What does a ruler do?

(I wrote this on May 12 and, thought I thought I published it, I guess I never did.)

We all know about the president, or the king of a country. However, as I begin to think about my characters, some of who are some kind of ruler, I wondered what do they actually do? What takes up all the time in a day?

This, obviously, sends me to google. Here is all I’ve found.

Starting off, I found this great website about the Queen of England’s schedule.

This isn’t terribliy helpful, although it gives a background of the presidental job history. The only good line of a schedule is found here:

This past Wednesday was a typical day. The record shows that Bush had breakfast at 7:15 a.m. with the king of Jordan. He had his usual 8 a.m. intelligence briefing. He held meetings with senior staff and the secretary of defense. At 10:40, he motorcaded to the Capitol, where, at 11:05, he participated in a ceremony honoring heart surgeon Michael DeBakey. Back at the White House, his schedule included a photo op with organ donors, Perino said. At 2:10 p.m., he had a meeting with some business leaders, and at 2:30, he met with Republicans from Congress. At 3:35, he briefly addressed the media about National Small Business Week.

Invariably, Bush has an exercise period in the mix, and almost invariably, he stays at home in the evening….

Then lights out at 9 p.m., or not much later.

Bush very rarely goes out on the town. He seldom appears before audiences that aren’t carefully screened in advance. By his own account, he is immersed in the war he began.

Here is the actual President’s schedule, just in case you’re ever curious.

This is an interesting article on the events of 9/11 and Bush actions during it.  I actually only read through his stay at the elementary school. It is obviously written by someone who is annoyed at Bush, since his whole article seems to be written in order to cause people to demand why Bush didn’t respond. However, I’m thinking of it more from a writing perspective. A plane is highjacked one random day, what are they thinking? Oh, wait, a second plane is now as well. And how does a 40 minute delayed flight effect things? When the plane was highjacked at 8:13, would anyone have imagined it would be crashed into the towers thirty minutes later? Now, take that apply it to your writing.

This is just a cursory overview of what the president does.  Not helpful to me, but maybe to you.

Here I have an interesting job description for a prime minister.

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My summer plans may be to self-publish ebooks.

(Edit: I don’t know what happens when you follow posts, but I did accidently publish this last night and didn’t want to publish it until Friday.)

I made the joke earlier this week about how I should run an etsy account this summer to get money, because OBVIOUSLY, I’m not getting the job I want. (One that has me working with kids. :) ) Yesterday, I looked into it and dropped the idea completely. Etsy seems dangerous and very much of a scam. I prefer places that take a cut of what I sell, instead of have me pay in hopes of selling.

But I began thinking: I have so many other skills. I’m not great at crafts. I’m not bad. Just not great. However, I am pretty good at two things.

1) Writing stories. (At least, I think so, and you guys haven’t said anything contrary. :) )

2) Sketching people (and drawing people in general.)

That made me wonder: Why don’t I see about publishing ebooks over the summer instead? So I did whatever I do whenever I get an idea; I researched it. (And now you get the benefits of my research.)

(That isn’t to say I won’t also pursue sketching people. You can actually find me and submit a picture via Picture for Pencil on facebook.)

It starts with this article about how this person, who analyzed the ebooks published on Amazon, discovered that the majority if ebooks sold were actually bought from independent sellers.

When I began my research, I found this one cnet review on the numerous ways to self publish ebooks out there. That made me look at smashwords. I have done some slight looking into self-publishing and ebooks before, and if I recall correctly, smashwords was where I liked the best. Mainly because they reach out to the majority of separate publishers, so I can get on the ibookstore, Barnes&Nobel and other places all from one place.

(Here is a random link on what some authors thought of smashwords, but note that it is from the smashwords blog.)

I really began looking into though, because I have nothing better do with my afternoon besides play mario kart battle (online). There are some huge, mega success stories out there, such as here with Amanda.  But does that mean anything? I don’t know. I know there is still a one in a million chance.

Here’s my thought, and then I’ll go into everything else. I have already submitted two works of mine to traditional publishers. One, Shad, I won’t hear about until probably May or June. Another, Just Trust Me, I won’t hear about until probably August or so. (My mouse is acting funky and it’s really hard to type a post with that going on. :P I know. Totally off topic.) That’s all fine and good, but I don’t think much of anything is really going to happen with either of them.

