Besides putting up with my writing musings and writing adventures, which are really more about the writing process, now, you are going to have to put up with my end-product ravings. As many of you know, my first Amazon book came out for Father's Day Weekend, The Long Walk, and I made some pretty noob mistakes. I have learned a great deal. So, fast forward. This week, I'm publishing another short "La Bruja in the Orchard," and does it ever look gorgeous! I hope to have it done by this Wednesday for a Thursday or Friday release. Woo hoo hoo hoo!
There are still some challenges, though, and that is designing the print cover. I do love having that control, but Amazon is pretty proprietary. The templates are limited, so I will have to hire a professional for my next two pubs, ideally a designer that knows how to publish covers to Amazon. I have two designers in mind, but will most likely go with the first one because he is my friend's son. Send prayers my way that hire works out.
So, this morning, I worked on revising "La Bruja in the Orchard" and tweaked the description. I also worked on my novel draft The Harvest. I will have to hustle and hit it hard every day, if I am to finish by the end of June. My writing goal this week, is to write The Harvest a minimum of two hours a day. Fingers crossed!
Ideally, I want to have it done and revised by November, so I can start pitching it to publishers. I really do believe there should be a balance of print and digital publications. Besides, they take the same amount of work and work ethic. Self-publishing could be argued is more rigorous because it requires more work on your end to market and go beyond the writing process. I could see the case to have someone else handle all that. However, self-publishing is fun, hard, but fun, a kind of sick, misogynist fun.
Still, forget about all this publishing business. The real love, the passion is the actual act of writing and improving your writing. Everything else is icing. Write because you love it and because the stories you want to tell wake you up at ungodly hours, but don't forget to enjoy life and be present. These days, I am becoming more of space cadet, zoning off into my worlds more than usual, but writing emerges from life, from what is real. From relationships and being with others.
That is my other writing challenge, to be present in real life to the max.
Cross the finish line on your writing goals! I know you will. #Resist!
I had a really productive writing weekend. I added to a story in my collection and am revising it based on some editing feedback I got many months ago. The feedback was pretty good, and I took almost all of it. I started Kindling the story, but the struggle now is crafting a decent looking book cover for print. My friend and writing guru Eric Allan Yankee recommended fivver.com.
That is essentially a site where you can contract designers. Their prices range from $25 for a basic book cover to $200. Obvi, I would go with $25 because I believe in paying the editor more. For the next publication, I will definitely get some help. I tried creating my own cover with Adobe Spark, but I have no idea how to reorient the image in the Kindle portal. I suppose I could Google or YouTube it, but I would rather write than try to figure that out. Plus, my friend Laura offered her son to help, and I will reach out to him.
Anyway, this weekend, I spent more time with the characters of my novel The Harvest, Ashley/Alan, Cherry/Strike. I fleshed them out a little more and added more about how they will relate to each other. I also lowered Ashley's height to 4 foot 8 inches and will make her peers a little taller as they are older. In truth, I didn't spend enough time with them as I should have, but I plan on sitting with them on the ride home. I am also mapping out the towns more and the general structure of the region, which I should have done a long time ago. It was more important to focus on the characters and start writing it, but since I'm 2/3 done, I have to flesh out more sections of it. That will also make the revisions process easier.
Well, I hope your Father's Day weekend was glorious.
Keep writing and reinforcing the basics. #Resist
Yes, I am taking the characters of my novel The Harvest out on a weekend trip. It is Father's Day Weekend, but any time in a hotel writing and revising, while the kids are swimming, is gold. You may think spending a weekend with your characters or at least having a long cocktail with them is excessive, but when you have been spending years with them, and you need to get to know them better, there's nothing like a weekend road trip. Maybe, I'll just validate what I already knew about them, and that is fine.
Have you taken your characters out on a date recently? They probably miss you or could surprise you!
On the author front, you may have noticed I added a new section to my page: Books. I am posting links to the forums where my book are going on sale like Smashwords and Amazon. (This morning I got invited to post to a new forum. I will have to check it out.) Let me tell you what a learning curve that was, a joyful one. For now, I am running a promo through my Facebook author page or comments below. The first five people to buy my short will get a signed copy of The Long Walk. You can email me details. I also am selling the Kindle version for a dollar if you buy the print version.
I mean come on? What else can you get for such a great deal these days that is so awesome?
Well, I am off to pack. Oh, I should pack for my characters too! It's a metaphor. I don't have any guns or "shit suits", environmental protection suits from my novel. That would just be weird.
Take your characters out and immerse yourself in them. Buy my book. #Resist
The Long Walk is on Smashwords. It is only $2.99!
The Amazon version is going to come out, once I stop messing with the Kindle file. Stay tuned!
Plus, another short is coming out soon, and hopefully "La Bruja del Barrio Loco" will be out by July.
