Four Eyes

So, I have a lot of things I could be spending money on right now. 

1. New contacts.  I am a big believer in using a product as long as humanly possible.  That means I haven’t bought a new box of contacts in about a year.  This is also very unhealthy for my eyes.  Unfortunately, contacts are expensive. 

2. Better Microsoft Word software.  I’m stuck in the dark ages of Word 2003.  I need at least 2007 in order to convert my manuscript to a PDF.  

3.  ISBN, bar code, copyright, etc…

4.  New clothes that actually make me look like I’m 25 and not 17.  

5.  Leave-In conditioner for my haystack-dry hair.  

6.  Actual food and not a bunch of $2 microwave meals.

7.  Medicine for my sore throat.  

That’s just to name a few.  Let’s face it.  Life would be so much easier if we all had money.  I’ve always found that weird, especially since theoretically, money only has value because we as a community believe it has value.  A $20 bill is really just a piece of paper.  

I’m going to stop right there, because I’m not writing this to go on some philosophical rant about the merit of the dollar.  I’m writing it because I have a lot of things I will be investing in in the following weeks.  I’ve already invested a lot of time and a little bit of money (for the website domain, printing off manuscripts, etc…) in my book and in my publishing company.  With all that in mind, I realize I might have to sacrifice a few things.  Contacts for example.  

I have terrible eyesight.  I’ve worn glasses since first grade, when my teacher discovered that I couldn’t see what she’d written on the blackboard.  She would write down math problems on the board and we were all supposed to copy them down on our own little individual chalkboards, solve them, and then hold them up once they were finished.  Well, I answered all my equations correctly, I just didn’t get the problems right.  

Anyway, I grew up as a four-eyed little geek with frizzy hair, freckles, braces, you name it.  Once I got contacts in high school, I started wearing them all the time.  It got to the point where I would only wear my glasses if I was sick.  Essentially, contacts = cute, glasses = not even trying.  That mentality stayed with me throughout college and into adulthood.  

I had planned on going to buy new contacts after work this afternoon.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that that’s $70 I could put to what I really want in life, and that is to publish my book.  I have glasses that work just fine.  I technically don’t need contacts.  

One of my problems is whenever I have money, I tend to spend it on things I enjoy rather than practical things.  Going to the movies, for instance.  I’d so much rather go see a movie or take a day trip somewhere than buy new clothes.  The clothes I already have fit me just fine.  Why should I buy something new when I can wear what I already have?  I think that particular way of thinking stems from my high school experience.  I went to private school, so I always wore uniforms.  By the time I got to college, clothes just really didn’t mean a lot to me.  Still don’t.  The problem with all of that is… I still dress like I did in college.  

Alright, I’m not so sure if I’ve made the point I set out to make or not.  I think it was that no matter what you do in life, you’re going to have to set priorities and make sacrifices in order to get there.  Sacrificing the luxury of contacts isn’t really all that much, but I do feel a lot frumpier and less secure when I don’t wear them.  I hate to say it, but people are a lot nicer to me when I wear my contacts and a little touch of make-up than when it’s just me and my glasses.  

So yeah, this doesn’t really have all that much to do with writing or publishing.  It’s just something that’s been on my mind.  

 

Good Weekend!

One of my goals in life is to make every day either good, fun, productive, or a combination of all three.  This weekend was just that.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but in college, I spent three years as a lifeguard and camp counselor at a summer camp at Lake Texoma.  On Friday, I got to drive up to visit.  It was so great to see my friends, former campers, and all the year-round staff.  I miss all of them so much.  It was also wonderful to be back in an area that is so near and dear to my heart.  I love everything about Texoma, from the smell of the trees, to the herons on the lake, to the clear sky at night.

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The new Chapel on campus. It is simply beautiful.

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Creepy abandoned cabin in the woods. This scene has provided me with a lot of inspiration over the years.

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I love the lake at dusk.

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Our Labyrinth.

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Although being at camp was probably the highlight of the weekend, I also FINALLY got to see Monsters University today.  It was super cute, everything I hoped it would be.  I love Monsters, Inc. so I was really excited when I heard they were making a prequel.  Mike and Sully are just the best.

