Sunday, September 25, 2011

One Step Closer

I've been busy this weekend. After throwing myself a pity party for not having enough stuff done, I worked my butt off the past two days. Cover art is complete, I finished editing all 172 pages of Walk the Red Road (revisions still need to be made to the actual document), and I made my posters for the festival this coming weekend.

I love art--painting, drawing, you name it. With work and writing I haven't had time to paint much of anything lately, so I was very excited to sit down and make some posters. They started off like this (the box is full of acrylic paints and brushes):

And turned into this:

You just have to have a book now! I'll be selling Beyond the Western Sun at a discounted price of $10, as well as my second novel, The Iron Fist: Legacy of the Helping Hands simply because I have extras and want to get rid of them. I'm hoping to really play up the 'local author' aspect, as Family Days is in the town where I grew up, and I graduated high school there. As I mentioned before, I also have participated in the Streetpainting Festival there for the past 11 years so hopefully I can drive traffic to my booth by getting my artist friends to spread the word. I still need to make some business cards, and my super awesome aunt is going to make copies of an article I was in to hand out, since it features my book and website info.

In case you're interested, I figured I'd share some art tips. I don't normally work with acrylics since I prefer oils, but oils take like 50 years to dry and I don't have that kind of time. So, cheap acrylics it is! I used regular poster board from Michaels and their small bottles of paints (mine are probably 5 or more years old, so I can't be entirely sure I got the paint from Michaels, though I just bought the boards the other day). I used these for the "$10 Each" lettering:

Honestly, I don't recommend them. They are super hard to work with because you have to peel everything off separately, and because the paper is so thin they curl and are almost impossible to glue down. I think I ripped every other letter/number. If you have a kid's science project or something not all that important then these are a great solution, but for making posters with paint you'd need something stronger since glue doesn't stuck to acrylics (I had to paint these down).

For the lettering, I used a variety of brushes. This is the main one:

Because it's angled, I get a better line and can make the swirly designs I'm so fond of.

For the blended backgrounds (both the brown/white and red/black, I used a sponge brush:

It's pretty simple. Just put the two colors you are using side-by-side, then dip the brush in, making sure each side is coated in the separate colors. Then paint in a side-to-side motion on the poster board. For the black-and-red board, I let it dry a bit then went over it lightly with red to give it a rougher, more unique pattern compared to the blended look of the brown and white.

So, that was my work for today! I didn't use anything for the lettering and got lucky that the words were straight. That doesn't usually happen. Maybe being a lefty helps, since you have to be more careful about where you place your hand to avoid smearing. Or not, I don't really know. I just want to find ONE THING that lefties have that we can lord over you right-handed folk.

Friday, September 23, 2011

I Give You...Whisper!

It's been a long journey, but Whisper has finally come alive. Before I present to you the finished product (who am I kidding, you're all scrolling down by now), I want to give major, major props to my artist, Red Hall of Crayon City. Red is one of the most talented people I know, and she took my God-awful initial sketch and made it into something amazing. I also want to thank my designer friend and musician Nicole VanNienwenhove of Rusholme Ruffians for helping me add the text at the end.

Just to show you how awesome Red is, she took this crappy drawing (it says Beyond the Western Sun because this was what I initially wanted for the first book):

And turned it into THIS:

I can't thank Red enough for all the immensely hard and dedicated work she put into this cover. I think she went through some 40 or more versions with various coloring, skin tones, faces, etc., all to meet my vision. I'm sure I was the biggest pain in the ass ever with my tweaking requests and for that I apologize, but regardless working with Red was a fun and unique learning experience. What resulted is a cover I am in love with. I can't express how incredible it is to see my favorite character in front of me, alive in some sense of the word.

So, there you have it. Walk the Red Road is one step closer to completion. I may make minor tweaks here and there until printing because I'm an annoying person who can't leave well enough alone, but for all intents and purposes, this is it.

Thanks again, Red!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Feeling the Pressure

There’s not much to this post other than to help me keep my own sanity by throwing myself a pity party. I’ve come to the realization that I set unattainable expectations upon myself, which only results in me feeling guilty and deficient when I fail. And the worse part is, I already know this about myself and yet I continue to do it anyway.

My October deadline is rapidly approaching. I know I won’t make it, and this depresses me. But, somewhere deep in the back of my mind where all the secret wishes and undiscovered stories lurk, I knew I wouldn’t make it from the very beginning. That’s what I do—I set deadlines that can’t be met, putting unnecessary pressure on myself that inevitably makes me less likely to actually do the damn work.

Part of the problem is that right now, there’s just too much going on. I have three classes to plan for (teaching, not taking), and the lesson plans are very detailed so they are taking forever. I have a full-time job that involves writing, so the last thing I want to do when I get home is get back on the computer. I also have an event to plan for, and posters to decorate by next weekend. And, I still have about 110 pages to edit, which doesn’t even begin to include actually going back and making my revisions.

