Alycia Christine

Enchanting Tales, Intriguing Art

Tag: one artist/writer’s labored soliloquy (Page 1 of 8)

Why I Lost My Way

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“Stream Leaves” – Tap to enlarge and create customized gifts.

Let me apologize…

I’m sorry, but I’ve lost my way. For months, I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with this blog. I’ve had little motivation to write it and I couldn’t figure out why. Now I know. I mistreated my creative subconscious and now it’s enacting its revenge.

The worse writer’s block that I ever have when writing a novel always happens when I make my characters do something out of character. When I put them in a situation where they act against their own natures, the half-oiled wheel that is my writing squeaks to a sudden, inexorable halt. I end up with my muse and my characters giving me the silent treatment—refusing to talk or to budge from their stilted position on the page until I fix the scene and solve the problem. I’m afraid the same thing has happened here on my blog.

Let me explain…

If we are all the main characters in our own lives, then I have acted out-of-character on this blog and I am sorry. I really haven’t been writing to my strengths and the creativity here has suffered for it.

For the past several months, I’ve been writing more and more frequently about the self-publishing process because it’s a very relative topic which many readers and writers find interesting. I’ve shared my expertise about the process of self-publishing as I’ve experienced it. But here is the problem: self-publishing isn’t really my passion and neither is teaching.

I chose to pursue self-publishing as a more direct and efficient way to interact with my readers, not because I necessarily prefer it over traditional publishing. Like anything else in life worth pursuing, indie publishing is very challenging. If I’m honest, I’ve developed a bit of a chip on my shoulder toward the publishing process (both traditional and independent) because it is such a difficult slog. There are no short cuts in this business, not even as an indie author. I am an indie author because I must be. At the end of the day, I am still the person most passionate about my own art and so I am the person most qualified to share my art with others.

So in the end, it is still my soft voice up against the roar of the world’s vast creative oceans. As much as I care about the work I’ve done, how can I ever hope to share it with others? How do I get my work distributed into the hands of my readers? My website blog and book distribution partners like Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords have certainly given me a toehold in the game—far more than what I ever had ten years ago. And yet I am still one small voice adrift in the sea. Albeit one with a raft.

The real problem is…

And then, just I was learning to steer that raft, I became convinced that such an endeavor was useless unless I also taught others how I do it. I believed the lie that my work was not as valuable in and of its own right unless I taught others the method I used to produce it. The problem with this is two-fold. First, it means that I lost confidence in my own unique work. Second, it means that I’ve tried to be something I’m not.

I’m not a teacher. I’m a mentor. I work best with one or two people under my wing at a time, not an entire lecture hall. I’m far more interested in why things happen, then how they occur. It’s just how I am—how God built me. Instead of trusting in my Father’s plan, I tried to push one discipline into the other and make it work. Shame on me. Believe me, I didn’t mean to undermine my own God-given strengths, but I did it anyway. That’s usually what happens when I let doubt gnaw at me.

So now that I’m too exhausted fighting against myself to keep up this charade, it’s time to return to my roots. I’m an artist, after all, so my energy and inspiration are renewed with each new creative discovery. Although I tend to be a deep-thinker, my natural artistic tendencies mean that I’m much better at portraying the flowers and the thorns of the world around us than I am actually teaching how they grow.

Let me make this promise to you…

All this is to say that I’m going to take this blog in a renewed direction. Instead of talking about the ins and outs of how writing, publishing, or photography work, let me instead show you the beauty of why they work and why I love them as I do. I want to do what I do best: take you along on a creative journey and share with you all of the adventures (and misadventures) along the way.

These scrawls of mine should not contain wasted ink. That just muddies the ocean of creativity more than it already is. Instead, I believe, that my scrawls should help you view the world from a new perspective and a wondrous heart.

Finally, let me also warn you…

I can’t say with certainty say how this new writing chapter will unfold in our lives together, but I’m willing to give it my best effort in the hope that I can do what I set out to do in the first place: rewrite the world for the better. Thank you for patiently sticking with me thus far. I hope you’ll continue to journey with me, even with the missteps. Hopefully, together, we will find more love and inspiration than we ever thought possible.

