Friday, March 30, 2012

03/30/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Welcome back everyone for my weekly review post. I'm glad to see that everyone has made it through the week, no matter how challenging it was at times. I'm still waiting to here back from potential job prospects, and while that is driving me crazy with anticipation, I was able to get work done on 'Feathers of the Dead' to the point of getting to page (handwritten) 101 yesterday. For now though, let's get to business!

Today I look at "The Light Guardian" by K.B. Robey, a fantasy adventure set in the world of Mordaea, and the author was nice enough to include a map with their story as well! It begins by telling the story of Evangeline's father, the benevolent king that was betrayed by his advisor (Why do any kings have those? The only one who's never betrayed anyone was Zazu in 'The Lion King' and that was only because his king could eat him.) and she was forced to escape from the riot that followed. Raised by a loyalist of her father's, Eve was trained to defend herself and take back her kingdom from Zavier's tyrannical rule.

I enjoy this story because it has a sense of justice to it. Eva's father was killed by the person he trusted most, and now his country is in chaos and darkness. She must gather allies and learn how to use her power to take everything back and save not only her father's name, but her people. Evangeline goes to great lengths to do this; being trained from a very young age, to traveling all over Mordaea to learn of strange and ancient tribes to gather as much support as she can. There is a definite sense that she genuinely cares for what happens to her country, even if the people rose up against her father.

"The Light Guardian" is $2.99 and available at Smashwords. I'm sure it'll move to the premium catalog soon, so it will also be available at other locations too. I recommend this for anyone who just wants to read something to help get them through some tough times.

Thanks everyone for stopping by this week! I look forward to (hopefully) a weekend of relaxation and winding down from a week of crazy. I'll see everyone again on Monday, until then I hope you all have a fun weekend!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

03/28/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Welcome back once again everyone. Hopefully you've all be able to make it through the week so far, and am not anxiously wondering what's going to happen next when it comes to employment like I am.

Today I wanted to take a couple steps back and look at balancing writing time. This is similar to figuring out a time when you are able to do it during the day, but it's more geared towards those of us who have full-time jobs we also do on top of writing. When you're working 40 or possibly more hours a week, finding time to relax is incredibly difficult, and many people do that in different ways. For myself, writing actually is how I wind down, but for others it might be reading, exercise, putting in a fighting game on easy and going to town, or simply not doing anything.

For some people writing is like another job, which is why for them finding a specific time to do it is very important. However, when it's used as something closer to a hobby, it's also important to be able to do it, especially when you're stressed, because it is something that will help you calm down. This is part of the work/life balance that you hear about ever-so-often. My current place of employment is very big on acknowledging it and they encourage people to make sure they find that perfect balance that makes them happy. Right now I have that, however I know that soon that will likely change and I'll need to adjust everything again.

If you take the time to look at your life and figure out where you are able to fit in time to write (or do whatever it is you enjoy) you'll be able to help reduce stress and will actually feel more fulfilled. Especially when you finish your project, having done it while doing everything else brings a great sense of accomplishment. So if you find yourself having a bad day, or not feeling at 100%, or things are just kind of lame, give yourself some time to work on your project and just enjoy it. It will help take your mind off whatever it is that's making things not as awesome as they could be and help you relax.

Thanks everyone for stopping by again. I know this post was a little short, but that not feeling at 100% thing I mentioned is where I'm at right now. I hope everyone comes back on Friday for my weekly review and that you enjoy whatever story I pick. If you have any suggestions/questions/comments please feel free to leave them below. I'd love to see them! Until then, have a good week!

Monday, March 26, 2012

03/26/2012 Magnificent Monday!

Hello again and welcome back. I hope everyone had a nice and fulfilling weekend! Mine was spent with friends and family, while still trying to be nice to my stupid wrist. It seriously needs to get itself together, I've fallen behind pretty far on getting some work on on my story. I think once I'm done with my first play through of Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 that will help as well, since it means I won't be trying to write and also making time to play a video game. Also, everyone should play that game if you can find it.

