WEBSITE GOING DOWN

I’m thrilled to announce that my website will BE DOWN SOON because… *drumroll* thanks to other writer friends, I’ve found someone to help me do some re-vamping.

 

I’m so excited! Anyone interested in pre-ordering the hardback (mid-November!!) can still email me directly at jess@fiveelementspress.com OR jessowen.writer@gmail.com .
Stay in touch over at the Facebook page!

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Suffer a Little; and, Printing Update

Happy Saturday!
As it grows colder and I continue riding my bike to work, my fingers freezing to the handlebars, I think how vital it is for a writer to experience things to give credibility to their writing. I’m not saying you have to commit a crime and get arrested, or actually hike a mountain and get lost. Many writers do write from life experience (such as, being trapped on a mountainside in winter), but most of those writers are crazy.

 

Not really. But let’s be honest. Most of us imagine wild scenarios, research, read, watch movies, conduct interviews and fling our imaginations to the wind to think what it would be like to experience being trapped on a mountainside, or being a criminal. But a teaspoon of personal experience can make the writing more realistic.

If you’re writing a criminal, or an average Joe who slowly becomes a criminal, I’m not suggesting you shoplift. But the next time you’re in a store, work your imagination. Pick up something expensive and pretend (I stress pretend) that you are going to steal it. Are your armpits getting damp? Mine would. Do you shake a little? What is your reaction to the thought of committing a crime? That’s valid experience.  You might experience something completely different than you had imagined, and that’s the spice of writing.

Humans can survive incredibly harsh conditions, even for a small amount of time. So I consider letting yourself get a little cold (or hot!) is not going to kill you, and from that unpleasant experience, you can become a stronger sensory writer.

I write stories from an animal point of view. It is vital that I spend time outdoors in all weather conditions. I’m lucky to live in an area where I can swim in lakes, crawl through scrubby creek beds and grassy mountain slopes and otherwise get a dash of experience in the environment I hope to write, from the point of view of a creature who might live there. I can taste the changing season, and sense when the nights are cold enough for leaves to turn.

So let yourself get a little chilled the next time you take a walk, and then when your character is trapped out in the freezing night, you’ll have a taste of the experience from which to draw inspiration and credibility. Let that agonizing itch dig into your shoulder for a moment longer than is comfortable, so that you have a speck of an idea of torture (for you horror writers). Let the fly muck around on your wrist and tickle for an extra moment. Remember what it’s like to have the wind slashing your hair into your eyes when the car window is down. Drive with the air conditioner off for a few minutes. Don’t turn on the heat right away. Suffer a little. In a Zen way, you might also notice that minor annoyances don’t bother you as much.

Verily I say unto you, if you have experience as small as a pebble, from this you will write mountains.

 

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To the experienced sensory writer, this experience, after several cups of coffee and an hour at the desk, easily transforms into…

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This!

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Printing update, for those waiting on their books: Because my book length was a few pages longer than anticipated (adding a cool map, acknowledgements, etc) they had to add an extra “signature” and confirm paper and spine width and adjusted pricing with me.

I’ll let every know when the books are on the press and when they’re on their way to me!
Sincere thanks for your patience. Kickstart backers and pre-orders have my TOP priority!

-Jess


What Brings You Home

As writers we must notice things that others don’t, so that we can use it later in our fiction/poetry/political satire/what-have-you. We subconsciously train ourselves over a lifetime of deliberate observation to make meaning out of small events, where others might simply say, “Oh. Yeah. That happened.”

But it’s vital to notice these things so that we can infuse our writing with these things so that others, too, will slow down and find meaning where otherwise would be a simple event.

I, for instance, happened to keenly notice the sound of my bike tire hitting the gravel of the parking lot in back of the row of townhouses where Dax and I live. For the first few times I rode my bike to and fro, I didn’t notice anything beyond the grind of gravel meaning, “Ah, I am approximately ten seconds away from my own hearth.”

I realize now that sound has an unconsciously calming effect on me, because the crunch of gravel under tires has always meant that I’m close to home.

