Monday, June 30, 2014

06/30/2014 Magnificent Monday!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

06/25/2014 Writing Wednesday!

Hello everyone and welcome back! I hope this week has been nice to you so far. I am sitting there, wondering where the rest of my month went. Also where my kitten's collar is...Osiris came up to me this morning quite happy I couldn't hear this evil little steps. I am still looking at print options for my books. I have realized there is going to be a cost to this, since I'm going the self-published route, which isn't fun, but I'll figure out a way to make it work...well, depending on the cost.

We are almost to July though, which means it's time for our annual early bird post about NaNoWriMo. I know it always seems way too early to start thinking about it, but the way I see it, with how fast the months seem to go by it's better to be prepared now than to get to October 31st and have no idea what you're doing.

Besides all you're doing is starting the thinking process now. I'm not saying you have to get the planning done in a week because that would be crazy. It's June, you have until November, that would be crazy. My goal is to make sure as many people are ready as possible so that we can all participate together in order to achieve those 50,000 words in that ridiculous month. The other, more personal reason I'm bringing it up now is that it has recently come to my attention just how crazy that month is going to be and I'd like to get some form of preparing out of the way early.

The first thing you need to do is just figure out what you're going to be writing about in November. Of course between now and then things can change, but getting your brain gears turning is what's important now. As you work on settling your decision, think about the overarching plot and main protagonist. Side characters will come next, but if you know who your good guy is and what they're going to be doing that makes things a lot easier.

If you're continuing a series like I will be, think about what is going to happen in that branch of the story. Consider how much time has passed not just since the last one, but also since the first story. This will be a good way to help you figure out exactly how much your characters have grown and evolved throughout it. Also think about which part of the series you're writing; is it one of the middle books, the penultimate one, or the last? What has brought you to that point and where do you plan on going? These are important questions you need to ask yourself when you start your preparations so that when you start on November 1st you can jump in without any hesitation.

Also, outside of writing think about your personal schedule up until that point. Remember to tell your loved ones that you are going to be MIA for a while, and if you explain what you are doing they will likely understand and think it's super cool! Your schedule though isn't just what you're going to be doing in November, but also leading up to it. For example, I take October to do almost nothing productive, at least writing wise (I still need a job) in order to make sure that I don't accidentally take it too far during NaNoWriMo. Usually I find a video game or something that I've wanted to play for a while and obsess over that for the month. It gives me time to relax while getting the final mental preparations in order.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. Of course we'll be talking more about NaNoWriMo and the preparations you can take the closer we get to the month. For now just enjoy the rest of your week, as we are getting closer to the end of the month. Have fun, and remember you can pick up 'Rending the Seal' and 'The Light Rises' on Smashwords whenever you want!

Monday, June 23, 2014

6/23/2014 Magnificent Monday!

Hello everyone and welcome back. I hope the weekend was nice to you all. Mine was not nearly long enough and right now I am wishing for at least three more hours of sleep, but I suppose going to work will have to happen instead. Sometimes responsibilities are lame.

The memorial/wake went very well. The ceremony was actually quite beautiful, and the 21 gun salute was the loudest thing I have ever heard. We then all went to a local Elks Club for the wake and for a pot luck where myself and two of my cousins spoke, and we all made it through our little speeches. My little cousin, which was his great-grand daughter, had never spoken in front of people before and had just turned 13, we were all really proud of her. Some of the stories my grandfather's bowling buddies shared were hilarious, and even his old bartender came to the wake. It was wonderful to see just how many people his life touched. My grandmother was very thankful for all the kind words, even if she said she never needed to know about some of the stories of him being the crazy driver. Even members of my family who are being not as agreeable right now showed up and were completely civil. All in all we considered it a success.

Right now I am looking forward to what the rest of the year is going to bring for me. Currently, November is looking like it's going to be a special kind of hell, which...hooray. Along with National Writing Month, they are also looking at having the 21st be the day of the Winter Craft fair, and that is also the day Pokemon: Alpha Sapphire comes out (which I totally pre-ordered), and then four days later Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth is released in the US. I know Thanksgiving is in there...somewhere...I just don't have the slightest idea where. Currently I am thinking if I can just get my word quota done by the 21st I should be fine...just trying to work out the logistics with the craft fair is going to be a challenge, which is why I'm trying to figure it out now.

