A Second Book Idea?

Could it be? Have I finally thought of a new book idea? Yes.

A little back story here. I self-published my book more than three years ago. I didn’t come out of college with the goal of securing a good job or traveling the world, I came out with the single goal of writing a book. Some of you will recall the original name of this blog as Write me a Book, John!.

After I published my book I immediately began work on book 2. Cause I’m obviously a prolific author. I soon realized the second time around was different. The drive simply wasn’t there and the story itself wasn’t clicking. I made it about 30,000 words into that first draft of my second book when I abandoned it. My memory tells me I wrote myself into a corner I couldn’t get out of.

Early yesterday morning I came up with a new idea. And who knows, maybe I’ll get started on it sometime soon.

There are plenty of writers out there better than me. Better stories. Better ideas. Better writing backgrounds. Which means I have plenty of room for improvement. Leggo.

What do you do when you’re discouraged with your writing? I did nothing and it’s cost me nearly four years.

A Year After Graduation: My progress

One year ago today my name was announced as I walked across the stage at the Spring Commencement of the University of Houston Downtown. Before we get into what I’ve done in the 365 days since that wonderful day, let me tell you all a little about it.

I woke up extremely early. Around six. Guys, this may be regular for some of you, but I do not EVER wake up this early. I ate a rather large breakfast because the ceremony wasn’t set to begin for another four hours, and then I wouldn’t get to eat for several more after that. Then I did the only thing I could. I got ready.

About five hours later the name John Raymond Guillen, Cum Laude, was announced. I know this happens a gazillion times every year in America, but I came so close to crying on stage in front of about 1,000 graduates and like 20,000 friends and family members. It wasn’t because it was unexpected. Or because I was the first of eight siblings to make it to this day. It was simply because I’d done it. I had maybe 25-30 family members and a few friends there for me. But only three friends went to our little lunch get together afterward, and I told them I’d never forget that they were there. Because it turned into a 13-14 hour day for everyone involved. Mercedes, I love you. Grant and Nathan, same goes for you guys.

I didn’t cry during the ceremony. Or before. It wasn’t until I started reading all the graduation cards I’d gotten that I finally did. I was graduating from college and it was writing that got me to cry. Now let’s see what I’ve done since then.

I wrote a book

This is definitely something to be proud of. The day I received my author proof is still probably the second best day of my life. Behind graduation up there. And the only things that could even come close to it that may be happening within the next decade or so are my wedding day, getting an agent, and getting a publishing contract.

I started a blog

Starting a blog isn’t significant in itself, it’s the people I’ve met from blogging. You all might think I’m crazy, but I seriously love you all. Did I ever think I’d be approaching 1,000 followers, ever? No. Did I ever think I’d talk to so many great people just about everyday? No. I could name like ten of you guys who I thoroughly enjoy talking to, but I don’t want to embarrass anyone. BUT I want to name one. Mahrukh. Oh my goodness. Could you imagine if I’d never started a blog? Then I wouldn’t have found yours. Then we wouldn’t talk. I mean, it’s almost scary. I’m lucky. And so are you. 🙂

But that’s it. I wanted to have so much more by the time this day arrived. I was supposed to have my second book written by January 1. I was supposed to finish writing my current WIP and have another book written by the time 2014 came to an end. I was supposed to be working toward getting an agent by now. But I’m not. And I don’t think I have the time to write another book once I finish the one I’m working on. And I don’t know anything about agents or query letters or anything.

I’m not going to sit here and act like I’m completely disappointed with myself. I’m not. I just wanted more from the last 365 days than I’ve gotten. I need to get with it. And soon. I don’t want 2014 to end up being the year of accomplishing nothing.

I’ll leave you with some pictures.

ImageImage

ImageImageNow I need some words of encouragement from you guys.

Help Wanted!

ImagePhoto Credit: Sports Monger Outdoors

As writers, which I assume that most of you are, we like to think that our writing is something we’re able to do on our own. We can sit alone at our computers for hours without interacting with another human, and we’re okay with that. I know I am. But think about it, is writing really something that we do on our own? Or do we have help at multiple junctures along the way? For me, I NEED all the help I can get because of how new I am to this whole writing thing, but also because I simply couldn’t have accomplished the task of writing a book without the help of others. Yes, it may be bad or have this many typos or whatever, but no one can doubt that it is a book. So as you read today’s post I’d like you to think about who has helped you along your writing journey. Because I’m going to talk about someone who I believe is my greatest supporter.

