Editorial Assistance

Title? lolwut

I had a weird dream/nightmare last night. Half of it took place in my room, and the other half took place on a boat. See, I don't like boats and, at least to my knowledge, nor does anyone in my family. I can't swim all too well, and the idea of being surrounded by loads of water scares me for the same reason that being surrounded by the sky does (yknow, airplanes) - the uncertainty, the knowledge that everything surrounding me is huge enough to swallow me whole.

I don't really remember the half that took place in my room, 'cept that half was less interesting than the water half anyway and was probably just about the problems I'm having with my family. In the water half of the dream, I had a cousin who lived on a boat and all my family was there for...some reason. There was a window on the boat where, if you looked from a certain angle, the clouds would spiral open and reveal the kingdom of heaven. When approaching the window, the image of heaven would shift into a mass of destroyed boats covered with dead bodies.

I...don't know what that's about. Maybe the boat is like that boat/yacht from Triangle and trying to approach heaven from ze magical boat is a fool's errand?

Nearing the end of the dream, I separated from the family to write and read. This is something I often do at family events. I just can't help it. Like my nightmare was scripted by a bunch of horror writers, me separating from everyone trapped me in an area where the only way I could escape was jumping into all that damn water. I turned back. No door. No walls. I was on a raft, and all I could do was jump.

So I sissied out and woke up in a deep sweat instead.

This dream probably means that I'm holding back and I need to learn how to jump into the unknown or some shit like that. Or maybe I just need to learn how to swim? Ah, probably.

Now that I'm done sharing that dream (I just had to. That image of the clouds spiraling apart to reveal a bright image of heaven was just...wow, beautiful. I can't get it out of my mind, and I'm not even religous, though I'm not an atheist either. It's like that time me and Matthew were lying on his floor after wrestling and the light from his window shined on his face at just the right moment to make him glow. Jeez, I was mesmerized like a total spazz), it's time to talk about other things. Like, more professional things. Let me switch back to my professional voice and get out of this foul-mouthed vernacular that I hide for...whatever reason.

I am going to self-publish a how-to guide on marketing for writers. It won't be the absolute everything guide on marketing. Instead, it'll be a guide of al the things I've learned and tried over the years. I realized I had a lot to say about marketing and promotion when I wrote 'Market Your Book Without Emptying Your Bank Account' for Rhemalda's blog.

Now, I know I said I was publishing a workbook for writers, a checklist of sorts, on my 'Support Honest Crits' page. After summarizing the marketing book and the workbook, I realized that the workbook would take me muuuuuch longer to write and research than the marketing book, and I want the book published in 3 months. The sales from this book will go to the business and my education, but I only have five months to at least figure out how I'll get the semester out of the way.

Here I am, switching gears again. Have you heard of that Lucky 7 meme? Well, here are the rules:

The Lucky 7 Meme Rules• Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
• Go to line 7
• Copy down the next 7 lines--sentences or paragraphs--and post them as they're written. No cheating.

Because my story is separated by chapter numbers and not in one full document, I don't know what page 77 is. Instead of going to page 77, I went to chapter 7 of Savior of the Damned's 4th edit. Here are the next 7 lines after line 7.:

The blinding white light at the top was always out of reach. The steps were disintegrating faster than I could run. If someone didn't acknowledge my screams for help, I would fall.

My mom, almost angelic in image, appeared in the doorway. I grabbed tight hold of her hand. Afterward, the basement became a replica of hell, with fire everywhere and monster hands dancing around a colossal hand with a mouth instead of an eye.

"Mom, you can help me up now."

"Shut up you demon spawn."

And here it is from the original draft, the one I wrote when I was a freshman in high school:

When I first met him he gave the impression of being a very talkative person, but, then again, second expressions are seldom exactly like the first.

Augustine’s footsteps stopped, and mines stopped shortly after his. We were now at the door to the house. My mind was still blank. I found I couldn’t make myself think. Why couldn’t I make myself think about anything? It was just...fog.

Augustine began to talk. “Levi Haze, if you’re eating then”—

“I am not,” he interrupted. “You know I’m not. Now bring her in already. I already told you how important this was.”

If you made it all the way to the end of this loooong past, here's a congratulations for you. This video just cracks me up. Here's the explanation, explained courtesy of good old TV Tropes:

And here's a song I really like.

