Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mood, Feelings, and Emotions

Personally, one of my biggest suggestions is not to write when you're sad or mad. Sometimes, it really messes with the atmosphere you're trying to create within a book/poem/chapter. However, if you must write, I suggest using your current mood to your advantage.
For instance, if you're mad, put your character in your shoes, make them mad, and write. If it fits later on in the book, great. If it doesn't, no big deal. At least you got to write something. If you're sad, make the mood in the book somber. Relate to your characters, make them relate to you, and write. If you're all feeling the same emotions, the emotions come off as being extremely strong to the reader. If you're mad when your characters are mad, sad when they're sad, happy when they're happy, or thrilled when they're thrilled, the mood of the book goes from being only imaginary to being way more realistic.
When you're actually upset, you don't have to imagine what your character would do when they're upset. You're upset, and that automatically gives you an inside look at how they might, or definitely would, react. This goes for every single emotion, not just the aggravating ones. Believe it or not, it really does help set the mood in a very, very realistic fashion.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Knowing People

In any career, it's always good to know the right people. Personally, I know a lot of people that use a lot of technology. These people are close friends, family, and teachers. These people help me gain publicity. I'm not asking them to do it, but they do it anyway. It helps a lot more than you may think.
In writing, this is good. Especially when you're self-publishing. When you self-publish, you're in charge of your own advertising. You don't have a big publisher or an agent to do it for you. It's up to you. Having people that are willing to help with that is amazing. Writer's blogs, technology conferences, technology blogs, Twitter, Facebook… whichever. I've been advertised by these people on many different devices. My English teacher helped me get an interview for the newspaper.
Long story short, avoid getting on someone's bad side. You never know when you might need their help.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Getting It Done

I have a lot of people that ask me how I get my work done. People seem to be confused as to how I can sit in a loud room and still work on my books. The answer is simple.
Obviously, your motivation may be different, but mine happens to be music. Once I put in my earbuds, the world disappears just long enough for me to be able to write a good chunk of my book. However, there is a really important rule to this. It can't just be any kind of music. It has to be something I'm used to.
If you're used to the music, if you know the words, it's easier to shut it out and ignore it. The music is there to shut out the world, but I also can't allow myself to focus directly on the music. I have to focus on the words that are supposed to be coming from my mind, to my fingertips, and then to my iPad screen. If I've never listened to the song before, if I'm not already in my zone, there is a great possibilty that I won't be able to focus on my book. Instead, I'd be paying attention to the music that I now want to learn to memorize.
In turn, that happens to be a slight problem. So, again, I avoid listening to anything I've never listened to before while writing. If I'm not writing, I'll listen to anything.
For me, it's not even only limited to music. I listen to comedy acts, too. Sometimes, I listen to Youtube videos that I've watched more than once. All that matters is that I have recognizeable sound that cancels out the other sounds of the real world.
For some people, silence may be the answer. However, I can't stand to sit in silence of any sort. I even listen to music when I'm sleeping. In closing, I only have one message to get across with this post:
Find what works for you and then utilize it. Utilizing your strong points allows you to move forwards in anything you do, whether it be a project, homework, or your life in general. It can apply to anything that you allow it to apply to.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Finding Time

People think that you need to have a lot of time available in order to write. Really, you don't. You can even just write a word or two every few days and be fine. I'm only going to say one thing: find time to write.
Personally, during a busy school day, I write during my lunch break. I'm great at multiple-tasking, so I take advantage of that when it comes to writing. When I'm not in class or doing homework, I'm typically writing. 
Well, I've set that time aside specifically for my writing. And, sometimes, I don't always get to write every single day. And that's fine. You don't have to write every single day. That's what's great about it. Your novel's/poem's/short story's feelings won't be hurt because you left it alone for one day. 
That's what I love about writing. 
It's not needy. It doesn't need your constant attention. You can put it down and come back at a later date. Your work doesn't care. It will wait for you for as long as it needs to. It understands that you need some alone time. It understands that you're busy. It understands that you'll come back when you're ready. And it's fine abiding those rules. It'll be there for you whenever you're reading to come back to it. 
So, simply out, just find time at some point. It doesn't have to be right this minute, not this hour, not today, not even tomorrow. It can wait for as long as you need it to. When you find time for it, it will be ready for you. Keep it waiting or don't. Either way, you're fine, and it's fine, too. 
As long as you find time for it before you get bored of it, you'll do great. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015


