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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The Perfect Bad Review

So, I recently got a 2 star review of Wildflower Crown on Goodreads. The person said that they couldn’t finish the book and found it entirely not suited to their tastes. I was a little bummed that she didn’t like it, but I actually wasn’t upset because of how nicely she worded the review.

I was really glad to get this review, even though it wasn’t good, because it can actually help people decide if they want to read my book or not. Rather than saying “This book is terrible, don’t read it, my eyes were bleeding” or any nonsense like that, she just pointed out where she thought the book needed work and what she didn’t like about it. She was also very polite about it.

When writing a bad review, keep in mind that you’re commenting on something a person made, and that person has feelings. You don’t have to lie or anything, but try to think of what is constructive and could help the writer/other potential readers. If you hated every single thing about the book, you can say that, but word your review as you would if you were telling the author your opinion in person. Or over Skype, at the very least.

Before you publish your work you have to be prepared for bad reviews, even if they are just hateful nonsense, because not everyone is going to like your book. I steer far away from what I consider to be purple prose when I write, and this person thought my book was too simple. And that’s fine. If they didn’t like it, they’re allowed not to and I bare them no ill will. Another person emailed me to say she couldn’t finish my book because she really hated third person POV. You know what? I can’t help that. My book is third person POV and that isn’t going to change, and neither will her tastes. I don’t aim to write a book that everyone will love, I just aim to write a book that I would enjoy reading.

An Author’s Meltdown

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So I’ve posted before on how to handle bad reviews and multiple times I have mentioned that an author should never respond to a review unless the reader is asking a genuine question (such as when is book 2 coming out). For those of you who missed it, there was a significant meltdown on Goodreads a few days ago. (Sorry I’ve been late about posting it, but my own book was just released and I am now working two jobs.)

The author went back and deleted his comments but I have the link to an archived page. I’ll provide the best snapshots then link to it below so you can see for yourself this hot holy mess. This is mostly for entertainment purposes since I don’t know of anyone who would react so badly and needs to be warned against it.

This was just…so unnecessarily wordy and pretentious. I just did not enjoy it at all. Which makes me sad because the summary says it’s for fans of Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and World of Warcraft. Aka three of my favorite things. So how did I loathe this so entirely from page one? I don’t know.
-Reviewer

Sorry that my book evoked such a horrible response… I’m an indie author. I work over 100 hours a week to get my books to succeed so that I don’t have to be a slave anymore. This review is not good for my business, so unless your desire is to ruin my dreams, it would mean a great deal if you could remove this review from my work and forget about it. But if it’s your desire to hurt me financially and ruin my business, then it’s understandable why you would post such a harmful review
-Author

The book has a number of good reviews so far so obviously plenty of people enjoy it, I just wasn’t one of them… I hardly think one review by a single person who is in no way affiliated with any company or big name blogs is going to ruin you financially or otherwise…I think we both know being an author is going to come with positive and negative attention… I personally did not like the story, it wasn’t for me… My one review is not going to sink your life’s work. If you are only here to police your book, only allowing good things to be said about it, I think that says more about you than the reviewer… I’m not going to remove my review because that would be a lie. I read it, I did not enjoy it, I’m within my rights to say so.
-Reviewer

I’m not here to “police” Goodreads…. Leaving a 1 star review on a book says much more about what kind of person does such a thing, and then attacks it for being “pretentious,” which is an erroneous statement that is defamation at best…. I’m happy I could be your Ego’s stepping stone… I’m just always amazed that someone would go out of their way to slander someone’s work like this. [Goodreads] is like Yelp, where essentially the only people that use it for negative reviews are those that have nothing better going on in their lives… I would’ve rather you got your money back than curse my book with your toxic opinion of it because it’s “in your rights to do so.” Do you have empathy? …Or do you just look at other people like they’re automatons that you can slander as though your actions don’t manifest consequences? …400,000 children go missing each year in the US alone. Do you know where they’re going? Do you know who’s behind it? Do you know why the media is silent about it? Do you know how much a person risks to confront the evil that’s running amok in this world?…
-Author

Alright, a minor break. WTF is he bringing up kidnapping for????

For all the people that observe this exchange, when you leave a negative review on someone’s work, you are potentially driving away a person that could have had their life changed for the better by that work. For someone to leave such a toxic review on a book that contains so much gnosis, that people had to die in order to learn in the past, is an utter disgrace to the human condition… So again, by all means, leave the review up if you feel like it’s the moral thing to do, if you must have it on your Goodreads profile so people can see how relevant your low opinion of “The Tale of Onora” is. The review mocks the reviewer, not the book….
-Author

You do realize that every author in the entire world has had their work negatively reviewed, right? Like literally all of them. The best writers in the entire world have had their books torn apart on a much more public platform than Goodreads. Why do you think you are above that? Why is your work above criticism when others aren’t?
-Reviewer

Then other people caught sight of this exchange and started chiming in. Obviously, a lot of them were against the author’s behavior.

