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The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Gunslinger cover

 

I haven’t read a lot of Stephen King. I own a lot of his books, as my husband’s mom buys them for us all the time, but both of us have only read a few. I’ve read On Writing and The Shining, and now The Gunslinger.

The Gunslinger is the first book in King’s Darktower Series. I think this is the closest King ever really gets to sci-fi. King intended Darktower to be an epic, his magnum opus, and it certainly is impressive in scope.

This first book does not explain a lot about the world it takes place in, but it does give the reader enough information so that they’re not confused. It’s a great beginning, and it really does just set the stage for the rest of the books. I’ve heard that the first 4 books are the best, so I will definitely be reading all of those, but I don’t know yet whether I’ll finish the series, which I’ve heard drags on a bit in the later books.

They’re making a Gunslinger movie, and I really wish they were making a miniseries instead. The sections of the book are really each their own scene, each of which would make a great episode of its own in a series.

King sets the scene really well visually, and characterizes Roland really well while still keeping a lot of details in the dark. I read the original version, but I would probably recommend reading King’s edited version, where he fixed a few inconsistencies. The world the book takes place in has some references to our own, especially in the form of Beatles songs, but technology is very different and for the most part lacking. There is also a bit of magic and some references to gods/supernatural beings. For the most part, this book shows us this world, but none of the “why things are the way they are”. I imagine much of that will come later.

If you like fantasy and you haven’t read The Darktower series, I would definitely recommend checking it out, as it’s really engaging and interesting.

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52 Week Savings Wrap Up

This last year, I really put a focus on saving money for my student loans. My goal was to pay $5000 on top of my minimum payments. This $5000 was to go to my loan with the highest interest rate.

As a strategy to get me in the habit of saving, I decided to do the 52 week challenge. It went pretty well- I made it until june before saving got difficult. Then, it got really hard to do as a weekly thing. The 52 week thing also wasn’t going to get me anywhere close to my goal of $5,000, so I decided to speed things up. I started putting any extra money from my paycheck toward my savings, but still kept track of the weeks. So when I got paid, I’d look at what week I was at, say, 35. Then I’d see how many weeks I could afford to pay. If I had $150 extra. I’d pay weeks 35-38 for a total of $146. This helped me finish the challenge early, and save some extra money.

As it turns out, I saved about $4000. Not quite my goal, but still pretty great. My goal this year is to pay off that high-interest loan, which has about $6000 left. My strategy is going to be different, based on what I learned this year.

At the beginning of the year, since I was only saving a couple dollars each week, I had a lot of extra spending money, which I spent, since I’d reached my weekly saving goal. But that wasn’t helping me reach my end goal. So this year, instead of having weekly goals, I’m going to make it a race to pay off that loan. The sooner I can do it, the better. This “sprint” method is motivating me to plan ways to get extra income now, rather than waiting til june to get strategic.

As far as how to get extra money, I have three main assets right now:

  • my writing
  • my editing skills
  • my craft-savvy

I tried this year to hire myself out as a freelance editor. I got a couple of jobs, and flaked spectacularly on them. I am still going to try to wrap those up and salvage the situations, but basically it boils down to me not prioritizing my freelance work, meaning (rightfully) unhappy clients.

As I finish up these long-overdue jobs, I’m also going to be submitting my writing to websites that pay for articles. Since most of these are direct-submit or sites you pitch too, I’m more confident I can just get the articles written, and not worry about putting things off and making people unhappy for waiting on me.

I won a pretty cool looking planner in a contest recently, so once that gets here, I plan on jotting down all the sites I’ve bookmarked that I want to submit to. I’ll set out a day to send pitches to all the sites that want them. Then I’ll set out a day to write each article, as well as a day to edit each piece. With this plan laid out, I’m less likely to just let the sites sit as an un-utilized resource.

This year, I’ve finally allowed my crafty side to shine. I’ve done a few great projects (which I’ll be posting pictures of soon), and I recently organized my craft room so that I have a work-space. I have a lot of work I want to do on it- adding shelves, and a bottle-rack for all the bottles I’ve accumulated (most of which will become lamps.)

Most of what I’ve made so far has been as gifts for friends. I’m thinking that I need to make some items that are worthy of sale and start up an Etsy store. I still need to look into how I want to do shipping- and how taxes work, but I definitely think I can get something going. I think I’m going to aim to get 10 items done and ready for sale before I open up a shop. A big item will be the bottle lamps, but I’ve also got some cool ideas for mirrors and other decor.

Anyway, that’s a little bit on how my savings goal went this last year, and my plans for 2015. Thanks for reading, and let me know what savings strategies have worked for you, and also if you have any experience with freelancing productivity tips, or how taxes and Etsy work.

