Wednesday, February 29, 2012

02/29/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Happy Leap Day everyone! For those who wonder why I now find this day incredibly entertaining, I have included a link to a scene from 30 Rock. It was a great episode that can be fully watched on Hulu.

I was thinking long and hard about what I should talk about today, and I could only think about things that were kind of a repeat, but not entirely. I think they are worth mentioning again, because as a self-published author without a massive income to pay for an advertising firm, getting your name out there is incredibly important, and there are some ways that seem too subtle to work that actually do wonders!

First, and the one that I have seen a lot of success with (at the very least in terms of this blog) is simply joining a forum. I was coerced (I like that word) into joining a writers forum. Now I will be the first to admit that I am TERRIBLE about remembering these things exist. I have no explanation as to why, I just seem to forget about visiting sometimes. This one though I am working as hard at as I possibly can, and for a few reasons: 1) They are incredibly helpful and supportive (just like my guildies at the Steampunk guild) 2) it's really nice to network and talk with other writers, it's especially nice to know that some things I run into aren't just me. 3) My information is getting out there.

You see, with forums you have a signature, something that (if you may not already know, but I'm sure you do) gets attached to every post and/or message you send. In these signatures you can have messages, quotes, but most importantly: links! In mine I have links to my finished projects as well as this blog. The more I post, the more people will see that information, which means the more likely someone will view it.

There are other ways to help get your name out there, like I've said before there's multiple ways to work social networking to your advantage. I tried out both Google and Facebook ads, and while they may seem rather cheap at first, that cost goes up rather high too. So utilizing as many free ways as possible will help you out a lot.

Something that's also fun are contests. Writer's Digest has a lot of them throughout the year, but there are also some smaller ones that hold them too. Most will publish all the place winners in whatever publication they have, which means your work will be seen by all their readers/subscribers. It's a little more of a gamble, since you're going against so many other people, but at the very least it's fun.

I look forward to seeing you all back here on Friday for the review. I also wanted to let everyone know that March 4 - 10th Smashwords is having their annual sale. I have added The Light Rises to the list, so it will be 75% off that week. I will post the link/coupon info as soon as I have it.

Monday, February 27, 2012

02/27/2012 Magnificent Monday!

Hello all! I hope you all had a great weekend! Mine was filled with friends, education and strangely snow. Last night was the Academy Awards, and while I didn't watch it, the only award I cared about this year was for Best Song, and the song I was interested in was 'Man or Muppet' from the new Muppets movie written by Bret MacKenzie, and it totally won!

I got some writing done, but I am realizing an issue that I'm currently having and now it's a matter of getting through it. I found a contest for short stories, but they seem to be more towards literary fiction rather than genre fiction, and I am at a loss. I've noticed there is kind of a 'we don't want genre fiction' in the world, and that makes me sad. Also, I don't have any ideas for literary fiction so that's hard too.

The other issue I'm currently running into is more of a self-esteem one that will (hopefully) pass soon. It hasn't stopped me from making progress, but it has stopped me from working on edits, or even fully acknowledging some pieces of work even exist. Still though, I'm sure it will pass, I just need to get that to actually happen. I have a lot of work ahead of me and I want to get through it!

Thanks everyone for stopping by again today. I will be back on Wednesday with my normal column. If there are suggestions, comments, questions or anything like that, please let me know and I will respond accordingly. Until then, I hope you all have a good start to your week!

Friday, February 24, 2012

02/24/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Greetings and welcome back! This week has just blown by, and I'm a bit surprised it's already Friday. I hope this was a productive week for everyone, but let's get right to it shall we?

Today I have "The Magic Garden" by Shane Greenhough, it's free at Smashwords and is a fun short story about a man and his garden.

The garden has a world in it that only he can see, and has seen since he was a child at the home. You learn of how he learned to handle others not being able to see it, and how that world has come to see him as well. It's a sweet little story that's, while a bit silly at times, was rather enjoyable on a Friday morning to read.

When it comes to things about the fae, it all really depends on how it's done. Whether or not I like them will often depend on my mood, since sometimes I prefer some of the more twisted and darker portrayal of the fae than the free-spirited magical possibly harmless versions. Today I felt like the latter, which is why I selected this story. It's enjoyable, and you feel satisfied for the main character when he finally gets accepted by the world he's been watching for so long.

