Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
Today is New Year's Eve (for me; it may already be New Year's day for you - congrats!), and in celebration of this year, I wanted to write a special post thanking my readers.
This has been a crazy, insane, more than somewhat chaotic year for me, and I want to thank you, readers, for sticking by me through it. Most of you probably have no idea what this year has been like for me, as I don't normally write about personal things, but it has been very, very rough, especially the last six months.
I've had Depression since I was a teenager, when things were also extremely difficult, and I know that a lot of people deal with it. For a while, I was mostly okay, but something this year triggered it, and it came back worse than ever. They say you can't really describe Depression in a way that fits, and I agree. There were days I felt down, days I felt like I couldn't breathe, days when I wanted to burst into tears (and I'm not a crier), and days when I literally could not get out of bed. The keyboard stared at me, but I couldn't do anything with it. I knew I was someone, but I couldn't remember who. Life had come to a jarring halt, and it hurt -- it hurt worse than I can ever say.
But, I learned things. I kept a journal. I overcame, and now I feel much stronger for it. There are still days that are bad, but after a while, I decided that I had had enough; I didn't want to live like this any longer. I think we all get to that point, and I applaud anyone who fights the battle I fought, or who fights any battle at all.
I remember that day, when I decided that I had had enough. I was at my second job, minding a kitchen, and that was the day I literally could not breathe, could not shake the awful gloom. I felt as though I might drown in my tears. My co-worker asked: "Are you alright?", and I knew that was the moment that I was done; I was so, so done.
I think we are bred, almost, to answer "yes" to that question. Yes, everything is alright. No, nothing is wrong. But if there's anything I learned this year, it's that it's okay to not be okay; there's a song somewhere that says the same thing. It's okay not to know what to do next, but it's not okay to stop fighting to find out.
In case there's anyone else dealing with the same, I just want to encourage you: don't give up, and don't give in. It gets better, it really does. We have to have faith that things will improve, because they will, but at the same time, we can't simply sit and wait for them to get better; we have to be proactive, because faith takes action. Everything takes time, but no matter what the pain, it's worth working through to be the best people that we can be. We cannot control everything, but we can control what we do, and how much we strive to meet our own visions and destinies.
If you're not dealing with the same, I promise I didn't write this to make you feel bad. I genuinely am very, very thankful for everyone's support this year -- for all of your lovely comments, reviews, and fun conversations. You are part of what kept me going on, and I thank you for that.
I can look at the keyboard again. I can type. I can smile for real, and I can deal with whatever ugly trials come my way. I have climbed a mountain, and the hills are not so difficult anymore. A New Year is coming, and for the first time in my life, I am genuinely excited to meet it. I am determined to make this year, this life, everything that I can.
Thank you, readers. Stay strong in your New Year, and persevere. See you in 2014!
Some songs I've found inspirational. I don't own any of these.
Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
I've been mentioning, lately, on both Tumblr and Twitter that big, exciting publishing changes were coming for me, and now with the New Year approaching, I want to start telling you about them.
I've been very, very busy getting everything prepped for these changes, and I will continue to be very busy throughout the beginning of next year, especially. It's very exciting, and a lot of hard work. First off, I'd like to thank everyone for being patient for this news, for re-blogging/re-tweeting about it, and for being generally excited, as I am.
Concerning Adult Fiction ~ The Birth Of A New Universe
You may have noticed, if you've been looking around Amazon and Smashwords on my page, that some titles have come up missing -- Break, Midnight, Eternal Dark, Read the Flower 1+2, and Writing With Inspiration; they will be disappearing from Nook, iTunes, etc., as well. Please don't worry, these titles are not disappearing forever. In fact, they're going to be transferred, bit by bit, to be under my new pen name.
Yes, you read that right -- my new pen name!
This is perhaps one of the things I'm most excited about, as far as publishing. Since most readers are familiar with Alexandra Lanc as a YA author, I have decided to add a new pen name for my Adult fiction, both to make it easier on readers, and to make it easier on me. I'm not revealing the name just yet, but it's pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself.
I'll be sprucing up the website quite a bit in the coming weeks to include my new name, and the books that have vanished for a bit will return.
This leads me to another fun bit: how these books will return.
Midnight has been one of my most fun projects yet, and along with my new name, it and Eternal Dark both will be getting a makeover; new chapters, added content, not to mention new covers. The series has expanded, and it's going to be a thrilling new world for readers.
I have decided to finish writing Read the Flower and release it as a solo novel -- but, for fans of Reader Participation, don't fret, because readers will still have a fun way to have their voice heard with the novel release; more on that as it grows closer.
Break will return with my new pen name, with Burn, the second of the Exe Lore series, to be released in early 2014.
Writing With Inspiration is being worked into another, larger book on writing that I am crafting.
More updates are to come, and many more changes! Until next time, I'm working hard on crafting new worlds and new words. :)
Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
I want to wish you a Merry (Happy) Christmas! It's warm here in Florida, unfortunately, but I hope it's cold where you are -- or even if it isn't, I hope it's wonderful all the same. I will be spending the day with loved ones, and reflecting on why I love this hopeful time, and I pray that you are able to be with family and friends, too.
