Moving Again

Yep. Moving again, but the circumstances that sadly move us onward are also moving us forward.

Josh and I are moving into some temporary housing thanks to the kindness and generosity of a friend. We’re not sure yet how much we’ll be living out of boxes, but we’ll try to get the basics set up. The next month is going to be hard, but I wont give up. I am going to try to get that manuscript ready and published for Ad-Astra no matter how hard it gets.

I’ve got a great support system and a dedicated editor. Thank you all so much for your patience and support. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. I’m ready for that, but I am in no way ready to give up.

I can’t wait to get this book published.

See you at Ad-Astra :)

WaterRaven

Preview

Here she is! The current mock-up of Detective Docherty and the Vampire’s Mirror!

DDVM Cover Mockup 3 with border

I added a black border so she’d pop. I may make some small alterations still, but I am very happy with this image.Next step is the back cover. Will update with a back cover image as soon as I have a finished mock-up.

Here are the two covers together:

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<3

Would love to know what you think!

Hoping beyond hope that Detective Docherty and the Vampire’s Mirror debuts at Ad-Astra 2015!

~WaterRaven

Victory!

IMG_4730PEOPLE, Detective Docherty and the Vampire’s Mirror is finished! It’s on it’s way to the editor. Thank you to my editor and friend, Amanda Papenfus for making another dream come true. With our powers combined, we hope to have Detective Docherty and the Vampire’s Mirror published and ready for Ad Astra 2015!

If you haven’t read the first book, feel free to check it out on Amazon. Otherwise, I’ll see you at the con!

– WaterRaven

It’s a Wednesday

As many of you know (five readers), it’s been a struggle. I’ve spent half of my life in and out of Dr’s offices and hospitals. It was hard enough to get through school and university with tons of absences and I’ve lost one or two jobs because of it, but all of that pales in comparison to the heartache I feel over an unpublished book. It’s been three years since the publication of my first book, Detective Docherty and the Demon’s Tears, and how patient you’ve all been for the second installment, Detective Docherty and the Vampire’s Mirror. Thank you.

It’s no secret from previous posts that it’s been a long journey. Homelessness, illness, and bouncing between jobs and unemployment, but truthfully it’s the illness that slows me down. I was in the throws of a severe depression when I published my first book. I lost my job, my dog, Raven, and my boyfriend all in one go and I still published it. The only thing that has ever stopped me from writing is illness.

Why all the hospital drama, you ask?

Allergies. It may not sound as glamorous as some other long term or fatal illnesses, but it’s still pretty serious. Anaphylactic shock? No. My killer is silent and slow. I’ve been hospitalized from tonsil and sinus infections, chest infections, asthma, and more recently an inner ear infection. That’s what put me in the hospital last week– not being able to walk or eat because of vertigo. For those of you who have never had it, try to imagine turning your head to the side and the room keeps moving for the next two minutes. I was bumping into walls, tripping on things, and unable to walk to the bathroom by myself. Pure magic.

IMG_3376[1]The good news is, I’m back on my feet– or in the chair. I’m writing again. I wanted to say thank you. THANK YOU for all of you who have supported me and who have waited ever so patiently for Detective Docherty and the Vampire’s Mirror. It’s on it’s way. I promise you. I wont stop until it is done. I will do whatever it takes. I will change my diet, I will buy air purifiers and humidifiers, take meds and naturopathic pills and teas, WHATEVER it takes to get my health on track and get this book finished.

I’ve spoken with my editor, Amanda Papenfus, and we’re going to do everything in our power to get this book ready for Ad Astra in April. I can’t promise it will be IMG_4590[1]
done, but I can promise that I will try. I will try for you.

Either way, I will be at Ad Astra this year with my first book, the first time publication of my short story, A Story of Iolite, my art prints, and maybe, just maybe, Detective Docherty and the Vampire’s Mirror.

Yours truly,

Sarah WaterRaven

P.S. Because I am on lockdown for the next two months while I finish Detective Docherty and the Vampire’s Mirror, updates will be sparse, if I manage any. For those of you looking for quick updates or are interested in keeping up with my artwork, interests, and hobbies, please feel free to check out my tumblr blog. Warning: I blog and reblog A LOT on tumblr.

What I’ve Learned from Editors and Beta Readers

One of the most important things in the self-publishing and indie author world is editing. I don’t care who you are (I do actually. I didn’t mean it), if it isn’t a blog post and you’re selling it, pay an editor to edit it first. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s more than worth it for you and your readers. While e publishing and self-publishing are changing the written world, we still want to fill it with competitive quality. We need to show readers that indie books are worth the price they’re paying for it, because no matter how good you are at writing, you’re always going to need another pair of eyes for editing.