I am also looking at options for getting my books in print. I have been talking with a local print on demand company and heard back from them this morning about information they would need in order to get me a solid quote. I hope it works out, since I would really like to have them available in a physical format. This printer would distribute to Amazon for me, which while I am still not happy with them, means I wouldn't go through them directly. I'll let you all know how that goes through.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Last week was really hard, and I'm hoping this week will be better. As a reminder, please, if you are looking at this via the Facebook pages for my books, please click the Like button. I have learned that if you don't, after a while Facebook decides you are no longer interested and they will stop showing people my pages. Last Wednesday it said my links reached 0 people. It was really hard. So please help out. For now though, I hope you all have a great rest of your week!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

06/18/2014 Writing Wednesday!

Hello everyone and welcome back. I hope the week is treating you well. I haven't decided how it's treating me yet, but I suppose tomorrow will be the judge of that. Luckily I will have Friday to recover before going back to work for a little bit on Saturday, so that will be nice. Doesn't mean I have to enjoy it. I did learn of a new Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor though...I want to eat it.

I wanted to take a couple steps back and look at something we've touched bases on before, mostly because of just how important it is to remember. When you're doing your first draft you are thinking, somewhere in the back of your mind, that there will be things you need to fix, but there is likely something that is fighting against logic that is saying there aren't many. This is what we are going to look at today, because frankly, it's important to remember that your first draft is going to be terrible.

I'm not saying terrible story-wise, mostly because that would make me an absolute jerk, and hopefully by the time you're actually writing out your story you've come up with a story that you enjoy to the point that you have written it out fully and still enjoy it when you're done with it. I'm talking when you go back over it and start finding things like grammar issues, spelling, or words that really shouldn't be there. You are going to find a lot of them, and it's important not to feel surprised by this. When you're writing out your first draft there is so much going on that your thoughts and your writing method are crossing over each other, this is what causes things like typos and misplaced words. It's just something that happens, and also why you don't necessarily catch them when they happen. You are so focused on getting everything out right then that your brain makes you see everything as being correct so you keep going. Now this isn't to say there won't be some typos you catch are you write them, but I'm talking about the ones that are missed, and they will be there.

One of the things I ran into, especially with 'Daughter of the Shackled King' and most recently with 'Feathers of the Dead' is that because they were handwritten first, I became impatient with some details while writing, so there are a lot of places where more exposition is needed that I just haven't put in there yet. Not to say this doesn't happen with stories that are subjected to one medium, but for me it is far more apparent with those two because they were/are in the notebooks first. I wanted to get to a specific scene really badly, and writing out all those pesky specifics took a lot of time, and also my hand was cramping up. These are things that are going to be added in during the editing process, and will also add a lot to the final word count to the story. The other thing is that moving something from a notebook to a computer there is a lot of risk for even more typos than normal because you are constantly having to switch your focus between the original material and then typing it out.

It's important to remember that when you start your editing process and you start to see just how much needs to be fixed or adjusted that you don't get discouraged. It's the first draft for a reason, and while your brain might have wanted everything to be 100% perfect, that just isn't going to happen on the first go; especially with something that is potentially over 100 pages of text. There are so many people that start editing and get frustrated to the point where they just stop because they can't handle having to fix things they don't feel should be there and it's just so sad. Those stories never get finished because they can't get passed the fact that editing is part of the writing process too, it just might not be the most fun part. You can't let yourself get caught in that cycle too, so just remember that each time you fix a word you are one step closer to making your story a highly polished piece of gold and soon the world will get to see it.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. I will see you all back on Monday. For now, I hope the rest of the week is nice to you and please check out 'Rending the Seal' available on Smashwords, and please tell people that you didn't get it on Amazon, that would be great because they are seriously being jerks right now.

Monday, June 16, 2014

06/16/2014 Magnificent Monday!

Greetings everyone and welcome back. I hope the weekend was nice to all of you. Mine was fun, though it was partially spent trying to mentally prepare myself for this week, so, that was great I suppose. I have what I am going to say at the memorial written, I just need to hear back from my mother to know if it is 100% ok or not. I still think I'm crazy for volunteering, and I probably am, but I wanted to do something.

My efforts to move 'Feathers of the Dead' into a digital format continues. I am almost to the 1/3 point, which is a nice little milestone to be at. There was a point when my hands were starting to hurt and I realized it was because I had been so focused on editing for so long that I hadn't done enough actual writing to keep them "in shape" so that was a surprise. That was only for about a day when I hit the 10,000 word mark, but it was a little surprising. I knew to expect my tendonitis to act up, I just didn't anticipate it being so soon into the process.

