Sunday, December 13, 2009

NaNoWriMo 1 Failure; 7 Successes

NaNoWriMo is over and I failed miserably. Sort of. My students, I am proud to say, succeeded! I had 7 winners, with a cumulative word count around 100,000!! Incredible! I am so proud of them!

I managed over 10,000 words myself, and really like the character, the world, and the story. So, worry not, it will be continued. As well as Hero Games, which I started in the summer and still need to finish.

For now, Merry Christmas, readers!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Yellow Light-Red Light-Green Light!

So, in my last post at the end of the summer, I talked about how life had rather thrown me a yellow light and my writing had slowed considerably. Well, then I started my new job teaching English to 8th graders and that pretty much threw down the red light on my writing... and reading... and pretty much anything that wasn't planning, grading, or sleeping!

Well, NaNoWriMo is here!! I've been able to offer this opportunity to the students at school and I have 13 middle school students competing in the Young Writers' Program of NaNoWriMo, plus me! So, I'm writing, but it isn't Hero Games, since I started that previously.

I'm currently working on a new sci fi called Thassodar Jax: Terra Ranger. It is about an alien living on Earth as a representative of the galactic government, protecting the still undeveloped species on this planet. He's like a forest ranger for the whole planet. Everything's going fine. He's dealing with standard tourists who must visit incognito and with heavily restricted import/export agencies. Then he starts noticing a suspicious trend of missing elderly. Elderly citizens of a protected species are NOT approved for exporting!

It's just rather sad that some of my students are leaving my word count in the dust! My only defense is that they don't have papers to grade!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Quiet Summer

Well, life is busy. If you haven't realized that, let me know when you are scheduled to be born; I'll send you a birthday card. The summer was packed full of kid-time, and I felt guilty even thinking of "stealing" time to write. So summer is now over and kids are back at school, so the writing should be on full steam, right? Wrong.

The kids aren't the only ones back in school. I've accepted a teaching position locally and find myself buried in lesson plans, grading, and professional development, all held together by red tape. Don't get me wrong, though, I love it. My students are awesome. With a little luck, a group of them will be doing NaNoWriMo with me this year!

So the writing is on a slow at the moment. However, I did finish Chapter 2 (see last post) and made some progress into Chapter 3 before the slowdown. More writing soon, I hope!

Just got to figure out what I want to work on for NaNoWriMo!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hero Games

Well, my next writing project is underway and the initial reviews are quite positive. I'm immersed in Chapter 2 of Hero Games and being begged for more to read by my preliminary readers. Quotes from one of them is below.

This is incredible! haha I love it all...great story Jace plz send me more I will not want to wait to see how this story turns out... 10/10! ~Nick

Thus far, midway in chapter two, we've met five different main characters. The novel looks like it may end up with as many as eleven primary characters!! yes, I said ELEVEN! Phew! It's quite a challenge, but I'm really enjoying it. Also, through some playing around on GIMP and the generous help from HeroMachine, I've drawn up a concept cover for this project, and I've only barely started writing it!

Anyways, here's the concept art, and Hero Games has a page of information (not much, I know, but more coming) on my site:

Friday, June 19, 2009


Well, we've already received a response from the Nelson Agency regarding the first 30 pages of On Common Ground and they decided it wasn't right for them. Certainly, I'm disappointed, but not at all despairing, nor derisive! The rejection hasn't changed my opinion of the agency; I still think they are good people. I just have to keep looking.

I wonder, sometimes, if perhaps "rejection" is a poor choice of words for this process. Yes, the process is nominally called submission, because you are throwing yourself to the mercy of the agents and publishers, much like a slave casts his eyes to the floor and silently hopes that he receives a pat on the head instead of a sword to the throat. However, back to the term rejection, in many cases, the agent or editor isn't saying the work is no good, nor even saying they don't want it. They may just already have signed with half a dozen novels about Shapeshifting Teacher-Monkeys Taking Over the School and so, even though my Shapeshifting Teacher-Monkeys are the best ones, they need something different. (Self-note: write a great novel about Shapeshifting Teacher-Monkeys.)