When it comes right down to it, most of my time is put into my books and their manuscripts. More recently, I finished the third edit on a 65,000-word book. Halfway through the fourth edit, I realized I didn't like the book. It created a lot of problems that I realized should have been addressed in the first - already published - book of the series. It created even more problems with the two books I had written to follow this one in the series. I didn't know how to fix it. More so, I didn't want to have to read through a book that I hated again just so I could try to fix everything that I thought was wrong, every flaw, every imperfection, that my eyes could find within this book. Instead, I did something pretty insane.
I trashed the entire book.
I introduced new characters, new killers, new victims (it's a detective book, no worries). People that used to be fast friends now currently hate each other. Characters have new, in-depth back stories. The crime scene organization, the killer's M.O., my main detective's strategy… it's all changed. Almost nothing's the same.
Now, of course, I didn't completely get rid of the old book. I emailed it to myself in case I changed my mind. I still have it saved to my documents. I'm using it as a reference. Some of the scenes are exact copies from the original book. Other scenes are the same, but they have more descriptions. Some scenes are completely new to the book, and others from the original simply don't exist anymore.
And you know what? That's okay. You don't have to like your first product. That's what editing and polishing are for. You can change the book as many times as you want before it goes public, before you let anyone else even look at it.
For what it's worth, you'll probably never see your own manuscript as perfect. You may never even see it as being good. That's my main problem. That's when you bring in a good friend, someone you trust and value their opinion. You don't want to get a friend that will tell you it's good no matter what they actually think. You want someone that's going to be brutally honest, despite your friendship. At the same time, this someone needs to give constructive critism. If they think something isn't good, they better have a specific thing that isn't good or at least a suggestion on how to make it better. If they don't, they most likely don't think it's that bad. They may have just wanted to pick a random flaw they thought they had seen.
If that's the case, find someone else. It can be another writer, it can be a fellow reader, but it doesn't have to be. Most of my people that give opinions are people I've met online. And they're honest with me, because they're not afraid of hurting my feelings. That's the kind of person or people you're looking for when you need opinions or ideas.

