Hello, dear readers, and welcome! I hope you're having a wonderful March.
I've been very busy the last few weeks, partially recovering from a cold, and partially allowing myself to be inspired -- and therefore plotting new stories, as I always am.
Today's blog post is about keeping track of your progress. Also, if you'd like check out my Crimson Sterling post for today: Don't Be Afraid of Success...Or Mediocrity. Links are up for the pre-order of my first (official) Crimson novel, Midnight Terrors, on BN.com, iBooks US, iBooks UK, and more!
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We live in a fast-paced world. I'm sure I've said this before, but the more time I take to really sit down, and allow myself to become inspired, to notice things that I wouldn't otherwise, and to allow my stories time to become, instead of rushing them along, the more I notice this...and the more it frustrates me.
It used to be that authors shut themselves away and wrote, wrote, wrote, taking their time with their stories, and perhaps releasing one every few years -- and this was alright. It used to be that writing was a solitary thing, and in many ways it still is (unless you count the author's interactions with her characters, then it's more like a party), but even that has changed. People can now publish quickly, get books (well, e-books) in seconds, and it has become an expectation for writers to write just as quickly as they can publish.
It's a frustrating time to be an author, just as much as it's a great time. More is not always best, and quick is not always best, either. It can become disheartening if you are only able to release one book a year, and see others releasing ten; you start to think that you're inadequate -- and if you're anything like me, that is the worst feeling. But as I've said in a few of my previous posts (check out: Shattering Author Expectation, Stopping the World, and Writing To Be), we can change all of this, if we want to.
I can choose to take my time, and I can appreciate my right to do so; it works better for me, and better stories come out of me taking my time.
But, what I wanted to focus on in this post is cataloguing -- or, keeping track of your progress -- and how we as authors can use this to our advantage, and how it can be both fun and fulfilling.
I am currently reading the book "Show Your Work", by Austin Kleon, whose book "Steal Like An Artist" I absolutely loved (I recommend both; you can find them at his website), and it talks about just this. Writing used to be a solitary job, but now we have the ability to make it a bit more community oriented -- and we have the ability to control how munch we share, and how much time we put into it, which is important.
If you're like me, you can't have too many things in your head at once, or you can't focus. I can't listen to ten conversations, watch a film, read a book, and then expect myself to be able to write; there are too many things clogging my mind, too many distractions. But, I can use social media to my advantage by showing others what I'm working on, or use the tools in my phone, computer, or even notebook to keep track of my progress.
We spend so much time focusing on the end product that we don't enjoy the journey -- and what would Bilbo Baggins' journey have been like without Rivendell, without Mirkwood, without his fateful encounter with Gollum and the Ring? It would have been boring to walk out his door, end up at the Lonely Mountain a few steps later, and then step back into his home. He had to go "There and Back Again", and so do you.
Life is a journey, and writing is a journey, too. Any undertaking is a journey, and the traveling is much more exciting, and teaches us much more, than the ending of it. If you catalogue your work, you can really see how far you've come, and you'll appreciate every small moment even more. So what if it takes you three months or three years? It's your own personal "There and Back Again".
Take pictures of things that inspire you, of your word count, of your expression after finishing chapters or scenes, and put the photos in a scrapbook. Log your word count into a file or notebook, write down how you felt about different scenes, summarize what happened in those chapters. Take videos of yourself writing, flipping through finished pages, anything to make you feel accomplished. There will always be a new book or project, but this book, or this project, will never happen again.
Don't let the little moments slip by while you're awaiting the big ones.
And while you're having these moments, share them -- if you want; no one is obligated to do anything. Let your readers know how excited you are, and they will be excited, too. Instead of having one, big ending party, have a bunch of little parties in between.
Life is too short to miss out on the adventure that every day brings.
Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Wednesday post!
Today I have an interesting post, spawned from a discussion with my writing friends and sister-in-law. I hope you enjoy it!
Also, be sure to stop by my Crimson Sterling blog for Writer's Wednesday Inspiration: How Do We View E-Books? Readers VS. Writers.
Also, an announcement: I wanted to let everyone know that I'll be writing a few less blog posts from here on out, on the Crimson blog and on this one. With all of the projects I have going, it's getting to be too much to handle. So, I'll be posting on the first and third Wednesdays of the month from now.
Onto the post!
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I had an interesting conversation with some people who are very close to me the other day, concerning books, and writing for kids (mainly teens, in the conversations).
My sister-in-law just finished the last book in the Divergent series, and she was not very happy. Now, I only read the first book (I didn't like it that well), but I haven't read the rest of the series, so I can only go by her opinion. However, she pointed out two things that concerned her:
1) The main character is often putting herself in dangerous, suicidal situations, and says she doesn't care about her life (I saw a bit of this in the first book).