Right now, I feel like this:

(Google pic)

To make matters worse, my wrists and fingers ache constantly and with so much going on, that pain has spread to my elbows and neck. I just…hurt, and there’s nothing that can be done about it outside of a surgery I’m not willing to have done because it risks far more than I have to gain. If you ever see me in person you’ll notice that I rarely keep my hands still, because it hurts to do so. Keeping my fingers and hands in motion helps prevent them from locking up and going numb or getting too stiff. I want to give the finger to my fingers.

But hey, at least I have a super helpful sidekick to aid me in my quest for failuredom (What? It’s totally a word). Sir Whisky is always more than happy to sit on my papers, and show his support:

I know it’s stupid to be upset over missing a deadline, especially when the deadline hasn’t even passed and it’s not a date that’s set in stone for any reason other than I said so. But there is so much to do, that only I can do, that it’s overwhelming and I just want to not do it at all. But I will, because while I bitch and moan about being stressed, I love what I do. Ah, the life of a writer. Well, this writer at least.

I will say, in supremely awesome news, that I am nearly ready to reveal the cover for Walk the Red Road. That will be coming soon, and I am very excited to show you all how amazingly talented my artist friend is.

Anyway, I guess I should get to work now. I’ve procrastinated long enough and it’s time to stop feeling sorry for myself.

Side note: I DON'T feel like this, but I came across this picture in my search for a frustrated image and thought it awesome so I wanted to share:

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Red Road Is on Paper!

Time to Edit!
So today I printed out Walk the Red Road (ok, had someone else do it for me). I was going to do it this weekend, which means I'm ahead of schedule for once! This will be my final edit, and S is going to read it as well to give his input. That makes me the most nervous for some reason. I can handle constructive criticism from anyone else, but for some reason I get defensive when it comes from S. I think because I want him to love it as much as I do, so I get sad when he finds an error and it's not perfect after all. I know, I have issues.

Look! My story!

It's beautiful!

It's ginormous! Hey look, Nemo made it into the picture.

And before I forget, the most important part of the book:

I know. Awww. He knows this dedication means he's never allowed to leave me. I can't be having a special book dedication out there for an ex. No siree. Luckily he's here to stay. By the way, this dedication was supposed to be a surprise but he caught it while sitting next to me as I was scrolling through the document, so...busted.

The one thing I forgot to do though was include page numbers. SO. ANNOYING. Why? Because there are a bajillion pages (bajillion = 172) and it's a pain in the butt finding my place my text rather than by page number when making changes from paper to computer version. Also, because I have a cat who likes to do things like this 30 minutes after your book has been printed:

Thanks, Whisky.

It's going to take awhile to get this done. Part of my weekend is dedicated to editing, but the other part I have to use to start my lesson plans. That's right, this quiet, hates-the-spotlight girl will possibly be teaching 3 classes this spring semester (Intro to Lit, Creative Writing, and Web Writing). So I'm in the middle of reading these books, plus a few others I already rejected as having class potential:

The big books scare me. That's why they've been saved for last.

I don't have much more to say on this matter other than I'm excited to do my final read-through and finally put in the chapter breaks. I also wanted to include a picture of the crisp, clean pages because when I'm done, I'm going to show you how god-awful they look all marked up with edits and ideas for changes. I think the revision process on paper is fascinating. Maybe you don't, but I figure this blog is about writing and that's all part of the process. So, clean version:

It won't look like this by the time I'm done.

Stay tuned!

Oh, and Remember My To-Do List from Earlier?
*Revising manuscript according to editors--ALMOST DONE
*Finding a way to print out manuscript without spending a fortune--DONE
*Give book to S to read and revise--SOON
*Insert chapter breaks and edit again (last time)--IN PROCESS
*Purchase barcode
*Assign ISBN to barcode
*Purchase self-publishing package
*Write book synopsis--THIS IS HARD. NOT DONE
*Write interior text--DONE
*Complete book cover once art is received--ALMOST DONE

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Getting Organized Is Hard

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m all over the place. Books are in piles, random bits of paper are tacked to the wall, quotes and book ideas are scribbled across menus and napkins and old school papers. Being organized (organized in the “normal” sense, that is) just isn’t easy for me.  See?

Wall o' stuff (and a purdy drawing by my momma). This is actually pretty organized compared to how it's looked in the past.

A bajillion books. Believe it or not each shelf has a theme.

My writing drawer. I'm not sure why there is duct tape in there.

 Where all my ideas are tucked away.

It might surprise you to learn, then, that my movies are meticulously alphabetized and organized by category. But that’s different. Those are my movies; they need to be in order. I can’t explain why, but it makes me extremely anxious having them in disarray.

