Charlie’s Changing, Part 1

Carlie'sChanging1
Charlie Grace turned on the light next to her bed. She examined her skin then touched herself, worrying one touch would make it all happen again. She was whole. It had all been a dream. She looked at the clock. In half an hour her alarm would go off for her first day of high school. She groaned into her pillow wishing she could somehow roll over and reclaim her peaceful sleep the night had stolen from her.

After putting in major work on her unkempt face she rushed down to the kitchen smelling the sweet smell of maple syrup. Her mom made her favorite waffles. The berries were in season in her moms garden. Just as she hoped, her mother had woke up early to pick them. Dad was reading the paper but he put it down long enough to smile and tell her she looked well. He was always busy for work but he never forgot to give his favorite and only daughter his undivided attention once in a while.

After checking in with her he went back to his paper and her mother topped her off with whip cream and more fresh berries on the side. As Charlie poured the piping hot syrup on the waffles she remembered the strange dream where her body liquified and she was stuck, unable to move or find a way back to her shape. The dream left her with chills. Then she thought about school, leaving her anxious and excited.

Her mother dropped her off at the curb, she had enough time to meet up with her best friend Jasmine at the front of the school. They both greeted each other with big hugs and squeals. They had so much to tell each other. Jasmine stayed with her grandmother in Florida over the summer and went to Disney World. She told Charlie all about how she fell in love with a cute boy who lived in Colorado which was no big deal because they had video chatted every day since she had left and even before they both went to school this morning.

Charlie’s summer wasn’t as eventful. She went to camp with the same people she saw every year for science club. Everyone had looked the same, the boys hadn’t even hit puberty, or if they had she didn’t have much to look forward to in this career. Charlie knew from the age of six she wanted to become a scientist. It wasn’t until a year ago she realized she wanted to be a marine biologist and find better ways to communicate with the sea creatures. Maybe one day she could even find a way to save the ocean from further pollution. If it was up to her everyone would give up driving and anything to do with the use of oil.

“Charlie, what are you doing for your birthday?” Jasmine asked when they reached their lockers. Jasmine had already traded with some other kid so they could be next to each other for the semester.

“Just the same family dinner. You’re coming right?”

“I can’t. My parents are having some important client over and they want us to play house.” Jasmine’s parents were separated all summer.

“We should throw a real party this year!” Jasmine jumped up putting her hands together. “We could have a big blow out. Invite everyone here. How cool would we be if we had the first party of the year?”

Charlie pointed to a well-designed poster. Jasmine shrugged her shoulders. It sounded like a lot of work any way. Charlie didn’t like putting in so much effort because she didn’t like discussing her age.

“Hi Charlie.” A boy waved her way then rustled his hand through his hair when her only response was a confused, awkward smile.

“That’s Weston.” Jasmine poked her in the ribs. “Oh my, what happened to him over the summer?”

Weston lived next door to Jasmine. Their families were very close but Jasmine hadn’t done a very good job of staying in touch with any of her friends.

Jasmine was right, something had drastically changed in Weston. She looked down at herself. She hadn’t grown as much as the other girls over the summer; which hurt more since she was a year older than them all. She wondered when she would go through her changes.

Sitting in first period it felt so free being able to pick my seat even though Jasmine and I weren’t in the same class. She was so used to assigned seating. The teacher’s lecture on the rest of the year made Charlie tired. Even more than she realized because she hadn’t been sleeping well for weeks.

She looked down at her desk where she was writing a note for Jasmine. Tell her about how boring her teacher was and how he asked questions then answered them himself like he was having a conversation. She started to write about how cute Weston’s dimples were when he smiled. She had always noticed but it wasn’t until now she felt Jasmine would agree instead of laugh at her.

Mid-sentence her pencil started bending. Lifting her hand up it fell around the tips of her fingers. Puddled on her desk she tried poking at it and the gel-like substance moved around her finger then filled back up when she lifted her hand. Looking up she noticed everyone’s faces were drooping like they were about to drip off their faces. Paralyzed she froze. The desk began to liquify, the legs twirling against her legs bringing her down to the floor.

