For the A-to-Z Challenge 2017 I’m writing all about myself. Every post will be some random fact or bit of information about me that you may or may not have already known. Maybe you’ll learn something! Feel free to let me know! ^_^
More self promotion today!
“The Other World: Book One” is my recently-published novel that is the first book in a series. It is the story of a teenage girl who has lost everything but subsequently gains a strange and unusual purpose when she is transported into a parallel universe.
This story, like my previous novel “Nowhere to Hide”, was a National Novel Writing Month project, but that’s not where it started. The original story, which I then called “Parallels”, was a single novel that I began writing after my high school sweetheart broke up with me. I was a complete mess – as one tends to be after a break-up – and one of the things I did as a result of that was to get back into writing for cathartic reasons. It was a Mary-Sue project at first, because I was writing simply to make myself feel better. The main character was based on myself, and the bad guy was based on the dude who broke up with me, and that’s really all you need to know, because no trace of that original story made it to the final cut. Those first chapters that I wrote way back then were picked up a few years later and re-written twice before being dropped again. The following year I picked it up again as my NaNovel, and a few years later I picked it up AGAIN as my NaNovel. A couple of years after that I had the idea to change the single story into a short series, and after about two years of working on it I finally came out with Book One.
The final cut (or, at least, the final cut of Book One, I suppose) is not even the tiniest bit like the original draft. As the years went on my views on life changed, my views on what is good literature changed, my skills as a writer grew, and all in all the story just evolved, became much, much better, and turned into something completely different. That’s a good thing, but in a way also very weird from my perspective, because I can remember all the bits of story that never made it in, the things that I realized were stupid, or literary suicide, or just didn’t fit anymore as the characters changed entirely.
But I’m mostly rambling. The point is that the story that was is just a memory now, and the story that is is all the better for it. So if you’d like to check it out and support your local indie author, please click on the image or link above for both the ebook and paperback options. 🙂
Are you going to check out The Other World: Book One? It’s okay, you can be honest with me! XD Leave a comment as well, if you’d like!
Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s the new year again. We’ve crossed that barrier over into 2014 and are busy rubbing our eyes and staring ahead to all the possibilities that a new year holds. Personally, I find myself curled up on the couch under my new TARDIS blanket, plucking away this post while my husband and daughter are still asleep, hoping fervently that how I feel this morning is not a sign of what the year to come will be like. Begone, mysterious aches and pains! Go afflict someone who is actually old enough to feel this sore!
Anyway, this post isn’t about the fact that I seem to be suffering from an exceptionally painful cold (without any of the other symptoms). This post is about the fact that it is January 1st, a day rife with possibilities. What will the new year hold?
Well first of all, some of you may have guessed from this post that I wrote on Monday, that I’m going to be returning to the oil sands soon. Yes, after six straight months of glorious freedom unemployment, I’m set to begin work on the other side of the country again, starting the 21st of this month, with the same company and the same schedule that I had last time. This comes with mixed feelings, of course. It won’t be fun to leave my husband and daughter for half of every month again, and since I’ll be returning to the field instead of the control room I will find myself in a very difficult-to-get-any-writing-done position, but I do love the company, and it will be great to have some income again. What really worries me is that I’m going to be heading out to Northern Alberta in what is usually the coldest month, after having been snuggled all warm and cozy in the control room for the last half of last winter. My body may go through a bit of a shock. Luckily we always work in teams of two out there, so there will be someone to drag my frozen solid ass back to the trailers every day. Wish me luck, people. Wish me luck.
Secondly, since it’s a near year it’s time for new goals. At the beginning of 2013 I wrote out three “Wildly Improbable Goals”. Technically, I failed on all three of them, but having them down as goals definitely helped me get some things done, make some changes in my life and my way of thinking, and overall I had a rather productive year, as compared to previous years.
This year I’ve decided that I’m going to be a little less “Wildly Improbable” and a bit more, “you damn-well know that you can do this, so DO IT” with my goals. I want my goals to be things that I know I can complete, if I’d just get off my ass and work on them. So let’s start, shall we?
Goal #1: Lose at least ten pounds and become healthier overall.
