Monday, January 30, 2012

Pre-Professional Fiction Writers Workshop -- Week 1 Readings

Hello, again.

As I said in the "Overview" email, this week's topics are:

1. Every writer is different.
2. You can make a living writing fiction.
3. This is a business; we need to adjust our attitudes.

We're going to dive right in, then. Below I present the topics again, with relevant links below. You'll find there are Primary readings, and Secondary readings.

Primary readings are those that I think do the best job of communicating the information we need to start having a conversation on the topic. It might not be the most balanced or accurate in terms of the picture it paints, but it'll definitely be the ones we try to talk about at our meetings.

Secondary readings are the "if you want more information" links. These are likely to come up in our discussions (I'm sure I'll reference them without realizing they're secondary), but are by no means required to understand the core of the topic. Sometimes, they present the same information from a different angle or in a different manner, so if you have trouble grasping the ideas or believing what the primary author is saying, then maybe looking at the secondary material will help you.

Again, as I mentioned in the Overview email, the schedule is fluid. If we want to expand our discussions of these initial readings into two or three weeks, that's fine. We'll just see how things go on Monday.

Okay, that's all I'm going to say. Here we go.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pre-Professional Fiction Writers Workshop -- An Overview

Hello, everyone.

Welcome to the PPFWW.

This is a new project I'm putting together for a group of writers here on campus who are getting ready to make the jump from student writer to published writer.

This is an area that I've been doing a LOT of research on lately, and it's my hope that by sharing this research with others and opening it up to discussion, we'll all be able to learn.

It occurred to me while I was working on the outline for this week (and the next few weeks overall) that there's little reason for me to keep all this information to myself. As a result, you get this series of blog posts. Basically, they're going to be the reading packets that I send out to the group each week, provided for your perusal. Lots of good links in here, so hopefully you all can learn something along with us.

If I think there's a particularly useful or exciting discussion at the group's weekly meeting, I might share some insights I gained from it, but otherwise you're going to have provide the discussion for yourselves.

And, with that introduction out of the way, check out the workshop overview after the jump.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Creativity Bred by Pressure

Last night, upon returning to campus, I went straight to the performance portion of Truman's 24-Hour Theater event.

For the uninitiated:

24-hour theater is an event where, predictably, a group of students puts together a production in 24-hours. Four students begin writing a script at 8:00 Friday night, and then they move into production -- rehearsal, set construction, costume and prop construction, etc. -- until performance time at 8:00 Saturday evening.

It's kind of like the NaNoWriMo of putting on theater. Nobody expects it to be award-winning. They just expect it to be done.

Now, many of you know at this point of my professional admiration of Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch (or at least you should). There both a couple of no-nonsense writers who are in it for the long-haul and view writing as a business. Each of them maintains a blog where they regularly discuss the business side of writing in uncompromising terms, from the perspective of full-time writers who've been involved in the business and watching it develop for 30 years.

In other words, these are folks you listen to, even if you disagree with them.

Dean has a remarkable post on writing speed, where he discusses how the creative side of the brain works under pressure and time constraints and such. It's well worth a read, as it's changed the way I approach my writing. Particularly in the day-to-day sense.

Now, if I ever doubted what Dean was saying in that post above (which I did initially, and still sometimes question), I have to say that going to see the 24-hour theater production helped to dispel many of them. It truly is amazing what this group of STUDENT thespians was able to put together in the space of 24-hours.

Sure, it's no Emmy-winning musical or anything. The script was simple (and occasionally redundant), the set was sparse (but effective), and there weren't any exceptionally complicated moments of spectacle. But it worked! It was entertaining, had a neat premise, held to a decent structure, and played well to its venue and audience.

I'm almost certain the writers and other members of the team weren't consciously thinking about all of those elements (and more) as they raced through the production process. But the years and years of storytelling techniques that we pick up subconsciously by reading and watching stories throughout our lives came through in that wild rush to GET IT DONE.

(Just like Dean says.)

So I want to thank everyone involved in 24-hour theater for showing me that last night. It really was a clear example and an impressive reminder that the things I've been learning over the past year and a half are true. And it's encouraged me to continue believing that maybe something worthwhile can actually come out of my continued droning as I tap away at these keys (when I'm not trying so hard, anyway).

And for any of you reading this who are uncertain or embarrassed about the things you write or the way your write or the way it comes out, don't be. See Dean above. See 24-hour theater above. It's never going to be perfect, but if you trust your brain to do its job it has a good chance of still being good.

(Inspiration = fail?)

As for the rest of you...well, I'm not sure what you're doing here, I guess. Maybe you find me entertaining. If so, awesome! I'm glad if I brought a smile to your face.

So, until next time...
-josh k.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Legitimacy Bred by Rejection

Well, I can feel marginally more legitimate now.

Today I received my first rejection letter.

Yeah, personal little confession here. Even though I published on earlier this month, I still don't feel like I've really gotten my work out there. I don't feel all the way official yet.

Now, that'll come in time as I continue the story begun in "Reserved for War," but there's something about that external confirmation of an editor that's been deeply bred in the writer's psyche. While I've chosen to not completely shackle myself to the opinions of a single reader (i.e. an editor), I still hope to develop a positive relationship with the traditional publishing industry.

So, to that end, I've begun submitting my shorter fiction to the online magazines.

My first victim was the Hugo-award-winning Clarke's World Magazine. Competition is stiff there, as they only publish three stories a month. Think I'm crazy for even trying?

