Category Archives: Inspiration

Inspirational stuff and things that get my writer-motor running

I have a cover!

Siren Snow_draft_08small

A half french Canadian, half lousiana cajun werewolf?

This is totally random, but I love how these things write themselves.

I’m in a point in my book were some new (late) characters are being introduced / set up for a later book, and the werewolf my witch is consulting with just happened to randomly write himself very french and good ol’ boy -ish. How fun would it be to have a cajun werewolf in Canada? Some sort of weird french hybrid culture thing going on there.

In hindsight, I’ll probably read over this later and decide it’s the stupidest thing ever, but for the moment it’s amusing. I need to learn French or something.

Writing is fun.

3 Things I Learned From My Writing Field Trip

So, I recently made a trip to Barnes & Noble’s, with the idea for ‘research’ in mind. I read somewhere that you should study and read as much as you can of your chosen genre, to get an idea / sense of the trends in your area of writing, and your target audience. Basically, I wanted to feel out my market (with my market being cautiously aimed in the urban fantasy / teen fantasy / YA. I was mostly interested in what the structure for book blurbs were like, as I’d had some trouble constructing my own a few days ago. (The wreckage of said attempt is viewable on my ‘Redhaven Saga’ page.)

Anyway, I learned some stuff, and I thought I would share. Perhaps some of you have noticed the same things? Something contradictory?

3 Things I Learned From My Writing Field Trip

1. It’s all about the same girl – And it’s always a girl courted by some mysterious boy (or boys). This is kind of a no brainer, but it still struck me as noticeable, because every cover had a pretty girl on it and  thesynopsis started almost the same. Girl X does stuff, and gets noticed by Boy X, and crazy romance-y stuff happens. I kind of wanted to read a book where the girl was in charge, but the whole ‘being pursued’ thing was still pretty hot. My book will probably have a bit of this same flavor, romance-wise, but it still seems very… cookie-cutter from the selection I saw. Maybe it’s time to change the formula.

2.  But it’s not all about the vampires anymore – This relieves me. Apparently mermaids are on the rise, from what I can tell. Other supernatural races, besides vampires, are growing too. There’s the shifter sub genre (which isn’t just wolves anymore), and even stuff like Valkyries and Witches are up and coming. This makes me feel better. Vampires are still king right now, but it’s looking less and less so.

This really does it no justice at all – the inside of it is intricate and beautiful and glossy.

3. And that thing about cover design is actually true – I’ve read that cover design is absolutely HUGE. Probably the next important thing under the content of your book itself. And this is absolutely true. As a reader and  a shopper, I can tell you that the books I picked up and read were the ones with the gorgeous covers, and it’s not even completely just the look of the cover, its the feel too. Some of them have beleveled titles, or intricate gold filigree, or are just detailed inside and out. The cover of the book Blessed by Tanya Hurley is probably the single most beautiful physical cover I’ve ever seen. The girl on the front isn’t some average looking brunette with smuldering eyes – she’s pale, and gaunt and almost so beautiful, she’s creepy. The inside of the jacket is even intricate and features a kind of alternate cover face. It was freaking awesome. I almost bought the book for the cover alone. (I still might). My point is, you kinda really do judge a book by it’s cover. Its an enormously important factor, and I’ve tested the notion.

I also happened to find a signed copy of Amanda Hocking’s Wake, which admittedly made me squee a little. Plus, the cover was holographic and pretty. I hope someday I can pick up my own book like that. One day, someday… Motivation!

6 Things I’ve Learned as a New Writer

At the beginning….

 

I haven’t written in large volume, consistently, for a very long time. I’m just starting out, actually. I’m writing my very first novel. But like with some new adventures, there are things you learn right off the bat; things that become glaringly obvious in the first few steps. Don’t stick your arm out of the shark cage. Fasten your seat belt on a roller coaster. (Seriously). Make sure the car is in reverse if you want to go in reverse. (Don’t ask.)

I’ve turned a new chapter in my life, and I’m pursuing a writing career. Whether I make it or not is still up in the hair, but with a lot of hard work, I think I’ll get there. I’ve only been at this for a short while, but I’ve already learned some key things.