Sincerely,
Alycia

~

The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with vivid fiction, deep love, and epic art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

Books:
Skinshifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits | FREE STUFF

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

Writing as a Business: The Myths of Self-Publishing, Part 3

A few weeks ago, I began a new mini-series on my Writing as a Business blog outlining a step-by-step guide on how to self-publish a book. Before we begin the main guide, however, I wanted to prepare by writing several posts dealing with some common self-publishing myths that can cause stumbling blocks for those new to the game. If you haven’t read the first or second self-publishing myths articles, I suggest you do that before tackling the article today. For those of you who are all caught up, let’s continue.

Writing Myth #6: Getting It Right on the First Draft

No matter the area of expertise, the difference between a professional and amateur is lots of practice. Consequently, you need to prove yourself as a professional by putting in the work required of you. In the case of writers, this means that the first draft of a manuscript is never good enough to publish no matter who you are or how long you have been writing. Professional writers know that publishable material only comes after several drafts of a manuscript are complete.

In my case, I finish a rough draft and let it “rest” for at least a couple of weeks. I come back to it with fresh eyes, and rewrite a second draft of the manuscript. If the second draft meets my expectations of quality then I’ll send it to my alpha readers. I write a third draft based on their suggestions, send the third draft to my copy editor, and write the fourth draft based on her critique. With four drafts under my belt, I should be done, right? Wrong! Instead, I’ll send the fourth draft to beta readers and write the fifth draft based on their comments. If all things turn out well, the fifth draft of the novel goes to the proofreader and the sixth draft is the one that sees final publication. However, before I click that publish button, I have to oversee the manuscript’s formatting for multiple book additions including three e-book formats and, at least, one print version of the work.

What about the streamlined version of the writing/publishing process?

Sorry but what you just read is my streamlined version of how to take a manuscript from rough draft to publishable form. If I find plot holes or other inconsistences in the book at any point during the second draft revision process, it will require additional rewrites for part or all of the manuscript. Skinshifter, for example, required about eight drafts before it ever even saw my editor. Dreamdrifter only took three.

If this all sounds like a lot of work to you, well it is. I know other writers—independent and traditional—who are far less picky in their revision process and, quite frankly, their lack of effort shows. They may call themselves professionals, but their writing still proves them as amateurs because they haven’t revised their manuscripts enough. To put it in simple terms, they haven’t put in the amount of practice required to write on a professional level.

So how much practice is needed?

That depends entirely on the writer. I’ve heard estimates of five to twenty years before a writer can be considered a master of the craft. I’ve also heard the 10,000-hour-rule applied to writing proficiency. One writer, the popular blogger and author Hugh Howey, recommends that the amount of practice a writer needs to be adept at his or her craft can be achieved by writing five hours a day, five days a week, for five years. If you do the math on that you get: 5 hours x 5 days x 52 weeks x 5 years = 6500 hours total. This is considerably less than the rule of 10,000 hours of practice that I’ve heard from other sources, but I suppose it’s possible to write on a professional level after five years if the practice is deep enough and the writer adept enough in skill. The truth, though, is that writers never really master our craft because there is always more to be learned.

For me, that journey of discovery and learning is part of the joy of the vocation. I love learning and so I try to discover something new about writing every day. I’m always reading to increase my general knowledge and to deepen my understanding of writing. As I read and as I practice the act of writing itself, I grow in my appreciation of this incredible craft as a means of shared communication and artistic expression.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better.

Alycia

~

The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with vivid fiction, deep love, and epic art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

Books:
Skinshifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits | FREE STUFF

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

Writing as a Business: The Myths of Self-Publishing, Part 2

As I explained in my last blog post, I’m beginning a new mini-series on my Writing as a Business blog outlining a step-by-step guide on how to self-publish a book. Before we begin the main guide, however, I need to make sure that you are in the proper mindset when it comes to self-publishing. Consequently, the last post and this post deal with several self-publishing myths. If you haven’t read the first three self-publishing myths, I suggest you do that before tackling the ones today. For those of you who are all caught up, let’s continue.