Not be able to write as much as made me start thinking more and more about Dragon Diction. I don't know how well I'd be able to use it, since I tend to stutter and am largely self conscious about certain things, and talking to myself for who knows how long is likely going to rank up there fairly high on the embarrassment list. We'll see though, I'm hoping this week will be better.

I'm also looking into getting a new laptop, and luckily since my car is paid off, this will be much easier. This might also help me get more writing done since it will mean I don't have to constantly fight with my shift-key to actually do what I need it to do. It'll also be awesome and shiny, which is a sweet bonus.

I look forward to seeing everyone back on Wednesday. I hope to have news of great progress and such throughout the week. Either way I'll be here. Have a good start to the week!

Friday, March 23, 2012

03/23/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Hello everyone and welcome back! It's wonderful to see that we're all made it through this week to Friday. I'm looking forward to the weekend, which probably means that when I get to work it's going to drag on and on forever. So, to try and counteract that, let's get to it!

Today I bring you "Greywalker" by Patrick Heffernan. It's about a man named Amos Garr who walks the line between the material world and the spirit world to fight in Michael's army. He was 'drafted' into the army after accidentally walking into the spirit world without realizing it one day and wound up in a coma. His guardian angel helps guide him and educate him on how the world really works, and how he needs to help protect it.

Now I'll admit I'm a sucker for things like this. It's the reason why season 5 of Supernatural is my absolute favorite, and why I wrote about the Apocalypse. I love all sorts of mythology, it doesn't matter what pantheon it's pulling from, and modern takes on it make me incredibly happy. It's when people take something that has been so engrained into our culture and make it their own that it really shows the endurance something like this has. Changing fairy tales is one thing, and a type of mythology of their own, but when you bring in angels, demons, and things like that you start moving into a territory that many are afraid to travel because they're afraid of offending people, but I honestly wish people would do it more. Wonderful things happen when you do!

"Greywalker" is currently available on Smashwords for $2.99, and I hope everyone goes and grabs it. One thing I would like to point out though, there is quite a bit of profanity, at least in the beginning, so if you are the faint of heart please take note. I do still recommend getting it though to read through.

Thanks everyone for stopping by. I'll be back on Monday after taking the weekend to relax. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend, and I'll see you next week!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

03/21/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Welcome back everyone! I hope this week is treating you better sickness is treating my boyfriend. Things with work are starting to calm down, which is good, and I'm trying to be a bit nicer to my wrist after over-doing it a bit last week.

Today I wanted to bring up goal setting. I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but it's not like it stops being important. Goal setting is something we learn at rather early ages, and (at least my) teachers explain to us how to come up with both long-term and short-term goals so that we start learning what it means to be rewarded and to feel a sense of accomplishment. Writing has the same idea behind it in that you need to come up with both long-term and short-term goals in order to actually get anything completed.

Now I will be using my own methods as examples for this post, mostly because it's easier for me and will hopefully give a little insight into how I put things together. Now, having a generic goal, long or short term will never get you anywhere in the end. Saying something like "I'm going to write more!" is like making a New Years Resolution to just "lose weight"; without specifics you are going nowhere. What you want to do is say something along the lines of 'I'm going to write at least 3 days out of the work week, and try to get more done at work so that I can meet a deadline of X date.' A goal like that has some kind of structure you can hold onto and work into a routine, which means you have a high chance of actually accomplishing it.

That was an example of a short-term goal, since it obviously doesn't cover a span of some incredibly long amount of time. I didn't put any word quotas or specific times/days in there because there are always going to be factors that might throw that out the window, and the last thing you want to do is feel awful if you didn't write 1200 words in a day because you got sick, or there was some other part of life that demanded more attention.

The time of long-term goal that I am personally using is basically something along the lines of 'I'm going to get my book series completed'. It doesn't have a time frame, or limit, it's just simply that it's going to be done. Honestly the series will be finished when the books are (obviously) and I don't want to say I'm going to finish 5 or 6 books before the end of the next year or two because I'm not a crazy person. (Though you never know!) The important thing is that there is a goal in place ad that I am using my short-term goals to work towards achieving it.

