Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
Today I wanted to talk a little bit about what I consider "social writing" -- or posting drafts of your work online, generally at least parts or wholes of the to-be-finished product (or sometimes the finished product). I don't mean for BETAs, but for anyone to read.
You may be familiar with sites like Wattpad. There are plenty of other sites out there like it, including the new Write On from Amazon, but since Wattpad is the King and I'm familiar, I'll probably be focusing on it.
I'm not sure any of us are ever pros at publishing, especially since the rate at which things change is high in the industry at the moment (though there are certainly many things that never change), but after nearly 5 years of self-publishing, I've tried many things: and Wattpad is one of them.
To be honest, I enjoyed posting on Wattpad. The readers were generally very nice, and it was really easy and fun. I didn't get too many hits on my stories, mainly because I'm a somewhat slow writer, and I tend to jump around from one project to the next (within a confined number of projects), so updates were tedious, one of the reasons I decided to leave. Also, unfortunately for me, I struggle with posting anything for free -- I worked hard on it, after all! -- and part of this is probably due to the fact that I cringe at the thought of posting anything unfinished, no matter how excited I am about it. When I was young, I was very into art (I still love it, though writing has taken over a bit), and I remember covering up my work in art class, so my teacher could not see it until it was finished; I hated showing anything before it was finished. Looking back, I suppose this was an early sign of my beastly perfectionism, with I war with daily.
I've gotten much better since then, and have become comfortable with sharing my drafts with my very picky friends, my editor, and a few trusted others...and I'm working on sharing a bit more. Feedback is necessary and important, and it isn't something that we should ever ignore. But when it comes to getting feedback -- and sharing our work -- how much is too much?
Social writing sites like Wattpad are places where you can post your drafts, your finished work -- whatever you want -- and get feedback, not unlike fan fiction sites of the past and present. And while this sounds wonderful, because who doesn't love feedback and excitement from readers, it can also become frustrating. Writing is a close art, a fragile art in many ways, and some writers (not all, mind you, because everyone is different) need space to get their ideas and visions out. If you're allowing others to comment constantly on your first draft as you're creating, you may end up with too many voices in your head, and therefore lose some of your vision. Even my close friends and editor, who are always up front with me and offer wonderful feedback, don't get to see the first drafts of many of my stories; I also like the fact that some pieces of writing are mine, and mine alone.
So, can this be solved by posting your draft after it's finished? Or perhaps posting a second draft? In a way that sounds fun for both reader and writer, but it still leaves an issue: offering writing for free.
I'm certain this has been debated before, torn apart, but I still want to offer my two cents. I've spoken many times about how frustrating it is that e-book prices are low (for what is, to the author, the same content), that authors feel like they have to offer books for free in order to gain readers (and in some ways, they do), but I'll try not to rant upon it too much.
I understand the value of free books in a crowded marketplace, and therefore free books on sites such as Wattpad. People love to point the finger when authors talk about pricing, and ask readers to pay for things, saying that we're greedy or only care about money, but that isn't the case -- not for me, or for a lot of other writers. I love writing because I love writing, and there's really nothing more to it...but that doesn't mean I don't want to be paid for my work; no one wants to go into work, work their designated hours, and not get paid. Offering free books can lead to sales later on, but it can also not lead to sales, and often it doesn't. I have "sold" I can't tell you how many copies of Clara Claus for free over the years, during specials or to gain readers, and though the reviews are positive and the fans love it, there aren't nearly as many reviews as sold books, nor as many sold sequels; obviously there are readers who enjoy the story, and there are copies sold of the relating books in the series, and that thrills me, but the frustration lingers at times.
The most important thing to me is that people read, and enjoy my work. I honestly hate money, but it's a necessity, which makes my desire for readers to read and enjoy difficult. A place some point out to authors who are frustrated over free books is the library, which offers free books to the public, but I love the library, and here is where another contradiction pops up. I understand that not everyone can afford books, and so I do offer my books free to libraries through Smashwords. There was a point in time where my family had no computer, no internet, and certainly no money to buy books, and the library was invaluable to us. I love libraries, and I understand that to some people, sites like Wattpad are libraries -- ones where they can interact with their favorite scribes, and be a part of their creative process. Generally, however, the library would pay for the book (unless it is offered free or donated), and that is a difference.
