The Wonder of Unknown

So, ladies and gents, I’ve bought a ticket to London for September 20th. To clear things up, I’ll remind everyone that I live in America and have never been outside the country. I have no idea what I’m going to do or where I’m going to go, only that sometime around New Years I’ll get my butt to Paris for my flight back (which has yet to be purchased).

Obviously I am excited about this trip. In 77 days I will be flying to London. (Well, technically I’ll be flying to Canada then Iceland THEN London, but close enough.) I mentioned before that I was planning to go to Europe and I have a pitiful travel blog here (where I already mention this trip), but now it’s set in stone. I don’t know how much money I’ll have or where I’ll be going or if I’ll end up homeless and begging my parents to pay for me to come home, but either way I’m ready.

So, what does this mean for this blog? Well, two things. One, I’m going to be working as much as possible between now and the 18th of September, so I’m not going to be posting that often, but I’ll aim for at least once every other week. It also means that I’ll be on a writing hiatus after I leave–I’ll still write, but it will be on a tiny tablet and that won’t have the processing power to edit anything, so nothing new will be released–but that I will probably be posting more book reviews if I ever find my Kindle.

ALSO, if any of you live in Europe and want to meet up, I’m game with that. Since I’m going during November I plan to go to a NaNoWriMo meet-up just to meet locals, so if you’re near a major city we may because to get coffee or something.

For now, bare with me as I get overwhelmed and freak out over my impending departure, and please note that I have not died, I’m just selling my soul at a fast food restaurant in order to fund my trip.

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How to Run a Book Review Blog

books

So, there are a few things you need to do in order to run a book review blog. The list below should help out anyone new to blogging or who thinks their blog could use some improvement.

First, start a blog. I happen to be partial to WordPress.

Second, read a book. Preferably nothing by Ayn Rand, but that’s just me.

Next, review the book with a clear rating, either through a number of stars (which you explain the meaning of somewhere) or simply whether or not you would recommend it to other people.

Make it easy for authors to contact you. Either put your email address up or use a contact form thing on a designated contact page. If you run a book review blog, you can get free books. If you didn’t know that, you do now. It makes it easier for authors to spam tell you about their book they’re giving away for free. All they want in return is an honest review (and if they say “give me five stars or else” just ignore them).

A note: if you do want free books but not a certain genre, make that clear. Some authors will still ignore that, but if you don’t want to receive erotica and you’re under eighteen, usually stating that clearly will reduce the probability that authors will send requests to read their naughty things against your wishes. (However, I’m not sure if stating that you’re underage could welcome other safety problems as I’m 21 and haven’t thought about cyber security in a while… but yeah, don’t be Catfished by pedophiles. And stuff. I’m off topic.)

Finally, post book reviews regularly. It doesn’t have to be every day, but post often enough to make sure your blog looks active. This may also encourage you to read more, which is obviously a plus.

Random Writing Prompts

Anyone out of ideas for a story? Anyone tired of their current project and want to get sidetracked for a few hundred words? Well I’ve got some writing prompts for y’all. (I’m trying out this whole y’all thing. I’m not from the south but it’s such an efficient way of saying “you guys.”)

  • Write a story in the POV of an inanimate object. (Alright so this is just because I wrote a story in the POV of a banana but whatever.)
  • Write a story with only dialogue.
  • Write about something that happens in the great outdoors.
  • Write about something that happens in a fast food restaurant.
  • Write about someone being in incredible pain. (Emotional or physical, whichever.)
  • Write a character who swears every time they talk. (This may be me. The other night at work I called a chicken sandwich a “son of a whore.” Don’t be afraid to get creative.)
  • Write a story that starts off angry and ends up happy.
  • Write a story featuring two people with sexual or gender orientations you’ve never written about before.
  • Write about an argument such as dogs vs. cats or Pepsi vs. Coke. Kill off the loser.
  • Write about a serial killer doing the things in his mundane life.

Go crazy, guys. Make sure you post to your story below if you end up writing one.

Crafting the Perfect Kiss

Pucker up!

