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

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How to Write 5000 Words in Two Hours

11. Watch Futurama.

22. Eat a sandwich.

33. Play around with making book covers.

44. Play Everquest 2 as a hairy barbarian.

55. Eat a chocolate chip cookie.

66. Take a nap.

77. Oh, uh, write, I guess.

 

…and now it’s time for another nap!

Just Because You Can Write Doesn’t Mean You Should

I’ve known I would be a writer since I was in first grade. My teacher asked us to write three double-spaced pages about a class trip to the moon, and I wrote 10 single-spaced pages (which may be why she always hated me, I hadn’t quite mastered pronoun use at that stage of my life). I wrote “novels” until I was in high school, and then the more reading I did the better my writing got. My high school English teacher praised my writing and encouraged me to keep going, and I continue to improve now.

Writing isn’t easy, and it isn’t supposed to be. If it was, everyone could do it. Writing is a skill like anything else. You don’t expect to be good at basketball the first try or for everyone to be able to swim like an Olympian, so why does everyone seem to think that if you want to write, you can?

I’m not saying that writing should be exclusive. If you want to write, go crazy. Enjoy yourself. However, know that you might not be good enough to get published. I love soccer, but I knew I wasn’t good enough to play for college (and I was only good enough for high school because we had a no cut policy and we were constantly in need of players) so now I can only play for fun. It doesn’t bother me, because I don’t need validation as a soccer player. I know I’ll never be one of the best, but that doesn’t stop myself from enjoying the game when I play.

One of the problem with self-publishing is that it’s so easy that everyone thinks they can become an author. They devalue writing with that kind of attitude. If you like writing, that’s great. Write all you like and take criticism gracefully to allow yourself to improve, but until you honestly believe that you’re a good writer and other people agree, don’t self-publish. You would profit much more from posting your writing on a free site for people to offer helpful critiques, rather than making unsuspecting readers buy a piece of work that should have never been published and making them angry over wasting that money.

I worked in the writing center of my school and let me tell you, I saw some terrible papers. One, of them was, written. Like this. And when, I asked the, girl. Why she, was using. Unnecessary. Punctuation. She said. “I didn’t know sentences could be that long.” Another person’s phrasing was absolutely terrible, and some guy’s paper was so boring and tedious it made my eyes bleed to revise it. These people knew they were bad writers, but there are some people out there who write just as bad but want to be a writer, so they convince themselves that they’re good and that other people are wrong.

Someone asked for feedback on their book, saying that it had been rejected a bunch of times and wanted to know if it was them or the publishers. I read it, couldn’t bare to finish it, and gave her my notes on what was wrong (which was a lot of things, from characterization to plot to grammar to being unrealistic). She ignored me, bashed me for being rude, and then went on to self-publish. Do you think that that book will help the author? She’s not going to make any money on a bad book, and she’s not going to improve in her writing when the reviews will say “don’t buy this book” rather than “maybe if the characters showed some sympathy in chapter five” or “the plot needs to be wrapped up better at the end.”

General Tips to Improve Your Writing:

  1. Take criticism. If someone says “your plot is weak,” they are not being rude. If they say “THIS SUCKS” and nothing else, then they’re being rude. Ignore them and seek more specific reactions.
  2. Write more. The more you write the more you’ll improve.
  3. Read more, especially in your genre. It will help you understand how plots and sentence structure works.

Now, the title of this is a little misleading. If you like writing, I’m not telling you to stop. However, I want every self-published novel I read to be just as good as the traditionally published novels. I want the stigma of self-publishing to go away. The stigma is there because of the people who think writing is for everyone. I want everyone who self-publishes an amazing novel to be able to get the pubic to read that novel, but they can’t do that if those readers first find a terrible self-published book and now won’t touch them.

This post isn’t just criticizing bad writers, it’s just some tough love. Wouldn’t you want someone to tell you that you were a terrible singer before you went on American Idol? (Although, some of those people don’t graciously accept Simon’s decision when they’re told that they’re terrible, just like some people don’t accept that they’re bad writers when they’re told.) A general rule of thumb should be that if you can’t find at least two unbiased non-friends and non-family members who themselves are writers that say you’re a good writer, you probably need to keep practicing.

