A Commitment to Magic

white printer paper on brown wooden tableby Trienah Meyers

 

There are those of us who have made a commitment to listing resolutions for the new year. And there are those of us that have not.

My experience with New Year’s resolutions is that they are mostly a set-up for failure. The idea that on one particular day of the year one can make a decision to change some very major aspect of life seems more than a little nonsensical to me.

How Do We Change?

Change, particularly of something major, is generally a process, and a slow one at that. You resolve, for example, to lose weight. As if by magic, or by resolution, that will happen. Nope — it is a long, slow process that involves discipline, work, and consistency of action.

You resolve, for example, to sort and organize your old photographs. As if by magic the photo-sorting elves will come during the night and on the first of the year, or maybe the second, it will be done.  Wrong again. It is another process that involves both effort and consistency.

Perhaps you resolve to organize your finances, to obtain better control of your spending, saving, bill paying and the like. As much as we’d like spending to come down and saving to go up leaving us with fatter bank accounts, that’s not something that happens by magic, either. It is a process of organization, awareness, consistency and commitment.

Commit to the Questions

By now you may have noticed that there is a common element in each of these examples and that is consistency, something that, by definition, is a process over time. Which brings me to reality and writing.

There you are, sitting at your desk, or preferred workspace, laptop, pen and pad. Maybe you are in your garden, maybe you are in bed: one never knows where the magic will happen. But there you are, thinking and wondering about what is next. What are the words? What is the form? What is the next good idea for plot or character? And while an idea may form, while the essential plot or theme may come to you overnight, the writing does not happen by magic. It is a process that takes work, commitment and, yes — consistency.

Consistency of Commitment

green trees beside river during daytimeSo instead of a momentary resolution, what do we do? When it comes to the process of writing we are all different. But I think the very first ingredient for being successful at it on any level, is consistency. If you are a short piece writer, like me, and you drop off the map regularly, like me, your audience will get bored and disappear — like mine.

If you are a fiction writer of novel length, you are likely to get bored or stuck if you don’t keep going forward with it. Some fiction writers bring a meticulous plan to their plots and some let the characters take them for a ride but, either way, you will never finish if you don’t keep going.

If you are a non-fiction writer, you most likely have to continue to research in order to get your content right and to develop it to what you want it to be. An article? A post? A book?  The same quantity, quality, and drive to do ongoing research could  apply to writers of historical fiction or any work that is based in fact. I could go on but you get the idea.

Is deciding to be more consistent a resolution, which by definition is a fleeting moment of decision? Or is it a commitment, which, in order to exist has to proceed into the future? And that seems even more true when I contemplate a commitment to increased consistency.

Bird by Bird

yellow crumpled papersSo there you are, sitting in your favorite spot, hoping the words and ideas will come…  but you’re just not feeling it. What to do? Write something, anything. Make a note about something you observed. Write a sentence about a person or character you know or have thought of, even if you have no story to go with either person or the character.

Write a letter to someone you miss without intention to send it. Write a sentence about a flower, about your mother, about anything. It doesn’t matter. Perhaps you will discard it later, perhaps it will blossom into something lovely. Who knows? The point is that you wrote something that day and, if you are trying to build a robust writing practice, it’s a fine start. You showed up and you took action. Tomorrow you’ll do it again. That is the meaning of commitment and consistency.

I hope your new year brings you interesting characters, spellbinding plots and beautiful language as well as happiness, health and prosperity. All of these are within your reach with consistency and commitment.

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...sitting at your desk, or preferred workspace, laptop, pen and pad. Maybe you are in your garden, maybe you are in bed: one never knows where the magic will happen. Click To Tweet

 

Write something, anything. Make a note about something you observed. Write a sentence about a person or character you know or have thought of, even if you have no story to go with either person or the character. Click To Tweet

 

Some fiction writers bring a meticulous plan to their plots and some let the characters take them for a ride but, either way, you will never finish if you don't keep going. Click To Tweet

 

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Trienah Meyers is a musician, writer, and friend who is exploring the boundaries and learning to live a different life in this new stage. Travel, food, religion. Everything old is new again. Everything is interesting. She is a vital member of Amelia Indie Authors where, in addition to her many co-op contributions, she is sometimes called upon for proofreading and edits.