Anyway, I’ve been slacking on getting organized for my book stuff. I’m lazy, I procrastinate. But, S has been kicking me in the butt (figuratively, of course. He wouldn’t actually kick me) to get things together and be proactive in selling my books. It’s nice that he’s so confident in my books and believes in me, and that I can actually do this. I need that voice in my ear acting as my cheerleader (I just got the image of S dressed as a cheerleader and it made me laugh. I wonder how skilled he is at the pyramid). I’ve been trying really hard on finalizing things for Walk the Red Road and will actually be printing out the latest version for final edit (yay!) this weekend. I also will be setting up a local book signing here in town.

But the big thing I did required me making a very hard decision. It was painful to make, and part of me still regrets it, but ultimately I know I’m doing what’s best for my future as an author. I reserved a booth at this year’s Port Orange Family Days. Family Days is an annual fair at Port Orange’s City Center. Games and rides and awesome fair food stands are set up by the Rec center, and on the weekend (always the first weekend of October) people can set up booths around the lake. Booths range from local politicians to schools raffling off gift baskets as fundraisers to the Humane Society looking to adopt out animals to local businesses marketing their services or products. This year, I’m going to be at one of those booths.

So why was this a hard decision? Because there is a second part to Family Days, one that is close to my heart. The same weekend vendors set up their booths, artists head out to the other side of the lake to chalk up the sidewalks. The Streetpainting Festival is hosted by ArtHaus, a local art organization that I used to volunteer with in high school. I made great friends there, and been participating in the festival for the past 11 years. Yes, for 11 years I’ve gotten up at the crack of dawn, hauled a huge bag filled with boxes of chalk, hairspray (seals the chalk to the concrete), and sponges to my square, and spent the next 10 hours drawing and chalking and getting covered in color. See?

Throughout the years I’ve even suckered my mom, little brother, husband, and best friend into helping me. It’s a lot of fun, I get to see people I only see once a year, and most importantly, it’s a tradition that breaks my heart a bit to end. Of course, I can always go back next year, and it’s not like I’m not a part of Family Days at all, but I’m predicting some sadness as I run my booth and look across the lake at all the artists doing their thing. I feel like I’m abandoning them a bit; I hope they understand.

So preparing for this booth is a bittersweet moment. In truth, I know I won’t sell many copies. Most people go for the free handouts and promotions; they won’t want to pay $10 for a book. It’s not about getting rich, but about promoting myself and the release of Walk the Red Road. I recruited my favorite young reader, Mackenzy, to help me on Saturday, October 1st, taking pictures, handing out business cards, getting set up, etc. After that, it’s up to me to get out of my comfort zone and sell my stories. I’ve never done a booth before so I’m a bit nervous. Promotions of any kind make me nervous.

I think I’m mostly ready outside of needing to print some more business cards. These are the books I need to sell (not all at the booth, some are for the selling I’m setting up and for my consignment deal) and the tent, because I know you’re all dying to see them:


(Just imagine the legs all the way up, I didn't feel like doing it the first time)

See? I’m totally organized.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Every Writer Has Doubts…Right?

*Warning—If you haven’t read Beyond the Western Sun and want to, then don’t read this post. If you don’t mind possible spoilers (no outright spoilers, just nods to the first book), then by all means, keep on reading!*

I’ve reached the point in my book to where self-doubt has set in. This always happens when I’m almost ready to say “done,” which means no more changes, no more edits, just the final published form. I actually can’t go back and read my books once they are printed because I’m terrified of finding errors or having an “I wish I had” moment where I suddenly want to change something. So instead, I say good-bye to my book as soon as it’s bound. It’s both an exciting and heartbreaking moment, exciting because I have a finished work I’m proud to call my own, heartbreaking because the characters, the story, are no longer just my own and it’s time to let them just be free. I think this is why I love to write books in a series—I can stay with my characters, get to know them better, let them live a little longer.

If it sounds crazy, well maybe it is. The truth is, my characters are my best friends. While I do essentially become them, in a way, I also befriend them. They are their own people, and that can be troublesome at times. When I was writing BTWS, Whisper got away from me for a bit. I had every intention of making her this beacon of light and goodness, a shining example of how to overcome your fate and fight against your bloodline. Whisper had other ideas about who she wanted to be. I let her walk her own path for awhile but she ended up turning a bit too evil for me, so I had to rein her back in. We struggled back and forth for a bit and I let her have some control, but ultimately she ended up right where I wanted her to be.

What resulted was a character I fell in love with, one that I wish I could be in real life. I love her strength and conviction, her steadfast faith in who and what she is. From the very beginning, I had the scene of her killing that certain character by the end in my head but how she did it was completely different. When that time actually came, she was much more forceful and confident than I had originally imagined. It suited her perfectly and I love how she evolved from what I first pictured to who she is in BTWS.

