Category Archives: Writing

Weekly Post (Attempt), The Hallowed, and Exploring New Genres

I’m trying something a bit different.

I haven’t been too current with this blog as time has passed (the blog just had its 5-year anniversary) but I want to do better. When I look back at old posts, I realize that there are long stretches of time where it seems like I’ve fallen off the face of the Earth, but the truth is I’m thinking about something/working on something all the time; I just don’t say anything until I’m ready to make a big announcement.

So! It’s high time I held myself to a standard. I’m going to (attempt to) write a post every week just to let you know what I’ve been up to — even if there isn’t much to say. Who knows? Maybe I’ll just ramble on about something I’ve been thinking about, or something I’ve been doing, reading, discovering, whatever.

I don’t talk much about my personal life, mostly because I’m probably the most boring person in the world. Other than the fact that I write, there is very little that’s interesting about me. I’m okay with that, but I’m going to attempt to be a bit more open with who I am, what I’m doing, and what I’m thinking.

Okay! Time to get started!

First off, I need to talk about The Hallowed, my next novel to be released. It’s an original gothic horror. I still haven’t chosen a release date, but I know it will be sometime in November. Whether it will be early or late in the month, I haven’t decided, because I have a couple more things I want to do this year. 1.) Release The Hallowed, and I need to get that finished up and out of my head as soon as possible, because 2.) I’m going to write (start writing) a new book in November for NaNoWriMo and I need to start (finish) planning. 3.) I want to read through The Nutcracker Bleeds again and maybe do a second edition release before Christmas. SO many things, and only 3 months left.

Plus, I kind of need to have my wisdom teeth removed, so we’ll see where THAT takes me.

The Hallowed is almost finished. I already have a cover designed and a print proof in my hands! I’m reading through it again (and may read it AGAIN) and then I believe it’ll be ready. It will likely be up for preorder soon and I can start showing it off. I like how it looks!

If you don’t know anything about The Hallowed, I’ll definitely begin to talk more about it soon. I think there is still a sample of it on Wattpad… It’s not the latest version, but I’ll update it soon.

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In other news, I’ve been exploring some new genres as far as my own reading and the possibilities of my writing. I’ve been specifically interested in Weird, Bizarro, and I hear there is one called New Weird, which is supposed to have similar content but be more poetic in the writing department. I’m not much for Satire, but I do like weirdness. I love to read/write a book where anything can happen, and as far as my own books go, those are always my favorites. I’ve also become more interested in Sci-fi lately, so maybe all of these things will wrap up together and I’ll have a book. We’ll see.

I think that’s about it for now. By next week, I hope to have reached a decision about The Hallowed‘s release date and I’ll share a bit more about that. Until then!

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Project Nevermor 5 Year Anniversary!

It was five years ago that I first announced my plans for Nevermor, right here on this blog. I created the blog for just that purpose, but it has gone beyond the Nevermor trilogy, expanding to more of my works that I wrote in years past. After five years, I’m finally finishing off those works I’ve held in reserve, and I’m nearing the time when I will publish something truly new!

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I currently have 12 published works and counting. Every time I look at the growing number, I can hardly believe it. I’ve achieved a dream of mine! My books are for sale and many are in print! It’s something that only a few years ago, I never dreamed would be possible without an agent, publisher, and a lot of luck, but here I am!

I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, and the best is yet to come!

So what’s happening now?

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Since the release of Dark Depths in June (and Daughters of the Deep in July), I’m busy planning my next release for later this year. I mentioned earlier that it would be The Hallowed, and I’m sticking to that, though I don’t have a date yet. I’m currently on the last bit of editing, and I’m hoping for a November release date.

I’m gearing up for NaNoWriMo in November and I’m very excited about the book I’m going to write for that. I feel that I’m getting out from under the load of my past works, rediscovering myself, and I feel I’m getting back to the root of what makes my writing great. I hope to take you all on that journey with me!

