Tag Archives: writing

Post Smoky Blues and Highs

So, back again! Been a while, hasn’t it?

Soooooo, I went to Smoky again. J If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out [this post] or [this one] from a review of a previous Smoky. If you don’t want to go to that lovely piece of my blog, I’ll paraphrase: 20-some writers of all shapes and kinds, cranking out words, eating delicious, homecooked food (courtesy of our two live-in chefs), and having a blast.

I miss everyone already, but that last day slammed me once I go home. See, in the prior two years of attending the Smoky Mountain Writers retreat, I would get home off of a high of cranking out thousands upon thousands of words, and think, “I’m going to continue working on this until it’s done and perfect and-

Grumpy-Cat-NO-1

My brain would shut down entirely. I would want to write, but have nothing pulling me to write. My mind was filled with ideas, but without motivation, I’d go nowhere. {See  [this post] on L.O.I. and my struggles with it.)

And nowhere was where I remained for months after each Smoky. First Smoky (2015) I cranked out about 28,000 words in the six days of the retreat. Second Smoky (2016 – Last Year): 36,000 words.  All new projects.

This year, my new project topped out at 31,000 by Saturday night. I was pleased with my work, even getting positive feedback from an awesome friend who has been supportive for the last month or so. (For those of you who don’t know what I mean by that, watch [this video] for the bombshell that broke me at the end of January.)

I won’t say much about this project, as I’m keeping it as hush-hush as I can. All I can promise is that it is amazing so far. In working on this project, I learned how to look back on the past and smile, without it dragging me down.

Most of this week post-Smoky, I’ve been singing and dancing everywhere, smile on my face (most of the time, anyway). I’ve gotten tons of weird looks at the grocery store and gas stations and while walking laps at work, but, for once in my life, I didn’t care.

I.

DIDN’T.

CARE.

A HUGE step in the right direction, I think. While the beginning of the year had been rough, I’m not going to let it squash my passion for writing and my confidence in this project.

Also, we do nightly readings at Smoky, where we can ask questions, but no criticisms, which creates a nice, positive atmosphere in which to share our crafted stories. Many of you will have heard of me talk about my mentors Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine (Authors of The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series; highly recommend). They were the ones that got me to my first Smoky, and they go every year too. It’s always fun to see them and laugh and have a good time, and my depression thanks all the Smokies for emotionally supporting me. It really helped, guys. It really did.

Anyway, Tee was in my last three reading groups of the retreat. That first reading, it was me, him, and KT. I did my reading second, and was terrified. Once I’d finished my 15 minutes (different from the standard 10, because our group was smaller than the others), Tee asked a question or two, and then told me that, compared to the readings I did last year, my writing was LOADS better, and he could see how much I’ve improved, to which, KT agreed. Once readings were over, I was headed to my room to call Boyfriend, when Tee got my attention and said, “Seriously, Christine, that was good. Keep it up.” As he thumbsed-up me and walked away, my heart pounded. I couldn’t believe that my mentor, idol, and role model had complimented me that strongly.

Fast forward to the final night’s reading. I finished reading a single chapter, and had 3 minutes left to read. Before I could continue, Tee interrupts and asks a question. I glanced at where I would be reading and told him, “I don’t think I’ll be able to get there in three minutes.” He laughed and urged me to finish. Once my turn was done, he said to me, “Your story… it kinda feels along the lines of Labrynth.”

Cue heart pounding out of my chest. For those of you that don’t know Tee and Pip, let me mention a little factoid: they LOVE David Bowie. Like, beyond comprehension. Tee comparing my story to a David Bowie movie just topped anything else on the retreat. I was on Cloud Nine all the way home… Until I remembered what my brain does after Smoky…

Grumpy-Cat-NO-1

… And started to silently panic.

Soon, I realized there was a simple way to combat the L.O.I. and lack of motivation: Forcing words out. I am now challenging myself to write 300+ words a day, and I’m keeping a record in an Excel Document (Curse my love of Excel). I’ve been doing okay, considering; I’ve written over 3k in the last four days. I’m also posting a daily #PostSWRLog update on my Twitter account to hold myself accountable. I’m still going to attempt words this weekend, but travelling for a short vacation might hinder that ability. I still will post #PostSWRLogs, but probably not a huge word count. That will change after that fun’s over.

Oh, and that project that Tee complimented me on?

*gestures for you to come in closer*

*whispers* It’s a secret.

Keep Faith, everyone. Stay tuned. This year is going to be a wild ride. 😀

Pre-Smoky Jitters

Greetings, Vikans!

So, Story #2 of The Chaos Accounts, titled “Account of Unrest”, released on February 16th (two Thursdays ago). Compared to its predecessor (“Account of Anxiety”), sales reactions responded weakly. “Account of Anxiety got 81 downloads in less than a month. My biggest download days were the first three days after release. With “Account of Unrest” having been out for over a week, I’ve only gottne three downloads.

THREE.

