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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Can't wait to get it done and make it available!

I finished Reflections in the Window a couple days ago. There's been one major change, as per a suggestion from Danny: I'm changing the title from Reflections in the Window to:
Shadows in the Window

It seems to suit the story much better

This week, I'll be editing the story and having my proofreaders take a gander to find anything that needs corrections. I'm also going to add in an event. Once that is done and the cover is made, Shadows in the Window will go live on Amazon! :-) :-)

After Shadows in the Window is up, I'm going to begin work on the sequel to The Secret Room!  I'm excited about that one: it's going to explain Elias's origins and how the secret room came to be, who the mysterious girl that tried to warn Jimmy is, and what ultimately happened to all of them.  At this point, it looks like it is going to be longer than The Secret Room, and possibly spawn a third installment.  We'll see, though, after the second one is done.  :-)

I'm also putting more work into my zombie novel.  All this writing makes me happy- the only drawback is that my ideas are forming faster than I can write them down, but I guess that's a pretty good problem to have.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Life may be complicted, but it is beautiful.

This week, my family said goodbye to someone very dear: Grandma Oberhansley passed away on the morning on January 27th.  She will be greatly missed, and will live on in our hearts and our memories.

When someone passes away, it always makes people reflect on life.  Life is a precious thing, and unfortunately, most people don't realize it until they lose someone close to them or their own life is in the balance.

Life goes by fast, no matter how much time you get.  My best friend, Shelly, passed away two and a half years ago at the young age of 21 (sadly, her brother passed away this last year at the age of 22; party in peace, Shelly and Jon).  The following May after Shelly was lost, my Great-Grandpa McCoid passed away at the age of 101.  When he died, all I could think of was how fast it must've gone for him.  He was older than the Panama Canal, saw human advancements ranging from bread that comes sliced in the package to men landing on the moon, and saw a range of wars from World War I to the War in Iraq (participated in some, but not all, as a member of the United States Army), and yet it's already over.  Whether you get 21 years or 101 years, life flashes by quickly.

Unlike a movie, there is no way to tell how long your life is going to be.  You can't just flip over the DVD case and see that there's 73 years, 28 days, 4 hours, and 17 minutes in the total running time of your life.  I'm 25 right now; if I live to be 101 (which I doubt I will) then my life is already 25% over.  But who knows how long we each get to live?  It's a rare thing for a person to wake up in the morning and have any inkling that today will be the last day of their life, but the truth is that any day could really be the last day of our life.  That makes life a pretty special thing.

After I went into remission from cancer, I was very bitter.  I was angry and just kept wondering "Why did this have to happen to me?"  Later, though, I realized I was lucky (yes, lucky, though I'd never wish cancer on anyone, friend or foe) to have had the experience.  It shaped my life, in the best of ways- I gained an appreciation for each day that I have and all the people I get to share my time with.  Life may be complicated (and downright difficult) at times, but life is beautiful.

So many people focus a lot of energy on the question "What is the meaning of life?"  In my opinion, we should focus on a different question: "What is the meaning of my life?"

Are you happy?

Are you passionate?

Do you spend your time doing what you enjoy?

Do your loved ones know how much you appreciate them?

Do you find the simple loveliness of the little moments in life?

My Grandpa Bob has always told me that "life is too short to not do what you love."  And yet, so many people spend their time working jobs they hate for a paycheck that barely gets them by, while they are too afraid to attempt to achieve their dreams.  But why?  Some people prefer the security of a "regular" job over the uncertainty of going after what they want the most.  But in doing so, they give up the possibility that their dreams will ever come true.  No risk, no reward.

I'm going after my dreams, and although I know I won't always be 100% successful, I'm going to keep going for them.  I don't think of them as "dreams," I think of them as "goals," and I plan to work hard and enjoy the journey of making them happen.  (I loved writing The Secret Room, and I can't begin tell you how much I am enjoying writing Reflections in the Window- absolutely loving it!  You'll see it soon.)  Because there isn't really a final destination until we are lying six feet under; life is an adventure, and if we don't enjoy the journey (the time we have here on earth), then what will we enjoy?

Friday, January 27, 2012

If you want to be a writer, you have to know how to write.

My writing is not perfect, I'm well aware of this, but I do practice and refine my writing skills and vocabulary every day (yes, everyday, with very few exceptions).  I write, I read, I learn, I practice.  I strive to improve my skills and myself.

