Friday, February 28, 2014

Yikes, The Blog Tour is Tomorrow!!!

It's finally here. After months of work and chasing down blogs and reviewers, the blog tour is here. It starts tomorrow.

I'll be visiting a bunch of different blogs to do guest posts, have reviews done, and do giveaways of eBooks and a great Elemental Royals Prize Pack. Take a look at my upcoming events page to see where I'll be this month.

Here's what will be included in the Elemental Royals Prize Pack:

  • Signed Paperback Copy of The Forest's Heir
  • Forest's Heir mini-button
  • Elemental Royals water bottle
  • Team Gavin large button
  • Team Andrew large button

I will also be giving away several copies of the eBook version of the book as well. You can check out the widget on the Blog Tour Giveaway page to enter the contest to win one of the eBooks or the prize pack.

I'm nervous about my first reviews from people who do book reviews for a "living." Even though they're hobbist bloggers and reviewers, they know what they're doing. I'm nervous.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

End of the Month Stress Buster

And, oh boy do I need it this month!

This month's End of the Month Stress Buster is all about having fun. It's about returning to childhood, playing games, and watching cartoons.

Stress is sometimes a good thing. But too much stress makes our bodies and minds feel as if we're out of control. It makes us feel as if we can't solve the problems that our lives are putting in front of us. And one thing we can do to help us feel as if we're able to deal with those things is to allow ourselves to relax, even if it's just for a few hours. So this month, I want to go back to a time when the only thing stressful was choosing what kind of cereal to have in the morning.

So this month, I'm going to spend a day (the day before the blog tour to be exact) watching my favorite cartoons. I'm going to curl up in my favorite movie watching chair with some popcorn and M&Ms and watch Despicable Me and The Little Mermaid. I'm going to pull out my old VHS tapes of the Mickey Mouse Club and laugh at the gags that were hilarious when I was 7, but are so obviously bad now.

I'm going to have Count Chocula and ice cream covered in chocolate sauce and whipped cream. I'm going to sit in the floor and play with my dogs.

Sometimes getting rid of stress is all about taking yourself to a time when you felt as if you were in control. Being a child was all about a time when you could just be a kid. When your only responsibility was to have fun. That's what I'm doing this month. I'm going to have fun.

It doesn't mean the stress won't be there when the fun is over. But it will put me in a better mind space to deal with the stress.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Choosing a Good Title

Titles are important things. They're identifiers, names that bring a story into a world that have their own souls and lives. They're a way of giving life to something that was once just a set of words on a page. It pulls the entire thing together.

But choosing a title is hard. It's like choosing the name of your child. That's what a book is really. It's your baby. Something that is part of you, something that you're letting out into the world to make a difference.

Some books about writing say that you should have a working title when you're writing so that you have something to work with. They strongly suggest staying away from choosing a title from the start of a project. They say that choosing the title should be one of the last things that you do. Well, I don't listen to that kind of advice. For me, actually, the title is one of the FIRST things I do. I tend to build the story around a title that sticks in my head.

Sometimes my titles are inspired by song lyrics or things like that. Lines from movies.

Titles are very important things. And I always start with them. They sometimes change. But I always start with them.

I've tried before to write with a "working title" or no title at all, and it never really works for me. I always feel as if something important is missing. Like I don't truly know my story until I know it's name. And that's really important to me as a writer, to know my story. Even if I don't always know how it's going to end or where it's going to go next, I want to feel as if I know the soul of it. The tone and the ebb and flow.

That's what comes in the title.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Blog Tour is Almost Here

Okay, now I'm starting to get antsy.

The blog tour is less than a week away.

My first major reviews from book reviewers. My first giveaway. My first set of guest posts on other blogs.

I'm a nervous wreck. I'm afraid of bad reviews. I'm afraid of good reviews. I'm afraid of reviews.

I've done something wrong. I've checked everything off my list, but heavens knows that I've done something wrong. Somewhere throughout the set of blog posts or review copies or something that I've sent out, there was something that went out to the wrong person or wasn't done right. I just know it.

Does every writer go through this? Is this normal?

I suppose I'll feel the same way on the 28th. Oh geeze, that's Friday. This is happening too fast.

Well, this is out there now, isn't it?

This writer is a nervous wreck for her first blog tour. I suppose every writer has been there at one point in time. Nervous. Anxious. Not sure about what's going to happen, what people will think about their work, the work that they spent so much time on.

So maybe all this is natural after all.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Bookstores, Credit Cards, and Me

I love going into bookstores when I go to the local mall. It's actually almost physically impossible for me to go into the mall and not take a detour into the mall just for a few minutes. I love the smell of the bindings and the paper. (And maybe the coffee shop that sits right by the door.) It makes me feel at home to be in the bookstore.

