Friday, May 31, 2013

Your First Novel by Ann Rittenburg and Laura Whitcomb

"Your First Novel" was the first entire book about writing and publishing that I've read. It came recommended through Writer's Digest and I thought I'd give it a try. This book was great for two reasons. It came with some great, well written advice, and it covered both writing and publishing in depth (and everything in between).

The first half of the book was written by Laura Whitcomb, who is an established author. She wrote the writing half and covered everything from generating ideas and encouraging creativity, to actually going through the editing and rewriting process.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Does Vampire Academy encourage teen sexuality?

For those of you who have not read the Vampire Academy series, you may be hesitant toward starting it because it seems like “another vampire romance.” It’s not. YES there are vampires, YES there is romance, YES the main character is a woman. Other than that, there are few similarities (not that Twilight was bad, I read the entire series in college and barely left my room when a new one came out).

Vampire Academy has a completely different premise. Vampires are not beautiful and romantic creatures and there are different types of vampire (Moroi – the good, Strigoi – the bad) and vampire slayers (dhampirs, a vampire and human mix). See? Already they are nothing alike.

Why do I recommend this book? Because it’s unique (at least I’ve never read anything like it), and it has a strong woman as the main character.  “But Hunger Games had a strong woman lead…” I KNOW, but this came out first. Richelle Mead went out on a limb and told her story from a perspective that others could respect, if not relate to. (ALSO, I’d like to point out here that the preceding paragraph makes me sound like a feminist. I’m not. I think it’s annoying. I think it’s silly to expect special opportunities and treatment in order to get equal treatment…)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Teen attracting blog, or not?

I received some very good advice on my first blogging assignment from the Blogging 101 professor. Essentially, the feedback was that what I'm currently blogging about is not directed toward my ideal audience.

I identified that I am starting a blog to build my author platform and attract potential readers. The books I am writing are YA, so my ideal audience is teens (in my case, late teens, early twenties). Thus far my blog has mostly been about my journey to becoming a writer, including learning how to blog - and it has been SUCH A BLAST! What I thought would feel like homework has grown to be my favorite hobby!

SO I have a dilemma. My ideal audience for this blog should be the people that will most likely buy my book (and, as the professor pointed out, my current blog is directed toward aspiring writers who may buy my book out of support but will most likely not be fans of my work). So I have a choice here with a few different options.

1. Continue the blog as I have been, because I really really like what I've been writing about and it has been incredibly satisfying and FUN. BUT, I may not gain much of a relevant audience, amounting to not a whole lot of help to my author platform.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Happy anniversary to me! :)

Today is my sixth anniversary with the wonderful Eric. Every day I am a better person than the last because of him.

As an embarrassing (for both of us) present, I have written him a corny poem:

Supportive you've been for me through and through
My life would not be the same without you
And when the moments come that we must fight
Know that I will still be by your side holding you tight
For, through thick and through thin you're a constant in my life
And I am so happy to one day be your wife
Hug your loved one right now <3

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Blog Class

YAY!! I'm so excited that yesterday was the first day of my Bogging 101 class. I have been researching the topic like crazy over the past several weeks, researching myself down a little blogging rabbit hole of sorts.

I think I really just need an organized way to think about blogging and this should help. I will be researching the basics of blogging and notice that the writer already assumes I have followers. WRONG! So then I research how to increase traffic to your blog.

When researching how to increase traffic, all this talk about RSS feed was popping up, so I had to research what exactly RSS feed was and how I should use it. Then, of course, I got sucked into a tornado of all the cool widgets offered for blogs. After I spent some time pimping out my blog, I was ready to start back where I left off. Which was where again? Oh yeah, generating traffic.

One of the major things you're supposed to do is be present to other relevant bloggers. Many new bloggers will leave relevant comments and links on blogs in the hopes of getting a link back from the big blogger to their small blog (sending all their traffic to you!). So I then have to read a few blogs to find something that I can give valid input to, I don't just want to go throwing my name on something meaningless.

So I end up getting in to writing a Flash Fiction of about 1,000 words. Now this flash fiction was a subgenre smash and took quite a bit of research for me to understand what my two subgenres were (Weird West and Haunted House). 

