Spring Writes! Literary Festival: What I Learned this Weekend

This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a literary festival in the new town that we live in! What is a literary festival you ask?

From Thursday to Sunday, writers, readers or literary-lovers of all sorts were able to attend workshops, panels and readings from a collaboration of local writers. These writers are all supported by donations, and a $5 dollar entry fee which purchased the cute pin featured above and was my pass to all the events this weekend.

On Saturday I attended: Workshop: Research Secrets, How to Write What You Don’t Know by and Workshop: The Short Fiction Market, Targeted Writing and Publishing.

What I learned from the Workshop: Research Secrets, is that there is never just one source of finding information out there – the internet is a great tool to finding what you need, but also don’t forget the value of your local library and historic museums, if applicable.

Don’t rule out YouTube and Google Maps as excellent how-to resources when it comes to story research and world-building. Also, remember to validate the credibility of your online sources! (Not everything you read or hear on the internet is true.)

And the instructor also pointed out the value of a good interview. Sometimes the best place to get information is from the person who wrote the book in the first place. Remember to be courteous, prepare your questions and always follow-up.

At the Workshop: The Short Fiction Market, the instructor emphasized that getting your work published is more of a science rather than an art and he pointed out some great strategies that writers can use to get your work out there.

Don’t forget the benefit of submitting stories to Contests. Contests have lower pool of submissions, are judged blindly and carry a lot of weight in a future cover letter if you can brag later on down the road and be like: I am also the first prize winner to XYZ magazine…

He says that contests which feature a specific theme also have a lower pool of submissions, and always remember to ask for feedback when you are submitting something. Most editors will probably not offer feedback, but sometimes someone will.

Focus on the number of submissions that you have out there…it is better to have so many balls in the air that after one rejection, it might not sting as much because you have all those other submissions to look forward to!

The more book reviews you write, the more submissions you submit and the more you get out there and talk to other writers, the more you are building up your social network and other opportunities might present themselves.

Today I attended: Panel: “World Building: If you Build It, They Will Come” and Panel: “Intimate Communities, Starting and Sustaining a Writing Group That Works”

In the world building panel, a group of women spoke about their different processes of world building and their favorite part of the process. Each of their approaches to world building was different.

Some of them approached a world as having a central conflict. What makes parts of the world clash? While answering these questions you get an idea of the different cultures, and the holidays and the food that the characters might eat.

A few of the women started with a character first, and then they built the world around the characters.

They talked about the differences of world building for short stories, versus a novel, and how for some stories you don’t have to know everything, because you will also discover a lot of the world in the writing process.

To organize their notes, one of the women uses the software Evernote, which is what I use! And then another, keeps a notebook with character details.

The best part of world building according to the panel of ladies, is living in another time period, and the power trip: you are basically God.

In the panel, for Sustaining a Writer Group, I learned about the importance of knowing what you want personally from a writer’s group, and remembering to have Guidelines in your group.

Establish those Guidelines from the get-go and you’ll need someone to be the leader, to enforce those guidelines and to keep everyone on task.

I learned so much this weekend, and have some great reference points for finding a writing group in our area that might suit what I am looking for; I am so excited to move on to the next step of the process!

Hope everyone had a great weekend, and Happy Writing!

What’s up buttercup? Copywriting?! Freelancing?!

Just got a notification that informed me that a year ago, I joined the wonderful world of WordPress!

Although I don’t have the thousands of admiring followers I would love to have, I’ve been thinking about the other benefits that blogging has done for me over the year:

  • Firstly, I’ve learned about blogging. Everyone has their own voice. And although I am still developing my own and learning as I go, I’ve learned it is very important to keep your posts to the point and accessible to everyone.
  • Don’t ramble if it’s not necessary and remember that everyone has the attention span of a peanut – it’s not very big.
  • Attract those readers with pictures, catchy phrases and good quality writing. Make them excited about what you’re writing, get personal with your readers.
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Me! Aww…

Essentially you are selling yourself to your readers and that’s another thing I’ve learned over the year:

  • How important it is to market yourself as a writer.

