What If. . .

what if

 

This quote was posted on The Writer’s Circle, a group that posts about writing stuff on Facebook (click the picture to go to their page). It inspired a conversation among my writer friends, in which one friend told me about a “what if?” writer’s conference she attended. The speaker gave them the following writing prompt:

  • In 12 words or less, starting with “what if” ,  charismatically describe your book so everyone will want to buy and and read it.

Sounds simple enough. But here’s the funny bit-it’s not. 

Here is what I came up with for The Gatestone Chronicles: Fayling

  • What if you were the only person who could fix magic?

It isn’t a bad sentence, but would it sell my book? It doesn’t really hit at the real story, does it?

Okay, let’s try again.

  • What if a human could save the universe from fairies?

Hmm. I like that one better. Closer to what the book is about, but it vilifies the fay a bit too much.

One more time.

  • What if saving one life could magically alter the course of fate?

Okay, well it isn’t perfect, but to be fair I have to keep it to twelve words, so it will do.

 

What about you reader? Tell me what you came up with in the comments below. Happy Writing!

A Year

I have officially been blogging for one year. It is a fun thing, to look back and review my own accomplishments. When I started out, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to blog. My brother, Izlain was a member of the Newbie Blogger Initiative(which has an event about this time every year) and encouraged me to get blogging. I had recently decided to write full-time, but was very disorganized and uncertain about my goals. My blog helped me focus on the work at hand, and I began writing about writing. It took me a while to figure out a schedule, and even now I sometimes have a hard time sticking to it. But blogging helped me focus on my career, and in December 2014 I released my first book, Tilted Tales. My second book, Fayling, will be releasing this summer, and my third by the end of the year. (read a bit about it on my website.) My blog helped me take myself seriously. I have since created my own website, created a professional Facebook profile, and opened a Twitter account.

But my one-year blogging aniversary reminded me where it all began.

So today is a salute to blogging, and to other bloggers. If you have something to contribute to the world, then I encourage you to blog.

Progress report

I have known for some time that Fayling belonged to a series that has been forming in my head. I am pleased to announce that series has found a title, The Gatestone Chronicles. Fayling will be book one. I have commissioned artwork for the cover and secured an editor, so I can safely promise you will see it in print before summer is over. Work on Fayling began a long time ago, but I have learned to work more efficiently, and to feed the creative monster that lives in my brain. As a result, years worth of work are finally seeing real results.

With this new found method of writing, I can comfortably promise my readers that book two of The Gatestone Chronicles- which I will not name until closer to it’s completion- will be released sometime in 2016.

Between book one and two, I am working on a collaborative project with my artist friend from Nitsirk’s Grotto. I will give you more info on this project as plans solidify.

So that’s what I am up to reader. What are you working on?

April M. Reign

radio graphic

Today I would like to share a radio blog interview of a new acquaintance of mine, April M. Reign. If you have not heard about her yet, you will. She is an extremely prolific writer, and she offers great advice that has already helped me focus and produce work I can be proud of. The best part: She is completely self-published, and an Amazon Bestseller. So when I say she has great advice, I say so based on her impressive resume as well as personal experience.

Around the 28 minute mark in the interview she starts talking about her upcoming free info sharing programs (such as webinars) that will help new and inspiring authors through the entire publishing process. When I hear more from her about that, I will definitely share it with you, and I’m sure it will pop up on her website.

Click on the radio bar image above to listen to the interview (you will be taken to another webpage).

If you are interested in reading any of her work (and you should be) you can go to her website at:

www.aprilmreign.com

-or-

click on the picture below to go to her Amazon page to see a list of her available books.

April's book

Use of image graciously permitted by April M. Reign

Writers Helping Writers

I’ve talked about socializing and networking with other writers before, and today I would like to expand on that thought.

Recently I have been helping a friend with the formatting on her poetry book (You know I will blog about it when it is released). I’m certainly not an expert, but I am fairly well versed in several different book-related computer programs. I am always volunteering myself to teach people to use Microsoft word if they need help with it, among other things. I firmly believe if you have a bit of practical knowledge you should share it. When I finished my book my friend asked for my help with hers. She was having a hard time getting her book Create Space friendly, and of course I was happy to lend a hand-especially since I had the helping hand of a good friend with my own works. I’m happy to say it is coming along nicely- and bonus: in helping her I figured out a few new shortcuts I did not know before.

