Inevitable

Swirling stars

Crashing into oblivion

And I fall back into you

 

Unbuttoning the sky

With my wandering fingers

To reveal the empty abyss

 

Nature is laughing

As we weep over futility

Realizing it was all inevitable destruction

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Five Tips For Boosting Your Self-Publishing Career

So I’ve learned a lot in the last couple of years about self-publishing, and writing in a self-publishing world. I love to share with you guys, in hopes that it will help you along the way. With that in mind, here are five things I’ve either learned personally, or observed about other self-published writers who are quite successful (remember, you can’t make it to the top without climbing the ladder).

1. Take Time to Be Kind: This is important, especially in the ocean of the social internet. You’re forgettable, both as a writer , and as a person, unless you make yourself stand out. You spend all your time striving to make your writing unforgettable, but take extra time to make yourself as a person unforgettable. The best way to do this is to be genuinely kind. This doesn’t mean some saccharine sweet charade. No, reach down into that heart and find some empathy, give some encouragement. Do the small things, retweet a tweet, read a blog, leave a comment, show interest in other beings, try to make them smile. We all need to smile. Do the big things when you can, read a book, leave a review, beta other peoples work. Writing is a (online) community activity. Sure sometimes we get busy as heck with writing/editing/depression, but we should always come back and participate in the community at some point. And remember, if you’re memorable as an ass, no amount of amazing writing is going to make people forget that (unless you’re aiming to be infamous).

2. Write Short Stories: I cannot emphasize this enough, practice makes your writing better! No duh, right? But there are so many writers out there just ‘trying to finish that novel’. Don’t let yourself become overly fixated on longer works. Don’t stop working on that novel by all means, but take a break, write something short and sweet, then beta it. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before. By doing this you’re discovering some of your writer weaknesses in almost real-time. Also you’re finishing something. Can you imagine that? Finishing something. I write as many short stories as I can on the side (yes I’m working on a novel, four actually), and I find they also make great promotion tools as well. Nice sample of your writing for the readers, great for sending to open submissions, awesome for putting together in a themed book to boost your library. Which brings me to my third point-

3. Write Books: See, now you’re laughing, or rolling your eyes, or both at the same time. If you want to be a writer that makes any sort of (here’s my excuse to keep writing) income at all, you’re going to have to treat it like a (second) job. Write as many damn books and stories as you can. When people look at your for-sale library, they’ll be impressed to find more than three well put together works (remember, well put together, not sloppy). This might take a few years, but if you seriously want to be a writer for the rest of your life (that’s the dream), you need to put in the hours. One book is not going to do it. Sound hard? What good things were gotten easily? Not many. As long as you actually enjoy writing though (this should be a prerequisite), then you shouldn’t have too much trouble with this. That brings me to point four-

4. Write What You are Passionate About: Ok, so market research is awesome, but that’s all wasted time if you’re trying to make yourself write a story you either a: hate the guts of or B: couldn’t care less about. People will notice. Or worse, nobody will notice you at all. Passion is important. So find a market, doesn’t matter if it’s a smaller market, and write the best damn book in that market. Dominate that market, make it your servant! Get the whips out! Ok, Ok, let’s not get too carried away… You get the point. ; )

5. Don’t Be Exclusive: Being successful isn’t all about good writing, good writing is only part of the equation (an important part). It’s also about being accessible, findable (not a word), known by people. So don’t stick to one site. This goes for publishing, as well as marketing. Don’t just publish with Smashwords, and don’t just publish with Amazon. Get your book to as many retailers as you can possibly manage. As marketing goes, don’t just hang out on Facebook, or just Twitter. Find a few hangouts. Sure you don’t have to go nuts and spend all your time on all sorts of sites, but go where the people are, and find somewhere you enjoy being. Look for things that have low time impact too. I love twitter, because I don’t have to post everyday, I don’t have to log in everyday, but yet I’m getting a steady climb in followers. I use Deviantart for the same reason, and because it facilitates my passion for art. I don’t have a Facebook, because I don’t like Facebook, they’re nosy creepy twats as far as I’m concerned. If you can tag me in a photo that shows just the back of my head, then you’re just aiding the coming robot invasion. Bottom line, find what works for you, but try new things. Worst that can happen is it doesn’t work. That’s what ‘delete account’ settings are for.

