Thursday, December 24

Eden is released!

After years and years of working on and off, I am calling the First Edition of "Eden" complete!

You can find more information at my website and Lulu store.
http://eden.hauntedstudio.net
http://stores.lulu.com/theghost

Vampires, werewolves, and . . . zombies?! Oh my! (Actually, the whole zombie thing doesn't happen until later in the series.)

To give a little background on the book, there is no romantic thing going on between a human or vampire (or werewolf). The story is more about a sheltered daughter and her overprotective father. If you are looking for something similar to "Twilight," this book will disappoint you. If you are looking for something similar to "Underworld," this book will disappoint you. If you are looking for anything that has been done to death . . . hell, this is a vampire story, hasn't everything in this genre been done to death? Uh, that was a rhetorical question.

As I have said before, writing about vampires isn't a new thing to me, but sharing my story(s) with others . . . Needless to say, it feels a little personal, as though I am allowing others to read a private journal of mine. I have been a vampire fan myself ever since my mother let me watch the 1979 Dracula movie when I was four years old. It was all downhill from there. Little did she know what she created that night. :)

I love horror. I love the three "G"s: Gruesome, gory, and grotesque. And throughout all of this, gingerbread men give me the creeps. Except for Gingy from "Shrek." He's pretty cool.

If you don't already know, you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter, as well.
http://www.facebook.com/#/pages/Devin-Blake/189849534330
http://twitter.com/JulieDevin


*poof*

Friday, December 4

Moving ahead.

I'm looking at publishing EDEN through Lulu and CreateSpace (as well as Kindle). The editing is pretty much complete. Anymore and I may rip my hair out. So if there are any typos, they'll have to stay. The perfectionist side of me is screaming right now, but I need to do this. Nothing is perfect, and to dwell on perfection will leave me with the notion, "If it can't be perfect, then I won't release it!"

I need to be more confident in myself. I need to not fear bad reviews. Heck, even the most well-known and popular authors have their share of bad reviews. I have to remember that they are their opinions, and like butts, everyone has one.

The final page count is 628. I haven't received the proof with the new layout, but I'm hoping it will look all right. *crosses fingers*

Monday, November 30

Eden's release date!

Though I don't have a set date at the moment, I plan to release EDEN before 2010. I won't be writing much in the upcoming months. I need to take a break from the grueling world of prose and focus more on art.

http://haloghost.wordpress.com

I plan to be posting there regularly as I begin the ground work to my FOUR CORNERS Artbook.

The National Novel Writing Month didn't go so well this time. I think I burned myself out with a year of solid writing. I did end up with a word count of 27,862.


*poof*

Sunday, August 30

Labor of Love.


(Somewhat cross-posted from my LiveJournal.)

I finished the first draft of EDEN on August 28th. I began working on this story back in 2002 (outlines and such), but didn't officially start writing until 2004 (for the National Novel Writing Month).

Here's the breakdown:

3 Parts
91 Chapters
221,820 Words
Rated R for all of the blood 'n guts fun! :D

In MS Word, with Palatino Linotype at 12 pt, the page count is 576. In my current InDesign template for the book, the page count stands at 695. @_@ I have some serious tinkering to do with fonts, spacing, leading, and all that jazz. I expect the page count to change (hopefully drop). I'm going with Minion Pro for my body text, and I spent a good chunk of time designing my own ellipse. I was hoping to find a better/easier way to do that. Yeah, those ellipses I see in other books are nothing like the standard one I see in Word. And Justified and line breaks don't like *period*
space*period**space*period*. But I now have a nice, well-spaced ellipse, fashioned after the Minion Pro font.

So the madness of editing has now begun. I've learned in the past that I can't be too over-critical of my work. I need to read it as though I didn't write it. If not, I'll be pulling my hair out by Chapter 4. September has become DeEdMo (Devin's Editing Month). Hehehe, deedmo. I have the book broken down and printed out in three binders. I'm hoping that things will go smoothly. I would LOVE to have a beta reader, but I don't want to bother anyone with a book they won't like. *sigh*

Everyone around me has been trying to talk me into making this book three books, instead of one book with three parts. I try to tell them why it can't be broken up like that. But their usual response is, "Tolkien wanted his Lord of the Rings trilogy to be one book, but was talked out of it by his publisher." It's true that I planned for EDEN to two books, but this all changed while I was writing. These three parts, in my eyes, aren't enough to stand alone as individual books. Or I can turn this around an look at it differently; buy one book, get two free, and all are neatly bound for your convenience!

When I finally publish this one, instead of having a two chapter excerpt, I plan to post the first part. That's 34 chapters for free! However, if you want to read more... >:)

I've spent too much time writing this rambling mess. Time to go do something productive.

