Posts Tagged ‘Jason Henry Evans’

PPWC2019 – Reflections

Although PPWC2019 fell into the history books almost a month ago, the buzz is still electrifying. Here are just a few things people had to say:

“There’s a reason PPWC is one of the longest-standing and productive writing conferences in the country. The level of talent, professionalism, access to both industry leaders and Mother Nature create the ideal opportunity for writers at all levels to move ahead in craft and career.” ~~Susan Wiggs, New York Times best-selling author

What really stood out at PPWC was the clear affection that attendees felt for each other.  Clearly, many were experienced veterans of the conference, and they were so happy to see each other again.  And still, they were very inclusive of new people.  Plus, present company notwithstanding, I thought the programming and the level of instruction to be phenomenal. ~~John Gilstrap, New York Times bestselling author

I’ve attended the Southern California Writers Conference a couple of times, and while the workshops are on par with PPWC, they don’t include meals into the conference (except for the Saturday night banquet), so I’m very happy PPWC does that! It’s nice to be able to talk with authors and faculty there in an informal setting. They’re pretty normal, in a nerdy sort of way–like us! ~Margena Holmes, Author

PPWC has long been my favorite conference to attend. It was the first writers conference I ever went to–as an attendee in 2007–and it set the bar high for others. I’m always thrilled when I get to come back as faculty and reunite with so many familiar faces, be part of the top-notch presentations you offer (one of the many reasons I adore PPWC), and be around such an enthusiastic, supportive, focused group of writers. This past year, as I always do, I filled my days when I wasn’t presenting attending the presentations of others–I learn so much there every time. And I am inspired and charged up every time I come by the authors I get to work with in my workshops–everyone is so fully engaged, dedicated to their craft, and wonderfully interactive. It’s also one of my favorite places to lead workshops. Coming to PPWC is like coming home, every time. ~Tiffany Yates Martin, Editor/Owner, FoxPrint Editorial

PPWC 2019 was my first time teaching at a writers conference, a longtime goal of mine. I was a little nervous, until I realized just how friendly and enthusiastic all the attendees were. Everyone at PPWC came with an open mind, ready to learn new things and build their writing skills. I was so impressed by the knowledge and curiosity of everyone who attended my classes–I think I learned more from them than they learned from me! ~Rachel Craft, Author

As I sit at home, drinking a hot mug of coffee, I like to reflect on the things I’ve learned, the people I’ve met and the knowledge I’ve acquired. I try to process it all and allow it to motivate my writing. By the end of that first cup of Joe, I want to write all the things. I want to finish my manuscript, edit another and submit to every anthology. ~Jason Henry Evans, Author

I thoroughly enjoyed the presentations and workshops I was able to attend; the faculty was top-notch. And who can leave out the networking benefits of Barcon?  But ultimately, the very best part of PPWC was the friendships I made.  Writing can be such a lonely thing, but I have now gathered my tribe!  ~Kate V. Conway, Author

PPWC2019 met all of my expectations. My favorite quote from the weekend came from John Gilstrap when he said, “Don’t write a book – tell a story.” My favorite class was…ALL of them. So much information filled my notebook with knowledge and my mind with ideas. My favorite thing to do? Volunteer. I have been on the Query team since my first conference in 2012. It is a great way to contribute to this amazing event. These reasons (and many more) are why I return year after year. ~K.J. Scrim, Editor PPW Blog and Author

For the six years I’ve been attending PPWC, I’ve heard how the Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference is one of the best, friendliest, and most respected conferences in the country, and while I believed my astute fellow conference volunteers, I am bred from the school of trust but verify. So, this year, when I was approached by many editors/agents, as well as all of the keynotes, I requested details when they told me how happy they were to attend a PPW Conference.

In summary, this is what I was told:
–The variety of material, genre, and skill levels catered to by the workshops, invited guests, and keynotes. A little something for everyone.

–The amount of coordination and organization conducted prior to and during conference by the conference volunteers.  “I can’t believe this is all done by volunteers”.

–The overall vibe of the conference is positive and light. We are able to maintain a joviality throughout the days and nights, something that is rare as time presses on.
~Kameron Claire, PPW President and Author

Using the Tax Code – Part 1

In this two part series, Jason Henry tells us about how the tax code can be used to further your writing career. Jason will be teaching, Understanding How the Changes in the Tax Code Effect Your Writing Career, with his wife, Linda Evans at PPWC2019.


Today I want to talk to you about your writing journey, but first I want to talk about my wife.

