How Far Are You Willing To Go?

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Many of us have been writing stories for a reallllly long time. Like since we were 10. Or 7. Or 5.

Some of these stories hold a special place in our hearts. Maybe these stories have developed over time, or changed, or helped spark new ideas for a champion story.

The point is, we’ve all got stories that mean a lot to us. And maybe we’ve been working on these stories for a long time, biding our time as we hunt for publishers or try our hands with self publishing.

The journey of working with a story you created when you were younger is quite beautiful, in my opinion. Also, I think that you, as the author, have a deeper connection with your characters and with your setting, which you can then convey to the reader better. Sometimes these stories can be even more meaningful, since we have discovered and taught ourselves a number of lessons through them.

Often times this means that when it’s time to edit, we aren’t willing to change what we’ve written. We can grow so attached to our stories, stories that we have grown with for such a long time, that we refute the idea of editing and everything that comes with it: erasing and rewriting, etc.

Don’t get me wrong, this can be really hard, and even a little frustrating or heart-breaking. It’s like parting with an old friend. I get it, and I’ve been through it. I “wrote a book” when I was seven, and I worked on that story up until I was sixteen. Yep, that’s right. I tried to get it published and everything.

The emphasis is on “tried”.

The truth is, I had grown too attached to parts of my story, especially in the beginning, that I really should’ve let go of. The beginning of the boon was slow, drawn out, etc. But, because of my affection, I wasn’t willing to make the changes necessary to my book.

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Fight this mentality with tooth and nail. Seriously. No matter how tough the fight gets.

Because we need to ask ourselves an important question: how far are you willing to go to make your book into what it needs to be? To make your book into what it should be?

This is one of the hardest parts of writing: being honest with ourselves. And accepting criticism from others. And being willing to criticize ourselves.

It’s tough. Nobody likes being criticized or having to correct themselves. But it has to be done.

I’m actually struggling a little as I edit Elithius, the series that will be coming out soon. I just happened to be perusing the beginning of the book, a part I had already edited numerous times, and I realized, “Gosh, this needs to change!”

After so much editing, do I really want to change the beginning?

No. But I will.

Because I want to give whatever it takes to make my book perfect. And there is something beautiful about that. In fact, although I don’t like thinking about the changes I have to make, I think that I will enjoy this in the long run. Who doesn’t like making something better than before?

In what ways does your own story need to change? What parts are you holding onto that need to go?

How far are you willing to go to make your book perfect?

That question is equivalent to: how much do you love your story?

What do you think?

Also, just a note: my computer is down, so I have to use my phone for everything. Thus, if I don’t seem very productive…well, that’s why. Thanks for understanding!

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The Reason Why People “Like” But They Don’t Comment

I’ve been seeing a lot of blogs recently where the authors have a MAD following.  I sigh and drool and faint whenever I see how many followers these people have.  They average at LEAST 40 likes a post.

But they also average MAYBE 2-3 comments a post.

Why?

These people have 5,000+ followers.  Some have 20,000+ followers.  Why is no one commenting?

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Let’s be honest.  Everybody likes to get Liked.  But I think we can agree that when people take the time to comment, this feedback means way more to us.  Because it’s easy for people to click the Like button, but it takes effort to comment.  And that means they are taking us seriously and actually paying attention.  We like comments more than Likes.

The question is then: What makes people comment?

Personality.

Sig and Armstrong

You might have a huge following, but if you don’t have a sense of personality, people will stop treating you like a blogger.  They’ll see your blog posts, they’ll Like them, hopefully they’ll read them…but if you are only putting your writing forward, or whatever you’re trying to promote, people won’t care about you.  They won’t know YOU.

People might like your blog, but they aren’t going to comment unless they like you.

Think about it.

If your blog, your writing, lacks a sense of YOU, what will people be seeing?   Just words.  They might be some good words.  But if they aren’t able to attribute them to you, then why would they comment?  Who are they commenting to?  Not a person.   Just words.  And no one praises or converses with random words, however good they are.

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Of course, maybe you ARE putting yourself into what you write…but maybe it’s too much of yourself.  I see this sooooo often.  Those bloggers who get big and popular and then all they do is blog about themselves and their own personal endeavors.  The titles of their posts are eternally:

“Hey, check out my new book”

“PLEASE buy my new book”

“Hey, guess what?  My new book is out”

“Update on my story”

You get the picture.

