Becoming a Juggernaut of Faith

Howdy word Olympians! I'm competing in the coffee drinking and "most deletions of the word 'it'" duathlon this week. I'm thinking I'm a shoe-in for Gold... What are you competing in? :)


The debut of the New Adult Lit chat last week can only be summed up as a massive freaking success. We had lots of smart authors and passionate readers chiming in the entire hour (and then some). You can read a transcript of the chat HERE, which will give you an idea of the types of things we chatted about.

And we don't just chat NA. We had tons of discussion on the finer points of YA, and what distinguishes NA from it. As such, this week's chat will be a nice carryover: WHY IS NA NOT YA OR ADULT? The chat will be at the same time/place: This Thursday, August 2, 9 PM EST on the Twitters. I'll be joined this week by author Victoria Smith of the NA Alley Blog. (Be sure to check 'em out if you haven't already. Fun group of ladies!)

A MASSIVE THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO HELPED PROMOTE THE CHAT!! Seriously, this thing was so hot we were actually trending on Twitter Thursday night. That only happened because so many of you Tweeted and blogged about it before hand. It helped so much, and any help you give in getting the word out for future chats is also mucho appreciated. Really hope you can join in, too.


My last few posts have centered around the writing journey, and what it means (to me) being on the threshold of something (publication) I've struggled with for a very long time. I talked about the nervousness in wading through the final wave of editorial revisions. Then, I discussed the transformation in mindset, writing, etc. that had to happen for me to get where I wanted to go (here).

Yesterday, I was treated to a near-final version of my very first book cover. Had my name on it and everything! :) Not bragging, but it's beyond flippin' sweet. I'll definitely be sharing tons more on that in future posts, as well as tell you all about the cover artist I'm working with. She is ridiculously talented, and just as sweet as honey.

But for today, I'm going to continue with the theme of why and how we put ourselves through all of this. Mostly because seeing that cover has me convinced, more than ever, that I'm doing the right thing. Writing is what I love to do, it's what I need to do. I haven't wasted my time, not a second of it, and you haven't either.

But to see the payoff, you're going to need an unstoppable faith.


There's this character in the X Men comic book series named the Juggernaut. He's a real baddy. Basically, he finds this ruby-gem-thing (with a rich, nugget filled evil mystical-being center no less) that possesses him, giving him superpowers. As his name suggests, he becomes unstoppable.

Physically speaking, he's completely indestructible. The Juggernaut can run through walls, walk through fire, repel explosions, and fall off of a building and never get a scratch. On top of all that, the gem made him a giant, hulking man with super-strength--he throws cars around like they're toilette paper rolls or something. AND he's got a nasty streak two-miles wide.

Now, as you can imagine, this is one tough opponent. You can't beat him up. You can't slow him down. Essentially, you just have to get out of his way. But, in true comic book fashion, he does have a single, glaring vulnerability. His mind.


When you aspire to write professionally, there are many things that will build your resolve, and twice as many to strip it away. Seemingly, for every line of encouragement left on your blog, you'll get an entire letter full of rejection. For every paragraph of right, there'll be pages of wrong. After years of practicing the craft, when you think you've figured out what and how you should be writing, you'll read something that confirms you still have no clue.

To anyone on the outside looking in, I'm sure that all seems daunting and depressing. But to a writer, it's just what happens between breakfast and lunch everyday. A writer has to embrace failure. We have to breath it into our lungs, cough it out, and breath it back in. Why? It teaches us to have faith in the process, in our abilities.

I equate it to the tear gas training they do in the military. In basic training they shuffle everyone into a room filled with tear gas. When you enter, you're wearing your gas gear (mask-ventilator, etc.), then, on command you remove your gas gear. You stay in the room for a short period, exposed to the gas, and then you're allowed to leave.