I think a better term might be "Returned." A manuscript can be "Returned with Respect" or "Returned with Love" or "Returned with a Bag of Garbage that Smells Better than this Prose!" Thus we know why it was Returned, or at least the general impression of it, and there isn't the automatically negative connotation of it being rejected.

So, in summation, I say thank you, Kristin and Sara, for being interested enough to request the partial, and thank you for taking the time to read 30 pages that I wrote.

(Let's hope it was Returned with something other than garbage, though they didn't actually specify!)

Thursday, June 11, 2009


So, last week, I sent On Common Ground to The Nelson Agency which publishes a blog called Pub Rants that I follow. This week, I received and email reply from them, requesting the first 30 pages!!

(Yes, I am struggling to contain my hopeful excitement, but don't tell anyone. I'm trying to stay dignified for the kids' sake!)

So, with a little luck, they will decide to help Gabe, Luke, Grace, and crew to find a good home. Cross your fingers!

Friday, June 5, 2009


I've been having fun! This week, through some click-throughs, I discovered a blog that I quickly joined and have been actively participating in. Come In Character, run by BunnyGirl and Mira, is a blog that regularly posts discussions or topics or questions, and the commentors are expected to respond in the voice of one of their characters. So far, Gabe and Nezbit from On Common Ground; Derek Daniels, The Nanite Chaser; and Jeff Turnage from ANTHRO have all posted already and are having a grand time interacting with the other characters, you should totally check it out!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Advice to Young Writers

I just finished a writing project with several classes and I was very pleased to see the length and quality of many of the short stories that were turned in. (Yes, I was also disappointed by the half-page, scrawled before class versions.) Each student was assigned a plotline to write, but told they could, if they chose, write a second story, for a bonus grade, using whatever plot they liked. I had several to choose that option. The Friday they were due, the longest story turned in was 16 pages of good writing. I was thrilled! Then on Monday, another student turned in her bonus story. 35 handwritten pages of bonus story! Wow. On top of the length, the quality is excellent. She's an undiscovered diamond just waiting to shine. Since this is the last week of school, I don't have time to work her as much as I would like, so I wrote her a nice long letter offering some general advice and a few sources for more information. I decided it might be good to have that information here as well, for any of my other students that happen to take the time to check it out. The non personal excerpt from the letter is below:

Most English teachers will be happy to help you with your writing if you can ask a specific question, or even give a general direction for discussion, such as asking about subplots, or how to use a semicolon properly. Unfortunately, they will rarely have time to proof or edit a full manuscript for you. Fortunately, there are some alternatives. First of all, even your friends can read and give feedback for you. They know what they like and don’t like, even if they can’t express why. You just need to know what questions to ask them. Otherwise, they will most likely just say “It’s great.” and that won’t help you hone your skill. Try asking them specific questions like “Did you get lost anywhere?”, “Was there any part where you got bored?” or “Do you believe the characters?” This is called a ‘Wise Reader’ and can be very helpful in getting a good reaction to your work. However, you needn’t create a Wise Reader from scratch if you don’t have one handy.

There are Writers Groups all over the country, and many in the metroplex area that you can be a part of. You would be able to associate and read with established authors as well as hopeful writers. Depending on the genre you want to focus your work in, there is the North Texas Speculative Fiction Writers (you can find them on MySpace: and at or DFW Writers Workshop ( Groups like this may have a small annual membership fee that helps cover their organizational expenses. There are also online sites/groups that are similar to these. One of the biggest (and free) is, which celebrates National Novel Writing Month in November. They have a Young Writers Program you can join if you choose, or go for the big, grownup version! (Either way, don’t forget to look me up if you join NaNoWriMo.) You can also check out and (Sci-Fi Writers of America).