Friday, March 13, 2015

About Me and Writer's Block

Hey, there! I'm Courtney, a seventeen-year-old aspiring author.
I think one of the questions I get asked the most is "Who or what inspired you to start writing?" Really, I have never known how to answer this specific question. I still don't know how to answer it. I have loved reading and writing ever since I was five or six. Since that point, I have written a lot of stories. I say written, but it doesn't mean that I've finished them. Sometimes, I start writing and then lose interest in the topic or get lost in the writing. Whenever that happens, I can't continue. Bye-bye book. And then I have to start over.
But, in November of 2013, I finished writing a book. Let me back up for just a second. In October of that same year, my history teacher gave me an opportunity to spend a fair share of my class time learning about something other than history, as I was doing rather well in his class. When he asked what I wanted to learn about, I automatically had an answer. And I only had one answer: writing. So, that's what I did. He spoke to my English teacher and made arrangements so that I could spend class time with her to work on my book(s). Trust me, all three of us were absolutely thrilled about this idea.
Near the end of that October, my English teacher decided that I should be writing a book for NaNoWriMo - or National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo challenges people to write a 50,000-word book within the entire month of November. If you meet the goal, you win little prizes at the end of the month. I was stoked about the idea.
So, I started writing. I ended up finishing my book a couple days before the deadline, which would have been the last day of November. And, I'm not going to lie, juggling school and NaNoWriMo was a little stressful. Writing really does take more time that just sitting down and writing. You have to allow yourself time to take in what you've written so far and discover how to move on from that. Great focus is absolutely amazing when you're writing; it really helps you keep your thoughts going down a single path. But, at the same time, writer's block really likes to strike when you're on a roll.
Writer's block prevents us from progressing in our book, in our writings. Writer's block keeps the ball from rolling. Writer's block is like a scientific force that just stops the ball. And that really, really sucks. Sometimes, it lasts for several days, not just minutes or hours. And let me tell you, it's even less fun to deal with when you have to complete a whole book in one month. Luckily enough, I've had a lot of practice dealing with writer's block. Here are my tips.
Stand up, walk around. Go outside, listen to your favorite song. Drink some coffee, eat something. Do what works for you to get past the brick wall. That's the important thing to remember, here. You have to do what works best for you, what works for you might not work for someone else, and what works for someone else might not work for you. And then, of course, you can't always get past that brick wall, that force that's stopping the ball from rolling again. That's when I suggest just taking a long break until an idea comes to you. Honestly, my ideas come to me all the time, and at the most random points in my day. I could be fixing supper, writing, playing a game, washing my hands, or doing something completely different, and an idea will come to me. I walk around the house physically talking out, and acting out, a scene that should happen in my book, including dialogue; it's the easiest way to remember it all. That's when I go to my iPad or my notebook and write it all down before I forget. Because I can type a lot faster than I can write, I typically choose my iPad rather than the notebook. For the same reasons, I keep my iPad by me at almost all times, even when I'm sleeping.
This way, if I get an idea while I'm sleeping, I can literally just roll over, turn on and unlock my iPad, and type it all out. Without my crazy habits, my books would never be finished. There is no way I could ever remember ideas without writing them all down. But, back to NaNoWriMo.
Shortly after I finished my book, my English teacher arranged for me to meet with a published author friend of hers. Now, not everyone has this opportunity, but I was lucky enough to have it. We talked for a while, I read her a passage in my book, and she gave me some very helpful tips about writing. She even told me how to go about getting published. After that meeting, I sat down and began to edit my book. Editing takes more than one read through, especially if you plan on editing the whole thing all by yourself. My English teacher actually sat down and did her own edits on the book and let me decide if I wanted to add them or not. I made a fair amount of her corrections and then took another three passes at my book before I decided it was good enough to go my next step.
Through NaNoWriMo, I found CreateSpace, a self-publishing website. Keep in mind that everything I did on this website was absolutely free. You can design you own cover, choose what you want the interior to look like, and even add your own author photo for free. CreateSpace also offers several paid options. If you don't want to design your own cover, they will design one for you, but it does cost extra money. Due to me being sixteen at the time and not wanting to make my mom buy all of these extras from CreateSpace, I made my own cover. CreateSpace actually has their own cover creator that you can use for free to make your cover. It works rather nicely for someone who has never made a book cover.
Once my cover was made, I added in my actual document. CreateSpace sent it though several procedures to make sure the words wouldn't be cut off once printed. This process alone took me a very long time. Your margins have to be exact and so does your gutter. The gutter is what took me forever to figure out. I had never used a gutter before because I had never attempted to publish anything until that point. The gutter is basically the spine of the book. It allows the pages to fold over each other without cutting off any of your words.
Once I finally figured out how this worked, it was smooth sailing from there on out. I had to add some more information, check over my book a couple more times, and send it in to be proofed. CreateSpace proofs your book simply to make sure everything will be okay once printed. This can take up to twenty-four hours; however, mine was done in a little under twelve hours. They send you an email once the proof is done. You're required to submit that it has been proofed and that you're satisfied with the product.
At this point, you can start setting your book price, royalties, and what platforms you want to sell on.
CreateSpace also allows the creator to sell on Amazon and AmazonKindle, which I decided to do. So, I went over to Amazon, put in my book title, added my cover, added some background information on the book, and sent it in to be reviewed. By the end of the day, my book had been published on Kindle. At the age of sixteen, I am a published author. My book is available around the world, both as a paperback and an ebook.
The next July (2014), NaNoWriMo held another contest. Write a book in one month, but you got to set your own goal. I decided to do that one as well. If anyone out there wants to be an author, I highly suggest starting with NaNoWriMo. As long as you meet the word goal, you win prizes. NaNoWriMo is all about helping potential authors around the world become known for what they love doing: writing. Hand in hand, NaNoWriMo and CreateSpace are free programs that help people turn their dreams into reality.
Within nine months, I went from being nothing more than a teenage girl with a dream to a teenage girl that had finally fulfilled that dream. It's truly amazing what a person can do simply because they had people rooting for them on the sides. And, with the right amount of determination, support, and effort, you can do it, too.