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However, I will NOT be deterred! In fact, I’ve come close to finishing up Story #3, and the only hint as to what happens that I’ll give at this time is that it’s from Luz’s POV.

Now, for the topic mentioned in the title: SMOKY!

Every year, a bunch of crazy, incredibly talented authors and their equally as amazing chefs, rent out a cabin in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee for a week. During this week in the majestic mountains, writing is our full-time job. Eight hours a day with lunch in the middle, for seven days. We get a “Free” day to explore the surrounding arear too, but I usually just get another day of wordsmithing in.

So, why does my title use the word “jitters”? If this is Year 3 for me, why so nervous?

Well… for a few reasons…

  1. My anxiety has been manically wild for over a month now, so I’m jittery enough at home in day-to-day life.
  2. This retreat is my safe haven. A place where I’m among people who are accepting and caring (and crazy, but we already mentioned that). The jitters will come from being away from home for a week after all the previously mentioned anxiety that’s cropped up recently. I know my fellow Smokies will be there to hold me up, but I don’t like the idea of burdening my friends with my problems.
  3. WILL I BE PREPARED?! Last year, I cranked out 36,000 words in 5/6 days. With everything worrisome in my brain space, will I be able to focus enough to crank out even a fraction of last years total word count?

To wrap up this worry-fest, I’ve been counting the weeks until Smoky for months. Now, with only days until we arrive in our “Valhalla” of a cabin, I’m starting to feel nervous. But, while I may have worries, Smoky is my safe haven, and all the people in that cabin are my writing family. They’ll be there to help guide me through all of this.

I’m so grateful I have them to get me through this. 🙂

TWO DAYS! Smoky, here I come!

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Looking to the Future: 2016 to 2017

So, Christmas is drawing nearer, as is the end of 2016. I’ve seen so many people who have labelled 2016 as the “Sucky” year. Celebrities dying, elections pulling people apart, so many people becoming violent or ending up a victim of violence. I hate the news lately, because all they do is fill me with terror.

scared-hiding

But, wait.

Why do I feel terrified?

  1. Is it election results?
  2. Death of a famous person or someone close to me?
  3. Christmas plans or moving process causing too much stress?
  4. None of the above.

If you picked (d), you are correct. Then, what is troubling me so?

Answer: What’s in store for my future?

That big question has been hanging over my head for a good number of weeks. If 2016 was as bad as it was, then what does 2017 hold for me? Well, here’s what I’ve decided to do. Below will be a few lists I’m making, both for my peace of mind, as well as for your information.

Stats for 2016 (before this posting on 12/19/2016)::

  • 1,181 views on this blog
  • 357 visitors to this blog
  • 19 Likes on Blog posts
  • 25 Followers on Twitter
  • 20 sold/freebie copies of The Protektor’s Reality in the hands of new readers
  • 13 free short stories downloaded (all off the iBookstore)
  • Only 2 new reviews on Amazon of The Protektor’s Reality
  • Only 1 patron on Patreon

Things that were horrible in 2016::

  • Mono (yes, the illness plagued me for most of the summer)
  • Having to see a cardiologist in my early 20’s
  • Losing a lot of weight, but gaining 2/3 of it back again…
  • Struggling physically from anxiety
  • Being so far away from my pucky doggies

Things that were good in 2016::

  • Smoky Mountain Writers retreat for another year, and cranked out 38,000 words in 6 days! (Love ya, guys! Can’t wait for February!)
  • My first Ravencon AS A WRITER GUEST/PANELIST!
  • I celebrated a year of being with my loving Boyfriend.
  • I started (and revamped) my Patreon page, in hopes of staying motivated.
  • Boyfriend and I took our first vacation together, went to Las Vegas and Arizona to see his Mom (Front row seats to KA, the Cirque de Soilel show!)
  • [Last week] Kicked off my new Youtube Channel, ChrissyTalks

Things I hope to accomplish in 2017::

  • Stay consistent with my blog
  • Upload to my Youtube Channel regularly
  • Try and gain more Patrons, reviews, and fans by ‘putting myself out there.’
  • Keep writing!
  • Ravencon as a Guest/Panelist AGAIN!
  • Exercise more and drink more water
  • Feel more confident in myself

So, here comes the biggest goal of all.

I WANT TO PUBLISH ANOTHER BOOK!

Unfortunately… I am so in debt that I cannot currently afford to publish one right now. I’m hoping, with ya’lls help, I can raise enough to publish this one, Children of Destiny, which would be the first book in my Trials of Terrara Vikos trilogy, the series that The Protektor’s Reality precedes. In this trilogy, about sixteen years have passed since The Protektor’s Reality, and Lucian has just made the difficult decision to bring his daughters back into the fray. Trouble is, neither of them know about the Realm, as Lucian sent them elsewhere to be protected. Now, with the girls getting slammed with their destinies so suddenly, the tension starts ratcheting up. The Seeker is close, and all the time spent trying to figure out the Seeker’s new identity is coming to a close. However, when the truth is revealed, how will they all decide to react?