It peeves me when someone asks what I do, I tell them I'm a writer, then they reply with "Oh, I'm a writer, too!" when I know that they:
    1) have never actually written anything outside a classroom assignment.
    2) have never written a single FaceBook status without serious misuse and abuse of the English language.  (Grammar, punctuation, and spelling are your friends, people!)
    3) haven't read anything other than the occassional Cosmo magazine article in the last five years.

...or any combination of those three.  Being a writer (or actor, musician, singer, dancer, poet, painter, or any other type of artist, for that matter) is not just something you can suddenly just say you are and then you are one.  (I dance, but I'm certainly not a dancer.)  It takes discipline, skill, practice, passion, dedication, and a drive to constantly learn and understand more about your field.   You need to develop your craft, expand your skills, and bring out a piece of your soul to be an artist, and (above all) you need to enjoy what you do.  Knowing how to start and extinguish a campfire does not make a person a firefighter; memorizing lines does not make a person an actor; knowing how to change a light bulb does not make a person an electrician; just knowing the basics of writing does not make a person a writer.

 Number 3 is included for a good reason: I have yet to come across a decent writer who is not also an avid reader.  Writers are readers.  Most readers are writers (whether for pleasure, business, career, or other, I've noticed that those who read the most also write, even if it's not every day).  Reading improves writing; I know it has definitely improved mine, and continues to do so.  When I read a book, I always keep a dictionary nearby (usually the dictionary app on my phone; it's Oxford) to find any words I do not know so I can add them to my vocabulary.  I take note of how the author has formed the sentences, why they may have chosen to piece it together the way they did.  Seeing what works in other stories (and, just as importantly, what does NOT work) helps me to know what may or may not work in my own stories.

Here's a quick list of some tips to remember:
*What's the day after today?  It's tomorrow.  Notice there is no "a" in the word, and there is a "w" at the end.
*"Till" and 'til are not shortened forms of until.  A till is (as defined by Oxford) "a drawer, box, or the like, as in a shop or bank, used for keeping money or valuables."  It can also mean "to cultivate the soil."
*You're = you are; your = belonging to you
*Not everything ending with an "s" requires an apostrophe.  As a general rule (although the English language does like to break rules occasionally) if something is plural, is does not get an apostrophe unless it is an abbreviation or a symbol.  For example, plural 3 = 3's; plural sister = sisters; if it were sister's, it would belong to your sister.
*Then = happened sequentially or at that time, as in: "I opened the door, then walked inside" or "gas prices were so much lower back then."  Than = comparative, as in "Harry Potter is better than Lord of the Rings."
*Lose = to come to be without, as in "you're going to lose your marbles" or "I want to lose some weight."  Loose = opposite of tight, as in "I think this writer has a few loose screws."
*Close = opposite of open, as in "close the door, you're letting in the cold air."  Clothes = the items you wear, as in "I went clothes shopping and got this great poncho!"

But, to go in a completely different direction, being a writer is not just about knowing proper rules of grammar and spelling.  (Oh, there's another one- grammar does not have an "e."  Grammer is a misspelling; Mispelling with only one "s" is also a misspelling.)  The most important part of being a writer (or any of the aforementioned trades) is passion and dedication.  Loving what you do and putting your heart and soul into it is key.  Don't measure success by the money you make; measure your success by how fulfilled you feel; how happy you are.  Tell a good story, make lovable and loathsome characters come to life, and make us want to not put your work down, even when it's over.

Art is a reflection of life.  We are artists because we long for a deeper understanding of the world around us and the people in it.  We want to move others, make them think, and spread ideas that will lead to a better and more profound way of life.  If you have a dream, go for it!  But stop calling it a dream, and start calling it a goal, then work your ass off until you have reached that goal; and once you've reached that goal, set another.  Aim high, think big, and don't settle.  Believe in the impossible, because "impossible" does not exist unless you make it exist.

"If you can dream it, you can do it." -Walt Disney

So here's a little test for those of you who are paying attention: I've intentionally made a few mistakes (a misspelling, an improperly used word, for example) in this post.  Can you find them?

EDIT: I want to thank Peter Donnelly for pointing out a mistake: TILL is correct as a substitution for "until."  Using 'til is incorrect, though.  Check out Peter's blog, or this page on World Wide Words for some interesting info on the use of till and its origins. (Apparently, the word "till" is actually older than "until.")