I know, I know…don’t look at me like that. This is not one of those, “oh, it’s the new year so I’m going to buy a bunch of exercise equipment that I’ll only use for two weeks before it becomes a coat rack” kind of goals.
You see, I’ve been getting older, and the genes that my parents passed down to me don’t like that. I’ll be turning 30 in 2014, and while that is still pretty damn young to most people, to my physical being it’s like hitting the countdown to complete bodily failure. Things are starting to catch up with me, and I don’t like them.
For one thing, I seem to have inherited a wonderful trait from my father, wherein every second thing that I eat makes me feel like little needle-clawed demons are trying to rip their way out of my digestive tract. My father dealt with this for years before a doctor basically told him to eat a lot more fiber, and oh, throw some yogurt in there too. It sounds like a throwaway answer, but my dad has been doing great, so part of my health goal for this year is to make sure that there is always lots of fiber in my diet. Hopefully the result will be a calmer, less-demon-infested stomach.
The “at least 10 pounds” part of the goal is in there because, to be honest, I’m falling apart at the seams and I blame a good part of that on the extra 20-40 lbs that is hanging on to my body. I’m perfectly fine with the way I look right now, but I’m not fine with the way I feel. Even before the mysterious New Year’s aches-and-pains from hell, I’ve been feeling pretty crappy most of the time. I’m always sore in one spot or another, I’m extremely lethargic most of the time, and I’m so cranky and slow on a regular basis that it makes it very difficult to play with my daughter. I really believe that most of this could be fixed by losing a bit of weight (and, obviously, being more active in general), so I’m making it a goal. I’m not worried about getting down to what I perceive as the “proper” weight…I’m just going to worry about the first 10 pounds and then move on from there. Are we all cool with that? Okay, good.
Goal #2: Be more active on social media and work hard on my “author platform”.
2013 saw a lot of ups and downs for me as far as the whole social media = great author platform thing. I always managed to keep pressing forward with my blog, but other forms of social media often fell by the wayside. Twitter is one of the greatest things out there for connecting with other writers, agents, publishers, readers, and so on, and it only takes a few seconds to type up a Tweet, and yet I regularly go for weeks without Tweeting a single thing aside from the auto-Tweets that WordPress shoots out when I write a blog post.
This year I want to be more active and more diligent with my author platform. I want to show people that, yes, I’m really here, and hey, how are you doing today? More and more this is becoming an extremely important part of being a successful writer, and I don’t want to be left behind in the dust.
Goal #3: COMPLETE my zombie apocalypse novel, Nowhere to Hide.
This one feels more “wildly improbable” than the others, but it’s not…it’s NOT, dammit!
I spent the last year trying to finish editing on my manuscript, and that task is almost complete. I already have a beta-reader lined up to swap manuscripts with. This year is going to be the year of really, truly, finishing a novel. I know that my manuscript has problems even before my beta-reader touches it, but I plan to sit back and wait to hear what she has to say, and then work my ass off once she hands it back. If at all possible I want to publish by the end of this year. I want my zombie novel to be out there before zombies stop being something that people want to read about (which is why I definitely will not be going with traditional publishing…man, you guys are SLOW). This is a big thing for me. By the end of 2014 I want to be a published author.
And to all my religious friends, your prays are totally welcome on this one. 😛
Goal #4: Write 500,000 words.
Last year I made the Wildly Improbable Goal to write one million words over the course of a year. Though that goal turned out to be completely out of my league (it didn’t occur to me until halfway through the first month that this would be over 83,000 words a month), I did end up writing significantly more words in 2013 than in any year previous…possibly in all the years previous.
I came with in striking distance of 500,000 words last year, so this year I want to exceed that goal and beat my own personal record. Half a mil over the course of a year is just over 41,000 words a month. Judging from last year it will be difficult, but I have faith that I’ll be able to pull it off.
And there you have it. Four goals for the New Year, all of them significantly more probable than not. I’m going to continue on with my accountability posts (though they’ll be moving to Wednesdays now) because personally I find nothing helps with a goal so much as admitting to the general public that you haven’t been working on it. 😛
How about it, friends and fellow bloggers? What are your goals for the New Year?