While there are plot twists and spoilers in the story, and for politeness I won't go into them here, they aren't too far out of the realm of possibility. I caught on fairly quickly, but that doesn't mean the story isn't enjoyable. It's light-hearted and if I didn't like it, I wouldn't have put it up on my site. "The Magic Garden" is free on Smashwords and I recommend checking it out if you just want something to brighten your day.

Thanks everyone for stopping by all week. I see we have new members and the visit number has been rising much higher than it was before. Thank you for all your support and continued visits. If you ever have any questions, concerns, or recommendations never hesitate to post or contact me. I hope you all have wonderful weekends and I will see you back here on Monday!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

02/22/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Greetings all! So my attempt to do my post via my phone was unsuccessful. Something in the coding apparently makes a mobile interface SUPER strange. For instance: apparently punctuation and capitol letters are just as much for chumps as is getting out of bed at a decent time when you have the day off. So my apologies.

After must deliberation I've decided to do this entry about something that is simple, yet at the same time can make or break pretty much anything you do in writing: Naming Stuff. This goes for pretty much anything, titles, characters, objects, locations. Anything. Admittedly there are some that are harder than others (title, main character) but that doesn't mean they aren't all important, which is why I've chosen that as today's topic.

Now figuring out the title is important because it has many jobs to do. Next to your cover it's going to be the first thing a potential reader sees, so you want it to be strong enough to catch their attention while not make it too obvious what every plot twist and turn is going to be. Unless that of course is what you'd like to do, then by no means let me stop you! The title also needs to make sense for the genre, if you're writing hard-core science fiction space opera, having a title like "Working at the Old Dairy Farm" might seem a little strange, especially if your cover image has space ships shooting lasers at each other (again if you want to do this, by all means, go right ahead, that story might be incredibly entertaining.)

Next, the names of the characters in the story are also going to play an important role in everything that happens. If your story is a drama-mystery-ummm-horror type, having your Linkmain character be Frankie Jigglebotham is seriously going to take away from whatever atmosphere you were trying to create the second his name is said. (Satire however is excluded, do whatever you want, you glorious thing you!) Now there are glorious Random Name Generators out there that are incredibly helpful, especially when you're stuck on what to call people. I strongly suggest using them, if not for the whole name, then for at least parts or to help get the idea juices flowing.

Something else that someone very close to me has started doing is saying the names out loud before settling on them. They started doing this after they had a character, who was an investigator of sorts, that was trying to find the main characters named Hunter Chase. Needless to say that game was paused while the players collectively gave him a new name. This happened because he had come up with one part of the name first (if I remember correctly it was the last name, then the first name later) and on paper it looks awesome and might not have been caught on as quickly (see American Gods for my favorite example), but when spoken it makes things a little...different.

When it comes to naming locations and items you have a bit more leeway in what you can get away with. Things are often named so they get some kind of attention; like book titles. Or so that they're easier to remember. Or if you're an intrepid astrophysicist you can just name stuff after what they look like (black hole, black spot, wandering black hole, I'm not making any of these up.) As long as they seem to make sense for what they are, it will be fine. Now if you call something that's described as a cube and call it the 'Prismatic sphere' then well...more power to you I suppose?

I hope this was helpful at the very least. I have provided a link to my personal favorite random name generator as well. I look forward to seeing everyone here on Friday for my weekly review. Please forgive the lateness of my post, it's just that sleeping in was so wonderful!

Monday, February 20, 2012

02/20/2012 Magnificent Monday

Welcome back everyone! As always, I hope your weekend was as fun as mine. I saw an orchestra do a tribute to Muse and it was fantastic! I have 2 videos on my phone, which while not the best video quality, let me listen to some of the music again. They're doing a tribute to The Beatles in May, so, yay!

I'm starting to wonder if maybe I should stop hoping I'll get writing done on the weekends. I seem to do rather well with working it into my routine during the work-week, but I think because I want a break from everything, writing has started falling into that. Luckily I'm making good progress still, so hopefully my goal of having "Rending the Seal" done by the end of February is still a realistic one. There's two weeks to go, so we'll see!