In addition, there are loads of books that you can find in the library on the skill/art/business of writing. I could personally recommend Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft by Janet Burroway, Fiction Writer’s Handbook by Hallie and Whit Burnett, and How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card. There are many more than just those, however. Some high schools have creative writing classes, which you would do quite well in and can be very helpful, depending on the teacher. When you get to college, there will certainly be opportunities for writing classes. While in college, I took two creative writing classes and an Intro to Fiction Writing course. I didn’t manage to take many of the others that were offered, including poetry writing, script writing, and novel writing.

I do want to caution you, however. There are just as many people out there happy to scam writers as there are people happy to help writers. For the most part, you should not have to pay someone for your writing. If you are talking to an agent, and they want you to pay them upfront, get another agent. Agents get their money after they sell your book, not before. Don’t let some scam artist try to tell you differently.

There are some exceptions to the pay upfront thing, though. If you self-publish, you’ll have to pay them to print your book, and then you’ll have to do the marketing for it yourself. So Print-On-Demand publishers are an exception, but be careful, some charge way too much for what they provide. There are workshops and classes that you’d have to pay for, and getting inside a conference of writers, agents, or editors will cost you the price of the ticket at the very least.

There are also many contests and events that pretend to be legitimate but are only out for your money. The best thing to do is check out any event, service, or agency before giving them your money. You can check out evil monsters of the writing world online at places such as Preditors and Editors ( ) and (a watchdog group founded by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America). Both of these sites report scams and keep track of reputable agencies and publishers.

This is just some base-line information to get you started. If you want to talk more about this, or any other part of writing, I’ll be happy to try to help. There’s a Contact Me link on the front page of my website ( that I check frequently, and I promise to respond quickly if you want to send me questions.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Positive Rejection?

Well, Derek Daniels came back with superficially sad news. Writers of the Future didn't want him. Poor fellow; but we'll send him back out again soon with hopes for better luck.

However, there's a silvery lining! When Nixie came back, all we got was the rejection. If I am not mistaken, it was even through email. This time, however, we got the lovely bookmark pictured here to the left and below. One side is printed vertically, the other horizontally.

So, freebies are always a nice consolation for failure rejections. However, even nicer is a message of hope! First, the letter was a form letter, even starting out "Dear Contestant," but in ink, the "Contestant" is marked out and my first name written in! I got individual attention! Then, below, is written the message "Submit Again Soon!" and a signature. This strikes me as a message of hope, something that says I almost made it. Then again, maybe it's a trick to make me feel good so I'll keep submitting to them. I choose to believe the former, but either way, it means they still want me to submit again! Guess I should get writing!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Writing as a God

I started writing novels before I was in high school. The problem with that sentence is, I started, but never finished them. Until now. In April of 2008 I finally finished writing a novel. Now that I’m counting the years, I realize that I spent over half my life, nearly two-thirds, failing to complete novel projects. I spent plenty of time writing. I would reread and rewrite those first few chapters countless times, and then do the same with the next idea that came to mind. They may have gotten better, but they never got finished. What changed is that I realized a couple of things about myself and then acquired a couple of tools to apply to my work. And now I would like to share them with those who might benefit from it.

I recognized that I am an explorer. I want to go see the sights never before seen and discover what lies over that next hill. This is great for keeping an open mind, which I value. However, whatever lies beyond that next hill… hasn’t been written yet. That’s my job. I can’t discover what’s out there, I have to decide what’s out there. When I eagerly wait to see what the character is going to do in the next scene, the story stalls and he never makes it there. If I can’t wait to find out “whodunnit,” then no one did.

In effect, I have realized that in order to succeed, Writers Must Be Gods. We have created a world. We have populated it with animals (or machines). And we have formed people, characters, from the dust of our minds. And if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, you’d better do it in less than 7 days! This sequence of events sound familiar to anyone? We are the one and only god of our creation and it is up to us to write the future. We must decide the End days, and what the signs are that lead up to it.

