Turning Readers Into Writers

052 - Lewis Jorstad, The 10 Day Novelist

March 04, 2021 Emma Dhesi, Lewis Jorstad Season 1 Episode 52
Turning Readers Into Writers
052 - Lewis Jorstad, The 10 Day Novelist
Show Notes Transcript

What's in this episode?

Founder and CEO of The Novel Smithy, Lewis Jorstad takes time out to tell me about his journey into fiction, working with writers and starting his online business.

A fantasy writer at heart, Lewis has given himself the freedom to write in whatever genre and tell whatever story he wants. Writing non-fiction gives him that level of freedom.

Positive feedback from readers, and noticing a number of common questions about novel writing, he knew he had to put the posts together in a cohesive way.

We discuss the importance of getting that first draft down. Once it's written, you can revise and improve.

The Story Structure series on The Novel Smithy has been one of the most popular, even for those that want to go against the trend. Understanding the rules of structure, give you the freedom to break them.

If you're someone who finds it difficult to find the time to write, The 10 Day Draft is the book for you. It's not easy, says Jorstad, but it's doable. Getting that first draft down takes away the fear factor, proves to yourself that you can do it, and will release you to repeat the process.

Lewis kindly talks us through his outlining process, going from the vaguest of idea to the concept, to who's the protagonist and what do they want.

From there, you can build everything else. Lewis digs into this more in our conversation.

We then move onto how Lewis Jorstad organises his schedule so he can fit in 'all the things'. He describes himself as a 'binge writer'. He focuses on the project at hand until it's complete because he can't split his attention over the course of one day.

Listen to how Lewis organises his month to ensure everything gets done on time, and more about how he works with writers, helping them finish their manuscript so it's ready to publish or query agents.

We move onto Lewis' own fiction and the pros and cons of using a Pen name if you write across genres.

Links mentioned in the episode:


Associated blog post:


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Emma Dhesi:

Before we dive in this week's episode is brought to you by my Patreon page over patreon.com for supporting the production costs of the podcast each month, you'll receive additional conversations with each week's guest, you'll receive a personal thank you for me. And of course, a shout out on the show. It's an exclusive community of writers who for only $3 a month wants to support the show and ensure it continues. If you'd like access to additional material and a shout out on the show, go to patreon.com/emmadhesi. So come on over to patreon.com/emmadhesi, where I'll be waiting to welcome you into the family. Okay, let's dive in to today's episode. Well, hello, and welcome back to another episode of turning readers into writers. And I am so excited because today is the 52nd episode of the show, which means this show has been officially going for its first year, I can't leave it. The years flown past. The podcast itself has gone through a few different transformations. as it grows, and it matures and I become more growth and more mature. Here's my podcasting life. I want to say thank you to everybody who has taken the time to listen to the show, who has commented and who has given their support. I so so appreciate it and I'm absolutely thrilled to be here still doing it. It's been such fun and and long may it continue. So I just wanted to jump on at the beginning here and say thank you so much for supporting me. I really appreciate it. And I hope you enjoy today's one year anniversary edition with Lewis Jorstad let's crack on with today's show. Lewis Jorstad is a best selling author and certifiable history nerd who helps others tell compelling, memorable stories over at the novel smithy. When he isn't working on his next book in his 10 day novelist series, you can find him playing old Gameboy games and trying to explain the nuances of feudal Japan. You can also check out his free ebooks in the novel Smithy resource library, and grab some for yourself. There is a best selling author and editor, a lover of reading and travel and a child that hides, he hopes to visit every country in the world before he dies. But for now, he spends his time working on a sword and sorcery novel called 'The child hunters', and teaching up and coming writers from the comfort of his blue couch. So let's dive into today's conversation with Lewis. Well, Lewis, thank you so much for joining me today. I'm really thrilled to have you on the show, because I've been following you for some time now. So I'm glad to have the excuse to chat to you.

Lewis Jorstad:

I'm very excited to be here. Thank you for getting in touch.

Emma Dhesi:

So you run the novel Smithy. But I'm interested to know kind of before that, what brought you to the world of fiction and the world of writers?

Lewis Jorstad:

So I was a nerdy kid who loves books, I mean, forever. And never really took it seriously. I you know, every kid who's an avid writer, you know, they jot down their stories, what they think they're going to write, you know, you get a chapter in and you usually give up with it. I had a drawer full of notebooks. And then in college, I sort of realized that I had a moment where I was like, you know, I need to figure out what makes me happy, like what what will I pursue professionally, so that I don't get stuck in a rut that I was seeing some of my friends get stuck in. And I decided that writing seemed like a natural fit. And I dove into taking my fiction more seriously. And in the process found that I had a knack for teaching that two others as in in sort of an editor's capacity, and realize that maybe that was a good fit for me. And that's how I kind of slowly snowballed into eventually starting the novel Smithy and writing a bunch of books and, and working with a bunch of writers and it's been a blast, the best I've ever made.

