As I traverse the bottomless pit that is my writer’s block, I’ve picked up one too many distracting habits. For example, I’ve rediscovered my love of dress-up games. You know, those flash games 90s kids were crazy about. Well, those blast from the past have come a long way, and they can be great tools for visualizing your characters or just a fun way to pass the time. I’m currently playing on a site called Doll Divine. They have a huge selection of free games, spanning various genres, including games that feature male and female characters including animals. Here are a few examples:
Of course, copyright belongs to the artist, but this can be a fun way to envision your characters, which otherwise you’d never get to see outside your mind. So if you’re not artistically inclined take a moment to browse through their selection, you never know, you might enjoy yourself.
Just the other day I was speaking with a friend about how to get to know your characters better. As writer’s, it’s assumed that we should already know everything about our characters before we write, but that is far from the truth. More often than not, we get to know our characters as we write, but what if you wanted to get to know them better before you start writing? How do you go about doing that?
What I’ve found that really works for me, is starting a relationship with your characters, talk to them, ask them about their day. I know it sounds crazy, but it helped me overcome some really tough spots in my writing, especially with my current project, which has been plagued with spells of writer’s block and schedule conflicts. In the time away from the page I think of my characters often. I think what would they be doing if they were here, or better yet, what would they be doing on an average day. Of course, all this information won’t be included in the story, but these interactions may help reveal new character traits you may not have thought of before. I also spend time listening to my characters talk to each other. I have two characters, in my current project, that are best friends and I’ve learned so much about them just through listening to their conversations. This helps make the interaction between them more organic when I write. So I don’t need to come up with something random to feel a dialog gap. Instead, I can rely on what I’ve observed to create a better scene and don’t limit yourself to having them just talk to friends. Have your characters talk to other characters, whether they are side-characters or the shopkeeper in the market, even the antagonist. Find out what makes them tic, it’ll help down the line when figuring out how the characters will react.
I hope this helps in your character development journey, good luck writers and remember don’t give up on that story, the world needs your voice.
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!
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.
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.
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?