When it comes to accomplishing any goal, short or long-term, remember there are going to be bumps in the road and there will be days when you don't know if you can actually make it. These are moments we all have to face, but remember we're all in this together and what's important is that you keep pressing on. Once you finish it you will be incredibly happy and satisfied that you did.

Thanks everyone for stopping by again this week! I'll come back on Friday with some another review for you all to check out. I hope this blog is helping out my fellow writers, since that is the purpose of it. If you ever have any questions, definitely contact me or leave a comment! I'll see everyone Friday!

Monday, March 19, 2012

03/19/2012 Magnificent Monday!

Hello everyone! I hope you all made it through the weekend as unscathed as possible. I know things tend to get a bit crazy on St. Patrick's day, so cheers to everyone who made it! Sadly it looks like my bf didn't get so lucky, neither of us drank, but he came down with some kind of plague and started having to deal with that yesterday. Hopefully it will just be him that deals with it, I don't want to get sick.

This weekend, in order to assist with one of our friend's determination to avoid alcohol on St. Patrick's Day, we played our weekly Saturday game in a hotel room. It was a rather nice room, had separate rooms and everything. It essentially looked like a tiny apartment. My only concern was that I felt like I needed to be exceptionally quiet the whole time, and I wasn't alone, since we had no idea a) how well sound-proofed the rooms were and b) if anyone were in the rooms next to ours. All in all it wasn't a terrible experience, ad we fulfilled a life-long dream of our friend's.

My hope for this week is that stress will continue to wind down. My commute has gotten worse, which is confusing and super annoying, but work has calmed considerably as people start looking at their options objectively and not in a panic like they were before. For those who haven't seen on business sites or the news, Verizon Wireless is consolidating their call centers, and the one that I work at will be closing at the end of June. My options are to move to a different department within the company to stay in my current state (which would likely mean retail), relocate to the other side of the country, or take a severance at the end of June. This is a big decision, and since I can't move my options are limited. I'm taking this opportunity to work on my writing even more so that I can get my name out there.

I see we're gotten a bit more visibility on this blog over the last few weeks. The hit counter has jumped significantly, and I can't thank everyone more. I would love for this to become a successful blog, and it's because of my readers that is possible. Thanks for all the kind words, especially in these times of stress, they are much appreciated. I'll be back on Wednesday for more writing tips, I hope you all come back too! Until then, have a good start to your week!

Friday, March 16, 2012

03/16/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Welcome back everyone! We're all somehow survived through this, strangely long week. With tomorrow being St. Patrick's Day, I hope you all are smart and don't do anything too crazy. For now however, let's get down to business.

Today I give you "The Adventures of Crimson Overcoat: Crimson Overcoat and the Unicorn Prince of Avalon" by Luke Monroe. I know it sounds silly, and frankly after the week some of us have had, I think this is perfectly acceptable. It's currently available for $.99 on Smashwords for those who are looking for it.

I selected this story because just from the title I had the feeling it was going to be somewhere along the lines of a superhero story, and sometimes we all need those. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was somewhere between superheroes and modern day magicians. That made it even better!

We open with Alexander aka Crimson Overcoat at a club watching the human-form prince enjoy himself. He needs to watch the charismatic man because it is believed someone would want to kill him. The question is who would want to do it? The unicorn prince is on his once a decade trip and is the beacon of hope, charisma and all things good, and it's up to Crimson Overcoat to find out who would want to harm the Unicorn Prince and stop them. Modern day magic/superheros always work well to me, from Zatana, to Dr. Strange and Dr. Fate, I don't think I haven't enjoyed any of them, and this story feels like it would be the start of a delightful series.

