The Writing Life- May 19 plus a pretty exciting announcement.

So, I had an aha moment this past week.  I realized that I’m doing a lot of good things to help set myself up as a full time writer.  I have a few e-books in the works. I’m very nearly done with my first novel, Broken Patterns.  I was published twice last year.  I’ve got this awesome site right here that helps me meet and interact with so many other like minded people.

But I didn’t have any real, tangible step by step goals to quitting my day job, and becoming a full fledged full time writer.  My plan, so far, has been ‘write, edit, submit, repeat.’

That’s a great basis, but I need something more.  I realized that I couldn’t visualize what it would take for me to be comfortable leaving the day job and writing full time.  How would I ever know if I was making enough to insure we weren’t going to starve to death?  Writing isn’t a guaranteed paycheck, what if something happened, and I lost all of our income?

The answer came back to Dave Ramsey.  Have you heard of him?  I love the guy.  He’s got the best, most down to earth and easy to follow money advise of anyone, ever.  Have you heard of his debt snowball plan?  It’s awesome!

I decided that the first step down the path of being a full time writer was planning to fail.  I needed to achieve the first three parts of Dave Ramsey’s baby steps.

  1. Save $1,000 in an emergency fund.
  2. Pay down debt with the debt snowball method.
  3. Put 3-6 months worth of bills and expenses in saving.

That’s step one.  I can’t even think about quitting my job until I’ve done those three things.  Well, two things, actually.  Fortunately I’ve managed to live debt free.  My savings, however, is nothing.  Not a dime.

So, while I’m saving my pennies, here are some other things I’m doing to prepare for full time writer-hood.

  • I’m finishing Broken Patterns.
  • I’m setting specific work hours every week, and sticking to them the same way I stick to my day job hours.
  • I’m considering other revenue streams, like ads on this blog, super sweet writing tools I can create, and investing.

So I was thinking, maybe this might be something that we could do together.  I’m starting a newsletter for writers who want to start writing full time, but don’t know how feasible it’s going to be.  If you want to come along, and share your story as you go, please sign up for the newsletter below.

Subscribe to our mailing list

I’ll be sending out a letter probably about once a month, so please don’t feel like I’m going to flood your inbox.  Please, I do not have the time.  However, I think you’ll be pretty excited about what you do find in the newsletter when it comes out.  Here are just a few awesome things I have planned.

  • Even more paying freelance markets than I post on Paper Beats World.
  • Some money saving tips, because frugality is a step on the path to full time writer-hood.
  • Some links to posts from other sites that helped me out on the path.
  • And, once I get to the point where I’m selling my e-books and writing tools, you’ll get heads up, pre-ordering, freebees and discounts.

It’s been really exciting for me to have a clear, attainable goal.  I hope that it is for you, too.

Things That Rocked This Week-

  • I finished up a new piece to send to Every Day Fiction.  Hoping that ends well.
  • Wrote the rough draft for my Second Hand Smoke piece.  It was really hard to write, I don’t mind telling you.  But I feel better having written it.
  • Also wrote a clever piece for the Stingy Jack Anthology I told you about last Friday.  I think it’s a solid piece.

Things That I’m Looking Forward to This Week-

  • The Tipsy Writer twitter chat is tonight, and every Tuesday night at 8:30.  Just follow The Tipsy Writer on twitter, and join us.  Hope to see you there.
  • I got a ton of books off Amazon by some super fantastic indie authors.  I’m going to read them, and tell you all about the good ones in coming Check This Out posts.  There are so many great indie books out there, and so many that make me want to slap the authors for making the rest of us look bad.  I want to tell you more about the good ones.

So, what did you do this week?  What are you pumped about?

Geography, Maps and Weather, and How They Effect Your Story

It was a dark and stormy night. The sun was shining in the sky and the birds were singing. The mountains loomed in the distance.

If you start reading a book with any of this information, you probably have some idea what kind of story it’s going to be. Your geography and weather have a huge impact on your story.

Or at least, it should. Here’s a handy list of ways to work weather and geography to your advantage.

