Have you been writing as much as you should?

I’ve decided to take the week off from blogging and get some real writing done. I don’t know how well this will actually work, but I’m determined not to get on here until next Sunday unless I see that I have a comment or something that needs attention. I’ve had some writer’s block on A Game of Madness and I need to get past that to get myself past the 40,000 mark in the story. It’s at a lull at the moment, and I want to get it done. I want to publish books fairly regularly once Kiss of The Fey is out, so I want A Game of Madness done by October at the latest so that I can set it aside for a little bit, edit, then have it ready for the new year. In the mean time, I’ll work on The Wildness Within (which is going to be super exciting because the main character is ridiculous).

But for now, I need to focus on A Game of Madness. After my week is up I’ll go crazy trying to find people to review Kiss of The Fey and making sure it’s all formatted for Kindle.

If anyone else is behind on writing like I am, I invite you to write with me! Just put aside this week and write like crazy until next Sunday. My summer writing goals have been shit, so hopefully this will push me along to where I wanted to be.

I think this post needs a picture.

There we go.

There we go.

How To Outline a Novel

There are three ways to plan a novel, in my opinion. I’ve done all three.

Method One: Pantsing it.

I don’t know if this is a thing outside of NaNoWriMo. Basically, you rush into the writing with no plan, or very little plan. You think “My character is named Anabel. She lives in Greece. Let’s write!” and throw yourself into the writing. The plot just happens. You might have more, like knowing that Anabel is going to fall in love or battle an ancient society of Athena worshipers, but you don’t know what will happen in chapter two or chapter sixteen until you get there. You just write your heart out and clean the mess up later.

I wrote Skyview Academy: Love 101 with this method. It was 60,000 words and 18 chapters of hot mess writing from high school. However, the writing was only terrible because I was still learning. The plot actually wasn’t bad. I had a friend who didn’t mind bad writing read it and she loved it. I’m still in the process of rewriting it (which I may never, ever get to). All I knew was that I wanted Abby to fall in love with Logan, but Abby was a cheerleader and Logan was a nerd. That conflict alone allowed me to finish the story, even if it will be some time before it sees the light of day again.

Method Two: Expanding a previous story.

So, you wrote an awesome short story. Or a poem. Or a novella. Someone reads it and tells you how fantastic it is. They tell you they want to read more. You smile and shake your head… but maybe they’re right. You realize that Anabel doesn’t just have to have her adventure in Greece, she could go to Egypt and battle old mummys  then land in America and battle Nicolas Cage. Rather than 10,000 words, you end up with 80,000.

I wrote Kiss of The Fey that way. Kiss of The Fey used to be Woman of Fire, Man of Ice, which used to be a novella called Princess Janoah’s Tale. I wrote the novella for a challenge that said to write a fairy-tale inspired story, and I wrote about the Beauty and The Beast. It was much simpler and sillier than Kiss of The Fey.  It certainly didn’t have any sex scenes.

Method Three: Actually Outlining.

For this method, you have to sit down and put your creativity onto the page in a very condensed form. You need to know every high and low point of the novel. You need to know that Anabel is going to be discovering her connection to the undead in the third chapter, and by the fifteenth chapter she has control of her power to get the zombies in Athens to tell her where the lost city of Atlantis was. At the beginning of chapter seventeen she almost dies, and the twentieth chapter she unveils the secret for the next book (because this sounds like the kind of thing that belongs in a trilogy, doesn’t it?)

I wrote The Art of Screwing Up: Tales of A Faux Lesbian this way. I had EVERYTHING planned out. I wrote the whole thing during NaNoWriMo, so I was plowing right through that thing. I once lost my outline and FREAKED OUT because it had everything I planned to do. I had chapter by chapter instructions, and detailed lists of what would happen in those chapters. It was so easy to write once I had the outline. I just looked at my paper and thought “Okay, follow this until I get my 3666 words for the day.”

So… which one is best?

