Sunday, June 1, 2014

Where Have I Been?

Hello all!

It's been a bit over two months since I've been on here, and I've been promising a blog for a while, so finally - FINALLY - let's catch up.

Most of the past two months has been spent working on a screenplay writing project. That is, I accepted a contract to write THREE 90-PAGE SCRIPTS in about 6 weeks...

Whew! It has been crazy! In between that, I've had my classes and been attending lots of events promoting my books. I've met a lot of wonderful people and gotten some truly lovely feedback from my wonderful readers. I truly appreciate all the emails and reviews!

Also, because of the rapid nature of my recent contract, I have only slightly worked on my personal projects - my sci-fi mashup, EVRISKON, and my play, CLUTCHING AT MY CLOTHES. I did start  a few short stories, including one that will be turned into a script for yet another project.

Over the summer, I'll be appearing at Sci-Fest, Texas Comicon, MonsterCon, and Alamo City Comicon! In addition, "Figuratively Speaking," the first episode from my movie, SANITARIUM, will be released as a comic on July 30th, and I will be signing copies at a local comic store.

There's also more big news, but I'll talk about that soon...

Finally, I am happy to report that over the past year, I've had over 4,100 visitors to my website and nearly 6,000 page views. SO, as a big THANK YOU for the one-year anniversary of www.cmbratton.com,  I am offering DISCOUNTS on two of my books through Kindle. Feel free to copy the codes below!!

PSYCH 101: ZOMBIE: enter code PNFDFPFB at checkout to get 35% OFF

(and this is the link: http://www.amazon.com/Psych-101-Zombie-CM-Bratton-ebook/dp/B00I9282WY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1401638637&sr=1-1&keywords=psych+101%3A+zombie)

VIBRANTLY COLORED: enter code J7P5U8BK at checkout to get 50% OFF

(and this is the link: http://www.amazon.com/Vibrantly-Colored-C-M-Bratton-ebook/dp/B00IFB2O2S/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1401638108)

I've got some wonderful writing experiences to share as well, so look out for the next blog, coming very soon.

cheers all!

PS The codes may take another day or two to get into the system.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Updates and Observations

So many wonderful things have been going on that I've fallen behind updating my media outlets lately. Thus, I'd like to begin this blog by sharing several updates.

As of my last blog, I'd just finished publishing two books in one week (what? my mind still hurts to think about it) and was getting ready to participate in a slew of events promoting and selling my books. Well, I am still in the midst of attending events, though after this week, I'll have a few weeks off before the next round. I've also organized my calendar for events for the rest of the year AND planned out my goals in terms of specific word counts for the rest of the year. Here's what I found out - I have enough project already started to take me through the end of next year! I am currently working on a play and a novel - both such separate genres and mediums that the switching back and forth has actually been rather refreshing. I am hoping by September to start working on another book, which I'd like to finish next year along with yet another book. In addition, I have two other books started that I want to work on and possibly get first drafts of finished by end of next year. Not to mention a few short stories here and there. Whoa!

I recently had a Book Signing Event in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Why there? Because my cover designer and models for my zom-com books live there. It was insanely fun to hang out with the models AND have them sign books right alongside me. What did I forget? To have them sign a book for me! Ah, I'm learning.

Another incredible part of the trip includes the five in-studio radio interviews I had. Though I've been interviewed before, it's either been on the phone or as part of a different event. These interviews were purely about my books (and a little about my movie) and they were all extremely different. I had an amazing time and am grateful for the new friends I've made.

At an event just last week, someone said, "Oh! I want to be a writer, too." And if there's anything that's really been part of defining the past month, it's the increase in how many people tell me that. All of them - every single one - have said they don't have either the time or the focus to finish what they write. All I can do is encourage them, for they're right. You need to have self-discipline and carve out time every day to write. You need to stay focused and motivated to finish anything - whether it be a complicated recipe, work-out program, performance, or college course. It is the same with writing. 

Write. Write. Keep writing. Don't stop. Finish. Get it all down. Give yourself something to look at, something to edit, something to revise. Something to throw away and tell yourself what's not working. But please, please, if I can tell you anything, it's this: just write.