Emma Dhesi:

It's good fun and but it's quite kind of departure from what you mentioned in your your bio, which is having a love of feudal Japan, and traveling kind of more generally. So where some of your favorite places been, and do you manage to incorporate those into your fiction at all, because what type of fiction do you write?

Lewis Jorstad:

I primarily write fantasy, but one great part about Mostly writing nonfiction for a living is that I can kind of write whatever I want. For my fiction, I don't worry as much about speaking to a genre, which is nice. I actually currently have a fantasy novel in progress and a cyberpunk novel in progress, which is not related to each other. But it's just stories I'm excited about. And yeah, I think my, my traveling earlier in life has influenced that I would love to be traveling more, but obviously, with the state of the world, that it'll be a little while. But um, I got to spend a lot of time in England actually, as a younger person. I lived in Oxford for a couple months, which was fantastic. One of the best experiences of my life. I've actually, ironically, never been to Japan, it's on my bucket list. But I'm in college, my my degree was actually in feudal Japanese history, and cold war politics of all things. So I'm not not closely related to my professional work now, but it definitely influences a lot of my fiction, that kind of political aspect. And just the general sense of, I don't wanna say doom and gloom of the Cold War, but like that feeling of oppressive oppression, you know, there's that always that threat hanging over things I find fascinating from a historical perspective. Glad I don't live in that, but fascinating to write about, I guess.

Emma Dhesi:

Yeah, certainly a little conflict, which is key for novel writers

Lewis Jorstad:

Yeah. Yeah, lends itself well, to fiction.

Emma Dhesi:

So as I'm we've kind of mentioned, you run an amazing resource called the novel slippy. And I'm wondering, you know, when did you start that? And what prompted you to go from writing your own fiction, to helping other writers get started and publish their fiction?

Lewis Jorstad:

So at first, the novel Smithy. The idea was that it would be a way to help me in a, in a kind of strange way. Sometimes the best way to learn something is by teaching it to others. And I had, I mean, I had read every book on fiction writing I could get my hands on for years at that point, I had just anything I could, I could find i was i was reading and enjoying. And I was helping other sort of friends and classmates and some acquaintances with their fiction. And started to realize that that might be the path I wanted to take in life professionally, if I could. And I decided to start the novel Smithy as a way to take what I had been learning and teach it to others as a way to both further my own understanding and maybe make some connections get in touch with some people and and sort of see what was out there in terms of the possibilities. And then, yeah, it I enjoyed that aspect of it so much, you know, I, I love writing fiction. But I also found that I was really enjoying writing these blog posts, and I started getting emails from readers asking questions, and, you know, corresponding with them was so rewarding, that I just sort of put more and more focus into that and ended up ended up making it my day job.

Emma Dhesi:

So the dream for many of us Yay,

Lewis Jorstad:

yeah, it's, it's a dream come true.

Emma Dhesi:

So did it start off as a simple blog, and then it's kind of gathered momentum from there and expanded into what it is now?

Lewis Jorstad:

Yeah, it started out as just just a blog. I think about eight months, in six or eight months in, I started, I started offering just sort of consultation services, which was similar to what I had already been doing with people in person. But just sort of formalized it and, and did it online. And, you know, early on, I just got a few people, it was very young. And at that point, I decided that I would love to write not just the blog posts, but turn that into an actual, you know, book, like a make a process. You know, blog posts tend to be very specific, you know, how to choose the right point of view. But that is part of such a larger writing process, that I decided I wanted to write a book that would walk people through that more clearly. And so about a year in to writing the blog, I published the first book, and after that, things started to take off, I started to do more and more consultations and write more books and, you know, turn into courses and a whole bunch of stuff. But early on it, it was just a blog, until I started, started to see where it, it might take itself.

Emma Dhesi:

Mm hmm. I think that's a great sort of parallel for anyone listening who's writing their first book, you know, you start with, in your case, the blog post, in our listeners case, it might be the first few chapters, we keep going, you keep going and eventually the story starts to unfold. The character starts to develop. you produce your book, you know, It's a great kind of summary, what's the word I'm looking for metaphor, maybe. But how you just got to start somewhere, you've got to be consistent, keep going, keep producing. And eventually you get your book, you get your first your first book, and then your first published book, and then your second and so forth. So it's a really nice, sort of parallel there. I really like that. And you mentioned that you started getting responses from people who are reading your blog posts. And so what were some of the more common questions you got, or some of the more common struggles that you saw new writers come up against?