The Fetching Mrs. Evans has put up with my shenanigans for over fourteen years. Why I’m not living in my car trying to watch Youtube on my laptop while stealing the wifi signal from McDonalds, I’ll never know. She is truly a saint for putting up with me.

She is an accountant and tax preparer by trade. She was introduced to the business by her merciless parents who forced her into child labor at the wee age of nine by chaining her to an adding machine. (I kid, I kid!)

You know, your view of the world is bound to change when you’ve married an accountant. For example, the Fetching Mrs. Evans has taught me the ways Congress has tried to modify our collective behaviors in this country by incentivizing some acts and de-incentivizing others. For example we are all encouraged to put money away into retirement accounts because that money doesn’t get taxed until you use it. We are encouraged to own and not rent housing because we can take a portion of our monthly payment off as a write-off when we own. Stuff like that.

So I want to talk about how you can use the current tax law to help you with your writing craft.

In the beginning …

The tax code is designed to incentivize certain actions. For most of the 20th century, Congress wanted to reward people for being good neighbors and community members by creating the Schedule A on the tax form. Your mortgage interest deduction is noted on the Schedule A because we believe homeowners are better community members. Those uniforms you bought for the local little league team? A Schedule A write-off. That computer you donated to the Boys Club? A schedule A write-off. The mileage on your car you gained by driving your daughters dance team to the competition? A write-off as well.

Amateur writers used to be able to take their deductions off under the Schedule A. Taking a writing class? Schedule A. Going to a writer’s conference? Schedule A! Talking on a panel at Denver Pop Culture Con? The mileage and food purchased were on deductible under the schedule A!

Things have changed.

Unfortunately for us, Congress gutted the provisions of the Schedule A in the latest round of tax reform. No more writing off convention hot dogs! No more mileage deductions for pontificating about Dr. Who at a sci-fi convention.

In order to use those deductions now, you have to put them under a Schedule C. The Schedule C is for business. All of those deductions you could have taken off for your writing hobby you can now use under the Schedule C – provided that you treat your writing as a business.

Business Best Practices

In order for you to take advantage of the tax codes you have to start practicing the habits of a business. So what does that mean?

  • Keep track of incoming revenue and outgoing expenses
  • Starting a separate checking/savings account
  • Using contracts when you hire people to do services for you. (Cover artists, editors, formatters, & web designers, to name a few.)
  • Issuing 1099 tax forms

Deductions

The great thing about treating your writing like a business is that it opens up a lot of petty expenses you’re paying for as deductions.

  • Going to a writers conference and you need a new dress? That is a write-off.
  • Did you donate a set of your books to a library or school? Write-off!
  • Did you buy a table at your local geek convention? Write-off
  • What about the mileage you drove to that book signing? Write-off
  • Did you have to pay for food or a hotel room for a writing event? Write-off.
  • Do you pay for meals or dues in a writing organization? (Like a critique group?) Write-off

Now please don’t feel like you can write everything off. You can’t. But you if you were going to make a purchase for your writing career – and you’ve gotten into best business practices for writers everywhere – then you can legitimately claim that purchase as a write-off.

Here are some examples.

I write historical fiction and I blog on for Pikes Peak, as well as my own website. So I take 70% of my internet access as a write off. I can’t take all of it off because I, like you, watch HULU, Netflix, goof off on game sites, and send non-business emails with my wifi at home.

I take off about 50% of my phone bill because I have a smart phone and I use the data to talk to other writers through FB messenger, text, and email – which I access from my phone when I’m not at home. I will also use the internet for research, too. I can’t use any more than 50% because I gab with friends, send funny memes and other shenanigans with my phone, too.

I live close to Denver Pop Culture Con, so I don’t take the mileage – I take the cost of the lite rail.

When I teach at Pikes Peak Writers this year, I can’t take the any of the registration or hotel costs off because I’m on faculty and that’s being comp’d. But I can take the mileage for the drive down there and back.

I will have my black suit dry cleaned for the conference, so I’ll take the write-off for that, too. (I only wear suits for conferences and book launches – so this is a legitimate business expense.)

I’m going to end this blog here, but next time we’ll talk about book keeping, writing contracts, & whether or not you need to issue 1099’s in your writing business.


Jason Evans

Jason Henry Evans says that life is funny. “In 2004 I moved from Los Angeles to Denver, newly married with a desire to be a great teacher and husband. I dedicated myself to public education and realized my heart was not in it. So I moved on. At the same time I stumbled into a creative world of art and literature I now call home. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worthwhile.”
You can catch up with Jason on his Facebook 
Author Page or on Twitter. You will also find up to date posts on his blog.