How to Make Heat Activated Spell Sachets

LOVE this spell sachet idea from ‘Moody Moons’!

Moody Moons

Get cozy with this unique, creative, winter-friendly take on the traditional spell sachet or “mojo bag.”

This heat-activated spell idea upcycles your scrap fabric, herbs and leftover essential oils for a custom magickal spell charm that’s sure to warm your heart.

So pull up a chair, grab a cup of hot tea and start witch crafting!

winter witchcrafting.jpg

The idea for heated spell sachets came to me during one of my deep dives into the creative abyss of my Pinterest feed.

Stuffing stockings became a favorite Yule tradition of mine from the very first year I took home a real paycheck and finally got to give gifts of my own.

So I took an immediate interest in the trend du jour for DIY stocking stuffers this year—DIY hand warmers.

You essentially make basic sachets, stuff them with microwave-safe natural filler (like rice or flaxseed) and heat them up to warm your hands/pockets…

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Tips for making your own book cover (updated version)

So dear readers, as promised I’m going to talk to you about the dreaded book cover!

I know that most of my followers are writers, and often self-published as well, or considering that route. When you’re in that situation, the more information you can find, the better. So to that aim, here’s a short tutorial, chalk full of links and helpful hints. I’ll keep this short (it’s around 1200 words) because I know how little you want to wade through a word heavy slog of a tutorial : D

We can start with the question: Pay for it, or make it? There’s nothing wrong with paying someone else to make your book cover, if you can afford it. There’s also nothing wrong with accruing a hardcore useful-as-all-fuck skill. Pre-made book covers are expensive (if you don’t have extra money). Unless you’re some triple-bestseller writer, you don’t have money coming out of your ears. Your expenses will quickly overtake your income.

Alright, let’s begin. ❤

1. What program do I use?: I used Microsoft Word, something that most writers have on their computer. I will have to experiment with open office sometime, just to see. Don’t feel like you have to stick to one program either, do what works. Aside from MW the one program I see most recommended by self-published writers is GIMP https://www.gimp.org/ It’s useful, but also very, very complex. As a free download though, I highly suggest getting it and playing around.

2: So how do I start?: Let’s get the size right first! I’ve used a width of 11″ and a height of 16″, and that’s worked very well for me. Need to change this is Microsoft word? Go to ‘layout’, then ‘page setup’, then ‘paper’ (may vary in different versions). Alright, pretty blank little canvas, let’s tear it up.

3. Where do I get pictures?: Every book cover has a picture, and believe it or not, you have tons of resources when it comes to pictures. Let’s list the top options.

  1. My camera. Don’t be afraid to try to produce your own photos. Of course most people want models, so this option is not for most. However, if you have an idea in mind, pursue it, see if it works.
  2. Create your own artwork. I did this with my first book of poetry and don’t regret it. This requires art skills of course.
  3. Stock photos. These are free to use, sometimes with caveats, so read all documentation carefully. I’m only going to list the sites I’ve used personally, but there are a ton out there.

pexels is great, no attribution required. The downside is the spare selection, and most likely over-used photos. Just remember you can crop photos, or otherwise alter them to make them look new.

morguefile has a huge selection! All photos must be altered if used though (no sweat, that’s easy to do).

deviantart has a lot of user generated stock photos. Always, always check the posters rules though, since they vary widely. Most of these have a caveat about use in pornographic material or such (I’m not sure if this extends to erotica, which is of course not porn, but people get touchy).

scarlettcox.com has this awesome little blog post just for erotica writers (but also has a lot of other stock photo links). It goes into detail about things you need to be careful about as an erotica writer.