Whisper is a character very close to my heart. She is the kind of person I hope to reflect, one who knows what she believes in, and isn’t afraid to believe it. One who is comfortable with who she is, even when others tell her that what she believes is ridiculous, blasphemous, stupid. But more, she is a person who isn’t afraid of her fate and faces destiny with squared shoulders and her head held high. Whisper takes charge, forges her own Red Road. These are the things I need to keep in mind for my own life.

Because Whisper means so much to me, I’m terrified of ruining her in Walk the Red Road. Sometimes I wonder if all authors have this fear, of saying just the wrong thing or writing just the wrong scene that completely goes against the character’s nature and ruins him/her. I really, really don’t want Whisper and Hunting Hawk to turn into Ayla and Jondalar in the end, because Holy Hera that ending hit me like a punch in the gut and completely broke my heart. I still haven’t recovered. I don’t want that for my readers, I want my characters to stay true to themselves and grow, while not disappointing people.

In the same light, I’m afraid of ruining the story as a whole. What if it doesn’t live up to BTWS? What if it’s not as exciting, or as interesting, or the stories/legends I chose to tell aren’t as intriguing? Or am I just over-thinking everything?

Part of the problem is that I’m always sad when nearing the end of the story. It’s time to close this chapter of the series, which is always a bit of a downer for me, and time to share the story with others, which is always nerve-racking. But at the same time it’s a good feeling, so I’m constantly conflicted—kind of how Whisper is constantly torn between the two parts of her self. It’s hard to remove yourself fully from the story when you’ve been immersed in it for so long, and readjust your sights on the real world when you now have to market the story instead of live it. Two completely different parts of the same book, two entirely different demands that ultimately join together as one.

I just have to remember, this isn’t the end of the story as a whole, but just one more part of an overall adventure.

And what an awfully big adventure it is.

Why Sir Whisky Is the Best Cat Ever

I have the day off because my truck died and I can’t work because I forgot my password, so instead of doing more book editing I’m going to tell y’all why my cat rocks. Then I’m going to take a nap.

Now, I’m sure you think your cat is the best cat in the world, but Whisky takes the cake. After all, is your cat named Sir Whisky Sour? My cat is royalty, yo.

I mean, look at this face. Clearly, the most handsome cat face in the world.

Sir Whisky will be 16 in December. He’s OLD. He’s also spoiled rotten, both because he’s old and because he’s essentially my child. I mean, he poops on himself, throws his food all over the kitchen floor, and insists on waking us up at the crack of dawn. That’s pretty much a child, right?

Sir Whisky got his name two different ways. When we first got him (I was in 8th grade, so around age 13, maybe?), his name was Whispers. We didn’t like this name, or his former owners. They abused him and he was terribly overweight and scared of his own shadow; it was so sad to see. The lady was giving him away because her husband kicked him all the time and his dogs tried to eat him. WTF lady. Give away your husband for being an abusive ass, why don’t you? Apparently someone had already taken Whisky, but brought him back because he wouldn’t come out from under the bed. We were his third home in 4 years and it took a long time for him to stop being afraid. Now, he is the sweetest cat in the world who loves attention. It just took lots of love and patience.

Anyway, we changed his name to Whiskers. Well, Whiskers decided he wanted a taste of rum and drank out of a rum and Coke (just a couple licks) and he was promptly given the nickname of Whisky Sour, and it just stuck. It’s kind of an ironic name because I hate the taste of liquor and very, very rarely drink. I’d much rather have a Pibb.

Some 7 or 8 years later (math is hard, I don’t feel like counting it out) I met S, who instantly knew that no other cat could ever compare to the awesomeness that is Whisky Sour. When we brought him up to Jax to move in with us, S decided that Whisky was also the most spoiled cat in the world who looked down on us as peasants (he can be quite demanding), so he started calling him Sir Whisky Sour and now makes him speak in a snooty British accent. It’s probably only funny in person. But, Sir Whisky does have that “I am so much better than you” face down pat.


Sir Whisky loves popcorn, Spaghettio’s meatballs, and treats. Oh, how he loves his treatsies (imagine Gollum saying that, it’s fun to say). He doesn’t get people food much anymore though because he can’t stomach it. Unfortunately, he has cancer (intestinal) and an ulcer so he’s on 3 different meds as well as monthly B-12 shots. We almost lost him earlier this year, and I’m extremely thankful for the vets who gave S and me this extra time with him. Sir Whisky is also deaf now, so he’s pretty much the loudest cat you’ll ever hear when he wants something, which is all the time. If you've ever seen the show Bored to Death, Sir Whisky is the feline equivalent to George Christopher. Whatever you have, he wants it. Whatever you're doing, he want to do it too. But he’s so damn cute that everything he does is adorable. Okay, except for the barfing and explosive poo. That’s not so cute.

In case you can’t tell, I love to talk about my cat. He’s awesome, I can’t help it. And now I shall leave you with pictures of his awesomeness.

He hangs out on his dad's leg.

He guards the Christmas presents.

He watches TV.

He always voices his opinion.

