Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Searching through various blog achieves I found a great post that hit home with me.

Write the story you want to read.

I didn’t write my series because I had a deep love for historical fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, Jules Watson, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Susana Kearsley wrote some of my favorite books, but I also love suspense, historical fiction, paranormal, thriller, horror…and the list goes on. I fall in love with a story, not a style or a genre.

Instead of a rebellious streak (although I’m sure my parents would say I’ve always been rebellious) or an experimenting phase in my teenage years, I went through a new age/occult stage. I read books on palm reading, astrology, witchcraft, ghost hunting, pendulum swinging, gem stones, Ouija boards, dream interpretation, and many other interesting topics. I sought out new age speakers like Sylvia Browne and searched for authentic psychics, past life regressionists, and palm readers.

One of the things that excited me most was reincarnation. The idea that we’ve lived before along with others we care about in this life. That we continuously work through issues with the help of others. We might start out selfish and extremely flawed and improve with adversity. That we’ve traveled throughout time and brought our love of eras along with us. How our attachments and hatreds stem from a history of loyalties or let downs.

After reading many past life books discussing others remembered experiences and hearing about my own possible experiences during hypnosis, I still felt like I wanted to try to feel what this really would be like. I remember sitting in the movie theatre, a trailer came on, and for a few instants it sounded like the movie of my dreams was about to be released; finally the past life epic saga that I yearned for! But after more explanations I realized that it was another story. I’d pick up a book with a past life theme but would be let down upon reading the blurb that it only went back one life and the major focus was a romantic soul mate relationship. Just one person that was important to the main character, not a whole group of important people? They weren’t realistic, if a soul returned in many lives there would be more than one person that traveled with them. Furthermore,  the focus of each life would not be only a romantic one, life is much more complicated than that.

Where was the book/movie that took the viewer from the very beginning of the first life and showed their detailed development throughout time evolving along with their closest companions and enemies?

What did I decide do?

Write the books.

I wrote the story I wanted to read. I culminated all I’ve read, experienced, and fantasized about. I chose the time periods I loved or have been told I’d been a part of. I created characters I would have wanted on my journey; loyal and exciting characters as well as captivating, flawed characters that you love to hate. Even characters that may surprise you, those who begin much differently than they end up.

Oh well, I won’t give anymore away but this is why I’m pushing so hard to get this series out. I’ve heard before that this is an ambitious project, that the nature of the series is extremely complicated, and takes a lot of effort to keep track of each character’s progression through the novels, but this is what I wanted to read. This is what I was looking for!

If I was craving to see this story come to life than others must want to see this portrayed as well. I just have to find them 🙂

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Revising Blues

(Okay, well it could be worse)

With all the work I’m doing to get my first book in the best shape possible, doing all the research for self-publishing, and even trying to revise the second book in my spare time (what’s that?), I find myself dreaming of writing again.

When I started writing my series, researching all day, and writing at night the word count piled up, and story after story kept flowing. I remember keeping a pad of paper handy after showers, car trips, and walks just jotting down all the little bits of inspiration that popped up all the time. The writing was going so well that I was going to write all four books before rewriting but worried that I needed feedback from beta’s, work-shoppers, and agents to be sure I was on the right track.

So began the revision and rewriting process…and it seems never-ending!

The more people look at my work, the more things I find to tweak and change. Every time I look at those familiar jumble of words I see ways to improve sentences and flow. So the question I ask is will this ever seem ready for me?

I’ve heard of people who get stuck in the revision process and they never get their work out. I would have never thought I would be that sort of person due to my impatient nature and lack of love for editing, but I want this book to go out as best as I can get it. Is this one of the draw backs of self-publishing? That we don’t have people over us, cracking the whip saying “do another draft” or “change this, this, and this” and “don’t touch another blessed word!”

Do serious self-publishers take longer to feel that their novel is done? Will there be a time where I read through my MS and angels chime in the far background as my last page glows…perfection!