“Charlene Grace.” The teacher commanded; even though she corrected him during roll call telling him she goes by Charlie, she always did.

Shaking her head she helped herself off the floor to sit on her sturdy chair. The class erupted in laughter as she struggled to get up and open her eyes wider. Had she fallen asleep or imagined it all?

“A raised hand would be adequate.” The teacher responded over the loud noises and called everyone to order.

Unedited mini series by B. Mauritz.

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Project E.D.E.N at Marietta Book Exchange Event

Project E.D.E.N. by B. Mauritz at Book Exchange

Public speaking is my least favorite activity but when it comes to letting people know you have a book worth captivating their attention, well you put all your petty fears aside. It’s not like stage fright has killed anyone, right?

This past Thursday I spent the evening at a local bookstore where I got to raise awareness on my first book and th
e pending series I am working on in the background. Book events are exactly what you would think. A great experience to get to know your local authors, buy books and get them signed, and participate in giveaways.

This was my first event where I got to speak and though it was scary I was very happy to have the privilege of going first. I tried to think of all the right things to say about a book series and make my audience aware of where the first book took place. I can only hope I sent out the right message. Of course as I do more of these events I will get more comfortable with talking about my work.

Public speaking is something I’ve been doing quite often over the past several years in my day job, but it’s different. I am telling an audience about services my company offers and I can detach myself. This is completely different with my book. My book is very personal and self-criticism is something I am learning to distract myself to provide a better delivery. Practice in the end will make it sort-of perfect, because nothing is.

Things I recommend taking to an event if allowed:

  • Your books (duh)
  • Business Card (I made business bookmark cards)
  • Brochure or Author one pager (I made a brochure telling them about myself, my book, why I wrote it, and the series)
  • Author sign-up sheet
  • Giveaway with raffle
  • Decorations that make sense; especially table-cloth

If you are a reader I definitely suggest staying touch with your local books stores events on their websites. For authors I would recommend speaking at one of these events as often as possible. It is a great place to meet fellow authors and interested readers you would have never had the opportunity to meet on your own.

I have to thank my friend, @kjbetareading for keeping me posted on upcoming events in our area and to Marietta Book Exchange for hosting a wonderful evening. I was able to make contacts with other authors like Sherri JohnsonLinda Sands, Marsha Cornelius, Brenda Sutton Rose,  Mary Anne Edwards, and many others.

Know Your Target Audience

Target_audience

Writing a book requires a lot of attention and focus well before we start to write and continues after long after it is done. It is easy to write a book but it is much harder to sell your book if you don’t keep your target audience in mind. Before you begin to write you should consider your target audience and whether your book fits them and their culture. Then you have to consider whether your genre also fits your target audiences interest.

I have always been fascinated with science fiction and fantasy books. Outside of genre I found the books I was most interested in reading were Young Adult. I was then able to use the right language and style of writing for my ideas to make since to my audience, the young adult. Writing toward their perspective was entertaining and flowed very easily from my thoughts to the keyboard. Once you find the genre and the age group of people who will fit as your average customer/fan base then it is time to think more about their interest and how you can find ways to get your book in their hands.

If it isn’t as easy for you to think of your target audience ask yourself several questions:

  1. Who can read/buy books? Gender, Age, Income, Education…
  2. Who can use/read your book?
  3. Who are your Influencers? (People who self-promote you)
  4. Which format do they want? Paperback, Hardcover, Ebook, Audio…
  5. What are they normally buying and where?

If number 1 to 2 is a blank thenI suggest moving your pen to another piece of paper and consider it further before you write or publish your book.  All of these questions are very important for promoting and selling your book to the right audience but it’s also important to make sure the language you use and your examples within the text are relatable to the majority of people you write for.

Appeal to their interest and needs from the beginning of the publishing phase by picking a title that resonates and catches their attention. Choose a cover they can see ten feet away that makes them wonder what’s inside and tailor your book’s message. Steps 3 and 5 are important because it shows you where you and your books should be and how they can get them.

Inspired by Publish 15 workshops.