Lewis Jorstad:

So I found that early on, most of my blog posts were geared towards like the craft of writing very much like character development, story structure, point of view, very technical, in a way. And so early on most of the questions I got were related to that, you know, that's how people found me. And so they would ask really often granular questions like, you know, well, I have two main characters, and, you know, one has a positive arc, and one has a negative arc, and how do I weave the two together, like very specific stuff, which was really rewarding for me, because it, it forced me to think about things that I might not have otherwise, because they were so specific. And then I found that, you know, oftentimes, people will just send me a one off question, and I'll answer them, and it kind of ends there. But I've had a handful of people where they've gotten in touch, and we started going back and forth more. And I almost always find that it starts with a really granular question. And then it as we email back and forth, it, it almost always comes back to I'm really intimidated. And I have writer's block, and I'm not sure. And it's almost like they're, they're hiding behind that, like, specific craft focused issue. And, and almost getting caught up in that. And letting themselves worry about that when really what they're struggling with is they're intimidated by their story. They're intimidated to actually start writing. And so you know, I answer all the craft questions. And then I almost always come back to, but you just got to write it, get your first draft down, because everything can be fixed in editing. And that's, that's when you want to worry about this complicated stuff. Just let your story be what it is, for your first draft. And I've had a couple people after a bunch of emails back and forth, come back, you know, months later and be like, I just finished my first draft. Like it all came clear. You know, now let's talk about the specific stuff because now I have to start editing. And it's been great. It's been fantastic. Yeah. So yeah, I find that most questions come back to that.

Emma Dhesi:

Oh, I'm a big believer in that myself and kind of what and, and the more disgraces that, you know, dirty first draft, and getting it down and getting it written, and then worrying about all those little details, as you say, and, and kind of delving under the surface of the story. A little bit color overwrites. I'm one of those people that actually underwrites. And I have to, with each revision, adding a layer, adding a layer, add another layer. And either way it works. You just got to get that first draft done. I wholeheartedly agree. Yeah. Now you have a number of great resources on the website, but one of them is your complete story structure series. And I wonder what you can tell listeners about that series?

Lewis Jorstad:

Yeah, that was, ironically enough, one of my most popular series of blog posts, and also the first ones I wrote. So when I started the blog, like I was deep in story structure at the time, personally, in my own writing. And so I was like, well, this is a natural place to start. So I wrote, I think it's like a 14 article series, like the first thing I ever posted on the blog. Just because that's what I was reading at the time. That's what I was studying. And I found people really liked it. And this past summer, actually went back and updated all those articles, obviously. And, you know, in two and a half years, I've learned a lot, my writing style has improved, you know, in terms of how I present stuff, so I completely overhauled all of those. And yeah, they they're by far one of the most, most popular things on the blog. Which is nice, because it's hard to cover that much information in a single post. So having it as a big series, you know, story structure, you can get so granular into all of this. And it's really valuable. I think, even for people who don't like structure, I think story structure is valuable, because even if they don't get into the real specifics, and that's something I talked about in the series, you know, there's an introduction post, that's just the basics. I mean, just high level like, sort of the the patterns of stories. And then you get into the specifics later on. But even for someone who doesn't like structure, just to know that basic pattern, like the way a story flows, is so valuable. So I've been thrilled to see see the response to that and see that it's, it's been beneficial to people, especially considering it was my first series of posts. Knowing that those still hold up has been quite nice.

Emma Dhesi:

Yeah, and just knowing that you're giving your listener your readers what they needed, and they were kind of with you at that stage. Now, one of the things that my audience have told me is that time management is one of the things that they grapple with. And it can take time to kind of, to be to carve out that time on a regular basis to write, and I know that you've also got a book that can help with that, or a series of books, I should say, isn't it? Can you tell us about that as well?