Introduction

First, let me introduce you. Her name is Stephany. Yes, it’s spelled that way. Isn’t that so cool? Anyway, I first met Stephany at the start of my final semester of college in January 2013. So we haven’t known each other very long. Let me tell you a few fun facts about her so you get an idea of the person I’m talking about. She loves Oreos. She once told me that if she ever got a tattoo, which I don’t think will ever happen, that it would be Penelope Cruz riding a turtle eating an Oreo. Haha! I thought it was hilarious when she said it and still think so now. She’s starting law school in the fall. She says “Oh my stars.” Which I think is the greatest thing. And I’ve never met someone as funny as her who didn’t have to try at all. Oh, and she’s read my book!

The why

Now if I were reading this post I’d probably be asking myself a few questions. Why is she so important that she gets a post written all about her? Or, so y’all are dating, right? Or, what does this have to do with books?

First off, we are just friends. Believe it or not, a guy and girl can be friends once into their twenties. Second, why is she so important? Well I’ll save that one for the third part of this post in just a bit. Lastly, what does this have to do with books? No, she isn’t a writer. She doesn’t have a cool blog like this. She has nothing to do with books or writing or any of the things I post here, except that I can probably count on one or two fingers how many people I know personally who are 100% behind my writing. And she comes in first.

So yeah, maybe you’ll just go on to read another blog somewhere else on the internet because you’re not going to get any cool book info from the rest of this post, but I would encourage you to stay. Because as a writer you likely have someone or multiple someones in your life who you know are always in your corner. I have Stephany. And she’s really about it. Now onto the third portion, which will tell you why I’m writing this post in the first place.

The letter

This last part will simply be a letter written from me to her. Why? Because it’s her birthday! And sending a stupid text message just doesn’t cut it for some people. So, here it is.

Stephany,

Honestly, I hesitated to include this part of the post because of how many people could potentially read it. But what the heck, right? Let me start with a story I’ve actually never told you. I never told you because it’s so embarrassing and because I honestly thought we wouldn’t talk much after I graduated. So glad I was wrong about that part.

It was one of the very first days of the semester in Dr. Cavanaugh’s class and we’d been assigned our first reading of the semester. On the day we were to discuss it you asked if I’d actually read what we were supposed to. I said no. But in my head this is what I was thinking, “Why in the world is this girl talking to me?! She’s like…pretty. I’m just awkward and weird.” Hahaha so yeah. Hopefully you laughed a little at that because I’ve always thought it was hilarious.

Now for a little more seriousness. Sorry, but we’re both sarcastic every other day of the year. What do I want to tell you on this rather public forum for many eyes to see? Hmm that’s a tough one. But not really. So I’ll just start rambling a bit. First, I’m sorry I made you BUY my book from me. What the heck was I thinking? And then you had to buy me lunch when I didn’t have my wallet. I think I owe you. Feel free to make a list as you read this. Second, you are undoubtedly my biggest supporter when it comes to my writing. And I know I don’t let you ask about it or anything, but I don’t think I’ve ever once believed since the first time I told you I wanted to write books after graduation that you weren’t sincerely interested. So that’s…well it’s a bigger deal than you could possibly imagine. It’s HUGE. Because you don’t have to be. And you get nothing out of it. Just ask every other person I know. I can’t even talk about it with anyone because they sincerely don’t care. But at least now you know why I was so eager to write a character after you in my second book.

Third, oh, I was kind of disappointed that you didn’t invite me to your graduation in December. I would have loved to go. Even though someone I invited to mine didn’t go. Hmm. Who could that be??? But that’s okay. Oh, AND when you read this you better follow my blog via email. You don’t even have to read the posts, just do it because I was awesome enough to write this for you. Okay? Okay.

Now let me be serious just a little while longer. Remember my signing back in November? You were really great about helping me with that. So thank you. Thank you for actually taking the time to read my book. I’m pretty sure last summer when I was still writing it that I only texted you about my writing. Thank you for putting up with that. Thank you for the constant sarcasm. Because who likes being serious all the time? Thanks for being an amazing person and even better friend. Okay, enough with all this serious stuff. Wait, one more. Thanks for just being my friend. I could make a list of the close friends I’ve had over the last five years or so who completely lost interest in me, some with reason, and others without. I’m not sure of the definition of a true friend, but I’d bet it’s you. So thank you. Okay, now I’m done.

One more thing. I told you a few weeks ago that I’d probably have about 750 followers when I posted this, well I’m actually just under 900 now. Sorry!