As a special Christmas present, I've written you a short story from the Snowflake Triplet series! Please enjoy the tale, and I'll be back after Christmas to give you some big, big publishing news.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
~ Shadows of Christmas Yet To Come ~
A Snowflake Triplet Short
By: Alexandra Lanc
~ ~ ~
One Wintry Christmas,
A Smallish City,
A Center for the Needy
Jack Frost didn’t know what bothered him more: the fact that his best friend, North – calculating and often overly right about everything, also the patron of the Northern Wind – had actually managed to convince him to come to the run-down building, or that he had allowed himself to be dragged there at all; it wasn’t like him, to be pushed around, even if it was for a supposedly good cause. And yet here he was, standing before the slightly dilapidated building – North beside him, casually sipping from a paper coffee cup – Jack feeling his throat growing thick with old memories.
This place, these people, standing in line outside in the mild cold, waiting patiently for their turn (and hoping to give their families a somewhat joyous Christmas at least), reminded him far too much of the past, of his old life, and most detrimentally, they reminded him of her--
Of Molly, his sister – now dead, forever gone.
Two years it had been now, and still the wound was fresh, raw, painful more than normal around this time of year, around Christmas.
“Remind me again why we’re in Florida of all places, in front of a building decorated for that cursed holiday,” Jack demanded of North, turning his icy blue eyes from the building and the waiting line to his only friend, who appeared calm and collected as ever.
North didn’t look at him when he spoke, but there was a slight smugness in his monotone voice as he spoke, before casually taking another sip of coffee. “We are here because it was requested of us. It is our duty to see if this center is in need of any provisions – subtly, of course,” he said, before he turned his haze to Jack, dark blue eyes holding an abundance of wisdom for his supposed age. “Don’t let your hatred of Christmas get in the way, please,” he requested, though it was more a silent plea.
If anyone understood Jack’s pain, it was North, and for that the patron of frost was grateful; at least someone understood him to some degree. And yet it was aggravating to be asked to try and satiate his hatred for the holiday, the very thing that had torn his sister from him.
“I’m going to find some way to destroy it, North, to get rid of it. The world would be better off, and you know it – I would be better off without Christmas,” Jack told his friend seriously, though he worked to remove the grimace from his face, transforming it into a grin instead. “I have a new plan this year, much better than last year. It’s nearly perfected, and just in time,” he said, referring to the devious idea he had constructed to destroy Christmas once and for all; he had yet to share it with anyone, even his only friend.
North sighed, took another sip of coffee, and spoke, still watching the people gathered in line, the line moving more slowly than one might have thought; this showed that the people inside, the volunteers, cared about the needs of the people they were serving, and that was a good thing at least, even if Jack didn’t like the idea that it was all in the name of Christmas. “You know, I believe therapy would be much more beneficial for you, instead of attempting to destroy a holiday that brings many people joy, despite its commercialism,” North continued, but when Jack shook his head vehemently, he relented – for once. “I hope this plan of yours is more creative than the last – lighting fire to the sleigh was not the wisest course of action,” he mused, a ghost of a smile appearing upon his face.
“That was poor judgment, I’ll admit,” Jack said quickly, before he frowned once more, and crossed his arms, turning his attention back to the slowly moving crowd. “So, what do I have to do so we can get out of here?” he asked, the thickness appearing in his throat again, as if he were going to allow tears to fall, though he didn't wish to succumb to the sadness he felt – not in a public place, anyway.
He spotted a young boy, there together with his father, and it was like he was seeing into the past, because once, that had been him. He had spent much of his childhood in places like this, and all because his father could not kill his bad habits, and his mother could not give up her addiction to drugs, to forgetting. Jack wondered, and not for the first time, how many people could have been helped, if his father had only decided to put his family first. How many people, like the ones waiting in line, most of whom genuinely appeared to need help, had been turned away due to that lack of responsibility?
Jack took in a deep breath, let it out, and attempted to shove his all too difficult struggle with the past into the past, where it belonged. He could not afford to let his thoughts get away from him. He may have agreed to come with North to help these people, and if there was something he could do to make their lives better (even in the name of Christmas, though it made him cringe), then he would do it, but ultimately, he had to focus on his goal of destroying the holiday; he couldn’t let anything get in his way, even the smiling faces of kids as they received a special, new necessity.
He knew exactly what Christmas was, and why it needed to be gone: it promised something it could not deliver – happiness for all – when it was only those who could afford it who ended up ‘happy’. North was wrong about this one thing.
North laid a hand on his friend’s shoulder briefly, as if sensing the inner war being waged, before he indicated the waiting line with an incline of his head, gaining Jack’s attention once more. “I believe you will find a way to aid if you stand in the line and speak to some people. I will travel inside and inquire about what may be done,” he said, before he withdrew his hand from Jack’s shoulder, and quickly did just that, disappearing into the smallish building with a grace that reflected the wind; fitting and humorous, really.
Jack grumbled beneath his breath, hunched his shoulders in annoyance, and started towards the line, ending up at the very end of it. He waited a moment, staring at the back of a woman’s head, before he cleared his throat, and suddenly the woman turned around. There were bags beneath her eyes, and her hair was slightly displaced, her sweater a bit worn, but her eyes themselves were bright and hopeful – as were the eyes of the girl whose hand she held, who stared up at Jack with wonderment, her gaze zeroing in on his oddly spiky, snowy white hair.
Jack was used to the stares.
“Hello,” the woman greeted, her lips curving into a smile. “It’s a busy day, isn’t it? I hope we’re able to get in,” she said, an inch of worry creeping into her gaze.