What if I offically published my short stories as ebooks though? I am currently loving short stories (I’m reading Sherlock Holmes right now.) because I can read them in an hour or two, and then move on. Or, if I don’t have time, I can not do anything. Between my two stories I just finished and Time of the Dragon Slayers (the newspaper version), I have two stories I can put up almost immediatly. Then, I also have two to three stories that just need a bit of editing, and they can go up as well. I’d only sell them for $0.99.

Would this work? Would anyone buy anything? I don’t know.  I look at my stats and I see that there has been only a handful of views in the stories I provided here. However, I would think that when someone is going to read a story, they won’t go browsing wordpress; they go directly to the place that sells their ebooks.

On the negative side, people don’t buy short stories as much as they buy novels. Apparently, not everyone agrees with me. On the other hand, though, I THOUGHT short stories was how someone got into publishing novels, but the more I read today, the more I saw that it seems many places don’t even buy novels anymore. (Or maybe they just don’t buy collections of short stories. Not sure about that one.)

So, what is involved? Well, a lot of things.

I would need to design a cover. I’m trying to decide if I would want to do that myself or hire a friend of mine to do it. (Well, friend’s sister.)  I think it would be fun to design one but I’m not sure if I can do a good job at it. And even though everyone SAYS not to judge a book by its cover, you know everyone does.

I would need to format the books so as to actually be able to upload them. That means I need to use Word. (EVIL!!!!) Then again, no big deal. I can work with that.

Finally, I’d need to do some promotion. I don’t know how to do that. I don’t even know how much is too much. According to that post by Amanda, it is a good idea to get the book reviewed on book bloggers sites. However, I’m not a very assertive person when it comes to self promotion. (I might not even post it on facebook, which, as I think about it, is really stupid. But I’m shy like that.)

One final thing that I must do is have it edited on some level. This one is really hard for me because I THINK I have become a pretty decent editor myself. But no one sees all of their mistakes. So I don’t know how much I will or won’t do that.

Why would I pursue this over traditional publishing? The biggest reason is that I like to maintain my rights to everything. It’s mine and I want to keep it that way. From what I was reading, traditional publishers don’t let you do that. They also don’t let you maintain your rights to an ebook. (Some of what I read today talked about how much they might make you change, which scares me. I’ve worked hard on tightening my stories as much as possible.)

There’s also the fact that I can get more books out quickly. I’m waiting from February until at least May or June to get an answer back on Shad, which, since it’s my first novel, will probably be no. So it’ll take a couple years until I get any kind of acceptance. On the other hand, I can start getting my writing, and not just my name, out there by next month. Besides that, people do get contracts if they are popular ebook sellers.

Also, though this isn’t as much (okay, it’s some. I need $1000 for school next year. $3000 if I decide to drive.), I can make more money through an ebook venue per book. Don’t know if that’ll make much of a difference or not. Compared to a traditional publisher, I won’t be getting any kind of advance.

(See the Pros and Cons of self-publishing and More reasons to self publish for more information.)

Traditional publishing helps you more in the editing process. They also may get books in the store. An article promoting traditional publishing said that if most people who got rejected immediately by a traditional publisher went the self publishing route, they would never actually improve. (Which I disagree with actually. More writing improves practice.)

However, they don’t help you much with the promotion of your book. I, as the writer, still must do that.

Am I going to do this? I don’t know. I’m seriously considering it. If I did, I would get both a smashwords account and an amazon account. However, as a word of warning, Amazon’s lending system (AKD) mandates that you do not have your book for sale anywhere else. You can disable this, and I would do that. This way, I get both the Amazon market (which I’m pretty sure I don’t get with smashwords. Still trying to figure that out.) and all the other markets.

Any thoughts on ebook publishing?

College takes way too much time. (And when is a story actually done?)

That’s pretty much my only excuse for not posting. I get distracted doing homework, classes and other things like that.

Anyway, the real reason why I’m posting (besides that I’m on spring break and have time to post) is because I “finished” two stories this week.

I know. Impressive.

What do I mean by finished though? Well, I wrote them, determined they had a strong enough plot (in one, I had to add more tension), edited them repeatedly and honestly don’t really know where to go from here.

The last time I actually finished something, I either came to the deadline or got bored with it. (That’s how I decided Shad was actually done. Bored. I think I read that advise somewhere.) But right now, I don’t have any deadlines. I’m actually really excited about the stories. (And I don’t have anyone to read them [RIGHT NOW!], because my sister, who used to read everything of mine, is so behind and lazy about it that I’ve pretty much given up on her reading anything. Even though she THINKS she’s doing me so much help. (Which she used to. Not anymore.))

