@feliciaday ‘s You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) and How it Inspired Me

If you know me well, then you know how much I love the webseries The Guild. I’ve probably watched the series through at least five times (don’t judge me), and will likely watch it many more times.

The first time I watched The Guild was right after I herniated a disc in my spine and was pretty much relegated to my bed as most movement was excruciating and I’d had surgery recently and basically my body was a mess. I decided to watch this show about MMO addicts, being an MMO addict myself, and it was the perfect thing to watch in my bed on my laptop. I’m not gonna lie, I watched most of it in one sitting. I loved the short format, the idiosyncrasies of the characters, and I connected with main character Codex on so many levels. I bought the comics, watched all the behind-the-scenes, and was so disappointed it was finished for good.

Recently I bought Felicia Day’s audiobook You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) because she narrates it herself, and I’m glad I did this. There is an increased personal touch in having the author of a memoir narrate her work, especially since she does such an excellent job of it. I mean, she’s an actress, so good narration is a given. I quickly found myself immersed into her world of being a weird, home-schooled kid trying to find her place in the world, and I felt such a connection with her, because I, too, was a weird kid.

I went to public school and everything, but even my friends regularly called me weird. I dressed how I wanted, I wore my hair in strange ponytails with two long bangs hanging in front of my face. I was obsessed with gaming for the vast majority of my life, and would rather talk Pokemon than makeup. (This is still true). I also played make-believe in the school yard for probably longer than I should have, and actually lost friends as an 11-year-old who wanted to slay giants while the rest of my group were starting to shave their legs and wear mascara. I remember one particular sleepover party where I felt particularly bizarre, and was the moment I realized I was growing in a different direction than the girls I hung out with. I decided then that I would just go my own way and figure things out with whatever people decided to hang out with me, mostly as I quickly discovered that a nerdy, imaginative girl did not fit in with the “popular” crew who wanted to leave the childhood I desperately clinged to behind.

Felicia owns her weirdness, and I think it’s a really important and admirable quality, because there’s nothing wrong with being weird. Our individual weirdness makes us who we are; it’s what makes us awesome.

I squeed a lot when Felicia’s book went into Guild territory and how she came up with it all and the process of making the show, and then something happened that I wasn’t expecting: there was a long chapter that detailed her process of her despair of not being able to create what she wanted to create, and to fill the expectations of the creative people around her. This is something I have struggled from a lot in the last few years of my writing. It’s the struggle of writing what you want and writing what is marketable, writing to fill what agents want, what the market is buying, and losing your creative personality in the process. This has happened to me, and this process is emotionally crippling. After I finished Wasteland I had a number of books I was working on: a YA ballerina horror, various fantasy and urban fantasy ideas, a Cyberpunk mystery series, and the story of a girl who gets trapped in an RPG. I also started editing, and got caught up working with a few companies and freelancing and spent so much time working on other people’s books that I wasn’t taking the time for my own work. This has had a profound impact on me, and I had to ultimately figure out how to design my schedule so that I could edit and write. This still hasn’t completely happened to the point I want it to. I still need to work on this.

Back to the book, Felicia started describing a group she was part of–a group of creative ladies who helped each other stay on track–and how she found she was lying to the group to try to make them think she was writing when she was really gaming. It wasn’t until she came clean that she found the determination to just go for it and try something new and create an online webseries about something she had experience with–Video games.

Obviously it worked out for her, and she built an empire of sorts online with The Guild, her Youtube channel Geek and Sundry, and other projects online like the Dragon Age series. A strong message she gives after achieving all of this is to do what you want to do, to do what you’re passionate about, and that there are so many new ways to produce content in this age and try it out. I’ve been sitting on this serial novel idea for a few years and listening to this book seriously had me rallying in my head, like “Yeah, I can do this! I can create this cool thing and hopefully people will love it.”

So I finished the book, and I decided to create something to help me keep track of what I’m doing, and hopefully for other writers to join in and encourage each other to try new things and have people to bounce ideas off of. I’ve called it the Fable Society, and it’s currently and open group for writers (or any creator) working in sci-fi/fantasy to join in and check in once a week to announce your successes and struggles and get cheers and feedback from other creators. I’m hoping it will grow into an awesome community of like-minded people who can help each other, collaborate, and make awesome content. If you want to be a part of The Fable Society, please let me know. I would love to have more people involved.

If you are interested in Geek Culture, in The Guild, Felicia Day, or just about the creative process, I would highly recommend You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost). It’s an awesome book, super interesting, well-written and narrated, funny, and inspiring. I know listening to it has made me much more inspired to do what makes me happy, to write what I want, and to search for more amazing people to surround myself with.

