Sunday, October 15, 2017

One Genre Or Multiple

Yesterday I talked about how I was advised when I began writing to work only on series. I was told stand alone books would never sell and I would never find a readership base without making people want the next book in a series. After they got done making me feel small for choosing to write Never Give Up which is, in fact, a stand alone book, they started in on branding. I was told it is impossible to market myself without have a specific genre. I had to tell people I was a horror author, or a romance author, or a children's book writer.

The truth is, that just isn;t true. I began writing a contemporary drama and the next book follow suit but then I got into a book I am still not sure what genre it is. I have a thriller series, a historical fantasy series, a stand alone romance, and an entire children's picture book series. I was told again I was making all the wrong decisions. Because I write so many different styles I was told I would never be able to find a brand as any kind of author unless I used a different pen name for each genre.

Instead of trying to keep track of my multiple personalities writing I decided to turn myself into the brand. My website just has links to all of my books, when the series get published the pages for each will have a dedicated theme. If I attend a specific type of show like a comic con I will only take the books that apply but I have found that becoming the brand and allowing myself the creative freedom to be whoever I want to be is much easier than stifling certain aspects of my writing.

I guess the entire point of the last two days of my rambling is that people give advice and whether it is meant to guide or control your next actions it doesn't matter. We can take what people tell us and add it to our current information but in the end we have to decide for ourselves what is best. Just because something didn't work for someone else or it hasn't been tried yet doesn't mean it can't be done. It may not work or it might be groundbreaking. The key is taking the chance, trusting yourself and allowing your creativity to find the home it's meant for.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Stand Alone Vs Series

When I first started writing I had one idea for one book. There was no plan for a series of any kind and honestly, I had put off finishing the book for awhile out of fear I would never have another idea after that one. As it turned out I had nothing to be worried about. I have more ideas and more outlines than I will ever have time to write. Creatively I am set for life.

I was so excited when I finished writing Never Give Up I couldn't wait to send it off to the agents I knew would drool over it, I was already planning the cast for the TV movie it would be turned into and plotting the perfect location for my launch party. After months of rejection letters and disappointment I finally got a response other than a flat-out NO. Someone asked what happens in the next book. I was dumbfounded. There was no next book. Never Give Up was not written to be part of a series. It was a stand alone book, that was all. When I decided to go the Indie route I had a beta reader ask me if I would be writing another book about Sabrina, the dance instructor from Never Give Up. I hadn't intended to but once the seed is planted it is difficult to stop the growth.

As it turns out there will be two books but I am not calling it a series. Both will be books that are complete stories on their own but chronologically will tie together and have a progressive storyline. Sort of a passing of the torch. The advice I was given over and over is that series are better because readers get to know the characters and begin to get excited about the next book coming out. It is a longer journey and the readers feel themselves being pulled deeper with each book.

I understand why series are easier for the reader to fall in love with but I have always had concise story ideas so expanding them seemed unnatural. I want my books to be as authentic to the characters as possible so if the book is one that stands alone then so be it. Breathe is a stand alone book and I have no problems with that. I have four different series, one of which is undetermined in length while the others range from one novel and four novellas, four full length novels, and seven full books. As a writer you cannot cut off a book meant to be longer nor can you force it to be more than it is. I know there are those that would advise a new writer to focus on series but I want people to know it is fine to write either or both. The important thing is sharing our stories with the world.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Finding Time

I love to read and just as I have done the last few years I have created an intended reading list for the challenge I always attempt but have yet to successfully do. There are fifty categories with fifty-two books on the list (one category is a trilogy). As I made my list I was in the middle of reading one book and when the list was finished I had only one book in my current pile not used for a category so simply added those two for pleasure reading.

Because I started making my list earlier than usual this year, and because I plan to work on improving myself as well this time around, I also have a list of thirty books on different elements of the writing craft. One of the books on that list, and the one I am currently reading, if called No Plot, No Problem. It was written by the creator or Nanowrimo and with that particular challenge coming up in a few short weeks I thought it was appropriate timing to read it.

One of the things the book mentions is finding the time to fit your writing into your schedule. There was something he mentioned that stuck with me. I have participated in Nanowrimo five times and successfully crossed the finish line each and every time. Last year I had to be done two days early since I had family coming to visit, another year I started a week late and another I was working two jobs. Each and every time I have made it to the 50K word goal before the deadline though so obviously it is a priority and I am capable of finding the time. He mentioned that this mentality can carry over into regular life as well.