He reads.

He understands the need for comfy office chairs.


He naps where he wants, when he wants.

He looks cute even when upside down.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Let’s Make a Movie

So, I’ve decided that BTWS (Beyond the Western Sun) is going to be a movie. One day, somehow, it will happen and I will be there to watch the pages come to life. I’ve also decided that James Cameron will direct it. Why James Cameron? Because Avatar restored my faith in Hollywood after remake after crappy remake after stupid sequel (I feel I should also mention that Up and The Princess & the Frog restored my faith in Disney after so many corny animations that do not do the classics justice, but that’s neither here nor there).

I’m also willing to accept Spielberg, but purely for my own selfish reasons. You see, he has the Auryn, and I want it. So we are destined to become best friends and one day he’ll give it to me because of how much I love The NeverEnding Story. I mean, my very first book was called The Warrior’s Way and was a retelling of the movie (yes, that’s right, I wrote a remake at age 12. Hypocrite, party of me). It wasn’t a retelling of the book (which I prefer) though. I feel that’s important to note for some reason. So clearly I am Atreyu’s biggest fan and I think he would want me to have the Auryn.

Anyway, because I want to speed along this process of making a movie, I’ve gone ahead and collected some names for the people who will star in BTWS. Some of these are negotiable, Hunting Hawk is not. So, James Cameron, please to be calling me to discuss movie rights before my choice for Hunting Hawk gets to be too old to play the part. I don’t ask for much, just to have a say in the final script, help choose the actors, and be on the set to make sure everyone knows what they’re doing. What? That’s not too much to ask. I’m little. I’m quiet. You won’t even know I’m there.

I now present to you, my ideas. If you have ideas of who should play a role, let me know and I’ll add them!

I don’t know much about this girl outside of what I’ve seen in Into the West, but she’s got the look. I have faith in her that she will make Whisper even more awesome.
Ian: a Cross of Matt Damon , Thomas Jane , Aaron Eckhart
I can’t picture any one actor for Ian but I imagine him to be a mix of the above three. Damon’s build, Jane’s looks, Eckhart’s eyes. Just meld the three together for me.
Hunting Hawk: Nathaniel Arcand
He’s the perfect Hunting Hawk. I’m seriously tempted to attempt to contact him through that website and see if he would be interested. Because he would totally respond to a stranger with a random book.
The Raven-Eater: Jason Momoa
I mean, come on. Is there anyone more perfect for the Raven-Eater than this guy? We’ll have to make him a bit older, but that shouldn’t be a problem.
Smoke Speaker: August Schellenberg
He doesn’t quite fit my vision of the Elder, but I love him so much that I don’t care. I first saw him in Free Willy, but I love his Native American pieces.
Everything I’ve seen her in, she plays a very demure character. She’s perfect for Faun.
Cole: Freddie Highmore from Finding Neverland, a more talkative version of Tommy from Volcano
I don’t know many little kid actors, so just combine these two and you have Cole.

Gentle Heart: Tinsel Korey
I wish my name was Tinsel. It’s so Christmas-y and fun.

So, that’s my list so far. James Cameron, I’m ready when you are.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

So You Want to Self-Publish

Okay people, this took forever. But it got stuck in my head and I had to get it out of me before I could continue editing because it was driving me insane. For some reason, I am convinced everyone NEEDS to know this information RIGHT NOW. You should know that as I'm writing this my right-hand fingers are twitching and I have a blinding pain shooting up my wrist to the elbow. That's how dedicated I am to writing. I torture myself and my poor, underserving hands. But that's neither here nor there.

*Before going any further in reading the longest damn post in the world, please note that this is not concrete information about any and everything you need to know. These are my own experiences and tips on what I have learned thus far in my writing career.*

There are a lot of negative connotations with self-publishing, but these days, it’s a great solution for those who want to share their writing with the world. It’s important to know beforehand that it’s not the easiest way to make fast money selling books (if that’s what you’re going for, at least) and that it takes a lot of work (gotta be willing to put in the effort), but I feel it’s a great way to get your foot in the door and learn the industry ropes.

There is a lot to know going in to self-publishing, and while I certainly don’t claim to know everything, I hope these tips will help guide you along the way. I’ll start off with a list of pros and cons of self-publishing. If you decide to continue in learning more, then keep reading for tips below.

Can be expensive
Can be harder to market books
More work on the author’s part
Harder to sell to book distributors (such as with B&N)
Many scam-artist publishers

Total control over your book
You set the price
Projects done on your timeline
Easier to get published now

Decide to Try for a Publisher?
I admit, I don’t blame you. Life’s a lot easier with someone else doing the hard work for you. Plus, many bookstores won’t buy from POD (Print On Demand) publishers due to their no-returns policy. So, I’ll tell you as much as I know about the process. If you are hoping for an agent, or decide to look for a publishing company, do not try for anyone who charges a reading fee. An honest, reliable company/agency will not charge for an initial reading fee, so chances are one that does probably just wants your money and will reject you.