Then I think, I wonder if I could sell this flash fiction? And I get into another downward spiral of researching how to find magazines that buy these sorts of stories. How much do they pay? What's the submission etiquette? PLEASE HELP! I'M STUCK IN THIS HOLE!

And on, and on, and on...

So I'm really hoping that this course will not only teach me enough about blogging to really get me going, but I'm also hoping it will organize the little ambitious gremlins in my head that just want to know more NOW!

The first course is already calming my nerves, asking me questions about my blog that I should have asked months ago. I have been struggling with what to write about. I think I can attribute this to not really knowing who my desired audience was.

I have two desired audiences (I think). I really want to blog about my journey to becoming a writer, sharing what I've learned, both the easy and hard way, and also what I learn about blogging on the way. Then I have the real purpose of my blog, to establish a platform of potential readers. But the novel I'm writing is YA. I don't really want to blog about the interests of typical teens. I wasn't a typical teen, whatever I have to say would come off as forced, I think.

So, I'm really just hoping that my scatter-brained posts will resonate with someone, somewhere and we can get this show on the road!

A day in the life of an amateur writer

I'm am, little-by-little, realizing all the hard work that goes into being a writer. I'm not even talking about the big stuff here, like the actual writing and getting published part. Everything else is what's stressing me out. I could write, revise, and submit queries like it's my job (or just a really cool hobby).

Maybe I'm struggling so much because I don't have a set routine, or because I'm still learning a lot of the basics. In this post, I'm going to write about just how much stuff I'm still trying to learn, and how hard it is for me to do that with so much available information!

4PM I have just gotten back from a long day at work and all I want to do is relax and put my brain on silent for awhile, but ALAS! I have goals, so silence need wait for another day!

4:15PM My computer is booted up and I am getting online. Or am I? No, because the hotel I've been staying at for the last several weeks has terrible internet unless you're down in the breakfast nook. So...

4:30PM A have lugged all of my essentials down to the breakfast nook. I'm not sure if the other fellow internet users down here appreciate my Canadian pajama pants tucked into my wool socks. But no one asked them, did they?

4:45PM I pull up so many pages that I've convinced myself I need to read everyday. I'm still one vote behind the first place holder on the latest Writer's Digest competition I entered. Nothing new on Facebook except invites for games. I check the traffic from my blog and sigh in disappointment as I realize the 11 new page views are all SPAM. Hmph. I check some of my favorite blogs. (Usually in this time period I would be hammering out a few hundred words, but right now I have a break because I'm letting it fester for a few weeks so I can prepare for the revision slaughter I'm going to give it).

5:15PM Eric calls me and I talk to him on his drive home from work

6:00PM Oh my goodness. It's already 6PM, I need to go downstairs and meet my group for dinner. There are 8 of us, so...

8:00PM Yep, it was a 2 hour dinner. And now I'm ready to get to work, right after I call Eric

8:20PM NOW I'm ready to get to work, right after I shower...

8:35PM But seriously, I'm going to get to work now. Hmmm...I wonder if I got a message back from Critique Corner on the critique I just gave? Yes? Well I better write a reply...

9:00PM It's almost time for bed and I haven't written my blog post for the day! Quick! Pump something out about some book I read recently! Woo. That was close. Ooh, already one page view! Vampirestat, dammit!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche

This is my first book review, so I'll give you a quick run down of how I'm going to do book reviews.

First off, I won't be reviewing books that we all know everyone loves and have been reviewed to death. Harry Potter, for example, I will not review. Actually here's a mini-review (I'm a rebel): everyone loves Harry Potter, and if you don't...well...I just can't deal with that, okay? Everyone loves Harry Potter, I have to believe that or the world is no longer a good place.

So the first book I'm going to OFFICIALLY review is MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche. In the review I'll include what I liked about the book, what I didn't like, links for book club info, and anything else that I think would be fun or helpful.

What I liked:
There is so much in this book that I liked. It was a very easy read and had some really relatable stories in it. Rachel basically documents her journey of finding a best friend in Chicago, where she has recently moved. She was a New Yorker her whole life and all of her friends are there. After a few months of not making a whole lot of headway making friends (would go out to lunch with coworkers and do couples nights with her husband's friends but didn't have a great female companion), she decided to do something about it, and write about it along the way.

