Chasing Our Tails

This week has been incredibly trying, starting with a project that I’ve easily invested 20 hours of work into not wanting to cooperate. Last night by the time I got up from my computer, I just wanted to bang my head on my desk and cry. I’d spent four hours downloading and uploading and trying to learn script just to make this thing work, with nothing to show for it.

Now, as I sit here, I think I may have solved my problem, and I’m praying to all the book-gods to make this solution stick. I also happen to look over at my cat, Toby, and catch him doing this:

Cat GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

And it occurs to me that this is what I’ve felt like I’ve been doing ALL WEEK with this project. And sometimes I feel like I do this with my writing.

Sometimes, particularly when I’m stuck on a plot point, I find myself writing in circles. I want so badly to make this one thing fit. But we can’t do that to ourselves as writers. We need to be more creative than that. Sometimes those things don’t work out because there’s a better, more eloquent solution to what we’re doing.

I’ve often found that once I realize what I’m doing and stop trying to force things, it comes much easier. And, often, the idea is pretty kick-a$$! So don’t paint yourself into a corner with your work. Let it flow like it’s meant to, and don’t stress if you hit a bump. You’ll find a solution to it. We always do 🙂

 

What are some of your “tail-chasing” moments and how did you overcome them?

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My Interview with Write and Author!

This week has been totally crazy. I’ve been super busy, and yesterday was a bad day. We lost one of our horses yesterday… 😦

So for the blog, I just want to remind you guys about the contests that the deadline is April 30th, as well as some other stuff from the Wednesday News Post.

And I also wanted to share my first interview with website Write and Author!

Author E. Paige Burks

Write and Author is interviewing E. Paige Burks, author of Return to Royalty.

E. Paige Burks, budding author of The Heart of the Guardian, is a graduate from Texas A&M University with a degree in Agricultural Communication and Journalism.

Her book, Return to Royalty, won the 2016 Author U Draft to Dream Award in the Young Adult category and has been nominated for USA Best Book Awards and International Book Awards.

When she is not writing fantasy and love stories, she enjoys Mexican food, singing out loud, cuddling with her cats, and taking long naps.

E. Paige Burks lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, four dogs, three cats, three horses, and a single bird named Ricki.





Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?

I pay less attention to details and more attention to just telling the story. A lot of my earlier pieces were very wordy and flamboyant. After having attended college to be a journalist, I learned to write in more direct and succinct ways, which has really helped with the flow of my books.

Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?
I’ve had the fortune of having a professional editor look at my manuscript as part of the prize I won for Return to Royalty, but in the future I plan to pay someone to do it. I realized I missed a lot of things that the editor and proofreader caught because I know what it should say and not what it actually says.

Have you ever let any of your books stew for months or even a year?
Yes! Return to Royalty was started in 2007 when I was 17 years old. As I’ve gotten older and learned more about life, it’s made writing much easier. Return to Royalty has had many different versions and my MCs have worn many different hats over the years, but I think they’ve finally found the right niche.

What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?
Cover is absolutely the most important piece of your book. If the cover doesn’t make a reader want to look at your synopsis or thumb through the first chapter, then it’s not doing its job. There is a lot of psychology that goes into how a shopper’s brain works, and it’s interesting to me that it starts with something so basic but so crucial. I think titles should reflect the work and be a draw as well, but they’re not as important as the cover. You know, first impressions and all that.

Do you attend literary lunches or events?
I attended a conference in Denver, CO last year. It’s the first one I’ve been to and was a really great learning opportunity. I’d love to go to more in the future.

How do you market yourself and your book?
I use lots of social media. I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WordPress. A lot of indie authors have trouble engaging their followers, which seems counterintuitive. If you like my page, why don’t you like my content? But I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with this. I have also used Instafreebie to give away free copies of my book The Heart of the Guardian and I would consider that a success. I had 100 copies downloaded! I’ve just recently discovered the heaven-send that is Hootsuite. It controls when the things go where so that I don’t have to! I really like that. Frees up my time from having to post from one platform to another and forgetting about others.

Why do you write?
I write because I can’t not write. Writing and living in my imaginary headspace has become so much a part of me that it would drive me crazy if I were to ever try to stop! My characters are just extensions of me, but they feel more real than that to me. I read once that the difference between creative-types and mental patients is that creatives know they’re imagining things! From the inside it’s hard to describe and from the outside it’s hard to fathom.

