May 2015 Brag Board!

Welcome to the last day of the month, folks. I am so ready for June to start, it is so full of summer plans, summer fun, and oh yeah, my 29th birthday. Before we say goodbye, though, I want to take some time to celebrate May, and all the awesomeness that it held.

Our first brag is a pretty big one! Reader Deliawrites, who’s blog I also read (and has some super sweet illustrations) got her book in her local book store! I don’t know that I would have had the courage to walk in and bring that up, but wow di it work! Hop on over to her blog to say congratulations!

As for me, no publishing credits this month, sadly. But I did write and send out a whopping three short stories, which I am pretty stoked about.

What did you do this month that you are super proud of and want to share? Do we have any graduates? Let us know in the comments below!

Religion and World Building

Don’t shoot yet! Torches, down folks. I am going to talk about religion today, and there are few better ways to tempt trolls on the internet. So please, let’s keep any discussions in the comments to religion as it applies to your fiction writing only.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure before we talk about religion, I am a Unitarian Christian. That means I believe in God, and Jesus, and the virgin birth, and all that, but I’m not getting into any fights about it. God is love, no matter what someone else believes, that’s my world view. I was raised Mormon, with two Catholic great grandmothers. So that’s where I’m coming from when I talk about religion.

So, when you’re writing a fantasy novel religion is going to come up. How much it appears in your book is up to you, of course, but if your world is at all realistic, it will come up sometimes.

And that’s a good thing! Religion is, like anything else, another tool in your world building arsenal.

* It is a great source for conflict. Pretty much any book, with two people of different faiths, will have conflict, even if just a heated debate.
* Religion is the ultimate plot bunny. If one of your characters has an opinion about religion, one way or another, it will impact how she interacts with everything.
* Cursing is more fun when there’s religion involved.
* Best of all, a persons faith, or non faith, tells us about that person. How they practice their faith tells us even more.
So, when creating your religion, you should start by asking yourself three questions.

1. How much will religion impact my character?
2. How much will it impact the rest of the world?
3. Is this a world where multiple, conflicting faiths are realistic?
This will help keep your planning in check. You don’t need to know babtismal ceremonies if it’s not likely to come up much, after all. And that’s time that could go to more important things.

Now, the next question is, do you want to make your own religion from scratch, or shape it after an existing faith? There are pros and cons to each approach, of course.

Pros of existing faiths

* It saves you so much time and creative energy.
* There are set rules to most religions. That can be a whole set of plot bunnies.
* Existing faiths come with assumptions. This can be used to mislead readers, and surprise them.

* If you base your religion on an existing one, you’d better do your research. Because people will shred you if you get something wrong.
* You also need to keep in mind that, no matter what your opinion is on the faith you’re writing about, people do not agree with you. Some will disagree nicely. Some will send hate mail.
Now, I totally based my religion in Woven on a Christian set up based heavily on Catholicism. I use this to make several points throughout the book that are positive and negative. I am sort of anticipating some reactions, good and bad. That’s great, because I’ve gotten people talking. I understand that some of that talking is going to be death threats, and I’m ready for that. If you’re not, take that into consideration.

Making up your own religion pros

* It will set your world apart. It is really hard to come up with a really unique faith, and it will make you stand out.
* It is also a lot of fun. I did make my own faith for two of the countries, and I totally got sucked into writing mythology for it.

* It is really hard to not accidentally mimic existing faiths, or even mythological faiths like the Greek Pantheon.
* If you want to do it, make damn sure it is relevant to your story and worth the time. I spent almost three weeks crafting my religion, but it’s worth it because I will use it for the whole series, and it will come up a lot.
As a final word, I am a very faith based person. That has always impacted everything I have written whether I mean it to or not. I understand, though, that there are people who are atheist, agnostic, or maybe just not sure. That’s cool with me, but from that point of view, I understand how the whole subject can be tiring. If it is to you, please understand that religion does not have to be a linchpin in your story. Even if you are a faithful person you might not care to talk about it. Just understand that if you are making a world from scratch, it’s like grass. The book doesn’t have to be about it, but if it’s not there, people are going to wonder why.

Writing Prompt Saturday- Your worlds favorite author

Since we talked about literature in your world on Sunday, let’s get more specific.

Who is the most famous author in your world? What genre is most popular? Is the author a man or woman? Are they nice, fat headed? What do they look like? What’s her opinion of her fans? How do people react to her?

I had some fun with this in Woven. It actually gave me a great character that I had a lot of fun writing. Hopefully it will do the same for you.

Market, Fiction Desk

This was a fun site to find.  They are all about creating awesome anthology after awesome anthology.  I plan to being part of that.  You can be too.  I am a huge fan of short fiction, I think it’s highly underrated in this generation.

