Finding an Author Community

Something that’s always been difficult for me is finding a community. As most authors are, I’m pretty introverted, and this makes face-to-face interactions difficult sometimes. I get anxiety when I see people that I recognize, and sometimes I’ll go out of my way to not have to talk to them. I’ve always understood that finding a group of other authors to commune with was necessary, but I didn’t realize how connected it would make me feel until I realized that I’d accidentally stumbled into a community all on my own.

My first community was online.

The first place that I actively sought out other authors was Facebook. I joined a couple Facebook groups, and it was very exciting! I was very involved and I was so happy to have a place to discuss our craft. Unfortunately, as we all know can happen with online meeting places, things began to go south.

It soon became apparent that there were two types of people in the group: the new people who hadn’t written anything and needed to do their own research, and the people who had written things and had been through the process and were bitter about how ignorant the newbies were. Soon I began to see the dark underbelly of the group, and how ugly people could be to one another.

I think hiding behind a screen and a keyboard makes people more willing to be nasty to others, and I think that’s very unfair. Some people need the truth, but most people don’t need to be trashed for their efforts. We shouldn’t be competing against one another, we should be helping and pushing and encouraging. Seeing the opposite of this really soured me to the whole group, although I was fortunate enough to meet some really awesome people in the process. I made some connections, which ultimately led to me being asked to be part of a new podcast.

My second community built itself accidentally.

Last year in September, my sister and I had a table at a local comic event. We didn’t do very well, but I happened across a group of ladies who were selling their books. I ended up striking up a conversation with them, and learned that they were all members of the Houston Writer’s Guild. We traded books and I followed them on Facebook. We’ve loosely kept in touch over the last few months, pretty much only through following their doings on Facebook.

However, this vague relationship culminated last weekend at Comicpalooza. Because I’d kept in touch with these ladies, when I saw them at Comicpalooza, they recognized me! I even had one yell at me from behind her table, where I couldn’t see her, because she was so excited to see me. That was an awesome feeling!

I began to realize that I had accidentally networked myself into a small community, with the potential to join a larger community if I ever want to join the writer’s guild. It’s a very strange feeling to realize how many friends you have in your industry, especially when it seems like our work is so solitary.

What does this mean for you?

Author communities are great, especially for beginners. It’s always great to have wiser, more experienced authors to look to and to direct your questions. However, that being said, you should always try to do your own research. It’s very demanding of another person’s time to have to try to explain every little thing to a new author, and it can cause resentment. This obviously is not the proper way to handle the situation, but anyone who wants to step into a field they aren’t familiar with should do some reading first. There are many blogs and YouTube channels out there that talk about how to start and what you should be doing, including this series from Infinity Flower Publishing.

I would also encourage you to find a community in your immediate area. Find a local group that meets, a guild, or organization that works with authors. You will find resources for editors and designers, as well as meet some amazing people and be invited to do some amazing things. You’ll pick up lots of leads for selling your books and have someone who can help you if you get stumped.

It also feels good to be part of a community! 🙂

 

 

What communities do you belong to?

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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?

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!

Well Hello There #Myfirstblogpostrevisited

I was tagged by the amazing Tolkien-fiend E. E. Rawls to participate in a blog hop! It’s my first one ever, so yay!

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I had to dig way back into the archives, almost seven years ago, to this little guy:

Well Hello There

Hi! I have never had a blog before, so this is going to be an adventure for me! I will try to post something fairly regularly, however I cannot guarantee that it will be every day. Mostly look for story tid-bits and excerpts. I’m sure actual blogs about my life will be very boring. Happy reading!!

That’s it. That was my first ever post. My how things have changed!

In 2010, I was still in college at TAMU and had just started dating the love of my life and my future hubs. Neato, right?

As an author though, I was struggling. I was busy with school, didn’t have a lot of time to write, and overall frustrated and worried about my future and where I would end up. If now-me could back and tell past-me that things would turn out fine, that would have been majorly helpful.

Today, I’ve written 60 (WOW!) posts and I’ve finished my ten-year book, and even had it published! Past-me could have never fathomed that. Past-me wouldn’t be able to believe that I’ve been to Colorado for a writer’s conference, won an award at that conference (!), started my own business, and am now involved in my book in ways that I didn’t even know existed.

I guess the lesson here is that YOU CAN DO IT!

It took me seven years to get to this point, ten years to write my book, but I’ve learned so much along the way. And I’m still young! I’m just now putting the effort into making my dreams work. Like it says in this Fifth Harmony video, “DREAMS DON’T WORK UNLESS YOU DO!”

Now it’s time for me to choose the next victims, er, participants for the blog hop!

Joynell Schultz

Amelia Jacobson

Lara, The Book Heathen

Monique Desir

Book Adventures

Don’t forget the rules!

Obvious rules:

  • No cheating. (It must be your first post. Not your second post, not one you love…first post only.)
  • Link back to the person who tagged you (thank them if you feel like it or, if not, curse them with a plague of ladybugs).

Other rules:

  • Cut and paste your old post into a new post or reblog your own bad self. (Either way is fine but NO editing.)
  • Put the hashtag #MyFirstPostRevisited in your title.
  • Tag…um…ten two twelve five (5) other bloggers to take up this challenge.
  • Notify your tags in the comment section of their blog (don’t just hope they notice a pingback somewhere in their spam).
  • Feel free to cut and paste the badge to use in your post.
  • Include “the rules” in your post.

Completely silly rules that E. E. Rawls made up that I liked (so I kept them!):

  • Drink a glass of wine, bottle of beer, cup of coffee, mug of herbal tea or whatever floats your boat after you hit “publish”. (In other words, toast yourself. Go you!)
  • Read the post out loud in a Mickey Mouse voice.

Let’s talk about Cover Design.

This week is going to be a little light. I’m writing this on Tuesday night because by the time it hits on Friday I will be heading to a cruise ship! Yay!

So instead of a usual post, I’m going to share a video that I did as part of a web series for my publishing company called NOW WHAT? This is part three, but you can find the rest on Facebook and YouTube.

Leave a comment on what you think! What’s your experience been with covers?