I've also been trying to work out other short-stories I can work on to get my writing catalog a bit more filled-out. Nothing's been written yet, but I have some ideas; character bios, short unrelated stories, releasing things by chapter, and so forth. I was wondering what others may have tried and what worked for them. If you have any advice it would be wonderfully appreciated.

I would love for this blog to become a bit more active. Comments, discussions, questions, suggestions, all of it would be super helpful. I know it's hard to be the first one to do something, trust me, I totally feel you there. I love and appreciate all the support that I continually get and I look forward to the day when the hit-counter goes up by 100s a day.

If there are any topics anyone would like to see me address, I encourage you to contact me and let me know. I will do everything in my power to get it done for you. The same goes for book reviews as well. If there's something that you absolutely love and would like to see me do a piece on, let me know that it will happen.

I look forward to seeing everyone back on Wednesday for my writing segment. I hope the start of your week goes well, and that you get to do everything you want. Wednesday is also my bf's birthday, so yay happy Birthday to him! Anyway, until then, have a good couple days!

Friday, February 17, 2012

02/17/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Welcome back everyone! I hope your week has been exciting and full of at least some form of entertainment. I'm looking forward to the weekend though, I get to see an orchestra do a tribute to Muse, so that's bound to at least be fun. For now though, let's get right to the book reviewing!

Today we look at "The Journey of Three Friends; a Leaf, a Mud, a Water" by John Rudram. I liked this story because of the premise it followed. Three people come together to perform an experiment, they have all been given code-names by members of the International Bureau of Investigation, who are trying to intercept them before the experiment can be completed. What the experiment is exactly is hidden, so it's a mystery as to whether or not it would be good or bad for the world if it were successful.

I like the idea the story told, it was enjoyable, and was good at giving the reader something to think about. The actual names of the three characters are a little strange, but that was easy to look beyond (since it made it fairly easy to deduce who was the leaf, mud, and water.)

The story also makes the reader have to decide if they want the three characters to succeed in their experiment as well, or if they want the investigators to be successful in stopping them. You feel torn between the two ideas, which isn't something that a lot of books are able to do.

"The Journey of Three Friends; a Leaf, a Mud, a Water" is available on smashwords for .99, as is the collection of other works by the author. I suspect it'll be in the premium catalog soon enough, but I don't know what day that will be.

Thanks for stopping by all week and for always supporting this blog. I will be back Monday after what I'm sure will be an entertaining weekend. I hope everyone has fun and gets lots of writing done! Until then, have a good weekend!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

02/15/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a great Valentine's Day (if you celebrate it) or just a good day in general yesterday. My day was spent waiting for that guy I live with to get off work, so I played with my new phone and watched Harry Potter. I consider that an entertaining day off if I do say so myself.

In order to stick with the holiday theme, I thought I'd take a look at romance writing today. Now because you jump in and say 'OMG you're going to talk about lady pr0n!' you're incorrect in this assumption, so if that was what you were expecting, you may want to stop reading before you're disappointed. I will not write that kind of romance, mostly because I can't bring myself to do it, something about being shy or whatever.

No, the type of romance I'm talking about is just the general boy-meets-girl, or what have you, kind of stuff you see in movies and books all the time. This involves a love interest and such, and doesn't necessarily mean they just have a physical relationship. It involves them having one on an emotional and intellectual scale as well.

The reason I'm bringing this up is because there are going to be times when you may be worried you're focusing on it too much. At least that's a worry I'm currently having right now with one of my projects, and I'm trying to get through the beginning of a new one just so I can get away from it for a moment. I keep getting told that it's fine, but you know, the self consciousness is hard to get by sometimes.

Anyway, when you're going to be having the relationship 'blossom' as it were, throughout your story, the best way to do it is to make it feel natural. Don't shove it down the readers' mouth and make them choke on it. The way you do this is by having their interactions just seem like a normal conversation, and have their body language or tone change throughout the story to show a growing level of comfort. It's important, just like in real life, to make them friends as well, if it's just about romance it won't seem real, and the reader won't be able to relate to it. It's fine when they're first introduced for there to be physical attraction, mostly because they don't actually know anything about each other yet, and the first thing they get is the look at the person. Just make sure it grows from that.

