Sunday, October 27, 2013
It's the time of year again. The week before National Novel Writing Month begins. Are you ready for this amazing writing journey? I believe I am.
National Novel Writing Month happens every November. The goal is to write 50,000 words or more. The end result would be the 1st draft of a complete novel. I stress the 1st draft part because a lot of new authors assume that once they have completed their novel it is ready to submit to publisher.
That is not true.
You looked stunned and confused. Stay with me now.
The first draft you hold in your hand is not large enough to be considered a complete novel. It will grow as you go through the editing process. That's ok. An average novel is anywhere between 80,000 to 100,000 words. Anything above 100,000 words is considered an epic. Most publishers will not consider an epic from any new authors. They want to ensure the authors have enough followers to produce sales.
The first thing you want to do is read through your manuscript very carefully. You're looking for plot holes, grammatical errors and structural issues. National Novel Writing Month does not allow you the opportunity to edit as you go through the writing process. And that is ok. The main goal of NaNoWriMo is to get the story out. You can edit later.
Another piece of advice while you are editing your work. Don't worry if your story changes along the way. As long as the story stays true to the outline or paradigm you created before you wrote a single word then it will be alright. If you have more than one character with the same motive, mannerisms or purpose in your book consider combining the two characters into one character. You want to make sure it is very evident who your protagonist and antagonists are. There should be only one of each in your story.
After you have edited your piece you will need to send it out to a few beta readers. Beta readers are
people who love to read books in your genre. They will tell you what works and what doesn't. They are not editors and please do not treat them as such. These are readers who will tell you if they think your book will sell in your genre and why not. You do not want to pick just anyone to beta read your book. You want to make sure the people you chose to beta your book are people who are very familiar with the genre and are willing to be brutally honest with you.
Once you receive the notes from your beta reader you will want to go over their notes and implement any changes they have suggested that will better your story.
Well a month or two have gone by since NaNoWriMo occurred and you are done with the beta readers. You now have your completed second draft but your still not ready for publishing. What's next? An editor. You need fresh eyes on your masterpiece. Find a friend who is great at editing or hire a professional editor to go through your manuscript. WARNING - professional editors will charge between $1-$5 per page to edit your manuscript.
After you receive your edits back from the editor you will want make the changes they have suggested for your manuscript. Afterwards, go back through your manuscript and tighten it up. By the time you have finished this process your novel should now be between 80,000 - 100,000 words and you are ready to submit your novel to the publisher.
Good luck on NaNoWriMo this year.
I'm ready. Are you?
Monday, October 14, 2013
Columbus Day: Myth, fraud, disaster for the natives.
Today is Columbus Day and as a nation we are expected to celebrate the voyage of Christopher Columbus. All throughout the United States cities, buildings, streets and schools are named after the Italian explorer. We all learned the poem in school about his journey and his voyages are recorded in our history books. Remember this from your youth?
In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
He had three ships and left from Spain;
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.
He sailed by night; he sailed by day;
He used the stars to find his way.
A compass also helped him know
How to find the way to go.
Ninety sailors were on board;
Some men worked while others snored.
Then the workers went to sleep;
And others watched the ocean deep.
Day after day they looked for land;
They dreamed of trees and rocks and sand.
October 12 their dream came true,
You never saw a happier crew!
"Indians! Indians!" Columbus cried;
His heart was filled with joyful pride.
But "India" the land was not;
It was the Bahamas, and it was hot.
The Arakawa natives were very nice;
They gave the sailors food and spice.
Columbus sailed on to find some gold
To bring back home, as he'd been told.
He made the trip again and again,
Trading gold to bring to Spain.
The first American? No, not quite.
But Columbus was brave, and he was bright.
Despite what you may have learned, Christopher Columbus never discovered America.
During the time of Christopher Columbus many people believed the Earth was flat and if you sailed to far across the ocean you could fall off of the Earth. Christopher Columbus has studied the following map of the world that had been created by Italian mathematician, Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli, in 1476.
Columbus estimated a trip from the Canary Islands to Japan to be about 3,000 Italian miles (3,700 km, or 2,300 statute miles) based on the map above. The problem with his calculations were 1) He overestimated the size of Eurasia, 2)his low estimate of the size of the Earth, and 3)his belief that Japan and other inhabited islands lay far to the east of the coast of China.
Christopher Columbus had a hard time finding supporters for his voyage because the Catholics still believed the earth was flat. Eventually, he was able to convince Spanish monarchs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. He set sail in the evening of August 3, 1492. He spotted land at 2am on October 2. He set foot on present day Bahamas and named it San Salvador. The natives called the land Guanahani. It was here that Columbus first encountered Native Americans. Thinking he had landed in India, the explorer referred to the them as Indians. The term has been used to describe all indigenous people from North to South America. It has been a term filled with as much controversy as this national holiday.
