Monday, June 23, 2014

The Author's Creed (and ego)

Thou shalt not steal stories from others!

That's one of the creeds every good author lives by. It encompasses story suggestions from friends, fans, and critics. It covers anything you share with the author to proof read or test read.
Don't get me wrong, though. Original thought isn't so much hard to come by, as it is thought of already. I've always imagined a planet (I call mine Planet Laura) filled with everything and everyone ever dreamed about or imagined. Maybe there's a huge solar system filled with these Creator Muses. It'd certainly make sense, since so many people who've never met or conversed come up with the similar ideas all the time.
Some authors might rationalize themselves into believing they came up with something, but to be honest, everything around us feeds our muse. Beautiful artistry, people living out their lives, and people acting way outside of their pigeon holes. I've read books that triggered ideas for completely unrelated stories. It's how our minds work!
My muse changes shape and form all the time. It switches between different modes, depending on my Libra balance at the time. I've gone from drawing everything in my head to voraciously reading for weeks straight. I call these two extremes Creating mode and Consuming mode, respectively. I have it on good authority that many creators do a huge amount of consuming!
The main triggers for flipping between the two modes seems to directly relate to how full the Muse is. The strangest things can feed it, but it always munches whatever passes its way. Nomnom ideas, slurp people stories, crunch on dreams. Music is a great switch flipper for me, but it can make consume mode switch on, too!
In short, there's an oft-written Author's Creed that is mostly made up of three parts:
  • Ego will not allow theft. 
  • Muse compatibility will not allow theft. 
  • Copyright law will not allow theft. 
So... Authors don't know what to do with your ideas, but may be able to help you do something with them!
We love to hear ideas, and are generally glad to lend a hand with your own creative journey. You have a muse, too, so stretch out your creative wings any way you can!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

It's Bedtime, Moo! available in paperback now!


My daughter has already made the proof we received of "It's Bedtime, Moo!" quite dog-eared from reading it over and over and over. She has mastered "her" parts, specifically "YAY! DUCKY!" and "BRUSHA BRUSHA BRUSHA."

Considering she was part of the inspiration for the book, that's totally cool with me!

The proof was quickly approved once she let us glance at it long enough to determine that the important bits weren't lopped off. Our copy came out quite well! You can now purchase it on Amazon (as well as Createspace). It should be available online at other bookstores in the coming days.



Pick up your copy on:
Amazon
Createspace
Barnes & Noble

Here's the book in action:
Deia and the first Moo book, 'It's Bedtime, Moo!'

Saturday, May 17, 2014

It's Bedtime, Moo! - New Book, New Series!

After a recent round of doodling cows and krakens for my children, two good friends in my life suggested that I write a book for children. Believe it or not, there is an unfinished children's book somewhere on my stove of books-to-finish! Gasp, an unfinished book? Say it isn't so!

Given how long it took me to finish the illustrations for my nephew's book, Daddy is Tired, I was surprised by how much more quickly this one was completed. It helped quite a bit that I had that surgery on my elbow back in 2012, of course! Ever since, I've been relatively pain-free. It still twinges occasionally. Sometimes before weather changes, but usually if I've been over-using it.

In any case, Moo and Friends is one of my favorite set of characters I've ever drawn. My Mom still loves the "Fruity Friends" I drew ages ago (Mango Man, Nataline Nectarine...I was such a goober when I was a kid!), but I haven't really thought much about them in over a decade. I only remember them when Mom mentions them :P

What I call "Original Moo" is a representation of my daughter, who loves cows. The Moo featured in "It's Bedtime, Moo!" is actually my daughter's favorite stuffed animal, who also happens to be named Moo. I know, it's so confusing! Moo wasn't her first word, but she's been using it extensively for over half of her life. She'll be three in September, to give you an idea of how much she loves the word. Her collection of plushie Moos has grown exponentially over the past two years, starting around her first birthday when she met the first Moo (who is the Moo featured in this book). She gave Moo the biggest hug of her life, and they've been inseparable ever since. We did have to buy her first...