Myth #4: If You Publish It, They Will Read

In the beginning of the self-published book gold rush during 2008-2011, tons of indie authors hit pay dirt just by writing books and clicking the “publish” button on Amazon. Now, not so much. The book market is flooded with tons of self-published titles now and that makes it all the more difficult to compete with your own work.

Indies’ saving solution to this problem is direct marketing and networking. Since self-publishing cuts out the middleman (publishers) between authors and our potential readers, it means that direct marketing is one of our best options to engage readers. Thanks to the internet and social media, authors and readers can enjoy a more direct relationship than ever before. Direct contact to readers allows authors the ability to find out what readers want and when they want it.

However, direct marketing gets tricky. The last thing most readers want is to be spammed with “Read my book!” every time they turn around. Instead authors need to use social media to build relationships with potential readers around common interests. That is time-consuming work, but part of being a professional author is being sincere and truthful with your readers in every piece of writing you create—whether it’s a novel or a text message. After all, readers are the reason writers exist, so they deserve our best efforts.

Again this is a slow-growth game. Since most authors—indie or traditional—start out with zero marketing power behind their names, we all have to rely on direct marketing and networking to reach potential readers. The simple act of being available on social media is the first step toward finding like-minded readers. Through natural discussion, we can build relationships with those potential readers. As with anything, we must prove ourselves to be trustworthy toward others. Only after we build that relational trust in ourselves, will we begin to see readers’ trust in our products.

So what does this all mean in terms of your writing and publishing career? It means that you must be prepared to make a monetary loss on your first few books because beginning relationships with your clients is more important than profits at this point. You need to be willing to invest money to insure product quality without expecting an immediate return on investment. You need use the quality of your books and the sincerity of your actions to build reader trust in your unique products and the brand that they represent: you.

Myth #5: Self-Published Books Don’t Have Much Value

In ancient times, the written word was hand-copied and distributed as tablets, scrolls, and, much later, leather-bound books. This painstaking process meant that books were scarce and therefore of high value and price. For millennia, only the nobility and the rich owned books and benefitted from their information. This began to change as advances in printing press technology and the rise of pulp fiction began to make books much more affordable for the poorer masses. Gone were the leather bindings and hand-tipped gilt pages in favor of full-color paperbacks. The downgrade in material quality paired with cheaper prices and wider distribution meant that more people of less financial means could read and, possibly, better their circumstances through the education gleaned through books.

Fast forward to today when the cheapest and most cost-efficient book format choice is e-books, which don’t even incur a cost for printing on paper. Now, anyone with a smart phone and an internet connection can read hundreds of books for cheap or free. Thus the once-prohibitive cost of education and entertainment via even paperback books has once again plummeted for readers. Does this mean that e-books are worth less? Not remotely. The gilt pages and hand-tipped illustrations may be gone from the pages, but what they leave behind is a great story. If I’m honest, I’ll admit that readers buy a book for the story or information that it holds, not the pretty frills that it includes. This is one thing that makes e-books such a powerful tool for indie authors.

Even more important than this, though, is the fact that e-books enjoy far greater distribution to a worldwide audience through internet distribution than any book in hardback or paperback has previously enjoyed. This huge customer-base and high demand means that what self-published books lack in price, they can make up for in sales volume. This means that my self-published books can be read by people I will never meet in countries whose names I might not even be able to properly pronounce. It means that a worldwide reading phenomenon like the success of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series can and will be repeated with more and more frequency as readership expands across the globe.

Even with the cheaper prices requiring bulk sales, I’d argue that the perceived value of a good book is a thing measured by more than just dollars and cents. After all, I can still remember the name of the book that first turned me into a lifetime reader as a young girl. I also remember the name and the author of the book that started me down my writing career path. Such books are almost as precious as long-time friends to me—as they are to any reader whose life they’ve helped improve. If written, edited, distributed, and marketed well, my own self-published books have the potential power to help someone else find hope and better education in the darkest and humblest of circumstances. That is a priceless fact.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better.

