Monthly Archives: July 2014

Birthday Resolutions

Each new year, millions of people rattle their brains for their New Years Eve resolutions.  I am one of these people. I love the idea of coming up with goals for the new year. Having those resolutions and a new year ahead gives the feeling of a fresh slate and it reinvigorates a lot of people to be the best versions of themselves. Well, I’m terrible at completing my resolutions. I will type them up and totally forget about them by the middle of the year.

Although it’s a little bit over halfway through the year, I am experiencing this again. I have let monotany set in and haven’t been focusing on those resolutions. A few weeks ago, I started to think of any occasions that could inspire change. Then, it hit me: birthdays. I know for me, every year someone will say “oh, another year older” and ask “do you feel any different?” Well, this year, I want to feel different and make turning another year older a true reason to celebrate. So I sat down and wrote down a list of resolutions, one resolution for every year that I have been alive. Not all of them are big, but they’re things that I have not done or would like to do again.

I decided to do this for a few reasons. As a writer, I find it very important to stay inspired and positive. I had been reading some articles about motivation and goal setting and I noticed that the happiest people are the ones who push themselves to constantly do new things. Not only will new experiences lead to inspiration, but they will also greatly increase a person’s quality of life.

My birthday was yesterday, July 30, and in honor of the occasion, I am going to share my top ten birthday resolutions. 

1. Travel to a place that I have never been before

2. Move to a new city

3. Train for and run in a 5K

4. Participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)

5. Visit friends who live far away

6. Find an organization and volunteer

7. Become conversationally fluent in Spanish

8. Learn how to play the ukulele

9. Cut and donate 8 inches of hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths

10. Get more organized

There you have it! I’m hoping that this list will not only reinspire me, but hopefully inspire any of you who may be looking to get out of a rut as well. While making this list, I realized that you don’t necessarily need to wait for an occasion to start your goals. Just start them! The sooner you set your mind to accomplishing something, the happier you will be.

Until next week,

Debbie

Blogging On Vacation

I absolutely love going on vacation. It’s always nice to get out of my daily routine and experience something new. There is only one downside of vacation: all productivity plummets.

If you have visited my blog before, you know that I always post a new blog post on Thursdays. Well, as my vacation came closer, I realized that I would be on vacation on Thursday. Now, this wouldn’t have been a problem if I was staying in a hotel with a business center and high speed Internet. I, however, realized that I would be at a relative’s house who lives in the middle of nowhere. No Internet, no cell service, nothing.

So, I knew I had a few options. I could write my blog post in advance and schedule for it to post on Thursday before I left for my trip.  I could also post it on the first leg of our trip, where we would at least get cell service. Well I definitely wish that I would have posted it before I went on vacation. I, of course, waited until the last minute to pack and ran out of time to post to my blog. Now I would have to quickly post before we were in the middle of nowhere.

On our first stop,we didn’t have any wifi. I couldn’t connect my Kindle Fire or my sister’s iPad to the Internet and the last electronic that I had to rely on was my iPhone.  I looked up WordPress on my phone and figured that if I could catch 3G, posting to my blog would be simple. I mean, I text on my phone so how hard could writing a post be?

Incredibly hard. I’m the type of writer who will type out everything that is on my mind and refine it later. Well, refining requires a lot of backspacing and trying to backspace on a laggy iPhone that is barely getting cell service is not the ideal way to blog. Not only was typing out the post difficult, but posting it was just as bad.

I got a lot of this:

image

And some of this:

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And a whole lot of lag.

I don’t even know how long it took me to complete this post. Did I learn anything from this? Absolutely. I learned that you should always post your blog posts before you leave for vacation, unless you KNOW that you will have Internet and a computer. I would suggest getting it done before you leave so you don’t have to stess about it on your trip. Yes, you may be able to formulate new ideas in a new environment, but save those ideas for when you’re home. Blogging on vacation is tough. Especially without a computer with Internet!

Until next week,

Debbie

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Self Publishing

For those of you who may not know, self publishing is when an author takes it upon him/herself to publish a literary work independently. Traditional publishing is when an author works with an agent in order to sign a contract with a publishing company. The publishing company will then publish the author’s work for them.

I decided a few months ago that I wanted to self publish my first novel, State of Exception, for many reasons. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to go when it comes to publishing, but here is my list of the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of self publishing. These are based on my own experiences and if you’ve had similar or different experiences, feel free to add in the comments.

The Good

One of the main reasons that I decided to go down the self publishing route is because of the control that I get over my work. I get to keep all of the rights to my novel and make virtually every decision when it comes to the publishing process. Whether it’s the name of the book, how much it costs, or what the cover looks like, I get the power to make those choices. Through traditional publishing, that would simply not be the case.

