“N” is for “Nowhere to Hide” – An A-to-Z Blogging Challenge Post

N

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! ^_^


Time for some self-promotion! šŸ˜€

thumbnail_Nowhere to Hide Paperback v2

Nowhere to Hide” is the first book that I completed fully, revised, edited, and published. In those early days I even designed my own cover for it, although I later hired a professional cover artist to create a more attractive one. It’s the story of a girl named Nancy and the people she encounters as the world falls apart during a zombie outbreak. But the zombies aren’t the only monsters in this world…dum dum duuuuuuuuuuum. šŸ™‚

This zombie apocalypse story began life after I read Stephen King’s “Cell”, which IĀ loved. After reading it – and having recently watched several zombie-related movies as well – I thought to myself, “I could do this”, and since National Novel Writing Month was just around the corner, I planned to write my first ever zombie story. It was tons of fun, but also posed it’s challenges as well. I struggled with deciding how to handle gore (too much, too little, too graphic), what kind of endgame I wanted the story to progress toward, and for the first time I really had to pay attention to things like the timeline so that I wouldn’t lose track of basic logic (for instance, a broken bone couldn’t heal in a 2-day time-span). By the time I had a completed first draft I also had a brain filled to the brim with doubts. As many authors before me have done, I tossed the story aside, confident that it was complete and utter drivel.

Luckily, I did convince myself to go back to it, and with the help of my beta-reader I was able to fix up the manuscript and convince myself that it was, in fact, actually a good story . It went through several rounds of edits and revisions, but eventually I actually managed to sit back, look at it, and think, “This is good! People will like this!” And so it was off to CreateSpace.com I went.

Some people have asked me why I didn’t attempt to traditionally publish, and believe me, I did think about it. However, in the end I decided that I was better off going the indie route. By the time my manuscript was ready interest in zombies had begun to wane, and querying traditional publishers can be a very long and arduous journey. I didn’t want to risk the time it would require, because by the time a publisher was willing to take a chance on me, it would be entirely possible that zombies had gone completely out of the limelight and no one would be interested in the book.

Was that choice for the best? I don’t know. Selling books as an indie author is extremely difficult, so maybe I would have been better off going traditional after all. Then again, if I’d attempted the traditional route I mightĀ stillĀ be querying, with no acceptance letter in sight.

In the end, I’m glad that I did things the way that I did because what’s most important to me is that the book is out there, ready and available for people to read. Of course, it would also be nice if people were actually buying and reading it, so here’s my puppy-dog-eyed plea: check it out! You never know, you might absolutely love it!


Have you checked out “Nowhere to Hide” yet? Let me know in the comments below!

This space intentionally left blank

Today you get to enjoy a bit of a brain dump because I have a few things to mention, none of which really justify their own separate post.

First of all, I’ve made a couple of small changes to the site. You’ve probably noticed the little character off to the left of the screen. I’ve made up a number of little avatars which are meant to show my current writing progress. Presently, my little character is enjoying the life of editing a manuscript…see the little displeased eyes and the pile of red-marked papers behind her? Yep, that just about covers it. I’ll change the character every now and then to match what I’m currently doing: for example, come November I’ll be taking a break from editing to participate in NaNoWriMo 2012…so you’ll get to see a new little avatar (or two) at that time. In addition to my little characters, I’ve created a new page for information on my projects. You can see it up there between “About” and “Follow Me On”. Currently I only have a small blurb for my zombie manuscript, but I’ll be adding more in the future when I get a chance to decide how I want the page laid out.

Second, I feel the need to share something that happened near home recently that really accentuates the theme of corporate greed that I’ve been mentioning so often lately. Last night, during the night shift at a local Tim Horton’s restaurant, one of the staff passed away. I’m not privy to the details of her death, but for the purposes of what I’m about to share, she died in the restaurant, during her shift…my heart goes out not only to her family, but to the coworkers who had to witness the event. But witnessing the event is nothing compared to what happened then…the manager/owner/whoever-was-in-charge of the restaurant refused to shut the Tim Horton’s down even for a little while…the remaining workers were forced to finish their shift…after their coworker had just died in front of them. I cannot express my disgust over this. As with the other examples I’ve given of late, Tim Hortons is a multi-billion-dollar corporation, and the idea that one would refuse to shut down for a couple of hours (during a middle-of-the-night shift at that) due to the sudden death of an employee is absolutely sickening. This misplacement of priorities in this situation make me want to retch. I sincerely hope that the other employees involved in this get together and sue the company for emotional distress and neglect. No one should have to deal with something like that, much less for goddamn minimum wage.

