Monday, January 9, 2017

Meet Pikes Peak Writers Member J.T. Evans

Today on Meet the Member, I'm bringing you an interview from Pikes Peak Writers President, J.T. Evans. We all know J.T. in his leadership capacity, but what do we really know about his writing career? Let's find out!

Kathie Scrimgeour:  How long have you been writing and what genre do you prefer to write?

J.T. Evans:  I’ve been writing on and off since I was 10 years old. I got serious about my writing efforts in 2006 and haven’t stopped since then. I prefer to write fantasy, urban fantasy, horror, and science fiction.

Kathie Scrimgeour: Do you have anything in particular you are working on right now? Tell us a little about it.

J.T. Evans:  I just finished up edits on two novels and am editing a third. For the actual writing part of things, I’m about to launch into sword & sorcery-style fantasy involving two reluctant vagabonds saving their neighborhood from a dangerous gang that is preying upon the children of the area under the direction of a secret cult.

Kathie Scrimgeour: Have you set any goals for your publication date?

J.T. Evans:  For the two novels that I just finished edits on, I’m hoping one comes out spring of 2017 (Griffin’s Feather – Urban Fantasy) followed by early fall of 2017 (Warmaiden – Fantasy) for the other. I don’t have a date for the book I’m about to write as I’m just now getting into it.

Kathie Scrimgeour: Do you set daily, weekly, or monthly writing goals? If yes, what are they? What do you do to ensure you meet these goals?

J.T. Evans: I used to set word count goals for myself, but if I missed even one day (or week) of hitting the goal, I’d get discouraged and I found that my productivity would go down. Some people thrive on word count goals, but I’ve discovered I’m not one of them. I don’t write every day, but I try to do something creative each day. When I seriously get into writing a novel, I can usually do 3,000 to 4,000 words each day, which makes me incredibly happy. I sometimes will burn a vacation day from the Day Job to sit down and try to hit 10,000 words (or more!) in a day.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  If you have a completed manuscript/story/poem/flash have you submitted it yet? What have the results been? How do you get past the "No's"? What do your reject letters say? What best advice, or lessons learned, have you gotten from them?

J.T. Evans:  As I’ve mentioned, I have a fantasy novel under contract and a separate urban fantasy under contract as well. Both are with different publishing houses. The fantasy received over 140 rejections before I found a home for it. The urban fantasy landed almost 90 rejections before someone loved it as much as I do. Writing a novel is the easy part of this career. Handling the rejections is the hardest part, but it’s necessary to find the right home. I want a publisher to love my stories as much as I do. Many form rejection letters mention something along the lines of “reading is subjective, so my rejection doesn’t mean your work is of low quality,” and these words are very true. I’m very certain that my favorite book of all time won’t line up with someone else’s tastes. That’s perfectly okay because it takes a wide variety of people in this world to keep life interesting.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  What does success mean to you?

J.T. Evans:  There are different levels of this. Finishing a story is one success. Selling it is another. Making a living from writing is yet another one. For me, the validation of selling a story is success for me. This means that someone else out there in the world agrees with me that the words I’ve produced are worthy of editing and publication.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  Does success scare you or motivate you?

J.T. Evans:  100% motivation for me. I’ve always been driven to excel and improve. Success is just an indicator of that drive.

Kathie Scrimgeour: What do you do when procrastination is winning over writing?

J.T. Evans:  I have to be honest here. I’ve rarely have this problem. When I realize that I’ve spent the last 10 minutes on Facebook, I shake my head at myself, close the browser tab, and flip back to my writing project. Most of my procrastination efforts have been very minor. Usually it’s a case of I need to step away from the work and let my subconscious mull things over for a few minutes.

Kathie Scrimgeour: Writing conferences, workshops, and critique groups are an important part of the new writer's experiences (and more experienced writers too!). How have they helped you?

J.T. Evans:  Without the support group that I’ve found through my past critique group, my current critique group, Pikes Peak Writers, and others, I would not be writing today. My list of concrete items of how I’ve been helped would go on for pages, but the number one thing they’ve done for me is to support me and hold me up when my own self-doubts clouded my mind.

Kathie Scrimgeour: Do you attend the events and, if so, which ones are your favorites?

J.T. EvansI attend as many Write Brains and Writers’ Nights as I can get my hands on. I usually only attend the Open Critique when I’m a guest critiquer. I don’t want to take one of the eight slots from someone else because I already have a regular critique group. As I’ve already mentioned, the “Tools in the Toolbox” Write Brain has a warm spot in my heart because of the quality of the presentation.

Kathie Scrimgeour: Do you have any "self-help for writers" books that you use regularly? How do they help? Please share your list of your top 2 or 3.

J.T. EvansI have dozens of them. I used to have almost 100, but I’ve donated, gifted, or given away many of them that I won’t get further use from. My top ones are:

1.    On Writing – Steven King
2.    Dialogue – Gloria Kempton
3.    39 Most Common Writing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them) – Jack Bickham

Kathie Scrimgeour:  Does your reading influence your writing? How?

J.T. Evans:  I’m sure it does, but I can’t put my finger on it. I don’t write fan-fic, and I certainly don’t intentionally “steal ideas,” but I’m certain my concepts of what makes a good story is influenced by what I read.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  If you met someone who was thinking about starting to write, what advice would you give them?

J.T. EvansDon’t quit. Follow your passion. You can’t “find time.” You have to make time to do the things you love.

Kathie Scrimgeour: What is one (or a few) of the most important lessons you have learned so far?

J.T. Evans:  Be nice. It goes a long ways in all relationships. I’ve had doors opened for me that would normally be closed off because I was nice to someone.

Kathie Scrimgeour: What expertise in your background do you draw on in your writing? (e.g. were you a photographer, chef, court reporter, FBI agent?)

J.T. Evans:  My martial arts background (armed and unarmed) has served me very well in writing the multitude of fight scenes that I throw into my stories.

J.T. is all over the internet...check it out! 


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About the Author: Kathie Scrimgeour writes under the name K.J. Scrim and has been a member of Pikes Peak Writers since 2013. She has volunteered at the last two PPW conferences and coordinates the Sweet Success column. Kathie is a self-taught writer who delves into fantasy, fiction, and historical fiction. Her debut fantasy novel,The Manx, is scheduled to release later in 2017. She lives outside of Denver with her family, two dogs, and a crazy cat.

1 comment:

  1. I so admire your discipline, J.T. May I borrow some, please?


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