Set The Mood

A story told about a dark night,in which the rain is hitting the windows like so many stones, so hard that your antagonist believes that it might shatter, sets the reader up for certain expectations. It is probably not a happy tale.

But then, it might be. Maybe the fury of the storm matches her passion for her lover. Or maybe she must go into that storm to visit her dying mother. Either way, the rain helped to set the mood. It would have been a different scene if the sun had been shinning.

Abundance, or lack, of food

Depending on your story, how much food is available might be a huge plot point. Maybe your character has been left alone, with nothing but a gun. In the forest, with the right kind of character, that might be just fine. In the mountains, maybe less so. In the desert that poor sucker is screwed.

Or maybe your setting your story in a small fishing town. The fish are migrating away because the waters are getting colder. Maybe there are no good farming lands, and this country has to trade heavily with other countries.

Battle

If you are writing about a war zone, you need to know the lay of the land. More importantly, your character does, or at least someone in charge does. It is vital for battle strategy to know where the high ground, low ground and nearest water supply is.

Plot twists

Plot bunnies abound! If you are stuck in your plot, send a big rain storm that washes up some evidence of wrongdoing. Need more action, tornado. More tension, let’s have a flood.

And finally, maps. You need two.

Yes, two. One is for you, to give you an idea of where your important places are, what they’re geography is,and how long it will take for your characters to get from point a to b.

If you write fantasy, you need a nice map too. For the inside cover. If you’re going the traditional route, the publisher might do this for you. If you’re self publishing, do not skip this step. Fantasy readers have come to expect this. Don’t disappoint them, most of them have replica swords.

Writing Prompt Saturday, Favorite food

Remember how I like food?  It’s kind of my thing.  But it is not just me.  Food is a really important part of every country.

So for today, let’s free write about the most popular food in your country.  What does it taste like?  Why is it so popular?  Most important, how does your main character feel about it?

What I’m reading, May 2015

Don’t forget to check out the other fine blogs that participate in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s online book club here.

So I just downloaded a metric ton of indie e-books, which I will be ploughing through over the next few months. If I like them, you’ll hear about them. If I don’t, I’ll spare the author my disdain.

Before I did that, though, a lovely friend from my day job loaned me Insurgent, the second in the Divergent series.

I’m not done yet, but I really love it so far. The discription of the people in the different factions is just so enthralling. Like everyone else, I have to play ‘what faction would I be?’ Well, not Candor or Abdication, that’s for sure. Maybe Erudite. Not Dauntless, I’m too lazy.

When I was in high school I had a great teacher who said that the curse of reading too much is that eventually you know what’s coming in every book. That goes double for writers, because we know all the tricks from plot bunnies to guns on the mantle that must go off. So when I say that this book has kept me guessing, understand how impressed by that I am.

If I could ask it of you, if you haven’t seen the movie and haven’t read the book, please read the book first. For the sake of our people, please. But do, for your own sake, read this book.

Market- How To Trick The Devil

Do you know the story of how Jack O Lanterns were invented?  There’s a lot of them, actually, but here’s the new one.  A drunk named Stingy Jack made a deal with the devil for one more drink.  The devil turns onto a coin, but Stingy Jack put him in his pocket with a cross, trapping him.

I love trickster stories.  That’s why I’m so excited to find the How To Trick the Devil Anthology, thanks to the awesome Stephanie Buosi, who’s blog you can find here.   She also happens to be the one editing it.

Genre-  Fantasy, but with a specific theme, of course.  Your story should have a hero tricking someone to get out of a tricky situation, or to gain the upper hand.  Whether they get a happy ending or not is up to you.

Word Count- 3,000 limit

Sub date-  They’ll keep taking submissions until they’ve got enough for the anthology.  So, the earlier the better, I’d say.

Wait time- Roughly two to three weeks.

Payout- Publication, and royalties.

I’m excited about this one.  let me know if you have any luck, and I’ll post you in the monthly brag board.  I’ll probably also read you, because not only do I intend to submit a story, I intend to buy this book as soon as it’s done.

