What Would You Be?

What would you be if you weren’t an author?

I get this question from time to time and I actually find it rather odd. It’s like asking me to contemplate what would happen if I were a blonde. Well, obviously, I’d have more fun, but that’s beside the point. So, who would I be if I weren’t me? There are a few possibilities.

From Fauxtographer to Photographer

I’ve had a few friends over the years who have introduced and reintroduced me into the world of photography, and I used to tag along during their adventures trying to get the best shot for their classes. We walked through town, went into the city and into the country. Eventually, I started doing it too. Most “real” photographers would consider me a “fauxtographer”, someone who “jumps on the photography bandwagon by ‘pointing-and-shooting’ hundreds of terrible pictures, which they will upload to [Facebook] in an album titled ‘My Photography'” as defined by the Urban Dictionary. I don’t consider myself that bad, but then again I’m not a “real” photographer either. I just find that it’s another way through which to experience life. I’m not the sort of person who would just go hiking. Taking pictures, no matter how terrible, not only gives me a purpose for gallivanting out places as an indoor girl I have no business being, but it also gives me the space between whatever is going on and me. It allows me to share the beauty that I see.

Perhaps if I had no other creative outlet, I might learn all those things that other photographers know. Things like lens, light, developing techniques, and composition. It’d be fun.

Armchair Psychologist to Cognitive Psychologist

I think one of the most common misconceptions made about me is that I hate people mostly because I say it all the time, but I actually don’t. I actually find others to be fascinating. I enjoy people for the same reason that I love writing, you’re all complex, walking, talking puzzles. (In 4D to boot!) So, when I took AP Psychology in high school, it was for fun, and the teacher was baffled that I didn’t want to take the advanced placement test.

When I got to college, I had a small crisis of identity. The Creative Writing major had some defects, one of them being a certain professor who as much as I liked him, I also hated him. He refused to let us write anything within my genre effectively ruining the whole purpose of doing what I enjoyed. The second reason for considering a serious change in major was poetry. I apologize to all of my friends who are reading this who are poets, but I hate poetry. And in order to finish the Creative Writing major, I’d have to take three poetry writing classes. So, under the belief that I was going to spend several years doing something that I hated, I considered making other arrangements. When I thought about what I did enjoy almost without fail, Psychology came into the picture. I had already taken, Psychology 101 (twice since it’s the same as AP), Stress and Coping (part of a series of required classes), Psychology of Personality, Social Psychology, and Language Acquisition. What kept me from choosing psychology? Statistics. Part of the Psychology major (and minor) was passing a Statistics class, something I was unable to pass in high school let alone at the college level. However, if I didn’t spend all of my free time writing, who knows? Maybe I could have passed it and become a psychologist. I know that seems like the blind leading the blind there, but… On second thought, I’m not finishing that sentence.

P.S. I changed my major to Language and Discourse, CSUH’s version of the linguistics major, a combination of all of my favorite things, psychology, English, and science. Also, literature was never in the running, because I actually read rather slowly, and it cut into my pleasure reading time.

Creative to Chemist

This one might seem like it comes out of left field, but that should give you an idea the power of a truly amazing teacher. Once again, we’re back in high school. I had the chance of taking either Physics or Chemistry. Physics had far too much math to make me comfortable, so Chemistry it was. My teacher was amazing. So amazing that I became her aide, and I got to sit through and listen to her lecture twice. It was probably the wisest thing that I ever did, because she was the one who gave me my very first A. Somewhere in this, I should have mentioned that I was a slacker to make that last part seem more impressive, but still, it was my very first A, and it was in Chemistry of all things.

In the following year, I got an even better surprise. Every year, California has a standardized test called the Golden State Exam in Chemistry which includes a lab portion. Only the smartest kids ever got certificates of aptitude, so when they started passing them out, I put my head down writing.

Then, they said it. “Colleen C—-?”

I was writing, so I didn’t say anything.

“Colleen C—-.”