Lewis Jorstad:

Absolutely, um, so I mentioned that about a year, year and a half into writing the blog, I published my first book called The 10 day outline. And so that was, you know, I, I'm, you said that you're a bit of an underwriter I am by far and over writer I am, you know, I have people email me saying that they're getting caught up in their story, and they just need to write and I'm like, me, too. You know, it's, that's very much the way I am. I love outlining, I love the planning side of writing. I find it very rewarding. So I I created, you know, I had created a process for myself for outlining, to stop myself from overdoing it, if that makes sense, you know, to stop myself from outlining forever, and never writing, which, for me is very easy to do. And it was about a 10 day process. And I and I decided that makes sense as a book, you know that that wouldn't make sense as a series of blog posts, I'm going to write this as a book. And then the response to that was so positive that I decided I would do a whole series based on that. So there's currently three books in the series, the 10 day outline, the 10 day draft and the 10 day edit. And then the fourth book is actually coming out in March of this year, which is really exciting. I'm having, I'm actually writing it right now, and having a blast. But the idea behind the whole series is that you take all the different aspects of writing a novel, you know, outlining it, planning it, writing your first draft, and then actually editing that first draft into a polished final product. And you break those down into about 10 days worth of work. That was much easier when I was writing the 10 day outline, because planning a story in 10 days is very doable. Whereas writing a first draft in 10 days is very difficult. But the idea behind it was that I had so many people coming to me saying I just don't have time, I feel so intimidated by this, that I wanted to write a series that said, you do have time, it will be hard, but it is not impossible. You know, writing I mean, writing a novel is difficult. I don't like to sugarcoat that for people, but it's not impossible, it's, it's absolutely doable. You just have to, I mean, the idea behind the book is you just have to carve out 10 days where you just focus on writing, that's just your writing day, you know, find a babysitter for the kids, you know, beg your mom to watch them for you, you know, take take the day off anything else you need to do. And just get up, eat breakfast, sit down and write, you know, get 5000 words out in a day. And do that for 10 days, and you have a first draft. And after that everything falls into place. Once you have that draft, it's so much easier. Which, you know, I've had people come back to me and say that they they love the 10 day draft, but of the three, it's the by far the most difficult to do. And you know, they've said I took that process and just stretched it across 10 weeks. And I'm like, that's fantastic. You know, however it works in your schedule. It's just, it's trying to take the, I guess the intimidation out of it. Which I've been, I've been thrilled to know has worked for people because, you know, I also absolutely, when I had people beta reading the book, they were like, this sounds good. But this is difficult. I'm like I know. But I did it twice before I published the book to make sure it was possible. And I'm like it is possible. It's just it's meant to be hard because writing a novel is hard. But it's not. It's doable. And that's the important part. It is what you're talking about a minute.

Emma Dhesi:

Yeah, I imagine as well, you know, if you put that kind of in and really knuckle down and do those 10 days and get that first draft down. When you come to do your second book, it's never going to be as hard because as you as you do it and then also you know you can do it. So that in itself gives you that impetus and that confidence that you can go on and do it a second or third time. So wonder exactly right. I wonder if you just give us a quick just a quick synopsis of your outlining what's your outlining process, that kind of top level of how you outline a book?

Lewis Jorstad:

Oh, certainly, um, well, for the outlining process, the idea is that you start with just the vaguest idea. Some people come into it, and they already have a really clear picture of their story. And it's just a matter of kind of fleshing that out. But for me, at least, when I start writing a novel, I'll just kind of like, wake up in the morning and be like, that's an interesting idea. You know, but it's so vague, it's so general, it might just be like, Oh, that's a cool building. What can I do with that? You know? So the idea is that you start with a super vague idea, and then you establish, what's the conflict? General? I mean, very top level, like, what what is what is going on here? Who is my protagonist? And what do they want? And from there, you can kind of build everything else. So, you know, I kind of go through a process of brainstorming, you know, thinking about all the possibilities I structure it is like a, almost like a Socratic method, questioning yourself. So writing down a series of questions about your story, you know, say you have a very vague idea of your conflict. Okay, why is this conflict happening? How, how will it play out? Who has a stake in this conflict? Why do they have a stake in this conflict? And then you answer, you know, you answer those questions, and then you take your answers, and you ask two more questions about each of your answers. So it forces you to kind of dig deeper and dig deeper. And it doesn't let you get away with just just taking your first answer at face value, because there's always more under the surface. And generally, I just do that twice. So I do the first set of answers and another set of questions based on that. But technically, you could go forever. And I've occasionally had a couple sticky parts that I just haven't figured out yet. And I'll go five, six levels deep with it until it finally clicks into place. And from there, it's just a matter of lending some structure to that. So you have now these, these answers, you know, this sort of scattershot understanding, and now it's a matter of organizing that, you know, I start by organizing around the plot, just because I find that tends to be easier for a lot of people. And then once you understand kind of the basis of your plot, you can go in and say, Okay, now how do my characters interact with that? Who's my cast? You know, why do they care? How do they fit into all this. And then just sort of ended Off with you know, final details, world building details. I'm one of those people who likes to outline all of my scenes ahead of time. When I write my, my drafts, I write them scene by scene, I don't write them by chapter like a lot of people do. So that's a big part of my outlining process. I know a lot of people don't like to go that granular. So even in the book, I told people, you know, this is pretty optional. Some writers just don't mesh with this. And that's completely fine. But here's how to do it, if you think this would be valuable. And so yeah, the idea is that you start with a very fine, vague idea, and then expand that out, and then make it more specific, again, kind of like a diamond shape, you know, you get a bunch of ideas, and then you organize them down into something structured, is the idea.

