Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Writer’s Block and Getting UnStuck

JoyofWritingYep, I’m one of those bad writers that seem to not write when she’s suppose to. I’m supposed to complete one (1) novel a year, but here it is, going into October, and I haven’t written anything!!


I’ve kind of worked on editing some older work, but that was only a few times this year. Ok. Ok. Just three (3) times this year I’ve looked at the novel which has fifteen (15) chapters and I’ve edited up to Chapter 10–on three different days.

I’m pitiful!!


I wish I was all HAPPY about writing like the woman on this blog picture, but I’m not. And what gets me even more depressed is that I know my writing skills, with every day of NOT writing, is going down the tubes!!

So… I went online to figure out how to get me back into writing.

A few things suggested were:

  • Take a break
  • Read a Book
  • Attend writing functions
  • Join a Critique Group
  • Write fun stuff!

I think my break is Loooooong enough.
I did read a book. Sex Zombies was a fun read.
I attend the Houston Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers monthly dinner via Meetup.com
I don’t have a Critique Group anymore

And writing FUN stuff? Uh, duh. I DON’T WANT TO WRITE!

Thus…sigh…I still don’t write.

My next thing was to go to Google for MORE help!

I love the writing contests that give either a topic or provide a small portion of the story that should be used in your story. One of them is WriterWeekly’s 24-Hour Contest. The story has to be completely written within a certain time frame, like 24-hours, and thus the story becomes unique and original. This site you have to pay $$ for though….

I also love NaNoWriMo which happens during the month of November, where you have to type 1667 words a day to meet the 50,000 word count by the end of the month.

I’ve heard of other writers talk of Write or Die where, on a serious level, the program starts deleting what you write if you procrastinate too long. The Web App is free, but for $10.00 you can buy a desktop version.

If you like pictures of kittens, after so many written words, you can have a cute cat pop up every time you meet your writing goal word count. Written? Kitten! is the place for that.kittens


Lots of fun stuff on the internet for online tools to boost those creative juices!


Hopefully something will help you if you’re in the same mess as I am. As for me, I’m still trying…..


I think I’ll wait until November. Hmmmm.


Until Next Time!!



Why I LOVE the GURU Website!!

timeworrylateNo knowledge? No Skill? No Time?

a) One of the above?
b) A couple of the above?
c) All of the above?

That’s exactly where I was with two (2) of my websites.

One of the websites has been sitting on my mind for YEARS, and the other website, yeah, a few years too.

They needed to CHANGE!!

Website #1

I had typed up these really specific details for Website #1 which was on the Movable Type platform. When I first started looking for places to put blogs, I thought Movable Type was the best option…until I started working with it. Then I wanted to discard it, but then used it anyway. I kept HURTING myself for no reason! I even mentioned in this blog: WHY did I do this Movable Type AGAIN?!! And I had NO IDEA. Besides, just trying to get something to work that was already created and activated, there was no sense on continuing with it. It was a HEADACHE! So much so that I LOST all my comments on it by accidently deleting the WRONG THING!!! UGGGGGGGGgGggggggghhhhhh!!!!!

I needed Website #1 to be moved from Movable to WordPress, and the information on the internet looked too hard and too time consuming for me to do it myself.


Website #2

I tried to quickly put together a website that was REALLY informative, but use a FREE template website design to create it. All those hours of making How-To videos for Website #2 was just wasted on a very, very, ugly, unsightly, silly looking site.

But I just didn’t have the time to convert Website #2 to a better look and feel.

Da-dada-Daaahhhhhh!!!! GURU to the RESCUE!!!



I don’t know WHY I didn’t do this before! But I was talking to a friend of mine on how he could update a business website, and make it look really professional looking. I gave him the advice to use GURU and FIND someone to do it for him. Well, he decided to use templates and a lot of time to try to fix it himself. I kept telling him to use GURU, and he simply refused–still peddling along trying to do it all himself.

Then it clicked! I’ll SHOW him how EASY it is to just get someone else to do it for him.

WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS BEFORE???!!!!