Jack rushed to assure her, without even thinking about it, saying: “Oh, I’m sure you will. My friend and I are here to, um, donate, actually,” his frown dipped further downwards out of embarrassment, but the woman simply laughed, her smile growing.
“Thank you so much. They really do need it, the center. It’s just so hard, you know, keeping up with everyone, attempting to meet everyone’s needs. Sometimes there’s more than they can use, but most of the time there’s less, and it makes it difficult,” she said, a sadness Jack understood all too well creeping into her eyes, a weight that only one who had seen the bottom of the barrel understood. “I don’t know where we would be without these amazing people, and their help. I’m trying my best,” she said then, looking down at her daughter, who couldn’t have been more than six, gripping the child’s hand a little bit tighter in hers.
Jack’s chest constricted, and he rushed to assure her once again, this time consciously. “Don’t worry, it doesn’t last forever,” he said, pouring experience into the sentence. “Things will get better. It just takes time,” he finished, somewhat lamely.
But obviously, the woman understood. Tears pricked at her eyes as she nodded, telling him: “Thank you.”
Her daughter spoke up then, breaking the silence with an observance only a child could make humorous as she said, rather plainly: “Your hair is like snow. It’s pretty,” still staring up at Jack’s white locks, pointing with her free hand.
“Thanks,” he said, managing a smile as he looked down at her, and then crouched to her level, like he had done with his sister...before; she had been quite a few years younger than him. In fact, this little girl reminded him much of Molly. “You don’t mind coming here, do you?” he asked her then, surprising himself.
He had always been embarrassed, ashamed, both because his father was purposefully cheating the kind, giving people who helped them, and because he could do nothing to make his situation better – to make his sister’s situation better. By the time he had been able to make anything better, even the smallest bit, she had died.
The little girl grinned, shaking her head. “No, I like it!” she said joyously. “Mr. Mark is nice, and Miss Johanna is nice, and everyone else, and the last few weeks there has been a bigger girl helping, too! She’s really nice, and so pretty, like a doll,” she said, grinning when speaking of her friend.
“Good,” Jack managed a grin, too, as the young girl reached out to tug on a lock of his snowy hair, and he chuckled; that never did get old. “It looks like you’ll be able to have even more fun with your friend today,” he added as he patted the kid on the head, and then began to stand, casting a icy glance at the line, which was starting to pick up pace a bit – a subtle sign, he felt, that North was calling him away.
Yes, they still had a job to do, and after that...he still had a plan to implement. He was glad that children like the one before him were getting something out of the Christmas season, but he knew all too well how many children didn’t, and he couldn’t ignore that.
They had, through his father’s scheming, managed to make it through tough Christmas seasons when he was a child, but that did not make up for what they had lost. Never had the infamous Santa Claus visited their home, and never had someone come to take them away from the life they had endured. It was perhaps wrong to blame Christmas for the faults of others, but Jack couldn’t see past his anger, even for moments like this--
He wasn’t sure if he would ever be able to see past it, for anything.
“Later, kid,” Jack said, throwing a hasty wave the girl’s way, and earning a grin in return, before he started off, quickly meeting up with North, who waited at the corner of the next street, a new cup of coffee already in hand.
Jack shook his head at the sight, and North fixed him with his blue, blue gaze. “If you are entertaining the idea of finding humor in my drinking coffee, slay the idea now,” North said, slight smile in place, before Jack could even speak.
Jack shook his head, stuffing his hands into his coat pockets as he leaned against the trunk of a small tree, somewhat bare in the mild cold, the tree fitted into the sidewalk to make it look as though nature was still important in such industrial times. “I wasn’t going to say a thing,” he lied, before fixing North with his signature stare. “So, where are we off to? What do we have to get?” he asked then, wanting to get the job done.
Christmas was closing in, and he only had so much time to begin work on destroying it.
“Follow me,” North said, mysterious as ever, before he began to lead on.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Some time later found Jack staring at a doll, neatly nestled in its packaging, wondering if the young girl he had seen earlier would like it – or if she would even be at the center still when he and North returned (assuming that they did; they could have it delivered, he supposed). The toy didn’t appear especially special to him, as most toys did not, but in its own way, he supposed it was a thing of beauty, and more than anything...it reminded him of his sister once again, causing another pain to ripple through him.
His sister had liked dolls, even more than she had liked the action figures Jack had as a child, which he had saved simply in case, worn as they were. She had wished for one, in fact, for years as a child, and though he had done his best to make her one, finding odds and ends, and picking up the rare, usually heavily worn doll at various centers they had visited, he had never been able to get her a new beauty, like she wished. He had attempted to convince his father one year to buy the present, even going so far as to say that he would skip eating, gaining new socks – anything, so his sister could have what she wanted most...but his pleading had only gained him a bloody beating.
Santa had never helped. Christmas had never helped--
And worst of all, Jack had once again been unable to do anything. He was still unable to do anything, save dream of destroying Christmas, of hopefully ending his sorrow, of living the rest of his immortal life in a somewhat happier state than he did now.
Sometimes, Jack wondered if destroying Christmas was worth it – but then he remembered his sister’s lifeless eyes.
He had been unable to do anything then, Molly already gone, but now...now, perhaps, he could do something.
