Peanut Butter and Jelly

Who doesn’t like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? I love them. I have them for lunch many times. Something quick, easy, and filling. Some people like to cut out the bread corners. I cut out the side corners but like the top corner; it is like a door to delight. Sometimes, I eat the end corner; sometimes I do not. Why am I writing about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cutting the corners?

Sometimes, people like to cut corners. They like the quick and easy route. I have found that some people would like to cut corners when it comes to writing or publishing a book. They want to cut corners to enjoy the filling right away. I understand the excitement of publishing your first book; it is like nothing else. People who want to cut corners and jump right away are just excited enough. Sometimes, people expect to know in only one conversation everything that it took me years to learn. If I say something along the lines of “educate yourself on as much as you can about the writing process and publishing business,” it might be misinterpreted as an unwillingness to pass on the information. On the contrary, the intention is of meaning well enough to care. It took me years of research and study on my own to learn as much as I could on the topic before attempting to self publish. I had to make sure that I understood the current trends, technology, as well as to what type of publishing suited my personality, work ethic, and style. I only sent out one query, and as soon as I sent it I knew that I didn’t really wanted to pursue traditional publishing. It was then, after learning some more, that I decided to publish my first novel independently.

It is to the aspiring writer best interest to learn much about the craft, to know herself/himself well enough to know how to choose the best writing path. Industry, genre, writing methods, technology, trends, websites, publishing industry methods … all plays a role in the deciding factor. Many times, writing is approached with money signs in mind – “How much money will I make, and how quickly?” Again, cutting corners. No one can guarantee that you will make money writing. Some writers do well soon enough, while others do not do as well or it takes more than 10 years of hard work to see any financial pay off.

The internet opened a new world as far as writing is concerned. It opened the flood gates and brought opportunity to those who were not able to afford the steep price of self publishing back then. It has allowed me to publish my novels, and accomplish my dream of writing. For that I am grateful. However, when I entered into this beautiful and exciting world I did it with knowledge and sure of what my next step would be, as far as publishing my work. People assume that x amount of books published equals money. That is not necessarily true. They might even change tunes (even with you) when they realize that the bulk of the peanut butter and jelly is at the center of the sandwich. Cutting corners might get one quicker to the center but something will be missing – the knowledge to get there, and keep on going.

I treat writing like any other course of study and post education. Whether you do it on your own or by pursuing a degree from college as many others have done, the important factor is that you obtain the knowledge you need to pursue your writing career clearly. Knowledge is to your advantage always. If in it for the long run, the more prepared you are the better.

Heresy – A Writer’s Trial

Poetry comes to me at odd moments. I wrote this poem  when I opened my eyes Saturday morning. I keep pen and paper next to me for moments like this. Don’t ask, I have no idea.

 

Heresy – A Writer’s Trial

 

Typo, here on the white page

Reader bewitched, writer cursed

The execution begins.

 

Beheaded, hanged, flagellation of the pen,

Blood cleansed, Ink purification.

Punishment, stones casted.

 

Writer’s heresy exposed

Excommunicated from the page

Sins atoned.

 

Book, Bell, and Candle,

Reader’s assembly, Typo exposed

Writer is hanged on the page,

Ink turns to blood.

 

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.

 

The Learning Process Sets You Free

This post is for aspiring writers who want to write but are fighting demons of fear and thoughts of indecision, many times due to dated beliefs. I have met people who are passionate about writing and want to publish their works but will not act on it because they do not feel ready. However, I’ve noticed some misinformation clouding their thoughts and preventing them to act. Some of it has to do with the dated concept of “the self-publishing taboo,” and with the indecision or ambivalence of not knowing which road to take – traditional or self-publishing. It is true that they might not be ready, but only because they are not well-informed. While time goes by, and indecision grows, passion is dormant.

It is true that the publishing industry is undergoing a fast and furious transformation, as we speak. However, it has broken many chains and developed other pathways giving new choices to writers. Despite the turmoil (different in many countries), one thing is for sure – the old model is broken, and change will be continuous from now on.  Aspiring writers who do not embrace learning about the changes and believe only one side of the story may be missing opportunity but only because of lack of information or failure to research and learn. By learning as much as they can about the many venues, pros and cons, writers broaden the picture, and can make a better decision. For some, traditional publishing will be best. Other writers will discover that self-publishing fits more with their personality, work ethics, and writing goals.  It is impossible to discover this if one does not research both industries. Following a crowd (any crowd) while misinformed is not the answer.