It’s your birthday! La La La La La. Just imagine me spinning in circles while jumping on my bed. Singing too. So, you’re getting kind of old now. I mean, 22. Start checking your hair because you might have some grey coming in! What rhymes with 22? Blue’s Clues, did you ever watch that? Or…Barbecue. Everyone loves that. Or…choo-choo! Hahaha

All sarcasm aside and in complete sincerity, happy birthday, Stephany. I hope you have the greatest day.

JohnRaymond <– 🙂

ImagePhoto Credit: Hotel Berna


 

Now I need YOUR help, fellow WordPress blogger. If you read this far, then you better be wishing her a happy birthday in the comments. Because, after all, you likely have someone exactly like her in your corner who you appreciate a whole lot more than they could possibly know. So do it! Please. I can promise you that Stephany would greatly appreciate it.

 

 

 

Where the Magic Happens

I surely hope you weren’t thinking of something else when you read that title. If so, get your mind out of the gutter! Why would I be talking about that? Ha. Just kidding. I actually don’t like this title because I’ve seen it so many times for the exact post I’m writing. But I couldn’t think of anything catchy as I sat in my chair to write. So you’re stuck with it. Just deal.

So if you haven’t figured it out yet, the topic of this post will be to discuss my personal writing space. Get it now, “Where the magic happens?” Yeah. I hope so. Even though there hasn’t been much magic happening lately. I see so many writers on here talking about writing this many words and that many, and I’m just like, “Where’s the TV? I need my shows.” Oh man, that sounds so bad. But it’s so true. Agents of Shield and The Following and Ink Master and Nashville are all so great. Stop it. Don’t look at me like that. I love writing. But I love TV. Let’s call it research. I’m researching the writing of the writers for those shows. YEP!

Okay. Now let’s get serious again.

Image

As you can see, I definitely didn’t try to clean up before snapping the photo. No point in giving you guys a fake-ish picture, right? Right. Before I go into detail as to what exactly we have here, let me first tell you what I mean by magic. This is where I write every chapter of my second book. This is where all current and future editing will be done on said book. This is where every blog post is written. This is also where pointless internet surfing takes place. Eh. I’m not perfect.

So, what do we have here? First, there’s my UHD diploma! Seriously, no matter where I write or live or whatever in the future, I’m quite certain that I’ll always have this bad boy staring me back in the face as I write. I used to have this space in another room and it was hanging up on the wall, but I haven’t gotten around to hanging it up a second time. I kinda like it where it is. Two quick fun facts before I continue: I ran to the door when I knew the postal man was delivering this. He told me congratulations. Second, on my actual graduation day almost a year ago now I didn’t cry until I we were all eating at a restaurant and I started reading all the cards I got. And it was those ugly bawling kinda tears. They were all laughing. And crying. A bunch of people laughing and crying. That sounds odd. Moving on.

Then we have a lamp there. He gives me light. Ha.

Then we have two notebooks. The one on the left actually has all my blog post ideas. I just did a quick count. There are 29 of them on there now. I’ve written 17 already.  So if you ever think I don’t take my blogging seriously, think again. The other notebook on the right is my tally from my shelfie post from a week ago. It took so long to figure out all the series and authors and standalones I had. I went from memory even though some of the books on the shelf have been there since as early as 2008. That’s a lifetime ago. I was a sophomore in high school!

You see that little black box just to the right of the laptop? That would be my college class ring. I love that thing. It’s actually the most expensive purchase I’ve ever made myself. It’s 10k gold, if you’re wondering. And it’s so shiny. And HUGE. Seriously, I hate wearing watches or rings or anything, but this thing is giant. I don’t even wear it. I don’t wear it to work because my hands get dirty while I’m there and obviously I don’t need it at the gym. So it just sits here. It’s okay.

Then we have three books on the desk. London Bridges by James Patterson, which you’ll recall was my most recent read. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I need to read this. And then that red one would be my own. That was the copy I read when I was preparing my manuscript for the ABNA competition. I think it’s a little dusty.

Finally, we have my laptop. I keep telling myself that I’m going to buy a new one, but obviously I haven’t. I bought this when I was a junior in high school. This guy is really bulky and runs on Windows Vista, I think. I’ve never had a major issue with it and it’ll always be my baby because I wrote my first book on it! Whenever I do get a new one I’ll probably keep this one and store it forever. I’m a little sentimental.

So there you have it. My writing space. No fancy writing setups. No picturesque window to look out. Not much of anything except for what I need. So tell me about yours! If you’re describing it you better be vivid. Cause you’re supposed to be a writer, right? Or, if you want to be even more awesome than everyone else, tweet me a picture! I don’t think you can put pictures in comments on here. I don’t think. Click here to go to my Twitter profile. Hey, while you’re at it you can go ahead and follow your favorite blogger on that Twitter thing.