Best Business Practices for the Writer

All the best this year for you word slingers out there. I hope your holiday season was full of joy and meaning. But now it’s time to get back on the horse and get going with that manuscript. I have decided that this is the year that I self-publish a couple of novellas and a couple of novels.

As I began to write down all of the details I would have to keep track of in order to publish,  I realized that what I was doing was project management. Managing an editor, formatter, learning about marketing and email lists, it all seemed super daunting. That’s when I noticed that my wife, the Fetching Mrs. Evans, did exactly the same thing as a business owner. That’s when the lightning struck: I was starting a business.

You must act like you're running a business and embrace these best practices.

Now, whether or not you plan to self-publish or get a traditional contract, is inconsequential. Whether you’ve got one book in you or a couple of book series, doesn’t matter, either. It is not enough to claim the mantle of artist while writing your book. You must act like you’re running a business and embrace these best business practices.

Be of service to the writing community.

            I like to say we need to practice literary citizenship. By this I mean we should be of service to one another. I have beta-read stories from half a dozen authors. I have blogged on other author’s sights. I have mentored new writers. I do this because, like a responsible business, I feel I have a responsibility to the community. The results? Every single story I’ve had published was because someone told me about an opportunity.

Surround yourself with talented people and treat them well.

            If you self-publish you will need an editor, beta-readers, and a cover artist. Depending on your subject, you might need a formatter and sensitivity readers, too. Find these people, treat them well and don’t mess around with their money. Show them your appreciation with kind words and respecting their work. Publishing a book is not a solo endeavor. It takes a village, people.

Use Contracts

            It can be scary signing a contract. A contract though, is simply stating the expectations of both parties when it comes to work, compensation and time frame. In the long run, a good contract will protect both you and the person you’re working with.

            You don’t have to sign your name on a contract you don’t like. Negotiate for what you want. If you’re uncomfortable with a contract you’ve signed, talk to the person and see if you can renegotiate. If you can’t, at least you have a document that clarifies what you’re paying for the the agreed upon expectations.

Be wise with your expenses and keep track of everything

            While there are those people out there that can throw bags of cash at their writing hobby, most of us should be on a budget. We should be tracking our expenses, as well as our sells for a couple of reasons. Chiefly so we know if we’re spending money wisely. Why pour hard earned money down a hole? But you also want to know when you’ve spent money wisely, too. For example, let’s say you’ve spent money on Facebook adds for your book. Unless you’re tracking when the ads appeared and any sales spikes, you’ll never know if those ads worked.

            In reality though, you’ll want to keep track of your spending because the government will give you a tax break on your book if you treat it like a business. Even if you sell just one copy, you now qualify for a Schedule C return to list all your expenses.

Manage your brand

            This is a broad category that includes everything from creating a publishing logo to keeping your reputation spotless. Will you need to incorporate to self-publish a book? Absolutely not. But having someone design a logo for your book to be published under can help a lot. (Amazon readers associate quality and professionalism with publishing houses – any publishing house.)

            Essentially, you want readers and other writers to associate your name and your novel with quality. That means taking your work seriously and putting your best foot forward. It also means cultivating a reputation for yourself and your business that it above reproach. In other words, don’t be a jerk.

I have seen writers become persona non grata within the Denver writing community because they gained a reputation for stabbing people in the back or drinking too heavily at conventions. I have also seen a person’s reputation grow as more and more praise was heaped on them for being open and hospitable with their time.


Life is funny. In 2004 I moved from Los Angeles to Denver, newly married with a desire to be a great teacher and husband. I dedicated myself to public education and realized my heart was not in it. So I moved on. At the same time I stumbled into a creative world of art and literature I now call home. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worthwhile. You can catch up with Jason Evans on his Facebook Author Page or on Twitter. You will also find up to date posts on his blog.

How to Handle Modern Day Sensibilities in Historical Fiction

The year is almost over, and it occurred to me I’ve never covered the topic of modern sensibilities. You know what I mean, right? Well, if you don’t, let me break it down for you.

While our stories have historical settings that sweep us away, many of our characters usually have modern sensibilities, or ways of approaching the world.  

Why do our characters have modern sensibilities?

Well there are a couple of reasons why. First of all, you’re writing for a modern audience. If your characters, particularly your protagonist, adopted all the sensibilities of the story setting, they would probably be very unlikable. Most people had very different social norms as little as sixty years ago. So things like interracial dating, pre-marital sex, multiculturalism, women working outside the home after marriage, and women wearing pants, were controversial. (And yes, I do know there were pockets of society that were doing all those things, even in the 1950s. The point here is to talk about perceived societal norms, nationally.)