But it's dangerous to let me in a bookstore with money. Because there's a very real possibility that I'll come out of there with a bag full of books and absolutely no money. And I literally mean no money. It's happened before. Something comes over me when I go into bookstores with money. It's like I have a compulsion to spend every penny on the written word.

If there's someone with me--like my sister for instance--it's much harder for me to do something like that. I hold on to my money, and I don't end up spending it all on books. But I usually leave the store feeling frustrated that I saw so many wonderful titles that I don't get to take home with me. It makes me sad. And being sad around books is not something I like very much.

It's a bad idea to let me anywhere near a bookstore to start with. Mostly because it's easy for me to spend hours just browsing, even if I have no money to spend. I've been known to take up residence in an aisle and start reading summaries one after the other, snapping pictures of covers so I remember to put them on my reading list. My local bookstore has a couple people who know me, so I can get away with it without getting yelled at. Much.

I'd love to have my own bookstore. But I'd never sell books. I'd loan them out to people. Borrow a book, trade a book. Share a book. But I'd read every single one that came through my doors.

That's just what kind of reader I am.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

"Coriolanus" from the Donmar Warehouse

So I've just gotten back from my viewing of Coriolanus through a broadcast from the Donmar Warehouse through National Theater Live. I've thought about what I would say throughout the drive home, and I find that I'm more than a little flabbergasted about what to say and how to put this thing. In simplest terms... it was breathtaking.

I'll be honest and say I wanted to see the play because Tom Hiddleston and Mark Gattis were in it. But I made myself read the play before I went to see it, and I found a new play in Shakespeare's repertoire that I could come to love. Just reading the play was brilliant, but seeing it performed, even on such a small scale as the Donmar, was wonderful.

The setting was grungy, but in the best possibly way. It was visceral and raw, and it captured the spirit of the play beautifully. There wasn't anything unnecessary on the stage or anywhere in the costumes or props. It was a play stripped down to its bones, and it was beautiful. I think it was perhaps the best way to do this play because that's what Coriolanus was. The story is about blood and pride, envy and the violence of battle. The stripped down bareness of the play made it more real and pulled me easier.

And while the play is billed as The Tragedy of Coriolanus, there were plenty of comedic bits in the play. Tom and Mark played up every chance they could to get a laugh, and it was often at a time to break up a great feeling of tension in the play. It was also a way for Coriolanus to present his scorn of the people, and it was enough to set the entire theater to laughing.

The staging, the casting, the interpretation of the words, everything was beautiful and perfect. It was Shakespeare done the way it was meant to be. Not flashy and on a scale that takes away all imagination, but as the Bard himself would have done it. Simple, yet powerful beyond imagining.

I had thought my favorite Shakespearean production from Tom was Henry V. But Coriolanus gives Hal a run for his money.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Why I Love Shakespeare

In honor of my chance to see Tom Hiddleston performing Coriolanus today, I thought I'd blog about the Bard himself. The man who changed the face of theater for the entirety of the world. William Shakespeare.

Like everyone, I had to read Shakespeare in high school. Probably Hamlet, Macbeth or Romeo and Juliet. I'll admit that I liked all of those plays, even though my classmates would moan and groan about how horrible it was to read this Elizabethan language that was so hard to understand. But I loved it. I enjoyed reading Shakespeare. Especially the histories. My favorite play of all of Shakespeare's plays is probably Henry V, although Much Ado About Nothing comes in a very close second.

Shakespeare's comedies were funny and tragic at the same time, his tragedies were so tragic that it broke your heart, and his histories were so sweeping that they were breathtaking. His characters were real and relatable. Hard to play but easily understood.

My favorite thing about Shakespeare is that he was an amazing storyteller. He could describe human nature in ways that no one before him had ever described. It was something that made his plays so popular, especially among the common people.

I definitely don't want this to become something like a high school essay on Shakespeare, so I'll end it here. But I will definitely be blogging tomorrow to let you know how Coriolanus was. Although I thoroughly expect it to be fantastically amazing. 

And just to clear up a very long-standing misconception that is a pet-peeve of mine, Romeo and Juliet is NOT a love story. It's a tragedy. That's why it's called The TRAGEDY of Romeo and Juliet.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Blog Tour Jitters

Although I'm really excited about it, I'm starting to get incredibly nervous about the blog tour. It starts in a little over a week! It's getting to the point where my book might just get a bit more exposure. And my first few reviews are coming in. So I'm super nervous about those.

