Hello, my name is J.R. Williams. I’m a woman, a writer, a mom, a wife, a friend, a coffee drinker, a technophile, and a Chicagoan. I was born and raised in the Ukrainian Village area. I went to the University of Illinois and studied English and Communications. I love words. I think, talk, and read a lot. Sometimes I design jewelry. Sometimes I create web pages. I believe that being simple is complicated. I believe that as writers it’s our obligation to bring to light our personal experiences; whatever that is for us. I believe in supporting others, dreaming big, and being positive. Welcome to my blog.
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"You have to believe. You have to believe if your spouse or your parents or that annoying woman at church sneers at your abilities or the importance of children's and YA literature. Anyone who thinks that books for young readers and their creators are not two of the most significant forces in the universe is worthless scum on the excrement of worms and not worth any further consideration. Anyone who doesn't believe in you is worse. But there will be those people, and you have to sum up enough strength in yourself to continue anyway."
"I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past."
I recently came to the realization that I can no longer call myself young. Maybe it’s my growing appreciation for animal prints and comfy flats and using words like “comfy” that has me convinced. The truth is I’m getting wiser and looking the part. Things they are a-changin’.
And even though getting older scares me, there are a few things about aging that I appreciate. I am grateful for the experiences I’ve had over the years and for the time I have left. I value who I am. I trust myself and most importantly, I’ve learned who I want to spend my time with and what I want to spend my time working on. The truth is time is priceless. It’s worth more than money and more than any singular object.
I’ve squandered away so much time worrying about the past. So far, it’s had no benefit on my life. In fact, it’s inhibited me from following through and moving forward. I want to create, see new places, and learn new things, but the more time I spend worrying about things I can’t control, the more control I lose over my life. So you know what? I’m not worrying about things I can’t control anymore. I’m living for myself, not for obligation.
About the only thing I can think of worth more than my time are the quality relationships I’ve created with that time. Nothing can take the place of a great confidant or a soul mate. It’s the good relationships that make life worth living.
When I was a child, I used to the think the key to life was happiness. I now think the key to life is living. Living for yourself and making the most of your time, whatever time you have left.
The Third Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign by Rachael Harrie is now underway. I implore you to check it out and sign up. It was great last year and I expect it to be even better this year. To learn more about this campaign, please visit: Rachael Harrie’s Blog.
One of the best things about the online writing community is the ability to connect to one another through websites, forums, blogs and conferences. Yes, I said conferences, ONLINE conferences! In case you haven’t heard, there was a huge conference going on this past week called, The WriteOnCon.
The WriteOnCon is a free online writer’s conference held every summer. This summer it was from Tuesday, August 16th thru Thursday, August 18th. There were lit agents and editors abound. They provided several tips on the process of writing, how to professionally conduct yourself online and the future of the publishing industry among other things. The amount of information available was incredible.
My favorite parts of the conference were the live chats, the vlogs and the articles. So basically, I loved the entire thing.
Watch this awesome vlog:
The live chats provided several insider tips for writers. Here are some of my favorites:
Michelle Andelman said, “Use the query letter to pitch your project. Use social media (in the background) to pitch yourself.”
She also said, “Reliance on dialogue tags is a common prose issue I find with lesser known writers, reliance on them to reveal emotion where characterization should be doing the trick.”
“Opening on dialogue often jars me.”
According to Emily Meehan, “Amp up your online presence. Make friends, but good friends and don’t say anything you will want to take back!”
Jim McCarthy says, “I’m cribbing someone else’s tip. I have a number of clients who do three, sometimes four books a year, and for obvious reasons, they end up dealing with writers’ block from time to time because of that. I love my client Victoria Laurie’s approach which is that if you get stuck, you keep writing anyway. Because you can delete anything you come up with, but the chances are better that you’ll come up with something that clues you in to where you should be going if you’re writing something than if you’re just staring at the page.” Also, “I’m not seeing horror, in spite of my regular requests for it. I’m also not seeing a lot of comedy (possibly because I’ve been asking for so much horror). But voice driven, comedic novels are a thrill for me.” McCarthy also believes that the genre he’s been seeing too much of lately is dystopian. He says, “I love dystopian books, but if another derivative novel about the apocalypse and a love triangle crosses my desk, I will actually be rooting for a nuclear holocaust.”
