I’ve Been Writing, I Swear

Okay, so mostly I’ve been making tacos and taking full advantage of my boyfriend’s Netflix account, but I have been writing, which means regular blogging won’t be far away!

I’m still just barely getting back to blogging at the moment, but hopefully I’ll have some posts coming up as I become better at time management.

To prove I’ve been writing, here is an excerpt from my current work in progress,  Let Down Your Hair. This is just a random bit from the middle of the book (currently stands at 43,000 words, so the first draft is about a third done). Feel free to critique as this is only a first draft… Hopefully it won’t take too long to get it to the second.

Enjoy 🙂

Continue reading

The Editing Never Ends

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This was the “final” copy of Wildflower Crown. The one that was completely corrected and without errors. Yeah. That’s like 150 markers. To be fair (to me), there were only two or three actual mistakes/typos. The rest were “Hmmm, I could totally word that better,” or “DIALOGUE TAG WHAT ARE YOU DOING GTFO.”

So yeah, this is a little reminder not to freak out over shitty first drafts. This is the 6th draft now. However, all I have to do is make sure that fixing all those little tab things didn’t mess up any spacing and then format it for Kindle and it’ll be ready for publishing. Depending on how much time it takes to go live, Wildflower Crown will be out sometime this weekend or early next week. (I don’t know about you guys, but I’m excited. My second book! Woo!)

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Seriously got down to one of these things. Didn’t even notice until I’d already shut the book. Good thing I didn’t find two more things to be super picky over :p

How to Make a Book Trailer

With Wildflower Crown set to come out in June, I’ve been looking into making a book trailer. Now, it’s important to note that book trailers are not the same as movie trailers. Especially for indie authors, you’re not going to have actors acting out things that happen in the book and showing clips of it. You can, if you want, but your trailer is likely going to flop. This is an amazing trailer, but unless you’re willing to shell out a lot of money (or you happen to be a talented film student), it isn’t going to happen:

So if you can’t make a trailer like that, what is it going to be like? Well, you’re going to have pictures and words. Narration, possibly, if you or a friend has a nice voice and a nice microphone. Here is an example of a good book trailer than anyone could make:

That was pretty basic, but it covered all the bases. It described the book without sounding like someone just copied the book description and threw it in there, the images were right and went together well, and the music went with it. If this is the kind of book trailer you want to make, read on and I’ll tell you how!

1. Write a script.

This script isn’t going to be the same as your book description. The book description says, “Okay, this is what the book is about,” while the trailer is saying, “Look, this is going to be awesome. Get excited.” When you see a movie trailer, do you always know what’s going on? No, and it can be the same for a book trailer.

Tip: Avoid being too wordy, especially if you’re using text instead of narration. You remember that teacher whose PowerPoint was always a block of text and you could never copy it down in your notes before she changed to the next slide? It will end up just like that.

2. Find pictures.

It’s important to use free stock images (or paid ones, if you’re paying for them). Don’t just Google “Girl with glasses” and use a random picture. That’s violating copyright. Just search around for pictures that go with your script on http://morguefile.com/ or http://www.freeimages.com/ or whatever site you like to use. People likely aren’t going to be watching your video in full screen, but you should still make sure that your images are big enough to look good in the video.

Tip: Sometimes, you need to use search terms that are tangentially related to your subject. I was looking for a castle and couldn’t find one I liked, so I searched “dark” and found dreary castle ruins that fit perfectly.

3. Find music.

Again, don’t just rip a track from Pitbull’s new album and stick it in there. In some cases, this is okay and the worst the artist will do is put ads on your videos and collect money from that, but they could also decide that you’re violating their copyright of their music and have your video taken down. For modern novels obviously modern music could work, so if you want to use a song from your favorite artist see if it’s already on YouTube (if someone else made a lyric video 4 years ago, your video is unlikely to be taken down) and clearly state that you don’t claim ownership of the music.

Tip: Google “royalty free music” for stuff you can use without hassle. Lots of classical music can also be used royalty free.

4. Chose a video editor.

I use Windows Movie Maker. It’s easy and since what I’m doing is simple, it gets the job done. It’s free for anyone with Windows (though if you can’t find it on your computer you may have to download it). If you’re familiar with another program you can of course use that, and there are plenty of other free programs out there (though I’ve never personally used them, so I won’t recommend any).

When editing things, don’t be afraid to use animations, but don’t overdo it. You want some movement to keep things interesting, but you don’t want every picture spinning away or dissolving like a PowerPoint presentation from 2007.

Tip: Take the time to learn to use your program. Fiddle around with random vacation pictures or something and see all the effects you can create.

5. Get a second opinion from someone who won’t sugarcoat things.

Whether you think the trailer you made is awesome or crappy, ask someone else. Depending on how much time you’ve put into it, you might just not be able to see it with a clear head.

Tip: If you’re afraid they might be trying to be nice but you have no one else to ask, purposely make a mistake. Distort an image so it’s very low quality or purposely change the text color so that it’s hard to see. If your test viewer doesn’t say anything, you definitely need a third opinion.

Other tips:

  • Make sure the font is easy to read. It should be big enough and contrast against the background.
  • Don’t be afraid to change/get rid of a picture if it isn’t working out, no matter how cool it looks.
  • Avoid using people in it. My trailer has a man and a woman, but none of the pictures are framed so that you would recognize this person on the street after seeing the trailer.
  • Keep the pictures true to your book. If it’s set in medieval times, don’t have a cell phone sitting in the background.
  • Don’t rush it. If you think you might want to do a book trailer, start way before your book is set to release.
  • Include where people can buy your book, the title, the author, and your blog/website.
  • Try to keep it short, between 1 and 2 minutes.

An example of a bad trailer:

Problems:

  • They compromised “oh, this works” with “oh, this looks cool.”
  • I don’t have any idea what it’s about.
  • It’s too long.
  • Not only is it too long, but it’s too long with nothing happening. This video is more about the cool bubbles and the music than the book.
  • The ending is good, but if someone wasn’t already interested in the book they would have clocked out before seeing that valuable information.

An okay trailer:

Problems:

  • Text is sometimes hard to read.
  • Those swirl animations were nice, but a little overused.
  • Capitalization was weird.
  • There was clearly a watermarked stock image in there.
  • The book cover should have been there longer.
  • It didn’t say where you could get the book.
  • (This seems like it was a student project for a random book, so that’s probably why there are so many issues.)

The good:

  • When the text is readable, it fits with the story.
  • From the script you get a good sense of what the book was about.
  • Though the maker probably didn’t have permission to use them, the pictures went well with the script.
  • The music was good as well, though for something like this I personally wouldn’t have used something modern with lyrics.
  • The length is good.

So, now that you’re all prepared to make your book trailers, feel free to paste the links into the comments! The trailer for Wildflower Crown is out so you can see here how well I took my own advice.

Why I Don’t Like Review Groups

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So my book came out in September and it only have eleven reviews so I figured I’d join a review group. I looked around and found one on Goodreads that would get me two reviews in return for me reviewing two books. I was like alright, seems legit, let’s do it.

I signed up and contacted my first author whose book I was reviewing. I started reading it and I immediately hated the book. It was awful. It was the purplest of prose and it was completely predictable. I couldn’t finish it but I still had to give a review. The rules of the group state that you have to give a three star review (or up) otherwise you have to contact the moderator of the group before posting a 2 star (or lower) review.

If I can’t finish a book because it’s not of interest to me then I won’t rate it, but if I can’t finish it because of bad writing then I feel like the readability of the book is part of what I’m rating and that I am qualified to post my opinion. I know that some people feel differently and think that you can only really rate a book if you finish it but a good ending doesn’t redeem a terrible plot and life is too short to waste it on terrible books.

I believe that that book deserved two stars. The author spent way too much time adding description to the point that some of the sentences no longer made sense. It completely distracted from the actual story and there were a lot of other minor problems I saw as well. However, I didn’t want to contact the moderator and possibly have my book removed from the review circle because someone else wrote a bad book, but I couldn’t rate it what I honestly thought it was worth.

I think that people should always rate books honestly. If people rated Kiss of The Fey with 5 stars across the board I’d think “well it’s perfect make my next book just like it” even if they thought it needed improvement but weren’t willing to tell me. In reality, I think Kiss of The Fey probably ranks around 3.5-4.2. A good story, but not amazing. (I’m not saying don’t buy it, only that my next book will be even better!) Without releasing a second edition and rewriting the whole thing I can’t improve it, but having read the three star reviews I know how I should go forward with my next novels to make them a 4.0 & up.

I didn’t want to rate the book dishonestly, but I didn’t think I should have to justify my opinion. In the end, I gave it three stars. I don’t feel good about it, but I know that going forward I can’t participate in these kinds of swaps again. I won’t take the review down after the group is done because that wouldn’t be fair to the author, but I will be putting it on my “would not recommend” list on Goodreads.

Just so that you know, I will always be honest with you guys and I will never post a book review to this blog that I don’t fully believe. I may lie about my affinity for chickens, there’s no telling there, but in the case of this book review group I had no way of knowing that this would happen and can only prevent it from happening again in the future.

Author Update: Damn the Little Gremlins Messing with My Novels

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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.

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?

Love is Obsession?

I admit that at 20 years of age I am not worldly or experienced, nor have I read all the world of literature has to offer. However, it seems like recently, there is a new trend.

Obsession.

Now, obsession isn’t new. It’s been used before and I’ve read it portrayed accurately: as a character flaw.

I love my boyfriend. I am not obsessed with him. I don’t follow him around, go through his phone, or read through his emails. I don’t demand to be with him any second of the day or threaten bodily harm to anyone who touches him. That would not be sexy. That would be creepy.

Only… is it creepy? 50 Shades of Grey, Twilight, Apolonia, and Viper Game. These are all fairly new books that have not love, not romance, but obsession.

Christian Gray stalks Ana, buys her a new car without her permission, and doesn’t allow her to see her male friends.

Edward watches Bella while she sleeps in addition to all the creepy stuff E. L. James stole for 50 Shades.

In Apolonia, the main character is the interest of two boys, both of whom want to follow her around at all times.

Viper Games, a book I’m reading right now, has a main character who is genetically enhanced to be pretty and sexy, and the male lead threatens to kill his own best friends if they dare touch her. Literally, touch. As in, handshake. He tells her not to seduce another man or else she’ll be responsible for their deaths and he doesn’t want that.

*Sigh* Soooo romantic.

Do women want this? To be obsessed over? Is love no longer enough?

Obsession: an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind

When a man obsessive over you, you are literally all he thinks about. There is no time for fun or games or work or personality, only you. That’s what the characters in these books are like and these books are flying off the shelves. What’s wrong with the market that this is what is selling? Is it something wrong with women? Have we been duped into believing that love isn’t enough, that we need fanatical devotion and obsession?

What are your thoughts on this? Is this a new trend, or just something I’m now picking up on?

“No Boys Allowed: School visits as a woman writer” by Shannon Hale

A quote from the article:

I heard it a hundred times with Hunger Games: “Boys, even though this is about a girl, you’ll like it!” Even though. I never heard a single time, “Girls, even though Harry Potter is about a boy, you’ll like it!”

Source: http://shannonhale.tumblr.com/post/112152808785/no-boys-allowed-school-visits-as-a-woman-writer

This has never actually occurred to me. I’m a girl, and no one has ever said “Oh, you’ll like this even though it’s about a boy.” I’ve never considered not reading something because the book was in a boy’s POV (though I have passed up reading books that I know are by male authors, I am guilty of that). I have thought about how men will not enjoy my books as they are mostly about romance, and that they wouldn’t like my YA stuff because it would all be in a girl’s POV.

I guess it never occurred to me to question it, to say, “Excuse me, I’m a girl and I can read in a guy’s POV, why the fuck can’t boys do the same?”

I urge you to read the original post, especially if, like me, you’ve never thought as deeply on the topic. It just never came to mind.

Thoughts?

My Bookshelf: Blur

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Title: Blur

Author: Kristen Middleton

Genre: Urban Paranormal

Amazon Summary:
“Seventeen year old Nikki and her twin brother, Nathan, move to the small town of Shore Lake to start over after their mother is brutally attacked. When a missing teenager washes up on shore during their first night at the cabin and there are whispers of vampires in Shore Lake, Nikki begins to realize that there are things roaming in the darkness that are far more sinister than what they left behind in the city.”

My Summary:
Something happens that is entirely unrelated to the plot, then they move to VAMPIRE CITAYYYY and shit goes downhill from there.

Cheers:

  • I read it all the way through to the end. I don’t know why, but I did. It may have been one of those “it’s so bad it’s good” things. I was screaming to my boyfriend OH HE IS TOTALLY A VAMPIRE I KNOW IT and was proved right, so that was nice.
  • I liked that it was in Montana. Montana is nice. I want to live there one day, even though I hate snow.

Jeers (possible spoilers):

  • Oh dear lord, this will be quite a list. First off, the book starts off with the mom being raped by her ex-husband, who is a cop. Three months later, they move to Montana to get a fresh start on life, and she immediately flirts with the first guy who talks to her… WHO IS ALSO A COP. Like, what. I could maybe see her going for him if her ex-husband HADN’T BEEN A COP AS WELL so that she could say, “Oh, he’s a cop, I feel comfortable with him” but no, it’s just terrible. Also, the whole raped and abused by her ex-husband thing doesn’t come up again. The author should have picked something different that made them move. Like literally anything.
  • Nathan (MC’s twin brother) has a girlfriend back home and complains about leaving her then immediately flirts with everything.
  • Everything SCREAMS vampires. Like they roll up into town and some pretty girl says “Oh, there’s plenty of things to do here after dark, DUN DUN DUN.” Foreshadowing? You’re doing it wrong.
  • Nikki (the MC) falls in love with Duncan in like two days. Which the author almost handled it well, but she ended up screwing it up. You can fall in love with someone in two days, but not like that. It was poorly written.
  • Nikki (still the MC) ends up falling in love with Ethan FOR NO REASON. OH MY FUCKING GOD I WANTED TO KILL THE AUTHOR. Like, at first, it as good. “I feel these things for him because he’s using vampire powers, but it’s against my will and I don’t want it.” Like, that’s good. Realistic vampire-ness. She recognizes that they’re predators. BUT THEN SHE JUST MAKES OUT WITH HIM WILLINGLY AND SUGGESTS THAT HE FEED FROM HER AND IT’S ALL JUST SO STUPID. It’s the worst love triangle since Twilight. Actually, Twilight was better. I repeat: TWILIGHT WAS BETTER.
  • The pointless cliffhanger.
  • “Miranda.”
  • How no one seemed upset at all the dead girls.
  • How pointless the plot was.

Would I recommend it?:
NO. It COULD have worked, but it didn’t. If the author hadn’t tried writing a series just to milk readers for their money, it could have been they moved, it’s a vampire town, Ethan and the Miranda thing was fully explained, the deaths were like actually explained and investigated, and the killer Dad thing was either cut or handled realistically and made relevant, then it could have worked out even with the bad writing, but this was just one problem after another.

Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/Blur-Night-Roamers-Book-1-ebook/dp/B008S63B2M

 

I finally got a Kindle

I was one of those people who always insisted that hard copies were superior to eBooks, but it became pretty hypocritical of me considering I have an eBook for sale on Amazon. I don’t really buy that many eBooks, but I do download lots of free ones, and since I put my name on the indie book review site, I’ve been getting lots of free copies to review, and sometimes I just don’t feel like reading it on my computer.

I just got the most basic Kindle, the cheapest one they have. It has the same charger as my phone, which is wonderful, and I can make the font small enough that I don’t have to change the page too fast even though I’m a pretty fast reader. The only problem is that they don’t sell cases small enough for that Kindle in stores (it’s 6 inches) so I had to get a bigger case that zips up, rather than the notebook-like cases you usually see.

I will now spend the following vacation time dealing with learning how to use a touch screen :p