So, I started off posting a project for Website #2 on Guru with a title: WEBSITE UPDATE. I explained what I needed, and how HORRIBLE my existing website was, and I got over 40 requests with ranges of costs from $100.00 to $2,000.00. The time I would have taken to try to redesign the website myself was placed into the time to go through the suggested cost quotes and resumes of the skilled WebDesign companies and individuals. Actually, it was a lot less time. I simply took my time to go through them.

Guru has change A LOT since I had been on the site and found my Cover Designer and Editor. Using the Web Design category this time, I got quite a slew of requests–mostly from India. Not only did I get so many responses, I also got the same requests sent to my Facebook Page, my LinkedIN, my Twitter, and my personal email!!

MAN! I understand persistance, and trying to stick out from the competitions, but that took the CAKE! They had looked at my website I wanted to redesign, got my contact information from i,t and found me on every platform they could find to send additional contact information on their interest on re-designing my website.

Needless to say, I developed an elimination strategy. Grrrrr!!!

  • Those who called me: Dear Sir (eliminated!..If they would have included “Madam” in the title, I would have left them on the list, but NONE of them did)
  • Those who just sent general “canned” information about their company and nothing specific containing information about my website (eliminated!)
  • Those who just sent two-line sentences that basically said: We can do that project (eliminated!)
  • Those who quoted above the $0-$250 range that I submitted (eliminated!)
  • Those who did not have samples of previously designed websites or references (eliminated!)
  • Those who sent me a list of websites and I couldn’t connect to them (eliminated!)
  • Those whose profiles stated they were based in the United States, but when I went to their websites, they had signs that they were NOT in the U.S. (ELIMINATED! — I don’t like misrepresentation!!)
  • Those who couldn’t reply to my questions in a way I could understand them or replied without answering all of my questions (ELIMINATED!!)

Next, was to rate the quotes of the ones I wanted to take a 2nd or 3rd look over their designs. Then, I took into consideration their price quote. Finally I settled on a designer.

I was so excited about getting my Website #2 redesigned that I remembered Website #1, and how I wanted to changed it to the WordPress platform.

I started another project with the title: Movable Type to WordPress–Blog Website

All-in-all, I paid $250.00 for Website #2 (which I could have gotten done at a lot lower price, but I decided I wanted to work with this particular designer because I liked his designs, and he was going to give me the files, like I wanted, for me to continue updates on my own via Dreamweaver)

I paid $160.00 for Website #1 (which, again, I could have gotten lower, but this designer answered all my questions, wanted to do EXACTLY what I wanted, and got it all done within a DAY!!).


Here is Website #1. Before and After. It doesn’t look like much now because I need to go find a cool skin that I want to put with it, just like the skin on this current blog that you’re reading now.

Before After
oldBlogWebsite NewBlogWebsite
Take a look at the actual Website #1



Here is Website #2. And it looks AWESOME compared to what it looked like before. I’m just SO VERY happy for this update. Also, now, I don’t feel so sheepish when directing people who saw my YouTube video and then went to my website, only to see some silly-looking, amateurish website that wasn’t very easy to navigate. It looks SO VERY PROFESSIONAL… NOW!!

Before After
OldToolsWebsite Mock2
Take a look at the actual Website #2



So, the moral of the story??? Get the extra help when you:
Don’t have the Time.
Don’t have the Skill.
Don’t have the knowledge.

The relief to get something COMPLETED… FINALLY! was one big Awesome SIGH for me!!

…and my friend? Well, I told him my story and showed him the results.

He’s still twiddling with his business website.


Until Next Time!




Is my Book Cover included in the copyright protection of my book?

I just went through the CopyRight Office for my last two books, and they are now buckling down on their procedures. Before, I just had to send electronic works, but now, if there’s a paperback version of my work available to buy, I also need to provide two (2) physical proofs of that as well. If my novels were selling in eBook format only, I wouldn’t have to mail the CopyRight Office proof of the work just upload the digital format.

So, then there was this thing about my Book Cover and if I Own it. I had two choices, which they emailed to me and let me know how I should answer.

