A Chapter a Day and The Writer’s Bag

A Chapter a Day and The Writer’s Bag

Where Stolentime revisions go.
Where Stolentime revisions go.

So in spite of the ache I have carried with me all day, I managed to get things done. To your left is my fancy smancy notebook for Stolentime revisions. I re-did the revised chapter one notes for the third time because a headcanon from Tumblr of my favorite little Kuroshitsuji II character, Alois Trancy, inspired me to introduce the darkness of my novel upfront. It’ll probably be a few weeks before I actually get to revisions but the chapter one notes are part of a brand new chapter one. My current chapter one will be chapter two, which is very common for me. I was also able to finish the chapter I started yesterday because a random burst of inspiration hit me for how I wanted to tie the ending of the chapter and it was something I couldn’t resist.

Notes for 'Sister Evelyn'
Notes for ‘Sister Evelyn’

I also started doing notes for an installation piece that I am going to do to introduce the world you will find in When Stars Die. Sister Evelyn is a character I came up with on the fly, but she will show the stresses of being a witch and vying for a position as a professed nun at Cathedral Reims. I told you I don’t like to speak about my book in plain terms, and I hope you will enjoy the installation piece I might put up next week contingent on time. By the way, that accordion folder to the right isn’t just stuffed with notes for Sister Evelyn. Part one only takes up three pieces of paper. The rest are blank pages and two short stories I hope to have included with When Stars Die. It goes in my Writer’s Bag, as does the above notebook.

I also managed to gather more reviewers. I am sitting at 39 right now and would like more, so let me know if you’re interested in reviewing a paranormal romance. You will receive a free ARC in exchange for doing a review or a quote. Tomorrow I will probably only put up one blog post so I can work on the next chapter in Stolentime as my job cuts in the middle of the day, which is oftentimes convenient especially because there will be no time when I’m alone, so I can’t do any mult-tasking at work tomorrow. Also, don’t forget about the book giveaway for Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars! That will go until Saturday 9 PM.

Last, I would appreciate if you could like my Facebook page, and you can find that to the right. Share it too, if possible. I want to start utilizing it more instead of just having it sit there.

My Writer's Bag
My Writer’s Bag
The Madness of Pre-Release Marketing…Again

The Madness of Pre-Release Marketing…Again

Emily the Strange #1, Dark Horse Comics (Augus...
Emily the Strange #1, Dark Horse Comics (August 2005) I feel just like this. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My fiancé and I did some thorough research on this SEO optimization thing, only to come to one conclusion: that I have no time to manage the maintenance of my own wordpress.org website and certainly don’t have the money to hire someone to do it. I keep reading articles that mention people shy away from SEO because of its complexities, but I’m shying away from it because of its power to be time-consuming. I have to work my part-time job, for my  health I need to do ballet, for my book I need to keep on top of social media and blogging, and for my writing career, I need to keep writing. I’ll also be starting school up in the fall where I will have to drop some of my work hours, so where can managing my own .org database fall into this? It can’t. It’s simply impossible. I barely even have any time to read. I need to get to reading a proof from an author looking for pre-release quotes. I’ll probably end up doing that during work today instead of checking my traffic results.

So instead of stressing about this SEO plugin, I’m just going to have to start using Google AdWords to choose the strongest keywords that will yield more search engine results to my website while expecting WordPress to deal with all the maintenance and junk. I also need to buy my own domain simply because it looks better.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep doing weekly book giveaways. I might have to hold off on doing one for one week simply because my fiancé wants me to buy IMAX tickets for Superman (I also said I would anyway), and that’s pricey. But I do want to keep doing this because not only is it the best way to bring in an audience, but it’s a way for me to thank my followers because I don’t always have the time to return the favor by visiting their websites, even though I do my best to read the posts that I find in the Reader. I also try to visit the websites of frequent visitors to mine, but I think books for now are the best way of showing that appreciation.

I am still trying to crack the code of how to use Tumblr as a viable form of social media. I just think the best way to do this is make very visual blog posts and talk about my writing life. Since Tumblr is filled with aspiring teen writers, they think it’s amazing when you land a book deal, so talking about that is likely to get me more attention than talking about it on, say, Twitter, where authors often frequent anyway and getting a book deal to them anymore is like eating a Skittle. Skittles still taste great, but you can’t have just one.

For Twitter, I’m going to do my best to attend scheduled chats that relate to blogging or writing or both. I also need to take my author’s page on Facebook seriously, but, half the time, I never know what to do with it, so more research is necessary for that.