I'm working on guest posts and getting things together for the giveaways. Most of them are straight up e-books, but there's a little prize pack that's going to be given out, which is going to be kind of cool. I'm excited about that. And I hope people like it.

I know it sounds stupid, but I'm already thinking about two more blog tours for the other two books I want to release this year. The first one would be in June when the second Elemental Royals novel comes out. The second would be later this year when the first Off World novel is released. I still don't have a date for that one because I haven't gone through it in detail yet. But I know I want to do a blog tour for both.

Perhaps I should see how this first one goes and then plan the second and third one, shouldn't I? That might be the best way to go.

I'm so nervous about the blog tour! I don't know what to do with my nervousness. I'm afraid it's all going to blow up, that something is going to go wrong. I know the lovely ladies and gentlemen running the blogs are capable and wonderful. I know they have all this in hand. I'm just afraid that I'm going to screw up. And wouldn't that just be the thing? I screw up my first blog tour!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Picking the Right Beta Readers

While I love to read the novels that I've written, sometimes I'm not the best person to judge whether it's good or not. That's why beta readers are the best things ever invented for writers.

It's an important thing to pick a beta reader. There are so many things that can go wrong with picking a beta reader. They have to be just right for the project in order to get the best kind of feedback. And it is so hard to get that right kind of fit. It's a comedy of errors, a series of fits and starts of trying to figure out who is best for which story. Sometimes you just have to take a stab in the dark and a wild guess. Sometimes it works. Other times it doesn't.

I've had to work with beta readers three times now. And I've learned a few things about picking them. Choosing a beta reader is like doing an interview for a nanny for your book. They have to be the right fit, and there are some questions you can ask to see if that person is a good fit for you.

  1. What kind of books do you like to read? What are your favorite genres?
  2. Who are some of your favorite authors?
  3. Do you feel comfortable being critical of a work? (This doesn't mean being mean or picking it apart, but being able to describe things that might not work or things that are "wrong.")
  4. How fast do you think you can read the work and still be able to read it "critically?"
  5. Why do you want to be a beta reader for this particular novel?
Most of the time, my beta readers have been friends and "fans" of my short stories. They're people who know how I write and like my style and characters. It's important to find people who like to read stories like the ones you write.

It's important to find beta readers who will treat your work with all the respect it deserves. It took you a long time to get it written. They should take just as much consideration in reading it and giving notes.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Being a Good Self-Editor

I've said it a thousand times. Self-publishing is something that takes up so much time that it isn't funny. It isn't just about the writing part either. You have to factor in the publicity stuff that you have to do as well as all the other planning and blogging. (I never realized how much time blogging would take.)

One of the things that takes up the most time is editing. You have to read your own story with an eye that is so critical that it's like ripping your story apart. Editing isn't just about looking for grammar mistakes and punctuation. It's about fixing sentences, continuity, and making sure that your story is the best that it can possibly be.

I'm working on editing two different novels at the moment as well as working on writing a new novel as well. It's difficult to keep everything straight, but it's something that has to be done. And editing is an important part of being a writer. And it's important to remember that fixing the problems with a story doesn't mean that it makes the story amazing. It just makes it grammatically correct.

I love to write, and editing is something that sometimes takes away the joy of writing. But it has to be done.

So there are a few things that have to be done as you're editing your own work.

  1. Read with a critical eye. 
  2. Keep notes about what characters look like or behave. Those will come in handy later when you start doing continuity read throughs.
  3. Read your work out loud to see if sentences sound right. Sometimes what sounds good in your head doesn't sound so hot on paper. 
It takes a long time to self-edit, and if you can afford a professional editor it's something to think about. But the only one who can fix the problems with your story is you.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Writing Heroes

I'm a huge reader. I love to read just about anything and everything. While I prefer young adult and historical fiction, I can read just about anything that you put in front of me if I can get interested in it. But there are three writers who I will never turn down no matter what.

Perhaps my favorite writer of all time is J.R.R. Tolkien. I read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit once a year every year, and try to read his other works at least once ever couple years. He is a master of fantasy, and he wrote so wonderfully. One of the things I love about Tolkien's work is that there's a little bit in there for everyone. And he made his characters so real. Every bit of his world was so real that it seemed to jump off the page. The languages and the races that populated his world are amazing and beautiful. When I write fantasy, I always think of how Tolkien would do it. Because that's the gold standard for me.

I also love to read just about anything written by Richelle Mead. She is amazing at urban fantasy and paranormal stories. While it was the Vampire Academy series that drew me in, I've read just about everything she's written. I'll be honest and say that I'm about burnt out on vampires, but she does them so well that they aren't broody or whining. They're real people and real creatures--maybe scary and maybe swoon-worthy. her way of writing drags the reader in and doesn't let go from the first page to the last. It's like you are the main character rather than just reading about them. She's a master of perspective.

