Will J. J.

Day-to-day musings and occasional short stories for your delight.


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DARKNESS REFLECTED IS NOW IN PAPERBACK AND HARDBACK!!!!

Day 3618

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BIG NEWS!!! I am very excited to announce that Darkness Reflected is now available in hardback and paperback on Amazon!!! Click here to get your copy today!

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What is Darkness Reflected about? Darkness Reflected is a science fiction/suspense novel that asks one question: what if all our minds are connected in an unseen world, and what if you could go there? From the first moment I began outlining Darkness Reflected, I wanted most to create something bold and exciting that had never been done before; it was the only way to do my idea justice.

So much of what I read and watch is woefully predictable, and I wanted the twists and turns in Darkness Reflected to keep the reader guessing. With the novel’s main characters, I wanted to create complex and nuanced identities, and in the end, each of them carries a distinct piece of me at their core. With the Oneiros, the world at the heart of Darkness Reflected, I sought to create a place that captured the feeling of creativity, a landscape that felt impossible and real all at once.

If you feel like you’ve read everything and you’re searching for something new, read Darkness Reflected. You won’t regret it. The Oneiros is a world unlike any you have ever explored, and I invite you to visit 🙂

If you’re interested in reading the incredible story behind Darkness Reflected, click here, or click here to get your copy today.

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Updates Galore!

Day 3562

    Hello friends, I’ve got some big updates for you today!!

    First off, after several rounds of discussion and design, Darkness Reflected has a new cover!! I’m stoked to see it printed, and I feel like this cover really captures the excitement and mystery of the novel. Darkness Reflected is a science fiction, suspense novel CURRENTLY available for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Google Play, and will be available in hardback and paperback through Amazon very soon. If you’re interested in hearing more about the novel, feel free to check out the story behind the book HERE and for more all updates about Darkness Reflected, click HERE.

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    Second, I’ve got even MORE exciting news about Darkness Reflected. When I first self-published the book in March of 2014, it had one additional chapter than the version currently available. I took out the first chapter, because it was turning off too many readers, confusing rather than intriguing them. It was a painful decision, because that was one of my favorite chapters, but I recognized that it wasn’t drawing people in.

    Fast forward a year and a half to last month, and I was working with my publisher, California Times Publishing, on edits for the book. I sent them the original first chapter, asking their thoughts, and much to my surprise, they loved it. The major issue with the original first chapter was that it contained a great deal of intense, complex imagery, and with no time to set up or explain the scene, the chapter was simply too fast-paced and overloaded to convey the feeling I was trying to express. After talking with my publisher, I decided to rewrite the chapter, and it came out far more exciting, relatable, and intriguing after I was done. I stripped it down and focused on the urgency, and I’m pleased to share that I am reintroducing it back into the novel as a prologue. As a writer, getting a chance to correct my mistakes and improve my writing is an incredible feeling. I edited the entire novel over the past couple of months, and I just sent the my publisher the finished version of Darkness Reflected yesterday. Expect to hear more news on the book VERY soon 🙂

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Me and Fezz in Austin

    Lastly, in news unrelated to Darkness Reflected, I’m going to Japan!! My best friend Fezz lives has been living there for nearly a year, teaching English, and I’m going to visit him! We’ll be making our way through Tokyo, Kyoto, and climbing Mount Fuji. I’ve been really missing Fezz, and I’m thrilled to be exploring Japan with him 🙂 Heading out today, but I promise I’ll be back with lots of stories and pictures!


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BOOK PUBLISHING ANNOUNCEMENT!

Day 3520

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Hello my friends!

Today I bring you some wonderful news, news that I thought might never come. My science fiction novel, Darkness Reflected, is being published by California Times Publishing!! I don’t have details yet on when it will finally be released, but I am currently working with their team to design a new book cover and edit my first edition. When we’re done, it will be available on Amazon in paperback, hardback, and ebook editions! To all of you out there who have been asking me when Darkness Reflected will be available in a physical copy, I can FINALLY tell you that day is coming very soon, within the next few months. I will definitely keep you guys posted when I know more about the timeline, but expect news soon.

