Sunday, 26 January 2014

When Stars Die Giveaway! (CLOSED)

Amber Skye Forbes is a dancing writer who prefers pointe shoes over street shoes, leotards over skirts, and ballet buns over hairstyles. She loves striped tights and bows and will edit your face with a Sharpie if she doesn't like your attitude. She lives in Augusta, Georgia where she writes dark fiction that will one day put her in a psychiatric ward...again. But she doesn't care because her cat is a super hero who will break her out.  









a Rafflecopter giveaway

“Yet, even when stars die, they leave a lasting impact through their light, their diamond brilliance as they scatter their material to form new stars. When people die, they leave the same impact with the footprints they leave on people’s hearts. Even the ones who feel insignificant go out, leaving behind dust that can nourish the world anew.”

Amelia Gareth's brother is a witch and the only way to save her family from the taint in his blood is to become a professed nun at Cathedral Reims. However, in order to become professed, she must endure trials that all nuns must face.

Surviving these trials is not easy, especially for Amelia, who is being stalked by shadowy beings only she can see. They're searching for people they can physically touch, because only those they can touch can see them. Amelia soon learns why she is being stalked when she accidentally harms her best friend with fire during the third trial. Fire is a witch's signature. The shadows are after witches.

Now Amelia must decide what to do: should she continue on her path to profession knowing there is no redemption, or should she give up on her dream and turn away from Cathedral Reims in order to stop the shadows who plan to destroy everything she loves?

Don't forget to share this on google+ and Facebook too! 

Friday, 24 January 2014

Rejection

Dear Ms. Wilson,

Thank you for your submission to our magazine, unfortunately...

Delete

That's how it goes. The life cycle of a rejection slip. But rejection isn't always a bad thing. Sure, there's the generic "Thanks but no thanks" but every so often you get a rejection with a compliment. A rejection that begs you to try them again. Well, okay, not so much begs as suggests. But the mere suggestion that you try them again holds promise. It says, "Hey, You did something so right it compelled me to tell you to try my magazine again. You just didn't do it right enough."

Remember, being rejected doesn't necessarily mean you did something wrong. All it means, if you boil it down, is the person who considered it for their magazine didn't like it enough to print it. It doesn't even mean they didn't like it. They may have enjoyed it just fine, but there were other pieces which stood out more than yours did.

I could tell you how to deal with rejection, but I'm not so sure myself sometimes. I usually take it pretty well. I read it, I delete it and I forget about it. If I really like the magazine, I might send them something different, guidelines permitting, of course. 

Rejection is part of being a writer. To get out there you have to submit, and if you submit you risk rejection. Rejections will likely show up in our inbox more often than acceptances, but that makes the acceptance letters all the sweeter.

I used to be scared of rejection. Absolutely terrified. It was so bad that I wouldn't submit my work anywhere. But that wasn't anyway to get published, was it? So I started subbing to magazines. There were a lot of rejections at first, but I kept on working. Now, every so often, a nice little acceptance pops up in my inbox. Those little letters make everything worth it. All the early morning writing sessions. All the little rejections. It all fades away with the words "It is my pleasure to offer you publication of..."

I implore you, shut out the voice that shouts "Why bother?"

Listen instead to the one who whispers, "Why not try again?"


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Truth

Day 21 of the 500 words a day challenge was the hardest yet. I woke up and for the first day, didn't write my words. Then I got so stuck on the fact that I didn't write my words that I kept not writing. Determined to "not let me get me" I went into the My 500 Words Facebook group and the Day 21 challenge inspired me.

I want to say, that I've never, ever, EVER spoken of this since the day it happened.


An embarrassing moment, an awkward truth, something you wish didn't happen...but did. 

I was twelve, and totally in love with a boy. We’ll call him Nathan Ziggler. Nathan was beyond cute, he was absolutely gorgeous and I adored him for the three years I went to camp. For one week every summer I got to stare at one of the finest looking boys that ever existed. 