Blogging to Create Waves – Publish 15

Hosted by:

Pubish15

Shari-Stauch-e1429909968855

Shari Stauch Creator, Where Writers Win

Blogging to Create Waves was the third workshop I walked into at Publish 15.  Feeling enthusiastic to get my feet back in the game on social networking I learned a lot from this workshop but mostly reaffirmed I was on the right path, I just need to be consistent. Below are a few things I learned from Shari Stauch with WWW.

Rules of Engagement:

  • Who are you?
  • What are you doing?
  • Why you’re doing it?
  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • Be passionate about it.

DO:

  • Include link, photos, and videos.
  • Edit your posts.
  • Set regular schedules.
  • Share often.

Don’t:

  • Engage with trolls (people who criticize you and/or your work who thrive to get a response from you).
  • Set unreasonable expectations.
  • Blog with addresses you don’t own.

How often should you blog? (In General) Facebook once a day. Tweet 3 times a day.

What to blog about:

  • Start with Attention titles: Provocative questions, #’s like 5 things you need to know about…
  • Path to Publishing
  • Relevant Issues
  • Traveling
  • What’s on your nightstand.
  • Blog community exchange.
  • Scenes from the cutting room (unpublished pieces).
  • Advice
  • Book reviews in similar genre.

How to Grow Audience.

  • Guest Blogs
  • Social Media
  • Link Blogs
  • Install Blog Feed on Sites.

Sources

Do you have any advice to share on blogging and using social media?

Stay posted for the next weeks blog on Publish 15 about Target Audiences.

Write In Style – Publish 15

Pubish15

Bobbie Christmas

Hosted by: Bobbie Christmas Editor & Author, Zebra Communications

Attending my second class I was feeling good about my past decisions after Go Big or Go Indie, now I had to learn how I could be better than my past.

Write in Style was hosted by an energetic editor and author Bobbie Christmas. She has been editing for more than 40 years. After hearing her presentation I instantly thought about some obvious mistakes I and most authors (even the famous ones) make when writing. Interested in making myself the best possible writer for my style I purchased her book Write in Style. She just republished it this year so stay tuned when it is available for purchase on her website. Below I have outlined the important lessons I learned in her workshop leading me to needing this book!

  • Start with the End in mind. Why are you writing this?
  • Set Goals & Deadlines. 
    • This normally is easy for me. My current career outside of writing is all about setting achievable goals and due dates. Normally I have others holding me accountable at my day job outside myself. Writing is a solo career, publishing may be different, so it is all about self-motivation. Since I have not been doing a great job by myself on setting deadlines I have decided to start keeping a daily tracker of my writing and book pursuing habits. Now the world can judge my baby steps. Each day I post a quote to describe my day and what I did or didn’t accomplish. My goal is to write/edit 1000 words of my current rough draft for Book 2 and finish it by 8/17/15.
  • Mind Dump – First Draft lay it all on the table, don’t go back to edit just keep writing until it is all over. Remember you are writing for your target audience. 
  • Editing. Remove more than you put into it. Avoid:
    • Adverbs & Adjectives. At times theycan be short-term friends but only at times.
      • I.E. slowly walked traded for sauntered (stronger verb)
    • Weak Verbs. To be, were, be, am, being, get/got, do (weakest), make, began.
    • -ing words.
    • Repetition. Most common overused word As.
      • Find repetitive words by using the find tool (CTRL + F or Command + F) Put a space before and at the end of the word you are looking for. I.E. _as_
    • Wordy Phrases. Down, up, in order to, all at once, all of a sudden, at that moment, at that point, without warning, just, just then.
    • Undefined Pronouns. There was, there were, there are, it was, it is.
    • Dangling Modifiers. often, start, with, -ing.

This class was a real eye opener of the common mistakes writers make without even being aware. When you are writing your draft it shouldn’t be bogged down by what you should and shouldn’t do. As long as you know how this will all end, you have set goals to get there, and you know your target audience then you have finished a book. Next you have to kill your little darlings. These tips she showed us in the workshop were just the beginning. Some of these tips I wouldn’t have understood until she showed her examples. Once I finish writing my second book I am going to binge read her book and wear out the Finder tool on my document.