I doubt it, but I set that date so I don’t have a choice! 11-11-11 looms over my head, beating like the tell-tale heart.

So for now I must keep staring at these memorized-by-now words, endlessly reading about self-publishing, and getting to memorize the sequel’s words…focusing on the one glorious day I will get to create again!

This too shall pass…this too shall pass…

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Ode to Spell Check

It’s a beautiful day so I’m going to get my son out early and head to the beach 🙂

So just a quick post today and I wanted to spend this time to thank the little thing I would seriously panic without–

spell check

I was not the kid getting in line for spelling bees or the kid who was especially interested in grammar rules. When teachers put sentences up on the board I began doodling in my notebooks. Later, I always needed someone to look over my term papers and one teacher once told me that I could be a terrific writer one day but would need a fantastic editor 🙂

After I finished the third book in the series (yes, I wrote like crazy for a whole year) I realized if I really wanted this out I needed to finally pay attention to all the rules. I bought books and searched writing blogs. I went through each draft with each specific grammar rule. I just kept searching and deleting and restructuring.

I was really absorbing a lot of this stuff for the first time and could tell my future writing began to improve. But the one thing I still need is that blessed, little ABC icon. I feel so secure having it there, knowing that it will catch most of the mistakes I make. It allows me the confidence to put myself out here on this blog.

Nothing like a few spelling errors when your trying to sell yourself as an author.

Alright, off to the beach! Happy Friday everyone!

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Wow! That was so much easier than I thought and I’m so pleased with the results. I’ve posted it up on my Book Trailer page and please let me know what you think!

Even though I’d been searching and collecting images for a bit before, the actual process of creating the video clip took me about a day and a half. I never used iMovie before so this was learning completely from scratch. I wanted to let everyone know exactly how I did this so anyone can create one themselves–and I’m no techy so seriously anyone can do this.

Step 1) First, I opened up a new project on iMovie and titled it. Then I downloaded all the images I collected free and some I purchased to iPhoto (not sure if there is a direct way to just download it to iMovie, but remember I’m figuring this all out on my own and this way worked). When I clicked on the camera icon on my iMovie page there was all the photos I wanted when I highlighted last months photos. I was able to just drag each photo to the desired placement of my new project.

Step 2) Once I got them all in the order I wanted I went to Kevin MacLeod’s website, searched the mood I wanted, and I sampled some fantastic choices. I knew immediately which song I wanted to go with and I downloaded it to my iMovie. I clicked on the musical note tab to drag the song to my project. The music shows up as an encompassing highlight around your pictures. It will go as long as you have pictures or when the song ends. I found I had to delete a few images to fit the song time (click on the clip and press delete).

Step 3) Now I tried it out with the music by hitting the play button. I realized I needed to change timing to get each image in time with the music. Each image gets a default time of 4 seconds so in order to change them you must click on the image until clip duration pops up and you can type in exactly how long you want the image to appear. If you want all the images that duration you check the box to apply to all clips, otherwise leave it unchecked to specify this one clip. I found I needed to tweak each time to fit perfectly with the music and this did take some time.

Step 4) When doing step 3 be careful not to be completely exact since you need to put some transitions between clips to make it all smooth. Next to the camera icon and the musical note icon is an icon for transitions. Click on that and you can highlight each option to display how the transition appears. I decided to use two different transitions to decipher between the lives and within the lives. I used a flash between the lives and the cross dissolve between the others. Drag the transition and place between the desired clip and click on it to set the timing of the dissolve.

Step 5) Hit the play button again to perfect the timing EXACTLY to the music. This takes some time.