I started writing my ToTV saga in 2011, starting with the trilogy (all of which are completed first drafts), with the short stories after, and the most recent being The Protektor’s Reality prequel, published in November 2014. (Two years, yikes!!)

So, I’m posting this here. This was originally supposed to be a surprise for patrons on my Patreon, but I’ll give you readers of my blog the scoop. When you pledge to my Patreon page (even just a dollar), the thank you note for becoming my Patron has a coupon code for Smashwords that will allow you to download The Protektor’s Reality for free in any digital form! How cool is that?!

Also, my first novella for The Chaos Accounts, titled “Accounts of Anxiety”, the saga which is what my Patreon is meant to influence, is well underway. I’m almost half-way through it, maybe just a tad under the halfway point. If you want more details on this writing adventure, or if you (maybe?) want to pledge to get that free ebook, I’m linking to my Patreon [here].

If you don’t have money to spare, DON’T PLEDGE! Like I said above, the debt struggle is real, and I am now twisted into it, so I understand lack of funds. If you can’t pledge, at least share links to my stories or this blog, so maybe the word-of-mouth technique might actually work. You know, hopefully. J

Also, if you are one of the few who has read The Protektor’s Reality from cover-to-cover, PLEASE (and I cannot stress this enough) LEAVE A REVIEW! Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Goodreads, or anywhere else. Reviews are the biggest gift I could be given this holiday.

Below this post is my first video on my new Youtube channel, ChrissyTalks. Oh, and since I know he’s been on this website already, shoutout to Chad at 2nd & Charles. I filmed, edited, and uploaded this below video last Thursday night when I returned home from that store. If you want to know the impact of that trip, watch the video below.

I wish everyone Merry Christmas. Stay safe on the roads, eat a lot of candy and sweets, and enjoy the joy the holidays bring.

Keep Faith, everybody.

Patreon, Take 2 (and other summaries)

BAD, BAD, BAD CHRISTINE!!!

Another 3 months have gone by, and not a single blog post.

I feel ashamed.

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HOWEVER! I have a number of reasons. To sum up, moved in with Boyfriend and his family, in process of fixing up and selling our old family home (my Mom’s actually the one in charge; Boyfriend and I are essentially on-call laborers), trying to remain sane as medical and business complications arise, and still trying to find time to write.

SO! Here’s what I’m going to do. I have revamped my Patreon page, so that it is focused on another project, and if a monthly payment rather than a per creation. I’ve tailored the rewards better this time, as well as setting reeeeeally overreaching goals that I hope all of you reading this will help me reach.

If you want to read about what encouraged me into Patreon, click here.

Although the payments, goals, and rewards have changed, the reasoning and logic are the same: KEEP WRITING.

By having people read my work and pledge, it reminds me that I have a talent. When I look around at all my author friends when on my Smoky retreat, I feel kind of intimidated. All of them have full-time lives, and still find time to write, research, and even downtime for games and stuff.

Me? I haven’t had that luxury. Between no sleep and other problems, the life from that first Patreon post [here again], is what has been the norm. And, as an added bonus, I’m in my early 20s, and now have a cardiologist.

Needless to be repeating what a ton of people are saying, 2016 ROYALLY SUCKED!

Now, here I am, hoping and praying for a better 2017. Here’s my basic list of things I will be doing to make my life better, personally, professionally, and authorly::

-Exercise 30 minutes, at least 3x a week (probably on workdays)
-Drink more water (helped me drop the weight before)
-Exercise more on weekends
-Eat healthier (meaning more whole grains and less simple sugars [cardiologist’s recommendations])
-Write at least 30 minutes a day (or at least attempt to)
-Promote better
-Get things organized at home
-Continue to get content to all my loyal readers and Patrons
-**Start a Youtube Channel, when I talk about my writing process, character details, read unedited chunks, show my sadistic side (in my writing, not in real life. Not sure if I needed to clarify, but wanted to make sure), or just be random me, or random me and my friends.**
-AND, ANNOUNCEMENT! I have been invited BACK to RAVENCON [link] in 2017!!! I CAN’T WAIT!!!!!

All that stuff and more is lined up for me in 2017, and I am starting to implement them into the last few weeks of 2016 too. Maybe then I can end my year happy. 🙂

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LINK to my Patreon is HERE, or on my “Contact Me” tab above. PLEASE consider supporting me, because with enough motivation, maybe I can turn my life completely around. 🙂

I will put updates on the status of that Youtube Channel as well.

And, as always, Keep Faith, everybody! ❤

Who Wants To Be My Patron?

*GASP*

OVER FOUR MONTHS!!

I’VE BEEN A BAD CHRISTINE.

You’ll have to forgive my overlooking of a COMMITMENT! Things have been crazy.

Here’s a quick little summary, because too much to go into too much detail::

-Ravencon: Was the most amazing experience in my life. Hoping to be invited back. Got my book (THE PROTEKTOR’S REALITY, in case you’re knew to my side of the Internet) into the hands of about 15 people. Met some reeeeeeally cool people, and got to talk writing and publishing stuff. Whether I come back as a guest or a participant, I will be going next year, and will have copies of my book to sign. Visit ravencon.com for details.