 

 

#Resolutions 2016

I had a really amazing New Year’s last night filled with awesome people and amazing music. The Jonny Parolin Band played us out of 2015 and it couldn’t have been sweeter.

I haven’t been looking forward to doing Resolutions this year, mostly because 2015 has been a pretty crap year for me with being ill and not getting much done. I had a few surgeries and procedures, and a back injury that left me incapacitated for the better part of a few months. But my back is somewhat better now (I can’t shovel snow anymore, but I’m not complaining too much ;)) and I’m slowly working my muscles back into shape so I can be active again.

Here were my resolutions last year. Let’s see how I did:

Resolutions for 2015:

1. Keep pursuing diagnostics for my illness, and get all the help I can.

Being adopted has made this difficult as I only have one family side of genetics to know much about, but I’ve had some important diagnostic procedures this year, including a laparoscopy. I’m still working on this one, but I suspect it will be one of those life-long goals. None of this is going away anytime soon.

2. Complete a book for publication, and one for serial release.

I didn’t write as much as I wanted to this year, but I edited a hell of a lot, so… no, that doesn’t make up for it. BUT, I have gotten myself in a pretty good position to get a lot done this upcoming year.

3. Work on eating healthy and maintaining that.

I’ve cut most gluten out of my at-home cooking, and found a pretty good balance of protein and vegetables. I could probably eat more vegetables ;)

4. Do as much as I can for my friends and family

I have had the pleasure of watching my niece grow to be an excited two year old, and I love spending every minute I can with her.

5. Get my house into a maintainable state (get rid of almost all extraneous possessions).

It’s better, but not perfect.

 

Here are my Resolutions for 2016:

1. Rehab my muscles so I can dance and ride horses easily again (without bruising the next day)

2. Finish two of my main projects: Pirouettes (YA Horror), Ion/Hacked (Cyberpunk), Ocean of Noise (YA Speculative), Wildfox Farms (Horsey YA), NPC (Episodic Gamer NA)

3. Blog more! I blogged like five times this year. Most shameful behavior.

4. (Try to) avoid junk websites like Buzzfeed which only waste time.

5. Finish the house.

 

I’m hopeful for a great 2016 with lots of editorial projects, lots of writing, lots of gaming, lots of riding, lots of life. xoxo.

What are your goals for this year?

Basic Writing Resources

I haven’t blogged in forreeever! But I want to change that. I’ll be making some form of update sooner or later.

For now, here is a list of basic writing/publishing resources that I’ve posted on this blog!

 

Basic Grammar Guide for Writers: Must-Knows

Writing Tropes to Avoid

15 Ways to Rock Being a Writer in 2015

I’ve Finished my Book, Now What? A Very Basic Guide to Publishing

 

Have questions? Leave a note in the comments and I will do my best to answer them! ^^

 

I’ve Finished My Book, Now What? A VERY Basic Guide to Pubbing

I’ve been chatting with a lot of writers lately who have just finished a their first novel, or are close to finishing, and aren’t sure what the next step is. I thought I’d write a short guideline to the many options available to get your book published.

Note: Just because you’ve typed “The End” doesn’t mean your book is done. Before you proceed with anything, you’ll want to make sure your book is complete, polished, with no plot holes or typos or dangling loose ends. Finding a critique group is paramount at this stage, though you will need some tough skin. As a writer, tough skin is a necessity, so start growing it early. One very good critique website I have used in the past is www.scribophile.com . They have a diverse group of writers and a good platform for critiquing and editing.

Basic Grammar for Writers

10 Basic Tips for Writers

 

I want to first go over a few myths I’ve seen surrounding self-publishing, agents, and traditional deals.

 

If you self-publish your book, a traditional publisher will offer you a contract.

No. Just… no. Very rarely this has happened in the past, but it will likely not happen much in the future. Here are a few reasons why:

1. If your sales have hit between 10,000-50,000 units, the market for this book has been tapped out, meaning a publisher has no real reason to pick it up because the book has already been sold, given away, or read by most of the market. This is the equivalent of buying a stock when it’s at its all-time high, and is only likely to go down.

2. If your sales are between 10,000-50,000 units, then congrats! You are a success, and this particular book has probably made you some good money. You don’t need a publisher for this book.

3. The appeal of release for the book has already been used up. Publishers want something fresh, and they have piles and piles of manuscripts on their desks.

 

I’ll just self-publish the ebook and try to sell the print rights to publishers.