Alycia

~

The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with vivid fiction, deep love, and epic art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

Books:
Skinshifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits | FREE STUFF

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

Writing as a Business: The Myths of Self-Publishing, Part 1

At the request of a reader, I’m beginning a new mini-series in the next few weeks on my Writing as a Business blog. My dastardly plan is to give all of you a step-by-step guide on how to self-publish a book. I plan to start with a general overview of the steps I personally take to publish each book. I’ll then discuss each step in the process in more detail during subsequent posts. Depending on your feedback, I can change and add to the blog schedule as needed. Before we begin the main guide, however, I need to make sure that you are in the proper mindset when it comes to self-publishing. This means that this week and next week, we’re going to be busting several self-publishing myths.

Myth #1: The Ease of Self-Publishing

People think that self-publishing is easy and I can’t really blame them. Compared to the seemingly endless cycle of submissions and rejections that a single book manuscript can go through in the traditional publishing world, self-publishing a book looks easy. It isn’t. Self-publishing may be a simplified publishing process, but that doesn’t make it easy. Anyone who tells you differently is likely trying to sell you the literary equivalent of snake oil.

As I have little faith in literary cure-alls and have zero patience for their petty proselytizers, let me tell it like it is instead of wasting all of our time by sugar-coating things. Self-publishing is a slow-growth business. If you want to be an indie author, then you need to understand that you are in this for the long term. You as an indie author are a self-employed entrepreneur. And, like most starting, self-employed businesses, you won’t get rich quick. In fact, you may not get rich at all.

Myth #2: Getting Rich Quick

It’s rare that I meet an author—indie or traditional—who can make a full-time living through his or her writing. Those that do are usually the ones willing to do whatever it takes to put out the best-quality, more-professional products they can as quickly as they can. Full-time professional authors are the ones who have broken their backs writing and revising book after book. As I’ve said in a previous post, it’s usually the most persistent and persevering authors who win this race even over the most talented authors. Of course, those who strike it rich in this business usually do so because they have all of the talent, persistence, and luck on their side. To use a baseball metaphor, full-time authors are the major league players in our field. They are the fortunate few that spectators want to pay to watch even though there are millions of kids and adults who actually play the sport. To make a living as an indie author, I have to play harder, smarter, and better than many of the major league players hitting home runs in my genre.

The reason that getting rich as an author is so difficult is because book authors are the ultimate freelance writers. Unlike regular employees in any regular service industry, authors aren’t paid for the time that we work; we’re paid only for our end product. That means that we need a variety of products (books) to satisfy our customers (readers), and that we’re going to incur production, marketing, and distribution costs before we can ever see our product in the hands of our customers.

Authors get paid from the royalty off of every book we sell. For traditional authors, that royalty is usually 12-30 percent of every book’s sale price (not including any sales or vat tax). For indie authors, that royalty is often 30-70 percent. Indie authors get a larger cut than traditional authors because we do more work. Indies act as both the author and the publisher, which means that we are ultimately in charge of all aspects of the book. We deal with the writing of the book as well as its editing, formatting, legal protection, cover art, back copy/marketing description, retail distribution, pricing, and more. The extra royalty isn’t free cash for indies; every extra cent is well-earned.

Myth #3: The Small Cost of Self-Publishing

One of the biggest misconceptions I find among new authors is the notion that self-publishing costs less than traditional publishing. I never have understood that idea because when you self-publish as an author you are taking on the responsibility of publishing your own book in addition to writing it. This means that you will incur every single cost that an author and publisher will incur just to see your book as a finished product. Consequently, self-publishing costs more time, money, more commitment than traditional publishing.

If you are going to self-publish, you need to understand this high cost of self-publishing. While writing a book can be a hobby, publishing a book is never anything less than a job—complete with overhead costs, distribution deals, sales figures, taxes, and more. You as the publisher of your book will be in charge paying for the costs of editing, proofreading, cover art, marketing, and distributing your books. Note that I said books, not book. As I have previously said, a wise publisher knows that a profitable publishing business is built on a variety of products, not a one-shot wonder.