When it comes to science fiction, I'm a sucker for Beth Revis. Her Across the Universe trilogy was brilliant. It inspired me to write my own futuristic space novel. I loved her way of writing, of bringing this world that didn't exist to life--this new technology, new words, new people. She is an amazing designer of new worlds and beautiful characters. I can read Across the Universe a thousand times and never get bored.

Maybe I'm being too lofty in my aspirations, but one day I'd love to be on someone's writing heroes list. And it'd be really cool if, someday, one of my favorite authors has my book on their must read list.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Does Anybody Read This Thing?

I write this thing everyday, and I wonder if anyone reads it. I mean, I know that a few people come to the site every day and click on the post, but I don't know if it's just my family or other people who actually want to read this thing. If it is just my family, HI! Love you guys!

Maybe I'm not too great at writing blogs and keeping people's attention like this. I'm better at telling long stories that have a lot of background and everything. Doing just a few paragraphs on a blog is hard for me. It's hard to convey something in just a few paragraphs. Especially when I'm not sure who reads this thing. Is it other writers? Readers? People who are curious?

This is my website. My presentation as a writer. Sometimes I want to make it professional and have everything to do with writing and books. Other times, I just want to be funny and have a few things that can make people smile and break the monotony just a little bit. Is that so bad?

So this one is going to be a bit short. Because I really want to ask the question, does anyone really read this? And if you do, who are you?

What makes you read my blog?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Writing a Novel in a Month

I've done it once, and it nearly exhausted me. Writing a novel in a month. And that was pushing myself to write at least 2,000 words a day.

People do it all the time. There's even a month long contest for it. But that doesn't mean it's easy.

One thing about writing a novel in a month is that it doesn't leave much time for planning. You just kind of start writing and hope the story fleshes itself out as you go. Of course, that's how I write so it works for me. But that doesn't mean that it's easy to do.

I wrote Barren in a month, and I haven't gone back to it since. It's one of the things that I'm planning on doing to get through the frustration I'm feeling about being bored with writing. I might need to spend more time editing and doing rewrites rather than trying to build new stories.

It's entirely possible to write a novel in a month, but you're going to get a rough draft rather than a polished story. Like I said, there's little time for planning and going through to build characterization when you've only got 30 days to write something. It might be a self-imposed deadline or you may be participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). But it's still an epic thing to write a novel in just four weeks.

I'd love to be able to do it again, though. Mostly because it made me stretch myself. And it was fun. Creatively exhausting, but fun.

Perhaps I'll take part in NaNoWriMo this year and see what I can come up with.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Is It Normal to Get Tired of Writing?

Sometimes I wonder if I've burned myself out on writing. Pushed myself too hard and too fast. Because there are times when I want to just give up, mostly because I'm frustrated with writer's block and simple exhaustion. I get tired--tired of writing, tired of a particular story, tired of a set of characters. Even though I love them, sometimes I get bored beyond reckoning.

I wonder, is that normal? Is it normal to get tired of writing like that?

I have half a dozen different stories that I want to work with, but that doesn't mean that I don't get tired of things sometimes. Right now, for example, I'm trying hard to fight the writer's block that's keeping me from working on River's Queen. And I'm dealing with exhaustion and frustration in the fact that I'm so tired that I don't have the energy or the desire to work on rewrites for Fire's Princess. That, my friends, is really bad since I have a release in June. I've got to get to work, you know.

Do other writer's go through this? Is that one of the reasons why it takes so long between book releases? I know full time authors have deadlines and there are many more steps involved between first draft and release, but I wonder if some of the problem is just because they get bored with a story.

Because Lord knows I get bored sometimes.

I suppose that's when world hopping comes in. I should do that more often, shouldn't I?

Maybe that's how I'll get over this bought of trouble. I'll do a bit in River's Queen and then hop over to the Off World series or another set of novels I wanted to work on. I know I've got a dozen different ideas of things that I want to write, maybe if I stop trying to force myself to work on the same story over and over, I can get rid of the tiredness and the exhaustion.

So maybe it is normal to get tired of writing. Just of writing the same thing.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Writing the Love Triangle

Well, it's Valentine's Day. I sat down and tried to figure out what kind of post I would do for today. Maybe I'd make a list of my favorite romances or the greatest love stories. Maybe I'd do a review of a romantic comedy or something like that. But then I thought about the fact that I was writing a novel with a love triangle. And I wondered, how is it that most young adult novels end up with love triangles in them? Why do they have them as plot devices? And why are they so important?