College and Taking the Business to the Next Level

February 2012 - the most active month for Honest Crits/Reader's Den
A couple of days ago, I finished reading a great book for writers and small business owners called "Business Tips and Taxes for Writers." The section on record keeping talked about spreadsheets and the importance of consistently recording a business's finances. At first, I was a bit bleh about this method of record keeping. I'd never used a spreadsheet before.

But, when I stayed up until 2 AM recording my income and expenses for Honest Crits, I learned that I loved spreadsheets and seeing exactly where the money from and for Honest Crits/Reader's Den goes. As of lately, most of the money has been going to my office and research, and more people pay for the Promotion Plan than anything else. Of course, this all makes sense. My business is not at a point where I'm actually making any profit. The money I make from the business goes to the business. Pretty soon, though, the money I make from the business will go toward college as well.

I have five months to figure out how I'm supposed to pay for college. All four years is about 28,000, so one year is roughly 7k. I already have 800 (which is really only enough money to pay for one class and a half -_-). When I went to IUB for the summer and the first semester, I worked my ass off and did almost 2 scholarships a week for months. I won enough money to pay off the first year and parts of the other 4 years. Because of a scholarship mix-up, I still ended up having to take out a $2500 loan to pay off the first year. Already, I have loan money that is building interest.

So this is the plan that I've come up with to help pay for college: Sure, little-by-little, I'm making more money with my business. But I could be making more. I need to change my editing prices; I need to better promote my websites so that I can offer advertising; I need to enter into more writing contests and freelance for paying markets; I want to self-publish a helpful book for writers; I want to make a donation page.

It'll be stressful, I know, but the best way to push myself is to push myself. If I tell myself that the money I make with my business will help pay for college, at least the first year and a half, then I'll have even more incentive to work harder. Whatever doesn't get paid for with business or scholarship money will have to be paid for with loans (ick). Because I have to spend these next five months working specifically on Honest Crits and Reader's Den (when college starts, most of my Honest Crits services won't be open. I don't want to make college even harder on myself), I'm officially taking a break from working on my novels.

So, what'll I be doing in college? I plan on getting a Bachelor of Arts in Human Resources and minoring in English: Writing. A B.A. is perfect for me. There's not much math and science, and getting into the business school at Purdue University Calumet is nowhere near as hardcore as getting into the business school at Indiana University Bloomington. If you fit the qualifications, you get in.

Yep, that's all.

The Snowflake Method, Info Overload and Consistency

Okay, so the Snowflake Method isn't new. I first learned about it about six or seven years ago, when I was big on writing high fantasy and found the idea of planning a whole story and world very overwhelming (I found it overwhelming in the seventh grade and I still find it overwhelming as a freshman in college, which is why I've put all my high fantasy stories in a dusty box in the back of my closet).

I still remember preteen me sitting on the floor, filling page-after-page of my flimsy notebook with notes on the plot and characterization. I actually finished all of the steps. Unfortunately, preteen me abandoned that story when she realized she loved horror and wanted to delve into stories about the supernatural world.

Still, I never forgot about the Snowflake Method. It was a lot of fun to do and very insightful. Now, years later, young adult me is using it again - this time for a story I've already written and rewritten about five times (Savior of the Damned) and a brand new story I haven't started on yet (Dream Catcher). The snowflake method is helpful for both stories you've already written and stories you plan to write.

For instance, I really struggled with Step 2 of the method for Savior of the Damned. I realized the middle of my story didn't really have a defined act, a second major disaster. And, while it's okay that not all stories follow the three-act structure, I realized adding a major disaster in the middle - emotional disasters, as of now - would only enhance the plot overall. Had I not done the Snowflake Method just because I've already finished SotD, I may have never come to that conclusion.

Plus, me and the boyfriend brainstormed a wonderful one-sentence series summary and first book summary.

Series Summary: The Savior of the Damned leads supernatural creatures in a war against an all-powerful demon.

Book One Summary: An ex-drug addict travels within her mind to clear inner demons and become a goddess.

Now, about this info overload and consistency stuff. For me, they go hand-in-hand. When the year started, I made a big deal about unsubscribing to a bunch of newsletters and blogs. So I did. And, three months in, I've started subscribing to stuff again. People, this is a problem. I think I'm an info junkie. And I think there's a thin line between an info junkie and a procrastinator.