So, how did this happen? Quite unexpectedly, as it turns out. After self-publishing on Amazon Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Google Play, I promoted my book for a couple of months while submitting it to literary agents. Quite frankly though, after years of writing, editing, formatting, and self-publishing, I didn’t have much interest left in promoting my book. Additionally, after months and months receiving rejections or no response from literary agents, I shifted focus to other, more pressing areas of my life. This book was always a passion project for me, something I felt compelled to write, but not something I ever expected to give back to me financially.

About two months ago, I received a message on my Facebook author page from a representative of California Times Publishing. She had seen my book on Smashwords and was intrigued, asking me to send her a pdf copy, and I was happy to oblige. Two weeks later, I received an email from the head of California Times Publishing, detailing how much they liked my book and extending me an offer to publish. This sort of thing doesn’t just happen, and I was naturally very skeptical. No one wants to be scammed. After several straightforward conversations with CA Times and after contacting several of their authors for feedback, I felt satisfied that this was legit. This is a smaller publishing company, and their aim is to help indie authors grow and get noticed by an even bigger publisher, something that I very much agree with. I’m now working with them to edit my manuscript, design a new book cover, and they’re going to develop a marketing campaign to spread the word on Darkness Reflected. It’s all so exciting! I am incredibly stoked to get physical copies to all of you who have been asking, and to smell the fresh-printed pages of my very own copy 🙂

If you’ve never heard of Darkness Reflected, click here to learn more, and if you’re interested in learning about the making of the novel, click here. Writing this book was such a joy, and I never dreamed that it would be nearly the success that it has become. So many of you have reached out to me with such positive feedback and helpful criticism, and I want to thank you so deeply for all of your support and comments. It is because of you, my readers, that I continue to share my writings. This experience has been a dream come true.

Take care my friends 🙂


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The Wait Is Over!

Day 3030

At long last, the science fiction/suspense novel Darkness Reflected is now available as an ebook! Download it now for Nook, Kindle, iBooks, Google Play, and from all other major ebook retailers!

Download Darkness Reflected for kindle here

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Get it for Nook here

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Get it for iBooks here

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Find it on Google Play here

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For more information about Darkness Reflected, you can find my previous blog posts here

If you have trouble finding or downloading Darkness Reflected, feel free to email me at fantiway@yahoo.com. Hope you enjoy it! 🙂


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Darkness Reflected: The Story Behind The Book

Day 3029

          With my debut novel, Darkness Reflected, being released as an ebook tomorrow, I thought I would give you guys some insight into how this book came to exist. This novel may be a work of fiction, but I believe that the true story of its creation is every bit as interesting and dramatic as the book itself.

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          The inspiration for Darkness Reflected first came to me during a walk on a December night in 2010. I have always been fascinated by perception and memory, and I remember asking myself on that walk, what if we were able to remember everything we had ever experienced? What if every thought, every dream, and every experience we ever have is backed up somewhere, like an organic hard drive attached to our minds? Then I remember asking myself: how do you know that isn’t the case? Those three questions ran through my mind in a flurry, and I was so overtaken by the force of their magnitude that I was forced to stop in my tracks.
          I’m quite a curious person, and anyone who knows me can attest to the ridiculous volume of questions I’m always asking, often questions other people never consider. Imagination is a muscle, and like any other muscle, it gains strength with exercise and weakens with inattention. No matter what anyone else has told me, I’ve always clung to my imagination as a sanctuary through hard times, and it has yet to let me down. When the idea of an infinite storage place for the human mind popped into my head, I knew immediately that it held the potential for something incredible. As I stumbled my way home that evening, my mind ran wild with new concepts and possibilities.
          From the moment that I first wrote down the idea that would evolve into Darkness Reflected, it scared me. Not because the idea itself was frightening, but because it was so massive that I wasn’t sure I would be able to contain it. As if the challenge of writing an entire novel did not seem daunting enough, tackling a topic so infinite only amplified my doubt. So, as I brainstormed over the next couple of weeks, I decided to ground the story in something real, something familiar and identifiable that I knew well.
          While Darkness Reflected deals with such fantastical themes as alternate worlds and the limits of imagination, it is rooted by relationships and struggle. Every character in the novel has experienced intense anguish and grief, and the book is as much about their attempts to cope with those afflictions as it is about the wonder of their journeys. I chose that theme as an anchor because it is the one that has most shaped my life, the battle against sorrow and inner demons.

