Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Best of 2013

This year has been a big year for me. I suppose the best thing is that, in August, I finally published my novel The Forest's Heir. That was the highlight of the entire year. There have been bad things, and the last year has been a struggle in some ways. So I thought I'd end the year with some of my favorite things about the year. So here are my picks for the Top Ten books (young adult--for the most part), movies, and TV shows of the year.

Top Ten Books of 2013

  1. The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead
  2. The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead
  3. The White Princess by Phillipa Gregory
  4. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  5. Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
  6. House of Hades by Rick Riordan
  7. The Elite by Kiera Cass
  8. Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
  9. The Fall of Five by Pittacus Lore
  10. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
Trust me, this list was hard for me to put together (with the exception of the top 3). In all honesty, everything else is kind of tied for 4th place.

Top Ten Movies of 2013

  1. Thor: The Dark World
  2. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
  3. Iron Man 3
  4. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  5. Fast and Furious 6
  6. Star Trek: Into Darkness
  7. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
  8. Grown Ups 2
  9. Now You See Me
  10. The Purge
This one, actually, was pretty easy.

Top Ten TV Shows of 2013

Just note, that doesn't mean that these are new shows. I just mean MY top ten watched shows.

  1. Doctor Who
  2. Real Housewives of Atlanta
  3. Sleepy Hollow
  4. Almost Human
  5. Mob Wives: New Blood
  6. Storage Wars
  7. Being Human
  8. Reign
  9. The Walking Dead
  10. Mythbusters
What can I say, I'm a bit of a nerd, and I like reality TV.

Here's to a good 2014, and the hope that we'll have as many great books and movies next year as we did this year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Are outlines necessary?

Some authors are so organized that it baffles me. They sit down to write, and they have these amazing outlines and plans about how they want their story to go. And that's almost exactly how the final novel turns out. It's amazing to me when authors write like that.

Mostly because I can't.

I tried doing outlines for my novels before, and it absolutely drove me crazy. I hated it. I felt so boxed in that it wasn't funny. Once I put those plans to paper, I felt like I had to stick with what I wrote. I got it in my head that I couldn't deviate from that plan at all. Outlines made me so frustrated that I would quickly get depressed about a story and just stop writing it, even though it was still telling itself in my head. The characters would be screaming that this is going to happen, and I would answer back through clenched teeth, "It can't because it isn't in the plan."

Maybe I hate outlines so much because I had to do so many in high school. For everything. Literature and grammar classes. History. Even science courses. I despised outlines by the time I hit university. So I just don't do them anymore. Instead, I do pre-plans.

For me, a pre-plan lays out the basic background of each character who is important to the story (appearance, personality, likes and dislikes, etc.), facts about the world they live in, and the main plot points that I have in mind. I've stopped trying to microplan everything about my novel. I set out the major destinations, but I let the characters set the journey.

For some writers, the outline is a necessity. For others, it's a tool that's useful but not required. But for me, it's the spawn of Satan that I avoid at any and all costs.

But a pre-plan... I can work with that.

(By the way, come back in a couple days for my post about my observations of the four types of authors. And I'll tell you which kind I am.)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

How to deal with "no"

As a writer, just as in life, there's a single word that you have to learn to deal with. And you'll hear it a lot. Especially if you're a self-published author like I am. And that's the word "no."

Our society has a hard time with "no" these days. Whether it be not getting picked for the soccer team or that ghastly song "Blurred Lines," people don't want to hear that they can't do something. They don't want to hear that they aren't good enough or that they just aren't right for a job. Or, put simply, they don't want to hear that someone doesn't want what they have to offer. But as an author, you have to get used to hearing this because you're going to hear it.

A lot.

That isn't to say that you're not good enough. It just means that what you have to offer isn't right for the person that you're offering it to. I've had to deal with "no," or even worse, silence, a lot in the past weeks. I've been preparing to do a relaunch of my book and have been planning a blog tour. When you email 25 to 50 blogs a day and you hear back from 3 in a week, sometimes you get discouraged. You start thinking that it would be easier to quit. To just let everything go on its own and not bother.

But that isn't going to get me anywhere. It isn't until we learn to accept that hearing "no" a thousand times is worth hearing "yes" just once that we'll get anywhere. Because sometimes we get more out of the rejection than we do out of the acceptance.

