January 31 2017

Three Scientific Motivators From My Whiteboard

*Originally published on May 14th, 2016 at joelhovell.com

 

I do realize I have an infinite number of interests that includes creative writing, electrical engineering, and science. When it comes to the ‘day job’ career which parallels my current one as a writer, I spent nearly two years in college to figure out who I really was. I’ve been a student in several majors, electrical engineering, laboratory science (technicians who test your food before they reach the grocery store), and now my strive to complete a medical lab technician degree. Since I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in March of 2014, I have always been interested in health beyond the basics of diet and exercise. I wanted to know how this awful ailment which inflames the ileum, the final section of your small intestine, could be cured and not managed through drugs with nasty side effects. However, because I’m such a stubborn man, I realize should I wish to pursue a hail mary career in genetic research, I must continue beyond an Associate’s degree while possibly going far enough to earn a professional degree or a medical degree. The details of the near future, the subsequent decade, are not permanent stepping stones towards completion of this lofty goal of mine. No matter what, I should just enjoy the ride no matter where life takes me.

 

To the individual who doesn’t follow the latest advances in genetic engineering, to modify genes for the purpose of enhancing plants meant for crop production and as medical treatments for genetic defects in patients, this might seem farfetched. Instead of science fiction, these generalized ideas have been accomplished. However, as a result in my deep interest for genetics, I believe genetic modification should be utilized for moral purposes. These would include curing people of genetically related diseases like Crohn’s Disease through manipulation of the NOD2 gene possibly and ALS through another though unknown gene to me. What about the introduction of new types of crops which could rival current grains like wheat and corn with the enhancement of vitamins and minerals necessary for good health? How about new species of animals for the wilderness regions of Earth and for domestication purposes? Lastly, I believe one day, possibly within the next century, that people who are considered old could receive introductions of stem cells to replace all the various cells of the human body and become young again. This might seem science fiction to many, but if humanity can find the key to change human skin cells and revert them to stem cells, reprogram them to contain identical genetic information to someone in need, and inserted these stem cells into the body, would they grow younger? Regardless of whether or not these questions are answered, I suspect someone like me could participate in this new industry of scientific awe and wonder.

 

 

I refuse to believe humanity should wait to colonize the universe until all the problems on Earth are solved first. Besides, there will always be problems no matter what our current goals are, it’s part of the process towards greater achievement. I propose my support for the colonization of specifically the planet Mars and the Earth’s moon, the latter being the first step towards interplanetary societies. Forget the expensive cost of rocket launches, which SpaceX has managed to solve through innovation by having pieces of the rocket land at a specific location outside salty bodies of water, everybody cries out that cost is always a barrier to achieving something big. But we must remember, how much money is spent on technologies to kill each other? Exactly, if we stopped this war racket, there would be plenty of money space exploration and colonization. I might not wish to be in the first generation of space explorers who go beyond the moon, but I will certainly plan on going into space should the opportunity arise as a commercial option.

January 18 2017

Great News Literary Explorers!

After a one week delay, the paperback version of Straight From A Millennial is now available on Amazon! Also, the kindle version is now available for download.

However, the paperback version through Barne’s & Noble is still being processed by my publisher Createspace, and should be available for purchase in the coming days.

Have yourselves a wonderful day literary explorers!

Joel Hovell

January 15 2017

Why I Wrote Snow Wolf

*Originally published on May 29th, 2016 on joelhovell.com

I remember the local newspaper editor when he interviewed me for an article back in March and asked why I had decided to write a novel. I answered with because at the I had dropped out of college to find a part-time job while I was trying to discover what I really wanted to pursue, and it clicked inside my head to write Snow Wolf since my passion in high school and junior high was to write. However, the full story behind why I decided to write a novel has never been revealed to everyone.

When I was in elementary school, I started out in kindergarten hating to be told by my teacher I was required to write a paragraph about what I did during the weekend before I returned Monday morning on the school bus. To write four or five sentences was hard work back in the day. By year’s end, I had managed to become interested in learning more about how to spell various words, of my choice, and write them fix or six times on my worksheet. Slowly, I built up a broad vocabulary over the years and found myself able to vary my word choice whenever I needed to. 

