Get Your Copy Today

freeGet your copy of Twenty-Five, my novel, FOR FREE today on Amazon’s Kindle Store.  That’s right, it’s free again.  Download your copy before this incredibly amazing deal is gone.  Which it will be, tomorrow.  So gt your copy today!

I’m a Real Writer

How I've felt all week
How I’ve felt all week

The past couple of days have been amazing.  When I started this blog four years ago, I said I wanted to chronicle my life as I tried to become a real writer.  I thought at that time that to be a “real writer” I would have to be published by a big, traditional publishing house.  I’d have to have my book in bookstores and do book signings and interviews on late night tv.

I could not have been more wrong.

When my book went live on the Kindle Store, I felt like a REAL Writer.  A REAL Author.  Because I am.  Yes, I published myself.  But that doesn’t change all of the hard work that went into writing and editing Twenty-Five.  People have actually bought my book!  Okay, so one was my mom and one was my best friend, but 8 other people who may or may not know me actually paid the $2.99 to purchase it!  And over 100 people in the Unites States and over 100 people in the United Kingdom downloaded it for free on July 3rd.  Hey, even a couple people in Germany and France downloaded it for free.

That means over 200 people have my book available to them at this exact moment in time.  Some of those people will actually read it.  And isn’t that what really matters to all writers?  That someone out there is reading what they wrote?

Here’s a review I got on Amazon last night:

5.0 out of 5 stars Really liked this book! July 4, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I read a lot – I average a book a day, but sometimes there are books that I immediately want to read again. This was one of them!
The characters seemed real, their actions made sense, and it was well written. Plus, the story was not one I had read many times before – great points of view and very believable from both characters. The biggest point I can make is that I cried. That’s how I know I really like the story. And I highly recommend this book!
Now I’m bracing myself for the first bad review, but hey, doesn’t that just validate my writer status, too?
I created a Facebook Page for Author self, so please check it out and “Like” if you want more frequent updates on Twenty-Five and my future books: http://www.facebook.com/RachelLHammAuthor
Whew!  I think that’s all for now, but I’ll update again soon!

Just in time for your July 4th travels

The e-book is ready and on sale in the Kindle Store!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DQEYUIU

The e-book is listed FOR FREE today Wednesday July 3rd and Saturday, July 6th, so snatch it up!  If you like it, leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18114823-twenty-five

 

It will be another couple of weeks before the paperback is ready, but I’ll let you know when it is.

Hey, Good to See You Again!

Wow.  So I haven’t written here since before my job interview.  Crazy.  So much has happened.  Let me catch you up.

I got the job!

And it has been great.  It really has relieved so much of the stress I was feeling on a daily basis.  I love the people I work with and my boss is just great.  All the signs were pointing to “I need a new job,” and not only did this job deliver, it’s been better than expected.  It was exactly what I needed at the time I needed it.

I was MIA on this blog for a couple of months because I was putting a lot of energy into the other blog I started, but after a while, that one sort of fizzled out as well.  I stayed away from here because I didn’t really have anything fresh to say about writing and I didn’t want to post random facts about my boring everyday life.  I know that’s not the best thought process, but what can I say? It’s how I was thinking.

It’s especially silly, because my life has not been all that boring.  But you know, hindsight is 20-20 and all.  I’ve been trying to keep focused on “Saying Yes” and my Happiness Project by seeking out new things.  One of those new things was running a 5k, which I did in December and again this past weekend!  I am still way out of shape (and I didn’t technically run the entire thing) but old Rachel would NEVER have even ATTEMPTED such an athletic feat.  I’m planning on another one in October with my sister and I’d really like to work up to running a 10k before my 30th birthday (358 days to go).

Another new thing, something I’ve been attempting for a long time, I wrote a second book!!!!!  I have been meeting at least once a month with a friend of mine to work on writing, but even that wasn’t giving me the motivation I needed, so I decided to go for NANOWRIMO.  It worked!  I finished the first draft of my second complete novel on November 30th, 2012!  I joined a critique group and have slowly been editing it and have just started the plans for books 2 and 3 in a trilogy.  I’ll post more about that book and plans for the sequels later, I promise.