Second, unless your story uses those traditional social norms as part of the stories theme, why even make it a big deal? For example, in ancient Greece, people actually believed that a relationship existed between beauty and morality. That ugliness on the outside reflected ugliness on the inside. But how does this relate to your historical YA about a girl growing up in Athens wanting to learn how to read? How does this effect your kick ass manuscript about the Peloponnesian War? It doesn’t so don’t worry about it.

So what do you do? My test question is, Does this affect the plot or my character’s arc? If the answer is no, then ignore it. Or, if you really want to deal with it, try the following;

Make fun of it.

Amelia Peabody is the wife to a prominent Egyptologist in Elizabeth Peters historical mystery series. Amelia lives throughout the mid and late Victorian period. She is almost radical in her beliefs about women’s equality but is quite normal for our period. (So is her husband) But the author plays up their upper middle-class background and sensibilities by giving us a scene in an early book where they have afternoon tea in 110 degree Egypt. Hot tea, melting butter and warm scones – in the hot Egyptian desert. Clearly the author is making fun of British sensibilities.

Highlight how your character is different.

This is a good way to show your protagonists moral character. In Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, the title character shows a level of respect and tenderness for a Jewish woman named Rebecca that was historically inaccurate. In addition, Rebecca herself is a courageous woman who stands up for herself and her people. These are admiral traits, but historically, not realistic. But who cares? It’s a great story. Both Ivanhoe and Rebecca capture the imagination of the reader because they are so different from the time period.

Ignore it, all together.

Seriously. If it doesn’t have anything to do with your plot or your character arcs, why include it? If you’re writing a historical romance about a princess and an accountant, and they end up making love all over your book, this is probably not historically accurate. (Not that people didn’t have sex, but things get antsy for women of high rank doing it. Remember, Henry VIII’s wife Catherine Howard was executed for having an affair and Mary, Queen of Scots BF started a civil war.) None of that matters if it’s a good story.

Finally, you could do all of the above in interesting and subtle ways. But that’s up to you. Just remember that the story is the most important thing.

Have fun writing.


Jason Henry Evans: Life is funny. In 2004 I moved from Los Angeles to Denver, newly married with a desire to be a great teacher and husband. I dedicated myself to public education and realized my heart was not in it. So I moved on. At the same time I stumbled into a creative world of art and literature I now call home. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worthwhile.
You can catch up with Jason on his Facebook Author Page or on Twitter. You will also find up to date posts on his blog.

Getting into NaNoWriMo

When I first started out on my writing journey I got big into National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It was the perfect solution to so many issues I had! Nano set up a short period of time I could finish my novel. It fostered an atmosphere of art and community. I got to meet creative people and be inspired by them. And finally, it made me write every day.

Above everything else, daily writing was the most valuable skill I learned from NaNoWriMo.

Why NaNoWriMo?

If you’re new to the writing word let me explain why NaNoWriMo is awesome. Every November people gather around the world and try to write a novel in 30 days. Yes, you read that right. 30 days!

When I was younger, the thought of cranking out 1667 words a day seemed daunting, but I was up for the challenge. I would have days where I could get out 2000, even 2500 words a day. Then I’d get distracted and miss whole days of writing. Suddenly it was November 25rd and I was hanging around 38K in words. How was I supposed to write 12k in five days?

Muscle through, that’s how.

NaNoWriMo taught me the importance of muscling through a draft. That it didn’t matter if the words weren’t perfect, or the dialogue was childish, or even if the plot was nonsensical. What was important? Word count.

Get to Publishing Faster

Now a lot of you will disagree with me on that. Not a problem. We all have our process. But let me remind you, oh gentle reader, that your first draft is never going to be perfect. That you’re going to have to go through that manuscript with a fine-tooth comb, regardless. The sooner you get to the editing phase, the sooner your manuscript can blossom into a publishable book. I’ll always remember what author Stant Litore told me once; “Amateurs write. Professionals re-write.”NaNoWriMo taught me the importance of muscling through a draft.

So, the faster your junk-draft is finished, the faster you can continue towards your path to publishing.

NaNoWriMo helps you get there. If you can get into the habit of writing 1667 words a day – every day – rain or shine, then you can write an 80K or even a 100K novel. I now write around 3K a day, pushing it to 5K when things go super well. I owe all of that to NaNoWriMo.
But word count and creating a writing habit is only one of the benefits of NaNoWriMo. Do you want to know the real benefit of participating in NaNoWriMo? Community.