Third, I came across an article on Cracked.com today that I wanted to share for all the readers/writers out there. 4 Ways High School Makes You Hate Reading is about exactly what it’s title suggests, and I agreed with each point made. There are fewer readers in the world today because of the exact reasons Christina H suggests, and that’s truly a shame. A common theme throughout her article is that as adults it seems like we are expected to read “fine literature” and that anything less is shallow, useless junk. This is a point that I both agree with wholeheartedly and notice often when talking about my own projects. Whenever anyone finds out that I’m writing a book they will inevitably ask me what the book is about, and I will watch their eyes go from impressed to politely bemused when I tell them it’s about zombies. It’s like adults aren’t allowed to have fun while reading, or something foolish like that.

Fourth: holy hell, it’s already October! I’ve got to get to work on the baby’s Halloween costume! *runs away*

Need for Speed

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnaginā€™s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

27. How to speed up your writing process

First of all, I would suggest that you go check out the National Novel Writing Month website. NaNoWriMo, as it is more commonly known, officially happens in November, but they have other events throughout the year now that are similar and can be very helpful. The original, happens-in-November event is a challenge to write 50,000 words in one month. Thousands of people participate, so there is a lot of support, and the overwhelming motivation of it all can be just what a person needs to really sit down and write.

Aside from that, I think a good rule of thumb to speed up your writing is to choose a personal goal number and write that much every day, no matter what, even if what you end up writing is utter crap. Writing, like many other things, is something you just have to do. The more you write, the more you will write, and the better your writing will become. And even if everything you write isn’t absolutely perfect on the first run, getting words to paper is the most important step…you can fix it all up and make it sound pretty later! This is how I finally got Nowhere to Hide, my zombie apocalypse novel, written…I dedicated myself to writing 1000 words no matter what, and I found myself determined not to break the streak once I had it going. Some people might not have the time to squeeze that much writing into every day, but writing anything is better than writing nothing, and eventually all those anythings add up into something. šŸ™‚

Will you be my (critique) friend?

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnaginā€™s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

26. How to find a critique group or partner

This can be harder than it sounds. The problem, I think, is that lots of writers want someone to read and critique their work, but they don’t want to have to do anything in return. It’s not that we’re selfish people by nature or anything, it’s just that we’re very, very busy. How can we concentrate on our own manuscripts when we have to critique this story our crit-partner sent us? And lord forbid we have multiple crit-partners and have to deal with multiple story-swaps. Yikes!

So what seems to happen is that we’ll hunt someone down, we’ll think we’ve established a partnership, but then one or the other will start to slack off. Weeks or months will go by without a critique being passed along so that only one person is benefiting from the relationship, or even worse, both people slack off and no one is benefiting.

This is the reason I joined Critique Circle. It’s an online critique group with a bit of a twist. See, the way they keep everyone honest is that you need points in order to submit some of your own work, and the only way to get points is by critiquing someone’s work. You get 1 point for each critique you write, with additional points if the piece you critique is a particularly long one, and you need 3 points to submit something of your own. Submissions go up in week-long stints and if you want to submit more than one piece in a given week it will cost you 6 points for the additional submission. It actually works quite well. I believe I submitted 3 or 4 chapters of Nowhere to Hide before I took a break to actually, you know…finish the novel, and each of my submissions got 5 or more critiques, most of them very helpful. There will, of course, always be people who write quick and dirty critiques just to get the points, but that is why the site also has a rating system. You can rate and comment on critiques you are given. I’m not entirely clear on what happens with those ratings as I’ve never had to deal with it myself, but overall it’s a very good system that works well. So if you’re looking for a critique partner, you should definitely head on over!

The Trick is to Learn From Them

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnaginā€™s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

22. List the biggest mistakes you made in your first manuscript

For the purpose of this post, I am going to use Nowhere to Hide, my zombie apocalypse novel, because it is the only (non-fan-fiction) manuscript I’ve ever finished (minus the editing part, which is happening now). So, without further ado:

– I didn’t plan anything. While I’ve mentioned before that I’m not the planning type and that I tend to prefer just writing, I suspect that having a general layout (at the very least) would have significantly decreased the length of time it took me to finish this story.

– I wrote a prologue. I personally don’t see this as a ‘mistake’, exactly, but after having a number of people on Critique Circle tell me that the prologue was pointless and detracted from the story, I guess it was maybe a mistake. :\

– I started a “shout-out” naming convention, giving my characters last names of famous horror-guru authors/directors/etc, and then promptly forgot about following through with it once I hit the fourth character.

– Looking back at certain sections of the story, I see that I rushed through things that I didn’t find as interesting, but are actually fairly important parts of the overall narrative.

– I didn’t establish character stories. I’m sure this isn’t a necessity for everyone, but if there’s one aspect of the planning process that I, personally, should be doing, it’s creating character backgrounds ahead of time. I tend to just go with the flow, and more often than not I find myself writing my main character’s feelings or actions to reflect how I think I would feel or act, but that’s not really a smart way of doing things. Not all of my characters can have my exact personal thoughts and beliefs. That’s just foolish. What I really need to start doing is establishing my character’s lives and personalitiesĀ before I presume to write about them.