Writing is a gift, just like musical talent or athletic skills. We need to keep treating it as something special, not as something everyone can do.

I’ll keep writing anyway!

I'll also keep taking pictures!

I’ll also keep taking pictures!

I can’t quit my day job because I have student loans to repay. I’ll keep writing anyway.

I have one friend who thinks I’m going to sell millions of copies of my books (unrealistic) but basically everyone else just says “meh” when I say I’ve already published one book. I’ll keep writing anyway.

The attitude today seems to be that anyone can write a novel. Oh well. I’ll keep writing anyway.

I’ve only reached a handful of people with my blog, and even fewer with my book. I’ll keep writing anyway.

I might not be the next big hit, or even a hidden gem among writers. I might just be average. I’ll keep writing anyway.

My books aren’t some literary explosion of genius, they’re just meant to entertain. I’ll keep writing anyway!

There’s no daily reward for my work. I don’t save lives or change people’s outlook on life. Each word can sometimes be a struggle, and I don’t see the fruits of my labor until months after I write that first word. I’ll keep writing anyway!

I don’t have a writing nook. I don’t have scheduled writing hours that I can write. I don’t have a ritual, I don’t have time to write some days, and sometimes I feel like the real world has sucked out all of my writing energy. I’ll keep writing anyway!

My professors are not amused. Too biased. Too personal. Try to be serious. I’ll keep writing anyway!

I can’t write everything I want without giving up my real life. I’ll keep writing anyway!

I need to keep my apartment clean and make time for my boyfriend. I can’t skip showering to write, and I need to eat at some point. Sleep, too. I’ll keep writing anyway!

Life will go on. I’ll keep writing anyway!

 

A reaction to this post (check it out!)

End of November

Alright, now that November is over I need to actually finish my novel still. It doesn’t even seem half done, so there is going to be a lot of work and then a LOT of editing to do. Here is my to-do list:

  • Pass all my classes
  • Finish Colors of The Sky (or whatever I decide to call it)
  • Print out Only in Whispers with my school’s print credits (put that tuition money to good use)
  • Make Kiss of The Fey free for KDP
  • Read all the books I’ve stored up on my Kindle app
  • Get foot surgery
  • Actually edit Only in Whispers
  • Decide what to write next, another Fairy Curse Novel or my new urban fantasy series.
  • Go to Florida.

So yeah, I’m going to be trying to get a lot done over the holidays. The hardest part about writing is wanting to write all the ideas at once.

NaNoWriMo For Newbies – Part Five, Reaching 50,000

unrelated awesome picture

unrelated awesome picture

Alright, this is the final installment in the NaNoWriMo for newbies. I’ve been scanning the forums for tips and tricks to reach 50,000 words, and I’ve picked out the best ones, not that I don’t have my own tips to share.

Don’t despair at the quality of your writing. Critics points out that NaNoWriMo does nothing but force writers to churn out shit that will never make it to the final draft, but that isn’t true. NaNoWriMo forces me to write when I would rather sit and watch TV or avoid writing a difficult scene. I have to keep thinking about how the story progresses, and I have to finish it (or get within the last few chapters). Once it’s done, I have all the scenes and character development, or lack thereof. I can see what the story needs and start editing it to make it actually readable. It’s worth the stress just to be able to make it that far.

Don’t edit. At all. Unless it’s going to add to your word count. Decide that you want to change your MC’s uncle’s name? Don’t go back, just make a note of it and keep writing. Decide that you want to hint at a hidden door in your FMC’s walk-in closet? Go ahead and add a paragraph about it in chapter two, then come right back to the end point and keep writing. Typos and grammatical errors will be easy to catch when reading back through, you don’t have to worry about it. It’ll be fine.