Go to Writing Events

I once suggested to a friend that if he wanted to write he should participate in NaNo. My friend was hesitant but eventually agreed to participate. November went by and I checked on him as the month came to a close to find out how he did. Unfortunately, he didn’t even break 5K. When I asked him why, he said he just wasn’t inspired to write. I then asked him if he went to any of the writing events I pointed him towards. He said no. “That’s your problem, friend.”

See, NaNoWriMo is a GREAT opportunity to meet other artists and aspiring artists. People who love literature or have a story to tell.
I live in Denver and during NaNoWriMo we meet at the Perkins off of I-25 and Colorado Blvd, every Friday night. People come, tell each other about their lives since their last NaNo adventure and just be goofy. We eat dinner. Then, around 8:30 pm the computers come out. We start typing. At first, it’s only a few people. But slowly the conversation dies. More lap tops come out and we are on a roll! Everyone is writing. Pie is eaten. Coffee is inhaled. People work out plot points or share their ideas. It’s a wonderful experience and it motivates me.


Jason Henry Evans: Life is funny. In 2004 I moved from Los Angeles to Denver, newly married with a desire to be a great teacher and husband. I dedicated myself to public education and realized my heart was not in it. So I moved on. At the same time I stumbled into a creative world of art and literature I now call home. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worthwhile.
You can catch up with Jason on his Facebook Author Page or on Twitter. You will also find up to date posts on his blog.

Your Niche in Historical Fiction

By: Jason Henry Evans


Hello, gentle reader. This month on the historical fiction blog, I am writing about finding your niche in historical fiction.
You’ve got that great idea for a story. You’ve fantasized about the clothes your characters wear, the horses they ride and the type of weapons they carry.
STOP! Stop right there! Before you go and write ten thousand words, think about your story and ask yourself these questions:

What is the Conflict?
Every story begins and ends with conflict. What is the protagonist struggling against? What are they trying to overcome? Is the conflict centered on a person (Person v. Person)? A group of people, (Person v. Society)? A place (Person v. Nature)? Or an internal struggle (Person v. Self)? Are there multiple conflicts going on (A protagonist fighting an unjust system while struggling with an ally for control of a political group)?

Who is your Protagonist?
Many times we have ideas in our head about what a good story should look like. Many of those times it’s based off of our experiences with books and movies we’ve watched and read. The stories we envision sometimes are simply duplicates of what we’ve read or scene before. (Which is a natural part of the writing process. We all do it.)

What would make your story interesting is if you shift your point of view. A war story from the perspective of a refugee is pretty common today. A war story told by the villain, and justifying their villainy might be unique.

Writing historical fiction can be exciting and rewarding.

What is your Time Period?
This can be really hard. Not because certain time periods require a certain amount of research. Nor is it because you have to get every little detail from a time period absolutely perfect. The real reason is this: We as writers get it in our heads that our story belongs in a certain setting. Many times we are probably wrong.

Let’s face it, if we want to be professional writers, then we have to know about market saturation. We have to know about certain time periods that are overwhelmed with stories. English Regency romance about a destitute woman who finds love and regains her stolen estates? Overdone. American Revolutionary War about orphan boy who finds himself in the middle of two armies? We’ve read that.

Stop. Just stop.

Don’t do what everyone else is doing. Find a niche that is both familiar to your potential audience, yet interesting and creative.
Aimie Runyan took a basic story about frontier farm living in her novel Promised to the Crown, and turned it on its head by setting it in 17th century Quebec. All the tropes of frontier fiction, just twisted a little.

Want to write a mystery set in Victorian London? You want to write about the opulence of high society, while the poor suffer in the street? You want political intrigue? OK. Why not choose another time? How about 1820’s London? How about the London of 1665, during the last big outbreak of Bubonic Plague? What a backdrop THAT would be!

Choose your Setting.
Finally, if you’re really set on a time period, like Renaissance England, or World War II, why not flip the story upside down and write about a different setting? The American Revolutionary War is a grand time period for a story, but instead of your story taking place in Boston or Charleston, could it be set Quebec? (Remember, Benedict Arnold led an expedition up there in 1775.) That mystery in Victorian London? I bet a story set in Victorian upper crust of Bombay or Hong Kong would be even more decadent and mysterious than one set in London.