Creating My Own Nightmares

Last night, I didn't sleep very well.  I kept having nightmares based around the novelette (though it may turn out to be a novella, I'm not sure) I'm writing.  In the room I'm sleeping in, there's an open door that looks right into the bathroom.  In the bathroom, there's an electrical outlet with a tiny red light on it, that happens to be right next to the mirror.  When it's dark, it looks like a pair of big red eyes staring right at me, so even when I could block out the scary images I had created for Reflections in the Window, I was kept company by the demon eyes that watched me as I slept.  Not comforting.

I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that my own ideas give me nightmares.  Danny says it's a good thing.  Of course, I've been living in my mind as Rachel for several hours a day, so it's been on my mind a lot while I try to create ideas to scare her.  Since I put myself in her mind, then what scares her scares me.  (Or is it vice versa?)

Either way, I'm pretty excited about Reflections in the Window.  I think it will turn out better than The Secret Room, and I think the novelette will become my forte.  (But I do have some novels planned, too.)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Importance of Freedom of Speech

I'm currently in the middle of reading Mockingjay, which is the third in The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, and it's made me really reflect on freedom.

The freedoms we have (or don't have) are ones our society has decided upon through the centuries.  We don't always get to decide what we are and are not free to do (for example, look how long that only white men were allowed to vote- minorities and women have been able to vote in the U.S. for less than 100 years), and sometimes freedoms get taken away if those in power decide we should not have them for whatever reason.

I feel that the most important freedom we have is the freedom of speech.  Hopefully, it is a freedom that will never be taken away from us.

Freedom of speech is the most important of freedoms because, with freedom of speech, we can share information, ideas, and knowledge.  As cliche as it may sound, knowledge is power.  "The pen is mightier than the sword."  (I wish I could remember who said that- Abraham Lincoln? Benjamin Franklin?  I don't remember.)  Giving up freedom of speech means giving up true freedom.  Could you imagine not being allowed to say what you believe in?  Or being persecuted for saying something against the government that rules us?

That's one thing I love about living in this country (there's a lot of things, but this one particularly): being in a country where we are allowed to voice opinions and beliefs contrary to those of the powers that be and change things for the better.  We can learn and grow, see the mistakes of the past, and stand up against them to create a better world, one more towards equality.  The reason the slaves were emancipated, the reason women gained the right to vote, and even the reason we are no longer a British territory goes back to one small group voicing their opinion for what is right and standing up to change things.  I encourage people to always voice their opinion, even if it differs from my own.  I'll be completely blunt and say that if a person voices an opinion (be it agreeing or disagreeing with my own) that is completely not backed by any reasons, I'll encourage them to do some research and really think about why they believe what they believe.  I believe that a person who does not know why he or she believes what he or she believes doesn't really believe it, but is just regurgitating what he or she has been told.

Another reason why I'm so grateful for freedom of speech is because I am a writer.  Maybe I'm not a known writer (yet), but I am allowed to write my stories any way I choose.  If I wanted to, I could even write a fictional book about President Obama falling in love with a bowl of petunias that turn out to actually be a spy from another planet sent down to study earthlings in order to take over our planet, but the bowl of petunias surprises itself when it realizes it loves Obama in return, even though its species does not have emotions so it does not understand what this "love" is but it's very conflicted over its new desire to save earth while remaining loyal to its own species.  (I could write it, but I won't.  I don't want to, and I doubt anyone would read it.)

On that note, I am really happy with how my second book is turning out.  It's called "Reflections in the Window," and it's a thriller.  I'm trying to write it so that the reader won't be able to tell if the house Rachel (my main character) is housesitting is actually haunted, or if it's just her imagination playing tricks on her.  I'm hoping readers will guess and ponder up until the end when I give the reveal.  We'll see how it comes out, but I think it'll be better than The Secret Room when it's done.  :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

4 out of 5 is good, so why is the 1 out of 5 so loud in my head?

Sometimes I feel confident in myself and my writing, because I love doing it and I enjoy what I write (otherwise I wouldn't write it).  But no matter how much positive feedback I get (and this is on life in general, not just writing) it seems that one negative comment can bring all the confidence crashing down.

I think, for most people, confidence is like a log cabin- one log can easily be rolled away, and the more logs there are, the more it takes to roll away and dismantle the cabin.  But sometimes it seems like the positive reinforcement it takes to build the cabin is a lot smaller than the negative reinforcement it takes to dismantle it.