Along with some hilarious stories of girl-dates gone bad, she also has a lot of research sprinkled throughout the book about friendship and health benefits it brings. Also, she was vulnerable. Who wants to write about how they can't make friends? Not me, but she put herself out there and it was refreshing to see that we're not alone.

Props to Rachel for writing this and make us all feel like less of losers :)

What I didn't like:
Yeah, I get that it's emotionally beneficial to have a best friend and that surrounding yourself with even a few decent friends can provide an incredible support structure...but not everyone needs 5 best friends. Honestly, even having two can be hard to keep up with. AND she says that family and significant others don't count. I actually consider my sister and my boyfriend to be my two best friends, so I guess I have to demote them.

 After a day at work, coming home and doing dinner, talking to my boyfriend, and writing -- I have no more time left to cultivate a relationship. Just do it on the weekend? That shit's hard too. The weekend is my time to relax and get stuff done around the house. After talking to my mom, dad, and sister, I really have time for one more person (if I'm lucky). I know that she forced herself to make time for it, but do I really want the other things in my life to suffer? Not really.

I give it a 7. I really like the fact that she wrote in relatable humor, but I question the feasibility of some of the things she did/suggested to make friends.

Actually, I would like to bump this up to an 8, because she'll actually call in or Skype in for your book club meeting if you coordinate with her, how many authors would do that?

Monday, May 20, 2013

First Manuscript done!

I finished the first draft of my FIRST manuscript!!!! This is such a huge accomplishment for me. New to writing, I found it easy to lose interest after the first 10,000 words. All of the advice I read said that this was totally normal and that the best way to get through it is to set quotas for yourself and it worked!

I promised myself that I would write at least 1,000 words a day at least 5 days a week and I did it! Now I'm going to set it aside for a month or so, so I can approach it with new eyes for revision. I've already got a running list of all the things I want to change, but I tried to keep the critic in me shut up until I was finished.

And what am I going to do in the next two months while I'm letting my manuscript fester, you ask? I'm going to blog my brains out. You're going to get sick of me I'm going to blog so much. Actually I probably won't blog any more than usual, but hopefully they will at least get better...Eric bought me a seat in a 6-week blogging class, so hopefully I learn some things and get some feedback (and report out on it, of course).

I am also going to focus on writing some short stories. So far I have written three. My first one was my best one so far. It was a 750 word short story contest for Writer's Digest (which I'm currently in 2nd place for!) but incidentally, is my best piece of work to date. I almost wish it hadn't gone so well, because now I just expect everything to turn out that well with as little work as I put into it. Not the case, apparently...

My second one, was decent. It was a flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig. We had to smash subgenres and I got Weird West and Haunted House. Neither of which was I familiar. But it was out of my comfort zone, and I am all about getting out of that good ole comfort zone.

My third one, was a little rape-y. Like, A WHOLE LOT more rape-y than I had intended. I actually like it a lot better than my second one though. It was another flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig where we had to use a fantasy character generator to base our story around. Mine was "An efficient milkmaid is reduced to stealing to survive."

So anyway, after posting my story, I thought "I wonder if I could sell this..." After all, who doesn't need a good rape story? And I started doing research on submitting to magazines.


First, I should mention that it does not seem at all feasible that someone could write short stories for a living, click this link for the math (at the bottom of the page).

If you didn't click the link, then here's the poorly done synopsis. The best way to sell your short stories is in this order: sell first rights to a magazine, when you get the rights back, sell second rights to a different magazine, then put a few short stories into a collection and sell them.

I have begun the first step except I think I may have done it in the wrong order. I have the stories posted on my blog so I'm not sure if that counts as technically being published or not. I'm assuming it does.

How do you know which magazines to submit to? I used Duotrope like the link above suggests. It was actually really handy. You can start with a free 7-day subscription and then it's $5/month or $50/year. AND, they send you an email with directions on how to cancel your subscription should you wish to do so once the free trial is over.

You just have to put in how long your story is, the genre, what types of magazine, what kind of pay, etc. And it will compile a list of magazines that match your search.

