Writing Tips

Authors Vs. Trolls- How to rise above the hate

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Image courtesy of Eirikso via Flickr Creative Commons.

We all know what trolls are. They’re those green ugly creatures that lurk beneath bridges and demand your first born child in exchange for safe passage. Or maybe we think of them as naked little dolls with cotton-candy hair that people used to stick on their car dashes back in the eighties. Right?

Well, technically yes. But today we’re discussing an entirely different beast altogether: The Internet troll.

Internet trolls are a certain breed of human whose main goal is to disrupt the harmonious flow of the interwebs with their nasty and inflammatory words. There are many different types of trolls, and they don’t necessarily have to be on the Internet to qualify as such. A troll can lurk in your personal life as well. Heck, a troll could be a friend or a family member even, but we’ll get to that in a bit. For now, let’s focus on the parasitic haters we come across while on the Internet.

As authors (or artists and creatives alike), our workplace is the Internet. It’s where we take our lunch breaks and gather around the digital water cooler to discuss Bob’s new haircut or Amy’s awesome new novella. It’s our happy place, one which is our escape from the thousands of words we’re writing per day. You are writing thousands of words per day, right? ūüėČ

Anyhow, whether you are merely taking a 5-minute bathroom break to peruse your facebook app, or have closed up your manuscript for the night to join your friends on instagram, the last thing you want is to encounter a troll in your happy place. But it can and most likely will happen, if it hasn’t already. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but trolls are everywhere.
They may not be big and scaley, with bad breath and a hankering for your most valuable possessions, but they are focused on sabotage and have no regard or respect for the feelings of others.
Let’s talk about different scenarios in which you might find yourself in the metaphorical break room with an internet troll. Let’s also discuss how to handle the hate.

1. Groups or Forums.

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Image courtesy of Martin Canchola via Flickr Creative Commos.

If you’re an author, and you haven’t been hiding in a cave for the last 10 years, then you are probably in some sort of online group or community. Maybe even a local group where you meet in person. Let’s face it: authoring is a lonely business and we need adult interaction just like any other hard-working human being. And that’s great! Keep involving yourself in the literary community as much as possible. It will help you grow as a writer and become a better business person. But unfortunately, these groups and forums are the perfect breeding grounds for trolls and bullies, which are really one in the same.
So let’s pretend you’re in your happy little author group on Facebook, or your favorite KBoards forum, and you have a totally awesome epiphany. You post this:

Hey Guys! I have a new story idea. What do you think about a young woman who gets an interview with a sparkly billionaire vampire who’s into whips and chains and never ages? It’s so original, right? I think I’m going to call it… wait for it… “Fifty Shades of Twilight!”

Erm. Cringe? Well, let’s hope you’re a bit more original than this, but that’s not the point. The point is that there’s a hater just waiting to jump in and attack you. In enters troll:

What kind of idea is that? It’s terrible! It has no fan base and you’ll never sell a single book. You should just go ahead and jump off a cliff. Vampires don’t even sparkle. That’s just stupid. Jeez. You should quit writing because clearly, you’re not cut out for it. And because of your clear lack of literary knowledge, I will be forced to spread the word about you and tell everyone how much you suck. I’m also going to need to gather my troll minions so we can light torches and storm your castle of confidence.

Okay, so this may not be a super realistic scenario, but you get my gist.

Trolls LOVE to HATE.

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Image courtesy of Genista via Flickr Creative Commons.

They love to make you feel like dirt and the worms that crawl beneath it. It is their sole purpose to make you feel bad about yourself, because they are obviously insecure bullies who feel the need to flash their egotistical tale feathers. Well, I have some news for you. Trolls will go away if ignored. BUT, on the other hand, they will grow bigger when you feed them fuel. And troll fuel is a response from you. That’s what they want; a reaction. This is what NOT to do:

Hey, you big jerk! That’s not cool. Not nice at all. You shouldn’t talk to people like that!

Nope. Don’t do it. Don’t you dare reach for those vengeful tomatoes and start throwing back. Because the minute you feed the troll, it gets bigger. My advice- DO NOT ENGAGE.

Ignore. Ignore. Ignore.

With that being said, in a perfect world, most of your fellow colleagues should be able to sniff out a troll like rotting meat in the fridge. And more than likely, they will come to your aid. But, also, be prepared for no one to say anything at all. Fear might be a factor. Your buddies may not want to get involved in what looks like the beginning of WWIII. And you, yourself, do not want to get further involved either. If you do, it will not only wear down your creativity and distract you from what’s important- creating- but your engaging could cause other problems to arise. The troll may take further steps to destroy your online presence, by gathering torch-weilding followers and stalking your personal spaces. It could go as far as the troll finding your book on Amazon and leaving a nasty review. And that brings me to our next scenario of where you might encounter a troll.

2. Public lashback/Bad reviews

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Image courtesy of Mike Steele via Flickr Creative Commons.

I have an author friend of mine who has suffered the worst type of trolling. It is a trolling so hateful and cruel that it targets your very heart- your life’s work and your livelihood. It’s so hateful that one would think it could affect your reputation, your readers, and also your paycheck. But I’ll get to that in a moment.
This trolling is something I call Public defamation or lashback. It mostly comes in the form of bad reviews on a widely viewed website.

A while ago, my colleague befriended someone overseas. For the sake of anonymity, let’s call this person Douchebag, an appropriately fitting alias.
Anyway, Douchebag was a like-minded creative and hit it off with my friend immediately. Douchebag had a rough life in his land far away and wanted so desperately to come to the United States and try his hand in the land of the free. My friend, being the kind and generous person she was, offered up her home, a warm couch to sleep on, and enough home-cooked meals to get him back on his feet.
Douchebag, of course being Douchebag, took her up on this offer and moved in. A few months later, Douchebag’s butt-prints began to permanently mark up her couch, and my friend had had enough. I don’t blame her. She asked him to leave, but it didn’t end well.
Well, what do you think happened seeing that Douchebag’s feelings were hurt and he knew my friend was an author?

Exactly. Public lashback.

Not only did Douchebag leave a bad review of my friend’s book on Amazon, but employed his cronies to follow suit. These reviews were nothing about the book and everything about publically defaming my friend’s character by way of a personal vendetta.

You must be thinking “What?! But he can’t do that! How can he leave a book review when it has nothing to do with the book?”
But he can and he did. And whether Amazon took down the reviews for being unfair attacks, I’m not sure yet. But what I can tell you is that trolls can come in all shapes and sizes- whether in the form of a stranger on the Internet or an unsuspected friend.
But how can we handle such a problem should it arise? Can you take a guess?
Yup.

DO NOT ENGAGE.

If you receive an unfair review from a troll, do not respond. First off, it will only make matters worse and give the troll more ammunition. Second, it will make you look unprofessional and whiney. The best you can do in this situation is report the troll to Amazon and sit back and let karma do her job. And don’t worry about one or two bad reviews. Every book has bad reviews. Yes, even the great Stephen King himself has some crappy feedback.
And in all honesty, you should actually be thanking the troll for upping your number of reviews. Regardless if it’s a 1 or 5 star rating, Amazon doesn’t notice. What they DO notice is that your book is gaining more reviews, thus increasing the algorithms that bump up your visibility. And that’s what our main goal is, right? Visibility is key.
So thank your local review troll for helping you sell more books. (Don’t actually thank them. You can do that in your head.)

