Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How to Describe Hair Color

How to Describe Hair Color

 
From natural colors to funky streaks of blue and pink, hair color can help a reader visualize and even understand your character better. There are a few basic shades; blonde, brown, red, black, gray, and white. Why leave it at that? You want a vivid description of your characters so the reader can place together the different attributes the author has given them to create a fictional character in their mind.
 
Below is a list of descriptive words to liven up the natural colors, but don't stop at just describing the colors differently with fancy-dancy words. Remember characters can have almost any color hair you want to give them thanks to an invention called hair dye. There are highlights and lowlights. Natural hair color has highlights too. Exposed roots from where the hair has grown out which is a good description for explaining a disheveled character or someone who isn't vain about their looks and carefree.
 
Don't forget you can also describe hair color without using color at all.
Example: Her hair was as smooth and dark as melted decadent chocolate.  

Here are a list of different words to expand from the natural hair colors.

Blonde: ash, flaxen, golden, honey, platinum, tawny, wheaten, sandy, strawberry, dishwater, fair, bleached

Brown: bronze, mousy, sandy, chestnut, mahogany, russet, sorrel, ash, muddy

Red: ginger, copper, flaming, fiery, auburn, sable, terra-cotta, ruby, crimson, carrot, burgundy

Black: ebony, sooty, raven, jet, greasy, ink, midnight, obsidian, onyx

Gray: steel, silver, ash, salt and pepper, iron

White: ivory, pearl, snowy, cotton ball, milky, fleecy

You can find some of these descriptions in my debut novel, Culture Shock. I like to bring my characters alive with descriptive writing. Hair color is just one aspect, but it can say a lot  about a character, so don't skip over this seemingly insignificant detail.

***Read an excerpt from Culture Shock, my debut novel and a love story with a dangerous edge.

CULTURE SHOCK is a witty tale of mystery and romance with a large helping of southern hospitality.
Macy Holmes is a seventeen-year-old socially-isolated introvert since her best friend's death a year ago. When her family decides to move from Manhattan to the quaint country town of Bougainvillea, Florida, Macy finds she's in a completely different world. Macy is no longer the outsider hiding behind designer clothes when she is sought out by three strange students, one of whom she is particularly interested in. The more time she spends with Chad the more things don't add up. When his true identity is finally revealed, Macy is pulled into a supernatural society with its saturation of inhabitants residing in Bougainvillea.
You would think she has enough on her plate, but no, then her dreams become infiltrated by an external magical force, Macy and her band of supernatural misfits must find the culprit behind the magic-induced nightmares. They must dodge zombie assassins, shifty shape-shifters and high school bullies in order to stop this perpetrator before Macy, her friends or her parents pay the ultimate price. Especially when Macy has the sneaking suspicion that these dreams are reality...
Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Createspace, and right here on this blog (see the sidebar).
 
Happy Reading!!!
XOXO,
J

Monday, July 29, 2013

What's Your Writing Routine?

What's Your Writing Routine?



Do you have a routine as a writer? Is there a specific setting you are most comfortable in? Music or silence? Busy coffee shop or an office? Share with us what your routine is while writing.

Here's mine:

I used to be able to write much more often than I do now, so the frequency of my writing spouts are sporadic, but I still carry the same routine each time. First off, I make the biggest, most caffeinated pot of coffee I can. I'll set up my laptop in the meantime while I'm waiting for my pot of coffee to brew. Then I will sit either in the backyard (if I'm watching kids) or in a locked bedroom (if hubby is watching kids) and type away, taking sips from my coffee frequently (actually between paragraphs unless I'm on a roll). While I'm writing I like to have music without lyrics playing softly in the background. My favorite is the Skyrim station on Pandora. The sh*t kicks a$$. It's the perfect mix of soothing and action-packed. It has its highs and lows and is perfect for my genre of writing.

This routine has helped me to stay comfortable and inspired. So what's your routine? Have any quirks (like wearing your lucky underwear while writing)? Do you have a beverage or snack nearby? Are you surrounded by family or in solitude?

Please share. I'd love to know what your routine is when you write...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Random Topic Thursday : Morbid Thoughts

Random Topics : Morbid Thoughts



Because I'm feeling stabby today here are some morbid thoughts. It's been a craptastic day in my world and strangely enough, these thoughts are cheering me up...

If a person dies and then springs back to life, do they get their money back for the coffin?
(Money Back Guarantee for Zombies???)


Do they bury people with their braces on?
(They shouldn't. Family members could cash in on the scrap metal...just saying...)

If ghosts can walk through walls and glide down stairs, why don't they fall through the floor?
(Right? The law should still apply?)


