Friday, September 27, 2013

09/27/2013 Fantastic Friday!

Greetings everyone and happy Friday! It was so nice to have my birthday off and even nicer that I'm getting off work early today. At the very least it saves me the times of having to do a few things before work in the morning. Still working on the cat though, but he has some new appetite stimulant and he's currently interested in stuff, so I'll take that as a step forward.

Today I bring you 'A Numbers Game' by Amy Spahn. It is a short story about choices and the consequences that we have to face when we make them. It specifically deals with the consequences we didn't even know were there and the debate of whether or not that means the right thing was done in the end. Thomas Withers must now face those same consequences and decide for himself if what he did was right.

Imagine you are in an extraordinary circumstance and there's someone staring you in the face begging to be saved. You do what you firmly believe is right and tell the world about it. Then you learn that if that one person had died almost thirty more would have be saved. That is the quandary facing Thomas, and even if it knows deep in his heart that disobeying orders was the right thing to do, not everyone sees it that way.

I picked this story because things like that are something that people face everyday. People in law enforcement and/or military need to make those what-if decisions and face those consequences. To many who live away from that it's hard to picture how much it eats away at them, which is why a story like this is so important.

'A Numbers Game' is available for free on Smashwords, so please stop by and take a look. I know this still isn't the story that was recommended to me in the comments. There is a reason, albeit a silly one, and that is simply being told to check out something and given a link is not something that I readily click on. I have been burned before and know many others who have. So please, if you are going to recommend something to me to read, please give me some kind of synposis or description so that I know that not only is it likely not Spam, but also probably isn't some kind of horrible virus. I don't want to sound mean, but we are on the internet.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I will be back on Wednesday. I will be taking Monday off, because I can, so I will be spending that time sleeping in. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below. I will fight with whatever system I'm on the respond as fast as I can! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

09/25/2013 Writing Wednesday!

Hi everyone and welcome back. I hope the week is being nice to you all so far. I am mostly looking forward to the rest of mine, since it involves time off or getting off work early, but I just need to be patient and it'll get here. I will warn everyone, I am a little tired today. Something about car alarms going off at some point in the early morning. I understand it taking a while to turn it off the first time (no one wants to realize that irritating sound is coming from their car) but what about the second, or third times? There's no reason for it, you know the car alarm is going off, so why make everyone else suffer? Jerk. Anyway, you're not here for this.

You're actually here to talk about writing and things like that. I've mentioned patience before and how it is a beneficial part of every step of the writing process, which is why it's going to be an underlying theme for today. Today's topic is going to be able building up your own confidence. I know that doesn't actually seem like a 'writing' topic, but hear me out, because at the core anything that you create yourself and put out there to be scrutinized by the public is a test of your confidence. Which is why we're bringing it up today.

Putting yourself out there even for a job interview is an absolutely terrifying experience. The fact you are completely exposed and asked to talk about yourself is just terrible, at least for more people who aren't narcissists. Think about the scale that is releasing a book, regardless of whether or not you're going through an agency or doing it yourself. Even if at first you're just showing it to people that you know, they will show it to others and then suddenly people you don't know are asking you what your writing process is. This is incredibly awkward and there is a strong desire to give them the right answer, but it's all a trap; there is no right answer. Your process is your process, not someone else's or the universe's, it's your's and really that's all the people want to talk about.

This is a test of confidence because you are going to feel picked apart, especially when someone does a review. Look at anything on Amazon, even a calendar of cat pictures, there are going to be good and bad reviews. Some of them are going to be legitimate pieces of constructive criticism, but one doesn't need to go further than YouTube to know that isn't always the case. There will be people who will rip into your story simply because there's something in there they feel is insulting to the way they live, or they are just being a jerk and trying to start fights on the internet with anyone they can because that's how they think it makes them powerful and in control. Those situations will be a beating against your self esteem, and all you can really do is keep yourself up. Yes it's hard because quite frankly as cool as it would be, not everyone is going to like your book, but you already know you can't please everyone, so just take what you can get and go with it