Every one of my characters gets to the end of the scene, turns around and says “Hey, big guy, what now?” It’s my job to decide on a course of action and give him an answer. I’m not saying I have to have every detail ironed out in advance. (Even if I did, it would probably change along the way.) I am saying that if you don’t know where your story is going, it’ll never get there. It might be a mystery to you at first how Elena, the beautiful seamstress, ends up in love with Timmy the Robot, but you know they’re fated to be together. You may not know how you’re going to kill Jefferson MacGregor, but you know he’s gotta die.

So, realize this. Recognize and revel in the inherent power of being a god. Characters are born, live, die, cry, and celebrate at your whim. The entire world is your playground, and you can do anything you want within it. When you are writing, you have to be a Creator first, and then you can discover the details.

The Once and Future Author

Well, in the fading lamplight of hope for On Common Ground being published with Mundania Press, I remind myself that I have at least been published, once. Then it occurred to me that I started this blog after that publication, so I decided to share it retroactively.

I was honored to be chosen as a guest blogger on about a year ago. I submitted an article called "Writing as a God" and got some nice comments and attention. (Some of them were even from people I'm not related to! Can you believe it?!)

Anyways, since it has been a year, I hope John won't mind me reposting that article here on my own blog. It'll go up in a few minutes.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

"Great News!" said my wife.

She said "It's good news; we are now free to submit On Common Ground to new agents/publishers, because Mundania Press turned it down! OK, granted, it wasn't quite the great news we were hoping to hear from them." And she has a point. Two of them.

Each rejection of a work can/should be viewed as a new opportunity to find it a home with someone who really appreciates it. If an editor or publisher offers a contract, but doesn't really believe in the work, they aren't going to be giving it their best shot while simultaneously tying up its possibilities elsewhere. So, it should soon be venturing out again on missives with the mission of finding its rightful place in the publishing world.

Yes, naturally, I'm a little a disappointed, but I am trying to look at the bright sides: Mundania doesn't pay advances, and many other publishers do. Perhaps, in addition to landing a publishing contract, On Common Ground will also bring home a nice pretty advance check. (Always welcome.) Also, though I don't have any actual issue with the printing format, I'm not quite as fond of the larger-sized paperbacks so now perhaps it'll be in the more common trade paperback style.

However, when you boil it all down, it got rejected and that never feels quite as nice as a chocolate-covered banana split with sprinkles. In the words of one of my 8th grade students, "Well, they're just stupid-heads and they should have bought it!" [Specific terminology changed to protect the less-than-innocent.]

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What Dreams May Come... and go?

Every once in a while I wake up with a story in my head. Played out in a dream and beautifully original and fresh, it's all mapped out and ready to be written, or at the very least, the big ideas are lined up and I can make notes for writing later before I roll back over to sleep.

Samual Taylor Coleridge wrote on this concept regarding the poem "Kubla Khan." He woke from a dream *cough*opium*cough* with a gorgeous poem in his head and started writing, only to be interrupted by a neighbor asking for sugar. This neighbor stayed so long that when Coleridge returned to his writing, the remains of the poem were lost, and thus we only have 54 lines of the amazing epic.

Well, I normally keep a notepad by my bed with a pen or pencil to prevent such losses, but last night it wasn't there or I didn't think about it, or, for whatever reason, I rolled over on a dream for a short story.

It was something about a couple in a large house who had this business of selling dogs. And they were wonderful dogs, about any breed you could think of. Well, they go on vacation and this guy, Elsie (possibly Tovar was his last name?), is asked to watch the house. Turns out they make the dogs magically or something. Shrug, as I said, I lost the rest. The most notable things in my mind now are the image of the office/waiting area where they bring in the dogs to meet the buyers, and the fellow's name, Elsie Tovar(?). Yes, his name was Elsie, but I like it. I may end up using it anyway.

And if I do, you readers will be the only ones to know that Elsie didn't start as whatever he might end up being, but as a babysitter for dogs in a dream.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Redesign and Expansion of Site

Well, the past few days have been a lot of fun and energy poured into retooling the website. I think it looks great, thanks to my web-designer/agent/wife! Not only is there a new look to the site overall, but we've also added a new section of literature, as well as deeper pages of information on certain writings!