Stay motivated, dedicated, disciplined, focused, and just write.

I want to read your stories, too.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Two Books, Seven Days

Having recently ventured into self-publishing, I have been both motivated and stressed in dealing with finishing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd drafts, editing, more editing, copy editing, formatting, cover artwork, pricing, marketing, and hey, more editing!

All of which meant that somehow, I published two very different books within a week of each other.

After which I crawled onto my couch and did nothing for many blissful hours.

When I originally planned out the writing projects I hoped to complete this year, I had thought to get PSYCH 101: ZOMBIE (P1Z) out the third week of January and VIBRANTLY COLORED (VB) out late March. Then I decided I wanted to have VC ready for an event, so I pushed that publishing date to the end of February - after all, I'm self-publishing. I can do that. But then there was a delay with my cover art for P1Z and I ended up needing to push back my Book Release Party.

That's when it hit me - if I worked intensely enough, I could have BOTH books for the same release party. Because of shipping times (and there are not many options when you buy directly from the distributor), I knew that meant I had very little time to finish VB - maybe two weeks to finish editing and formatting. Fortunately, I'd already gotten someone to do the cover art a few months earlier, so I wasn't too worried about that (it was my dad, and I felt okay to bug him about getting it done on time). 

I buried myself in editing - both for VB and any last minute edits for P1Z. When the artwork came in for P1Z, I took a break from VB to upload and finish the final steps before publishing. As soon as I was done, I jumped back to VB and kept going, finishing up in the afternoon and receiving the artwork that same evening (my dad got a litle stressed out after all!). Again, I followed all the steps and happily pushing the button that gave permission to publish.

Then I went and collapsed, but just for a few minutes. After all, I had to go teach writing shortly after.

But the next morning, while looking at the release dates on Amazon for my books, it hit me - I had somehow published two books within SEVEN DAYS of each other - what?!!? No wonder I was exhausted.

But apparently not that exhausted, because now my brain can't stop thinking about other projects I get to return to and future events, such as my renamed 'Book(s) Release Party'. The year is really rolling now.

During this process, I've learned you can not only change your deadlines to suit your needs, you can also push yourself to meet them, even if the deadlines are all mental. Doing what I love is worth the extra time. It takes focus, dedication, and willpower, but anything worth having should.

It's only February, but I've been told I've done so much.

Ah, but all these stories in my head tell me - there's so much more to do.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Unexpected Sequels

So my newest book, PSYCH 101: ZOMBIE is now out (yay happy dance). 

But writing a sequel to PLAN B: ZOMBIE was most definitely not on my writing to-do list after PBZ came out. In fact, I was quite adamantly sure that, after having published three books in the previous six months, I deserved a nice break to plan out my next year, including events I wanted to attend. In-between events, I thought I'd spend some time, finally, working on several long-term writing projects that I'd pushed aside while feverishly writing DEPTHS OF PERCEPTION and finishing PBZ.

But what I want and what comes out on the page are not often the same thing.

In this case, there were more zombie stories wanting to come out, because I kept thinking, zombie reform would probably produce some internal mental issues from the stresses associated with controlling an appetite that exists for brains. So when I started writing, a few scant weeks after PBZ came out, another zombie story rolled out - or rather, another twelve zombie stories. 

This time around, however, all the stories wanted out at the same time while a huge part of me wanted a break from satire and a return to dark fantasy or sci-fi. So I decided to start all of them. At once. I opened twelve new Word docs and wrote anywhere from 100-500 words for each one. Then I had to finish them, had to follow a new deadline, had to let the characters breed and breathe their way out of my head.

So despite having started the sci-fi/fantasy mash-up, the biographical play, and the three fantasy epics I'd already started, I worked instead on my zom-com sequel, P1Z - what?!

But here it is, out at last, and I'm incredibly thankful that I listened to the characters, to the movements of my fingers as I typed satire, farce, and tongue-in-cheek silliness instead of robot takeovers, the beginning of the world, dragon awakenings, and mage families. Because looking at both books side by side, I know I made the right choice. Those other stories are still sitting, somewhat less patiently in my head, but they will come, too. And I'll translate their broken thoughts and shattered dreams soon enough.