Now there are many ways things can be done with the progression, some choose to have it get to it's 'we are in love, so now we have everything we ever need, to the bedroom!' stage somewhere between half and 2/3 of the way through the story. Others, decide to have it come to a similar stage at the end, when all of the conflicts or drama has been resolved, since the characters finally have time to focus on the tension. You also don't NEED to have them have sex, this isn't a requirement at all, at the very least you don't NEED to write it out so the reader has something they can reference. If you set things up, the reader will know, and it doesn't, again, need to be shoved down their throat. You also don't need to have the characters have a conversation about sex using euphemisms or double entandres (I'll admit, I have no idea how to spell that word, no matter how many times I tried to figure it out.), mostly because I realized that people don't actually talk like that, at least not in private company.

I hope this helped but some minds at ease when it comes to writing out the more 'sappy' parts of their stories. Don't be afraid of them (like I am sometimes), if they make the story and the characters seem more like real people, go for it (like I'm trying to!).

I look forward to seeing everyone back on Friday for my review. I hope you all have a good rest of your work, until then!

Monday, February 13, 2012

02/13/2012 Magnificent Monday

Welcome back everyone from what I hope was a fun weekend. Mine was spent with friends and family, and this Saturday I get to see an orchestra perform songs by Muse, so I'm super excited about this weekend! I'm also waiting for my shiny new phone, and it's apparently going to be delivered today (this is a day early) so yay!

I'm starting to wonder if the weekends will eve be writing time for me again. On the one hand, I have ample time to do it, on the other, I like to just not do anything sometimes. My plan for writing more in general has been working out rather well, and having "finished" the writing portion of "Daughter of the Shackled King" I've been more motivated to get things done with my prequel to "The Light Rises".

I know I keep mentioning random titles here, and I wanted to help make things make a little sense. When finished, the order of the stories will be as such: "Uncrossed Paths", "Rending the Seal", "The Light Rises", "Through the Broken Mirror", "The Magicians War", "Daughter of the Shackled King", "Feathers of the Dead", and "War of the Pantheons". That last one is a working title, but everything else is set. They just need to be well, finished. I'm taking on such a big endeavor because my doctor says one day I'll need surgery on my left wrist, and I want to make sure I get everything that's in my head done first. We'll see if that happens, but it's a goal! All of the stories are set in the same world, just at different times, though all in chronological order with the last 3 in present day New York. Hopefully I can get them done!

I look forward to seeing everyone back here on Wednesday. I'm working on a topic for that day, but if there are any suggestions, I wouldn't mind seeing them. For those who celebrate, tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and I wish you all a good one. For those who don't, just think of all the discount candy you can get that day! See everyone later!

Friday, February 10, 2012

02/10/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Welcome back all! I see we've reached over 1000 hits! Thanks for all the support it's greatly appreciated. My gift to you will be me writing this post as quickly as I can so that there is a maximum amount of time to enjoy the story I selected for today!

We're looking at a free ebook called "Zev's Destiny" by Kira Bacal. It's available on Smashwords, and is rather short. The reason I selected it is because it takes the idea of the young man being destined by greatness and turns it on its head.

The story focuses on Zev, a young farm boy that saves a seer one day. As a reward, she offers him a reading, and tells him he is destined to rule a kingdom with a princess by his side. Excited by this prospect, he started revolving his whole life around this idea, leaving his home behind to become a warrior strong enough to save a princess in need.

I won't go into more details because that's about where the trope gets turned on its side, and it is really fun. I've said it many times that I like things that are the 'standard' but are taken in a different direction, or a different point of view, and this story does just that. It also talks about the consequences of telling someone their future when they didn't ask for it in the first place. It's also rather short, so I don't want to risk giving any spoiler-y information.

As I said before, "Zev's Destiny" can be found at Smashwords for absolutely free, and is rather short, so there's no excuse not to get it for your e-reader, or just pop open an internet browser window and read it on a break.

Thanks to everyone who has visited my blog regularly to get it up to this point. I feel that with 1000+ hits I've become more like a real blog. I hope that I'll be able to reach 2000 even faster than this was. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I'll see everyone back here on Monday.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

02/08/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Hello again, I hope the start of your week was a productive one. Thankfully I think "finishing" one project was good for me, since working on my prequel has become much easier. For today though we shall look at something that a friend and I did last night, and how it is incredibly important, especially if you have over-lapping plots.

