Where does the time go?

Sorry I’ve been so absent from the blog, lately!

Truth is, I’m still working – figuring things out, finally – and also taking on a few little fun projects.

I’ll update soon!

Thanks for hanging in!

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Sam Searches – III. The First Chapter

Advice for writing the first chapter

This search is a little different from the others. Less about a particular topic that might be useful to your writing, I figured I’d compile some resources on writing that dreaded first chapter.

Every author, every story, is different. These are more like “guidelines” than rules, but they should help you better explore the beginning of your work.

If you have more resources to add, please comment below! Thanks for reading and sharing.

srm

What to Do

What to Avoid

Other

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Sam Searches – II. The Effects of Child Abuse

Resources on the effects of child abuse

They say, “Write what you know!” But they forget to add, “Learn what you don’t!” For writers, thorough research is absolutely integral.

Inspired by this post and my own need for research on this subject, I’ve dug into the awful world of abuse. Child abuse is unfortunately very common and it does permeate our media despite being a sort of creative taboo. Of course, no subject is off limits in creative endeavours, but we must do it justice. If a character in your work is being abused or has been abused, you will need some resources to help you portray their experiences as accurately and respectfully as possible. Here are a few to get you started.

Feel free to reblog with your own resources, or check out other sam searches for different research topics.

srm

General Information

Effects of Abuse

First-hand Accounts

  • Child Abuse Stories – First-hand stories submitted to Child Abuse Effects. Stories of healing and recovery, as well.
  • Children’s Stories – Accounts of abuse from children, provided by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
  • Personal Stories – Personal stories from Childhelp

More Resources

  • Books on Child Abuse – Books and stories on Goodreads tagged as featuring child abuse. Some are fiction, some are memoir.

For American and Canadian readers – 1-800-422-4453 is the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline. NOT a writer’s resource, but a 24/7 hotline for counselling, encouragement, and direction for reporting abuse.

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TUEBL – The Ultimate eBook Library

Um, hi.

So, something remarkable happened to me today and I really wanted to share it with everyone. This thing that happened to me is called TUEBL. The Ultimate eBook Library. And dang, friends, is it cool.

Now, I’m a huge fan of literature in all forms. I love visiting the library and bringing home those physical copies, but since working in school and public libraries, I’ve developed a serious love for eBooks and audiobooks, as well. So long as people are reading (and I have something interesting to read), I’m a happy camper.

The best thing about digital media, though, is how accessible it is. I worked for a branch that, before its renovation, had once been nothing more than a bookmobile. Aside from a video store, a school, a grocery store, and a few restaurants, there wasn’t much to this place, so the library was a wellspring of entertainment and resources. The point being, it’s easy for me to think of a place where the closest library is 20 miles away. Free resources are great, but only great for those who can get to them. In the digital age, all it takes is an Internet connection to have the world at your fingertips.

And TUEBL makes it even easier.

I love OverDrive, but it requires a library membership. TUEBL makes countless eBooks available for free – and it’s entirely legitimate. As authors realise they can improve readership by making their books available to a curious audience that may not be willing to commit to a purchase, they are seeking new ways to offer the fruits of their labour. So they partner with TUEBL. eBooks for free in exchange for a greater reach, analytics, and user feedback. It’s the kind of rare sweet deal that really benefits everyone involved.

So have a look for yourself, give it a try. Share the good news with a friend. And let’s hope these mutually-beneficial relationships continue to blossom. Sometimes we can lose the wonder of creating new worlds and telling beautiful stories when we’re too focused on making $2.50 on a Kindle sale.

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Sam Searches – i. Karst & Caves

Sam searches karst and caves

They say, “Write what you know!” But they forget to add, “Learn what you don’t!” For writers, thorough research is absolutely integral. Sometimes I catch myself needing to become an expert on something I didn’t even know existed! Maybe my bizarre explorations of our world can help your writing, too.

Today, karst and caves!

srm

Karst & Caves

Flora & Fauna

Images

(my content – reposted from tumblr)

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It’s Official: I’m Self-Employed

As I’ve mentioned before here, the library desk job I had maintained since early December of 2013 was not at all the end-all-be-all I figured it would be at the start. Being my first full-time benefitted job, it served me well for many months, but as more time passed I simply found myself underpaid and seldom stimulated. By summer, I was seeking alternatives to kickstart my writing career and to help me move in a direction more conducive to my skill set.

I started writing for Blogmutt and Textbroker in July, sometimes from home and sometimes while at work, as a temporary location change made multitasking in such a way very easy. Realizing the potential income and the freedom I would see at selecting my own hours and meeting my own quotas, I began planning my exit strategy.

The original plan had been to hold out through the end of December, when I would quit just shy of my holiday trip to Scotland. Upon my return, I would dive into working from home full-time.