I’ve said this multiple times and I’ll say it again.  If you want followers and an active audience, blog about things people CARE about.  Blog about things that HELP people.  Make them WANT or NEED you.

If all you blog about is yourself, this can also constitute a lack of personality towards your audience.  Or, maybe not a lack of personality, but a bad personality.

Don’t be like those bloggers who are dry and have no personality, and don’t be like those bloggers who never have anything to offer to their followers.  Let your audience know who you are, and show your followers that you care about THEM too.  Make people come to your blog not just because of your content, but because of your character–because they genuinely know and like you as a person (and not just what you’re promoting)!


 I hope this helped!

What do you think?

if i don’t write

If I don’t write, I feel like I’ll go insane.

If I don’t write, I’ll have a panic attack.

“There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”-Ernest Hemingway

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And sometimes I feel the same way.

Is it sad that I feel like I need to write?  Is it sad that I run away to my fantasy worlds?  Is this just meaningless escapism?  Is this good for me, or is it an addiction that I always crawl back to?

I don’t know.

But gosh…I need it.

Write because you need to live.  And live because you need to write.  How else will you be successful?  How else will you fulfill that part of yourself that is dying to come out?

If I don’t write…then I won’t be me.

If I don’t write…

…I won’t be alive.


What do you think?

Stories That Never Die

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Have you ever closed a book and instantly felt like a part of you just died?  Or watched the end-credits of a movie file onto the screen, and find yourself sighing with longing?

Have you ever read or witnessed a story that touched you so deeply, that you connected with so perfectly, you wish it would never end?

Our culture is messed up in many ways.  We don’t have to look very far to see this.  But, deep inside all of us, we have this desire for eternal things.  Think about it.  There are plenty of songs on the radio that have lyrics like “I wish this moment could last forever”.   The song itself might have a pretty cruddy meaning, but this phrase is pretty common in modern music.  We all know that when we have something, good we want it to last forever.

We typically apply this thinking to love and relationships.  To romance and marriage.  Those moments when life seems so perfect, we wish time would freeze.

Yeah, hopefully you know what I’m talking about.

And then, of course, we can look at how, since the beginning of time, we’ve longed for immortality.  We’ve longed for “eternal life”.  We just crave eternal, good things.

It’s no surprise that we should apply this to stories.

Don’t you like it when you find a nice long story to enjoy?  Maybe it’s a serious page turner and you read the whole thing in two days.  Maybe it’s a riveting show and you binge watch it for three days straight.  But still, don’t you like it when stories are nice and long, long enough that you get to go back and revisit all the different parts?

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I personally love being able to do this.  For me, I particularly enjoyed the Inheritance Cycle for this very reason.  The Inheritance Cycle, written by Christopher Paolini, isn’t perhaps the most well-written series.  But each book in the cycle was nice and long.

There would be scenes that made you smile, frown, grimace with determination, etc.  I loved finding those moments in the story that made me go, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that!”  I loved the fact that the series was long enough for me to FORGET certain scenes…so that I could go back and relive them again, as if it were the first time.

THAT is the kind of series I love.  As I’m reading Harry Potter for the first time (go easy on me), I realize that this is another one of those series.  Big books, lots of stories within the stories.  Plenty of things I can go back and revisit.

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This, in a way, is how you make stories that last forever.

Even though the stories aren’t lasting forever, our human minds will forget, and thus we’ll have to go back in order to remember.  And we’ll do this again.  And again.  And again.

It’s a beautiful cycle.

My favorite book thus far is The Once and Future King by T.H. White.   Although it’s just a standalone, it’s big enough to have plenty of scenes that I’ll forget.  In fact, there will be times when I’m able to pick that book up and read a scene I totally forgot about.  And, just as when I read it the first time, I’ll enjoy the experience!

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In all honesty, this is what I’m trying to do with my own series, Elithius.  I’ve planned for it to be a long series.  In fact, I like doing this because it helps me create an intricate plot and realistic characters that my audience can grow with.  My characters are teenagers when the story begins.  They’ll be adults by the time it finishes.  Along the way, they’ll have plenty of ups and downs.  I think this will be very…realistic.  Life is never easy and straightforward.  Our struggles in life are usually never short; so neither should a plot be; neither should a story be.

Life is a journey, and I believe that stories are too.

Some stories will be forgotten, but not mine.  I won’t let that happen.

I challenge you to do the same.

We all search for eternity in some shape or form.  Make a story that is eternal.  Make a story that never dies.


What do you think?

I. Am. A. Writer.

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Have you ever been able to tell that to someone? “Yeah, I’m a writer.”

It feels awesome. Naturally, we don’t like to share things about ourselves with people we don’t know. That being said, telling people about our love of writing seems like something we all look forward to. I know I do. I’m proud of what I love, and, if you’re like me, you’re dying for someone to listen to you talk about your writing experiences.

So maybe we like telling people “I’m a writer”.

But do we even realize what we’re saying?

If you really are a writer, analyze what I’m about to say with a writer’s eye. By saying “I am a writer”, what verb are you using?

“Am”. It’s a verb of being.

Do you realize what you are saying?

Some would say that you are defining something deep about yourself…something so deep, it’s akin to your very nature. What is the definition of nature, as ascertained by philosophers that are way smarter than me?

“Nature-Essence at its center of activity: a thing’s fundamental function”

To say that you ARE a writer implies that it is your nature. It is your fundamental function.

I dare you. I DARE you. Ask yourself a simple question:

“Am I really a writer?”

(“Or do I just write from time to time?”)

Does writing define who you are? Do you need writing? Is writing your fundamental function?

I’ve read a lot of stories about the experiences of successful authors. What those stories had in common was how much those authors had to dive into a lifestyle of writing, whether it was easy or not. They made writing their fundamental function. It was write or die.

My dear followers, are you willing to do the same?

Are you a writer?

If the answer is “no”, then what are you willing to give?

If you want to be successful, if you want to be true to yourself, don’t just write.

Be a writer…

…so that you can say this and know it in your heart: “I. Am. A. Writer.”

Now go for it, and apply this to any part of your life that involves (or should involve) passion.


This post is dedicated to Cristian Mihai, the awesome author of The Writer.  If you haven’t already, check out his blog and pick up one of his books.  You won’t regret it.


What do you think?

Promoting Yourself–How To Get People’s Attention

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There are plenty of people in the blogosphere trying to get attention.  Every now and then, I might run into a person who says “I don’t care how much attention I get; I’ll still blog and write.”  And that’s a great mentality to have.  You shouldn’t let everyone else’s opinions stop you.

But still, at times, it feels like everyone is trying to promote SOMETHING.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Some bloggers are trying to “promote” their emotions, the outcome of their relationship, how their weekend went, etc.  Similarly, other people are “promoting” advice, or a message like religion or political philosophy.

Others are simply sharing their love of something by promoting that something.  For instance, some people review books, TV shows, movies, etc., just for fun.

But all of this involves promoting yourself too.  You won’t be able to promote anything unless you promote yourself.

And promoting yourself can be a big deal when you’re like the majority of bloggers out there…when you’re trying to promote what you write.

Take It From Me

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Sometimes…this is me

Take it from me: there’s a lot of competition.  I’m sure most of you have realized this.  Everyone wants people to be interested in what they’re selling.  If you’re an author and a blogger, then you’re a marketer.  It’s that simple.

Unfortunately, I can’t lay down a “road map to success” for any of you.  In order to do that, I would need to find that road map first!  But I can pass on some advice I got.

Allow me to tell you a story:

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I’m a senior in high school.  I’m sure most of you remember this time in your life where you had to start making adult decisions, particularly concerning your future.  For me, this involved what I was going to do in college.  I already have a free ride to an amazing college (thanks to my awesome, hard-working dad), so the question was, “What will I study in college?”

I’m not going to go into too much detail, but, basically, my parents were strongly pushing me to make a decision based on my financial future.  As I’m sure most of you know, I would like to pursue a degree that has to do with writing and literature.  But my parents were advising me to do something that could get me a nice job; a job that I could use to support a family.

I also happen to be pretty smart when it comes to things like math, physics, etc.

So I thought, “Well, I could be a math major.  Or a physics major.”

In the end, I ended up texting my older brother who had graduated from the same college with multiple degrees.  He’s a physicist, a mathematician, and an engineer (I know, smart guy!).