I have no issue with free reading sites, as long as authors are supported -- not just by words but monetarily, because we deserve it...but I do worry that, as time goes on and more free books and free sites pop up, not to mention pay by month plans like the Kindle Unlimited, and sites like Scribd, will readers want to keep buying books, when they can read them online for free? Where will authors, already underpaid, be then? I'm sure I'm not the only concerned person, and it isn't just books, but everything. I don't see us going backwards, and these sites disappearing, because we are a sharing culture, but I do wonder where perfectionists, who are very protective of their work, and are nervous and worried about sharing it in an unfinished state, fit into this world.
Alright, enough about prices -- let's get back to the nitty gritty: writing.
Talk of being nervous or unsure about sharing may come as a surprise from an author who spent much of her teen years (and beyond) writing fan fiction. I believe that I started writing fanfic when I was around 13, much later than many of the people my age. I loved it, and would update quickly, delving into the story. It was a lot of fun, and very much like the platforms we have now (and of course, there are plenty of fanfic platforms, including the one I used to use, around still). So why does sharing writing now seem so impossible and frankly a little bit terrifying?
As I said above, the more you share, especially if it's in the middle of a first draft, the more feedback you get, and the more voices there will be in your head. It's extremely hard to find your own voice if there are too many around you -- like trying to sing in the middle of a screaming crowd, and be heard. Not only that, but writing your own fiction and writing a fanfic are two entirely different things, even though they both consist of writing (I may talk about that in another post, but basically it's your own thoughts, versus someone else's, which are already preconceived, with a skeleton for you to add to or manipulate). But the most important thing, I think, is the closeness a writer has with their first draft.
Would I ever go back to Wattpad? Possibly I might. Like I said, I did enjoy it, though I still war with the idea of free books and sharing drafts. Only time will tell.
Looking back to those days of fanfic writing, or writing my first few stories, I can truly agree with Thomas Mann, who said: "A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people."
Writing only gets harder as you go along, even if you love what you're writing. The easy reason is: we care about what people think. It's difficult not to, even when we know it really doesn't matter. We want people to like our stories, to see the beauty in them, and perhaps that is why social writing is so popular: because we all want to be liked, and to be part of each other's lives.
There is also one more, very important thing, to consider: are you writing to write and have fun, or to publish? The two are becoming closely correlated with sites where reading is free, or almost free, but they are still very different. When I was writing solely to write, I found it much different (and a lot easier, honestly) to write than when I write to publish, even if I will publish the work far down the road. There is a different mindset between the two, and sometimes it's difficult to separate businessperson and creator. There is nothing wrong with wanting to write to entertain, to just have fun, but as that grows, again, how might it affect writing as a career?
No one can say what is right for you when it comes to your writing, but I can say that we are a very social society, for both good and bad. Sharing work may gain us feedback, more readers, and more purchases, or it may not, but it's not a choice to make lightly, and there are plenty of options for everyone, and not necessarily a right or wrong. Before you post, be sure to look at how it might affect you, your writing, and your process of crafting stories.
Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
In December, I wrote a post about how I was journeying from self-publishing to querying, and about part of my journey as a young writer. Some time has passed since then, and I'm ready to add a second piece to this story as I participate in Purple Day.
Purple Day is an international day for Epilepsy awareness. I actually had no idea it existed until recently, but am extremely glad that I found out about it. Epilepsy is a disorder with a lot of stigma, and there is plenty to learn about it and the wonderful fighters who have it. For more information, and links to other sites about Epilepsy, you can visit: http://www.purpleday.org
So, this post will be a little bit about writing, and a little bit about Epilepsy, two things that impact my life constantly.
You may recall from my previous post on being a young writer that I was looking at querying agents again, and trying out for traditional publishing once more. I received plenty of negative comments about this (on another site), ranging from I didn't know what I was doing to I was being foolish, but I also received plenty of uplifting comments, too, and some people wrote that I inspired them; I cannot say how great a feeling that is, to know that I have inspired someone to keep moving forward towards their dreams, whatever they may be. I feel that these comments are reflected when I mention my medical issues to anyone: some people feel pity or misunderstand, and some people look at me and say "you've overcome a lot", or "you're a very strong person". Now that I think about it, I hear that concerning my own writing and publishing journey, too, though it is sometimes hard for me to believe it.
I have gone far, yes, and I've mentioned this before -- but I still have so much further that I want to go; we all do. But I learned something recently that really helped to open my eyes: we cannot control time, but we can control what we do, and through that we can do the best that we can, and allow fate to take its course.
It sounds simple, but it's true; I'm sure I've thought or said this before, but it finally clicked. We can only do our best, and we should be happy in doing that, because then we are being the best people we can be. My best may not look like yours, but so long as I am trying my best, I know that I am doing all that I can, and that is a beautiful thing. By doing my best, I have helped to inspire others to do theirs, and I am eternally grateful for that opportunity.