For three years I wrote about him in my diary. Nathan, I love you. Nathan, you’re the hottest guy ever. Stupid little love letters. Stupid little fantasies filled with happily ever afters. I had all but planned our wedding and named our future children. Three years of dreams were in a rose covered diary. I wore the key to three years of Mrs. Nathan Ziggler doodles around my neck.

But there it was. In her hands. My friend Alice and I walked into our cabin to get changed so we could go swimming. I saw him first. His gorgeous brown eyes laughed at me. I couldn’t figure out why he looked so strange, so amused, then I noticed everyone else. All of his friends, there had to be at least ten people crammed in the corer of the tiny cabin. I didn’t know what was happening at first, but then I saw her. Jessica, her jet black hair was loose today and it cascaded down to her waist in long shining strands. My precious rose diary was in her hands.

“Well, well, well.” She said, a mocking grin spread wider on her face. She kind of reminded me of the joker from the batman movies, but I think his make-up was better. “Oh, Nathan, he’s just the cutest guy in the whole world. I can’t wait to go back to camp so I can see him again. I know he doesn’t know that I exist, but I can’t help being in love with him.” She licked her fingertip and flipped the page. She raised her voice to be heard over top of the laughter. “I just can’t believe how cute he is. I think he’s the hottest guy I’ve ever seen.”

“Jessica, that’s enough.” My friend Alice said as she stepped forward and tried to grab my diary, but Jessica turned and kept reading. 
I don’t know how much longer I stood there, stupid, red faced, mortified, but eventually I turned and walked out. Hot tears ran down my face. I didn’t know where I was supposed to go. How could I face another four days with all of them? 

I passed one of the adults. She smelled like lavender when she draped her arm over my shoulders and asked me what was wrong. I told her I was homesick. I told her I missed my mom. It sounded logical enough. I felt like a baby, I was crying like one, so a little bout of homesickness wouldn’t be hard to swallow. It was easier than blurting out the truth. 


The truth. That’s a funny word. I could have told the truth. I could have told this camp mother that a bunch of older kids busted open my diary and read it. They might have got in trouble over it, but the truth was that I was stupid. I was stupid for bringing it there in the first place. I was stupid for daydreaming about the same stupid boy for three years. The truth was, I hated myself more than I hated Jessica at that moment. I hated myself for thinking that one day, one of those dreams might come true. 

The truth is this. Even though Nathan Ziggler is nothing but a distant, uncomfortable memory. Even though I haven’t seen him since that summer and don’t remember what he looked like, I still remember the way it made me feel to be mocked by a group of people. The ridicule was nothing I’ve ever experienced before, or since that day. I never kept another diary. I tried too, but I’m never honest with it. I never tell it how I really feel. I never tell it the darkest things, the scariest things, the fleeting moments of tender dreams. I only tell these things to myself. So far as I know, no one can read minds yet. 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Don't Accept The Identity Others Will Give You

I couldn't find the perfect Shane quote
so I chose one that made me laugh. 
We live in a society of labels. Everyone is labelled. Everyone labels everyone else. But don't let others label you. Don't let others tell you what you're not. Don't let other define you. Define yourself. Don't let others tell you what you are and don't let them tell you what you're not.

If you paint, and you love to paint and you think about painting all the time, you are a painter. Don't let someone take that title from you because your work isn't in The Louvre, or you're not selling out art shows. If that's how you express yourself, who cares if you're work lives up to their standards. You are a painter.

If you take pictures and try to improve and play with lighting techniques, you are a photographer, even by the basic definition, you are a photographer. You may not be able to charge people, or use the term Professional in front of your name or make a living off it, but you are a photographer nonetheless.

I'm going to quote Shane Koyczan. He's pretty much my hero and he said it best, so I'll use his words.