Unless you’re a best-selling trade paperback novelist, most of your sales are going to be electronic. Publishers don’t want to have only print rights to a book, they want the whole shebang. It’s just good business sense.

 

I don’t need an agent until I’ve already published some books.

An agent is your gateway into big publishing houses. If you want to go traditional, getting an agent is your first step.

There are essentially three main routes to publication: Traditional, Small Press, and Independent (Self-Publishing). Each of these routes have pros and cons, and some books may be better suited to one than the other. For example, when I was querying Cerulean, most of the feedback I got was, “Too literary for horror.” Based on this response from industry professionals, I decided to publish it independently. It’s a weird book, and doesn’t fit in to a marketable genre very easily. Other books will be different. Choose the route you feel comfortable with.

BIG NOTE: If you want your books to be published by big publishers and in bookstores, go the traditional route. Please do not hope to be picked up by self-publishing. It is very rare, and based on the current market, probably won’t happen. Choose wisely.

 

The Traditional Route

This is the route to publishing that has been used for ages, and still exists and works to this day. Once you have a manuscript that is ready (edited, proofed, tested), you’re ready to find an agent to represent you.

Now don’t just go sending your book to every agent you can find. Do some research. Look to see who represents the genre you’re writing in. If you know of authors who write similar works, find out who their agents are. There are a number of directories online as well that show you what agents represent, and how to query. Follow their guidelines to a T.

Another great idea is to follow agents on twitter and check out their blogs. They post  lot of tips on what they’re looking for and ways to sharpen your query, just don’t harass them online, that is a big no-no.

Your query is the most important thing you will ever write. This is your sales pitch, and it needs to hook the agent right from the beginning. Describe your book, the main plot points, and use your writing style to make it pop. Some agents will also want a full synopsis and a sample of the book, usually the first fifty pages. If you need assistance on writing your query, there are plenty of resources online, or you can hire someone to help you out.

Send to each agent separately, they will know if you just spam out one email to all the agents you’ve compiled, and keep a checklist or spreadsheet chronicling their responses. Keep in mind the wait for response can be long (6-8 weeks is normal), so patience is key.

You will likely get a lot of rejections. Pay attention to these. If you keep getting form rejections, it’s a sign your query isn’t strong and you need to rework it. If you get asked for partials or fulls and still get rejected, you may need to work more on the book itself. But don’t give up, finding the perfect agent is a long and arduous task, and very subjective. If you keep trying, you will find “the one.”

This is one tip no one wants to hear, but if you’re querying for more than a year and get nothing, write another book. Your first book, or second, or third, may not get picked up, but the important thing is to not give up and KEEP WRITING.

Once you find your agent, you’ll sign some paperwork and they will represent you. Some agents will help you polish the book for sale as well. Once it’s ready to go out, your agent will send the manuscript to various editors to make a sale. They work in your best interest, and are invaluable to your career.

Once you make a sale, you’ll go through various steps of editing, proofing, cover design, and promotion. Keep in mind that writing is a tough business, and you will have to promote your book through social media, website, blog posts, etc.

 

The Small Press Route

Small Presses are amazing as well, and many will accept a query without an agent. Think of these publishers as boutique publishers. The process for publication is the same as querying to an agent, so make sure that query is solid!

When researching small presses, always give them a good background check. Look to see the quality of the books it publishes, the covers, and how happy the authors are. If something is fishy, a quick google search will often lead you to forums where authors tell of their experiences, good or bad.

It’s also important to review the contract, should you get an offer, with a fine-tooth comb. This is usually where an agent comes in handy, as they know the ins and outs of contracts. Things to look for are advances, royalties (are they gross or net?) and for warning signs. If the contract has a KILL FEE in it, which is basically a fee if you want your rights back before publication, BEWARE. These publishers often make more money from their kill fees than they do from actual sales.

If you find the right small press, I have no doubt you will be very happy. Most of them are comprised of great people who are working to make your book as amazing as possible.

 

The Independent Route

Self-publishing is easier now than it ever has been, but this also makes for a convoluted market and a LOT of work. If you’re considering going indie, know that you are literally being your own publisher, which means all duties of a publisher now rest on your shoulders. Editing, proofing, typesetting, cover design, promotion and marketing, sales tracking, and more, will all be very important duties. Don’t scrimp, either. If you don’t have the money to hire a professional editor, find someone who might trade work, but NEVER publish without a professional editor looking at your work. Your mom’s friend who knows grammar doesn’t count, either. You need someone who knows the market, and who knows formatting and Chicago Manual of Style.