Visit Zebra Editor and join their newsletter. Hopefully she won’t find too many editing mistakes on this blog lol.

What editing and writing in style tips do you have?

Review: Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

file_172681_0_pride_prejudice_and_zombies

One of the first novels I ever read was Pride and Prejudice. This was an easy must read for me because I am a huge fan of the zombie revolution. It was an obvious pick but after I read the book I found they had made more differences with their changes than I had first anticipated.

From my understanding the writing would lightly be touched in this transitioning story from the calm rhythm to the slaying type. The intention was to input passages about zombies and any attitudes or details needed to intertwine the story together with a new layer. It reminded me of watching Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer, which I thought at first would be a stupid movie only to find it was quite enjoyable and their twist to history made the idea captivating. If Abraham Lincoln can slay vampires then why can’t Elizabeth Bennet slice her blade through the decrepit zombie necks desiring a bite of her tasty brain.

Overall it was quite enjoyable. The zombies were the originals I remember seeing in the basement with my poppy when he watched scary movies all night. I would stay up late with him to catch a glimpse of the world he liked to view when he wanted to escape from reality. These zombies were definitely the dead kind, dead for a long time. The ones decayed with rotting flesh and yellowed skulls crawling their way out of the dirt. They didn’t have super speed or a need to eat the flesh. They were dumb enough, distracted by cauliflower because somehow it look similar enough to brains in their eyes.

The relationships stayed the same in the story with a few exceptions where several things bothered me. This book is my favorite and I was looking for an interesting twist but I didn’t like how the writer portrayed characters in ways I wish I could remove from my mind. Too much personal defection and demoralizing further in the mentalities of those we already knew were of poor character. All in all some of the people were picked on a bit much more than I would prefer.

The thing I disliked the most was how the Bennet’s received their training. Back then it took a lot to travel by carriage to get to a friend’s house fifty miles away. Yet somehow they trained in China and others trained in Japan. I especially find this out of character for all the Bennet’s to get this training considering the original book’s Lady Catherine helps point out the Bennet parents lack of educating their daughters in many ways from writing to playing….so how is this any different. Regardless of danger. Back then it would be normal for men to do the slaying than woman so why are so many woman slayers? I thought it would’ve been better for Elizabeth as a skilled killer to further show she marches to her own drum and is ahead of her time. Everyone doing it…..while then Elizabeth isn’t so special.

Overall I think it is hard to read a book you love with an alternate thought process trying to change things while making them the same. I enjoyed it but I also would have preferred reading the original just as much. I did watch Pride & Prejudice after reading the book.

Go Big or Go Indie – Publish 15

Pubish15

Go Big or Go Indie: Traditional vs. Self-Publishing

Post inspired by: 

Bennett-Coles-e1429909954126

@BennettColes Publisher & CEO, Promontory Press, Author

Jonathan-FRENCH-e1429910231191

@JFrenchAuthor Author, Autumn’s Fall Saga

Laura-McNeill-e1430166138143

@LauraMcNeillBks Author, Center of Gravity

This past weekend I went to the first annual Publish 15 workshop. They hosted 5 workshops a day to sharpen your skills from writing to networking and hosted classes on traditional publishing and self-publishing. During breaks we were able to visit the Exhibition Hall which hosted a variety of vendors from Authors to Publishing Companies and Printing and more. Several booths were doing giveaways, free headshot, and other items. It was a lot of fun. If you’re interested in widening your knowledgeable on writing and publishing or perhaps landing a deal by pitching to Literary Agents then stay posted for Publish 16 in the future. The below are notes I took from my experience and the learned experience of those that hosted the workshop. Below is the first Workshop I attended Saturday morning and to the side are the inspiring Panel:

 

Traditional Publishing has not changed much with advancement of technology. I like to call it winning the book lottery, if your work really does have the chance. This process is all about pitching your book to the right person at the right time.

