Dreaming of Change

LeopardI had the strangest dream last night. I dreamed that I was walking with my hubby and our two kids (they were younger) in a forest, when a group of black bears started coming towards us. We escaped into the nearby building and went to our room – we had a motel room. The bears somehow managed to get into our room, so we climbed onto the bed for safety. (It was a dream, okay!)

Two big black bears climbed up and gently pushed the kids to the side and snuggled them between them. So…we were scared, but the bears weren’t hurting us. They seemed to be protecting the kids. I closed my eyes and something crawled up next to me and snuggled close. I opened my eyes and it was a big, beautiful black panther.

I knew it was wild, and I was on edge, but I didn’t feel it meant any harm as long as we were still. The dream was so vivid! I could feel the SOFT fur and the warmth of it’s body. When the animals finally got up and left, I said to my hubby, “Did you see that? I got to hug a black panther?” I woke, remembered the dream, and could still feel the fur and the warmth of the animal. It put a smile on my face. I told my daughter about it and she wondered what it meant. I did too.

So…after going to a community meditation for the first time, I decided to go to a different town where they sold something I wanted for my own private meditation. As I wandered around the store, enjoying the moment, the store clerk and another lady began discussing black panthers. My ears perked up and I walked over closer. The clerk asked me if I needed help. She wasn’t rude, just being nice. I said, “No, but I’m listening to your conversation because I had a dream about a black panther last night.”

Both women were excited. The other customer loves panthers and had a panther tattoo. The clerk brought out a book about dreams and let me read what it means when the black panther visits in a positive light. I found the same information on a website. Here are a few of the main points: The totem or medicine of the Black Panther reminds us that darkness is the place for both seeking and finding answers. It is a place to accept healing. The darkness is a place for us to access the hidden light of truth. Through our dreams, Sister Panther teaches us to delve into the places within ourselves to find the things in need of healing.

Just as a Black Panther we must track the unfamiliar territory of self-discovery and…be as fearless as she in facing the unknown. If Black Panther is working with you as a totem she may be telling you not to worry about the future. She could be reminding you that you need to trust that you are not supposed to “figure it out” right now…Embrace your unknown and flow with the unfolding journey of your life. It fit so well with my current journey of change, healing, and growth.

I had just recently told someone I was tired of pushing through life, feeling like the current was always against me. She told me to take a chance and go with the flow for a while. I think the panther agreed, and was telling me it’s going to be okay if I do that. Between the impact of the dream, and the experience of synchronicity later in the morning, I was left feeling that the universe is telling me things are going to be okay.

My journey has been noticed, and I am not alone. I will be thinking of the panther often for a while, wondering what other wisdom she could impart, and hoping she is still watching over me. I know there will be a beautiful, black panther in my next book! :) Have a wonderful day and don’t be afraid to look inside, into the dark corners. May you find strength and healing on your journey.   The website with the Panther Totem is: http://native-american-totems.com/animal-totem-medicines/black-panther-totem/

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Goodreads – Finding My Way Around

I’m a writer. *clears throat* Let me rephrase. I’m a writer, when I’m not busy with all the interruptions life throws at me. I’ve recently published two books, and I’m slowly heading up the learning curve for social media sites. Wow. Talk about time consuming.

I have been a member of Goodreads for a while now, as a reader. I just recently updated my author page. Now that I’m joining groups and exploring, I feel like I could spend ALL day on this site. I’d enjoy it too! Reading is one of my passions, and Goodreads is like a world-wide meeting for people that share that same passion.

So, today, I finally learned how to link my blog with Goodreads. Probably not that exciting to hear about for most of you, but for me it was a victory. It wasn’t even that hard, but I couldn’t figure it out up until today. Silly me. That’s what Youtube is for. :)

If you haven’t signed up with Goodreads yet, you should go there now and get started. You won’t understand most of my blog today if you aren’t a member. But…let me say…I have so many new goals. I’m trying to imagine actually listing ALL the books I’ve read. That would be fun. Then, can you imagine actually taking time to review them all? Not really possible in one big chunk, but it’s fun to imagine. I do hope to rate and review everything I read from this point forward, and I’ll occasionally add a few from the past from time to time.

I don’t know why this excites me so much. I see other readers that have been doing this for a while, and I’m envious. I guess it’s just a way to see a record of my favorite adventures, characters, and genres all listed in one place.

I must sound like such a book nerd right now. *sigh* That’s okay. I am. I promise to make future posts more exciting, and less about me (most of the time). :)

If you’re a Goodreads member, and you have it all figured out, feel free to leave suggestions for navigating and organizing my books, groups, etc… I’d love to find time to contribute more to the few fun groups I belong to, but I’m busy writing, and daydreaming about being organized.