When things seem down, you need to remember the reason you're writing in the first place and use that as your strength. Maybe you're writing your story so that you can honor someone you love, or you wanted to write something your children or young family members could enjoy, or maybe even just to prove to the world you can take on something like writing a full-length novel. You don't need to let the world get you down as long as you remember why you're doing what you're doing and keep moving forward. Keep your circle of friends close since they will be your support and will be able to remind you in times you aren't so sure of yourself. Either way keep it up, it's a long process and you need to keep moving.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. I hope my post was helpful at least in the confidence building way. I am looking forward to a day of not doing anything followed by a half-day of work and the Launch Party for Theros (that's right, more M:tG and I'm not sorry). I will be back on Friday barring any disasters early in my day. I hope the rest of the week is nice to all of you! See you then!

Monday, September 23, 2013

09/23/2013 Magnificent Monday!

Hello everyone! I hope the weekend saw you all well. The prerelease didn't go nearly as well for me as I would have liked, but going 2 for 2 isn't bad overall. Hoping the launch party on Friday goes better. While this is my Saturday week I am will happy about it because I have my birthday off! I hope to spend that day doing little to nothing productive. Let's see if that happens!

'Rending the Seal' has been sent off with my beta-reader in hopes that someone who isn't me or already familiar with the story will be able to pick out all my spelling/grammar issues. It's a bit of a gamble, since the person is not my target demographic, but it's something that I need done and having someone who is a complete blank slate look it over is for the best. They are under instruction to be done by December, so we'll see if that happens too.

As things start coming together more and I also keep staring at a calendar I am becoming nervous and excited for November. I really hope I am able to finish again without hurting myself, and if I follow a similar pacing plan like I did last year I should be able to pull it off. There's always the bit of nervousness that I won't be able to though. I keep being told by multiple people to try dictation software, which I know logically I should, however getting over the embarrassment that comes from talking out my book, and also the fact that I sometimes stutter, especially when reading, is something that is holding me back. I need to work on getting over it though...just have no idea how to actually start doing that.

In other news the cat is still on the mend. I think we've settled into a good routine, but only time will tell. It drives me nuts because the weight came off relatively quickly, but not like...liver-damaging quickly, but getting it back on is proving to be an emotionally draining task. It'll take time and as I see one cat miserable and the other bored and huge I wish that it didn't. I don't like watching my cat be sick/allergic to everything.

Right now I just need to focus on one thing at a time. Especially because as soon as November hits I'm going to be focusing on way more than that. With a craft fair and also a game coming out in the same week while I sit there and try to get my word count up, it is going to be a test of resistance for me. I'll want to do everything and know that I shouldn't. I'm just hoping that the day of the craft fair is one I can spend at home afterward and not just running around more. We'll see though!

Thanks everyone for coming by again today. If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments about something mentioned about or something you'd like to see on Wednesday just let me know. I always like it when people start a discussion here. I hope you all have a great start to your week too. I'll be back on the 25th!

Friday, September 20, 2013

09/20/2013 Fantastic Friday!

Hello everyone and welcome back. We made it to Friday! Yay! I appreciate everyone stopping by. I did have a suggestion for a book to review, but things have been so 100% crazy I haven't had a chance to look into it yet. I will do my best to do that for next week, since in theory I should have more time. For now I have a book for you all.

I bring you 'Night Sentry' by Greg M. Hall. Horror generally isn't my go-to genre, but I decided to give it a shot today because the synopsis sounded interesting. Mikey is a watchman for Omaha after the world went dead. They built a wall and its his job to make sure no one gets in, especially during the middle of the night. However when a man shows up and doesn't seem to want to leave, he starts wondering if things aren't necessarily right.

Mikey had always been a good boy, even if he had to put up with gruff people in town that were technically his boss, but not the best people to get along with. They'd come to Omaha after deciding they couldn't go on any further after some of the other refugees started dropping like flies. It's up to him to make sure everyone's safe, at least while he's watching, and the man that came to the wall that night wouldn't go away even after he said 'no' to the request to enter. He knew things weren't right, and when it was time to switch posts he alerted the guard captain, however what Mikey wasn't sure if was whether or not it was already too late.