Before sending out queries, research various publishers or literary agents. You can do this online, such as at the Predators & Editors site, as well as in a Writer’s Market book. It’s important to do your research first because not all companies cater to the same audience. You don’t want to sent your children’s book to a company that focuses solely on erotica, right? Or maybe you do, all the power to ya.

Once you find the right fit, it’s time to write your query. This should be a 1-page letter tailored to the specific company featuring a brief book synopsis, author bio, and why your book should be considered for representation. If requested, send in a sample chapter or two. Also be sure to include a SASE (Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope) so they can send their reply.

After mailing off your query, prepare to wait. Some companies take as long as six months to get back to you, others maybe only three. Also, be prepared for rejections. Unless you’re incredibly lucky, you’ll get a lot of them.

Self-Publishing: Let’s Get Started
So, you want to self-publish. Sweet. Welcome to my world. Suffice it to say I was published “for real” once but that went sour. I’m not sure I’m allowed to say that anything bad about a publishing company without getting sued, so I won’t. Suffice it to say their listing on Predators & Editors is probably the worst one on the site (I figure I can say that because, well, it’s true). Ah, to be 17 again and know how to make better choices when selecting a publishing company. The more you know, huh?

Anyway, due to that rather unpleasant experience, I really enjoy self-publishing. The power is in my hands and I make the important decisions, such as the book size and price. The biggest thing to keep in mind is: do your research. I’ll say it again. Do Your Research. Know what you need, know your budget, and know the company you’re publishing through. Check out the tips below to get started:

So you have the next Great American Novel all typed up and ready to share. Is it perfect? Are you sure it’s perfect? No matter how awesome an author you are, always find an editor or five. You need a fresh pair of eyes, someone who doesn’t know what the text is supposed to say, someone who can find those small typos or areas that don’t make sense. Take it as constructive criticism; no one likes a poorly edited book. It’s no fun to read and you lose credibility.

A reputable self-publisher guarantees that you maintain all rights to your novel, but cover your bases anyway. Get the copyright. It’s easy and only cost about $35 (depends on what you’re copyrighting). Get started here for information on forms and whatnot, then you’ll make an eCO account and fill out your form online. It can take anywhere from 2 to 9 months to get the official paperwork mailed, but technically as soon as you send in the paperwork and manuscript, and it’s all recorded in the Library of Congress’ system, the copyright is yours.

You don’t always have to purchase your own ISBN for self-published books (which is nice, because they are pricey at about $125 last time I checked), but I prefer to have my own because it makes it easier to list your books through outside distributors. Some self-publishers don’t allow you to outsource your book in that way, so if you hold your own ISBN then you can basically do whatever you want with the book. For more information, click here and here.

I find it easier to get the ISBN first, then the barcode since you’ll have to assign the ISBN to it anyway. Barcodes are pretty cheap at $25. Once you have this and the ISBN, you can assign book details on your account, such as the book price and whatnot. Buy a barcode here.

I don’t know a lot of self-publishers, as I’ve only used CreateSpace. CS has been fantastic for me. I highly recommend them, and their publishing package where they take care of the interior formatting for you (because trust me, it’s a pain in the ass). All I can say here is do lots of research beforehand. Read message boards, check for complaints, look at their e-stores to determine their quality of work. You can view my e-store here to get an idea of what CS does for you (book cover pic might not show up, I uploaded it and I think the format is wonky for some reason). Plus CS sets you up on Amazon and you can make your book available for the Kindle and Nook, which is awesome. But that’s besides the point. Choose whatever publisher works best for you.

One thing to keep in mind when researching self-publishers is what people say in terms of selling. For example, when I was researching CS I saw complaints that they weren’t selling books and blamed the company for poor sales, yet when asked if they were doing any marketing themselves, they said no. The point—don’t expect the company to sell your book for you. If you’re not willing to put forth the effort, then you won’t sell anything. You have to find local bookstores, set up signings, sign up for literary events, spread the word on your book, etc. It’s up to you. Don’t be lazy.

Most importantly, have fun! Holding your new book for the first time in your hands is the best feeling ever. Enjoy the process, learn something new every time, and love what you do.

If you made it all the way to the end (holy Hera, you read all this??),  then I hope I've helped even just a bit. I'm always happy to talk about the process and writing. Feel free to contact me by email or through my Facebook page.

Monday, September 5, 2011

How I Spent My Labor Day

I woke up this morning fully intending on spending the day editing. I was even up until 2 a.m. working on my book (okay, and talking to friends online). While I did get a whole three pages edited (hey, it takes time. It's a process), I think my day was far more productive by procrastinating.