It's out of rejection that we learn to get better, to take criticism, and to refine ourselves to the writer and the person we're supposed to be.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The importance of the memory stick...

Sometimes things happen in life that remind you that things go wrong. That happened to me yesterday. I got in a writing mood and wrote nearly 3,500 over the course of the day on my novel. It was lovely and wonderful. I got so much done. I was proud of it.

And then something went haywire with my computer. Or with my brain. I'm not sure which one, but I'm going to go with blaming the computer because it makes me feel better. Nothing that I wrote yesterday saved. Nothing. Did I say nothing? Cause I mean absolutely nothing I wrote on the new novel yesterday saved at all. It made me so angry that it wasn't funny.

So here's a bit of a tip to my fellow authors. Well, to anyone who keeps important information on their computer (and be honest, who doesn't?). BACK IT UP. And do it often. Also, don't just rely on one back up. I may be a bit obsessive compulsive when it comes to this since I had a computer crash on me once, but I have at least two back up copies of everything I can't imagine losing. And I save often, no matter what autosave does. Because after yesterday, I don't trust it.

After yesterday's fiasco with losing at least five pages of my novel, here are three lessons I learned that I will carry with me for the rest of my writing career.

  1. Don't rely on auto-save. It isn't reliable.
  2. Manually save often. At least every two pages or so, or every fifteen minutes. Just to make sure that you don't lose anything.
  3. Keep at least two back up copies (not on your computer). Just in case the worst case scenario happens. 
In short, the SAVE button and the memory stick are your best friends. Keep them close. They'll be good to you.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Playing publicist

Multitasking is something that we have to do. Every single day, we have to do two or three things at a time just because there are so many things that need to be done and only a limited amount of time to do them in. I'm used to multitasking. Working two jobs at a time, teaching a class and running a church program all at once, I'm used to it. It's been useful when I started working as my own publicist.

Self-publishing is good to just get your book in print, but that doesn't mean that you'll sell a lot of books. There's some leg work involved. Lots of multitasking, long days, and late nights. Especially when you have another job or two to pay the bills. Multitasking and time management are two of the most important things--other than writing skill--that a self-published author can have. Because no one else is going to do the work for you, not unless you're willing to fork out a lot of money for a professional or semi-professional tour group or publicist to plan your blog tours and get your name out there.

Multitasking as a self-published author not only means writing and editing your own novel, but it means playing your own agent and fighting for your work. It means playing your own publicist. It means spending hours upon hours sending out emails to book bloggers, putting out feelers for book reviews or interest in participating in a blog tour. It means coming up with ideas for blog posts. It means spending a lot of your time doing things for yourself.

At least for me, writing isn't my method of income. Sure, I've made a little money with my writing. Not enough to keep my bills paid, so I have to work a day job. So I have to manage my time to make sure I get my day job done as well as take care of all the writing and promotional things I need to do. I spend at least four to five hours a day on my writing between blogging, writing, and working on promotional things. That's good on my days off or when I'm on holiday from work. Not so easily done when I have to work all day.

I'll never regret the decision to become a self-published author. But I know now that it takes more than writing a novel to really become one. There's so much more involved. You have to be your own publicist, your own agent, editor, and cheerleader.

You have to fight for yourself, because no one else is going to.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

How to tell a good story...

I've often wondered how you really tell a good story. Well, last night I got a very good example of how to do so.

I'm a huge fan of the New Who. I've seen some of Classic Who (love Love LOVE Four), but I'll always be one of the New Who Whovians. Last night was the final Christmas special with Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor. And, boy, was that a story!

One thing I've found is that I love to yell at Steven Moffat for ripping my heart out and dancing it to pieces on Doctor Who and Sherlock. But last night, I got to thinking. Whether or not he writes the scripts, he's in control of the story (of course, last night he wrote the script--more about that later). And he makes those stories compelling.

And when I say compelling, I mean can't-look-away-hate-him-for-it-but-you-come-back-for-more compelling. But I can't say it's all Steven Moffat. It's also because of Mark Gattis, fellow show runner and co-creator of Sherlock. I'm preparing my feels (fan-girl speak for emotions) for the return of that show in a couple weeks here in the States. The thing is, the stories they tell are so deep, so intriguing that they make fans break down in tears, analyze, and relive a thousand moments of every episode.