CHOICE ONE: If I didn’t make the Book Cover, then the registration record must contain an explanation of how I obtained the copyright book cover designer. I can then say it was transferred “By written agreement”.

CHOICE TWO: Alternatively, if the artwork was done on a work-for-hire basis, and that I, the author of the text, was the employer, then I can say that. When a work is made for hire, the employer is considered the author, and not the individual(s) who created the work. I can then authorize the CopyRight office to name me as the author of the “for hire” artwork.

So, if you pay someone to do the cover for you, just let the CopyRight office know that the artwork was “for hire” and that says that you own it and it will also be copyrighted, belonging to you, along with your novel.

Just wanted to pass along that bit of new information. I always learn something new in this business.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

On a personal note…. Yeah, yeah, I haven’t been posting like I used to. I’m working on a novella and as well as a sideline of marketing, which is also fun for me. I’m still doing some testing on this marketing, which I really don’t do much of, or rather very little of–marketing, that is. So, I’ll let you know how it works.


Until Next Time!



Novel’s A lot of Work! Thank you Templates!

I forgotten how much work it was to get a novel together for people to buy. Man! I was like, “Did it take this long to format last time?” And, “Maybe I’m missing something….” And, “I can’t stop at this part…I need to keep going.” And it took HOURS and HOURS to format my novel Jetta from yWrtier to an edit form for my editor; then I had to go over the edits of my editor, and format it again for: the Kindle HTML, the Paperback Format and Smashwords. I had to first start off by putting my novel in Notepad to get rid of all the formatting so that I can use my templates and have a fresh copy.

Geez!

When I thought I knew how to do something, it didn’t turn out right and I had to go back and figure out which step I missed and what went wrong. As I continued on, I begin to see why some authors have choosen just to pay money for someone else to do it. It took me a few days to figure out stuff again and get things right.

Next, I’ll have Creations to do! And then the process starts all over!

Thank the Heavens for TEMPLATES!

If it wasn’t for my Smashword, HTML Kindle and Book Format templates, it would have been even longer. I just had to place my format codes around the formats for my fonts (i.e italics, bold, underline. center), copy and paste the novel in Notepad, and copy each chapter, one-by-one, into each of the templates I had open. I then had to put my formatting back into each area by searching the code and making the correct updates.

Remember these codes?
Bold: <strong>^&</strong>
Italics: <i>^&</i>
Underline: <u>^&</u>
Centered: <c>^&</c>

Yeah, the faithful codes I can put around my formatting and then remove them. It was a lot of tedious work, but I got it done, and hopefully, the next one will go faster. If it hadn’t been so long since I had done all of these things, I think it would have gone much smoother. I’m so glad (and I know I’m repeating myself) that I had these steps and notes to help me along, because this can become frustrating…very fast.

I sometimes wonder if this site has actually deterred some authors from doing the Self-Publishing route…. It does take some time and effort to complete. Hmmmm.

But, when you have a business, and that’s what this is, there’s a lot of work you have to put into it. And in the end, it is always fulfilling.

Until Next Time!

What Do I Need To Do Next Again?

I love written down instructions. When there’s A LOT of steps to do, then “words that stay” (as mentioned in The Dark Crystal on defining what “writing” is), written instructions, are there to help when you need them.

I’m back to doing my self-publishing steps for two more books which I have finally finished writing and self-editing. Now, the 2nd and 3rd books of The Calling Series (Jetta and Creations) are ready to go for my editor. She has Jetta right now and we’ll start on Creations in a little over a month from now, after Jetta is done. I’ve also contacted my Book Cover Designer, and she’s off to creating the cover for Jetta as well.

