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Happy Holidays, everyone! Hopefully everyone intends to unplug and have some good RL times.

We'd like to welcome our new members:
:iconjoanfarley:  :icondeliriumgothique:  :icongodzilla2003:  :iconblackcherryangel:  :iconhana-kuro594:  :iconskeletonboy:

And our new Co-Founder:

They've joined us in our journey to make the leap to pro! We're exploring ways to build a creative career, using whatever tools we have on hand.

If you've been reading the journals and articles, you've probably been getting an inkling of a sometimes-scary truth: being an artist basically means you're an entrepreneur.  But no worries! Entrepreneurs experience more success when they support each other, and that's what this group is for.

If you haven't already, take the poll I posted yesterday. The popular response is pretty clear so far: we have mostly writers in this group. That's great, because now we know exactly who we're running this group for. Expect the language to change slightly across the group accordingly. If you're an artist, don't feel left out. Your questions are still welcome and still relevant to the rest of the group. The two fields are, as you probably already know, very similar in the practical and creative sense.

Also check out: "Getting Exposure for Your Art Series"

NOTE: From now on all articles and interviews will be submitted as journal entries. Also, questions will be answered in the comments instead of in the journal entry. After experimenting a bit with the format (cuz that's what I do) I've determined to just use the technology in the way it was designed. 'Nuff said.

Interview with TarienCole

Abstract: Let’s start off with some basic regarding your writing - what you do, how long you've done it, why you do it and what your goals are?

TarienCole: What do I do? I write fantasy in several flavors, currently Historical Fantasy (The Aurori Saga), Urban Fantasy (Silenced Thunder), and Steampunk/Gaslight Fantasy (A Griffin's Tale). I've also worked up backgrounds for an epic fantasy for someday, and a Weird West story, that I've posted a couple character sketches from. For NaNoWriMo I'm working on a Sci-Fi Space Opera titled "The Mimic's Mirror." So I'd say my interests run the gamut of Speculative Fiction (and for reading, well beyond). I also write non-fiction in history, politics, and theology (I have a Masters in Biblical Studies and wrote a thesis for that back in the day).

As for how long I've been writing? I'm 42 now, and I started story-telling when I was in the sixth grade, though mostly as an extension of role-playing and DMing until about 7 years ago, when I started crafting stories, first in Historical Fiction, and then moving into fantasy. The story that sparked my first serious idea was Neil Stephenson's "The Baroque Cycle." It gave me the idea of working a tale where the world the common folk of the 16th century 'believed' to be true actually was real. So Grimm Tales, neo-classic Vampires, Fair Folk, and Golem legends found their way into The Aurori Saga, along with a healthy dose of a magic system that is a cross between my own invention and what I can glean from actual period sources as to what John Dee and those of his ilk actually practiced. Since then, I've branched out into other stories, but the same universe (though my Steampunk is on another world). My sci-fi is the first story I've written that is actually in another universe, and of course, there's no magic--only sufficiently advanced technology. ;) So while I've been writing for ages, I've been serious about the craft for the past decade.

Why do I write? Because I like sharing stories and examining the human condition in extraordinary environments. I feel like I have a way of sharing ideas of honor and character without patronizing or preaching. But most of all, I write because I feel like I have a story to tell, and I want as many people to read it as I can, because I think it's worth telling. At the end of the day, I find writing fun--editing not so much. ;)

What are my goals? I'd love to get published, preferably traditionally. I don't believe in paying for the right to have my own work seen. I'm curious, but not comfortable yet, with e-pubbing. Though I might find it a viable alternative soon(ish). But for me, the goal for each story is to craft it so that it is professional quality, and then beat the door to the Lit Agent down and make then read it. Maybe I'm kidding myself, but I think I have the talent to do that, though I'm not  unaware of the lottery element to that path.

Abstract: What are you doing now to forward your dreams of supporting yourself with your art, and how is deviantArt a part of that goal?

TarienCole: Well, I'm writing & editing pretty much constantly. I also have made a couple attempts at submitting to agents, and will again with another work after the holidays.

deviantArt has been profitable to me because I've met a small group of people who have been willing to take the time to seriously interact with my work. BetaReaders was very helpful that way. They've helped me refine my style

Abstract: When will you know that you have "enough" practice to turn pro? When you do, what will be your first step?

