vintage butterfly red

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Kickstarter- ROUND 2!

It's been so long since I've posted anything here. After Ramadan, I've started back into college and my novel has been sitting on my laptop practically untouched. I've decided to try Kickstarter once again. This time I've lowered my goal to the bare minimum of $2,500. This price will include a professional edit of my novel, artwork, and Kickstarter's fee. As for the rewards, I realized for my initial project, they were very mediocre and impersonal. Now, I will have handmade rewards that I've poured my sweat and blood into. I only hope I can keep up with this during college.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Addicted to books


My name is Salt and I'm a book addict.
I never recognized by addiction to books, maybe I was in denial for all those years. It started with A Wrinkle In Time. I was nine years old at the time, a dark and stormy night with nothing to do. I decided to try something new. I decided to read a book.

It comes and goes. The urge to find someplace else to fall into, to slip away into a world of my own.

I didn't know how bad it was until a few days ago. I haven't been able to find a job in over 15 months. I missed my car insurance payment and my sister had to boot the entire bill. During this depressing time the reading urge hit me in the middle of the night.

I flipped over every sofa cushion, cleaned out every drawer and dug through my pockets to scrape up a measly $4.20. With that money, I flew to the nearest second hand bookstore.

Books are my comfort food. I can't help it. The knowledge within them, or just the promise of a entertaining read is too much for me to resist.

I guess you know you're an addict when you spend your last few dollars on books.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Using Profanity in Writing Fiction For Young Adults/Children

Profanity. One of the biggest obstacles in my writing. For the sake of realism, I say. I want my characters' voices to ring true, yet at the same time I don't want parents or a school board banning it, or feeling as though I have forced it on myself. Nor do I want to use it unnecessarily and upset my readers.

Sometimes, I think it doesn't matter. With all the sex, drugs, and cursing that we're exposed to in everyday life, a scene or two in a book isn't going to kill them. But then I remember that the reason so many people read in the first place is to escape from all that. 

So what should you do? Stephen King's On Writing and numerous other How-To-Write books will tell you that staying true to your character is essential. If the character is raised in a household that taught no manners, you can't have him speaking with 3rd grade insults. Unless he is in 3rd grade. Some characters brought it in conservative households will say things that would make a nun blush. No matter what, stay true to your character.

However, one way to get around it is saying it without saying it.
In the Newberry Honor Book Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, there's a scene where one of the characters curses but the letters are dashed out. F----! You know exactly what she says but you haven't read it. This is a great way to say it without saying it. The downside, however, is that it breaks the fourth wall which will pull the readers from the story and back to the person writing it. Perhaps, if the story is narrated by a younger person, who finds cursing bad, it'll pass. If you're writing for a certain group, say a religious one, this also will probably be more acceptable.

You can also have a character whisper an insult that makes a teacher turn scarlet red and with a stutter send them to the Principal's office. The reaction to an unspoken insult can also do the job quite nicely. This way, the readers imagination fills in the blank with their own profanity.

Lastly, you can use another language or create your own slang. This way when a reader comes across it, it won't make them cringe as much as if they read the current slang equivalent. However, this also means that it won't have the same effect when one character says it to another.

As always, read a wide range of literature and try to target some of the books that have been banned because of the language. Also, think about how you felt when books held questionable scenes. Were you so put off that you set the book down, or was it easily dismissed? While I agree on keeping true to your character, you should also be true to yourself. Never put out something that you'd later regret.

Good Luck Writing.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sensory Writing

Sometimes beginning authors, such as myself, forget to include the other senses in our writing. Sight is simple, we cannot imagine reading a book that doesn't include this. ( Although, I'd love to try a book done in first person narrative about a blind character!) But the other four, Hearing, Feeling, Taste and Scent, may often be left out. Here's some advice from Catherine Woolley's Writing For Children  that will help you decide when to include these other sensations. Don't let the title mislead you! There's great information in here for all types of writers.

Hearing- When wanting to create a certain mood, the sense of hearing is especially useful. Think of the sounds you recall from childhood or any happy period. The fair, the movie theater, the park, or a secret garden. When creating a suspenseful or creepy mood, minimize Sight and maximize Hearing. It a truth universally acknowledged that what we can't see frightens us, so make sure to take advantage of this in your writing!