The big BIG news, though, isn’t that I wrote a second book, it’s that I’m in the process of publishing my first!  I’ve always been supremely proud of Twenty-Five and it’s always been my goal to have it in actual book form at some point, and now’s the time.  I’ve got the momentum going and the support of my friends and family, so I’m going for it.  I read a lot of articles on the benefits of self-publishing and it feels right for me.  I did speak with a publisher, but they were new to publishing fiction and I just didn’t get a good feeling from them.  It felt like the only real benefit I’d get by going through them was a less-hands on marketing approach (I don’t like marketing) and that just doesn’t seem like enough for me to give up my control.  I’m still waiting to receive a Deal Memo from the man I spoke with, but unless that has some hidden perks we didn’t originally discuss, I think I’m going to opt out and publish on my own.  I’ve already done all the formatting and purchased the ISBN and my writing partner (who also happens to be a graphic designer) has already designed a beautiful cover.  I’m just waiting on the final touches to the cover and the chance to peruse the Deal Memo before I submit everything to CreateSpace and Kindle.  Hopefully, Twenty-Five will be available for purchase by mid-July.

All that being said, I will be taking the chapters down from this blog.  Thank you to all who read here and gave me feedback and encouragement.  It meant the world to me.  I plan on keeping the blog up-to-date as I go through the world of self-publishing and as I work to get my next book in a readable condition.  If I ever slack off, you have permission to yell at me!

Reading Terrible Books Isn’t a Waste of Time

A writer I really admire said the greatest piece of advice she can give to aspiring writers is to read good literature.  And she isn’t the only person I’ve heard/read this piece of advice from.  It makes sense: read good literature, learn what works.  Read enough good literature and you’ll see patterns, rules, and formulas emerge.  When you are first getting started, this is incredibly helpful.

I’ve been a lover of classic literature since my youth.  I read Little Women at age 10.  Next came Charles Dickens and A Christmas Carol.  High school introduced me to Pride and Prejudice and my instantaneous love of all things Austen.  During college and for several years after, I rarely bought a book unless it was considered a “classic.” (Harry Potter being the obvious exception!)  All that changed with those damn Twilight books.

For the record, I read all four books in about a week.  Also for the record, I saw immediately the lack of quality in the writing of Twilight, which enhanced my perception of the brilliance of the writing in my beloved classics.  To this day, I will tell anyone who asks that, yes, I’ve read Twilight.  I will also tell them that I’m not a “fan” of Twilight, but I have to admire Stephanie Myers a little anyways.

The quality of the writing in Twilight is very poor, in my opinion.  It’s all adjectives and repetition and teenage angst.  However, the plotting- the actual story and the world created- is pretty damn good.  I read all four books because even though I was annoyed by the poor writing quality, I was caught up in the story.  I wanted to know what happened.  It also made me want to write.

Before I read the Twilight books, the only thing I could have compared my own writing to was Austen, Dickens, Eliott, Hardy, etc.  How could I compete with such masters of storytelling?  I would always find myself lacking.  I never even gave writing a thought, and I think that’s why.

But after reading Twilight, I felt confident that I could write something, if not better, than at least AS good.  And if Stephanie Myers could write a 4 book series, the least I could do would be to write one book.  So I did.

I’m so glad I read the series.  It gave me a week’s work of guilty pleasure and a lifetime of satisfaction in knowing that I managed to write a book.  My book probably isn’t ever going to be published and while I like it, I can’t testify with any certainty to it’s quality.  But that’s not even the point, is it?  Knowing that I accomplished something so huge as simply putting the words down on paper and making sense out of them is enough.

I recently started reading another book, which I also find to be lacking in the quality-writing department.  Friends kept mentioning the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy to me (and later the Fifty Shades of Grey movie), insisting that I read it.  Like Twilight, I resisted for as long as I could, but eventually my curiosity got the better of me.  Unlike Twilight, I was prepared for less-than-stellar writing.  I’d read a few reviews and looked up the backstory behind the book (it started out as Twilight Fan Fiction then was self-published. There’s that damn Twilight again).  I knew what to expect.