Vacation: Boyfriend and I went on a 9 day excursion to Las Vegas and Arizona. We got front row tickets to see KA at the MGM Grand, slots and roulette at a few different casinos, and kept a chip from every casino. Actually, our last day there, we literally went to a bunch of casinos, just to trade a dollar for a $1 chip for a little collection. Between Vegas and Arizona, I think we have about 16 poker chips. We also got to go to the Grand Canyon, and if you ever get a chance to visit, DO IT. It is an indescribable beauty and unbelievable until you go from up to the edge and scan the horizon and you realize, “This isn’t a dream. This was created by nature. Nature’s amazing.”

Mono: Yeah, you read that intro right. I got sick with Mono in the middle of June. No, I have not been cheating on Boyfriend. I’m certain I probably just got it from sharing a drink with a friend, or maybe a water fountain in Vegas. *shrug* who knows. Six weeks without exercise had me gain back a bit of those 40 pounds I lost, but I’ve lost it since beginning of August.

Day job: Day job is chaotic. No details, because, obviously, this is the internet, but things be going CRAY at work, and I’m overwhelmed beyond all reason. I’m getting through it okay, and actually being more productive there, but, when I come home, I crash because there wasn’t anything to do.

That’s about to change.

Writing has always been my best antidepressant for me. I just haven’t had any motivation to write anymore. In order to get motivated again, I’m taking this BIG, RISKY step, and I hope some of you reading this will assist in this venture. It’ll keep me writing, and keep Depression from eating me alive like it has been lately.

I’ve joined Patreon, a community of content creators who rely on Patrons (you guys who join) to pledge a certain amount in support, and, in return, Patrons get cool stuff, like exclusive content, Google Hangouts, Live chats, and even some physical goodies. It varies depending on the Creator. There were two options for frequency of pledge. Patreon advised that if you are putting out 4+ pieces a month, go for a monthly rate. For the time being, I’m only planning on 1-2 per month, so I have it set per creation.

I owe it to Peter Hollens for using the site and being an inspiration to me. His music and videos got me through a bunch of hard times, and, now, I’m taking that same big step forward by joining him in the Patreon community. Here’s his Patreon page [link], and also a link to his equally-as-awesome wife Evynne’s [link]. I’ll also link two of my friends from my Smoky’s retreat I take every year: Hugh [link] and Bryan [link]. Both of them are pretty awesome dudes, and are creating pretty cool stuff, so check them out too. 🙂

My creation is serialized fantasy stories. These are stories I barely started that I need motivation to write up. These stories are also perfect fodder for serialized fiction, because the ones I’m choosing… Never decided on an ending. So, these are indefinite stories (or “Human” stories, as I refer to them on my Patreon page), and I’m hoping I can get a good deal written on them. But I need motivation.

And I need you.

Yes, you, reading this right now.

I’d really appreciate the support from ANYONE. When you go to my Patreon page, at the very bottom of my description, I have a link to the first chapter of my first serial, titled “Truths of the Triangle”. It’s essentially a twist to the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle, involving magic, multiple worlds, and a race to save what’s left of the protagonist’s sanity. Right now, that first chapter is on my Google Drive account, but looking for ways to get it available for download. Just so you know though, downloadable versions will only be available on my Patron-only stream. All you need to do is pledge $1/chapter to get that access.

But… I think I’ll at least give ya’ll a lil’ snippet from that first chapter.

A little teaser, if you will::::

 

“They’re just so naïve, peaceful, no cares in the world. As if life’s all rainbows and sunshine.”

“You’re sounding like a demotivational poster right now. Should I call a doctor?”

A quick breath of a chuckle came from him. “You know what I mean.”

Kelli cocked her head. “I’m not sure I do. Everybody has bad things in their lives that bug them: drugs, alcohol, abuse, death. They just pretend everything’s fine to not bum out everyone else around them. In fact, the only thing bad that isn’t currently happening is World War Three.” She’d said it in jest, but the expression on his face said he hadn’t taken it as such.

The music continued to blast, but she heard his quiet, gentle words clear as day in her mind:

“That’s what you think.”

Kelli wanted to open her mouth to refute his annoying, avoiding response when he planted a long, forceful kiss right on her lips. It surprised her for a second or two, but she eventually fell victim to it, wrapping her arms around his neck and returning the gift. It just felt so right.

A loud boom from the front yard that shook the building broke them apart. They both looked at each other with wide-eyed, “What-The-Heck” glances. Then they heard the screaming, followed by huge plumes of smoke.

When a gunshot rang out, Kelli’s legs buckled. She hated that sound. Even in movie theaters, she always winced when someone shot a gun on screen. In real life, however, it was so much worse.