Step 6) To finesse the look further you can apply cropping, Ken Burns effect, and even video effect. Click on the image and under the clip duration box you see Video Effect. It defaults to None but when you click on it you get so many options to play with such as flipped, black & white, dream, sepia, and so many more. Once you choose the desired effect click on the cropping icon next to the microphone. On the side bar of your clip you’ll see three options Fit, Ken Burns, and Crop. I mostly chose the Ken Burns since it allows you to zoom and move the image however you want. This looks wonderful since it adds movement to the stills. When you click this effect a red and green box appears on the image. If you click on the green ‘start’ box you can control the size and placement of where the image will begin. Then you do the same for the red ‘end’ box and by overlapping or separating them you get as much movement as you would like. This is another part where you need some time to get it just the way you want.

Step 7) Now you’re ready for text. It’s best to try to be as laconic as possible. Write out a script on a piece of paper and try to remove any unneeded words. Your job here is to give your potential reader the impression and feel of the book. A brief outline of what’s in store for them and to entice them into going to your website to read more and hopefully buy. You’re trying to grab them, so the fewer words the better. Go hit the upper case T button between the camera button and the transition button. You’ll get some different placement options and text effects. Once you’ve picked the one you want drag it to the clip. Click on the clip and the text box will appear where you wanted it. Type in desired text and if you’d like to change the font, click the font button that appears above the image your working on. You’ll get some options of text, color, size, style and alignment to play with but if you want more text options you can click on System Font Panel. It’s a great idea to always include your cover, website, and planned launch date at the end. You can always go back and take the date out later to use after the launch.

Step 8 ) Watch the whole project again and perfect everything. Once it’s exactly the way you want it go up to the File button and select finalize clip. This will take about 40 minutes. Once that’s done go to the share button and select the YouTube option and upload it (you’ll need to sign up for a YouTube account before this step if you didn’t already have one). Make sure to specify if you want this clip viewed privately or publicly. Since most of us want as many people as we can to see it, most will choose the public option. Click the view option as soon as that’s done and you’ll see your original, amazing book trailer up for everyone to see!

Step 9) You want to be sure to give the specified credit under the descriptions box on YouTube for Kevin MacLeod’s music–and if you haven’t already donated to him for the clip you should do so now.

Step 10) Now it’s time to send this link out to friends and forums to get feedback if anything needs to change. Once you feel confident that it’s as fantastic as you can make it. Email it out to all your contacts, post it on your blog, send it out to guest blogs, feature it on your Facebook account and every possible place you can send it! Let this be your calling card!

So that’s it! Hopefully I made this easier for everyone–remember a special note–I’m not tech savvy and this might have been completely round-about way to do this, but I did it and if you need help follow this and it does turn out pretty awesome if I do say so myself!

Good luck to all you out there and feel free to comment here if you have any questions. I’ll try my (technologically-challenged) best to help 🙂

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I am most definitely an introvert.

Long ago writing was the perfect career for an introvert, but now writers just don’t have that option. Well, I guess they do, but it most likely would end in very meager sales, especially if they’re self-publishing.

When an author is creating it’s all in their heads. The whole imagined world is swirling around solely in their consciousness until they give birth to it on page. It’s this writing that takes its first breath but it still can be kept private. It’s a big step when the writer decides to let someone close and trusted see what they’ve spit out and that is a nerve-wracking time since it’s the first judgment pronounced on this very personal universe.

It was extremely hard for me to take the next step:


There I walked into a room of strangers who sat down and in turn explained the praise and problems of my inner creation. There were times after some especially harsh criticism that I felt like quitting–not signing up for the next session–but I realized that this was just the beginning of what could happen with agents, publishers, and reviewers. I had to go back, steel myself up, and realize that I could turn their comments into gold.

Surprisingly, agent rejections after this didn’t feel so harsh. It was still difficult to press the send button since I kept questioning if everything was truly ready, but I pressed and released it to the world. (Or so it felt). I had the misfortune of one very sought after agent interested in my full only hours after I sent my first query and that set me up for a slightly over inflated next few weeks. Then things slowed down a bit and I got partial requests that came and went until truly my dream agent requested the full. The more I read about her the more I realized she was the agent for me. When she wrote back a beautiful, honest, helpful rejection I decided that she was right, that I couldn’t change a large aspect of the book that would hurt my chances of attracting a publisher. So I decided to self-publish this series and attempt to get this agent with another book in the future.