'Night Sentry' is available for free on Smashwords. When I was reading it I had to adjust the spacing on the page, and it could just be a weird system glitch, but I wanted to let you guys know. Please check it out and let the author know what you thought of it, I'm sure he'd really appreciate it.

For now I will thank everyone stop for stopping by. I know this post is a little shorter than most, and I do apologize for that because I don't want to feel like I'm doing anyone a disservice, however having to deal with some things in the morning makes me have very little time to do anything else. I wish I had a bit more time, but I just don't know if I'm up for waking up earlier than I need to. I'm sure once things stable out more with the cat I will have more time. I do hope you all have a great weekend though, I have a prerelease tomorrow, so let's hope I don't do terribly!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

09/18/2013 Writing Wednesday!

Greetings everyone and welcome back. This week is going to be a challenge in patience for me as the cat has decided that eating too much is the best thing for him to do. Hint: it's actually not, he's stupid. This post is also being written as slowly as I can muster in an attempt to not hurt my wrists at work today. Writing intentionally slowly is incredibly difficult and I don't like it.

I was trying to figure out what the topic of today's post should be, and was running into a bit of a wall. Then I knocked the wall down with a sledge hammer and laughed at the pieces left on the hypothetically ground. I had trouble with figuring stuff out all last week, which means that's the perfect topic for today!

So naming stuff is hard. I mentioned briefly how difficult it can be sometimes to pick a title that seems to encompass your story while at the same time not just give away the ending. Normally I would use an example like ____ Dies in the End, but that's been done, and 'John Dies at the End' is a real thing and is actually quite entertaining. Now what about your whole series? If you're not writing a book series, you can just black out for a moment. Well...don't actually, because again, naming things is almost as hard as figuring out your first sentence so it's still something important.

The reason I have been mulling over this is because Smashwords has added in something called a Series Organizer (I actually think it's called something else, but the word 'series' is in there and 'organizer' still tells you what it does) which means you can put your books into one ore more series and give that series a title. This is giving your book a title pushed up to 1000% because now not only do you need to figure out another title, but it has to be appropriate for multiple books, not just one. Potentially more if you did what I did and put things into both a trilogy and an overarching series.

The process that needs to be done is just like if you were giving a title to a single book; make sure it's appropriate, doesn't give too much away, and is still eye-catching to your potential reader. Admittedly you can just name the series after the first book, I mean even Tolkien did that, as did JK Rowling, and lots of other people. Or you could just try to find something that fits all the books together in a neat little package. I could name a few people, but one of them is an author I'm not too fond of and it's too early for me to think of others. If you'd like to know who it is, feel free to ask me later and I'll happy go into a rant for you, but since that's not the purpose of this post I am going to politely avoid it.

The issue I was having is that in the first trilogy the first two books center around the same people, and the last one will be different ones, but it's still the same era (kinda) with the same characters, but a completely different premise/style. So the initial series titles I was coming up with would either have everything to do with the first two books and not so much the third, or more to do with the last one and only a hint with the first couple. After banging rocks together I figured it out, but it still felt frustrating. The overall series title was a bit more challenging, but because everything is moving to one last big conflict that did make the decision quicker in the long run.

Also, this is going to take longer than you think it should. Not like editing where I am still convinced there is a way to make that process go quicker (there isn't, I'm crazy), but naming something, especially something that is technically "done" is going to make you twitch. It took me two weeks to name my trilogy...and I just remembered I'm going to have to do that again when 'Daughter of the Shackled King' is ready to be in my head that shouldn't have taken that long. This isn't necessarily true, especially if life is throwing bowling balls at your head at the same time. A name is important, if you ask magicians the most important, and you need to make sure it fits all of the esthetic criteria before you settle on it. So even if you feel silly for taking weeks to name something, just remember that it'll be awesome in the end no matter what.