Help a girl out, please? 🙂 It would mean so much to me, plus keeps me out of the darkness that is Depression. Always a plus. And I’ve got some pretty cool rewards levels for Patrons. 🙂

Here’s the [LINK]. Adding it to my Contact Me tab here as well, if you want to find me everywhere else as well.

Have a good day, guys, and remember to KEEP FAITH! I know I will be. 😀

The Waiting Game: Take Two

Last time you saw the words “Waiting Game” here on my little slice of the Internet, it was to talk about waiting for news on a project and what to do to not stress. This is in the same vein, but more a story than an advice column.

Last time I attempted to publish a novel, I succeeded. It became what is titled The Protektor’s Reality, and I am so happy I finally got a published book. Waiting was the hardest part though. Not only for betas/edits, but covers, layout, the delay in instantaneously being able to throw your greatest achievement out into the throngs of people with confetti and flying money. Does matter if that waiting takes only 1 day or five months. Waiting is HARD.

For The Protektor’s Reality (hereby abbreviated “TPR”), I had a few edits I waited for over the course of five months. First one I sent out go it all back to me within a month. Luckily, she enjoyed it so much, she said she is always willing to read more. In fact, you’ll hear a bit more about her later (in relation to the reason for this post). The other edits weren’t so quick, but I eventually got them back. Waiting for those edits, even the one-monther, were absolutely nervewracking. At the time, I was still in school, so I could study and hang with friends while I waited.

That no longer applies.

Granted, I do have a full-time job now, which takes up a majority of my day. However, during down times at the office, my mind shoots back to what I am waiting on, if they’ll like it, if I’ll like what comes out of it, what that will mean for the future of my book, etc, etc, until I drive myself crazy and have to force myself to do the work that suddenly gets slammed on my plate.

I’ll lay it out, plain and simple.
Waiting.
Sucks.

We all have to do it, though. In fact, we all wait on a regular basis. For food to cook at home, or be prepared at a fast food establishment or restaurant.  For our favorite TV show to come back on after commercials. For the car in front of you to stop driving 30 in a 60 (on dry roads) and get their butt moving. For us to fall asleep at night.

Granted, a lot of these might frustrate various people. However, we writers aren’t only stressed by waiting, we are terrified. Why do you think that is?

Worry we won’t ever hear back.

Anxiety over our writing not being good enough to succeed.

Maybe fear over rejection or dislike.

Whatever our reasoning, as writers, we are terrified of waiting. Our work (or pieces related to it) seem to be in a state of unreachable limbo, and we feel so much fear it will never come out.

When I finally released TPR into the wild, a huge weight lifted off my chest. I breathed a sigh or relief, sunk into a comfy chair, let life start to go back to normal-stress levels. Soon after, though, came the big realization.

This wasn’t over.

If I wanted a future career as an author, one which I’d already started down with the launch on TPR, I would need to keep creating and publishing books.

With a wating game.

Every. Single. Time.

My stress shot through the roof. It wasn’t over. And, for us as authors and writers, it will never be over. But, that’s okay. Because, we are still doing what we love: creating stories, and sharing them with the world.

Currently? I’m in a waiting game again, and will probably be for a majority of 2016. I’ve sent off my betas, one of which being the one who read the TPR before its release. All my betas are reliable and have a considerable amount of willingness to make time to read, because they trust this will be a good read. Then, after that, I’ll make my personal edits as quick as I can, and send off to an editor. Then wait again. Once that’s back, make my final edits, send off stuff to layout and cover designers. Wait. Get all that back. Upload to self-publishing company. Wait. Receive proof on mail. Read and make sure everything turned out correctly. Hit Submit. Write another book. Send to betas.

Repeat.

It’s a neverending, vicous cycle of waiting in the author world, but, once we accept it as a part of our writing/publishing journey, it becomes easier.

What to do in that time frame?

Read this.

And, do what you do best.

Write.

 

Re-editing the Past

Lookie here! Posting after only a week! Woo!

I made a few commitments this new year, instead of resolutions, as inspired by my amazing mentor, Tee Morris (link). The idea is that we always believe that it’s okay for resolutions to fail, so,  when ours do, we shrug it off. Tee suggests instead making commitments, ones which we feel obligated to see through. One of mine is to blog more frequently.

Another is to get my next book published.

Yes, this is my earliest alert. It’s not certain yet (There will certainly be a blog post once I know definitely when it’s happening), but it’s my commitment to myself, so I will see this through to the best of my abilities.

One of the things I’ve always struggled with was editing my manuscripts. Writing the stories themselves comes easy. Tweaking it (or, in the case of wanting to be published, cutting out its heart with a spoon), is a much more daunting task. My novels are my babies, as many writers and authors out there can attest to. We put our heart and soul into creating these universes and characters and plots that always take a huge amount of love and care to create and maintain. But, then, in order to be the most competitive, we need to rip it to shreds, because, apparently, it’s not good enough as is.