 

 

Birth of a Book Cover

Developing the right book cover for your new work involves far more than simply choosing a more durable paper stock and a lovely graphic. Like almost everything else in the publishing industry, when done well, the addition of a book cover appears quite simple. And that appearance of ease and simplicity is part of the goal.

In the time it takes to write, edit, and prepare a manuscript for publication authors find themselves responding to “tell me about your book” or “describe your work in progress” over and over again. Eventually, though, that book gets published. Who, then to “tell me about your book?”

Who’s Going to Tell About Your Book?

If you guessed the book cover you’re absolutely right and have arrived at its purpose: the book cover stands in for the author when she is not available. Its job is to tell about the book, to let the prospective reader know a little bit about why the author loved this story enough to tell it — and why they’re going to love reading it. That’s a tall order and one not generally fulfilled by a prefabricated cover design.

A great book cover is comprised of several parts: the title, the spine, the inside front and back cover copy. We will look at some of those parts in the future. Today we’re going to start with the overall image which likely includes some of those other components. The simplest way to do that seems to be to trace Nancy Blanton’s process as she created the cover for When Starlings Fly as One. Or, as one reader asked, “How did you get from A to B?”

Young Woman in a Dutch Portrait

The process started, as it always does, in Nancy’s glorious imagination and the cover pictured at the top of this post. As readers of her first series know, Nancy is a great fan of the portraits of the time. She was intrigued by the young woman and truly loved the Dutch portrait initially featured on the cover; it inspired many aspects of the protagonist and her personality.

We posted a few versions of that first cover on Nancy’s Facebook page and on the Amelia Indie Authors page as well and asked her existing readers about their preferences.

While both Nancy and her support team appreciated those comments they were not at all what we expected. Frankly, we thought the crowdsourcing would provide a clear preference. At first it did not. After reviewing the comments elicited by book cover number one, Blanton and the team moved from confused to inspired. In our experience, that’s what readers do: they inspire.

The Trip from A to B: Readers Inspire

Although the book covers look very different from one another, there are a number of logical steps from point A to point B. Here’s some of what Nancy had to say when she recently shared the finished book cover on social media:

You truly inspired the new look. We’ve used the murmuration background that was most favored, along with the preferred type style for the title, and made sure it was clearly readable. We also retained the castle image, though it is on the back cover now. And though I truly loved the Dutch portrait of a young woman, several of you pointed out that use of it on the cover could discourage male readers.

This is a book for all genders, for anyone who is interested in Ireland. That interest is the core that will attract readers to the book, and so we put Ireland on the cover. I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.

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When Starlings Fly as One

Publication date: June 23rd

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Although the book covers look very different from one another, there are a number of logical steps from point A to point B. Click To Tweet

After reviewing the comments elicited by cover #1, Blanton and the team moved from confused to inspired. In our experience, that’s what readers do: they inspire. Click To Tweet

The simplest way seems to be to trace Nancy Blanton’s process as she created the cover for When Starlings Fly as One. Or, as one reader asked, “How *did* you get from there to here?” Click To Tweet

 

Traveling with the Luck of the Irish

OK, OK… We know everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s day but we’ve got announcements that may extend that for you. First off, we hope that all local folks know about today’s party at the BookLoft featuring Nancy Blanton and her new release The Earl in Black Armor.

Are you Irish enough... oops... we meant lucky enough to travel to Ireland with author Nancy Blanton? Click To Tweet

But besides that? Readers everywhere will want to know about Nancy’s latest adventure: she’s leading a trip to Ireland. An intimate group of about 16 adventurers will wind through many of the sites featured in Nancy’s delicious historical fiction — and she’ll be on board to talk to you about them.

Click the link below to get all the details.

BLANTON Ireland TOUR