If laughter is the best medicine, who's the idiot who said they 'died laughing'?
(Sometimes it's the medication that kills us)

When lightning strikes the ocean why don't all the fish die?
(It's because God likes Sushi)


Do Jewish vampires avoid crosses or Stars of David?
(I'd have to say all religious idols apply)


Why do we sing "Rock a bye baby" to lull a baby to sleep when the song is about putting your baby in a tree and letting the wind crash the cradle on the ground?
(And you wonder where those Mothers get ideas to harm their children...it's been there all along)


How does Freddy Kruger wipe his butt?
(I say this all the time about women who get those ridiculous talon claw-length acrylic nails...how on earth can they wipe their butts with those things on? Same applies for Freddy Kruger...)


Is it appropriate to say "good mourning" at a funeral?
(I guess it depends on whose funeral you're attending. Some people just can't take a joke.)


Ahh, I feel better now. My day is a little poopish. Back to work. Later Suckers!!!!

Heart,
J

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

TBR: To Be Reading .... My List is Growing

TBR : "To Be Read"


The List is Growing


I'm trying to finish off some books. One caught me off guard and I had an emotional reaction to it so I had to set it aside for a while. It hit too close to home for the time being. But here is what I'm currently reading along with what is on my TBR list. All this while writing Book #2, Shock Wave. LOL.

Currently Reading:



To Be Read:




The Birth of a Book: Becoming an Author and Publishing a Novel

The Birth of a Book: Becoming an Author and Publishing a Novel


This is Part 3. Click these links for Part 1 and Part 2

The writing, editing, and publishing process was such a long and extensive journey that I finding it hard to remember all the steps I took.

We covered the writing in part 1 and the editing in part 2.

We started on Cover Design, but never finished.

The cover design was so difficult. Not to mention every channel (KDP, Pubit, Createspace) want a different size or format. Argh! I had already chosen my cover image, so next was the font of the words. I went to http://www.dafont.com/ and chose a free font that I loved. It's fancy and romantic but looks like dripping blood. Romantically Gruesome! Perfect!

My cover designer and I must have tried 15 different placements of the title and author name on the cover. But it just didn't work until the graphic designer at my office suggested using a strip of grunge wallpaper behind the lettering to make it pop. I had never heard of it, so I went and Googled it. Found a super-awesome-mega-extreme one that I loved and put it behind the lettering. Perfection!

After a few more sizing adjustments, we were golden.

So I had my cover, ISBNs, and my business was formed. I still had to format. After doing some research I found it was fairly easy. I couldn't imagine having to pay Createspace or other author services to do it for me. One lesson I learned is to format while writing to cut out that extra step. That's what I'm doing with Book 2, Shock Wave.

I turned up some Snoop Dogg and did some page breaks after each chapter, did my cover pages (copyright page, title page, dedication page), did the table of contents and made sure all the text was within the format that was needed for uploading to Amazon's KDP. It took literally 20 minutes.

I was ready to upload to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Createspace (for my paperback) when I learned that all three required different formatting. No  problem.

The ebooks didn't require page numbers so with the paperback version you had to make your electronic file look exactly how it will on each page. I had the hardest time with the page numbers (getting them to go on the outsides of the pages, so I gave up with that and put them in the middle of the pages). For ebooks the ToC is hyperlinked to the chapters (reasoning for the page/chapter breaks and ToC without page numbers - all ereaders are different sizes), so for the paperback I had to do a real table of contents. Plus, I did an author page with a pic and bio of me in the back of the paperback.

I had done all of this, but I still hadn't received any real useful feedback so as my photographer friend and I were talking she mentioned that she can't wait to read it. She's extremely intelligent and very literary (she's also a talented poet) so I offered to give her an advanced copy if she could help me with some final edits and changes.

She gave me what I needed. A comprehensive edit. She read and re-read it to find errors and inconsistencies within the text and we were able to rid the novel of many errors. I'm sure there are still some, but you show me even one (professionally published included) book without an error and I'll bow down to you because so far I haven't encountered one.

So I had the completed versions uploaded and ready to present to the public. I was so nervous at this point. From the advanced readers, I was given the idea that it was really good, but I knew them all personally. I wanted to hear from a complete stranger that they liked it. So that was the true test. Will the public accept Culture Shock and love it?

Marketing. The endless task. Marketing when you're self-published is so important. I started marketing early on. I started when I first started writing Culture Shock. I started this blog first, Adventures of Life and Literature, to document my journey as a writer, to give book reviews, and to spout the random strange musings of my brain.

