How to Avoid Writer’s Panic

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Your face when you look at your to do list.

What is Writer’s Panic, you may ask? Well, it starts when you realize you haven’t been writing as much as you should. Then it deepens when you realize you’re falling behind. Next you’re neglecting your side projects to the point where they don’t exist, and something completely unrelated to writing completely monopolizes your time.

Now, it might be a happy thing. You could have a baby or adopt a kitten or go on vacation, or there could be a death in the family or a stressful move to another city. Either way, once you settle back in, all you can do is sit there and think about how very, very far behind you are.

Having just had a quarter-life crisis of sorts, I am there. I have an unedited novel from two years ago that still needs finishing, for god’s sake. Follow these steps and you will be up and running in no time.

Step One:

Get over your Writer’s Block. I have a post on that here, and it basically boils down to forcing yourself to write. The easiest way I’ve found is to just write whatever I feel like it whether or not it’s any good. Just sit down in front of the computer and make words happen in some sort of logical order.

Step Two:

Create a list of everything you’ve been working on in the last year or so (or shorter/longer, depending on how long you’ve been away from things). Organize the list in groups of things that are nearly finished, things that you’ve just started, and things you absolutely want to finish.

Step Three:

Decide on what to start on first. Have a short story that just needs editing? The choice is clear. Do you have five half-finished novels and no idea which to start? Think of which one is going to be the easiest to write and which ones you would weep to see go unfinished.

Step Four:

Don’t set any hard deadlines. Until you’re back into the swing of things, deadlines will only make you worry more. You can maybe set goals such as “finish novel B this year” or “write every other day at least” but you have to find a relaxed balance where you can stretch your wings, as it were. It might take time for some people to get back into the groove of things and there’s no use in stressing yourself out when you don’t have to, especially when returning from any kind of stressful break. 

Ask family members and friends help for motivation if you need to. Activities like NaNoWriMo or writing groups can help motivate you without putting any real pressure on you. You just need to remember that writing is supposed to be fun, no matter how much the opposite can seem true sometimes.

To celebrate my return to blogging, I’ve put my book Wildflower Crown for free on Amazon! Click here to claim your copy for Kindle. (It will work on a regular computer too, just download the app!)

Thanks for reading 🙂

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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.

Wildflower Crown is now available for purchase!

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Wildflower Crown is available on Amazon in eBook and paperback! Until Amazon gets around to joining the pages, here is the eBook link and here is the paperback link.

I’m super excited to share this with the world. I really like the story and I think you guys will too!

For those of you without money who are interested, I’m looking for reviewers and will give a free PDF or MOBI of Wildflower Crown in exchange for an honest review to be posted on Amazon, Goodreads, and your blog. You can comment below or use the contact form on my “contact” page to ask about getting a copy.

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

The Origin of Wildflower Crown

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Wildflower Crown was a long time in the making. I was fascinated by the thought of someone growing up in the wild and then trying to adapt to normal life. It’d been done before, but typically with men. When someone on an old writing site I used to use gave the prompt, “Someone must defend their home,” Wild was born.

Here is that piece. Literally nothing you read from this will be in the actual book, but I think it’s a nice standalone piece and it’s interesting (to me, at least) how this came to be Wildflower Crown.


As an infant, I was left in a field to die. It was a justified decision of behalf of the farmer who left me there for he was no kin of mine; he had no ties to me. I was a halfing, part forest folk and part human. My parents must have each come from another world, my existence stemming from their union. As I was not fully Other, I could not live among the creatures of the forest, the eldritch presences that lurk and lure travelers to their doom. Nor, as not fully human, could I live among the people, in a small farm or in the poorer districts of a crowded city.

I was caught between the worlds, never to live comfortably in either. My parents, not caring about my fate, left me on the old farmer’s doorstep. He heard my cries, took a look at my glistening hair and unnaturally colored eyes, and left me in the barren hills for the wolves to devour.

Any human child would have died from either the elements or the predators in the area. Being half Other, I survived. The wolves did not make a meal of me. They talked to me. Animals lived between the human world and the world of the Others; that made us one of the same. Therefore, they took me in, fed me in their den, raised me until I was fit to live on my own. I could talk to them, of course, not in words, but through our minds, using a power bestowed upon us by something greater than ourselves. I made friends with the wolves, as much as one can befriend wild beasts, but as all pups are pushed from the den and into the wild, I left them behind for a life of my own.

Continue reading

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.

Proofreading, Writing, Getting Snowed On, and Chocolate Chips– Author Update

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There hasn’t been much activity going on here because I’m graduating in two weeks. I don’t actually have that much school work to do  anymore, but I’ve been working on writing and creating medical emergencies. (Alright, well, it’s not an emergency. My tooth just hurts, but still.)

On the proofreading front: I’m at chapter seven of Wildflower Crown, which is a little over halfway through. It’s slow work since I don’t want to speed the text-reading software up and miss a mistake, so once I start wishing death upon the voices (there are three: David, Hazel, and Zira) then I have to take a break, which leads us to the next point.

On the writing front: I’ve started my next novel which doesn’t have a title. I’ll be writing it all summer while finishing the edits on Wildflower Crown and starting the edits on Only in Whispers. It is very, very loosely based on Rapunzel (as in, there is a tower), and that’s all I’ll say for now.

On the snow font: Yeah, it snowed. In April. Two days before it snowed it had been 70 degrees (21 C for you non-Americans). This isn’t some kind of record and none of it stuck, but I’m still unamused.

On the teeth front: Did you know that chocolate chips are named literally? They are chocolate that chip. I bit down on one at a weird angle while eating a cookie and it chipped my tooth. I don’t know whether to call it a crack or a chip because it’s a molar that chipped off into the gum (so it’s still there) but either way I get to go to the dentist. Yay.

-Charlotte Cyprus

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

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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.