In junior high, for sixth-grade English, I wrote several short stories (unfortunately I don’t have them anymore) when this was an alternative option to a worksheet assignment. Because I was the lone student in the class who chose this alternative, our teacher would read the short stories to the class and congratulate me for my hard work. I don’t remember writing any stories before this portion of my life thus far, so I expect this is where I had become a true writer at heart.

In eighth grade, I remember having to write a short story in 15 minutes or less for English class where our teacher collected them to mix together and make us guess who wrote them. I had written a story of a hunter in Alaska who had shot a moose and started to cut up the fresh carcass with an ax and nobody was able to correctly guess it was me. Everyone in the class was astonished by how well I had concealed my interests in hunting big game and the teacher was surprised by my knowledge of the subject since there was no time allowed for research on the internet (or in books, how old school). 

Throughout high school, my writing was limited to mostly homework assignments and occasional research papers. In private, however, I began to journal my angry thoughts because it was helpful to release the tensions with myself as I began to change mentally. In truth, it was during the summer of 2010 when this started because I wanted to capture a beautiful moment of my life when I met this teenage girl who wanted to speak with me while at youth group held on Monday nights in a local church. Unfortunately, I don’t have those documents anymore because they were painful to read later on and I felt guilty for having memories that exposed me as being a vulnerable person.

I graduated from high school in the top quarter of my class in June 2012 and prepared myself for college that fall. Less than two weeks into the summer break, I found myself having doubts over whether or not my interest to complete an Associate’s degree in natural resources was a good idea as jobs in this field were scarce. I decided to drop out of college to find part-time work until I truly learned what major I wanted to complete and earned the money to pay for the tuition.

In the meantime, I searched for ways to make money while as a self-employed individual. I scoured the internet for ideas that included everything from starting an organic dairy farm to starting a small poultry operation; at least anything agricultural related since I do have a farming background from growing up. One day, I found a generic article everyone online usually finds about how to make money fast. Near the end of this list, writing a book was mentioned. That’s when a lightbulb in my brain illuminated, and I had my idea for keeping myself occupied while I struggled and later surrendered the idea to find a part-time job. 

I wrote the introduction for the original version of Snow Wolf during the months of June and July in 2012, but it would be months before I truly started to write the novel. The first two years as a committed writer were difficult for me because of what occurred during that time in my life. The year 2012 was the first time I didn’t have a commitment to being at school, where all my friends were before graduation. I became more isolated as time progressed, but I did receive a job offer by my sister’s friend’s father to work in his cheese wrapping business. I made good money in my first five months employed there, but the paychecks steadily became smaller because the larger dairy corporations wanted to squeeze my boss out of business, or that’s what it appeared to me.

I managed to write nine short chapters for Snow Wolf for the original version titled as The White Wolf but stopped in early 2014 due to frustrations with myself that it wasn’t very good. I turned to learning calculus and other subjects related to a career as a mechanical engineer, which was the major I had decided to study in the fall of that year. Unfortunately, despite my deep interest in the subject, I dropped out after two days because I became so nervous while at school. It had been over two years since I was in a classroom, much less around dozens of people my age (I was 21 at the time). I struggled with myself and decided to seek help from the school ‘career counselors’ in order to put me on the fast track for reentering college in January 2015 as an electrical engineering student.

Four months lay between me and the beginning of the spring semester with nothing to do except help on the family dairy farm. Quickly, however, I looked at my notes I had written because I was still exploring to write books then, just not for fictional reasons. I asked myself why didn’t I try to write Snow Wolf again once I rewrote the outlines for the chapters? And that’s what I did over the course of September 2014. I started writing Snow Wolf the subsequent month and finished around Christmastime with 30 chapters and a 91,000+ word count (according to the complete first rough draft in my computer files anyway). Within a year, I managed to edit the manuscript for Snow Wolf twice on my own, twice with professional editors at Createspace, and later published the novel on Amazon before Christmas 2015 and gave paperback copies as a present to my parents and siblings. 

The condensed version for why I decided to write Snow Wolf though it took me three and a half years? Because it sounded like a good idea since I considered myself gifted with the ability to write and not become frustrated like my peers. I needed a reason to call myself a true writer because I didn’t have any material to prove I was one except for secretive journal entries and random poems whenever an idea popped into my head. In all, I think it was a good idea to realize if I had the guts to be a writer who spent hours alone and work with professional editors I didn’t know paid with money I had saved from my former part-time job. I might not have sold many books yet, but that’s because I’m barely known outside my community; if at all. And I’m too stubborn to give up, even if the odds are not in my favor.

