Monday, December 29, 2014

Where To Begin

A dream come true...
ten years in the making. 

Since I recently came out as a writer, I've had a few people approach me, confess their own dream of writing a novel and ask, "But where do I begin?" 

For me, the answer is simple. It all starts with an idea. I probably get at least three ideas for a novel a day, although only a fraction of a percent of those are good enough to scribble on a note pad. If you are having trouble getting the gears turning, just keep playing the "what if" game in your daily life. What if gifted children were recruited by the government to train for space battles? What if my school was actually an academy for wizards? What if my classmates and I were forced to fight in order to feed our families? Obviously this method works better for fantasy and sci-fi novels, but you get the idea. What if someone's mother died suddenly and a recovering drug addict was left to take care of his brother with down syndrome? What adventures would come to pass if a small town girl moved to L.A. to pursue her acting career? 

Susanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games, says she got the idea for the popular disutopian novels one day when she was channel surfing. All of the channels were either showing coverage of the war in the middle east or reality TV shows. She said that it all started to merge together in a very distributing way. Ideas can happen anywhere around us. Anytime. You just have to keep your mind open in order to let ideas flow in.

I'll admit, I'm lucky. I've had the idea for Onyx Moon ever since I can remember. I would stay up late at night telling myself stories before I fell asleep. Sometimes they would bleed into my dreams. I began to "go" to the same place every night, and on the long bus ride to school. Over the years, characters developed and a plot eventually followed. By the time I was in high school, the story was bursting out of my brain. I didn't do to well in my classes. I was too busy day dreaming for all that nonsense. I finally got a hold of a bulky desktop and managed to get out the first few chapters. I took a semester off from college, where I only paid attention to my writing courses anyway, to focus on the rest of it. Boys and a social life ultimately got in the way for a while, but I finally finished it about a year after I was married. During those years, I had changed a lot as a person. I tried to edit the manuscript to reflect those changes to morals and spiritual beliefs. Looking back at the "Book" file on that bulky desktop, it was just a skeleton of the story I am proud to call my own.

I still have a long way to go with Onyx Moon. Two more books - at least. But I've had a long time to flesh out the story and I know if I concentrate, the plot holes will fill themselves. I specifically chose a part-time job where I would have a lot of time to let my mind wander.

It wanders too much. I have an idea for another fantasy series that has been nagging me lately. A few months ago, I was scrolling through Pinterest when I stumbled on a subject that seemed to be getting a lot of attention on my pin feed. My husband was engrossed in a fantasy video game at the time and I imagined a world where my latest Pinterest fascination could be widely explored. The idea spread as I went to work that day. I found characters and conflict and began to map out the cities on the concrete floor I was forced to spend 8 hours on. For days after that I couldn't sleep. Scenes played out in my head instead of dreams. I overheard countless conversations of people that didn't exist. But the more time went on, I couldn't deny their existence any longer. I finally sat down and mapped out the story and started the first three chapters. Since then, other projects have called my attention, but I can confirm that these new books will happen. They will just have to wait their turn.

In short, coming up with ideas are hard. Don't force it. Just do what you do in your daily routine and always question how things could be different. Keep your mind open to possibilities and don't ignore those random thoughts that might seem ridiculous at first. And it helps to have an annoying brain that never shuts up. :)

~ Coming Soon ~

* Book Review : On My Way Home by Allie Walker

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Top 10 Reasons You Should Read More Indie Authors

Independent Authors. The small businesses of the writing world. While I can't speak for every indie author, and every reader's opinion, here are some key points I've found while researching independently published books on Kindle. Like me, you'll probably be surprised by what you are missing. I encourage you to explore this rapidly growing sub-culture of books.

10. Hidden Gems

Make your hipster friends jealous by being the first among them to discover an amazing book! Bring something new to the conversation by reading something not everyone else has read. Not only will you be able to enjoy the book yourself but you will feel good knowing you introduced something fun to other people.

9. Indie Authors Are More Approachable

I believe it's safe to say it's much easier to get a response from an indie author than say, George R.R. Martin. Just about every author has a Facebook or Twitter account,  but so many of them are run by marketers or creative directors that you don't know who is actually reading or responding to your post. Since indie authors do everything themselves, they might actually respond! I've gone straight to Facebook and messaged several indie authors, letting them know I did a review of their book, or asking them a question. I've always gotten a reply within minutes, or at least that same day.

You may have to wait hours in line to get a quick scribble in your book at a J.K. Rowling signing. But since indie authors have a fraction of the turn out, they are happy chat with you and answer any questions, in person! (Not that all authors aren't ecstatic to have you there. Some just have less time for each individual fan.)


8. Indie Books Get In Your Hands Faster

Cutting out an agent, busy publishing supervisors, and a team of marketers also cuts out a lot of time. Typically, an indie author will finish the manuscript, wait for peer responses, revise, then send it to a copy editor. Since they don't have to wait for anyone to give them the green light, you most likely won't have to wait a year to find out what happens next in your new favorite series. 

7. They Do Everything Themselves

Since there is no big publisher to back them, all the work falls to the author. Especially marketing and sales. On top of editing, cover design, interior design, and formatting, they are constantly promoting and working to get their books on shelves. Word of mouth is the best kind of promotion, so your support is greatly appreciated. 

6. More Opportunities For Freelance Workers

Every author wants their book to be as polished as possible, inside and out. That's why a lot of indie authors will hire freelance copy editors, graphic designers, and reviewers to help. By purchasing an indie book, you are actually supporting several people.

5. Story Is Exactly As It Was Intended

Publishing companies are looking to fill very specific niches. When they buy the rights of a story, they can make whatever changes they want to plot or characters to fit the mold of a specific market. But when you read from an indie author, there are no unwanted influenced or puppet masters. Think of it as an organic reading experience. 

4. Just Because It Was Published Independently, Doesn't Mean It Wasn't Good Enough To Get Published Traditionally.

Do I think Onyx Moon is good enough to get published traditionally? Absolutely. So why isn't it? That's a whole other cup of cocoa. But the bottom line is, publishers have limited resources and time. A book has to float in a treacherous sea of analytical financial charts and graphs before it is even considered for publication. This is how thousands of amazing stories each year slip through the cracks. With indie authors, you can be the judge.

3. You Can't Argue With Free

It's common for Indie Authors to release the first Ebook in a series for free in hopes you will be snared in and buy the rest of the books. But watch out --- it works!

2. They Are Not In It For The Money

I can't speak for everyone. But I can say the best part of this is holding your book in your ands and seeing it on your shelf, or even better, someone else's. Some Indie Authors make a considerable amount if money. Most don't. But you can bet they love what they do, and that is the key ingredient in a good book.

1. They Need Your Support

Starting out --- No marketing team. No top rate expensive promo plans. No fan base. It's you that helps them get ahead of the game. It's you that makes their dreams come true. So don't just read an indie author, support them! Like their book? Review it on a blog. Post it on facebook. Rate it on Amazon. Reviews and rates on amazon are like tips for indie authors, and their business depends on it.