I know from personal experience that writing historical fiction can be both exciting and rewarding. I also know that when I wrote my first story, I didn’t think too much about setting, or time or conflict. It was a painful lesson I learned as I got pummeled in my critique group. But I learned. If you can hold off on writing that story, do the research to avoid over-saturated markets, then you can write a novel that is closer than you think to getting published.


Jason Henry Evans: Life is funny. In 2004 I moved from Los Angeles to Denver, newly married with a desire to be a great teacher and husband. I dedicated myself to public education and realized my heart was not in it. So I moved on. At the same time I stumbled into a creative world of art and literature I now call home. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worthwhile.
You can catch up with Jason on his Facebook Author Page or on Twitter. You will also find up to date posts on his blog.

Your Historical Villain

So, you’ve got a great idea for a story of historical fiction. You know who the protagonist is. You know who their sidekick is and their love interest. You’ve imagined them full of contemplation at the midpoint and you’ve thought about what would drive your hero to despair during the whiff of death moment. But you don’t have a villain?

Your first thought was to use that really cool historical figure. You know, the guy who everyone hates in the history book. That sadistic general, or sleazy politician. The out of touch monarch or the self-righteous moral crusader. But the time line doesn’t match, or maybe you want to save that dastardly villain for another book. What’s a writer of historical fiction going to do? Fear not, gentle reader! I have come to your rescue!

Here are the Top Four ways to craft a historical villain!

1. Make your villain fictional.
I know. I know. You’ve read a lot about the time period and you’ve stumbled across the perfect this really jerk who can be the antagonist of your plot. But the problem is that real historical people tend to be in certain places antithetical to your plot. Let’s say your villain is none other than Joseph Stalin. Great! Read bad guy! But the problem is Stalin tended to have his locations recorded most of the time. If you want to write a scene that takes place in the Ukraine in 1944, chances are Stalin was in Moscow or Eastern Poland. Your story will be criticized for the inaccuracy.

“But I have a secondary villain who is Stalin’s henchmen,” you say.

OK. So why not make the henchmen the true villain? This gives you a lot more flexibility then having an historical character. That antagonist can be places historical figures can’t, and can do things historical figures can’t. Stick with fictional villains.

2. Make your villain symbolic.
What’s really cool about fiction is that you can infuse themes into your story. Do that with your villain. Aimie Runyan did that very well with her fictional priest in Promised to the Crown. A running theme of the book is how men lay multiple and over lapping claims on women’s bodies. Fr. Cloutier, the head priest in Ms. Runyan’s book, is a stand in for the power of the Roman Catholic Church in 17th century Quebec.

Or, what about Nurse Ratchet in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest? She is clearly a stand in for institutional medicine and the power of bureaucracy. A villain who represents what’s wrong with your society helps you develop your theme. Such a villain can also allow you to explore the values of antiquated societies and show them to your reader in a modern light. Either way, it’s a great way to add some spice into your story.

3. Make your villain a reflection of your hero.
There is nothing better than a fun-house mirror version of the protagonist. Maybe they’re the exact opposite. Maybe their very similar to the hero, but just a little off. Great villains should make your hero question themselves, their motives, and their actions. Great villains should humble the hero when she realizes there, but for the Grace of God, go I.

4. Make your villain have cause.
There is a great saying going around about villains. Every villain is the hero of their own story. This is so true! Every villain was once a potential hero, now corrupted. Make your reader understand your villains tragic arc. Of course, the story is about your protagonist, but leave enough room so that your readers can sympathize with your villain, even if they don’t agree with them. Think of the Monster in Frankenstein.

Remember that villains are just as important as heroes are. Sometimes, they’re even more important.


Jason Henry Evans: Life is funny. In 2004 I moved from Los Angeles to Denver, newly married with a desire to be a great teacher and husband. I dedicated myself to public education and realized my heart was not in it. So I moved on. At the same time I stumbled into a creative world of art and literature I now call home. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worthwhile.

You can catch up with jason on his Facebook Author Page or on Twitter. You will also find up to date posts on his blog.

Realistic Diversity in Historical Fiction

Readers, today we hear from Jason Henry Evans’ latest installment on How to Write and Publish Historical Fiction. This month, Jason addresses diversity in historical fiction, the what, the why and the how.


It is January of 2018 and having diverse characters is still a big deal in historical fiction. But how do you add diverse characters when the market you write in is pretty, well, white? 

I mean, how much diversity was in the English Regency?  How much diversity was in Ancient Rome? Or Tudor England? How much diversity was in the Highlands of Scotland where my Highland Romance takes place? 

Ah, never fear, gentle reader. Never fear. We will go over this. 

