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.

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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.

A Review: The Unlikely Tale of the Royal Elite Squad by D.A. Alston

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The Unlikely Tale of the Royal Elite Squad follows four ordinary girls who gain superpowers after a mysterious accident. However, with great power comes great responsibility. How will they balance their new gifts in between their busy lives?

I really enjoyed reading this. The author takes you into the lives of four young high school girls struggling to find themselves. The story is structured in first person of each girl giving you an interesting perspective into all of their lives. The diversity is welcoming in a culture lacking in heroines of color and each girl stands out and has their own unique story and hurdle to overcome. I also loved the cover and back art, it helped me to visualize who each character was. The pacing and plot development was easy to follow and had enough changes in it to keep me engaged. The story is based on themes of honesty, friendship, and acceptance, something the world could truly use more of.

the-unlikely-tale-of-the-royal-elite-squadAll in all, I’m inspired by these girls and would recommend this book to younger readers who love a good old fashion superhero story. I give it a 3/5.

 

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

Closing Thoughts and Discussion

I wasn’t sure how the point of view changes was going to work, but once you get used to it, it becomes easier to read. I loved the fact that we can jump into each girl’s head. I think you need something like that if you’re truly going to write a story with four main characters. As I mentioned above, I really loved the diversity. The author did their homework and made me believe each of the girls and their backgrounds were believable. It was modern and the dialog was hip to the culture, making it easily relatable. It wasn’t without its error or two, but nothing is perfect. I still enjoyed the story. I’m hoping the author will continue. I believe the world could benefit from more heroes of color, especially positive female role models.

What are your thoughts? How did you feel after reading the story?

What’s Next for Ouji?

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The reviews are trickling in, and everyone seems to be enjoying my story, much to my delight. I haven’t quite reached my goal of thirty reviews, but I appreciate all the feedback I’ve been given so far. Granted, most of it comes from my friends and family, but I can tell by the way they enthusiastically talk about it that they enjoyed it. As for what’s next, I honestly had no intentions of continuing the story. Ouji the Curious Cat, was to be a one-shot, as I have tons of ideas brewing in my mind. However, I can’t seem to stop my mind from drifting to my favorite long haired black cat. I created this universe, and now it begs for attention, a continuation, and I kind of want it to happen too.

If you’re not aware, in the writing world, series make much more money. Readers desire more, and the market seems to tilt towards series rather than stand alones. I wouldn’t write another book as a cash grab, but it’s one plus to writing a possible part two. My primary motivation, however, is the desire to see more of Ouji and his friends. I think about him from time to time, and I want to bring more of him to life. My mind is warming up to the idea, despite my protest. So perhaps in the future, there may be a few more books about Ouji.

One thing for sure, if I do plan on writing any type of continuation, I’ll be making drastic formatting changes, meaning I’ll actually hire a formatter to format the book. I want to make shorter children’s books, with more pictures, as I love pictures. It’ll still be a chapter book, but with more pictures integrated into it. The idea of adding more imagery makes the prospect of writing more about Ouji all the more enticing, but it’s still in the very early planning stages. Currently, there is some pretty stiff competition for projects, but stay tuned I have many many ideas up my sleeve.

If you haven’t gotten the chance to pick up my book, it’s on Amazon for $7.99 and Kindle for only 99 cents. As I mentioned earlier, I’m very interested in feedback, good or bad. So if you have the time leave a review. Author’s love reviews.

A Review: Wandering City Blues by Jonny Lupsha

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Wandering City Blues is an engaging murder mystery that literarily takes you around the world. The story follows Detective Leon and his new partner Iris, who has a very mysterious background, as they try and figure out the motive behind a series of grizzly murders. They go through hell and back in this science fiction novel about humans who live on the backs of giants.

I really enjoyed this story once I started to get into it. It was a little slow to start, but I’m glad I finished it. The story was very technical and jammed packed with lots of details, but luckily for me I had Google right by my side to help me look up anything I don’t know. My favorite parts of the story were the descriptions of all the titans and the people and cultures who lived there. It was very creative, as the author strived to make life on the back of mile high giants as real as possible. I believed it, and I really loved the cover art and pictures throughout the story too.

In short, I’m glad I stuck it out and finished the novel. The author had a really cool idea, with a dynamic story, so I give it a 3/5.

 

the-unlikely-tale-of-the-royal-elite-squadNext on my reading list is The Unlikely Tale of the Royal Elite Squad by D.A. Alston

Summary from Amazon:
The Unlikely Tale of the Royal Elite Squad follows four young girls as they embark on an exciting new journey after an accident occurs at their school.

 

 

 

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

 

Closing Thoughts and Discussion

I can’t say how much I really loved the ending. It was a roller coaster of a ride reading this and I mean that in a good way. I’m happy Iris found her peace. I’m also dying to learn more about the other titans as they only talked about a few and I really want to see pictures of them too.

I found Sao to be the most amusing, for the life of me I couldn’t imagine a giant beast trotting around Earth blasting angry Jamaican music. My favorite titan though was Psamanthe, she was sweet and kind, and she proved Detective Leon wrong, that titans do care. And the children on the ground, I would love to read a story about them. That was the most magical part seeing them wave to Leon and Iris as they ascended.

With the knowledge of the children what are your thoughts? Do you think more humans survived elsewhere?