Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Top 5 Tips for Completing NaNoWriMo Successfully

Hey you there? Aren't you supposed to be writing your novel for NaNoWriMo? I know I am. I guess we're both busted. Well, since you're here we should just go ahead and discuss some ways to help you finish your goals by the end of the month. The first 10 days, scratch that, 11 days of NaNoWriMo have been quite the eye opener for me. Now I am not new to writing, but trying to complete 50,000 words in 30 days is certainly a lot harder than I had anticipated, especially when this little annoying thing we call "life" gets in the way. So, here are 5 of my best tips or maybe I should just call them what they are: the problems I have had thus far. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes.

Tip #1- Clean your house before you start writing- or leave.

When I am working at home, one of my biggest pet peeves is the mess. I always feel like I need to do the dishes, finish the laundry, sweep the floors, organize toys, etc. before I can sit down and write. Now that procrastination tactic might work on a normal schedule but you have 1600+ words to write today, do you really have time to worry about those other things? I promise you they will still be there December 1, but if you don't meet your goals where will your self-esteem be? That's right, in the pooper. So, if you didn't or didn't know to clean your house before you started your NaNoWriMo writing, then my best suggestion is to leave. I know its cliché to write at a coffeehouse, so go to the library or park or your mom's house or if you're into it: a bar. Just go somewhere that you can avoid being a responsible adult for a few hours until you meet your word count. Who is going to remember the date and time you finished all the laundry for the week? No one, but you will remember the date and time you finished your first book. Keep that in mind when you are tempted to start scrubbing the floors.

Tip #2- Disconnect or put away your computer.

I know this is going to sound a little crazy, but get rid of the computer if you are procrastinating. If you must type then disconnect the internet. It is so easy to troll away on Facebook or BuzzFeed and you can kill 3 hours, well faster than it seems on these sites. If you can't keep your eyes away from your friend's status updates or tweets then it is time to break out the old fashioned paper and pen. I have been using a legal pad and pen all week and I have been much more productive, albeit not perfect, but better than usual because I don't have all the interesting cat pictures and YouTube videos to catch up on. Plus I kind feel like it is easier because I don't have to self edit when the little red or green squiggles pop up while I'm typing. I can just get my ideas out and then when I go back to type it in I can make the adjustments without ever breaking my writing flow. If you are having trouble try handwriting it, and if it feels strange just imagine you are channeling Emily Bronte or Nathaniel Hawthorne. Typing is new, writing is not. Keep that in mind too.

Tip #3 Plan what you are going to write.

If you do not have an updated outline or synopsis, please take the time to write one now. I promise it will save you time in the future when you run out of steam or write yourself into a corner. Now since I had an outline that I have been working from, you'd think, I would be alright. But alas, no. I was working from an old outline when this week I realized I could no longer use it. I spent an entire day reworking my outline and making adjustments so it would be much easier for me to follow daily. This will also help eliminate some writer's block if you know what needs accomplished each day. Had I done this prior to the start of NaNoWriMo, I may not have had to jump my word count from 1600 to 2000 words per day. However, if I, the self proclaimed queen of procrastination, can do it, so can you. It is not too late. Don't give up just yet!

Tip #4 Make a writing schedule.

So, this seems like a no brainer and it may be to some of you that have regular weekly schedules. However, I do not. I am every bit as random in my daily life as I am here on this blog. So, I tend to get caught up in things that prevent me from writing when I expected to be writing. To solve this problem, I had to consult my schedule and set aside a time (3 hours) for me to write. Some days this is early morning, others mid day, some evenings and lastly some days, all day. This may not be practical for you, so if you work a normal 9-5 work day you need to choose time in the morning or evening to work or even a little of both. And most importantly stick to it! See Tip #1 and #3 if you are having trouble with procrastination.

Tip #5 Create a face that will scare away anyone that tries to distract you while you are writing.

I am dead serious about this too. You should discuss with your family, friends and roommates that you are working and they need to leave you alone during your designated times (see tip #4). If they do not proceed to scare them with a Jenna Marbles face so they know you mean business. This face will also work for annoying baristas, small children in the library, or a creepy guy trying to hit on you. This is important because distractions are going to keep you from completing your novel. Keeping them to a minimum is a must. So, unless there is a fire, projectile vomiting or bone sticking through skin, it is not worth it. Use the face. Source: Jenna Marbles Scare Face Video

So, there are my tips. Where are you on your word count today? I am way behind, I only have about 3800 words. Yeah. I'm gonna go.

