Zette Appreciation Day

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

I missed the fact that yesterday was Zette Appreciation Day, but I’ll try and make up for it now.

In late 2003 I was convinced that writing a novel was much to hard a thing to try. I had it listed in my goals for something to work on by 2008. But then I saw Zette’s announcement at Forward Motion that she would be teaching an online class during which participants would write a novel over a period of two years. I signed up, not sure what to expect. Well it worked. I wrote a novel. It wasn’t polished and ready for submission by the end of the class due to some poor decisions on my part, but I had a completed first draft and some solid ideas for how to proceed. I also wasn’t afraid of writing novels anymore, which is a big one.

When I did start serious revisions I realized that I’d lost the detailed critique Zeete had sent me (which is what comes of replying to auto-generated forum emails without changing the subject). I emailed her in a panic explaining what had happened and what I believed the subject of the email to be and she went through the effort of digging it up and sending it again. It had probably been about a year since she first sent it, and it was a big help.

Zette always seems to want to help. I seem to remember her taking some flak on the NaNoWriMo boards for trying to offer good solid advice to folks about what is considered publication and scams to be wary of. You can’t really help people who don’t want to be helped, but it must be disheartening when they attack you for it. A quick check just now shows that she’s still there offering helpful advice to those who will listen.

If you’re willing, she’ll probably help you someday

To learn more about Zette:
Forward Motion — http://www.fmwriters.com
Vision — http://www.lazette.net/Vision/
Zette’s website — http://www.lazette.net

2YN: The Two-Year Novel Course, Year One

Monday, June 12th, 2006

I feel compelled to recommend 2YN: The Two-Year Novel Course, Year One, by Lazette Gifford to anyone who has even considered writing a novel. I haven’t yet read the book, but I did take the class on which the book is based. In fact, I’m taking it again for my next novel.

The first year covers:
  • Writing Basics: Ideas, Genres, Themes, Conflict and more
  • Character development
  • Worldbuilding
  • Outlining
  • Writing, including what to do when you get stuck

Having gone through the process, and I can tell you that it works. Pick up a copy now. It is currently available as a downloadable PDF, so you can get started right away. What are you waiting for?


2005 Year End Clearance

Saturday, December 31st, 2005
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 2003 00:00:54 -0500
From: Jason Penney <...>
To: Jason Penney <...>
Subject: story idea

an epic battle/war is tearing apart the land. A small time thief sees his opportunity to make good, but becomes involved in helping a refugee family (maybe just some kids?)

I found this email earlier this week. I have a lot of these ‘story idea’ emails, but this one is the novel I’ve been working on since shortly after sending this to myself two years ago today. I’m slightly less than half way done my second draft, and while the story has changed with time, I can still see how I got from there to here.

I’ve been a writer most of my life. When I was younger I sort of just assumed that you learned to read, learned to write, and then wrote down the stories in your head, and that’s how books were made. Today, I’m still pretty sure that’s how it’s supposed to work, but three years ago I didn’t feel that way. That type of thinking was schooled out of me. I never stopped writing, but I really forgot about writing books.

Throughout high school I wrote poetry. Lots. Every emotion I felt hit the paper while it was still fresh. I probably wrote four or more hours a day. I have stacks of notebooks filled with the stuff (which are fading away because I can only write long hand in pencil). Inside these notebooks I can find a few first chapters or unfinished short stories. I never stopped wanting to write fiction, but I stopped believing I could (or maybe that I should). After high school the writing mostly stopped. A few ideas here and there, and the occasional poem, but mostly nothing.

Sometime in 2003 I decided to take this whole writing thing more seriously. I worked on short stories a few nights a week. Then, near the end of December in 2003 I found Mugging the Muse: Writing Fiction for Love AND Money by Holly Lisle. This free book on writing really got me going. It helped me organize my thoughts on being a writer, and commit myself to making it happen. I set out a series of goals and started working towards them.

Have I met them? Not exactly. I originally planned to write short stories for all of 2004, and try to have a draft of a novel done in 2008. Right at the end of 2003 Lazette Gifford posted on Forward Motion that she would be teaching a 2 Year Novel class. Moving from idea to completed novel over a two year period. I signed right up. So I missed my 2004 goals, but I’m ahead of things for my 2008 goal, so I figure I’ll call it progress and keep moving forward.

As 2005 winds to a close, I want to take this time to thank Holly and Zette. If it wasn’t for them I’d probably still be floundering around wondering how to get from A to B instead of making my way along the path. I also want to thank my wife, Denise, for being so supportive of my writing, even when she’s frustrated that I’d rather write than vacuum.