Also, Jack and Jill has been given a little makeover — inside and out — and is finally available in paperback as well as on Kindle. I know I said August, but I meant September. :p

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Not only that, but I’m working on myself as well. I’m trying to be healthier, happier, and put more time into my writing. Just a couple months ago, I decided that I wanted to work less at my “day job” and put more time into writing again. Working and having a career (other than being an author) is just not something I’m interested in, and I realized I would never be happy with anything else. I’m fortunate enough to be able to do this (for now) and I plan to put more time and effort into my marketing and promotion in the near future.

Things are good! I hope things are going just as well for you. 🙂

A Writer’s Struggle

I often read articles about writing as a business: how to get sales, how to market, is it worth it? Some of these articles say the same thing, and though I would hope against the truth, much of what I find is the same.

No. Published or otherwise, a writer may not be able to support herself just by writing books. If you’re making money as a writer, it’s not because you’re writing fiction. You’re writing non-fiction How To books and freelance articles for blogs, dealing with subjects that don’t matter to you at all.

I’ll be honest: Lately, I’ve been thinking about giving up. In fact, I’ve been at that place many times in my life. It’s always just a phase, but the truth remains: I’m not able to support myself as a writer, and I may never be.

Writing has been a struggle for a while now. I’d say it has been for the past 2 years since I started my current job. It’s not always a question of what I should write – I do have a few ideas put back – but it’s finding the time and focus when there is so much else going on. At some point you realize that you’re an adult with an adult life, and no matter how you slice it, a part of having an adult life is always going to be bills.

The honest truth is that what you do with your life all comes down to money – the stress of needing money from somewhere and not making enough to pay those dreaded bills. And this applies to doing anything you love. Sometimes you just can’t manage to get paid for it.

In the midst of these thoughts, I was out one night after work, thinking that I just couldn’t do it anymore. I wondered if all my effort was worth it, and if I gave up writing, could I move forward? What else was out there? I looked at my phone and saw that someone had tagged me on Twitter. I checked it out and there was a link that led me to Instagram. There, I saw a picture of the books in my Nevermor trilogy. A book blogger was doing a post challenge, and when asked which author she would like to meet, she chose me.

I actually started tearing up. It just meant so much to me to see my books like that, in print and in someone’s possession. To have someone say that they love my work certainly makes me feel that I don’t regret what I’ve done and am doing.

It really does seem that every time I start feeling down, something like this comes along to lift me back up. What I am doing is not at all for naught, though it has been difficult to find time for it.

Things are harder now. My day job requires so much attention that I can’t even think about anything else, develop plots or ideas. I have approximately one serious writer friend, and now we have both become so wrapped up in having day jobs that we barely talk, let alone write together. Lately and for a while, the only thing my brain can think about is making money. How can I make money with my books, and do people really do that? From what I’ve read, even most published writers struggle.

The truth is, I don’t need too much to live right now. That may mean a downgrade from the life I’m currently living, but I believe I could do it. I think I could be perfectly happy without a job, but how to get there? What is enough for happiness?

I have 10 books for sale right now – 10 beautiful books – and a few more that I wrote in my twenties and haven’t released yet. I honestly want nothing more than to be able to support myself with writing.

The night after the Instagram pic, I dreamed an entire plot, and I was so excited about it! It felt so good to know that there was still something there, almost like a sign, that my own mind was telling me ‘we’ve still got it’.

I’ve started thinking: maybe writing can still be accomplished if I try to make time in my life for everything. A schedule. Everything has a time and place. Because of how inspiration strikes, this may not be completely possible, but there must be some way to organize this instead of me wasting so much time moping because I’m unhappy and worrying that the spark is gone. That happens with you overthink everything.

I’m happy to say that I’m writing again, and it feels good. Does it erase all the stresses that life in modern society brings? No. But maybe with more effort and learning, I can finally get to a place where everything balances out. I’m looking forward to finding that.

Nevermor: Read It Again, Learn Something New

We live in a world where everything is speedy. People want it NOW. We want instant gratification, don’t want to take our time, and if something doesn’t catch our attention right away and hold on for dear life, then it slips from our minds to be replaced by the next shiner thing.