Someone tapped me from behind and whispered, “Colleen, it’s you.”

I looked up and replied, “ME?!”

Handing me the certificate, the administrator laughed. “Yes, you.”

And as I glanced down at the beautifully embossed certificate reading “Honors in Chemistry”, I had to wonder if they were high.

But it just goes to show you what can happen if you have a great teacher. She took a little slacker, who was only interested in English, and turned her into someone who could have been a chemist. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, she was a Chemistry teacher, and I’ve heard that their specialty is transforming things.

It’s so strange thinking about all the things that I could have been, because I don’t do it that often. I’ve been writing for so much longer than I did any of those things that it seems unfathomable that I should be anything different. However, I feel comfortable saying that, even without writing, I would have been awesome.

Self-Publishing: Am I Being Scammed?

There are some things about self-publishing that anyone entering the industry needs to be aware of. So, today, I’d like to write about losing money and being scammed.

Going the self-publishing route, there’s a greater chance that you’re going to be scammed. In traditional publishing, the author isn’t making a payment in exchange for goods and/or services. In fact, Writer’s Market specifically warns against any literary agent or publisher that does, and most reputable literary agent or publisher will often be a part of a guild with ethical guidelines. Self-publishing doesn’t really have those ethical guidelines.

Most of the time when traditional publishers talk about disreputable publishers, they tend to be talking about vanity and subsidy publishers. These are not to be confused with on-demand printing. With on-demand printing you pay for the printing of each book, most of the work is done by the author or those hired by the author. In contrast, vanity and subsidy publishers will publish your book for a fee, which is usually exorbitant. If you wanted to print something completely blank, as long as you’re paying, they don’t care.

So, is this a scam? It depends on what your definition of a scam is. I’ve always defined a scam as something fraudulent meant to swindle you. The key word here is “fraudulent”, something meant to deceive and in extreme cases something fake. I don’t believe that self-publishing in any of its forms would fall under that definition. Is it ridiculous to pay that much for what you get? Maybe, but in the end, you’re still getting something that you paid for. Technically, they’re doing nothing wrong. What about untechnically? I will not deny that it is exploitative and rides that line of being unethical. Even on-demand printing somewhat preys on the desire to see one’s hard work in print, especially if pursuing traditional publishing has proved fruitless.

However, if we define a scam as separating you from your money for inadequate goods and/or services, here’s where the line gets a little bit blurry. To illustrate I have a story from personal experience. It’s not MY personal experience, but it’s someone’s.

In April, I went to my first author meet and greet. There was only one other author there near my age, so we got to talking. He had written two novels through CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing. I asked him about how he had coped with putting the book together, what promoting he had done, how large his readership was, etc. He told me that he had about two hundred regular readers, and he’d done very little in terms of promoting (not the norm, I assure you); however, he’d paid someone to make a commercial for his novels on YouTube. He told me that it had cost a lot, and in the end, it hadn’t been worth his time. Since he brought up cost, I asked him, how much he’d spent on the novels. In the back of my mind, I thought my parents’ initial investment was going to be surprising figure for him. Then, he dropped it on me.

He’d spent $7000 on his novels.

As I picked my jaw up off of the floor, I admitted that I would have given up a long time before I spent $7000. (I bought my Ford Escort for less!) Once we parted ways, I started doing the math. He’d told me that various disgruntled individuals had objected to spending $2.99 online for a book, so I had a good place to start. The price gave me a clue as to which royalty rate he’d chosen. Kindle Direct Publishing offers a 70% royalty rate on novels priced $2.99-$7.99. So, knowing that he makes approximately $2 per book… $2.00 a book X 200 readers X 2 novels = $800. Wow, having two hundred readers didn’t even make a dent. Yikes.

So was he scammed? Being out $6200 kind of sounds like it. How much money do you have to lose before it’s considered a scam? I don’t know. This author didn’t seem to have any regrets except for the YouTube commercial. You’ll have to decide for yourself how much you’re willing to spend. Where investing in yourself becomes a waste. For a traditional publisher, any amount of money you spend is a scam. And for my parents, it was $600.