Then I discovered the world of Twitter and have over 2000 followers. I created a Goodreads account as a reader a while ago and then opened an author account with Goodreads. It's a fantastic networking site for authors. It helps create that bond between reader and writer. The giveaways have received many entries through that site. Finally, I got on Facebook and Pinterest. I also have a website where you can learn more about the book, author, etc. jeanettepekala.com

So the book was now up for sale and I was hoping since I hyped it up big time up until the release date, I would get tons of sales. Not so....it is very difficult to sell books. Don't get me wrong, my sales are steady and I'm happy with the progress and attention, but please don't have delusions of rolling in the dough. It takes self-published authors a while to become recognizable to a few people besides family and friends. Hopefully, you or I can gain popularity quickly and sales will skyrocket, but for the meantime it's steady, but I'm happy.

Blog tours have been a supertastic outlet for this author! Dedicated readers who have review blogs will read your book and write reviews. They cost anywhere from $20 and up. Depending on what you're looking for. A cover reveal, review post, interviews, promos, etc. They have gained me many bits of attention and quite a few sales.

I keep plucking away with my networking and have distributed these beautiful bookmarks and done many giveaways. But you or anyone else who purchases ebooks know, reviews sell books. If it doesn't have at least 100 reviews/ratings, I don't even consider it unless it's free. I know...I'm so bad, but we are all guilty of it. So that's my goal is to raise the number of reviews so people will stop and take a look.

I've been getting some great reviews from complete strangers so I've accomplished what I set out to do. Bring hours of enjoyment and entertainment into people's lives. I can't wait for book 2 to come out. It should be ready in the fall.

So that's my story so far. Share your story. Your failures or successes. I would love to hear them.


***Read an excerpt from Culture Shock, my debut novel and a love story with a dangerous edge.

You can stalk me on:

Email: jdpekala@gmail.com







Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Birth of a Book: Becoming an Author and Publishing a Novel

The Birth of a Book: Becoming an Author and Publishing a Novel


To read the first part of the story, click here.

Ah, so where did we leave off. Yes, that's right...my epiphany of when I discovered that I truly wanted to self-publish sort of. My book is published through a publishing company, but I own that company. Hey, it still counts.

I finally had gotten through the editing. It was terrible. Absolutely hell on earth, but the final product is worth it, but I still hadn't received some helpful feedback. I was so burnt out on the editing that I had to put the book aside.

I decided to start my own publishing company and have Culture Shock's series be its very first title. I plan to take on other authors in the future, but for the time being it's only me. I'm unfortunately only one person and can only handle so much. I then became an official business owner of TNT Publishing, LLC.

I started researching about formatting and cover design. I decided not to go with Createspace author services because I figured I was smart enough to format on my own and not pay someone to do it for several hundred dollars, plus I found that Createspace will list themselves as your publishing company, especially if you use their free ISBN, so I negated that route.

I started searching around about copyrighting my book. I do own the rights to it, but never actually got it copyrighted. It's expensive, timely, and unnecessary. The book is my own and I read that if you wrote it, it's yours and I have proof if it's even brought before the courts so I didn't stress on that front.

Next came the ISBN number fiasco.

Do not...I repeat, do not get an ISBN # from anywhere else except Bowker (see link below). They are the official site. I tell you this because, I tried saving a few cents and went with a company that claimed their ISBNs were half of what Bowker costs. It was true and I thought I had beat the system. They seemed totally legit until I went to assign those ISBNs (since you need separate ones for the ebook and paperback) to my publishing company. It said that those ISBNs were already owned by someone else. So I went online and typed in my ISBNs and found they were owned by MooDoo Productions or something like that. I was P.O.ed. I couldn't believe I wasted $70 on ISBNs that I don't own the rights to and I would never want the word MooDoo associated with my book.

So I researched some more and found out about companies that do that and don't tell you up front. I knew something was fishy when they said to email them my book information but didn't ask for the publishing company.

So I went to Bowker and got my official ISBNs. I ordered 10 so all my numbers would by in sync for future projects. It cost about $250, but it was worth it. I don't have to order another ISBN for a very long time and they are mine. Or at least TNT Publishing's. Here is the link for Bowker: http://isbn.org/standards/home/index.asp

After acquiring ISBNs for my publishing company, I started talking with a photographer friend of mine regarding cover design. I knew already that I didn't want some generic cover art, plus authors have been running into problems to where cover designers are using the exact same cover image on book after book. No thank you. I want an original. My photographer friend really wanted to do it for me. I love her work, she's truly amazing but I was nervous that she would not be able to pull off what I was looking for.

I took the chance.