Why? Because I got some Christmas shopping done! Christmas is my favorite time of year. If Scott Calvin was my dad I'd be the happiest girl alive. Dad as Santa is the most awesome thing ever. I can't say husband as Santa is the best thing ever because we all saw what happened to Scott after poor unsuspecting Carol said I Do, and let's face it, I'm a shallow girl who loves muscles. BUT, even if Santa isn't my dad and Buddy the Elf isn't my long-lost brother (it could happen) I still love the season and everything that comes with it. The lights, the music, the festivities. We don't have white Christmases in Florida so I do miss out on that aspect, but green Christmases are still wonderful. I'm actually kind of sad on Christmas day because it means the holiday is over.

Anyway, my favorite part of Christmas is giving gifts. I love shopping for people and finding that perfect present. Now, I'm going to share with you some things I came across because they are fun and I'm excited to buy them.

(pic from Amazon)

This one is for my mom. It's okay to reveal this gift recipient because it's a yearly tradition, so she knows it's coming. How did this tradition come to be? Well, I was watching the movie Sahara with my mom and little brother one day and upon the screen appeared strange dead bodies. It was dark, we were only half-paying attention, and thus ensued a very loud and dramatic argument over whether these bodies were chickens, or people (what? It's hard to distinguish the two sometimes). Turns out, Mom was right. They were dead chickens. And now she gets a chicken calendar every year to celebrate her victory.

(pic from

This one is for S (he knows it's coming as well). I don't really know why he wants it, but whatever. I foresee this becoming the best "I'm so annoyed wit my day that I need to crush something" gadget ever.
(Google pic)
For the person who loves to play the guitar. Of course, you can just head to the closest music store to pick up a pack of picks for cheap, but what fun is that? You can MAKE YOUR OWN, people!

This one is actually for 2 people. It's the coolest hand-held tool ever. A screwdriver, hammer, level, tape measurer, and LED flashlight all in one? You can't beat that.

I really hope I get my friend Nebb for Secret Santa this year (you hear me, Nebb? You better play). I want to get her this remote-controlled dinosaur. Or a dino costume for her dog. Either one.

Of course, I also did some shopping for myself. These are a few things I want:
Finally, a way to lay out in the sun and read on my stomach without the weird neck-tilt or having to sit up on my elbows. Plus, it kind of looks like a massage table, which means BONUS, S can give me massages at the beach. This will work out well, I think.
What? It's not creepy, it's just his shadow. And clearly it's the best thing ever.

Okay, now I'm going to do some actual work. After I fold the laundry.

*Pics are not mine. They are either from Google or their respective sales sites.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

And So It Begins

I’ve given myself a deadline. I don’t do well with deadlines because they stress me out and I get grumpy, but despite all that grumpiness I do tend to get things done. When I was younger I gave myself the deadline of publishing my first book by the end of high school, and somehow, I did it (because I was a total loner who sat in front of the computer every night instead of hang out with friends—pretty much my life now). Granted, it was the last month of high school, but it still counts.

Anyway, all writing, editing, revising, book prep, etc, etc, must be done by October 1st. Why? Because I want ­Walk the Red Road to be out by the end of the year, and because I’m selling Beyond the Western Sun at this year’s Port Orange Family Days (first weekend of October) and want to have a better idea as to a release date. I’ve had this deadline since January or so, and I’m cutting it close because, as everyone knows, I’m lazy. And I have to work a “real” job so that definitely cuts into my creative time.

I finished the first draft a few months ago. In my heart, it was awesome, the next great American novel. In my head, it was crap (all first drafts are crap, if someone tells you differently, they are either a liar or delusional). So, every day since *insert date I finished draft because I can’t really remember* I’ve been editing and revising, rewriting and agonizing over that perfect word that’s on the tip of my tongue but won’t reveal itself.

Now Walk the Red Road is in the hands of my editors (awesome people, by the way) and I’ve received the first round of edits. So, it’s on. Time for me to make their suggested changes, then print out the manuscript and edit again, and put in chapter breaks.

Basically, my to-do list for the next month includes:
*Revising manuscript according to editors
*Finding a way to print out manuscript without spending a fortune
*Give book to S to read and revise
*Insert chapter breaks and edit again (last time)
*Purchase barcode
*Assign ISBN to barcode
*Purchase self-publishing package
*Write book synopsis
*Write interior text
*Complete book cover once art is received

Did I mention I have less than a month? Someone feel free to kick me in the shins mid-September if I haven’t completed at least 7 of these items.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Bit about My Books

So, let's get started. Because I'm lazy, I'm just going to link the synopsis of my first two books, The Helping Hands and The Iron Fist: Legacy of the Helping Hands because this blog is all about The Whisper Legacy.

Before I tell you more about my books, I’ll go ahead and explain the blog title. Anyone with good taste in books and movies will know it comes from Peter Pan. And anyone who knows me, knows I have a slight (ha) obsession with this story. If it wasn’t creepy to say I’m in love with Peter Pan, then I’d shout it for all the world to hear. But, since Peter is only like 12 and our love would be illegal, suffice it to say that I am enamored with the thought of never having to grow up. Not only because bills totally suck and being an adult is just a lot of work, but because children have the kind of imagination we all need to survive in this world.

