Friday, March 30, 2012

Myths About Writers

Whenever you mention the fact that you're a writer, a million stereotypes are bound to come into people's heads. Some of these are true, and some are myths. Here are some common myths about writers, disproved.
  • Writers are addicted to coffee. No, not necessarily. Writers are addicted to whatever will keep them going long enough to finish that next chapter. Sometimes it's coffee, sometimes it's something else. Hopefully not drugs.
  • Writers are antisocial. It's not that we don't enjoy your company. We simply come off this way sometimes. The average human would be bored to tears sitting in front of a keyboard, typing all day. They don't see this as a "normal" pastime. Writers, on the other hand, love every day where they can do nothing but put words on the screen. Social activities can get forgotten in the process.
  • Writers listen to my conversations at Starbucks. No, not just your conversations. We listen to the everyone else's conversations, too. Not you exclusively. Sorry.
  • Writers talk to themselves. We talk to our characters. We talk directly to our story. We talk to the computer screen, to the blank notebook. Why talk to ourselves when we have so many other available options to talk to?
  • If you say something bad about a writer's work, they will hate you. No, they'll just write a character remarkably like you into their books. Said character will die.
  • Writers have no friends. Writers actually have more friends than the average person. We have our normal, real-life friends, and then we have our characters. That's more than the average human can say.
  • Writers admire J. K. Rowling like she's something more than human. Well, some of us might. But some of us don't. Personally, I very much enjoy her books, but there are many better things out there to read.
  • Writers suffer from insanity. Actually, we enjoy every second of it.
And there you have it. It's like Mythbusters, but less awesome. And with less explosives.

Originally posted in a fiery chasm deep in the heart of Mordor, also known as The Epic, The Awesome, and The Random.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Short History of Book Covers and Some Tips

Sorry, I meant to post this yesterday, but I was very busy. This counts for last week's post not this weeks. This post was taken reposted from Birds of a Writer.

One of the things I love the most about modern books are the covers. Especially the really pretty ones. Most of the books at my school are really old and don't have covers or pictures on them. Few do. And then its only a small picture. I also love designing them myself. As do many people.

The Short History of Book Covers
Books covers do in fact have a short history. Before the 19th century, books were hand-bound and were covered using gold, silver, or probably leather.

Before the 1820s, books were generally sold without a cover-- just a stack of printed pages. To have one put on was very expensive although well worth it since it would help preserve the book. But by the 1820s, many publishers were selling books pre-bound with covers that were stiffened with a board of some type and covered with cloth or paper. The title and sometimes a block picture could be stamped on the cover.

Because the illustrations were rather basic, they weren't very detailed or useful in deciding what books were about. But then lithographic printing became used and multi-color book covers were available. Then half-tone illustration made it even easier.

In the 1830s, dust jackets were added to protect covers. And these ones were wrapped all the way around and then sealed in place with wax. But during the second half of the century, the current design was adopted.  But because these were mostly thrown away, they are very valuable today.

After 1900, the production of book covers became more practical, economical, and marketing became important. Some of the first modern cover designs were made in the 1920s. People such as  Alexandr Rodchenko, El Lissitzky, and  Aubrey Beardsley were highly influential regarding early book cover designs.
Although dust jackets also became more decorative, it wasn't until the 1950s that people began to keep them as an important part of books.

Today, book covers are one of the most important parts of a book. They can help give hints as to the style, genre, and subject of the book. But it also differs from country to country as people's tastes in different places changes.

*Tips on designing your own cover. 

  1. Look at covers you love and decide what they did that caught your attention. What about the book cover do you love? Can you use those same things in your cover?
  2. Decide the main point of the story. Then find or capture a picture that best captures that main point or the idea you want to convey. 
  3. Choose a good font for the title and author name. Slight variations in different fonts, shapes, and sizes can help with the over all cover. If you're having trouble seeing a font, use a border or a background for it. Remember that where you place titles and fonts is important. 
    1. Also note that you're looking for something that not only conveys what you want, but something that is easy to read. Don't use to small or too big sizes. 
    2. I've heard that using fonts where the letters are either all capitals or are all the same size looks professional. 
  4. Play around with colors and color themes. Remember that your colors of your titles and your picture should be different. You want something that will stand out. But also remember that the colors should look good together as well as conveying whatever you want. 
  5. Don't be afraid to play around with effects or something of the sort. Making a picture black or white can be cool. They don't always have to be full color. 
* I am in no way, an expert. Yes, I make my own covers, and these are some simple ideas. I am planning to be a graphic designer and I hope to one day make my own covers professionally. 
** Make sure that whatever picture you're using isn't copyrighted. Its best to use a picture that you took. (Although many covers I've seen are copyrighted, but the people who "designed" the cover makes sure that you know that they didn't take that picture themselves. Or you could use one of those non-copyrighted/stock photos. I think those work too. In any case: give the photographer or whoever's picture it is, credit. 

