Monday, December 31, 2012

Another Year Gone

It's about that time. Either your head's full of possibilities for the new year or it feels like it's about to explode. I'm gonna check the both box. It's inevitable. The end of the year makes you think about where you came from and where you're going. So, here's my plan for 2013.

  1. Job hunting. I'm unemployed once again. Deja vu. This was at the top of my list last year.
  2. Step-up my social media game. I'm planning to self-publish my first book early 2014and need to keep developing my brand and author platform.
  3. Find a graphic designer to create my book cover and promotional images. I'm really looking forward to this one.
  4. Have graphic designer create my book trailer. Another thing I'm looking forward to. I want it to be animation which is the only reason I'm not doing it myself.
  5. Hire a professional editor to gut my book. For some reason, I'm hoping the editor thoroughly rips into to. I want my book to glisten.
There are others but those are the big ones.
What's your plan for the new year? How will you be ringing in 2013? I'll be watching the ball drop...on TV. I may live in NY but there isn't enough money in the world to get me into Time Square on New Years eve.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Choosing Blog Topics

I'm a bit tired of waking up on blogging day going "I have no idea what to write about." Then, I spend all day using up brain space I don't have trying to come up with a post. Or worse, I open a New Post and stare at the whiteness hoping to be struck by some snippet of inspiration. FYI, when you search for that little muse, she's nowhere to be found.

Then, I came across this article on The Book Designer: How to Create an Endless Stream of Blog Post Ideas.

Well, hello there muse.

The article talked about creating a mind map of potential topics so, I made one with Mindjets Maps, a free app.

I created these topics by thinking about my brand. Yes, brand is one of those overused, slightly irritating, words. Doesn't stop it from being important.  

Then, I remembered reading another article about how Quora can save you from blogging day brain meltdown.
"...Quora delivers you answers and content from people who share your interests and people who have first-hand knowledge -- like real doctors, economists, screenwriters, police officers, and military veterans. On Quora, it's easy to create a personalized homepage of everything you want to know about by following topics, questions, people and boards." (Quora)
I searched for "world building", for example, and chose one of the questions as a blog topic.

I did this for all the topics on my mind map. I now have blog posts scheduled until the end of February...or longer. Inspiration does not care about schedules.

How do you come up with blog topics?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hidden Magic

Sometimes we get so used to seeing things we become immune to it's magic.

Over the weekend, family and friends from DC stayed with me. They wanted a taste of NY Christmas. I've been living in Brooklyn, NY for three years and two years before that I'd been attending school in NJ so, I visited NY often.

After a while, some things stop being magical. Don't get me wrong, I still love the city just for completely different reasons. It's nice to have someone visit from outside and drag me to all the touristy places. I wouldn't have visited the Macy's windows or the Big Tree if they hadn't come.

A few years ago, I'd walk past this area in the city that would always be crowed. It was a nightmare. Tons of people were like camped out there, impeding traffic. One day, I was standing across the street and noticed people pointing their cameras up. Wondering what could possibly be so interesting, I looked up. Turns out, that crowded area was the entrance to the Empire State Building.

On the NY metro, people perform for money. After three years, the novelty's worn off and it's like driving an icicle through my temples. But, seeing how excited "outsiders" got watching the performers had me looking at the them with interest, for the moment at least.

This got me thinking about writing and why it's so important to have a fresh pair of eyes over our shoulder. I've become so immune to horror, I can't recognize it in my own work. People read my stories and tell me it scared them. I'm floored because it wasn't my intention. It's a nice side-effect but I didn't go into the story intending to frighten people.

I thought I was "meh" at descriptions until several readers told me how vivid my descriptions were. You can and should try to predict how readers will view your story but you really don't know unless you ask them. The new eyes can lead you to hidden treasures.

Monday, December 10, 2012

World Building and Photoshop

In my last post, Writing a Dark Fantasy Series, I said I was playing with Abode Photoshop to help me visualize my world. My first two tries were a miss. I wanted to make a birds-eye view of my villages but that was a big undertaking for someone who's never used Photoshop.

