Monday, July 21, 2014

7/21/2014 - Magnificent Monday


We have moved!

It is with wonderful consideration that I have moved the blog to Tumblr. I believe this will do better to gain traffic and a wider audience for the blog. Please head on over and you will be able to get the same information there as you would have here on Mondays and Wednesdays.

I can't wait to see you all there!!!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

07/16/2014 Writing Wednesday!

Hello everyone and welcome back! I am significantly more coherent than I was yesterday. At least so far, which is good. I have a strong dislike for super migraines, but sadly are a part of my life that part of me is convinced I will need to live with forever. Like I said, mostly better though. Also, my fetch-playing kitten Osiris, has once again lost his collar. Last time he brought it back to me, so I'm hoping that happens again because I have no idea where it's at.

There's been a bunch going on in writing lately, and if you follow the NaNoWriMo people on Twitter at all you may have seen they're doing something called Camp NaNoWriMo. I don't know a whole lot about it, but I see them doing word sprints and such during the day, which are a great way to bust through writer's block. If you don't believe me because you think writing a whole bunch all at once seem to be the opposite, give me the chance to explain.

If you go to write-ins during NaNoWriMo in November then you've heard of these too. They can be fun, and are usually between large groups. How it works is you give yourself an amount of time, usually between 15 and sometimes 20 minutes, and then you just write as much as you possibly can. Generally if there are more people involved it's done up as a competition and there's some kind of "prize" involved, like candy. Competition even if it's just against yourself can be a startling motivator against writer's block because it causes your brain to basically say, "Screw this I'm not losing to Jim, he's writing a weird slash-fic!" This causes the wall to come crashing down by way of lots of words in a very short amount of time.

This is similar to the 'ripping off the Band-Aid' method of doing things. Writer's block is a terrible thing and if left to sit there with the hopes it'll just go away on its own or you'll just give it a bit more time and it'll fade, you run the risk of it never leaving. Doing something sudden, like a word sprint, is really helpful because it forces you to think differently and sometimes that's really what you need in order to get passed it. A lot of the time, writer's block isn't caused by a lack of ideas, but rather too much focus on the topic that you become overwhelmed, so looking from a different perspective, like say that of a competition, is a great way to kick-start your brain back into working. Also, a lot of the time you are able to work from the spot your sprint ended much easier to make progress on your story, not to mention since it's just a whole bunch of words falling into the page, sometimes things take a turn you weren't expecting, and that can be a lot of fun.

Remember, that's the key to writing this summer (aside from staying cool, because wow laptops heat up) have fun with whatever you're doing. If you don't enjoy it, the writer's block won't go away even if you try something from a different angle. Having the want to write a book because you think that it's something you should do and the will, and also the drive to do so are all part of it, but if you don't like the process, it's going to be a miserable experience and having writer's block is a sign that you need to take a look at what you're doing. These words sprints the NaNoWriMo guys are holding look like a lot of fun, and the ones I've done in the past at write-ins super were (and not just because I type super fast and got candy) so if you are having some trouble and just need to work from a different angle, try it out. Set a timer at time and see what happens, because sometimes just challenging yourself is a fun competition too.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today! Remember, you can get 'Rending the Seal' now for 50% off at the Smashwords Summer Sale, so please spread the word around. I would really appreciate it. The more people see the more word gets out about the book series and I'm sure you've all figured out how I feel about advertising by now. In the meantime, I hope you have a nice rest of your week, try to stay cool if where you live is stupid hot, and have fun!

Monday, July 14, 2014

07/14/2014 Magnificent Monday!

Greetings everyone and good morning. I hope so far this Monday is being nice to you. I have been greeted by cats and a power surge or some sorts. There was a flash from another room, all the power went out and then there was a BOOM outside. Everything came back on a couple seconds later, and luckily I was already awake, but it tells me today will be interesting at least.