My expectations were met- which isn’t often said for books.  The book isn’t bad (so maybe the title of this post should be “Reading Just Okay Books Isn’t a Waste of Time”), it’s just not good.  The writing quality is okay, there aren’t any major grammatical errors and it’s easy to read, but it feels forced a lot of the time.  The author likes adjectives and repetition, just like Mrs. Myers, and, in my opinion, she likes to sound smart (some of you may question my use of the word “sound” here, maybe you’d like “appear” better?).  But in attempting to sound smart, she comes off as the opposite, and frankly it makes me think that she’s trying too hard.  Writing should flow, it should feel natural and easy, but as I’m reading it, I can’t help but wonder if she had a dictionary, thesaurus, and medical journal open in front of her at all times so she could find the perfect, intelligent-sounding words for every occasion.  I’m only half-way through the book and she’s already used the term “medulla oblongata” TWICE.  Really?  Is that necessary?  I don’t think so (unless you are the Waterboy).  Also, her characters “giggle” way too much for 20-somethings.

I worry now that I may be coming off as trying to sound smart, too, so I’ll get to my point.  I’m appreciating this book because of it’s writing.  I know, that’s confusing, isn’t it?  What I mean is, I appreciate seeing all of the things I don’t like because it makes me realize changes I need to make to my own book.  I know I still have a long way to go before Twenty-Five is publishable (even self-publishable).  I find myself noting similarities between Fifty Shades and Twenty-Five and realizing that I have a lot of editing to do to produce the quality of writing I want representing me.

So I will persevere.  I will finish the book.  I may even read the whole series.  I probably won’t call myself a fan, but I’ll probably like it in the end.  Not in the same way I like P&P or Bleak House, but in the same way I like Twilight: as a satisfying-in-the-moment guilty pleasure whose movie(s) will probably be much, much better than the actual book(s).  And I’ll continue to allow myself to get talked into reading these trendy books, because just like great literature teaches me how to be great, terrible books teach me how not to be.

           

Missing out

Days keep passing.  My life moves on every moment.  And I feel like I’m missing out.  I feel like I’m missing out on THE fundamental experiences of life.

I’ll turn 28 years old in three months.  It sounds young, but it doesn’t feel young- especially not for a woman.  Think about it- the potential for pregnancy complications and birth defects increases dramatically at age 35, which means I need to have children in the next seven years.  And even though that sounds like a fairly decent amount of time, you have to consider the time necessary to meeting, dating, and marrying the man who would be the father of my children.  Because, I’m sorry, but I’m not a person who would be strong enough to raise a child on my own.  Suddenly, seven years doesn’t feel like that much time, does it?  I think about my sister and her husband.  They started dating in high school and got married when they were 21.  He turned 30 this past November and she’ll turn 30 in four days.  They are expecting their first child in June.  Nine years of marriage, and almost 12 years together- that’s what they got before they had children.  And they still have plenty of time to have more kids if they want to.

But I’ll never have that.  It’s impossible.  I know not all relationships are the same.  Every person is different- no one has the same path in life.  I don’t know exactly how to put it, but it makes me sad – that kind of relationship was NEVER a possibility for me.  It’s unfair.

I’m turning 28 in three months and I’m not just upset that I haven’t had kids or a long term relationship.  What bothers me the most is never loving at all.  And never being loved.  In Twenty-Five, Abigail told Ben that no one had ever made her feel pretty, that no one had ever cared about her, or even liked her.  That’s me.  It’s a true for me now as it was three years ago when I wrote it.  I can’t figure out why.  It seems so incredibly unfair to me.  I can’t understand what I’ve done to deserve going through life completely alone.  Unless you’ve gone 28 (or more) years completely single- you have no idea, no idea whatsoever how it feels.  I can’t even describe it really.  Some days I’m fine.  It doesn’t even register on my radar that I’m a single person.  Other days, everything reminds me that no one loves me, and at this point, the likelihood that anyone ever will seems to be steadily decreasing.  You can’t imagine how that kind of thing affects your self-worth and overall happiness.