Writers who embrace learning do not rush into a decision, but consider all sides and possibilities. When they know the path that best suits them, they embrace it. They have no doubt that they have made the best decision, they don’t regret it, and become free of preconceptions and the damage that misinformation causes.

I want to distinguish between self-publishers and independent authors/publishers. The later group is well-informed, have clear and specific goals, and treat their craft as not only their passion because they approach it with entrepreneurial spirit, and with a long-term vision. This is the case because they did their due diligence well. They know what they want, they know were they are headed, and are happy with their decision – they are free. It is this freedom that lets them deal with the consequences of their decision, despite of whatever the industry is doing at any particular moment.  It is not about the industry anymore; it is about their vision. They are free because the industry does not dictate what their vision must be. They are free to act, to write, to be.

Dichotomy: Learning and Doing

Learning and doing are two different animals as far as I am concerned, that is, when I think about my writing journey.  We all start with that yearning and passion for writing, followed by another desire – publishing our works.  You set sail to learn as much as you can about the craft; and if you are like me, you spend years learning the path.  This is when it gets interesting, at least for me.

I learned much before deciding to publish my novels; however, I have to admit that I did not do as I learned.  Much of what I read was tailored to traditional publishing.  It wasn’t until the last couple of years that self publishing became a more acceptable vehicle for writers.  England still struggles a bit with the concept, for what I have read, not as welcoming as the USA; however, getting better.  When I was thinking about publishing my work, what I was learning seemed to go against my grain; however, I kept learning and informing myself as much as I could – learning the entire process, and writing, until I got to the point that I was ready to decide, I mean, ready to send that first query, that first manuscript, which somehow, did not feel right to me.  So I sent one query, and it wasn’t until I physically did it, that I realized that I did not want to take that path.  At least, now I was going somewhere, although I was glad for the time spent learning.  Soon, I realized that I was yearning for the Indie lifestyle, to self-publish and be there (participant) the entire process, responsible for every bit of it – despite the immense task that it presented.  I realized that I wanted to become an indie author.  I set sails again, learning as much as I could about the process.  In my heart, I knew that it was the path I wanted to take; however, the self-publishing frenzy that was going on, added to the still negative talk about self-publishing, kept me waiting, unable to dive into it.

I learned the process, but I was unable to dive into the vast sea.  I questioned my indecision – it wasn’t until I understood my fear of being branded as an indie, of becoming an abomination, a heretic in the publishing arena, even when I knew that it was the right match for my working style, my ethics, and my personality.  For some reason, the information that I had consumed earlier, had led me to believe that once I became an indie author, there was not going back – the damage was done, permanently.  How had I become to believe such absurd idea?  Understanding where my worry originated made it easy to take the plunge, and so I did.  This year I published Moonlit Valley and Ramblings of the Spirit (book 1 of The Dinorah Chronicles), which are available via Amazon.  By the end of this year I expect to publish The Book of Sharon (book 2 in the chronicles).  Once I decided to become what my heart was telling me, the rest was easy.

I had entered the indie world, lonely at times, however exciting and challenging.  I branded myself as such, and after learning about many indie authors who have gone back to publishing the traditional way (offered contracts) or traditionally published authors who have become indie authors (setting themselves free), I realized that what you learn and what you do sometimes becomes a dichotomy, for whatever reasons. To each, its own.

Now, what about heavy promoting and marketing? The learning continues, and so the doing, which seems to differ, once more.  Although, I will do some promoting and marketing of my novels, I won’t fully dive deep until I feel that I have at least 5-7 novels under my belt.  There is a reason for it, and it does not translate in total disregard of my work or marketing it. Instead, it responds to my desire of building a brand, developing it, and tie everything together.  To me, it seems easier to heavily market your work when there is more of it, exposed, than to do it when there is only a few (1-2) samples out.  It makes sense to me.  I rather use that energy (because believe me, promo/marketing requires tons of work, effort, and commitment) to write more novels, build my brand, so later I can dedicate the right time to it, despite the fact that the information I consume tells me that you have to market your novels before releasing them, but I am talking here about a more in-depth marketing, which will require more of my time and commitment as well as a more detailed business/marketing plan.

I have set a goal of reaching my magic number in the next two and a half years. I will be working hard to reach that number.  In the mean time, the learning, the writing, building a brand, and the creation of a marketing plan continues.  I will blog about this topic in future posts.

English: illustration from Leech's comic latin...

English: illustration from Leech’s comic latin grammar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Excerpt from Moonlit Valley – Take a Peek

Here is a short excerpt from one of the middle chapters – A Message – to give you a little taste.