This post is going to be short because I have an early morning Faculty Contract Negotiation. That's why last night I worked on The Harvest, for a good stretch of time. You can read the rolling draft. It's coming along nicely for an up/down draft. Alan is finally going on the unexpected journey, kicking and screaming. In the Ashley section, the characters decided to take story line novel in a different direction, which is always great fun! Check it out.
Well, for all you fathers and father figures, have a glorious weekend!
Buy my book for Dad. He'll love it! #Resist
I had my first night, in a long time, where I was losing sleep over my writing. It was an imperial long night of the soul. I mean I was really agonizing over the quality of my work. Partly that was because I was reviewing the harsh notes from a reviewer and came to the legit conclusion that the problem is that the reader is a monolingual asshole. Partly I was tossing and turning was because I finally put something out into the universe.
You know what I decided? Cliché as it may sound, at the end of the road, what really matters is the love of the craft, getting better at it, and just writing. Writing and hitting those notes hard. Every. Day. That's the only way I could get myself to quiet the screaming voices, get some rest. (I also decided not to keep looking at my publication on Smashwords with a microscope and stop treating it like a lucha libre wrestler: I mean it's not even done being reviewed. Learn and move on.)
Today is a new day, and I am happily threading out some resources on dialogue for my creative writing students. I am also starting an informal creative writing group for current and former students. The sole purpose is to review work, especially long projects. We meet tomorrow, Friday, from 12p.m. to 2p.m., probably off-campus because I will have negotiations that morning and will be starving by then. I don't think the negotiations will go past three hours. Fingers crossed.
So, the sun is out, and my writing energy is amped to the max. My next project is up for revision, this weekend. It's a horror short. I do have a writing goal of learning more about the two main characters in my novel, Ashley and Alan and two supporting characters Cherry and Strike. (Cherry and Strike may start a romance of their own. Hmmmm.) I am going to draw them again and put them in different situations. Maybe get them stuck in the elevator and have it stop as Lamott suggests. Maybe they will have a lucha libre match of their own.
Rise up from the writing pit, if you are in one. It's a new day. #Resist
FIRST OF ALL, if you do say self-publishing is easy, I will kick your ass. This self-publishing business is NOT. REMOTELY. EASY. Just getting the book on a forum after watching videos and reading articles, not to mention the actual writing, copy-editing, and revising, all of that is hard. Did I mention how intricate it is to design covers? And my covers don't look nearly as good I would like.
Did I make mistakes this first round? Hell yes! I may repost the Microsoft Word file that feeds into the Kindle Reader. The *.epub version looks great, thanks to Eric Allen Yankee, who made it look pretty. Eric's the best, and he should help other noob writers for a decent fee. I do plan on paying him to design the others. He is very busy, and I am infinitely grateful for his support. Certainly, his was a great start. I totally owe him. Plus, I learned a ton from the file he reformatted for me.
There were some minor issues with the file he rebuilt. Wouldn't you know CSS actually came in handy? Do you remember CSS? Well, many many years ago, I taught myself HTML and CSS, like when both coding systems came out, because I thought I was going to be a web designer. Today, CSS came in handy to fix one of the links and raised letters at the beginning of the first story.
Anyway, consider this the test run, just that a test. And if my Kindle book looks like shit, the next one will look way better. The Long Walk is still awaiting approval and will be up 5 to 7 days from now, if all goes well, but you can find it soon at: www.smashwords.com/books/view/840442.
I do want to post it on Amazon, now that I have an ISBN number, but I want the Kindle version to look pretty, before I do that.
What's coming next, "La Bruja". No, not La Bruja del Barrio Loco, but a short story only a few people have seen. It was very much inspired by Stephen King's "Grandma" and folktales of naughty Mexican children being kidnapped.
Here is a draft of the cover of that next piece. I think it's pretty cool, but the text may be hard to read.
If you had some challenges today, brush them off and keep writing. #Resist
Spill. What techniques do you use when you develop your characters? Characters are the most important foundation for my stories, and this novel, The Harvest, which is coming together nicely even for a down draft. I start with the image of a character and some action they are doing and go from there. In fact, many of my stories being with a character and some tension. Yet, as I develop them, I don't name them until later because I hone in on how they talk first.
I am raising these issues because it's high time to take the characters in my novel on a weekend outing and get to know them better. Truthfully, getting to know your characters is very much like dating. You want to get to know them in different contexts. Plus, that's the only way to really get to know them well, by spending time with them. Yes, they change over the course of a story, so you have to visit them often.
In real life, we are going on a Father's Day weekend trip, and I will be taking my characters along with me in the car. I want to focus specifically on Alan and Cherry, then Ashley and Jackie. You all know how much I love to write in hotel rooms, so besides revising another horror story, I will be doing this foundational relationship building.