I believe the same is true for books. There are A LOT of books out there. New ones come out every day, and there are a plethora of unexplored volumes. Take Goodreads, for example. On the Goodreads site, you can make a list of books you’d like to read/plan to read, and perhaps unless reading is your favorite hobby, it’s easy to let that list get away from you. And just trying to tackle one when you have all these other books lined up behind it… I think it leads to the same result: me (or you) wanting to rush through one book to get to the next one – especially if the one I start with tends to drag a bit.  I can’t say I’m not guilty. I certainly do it too.

That annoys me about myself, and also about books these days. I think so many are written to accommodate for this – to propel us through at a quick pace, push us out the other side, so we can move on to the next… But does any of it really stay with us? Do these books that entertain us for the moment and leave us feeling the exact way we started really even leave residue in our minds?

I think a good book is worth reading. I mean it’s worth slowing down for.  It’s worth indulging in, taking one’s time to examine and live through – over and over again if need be. I’ve read books that I couldn’t WAIT to be done with. I’ve abandoned books in the middle because they annoyed me, and some didn’t make it very far at all. And then there are a precious few that have urged me to savor every word – that I truly could not put down – even a couple that I started reading again immediately after finishing because I simply knew there was more to it than what I saw the first time.

My mission statement, as a writer, is to create something worth reading. The books I write are not always meant to be read quickly. They are designed to immerse and lead, to be brilliant within themselves and as a group (if a series). I design them so that they can be read more than once, and dare I say: be even better the second time.

I’ve seen a few comments about Nevermor, where people have believed that there is a lot of ‘filler’ content (in #1 especially). Maybe so, or maybe everything has its place – its purpose. How many times have you read a book that you wished had more than just the bare facts? Or maybe the plot was good, but you wish there was more detail?  Because it’s not enough to simply say that the world is round. Personally, I like to spend a bit of extra time with the details (but there is a right way and a wrong way to do that, to be clear. Don’t give me 3 paragraphs describing the exact shade of a character’s eyes, for example.).

In Nevermor, as with all my books, I try to offer something more. I use subtleties which may not even make sense at the time, but everything I do is for a reason. You may have to get through the entire series to see those things, (and true, some things are done simply for the sake of timing), but every sentence is helping to paint a larger picture. Because I want the second reading experience to be as good as the first – better. I want to create works that can be read again and again, and the reader can see something new each time – tie things together within each book and within the series as a whole. I want readers to have a moment, weeks later, when a light bulb goes off and they think ‘Oh my God, I just made a connection with that thing that happened in book 1, and that’s why (blank) happened in book 3!’ (that’s not a hint, by the way…only an example).  But anyway, you get my point.

So, if you have the time, read it again. You’ll probably notice something new. 🙂

Evaluation of CreateSpace book/second proof coming

Some of you are probably curious about self-publishing, and maybe you can’t decide which route to go, or if you are wanting to get a book printed, who has the best service? Here is my review of my book, NEVERMOR, which I had printed through CreateSpace. This is how I feel about the service and the product.

The Setup: As with all of these self-publishing things, it’s good to be a bit computer savvy. I don’t know all there is to know about computers, but I can feel my way around. You can pay someone through CreateSpace to set up the files for you – starting at $200+. And that doesn’t mean editing. It means setting the files up properly for print! I decided to do it myself, and with my moderate level of understanding, I found it pretty easy. It’s a matter of setting up your Word document like they describe (they even provide size templates), and then uploading the file into an “interior previewer” program which will show you your formatting mistakes. My most common were gutter errors. Some fonts are not supported, and the program will chastise you for that as well, but it will replace fonts it doesn’t recognize with something else. If you want your own fonts to stick, you have to convert to PDF yourself. I chose not to go through the trouble and simply replace some of my fonts.

The main annoyance: I got a lot of gutter errors and wasn’t sure why. I didn’t figure this out until just now, but the file converts to PDF for you, and even if you use THEIR template, the file does not convert directly over. For example, your page 1 may not have the same amount of words on it as it does in the interior viewer, and by the time you get to the end, there are more pages than you thought. This caused gutter errors for me, but once I figured it out, I was able to fix it.

So, ease of setup: Easy-Medium.

