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

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The Importance of Plot Bunnies

For those of you who don’t know what plot bunnies are, here is the official urban dictionary definition (can’t get more official than that).

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Alright, so ignore the fanfic thing. It can happen for any kind of story. Basically, you think of something or see something that is so inspirational you’re like OH MY GOD I HAVE TO WRITE THIS. I don’t know why it’s called a plot bunny. I was nine years old in 2003, so this has been around for a while.

Recently, I was attacked by plot bunnies. Or plot wolves, if you will. I had a super realistic dream (I don’t know if this is a thing all writers experience, because whenever I tell people about them they’re like “wtf”) about this land cursed by wolves. I woke up and I KNEW I had to write it. I started it right away and I’m at 12,000 words right now.

The strangest thing is that the story is coming together really well so far even though I’m pantsing (i.e., winging) it, though usually I plan a lot more. I’ve put aside the other project I wanted to work on this summer because the idea for this just completely consumes me.

BABY BUNNIES, BROWN, WHITE, GRAY

rawr

A lot of people will say to ignore your plot bunnies, to put them in a box and only take them out when you need them. However, in real life putting bunnies in a box without attending to them will kill them all. Ideas are a bit like that. Even if something is a good idea, the more you put it off and think about it without acting the duller it can become. If you have some kind of breathtakingly amazing idea you can’t get our of your head, act on it.

Just… don’t make that a pattern. If you keep abandoning your stories at 20,000 words because something new distracts you you’ll never get anything done.

Wildflower Crown too was started with a plot bunny. Though I’ve changed that bunny so much it probably looks more like a bird now, it’s still the same basic idea I started with. I’m excited that I’ll be sharing the story with you guys soon!

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.

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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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The Origin of Wildflower Crown

xxx

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

authorupdate

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

Why I Don’t Like Review Groups

ha

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.