My search gave me 4 magazines, 2 of which don't pay, so I saved those for last and haven't tried them yet (you have to try one-at-a-time most of the time, typically you can't have the same story in two-magazines at a time). I chose Shock Totem to try first. I read their guidelines, they were very clear that if any of the guidelines were violated, they would completely dismiss the piece.

Basically all I had to do was provide the title, word count, and a cover letter -- wait, what? A cover letter? Yeah...

The only cover letters I have done have been for legit job applications with resumes and the whole gauntlet. I didn't know what to put in a cover letter for a 999 word story. I just put in a little bit about myself (that I'm a new writer, trying different things and stretching different writing muscles, blah, blah) and then attached the short story.

Now I just have to wait until they either accept or reject me. They give themselves 60 days so I don't expect to know anything anytime soon. But, even if I do get it, I'll only get $.05 per word so that's only $50.

In the meantime, I'm going to try and get some things published for no pay at all, just to get more familiar with the process of giving up rights and getting them back and how that whole process works.

Blogging for money

As I said in some of my previous posts, this blog isn't really going to have any sort of expertise in it at all. Of any sort. On anything.

One of the things I've been researching is how to earn money from your blog, mostly out of curiosity. And, well, if I'm doing this anyways, I may as well find out if I could be earning money from it, right?

Okay, so I've put together a list of what I've found out so far and my opinions on each. I may start trying some of these soon just to see what the process is like. I've also included links to other, more knowledgeable sources, in case you want REAL information.

1. I think the most popular way of making money from your blog is by using ads.  From what I've learned, the most common way of doing this is Google AdSense. Before I actually did any research on this, I thought it would be pretty easy to earn money with this. BUT, it's not as simple as it seems.

Not only do people have to visit your blog (which is hard enough to get, trust me...) they have to actually click on the ad while they're there. NO ONE DOES THAT SHIT ANYMORE! We're all so nervous that we're going to get a virus or bombarded with ads that we basically stick to known links and pages.

Further more, you have to apply for the program (unless you use blogger), and they are very serious about not breaking their rules. For instance, they'll be able to tell if you are clicking on your own ads or urging readers to click on ads and they will ban you from it.

For a blogger with my following (which is the opposite of vast), I could maybe earn a dollar in a month. But probably not, because I wouldn't be getting ads for things like writer's digest or blogging seminar's. I'd probably get ads for things like the Snuggie (Remember how we all made fun of it...and yet we all ended up with one?)

So, I may sign up for this so I can report out on whether it's worth it or not. And to see what silly ads I earn.

2.  You can sell the content. This is true for a few different blog types. I do short fiction on mine, in the near future I'm going to test the waters and try and sell one or two of the stories. I think I am going to go the magazine route, I don't have enough to do a short book. I am considering putting together a collection of ten or so and testing the waters with e-books on Amazon. I'm considering this because I might try and publish my first novel using that route.

Then you have the informative bloggers who may be able to make a book out of their posts on the subject of their expertise.

And of course there is the blogger that many aspire to be. The blogger who has a very interesting story and others will pay to make a book or film out of it. Most of us are not near interesting enough for this. But, hey, if cooking yourself through Julia Child's cookbook will do the trick, then there is still hope for the rest of us...

3. Since a lot of bloggers ARE experts in their field, they turn their blog into a platform for them to leverage in order to further their careers. This could include doing a speaking circuit, holding coaching seminars (Penelope Trunk blogs a lot about career advice and has leveraged her blog to help market her services).

Basically my whole purpose for this blog is to use it as a platform. Right now I am documenting my journey of becoming a writer/blogger. Eventually though, I will want to publish my book and hopefully will be able to leverage my blog to do so.

That's all I've got so far, when I actually proceed with these I'll blog about what it actually takes. And I'm always open for tips on how to make the most of my blog, so feel free to let me know if I've left anything major out!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Blogging identity crisis!

First of all, this whole blogging every day thing is way harder than it looks. It started out with two, maybe three, ideas of things to write about. Now that I have written about those things once (my journey of learning blogging, writing, and gardening) it's really hard for me to come up with other things to blog about. I've already told you all about how I'm starting to learn about those things. I've basically told you what I've learned so far.

But I feel like this is supposed to be more about my journey to getting good at these things and less about being an expert at any one of them. SO I don't think this is going to be an informative blog. Votes are in and judges are on board - non-informative it is.

