Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Awesomeness that is a Library

Growing up I was a bit of a library fiend. My weekend plans almost always involved a trip to its hallowed halls and I could be found visiting its stacks three or four times a week. I always had at least a dozen books checked out at a time. For a while I was pretty sure that I had funded the new expansion for our local library simply because I was paying so much in fines and late fees. At one point I had nearly $127 accrued. Don't ask me how since they don't let you check books out after you have more than $10 in fines. Somehow I managed it, though I think I had help from my mom.

In the past few years I've quit patronizing libraries and have instead spent major bucks on my personal library. This wasn't intentional it just happened. Part of that was because I was in the military for a few years and one of those years I spent in Afghanistan. This was okay because people from home was always sending Soldiers books so my FOB (Forward Operating Base) had a pretty decent selection of donated books. There was also a program that you could sign up for that would send books in your favorite genre to you for free. The only catch was that you wouldn't be able to pick the books and what you got was what you got. Most of those books had been donated to the program and I read a lot of books I wouldn't have normally.

The other reason is my kindle and the rise of indie authors. It can be very difficult to talk myself out of buying a book if it's only $.99 or $1.99. I spent so much money doing that while overseas that it was slightly unreal. That habit carried over when I got back and it has only been recently that I've started visiting the library again. Mostly because I had a sudden hankering to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy back to back. I'm glad I did because I was reintroduced to an author I used to follow fairly religiously until her books took off in a direction I didn't like. Her most recent book blew me away and since I've gone back and reread her other series. Best of all, it was all FREE! That doesn't even touch all the new books I discovered just walking by the new books pile. Authors I never would have given a chance to otherwise. It also helps that the library has started buying books in one of my favorite genres, Urban Fantasy.

It's like I've rediscovered an old love and we're getting to know one another again. I'm going back and rereading old favorites, finding new favorites and this is almost no charge to me! I say almost because I'm already racking up the fines:) It's always fun rediscovering previously known treasures which the library was to me when I was young.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

To plot or not to plot?

When I first sat down to write Dragon-Ridden, I had no plan. No characters were etched out and I had no clue what I was going to write about. This flew in the face of everything I had ever learned as a writer, but at that point in time I didn't care. I needed to get my mind off what was going on around me and writing became my outlet. It wasn't until about chapter three that I finally started asking myself where this story was going.

While this process wasn't necessarily a bad one as it let me just flow with what I felt that day, it was often a difficult way to write as I had no way of knowing if the direction I was writing in fit with the overall theme of the story. It resulted in a TON of rewrites. At one point I remember thinking that this was exactly like writing in the novel full time versus the editing I had planned. I was writing so many new scenes and expanding on old ones because a key motivation for the main character changed. That change happened on the first page almost which meant everything else in the book had to change to reflect that.

After that I promised myself I would have some sort of outline before I attempted to write another book. Before I even opened a new document for my current novel I bought a notebook and started taking notes on the characters involved, the world they would live in and what would happen during the course of their story. Parts of this was easy as I had had this book running around in my head for nearly a year but other parts I had to push myself on.

Now that I've started writing I'm thankful I did. Main character descriptions are easier in part because they have already been decided on. Every day when I sit down I know the scene I'm writing and what I want to get out of that scene. Rather then having to feel my way through what is happening, I know what comes next. It makes everything SOO much easier. I know I might have to divert from my outline at some point but for right now it seems to be holding steady.

Though I now prefer to write from an outline, I'm glad I wrote Dragon-Ridden the way I did. It wouldn't have been the book it was if I had planned everything out from the start. It took so many twists and turns while writing and ended up something I totally wasn't expecting. The journey was kind of fun and I learned a lot on the way.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


One of my favorite things that has come about from having to pimp my book on so many forums is the discovery of some excellent blogs about book reviews. Once upon a time I tried to launch my own blog asserting my opinions on books but alas I quickly lost interest and it ended up falling by the wayside. What can I say? I like to read but find it difficult to insert time to write about everything I have read. I read one to two books a day!

Awful, I know, but it's so much easier to find a new book then spend minutes or hours composing my thoughts into a coherent argument for why I like or dislike a book. I'm trying to change that and have written several reviews on goodreads, but it is slow going and still not my favorite task. That's why I have a lot of respect for others who manage to have whole blogs devoted to reviewing books.

A by product of this discovery is finding several new authors to read! I can't even say how excited that makes me as I'm always scouting potential up and coming authors. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Good because that means more books. Bad because when I find new books I tend to lose focus when it comes to my writing. I also tend to hole up in my room and read to the exclusion of all else.

I have made many discoveries in my self-publishing journey t but this is by far one of my favorites. I'm glad that the road is not only filled with seemingly insurmountable obstacles but lovely places to stop and take a break as well!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Looks like writing was the easy part

Since I finished writing my first book, Dragon-Ridden, I have spent a significant portion of time learning what comes next. You know those things like designing a book cover, editing, figuring out royalties, and marketing. All those things you never thought about while you were crafting your masterpiece. I know I never did. Come to find out writing a book is just the tip of the ice burg. So much more goes into creating a book that sales. And since I am an indie writer going it alone it comes down to my motivation and creativity to get the word out there.

I've set up a blog, a web page, a twitter account and signed up for goodreads. That doesn't even take into account the research that has gone into how to market this thing. There is SO much out there that it is sometimes hard to find my way and to know which advice to trust and which to throw away.

I am learning that to create a presence on the web you have to interact with other people. It's not just enough to read the message boards or other peoples blogs, you have to comment. This can be hard for me as I'm rather shy, but I am getting better. Everyday I find new people to talk to and find other blogs I can either read or submit my book to for review.

I keep telling myself that this is a marathon not a foot race. That word of mouth takes time. Still, I find myself checking my book sales every day and praying that someone will write a review for amazon. In essence I've become a book stalker!

Time to take a deep breath and stop complaining. I've definitely done enough promotion for the day so it's time to get back to writing my next book. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year Everybody!

With the start of the new year, I can't help but look back at the past year and all that has occurred. This time last year I was sitting on a cot in Manas after having just left Afghanistan. I remember hearing several loud booms and thinking we were under attack. I immediately tried to identify the location of the nearest bunker, where my weapon was (it was in the men's tent under guard), and being extremely upset that we had no ammo for those weapons. Needless to say, for a few moments I was a little worried and deep into a fight or flight response. It wasn't until a woman came in saying she saw fireworks being shot up into the sky that I even realized that it was midnight on New Year's Day.

Fast forward a year and I am ringing in the New Year with several of my dearest friends while attending my first blues dance party (which was a LOT of fun despite the fact that I had no idea how to do blues dancing.) I have since left the military, finished my first book, published that book and am working on a new one. It has been an eventful year filled with ups and downs. Despite the challenges this year, I am in awe over the many blessing in my life and there are so many things I am grateful for.

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year and that the next one is even better than the last!