January 12 2017

Update On Straight From A Millennial

Despite my anticipations to fully publish my first poetry book Straight From A Millennial on January 11th, 2017, the paperback version has been delayed due to issues with the book cover. Also, the kindle version (Amazon) of the book due to these issues has also been delayed.

Don’t worry, I hope to have the proof copy of this book approved once I receive it in the mail from Createspace Publishing.

However, ebook versions of Straight From A Millennial are available on Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks (search for Joel Hovell and the book should come up).

I thank everyone for their patience as these issues are being resolved.

 

Joel Hovell

January 1 2017

3 Things I Learned From Writing Snow Wolf

*Originally published on June 12th, 2016 on joelhovell.com

 

I remember reading a quote once about how all people who are considered experts were formerly beginners of their profession. What I took from this was the fact no matter where we came from and what we’ve been through in life, everyone has the opportunity to succeed. In essence, it doesn’t matter what our childhoods were like because it will never dictate what we accomplish as adults. 

Personally, I would still have written my first novel, Snow Wolf, because writing is what I enjoy. Now I have to prove to myself and those who wish to read my literature that I can rise above the challenges of life and find myself surrounded by the bestselling authors whose work mentored me. Along the way, however, I learned three important truths about the book writing process. If you don’t mind, I would be compassionate enough to describe them below.

1.) Don’t pause the story to smell the roses. When I submitted the fourth rough draft for my published novel, I already knew the line editor I hired was prepared to puncture numerous holes in the manuscript by removing entire paragraphs. The reason for this was because I used too many sentences to provide description for what environments my characters found themselves in. I would introduce the usual forest scene in the novel and then narrate what everyone was doing. Note to self, a couple sentences was all I really needed. The editor emailed the edited manuscript with the ‘over descriptive paragraphs’ eliminated that totaled almost 12,000 words (nearly 18% of the original 68,000 words I sent them). What I learned was how to use fewer words to describe a scene and carry on without getting carried away with details that instead ruined the smoothness of the book rather than helped visualize for the reader. You would be surprised how less is more in regard to writing novels.

2.) Potential readers need to know about the novel before publishing. My mistake was to keep Snow Wolf a secret until almost three weeks after I published the novel on Amazon in early December 2015. I felt compelled to give paperback copies to my family members before I truly went public with the novel, a bad choice on my part. Not only did I fail to sell enough copies to earn a suitable amount in royalties, I barely made enough to cover the more minor expenses to write the book. In other words, I lost money because it wasn’t a return in investment financial-wise though an exhilarating experience to learn from professionals about improving my craft. What I learned was that I needed to develop ways to connect with potential readers before the book was published. Though I continue to fail at this marketing thing, I’ve searched high and low for the best advice. Turns out Tim Grahl in his book Your First 1000 Copies knows what he’s talking about. I would recommend reading this since it has removed the scales from my eyes during this lengthy process towards more visualization of myself as a published author with new projects in the works.

3.) Fame and fortune should not be the end goal for your first book (or any subsequent book). I will admit for everyone with an internet access that I thought Snow Wolf was the best thing since sliced bread. I imagined how my world would magically transform once the enormous royalties started pouring in. Nothing could have been further from the truth. I still haven’t sold more than 20 copies, but the slap across the cheek in the form of a reality check was necessary. The goal of your book first and foremost should be because this is something you’ve dreamed of doing for quite some time. The idea of being an author with a novel on the bookshelves of the internet or in brick and mortar stores was what brought us to this point today. Once that moment occurs, it’s empowering to realize that you no longer are the same individual beforehand. You’re in business to sell books using any means possible that are moral; if you catch my drift. What I learned was sharing something for the entire human population to read that is dear to your heart and you would love to make a living through that manner. If you make enough from selling books to support yourself financially and no more, this is better than making a six figure income from a job that drains you.

 

If you can remember these three things, you’re far more ahead than where I was about one year ago. About those experts I mentioned earlier, don’t forget they learn new things everyday and use them to improve their craft. Have yourself a wonderful day and don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter found at the bottom of my site.

 

Cheers everybody.