 

What is your writing process?

Start. 

Getting the Idea Phase – Usually if I want to be inspired, I have to reach for it. I read, listen to music, watch movies, examine faces, listen/read about passionate people, dream, but most of the time, I have to immerse myself in my own thoughts. It’s probably why I’m so absentminded; I’m pretty much always absent to some degree. And sometimes, I feel guilty about that, but other times… It’s all worth it in the end, I think. When I come across a thought that I can run with, I feel it in my heart. As an author, I should have the words to describe this, but I don’t. It’s like it originates from a different part of my brain. It’s one of those things that I just can’t let go. This leads to…

Development Phase a.k.a the Walking Phase – Once my brain has officially abducted me, I usually pace. I will walk until my feet ache and then I’ll walk some more as I literally explore the possibilities. Having a house that makes a perfect circle really helps. As I’ve said before, it’s like putting together a huge puzzle. I get flashes of scenes even before I have a real plot. What I have to do is fit these scenes I see into the general, abstract idea. I play with the pieces and try to fit them all together. During this time, I put myself in a character’s place, and then I put myself in the other character’s place, etc. And I replay it over and over until I find something that suits me. While this can be a little piece of hell when I’m feeling anxious or angry, the complete inability to tear myself away from what I’m thinking comes in really handy when it comes to writing. Eventually, this walking leads to seeing scenes. I don’t see every scene, but most of them, if I can’t see it, I will develop the idea when I get to it.

Outlining Phase (optional) – I don’t usually outline, and if I do, it’s not really an outline so much as a bunch of my thoughts that get frantically thrown onto the page like a bowl of spaghetti against the wall. When I see which ones stick, I start drawing arrows and writing down cause and effect. Pretty much, this happens when I’m unable to walk it off. The only time that I’ve ever done a real outline was for Wingless due to the sheer number of characters that I had to keep track of.

Research Phase – This is pretty self-explanatory. If I need to know about something for the novel, I have to research it to make sure that I don’t get certain details wrong or if there’s anything else that could add layers to what I already have. Angels, mythology, religion, and history are what I look up most frequently.

Writing/ Last Minute Decision Phase – I was told a long time ago (I don’t know exactly when) by someone (I don’t know who) that most writers don’t just start at page one and write until they reach the end. I have no idea if this true. I can’t imagine why anyone would write anything out of order, because I always fall prey to my last minute decisions. In almost every novel I write, I make a last minute decision that changes everything. And I don’t just have one. I tend to have at least three that dramatically alter the way that the novel was supposed to go. Oops. Either a character just won’t die or as I’m writing an impassioned scene the character will say something that leaves me going, “Huh… I didn’t know you felt that way”. I tend to think it works out better that way though, because I’m far less likely to discard a great last minute decision in order to accommodate what I’ve already written. This isn’t to say that I won’t or I haven’t gone back and rewritten things because of a surprise (Dammit, Cassius!), but I’d be doing it far more often otherwise. So, I always write from page one to the last page straight through.

Editing Phases – Once it’s done, I do a few editing waves.

1- Edit for structure, transitions, and pacing. This is mostly to assess what I have as a whole. If there’s anything that is missing, or if something seems like it’s happening too fast. This is where I add, delete, rearrange and rewrite certain scenes. Reread.

2- Edit for clarity, repetitive words, and sentence variety. This is also where I add in some more details if I feel like they’re needed. Sometimes, I forget to describe someone or a setting, so here’s where I get to add all the little creative flourishes. Reread.

3- Copy editing. Okay, I am horrible at copy editing my own things. Since I already know what it says, my mind tends to gloss over it. But I try.

4- Edit by friends. So, I have a few friends and relatives that help me. They tell me if I’m being too unclear or too subtle. That’s one of my big things. I think I’m being so obvious with something, when in reality I’m not. Their outside perspective is invaluable.