I asked for his advice, if he could see me as a mathematician or a physicist, and he replied with a simple question: “Why not an engineer?”

I didn’t really get the point: “Why?” Why would it matter?  All three majors were basically the same, right?

Math majors and physicists have all the skills to do what an engineer does, as far as I could tell.  In a lot of cases, they took similar classes, but for different reasons.  All that was really different was the degree you got.

That was what I thought.

But then my brother told me something that I believe applies to waaaay more than just college and choosing a degree.

He told me that no industry/employer/company needs mathematicians or physicists anymore.  They need engineers.  Why?

Because engineers have something to OFFER.

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You see, engineers are able to USE their knowledge of math and physics to create PRODUCTS.  They don’t just have the knowledge, they can USE it.  And this is what people want.  My brother wasn’t saying that mathematicians and physicists are good for nothing.

But people want someone that can be useful to them.  That’s the way the world works.

How does this apply to writing and promoting yourself?

You have to become something that people want.  Or better yet, something that people NEED.  Be useful to other people.

This is the best way to promote yourself; by offering something that people want.  Sometimes this means not talking about yourself.  Maybe this means sharing advice, writing a review for someone, or something else entirely.

Whether we like it or not though, this is the way the world works.  People will want you if they need you.  So develop the skillset and gather to yourself what people need.  The best way to promote yourself is by promoting what people actually want.

That’s just the way it goes.

Thanks for reading and I hope this helps!


What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

Elithius 1.4

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I think we can all agree that our love for a particular story has to do with waaaay more than just the plot.  Don’t get me wrong, everyone loves a fast-paced, intricate, well-planned plot.  After all, if there ISN’T a good plot, then the story will stink…

…no matter how awesome the characters themselves are.

But this doesn’t change the fact that being able to connect with characters is something awesome and extremely special.  Great characters make stories meaningful to us in a personal way; great characters make stories memorable; they can even change the way we view life or ourselves.

Having unique but relatable characters in your story is something every writer should strive for.

I am therefore proud to share that my series, back when it used to be called The Golden Lands, has been praised for having characters that are both human but morally-inspiring.  Nowadays, it can be hard to find characters that can be both.

If a character is too “human”, perhaps they lack the ability to inspire us to be better.  If a character is too upright or saintly, everyone rolls their eyes and thinks, “This is unrealistic.”

How do my characters fit into both categories?

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Elizabeth M’s awesome depiction of John, the main character of TGL/Elithius!

John Hedekira is the main character of my series.  Throughout the series, John struggles with feelings of vengeance towards his enemies, anger towards his friends, confusion within himself and towards his family, and emotional insecurity about his (lack of) parents.  Sometimes he’ll make a poor decision when it comes to intense moral dilemmas, acting off of his gut instead of what’s right.

But John is also very brave.  And he stands up for others when they can’t.  He wants to help to people, still possessing a sense of child-like (but not childish) sense of innocence and heroism that we all should have.  He makes up for his wrongs and he exercises forgiveness and justice.

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I remember having a conversation with my dad and older brother about the characters of Avatar: The Last Airbender.  We decided that there was something extremely unique and humbling about the sense of heroism that Aang and Zuko and the other characters had.  Why?  Because they were just kids/teenagers.

I think that some people tend to brush off the pure, inspirational effect that kids can have on us.  Avatar: The Last Airbender is an example of how younger characters are able to teach us some big lessons…and just because the lessons come from younger characters doesn’t make the lessons any less true.

I’m not saying that Elithius is like Avatar.  Elithius is more mature and way darker on a number of levels.  I’m simply drawing a comparison because both stories have young-adult characters.

Here’s what some people have said about the characters in my series:

“This is a well-paced story with compelling main characters and plenty of action”-Smashwords Review

“…John Hedekira and Faith Pinck are both realistic characters with depth, and the story is fast-paced and exciting…”-Smashwords Review

“…The characters are very realistic and the action scenes are amazing…”-Smashwords Review

“…John and Faith’s characters continue to become more developed, and the action scenes are brilliant…”-Smashwords Review

“…The book is well written. The characters, landscape, and especially fight scenes are artfully described by the author…”-Amazon Review


What do you think?  What’s your opinion on character structuring?