I appreciate everyone stopping by today. I'm still not at 100% for this shift, but I'm getting there, so hopefully things will get better. I hope everyone has a fun and exciting weekend! I will be back on Monday! Also, for those who celebrate, don't forget to wear green tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

03/14/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Hello everyone and welcome back! I'm going to write out my post today with a high level of patience as I work to not throw my laptop across the room! (yay...!) I'm glad everyone has stopped by again. You may have noticed the posts are a little bit earlier, that is because work has moved my schedule to start an hour earlier, so here I am!

Today I wanted to talk to you more about what to do once your 'finished' with something. I put finished in quotes because you're not actually done with the piece of work. If you were, the next step would be to a) throw it towards the sea of agents or b) go for self publishing, which means I wouldn't have nearly enough to talk about. No, I'm talking about when draft one is completed, and what steps should be taken.

Now you're probably saying that the answer is easy, and that your first step is editing. Actually, while editing will need to happen, the first step is actually much simpler. The first still is actually just reading. If you're anything like me, you can be about 2/3 of the way through your story and you are convinced it is terrible, or confusing, or full of so many plot holes you couldn't hold something solid with it. It's exactly because of this feeling that before you do anything else, you should just read the story. Sure you can fix little typos you see here and there, but this isn't for major editing, this is simply to make sure things make sense, and if nothing else see if you still believe what you were feeling about it before.

I went through this recently, and I was pleasantly surprised. Now it's also important to take a little time to pretend the story doesn't exist once you're done, that way when you come back and look at it your mind is a bit clearer. If you start reading it the day after you finish up the writing portion you're going to be so burned out you're going to have the urge to throw it in a fire. I suggest taking at the very least two weeks before reading it again, but of course don't wait too long, because there's risk of you never looking at it again if you do that.

The way I handled this was that I started working on the story that comes after the one that was finished, then after getting relatively far in it (and needing to give my wrist a little break) I decided to distract myself by reading the first story. Now admittedly this all happened at work, but it was a nice way to pass the time, and I found the story more enjoyable after I had pretended it didn't exist for a while.

I hope this advice has helped you out some. Just remember that in the end, what's most important is that you don't melt your brain, but that you're also trying to get your work out into the world. If you wait too long to get the editing process started, you might forget about the story entirely. I'm not suggesting that you leave it sitting around for months, but however long is necessary for your brain to recover and for yourself to be ready to put more work into the story.

I look forward to seeing everyone back here on Friday! I'll be back with my normal review and hope to show you all something you'll enjoy. Until then, I hope you all have a great rest of your week!

Monday, March 12, 2012

03/12/2012 Magnificent Monday!

Greetings all! I hope you had a good weekend. Mine was not nearly as full of relaxing as I would have wanted, and between my work telling me the center will only be open until June and one of my cats needing to go to the e-vet, I needed some me-time today. That needing some relaxing time would be why the post is a little late today, rather than get up earlier like I'm supposed to, I laid in bed for a while and stayed warm until I decided it was time to get up.

The Smashwords sale is over, and while I'm sad nothing came in for me, it just tells me that during their next one I need to be a bit better about advertising. I had been doing stuff through Google and Facebook, and that was nice to draw traffic, but it also drew money towards my credit card, so right now it's paying that off time.

So far the progress report on my projects is looking a bit better. With "Rending the Seal" almost to the final writing stages, it means I can start trying to work out smaller plot details for the sequel to "The Light Rises". I still think I have too many going on, but I'm sure others have gone through similar, and that once I'm done with them I'll be at a total loss for what to do next. The first answer will probably be to get my wrist fixed, but after that who knows what the possibilities are!

I hope to get some writing done today while I nurse my sick cat back to the land of the healthy. Maybe play some video games (Devil Survivor 2 is awesome and sucking away my life!) and watch Harry Potter, either way today will be dedicated to relaxing so that tomorrow I can hit the ground running!

I also saw we had one of the authors make a post regarding the review! Thanks so much for stopping by, I hope you come back again and tell your friends! I'm always happy when we get such wonderful visitors! I hope everyone comes back on Wednesday, if there's any suggestions for topics please let me know! I'll see everyone then!