What I think about covers...
I don't know about you, but I'm getting bored of covers where the girl is in a dress. Its so lame these days! I'm  not saying they don't look good- they do- but its getting boring.

For me, I hate covers that that only one basic color to it. Like Legacies in which the whole cover has this weird blue tint to it. And it makes the girl look like she's sick or something. Other covers with a whole blue theme is the Darkness Rising series by Kelley Armstrong. Those don't look too bad, but its still annoying.

Another thing. The covers where its just one person's face or half of their face. That bugs me too.

Now I love covers where it has cool fonts or something. Like the XVI series by Julia Karr. Those are cool covers cause the covers is the titles. One of my favorite covers of all time is Eona by Allison Goodman. It just looks so epic. Plus, the girl isn't in a dress!

I could go on, but I'll leave you with that.

So, what do you love or not love about covers? Do covers ever sway your choice in buying books? What are some of your favorites? Why? What aren't and why?

Because I feel like I could add so much more about covers, what are some things that you would like to see me add to this discussion about covers? I'll add your ideas into a second post about it Saturday or next Thursday. Thanks!

Ehow- History of book covers 
Basic Book Cover Guide & Basic Book Cover Guide 2
Ehow- Designing book covers.
Guardian- The history and more in depth review of book covers
Quezi- History of Book Covers
Wikipedia- Book Cover 


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Where to Go After Inkpop

Many, if not all, of you were Inkies.  Well, you still are an Inkie.  Just because itself no longer exists doesn't mean you aren't an Inkie. 

But since Inkpop is gone, you might be looking for some new writing sites to turn to.  You've probably heard of these, but I'm going to highlight the pros and cons of each, to help you decide which, if any, are right for you.

Pros: Seemingly active forums. Copy-and-paste disabled.  Lots of projects to read.  Many Inkies are over there.  There is a mobile app.

Cons:  I've seen very little in the way of in-depth reviews.  No publication opportunities.

Pros: Active forums.  Lots of projects.  Many, many users.  Many Inkies can be found.  There are writing contests and opportunities to win prizes.

Cons: Copy-and-paste not disabled (but the disabling is in the works, apparently).  No publication opportunities.  Again, I've seen very few Inkpop-quality reviews.  The forums are incredibly full of angst, and have more trolls than I ever saw on Inkpop.  No mobile app or site.

Teen Ink
Pros: Lots of projects to read.  Focus on short stories, short nonfiction, and poetry.  Publication opportunities.  Visual art also accepted.

Cons: Seemingly inactive forums.  Not as much focus on novel-length work (though this could also be a pro, depending on what you're into).  No in-depth reviews.  Copy-and-paste not disabled.

Literati Sedition
Pros: In-depth reviews.  Constructive criticism galore.  They refer to themselves as "literary bootcamp".
Cons: Users are required to critique.  Application required.  No publication opportunities. 

The cons are not reasons to avoid the site.  They are not necessarily bad things.  They are just a way to compare writing sites to help you find a match. 

If you didn't know already, there is a Facebook group for Inkies.  It's right here.

What do you think?  Are you getting involved in other writing sites?  Anything else that we should look into?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Meet FallenBunnyBubu!

Hey guys, due to Inkpop shutting down, this might be our last Inkie interview. Sad I know. We might be able to interview more people in the future but in case, I'm letting you guys know. In the meantime, lets give a warm welcome to Chanelle! 

Hiyas :D I'm Chanelle(: I'm a fourteen year old girl and a Freshman in high school:D I'm Christian:D I like writing [obviously], drawing [though I'm not good at it], singing [though I get real shy] and acting [eh]. I believe in standing up for what you believe in, even if you're alone. I absolutely cannot stand bullies [cybers, physics, emotional....ANY KIND.] at all. -squishes- I love people who aren't afraid to be themselves. And....yeah(: Hha.