Having to work Monday after a Saturday is always really hard. There wasn't enough time to relax after a week of working a weird shift and all I want to do is sleep. Not to mention I'm still adjusting to my new desk and I just want to have a rock accidentally hit the oppressively bright light above my head. I've had people say they'll switch spots with me, but moving is such a hassle that I want to at least try and see if I can get used to it first.

Work is continuing on 'Feathers of the Dead' and it's going quite nicely if I do say so myself. There is a lot of work that needs to be done on that thing once I get this part completed, but I am pleased with how it's going so far. I think it'll be somewhere between 85 - 90 pages typed, which is nice and once it's filled in a bit more it should push it well over the 100 page mark. I'm almost to the part where I get to go into the various Underworlds, which is a point I was fairly pleased with personally, so I am pretty excited. I got to have a lot of fun with all the useless bits of mythological knowledge that's in my head for this story, so whenever I get to a part that has some I get excited. It's also a great refresher when it comes to NaNoWriMo planning for this year, which is an unexpected benefit.

With things going so smoothly for 'Feathers of the Dead' I'm hoping that means once I'm able to have it all in my computer I'll be able to get back to work on 'Through the Broken Mirror'. Of course that means getting it back from the person that has it, but my hope is that once I'm done with my current work that will have happened by then. Work has been making them very busy though, so I'm trying really hard not to be a nag.

A reminder before we head out today! The Smashwords Summer Sale is still going strong! We had a wonderful first half and I hope that all that picked up my books have enjoyed them. You can still get 'The Light Rises' for FREE for the month and now 'Rending the Seal' is 50% off! Please tell everyone so they are able to enjoy it and get a fresh start to the series. I would really appreciate it! The coupons are generated automatically on the site, so just send them over and they'll be able to get the discount.

For now have a great start to your week. I'll be back on Wednesday so if you have a topic you'd like for me to take a look at feel free to drop me a line. I'd love to hear from you and I'd always love to get a discussion started. See you all again soon!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

07/09/2014 Writing Wednesday!

Greetings everyone and welcome back. I hope so far the week has been nice to you. There hasn't been any "bee attacks" so I'm good in that respect. That doesn't mean I'm not on the look out though...always vigilant. I'm not a sport-liking or caring about person, but we had the World Cup on yesterday at work, and oh man the Blitzkrieg was just awful. It got to the point where the lot of us were just confused as to whether or not it was ok to keep watching. I've been pretty good about being able to just ignore it while it's been on, but when there was a score almost any time I looked back at my computer, that was a bit distracting. I also had no idea scores in soccer (or football, whatever) got that high.

So looking at things people care about, well at least I care significantly more about, writing stuff! One of thine difficult things to do when editing or at least going over your first draft and realizing parts make absolutely no sense so you put more stuff in, is the part where you actually add stuff. Exposition can be a little jarring not just because you need to make sure you keep the feel of whatever was happening before, but because if you're not careful you can easily get out of control with it.

Think about the last book you read that just seemed to go into way too much detail about something you just stopped caring about two paragraphs back. Let's be honest here, it's fine, this is a safe place to talk about it. I'll go first since I'm the one typing and unless there's a discuss in the comments section I can't actually hear you (and it would be scary if I could right now). First let's look at classic literature, 'The Scarlet Letter' is seen as one of the greatest pieces of writing and is also required reading in some high schools (mine), however there were points when I just got super done caring about whatever was currently being described. You want to take 3 pages to talk about the letter A? Alright, but Sesame Street takes less time to do that. Also, I'm pretty sure those 3 pages were all one paragraph and that is a major pet peev for me. I also love the Lord of the Rings books, absolutely, but there were points when I have to agree with that analysis in Clerks 2; there's a lot of walking in those books, even the trees walked.

Those are examples where exposition gets out of hand, in my opinion. I may have just sparked my first flame war. That would be kind of exciting! Another problem is when people do the opposite out of fear of doing too much. I sometimes suffer from this, but it's partially the fear of putting in pages and pages of text that's just description, and also a joining of the fact that the actual things are in my head already. See, for me typing things out is  the only way I can be consistently articulate, but even then sometimes I get ahead of myself and my brain convinces me that everyone else will understand what I mean even though they aren't "seeing" what I am. That's when you get things where you think you put in a good description of a person, and you remember doing it too, but when someone who isn't you has a chance to read the story they will come to you and point out they have no idea what you're talking about there.