Friday, March 9, 2012

03/09/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Hello everyone and welcome back! Yesterday was a bit rough for me, so I'm going to try and make up for it today! I'm glad you've all come to check out today's reviews, so I won't make you wait any longer!
First we look at "Champion of Justice and Freedom" by Wayne Greenough. It's about a seventh grader named Tate Twilliger and his pursuits to become the hero his grandfather always wanted to be.

I wanted to pick something a bit ore uplifting today, sometimes a good pick-me-up is necessary and this story did a wonderful job of helping with that. It starts with Tate explaining why he decided to become the Champion of Justice and Freedom; reminiscing about when he and his grandfather would watch old serial and radio shows. His grandfather mentions that if he were Tate's age, he'd figure out a way to be a superhero, so not wanting to disappoint him, Tate finds a way to do just that. By fighting bullies, and helping people in his school, Tate finds a way to become the superhero every middle and high school needs.

This week, Smashwords is having their yearly sale, so I wanted to make sure that I picked a story that had opted into it. "Champion of Justice and Freedom" is currently 25% off is you use coupon code REW25 which will end up making it $1.50. I fully believe it is worth every cent of that money, so I encourage you to check it out.

Next, to enjoy a little self indulgence, as part of the sale I have also included my first full-length novel "The Light Rises". Normally it sells for $2.99, but until tomorrow you can get it for $1 by using coupon code REW75!

The story is about a group of companions that were torn apart two years prior coming back together after signs of the Apocalypse start popping up all over London. It starts with necromancer detective Keagan Gillette returning home following his disappearance two years ago after not being able to keep his twin sister Maria as part of the living. While out one night he sees a man hold his hand up to one of the streetlamps and cause a blizzard in the middle of winter. He's then forced to rebuild the bridges he thought were burned long ago, only to learn that not everyone had come away unscathed after they prevented the Seal of Solomon from being used and stopped the demonologists known as the Disciples of Cain.

"The Light Rises" is about standing up for what's right, even if the odds are heavily stacked against you. Will they be able to stop the Apocalypse and save, not just London, but the world? Check it out in "The Light Rises", and get yourself ready for the prequel "Rending the Seal" coming soon to Smashwords!

Thanks everyone for stopping by. I know this post was a bit longer than normal, and I appreciate you sticking through it. Monday's post will be up a bit earlier, so that'll be interesting for certain. Also, for those who participate, this weekend of daylight savings time, so remember to move your clocks forward one hour! Wouldn't want anyone late to work in on Monday! Until then, have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

03/07/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Welcome back! I see you've all survived half way through the week! I have as well and after a couple days of being (mostly) nice to my wrist, it seems to have calm itself down quite nicely. I've taken to reading my rough-rough draft of 'Daughter of the Shackled King' at work, and while I don't think it's nearly as terrible as I first thought, it has a lot of work that needs to be done, and not working on 'Feathers of the Dead' meant my wrist could heal.

I thought a lot about what to talk about for today, and I thought I would bring up something that I have a bit of a problem getting through myself. Today's topic will be combat! Most novels have it in some way shape or form. Whether it's two guys just punching the lights out of one another after a night at the bar, or a running gun battle, unless you're writing a super-romance novel you're likely to have it in there.

The way I handle it, and you may do it differently, or have some other advice, if you do please share it, is by what I call 'Initiative'. If you're a table-top gamer like me, you will likely recognize that term. It's basically the order people get to take actions in combat. In most games, people either roll, or something else will determine how they take their actions. Sometimes it's random, other times it's stat based, either way it makes handling combat in stories a bit easier.

Now, admittedly part of it is common sense with the characters. You've made them in your story, you know what they're able to do, and how they stack up against the competition you're putting them up against. For example, if you have someone who's a smaller, more agile character going up against something/one that's huge, muscle-y, and may or may not be made of rock, the more agile character is going to move faster than they will. However, in that same respect, if the opponent happens to get a hit on them, they are going to hit harder, do more damage, and possibly knock out the character fighting them a lot faster.