You’ll also want a professional cover. A bad cover can mean the end of your book. If you know graphic design, you’re lucky, but if you don’t, hire a professional, or find someone who will trade. Do your best to ensure the product looks just like a book published by a big company. This will get you a leg up in the market, and will give you a sense of pride in your work.

When it comes time to actually publish, there are a variety of outlets available. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing is the forerunner, but there is also Smashwords, Kobo, Nook, and resources like Book Baby that help you get your book out there for a fee. If you don’t know much about formatting your work as an ebook, consider paying a small fee. It will take a lot of stress off your shoulders.

To get your book into print, there are also a few resources like Createspace (connected to Amazon) and Lightning Source.

BIG NOTE: Avoid companies like PublishAmerica, iUniverse, and Lulu. Their packages are exorbitant in price and don’t guarantee a nice, polished product. Many authors have wasted thousands of dollars for sub par products through these services.

Also ensure your book is up on Goodreads, and work on a marketing campaign before release date. There are so many avenues for marketing your book these days, such as book tours, guest blogging, online release parties, and giveaways. Always do your research and keep track of what has worked for others. Don’t blow your savings if you don’t have to.

If I’ve scared you away from the Independent Route, then consider going to an agent or small press publisher. Indie publishing is tough business, so if you plan on jumping in, ensure you’re adequately prepared.

 

This guide is extremely basic, but there are a plethora of resources out there to expand upon all of this. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below. Also, check out my Services page if you’re looking for a professional edit, help with your query, or in-depth consultation on the publishing process.

 

 

Umbranox Lore: The Rusk

I’m so excited about the epic fantasy world I’m building and can’t wait to share some of this world. The Umbranox series takes place in the world of Taeren, a world where magic is dying and the Umbra, monsters and spirits, control aspects of the world like weather and harmony.

There are also a few different races that make up Taeren, and in the current era, these races have evolved, like the Lohiik, who descended from ancient dragons.

Today I want to talk about the Rusk, who are central to a short I’m writing to be out soon(ish).

Rusk (artist unknown)

The Rusk are desert-dwellers who surround the capital city of Solaris. Descended from ancient sand-people, their skin is rough and shimmers in the sun just like the sand in the desert. Most are darker skinned, leaned, and known for their strange beauty.

The Rusk have long since lost their magic, and focus instead on mech. From small ships to surf the sand to air-conditioning units for the palace, there is no shortage of invention among those in the desert. A common trend in Solaris is mechanical pets.

To power their machines, the Rusk use Aeos cores, which is an element found in the mountains and sands of Taeren. Aeos can provide large amounts of power to do all manners of things, which makes it a versatile power source that borders on the realms of magic. Aeos comes in different colors and with different strengths, depending on where it is mined.

The rulers of the Rusk live in Solaris, the Sarr and Sarri holding the top positions and sitting on the greater council. The Sarine are the heirs to the throne.

Once a month, the Rusk hold a rather bloody tournament in a large coliseum where all the prisoners in the dungeons have a chance to fight for their freedom. The last surviving prisoner is pardoned from his or her crimes, and set free, though these people often retreat into the desert to live with the nomads as not many would trust a felon. This tournament is held in honor of the Umbra Sestral.

 

Look for more on the blog outlining the other races and cities of Taeren, and more information on the world of the Umbranox and NPC!

Getting Back on Track

I’ve been away for a while, and I promise, I’ve missed you all terribly.

Unfortunately, I’ve been quite ill for the last six months. It began with abdominal pain that ended up being an intussusseption (rare thing where the intestine telescopes itself) which required emergency surgery. After that, things didn’t get much better. I’ve been plagued by constant pain, exhaustion, and an inability to focus on much when I have been able to be up and about. I still have further diagnostics to be run, but it looks like a chronic condition (endometriosis) which has spread higher than usual.

Why am I sharing this? For months I had no idea what was causing the debilitating pain I was experiencing. The doctors couldn’t figure it out either. Each one had a different theory, whether it be Crohn’s or ulcers or pancreatic issues or even a mysteriously fractured rib. I’ve been through countless X-rays and ultrasounds and CT scans, and countless hours in CDU beds waiting to be told they couldn’t figure it out, done up with painkillers, and sent home. The idea that it could be endometriosis (which I’d had surgically diagnosed previously but fell by the wayside when my other pain appeared) didn’t cross anyone’s mind, as my severe pain was too high in my abdomen.