Jack made a decision, and pulled the doll from the shelf.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Jack clutched the package he held a little bit tighter as he hurried along, loafer-clad feet moving swiftly over the pavement, so anxious and excited and yet strangely sad, icy frost appeared wherever he stepped. The center was now in view, the line still there, the sun above beginning to wane a bit, and just when Jack was sure that he was too late, that his unforeseen kindness had been all for naught, he spotted the young girl from earlier, sitting at a small, child-sized picnic bench that had been placed in the withering yard out front, her mother not far off, speaking with someone he was sure must have been a volunteer. The girl sat alone, and she was busy coloring a picture, but the paper and crayons across from her hinted that another child, perhaps the friend she had spoken of, was in the vicinity.
Jack stopped, took a deep breath, nervous now for reasons he did not understand, and then made his way to the young child, who had yet to notice him.
He had promised to only be a few moments, North waiting for him in the same spot he had occupied earlier – drinking tea this time – and he did not intend to be longer than that. He had a flight to catch, as did North, Jack on his way to spread more frost across the globe, and to still find a way to sneak to the North Pole to end Christmas.
Maybe St. Nick would call a council meeting – though Jack didn’t fancy the idea of seeing the Sugar Plum Fairy right now....or any of the other council members, for that matter.
Stepping towards the child, still nervous, Jack cleared his throat, and abruptly the girl turned to face him, eyes widening. “Snowy hair!” she shouted joyously, obviously what she had dubbed him, not knowing his name, before her eyes landed on the package he held, and her mouth dropped open a bit in hopeful surprise.
“Well, I saw this, and thought you might like it. The rest of the provisions are being dropped off by a truck, but I figured I’d deliver this in person, to make sure it got to you,” Jack explained, completely unnecessarily, because by the look of both shock and joy on the girl’s face, she hadn’t heard a word he’d said.
Instead, the girl slid from her seat, standing to face him. “Is that...for me?” she inquired, eyes still large, so full of hope that it nearly broke him.
This is what he was destroying, what he was ridding the world of: Christmas.
Or...or was it? Jack wasn’t doing this because of Christmas, because he had to, because the commercialistic view of the holiday told him he should – he was doing it because he wanted to; Christmas, the holiday he hated, had nothing to do with it.
Jack wished then, looking down at the girl, that he could give up on being filled with anger and sorrow – but he knew he couldn’t. He simply wasn’t strong enough, not yet. Perhaps some day he would be, but right now, it felt as if that day was so, so far off.
Until then, he would put everything into his goal. He would not relent. He had promised his sister, upon the day of her death, that he would avenge her, that he would not let her death pass unnoticed.
Tomorrow, or the next day, or some day after, he would destroy Christmas--
But, for today, he was bringing brightness, not cold or darkness, and it did his heart good to see someone happy, more than any present received ever could.
Jack nodded, gently handing the girl the present, which she took reverently, handling it as one would a baby. “Yeah, it’s for you. Sorry I didn’t get to wrap it,” he said, not really sorry about the wrapping, another bit of Christmas. “Just take good care of it, okay?”
“I will! I will! Thank you, Mr. snowy hair! Thank you!” the girl said, before she turned, set the present down upon the picnic table, and rushed to hug him, making Jack feel warmer than he had in quite a while. “Merry Christmas,” she added, stepping back after a moment.
Jack had vowed to never say those words again, but this time – just this once – he allowed himself to break that vow. “Merry Christmas, kid,” he said, actually meaning it, before he stepped back, taking a mental picture of the happiness he had brought to someone, and all with a simple gift, before he turned, and left the scene for good this time, not wishing to spoil it.
A place of happiness and new beginnings was not a place for one filled with such sorrow, made tragic by too many endings.
* * * * * * * * *
Jack did not stay long enough to see the young girl’s friend return, but if he had, he would have witnessed a girl of perhaps twelve appear, lightly curling brown hair tied back, her large doe eyes widening as she saw the young child’s gift.
“Look at what I got!” the younger girl cried, holding up her prize for the older female to see, earning a smile in return. “A man with snowy hair gave it to me,” she added, grin all aglow with Christmas cheer.
The older girl peered at the doll, and was instantly reminded of something, of someone – her mother, who had died only a few years previous, what seemed like such a long yet short time ago; the doll resembled her quite a bit. Their family had made it a tradition to come to the center to volunteer, and this year, she had dragged her father from his gloom to continue the tradition, though he didn’t have the spark he used to as he helped organize and distribute goods to the needy, the absence of his wife deeply felt by both him and his child.
Still, seeing the smile on her young friend’s face, the older girl couldn’t help but feel what she was doing, how she was helping, was worth it. She felt strangely closer to the woman she had lost than she had in quite some time, doing something that had been important to her mother.
The elder female touched a hand to the doll’s packaging, feeling tears prick at her eyes, seeing her mother’s likeness. “It’s beautiful,” she said, and then asked the younger child: “What are you going to name her?” curiosity evident in her tone.
The younger girl appeared to think, before suddenly she blurted: “I think I’ll name her after you! Would that be okay?”
“Of course it would! Thank you,” the older girl replied, feeling delighted as well as a bit sorrowful.
She wondered if, when she was older, she would look like the doll – would look like her mother.
The younger child laughed a bubbling laugh, the older girl helping her to unwrap her doll before her father came to fetch her, and they left with a goodbye, his volunteer shift over. Once the doll was in the younger girl’s hands, and she had waved to her friend, she looked down at it, and made it a promise:
“Don’t worry, we’ll be together forever. It’s you and me, Clara.”