TarienCole:  Without trying to sound presumptuous, I know I have enough practice now. Not that my writing is perfect, but then I find editing errors and things I consider mistakes in many published works as well. Novels are too long to be flawless, and editing has been something the houses have cut back on for more than a decade. Their mentality now is the marketplace will 'edit' the author. I've had enough feedback to know I can write, and I'm objective enough to say while I'm not Jim Butcher, I can spin a tale people want to read. It's just a matter of hitting the right door at the right time.

Again, I've already taken [the step]. The hurdle is getting a grade A query that attracts the attention of the agents. Some authors find an agent right away, others carry a manuscript they believe in for 10 years or more before they get through the door. There's a bit of the lottery to it, and living in SW Missouri, I don't have regular access to agents for 'face time' at conventions and such to bypass the slush pile.

Abstract:What are you currently doing to break into the publishing world, and how is deviantArt or other social tools helping you? Also, tell me more about BetaReaders. I use beta readers myself but the way you put that it makes me think there is a specific group with that name.

TarienCole:  For the traditional publishing, there's only one way to break in when you don't live near the agents, and that's the query letter. I send them out at regular intervals. But that's the lottery.

And there is a specific group called Beta-Readers on dA. Thorns is the founder and organizer of a lot of it. They match readers of similar skill set, interest and ambition with critiquers for more in-depth reading than most feedback is. I found this *very* useful with The Iron Conqueror.

Abstract: What inspires you?

TarienCole: A lot of times, it's seeing a story I like and wondering if I could do something in that genre. Or something that sparks an idea, and I start playing with it. Reading regularly, both from the classics and the current market. Sometimes it's from a movie too. I guess that's part of what keeps it varied is that I look in a fair amount of places.

Abstract: What ‘hooks’ you when reading other writer’s stories?

TarienCole: A story that takes risks. Characters I can care about. And a world that's internally consistent and makes me want to dig deeper into its history. Do that with evocative, concrete language, and you can hook me on just about any genre.

Abstract: What kind of background did you bring to his craft? i.e. Was he an English or Literature major? His understanding of grammar and style – where did that come from?

TarienCole: Lol. Oh Criminy! I HATED English grammar in High School. At least the way it's typically taught. It wasn't until I started studying foreign languages that I started earning my grammar nazi stripes. Specifically Koine Greek. I have a Bachelors in Pastoral Ministries, and a Masters in Biblical Studies, New Testament. I couldn't afford attempting a PhD.

As far as style goes, an element of that goes back to heavy reading, and another to practice and self-editing. The latter can't be emphasized enough, and I don't see a shortcut on that. It's easy when writing a rough draft to lapse into mushy language and 'be' verbs. But I don't believe in stopping the rough draft to edit. Keep ahead of the Doubt Monster and plow forward with new material. When I rewrite, I make a conscious effort to fashion concrete, precise language and kill 'be' verbs and repetitive words and phrases. That's when refining style is important to me.

Abstract: Where do you find the time?

TarienCole: Bring a notebook for ideas wherever you go. You'll be surprised how much time a day you burn waiting for a phone call, in line at the market, on the lunch break, or between chores. I started doing this for studying foreign languages with vocabulary note cards. I've found it works for writing story ideas and scenes too. Then when you get home, write. My goal is 2000 words a day, 5 days a week. Writer's write, regardless of whether I 'feel like it' today. Make a word count goal and stick to it. I find the 'feel like it' moments come more often if I'm consistent, because I plow through the things I 'have' to write to get to the parts I 'want' to share.

Abstract: How did you found your audience?

TarienCole: Consistent posting. Regular Journals. Promotion of people whose art I enjoy. Finding a couple fine artists who are willing to support my writing from the graphic side, willingness to critique and help others, and a refusal to let my feelings tell me to stop even when I suffer from Doubt Monster attacks.

Abstract: Does the feedback you get from your followers influence your writing in any way, whether it be story lines or character development or style changes?

TarienCole: Yes, though I think it's more subtle than outright clamor for change. Again, this goes back to a group like BetaReaders. Don't let drive-by posters influence you. At the end of the day, I have a better idea of where my story is going than anyone else.