Last night's Christmas special was exactly like that. From the very start of the episode, I went through a kaleidoscope of emotions. Melancholy, jealousy, happiness, fear, dread, anger, depression, hope, sadness, joy, sadness, fury, surprise... all of these and every facet of emotion in between. By the end of the episode and the revelation of the newest Doctor, I was an emotional wreck. I was snot crying like a baby and laughing like a lunatic. There is no better definition of emotionally compromised than the way I was last night after watching that episode.

That's what a good story does. It takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotion. It pulls you in, drags you down and lifts you back up again. It rips you apart with fear, fills you with dread, and patches you together again with hope. A good story makes you feel everything the characters feel. It carries you along for the ride, and  makes you feel as if you're right there.

And I did. I felt like I was on Trenzalore in a town called Christmas with the Doctor to protect me. I felt like Clara drifting through space and clinging to the TARDIS, begging the Doctor to never send me away ever again. And in a way, I felt like the Doctor, waking up to a whole new me, a whole new life.

Wondering... how do I fly this thing? How do I tell this new story?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

No day off for the writer...

It's Christmas Day. Most people take a day off on Christmas, don't they? They spend the day with their families, enjoying Christmas dinner, opening presents and watching the lights twinkling on a beautifully decorated tree. Most people don't wake up Christmas morning thinking about what they're going to blog about that day or how much promo work they're going to do on their blog tour.

But I do. Because when you're a self-published author who is doing everything on your own, there's no taking a day off. You always have to keep your name out there. Even if it's to just one or two people. Because those one or two people can tell one or two people. And it can go on from there.

I'm at home. I can take a break and eat Christmas dinner with my family. I can set up my work table in my living room and look at the beautiful tree that my mother decorated and appreciate the way it looks and what it stands for. I'm not going to be glued to my computer screen today--at least not until late tonight when everyone is in a food coma from turkey and stuffing. But I don't have the option of just not doing anything today.

I'll blog. I'll write. I'll go through book review websites and put out feelers for the blog tour, try to make contacts for promotional swag giveaways and stuff like that.

I'm lucky enough to have a sister who is amazing with web and graphic design. But I'm writer, editor, format editor, PR department and publicist all rolled into one.

So I totally don't get a day off.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

To re-launch or not to re-launch, that is the question...

Because I self-published, I'm responsible for pretty much everything that has to do with my book. I have to promote it. It's up to me to get the book out there and make people aware of its existence. I'm editor, publisher, PR department, everything. And that has become a full time job. I didn't know that when I started this journey, but I'm glad I've learned it now. Time management is an important thing in anyone's life. But it's especially important in the life of a writer who has a job away from the writing desk.

With the release date for my second novel fast approaching, I'm looking for ways to bump up the awareness of The Forest's Heir in the indie young adult community. It would be nice to be another Amanda Hocking. That's the dream, not necessarily the reality. Definitely not at this point. But I'm going to put in the work to get it done at this point. Until I go back to my "day" job, I'm looking at writing as my job. And that means promoting my book.

So, with that in mind, I'm thinking about a springtime re-launch of The Forest's Heir. Promos, a giveaway or two, new book trailer, blog tours, and author interviews. I'm going through every reviewer database I can find to get some feedback on the novel, some blogs to host the tour, some interviews, and some giveaways. Paperback or digital versions of the book. Maybe some bookmarks or things like that. I'm looking into doing some designs like that.

I'm also working on a press kit to send to some local news outlets to raise some interest in my local area. I live in an area with a lot of schools and a lot of libraries. It would be awesome if I could get the word out about the book.

The re-launch is a go for the spring, and that's going to take up a lot of time. But it might just be the step to a dream I've always wanted.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Stand Alone Novels or a Series?

I think it's impossible for me to tell a story in a single novel. Once I get started, the ideas just keep coming. And they won't stop with just one book. I have to keep going until the story is told. And most young adult novels aren't 600 pages long.

