Taking a Break

Now that my writer’s block is in full swing, I’m going to step out of my writing shoes and revisit one of the hobbies that got me into writing in the first place. I’ve always drawn inspiration from watching television and in my youth as a writer of fan-fiction, I love to dive right into a show. It’s a great way to give your brain a break. So this week I’m taking a vacation in the exciting world of Sam and Dean Winchester from the CW show Supernatural.

Now, I was a little hesitant to start re-watching Supernatural again, as I tend to binge watch shows like crazy, but I was in luck. I was only a season or so behind, so I could binge away without having to commit to watching several seasons at a time. I’ll try not to reveal any spoilers, but I’m currently in the middle of watching season eleven, and I’m surprised how much I still really like the show. In a past life I was a bit of a fangirl, or to put it bluntly I was quite the Supernatural fanatic, and because of this, I joined many online fan communities. I’ll admit, it was fun for a while. It was nice to be able to talk to hundreds of fans from around the world, but on my fandom journey, I learned a great deal about my own fanhood. I learned that I’m not as bothered by some things others seem to blow out of proportion, and that’s not to say the show doesn’t have its fair share of faults, but I’ve found being so close to the fandom affected how I felt about the show. To be clear, I love interacting with other fans, but watching Supernatural without the constant chatter of so many voices has really revamped my interest in the show. I’m not going disappear under a rock or leave my fan communities; I’m just going to focus more on my relationship with the story.

 

P.S. I’m always down to geek out about SPN!

Financing Your Self-Publishing Project as a New Author

I see the question come up a lot on forums, how does a new author come up with the money to fund a project? If you Google the question of how much it cost to self-publish you’ll get a variety of sites telling you pretty much the same thing. They all lean towards the opinion that it depends on you and if you’re like me and found that answer unhelpful don’t fret. Those online bloggers aren’t trying to be vague to throw you off. What they mean is the process of self-publishing is completely customizable. You get the freedom to select whomever you want. The decision to go a more affordable route is completely up to you, and affordable doesn’t have to mean the poorest quality. Affordable could mean hiring the best service provider within your budget range, and yes there of lots of talented service providers for any budget. You just have to do your research.

Now that’s all fine and dandy, but even still a good cover artist can run you three hundred dollars. How are you going to come up with that start up cash? Well, if you’re serious about self-publishing, you might want to consider opening up a business bank account or getting a credit card strictly for book-related expenses. It’s often not recommended to jump right into debt self-publishing, but you don’t want to sacrifice quality for price. It’s costly to go back and have a cover re-done or a book re-formatted. Be smart with your cash. If you can find a credit card with a good interest rate and rewards, you’ll find that little bit of startup cash to be a big help. If going the credit route is not for you, there is nothing wrong with saving up for services the old fashion way. I actually did both, and yes it takes time, but one big plus of saving the old fashion way is not having to pay it back.

Going back to opening up a business account, it’s also helpful during tax time. There are a lot of expenses related to self-publishing that can be written off, that means a bigger refund for you and more money in your pocket. There are drawbacks of course, like high minimum balances and fees, but that varies by institution so do your research.

I’ve found that having a credit card with a low balance of around one thousand or so was very helpful. I made a plan before publishing to pay for a third of the cost out of pocket, and it really helped me stay grounded and shop within my budget. There’s also nothing wrong with taking a part-time job to cover publishing cost. A few months in retail, while stressful, can be a major boost to affording the artist you really want to work with. It’s hard work, but a temporary hurdle overcome.

What about crowd funding?

That’s a viable fundraising option too. It works best for authors with an already established audience. How do you know if you have an established audience? Look at your social circle, do you have any friends or family that may be able to help you finance your project? How about your reader niche? For example, are you writing religious children stories? Maybe your local church may be interested in backing you if you agree to make a book donation. There are lots of people out there interested in seeing your project come to life, you just have to look and don’t be afraid to ask. You’d be surprised the reach your social circle has.

Lastly, it’s not a race. If you’re in love with an artist and you really want to work with them, plan and save to pay for their service. Remember this is your project, and as a self-publishing author, you get the final say in how you want your book to look. Don’t cheat yourself or your readers, by cutting corners. You deserve better than that.