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          Even after the story had taken on a rough shape, I didn’t yet understand just how massive of an undertaking the novel would be. I jumped headfirst into a prologue, naive and hopeful, and after only two weeks and two chapters, the novel spit me back out. I realized that this story was going to take far more planning than I had anticipated and more patience than I had to give. I was only 18. While I had been writing short stories for 3 years at the time, there is a vast difference between free-writing or working off a rough outline and constructing a 70,000 word, behemoth, suspense/mystery/sci-fi novel with a non-linear structure that actually WORKED. I was afraid, and I knew that if I tried to write the novel just then, I would inevitably become discouraged and quit, or worse I would finish the novel, but it wouldn’t do justice to the vision I had conceived. So, in April of 2011, I set the idea aside.
          As time passed, the novel idea slowly drifted from the forefront of my mind to a place that I seldom visited. It lingered there, trapped in limbo, and my life went on. I wrote other short stories here and there, but for the most part, my life and my thoughts were dominated by school, work, and friends. I remember wistfully thinking to myself midway through 2012 that I would never return to the book, and that it would become yet another of those childhood dreams left unfulfilled, which we all carry. But that was not my path.

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          Why did I return to Darkness Reflected? Because of a woman. That might be the most cliché answer possible, but it is 100% the truth. In November of 2012, the woman I loved abandoned me quite suddenly, leaving a bottomless vacuum in my life. I shared a bond with this person unlike any I had ever known, and just when we had grown inseparably close, she chose to flee rather than facing the troubles that plagued her. I was devastated. I futilely sought refuge in a thousand different sources, and nothing abated the emptiness. It wasn’t until late December that I found something to fill that void. As it turned out, that something was Darkness Reflected.
          I was talking to an acquaintance just before Christmas of 2012, and she asked about my book idea, which I had offhandedly mentioned to her two years prior and she amazingly still remembered. I had not seriously thought about the idea for over a year, but at its mention, I recognized instantly that it was time for a resurrection. I knew that only a project as all-engrossing as this novel could distract me from the insufferable loneliness that gripped me.
          Newly refocused, I spent all of January 2013 outlining. I wrote detailed biographies for every character, even those that I knew would not appear in any scenes, until each character felt real in their complexity. The order of scenes was particularly difficult to map, because the novel diverges and converges on several separate storylines. All through this, I tried to leave my outline loose enough to allow room for impromptu changes when I started writing, so long as I reached the same endpoint for each chapter. There is little so exhilarating yet so chaotic as designing your own universe. Once my outline was finally complete, then came the actual writing.
          Composing a novel is a monumentally slow task. Nothing happens overnight. You add bit by bit, and progress does not come quickly. I started by setting small goals for myself, like finishing one chapter a week. Most weeks I only had one free day that I could dedicate to writing, so I would spend the rest of the week thinking about how I wanted that chapter to feel. By the time that day came around, I had already created the atmosphere in my mind, and all I had to do was dictate from my brain. That being said, there were countless scenes that I, quite frankly, just didn’t know how to describe. I had to invent unique ways to illustrate much of the imagery. Then there were little issues I never could have foreseen, like how to avoid using the word “say” too much in dialogue with three or more characters. It was equal parts discovery and creation.
          At the end of six months, I had written the first draft of Darkness Reflected. While I was eager to jump into editing, I thought it would be beneficial to take some time away from the novel so that I could return with a fresh perspective. Just before I finished the first draft, I also started a new job part-time at the marketing firm where I currently work, along with balancing a full class schedule in the final semester of my undergraduate career. I didn’t have much free time, but after a month to clear my mind, I devoted what little time I did have to editing. Four months later, Darkness Reflected was a far more complete and fulfilling novel.