*poof*

Thursday, June 4

The Art of Style

Last night I was cruising the internet (a result of severe procrastination) and was looking for something to jump start my writing gears. I stumbled upon a book that apparently every writer should read. I didn’t know it was a prerequisite to writing, yet everywhere I looked, people have been singing its praises. So I looked up The Elements Of Style. It is a nice reference book for grammar, and even gives advice on what to avoid when writing. I now know that I have an issue with adverbs. That's right, I abuse adverbs. Example: "She mindlessly wrote on the paper." Change to; "She wrote on the paper, her mind void of all thought." I know, terrible example. But this brings me to my subject here: The Art of Style.

It's all about personal taste. In my previous entry, I mentioned an incident with a co-worker of mine. While I was hurt at what he said about my writing, he was being honest. He thought it needed work because it wasn't how he would write it.


I've been a fan of anime since I was fifteen (Japanese animation, for those who don't know). This was back before the popularity it has now. And when I began drawing in that style, I got plenty of "Why draw like that? It's not your own style." But what was hard for me to tell them was the different styles within the world of anime and manga. All they saw were the large eyes, pointy noses, and wild hair. Any anime/manga fan knows the difference between CLAMP, Masamune Shirow, Kouta Hirano, KĊsuke Fujishima, Hayao Miyazaki, and Akira Toriyama. But from the outside looking in, it all looks the same to those unfamiliar. This is why I get frustrated when people compare authors, saying that one author's style of writing is better than another's.

Would this be acceptable in the world of art? The beauty of art is its diversity. I can honestly say that I'm not a fan of Salvador Dali. His work creeps me out. I respect him as an artist, but his work is something that doesn't appeal to me. This doesn't mean I will create an online community devoted to bashing his works. And yet this happens to authors all the time it seems. I can understand when someone doesn't like a book, but with the power of the internet, all of these people can get together and talk about why they dislike the book and turn the author into a villain. This isn't the book clubs I remember. These people can be vicious, even targeting fans of the book(s). I see this happening with Stephenie Meyer. It seems that the more popular a book becomes, the more people line up to voice their hate. I will say right now that I'm not a fan of TWILIGHT. I have loved vampires since I was a child, but I had no interest in this story. Her style of writing and plot weren't for me. Even though I disliked her take on vampires, she took something common and made it her own...sparkles and all. I can also respect the fact that she wrote this for herself first and foremost. It's time to let sleeping dogs lie. We all see things differently. There's no need to scream it from the mountain tops or online.

But it is easier to look at a piece of artwork, voice your opinion, and move on to the next piece. Perhaps it is because books have more to say that send people to passionately voice their opinions.

"My main goal is to entertain myself." If I can have fun being a storyteller to myself, then my job is done. But if others are entertained as well, I will gladly welcome them with open arms. It is all about the story and the characters to me. The style of the writing is merely the tracks on which this train will glide across.

I have told this to many people in the past: I feel like a storyteller pretending to be a writer. I have never seen a defining line that separated me as a daydreamer and an author. The stories I write are more like ongoing daydreams. *laughs* My books are my daydream journals.

As the saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words." It's all about finding the right words, I guess. And if the situation calls for it, less is more.

Throughout my procrastination attack last night, I stumbled upon another book. This one was by Stephen King. He talks about his life experiences and even the method to his madness. Again, the whole abusing adverbs thing was talked about. Okay, I get it. Words ending with "ly" are bad. But they do have their place in writing. I promise to use them sparingly from now on. And that's another point I was hoping to make. Styles are a living thing. They change as the author writes or as the artist paints. I can already look back at FC1 and see how much my writing has changed. Though I'm tempted to "update" my style in the book, I need to focus on my future stories. I need to grow and not dwell on the past.

Time to get inspired. Time to start writing. Time to create. Time to look at things differently.

Wednesday, May 27

My Biggest Fear

I have always suffered from a fear of criticism. If someone says anything negative about something I have created, I tend to take it personally. I'm left feeling crushed. I don't have a thick skin. So when I recieved the email from Lulu saying that they have added my book (FC1) to Amazon.com, I was struck with the biggest wave of dread I have ever known. Amazon?! With reviews?! No. Not me. I've read the many negative reviews people leave on books that I like. These people can be ruthless. That's one reason why I have the reviews disabled on my books listed at Lulu. Ignorance is bliss.