The state of the internet

I read an article today about how there’s a lot of writing advice on the internet, and a lot of it contradicts, not because people are liars, but because everyone’s writing process is different. While I believe this makes sense, I think that a lot of the reason there is contradictory writing (or any) advice out there is because there are a lot of people writing on the internet about things they are clueless about.

With the SEO world’s recent emphasis on content marketing, companies are hiring writers to write about anything and everything with any miniscule relationship to their industry or field. That means there’s a lot of recycled garbage out there, written by people who are just re-writing other people’s advice. Since a copy of a copy is going to be a bit blurry (Thanks, Multiplicity, for that concept), you can imagine how watered down advice can ge.t

I’m not saying don’t believe writing advice from the internet. After all, I hope to offer some writing, publishing, and other advice on this blog. What I am saying is: take it with a grain of salt. Really think about whether the advice makes sense for you and look up other people’s opinions on the subject. You can also look up the advising author’s experience to see if they’re reliable, but it’s not that hard to generate a legitimate-looking online presence, and just because someone’s written 10 articles on the same topic don’t make any of them true.

 

For some people, this is a “duh”- don’t believe everything you read. But in this social media world, how often do you read headlines or skim an article and just take it for granted that the information is reliable?

Birthday Release!

Yesterday was my friend Daisha’s birthday, and that of her main character, Aspen! Daisha released her first novel, of which Aspen is the star, over 7 years ago, and it has been trapped in contract with a publisher who was not willing to work with her or make her work shine.

Finally, Noble Courage is free and is set to be re-release in all it’s edited glory on July 29th! Check out Daisha’s post about it, and explore her site to learn more about her characters and series!

 

 

Procrastination

As you know if you’ve read my blog before, I am a bit of a procrastinator. It’s a writer thing, apparently. And a comic thing, and pretty much anyone creative, I think. Today’s post at Twisted Willow highlights a few different authors’ perspectives on procrastination. Check it out!

How much procrastination does it take to write a novel?

Lists

One of my biggest pet peeves is when articles, blog posts, and other content market themselves as “life changing advice” or something else remarkably useful, and then just end up being lists that don’t give ou any feedback or direction as to how to implement the tools or strategies mentioned.

I also hate marketing advice that is “100 strategies that will change your life” No one has time to invest in 100 strategies, and a list that long is not going to give actionable advice on anything. I’d rather read one in depth article about one useful strategy so that I can decide if that strategy will work for me.

But then the marketing companies that are writing the articles won’t make as much money, because I’d realize I could implement the strategies myself. Is listing 100 things a method to get authors (and other people who need marketing help) to think that there’s no way to manage it all themselves, making it likelier they’d hire a company who supposedly knows the magic of all things marketing?

I think yes

Long Awaited Explanations

And now for the announcement you’ve all been awaiting with bated breath (okay okay, not really, but read this anyway.)

Here’s the link to the publishing company I now run! This post explains the services we offer. Please explore the site, and keep checking in for more updates!

 

http://twistedwillowpress.com/so-what-do-you-do/

 

Also, let me know if you see anything that’s unclear or wonky, I’ve been making a lot of site updates the last two weeks and probably missed something

Movies from Books

As an English Major and a lover of books, it might not be surprising that I often prefer the book to the movie version of a story. A lot of times though, I don’t think it’s because the book is better. Sometimes it’s just because I knew the book first. People get upset when the movie changes characters and plotlines, but in reality, it usually isn’t feasible to recreate the book exactly the same. Some things just don’t translate to screen.

Does that mean that people should stop making movies out of awesome books? I don’t think so. One, it wouldn’t happen. Two, a lot of people simply don’t like reading, and it’d be sad for them to miss out on some awesome stories. And three, movies often are a great catalyst for people to read the book. Money and Publicity for authors? Yes, Please.

I like to read the book before I watch the movie. There are a few reasons for this, one, i believe that because the book came first, I should read it first, so I have the same knowledge the movie makers did. Also, if I watch the movie first, I’m to tempted to picture the actors as the characters, and I’d rather see what the author had in mind first. Read the rest of this entry

Exciting News!

Guess what everyone! I’m going to be a publisher! A good friend of mine started a self-publishing press  last year, and spent a ton of time getting it established. She has a family, a job, and school though, so she’s passed the buck off to me! I’m going to be posting more information later, but just look forward to seeing some news about some great works from some awesome authors!

Character Description

There are lots of ways to describe people. You can be direct, stating the color of their hair and eyes. You can describe their aura, the way they make those around them feel. You can compare them to other people, items, or occurrences in nature. You can choose one of these methods or all of them. You can include all of this information in a large block, or scatter it throughout a scene.

I don’t think one method of description is better than another, but there are certainly times that one might be a better choice. Read the rest of this entry