* * * * * * * * *
Upon seeing Jack’s face, as his icy friend returned from delivering his gift, North knew precisely what was wrong, and precisely how to fix it – in a roundabout way, as was his specialty.
“Having second thoughts concerning Christmas?” North asked, handing Jack a paper coffee container, actually filled with tea – peppermint, Jack’s favorite. He knew the question would rile Jack, but that was exactly what he was hoping for.
The Time was, in the grand scheme of things, quickly approaching.
Jack snorted in response, something North found unbecoming, as he took the tea, a scowl alighting on his lips. “No, of course not!” he said loudly, though the reply was obviously a lie. “I’m the one who’s going to destroy Christmas, remember? I’m not changing my mind!” he vowed, before taking a long, heavy swig of tea – only to choke, because it was still quite hot.
North chuckled, shook his head slightly, and was about to reply when something caught his eye--
From the same direction Jack had come, there now came a father and daughter, headed down the sidewalk in the opposite direction. By chance – or perhaps by fate, whichever was to be believed in – the father turned his head North’s way, and their eyes met briefly, before he ushered his daughter onwards, and they disappeared into a car down the road.
North took a sip of his own tea, contemplating, before he focused once again on Jack, all ruffled and angry and annoyed. “You know, Jack,” he offered, the image of father and daughter still fresh in his mind, “I believe that, one day, you will meet someone who will change your mind about destroying Christmas.”
“Never going to happen – and besides, Christmas won’t last until next year, not if I have anything to say about it!” Jack insisted, his scowl only growing, before he ordered bossily: “Now, come on, North! We’re going to be late for our flights!” purposefully striding away quickly – away both from the conversation, and from his conflict.
North shook his head once more, watching as Jack stomped off, walking behind him at a slower pace. “Oh, my dear friend,” he said, even though Jack could not hear him, “you are quite wrong about the future – I have seen it, and it is an interesting place.”
- - - - - - - - - - - -
I definitely believe that we can make such an impact without meaning to -- and there, how much more by meaning to? The gift of hope is what Christmas is all about.
Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
I had originally planned on writing a follow-up post to my last post "The Struggles Of A Young Writer ~ Learning To Cope With Changes In Writing Style And Maturity", thanks to a great comment from a friend on Goodreads, but then the internet showed off its sense of humor, and I decided that I simply had to write this post first.
This year, I started publishing the Knight Blood series, which could be labeled many things, but which I've come to think of as Paranormal/Urban Fantasy/Alternate Universe (I would say Paranormal Romance, but it's not really heavy in the traditional romance department; not that they have to be). It was an idea I've had in the back of my mind for a while, but it wasn't fully "realized" until I started writing it, and now I can say it's truly one of my favorite series to write...mainly because I love my secondary main character, my vampire named Zarrod, so much (I even wrote a book about him, too, which you can read now, as well). Anyway, sometime after Zarrod's story, Eternal Dark, was published, I made it free on Amazon, etc., to kind of introduce readers to the story...
Here is where I can offer a bit of publishing advice, from my learning experience -- not a mistake, because when it comes to business, I don't really believe in mistakes, only choices that were not as good as they could have been, which we can learn from. Eternal Dark went free for readers, and I got some reviews on it, and then I learned something I hadn't fully thought of before: Eternal Dark made a lot less sense, as a story, if the reader didn't read the original book, Midnight, first. It's still an enjoyable story, either way, but I personally believe it's better to read Midnight first, because it's more of an easy introduction into the Knight Blood world, and is technically the first book in the series. My reviews reflected this. Readers liked the story, but were a bit confused, as one would expect to be after reading the second book in a series, even if they still liked the book, and were intrigued to read more.
I definitely think there's a lesson in marketing to be learned here. Free books have worked greatly for me, because they draw readers in, and I think it's a nice way to read something by an author you may have never read before, without having to spend a lot of money -- sort of like how you would, at the bookstore, read a few chapters, or even half of a book, before you bought it. Plus, the marketplace is crowded. Not every book can be made free, of course, because, as an author, if you want to make a career out of writing, you have to get paid (and should, because writing is a lot of work, and a product just like anything else you might see in the store), but if you use it well, it can be a good marketing tool -- so long as you're smart about it, and think about the readers.
I'll admit, in putting Eternal Dark up as free, I was thinking both that it was a cool story, and that it was shorter than Midnight -- less work, in the long run, was being put up as free, instead of being paid for; I've come to think of free books as community service. Not only was this a tad bit selfish, but it was a bad business decision, in the end, and I've learned from it. It wasn't that I didn't put my best work out there, because I think Eternal Dark is a great story, and I had a lot of fun writing it, and it wasn't that I didn't want to give the readers something fun to read -- it was that I didn't use as smart a mind as I could have, concerning readers.
This is one of the difficulties with Indie publishing, I think: to draw yourself far enough out of your writing world to be able to market, and perform business tactics well. If you're published by a major company, they have a bit more control over what is released, and in what order, etc. They haven't written these books, and they aren't immersed in them, in the worlds contained within their pages. To a company, a story is simply money to be made, a product, but to the author, it is something important that they poured their soul into, as well as a product -- and it can be extremely hard to start thinking of your work as a product, rather than your brain child, or to start thinking of yourself as a businesswoman or man, instead of simply a writer.
