Category: The Writing Process

Advice on planning, drafting, and revising the written word. Industry information regarding branding, publishing, and marketing. This includes my personal experience founding Rune Bear, a digital literary magazine devoted to flashy weird fiction.

Story Ideas

One of my students wrote me a list of story ideas. Here they are:

  • A girl turns into an animal. She becomes vegan when she’s human again.
  • Time freezes then a General of the War moves people so that his side wins.
  • High School Basketball game but they all have telekinesis.
  • In the Civil War era, the battle from the spectators’ perspective. (There’s an additional note in parentheses that “people used to watch the battle.”)
  • Lawyer and Doctors switch bodies for the day.
  • Mom and Dad switch bodies.
  • On Halloween, everyone who dresses up becomes their costume.
  • One day, walls start talking and tell all about what’s going on in jail.
  • Utopian society and there’s a Government meeting about what color the university should be.

On the back of the page is one last idea:

  • All the founding fathers resurrect and go to war.

Naming Rune Bear

My hench-editors (it’s my wifeStuart, and his wife) and I kept rejecting names for a literary genres-remix website we were envisioning (and one poor guy had been building pro bono). For the longest time we had our fat hearts set on Idiosync (short for ‘idiosyncrasy’) but the title was too lazy and it sounded like ‘Idiot Sink.’ Then we wanted Idiot Sink, but that impulse didn’t last. AstroLack was too spacey. Los Orcus was too fantasy. We wanted less swords-and-sorcery and more swords-and-sandworms. No to Wyrdfic (is ‘weird’ gender-biased or something?), Grot Gear, Desmorious (I was down), Wristcanon (people would think we spelled ‘cannon’ wrong), Battle Droid (‘droid’ is trademarked by LucasFilm Ltd.).

For a while we settled on Rune Beard. We wondered if Nordic facial hair would evoke a space pirate captain firing plasma bolts at sword-wielding mechs on distant asteroids (it was the Warhammer 40,000 side of us that connected runes with sci-fi in the first place), but instead our test audience pictured a neckbeard playing WoW, and incidentally, they weren’t wrong. Dumping Rune Beard was emotional for me, because Alyssa, Stuart, and I had devised an awesome icon to accompany our logo—a bewhiskered Odinesque whose face was comprised of two Anglo-Saxon runes that corresponded with our initials (the scarred-eye is the jera, or j-rune, and my first name is Jared; the crooked nose is the sigel, or s-rune, i.e. Stuart). Being boys, we didn’t consider adding a rune for Alyssa.

Here’s Alyssa’s mock-up:

However, while I was pining over Rune Beard in my notebook, I noticed that without the “D” there was another great name for our mag—Rune Bear. The domain wasn’t taken, and there weren’t any rune bears out there except for the Runeclaw Bear in Magic the Gathering. The others were hesitant but the name grew on them. I went ahead and drew a rough sketch of what I was envisioning for the mascot. (Although these details weren’t in the sketch, I knew the bear had to be blue and have a rune in its mouth).

I finally turned to an old friend of mine, Phil Kiner, to create the mascot we have today:

Writ in Water Updates

Last year I launched a student magazine, Writ in Water, through HBU’s Academic Success Center. At the time I was the center’s Writing Coordinator, a position that involved working with staff and tutors to assist students with academic writing. That was, after all, the mission of the ASC—”to facilitate student academic success.” But I also wanted to promote student success through creative writing. All throughout Fall and Winter, I worked diligently with my Assistant Director, Samantha Bottoms, and a dedicated corps of tutors to set up a submission and reading period and finally a physical print of the magazine.

After I graduated from Houston Baptist University, I stepped down from my role as the Writing Coordinator and redevoted my full attention to my career as a high school teacher. Call it a year of rest where I no longer had to be a teacher by day, student by night, and writing coordinator in-between. Along with my ASC retirement, I passed on Writ in Water, a campus literary magazine that I founded, to an amazing dude named Seth Grant.

This semester I’ve been sneaking into a Roman History course (all right, fine, I’m not that cool—the professor lets me swing by), and just imagine my profound sense of place when I discovered that HBU will be continuing the Writ in Water series!