5- Repeat waves one through three.

Done. Except that I’m not actually done. Start Publishing Phase. 

Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing: Capital vs. Control

I have had quite a few ask me whether or not self-publishing would be right for them, and my answer is always the same: it depends on what you want. Each one has its pros and cons from both the business and creative standpoints. It’s important to find one that matches your personality, and this article seeks to help you out.

Traditional Publishing

In the traditional publishing world, it’s pretty simple. Get your work into the hands of the right people. It’s an old game and one of rules. Lots of rules. But there’s a definite positive to working within “the system”, which is that it’s really straight forward. You write a query letter, send it in, and you get a “yes” or “no” in response. In most cases, it’s a “no”. Lots and lots of “no’s”. It’s hard, and it’s soul-crushing, but the point is that, for the most part, you know what you’re getting into.

It might seem super rigid, and the idea that your fate is put into the hands of others based on a simple one-paged letter and synopsis or first 10 pages of your novel may rub you the wrong way; however, following the rules does get you benefits that self-publishing just can’t provide. The publisher takes on all the expense of producing your work. They’re the ones taking a gamble on you. So since we’re playing with the publisher’s money, you gain all the resources at their disposal. This includes teams of editors (copy editors, structural plot editors, proofreading), cover artists, and others that work on the publisher’s dime to make sure that your book is up to a high standard. (This is what makes finding errors in a “professional” novel just that much sweeter. Yeah, I’m vindictive, and I know it.) In addition to that, you also get paid up front. It’s an advance. It’s pretty and shiny guaranteed money that you get paid for writing your novel. You also get royalties on each book you sell averaging between 5-15% (but don’t forget to pay your literary agent).

On the other hand, by playing the traditional publishing game, you must realize what this means. A publisher is like any other business. Their job is to make money, and they’re going to do it off of you. If we’re looking at this in business terms, this is what you’re doing. You’re taking your novel or business plan to a publisher or bank/investor and saying, “This is so good that people will buy it. If you pay for my expenses, you’ll see your money back and then some.” And like any business, an investor is going to want a certain amount of control over your business (Haha, things I’ve learned from watching “Shark Tank”). The publisher has connections, and they’re going to want to use them. They will make changes. If you don’t believe me, just look into the myriad of problems that Tolkien had with his publisher. But remember: the fact is if you don’t perform, you lose nothing. The publisher does.

Self-Publishing

For some, the amount of control the publisher is asking for is too much give up. The beauty of self-publishing is the amount of control that the author has over their work. In this way, an author can be sure that what is out either on the shelves or internet retailers is exactly the kind of novel they meant to put out. (I’ve always been curious how Little Women/Good Wives would have ended if Louisa May Alcott’s publishers just kept their noses out of her business instead of forcing her to write about Jo getting married. I’m just sayin’.) You have complete control over the cover, content, novel length, and price. Everything.

However, what is one of self-publishing’s greatest selling points is often times its Achilles’ heel. Once again, we have to look at novel writing as a business.

When I started out trying to navigate the publishing world, the landscape looked really different. Self-publishing was the kiss of death. Nobody who was anybody was self-published. And when on-demand print companies started cropping up, it was called “vanity publishing” and was seen exactly as the name implied. It was for people with no talent who just wanted to see their work in print. These people were so vain that, to assuage their fragile egos, they could buy a perfectly bound copy of their books to show everyone. It paints an awful, insulting picture, and while attitudes toward self-publishing have become less harsh, I can’t really say that they’ve changed completely. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve been asked when I’m going to get published “for real”. It’s not meant to be malicious, but it’s a reflection of how self-publishing remains to be seen.

This is in part due to the question of quality. Even when I think of those who have self-published, I’m pretty sure that most of them have tried traditional publishing first. It’s assumed that no one would choose self-publishing first. This assumption continues to play into the idea that self-published books aren’t worth reading. Like it or not, traditional publishing is still the authority on their business.