We drove down to Micanopy, FL which is just one town north of where Bougainvillea, FL (the fictional town in Culture Shock) is located. It's a picturesque little town with tons of history. It's fabulous. So we drove down there on a weekday with 6 kids in the back of her minivan and did the photo shoot for Culture Shock. We went to various locations. It took her about 2 months to edit about 5 phenomenal cover images for me to choose from. I was torn between two. I was hoping it would speak to me and I would know it was the one (much like my wedding dress did), but it didn't. It was tough. I was trying to choose the right image for marketing purposes, what encompasses the story and tone I'm looking for and to really showcase the main character's personality. I decided early on that there would be a theme to my covers. It would be Macy Holmes, the main character, on each cover alone with her back facing the reader to see what she sees.

I loved the image now the choose the font and placement of the title and my name. It sounds easy, but was much harder than we both imaged.

Tune in tomorrow for more of the trials and tribulations associated with the Birth of a Book.

Happy Reading,

Jeanette P


***Read an excerpt from Culture Shock, my debut novel and a love story with a dangerous edge.

CULTURE SHOCK is a witty tale of mystery and romance with a large helping of southern hospitality.
Macy Holmes is a seventeen-year-old socially-isolated introvert since her best friend's death a year ago. When her family decides to move from Manhattan to the quaint country town of Bougainvillea, Florida, Macy finds she's in a completely different world. Macy is no longer the outsider hiding behind designer clothes when she is sought out by three strange students, one of whom she is particularly interested in. The more time she spends with Chad the more things don't add up. When his true identity is finally revealed, Macy is pulled into a supernatural society with its saturation of inhabitants residing in Bougainvillea.

You would think she has enough on her plate, but no, then her dreams become infiltrated by an external magical force, Macy and her band of supernatural misfits must find the culprit behind the magic-induced nightmares. They must dodge zombie assassins, shifty shape-shifters and high school bullies in order to stop this perpetrator before Macy, her friends or her parents pay the ultimate price. Especially when Macy has the sneaking suspicion that these dreams are reality...
 
 
Stalk me:
Email: jdpekala@gmail.com
 





Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Birth of a Book : Becoming an Author and Publishing a Novel

The Birth of a Book

This will be a series of posts. It includes my experience of becoming a debut author and my trials and tribulations along the way with lessons learned, tips and other fun stuff.


First off, let's start with the writing. I got the concept for Culture Shock, my debut YA paranormal novel, from a nightmare. The nightmare was so intense and real. It left me freaked out for the rest of the night, but I wrote down the entire nightmare and it became the climax of Culture Shock. You need to have great ideas/concepts and jot down everything. Any idea about the plot, scenarios, characters, settings, etc. EVERYTHING!

It took me 3 months to write the first draft of Culture Shock. Most people find that shocking, but it just flowed. The story was literally spewing out of my mind and onto the page. Where I needed more clarification, I researched. This was the easy part for me.

Next...my dreaded nemesis...editing. Oh, editing how I loathe thee. Even though it only took three months to write the first draft, it took 8 months to edit it to where I wanted it. I like to separate the creative process from the technical process. I do not edit while I'm writing. Never. It will screw up your creative juices, drink them dry, and you'll be left second guessing everything. Don't edit while writing your first draft; you'll only bug yourself out.

I probably went through the draft 28 times before I felt it was right for my proofreaders. I chose four people that were close to me, but little did I know, I chose the wrong people for proofreading. They would tell me they loved it, but I have yet to have one of them tell me an error or inconsistency. It wasn't until right before publishing that I received some real feedback.

Oh wait, I take that back...one proofreader told me I spelled 'crash' wrong on p.78. One error though there were many in a book of nearly 700 pages. Wow!

Next, I tried the traditional publishing path. I researched agents. Even made a darn spreadsheet of them and queried almost every single one of them that would except my genre. I did hours upon hours of research and queried so many agents, but it was futile. They weren't interested. I can sleep at night knowing that out of the 500,000-250,000 submissions each agency receives a year, they usually only publish 5, so I didn't feel so bad.

So I decided to self-publish with a twist. I started my own publishing company, TNT Publishing, LLC. Yes, as of right now I'm the only author, but I plan to take on more one day. For right now, it's just me.

I was a little down about now being picked up by an agent, but being the person I am, I always look on the bright side. I have freedom to be as creative as I'd like and I get to choose my title and cover. I won't have to fight to keep a certain scene in my book. I didn't have to answer to anyone and it felt great. I could be as artistically free as I'd like, which should be how art is developed with a freedom mixed with passion and strong feelings, not some business venture.

So now came more research. How to self-publish...tune in tomorrow for the second part of this series, The Birth of a Book.


***Read an excerpt from Culture Shock, my debut novel and a love story with a dangerous edge.

or contact me:

Email: jdpekala@gmail.com