Hey, all they can do is say no, right?

I will admit that I chose Clarke's World more for their speedy turnaround (most submissions are read and replied to within the first three days), and I think this worked to my advantage. Rather than building up my hopes and expectations over weeks or months, unsure what to expect, only to ultimately be let down (or not, I guess), this way I was able to eagerly anticipate a reply and then move on.

Intense emotion packed into as small a space of time as possible.

Now I can stop worrying and move on with the writing. I received my first rejection. I am an official, legitimate contender in this journey now.

Just as publishing on Amazon was the first step on a new journey -- one of independent publication -- so this rejection is the first measurable step on a similar, parallel journey -- one of traditional publication.

Both are exciting, and I eagerly anticipate watching my own progress over the coming months and years.

(Hm, last statement = slightly narcissistic? Probably. [Shut up, inner editor.])

Until next time...
-josh k.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The First Steps on the Longest Walk of My Life

"The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
And many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say."
-J.R.R. Tolkien

Well, one journey ends...and another begins.

Today I become a published author. The first episode in my serialized story Paradise Remnants, went live on earlier this morning. You can now buy it for a buck.

Later today, it'll probably go up on By the end of the week, it should be available on And sometime this month, Smashwords will push it out into the rest of the channels. (By the way, Smashwords is the best site to go to if you're a reader outside the U.S. They don't add any kind of fees to the price like Amazon does.)

This is an exciting day, for sure. But it's hardly a stopping point.

Instead, it's almost like the true beginning. Everything leading up to this point is prologue. From here the real story of my journey as a craftsman begins.

Will it be a rough start? A triumph? A slow and steady pace?

I don't know. But I'm ready to see where this new adventure takes me.

And you can bet that I'll be sharing it with you along the way...when I have time.

There's writing to be done, folks!

Until next time...
-Joshua Kehe

Sunday, January 8, 2012

2011 in Review

Seems like everyone's already finished their renditions on this topic. Oh, well. So I'm late to the party (as usual).

I've finally counted up all the fiction I wrote last year and reached my final number in "The Journey to 500K."

It's about 222,000.

Yeah, not quite there.

Does this mean I failed my goal?

No. Not at all. It just means I didn't succeed as much as I had planned. Those words are still a major accomplishment. Some people might even be baffled as to how it's even possible. (Here's a hint: few of them are publishable. For now.)

Regardless of I have or have not come as a writer in this past year, I'm still proud of what my efforts. I didn't finish much, but I made progress in a lot of ways. I started actively working on projects that I've been holding off "until I'm good enough" (seldom a good idea). I learned which of those have potential NOW and which ones simply need to simmer for a little while. I experimented in several different subgenres and practiced a few new forms/styles/perspectives in my writing. I even discovered a few things about how to work more efficiently. (Two things to keep in mind, Josh: 1. Do the writing early. 2. Research doesn't count as writing.)

And now, as I move into the new year, I've find myself farther along than I ever thought I could be, looking ahead at the end of 2010.

I'm writing short fiction. Regularly. And enjoying it. (And, dare I say, growing more skilled at the craft?)

I attended a major convention and spoke to professionals in this field as friends (or at least acquaintances).

I'm learning about the business of writing, publishing, and living the creative life.

I'm on the eve of releasing my first story to the public, launching an ongoing series of episodic fiction.

This is really exciting stuff for me, and I feel like I'm just getting started.

Until next time...
-Joshua Kehe

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Final Story of 2011

In literature, only trouble is interesting.
-Janet Burroway

Although much of my time during the first few days of this new year has been spent in preparation for the release of "Reserved for War" next week, I did finally have some time to sit down this evening and write out an ending for a story I started on New Year's Eve.

For that reason alone, really, I feel like I'm finally done with my writing for 2011.

So, I think it's time to do a bit of a look-back.

I won't be able to do a memorial for the whole year until I get back to my records on Thursday (yeah, I should keep those with me). But I at least wanted to look back on this "Short Story Spree" I started in December.

As predicted, it didn't accomplish nearly as much as I intended it to.

But it was definitely successful.

I wrote five short(er) stories, the beginnings of a sixth, and reworked a seventh over thirty three(ish) days.

I'd call that a success.

In all, it's about 34,304 words of new fiction, plus "Reserved for War," which clocks in at around 6800 words.

So 40,000 words of work in a month.

I'm happy with that.

What's more, there is (I think), a clear trend of improvement throughout all that work. While the first couple of stories were a bit fumbling, they turned out well-enough in the end, and the most recent few stories I've written (two in the past week!) I consider to be competent and engaging members of the form.

(As in, they're actually stories that conclude within their short framework. Wow.)

Really quick, now, let's just run through what I worked on, shall we?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Coming Soon: Published Fiction

Reserved for War, Paradise Remnants Episode 1, will be published January 9th on all major electronic distributors (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Apple, Sony, Kobo, etc.)

Paradise Remnants is a 12-part military science fiction series set in the broken city of New Eden.

Reserved for War will be the first monthly release in this series. Read the blurb below:

"When the government needs to uproot a group of seditious rebels in the heart of their city, there's only one man the commander of the operation will go to in order to ensure the mission's success: a reluctant former soldier with deep regrets about his time in the military.

The mission that follows is the first episode in a tale of friendship, loss, and betrayal that continues in February's release, Provided for Victory, and will conclude with its intense finale December 2012."

Stay tuned for more announcements about this exciting new project.