Here’s what they expect from you. According to an article by The Guardian in the UK, a 2011 survey found that, while the mean income of self-published authors was $10,000, the median author income was less than $500. For anyone who is horrible at math, (Yeah, I had to look it up.) that means the average of all self-published author incomes was $10,000 a year, but half of all self-published authors make less than $500 a year from their novels. And the most successful self-published novels were in the romance category. Fantasy authors only made 32% of the average.

That aside, what was most telling, for me, were the comments at the bottom of the article, most of which sounded like this little gem:

I’ve seen a few disturbing comments that say it’s a good thing that editors no longer have to to be involved in the publishing process, because now there is a larger market and the chance to self-publish. Which amounts to saying “Yay, I can publish my novel now that the bar has been sufficiently lowered”.
I’m sure there are e-books out there that are of great quality, but where?

Oh, and here’s another good one in response to a self-published author:

“Find us, read us!”
Not until you write more clearly.

Ooh, burn! The point is that with that control or freedom comes a great deal of responsibility. (Like Spiderman.) Think of this like a business. It’s self-publishing; you are the publisher. You’re the one taking the risk now. You’re playing with your own money now, and if you “fail”, it’s on you. So, if you’re going to invest in yourself, you should invest in yourself. If you’re expecting to compete with traditionally published novelists, you have to measure yourself like they would and use the same resources they would. This means editors, cover artists, blurb writers, and advertisers, etc. And while the old adage goes, “You have to have money to make money”, you don’t always have to hire someone for this. Local colleges are filled with great resources such as English teachers and art students. This allows you to maintain the control that you want, while putting out a quality product.

This will make the second benefit of self-publishing actually mean something. Self-publishing allows the author to maintain the majority of the royalties garnered from sales. Amazon.com offers two royalty packages for ebooks, 70% or 35% depending on where the author sets the price. CreateSpace takes about $1 per book and of course printing is subtracted from the sale, leaving the author with the rest. So, you get paid for all the extra work that you have put into producing your novel in addition to writing it.

It might be worth noting that in that same article, the survey found that only 5% of self-published felt that they had failed.

So, it’s really up to the author which to choose. Each one comes with its pros and cons, and it’s all about deciding which one fits you best. Hopefully, this helped.

My Novel Soundtracks

This post doesn’t deal with a question, but I picked a subject I liked. I’m usually very private about what I listen to because I was bullied a lot over my music choices in school. Music has never been a passion of mine despite being surrounded by band geeks in high school. I can’t play an instrument to save my life (I suppose with the exception of rudimentary songs like “Hot Crossed Buns”), my rhythm leaves something to be desired (like actual rhythm), and I consider myself tone deaf. With this in mind, I’ll proceed.

For the most part, I use music either as inspiration or to block out the world to help me focus. The latter started when I used to ride BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to school for an hour and a half every day to school. When you’re an introvert surrounded by the angry, germ-riddled commuters in a confined space that smells like urine, a good pair of headphones and a window seat can work wonders. Once I learned to burn my own CDs, I made soundtracks to transport my mind while the train transported my body on my daily commute. So, here they are. I’ve highlighted my favorite songs.

Wingéd

Unbelievable – EMF
Trouble – P!nk
Sweet About Me – Gabriella Cilmi
Devils and Angels – Toby Lightman
Here You Me – Jimmy Eat World
Home – Phillip Phillips
How I Could Just Kill a Man – Charlotte Sometimes
All These Things That I’ve Done – The Killers
Iris – Goo Goo Dolls
You’re Beautiful – James Blunt
Losing Sleep – Charlotte Sometimes
Vindicated – Dashboard Confessional
Die Young – Ke$ha
Some Nights – Fun.
Set Fire to the Rain – Adele
Listen to Your Heart – D.H.T. Feat Edmée
You and Me – Lifehouse
Dog Days Are Over – Florence + The Machine