Next up…

3. Blogs

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Image courtesy of swong95765 via Flickr Creative Commons.

Blogs are places we like to be. We choose to either write or read blogs to gain knowledge on topics we enjoy. Whether it be a blog about parenting, writing, or underwater basket-weaving, a blog is a beautiful place. It’s the modern form of a personalized newspaper and magazine all rolled into one. But when the trolls come out to play blogs can get ugly. And Fast.

What starts out as a simple disagreement on a certain topic can turn into a ranting argument with thousands of witnesses to watch the blood bath. This is nothing new. Bloggers have been blogging since 1994, and trolls have been around even longer.

Remember the 1984 movie Gremlins?

Do not give them water, light, or feed them after midnight, or they will turn from a cute and cuddly Beanie Boo into a Tyrannosaurus Rex with wings and a hankering for flesh.

This is the simplified version of a troll. Trolls LOVE to HATE and there is a bit of pshychology beneath it. Aside from being narcissistic and possibly psychotic, trolls are attention whores and will commit nothing short of murder to get a reaction from you, especially if you are a noted blogger with a large online presence.

Again, do not engage, especially if you have something to lose, like a large following of readers. The good thing is, if you do write a blog, there’s a neat little function that you can enable to protect yourself and your readers. It’s called administrative approval. It’s where the blogger must approve all comments before they go public, which is an easy way to nip trolling in the bud. And that brings us to my next topic…

4. Family

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Jade hugging a beloved family member. No, my teeth are not that yellow. I blame the lighting. ūüėČ

I know it sounds crazy, and you’re probably wondering how you could possibly be related to a troll. But remember, trolls come in all shapes and sizes and are sneaky to boot. So here’s a little story to clarify the fact that you might personally have a troll in your life and not even know it.

Professionally, I started writing seven years ago. It was my first novel and I was so excited to become the next J.K. Rowling. I read craft books on writing and took advice from literary geniuses. I outlined, drafted, and created character bios. I wrote day and night until my eyes were bloodshot and fingertips raw from pounding away at the keyboard. I had it all together, or at least this is what I thought. What I never realized was there was a troll in my life, just waiting to tear me down a notch or two. This person was a relative by marriage and someone I thought would always have my back. Until they showed their true troll colors. Once my book was published and I didn’t immediately hit the NY Times Bestsellers List, these are some of the things this person would say to me.

Oh, how’s your little writing hobby going?

You’re still writing? I thought you gave that up a while ago.

Obviously, writing is not your true calling. But don’t worry, you can always go back to waiting tables.

And the commentary went on and on, some of the cut-downs so harsh, I will not relive them by posting them here. But we all have one of THOSE in our lives, that person who- whether they know it or not- does not support or understand your passion. They may not LOOK like a troll, or WALK like a troll, but they ARE definitely a TROLL.

I made the mistake of trying to explain to this in-law troll that writing is a marathon, not a race, and it takes time to build an empire, but my explanation fell upon deaf ears. If I could go back and give myself advice when handling a personal troll, it would be, yet again, DO NOT ENGAGE. Smile and nod. Change the subject. Keep on keeping on.

Looking back, I’m still not sure if this person really had my best intentions at heart, or if they were green with jealousy. In all honesty, it was probably a mixture of both. But that was seven years and 12 published books ago. And now, with a climbing income and a substantial fan base, I don’t hear comments of that nature anymore. At least, not from that troll, er, person.

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So, as you can see, we all have trolls. Whether they have materialized from the Internet or social media, or are hiding in a friend’s or family member’s facade, they are still out there, just waiting for a glimpse of weakness.

My best advice to you is to stay strong. Walk away. Look the other direction. And most importantly of all, do not engage.

Yet if- even after my sage advice- you still find yourself itching to respond, kill the troll with kindness. Say sweet and flowery things. Embrace them with your love and understanding. Their tiny grinch heart just might expand a notch or two. And you might just find a fluffy Beanie Boo instead of a scaly dinosaur.

A troll can either tear you down, or help you lift yourself up. Which one will it be for you?

Have you ever encountered a troll? Was it a stranger or someone close to you? How did you handle the situation?

I’d love to hear your stories! And because I’m a little bit awesome, I will pick one comment and feature that person’s story on my blog.

Give it a go! Let’s knock down those trolls and lift ourselves up! Keep on keeping on, my fellow writers. Because if nothing else, we ROCK.

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Categories: Writing Tips | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

HOW I SELF PUBLISHED WITH AMAZON’S KINDLE AND CREATE SPACE

Many people are turning to self publishing rather than the traditional publishing. I am not here to fight for one side or the other (I respect everyone’s choice to do what they think best), but I am going to explain in steps, how I self published with Amazon’s Kindle and Create Space.

You, like many people, may be trying to make that choice right now, and believe me I spent many sleepless nights tossing and turning over what I should do. And here’s the one and only reason I chose self-publishing over traditional. I’M IMPATIENT. Haha! There it is in a nutshell. There’s no big magical secret or right way or wrong way, it just comes down to time and patience (and of course being a good writer.) After LOTS of research, I came to the conclusion that it can, and in most cases, will take a VERY long time to even get accepted by an agent and then a publisher and it can be years before your book is available to buy. There also may be better financial benefits for self-pubs as opposed to traditional.¬†But I will say it¬†again, I am not here to get into the heated debate¬†that lots of loyal indie authors and trad¬†authors tend to get into.¬† I have never even submitted my manuscript to a literary agent or publisher (although I spent days upon days¬†compiling lists of¬†recommended¬†ones¬†so I could do just that.) A good site to do this at is Preditors and Editors, here http://pred-ed.com/.

Anyway back to the point. I chose self publishing, and I chose to do that with Kindle Direct Publishing and Amazon’s Create Space. For you newbies out there, Kindle is the digital e-book version that people purchase¬†on their¬†kindle,¬†and CreateSpace is the paperback version people can order and hold in their hands.

Now that brings us to another point. Kindle and CreateSpace¬†are just one in MANY options. There’s Smashwords, which¬†is highly recommend as well, for they distribute to lots of different e-readers and distributors¬†like Barnes and Noble, Nook, Kobo, Sony, IPad,etc. There’s also LULU and Lightning Source which will distribute your hardback or paperback books. The list could go on and on. (Thus, many more sleepless nights trying to decide.)

BUT, alas I had decided, and I will discuss my journey thus far and the steps you need to take to get there.

STEP 1. Have a completed book. YES, it must be all the way finished and edited over and over¬†to a squeaky clean! Do NOT try to edit it by yourself. That is just asking for a disaster. Even editors don’t edit their own books, because your mind becomes fickle, missing your own errors over and over. So make sure your book is at it’s best before you even think about submitting it to be published. Some authors go even as far as having beta readers. They will give you feedback on things that you may overlook in the whole scheme of your story, things that don’t make sense to them, things that may not flow right, missed plot opportunities, what they do and don’t like etc.