Emma Dhesi:

I like that because I from what you how you're describing, it feels like actually, for those that consider themselves to be pastors, and don't like the feeling of being constrained by an outline. And you could actually just use the top half of that diamond to start with your initial template and kind of brainstorm all those different ideas, and then kind of go from there. So they work quite well for both plotters and Panthers. It sounds like

Lewis Jorstad:

I find that in a way. Yeah, I think you're absolutely right. And, and I think to some extent, for those of us who do like to plot and you know, who are big planners are outlines are kind of our first drafts. Because you're going through that that same discovery, you're just doing it in shorthand, which, for me, I find that valuable personally, because, you know, I'm doing all the same brainstorming, I'm doing all the same problem solving, I'm just doing it in bullet points, rather than in paragraphs, which, you know, as someone who, unfortunately doesn't write fiction, full time, you know, I write my nonfiction full time, and then my fiction is something I have to carve out time for, you know, saving that little bit of time is is really valuable because it allows me to write more. And then when I get to my first draft, it's just a matter of kind of putting that outline, you know, sort of my my shorthand first draft into prose I can focus more on the words I'm using, rather than on getting the story down. Because I already know my story, if that makes sense?

Emma Dhesi:

Yeah, it does. And I like that I hadn't thought of it quite in that way before. But I do kind of like the idea then that your, your outlining is detailed enough that there's your first draft right there without even knowing it. It just happened to me as you're working through all these questions that are in the outline book. And I'm going to move on a little bit, because you've mentioned them, that and you for kind of professionally, you write your nonfiction and you manage the novels maybe, and then for the fun side, and you do your fiction writing. So how do you fit all of that in, because I'm guessing you're pretty busy with all of these things. And, and, and having to wear different hats from your business hat running the novels, maybe your nonfiction half for the work that you do for us, or your leaders? And then your fiction hats as well. And so how do you manage that both kind of mentally, but then also, in kind of routine wise? How do you balance out those three, those three elements of the job?

Lewis Jorstad:

So I, I know a lot of people who swear by like blocking out their day, and they'll write in the morning and do emails at night, and I am just not that person. I am, I refer to myself as a binge writer, like, I can't focus on multiple things at once. So, you know, I mentioned that I'm writing the fourth book, in my 10 day novelist series right now. And when I say that, I mean, like, literally, I am doing nothing but writing the fourth book, in my second novel series, like, I'm not focusing on anything else, you know, I'll have four days a week, where I do nothing, but write that draft. And then one day where I take care of business stuff that has to happen, you know, I have to, you know, make sure my emails are going out on time answer emails from readers, you know, just make sure everything's working. But every other bit of time I can carve out is just focused on that. Which for me works, because I just can't split my attention that way. You know, if I'm, if I'm trying to do multiple things in a day, I just, I lose it, and I end up wasting most of the day. So, you know, normally, I'll start the month out by writing all my blog posts for that month, you know, I'll just sit down and spend a couple days, getting all those written, getting everything set up and scheduled. So I can basically spend the rest of the month just doing whatever I'm working on whatever my project is, whether it's a book, you know, I was writing course lessons last month, you know, next month, I'll be editing this draft of my fourth book. And so fiction is the hard part of that. Because mentally, you know, I'll carve out a day for just business stuff. And then a bunch of days were just nonfiction. But fiction is a very different part of my brain. For me, at least I find it very difficult to switch between the two, you know, I'll sit down to write my fiction and be like, you know, you should do this. And I'm like, Nope, that's that's nonfiction, you know, that's a, that's a different writing style. And to be honest, I'm actually still working on that, I'm still finding the right way to fit that into my routine. You know, the, the pressure of needing to pay the bills. And also, I'm genuinely just so excited about these nonfiction books, I'm having such a great time writing them, that it's easy to just get caught up in them. And to not carve out time for my fiction, just because, you know, oh, well, I need to get this out. And I'm having a good time. So I'll, I'll do that next month. And it never happens. And so I'm, I'm experimenting, my, my new year's resolution is I'm going to try to once a week, you know, just like I carve out a day for business, I'm going to carve out a day for fiction. And I'm just going to, I think with practice, I'll be able to make that switch easier. Whereas It used to be that I would spend a month doing nothing with fiction, and then a month doing nothing but nonfiction. But now that my my business life is changing, that's just less realistic. So the hope is that I'll be able to, to sort of retrain myself a little bit, make that switch easier. But yeah, I'm just not one of those people who can like switch between things in a day. I am a mess. I have to be focused, you know, so...