What doesn't help matters is that, instead of checking my e-mails once a week, I've instead decided to check 25 e-mails a day. 25 e-mails when each of those 25 e-mails are FULL of 5+ articles on writing, blogging, marketing, and editing is way too much info for everyday, definitely when you consider I'm also reading many more articles and blogs outside of my e-mails.

There's a such thing as trying to cram too much knowledge into your mind. It's overwhelming. Writing after reading all of those articles is much more stressful because all the things I've just learned are fresh on my mind, bothering me while I'm in the middle of writing a sentence. Then consistency is ruined. I find myself constantly wanting to keep up with these articles and posts, but there's just too many.

Because I'm a coach and an editor, it's great that I keep tabs on the writing world, but there needs to be a limit for both the sake of my sanity and my productivity. So I think I'll need to go back to checking e-mails once a week or once every two weeks.

Now I leave you with the first episode of Charlie the Unicorn and the song playing on my playlist as of now.

College and Chapter Outlines

Last summer, I lived in a dorm in Indiana University Bloomington, took classes, and went to a number of meetings courtesy of the scholarship I'd gotten. It wasn't easy, that's for certain, but I knew it wouldn't be easy from the get-go. Three things in particular made it especially hard for me.

1.) Before this, I'd never been so far from home, let alone for such a long amount of  time. I didn't want to admit it, maybe because I like to see myself as an independent individual very capable of doing well enough on my own with the right resources, but I was severely homesick - not just from my home, but from my environment. I've spent most of my life in Hammond, Blue Island, and Chicago. Bloomington had very little in common with the places I grew up in.

2.) Before this, I'd never been in love (at least not real love) and had no idea how much being a part from the first person I've ever loved would hurt. This is also another thing I didn't want to admit to myself, namely because doing so would make me feel as though I were too attached. But hell, I missed him a lot.

3.) I discovered that I sucked at math. When I say sucked, I really mean sucked. I failed the placement test so bad that I ended up in the lowest math class they could put a person in. For the most part, I base my life around intelligence and determination. However, here was something I wasn't smart enough at no matter how hard I tried, and the more I tried and failed, the more defeated I felt.

Suddenly, everything I held close to me - love, environment, and intelligence - seemed out of my grasp. Coupled with financial issues, college became hell for me. I developed a fear of it. I wanted out. And, after one hell of a semester where I struggled with depression, I finally did get out. I unenrolled, came on back home, and decided to take a break from college.

Honestly, I didn't know how long this break would last. Part of me had plans to never go back again. The other part of me did want to go back. Guess what? Finally, after many nightmares about college where I realized I actually felt guilty - like I was letting myself down - and a good conversation with my dad about college, the latter part of me won out.

I'm going back. Fall 2012, I'll be going to Purdue Calumet to hopefully get a B.A. in something business related and minor in English. I feel incredibly stupid for not taking this route in the first place. My dad tried his hardest to make it clear to me that going to Purdue, a college in walking distance from my house, would be best financially and mentally. For some reason, I saw that as him not supporting me. Plus I really wanted to get out of the house.

Sometimes, though, you have to learn something the hard way.

This is my chapter outlinem Messy, yes. ^_^
Speaking of learning something the hard way...I've discovered that I can not write a chapter of a story unless I outline the chapter first.

My chapter outline (or the picture to the right) follows the same formula each chapter and every story. Basically, I put the title of the the chapter, a T-chart with the characters and setting, vague summaries of the important things that need to happen in the chapter, and then an in-depth summary of the important points. These in-depth summaries have all the dialogue, all the descriptions, and all the things that need to happen in the chapter. They're so in-depth that these often take me a day or two to write and 5+ pages.

The best part about this system is that once I sit down to write the chapter, everything comes together. I'm excited to get everything I sloppily wrote down in the outline into proper story form.

For some reason, when I finished the 6th draft of Savior of the Damned, I stopped doing chapter outlines. Instead, I sat down in front of a blank piece of notebook paper like I could really just...poof out a chapter from nothingness. My boyfriend can do it, many other writers can do it, and even I could do it back in middle school and high school, but I can't do it now.

And this plays a part in why, even when I do spend an hour or two on writing, I *maybe* complete a page. I don't like not knowing where the hell I'm going. For me, it leaves too much room for me to second guess myself. As thus, I'm returning back to the system of chapter outlines because that would be, I don't know, the smart choice. -_-

On another note, the first vid is something I find amusing while the second vid is my most recent favorite song: