Friday 5 | Click-worthy Links

Wireless Computer Mouse with Wheel

Here are 5 more places online worth checking out:

  1. Lake Michigan is so clean that you can see shipwrecks in it from space.
  2. All these people nowadays have standing desks. That makes no sense to me. I’m intrigued by this squatting desk idea.
  3. Even if I don’t think it is real, I like the idea of reincarnation. It shows a good economy of souls where nothing gets wasted. Let’s recycle! Anyway, if you’ve ever wondered who you might have been in a past life, now there’s a tool than can help you.
  4. Are you ready for a trip back in time when websites were in their infancy? Here’s a place that lists a bunch of ancient websites that are still somehow active online.
  5. If you haven’t done it yet, do me a favor and like my author page on Facebook. That way, if I ever have a book to publish, I may be able to fool some publisher into thinking that I’m super awesome and publishable.

Enjoy!

I am a Breathe Conference speaker.

blogging_101_with_josh_moseyThis past weekend, I had the honor of attending and speaking at the Breathe Writers Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I spoke on Saturday about blogging basics to a wonderful, if somewhat larger than anticipated, crowd of writers. As a result, I’m attaching the handout I used here (Blogging 101 with Josh Mosey) for anyone who didn’t get a copy on Saturday.

And since I believe that most of the value of writers’ conferences is in being face-to-face with other writers, I’m going to share a bit of the content that I taught in my class here on my blog for free. Not all of it, of course. But some.

This was the description for my class:

Blogging 101: Why to do it, How to do it, and How to keep it from killing your other writing—Josh Mosey
You’ve heard from countless publishing experts that you should be blogging as part of your platform (expand your online footprint!), but you want to do it right. Don’t waste your writing time making blogging mistakes. Figure out how to do it effectively, how to engage readers, and how to make blogging fit into your life without upsetting your other writing projects.

After a brief introduction to yours truly (readers of my blog should need no introduction as I’ve poured more of my secrets into this website than Tom Riddle poured into his horcrux of a diary),  I launched into the reasons why writers should be blogging:

  • Get an audience/community for your writing
  • Writing more will lead to better writing
    • “You should be practicing your craft.” – Judy Markham, Discovery House Publishers
  • Develop and show off your voice
  • Publishers need to see examples of how you attract and interact with your community

As to how to blog, I encouraged everyone to set one up soon. As there was another seminar following mine on the process of setting up a blog at WordPress.com, I didn’t go into detail about such things. My advice regarding blogging was more about the routine and scope of the craft than the minutia of posting etiquette.

Basically, I believe that blogs should be consistent in their focus (so readers will know what to expect), their voice (so readers will know your writing), and their schedule (so readers will know when to expect a new post).

We then turned to perhaps the most difficult bit: how to keep your blog from killing your other writing.

My first point was that a blogger needn’t blog everyday, but however they decide to divide their writing time between projects, they must be consistent in how often they post content to their blog.

With regard to the length of blog posts, I discussed the two schools of thought. Short posts of 200 or fewer words take less time to write, are easier for readers to digest, and can be best for bloggers who decide to tackle daily posts. Long posts of 1500+ words often get better interaction from readers and are easier to find by web-crawlers based on their content.

As another effort to protect a writer’s time for their projects, I suggested that the blog needn’t live in a separate world from their main focus. If they could find a way to incorporate their ideas, voices, and subject matter into their blog, then readers might be more motivated to buy their writing when it comes out (since they’ve already sampled and enjoyed it in blog form). The big warning for this, however, is that you must not publish the exact content on your blog that you are hoping to get published in book form. Once a blog is posted, it is published and no one will touch it in the publishing world.

Lastly, I encouraged the writers to be accountable to a writers group in order to stay on track with both blogs and book-writing.I then gave them some ideas on how to get new readers and followers to their blogs as well as some links to other resources. I’m not going to give them to you here, because you didn’t pay to be at the conference (but if you click around my site a bit, you may find them anyway).

I’ll be writing through some of the sessions that I attended this week, so if you aren’t into writing, you may want to check in next week for normal content. I’m just kidding. Visit everyday and send links to all of your friends whether you like my content or not. Thanks!

Innermost Secrets 1 – 8

I was cleaning part of my basement the other day when I happened across a relic from my time as Visiting Groups Director at YMCA Camp Manitou-Lin. What I found was a little notebook filled with all of my innermost secrets. I filled this little notebook with my innermost secrets because that is what the cover told me to do. And though there is a picture of a lock on the cover, it isn’t all that safe of a notebook.

You see, I used to leave this little notebook around the camp for people to enjoy before they returned it to my desk. I liked to see if people would read the secrets or whether they would respect my privacy. In most cases, curiousity triumphed over privacy (which shouldn’t that surprising to anyone who has worked at a camp). Anyway, I thought I would share these secrets with you too.

Today, I’ll cover the first two pages of the notebook. More pages will follow in future weeks.

1st Innermost Secret:

  • My name is Josh Mosey.

I wanted people to be able to identify the owner right away. That way they could easily return my secrets to my desk. Also, I liked the idea of using known facts as innermost secrets.

2nd Innermost Secret:

  • I’m the Visiting Groups Director.

Just in case anyone didn’t know who I was, they could find my office by my title.

3rd Innermost Secret:

  • I’m straight.

I don’t think there was a lot of question here, but in case there was, I wanted people know that I am a straight man whose secret inclinations are also straight.

4th Innermost Secret:

  • I really am 23.

This was actually a lie. At the time I wrote this, I was 21. I think I told people that I was 23 because that was the minimum age for certain camp restrictions, like administrating the ropes course.

5th Innermost Secret:

  • My favorite animal is a human woman.

I read this to my wife and she said, “So we’re just animals to you?” I didn’t know how to respond at the time, but I’ll try now. “Um,” I would say. “Nope, you aren’t animals at all. But if you were, you’d be my favorite.”

6th Innermost Secret:

  • I had scones once.

I know that scones are delicious pastries that go well with coffee and tea, but the word scones also kind of sounds like a horribly painful disease. Like shingles or boils. Scones.

7th Innermost Secret:

  • Norway rules!

This isn’t a secret so much as an opinion. Actually, no. This isn’t so much an opinion as a fact. Norway rules!

8th Innermost Secret:

  • My “gut” is really all muscle.

I like this one because it is quite obviously not true. And even if it were, how would that explain the extra chin that hides neath my beard?

Hopefully you’ll enjoy this series, because I have a total of 54 innermost secrets to share. Until next time, thanks for reading!

How to See Old Friends and Not Have It Be Awkward

So, this past weekend, I went down to Kalamazoo to visit some of my old friends from college. I regularly see my friend Andy every few months, but Andy and I were meeting up with our other friend, Adam, who I don’t get to see very often at all since he lives in the far-too-far wastes of Ohio.

Fun fact – I can’t see what Adam’s shirt says. I am colorblind.

Adam and I used to be roommates and much of our experience and relationship has seeped into my roommate flash fiction series, Thom and Tom. Anyway, we were all getting together to celebrate Adam’s birthday.

It had been over two years since Adam and I last hung out. In that time, my wife and I have had two daughters, my writing career is more serious than ever, and my job has morphed to include all kinds of fun new responsibilities. From his side, Adam has made a major career adjustment and has started and maintained a serious romantic relationship. A lot has changed for both of us.

But nothing has really changed between our old roommate relationship and our current living-in-different-cities relationship. We can fall back into our old friendship as easily as an experienced musician can remember the feel of an instrument, and the tunes are still as sweet.

This isn’t always the case with seeing old friends. Too many times, once a person moves on with their life, it becomes difficult to maintain the friendship or to fall back into the old routines. Too much has changed. This, I would hazard, is the norm for most relationships. And even though conversation flowed as easily as the Dr Pepper at BD’s Mongolian Barbacue where we celebrated Adam’s birthday, I noticed that we were employing some communication skills that I learned back in college in order to make things more comfortable. I think we did this naturally, but a skilled communicator can do it intentionally and achieve the same level of comfort.

The main thing that I noticed was our use of “carriers”. I learned about carriers first from Dr. Paul Yelsma in my Small Group Problem Solving class at Western Michigan University. While I was in his class, there was no one in the world that I hated more than Dr. Yelsma. His teaching style was designed to make people cry, and from some of the reviews that I’ve read on Ratemyprofessors.com, many other’s agree with my assessment. Of course, if you read the rest of the reviews for Dr. Yelsma, you’ll learn, as I did, that though he was not a likeable professor, he was a brilliant educator and his material has stuck with me far more than most of my other classes.

But I digress… A carrier is a subject of interest that a person can talk about for while. Once you discover a person’s carriers, you just ask them one related question and they open right up. The fact that you know something they like and that you would care enough to ask them about it makes that person feel knowledgeable and important. It is a great way to help along a new relationship as well as rekindle an old one.

Without even thinking about this concept, Adam and Andy and I were volleying carriers back and forth for a while, catching each other up on what we were doing, genuinely listening to each other, and feeling loved and respected the whole time. It was a great experience.

If you want to make someone feel special, find out their carriers. Ask about them. Then listen. It works great for old friends, new friends, even romantic relationships.

Flash Fiction Challenge | 10 Options, 100 Words, Limitless Possibilities

This past week, I posted the following on my Facebook page:

So, I’ve been writing a lot of flash fiction (really short stories) recently and posting them on my blog. The problem is that, while I enjoy writing flash fiction, once I post it, I can’t submit it anywhere else for publication. My favorite thing about the flash fiction that I’ve been doing is writing to a prompt. So here’s the deal: I would like you to give me some prompts. They should be a word or a short phrase around which I can craft a story. If I choose your prompt, I’ll give you a sneak peek at what I’m submitting. Any ideas for me out there?

I got back some wonderful prompts, but one of them stood out among the rest. The contributor gave me a whole list of prompt ideas. She meant them to be taken individually, but what I saw was a challenge. Could I craft a story using all of these words? After that, ideas started to form and a story is already in the outline phases. So rather than offer you the same challenge using the same words, here’s the plan.

I’m going to list ten words below. Your challenge is to craft a 100 word story using any three of the words as inspiration. The words themselves don’t need to be used in the story, but the reader should be able to see where you got your inspiration, so include them in the title of your piece.

The Words: Soda, Matchstick, Ninja, Dragon, Popcorn, Shoe, Crimson, Light, Trash, Levitation.

Once you post the story on your blog, drop me the link in the comments and I’ll post it in the body of this blog. Use the image here to link back to this post so people can see what you are doing and why. Also, so they can read the other contributors. The deadline for posting your story is October 19th. After that, you are welcome to post in the comments, but I’ll no longer be adding it to the body of the blog.

Sound a lot like what Julia’s Place does every week? It is. I love the Julia’s Place 100 word challenges and liked the idea of starting my own.

And last, though I’ve offered prizes for these challenges in the past, I got the best response when the only prize was the feeling of job well done. So that’s what the prize is for this challenge as well. Good luck!

The List of Contestants Starts Here:

Work In Progress Challenge

I was just tagged by both Bob Evenhouse and Roger Colby in a book interview of sorts. Thanks to both of you and to everyone who is taking an interest in me and my writing!

1. What is the title of your book/WIP?

The working title is Daniel O’Ryan and the Tree of Life. It is a direct formula title inspired by the Harry Potter series. Some would call this a rip off. I call it an homage.

2. Where did the idea for the WIP come from?

This was my second submission to the 3-day Novel Contest. For those unfamiliar with the contest, it is held over Labor Day weekend and participants have only three days to write their novels. Most entries average around 100 pages (novellas, really), but at the least, it is a good start to a first draft.

My first year, I wrote a dystopian piece about a world where sound was illegal. It was a wonderful idea, but at the time, no one was into dystopian lit (my, how the times have changed!). I decided for my second time through the contest to go in the opposite direction and write in the most popular genre of the day, “magical orphan stories.” I have the most connections within the CBA market, so I decided that rather than outright magic, I would write something with angels, specifically, half-angels (or Nephilim)

At first, I approached the project tongue-in-cheek, but after I started into some serious research, I grew to like my characters and the story more and more. One book turned into the first in a trilogy and now I can’t wait to finish the book if only to read it myself.

3. What genre would your WIP fall under?

It definitely falls into YA fantasy. Most likely in the CBA market, but I honestly believe that it could make it in the ABA market just fine too.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Daniel O’Ryan – Josh Hutcherson (Peeta from Hunger Games)

Ian Langston – A young Jack Black, only heavier

Abdiel the Angel – Daniel Craig (James Bond)

Mr. Stockton – Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid from Harry Potter)

Hunter Garrison – Taylor Lautner (Twilight)

Audrey Fairfax – AnnaSophia Robb (Soul Surfer)

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your WIP?

After a peculiar set of events place Daniel O’Ryan and his best friend and fellow orphan Ian Langston at the prestigious Blackwood Academy, Daniel has just discovered that he’s half-angel and that the father who he though was dead is now depending on him for salvation.

6. Is your WIP published or represented?

Nope, no such luck yet. Anyone want to change that?

7. How long did it take you to write?

I’ve been working on it on and off for 4 years, but most recently it has been my focus for the last year.