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A Writer’s Best Friend

I’m an Indie Writer, so that means no publisher and no editor, right? That’s what I thought at first when I decided to follow the self-publishing route. I survived the formatting and book cover creation pretty well so I figured I was on my way. I’m fairly intelligent, and I did well in college with my English skills, so I was pretty confident that I had a decent grasp on grammar. If I had a question about something that my handy spell checker couldn’t answer I could always look it up online. So what’s the big deal?

*Insert hysterical laughter here* After publishing my first book, I decided I enjoyed writing too much to stop. I started working on my second book and, during that adventure, I discovered the wonderful writer’s community on Twitter. I also had a family member do some editing on my new work as I wrote. We kept coming up with questions and the more I researched, the more I realized my so called grammar skills were @#$%. I wasn’t horrible, but I had either forgotten all the rules I’d learned in English class, or I missed the class on Fiction Editing 101.

I mentioned Twitter, but how does that figure into this converation? Through Twitter I’ve met so many published and polished writers that are happy to share words of advice with those new to the experience. I’ve learned that even Indie writers NEED editors. You don’t have to wait for a publishing house to accept your book and turn it over to their editors. There are plenty of people out there that edit fiction books and they come in all price ranges. I have heard of some that paid a couple thousand for basic grammar editing. That’s NOT reasonable. Look around and do your research before you decide. You want your editor to contribute to the quality of your work while not trying to change everything.

Get references so you can be sure it’s someone that will work well with your style. I have one editor I’d love to use because she’s given me so much advice and some very successful writers use her services. One catch with using someone popular –  they’re very busy! Right now my wonderful, giving, loving, and intelligent sister is doing the first draft editing and catching my silly mistakes, problems with consistency, and other missing pieces. I’d still love to have a professional fiction editor polish my work someday soon.

My dream used to be that I’d get something published. My next dream was that I’d get a chance to write full time. Dream one and dream two have happened! Yay! My new dream is that I snag an editor I love and keep her busy working on my constant stream of creativity. Oops. I said she only because the editor of my dreams is a woman. I really don’t care what gender they are as long as they treat my work with loving care.

I feel like I’ve just passed my first class in writing, and the answer to every question on the test was, “I need to learn more.” I’m just a baby in the self-publishing world but I’m loving every minute of my new life. If you’re a writer and you have a wonderful editor, feel free to leave a comment if you don’t mind sharing. If you’re contemplating self-publishing, make sure to keep learning and connect with the great community on Twitter. If you’re a reader, well, I love you of course! As a reader, the best thing you can do is to take the time to write a review for your favorite authors when you purchase their books. They’ll love you for that.

If you’d like to connect you can find me on Twitter here: @LorenaWood15
I’d love to hear from you.

My next post will cover how to take advantage of the writing community on Twitter.

You can find my work on Amazon Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Smashwords.

Whitney Bentley, a gifted psychic, is tracking a serial killer targeting young boys in Phoenix. The side effects of absorbing so many violent images begin to take their toll on her body and she is forced to rely on a local detective to keep her safe. Nick is not only unwilling to work with the psychic, he’s furious that her phony tricks will waste time and inevitably cause more deaths. Falling fast into a world he never believed could exist, he soon finds he needs Whitney, and not just for the case.

Whitney Bentley, a gifted psychic, is tracking a serial killer targeting young boys in Phoenix. The side effects of absorbing so many violent images begin to take their toll on her body and she is forced to rely on a local detective to keep her safe.
Nick is not only unwilling to work with the psychic, he’s furious that her phony tricks will waste time and inevitably cause more deaths. Falling fast into a world he never believed could exist, he soon finds he needs Whitney, and not just for the case.

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I’m a Pantser and I’m Proud

It’s been a fun ride so far since I published my book in March. March 4th to be exact! That’s a date I’ll remember until senility hits. I’ve learned so much in the past 3 months.

One word that was new to me was Pantser. What the heck is a Pantser? I’ve also seen it spelled with a “z” but more people use the “s”. I figured out the meaning of the word when I saw people discussing Pantsers vs. Planners or Plotters. OH! It’s a term used by authors to describe their writing style. Planners write outlines and Pantsers…well, they fly by the seat of their Pants!

I am definitely a Pantser. At first I felt like that might be a bad thing, since outlining seemed so much more organized. I’d love to follow an outline. Then I would know exactly what comes next and how to plan for the future scenes. BUT…I have a process and it’s one that I enjoy. I write the story and let my characters dictate where it will go.