And all of you who are taking [reviewer]’s side, what you’re doing in the bigger picture is waging war on the consciousness of humanity. The end… What bothers me is when people that operated at a low level of consciousness defame the work of people that are trying to help humanity, and no one helps humanity better than artists…. You’re immoral for defending this 1 star review. What is wrong with your POISONED WORLDVIEW where you cannot understand the damage that [a 1 star review] does???
-Author

Um, okay. He’s like literally saying that he’s God’s gift to humanity.

There aren’t any sides, [author]. I’m not trying to fight with you or defame your work. I just simply, on my own, did not enjoy the book… Maybe, like you said, I’m not at a high enough level of…intellect or consciousness or whatever else to understand it the way you meant it to be read…. I’m just a reader. That still doesn’t change the fact that you don’t need to come on here and threaten me over it… No one would have even noticed this review if it hadn’t been turned into this giant argument over nothing.
-Reviewer

The reviewer feels threatened but is still staying calm. She’s not doing anything to escalate this.

You know what it feels like to… see someone write that about you? Wow. No shame. All of you that have commented on this thread are EXACTLY what is wrong with this world, and EXACTLY what is ENABLING what is wrong with this world by CONDONING it… I hope you contemplate what it means to tear someone’s work down on a public forum and have the cognitive dissonance to believe it’s anything other than bullying. You’re unraised.
-Author

Talk about cognitive dissonance.

This continues for some time, continuing to say how immoral giving a one star review is while others chime in to agree with “WTF” to the author.

What I stand for, what [my book] stands for, and what the people that read it on every continent represent is SELF-EVIDENT and needs NO defense. What you stand for is all that is IMMORAL, HARMFUL, and WRONG.
-Author

So there you go. The archive only lasts till page 2 of the comments, so I don’t know if he posted anymore because all his comments have been deleted.

Kids, if you’re confused, always avoid engaging with readers. Even if someone leaves a one star review saying “John Doe is a bag of dicks and I used his book to wipe my ass” you do not reply. You flag it and report it to Amazon/Goodreads and they’ll take it down if it’s pointlessly hateful like that. (Also, readers usually avoid reviews like that when looking for pros and cons of the book before buying.)

Archived link: http://archive.is/rFgtE#selection-5187.0-5187.216

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

Excerpt from Wildflower Crown

Wildflower Crown

Wildflower Crown

© Charlotte Cyprus

Prologue

The woman kept to the shadows, avoiding the torches that lit the streets. A hood concealed her face and black cloth was thrown over the basket in her arms. Little whimpers came from the basket, but the woman shushed it, moving through the unfamiliar village slowly. She avoided the men walking home from the pub and went farther to the outskirts of town where there were smaller houses stuffed with squalling children.

Fog rose up from the ground in the cold night air. The streets were tracks of dirt that the recent rain had turned into mud, and it sucked at the woman’s boots as she struggled to keep herself unnoticed. A pitiful cry came from the basket in her arms. The woman paused to reach her hand in and stroke the baby’s cheek. She was rewarded with a happy gurgle.

The woman was caught off guard. She looked at the baby, so sweet and small and innocent. Had she gone far enough south? The king would be hunting her, she knew. It had been a foolish thing to take revenge on the king, but she hadn’t counted on getting pregnant. The baby’s father had no idea where they were, or that the baby existed, but it was for the best. The babe could live out an anonymous childhood away from the chaos of her own life.

A child’s cry rang out in the night, but it wasn’t her baby. The woman froze and listened hard to find where the noise was coming from. The child called out again, and the woman determined that it was the little house across the street. The roof was crumbling and the door was hanging at an angle. As the crying continued, a light was lit. The woman could see it through the shuttered window.

Continue reading

Mini Update

I’ve been away for a while because I had to graduate and then move all my stuff, but the proof copy of Wildflower Crown is here so you can all enjoy the dorky picture I took of it. Hopefully I’ll start posting reviews for all the books I’ve recently read as well as finally posting an excerpt from Wildflower Crown!

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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.

Wildflower Crown Cover Reveal!

Wildflower Crown

Wild has been running her whole life from a power she never asked for. Determined to fill her life with excitement and fun, she’s done everything she could to push her dark secret from her mind. When outlaws come to her with a proposition to infiltrate the castle and switch places with the princess, she immediately accepts the job. What could be more fun than being a princess?

Daivat’s life has always been structured and orderly. He wakes every day at dawn and practices tirelessly at his knife work. His dream is to be a member of the king’s personal guard, but first he must prove himself by keeping an eye on the imposter princess while she fools visiting nobles into thinking she’s real royalty.

As the queen struggles to keep the kingdom from war and the real princess fights to survive the outlaws, Wild and Daivat must endure each other as their personalities collide. Can Daivat bring order to Wild’s life, or will Wild turn Daivat’s life upside down?


Now, this might not be that exciting as I’ve had variations of this cover posted around the site when I thought there would be an earlier publishing date, but here is the official cover! (Alright, so the font might change, but that’s it, I swear!)

Wildflower Crown will be coming out in the beginning of June, the 1st or 2nd depending on how Amazon handles things. All that’s left to do is proofreading and deciding if I’m going to stick with the alternative ending I just came up with two days ago! I’m really excited about this book, so I hope you all like it and don’t get sick of me talking about it constantly for the next few months 🙂

-Charlotte Cyprus