I suppose I could give it a try, but I don't really know how it would go. Maybe I could do an adult novel, but I don't know how to write those. I'm kind of stuck in adolescence in a way. Mostly because I never really got to live mine. I grew up way too fast.

And I like the idea of a series rather than a stand alone novel. Mostly because there are so many other things you can do with a series. In a series, you can explore so many other themes, you can get to know your characters so much better, and you can see a multitude of other characters who aren't "main" characters and see how they behave and fit into the larger patchwork of the story. I like series better. Maybe because I don't want to let the story end.

Maybe I also like writing my stories in a series because I prefer to read stories in a series. The longer, the better in most cases. There's only a few instances in which the series has gone on too far for my tastes. But I keep reading! (Darn you P.C. Cast!) That's what happens with a good author. I hope I end up one of those authors one day.

So in the end, I think I'll be an author who writes in a series. The stand alone novel might not be for me. At least, not until I write my memoirs. And at 27, I think it's a little pretentious to write them now.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

My desk is strange...

I literally just took five minutes to look around my writing desk and realized I have a lot of things that are very strange on my desk. Some off them are normal desk things. Pens. Notepads. Books. Tape. Scissors. And then some things are just downright odd. There's an Eiffel Tower covered with rings and skull earrings beside a stuffed Rottweiler. There's a multicolored crocheted Dalek beside a miniature toy of the hippo Abby Sciuto plays with on N.C.I.S.

And why is there a huge cutout of a cartoon baby face stuck in my paper tray? I have no idea why half this stuff is on my desk. Honestly. But it's kind of funny that it all fits.

This desk is my place. It's my writing space. It makes me feel like I'm in the right place in order to get some writing done. I can fall into that place where I can get in touch with my characters. Where I can be the writer I want to be.

So maybe my desk isn't so strange after all.

Maybe it's just... me.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Brain Food for Writers... Well, THIS Writer

You know how you have to be in that one mood to get really good writing done? I also have to have the perfect snacks to get my brain going just right. Usually it's chocolate milk (I know juvenile and totally awesome) or Cinnamon Toast Crunch (again, juvenile and totally awesome). But today, I'm absolutely dying for some pizza. And I'm already in a writing mood, so I'm hoping to get a lot of work done today!

It may not be the brain food that most other people think about, but it works for me when I'm writing. It keeps me going, it's easy, and I can get to it quickly while I'm working. That's the best part. It's right there, saving me so much time and preventing me from losing my train of thought. That's the worst part. I hate it when I'm writing, and I'm on this roll with the story line when hunger strikes. Then I have to get up and get something to eat and by the time I get back, my whole idea is just gone. It's lost, and it takes forever for it to come back. I hate it when that happens.

I've been lucky lately that I've been working out my ideas right about the time that I've been hitting my word counts. Not that I've been sticking strictly to the 2,000 limit. I don't necessarily stop when I hit 2,000. I may run a few hundred over if I need to finish a thought, but that's okay. It works for me. And I don't have to get up and run through the house trying to find something to eat.

Because I learned a long time ago to have my food on my desk when I got started or grab it between projects. Then I wouldn't be messing with my muse.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Learning to Format

Self-publishing is teaching me a lot of different things. How to negotiate things (seeing as my blog and graphic designer is a pretty tough negotiator) as far as price goes. How to understand marketing and social media presence. How to blog! And how to format documents for eBook files.

My first novel, The Forest's Heir, is already available on the Kindle through Amazon. And right now I'm working on formatting it for the Nook through Barnes & Noble. It's an interesting process, and I'm learning how to figure things out and how to put things in the right place. It's taking a lot of time and giving me a new appreciation of all the things that a real publishing house does for an author. But I think I'm a bit more appreciative of the people who are buying my novel now that I've actually been the one who's put the work in to get it out there. Not that authors who go through publishing houses aren't.

It's going to take hours to do this. Possibly days, so the Nook version won't be coming any time soon. But that's okay. It's a goal for the new year. Getting things done correctly, making it look right and getting my book out to a wider audience.