I heard two sets of footsteps coming upstairs, towards my room. I should have been concerned but I truly didn’t care. I didn’t care if it was human or not. I didn’t care if it was divine or evil. I didn’t care because at that moment, I wanted to be dead. I didn’t want to feel my shredded heart aching, my lungs, depleted of air, my head in a stupor, my skin numbed to any human touch. I felt dead already, my previous existence, gone. I had no fear. Pain was the antidote to any fear.

I won’t tell you what happens next.

Available at Amazon, and Smashwords.

Novel Update Brought to You by a Turtle

Slow as a turtle; this is how I describe the process.  Well, so far I have worked in getting Moonlit Valley ready to publish, and in the meantime, I have been working on small changes and tidying up of Ramblings of the Spirit.  I started writing The Book of Sharon, and can’t wait to have all these pieces that may seem apart now, fall together in harmony.  Self publishing is tons of work, that I can tell you.

I came across this beautiful song and immediately thought of Moonlit Valley – it fits the story perfectly, so I wanted to share it with you.  It is “No Sound But the Wind” by the Editors.  It is an awesome song.  I love their songs.  Here is a video that I found in YouTube from theseboredkids, who did a great job with it.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  In the meantime, I will go back to work 🙂

Writing Candy – Sifting the Husks

Let me start by saying that the path to a writing career requires a certain amount of study and learning, and tons of practice.  I say a certain amount because, writing should be your  primary focus.  Learning and reading other authors will teach you a great deal; however, it is by writing and rewriting that you will learn.  I wish I knew this when I started on this journey, it would have save me some precious time, but no ones knows it all.  With this in mind, from time to time, I try to share with you any blogs or sites that I think would have saved me much time, if I had known of them earlier.  This is in the hopes of saving you some time so you can embrace your writing.  Although everyone learns in different ways and pace, I can tell you that in my case I had to sift between much hay and debris to get to the grain.  For me the learning process was exhausting at times.  This is the reason I get so excited when I come across a blog or website that gives me the feeling of “Wow, I wish I had found you sooner.”  Here are a few that will certainly teach you or inform you in the right direction.

I don’t know how long these sites have been around but I recognize that these are professionals in their craft, and reading them early in your writing journey will help a great deal.  I hope that you enjoy these sites, as much as I do.

Why I Chose to Self-Publish in 2013

The decision to self-publish did not come easy to me, neither did it come after tons of rejections, since I stopped myself from sending queries, after sending one.  I realized that more than anything else, I had to define what I wanted out of my love for writing, before going forward.  I knew that I was not doing it for money (for most writers, there’s none in it), or to become a famous author one day … One thing that I knew for sure was that I loved to write, and it seemed that I could do that forever, if the opportunity to turn that passion into a career path presented itself.   Why choose to self publish without even making a real attempt at publishing a novel by going through the usual channels and motion?  It all came down to Creative Control.

Having control over the entire process, and not having to depend on others to decide how or when the story came out matched my working style, work ethics, and personality.  In addition, I never understood why someone who never gave birth to the story would understand it in a deeper level, enough to change parts of it (I’m not talking here about fixing gaps, and other valuable efforts/work of editors and the traditional industry in general).  I wanted the opportunity to craft the entire project, learn from it, and grow from it and with it.  The decision to self-publish was clear only after I understood that all I wanted was to have creative control if writing was going to be something that I would want to do for the long run, and possibly for the rest of my life.

I was aware that it would be a long, slow and tedious process, tons of work, and an exhausting venture, that is, if I was going to do it the right way, and not in a hurry to publish in digital or in print.  The need for getting published fast was not even an issue, when I considered the facts and information.  However, the need to control the process, the schedule, the dates, the story, the deadlines, the art, the release … and all the other issues that go along with it was what I seem to long for the more  I thought about the issue.

I have read about self-published authors who after selling many of their books successfully, have signed up with a well-known publisher.  I totally understand the need of having people taking care of the small details, sites, emails, and putting together a book … all that is a ton of work, and very difficult to do for one person, especially if that author has become a best-selling author; besides, it robs from the main purpose, which is writing the story, and many more stories to come.  So while creative control is a wonderful concept, it doesn’t come easy, and in an ideal scenario, the best of both worlds would be the “perfect balance,” if there is such a thing.  For now, I am very happy to have found my “balance” for the moment, and that is to have been able to understand and finally, make the decision of releasing my piled up novels in 2013.  In doing so, I go with the confidence and peace of mind that it is the right path for me and the decision has not been rushed by any external factors.