And there is one major thing I'm struggling with, my voice.

Do, re, mi, fa... NO, NOT THAT VOICE!

I'm having a mini-identity crisis with my blog. I want so much to be successful at this but it's totally uncharted territory to me. Do I want to be smart? Witty? A hub of movie and book reviews? A collection of short stories?  I've done a little bit of all of these, maybe not super successfully.

One of the things I'm trying to keep in mind is what I like to read on blogs. What are the blogs I keep returning to?  So far only two. Check Wendig and Penelope Trunk. These aren't the only two I read, but they're the only two I absolutely have to read what they write next.

Chuck is incredible unique and funny and gives pretty great writing advice. Penelope has had an incredibly interesting life (though a bit traumatic). From having Asperger's, to being molested by her father when she was younger, she had bulimia, she was a professional beach volleyball player, has started up multiple companies, and has an incredibly successful blog (and provides tips on how you can be successful too).

The point is, that these two bloggers have very interesting and very unique perspectives and voices. I want that to be me! I am so good at researching and learning about how to do something. But finding your writing voice is not something that there are step-by-step directions on how to do.

But, alas! I have found my first voice! It wasn't mine, it was a character in my book. Not a particularly big character, but I clearly pictured him, I was him!

I watched him walk across the room, stared into the eyes of his worst enemy. I even gave a soliloquy on his behalf (I may have gotten carried away with my new-found voice, so maybe that will get cut. But still...). So even though I am gasping for air with this whole blogging thing, at least I'm making some sort of progress...with something.

Wishing I could find a "Finding Your Voice For Dummies"

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Damn commitment

Day two of my blogging commitment and I'm already dragging my feet. But with good reason,  I promise.

There was an emergency with one of my employees last night that required me to get 20 minutes of sleep and then drive 6 hours (in the deer ridden, pitch-black, back roads of Kentucky), sleep for two hours, then drive 6 hours back. BLEH

So, without further ado -- this is my shitty blog post (hey, I never committed that every one of them were going to be good and well thought out).


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Familiar Strangers

All the advice I have read on blogging has demanded that I post at least once every week day. I had the best intentions of posting yesterday, had a whole post written and then my computer crashed (apparently that still happens) and I lost everything. So here I go, starting over.


SO I've been traveling three out of the last four weeks with a bunch of different people. Some who I am familiar with (first name basis) and some who I've never met before. Honestly, I was not looking forward to coming on any of these trips (except for Washington's Washington).

I thought that I wouldn't have anything to talk about with these people, we are from very different walks of life (age, job, ethnicity, gender, etc.) and that just shows you how STUPID I AM. Here are some things I learned about people these last few weeks.

Senior is a sixty-something Hispanic man (that speaks broken English) who is one of my employees in a factory. He used to be a chef in Las Vegas (until his wife got addicted to gambling, then they moved). And now he works in a factory, and runs a boxing gym for little kids out of his house 4 days a week. He is one of the kinder people I've ever met. Also, he told me "Eric is the special name that lives in your heart." And I couldn't have said it better myself.

Junior is Senior's son. He is in his thirties. This post is not all about how great people are and how everyone is a good person once you get to know them. I got to know Junior. And he's a ------. BUT, he's an interesting ------, this ------ used to be a pro boxer. Although, it should be noted that this is less of an interesting fact about Junior and more interesting about Senior, because Senior trained the little ------ to be a boxer in the first place and traveled around the country supporting him.

Gomez has been a lot of places. He told me about being a dealer in a casino, being a crab fisherman in Maine, and now he works in my factory. And, after learning I'm from he said:
Gomez: I been to Burlington Iowa. You know Burlington?
Me: I'm from Burlington! Are you serious? Why were you there?!
Gomez: I come with group to pull fuzz from corn.
Me: I used to detassel too!

Not super interesting, but that's the first time I've ever run into anyone from Iowa, let alone Burlington, down here (Arkansas).

So moral of the story is don't be a Judgy McJudgerson, it's pointless, no one is really what you expect and, honestly, it's pretty rude. But I'm working on it.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My first subgenre smash

I went to Chuck Wendig's blog today to check out what this week's Flash Fiction would be. It's "Smashing Subgenres." There were 20 different fiction subgenres, and Chuck asked that we randomly generate (or just pick) two of the subgenres and write a short story in those styles (I got Haunted House and Weird Western).