It’s important to sell yourself to your readers as much as it is to make your writing readable. Show this through your writing – through your posts, through your confidence, your ability to be versatile in your writing. Write what you know of course, but don’t be afraid to stretch the boundaries – to learn as you go.

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I might be preaching a bit here, but it’s something that I struggle with A LOT and I’d like to take this time to remind myself and anyone else who cares to listen:

Along the way, Don’t be afraid of failure.

Just don’t. It doesn’t do you any good and makes you procrastinate and not get the things done that you need to get done.

And on that note, it’s time to get to the point of this post:

I’ve decided to expand my writing knowledge and try my hand at Copywriting and Freelancing. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a while now and for some reason this time I feel serious about it. Going to order my copy of The 2014 Writer’s Market now!

I’m not sure what will come of it, but maybe I’ll get a part-time writing gig!  🙂

Happy writing people!

PS: More posts to come on this new venture of mine – it might change the focus of how this blog started out, but I’ve decided to treat every new journey as a learning experience. There is always room to grow!

New page check it out!!

I just added a new page at the left there in my menu settings, “About this Blog.”  So have a go and find out what The Writer’s Hub is all about! 🙂

<====It’s over there. Just to be obnoxious. And yeah, because sometimes people are blind. And dumb. Or their brains got hijacked by space monkeys. Ever seen a space monkey? Hmm. What an interesting thing to write about…

New Cover Page!

It didn’t take me surprisingly that long to finish this cover page…so here it is! 😀

Later, I will include an excerpt of Dawn’s Rising as I update the page…

The Amazing Adobe Photoshop CS6

So, for anyone who has been reading this blog, you might notice that I’ve had trouble downloading a free trial of Photoshop CS6. Well, I have some good news! I borrowed a friends faster and high-speed internet and I am pleased to say that everything is alive and well in the Photoshop world.

It took me an hour or so to remember how to use it, (it has been about 3 years) but I have about three-fourths of my cover page done for Dawn’s Rising and I am very pleased at how it is looking so far!

So, here I am writing a quick blog to emphasize how amazing Photoshop is for making cover pages. If you know how to use the program and have it on your computer, I would definitely use it for an eBook cover page. (Or, you can always do what I did and download a free 30 day trial.) It is easy using the various filters and effects and it really makes the cover page your own–and also a work of art. I am no Photoshop expert, far from it– but it really makes any effort you put into your page look like its been professionally done.

I am going to continue using it for various photos and cover pages that I might post on here, so look forward to updates. Also, as imagery inspires me, creating the cover page itself has given me ideas for the story and various plot twists. It’s been a very exciting project so far!

I was going to post a preview of the cover page here, but I would rather wait for the big reveal when it’s completely finished.

A quick look: I am now researching how to create a realistic sun-rising effect or sun burst effect…any tips or pointers would be awesome.

New TV Show: Revolution! Yeah!

Is anyone as excited as me about this new TV show coming on NBC in the fall??

My Dad’s only comment: “Where do they get the bows and arrows and swords from?” Hehehe. I love him.

Finally, NBC’s taking a show of post apocalyptic proportions and presenting it to us for entertainment! (Eh, with the exception of Terra Nova…and we all know how thaat turned out.) J. J. Abram’s involved, so it can’t be too terrible, right? Very excited about this!

As I am an avid TV watcher and lover (of course I am! I’m nerdy like that!) I will occasionally be reviewing some of my favorite TV shows on here. Revolution will most definitely be making an appearance. Also, keep an eye out for reviews of Vampire Diaries, Bones, and Once Upon a Time later on.

I love the summer, but I am excited about the new season of TV starting soon! FINALLY! Something worth watching! Can’t wait!

 

What do I stand For?

Feeling a tad irritated at life, the world and blogging today so I’m trying to find that song that’s been stuck in my head since last night…

Ah, here it is:

I know it’s not the regular music video, but sometimes I don’t like the them because they change my own personal view of a song, and where’s the enjoyment of that? If I can’t relate to it on a personal level?

