The Turtle Will Write

The Turtle Will Write

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Covers, Fonts and Pen Names

I've flailed around for a cover idea for Daughter of Anasca for years. I have only one experience with cover creation, but it had me in tears and nearly puking on a regular basis. Praise God it lasted no longer than a typical bout of flu, or I would have died of dehydration.

No offense, Grace and Iguana. I blame myself for overreacting. I'm sure I couldn't plan a wedding, either.

As of yesterday, I have a solid cover idea to pursue. I may need to snap some pics of my own to make it work, but I'll do it.

Rick Copple shared an interesting (to me) post about how indie authors shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to cover design. I don't know who Dean Wesley Smith is, but he makes some sense, so I'm taking his advice seriously, including the part about using a different name.

Daughter of Anasca is YA. I deliberately kept it at a PG rating. I had no such restraints in Star of Justice because I wrote it for adults. Younger people read it at their own risk (not that I wrote anything you couldn't see on basic cable after 5 PM). The blog author, Dean Wesley Smith, points out that folks who like one of my books may be startled or turned off by reading something of mine in a different style or genre. Worse, a younger reader may like Daughter of Anasca and pick up Star of Justice or its potentially rougher sequels (once they're written) and freak out the parents.

I don't like the idea of a pen name, but I am thinking of using initials: R.C. Tolbert. That, plus a different cover style, which must happen because I don't have the same skill as Newsome Creative, will help differentiate my YA from my adult. Of course, since I'm thinking of publishing as Graveyard Publications, I don't know why I'm bothering to differentiate anything. You read the Turtle, you get the Turtle, guts and all.

Happy Tuesday, dear readers. Enjoy the weather. It won't last.

Monday, July 7, 2014

That Money Thing

I recently took a walk on the dreamy side imagining life where money isn't an issue. Came home this weekend.

I took the holiday to build that shelter for my blueberry plants in The Swamp. I had planned, measured, sketched and calculated until I was certain I couldn't fail. On the DIY scale, this was a 1. I bought materials and went at it.

Well, it's done, but in the process I made three trips to the hardware store, failed to anticipate the effect of the PVC elbows on the overall dimensions, and even though I thought I'd left plenty of overage, underestimated the amount of fabric I needed for the shade. So much so that I will need to make a new one that takes into account the southern exposure. In short, I made mistakes. Lots of them.

Mistakes happen. I'm not going to kill myself because my blueberry shelter isn't perfect. What I have figured out as an adult is that certain mistakes cost money. Sometimes a lot of money. If I'm not willing or able to deal with losing money to mistakes, I won't take the risks.

This is why I stopped drawing. Somewhere in college I subconsciously did the math of supplies + time = massive waste unless I'm selling or gifting the stuff, and I did neither. I can't afford piles of artwork lying around or boxes of pens and brushes that don't pay for themselves. Therefore, I don't create art (It was so simple when the folks paid for everything).

It's sad, and kinda pathetic, but there it is. I don't try more things because I can't afford the inevitable mistakes. I want that loft bed with desk, but after this weekend and my 1 that turned -1, I don't know that I can afford it. Back to the calculator.

Happy Monday, dear readers. Take your risks, if you can afford them.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

If Money Weren't An Issue

Would my life be different if money weren't an issue? I wouldn't have to be as rich as the Queen or Col. Sanders, but, you know, wealthy enough to not have that immediate dollar-shaped "stop" sign when an idea pops into my head.

1) I'd still work. I enjoy work, and I'd enjoy it a lot if I didn't have to think about how cheap my special brand of enthusiastic slave labor is. I might not work 40 hours a week, but I probably would. I get oddly upset on extended weekends.

2) I'd have a similarly sized house. Maybe a little bigger (900-1200 square feet) but nothing huge. Even the plot wouldn't be outrageous. Maybe an acre or three. Enough that my nearest neighbor can't hear my toilet flushing. I would have a different house, though, an Earthship with a cistern and solar power. Maybe some of those solar freakin' roadway panels. I could pay workmen to do stuff, so I'd have lots of built-ins, catwalks, a solarium and an atrium. Skylights would be nice. And rounded edges instead of square. Oooh, and one of those endless pool things. Those look neat.

3) I'd buy used cars. I might splurge on a work truck as a second vehicle, but it would be used. Through a dealer. I learned that lesson.

4) I'd have more cats. OK, maybe not more, but the current ones would have the best of everything. I could afford the exploratory surgery I suspect Skuttle needs because I have back-seat diagnosed her with some kind of colon issue after reading a Catnip article. I could leave food out for everybody instead of the current four feedings a day because I could afford every cat eating the same prescription cat food all the time.