I had no idea where to start, especially because I had no idea how to write in those subgenres, but below is my process for getting from "Huh? What the hell is weird west?" to "I think the cowboy and the ghost should be attracted to each other"

1. First, find out what the subgenres are, maybe read a sample of some of the more well known authors in that category. Get a good feeling for what readers typically expect from those subgenres.

2.  Write down the first words that come to mind when you think of the subgenre. For example, this is exactly what I wrote for Haunted House. Ghosts, mystery, casper, family history, tragedy. There, I hit something that I think I can actually work with, family history and tragedy can give me a very interesting story and may meld quite well with Weird West.

I did the same thing for my Weird West category.

3. Write a brief couple of sentences fleshing out what's going to happen in the story (maybe a little back story too, to organize your thoughts). Keep asking yourself why things are happening (as an engineer this helps me because we use a 5-Why tool to get to root causes in manufacturing problems).

4. Character info. I know now (from my brief few sentences), that I have two main characters. A woman-turned-ghost, who is Native American, and a man who is a ranch hand, vampire slayer. Some of the things I did here were to look up coming Native American names, picture someone in my mind and write down their characteristics (physical and otherwise), and look up some common accessories for cowboys...

5. Now, I'm ready to actually start writing. I don't begin at the beginning of this story, but half way through, I only have 1,000 words so I want to make sure they're all interesting.

6. I write. I just barrel through it, not worrying about word count, just making sure all the necessary detail and back-story get the appropriate mention. Does the story make sense? Did I leave any loose ends? Are the characters believable?

7. All the words are on paper, and I do three things. First, I check my word count, 1,400 words. Ouch, got to cut about 400. Second, I read through the story, removing unnecessary detail that I spent twenty minutes coming up with, and removing scenes that don't add value to the story. Then, I email it to my boyfriend (who is at a one-year-old's birthday party and thank you so much for being supportive and taking the time to read this for me!) so he can let me know if it makes sense, if it's interesting, and point out any weak spots.

8. Revise, revise, revise. Focusing on a few of the main points Eric pointed out, I elaborate on some flashbacks to try and make sure the history of what's going on makes sense. Then I work on the ending a little bit, so it doesn't just slap you in the face unannounced. And apparently I never mentioned my character was a man, so I have to make sure that's something that the reader know too.

9. Post it and congratulate yourself on stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Flash Fiction: Desperate Slayer

Thanks to Chuck Wendig, I am able to exercise a new writing muscle by trying my hand at smashing two subgenres into one short story. My two, randomly generated, subgenres were Haunted House and Weird West. Hope you enjoy!

 Desperate Slayer 

The vampire sank his teeth into my bicep, he would’ve ripped it apart had it not been for the rope I tied around his legs a moment before. The idiot creature already forgot. I pulled the rope and watched the vampire fall to the floor as his feet were yanked out from under him.

I took my gun from its holster and shot him effortlessly in the heart, turned on my heel and left immediately. I swung my leg over the back of my horse, careful not to put pressure on my injured arm, and gave him a silent nudge with my spurs
In the last year there was a surge of vampires, they started popping up everywhere and they were no longer afraid of us. My home was the only place I felt completely safe anymore. That is, until she started making appearances.
It was harmless at first, she popped up a few weeks ago for a few seconds and would disappear without a word. She had started sticking around for longer and longer, staring at me with cold, dark eyes. Three nights ago, she communicated with me for the first time. She showed me vivid scenes of Native American villages getting pulverized. White men on horseback drove families from their homes and killed those who did not leave willingly.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Writing Methods Pros & Cons

In my endeavor to become a writer, I have been doing a lot of research on what works for established and successful authors. In this post I will compare the pros and cons of conflicting methods in the hopes that it gives me some sort of idea for my own writing.