Thanks everyone for stopping by. If you have any questions, or if you have your own methods for naming stuff that I didn't mention that works for you really well, please put it in the comments section. Everyone has trouble naming stuff and I'd love to see everyone helping everyone else as much as possible. For now though, I will be back on Friday (unless cat decides to have another emergency) so please have a great rest of your week!

Monday, September 16, 2013

09/16/2013 Magnificent Monday!

Greetings everyone and welcome back. I'm somewhat awake and I hope the weekend treated you all well. I am currently trying not to think about the fact there is a spider wandering around my kitchen somewhere, and also not thinking about the fact spiders can move and it can be anywhere by now. As you can all tell, that's going quite well. One good thing that happened is that the cat is officially on the mend now. He's eating somewhat normally, even though he prefers the high-calorie stuff to his actual food, I'm just happy he's eating.

On Thursday last week I remembered that 'Daughter of the Shackled King' existed, which I felt a little bad about, mostly because I had completely forgotten about it sitting in my bag I carry with me everywhere I go. I felt really stupid. It was nice to pick it up again though and remember just how close to finishing the initial transcription process I am. I might be able to finish this week, but we'll see, since I'm not 100% on the number of pages left and the number I can get finished with each day seems to vary.

Smashwords has also added in a tool that will let me add my books to a series. This is super cool because it will help readers locate all the books together (when they are all available) but I have been mulling over a series title since I got the e-mail saying the thing existed. It's neat because I can set things up as individual trilogies and then add them into a larger series later, which is what I think I'll end up doing, the problem I'm running into is the names for everything. I have had multiple suggestions and I just haven't felt sold on them, even if they make perfect sense. This is almost as bad as coming up with a starting title for something, except instead of having to think about the events in one book, I have to think about the events in 3 (or 6, potentially 7 if you include everything) and that is where I am hitting this huge irritating wall.

I also did want to extend the reminder that if you have any suggestions about topics for Wednesday or books to review on Friday I am always willing to look things over. I would love for discussions to start and any comment that gets posted here makes me happy. If there's anything you want me to look at, please feel free to leave a message below or send me an e-mail. Even a messaga via Twitter is something I'll take a look at (as long as it's not spam) so please don't feel awkward or shy.

I appreciate everyone stopping by today. I will be back on Wednesday, again barring any sort of disaster. I hope the start of the week treats you all well and I will see you then!

Friday, September 13, 2013

09/13/2013 Fantastic Friday!

Hello everyone and welcome back on this Friday the 13th! Today is bound to be a good day. Cats are on the mend (as stubbornly as they can be, apparently), stories are making progress, and I am mostly awake. I apologize for the short-notice lack of post on Wednesday, but previously mentioned cat needed a follow-up appointment to see how he's doing, and it was scheduled right when I would have been posting. So I will make it up to you today!

I bring you 'Whither I Must Wander' by David Haywood Young today. It is a short story about a man retelling a moment from his teenage years. The day his high school sweetheart tried to get him to tell everything about a traumatic event in his past, and how he still worries about her even when they are grown up.

At first everything in this story seems like your normal boy being coaxed out of his shell story, and that is pretty much what it is. However the differences that put the story in a whole other world is the narrator, who is the boy, explaining the information he left out. The experience he had was something that he firmly believed no one, not even the girl he was in love with, would believe him. So he told her bits and pieces, and let her figure things out for himself out of the fear of what would happen.

I picked this story because it's basically backstory for the narrator, which I am a sucker for, as I'm sure you all know by now. Also, as someone who needed a little out-of-shell coaxing when I was little, I can relate on some level, so it was an interesting read. I was satisfied with the ending as well, and it makes you hope for the future, but also you can feel the apprehension in the narrator, which helps continue with the mood for the story as a whole.