There are a couple ways to avoid getting caught in either trap. When it comes to making things too long, look at your paragraph length and also consider what else is happening in that scene. If you are in the middle of some climactic reveal, like a dragon just burst through a wall and is shooting fire everywhere and your heroes are forced to dive for cover, but you take 4 pages to talk about the scales that cover the dragon's skin, there's a chance you're going to want to dial it back a bit. If it's that long by the time the action starts again your reader is going to either have forgotten what's going on, or will have skipped the description entirely to get back to the action. For things that are too short, or if you're worried they are, come back to the story  a month or so later and read it again. If you find you are reading that part over more than once to figure out what you were trying to get at, it likely means you need to put more information into that piece of exposition.

This is also where having a second set of eyes comes in handy. They will be able to tell you where things need to be adjusted since they don't know the things you do. The reader won't have access to your vast well of brain-knowledge (unless they do, then you need to talk to them about other things) and if they are pointing out your descriptions and explainers are causing a bit of issues, then when you go back through the story you should take a look at them to see how to adjust things. It might take some work, but it'll be worth it in the end.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Tomorrow is Rifftrax Live: Sharknado, and hopefully things will work out the way they're supposed to. I am looking forward to it, so I hope everyone who is going has a great time. I'll see you all later!

Monday, July 7, 2014

07/7/2014 Magnificent Monday!

Hello everyone and welcome back! I hope the weekend was kind to all of you. It was a nice 3-day weekend for me, so the fact that I have to go in for my early shift is somewhat sadder than it could be normally. The cats did well during the 4th, though poor little Osiris experienced fear for the first time. He did not appreciate the fireworks one little bit.

Although along with discovering some ants (ongoing battle) my managers put up there is a "bee issue" where honey bees want to live in the apartment next to us. They are trying to encourage them not to want to live there anymore, but I saw one looking for a new home and it was too close for comfort to my door. For the record, I find anything that flies, striped, with a stinger, to be absolutely terrifying. I don't care if some are related or not. We are putting up some anti-bee measures today, but that didn't help that finding a wasp in my laundry yesterday almost gave me a heart attack. The ants, plus the bees, plus the wasp did cause for from hollywood-esque dreams though.

As a reminder of things that don't scare me to death, the Smashwords Summer Sale is going on now. Please check it out if not for me, than for the tons of other authors trying to do the same thing. They are just trying to use this chance to get their names out there and it would be great if you all took a moment to look through the lists and lists of people who put their books up for the month. I'm sure they'd appreciate the time.

I hope the start of the week is nice to you all. I hope that there aren't nearly as many bees for me to worry about. Please check out 'Rending the Seal' and 'The Light Rises' which are both on sale as part of the Smashwords Summer Sale. Also if you could spread the word a bit that would be great too. For now though, I'll see you all back here on Wednesday!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

07/02/2014 Writing Wednesday!

Greetings everyone and welcome back! I hope the week is being nice to all of you so far. Right now mine has been far too warm, but I will survive (hopefully). So far my morning has involved the kitten accidentally nicking my toe in his enthusiastic attempt to get at a string, and when I thought everything was fine (because cats scratches happen) I then looked down to find out, oh...that's not fine. So currently my big toe is wrapped in a lot of paper towels. It's kind of silly.

Moving onto things that shouldn't make a physical mess, writing! Please note, if your writing makes a physical mess, I don't know if that's writing anymore. The Smashwords Summer Sale is going on now, which means today is a great chance to talk about advertising. I know it seems like kind of a cop out, but getting the word out that your story exists is just as important as writing it, and when a sale is going on is the perfect chance to do so!