STEP 1a. If you are doing a paperback and/or hardback book, don’t forget your book blurb for the back cover, author bio, and author picture. I took a look at some of my favorite author’s blurbs (one’s in my same genre) to help me write my own. Keep it short and sweet (only a couple of paragraphs) but make it irresistible. Why would the reader want to pick up your book and read it? Make sure they really want to without giving away any secrets or the ending of your book. Create suspense.¬†Don’t put too much into your author bio or make it too long to where the reader looses interest. I chose to go a little more fun and quirky with mine, as I’m targeting young adults and teens. You will want your editor to take a look at your blurb as well. Have a nice author pic taken professionally or by a friend that can use as camera. ūüėÄ

STEP 2. After editing is completed then you need to get your manuscript formatted into the proper files. There’s .epub¬†for Nook, .mobi¬†for kindle and PDF for paperback. Research where you will have your book published (nook, kindle, kobo, sony¬†etc) and find out which formats you need to do so. For me, hiring a formatter for minimal cost was the best option. Some¬†authors who are technically gifted -or¬†brave, as I like to think they are-¬†use Calibre or other formatting software to format their own. I tried to do it myself, and alas, it was more stress and not worth it for me. That’s your choice.

STEP 3.¬†Cover design. Step 2 & 3 can be done¬†simultaneously (sort of.) Let me explain. If you decide to hire a book cover designer, they can go ahead and start on your ebook¬†cover. An ebook¬†lacks the back cover and binding. Now for your paperback and/or hardback cover, you will need to have your manuscript PDF file completely formatted and finished, because the designer needs to know the exact¬†page count before finishing your paperback cover. The page count WILL change as you change the formatting. The designer will also need to know a few other specs of your choosing, like book size, paper color, white, cream etc. I found these options through Amazon’s Create Space where I had my paperback done. Check these options thoroughly, because some are limited and will not allow you to distribute through libraries, expanded distribution, etc. Choose your options and hand them over to your designer along with the final page count of your paperback/hardback and leave the rest to them. Again, some authors choose to design their own covers and there is also an option on Createspace to design your own. Some of these are pretty general and generic but you may find something you like and may want to keep it simple.

STEP 4. Research pricing. If you price your book at $0.99 or $1.99 (these prices are pretty good for shorter stories) you will only get 35% profit from your sales. If you price your book at $2.99 and above you will get %70. I suggest perusing through Amazon and check out books that are similar to yours. Look at how they are pricing their books. There are many different theories on pricing. Some say that you will sell more at $0.99 but then you have look at what you will be getting. Pennies, really. BUT if you sell A LOT, that can add up rather quickly. Some say it is better to price your book a bit higher between 2.99¬† and 4.99 because it makes the reader actually think about their purchase. If they have to think about their purchase, your book is probably something they really want to read, therefore the chances of them liking it and leaving a good review or suggesting it to others is higher. If it’s $0.99 they may just buy it because its cheap, and therefore it may not be what they usually read and could end up causing a bad review from the buyer that reflects back onto your book. Some people say you should price higher because you want the quality of your book to be reflected in the price, if it is cheap will the buyer think your book is cheaply written as well?

STEP 5. Almost done! After you get back your formatted files and book cover files, you will submit these to KDP¬†(Kindle Direct Publishing) and Createspace, or Smashwords¬†and any other publisher you wish to go through. I can only speak for KDP¬†and Createspace, as that is as far as I’ve gone thus far. You will have a nice long set-up process, to where you are asked to add your book title, files,¬†contributors (editor, illustrator, etc.), your book description(blurb) and other details. Make sure there are NO errors here, as this will be the info that the consumers will see on Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc. After you upload your¬†book files there will be an option for an online preview¬†for kindle. Check this thoroughly to make sure the formatting is correct and everything is in place.¬†There will also be a proof process for Createspace. I highly suggest ordering a proof of your paperback to be sent to your house that way you can make sure everything is how it should be. ¬†You will then need to set up your distribution details, prices, etc. Don’t¬†hit the publish button on the day you¬†you’ve announced your release.¬†Set your release date (for marketing purposes) a few¬†weeks from¬†publishing to make sure everything is ready.¬†Even though I hit the publish button, I did not announce the release for a couple more weeks, as to make sure the paperback and ebook¬†were both available. The paperback takes longer than the ebook. Once you hit the publish button, KDP¬†will tell you it will be about 12-24 hours before your book is available. This is pretty accurate. You will then receive an email saying “Congratulations for publishing with KDP! Your book is now available here!”¬†Yay for you! But wait! What about your paperback?¬†After you hit the dreaded publish button on Createspace, they will tell you it will be about 5-7 days before it goes live. This, again, is pretty accurate. Mine was live in 5 days. But they won’t send you an e-mail. You just need to go to Amazon and search your book¬†title and author name to see when it pops up. And because this is not an exact science and things change, errors are found, and¬†goodness knows what else, that is why I suggest giving yourself an ample amount of time in between hitting the publish button and actually having your release date/book release party.

STEP 6. Write you next book! Yes that is the best piece of advice I can give you. You can market until you’re blue in the face and shout from the top of the walls “BUY MY BOOK!” but this will only give a temporary rise in sales. To keep the longevity of sales and to keep your name in people’s faces you need to keep writing.

Good luck to you in your self-publishing journey! I am still learning myself, and do not know everything, but please feel free to leave a comment and ask any questions or leave a suggestion of something I may have not covered. We, as humans, are continuously learning, and if there’s one thing I’ve gotten from self-publishing, it’s pay it forward. I’ve had many people answering my questions and helping me along the way and¬†I’d love to pass on that knowledge to others.

Categories: Writing Tips | Tags: , , , , , , | 23 Comments

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE? INDIE-PUBLISHING WITH CREATE SPACE AND KINDLE DIRECT PUBLISHING.

Throughout the whole writing and indie-publishing process¬†of my first novel there was an ever-present question in the back of my mind…”How long?” ¬†How long will it take me to write my novel? How long does it take for it¬†to get edited? How long from the point of finishing my novel until it gets published? How long does it take Amazon to have my book live for sale? How long? How long? How long? I don’t know why this was so important to me or why I even cared except for the fact that I am a person that likes deadlines and guidelines and rules, etc. because it helps me to become that much more motivated. And it’s also very exciting to daydream about the day you will actually see YOUR book that YOU wrote FOR SALE and available to millions of people!

There is no rule book on how long it will take you to write your novel or how long it takes the big “ZON” (Amazon) to have your book ready for sale. As a first time published author,¬†I wish there had been some sort of literature or something, anything¬†that I could have refered back to through this whole alien, confusing and sometimes stressful¬†experience. That is why I have documented my journey through self publishing from point A to Z to hopefully give some idea of a general time frame so it just might ease the nerves of my like-minded author buddies. That’s you!

FEBRUARY 2012- I started writing my novel and gave myself a goal to be finished by the end of October of 2012 and have my book for sale by December 25th.

OCTOBER 2012- A little less than nine months later my novel was finished. (Sort of. Haha!)

OCTOBER 2012- It was a week or so before Halloween when I sent my manuscript to my editor (I found someone local and it was nice to actually sit down with her and go over editing notes in person!) Some editors work very fast. Mine took about 5 weeks though. I went over my manuscript one last time and then handed it over. Then the editor did a first run-through and gave it back for corrections. Then I went through it again and handed it back with corrections made. The editor went over it for a last time and then I did again for a last time. (I think I probably went over it again a few more times! Editing is not very fun. LOL!) I HIGHLY recommend an editor if you are self-publishing or at least another set of trusted eyes. No one wants to read a book that makes them stop listening to the story and start focusing on errors. Although I am very good with grammar, spelling, and such, we still found many discrepancies, even in the last run-throughs!