Anyway, looking over the lyrics…Wow, they really do reflect how I feel right now: Very disconnected, and very adrift…always the questions that pop up in life: What do I stand for?

Mostly the questions for me now are this: Am I making the right choices? Am I doing the right thing? What’s the right job? What’s the right move? Always the startling questions for a struggling artist…and someone who hopes they are getting everything they want out of life…

“What do I stand for?”

 

Photoshop update #2: I have abandoned my quest for download and have decided to seek greener pastures: Ebay.

 

Fifteen Minutes of Fame – Words Worth a Thousand Images

Spent the majority of the day watching my niece and after the pancake and bacon making, the Lego Star Wars, and the playing on the playground, aunt Amanda is whooped! So, thought I might relax on some of the research of eBook making for the day, and focus on another very important interest of mine: Writing.

In my creative writing classes over the years, we used to take at least 15 minutes of the beginning of class to do a little creative journaling, usually inspired by a prompt that the professor provided on the board. A couple of months ago, I discovered this webpage:  http://creativewritingprompts.com/

It is a website that lists hundreds of writing prompts for free. Although a trifle simple perhaps, the fun is in not knowing what might spark the imagination just by scrolling through the various numbers on the page.

I usually like going through until one sparks my interest, but tonight I’m going to just pick a number at random by scrolling over the page…

#200: Create a story based on this plot: gets trapped in the bathroom on Valentines Day:

Hmm…now, let’s see what I can create out of that. I’ll give myself 15 minutes and will write it now, and will leave it mostly unedited…like I would if I were writing in my journal (Beware of run-ons):

For some reason, Buffy the Vampire Slayer seems to come to mind…I imagine a girl crying, make up running down her face, dark hair, a bruised eye and red lipstick that’s been smeared a bit at the corners, giving her a grim smile…

Veronica wiped at her wet cheeks and her wet lips and then grimaced as she looked at her fingertips. The lipstick that she had carefully applied that morning was sticky and wet from her tears and looked like blood — she was just thankful enough that it wasn’t her own. Who knew that her date at the Valentine’s dance would turn out to be a Vampire? One really couldn’t tell these things…and who would know that he had a vampire posse, or was it a horde? attack everyone in the school cafeteria? She was sure she saw Mrs. Collins taken down by one of the monsters in the large, pink cake next to the punch bowl and Mr. Peters, the Principle, watching, with a fork dangling in the air somewhere half-way between his mouth and plate– his piece of chocolate, pink-slathered cake smeared on the floor next the blood running out from the crown of Mrs. Collins’ head. Her friends had all fled to their cars, but she, the idiot, just had to use the bathroom and first dates were usually rough the first time…right?

There was a tap on the door of the bathroom, the creek of the door swinging open and she heard footsteps and she very quickly tucked her feet up on the toilet she was crouched on. It could be one of them…ran the thoughts in her brain. I’m next…I’m another, quick, snack…. But the door swung open and she was almost knocked  to the floor when someone with large, red, hair poked their head in and said loudly, “Well, hi!”

The head belonged to a young girl, with very, carrot-colored hair and a lot of it. It ran down her back, in a mass of curly, wriggling, orange ripples. The girl had to at least be twelve years old, a startling difference to Veronica’s own fourteen–whoever decided to combine the school into seventh through ninth graders were idiots, but that wasn’t what startled her. The girl had huge, blue eyes and she was wearing a too-cheery smile, the grin stretched widely across her face, white and fixed and planned…

Well, that’s that. Fifteen minutes and I’ve got a poor Vampire-attacked Veronica and a mysterious creepy-clown-like twelve-year-old. *Insert sinister grin here, haha*  Well, the cliff-hanger is kind of lame, and while not great, original plot writing, and very raw and unedited– where was that comma supposed to go again? The point is this: the imagery!

I forgot how great it feels to lose yourself in something that is completely different from other writing projects and I am very proud at the detail that such writing creates! Curly, wriggling, orange ripples and pink-slathered cake notwithstanding!