 

Take it with a grain of salt, as this is just my personal experience, but here’s 6 things I’ve learned as a new writer:

 

  1. Outlines change. – Even if you don’t outline, things change. Even if your plot is ironed out in your head, it’ll probably still change. That cool plot you thought you had? It will totally shift and change and become practically unrecognizable toward the end. New ideas will sprout as you write, and it’s okay to change stuff. Keep a record, and/or write down your ideas. Play mix and match. Find out what you like and what you don’t. Everything can be changed. (Well, most things can be changed… the important stuff kinda has to stick.) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve changed chapter 7. If you’ve spoken with me in the last week or so, you know how much I hate chapter 7.
  2. Listen to your characters – They, at some point, WILL speak to you. It may sound a little creepy, but they will – you’re basically playing god with people you’ve created. You know their inner most thoughts and motivations, and you hold their destiny in your hands. Listen to them! If someone or something seems off, re-write it. Get in their heads, and theirs shoes, and let them write themselves. Do some character exploration if you have to.
  3. There will be days you’ll hate writing – I call these ‘burn out days’. It’s okay to take a break once in a while, but be careful that a break doesn’t become infinite. Clear your mind if you’re getting frustrated, but always come back and write some more. Some days that’ll be really hard. Some days it won’t. Keep going, no matter what.
  4. If you’re doing this as a potential career, treat it as such – Set a schedule; you have no idea how much they’ve helped me. Go ‘to work’ at no later than x time, and schedule breaks and a lunch. Decide when you want to be done for the day. If you don’t get a whole day off very often, give yourself ‘split shifts’. Basically, carve out a set time to write, and stick to it. If you don’t ‘show up for work’, your book will ‘fire you’. For me, I usually get up sometime between when my fiance leaves for work (6:30am) and when it’s too late for me and I feel guilty about sleeping in (9am). It’s not a concrete wake up time, but I ‘get into work’ no later than 9:30 no matter what. I write until noon, and then break for lunch. Then I write until 4pm when my fiance comes home. Sometimes I write into the evening, but I like to spend time with my loved ones, so I don’t feel quite that guilty. Just do whatever works best for you, but again, keep going, no matter what.
  5. Having a writing buddy is INVALUABLE – This is just my opinion, and it may not work for everyone, but I absolutely ADORE having someone to pick at ideas with. My best friend Maegan is also writing her book, and we spend more time than we probably should on Skype, tossing ideas back and forth, and helping each other when we get stuck. My fiance Kevin is also a valuable ally as I tackle the monster named ‘Novelzilla’. He’s my muse. Find your muse! Find someone who’s creative brain inspires you. Check out the author’s section of Kindleboards. Maybe a professor? If you’re stuck on something pitch some ideas to them as a reader; see how they react. One or two extra brains are nifty.
  6. Never, EVER even THINK about giving up – At some point, and I can attest to this, you’ll have the ‘big moment of self doubt’. You might have more than one. You’re entire process might be riddled with them. You might even go straight to publishing with one. These moments of doubt are basically just moments when you beat yourself up. You think your writing isn’t good enough, or your idea is stupid and no one would ever want to read it. You think, well, if I suck so bad, maybe I should just quit. DON’T. DON’T. NO. STOP IT. DON’T MAKE ME SMACK YOU. If you love writing, even on the worst days, and it’s all you want to do, persue that bitch! Write like there’s no tomorrow! Write like you mean it! Write because it’s inside you and you want to get it out! Don’t stop writing, if it’s something you genuinely enjoy. You have the next big thing in there somewhere. You won’t know until you try.

 

This might change in the future. I’m still at the beginning of things. I’m still new! This is just what I’ve taken away from my experiences so far. This is whats working for me. I’m not claiming to have all the answers and suddenly be some writing guru, but this is just what I know so far.

 

Take with a grain of salt. Hopefully, that grain of salt is on a margarita glass sitting on a coaster next to your laptop as you clickity clack away on your book. That’s where mine was, anyway.