NOVEMBER 2012- Still knee-deep in editing. Blah, LOL! Also working with the book cover designer, and the ones I worked with were FAST!

DECEMBER 2012-¬†Editing is finished in the beginning of December! YAY! But not on schedule for publishing by the 25th yet. ūüė¶ I would have been closer to hitting my goal had I not had a last-minute change of heart and added some things to my novel, which extended¬†my time frame due to further¬†editing/formatting/cover designing, etc. Don’t ever feel rushed! Your book needs to be the best it can be. So if you feel there are changes needed, just do it!

DECEMBER 30th, 2012- DONE! Edited: check.  Polished: check.  Formatted: check.  Cover design: check.

DECEMBER 31st, 2012, 8:30 p.m.- Submitted my novel to Create Space and Kindle Direct Publishing! Woo Hoo!

JANUARY 1st, 2013, 10:45 a.m.- I received an email saying “Congratulations for publishing on Kindle Direct Publishing!” or something along those lines.¬†I checked and sure enough¬†the kindle version of my¬†book¬†was available on Amazon! Happy New Year to me! BUT¬†there was some funky stuff.¬†It said, “MER by Jade M. Phillips, Marguerite Wainio, Juan Heinrich, Tatiana Vila.” Now… my book is titled MER, my name is Jade M. Phillips, but who are¬†all these other people who¬†apparently¬†wrote the book along with me?! LOL!¬† I actually do know who they are. That is my editor, artist, and cover designer that I had¬†put in as contributors¬†during the KDP¬†set-up process. And although I love them and they deserve credit, It¬†gives off the impression that MER was written by a team rather than just one author, ME. Haha!¬†Just a word of wisdom: Unless you want¬†the description of your book to look¬†the way I described it, I would recommend¬†you ONLY put yourself, the author, as a contributor. But that’s up to you. SO, I went back into my KDP¬†set-up and changed the contributors, then received¬†the all-too-well-known¬†“We have to review you book, blah blah¬†blah, can take up to 12 hours, blah blah blah,” message.

Now for the Create Space submission. A message appeared on my dashboard saying that my paperback book would be available immediately on the Create Space estore, but it could take 5-7 days for it to be available on Amazon.

JANUARY 1st, 2013, 2:30 p.m.- I filled out my author bio and set up my Amazon author page, which is called Author Central (you can only do this after your book is live on Amazon.) Crazy, right? And at 2:45 I got an email saying that it would be a while before it was live. Then at 8:00 p.m. I get an email saying that my author page is live. It looks great, so I finish it up by adding pics, RSS feed from my blog, twitter, etc..

JANUARY 2nd, 8:00 a.m., 2013-¬†Received an email congratulating me again for publishing with KDP¬†and that my book is now available, AGAIN. Hahaha!¬†I check it out and it¬†now says “MER, by Jade M. Phillips.” Now that’s better. ūüôā

JANUARY 5th, 10:00 a.m., 2013-¬†It is¬†has been five days since submitting my book¬†to create space, and sure ’nuff, I check Amazon and there it is! My paperback available for sale! Yay! Whew! You will¬†NOT get a notification from Create Space or Amazon when your paperback becomes available, so just do like the rest of us and check Amazon every day. LOL!

And THAT was the process. MY process. I’m sure it will vary from person to person, but hopefully this will give you an idea of what you’re up against!

To sum it up. It usually takes your kindle version less than 24 hours to become available on Amazon, and your Create Space paperback 5-7 days. Now don’t mark my words, as Amazon is always changing things and it could possibly change. But that is what I got from it.

A FEW WORDS OF WISDOM from my experience:

*When you set a goal of when you would like your book to be published, and I mean actually AVAILABLE for purchase on Amazon, make sure you are done writing your novel a few months before that deadline to allow time for editing, formatting, cover designs, and any changes that may pop up (and believe me, there will be changes!)

*Don’t stress! This is a meticulous and lengthy process. Take it one day at a time, one step at a time.

*Research. Check out other people’s experiences, suggestions and advice by googling any and every question you may have as you go along. Knowledge is power and it will definitely help you get the job done faster and more efficiently.

You will also learn little need-to-know tidbits that no one will just come out and tell you. Like, for example, did you know that your book cover HAS to be the absolute LAST thing you do? Because the cover designer needs an EXACT page count of your formatted manuscript in PDF for your create space paperback in order to format the cover to the right size. SO you must have your book formatted first before you can have your paperback cover! And in turn, to have your book formatted, it has to be in its final stage; edited and polished. NO MORE CHANGES! (Ah! That was the scariest part for me!) There is a chain of events that has to happen in a certain order, and because there is no hand-book of rules for indie publishing with KDP and Create Space you will only learn this by doing research and living through the process yourself.

*Good Luck¬†to you all and I wish you the best!!! And feel free to comment here if you ever have any doubts and/or questions about the whole process or any advice to add. I’m no wizard on it, having only been through it once, but I might be able to help. ūüôā

Thanks again for reading and may the power of words be with you!!!

xoxo- Jade

Categories: Indie Publishing, Writing Tips | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

HOW TO CREATE A MAILING LIST OR FORM FOR YOUR BLOG!

HOW TO CREATE A MAILING LIST OR FORM FOR YOUR BLOG!

 

I wanted¬†to create a couple of different forms for my WordPress blog and am going to go over the process step by step and I’m pretty sure it will be the same process for blogger or any other blog hosts.¬†If you aren’t a techie-type person, not to worry, I am not either. Far from it, frankly. Haha!¬†This is actually quite simple.

I needed a submission form so other book bloggers could sign up to host my novel, MER, on their blog. I also wanted to create a mailing list so readers can sign up to be notified about the next book release, contests and events. I did all of this using Google Drive (Google Docs).

I documented step by step, my “journey”¬†through creating my mailing list and here it is. (But you can follow along to create any questionnaires, quizzes, or submission forms you like.) Sorry if the screen shot pictures are a little blurry. But you’ll get the general idea ūüėÄ

 

MAILING LIST SET-UP USING GOOGLE DRIVE

1.CREATE A GOOGLE ACCOUNT

In order to create a form or document you will first need to have a google or g-mail account. Most people do…but if not, it’s super easy to sign up. Do that here.