The absolute worst part of it is that I have no one I can really talk to about it.  The few people I have in my life who do genuinely care about me don’t understand, no matter how much they try to.  Comments like, “It’s better to be with nobody than with the wrong person,” are not helpful.  Getting advice on dealing with being single from a person who hasn’t been single since they hit puberty is not helpful.  I appreciate the thought, but it doesn’t make me feel any better.

So many instances have happened recently to bring on this onslaught of self-pity.  I’ll mention the two that are most prominent in my mind.  I was at a meeting a couple of days ago with a couple and their officiant, planning their wedding ceremony.  The officiant asked them to share something personal about themselves to be included in the address and they mentioned their belief that one of the great things about marriage is having someone who is always your fan: someone who cheers you on and supports you no matter what.  The officiant likened it to being each other’s # 1 fan.  I teared up a little during the meeting, it was so sweet.  Then later, thinking back on it, I teared up again, realizing that I had no one who could claim to be my biggest fan, and no one I could claim to be their biggest fan.

The second instance happened during the St. Patrick’s Day Bar Crawl I went on with my (other) sister and her husband.  At some point in the evening, my brother-in-law told a story about how he once almost punched a guy my sister hugged while they were out at a bar.  Apparently, she used to date the guy, and my bro-in-law was drunk and jealous.  I know girls aren’t supposed to want their men to be jealous, but a little bit of envy shows passion.  And once again, no one has ever felt that kind of passion for me (nor have I felt it for anyone else).

This post probably makes me sound crazy.  At least, if you are a guy, you are jumping to that conclusion.  I don’t know- maybe I am a little insane, but I don’t think I am in a bad way, and truth be told, I think guys like to use the “crazy woman” explanation any time a woman behaves in ways they can’t (or won’t try to) understand.

I don’t expect to accomplish anything by writing this, except maybe a little relief.  I know it’s not the first time I’ve indulged my sadness and bemoaned singledom via the blog, so for those of you who have read through it more than once, thank you and I’m sorry.

Resolutions

I’m not good at keeping resolutions of any kind,  New Year’s or otherwise.  So that’s why I’ve stopped making them in the past.  I just don’t have the willpower or the motivation to follow through.  If no one else is depending on me doing something, chances are, I’m not going to stick with it.  I am not sure exactly why it is.  Perhaps I spend so much of my time working- where there is always someone anticipating or needing something from me, that when it comes to myself, it’s almost a break to not expect anything.

I’ve never gone on a true diet, because the times I’ve tried to “eat healthy” have lasted all of 3 days before I succumbed to my intense craving for Ben & Jerry’s.  I don’t exercise, because I’m just too tired at the end of the day (or the beginning of the day).  I realize that this is very bad.  Very bad indeed.  I want to be someone capable of improving myself, but let’s face it, that’s not who I am.

To get to my true point though, I sort of made a resolution this year to write more.  To be precise, I made a resolution to do something writing-related every day, even if it’s only for 5 minutes.  I’m not setting any kind of goals or holding myself to any kind of standard, but I felt like it was a resolution that needed to be made.  If I want to ever truly be a real writer, I need to be in the habit of writing on a daily basis.  When I wrote Twenty-Five, I couldn’t put my freaking pen down, but since then, it’s been a constant struggle to find the time and the energy to be creative.  I think I have a habit of sabotaging myself and I’m trying to break that with a new habit.

So far, I’ve been doing really well.  I haven’t spent a lot of time each day writing, but I’ve opened my computer and written something on The Death Effect every day since January 1st.  I have a brand new chapter that’s SOOO close to being finished and I find myself thinking about the characters and the scene I’m working on when I have down time (basically, when I’m driving to and from work and when I’m trying to fall asleep).  I think I may actually finish a first draft at some point.  At the rate I’m going, it might not happen in 2012, but it is going to happen.  You can check The Death Effect’s page to check my progress throughout the year.  As I’m writing this, I am up to 46, 924 words, 38 chapters written, and 4 chapters started (they are short chapters, just in case you aren’t familiar with how long 46K words is).  I’m estimating that the completed first draft will be between 65K and 80K words, with 55ish chapters.