Several years back, I was sitting at an outdoor table during my break at work, editing my book. A co-worker happened to be on his break, as well, and looked over my shoulder. I've known him to take an interest in writing, but this guy had a strong arrogance about him that rubbed me the wrong way since day one. I want to say that he had a superiority complex. In his mind, he could do no wrong. As he skimmed over the page I was editing, he remarked, "Good, but needs work." My stomach sank. Needs work?! The nerve of him! He has no idea how many times I've gone over this! The rest of the day, I wondered how good he was at writing. Eventually, he sent me a piece of fan fiction he was writing. Wow. And he thought my stuff needed work? Three paragraphs in, my mind had no idea what was going on. Too much description, so little personality, and no pacing at all. He asked what I thought about it. I replied, "It's a nice start." This incident has stuck with me all of these years. Looking back at it now, I can see where his remark came from. We have two different styles. I don't write the way he writes, or how he thinks it should be written. It's almost like watching a movie and wishing for different cinematography. This is why I always love to say, "It is easier to criticize than create."

Now that Lulu is selling my book on Amazon.com, I have re-added the book in Kindle form. I know what I said in a previous post of mine. But it's time to stop letting my fear control me. I hate being afraid. When I found out about the Amazon posting, I told my mom and stepdad about my fear, and my stepdad actually (playfully) said, "If you take it down, I will slap you! I have never seen someone who thinks so negatively about themselves." I try to be positive, but I have no confidence in myself to think like that.

In fear of any negative reviews, I have forbidden myself to look at my book on Amazon.com. My inferiority complex demands it.

Ignorance is bliss.

Thursday, May 21

Method to My Madness

I have this problem. Every time I go to the store, I have to buy a notebook. Not just any notebook, but a nice 5 subject, college ruled notebook. Five Star, Omni, Exceed, and No Boundaries are my top favorites. I think it’s an addiction. If I leave the store without one, I get this nagging feeling in the back of my mind.


Why do I love notebooks? They are the tools of my method. Growing up, I had oodles of stories I began but never finished. If an idea came to me, I sat down and wrote everything as though I was reading a book. These early attempts of mine always ended in failure. Then an idea blossomed forth. Rather than writing a book, I began outlining. As long as I kept the ideas flowing, the longer my interest in the story lasted. So now every time I see a fresh notebook, my skin tingles with the story possibilities and the journey that may follow. Perhaps that is why I feel the need to buy a notebook each time I go to the store. Leaving without one is like turning my back on the possibilities.


I also love buying three-ring binders. These simple guys contain my freshly printed chapters. I look at each completed chapter like a miniature goal. It’s an odd way to look at writing, but the method keeps me focused on my current project. The four binders you see are my current manuscripts. From top to bottom: Four Corners: Masquerade, Four Corners: Forever, Four Corners: Legend, and Eden. The top three are finished works, while the bottom contains only the first two parts of Eden. I’m afraid that Eden will be over the 740 page cutoff for the 6” x 9” book at Lulu. But that’s with the current template I made for my first two published books. I may have to rework things. *sigh* But InDesign to me is like a fine sable hair brush to an inker. I don’t think I could’ve survived the layout process with Microsoft Word. I may not be a professional by any means, but I love to pretend.


I’ll end this post with a pic of my desk.















*poof*

Tuesday, May 19

P-Day!

Yes, it is P-Day! The publishing day for my second book FOUR CORNERS: FOREVER. Such a long, hard road, but the day is finally here. However, unlike my first book, I didn't have a beta reader this time around. The two beta readers I had lined up bailed on me at the last minute. Such is the downfall of a busy life. So instead of pushing back the release date, I'm throwing caution to the wind and embracing the imperfection side.

I am a perfectionist. There, I said it. And one of my self-treatments is to allow imperfections in my life. It's to show more of a human side, though others may see it as laziness. But I've learned the hard way not to dwell on a project for too long.

Back in August 2000, I began writing FOUR CORNERS and posting the completed chapters online. It was the start of a very long journey. On March 9, 2004, I made the painful decision to remove my stories from the internet in hopes to one day see them in print. Thus began the next leg of my journey.

After searching for any and all information on how to get published, I knew I had one option: traditional publishing. You see, there's a stigma out there. Most people view self-publishing as vanity publishing. Vanity publishing is different from what I'm doing. I'm not paying to have my book published. I made the mistake in the past to contact Xlibris. Now they won't leave me alone even after I told them I was no longer interested. A vanity press will publish anything as long as the author pays for it. They're goal is to market to the author and not the public who would buy the books. On the flip side to this coin, you have self-publishing. Everything, right down to the size and type of font, is a decision of the author. The downside is that the author must promote their own works.