Such publishing projects can cost anywhere from $500-$10,000 per book. Depending on your individual strengths and skills, you may be able to mitigate publishing costs by taking on one or two of the publishing projects yourself; however, I caution you against doing things yourself or on-the-cheap unless you have a professional background dealing with the project in question. Remember what I said earlier about playing harder, smarter, and better than many of the major leaguers in the same genre? If your book’s writing, editing, cover art, or marketing copy can’t compete with the professional players, then you don’t have a prayer of stepping up to bat with readers.

Of course, my reasons for telling you all of this is not to discourage you, but keep you from walking into the role of an indie author blind. This publishing route is a very rewarding pursuit as long as you remember that it has its drawbacks just as traditional publishing does. I hope this helps dispel some of the misnomers associated with being an indie author. Next week, I’ll bust three more self-publishing myths.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better.

Alycia

P.S.-I am happy to announce that I’m looking for beta readers for my book Dreamdrifter, the sequel to Skinshifter. If you’re interested, contact me!

~

The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with vivid fiction, deep love, and epic art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

Books:
Skinshifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits | FREE STUFF

Artwork:
Birds | Bugs | Graphic Art | Flowers | Landscapes | Leaves | Mammals | Romance | Objects | MORE

The Judgment Trap

Skinshifter_Text_Banner_2-4x6Could someone please tell me what insanity I just strayed into? A few moons ago, I encountered a group of social reform advocates who are absolutely decrying the evils of Christian rock music. Specifically, they were bashing the large Christian rock tour called Winter Jam and claiming that its mission was the work of Satan because of the “loudness” of some the music involved in the tour. I’m sorry, but are you kidding me?

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a hard rock fan. No, I have never listened to Metallica and I could care less about AC/DC. I have never bothered with Korn, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, or any of the mainstream rock bands that have been popular in my lifetime. Instead I grew up on legends like Audio Adrenaline, DCTalk, Newsboys, and Switchfoot. Now I listen to bands like Fireflight, RED, Skillet, Superchick, and Veridia. All of these bands are varying degrees of “loud” and all of them are, incidentally, Christian.

My reasoning for listening to these bands is that their overall message is very good. For me, it’s refreshing to listen to the soaring riffs of an electric guitar without enduring the acrid lyrics about the superficial pleasures of sex and drugs that so often accompany it. It’s also nice to listen to Christian bands who don’t feel the need to preach to all the world about the sublime goodness of God every single moment. Instead these are bands talk about the facts that life is not always pretty, human beings aren’t always perfect, and our mistakes can be rectified through Jesus’s love and grace. These are songs about confronting the darkest parts of ourselves, conquering addiction, overcoming grief, and letting go of toxins like hatred and rage. These songs speak of spiritual warfare: the constant duel between darkness and light. Their lyrics are a constant reminder for me to be vigilant against the war within myself as a flawed human being. I don’t always choose right over wrong and when I don’t, evil wins and others get hurt.

For someone like me who has used to these bands and their messages both heavy and light to help myself overcome some of the darkest episodes of my life, the rants of this particular reform group struck a nerve.

I will grant that I am somewhat on the extreme of Christian music tastes, but so what? Whether we agree on music or not, my frustration with this group was not the fact that they didn’t like the same music that I like. My problem is that this group of well-meaning people passed judgement in their self-righteous pride on something that they have no right to condemn.

Let me be crystal clear. Judgement is not a bad thing. In point of fact, it’s a very useful tool that helps us humans categorize and organize our world. However, if I judge others from an attitude of pride, then I am wrong. If I judge others with an attitude of love and humility, then I honor God. I as a Christian am called to love God and others. I am called to live a righteous life that helps others. I am called to spurn sin in any form it takes so that I can live life truly free. However, I have to be very careful what I call bad and what I call good. Jesus gave a great test for this in Matthew 12:33-37 with his “rotten fruit” test. If a person’s actions produce rotten results then those acts are bad and I need to take steps to stop the damage. If a person’s actions produce good results, then I need to support and encourage those actions. It’s that simple.

This is why I have no problem with hard rock Christian bands. I don’t bolster them because of the “Christian” label; I support them because of the good fruits I’ve seen them produce in my life and in others’ lives.