  • Finished Manuscript.
    • Advice: Get plenty of honest friends, acquaintances and an editor to review it. An editor can really be worth the money to make sure your work shines. Find reputable editors through the Association of Free Lance Editors.
  • Query Letter. 
    • You will most likely be writing this pitch on you and your book to get a Literary agent. To view Query letters I recommend Shark Query. This team will pick Queries to review and edit then post them online. You can learn from advice they have given others and you can submit yours for possible selection. Follow them at @QueryShark.
  • Literary Agent. 
    • The literary agent is your connector to the publishing house. They have relationships built with many houses and are able to use their energy and resources to give your book the change to land a deal.
    • Search for a Literary Agent that fits you and your books needs and interests. Don’t just apply to anyone. Research their interest and background. Engage with them on any of their social networks. If you feel they are a good fit then send your Query Letter. Some may want parts or more of your book emailed.
    • To see a list you should get the following book often published yearly: Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents
  • Finances. 
    • With traditional publishing you will get an advance and there will be a standard royalty for your work. Of course the newer you are the less likely it will be a large advance.
    • Often authors choose to put the money straight into marketing. @LauraMcNeillBks recommend investing in a Publicist.
  • Advantages: 
    • If you land a deal you will be able to focus more on writing, social networking, and marketing while the business and publishing process is primarily handled by your Literary Agent and Publisher. You will have a house backing your work up and making it a stronger platform to get your books in the stores and out to the people.
  • Disadvantages: 
    • Pursuing this process is going to lead to early rejection before your work is in the public eye. Just remember, even Stephen King was rejected 30 times for Carrie. Click this link to view some of the FAMOUS books rejected.
    • You will have to give up your work and they often have more control on artwork, marketing, distribution and say when it will be released and if they will continue to keep your book in print.

Self-Publishing is when you choose to publish a book by using publishing services requiring you to pay up-front.

  • Finished Manuscript.
    • Same advice as I gave for traditional publishing.
    • After my last review, and those of my choosing I like to have a beta reader review my workbecausetheyaremore objective.
      • Find them on Goodreads. They are often people who just love to read and are possibly your target audience if you did your research on them. Most are free and some who pay more attention to detail and grammar cost a small amount in comparison to an Editor.
      • My favorite beta reader is @KJBetaReading. She will read your first chapter and edit it for no charge so you can make a decision to get the full book looked at for a very reasonable price.
  • Editor.
    • Same advice as I gave for traditional publishing.
    • It is ABSOLUTELY necessary to do otherwise your books will be torn apart by your audience for small mistakes an Editor would have found. Make sure it is someone reputable and reasonable.
  • Artwork. 
    • Don’t go cheap. This has to be amazing and match your books concept. People will often buy a book or learn more about it due to the cover.
  • Finances. 
    • Determine your publishing route.
      • I go through BookLogix. They did my editing, artwork, all the business things like copyrighting and serial numbers, distribution to all the major ebook stores. and they even invited me to Publish 15. If you search for publishing services do your research and make sure they are reputable.
      • Or you can publish with Amazon on CreateSpace.
    • You will be paying up front so it’s time to save or get a good loan if it’s worth it. If you are good at marketing and need to get some more money to reach your goals I would suggest a KickStarter campaign.
  • Marketing
    • You are your only backer unless you get the word out and find promoters or higher a marketing service or Publicist.
    • Become good friends with social networking and start early. Don’t wait for your books release.
  • Advantages.
    • You are in full control. You choose who you want to work with and what is worth paying for as well as getting higher royalties for your product.
    • If you have a good platform and become successful or the right eye catches your work you can still land a traditional deal for your current or future work and you may have more bargaining power on your negotiations.
  • Disadvantage. 
    • You are in full control so now you own the business and it is up to you to motivate yourself everyday when everything stacks against you.
    • You have to budget and perhaps you may find yourself waiting to take the next step.

All three of the speakers to this workshop started out or still are successful at self-publishing their books. All in all getting a book published can be done whether on your own or with the help of others. Good luck. Stay posted for future blogs reviewing my Publish 15 experience. Does anyone out there have advice on the subject of Go Big or Go Indie? Have you made this choice before? Or are you considering which road to take?