I’m sure there’s more, but I don’t really have to bash myself all night long, do I? šŸ™‚

Interesting Indeed…

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnaginā€™s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

17. The most interesting piece of research you came across

As mentioned in my previous post, my “research” for “Nowhere to Hide” was nothing more than the fact that I watched a lot of zombie movies, read a lot of zombie books, and played a lot of zombie games before deciding to write my own zombie apocalypse novel. The result of this “research” method is that I’ve learned a lot about zombie culture, if you will, and gotten a lot of looks at how different people (directors, authors, game producers) see zombies.

The most interesting thing I came across during that period of zombie overload was a book that (evidently) many, many people have read: “The Zombie Survival Guide” by Max Brooks. I actually bought the book for my husband back a few years ago, before it became evident that I am actually the zombie nut in the family. The book is written like an actual survival guide, with the interwoven backstory that the zombie outbreak has already occurred. The author goes into great detail about the physiology and abilities of zombies, what kinds of weapons are best to use, how to find shelter, etc etc etc. It’s an interesting (if not disturbing) read. No one particular piece of information stands out to me as the “most interesting”, but the book in itself should hold that spot because of the extreme detail put into it. Max Brooks is a man who really, really things a lot about zombies. o.O

“Shh…it’s not a video game, it’s research!”

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnaginā€™s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

16. How you researched your last book

This prompt made me laugh a little. It was one of those, “Ha ha…seriously?” kind of laughs.

Research? Ha ha…seriously?

I’m not the researching type. I’m not really the “preparation of any kind” type, at least not when it comes to writing. I tend to just…go. I don’t do layouts or outlines, I don’t create character sheets or brainstorm scenes ahead of time. I just tend to…write. I get ideas, and I produce them in prose form. That’s about all there is to my process.

In my defense, most of what I write is original to my brain. I don’t really need to research much because I’m making it all up as I go along anyway.

I will admit, however, that every now I get ideas as a result of inadvertent research. For instance, the zombie book I’ve been working on, tentatively titled “Nowhere to Hide”, came into being because over the past few years I’ve been rather immersed in zombie media. I’ve watched a ton of zombie movies with my husband, read several zombie books and ‘survival guides’, and played a number of zombie-killin’ video games. Eventually all this lead to my deciding to write my own zombie story, and by extension all the watching/reading/playing I’d been doing became akin to research. I took things I liked and scraped things I didn’t.

Is that close enough? Am I any less a “real” writer because I don’t do “real” research? šŸ˜›

I Write Like…

A while ago I stumbled upon this website, I Write Like, and just recently a fellow blogger linked to it and brought it back to my attention again. The idea, basically, is that you copy and paste an excerpt of your writing to the webpage and it analyzes it and tells you which author you write like. It analyzes based on word choices and writing style (which I’m assuming refers to sentence structure or some such); I can’t imagine that it’s terribly accurate, but it’s still interesting to see who you get. šŸ™‚

For my zombie novel, Nowhere to Hide, I got Charles Dickens, even when I had the site analyze super-creepy and/or gory scenes. It has me very interested to actually read some Charles Dickens that isn’t Oliver Twist. o.o

For my Final Fantasy fanfic, I got Edgar Allan Poe, which just fathoms me. I could imagine getting Poe for my horror novel, but for a video game fan fiction? Wuh?

For my supernatural romance, tentatively titled Moonlight, I got David Foster Wallace. I have no idea who this is, so I’m going to have to do my research, but if his writing is anything like mine in this particular piece, I’m very interested already. lol

I analyzed several different scenes from my fantasy epic novel because it’s been written and re-written so many times that nothing fits together properly anymore. I got Jonathan Swift and Ursula K. Le Guin for two of the scenes, neither of whom I’ve heard of so again I must do my research. For another of the scenes I got Stephanie Meyer, which has prompted me to re-analzye my own writing stat.

The bits and pieces of what will someday be a space fantasy gave me Anne Rice. I know Anne Rice, of course, but I’ll have to read some more of her work to actually get an idea of whether this is accurate.

And finally, my Chrono Trigger fanfic gave me…J.R.R. Tolkien. o.O I, uh…totally can’t see it, but thanks for the compliment, I Write Like! lol

The thing that really amused me about this was that – with the exception of the aforementioned fantasy epic – I tried multiple scenes of each work and got the same results regardless, so there must be something there that the site is seeing. Very interesting. Now if only I could glean some of the success of these famous authors! lol

On Discipline

They say that deep down all kids desire discipline. The idea is that young children can’t make reasonable, smart decisions for their own health, safety, and positive upbringing, so subconsciously they want us to do it for them. I’ve read about this time and time again in parenting magazines, on websites, and in the occasional newspaper article. I think it is, for lack of a more proper term, complete and utter b.s.