At first, this was a hard thing for me to accept. When I started my journey into becoming an author almost twelve years ago, every bit of poetry/story I wrote was praised. Most couldn’t believe a middle school/high school student could write that well or that maturely. It built up my confidence in my writing abilities, one of the only things in my life I have confidence in.

The upsetting fact is that we are biased. When we write our first draft, we are blinded by this amazing world and in-depth, painfully-realistic characters we created all by ourselves. We have to come to the realization that, yes, this is a wonderful story, but is it the best for us, or the best for the story itself? It’s hard to come to terms with, because we can only see things from our own perspective, the one which created the story we fell in love bringing to life in text.

That’s when three things come in handy:

  1. Beta Readers

Beta readers are one of the best resources you could have. You can get help from people who you can trust will give you an unbiased review, with advice and tweaks in plot and flaws. The best part about these guys is the fact that they can look at it with fresh eyes. They have never met these characters before (or, in the case of a second or third book, never seen the situations they are about to), and can give a perspective of your prospective readers. You want your prospective readers to like it, right? take their advice then. Now, you don’t have to accept all their advice, but give their ideas and views a serious think-over before deciding on the edit.

2. Editors

They can be your best friend, or your mortal enemy. But, they have the best skills necessary to pound your precious baby into a strong, believable novel that will appeal to many (hopefully). That’s right, I’m talking about the cursed EDITOR.

Now, don’t get me wrong, some of my nicest friends are editors. But… They scare me! I’m terrified of editors, because you hear about the fatal pen all the time as a starting out writer. With all the marks of the Red Pen of Death, destroying everything you’ve poured a bit of yourself into. However, an editor just wants to make your work better. Their goal, believe it or not, is not to tear you, or your story, down. It’s just to help it be the best it can be. And, sadly, the best story it can be is not your first draft. Also, just like betas, you don’t have to accept every change they make. And, most will not be offended. In the end, you know what’s best for the story as a whole, but sometimes, it takes a skilled, outside opinion to gain a new perspective on the greatness your manuscript can become.

3. STEPPING AWAY!

This is the best advice I can give. When you are so blinded where you can read your story over and over again and see nothing wrong but a few missed commas or an capitalized T, you need to stand up and walk away for a while. My current project I’m editing, I haven’t touched since May of 2015. Back then, it had been five months since the last edit, and I apparently went to town on it. I didn’t even remember making immense edits on it until I opened the document this week to do more. In fact, the first chapter, the very FIRST paragraph, had things added that I hadn’t remembered even thinking of adding. The best part?

IT MADE IT BETTER!

And, if the prologue was made better after a five month break between December 2014 and May 2015, imagine how much I can make my story better after an eight month hiatus. In fact, just this week, my word count has been fluctuating, and I’ve been tweaking and editing, because, while I still love my characters and the universe I’ve created, I am not blinded by the stadium lights of a deviously tricky first draft.

My goal is to publish the best story my novel can be. In order to achieve that, I need to edit. We ALL need to edit. In the end, our opinions don’t really matter. Our readers do.

And, no matter how many edits we make…

The story will still speak for itself.

New Years – A Reflection on Life

New Year, new start, right? At the start of every year, all of us look forward to another year where nothing is impossible. Lose that twenty pounds, get that promotion, write that book you’ve been putting off for years, or go on that cross-country trip you’ve always dreamed of. There are a bunch of people I know (me included) that had a big change in their life in 2015. Babies entered some friends’ lives. Some people married their soulmates. Others started new jobs (example, me), big moves, new houses, new cars (example, me [again]), etc, etc.

No matter what did or didn’t happen in 2015, the biggest thing you can say is: I survived 2015. Lots of people can’t say that. Death got personal for me last year, with one of my grandfathers passing away from cancer (as I’ve heard my mentor say a bunch of times, “F–k Cancer”).  He was an amazing guy, and he went out the way he would have wanted, and that’s all that matters to me.

I guarantee lots of you lost loved ones this past year. My heart goes out to all of you, as I have felt that pang a few times in my life, and each time brought me to tears for months to years. It’s hard, looking to the new year without those wonderful people in our lives. Every passing moment stabs our hearts, and it literally hurts.

Here’s a little secret though. Come closer.

Closer…

*whispers* It gets better.

Yep, it does. Does that mean it will get to a point where you will feel nothing? No, unfortunately, the human race has not developed the technology to put your memory into an unfeeling, superhuman automaton with wifi in the head and a feeling suppressor where your heart should be. Sorry, I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. Or, ever, if we’re lucky.

Feeling sadness or depression can be seen as a bad thing, and, to be honest, it is. As someone who’s suffered depression in the past, it’s hard. You shrink away from people, trying to hide the sadness and anxiety in your heart. Wanting someone to listen but not willing to talk about it. Biting back tears when looking at your bank account, your sick sibling/parent, or even just a simple picture.

But, the fact of the matter is, YOU’RE FEELING. Being able to feel is an amazing gift. It allows you to express what you like/don’t like about a situation, and to let others know what you think about something. Feeling is just feeling; there’s no other way to describe it, really. But, it’s amazing when you think about it. It’s something we take for granted.