I can’t say this enough: Be a member of the writing community. There are tons of resources available for free, be it a blog, book, or video. But the strongest and most beneficial help you will ever receive is going to be from one-on-one interactions with other writers.  In my case, I take important editing advice from my writing group, from other bloggers, from online writing friends I have made, and from friends and family who read my work. You never know when someone random in your life will have that touch of expertise that you desperately need. Nobody is perfect, and nobody knows everything right out the gate. For anyone who wishes to be successful at any level, you must reach out to other writers, for about a million different reasons. It would take me weeks to write down every single benefit to having writer friends. Seriously.

If you really need an example to convince you, here it is: Saving my book to be suitable for Kindle was problematic for me- the words all mushed together, and all of my carefully plotted out spacing just went up in an unimpressive, underwhelming poof. I was venting this frustration to another writer, and he told me I was saving the file in the wrong format. That’s it. Drop down menu, one click. Entire problem solved with one sentence, just because I knew the right person, and said the right thing, at the right time.

So find a group, be it online or in person, and start meeting people. You can only benefit from the social networking, and you may prevent yourself from slowly morphing into a library troll. Nobody looks good with green skin.

Happy writing!

Helpful CreateSpace Tips

As you know, I published Tilted Tales to Amazon.com via CreateSpace. It was not overly difficult to do, and they give you plenty of instructions/advice. Even so, I had a little help with the formatting from my previously published friend, and I leaned so much from her during the process. But, as with any first time project, I learned some things not to do the hard way. I’m happy to share it now.

1. If you are working under a deadline, give yourself at least a month to edit and proof your copies, so you are certain the final project is everything it can be. I was pushing for a Christmas deadline, and I feel like a mistake or two I made might have been caught sooner, or avoided, had I not felt so rushed.

2. Don’t trust the color balance on the digital proof- ordering a physical proof is an absolute must. I ordered bookmarks from Gotprint.com, and the color balance on my cover image was perfect. I (wrongly) assumed that meant the digital image was perfect, and I submitted Tilted Tales without getting a hard copy- after all, it was already printing out correctly, right? Wrong. Different printers have different color balances. I have discovered that Amazon.com’s printers are about two shades darker than the ones at gotprint.com. I ended up having to resubmit and order new proofs of a lightened image. Don’t make my mistake.

3. PDF files do not convert well to Kindle format. You will note that the Kindle edition of my book is not up yet- that is because I am still working on getting the correct format. When submitting your manuscript, you will need to save one file as a PDF, and one in HTML. Now, if your version of Microsoft Word is older than 2010, you will not have this option in the drop down menu in the save as window. There is an alternative option. Google docs has the option to save your document this way, however you will have to fiddle with the formatting a bit. Also, the file name of your manuscript does show across the top of every page, so I recommend naming the file by the title of your book so it reads like a header. I also recommend buying a newer edition of Word. I certainly will.

If you take only one piece of advice from me, then let it be this: Take your time, check everything twice. Your book is your baby- you worked very hard to complete your manuscript. Don’t cut corners at the moment when you need to shine.

My Children’s Book

 

So I have just completed a children’s story that I intend to self-publish. It began as a rather long, fun poem, but with encouragement from my writers group it evolved into a full story. I’m nearly done with the editing (as much as a writer ever can be anyway) and my next step it the artwork to go along with my story.

But the writing is only half of a children’s book. Kids love pictures that tell the story, so I needed to figure out what kind of illustration I wanted.  Upon some further research I found that you can hire an artist and pay them per illustration- the going rate seems to be about $100 to $200 per drawing online, or you can team up with an artist and split credit (and profit) from the book down the middle. I do know a few artists that would be amazing at it, but since graphic art is something I like to do (and have done professionally before), I decided I am going to do the artwork myself. I plan to make little figurines out of Sculpey and Fimo clay and pose them in scenes to take pictures, then turn them into something that looks illustrated in Photoshop. I will be sure to share more with you as my illustration adventure develops.

My father-in-law has a friend who has published a children’s story, so when I told him I wanted to publish he helped me get in touch with his writer friend. His friend told me that publishers want you to have everything done and mapped out before you even contact them, so I will be finishing my artwork before I take any efforts to publish further. The advice that he gave as far as marketing and publishing boiled down to this: Do as much of it yourself as possible. The publishers will be happy to do it for you, but their help requires lots of money. He also said they are impatient; any edits and adjustments are expected the same day they ask for them, and they get irritated if you delay. They also don’t really proof anything-if your work isn’t perfect when you hand it to them, then that is what will go into print.

With all this in mind, I am very nervous about my first independent self-published work. Even so, I am not deterred.