My novelette, The Secret Room, has been up on Amazon for about two weeks now.  During that time, it has been read by numerous people who have given me amazing kudos and positive feedback (as well as feedback on what they are most interested in learning more about, which has spawned me to create a prequel/sequel to go deeper into the story), which I can't begin to say how astounded I am that The Secret Room became so well-liked.  I'm humbled by an amazing and unexpected beginning into the world of self-publishing (and I know it's going to take a lot of work to keep it up and make a living doing what I love, but I feel that hard work will be worth it tenfold).

Then last night, I noticed a weird flux in the U.K. sales report, which has been constant all week.  I looked on The Secret Room U.K. page, and saw reviews that I was unaware were there.  There's two reviews, one is a 5-star saying how much they loved it, and the other is a 1-star saying how terrible it is and warning others not to waste the £0.77 ($0.99 USD).  If you want to see the review: The Secret Room UK.

The weird thing is that I was selling zero copies in the U.K. until the review was published, then I sold 3 in a day.  So I have no idea if that is just a coincidence, or if people were enticed by the negative review and the positive review and decided they want to read and find out for themselves.  But I didn't sell the 3 copies until yesterday, and the review has apparently been up since the 14th, according to Amazon.

The more people read my work, the more I'll be faced with harsh criticism and negative reviews.  It just comes with the territory.  But as long as the positive is outweighing the negative, then it's all good.  There is no way to please everyone, so bring it on.  Even Stephen King gets negative reviews on his work!

When it comes down to it, I write because it's what I love.  This isn't a get-rich-quick scheme (if anything, it's a get-rich-slow scheme, or more likely, a hope-you'll-make-an-acceptable-living-slow scheme) for me, and if I never sold another copy again, I'd still write.  I would still work to finish all the stories and books I have planned, because it's in me and I need to get it out.  But seeing that review kind of took me down, and even though it's the only really negative feedback I've received for The Secret Room, it is still making me question myself and my work.

I'm not taking it personal, though.  I know not everyone will enjoy my stories.  It's just hard to move on sometimes.  But if you're in a valley of negativity, not moving on will mean staying in that valley.  And I prefer the mountains.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Don't try, don't fail. Don't try, don't succeed, either.

I'm at a point in the story I'm working on right now where I'm feeling a bit dry.  The beginning was easy to do, I know how the end will be, but I've reached that transitional point where I'm not sure what is happening now, but I need to make the transition into some more action/plot.

When I write and I get to the dry point in the story (as I almost always seem to once in each story I write) I get so frustrated.  In the past, this is the point where I give up and shelve the story.  Some of the stories I have shelved will most likely never see the light of day again, and it kind of upsets me, but that's just how it goes.  Not every story idea will get written, not every beginning will have an end.

As tough as it is sometimes, we just have to push through because we know it's a transitional period.  That's applicable to both my story and my life at the moment.  I'm broke, living with parents temporarily (which is fine, because parents are great once I grew out of my whiny-no-one-understands-me-because-I'm-a-know-it-all-teenager phase and realized they actually know quite a bit about life), and trying to get my act together and really figure out where I want my life to be and how I want to get there.  I know this is temporary- someday I'll be in my own home again with more than just $30 and half a tank of gas to my name.  I know that bills will be paid every month, and I will be able to live comfortably and help others to do the same, but for now, I have to live through where I'm at.

Acknowledging that being broke and in a rough patch of life is just a temporary thing gives me a lot of comfort.  I think that's why I don't let the hard times take me down- I'm still happy, I still enjoy life (and always will), and I know that with hard work, dedication, and perseverance, things will get better.

The difference between writing and everything else I've wanted to do (and it's a long list of careers- comedian, singer, coroner, film editor, phlebotomist, CEO of the Disney Company, just to name a few) is that I feel like I'm actually trying at this.  In the past, I've never put as much effort into things as I should have, and I think that is because I was afraid of failing.  If I didn't try, I couldn't fail.  But not trying in itself is a failure, in my opinion, and if we never try anything, then nothing will ever happen.  No one is going to make dreams come true for us, plain and simple.  If we want something, we have to work for it.  If we aren't willing to work for it, then we probably don't want it as much as we may have thought.

