Archive for May, 2009

Back in the Office

May 29, 2009

Hey everyone. I’m back in the office from NYC. Wednesday’s writers conference was awesome. We had about 450 writers attend and about 70 agents were there to listen to pitches. The morning was filled with breakout sessions, including one by the author of one of the books I’m editing, William Cane of the forthcoming Write Like the Masters, who gave a lecture about developing your writing style by first emulating the great writers from history. The afternoon was full of excitement as attendees participated in the pitch slam where they got face time with agents–I had lots of writers come up to me later saying they’d had requests from the agents to send their full manuscripts! 

Here’s a few photos from NYC (these are from my camera phone, I’ll have more to share with you next week). 

 

The requisite "out my hotel window" NYC pic.

The requisite "out my hotel window" NYC pic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

William Cane encourages attendees to write like the masters.

William Cane encourages attendees to write like the masters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing like Korean BBQ after a long day at a conference.

Nothing like Korean BBQ after a long day at a conference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My esteemed colleague Melissa also enjoys Korean food.

My esteemed colleague Melissa joined in the culinary adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shawn (our national accounts manager) also enjoys tasty Korean style meat products!

Shawn (our national accounts manager) also enjoys tasty Korean style meat products!

Off to NYC

May 25, 2009

So my taekwondo test went well, though it was exhausting. (I’ll post some pics soon). I spent the holiday weekend relaxing, and now I’m bound for NYC for the BEA Writer’s Conference. I’ll be pretty busy while I’m there, so I doubt I’ll have the chance to post anything until I return… but, I’ll come back with a full report. I’m really looking forward to it, and expect to come back with some great things to share. Take care.

Friday…um Thursday Afternoon Excitement

May 21, 2009

So I have a day off tomorrow and it feels like Friday to me. I took a personal day to prepare for my taekwondo test, which is on Saturday! So lots of excitement about that (I’ll try to post some pics). I’m also excited about the long weekend and everything seems to be happening super fast this afternoon. 

WDNovWtg09cpI’m putting the final touches on the articles for the Novel Writing special issue of Writer’s Digest, which comes out in July. I just wrote my editor’s letter and expect to look at the final proof next week! I’m really looking forward to this issue going to print–I think it will be a great resource for any writer (regardless of skill level). Check out the awesome cover my friend Claudean designed.

Also, I’m working hard on a couple of book projects that are getting close to crunch time:

Breaking Into Freelance Illustration by Holly DeWolf– This book is a fun book of business advice for illustrators who are planning to either freelance on the side or start their own illustration business.  The advice could really apply to a range of artistic careers, and is worth a look for any creative type. Due in book stores in September.

The Writing and Critique Group Survival Guide by Becky Levine– This book will be a must-have for writers who are thinking of joining (or starting!) a critique group. It includes advice for giving and receiving constructive critiques, and also lots of advice about how to successfully manage a group. Due out in January 2010.

So yeah. I’m pretty excited this afternoon. I’m looking forward to a lot of great things, including a couple of days to relax over the holiday weekend. In case I don’t post again until Tuesday, I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day.

You Must Be This Tall

May 20, 2009

tallBJ Hollars, author of one of You Must Be This Tall to Ride (a book about creating “coming of age stories”), created a new website youmustbethistalltoride.net

The site is dedicated to promoting the literary “coming of age” story–a passion of the book’s author. The site not only features a sneak peak at the book, but features an online literary magazine showcasing a new story every few weeks. You’ll find submission info on the site as well, so you can send in your own coming of age story! 

It’s a cool site. Check it out.

New WD Conference Announced for September

May 18, 2009

A new conference has just been announce from Writer’s Digest. It covers instruction and advice for getting published. If you’re serious about getting your work out there, you may want to check this out. Here are the details:

The Writer’s Digest Conference:  The Business of Getting Published is designed to guide any author through the new dynamics of today’s publishing world.  This three-day event takes place Friday, September 18, through Sunday, September 20, 2009, at the New York Marriott Marquis, on Times Square in New York.  

With emphasis on platform, networking and social media, The Writer’s Digest Conference is an innovative and ground-breaking conference, featuring the industry’s top forward-thinking speakers, leading sessions on topics relevant to the current and future state of the publishing world.  

Chris Brogan, social media genius, is the keynote speaker.  Other speakers include Kassia Krozser, editor/publisher of BookSquare.com; David Mathison, whose online sales success is the new business model; Mike Shatzkin, the industry’s top publishing consultant, Seth Harwood and Scott Sigler, whose own podcasts and videocasts have made them superstars in the business;  and many more, plus the editors of Writer’s Digest!

Complete program information, including speaker bios, special events related to the conference and registration, is now available at www.writersdigestconference.com 

My 2nd Dan Thesis

May 12, 2009

tigerSo, I thought I might share a bit of my own writing for anyone who is interested. This isn’t fiction, or anything as exciting as that, but it’s something I wrote recently and I figured why not post it. This is my thesis for my upcoming taekwondo test. My wife designed a freaking awesome cover for it. And yes, I am a big nerd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loyalty and Faith

My Continuing Journey in the Martial Arts

By Scott Francis

“There are no limits. There are only plateaus,
and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”

 

—Bruce Lee

 

At a certain point everyone questions the motivation behind their goals—or at least they should. What brought me to this point in my life? And where do I go from here? As I write this essay I’m training for my Second Dan Black Belt test—something that involves a lot of time and commitment. Thinking about the stresses that such training entails makes it natural to reflect upon everything that happened along my path to get here. I think back to when I began studying Tae Kwon Do, and the reasons I started studying martial arts in the first place—a hope to improve my physical stamina, and a yearning to gain some insight into Eastern philosophy. I remember looking ahead to achieving my First Dan Black Belt and thinking that I would feel somehow more enlightened or at least different—something that one of my instructors, Mrs. Knarr, warned about. She called it “the Black Belt Let-down.” She was talking about the expectation that such an achievement would change your life in an instant, like some sort of profound revelation. That, of course, just as she warned, never happened.

Shortly after getting my black belt, a friend of mine from work asked me what I was going to do next. “So are you going to quit now and try something else?” He confessed that he thought that achieving a black belt seemed to him like a goal that one could check off of a list of things to do—sort of a “1000 things to do before you die”—and that if he had done it then he thought he would be ready to move on to something else.

This, and other conversations like it, left me with the realization that I was at a crossroads. My achievement was something to be proud of—something that not everyone can say they’ve done. Should I chalk it up to life experience and search out some other goal to conquer? There would certainly be merit in trying something else new. I could learn to be a metal sculptor perhaps, or take a photography class, or enroll in culinary school. But, what would that mean for my black belt? Would I hang my belt on the wall like a trophy and look at it as something I did once in my life?

 

“Martial Arts should be a way of life, not a job, hobby, sport,

but a part of you and the way you live your life. ”

—Frank Gutting

 

My understanding of what I had accomplished came more through reflection, and realizing that what I had arrived at was not a finish line, but instead a chance to learn even more. I felt grateful for the things that I had learned. I noticed changes in myself: changes in the way I talked to people, changes in the way I approached stressful situations, and changes in my general mood.

My appreciation for the things I’ve learned translates into loyalty to the tenets of the martial arts—and this means sticking with it despite difficulties, or times of doubt. Training in the martial arts requires dedication to a set of ideals. Making a commitment to devote a large amount of one’s time to the pursuit of a goal is rarely an easy thing to do. It’s human nature to procrastinate, rationalize or choose an easier path. To continue in the martial arts means believing in the teachings, believing in one’s school and believing in one’s teachers. This belief is faith—faith that the skills learned are worth all of the effort and time spent; faith that one’s school and teachers are providing good instruction and advice that is of value.

For me, the decision to continue studying the martial arts was based on more than just a desire to learn more and improve the proficiency of my techniques. I found myself thinking about how much Cincinnati Taekwondo Center has given me. I’ve grown in so many ways—both expected and unexpected—and have learned a lot about myself. Contemplating all of the ways in which I have benefited from martial arts makes me feel grateful for the guidance and fellowship I’ve found at our school. I found myself wanting more and more to try to give back whenever possible by volunteering or teaching. I feel a sense of loyalty to the school and the teachers and fellow students who have so generously shared their insights with me. I hope that I can use my own talents to contribute to the school and further the education of others.

The traditions of martial arts are steeped in principles and hierarchies that to the outsider may seem rigid, or even strict. But the framework that such tradition provides allows students to learn not only techniques, but also important philosophies and concepts that will change their approach to many aspects of their lives. One such tradition is the way that martial arts teachings are passed from teacher to student—a tradition that implies that a serious student of the martial arts should also consider themselves a teacher to newer students. Continued study in the arts means a commitment to helping fellow students and passing on things that one has learned. This way of practicing the art (applying it to your daily life) and openly sharing what you have learned with others who also want to learn is a way of honoring the art, and the school. In this way loyalty to one’s teachers and school furthers the art—by either passing the knowledge on to other students, inspiring others, or by demonstrating the teachings and values the school upholds to the community.

A thought that kept occurring to me during the last few months of training for my first dan black belt test was a fear that I wasn’t really ready—that I was somehow a phony and that my physical prowess would never reach the level of someone fit to be called a black belt. In the years that have followed I have come to realize that while improving and measuring your physical abilities is indeed important as a martial artist, it is not the most important thing. The important thing is faith—believing in yourself. By believing in the techniques and having faith that you can indeed learn them, then you can eventually accomplish any goal. The ability to visualize yourself accomplishing a difficult task is a large step toward being able to do it. If you can see yourself doing something, believe that it is indeed possible, and have faith in your instructors and the help from your peers then you will in time accomplish your goal.

I am committed to making it to second dan for several reasons. I believe the teachings and life lessons I have learned through the martial arts to be worthwhile and have faith that there is much more to learn. I am grateful to a school—to teachers, fellow students, and friends—who have in many ways helped to make me a better person and have improved my life. I have faith in the skills I have learned and in the experience of the instructors who have shown me the way, and believe that investing my time in these endeavors will continue to enrich my life. I believe that loyalty to the ideals of the martial arts means that I should find a way to contribute to spreading the knowledge and the principles that I have learned. I believe that somewhere within my own talents I can find ways to help others achieve their own goals.

So where will I go from here? Once I have achieved my current goal what will I do? I believe martial arts is much more than a pastime, but instead a way of life. I’m unsure what my next goal will be—should I endeavor to reach third dan; should I focus on a different art, Hapkido perhaps; should I focus on becoming a better teacher—I’ll see where opportunity takes me. I do know that I will continue to practice, strive to learn more, help others whenever I can, and simply always try to be a better person. I am loyal to these ideals, and I have faith that I will always endeavor to walk the path of a martial artist.

Loyalty and Faith

May 8, 2009

So my test for 2nd degree black belt is a couple of weeks away, so I’ve been getting philosophical as I have been meditating, reflecting on my studies and working on my thesis. My thesis is about loyalty and faith–loyalty to my school and it’s teachings and faith in my instructors and fellow students who have helped me along the way. 

I wanted to share this topic with writers who may be reading this blog and I hope that you may find something that inspires you. 

To be serious about writing you need a great deal of discipline. In this way it is not unlike the martial arts. Your style of writing, your methods may all vary, but the writing itself has to be done. You have to discipline yourself to sit down and do the work–every day if possible. There are plenty of successes (encouraging feedback from a writing group) and failures (rejection letters) along the way. Many times the failures can outweigh the successes. And this is where loyalty comes in. 

If you are loyal to something that means you are dedicated to it. If you are loyal to the idea of being a writer then that requires that you stick with it through the difficult times. You can’t give up when you receive a piece of criticism or a straightforward rejection. To be successful you have to stick it out.

Beginners and seasoned writers alike face rejection, and will likely continue to face it in some form or another throughout their careers. It’s part of the territory. But if you love to write and want to be published then you have to roll with the punches (cliche, yes, but also true).

Have faith in yourself. And if you have critique partners, have faith in them. Don’t be afraid to try rewriting something in a different way based on some advice you get (save the original version if you’re feeling reluctant, but take the leap… you’ll likely be surprised that you like your new version better).

Most importantly don’t give up. If you fall off, get back on again. Keep writing.

Head down and reading

May 8, 2009

Sorry for the lapse in postings. I’ve been in reading mode lately and am in the thick of a couple of editing projects. But, I thought maybe an update on everything I’m working on might be overdue, so here goes:

  • I’m editing the Writer’s Digest Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card, Terry Brooks, and the editors of Writer’s Digest–this book is due out in Spring 2010, and will be a great resource for sci-fi/fantasy writers. I’m really enjoying reading this one… it’s full of great reference material including everything from the theories behind speed-of-light space travel to details about magic and pagan rituals. It’s a great resource if you write speculative fiction, plus it’s just a fascinating read.
  • I’m also reading an early draft of a book about “showing and telling” by Laurie Alberts (see my previous post). This is due out in Spring ’10 as well. This is a great subject for writers to learn more about–everyone hears advice like “show don’t tell” but it’s important to know when to do one or the other for true balanced writing.
  • I’m working on pulling together the final pieces for my Novel Writing special issue of Writer’s Digest. I’m really looking forward to this… I think it’s going to be a great starting point for anyone writing a novel (beginners and novelists who are writing their next book alike).

More news to come as I get further along on these and other projects. Keep writing!