Create an Account

2. DOWNLOAD GOOGLE DRIVE
¬†¬† ¬†Go to the google home screen and you will see lots of options at the top. Search, Images, Gmail, YouTube, Drive, etc… (See Picture below in step 3).
    Choose Drive. It will prompt you to download Google Drive. Go ahead and do that. Now you are ready to start creating!
3. CREATING YOUR FORM/DOCUMENT
¬†¬†¬†¬† a. Shown in the picture below on the left hand side¬†is the red “create” box and that will give you options for which document you’d like to create. For this mailing list example we will choose “form.”
GoogleDocs2
Then you will see a new window pop up. This is where you create your form.
GoogleDocs3
b. “Untitled Form.”As shown in the picture above, there is a dialogue box named “Untitled Form.” This is where you will type that you will call your form. Mine will be “MER’s mailing list.”
c. “Question Title.”¬†Next is to type in your question in the “question title” section. My first question will be “Email” where the reader/customer is prompted to add their email address.
   
d. “Help Text.” Below the “question title” is a “help text” box. This is where you can expand or further explain your question. I usually leave this blank.
e. “Question type” is pretty self-explanatory. It gives you options on how to ask your questions. Text, check mark box, multiple choice, etc… Since I am doing a simple question and answer I am choosing “text.” To¬† see¬†¬†an¬†example of the other question options and what they¬†look like, go here to my document page, “Host MER on your blog!”
f. “Make this a required question.” Now if you want your first (and any others throughout¬†the process)¬†question to be a required question, just check the cute little box. Easy!
g. Hit “Done”! Now your first question in your mailing list (submission¬†form, questionnaire, quiz, etc..) is done! Yay! Easy, right?
Check mine out below! (First Question: Email address box)
GoogleDocs4
h. “Add Item.” Now that you have finished your first question, you will start on the next by going to the left upper hand corner and select “Add Item.” Then choose from the options accordingly like you did earlier. Now just keep adding items, repeating the process we just covered,¬†until you have all of the questions needed.
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i. “Add description” Now don’t Forget, you need to add the¬†description of your document underneath where you titled your document. Now don’t ask me why I waited to do this until last (i tend to do things ass-backwards. Haha!)
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FINISH IT UP
Now that you’re done with your mailing list/document there are just a couple of steps left.
4. SAVE
Save your document
5. SHARE
At the top right hand corner there will be a red “share” box. Click it and then a new window will pop-up. There will now be a green “share” box at the bottom left of the new window.

Run your mouse over the green “share” box and select “public.” You will not want to select “private” as you would be the only one able to see it.
GoogleDocs7
5. Embed Then you will go back to your form and go to the “more actions” at the top right. Click “more actions” and select “embed.” Yay! A box with your very own embed code will pop up. Right click the code and copy it.
GoogleDocs8
6. PASTE
Almost Done! Now for pasting your document’s embed code into your blog!
Go to the page or post in your blog for which¬†you want your document in (or create a new one if needed.) I am going to paste my “mailing list” document into a page I have already¬†created called “Contact.”¬† Make sure that you are in edit mode and if you have any other info that is not in your google drive doc that you want on that page as well, make sure to type that first, and then paste your code/document.¬† Also before you paste, make sure that you are in “text” mode, NOT “visual” mode. This will¬†NOT work if you are in “visual” mode. (Side note: if you do not see the “text” tab, you may have an “HTML” tab. If so, use that one.) The “text” tab will be alongside the “visual” on the upper right hand corner of your dialogue box.
GoogleDocs9
Paste your code into your blog page and hit “update” for an existing¬†page or “publish” for a new one that you just created. Your code will still be there. “What!?” Don’t worry. Just go to “view page” and¬†Walah! there it is! Your beautiful new mailing list!
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7. GET NOTIFIED (last step!)
You will need to set your Google Drive document notifications so that you will receive an email when someone submits your form. To do this, go back to your Google Drive document. (If you have closed it out and go back in it will show as a spread sheet. Not to worry, whenever you embed it somewhere it will still be in the format you originally created your form.
Now go to “tools” and select “notification rules.”
GoogleDocs11
Then you will see “Notify me at ‘your email’ when…”
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† so then select- “a user submits a form”
You will also see “Notify me with…”
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† so then select- “email, right away”

And then “save” your options.

GoogleDocs12
DONE!
You are now all done with creating and embedding your document into your blog and it looks so professional! All of the submissions you will get will be kept in your google drive home and put into a spread sheet. You will also be notified whenever anyone submits the form. Yay for you!
*If you are indeed creating a mailing list, you can export or upload your submissions spread sheet from Google Drive directly to an email marketing service like MailChimp to handle your e-mail newsletters, etc. I believe they are free up until 5oo subscribers.
Thanks so much for reading today (if you made it through this monster of a post! Ha!)
And may the power of words be with you!
-Jade
Categories: Blog Tips, Writing Tips | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

WRITING INSPIRATION FOR THE HOLIDAYS OR ANYTIME

With the holidays right around the corner, and all that comes along with it, like get-togethers, drowning in waves of presents, brightly colored wrapping paper, bows and glitter, you may find it hard to stick go your normal writing regimen. I know I have. And that is why I’m putting together a post about writing inspiration and motivation. We will hear from three very talented authors and their inspirations. Where do you find yours? Is it going off to be alone and listening to music? Taking a walk? Chocolate?
Here are some of my personal faves:

1. Get comfortable and kick off your shoes!¬†I know it may sound silly, but being barefoot helps me to relax and sluff¬†off¬†the hustle and bustle of everyday life, especially during the holidays.(It also doesn’t hurt that I live in the desert where it’s 80-100 degrees most of the year!) So yes, here in the southwest, going barefoot is completely acceptable. So get comfy, and put on your coziest pair of pajama pants, kick off your shoes (or put on your fluffy bunny slippers, for those of you in colder climates)¬†and get to¬†writing!

2. Visualizing to music. I like to put on whatever music suits me at the moment (whether it be the classical Pachelbel’s Canon in D, or¬†the hip-hop hit Let me Love you¬†by Ne-YO.) I close my eyes and let the music take my imagination away, creating scenes of my novel in my head, like¬†the trailer for¬†a hit movie. It really is much cooler in you brain than it sounds! Haha! This is a great way to dream up new possible scenarios for your story. Warning: this can cause¬†a goose bump effect.

3. Get some fresh air! After an all-day writing marathon (or even just a couple of hours), you just have to take a break. Leave your lap-top, pen and paper, and head outdoors or somewhere you can stretch your legs. I like to take a walk (well it’s really more like pacing up and down the street in front of my house where there is a gorgeous view of the mountains.) This is where I come up with some of my best¬†ideas! As I walk, I take deep cleansing¬†breaths-in between arguing plot points to myself. (My neighbors are probably like¬†“there’s the crazy¬†lady again, talking to herself.” LOL!)

And honestly, I feel more inspired to write during the holidays. I think it’s due to that warm fuzzy feeling created by all of the twinkling lights,¬†warm fireplaces, and oh-so-good comfort foods.¬†Unfortunately this is the busiest time of year for most people, and it can get a little hectic; all the more reason to come up with your own writing inspirations to help you¬†get your creative juices flowing!

Now let’s hear from three amazing¬†authors and learn about¬†their writing¬†inspirations and techniques.

_____________________________________________________________________

Mandy White, a horror/thriller novelist.

Mandy, why and when did you start writing?  I have always enjoyed writing, but was shy about showing my work. Five years ago I started working as a freelance content writer and graduated to novel-writing from there.

What are your writing inspirations? And what motivates you?  Any quiet time is good for inspiration, because I can escape into my head where the stories are. I work out a lot of story ideas while I’m walking my dog or driving.

Do you have a unique technique for writing motivation that someone may have never thought of? I do a lot of brainstorming while relaxing in a hot bath. I usually bring a pen and notebook with me and take notes whenever ideas come to me.