Columbus and his men sailed four times between the years of 1492 and 1503. After his first voyage,
The Native Americans have been insulted by this criminal. In response, they also celebrate this day. Today is National Indigenous Day. It's a day to remember their culture and their people. As some honor Christopher Columbus, they honor the dead that have been victims of the horrible acts the white cultures have caused upon their people. It is also a day to celebrate the true people who discovered the Americas - The Native Americans.
Why should we give all honor and glory to a white person who supposedly discovered the land we now call home when the true discoverers had been living on its lands long before humans developed writing?
So what day do I chose to celebrate?
Happy Indigenous People's Day!
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Life can be hard for authors once their book comes out. Sometimes when an author receives a bad review they want to address the comments that have been made about their book. What should an author do when they receive a bad review or someone talks about them?
Friday, October 11, 2013
Mental Health Discrimination
“He’s had a seizure.”
“He’s already fragile. Will the seizure make his condition worse?”
“Only time can tell.” Gideon lowered his hand, turned his gaze to Franklin and stared. Doctor Riley stepped towards the brown-haired, green-eyed, English-descent man. “Gideon.” Gideon turned his attention to the doctor. “Perhaps it would be best to…”
“…you can stop there, Jeb. Juliette and I told you years ago why we left Upper Sandusky. I will not have the same discussion with you about Franklin I had with both our families. He’s an intelligent boy.”
“I’m not suggesting he isn’t.”
“Franklin will do well to stay where he is. I’ve given him a place at the machine shop designing more inventions. He loves his new office and is doing well overseeing the workers on the floor.”
“Gideon, when are you going to accept Franklin will never be able to run your store? He doesn’t have the social skills to do so. He needs help.”
“He has help,” Juliette answered. The men looked to her. “Franklin has all the help he needs to be successful in life. He doesn’t belong behind an institution’s wall. He’s a mechanical genius, Jeb. He loves tinkering with machines and playing mathematical games. God created our son for a purpose. If we place him within the institution he cannot live a successful and productive life. You’ve been a good friend. I pray the trust we have placed in you will not be forfeited.”
Welcome back to my series, Mental Health in Progressive America. That last time you were here we talked about the Eugenic practices that were popular throughout the United States and how they aided in the development of German Nazi's Eugenic Laws. This week I want to talk about discrimination.
Although this is a blog series about Progressive America, mental health discrimination is not something new. The mentally ill have been in society since the beginning of time. Islamic mentally ill had been wonderfully cared for by their people far longer then European society. Europeans did not start to take care of the mentally ill until the Middle Ages when some of the mentally ill population were placed privately in small houses. These houses, and later on asylums, were places where once a person was admitted they rarely saw the light of day and were the victims of many injustices. Living conditions were deplorable and many atrocities occurred with their walls. They were a place where society could get rid of the less desirable and forget about them.
The worst thing in society to be was mentally ill because people didn't understand about mental illness and being committed to an asylum was worse than death. In the passage that began this blog posting, Franklin's parents fear the doctor will send their son the an asylum. Even though the story takes place at the turn of the century the asylum was the last place anyone would ever want to send their loved ones. The living conditions were deplorable and there were many instances where those committed to the asylum were abused by their guards. Not everyone who was committed to the asylum needed to be there as well.
People fear Franklin because they don't understand him. Fear has driven a lot myths about those who suffer from mental disorders and it is these myths that have harmed those have mental disorders. One of the long held myths about those who have Asperger's Syndrome is "that anyone who has this disorder is highly prone to violence. They are a threat to our society because they do not have feelings nor empathy."
This myth is false. People with Asperger's Syndrome have feelings they just don't always show them. They may appear mean because they don't know empathy but they can learn. One thing about people with Asperger's Syndrome that might surprise you to know is that these people are some of the most caring, loving and sensitive souls you will ever meet. Society is scared of people with Asperger's Syndrome and this is what drives people, such as the doctor mentioned in the passage above, to discriminate against them.
This week I learned a valuable lesson that I want to share with all my writing friends. I have been an author for five years and have learned a lot about the proper ways to utilize social media sites and about proper branding. My readers know that when they read a book I wrote they can expect a strong female lead in a story that has strong family elements to it. I have marketed myself well in promoting stories from a different perspective than what is normally told in literature. I understand target market well enough that I tend to market my books to the right group of people and still make enough sales for my book to make the Amazon Bestsellers List soon after it has been published. Yet, I will be the first to admit to you that I am still learning about all about marketing. Let's face it, I'm a creative genius who just wants to tell a story and needs help in marketing. Thank heavens, I met Tamara Sands.