Also, if my contract manager can’t afford to (because she will be spending some money on marketing, something you don’t find at a lot of houses), I’m going to take the leap and buy an ad on BookBub. I’m going to do more research though to see how effective this really is because the ads are pricey. It’s lucky I’m doing young adult because YA ads are $200.00. But I have crazy dreams and I don’t stop until I’ve achieved them, even with monetary risk.

 

Publishing a Book: A Single Interview Question

Publishing a Book: A Single Interview Question

I really don't drink. I can't drink anyway because of my meds.
I really don’t drink. I can’t drink anyway because of my meds.

So someone, after scouring through my Tumblr, posed this question to me, and while I already answered it, I decided to create a better answer in the form of a blog post.

Was it difficult to get to where you are today? What did you have to do?

Yes, it was difficult. I had to pretty much struggle on my own because while I did find decent beta readers, they couldn’t do for my story what needed to be done–the sequel to When Stars Die. While they were able to point out what was wrong, they couldn’t step outside of the box and present to me a different way of going about it. Instead they were trying to fix what was already there instead of what wasn’t there, and I needed the latter. I just didn’t know it at the time.

It wasn’t until I stumbled across YALITCHAT and decided to intern for its Founder did I really begin to learn how to write. She obliterated my first chapter. I was so daunted at first because I never had anyway tear the chapter apart. In fact, people loved it, but they were only trying to fix what was there. The founder told me to start my story earlier, that the chapter could work if I did that, and I was just astonished. How come no one had ever told me that before? How come it took a professional freelance editor who charges a hefty sum to tell me that? Perhaps I should have learned to reach outside the box myself, but no one was telling me that.

I had a short story published before meeting this brilliant woman, but novels are so much different, and at the time, I was more of a short story writer, even though I wanted to be a novelist. It was lucky I had never subbed a novel before though because I probably would have learned some very difficult lessons. So I interned for her and she looked over my book. My writing was spot on, but my novel storytelling skills needed some work, and I learned immense amounts from her on the art of storytelling, something that, in spite of reading many writing books and receiving critique from others, I couldn’t manage on my own. I was lucky, blessed even, to have found her. I had to work hard for her, and she in turn worked hard for me.

As soon as she sent me critiques, I got right to work on them and sent them back to her within two hours. I struggled the most with chapter three. I re-wrote that thing five times before finally understanding that something needs to develop every chapter, be it character or plot. She believed in me and my story, as did I.

Unfortunately, for reasons that have nothing to do with her editing, we had to part ways, but I took what I learned from the sequel and applied it to When Stars Die. The sequel couldn’t work as a first book because there was so much information within the first half alone, so I had to unearth the prequel and get to work on it because it spread the information over the entire book. The sequel simply reiterates it and reveals more historical background of my world. I re-wrote When Stars Die five times to get it to its current story. It was not easy, especially because I was going over everything by myself, with no one reading it, not even a single word or sentence. After I re-read it a sixth time, I finally sent it out to my beta reader and took a break from writing (because of burnout and depression).

Depression made me apathetic about my writing career. I no longer cared about When Stars Die. I couldn’t even care that my beta reader loved it. She even had chapter-by-chapter notes for why she loved it, instead of simply shoving it back at me only saying she loved it with nothing else. But I had to get my stuff together. I couldn’t throw away  a childhood dream because depression was trying to tell me the happiness I sought wasn’t worth it. I found AEC Stellar, took a chance, and got an acceptance within a few days. I was, again, lucky and blessed. So even though I got accepted on a first go around, I had to pull teeth to get myself as a writer into shape to be able to create the story found within When Stars Die without needing a professional telling me this is what I should do. Now, of course, I’m going to have edits, but the point is that I was able to do this on my own, with only one beta reader, because the Founder of YALITCHAT taught me how to be my own self-editor.

It is never easy to become a great writer. A good writer. Even a decent writer. We can dream, but we also need to strip ourselves of this grandeur that we have when approaching writing. Any published writer will tell you that in spite of having a contract, it is no fairytale getting there.

Our Slice of Heaven Among Mental Illness Hell

Our Slice of Heaven Among Mental Illness Hell

So lately I’ve been thinking about how to use Tumblr as a marketing platform to reach out to teen readers. Then I realized I don’t think that I can. Tumblr’s great to retreat to when I need more personal advice, but I don’t think it’s so great as a marketing platform for anyone. The people on there fit the ‘misery-loves-company’ phrase perfectly, and it honestly makes me very angry.