How often do you write and what is your process?
I write as often as I can. I tend to have periods of time where I am more active than others, and I’ll spend weeks and months, and hours upon hours of the day, just obsessing over my ideas. I can’t be at peace until they’re written down. Then, I usually take a break and spend several weeks or more not writing at all. I don’t think that writing should be forced. You have to replenish your creative well every so often, whether it’s by reading, watching TV/movies, music, whatever. Only then can you produce anything. It’s great to practice daily, if you can, by journaling or doing writing prompts, but I don’t force myself to do this. Writing should never be a chore.

What writing advice can you give?
This seems opposite of what I said above, but write as much as you can! Write when you don’t feel like writing. Sometimes that’s the only thing that will break down any roadblocks you might encounter. Also, share your writing and don’t be afraid to ask for critiques. We can never get better if we don’t first accept that we’re not perfect. If you think your writing sucks and should be hidden forever, you’re probably doing something right. People who tout about how great their writing is are usually not very good. Just remember to be humble when you receive praise and kind when you receive criticism.

Can you create a short writing prompt?
It was a dark and stormy night, but bursts of lightning were flashing across the darkness. You blink, thinking the storm is playing tricks on your mind. A rift is beginning to open, splitting the sky.


Return to Royalty
by E. Paige Burks

Nyx Estrella is a princess from Gexalatia, a world on the other side of a portal. Unfortunately, she has no idea. Sent to Lucky, Texas, when she was a baby to protect her from the evil King Paraximus, her biggest concerns are grades and seeing her friends. She has no idea that she possesses magical abilities and that her reality is about to become really strange.

Jet Lamia is a war prisoner, sent from Gexalatia by the queen, Liana Estrella, to bring Nyx back home to the kingdom of Ymber. The portal only opens on the winter solstice, so Jet finds himself trapped on Earth, trying to blend in. Fortunately, he has help in the form of the queen’s chosen assistant, Seth Alvar. But playing well with others has never been one of Jet’s talents.

It is a race against the clock to tell Nyx her true identity and try to train her, while also keeping her alive. Nyx and Jet struggle to defeat the assassins sent to kill them both, while trying not to kill each other. Can this duo put their differences aside and return to Gexalatia?

Return to Royalty is still in the productions phase. It will be sold through IngramSpark, where it will be featured on their homepage for a week, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

E. Paige Burks
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Book Spotlight – RETURN TO ROYALTY by E. Paige Burks

My first-ever blog spotlight!! Yay! Thanks Joy! I’m so so glad you liked it!!!

Joynell Schultz

Book Spotlight (3)Novel: Return to Royalty

Author: E. Paige Burks

Genre: Urban Fantasy / PNR / New Adult

How I found this book: The author of Return to Royalty and I mutually follow each other’s blogs and we both published our Fantasy novels at the same time. It seemed only right to take a look. (Plus, I loved the cover.)

Amazon book description:

RTR

Nyx Estrella is a princess from Gexalatia, a world on the other side of a portal. Unfortunately, she has no idea. Sent to Lucky, Texas, when she was a baby to protect her from the evil King Paraximus, her biggest concerns are grades and seeing her friends. She has no idea that she possesses magical abilities and that her reality is about to become really strange. Jet Lamia is a war prisoner, sent from Gexalatia by the queen, Liana Estrella, to bring Nyx back home to the kingdom of…

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Writing Tip: Cutting Pesky Adverbs

I’m guilty of using too many adverbs as well, just like the rest of us!

Joynell Schultz

WRITING TIP_

I love beta reading a good story, and I’ve done a lot of it in the past  year. From the first page of a story, I can tell a new writer from one that’s more experienced by a handful of things I read. One of them is adverb use.

I think everyone knows what an adverb is…but as a refresher, it’s a word used to modify a verb, adjective, or another adverb. Usually it is a descriptor clarifying How, How Often, When, or Where. What does that mean? Many adverbs don’t end in the hallmark -ly, but most of them do, like happily, softly, quickly, etc. that changes the meaning of the verb. Examples:

  • spoke softly
  • walked quietly
  • Easily avoided a punch
  • Quickly ran away
  • Deadly gaze

So, what’s wrong with adverbs? While I’m reading, these -ly adverbs makes my brain halt while I change my…

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The Surprise!

So this week in my Wednesday News post I mentioned a surprise! And this post is it!

I went to Dallas Fan Expo over the weekend and I was struck with an idea. Actually, my fabulous hubs, who knows the deepest little desires of my heart, suggested this idea. Are you dying to know what it is??

I’m making custom armor! And not just any armor, but armor based on characters from the sequel to Return to Royalty!

As you guys know by now, I’m a very visual person. I like to have things to look at when I’m thinking about my story. So making armor only made sense, and why not make armor that I can wear to future comic cons?