I’m looking forward to this.  I hope I find it in myself to go through with it.  If you follow the blog and you notice I haven’t updated in a while, feel free to give me a good kick in the pants.  I’ll probably need it at some point.

Being an Adult?

Today I took down my Christmas tree.  It was my first real Christmas tree that was all mine- I picked out the ornaments and the lights, I decorated it, and every night I plugged in the lights and sat in it’s glow (usually while watching television and/or answering emails).  A friend actually bought the tree for me because I’d mentioned that I wanted a mini-tree to put up in the condo since I would be spending most of the month of December here.  She had my name for Secret Santa at work and showed up to our Christmas party on December 11th toting a 2  1/2′ tall live tree (that’s an estimate- I didn’t actually measure it).

Full disclosure- she did text me a day or two before the party to let me know she bought the tree so I didn’t end up buying one for myself and so I’d have time to get some ornaments for it.

I’m sorry for the bad picture, but it’s the only one I have.  I actually added some larger ornaments to the tree a couple days after this was taken, but I forgot to take another picture.

I decided I’d take the tree down today because it was getting very dry and I didn’t see the point in watering it again when I knew I’d have to take it down by the 30th anyways (the owners of the condo come home from their Christmas vacation on December 31st), plus the cleaning man is coming tomorrow and so I have to straighten things up as much as possible (I know, it’s completely ironic that I have to clean before the cleaning man comes, but so it goes- also, full disclosure, the owners of the condo pay the cleaning man, not me; I could never afford a cleaning man.  Or this condo).

As I was removing the brightly colored shatter-resistant (a very important feature when you live with 4 cats who like to swat at anything and everything) baubles from the tree, I got to thinking about how it really was my very first adult Christmas tree.  This is the third year I’ve pet-sat over the holidays and during the previous two years I didn’t even consider getting a tree.  I knew I’d be spending Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s and Christmas day at my parents, ant they both have trees, so why would I need one?  Especially when I’d be the only one looking at it and there’d be no gifts under it.

I think I’ve spent a good portion of my adult(?) life waiting.  Waiting for the right career.  Waiting for the husband and family that is surely inevitable.  Was I waiting to put up a Christmas tree until I had someone to enjoy it with?  Probably.  And that’s just stupid.  No one gets anywhere by standing still and waiting.

I think I was probably also waiting to go back to school until I had someone to support me through it.  Not financially.  I can take care of myself in that respect (well, I try and as I’m still eating and filling my car with gas and don’t have creditors hunting me down in the street, I feel like I’m succeeding).  No, I mean to support me as in give me the encouragement I need when I’m having a shitty day and want to say “screw it, I’ll never be a writer.”  Support me as in, drive me to campus/work when my car is broken down and needs to be in the shop for a couple of days.   Support me as in, just saying “Hey, you’re awesome and I love you.”  Well.  That support isn’t coming from outside sources, so I guess I’ll have to do that, too.  And I can do that.  Because I am awesome.

All that to say, hey!  I finished my grad school applications!  Yay!  Lots of exclamation points, yay!!!!!!!!  I have this dreadful feeling in the pit of my stomach that I’m not going to get in, but at the same time, I feel this wonderful sense of empowerment that I actually completed the applications and sent them in.  I’ll never get in without applying, after all.  And if I don’t get in, oh well.  I try again next year.  Or I take it as a sign and get serious about trying to find an agent for Twenty-Five (I know I say that a lot, but hey 2012 is almost here and I see it as an amazing new start.  Who knows what can happen?).

My friend, Jaclyn, wants to write a book, so we’ve made a pact that we are going to meet once a month for a couple of hours and just write.  We won’t talk or distract each other- we’ll be holding each other accountable and making sure that we are writing something.  I’ve really missed the community of writers I had back in my TNBW days, and maybe this will bring back some of the motivation I had then.  I’m really looking forward to it.  And Jaclyn- now that I’ve put this out into the internet/blogging universe, you know we actually have to do it.

Wow.  So this is the most I’ve written on this blog in a while and I hope it’s been worth your while to read, if I even have any readers left.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  This 27 1/2 year old envisions a fabulous 2012 and a lot more, “Hey, I’m an Adult!” moments ahead.  I’ll keep you posted…