I hope you enjoy this first book in a planned series of Moo books! The ideal age-range to enjoy this book is 5 and under, although you may enjoy it even if you're 90!
You can find your own copy at these stores (print version coming soon!):

Digital/eBook Versions:
Google Play Books
Amazon Kindle
Kobo Books
Apple iBooks
Nook
Scribd
Smashwords - Use coupon code EW73U through the end of May 2014 for two dollars off the eBook price!

Friday, March 28, 2014

I Have A New Book - Personality Runes!

Personality Runes Cover
I have so many other books to finish, but this one kept calling to me. The ideas behind Personality Runes were ones I've used myself over the past several years. I never thought to share it beyond some hastily-scribbled random words, posted on a digital flashcard site.

As I delved deeper into each Rune to flesh out my thoughts more, I felt more in tune with the Runes on a whole. Strangely enough, the Runes I'd so carefully crafted (and wrote about in this book) were lost when we moved last year. I remember carefully packing them so I could get to them as soon as we unpacked, but I still haven't been able to locate them. Along with the Runes were a beautiful set of Goddess Tarot cards, and a growing collection of semi-precious stones. I'm sure they'll be found at some point in the future. Who knows, perhaps they're meant to be handed down to one of my kiddos!

In any case, I relied heavily on my artistic/creative side to connect with each shape and symbol in the Runes. It's something I enjoy quite thoroughly on many levels. I love to find out about all the different sorts of people there are in the world. To get into their minds, figure out what drives them, and possibly turn them into a character for one of my stories. Isn't it interesting how everything always comes back to stories?

This book is available on Amazon as a regular book (gasp - not just an eBook?). It's available through several different places as an eBook, too!

If you'd like to get your hands on a copy, check out these resources:

Print copy
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Createspace

Ebook copy
Amazon
Smashwords
Google Play Books
Nook (Smashwords Edition)
iBooks (Smashwords Edition)
Kobo Books (Smashwords Edition)
Scribd (Read it for free with a Scribd subscription!)


Smashwords distributes to many other channels, too, so check your favorite eBook stores in the coming days!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Website Move and Update

In case you haven't noticed, we moved to Blogger! Wordpress is a great product, but Blogger has a lot of features built-in and doesn't require constant updating to the latest version. Apparently if there's an update, it happens automatically. That's pretty cool!

By my calculations, it's been almost a YEAR since I last posted an update! In that time, I've turned 30, my oldest finished first grade, and my youngest started on her Terrible Twos. I've changed jobs, too!

The books I've been working on are still being written, I promise! The time-table's definitely changed, though. I've started a few other creative projects (and even finished some), so I haven't completely abandoned creativity :)

I've been working on some children's books for my daughter using my "Real" name. It's not that I think I can write a better children's book or anything, but I really want to teach her certain concepts my way. The hubby thinks my story ideas are a bit out there, but he thinks I'm an Odd Duck. I don't even quack! I think of myself as more of a kitty, you know? Apparently that is part of what makes me an Odd Duck. Sigh!

I do plan to finish Meryl's story by the end of this year, so look for the Smashwords' link in the future! :D

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pre-biography

My posts have lately been centered around a more self-help perspective than the usual writer-talking-about-writing-stuff. By "Self-Help" I hope you all understand the posts are from my perspective and aren't intended to fit the world. Just as an author writes in the genre they are good at, a person lives the life they're good at. Well I suppose you could write in any genre regardless of how much you enjoy it, but I prefer to stick to what I like!

Meryl's been getting WEIRDER AND WEIRDER. The book, not the character. The character is definitely turning into a strange person as well, but things keep happening that I just hadn't planned for! I've read several different "writing process" type suggestions that range from "get the outline" to "write on the fly." It's the same with drawing or art of any sort. Some people work very well within a structure, and some give up on their structured pieces if they try.