Think about the posters, signs, commercials, and other things you see whenever a company has a sale, especially a big annual one. It's like when Ikea has their sale and you get that novel of a catalog in the mail. There are balloons, streamers, people doing crazy stuff, as well as the conventional ways to advertise happening all in an attempt to get you to care about that product or sale. It might seem annoying to you as the consumer at times, but to the person trying to sell the item, it's all they can do out of hope they will get some sales.

You have to be that guy. I know it sounds weird, but you have to. Advertising is incredibly awkward, even when there isn't a sale going on or if you make one up yourself. Just on say a regular Tuesday. It can be one of the most uncomfortable things you can do because you are forced to throw yourself and your product out there and there is a chance that either no one will care or there will be backlash. It's incredibly scary, but if you don't do it, then nothing will ever happen and that's pretty much worse.

Go back to the stores having their sales. Let's say there's this thing you want really bad, but you feel it's normal price is too much for you to pay for so you're waiting for the discount. Then a big store-wide sale happens, you go to the store but that item isn't part of the sale because the company that makes it doesn't believe in happiness or bringing good things to people. This is how it is for people when they don't realize your books are part of something like a large sale for your distributor. Think about how much your got during the Steam Summer Sale, and how much you wouldn't have noticed normally if those games hadn't been put to the front of your screen. Also, good luck playing all of those games before you're retired!

I do have a point in all this, and it's that you have to participate. I know it sounds weird, and if you follow me on Twitter you are likely two seconds from an Unfollow because of how frequent my posts about my books are, but it's important. Do it for yourself because if you aren't paying for an advertising firm (which...don't) telling people is all you can do, and just relying on clicking that you participate to help people see your books isn't going to be enough. You have to bring the traffic to your page and show them.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. As a not-so-subtle reminder, the Smashwords Summer Sale is happening now! You can get 'Rending the Seal' for 75% off and 'The Light Rises' for FREE all month long! Please spread the word! I would appreciate it! I'll be back next week, hopefully not a melted pile of tired.

Monday, June 30, 2014

06/30/2014 Magnificent Monday!

Hello everyone and welcome back. I have decided my level of awake-ness is at a 'I think once I have breakfast I can get to work level' but I don't know if it'll be much else. Let's just say that 'Monday' part of the title was initially written as 'money' and I was kind of disappointed. Mostly because money didn't immediately come shooting out of my computer screen.

Things overall are going well. It is my mom's actual birthday today, though we celebrated yesterday, so Happy Birthday to her! In other words, I will be so happy to be done with June. Every year this month finds some way to kick the crap out of me and this time was no exception. It's going to end with me super tired and barely able to move from muscle and bone soreness, which is...great...I guess.

I was looking over the numbers and I am rather pleased with how 'Rending the Seal' is doing. While my sales are about where I expected them, my number of overall downloads, which includes samples, is higher than where 'The Light Rises' was at the same point after its release. I'm curious as to whether or not I'll be able to get to the 100 mark at the end of summer, or even before then. That would be cool. It may not seem like those numbers are very high, but they're all I've got so I will be happy with what I get.

Also, still working on formatting things for print. I decided to work on them in the same order things were released, so 'The Light Rises' is coming first. That thing is going to need an overhaul, I think once I have a chance to move that into the editing schedule I'll get that done. It will depend on when I get 'Through the Broken Mirror' back from it's from once-over from someone who isn't me, and also when I get done moving 'Feathers of the Dead' to the computer, which that has to come first no matter what.

While 2014 is looking to be a busy and stressful year for me, after having made it past the half-way mark, it is also appearing to be a productive one. I hope to keep it up, the productive side at least, the stress can go eat a pile of garbage for all I care. Right now, I know I need to keep working and just look forward to the things coming up, especially since 'Sharknado' is next week, and that's going to be awesome.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. I will be back on Wednesday so I hope you can call come and visit. As always, if you have a topic you'd like to suggest, please let me know and I'd love to work something out for it. In the meantime, have a fun start to your week!