Emma Dhesi:

but it's good that you recognize that you you've sort of realized that this is how you work best and most efficiently and productively. And so you've made you've kind of worked around that to your advantage to make sure you get done what you need to get done. And I think that's sort of, I guess, lesson that our listeners could take form it is that no matter if you've got family, if you've got job, you've got a social life, all these things, you still have to kind of work out a way of clothing that's a moat in your week. And I often say to people at doesn't need to be hours and hours at a time is amazing. Or even, you know, maybe even an hour a spread over a week, you can actually achieve a lot in that meeting and much you can write in 20 minutes, because you've only got two minutes to sit down and you write it. So it's important to be conscientious about making that decision to write your nonfiction do the admin the business side. And now, as you're going through, yeah, you're going to incorporate your fiction into that too. Great. And one of the other services that you offer is a one to one services, not editing and coaching, can you share a little bit with the listeners, how that works for you how you work with your students and your clients?

Lewis Jorstad:

Absolutely, um, early on, I think I mentioned I started out just doing sort of consultation services, because that's what I was used to, that's what I had already been doing with people in person. And I sort of shifted that online. So it was kind of a natural starting place. And then actually, you know, I, instead of just diving into doing like, full on developmental editing, with people's manuscripts, I was actually kind of nervous to start that at first. So I instead started a writing contest, where as part of the writing contest, you know, the first place winner, I would, I would do a full developmental edit of their manuscript, which was, I think, kind of probably doing it backwards, but it was my way of being like, I'm nervous, you know, you know, that fear that like, I'm not going to do a good enough job that imposter syndrome, like I had, I hadn't done that, in a professional capacity before I had been doing it for, you know, writing partners and critique partners and friends for ages. But actually doing that professionally, it was a different thing. So that first, that first year of this writing contest, you know, was my first time sort of professionally developmentally editing someone's manuscript. And it was, it was a blast. I mean, you know, it helped me get over that sort of fear that I wouldn't, I wouldn't be able to do well enough. And I found that, you know, I was working with the writer and, and at the end of it, they were like, I learned so much, this was so helpful. And I was like, Okay, good. We got this, you know. And so that was also something I offer for a long time. And I've actually scaled that back recently, just because other priorities have come up within the business, I've actually gone back to just doing the consultations now. And basically, the consultations are just, you know, usually people will send me an outline, or sometimes a section of their manuscripts, depending, you know, not everyone's an outliner. And that's fine. And I'll sort of review that, and sort of compile my first thoughts based on that, I'll, I'll ask them a couple questions through email, and we'll sort of correspond, and then we'll sit down for a meeting, over zoom, and have an hour to sort of hash things out, talk things out, you know, and I review all that stuff ahead of time to make sure I'm not wasting their time in the meeting, you know, I want to have some ideas already ready. But inevitably, you know, through talking, we'll find stuff that, you know, that I didn't pick up on, they're in on in their outline, and, and they'll sort of go into more detail. And it's almost like a brainstorming session, in a way, you know, oftentimes, I'll I had a writer I worked with a couple months ago, that sticks in my mind, because, you know, he had sent me the first two chapters of his manuscript, and I had a bunch of thoughts about it. And he just outright disagreed with me. And I was like, awesome, let's do this. I mean, let's talk this through. It was great. You know, a lot of people feel like they have to agree with me, because I'm the professional. And I'm like, No, no, no, you know, I, I am a professional, but I'm just one opinion of many, you know, you're the author. You know, let's let's fight about this. Let's debate this, and ultimately come to a better conclusion than either of us would have on our own. So he and I mean, I'm I our consultation ran way long. You know, we just sat there just sort of going back and forth. He was like, No, I think that's a terrible idea. And it's like, but why he couldn't put it to words. And, and finally, at the end of it, he finally figured out like, it just clicked for him what he was having trouble with. And in the end, he ended up disagreeing with me, but it was that that process of debating that was so valuable, and at the end of it, he was like, I know, I know where I'm going. Now. I've got my story. He was one of the ones who emailed me a couple months later, like I have my finished first draft. He actually apparently got an agent last month, got in touch with me about that, which was so exciting and thrilled for him. So that's what I do now, just because the developmental edits are You know, to really give someone's manuscript, the time it needs is a is a two week process for me at least. And between my own fiction, and my nonfiction in the business, I don't have the time to commit to that. And, and I don't want to shortchange people, you know, whereas the consultations is, it's a day, you know, today of me going over their stuff, and really sitting sitting down and hashing things out with them. So I've been glad I've been able to continue doing that, amid all the other things going on. Because that's been really enjoyable. That's been my focus lately.