Pucker up!

I write romance. I read romance. I watch romance. I live romance. One of the biggest deals in romance is the first kiss, yet for the life of me I am not satisfied with the quality of the kissing scene in Wildflower Crown. I want them to be better than my previous novel, to set the stage for the rest of my books. I want to make women swoon! And men too, I guess, but I’m pretty sure they don’t swoon all that often.

Bro, stop breaking the forth wall as she cleans your teeth.

Oh yeah baby clean those teeth.

My problem is that my scenes appear too mechanical. I struggle with balancing describing what is actually happening and not having it read as “insert Tab A into slot B.” Maybe I’m the only one who will notice it, in the end, but if I get it smooth enough that when the person who crafted (which would be me) it is absorbed into the scene then I know I will have done a good job.

"I'm so wet right now." "So am I."

“I’m so wet right now.” “So am I.”

However, when I try to veer away from the mechanical and go towards the metaphorical, I end up making it sound ridiculous. Maybe this would be a little more forgivable in modern romance, where at least you can say “Electricity shot through her,” but I find myself stuck on this one scene thinking, “What the hell do I write now?”

“He leaned in and kissed her. Their lips came together gently, like two pillows smashing together. Her lips were soft as if he was rubbing his face against one of the aforementioned pillows. Heat spread through him like someone had dropped boiling fondue on his chest then washed it off with very warm water.”

Om nom nom give me that wittle tongue.

Om nom nom give me that wittle tongue.

Needless to say, the scene above will not be in the final draft, but I’ll be damned if you don’t read Wildflower Crown and think, “Oh well that was a nice kiss.” I’ve decided that to accomplish this, I won’t actually use the word “kiss” during the action. It was one of the many tips I found while Googling about, the best of which can be found here.

Author Update: Damn the Little Gremlins Messing with My Novels

authorupdate

I mentioned in a post before (I think) that I downloaded a new text-to-speech program that I found and enjoyed. I put Kiss of The Fey in chapter by chapter to sort out the remaining typos. I think it was only a month or so ago that I did the same thing by reading Kiss of The Fey on my Kindle, and I was sure that all the typos were gone, but I still went and found a bunch more with the text-to-speech program.

Clearly, little gremlins have been going through my work and putting typos where they have no business being. Obviously, I am not amused. If they put in any more after this, I am just throwing up the white flag in surrender. I can’t afford an editor and I cannot read through Kiss of The Fey another time this year. Maybe the next two years. I just hate it so much that it will cause me physical pain to do so until I take some time away from it.

Don’t get me wrong, I still like the story and I’m still proud of myself, but I’ve read it something like a dozen or more times in the last year and not only will it hurt, but I think that if I read it again I may actually die.

I need more reviews for Kiss of The Fey both overall and ones that don’t mention typos, so I’ll be doing a free promotion on Amazon next weekend. At the end it will also include the first sneak peak at Wildflower Crown! Just the prologue so far, though both the prologue and the first chapter will be available before Wildflower Crown goes on sale.

As for Wildflower Crown, the publishing date is set right now to be June 1st, but I don’t know if that will happen as planned or not. I just got finished with the 3rd draft and so I don’t get sick of it like I have with Kiss of The Fey, I’ll be waiting a few days before starting the final content edit… which will then be followed by heavy proofreading. And more gremlins. Yay. At the very least, reading it over with the text-to-speech program FIRST should save me a lot of grief.

I think my writing has improved since my previous novel and that Wildflower Crown will be a really enjoyable read. Hopefully. (Obviously I write with the intention of having other people read it and enjoy it!) It’s little more fun than Kiss of The Fey, I think the characterization is a little better, and hopefully in my initial release when I go around begging for reviews the reviews won’t mention any typos. I’m not messing around this time!

-Charlotte Cyprus

P.S. Not writing related, but it is FINALLY warming up here. By warm, I do mean 40-50 degrees, but AS IT SNOWED ON TUESDAY I WILL GLADLY ACCEPT 50 DEGREES. Of course, April showers bring May flowers, so it’s now going to rain for like 30 days straight, but as long as it keeps getting warmer and my foot keeps healing I will not complain.

How To Be The BEST Author Ever

So I’ve been an author for six months now and I think I can say without a doubt that I know everything there is to know about being an author. Since there is literally nothing left for me to learn, I’ve decided to be generous and share my vast knowledge with my lowly followers.

1. Stop reading!

Seriously, a lot of people will tell you to do the exact opposite, but don’t listen to them! Reading will only cloud your judgment and make your own novel worse. Do you want that to happen? NO. Not only that, but you might accidentally lift elements of that story and end up PLAGERIZING. You SERIOUSLY don’t want to do that, do you? And you waste so much time reading when you SHOULD be using that time for WRITING.

2. Make sure EVERYONE knows about your book!

Marketing is very important! If it’s not obvious that you have a book out when people visit your blog, you’re not going to sell any books! Make sure that there are AT LEAST three links to your book on every blog post, otherwise it’s like you don’t even have a book out. You should always ALWAYS always tell new followers/ commenters of your book and where you can find it. I like to use a copy/paste message with a link to my book on Amazon that I send to everyone who comments on, likes, or follows my blog! This is also a good idea on Twitter, to immediately tell new followers where to buy your book!

3.  Never accept a bad review!

Like I said, marketing is very important! If your book has bad reviews, no one is going to want to read them! You have to be aggressive and go after the bad reviewers, explaining how they’re wrong and telling them to either remove their bad review or change it to AT LEAST a four star review. NEVER accept a one or two star review. That’s career suicide!

4. Make up some Frequently Asked Questions to post an FAQ on your blog!

I understand that many of you starting out may not have enough fans to put together an FAQ, so you can just make some up! By acting like the questions you’re answering are asked a lot it will make it look like you’re more popular than you actually are and get people interested in you and your work!

5.  Always write for the market.

Being an author is a JOB. You’re in it for the money! If you write a book no one wants to read, you’ll end up under a bridge! ALWAYS write about whatever is currently trending. Right now, I’d suggest a vampire BDSM book!

6.  Make sure readers know what your main character looks like!

What is a story without a main character? NOTHING! Your readers NEED to know what your main character looks like, from the color of their eyes to that birthmark on their left buttock. The best way to do this is to open your book with your character looking in the mirror and describing everything they see! It’s both comprehensive and immediate, so your readers will start off knowing just what they look like down to the smallest details!

7. Don’t worry about consistency!

All you need is a good story. If your character loves lemons in chapter one but hates them in chapter ten, no one is going to notice! As long as the story goes on, it doesn’t matter if things are consistent as long as there is lots of action!

8. Make sure your story has an agenda!

You aren’t writing JUST to make money; your book has to SAY something! Whether it be about gay rights or abortion or feminist issues, make sure your book has a hidden agenda! Your book is useless if it just tells a story; it also needs an important lesson that will stick with your readers!

9. Don’t worry about your book cover!

You know the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? It’s completely true! Readers don’t care what your covers look like, they’re only reading your description! Just look at these covers, and these books are published! [1] [2] [3] [4]

Alright, but in all seriousness, don’t listen to any of this advice. (Also, to be fair, books with terrible covers can sell [1] [2] but only if you already have a huge fan base and a bunch of books already out.)

How To Be Sarcastic

Those who care about the feelings of others need not apply.

Step One:

Start by adding comments like “Oh, really?” or “I never would have guessed!” after someone says something incredibly obvious. If the person does not realize that you are being sarcastic, continue making them explain whatever they have just told you while you listen with rapt attention.

Step Two:

Never give people a straight answer. If someone asks you how you feel after you broke your leg, for example, say something along the lines of “I feel spiffing! The doctors think that by next week I’ll be back on my feet and taming lions in no time!” The use of outdated language and over-the-top enthusiasm will ensure people that you are being completely sincere and are not at all insulting them.