Sounds horrible, right? It is! Your eyes burn. Your throat burns. Snot and tears leave your body in rivers. So why do it then? It's the military, so they're probably just trying to toughen people up. Nope. Then they want expose you to the gas so it doesn't freak you out if you ever encounter it in combat. That's not really the point, either. They want you to trust your gear.

There's no way to fake exposure to tear gas. If you've ever been in it, or around it, you'll know it. By keeping their gear on, and then removing it, the soldiers are very aware of how that gear protects and insulates their bodies. So, if the time should come in battle when they're asked to don their gas gear and charge into a cloud of toxicity, they'll do it without fear. They'll have faith in the process, in their equipment, and just do what needs to be done.


The Juggernaut is very aware of his only weakness. He wears this special helmet to protect his noggin. Not that he's worried about a concussion or anything, as his head is just as indestructible as the rest of his body. No, he realizes that the X Men have a couple of telepaths on hand, and his mind is vulnerable. His helmet keeps them out of his head.

Ultimately, he's always defeated in the same way: Someone strips him of his helmet, others slow him down (never completely stopping him, mind you), and a telepath turns out the lights.

I'm suggesting, to get where we want to be as writers, our desire to succeed has to be unstoppable, like the Juggernaut. I even think we share his one weakness. Our minds are vulnerable, so we must put on our helmet, our faith, to protect it.

We just have to be cautious about where we place that faith.

We can't put our faith in industry changes and fads. Those things come and go. We can't put our faith strictly in the advice of publishing professionals. They aren't always right, and their perspectives and goals will never be 100% your own. Similarly, we shouldn't put too much of our faith in other writers. We all have our own unique journey, and what works for one, doesn't necessarily work for all.

What we need to put our faith in, is ourselves. To get remotely close to "doing this", I've learned that it takes an incredible belief that I'm doing the right thing. That I'm eventually going to figure it out. That I can push myself beyond anything I've seen, or done, before. And that I can do it time and time again.

There have been so many times in the past 4 years I've thought I'll never see my name on the cover of a book. I'll never write anything anyone else will want to read, much less pay for. I'll never get the opportunity to see a story in print, because I'll never get an agent. 

A belief that I COULD do this--if I worked hard enough, if I wanted it bad enough, if I sacrificed enough--is sometimes all I had. I think I'm realizing that faith is mostly all I ever needed.


Authors, Transform and Rollout

Howdy gang! I'd like to start this post by saying how much I really appreciated all of the words of encouragement left on my last post. Had some old, and very dear, blogging friends pop in to say, "atta boy"regarding my quasi-publishing announcement. 

I promised more specific details in the future, and there will be, but for now I'd like to talk about how I got to this point. I'd also like to discuss the transformation that, I believe, all authors go through. (The point of this post.) BUT FIRST ...


The inaugural New Adult Twitter chat is this week! If you follow me on Twitter, you're probably sick of hearing about it. I've also mentioned it on this blog a couple of times. But just incase you aren't up to date, I'll give it a final shout-out here.

Basically, I'm teaming up with the wonderful ladies over at the NA Alley Blog (click to check them out, they rock) to facilitate a weekly Twitter discussion of New Adult literature. This week's topic is: The 5 W's of NA - What it is, who writes it, where it gets published, when it takes place in life, and why it's important.

So if you've ever wanted to know what NA is all about, this is the week to learn. It's also going to be a great place to meet folks who are writing and reading NA right now. 

I'll be hosting this THURSDAY, 9 PM EST, and the cosmically cool Bailey from NA Alley will be moderating. To join in the discussion, just search for #NALitChat on Twitter and use #NALitChat in your messages at the appointed time. 

If you want more info on what a Twitter chat is, and how to do it, be sure to check out the most recent post on the NA Lit Chat blog. There's also a calendar with upcoming chat dates and other FYI tidbits. Really hope you'll join us, and appreciate any tweeting or other types of promotion you might be able to do to help us get the word out. 


