I Found ZEN in an Unexpected Place!

zen

ZEN:

A state of relaxation without the stress and worries of the things you can not change!

 

I Found ZEN in an Unexpected Place!!!

I’m a creative type… I like to paint, draw, act, write, etc. So, if you were to tell me I found find ZEN in the arts, I would say HELL YEAH! Because, it has happened over and over again. I feel right at home in front of an easel, with charcoal and blank white paper, or my arms elbow deep in clay. I feel at peace when I’m standing on a stage in front of hundreds of people or quietly typing stories into my computer.

Those things make sense to me! Those activities bring me to a calm like nothing else can!

One place I have NEVER been able to find my ZEN… my place of relaxation… my calm… is outside doing yard work. Okay, don’t get me wrong, I love the outcome of mowing the yard, weeding the garden, planting flowers, even raking the leave. I just don’t like doing those things myself. I would rather pay someone to do the yard work!!! So, I was surprised, to say the least, to discover that there is one outdoor, yard work like… chore that I actually do enjoy!

I Found ZEN While

Using the POWER-WASHER!!!

Yup, you read that right! We bought a new gas engine power-washer this weekend and my husband cleaned the driveway, walkway, and sidewalk. By the time he let me have a turn I got to do the backyard patio… Oh my goodness… I LOVED IT!

By the time I was done, I was covered in more mud than skin, soaking wet from head to toe, and my muscles felt like I had done a thousand push ups!

But it was AWESOME!

You see… the power-washer is so loud that it drowns out all other noise. You are completely focused on what you’re doing and not on the screaming kids or the barking dog. I put my headset on and played the soundtrack to Pitch Perfect over and over and just washed clean all the dirt and grime from the back patio.

Like I said, I am a creative person… Yard work is not really my thing, but what I discovered about the power-washer is that it is like one of the best things in art… Wondering what that is? Okay, I will share.

In Art – be it painting, drawing, sculpting… it really doesn’t matter… when you make a mistake you just wipe it clean and start again. The power-washer is like using the eraser tool in Photoshop… You can literally watch as all the dirt, grime, and yucky stuff goes away. It creates a brand new clean canvas…

I love a clean white canvas… an untouched piece of paper… a chunk of un-molded clay… a fresh new script with the spin unbent… and a keyboard waiting to be played.

You see… now, my back patio is a clean canvas for me to reinvent my backyard!

Patio

The new patio furniture arrived and a summer of relaxing evenings spent lounging on the patio with a glass of wine, a good book, my loving husband, and my happy kids on the play set can begin! All I need now is an umbrella and some wall art… I will post photos of the completed project when it is done!

FROM IDEA TO SELF-PUBLISHED NOVEL ~ STEP BY STEP!

Step One (1) – The Idea

Okay, lots of people have ideas… I have about 50 at any given moment, but that doesn’t mean any of them are worth a dime. They might be, but if you don’t get them down on paper (or computer) then how will you ever know? YOU WON’T! That’s my point. So you have an idea? Great – Go home sit down at a desk, table, couch, bed, or just a comfy corner and put your thoughts on paper. I started with just a few disorganized sentences – they turned into what I am proud to call Awaken, the first book in the Blood Angel series I am writing.

What are you waiting for – go try. You’ll never know if you can until you try. Okay, wait don’t go yet… read the rest of this article first. 🙂

Step Two (2) – The Outline

Not everyone writes an outline before jumping into their novel. Is that smart? I really don’t know one way or the other. I can tell you this – I skip this step. I don’t do an outline. When I write my characters just kinda speak to me and tell me where they want the story to go. They lead it – not me.

Okay, that sounds a little crazy – I don’t mean that I actually hear voices or anything… I just… I follow my gut. That’s what I do, I follow my gut.

That doesn’t mean I don’t keep track of where my story is going. Basically I write an outline (Excel is my friend) as I go. I keep track of family trees and chapter details in an excel spreadsheet as I go. That way if I need to move things around I have a quick glance as what has already happened. I can move full chapters or just sections whenever needed.

Step Three (3) – Writing

Like I said – I skip step two or at least do it with step three. WRITING is the key. Don’t focus on getting everything perfect at first. Just focus on getting your thoughts down on paper. Don’t focus on word count – seriously I think there is entirely too much hype about “word count”. How is a 80K word novel any better than a novel with only 69K words? The answer is that it isn’t any better. Honestly, if the book is just full of fluff it isn’t going to be good no matter how many words it has. So, my point – just focus on writing – get all your thoughts out there and then weed through them in the editing process. Trust me a lot hits the editing room floor in the end.