The word of the day is: Timeline! This is the wonderful little thing that lets you actually keep track of all the major events in your story and how they will fall into place/when they'll be encountered resolved. Now I've used them a couple times, usually more towards the end when making sure that I've covered all my bases and tied of the loose ends that will be taken care of in that story (as I said previously, ones that shouldn't, should be address in a later book, and will be seen as delightful foreshadowing). The other time I use them is if I have a character that is particularly long lived, that way I can figure out exactly where their own timeline starts and when/where it connects with the one I'm working with. It helps show how much information they actually have.

The way we used one last night was to work with time-travel. This is something I avoid like the virulent plague it is. In my opinion, while it looks like fun, time travel has some of the most complicated rules, in that there are so many you first need to figure out which ones you're using, followed by how they are going to work in your story and still keep continuity from falling apart. I have practically vowed never to use time travel, but my friend however has taken that leap and so we had to work out a timeline last night.

What we found worked incredibly well is to use a visual representation. Don't just make imaginary gestures or try to do it all in your head. This will cause confusion and headaches, neither of which are good. Having something you can physically see in front of you will help you work out all the little details and smooth out the problems without worrying if you've messed up something else.

Also, keep whatever part of the timeline your protagonist on straight. Keep whatever little plot points, major developments, or things that will become offshoots like other stories, or parallel timelines on lines that are separate from it. Think of your timeline from the perspective of your main protagonist; they aren't going to see their world jutting away from them, or going in different directions, they're going see it as it is in front of them, which is likely going to be a straight path. It's their world, not this other world, or another world which was created by something previously, theirs and it will always be the first and primary, even if they jump around to other ones.

I hope this all made sense, like I said, I use timelines to keep track of things when I'm worried I may have overlooked/forgotten something. If you're being much braver than I am and working with time travel, they are essential to keeping everything put together and coherent, since there is a chance you'll have one tiny thing happen, then look at your story and realize that you've possibly invalidated the entire book, or an entire series. Then you get into the 'it was all a dream' scenario, and people start throwing stuff. It's not pleasant.

I look forward to seeing you all on Friday, I'll have a new book up for review. I hope your work is productive and entertaining as always. If you ever have any suggestions/questions/comments, please do put them below and I will respond accordingly! I would love for a discussion to be started. I would feel like a real blogger then! Have a good week!

Monday, February 6, 2012

02/06/2012 Magnificent Monday!

Hello all! I hope your weekend was as fun as mine! It's always exciting when you feel you've accomplished something, even if it means the first thing you do is jump into more work. My weekend was spent with friends and loved ones, and I have learned that I really shouldn't watch 'Glee' yet because I will get obsessed and I just don't have that kind of time.

Thursday last week marked me finishing the writing portion of "Daughter of the Shackled King", about a young woman who learns she is the descendant of Loki and is thrown into the middle of a long-running war of Order vs Chaos. This is the story that I have been handwriting at work since who knows how long, and though it needs to be typed up and heavily edited, I can still say it's finished and that is delightful. It won't be for reals finished/published for quite some time yet, but that's super fine! Now it's time to work on the next book in that set while I type up other ones at home.

Other such nerdy things made my weekend a delight, with our weekly game going well for the most part, and a new Magic set coming out (just missing 3 cards, woo!) this was an overall fun weekend.

So far my 'trying to figure out how to write more during the week' plan is off to a slow-ish start, but more is better than the same, so progress is being made. I think that since 'Daughter of the Shackled King' is also finished, I'll have a bit more time to focus on other things, since I super wanted to get that done knowing I was so close. The next thing that gets finished will be 'Rending the Seal' and hopefully it will be done by the end of February, and since I have a couple extra days off in the month, hopefully that will help.

Thanks everyone who's come back and visited each week. Come back Wednesday and I'll talk about writing a bit more, and again if there's ever something you'd like for me to bring up, please don't hesitate to ask. Until then, have a good couple days!