Personally, I like to actually outline my story, but that rarely happens. I just don’t have the brain power to sit there and know when everything is going to happen. I usually go with a vague idea of where I want the story to go and write from there. This means that anything can happen. In A Game of Madness, I knew that Lord Acton was a bad guy, but I didn’t know he was so bad that he murdered babies. It just came out in my writing.

I don’t think it’s the planning that determines how your novel turns out, but your passion for that specific story. You just need to try the different methods and see what works best for you. No matter what method you use you’re still going to have to go back and edit, so the important thing is to finish the story, not to plan it how others think you should.

I believe in you!

This is just a reminder that I believe in you, and you should believe in yourself! Whether it’s writing, figure skating, or whatever it is that you want to do, you can do it if you try hard enough.

While I’ve always known I was a writer, I still need encouragement to keep going. However, that’s not what this post is about. This post is about my journey in cover creation.

This was my first try.

candle - Copy1

I liked the picture, but I couldn’t make it work. I decided to try on a minimalist cover.

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But that didn’t work out either, so I went back to looking at stock images.

candlaas - Copy7

I figured this was as good as it was gonna get. I was pleased enough with it, but it seemed kinda dark for my topic. I didn’t know if it would draw readers in, though.

Finally, I was messing around with GIMP (free photoshop) and learned how to edit photos a bit more. Then, I found another stock image.

font

I still have time to change my mind, but I’m about 80% sure that I’ll use this cover. I might edit it a bit more or change my mind once I order my proof copy from Createspace, but still. I feel like my cover journey has gone a long way.

I’m still not an expert, but I feel like I can say that the practice for sure helped. So yeah. Go me. (And follow this blog for publishing updates.)

How do you write a good description for your novel?

From what I’ve gathered, your first sentence has to draw the readers in. You need to be to the point without giving too much of the plot away. You have to make readers want to pick that book up, so you have to use strong wording (so, nothing like “yeah, and they kinda fell in love”). It should be short so that you don’t lose the reader’s interest before they even get to chapter one.

I am very bad at writing descriptions. If I plan on publishing by the end of the summer, I need to get my shit together. Here are some of my attempts.

King Xenos has a heart cold as ice from a childhood curse, so how is it that he is the only one who could save Princess Johara? Johara thinks there must be a mistake when Xenos takes her north to be his queen, but they are wed as man and wife and the rest of her life must be spent living in a gloomy castle with a cold husband.

However, things might not all be as they appear. Xenos’s passion is nothing close to cold, and Johara knows there is more to his curse than he’s telling her.
Will Johara turn to ice when pressured with the cold, or will Xenos set her heart aflame?

I think it captures the essence of Kiss of The Fey pretty well, but I don’t know if it would draw readers in.

Princess Johara expected it to be a knight in shining armor that came to her rescue, but what she got was a cursed man in black.

King Xenos hadn’t planned on saving Johara, but now that he had he would wed her and make her his queen.

Johara must go north and live in the freezing kingdom of Malum, where crime is rampant and there are no laws or order. Confined to the gloomy castle, Johara has no choice but to spend time with Xenos, who seems oddly reluctant to spend time with her.

Johara realizes that Xenos’s curse might not be what it appears. He’s keeping something from her, something that might cost him his life. Can she save him in time, or will all of Malum be lost?

Basically I’m really bad at writing descriptions. I think this is a universal thing and everyone is equally bad, but I need to get my shit together so that I have something usable to stick by my book and put on the back cover.

Here is what I had way back when this was on Fictionpress:

A cursed king seemingly as cold as the ice flowing through his veins. A princess chosen to produce an heir. As she unearths the truth behind the dark rumors surrounding her groom, will she find more darkness? Or something to set her heart aflame?

Anyone have any opinions?

If you want to support a starting author, you can follow the “Charlotte Cyprus” tab to my author blog and follow that to keep track of when I publish (there will be much fewer posts there, they’ll only be about publishing and such).

How to Self-Publish Your Novel

This is more of a checklist than a how to guide. I’m getting closer to publishing Kiss of The Fey so I’m getting more nervous about everything that needs to be done. I was going to just make a checklist for myself, but I thought sharing it could benefit a few of you who might be going through the same thing.