Look at that title, and tell me that it’s not the truth in many things. Think about things you do on a daily basis, things you deal with regularly, big events in your life…what was the hardest part of them?
My Facebook friends and family already know this, but a few days ago on August 28th, I submitted my supernatural romance to a publisher. This is my first ever manuscript submission, and there were lots of things about it that were terribly difficult. The editing process was horrible. Trying to figure out how to get Scrivener to properly format the results was a right awful pain in the ass. Researching all the info necessary to make sure that I was doing everything exactly the way the publisher requests was an enormous headache. Writing a query letter that sounded confident but not cocky was painful. And trying to write a synopsis that explained my story without making it sound idiotic was possibly one of the hardest things I’ve ever written.
But none of those things is the hardest part. You know what the hardest part is.
My manuscript is out there now, and I can honestly say with great confidence that I’m expecting a rejection letter sometime in the future. I’m not worried about that part because I’ve resigned myself to the fact that this is almost definitely what is going to happen – not very many writers get a contract on their first ever submission, after all. But it’s not the looming threat of a rejection letter that is difficult; I’m actually kind of looking forward to it, because a rejection letter is just one step closer to an acceptance letter.
But it’s the waiting. God dammit, the waiting.
This, I think, is the main reason that a lot of writers are going indie or self-publishing. The waiting. It’s awful. The particular publisher that I submitted this manuscript to aims to respond to all submissions within three months. And that’s short compared to other publishers. Some publishers quote 6 months, others up to a year.
I’ve been waiting for 6 days and I’m going insane; imagine if I had to wait for up to a year.
The hardest part, I’m telling you. Bar none.
This experience, thus far, has taught me that I’m not a fan of dealing with traditional publishers. So, I guess, if anything, I’m learning. So, go me?
Fellow writers, what is your experience with waiting on traditional publishers? Did it drive you completely up the wall? Was it worth the wait? Did long waits affect your decision to either remain with traditional publishing or move on to other options? Please share!
As previously mentioned, I’ve been taking a bit of time to read some “craft books” on writing, and the first one I’ve been looking at is Kristen Lamb’sRise of the Machines. The focus of her book is social media and how writers can use it to create a working “author platform”, but she also touches on other subjects such as traditional vs. indie publishing, marketing, and occasionally a little bit of (related) neuroscience. Yeah, you heard me.
One of the side-topics that has come up in what I’ve read so far (enjoying it so much!) is this idea of ruining your platform without even realizing it. In other words, turning your name to mud by accident. In a world where everything can be re-Tweeted half a million times before you blink, it’s easy for one stupid mistake to go viral and effectively ruin your good name for, well, for good. This doesn’t only apply to writers (or the celebrities we so often see spiraling the metaphorical toilet bowl); it applies to everyone. That’s why I wanted to talk about it today, because this is the kind of thing that everyone should know, but which most people never think about.
I’ve spoken before about how anonymity does not truly exist on the internet and how we should watch what we do and say because it can come back to bite us in the ass. In that previous post I was focused on what I called “The Golden Internet Rule”, which is simply “don’t be a jerk on the internet”. This time I’m not talking specifically about being a jerk, but simply about understanding that whatever you choose to talk about on the internet has now become searchable, findable, and quite possibly eternal.
I’ll give a personal example, because what better way to show people what you mean than by sharing your own morbid embarrassment?
When I was in university, studying to be a technologist, I had ups and downs. I had chosen my path partially on a whim because of a stressful situation (the course I had originally chosen was cancelled two months before the start of the semester, so I had to pick something else quick or simply not go to school). The result was that I often wondered if I’d chosen the right thing, whether or not I should drop out and choose something else, and was I really suited for this kind of career? I kept pressing forward because change is scary, and eventually I found myself in the fourth and final year of program, having an all-out panic attack. It began to occur to me that I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do when I graduated. I didn’t know what kind of jobs I was even qualified for, how I would go about applying for them, where the work would end up taking me, or whether I would even be any good in the field. Sure I’d made pretty great grades in school, but the real world is a lot different from the class world. I didn’t know what kind of work I would be doing, but I was pretty confident it would not be writing short lines of computer code to set tiny LED lights to flash on and off at timed intervals.
