Welcome to No Wasted Ink’s top ten writer links. Every Monday I share writer links from my personal surfing of the internet, showcasing the ones that I found to be the most useful or interesting. I hope you enjoy them!
Author John Hazen is a simple man who attempts to put his dreams on paper in hopes that they may influence a reader’s dreams. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.
Thank you, Wendy, for having me on today. Let me tell you a bit about myself. I’m a 62-year old retiree ‘living the life’ with Lynn, my wife of 39 years, in sunny Florida. I was born and raised in a small town in Massachusetts. Then I went to college at Rutgers in New Jersey. I lived and worked in New York City for six years and then spent over 30 years in New Jersey before moving permanently to Florida.
I have an affinity for contradictions and contrasts. I loved growing up in a small town but I also thoroughly enjoyed living in one of the largest cities on earth. In college, my majors were in psychology and sociology but then I spent my professional career in environmental protection. I have a fear of heights when I’m up in a tall building but have sought the thrill of skydiving and parasailing. I do not like being pinned down, and I’ve carried this over into my writing. Three of my books are straightforward suspense/thrillers but the two others venture into the paranormal/supernatural with one about time travel and the other revolving around a curse that entraps souls over the centuries.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always ‘wanted’ to write but never seemed to have the time. It wasn’t until I got my first laptop that I started to write in earnest. I devoted my commuting time, about forty-five minutes each way, to writing novels. The result is that I’m now working on my sixth suspense/thriller.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It was when I got a review on my first book, Dead Dad, from an Englishman that I’d never met before. This book is a time travel story that involves a Vietnam soldier who is transported back to the Civil War. His review: “Dear Dad is a marvelously composed novel about war. I had expected a historical novel with patriotic undertones that would teach me about parts of American history I didn’t know about. While that is also true, I found much more than that: a mature reflection on war and humanity, where naive dreams meet harsh reality.” Reading that, I knew that I had accomplished what I had set out to do. I was a writer.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
I’m actually working on two books right now. One is the third in a series of thrillers about a NYC television reporter, Francine Vega, who helps foil plots and plans that could rock the entire nation, if not the world. The second book, which I’ve only just begun, is about a young man who has a special ability that has been handed down to him from his ancestors to change events in the past and, in doing so, affects the present and future.
What inspired you to write this book?
This book, like a number of others, come from an idea that pops into my head and doesn’t let go. Dear Dad came to me because I wanted a unique way to compare a “popular” war (Civil War) with an “unpopular” one (Vietnam). My book Aceldama came from a question: What could happen if a person stumbled upon one of the coins given to Judas for the life of Jesus? My book Fava came about after reading about the Five Pillars of Islam and wondering what would happen if someone were to try and remove one of those pillars. The genesis of my present book came to me after seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child when we were in London last year. It got me wondering about the ability to change past events and how it could impact the present and future.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I try to be unpredictable. Three of my books are in the first person, one is in the third person and one alternates chapters from first to third and back again. I do occasionally like to insert a device. For example, in Dear Dad I preface each chapter with a letter the main character wrote to his father. The first letter is my favorite: Dear Dad, Almost got killed today. Don’t think it happened, though. Will advise when sure. Exhausted for now. Will write again soon. Love, John
How did you come up with the title of this book?
My two works in progress don’t yet have titles. For some of my books, the titles practically presented themselves to me from the onset. Fava is the family nickname of the lead character. In others, it’s a much longer process. Aceldama (Aramaic for Potters Field) didn’t come to me until my second or third draft.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I always strive to impart a message in my books whether it’s a search for tolerance in the world or striving for redemption even for the most irredeemable person or whether children should bear responsibility for the sins of the parents. The most meaningful books to me over the years are ones that not only entertained me but also left me thinking at the end. I hope that at least some of my readers are left thinking after they finish one of my books.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?
I always try to intermingle stories and events from my life, things that I’ve learned about people I know and stories from my own imagination.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
My favorite all-time novel is To Kill a Mockingbird but, since Harper Lee only wrote the one novel (I don’t count the travesty that greedy publishers put out a few years ago as her book), I’ve found it wise to get to know some other authors. I’ve loved a number of the classics such a John Steinbeck and Sinclair Lewis.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
I am a huge fan of J.K. Rowling for a number of reasons. Anybody who can visualize a whole different world the way she did and then to convey that world to all of us is a genius. She actually got kids to read 700-page books! She needs to be commended for that alone. I also admire her dedication and persistence after getting turned down by publisher after publisher. I remember her as I’m trying to make my way in this competitive business.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
My first book, Dear Dad, was self-published through CreateSpace and they supplied the illustrator. The last four were published by a small independent publisher, Black Rose Writing, who have a very talented designer, Dave King, on staff.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
My greatest piece of advice is to just write. Put words on paper or on screen. You can sort them out or embellish later on. Sometimes people who want to write get too intimidated and as a result never do it. Or they have so many ideas they don’t know where to start. I look at writing as comparable to building a house. Many writers want to start selecting the blinds and carpeting before they’ve built the structure and installed the plumbing. Build your book as you go along.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I just want to thank them for taking the time to get to know me. I hope that they look over my books and perhaps consider reading one or more of them. I’m completely unbiased, but I have a feeling they’ll like them.