The same can be said about writing. I once wrote an article about the Writing Comparison Trap and the fact that it leads to self-doubt as a writer and a creative. I think the Judgment Trap that I’m discussing today does something similar. Both situations give me an unhealthy dose of pride to overcome. So my best guess is that I should avoid both of them by focusing my calling and my mission as a creative instead of comparing myself as better or worse than others.

No one will perceive the world quite in the same way I will. Likewise no one will interpret life experience in the same way I will. I think the themes of love, loss, grief, hope which exists in my writing are universal enough to capture other people’s interest and to build common ground between us. However, I also know that my chosen fiction genre, fantasy fiction, will not appeal to everyone just as my favorite form of rock music will not send people’s hearts happily aflutter. And that’s okay. I am not trying to enrich the entire world. I am merely attempting to build common ground between people who are somewhat similar to me. My hope and my prayer has always been that my writing would encourage and inspire others. If my writing does that, then I’ve served my mission well. If my writing harms; however, then I need to reevaluate what I’m doing.

At some point, I know that I will probably receive quite a bit of flak from the fact that I don’t shy away from darker themes and that I use magic as a simple way to explain God’s and Satan’s power to people who have yet to recognize them. That’s okay, too. Those that decry me for the genres in which I write are missing the point. I’m honored to stir up controversy. After all, my own savior Jesus knew that his message of sacrificial love and grace would be controversial especially to those who were already perfectly content to judge others as worse than themselves. Jesus didn’t come to heal the self-righteousness. He came to heal the broken-hearted, down-trodden, and those who know that we’re just not perfect. He came to heal me. I find it rather amazing that he uses my major passions of music and writing to deepen that healing.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better.

Alycia

~

The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with vivid fiction, deep love, and epic art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

Books:
Skinshifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits | FREE STUFF

Artwork:
Birds | Bugs | Graphic Art | Flowers | Landscapes | Leaves | Mammals | Romance | Objects | MORE

Writing as a Business: Becoming a Panelist

"Bashful Flamingo" - Tap to enlarge or buy

“Bashful Flamingo” – Tap to enlarge or buy

The past three weeks have been so exciting! I turned Dreamdrifter into my editor on March 26 at just over 137,000 words. Once I delivered the book into the capable hands of my most talented mutilator, I prepared for AggieCon. This year marked a rather special AggieCon for me. After attending the con for ten years, I was invited to be a speaker on four different discussion panels. The invitation marks a promotion of sorts for me as a writer. Until now, I had always come to the convention to listen to the panelists and learn from the things they share. Now I find myself speaking as one of them. That isn’t to say that I don’t still learn as a writer, but now I’m at least in a place where I’ve practiced a few things long enough to be able to share with others what works and what doesn’t for me. It’s a welcome transition that has come through a ton of hard work.

Of the four panels that I helped run, the Self-Publishing Panel was by far the most interesting for me. The attendees had some excellent questions and some of those questions are what I want to address today. Since I’ve written quite a few articles about the business of writing, I wanted share several of my past discussions on the subject. Here is the list:

I hope each of these help you progress in your knowledge of the craft and of the business! Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better.

Alycia

~

The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with vivid fiction, deep love, and epic art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

Books:
Skinshifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits | FREE STUFF

Artwork:
Birds | Bugs | Graphic Art | Flowers | Landscapes | Leaves | Mammals | Romance | Objects | MORE

Bleeding for the Better

"Crane Moon 2016" - Tap to enlarge or purchase.

“Crane Moon 2016” – Tap to enlarge or purchase.

I’ve been drinking copious amounts of green tea and racking my brain for most of this evening. I’m in the middle of third-draft rewrites on Dreamdrifter and I’ve hit a very interesting dilemma. There is a very sweet scene between two characters at the beginning of Chapter 6. I absolutely love it, but I don’t think it fits the overall tone of the book at this point. I need to decide if I should keep the scene and rewrite it, if I should pull it for use later in the book, or if I should just delete it altogether. I’m not sure which is the right answer, but I hope to figure that out within the next day or two.