Feeling-  Describe how your characters feel the heat of a boiler room, let them feel the icy splash of a spring creek, or the itchy crawling of ants, or the rough texture of asphalt as it grinds off skin during a fall.

Taste and Scent- Woolley advises that authors "use smell and taste to the hilt" Our sense of smell is the most nostalgic.summer's onion smelling grass,  smokey fragrance of barbecued chicken, the trace of fireworks in the night air. Every character eats, don't forget to let your readers also have a taste. Sipping sweet hot cocoa, the tangy taste of an orange. One I particularly liked was "bacon strips that felt like pieces of salty leather on his tongue", which is both feeling and taste. Often some scents and tastes can be interchangeable, food can taste smokey and the air can smell sweet.

If done correctly, the readers will experience these things with the character and feel as though they've been silently following alongside the whole time. Also make sure you don't overdo it. If a character drinks something out of the ordinary, an elixir of some sort, you don't have to describe it every time, once or twice should be enough especially if the first description is strong. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What are you listening to?

When writing, I notice that certain music helps the words flow more smoothly from my head. Rarely its soundtrack movies, but most of the time it's not even music I'm listening to. The most helpful track on my MP3 player or computer is the sound of thunder and rain. It's so relaxing, and if I get a good candle burning (I adore First Rain from Pier1), then I can slip right into the setting of my novel. Sometimes I crank the AC up real high to give myself a chill. It probably sounds a bit crazy but I think it's a thousand times more engaging writing when you're surrounded by the setting than when you're just sitting on your bed, typing on your laptop. I'm not exactly sure if reading with the soundtrack is as engaging or harmful. What do you do, if anything, to create atmosphere when you're reading/writing?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Better Verbs= Better Prose

Have you ever asked yourself, "why does my work sound so bad?" More than likely it's a couple of  problems. But as I was searching the net for someone to tell me why my books sounded so sucky, I found a huge hint. VERBS! My verbs were dulling my work. Specifically, the TO BE verb and mediocre verbs, MOVE, WALK, OPEN, SMILE, RAN.
Instead of using an adverb to describe a plain verb, use a stronger to improve your prose.
He quickly ran inside = He dashed inside
A smile was on her face = A smile stretched across her face.
The room was full of shoes = Shoes cluttered the room.
Sometimes sentences may need to be rearranged for a better vision.
All right! Now, back to editing!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

To Justify or not to justify, that is the question

Without a doubt, interior book designs done by professionals look amazing. One tip I learned is that books' interior text is justified and many self published authors don't copy this into their own formatting. This has been a problem for me. I've been  working on editing my book and when I copy and past it into the template, the words are sometimes stretched to fit the justified format. It doesn't look professional  at all. Does anyone know a quick way to fix this?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

How to Format MS Word Page Numbers

One thing that drove me insane was the page numbers that came with my Createspace Template. They weren't exactly appropriate for my story. Go pick up a book, the closest one to me was Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Flip through it and look at how the page numbers flow with the theme of the book. Harry Potter is the exact same way. Period Romance will likely have cursive numbers. Books are works of art and these little details are great for enhancing the story.

So, how do you fix the ugly Myraid Pro numbers at the bottom of your template? If you're working with Microsoft Word 2010, then click on the bottom page until the footer section is selected.
Then on your keyboard, press, ctrl+shift+s. This brings up the Apply Styles box.
Under Style Name, select Page Number
Then click the Modify Box.
For Styles Based on, I wasn't exactly sure, so I just selected 'underlying properties'.
From this new box, you should be able to pick the font, size, italics, bold, underline and the the usual.

If you don't have MS Word 2010, here's a link to how its done on the older versions of Word. Hope it helps!

Fonts for your book

Never underestimate the power of typography. If done correctly, fonts are an easy way to enhance the feel of your book. Don't write an entire 80K word novel about an Egyptian adventure in Papyrus. It's great for the header and footer, but not the text itself. That's too much on the readers' eyes. Go for the serifs. They are considered easier for the eyes to follow, therefore quicker to read.
Five Interior Book Fonts and where to get them-

If you're looking for display fonts, a great website that hosts a ton of them is

Friday, March 16, 2012

Angelfall Paperback Giveaway!