The most exciting news, however, is that I purchased my website domain for my publishing company today!  I am proud to announce that Wind Trail Publishing is (almost) officially in business!  My friend and graphic designer is currently helping me out with a logo that I sketched out.  I can draw, but boy, am I dumb at things like computer graphics.  I’m meeting with him and his wife tomorrow to discuss not only the logo, but the cover designs for the book that I have been working on.  I am not lying when I say I have the most amazing team of people who are willing to help me out.  I am really very fortunate to have all of them.  As always, I will keep you updated as I continue on this crazy road called publishing.

Divergent

This week, I finished reading the first two books in the Divergent series by Veronica Roth.  Since I love telling people how I feel about things, I thought I might write a little review.

I’ll be the first one to say that I suck at writing reviews.  On the one hand, I love giving my opinion, whether people want to know what I think or not.  But on the other hand, I am really, really bad at analyzing things.  When my sister read the seventh Harry Potter book, she saw a whole bunch of World War II parallels.  I saw Harry and Voldemort.  I made it through college and grad school, not by my ability to analyze, but my ability to BS a good term paper.  So I guess instead of a term paper, I will now be BSing a good review.

I hadn’t heard of Divergent until a few weeks ago.  I was out to dinner with one of my best friends, Kat, and we got to talking about books.  She and I are both huge Hunger Games fans, though for some reason she thinks Katniss should have ended up with Gale.  Um… how are we friends again?  Anyway, she said that since I loved The Hunger Games so much, I needed to read Divergent.  It was not optional.  I had to read this book.  Now, I’ve had a million people tell me I should read this or that, but to be honest, I rarely check out any books or movies solely on someone’s recommendation.  It’s nothing personal.  It’s just that I like making my own decisions and I will usually not do something that someone tells me I should do unless I really, really want to.  I can’t even count the number of times I’ve had someone tell me I should read Ender’s Game.  Unfortunately, my sister read the book and absolutely hated it.  She and I usually have pretty similar taste in books, so I trust her opinion.  That, and I saw the preview for the movie and, I’m sorry, it looks so boring.

But back to Divergent.  I promise not to post any spoilers.  I’m not an experienced enough reviewer for that.

Kat was a lot more vehement that I read it than most of my other friends have been when recommending a book to me, so I was seriously considering it.  Then, totally out of the blue, someone on my Facebook page posted about how she’d just read the first two Divergent books and couldn’t believe she had to wait until October to read the third.  That’s when I decided I needed to check it out.

I am glad that I did!

Divergent was a fantastic book.  Although it’s over 400 pages long, it was a very fast read.  It’s written in first person, which I like but for some reason, have a lot of trouble writing.  I’m a third person limited kind of girl.  Anyway, the main character is named Beatrice Prior and she lives in a city that is divided into factions.  You choose your faction based on what you value most; honesty, bravery, etc…  I can’t go into a lot of the plot without giving away spoilers that are more fun to read in the book than on someone’s blog, so I’ll just say, yes, it really did remind me of a cross between The Hunger Games and The Giver.  If you enjoyed either, you should definitely read Divergent.  It drew me in, entertained me, and best of all, it kept me interested.  I will admit that I wasn’t as emotionally invested in the characters as I was in The Hunger Games or Harry Potter, but I do like them.  I love the main guy, Four.  He’s complex, brave, and in my head, really handsome.  The guy playing him in the movie is pretty handsome too, but he’s not how I envisioned him.  Movie portrayals rarely are, however.

It took me a little longer to get into the second book, Insurgent.  I finished Divergent in two nights.  I could barely put it down.  The first half of Insurgent was easier to put down, but the last half was more than worth it and it left me eagerly anticipating the arrival of the third book this autumn.

Something else I loved about the first book was that author Veronica Roth included a question and answer session in the back.  I loved reading about how she came up with the idea for the series.  Heck, I love hearing about how all writers come up with their ideas.  The creative process is so fascinating and I love the way different things inspire different people.