'Whither I Must Wander' is available for free on Smashwords. I recommend picking it up and giving it a read, and also passing it onto whoever else you'd like. I'm sure someone can relate to being isolated and having someone they care about so much try to help them, even if they don't truly understand what you're going through.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. If all goes well I should be back on Monday with another post for you. In the meantime I am going to go to work and see if I can figure out a series title so I can add it into the new thing that Smashwords made. This is harder than a title and I am having a bit of a difficult time with it. Regardless though, I hope you all have a good day and a great weekend!

Monday, September 9, 2013

09/09/2013 Magnificent Monday!

Hello everyone and welcome back on this rather tired Monday. I hope the weekend helped you all along rather well. I had to work on Saturday, so it didn't seem like a real weekend to me, but I'll just push on through and sleep in this coming Saturday to make up for it. Right now I am still watching my cat and his road to recovery, which is going a bit more steadily than it has been. Right now he's just being pouty because I ran out of the high-calorie food he likes so much, but he's cuddly and wants attention again, so I will take every step forward I can get.

I still need to get 'Rending the Seal' printed out and thrown at my beta-reader. I am a little nervous about doing it, but I know it needs to be done. It's always weird giving someone something that I know has mistakes and I know they are going to tell me about all of them, but it must be done or I will never get things finished. It is still awkward though.

I have also finished reading through what I have so far of 'Through the Broken Mirror' in an attempt to remind my creative juices how that story is supposed to go. I somehow managed not to just scrap the whole thing, which is good, though I can honestly say I'm not looking forward to editing it. Not that I look forward to editing anything, but it's still a relatively new story and I haven't become satisfied with it yet. Likely because it's not finished.

In my spare time, what little I have, I have been also getting ready for the craft fair coming up in November. Now like most things I do when I am preparing is I prepare too early, and you may think that again, but my logic right now is that once it hits November 1st I won't have any time to do anything for the fair, so I need to get everything done/ready long beforehand so there's no worry. Last time I sold those Arcana cards, which I am doing again, however I will also be adding prints of different work, and also throwing some jewelry into the mix as well. I have 100% no idea how much to charge for anything, and for all I know nothing will sell, but it's the attempt that counts. I have bracelets, earrings, and necklaces, so once the fair is done I may be throwing the other stuff out on ebay or something. I'll figure it out and put up a link if I do for anyone that's interested.

Right now my time is spent divided and tired. I know I'll figure everything out before the fair, and I'm also hoping that I will be able to give the patrons some nice bits of customer service that day as well (it'll be November 15th, so I will likely be in the dead-set middle of NaNoWriMo at that point, so...yay). I'll let everyone know how it goes and luckily there is lots of time before that happens.

Thanks for everyone coming back today. I will return on Wednesday with things that are actually important and not just tired ramblings of someone playing with hobbies and cats. For now I hope you all have a nice start to your week, I will work on that 'waking up' thing kids are doing nowadays. Have a great few days!

Friday, September 6, 2013

09/06/2013 Fantastic Friday!

Hello everyone and welcome back! I was a little worried that I might not have time today, so I wake up just a little bit earlier than normal to discover that my cat had started caring about his appearance again. I couldn't be sure if the missing high-calorie food had been eaten by him until I put a little bit more on his plate. I know they say that pets are like their owners sometimes, but my cats are strange little mirrors and I really should have figured out that heartburn medicine would make him feel better. Anyway, I could talk about how happy I am my cat is eating for hours, let's get to why you're actually here.

Today I bring you 'Slipped' by Edward Lange. Imagine one day you were walking down the street and gravity just stopped working for you. That is the idea behind this story, and while the message it sends seems kind of dire, it is also something important to keep in mind as you go by your day to day lives.

This story is about regret and not in the bad idea at the bar at 1am kind of regret. It's about taking things for granted and how you should cherish every moment that you have because it could easily just disappear the next. Now it may seem like a bleak topic, but the way the author presents it makes things seem like the character is discovering these feelings while also being around something awe inspiring, which helps not to make you completely depressed in the morning.