So how do I know it’s finished?

I don’t know. The plot seems good to me. The writing seems good to me.  Overall, I think it’s done.

But I’m just waiting for someone to read it and tell me that “Erm, Abigail, this makes no sense.” or “Abigail, this is really stupid. I don’t get Reve at all.” (I know. I character I haven’t mentioned before. He’s new, he’s not demanding a novel, but I still have written two stories about him and intend to write a third maybe someday.)

And (though I have used Critters in almost a year), if I used Critters, it’d take me a month to get feedback. Who knows what I’ll be doing in the middle of April?

Basically, I’m impatient. I want to be done with it but I want to work on it while I like the story. And I know. Everyone says to let a finished story sit and see how it looks in a month. But–I get so distracted that may mean I never actually finish it.

So I suppose I should just say it’s done and post it here.

Anyone else have any thoughts on when a story is actually done? 

The benefits of creating my own world. :D

Yes. I did just use a smilie face in my title. Because I’m happy with myself.

Here’s some background: Sagi, a character in my mermaid novel, has some serious relationship issues involving some serious wife betrayal. He’s been angry at her and kept that anger for much of the past twenty-some years since her death. He’s done is best to avoid any relationship in that time, focusing instead on getting himself into a position that will permit him to be elected when the time comes.

Here was my problem: Within the matter of about a month and a half I think, he meets Chava, begins to have a serious relationship with her, and proposes. For someone who wanted nothing to do with marriage or a family or relationships at all, that seemed really fast. (Okay, maybe I really shouldn’t be writing about any complicated relationships since I haven’t ever HAD one period, but oh well. They demanded it and who I am but the writer to argue with my characters? )

No matter how I looked at it, that seemed FAST for Sagi to move.

Then I came up with a brilliant solution. What if the mermaids don’t really date? They meet someone, go out a couple times to see how things are. Probably at this point in time, there are some good personality tests they take to see if they would be compatible (that’d be basically what people would call “the next step”) and if so far there hasn’t been any major problems, they are engaged.

I don’t know if an engagement would be long, like the idea that we are still learning, or short, since most non-religions people seem to be under the opinion that you should live together for a while to fully get to know the person before marriage.

I also would need to create into this society the fact that divorce is frowned upon. (Society drives a lot of what people do after all.) Possibly even highly taxed.

However, if I have it set up so that Sagi’s relationship with Chava before she even mentions that maybe they should take a test has been going on for a long time, then that would explain more with Sagi. (It also would explain why he married his first wife even better.)

Overall, I am very pleased with this plan. Obviously, it needs some ironing out, but not only does it solve some minor plot issues I’ve been having, but it creates the mermaid world as a world separate from the human world, which I like.

Now I just have to write today. Haven’t for two days now. :(

EDIT: This also fixes my problem of why it is culturally acceptable to have a wedding within a week, though the forcing part is still a bit vague. I must work on that. (It’s a political marriage, if that makes any difference.) Oh, and I did write today.

Have any of you ever changed a part of your society to make your plot work better? Did it work for you? 

Inside a writer’s brain

Keep in mind with this post, I’m still learning. I think I’ll always be learning. That’s part of being a writer.

SAying that, here’s how I actually go from an idea to a good novel. (I think.)

1. Come up with an idea. The idea comes from anywhere. Someone sitting with their hands covered in blood at night. My teacher saying “Save the Males.” An imagine conversation that I have while sweeping the floor.

Often, these ideas will eventually connect themselves. In September I made a space ship out of a piece of wood and some string. I had a rough idea about some guy who wants to run the mail route. Then a couple months later I had a conversation in my head that eventually developed the idea of Shad as a sweeper. The ideas I enjoy most are the spontaneous  ones.

Sometimes, I need to force it a bit. Such as, why does Sagi hate the Yoni so? That took me a couple days of actual forcing to get, but it worked out.

2. Clarify the idea / write an outline. This section will include anything from writing an outline to learning about the characters. I have papers and papers where I’ll write comments about the characters, the motivations. If I need it, I’ll even write the timeline. This is all the pre-planning phase and this is where, if a story isn’t work out, I should drop it.

This is also my weakest area. I do not do enough planning because I rely too much on the characters eventual talking to me. Because of that, I end up having an extra step that I don’t always need.

