We'd like to welcome our new members:
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 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!