But first, let’s check our privilege at the door and understand what diversity really means. 

What Exactly do we Mean by Diversity?

Diversity is not only about race. 

Diversity is about sex. 

Diversity is about orientation. 

Diversity is about gender.

Diversity is about age. 

Diversity is about ableism. 

Diversity is about thought.

If you are a new writer without a formal education in history, sometimes the world can seem pretty vanilla. Sometimes it can seem segregated, too. But with a little research and a little creativity you can peel that veneer off of the tableau you’re looking at and discover a rich and varied world. 

Also – and let me be blunt – you are writing historical fiction. No one is going to get 3 units transferable to the college of their choice by reading your book. You don’t have to be absolutely historically accurate to write a compelling piece of historical fiction. 

Don’t get me wrong – you do have to get the details right. You gotta know your stuff about horses, crops, firearms and swords. You have to know your way around corsets and fabrics and etiquette and politics. But you do NOT have to be perfect. 

How do We Write Diversity in Our Stories?

So, how do we write diversity into our stories?

Maybe you are writing a romance set in the English Regency. You feel diverse characters would add richness to your story and make it pop. But you can’t bring yourself to make one of the supporting characters from Africa or Asia. That’s OK. What if your character were disabled, in some way? A veteran of the war in the colonies who’s now in a wheel chair? Or, perhaps blind? How many romances have disabled characters?  What about a supporting character who is very old, but wise? Someone who can reminisce about the love of their youth and give good advice to the protagonist. 

Cultural and Ethnic Diversity Occur Natural in Times of Great Exchanges

But if you did want someone to stand out because of their ethnicity and background, please remember, the settings of most of our great pieces of historical fiction have been during times of great exchanges. Many take place in cities or on frontiers where cultures meet, clash and trade. It is there you will find the diversity you seek. 

My first novel takes place in 1590s Ireland, in the Queen’s Army. It is a hotbed of war and culture clash. English Anglicans work alongside Irish and Highland Catholics. There are Italian mercenaries and French smugglers. And the Spanish. Boy, are there lots of Spanish. More importantly, able bodied women who work in and with the Queen’s Army. Sometimes, they fight too. 

Don’t Force Historical Characters to Adopt Unrealistic Modern Attitudes

I’ve said this before, but there have always been gay and transgendered people. Why not have a gay or transgendered character in your novel? It would not feel right to me for my characters to adopt modern attitudes about the gay and transgendered. I think that would be going too far. (Although, open minded people always existed.) But wouldn’t it be a lovely subplot to add to your novel if your protagonist discovered one of their friends were gay and have to wrestle with that knowledge? And, as the book moves forward, your character realizes that their friend is their friend and comes to accept them? I would read that book. 

Ethnic Diversity in Historical Fiction – It Comes Naturally

But maybe you really want ethnically diverse characters in your novel. Ok. Then let’s talk about diversity. 

Any story set during the Columbian Exchange is going to have diversity. Native Americans went to Renaissance Europe. (Many, unfortunately, as slaves.) The French, Spanish, Papal and English courts all had ambassadors from the Ottoman Empire. (Turkey.) Those ambassadors brought staffs of servants and slaves from throughout North Africa, the Mideast, and Persia. 

If your story is set later, say the 18th century, the same thing applies. However, now you can add Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, and people from Southeast Asia as potential characters into the mix. The closer to our modern period you get, the more diversity becomes apparent. Mexican miners in 19th century Colorado. Black cowboys and buffalo soldiers. Chinese migrant workers who toiled on the railroad and in San Francisco immigrant communities.  

Is your story set in Medieval Europe? Crusaders sometimes came back to Europe with Armenian and Arab Christian wives and servants. Spain before the Reconquesta was a home for Jewish and Islamic scholars and artist for a millennia. People who came from around the Islamic world. As far south as Timbuktu, and as Far East as Jakarta. That is diversity. 

Remember, adding diversity to your story can be as simple as thinking about outside the box about the culture you’re trying to explore. There have always been diverse characters, we just have to illuminate them. 


Jason Henry Evans:  Life is funny. In 2004 I moved from Los Angeles to Denver, newly married with a desire to be a great teacher and husband. I dedicated myself to public education and realized my heart was not in it. So I moved on. At the same time I stumbled into a creative world of art and literature I now call home. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worthwhile.

Like my Author Page on Facebook: Jason Henry Evans

Follow me on Twitter: @evans_writer

Read my personal blog at www.jasonhenryevans.com

 

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Book Launch Marketing – What Works and What Doesn’t

Readers, today we have installment number eleven of Jason Henry Evans’ series on How to Write and Publish Historical Fiction.  Today he shares book launch marketing, what works and what doesn’t.