Novel Writing: How do you name your characters?

Photo Credit: YA Highway

If you all haven’t noticed I love my posts to ask you questions about books or writing or publishing or something in between. It gives me a chance to interact with every one of you who chooses to offer your insight. And I do mean insight, because yes I’ve written a book that I love and am working on my second, but I’m always looking for advice on how I can become a better writer and I’ve already gotten so much from you guys just in the last month or so from your comments and feedback. So let’s talk about naming characters, shall we?

There are SO many aspects to a good book, right? The first line. The title. The people who made it happen behind the scenes. The storyline. The dialogue. AND the names of all the characters. I would never go so far as to say any part of writing a book is easy, but writing the actual book is probably the easiest of everything. Somewhere in there we have the difficult task of naming characters. It’s not the most difficult thing you’ll do, but you best believe that it won’t be the easiest.

My Philosophy

Honestly, I kind of cheated when it came to naming characters in my first book. Cheated, you’re thinking. How?! Hold your horses. I named several characters and based them, in part,  on real people I am lucky enough to know. If you’ve followed my blog since last year then you already know this. My reasoning was that these people are important to me, and their names are already perfect! I mean, I just let their parents do the hard part twenty something years ago. I couldn’t just let a perfect name go to waste. No. That would be bad writing. Here’s a list of some of the character names in my first and second books:

Book One

Andrew Banks

Sydney Durham

Nathan Fox

Mercedes Vega

Carlos Vega

Alejandra Vega

Hunter David

Book Two

Stephany Alvarez

Mark Giles

Mason Cook

Chad Green

Now this list isn’t exhaustive and I won’t tell you which names I came up with and which ones I didn’t. That makes it more fun. But four of the names are the exact names of people I know. And one is just the first name. I dare you to figure out which ones are not real.

So you know my philosophy, stealing, now I want to know yours. How do you name your characters in your book? And tell me some names you’ve come up with and we can compare!

Tenth Chapter Benchmark

number10

At last, I have some actual book stuff to tell you guys about. If you’ve been with me long enough you’ll recall that I revealed some stats about my first book last summer once I reached the conclusion of the tenth chapter. Ten is such a nice round number and it gives me the opportunity now to compare where I was in my first book through ten chapters to where I am in my second. But first let me tell you about the chapter.

I know it’s been some time since I posted about MY book, so let me give you a short review of what’s happened so far. Andrew is hired by a prominent activist who needs some additional security. Andrew and Sydney have decided to add to their tiny family. A major event hosted by Andrew’s client is interrupted by some very unwelcome guests. And the case is sending Andrew out of the city of Houston for the first time.

In this chapter Andrew and Sydney make a major decision regarding their relationship. The chapter is playful and happy and serious and argumentative all at once.

Obviously that wasn’t an in depth review of what’s happened, but all of that is in previous blog posts. Feel free to play around on here if you want to know more about the first nine chapters.

Now, to the stats! And I offered up a comparison between my first book numbers and my second.

Book Two (Book One)

Word Count: 23,561 (22,885)

Chapters: 10 (10)

Average Chapter Length: 2,356 (2,288)

Total Editing Time: 24 hours 34 minutes (27 hours 54 minutes)

Total Pages (in Word): 76 (70)

Average Length Spent on Each Chapter: 2 hours 27 minutes  (2 hours 45 minutes)

Blog Tour Info

I mentioned a few posts ago that I would be going on a blog tour to help promote my first book. I also mentioned that I would have the details of said tour at some point. Well, I have them to share.

I’m using Sage’s Blog Tours for my tour and it will span the dates of January 6-27. You might be thinking that I have plenty of time to find tour hosts and stuff like that, but since my tour will have a heavy focus on reviews it really isn’t that much time at all.

Before I give you the link to possibly become a tour host, I’d first like to tell you guys what I’ll be needing (even though it’s clearly displayed if click the link.)

The tour will be 15-20 stops and I’m hoping for at least 3/4 of those to be reviews. Of course, I’m not the one working behind the scenes to make that happen, but that’s at least what I’m hoping for at this point. So should you have some desire to be a tour host then you’ll obviously be receiving a FREE copy of my book for review. So there’s that!

The remaining stops will likely be a combination of guest posts made by me or author interviews. Also, it helps if you currently write reviews, so if you’d like to be a host but you don’t review books then feel free to allow a guest post or schedule an interview. It goes without saying that your blog must be book related to participate.

If you’re interested all you have to do is click here! Check out my cool banner.

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