Of course I know the general idea of the story line, how it will progress, and the eventual outcome. The thing is, I don’t want to spoil my fun. When I write it’s a bit like reading, I just can’t wait to see what happens next!! The first time I wrote a full novel it just happened. I had this idea, I started to write, and the characters drove the story. I loved it so much that I want to do it over and over again.

I felt somewhat vindicated about my process when I read Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. His work is character driven and not outlined ahead of time. I absolutely loved his book on the process and the finer points. He is the King after all.

Of course, one problem I face with the Pantser method is that I sometimes write my characters into a corner. I reach a point where I realize it just isn’t working, and then I have to throw some of my hard work into the recycle bin. What if I had an outline, and then realized something wouldn’t work? Would my whole outline then become null? Supposedly an outline would take care of that issue, but I doubt I could stick to it.

If I write a scene where my characters are spilling their guts, and my muse enlightens me about some new hidden secret, that might just change the direction of their relationships, struggles, and possibly even the ending!

So, I’m proud to say I’m a Pantser because my muse won’t let me have it any other way.
Leave a comment to let me know what you think about my process. Are you a Pantser or planner? As a reader, what do you think would be better?

Have a super day and think positive!!!! (I like blogging because I get to use all the exclamation points I want!!!!)

 

 

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Psychics Rock!

I love writing about psychics. I wonder what I read or watched when I was younger that made me obsess about them. Maybe it’s because I have a latent telepathic ability? :)

My new book at Amazon for Kindle $2.99

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Romance > Paranormal > Psychics

Whitney Bentley, a gifted psychic, is tracking a serial killer targeting young boys in Phoenix. The side effects of absorbing so many violent images begin to take their toll on her body and she is forced to rely on a local detective to keep her safe. Nick is not only unwilling to work with the psychic, he’s furious that her phony tricks will waste time and inevitably cause more deaths. Falling fast into a world he never believed could exist, he soon finds he needs Whitney, and not just for the case.

Whitney Bentley, a gifted psychic, is tracking a serial killer targeting young boys in Phoenix. The side effects of absorbing so many violent images begin to take their toll on her body and she is forced to rely on a local detective to keep her safe.
Nick is not only unwilling to work with the psychic, he’s furious that her phony tricks will waste time and inevitably cause more deaths. Falling fast into a world he never believed could exist, he soon finds he needs Whitney, and not just for the case.

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Featured on Amazon

Some days I think of writing something on my blog, and I just can’t think of anything new, different, or exciting to talk about. NOT TODAY. LOL

Today was very exciting. Amazon sent e-mails to some of their Kindle customers, and my book was the top recommendation. What?!? My sister forwarded the e-mail to me. Then I checked and I got the same letter.  My book? Wow.

Sorry, I’ll try to calm myself. I’ve sold almost 300 books this first month, but that seems like a drop in the bucket compared to well-known authors and long time writers. Why would Amazon highlight my book? Who cares! It’s an exciting day for me. I’ve been surprised at how well the book is selling with very little marketing. I’m happy that Amazon is helping out with that. I don’t know exactly how they decide what books to highlight, but I’m guessing mine was chosen for being new and actively selling copies this month.

Exciting things are happening to this newbie author. Tune in for more. :)

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Finding my Muse

If you have ever written, you are probably familiar with the term “Muse.” A muse, in ancient Greece, was a goddess of inspiration. Artists of all varieties have credited other people as being their muse, but I think of my muse as an unseen force inside me. Some days my muse is in a good mood, other days it isn’t very friendly. I didn’t find my muse until about 12 years ago, and then it went into hiding, peeking out once in a great while. The less I called on my muse, the harder it was to find her.

My muse likes to be inspired too. My own enthusiasm brings my muse to life. So, when I finally brought out the dusty remains of a finished novel I had written 12 years ago, my muse got curious. She peeked out her head and stretched a little. At first she just watched from a distance, but then, when I started to remember how much I loved writing that book, she got excited. She started sending ideas left and right about scene changes and motivations and characters. My fingers could hardly keep up. This was somewhat difficult recovering from a wrist fracture, but I did my best.

When I finally put my book on Amazon Kindle for the world to see, I’m sure my muse was a little irritated at my trepidation. After all, my inner muse had been part of that work. She quietly waited for a few days while I watched the sales on the book go up and started to receive some feedback. When my trepidation turned to exhilaration my muse patted me on the back and told me to get back to work.

I am so happy to tell you that my muse has been a constant companion for this last month. She hardly lets me get to sleep at night, talks incessantly while I’m driving, eating, or doing anything but writing. We’ve been enjoying each other so much that I’m hoping she’ll stick around for a long, long time.