I've got PLANS to do the nanowrimo this year (I will do it I swear!!! I will!) and have been struggling with what to write. It has to be something you start fresh, and you have all of November to write 50,000 words. You can't start it in October and finish in November. For me, if I don't finish Meryl by then (and I'm 1/3 of the way through my new goal), it WILL be the first novel I finish. I've finally settled on a sort-of strange idea for a book that's based on a recurring dream of mine. Generally with my recurring dreams, I feel they're some sort of flashback to a previous life. While in some circles it could be considered "Non Fiction" to write about a previous life, I'm pretty sure that'd be stretching it a bit for most of the world. Since I intend on taking some poetic license with the story anyway, I've already started preparing it mentally as a more fiction-type story. Reading about a previous life could get really boring if it's presented like an auto-biography. What would a previous life book be called anyway? Pre-biography?

The story is actually really really depressing and sad and has no true happy ending. The optimist in me is sorting out the ending to figure out how to make it happier, or at least have some take-away from all the sadness. In the dream version there are a few things that are different, but ultimately the gist of the story will be relayed. I hope it helps people in similar situations understand people like the characters in the book. Other than that, it's really not going to be one of those OMG YAY yippy skippy things. It wouldn't be classified as Romance or Mystery or Sci-Fi. What genre is Sad Lit anyway?

On a rather unrelated note, I've switched back to using Disqus instead of the Jetpack comment system. Apparently I'd need to completely reinstall Wordpress on my domain to get it working again, possibly maybe, so I opted to just go back to what I know works.

My Brother-In-Law's new book, Dissolution of Peace, will be out on October 16th 2012. I've had a chance to read the book (before it was done being edited) and can say with confidence the story is really awesome! It's available on Kindle and Paperback through Amazon so be sure to pick up a copy. He's put a lot of work into making a truly great book. You can pre-order your copy now by clicking the link up there. The link also has a pretty snazzy video for the book. My daughter loves dancing to the music :D

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ps and Qs + Work Appreciation

I've been working with the same company for over four years now and was recently reminded of how I'd gotten started here to begin with. When I first was hired, within the month my boss had to take a two-month leave of absence (he broke his foot really badly). Instead of freaking out that I was all alone and new and all of that, which it didn't even occur to me to do, I kept plodding along doing my job. Where I was able to I would help with my boss's job as well. I remember at one point helping him load cat litter into his car and being happy to help.

Well, my boss took off on a (MUCH DESERVED, the man rarely leaves the office) vacation and will be gone for a few weeks. I've been so concerned over how I'll ever manage without him that I wasn't doing everything I could. Letting fear block you doesn't accomplish much more than the bare necessities! You're lucky if it does, too! Thanks to great friends and remembering how easy it was for me when I first started here I realized it's not a big deal. I've been able to accomplish so much more as a result. Don't get me wrong, it'll be a huge relief when my boss comes back, but I will survive and excel even if he isn't here!

So in bringing up the memories from four years ago I realized something ELSE. I used to E-Mail my boss every time a customer sent a thank-you or "OMG she's awesome!" to me. He'd be happy that the customer was happy and that I wasn't an evil villain (I'm only an evil villain on Tuesdays, and Wednesday is bedtime) or whatever it is overlords feel when they see their minions properly appreciated. I got an E-Mail today from a user who was absolutely happy with the support we provided and made sure we knew. I skimmed over it and moved to check my next E-Mail item when I stopped myself. How many times have I commented or wailed over the stuff customers do that bug me? It's not something I've done my entire employment. "I wasn't always this way," that excuse people throw out to the world, ran through my mind. Well who cares if I was not always this way? The past is the PAST! Who you are NOW is who counts. If I want to be that person again I can start by appreciating people who are thankful for what I do. I can stop lambasting and back-stabbing good-intentioned people who maybe don't know exactly how to say something. If everyone knew how to find their DNS or setup a router as a dummy switch, I wouldn't have a job! Being the person you can look to for the answers is a privilege, an honor, and something jaded people cannot appreciate. So I've scrubbed off my corrosion and am looking toward the future more positively. There are many things I can do and even more that I cannot. I will do what I can and learn what I can so that I will be of more use to those who need it.