Emma Dhesi:

So talking of competition, kind of you You do have a competition called the first chapters writing contest. Is that open to anybody? And genre? What What's that about?

Lewis Jorstad:

Yeah, so I run that every year, every December, the ideas that usually people who just finished Nano WriMo will submit their the first chapter of their Nano WriMo draft. So the idea is for the contest, you submit, and it doesn't have to be a Nano WriMo draft, I mean, it can be anything that that you're working on, you submit just the first chapter of whatever manuscripts you have, even if it's not finished, just the first chapter. And the idea is that that kind of, you know, the first chapter has a lot going on, you know, you have your your hook, you have to set up your conflict, you have to introduce your protagonist, you have to get all these balls rolling. But it's also relatively short. So for someone who wants to submit, I generally tell people, don't worry about the rest of your manuscript, you know, at least for this contest, you know, obviously worry about it later on. But for this, just take that, you know, that two 4000 word, first chapter and just work on it, just turn it over in your mind, get, get your hook, solid, you know, get your introductions in place, and then submit it. And, you know, the first year I did it, I got six or seven submissions. The second year, I got about 14, and then this year, I got like, 35, which was very exciting. This was the third year. So next December will be the fourth, the fourth annual first chapters contest. But it's always tremendously exciting, because for me, as an editor, that first chapter tells me so much about the story, but it also leaves all these mysteries. So I find that the the submissions that tend to win are the submissions that I read that first chapter, and I'm like, I, I care about this character, I'm very interested in this conflict. And I have no idea what's going to happen next. In a good way, not in a, this is scattered, but in a I'm engaged in this, I've actually had a couple people. The one of the winners last year, I got in touch with her. And you know, and we did the the consultation, and I did the critique of her submission that I do for the winners. And afterwards, I kind of messaged her, and I was like, so when is this gonna be done? Because I really want to read it. And she's still working on it, heard the manuscript actually wasn't done, she had actually just finished that first chapter because she wanted to submit it. And so she's still working on the manuscript. And I'm like, as soon as you get this published, like, I want to read it, which is, is tremendously enjoyable. Yeah. And I find that people, it's less intimidating, whereas something where you submit your whole manuscript, it's so intimidating to get that all polished and ready. Whereas this, it's like, it's it's a very specific focus. And I find people get a kick out of it.

Emma Dhesi:

And it's open to all genre types as well?

Lewis Jorstad:

Yeah, the only genre is I don't take submissions from her horror and erotica, just because that's not my wheelhouse. And I, I know, it's not something I enjoy reading. And I know I won't be able to provide as much valuable feedback for those genres as, as for say, fantasy or sci fi or we're even thrillers. I've had a few really awesome thriller submissions. So yeah, other than other than those two exceptions, it's it's open to anybody. The only requirement is that unpublished so unpublished manuscript, and not horror, erotica. And beyond that, it's free game.

Emma Dhesi:

So you've talked about your nonfiction and we look for is coming out soon. But why don't you tell us a little bit a little bit about the fiction that you write what kind of stories do you enjoy writing and what what book or what manuscripts Are you are you working on at the moment? What's going to be your 2021 fiction?

Lewis Jorstad:

So fingers crossed, all goes well, my fiction book, I'm currently working on a sword and sorcery fantasy novel called the child hunters. And that should be coming out fall of this year. You know, I need to send it to editors and give them time. You know, it's just like a dentist can't do their own teeth, an editor should not edit their own books. So I'll be sending that out soon, and starting to get feedback, and then working on that from there. But my fiction is kind of weird. I'm very fortunate that my nonfiction is my day job. Now, it wasn't always, I actually only actually recently quit my old day job to do the novel Smithy full time, which has been tremendously rewarding. But because my nonfiction is my my day job, so to speak, I don't worry about you know, writing in a specific genre for my fiction, I am not much of a series writer, I'm very much a one off sort of standalone novel writer, I just get an idea, and I want to complete it. And then after that, I go on to something else, which I know for a lot of fiction writers, you know, fiction authors series are kind of the name of the game in self publishing, at least. So I'm fortunate that my nonfiction allows me to just do that. My fiction is more creatively for me. So I have this sword and sorcery novel coming out this year. And then, so long as there's no unforeseen delays with that, I'll have a cyberpunk novel coming out in 2022. And then after that, I have a couple projects sort of in the works, sort of in the planning stages, but I'll likely be doing a historical romance after that, just because these are the ideas I'm excited about. And they're completely unrelated. So I know not everyone can do that. But I've been, I've been really lucky to be comfortable being able to do that and just write completely cross genre and not worry about it.