I think it's a common thing for young adults and new adults to be drawn to and attracted to more than one person at a time. That's okay because at that age you're trying to figure out what you want in your partner and what kind of qualities are desirable to you. And sometimes that can be a point of a lot of drama in your life. I like that young adult novels are real like that, because romance and relationships are a large part of the lives of young adults. But it isn't everything. It isn't the be all and end all.

Writing a love triangle and using it as a plot device is both easy and difficult. It's easy because it's like breathing--love is natural and it's natural to be conflicted about being in love. It's difficult because as a writer, you don't want to make it the central part of the life of your main character. It isn't everything, it isn't the central part of their being, it isn't all that is the part of them that is the be all and end all. The love triangle is a useful plot device because it provides drama and it's easy to relate to for readers. It's something that everyone has gone through at least once in their life--being torn between loving or liking two different people. Or at least having to make a choice between two different paths in life.

While I don't think that the love triangle is the central part of a young adult novel, I think it can be important in highlighting the choice between two opposing paths for the main character. Take the Elemental Royals Trilogy for example. The main character, Rosalind, could choose Gavin and live a life that was simple but always on the lookout for trouble. Or she could choose Andrew and have a life where she was safe, but where she would have to bear the weight of a crown and two kingdoms. It isn't so much about the fact that she loves two different men. It's about the fact that there are two choices of a life for her that she could have, choices where she could be happy and have a different kind of life. I think that's the real importance of the love triangle.

And that's why I write them.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What I Learn from My Dogs

My dogs are something else. Sometimes I love them to pieces and it's all I can do to keep myself from rolling along the floor and wrestling with them. Other times, they frustrate me to no end and all I want to do is hide in another room so I don't have to fight with their questionable training (I'm no Caesar Milan).

They're beautiful black and brown beagles, and I love them to death. They're lovely dogs that I just fell in love with the moment that I got them. Well--we got them since one of them belongs to my sister. But they are beautiful and 99% of the time, I love them. It's just that 1% of the time that I get frustrated with them. And that's only when my days aren't going well to start with.

Watching them over the past three years that we've had them, I've learned a couple things from them. Dogs are great for learning lessons from, and it's important for dog owners to watch their pets to see what they can be taught.

I think the first thing I learned from my dogs was to enjoy the little things. They love it when they get a little treat. It doesn't have to be a steak or anything fancy. They just like a little bit of food from my plate or a dog treat from the bag. They enjoy lying in the sun and taking a snooze in the middle of the day. For them, the little things are big things.

They live in the moment, because that's all they have. They stop and explore new smells, new sights. They're easily distracted because they want to see everything. It's amazing to watch them do things, to explore their home every day as if it's something brand new. It's wonderfully breathtaking.

Sometimes they have little disagreements. They fight and wrestle, snapping at each other and snarling. Then, five minutes later, they're snuggled up together in their beds together with no problem. They don't hold grudges. They don't keep the fighting over the same thing. They just let the problem go and make themselves happy.

My dogs are some of the best teachers I've ever seen. I've learned so much from them, and I hope I have a long time with them to learn even more.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Why "Sleepy Hollow" is My New Favorite Show

I'm a huge television fan. Maybe you've figured that out by now. And for as long as I can remember, I've loved ghost stories and other things like that. When I was a kid, my favorite television shows (that weren't science related) were Scooby Doo and Buffy. I loved stuff like that.

As I got older, I started watching Angel, Roswell, and Supernatural. I'm a huge fan of The Walking Dead (did you SEE that midseason premiere on Sunday?!). See a pattern here? I love things that are scary, that are supernatural and unusual. I like things like that.

So it came as no surprise when I fell in love with Sleepy Hollow, the new show on FOX that just had it's season finale a few weeks ago.

It's a brilliant show with two great protagonists--Abby Mills and Ichabod Crane. It's such a fantastic story about the secret war that goes on in the world between the forces of good and evil. The best way I can describe it is that it's like Supernatural and the History Channel had a baby and it came out made of awesome.

Plus Tom Mison is really cute.

There. I said it. Don't judge me.

The stories are so intricate and the story arch is beautiful. It pulls in pieces of Washington Irving's original story and weaves it into this modernized world of Sleepy Hollow. It's a Revolutionary soldier lost in a modern world with only a police lieutenant to guide him. Their fast friendship, easy camaraderie, and romantic tension are more than enough to keep me watching every week.

Let alone the machine gun toting headless horseman.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

When Being a Nerd is Okay



Words that used to have such horrible, negative connotations to them. In some circles, they still do. But I find that it's much more accepted these days to be a nerd or a geek. Particularly because, well... it is the nerd that has inherited the earth.