A Review: Poppy by AVI

Before I begin,

I retain very few memories from my childhood, but I remember the nights my mom sat up with me reading this story. That moment is one of my fondest memories, and just the other day, in passing, my mom took one glance at the cover of the book and smiled as she remembered reading this to me also. Truly, this story has had a profound effect on me. I have never forgotten about Poppy and her many adventures, even in my writing, I am inspired to write daring tales about courageous creatures fighting the odds. So to the author, I am glad you decided to share this story with us.

 

*****

 

This is the second book in the Tales from Dimwood Forest series that follows Poppy, a young deer mouse, who takes a stand against a great horned owl named Mr. Ocax, the protector of the forest.

This is the second time I’ve read this book, and I stilled enjoyed every bit of it. The story telling echoed the classic tales I use to watch as a child. It was told in a way that made you feel like you’re reading a fairytale and not a book meant for children. I also loved the characters and the way the author describes them. I enjoyed the illustrations throughout the book too. As for the plot, it’s easy to get pulled in. You immediately want to know what is going to happen to Poppy and her family and why Mr. Ocax acts the way he does.

Poppy_Book_Cover

All and all, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys classic adventure tales. It’s the perfect bedtime story to read to your children, and you’ll find that you’ll like the story as well. I give it a 5/5.

 

***HALT: The section below contains spoilers***
***Read at your own risk***

 

Closing Thoughts and Discussion

 

It’s hard to remain unbias here, but I really enjoyed re-reading this childhood classic. I’m actually surprised how much I liked it the second time around. Go Poppy for beginning so brave, I think her meeting Ragweed really had a positive effect on her life. I really need to finish the series now.

As the bliss of reading the story ebbs, I find myself thinking about Mr. Ocax’s final words. When he died, he said he didn’t understand why he bothered to protect the mice. I was under the impression, just like Poppy, the stories about porcupines were made up to keep the mice in line. Did Mr. Ocax actually believe he was doing the mice a favor or were his last words meant to make Poppy feel bad? What do you think? What are your thoughts?

Ready, Set, Go…

I know very few authors who haven’t had a case of writer’s block, it kind of creeps up on you, like a spider crawling on your bed. It can strike at away time and solutions for it include clichés like “Just power through it” or “You just gotta sit down and write.” Well duh, obviously I know I need to sit down and write, but how can I if the words are all clogged up? Unfortunately, there is no plumber we can call, there are however some daily practices you can do to encourage the words to flow.

First and foremost, you’re not going to write at your best if you’re in a bad mood. Set aside some time to clear your mind. Snack, watch some television, bathe, get your mind right for the task. As a writer writing is supposed to be a relaxing activity, allow yourself to enjoy it by de-stressing before you start a session. I like to cruise through Facebook and listen to my favorite Pandora station before I begin. Another thing that is critical to getting yourself in a good mood to write is setting up your writing space. Do you write better outside of your home or office? If so, then leave. Certain locations carry a certain air around them that might be over or under stimulating for an already distracted mind. Maybe the peace and quiet of a library may force you to settle down and get a few pages done or the opposite, maybe a busy café is the perfect place for those long writing sprints. Find your writing cave, make it your own, and you’ll find your attitude towards finishing that last chapter will change.

If you’re busy like me, it is also hard to find time to sit down and write. I’m sure you’ve had that powerful urge to write at inappropriate times, like in your car or at work. However, these feelings don’t have to go to waste, carry a notebook around with you or better yet, just grab a pen and a napkin and joint down your thoughts. It’ll be extremely helpful when you finally have the time to sit down and write to have those notes on deck, so no more trying to remember that big break in the scene or forgotten dialog, write it down. Get a tape recorder if that helps, or carry a tablet. I’m most productive while I’m at work, but I only have time to write late at night, and you best believe I flush out a lot of ideas during the daylight hours. You don’t have to write every day, but you should be thinking about your project daily. Run trailers in your mind to keep yourself hyped up, talk to your characters, interact with the story, it’ll help.

Finally, there is no catch-all cure for writer’s block. It comes and goes. Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve hit a wall, writing isn’t something you can just conjure up and spit out, you have to feel it. So in these mini writing hiatuses, take a breather, enjoy a good meal, and distress. It’s not going to last forever and worrying about it isn’t going to help either.