1. Having a set writing atmosphere: having just the right amount of light, the right type of music (or no music at all, maybe just white noise), a clear desk or comfy couch, drinks within arm's reach, your hair secured in a certain way, etc.
  • Pros: Having a set atmosphere can put you in the writing zone, you may begin to associate that particular set-up with writing time and have more confidence in your writing. 
  • Cons: It may take some time to actually set up your writing environment. By the time you light the candle, find your writing hat, clean the room, and spend five minutes on Facebook (as part of your routine, of course) you could have pumped out 500 words! Also, always writing in that same environment may cost you; you may grow to rely on that exact environment to be able to write. What if you lose that hat, or what if your internet isn't working, will you be able to write? Will it put you in a funk?
2. Outlining your book.
  • Pros: The pros to this one are obvious. You begin the first draft with a clear idea of where you're starting, where you're ending, and the steps you are taking to get from beginning to end. It is much easier to sit down and write when you already what it is you're going to write about. It also helps to think from a broader perspective right off the bat, so you're not in the situation (a situation I have found myself in recently), of "I'm 2/3 of the way through my story, and I just realized I haven't addressed the curve ball that I put in Chapter 1 and have no current plans to do so."
  • Cons: You may be stunting your creativity. You already know what you're going to write, right? You don't have to get creative every day to figure out how your character is going to escape that haunted house, or get out of that abusive relationship, you've already figured it out! There have been several instances for me when I think of (what I think at the time is) a great idea that I had no notion of before that very moment when I was brainstorming. I'm not saying no one brainstorms after outlining, but if you have a very thorough outline, are you really going to spend a whole lot of quality writing time on brainstorming ideas that you've already come up with?
3. Research (for fiction, there are really not a whole lot of cons for non-fiction writing, I presume)
  • Pros: You have accurate information that readers can trust, you will have a reputation of legitimacy. Your writing is informative as well as entertaining.
  • Cons: Often, it is a waste of time. For example, I am writing a story that takes place on a Hawaiian island. First I had to pick an island with a small enough population for the community I was describing. When my character was walking around the island I spent time researching what sort of terrain the island had, sandy, rock, etc. I researched how many miles the perimeter was, and then I realized -- no one cares. Who is really going to look this up to make sure I'm right? And even if someone did, so what? It's fiction! It's my book, and I can write about whatever the hell I want, true or not!
This is the point of my book I'm in now, I'm sure I'll have more methods as my writing and research prevail.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Blogging in 2013

I have finally gotten on the blogging bandwagon. I barely have a twitter account, but blogging I am interested in. I'm not necessarily into it to make money (though no one would complain about that), I'm mostly interested in the other benefits of blogging.

I am writing my first book (hence the blog title), and want to gain readership before I'm actually ready to publish anything. I have been reading a lot (A WHOLE LOT) on blogging and how to increase traffic to your blog.

I feel like I've missed the train.

It's not that people aren't still reading or writing blogs, but it's not new or particularly interesting anymore. But that's the problem isn't it? Coming up with something that you want to write about, that's not already being said, that others will want to read.

All the sites ay to write about what interests you, write about the area of your expertise. What interests me is having interests. I'll try just about anything. For example, I've taught myself how to knit, been zip lining, love traveling, and reading. I also watch quite a bit of TV -- who wants to hear my take on the latest episode of How I Met Your Mother?


I thought so. Now. As I mentioned before, I am an aspiring author. The word author looks a little ambitious to me, but I already wrote it and I'm sticking with it. So far I have basically just been throwing up on this blog, writing about the first topic I can think of, whether it interests me or not, because -- BLOGGING IS HARD

Not necessarily the act of writing itself, but the psychological aspect. Having to think of something every day that you can convince yourself, however untrue it may be, that others want to read.

Some of the advice I've read suggests that I write about issues important to my core audience. Since I am writing a young adult fiction, I think my core audience should be late teens, but I don't just want to write for teens, I want to be relevant to all sorts of people. Only one of my interests require a teen core audience.

In an effort to keep my blog from sounding like it has some sort of split personality disorder, I will continue to post whatever I want, with no particular audience in mind.

I will be taking a blogging class in a few weeks, and it may tell me to do the exact opposite, but for now...I blog about nothing in particular.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

More ways to skimp w/o losing quality

It can get really expensive to treat yourself to the things you love. Below are some tips on how to save money, without having to give up treating yourself.