The Cover: Overall, I only had two issues with the way the book turned out (minor ones) and both have to do with the outside, so let’s start with that.

I’m not going to go into how IDSC08625 set up the cover file myself, but THAT caused me some trouble and was the most annoying thing about the whole process, I feel. The cover, spine and back have to be one image, and it has to be centered and in PDF format for it to work, or else you can use a cover from CreateSpace or have them make you one…for another hefty price that starts at 250 for a basic one and goes all the way to $1000 for an original illustration. I hired an artist from outside to illustrate a cover for me, and paid wayyy less. As you can see, it’s freaking awesome.

Anyway, moving on to the actual product.

Resolution: The resolution of the cover image was slightly less than I hoped it would be. It’s not much less, but I’m pretty sure it’s not quite as crisp as the original image. Still, it looks good anyway, so I’m not seething over it. I’m happy. Also, I think the coloring is just slightly different – and felt that the back cover was a bit darker than what I sent (I’ll be revising some of this so maybe I won’t have this issue again with the second proof.

DSC08639The Spine: My main problem has to do with the spine of the book. I provided my own cover based on a template that CreateSpace generated, which was based on the number of pages in my book. I followed that template down to the pixel, and yet when I got the book, the spine is not aligned properly. See? You can’t tell from the front because the spine is so similar, but on the back, you can see where it bleeds over. I’m going to try to fix this, but it is not done by following their template.

But on a plus side for the binding, there is a crDSC08640ease down the front and back, near the spine. When I first saw it, I was like “ewwww I don’t like that” but after I actually opened up the book to read it, I decided that it was pretty cool. If you’re like me (I don’t know how many people are) but I treat my paperbacks like they’re babies, and am against creasing them in any way! Especially the spine! I don’t even like fingerprints on them, but that’s my issue. Anyway, these creases on the front keep the spine from being creased. Will the cover wear in those creases on the front? Yes, I think so. With a lot of bending (complete bending) I think these creases will probably turn white and mar the front of the book. Judge this as you will.

Some people believe that books are no good unless they have been sullied, written in or otherwise “loved” but I just can’t bring myself to hurt a book. When I finish reading, more than likely the book still looks like it came from the store. So, I do like these creases, but that’s my opinion.

The Inside: The inside looks great and I didn’t have a problem with anything about how it was printed.

Paper: The paper is nice quality, and thick. The printing is good quality and it looks exactly as I formatted it (could be for better or worse, depending on the type of editor you are). The only thing was that I chose WHITE PAPER instead of cream, and I am going to change it. It looks fine, but in some light (like natural sunlight) the light reflects off the white page so much that it is blinding. So, cream colored paper it is. I think it will be easier on the eyes.DSC08641

Speed: The printing was really fast. I expected it to take several days, but actually the book was received and printed and shipped the same day! I had it in my mailbox by the end of the week. Very fast!

Quality: The overall quality of the book is really good for a paperback, and I’m very pleased.The binding is solid, the pages are nice and thick, the printing looks great and as a whole it looks very professional.

Overall, I think this paperback looks better/is better quality than most of the ones I have on my shelf, produced by the big-money publishers. I give it a thumbs-up!

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In other news, I finished reading my proof of Nevermor, corrected a few things and changed some of the layout. Now it’s time to order the second proof and see how it looks – which will probably require me to read it AGAIN, but that’s okay. I want this done right. With any luck, it will be perfect this time, and then the book will be made available to you! EXCITED! Finally I am reaching the end of my journey with this book!

So now, what is next? As most of you know, I have MANY books that need publishing, and not just Forsaken Dreamscape! I’m going to use this blog to mostly talk about the Nevermor series, but just to let you know, you’re probably going to be seeing another book from me before the end of the year. 🙂 At least one more! :O

How Much Does it Cost to Self-Publish? Answered! (sort of)

As I’ve been working on my book, NEVERMOR, and getting it ready for self-publishing, I’ve been looking into many different publishing/marketing ideas. I’m sure that there are many things that I haven’t discovered,  but there is one thing that all of us who are going out on our own are concerned about:

How much does it cost?