I kept forgetting, “What do I need to do next again?” and I’m so glad that I have this blog to go back to figure out what I missed. My Step to Self Publishing has those necessary layers that I just forget how to do:

  • BookTrailers – Got to get my pictures at Dreamstime and music at AudioJungle
  • Copyright – Will go to website after getting Book Cover and Editing done
  • ISBN – Check! Already have a block of them, BUT, I got to update the title with the associate book for Bowker
  • Format for Paperback – Will do Steps here. And Uploade to CreateSpace
  • Marketing – I wanna do the PRLOG again, just because I want to DO EVERYTHING!
  • Update Social Media Sites – Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing, Facebook Page – once everything is uploaded and submitted to Amazon Kindle and Smashwords

Hmmm. Is that it? I th-think so…. Oh well, if I missed something, I’ll just go back to the blog page and retrace my steps.

Until Next Time!



Need an Editor? Need a Book Cover Designer?

Pst! Pst! Hey. Over here? Need something? I got you covered.

The place to go to help you on your book designing and self-publishing path are sites where other self-publishers hang out. They’re the “been there, done that” crowd who has paved the way to make it a bit more easier for yourself.

I go to KindleBoards.com.

You can ask any question and you’ll get a slew of opinions and different point-of-views and different tastes in tea and coffee. And getting various types of ideas and opinions always helps me on making a decision on what to do.

All types of opinions help you formulate your own way and your own path.

You can take a piece of idea here, and take a piece over there, and a piece right around the corner, and a teensie, weenie piece from that person you just don’t like (but that part of the idea was pretty good). Just post and ask your question and you’ll get answers.

It’s like looking into a crystal ball.

Until Next Time!






Do I Need An Editor?

EditorsBack in the day, we use to dread that red ink that corrected our English papers. We even described it has “bleeding”. So, what was it about that “bleeding ink” that caused so much anxiety?

CORRECTION! YOU’RE WRONG!!! REDO!


Yep. Redo. And A LOT of it! Along with that blaring kick-in-the-face statement that YOU’RE WRONG!

That about sums up the anxiety of editors, but let’s look at the bright side.

Editors gives that shiny new car that JUST RIGHT polish, which makes it shine (twinkle! twinkle!). They also can notice things that the actual author would not. I mean, we all are individuals and haven’t we been mistaken a few times in our lives? Yeah. Miscommunication. That thing. An editor can look at something that makes absolute sense to you, but may not quite read well to someone else.

It really doesn’t matter how well you’re versed in your language. Doesn’t even matter if you have a PhD in your language. Even the brightest of us needs a second pair of eyes on our work. And if it happens to be perfect, you need someone else to let you know that. I mean, come on, if you happen to be a cutie, you wouldn’t know that unless someone told you, right?

So, yes, I believe that an editor is needed, BUT I absolutely, positively, completely, for certain, understand those who can’t afford one. And I’m gung-ho for those who still want to self-publish and do all the hard work to make sure their master pieces are as well written as possible. You have a dream and you want to achieve it like everyone else. But you still, at least in the beginning of any writing skill, should have your work critiqued.

A lot of people have said Critique Circle was a pretty good place to go to. For those horror, science fiction and fantasy writers, there’s the Critters Workshop. These places are completely free! But, yes, it does take some time to get your work done (A LOT OF MONTHS AND MORE MONTHS), but you would at least learn what you should be looking for in your writing craft.

AND, NO! NO ONE IS GOING TO STEAL YOUR WORK!!

If that concerns you, it’s just $35.00 to upload your work to the CopyRight Office, and you’ll be worried free.

Critiques can be very scary at first, and you might run into a few “rude” reviewers, but mostly critiques are constructive and are therE to help you. You learn which are just opinions and which you really need to take a look at and do a rewrite. There’s a skill in critiquing and being critiqued as well, and it will most definitely help you improve on your storytelling. You want to give your audience an enjoyable read.

AND YOU DO WANT THAT WORK OF PURE AWESOMENESS, RIGHT?!

Bottom line, another pair of eyes, is needed. And NO you can’t use family and friends. They’re bias and won’t tell you your mistakes. It’s strangers that you need because strangers, in the long run, will be your audience. And strangers are the ones who will let you know if your novel is horrible and post it in reviews if it is. And strangers will let you know your novel isn’t worth it because you won’t get hardly any sells. And it’s strangers that will spread the word if your storytelling is AWESOME!