But, as plans sometimes do, everything fell apart just a few weeks ago. My car, a pathetic 1991 Honda Accord with over 250k miles on it and a slew of problems, fell gravely ill. The repairs were due to cost me almost as much as purchasing the car had. With a near 20 mile commute in an hour’s worth of traffic each way, I was left with no other option: I had to quit.

So I pushed forward with my plan as best as I could. After a few torrential weeks of trying to get my ducks in a row, finishing up everything I had at my desk job, I’m now in the writing game as my primary means of income. And let me tell you: It’s working pretty well thus far. With what I made in brief stints over summer combined with my projected income from this week alone, I already have half of my bills covered. I have the energy to do the things I enjoy, like reading and writing for my own creative edification. I get to spend the days with my boyfriend, sharing meals where I would usually go without eating. I get to take breaks whenever I need or want them, the only phone I answer is mine, the only person I have to answer to is myself, and the work is all mine. I never have to go above and beyond for no recognition, I never have to stay late against my will. I don’t cry when I wake up in the mornings, and I don’t dread every weekday.

In all, though my freelance career has just begun, it’s been one of the most effective changes my life has ever seen.

It’s only a matter of time before the routine establishes itself in the most efficient way, and I’m so excited to begin balancing freelance work with writing my novel. Now, I may actually finish it just after returning from Scotland in January.

The pay cut is intense, but eliminating the expenses that come with having a car will certainly soften the blow. And for what it’s worth, I’d rather be happy and make just enough to live than keep making money I can’t spend due to crippling depression.

So don’t let anyone tell you it’s impossible. Writing as a career isn’t easy and it entails a lot of strange sacrifice, but money doesn’t necessarily mean leading an enriching life. Do what excites you, what fuels your passions. Life isn’t worth living if it’s all about leaping from one money-maker to the next expecting one to finally lead you to joy.

And if you or anyone you know has a small business and is looking for quality site or blog content (on literally any subject; I’m a very fast learner), please contact me. My rates are reasonable and flexible!

And to the rest of you: Happy writing!

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Obstacles, Large and Small

Fall is just about here and my heart is in a perpetual state of ache.

This time of year has always been my favorite as it seems to elicit some sort of dreamy longing, forcing me to act and act passionately before winter consumes everything. The world dies, and I can finally be creative– it’s pretty sick and twisted, and the limitation is a little outrageous, but it’s true.

This year is no exception in regards to the feelings, but the part where I must act and act passionately has been stifled and smothered by the wet wool sock I like to call “work.”

I am not worked to the bone. I experience very little work-related stress. I help people sometimes and do my boss’ busy work the rest of the time. It’s calm. It’s easy. But it’s killing me.

Doesn’t help that the commute is an awful one: one hour each way, into the sun in the morning, into the sun in the afternoon, in a realm where men and women view 45mph speed limit signs as “guidelines,” bumper-to-bumper traffic one direction, seven thousand stoplights the other, all while my car is on the verge of breaking down.

The truth of the matter is this: I dedicate 50 hours of my time per week, over $400 of my gross monthly paycheck (to taxes and “benefits”), over $100 of my net paycheck (to gas for the 2hr/day commute), and 80%-90% of my sanity to being bored. I go home, collapse on the couch, turn off my brain, go to sleep, wake up the next morning and dedicate more time and money to being bored. This is what being a “responsible adult” has brought to me.

There is a light down the tunnel, however! December will be the end. I’ve been counting down the days for months, now, but it’s starting to feel real. Days are getting colder, my car is about to keel over, I can count in terms of weeks rather than months. No doubt, I have to start making arrangements…

But wait! No, stupid! I need to be writing!

“Relic” has the potential to be a huge hit, and I’m not just tooting my own horn. The concept of “New Adult” alternative-world fantasy with Caribbean Gothic undertones isn’t one I’ve heard of in recent times, but those who have read the story as it stands are enamored, or at the very least intrigued. Only a few drafts in, I know the story and characters are there, but pouring the words out has become increasingly difficult. I’m at a point where I have to bank on myself, on my ideas, on the people and places I’ve created, to tell the story as it begs to be told. But after 8 hours of staring at a computer I hate, at a desk I hate, in a chair I hate, in a room I hate, at the job that bores me to tears, I can hardly stand to feel my fingers across my keyboard once I get home.

The time will come, once again, when my writing will not be stopped. But the further I slip into this depression, the more reluctant I feel, and the more reluctant I feel, the more depressed I become. Every waking moment is another obstacle to overcome, a hurdle to jump, one foot in front of the other until December when I can end this soul-suck.

I can’t wait that long, so the next best thing to intrinsic motivation is an external stimulus. I tried to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo this year, but it didn’t really work out. However, traditional NaNoWriMo is on the horizon just as well. What better way to send off the job that has destroyed me and start running head-first into writing full-time than to complete 50k words on “Relic”?

I had originally planned to have “Relic” completed by December, but recent changes and suggestions by beta readers have prompted me into rewriting all together, pushing my deadline back by quite a bit. I was thinking “next summer” as a deadline, but now I realize that there is no excuse to not have something close to done by the end of February.