OK today we talk about the digital book launch and the things you have to do to make your book financially successful. Now I am going to say some controversial things to say about common ideas about book launch marketing and it might upset you. So this is your trigger warning. 

Things that don’t work

Kirkus Reviews. Among the professional writer community, receiving an excellent Kirkus review is a mark of status. It means you have literary chops. It means you have arrived among your peers as a well thought of writer. 

However . . . 

The vast majority of book readers don’t even know what Kirkus is. They go to Amazon, they look at the section called “Customers who bought this Item also bought . . .”  and the peruse titles like the titles they’ve already bought. 

Look, if you really want a Kirkus review, go get one! But please do not think this is going to help book sales. 

Spamming Private author FB sites or any other sites. Dude. You’re just going to piss people off with this. Stop it. If you’ve been invited into a private fb author group, please know that blasting the same old add about your book is only going to upset people. Besides, why are you trying to sell to other authors? Sell to readers, not authors. 

Book launch parties. Unless your Diana Galbadon or JK Rawlings, planning a book launch party should be a fun event to celebrate you. I have gone to these things to be supportive of other authors. Some will buy $400 in hor d’ourves. I went to one where we got free, premium beer! These parties are great and you should have one. But if you spend $600 bucks on a book launch party, how many books will you have to sell to break even? 

These activities are about you, the writer, celebrating your hard work. You should do them, if you want to. But disabuse yourself of the idea that these things will help you sell books. 

What does work? 

Getting reviews. Many authors use a lovely little tome called The Book Reviewers Yellow Pages by Christine Pinheiro. This book is updated every year. (Currently on edition 8) What I love about this book is it has an extensive list of websites that actually give reviews on new books. If you get twenty to thirty of these websites to read and review your book a couple of wonderful things happen. 

First, your book is now in front of their audience. These are readers from all over the world who now know about your book. They trust these websites and will probably go buy based off of their recommendations. You now have an audience. 

Second, the vast majority of website reviewers will also write a review on Amazon. This is HUGE. Everything I’ve heard from authors is that fifty reviews on Amazon seems to be the magic number. If you can get those from these book review websites, that makes selling your book a lot easier. 

Send out a press release to the sixty or seventy sites you want to review your book about 2-3 months before you launch. Actually read the details in The Book Reviewers Yellow Pages of each website so you know when and how to submit your book copy. (Most take digital copies, a small few only take physical books. Do your research.)

Sign up for Instafreebie. This site is for whale readers. (Readers who will read your entire back catalogue.) If you put up a novella, a long short story, or a chapter or two of your novel on this site, readers will download it and read it. Are you getting sales? No. But you are getting publicity. You can even ask that readers surrender their email address before downloading your piece of historical fiction. This helps with your mailing list, which helps with your sales. 

Write your next book. I was recently at the RMFW conference and I met author independent  David Gaughran. He said something author Susan Spann and others have said before. The biggest marketing tool you have is your next book. Constantly write. Constantly publish. The world is changing and there are readers out there who won’t even consider your book unless you have two sequels out. They want to get to know characters over the long haul. 

Writing multiple books, regardless of the genre, will capture your reader and get them to buy more!  

 


Jason Henry Evans:  Life is funny. In 2004 I moved from Los Angeles to Denver, newly married with a desire to be a great teacher and husband. I dedicated myself to public education and realized my heart was not in it. So I moved on. At the same time I stumbled into a creative world of art and literature I now call home. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worthwhile.

Like my Author Page on Facebook: Jason Henry Evans

Follow me on Twitter: @evans_writer

Read my personal blog at www.jasonhenryevans.com

 

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From Art to Can of Soup – Marketing Your Book

Readers, today we have installment number ten on Jason Henry Evans’ series on How to Write and Publish Historical Fiction.  Today he shares marketing tips.


Wow. Ten months ago I said I wanted to do a series of basic how-to’s for historical fiction. While this was originally conceived as an eight part series, it has grown to ten – yes ten blogs – on how to write and publish your historical fiction.

Over this year we have covered:

  • Story ideas
  • Historical research
  • Story planning
  • Character arcs
  • Publishing goals
  • Writing strategies
  • And a bunch of other stuff.

So now what are we going to talk about? Cover art? How to handle your millions in royalties? Managing the paparazzi in three easy steps? Make-up techniques for television?

Nope. None of that. There is one area we have not covered. It’s the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

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