Repost – Ten Tips for People Thinking about Writing a Book

I found this post, and I liked it so much, I decided to repost it. I don’t own anything, and the original page can be found here. Original article posted by Guy Kawasaki.

If you checked the list of what people want to do before they die, you’d see that many want to write a book. This is a good thing because the more people who write books, the more enlightened the world will become. It just so happens that technology has made the process of writing a book easier than ever. Still “easier than ever” is not the same thing as “easy.” I wrote a book called APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur to help you write your book. Here are my top ten tips.

1. Write for the right reasons. Writing is an art form, and a book is an end in itself—don’t write a book solely because it is a means to an end. The good reasons to write a book are the desire to enrich people’s lives, to further a cause, to achieve an intellectual milestone, and to get something off your chest. The bad reasons are to make a lot of money or to increase your consulting or speaking business.

2. Use Microsoft Word. It’s true that Word is a bazooka, and you may only need a fly swatter, but everyone in the industry uses a bazooka. You can save a few bucks and avoid the Microsoft hegemony when you’re in the writing stage, but when lots of people (editors, reviewers, designers and online resellers) need to use your file, you may regret using another word processor. Two fine points: first, save your Word documents in the .doc, not .docx, format so that people using old versions of Word can open your file. Second, format your entire book using Word’s “styles.” This will make layout and conversion much easier down the road.

3. Write every day. I’ve written twelve books. If you had asked me if I thought I would write twelve books back when I started, I would have told you that you were hallucinating. How did I do it? Writing a little bit every day. Don’t ask yourself, “How will I ever get to 60,000 words?” because it will make the task seem insurmountable. Just write something every day—even if it’s only a paragraph. One day you’ll wake up, and your book will be done. If you wait for that perfect time when the kids are asleep and making straight As, you may never start (much less finish).

4. Build your marketing platform. The hardest part of making a book successful may be marketing (not writing) it. Unless you have a great publicist with a powerful publisher, you are the “vice president of marketing” of your book. It takes a year to build a marketing platform, so get started at the same time as you’re writing. If you wait until your book is done, it’s too late. My recommendation is to spend two hours a day writing and one hour a day on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

5. Start with a Kindle ebook. First, Amazon’s Kindle service might amount to 80-90 percent of your sales. If your book is successful on Amazon, it will succeed elsewhere. If it’s not successful on Amazon, it probably won’t succeed elsewhere. Second, start with the ebook format. If it takes off, then you may want to go to print. But there’s little reason to go to print immediately unless you are writing, for example, a photography book.

6. Tap the crowd. The crowd is a beautiful thing. It’s full of people who know more than you do and are willing to give of themselves freely and unselfishly. They will provide content ideas, editing, and word-of-mouth marketing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many people will contribute to your efforts for the intrinsic joy of helping a writer. The crowd will help you finish your book, which is another reason to start building your platform immediately.

7. Hire a copyeditor. If you’re going to self-publish your book, the worst way to try to save money is by not hiring a professional copyeditor. Copyediting is a specialized and refined skill—to use a medical analogy, only a fool would self-diagnose and self-medicate in an emergency. The goal is to produce a book that is as good as, or better, than a book from a large traditional publisher. You cannot do this without a professional copyeditor.

8. Hire a cover designer. The second worst way to try to save money is by designing your book cover. Like copyediting, design is a special skill that takes years of training and practice. People are going to glance at a postage-stamp size image of your cover next to ten others on Amazon. You have less than a second to convince them to click on your book to learn more and read reviews. They won’t click unless your cover is effective.

9. Test your ebook. In a perfect world, what you upload from Word and what online resellers deliver as an ebook would match. Every page, image, line break, and font would be right. This isn’t a perfect world. The bugs and glitches that can appear because of the conversion process from manuscript to ebook will shock, depress, and enrage you. You need to test your ebook on every platform that people will read it on: computer, tablet, reader, Macintosh, Windows, Android, and iOS. Don’t assume that any conversion process is 100% accurate.