I never thought that I'd learn so many new skills when I started out on the road to self-publication. But I'm so very glad that I have.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Is Not My Favorite Holiday

Don't get me wrong, I'm big on the whole meaning of the holiday. I mean the real meaning of the holiday. Rebirth, the beginning of a new year and new life. The birth of the Savior. But I'm not too big on the meaning that so many people have attached to it. So many people have gotten to the point where they expect these big, extravagant gifts and if you don't do something, they throw a fit. Or they act as if you've personally insulted them when you don't do exactly what they wanted you to do.

When I was a kid, I loved the holidays. Getting together with my family and exchanging gifts. Spending time with my cousins and grandparents. As I've gotten older, though, that's kind of lost it's luster. I don't know exactly when that happened. Sometimes it feels like the time from Halloween to New Year's is a struggle.

I know it's that way for a lot of people. And I often wonder why it's that way. Isn't there something, some psychiatric disorder that has to do with depression during the holidays? Or at least during the winter? Let me go check...

...ah, seasonal affective disorder. SAD, what an appropriate designation. Don't the holidays make everyone sad?

I wonder, has anyone ever written a novel about how horribly depressing the holidays are? I'm sure they have since there are dozens of movies about it. Maybe I've just missed them all. Probably because I tend to stick in the classics and young adult sections of the book store. I have a hard time getting out of those sections because they speak to me. I think I'm stuck in another time: either days gone by as far as centuries past or my adolescence that slipped by far too quickly.

Hmm... I like that for a title. Days Gone By.

Wasn't that the name of the first Walking Dead episode?

Now I want to watch zombie movies...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

New Projects, Titles, and Christmas Shopping

Sometimes I'll be listening to music and I'll get this flash of an idea for a title of a novel or a series. It's kind of funny that most of my titles come from lines of songs, mostly because I listen to music when I write. Or, amazingly, sometimes I'll just be walking around with my iPod in and listening to it and something will hit me. There's actually a list on my phone of just titles for projects I want to do. It may have nothing about what that project may be about. Just a title.

I've heard of some authors who have working titles for their novels. That's only worked for me two times. Only twice have I changed the name of my novel once I finished writing it. Usually I start with the title and I build the world around that. The thing is, the title usually comes with the idea. So it works for me.

And those new projects... I've got so many I want to work on! Part of me is desperate to finish The Elemental Royals Trilogy just so I can get hard core serious about other projects. I've got the Off World Series that I'm working on now, and I have plans for at least three or four other series that I'd like to write. I could spend the rest of my life writing novels really. And I think I will.

This time of year seems so hectic, you know? The month long break from my regular job gives me lots of time to read and write, but it also means that I have to go Christmas shopping. And that means budgeting out what little money I have to buy gifts for family and friends. And shopping is never my favorite thing to do. I just don't like to do it. Although I have been into it before, and I've gotten in over my head with it. If I could get away with gift cards, I'd do that and be a happy little Christmas elf. I really would.

Hmm... maybe that's what I'll do. Because it would be so much easier.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Movies, Music, and Books--Things That Deserve A Repeat

Okay, so you know those people who can read a book once and never read it again? What's up with those people? Seriously. How can they open up this new world and see it, live in it, and never want to revisit it? Honestly, I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings at least once a year every year. That's about 17 times since the first movie came out. Because I'll be honest, I'd never even heard of it until then and I had a huge crush on Elijah Wood when I was a freshman in high school. But still. My copies of those books are knackered, people. How do other people not do that?

And movies! My mom can't understand how I buy a movie or a TV series and watch it over and over and over. Dodgeball. Don't ever sit down with me to watch that movie. Because I've seen it so many times that I can literally quote it start to finish, every character, every line, verbatim. It's perhaps my absolute favorite movie because it never fails to put me in a good mood. And when our dish is out, you can bet that's the movie in the DVD player. That one or Adam Sandler's version of The Longest Yard. I know that one verbatim, too.

I'm a writer, and most writers I know listen to music when they write. I have a playlist for every story, or at least every series. Over the course of a writing session, those songs are on repeat at least two or three times. I love those songs. That's kind of why I picked them. They make me happy or, if need be, they make me sad because that's what my characters need to feel. Or, maybe, it just lets me zone out from the world around me enough to write.