The next step was to create this website and start-up this blog. All an uncomfortable amount of exposure for me. To be out on the web and putting my daily thoughts out to everyone was very hard for me to overcome. But I know this is all necessary to get this world of mine out. This world that wants to be heard and experienced by so many.

Why did I create this story if it was only meant for me to read?

So how do I, the introvert, get this book out there to be seen? What is the next step? The closer I get to self-publishing the more I must put everything out there to be critiqued, judged–and hopefully in the end–praised.

Here is my plan:

1) I must create a cover, blurb, book trailer and put them up on forums to tell me what’s working and what’s not.

2) I must get my sample chapter and book trailer up on this blog for others to see.

3) I must keep blogging and attract some followers

4) I must get the actual physical, tangible, final book online and in reader’s hands–this scares me and thrills me equally–People will soon know what’s been in my head this whole time. Strangers will learn this world that was once only mine.

5) I must send out free copies to critical reviewers and hope to get a good buzz going

6) I must guest blog on sites that will have an interest in my book

7) I must get my next book out!

Will I still be an introvert after all this exposure? I most likely will still be, but I sure am working on it 🙂

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Book Trailers

So today I was researching book trailers. Many have mixed thoughts about the effectiveness of posting a book trailer. A general consensus seems to be that a good percentage of amateur book trailers are poorly done and actually turns-off the reader from purchasing. Many think that the blurb should be the only tool for promotion since it displays the writer’s ability and talent, but then I think about how writers (traditional and self-published) need to use every promotional tool available to be noticed. Most need to create their own websites and blogs so why not create a book trailer as well?

I might be the minority here but I love book trailers. I don’t expect them to be Steven Spielberg quality and I love to have something visual that sets the mood and anticipation for a book. I’ve yet to come across one that I didn’t enjoy but I’m sure they’re out there. I’m not saying I always bought every book I viewed but I think it’s wonderful to review the book blurb, the first chapter, and a video trailer. If all of those peaks my interest I would buy.

So what should you keep in mind while planning your book trailer? Well, let’s look at some of the things that make a bad book trailer:

1) Using bad quality photos–bad resolution, cheap looking, uninteresting

2) The music is not in time with the images–make sure you choose review and perfect the timing to match

3) The author only posts the trailer on their website–it’s a great tool for posting on forums, other blogs, facebook/twitter, and links on your signature

4) Using music or images without permission or payment–you can go to Kevin MacLeod’s site Incompetech for fantastic royalty free music (he only asks for a small donation and credit) and royalty free image sites such as Wikimedia Commons for all your images.

5) Trying to actually film a movie without expertise–it seems the best amateur trailers are done by focusing in or out on intriguing stills and with captivating text.

6) Making it too long–they’re much more effective short and sweet

7) Making it too wordy–most book trailers I’ve seen uses very few words, usually single words at a time for impact

8)Using the same description you use for your book blurb–this is an opportunity to use a different approach

9) Fails to set the mood of the book–it’s critical that you choose music and images that will best describe your book and the atmosphere you create for your reader.

10) Putting it up when you think it’s perfect–as with everything promotional for your book test it out among trusted friends, discerning family, and especially writers forums (not only will they help tremendously it’s good exposure).

When should one create and post their trailer?

Some use a trailer way before publication and sometimes even during querying to entice curious agents. Some create one to spotlight their launch date. While others put up the trailer upon launching, listing at the end where they can purchase their new novel.

So what is the best timing for me? I will have to think about this for a bit but in the mean time I’m going to order the software needed and begin playing!

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Will you be my friend?