Yes children need discipline. There’s no argument about that. But no one, regardless of age, wants discipline.

Think about it logically for a moment. Say it’s bedtime. Your kid needs to go to bed or they won’t get enough sleep and will be cranky in the morning. But they want to stay up. Even if you could explain it logically and have the child completely understand where you’re coming from, telling them that they need to go to sleep isn’t going to make them want to go to sleep. You want to know how I know? Okay, now imagine yourself, staying up late doing something you really enjoy, whether it be playing video games, watching a movie, drinking with friends, or whatever. Your spouse/parent/friend/whoever comes up to you and says, “You really need to go to bed now, or you’re going to be worthless in the morning.” What is your reaction? If you answered, “I’d take their advice and go to bed, of course!” then you are absolutely in the minority. Most people, I’m willing to stake my reputation, would shoot a glare at the kill-joy and angrily state, “I’m a grown adult and I’ll go to bed when I want to.” Key word there: want.

We are creatures of ‘want’, every one of us. It’s nothing to get upset or argue about, it’s just the way we’re made. Logically we know that we need certain things (proper sleep, healthy food, etc), but other parts of our brain simultaneously tell us that we want certain things that conflict (to stay up late, junk food, etc). Similarly we want certain things (unnecessary expenditures, for example) even though we know damn well that we don’t need them and could exist perfectly fine without them.

So returning to the idea that kids want discipline. No, sorry, I refuse to believe that. Kids need discipline; no one wants discipline.

And that can make life difficult sometimes, even for adults. I’m going to use myself as an example because, hey, my blog:

I currently have two immediate goals. One is to finish editing my zombie novel so I can try to have it published, the other is to lose at least 30 lbs. Both require a good deal of discipline, and therein lay my problem.

It can be just as difficult to discipline yourself as it can be to discipline a child because a very large part of you simply doesn’t want to be disciplined. I tell myself that I need to do so much editing per day, but then I find something else I want to do more and the want outweighs the need…I go have fun instead of working. I tell myself that I need to take in fewer calories in order to lose weight, but I also want to eat that snack-cake and, oops, look, there it goes down my willpowerless throat. Sometimes I can almost agree with the claims that have been made about kidsĀ wanting discipline, because I imagine that if I had someone standing over me telling me exactly what to eat and when to work on my novel, all would be well. But then I realize that if I actually had such a person, I’d spend most of our time together struggling not to strangle them because, let’s face it, no one enjoys being told what to do. That’s why very few people have anything other than disdain for their immediate boss.

It all comes down to attitude and whether you’re able to set aside current ‘wants’ for future gains. As adults we have the ability to decide for ourselves…whether it was necessarily the right decision or the wrong one, at least it was ours. Small children are different. How do you explain to a toddler that she can’t have sweets for supper because it’s not healthy and she’ll get fat? You don’t, because in the toddler’s mind all she knows is that she wants the sweets and you’re not letting her have them, not letting her make the decision herself. Obviously we can’t allow such young children to make all their own decisions because, as previously mentioned, we are creatures of ‘want’, and that road leads to disaster. But we also have to be patient and understand where the kid is coming from. The next time you’re out at the mall and you hear a kid shrieking his head off because mommy won’t buy him toy he wants, think for a moment about how you’d feel if you wanted something and were told, for no other reason than “because I said so!”, that you couldn’t have it.

I bet you’d be pretty angry too.

All work and no play…something something.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past few months, it’s that you have to be willing to put in hard work and dedication if you want to accomplish something. I’m not the most hard-working or dedicated person in the world (ha!), but a few months ago I made a promise to myself that I was going to finish that damn zombie story if it killed me, and low and behold, I did it! With that same level of hard work and dedication I hope to, soon enough, edit the hell out of that story and get it published. Diligence!

But there’s one other thing I know for sure, and it’s this: sometimes you have to goof off too. Remember that thing about all work and no play? We all know how that turned out in The Shining, don’t we?

We all have to let loose every now and then, whether it be partying with friends, taking a trip, splurging on a treat for yourself, or whatever strikes your fancy. For me, I want to continue working on my zombie novel, but I also feel that I need (and deserve) to goof off a bit. That’s why I’m taking a couple of weeks to play around with my Final Fantasy fanfic. If there’s one thing that feels like goofing around to a writer, it’s writing your own version of a world that already exists.

Once I catch up to the point I left it off at (there were a few editing issues in the first couple of chapters), I’ll start posting it to FanFiction.net again and link it here. But for now, a question: what do you do to ‘goof off’ when you need a break from ‘hard work and dedication’?