The next book I have on my list to read is Beautiful Creatures.  Hopefully, I’ll get around to that in the next couple of days, but I am still hard at work putting the finishing touches on my own manuscript.  I have a few tentative cover designs that I’ve been playing around with and today, I’m going to try to work on my acknowledgements, author bio, etc…

I really believe that reading other books is excellent for the writing/publishing process.  It’s good not only to give your mind a break, but also to remind yourself that millions of other authors have been there, and they’ve made it happen.  It’s really encouraging.

Things I Now Know About Star Trek

As I mentioned in my last entry, I saw my first Star Trek movie today.  In fact, it was my first Star Trek anything, unless you count references in shows such as Frasier and The Big Bang Theory.  I am delighted to report that I genuinely enjoyed the movie (and no, not just because Chris Pine and Benedict Cumberbatch are the hottest men to ever don space suits).  There are also several things I learned, not only about the world of Star Trek, but also (pause for dramatic emphasis) myself.  I’d like to share my new vast knowledge of the universe with you.

Note #1: I am a nerd, but I am a different kind of nerd.  I like Harry Potter and Tolkien and Disney and Sherlock.  Basically, I like nerdy things on Earth.  I am not a sci-fi/outer space nerd at all, so this was a pretty new experience for me.  I am also a girl, and I experience the world around me from a very estrogen-fueled perspective (Read: I went to Star Trek and fawned over hot guys).

Note #2: This should not contain spoilers.  I’m pretty sure it’s all common knowledge.  If you are wary, however, continue with caution.

1) Earth still exists in the Star Trek universe.

2) Zachary Quinto’s voice is like warm, melted chocolate to the ears.  I could listen to him and Benedict talk all day.

3) Klingon is not, as I had previously thought, the universal language in Star Trek.  It’s actually a race of creepy aliens.  But they do speak Klingon.  Apparently, they are also the bad guys, so I’m not sure why the guys on The Big Bang Theory were playing Klingon Boggle.  But oh well.  It was hilarious.

4) Thanks to shows like Frasier and The Big Bang Theory I simply cannot take Klingon seriously.  I giggled every single time anyone mentioned or spoke in Klingon.

5) Spock and Uhura are the cutest couple in the galaxy.  When my sister first told me that Spock had a girlfriend, I had a really hard time believing it, but they are seriously adorable.  I kind of wish the movie had been more them and less space fighting stuff.  Maybe they can write a Star Trek for girls where it’s just Spock and Uhura being cute and Kirk (the Chris Pine Kirk, not the William Shatner Kirk) running around being hot with his blue eyes and sexy smirk.

6) Alcatraz apparently still exists in however far into the future this movie is set.

7) Part of the reason I’ve never been a fan of space/sci-fi movies is because the setting makes me uncomfortable.  Not space, per se, but the high-tech space city type things.  Thanks to Star Trek, I finally figured out why I always feel uneasy when I watch them.  It’s because there is no ground!  I don’t trust any building or city or establishment where I can’t see the ground!  What happens if you fall off the sidewalk?  You die!

8) Another reason I tend to avoid space movies is because of all the creepy aliens.  I really enjoy alien invasion movies, but for some reason, aliens walking around, dressed, and conversing with people like it’s an everyday occurrence really freaks me out.  It’s the same reason I’ve never made it all the way through the original Star Wars trilogy.

9) Young Spock talking to Old Spock is, for some reason, genuinely hilarious.

10) Seeing chaos on the Enterprise reminded me of Titanic.

11) I now know where the phrase, “Beam me up, Scotty” comes from.  I don’t know where I thought it came from, but for some reason, it never registered with me that it came from Star Trek.

12) I liked all the minor characters a lot.

13) I thought it was funny that Sulu was Harold from Harold and Kumar.  I thought it was even funnier when my sister told me that he grows up to be George Takei.  But that’s probably because I’ve only ever seen him in The Big Bang Theory and he was freakin’ hilarious in that.

14) I’m pretty sure that Jim Parsons based his performance of Sheldon Cooper on Spock.

15) I thought I would laugh when Spock made his little Vulcan hand sign, but it was actually during a very sweet, sentimental moment and it was very touching.

All in all, this was a very good movie.  I understood and enjoyed it, even without having seen the first movie or any of the television series.  Though I think being a huge Big Bang Theory fanatic may have helped.