See ya later,


-Jami Lynn

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fall Book Haul

hint: if you don't like zombies get out
Did you see what I did there? Eh? Ha. I'm hilarious. Anyway, I love books. If you didn't know that or at least assume, then you obviously haven't been here long. Even though it is NaNoWriMo and I should just be focusing on writing, sometimes I need a little inspiration. Or when using brain function is no longer an option, as that appears to happen quite often...  So, I have compiled my list of books I am reading, planning to read or have just completed for the fall. Let me know what you think about my choices or if you have any suggestions for my winter haul.


FALL BOOK HAUL

*In no particular order...

1. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

I finished this book about a month ago. I would have to say that it is incredibly creative and well researched. It reads like a biography including journal entries, letters and photographs and is so well written that the theory actually seems plausible. With that being said, it reads like a biography. There are not very many skin-crawling action scenes because of this. Don't get me wrong there are gross and disturbing aspects, but I wasn't pulled into the action in the same way a fantasy, horror or urban fantasy novel can. But on the plus side, there were no strange or misplaced adolescent love triangles either. Mr. Lincoln was strictly business. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I don't think that I will ever be able to look at Abraham Lincoln the same. I would recommend this book, but just be forewarned that the huge action sequences are few and far between. If you have seen the movie and have any comments about it, let me know if it is worth watching.



2. Feed by Mira Grant

I know what you are thinking; what another zombie/vampire book? But you know what I say to that? Bite me. It was right next to World War Z in the bookstore so I couldn't resist. I haven't actually started reading it just yet. It's the first book in a trilogy, and starts 20 years after the zombie apocalypse. It looks like two survivors uncover a conspiracy behind the infected disaster. And they will tell the truth even if it means their lives! Dun dun-dun duuun! I am actually pretty excited about this one, so I may start reading it tonight since I am having The Walking Dead withdraws today. I wish that show was on every day.... sigh I may only be a dreamer. Anyway, if I have any strong feelings about this book I may do a review on it. If you are interested let me know.





 

3. Looking for Alaska by John Green

So, I know I am a little behind with the John Green phenomena, but I loved this book. Was it a little predictable? Yes, but that did not detract from the amazing story telling at all. It was funny, it was gut-wrenching and it was real. I felt like I was my sixteen-year-old self again while reading this book, and that my friends, makes this book worthwhile. Mr. Green obviously doesn't forget to be awesome. I am hoping to get another one of his books for winter, which one should I get and why?

 4. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

I decided I need to throw in some classics. I read a lot of classics in undergrad and now again in grad school, but I still feel like some how I missed several well known novels. So, I chose this book because I have always wanted to read Vonnegut and pretend like I am one of the beatniks smoking in a lounge and listening to jazz. I actually don't know why I associate Vonnegut with the beatniks as he was not a beats poet so never mind... Anyway, I loved this book. Billy was an awesomely weird character and the time travel was just the cherry on top. I think I would love to apply psychoanalytic theory to this book... hmmm what do you think? If you are debating on this book, you should read it. It's not long and despite the common thought that classics are boring, this book does not adhere to the stereotype. And people should read more classics, I mean they're classics for a reason.

5. The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

I honestly know nothing about this book. I found it in hardback for about $4.00 so I decided to pick it up. I love historical fiction and my thesis novel has some of this genre's characteristics. I justified picking it up because I could use it for research as well. Plus I think it sounds interesting. The basic premise is a psychiatrist works with a mute painter obsessed with an unknown woman to try and heal him. So, it involves love, art and insanity. All three are on my list of awesome. There are some pretty negative reviews for this book because it apparently different than her best selling novel The Historian. However, I haven't read that book, so I have no preconceived notions. I am rarely disappointed in historical fiction and I have little doubt this novel will be any different. Have you read either or both of Kostova's books and what do you think about them?



6. Behind the Attic Wall by Sylvia Cassedy

Yes, this is a children's book, but I have a great story behind it. My mom randomly bought this book for me when I was 10. I read it and presented a book report on it in 4th grade because it was the best book I had read in my life at that point. Apparently, I was pretty persuasive because a bunch of kids wanted to borrow it and eventually I never got it back. So, I have looked for it most of my life and I finally found it on Amazon for a penny a few weeks ago. I don't remember much about it but I am actually pretty excited to read it again. It involves a creepy house, an orphan and possibly some ghosts. I am kind of hoping the baby will let me tie her down and listen to me read it. Is that illegal? I am going to make her like books!


7. Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare


Okay, so I know this series is a huge deal right now. I have been reading this book, but I am having a hard time getting into it. I am really trying to slog through it because I heard the later books are much better. I mean the premise is interesting to me, a girl discovers she can see beautiful supernatural beings that live amongst the normies and they fight off evil demons. The problem I am having right now is with the world building. There hasn't been very much information to make any sense of what is happening to Clary. I love her name by the way. There needs to be some explaining done because weird names of people, beings, etc. get tossed around that I don't know or remember because they are too weird. But I want to at least finish this book and then I will give a better explanation of my problems with it. Did anyone else that read the book or series have this trouble in the beginning? And is it worth continuing?
 
 
Bonus Book! Fundraising the Dead by Sheila Connolly
 
Ok, so this isn't a new book for me, I actually picked it up a few years ago at a mystery writer's conference. It's just a basic mystery with dead bodies (good), museums (great) and a female sleuth (excellent). The makings of a great rainy or snowy day book. The reason I am including it in this post is because I, like most writers, collect books. I have so many books just sitting in my house that have never been read. So, it is my goal, much like my goal to include some classics in my reading, I want to try and get through some of these unread books on my shelves. Does any one else suffer from book hoarding as much as I do? Should I also start doing this on my Kindle collection as well?
 
 
 
 
 
 
I had a ridiculous amount of trouble with the images on this post. If it doesn't look right please let me know. I just love that it looks different from the work screen to the published screen. Whatev's I officially give up. Also, I would like to do one of these posts every season, so like this post or comment on it if you are interested in what I am reading or if you would like to see a review on one of these books. Thanks so much for reading and I will talk to you awesome nerds later!
 
Ta ta for now,


-Jami Lynn

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why Becoming An Author Was the Best Decision of My Life...

Why hello. So I haven't been here in a while. But I have been working super hard since I returned from California at the end of September. First and probably foremost, NaNoWriMo starts in like 3 days and I am freaking out. If you don't know what that is, it is National Novel Writing Month. It's basically a challenge to write a novel or 50,000 words in 30 days. You can go to nanowrimo.org if you want to check out the rules and sign up yourself. I have been desperately trying to get my outline completed before the first day of November, and I think this is going to be the greatest November of all time. I am determined. And I will keep you updated as I go along.

I have also decided that I am going to apply to the Columbia Publishing Course at Columbia University. The application opens in mid-November and is due in March. If you don't know about the course it is an intensive 6-week graduate program that focuses on book and magazine publishing while introducing you to the industry's top executives. It's basically like a 6-week long job interview with training. I don't know too much about the application process just yet because it isn't open yet, but I will be keeping you updated as I know more. It seems like a long time from now, but I am so excited about it.

Lastly, I wanted to tell you I gave up on the YouTube videos for now. I didn't realize how time consuming video editing is, and the videos just weren't the quality I wanted. I think I need a better camera. So, anyway, I have taken one of my videos and adapted it for you to view here. Enjoy!

Why Becoming An Author Was The Best Decision Of My Life:

1. The Glamorous Lifestyle


What I really do.
 

2. People Find You Irresistibly Sexy

 
The truth.
 
3. Everyone Finds You Infinitely More Interesting
 
 
 What's really happening.


4. The Notoriety Makes It All Worth While
 
The reality.


5. No One Questions Your Life Choices

 

Their true reaction.
 
6. It Just Comes Natural

 
What really happens.

7. The Excellent Compensation


Reality.


8. Even Better Benefits


The truth.

9. Working From Home Provides Great Balance


 Reality.
 

 Reality.
 
 

When you're home everyone needs your attention. Reality.
 
10. Every Day Is Something New And Exciting

Reality.
 

Reality.
 
source  source

Reality x 3.
 

Hope you enjoyed my fun time with gifs and pictures! I hope this brightened your day as much as it did mine. We are about to enter the dark days of NaNoWriMo. So, stay tuned and please feel free to share or comment. Let me know why writing was the best decision of your life... sarcastic or not, I would love to know!

See ya'll later!


-Jami Lynn

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Writing and Anxiety

Squishy, Squishy
Writing with social anxiety is an issue I have been thinking about lately. Mainly because the closer I get to finishing my novel the more I realize that if I want to be a writer, people are going to read my work and judge me for it. Becoming an author seems less like a pipe dream and more like a real possibility these days and that absolutely terrifies me. I feel like I need to share these feelings with you. Maybe so you don't feel alone or maybe so I don't, but hopefully my story can help someone else. And that makes it worth sharing. Let's start from the beginning:

I have had generalized anxiety and a panic disorder since I was 14, only I didn't know what it was until I was 19. So, technically I have known about these disorders for about 9 years. I have been on and off medication and I am currently off of it for other medical reasons. But to describe what I experience is similar to a heart-attack only it won't kill me. I just have to suffer through it over and over again. It prevents me from being social and sometimes leaving the house because I am so afraid of an attack in public. However, I have gained some control over it in my personal life and I have less and less attacks every year. The only area of my life that it still permeates my every move is writing.