A lot of work has gone into my rewrites of Dreamdrifter and I’ve been fairly quiet about the process up to this point. I’ve changed the overall tone of the book’s first few chapters to make it move faster. I’ve also woven more intricate subplots into the overall manuscript. Both of these decisions have required me to take a virtual machete to the first third of the book: hacking up and rearranging scenes within the pages with a ferocity that would probably make a butcher proud. Once I get done beating this book to a bruised pulp, then I’ll give my editor her chance to make the manuscript bleed all the more for the better. If I’m truthful, I have to admit that I always look forward to her special attention with equal parts, fear, trembling, and elation. Editing is always a difficult, heart-wrenching process. It is also the only way I know to take writing from bad to great.

The book’s rough draft is due to my editor toward the end of March and I had hoped to introduce it to beta readers before then, but time has slipped faster than desert sand through my fingers and I find myself brushing up against deadlines faster than I expected. I will, of course, still get copies of the book sent out to those who want to help me clean up those last gritty issues before publication, but that will have to wait until after my editor works her blood magic on it.

In the meantime, I will continue to write and plot and scheme and manage to drag my characters through all sorts of insane adventures for my readers’ particular pleasure. We’re still a ways away from my being able to officially announce a publication date, but I can promise it’s happening soon.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better.

Alycia

~

The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with vivid fiction, deep love, and epic art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

Books:
Skinshifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits | FREE STUFF

Artwork:
Birds | Bugs | Graphic Art | Flowers | Landscapes | Leaves | Mammals | Romance | Objects | MORE

Broken Transmissions and ConDFW

"Sandhill Crane Flock" - Tap to enlarge or buy.

“Sandhill Crane Flock” – Tap to enlarge or buy.

As many of you know, life in our household has been quite an adventure for the better part of the past six months. In the process of relocating from West Texas to the Dallas area, my husband and I’ve endured a moving truck fire, a hard drive crash, a tornado scare, and, now, a car transmission repair. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my car apparently no longer wants to properly shift gears and she informed me of this fact in no uncertain terms while I was driving home from a photo shoot on Friday night. On the bright side, I managed to get her to a good repair shop without getting stranded in the side of the road.

On an even better note, I will have the funds to pay for the repairs. While we continue to look for full-time jobs, I’ve been blessed with some freelance work. I have two massive photo shoots during February to keep me busy and help make ends meet. Yay!

I also have the wonderful opportunity to attend ConDFW this weekend as a dealer. For those of you in the Dallas area who have not had a chance to get my books or artwork signed, this will be a great opportunity for you to do that as well as hang out with me during a first-rate book convention! In addition to the full dealer’s room, there will be tons of discussion panels and other fun happenings to satisfy all of your bookish, artsy, and nerdy habits. By the way, this particular con will host well-known authors Seanan McGuire and John Scalzi plus a lot of other incredible writers and creatives. I look forward to seeing everyone this St. Valentine’s weekend at the Hilton Dallas Lincoln Centre (5410 LBJ Freeway, Dallas, TX 75240)!

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better.

Alycia

~

The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with vivid fiction, deep love, and epic art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

Books:
Skinshifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits | FREE STUFF

Artwork:
Birds | Bugs | Graphic Art | Flowers | Landscapes | Leaves | Mammals | Romance | Objects | MORE

You’re Not a Real Author

Skinshifter_Cover_9-4x6Since I began independently publishing my books in 2012, I’ve encountered an attitude among the writing and publishing communities that absolutely baffles me. When some people discover that I’m self-published, they often react with a knowing roll of their eyes as if to say, “Oh, no, it’s another one of those aspiring author wannabes.” Imagine my disbelief when someone actually said that I as an indie author wasn’t a real author. Um, ladies and gentlemen, I have five books and over a dozen short stories published in multiple formats and available across five continents. How am I anything but a real author?

Dryad_Sacrifice_Cover-4x6As far as I can remember, a person becomes a writer when someone publishes something that he or she has written and a writer becomes an author when someone publishes a book that he or she has written. If a piece of writing has appeared to the reading public in an easily digestible format (i.e. in a blog, newspaper, magazine, or book), it’s considered published. Consequently, the barrier to entry to be a writer is penning one published article. The barrier to entry to be an author is one published book. To be fair, in order to be considered a professional writer or author, you must be paid for the writing that you publish. Some groups will argue that there is a set amount of money that you should be paid to be considered professional, but money is money. When money is paid for a good or a service, that monetary exchange counts as a business transaction. Therefore, the writer who is paid that money is a professional writer, not an amateur writer and certainly not an aspiring writer.