Susan Ee, the awesome author of Angelfall is having a giveaway for her equally awesome book! Sign up for notifications and enter yourself!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Things that I notice (and don't like) about YA books.

One thing that I keep see trending in YA is the one person to save the world kinda thing. It's not a bad premise but the way its executed its turning into the cliche. One girl/boy hits 13/16/18 inherits awesome powers and suddenly is the only thing keeping the world from total destruction. Adults are rendered incompetent. It reminds me of the new batch of superhero shows that's running on t.v. now. The problem with this is that most teenagers are the worst superheroes ever. Especially if written by a young adult, the characters are usually too cocky for my liking and irresponsible. Yes, they're supposed to be all kick-butt but I rarely see that in a way that makes me root for them. I like humble heroes and teenagers is rarely that.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The things I've learned...

As my Kickstarter project comes to a close, I realize a few things. Having friends is very helpful. Also, as stated before Absolute Write Forum is golden, go there for any and all advice. I'll work on my stories and do the best I can to take criticism. Also remember, those who criticize, unless they're heartless trolls, are usually doing it to help.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I think I'm starting to get the hang of things...

I've never been much of a socialite. I despised so many of the social networks for all the drama they created but as my Kickstarter project runs into it's final days I realize networking isn't all that bad. There are so many people who share you ideas and likes that it's really like making a friends world-wide. It's all baby steps right now.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chapter One Preview