Emma Dhesi:

So just out of curiosity, because I mean, especially cyberpunk to historical romance, though different. Would your and we be self publishing those or pursuing a traditional deal? And either way, would you be using the same pen name? Or do you think you might change pendings for the different genres?

Lewis Jorstad:

I will most likely be self publishing them, I would like to pursue traditional publishing at some point in the future. But these projects, I don't necessarily think are a good fit, just because they are kind of cross genre and away, like even historical romance has some like, fantasy elements, and it's kind of out there. So for now, I plan to self publish, that's also just my expertise. You know, I'm, I don't have experience with traditional publishing. You know, I mentioned that, that I have the fourth nonfiction book coming out this spring. And it's about self publishing. And I've had a couple people ask, like, you know, oh, I'm interested in traditional publishing, will there be anything for me in this, and I'm like, there will be but you know, I don't want to, I don't want to make it seem like I'm an expert in traditional publishing, because I'm simply not, were a self published, much more experienced then. So I plan to self publish those. And I actually plan to use the same pen name. So my nonfiction is under Lewis Jorstad, and then my fiction will be under just my initials, L.A Jorstad. Just to separate the two, you know, the people don't looking at my nonfiction are looking for something different than the people who would be reading my fiction. But because my fiction is all over the place, I'd have so many pen names they'd be it'd be too much to manage. And also, to some extent, you know, from the business side, because, you know, I pay my bills with the nonfiction, but there is a business side to the fiction, I do want people to be able to find it, I do want people to get to read it, who will hopefully enjoy it. I found that the first, at least in self publishing, traditional publishing, again, I'm sure is a bit different. But at least in self publishing, the first book you publish, rarely gets much traction. Whether it's a series or a standalone, it's once you get your second and third out, then you have then you have your feet under you to an extent. In the business side. You have something to offer readers who read one of your books and are then interested in what else do you have to offer? So having a bunch of different pen names, you know, one for fantasy, one for sci fi one for romance. I might only ever write one historical romance. You know, I'm not sure it depends on what idea comes to me next. So I'm hoping that readers who end up being a fan of my fiction will forgive me for not sticking to a genre and will maybe find the like other genres. In the process, but that's the that's the intent, at least right now. We'll see down the road, it's possible I'll end up finding a genre I really love and write a bunch in and we'll start another pen name. But for now, I plan to just sort of collect all the fiction in one place.

Emma Dhesi:

Well, I hope you'll come back and talk to me when your book is released, and you can tell us all about it. But for the meantime, where can listeners find out more about you and the novelist living?

Lewis Jorstad:

So the novel Smithy.com is my website. It's where basically everything goes on. I'm an old man at heart. I don't have a lot of social media. I, I'm very active on Pinterest. So you can find the novel Smithy on Pinterest. There's a link to it on my website. And I'm just getting started with Twitter. I'm sort of feeling out how Twitter works. Not quite positive yet. Yeah. So for people who like Twitter, they can find The Novel Smithy on Twitter. But really the place you know, if if someone's interested in what I do, then my websites definitely the place to look, sign up for my newsletter. my newsletter gives people access to my free resource library. So I have a bunch of different ebooks and guides and other resources in there. They're completely free. It's you just sign up for the newsletter. And then as a part of my newsletter, you know, I send out emails once a week, once every other week, when I have a new blog post, or when I have a new article live. And then occasionally, you know, if I have a book coming out, I'll send out a few extras. But I try not to bother people too much. I know everyone's busy. But yeah, so that's where that's where people can find me if they're interested.

Emma Dhesi:

Wonderful. Well, I'll put links to all of those in the show notes. That's great. Well Lewis, thanks so much for your time. I've really enjoyed chatting to you and getting to know more about the novel Smithy and about you as well. So thank you very much.

Lewis Jorstad:

It's been great. Thank you so much for for getting in touch.

Emma Dhesi:

Well, thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you find that helpful and inspirational. Now, don't forget to come on over to facebook and join my group, Turning Readers into Writers. It is especially for you if you are a beginner writer who is looking to write their first novel. If you join the group, you will also find a free cheat sheet. They're called three secret hacks to rate with consistency. So go to emmadhesi.com/turning readers into writers. Hit join. Can't wait to see you in there. All right. Thank you. Bye bye.