For instance, I’m worried about an upcoming project of mine (more news in the distant future). That alerts me to plan things out, and have a backup plan should things not turn out right. It also tells me to keep going, so I can prove to myself that I was worried about nothing.

I’m scared of change. This informs me that when change happens, I need to fight back against the fear and take every hit, because, usually, it’ll be worth it in the end.

I’m happy I have a loving family, and a caring, awesome group of close friends. Without them, I wouldn’t have gotten this far in my work career, my writing career, or life in general. Feeling that happiness makes me feel warm and fuzzy and lets me know that not everything sucks.

And I’m upset about death. However, it’s a fact of life. We all will die in the end. If you need advice on how to handle death and your impending demise, consult the Adam Ruins Everything finale. Just a warning, the end is depressing (if you couldn’t guess that already by the topic).

But that doesn’t mean that everything about death is horrible. You have to look at it a different way. Sure, the physical body of the person you love is buried in the ground, but now you have a guardian angel looking out for you. Sure, they can’t affect anything on this plane of being anymore, but the things they did do in our existence left a mark on the lives of so many other people on this Earth. They can’t verbally speak to you anymore, but they live on inside you, in your memories, in your words, in your actions. We choose to focus on their death, because it’s seems easiest to do. But, that hurts you in the end. Don’t focus on their death; focus on their LIFE. The bonds they created that even death cannot break. The changes they made in their own life that affected others in a positive way. The lives they altered, simply by existing and interacting with the world. Their childhood, their schooling, their careers, their family, their friends. At some point in our lives, we made a mark on someone else’s existence, and that’s what we should focus on.

To tell the truth, I would not be on this blog, writing this post right now, if someone in my life hadn’t died. In fact, I wouldn’t be a writer at all. My uncle, while only an active part of my childhood for a year of my elementary school journey, passed away. I was eleven. He was forty.

He was supposed to die at eighteen.197952_1002567381076_3062_n

He was blind, but a genius. He worked as an engineer as an adult, even without being able to see. He had a loving family, who he chose to spend the last year of his life with. He didn’t let his illness or incapacities stop him from achieving his dreams. When he died, I took on that mantra. The night of his death, I wrote my first poem that wasn’t a school assignment. My mother read it – all three pages – and told me I should be a writer.

Almost twelve years later, I have published a novel – dedicated to him, as you’ll see if you picked it up on Amazon -, finished almost ten manuscripts, graduated college a semester early, got an amazing job three months after graduating, and have big plans for the next several years in the career that his death inspired me to take on. I learned to look at the life he had on this earth, not the fact he was gone. Because, I guess, he’s living on inside of me, pushing me to keep going when things get tough.

So, to 2016, I am going to keep pushing forward. No matter what you might throw at me, I will look at my book, my manuscripts, or that poem I wrote twelve years ago – which my mother has made hundreds of copies of throughout the years – and remember why I’m doing this.

Twenty-sixteen:

Bring.

It.

On.

Social Media From a Dummy

(This is in honor of the release of Social Media For Writers, a self-help book by Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine, now available on Amazon (click title above for hyperlink)(cover to the left)

Social Media hurts my head. Most of the functions are easy, and, if you don’t understand them, a plethora of resources are at your fingertips. Easy enough, right?

For me?

No.

It’s not due to the difficulty level; I understand how most work just fine. It’s on a more personal level. I’m the type of person who cares too much about what people think of me. When contemplating a response, if there is even the slightest chance someone might not like it, I usually don’t do it. It’s because of this that I seem antisocial or shy most of the time. I spend too much time debating on the perfect response, only for everybody to have moved on to something else.

I need to change that.

Just because I may seem weird, off, or offensive during one second doesn’t mean the seconds after will remain the same. Now, that doesn’t mean blurting out the first thing that comes to mind. Experience has proven to a multitude of people that that strategy fails quite frequently. But, the truth it, I shouldn’t be afraid to be myself.

As of today, I am going to make an effort to put myself out there more. This includes social media. I’ve had a Twitter account for a while, but rarely tweeted. I’ve had this blog/website for two years, and rarely posted. My LinkedIn hasn’t been touched in almost a year, while my Tumblr hasn’t been used in so long that I can’t even remember what my username is. (Note: Tumblr is one of the few that confuse me.) And, while my personal Facebook thrives, my author page has sat on lockdown for months.

NO MORE!!!

I will make my author page on Facebook live sometime tonight. This blog post marks the second in 24 hours. Twitter will be picking up speed in the next week or two (you know, hopefully). LinkedIn and Tumblr will probably stay static for a few more months until I get the hang of this whole “Be-Yourself” strategy.

Below are the links and details to my various social media accounts. I am including this website, just in case someone can’t read the URL box above.