My therapist told me I should use the depressing parts in my novel to hook them, but honestly, having to do that makes me a little sick. These are the same people who will post triggering pictures in innocent tags (like ‘bipolar’ or ‘mental health’) with a complete disregard that those pictures will affect someone negatively, like me. I then realized these people are content with misery.

I get it. Mental illness sucks, but it angers me to no end when people don’t even try to find happiness. I remember speaking with one boy on Tumblr who absolutely refused to acknowledge that his parents were just trying to help him, who believed everyone hated him, and kept reminding me that he hated himself too. It made me angry because he came to me for advice and was throwing it all back in my face. You can freaking change your thinking, even though you can’t change the way you feel. You can work to find happiness, even when depressed. You can’t sit around waiting for something when a slice of heaven takes a battle to have. I understand depression makes you think and feel these things, but this is why you go to therapy and listen to your therapist’s advice when he/she tells you to separate yourself from your mental illness.

I have no sympathy for people who drown in negative thinking while actively refusing to do nothing about their thinking and insisting they can never be happy when they haven’t taken a single step toward working for that slice of heaven. People like that infuriate me because even while I was depressed I was fighting to get better through therapy, ballet, work, and medication. I didn’t lie down and die. There were days where I let myself drown in the feelings, where I wanted to die, but not once did I consider stopping my medications, no matter how much they weren’t working for me. Happiness was something I wanted, and I knew that for someone with a mental illness, obtaining it would not be easy.

Why do some mentally ill people not want to be happy? By actively refusing to take a single step toward happiness, people are essentially saying they’d rather drown in misery while making others miserable around them (and yes, we do need to be considerate of those around us, even when ill. Constant misery can make others miserable) rather than trying to find some way to be happy.

If you can’t take care of your emotional health first, don’t expect others to take care of it for you.

Do Not Deny Yourself Help, My Fellow Spoonies

Do Not Deny Yourself Help, My Fellow Spoonies

While I am a very sympathetic, sensitive person, I am getting to the point where I have hardened on some things in regards to healing from psychiatric illnesses. Refusing help because you are afraid of stigma is one of the biggest things that rankles my nerves raw.

The stigma is real. I get that. But you’re not helping the stigma by refusing to reach out.

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The above quote does not mean you can fix your mental illness through your thinking. It simply means that the way you think about things can help the way you feel about them. I accept my bipolar disorder as any other illness, and because I do, I don’t feel so bad that I have this disorder, which allows me to accept it so that the next time I’m depressed, even severely depressed, I’ll know what I need to do in order to take care of myself.

In any case, by refusing to reach out, you are damning yourself to becoming worse. Close friends and family don’t want to believe in your illness? Seek help elsewhere. This will take work on your part, but you WILL be able to find at least one person willing to listen to you. Even at my severest I found people, people I didn’t know too well, that I was able to talk to and they were able to fuel my thinking about my illness by telling me their stories as well. Hell, go online and reach out through chat groups and allow this reaching out to fuel your thinking.

I know a lot of introverts use the internet as an escape from their illnesses. And that’s great. It’s good to have a blog you can dump your feelings on as a way to find others similar to you. What’s not good is using misery to find misery.

On Tumblr, in the mental illness tags, teens will post incredibly triggering pictures claiming they help them cope. Those pictures are not helping in the least. If they were, you would be getting better. I’m not going to post any of them, but I can tell you triggering pictures are only fueling whatever it is that is going on in your mind that made you post the picture: self-harm, suicidal ideation, anorexia, bulimia, ect…

Pictures like this enrage me because it is almost an active defiance of a refusal to get better. Depression makes you not want to get better because depression doesn’t want you to get better–or mental illness in general–but that is why you have to reach out in a healthy manner. When I was suicidal, I would go to online chat groups with others who were. We wouldn’t even talk about suicide. We would talk about everyday life or how to cope. Heck, what helped me most was helping others who felt on the brink of attempting, and my suicidal feelings would disappear after that. I didn’t let myself stew in those feelings. Why the heck would you want to? They’re terrible.

The point is don’t actively refuse to get help because of your thinking. Stigma be damned. Be one of the ones to help remove stigma from psychiatric illnesses. More and more people are beginning to understand, I can promise you that. People who don’t want to understand aren’t worth it, and you need to realize that.