Last week I announced that I'd been working with an editor on a story I plan to see published in the near-ish future. Basically, I was all panicky about digging into the revisions, but excited about moving forward with the project. 

You'll be happy to know, I quit being a coward and dove into the edits with my nose pinched shortly after I posted. (Your encouragement seriously helped me with that, btw.) I've made a ton of progress and can most definitely see it coming together now. Won't be long.

After reading some of the comments, it occurred to me that I probably ought to talk about where I'm at in my writing career or, more importantly, how I got here. Some of you have been with me since the Spring of 2010 when my first post went up, and I've changed my goals and priorities a bit since then.

I say "more importantly", because I think the changes I've gone through are the most relevant aspects to anyone else out there writing. 


Okay, I wasn't completely clueless. But close. I barely knew what a query letter was. I'd just begun to understand what a market was and how that impacted publishing. Agents were unicorns to be stalked and studied from afar. And all of my writing was in third person limited POV because that's what Harry Potter was written in. (You think I'm joking. I'm not.)  

I wanted to write fiction for teens (still do, btw) because that's what I enjoyed reading, and I'd worked with teenagers most of my adult life. I knew teenagers and could relate to them.

And I'm not talking about those awesome teens that have their poop together. I worked with the teens that struggled with life. The lost ones. The abusers and the abused. The fragile and the neglected. So I wanted to write things for them. Stories saved me as an early teenager, and I wanted to write things to save them. 

Not that what I was writing was anything momentous or life-altering. I wasn't writing about racism or cancer, after all. My stories had robots, crude humor, and whatever else geeky, normal kids preoccupy themselves with. I aimed to tell stories that provided an escape. Because that's what all of my favorite stories gave me growing up. 

I was a kid from small town Oklahoma who liked classical music, comic books, and drawing who wanted to pretend he was from anywhere BUT small town Oklahoma. Books let me do that. 


Isn't that how we all start? If passion and desire are all it took to write a great story, I'd be dictating this to my butler while sipping cold drinks on a yacht somewhere in the South Pacific. Instead, I'm in my pajama pants, gulping down a Diet Dr. Pepper, and trying to keep my playful dog from yanking out the computer's power cord. Again. And I'm blogging from South-Central Texas, where we'd love to see a little rain this time of year, much less have an ocean view. 

Good writers are great failures. I thought I understood that going in. I expected to struggle. In fact, I looked forward to it. This would be the most challenging thing I'd ever attempted. I'd declared myself to be "a writer" to my friends and family, and now my blog said so too. The clock had officially started. No more writing only on the weekends or vacation. I'd write every day. I'd set goals and have standards to live by. It wasn't IF I'd reach them, but when.

To be fair, I never dreamed I'd end up questioning my own intelligence. I never would've considered that I'd be stripped of every ounce of confidence and self-appreciation I had--sometimes daily. And I certainly wouldn't have believed that I'd get so lost and buried by it all that my dreams would no longer matter. Not sucking is all that mattered.

My wife has often told me, perplexed, over the last few years, "You're so confident in everything you do. Except writing." I think if she truly knew the number of hours I'd dumped into this only to reach a point where I can look in a mirror (most days) and honestly say, "I don't completely suck," she'd probably get it. 


At some point in the last year and a half, something clicked. That's the simplistic way of saying it. The more complex version would included something about me seeing a bigger publishing picture. It might cover how I decided that I didn't have to be just one thing. Perhaps, the lengthier version would even mention how I discovered the key to getting my "voice" into my writing was to switch to first person POV. 

There were a billion little steps in the transition from what I thought writing--and subsequently becoming an author--was, and what it REALLY is. And I'm not even quite there yet.

Undoubtedly, the massive changes sweeping over the publishing industry have shifted my goals and expectations. Everyone is adapting on the fly these days it seems. 

When I began, I thought I wanted to know that my book was on a shelf at the local Barnes & Noble. It took me a while to figure out that what I really wanted was to know that my book was in the hands of a reader. And I cared very little about how they got it.