8. What other WIPs within your genre would you compare it to?

Jerel Law, a first time author, just had a half-angel story published by Thomas Nelson, but his audience is a bit younger than mine (see my review of it here). Zondervan also recently published some half-angel novels (the Halflings series), but they are aimed more at the Twilight crowd than the Harry Potter fans.

9. Which authors inspired you to write this WIP?

Definitely J. K. Rowling. I’ve also been influenced by the Steampunk movement.

10. Tell us anything else that might pique our interest in this project.

I’ve done a lot of research on the extra-biblical sources on the Nephilim and came across a whole new reason why God had to destroy his creation in the flood. Much of my plot and the characters are inspired by these new perspectives on the Biblical account. I also had a lot of fun developing the abilities of a modern-day Nephilim, but you’ll have to read the book to see them in action.

One last thing…

Tag, You’re It:

As a final step of this Work In Progress blog post, I’m supposed to tag other writers who are then “it” to make a blog post of their own.

Here’s my list:

Andrew Rogers

Matthew Landrum

Guest Post by Bob Evenhouse | Advice for the Writer’s Struggle

My good friend Bob Evenhouse of the blog Part Time Novel was kind enough to send me a guest post while I am trying to catch up on my sleep (new babies are cute little time vampires). Enjoy!

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Writers struggle. It’s our most consistent state. We struggle for the correct word. We struggle for the proper word. A word that is rhythmic, fitting, mood setting, decisively explanatory, and altogether perfect. Doing this once can be exhausting. Doing it one hundred and sixteen thousand times can be debilitating, especially when you are at the bottom of that hike looking up at the grand snow capped Himalayan-like climb that is your first draft.

This is why the writer needs goals. Just like climbers work in stages. The state of defeat lingers so close behind us that we must have a target on which to fix our eyes and it cannot just be the end, but a good healthy check point.

Here are some ways to do just that.

  • Set Reasonable, Yet Achievable, Goals: I have trouble conforming to the idea that my life is lived within the confines of time. My wife often accuses me of trying do too much in a day. When I get home from work I’d merely like so spend quality time with her, my daughters, watch a movie, do a blog post, write 2000 words, maybe write another blog, read and comment on my friends’ blog, start a business, and sail around the world. It’s difficult capping myself, most of the time, but realistic goals are especially necessary for the part time writer.
  • Set Time Specific Goals: As a part time writer it is easy to be sprinting through life then realize you have not written on your book for a few days or weeks. It is important to stay in the rhythm of writing or your novel will never get done. Make it a goal to write every day. Stand by it with a this-has-to-get-done-before-I-sleep-every-single-night mandate. Writers are sleep deprived manics. You must know this by now.
  • Reward Yourself: In the words of the employees of the parks department of Pawnee, Indiana: Treat Yourself. When you reach a goal, say 5,000 words, do something fun. Writing is draining and your mind will be happy for the repose. It’s healthy and fun to reward yourself for slaving over your baby. If you are out of ideas, see below. There are some great ways to Treat Yourself.

A Monty Python Fan’s View of Writing in Groups

I’m a pretty big Monty Python fan. I wanted to share this because as a member of a writer’s group, I found insight in Eric’s experience of writing with others.

Now, I realize that Eric Idle was writing comedy sketches to be performed with other members of the Monty Python troupe, but the process of writing in the same room as someone else is the same.

My own writer’s group, the Weaklings, is made up of very different types of writers. I write flash fiction and YA fantasy and I work best in public settings while listening to music. My friend Bob writes epic fantasy tomes and can seemingly write anywhere with anything going on. Andrew writes in silence and preferably in seclusion. And Matt writes poetry, which is as far from my understanding as writing upside-down while wearing a pink tutu (I don’t actually know Matt’s process that well, so maybe he does this).

During the 3-day Novel Contest, however, we all write together in the same room. When we write communally, there is a synergy of ideas, a free-flowing exchange of new perspectives that brings out the best in our work. When I get stuck in my manuscript, I shout out the problem to the world at large and my writing friends shout ideas back to me. When they write themselves into a corner, they shout out and I shout back.

Those of us who need music use headphones. And when our eyes begin to melt from staring at the screen for too long, we stop and eat together, encouraging each other along the way.

I say all that to say this: a good writer’s group has been vital to my experience as a writer. There are some folks out there who say that writing is a solitary journey of hardship, but I don’t think that’s entirely accurate. Sure, when you are putting pen to paper, it is your hands following the instructions from your brain and you have the ultimate freedom to make your story do what you want it to, but there is value in sharing the experience.