In Albuquerque when I was but a wee sprite, the sound of my tricycle in the back alley rolling over small pebbles meant I just had to turn the corner to be in my own front yard. On the ranch in Texas the car tires rolled over a quarter mile-long driveway of dust and gravel and rock before coming to rest in front of our fifty year old white brick home. I gave directions thusly, “Drive until the pavement ends, and turn left at the corner of Western and Givens.”  Or as Mom would say, “Your front tires will be on gravel, and your back tires on asphalt. That’s us.”

Even in Montana, the asphalt at Mom and Dad’s house ended at our driveway, which was a good two inches below the rest of the road. So on my way home from downtown, work, or wherever else I rode or drove, the bump of my tires and the mutter of gravel meant I was home.

Now, it still does, and that has meaning to me.

What are the sounds that bring you home?


Radio Interview and Other Appearances

I should probably update this with exciting events 😀

I had a fantastic interview with Ross Strauser of Big Valley Radio in the Flathead Valley, Montana, which you can listen to here! (Warning: Link leads directly to streaming radio). And Ross, Sue and I got to chatting about some possible exciting things for the future of Summer King…

Also, tonight I’m speaking about Kickstarter to Authors of the Flathead in Kalispell, Montana. I hope I don’t say “uhhh” too much. I’ll let you know how it goes 😀

 

That’s about the extent of the excitement for now!


Running Wild on a Purple Unicorn

I did a little Facebook post on finding several bins of old drawings and watching my own imagination run wild. I see some artists maintain their wild imaginations, and some get locked into putting too much “reality” into fantasy works. A famous comic book artist who I absolutely ADORE and respect is even guilty of this. When asked to draw werewolves, he was so locked into the reality of what size the ears should be that he thought the people who wanted the wolves drawn a certain way were stupid, ignorant troglodytes.
Of course I respect the natural world. Of course I think we as artists should consider what would be “realistic” so that our fantasy worlds feel rich and real . . . but not at the risk of enjoying all the crazy things we can come up with.

When I was young I would pretty much storyboard whole novels with intricate drawings, rather than writing them out (started writing furiously when I was about sixteen). I’ve found whole series of drawings that are obviously from the same storyline.

…I wonder if Mom and Dad were ever concerned about the inner workings of my brain.

But anyway, to help everyone else loosen up their own sense of fun…

I’d like to offer you a slice of my thirteen year old brain.

PLEASE click on each image for a full description and mildly amusing commentary.

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An Oldie but Goodie.

Just a quickie weekend first-of-September post. Originally published in 1997, THE FOUR AGREEMENTS, by Miguel Ruiz, is a refresher on a very simple (not Easy, mind you, but simple) code of personal behavior. Here it is in a pretty nutshell:

 

I’m not sure who put together this image but thanks! If anyone knows, I’ll put credit here.


The Number One Key to Selling Books

In all the excitement and bustle of indie publishing and traditional publishing and blog tours and Likes and Tweets and Tumbles Reddits and Pins and pics and promotion oh my … we musn’t forget the first and most important element that will always, always sell books.  And I’m pretty sure I know what it is.Skeptics may disagree. Jaded artists and writers who have faced rejection may say no! you’re not correct.
But I promise it’s correct. The first, and, in the end, the most important element to selling books is the same as it has ever been.

And it is this:

You must write good books.

“But I wrote a good book and it was rejected!”

“But what about 50 Shades???”

“But traditional publishers don’t know good books anymore and readers like cheap easy trash!”

And here’s the part that people forget . . . “good” means different things to different people.  My husband used to rail against the Twilight saga until I pointed out to him that he is not, in fact, the target audience. I write about gryfons and wolves going on epic adventures, coming-of-age dilemmas, and sometimes eating fish. Some people think it’s great. Some people would think it’s ridiculous.

I would never read 50 Shades because it’s Not My Thing.

It doesn’t matter if a book is written badly or has strange subject matter or doesn’t appeal to a traditional audience (whatever that is.) It really doesn’t. As long it doesn’t bore the reader, most readers will forgive anything. I still have five star ratings from people who found typos in a book they paid for (bless your hearts.)  There are some very strange books out there, and they sell.  Why? They wrote good books. Argue all you want, but my philosophy is this:

Someone wanted to write it.  Which means someone, somewhere out there, wants to read it.

I guarantee it.

So write your book.

Make it a good book. Find the people who want to read it.

And you will sell it.  Every time.