Oooh, a hot bath. That’s a great idea! Do you write during the holidays, and if so, how do you find time? I find writing is a good distraction from the stress of the holidays. We don‚Äôt have large family get-togethers, so our holiday season is reasonably sane. The best time for writing any time of year is early in the morning while the rest of the house is still asleep.

Quiet mornings are the best! Awesome ideas Mandy!

Her featured novel :¬†Avenging Annabelle ‚Äst A Canadian thriller

Avenging Annabelle

A desperate father seeks justice after his daughter is abducted and he is wrongly accused of the crime. Meanwhile, a dangerous predator is still on the loose, already making plans to take his next victim. Annabelle appears in Jim‚Äôs dreams, showing him things ‚Äď things he doesn‚Äôt want to see but must if he is to solve the mystery of her disappearance and have his vengeance on the one responsible.

Thank you so much Mandy White! Now, how can we get our hands on your book, Avenging Annabelle?  Avenging Annabelle is currently enrolled in Kindle Select, so the e-book is exclusive to Kindle at the moment here. Paperback and hardcover editions can be purchased from Lulu.com here.

______________________________________________________________________

Jolea M. Harrison, an epic/fantasy and science fiction writer.

Why and when did you start writing? At a very young age I decided I had stories to tell. There were these constant images going through my head and so I started writing down what was going on in them. These images, sometimes just a single one, evolve into novels if I let them.

What are your writing inspirations? What gets you in the mood to write?¬† Music inspires me to write, but I can’t listen to it when I’m writing. It’s too distracting, but if I get stuck in a scene I’ll turn on my iPod and listen to something new or music I haven’t listened to in a while. And movies – There will be times when I’m in a movie theater, watching the latest blockbuster and out of nowhere I’ll see something from the film that triggers my imagination and off I’ll go. The movie is forgotten. This can be extremely annoying‚Ķand expensive.

LOL! That can get expensive! Do you have a unique technique for writing motivation that someone may have never thought of?¬†I live near Washington DC and go into town as often as I can and frequent the numerous art galleries there. One of my favorites is the Hirshhorn, as well as the Corcoran Gallery and the National Gallery of Art. These are places where quiet contemplation is encouraged, so I can sit in front of a sweeping masterpiece, I like landscapes, but sometimes portraits as well, and dream of what is happening and why. Nowadays I use my phone to jot down thoughts that come into my head. It’s great because no one looks at me oddly while I’m sitting there staring, when in fact, my mind is on another planet.

Wow! Art is a great idea for inspiration! Do you write during the holidays, and if so, how do you find time? I do some form of writing every day – whether it’s creation or editing or formatting – I’m usually immersed for some period of time in the creative process. Some may not think formatting especially creative, but coming up with the perfect look for your words qualifies in my mind. Writing is built into my daily schedule, so finding time for everything else becomes the problem. I still have to put up my Christmas decorations, and shop! I generally try to get all that done by Christmas Eve, lol.

Good luck on getting that Christmas shopping done, Jolea!

Her featured novel: Chosen – 1st book of the Guardians of the Word fantasy series

Chosen

Chosen is a fantasy adventure Рlocation; Hell, Purgatory, the Demon’s Lair, and Hell is everything it’s cracked up to be. Dynan Telaerin finds himself on a corpse-strewn hillside, charged with saving the soul of his ancestor, desperate to avoid the monsters and minions who want to eat his soul. Chosen is the first book of the series, The Guardians of the Word. The Chronicles are Chosen, Myth, Telepath, Legend, Union, Adept, Seer and King

Thank you so much! Now, where can we get your book, Chosen? You can pick up Chosen¬†– a free digital e-book from Amazon and Barnes and Noble at these links: Amazon –¬†here.¬†Barnes and Noble here.

Thanks for having me on your blog! Your welcome Jolea Harrison!

_______________________________________________________________________

Mathieu Gallant, an open-minded multi-genre author, specializing in Science-Fiction and Apocalyptic and Horror.

Mathieu, why and when did you start writing? I’ve always been a writer at heart, but as chasing the dream of becoming a professional, I started about five years ago when I realized I might be able to finish the first draft of the book that would become Darkness Falls and When the Levee Breaks.

What are your writing inspirations? And what motivates you to write? I find inspiration in a dark, quiet room that allows me to really think deeply without interruptions. I think finding some time for quiet contemplation is a gift in the hustle and bustle of today’s wired world. I think more people should put time aside in their schedules to enjoy a bit of life unplugged.Also, I watch the news on TV, read news online and generally try to remain knowledgeable about the happenings in the world around me. I try to discuss the information I’ve gathered with others to get an idea of what people think about it.

Do you have a unique technique for writing motivation that someone may have never thought of?  I find using a writing journal is an extremely important aspect of my inspirations, for a few reasons. First, writing ideas down means I won’t forget them later on. Second, sometimes the act of brainstorming in a journal can be the catalyst for new ideas. Also, I find writing by hand is a great way to counter that dreaded bout of writer’s block. When using the journal for this purpose, don’t be afraid to write ANYTHING that comes to mind. Jot it all down because you never know when something important will come out. Resist the urge to self-censor and just let it all out. You won’t be sorry.

A writing journal is a fantastic idea! I think I may try that myself. Do you write during the holidays, and if so, how do you find time? I’ll write any time I get the urge, holidays or not. Lately it seems there’s a lot of competition for my attention, so late nights are best for me. I love sitting at the kitchen table with the lights off, staring out my back window at the lights of the city. There’s plenty of inspiration there.

Great stuff from Mathieu Gallant! His featured novel.

Darkness Falls from the Outage series. It’s a mix of sci-fi and apocalyptic. Here’s the blurb, straight from Amazon:

Darkness Falls¬†is a frame novel, a story within a story. Primarily, it tells the story of one man, Robert Hendricks. We first meet him in 2179 onboard an alien star ship approaching Earth. He is the lone human on the ship and it will be the first time he sees his planet in over 150 years. He has been away so long, in fact, that Hendricks has very little in the way of actual memories of his home. The only thing he knows for sure is that his feelings about going back are far from positive. This is a problem for his extra-terrestrial hosts, the Gulran. The Gulran¬†have a growing interest in this sector of the galaxy and Earth is vital to their plan. With Hendricks as an ambassador the Gulrani¬†High Arbitor, Gorak, thinks the mission has a good chance of success. Without the human‚Äôs help, he‚Äôs not so sure. In order to ensure a positive outcome ‚Äď but also to help his troubled friend ‚Äď Gorak hypnotizes Hendricks and, through his recollections, travels back with him to the Earth of 2026. For Hendricks, the end begins with a total blackout of North America. It doesn’t take long for him to learn that the line between order and chaos is as thin as a stream of electrons flowing down a copper wire.

Thank you so much Mathieu! Now, how can we get our hands on your book Darkness Falls?  It can be downloaded at Amazon.com here. It’s also available in a few local bookstores in Saint John, New Brunswick.

The sequel to Darkness Falls, When the Levee Breaks, will be available soon after the new year.

________________________________________________________________________

So now you’ve heard it from¬†three amazing authors with really unique writing inspiration techniques; from relaxing in a hot bath to art gazing and¬†keeping a writing journal. And don’t forget my favorite,¬†kicking off your shoes! Haha!

If you have any other interesting methods of writing motivations and inspirations please leave a comment so others can take away that precious knowledge! Thanks for reading with us today and have a fantastic holiday!!

And may the power of words be with you!!
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Categories: Inspirations, Writing Tips | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

CREATING A MAP FOR YOUR FANTASY NOVEL

An ongoing trend for fiction and fantasy novels is having a map for the reader to follow along with, just after the title page in the book. It is also very helpful for the author and the development of their fictional world.

When I first started writing my young adult fantasy novel, MER, I was like “A map seems way too difficult.” But I REALLY wanted one. And despite my inhibitions, I dove in head first. Hell or high-water¬†I was going to have a map for my book, even if it meant handing my two-year-old a paper and crayons, and calling the scribbles my map. (Hey that’s not such a bad idea! Hahaha!)

I’m going to talk a little about my experience with creating my map for MER, soon to be released in late December, along with other methods of either creating or obtaining your map. And don’t worry, you absolutely do not have to be Michelangelo to create a map. I am no artist, believe me! Here is a step-by-step how I created mine.

METHOD #1 HAND-DRAWN MAP (This is always the first step, even in the following methods)

ITEMS NEEDED:

*paper (duh)

*tracing paper or vellum

*pencil and eraser

*Markers, colored pencils, or crayons (I was only half-joking about the crayons. That is actually what I used to color my map.) ūüôā

*Reference Maps (Atlas, globe, print-outs of real life maps, your favorite fantasy book with a map.)

How I started was by picking a continent (fantasy novels, for some reason, usually have one super continent as their world to start out.) My inspiration was Greece. Don’t ask me why. I think I just liked the way it looked and it was surrounded on three sides by water and islands¬†(which I needed lots of.) ūüėÄ

greece map

Image courtesy of Kevin Anderson, Flickr Creative Commons

 

 

I started out with just a bunch of circles, squiggles, and lines. It looked terrible! (That’s the way it’s supposed to look at first.)

Once you’ve got something that you generally like as your footprint (the outline of the continent and maybe some general towns from you story etc…) then it is time to start adding lakes, castles, towns, villages, rivers, mountains, roads etc. Now this is where the tracing paper or vellum comes in. As you refer back to your story and start transferring¬†landmarks to your map, you will need to make changes (more than likely, A LOT of them, LOL!) Like, “Wait! I need a castle here, and this river needs to move.” And instead if erasing your little heart out, place the tracing paper over your original drawing, copying what you like and changing what you don’t. This is tedious and, in my opinion, the least fun part. But the fun part is, as you do more and more drafts, your map will start to clean itself up and start to look more like a map!

Then after adding what towns, castles, and rivers that are in your story, you will need to start filling in the dead space, otherwise your map might look a little barren. Make a list of names that you might like for your landmarks.

I referred to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of¬†Ice and¬†Fire maps, and (not ever copying) took inspiration from his name styles, but putting in my own twist and keeping true to the theme of my story. I came up with some cool names like Castlebridge, Saltstone, Duskenford, Eve’s Port, Dawn’s Port, Fish¬†Eye Lake, Frozen River, etc…¬†Adding these extras is also super beneficial in the development of furthering your story (say you are doing a second book in the series.)¬†You can refer back to your own map to see where¬†your character’s¬†journey¬†might take them, (and not have to break from your writing to come up with the perfect name for that dumb river they have to cross!! Haha!)

Here is a list of Landmarks your map may have.

MAP LANDMARKS

  1. Castles
  2. Towns
  3. Villages
  4. Churches (I use very little religion in mine, so I have no marked churches.)
  5. Ruins
  6. Rivers
  7. Lakes
  8. Swamps
  9. Oceans
  10. Seas
  11. Roads
  12. Forests
  13. Mountains
  14. Bridges
  15. Ports
  16. Islands
  17. Compass

Don’t limit yourself to this list (as I’ve probably forgotten some things LOL!), but reach for the sky! This is your masterpiece, your creation, do with it what you want. There are no limits. This is fiction we are talking about here!

Once you’ve finished matching the map to your story, filling in dead space, and naming all of your landmarks, it’s time to color in your map. If you only want black and white (which will be one-dimensional) you probably won’t want to color it, but if you want color or even grey scale, you will want to, to help differentiate water from land, etc.

Now if you are an artist and feel that you have a masterpiece, by all means, use this as your map. I definitely couldn’t, Haha! You will just need to format it to size, according to your publishers guidelines, or have it formatted for you. There are many low-cost formatters out there on google. The one I used is April Martinez, mail@aprilgem.com. She formatted my book (and map image). Just e-mail an inquiry and she will send you back a list of prices.

METHOD #2 HAVE IT PROFESSIONALLY RENDERED

Now that you have your rough draft, you could always contact a Graphic Artist or Cartographer to have the drawing digitally and professionally rendered for you. This is what I did.

I scanned my wanna-be-map into my computer (if you don’t have a scanner go to Kinkos¬†and get it put on a jump-drive or disk). I then sent it (along with a¬†list of all of my towns, castles, rivers, mountains, etc..and their correct spellings)¬†to my Graphic Designer/Artist friend, Juan,¬†as a rough draft. From there he worked his magic and Wallah! A beautiful map! (Soooo¬†glad I didn’t have to do that part. I’m techie-illiterate. LOL!) Find Juan C. Heinrich here on facebook http://www.facebook.com/jchstudio. There is also a guild of cartographers who use various software to create fictional maps for a commission. You can find them here http://www.cartographersguild.com/

And here it is again! Woo hoo! MER‘s Map of Merenia! I had no idea¬†my book¬†could have such an amazing map!

METHOD #3 DO IT YOURSELF DIGITALLY

Now I’m not going to pretend to know a lot about this, as I said earlier I’m computer illiterate when it comes to stuff like this. BUT I will tell you some software you may use if you would like to try it yourself.

You will still want to do METHOD #1 and create a hand-drawn draft of your map.

A. PHOTOSHOP/ MS PAINT

You can scan your map into Photoshop or Microsoft paint and digitally manipulate it to insert text (landmark names), do a cool watery effect, create mountains, city and castle symbols, etc… Here is a good blog post on¬†doing your map via¬†Photoshop http://www.brodt.dk/peter/maps.html.

B. SPECIALIST MAP-MAKING PROGRAMS

AutoREALM, which is a super cool software created by Fantasy and RPG geeks to create maps. (No offense, I am one of those too. Not the kind of geek that creates software, of course, but the kind that plays Final Fantasy and does ALL of the side quests.) Haha! Download AutoREALM for free here http://autorealm.sourceforge.net/

Now, after that information overload, let’s take a break and¬†look at some well-known¬†authors who used maps in their novels.It all started with the grandfather of fantasy maps/ fictional world development, Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings. This is the Map from The Hobbit, the prelude to the Lord of the Rings.

the map of the book the hobbit

A few other well known’s are…

George R.R. Martin’s A Song of¬†Ice and Fire¬†(HBO Series A Game of Thrones)

 

Robert Jordan’s A Wheel of Time. (One of my favorite series!)

C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia (LOVE!)

As an author or author-to-be of a fantasy series, you more than likely will have one of these in your home library. If you don’t,which I would find hard to believe :D,¬†I strongly urge you to get one¬†and study it and¬†its usage of maps.

Thank you for reading about map creation with me today! I wish you lots of luck in your writing journeys. And don’t ever, ever give up! It can be overwhelming, especially if you are self-publishing, to put all of the pieces together by yourself. Just take a deep breath and keep on plugging on!

Please leave a comment if you have any other helpful information on map creation for your novel. Or even if you don’t I’d love to hear from you!

Please LIKE my book, MER on facebook here http://www.facebook.com/merbook1  to read cool snippets and get updated info on the book release!

Please follow me on twitter here http://www.twitter.com/JadeMPhillips

Thanks! And may the power of words be with you!

Categories: Writing Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 51 Comments

OUTLINING AND STORYBOARDING YOUR NOVEL

Now that the editing for my novel, MER, is done (Woo hoo!) I have some time to talk about the behind-the-scenes of writing a novel.

Like many of you out there I had always dreamed of writing a book, and made many attempts, to no avail. I kept thinking¬†what is wrong with me? Why can’t I finish this book?

Well, apparently, not all of us are like Stephen King (the brilliant freak-of-nature that he is) and can open our minds and just let the words fall out effortlessly into an amazing bestseller. Some of us need guidelines. And that is how I discovered storyboarding and outlining. But first you want to brainstorm.

BRAINSTORMING

This is going to be the first thing you should do before you start any outlining. Make a list of anything and everything that could possibly happen in your book. Think outside of the box! This is the fun part. You have NO limits! No censorship, no one telling you what or what not you can do. And then for the outlining.

And not everyone is the same and that is why I’ll be discussing different outlining methods separately.

METHOD #1. STICKY NOTE STORYBOARD

This is the method that I used for MER. This style of outlining is great for the “visual type” of person because it displays your entire manuscript out in front of you and allows you to view the flow and chronology of your book. It gives more freedom to the writer (as opposed the¬†“W” storyboard which we will go over later in this post.) Also, with the sticky note method, if later on down the line you aren’t liking the way it’s going or need to make changes¬†you can easily swap chapters or slap on a new sticky note! Kabow! Easy as pie. Mmmm. Pie. (Thanksgiving leftovers on the brain. Haha!)

ITEMS YOU WILL NEED:

*A matte board or poster board (I went to the extreme and bought the biggest one they had and almost hang-glided through the parking lot of Office Max after a gust of wind hit me.Hahaha! That was fun.)¬†Your poster board¬†will need to be big to fit all of your chapters, scenes and sticky notes, but you might not want to get the monster that I got. It’s up to you.

*Sticky/ Post-It notes. I purchased two different rainbow-colored¬†multi packs¬†of the LONG sticky notes.You will need to have a few different colors to keep your categories separate. Examples of these categories can be plot points in the scene, character’s in the scene, location, items to keep track of, etc. The possibilities are endless, so use your own creativity to help you organize.¬†Some authors use¬†one color for each character. I have so many characters in my book that I would just list all of the characters in a specific¬†chapter on¬†one color and then layer the plot points for that same chapter on another color. You just need to summarize what happens in that chapter with no more than a couple of sentences or a few bullet points.

*Black Sharpee Marker. Of course you can use a pen or pencil, but in my opinion the black marker stands out and is easier to read when you stand back to look at your book outline as a whole.

That’s it! All you need is three items to start your post-it note storyboard (and possibly a pot of coffee and some good music.)

METHOD # 2. THE “W” STORYBOARD

This is the method often used by screenwriters, and although it looks more simple than the¬†sticky note¬†storyboard method, it gives you more of a structured guideline for your story. You need to find five of the most important points in your story, we will call these plot points. These 5 plot points will go from the top left of your “W” and so on until the last and fifth plot point at the top¬†right of your “W”, creating a rise and fall motion.

TWO ITEMS YOU WILL NEED:

*Poster or matte board

*Markers

“W” STRUCTURE:

TRIGGERING EVENT: This is what starts your story (the plot point at the top left of your W)¬†so choose your most important event to begin your story. Ex. a death, a secret, a mystery, a dilemma, or any sort of¬†event that will start your story’s journey.

FALL: Then your story “falls” towards the next plot point and is setting up the problem.This is where you create more drama and tension for your story. It is the lowest point and further increases the need to drive the story on further.

FIRST TURNING POINT: Conflict/dilemma.¬†This is where plans change and thing’s often reverse.¬†Events may¬†happen that you don’t expect. Maybe your hero decides to leave home.

RISE: This is where you begin to recover from the problem.

POP MOMENT:¬†Conflict/dilemma. This is where your story explodes, thing’s may be revealed, or a battle may take place.

FALL: Deepening the problem. This is sometimes called the second “Triggering event” which is not as extreme as the first but brings the story back down to a low point.

SECOND TURNING POINT: This is the absolute LOWEST point of the story, where it seems that there is no hope.

RISE: Solving the problem.There is new hope, help comes. There is a change within the character.

EPIPHANY MOMENT or “oh my god point” (This point is used in fiction usually a few chapters before the END. I used this and it is great for fantasy.) It is a last conflict before the few chapters of resolution.

END: Resolution. This does not necessarily have to be a problem fixer, but maybe just seeing something in a new light, or a big change.

You don’t have to follow these exactly. You can have more small ups and downs within your rises and falls.

A good reference for the “W” Storyboard is by Mary Carroll Moore on YouTube. ¬†http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMhLvMJ_r0Y

METHOD #3. WRITING SOFTWARE

I actually started my novel with Y Writer by Spacejock, a free novel-writing¬†software. I ended up combining this method and the sticky note storyboard, using Y Writer for my character list (which is SUPER COOL) and the sticky note method for the plotline. This method is perfect for the techie-at-heart and for novels that are beefed up with lots of information and lots of things to keep track of: locations, characters, items, groups, etc. I love this software not only because it’s FREE (starving artist here), but because it is so in-depth. I actually picked celebrities’ pictures to represent my characters and put them with their descriptions in the character list, so when I was like ‘wait…what was so and so’s eye color?’ (I used Orlando Bloom for one of my characters. Mmmm…Orlando Bloom¬†*drooling*) OK! Back to point. I could just pull up the list with a click and have a full description along with pictures and tags. (I will be writing a future post about character lists.)

ITEMS NEEDED:

*Computer O.o

*Y Writer Download (or any other novel-writing software that tickles your fancy.) Here’s the link to Y Writer’s free download. http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter5_Download.html

METHOD #4 TRADITIONAL OUTLINING

This method, which you may remember doing for book reports in elementary school, can come in a number of styles, shapes sizes, and is pretty self explanatory.

ITEMS NEEDED:

*Pen and Paper :0)

There are many outlining and storyboarding techniques, and I just highlighted the few that I think work best for novel writing. So if you are a no-guidelines-needed freak-of-nature and read this post anyways, I hope it was informative and you enjoyed it none the less. And for the rest of you like me, I wish you lots of luck and creativity in your storyboarding and writing ventures!

Please LIKE my MER book page here www.facebook.com/merbook1 Follow me on twitter here https://twitter.com/JadeMPhillips

Thanks for reading! And may the power of words be with you ;0)

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