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On Becoming a Writer

WHY WE WRITE  “Talent is interest applied.” —Bob Ross Writers write because we must, but why we must is always a story in itself.

I started writing when I was eighteen—mostly poetry, mostly about unrequited love for a dark-haired girl who danced ballet and never did properly break my heart (sorry for the cliché; it’s just the truth). Years prior, my mother left me, which has plenty to do with unrequited love and unresolved emotions finding their way onto paper. Feeling unloved and misunderstood are recurring themes in my work because those things have been my life. I reckon that if you’re serious about writing, you’ve got your own well of recurring themes you draw from.

I was good at poetry. I liked what I wrote and so did other people. Some of these people were terribly encouraging and I’m strengthened by their words to this day. The counsel of community was pivotal to my early growth, but the truly helpful critics were few and far between. These people were naturally talented and …
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The Writers of the Future Contest 2018 and My Honorable Mention

I was surprised to learn that I received an honorable mention for my third quarter, 2018 entry of the prodigious WRITERS OF THE FUTURE CONTEST.

Honestly, I submitted on a whim because it had been about six years since I'd tried.

Although I did not win, I consider this a win because it means professional, working writers and editors think highly of my work.

One day I will win one of these things.

My Honorable Mention: The League of Utah Writers 2018 Writing Contest

Collect and celebrate the small victories. We reach our goals one hill at a time.

I'm happy to report that I received an honorable mention in 2018's Writing Contest for the category of *Prose: First Chapter (Novel).* This contest is judged by professional authors from outside Utah, so that's something.

If you don't follow my FB author page, Daniel Rodrigues-Martin, I'd love your support. I'm also on Twitter, but only because I have to.

The honorably-mentioned chapter, "The Fates of Stars and People," comes from the beginning of my third book in the Ark Saga, Goddess from the Machine, and is included below.

THE FATES OF STARS AND PEOPLE (c) 2014-18 by Daniel Rodrigues-Martin. All rights reserved.
It was poetry to die like this, rain falling in sheets from the mouth of an angry sky, all the cosmos peering through the cloud cover at the man’s last moments. Did the stars ponder the fates of humanity as humanity pondered the fates of stars? Or was it simply…

Some Challenges of Fictional Languages in Worldbuilding

Languages in the Ark Saga are not any Earth Prime language. My philosophy of writing the characters’ idiom – how they speak and write as natives – was rooted in the principle that my narrative style is a direct translation of their fictional language (vocabulary, syntax, and grammar) into idiomatic American English.

Years into writing the books, I formalized unique alphabets for two of the languages represented in the fictional world of the Ark Saga. For the language the main characters speak, I realized that, given my philosophy of language within the story, any time a unique letter was named, there was not a complete correspondence between the English alphabet and the fictional alphabet. What this meant was that any time a character wanted to talk about the language they speak, they didn’t call it “English.” When any character had to directly name a letter or directly spell a word, they had to name the letter(s) in their language, not English. When an acronym was used, there wasn’t d…

How to Get Published: Two Takeaways from the League of Utah Writers Summer Symposium (2018)

On June 16, 2018, the League of Utah Writers (LUW) held its Summer Writers Symposium at the University of Utah. The symposium covered a broad spectrum of topics from the value of poetry to the agenting vs. independent publishing debate. I had two main takeaways from the event.

#1 Success at Self-Publishing Means Sustained Hard Work (…And Probably Isn’t for Me)
Indie romance author Cami Checketts led a session titled: “Self-Publishing: Is It Right for You?” She provided some practical advice about different marketing sites (Bookbub) and the importance of sharing success and building a friendly community of co-writers and “cheerleaders.” Before taking the self-publishing path, Ms. Checketts had a literary agent and was traditionally published, but found consistent success challenging and traditional pathways restrictive. She was also not a fan of the publisher’s sizable cut.
The main takeaway of Checketts’s talk for me was that self-publishing is an all-in path to success. Ms. Checketts…

Mistborn Trilogy Review: 3/5 or 6.5/10

The Skinny: At the end of the day, there are better fantasy stories out there than Mistborn—probably from Sanderson himself.
Full Review: The Mistborn Trilogy, by Brandon Sanderson


In 2009 I broke ground on my first major sci-fi series. Somewhere around two-and-a-half books into writing, I attended my first writers’ conference in downtown Chicago, at an old hotel on Michigan Avenue. Though I write fiction fairly profusely considering I’m not being paid a living wage to do it, I prefer memoirs, biographies, and journalism over most fiction. Authors who write in these genres tend to have a stronger grasp of the nuts and bolts of good writing and compelling narrative, while a lot of speculative fiction authors are great with broad concepts and intriguing ideas and worldbuilding at the expense of compelling prose. Though the latter fascinates me when done well, the former is necessary for me to truly enjoy a story.
In seeking advice from readers around this time, acclaimed author Brandon Sa…