Check This Out- Marketing Creativity

I mean honestly, who’s not going to love a blog with a name like that, right?  Marketing Creativity is yet another amazing blog about creative business and how to rock it.  It’s for people like you and me, but it’s also for anyone who wants to start their own business in the creative field.  And let’s be honest, no matter what kind of business you’re talking about, there’s going to be a whole lot of creativity.  You’re building something brand new, after all.

Now, if you read Check This Out every week, I’m sure you’ve noticed a trend.  I follow a lot of creative business people.  There’s a reason, I’m a business woman.  Not one that makes any money, but hey, baby steps.  But you might be asking yourself, what’s the difference?  Why do I read so many different blogs about the exact same topic?  Well, each one is a little different.  Marketing Creativity, well, it’s right there in the title.  This site helps me learn about marketing in a not sleazy way.

You know what I mean.  There are helpful marketing strategies, and then there are evil, annoying marketing strategies.  Now, my basic business model is give a lot of advice and tips for nothing at all + eventually make some tools for a little bit of money if I think it’s something that will help you and I would buy myself + write fiction e-books that I sell myself and pray like hell people like.  Ethical business practices are kind of a must with that sort of model, when the focus is on helping you.  So when I do marketing, it needs to be not sleazy.

It also needs to not be annoying.  Like I mentioned, I’m on a lot of blogs.  They all, all, have ads.  I have ads, look at the links on the right hand side.  But there are some sites that I’m just not going to anymore, because they’ve got pop ups that I have to click away before I can read, or ads in between the paragraphs of the post.  Marketing Creativity has helped me lean there is a world of difference between the two.

Three blog posts to see-

  • Handle The Haters In Three Easy Steps
  • 5 Surprising Reasons Customers Aren’t Buying
  • 5 Steps to Staying on Track in Creative Business

And if you don’t think you’ve got to think about marketing, consider this; even if you get your book traditionally published, chances are your publisher won’t do a lot of marketing on your behalf.  It might still fall to you, the writer, to market your book on social media and your author website.  So check out Marketing Creativity, and be ready to sell your work when the time comes.

The Writing Life, May 12

So, some of you might have noticed that around January, my name changed.  You might have guessed that it was because I got married.  Let me tell you, changing my name across all social media was a huge pain in the ass.  I am still seeing my maiden name popping up in a few places.  Hopefully I’ll have it eradicated soon.

I didn’t think about this decision a lot until I was listening to a podcast from All Indie Writers.  The host, Jennifer Mattern, was talking about branding yourself as a writer, when she mentioned that this name that we knew her by was her maiden name.  She didn’t go by her married name in her public life.

Now, before I go any farther, I am not, in any way saying that that’s a bad thing.  I just realized that it was a choice that she’d made, and it was a choice that I made.

My maiden name was something that I associate with my past.  And my past is not so great.  I’ve got three published pieces under Nicole Ford, and a whole lot of emotional baggage.

Luttrell is a name I chose when I agreed to marry my husband.  It’s his, but now it’s mine, too.  Anything I publish from now on, even down to the posts here on Paper Beats World, will have that name on it.  Nicole Luttrell.  It represents the creation of a family I chose, of a future I chose, and a life I chose.  (Que Let it Go here.)  It represents my present, and my future.  It wasn’t a choice made from some patriarchal guilt.  It is me, declaring myself to be a different person than the one I was years before.  I love that.

So, about the writing, which is what you come here to hear about, after all.

Things That Rocked This Week-

  • My blog feed has been blowing up with some great inspirational pieces from some amazing entrepreneurial ladies.  ByRegina, Elle & Co, Tipsy Writer, I’ve been loving them all.  And I’ve got so many new ideas, I’m having a hard time deciding what to work on next.
  • I got the opportunity to join in with Tipsy Writer’s weekly twitter chat, and meet some awesome new creative people.  It’s every Tuesday at 8:30, and if you’re not already following her on twitter, go do it now.
  • I am pumping out some awesome short fiction, and I am ready to get back in the game.  Glimmer Train’s deadline for the quarter is coming up on May 31, and I think my piece should be ready in time.