1. Write a novel. This is the easiest part.

2. Edit your novel. This could involve looking over it yourself, finding beta readers, hiring a professional editor, or having your English major friend from college look it over in exchange for a trip to the spa. Whatever you do, you have to get rid of the typos, spelling and grammar errors, sort our your plot so that it flows right and makes sense, make your your characters are likeable and written properly…. everything, basically. That novel has to be perfect.

3. Get people’s opinions. Use beta readers or friends and family. I’m having my mom read it and I’m going to ask for a few people from the Nanowrimo group to read it for me. If you’re reading this and you’re interested in reading it, tell me. I’ve also asked a co-worker to read it for me but I don’t know if she actually will because she sounded a bit put off by the idea when I asked her for a favor. I don’t really have friends, so this is actually a hard part in the process to get by. Others might have an easier time, especially anyone who belongs to a legit writing group or anything. You need to do this after you edit, but before you publish in case they all agree that your hero is terrible or your plot makes no sense.

4. Decide on a penname. This might not be applicable to you if you’re just going to use your own name, but if publishing in multiple genres or writing smutty stuff you don’t want under your own name (or any reason, really) then you’re going to have to think of something. Look at other popular authors in your genre for ideas. You don’t want your penname to be Alberta Lickenhymen if you’re writing Christian Romance. Also, Google it to make sure it isn’t already an author name or someone famous that would overshadow searches for your book. It has to be unique.

5. Decide how you’re going to publish. I honestly haven’t explored this at all because I plan to use Createspace to publish through Amazon. I might put my novel on Smashwords, too, but that would be later. I want people to be able to buy a print or digital copy of my book, and I’ve already used Createspace so I know how to do it. I have to set up an Amazon author page, actually get on there, and get all the payment information sorted out too once I actually get around to publishing.

6. Get a cover. This could be simple if you’re only doing digital copies and a tad bit more complicated if doing print, because you’ll need a back cover and your dimensions need to fit the actual dimensions of the book. The easy way out is to pay someone to make a cover for you (this place does fabulous work) but I just don’t have the money for that, so I have to make my own. This means finding stock images that are free to use and learning to use editing software. I use Gimp, it’s basically free Photoshop. My covers still have to be pretty basic because of my skill level. I know what image I want to use for Kiss of The Fey, but I’m stuck on fonts, of all things. I just need to get the font right or the title won’t stand out enough.

7. Promote your book. The entire reason I started this blog was to promote my book. I’ll be changing the blog up a little closer to publishing to make it more obvious that this is the website for my books, but it’s never going to look professional. If I end up being successful I’ll be able to get a real website and everything, but until then this is what I got. It’ll be even weirder with the penname. I have to think about whether I want to create a separate blog for my penname. Beyond that, I need to somehow reach people and get them interested about my book. I think how I’m going to do this is to use the people in the Nanowrimo group on Facebook to review a free copy of my novel to try to get good reviews and ratings so that it looks more appealing on Amazon. I might ask fellow bloggers to review my novel. I don’t really know what to do, beyond that.

8. Publish your book. Just put it out there and hope that people like it.

9. Cry a little. Freak out. Get drunk. Have a meltdown.

10. Celebrate your first sale. It doesn’t matter if you only make $0.60. You’re a published author, baby. Celebrate.

I just really wanted a list that had ten things. You don’t have to freak out or get drunk if you don’t want to. I hope to publish by the end of the summer but I don’t know if that will happen with the way things are going. I could rant about why my computer is now dead to the world, but instead I’ll just say that it is and that that is a HUGE inconvenience. I think I’m going to need another one and I don’t have the money. I’m using my mom’s right now. I’m lucky it didn’t die while I was at school.

Who is the character you sympathize most with?

I always try to make characters you can sympathize with. Since I’ve started reading The Host I can see how wrong it can go when you fail to make a sympathetic character. Stephanie Meyer wrote the main character to be a parasite that took over a human body. We’re supposed to feel sorry for her because she feels she doesn’t belong and all the humans want to kill her. The problem is, she is constantly complaining and crying and she won’t stand up for herself. She’s a really terrible character overall, but you can’t sympathize for someone you find annoying who won’t do anything to help her situation.

