Friday, February 14, 2014

Seven Reasons All Serious (and Not so Serious) Writers Should Link to Randy Ingermanson

Big tip, especially for all you beginning writer/indie publishers out there!

This tip is a person.

His name is Randy Ingermanson.

Randy Ingermanson is a theoretical physicist and the award-winning author of six novels. He has taught at numerous writing conferences over the years and publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, the largest electronic magazine in the world on the craft of writing fiction, with over 32,000 readers.

I first met Randy through Camille Eide, another writer friend I'd just met in a shuttle bus on our way to my first Mt. Hermon Writers' Conference in March of 2008. 

I remember the meeting (which is more than I can say about most random events in my past) the way you remember some seemingly insignificant moment in time for no apparent reason. At the time I had no reason to think this guy would matter to me, even though Camille said good things about him and I trusted Camille's judgment.  It was just one of the kind of casual introductions you always get at writers' conferences, which is one of the best reasons for going to them.

But I digress.

Randy just happened to be sauntering by as Camille and I stepped out of our transport. She greeted him, and, gracious person that she is, she introduced us. He said all the right things, and then ducked and ran, like the introverted geeky kind of a person he is. I turned away, thinking no more of the meeting, eager to enter into the conference experience at Mt. Hermon, my favorite writerly place to be.

As it turned out, I would run across this amazing man off and on for the next six years, sometimes in person at conferences, and sometimes online.  He has made an impact on my writing career, and I think you'll find him helpful too.

Here are seven reasons you'd like to be Randy's friend.  They're in descending order, except for number seven, which I think really belongs at the top of the list, but I have to put it at the bottom because it's a whimsical reason, and we writers don't put much store in whimsy, at least about the writing process, even us fiction writers, especially if we're beginners.  (Yes, I know.  That sentence could do with some editing.) Whimsy is kind of fun, and we writers can't afford to have fun.  We're too busy trying to be discovered.  We must be serious.  So here are six serious reasons (and one un-serious, dis-serious, anti-serious whimsical reason) why you should become Randy's online friend:

1)  He knows tons of stuff about the writing business.  As his bio claims, his e-magazine is the largest electronic magazine in the world on the craft of writing fiction.  And 32,000 readers can't be wrong.  (Randy would probably argue with that claim, since he's a statistics expert, among other things.)

2)  He shares what he knows clearly and simply.  He writes so clearly that the publishers of the prolific "For Dummies" series asked him to write their Writing Fiction for Dummies book, which currently ranks #8,720 on the Amazon best seller list.  When you consider that Amazon sells well over 6,000,000 books, that's a pretty high rank.  I checked my Zinovy's Journey rank, which I do now and then, just for fun, and it's a whopping #873,693, almost exactly 100 times less popular than his Dummies book.  I'm sure there's a reason for that.

 3)  He's created the Snowflake method.  It's a template for plot building.  If you're beginning a novel, or even just wanting to go with an idea you have, this tool might be useful to you.  Check it out at the link above.

4)  He answers questions on his blog.  Not every question. He's a busy guy.  But I was fortunate, again through my friend, Camille, to get into one long line-up for his advice, and what I learned helped solve a writing problem that had stumped me for months.
5) He knows about other interesting stuff too.  Because he's a science and technology geek, he sometimes analyzes wild and weird issues on topics totally unrelated to writing.  He is a truth seeker.  His research is extensive, his arguments cogent, and his thoroughness is enough to make your eyes cross. But the best thing about his writing on these often controversial topics, the thing that makes them so worth reading, is that he disagrees with his opponents with humility and respect.  What a great internet world it would be if all writers, especially Christian ones, would model this approach. 

6)  He's written some fun novels.  So here we head gently toward the less serious reasons you'll like getting to know this guy.  If you're a fiction reader, you might want to check out some of his novels.  Here's a link to the latest one,  Double Vision.  Another good read is Oxygen, which he wrote with his fellow geeky physics BFF, John Olson. 

