Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Writers: Just Say YES When Opportunity Knocks

By Jonathan Rosen, @houseofrosen

Part of the How They Do It Series

JH: Opportunities are all around us--if we're willing to take advantage of them. Please help me welcome Jonathan Rosen to the lecture hall today, to share some thoughts and advice on why writers should say "yes."

Jonathan Rosen is a transplanted New Yorker, who now lives with his family in sunny, South Florida. He spends his “free” time chauffeuring around his three kids. Some of Jonathan’s fondest childhood memories are of discovering a really good book to dive into, in particular the Choose Your Own Adventure Series, and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Jonathan is proud to be of Mexican-American descent, although neither country has been really willing to accept responsibility. He is the author of Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies, which is out now, and the sequel, From Sunset Till Sunrise, coming August 21. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, FromtheMixedUpFiles.Com, The Tuesday Writers and his own website, WWW.HouseofRosen.com

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Take it away Jonathan...

First off, I want to thank Janice for having me do a guest post here at Fiction University. It’s such a great and informative site, and I’m thrilled I got the opportunity to be involved, which also kind of leads me into the topic of this post.

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to be a panelist at the Tampa Comic Con. What does that have to do with a post about writing? Well, it set me off thinking about the reason I did it. Shortly after I received my first contract, I received some advice. It’s not new advice, but it’s writing advice nonetheless. It’s also not something you haven’t heard before, but I started thinking, recently, about how it’s impacted me. And, that’s just by saying, “Yes”, to things.

I think for writers, especially at the beginning of their careers, it’s important to start branching out and putting yourself out there. Let yourself be seen. For example, getting back to the Tampa Comic Con, I was there talking about Sci/Fi, and Fantasy in Middle Grade. That’s something that I probably wouldn’t have sought out to do a year ago. I had never done anything like that before and had no idea what to expect. Still, it sounded like fun, and it wound up being just that. I was joined by two other authors, Christina Farley, and Jan Eldredge. We had over thirty people come out to hear us speak about our books, and the genre. It was a great way to reach new audiences.

Being there, made me think of some of the other things I’d participated in, over the past year, by saying Yes to things. If I had been left to my own devices, I would have been content to stay home and write and not bothered doing anything. But, sometimes it’s good to get out of your comfort zone.

This Comic Con was the third event I’d done with Christina. I met her during a literacy fair, which was held at a school, hours away from my house.At first, I was hesitant to go, but I had a great time, and as a matter of fact, I met a lot of great authors at that event. It was a great way to connect with people I might have never had the chance to meet, if I hadn’t done that event. One of the authors I met, Jeff Strand, even wound up blurbing my book.

After that first event, Christina asked me to do an event at a different school, also hours away from me, but I agreed to do it. Both were great experiences for me, where I got to interact with a lot of kids. I wound up selling a lot of books, but that was almost besides the point. The kids at all these events were inquisitive and loved being able to talk to authors.

I remembered how awestruck I was meeting authors, when I was a kid, and immediately went out and bought their books. It was a great feeling to think that I might have inspired some kids in the same way. Just by having some simple interaction. It’s fun to think that each of these kids is now a potential reader.

It all sounds so simple, but it really isn’t. Even though I had been a teacher, I was still nervous about doing school visits and events. But, I decided to just go for it. Unless there was a scheduling conflict, I agreed to whoever asked me to do something.

A lot of these events were with other authors. And it’s so important to be able to connect with people who are in the same situation as you. People who know what you’re dealing with. Even though writing is such a solitary profession, it’s nice to be able to talk with other writers. Nobody, but another writer, knows what you’re going through. Deadlines. Rejections. Edits. Sales. Etc. It’s great to be able to hear how other writers cope with the same issues. None of that happens, if I hadn’t said “Yes”, to begin with.

And then, it’s nice to be able to reciprocate. So, when I was invited to the Comic Convention, Christina was the first author I reached out to, about being on the panel with me. Jan, I reached out to, because she was part of the same SCBWI chapter as I was, and I thought her book sounded great.

Not every event is big. Some are rather small. But, I’ve said yes, to each and every one of them, time permitting.

Friendships are important. For the most part, I have seen writers being really nice to other writers. Offering advice and wanting to help each other out. Of course, it’s not always the case, but when it hasn’t been, I think it’s the exception, and not the rule.

And, I’m not just talking about doing events. When my agent presents projects to me, I’ve said “Yes” to just about every one, as well. Not every project is equal, but I’ve had some fun doing them, and have been pleasantly surprised by some of the results.

I am not saying to just agree to every single thing. Think it out, and see if it’s something for you, but I am saying don’t just turn something down, out of hand.

I have received valuable experience, great advice, and lasting friendships, just from agreeing to do some events, and being around other authors.

So, this coming year, think twice before you think you can’t do something, and let me know how it goes!

About From Sunset Till Sunrise: Devin Dexter #2

Devin Dexter and his cousin Tommy just saved the city of Gravesend from the menace of magical, malicious Cuddle Bunnies brought to life by the warlock, Herb. But there’s no rest for the wicked, as a new mysterious neighbor moves in across the street. At night. With a coffin. Tommy immediately jumps to conclusions as he thinks this can only mean one thing: Vampires.

Devin isn’t so quick to believe, as he is struck by the neighbor’s daughter, a girl his age. Even though Tommy points out that they have never seen her during the day. Yet when she invites him to a dance at her school—the Nosfer Academy of Talented Understudies—how can Devin say no? Tommy, though, realizes that this is an opportunity. After tackling a wizard last winter, surely they can protect Gravesend from some measly vampires, right?

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1 comment:

  1. Does anybody write about real life stories instead of vampires and strange worlds? YOU KNOW, NOVELS? (not to denigrate fantasy and science fiction)