Yes, I feel like I’m back in a new school, searching for friendly faces, and praying that I don’t end up sitting at the lunch table alone…again. Actually in all honesty I was so mortified at being seen alone that I would not even eat if it meant sitting alone. So this new blog is so challenging for me! I never was the person that could just walk into a room and start talking to strangers, but luckily I somehow manged to meet people slowly whenever I needed to.

Blogs are a fantastic (and free) way for people to notice your books and gain a loyal following, for both traditionally and self-published writers. So how does one begin a blog and earn new followers?

These are all the hints I’ve picked up along the way and hopefully will pay off soon:

1) Start following and COMMENTING on other’s blogs–I still need to do this more…

2) Post on writer’s forums and partake in active discussions–I noticed every time I post threads my traffic increases vastly

3) Try to write blogs on a consistent and predictable schedule. More people will keep checking for updates if you’re dependable–my goal is to post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday regardless of vacations and daily life dramas.

4) Pick a strong theme for your blog and stay on topic. If you write around the same issue it will keep your audience’s attention–my main focus will be my trials, tribulations and (hopefully) triumphs of self-publishing and fiction writing in general.

5) Always strive to keep your blog posts current, interesting, humorous, and colorful–there are many places around the web to find free images to liven up your posts and if you hit a dry spell scanning other’s wonderful blogs can spark inspiration for a new topic of your own.

6) Even though it may seem like no one’s out there you still must express yourself and hope that in the future others will stop by and peruse these achieves once you get your gang going–but until then I will keep staring wistfully at my 0 commentors.

7) When all else fails get your family members and friends to join up to keep you company–I haven’t gotten to this stage yet but if you see 20 commentors all of a sudden than I might have reached this point.

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Beta Readers

This post applies to all writers but I think it is exceptionally important that self-publishers beta far and wide. Since we are only going to pay to have one or two editors look over our manuscripts before publishing, it’s essential to get other writer’s feedback. Now of course, having Uncle Jim and your best pal Sally read through and give you their reader’s critique is fantastic, but there is nothing like having another writer line-by-line critique your novel.

This is especially helpful if you find a beta that writes in the same genre you do. Each genre has different rules (pacing, word count, voice, world building, details, language, etc.) and only someone who writes this will be able to tell you what you’re doing right and–more importantly–wrong.

So where can you find these extremely important people who will read your book, weighing every blessed word and handing you back hundreds of critical comments for free? (Well, some beta read for nothing in return but it’s usually good manners to offer to help them with critiques on their works-in-progress).

The best place to find beta readers is on some of the writers forums offered free of charge. I’ve become a member on Absolute Write and I’ve already found so much helpful information on there. It’s best if you register and get to know all the rules and start reading backlogs of priceless information (many, many late nights spent reading). The moderators prefer that you give feedback and get to know the board for a bit before sharing your work and requesting beta readers–although, you can gather 50 posts very quickly just welcoming other members on the forum.

Those on the board suggest the best way to get beta readers is to post up your first chapter under the genre thread that applies and sometimes people will offer to beta read or if you get a wonderful critique you might private message them asking if they would be willing to read more. I went to their section on beta readers and read through the post of willing beta readers. I found three that sounded like they might like my novel and private messaged them. One got back that they wanted to read something of mine first (I never heard back from them), another never got back at all, and the last one began swapping chapters with me slowly–always best to trade a few chapters at a time to see how you work together first.

Well, she is awesome! I was so happy to find someone who’s work I really enjoyed. Reading her novel was not work for me and I truly loved helping her improve things, and better yet, just enjoyed cheering her on. She has helped me so incredibly much and seen things no one else has picked up that I can’t imagine not having had her input. I know I’m so lucky to have found someone so supportive, observant, hard-working, professional, and critical so soon. She’s not afraid to tell me when something doesn’t sound right, seem plausible, or flow well. She takes my critiques with so much appreciation as well. She flew through my 70,000 word ms in no time and now she’s helping me with the sequel! I know, I’ll stop rubbing it in and get back to this post at hand.