In the meantime, I get to laugh at zombies, and hopefully you will, too. 

And you know, that's not such a bad way to start off 2014.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Love-Hate Relationship with Editing (Part II)

So here I am, at it again. Editing. Oh so much editing! Writing is re-writing, and as I take a moment to reflect on my newest book, I know that, once again, as much as I dreaded editing, it was also extremely rewarding.
Consider all of the aspiring writers who start a piece, begin to edit it, decide to re-write it before even reaching a halfway point in the story, and never truly finish that first piece of writing. I've learned (both from experience and at conventions listening to other professional writers) that editing is specifically the second half of the writing process. The first half is getting something down!
Jodi Picoult once said, "You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can't edit a blank page." 
If there's any tenet of writing I follow most slavishly, it is that one. I do not edit until I've got a mostly finished first draft. Otherwise, I'll never finish. I see this over and over again with aspiring writers who try and edit as they go along. It is, perhaps, an attainable for a truly seasoned writer, especially one who has to freedom to write full-time (oh what a dream!), but for the novice, I urge and implore you to consider the quote above. Write something, anything, even something bad. Then begin your editing. That's what it's for.
In the end, my love-hate relationship with editing exists because I've learn to rely on it heavily after the intensive creative process of writing the first draft. But I have to finish it first. Only after I get all the supposedly brilliant words down do I begin to think of editing. I stop and give myself some time off to clear my head. During that time off, the amount of editing I have to do begins to loom over me as I think about all the promises I made to myself to fill out scenes or add research and details. I start to try and avoid it. 
During the editing process for my most recent book, I finally figured out why: editing is the second half of the writing process. That intensive first draft is not nearly as complete as I want it to be. I must do a second, and a third, and however many necessary number of drafts until I get it write. It's what I promised myself whenever I skipped around a scene or decided to wait on doing some research. (Of course I can over-edit, so I usually stop myself around a fourth or fifth draft.) The main point to remember, though, is that editing is just as intensive a creative process as the first draft. That's why you have to write something down first, because if you go straight to editing, you are short-changing your creative process.
I don't know if I'll ever truly love editing in a simple, straightforward way. It is often frustrating, particularly when I find mistakes or mis-written sentences several drafts in. But perhaps that's the beauty of my love-hate regard of editing. It challenges me aggressively to become a better writer, and in the midst of that adversity, I not only learn more about writing, I learn to meet each obstacle and how to best overcome them.
So when you write, don't stop. Finish your story. Stop stressing about typos and awkward sentences or pronoun ambiguity. That will come.
First, get the story out.
Trust me, the editing part is not going anywhere. It waits, patiently, for the right moment, the write time.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Single Sentence

Before I get back to completing some already-promised blogs about promoting and editing, I'd like to take some time to look at this past year, so here we go:

C.M. Bratton's Year In Review

I published 3 books and a movie I co-wrote was released both internationally and in the U.S.

The end.

Okay, no, not really. But I wanted to begin my year review by noting that everything I've done can be condensed into a single sentence, as tagline as it were, of the thousands of hours I've spent focused on building my writer career. Like every other worthwhile dream in life, the above sentence represents a long series of tiny steps that built into a tangible reality. To say "3 books and a movie out in 2013" is not to understate the work I've done, but rather, to highlight why I spent so much time working. It's proof that dreams don't need to live in my head along with my as-yet unwritten stories.

Thus, 2013:

Finished writing the final two parts of my first published book, WRAITHLING BORN, a dark fantasy.
Published it in April.
Conceived of, researched, wrote, and edited my science-fiction novel, DEPTHS OF PERCEPTION in six crazy weeks. 
Published it at the end of June.
Designed and ordered cards for C. M. Bratton, Writer.
Started a webpage and a Fan page on Facebook.
Wrote final two chapters and edited third book, PLAN B: ZOMBIE. 
Published it in September.
Attended my first WorldCon, where I met and received great advice from some of my all-time favorite authors.
Participating in a movie writing panel at a film festival for the first time.
Enjoyed watching the movie I co-wrote on the big screen.
Became a vendor selling my books for the first time at 4 events the last third of the year.
Wrote a sequel, PSYCH 101: ZOMBIE, and edited most of it in preparation for publication for 2014.
And finally, SANITARIUM was released December 31st.