Vincent Martinelli stared at the large pink cut running jaggedly down into the girl’s blond eyebrow. Maybe, he thought, she could tell what he was going to say, that's why her eyes never met his face. But he continued to stare, amazed that he couldn't even recognize her anymore. She used to be a fun, bubbly, teenage girl who he could talk to all day, more natural than peanut butter and jelly. Now, he didn't know who or what he was looking at.
“Don't look at me that way, Vincent.” Angela Landers, keeping her pale green eyes on the floor, folded her arms across her chest defensively.
“What way?” He asked, anger lining his words.
“Don't look at me with those damn judgmental eyes!” Never in all the years he had known her could he imagine her lovely lilting voice freezing into venom. But her words only strengthened his stare. You used to be beautiful, always laughing and smiling. He wanted her to feel his dark eyes drilling into her face, he wanted her to see the pain in them. She crossed the room in her torn bleached out jeans and dingy white Hollister sweatshirt and dropped on the sunken sofa which emitted a painful scratchy squeak under her weight. He hadn't seen her in anything else in almost a week.
“What are you doing here?” She asked picking up the remote. Vincent knew from her tone of disgust, she wasn’t looking for an answer, probably because she already knew it. He stood in the doorway of the tiny living room watching her flick through the channels, reading the guilty expression she was trying to mask.
“So, are you going to start to lecture or not?” Her eyes narrowed with contempt, but kept to the screen.
“Angela……” he was shocked how quickly his voice had failed at just saying her name. He had said the same sentence in his head, a hundred times a day, and every time he dared to speak it, his voice fled. He swallowed to rewet his throat. “Don't go back.” She scoffed with theatric exaggeration and tossed back her unwashed bleached blonde hair.
“Are you serious? Are you serious?” Accusing eyes narrowed further into snake-like slits. “You must think this is a game, Vincent.”
“It is a game to them! They're laughing at you!” He wanted to speak calmly but he couldn’t control his voice. It was cracking as if he was thirteen years old again. “You’re just their toy!” He took a deep breath hoping it would ease the tightening of his throat. “You have to stop.” He managed to say firmly while catching her eye. For a millisecond, Vincent thought he felt a connection. There was a tiny glint of understanding, a peek of regret so deep it seemed she might shatter into pieces, then, quickly, she looked away. “You have to-” She cut him off before he could repeat it.
“It's not like I don't want to get out-”
“THEN GET OUT!” The yell came out uncontrollably. Vincent never yelled at anyone, let alone his best friend. It felt strange and the urge to apologize rose in throat, but he held it down. He had tried so hard to be calm about it, but a piece of him died every time he saw her with a new bruise or cut, or sitting amongst her new friends at lunch. She rose from the sofa eyes tearing up.
“I can't, Vincent. You know I can't. No one can.”
“Just because no one's done it, doesn't make it imp-”
“Ugggh,” her exaggerated groan cut him off as she started to pace, “you wouldn't understand!”
“Then tell me!” He tried to catch her eye again, to reconnect with her, let her know he was still there.
“It's a whole 'nother world, Vincent. You can't just explain it.”
“It's just down the street!” She rolled her eyes again, something she did often nowadays. She could brush off Armageddon with ease. It felt as if everything was warped and no matter what he said the words wouldn't sink in. Instead, they'd bounce off her and fill the room and his head, causing sleepless nights. “Fine,” he pulled back after getting no response, “I'll go myself.”
“No,” she stopped pacing and turned to him, her eyes serious.
“Why not? You go.” He answered, hoping that she could see his point. She stood in front of him for a moment staring at the dingy cream carpet floor littered with cigarette butts and hardened gum. Finally, with a defeated sigh she spoke.
“I know you don't like them. I understand that, but they treat me-”
“Like a dog?” He interrupted before he could think about it.
“Like family!” She snapped angrily. She pushed him away and headed down the dark hall towards her room. Her pounding footsteps matched his angry heartbeats. Even the usual suffocating tightness of the hall did not slow his feet as he continued after her. As soon as she was inside she swung the door.
“And what have I treated you like?” Vincent caught it and with a forceful push sent it slamming into her back wall. Usually, he would've left her to her privacy but he had no patience left and anger rising quicker by the second. She was crying now, tears rolling down her pale flat cheeks.
“Oh, it’s okay for you! Everything's been great for you!” Vincent was taken aback by the sudden subject change.
“What are you talking about?” She laughed again, rolling her eyes to the ceiling.
“As if you didn't know.”
“Angela! What are you talking about?” He couldn't keep up with her thoughts; they were always jumping subjects, quicker than she could change channels. She spun around like a ferocious beast.
“You're Vincent Martinelli! Don't tell me you don't know!” She pushed him roughly. “You're the stupid captain of the swim team! You make perfect grades, you have the perfect looks, everybody loves you!” She pushed him as hard as she could, knocking him off balance but not off his feet. He could only stare, stunned.
Of course he had heard it all before. She had joked how jealous she was of him every once and a while but he never took it to heart. It wasn't much difference from sitting with the swim team and sitting with the band members, they were all just students to him. But that was back then, before the school had changed.
“You watch too much T.V.” said Vincent shaking his head. She always made it seem as though he was someone else, some character in a movie or one of those tween T.V. shows that dates the popular girls and average girls were supposed to only dream about. He was aware that people found him handsome, but it was sometimes hard to see it. He had an average face; short dark hair, small dark eyes, and a goofy, slightly gummy, grin. Nothing to go crazy over. Nothing to be jealous of. Angela continued her rant.