Step Four (4) – Editing

The all hated EDITING process. I can honestly say I have a love hate relationship with the editor of my first book. I hated the day my manuscript arrived in my email completely red-lined and torn to shreds with “constructive” criticism. It took me about two weeks before I was mentally and emotionally able to read through all of her notes without taking them personally. You know what? THAT IS A GOOD THING! Your book is your baby – you should be emotional about it, especially when someone is pulling it apart one page at a time. However, you also have to be able to get past that emotion – step back and realize that this person has an outside eye and that he/she is trying to help you. It won’t be easy, but in the end the editing process is what helps you get your novel to become the best reflection of your “idea” your “dream” your “creation” that it can be. So, find the best editor you can. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg – it can be your husband, your wife, your best friend, even your mom. Just make sure whoever you pick is willing to tell you their true opinion. If they are just going to bullshit you and tell you, “it was great” “I loved it” “I wouldn’t change a thing” then they aren’t the right editor for you. GET SOMEONE ELSE.

Step Five (5) – Rewrites

Yes – rewrites come next. After the editing process you don’t just go back and fix a few small grammatical errors and BOOM you have a book. I wasn’t kidding when I said my manuscript came back from the editor completely red-lined. I will tell you there was literally only 3 or 4 pages that didn’t have notes covering the page. So, editing seriously led to rewrites that changed major story plots within my book. Don’t get scared – if you make it to this step then you have the drive it will take to make it through the rewrites. You’re already fully invested in the project – KEEP GOING!

Step Six (6) – ISBN

I’ve complained about this one already in another blog. When buying your ISBN number for your book keep in mind that you have to get an ISBN number for every format of the book. That means if you are going to have it printed and formated as an e-book then you need two ISBN numbers. In that case – you’ll need to buy the ten pack because its cheaper than just buying two individual ISBN numbers. This is CRAZY – What if all I plan to do is write one book? What do I do with the other ISBN numbers? Its like wasting if I don’t write more… Okay, sure I have two more books planned in the Blood Angel series, and I have a children’s series planned out, and another adult series… okay I’m gonna need more than ten, but that doesn’t mean everyone needs that many. Besides – I don’t need them right now – It’s going to take me years to use them all. Hello, I work full-time, I’m a mom, I’m a wife – I don’t have much time to write.

Step Seven (7) – Format and Cover Design

The cover really does sell the book. So, don’t go cheap here. find someone who designs book covers for a living and pay them to design your book and format the layout. A great book can sit on the book shelf untouched just because the cover isn’t eye catchy enough. In the same token a poorly written book can be gobbled up and sell out just because the sexy guy on the cover draws all the ladies eyes. You know what I mean! Make your cover POP!!!

Step Eight (8) – Self-Publish

Sure, we all want some publisher to hear about us, call our number (who knows how they get it – but they do), and tell us we are the next big thing and they have a million dollar contract for us to sign. What are the chances of that happening? NOT LIKELY. Okay, sure it happens, but for it to happen to someone who hasn’t published anything yet, or proven they have a fan base already – it just isn’t likely. So, stop waiting for that call and DO IT YOURSELF! If you want to be published, if that is one of your life’s dreams – then make it happen. There are literally tuns of self-publishing vehicles online these days. Find one that works for you and just do it. If your writing for the fame and money then you’re really not writing for the right reasons. If you’re writing for the love of your story then you’ll find a way to get yourself published! Good luck.

Step Nine (9) – Marketing and Promotion

Yeah, I got nothing! No, seriously I have no clue how to do the marketing and promotion for my book. I am still on Step 7 – Formating and Cover Design. That doesn’t mean I haven’t already started Step 8 because I have. I am researching all the self-publishing sites to figure out which one is best for me. And, I have even done the basics for Step 9 – you know contacted all my friends and family to give them a heads up about the book coming out. Other than that – I am using my blog, Facebook, and twitter accounts to publicize my soon to be released novel Awaken a Blood Angel novel.

So, do you know how to market and promote a new release e-book – from an unknown author? If you have suggestions please leave a comment and share them. There are lots of great authors out there that just aren’t getting read because they don’t know how to get seen. Please share, not just for me, but for all of them.

Have a creative day 🙂