So, yes, let go of your protected and loved child, and send it out into the education system to learn what it needs to learn to succeed in the world. Being in school does take a long time, but it’s so well worth it once you get your degree!

Let it grow. Let it be measured for the awesome skill that it has achieved.

And make that dream come true.

Until next time!



Paperback or eBook?

I spoke at a High School about Self-Publishing earlier in February. It was a small school with about 500 students. I say it’s small because my Senior graduating class in California was 900 students. For me, this was a small school. While there, I watched and listened to some of the students after my presentation was finished and answering questions (and before the bell rung for the next period), and it reminded me that not everyone has the privilege of having internet access, let alone the funds to purchase an eReader. Some of them didn’t know what a “blog” was, but they have heard of Facebook and Twitter, though most didn’t participate in it.

I’m going to repeat what I wrote in a comment…

When I travel, I’ve been trying to count how many people in airports use print versus eReaders. It’s been about even in some areas, and then there were all eReaders, and then some mostly print. It’s still a mixture of both depending on where I was. Plus, when I speak to people about my book, the first thing I still hear is, “Where can I get it?” When I tell them it’s online buy only, they’re like, “Oh” and that means, “Nevermind…not for me.” I then tell them they can order the print version from online too. I see their face lift for a moment, but I still get that feeling like, “Oh..I don’t do that much internet shopping.” LOL!!

I had to change my mindset about digital taking over print…and it will, but it still will take some time.

For me, I still get money from eBooks than Paperback, so I focus there. HOWEVER, it’s really easy having paperback available via CreateSpace which is owned Amazon. I have not sent my latest book (The 9th Symbol) to Lightning Source yet (a lot more work and money needed versus Createspace which is very easy), because I just don’t see any revenue there. YET, I do have the files available when I am ready to put it there. It’s just that Barnes and Noble doesn’t have a paperback copy of my latest book…just Amazon does. Yet…hmmm… CreateSpace now has a way to get my paperback to Barnes and Noble for just $25 (see CreateSpace Expanded Distribution), which wasn’t available before, but it is now.

So, for those who want paperback, it’s easier to go down that lane now using CreateSpace.

Doing both format does require some work, but I’ve made templates that you can use…free (you know my favorite ‘F’ word 🙂 ). Just go to my Tools Website and download it.

Either way, make sure you’re putting out the best product you can, because people will be looking and tongues are slick and harsh on the internet world on reviews. Having a good product would at least avoid some of that, and increase your sells when word spreads on recommending your book.

Until Next Time!

Games, Films and Novels

I use to be afraid that no one would read novels anymore. The more technology increased with providing images for the eye to see, the more I began to believe that the imagination would disappear.

And then technology brought a few saviors.

My fear? The films that I actual love: Science Fiction and Fantasy. As every year passed, technology put to screen the imagination that once sat in the mind. We use to just have comics on paper; game boards and small self-painted figurines for Dungeons and Dragons; the Renaissance Festivals and Muppets. Yeah, Muppets made up for imaginations, and so did cartoons. Jim Henson was The Man with his puppets like in The Dark Crystal (1982). And then time flashed forward and films like Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) came out. That film opened many eyes and even brought fear to actors and actresses who started copyrighting their faces and features so that it couldn’t be duplicated in CGI without permission. “OMG! They won’t need us anymore!” the actor’s mind screamed. “It will all be Computer Animated! And computers don’t argue back on how to say a line, or want to argue about adding additional lines. It would be so much easier for the director and we’ll be paid less and less!”

Then Television had to keep up with Film and Cable, and CGI entered that world, and story lines got better and my favorite shows became a must to watch: Stargate, Fringe, Dexter, True Blood, Game of Thrones, and on and on and on….

Then there were these incredible games like Final Fantasy XIII and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim with graphics that blow your mind! Grass move, stars gazing with realistic movement of clouds, individual voices and characters with stories and attitudes and religion, night turns to day and day into night, and even the food looks like something you want to pick off the screen and have on your own table in these games. I’m not a gamer, but my significant other is. And I sit and type and do my social network, and I watch this engrossing world that is simply… Beautiful!