“And I, I was just Vincent's ugly little friend.” His thick brow fell. He had never considered her ugly, since the first day they met in 5th grade. Her weird wheezing laughter had caught his attention from all the way across the room, then her smile and the wrinkles that formed around her nose when she was really amused. He took a step back, staring at her.
“You were never ugly to me.” He felt the heat growing in his cheeks as he admitted in a low voice.
“It doesn't matter.” She retorted. Vincent's shoulder's fell. She didn't catch it, the brief moment was gone, now was not the time to tell her anything, it would be useless. “With them, with Rage, I'm beautiful. I feel, I feel like, like I'm on top of the world.” And as quickly as they had come, her tears were gone. Had she realized that they lost their power over him months ago? “With Rage, I don’t need my picture on magazines, newspapers. I don’t need all those fancy trophies and medals in my room,” her words dripped with spite as she quickly passed over the single blue ribbon pinned to a piece of artwork from elementary. The one he had given her from his own stash.
“And for how long? A few hours then what? You can't sleep-”
“I don't need to sleep.” She sat on her bed turning her face from him. Vincent stared dumbfounded. This was coming from a girl who preferred cat naps to going out to the movies.
“And what about your parents? What about your sister?” If he could remind her of what was important then she could see the harm she was doing.
“They don't know-”
“They do know!” said Vincent more angrily than he intended. “You think they don't see that their daughter is gone all the time, acting differently, hanging out with different students, coming home in the middle of the night?” Angela didn't answer. She kept her eyes focused on her bedpost, following the groves of the wood. She was shutting him out mentally, he had seen her do it before.
“What about me? Do you care about me?” She blinked. “Huh?” She bit her colorless lip.
“Yeah,” said Angela as if ashamed.
“Then don't go back.” She sighed as if their conversation pained her.
“Vincent, it's not that easy.”
“Do you still want to get out? Yes or no?” She shrugged her shoulders irritably.
“Yes or no?” He raised his voice.
“I don't know! Sometimes.”
“Most of the times?” She rolled her eyes. Say yes, say yes. Vincent pleaded in his mind. Because if she did, he'd do everything that he could to help get her out.
“I don't know, I don't want to talk about this,” she said standing to her feet.
“Where are you going?” He asked feeling his body tense.
“Out.” Vincent felt a wave of fear rise in his heart. She was going back to them. After every fight, that's where she went and that was where she would be for days.
“No, you're not.” He stood in front of her. He had never stopped her before, he didn't know why he was doing it now.
“Move, Vincent.” She said exhaustedly, moving to the side. 
“You're not going.” He blocked her again. He was more confident in his voice now. He was finally putting his foot down. If that would be the end of their friendship then so be it, but he was going to do what he could to help her.
“I can go wherever I please! Move!” She shoved him, but he didn’t budge. He wouldn't let her go, not today. He could feel and see the anger building in her eyes like a volcano ready to erupt.
“I said ‘move’.” Her voice deepened into a growl as she stared him down. Her pupils dilated leaving barely enough room to tell that her eyes were pale green, and the smudge of coal black eyeliner beneath her eyes made them look only paler. Her wide face was halfway hidden behind strings of damp bleached hair and her pale cracked lips pulled back in a wolfish snarl. In all the years he had known her, she had never looked at him like that before, like she wanted to dig her nails into his flesh and tear him apart.
“Move, Vincent! What the-!” In an instant she was over his shoulder. “Put me down Vincent! Let me go!” Her small fists attacked his back with punches and scratches. He had to move fast, she was unnaturally strong. He headed down the dark tobacco scented hallways of her house, through the kitchen to the white wooden door that led down to the basement. “Let me go! Vincent!” Her nails clawed his back like a savage cat as he swung the door open and made down into the scarcely lit room. The stench of cigarettes, alcohol, and molding pizza was almost unbearable. Crushed beer cans and multicolored junk food wrappers scattered across the damp carpet floor. He tossed her on the dusty coffee colored sofa and leaped up the steps before her little body finished bouncing. He slammed the door shut and locked it, back stinging as he pressed his body against it, exhausted. Angela's small voice screamed from below.
“VINCENT!” She would be okay, the room was set with a  television and refrigerator, plus her parents would be home in a few hours. “VINCENT!” He remained on the door, thinking things over. A headache was brewing in the corner of his brain, not for what he had just done, but what he was going to do.  She called again. This time was much softer, like a whimpering dog sorry for attacking his owner’s ankles. “Vincent…” He straightened his back, ignoring the stinging itch and went for the door without looking back. The smear of red blood in the center of the white door went completely unnoticed.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

And so it begins

Something's wrong with Blackthorn High, a prestigious school hidden in the mountains for the children of the elite. Obituaries come in by the month, brutal beatings are common, and a sadistic caste system operates the students’ lives. New Muslim student, Nadia Noor, tries to adjust to her new life and keep to herself but someone is determined to drag her in. Can she live with herself not saying anything? If she dares to challenge the system, will she live at all?
For the last two years, Vincent Martinelli, has thought of nothing else than revenge for his stolen life, for the murder of his friends, and for the poisonous Rage that runs his blood. But Mr. Geppetto, the mastermind behind the secret website that regulates Blackthorn High, has always been a step ahead. Vincent’s revenge has waited long enough and the new student just might be his opportunity. But stepping in means returning to the system and the threat of reviving the monster within.