Genre–  Anything.  They emphasis good characters over good writing, which I’m all for.

Word Count- 2,000 to 20,000 word.

Sub date- There is no deadline.  It’s one of their mottos.  Huge plus for someone as super organized and great with deadlines like me.

Wait time- Three months.  Now, I have to add something here.  They will move you up in the que if you pay a nominal fee.  I am not super thrilled with that.  It’s a solid company otherwise, but this I’m not thrilled.

Payout-  £15  per thousand words plus two copies.  Not everyone’s thrilled with getting paid in pounds, but I actually really like it.  It makes me feel all international, like finding out that I have some readers in Russia.  Hi, readers in Russia, I’m glad you’re here!

Rights- This is a new installment in my market listing.  It’s something I’m considering more and more now that I’m thinking of what I want to do with a story once I sell it once.  In this case, you’re selling first serial rights, which means they have the right to publish it first, but you can do what you want with it after that.

Be sure, as always, to check full submission guidelines here.  This market requires you to use their submission form, which can only be found on their website.

Any luck with this market, or any others?  Let me know, and I’ll post it on the monthly brag board, on the last day of every month.

Check This Out- Write Naked

If the title sounds familiar, yes I did mention this site a few weeks ago on Market.  It’s a great site to submit guests posts to and get paid for it.

However, there were a lot of things I didn’t get to mention about Write Naked when I was talking about it as a freelance market.

  • Like the fact that it’s an inspiring read.
  • Like the author is an amazingly energetic woman that gets more done in a day than I do in three.
  • Like it’s a WordPress site, just like this one, and I love to talk up my brothers and sisters here.
  • And, like how the author blogs about her life, in which her day job is writing, and how she lives that awesome life we’re all working towards every day, and I love hearing those stories.

Post To Check Out-

  • We write what we read.
  • A writer welcomes chickens
  • What a Writer carries in her purse

So, if you didn’t already discover how awesome Write Naked is, check it out this week.

The Writing Life- May 26

So, something pretty awesome happened last week.  Well, it’s awesome for me.  Probably no one else will care, some might even think it’s sad how excited about this I am, but that’s okay.

At the start of 2015, I made a whole list of goals for the year.  I want to publish an e-book (still working on it)  I want to start submitting Woven to agents (still working on it)  I wanted to join writing communities online. (Done!)

All of those are what I call self controlled goals.  That means that the only person who has any say over whether they get done or not is me.  I made only one goal that I needed outside help for.  I wanted to double my readership for Paper Beats World from last year.

Last week, thanks to all of you awesome people, we reached that goal!  Twice as many people now follow Paper Beats world than in December of 2014!  I can not express enough how much I appreciate each and every one of you.  Thank you all for reading.  I hope that I might have helped you reach some of your writing goals for the year.  And, since we’ve got six more months in 2015 to go, I hope we can keep reaching for our goals together.

Things That Rocked This Week

  • Making a lot of progress on Broken Patterns.  Not done or anything yet, but I’m making progress.
  • Sent out my submission for Second Hand Smoke, and started on the title short story for my first e-book.  It’s going to be a collection of short fiction.  Some of it will be published, some not.  I’m pretty excited about it.
  • Got to spend some time with my best friend who came in from Pittsburgh.  I really wish I got to see her more, but I can at least appreciate the time I get with her.

Things That I’m Looking Forward to This Week

  • The kids have only got two more weeks of school.  Then there will me no more classes in my living room, homework to help with and all the other fuss that goes along with the school year.
  • I’m working pretty steadily through my rather massive to do list, which means I’m working closer to two rather big projects I’ll be launching for you all here very soon.
  • I’ve got just two more things to set up for the awesome surprise I’ve got for you all in August.  I think you’ll agree, it’s well worth the wait.  I wanted to wait and do it during the month of Paper Beats World’s one year anniversary.

Language and Literature in Your World

My favorite thing in the whole world is stories. All kinds of stories. Movies, books, tv shows with great plot and character growth. Urban legends, ghost stories, limericks. Any kind of story, I live for it.

I also love language. It saddens me to my core that I don’t speak more than one language, but I’m trying to fix that (I want to learn German and American Sign). But at least I speak it well. Here’s a link to Weird Al’s Word Crimes. You know you’re a word geek if you love that song.

Now, I am almost surely talking to a whole lot of people who feel the same way I do about stories and language. We are writers, after all. Words are our legos, but even better because they can’t be left on the floor to torture us on the way to the bathroom at three in the morning. They’re like play dough, but better because they don’t dry out if you leave the lid off of the container (my children!)

Language and literature are our favorite things in this world, with the possible exception of sushi. So, don’t forget to include them when you’re world building!