Foiche Dé

Other Side of the World – KT Tunstall
Life for Rent – Dido
Try – Nelly Furtado
Not Ready to Make Nice – Dixie Chicks
How to Save a Life – The Fray
First Time – Lifehouse
Fall to Pieces – Avril Lavigne
Hands – Jewel
He Lives in You – Lebo M
You Say – Saving Jane
Powerless – Nelly Furtado
Stupid – Sarah McLachlan
Reasons Why – Saving Jane
The Only Exception – Paramore
If God Made You (Remix) – Five For Fighting

Dragon Wingéd (This one isn’t as polished as my other two are so bear with me)

At the Beginning – Donna Lewis & Richard Marx
Dreamer – Elizaveta
These Old Wings – Anna Nalick
Somewhere Only We Know – Keane
Fall for You – Secondhand Serenade
Distance (feat. Jason Mraz) – Christina Perri
Fallen – Sarah McLachlan
Show Me What I’m Looking For – Carolina Liar
Over My Head (Cable Car) – The Fray
When I’m Alone – Lissie
Rolling in the Deep – Adele
Broken (feat. Amy Lee) – Seether
Broken (New/Radio Version) – Lifehouse
My Immortal – Evanescence
The Reason – Hoobastank
Bright Morning Stars – Abigail Washburn
A Thousand Years – Christina Perri

Wingless (I have a song that encompasses the personality of almost every Wingless. This one is a definite work in progress)

Broken (feat. Amy Lee) – Seether
Where I Stood – Missy Higgins
One Week – Barenaked Ladies
Radioactive – Pentatonix & Lindsey Stirling
Little Wonders – Rob Thomas
Little Lion Man – Mumford & Sons
Breaking the Habit – Linkin Park
Safe & Sound (feat. The Civil Wars) – Taylor Swift
Bury Me With My Guns On – Bobaflex
Paralyzer – Finger Eleven
It’s Not My Time – 3 Doors Down
How You Remind Me – Nickelback
Pain the Sky – Charlotte Sometimes

But no matter what I’m writing, I absolutely adore the song “Breath of Life” from Florence + the Machine. No matter what novel I’m thinking about, it’s an inspirational song for me.

I’ve heard conflicting reports on whether or not a person should listen to music while writing, and I apologize that I’m not going cite any of them. You’re just going to have to take my word on it. On the one hand, music has been shown to increase creativity and intelligence. My fifth grade teacher believed this so strongly that she played classical music whenever we took tests or took a break to read. On the other hand, music can be a distraction, making it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand. Other studies have shown that multitasking reduces productivity and the quality of one’s work. Further still, another author pointed out to me how difficult it is to maintain the flow of her own work whenever she listened to something with a different beat. Which one is right? I have no idea.

Sometimes if I’m too distracted by the words, I listen to instrumental music which drowns out the rest of the world without distracting me from the words I’m trying to put onto the page.

But the conflict in and of itself is interesting.

Colleen

Self-publishing: CreateSpace Book Creation Overview

After publishing Wingéd for the first time, I took a short hiatus from writing. I was burnt out. And it took four years for me to get back to writing and self-publishing again. When I finally got back, I found that the landscape had changed considerably. BookSurge was now CreateSpace, but the name change wasn’t the most notable. Instead of shelling out $600 for someone else to put together my brand new manuscript, I could do it myself. So of course, I thought, how hard could it be? Well, it might not be what I would consider to be $600 hard, but it’s a really large time commitment that I’m going to walk you through. It’s the unsexy side of self-publishing.

Before I start, I should probably mention that CreateSpace still offers a lot of great services. They all cost, but they are available if you aren’t comfortable doing certain things yourself. They have various editing services, cover art creation, and even the full service that my parents paid for back in 2006. They even offer to send your finished product to the Kirkus book review. They also have free tutorials. CreateSpace hasn’t paid me to say this, it’s just good to be aware of all the things that they do offer. Everything you can think of, they do. Except that they no longer offer hardbacks… I don’t know why.