If I fail at writing and becoming a successful writer, at least I will know I tried.  And in the end, I think trying and failing is much better than not trying and always wondering what could have been.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weaving A Web

The expression "what a tangled web we weave" is usually associated with lying, but I can't help but picture a web right now.  At the moment, I'm "building a web," or a network (as it's usually called).  Connecting blog with FaceBook, Twitter with Blog, Amazon Author Page with Blog, Twitter with Amazon Author Page, and so on, so it'll be easy for people to find me and my work.  I'm imagining all the pieces of social media connecting together and forming a beautiful spider's web of sorts. 

Danny told me this morning that he thinks I'll be pretty good at writing thrillers and horrors because I still get scared over things.  Being scared is kind of fun- it's an adrenaline rush- but sometimes I go so overboard in the things I imagine in my head that I need to stop and remind myself that it's just my imagination.  I don't get overly scared over things, and I do know the difference between reality and fantasy (well, most of the time, at least), but I do love a good scare.

Stories that are thought-provoking and make you use your brain are also very appealing to me.  Finding a story (be it in book, movie, poem, cave writing, verbal, or any other form) that makes you stop and reevaluate your thoughts or actions is a rare find, but always a gem.  I think there's so many people out there who don't use their brains anymore, and it's a shame.  The mind is an intriguing and powerful thing, and I believe we should always be striving to expand our proverbial horizons of thought and understanding.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Such a strange feeling indeed...

So, this is entirely new.  Kind of a strange feeling, I'm really not used to it, but I think I like it.

I have a plan.  Like, an actual plan, for life.  Well, for life right now at least.  I know what I want, how to get it (pretty much), and what it's going to take.  I even have goals, with real numbers and a time line in which I expect and aim for those numbers to appear.  And the plan includes a lot of writing, so while The Secret Room is currently the only work I have available, it won't be like that for long.  I'm aiming to have my second thriller up by mid-February, the next installment of The Secret Room chronicles up a month later (there will definitely be two; maybe even three installments), then my zombie novel shortly after that.  I've got three other ideas that I've been developing- in the adventure genre- and I want to write a memoir.  (See my previous post RE: My memoir.)

Plans don't always work out, of course, (like John Lennon said- "Life is what happens while you're trying to make plans"), but I'm ready for what the road holds, bumps and all.

I've always felt that life is an adventure, if we want it to be.  We have so much potential inside of us, and no matter where you come from or how long it takes before you realize what you want, nothing is impossible.  This doesn't just come from believing, though- it takes hard work, dedication, and the ability to get back up when you fall.  Just keep going, but don't forget to enjoy the ride.  Life will be over before you know it, whether you live 25 years or 100 years.

There's something that Will Smith said that always stuck with me:
"Being 'realistic' is the most common road to mediocrity."

So dream big.  Aim high.  Never settle.  Fall down, and get back up.  Learn from your failures and they won't be so bad.  Always keep moving forward.

Believe in yourself, and always remember to smile.  :)

p.s.- Kevin is doing fantastically, he's still above his word count goal.  And I only stayed up until 2am reading last night.  ;)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reasons for writing, the past, and the future. A very personal (and long) post.

We all have our reasons for doing what we do.  I write because I pretty much feel I have to.  And I want to- I love writing, it fulfills me.

Having an overactive imagination is a blessing more than a curse.  Of course, sometimes it means sleepless nights after reading or watching something scary, convinced that the noise I heard was not just the ice machine, but was in fact a ravenous zombie, risen from his grave just to have a bite of my flesh.  Overall, though, having an overactive imagination (along with tons of reading, and many classes, both in writing and in acting, but more on that later) means I'm constantly getting new ideas for stories, and I want to share them with others who may find them interesting.  Most of the time, nothing more than a note about the thought comes from my ideas, but I write all of them down in case I want to develop them in the future.

But anyway, I do have specific reasons why I hope to make a good living and then some off of my writing.  For one, what a dream it would be to be able to make an income off of a passion, instead of having to work a "regular" job (which I suck at, but more on that later, too).  Second, I want to be able to help others.  It would be nice if I didn't have to worry whether or not I can pay my bills this month, but I would more so love to be able to do the same for my family.  It would be great to be able to help siblings buy a house for their growing families, or help with unpaid medical bills, or even just use the money to help alleviate some of the every-day stress of life.  And of course, I really want to spoil my nieces, nephews, and my own future children with awesome trips and substantial college funds.  ;)

Another reason I hope to make decent money is so that I can use it for the causes I feel are important.  I have fantasized as long as I can remember about writing a check for $1,000,000 to the American Cancer Society(I could write the check now, but it would bounce pretty high.)