Step Three:

Talk in a dead tone of voice. Never put any emphasis on a word unless issuing a direct insult. For example, “You wouldn’t believe how excited I am!” should be said in a flat voice, while “I can’t believe how interesting you are!” should have emphasis, so that even those with the thickest of skulls will realize that you are mocking them.

Step Four:

In the event of someone telling you that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, tell them that stupidity is the highest form of entertainment.

Step Five:

Tell people absolutely random shit. End the sentence with, “What do you think?” For example, if someone asks about the weather, reply with something along the lines of “It may be cloudy now, but I sense that a giant tornado will come and carry us to Oz where we may frolic in the sun with members of the lollipop guild. It’s going to rain, what do you think?”

Step Six:

Always use sarcasm in the presence of authority figures. This includes teachers, parents, bosses, and the police. For example, when asked if you were the one involved in hit and run case, reply with “No, of course it wasn’t me! His brains were all over my car, there was a positive ID on my license plate, and four witnesses saw me drive away, but it couldn’t have been me! I’m sure it was just someone who I happened to have all the above things in common with.”

Step Seven:

Once you have mastered the art of sarcasm, use it on a daily basis. Eventually, you will become so good at it that no one will ever be able to tell whether or not you’re being serious. For example, when your friend asks you about the game last night, and you reply that it was very exciting, your friend will roll your eyes and tell you not to be so goddamn sarcastic. What they won’t know is that you actually were excited about the game, and that you are just such a master that they’ll never know what you’re truly thinking.

Olé.

Are you writing the right story?

Being part of a writing community is fantastic. Whether it be a writers’ group on Facebook (like I’m in) or a close group of friends, it’s nice to know that you can share your passion with someone who understands and get feedback on your work.

Lately, I’ve found myself asking a lot of questions.

“Would you hate this character if he did X?”

“Does this scene come off too creepy?”

“Is this typical for erotica, or should I take it out because it’s not really that sexy?”

While it’s great to have feedback, I realized that I was asking too much. If I asked a question every time I had a doubt about something in my novel, it’d be a list of questions as long as the novel itself. It’s nice to hear that yes, your character Bob does come off as being sensitive and edgy, as you wanted, but if you rely too much on what others say, you’re going to lose your writing voice.

On the same group I started asking too many question to, I see a girl who posts something almost every single day.

“Will this sell even though my character is a strong female who talks back?”

“Will people still buy this even though the romance happened a little too fast?”

“Would you buy a story about a prince and princess if the princess is really smart?”

Basically, this woman is obsessed with what will make her book marketable and what other people want her to write. You should write for your fans, yes, but you HAVE to write for yourself. If you’re not, then you’re going to be miserable.

When you ask yourself whether something is working out or not, you don’t need to ask someone else’s opinion. Analyze the scene in relation to the story at large. Go with your first instinct when writing it all in the first draft, then agonize over those little details in the second or third. The time for getting opinions is during editing, when you have an editor or beta readers looking over your work.

Sometimes you may ask yourself “Am I writing the right story?” If it’s a story you feel needs to be told about characters with strong voices that you’re proud of, then the answer is yes, and you don’t need anyone else’s confirmation to tell you that.

What have you written that you’re most proud of?

Speed Editing

rush

I’d like everyone to repeat after me: Procrastination is bad. Procrastination is bad. Procrastination is bad. 

I am FINALLY ready to start editing Wildflower Crown. It needs SO much work. I need to stick with the schedule I set to get it published on time, hopefully in May or June. (I forget which day I actually circled on the calender, but it’s set for when the weather is warmer.)

Since I procrastinated so much, I want to have the first draft edited by next weekend, not including scenes that need rewritten or just written period. (That will be for the second draft. I’ll have two weeks for that.)

Sometimes I forget that writing is work. It’s fun and I love it, but it really is difficult at times.

I may be a little absent from WordPress this week, so now you’ll know why. It’s because I’m trying to get my ass in gear. (Also, I’m not going to talk about how much school work I have on top of everything. AND on top of that, I have the hiccups. Poor me, I know. :p )

Is anyone else editing too?