All of which brings me to 2014.

I have two books I plan to publish, along with another book and play to write. And possibly some shorter stories. In addition, I plan to attend at least 10 events as a vendor for my books (the list which I will post on my website soon). The graphic novel of "Figuratively Speaking," the first episode in SANITARIUM that I co-authored, will be out in June. And finally, there may be some more movie scripts on the horizon.

Sometimes I think and think about all the work I have left to do, all the projects floating in my head. My sincere desire to get them out and on the page. I think about my plans to return to theatre after my yearlong hiatus, to balance my onstage work with my life between the pages of a new writing project. I feel overwhelmed, and frightened, and worried that I might burn out.

But then I think about all of you. My fans. The emails and reviews and conversations I've had. The people who've followed me and somehow gotten inspired. And I feel so incredibly humbled and grateful for every moment of taking this crazy dream and making it live.

So when I consider 2013, I let my anxiety about the future fall away. Instead, I focus on that simple, single sentence that made every moment worthwhile:

I published 3 books and a movie I co-wrote was released both internationally and in the U.S.

Maybe that single sentence is all that's needed to carry me into this new year.






Sunday, November 3, 2013

Promoting

This is the first in my new series on promoting, in which I will attempt to describe my experiences on the business side of being a writer - something I feel many writers simply do not want to deal with, including myself.
See, I started out with a plan - a plan I admit I've followed most carefully.
To begin, I needed a product - my book. In fact, I felt I needed more than one, so I rushed and toiled and managed to get three books printed within six months (still gasping). But during that time (as mentioned in a previous blog), I decided to abstain from my normal time-consuming pursuits (namely, theatre) and devote myself to developing my name as a brand.
That's a strange way to think of my work, but it's a concise description of a line of products produced, promoted, and sold by me. As an artist, it's difficult in some ways to consider my creations, at it were, as something capable of being mass produced. But in the end, if I want my writing to produce some sort of feasible income that supplements my living, then I have to spend quality time developing it and coaxing it along. And that involves taking responsibility for my work after publishing.
So, as I worked on publishing my books, or production, I also decided to establish a web presence. First, I added a fan page on Facebook. This was the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to announce to my hundreds of connections what I was doing. Then I started writing more blogs and posting them on my website - a way to keep my readers and potential readers connected to what I was working on. I think this is an especially important step, because oftentimes, we writers are so isolated in our work that it's hard to break out of that and share what we're working through.
After those two steps, I was in the final stages of publishing my second book, so I went ahead and created business cards and my website. My website provides immediate access to information about my work, including links to everything, a way to contact me and provide feedback or ask questions, and a quick button to buying/downloading my work. In short, it's a one-stop portal to the entire Internet and readers with whom I have no direct access.
And of course, the business cards. To hand out, of course. When? At my final step, one that is merely like the attaining of a black belt in aikido - reaching the privileged status of zero. That's right. Having pulled myself out of the negatives, I now have a basic ground to stand on to begin the real promotions work: attending events. That's right. On top of getting products and establishing a web presence, I needed to actually GO OUT and meet people and start telling them about my books. And hopefully sell a few books along the way.
So that's where I'm at now. I've been to three events, missed a few, and am getting ready for more. It is definitely a learning process, because some events are quite different from others in tone. I've seen that an audience of would-be readers is not necessarily always a given, but a chance to talk and engage with people from all walks of life, some of whom are interested in reading, and some who are not, yet still supportive of my work.
Truthfully, that's really the best part. It doesn't matter who I talk to - they all seem genuinely proud or excited by my work.
And maybe... that's all I really need to keep going.
----
Look for the next blog in the series - Promoting: The Setup