Sometimes zoning out is awesome. It lets me get into a kind of writing track where those 2,000 words come out in no time.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Word Counts and Deadlines

I used to be one of those writers who didn't believe in word counts. I would just write when the mood struck, and if it didn't... oh well. But once I got my first novel out there and people started asking when the second was coming out, then I had to buckle down and actually put myself on a schedule. Word counts. Deadlines. Publication dates.


I still write when the mood strikes me, but I now have to hit that word count every day. My daily goal is 2,000 words. Whether that's in one sitting or spread out through the day, it doesn't matter. And no, blogging doesn't count. And it doesn't have to be 2,000 words all in one project either. Although it's hard for me to work on one original fiction at a time. So I usually finish one project and send it off to the readers before I start work on another.

And then I have deadlines. For example, the novel that's off to the readers now has a publication date of June 2014. The one I'm writing now, then, has a first draft deadline of about the same time. Of course, I'll step away from it when I get the notes back from the readers on The Fire's Princess.

Self imposed deadlines, all of them. I can only imagine what it would look like if I had a real publisher.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Barking Dogs and Coffee

So here's the thing, I love my dogs. They're the best kind of unconditional love. They don't really get mad at me, they don't really get disappointed in me, and they're always happy to see me. They love to play and the love to love on me. So I love them.

Just not at 5 o'clock in the morning. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's 5 AM. I'm typing with one hand because Abby won't let me NOT pet her right now. I'm not sure why, but there has to be a good reason. There's always a good reason when she does stuff like that, I just don't figure it out until later. But my point is... it's 5 in the morning!!!!!

They woke me up barking at a cat in the back yard. The same cat that has been plaguing our existence for the past week. Normally, I love cats. This one... I don't want to hurt it, just hurl it over the fence in a non-damaging way.

Sometimes I wonder why God gave dogs such big, sad eyes. Well, they're not always sad. I guess they're expressive. Other than wagging tails, eyes are all dogs have. Right now Abby is giving me the sad eyes. Almost like she's saying, "Stop that clicking. Sometimes you don't play with me as much when you click." Which makes me sad because it's true.

It's too early for my dog to be teaching me life lessons. I need some coffee. A writer's best friend. After Cinnamon Toast Crunch and music.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Rainy Days Are My Favorite

If I'm going to write, rainy days are my favorite. Mostly because I have no reason to go outside. And that means I have no excuse not to be writing.

Because sometimes I need that extra push.

Today is one of those days, at least where I live. I'm one of those people who think grey, rainy days are the most beautiful days in the world. I don't like hot, sunny days. I'm just not built for those kind of days. I am totally built for winter. Although I don't like snow. So maybe we should say that I'm built for late autumn. Yes, that's good. Let's go with that.

I'm writing today. Well, of course I am. I'm writing this. But I'm also writing on the new series. Although I'm fighting a bit of writer's block on that as well. See, I'm one of those writers who don't do an outline of a story before I start writing. I tried that once and I just totally felt like I was locked into following that timeline. It felt stifling and made me hate the idea of writing. So now I just write. I let the story unfold as it goes, and I change things as I need to.

Maybe I should eat, that might stop a bit of the writer's block. Seeing as I haven't eaten at all today. That might be a bit of the problem. Sometimes writers forget to eat. We have this issue of getting so caught up in the story we're telling that we forget to do other things. Like the laundry or making dinner.

Perhaps I'll go sit on the porch for a while and watch the rain, smell the clean, cold air and get some new perspective. After all, new perspective can help you write a brand new world, now can't it?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Amazon Countdown Promotion for The Forest's Heir


Starting December 15, Amazon.com will be doing a countdown sale for The Forest's Heir as an eBook. The discount starts really high (87%) and drops with every day until it goes back to the original list price. 

Here's the price schedule:

December 15th------ $0.99
December 16th------ $1.99
December 18th------ $2.99
December 19th------ $3.99
December 20th------ $4.99
December 22nd------ $5.99 (original price)

Take advantage of this great deal to pick up The Forest's Heir on eBook starting this Sunday!

You can buy The Forest's Heir here. Remember the sale doesn't start until SUNDAY, DECEMBER 15th!

When Writing Seems Really Hard

In case you're thinking of picking up writing as a hobby or as a profession, let me give you a piece of advice... writing is REALLY HARD.