When Nanowrimo finishes up at the end of November I am always ready to go for another challenge, finding more book shows, setting up time to get things done, and just being more productive in my everyday life. As the year goes on I find that motivation and productivity faltering. The deadline, as he mentions, is a tremendous motivator and I think what I need in order to stay on track and keep that spirit of productivity alive is more goals and deadlines throughout the year. That is something I am working on today. I have the books and projects I would like to accomplish but I need the deadline and smaller, milestone goals to check off and keep pushing me. It will be interesting to see over the next year if I manage to get more done or if I find myself sitting in the same situation at the beginning of Nano next year.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Creative Therapy

This morning I dragged my body from the comfort of the blankets and forced myself into a hot shower. It was the first long, relaxing shower I have taken in the past week and a half. Every other one has been a quick ten minute max, get clean and get out situation. I put a brand new blade on my razor, I massaged the shampoo and conditioner into my hair and wrapped myself in the fragrant lather of my body wash. I stepped out renewed as well as full of ideas.

There is something rejuvenating about a hot shower. Being reborn in that cloud of steam can give a fresh outlook to the day. It got me thinking about how something so simple can help when dealing with recovery either from being sick or stress. There are so many people that struggle to find ways to deal with the stress side of things and for me I am lucky to know I have creative outlets. I was speaking with a woman the other day about using art as a form of therapy. She runs a pottery studio and does events helping people do team building and therapeutic art including after the recent events here in Vegas.

My writing has always been my escape. Like musicians I find channeling my energy into creation can be a great way of coping with feelings simmering under the surface. I watched a video by country singer Eric Church as he talked about how something in side him broke the night of the shooting and the only way he knew to fix something broken was with music. For many artists I think that period of creation, where we lose ourselves in the project and can allow a different part of ourselves to take control is the best form of therapy available.

I discovered my need to use my writing when I wrote Survivor. As I recounted the days I endured under my controlling and abusive ex I found not only the nightmares and fear I had spent so many years burying but also a tiny glimmer of strength I never knew I had. By taking the time to share my story it was no longer my private hell or personal shame. It didn't own me, I owned it. What happened to me wasn't fair or good or my fault. I kept it hidden away for a decade and a half but when I decided to share it, to let the world know the true meaning of the "I'm just clumsy" scars on my body, it couldn't be in charge any longer.

I want to find a way to help others keeping there scars in the dark to find a way to show the world. Those scars are signs of being weak or defenseless, they are battle wounds that signify a fighter willing to defend themselves and what they know is right. Whether through painting, pottery, sculpting, writing, music or dance. There are so many forms of art out there that can help someone hurting to tell and show their pain in a safe and creative way. It is my goal to help develop such a safe space.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dealing With Tragedy

Ten days ago my beautiful city of Las Vegas was put on the world stage for something different than our exquisite food, dynamic shows and being a top tourist destination. The events that unfolded on the night of October 1st rippled around the world and put us under a microscope as the planet tuned in to see what the next development would be. With nearly six hundred people injured or killed it is difficult to find someone that wasn't involved or knew someone that was when you walk down our streets.

I work on the Strip for my day job. I see the security guards and police patrolling everyday, doing their best to keep us safe. For the first responders I will be eternally grateful. I was in the area when everything began and like most Las Vegans, as well as the rest of the world, I was glued to my television as the rest of the night unfolded. I not only witnessed, first hand temporarily, but live on camera, the carnage happening but I saw the slew of conspiracies forming from the onset of the shooting.

There were 58 victims the night of the shooting but there was a large, unmentioned 59th victim, the city of Las Vegas. We are all grieving, coping and finding a way forward as much as possible. I am proud to be a part of a community that has come together so well in the wake of such a terrible event. People waited for hours to donate blood, found money to donate bringing contributions into the millions of dollars for the victims and their families in mere days, we even came together to hold vigils and build a memorial park which I am honored to say I was a part of creating.