I'm not saying that I'm one of those nerds who can speak Klingon (though I do know a bit of Elvish) or a super-computer nerd. But I do consider myself a nerd in the traditional sense of the word. I love to learn. I love school. And I love to talk to people about the things that I know a lot about.

Sometimes it's a good thing to be a nerd. Take my job for instance. I work as a tutor. I get to work with students, get them excited about school and learning, and be a nerd all at the same time. And I get paid for it! How cool is that?! Who wouldn't want a job like that?

Being a nerd is just part of who I am. I've always been that "smart" girl. Mostly because I was born without one iota of athletic ability save being able to toss people in the air as a cheerleader. I tried basketball, but barely made a team and that was because they had to take me because it was a recreation league. Sports was just never my thing. But academics... oh, that was a place where I could shine.

And I did.

I think that's why I love to write so much. It's just another way for me to be a nerd and be happy about it. And, I suppose, it's why I love to read. I did Battle of the Books in elementary school and debate in high school. I got to be a nerd and build my confidence in myself. And my vocabulary.

Being a nerd is something that I'll always hold proudly. It's part of me.

Maybe it's my favorite part.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Writing and a Full Time Job

It's easy to write when I have nothing else to do. But when the school year starts and I have to go back to work, it's hard to write. I'm usually so tired that I have no creativity or desire to sit down and start writing. It's enough for me to just get through the day.

I hate that I don't feel like writing all day. I wish I could do it. My life's goal is to be a full time writer so that I can spend every day planning new stories, writing things and building new worlds and characters. If only I could do that every day.

But I can't. At best, I get to write on my days off and on the weekends, but sometimes I have so much to do that it isn't even funny. I don't feel like writing on my days off. I'd rather read or just sleep to get myself back to normal. And by the time I'm back to normal, it's time to go back to work again.

When I do get to write, sometimes I feel rushed. And I worry that what I'm working on isn't very good. I don't even have the energy to edit things. I'm just exhausted.

Before, I had a list of things I wanted to do every day. I wanted to be able to write a couple thousand words a day and finish another novel by the summer. I don't know how well that's going to work though. But with working a full time job, it's a miracle if I can edit a half of a chapter in a single day, let alone get any writing done. I wish I could, but it doesn't always go that way.

It's hard to make myself into a full time writer while I'm working what is pretty much a full time job. I have to deal with being exhausted and frustrated with other things when all I wanted to do was to read and write. I just want to be able to live my dream and not have to deal with the stress of having to do two things at once that demand so much of my time.

Is that too much to ask?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

How to Make a Great Cup of Coffee

I am a huge coffee lover. But I'm incredibly particular about how I take my coffee. If I can't get to a Starbucks or place like that and I have to make it myself, I have to do it one of a few ways. I'm going to tell you my recipe for a great cup of coffee, especially if you aren't a fan of bland coffee taste.

What you'll need:

  1. 2/3 cup of milk (regular or chocolate)
  2. 1 packet of Nestle hot chocolate (Rich Milk Chocolate or Chocolate Caramel)
  3. 1/2 cup of hot coffee (regular or decaf)
Great cup of coffee number 1

Brew your coffee like normal. While the coffee is brewing, warm 2/3 cup of chocolate milk in the microwave for one minute and thirty seconds. Mix with 1/2 cup of coffee and stir. Add sugar to taste if needed.

Great cup of coffee number 2

Brew your coffee like normal, While the coffee is brewing, warm 2/3 cup of regular milk in the microwave for one minute and thirty seconds. Mix the milk with one packet of either original or chocolate caramel hot chocolate mix. Add 1/2 cup of coffee and stir. Add sugar to taste if needed. Top with whipped cream.

Who needs a coffee house where they charge you six bucks for something you can make at home for two? I have one of these options practically every morning. And they always start my day off fantastically.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Comfort Food for the Creative Dry Spell

I'm in that place right now where it's hard for me to keep my creativity working. It's hard for me to keep myself in the space of mind to write and get things down. Sometimes I worry that I've gotten the best of my writing down. I worry that I'm going to end up writing crap for the rest of my life.

So I try to get myself back in that frame of mind to write and be creative. And sometimes that comes around because of being in the form of being comfortable. That means I have to indulge in my comforts--comfort behaviors, comfort shows, comfort foods.

That's what this post is about. Comfort foods for the creative dry spell.