Okay. It's only hard sometimes. But still.

Like today (I'm blaming the fact that it's Friday the 13th, and I'm a writer so I can do things like that), I'm having such a hard time getting started. I finished the first draft of The Fire's Princess yesterday and I've got to take a break from that world for a while before I can go back to it with new eyes. So I want to get started on a new series just to give myself some time away from Elemental Royals as well as a stretch writing something new. But it's so hard to get out of medieval fantasy and completely onto another world. So prep work! Good start, yeah?

Prep work is a pit fall. Because you can do prep work forever. Literally. I could sit in front of my computer and look up information and diagrams and pictures for days, weeks and months before I ever actually write a single thing. I an do character outlines and figure out things about the characters and the world, but I might never really put a word in those characters' mouths. So I like to do prep work as I go instead of all at once. Because if I get caught in prep work at the start, I'll never actually start writing.

Add in to that writer's block and actually coming up with ideas in the first place, and sometimes it's so hard that it's depressing.

But then there are those days when it's so rewarding. You get in that grove. You find just the right song that puts you in the perfect writing mood and you get started and there's no stopping you. It's almost like a caffeine rush and a manic state all at once. It's breathtaking and brilliant. Who needs drugs when you have the rush of writing? Of being able to craft brand new worlds and stories and people?

So sometimes writing seems really hard, but I live for those days when it's breathtaking.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Music, Writing, and Reviews

I learned a long time ago that I couldn't write in silence. It was the bane of my high school creative writing teacher that I had to have a Walkman or CD player blasting some kind of music. I'll admit, back then it was probably the Backstreet Boys or NSYNC. But now my listening tastes are a bit more eclectic and varied. Depending on what kind of scene I'm writing, I might listen to love songs or hard rock anthems. But sometimes, I just need some music on to help me get the creative juices moving around in my brain.

A long time ago, I was a HUGE fan of the Twilight Saga. I won't digress and tell you why I'm not so much of a fan anymore, but it was that series that really brought to mind the idea of actually having a soundtrack to a story. It isn't necessarily that there's a song for each chapter. But it's more that each of the songs have something that make that song connect to the story, that make me feel the emotions that my characters were feeling at that moment. The playlists on my iPod are always on repeat, something that helps me immerse myself in the feelings those characters have and the feelings I want my readers to have when they pick up my novel.

I think music and literature have a lot in common. Goodness. That sounded like I was comparing what I write to Jane Eyre or something. Which I'm absolutely not doing. Anyway... what I mean is that both literature and music are meant to evoke feeling and connections. I suppose that's why I always like to join music to my writing.

On a side note, I'll be adding a new section to the site soon. As good writers are avid readers, I'm going to begin doing reviews of some of the books I'm reading. The page will be up as soon as I finish Champion by Marie Lu, which will be the first book I'll review. Then I'll put up a new review every time I finish a new novel, new or old.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Why I Can't Sleep For the Ideas in My Head

Sometimes I have absolutely no ideas and all I want to do is just go to sleep. I don't want to think about writing, I don't want to look at a computer screen or anything at all. But there are other times that I'm so full to bursting with ideas that I can't stop them from coming. And I literally can't sleep because of the ideas.

There have been times when I've climbed out of bed and booted up my laptop in the middle of the night just to get the ideas out of my head so I could get some rest. I'm one of those writers who sometimes feels like a schizophrenic. My characters don't just act out their stories in my head and I put words in their mouths. No. It isn't that easy for me. They talk to me, they tell me their stories and scream them into my ears until I can't ignore them. So sometimes, writing them down is all I can do to get a little bit of relief.

I like those nights sometimes. When I don't want to sleep and I'm so full of energy that I could stay up all night writing. I have one idea after another rushing through my head and flowing like a waterfall onto the paper. Oh, I love those nights. I love when I get chapter after chapter after chapter written in one night. Just the feeling of seeing my page count go up... it's a rush. For that first draft, it doesn't matter if it's the great American novel. It just matters that it's my words--my characters' words--on that screen in black and white. Somehow, to me, 300 is the magic number. Three hundred pages seems like a good number for a completed novel. And it's always worked out for me that the story wraps itself up right around that 300 page mark.