Staying Positive!

Positive is good!  Positive is healthy!  I am staying so positive that I added an exclamation mark in my title! 

In all seriousness though, amidst all the work and time and stress and energy that goes into trying to get a publishing venue up and going, I have made staying optimistic a priority.  It really needs to be.  You’ve got to really, really, and I mean really love what you are doing if you want to make self-publishing work.  You might even have to be a little delusional, too.  But then, that sort of comes with the whole writer territory thing.  We do run around with about ten different plot lines in our heads on a daily basis. 

Last night, I was feeling a little discouraged.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been working at this for so long (I’ve been working on this one particular manuscript for over a year now; the story has been in my head for at least three years) and I’m really, really ready to see results.  I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a patient person.  I don’t like waiting for anything.  Unfortunately, this job requires a lot of patience, a lot of perseverance, and a lot of willingness to sit and work and work and work without a lot of tangible or visible progress (for the moment).  I have finally reached the point where I’m going to begin formatting my manuscript for publication, but there’s still so much more to do.  When you’ve worked at something for so long, it is really easy to get discouraged, to start to wonder if it’s all worth it, and to start feeling sorry for yourself.  That’s an especially big one for me, because I feel sorry for myself a lot.  Self-Pity Party of One, right here.  

The thing I need to remember is that nothing worth doing is ever easy.  (I’m sure I’ve written that on here before).  Everything takes time.  I want this book to be the best it can be.  I want it to be big house publishing quality.  That means I’ve got to make the effort.  I also need to remember that it’s either make the effort and take the time, or don’t publish at all.  That’s not an option for me, so the only thing to do is to suck it up, accept that it’s going to take time, and keep going.  

It’s pretty easy (and often tempting) to think about giving up.  But whenever I do, I know in the back of my mind that I will keep writing, no matter what.  It’s what I enjoy.  It’s what I do.  I’ve written for fun my entire life.  Last night, I was working on the sequel to my manuscript, and I realized I am about a page away from writing a scene that I’ve had in my head for almost two years now.  I love this scene and I’ve really been looking forward to writing it.  Heck, I’ve been looking forward to writing the whole book!  

Well, that’s about it on the publishing front for now.  In other news, my sister and I are going to go see Star Trek later.  I have actually never seen any of the Star Trek franchise.  All I know is that Sheldon Cooper loves Spock and that Benedict Cumberbatch is the villain (mmm… gotta love a bad boy!).  My sister really enjoyed the first one though, so I’m looking forward to it!  I also bought two new books today; Divergent by Veronica Roth and Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  I’ve heard really good things about both series and I’ve been wanting to read them both for a while now.  Hopefully I’ll have time this weekend! 

Things I Have Learned About Self-Publishing So Far

1.  No matter how many times you and others have edited your manuscript, you need to go back and edit again.  I can’t even tell you how many mistakes I’m STILL finding!  For example, I wrote “bus” instead of “but.” 

2.  Commas are hard.

3.  Research is literally going to become your best friend.  Be prepared to spend a lot of time at the library!  Of course, as an author, you should do that anyway.

4.  It really pays to know someone who not only knows business, but also has a genuine interest in it.

5.  You are not supposed to present yourself as a “self” publisher.  You are a publisher.  Your publishing career is separate from your writing career.

6.  Trying to be a writer and a publisher and a designer and a businessperson all at the same time is really stressful.

7.  I am poor. 

8.  I think I’m about to get a lot poorer. 

9.  I now know what an International Standard Book Number is. 

10.  There are a lot of options out there for self-publishing, vanity-publishing, and print-on-demand.  I’m still not one hundred percent certain which company I’m going to use.  I think I’ve narrowed it down to two, however.  

11.  When reading through your manuscript AGAIN, make sure you don’t have anything that will make a person or a company want to sue you.  I realized that I slam a certain energy supplement (that is known to cause heart problems, by the way) quite a lot in my manuscript, so I’ll probably go back and change the name to something generic.  Better safe than served.   