Title Information

The first stop on the tour is title information. This is basically filling out everything about your book including: title, subtitle, primary author, contributors, if it’s part of a series, series title, edition number, language, and publication date.

Here it’s important to make sure that everything is spelled correctly and that your title and name matches where you’ve put it elsewhere. Once these things are locked in, you can’t change them, so be careful.

ISBN

You have the choice of either paying for your own ISBN that you own (I think it costs $5) or having CreateSpace assign you one for free. Be aware that once an ISBN has been used and your novel has been finalized and put into production, if you want to make any changes to the interior, you can’t keep the same number. You’ll have to make a “new title” and start from scratch.

Interior

This is where you choose the size of your book, the type and color of paper (this affects book thickness), and whether you want a full color interior or black and white. All of this will affect your price.

Based on these characteristics, you’ll want to download the corresponding template. You’ll need Microsoft Word or Open Office. There’s the option of doing this all by yourself too, but you’d have to be a Word whiz. Even to use the template, you’ll have to be more than a little familiar with Word. Be ready to yell, “Why is it doing that?! Stop that!” over and over again. The template has a lot of things programmed into it that if your not careful will mess up everything, but operating under it’s oppressive programming was easier for me than trying to figure it out from scratch. As long as you don’t touch the margin settings, it also guarantees that your interior will fit all of the CreateSpace guidelines.

What I have had the most trouble with was that the template only goes to chapter ten, and simply copy and pasting won’t work. When I’m formatting, I first have to copy and past the template pages, which doesn’t even guarantee that the formatting will stick. Then I go chapter by chapter, copy and pasting my manuscript text into the template. Please note some quirky things.

1) In order to get the proper first page of a chapter formatting, you might have to backspace and insert a new “next page”. Note: next page is different from a page break and will affect the formatting differently.

2) Sometimes, Word likes to suddenly make the last paragraph justified weird and will also screw up the paragraph spacing. Just pressing “Enter” afterward usually fixes the problem, but sometimes you might have to fix it manually.

3) Deleting pages from the template is tricky but doable. I delete the acknowledgements and about the author pages that are built in, but it always messes up my page numbers.

Once you’re done tearing your hair out, you’ll need to convert the document to a PDF file. I like using www.freepdfconvert.com. It’s fast, and it’s free. I tried using Primo before, and it was bad. The converter messed up the margins which is the most important part. After that, upload the file. CreateSpace has an interior checker that you can use. If you didn’t touch the margins, everything should line up alright. And in case I haven’t emphasized this enough, don’t touch the margins.

Now we wait. The CreateSpace team has to approve your interior files, which can take up to 24 hours. If you want to make any changes, you’ll have to upload it again, and the approval process starts over.

Cover

One of the great things about CreateSpace is that they have a lot of great cover templates, but if you want a little more control over the look of your cover, they also have the option to upload your own. You have to be sure to match the guidelines for your book size and that there’s nothing important in the last quarter inch around the edges. Your image needs to be 300 dpi (dots per inch). Anything less than that might not have the clarity you want. Having Photoshop comes in very handy at this point.

Finalizing

When all of your files are uploaded and approved, you can order your proof. Back in the days of BookSurge, proofs were free, and they sent you a free final copy of your book. Not anymore. You buy the proof for how much it costs to print plus shipping. This is where you get the chance to check everything over, but if you find anything you’re not happy about, you’ll have to go through the approval process again and order another proof. Recently, they’ve added the ability to approve a digital proof, but I don’t recommend this at all especially if you’ve created your own cover. The colors might come out different. They might center it differently. It’s just better for everyone if you order the proof so you can see it for yourself.

But when you’re done, you get to push the “approve” button.

I don’t know why pushing the final button is so hard for me. Maybe because it’s so final. Anyway, push the button; you’ll feel better.

Colleen

Who is your favorite character?

Who is your favorite character…?
1) … in Wingéd?