Most indie authors are like me, they didn’t do much past high school English and required University courses, meaning their grammar and mechanics aren’t the best (refer to this article). You might be able to tell one hell of a story, but if your readers keep getting stopped, at too many commas, or notice more than two typos on a page, it’s going to effect their experience, (see what I did there? :D).GoTv1HC-Cov

I’m a Game of Thrones fan and I purchased the graphic novel when it first came out. I love the GOT universe and while I was waiting for Martin’s next book (Please Goddess, don’t let him die) I wanted to immerse myself in the story in a different way. I cannot express how disappointed I was when I found typos and spelling errors in the word bubbles. THE WORD BUBBLES. I’ve held on to it with the full intention of selling it someday when people are looking for the rare fuck up edition of the GOT graphic novel.

With my first publication of Detective Docherty and the Demon’s Tears I paid an editor that I found on Kijiji. I ended up paying over a thousand dollars to someone who did edit my manuscript, but missed a bunch of shit things in the initial printing. I was pretty downtrodden when readers approached me at conventions and e mailed me tdetective_docherty_and_the_demon__s_tears_cover_by_sarahwaterraven-d5c8hi4o give me a list of errors they found throughout the book. When they contacted me I was hoping to hear how much they enjoyed the story or their thoughts on it, but I instead received critiques on my writing.

It was time for a reprint. Even before I decided to send my manuscript to another editor I had wanted to give Detective Docherty a full face-lift and create a new cover. I had noticed through promotion at conventions and bookstores that children were mostly drawn to the original cover art and I wanted to expand my audience. In truth, while children can enjoy my books, they are intended for adults and young adults. Despite my initial errors however, I was determined to polish up my art piece and put it back on the shelves. It’s never too late to make corrections to a manuscript or update a cover. There will always be new readers. DDDT new cover final edits2

While I was working on the new cover art, I sent my manuscript to my friend and now editor, Amanda Papenfus . Having graduated university with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Art, she chopped my story up, and thank the Goddess, that’s exactly what it needed. Amanda worked with my writing style and characters. She didn’t try to change it to what she would have written. I feel that’s important because that’s the whole reason most people start self-publishing in the first place. Not only did she allow me to feel like the story was still mine, but she cleaned it up.

Unfortunately there are always going to be one or two more typos. No matter how good your editor is, if you’re formatting or making a slight change here or there, something’s going to go amiss. Needless to say, we’re all human. Enter Beta Readers. Before placing an order for two hundred books and putting together the guest list for your debut party, order a small number of books (3-5 ) and then give them to beta readers. If you prefer not to spend money on hard copies, send your manuscript via e mail as a PDF. If you’re too paranoid for that, gift e book copies to your beta readers.

“I’m sorry, if I’ve paid an editor, why do I need beta readers again?”

Because I’ve reprinted my manuscript three times too many and have learned the lesson for the both of us. I was too impatient to send my manuscript to beta readers. Save yourself time and ego-bashing and have beta readers catch those last typos before you give your book to new readers and potentially ruin their experience. Let them get lost in the story, not spelling errors.

Before I let you go, a few notes on editors and beta readers:

Editors

– I found my first editor on Kijiji. She did the job for the most part, but she missed a lot and wanted to rewrite my story.

When I first began writing I read a lot of articles in Writer’s Digest and online that reinforced the importance of listening to your editor, so when my editor made suggestions I tried to listen to most of them, but there were areas I would not bend and I am glad I didn’t. My first editor wanted to write out Ares, one of my main characters, and I refused. Thankfully at that, because he continues to be a favorite amongst my readers. Her other advice was solid though and I am glad I followed it.

My point? Main stream articles are written by main stream publishers and editors. You most likely became an indie author because you wanted to write your story your way, good, but that doesn’t mean you might not need help with your sentence structure or developing your characters further. It’s a give and take, take some advice and don’t give a sh*t about the rest.

– Instead of doing a blind search on the internet for an editor like I did, network on the Indie Writer’s Network, Twitter, and Tumblr etc to find an editor that someone else has used and recommends. I got very lucky finding my friend Amanda, but she’s mine, so go to those other websites. Just kidding, she is taking on new clients.

Beta Readers

– Too many beta readers are a bad thing. My first time around I wanted as many people as possible and as many point of views. It was a nightmare. I picked people I knew would love it and people I knew would hate it. Stick with your audience and only a handful at that.

I literally had people telling me it had too much detail, not enough detail, it’s too short, it’s too long. What good are those contradictions? It’s not constructive and leaves you feeling like you can’t make anyone happy. Instead, realize you can’t make everyone happy and stick to your audience.

– Figure out your audience (which really should have been done while writing it and if your editor didn’t catch that, get a new one). Is your story for grown men over fifty or teenage girls who want to fall in love? Once you have your audience, pick a few people you know will get back to you and can spot grammatical errors and typos.