I’m excited.

Author Interview at Theme of Absence

Theme of Absence runs an author interview series alongside its original fiction called, well, Theme of Absence Author Interviews. These dialogues employ the same questions every week, allowing readers to scan questions and spend more time on author replies. If you want a mixture of pragmatic and wild writing advice, I recommend a chai tea with a pinch of milk (I guess I’m not sure how milk works?), a comfy chair or lap, and one hour spent (c’mon, don’t be cheap) in the magazine’s archive (located here).

Oh, and don’t forget to read my interview for “The Spheres.”

Categories and Tags

I’ve been trying to figure out how to reorganize my WordPress Categories and Tags to create a consistent index and to maximize readership.

I’m not sure if I’ve been successful, but I’d like to share my decisions (so far).

Categories, of course, are broad subjects, while tags are intended for specific details. A category might be Recipethe corresponding tags Curry, Indian Food, Vegan, Kid Friendly.
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CONTENT

My Table of Contents mock-up for Writ in Water with fictional authors and titles. I’m excited to report my Editorial Board has reached the point where I can fill these slots with actual submissions, but I’m sad I have to lose these placeholders.

First post about Writ in Water

This past week I opened the submission period for Houston Baptist University’s debut literary journal Writ in Water. The submission period started on the 8th of November (i.e. on the same day as the US Presidential Election), will conclude on the 8th of February, 2017, and the journal will be published digitally on May 1st. Writ will be accepting short stories and poetry, and although the publication is affiliated with a Christian college, the submissions will not have to be religious in nature. Instead, Writ’s editorial board is seeking literature that combines good writing and the human experience.

Writ is the result of months of deliberate planning and meetings, but I have wanted to start a literary journal for a long time – since childhood, in fact, when I first read an issue of The New Yorker and wondered about the lives of editors-in-chief. When I began working as the Writing Coordinator of HBU’s Academic Success Center, I realized that my life goal could also benefit the college community, especially its emerging writers and artists. The Success Center, after all, doesn’t only serve struggling students with their grades – success comes in a variety of forms, including publication.

The Academic Success Center and HBU Administration were very supportive of the journal. My conflict was naming the thing. Trouvaille, which is French for a lucky find or discovery by chance, was considered, along with Numinous, a word that means a strong spiritual moment or the presence of divinity. But Writ in Water had three aspects which won out in the end:

Aspect One) On Mount Sinai, as recounted in the book of Exodus, Moses received two tablets of covenant law. These Laws were God-writ and therefore eternal. From this we have derived the idiom “nothing is written in stone” to signify that nothing else is permanent, perpetual, or predictable.

Aspect Two) The phrase “writ in water” comes from John Keats’ deathbed request to not include his name on his gravestone. Instead, the young feverish poet who “foresaw his death with brutal clarity” wanted only the mysterious line: “Here lies One Whose Name was Writ in Water.”

Aspect Three) The Bible, too, has a context for water, as God’s Word, as God’s Intervention, as the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 44:3 says that God will “pour out water on the thirsty lands and streams;” Corinthians 12:13 that “we were all baptized into one body… we were all made to drink of one Spirit;” and Jesus says in John 3:5 that “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.” Appropriate metaphors for a Baptist institution.

From these wells I draw my inspiration.

Reference

Stacey, Michelle. “Writ in Water: The enduring mystery of Keats’s last words.” The Paris Review, 23 February 2016.

Shirley Geok-Lin Lim


Shirley Geok-Lin Lim is one of my CCS Professors. Our class had lunch the other day and talked about writing. Here are some of her thoughts.

On balancing:

“I do this little dance. I’m a teacher nine to ten hours a day, but I’ll only be a poet for five minutes. It’s wrong. I either have to quit teaching to be a poet, or quit poetry to be a teacher.”

On the muse:

“The muse does not wait for you. If you say I’ll come back later, she’ll say goodbye. See you.”

On guilt:

“It’s always the back of my mind, that I could be writing more. I would write better if I gave it more time. It’s a nagging sense, an uncomfortable sense. Like I’m breaking promises.”

On professors:

“Some people get older and become calloused. Fossils. We need young people to keep us going.”