This is the question that everyone wants to know the answer to. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t so simple. I say it depends on the person and what you hope to accomplish. It might cost you nothing, or else you might potentially spend thousands!!!

Let me tell you about how it could, theoretically, cost you nothing to publish an ebook – or even a print book: Find a service that only takes a cut of your royalty, but you don’t have to pay them up front. Like Amazon’s Kindle and CreateSpace – or Lulu.com. With these simple programs, pretty much all you have to do is write the book, throw a cover on it and set your price. You might get lucky and a few people will buy it, but if you don’t take other measures, you risk your book slipping into obscurity.

There are also free ways to promote, like Facebook (to people you already know) or Twitter (for people who follow you) but how can you make a real impact for your book? Can you really do that for free? There are ways, I’m sure, but even some of the “cheaper” ways to promote yourself still cost something.

Here are a few things I’ve spent money on so far, or considered for the future (perhaps not a lot of money, but it adds up):

wattpadCover Image: My current image was made using stock photos. I wanted it to look original, so I combined several images into one.  I don’t have an enormous understanding of computer art programs, but I at least like to think that I have an artistic eye. Perhaps you have neither, or you have both better than I do. Excellent. Making your own cover is a great way to knock out a lot of the cost. To have an artist or service make one for you could cost….well, anywhere from a couple hundred to a thousand depending on the service or what the artist charges! Choose your route carefully, because your book cover is going to HEAVILY influence sales. Maybe that’s something that you’re willing to spend a chunk on.  I know I’m not the only one who has judged a book by its cover before. Yes, we’re all guilty. HOWEVER, most stock images cannot be used for Print-on-demand services of something you are selling, but are okay for an eBook. Be sure to read the fine print.

Book Trailer: I made mine myself from stock images which I had to purchase, but they are fairly inexpensive. You can get 5 from Shutterstock for $50. I tried to make the trailer with as few images as possible and yet still give it a large impact. I used a few images I had already purchased (like the ones from my book cover), bought more, and dedicated my own time to putting it together, but I’m sure that was about $100 or so in images right there. You can hire someone to make a trailer for you if you aren’t computer savvy, or just don’t know what to do, but most of these services that I’ve seen are upwards of $300.

Here is the final product, in case you’re interested to see how it turned out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=jbGhOEWuFjE

ISBN: With Kindle, you don’t need an ISBN. For CreateSpace and Smashwords distribution, you do. Some of these services will provide you one for FREE when you use their service, but this company will be listed as the publisher of the book. So far, I am not sure what effect that has on anything. You still retain rights to your book, but will it cause problems later? If, for instance, a larger publisher wants to pick up your book?  No idea, but a fresh  ISBN will be around $100.

Business Cards: I’ve had a few cards printed so that I could easily distribute an advertisement whenever I saw an opportunity. I got mine through Vistaprint, and it was a fairly inexpensive service. It was around $17 for 250 cards, in color, front and back. Not a bad price, but yet I wonder if that expense will pay off – other than it just being so cool.

Copyrighting: Technically, your book is protected by copyright as soon as you write it, (at least in the US) but if you want to make it completely official, then you should register it with the library of congress. Currently, the fees for this standard action are around $65.

Facebook Ad: I’m not going to pretend to understand the elusive Facebook Ad. You can set it up for however much you want to spend, and Facebook will decide what your money will get you. It’s very vague, in my opinion, but I’ll find out shortly, because I put $100 on one that’s scheduled to run along the same time as the NEVERMOR release, so I’ll see what that gets me, if anything.

Other costs? Well, there is the possibility of further cost. You can pay for editing (which I’ve chosen to do myself), marketing packages (which vary depending on who you get them from) and then there is actually getting the book printed if you don’t go through a print-on-demand service, a chunk which could be quite expensive up front.

In the end, it can get pretty darn expensive. Is it all going to be worth it? Will I at least get back what I’ve spent? I guess time will tell. Still, I’ve resolved that it’s worth it to try – to put myself out there and see where it takes me. I’m lucky that I’m not a complete unknown.  I at least have a small fan-base to help me get a jump start.

