The Jewel

Saphire

Mug of Cider - Set Up Adventure StoryA common idealized picture of a writer might have a desk, a cozy study, and a warm cup of coffee, or hot chocolate, or maybe a glass of scotch. It’s a solitary picture where the writer’s wrestling away at crafting beautiful sentences that build into captivating stories.

It’s a picturesque idea that makes my heart ache for such focused time. But realistically, our day and age does not allow for such time unless we wrest it, kicking and screaming, from our electronic devices, our bloated schedules, and our own over-zealous expectations.

And if you’re a self-published writer, that time is all the more precious. I knew, vaguely, how much went into producing and promoting a book, but the hats of editing, designing, marketing-the list could be endless-can be as heavy and demanding as a hat made of lead.

It would be easy under that weight to forget the joy of simply creating the story, to forget why all those hats are worth it when the day’s finished.

The joy of writing is a precious jewel. We’ll call it a sapphire. And the setting that holds it is the time we carve out for it. Writing and time. Jewel and golden setting. I plan to cradle those things in my hands and remember why I love this business.

Usually every year December is my month for family. I take a break from everything else. This year, I’m starting a smidgeon early and am going to take the time to cradle that precious jewel and remember why it’s worth the other hats.

Thank you, Dear Readers, for an amazing year. You make this journey truly worth every minute. I hope your holidays are blessed and filled with lots of chocolate, beautiful music, special people, and whatever else makes this season extraordinary for you. I’ll see you in the New Year, perhaps with something newly crafted and captivating.

Until next time, blessings,

Jennifer

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Working Out the Brain

The human brain is a marvelous thing.

Muscles

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

Just like a muscle, it can be worked out until doing certain activities becomes easier. Memory can be improved by memorizing (imagine that). Reading can be improved by reading and writing. Sight reading sheet music can be improved by practicing piano. I could go on.

But similarly, if the brain’s not used in a certain activity often, it atrophies in that activity. It will struggle to perform at an efficient level.

All that said means, I haven’t written stories in a while and it’s showing. Last year I focused on editing, formatting, and promoting The Adventure, and I’m not complaining, but my ability to sit down and write a cohesive adventure story has atrophied.

I fully intended to post an adventure in January. Don’t look at the calendar, it’s embarrassing. There was a time I could fully write an adventure in three days. All eight endings written out, done, complete. That time is not now.

I can’t do the eighteen pull-ups I used to crank out either.

But, just like I’m getting back into my workout schedule, I’m sluggishly getting back into my writing schedule. My lesson has been learned, a little bit of story writing on a regular basis goes a long way in keeping my brain fit, as it were.

So, a little late, welcome to 2018. Thank you for your patience with me.

Thursday will see the start to this year’s first adventure story.

Hope to see you then.

Blessings,

Jennifer

At the Door of December

It’s that time of year again…already. I’ve no idea where 2017 went, but it’s interesting to look back for a second and contemplate.

Last year this time I hoped to self publish one of the adventures in 2017. It was my next big project. I hoped you could, “hold a hard copy of an adventure and explore all the different endings at your leisure.” I’m a bit surprised and pleased to be able to say this goal was accomplished. In fact, you can explore three of the adventure stories at your leisure! (Check out The Adventure on Amazon.)

Now it’s time to breath for a bit. Every December I step back from writing to focus on family and friends, to breath and relax.

This time also allows my brain to ruminate on what, exactly, the next year’s goals should be. Nothing will be decided until January, but this is the time to start those fires burning in my brain.

In other words, I won’t be posting again until January. If you’ve read this far into this post, thanks. =) With everything that demands your attention, I appreciate your support of this blog and my writing.

I promise to return in January with two things.

  • One, some goals for 2018 and
  • Two, a whole new adventure story to explore. It’s been quite some time since I’ve written a new adventure for the blog. It’s about time to get back to it.

What did you achieve this year? What will next year hold for you?

Blessings,

Jennifer

P.S. If you’re wondering about the Kickstarter rewards, I’ll be posting updates about those on my Facebook page. Be assured, I’m still working on the Hardcover. It’ll be ready soon. =)

Hitting Pavement

There’s always a moment when pursuing a dream when it hits you,

“This is actually happening.”

MotorcycleWhen I was learning to ride a motorcycle, that moment arrived with a  smack against the pavement. I dumped the motorcycle I was riding during the class. As I stood up, my body shaking and my mind racing in a hasty injury check, it struck me in one clear thought. “Either get back on or forever walk away.”

I got back on. It took months before the terrified, almost vomit-inducing anxiety left me every time I got on a motorcycle, but now I can say with total confidence, getting back on was the right choice.

The updated proof of The Adventure arrived in the mail today. As I hold it in my hand and see all the work from the last year culminate in an actual, physical book, it hits me, “This is actually happening.”

I might hit the pavement in the process, but it’s worth it. I’ll never question if it’s possible again.

Don’t get me wrong, I might have vomit-inducing anxiety as I move forward, but that’s natural and no amount of anxiety will keep me from getting back on and moving forward.

Where are you at in pursuing life? Any “this is happening” moments?

Blessings,

Jennifer

Eating an Elephant

Nostalgia hit me. It gave no warning and only let go when I became aware of what was happening. The sneaky little…

Anyway, I was sitting at my desk staring at the master plan…err calendar for blog posts. Today’s date said Thank You’s. My past
self didn’t give my present self any more guidance than that. Perhaps I gave myself too much credit and figured I’d be able to write a sufficient post for Thank You’s. Now I know better.