And now, last but should be first, is the best reason to connect with Randy:

7)  He's funny.  I was very sad to hear that Sam, the plumber, like his irritating distant cousin, the Wicked Witch of the North, has apparently recently dissolved into a puddle of water on the floor.  There's a rumor he might be resurrected, or reconstituted, whichever the case may be, but for now we'll not be regaled with his exploits any more. 

Sam's demise is documented here.  I'm trying to find a link to the whole series of blog posts about Sam, Randy's infamous plumber/nemesis/friend, because they are so much fun to read, but I've gotten lost in the complex maze of internet addresses available on Randy's website and can't find a link.  

If you're afraid you might be beginning to take this writing thing a little too seriously, I recommend you check out the Sam story.  It might help you reevaluate your priorities and refocus your writing. 

Which is the whole point of this blog, after all: Your Writing.  Any of the links I've given above will help you get on with the writing task.  So check them out, connect with my friend, Randy, and enjoy.


Camille Eide said...

Ginny, that was also my first Writer's conference, and you were the first person I met. Now I know it was a divine appointment. :) and you're so right about Randy: he's as generous as he is knowledgeable about fiction,publishing, marketing, the whole baby. He's mentored so many, including those that he hasn't met. I'm so very glad we met and that you've benefited from Randy. I know it have!

Ginny Jaques said...

I agree, Camille. You were my first friend at my first Mt. Hermon conference too, and I was immediately struck by your graciousness. You've come far since then! I'm so glad for you. And didn't you ride home from the conference with Randy? Seems to me he gave you some really positive feedback on your MS.

Carolyn said...

A hearty second to everythng you said about Randy. My first encounter with him was at the OCW Summer Conference in 2012. Since then, I've occasionally gone to his monthly critique group. I'm continually impressed with his encyclopedic knowledge of writing and publishing, and his open-handed generosity and affirmation to other writers.

Camille Eide said...

He did, and we both blogged abou it. I searched his archives & mine & found these. Cute photo of us, Ginny. :)

Ginny Jaques said...

Yes, Camille. Here it is:

Randy sez:

"On the airplane coming home, I sat with one of my loyal blog readers who often posts here, Camille Eide, who lives not too far from me. She’s only been writing for about a year, so she had set her expectations relatively low–at the level of an early “Sophomore.” However, after getting strongly encouraging feedback from a couple of novelists at the conference, Camille worked up her courage to show her sample chapter to a couple of editors. They liked it too.

Camille told me all this in the airport while we waited for our flight. I asked to see her work and she let me read it on the plane. I liked it! I liked it a lot. I don’t know how the large-scale structure of the story will work out, but the 20 pages I read were Xtremely good on every point that I know how to measure. So I told her it’s time for her to get an agent. For the rest of the flight, I took a nap."

Amy Michelle Wiley said...

I've had the honor of attending Randy's critique group for a number of years, when my health permits. He's a wealth of information and encouragement, and yes, very funny. I'm so blessed to know him in person and be able to have access regularly to his valuable feedback.

Traci said...

I wouldn't be anything close to the writer I am today without Randy! I was thinking of nominating him for mentor of the year with ACFW even... :)

Ginny Jaques said...

Sounds like an idea, Traci!

Randy Ingermanson said...

Hi Ginny: Thanks for the shout-out! As for Sam the Plumber, he's alive and well and makes an occasional appearance on my blog when he thinks I need a little help.

I did a series of blog posts last summer detailing Sam's mother's attempts to publish her novel, which is apparently pretty good. That series got interrupted in the late summer and I've just not had time to finish it up. My life has a lot going on, and I keep trying to trim things out, but it's hard.

Ginny Jaques said...

Yes, Randy, I did realize Sam had not dissolved. I was thinking of his collapse at the beginning when he first found out he was fictionary. I notice he did survive, after killing you, and then not killing you, so you both survived. I'm glad.

Is there a link to the episodes with his Mom's novel that you can direct us to?