I dream of my own Neverland, a place filled with fairies and mermaids and adventure and magic (but not lost boys, I’m not a big fan of wild children running around in my dream paradise). I could even do with some pirates, and I’ll fight them out of pure jealousy that they get to pillage and plunder while I stay on shore because I get seasick. Now, my Neverland isn’t a Disney happy place, but more of a mix of Barrie and Brom with my own twists thrown in for kicks. It’s a place where I can be myself without worrying about saying the wrong thing or dealing with people who tell me I dream to big. There’s no such thing as dreaming too big, dreams know no limits, no boundaries. That’s the great thing about dreams. So, I dream of Neverland and of Pan (I once called S, my husband, my own Peter Pan because he loves my imagination and thinks my craziness is endearing but he didn’t appreciate being compared to a tights-wearing flying child so now I pretend Pan is just my imaginary friend).

The blog title is part of one of my favorite Barrie/Peter Pan quotes, “To live would be an awfully big adventure.” The contrast to this is “To die would be an awfully big adventure” but that’s a little on the dark side so I chose life. And, after all, that’s what life—and my writing—is all about. One day I want this tattooed on my foot (and NO mother, I won’t wait until you’re dead to get another tattoo).

Anyway, I digress. The Whisper Legacy is three books, possibly four, centered about my Native American heritage and the things that fascinate me most about the culture. It's fantasy mixed with reality, my way of keeping my culture alive. We are a people that celebrate storytelling, creating new places through words, cherishing relationships with nature while breathing life into legend. Telling stories is what I love to do, which is probably why you should take any story I tell in person with a grain of salt. I’m known to exaggerate.

I’ll leave you with the synopsis of Beyond the Western Sun, published this December 2010. The sequel, Walk the Red Road, will be out by the end of the year, probably sooner. I hope you’ll join me on my journey into the Land of the Dead and bringing Whisper into the read world.

Beyond the Western Sun:

On a sunny day at a Smoky Mountain campsite, seven year-old Cole Daivya vanished beneath raging river rapids. Now, Ian Daivya has a choice—to bury his son and say good-bye forever, or face a perilous journey through the Land of the Dead. Along with Whisper, a Cherokee apprentice born into a world she was destined to change, he will face the creatures of Native American lore and have his very character tested by those who hold his child hostage in death.
The Watchmen who guard the terrifying Bridge of the Dead, the giant inchworm that feeds on women, deceitful Mole who dwells beneath the earth, all will challenge Ian and Whisper as they journey beyond the Western Sun that separates them from their past lives. Their destination—the Fire Tower, where they will face the Raven-Eater, a ferocious tyrant who rules over the land with the desire to destroy the living world. What Ian soon learns, though, is that there is more to this quest than Whisper is willing to share, and in order to survive he must put all his faith in the secretive woman with haunting black eyes and the ancient Elder who speaks to the dead.
As the Army of the Dead marches closer to the Western Sun, as Whisper leads them deeper into the Land of the Dead, and as the truth behind Cole’s death is slowly revealed, Ian discovers that the fate of both worlds depends on his courage, his humility, and the life of his son.

The Written Word

The title pretty much says it all—I wanted a blog celebrating the written word. It’s what fascinates me, drives me, intrigues me. It's what makes me happy and gives life meaning, what keeps me sane and drives me crazy all at the same time.

So, I need an outlet. I’ve been caught one too many times by my husband (poor guy, he had no idea what craziness he was marrying) talking to myself and I’m at the point now that I’m having trouble remembering what actually happened and what I made up in my head. People have told me my imagination is too active and wild (Please. Where would the world be without overactive imaginations?) and it’s true, I do tend to think of some weird stuff. But in the same regard, that weird stuff is what makes me who I am.

I am an author. I want to one day be a best-selling author who doesn’t need a desk job to pay the pills. But, all in good time. So, this blog will be my accountability for making that dream come true. Editing drafts on time, completing manuscripts, marketing those manuscripts, tips on self-publishing, I need to be held accountable for every step in the process to get to where I want to be.

And I’ll warn you now, I tend to get off track a lot when I talk (or type). My mind is only organized when I'm writing a story because that allows me to be all over the place. Also, there will be posts about completely useless and stupid things you don’t even care about but I guarantee will get you thinking because, let’s face it, my mind is a vacuum for the things that don’t really matter but are still equally awesome. I can’t tell you anything about WWI or II, I can’t count without using my fingers, and I generally pretend politics don't exist, but I can spout of movie trivia like you wouldn’t believe and can create a whole new world you wish you lived in with just a few sentences. Like I said, I’m kinda crazy. And it is wonderful.