Don’t be afraid to jump around. Write the last scene, then the sex scene that will happen later. Go back to the fourth chapter then write an awesome scene that still needs some sort of connecting to your current point. As long as you remember the order, you’ll be fine. (I do everything old school and just sit down and write in a Word doc. If I’m writing ahead in time, I just insert a page break and write it so that it’s at the end of the document whenever I need to put it into the actual timeline.)

Make a playlist that motivates you. Try an inspiration folder (but only when you’re caught up on your word counts!) Give yourself treats for reaching your word goals. I know that week two is the worst, and that it’s hard to get through the period of not-beginning and not-ending, but push through. Write whatever crap comes to mind. It might turn out to be gold, or it’ll serve as a good starting block for a real scene.

Dirty Tricks: Give your character two names, like Mary Jane. Use long chapter titles. Add in blog posts about your writing. Give your character a very long title that he insists on being referred to as, like The Mother of Dragons, The Unburnt, Breaker of Chains, and so on. Have a babbling character who speaks about really mundane things. Do not use contractions. Use all five senses to describe things, even if it’s just to say that your character heard nothing interesting.

Good luck to all of you! If you’re behind on your word count, use the weekend to get ahead. Feel free to share any problems you’re having with your novel. I’m really struggling just to keep thing interesting when not much is happening, but I will push on! I’m having foot surgery over winter break, so I’ll have lots of free time for editing.

Previous parts: The Plot, Your MC, Your Love Interest, Subplots, and Outlining,

100 Things To Do Once You Finish Your Novel

That’s right. At the beginning of the week, I finished the first draft of Only in Whispers. It was amazing, it ended with scenes I never envisioned, and it made me realize how far my characters had come. It’s weird to not feel pressured to write constantly anymore, and whenever I’m on Facebook I think, “Shouldn’t I be writing?” before realizing that until November, I’m taking a write holiday. So weird.

Not only that, but I got my first royalty from CreateSpace for Kiss of the Fey! This is only my paperback sales since I accidentally published my eBook with a different email (so that it isn’t linked to CreateSpace), so that’ll be another $5 whenever they release that. I’m a published, paid author! And that’s enough for pizza!

Capture

Just so you all know, I still have a rafflecopter giveaway going on! I guess I’m terrible at giveaways, because no one has entered, so if you want a chance to win a free copy of Kiss of The Fey (and bookmarks!) click here.

Now that you’re all updated on my life, we can continue with the list.