Maybe because writing is the newest aspect of my life, but I am paralyzed almost daily by fear and doubt. I question my abilities, my motives and my future. I sabotage myself so I hurt myself before anyone else can. Case in point: I had my final chapter due last Sunday and I physically could not finish the required word count. I had procrastinated to the point that my chapter was god-awful and I realized later that I had inadvertently switched point-of-view characters mid scene. Subconscious sabotage. And it all derives from my anxiety and fear of unwarranted judgment. I am old enough to know how the world works but yet I am not old enough to not care. I don't want to be ripped apart by reviewers I will never see. I won't be able to stand up for myself or make my own case. They're just words but they can crack a weak confidence faster than a bullet. And I am not sure I could handle hitting rock bottom again. I want my voice to be heard but not at the expense of my personal well-being.

It has been a rough few weeks, I am better. I can smile. I can compliment my work. But the little dark creatures that live within my mind are still there. I still doubt my contributions to the world will be of any significance to anyone. For right now that doesn't matter. What matters is that I continue to beat this strange disorder that has the possibility of letting me completely lose myself in a false reality. A reality of fear. A reality of inconsequence. Writing has helped me control my demons but at the same time has brought them to the forefront of my life again. Publishing seems like such a giant leap of faith and I don't even know if I am prepared for it. Or for the likely utter disappointment.

Anxiety and panic has made me appreciate the small things but has also kept me from reaching for the big things. Can I come back from a giant crash and burn? Probably. Will I keep writing? Absolutely. These are the only thoughts that keep me pushing forward despite my self-sabotaging nature. It may take me longer than I hope, but I am stronger than the pulse pounding, body shaking fear that fills me. Anxiety will not kill my career. It will not kill me. That's what I have to keep reminding myself when I am staring at a blank computer screen unable to bring my fingers to the keyboard. I am a survivor. I will win this war. I will not be silenced.

If anyone out there experiences this type of paralyzing anxiety please feel free to share your story. I think sharing with each other will only help. We are not alone.

Talk to y'all soon,


-Jami Lynn

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Let's Talk: Author Platform Series Part II

I apologize for not getting this post up any sooner, but I have been battling something no less potent than the plague for the past 5 days or so. Today has been the first day I could actually sit up without getting vertigo from my incredibly stuffed up sinus cavities. And this is also the reason I still have no videos posted. Damn you Murphy's law!!
Look it's a unicorn!

Any way, it did give me a little bit more time to ponder over the difficult questions surrounding author platforms. Which, I am sad to say I am no less closer to an exact method than I was before. I read everything required by my class and some further research on my own. What I have discovered is that it all boils down to one basic but abstract point; be yourself. That is your platform. That is your brand. You.

Now this completely screws with my OCD, where I like my things cut and dry. Black or white. I hate when things are messy. I want step-by-step instructions on how to get where I want to go. But no. No one can tell me exactly how to create my author platform. It is something I have to decide on my own. I hate that because there are too many unknowns. Too many possibilities for any of this advice to be useful. I mean who really knows "who they are" so to speak?

So, basically I am here to tell you, the hell with it. Do what you want. There are no rules anymore. Write what you want. Be who you want to be. Do what feels right to you. No one is going to tell you "no" any more because you have too many other options. Just stop being afraid and write what you are passionate about, what makes you excited, what sets you free. That is your platform. You. Now go be you, you awesome little unicorn, you.

Was that a little loopy? So what, I'm on medication? Don't judge. You know you were just inspired, so subscribe and come back for more tidbits of awesomeness from time to time.

Ta Ta,


-Jami Lynn

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Let's Talk: Author Platfoms

I thought I would write a quick (and unplanned) post about author platforms because it is the topic we are discussing in my Contemporary Publishing class this week. How fitting since I just started this blog. Any way, at the end of this week we are to have formulated a marketing plan for our platform and hence the book. This whole process seems so trite to me because I don't feel like I, a whole person, can fit into a teeny-tiny ideal platform.

Here is what I mean: When I work on my novel, I write gritty and intense. There is always something happening, someone is dying or being chased or chasing someone else and time is running out. However, when I write these blog posts or school discussion posts, I tend to be sarcastic and sometimes rude, as my mother told me. I also like to be sarcastic, ironic and silly in my YouTube videos (which will be up later this week). But the point is, I am two very different writers depending on what I am writing. How do you build a platform by being two different people? Oh and the worst part is I am a third entirely different person in real life. I am shy, quiet and the biggest push-over you'll ever meet. Starting to feel a little like Cybil. Oh, don't judge me you know you are weird too.