I'm also still going back and forth about whether or not to use my NaNoWriMo free print out of my book. On one hand, it would be super cool to have a print edition out (and someone in my family would actually read it, but that's another gripe that's not for here) and it would let me sell a printed version for people. On the other hand, it would be using Amazon's printed publishing service and I am super irritated with them right now. Not because of anything they did to me personally (though opening those nice shipping fiasco wounds helps) but because of the ongoing dispute with Hachette, WB Entertainment and several other companies about their pricing model. I'm mostly upset about Hachette because of how it effects new and independent authors that use them as a printed publisher because this is hurting them so badly it's just painful to watch. Luckily one of their biggest advocates is one of my personal heroes, Stephen Colbert, who is also having his books (which are amazing) stifled by Amazon. I would love to be able to actually hold a copy of my book in my hands, but I also want to stand by Hachette and the other companies Amazon has decided they want to pick on by not using their services. Heck, I may just see what I need to do in order to go through Hachette, but I do urge you all to look into what Amazon is doing because it is awful and just so sad to watch. All it does it hurt the people who have made such wonderful products and the customers trying to get them. Please shop elsewhere until (and potentially after) this has all settled.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today! I shall be back on Wednesday with an update and hopefully some good advice. If you have a topic you'd like to see, please let me know, it would be great and I'll do my best to bring it up for everyone to read! Have a great week!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

06/11/2014 Writing Wednesday!

Greetings everyone and welcome back. I hope the week has been treating you well. I feel pretty tired, but I did a lot of running around yesterday after work so that's probably why. I'm one of the people in charge of putting together a basket that's being raffled off this Friday at work, and the raffle proceeds are being donated to the Relay for Life, which is for cancer research. There have been a few hiccups along the way, but mostly due to a lack of participation from people in the department (or just everyone buying candy...we have way too much) or a dispute over what movies are ok to put into the basket. I'm sure it'll turn out great though, so I'm looking forward to decorating it today.

I mulled over several different topics for today and decided to look at things from an emotional aspect for your characters. Showing the impact something has on them is incredibly important, because it makes them more believable as an individual and also helps the reader become more invested in their story. If you have a story where there is nothing but death and destruction all around and your main character doesn't have some kind of reaction to it (unless that is specifically pointed out why they don't) it is going to break the suspension of disbelief and make the story feel boring for the reader. There needs to be that emotional connection there in order to drive them forward.

This is true for any character or character type. Take Superman for example, nigh-invunerable, super smart, can fly, laser eyes, x-ray vision, super strength, probably some other stuff the older comics made up that were called 'Super-Something-Stupid', if you put that all into one basket and to top it all off he's an alien, it makes it really hard to relate to someone like that. However, make it so he's raised by the nicest couple in the world in Smallville, KS, given good moral values, and even the inclination to still get a normal job that he should be struggling with because seriously...newspaper journalist? When he could get all the money he wants by punching his way into bank vaults and flying away. He cares about people, he cares about his friends, he cares about Lois Lane, and you can tell there is fear in him if/when she's put into danger. That is how you start relating to that character because in those times he knows he can rip the arm of that guy and then snap him in two like a tiny twig, but he doesn't because that would be awful (and messy) and that restricts him, and that makes it so you as a reader don't know what he's going to do next.

Now I'm not saying to make your story a giant bubble of emotion and exposition, because that would get ridiculous and probably a little boring. I'm just saying you need to make sure that whatever happens in the story, to make sure that your character's reactions are genuine. Is someone having a crap day, and did that car accident push them right over the edge so they say something they super regret? Great, put that angst in there and have them mull over it a bit until they either get over it or apologize. Did they lose a loved one and now they have need to deal with that as well as a ton of responsibilities that only they can do that aren't exactly waiting for them to finish the grieving process? There is going to be a lot of flip-flopping there, and a don't forget to reference the stages of loss (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) because they are going to be experiencing that at the exact same time as everything else, and those stages are not linear and you can go back to a previous one. Does the character feel overwhelmed or extremely out of place? Think of the anxiety and stress that would cause a person and let them experience that too.

My point is remember the character you put together when you thought of the story and don't forget to make them a person. There is a reason why I don't understand the logic behind some executives decision to make a certain book series about a cardboard cutout of a person falling in love in a guy who who obviously has some domestic violence issues into a multi-million dollar movie franchise. (It must be the 'multi-million dollar' part.) If you have personal experience dealing with something you are putting your character through, it's fine to emote a little because that will make the story seem more real to the reader. There is nothing wrong with that. In the end it'll make the story far more enjoyable and you will be satisfied you did it.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope the rest of the week is good for all of you. I have no idea what next week holds for me. Last I heard the memorial service was going to be Thursday, which I have off since I work next Saturday, but I don't know what my brain is going to decide to do, especially since I offered to speak. With a portion of the family being ridiculous and no longer knowing if we are having a eulogy my brain feels fried. I will do my best to get the posts up, though I may be stressing over what I need to write for Thursday and forget. I will do everything I can though! Have a great weekend in the meantime, remember Sunday is Father's Day, so hug your dad!

Monday, June 9, 2014

06/9/2014 Magnificent Monday!

Greetings all and welcome back! I'm glad you could all make it. Hopefully the weekend was nice to you. Mine was full of plan-juggling, which is my least favorite kind of juggling (and yet the only kind I can actually do) but other than that it was nice. It was both my father and my friend's birthday, so that meant good time were had by all.

Planning is still happening for my grandfather's memorial, which from the outside seems like a chaotic pile of crazy. I'm sure it's a bit better than that, but it's what it looks like. They are hoping for next week though, so we'll see how that goes. I may end up speaking at it, which is absolutely terrifying since I don't remember the last time I spoke in front of a bunch of people, but if I can manage to put something together and make it through that's good for me.

Moving 'Feathers of the Dead' into my computer continues. I have about 36-something pages through the notebook, which puts me at 20 pages in the Word document. I know that gap is going to just keep getting wider, seeing as it was a 10-page gap previously, but we'll see where it ends up. If I can get the story to be over 100 pages before first-draft edits/additions I'll be happy. There is a lot of work this story needs, so we'll see where it ends up.

It's really interesting coming back to this story, since it is a bit of a refresher for what I have planned for later. Also though because a good portion of it is about them dealing with the death of one of the characters, it is hitting a lot closer to home than it had when I initially wrote it. Overall I think it'll help make the characters reactions be a bit more real, but writing out the death scene was a lot harder than it was the first time. I've also gotten a lot more information about some of the lesser deities that show up toward the end, so I think that will be a fun part once I get there.

All in all I think things are going about as well as could be expected. I am working on getting back into a normal routine, which means going back on my low-calorie diet, which is killing me because right now all I want is cake. All of it, specifically chocolate.

Anyway, I'll let you all get to your normal day! I'll see you back here on Wednesday! For now have a good start to your week and let me know if there is a specific topic you'd like for me to cover. Also, if you know someone who might be interested or thinks the blog might help them out, tell them to stop on by. Facebook has started making it so if you don't hit Like on business page's posts after a while, they assume you are no longer interested and stop showing them to people. I got wind of this, I believe, a little too late, and now the pages for my books are being shown to about 3 - 6 people a week. To give an example of how bad that is, 'The Light Rises' has almost 200 likes and it only shows my posts to an average of 4 of them a week. So please tell your friends to stop by! It sounds fun!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

06/04/2014 Writing Wednesday

Greetings everyone and welcome back! I hope this week is treating you well. Mine has been a week so far, and other than the realization that unlike most years I don't have a two week gap between my father and friend's birthdays and father's day, it's going alright. My work is doing a lot of planning, as we are a sponsor for an event called Relay for Life, which supports cancer research, survivors, and honors those who have lost to it, and the talking about it all yesterday was both difficult and inspirational, so I think things are moving forward. At this point I am looking forward to the weekend, especially since there's cake involved, and man I want cake!

Getting back into the swing of things is what I have been trying to focus on though, so I wanted to talk about something completely different today. We are going back to the basics for the post, to the start of any project, right at the very beginning, well maybe not the instant beginning, but close enough! I'm talking about outlines!

Now I will be the first to admit that not everyone uses them, at least not to the same extent. They are helpful on a lot of different levels, and to some people they are just a bunch of squiggles on a piece of paper, but to others they are the guidelines to their entire world. Personally I have found something similar to an outline to be helpful for individual characters, especially ones that tend to have longer lifespans, because it will help give you a visual of what they'd experienced and where they would have been doing specific events. For example, in 'Daughter of the Shackled King' and the books to follow it, there is a character that is over 175 years old, therefore he would have been alive for the events of 'Rending the Seal' and it's group of books. Now he didn't necessarily get involved (he didn't) in the events, but the events did have a trickle effect on his life, so I need to figure that out.

