Spotlight On…

Spotlight On Art

Today’s spotlight on art is going to focus on something I consider to be a special sort of art all its own; editing.

As an author I consider writing to be my special gift, my art, and I feel confident in saying that I am pretty good at it. I work, write, rework, write, read, edit, rewrite, edit, etc. before sending it to readers, editors, and their ilk to make sure that my work is ready for its audience. Even then I may go back and edit two or twelve more times. As a self-publishing Indie Author I have to wear all of those hats and dance around with them balanced like the Mad Hatter. I don’t get paid to do it, I don’t get paid to write most of the time. I just don’t like feeling as though I’ve let down my readership with sloppy writing.

As a reader, I feel disappointed and gypped when I read a book that is poorly edited. The writing can be amazing, the story line phenomenal, and the characters my absolute favorites but if the editing is terrible I feel sad. Add to that poor word choices and time line mess ups and whatever else can go wrong, and the editors’ jobs are obviously more important than many people stop and realize.

I believe that a huge part of the stigma against purchasing and reading self-published books is because so many of them have terrible editing. When a book is obviously a first or second draft that has not been edited for content or grammar it is an insult to the reader. They are then often so disappointed and soured by the experience that they don’t buy from that author or even in that genre or type (self-published etc) again.

So learn a new art, share it with your friends…edit your work. This is an art form most of us can at least dabble in!

Until next time, may you have a blessed, energized, and inspired week.

 

Choices, Changes, and Clothes

As some of you have probably noticed, I very rarely include fashion in blog posts. Not that I have any thing against such a thing, mind you, but more that I believe in writing about what I know… And that ain’t it! However, today’s post is about choices so we’ll start with this one.

Mom's Take

Mom’s Take

Dad's Snap

Dad’s Snap

That’s me, today, wearing a piece of clothing I love but normally would never buy.I wear shorts maybe twice a year, and I’m from Oklahoma by way of Central Texas! I always feel self conscious of my legs…

 So what changed?

The honest answer is: absolutely nothing. I’m still a “big” girl, my calves still look like I do marching band every day, and I haven’t completely recognized myself in the mirror for awhile now. So why is today the day to wear this outfit and be okay? Simply because I got tired of seeing it sitting there, waiting; begging for me to slide it on and get dolled up for absolutely no reason at all. I finally CHOSE to let myself wear the outfit and that choice boosted my confidence.

I’ve made a lot of choices in life. Like everyone else. Some were good, some not so great, and some horrendous. One good decision was this outfit, another was starting this blog and self publishing my books. I researched, worked hard, and chose self publishing as a way to retain control of my “life’s work”, my babies. I haven’t sold very many, probably because I chose not to pay for advertising or a book trailer, but I always get good feedback and have given several hundred away with the kindle app.

Now my choice is changing some. As I look to find an agent for other works, i  am also keeping a keen eye out for someone who might eventually be willing to take on the Stone Dragon Saga and all of its extras. I may never find them. But in the mean time, I am also choosing to revamp them a little, throw a few tweaks here and there, and maybe even pay an editor and some advertising. Anyone know how to make an eye catching book trailer?

You see, I chose for years to be lazy. I told myself that I was content with there mere fact that I had put myself ‘out there’ by allowing my books to sit hidden among thousands more on Amazon and Kindle. I felt guilty for contemplating paying for advertising when my daughter wanted a new toy. She has more than enough in her play room (and every other room!) and my choice to use that excuse just doesn’t make sense. See, those pesky choices keep coming back around!

Well now my characters need me to choose… They’re asking for a real chance at the adventure and excitement of being sought after, eagerly awaited, and excitedly devoured by their new readers. I choose to honor that request and that is why I am seeking to change the way I’m publishing. Whether these stay firmly “self published” and I merely put in that extra little bit of effort to polish and market, or they slide into the “traditional” line, the Stone Dragon Saga deserved the chance to really shine and snag readers… And in order for that to happen I must choose change.

We hate change… Why, hello shorts.

Fierce Jungle Pose...MEOW

Fierce Jungle Pose…MEOW

That Bright Sunlight Messing Up My Selfies (but look at those CHEEKBONES!)

That Bright Sunlight Messing Up My Selfies (but look at those CHEEKBONES!)