3. Pre-draft writing: THis is the part of the writing where I actually begin the write the book. For some stories, I plan them well enough I don’t need to do this. However, this is my chance to take all my ideas and just spit them on the page. I need to do that. Otherwise, I’ll just keep staring at the outline and thinking, ‘This looks good. I’m ready to write.” when in reality I have no clue what their houses even look like. (Very important for science fiction stories, don’t you think?)

While writing this, I’ll put anything on the paper. I even changed my mermaids from fins into feet in the middle of it. Because I knew I would be going back, explaining, expanding and fixing.

Note: I’m sure some writers out there will call that actually my first draft. However, because it’s so bad and so vague, I call it the pre-draft. This is where I’ll drop a story if I need to.

4. 1st draft editing: Now, I go through my pre-draft and fill in everything. The things I learn about the characters are added. I add details of dress and mannerisms. Words become uniform throughout the book. By the time I’m done with this part, I have a first draft and a pretty good idea about where the story is and where it goes.

This is where I am at with my mermaid novel, if you care.

5. 2nd draft editing:  Now I’m ready to actually improve the text. I’ll change things from, “Avi felt angry at Eyal for his betrayal.” To something more along the lines of, “Avi wanted nothing more to do with Eyal after his betrayal.” I remove passive words if I see them and overall just make it an easier read.

6. Paper edit:  Now I actually need to invest money. I print out the novel on paper and begin the long, long process of editing it, then inputting the corrections. This not only lets me see my errors better, but I, for whatever reason, can play around with the words more. It gives me more freedom. Don’t ask me why a computer doesn’t do that; I don’t know. This is a really, really important step. By this time, I’ll probably show it to a few special people.

Right about now is also when I should start working on a synopsis.

7. Second computer edit: Now, I go through the story again, this time highly critically, and fix all of the errors I see. Anything! I remove as many passive verbs as I can. I keep the story tight and interesting. From that, I see what else I need to do and go from there.

By now, I pretty much get bored with my novel for one, and for two, I don’t see much of anything else that needs to be fixed.

Obviously, all writers are different. If you’re a new writer, you’re going to do less or more. I actually only did a one time read through–on the computer–of my stories and thought that was good enough when I began. So I’ve come a long way.

I’ve also seen how you can edit by putting on five different kinds of glasses. Something like, first you look at it just for structure, then you look at it for clarity, then grammar, ect. (I don’t remember them all.) That doesn’t work for me. I have to fix everything at once. Also, just because this is how it seems that I work doesn’t mean that’s how I do it for everything I write.

And, like I said, I get bored. But I’ve also heard that when you get bored with a story, that’s generally a sign you’re done with it.

I’m actually doing it. (And I’m not sure I like this.)

I wrote up a synopsis, took my first forty pages, wrote a cover letter (that sucks, just because I’m a nobody but oh well) and addressed an envelope to myself. All of these things got put into a pretty envelope and is just steps away from being sealed forever. Well, at least until some editor in New York opens it and reads the story I have to offer.

That’s right. I actually am going to send out a manuscript to a real life publisher. This is bigger than submitting a short story. This is huge.

I’m somewhat a combination of this:

WHAT ON EARTH IS GOING TO HAPPEN!!!!????!!?!?!?!?!

There's no way this will work out.

and some of this.

I'M GOING TO BE FAMOUS!!

This might actually be a good thing.

 

But mainly, I’m just a lot of this.

WHAT ON EARTH AM I DOING?!?!?!?!

That's my--what?!?! Life's blood! NO WAY SHOULD I BE DOING THIS!

Nor do I even get to find out until this summer, which is probably going to be at best that they want to see my full manuscript, and even then, they probably won’t even take it.

After all, one of my goals this year was to get a rejection letter. Now I’m going to get two. Hopefully, I’ll get more. If I look at them as one step closer to getting actually published, then it’s a good thing. After all, have you ever heard of a published writer who didn’t get a few rejection letters first? (Though, honestly, I’m offering to be the first one there! Not a problem with that.)

Anyway, seeing how it’s currently Sunday night, and I need packing tape to actually seal the package, It won’t get sent out until tomorrow. Until then, I have a chapter thirty-six to plot through and a paper on my math history to write.

When it just doesn’t work out.

I started my spring semester this week. I’ve also wrote this week. That’s a good start.