There are two characters I’ve always sympathized with. The first one every knows; Professor Snape.

snape

Professor Snape was an asshole to Harry, yes. However, we learned that there was a reason that he was so mean. Harry’s father bullied him, all the Gryffindors bullied him. He grew up in a shitty neighborhood with shitty parents. His entire life sucked, and the only people who were ever kind to him were the evil people. Then he lost the woman he loved most in the world. He spent the rest of his life trying to make up for it, then was killed ultimately for a mistake he made as a teenager.

The second one might not be as well known. It’s the cop from Bridesmaids.

Chris_O_Dowd_in_Bridesmaids

I sympathize with him because he’s just such a nice guy. He is like the nicest guy ever, and he’s cute and charming and adorable. If you haven’t seen the movie, Annie used to have a bakery but it failed so she stopped baking. The cop (yeah, I forget his name) and Annie spend the night at the cop’s place and she wakes up and finds that he went out and bought baking supplies to try to get her back into baking. We then have to watch him get all sad and stuff because Annie gets confused and turns him down and is basically a bitch. (Don’t worry, they end up together, I’m pretty sure… I forget).

So which characters do you really sympathize with? Do you ever examine what makes you sympathize them to apply it to your own characters?

Write whenever you can!

I worked 8 1/2 hours today. For the first four hours, they put me in “the hole” where I just stood there and took orders and gave change. We were under-staffed, so during the lunch rush the cars were going through the line really slow, meaning that I had time between orders where I couldn’t do anything but wait. I stole a pen from the office and started writing on a blank receipt roll.

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Water bottle for scale (and to hold it still on the couch while the fan was on).

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It’s not a whole scene or anything (that would’ve required a REALLY long receipt), but I didn’t need to write a whole scene. I have two new scenes I have to write for Kiss of the Fey since I’m getting rid of most of the last four chapters, so there’s just a few things I have to add here and there. This will just go somewhere in the first few chapters; wherever I can fit it.

So even if you’re just writing a few ideas on a napkin on your lunch break, remember that you can ALWAYS find time to write.

 

Self-publishing verses Traditional Publishing

I’ve thought about it and I’ve changed my mind. I’m going to go straight for self-publishing. I think it’s just the better choice for me. Here is the basics of what I got of the pros and cons for both sides.

Traditional Publishing:

  • Pro- They have more resources. They will makes sure your book is seen.
  • Con- Not all publishing houses accept submissions if you don’t have an agent. I absolutely cannot afford an agent.
  • Pro- You’ll get a cash advance. If your book does good, they’ll want another one. Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money.
  • Con- It can take years to get published. Only submitting to reputable (not the vanity presses) publishers who take 6+ months to give you a yes or not who accept unsolicited submissions in my genre.
  • Pro- People will probably take you more seriously if you’re traditionally published.
  • Con- You WILL have to give up some control to editors and cover artists to please the publishers.

Self-publishing:

  • Pro- You have complete control over everything, assuming Amazon isn’t a dick about anything.
  • Con- You need to figure out how to do everything. This can include marketing, editing, formatting for both ebooks and paperbacks, and cover art. No publisher is going to help you come up with that snappy title that everyone will love.
  • Pro- It doesn’t take that much time. Once you’re finished writing you can publish it the next day. If you do well, you can start earning good money in the time that it would’ve taken a traditional publisher to say, “Okay, let’s talk about your submission.”
  • Con- There is no advance. You may only make $1.28 in ten years. You HAVE to find readers who LOVE your story.
  • Pro- Again, you control everything.
  • Con- People might not take you seriously. They might think you write terrible fanfiction about Ginny and Voldemort.

There you have it. Basically, I don’t want to wait for traditional publishing or give up control. The hardest part for me is going to be marketing. I mean, I have 169 followers, maybe ten of which read my posts semi-regularly. I don’t even have a Twitter, and I don’t know that many people. But I got this. It might take 4 years to make more than $1.28, but I got this.