Today, I am also crafting more take-home exercises for my creative writing students and offered a random character generator for students who are really stuck. There are multiple ones you can find online, if you are really unable to craft your own.
This morning, drum roll, I also saw the draft of the *.epub that my friend Kindled for me! It is fucking gorgeous! The cover looks amazing, and I designed it, but his craftsmanship makes it look amazing. He did this one book for me for free, but I will be paying him in the future. He also needs to come over for mole and some tequila, much overdue. (Come on Yankee. Cut the chains loose.)
On a practical note, I find that Calibre is not a bad software for simple e-books, but there are gorgeous design elements that I can't do in Microsoft word, like those fancy chapter dividers. They are something else. It really is a beautiful book. I can't wait to show you!
Unfortunately, this will have to be a short victory dance. I have to grade some short creative writing exercises. I am also trying to schedule a creative writing group, but my time has been really tight this summer with meetings and regular job obligations. The goal is to schedule a CW group if the students want to meet on Thursdays or Fridays for a couple of hours.
Have a great day and spread that writing joy.
Basque in joyful writing days and victories! Shine a light on your friends who help you. #Resist
I woke myself up at some ungodly hour, but was too tired to write. Anyway, I put in some time this morning, after 5:45.m., even though I'm dragging now. Yes, I'm going to go back to bed for a bit.
I have two meetings later this morning, but I am genuinely punked out, and wish I could stay home. I know, big waaaah. Doing what you love and have a regular job that rules. Wah wah wah!
Enough tangent. For you readers, here is the rolling draft of The Harvest. It is really a down draft today, folks. Alas, poor Alan is going to be pushed out of his comfort zone and into an unexpected journey, while Ashley is going to be stuck in the Education Center, until she gets fed up with the system. How long will that take? It will depend on her breaking point. Stay tuned.
Also, my friend is supposed to Kindle my book today, so send prayers of support his way. I can't wait to pick his brain about what software he used. I suspect Calibre, the software I downloaded, is just fine if you don't have minor formatting glitches. More to come later.
Get up and get going. Writing is calling. #Resist
I have to wait a day or more for my book to get Kindled, and I do need help. I was still trying to play around with the *.epub creator, which is what you need on Smashwords, and the font in the table of contents is off. I have no idea why. There must be some extra code there, but it is exciting to learn something new.
In the meantime, I changed my mind about having an author bio and wrote the snippet below. (I also worked on that paragraph that talks about events and people not being real. That was fun to write. Word, Joe Hill has a funny segment, and I liked the spirit in it.)
Anyway, what do you think about the description below? Thumbs up or Thumbs down?
About the Author
Dr. María J. Estrada graduated with a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition from Washington State University. She grew up in the desert outside of Yuma, Arizona in a barrio comprised of new Mexican immigrants and first-generation Chicanos. Drawing from this setting and experiences, she writes in numerous genres from serious fiction to horror and writes poetry, regularly. She is a tenured faculty member in English and lives in Chicago, Illinois. This is her first digital publication. You can learn more about her work and writing happenings at barrioblues.com.
Well, whenever it gets Kindled, it will take five to seven days for the team to verify it. I already used an .epub verifier at validator.idpf.org/, and I think everything will go well, if the font gets fixed.
In the meantime, back to my novel, The Harvest. I am making an effort to write in the morning and evenings, so I can meet my June deadline. The kids are making it hard for me to write. My daughter Simona kept saying, "Mom, it's not time for work! You can work tomorrow. Let's play catch!" I mean, come on. How could I resist? That is why Stephen King would have his kids make tapes, to keep them busy.
Roll with the punches and keep writing. #Resist
OK, friends, I am counting on everything working out, so I can launch "The Long Walk." It's part of the learning process for me and the precursor to "La Bruja del Barrio Loco."
In fact, I deeply admire anyone who puts out a story a day. Holy shit. I asked my friend Yankee how he was able to write for hours because it is exhausting, but he publishes one daily. He says you get used to it. Trust the writing process.
This morning, I put in my hour into The Harvest, my novel draft, but I realized if I am to finish this month, I will have to write at night, too. It's June 11th, good Lord! A lot of times, my energy is shit in the evenings, but the desire to finish this draft is greater. (Plus, I didn't want this piece to be 500 pages, heck more than 300 pages, but it's not going to be done at 300 pages, like I thought.)
And, sadly, that is all the time I have. I need to create a sheet for one of my classes, and to review the story "The End of the Whole Mess" by Stephen King. It is a really interesting dystopian piece of literature that has no glimmer of hope.
All my stories have a glimmer of hope. Wait until you read "The Long Walk".
Keep writing and celebrate your victories today! #Resist
Dr. Jesú Estrada,