Including things like different languages in your world can be a huge pain, if you let it. Honestly, the pros greatly outweigh the cons with this. This is just one more great world building tool, and like any good tool, it’s got more than one use.
* It will differentiate and add texture to your different countries.
* It’s a fun challenge your character can face if she doesn’t speak the language of the country she suddenly finds herself in. Or if he doesn’t know the language of the pretty girl he wants to flirt with. Or, as I used in Broken Patterns, if he needs to learn the language of the country that he’s just found out he’s going to be king of someday. (Is it still a spoiler if the book isn’t even published?) Huge well of funny/awkward moments with that one.
* Language is also a subtle way to show us about your character. For instance, someone who is not comfortable with English will speak it very properly, and is not likely to use words like can’t or don’t, because they’re not sure of the right way to use it. Or, someone who’s been sort of speaking English all their lives might say things like “You ain’t s’possed to be doin’ none of that!” (I did not make that up. A woman said that to her son after being told that he’d misbehaved at school, right in front of me while I was picking up my kids from school one day. I thought the teachers head was going to explode.)
* How many languages are common in your country? Is there a different language used in formal settings, by one class of people? This can set the scene for you so well.

I have such a good time playing with languages while working on Woven.

Literature is a feature of world building that I think is overlooked. To fully incorporate it into your book, just ask yourself these questions.
* What do people read for pleasure?
* Is reading common among all walks of people?
* What about different styles of writing from different countries? Think about the difference between a German fairy tail, (Grimm Brothers!) and a Japanese fairy tale (The Branch of the Jewel Tree.)
* Is poetry common?
* What sort of people write? Is writing considered an honored profession, or just a step above trained seals and a step below rodeo clowns? (Points if you know what author I just referenced!)

How do you use language and literature in your writing? Do you like using meta jokes when you do? Or is it too much like looking into a mirror with another mirror behind you?

Writing Prompt Saturday- Create a Found Poem

Warning; this is not a poetry form for you if you’re not really cool with defacing old books.  This is the poetry form for you if you’re also into drawing, painting, scrap booking, or collage work.

A found poem is one that you discovered in the existing text on a page.  I think I used to do this during Science class by accident in my textbooks.  Basically, you go along, and in some way highlight the words of your poem.  Then get creative with the rest.  Here’s an example of mine.

found poem

If you can’t tell from that really bad scan job, that’s the first page of Treasure Island, and the words are, “I take up my pen in the time, and remember, in the broken voice.”

I had so much fun with this poetry form.  Fortunately I happened to have this really old Readers Digest edition of some classic stories that I intend to do this with.

Did you create a found poem you’d like to share with us?  Leave a picture in the comments below!

Markets- Over My Dead Body!

No, this is not a magazine about parenting, or tired cliches.  This is a mystery magazine that takes short fiction.  It’s clever, cute, and fun.

Genre- Fiction, Mystery and thriller.  Non fiction, reviews.

Word Count- 750-4,000

Sub date- Open to submissions year round.

Wait time- Six to eight weeks.

Payout- 1 cent per word.

Now, this magazine requires a solicitation before sending full manuscripts, so don’t send them anything without doing that first.  Here are their full submission guidelines.

Did you have luck with this market or any others?  Let me know, and I’ll include you in the monthly brag board on the last day of every month!

Check This Out, Elle & Co

I found Elle & Co on Pintrest, like I find so many other awesome things like coffee recipes and things to do with old books.  And I swear, I lost an hour just scanning through the archives.  It has, no lie, some of the best images I have ever seen.

I love this site because I learn how to be a better blogger just by watching what Lauren does.

  • The images I was talking about?  They are perfect, and have a great consistency.  They’re also super basic!  Just words in the same font, written on a plain colored background with some decorative lines.  That it, no fuss.  But they are eye catching.
  • They’re eye catching because of the content.  This site has some of the most solid advice I have ever heard about running a site, selling a product, and working your life around your work.  (Indie writer=small business owner.  I’ll keep saying it, it’s okay.)
  • Even though it’s a site dedicated to selling design work, I get a ton of inspiration.  I hope that inspiration will, among other things, lead to a super sweet cover for my e-books when they’re done.

Best of all, though, is Lauren’s really great, conversational writing tone.  She’s got a very good voice for this sort of thing, even if she doesn’t write anything but non fiction.

Posts to see-

  • 12 ways to network authentically
  • A backwards approach to product launches
  • How to create a clean and cohesive inspiration board (And here, by the way, is a great example of accidental inspiration.  I used this post to help me create visual boards in Pintrest for each of the countries in Woven.  They are public, if you want to check mine out.)
  • SEO made simple

Is there a website, blog, or book that’s inspired you.  Tell us about it.

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