When I was fourteen, I was asked to seriously consider a career path.
I said,
"I’d like to be a writer."
And they said,
"Choose something realistic."
So I said,
"Professional wrestler."
And they said,
"Don’t be stupid."
See, they asked me what I wanted to be, then told me what not to be.
And I wasn’t the only one.
We were being told that we somehow must become what we are not, sacrificing what we are, to inherit the masquerade of what we will be.
I was being told to accept the identity that others would give me.
And I wondered, what made my dreams so easy to dismiss?

Don't let other people define you. Be who you want. Do what you want. Follow your passion, chase your dream. Don't let anyone tell you that your dreams are stupid. Listen to Shane, he's a smart guy.

Don't accept the identity that others will give you.

Let your freak flag fly...or keep it fold up in your underwear drawer.

It's your choice, not ours. 

Thursday, 16 January 2014

From The Dusty Archives

The other day I was talking with my best internet friend, Amber Forbes about writing from ages ago. She lost most of hers in a computer crash, which is a crying shame. We have all lost writing from time to time. I've lost a few pieces myself. But I still have much of my writing from 10 years ago. Anything before that is likely lost forever. I thought it would be fun to share a bit of my old writing with you.

The following is from the last page of a 70k+ book I was writing. I have little idea as to what it was about, and the first half seems to be missing somewhere. I remember that it was a fantasy novel, and that it was horridly cliche. Forgive any errors, I'm posting it as is.

Tired, haggard, and chilled to the bone they finally reached land. Solid ground felt strange beneath his feet. Everything about this place was strange. Trees were more bountiful here, the land was moist, even the air was moist. It was a far cry from his desert-like homeland. If he could ever go back to farming it would be here, away from Angardia.

Leaving his homeland had been strange, at first, but he'd left so many things and lost so much that he quickly grew accustomed to the thought. 

"What is this land called?"

"I thought I told you." Dek huffed.

"All you said was that we were going through the shards, you never said to where."

"Ervenhorst."

"How far from here to the obelisk?"

"Boy, you don't want to know."

There you have it. Ten years ago I was so completely proud of this. I had no idea just how cliche it really was. It was bad. Horrible. It was a haphazard unplanned mess, but I had a LOT of fun writing it.

It's rather strange, because I fully planned on sharing an old poem with you, just to show how far I've come. I was looking through my archives...and I really can't even stomach much of my work from years ago. I was so proud of those little poems, they were brilliant. Now I can barely look at them. I grimace as I read them in my head and I shudder at just how BAD they are. They're not slightly bad, they're awful. 100% terrible. After much internal debate, I have found one that I will share, though I am extremely hesitant to do so. It's untitled and it's at LEAST ten to twelve years old.

There's no stars left in the sky tonight
No love left in my soul
The sun no longer shines as bright
And I no longer feel whole.

My heart lays dead and broken
Now it's just an empty token
Of love's come and gone
Just like the fleeting dawn.

The only thing as lonely as me
is the solitary moon
But it is up so high
And I'll be dead so soon.

No, this was not some sort of dramatic suicide note...I was in my late teens, early twenties, when this was written. I was a very emotional person and I wrote out everything. Every slight, every heart ache, every wound, no matter how small, became a poem. It was a terrible time for my poetry. But I am thrilled over the improvements I've made in my craft these past ten years. The difference is night and day really. It makes me excited to see where my work is in ten years.

And think, that was one of the better poems from back then. Oy.

I'm going to go hide now. Probably die of embarrassment.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Self Publishing is Not A Get-Rich-Quick Scheme

I was reading some comments on a Facebook page the other day on a topic about publishing. Someone was letting their fans know that they’re going to create a “how to” video to show everyone how to use Amazon to publish their books for free.

First, I’d like to commend this person for wanting to help others out. Helping others is a great and noble venture. Then, I read the comments and was left shaking my head. One person commented that they couldn’t wait to see her video. They needed to try something to earn some badly needed money.

Self publishing is not a get rich quick endeavour, and if that’s what you expect it to be, you are in for a big let down.