My reasons for being in a customer-facing support position are many and varied. There's a personal satisfaction from being of use. There's the exhilaration of following the threads of a puzzle while untangling the knots you encounter. Most importantly though, helping someone because you have the capability makes everyone feel good. The past year I've let myself forget that. It's turned into what I want and what I need and how my job isn't good enough for me. When asking myself the question "well what job would be then?" the answer always made my stomach hurt and I'd avoid it. Usually thinking something like "NOTHING! NOTHING WOULD!" made it hurt worse. If I'd listened to those physical signs I might have seen what I knew all along: this job is perfect for me, and I just forgot. Yes, I do write and draw. Those are my hobbies though, my personal creative outlets. They're how I keep my Personal Deity from frowning at me because I explode over things that don't matter, or explode at all. My Personal Deity isn't too fond of my outbursts of anger and she cringes in horror at the same outbursts in other people. Letting it all out CREATIVELY keeps us both happy with each other. The next time you find yourself in the middle of an argument that you don't really care about but are arguing because you have to be right (which is my biggest flaw, I can't be wrong. Stubborn as a mule here.), instead of responding to the well of rage you feel, try grabbing a pencil and stabbing at paper with it while attempting to doodle. Eventually you'll stop ripping the paper to shreds and something beautiful will emerge. You can stop doodling once you find the beauty in what you've created; until then, munch on popcorn or something.

Ps and Qs are something of a "lost art" in a lot of those from my generation. The children of my gen are very rarely thankful for anything and can't understand why you would say please. From a very young age my son was taught to say please, thank you, and you're welcome. Unfortunately some of the people in his life will do what he asks regardless of his thankfulness, so they wind up getting treated fairly badly by him. He's a very sweet kid but he's still learning how to navigate this world and doesn't yet understand that you don't have to walk on every doormat you see. My own grandparents were never ones to allow me to get away without saying please or thank you. Consequently, I didn't grow up believing they were my minions. Even if you find someone younger absolutely adorable and can't resist giving them everything they want, just remember, you're setting them up to be jerks when they grow up. I'm not trying to give parental advice here. Parents will teach their kids whatever they want. Some parents care about how their children will maneuver through the world as adults, and some don't. Children are growing and learning and should have as much fun as they can. Fun does not preclude etiquette. I don't mean the pinky-in-the-air type, but the basic fundamental words we use between friends and strangers that shows we are civilized people. If it doesn't start with the parents, that doesn't mean you have to be their kids' slave. You yourself can demand the proper words and refuse to provide their request until they have. If the parents get mad at you for it, it's really not your problem. Obviously whoever raised their parents was equally jerk-y.

My point in the Ps and Qs is that who we present ourselves as to other people will affect their responses to us. If we are polite and friendly, it opens the door to reciprocation. Some people might run away because they think you're nuts though. Don't let that get you down! Even if they run away, it changes their view of the world just a bit, and they might not react that way to the next person who does the same. Little by little we can make the circle of people we exist within happier and happier by simply saying "Thank You" when they've done something to help you. We can say "Please" instead of making demands, no matter how innocuous. We can say "You're Welcome" when someone politely says "Thank You" so that they know you've heard them, acknowledged them, and appreciate their thanks. That same holds true for compliments, by the way! I've long responded with uncomfortable body language to people who have complimented me. Shrugging, looking away, talking about something else. A few of my friends will DEMAND that I say "Thank You" and will glare at me until I do. Someday I'll do it without the shrugging and glaring!

So to wrap things up: if you're feeling dissatisfied with your life, take a look at the steps you took to get where you are. What were your reasons? If you feel the steps were out of your control, look back further until you can see where you last made a decision based on your own happiness that started you on the road you're on. Use that as your new starting point and try a different path this time. If you discover you're actually happy with where you are now and only feel periphery things should change, by all means, continue as you are. I've re-learned to find pleasure in the simple things on my path that I've taken for granted for years now. When a simple thank you from someone you've held the door for lights you up inside, you know you're on the right path. Don't let yourself fill with anger if they don't even acknowledge you; just let them know they're welcome anyway (WITHOUT the use of sarcasm). They are most likely actually thankful, but don't know that there are words to express it.

Love your life, Live your life! Mmmm, chocolate!