***FYI- BIG NEWS: COMING SOON***

Website/Blog: http://terraravikos.com

Twitter/Periscope: @discoverywritin

FB Author Page

Email: terraravikos@gmail.com

E-Newsletter Sign-Up Form

I am also looking for people that might want to host me on their own blogs sometime in the December/January time frame, after I’ve announced my “Big News”. If you might be interested, shoot me an email or contact me through my FB page or Twitter handle.

Until later, Keep Faith, everyone!

Journey of Legends: The 2015 MoPO Kickstarts

WOW! What a month it’s been!

Wait…. You say I haven’t posted in over a month? How long? About six months? Yikes. Sorry about that, readers. I have no other excuse for that other than big plans for the future have taken up most of my time. That, and the day job, and having to take on the responsibilities of an adult. (Why must I adult? Can I not adult today? No? Okay then.)

Those big plans will have an announcement of their own in the near future, once details have been finalized. But, I guarantee you, they are BIG. At least for me. 🙂 I’m planning on writing on here more frequently, but don’t hold me to it. I may have a sprained wrist from all the typing I’ll be doing soon.

The AMAZING journalists

Anyway, this post isn’t about me. It’s about two writers, with a hope, a dream, and a Kickstarter. These two writers are Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine. They are not only my friends and mentors, but also my role models and idols. (Lucky me, huh?) They initiated a Kickstarter in the hopes of self-publishing book 5 in their popular Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, titled The Ghost Rebellion. While I have loved their writing pre-Ministry, the MoPO series has always had a close place in my heart. I love the characters (the main characters are my favorites. Wellington, because I think he’s cute when he’s nervous. and Eliza, because she’s a fiery loose cannon who doesn’t care what others think [a trait I wish I had]. Just my opinion though), I love the intricate plots, and I love the firepower (explosions, gun fights, advanced cars that certain characters underestimate at first *coughcough*Eliza*coughcough*). The storylines are so well written and had me hooked during that first scene in Phoenix Rising, with my chills mirroring the ones the characters were having in that cold tundra.

Their Kickstarter was mainly made with the just the 5th book as their main goal. They had stretch goals that included special models for covers, publishing the SIXTH book, AND a deviously inappropriate novella entitled Countless Hues of Crimson, which has connections to the main series, but I am sworn to secrecy as to the details (Not really; I only know how it connects, and pretty much anyone connected to MoPO knows that). I told them from Day One: “You will make it to that last goal. I don’t doubt it for a second.”

They said: “We’ll see.”

Anyway, the Kickstarter started out strong. They had bursts here and there, with some weekends gaining upwards of a couple grand between Fridays to Sundays. They actually reached their initial $6000 goal, which ensured the publication of The Ghost Rebellion.

I said: “See? You got that far that quick! I am positive you’ll reach that last goal!”

Them: “We’re going to be cautiously excited. You can be overly excited for us.”

As the Kickstarter progressed, they reached their first Stretch goal, to get specific cover models for TGR, very soon after.

Me: “I KNOW for a FACT you will get that ultimate end goal.”

Them: “We might, but we’re not going to get too excited. I looks like it may be a possibility though.”

Last Sunday, they reached their next stretch goal, which, my friends, was to be able to publish the SIXTH and FINAL book in the MoPO series, OPERATION: ENDGAME!!! It wasn’t until then that the Ministry ‘journalists’ started getting excited. Via Periscope, they uncorked champagne, made a fire pit, and lamented the lack of marshmallows. They started talking about Countless Hues of Crimson, with vague, interest-peaking details coming to light. That goal would become reality at $20,000, a full 5 Grand from their Operation: Endgame goal.

Me: “You still have a week for that last goal. I know you’ll get there. 100% positive!!”

Them: “Operation: Endgame is a definite. We don’t know if we’ll get to CHoC, but at least we have that. It’s definitely a nail-biter though.”

……

Can you imagine my eyeroll of disbelief? I have told them for YEARS how big the Ministry was. You’d think they’d know by now, but they still doubted their abilities to write an unbelievable story full of twists, turns, and the adventures of two unlikely agents. Remember, I told them from DAY ONE that they had enough support that they could do this and THEY STILL DOUBTED!!

Guess what?

Yesterday afternoon, I get a chat message from Tee:

“And $20k.”

“And 5 hours to go.”

“You told me so.”

Followed by an appropriate GIF.

I have not let him forget it in the last 24 hours. It’s actually kinda fun, and though I know it annoys him, I do it for a reason. I want him to remember this amazing, unbelievable victory whenever he doubts his writing. I want him to remember earning over 21k in 30 days using nothing but the power of the MoPO fans and the epicness that is the internet and social media.

As Lucian would tell him, “Keep Faith.” All he has to do is keep faith and know that what he does has made a difference in not only his life, but has made an impact in the lives of many others, as seen by the results of this journey.

It’s been a wild ride, and it’s only going to get wilder.

To Eliza and Wellington, I can’t wait to see the end of this adventure.

To Tee and Pip, congrats on such a sweet-tasting victory.

Oh, and  I told you so. 😉

MoPO 2015 Kickstarter Victory v3