The reason I want to make a donation to the ACS specifically is because cancer is something that has greatly affected my family.  We lost my Grandma Sylvia (maternal grandmother) to cancer back in 1997, and I miss her dearly, especially since I was too young to really know her as more than just grandma.  My Grandpa Bob (maternal grandfather) seems to always be getting some skin cancer removed.  My Grandpa Dick (paternal step-grandfather, who's always been more like a grandfather than my actual paternal grandfather, whom I haven't heard from in a decade) was diagnosed with throat cancer (kids, this is why smoking is bad) and my Grandma Millie (husband's maternal grandmother, whom is definitely one of my favorite people in the world) was diagnosed with cancer in several spots.  At one point, all three of the surviving aforementioned grandparents had cancer at the same time.  It hasn't always been easy, especially since we live so far away from two of them (Grandpa Dick is in AZ, Grandma Millie is in TX), but all three of them have kept positive spirits and good, strong faith.

Back in 2005, a friend of mine from theatre, Sam, passed away after a tough battle with cancer.  He was only 17, and one of those people you knew would've changed the world if he had been given a chance.  Even in just a short life, he affected so many people in such a powerful way.

I am a survivor myself.  When I was six years old, I was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer called germination cell cancer (sometimes also called stem cell cancer).  Doctors said that it only affects children, and on average only three children are diagnosed each year in the entire nation.  Of those three, usually only one survives more than a year.  This makes me, quite literally, one in a billion.  I'm 18 years cancer-free now, but there have been lasting long-term effects.  (For example, odds are that I will never be able to conceive my own children.  Odds will be improved with medical assistance, but still not a guarantee that it will happen.)  Now that I'm old enough to actually understand a lot of the medical side of the experience, I can't get any information- there's no sources on the Internet about it (probably because it is so rare of a diagnosis).  I emailed my main pediatrician a year ago, asking if there was a way I could get copies of the studies they did on me (the chemotherapy I underwent was experimental at the time- it's now commonly used and very successful, but since it wasn't FDA approved when I was treated, I am not allowed to ever donate blood or organs to another person, which makes me sad because if it weren't for blood donations, I would not have survived the surgery to remove the final bits of the tumor), but he replied back and said that most were lost in a fire that destroyed the storage building.

On a side note, though my experience, I have found it was far easier to be the cancer patient than to be the loved one of a cancer patient.  I think that is probably because when you're the patient, you feel like you have control, but when you're the loved one of a patient, you don't feel you have any control.  All you can do it support them and pray for the best outcome.

So there you have it, in a nutshell (well, a very long nutshell), my family's history with cancer.  I plan to write a memoir about it later this year (probably over the summer, after I finish a couple other projects, including a prequel to The Secret Room, which is available now for just $0.99) with details and the funny stories that accompanied the experiences (because there were good times in the bad).  I plan to donate a percentage of the profits to the ASC.  I know that the past can't be changed, but if a cure can be found, then maybe others will not have to endure the loss and hardships that my family and others have had to face.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

If I could stop sleeping, I would.

Sleep takes up a lot of time.  Eight hours a night, on average.  Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less.

Most nights, I tell myself I'm going to go to bed at a reasonable hour, only to end up staying awake reading until 3 or 4am.  This, typically, results in sleeping until 10am, at which point I kind of feel like I've wasted precious hours of the day.  I refuse to give up reading, because it's so magical- each night I get to go to a different place, some of them don't even actually exist in this reality, and experience things I don't get to do on an average day.  I love getting lost in a good book.  Hell, sometimes I love getting lost in a not-so-good book.

I plan to get up at a reasonable hour and write more before evening activities begin with the family, which will be around 4pm.  If I sleep until 10am, that'll only give me eight hours to write, get dressed, have lunch, take a shower, and do anything else that needs to be done.  Unacceptable.

A friend of mine, Kevin, has challenged himself to write a 50,000 word novel in a month.  He's on a roll so far- every day, he has been above his word count goal.  I'm proud of him, and I can't wait to read his manuscript.  Follow along with his progress: Watch Kevin write a book in a month and mock him if he fails.