As I said earlier, I’m working through all of my Avi chapters because my mermaid book has multiple POVs and this is the best way to keep them all straight. So I get to this scene where (Yes, I’m spoiling the story. But this won’t be published for at least two years so I doubt you’ll remember it.) Avi is sworn in as the monarch, much to her dread, she meets this diver we’ve been following named Matthew and he tells her her boyfriend is a spy and her father offers to help her rule. Yeah. A lot happen in this chapter.

It’s also a pretty big chapter for me. Right now about 5,000 words. So I’ve been working on that chapter all week.

And it’s still flopping.

Now, this is the chapter that gave me writer’s block for about two months and I finally just said forget it and moved on. I actually just finished writing it this week. But still!

I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. It might be because i don’t understand Matthew and I don’t understand Avi’s father. For whatever reason, I can’t seem to get inside Avi’s head in this one. No matter how much I try, she is still insist that Matthew has to stay in the prison (she was freeing them in the prelude. Actually, she frees Matthew’s son.) Matthew is coming out as whiner because I can’t get inside the head of a man who is being threatned to being held prisoner under the sea for the rest of his life. And Avi’s father is coming across as a very nobel person, which he might be. I don’t know.  I just can’t get in anyone’s head.

On top of it all, my sister is talking. And talking. And talking.

I am on the computer. I am trying to edit this chapter well. And she is wanting me to pay attention to the hat she just knitted for air 1. Sure, I want to be a nice sister, but I also want to write.

I did end up finishing the chapter. I do kinda like how it ended. I’m tempted to go back and see about editing it yet again. (making it time number three) But, part of me is saying that I should wait until Matthew and Ber talk to me more. And Avi too.

Which, this is totally off topic, but talk about character change. Avi started out in my head as an impulsive, reckless, brave girl and she is turning to have a very timid part underneath her thick outer shell. I love it when characters do that, though as I write that, I’m wondering if it reflects what I feel right now. Could characters reflect what is currently going on in our lives?

I bet so.

Anyway, I get to move onto my really bad chapters. I think it might not be all that bad once I fix them up though. (Except for Nessa’s story. She needs a lot of help.) I really need to figure out a more effective way to write but until then, I’m just going to have to go with this. (I keep threatening to share how I write. Maybe I should do that tomorrow.) It just means a LOT of rewriting.

Added another writing project.

Though I don’t expect anyone to jump on reading this, I decided that I’m going to post the paper I wrote last year about mermaids.

This is three-chapter work compares mermaids from different cultures of the world, including Europe, Asia, Africa and America. It briefly looks at mermaids’ appearance and personality variances. It also includes my biography.

It’s in the writing section. Which, if you just happening to be popping on here and trying to figure out where to go, that is a big place you’ll want to go because there’s usually a lot of stories. Just thought I should throw that out.

Why is good so good?

What makes something good good? Obviously, if I had a simple solution to that question, I’d be a millionaire. However, if you’re one of those people who can think and analyze something, then you might like this idea.

In short, in order to what makes something good, look at what is considered good overall. Then, look at what is average. What is the differences between the good and the average; that is what actually makes something good. 

I’ve found myself doing this a lot recently. The first time I did it was when I listened to Brian Regan for a couple hours. Then, it just happen that I listened to Tim Hawkins. (He’s a Christian comedian, which is probably why you haven’t heard of him.) In all reality, he wasn’t that funny. However, by seeing them so closely back-to-back, I could easily see what made Brian Regan so good, and what worked for both of them.

Same thing with comic strips. I read Pearls before Swine every so often. I like it; I think it’s pretty funny. (Now I bet that’s something you normally don’t see together. A Christian comedian reference and something as dark as Pearls.) Anyway, if you didn’t know, Lion Brand also tries to have it’s own comic strip about a silly little old lady named Lola. It’s basically pretty lame. However, I’ve been trying to compare Pearls with Lola and that gives me, not as good if an idea, but a pretty good idea how to make a decent comic strip.

This, obviously, can apply to writing too, which is why reading a bad book isn’t always a waste of your time. Just look at what made it bad and don’t do it in your own writing.

What to test for DNA?

So, I don’t know how accurate this website is, because it is a giant ad for DNA testing materials. However, it’s fun, so I’m posting it anyway.

This is a chart of all the possible ways to get DNA from someone who doesn’t want to cooperate. I’ll give you a hint. Hero walks into the bad guys office and gets a chance to snag cigarette butts or an envelope he just licked, smoking works for the hero’s advantage here. :D

On that same note, the heroine doesn’t need to try to get semen from the bad guy if the bad guy happens to have a cold.