas.

Cue the two-month montage: Between August 24th and November 10th, Judi tasked me with rewriting half the book. Now, why would Judi like my story so much if she wanted to change it? Well, Pitch Wars isn’t about finding the books you’d pick up in Barnes & Noble, it’s about finding the books that someday can be. Over several weeks, I went through my book three times, and Judi read my book three times. How she managed this on top of her other mentees, I have no idea. My brain would have been soup come November. But she did it, and the feedback she gave me was phenomenal.

And here we are in November, on the eve of the Agent Round I’ve worked so hard towards. My book has a shiny new coat, and it’s all thanks to a person who had little to gain when she decided to become a mentor, but so much to give.

Thanks Judi.

Stuck in Mud, or Running in Place

I once met a writer who was working on a novel. She never finished it.

This person when I talked to her was working on the first chapter of a book she planned to write. It had an interesting premise, and she already had the plot outlined. I was really happy to hear about it. I always love talking to people who have passion projects waiting for them at home.

The next time I saw her, she was still working on that first chapter. It had to be just right. Oh. No problem. Just as long as you’re writing, that’s what matters.

The next time I saw her, about six months later, she had decided to scrap her chapter. A whole new idea had come to her, and her chapter no longer had a place with the “improved” version of her novel. She had deleted the whole thing and started over. Back to page one.

A lot of people who start writing tend to overthink. It’s a big hurdle to jump. Thinking, I mean. When people write, they’ll inevitably stop, unsure of where to go next. The beginning suddenly looks like crap (it is a first draft, after all), so they focus on editing instead. A whole lot of trepidation dictates their actions, and they end up so scared of what’ll come next that they never get to find out what happens.

First drafts of any story are special, you see. They’re designed to be especially bad. Many published authors didn’t even know where their story was headed until the very end.

There’s also the outlining option. Outlining before writing can be great, but you can’t let an unfinished outline keep you from writing the thing. If it does, then you’ve missed the entire point of an outline, or of a first draft.

The point is for you to start thinking, after it’s done. That’s it.

Say we have a book. Point A is the beginning and Point Z is the end. Maybe when you start writing, Points A to C are figured out, and you have a fuzzy picture of what Points W-Z will be. Scenario 2 is also an option: You wrote an outline and have Points A, B, J, P, S, and Z figured out. The rest is blank space. It is guaranteed that as you write, you’ll eventually come to a place where you don’t know where to go next.

All you have to do is pick whatever idea is floating around in that brain of yours and see where it takes you.That’s all there is to it. Don’t spend any time sweating over the consequences. Why? Because your book is going to change.

When I wrote my first manuscript, I had Points A and X figured out. The opening scene and the climax. How I would get to the climax, I had no clue. That didn’t matter though. I just decided to write and to see where my spontaneous thoughts would take me. After over a year, every point in my story was mapped out. Those points did not coincide with the ones I had in my story. I had a complete, piece of crap first draft, but the story I really wanted to tell was floating around in my head, fully formed. Now it just needed to go on paper.

So I started to edit. Most of Points A-Z in the first draft weren’t very good, or they contradicted each other. It was time to change them. But most of the abstract creativity was over with. That wouldn’t have happened unless I had written the draft first.

I hope that you understand a first draft’s purpose now. All it’s designed to do is to get you to start thinking. It’s only meant to be a canvas, or a slab of rock. Once you’ve finished Draft One, that’s when you go back to paint, or to sculpt your masterpiece.

Don’t get in the way of yourself. Taking the first step is hard, but flying through those pages when you have no clue where you’re going is even harder. Do not think too much. That’s for Round 2.

Hello Blog, it’s been awhile.

 

There’s a dozen reasons why I haven’t come to visit over the past two years–to dip my pen in those supple, electronic pages of yours–but I’m not going to get into it. It’ll only remind you of the painful loneliness, and it’ll force me to dwell on all of the things I wish I’d done better. Focused harder in high school. Taken more risks. Treaded down the path less taken. Written on my Internet blog more. What’s important is that I’m here now.

 

Maintaining silence on all wavelengths has a curious effect on others. I’ve been writing for a long time, and most of my friends know about my hobby, but when I delete my Facebook and stop posting on my blog, those people think that my life has somehow taken a turn for the worst. That I’ve faded into obscurity where I chose to give up on my dreams.

 

Quite the opposite.

 

The writing’s never stopped on my end. It’s slowed down, it’s sped up, the rejections have broken me down, and the love for new ideas has built me back up. The important thing though is that I’m still writing, and I’m still working to perfect my craft.

 

I woke up yesterday morning to an email from an agent requesting to see my manuscript. Well, the agent’s assistant. After a bit of researching, I found that this assistant assisted the same agent who repped the author of the Divergent Series. I didn’t know this when I sent the original query to her. The realization shot this warm feeling down into the pit of my stomach that followed me around for the rest of the day.

 

Eventually I got the urge for some vicarious living and started looking up information on Veronica Roth, Divergent’s author. Eventually I found her blog. I scrolled all the way to the bottom and found some posts from back in the beginning. Back before the fame and what many unpublished writers think of as Easy Street (Which is bullshit, most likely. Writing never gets easier when you get published, and it’ll always find ways to break your heart. I have yet to reach that point in my writing career, but it’s something I can sense.). Seeing those posts of hers struck me in a funny way. Here was this person, seemingly living the dream, and she was writing about the despair I’ve been going through over the past couple of years while sending query letters out to agents.

 

When I first started this blog, I had certain guidelines for it. Only publish posts with lots of substance. Let it be a reflection of the books I wrote. I never intended to write many blog posts, but I feel like I should change that now, after reading a certain author’s posts about writers’ crises.

 

So, this post is for you. Whoever you are. I hope that this message sinks to the bottom of the website. I want it to become a note in a bottle, sent thousands of miles across the ocean to your very own spot on the beach.

 

Years down the road, if I’ve ever achieved some success doing what I love, you’ll come searching, wondering where I’ve started. And your search will bring you here. Back to the beginning, when I was just a kid hoping that my ideas mattered. Where I despaired and dreamed, just like every other writer. This post is for you.

Changing Your Life? You’re Doing It Wrong

You’re at one of the lowest moments in your life.

It might be when you’re sizing yourself up in the mirror, realizing how much you hate all of that dough beneath your skin. It could be when you discard that withering butt of a cigarette and stare at it on the pavement, realizing that you’ve finally been smoking long enough to be killing yourself. It could be when a guitarist in a music video is doing all of those fancy riffs, and you wish you were just like them.

You’ve made the decision. An epiphany strikes—heat flushes your face, your heart quickens, and the ball begins to roll. You’re going to change your life. Starting today, you’ll be going to the gym like clockwork. No more fast food. Who needs to smoke? Definitely not you. Time to check the Internet for the nearest music teacher.

The next few days are the happiest you’ve been in awhile. You went to the grocery store and bought all the right items. You’ve finally used that gym membership that’s been leaching money out of your bank account for months. You’re cutting down on those nasty habits, or you’ve severed them entirely. After a trip to Guitar Center, the new love of your life is sitting on the backseat in its leather case.

Things go great, and your day-to-day routine becomes flawless. You’ve finally got your shit together, and things are looking up. You’re practicing, or exercising, or avoiding those habits you hate as if they never existed at all.

And then it hits. It’s probably not as dramatic as flying full tilt at the proverbial brick wall. Maybe one day you wake up and realize how hard it is to be consistent in this new lifestyle. Going to the gym everyday takes time—time that doesn’t make you feel quite so happy as it did in the first week, or the first month, and you wish you had something to make you feel good again. For the first time, spending the whole day doing nothing sounds appealing.

And so you do it. It’s been a long time since you’ve been lazy, and you deserve a day away from the routine… and that day off is glorious. It’s reminiscent of those times before you changed your life, but without the guilt—you turn your head away from the alarm you never set, sleeping in instead of rising to go sweat at the gym, and the fast food never tasted so good, and that marathon of Sherlock makes you giddy like a little school girl.

The day is so fantastic that you can’t help but do it the next day. And the next day.

Before you know it, you’re right back where you started. They say old habits die hard, and these ones returned from the grave to reclaim what was theirs.

Do you want to know why this happened? It was because no matter who you are, you can’t change your life in a day. You need to realize that when you have those epiphanies and decide that things are gonna be different around here, that you’re still the same person you were an hour ago.

“Long-term consistency trumps short term intensity.” – Bruce Lee

At the start of my second semester in college, I finished reading a book (for the life of me I can’t remember the title), and I remember afterwards realizing that telling stories seemed kind of fun. I had this scene slowly coming into focus in my head, like a sculptor chipping at a block of marble, about a private investigator treading through the ruins of a hospital, trying to make sense of what at first everyone believed was a terrorist attack. The scene seemed intriguing, and that’s when the epiphany came—excitement surged through me like a tidal wave, and I had to go to the student store to buy a notebook.

So that’s what I did. I bought a notebook, ditched my next class, and ended up writing a fifteen page scene about this investigator. By the time I finished, the creative juices were flowing, and I knew where I wanted to take Richard Quincy the next time I had a chance to write.

The thought of this scene turning into a full length novel occurred to me, but I never took it seriously. All I knew was that I loved reading because I loved stories, and now I felt like it was my turn to tell one. Even as the pages started adding up, from fifty to a hundred to two hundred, and the idea of this becoming a completed novel became more realistic, that accomplishment wasn’t what made me return to my notebook the following day. What made me come back to those lead-stained pages was my desire to continue the story.

The little things were what kept me going—the happiness from completing a scene, or when a new idea for the story struck, or when the characters showed signs of life, and suddenly they were the ones making the decisions, not me. That overshadowed the happiness I knew I would inevitably feel when the entire thing was done.

Weeks went by, then months passed, and after a year and a half, I finished writing the last page of my first draft. I remember that moment sitting in Starbucks, staring at the last sentence halfway down the page of the third notebook I had eventually needed, and that’s when it all became overwhelming. I’d written a book. I’d written a fucking book. For weeks afterwards, I was on Cloud 9.

The work wasn’t anywhere near completed, as the journey of editing had only begun, but I could finally be one of those people who could say they’d written a book.

A year after that, I was done editing. The thing was as finished as I could make it (Nothing’s ever really finished for a writer. I’m sure if I went back and read it again, I’d make an excuse to edit it some more). Want to know what I did the day after? I started page one of the next book. Why? Not because I wanted to be the guy who could say he wrote two books, but because I wanted to write the next scene.

Actually, it wasn’t because I wanted to write the next scene. It was because I needed to. I was no longer a guy writing a book. I was a writer.

I’ve been writing for years, and I’ve spent nearly every one of those days typing away on my computer (turns out typing is faster than literal writing). People always seem baffled over how I can be so diligent and consistent, and I’ve realized something. While I did change my life in a day by going to the student store and buying that notebook, it was the mentality I used that helped keep me going. I didn’t buy that notebook with the intention of writing a book, I bought it because I knew I wanted to be someone who had stories to tell, and I had a scene in my head that I wanted to put down on paper.

This is how you should approach a lifestyle change. While it’s okay to fantasize about the ultimate goal—having an impeccable body, or never craving a cigarette again, or mastering a new instrument—that shouldn’t be your main source of motivation, otherwise you’re setting yourself up for failure. You need to work for that sense of accomplishment you feel after a day at the gym, or for beating your previous record of days without smoking, or for that new chord you just learned on the guitar.

Yes, there will be road bumps. It took me a year and a half to write the first draft of my first book because there were many times I stopped. I struggled with the next scene. I knew in the back of my mind though that I would get back on the workhorse, because I’m a storyteller and I knew I’d get an idea eventually. I never stopped because the idea of finishing an entire book seemed too daunting, and I always started again because I missed those moments when I chipped a little further into that block of marble.

So never do it for the book. Always do it for the next scene.

 

Clay Harmon is a writer in the Central Valley who doesn’t know much about most things, but likes to give his two cents on the few things he does.

“The Measles of Mankind”

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First we tackled sexism with women’s suffrage in the early 20th century. Then came the Civil Rights Movement fifty years later. Currently, we’re battling with some of the country’s homophobia. What will be next? Our next goal should be to eradicate something that is, in my opinion, worse than all of these. Combined.

I’m referring to nationalism.

Merriam-Webster definition:

na·tion·al·ism

noun \ˈnash-nə-ˌli-zəm, ˈna-shə-nə-ˌli-zəm\

: a feeling that people have of being loyal to and proud of their country often with the belief that it is better and more important than other countries

 

It’s the driving force behind anti-immigration laws. It’s the reason why the majority of the country is apathetic towards the world’s problems. It’s why people have an “Us vs. Them” mindset. If you had the ability to help someone who was homeless, but you had to choose between someone in San Fransisco or someone in Central America, who would it be? Most of you would help the man living just down the metaphorical road.

Why?

So much more could be said about this subject. My only goal of writing this is to get people to answer this question of why, and to get them to think. I find nationalism horrifying, and it has inhibited the human race from prospering as a whole. It’s why US citizens choose to remain ignorant about what’s going on in the rest of the world. I’m not just talking about the United States either. I’m talking about any country’s attitude towards those around them.

Instead of being more point specific like I am in previous blog posts, I’d rather open it up for discussion. There’s much I’m implying with what little I’ve written, and I wanted to be vague on purpose. What does nationalism mean to you? Is it more than just an Us vs. Them policy? How has it helped? How has it been a problem?

Write your response in the comments.

 

“Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.” – Albert Einstein