Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Accomplishments for 2013

Personally and professionally, 2013 was a productive year for me.  In many ways, it was a year of setting events in motion, and it was certainly a year of big changes.

First, my advice to you, gained through experience.  Write a list of your own accomplishments for 2013.  You will probably be impressed with what you got done.  It's a great way to get some perspective, to see where your stand currently, and to give you an idea of what to do in 2014.  I don't do New Year's resolutions, because I'm constantly improving and making minor course adjustments as I learn how to live better.

Here is what I accomplished last year:

  • Polished up my 3D modeling demo reel, and added a train model.
  • Moved from Santa Cruz to Orange, California, to be closer to the entertainment industry.
  • Got my son into school.
  • Primarily squeeked by financially by writing hundreds of articles as a freelancer.
  • Edited several books.
  • Ran the successful Kickstarter for my upcoming novel, Bodacious Creed.
  • Published Bodacious Success, an article about how I ran my Kickstarter campaign.
  • Created, the book's website.
  • Wrote the first 31,400 words of Bodacious Creed during NaNoWriMo.
  • Got a car.
  • Started this blog, From Idea To Art.
  • Read many novels.
Here are the things I've set in motion that will fall into place in 2014:

  • Started Bodacious Creed, the novel, which I hope to publish in August.
  • Arranged after school day care for my son, so that I can finally get a job outside the house (I'm a single father).  He's going to start soon.
  • Signed up with temp services and art agencies so that, hopefully, finding work won't take long.
  • Began a new modeling project, creating characters from Boacious Creed.  I hope to use them to update my demo reel this year.
  • Began to study book marketing, and will apply what I learn to my own books.
Those are the major points!  What did you accomplish in 2013?  I'd love to hear about it!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Applied Modeling

I was very happy to see yesterday that one of the Atheist pendants I sell in my Shapeways Model Shop sold yesterday.  A silver one, no less!

I've sold a couple of those, and would certainly like to sell more!

Here's where we come to the helpful part of this blog.

You could say that I'm an aspiring marketer.  To be honest, I've done a terrible job with marketing in the past, particularly of my existing books.  However, I'm studying how to improve that currently.  As I mentioned yesterday, I'm going to review the marketing book I'm currently reading, once I've finished it.

My first big marketing success came when I ran my Kickstarter campaign for my upcoming novel, Bodacious Creed.  One of the things I learned, and that helped quite a bit, was how to share the campaign on Facebook.  You want to get the word out, but you don't want to come off as begging for money.  My posts would essentially "I'm running a Kickstarter campaign for my upcoming stampunk zombie western novel! Come see what it's all about!"  These, I posed to groups and pages related to the topic, where such posts are acceptable.

I should probably do the same for these pendants, now that they've sold a few.

Monday, December 30, 2013

I just updated my page on Amazon's Author Central!

I've been reading a book about Kindle marketing, and I will review it for you all once I've finished.  Getting back to my Amazon page is one of the steps I'm taking.

I'll have more interesting updates in the coming month!  December, as I'm sure all of you can imagine, has been extremely busy.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Review of Carlton Mellick III's "Clusterfuck"

If you haven’t read a bizarro novel yet, you are seriously missing out.  The genre takes all the gore of the freakiest horror movies, throws in strange sex and absurd ideas, and gives us some of the most entertaining and often hilarious novels available.

Carlton Mellick III is often called the godfather of bizarro fiction, and his frat boy spelunking horror novel, Clusterfuck, is a sick, demented, and thoroughly entertaining read.

Technically, Clusterfuck is the sequel to Mellick’s novel Apeshit, a favorite among his fans, though it isn’t necessary to read the first before reading the second.  Both are tributes to B horror films, but while Apeshit is about high school kids in a secluded mountain cabin, Clusterfuck is about seven college students who go spelunking in the caves under that same mountain.

The students include Dean, a douchebag frat boy with lactating breasts, Trent, who was encouraged to be an asshole by his mother and has risen to the challenge, Lauren, a seemingly sweet sorority girl with a hell of a disgusting fetish, and adopted sisters Selina and Marta, whose fucked-up secrets are two awesome to give away in a review.

These fools—and yes, all the main characters are all fools—go caving in Turtle Mountain despite warnings from a local ranger to stay the hell out of there.  For Trent, this is all a player, PUA style scheme to get laid.
If you are claustrophobic at all, take this as a warning: Mellick’s protagonists get themselves literally into a lot of tight spots, and not the sexy kind.  I don’t know if this book will help or exacerbate claustrophobia, but I got a thrill out of those intense scenes.

What else is under the ground besides tight spaces?  How about white-eyed children, immortal mutants, and radioactive crystals?  Yep, all there.   We also learn more about what the hell was going on in Apeshit, including the likely background of a couple of monsters in that book.