Last night I stood in front of the 58 crosses so lovingly made and brought to the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. I read the names and wept, not only for the one I knew personally but all those that lost their lives and even more for the gratitude of someone caring enough to make such a dedication. The pain will live on and the world will forever be changed just as it is every time a tragedy like this occurs. I just want to take the time to thank everyone that has stood up for us. Thank you will never be enough for those that rushed in whether first responders or everyday people that just wanted to help. We are a city the world watches but until now I doubt anyone has ever known our spirit. I am proud to call Las Vegas home and look forward to doing my part to help us heal.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Popularity

Back in school I used to think there were three groups of people when it came to popularity. The first were the actual popular kids. They would throw the parties, or at least be invited. They were the in crowd. The second was the middle level. They were the ones that knew the party was happening and might crash it or not but they were in the know. They probably split 50 / 50 on whether they had ambition to move up to the popular group or just be content with who they were but, regardless, they knew what was going on. Then there was the last group. Some people call them outcasts but to me even outcasts have a form of known popularity, sort of an anti-popularity. The last group is the one that only found out the party happened when they heard people talking about it on Monday morning before class.

I always classified myself in the third group but the truth is I was actually my own subcategory, a three and a half. The popular kids would throw the party, the semi populars would know it was happening, the unpopular ones would hear about it on Monday and then when they were discussing it on Wednesday I would learn it had happened. Being in the loop was never something I was great at. Perhaps that is why I focused so much on networking as I got older. At least I would be in the know.

I see events happening in my author circles and contact people to find out how to get involved but those events are full already. I never knew they existed and somehow they filled before I had a chance. I asked a friend about one of them and got a response from another author that the event was full and it was being organized by her friend so I probably wouldn't be able to participate. Once again not being popular enough cost me the chance to do something I would have loved to do. I am still that shy, never quite popular enough to be in the loop, little girl.

There is a saying, those who can't do, teach. Well those not popular enough to get invited to events plan their own. I am doing my best to turn over a new leaf and use what I have learned from knowing the people popular enough to actually be invited and plan my own events that will hopefully someday make me and what I do known as well. It can be hard sitting at the loser table (I know, I have permanent reservations) but sometimes those that always out doing something have time to sit and plan something big. Look out world, popularity or not, someday I will find my spotlight.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Upcoming Nanowrimo

This Sunday will officially mark the beginning of October. Not only is it my favorite month of the year for containing Halloween, my second favorite holiday, but it is also that wonderful month where I get to start panicking about my plans for Nanowrimo and my preoccupation during the entire month of November.

I had originally planned, in fact up until a couple weeks ago I planned, to work on the first book in my new murder mystery series for Nanowrimo this year. I have title ideas, some character development and several methods for victims to die but in order to do it right there are a number of things I need to research for this series and I want to do it justice so I am postponing work on that series at the moment. Instead I decided to work on book three in a different series.

Nanowrimo has been a great thing for me over the past several years. It forced me to finally complete my debut novel Never Give Up, something that only took me eight years to accomplish. It also gave me relief from my intense fear that Never Give Up might be the only story I had inside me. I have proven time and again the voices will never be silent in my mind. I took a year off from Nano the following year but returned in 2012 to write Breathe. That is one I am still not happy with but hope to find the right formula to make it what I know it can be and release it in the near future.

After Breathe came one of my favorite books, Welcome to Syn (working title). It is the first in a seven book series and while it has sat in its original draft for the past four years I am thrilled to know I will get to rejoin those characters soon. They are some of the most inventive and truly fun characters I have ever written. It was the first book I wasn't afraid to be a little dark in and it allowed me a freedom I had yet to experience. The Syntel sisters will definitely be some of my favorites forever.

In 2015 I wrote Voices In My Head. The story of an author whose creations live inside her mind and tell her the stories while she simply acts as the medium by which those stories are shared with the world. But what happens when a character wants to be more than just words on a page? What happens when they possess a power that controls not only the story they are in but the author writing the words? Can she stop her own creation before he finds a way to control her too? Chelsea Perella is one I relate to intensely but through her book we meet Samantha Stiles and Chelsea's daughter Amanda. Samantha became the focus for book two and I am preparing this year to focus on Amanda's journey. If an when I complete Amanda's book it will be a full trilogy and while there is a fourth book related to the trilogy, those first three will be the closest I have come to finishing a series.

Nanowrimo pushed me to write and not make excuses. It forced me to face my fear about my own level of creativity and it has been a large catalyst in moving me forward as a writer. There are a number of people that do not like to participate, will bad mouth or look down on people that take part in the challenge but for me I can honestly say I wouldn't be a writer today if it weren't for Nanowrimo.