How long have you been writing and have you always wanted to be a writer?
Well, I've been writing since age 10, so four years. And no, I'd wanted to be a singer but then when I was 12, I decided on writing.
On your profile you say that you write novels in verse. What exactly are novels in verse? Is it like epic poetry in a way?
I guess a novel in verse can be called or refereed to as an "epic poem" but I really don't see it as that. To me, it's a way of expressing the novelist inside you and putting it into beautiful, poetic words.
On Inkpop, you have three projects up, Tagged (which I was was in the top 5. Congratulations!), Stutter, and Falling. Explain shortly what they are about.
Thanks:] Well, Tagged is basically about six teens with normal high school problems like not fitting in, sexuality, gender issues, cutting, weight, etc. Stutter is a poem I wrote for an LGBTQ contest in the transgender side based off of one of my characters [Blake] from Tagged. And last but not least, Falling is about a teenage boy dealing with the harsh reality of killing his girlfriend. He deals with it through drugs and ends up in rehab.
Being a Christian, does that affect your writing at all? [b]
It does. It really does. When I'm writing, I have to limit my swearing and limit a lot of things so it's right with my heart.
[b]Do enjoy writing in one certain genre (like fantasy or something) or do you explore other types of writing and genres?
No. I novels in verse but I also write dystopian and everything else. Just not fantasy. Not that.
Do you enjoy reading the same kinds of books you write? If so, has any one book or author impacted your writing the most?
Yes. I read a lot like I write. I love reading the Burn Journals by Brent Runyon and all Ellen Hopkins books. They affect me greatly.
Do you like to listen to music when you write, and if so, does a certain type of music affect your writing?
Lol no. I don't listen to music when writing. It distracts me.
Do you outline your books or do you write them as you go?
I outline a little and write as I go, my heart leading the way.
If you could visit any time period (past or futuristic) what time period would that be and why?
I would go back to the very early 1900s because then, life was so gorgeous and all the pieces were falling into place.
How do you defeat writer's block?
I don't. I usually cry and cry and cry until it goes away. I'm a wimp lawls.
If there was one thing people had to take away from your books, what would that be?
Like, when they read it, what do they feel? Well, I guess it's the reality between the books and how what happens there is happening right now. In front of us.
Think quick!
slippers or socks? Socks.
Water or land? Water.
Favorite subject in school? Hm...Health.
Leopards or lions? Neither. They scare me.
Pink or orange? Pink:}
Thanks Chanelle for agreeing to an interview! We're so happy to have talked to you. 


Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Shiny New Idea

Writers have an addiction to shiny things. Specifically, the Shiny New Idea. If you're anything like me, the Shiny New Idea process goes a little bit like this:


Some of us get Shiny New Ideas a lot. We're just walking down the street, minding our own business, then--BAM! As Gru put it, "Light bulb!"

But, more often than not, this Shiny New Idea appears to us while we have another work in progress going. And all we want to do is stop and work on this SNI. It's so much cooler and better than your current WIP. We should drop everything to work on it, right?


This is the literary equivalent of cheating on your spouse for a one-night stand. You've worked so hard on your WIP. Why should you stop now, just because something that looks shiny right now came along? It's not fair to your current characters.

You can't just stop working on your WIP every time a SNI comes along. You'll never finish anything, which will lead to you feeling discouraged, which isn't good. All you'll end up with is a large pile of unfinished manuscripts that'll never go anywhere and never see the light of day again.

If a SNI happens to come along, great. Having lots of ideas is never a bad thing. Start a special notebook or computer file to write them down. Hide them under a bushel basket (Yes, a bushel basket. Yep.) and don't let them come out. Leave them alone.

Did you catch that? Leave them alone.

But, Annie, if I don't start writing this amazing SNI right now, I'll forget all the wonderfulness and I'll have missed my million-dollar publishing contract opportunity and bla bla bla.

No. Don't do it. Fight the irresistible urge, my friends. Resist the urge to write it. So what if you forget it? If you can't remember it, it was never a good idea to start with. If you're afraid you'll forget it, then it's not worth the trouble of even thinking about.

Go back to your WIP. Finish it. Revise it. Make it wonderful. Then start going through your notebook of all the SNIs you've accumulated while working on it. You'll notice that some of those ideas that seemed so awesome at the time are actually quite boring and unworkable. And then you'll be glad you didn't stop to work on them. You'll have saved yourself many long hours of typing away at a manuscript that'll end up in the trash anyway.

And that other idea, the one that you thought of five months ago and wrote down in that notebook, the one that still looks amazing, the one you can't stop thinking about? This is the book you will write. This is the SNI that stuck with you. This is an idea with promise, because it still looks shiny, even now. Write it.

To make a long blog post short, don't start a whole new book just because of a Shiny New Idea you had last night. Never, ever, ever. Save it for later, because, chances are, it wasn't really a good idea to start with.

Originally posted in the meadows of frolick and flowers, also known as The Epic, the Awesome, and the Random.