I have a gift for writing fast.  In high school and college, I could churn out a five-page essay the night before it was due in just an hour or two and get an A.  When I sit down to write stories, I can easily do 500 words or more in an hour (which, if I work eight hours a day, would give me a total of 4,000 words a day), IF I take away distractions, such as:
-Text messages
-The strange desire I have to collect all the stars in Cut the Rope
-The cat
-My need to sing and dance to my favorite songs when they come up on shuffle

I figure I could probably write a novel in a month if I actually spent the time I intend for writing, writing.  So here's my resolution: from this point on, minimal distractions.  This means that when I'm writing, I'm going to keep my phone in another room where it won't be a temptation, and only play movie soundtracks quietly in the background instead of listening to other music or having a movie on in the background.  It also means that I am going to have to discipline myself to ONLY use the Internet for research on whatever I'm working on.

Okay, that's all I have for now.  I'm off to bed, so I won't sleep in so late.  After I read, but just one chapter... I promise, just one... unless it's a total cliffhanger.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Off To A Good Start, Now Just Have to Keep It Up

On the Anderson Cooper show today, Amanda Hocking was a guest.  I had never watched the show before, but I decided to tune in after I heard she was going to be on it.  She talked a lot about self-publishing, rejection, and determination to accomplish ones goals.  Her goal was to be published by the time she was 26 (the age when Stephen King was first published), and when traditional publishers rejected her more than 1,000 times (she claims), she took matters into her own hands and self-published through Amazon, just like I'm doing.

She mentioned about when her books were first up that she was selling one or two copies a day, which she says, in retrospect, is pretty good for a first-time author.  This gives me a lot of hope, because I've been selling an average of fifteen copies a day.  I'm worried it might be a fluke, that it'll slow down or stop altogether soon, but I'm enjoying it now and determined to keep it going and increasing.  I also know that there are a lot more Amazon Kindle owners now than there was a year and a half ago when Hocking first published her work, which is to my advantage.  I remember hearing somewhere that there were more than a million people who received Kindles for Christmas last month.

Hopefully, this isn't a fluke- Over the last three days, I kept hearing the phrase "the cream will rise to the top."  I hope I'm cream; I'm certainly pale enough to be.  ;)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Writer's Block! Writer's Block Everywhere!

My first post and I already have writer's block.  I have no idea what I'm going to write about on this blog, but I do know it is going to center around my writing, and I do know it will be chock-a-block full of helpful information I learn along the way.  (So if you're a newbie to the self-publishing world or want to soon be, follow along!  I'm not new to writing, but I am new to publishing.)

I'm brand spanking new in this self-publishing world, but so far I'm enjoying it.  Last Sunday, I published my first novelette on Amazon.com.  It's a supernatural thriller titled The Secret Room, about a man named Jimmy who moves into this old house and discovers a hidden room in the basement, along with the ghost host that lives inside of it.

After doing a lot of research and seeing that most new Kindle authors sell between 1-3 copies a day on average, I was expecting to sell ten copies or so this month, if any at all.  As soon as I published it, I enrolled in the Kindle Select program and put the novelette on a five-day free promo.  Over the five days, more than 1,700 people got my book!  I was amazed, and happily surprised that so many people wanted to read my novelette.  The free promo ended Friday night, and I was expecting my sales to dramatically drop- I was hoping for maybe one or two a day at best, especially since I'm still figuring out how and where to market it, but thus far, over three days, I've sold 60 copies!

Currently, I'm working on another thriller story.  My title (at least for now- I may change it) is "Reflections in the Window."  I may change it if I decide that it sounds too much like an old woman sitting in her house reminiscing of yesteryear as she looks out through the window and dreams of being young again, but the title goes well with a key point in the story.  I've done the outline, but I seem to have come to a hole in the story at the moment, so I'm trying to work out a couple of angles and get the kinks worked out.  I also have a feeling that once I have more than one piece of work available, it'll be easier to market the others.  We'll see, I guess.

• "Reflections in the Window" (as mentioned above)
• "The Secret Room: Beginnings" (a prequel to "The Secret Room" that details how Elias, the ghost host, got to be where he is)
• Zombie Apocalypse novel, as of yet untitled.  (I've been reading a lot of zombie fiction, and frankly, most of it is crap.  Once in a while I find a gem, but for the most part, it is poorly written material.)