1. Like sushi? Me too, but that shit is expensive. Next time you go to a sushi place, go as close to closing as possible. They can't serve the same stuff the next day, so whatever they don't sell they have to throw out. A lot of places will offer it half off after a certain hour. You can also just ask, typically they will give you at least a deal.

2. Manicures/Pedicures/Hair Cuts/Waxing - so relaxing, but not so much when you check your bank statement. Go to a beauty school, you will get amazing deals, typically they can't accept tips, and most of them are actually really good! They won't usually let them near the customers if they haven't passed some sort of manikin test...

3. Do you like to buy nice things for your kitchen? Pampered Chef has some really cool gadgets that I would love to have in my kitchen...but I usually can't afford more than one or two items. BUT, you can get 15-25% off of Pampered Chef items when you host a pampered chef party. The host gets a discount because everyone else is expected to buy something. They are pretty fun, a pampered chef representative will come and help cook dinner using some of the cool gadgets, so you get a pretty good party out of it too.

4. I love to read. I have a nook and, yes, e-books are cheaper -- but they add up. A lot of libraries now offer e-books. They usually have pretty good selections too and you can typically keep them for as long as you want, some offer magazines too so you can cancel your subscriptions!

5. Are you in to technology? If you can't afford to spend $500 on the new phone or tablet, go to amazon and buy them refurbished. They're still not exactly cheap, but you can typically get them for $50-$200 less depending on if there are any scratches.

Every dollar counts!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Being cheap...I mean...economical

The boyfriend and I are merging bills and trying to save money. We started by sitting down and writing exactly what all of our bills were and how much (on average) they usually ran. After you figure out how much you want to save, then whatever is leftover from your income after all your bills can be used for entertainment and whatnot.

Some things we've started doing to get the most out of our money include: signing up for a cash back credit card (even if it's just 1-5% that's much better than the typical interest rate earned on savings accounts), buying groceries a week at a time (when you go to the store every other day you are more likely to spend more money and buy things you don't need and didn't budget for), pay as much as you can on loans (most loans earn 3-10%, depending on the type, and it's a much better investment to pay those off then to let money sit in an account only earning 0.25% interest), and we've actually started manually tracking all of our purchases (cash or otherwise, having to physically type it in increases your awareness of how much you're spending).

Also, just generally being cognizant of cheaper ways to do the same exact thing. Want to see a new blockbuster? Go to a matinee. Want to eat at that new fancy restaurant? Go for lunch, smaller portions but way cheaper. Planning a big vacation? Sign up for Groupon and look at the amazing deals they have before you buy anything! Sign up for stores' free savings cards, Kroger will let you save money on certain items and give you discounts at their gas pumps!

Always ask yourself if there is a more economical way to do what you want to do. For example, I love buying books. Typically I'll go to a bookstore and browse until I find something I really want (which comes out of the entertainment budget, of course) and I'll compare the tangible book price to the e-book price. Usually I can save $3-$10 on any given book by buying it on my nook instead.

However, there are things that have no substitutes. Like the shaved ice cart in the Kroger parking lot. The best snow cones ever, and now that I am physically writing down all my purchases, I realize I spend up to $30 on snow cones every week. That's more than my cell phone bill...

Oh well, no one's perfect. And those snow cones are delicious.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Writing my first book...

A couple of months ago, I began writing my first book. I've always been an avid reader, writing seemed like a natural transition, I thought it actually wouldn't be all that hard.

For years, my boyfriend and I have been having regular conversations beginning with, "You know what would be a cool book idea?" But nothing ever came from these conversations, the idea is the easy part -- no one ever tells you that. I always just thought having an interesting idea would write your ticket. Not true.

I've been spending the last few months researching other writers' blogs, writing websites, participating in prompt activities, watching tutorials, and spending an allotted amount of time with my own manuscript every week.

It always starts the same, I dread sitting down to actually write, I can find almost anything else I'd rather do. It didn't start that way, I actually felt some sort of writing high the first day I wrote, but now it's like pulling teeth. The thing is, after I get through the first few minutes and sentences, I get that high back again! The words start flowing, my character continues developing, and ideas come out of nowhere!

So I guess writing has turned out to be the hobby that I love to hate.

Here's to hoping I get through this and have something to show for it at the end...