I can’t talk anymore. She’s calling me back to the story. Just finished an action scene and have to put on paper, or in my PC, what she wants to happen next. She’s already told me what’s next but it’s still in my head. She gets impatient.

Thanks for listening to my “Musings” on my Muse. :)

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Welcome Romance lovers! :)

It took me years to discover Romance Novels, but once I did I was hooked. I have always been an avid reader, and I love to dabble with writing. The inevitable joining of two loves has resulted in a new adventure. I started to write my own Romance books. Sometimes I just want to be able to direct the story. I found it’s as fun as reading.

After years of procrastination I finally made the leap to getting published. My first book is available on Amazon. Now that I’ve crossed that line I’ve been inspired to continue writing.
I will keep you updated as things progress. I plan to add little excerpts from my current writing as I get ready to publish new novels. I’ve also had requests to continue a series with the characters from my book “Vibrations.”

So much to do!                    Never give up on your dreams!!!!!!!!

Check out my new book on Kindle!
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BPA61NO

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FORMATTING Your Book for KINDLE

The first time I formatted a book for Kindle it took hours of research and hours of formatting. Thankfully I now have a template to use and all those hours of knowledge and experience. I just wanted to share, as simply as possible, some of the information I have accumulated. Some of this was from research, some from trial and error, and some of this was gifted to me by my sixteen year-old computer genius son. I hope this saves you some time and frustration.

The best thing to do if you plan to publish a book on Amazon Kindle is to format before you begin writing. That being said, most of us get the idea to put our work on Kindle AFTER we have something written. My book was formatted as a manuscript to send to publishers and agents for print. With that in mind, I will take you through the steps to get your work Kindle ready.

MICROSOFT WORD is the program I use to create my books. If you use PDF files you will need to find different instructions. I am using WORD 2007, but you can still find the same commands in other versions.

Margins – set them to 0 (zero). I tried to keep the default margins but, when I viewed my book on Kindle, the words kept getting divided in the wrong places for hyphenation. Kindle devices set their own margins so it works fine to remove them.

Removing Margins: First Select All – (for older Word programs you can find that under edit). 2007 version requires you to click the Home tab, and then on the far right you will see Select. Click the Arrow and Select All. Next, go to the Page Layout tab and click the arrow for Margins. Click Custom setting and set all to zero.

Page Numbers – OFF

Headers and Footers – OFF

Fonts – Kindle uses their own fonts. They have one new version that will allow publishers font’s to be displayed but we are keeping this simple so it will work on all Kindle devices. So, your font will not show up on the book for your readers, BUT choosing the right font will help with formatting. Some fonts do NOT work well with the HTML and conversion process.

Choose one of the following fonts:

Rockwell, Garamond, Times New Roman, or Courier New

Styles – This part is very important

You cannot use font size to differentiate titles, chapters, and text when formatting for Kindle. It is important to use the Style selections to accomplish this. First, the body text should be in the Normal style. Make sure it is the same font as you have chosen above. It should be the default font.

To change a style, right click on the style and then click modify. You can change the style by clicking on format button, bottom left. Check to see that the font is correct.

Modifying the Styles – Paragraph Settings – So again – Right click the Normal Style, Modify, Format, and now choose Paragraph.

You want it to say Alignment Left, Body Text, and 0 in the left and right indentation. Click on the Special box and click first line. This will bring up 0.5 which works well with Kindle. Last make sure the line spacing is single.

Do not use spaces or tabs to indent your paragraphs. You need to use the setting Special, first line, .5.

The last setting in Paragraph is spacing before and after. There are different instructions out there for this. I see many professional books with no extra spacing between paragraphs. I like a little extra so I choose 6pt after paragraph. If I need extra space before an example, or e-mail within the book, I will set this to 18 or 20. Don’t forget to click OK to save your settings.

Great! Off to a good start. Normal Style is set up for the body of the book. Now make sure to apply that style to all paragraphs in the book.

New Chapters – You must insert page breaks when you start a new chapter in order to see it on a new page. You cannot use enter (return) to provide space between chapters because this will not work on Kindle. Actually, you can have no more than 4 returns in a row or the file will be rejected.

For Chapter headings, use a different style such as Heading 1 so you can create a Table of Contents. Kindle wants a table of contents in your file.