“Can’t stand anyone who opens with waking from a dream or any discussion of the weather.”
“I desperately want to find brilliant LGBT fiction for any age group. Whether it’s fun and commercial like Rainbow Boys or literary and lovely like Luna.”
According to Jim McCarthy, a bad cliché in writing is “not every cheerleader needs to be a bitch. But also, you don’t have to spend a whole novel showing us how unlike stereotypes your characters are.”
Annette Pollert’s tips for revising:
“As I edit, I am always asking:
1) Why are you telling me this? (relevance)
2) Why are you telling me this now? (placement)
It’s helpful to ask these questions on a chapter/paragraph/line-by-line basis as you revise. It keeps a narrative tight, and helps to build tension and drama (on the page that is).”
“My favorite novels begin with conflict. And I will add to Jim’s answer by saying, waking up in bed at sunrise is one of my least favorite places to start.”
According to Annette Pollert on bad clichés in writing, she says, “How frequently do you gaze into someone’s eyes/register someone’s eye color when you first meet?”
In reference to traditional vs. self-publishing, Sara Megibow said, “There are LOTS of good reasons to traditionally publish – editors, support, marketing, cover, placement in bookstores, reviews, print run, but there are also lots of good reasons to self publish – turn around (meaning finish the book to release of the book), control over content and price point, artistic vision and access to ereaders.”
She also says, “There are a few bad reasons to traditionally publish… if you’re someone who simply wants to hold the book in their hand doesn’t probably understand how long and how hard it is to break in to NY. They can learn, but, simply to publish isn’t a big enough reason to tackle the beast. There are a few bad reasons to self publish… namely, those writers who simply want to flip off agents and editors for passing on their book – this is NOT a good reason to self publish.”
“The name of the game in traditional publishing is (supposed to be) quality and professionalism. The name of the game in self publishing (supposed to be) is get yourself educated on what’s involved before doing it – editing, cover design, placement, uploading to different kinds of devices, marketing, promotions.”
“The selling point for many writers right now is “because I can.” If you self publish – get educated. Find out what it takes, follow authors who are successful at it and make it about quality and successful sales, not just about because you can.”
Those are just some of the quotes I found inspirational. To learn more about the participants in the conference, please check out the WriteOnCon faculty here.
I also learned the following:
1. Get a composition notebook. Title it, “The Idea Page.” Enter all of the ideas you have for future works in progress. You’ll do this to honor your ideas and it will also help you to not forget.
2. If you add 500 words or less to your work in progress in a single sitting do not look at that as failure. It shows that you are committed to writing and that there will be a time when you will finish. Go with your instincts and trust yourself.
3. Ask yourself questions as you are writing your wip including, is this better in first person or third and what if the character did this or that?
Here are some excellent articles from the WriteOnCon:
What I’ve posted is a small part of the conference. If you’d like to look over some of the pre-recorded live chats, view more vlogs or read more articles, please visit the site here: http://writeoncon.com/.
I want to thank everybody who worked to get this conference up and running. Your hard work showed and I am now inspired to take action.
I’ve been enjoying this Chicago summer with my two favorite buddies and it’s been great. There’s something about sitting outside and sucking down a gluten free beer that’s just absolutely delicious.
I also love checking out new and old Chicago festivals. They remind me of why I love this city so darn much! This year I went to Burger Fest (the new) and ate several veggie sliders. Tasty! I also visited the Puerto Rican Carnival, the Printer’s Row Book Fair and the ever-so-popular, Taste of Chicago (the old) and they did not disappoint.
Another festival I couldn’t miss even if I tried was the Wicker Park Fest as it was right outside of my window. It was certainly a good time.
If you get a chance to visit Chicago in the summertime – DO IT! There’s always something to do, see or try.
Check out what I’ve been doing this summer:
Just so you know (as if you couldn’t guess) this song does not belong to me. It belongs to the fabulous Lily Allen and it’s called, “Take What You Take.” Isn’t it lovely?