It actually makes no sense to me to try and be only one persona for three reasons. First, I feel like my writing would fall flat because changing my blog to match my fiction or vice-versa would feel wrong. It wouldn't be organic anymore but rather a marketing tactic and I know all of you would see right through it. Second, I would get bored. I'll admit I like other things. My whole life does not revolve around this one persona. I have many like: mother, wife, daughter, housekeeper, chef, student, seamstress, runner (ahem walker), zombie-lover, hop-scotch champion... You get the point. And finally, it probably is more beneficial for me to just be myself and let the chips fall where they may. Either you like me or not. And if not then I probably wouldn't like you either.

But all this talk doesn't help me with my marketing plan assignment. Any suggestions? Thoughts? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller... My assignment is due on Sunday, so I will post it on Monday and let you all know what I came up with as my answer to this conundrum.

If you enjoyed this post please feel free to subscribe or share amongst your friends with the various medias (is it strange that I am thinking in a British accent right now?). And like I said earlier I plan having a humorous YouTube video posted in a few days called "Why Becoming an Author was the Best Decision of My Life." I am super excited to share it since I finally figured out my video editing software. So stay tuned and thanks for visiting.

Bye Bye For Now,


-Jami Lynn

Monday, July 29, 2013

How to Write an Essay Part 1- Choosing a Topic

I am awesome. I mean just look at my hair. Classic.
After being in college for most of my adult life, or 7 of the last 10 years, I have learned one important skill: writing an essay. Not only writing an essay that just lets you pass but actually can knock the socks off a professor.  This is actually easier than you might think. Yes there is a formula and yes the essay is still totally BS. But good BS that makes you look like freaking awesome-sauce. Since this is such an important topic for many of you, I plan on breaking it down into two or more blog posts. The first being a break down on how to pick an essay topic that will allow the BS to just flow (appropriately) on the page. Let's get started.

*Note: I say professor here but if you are in high school or middle school, this process will still work for you.

Step 1: Take notes during class and mark topics that seem to excite the professor.

I am so sorry, but this is going to require you to go to class. At least some of the time. But I would suggest you do because professors will give you subtle hints as to what they want to see from you. For example, I took an American Lit class during undergrad. My professor was a nineteenth century American Lit guy (and I knew this) but the class was a survey class so we covered several centuries. We spent about half the semester talking about Emily Dickenson and Walt Whitman and about a week covering F. Scott Fitzgerald. But what did I choose for my final topic? Symbolism in The Great Gatsby. Face palm! I did alright on the paper, I passed with a B-, but had I followed this simple formula, I would have known to cater my paper to the professor grading it. A paper written in the exact same style about symbolism in nineteenth century poetry probably would have gotten me an A. So, take notes on what the professor talks about the most or does special lectures on because chances are that is what they love and will love to read about from you. Take a pen and write some crap down in a notebook or on your face or something. It will save you lazy bums a lot of trouble in the long run.

Step 2: Choose a few marked topics in your notes to do some further research.

Once the assignment has been given, look over your notes and choose a few topics that do not scare the beejeezus out of you. By that I mean a few topics that you could possibly have a friendly conversation about in public. Do not, I repeat, do not pick a topic that confuses you, that you know absolutely nothing about or has not thoroughly been covered in class. This goes back to step one, being present and alert in class gives you the best chance at choosing an appropriate essay topic. Now I know there are stories of college students never setting foot in a classroom and getting an A on the final. While there may be truth behind some of it, I can promise you they may have been able to get away with it freshman or sophomore year but after that, no. They now all work at a junk yard. All of them together. So, go to class, that is why you are there in the first place. Stupid is not cool.

Step 3: Go to the library or an online database and do a search of your topics.

Now this step is getting into the nitty-gritty of choosing your topic. Make sure you are using scholarly journals, articles, anthologies or encyclopedias. Most universities and libraries have databases full of articles you can search. No, Wikipedia does not count. What you are searching for in these databases are other scholarly articles that discuss your topics. Note and read the synopsis of as many as you think are relevant. You need to make sure there are several available for use. But you also want to make sure that your topic has not been beat to death by thousands of Ph. D's in the past 50 years, because I promise you will have nothing new or exciting to add to the conversation. This is why you chose several topics to research, toss this one out. Choosing an over saturated topic will make you look like a monkey. You know "monkey see, monkey do?"