10. Never give up. There are qualities that every published author shares: first, they wanted to give it all up. Second, they didn’t give it all up. Writing a book is one of the most difficult tasks in life. Fortunately, or maybe because it’s so difficult, it is also one of the most rewarding tasks in life. When you feel like you can’t type another word, can’t re-read another draft, and can’t face another rejection, remember that every author goes through these phases. It’s only the successful ones who never give up.

Guy Kawasaki is the co-author of APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur–How to Publish a Book with Shawn Welch. The book’s thesis is powerful yet simple: filling the roles of author, publisher, and entrepreneur yields results that rival traditional publishing.

 

I know it’s way too early to be thinking about covers, but….

Its just so damn pretty.

It’s just so damn pretty. It’s exactly the quality of cover I had always dreamed would contain my pages. I know it’s all copyrighted and stuff, and I’m not trying to steal it or anything. But it’s pretty damn glorious. The layout is pretty much perfect. I think its the layout I’m in love with. And the colors. And the images. And the fonts. It’s just all around awesome.

I know its waaaaaaaay too early to even be thinking about book covers, but I know I want one like this, quality wise atleast. But I like to dream. I can dream, can’t I? One day I’ll have a book with a cover like this.

One day.

An early New Year’s resolution.

Taken from a monologue moment on a show I keep up with. I’m stealing it, because I like this quote.

It’s hard trying not to judge yourself, because we are aware of every mistake. We know our inner doubts, our hidden motivations, our failings. So, my wish for next year is to be easier on myself. Focus less on the bad, and more on the good. Really, just give myself a break.

When you find a kindred spirit~

Every once in a while in life you come across people who ‘speak your language’. Not literally speak your language, but people who “get” your “stuff”. Sometimes these people are friends, or teachers, or gaming buddies, or co-workers, or whatever.

These people are usually in the same sphere of things you’re passionate about. Sometimes they’re not. Regardless of thier passion, you see that same spark of determination and zeal in that as you do in yourself when you talk about a thing you love. Maybe it’s BMX biking for your buddy, and sewing for you. Maybe your best friend LOVES the SHIT out of cosplay, and you’re fucking bonkers for table top RPGs. Maybe your good work friend is serious about his music, and you’re going to school to pursue that graphic designer’s degree. Whatever it is, when you both are discussing that thing that drives you, it all sounds the same.

Maegan, my bestie and writing buddy, is about as close to being in my actual brain as humanely possible without a brain transplant, and she understands my drive. We have similar dreams, I think. But there are still others who ‘get it’.

For me, there’s also my work-buddy Kayla. She’s passionate about her photography, and I feel like she and I are cut form the same kind of cloth. Different colors on the same cloth, but the same cloth regardless. Photography is just another form of expression. My tools are a keyboard and a blank document; hers is a camera shutter. When she talks about how photography makes her happy, and about that moment when she realized she was serious about going after it, I heard my story in hers. I’d experienced that moment. I was driving to work and thinking, “What is this shit? My real dream job is back on that laptop at home.” It was one of those self-understanding kind of moments, and I knew exactly what she meant.

She recently had one of these epiphany-type moments, she told me, where you realize all the crap you’re doing doesnt really truly make you happy, and its about damn time to get up and pursue that thing you love. I was, in that moment, glad to be friends with someone who understood what it was like to have that ‘aha’-drive moment. I admire her for her determination, and I hope to emulate it.

When I decided to really, REALLY do this writing thing, my life changed. My perspective shifted, and I see things a little differently now. I know its going to be a lot of hard work, but I also know its going to be rewarding, and I’ve come to the realization that I’m immensely more content with my life now that I’ve decided to chase this thing they call ‘the dream’.

I’m not just “hoping it’ll happen one day”. I’m chasing this fucker down and hog-tying it to the truck I’m going to use to plow through all of my obstacles.

My point is, its nice to have other chasers in the arena with you, getting dirty, and trying to hog-tie their own bastard dream pig-things.

And so here I am.

And so here I am.

This is the beginning of my journey as a writer. This is my first book.

But it won’t be my last.

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