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Posts Tagged ‘Mark of Orion’

Monday I went to register my copyright, not even thinking that the copyright office would be closed due to the government shut-down. Thankfully, I could still submit my work–it just won’t be registered until the government opens again. Having gone through the process for three previous books, I had thought it would be an easier process. Alas, the imputing work spun my head around yet again.

There are some things that just don’t get easy with time. Easier, maybe, but not easy. Thankfully, my business education is serving me well as I crunch numbers to devise selling strategies for the new release.

What can I say? I am so grateful to have the printing work behind me. 1000 copies of Mark of Orion should be to my warehouse (aka my mom’s garage) 2-3 weeks before the release date, giving us time to correct any errors, as well as time to focus on advertising. So far, 595 people on Facebook alone have seen the cover for Mark of Orion–and that probably does not include you, faithful blog reader. Now, if I can just get the word out around town…

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An array of challenges were set before me when I began Mark of Orion. Chiefly, I had never before limited my perspective to that of two character’s. I had an insanely hard time not jumping from Marcus’ thoughts directly back into Cressa’s. Then, as I tried to add richness to other characters, I found it to be difficult. In this style I could no long enter every character’s mind. As a result of all this hard work, growth occurred. I found a style I liked far more than that I had utilized for my Xsardis Chronicles.

But, today, the point is not perspectives. Today, the point is characters. Marcus is a highly inquisitive teen. He questions everything. Cressa is much more assertive and definitive. I was faced with a challenge. To portray Marcus’ questioning nature I had to downplay all of Cressa’s questions. How? All characters weigh decisions. The answer: simple phrasing.

Instead of, “Will I get sick again when I reenter the mansion?” I wrote, “It is too likely that I will get sick again when I reenter the mansion.” It may seem like a small change. But when perpetuated throughout the novel it leaves a distinct impression that Cressa weighs things while Marcus questions things, that Cressa is assertive and Marcus is passive, and a list of other descriptives I will leave you to uncover when you read the novel this November.

Often it is the simplest change effected over a large portion of text that yields the greatest effect. Character traits are not always ‘love of architecture’ or ‘movie-goer’. Sometimes, they are simple aspects you would see in the real people around you: ‘peace-lover’, ‘go-getter’, or ‘joyous’. Be real with readers–not extreme.

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“I don’t know what people are looking for,” I lamented to my mother in between my sips of coffee and the whir of her blow dryer.

Last night carried us to a movie, where–going beyond my comfort zone entirely–I asked a random teenager to help me. She seemed to have an appreciation for fantasy reading so I gave her my business card in the hopes that she will beta-test Mark of Orion. Now, this morning, my debate still rages inside me. My writing style is a bit strange, so what is it that keeps readers flipping through chapter after chapter?

The blow dryer stops for only a second as my mom answers, “I think people are looking for you.”

The comment is left hanging as the blow dryer turns back on, giving me the same ‘dun, dun, dun’ feeling I hope to end each chapter with. People are looking for me? I guess its true. Writing isn’t mathematics. It’s about heart. In my first book I could not share my heart–just my imagination. But for the second novel I risked it. Feedback tripled in all positive ways as readers felt like they really got to know me through my writing.

So, my fellow writers, don’t be afraid to write who you are and how you like to read. Your readers won’t love you because you hit some stereotype genre to mathematical perfection. They will love you for you–or not at all. And that’s okay too.

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It has been a ‘my-brain-is-on-overdrive’ kind of week. Not one, but four books on three worlds in five different novel sections simultaneously vie for the attention of my mind even as my return to business school has publishing racing through my neurons. If one of my students asked me what to do in a situation like this I would tell them, politely, that it was time to grow up and let all but the most important, most pressing story rest on a dusty shelf. If I have told you something like this, I have new sympathy. But the advice stays the same.

I am determined to capture just enough of each tale to write a few pages of the story and an army of bullet points as to where it is going. Then I am going to let those stories fade away as I return my focus to The Orion Records (both Mark of Orion and its sequel). I am hoping that this method will keep the creativity flowing, while slowly turning it in a more useful direction and preserving the beauty of the untold tales. In the past I have tried to cut out the irrelevant stories from my imagination entirely. This left me with a severe (and, as my deadline approached, rather terrifying) form of writer’s block. To this day, I have been unable to recapture that lost novel.

So this is my new strategy and my repeated advice: when you have more than one story vying for your attention hash out the important details and then force your brain to move on. It is a hard learned skill to know how to hold onto the right novels and let go of those whose turn has not yet come.

(Side note: it can be a very good thing to be plotting novel C while you are drafting novel B while you are editing novel A, but you had best be very careful when you introduce novel B and novel C so you do not overcrowd your brain and explode.)

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I could not stop writing last night. No, not typing. Writing. I don’t know what came over me as I poured three chapters worth of material onto the pages of a light blue notebook. I’m hoping that by letting the story out in a format that prohibits major editing I will be able to flush this sidetrack of creativity from my system and get back to work on my sequel.