In my case, length aside, Eternal Dark made perfect sense to me as a story, because I was already entrenched in my world -- and consequently, it made perfect sense to my BETAs, because they had already read Midnight -- but it didn't make as much sense to my readers who hadn't read Midnight, and therefore I "paid" for it with comments that, while they were good, were not as good as they may have been; still, I'm thankful for readers being honest with me, because it's helped me learn in this experience.
When it comes to publishing, once the writing is done, you have to think of your readers first, because they are your driving force; you have to take off your creative cap, and put your business cap on, to the best of your ability. Readers are the ones who will get behind you when you get flack, who will buy your books because they love your writing, who will send you those wonderful e-mails telling you just how much they love your writing. Not only is thinking of readers first smart business, but it's a good way to build a relationship with your readers, too, one of honesty and creativity.
...Anyway, back to the story of Midnight, and the Internet's humor.
Once I fully realized my "mistake", I set out to "fix" it. I pulled Eternal Dark from the free shelf on my ebook sites, and made Midnight free instead (heads up: as of writing this, they're both still free on Amazon!). I've done this before, and unfortunately, Amazon normally takes forever to match the prices from other sites (I really wish they had a free option, but they want you to be select with them), but this time, it only took a few weeks, if that. It was a large, large surprise to come home the afternoon previous to writing this, and realize that I had plenty of downloads of Midnight -- in less than a day! The Internet certainly does have a sense of humor -- or, maybe Amazon does, because I was expecting it to take longer than this for them to change the price, as before.
It's especially humorous, because in 2014, I'm going to be making some big changes to my website and books...but, more on that in weeks to come.
The moral of this story is: sometimes in life -- and certainly in publishing -- we make "mistakes", and there's nothing wrong with admitting them, or even trying to "fix" them. They teach us new things, and then we teach others the things we have learned, and so on and so forth. I've developed a new awareness of publishing through this, and it will carry me forward into 2014.
Here's to a new year, and new excitement on my part -- and on my reader's parts, too, I hope!
But, for now, please check out Midnight! The next book in the series, Weather, will be published this next year, and of course Eternal Dark is available, too. It's the readers that truly make the difference, so if you would please spread the word, and leave a review when you're done reading, it would be greatly appreciated!
Like I said above, Eternal Dark and Midnight both are free on Amazon (as of writing this), so here are links to both books:
Otherwise, you can find Midnight free on the following sites:
Thank you, and happy reading!
Hello, dear reader, and welcome!
Today, I'd like to talk about something that has been on my mind for a while: writers and age. With the self-publishing boom, there are, I believe, more "young" writers now than ever, and I definitely believe that their age, as far as writing -- not to leave out publishing -- affects them.
I'll admit, as a writer, there is always the strong urge to go back and edit your work...even work that has been published for years now, in my case, and I definitely believe that this urge may be stronger for the budding or young author, who has less experience. Sometimes, especially when you get reviews that are less than satisfactory, it's very hard to ignore this urge, and not go back and edit, or even throw in the towel and quit publishing altogether, or under a certain name. But what do you do when these times arrive, and you want to tear yourself apart for writing something so "awful" -- that isn't actually awful, but not how you would have written it now?
I have found that the best way to keep oneself going is to remember this: we learn along the way.
Life is full of changes, and we are constantly reinventing ourselves. What seems like a good idea today may not seem like such a good idea later on -- a week from now, a year, three years, ten. As we grow, we mature and gain more knowledge, wisdom, and this helps us along our path.
Writing is much the same. Through time and trial, we learn more about grammar, about how to shape our words, about what type of stories we want to tell, and how we want to tell them. We lose sight of our writing at times, maybe lose our love for it, but then we come back to it strong, ready to carry on, continue what we started, or even begin in a new direction. We may want to go back and edit, make it better or stronger or different, but if we do, we are only erasing part of the journey.
I cannot say that how I wrote years ago is how I write now -- I can't even say that how I wrote three months ago is how I write now. I've changed immensely, and so has my writing and view of the world. As a young writer especially, I believe that I have changed a lot since that first book, especially as I began the trek into adulthood, and it can be frustrating to read reviews talking about that first novel and its flaws (there are always flaws, in any book, anyway); but at the end of the day, I have to remind myself that these books are part of my journey, and I should appreciate them because of that.
You should always put your best product out there, even if years later, it might not seem like your best product anymore. I can say from experience that what will be your best today will not necessarily be your best tomorrow, but that is okay. I look at authors I love, people I look up to, and even through their books, you can see a change -- for the better, or for the worst. I think the difficult thing about being a young writer versus, say, a writer in their forties, fifties, or even sixties, is that we have so much less experience...but in a way that is heartening, because we also have so much more room to grow, too.
I read over one of my books, Clara Claus (Christmas!) the other day, and it was almost laughable how different the prose in that book is from what I write now -- and it makes sense, because I didn't know as much then as I know now. I still love the story, because I remember writing it, remember being so, so excited for it, but I can see its flaws, and I can definitely see how, had I written it now, I would have written it much differently. But, as I said, I remember writing that story, and I remember what I learned from it, and I remember how old I was -- 19, not even in my twenties yet, still a budding writer and adult in many ways. I started writing when I was very, very young, completing my first (not so wonderful) book at 12, and at 19, it looked as though I was a writing genius, that I had come so far from that first story -- and I had. But looking back now, I can see how much further I have come from writing Clara Claus, how much more I have learned, and that makes me excited for the future. That makes all of my writing struggles, this year of which there have been many, seem worth it -- because they are worth it.