I show my work consistently to people I trust. Through that, I can get a gage of what works, what doesn't, and calibrate accordingly. Stephen King says a writer should have an Ideal Reader in mind. Whoever that is should absolutely like whatever you do, or you didn't do it right. *Then* you turn to a larger circle, and take feedback. I don't use feedback to go against the Ideal Reader, but I do use it to make what appeals to the IR better. Also, I'm very cautious about submitting to large 'critique circles.' I find those end up as simple noise too often. Five people I trust is enough to get a good idea of what works and what doesn't. Any more and I hear one person say, "Too much," another say "Not enough" and I end up saying, "It must be just right, so I'll call it good." ;)

Special thanks to :iconriocyan: for suggesting this interview and contributing about half of the questions. If anyone has questions, comments, or suggestions for future topics and interviews, please comment below!
Add a Comment:
Rama-Kay Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
this was an awesome interview. It makes you think...
Oh and Congrats to *mothbanquet :highfive:!
TarienCole Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you. I enjoyed participating in it.
Godzilla2003 Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks a ton for the welcome to the group, I really appreciate it.
Also, tell Mothbanquet my congratulations on his new role in the group. :)
RipleyNox Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2012  Professional Writer
Will do!
joanfarley Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This interview was very insightful to be, both in skills to develop my own writing and taking it to the next level. For instance, I had no idea there was such a thing as e-publishing. My education always stressed agencies and interviews, never giving us the option of the online publishing system. I'm in the process of doing some digging into that venture, and I just wanted to express my furtive gratitude for opening that door for me.

Also, to touch on the last two questions and their responses: I like how Abstract pointedly brings the audience into play, and how TarienCole responds with emphasis on their role and how to go about engaging them to benefit your writing. Too often I see responses to well-meant critiques and the severity to the random, as you put it, "drive-by poster." They will always be there. Don't let it deter your motivation or have your creativity suffer from it. Use the positive energy your audience can induce to further your work.

Excellent interview, thanks very, very much for posting it! :)
RipleyNox Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2012  Professional Writer
It was our pleasure!
Kachinadoll Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Awesome interview! New and interesting details about you hon! Looking forward to the new addition to the Aurori saga! yay! :iconifeelfluffyplz:
TarienCole Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks Suzi :)
Kachinadoll Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Your most welcome! I hope you have a lovely Christmas Holiday! weeeeee! :iconwoohplz:
TarienCole Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you kindly for the interview and the opportunity to share. Best wishes to everyone on their journey as well. :)
OpheliaBell Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012  Professional Writer
Fantastic interview! It's always great to hear from other writers at various stages of their efforts to break out into the professional world.

"Writer's write, regardless of whether I 'feel like it' today." This comment is one I identify with and something I think it's important to remember. Even if you're stalled on a current project (some might call it writer's block), switch gears to something completely different, but don't just stop writing. That's one of the many things I'm gradually learning as I go. Hopefully someday I'll have figured out a system that works to keep me going but I find my writing methods are constantly evolving - maybe because it's still relatively early in my career (amateur though it is).

Not sure if TarienCole is reading comments, but I'm curious what some of his favorite methods are for maintaining focus on his work, particularly during periods when you really don't 'feel like it'?
TarienCole Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I definitely don't believe in writer's block during a project. If I don't know what should happen next, then I did something seriously wrong and it almost certainly goes back to my characters.

The time I can get blocked is between projects, when I'm not sure what I should write next. Right now, that isn't an issue, because I know I need to get back into the Aurori next. :P

I keep focus by review of my outline and comparing it with my setting notes and character backgrounds. Before each project I probably spend 3-7 days (depending on how new the material is, and how many characters are recurring from previous works) doing character sketches and interviews to get into their head. Then I work an outline based on the situation I've imagined. Put characters in conflict (not necessarily physical, but always have stakes) and keep them there. Always keep a firm grasp of what the stakes are for each character. What do they believe in? What would make them back down? Are they 'direct' players or do they like gambits?

I would submit that 95%+ of 'writer's block' instances are because a writer has shorted the characters in a scene and doesn't know how to make them do what he thinks needs to happen. This is because either they're trying to force a scene the characters wouldn't act in, or they simply didn't acquaint themselves with the characters well enough.
OpheliaBell Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012  Professional Writer
I don't really believe in writer's block, either. If I'm being completely honest with myself when I end up stalled on something I can usually pinpoint the reason to something specific - other things distracting me from the story or, similar to what you said, maybe I've written myself into a corner and need to backtrack a bit to figure out where I steered the characters wrong. I find re-reading old chapters to reacquaint myself with the main character's "voice" can help a lot, but that can end up being an even bigger distraction sometimes, especially if it was a chapter I really enjoyed the first time around :).
mothbanquet Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012  Professional Writer
Awesome stuff, thanks for this!
TarienCole Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks for reading.
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