“Despite the splash caused by self-publishing superstars such as Amanda Hocking and EL James, the average amount earned by DIY authors last year was just $10,000 (£6,375) – and half made less than $500.” http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/may/24/self-published-author-earnings

And while you can go it alone, it’s not always advisable. Some people do contain the skill set required to release a book all by themselves, but

“the survey found: self-publishers who received help (paid or unpaid) with story editing, copy editing and proofreading made 13% more than the average; help with cover design upped earnings by a further 34%.

Half the respondents failed to reach $500 in royalties in 2011, and a quarter of the books are unlikely to cover the direct costs of production. "Sobering" news, wrote Cornford and Lewis.”

So, that’s basically my point. Self publishing is not a great way to make money. To have a chance at making any money, you probably have to spend money. Editing, formatting, cover art, even marketing. I’m not advising against self publishing, there are some great self published books and authors out there and I’m a huge supporter of them, but I just want people to wake up and realize that you wont be famous overnight. You likely wont make a huge amount of money and if you invest your own money, you’re not even guaranteed to earn it back.

So if you’re looking to get rich quick, you might have a better chance at playing the lottery.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a great article on Forbes.com

I leave you with some final thoughts from John Green, author of The Faults in Our Stars.

"Don’t make stuff because you want to make money — it will never make you enough money. And don’t make stuff because you want to get famous — because you will never feel famous enough. Make gifts for people."

Friday, 10 January 2014

Poetry is Not a Weekend Project

It's no secret, by now, that I'm working on my first collection of poetry, you can read the details here. I wanted to pop in and talk about the construction phase of my book, The Volume of Silence. I understand there are people out there who can, on a whim, decide to put out a book of poetry. So over the space of a weekend they throw together a few of the poems they like, in whatever order they happen to land in. They may even go so far as to doodle a few "illustrations" for their book. They spend thirty minutes designing a cover and VOILA, by Monday morning it's on Amazon. The Volume of Silence is not a weekend endeavor. Really, it's a book that is twenty years in the making.

Twenty years. Legitimately, I could toss on a cover (I even have something nifty I'll show off at the bottom of the post) throw the poems together in any old order and be published by Monday. But my brain doesn't work that way. I obsess over little things like comma placement (if I use them at all). Minute details bother me, like how one poem sounds coming after another poem, and I still haven't gotten to that phase of the project yet. I might even enlist some help with that. Why? Because I'm far to close to my own work. I've been writing it for twenty years. Well, to be fair, none of the poems in my book will date back twenty years. But some date as far back as 6 or 7, some longer, I'm sure. Some were written yesterday and some will be penned tomorrow.

I could never be a weekend author kind of person. Partly because I'm really enjoying the process. While I don't want to drag it out forever (My deadline is Feb 9th for completion) I want to savor the process. The process is a kind of love affair in itself. I get to construct an entire book from the ground up. I've written a couple novels, I've written short stories and flash fiction, but by far, I've written more poetic words than words in any other form. Poetry is more than a weekend love affair for me, and thus my book is more than a whim. It's my passion.

Now, I enlisted a friend of mine, a budding photographer, to help me with some sort of cover art. It's likely not the official cover art (if I get a publisher they'll likely provide the cover art) but I wanted a fancy graphic to use to promote my book. So, without further ado....

Photo and Design by Ashley Lund

Well, that's it. I rambled on about why I won't hammer out a poetry book in a weekend and now I must go. I have more work to do on my book. Hopefully it'll get picked up and I can hand these out for Christmas presents in 2014!

If you'd like to read some samples of my work, visit the links on this page.



Sunday, 5 January 2014

The Volume of Silence

Not the official cover art
There you have it folks, the name of my poetry collection. Why The Volume of Silence, you ask?Because silence can be the loudest thing on Earth. Silence can speak in volumes. The poems that are in The Volume of Silence are poems about things you can't say and things you can't stop yourself from saying. It's about the way we connect with people, and the way we sometimes don't connect with people. It's a little bit of my mind and a whole lot of my heart and soul.