The new lit section is Poetry, which currently holds just a few poems, but clicking them will take you to the poem, so there's a little more actual content on the site now, which is nice.
The more exciting part to me, however, is in the novel section! Certain titles are now links, taking you to pages with more information and even character photos/bios! (I'd like to thank the developers of HeroMachine for allowing us to use their technology to help create some of characters shots.) More changes and developments will be coming down the pipe, and I'm very excited about the future of the site.

Just to keep you updated, we've not heard from Asimov's on Derek Daniels, nor Mundania regarding On Common Ground yet.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Coming down the mountain like a fountain...

So, after my last post, we got Derek Daniels: The Nanite Chaser readied and sent off to Asimov's Writers of the Future. Yes, it's true, we sent Nixie there and she came back sad, but we are hoping Derek Daniels finds better fortune.

And, you may be asking, where is all my writing? Why am I not (hmm there isn't a contraction for am not. Interesting. Perhaps "ain't" fills that gap?) blogging on my current writing project? Well, the answer dear readers (yes, I have the vain hope that there is more than one reader to my blog.) is that I have other non-writing projects clouding my plate currently.

I am taking the last two classes to finish my degree and trying to keep all the degree and certification and licensure programs on track so that I can be teaching in the fall. I am also working with two different schools and districts during the week, limiting my "@home" time to evenings and weekends, which is when I am trying to study and do assignments, etc.

And, please, let's not forget. I also have a life! (A second one, certainly, but a life!) And so, all of these things have combined to slow my writing at the moment. However, they have not slowed my imagination, nor the projects themselves. I may not be writing, but the ideas have continued to come, and I have been secretly squirreling away the nuggets and letting them grow and develop and plan until they will eventually blossom into World Domination!! I mean, blossom into wonderful stories that will pour forth from my keyboard like a literary fountain.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

back burners

So, I currently have a ridiculous number of projects on the back burners and nothing boiling on the front. And, of course, I've got two different versions of back burner, too: Finished pieces not in submission and works that need to get finished.

Among those are the novels that have been started, but not finished:
ANTHRO, a novel about a DNA-altering virus.
Wanted: A Few Good Men, a story of hand-picked and created super heroes.

And Novels that have been conceived but not begun, like:
Hero Games, a novel surrounding the Beta testers of a unique full-immersion VR computer game, a MUDD of player-designed super heroes, until they discover just how uniquely realistic the game is!
Metal Heart
, the story of a robot house manager who is in love with his owner.
And an untitled Murdering Werewolf mystery where a detective is trying to find a killer among a world that has accepted and embraced the ostracized mythic and legendary races and creatures of the past, with a few limitations and requirements.

As well as some Short Stories, such as:
Full Moon Rising, a story about a werewolf born to werewolf-hunter parents.
And more from the world of Derek Daniels: The Nanite Chaser

And, of course, there are the projects completed but not currently being submitted anywhere:
Derek Daniels:The Nanite Chaser
Childish Beliefs
As Life Goes By

So, I am confronted by the question of what to do about this. I do have my day job and my studies to consider, as well as getting certified to teach. But neither do I want my writing to subside. So, I guess the question remains, for now, unanswered.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

David Jace hits the web...

Well, here I come into the digital age.

For my first blog post, I'm a little tired and mostly just getting things setup.

Nixie was submitted to Asimov's Writers of the Future contest for the fourth quarter of 2008.
~She lost.

Derek Daniels: The Nanite Chaser was submitted to Fantasy & Science Fiction.
~And got rejected.

On Common Ground was submitted to Mundania Press on Halloween '08.
~And is currently still under consideration, awaiting response.

So, cross your fingers for Gabe, Grace, & Luke!

Hopefully Nixie and Derek Daniels will also soon be once more out there looking for a home.