But I started to research and really look in to this condition and all the different ailments it can cause, and that, in fact, it can cause pain and discomfort in the exact area I’ve been experiencing it. This happens when the tissue spreads up to the diaphragm, causing extreme pain when different pieces of the abdomen touch. I found a lot of solace in blogs written by those with endo who have been through the gamut, and it’s been a terrifying read to see what so many women have to go through just to get diagnosed, let alone treated. Endometriosis cannot be detected by most modern-day imaging devices, so can only truly be diagnosed and observed through laparotomy. This has left so many women in pain and suffering with no doctors on their side, some being accused of faking the pain because it could not be seen through ultrasound or even CT scan.

I’m not going to lie. The last few months have been a small slice of hell, but I feel now that I am finally on the right track with my next round of diagnostics and treatment. I have had some terrible experiences with doctors, including one who told me simply that she couldn’t help me, gave me some pamphlets, and told me quite frankly that I could “think” away the pain. Now, I meditate regularly and am very mindful, and I can tell you that there is some pain that you just cannot “think” away. I think any doctor telling a patient this is just not right. No one should be able to tell you how your pain feels. It’s also very frightening to hear something like this when at the hospital, a place that is supposed to be safe, and where you are supposed to receive care. This was the only doctor who actually sent me home in the same pain I’d arrived in, with no further answers and no hope. I spent the next day and night crying in bed from pain and frustration.

That being said, I have also had wonderful doctors who have done everything they could to try to figure me out, who have made me comfortable, who have found pieces to the puzzle and have been encouraging and positive. I started tracking my pain, my meals, my exhaustion levels. I had to take an active part in my own diagnostics and treatment, because waiting for specialists is on average six weeks, even for those I have already seen. It’s frustrating, but I am so, so lucky to have a positive and supportive family and partner who have helped me get through what I hope has been the worst of it.

Now it’s time to get back on track, to continue writing and editing, and to not let this disease run my life. I know I will probably never be free of it, but staying positive and setting goals for myself has been paramount in my overcoming even the beginning of this. Writing gives me purpose, a reason to keep working hard, and to push through bad days for those good days when the words flow and my worlds unfold around me.

I know this is just the beginning of my journey with this, but I am entering it with as positive an outlook I can have. I may not be able to lead as active a life as before, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try my hardest to fulfill all my goals and to care for those around me.

If I can leave you with anything this Christmas Eve, it’s to always take care of yourselves and those around you. If something is bothering you, don’t ignore it, get it checked out. If you’re going through diagnostic hell, know that if you keep pushing and researching and trying your own treatment methods through diet, exercise, and lots of tiger balm, things will look up. Don’t ever give up, and don’t let the hurdles in life rule you. Life will never be perfect, but it’s in our hands to make of it what we can.

I hope in the new year for more answers, more treatment, more words, more laughs, and more love, not just for me, but for everyone.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays

I love you all, stay healthy and happy, and always look up.

In Defense of Kim Kardashian??

So I was browsing through my feeds and noticed an article about Kim Kardashian, our favourite person we don’t know but love to hate, releasing a coffee-table book of her selfies.

At first I was like “Good Lord,” but then as I thought about it, I actually realized it might be kind of genius.

Wait, don’t let me lose you. Yes, I just compared Kim Kardashian to Andy Warhol, but there really is the possibility that this could become the next phase of art in our future history. Our world (and art) goes through cycles determined by the socio-political atmosphere of the time. We even define every ten years as its own space in history. (Think of the images that crop into your mind when thinking of the fifties vs. the seventies).

Don’t worry, I’m still going to explain this out.

As much as we’ve all become kind of annoyed with selfies lately, there is something about them that is actually very raw and powerful. They aren’t just tools girls can use for attention or for someone to document where they’ve been or what they’ve seen. They’re portraits of life. In ten years, you’ll be able to browse through your selfies and remember each moment in a different way than other photos would allow you to. Selfies are also spontaneous, candid, and don’t focus on art at all, but just documentation. This is what I think makes it art.

Regardless of what Kim Kardashion (Is there a shortform for her name? Like KiKa? KK?) has notably done for her career, many view her instagram as a big part of their daily routine. They want to see the selfies she has posted because they are beautiful to them, or funny, or secretly they love them even though they pretend not to. And before anyone tells me that selfies can’t be art, let me point you here:

This painting sold for $43 million. Anything can be art. And anything a famous person has created instantly holds more value.

I dunno if she’s taking a selfie here but that would be hilarious.

 

I own a beautiful coffee-table book of Marilyn Monroe photos. I will most likely add this upcoming book to my collection as well hoping for this elephant selfie…

 

/Written from post-operative surgery bedrest