Obviously my simple graphic wont be the cover for what I hope to be a stunning collection of my work, but it sure does make a nice cover photo on my author page. I plan to have the manuscript complete and ready for submission by February ninth, my thirty-first birthday. So far there are forty three poems personally approved by me but I'm shooting for sixty.

Some of the poems that will be in the book, including the poem it's titled after, have already been published, but the bulk of the book will be made up of unpublished work. Some freshly written, some pulled from the archives and dusted off.

I can't wait to share it with all of you. If you want to get a taste of how I write, check here.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

I'm Showing Up

It's only the fourth day of 2014.  It's also the fourth day of the 500 words a day writing challenge I committed to joining and already I've accomplished so much. I won't blog about this every single day but I wanted to take a moment to share my experience so far.

The hardest part is showing up, but it's easier when there's a community of people to share your experience with. I don't want to go into the group empty handed, so it propels me forward. It encourages me to sit down and write my 500 words. Sometimes I get 600, sometimes I get 1100. But I write. That is the point. It's not about quality. Sure, it's nice to write words you know you'll be keeping, but that's not the point. The point is to show up. Every day. To write. Every day. To make your passion your habit. To transform yourself from a sometimes writer to an active writer.

Here's a list of my daily writing accomplishments since I started the challenge.

Day 1: 


745 words on my novel

1 poem
1 blog post written and posted

2 blog posts for future use
I also did some work on my poetry manuscript and it's up over 40 poems now.


Day 2: 

526 words on my novel
2 new poems

Day 3:

1166 words on my novel
3 new poems
1 blog post for future use

Day 4: 

600 words on my novel and this blog post

I've done more in the past four days than I accomplished in some entire months back in 2013 and the secret to this sudden burst of productivity is this. 

I've been showing up. I've been making myself write. I've been reminding myself that this is important to me. I've also been encouraging others to join, or to keep going. The first couple of days, the posts in my news feed on Facebook were what reminded me to stop wasting time and go write. I would sit there and read about the successes of other people. Success they'd achieved just by showing up and doing the work. It doesn't take long. I can tap out 500 words in about a half an hour. They are words that will need editing, polishing, revising, some may even be deleted in the end. But they are words on the page and not in my head. Every 500 words written is another step closer to the finish line. It's not a sprint, it's a marathon, and I'm in it for the long haul. 

Come join the fun

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

500 Words A Day

So here it is. The first day of 2014! We've eaten the Christmas turkey, we've sang the carols, we rang the new year in with vigor and promises to ourselves for a better future. Last year it took me until April to get around to setting a solid goal for myself. This year, I've already got some plans made for myself where my writing is concerned.

First off, I'm participating in a 500 words a day challenge. The idea is to get into the habit of writing every day. Unlike NaNoWriMo, there is no getting ahead, there is no catching up. 500 words every day. If you miss a day, you miss a day. There's no making up for it. You simply pick yourself up by your boot straps and resolve to not miss another.

I'm also hell bent on getting a poetry book out this year. I want the manuscript completed by the end of February. I have 32 poems that I'm going to include so far, but I need more material. So that's another goal. On top of the 500 words a day I want to write a poem a day.

These may seem like lofty goals, but really, I can do this. THIS is manageable for me. Not only have I penned a new poem today, I also successfully completed day 1 with 745 words in the bag for *drum roll please* the rewrite of Unbroken! It's been a year since I decided to rewrite it, so it's high time I get my arse in gear. I'm really excited.

If you're interested in joining the 500 words a day challenge, join this group on Facebook. 

**UPDATE**

For the purpose of not posting a new post every day, I will keep track of my progress here.

Day 1: 745 words
Day 2: 526 words
Day 3: 1166 words
Day 4: 600 words
Day 5: 643 words
Day 6: 914 words
Day 7: 647 words
Day 8: 852 words
Day 9: 760 words
Day 10: 595 words