One night when I was particularly stressed, I went online to a forum that I frequented in those days. I wrote a long post about my concerns, my worries, my stress level. I ranted about things like “wasting time and money on a degree I don’t even understand” and how I would disappoint my parents if I suddenly up and decided to do something different, and how I was terrified of the idea that I might have to move away from home for a job and “why oh why didn’t I choose a career path with a clearer future?!”
It was a rant born of stress, passion, and an overwhelming desire for someone to wrap their virtual arms around me and say that it was going to be okay. I did get that virtual hug from my virtual companions, but I also made a teeny tiny mistake. Within the confines of that rant, I used my full, real name. It wasn’t a concern because most of the folks on this forum knew my real name anyway, but in this particular post I wrote one line that described what my diploma would look like when I graduated, with my full name in the center of it. I added that bit in to make a point concerning my rant, but I didn’t consider what adding my full name in actually did to that post.
Haven’t figured it out yet?
It made me instantaneously and easily locatable on Google.
For the most part this was a non-issue. I was a nobody that no one cared about. Who would even go looking up my name on Google, and if they did find my post, why would they care? At least that’s what I thought until someone did happen to Google my name and did click on the link that led them to my post. It was my uncle. I can’t recall the reason that he searched my name in the first place, but when he did he happened upon my post, read it, and subsequently wrote me a very long, very concerned email.
I was mortified.
My uncle was just trying to be helpful and calm my concerns, and he was very sweet. That’s not the mortifying part. The mortifying part was that he read my post in the first place. When I wrote that post it was with the intentions that only my internet friends ever see it. I just wanted a little bit of anonymous support from people who I never had to deal with face-to-face. For good or ill, I’ve never been the kind of person who can share their pains and emotions with their closest loved ones, so when one of those close loved ones found my whining, complaining, melodramatic post I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. And while in this case I had the opportunity to go back and change what I’d written (posts on this forum were editable), in another place I may have been stuck with what I’d written forever.
This is what we’re dealing with when we put ourselves out there on the internet, and my example is absolutely nothing compared to what some people have put themselves through. Every one of you reading this right now has seen at least one photo of someone who uploaded their pic on a social network site only to realize later that there was something excruciatingly embarrassing about it. One particular photo that comes to mind is of a teenage girl who took a “selfie” of herself and uploaded it to Facebook before noticing that her vibrator was sitting in plain view in the corner of the pic. As if that’s not mortifying enough, before she noticed it dozens of people had copied it and posted it elsewhere. The picture went viral. Because this girl failed to take a few seconds to actually look at the photo before posting it, she is now an internet meme that will never die.
Whatever you say, whatever you post, whatever you do, it only takes one opportunist to back-up your mistake on his computer before you can backtrack. In this way the internet is forever. Ask anyone who has ever found themselves depicted as a cruel jape on sites like 9gag. It doesn’t matter how much you beg or cry or scream, you can’t erase something from the internet once people have decided to use it at your expense. Even if it is an extreme example and you have grounds for legal action, it only takes one person to store the quote/pic/post away to whip out again at a later date. And the bigger a deal you make out of trying to abolish a bad rep, the bigger a deal people will make out of making sure that it never dies.
This is why we have to be careful, not only when dealing with touchy issues like religion and politics, or when letting our tempers get the best of us online. We also have to be careful with everything we say or do on the internet. Before you say or post or upload, step back and think. Think about how you would feel if your parents (or your children) happened across your post. Think about the repercussions if your employer saw that pic. Think about the veritable shit storm you might inadvertently stir up with your status update.
Basically, just THINK. It’s something we don’t do enough of these days, and with the Internet playing the part of devil’s advocate, one stupid mistake can mean that you name is mud for a very, very long time.
Have you ever said or did something on the internet that came back on you in an embarrassing or painful way? Do you know anyone else who has had to deal with this kind of unintentional reputation ruining? Thoughts and comments?