So those are all the key qualities you must look for in beta reader so get out there and search, because even if it takes some time when you find the right one it will do wonders for your book and hopefully your novels to come 🙂

Good luck!

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Okay well this isn’t directly connected to self-publishing but I had to comment on it. I have to tell you when I heard of the countdown to this legendary announcement I was so excited that Rowling would unveil a spin-off of the Harry Potter Series. I was busy envisioning how she could make the saga continue with Harry’s children, possibly Albus Jr versus another of his children who inherited Voldemort’s traits. Harry, Hermione, and Ron could all still play large roles and I would devour the book in a day!

So when I heard the big announcement was that she was choosing to sell the Harry Potter Series electronically it is an understatement to say I was utterly disappointed. I’m sure this was huge news to all the book sellers out there but to me it didn’t deserve this much attention.

Later in the day I read around and someone on a writing brought brought up how this was some distant form of self-publishing since she was only selling this ebook via Pottermore and “publishing in partnership with her existing international publishers.” It made me think what a smart move it was for her to do this, cutting out Amazon, Apple, and book sellers. I’m sure she had the money to fund this all herself and was probably keeping her partners in for good will.

Is this a start for well-known authors with a loyal fan base to take ebooks into their own hands? Is this a great reason for authors to hold onto their electronic rights? I think we may see more of this in the future 🙂

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A Self-Published Cover

So here it is, the cover for my debut novel, Infinite Sacrifice.

The fact is that everyone does judge a book by its cover–well that and the blurb. Well why not? It’s really all we have to go by.Yes, you might still purchase a less than amazing cover if someone you trust highly recommends a book, but most of the time you will trust a gut reaction based on how professional and captivating a cover is.

After reading so much helpful advice about covers it seems that these are the most important things to keep in mind while creating yours:

1) Make sure it tells something about your book.

2)Be sure to study other successful covers in your genre and try to create a similar look

3)Be just as sure to check out unsuccessful self-published covers to avoid their mistakes

4) Make sure it looks good as a thumbnail size since that is what most of your potential customers will see

5) Make sure the title & author name can be read easily (especially as a thumbnail)

6) Be sure to check that it looks good in grey-scale since many reading devices are not in color.

7) If you don’t have graphics design experience make sure you hire someone who is familiar with cover designs

So having no graphics background I knew I was going to hire out. I searched all over the internet for book designers and it was so difficult to find based on all their portfolios. I would say I usually liked only about a 1/4 of their covers. Of course those covers are not always a direct representation of what that graphics designer is capable of since the self-published author is most likely directing them, which makes the choice so much harder.

I narrowed it down to two possible options based on portfolios and recommendations. There was a great price difference between these two and even though I was willing to pay a lot for my cover I decided to try the relatively inexpensive designer first. I had a very strong idea of what I wanted for the first book (and the series) and I even searched through tons of photos on iStockPhoto and other various sites and found one image that just screamed out a scene in my book. I decided to invest the small price and see what I got, if I didn’t like it I’d lose little and move onto the other designer.

So I contacted the designer and detailed two different covers I imagined and sent her the istock photo I chose. She had four options sent to me immediately! I couldn’t believe how fast she worked and I realized right away one of my ideas was not coming across well but the other just needed a little tweaking. The cover designer was so patient with me, trying out various font styles, coloring, and placement. She created the infinity sign and even drew in the thorns, she also was able to completely get rid of some images that came with the iStock photo. She was so accommodating until I was completely satisfied (if anyone would like her name I would be happy to privately email you). I was so pleased with the end result and the price was so reasonable that I immediately asked her to make one for the sequel! Cover creating is so addictive!

After my editor gets through with the ms and the blurb I wrote I’m going to put them both up on the kindle boards to hear feedback before I set them in stone. I think the only thing that can top the feeling I got upon seeing the final cover is when I get that first copy to put in my bookshelf!

Oh that, and maybe outselling Amanda Hocking…haha.

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