Step 4: Read the syllabus or assignment rubric and compare your researched topics with the guidelines.

So, here is the scoop; you want to make sure you have at least one reference for every page or every 250 words. Do you have enough scholarly references not counting your textbook or a primary source like a novel or poem in original form ? If not, chuck that topic. The point of this step is to make sure that you have enough material to get you through the entire essay. So you don't have to stay up all night adjusting margins, font size and spacing just to make the required length. Not fun. And most professors can tell when you have done this anyway. You will also need to start thinking about possible thesis statements at this stage and if your resources can help you explain it. Thesis statements aren't totally necessary in this step but you may want to start thinking ahead. Look at you being prepared this time. Wink, wink.

Step 5: Make a brief outline with possible thesis statements for each topic.

By brief outline I mean super brief. Like list your intro with your thesis statements, then how many paragraphs of evidence you will have to support the statement and a conclusion. And no this is not a 5 point essay. I promise you will probably have/need more than 5 paragraphs. Worry about making your point, not fulfilling some crappy format that was beat into your brain in elementary school. An example of a thesis statement I recently used is as follows:

A deep analysis of these pieces individually reveals two commonalities: the portrayal of a heroic Christian protagonist and reminiscent pagan elements of theme, structure and perspective.

I then set out to prove this point with my evidence. If you are having trouble with a thesis statement go to the Purdue University Online Writing Lab here. Or you can link to it from my resources page as well. Know what you plan on talking about with each topic so you can make an informed decision. This makes the BS portions of your paper much easier to write and more believable for your professor to read.

Step 6: Ask your professor for advice on your topic choices.

I know this can seem a little bit of over kill, but if you really want to have a great topic and subsequently write a great paper, then you need to discuss the topic with your professor. Just stay a few moments after class or send an email and show him/her your topic outlines and thesis statements. Ask for advice. This is key because they will tell you where your outline is weak and what more you can do. Sometimes they even give you little hints on what they want you to write. Take notes people! They are practically telling you how to get an A on this essay, so make sure you listen. If you need clarification on some of their suggestions ask for it. I promise they want to help you. If they don't then they suck and you should go to your campus writing center or tutoring center. And give them a bad evaluation.

Step 7: Make your choice.

Thank heavens we are finally done. Make your stinking choice already! No seriously, look at all your notes and outlines and decide the single topic for which you are going to write your awesome essay. Choose the topic that seems the most interesting to you. The topic that you could write about and possibly enjoy it. Just know the more excited you are about a topic, the more interesting your writing will be. While this post may make this process seem long, it really isn't. This should just take a few hours max, if you know the formula. So, quit procrastinating and get it done. What are you still doing here? Go!

You're on your way! Today is your day! Go choose a topic for your essay! The next installment of this series on outlining your essay will be arriving soon. So stay tuned. And stay classy...

If you liked this post please take a moment to subscribe or share it on the various medias. Also feel free to comment below with questions, comments, suggestions or valid arguments. I look forward to hearing from you! Maybe.

Ta Ta For Now-

  
-Jami Lynn

Saturday, July 27, 2013

10 Things to Never Do as a New Writer

She looks too happy. She must not have started yet.
I decided to cover this topic because I have been guilty of each item on this list at some point in the past 5 years. I hope to spread some knowledge here and prevent you from spending your precious time and energy only to realize your efforts have been in vain. Trust me, it is not a fun day when you discover your manuscript cannot be saved or you receive a nasty rejection letter from an annoyed agent. You might say, "But why must I be concerned Jami, it worked out for so-and-so author..." and you might be right. But I can almost guarantee it will not work out the same way for you. So, here's my list of advice as I have experienced it personally.

1. Pitch to agents without a complete manuscript.

Unless you are a non-fiction writer, I repeat, do not pitch to agents with out a complete manuscript. I can tell you for certain, that they do not have time to wait for you to finish your manuscript. They do not care about your book and probably have 20 to 30 other manuscripts sitting in their slush pile that are complete. I don't care how awesome you think your manuscript idea is, just don't do it. It is unprofessional and if you do get called by an agent asking to see the full manuscript it is gong to be really embarrassing to tell them you don't have it or you give them a shitty rough draft. Just don't do that to yourself before you get started. I know it is easy to jump the gun on an exciting idea, but channel that energy into your draft. Agents will always be around, don't rush it. I promise it will be worth it. If not I will send you a stuffed animal from my collection to comfort you. Baby.