Initially, I was consumed with learning about the business. That seemed like the biggest obstacle in my mind. How to talk to an agent, what's attractive to publishers, could I say "shit" on my blog and still write YA ... On and on it went, and I got further and further away from what mattered. The writing.

In the beginning, I wanted to write what I thought I was SUPPOSED to write, and write it how it was SUPPOSED to be written. Now I write the only way I know how to write, and have resolved to let readers determine if I've done it correctly. 

This isn't some big FU to the establishment or conventions, btw. I have a book on craft on my bedside table in perpetuity. I draft and revise until the blood seeps from my fingers and eyes, then revise some more. I still keep up with agents, and listen when they say something is important. Entertaining readers and getting better with each story is still # 1 in my book. Lastly, I'd traditionally publish in a minute if the situation was right, AND I fiercely support independent authors. (Yes, you can say both.)

I've transformed my reality is all. And ultimately, I believe that's what being an author is truly about. Whether we're adapting our ideas to write the best story possible, or adjusting our professional aspirations and tactics to reach readers, the ability to change, to push for more, is what's going to determine our success.

What about you? Has your writing style changed? Has your career trajectory altered any from what you once thought it would be? Are you happy about it?

I think this song pretty well sums up my personal experience:



Hey gang! Just got back from a much needed beach vacation. Basically, I have sand in my unmentionables, eyestrain from reading in the sun and frostbite from holding a cold beverage in my hand all week. And it was awesome. Here's proof:

Think I'd like to own one of those houses ...
 It was too windy for her favorite Frisbee so we did the ball instead.

Anyway, I'm rested and eager to jump back into my writing/blogging/tweeting--well, whatever the heck this is. :)

Thanks to the efforts of many of you, the New Adult Lit Chat (our first chat is next Thursday, July 26, 9 PM Eastern!) is getting some fabulous buzz going. You can check out the NALitChat blog HERE for upcoming chat dates, as well as other useful New Adult-y things I'll be posting from time-to-time. If you want to know what it's all about, you can check out my last post HERE.

Sincerely, to all of you who have tweeted, blogged, etc. about it so far: THANK YOU. If I can ever repay you in kind, just ask. Hope to "see" many of you at the chat. It'll be a good time.

Now for some exciting and scary personal writing news: I just got a story back from an "official" editor for the first time! 

I'm very excited about this story. It's a fun little paranormal romp with a Texas twist. (Should I say "twister" to make it more regionally appropriate?) It's a novelette, under 17,000 words and more than 10,000, and the first in a series I've been working diligently on for quite some time. It will be published in the near future, and I'll have much more to say on that in the weeks to come. For now ...

A few of you worked (it is WORK when you read for me, btw) on it as readers over the last couple of months, and your efforts helped whip it into the shape it's in. But, as we all know, our beta, omega, etc. readers can't catch everything. You need the cold, calculating and what I imagine to be lidless lizard-like eyes of a professional editor for the fine tuning. (Kidding. About the cold part at least.)

So the e-mail with her revisions arrived this AM. Super excited to dig in and start making the final changes. Unfortunately, I discovered I have a phobia of opening documents from editors. 

Is it going to overwhelm me? Did I do anything right? Did she re-write the entire thing after the first two pages? 

Don't get me wrong, I've as much confidence in this story as anything I've ever written. I thought it was pretty decent going into the final editing process. But somehow knowing THIS IS IT has me hyperventilating. Scared to death to even start. 

Question for all you old pros out there: Is it going to be this bad every time? Are you on medication? Would you recommend a shot of whiskey or some other adult drink before taking a look? How can I be this excited and this afraid to do something at the same time?

I'm sure at some point this morning I'm going to get started on it. Until then, I'm going to tape my eyes so they'll stop twitching.