One of the reasons that I picked this is because of the strong message that it sends. The other is because when I was in 1st grade and pretty much whenever onward, I read up on everything there was available to me on the solar system, and as the character in this story went by each of the outer planets it made me remember that. Especially Saturn, that thing is awesome.

'Slipped' is available for free on Smashwords, and is a nice quick read for a break or lunch. I do recommend checking it out and also let the author know how you feel either by leaving him a review or hopping over his blog, linked at the end of the story. Remember we're all in this together!

Thanks everyone for stopping by, though I am tired, I am going to make it through my work-day hopeful that when I come home my cat will have a little more energy in his face. I know it's going to be a slow-ish recovery process, but quite frankly eating on his own is a really big step right now. Not to mention he was SUPER done with me doing it. I hope you all have a great weekend though, I'll see you all Monday!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

09/04/2013 Writing Wednesday!

Hello everyone and welcome to September! It's my favorite month, for selfish reasons (yay birthdays are fun!) and also because that's when the weather actually starts becoming less of an oven and more of a slightly cooler plus some random weather events thrown in. The only real downsides are that I still have to go to work, and work's AC gets confused so it's just cold all the time. I'll persevere though, I mean...I pretty much have to.

My round of editing completed on the 30th as I had hoped, now I just need to get everything reprinted so I can throw the pile of I hope not-crap at my mother. Now I know I mentioned before now she isn't my target audience, and that's true, however she read 'The Light Rises' for me and I figured having her stay with that era of the series would be fine, not to mention I just need someone who hasn't heard/seen anything about this story to look at it. Currently she is under strict guidelines to be done by December (she's...kind of a slow reader sometimes) which will give me plenty of time to rest up and prepare for November the rest of the way.

Right now my preparation involves opening the file for 'Through the Broken Mirror' and reading it. I remember where I was, but I want to make sure that when things get rolling again that the transition is seamless. I wanted to bring that up today because I'm sure there are several of you out there that will be in a similar position soon, and I want to stress that no matter how hard it is, you need to reread what you have so far after you've taken a break on something.

Think about it, you haven't look at something in potentially months, and your plan is to jump back in and start writing for it again. As much credit as you give yourself you need to be realistic and accept you aren't going to remember each and every detail or piece of minor foreshadowing that you've put into your story. Main things, yes I would expect you to remember, and specific plot points and/or events probably don't need refreshers, but it's the details that do. For me, stylistically 'Through the Broken Mirror' is very different than the other two, mostly because rather than a big open world that's being focused on, it's the world of one person and how it's being changed by the events. I want to make sure that I keep that same feeling as the story continues. For you it could be the way you're handling dialogue, or character descriptions or maybe you were building up to your next big action sequence and you want to remember exactly how you wanted it to go.

This process is also very hard to do. You will be fighting your brain the entire time you do it, mostly because as you read through, your brain is going to convince you that you already know everything about this part and can skip it. Maybe it's true, and even I'll raise my hand and admit that I'm guilt of jumping ahead. The thing is there are going to be places you need to fight your brain and force yourself to read more thoroughly. The way I do is this by convincing myself that I'm looking for errors, which as we all know is something you need to focus on. Doing this will make sure that you are paying attention and are able to grab back onto the emotions you were trying to show in your story.

I hope this was at least a little helpful. I'm looking forward to reading and getting the creative process started back in my head while I gear up for November. I need to start slowing things down a bit, which is going to be hard for me, but I'm sure I'll get some sort of sign that I'm doing the right thing. Remember, November is a big month, and the amount of writing we're going to be doing is ridiculous and while finishing is a matter of pride, if you need to slow down, take a break, or stop entirely due to pain, please suck it up and do what's best for you. I will likely be stressing things in the weeks preparing for it, so get ready for me to be naggy.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. I am looking forward to a day off tomorrow. I know that I just had a 3-day weekend, but dealing with a sick cat made it go by all too quickly. If anyone has any suggestions on how to make a cat eat on his own, that would be great because it would cause a lot less worry while I'm at work. Anyway, I'll be back on Friday, so I hope everyone has a great rest of their week!