When I'm not writing or promoting my own books I operate my publishing house, Mountain Springs House. I had recently hired Tamara as our house graphic artist. We soon became good friends. Tamara and her husband own Pixel Pod, a graphic design business based out of Georgia. Her mother in law, Lynn Hubbard, is our print formattor and had suggested Tamara to me. Tamara and I have become good friends since then.
Recently, Tamara was reviewing all of my social media sites when she had suggested the I coordinate all of my social sites, including my website, so they look the same. I had never thought of that before. She had created a logo for Lynn Hubbard and had seen a rise on Lynn's website eversince Lynn has started to use it. I said I would try it. She created this logo for me.
I have started to use this logo all over the internet from my website, twitter, facebook, etc. Wherever my name is being represented you will see my logo. My logo will also be in my printed books as well starting with Elsa. Why am I placing the logo everywhere? Well this way when a reader comes across my logo they can instantly associate the name with a brand. My brand.
Along with having a logo I have used the same background you see on this blog with my website and twitter page. That way a reader gets the same feeling all across the social networks and my website. I had chose the background you see because my background is in theatre arts. I grew up on stage and that stage presence has stayed with me throughout my life. I love to tell great stories and entertain people.
So when my readers see one of my sites what am I telling them? Allison is family oriented and will entertain you with great stories. That's my brand. That's what I want them to hear. What about the strong female lead part? Well my readers will get that when they see my book covers and read my book. Once your reader is hooked and understands your brand they will come back for more.
Keep writing and never give up on your dreams.
Sunday, October 6, 2013
Welcome back to my blog. This month on the Insecure Writer's Support Group I want to talk about exposure. Writing can be a very personal experience for any author and yet the most terrifying as well. It challenges the writer to expose parts of themselves that they normally wouldn't allow anyone to know about. The scariest part of that is the fact that once you expose these characteristic to the world you may be judged just for writing what you did.
After I wrote Calico many of my Christian friends said I wasn't a true Christian because my main character denounced Jesus Christ. They didn't understand that Calico had done so because she followed the Shawnee ways. I was also criticized for the violence in the book.
When I started writing Calico I had no idea as to the healing effects it would have on my
inner self. Calico has to deal with
abandonment issues, abuse and rape. I could understand Calico because those
were the same issues that I had to deal with. The realism of her journey was
strengthened because I allowed myself to pour my emotions into her personal
struggles. I knew her thoughts because they had been the same ones that I had
once had. When I finished writing Calico I found there was a new strength
inside me. I was renewed and encouraged.
Calico has been out for a few years and has gone through three different publishing house, each time the story has grown stronger. It currently sits at #665,048 Paid in Kindle Store (Oct 6, 2013 at 9:31am). It has been a bestselling book each time it has been released. Calico is a hard read for anyone who has been raped or abused. It's also written from the Shawnee perspective and not the white man's so anyone who picks it up and expects your traditional Native American tale has a hard time with it. And that is ok. It just means it wasn't written for them. Calico has 17 five star reviews, 9 four stars, 3 three stars and 4 one stars on Amazon. Those are great stats on any book.
My latest book, Elsa, was another creative journey that lead to inner healing for me. My husband and I have always known I was a little bit off in this world. I have struggled for most of my life with social interactions. My mother use to call me her absent minded professor because I was so intelligent but struggled with most simple of things. For years I went on with my life feeling like a woman who was looking into the world from the outside instead of participating in my life. I knew something was up but I just couldn’t place my finger on the cause. A few years ago I learned from my uncle that Aspergers Syndrome is prevalent in my family. It explained a lot of why I feel the way I do and why I do what I do.
Elsa’s tale is based on true events and people in my family’s history yet the story did not truly come alive until I decided Franklin should have Aspergers Syndrome. I poured my own experiences into Franklin’s life. I can understand his thinking process because it is my own. Just as it was hard for me to write some of the scenes in Calico because I had to push through those emotions it was hard to write some of Franklin’s scenes for the same reason. But I pressed on. I’m glad I did because what came of this book was unlike anything I had ever written before. This book is more personal to me because it is my story.
So don’t be afraid to expose your emotions on the page when it comes to your characters and your story. If you are brave enough to do so it will enrich your book and the characters. Readers love a realistic story. They want to be immersed in the world not just told about it. Let your readers see your pains and your struggles. Allow your characters to push through those struggles. In the end you might just find you were changed along with them.