If you're a young writer, don't fret. Don't worry over publishing your books, over writing them; just do the best that you can right now. We all improve, and we all learn new things, but we are never going to do either if we don't keep writing, and putting ourselves out there. An old book with flaws is nothing to be ashamed of -- it's something to look back at, appreciate, and work your hardest to surpass.
Alexandra's first published novel, Clara Claus, was written in 2009 when she was 19, and first published in 2010. Since then, it has been edited a few times, and gained a new cover, but most of the novel has stayed the same. It was an Amazon bestseller in 2011 and 2012, and its official sequel, Clara Snow, was released this year, in 2013, with more books to come.
Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
So, it's December already, nearing Christmas, and I cannot quite believe it! I am always excited for Christmas, as it's my favorite holiday, and this year is no exception. I fully plan to write, write, write this December, along with celebrating with family, but before I do, I would like to take a moment to look back at November...
Every year, I participate in NaNoWriMo, and every year I learn new things about writing from my experience. This year was one of the strangest NaNos I have ever taken part in, but I learned so many things along the way, things that are currently pushing me to write another book about writing (you can find the other, Writing With Inspiration, here). But, for now I'd like to share some of the things that I discovered when it was just me, my laptop, and my writing friends (old and new!).
~ Lesson #1: Being The Leader (ML) Is Not Easy Work, But It Is Very Important ~
This may be something that sounds obvious, but when you sit down and think about it, it is put into a new perspective for you...or, at least it was for me.
This year, I signed up to be my region's Municipal Liaison, or ML, for NaNo, scheduling the write-ins, the parties, and answering questions. We had not had an official ML for two years, so it was very exciting. Thankfully for me, I suppose, we have a smallish region, and not as many writers as, say, New York City has (one of the largest cities; I guess I could have said Boston), but still, it was a lot of work! But you know what, it was worth it, because I was able to see writing, and the act of talking about writing, from a different perspective.
I have said many times over the years that I have been inspired by other writers, and it is true. Some of this has been in person, such as when I have gone to get books signed, and some of this has been through interviews, or even through reading the words that someone took the time to pen. But I suppose, in a way, we all take inspiration for granted, and that is something I realized during NaNo. I took it upon myself to write pep talks for our struggling writers (this year of which there were many, me included), and I tried to offer advice and encouragement whenever I could. I'm not saying it was perfect, but I like to think that if even a small bit of that encouragement helped, then it was worth the time.
But, just as with the writers who have inspired me, if I hadn't taken that time, then the budding authors might not have been encouraged -- I might not have been encouraged. Looking back over how I've been encouraged by others, I feel that I've taken their words for granted, or expected them to be there to encourage me -- because that's what they're supposed to do, right? -- but being on the other end, I now feel more appreciative than ever because of the time they took out to say a few words, whether they thought those words might help someone or not. That could have been life or death for me -- as far as writing -- if they had said they were too busy.
I nearly wasn't able to finish my goal this NaNo, because I had so many other things to do (ML and work-related), but I don't regret taking the time out to help and to encourage, even so. The reward from that is too great to put into a measure of words, because if it means another author's life or death as far as writing, well, I choose life.
~ Lesson #2: Writing Isn't Fun ~
This may sound cruel, but hear me out.
I used to think writing was fun, relatively easy, something that I could do fairly well (and get a lot of words out) when I sat down, though of course I had my difficulties, as everyone else. But then, something happened this year, and writing became hard -- more serious, more emotional, more like, well, work. During NaNo, I wrote the most difficult 50,000 words I have ever penned, and half the time I felt as if the act of writing those words was akin to ripping my heart out and slicing it into shreds.
But there's something beautiful in that, I've come to realize, and now I feel like more of a writer than ever, because I've discovered that writing is not fun, and I've accepted that -- and, consequently, I've written what may just be my best piece yet, heart shards and all. Does that mean that I was never a "real writer" before this revelation? No, but I do feel quite different now, empowered almost, because writing isn't expected to be fun anymore -- so when it isn't fun, which is most of the time, I don't feel as though I'm doing it wrong. It is quite freeing.
Can writing be fun? Of course. I'm having fun with the story I'm currently working on, so far, but "can be" and "is" are two entirely different things. Writing is not fun all of the time, and neither should it be--
Writing is heartbreaking. It is emotional. It is physically unhealthy most of the time. It is painful. It causes stress, lack of sleep, headaches, carpal tunnel, depression, and all other sorts of lovely things...
But, it's also fun.
See what I'm getting at here?
Writing is a lot like life -- sometimes up, sometimes down -- and the thing about it is, if you can carry on, then you can get somewhere. Not every day is going to be great, not every day is going to be filled with inspiration, not every day will you produce good words, but, hey -- if you keep writing, eventually you will get somewhere, and write something fantastic, and it will be worth all of those tears, and sweat, and blood, and smiles, and that is why we keep doing it.
~ Lesson #3: There Is No "Time" To Write ~
As I said above, like it or not, writing is work. It can be a hobby, and that is great, but even as a hobby it is work -- and it is work even more so for those of us who like to publish.
That having been said, you are not always going to feel like working. I currently have a second job that I really enjoy, but when I get up in the morning, early, to go in, I definitely don't feel like working -- I'm tired, I'm not a morning person, and I don't want to deal with people -- but, after a little while, I get into my routine, and everything is good; some days are still better than others, but that is normal.