Back in December, I started sending out queries for my giant project containing vampire (because I love them), the first book still dubbed Midnight. I spent a mass amount of time researching agents, agencies, and publishing in general, where I brushed up on info I had looked at some time ago, and in the following months I received e-mails back. In those e-mails were words of encouragement, though no bites so far as representation. Then at the end of February I went to a writer's conference (my first!), and received even more good info, encouragement, and some tips. I cannot thank the people who have encouraged me all these years enough, starting with my family and friends, and extending to other writers. We never know what our words will do to somebody, so I think it's very important to remain kind with them, so that when we speak to others, we can hope to encourage them as these lovely people have encouraged me.
At the end of the conference, one thing was clear: I needed to do another re-write. This was advice given to me from a fellow author and an agent, to explore the idea some more, and rewrite what I had; the advice was reflected by countless others over several days, all without knowledge of what I had been told, and I recognized the signs. At first I struggled with the idea, and battled against it, but eventually I realized that they were right: I needed to take my baby down from the shelf, and re-examine what was special about him.
Shortly before this, and even afterwards up until now, I had to do the same thing with myself.
I have battled Epilepsy as long as I can remember, and it wasn't until recently that I felt at all comfortable with speaking about it, even a little bit. I grew up feeling very alone and strange, because I only knew one other person -- who I didn't meet until I was nearly 20 -- who had Epilepsy, and he has a different type than I do, unfortunately having to carry around a lunch pail full of pills to take each day; I am very proud of him, though, because he lives life with a giant grin on his face that I know is real. As a child, there were plenty of days where I had to spend most of my time in the infirmary at school; as a teen, I was coping with a recent car accident that had caused head trauma, and even more issues than before; as an adult, I struggle with worsening symptoms, and how to work and function despite them. But a few months ago, at a peak of loneliness, I was blessed by meeting several people, all at once, who struggled with some of the same issues I do, and suddenly I did not feel so very alone. In truth, we are never alone: there is always family, old friends, new friends waiting to be had, all who will help, support, work to understand, and love us -- and if you believe, there is God, too.
When I decided to rewrite Midnight, I understood that it would take a while, and that my dreams would not be fulfilled overnight; they never are, despite what the movies make you think, but then we appreciate them more if they take time. Living with Epilepsy isn't easy, and working with it isn't easy, though I am determined, and know that I can accomplish my goals -- maybe not in the time I want, but in the time that I need.
If there is one thing I have discovered, it is that good things really do take time. There are plenty of days where I honestly can't do much, and often it's extremely hard to even function, but I push on. I have learned to understand that doing my best is really all that is required, and that I should be proud of my best. Learning to judge how much I am capable of in a given day does not mean that I am not capable, but that I am smart when it comes to my health. I love the days that I can write for hours upon hours, can work for a long period of time, but they aren't many...and now I see that by learning to take things more slowly, to do what is best for my health, I have uncovered better ideas, and more appreciation for the world around me, the people in it; I feel like I gain more insight. By working more slowly, I somehow see things more quickly. And I believe that everyone needs a chance to slow down, to really soak life in.
For me, looking into the mirror and being able to say "I have Epilepsy" was hugely helpful, because it connected me to other wonderful people around the world who struggle with the same thing. It's difficult to admit that there's something "wrong" with you -- but I've come to see that there isn't anything "wrong" at all, merely that there's an obstacle to overcome, and we all have obstacles, every one of us, no matter what shape they come in, or how they manifest. We can all be successful, can all do our best, can all enjoy life, if we're willing to accept and love ourselves, and be determined.
Maybe it isn't exactly how I pictured it, but I am grateful for how far I've come so far. It's always been my dream to become a published writer, one connected to a big house, and that dream hasn't gone away -- and neither has my love for self-publishing, or my want to publish more. I love to tell stories, to experience them, to see the world in new ways. It's not easy, meshing my Epilepsy with writing and business; part of the reason I would like to have a team backing me is because it's difficult to manage it all myself, when I only have so much time to work in, though I'm under no delusions it will be easy, or that all of the burdens will be lifted, or that it will even be the right fit. But I have already seen that I can accomplish things, and reach dreams, and this is just the beginning: I have books published; I have reviews; and most importantly, I have readers who enjoy my work, and I enjoy writing and delving into my words and worlds. I am still reaching further towards my dreams, the biggest one of which is writing some amazing stories, but I am grateful for all that I have done so far, and the wonderful life that I have been given.
But most of all: I am determined.
Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
I hope you're excited, because today is the start of my latest giveaway! I've been talking about it for a few weeks now here on the blog, and the day has finally come. I'm very excited to be doing another giveaway, because I love spreading the gift of reading to as many people as I can, because I love stories and the way that they shape our lives.
Today's giveaway is focused upon my upcoming release, "As Long As Forever", a novella I've had in mind for a while, inspired in part by my father, and in part by Doctor Who, one of my favorite television shows. This novella is one I wrote when I was experiencing a bit of distance from writing and life, and it not only helped to cheer me up, but to get me back into the writing groove once more. I'm extremely proud of it, and it's become one of my favorite stories I've written so far -- about hope, love, and possibilities.
"As Long As Forever" officially releases on April 7th, with pre-orders now available (you can pre-order at: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Australia, BN, iTunes, Smashwords), but with this contest you'll have a special chance to win and read the new novella -- before anyone else! I'm also giving away copies of my bestselling novella "Lyrics of the Heart", and the second short in my Beastly Tales, "A Beast Of Beauty".
There are plenty of ways to win, but please, if nothing else, leave a blog comment. I'm asking my readers "what would you like to see more of in fiction, and why?", and I'm really curious to know! I definitely would like to see some variety, and may include answers in a future post.
How it works:
Entering / Giveaway Running Time: Enter the contest below by tweeting about the giveaway, following me on Twitter, answering my special blog post question, and more. Some ways you can enter more than once, or daily, so keep an eye out! The giveaway runs from March 23rd through March 24th (Eastern Time), and prizes will be delivered by March 26th. Winners are chosen at random by computer.
Delivery: Prizes will be delivered via Smashwords coupons by March 26th. E-books at Smashwords are downloadable in various formats for most major e-readers and computers.
Prizes: The first ten winners will be gifted an e-book copy of "As Long As Forever"; the next three winners will be gifted an e-book copy of the bestselling novella "Lyrics of the Heart", and the last three winners will be gifted an e-book copy of "The Beauty of the Beast", the second story in the Beastly Tales.
Best of luck, entrants, and thank you for visiting!
Wait! There's More!
Ready for a scavenger hunt? Somewhere on the Beastly Tales page is a link containing a Smashwords coupon for a FREE e-book copy of "The Beauty of the Beast", the first story in the series. Scavenge the page and find the link -- and coupon code -- and grab a free copy of the short! The link may be hidden within another link on the page, such as the iTunes US "A Beast of Beauty" link, or within a picture, or other text within the page...or the link may take you to a different page, but keep trying! Poke around and find the link -- but hurry! The coupon is only good until the end of March 24th. Enjoy, and happy hunting!
Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
Today I will not be posting a Monday Blogs post, because I am taking a spring break! We all need a break once in a while -- to gather ideas, get some rest, recharge, be inspired -- and this week is my week.
You never know what you might find by taking a break!
Next Monday is the start of my Secret Ebook Giveaway, the details of which you'll discover then. It's going to be a lot of fun, and there will be chances to win my upcoming release, As Long As Forever, so please stop back by!
Have a lovely week, everyone!
Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
Today I am writing a short post, because I have noticed, like quite a few writers, that I have not been writing much lately, and I want to fix that (and though I love blog posts, they don't quite count -- in the same way -- as my books).
So, let's talk about writing. How much do you love writing? Why do you write? And, perhaps most importantly for this post, when do you write?
As a kid and a teen, I used to spend hours writing. Sometimes I would spend the whole day writing (I don't recommend this, as it's extremely hard on your arms and a hands to not take a break). The words would flow easily, and I didn't care how odd or ridiculous the plot was; holes could be patched later. But as we become adults, we are hit by this thing called peer pressure, and it never really goes away, and that can at times make writing difficult -- not to mention jobs, time on the internet, all of the things our busy schedule entails. We are lucky, at times, to see our family, let alone write.
But I have come to view writing as a relationship like any other. The more you write, the better you get to know your characters, your plot, and yourself. You have to carve time out for that relationship, to spend time with your writing and your world, or it puts a strain on your writing and your comfortableness with it. It's hard to shake off the the thought of "what will everyone else think?", but the more time you spend with your story, the more I believe you will become comfortable with your writing, and even though this thought may creep upon you, the more likely you are to shake it away.
We cannot write forever, but we cannot ignore writing, either. It's more than just sitting your butt in a chair -- it's making a commitment to write, to put words down, even if they are only a few.
Blog News ~
As I mentioned last post, I will be running a special contest in a few weeks, something fun to celebrate the new, updated website, and my upcoming release As Long As Forever.