I’ve also decided on using a pen name for sure for my adult novels. I even have it all figured out. It fits my genre, is easy to remember, and doesn’t (yet) show up on Google. So wooo to that. Now I just need to finish editing Kiss of The Fey. If anyone would like to give me a donation so that I can get a new computer/power cord, I would gladly accept it. I’ve typed this whole post with one hand so that I can hold my charger in with my right hand. Poo to everything.

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.

Editing is Work

I just finished editing chapter eight in Kiss of The Fey. That leaves seven chapters and the epilogue to go, then reading through the whole thing once more and trying to get a few people (besides my mom…) to read it. It’s a pain to edit it, mostly because I wrote out all the edits so it’s bothersome to edit the actual computer document.

To give you an idea of the number of changes that goes into the making of a novel (and I consider these changes to be quite minor) here is a list:

  • I actually gave some lines to Johara’s half-sister. And completely changed the opening scene to make that happening, changing a bunch of info-dumping while Johara was trying to sleep into a ballroom scene.
  • I cut lots of scenes with three characters. I changed their motivations and two are killed much earlier than originally.
  • I completely cut out a subplot. In the beginning, Johara was stabbed by an enchanted dagger that put her into an enchanted sleep, which is how Xenos met her. The original plot will be explained down below. *
  • I’ve decided that my characters need last names. Sigh. I was going to just make it “Johara of Blairford” or “Xenos of Malum” but then Johara’s maid could say she was Lorn of Malum and there would be nothing marking her apart from Xenos. I fought with this early on in writing and decided that I didn’t want to bother. However, I’ve changed my mind and now must go back and give everyone names. Bleh.
  • I needed to change how my characters felt towards each other. Johara and Xenos became friends too quickly. Xenos is known far and wide as Xenos the Horrid, so it made no sense that she was okay with him right away.
  • I gave Johara more personality. I hope.
  • Xenos is less dramatic. He acted like a teenager sometimes, and he’s like 30. So.
  • Orion is less like fanfic Dumbledore.
  • I completely changed the dramatic climax scene and replaced it with a subplot’s scene due to the deletion of the major subplot discussed below.
  • Obviously I fixed all weird typos, awkward phrasings, and things like that. Stuff that I typed up in a rush and said “WTF” when I looked back at it.
  • I still need to fix some scenes once I’m all done to add more thoughts of home and stuff like that. Little things here and there.

Again, all these things are pretty minor. I’m only completely rewriting a few scenes. Granted, this novel started off as a G-rated novella, so I guess that counts as an edit.

*Okay, this is the most unnecessarily complicated subplot I’ve ever thought of. Johara needed someone to stab her. I decided that it would be some thugs hired by the King of Yacia. The King of Yacia stabbed a ransom note to the girl in the hope of getting enough gold to buy an army. However, the ransom note soaked through with blood and was never read. Once that failed, he sent his thugs to Malum after Johara married Xenos to steal a lock of Johara’s hair to make a love potion. The King of Yacia gave the love potion to Prince Kain of Yacia so that he would fall in love with Johara and try to go carry her off and be killed by Xenos. See, because the King of Yacia had a magic bracelet that switched his mind with the body of his brother. He truly the brother of the king, and he’d been locked up for killing the Queen of Yacia. He’d had comfy enough quarters to get thugs to put the bracelet on his brother to make him king, and threw his brother (in his body) into the dungeons. But the bracelet wasn’t infinite, and it would switch them back soon, so he hoped to get Kain killed (since he wouldn’t be able to buy an army to defeat his brother) so that he would be his brother’s heir so that he could just kill him and grab the throne.

Did you follow that? No? Yeah, my mom didn’t get it either. I decided to make it WAY simpler than that. At the first mention of this plot I wrote “CONVOLUTED AS FUCK” during editing and knew I had to change it.

Has anyone else made big changes while editing? (And honestly, I don’t think these changes are that big.) Feel free to share in a comment or blog about your own experience with editing and share the link!