The idea of initiative is simply to help organize the fight. In general, fights tend to be incredibly chaotic situations, and if you can put any kind of order to them it will make writing them so much easier. Not to say it solves every problem, because all fights are going to have some level of ridiculous or (depending on your genre) preposterousness to them that's going to force you to suspend your own disbelief while writing it. I think this happens the most during high fantasy or science fiction writing the most, but it will likely be in some form, and you're just going to have to go with it. Honestly, that's what editing it for.

I appreciate you all stopping by this week again. I'll be back Friday with my weekly review. In the meantime, just a reminder that Smashwords is having their annual sale, and "The Light Rises" is 75% off all this week. That means it's $1! That's it! So please stop by and check it out and help out the indie authors out there!

Monday, March 5, 2012

03/05/12 Magnificent Monday!

Hello all! I hope you had a nice weekend. My spending has started, and we now have a new TV. It's taken me forever, but I'm finally jumped on this HDTV thing. Soon the old TV will be hooked up in the other room and I can dive into the sweet world of nostalgia by hooking up my PS2 and Nintendo. There are a few more steps I need to take before that happens though (i.e. we need to get a nice tv stand to put the new shiny one on), but it will happen and it will be glorious!

I think I may have overdone it a little last week, so my weekend was spent trying to be nice to my (stupid) wrist, which sadly meant the writing portion once again did not get done. I seriously need to stop up things for my writing on the weekends. Now that March has started, the goal for finishing the writing portion of "Rending the Seal" has once again been pushed to this month. I think it's actually realistic this time, since I'm getting closer to the big climatic end, I just seriously hope it works this time. I dislike not making goals.

This week I will try to keep my writing portion up, but will try not to go absolutely crazy. Part of the problem I think was how much I did at work, combined with the fact I got a new game for my DS. So, not wanting to neglect the beauty that is Devil Survivor 2, I'll likely be slowing down a little at work. Which will be both good and bad, since I'm making excellent time on that particular story, so I want to keep working on it, but if I have to slow down, I must. Hopefully the crazy won't set in too quickly.

Thanks for stopping by! As an announcement/reminder, Smashwords is having a sale this week, so you'll be able to get "The Light Rises" for 75% off! That means you can get it for just a dollar! All you have to do is to go the page for "The Light Rises", and there is a coupon code there for you to put in when you checkout! Simple as that! Please stop by and check out the book and tell your friends! I'll see everyone back on Wednesday!

Friday, March 2, 2012

03/02/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Welcome back! I see you've all managed to survive the week as well. I have pushed through the day job, and having a new game that I would much rather go home and play. I appreciate you all coming back here, so I will not waste anymore of your time!

Today I look at 'The Gothic Ghost Killer' by Abigail Fero. This one, while distributed through Smashwords is actually published by Black Shire Publishing and is available for .99 through Smashwords.

I enjoyed this little story for a few reasons; it deals with the trials and tribulations of a ghost trapped somewhere it doesn't belong, and how things might not work the way we see them in movies.

It follows the story of Howard, who died in a high school and has been haunting there ever since. He didn't go to that school, and was actually a grown man when he died, but he's stuck there now, and is rather bad at being ghostly. People see him and tease him, and he has to deal with the bullies just like many other high school students. Until Raven shows up, a freshmen who loves all things goth.

The story is incredibly short, so I don't go into any other spoilers than that. It is quiet delightful though, and in it's short span of time you do feel bad for Howard, you want him to be able to find a place where he can be left alone. That could be because I'm sure there are a lot of us out there that dealt with being teased, disrespected, and so forth in high school, and we want to cheer him on in his quest to not have that happen.

I'm glad you've all come out again this week to see my reviews. Remember, Monday marks the Smashwords sale and as soon as I get the coupon information I'll send it out to everyone! Until then I hope you all have a fun and exciting weekend!