The dates of the contest will be the 24th - 25th of March, but that's all I can say for now! Check back soon for more details.
Want to pre-order As Long As Forever? The novella is available for pre-order at these retailers: BN.com, iTunes, Amazon, Smashwords. Thank you for your support!
As I wrote a few posts ago, I've been working on updating my website -- keeping it similar to what I had, but giving it a brand-new color scheme, some new pages, and an image boost.
Please browse around and take a look! On the Home page is my proud new logo, also pictured in this post; to read the story behind it, visit the About Alexandra page. You can also find new social media buttons, and a new page displaying my Beastly Tales series, a re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast. There are several other updates, as well, so please explore the site!
Contest Alert: In a few weeks I will be running an exciting contest featuring the new site, and my upcoming book "As Long As Forever" (you can read more about it on the Home page, or the Short Stories and Novellas page). Be sure to return regularly for information about the contest. You won't want to miss it!
Have a wonderful week, and thanks for popping by!
Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
Today is the birthday of the great Dr. Seuss, an author whose wacky books I grew up reading. Where would we be without the Cat in the Hat, the Lorax, or Horton the elephant? Probably somewhere similar to where we are now, only not nearly as fun and inspiring.
I have liked poetry and rhyming from a young age, and Seuss' rhymes were probably my favorite, with their wacky characters added into the mix. I read most of Dr. Seuss' books as a child, of course starting with Green Eggs and Ham, and the notorious Cat. My personal favorite was always the Grinch, up until I read one of his lesser known stories, The Sneetches, when I was in my teens, and fell in love with the little yellow, star-bellied creatures (if you haven't read The Sneetches, check it out; it's very cute).
Today, in honor of Dr. Seuss, let's have some fun! Below are some facts, quotes, and a bit about how Dr. Seuss has inspired me.
Dr. Seuss Facts:
~ Theodore Seuss Geisel was born on March 2nd, 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts.
~ He accredited his mother, who would soothe her children to sleep by chanting rhymes from her youth, with his ability and desire to create rhymes himself.
~ The first known use of the pseudonym "Seuss" were his contributions to the Jack-O-Lantern, Dartmouth College's humor magazine.
~ He attended Oxford university after graduating from Dartmouth College, in order to please his father, but was bored with his studies and toured Europe instead before he came back to the states, and began work as a cartoonist.
~ He created advertising campaigns for Standard Oil for more than 15 years.
~ He worked with the US Army during World War 2, developing a series of training movies featuring animation.
~ His first Seuss book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected 27 times before being published by Vanguard Press.
~ He was asked to write a children's book using only 225 "new reader" vocabulary words - what became The Cat in the Hat.
~ At the time of his death, he had written and illustrated over 44 children's books; his books have been translated into more than 15 languages. There have also been several children's televisions specials, films, and a musical.
~ Honors include: two Academy awards, two Emmy awards, a Peabody award, and the Pulitzer prize.
(Information found at: http://www.catinthehat.org/history.htm)
Dr. Seuss and I
When I truly started on my publishing and writing journey, aged sixteen, the fact that Dr. Seuss' first book was rejected so many times was of great comfort to me -- and he's not the only one; many of our greatest, most beloved authors were rejected numerous times, some even after they had published a successful book. But Dr. Seuss was one of the first writers whose rejections I learned about, and when I would become down after receiving one myself, or when writing was difficult, my mom would ask me: "And how many times was Dr. Seuss' story rejected?" and I would feel better.
As a child, I loved all things weird -- and who am I kidding, I still do, to this day, love all things weird. Dr. Seuss' weird was just the right kind of weird for me, with zany characters, rhymes, and fun, but it taught me things, too. Things as a child, and things as an adult. I can look back now, and remember the weird, zany, fun books that I loved as a kid because they were weird and crazy, and always showed up when I seemed to need them most (often at the doctor's office, where there was a little table full of children's books; no one likes going to the doctor's in the first place, but it's not quite so bad when you have the Cat in the Hat to keep you company), and as an adult I can re-read them and become inspired -- not only as a writer, but as a person. I think it's important that you never lose the ability to be inspired by everything, even a children's book (many of which are really good, really uplifting, by the way, and we should probably read more often).
There is a big world out there -- a writing world, a living world, a breathing world. I am a writer, and so when I read I am inspired to write as well as live, but everyone can be inspired in different ways by good quotes and good books. We just have to keep looking, and to keep celebrating -- like celebrating today.
To wrap up, here are some of my favorite quotes from Dr. Seuss, and a bit of Seussical the Musical!