I’ve read and loved nearly thirty of Mellick’s novels, and I recommend this one as highly as any of the others.  If bizarro sounds intriguing to you, this is a great first book to get you into the genre.  If it sounds too strange and freaky, try it anyway.  You just might become disgusted with yourself when you find that you really, really like it.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

NaNoWriMo Has Concluded

Howdy, Friends!
This entry is going to serve triple duty.  It is an update to the Bodacious Creed Kickstarter page, and a new post to both my Bodacious Creed and From Idea to Art blogs.
NaNoWriMo has concluded!  Alas, I did not technically "win" this year.  The goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel over the course of November.  My word count came to 31,400.  Still, that's 31,400 words of Bodacious Creed written!
Why not the 50,000?  Well, November was an especially busy month for me.  I've been working to get my son into an after school day care, so that I can get a day job.  This will mean significantly more income, less having to seek out jobs, and more focused creative time.  I'm a single father, and son had the week of Thanksgiving off, from November 21 to 28.  We had a great week, but that also meant less time to write.
Now that he's back in school, I'll have more time to continue with the novel!  I will, of course, continue to keep everyone updated.
I guess the point here is that of the old adage that if you shoot for the starts, you may not reach them, but you may at least reach the moon.  I didn't hit the 50,000 word goal, but 31,400 in a month is something to be proud of.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Writing Misconceptions: Diving In

There's a major misconception about writing that it seems most people have, including many new, aspiring authors.  It's reinforced by television, movies, and even novels, which seems strange to me, since those are created by writers who should know better.

I'm talking about the idea of just diving into a piece of writing without any preparation.  I most recently encountered this meme when watching the second season of "Six Feet Under."  (Yes, I'm just watching the series now.)  Brenda Chenowith decides to write a novel, and, without any preparation, just dives in and starts writing.

Well, not quite.  She does have writer's block the first time she tries, and no wonder.  She sits at her computer being mocked by the blank word processor page.  That part, at least, was accurate.  Don't get me wrong.  I think this show is a brilliant character driven drama, and well written.  I can only suppose that the writers didn't want to bother clarifying to the audience that writing a book or story doesn't work that way, because later, Brenda starts writing and is able to keep it going from then on, not even knowing if she's writing a novel or something else.

In "No Plot? No Problem?" which is a book written specifically for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), author Chris Baty argues the same thing!  It's his contention that one can just start writing a novel without a plan and crank out 50,000 words in a month.  He believes that humans are born storytellers.  I agree with the sentiment, but not with the process.  While I love NaNoWriMo, and am a participant this year (the link goes to my personal page there), this won't work for most people.  I've tried it myself.

Think about it this way.  Could you build a car, or a house, without a plan?  Well, writing needs to be planned out as well.

I'll share more of my own writing process in later entries to this blog.  For now, I'll give a summary of what works for me, and what should work for most writers.

My stories start with an idea or character.  Nope, that's not enough to start the actual writing process.  From there, I take notes and build on the idea.  In doing this, I fill out important information that generates more possibilities.  I may write a character description, and figure out what sort of world he or she is in, or I may start with the idea for the world.  Ideas for conflict begin to emerge, as do possible scenes.

At this point, I keep taking notes and filling in details.  I change what doesn't work.  New characters become necessary, and I create them as well.  Eventually, I have characters, a world, conflict, and I know what the characters are likely to do in pursuit of their goals.  At that point, I start taking notes on scenes.

Eventually, I'm able to put together a plot outline.  For me, outlining most of the story tends to work well.  For a novel, this process may take a few days, or even a month or more.  At that point, I start writing the novel.

A similar process is important for writing articles or school papers.  For those, I start with the topic, and do some research if I need to, noting interesting points.  I jot down what I want to cover, and may brainstorm on more subtopics to include, and write out the order in which I should present those ideas.  That's when I can dive into the text.

I call this sort of work "pre-writing," though different writers have different names for it.  This preparation will save you time and a lot of headache.  Neglecting this stage is the number one cause of writer's block.  Master this process, and your writer's block should all but vanish.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Patronage and My New Patreon Page

I've long thought how nice it would be, as a writer and artist, to have a patron.  The arts are so important, yet they've been cut from school curricula since I was a kid.  It's still happening, too, which blows me away.  I mean, how much more can they cut?

There is support for the arts out there.  Just look at the number of people who donate to PBS.  Still, I think of stories from the Renaissance, when rich donors would pay for artists to create amazing works, often for the public.  It must still happen now.  Nice work if you can get it, as they say.

Patreon is a website that allows anyone to become a patron of the arts.  It's a little like Kickstarter or Indigogo, except that, instead of making one pledge, you set up a monthly pledge.  It doesn't have to be huge, either.  You can bid any whole dollar amount!

I've set up a Patron account for this blog.  It's going to be filled with interesting and useful content for anyone interested in the creative arts, particularly writing and the visual arts.  However, a lot of the tips I share will apply to music, theater, and so on.  It will also include author and artist interviews, book reviews, and whatever else I can think of that may help my fellow creatives thrive.

So, my Patreon page!  If you like what I'm doing with this blog, and want to support me in doing more of it, please become a patron.

I know, this blog is new.  If you need proof of my ability to keep an extensive blog, just check out Bodacious Creed: From Thesis to Novel.  In fact, there's already a lot of terrific information on that page meant to help people bring their ideas to life.  That might be worth some patronage right there.

I have so much more to share, and this is just the beginning.  Please subscribe, share this on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, and consider becoming a patron.