Things I’m looking forward to this week-

  • This is the week of editing.  I’ve got some pieces I’ve got to take a red pen to, and that’s always satisfying.
  • Still plugging away at the fourth draft of Broken Patterns.  But my lovely hubby installed Drop Box on everything we own, so I can share it with him as I’m writing, being my own live in editor as he is.
  • I am very close to finishing the prep work for the super fantastic surprise I have for you all in August!  Are you curious yet?  I can not wait to tell you all about it.  It’s like waiting to give my kids their Christmas presents, I swear.
  • I’ve got some time put aside this week to work on your special gift this month.  It’s something new, something I’ve never done before, and I’m a little anxious, not gonna lie.

What’s going on in your world this week?  Let me know in the comment section below!

Making Your Very Own Months, Dates and Years For Your Fantasy World

Confession time again. This is becoming a regular thing. I forgot all about making anything calendar related until the third draft of Broken Pattern. I didn’t even, (sob) have a time line. But I am better now, and I am ready to help you avoid my terrible mistake.

Now, you could take the easy route. You can just use normal dates and days of the week, the same ones we use in the real world. But it’s not the same. Its all about the suspension of disbelief. You can be talking about dragons and magic, and your readers will accept these things. But if you ask them to accept that these things are happening on something so common as a Thursday, that might throw them.

Are you ready to make your very own calendar? Then let’s get started.
* Consider what sort of weather your country has. People generally make calendars based on things like farming and the weather.
* What kind of people live in your country? Do they farm? Do they have special feasts days? Is there one day of the week that means something special to them?
* When I was making my months, I based them on the moon phases. Think about how your people know that another month has gone past.
* Or not. You don’t have to have months, after all. Remember, you can make up whatever you like, you don’t have to go by any of the normal rules. For instance, I made the first month of the year in the spring. It’s always made more sense to me than having the year start in the dead of winter.

Now, here are a couple things you want to remember when making your own calendar.
* Holidays. They’re important, and every society has them.
* What sort of chores are traditional for each season?
* How many seasons does your world have?
* What’s your main character’s birthday? In their society, what does that say about them?
* What sort of food is traditional in each season? Yes, everything comes back to food with me, why do you ask?

Making up your own calendar for your fantasy series may seem like a small detail. But it’s not. It makes your world feel more like a real world. It helps your reader feel like they’re living in your world. And when you’re writing fantasy, that’s pretty much the jackpot.

Writing Prompt Saturday, Write a Ekphrasis Poem

Here again, we come to what has to be my favorite post, and I think it’s yours, too.  This week, we’re talking about ekphrasis poetry.

Don’t be intimidated.  It’s a really big, hard to pronounce word that really just means a poem in which you describe something.  It was started in Greece, by no other great poet than Homer.  He wrote about the Shield of Achilles, which such depth of detail and an ear for lyrical writing.  Anything that Homer does is pure gold, and this is just one more thing we’ve got to thank him for.  I mean, who else from that age are people still reading and enjoying?

Here’s an example from the master.  I couldn’t hope to come up with something as cool as this.

“And first Hephasestus makes a great and massive shield, blazoning well-wrought emblems all across its surface, raising a rim around it, glittering, triple-ply with a silver shield-strap run from edge to edge and five layers of metal to build the shield itself.”

Gorgeous isn’t it?  I’m not the only one who fan girls about Homer, am I?  So this week, your writing prompt is to write an Ekphrasis poem.

Market- Horror Tree

You know I’m a sucker for horror short fiction. Here’s one that really caught my attention, called The Horror Tree. Here’s what they’re looking for, from the site itself; Tacitus Publishing’s 2015 anthology project is – HAUNTED BY THE PAST. We are looking for short fiction that pays tribute to some of the past greats – M. R. James, Algernon Blackwood, Sheridan Le Fanu. The story should be a ghost story that carries the tone, stylistic language, and/or classic story structure.

Genre- Horror Fiction
Word Count- 1,500 to 5,000
Sub Date- August 31
Wait Time- Sometime after August 31.
Payout- 1 cent a word

Check out the site, because there’s some tricky bits about formatting that you’ll need to observe. And, fair warning, you’ll be up against yours truly, because I just can not pass this one up.

Have any luck with this market, or any other? Let me know for the monthly brag board, posted on the last day of every month.

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