IMG_20150601_141707

Whether it be the choice of clothing, the choice of activity, or the choice to really pursue those dreams…don’t let ‘being content’ with what you’re doing stop you from achieving what you want! Reach for the stars, write your heart out, and let yourself achieve!

Projects

I don’t know why we do this to ourselves. Pile up projects, due dates, and D.I.Y.s until we just turn in confused circles, trying to decide which way to go first or, possibly worse, which paint color matches the worksheet our boss assigned today that’s due yesterday. Maybe some of us, myself included, thrive on such craziness. Perhaps the organized and zen approach to life would make us insane, crazy with boredom and aching for stress within a week (probably sooner). I wouldn’t know, I’ve never gotten to point where I could find out! As soon as one thing is finished, three more jump up to take its place, waving like an elementary student who thinks they know the answer.

In fact, I am currently smack dab in the middle of at least 5 different projects:

Dragons in the Deep: Book 4 in the Stone Dragon Saga. A centuries old pirate ship is discovered and could hold the key to finding Aliphonsore’s parents. In fact, it could hold the key to ending the Fairy Queen’s insidious plans. With new friends, both human and otherwise, the return of Passiona and her pet sorcerer on the loose, and ancient obscure texts you never know what could be waiting around the corner!

Fifth Grade Dragons: A spin off of the main Stone Dragon Saga. This book finds Aliphonsore and King Ferdinand as professors at an academy in Realta, having made their way back home after the final battle with Passiona. Anna, who is now a writing teacher for a local fifth grade, is asked to help Aliphonsore and Ferdinand teach some students the basics of ‘human’ story telling/writing…to (hopefully) hilarious results.

Highland Park Presents: A short story compilation written by my fifth graders. They each worked hard on providing a short story that shows their abilities, their interests, and their weird senses of humor. Tyree Tomes is transcribing and editing the stories, turning them into one impressive book with a forward written by none other than the proud teacher…ME!

Plants and Ecology: A unit in science that teach students about things the food chain, energy consumption/output, and the ways communities are coming together and using Science to help save their local environments.

Organizing My Rooms: I have 4 rooms that ‘belong’ to me in this house. My bedroom, my sitting room, my closet, and the writer’s loft. We (meaning Dad) are building shelves for the back of my bedroom and will be getting those put in (hopefully!) soon. After that it is my sincere belief that I might be able to get my rooms organized and things up off of my floors! I KNOW that it HAS to be possible! I JUST KNOW IT!

Crocheting/DIY: I almost forgot…I promised a crocheted ear flappy hat to a friend a few months ago…he reminded me about that the other day so maybe I should hop on that! And don’t get me started on the DIY play house and cutesy painting I was hoping to get done this week cus…that ain’t gonna happen!

YOWZA! Putting them all in a row like that is a bit shocking to the system. Quick…somebody line out their to-do list for me! What are you getting done right now? Are you one of ‘us’, with the mile long constant list or are you one of those people who have it all lined out and finish one project before starting another one? If you’re the second type…HOW DOES THAT WORK???

I can’t wait to hear from you! Good luck with all your projects!

Excerpt – Dragon on the Green

I am currently working on the final formatting and editing process for the third book in my YA Fantasy series, The Stone Dragon Saga.

In Dragon on the Green we find our protagonists in a bind as they are forced to work for the one person they are trying to thwart. Here is a short excerpt from the middle of the book. Enjoy!

 

“Tea?”  Jane offered helpfully, pointing out a tea pot and cups at the table’s center, “its chamomile, I had a feeling we might all need the purported calming effects after that little meeting.”

 

“I think that I had better stay away from any calming brews right now,” Joseph pointed out, “I have far too much to do to think about calming down!!”

 

“Any more of those caffeine cans of death and you, sir, will vibrate right out of your skin!”  Anna wagged a disapproving pen in his direction.  “You, my dear artist, have been cut off!”

 

“Noooo,” Joseph dropped his head to the table with a loud thud, “I won’t survive without them!!”

 

“Oh hush, you will be fine,” Jane patted his hand while Anna valiantly tried (and failed) to keep a straight face.  “I’ll go make you some nice black tea, it has a really good kick to it!”

 

“Ok,” Joseph agreed with a whine, kicking the carpet and pouting like a toddler put in time out.