Thorn_Thistle_3-4x6When I worked as a market reporter and journalist for the Livestock Weekly newspaper, I was paid to write 30-40 articles every week for publication. Over a period of two years, that professional writing workload meant that I produced almost 1,200 published articles. My boss who was the publisher and owner of the newspaper also wrote articles for every LW publication. Those articles were then proofed by our editor, pieced together by our graphic designer, processed by our printer, and then printed on the printing press that we stored in the back of the office building. In effect, my boss Bobby was self-publishing. And he was self-publishing in one of the premier agriculture newspapers in the United States. No one would dare say that Bobby wasn’t a real writer just because his articles were published in his own newspaper. If anything, our readers’ main complaint was that they wanted more of our newspaper with all of its timely information even faster.

Now I’m a few years older and I find myself doing something similar to what Bobby’s father did in his youth: build my own publishing company and write my own published material. Unlike Bobby’s 10-person company, my press is so small that I have to contract out-of-house for everything from editing to printing. Even so, much of the process is the same. Each book is written, rewritten, beta tested, edited, proofed, formatted for print, formatted for electronic publication, proofed again, and sent off into the wild blue yonder via distributors and retailers for purchase and perusal by readers.

Musings_Cover-4x6ACI’ll admit that the quality control process is more in-depth for books than it is for newspapers, yet I would never say that newspapers produce an inferior form of writing. After all, one of the world’s most prestigious writing awards—the Pulitzer—is given to journalists. Whatever the field, it takes a great amount of discipline and dedication to produce informative and engaging writing on a daily basis. Writing is not an easy achievement, but it is a crucial accomplishment.

I think the essential question in this debate is not whether indie authors are “real” authors, but whether indie authors write high-quality work. As in traditional publishing, the answer depends on the writing skill of the individual author in question, not on the method that author uses to achieve publication.

FirstFruitsCover2As for myself, I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity to write my best for my readers each and every single day. When I began my writing career, writing my best meant that I worked as a traditionally published journalist and fiction writer. I became an indie author when traditional publishing proved too slow of a system to help me get my books to the people who wanted to read them. Now I work as a hybrid author—constantly flitting back and forth between the two publishing methods. No matter which method I use to get my words out there, my incredible readers are my final indicators of quality. Their opinion is what matters most to me. No matter what anyone else says, it is my readers who make me a real author. Consequently, the only thing left for me to aspire to be is a better writer than I was yesterday. Love and thanks to my readers! You are all amazing!

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better.

Alycia

~

The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with vivid fiction, deep love, and epic art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

Books:
Skinshifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits | FREE STUFF

Artwork:
Birds | Bugs | Graphic Art | Flowers | Landscapes | Leaves | Mammals | Romance | Objects | MORE

Gilded Autumn Nostalgia

"Gilded Autumn" Photograph - Tap to Enlarge or Buy

“Gilded Autumn” Photograph – Tap to Enlarge or Buy

Autumn always arrives late in West Texas. Summer here begins in April and continues through early October. When the weather finally cools and trees begin to shed their leaves, there is little color change before they fall from their supporting branches. Only in the lonely cottonwood trees do we see a glorious transformation. For a handful of days in November, the leaves of the cottonwood trees turn from vibrant green to brilliant hues of gold. This rare fall treat is quite precious because there are few places in West Texas outside of the Davis Mountains that actually hold cottonwood trees in any abundance. The cooler temperatures and calmer winds created by the sheltering cliffs help these trees grow tall in an otherwise hostile environment. In summer, you might not even notice these quiet giants so dwarfed by the immense mountains surrounding them. Yet a look in the middle of November will reward the viewer with branches of gold highlighted against the deep shadows of the ridges. This perfect study in the contrast of colors is a reminder that even the most rugged places can beauty for those willing to seek it.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better.

Alycia


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with fine art, love, speculative fiction books, and tea suggestions for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

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