Singer Island, Florida
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Welcome to No Wasted Ink’s writing links. Each Monday I make a top ten list of writerly articles that I found useful during my personal surfing of the internet. Most are general writing tips, but sometimes I go a little afield in topics of interest to me. I hope you enjoy them!
The laziest answer given to the aspiring writers during Q&A’s or interviews when asked for advice is: “Write what you know”, but what does that mean?
It’s the trite answer given when vision is lacking or the author is keen for the day to finish. BUT there is a pearl of wisdom in there and I believe we should examine it together, so buckle up.
Though before we start I should caution you, nothing you read in this article will be earth-shattering or groundbreaking. Others have trod this path before, and will again, but I believe my unique perspective adds something to the question.
That’s right, I said unique, in that each of us has our unique memories and encounters that molded us into who we are now. My childhood on an apple farm, studying archaeology, or that unfortunate zipper “incident” when I was six may turn up in a story, I’m referring to something richer.
My story begins in the fall of 2015. I was at a crossroads, but we’ll chat about that later. Until that point, my writing comprised a handful of short stories I penned in the 90s that will never suffer the light of day and countless roleplaying adventures that went unplayed. At that point in my life, the writing was an outlet that struck at random.
So what changed? I had.
I ended a seven-year toxic relationship, it was something I knew was wrong when it began. Since we weren’t harming anyone (no marriage or kids, just played house on weekends), I allowed it to continue because I didn’t believe I deserved better. When I became brave enough to end it, I struggled to talk about my feelings, so I tried my hand at putting my emotions and journey into the written word. “The Silence between Moons”, a tale of a lone ranger and a She-wolf that could take human form was the result, and it became my first sale.
That’s what I knew, the sense of dismissal, the heartache, the feeling that I wasted my best years on a relationship that had no future. Weaving a fantasy tale around my hurt allowed me to feel like a hero, when before I felt like a villain since I had caused hurt and disappointment. Distancing myself from my feeling as I wrote the story wasn’t easy, nor should it have been, but that “over the shoulder” position I allowed myself, helped heal me more than I expected.
I hope your decisions have been better in life, each of us carries around mistakes, hopes, and joys, that emotional “baggage” that makes us the unique beings that we are. Beings that have a story to share with an audience, that connects us to others and that sense of connection is one of the greatest gifts that we can share with our readers.
Having a sale under my belt broke down my walls. Here was a way for me to express myself in a way that had a meaningful impact upon me, it gave me a strength to share myself with others. I hadn’t realized that my words, what I knew, could find a home in tales of wonder and adventure, and bring readers along for the ride.
That first story was clunky and not my best work, but it will always hold a special place in my heart. It led me along a path to tell new stories, explore myself, meet new people that I won’t have met otherwise. After it followed tales which explored how Might doesn’t always make Right, with my story “A Troll by any other name”, how a handful of jelly beans can forge a friendship in my award-winning story “Sea Monkeys”, along with dozens of others. What I know has evolved and changed me, I expect you’re the same. You can surprise yourself when you look through old stories, or journals and ask yourself “Who was I then, what did that version of me know?” That question makes excellent story fodder and can provide wonderful insight for character motivation.
I’m a short story author, and I have the utmost respect for those who tackle novel-length projects and series. We can use writing what you know in 100 words drabbles right up to 100K+ works and everything in between. The stories in which I have shown what I know, be it betrayal, forgotten loves, or soul-crushing shame, has far out-sold those in which I have told the message, and this is where your personal experiences can help you.
So I challenge you, to look within yourself and ask “what you know”, and how you can use it in your writing. One word of warning though, this can be a difficult exercise, it’s upsetting when exploring uncomfortable memories, so I want you to prepare yourself and practice self-care. Not every story you write needs to be a deep, soul-wrenching essay that frays yourself open, but I want you to be true to what you know. You’re an ever-evolving bundle of joys, sorrows, and decisions that get remade every day, and I look forward to reading what you know.
Peter J. Foote is a bestselling speculative fiction writer from Nova Scotia. Born and raised on an apple farm, he studied archaeology in university, and always had a passion for the “what if”, and an appreciation of nature. Outside of writing, he runs a used bookstore specializing in fantasy & sci-fi, cosplays with his fiance, is an active Freemason, and alternates between red wine and coffee as the mood demands.
Having the distinction of appearing in each of the “From the Rock” anthologies published by Engen books (Sci-fi from the Rock, Fantasy from the Rock, Chillers from the Rock, Dystopia from the Rock, and Flights from the Rock), Peter is also the celebrated winner of the “Awkward Author” contest sponsored by Chuck Wendig, autographed proof has pride of place in his writing nook, which you can see on here.
Peter considers himself a genre writer, with Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror being his preferred method of storytelling. He has recently taken to writing drabbles for Black Hare Press, finding the challenge to write a complete story in 100 words a great way to improve his writing skills.
His short stories can be found in both print and in ebook form, with his story “Sea Monkeys” winning the inaugural “Engen Books/Kit Sora, Flash Fiction/Flash Photography” contest in March of 2018. As the founder of the group “Genre Writers of Atlantic Canada”, Peter believes that the writing community is stronger when it works together. GWOAC has grown from a handful of members to over 300 regional authors of all skill and ability, which focus on networking and support to build a stronger genre writing presents in Atlantic Canada.
Happy Monday! Once more I offer to you a top ten list of writerly articles. Most are general writing tips, but a few relate to building your career as a writer. I hope you find them useful!