Friday, February 3, 2012

02/03/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Welcome back all! I hope your week was as productive as mine (yay 'Daughter of the Shackled King' is now ready for typing!) but hopefully more sleep-filled. I do have a book for you all today, I just ask that you forgive spelling/grammar issues, if they are there, because I spent several hours staring at my ceiling. Anyway, let's get on with it!

Today we look at "The God of This World" by Daniel Eness. It's set in the first-person and follows a man on his way through an old temple to pay tribute to an ancient deity. Only when he finds his God, he learns a bit more than was expecting, including a lesson in vanity.

I picked this story because, 1) first-person has always fascinated me and I just can't seem to get it right whenever I try to do it, and 2) having just finished a story revolving around older Gods, I was super excited to see this. What I really liked about this story was the deity himself, he was still obviously powerful (and huge!) but there was the air of boredom and exhaustion that was carried with the character, and I think that was a rather nice look at an old deity.

I think I liked the deity a bit more than the reasonably confused main character, but that may have been because the idea of Gods acting like normal people I have always found amusing. It makes sense if you think about it, but I don't want to go into too much detail about that here. The first thing the main character does is ask the deity what the difference between Omniscience and Omnipotence is, which is something I found delightful.

"The God of This World" can be found at Smashwords for .99, and is a great addition to any e-book library. It was just published as of Feb 1st, so it's not in the premium catalog yet, but hopefully soon you'll be able to get it via Barnes and Noble and other distributors.

I thank you so much for coming back, I appreciate each and every one of you. I hope your weekend is fun and productive. Mine will be full of new cards, friends, games, and hopefully writing. See you all Monday!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

02/01/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Welcome back everyone! It's the first day of February and I'm glad to have you here. January exploded by, so I'm still a bit surprised. It feels like the new year just started and that we should still have at least another week left, but oh well!

Today we (should) finish telling the basic story of Phillipe. Last week we introduced both the antagonist and the love interest (to simplify things) and all of the players are currently in their places. What we need to do today is bring everything together for a triumphant close.

The nice thing about the addition of someone from the 'outside' i.e. love interest, who we'll call Nicolette for now, is that she asks questions. The loveable street urchin asked them too, but his were more based on how to survive in the world he had been introduced to. No, the ones Nicolette asks are about Phillipe's live itself, it will be the final piece in bringing him full circle because he will be remembering images of his past and his motivations for joining up with the gang in the first place.

Something you can do to build tension, and this goes with that dissension in the ranks, is have someone who isn't quite happy with Phillipe's decision to keep the woman alive and/or works with the antagonist overhear the conversation and start building up an attack against Phillipe. When Phillip mentions what happened to his father, they will have what they need and the antagonist can go after Phillipe's mother. This will build up to the powerful climax where Phillipe (and his people) will have to chose what course of action they wish to take.

Now, there are many different routes you can take here, and it all depends on the type of ending you want. If you want something positive, obviously you have Phillipe win, if you want to give a message that for simplicity's sake is 'crime doesn't pay' have Phillipe lose and/or die, if you want more of a bittersweet melancholy or neutral ending have someone that isn't Phillipe die (like the love interest, the boy, the loyal #2) but still have him be victorious elsewhere (he gets his revenge, saves his mother, what have you). No matter what ending you pick, make sure that the loose ends are tied up, unless of course you're trying to write a sequel later and you want those unanswered/unfinished things to be brought up in it. Leaving too many questions unanswered and then never doing anything with them causes reader frustration, though I suppose it gets people talking about the book so...hmmm

The idea of an epilogue is one that I particularly like. "The Light Rises" has one, as will the other stories I'm working on. They work well for closure and also to give an idea of what's to happen in future stories (if there are any), but they aren't always necessary, so don't feel the need to smash one in just because you think the story has to have one in order to be complete. That isn't necessarily true, if the story is done, it's done, let it stay that way. If you tack on an epilogue it's going to feel as such and if you want the reader to come away with a certain feeling (like the one from the final scene) you will have to be careful not to have that taken away with the epilogue.

Thanks everyone for reading the building of Phillipe. I actually super likes this character, and this was incredibly fun. If anyone would like for me to do this again, or make a small outline, let me know and I can put something together for examples. Come back Friday for our first book of February!