 

“Oh for goodness sakes Joseph! Suck that lip back in, you are a grown man!” Jane lectured, setting a cup of steaming, aromatic dark tea in front of the artist with a clink.

 

“Shouldn’t you be working on some drawing of a fantastical beastie or something anyway?” Anna asked, barely taking the time to look up at her boss as she plowed away at the ever expanding pile of notes in front of her. “And be honest here, do you really need all of these notes or are you just trying to punish us for laughing at you earlier?”

 

“Of course those notes are VITAL to my success here because I should, indeed, be working on drawings, sculptures, and creating all kinds of odd, yet life-like items all in order to assuage a crazy lady’s homesickness for another dimension.  Yes,” Joseph grimaced and swept his arms out expansively and dramatically (as was his wont) “The answer is, all of the above Anna.  All of this should be started, finished, or in the process of both before she gets back tomorrow…or at least a good portion should be, and if you don’t get to work and make those notes readable, I can’t transpose the images from words into ART.  If I can’t make art, we get turned into toadstools and mowed over by a large tractor like machine.  Do you want to be mowed over by a large chopping machine Anna? DO YOU?”

 

“As much as I love your amazing flair for the dramatic overstatement and wish that I could just sit here and listen to you all evening, I think I’ll just get back to work on this life changing transcription about a hulachin,” Anna sassily bobbed her head at Joseph before deliberately turning her back and using the kitchen bar to continue her efforts.

 

“Hulachin???”  Joseph gaped at the girl, “I don’t remember anything at all about a hulachin!  Is there an adequate description?  Are you sure that it actually says hulachin? Oh, I’m never going to get this done!  I’ll be a dozen little pieces of mulch before the weekend.”  Sinking to his knees and hanging his head in defeat, the artist sobbed theatrically for moment as the girls looked on in worry before he slowly sat upright and, wiping his eyes, continued, “You know, maybe I can get this all finished out.  I mean, it isn’t like she expects me to have everything finished tomorrow.  I don’t have to any of the statues done, a really good painting or two should be sufficient to appease her majesty. That kind of work usually takes several days, but I think that I can get it done IF I’m allowed a drink or two of my zing.” 

 

Raising his eyebrows and looking imploringly up at his incredulous duo of assistants, the gentleman in question batted his eyelashes, jutted his lower lip just a fraction, and tried to look as much like a puppy as he could.  Unfortunately for him, the puppy dog look didn’t work on such seasoned babysitters as the two women sitting in front of him. 

 

“OR, you could get up, drink your tea before it gets cold, and stop whining or nothing will get done and Passiona will turn you into a fire hydrant,” Jane was about to the end of her tether and it was starting to show.  “All of this complaining is doing nothing more than wasting time that you could be spending on sketches.”

 

“Don’t worry boss,” Anna smiled reassuringly before returning her gaze to her own work, “You’ll get it done without a doubt!  This is the kind of thing that you love to do.  Besides, didn’t you tell us that you love working under pressure because it doesn’t give you as much time to think instead of just ‘do’ and that is when you create your best pieces?”

 

“Well yes, but I meant time crunches, not the literal pressure of a head vice closing around me, which is something that Passiona is likely to break out of the closet and use on me if I don’t work quickly enough for her!  Did you hear her stop our consultation earlier to tell one of her minions to make a note to check all of the basement and attics for old torture equipment that might be left from ‘those good times,’ before modern civilization?”

Spell Check can be WRONG

Sometimes, spell check is WRONG!!

Have you ever noticed that you can be bopping along, just minding your own business as your fingers fly across the keyboard and then suddenly…a red line underneath your heroin’s name, which is clearly NOT miss spelled.  Then a blue line, they don’t want you to separate those two words for emphasis. OR the punctuation suddenly changes on you for no good reason whatsoever. Yes, sometimes spell check can be dead wrong!

I know that for a first draft, just getting the words out while the muse is inspiring you is the really important thing…but when I’m typing and all of the sudden my computer forgets that those names are ALL for characters I’ve been writing about for the past four years, and therefore have saved to the program, it gets a little frustrating. Do you have times like this, when your story is interrupted by nasty colored lines and a snarky programmed paperclip? Just remember, you CAN ignore them!

 

Until next time: May the lines always be hidden, and your names always spelled to your liking! Have a Blessed Day!