4. How do I make my font look all cool?: So the oft given advice is to not use Microsoft word fonts for your cover. What’s a writer to do? Here’s the site I used https://www.dafont.com/, which is user-generated. PRO-TIP: on the very right of the font it will say things like ‘free for personal use’, ‘donationware’, ‘demo’, or ‘100% free’. You want a font that’s marked 100% free. Unless you find something you like and want to support the maker (kudos to you). Free for personal use means you can’t use it on things like book covers (or you may have to contact the maker of the font for permission) FYI.

5. How will I know what a successful layout looks like?: Hit the bestseller list frequently, take notes. Ask yourself what appeals to you, what makes you want to hit that link like it’s hot. PRO-TIP: Borders are out. They look tacky (unless done well). Most smooth looking book covers have a background picture that seems to expand past the frame and out of sight, and if it merges with blocks of color it merges softly and unobtrusively.

6. Ok. I have all the parts, now how do I put them together?: Since this is a basic tutorial, I’m not going to go into lush detail (but this super useful blog does https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2013/10/20/book-cover-design-ms-word/). Instead I’ll list the top tools in Microsoft word.

1. Insert. VERY important. Try it first. Insert a picture, then make sure to go to ‘format picture’ and find the ‘wrap text’ button. Choose ‘behind text’. Other wise you won’t be able to move the picture around the way you want. The other type of insert you’ll be doing frequently is ‘insert shape’. This is awesome for placing text on the page. Go ahead and insert a rectangle, right click and add text. Once you’ve done that, just go to ‘format’ and find your ‘shape fill’ and ‘shape outline’, and select ‘no fill’ and ‘no outline’. That way it will just be text in front of your photo, or other colored blocks. PRO-TIP: If you want to tweak the opacity (how see through the photo is) you simply insert a shape, then go to ‘shape fill’ and select ‘picture’. In my version of word you have to open ‘more options’ so you get a side bar, go to the fill section (under the little paint bucket) and you should find the ‘transparency’ bar there.

2:Remove background. If you want to get all fancy and ‘photo shop’ go to the ‘format’ section of your picture and look for ‘remove background’. Once you click that it will show you the picture with a bunch of blocks of pink color (that’s what will be removed), with a little tweaking you may be able to pare the picture down to what you like.

3.Send backward and bring forward. This is handy if you put a picture in on top of an existing design. You can also find this in ‘format’

4. selection pane. This will save you a shitload of time. Go to ‘home’ and then ‘select’ (just like when you plan on copying all the text) ‘selection pane’ should be there. Once it pops up as a side board it will show you all the different objects on your page, which allows you to easily select the one you want to work on even if you can no longer see it.

7.How do I turn this damn thing into a JPG?: Go to ‘save as’ save the file as a PDF. Then go to https://pdf2jpg.net/ or a similar site.

8. Anything else?: Take your time and play around, get comfortable. Once you’ve got something you like, find a critique group, or get feedback from a reliable (and honest) friend. Whatever you do, make sure you start making your book cover long before you plan on publishing.

A few other useful links:

http://www.creativindie.com/resources/ (tons of useful stuff here)

https://blog.snappa.com/free-stock-photos/ (a huge list of stock photo sites to check out)

 

Have questions, comments? Other useful advice? Did I screw something up? Tell me below! : D

Meno<3

 

 

 

 

 

The necessity of being

This poem by ‘thefeatheredsleep’ is so well written. Dark, thoughtful, and hopeful all at the same time…

TheFeatheredSleep

Men came out

Women emerged

No children

The children were gone

What happened the first month?

Outside bars and cement

Away from gas chamber

When legs and arms, mere bone

Unshackled could move once more

How

Did you pick up your lives then?

Learn the grace of living

No one has ever said

Something so horrific cannot be vented

It can only transform into fire

from survival we are born, once more

A second life

Not a child, not young

Nor unscathed, but covered in scars

They are our metal, winking silver and rose

We do not stand in new bones

But those that know the feeling of kneeling

Begging for the end to come

And when it did not

When we survived

Despite their best attempt to smother

It is a land of ash and terror

To navigate and put back together

Those shattered pieces of self

Willing meaning…

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