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          People ask me all the time, why did you write a novel? The answer I usually give is: I didn’t have a choice. A very wise teacher once told me that the best stories we will ever write are those we feel compelled to write, and Darkness Reflected is definitely a testament to that statement. From the moment that first idea entered my mind three Decembers ago, I felt an irresistible attraction to this story. Even when I set the book aside, it lingered and refused to be forgotten. Once I started back up last year, the momentum could not be stopped.
          At times, the writing was a struggle, and every paragraph was maddening because I couldn’t seem to find the exact wording to suit my purpose. But even then, I kept going. Part of me felt that this might be my only chance. No one knows what tomorrow might bring, and I refused to waste this opportunity. Another part of me felt that I owed it to the characters in the novel to finish their story, as if they were real people who would cease to exist if I did not take the time to create them. Writing this book was easily one of the most rewarding adventures I have ever taken. Looking back, it astonishes me how much my life has changed since I took that walk years ago.
          Even now, the journey is not yet complete. After years of writing and months spent designing cover art, researching the fiction market, and formatting, Darkness Reflected will be released tomorrow as an ebook, but I am still searching for a larger publisher to distribute the novel on a grander scale. My hope is that this story will one day grace the shelves of book stores, and I continue to work toward that goal each day.
          Darkness Reflected will be available as an ebook for download tomorrow in the iBookstore, Google Play store, Nook bookstore, Kindle bookstore, Kobo, and other major ebook retailers. You can preorder it in the iBookstore, Nook bookstore, and Google Play store now.

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I want to give a special thanks to Catherine Ryan Howard who runs the wonderful site catherineryanhoward.com. Without your guide to ebook formatting, I might never have discovered how to convert my novel into an ebook, much less make it look professional. Your blog was a tremendous help, and anyone interested in formatting an ebook can find the guide here.


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Darkness Reflected RELEASE DATE!! 3/21/2014

Day 3019

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     I am very pleased to announce that my self-published debut novel, Darkness Reflected, will be released for download as an ebook on March 21st!! It will be available in the Nook bookstore, Kindle bookstore, iBookstore, and at a variety of other ebook retailers including Kobo, Flipkart, Oyster, and Scribd. Pre-orders in the iBookstore and for Nook will begin in just a couple of days. Sorry Kindle users, but Amazon doesn’t allow self-published authors to set pre-orders, though it will be available for Kindle on the 21st.

When I tell people that I’m publishing a novel, the first question they usually ask is what the book is about. I always find that question difficult, because this story is so fantastical and unravels as a mystery with several moving parts, so it’s quite a challenge to describe accurately without giving too much away. That being said, I’ve come up with a back cover for the novel, complete with a fitting synopsis that I feel does the novel justice, and I want to share it with you. Because, let’s be honest, everyone loves reading the summary on the back of a book.

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dun, dun, DUNNNN

     The next questions I usually hear are, “Is it in stores?” and “Can I get a print copy?” The answer to both of those is: not yet, and I’m not sure when that will change. When I finished the final draft of Darkness Reflected several months ago, I promptly started sending out query letters to literary agents in the hope that one would take me on as a client and help me get this beast onto bookstore shelves. Almost immediately, I learned that publishing time is slow time.

Even if an agent had fallen in love with this novel the day I sent them the query letter, it would have taken many months or even years for Darkness Reflected to be published. As it is, I am not yet an established name in the literary community, and my novel does happen to be a hybrid in terms of genre, so most agents swiftly turned me down or never responded. It’s not their fault either, though. Literary agents receive so many unsolicited queries everyday that they have to find a way to filter them, and that means that many novels, even great ones, never get a second glance. I am still sending queries out to agents, and one day Darkness Reflected will grace bookstore shelves, but I knew that day would not come for quite some time, so I decided to self-publish.

Once I set myself on that course, I was faced with the choice of publishing as an ebook, print publishing on my own, or both. The difficulty with print publishing on your own is that each copy costs you a LOT more than it would a larger publisher because you cannot afford to purchase in bulk as they would. If I had gone that route, I would have had to charge upwards of $30 per copy just to cover my own costs, and I didn’t think that was reasonable. Instead, I chose to publish solely as an ebook, where I was able to set the price at $4.99!! Seemed like the obvious choice to me.

So mark your calendars my friends, because on March 21st, Darkness Reflected will be unleashed 🙂


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Welcome!