2. Self-publish with out a professional editor.

Take it from the Queen of self-publishing, Amanda Hocking, when she says to edit. And if you think you have edited enough, do it again. Or better yet, hire a freelance editor if you are serious about your sales. Because an e-book riddled with errors will not receive great reviews because it looks unprofessional. And how do your e-book rankings go up on Amazon? Good reviews. Don't shoot your self in the foot by being lazy or cheap. Look up freelance editor prices online at elance.com or offer a job for freelancers to bid on your project. Then you can get a quote so you know how much to borrow from the bank or your mommy or sell your X-box. But if your serious about giving your e-book the best chance, then get an editor and quit crying about it.

3. Not building an author platform before selling your novel.

I think this point is kind of a shock for writers, especially older writers. The reason you should do it is that the internet has given us such a massive advantage for building a following before a book is published, sold or even completed. Having a ready made audience is a great selling point for the publishing companies that are steadily losing profits with debut authors. Don't give them a reason to turn you down. Set up a blog and it doesn't have to be about writing. If you are a mystery writer follow and comment on court cases. Or if you write Sci-Fi cover space things or robotics or other hip geeky things I know nothing about. Whatever it is just find an audience that is interested in what you have to say. If you are not comfortable with blogging or vlogging then write a few short e-books related to your novel and publish them for free or cheap to start building an interest in your unique style writing. Just do something so that when a publishing company Google's your name, they find information other than a mug shot.

4. Work on multiple projects at the same time.

Now this doesn't mean don't work on work projects (homework) or a few short stories or even supplemental projects like I mentioned above. This means do not work on two major manuscripts at the same time. First, it can be confusing obviously, but it usually means you aren't committed or even stuck on the first novel. So, if this is the case then put the first one aside for a later date and finish the second manuscript. Just don't use multiple projects as an excuse not to finish a project. If you have an idea that is itching to get out, make note of it, write all the ideas down in a notebook or filing cabinet or .doc file and go back to the first project. For me, writing the idea down usually lets me get back to the original manuscript because I am no longer worried that I will forget an awesome idea. If you disagree with me here because you can write two frigging awesome manuscripts at the same time, then I bow down to you. You win.

5. Write about topics that you are not that interested in.

Sometimes great ideas for novels just are not topics that work for us as individual writers. We all have a niche, a comfort zone, a genre or sub-genre where we write well. That doesn't mean you shouldn't test your limits or the genre's limits every once in a while, but usually to write well, we need comfort. I'll give you a personal example here. I write historical/ contemporary mysteries and with a twist of romance and adventure, this is where I am comfortable. That doesn't mean at some point I won't add some supernatural elements like zombies. I love zombies. But I once started a YA sci-fi novel about teens with super natural powers brought together by an agency to fight demons that were taking over the world by hiding in humans and eating their souls. So, it sounds pretty cool, but it was way over my head not long after starting. I don't really read books like this too often, so I don't know why I thought I could write an effective novel. The point is write what you know. Feel free to steal the idea if you are into it. I won't tell.

6. Follow current trends.

This goes along with the previous section. Don't write a novel about a popular theme or topic because it will be completely saturated and old by the time you are published. Case in point: vampires. I can't tell you how many vampire stories I have read in writing groups and in my MFA classes. It is insane! Seriously, don't do it. Please. The literary world begs you. And actually zombies is headed in that direction as well. The problem is by following trends you are setting yourself up for disappointment because the most popular books about these topics have already been written hence their popularity. And it usually takes about 2 years for a published book to appear in bookstores so by the time your book will get out the trend is over. And you will look like a hack. However, if you are really into a current trend try writing some short stories for an e-book or a script for a web series.  Just don't write about vampires. Ever.

7. Not doing the research.

Writing requires research. Even in a completely made-up world you still have to figure out the land layout, the political and economical aspects, language, etc. The point is you have to be consistent by burying yourself in every aspect of the setting. Your audience will know if you are full of it. And many of them will call your bluff and make you look stupid. If you don't want to learn about crime investigations don't write about cops or murders. If you hate Regency England then don't write historical romances. If you don't want to create an entire realm then don't write sci-fi. I think you get the point. This is why your subject matter needs to be something you really enjoy because you will spend months there, and then you will spend years discussing it with fans. If you aren't your book's biggest fan, then who will be? Besides your mother.

8. Using devices of other well known books and authors.

As obvious as this sounds, I have seen this numerous times in my MFA program. What I mean by devices are the character quirks or setting or even background information that help explain and or move the plot forward. For example, I recently read a story that used several plot devices found in Twilight, like having the ability to calm people's emotions and having visions of the future. But the main device I noticed right away was the imprinting-like action where two characters become soul mates at first sight. While the story had nothing to do with vampires, it was obvious where the ideas came from. There were just too many. Now this is not saying that borrowing or being inspired is not okay because it is, but twist and develop the ideas further so there is no resemblance of the other book. Don't get caught stealing ideas because as a new writer it will kill your reputation. I mean like dead. Black-balled. Career over. It is much like lip-syncing at a live show and you don't want to be that person. Do you want to be the Ashlee Simpson of the writing world?