What a great way to get the creative voice flowing! By remembering that sometimes the simplest writing can create such alive, evocative images. And images are very, very important in great writing.

Occasionally, I am going to post in this blog with my random image-worthy creative writing prompts and here might be a way that can inspire other stories, OR, it’ll help to remind me to keep the visual images flowing on current projects.

Oh, and there is always that other thing: It’s fun!

The Cover Page

In some of my research, I’ve discovered that some of the best ways to market yourself is through pictures, or in the case of an eBook: a great cover page!

I discovered a great video from “Jim” on http://7dayebook.com/ who shows you how to create an eBook cover in 5 minutes under $5.00. He shows you how to go onto www.fotolia.com and purchase photos. You purchase the photos by purchasing credits and (in reality, it cost me $13.00 because you have to purchase at least 10 credits at a time.)

But it’s not a total waste, because I’m sure I’ll be purchasing more photos in the future as I intend to publish other small, eBook short stories. Those photo-savy people out there can just use their own pictures of course. (The pictures that I purchased are below.)

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I decided to purchase some photos, because the pictures on fotolia are clean, good quality photos and can be used many times. Also, I didn’t have any great pictures of my own on the ready and to find ones that are already available, what a time saver!

(It’s also not very smart to go on google images and steal random photos from people as you will essentially be selling your eBook with that photo on your cover page, and yeah, that’ll just look bad if someone finds out you’re a thief.)

ANYWAY…in the video, Jim makes a very, simple cover page with one photo using Adobe Photoshop. He sets the dimensions of the photo for the requirements of a Kindle Cover, but that is an easy fix and you can adjust those dimensions accordingly to whatever format you are using.

I like Adobe Photoshop for creating the cover page because of the many things you can do with it. You can really make the cover page yours if you have the initiative. Although, I underestimated how HUGE the whole program is. Since I am poor, I opted to download a free 30 day trial of Adobe Photoshop CS6. (I took a digital art class in college a few years ago, so am somewhat familiar with Photoshop.) Little did I know, that the program would take 7 hours to download!

I’m sure those without satellite internet connection will have little trouble with the nearly 1GB program, but seriously? It was in the middle of a download last night, and windows decided to do its clever updating thing, so I’m sure I’ll have to start the download all over today. Thank you, Windows 7, thank you.

BUT, once I do get the program downloaded, I do have some ideas of what I want to do with the photos that I purchased. I picture a medallion with a blue snowflake on a cover of a smoky, snowy type landscape, with the title Dawn’s Rising in silver or gold. Huh, feels a bit Olympic doesn’t it? Anyway, here, is where the many filters of Photoshop will have an awesome effect.

Now, if only I can get technology to cooperate a little bit.

Rallying to the Cause – the Marketing of Me

Here, really, is my last-ditch effort to try and create a webpage. I have tried many times (and failed) to create a blog and now I think I’ve finally found a purpose: ME. Or, *coughs* I mean, my writing.

I have decided to try and publish an Ebook. I studied Creative Writing in college and have had a love of writing (pretty much my whole life), and now I want to try and market my fiction. I’m not quite at the point where I want to send it away and have someone at a desk, (probably with a stiff, high-backed chair and wearing dark-rimmed glasses) in an important office somewhere tear my work apart…(it could be because I’m also lazy,) so I’ve decided to get a bit of writing practice in and Ebook publish some of my “less serious” works of fiction.

I call it “my warm-up story,” because at first it didn’t start off terribly original, nor did I believe it was intelligent or reflective, (in the kind of way that a lot of Young Adult fiction is) – which is what I normally write.

Well, boy was I surprised when this “warm-up” story started to write itself. It was supposed to be short, sexy, and fun…not teeming with complexity…characters that jump off the page and numerous settings and what not. Huh.

So, here is my last effort to create a blog, and ultimately – try to market this story that I’ve decided to create. It’s got a mind of its own…and I hope – a lot of potential.