I need more of those nights now that I'm on holiday. I need nights where I can stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning pouring out my thoughts. Finishing one novel, putting down the ideas for another, brainstorming a third. Because I love to write. I have folder after folder on my computer that has ideas for more novels, for a different series or two. I will literally spend the rest of my life writing stories, regardless of whether I make my living like this.

So it's a good night when I can't sleep for the ideas in my head. Unless I have to go to work the next morning.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New Blog Look and New Series Plan

If you haven't noticed, there's a new look to my blog. The amazing designer at Stephanie King Photography (and yes, she might be my sister) redesigned and recoded my lovely blog to look even more lovely than it did before. She listened to me complain and nit-pick for over an hour today until she got it just right. She's amazing. Go check her out at Stephanie King Photography. She's more a sports photographer, but she's awesome with the Photoshop too.

I've beaten the writer's block demon, at least for now, and I'm nearing the end of the first draft of The Fire's Princess. And while I still have a third novel in the trilogy to finish, I've also got ideas for another series to write. I think it's important to take a break every now and then to allow my creative juices to recharge. Especially when I start running out of ideas for a particular series. I know how I want The Elemental Royals to finish, but I'm at a loss right now for how it gets there. So going through and working on another story for a while will give me a bit of a break to figure out the thereto's and wherefore's of the final novel in the trilogy.

Plus, I've got A LOT of reading to do. I'm falling way behind on my reading skills. Usually I can finish a book in a couple days. I've been reading Marie Lu's Champion for a week now. That is an eternity for me. In the words of Ian Malcom, "Must go faster. Must go faster."

And it's "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" this week, which means that it's going to be a hard week for reading and writing. I'm going to be distracted by amazing movies.

Off the blog and back to the pages. Fire's Princess must be finished by the end of the month!

Happy reading, followers!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Beating Writer's Block and Writing Out of Order

This is the one thing I hate about being a writer: not knowing what to write!

Sometimes I have so many ideas that I can't get them down on paper fast enough. Other times, my brain is so completely dead that there's nothing there. And it takes forever to get anything going when it comes to my writing time. Writer's block is the absolute worst thing in the world. It's the last thing any writer wants to deal with because it makes you feel so completely useless that it isn't funny. It's staring at a computer screen at two in the morning watching the cursor blink blink blink with nothing to follow. The feeling is disheartening and sickening.

You know that old adage of "if you don't know what to write, just write" that creative writing teachers have been touting for ages? It's actually pretty good advice, especially when you have some random and off the wall prompt to get you started. I have a hard time with dialogue, but I'm great with description. So when I'm stuck, sometimes I have a standing prompt of "write a scene using nothing but dialogue." It's harder than it sounds, but it really gets the creative juices flowing.

Another thing is to write out of order. But I hate doing this! I'm incredibly obsessive compulsive about keeping things in order, so writing scenes ahead of time makes me uncomfortable. Sometimes, though, it's the only way to deal with it. It's the only way to get out of the slump of writer's block. I did that with the novel I'm working on now and it helped. I get the feeling I'm going to have to do it again, or else go completely off world and start working on a different series all together to break myself of the writer's block I'm feeling right now.

So what's the best way to deal with writer's block? How do you get through that mental stop that keeps the words dammed up?

The answer's really very simple... WRITE!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Why I'm a Bad Blogger

So it's been over a year since my last post. I'm a bad blogger. Good writer (geeze, that sounds a bit conceited) but a very bad blogger. I'm going to be better. I promise.

In the past year, I've finished my first novel and published it. Scoot on over to the Elemental Royals tab and take a look. You can buy it on Amazon. It's really good. I promise. At least, most people I know say it's really good.

To make myself a better blogger, I'm going to let you guys in on the workings of my crazy brain as I try to finish up the first draft of the second novel in The Elemental Royals Trilogy. Just so you know, I'm a week past my self-imposed deadline. The new one is New Year's Day. Let's see if I can keep to this one, yeah?

If I can be a really good blogger, I may just do a giveaway with a couple awesome blogs or a cover reveal. I haven't decided yet. All I know is I'm getting writer's butt. Which means I need to get up and move around.

Edited by - Stephanie King