Another point where they come in handy are situations where you have some kind of political ridiculousness going on. Mostly because that insinuates there is so much happening in the background that you need to keep track of, an outline is going to be your helpful little tool for letting you know exactly where things are going. Have a sneaky character that is doing a lot of shady deals no one knows about until it makes it look like the vice president has been laundering money from the secretary of treasury (I have no idea how any of this works, obviously), an outline will tell you who that guy has been talking to in order to make that happen.

Also, if you just have a metric ton of people to keep track of. There are a lot of books/series that pile on the characters that all do their own things and even as a reader it's hard to know who/where/what all these people are doing. As an author it's even harder and an outline will help keep all that craziness in order. As much as I find him to be a jerk, I assume George RR Martin's wall looks like one of those conspiracy-murder-solver-walls with pictures of people with their faces crossed out and strings connecting them because of the number of people that are in that stupid series and/or that have died. That's his outline, yours can look like a sane person's though.

One other use that my friends and I have found, and this was discovered mostly by accident; time travel. If you have decided that your primary plot device/tool is going to be time travel, you need an outline. This is not a request or a suggestion, it is a requirement. Time travel makes so many things go backwards and get confusing that the only real way to know for 100% what is right and what has been changed and now, is to make an outline, especially if you are using a type that will create new timelines once the past has been changed. I am telling you this for your own good, venture where I will not, because time travel makes my head hurt.

I wish you all luck in your endeavors. I hope the refresher on outlines was helpful for today! I will be back on Monday so I hope you all have a great rest of your week.

Monday, June 2, 2014

06/02/2014 Magnificent Monday

Hello everyone and welcome back. Things took a bit longer to come back than I expected, and I appreciate your patience during my momentary hiatus. I was dealing with a lot of stuff last week that I hadn't planned for and I really needed the time to focus on that rather than doing much anything else, so I am thankful for being given that chance.

Overall the vacation itself was good (things got bad this last Tuesday, which technically wasn't part of the vacation). I got to relax, got a kitten named Osiris who is working on fitting in rather well. He follows Thoth around and mimics him, which I've never seen a kitten do, and will bring him toys when he wants him to play. Thoth is still a little unsure of him at times, but after only two weeks they are doing very well. Osiris just needs to learn "sharing" and what "grooming breaks" are and they should be ok. If you haven't guessed, I tend to like themes for any pet names I get to pick myself. If I had stayed at my parent's home longer, and we had gotten more cats, they would have followed the Norse pantheon. My compromise for cats at our place (since that guy I live with is actually allergic to them) is that I name them after the Egyptian one. This feeds both my like of cats, and mythology, so I'm happy.

I also got to go to the Lindsey Stirling concert on the 21st, and that was super cool! I got to hear all of my favorite songs, and I'm still primarily listening to those albums pretty much every day. I took videos of my favorites too. I am really happy her fame is taking off, she is really talented and super deserves it. That whole experience was fun, and there were points when I was awestruck by hearing something that I had listened to so many times to see it done live.

There was also the new X-Men movie seeing, which fixes everything (there are still some plot holes, but who cares) so you should all go see it. I won't say anything else, since well, spoilers and all, and I'm not a jerk, but yeah, fixed everything.

The reason for the extended hiatus was that on Tuesday I lost one of my grandfathers. He had been sick for a long time, and two days before it had been brought to my attention how bad it had gotten. His loss was very sudden though as we were all thinking we had months left with him, not less than 24 hours, so my family is still dealing with the shock. I am dealing with the grief the only way I know how, and I don't know if it's healthy or normal, but it's the only thing I can do along with helping where I can. Especially with my father (and my friend's) birthday this week and father's day following so close behind, all we can do is rally together. Again your understanding is appreciated during my extended break.

This week though, moving 'Feathers of the Dead' to the computer continues (slowly, god so slowly) while Jason reads 'Through the Broken Mirror'. I'm still working out a schedule as to what to do when he gets it back to me. I think it'll all depend on actually how far I've gotten. I might dedicate June to 'Feathers of the Dead' just to get as much done as possible, but we'll see. I am really happy to be making so much progress though.

I will be back on Wednesday though, so I look forward to getting back into the swing of things. If you have a topic you'd like me to cover let me know! I'll do what I can do accommodate! Until then have a great start to your week!