Modify the Heading 1 style so that it is the correct font, take out the special indent and click none, and then set the first field (alignment) to center. You can make the font bigger and it will stay because it is a Style setting. You can also use bold. Here is an example of what you should see written for settings:

Font: 14 pt, Bold, Kern at 16 pt, Indent: First line:  0″, Space After:  10 pt, Keep with next, Level 1, Style: Linked, Quick Style, Priority: 10, Based on: Normal, Following style: Normal

You can do the same thing for the Book Title and other headings.

Finding errors in formatting – You will get very familiar with Find and Replace if you aren’t already using it. First hold the CTRL and SHIFT buttons and tap the number 8. You will now see the formatting information on your page. You hold and tap the same buttons to remove it. See all those paragraph symbols? You need to be sure you don’t have extras and that you used page break correctly.

You can click the Replace button on your tool bar or use CTRL F. Make sure you have the replace tab open. At the bottom left are two buttons. Click special and then click on Paragraph Mark. That will go in the Find What box. You may want to start with 3 or 4 of the paragraph marks and then replace with one paragraph. While you are checking this, make sure there is one paragraph mark after the last paragraph in a chapter and then you should see the words page break. Now, remove all the extra paragraph marks. If you want extra space between paragraphs, edit the paragraph properties by changes pts after as explained above under Modifying Styles.

Let’s do more find/replace actions. You can search for 2 paragraphs, tabs, and even spaces. You should try a search for (space)(space)(period) and replace with (period). You can do that for one extra space before a period also. You can search after the period for extra spaces. I do not recommend hitting replace all because you may change something that shouldn’t be changed. If you see something you don’t want changed, just hit Find Next. Now, get creative and check your formatting.

Now it’s time to see how it looks on Kindle. You’re not done formatting yet but let’s check it for now. There are a few ways to do this. The easiest is to download the Kindle Previewer. Here is link:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000765261

You will eventually need a Kindle Direct Publishing account, so now is a good time to do that. https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin

How does the preview look? You can continue to make changes and check it on the previewer.

Now there are a few more things you need to do. Kindle wants a Table of Contents, and a bookmark to the beginning of the book.

CJs Easy as Pie site has the best instructions for the bookmarks that I could find. The link is below. You will want to roam around this site once you do the Table of Contents. The site is very comprehensive, but a little complicated when you first get started. Hopefully you are now ready to read more about the finishing touches and will benefit from other articles on this site.

http://www.cjs-easy-as-pie.com/2011/02/easy-kindle-how-to-create-table-of.html

I hope this helps you get a start on the formatting needed to publish to Kindle. Once the formatting is done you will need to convert the Word file to HTML. Just go to SAVE AS and select Web Page filtered. That is the file you want to upload to Kindle. Make sure you create an eye catching cover to upload with your book.

 

Good luck and happy writing!

Check out my new book on Kindle!
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BPA61NO

Whitney Bentley, a gifted psychic, is tracking a serial killer targeting young boys in Phoenix. The side effects of absorbing so many violent images begin to take their toll on her body and she is forced to rely on a local detective to keep her safe.

Nick is not only unwilling to work with the psychic, he’s furious that her phony tricks will waste time and inevitably cause more deaths. Falling fast into a world he never believed could exist, he soon finds he needs Whitney, and not just for the case.

 

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End of Year Cheer

Hello Everyone. Hope you are doing well as the craziness of this month is coming to an end. Fall 2012 was one helluva bang for our family.

  • Found out my daughter had a bone tumor, a couple trips to Boston Children’s Hospital, and a surgery
  • Broke my wrist…same bone my daughter had surgery on (I take my empathy to amazing levels)
  • Trying to do all the December stuff one handed and drugged up – which translates to Hubby and son jumping to every need, desire, and plea from the disabled girls in the family
  • Mom can’t drive for 3 weeks….WHAT??? The kids need to go where? We need milk again?  haha
  • Hubby missed lots of work so lets throw some extra money stress in the mix

It’s been a learning experience. Learning things are not always as bad as you think. Reconfirming how wonderful the men in this family are. Figuring out new ways to do things one handed/wrong handed. One thing that surprised me was exactly HOW stubborn, independent, and ornery I can be when forced to rely on others. That was not a pleasant experience. Hmph. I do not like asking for help with EVERYTHING. Mom’s don’t get waited on. Oh, it sounds great in theory, but having to ask for assistance for so many little things gets old fast. Sometimes you just want to open your OWN bag of chocolate.

So now it’s time to relax a little before the new year starts. Looking back at the whole year it was pretty good to us. Hubby had steady work, kids are doing well, and Mom is still sane. Well…that last part is always up for debate.

Looking forward to a new year of adventures. Hopefully fewer doctor visits for next year. MAYBE we could try something less exciting…like Bingo or Quilting?

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