Posts Tagged ‘Jason Henry Evans’

Sitting Alone in the Darkness

By: Jason Henry Evans

Three weeks ago I fulfilled a lifetime dream of publishing my first novel. I decided to self-publish my first novel for a variety of reasons. However, if I’m honest with myself, it simply was the right time. See, I have been very fortunate in the writing game. I have met men and women who have published 5, 10, even 40 novels. They’ve had short stories in a dozen anthologies. Many of these people have given me sage pieces of advice. They have held my hand, gently told me when my story was bad, and inspired me to go forward. But there comes a time when you have to do it on your own. Whether your self-publishing a novel or you have a contract with a big four publisher there comes a time when you have to be alone. You have to put the words on the paper and be honest with yourself about the story you’re trying to tell.

That can be a dark place. But it was in that dark place, all alone, that I realized I couldn’t depend on anybody but myself. That was when I decided to self-publish a manuscript I put aside a year earlier. At that point, it wasn’t about fame, or financial success. It was about reaching the next level in my writing.

A Giving Community

One of the short comings of the writing community here in Colorado is that everyone is so giving. You reach out and people will genuinely help you as much as they can. The writers here—regardless of their levels of success—are so warm. But for me, it became a crutch. I could always ask for and get a pep talk or a piece of good advice. But I wasn’t doing the work. That all changed ten months ago.

Re-Writes

I went back into my writing cave. I edited, did re-writes, and commissioned a cover artist. When that cover ended up being awful and the artist stopped returning my emails, I went out and bought another cover—a better one. My wife and some close friends already read my manuscript and they thought it was good.

Become an Author

So, I paid a copy editor, I sent it out to more beta-readers, and I learned how to format both a physical book and an ebook. Did I have help? Absolutely. But I was the one who had figure out the minutia of book formatting. I was the one who had to go over every line for typos and homonyms. You know what? The entire process was frightening. But I had to do it. I had to get to the next level. I had to become an author.

I write this not to praise myself. But to tell you, gentle reader, that you can do it too. But a large part of that process, I have discovered, is sitting and doing the work by yourself. It will be lonely. For me? It was scary, too. But isn’t that the point?

Finding the Magic

In that dark place where it’s just you and your story and you don’t know how to solve that plot problem, or format your table of contents, that’s where the magic is. That’s where your mettle is tested. That’s where you stop treading water and start swimming. But no one is going to write your story for you. Jeff Goins once said that “Art needs an audience.” Don’t deny your audience your art, no matter how scary or full of drudgery the process may be. Finish your art and accept the consequences.

If you do, I promise you, holding your book in your hands will make all your struggles worth it.


Jason Henry 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.

Sweet Success for Jason Henry Evans

Congratulations to Jason Evans! The Galloglass, a historical fiction, will release on July 10, 2019 by Grant Street Publishing.

Lt. Philip Williams thought his career as an English mercenary was over after surviving the sack of Calais by the Spanish in 1596. If only he knew his troubles were just beginning. While recovering in a hospital in Antwerp, a distant relative arrives to dangle an irresistible offer: The Royal Irish Army. All of Ireland is in open revolt and Queen Elizabeth is going to war. She needs experienced officers and Philip accepts. Once in Ireland, Philip meets two Irish women. Nualla asks for his aid while Colleen asks for his heart. Will he be able to protect either of them from the coming violence? Meanwhile Irish rebels and Scottish mercenaries raid and the survivors whisper the name of a monster: Solomon Red Beard O’Donnell. Will Philip and his friends have enough time to turn Irish peasants into soldiers? If they don’t, Solomon Red Beard will spread the rebellion and Ireland will be lost.

Jason Henry Evans
Jason Henry Evans

Jason always wanted to be a writer; he just didn’t know it. After attending college and working in education, Jason’s life changed when he fell in love with the Fetching Mrs. Evans. After over a decade as a teacher in public and private schools, he discovered the wonderful writing community in Colorado, where he still lives. Jason is an educator, and a historian (as well as a bon vivant,) who is active in the Colorado writing community as a teacher and speaker. Visit Jason’s website for more about Jason and his publication.

The Gallowglass: ISBN; 978-1-0730504-5-1, 129,000 words, Ages 15+, Pre-order your copy today! 


Do you have a Sweet Success you would like to share? Click here to get started, or send an email to: SweetSuccess@pikespeakwriters.com

Sweet Success is coordinated by Managing Editor, Kathie “KJ” Scrim.

Diversity in Historic Fiction

by: Jason Henry Evans

A couple of Fridays ago my wife and I sat down and watched “Always Be My Maybe.” A good, old fashioned romantic comedy about a hyper successful woman whose best friend and personal assistant arranges for her to run into a mutual friend they hadn’t seen since high school.

The movie was funny in unexpected ways. It was lighthearted. Both the male and female leads were quirky and flawed – which made it easy for the audience to like them. And since we already liked them it was easy for us to root for them to fall in love. It was a little formulaic in the 3rd act, but considering rom-com’s are a dying breed, I’ll take a good one when I can.

So why am I writing about a romantic comedy produced by Netflix? What does this have to do with writing historical fiction?

Because this movie was DIVERSE. I mean SUPER diverse. The male lead was Korean-American and the female lead was Vietnamese-American. The mutual friend who set them up was African-American and gay and pregnant! The male lead’s dad was a diabetic. The male lead’s best friends all played in a hip-hop band in San Francisco.

All this diversity was done so effortlessly. It did not feel self-conscious or awkward. The characters’ diverse backgrounds enriched and informed the story. It brought context to the main characters upbringing and personal flaws. It just made sense.

And did I mentioned none of it felt awkward? It just was. This is how diversity in your fiction should feel. Breezy, yet important to the plot and character development.

So how do we get there?

Remember that diversity literally means diverse. Uncomfortable with having different ethnic groups in your fiction because you feel someone’s going to scream at you? Start with something you’re comfortable with. There have been many great characters with physical disabilities. What about having a character who is morbidly obese? Try having a character in a wheel chair or one who uses crutches. What about diversity of age? In many stories the mentor of the protagonist is always someone older. But once the mentor is gone, everyone slides into the same age range as the protagonist? Why? Why not have a minor character in their sixties or seventies? It would be quite unique.

Writing a military historical taking place before the 19th century? Remember civilians followed the army to provide services. Everything from the washing of laundry to commissioning new armor. Many of those who followed the army were women. (Heck, English Crusaders took their washer-women with them to Palestine and by all accounts they were treated like the mothers of the army.)

Diversity doesn’t have to overwhelm your story. It doesn’t have to be self-important or stuffy. It should be natural and obvious to everyone. Start with something you’re comfortable with. See how that story turns out. Good luck!


Jason Henry Evans

Jason Evans wanted to be a writer his entire life. He just didn’t know it. He has been an educator in public & private schools for twelve years. He has earned Double bachelors from UC Santa Barbara, teaching credentials from Cal-State Los Angeles, and an MA from UC Denver. He has two short stories published and is the editor-in-chief for Man-gazine. He lives in Denver with the Fetching Mrs. Evans and his three dogs and one haughty cat. 

Follow Jason on Twitter @evans_writer. Like his Author Facebook Page, or sign up for his newsletter at www.jasonhenryevans.com

His debut novel, The Gallowglass, releases July 10th. Details are here.

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.