October for planning: To keep my creative juices flowing, and to construct a proper outline.

November for writing: Daily goals implemented by NaNoWriMo will keep me going, and I know I can do it– I’ve won NaNoWriMo once before.

December for life and love: With quitting my job and a trip to Scotland in there somewhere, I’ve gotta take some time to love me, to love my boyfriend, and to fall in love with life and my own work ethic again. December is for living, experiencing, feeling, so I can put all of that joy and life back into my writing.

January to finish the new draft: To finish and to polish. Working in Scriviner now means I don’t have to toil over rewrites and edits. Everything should be easily accessible and easily changed.

February for final drafts: To rework it all where it needs reworking and otherwise to let it rest.

It will take a lot of forceful thought on my part, but I can’t sit and struggle for breath when all I have to do is stand to reach the surface again. I’ve only had a few dry weeks, but I’m feeling the effects of my lack of creativity. I want so badly to pretend counting the days will help, but it’s making the days count, instead, that will serve my purpose best.

To those of you who read: Thanks for bearing with me this long. This post turned more into personal word-vomit than anything helpful or informative, but I had to look at it from a different angle, voice it more securely, see it written in front of me.

I’m tired of wasting away. If I’m to put everything I have into writing, I can’t very well run on empty.

/rant

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Free eBook Covers for a Limited Time!

Graphic design has always been a little hobby of mine.

Recently, I’ve put my Photoshop skills to use in designing a book cover for my upcoming NA Fantasy, “Relic,” and have volunteered to create eCovers for a few others in a handful of Facebook writing groups. I do it because it’s fun, I can justify to myself that I’m doing something “productive” for my craft without actually having to write or edit anything, and it gets me connected to authors and stories I may have otherwise not known of.

But with enough praise and demand, I thought maybe I could start charging. I’ve seen others shell out creations for $25-$50 a pop, but I just couldn’t stomach charging up-and-coming writers so much for something I’ve been doing for free for so long. So, I thought I’d start at $2. That’s right. $2. Of course, that’s for “the basics,” but my maximum price is $15 for two complex covers to choose from. Sound too good to be true? My hope is that enough people will feel that way to really give me a wave of business to ride. If not, then I’ll hopefully make a few bucks with another very-part-time hobby. Not so bad.

And while I build my portfolio a bit more, I’m still offering one FREE basic cover to new customers. So what do you have to lose?

If you want an eCover for your latest novel, or for your very first Wattpad creation, or anything in between, why not give me a shot? And tell your friends! I’m no professional, but I think the work speaks for itself. Check out my Facebook Page for more information.

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Camp NaNoWriMo Failed Again! … Or Did It?

Last month, I tentatively accepted the “challenge” of Camp NaNoWriMo. For those of you unfamiliar, it is simply a summer-time version of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which takes place each November, the “goal” being to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

I accepted the challenge, and I failed.

But how much can one fail at something self-paced?

Ultimately, I got a couple thousand words written on one project, nearly one thousand on another, refined a second draft of the first 1/4 of a WIP novel, accepted a handful of very helpful beta readers, redefined the “genre” of one project, joined several (very) beneficial writing groups, created a digital book cover, and unveiled a few plot twists even I didn’t know were coming.

This is what I love about the NaNoWriMo institution. It allows you to set a goal. It prompts you to keep going when the going gets tough. It creates atmosphere for you to brainstorm with other users and even to utilize some of the great ideas that aren’t being used (with full consent of the original creator). It gives you insight from other authors– some very successful, others just seeing the first results of their accomplishments.

I prefer the November writing to the summer writing. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the holidays, maybe it’s tradition– I really don’t know.

But Camp helped me figure a lot out, it coaxed me into working on aspects I hadn’t considered.

So maybe I failed at the original goal I’d set for myself (25k words on a new project), but it sure rocked.

Really looking forward to November. No one needs an excuse to write, but sometimes it’s really the best kick in the pants possible.

Kudos to all of you who participated, those of you who reached your goals, and those of you who have been inspired.

Write on!

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“Relic” Finally Has a Face — Er… A Cover

It’s been ages since I’ve updated the ol’ blog, but between my constant loathing for my day job and trying to build upon this platform of mine, I’ve been busying myself with writers’ groups, discussing my manuscript with beta readers, and occasionally procrastinating the “writing” part by supplementing with other creative endeavors somehow related to my novels.

My most recent adventure has been in learning new techniques in Photoshop to create a wholly unique (e)Book cover for “Relic” free of all copyright-infringement worry and hopefully eye-catching enough to spark an interest in the content. I share this now with you!

relicmark8.5.14

Obviously the watermark won’t remain after publication (should that ever happen), but it’s just for my sound of mind, now.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

And if you’re interested in having a cover created for your project, please don’t hesitate to contact me. As with my freelance writing, I’m flexible with pricing based on your needs.

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