A NEW Deal

Hey gang! Sorry for the extended silence, but like many I've been traveling about this summer and doing various other "non-scheduled" this-and-thats. Consequently, getting sit-down time in front of my computer has pretty well gone out the window. I'll also be absent most of next week, but will try to get something up here at some point.

In the meantime, I have a very special announcement and a favor to ask. First, the announcement:

Beginning Thursday, July 26, 9 PM EST, I will be hosting an all new regular Twitter chat focusing on New Adult literature. Here's a quick FAQ to get you up to speed:

What is New Adult literature?

New adult is a blossoming category of literature written about and for the 20-somethings. The stories focus on issues and characters relevant to people emerging from their teens into the world of adult pleasures and problems. (Like college, car payments and the prospects of finding a life partner.) 

NA is viewed as the natural extension, or evolution, of young adult literature and a launching point for readers looking for a more mature brand of story, but perhaps not quite ready for a strict diet of self-help books and classic lit.

In short, if you like your vampires less sparkly, still think of midlife crisis as something for old people and are more worried about making your 8 AM biology lab than the escalating cost of prescription meds, NA stories are for you!

What is a Twitter chat? 

Basically, it's a prearranged discussion that happens live on Twitter at a specific time/date. Think of it like instant messaging, but with Twitter. 

How do I participate in a Twitter chat?

First, get a Twitter account. It's free. Second, you'll want to be signed in when the chat is taking place. Then, you'll keep track of--and get involved with--the discussion by using a special # tag, like #NALitChat in your tweets. 

Example of a conversation Tweet: What's the best NA story you've read so far? #NALitChat

Anyone following the #NALitChat conversation will see your Tweet, as well as your followers.

How do I know what others are saying? Is there an easy way to keep up with the conversation?

Yes! There are lots of 3rd party "apps" you can download to your computer, phone, etc. that specialize in keeping up with Twitter # conversations. Here are links to a few good ones:




Why is EJ involved?

I've always felt there should be more people writing for college-aged readers. I didn't have a lot of reading choices in college in terms of stories written FOR me. I could read Harry Potter or Stephen King, Tolstoy or CS Lewis. 

Unfortunately, stories for the in-betweens just weren't marketable. There was a belief that 20-somethings didn't read enough to warrant their own genres/category. Then came Harry Potter, Twilight and a slew of other Young Adult stories that achieved great "crossover" success in adult markets. The concept of targeting those "new adults" gained some traction and has been growing as a result.

Aside from enjoying stories that feature characters in their 20s (like the Sookie Stackhouse series), I've also begun writing them. Plus, I have a real love for Young Adult lit, and as I mentioned above, NA is very much an extension of those wonderful stories. 

Anyway, with the help of some other authors and New Adult enthusiasts, I kind of birthed the idea of having a regular Twitter chat to promote the category and basically provide a forum for discussion. After all, there are chats for YA, literature and all kinds of other genres, so why not NA?

The Favor

So that's the skinny. We're going to be talking nothing but NA, every Thursday night starting at the end of this month. I'm hosting, and I've got some wonderfully talented folks with a passion for NA helping me moderate, answer questions, etc. If you're even remotely curious about NA, or just want to find some new books to read, be sure to join us. 

You can get the full calendar, read chat transcripts and find some great NA resources at the NA Lit Chat blog (click for link) and follow @NALitChat on Twitter.

Speaking of following, blogs, etc. that's where I'd love your help. I know most of you are writers and readers, and you're connected with tons of other writers and readers. 

Would you consider helping me get the word out about the #NALitChat?

You can do it by following, Tweeting, blogging--however--in the weeks leading up to our first chat. I'll be posting more about it here (but not duplicating much, so no worries if you follow me on the NA Lit Chat blog too--this is, and will always be, my personal writing blog) and Tweeting from the @NALitChat account as well as my @EJWesley account. 

I appreciate any and all help in advance, and truly hope you'll stop by the new blog and tune in for the weekly chats. Would love to hear from you, and promise to keep it fun and informative.