Writing is a lot like this. There is no magic spell you can cast, no serum you can take, no word you can find to make you want to write all of the time. It just isn't going to happen. More than likely, you won't want to write more than you will; the keyboard and/or notebook can appear extremely terrifying at times.
I have noticed this NaNo that I far too often rely on "inspiration" to get me writing, to get me "in the mood for writing", and I've learned this NaNo that I cannot rely upon such things; if I do, in fact, I will never get where I want to go, and neither will the characters who get left behind. Inspiration rarely pops up out of the blue, and even when it does, there is a lot of hard work that must be put behind it. But while you're off waiting for this elusive inspiration to appear, you could be writing -- not in the state of "inspired" perhaps, but writing, and that means getting something done, and that means forward progression.
I actually felt like writing, actually felt "inspired", perhaps 1/27th of NaNo this year, if that. Most days, it felt like drudge work, which I truly hate to say, but as with my second job, once I begun typing, and settled in, some of that gloom lifted, and I was able to write -- maybe not perfect words, but what ever is perfect? The fact was, I wasn't able to wait around for inspiration to find me--
I had to make my own inspiration, and that's called perseverance. Writing is all about perseverance, about not giving up, about devoting yourself to sitting there, every day, and typing something, no matter what you feel like.
The act of writing, for an author, is a labour of love -- a conscious decision that, even when you don't feel like it, even when you're not "inspired", you're going to do it anyway, because it's something you care about.
I hope these reflections were helpful to you! Keep writing!
Alexandra finished her NaNo novel, Cataclysmic, a two-part Science-Fiction piece, on November 30th, at 11:18PM, less than an hour before NaNoWriMo finished.
Celebrate The Upcoming Release Of The Next Book In The Foxfire Chronicles With An Emotional Story + Cyber Monday Deals Announced!
Hello, dear readers!
I hope your weekend was fantastic, and that you had a wonderful holiday! I certainly did, and am very thankful for friends, family, and the wonderful people who support my writing.
As promised, I have posted the special Cyber Monday book deals for you. Please check out the list, and grab some fantastic reads in Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Poetry, and more - including my internationally bestselling novella Lyrics of the Heart (only $0.99!), the latest book in the Snowflake Triplet, Clara Snow, and last but not least the first book in my Foxfire Chronicles, Shadows of Past Memories, which will be at the lowest price of the season!
All Cyber Monday deals can be viewed here: http://www.alexandralanc.com
But now, I would like to talk about something very close to my heart, that has been a long time coming.
Shadows of Past Memories was one of the first books I published (after Clara Claus, my first 'official'), and the Foxfire Chronicles is the series I've been working on the longest, and one of my biggest creations. I finally published it in 2011 (with a Special Edition in 2012), after beginning writing it in 2007, the year my brother had his nearly fatal accident. The story is very dear to me, because not only do the characters feel like old friends, who I have watched grow, but also because that story helped to shape me into the writer I am today, and was an outlet for me in some of my darkest times; it helped to pull me out of that darkness.
The changes in my life since then have been many, but there was a time, sometime last year, that I decided I would not be able to write any more to this series (after penning book 1.5, companion to SOPM). Still recovering from the hardship of years ago, the story transformed instead into a painful reminder of those dark, dark years, and I had to say goodbye to it for a while, with only intentions to release what I had written (1.5) for fans who were eagerly awaiting it. I had to set aside all of my hard work, all of my time, and all of my passion for the story that had become too much to bear, and it was like setting a part of myself aside, or leaving a part of myself behind.
I tried so hard to edit and finish book 1.5, Shadows at Midnight, for the fans. I tried, and I tried, and I kept pushing the release date back, until I simply put it off indefinitely, purely because nothing felt right whenever I begun working on it. It felt as if that story would never see the light of day - and not only did I feel awful for disappointing my readers, but I felt as though I had disappointed myself, too.
But then, this year something amazing happened - the gloom lifted, the darkness vanished, and the story gained new life in the form of a short I released around Halloween, entitled Bat Wings and Broomsticks, a short that brought me back to writing after a long, hard absence. This year in my life was a dark one, as well, perhaps darker in some ways than years ago, when it felt like the world had ended with one wrong turn from a driver, but somewhere in that darkness I was given light, and the story became mine once more. I was blessed with the ability to finally, finally reconnect with it, and it couldn't have come at a better time.
I cannot describe the feeling of reconnecting with one of your dearest loves, because I certainly love this story and these characters, but I can say that it is a fantastic, amazing thing. I am so happy to finally be back into this story, and, consequently, to begin working on editing Shadows at Midnight for release next year. The dark veil has lifted, and it is only forward trekking from here on out. These characters still have a lot to do, a lot to learn and many ways to grow, and I cannot wait to begin the journey with them once again.
So, in celebration of next year's release, and simply because I love a good story, Shadows of Past Memories is $2.99 for Cyber Monday, on both Amazon and Smashwords (with coupon). If you haven't read it yet, please take a look, because it's both a fun story and a special one, and if you have read it, thank you so much for cheering me on, even when it seemed as if no story was left; your support has helped to get me through this rough time.
Thank you, everyone, for supporting my writing endeavors, and for offering helping hands, happy comments, and laughs. You always make my day!