It all takes time. A painful amount of time. Any author who’s been through this process knows why it takes people like George R.R. Martin two years to finish a book and why J.K. Rowling was rejected by so many publishers, but they got through it and they wrote some damn good books. You will too.

Good luck with your publication.

-WaterRaven

Time in a Bottle or UGH I NEED TO GET THIS BOOK DONE!!!!*!*(#&

x-men movie quicksilver days of future past

My mom knew a guy who could control metal.

Unlike Quicksilver, we are all of us limited by time. If you are an artist or author like myself, you most likely wish you could get things done faster. Finish your painting yesterday, have three books out in less than three years, and move on to your autobiography. Sadly, art takes time. Or is it sadly? Perhaps it’s the time it takes and not just the skill that is the art form.

It could be the art of eating, sleeping, working, and writing three books, on top of paying taxes and grocery shopping. It could also be the art of being frustrated, pissed off, and brought to tears– but maybe that’s all part of it too.

I’d love to say that I lock myself up in my room and chain myself to my desk for hours with a slow drip of coffee straight to my veins, but the truth is I can’t sit here that long. The art of writing (or anything) requires a certain amount of focus and then a certain amount of fucking off  dedicating time to other hobbies or activities, plus all that living stuff.

I don’t have the statistics to prove it, but I have a pretty good idea that amade up artist introvert chart good portion of authors and artists out there are introverts. I would think that most of us would need to be because all art requires  a certain amount of time alone. Something introverts thrive on, but if you’re alone too long, lost in your head or fantasies too often, you can slip away from reality or worse, into boring.

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Want to write a sunrise? Go see one.

And I don’t just mean the author gets bored or boring, I mean the story does. The more boring you are, the more likely your story will be. How can you dream about places you’ve never seen or that don’t exist, if you don’t see the ones that already do? How can you describe a culture from pictures on the internet? Or believe all the crap the internet says about it? Go check out a book or check them out yourself. How could you write dialogue between two extroverts if you’re an introvert without any friends? That one’s tough.

Experience, travel, hanging with friends (You must obtain them first. Take it slow. If you rush it they’ll think you’re desperate), and having hobbies outside of your art, that’s what it’s all about. Hey, I’m an introvert too and I know how important alone time is, especially for writing, but I also know that if I hole-up too long, I start to lose inspiration and I lose my interest in my own passion. My story line starts to wither… “His steel wedged its way into bone or something… blah blah blah.”

Crab Nebula in my fish tank copy

I put the crab nebula in a photo of my fish tank once. I don’t know.

The hardest part about writing is sitting down and doing it, but good research and pulling inspiration from every day life will enrich your story. On your way to the library, or to check out a forest you think would be a good place for your trolls to live in, you might come across something different that may inspire you. An event that happens or simple dialogue between people that could become part of your story. The more you live your life, the more life-like your story will be.

Pick up a camera and snap some shots of scenery that could be in your book and you might pick up a photography hobby, but do completely different things too. I am currently obsessed with aquascaping and bonsai and I am learning tons of new things which may come into play in my books sometime. I learned that stainless steal is just about one of the only metals that I can safely put in my aquarium. Josh and I used stainless steel screws to screw wood pieces together today. I then learned about some of the tools he was using.

It’s not just about direct inspiration either, it’s about going away and coming back. I tried to sit down three or four times yesterday to write, but found that I just couldn’t. My mind was blown, so I watched some Supernatural and Dr. Who, I worked out, did yoga, and worked on some aquascaping. When I was done, I came back and wrote this and now I’m moving on to continue my read-through of Detective Docherty and the Vampire’s Mirror. 

Detective Docherty and the Vampire's Mirror Cover Image

Detective Docherty and the Vampire’s Mirror Cover Image 

Get out there and live and write your living into your books. Otherwise you’ll get lost in “I need more time,” “I wish I was writing this faster.” “Why can’t I do this?” Etc etc Stop trying to force it. There’s a time to say “Ok, I set a deadline, let’s meet it,” and a time to say, “I need to go recharge my batteries. This is getting dull.”

As someone who’s been trying to write her second book for three years, I’ve finally found a happy medium and wanted to share it with other struggling authors and artists out there. We can do it, but we need to live our lives too. We need to live for our art.

–WaterRaven

Evergreen

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Merry Yule from our little tree )O(

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Fukien tea bonsai.

Not unlike my ancestors, in the grey overcast of winter I cling to the green things to remind myself that it wont always be this dark and cold. The tradition of bringing in a yule tree or conifer into the home and adorning it with decorations was originally created to remind people that while the other trees had lost their leaves, the evergreen remained green because summer would come again. The thin green needles gave them a green line of hope. With a limited amount of food, people and animals to care for, and other tribes to fight off, it’s no wonder they brought trees inside and celebrated them. They held onto this tradition so firmly in fact it survived religions, empires, wars, and time, and remains a tradition today.