2) The main character and her love interest have an age gap between them. I don't recall how old the man is, but he's over 18, a legal adult, and the protagonist is under 16, a minor. Not only are they in a relationship, but they end up sleeping together.
Again, I haven't read it, and of course you could argue that it's a Dystopian world, and the laws are different, but in the end, I think it's less about the rules of that world, and more about how kids and teens in our world will look at the contents of the story, of any story.
The book worried my sister-in-law, a teacher, because her students are reading the series. Teen suicide is a large problem, and to her, it seemed very much like it was being glorified, which isn't good, especially because some of the kids she knows have had friends commit suicide. And of course, the bad relationships in teen books are frustratingly rampant, and a book where a minor and adult are together in every sense doesn't really help matters any.
I believe that, as an author, if you write kids or teen books, you have a certain obligation to think about -- really think about -- what you're putting into your books, and how the ideas in said books will affect your young readers. Are we perfect? No, of course not, and everyone has different ideas about what is moral and not, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't seriously consider the implications.
Kids are still growing, teens are still growing, figuring themselves out, figuring the world out. A child isn't going to think like an adult does, because they haven't reached that level yet; there isn't anything wrong with it, it is simply what it is. You can put a book, full of pretty much anything -- awful characters, situations, etc. -- in front of an adult, and it will impact them somehow, but they are old enough to judge and fully understand -- and a child isn't, not in the same way.
When I was a teenager, I read the Twilight series, and I liked it. I thought it was romantic, etc., etc., as many teens did, but when I got older and revisited it, I didn't like it nearly as much, not really at all, because I could see all of the flaws, romantic especially. As an adult, the book made much more "sense", but as a teen, I didn't see it in at all the same way.
I have read so many authors' comments about how it's not their job to babysit kids, that they aren't parents, teachers, etc., but I disagree. We can't do all of the teaching, and we shouldn't, but that doesn't mean we should ignore the issues -- or the opportunity. If you are writing for teens or children, you choose to write for teens or children, and that means you should think about what you're putting into your stories. Lessons are good, and you can use bad situations to make a point in the right direction, if that's what you want to write about, but we should also be responsible with our writing.
You have the chance to make a difference in a kids' life -- a good impact, a good difference. Maybe the child who picks up your book has parents who both work two jobs, and don't have nearly enough time for them, though they try their best. The child may spend more time with you, the author, through your book, in a week than they do their parents. Is this your fault? No, it's not anyone's "fault". It simply means that the writer has a unique chance to do good in that young person's life. Growing up, my mom worked a lot. She would spend time with me, but she still worked plenty of hours, and I know that I definitely spent more time with books than with her; my young life, and many of my thoughts, were shaped by the stories that I read.
Nobody is perfect, and no story is perfect, but the next time you sit down to write a story for kids, try and think of how they are going to view it, and what you can do to make it the best story possible for them.
Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
It's not Wednesday yet, but I have some fantastic news anyway. This week, starting March 2nd, is "Read An E-Book Week 2014", and to celebrate I'm offering amazing discounts on my e-books at Smashwords, where you can download e-books for whatever e-reader suits you best.
What is Read An E-Book Week? You can read an interview with the founder, Rita Toews, in an article from Huffington Post (2010), and see for yourself how fun this event can be.
All of my non-free titles will be (or are, depending on when you're reading this) 50% off their list price March 2nd - 8th in participation of RAEW, so if you're looking to do some great reading, then please take advantage of the sale, and if you wouldn't mind leaving a review on Smashwords, Goodreads, etc., when you're finished reading, that would be fantastic; every little bit helps. I'm extremely grateful for your support, and I hope that you enjoy!
Coupon code (starts March 2nd, ends March 8th): REW50
The Ending (Phantasmagoria Duet #1) ~ FREE to download!
Clara Claus (Snowflake Triplet #1) ~ FREE to download!
The Christmas Wish (Snowflake Triplet Short) ~ FREE to download!
50% off titles ~
The Beginning (Phantasmagoria Duet #2)
Lyrics of the Heart
Sugar Plum Dreams (Snowflake Triplet #1.5)
Christmas In July (A Snowflake Triplet Short)
Clara Snow (Snowflake Triplet #2)
The Beauty of the Beast
My Smashwords page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/AlexandraLanc
Also, if you're in the mood for some adult fiction, particularly of the Post-Apocalyptic variety, check out my Crimson Sterling page for awesome discounts on my Exe Lore series: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/CrimsonS
Thank you again! Happy reading.