In my early searching, I looked down on self-publishing, grouping it together with vanity publishing. This oversight locked my eyes onto the cutthroat world of traditional publishing. It's a ruthless beast. I had two options at this point, look for publishers willing to take a look at an unpublished author or seek out an agent. I chose the first option. And my target? Mundania Press LLC. I took my time and did everything by the book. I wanted to look as professional as possible. I wanted them to see that I knew what I was doing. So I sent them my submission and was told to wait 120 (or longer) for a reply. I waited...and waited. Many months later I sent them a inquiry about my submission. Within the week, I received the dreaded "We regret to inform you..." blah, blah, blah.

Then I took a step back. The chances of me landing a publishing contract without an agent would be like winning the lottery. As I stood thus far, I wasn't a very lucky person. Okay, time to get an agent, right? With my new plan, I happily skipped off to the nearest bookstore to buy the "Guide to Literary Agents." I scoured the book, looking over the slew of advice. I even settled on the first agent I wanted to send my query letter to. Once again, I made everything as professional as possible. Ah, yes, the Writer's House. If I wanted to aim high, I wanted it to be the highest in the publishing land. I didn't want to think about rejection, but I kept it in the back of my mind, something to cushion the blow when I received the rejection letter. Again, I waited. Perhaps I would be one of the lucky ones this time. The SASE returned with a letter--the letter I knew I would see, "I am unable to off you representation..." At least it wasn't a copy and paste email. I now have a nice rejection letter to save for years to come.

You would think that two rejections would be a nice start to a long journey. But I didn't want to sit around and send off letter after letter, in hopes of one day winning the lottery. No. If I want to see my dreams happen, I will be the one in the driver's seat, and not some company/agency who will take my labor of love and do with it as they please. I even feared what my book would look like if it were printed. Would I like the cover? Would they force me to edit out things? Would they allow my work to be bastardized into some cheesy movie that will one day appear on the SciFi Channel? Gah! Make it stop! But there was a way to see everything how I envisioned it. Self-publishing.


All right! My journey takes a strange turn. I began looking at self-publishing with a different set of eyes. I could have my cake, decorate it how I wanted, and even eat it too. Wow! Why didn't I do this before? However, I still see the stigma. It looks like I gave up on traditional publishing, which actually I have, but I see this as a more "organic" part of the creation process. It's like creating a quilt by hand. Sure, there maybe flaws in the finished product, but there's a warmth to it that no factory-made quilt can match. It is that personal touch; the brush strokes on a painting, the thumb print on a sculpture, and the fact someone poured their time and love into this project. It is all them. This is all me.




Now it's time to promote my latest publishing venture. As of now, FOUR CORNERS: FOREVER (FC2) is available for purchase. Remember, this is Book Two in the series. If you haven't read the first book, things won't make much sense in this one, though I try to fill in a little of the back story.

http://stores.lulu.com/theghost


The first draft of FC3 is finished, and will be published sometime next year. Why the long wait? I'm currently working on another series at the moment. I don't have a name for this series yet. I'm still hesitant to call it the "Eden Series," but I find myself saying it anyway. The website has been up for a while now, though not much has changed. This series is a little more personal to me, and that's the main reason I've been debating on whether or not to publish it at all.


http://hauntedstudio.net/eden


I have been working on this series for as long as I've fiddled around with FOUR CORNERS. But the time has come to focus all of my attention on this project. The first book will (hopefully) be released this October. I foresee a summer filled with mind-numbing editing.


I am first and foremost a fan of horror. Even my fantasy writings have a tinge of the horror element. EDEN will not be a young adult novel. (And even though FOUR CORNERS may seem like a YA series as well, it is not.) I write for myself. I want to entertain myself. And if I can entertain others, that will be a happy and welcome side-effect.


EDEN kicks off a series filled with werewolves, vampires, necromancers, and of course, zombies--everything I have loved since childhood. Yes, I was a strange child. This series has been

years in the making. I'm not the type of writer to dream up an idea and churn out a book within months, then move onto the next project. I like my ideas to sit and meld into a nice stew. I want to get all the wrinkles out of my quilt before I allow others to snuggle into it.


I did venture into the world of Amazon's Kindle once. But in fear of bad reviews, I have taken down my work. I know, I know, bad reviews come with the territory. But I have a thin skin. I take everything personally. If someone says something bad about my work, I'll be crushed. Writing is a personal love of mine, and allowing others to read my writings...it makes me nervous as hell. It’s like putting your heart and soul into a beautiful painting, and then having to brave those unforgiving art critics. But writing is a little bit different. Much more time and effort goes into the final manuscript, time an artist can spend painting a dozen masterpieces or more. And this is why I’m always hesitant when allowing others to read my work.


Art is in the eye of the beholder.
A great story is in the heart of the writer.



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(To battle my perfectionist side, I refuse to correct the typos or grammar mistakes in this post.)

Tuesday, April 7

Meow, meow.

Yo! Just another blog of mine. I plan to focus this one on my writing.