This Writer’s Life In October 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update, so I figure it’s about time. I’ve been busy lately. I just finished a new book, a beautiful ghostly story about two sisters. I’m not planning to self-publish this one, but am hoping to find an agent or a press that will pick it up, which is a bit different for me.

Since I’ve now finished two literary projects, I’m taking a break by moving back into the comfortable world of Avalum. Artifacts of Avalum Book 3, The Chain, is moving along nicely and I plan to have a good draft done before NaNoWriMo begins in November, when I hope to write something new. Here’s a picture of the cover art for the The Chain, I just love it. As always, it was done by Leah Keeler.

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Other than writing, I’ve been working on being more environmentally responsible. I’m trying to switch to using only reusable coffee cups. While to-go cups are convenient, they create a lot of waste. I imagine there will be the occasion where I need to use a disposable cup, but I’m definitely trying to reuse where I can. Here are a couple pictures of some of my favorite travel cups.

I’ve been using these mugs to enjoy way too many pumpkin spice lattes, but it’s good to enjoy fall while it’s here,  because in Saskatchewan, it’s just way too short.

JEH

A Writer’s Summer 2018 in Review

It was a busy and fantastic summer! As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I went to the ocean for a fabulous vacation and had a great time. Even though I was on vacation, I was hoping to get some writing done (a writer’s job is never done, is that right?), but I actually didn’t do much work at all and it felt nice.

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Now that my full-time writing life is at an end for now (I was back to the day job July 9th), there is a bit too much work in my life. I’m still working away on a bunch of projects, which I will blog about later this week, so most days it feels like I’m working two jobs (8-5 Monday to Friday, and Wednesday evenings and Saturday or Sunday mornings on writing, plus whatever other time I can fit in). I’m also trying to get back to the gym, so we’ll see how that goes!

But back to vacation. I’m still in that half-place where vacation feels like it was something you actually did, not just dreamed, and I definitely wish I was still sitting ocean side. I hit up some new cafes, drove over 3,000 km, through prairie and mountain, rivers, lakes, and ocean (okay, we took the ferry over the ocean). As a writer, it was great to experience all of that, and not just take the airplane shortcut.

I had some adventures, I even found what could vaguely possibly be a large black pearl on the rocks. What do you think?

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One of my favorite things about this trip (other than spending precious time with my family), was that I got to revisit Nessa, my hero from the Black Depths Series, and take the same ferry she does when she starts her journey in Sea-Witch. I had to take a copy of the book along with me, just so I could get Nessa’s photo on the boat. Here it is:

I think she looks fantastic there! I love the Black Depths World, and maybe one day I will write a second series that takes place in it (I have an idea, just no time). For now, here are a few more pictures from my vacation.

I hope you had a great summer!

JEH

Life as a Full-Time Writer: The End of an Era

Well, I’m sad to say that my days of sitting in my basement all alone and writing stories has come to an end. Or am I? I had a wonderful four months working from home on a collection of literary short stories, thanks to the wonderful Saskatchewan Arts Board, who awarded me a grant. If it wasn’t for people who support the arts, I never would have  got this time, which means I never would have developed fantastic new stories to share with you and the world.

But good times can’t last forever. At least not until I get enough sales to replace my annual salary (which is a pretty good size). And part of me missed my day job. I missed having coworkers to visit with, I missed my afternoon walks around the pond and through the garden, somedays I even missed the cafeteria.

But, I’m pretty sure I will miss the writing life more. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and by that, I mean I’ve always wanted to spend eight hours a day coming up with characters and stories and events, and thinking about ‘what ifs’ ‘and thens’ and ‘maybe’. I’ve never dreamed that writing would be less work than this, and after my four months off, I know it’s not. In fact, it’s often more than eight hours a day because once I could immerse myself in writing full-time, the thinking rarely stopped. My mind was free to roam, and I didn’t have to force it to concentrate on contracts and applications and coworking. It was wonderful.

It seems (from all the internet articles about it), that being able to afford being a full-time writer is a more and more difficult thing. Whether it’s due to the abundance of free articles and stories on the web, changing media (to television, to film, to Twitter), I can’t say. And maybe it has always been difficult to make a living from art. Maybe it’s always been that a couple of people are lucky and the rest of us are relatively unknown. All I do know is that I have my plan to write, whether it’s on the weekend or late in the evening, I will always be writing, because I love it. Not because I hope to become rich and famous, but because I love to think, I love to think about our world and what powers humans, and I love to think about possible other worlds, other realities, and other possibilities. A writer is just what I am.

Now that I’ve finished up a couple major projects, I’m moving on to the next step in the process, which is shopping those projects around and trying to find them a home. Meanwhile, it is also Camp NaNoWriMo, so I’ve also returned back to writing genre fiction, which is a nice break from the literary, though-provoking work I was doing (Not that my genre fiction isn’t somewhat though provoking—at least, I hope it is). To that end, stay  in touch for updates regarding upcoming presentations and publications, or because otherwise I’ll miss you.

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Cheers to work well done!

Thanks for reading!
JEH

The Circlet Is Here!

Hello All!

Today is one of those great days when I get to release a new book into the world. The Circlet is now up on Amazon and Smashwords, and should be up on the other retailers shortly, though, as always, they lag a bit behind. Download, enjoy, share!

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Thank you for your support!

JEH

Writing for Teens: How to Keep it Real

A short essay on writing for teens, and how I keep my fiction real.

I’ve written a lot of Young Adult fiction, sure, it’s not as much as some people have written, but it’s enough that I’ve learned what to look for when crafting a young adult novel. Now that I’m in my thirties, high school feels distant and trivial. Did I really get that upset when my best friend didn’t invite me to a party? Things that upset me then, wouldn’t upset me now. The trick is remember how I acted in my teen years, and not force my adult learning on my characters.

The above mentioned party happened sometime in my senior year of high school. When I found out about the party late that night, or possibly the next day, I was in tears. Did my best friend at the time (we aren’t friends anymore, unless Facebook counts), mean to hurt my feelings? Probably not. She probably just wanted a break from me, wanted to have fun with someone else, or thought it wasn’t my thing. I don’t believe she was vindictive (she seems like she’s a nice person overall). But I do believe that she didn’t have the words to express why I wasn’t invited, or why she lied instead of telling me the truth.

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Thinking back on my teen years, and about the teens in my life now, it is very common at that age to ‘read too much into things’. By the time adulthood rolls around, most people have stopped taking every look and every word dished out personally. We’ve begun to accept our differences, our path, and our identity. But this is something teenagers struggle with.

One of the ways I stay in touch with my teen self is by keeping my teenage diaries and occasionally, when I feel strong enough, by reading the terrible, painful entries: here’s an example.

“I finally talked to Red. I don’t know how it is. We’re talking tomorrow after school. That’ll be hard. It was hard enough on the phone. I think she was crying. I’m not sure. I almost felt like it. But I don’t cry. It’s too hard. I almost said, “I can’t stand Blue”, when she said she couldn’t stand Green, but I couldn’t. This is hard. I mean, we have a circle. We work together and I told her we shouldn’t. That was hard. I don’t know what to say. Tomorrow we have to talk and I have to tell her my happenings and feelings….”

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See, everything is hard when you’re a teen. So hard in fact that I reused that word five times in that one short paragraph. And this was just about having a simple conversation with the friend about why she didn’t invite me to a party! Nowadays, I’d just go up to my friend and be like, Yo, You didn’t invite me b-! And my friend would either apologize and offer a reason that may or may not make sense, or we’d just laugh about it and move on. It wouldn’t be as difficult for me now that I’m older.

What about you? Did simple things seem more difficult for you when you were a teenager?

JEH

Trying to Commit to a Publishing Schedule

One of the hardest things about self-publishing (at least for me), is committing to a publishing schedule. I’m terrible at picking release dates for my books and achieving that date. Having a day job never helps, since something always comes up that slows down book development, but as I’m currently a full-time writer until July, I’m hoping I can make some big goals and stick to them. It’s been lovely going to cafés and drinking tea, and getting so much work done on projects that I love.

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In the works right now I have The Circlet: Artifacts of Avalum Book 2, which is off with my beta readers. After I get their comments, it will be another round of edits before sending the book to my editor. I’m hoping to have The Circlet released in May.

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This week I finally found the time to compile the Black Depths Boxed Set for the complete series. I whipped together an ebook cover and compiled all the books into one gigantic read. It’s live on Amazon, Kobo, and Smashwords right now, and should be up on iBooks and Nook soon. If you like to read everything all in one go (or no someone who does), be sure to spread the word.

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I’m slowly picking away at The Chain: Artifacts of Avalum Book 3, and hope to release that in the fall, with a box set of that series to follow after a couple months. There are two books I wrote years ago that I’m planning to clean up, one of which I will release as a one off and the other that I hope to shop around to a small, literary press. Both of those should be complete by May.

What I’m trying to figure out now, is what story idea should I pursue next? I love self-publishing, and I want to write a series that is similar to both Black Depths and Artifacts of Avalum. I would like to get the outlining for this series done before I head back to my day job in July, but, as I’m also working on my short story collection, I’m not sure how much time I will have.

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But, here’s a chance for you to vote. My main debate right now is whether I should write another “Port-hole” fantasy, which means the characters start in this world and travel to a different, fantastical world, (similar to Artifacts), or whether I should write a 100% fantasy, where Earth does not exist (or at least the characters in the book don’t know about Earth, because they have magic, not space travel). Do you prefer fantasy that is connected to our world, or not? Let me know in the comments!

JEH