9. Lose faith in your writing.

This is so easy to do when you don't have fan club, agent or editor cheering you on. It is just you and you have to be your own cheerleader. No one is going to care if you don't finish except you. If writing is your true passion then you have to learn to turn off the Debbie Downers in your head that tell you your writing is crap. That you'll never get published. You will never compare to other writers and you'll never reach your goals. Questioning your abilities is normal, and even accomplished writers struggle with it. So, what do you do? I have been writing negative notions down and then writing a list of things to do to beat it. For example, one of my biggest negative thoughts is that I am never going to finish my manuscript. Mainly because I have been working on for quite some time and I have given up on a few others. So, to beat that thought I tell myself I have to write 1000 words a day or sit at my computer for three hours. Or which ever comes first. And they don't have to be great words. Just words. Revising comes later, so I try not to focus on quality just yet. So, see, you can do it too. Just be your own Superman. It's a bird! It's a plane! No! It's you!

10. Give up too soon.

Rejection is part of the game unfortunately. But don't give up. Not if you truly believe that your book is awesome (which you should). Trying to find an agent is scary and many of them are not nice. You may get your hopes up or your heart broken, but every published author has been down that road before. Just keep plugging away and start your second novel. Maybe you never sell your first novel or your second, but at least you have the opportunity to self-publish them down the road. Look at J.A Konrath for example. He had several titles that never sold and decided to put them on Amazon after he sold a detective series. He now makes $50,000 a month off e-book sales and has dropped his publisher in a favor of e-books. You see, don't give up just yet. give it a few more months or years. Just don't burn your manuscript or delete the file in frustration and burn the hard drive. I promise it's worth more than you think you crazy pyromaniac.

So, there is my advice to new novelists. Please let me know if you can think of other things I should have included. Or you want to start an argument over the validity of my list. I'm down. Bring it.

Also, if you enjoyed this post please subscribe for further awesomeness or share it with your friends on one of the many social media sites that I know nothing about. Just do it. Please. I'm a fun person, I promise. I'm just fun like The Grumpy Cat.

Let's talk later,


-Jami Lynn


Friday, July 26, 2013

Introductions

Welcome to my blog! This is my very first post on this site and I am excited to get started. First and foremost I want to introduce myself. Hi. My name is Jami (pronounced jay-mee like Jamie). I get that question more than what should be logical. What's yours?

Did that large picture of my face frighten you?
 
So, that's me. I am supremely awkward and rarely take pictures of myself but there you go. You can also find out some more information about me in the Bio section of my blog and probably also on Google. I haven't set up too many social media sites just yet, but if you have any suggestions as to where I should be other than the big 3 (facebook, Twitter, Google+) let me know. I am on Instagram and Pinterest. They probably aren't too relevant for this blog but I have no objections of you looking me up if you are interested.
 
Some things about me that you should probably know;  I am an MFA student in creative writing. I will have completed my creative thesis and graduate in March 2014. I have never been published to date, although I haven't submitted too much. I am sarcastic much of the time. I don't read literary fiction or award winning books and I don't know all the trade secrets or many authors by name (my brain just fails to remember author names, but your name I will remember and it will probably creep you out). What I do know is academic writing, fiction writing and screenwriting and I have done well in all of these. I currently have a 4.0 GPA. So, eat that if you don't think I know what I am talking about. Just kidding. Or am I?
 
Enough about me, let's talk about writing. That's why we are all here correct? Some things I want to talk about on this blog is student writing such as: essay writing, tips, topics, references, etc. I also want to discuss the creative writing process, frustrations, publishing, books, author branding and daily writing life. Lastly, I want to include things I have learned about teaching writing. However, I try to do this in a fun and interesting way because sometimes these topics can be extraordinarily boring. I also like to make fun of things, usually the things I do, in my videos. So, beware.
 
So, for now, I would just like to hear from all you internet people as to what sort of things you would like to see from me. What are you most interested in and/or what can't you find about writing online that you would like to know? I have no problem doing research for a question I can't answer. Leave me comments down below or message me directly. Thanks for visiting and if you enjoyed anything on my page please subscribe or follow me. And get excited because things are about to get real weird.
 
Ta Ta For Now!
 
 
-Jami Lynn