  1. Tell everyone.
  2. Including people who don’t care about writing.
  3. “Oh, does that mean I can read it?”
  4. “No, first drafts are shit!”
  5. Relax.
  6. Think about all the terrible mistakes you know are waiting to be edited out.
  7. Freak out a bit.
  8. Try to relax again.
  9. Fail.
  10. Give up on writing.
  11. “Um, but didn’t you just say that all first drafts are shit?”
  12. “This is extra shit! Steaming shit! I should never write anything again!”
  13. Get a new idea.
  14. Outline it.
  15. Get excited about it.
  16. Write chapter one before feeling guilty about the novel you need to edit.
  17. “I thought you said you were never writing again?”
  18. “I lied. Isn’t this scene awesome? I’m writing about a pirate who travels through black matter and sings karaoke and steals diamonds to use as rocket fuel.”
  19. “Uh… right. You have at it, then.”
  20. Stall at chapter three.
  21. Remember you first novel.
  22. Open it back up.
  23. Read the first paragraph.
  24. Groan at the terrible errors.
  25. Stay up late into the night surface editing.
  26. “Are you planning to recycle all that?” your significant other asks, looking at the stack of paper next to you.
  27. “Oh… no. These are my editing notes.”
  28. “So you are writing again?”
  29. “STOP QUESTIONING MY LIFE CHOICES.”
  30. Tell your writing group.
  31. Smile like crazy because they are the most awesome people. (Note: If you don’t have a writing group, I suggest joining the NaNoWriMo group on Facebook. Even if you don’t do NaNoWriMo. They’re great.)
  32. Tell your mother.
  33. “Does this one have sex scenes too?”
  34. “Um… yes.”
  35. *sigh* “We can’t let your grandfather read this one either…”
  36. Remember the terrible sex scenes in your novel.
  37. Read them.
  38. Cry again.
  39. Buck up and ask your significant other for a practical lesson.
  40. “No really, it’s for research! We have to!”
  41. “You should write more books…”
  42. Write a list instead of editing.
  43. Write a list instead of planning your next novel.
  44. Write a list instead of doing homework.
  45. They can be different lists.
  46. Go to CreateSpace and create a profile for your book.
  47. Even though it’s not even a second draft.
  48. And you don’t know if you’ll self-publish.
  49. Decide that you need to establish yourself as an author.
  50. Start blogging about it.
  51. “Oh, when’s your book coming out?”
  52. “Um, what book? Untitled hasn’t even been edited yet. My main character’s sister is still named PICKLE.”
  53. Attempt to explain poor PICKLE’s tragic backstory while keeping a straight face and still calling her PICKLE.
  54. While explaining it, realize you wrote a plot hole.
  55. Rush home and open your novel.
  56. Rewrite the scene, kill off PICKLE.
  57. No one likes pickles anyways.
  58. Find the motivation to finish editing your first draft.
  59. Think you’re done.
  60. Don’t hear the experienced writers laughing at you from behind their computers.
  61. “You can read my novel now!”
  62. “Um, there are a lot of problems. Your main character either has two dads AND a mom or a dad with two names, you don’t explain how the killer escaped the first time, and there were a ton of typos.”
  63. “Noooooooooooooooooooooo. Second drafts are also shit? That’s not right! I’m a terrible writer!”
  64. *gives some space*
  65. Complain online that you will never be a real writer.
  66. Be virtually slapped by someone more experienced.
  67. Buck up and continue writing, get all the way to chapter seven of your new novel.
  68. Stall again.
  69. Go back to your first novel.
  70. Read through it again.
  71. Rearrange things.
  72. Put in more character detail.
  73. Take out irrelevant scene detail.
  74. Make your characters more consistent.
  75. Correct Microsoft Word once again about your character Wren not having a grammatically incorrect name.
  76. Realize that you have a third draft.
  77. Push it aside for a while, remembering last time.
  78. Realize that life can’t be writing 24/7.
  79. Take some time to relax with friends.
  80. “Honey, I finished your novel. I think I finally understand, the princess loves the king, but then the prince was under a love spell so he wanted to save the princess from the king, but the princess didn’t really need saving-”
  81. “Mom, I took out that subplot ages ago. Here’s the newest draft. There are dragons this time.”
  82. Crack your novel open one more time.
  83. Edit again.
  84. Then double-check for errors.
  85. Go to your writer group and look for beta readers.
  86. Contact lots of them.
  87. Send out lots of copies of your novel.
  88. Get two critiques back.
  89. First one: “The pacing was too slow.”
  90. Second one: “The pacing was too fast.”
  91. Explode.
  92. Take it with a grain of salt, rewrite problem areas.
  93. Edit again.
  94. For those with money, professional editor.
  95. For those who want to, submit to a publishing house.
  96. For those who don’t, self-publish.
  97. For those who want none of that publishing nonsense, post online for free.
  98. Advertise your book everywhere you can.
  99. Apologize to your significant other for everything you put them through.
  100. Start the process over again.

For those of you who disagree with my methods, what’s the first thing you’d do when finishing a first draft?

A Look at Vanity Presses

So a while ago, back when I used FictionPress a lot, I was approached by a vanity press who wanted to work with me. To make things simple, here was our conversation.

1

Alexis being the Vanity Press, clearly.

2

And I am the majestic blue-footed booby.

3

I looked her shit up, thought no thank you, then decided to fuck with them.

4

They never emailed me back about using my editing services 😦 Granted, I have never ever used that email address and I don’t know if it fuctions or not, but hey. The reviews DID say it needed editing.

5.1

But yeah, my research led me to believe that they were not to be trusted.

5

Also, anytime a profile has no activity then updates or is created right before messaging you is 100% shady.