If I am allowed to give a little advice, write with someone else this week. Maybe you’ll be frustrated by how they plan out every little detail before figuring out the larger story. Maybe you’ll both have such a good time together you won’t get any writing done. Maybe you’ll write in silence and question why you invited the person along in the first place. And maybe you’ll find someone who you can bounce ideas off and it will make your writing come alive.

I am smooth.

Since I started thinking about my college days again for last week’s post, I thought I’d share another college story.

When I first moved to Kalamazoo in order to attend Western Michigan University, music was something that was still primarily enjoyed by listening to the radio (that makes me feel very old all of the sudden). Illegal file sharing was yet to be made illegal, and the iPod was only a glimmer in Steve Jobs’ eye. While searching the dial for a station worth listening to, I stumbled across my college’s radio station, WIDR, and instantly fell in love.

WIDR | Radio EvolutionI still get nostalgic for WIDR and many’s the time when I wish that I could get the signal where I live now. All of the DJs were students, long awkward pauses and dead air were not uncommon, and I had never heard of most of the musicians they played, but it all worked. WIDR had the perfect mix of loveable amateurism and exposure to the underground music scene.

But enough of my gushing and on to the story.

I learned where the station was located after being invited to speak about the Valhalla Norwegian Society, of which I was president at the time. As it happened, WIDR’s studio was located in the same building as the registered student organization mailboxes, so in the weeks following the interview, I would stop in at random to say hi to the DJs who interviewed me with whom I had struck up a friendship.

On one such visit, rather than ask if my DJ friends were available, I stepped up to the main desk and said, “I’m here to pick up my prize pack.” Now, there was no prize pack waiting for me, but I thought that on the off chance that I could get a free t-shirt or something, I’d try my luck.

“Prize pack?” said the receptionist. “Did someone call you and tell you that you won something?”

“Um,” I replied. “Well, no.”

“Then, why did you come in?” asked the receptionist, and rightfully so.

“Um,” I replied. “I just wanted to see if I could get something. Maybe a t-shirt or something.”

“Oh,” said the receptionist. “Well, I can’t give you anything.”

“Okay,” I said. “Would you mind telling John that I’m out here then, if he’s not on-air at the moment, I mean.”

“Actually,” said a woman sitting against the wall who I had completely missed, “I was about to go record an interview with John, so he’ll be busy for a little bit.”

“Oh,” I said. “It’s cool. I’ll just check back later.”

“Wait a sec,” said the new woman. “I heard what you were trying to do with the prize pack thing. Clever and ballsy of you. If you wait around until after the interview, I’d love to give you a couple tickets to my show tonight. Maybe you could bring a date.”

I waited. True to her word, this mystery musician put my name down for two tickets to her show that night.  This turn of events gave me sufficient reason to ask out a girl that I’d been interested in a for a few weeks. What a great first date story that would be, I thought (isn’t it funny how we want to make our lives fit into clever story arcs?). To my surprise, the girl agreed and off we went.

The seats were prime. The music was good. My date and I were enjoying ourselves. And then, around the middle of the set, the musician stops and says, “Where’s Josh? I met Josh earlier at the college radio station and he told me that he was going to be on a first date tonight. Josh, are you here?”

I raised my hand. People from all directions stared at me… and my date. I should probably say that the girl that I brought to this event was a shy girl who didn’t like the spotlight.

“How’s the date going so far?”

I looked over at my date. She gave me a thumbs up, but the look on her face was not happy.

“Um, great!” I lied.

“Cool,” she said, and then she finished her show. The first date became the last date, and that was okay. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that. It just wasn’t meant to be.

Afterward, I stopped back into the radio station to thank them for doing the interview with the musician that led to me getting free show tickets. My DJ friends invited me to talk about the evening on the air. I told them that it was a good evening, but that things didn’t work out.

That was when they decided that it would be a fun show segment to have girls call in to the station and go on dates with me (WIDR would be footing the bill) and then I would talk about my experiences the next day. At the time, I thought nothing of being pimped out by my college radio station and thought it would be a fun way to see concerts and such for free.

The promotion never came together however, and now I’m really glad that it didn’t. Now, I’m married to a wonderful woman (a bit on the shy side, I guess I have a type). And though I’m sure that my wife would never have left me when confronted with a spotlight on us, I’m glad that our story started differently.

I love my wife more than old people love racism and talking about diseases.