There's this little Mexican place in my town that makes the best marinated chicken and vegetables in the world. They call it the pollo fundido, or the "molten chicken." It's marinated and grilled with vegetables, then covered with cheese sauce and served with a side of latin rice. I love to eat there, and I always get extra cheese sauce with mine. It's the best tasting stuff in the world, and I always know I'm going to feel better after I have some, especially when it comes on warm tortillas.

Then there's Ben & Jerry's. How can you go wrong with eating Ben & Jerry's ice cream? Honestly, it's probably some of the best stuff in the world. In their scoop shops, the chocolate is amazing. But when we're talking pints in the store, I'll always go for the Karamel Sutra if it's there. It's caramel ice cream and chocolate ice cream with chocolate chunks around a little column of caramel. I can literally eat an entire pint in one sitting if you don't take it away from me.

But maybe the biggest comfort food for me when I'm in my creative dry spells is just chocolate milk. I know it seems childish, but it reminds me of times when I was happy, and I always seem to write better when I'm happy. Chocolate milk is the best thing in the whole wide world, and it always will be.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Learning to Stay Out of Things

This isn't actually what I had planned for my blog post today, but I feel like it's something that I should write about. Mostly because I'm finding recently that it's something that I have a lot of problems with. Sometimes I have difficulty staying out of things that are sort-of not my business.

When I say "sort-of" not my business, I mean that it doesn't directly affect me, but the fall out of whatever happens is going to. I mean that it may not be entirely my business right at this moment, but it will be later when everything hits the fan and the consequences arise. That's when it becomes my problem, and I'm expected to get involved.

But right now I'm having to learn to keep my opinions to myself. And that's something that I just have a very hard time doing, especially when it comes to people I love. Perhaps that's why I love to write stories. I can inject my opinion on what the characters do. At least there my opinions are validated.

That was kind of mean and not really very true. It isn't like the people around me don't value my opinions. It's just that there are times when they don't want them. It's better for people to make their own mistakes, right?

Just like you have to let kids learn by making their own mistakes, you have to let the people around you make their mistakes and learn their lessons. Even if you've seen them make the same mistakes before.

That's when it's hardest to keep my opinions to myself.

That's when it's hardest to stay out of things.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

So how's that blog tour coming?

I was actually just sitting down and thinking about the blog tour. I still have tour posts that need to be written and gone through, just to make sure everything is okay. I've got dates to check and a few last minute emails to send out. And I have some giveaway SWAG to get together.

So far the blog tour is going pretty well. Preparations are going well and I've got at least 10 blogs who've signed up to take part in it. I'm hoping to pull in a few more blogs to do a couple more dates, but as of right now we're running through the 15th of March with a final giveaway over on my review blog Ley's Library. I thought about doing the giveaway here, and I still might make the entry form available here, but it's going to really go through my review blog. I'm trying to drive some more traffic over there.

I guess I should put up a checklist for the blog tour, now shouldn't I?

  • Contact blogs (can't have a blog tour without blogs!)
  • Schedule dates.
  • Prep posts and materials
  • Materials to send (bio, post, links, etc)
  • Send materials
  • Follow up
Oh, I think this blog tour is going to be fun!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Creativity and Craziness

For the longest time, people have associated madness and creativity. I'm not saying that I'm mad. But I do feel like I suffer from some boughts of "craziness" when I get overwhelmed with creative energy. It's during these times when I can edit and write and come up with a thousand ideas on the spot. And then there are times when I can barely do anything.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is called bipolar disorder. And I have it.

Bipolar disorder isn't easy to deal with. It effects everything that goes on in your life--your job, your relationships, your self-image. Everything. Sometimes it feels as if it rules your life rather than exists as just a part of it.

The kind of bipolar disorder that I have is the kind that cycles from manic to depressed extremes over relatively short time spans. When I say short time spans, I don't mean minutes or hours. Mostly, I mean days to weeks. I can have weeks where I can barely do anything, and then I'll have a month where I can write an entire novel! It's happened!

My creativity is strongly tied to my moods. If I'm not happy or not feeling well, then I can barely get any writing done. I can't come up with plot or dialogue. I'm frustrated and most people just don't want to be anywhere near me when it comes to these kinds of days. But when I'm happy and full of energy, I can write and edit and plan out new novels with ease. I can be happy and work.

I'm not saying I'm crazy, not by a long shot. But I am saying that there are times that I can be crazy creative.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Joys of Meditation

Sometimes the stress of everything that's going on gets to be a bit too much. It becomes more than I can handle, and I need to find a way to get away from it all. Most of the time, though, that just isn't practical. I can't go on vacation and get away from all of my problems and stress.

Hmm... maybe I should keep this for the end of the month stress buster. But oh well...