Unlike my ancestors, I wont cut a tree down and bring it inside, for environmental and ethical reasons (they had a lot more trees back then, let’s face it). The concept of a potted tree was completely foreign to them, but I am grateful for it today. Featured to the left was my yule tree this year. It’s a native spruce which Josh and I will be planting in the spring/summer. It was tiny, but it’s symbolism was mighty.

Our little spruce wasn’t the only tree we brought into our home this winter. We also bought several bonsai trees and plan on starting a couple more as we get into the hobby. I had originally refrained from the art of bonsai because I felt that to dwarf a tree was a crime. To take something that is wild and enormous and then miminiaturizet through pruning and bending seemed brutal to me, until I started reading up on it.

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By Chris Guise

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One of our plant windows. Complete with potted plants, bonsai, and marimo jars.

The reason I read up on it? None other than seeing my first bonsai Hobbit Hole by Chris Guise. Once I saw that round door and little fence, I was in love. I decided to read up on the practice before dedicating my time to it because I was still a little weary. I discovered that apart from the wire bending and dead wood features, the pruning is for the overall health of the tree and it’s cared for like many other container plants (with minor differences of course). I have always been a plant lover, but not having a house of my own and a large yard or green house, I’ve always grown plants inside or on a balcony. So when I gave it some thought, the bonsai trees made sense for a small living space.  Having moved an enormous money tree and jade plant these last couple of years, the benefit of a tree in a small or shallow pot really sank in.

It wasn’t just the Hobbit Hole though or the idea of easy travel, it was the joy it gave me in seeing a little green scene. I suffer from a disorder known as SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. In the winter months, I get pretty sad, moody, and irritable. I am fatigued and I struggle with finding joy, but these green images lifted me somehow. Like the yule tree of old, they gave me hope and reminded me of summer and I had the same feeling when I started looking at aquscapes.

Seeing how excited and enthusiastic I was for bonsai and aquascapes, Josh caught on and like a fever we’ve both become hobbyists. We’re currently working on cycling a 20 gallon aquarium and constructing a hardscape (the rock and wood feature that acts as the base for an aquascape scene). Wikipedia has this to describe the art of aquascaping:

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Aquascaping is the craft of arranging aquatic plants, as well as rocks, stones, cavework, or driftwood, in an aesthetically pleasing manner within an aquarium—in effect, gardening under water. Aquascape designs include a number of distinct styles, including the garden-like Dutch style and the Japanese-inspired nature style.

Click here for more information.

IMG_5455[1]My previous aquariums have either been cheesy (bubbling dragons, Detective Docherty reference anyone?) or are just under water scenes. They aren’t a transportation to a magical realm. Don’t get me wrong, I love my 40 gallon cold water aquarium and my goldfish and loaches gives me a lot of joy, but aquascaping is a new challenge and something to focus on through these cold months. A project that promises greenery and a zen-like peace from

aquascaping-contestcreating a small living world of beauty. While our tank has been cycling, Josh and I have gone out and found rocks and branches. We’re currently soaking them to prep for the hardscape. Josh cut down the branches to fit them to the aquarium and once we’ve decide how to arrange them, he’ll be attaching them to flat stones to weigh them down.

I’ve been ordering plants online and checking on the aquarium. The project has been a lot of fun and has brought us even closer, especially through this hard time for me. Sometimes you just need to create something in a time of year where everything else sleeps or struggles.

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Our cold water tank, say what

Why aquascapes and bonsai? Because they’re not just plants in a pot inside an apartment, they are scenes that take me away from it. The level of care they require creates a meditative-focus that helps a restless heart, one that longs for warmth and summer days.

Where’s Detective Docherty in all of this? He’s still around. Detective Docherty and the Vampire’s Mirror is on it’s way. For a while the winter blues got to me and I struggled with it, but I found my muse in these two new hobbies. Thanks to them the rough draft is finished and I am halfway through the first read through/edit. I’m looking forward to finally handing this manuscript over to Amanada so that I can focus on getting the cover art finished and finally have this weight lifted. I don’t imagine many people would understand this, but carrying around an unwritten book on your back for three years is a heavy burden. It’s not just a book to me, it’s an entire universe that saturates my dreams, my thoughts and my heart. When I tell their story I am at peace.

So, here’s to a new year of new life, new hobbies, and a new book. I’ll keep you updated on the progress of Detective Docherty and the Vampire’s Mirror, but also on the new art forms I’ve discovered. I hope you enjoy.

~WaterRaven

Note: The aquascapes are compliments of a Google search. None of the aquariums or photos are my own, except the goldfish tank <3