5) I'd help more friends. I have so many people I wish I could slip a $100 or $500 just because they could use it. Or a $20,000 investment in a good idea (like solar freakin' roadways). They're trying so hard, but life doesn't always respect effort. It would be nice to be the generous friend. I mean, I buy a coffee now and then, but it's not the same.

6) I could support more causes. I give currently (more than 99% of Americans, apparently), but I wish I could give more to more. I have three charities I regularly support, but I wish it were five or six. I bet I could find a few more if money weren't an issue.

7) I would never get upset over money again. I hate worrying about money. It's a family habit, but when I think I won't have enough to cover whatever needs covering, I get very upset. More upset than need be, considering I'm a person who learned this year (through testimony, not experience) that utility bills come in different colors depending on how late your payment is. I didn't even know a utility payment could be late (Hate me if you must. I'm a Princess Turtle, but I do pay my own way).

8) I'd go back to school. Not for a degree. I don't ever want to do that again. But I'd love to take some vo-tech classes on electrical wiring, or woodworking, or oil painting. Or Photoshop. Maybe welding. To have money to learn something just because I want to learn it? That would be awesome.

I find these musings following me around this year. They distract me while I'm driving. They follow me into my dreams. Is this a mid-life crisis? It's a little early.

Anyhoo, now that I've written it down, I should stop thinking about it. I bet you won't. How would your life be different?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

My Best Advice

This is another post I should save for NAF, but I hate finding pics to go with topics.

Finish what you start writing. It's that simple.

I should have taken the time and energy 23 years ago to finish the stories I am trying to write today. I didn't have the discipline back then, but that would have been an excellent thing to practice, too.

When you're 19 years old, and you come up with a story idea, odds are it's going to be fairly simple. Doesn't mean it's bad. Just means it's not going to have the same kind of complexity that a writer with more life experiences can add (nothing like a job, a mortgage, and 8 mouths to feed to teach you about layers of conflict). Fewer characters. More direct, obvious plot ideas. A thick, black Sharpie line of a story. That's fine when you're 19 years old. You earn your million words of practice, so you may as well earn it finishing such ideas as jumping from idea to idea and only writing the "interesting" parts, which is what I did. That's why I have a bunch of story "fragments" I used to consider book-worthy.

Problem is, when a writer tries to take those 23 year old ideas and mold them into what she now considers "book-worthy," more often than not, they don't fit. There are some good ideas, and a dollop of passion or conflict, but she's learned that's not all that goes into a good book. They might make novellas. They might make fine short stories or chapters, but they aren't going to carry 100K words into the hearts of her fans. "A closet nerd takes an unexpected trip through time with a robot assassin" is a good elevator pitch, but if you don't have more than that to back it up, you're humped.

But what if you want your older self experience to make something great out of those old ideas? Well, good luck. I suspect if you finish them when you're young, you'll clear the way for bigger, better, more complex ideas that grow with you. Like Aslan. 

I have a lot of 23 year old story ideas, but those may not a book make. Dangling Justice is about that closet nerd, but my 19 year old self didn't know about Ah'rahk, or Caissa, or Rhami when she thought of that idea with the robot assassin. Now my 42 year old self has the job of turning a simple idea into something worth writing, and hopefully, worth reading.

Happy Thursday, dear readers.  Finish what you start writing. Words to live by.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Embrace the Angst

I should type this up for NAF, but I'm just too lazy.

I've railed for a while (two years?) about how hard writing is, how I don't know where the plot is going, how I have too many choices, blah, blah. "It's not like Star of Justice!" I whine. "Even with Elementals, I had a final scene." Boo hoo.

I want my writing process to be all clinical and rational and easily contained in my current schedule. I don't want to get obsessive, like with Star of Justice, or painful, like Elementals. I just want to sit down and write a nice, complicated, thought-provoking, rollicking ride of hilarity and bittersweet depth in an hour a day without any hitches or interruption of regularly scheduled programming.

That isn't too much to ask.

Except I don't think that's how it works for me. I think all my books will be therapy books. They will emerge from chaos, frustration and inconvenience. Creation is hard. Ask a mom in labor, if you can get that close without bodily harm.

It's like trying to garden without breaking a sweat. Rarely happens. Most times I come in looking like Sasquatch.

So I'm not going to fight it anymore. I will embrace the self-loathing, the false starts, the wrong turns and rewrites. I will stomp around and snarl at the cats. I will even stay up past 9 (gasp!) if the words start flowing at 8:30. Yeah, I might be snappy at work, but I'm back in the corner, so who cares? 

Have I resolved this before? I don't think so. This feels like a moment of clarity. Which is good, 'cause it may be the last I have for a while.

Happy Thursday, dear readers. May your day be as easy as you make it.