There’s nothing needed for your own imagination when it’s visually there for the picking.

So… I thought novels and books were going to be obsolete.

And then eReaders started to explode, and I saw how SO MANY PEOPLE who weren’t readers of novels and books before, became readers. The Kindle became an desired object, and one can even read from your own cellular phone. There’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, Forums and all sorts of things online that one must read; and even the entertainment on game consoles had entire novels to read like in Skyrim where books sit on shelves of castles and huts and cabins that have completed stories for the gamers to read.

To Read. Sigh.

The imagination inside the mind hasn’t disappeared yet. In fact, it’s growing!

Until Next Time!

NaNoWriMo and yWriter

Of course I figured out AFTER THE FACT (after NaNoWriMo) how to use yWriter during NaNoWriMo.

What’s NaNoWriMo? For those who don’t know, it’s National Novel Writing Month where participants take on the challenge to write 50,000 words (approximately 175 page novel) by writing from November 1 and end on 11:59:59, November 30.

Is it a Contest? No. Do you win anything? No. It’s a self-perseverance experience to help those, like me, who need that extra help and reminder to… JUST WRITE. No worries of spelling, or grammar, or plot, or character names, or anything that gets a writer hung up. The point is just to WRITE. This activity has helped me with two novels in the past and with the almost completion of the 3rd novel of The Calling series. People chat on forums, meet-up with fellow writers in their local areas, orchestrated by the local Municipal Liaison (ML) who volunteer to help cheer people on to their goals to reaching the 50,000 word mark. The ML also coordinate write-ins where you meet up and all write together.

There’s parties too 🙂

This year, since I’ve been using yWriter on all new materials now, I wanted to use it’s word count to keep track of my progress. Also, I heard that it’s programmer used it specifically for NaNoWriMo as well. As mentioned earlier, I missed out on the feature during the November time-frame. I was busy looking at the bottom of the yWriter window and trying to jot down the “Added Today” word count into a Excel spreadsheet instead of looking around the software to find a much easier way to see what I wrote for every day of my novel project.

DUH.

Heh. Heh. You know me. Silly, silly.

I wanted to share how to use yWriter with NaNoWriMo for those of you, like me, who wanted to know, but just didn’t look hard enough for the answer. There’s an ongoing, running tally of your word count under: TOOLS > DAILY PROGRESS LOG (picture below).

yWriterDaily

In the picture, it also tracks the days you just open up the software and didn’t do anything. Notice my Zero counts on the first three rows (Dec 4, Dec 2, and Nov 29). The word count goes all the way down to the very beginning of the start of the project (which I don’t show in the picture, but you get the idea).

PRETTY NEAT HUH?

You can also set a target of when to complete your novel and it’s word count. The picture below, is just some kind of estimate that I’m most likely am NOT going to reach, but I added it in there anyway.

I put a Start Date for Dec 4, 2011 and an End Date of February 5, 2012 for 75,000 words. The green bar gives my status on my goal.

So, yes, I’m a cheerleader for yWriter. I can’t help it. It has REALLY helped me with getting around my novel, knowing what characters are in what scenes, what items are used, where I use certain locations in the scenes…EVERYTHING, that I think a writer needs. It’s awesome, and I did show my much appreciate by donating…because it’s FREE you know 🙂

Before I go, if you noticed, I don’t have Winner! as my picture for this blog, but just Participate. Yep, I wasn’t going to complete the 50,000 word count…at all. But I participated because it helps me, and I met my goal to add at least 10,000 more words to my current novel Creations. Last year, I believe I only wrote about 3,000 words during the month of NaNoWriMo.

It’s okay though. My local ML said to me in 2009 to just participate for the writing and that I didn’t have to really reach the 50,000 word count. It stuck in my head, and I decided to give it a try for 2010, and I did it again this year.

I enjoy it!

Maybe I’ll reach the 50,000 word count in some future time as when I first participated in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005. But for now, I enjoy the experience.

Until Next Time!

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