12.  The whole process can get really overwhelming and intimidating, so pace yourself, set daily and weekly goals, realize that you do not have to get everything done in one day, and most importantly, have someone who loves you there to cheer you on and reassure you and, if you’re lucky, help you.  

I’m still pretty early on in my journey, but I’m still moving forward.  There have been times when I’ve begun to question if what I’m doing is worth it, but I know that I’d regret it forever if I didn’t see this through to the end.  I’ve come too far and dreamed of this for too long to stop now.  It’s a lot more work than I expected it to be, but nothing worth doing is easy.  

 

 

 

My Purple Gorilla

One of my favorite shows on television is “Duck Dynasty.”

Before you laugh at me, let me say that I thought it was ridiculous before I started watching it.  My entire family was obsessed with it and I had no idea why.  These were a bunch of bearded weirdos running around and shooting things who just happened to have made a lot of money making duck calls.  Why would I want to watch that?

Well, after actually sitting down and watching an episode, I figured out why.  The show is not only laugh-out-loud hilarious, but warm, heartfelt, and endearing.  You can’t help but love the Robertson family, from sweet Miss Kay, the grandmother everyone wishes they had, to Jase, the smart-ass older brother with an all-play and no-work attitude, to crazy Uncle Si and his beloved tea glass.

In one episode, Si becomes determined to win a giant purple gorilla from a kids pizza place.  Willie, the ever suffering CEO and loveable butt of every joke on the entire show, insists that it’s impossible, that Si will never win that stupid gorilla, and that he’s just wasting time.  Si accepts the challenge, goes on to win 5000 tickets, and walks out of the pizza place holding his beloved gorilla.

Si explains to viewers that he set his mind to it, he visualized himself with that gorilla, and he did it.  Work hard, believe you’ve got what it takes, and there’s nothing you can’t do.

My purple gorilla is going to be the road I take to self-publishing.  I have every confidence in my ability as a writer, but as a business person?  You’re probably better off putting your faith in a giant stuffed gorilla.  Business just doesn’t work in my head.  It’s just like Calculus, taxes, and ancient Chinese.  I look at it… and it just looks like strange marks on a piece of paper.

It’s not uncommon for the right-brained creative person to completely suck at something as left-brained as the fine-workings of business.  In fact, I think it’s pretty much the norm.  The idea of business-type stuff makes my head spin.  It forms a pile of confusing clutter in my already messy brain.

However, this is not the first time I’ve felt this way.  The first time I ever felt that sense of, “Oh my God, I’m so dumb and I’ll never get anything done and I’m going to fail and then I’ll be a loser forever,” was last year, during my final semester of graduate school.  I was in a class that focused on the objectivity and subjectivity of documentaries.  I signed up for the class thinking I’d get to watch a lot of documentaries and learn a lot of cool new stuff.  Nope.  This class was boring as all hell.  We were assigned to read the most useless of all academic articles (which are pretty useless to begin with, in my humble opinion – seriously, if you want someone to learn and appreciate what you’re writing, you have to make it interesting, but that’s a whole other blog post), and to top it all off, the documentaries we watched were about as awesome as a dried piece of fruit.

At the end of the class, we were supposed to come up with an original argument about the meanings and implications and is-it-subjective-or-objective and a lot of other stuff that just made me feel really dumb (graduate school will do that to you) and write a 15-20 page paper on it.  Now, I am the master of writing papers.  I can BS with the best of them.

May I just say, I thought that final paper was going to be the end of my grad school career.  I have never felt so intimidated in my life.

Fortunately, the story has a happy ending.  I got an A on my paper, got my Masters, and lived happily ever after.  In the end, the assignment and the paper turned out to be a lot easier than I thought it would be.  Yeah, it was long and a huge pain in the butt, but nothing I couldn’t handle.

My biggest problem, I realized, was my own mental block.  It’s kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you allow yourself to believe your goals are impossible and that you can’t handle it, you’re going to stress yourself out and, if you’re anything like me, end up eating a lot of self-pity popcorn.  But if you tell yourself, “You know what?  You can handle it.  Yeah, it’s going to be challenging and it’s going to take a lot of hard work, but you are perfectly capable of doing it.  You’ve already proven that.”