Thank you

There is no way to say Thank You enough to those who have helped me make my dream come true. And in trying to figure out a way, nostalgia slipped in and I began reminiscing over this last year.

I started working on The Adventure as a book back in January. It’s a good thing that I didn’t sit down in January and try to figure out everything that would go into making The Adventure actually happen. If I had, it would have grown, and grown, and grown into a monster that terrified me, roaring in my face with such indomitable strength that I probably would have backed down, afraid of defeat before I even started.

It would have become the proverbial Elephant that I couldn’t figure out how to eat.

But as the proverb says, I looked instead at a small part. The editing, then the illustrations, then the…

One step at a time in the process and one step only.

This sounds kind of counter intuitive. Wouldn’t you want an overall plan? Wouldn’t you want to be prepared for things down the line. Of course, but only in a flexible way. Down the line is constantly changing and whatever’s written on the Master plan (even a Thank You post) must be able to change in accordance with what actually happens.

For the here and now, for the part that’s immediately in front of me, or you, all we need to know is the next step. That’s it. And that’s amazingly refreshing in a world of overwhelming information and planning.

This post is as much for me as it is for you. It’s a reminder to only focus on the next step.

I encourage you, if you’re attempting a dream, or wanting to learn something new, or whatever it is, you can do it. Just focus on whatever comes next.

For me, that’s getting the finishing touches done on The Adventure, getting rewards out to the amazing Kickstarter backers, and launching the book Nov. 30th. Oops, that’s shoving too much into the next step. Let’s haul back on the Elephant’s reins. Next step for today, finishing this post.

What’s your next step?

Blessings,

Jennifer

Why It’s Good Writing is Detail Oriented

(Update: The Adventure Kickstarter hit 100% funding this last weekend! It’s still open until October 30th if you wanted to support the project. Anything above and beyond the original goal will go to book donations to school libraries after the Rewards costs.)

A well crafted story carries the reader through, connecting dots in the story, without the reader even seeing the small sign posts that guide them along.

The effort to make such reading so smooth requires an attention to detail that has to be learned. Sure, you can start out with an aptitude for this, but if you’re writing a story of any length, ultimately you have to learn tricks that help you keep track of all your sign posts/details.

Now, I have to tip my hat to people who design books for a living. I thought writing stories was detail oriented…um, designing books is even more so.

Perhaps my view is skewed because I’ve dealt with everything from making sure there are no plot holes, which is technically a part of editing (trust me, when I found a disappearing torch in one of The Adventure stories, my brain about exploded), to margins of the book, cover format, line spacing, text size, page breaks, image formatting…This list is endless.

Here’s one example.

Both The Adventure proof and the journal proof showed up and had blurry covers. Yuck. It about breaks my heart to see such aSpine of the Adventurer's Journal cover.  You can see the issue best on the Journal’s spine here.

Turns out, this issue was because the images weren’t saved at 300 ppi (pixels per inch). Now, I’m no designer. My understanding of Photoshop consists of one high school class (and we won’t even think about how long ago that was) and my digging into it in the last several months to figure out The Adventure. I understand ppi now…I didn’t when I started.

Just goes to show, there’s a reason people go to school for such things…and there’s a reason it takes time, lots of time, to produce your own book.

The Adventure and the Adventurer’s Journal are now updated and the new proofs on the way. I’m fairly confident the blurry issue has been fixed. (The disappearing torch has been rectified as well, don’t worry.)

Needless to say, my attention to detail training in writing has definitely paid off as I dig into producing The Adventure. Thank heavens!

Blessings,

Jennifer

Check out The Adventure Kickstarter!

The Editor Connection

Silverville Swindle, The Editor Connection Blog Post

In my last post, I talked about how interconnected publishing is!

I talked about all the amazing people I’ve met in my life who are now helping me, people I never would have thought to ask before I started this process.

My Editor is just one such person. Originally, I researched editors and reached out to see who I could hire. You can read here how well that went. It felt something like mud in the face while riding my motorcycle. Ouch!

But then I reached out to an English Professor of mine from college who is published. I asked for his advice on the Editor issue. This is where my research failed me and other people amazed me. If I’d been paying attention, I would have realized Mark Todd’s wife was an editor. I knew he was co-authors with his wife but my digging stopped there.

Mark gave me wonderful advice about the type of editing I needed (there are several types), and then went a step further and offered to connect me with his wife, Kym. Tears and much joyous jumping up and down ensued. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t record it. It might have been a bit embarrassing =)

Now The Adventure is edited and I couldn’t be happier with how honest and straightforward and kind Kym is in her work.

Here’s my chance to pay the kindness back.

As I said, Mark and Kym are published authors. Their writing is fun, irreverent and sometimes spooky =)

My first introduction to their books came by way of the Silverville Swindle (Now Little Green Men). (Colorado folks, you might recognize some of the characters in this story and you’ll probably be chuckling at how accurate and irritating some of them are!)

This book is followed by The Magicke Outhouse and All Plucked Up to make up the Silverville Saga.

Then there’s poetry if that’s your style… Wire Song and Tamped, But Loose Enough to Breathe

And there’s a ghost hunting guide in Wild West Ghosts

Like I said, fun, irreverent and sometimes spooky!

Check out Mark Todd and Kym O’Connell-Todd here: Write in the Thick of Things (Word-of-Mouth is the best way to support authors. Pass on their books if you enjoy them!)

Who do you like to read? Please share below. I’m always looking for new stories to get lost in.

Blessings,

Jennifer M Zeiger

(P.S. Thank you, Mark and Kym, for all your support!)