So I'm trying to do meditation lately, just as a way to center myself and get rid of some of the frustration. My meditation is all about relaxing and finding some kind of place where I can start from a basic point of clarity. That gives me a chance to avoid the pitfalls of starting my day from a point where I'm already stressed out and I'm already frustrated. And meditation can help me deal with some of the anger and stress that accumulates throughout the day, as well.

My meditation isn't really identified toward anything more than calming myself. I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, so staying calm is something that is incredibly important to me. So here's how I do it:

  1. Get comfortable. Usually I sit cross-legged on my bed with my back against a bunch of pillows.
  2. I tend to put on Enya. Her music is ridiculously calming and relaxing. Especially "Paint the Sky with Stars." That's my meditation music.
  3. I close my eyes and breathe in and out, counting to three for each breath in and each breath out. 
  4. In my mind, I focus my concentration on walking through a personal library. I find a comfortable spot and I relax for a few minutes. I always choose a library because that's where I'm most comfortable outside of my home. I love the smell of books and paper. It makes me happy.
  5. Then I bring myself back to the world around me and start my day.
By that time, I'm usually much more relaxed that I started out feeling. And it makes me a much easier person to deal with during the day.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Being Burnt Out

Sometimes you just do so many things that it's easy to get to the point where you don't want to do any of them at all. You dread doing the things that you were once so excited to do because you feel like you don't have any energy or desire for them any more.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the feeling of being burnt out.

I get that feeling all the time. I do so much that it's easy for me to get burnt out. I can get that feeling several times a day or a few times a week if I'm not careful about how I do things. I work hard with my students at work and I spend a lot of time going over the same material multiple times a week, often the same way. It's easy to get frustrated with the information and with the students. It isn't really their fault. It's just the nature of the job.

The same thing happens at church. I run three major youth ministries at my church, and it's so easy to get burnt out with the responsibility and having to deal with politics and parents. Sometimes I feel like I just want to give up on everything just so I don't have to have that feeling of being stressed and feeling unhappy anymore. I'm tired of being burnt out about things that I volunteer to do. Things like that shouldn't be stressed, now should they?

It happens in writing too. I get burned out with stories, too. And with all the activities I have to do surrounding my writing. Things get a little complicated and more than a little stressful when I devote days to writing and everything like that. I know I want to be a writer professionally, but I never realized how much work it would be. And how unhappy it would make me to spend every waking moment dealing with it.

Vacations from stressful things are key! And I'm going to take a vacation from them right now! I'm going to have a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Are you still talking about writing?

I don't really know how to blog properly. I honestly don't. For the most part, this blog has been about writing. And I'm pretty sure that is getting a bit boring for a lot of people. But I don't know what else to write about. That's what I know.

So I've taken a look around at some other writer's blogs to see what they blog about. Sometimes it's about writing things. Other times it's about things that are going on in their lives or careers. There's very little going on in my life right now with the exception of being all laid up with an ankle that's barely able to hold any weight.

See, we had some lovely snow where I live on Thursday. There was a lot of ice and I fell on it... TWICE. And I twisted my ankle so bad that now it can't hold weight at all. I'm literally on crutches. So what else am I supposed to do?

I'm also running a review blog for books and movies. Blogging takes up so much of my time that I don't know what to do with myself. It's hard to come up with blog topics or things to talk about that don't involve writing. What should I do?

Are there any things you'd like to see me blog about other than just writing? Leave me a comment and let me know what else you'd like to see on the blog.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Avoiding Spoilers in a Synopsis

A synopsis is important for every writer to be able to write. Agents ask for them. You have to be able to put one together for your book for a bookseller, a blog, or a library. The worst part, at least for a synopsis that isn't going to an agent, is avoiding spoilers.

It's so hard not to give things away! I find that I have to write a synopsis over and over to make sure that I don't have spoilers in it. And the simplest things could be spoilers. Who would have thought that a single sentence could give away the twist ending when it didn't come across that way when I was writing it? 

Sometimes I wonder about the best way to go about writing a synopsis. I've read a dozen different articles on the best way to do it, but I always seem to either be giving away too much information or keeping back too much. So I've wondered what kinds of questions I should ask myself when I'm writing my next synopsis.

  • How would I describe this novel to a friend without giving too much away?
  • What would I want to know about this novel before I bought it?
  • How much information would I want to know?
  • What are some books that I love that have examples of a great jacket synopsis?
It's about time to rewrite the synopsis to The Forest's Heir because of the blog tour. And I'll have to start writing the synopsis for The Fire's Princess for it's release in June. It's about time to get some more practice with writing a synopsis.

Edited by - Stephanie King