It’s just like Si and his purple gorilla.  Of course, if Willie had his way, Si would be putting that kind of effort into being productive at work.

But then, he wouldn’t be Si.

Deadline

After countless hours of researching and reading publishing options, I have discovered a few things, mostly about myself and how I work as an author.

1) As a writer, I want to work with people who are passionate about what they do, and who do things on a personal level. 

2) To be successful as a writer, you need more than a good manuscript.  You also need to have a good mind for business and marketing.  Sadly, I do not have that.  Fortunately, I know people who do and who are willing to help me. 

Okay, so that’s two things.  But I do think they are key things to keep in mind as I continue trying to figure out my path.

One of the things that has been bugging me a lot recently is time.  How much time should I give myself to prepare and to decide what I need to do?  Today, I finally gave myself a deadline.  June 15.  Until that date, I will be working to make sure everything is set and ready with my manuscript, I will continue on with my research, and I will try to get all of my affairs in order. 

This is a big step, and it’s one for which I’ve been waiting a very long time.  That being said, I don’t want to rush anything.  That’s why, instead of running out and publishing my book tomorrow, I am taking this next month to make sure I have chosen the best possible venue for my manuscript.

In Defense of Self-Publishing

I’ve spent the last few weeks doing a heck of a lot of research on different publishers, agents, and self-publishing venues.  I have a few different companies in mind and I am still in the process of trying to figure out if I want to go ahead and keep pursuing traditional publishing or, if I want to take matters into my own hands, and take a chance with self-publishing.  From what I can gather, there is no such thing as the perfect way to publish.  There are pros and cons to every venue.  I guess the thing every aspiring author needs to figure out is which pros will be the most beneficial to their particular circumstance, because no two are alike, and which cons they are most capable of handling.

From what I’m seeing, even working with a traditional publisher does not guarantee success.  Unless you’re JK Rowling, you’re going to have to work your tail off to promote your book, market, figure out the target audience, etc… This is where the real work begins.  Writing that 78,000 word manuscript was a piece of cake compared to these next few steps.   Whether or not your book is a success depends 100% how much work you put into it after the book is published.

All that being said, I believe there are a lot of benefits to both traditional and self-publishing.  But for some reason, self-publishing is still perceived as sub-par by several.  For example, I read that libraries will not consider purchasing a book unless it has been published by a “real publisher.”  It’s true that through self-publishing, literally anybody can get published, but that doesn’t mean that their books are any less impressive or significant or worth-reading.  It means that they believed in their work enough to take a chance when nobody else would, and that takes guts.

I have a friend who self-published his first book.  This guy is smart.  He was Valedictorian of his class and is about to graduate with his Law doctorate.  He did not have to write a book, or sell it, to be successful.  But he did, and he did it through self-publishing.  Another lady who commented on one of the articles that I read was so excited that she was able to publish her book herself.  It was her dream, she said, to see something she wrote in print.  Thanks to self-publishing, her dream came true.

I think a lot of people think that authors go with self-publishing because they think it will make them a lot of money or make them famous.  I hope that’s not the case.  A real writer doesn’t write because he or she wants to get rich or get famous or have movies made of their manuscripts (though I would be lying if I said I didn’t mentally cast my books in my head).  We write because we love to write, because we literally can’t function without it.  I’d love to support myself with my writing, but even if that doesn’t happen, I’m not going to stop.  That’s why I’m thankful for self-publishing.  It gives writers, people who do what they do for the sheer love of doing it, a chance to do what we love.  Better yet, it gives us that opportunity to make something for ourselves, even if the rest of the world is insisting that it’s a waste of time or impossible or that we’re not good enough.

So to anyone who has self-published, I admire you for taking a chance on your dreams.  I might very well be right behind you!

Thankful

I know it’s late, so I’ll keep this short.  I just need to express how genuinely lucky and thankful I am to have friends and family members who fully supports my goals and ambitions.  My parents, my sister, my best friends, my teachers, my choir director, and even perfect strangers all offer me support and encouragement every single day.  I strive each and every day to make them proud of me, especially my parents, who believe in me – often times a lot more than I believe in myself. So thank you.  

God Bless.