I do want to be successful, but I think, more than anything, I just want to have my book in my hands and know that it’s out there in the world. Seems like a lot of effort and money just to do that, but it’s been a learning experience that I’ve enjoyed, and if nothing else, a fun hobby.

Much Ado About Publishing

Ahh a new month.  But not just any month!  It’s almost time for Nevermor to be released to the world! I am sooooo excited for this. I’m making my dreams come true and I have a greater sense of confidence and pride in myself. I probably would never have done it except without the support of you all and a nudge from a good friend.

All of you are AWESOME and don’t forget it!!!

It occurs to me – now that I’ve had time to step back and think about it – that I said I’d add some info about the self-publishing process, and yet I haven’t done it. So now that I have a bit of time before the release date, I’m going to do that.

Problem is, I don’t really know where to start… I’ve been doing/looking into so many things lately (plus reading Nevermor over and over again) that I don’t know if I can put it all in order.  I’ll start with saying that so far, the whole process has been very rewarding for me. It’s been an enormous learning experience and I’ve enjoyed being involved in it, and also have liked being in control over what is happening with the book instead of handing it over to some publisher who’d pay me and then butcher the content.

Well, let’s talk a little about what I know about so far: eBook publishing.

I decided that Nevermor will start on Kindle and eventually go to Smashwords as well. Why these choices? Well, Kindle is pretty much the largest seller for ebooks, and on top of that, the process of setting up your document to be ready is SO EASY! The formatting rules are simple, and you don’t have to convert to some fancy EPUB file or something like that. All you have to do is set it up by a few simple rules and you’re ready to go! Of course you have to provide payment information and things like that, but Kindle is different from Nook or Apple in that it let’s you go completely on your own without going through a lot of fuss with setting up to use the service as a publisher. It’s easy, and BAM you’re published. However, because of this, readers may look for indie books and avoid them. I’m afraid of that, but I guess we’ll see.

Smashwords is another good choice. While I don’t feel that Smashwords itself is the best place for book sales, the best thing about it is that you just add an ISBN number (paid by yourself or gotten through Smashwords – the Smashwords ISBN is free, but Smashwords will be listed as your publisher, and I don’t think you can use the ISBN anywhere else. To buy your own is about 100 bucks) and Smashwords will distribute your book to other retailers like Nook and the iStore.

The setup for the document on Smashwords is slightly more complicated, but still it’s not like messing with an EPUB file. Pretty much Smashwords runs your document through a program they call ‘the meat grinder’ (kinda scary really) and spits it out in other formats. I am not sure how the book will look at this point…and some writers are concerned about that, myself included, but it has a good coverage area, and by using Kindle and Smashwords together, I’ll be covering the major ebook bases.

Another great thing: by using these services, you still retain all rights to your books and you can send them anywhere else you like! However, I have heard that it is a pain to get your books withdrawn after you go on Smashwords, because they do not like to go through the trouble of withdrawing from all of their channels once distributed.

Once the book is out there, actually selling it is a different story. I’m not going to get into that right now since I can’t claim to have any authority in that area – yet.

As I’m touching things up with Nevermor and getting ready for the e-release, I’m also looking into different options for bringing the book into print, and that’s a slightly different ballgame.

Here are a few tips and good things about eBooks as opposed to print:

  • For an ebook, you can charge less and yet make more money per sale. Depending on how long your book is, it may cost an outrageous amount to print the book, and readers may not want to pay that price.
  • Ebooks are easier to set up, with no fuss or wait.
  • If you find errors, you can go in and upload a new document easily. In print, if you’ve missed something, it’s there forever.
  • But print books sure are nice…and if your story is good enough, people may want a copy on their shelf. Some people think that print books are going out, but I don’t believe it.  SOME of us like to have print copies of their faves.

I hope this was helpful! I’m sure I’ll be reading and editing up until the very moment of release. I could probably edit for eternity. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve already changed a few things back to the way they were before my last editing round… But it’s alllll part of the process. It’s a artist’s curse to never be completely happy with anything, even if other people think it’s fine. *sigh*