Are you unsure of which path to take with your writing endeavor?  Are you torn between traditional venues and the rapidly evolving self-publishing industry?  Is this the only thing stopping you?  For me, it was, but once I understood what I wanted from my writing, the path became clear.  Ask yourself this question, “What do I want from my writing?”

The Next Logical Step

What is the next logical step?

This is a question that I have learned to ask myself, although I don’t consider myself a “dead logical” person all the time. Yes, from time to time I let my mind dream and soar through illogical paths and fantasize about the not so probable but possible, and the totally illogical. However, when it is time to get serious about making decisions, I listen to my mind, then to my heart, and then ask – What is the next logical step? Most likely, I will find the correct answer; however, turmoil starts when the mind and the heart are pointing to different solutions. Then I must ask again, What is the next logical step, and why? This usually dissolves the turmoil, and an agreement between mind and heart takes place.

In relation to my writing and deciding which route to take on publishing my novels, which have been pilling up waiting for the turmoil between mind and heart, and current reality to dissipate, I have asked myself this question by the end of this year. Part of my reluctance to publish, besides having to decide which venue to take – traditional route (agent) or self-publishing, was that I will be relocating to another state, but the move has been postponed for a while, and that affects the way I would do marketing for a particular area (thinking local of course). So this is what has happened between mind and heart, in respect to this important decision.

MIND – “You should go the traditional route, and find an agent. The self-published stigma is still out there, although things are changing fast and the publishing industry is undergoing a revolution.”

HEART – “You know what you want but won’t admit it; self-publishing is what you long for, and what matches your work ethic and personality very closely.”

MIND – “Once you self-publish, there is no going back; it is done, out there, and cannot be undone. Besides, you will join the chaos, and will end up in the same pile – garbage or not, it is one big messy pile right now.”

HEART – “What if you do? What if you don’t?”

MIND – “Giving the current situation, the change of tide, your likes and dislikes about the whole thing, what is the next logical step?”

HEART AND MIND – “The next logical step is to decide, either way.”

A compromise is agreed between Heart and Mind, and ONE query (only One) is sent. Immediately, Heart and Mind agree on something.

HEART AND MIND – “Oh, I wish I hadn’t sent that query; it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I hope it never gets answered. Oh, I see now.”

Queries are stopped from going out and soon, there seems to be no dilemma, there is no sense in sending a query, that is, when I am not sure that the right path is traditional publishing.  Later on the right path emerges – Self-publishing is the right path for me.  For me, the right way to do it was to come to a halt, to be able to go on.

I am probably one of the few people who has decided to self-publish without sending out queries (well, I sent one), and feels good about it. Therefore, I am planning to publish my novels this year, hopefully with a few months apart in between, date pending and will be announced soon.

If you have reached a crossroads, why not ask yourself, “What is the next logical step?”

Book Progress

This is a short update on my writing progress – it has been a while since my last post about my novels.  Currently, I am working on final revisions for two novels.  I have decided to work on the third novel which is semi-organized in paper and thoughts, and will postpone publishing for now.  There are a few reasons for this, and I rather wait until I straighten some issues.  In addition, my uncertainty about looking for an agent and going indie has cleared up.  I find that the wait helped me understand indie publishing  a bit better, and although not my intention at the beginning (I was thinking about going the traditional route), now I feel that the right path for me is indie publishing.  This path seems to agree much more with my personality, work ethics, and working style.

One thing worries me; there seems to be a self-publishing frenzy going on now, and tons of poor quality work out in print.  In addition, there is the conflict with pricing issues between Amazon and publishing houses, authors and publishing houses, and everyone and their neighbors … It is obvious that this frenzy will subside eventually, and hopefully, the writers looking for a quick buck will dwindle as well, and just as with an ice age, that the writing environment clears up.  These things concern me now and weigh heavy on my decision to self-publish.  Added to issues of a pending move out-of-state, financial, and lifestyle changes, the best path is to wait and keep writing the third novel.

A friend told me that I was risking missing the boat by waiting but I disagree.  I don’t think anybody’s boat goes missing just because one decides to wait until the time that it feels right (and that is a personal issue and different for everyone).  However, I happen to agree with chasing opportunity when it knocks and if you feel ready for the chase.  Many times, “just jump now” works; other times, you may find that the abyss could have been avoided if you just waited until your foot was touching ground.

How do you feel about the self-publishing frenzy going on now or about self-publishing in general?  Feel free to share your experience in the comment section.