But for today at least productivity comes in a different form. We started editing Mark of Orion today–my mother and I. The first two chapters shimmer in their Times New Roman font, captivating all my attention. Oh what wondrous things novels are.

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Home again, home again. I smiled like a fool as I drove down Union Street today in pursuit of Bangor’s best and cheapest notebooks. Words have begun bubbling up inside of me and, surprisingly enough, I have found the urge to write them instead of type them. I never last very long with the hand-written format, but it can maintain the creativity that would be otherwise lost in the few seconds it takes to pull open my laptop.

I popped into the office today, just because I wanted to see my mom. I guess all this thinking has finally started leading me somewhere because we landed in the middle of an hour and a half business meeting. Now we are ready to take on the promotion of my next book and, starting this week, begin editing Mark of Orion and plan my next tours and steps. I would be lying if I denied my nerves for the work of these next few months, but I am also eagerly anticipating flexing these ‘business’ muscles I earned a Bachelor’s degree to obtain.

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I know this post is long, but I hope you’ll find it worth it.

I’m 21. I have three books published and a fourth in production. I have memorized 2/3s of the New Testament, made sweet friends in Indonesia, lived in South Carolina, and gone on two major book tours. I’m putting together an album for recording and dabble as a worship leader. I am the founder and leader of Rebirth Publishing, Inc. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management. I have escaped all of it without debt. And I thought I knew myself…

But since graduation I have realized just how little I actually know about myself. I know a whole lot about what I can do, but not a lot about who I really am. So, like the perfectionist student I am, I have poured the last few months into a character study–not of Pallen or Marcus or Cressa from Mark of Orion. No. This is a study of my own character. And with each new learning, I celebrate a victory that leaves me feeling a good deal more fulfilled.

First, let me say that I think labels are probably some of the worst things in the world. If you had ever tried to sum me up as ‘Lyme patient’ or ‘college student’ or ‘Christian’ or ‘publisher’ or ‘writer’ or ‘musician’ or ‘homebody’ or ‘extrovert’ you would have missed who I really am. To give you a glimpse of just how much I don’t like labels, check out this personal entry:

It is easy to believe labels are fulfilling.

 Not just the ‘popular’ label. Those of us who know better than to believe that success will fulfill us find other labels to put our stock in. Like the ‘loved’ label; the ‘happy’ label; the ‘work-a-holic’ label. After so many movies full of people finding their labels right alongside their soul-mates, we have begun to believe that if we could just find our label, our movie-moment, our montage of effective work and budding love alongside the perfect soundtrack, then we could feel fulfilled.

 Only, labels aren’t actually fulfilling.

 Not ‘hipster’ or ‘rock-star’ or ‘author’ or ‘healthy’ or ‘wife’. Labels in and out of themselves can never, ever satisfy. All they can do is make us feel bitter that we aren’t happy after attaining them or devastated that we cannot achieve them. Labels are a deadly lie.

So why does the girl who rejects labels find joy in figuring out that she is not only a perfectionist but also 1) passionate and 2) innovative? Aren’t those labels too?

To me the difference is that I can’t achieve to be an innovator. I just am. When I see a problem, my first instinct is to scrap the old system and create a new one. I can’t force myself to be passionate 100% of the time. Often I wish I could turn it off. Only, passion is part of who I am. If I offend you, believe me: it hurts me more than it ever can you. Because I care. And if I can make your day brighter, I’ll do my very bestest. Because I care with all my heart. It’s passion. I can control it, but it will forever be my default setting. And, yep, I want my new innovative system that I passionately care about to go perfectly. But those things aren’t based in what I can do or in the success of my efforts; they are based in who God made me to be. The core of who I am is not ‘author’. Perhaps you could say that I am a storyteller. Each song that I write, each book that I craft, each conversation I have revolves largely around stories. But even if I had never published a book, I would have been–I was–known as a storyteller. It is an attribute, not a label.

You see, sometimes trying to live up to the labels can be really devastating. I won’t forever be a ‘young achiever’ and, as much as I love that label, it can often do more harm than good as I achieve for achievement’s sake alone. I may not forever be ‘worship leader’ and that’s okay too. The ‘traveling artist’ day may pass; the sickness may fade; even the book writing may fizzle out. And if I all I was was an sick, book-writing, traveling artist I would be in a LOT of trouble when the day of change came.

So instead of setting my sights on a list of un-fulfilling and really frustrating labels, I want to discover who God made me to be. I’ll gladly accept the attributes that God created me with, but I am very ready to be done with the labels I set for myself or others set for me. Take heart, my friends, and revel in your uniqueness. It was designed that way by the greatest Storyteller ever, the God Who knit us together.

Psalm 139:13

13 For you created my inmost being;

   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

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