So, I went small. In my second novel, one of my characters had a house built for all his siblings to, hopefully, live in. Thanks to Diane Carlisle's awesome suggestion, I'm gonna share some of my work. Here's what I imagined his house and property to look like.

I now understand why Photoshop is so dangerous. The things you can do to a picture are amazing. Just for fun, I think I'll create some of my characters' faces.

I'm using the trial version of Photoshop. This software is pricey and I ain't got it like that. However, I have no intention of giving this up. I'm gonna save some money cause I'm buying me some Photoshop. Using it is a lot of work- this little picture took about 5 hours to do- but it's so fun and helpful.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Writing a Dark Fantasy Series

The Bridge by Gate-to-Nowhere
Working on two (or three) novels at a time usually means you don't finish any of them, at least for me it does. I discovered though, for a Dark Fantasy series, you kinda have to work on all the books at once. Or, at the very least, have a firm grasp on your worlds and the overarching plot of the series.

Since I've started working on the second book, Isolated (working title), I've had to go back to the first one to change some details or add something- small things that would become important as the series progress or, world building details I discovered through writing Isolated.

Setting and powers, are the most difficult parts about writing a Dark Fantasy series, at least for me. The world keeps getting bigger and more complicated. I want the setting to be like our world but I don't want to get bogged down with being geographically correct. Don't know how I'm going to manage that.

On top of that, there is so much information you need to keep track of. Every now and then I'll be working on Isolated and realize I'd forgotten some important detail (or race of beings) I brought up in the first book.

My series' format is similar to Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles- each book is told from the perspective of a different cast. The characters from previous books make several guest appearances but they aren't the stars. This means my cast is slightly overwhelming. I have a little over 30 characters for this trilogy. To make things even more fun, the series encompasses three worlds.

I've told you about the world building board on my wall and my world building journal. They've really come in handy. Also, I'm writing a list of questions brought up by the novels to make sure the books answer them. When I edited the first book, I printed out pages containing details I wanted to remember for the second novel and stapled those pages into my world building journal.

I've talked before about Evernote. This tool is brilliant for organizing story notes. If you have a smartphone, you can access them anywhere through their app. This program is on my computer as well. When Evernote syncs, notes I've created on my laptop becomes available on my phone too. It's awesome.

I'm now playing with Adobe Photoshop to create layouts of the different villages cropping up in Isolated. Apparently, Photoshop is also good for creating world maps. I haven't tried it yet but I will.

The important thing is you find some way to remember all the information about your world(s), characters and plots of each book. These are not things you can hold in your head. Believe me, I've tried. It can drive you a little insane.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Was It Your Choice?

Did you always have dreams of being full time writer or did your stories have to convince you?
I had to be convinced. As a kid, the idea of writing for a living seemed boring. Even when I got my masters, I figured I'd be a published author on the side. I've been writing most of my life but it wasn't until last year that I surrendered to the dream. I worked hard trying to avoid the whole full-time author career path.

Funny how things turn out. I know, I know- it's almost impossible to be a full-time writer unless your name is Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. Most authors these days have a day job and spend the wee hours of the night banging out a story. Don't see how they manage that and marketing?

I'm going to be honest with you. I didn't see how anyone would choose to be a full-time writer. It's a huge financial and emotional investment with little return. When I saw publishing my story, I didn't see my book getting into the hands of readers- my name in print, I saw me giving my heart to a bunch of strangers so they could tear it apart.

You read all these articles about how you have to do all your own marketing and networking which is like a slow death for an introvert. How we're now expected to publish at least two stories a year. How the publishing industry is in turmoil. How it's so hard for a new writer to make it. How it's even harder for a self-published author to make it.

And the good side of a writing life is where?

That's negative and we can't think that way. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it can be painful but we all know it's so worth it in the end. I don't even have a book cover yet but I get emotional just thinking about it. I remember why I want to publish this story, why I want to be a full-time writer and I grab hold of it with both hands. In the end, all the things listed above don't matter.

Your story is your baby after all. I'll suffer through the discomfort of networking and the pain of having my story ripped apart if it means more people will read my books.

My dream is to make a living off my books, to be able to make my own schedule, to be able to get up one day and say, I want to write here and just go there. That's my light at the end of the tunnel. What's yours?
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