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Day 2994 

     Hello, and welcome to my blog! My name is Will, and I am a 22-year-old operations specialist at a web-based marketing firm in Austin, Texas. That’s the day job, one that I enjoy thoroughly. In my spare time I am a fitness enthusiast and aspiring writer. I recently graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and I was fortunately able to stay in this wonderful city after finishing school. This blog will focus on my day-to-day thoughts and will include some of my short pieces of writing.

     I’ve been a journaler for many years, but there’s a huge difference between recording your thoughts and sharing them with the world. I had wanted to start a blog for so long, but I just couldn’t seem to get myself to sit down and actually go through the motions of setting everything up. You know how it can be, when you want to try something new and promising, but your mind bombards you with every reason you should keep things within your comfort zone. I used to fear that I would run out of thoughts to share. If anything, I suspect now that I will have the opposite issue, because my brain never seems to shut down. I constantly jot down random thoughts on my phone throughout the day because I don’t want to lose the few gems in the overwhelming tide. Hardly a night goes by when I don’t wake up in the dark and furiously record some wild dream. So rest assured, this blog will not be lacking in content. I also used to wonder if my voice was important enough to broadcast or whether what I had to say would be enjoyable for others, but at some point I realized that I could never be a writer if I didn’t believe in my own message. Anywho, let’s jump into it.

 

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Free time
 
     Something that has been on my mind a lot recently is time, specifically free time. I don’t think it actually exists. Free time is supposed to be time available for anything and uncommitted from any other duties, but is it actually free? I remember one of my favorite high school teachers explaining the concept of opportunity cost in relation to decisions. Every time you choose a course of action, the opportunity cost is the sum of all benefits you could have received if you chose to do something else. In this sense, none of our time is ever truly “free.” Sure it may be free in the sense that we have freedom to choose what we would like to do with the time, but there is always a cost in the form of something else we choose not to do.

     I find this sentiment especially poignant when I feel myself loafing around for too long. It’s like my mind is reminding me of all those other things I wanted to accomplish today, and guilting me back into action. I will say this: any of you readers who do not have to work or only work part-time, please do not take your leisure time for granted. I worked during my last year of college and went full-time at my office only a few days after I graduated, and being that consistently busy with work responsibilities definitely alters your perception of time, whether you want it to or not. Those little bits of time to yourself become invaluable.

 

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Life Alone
 
     I recently moved into a new apartment, and I was unprepared for just how much of a transition it would be. When I first came to Austin, I lived in a dorm room with my closest high school friend. After that, I moved into a four-bedroom apartment with three other classmates and lived there for two years before renting a room out of a house for six months. This new apartment, while wonderful, is my first home all to myself. It’s in the perfect location and is far classier a place than I thought I would be able to afford right out of school, but there are little changes in lifestyle because of this place that I was woefully unprepared for.
Example: silence. You don’t think about how loud your home is until you move somewhere quiet. In my old apartment and the house after that, I would hear all sorts of noises through the walls. Sirens and bass-blasting cars were commonplace, not to mention the sounds of my roommates milling about. It all blended together into a soothing harmony. My new place is in another part of town, and it is dead silent. When I lay my head down to sleep, I can hear the ticks of my clock on the wall across the room. Definitely not something I am used to. I keep music playing way more often now, just to fill the air.
Something else that I never noticed until recently is how little I talk out loud when I’m alone. I’m not sure about you, but I just don’t tend to speak much when I’m by myself. I can read my own mind, so what’s the need? It’s just funny when you finally say something out loud and the sound surprises you. It is amazingly easy to forget what your own voice sounds like if you don’t use it.

 

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Darkness Reflected
 
     I love writing fiction, usually stories with a twist on reality. I grew up reading and watching a lot of science fiction, so I have naturally been drawn to stories with a tinge of sci-fi to this day. Just over a year ago, I picked up a project I had shelved years earlier and transformed it into my first book, a mystery/sci-fi novel called Darkness Reflected. The plot draws from various elements of my life and uses them as seeds to grow the fantastic. I am currently sending out queries to literary agents in the hope that one will take me as a client and get this sucker published. In the meantime, however, I am working to get Darkness Reflected self-published through lulu.com. I will definitely keep you updated on the progress for this project along with several short stories I’m trying to get published. If you’re interested, you should be able to read Darkness Reflected very shortly 🙂