However, I ignored it until I was going back through my old messages finding people who had been interested in Kiss of The Fey when I found this message, and I when I started to look up their information for putting together this post….

6

And poor Lisa Alfonso is gone as well!

7

Her author page is still up and someone mentioned that they couldn’t wait for the sequel, and the author replied “It’ll be out in March!” back in 2012. Someone came along in 2014 and said “I’m guessing that wasn’t March 2013 that it was coming out.”

Assuming that Lisa was a real person, not just part of the Vanity Press, I feel bad for her. It seemed like she had a really good story and she was doomed when a Vanity Press took her book, didn’t edit it so that it would actually sell, and then vanished and left her high and dry. All she can do now is self-publish since publishers only want first rights. But Believe might still be under a legally binding contract with the Vanity Press, even though it’s no longer for sale on Amazon. She just can’t sell the second book and have the first one be unavailable, so what is she to do?

The moral of the story is, NEVER trust a Vanity Press. If they try to make YOU pay to publish your book, it is not a real publisher. This is the internet. Trust no one. Always do your research!

 

How I Visualize The Writing Process

2drawingexcerpt2Step One: You’re planning out your story. You’ve got it all in your heads. Some of the details are a little wonky, but that’s okay. You’ll fix that later. For now, you have a story.

 

titan-skeletonStep Two: Erm…. your story isn’t looking so great. You’ve written it, but it seems a little bare. You rushed some and forgot some stuff. Maybe rewrite everything up until chapter ten, and get rid of all those boring scenes about your MC making toast. Add some more action and make sure your characters shine with personality.

 

disturbing-anti-anorexia-ads-compare-starving-women-to-fashion-sketchesStep Three: Okay, so far so good. You’ve got a story. It makes sense. There are people who would be okay with reading it…. but why not keep editing? Give it all you’ve got! You know there are still typos in there and things that might not make that much sense. Don’t whine about it, just edit some more.

 
Kate UptonStep Four: Great job! Look at that shiny new story your have! It’s all edited and perfect! You’re sick to death of reading it, but it’s okay, because you’re done! Or… are you? Maybe take another look at it. Is this really what you want your story to be? Are your characters too perfect, do they never swear or sweat? Is it a teenage drama with no mention of a pimple where all the girls are smoking hot? Maybe you should do one more read through and see if there is anything you’d change.

 

rs_293x398-140321093512-634-kate-upton-vogue.ls.32114_copyStep Five: There you go. That’s something to be proud of. Now put a ring on it, put it on the shelf for a few years, and see if you still like it just as much in ten years.

**I own none of these pictures.

Writers unite! Write with me this summer!

I plan to write more this summer than I normally do. I know I’ll have enough time to do it, so it’s just a matter of setting goals. I went ahead and made a spreadsheet that can help me as Nano does with keeping track of my word count. It looks a bit like this.

CaptureColor-coded by month, because I’m a boss. If anyone would like to use this tool, you can download it here. I’ve used that site before and it’s safe. My document won’t give you any viruses, it’s just an excel file (it should be able to open with both Word and Open Office).

You can customize it as you’d like, delete May or August or get rid of the colors, but I already have all the formulas in there so that you don’t have to calculate a thing. Instructions are included in the file, but if you have any questions about anything feel free to ask!

I just think tools that let you see everything like that can be really useful. I want to see if anyone would like to write with my this summer. Nothing intense, nothing nearly as frantic as NaNoWriMo. My personal word goals are 10,000 for both May and July, then 20,000 during June and August. Obviously I won’t write every day, but I’m hoping to keep myself writing at least every week.

So if you’ve like to join me, leave a comment here! If enough people join up (you can write as much as you want, set your goal for 5,000 words a month if you want) then I’ll post each month to tell everyone how I’m doing and ask everyone else to report on their current status. I think it’ll be a fun way to meet some more bloggers and get to know them!

The project I’ll be working on primarily is A Game of Madness. If I finish I’ll just start my other project that was abandoned from trying to write too much at once. I don’t think I’ll get past A Game of Madness, though.