I started writing this in hopes that I could convince you that my favorite character was someone with more of a role in the story like Thrace or Ruth, but I can’t. My favorite character in Wingéd is Angel Dyson. His teaching style is in direct contrast to both Thrace and Malene, and he’s just one of the funniest characters that I’ve ever written. Even though he’s dead, he acts like an old man; he’s sarcastic; he doesn’t take shit from anyone, and he doesn’t allow any of the Candidates to quibble. And through that rough exterior, he has a soft and squishy center. He’s just like everyone’s cranky old grandfather, who loves you but thinks telling you to walk it off when you face plant is the epitome of affection. I also fashioned him visually after James Earl Jones, which only makes it funnier. I don’t know why, it just does. I loved this character so much I decided to bring him back in Dragon Wingéd.

2) … in Foiche Dé?

Kapera is my favorite character in Foiche Dé hands down. When she was conceived as a character, I was coming off of writing for Friedel, who was a reasonably smart girl who felt lost in Wingéd world, constantly questioning everything, but took it in relative stride. Kapera was different. She’s a highly intelligent individual, but sensitive. She took everything so personally, but most notably, she was angry. I’d describe her as an exposed nerve. Writing for Kapera was really cathartic for me because of how angry she was. When I started writing this story, I was in a very dark place, and she allowed me to express all of that. Though she’s been criticized because of her attitude (even Friedel didn’t like her very much), but I love her for that. She’s a train wreck. A lot of times in novels, a character starts out at homeostasis and eventually becomes defeated, after which they need to rise to the occasion. Kapera starts out defeated. She feels like she’s at rock bottom, and even though she keeps trying to give up, she just can’t. Every time you think that she’s done, she rises to the occasion. She gets up the next day and comes out swinging. She’s definitely not happy about it, but I admire this quality in her.

However, the best part was her difficult relationship to Tannis. Writing their bickering back and forth was so fun. I got to write snappy comebacks, zingers, and one-liners that just aren’t as prevalent in Wingéd.

3) … in Dragon Wingéd?

In this one, my favorite is Cassius, who first appears in Foiche Dé. I started out with the intention on centering my third novel on the Pegasus Wingéd, Kitane, but once I started thinking about Cassius, he stole the show. And I fought it at first. I thought about having him as the main character for the first half then coming back to her in the second, but nothing made me happy. It wasn’t until I decided to give in and write about him that I knew any sort of peace. However, I was intimidated. I write in limited third person narration from a single character’s perspective. I’d never written from a man’s perspective before, and I wasn’t sure if I could do it credibly. But I jumped in anyway.

The one thing that I like about Cassius is his sense of honor. He’s a soldier. He’s the knight in shining armor. He’ll ride in on his white horse and save you from the dragon. He demands respect for everyone no matter their station, and he’s willing to fight anyone for it even if it means losing. He means well, but he’s so flawed. I often call Dragon Wingéd “the punishment one man receives for being a nice guy.” Every decision he makes, he just gets dragged down deeper into this awful chasm. I love it.

4) … in Wingless?

I know that none of you know who I’m talking about when I write about these characters, but I really wanted to write about her.

Her name is Nora, and she’s a Phoenix Wingéd who works with weaponizing volatile magic combinations. She’s a very happy soul and always has a smile on her face, which is something that I really needed in Wingless. She’s truly enjoyable to write because of how cheerful she is. She’s the kind of person who is fully encompassed by the type of work that they do. She chews exploding gum, but gleefully maintains that she’s only had to have her face reconstructed once. She states that she never considers herself injured unless she’s missing a couple of fingers, and she has a very special passion for a good weapon. The best part is that she has a potty mouth. Very few Wingéd would ever dare to swear in the Wingéd language, but she does it all the time. She doesn’t pretend to be anything that she’s not, so she flaunts it and celebrates it with every fiber of her being. She’s not a clean, sophisticated sort of girl, and she doesn’t need to be.

Now it’s your turn! Tell me who your favorite characters are and why, and I might make a special entry about them!

Colleen