So the first step was to find a how-to because, let’s face it, I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to most things. I found The Evil Ted Channel and this video that talks about making foam armor. So I went through my kitchen cabinets and hit the dollar store, Lowe’s and Five Below. $30 later, I had all the pieces I needed to get started!

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Things you need:

Duct tape, foil, parchment paper (or butcher paper), a box cutter, an X-acto knife, a black Sharpie, glue, a cutting board, and the foam. The hair dryer is to heat the pieces to make them curve, but a heat gun is much better. It worked for the most part (and I didn’t want to spend $$ on a heat gun) but I think higher heat would have been better.

Step 1:

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Make your head form!

So ideally you want one of these, but I didn’t have one, so I used my own head. It was fine, but I definitely needed an extra set of hands. You want to use the foil to coat your head/plastic head form so that when you put your duct tape over it the duct tape doesn’t stick to anything other than the foil. This is important because this is going to be your pattern and you need to be able to lift it off easily.

 

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You want to make sure your tape is fairly smooth, and you don’t want to use too many layers of tape or foil because you’re going to have to cut it. This was the part where I definitely could have used another set of eyes. Since the form needed to wrap around my whole head, I couldn’t really see what I was doing.

 

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Finally, it was done! Be sure you draw your face-hole shape. Getting the nose part to line up with my nose was tricky because I had to form the foil to my face and slip the mold off and hope I drew my lines in the right place. I highly recommend a plastic head form or borrow your friend’s head. Make sure you can see what you’re doing.

 

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Mine came out a little pointy-er on the crown, but I attribute that to my hair. Also, I couldn’t see what I was doing… 🙂

 

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This is just a shot of the inside so you can get an idea of the foil with the tape on top.

Step 2:

 

Start cutting! Cut out your face hole. Make sure your pieces line up where they’re supposed to.

 

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You want to draw your cut lines before you start cutting. Make your first one down the middle, and make your second one down the middle of the eyehole area. That was the easiest way.

 

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You should have pieces that look similar to this. You can cut both sides if you want to, but I only used half of my pattern. For the reverse side, I just flipped the pieces over. In the video it suggests that you make tick marks so that you can make sure your pieces are lined up straight. I did this, but every time I transferred it, the tick marks got off. So by the time I reach the end, the marks didn’t line up. It wasn’t that big of a deal for this project, but I can see where it would be for more complex projects.

 

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This part is important. Make your pattern as flat as you can. Because your round piece has to accommodate your ear, you need to make sure you cut it to allow extra room. The video explains this a bit better. You can kinda see the cut I made there in the middle.

 

Step 3:

 

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Transfer your pattern to your parchment paper. This is so that you can easily trace it onto your foam. You don’t necessarily have to do this, but it certainly makes getting it on the foam easier. Don’t forget you can turn the pieces over to make the other side of the helmet. I also labeled the pieces so that I could remember if they were left or right side and which part was the top and which was the bottom.

 

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Once you’ve transferred the pattern to your parchment paper, cut out your new pattern. Use pins to hold the parchment paper to the foam and use your black Sharpie to draw the pattern. Then use your box cutter to cut the foam. Remember to hold your blade at a 45-degree angle and use slow, steady strokes to get clean cuts. Also be sure to cut INSIDE the black line. This is where your parchment pattern ended and where the cut needs to be made to keep the correct size.

 

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Once your pieces are cut out, use your hair dryer or heat gun to heat the pieces and curve them. They should look the way they will look when the helmet is on your head,  and the curving will make it much easier to glue the pieces together.

Side note: Ted recommends contact cement in his video. I thought I could get away with the Goop, but that did not hold at all. Then I went to super glue. That was messy and didn’t hold either. Finally, I accepted that Ted knows what he’s talking about and went to Lowe’s and bought DAP Weldwood contact cement. It was in the paint section with the super glue. You have to allow it to dry for 3-5 minutes for it to become sticky, but once it’s ready that stuff STICKS. Be sure your pieces are lined up right before you press them together.

When putting the pieces together, you have to press firmly and slowly. You want to make sure your curves are correct and that your seams are lined up on the outside of the helmet. This is important for smooth lines when you’re ready to paint your armor!

 

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Five hours later and $30 later, this is the result! Not too shabby for a first attempt! Now all I need to do is fill the seams and make them smooth and add some paint!

Ted has a ton of videos on how to do all these things, and his instructions are so easy to follow. I highly recommend watching his video first and then go! I’ll keep you guys updated as I attempt to finish the armor 🙂

 

Do you have your own pieces that you’ve made for your story? Share a picture below!