Time and efficiency are also two huge reasons why I decided to go with self publishing. State of Exception is my first novel, so I am literally starting from the bottom and working my way up. If I were to try and publish traditionally, a lot of time would pass before my book ever saw publication. First, I would need to secure a literary agent before I could even think of getting the attention of publishing houses. It sometimes takes agents weeks to respond to a simple query letter, so I can only imagine how long it may take before they offer representation. If I were to get an agent, I would then have to wait for that agent to shop my novel around to publishing houses. Then, I’d have to wait through negotiations, edits, and any other changes by the publishing house before any sort of production begins on the novel. I’m not exactly sure how long all this could take, but I’m sure it can take at least a year. I’ve heard of people waiting years just to secure a literary agent. Call me impatient, but I am much happier with self publishing. I can have my content published whenever I am ready and I don’t have to go through so many people to get it published.

The Bad

One of the biggest downsides of self publishing is that it does have a bit of a stigma attached to it. Some people have criticized self published books, arguing that the content can’t be nearly as good as the content in a traditionally published book. I think that as more self published authors become more recognized, this stigma will begin to fade. Until then, the stigma is definitely a slight negative.

Another downfall of self publishing is that you are your own marketing team. When you publish an e-book on Kindle, Amazon doesn’t send out press releases about it. You will be the only one in charge of promoting your book. Besides your family and friends, nobody else will know that your book even exists. 

The Ugly

So. Much. Formatting.

I think my least favorite part about the self publishing process is the formatting for different platforms. It’s not impossible, but it is tedious.

For someone who is self publishing for the first time, like me, there is also a lot of research to be done. I have a BA in Journalism with a concentration in Professional Writing so I figured that I was totally prepared to self publish. Well, I was wrong. There were so many little things that I needed to educate myself about before I was ready to self publish.

Lastly, you may need to make a small investment into your self publishing career. The only things that I spent money on were securing a domain name and my ISBNs. Still, some people spend hundreds of dollars on cover art, formatting, etc. I would definitely do some research because it’s always a little ugly when unexpected costs come up.

 

Well there you have it. So far, I would say that my self publishing experience has been an overall positive one. I’m releasing State of Exception on digital platforms Friday, July 18 and I am excited to see how my opinions of self publishing may change once my novel is officially published.

Until next week,

Debbie

 

Cover Art Reveal!

Hello everyone!

Last week, I wrote about my experience in taking the photos for the cover of my first novel, State of Exception. This week, I am incredibly excited to share that cover with you all! I ended up not using any of my original ideas and went out a few days ago to shoot some different photos.

It is original photography which means yes, I did stand out on the railroad tracks to take that picture. In fact, I had to wait for a train to pass by before I took this photo. Along with the photography, I did all of the photo editing and am pretty pleased with how the cover came out.

I am also happy to announce that the scheduled release date for State of Exception is Friday, July 18th. I will post updates with any new information about the release and can’t wait to share my work with everyone!

Until next week,

Debbie

The Beauty of Cover Art

Happy almost 4th of July, everyone!

In honor of Independence Day, I would like to share with you my latest venture that I am embarking upon independently. The venture that I am referring to is creating the cover art for my first novel, which is to be released later this month. I have working knowledge of Photoshop and although I’m not a professional photographer, I do own a camera, so I figured that I could do the cover myself. To be totally honest, this was the first time I’ve ever shot cover art and it wasn’t all that pretty.

I decided that I wanted to take all of my photos outside. Without spoiling anything about my novel, my characters spend a large amount of time outdoors. Soon, I had multiple ideas of places to shoot and what I could incorporate into the shot. In some, I wanted to just feature the woods and scenery. In others, I wanted a few buildings to peek over the trees. Lastly, I wanted to experiment by portraying my main character in the shot as well. I wanted the main character to be far away from the camera with her back turned. Without sounding terribly narcissistic, I decided that I could feature myself in the shot since I didn’t know of anyone who would be available on such short notice.

As I prepared for the next day, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to take the picture and be in the picture. I recruited my younger sister to take the pictures that I would be in and she seemed more than happy to help. That evening while I was charging my camera batteries and checking my memory card, I also began to think of what I was going to wear. Again, the main character was not meant to be the main focal point and it would be a far away shot of the back of her. Still, I needed to wear something similar to what the main character wore in the book.

That’s when I realized something horrible. The characters in my novel are always dressed in sweaters and jeans because of the colder weather that is described in the book. I was about to take these pictures in Texas… in the middle of summer. I checked the weather forecast for the next day and the high was 96*F and sunny.

Much to my dismay, the weather forecast was correct. As my sister and I biked down the trails to the perfect spot, I was sweating through my jeans. I had brought a backpack with me so that I could keep the sweatshirt off as long as possible. When the time came to put the sweatshirt on, I felt like I was in a sauna. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever sweat that much in my life. It wasn’t long until I was out of that sweatshirt and back behind the camera.

We were out about two hours in total, and I’m very happy with the photos. Although I’m not sure if I will use the photos that I sweat so much in, I’m confident that my cover art is in on my memory card somewhere.

For all of you who are considering taking your own photos for your cover art, I say go for it. I had a lot of fun taking my photos and I would definitely do it again. Since I’m not a professional photographer, my only advice for taking photos for your cover is simple.

Always mind the weather and never shoot a winter shot in the middle of summer. Ever.

Until next week,
Debbie