Tuesday, November 28, 2006


A friend of mine made a post elsewhere asking what others do to relieve stress. Here's my answer to his question --

I think the first step towards dealing with stress is accepting its reality and accepting the knowledge that it will grow the older you get and the more responsibilities and freedom you get. The same applies when particularly stressful times arise. For example this next 12 months for us is going to be a time of very high stress and nearly zero 'play time'. We have to accept that and realize that once the goals get met then the stress will start to ebb and time will free up for a bit. Without that acceptance the time of stress seems like an infinite black hole and that only compounds the stress.

I used to write to de-stress. Although I still love writing and couldn't live without doing it...once you add in those deadlines and it becomes a career instead of relaxation or 'experiment' time the ball game changes. Writing still works, to a limited degree, to vent -- particularly the articles I write for the blogs. Or those wonderful, choice moments when the story is flowing so well and it's so vivid that deadlines, commitments and marketing fade to nothingness.

Another thing that works well for me with stress is using that negative energy like I use the negative energy of anger -- aim it at positive goals. I ran into 3 really mean book store owners last week that were so rude they left me staring at the phone with that "wow. When's the last time they had a BM?" look. It took my stress level from already high to sky rocketing. I had to be in this area at this particular time and all the owners were treating me like some form of flesh eating bacteria. I turned the stress into anger and aimed it at the problem. Researched the area more found other stores, fired my proposals at them and landed 3 more signings. To the other peeps I say... :foff

If the stress comes from lack of time I find that stepping back from activities helps. Cut out any unnecessary things to free up time to work on what you need done. Trips are nice. Gaming is nice. Hanging out is nice. Visiting is nice. Partying is nice. Goofing off is nice. Playing games is nice. But if they aren't necessary to your goal then cut them for a while and see how much time that frees up for you to accomplish your goal. Once your goal is met and the stress is off then pick them back up as seen fit.

Sometimes all that's needed is a bit of blow off time. This is usually the case when you've been working on something for so long your brain is mush, you feel like the blob and you can't decipher the ground from the sky. In those cases I set up a limited amount of time to just 'blow off'. This is time you just wantonly waste on brainless movies, video games or whatever it is you want to do. But do note the 'limited'. The idea is to blow off enough stress and relax enough to get back to obtaining your goal. Any more than that and you can go backwards in your goal which again compounds stress. As well as guilt for not getting done what was needed or promised.

Anyway, those are the primary modes I use to destress and get back on track. And using them helps to keep me from being a danger to others :D

About the Author -

Raven Bower is the author of the upcoming Horror novel, Apparitions (ArcheBooks April 2007)

Apparitions Blog

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Take a few moments out of the hectic Holiday rush to give thanks for all your blessings. It's what Thanksgiving is about!

I think my dentist has a fabulous idea too. Instead of promising yourself you won't stuff yourself this holiday season...just admit that it'll happen and have fun! Eat and enjoy! It's better than feeling down on yourself or guilty about the fun and good times you had.

Just increase your activity for the next month by a few minutes a day and your body will never know you splurged.

About the author -

Raven Bower
is the author of the upcoming horror novel, Apparitions (ArcheBooks March 2007)

Apparitions Blog

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

'Finding' Time to Write

I don't think any writer finds the time to write. They make it.

Life is filled with choices -- large and small -- and it is our choices that determine what we're able to do. Throughout my time writing Apparitions there were countless other distractions I could have occupied myself with. I chose not to.

I don't watch T.V so that is never an issue for me. I have a great fondness for movies though and will watch them by the dozens if allowed to. Since most people won't reign you in, you have to do it yourself. So unless I'm in-between projects (which hasn't happened in almost 2 years) I set aside Friday nights as my movie night. That's the only time I watch anything.

There are many things I've given up that I enjoy in order to dedicate myself to a career in writing while juggling hubby, kids, hell hound time, fitness, family, community and social obligations. As hard as it is to say 'no' to the desire to wonk out on Age of Wonders or watch the newest horror film that's hit the stands…I don't regret any of it.

To me the sacrifice is well worth it. The question I would pose to potential writers that ask the 'How do you find time to write' question is -- what is it worth to you?

If writing is a high priority then cut everything that you don't absolutely have to do and use the time that frees up to write. If you can't do that then writing isn't really that important to you and that's ok. It doesn't have to be. Just work with the hours you can manage to eek in between everything else. Just don't complain about it…because you could change it if you wanted to.

About the author -

Raven Bower is the author of the upcoming horror novel, Apparitions (ArcheBooks March 2007)

Apparitions Blog

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Where Do Fiction Ideas Come From?


The old saying that a writer is always working is true. A writer is never truly off the clock. We're notorious people watchers -- constantly gathering information (mostly without even realizing it) for future characters. So whenever we're around other people be it at a party or sitting in a restaurant details are being stored away on notepad or brain. These details are anything from an interesting eye color to a particular way a person holds their fork to a strange pattern of speech. Anything and everything.

That is one of a writer's most valuable tools -- observation.

Eavesdropping, intentionally or not, often brings about very interesting subplots or twists. I gleaned one twist for the sequel to Apparitions -- Windigo -- (also a horror / suspense novel) by overhearing a snippet of a rant. I wasn't intentionally listening but managed to walk by at the right time to hear just enough to make a nice 'what if'.

Some writers get ideas from newspapers. Personally I never read the things unless an article title hits me in the face and I can't resist.

Glancing through magazines at doctor's or dentist's offices. These are a treasure trove of character ideas, stories or histories. Sometimes stories.

Catalogs -- yes, believe it or not. I'm going to leave the piece of jewelry I saw a mystery, as I'm using it as a basis for a future plot. But, I will say I got a nice nugget for a plot from browsing through a catalog and finding a neat piece of jewelry…to which the 'What If' engine started churning.

Dreams. I had a vivid nightmare last night actually that will go into my book of Notions to be hammered into a plot. Though it disturbed my sleep and hubby's (he heard me and woke me up) I think it was worth it. I get a lot of my plots and subplots this way, usually for my horror stories.

General observations. This one is in a tie with dreams as a plot source. Driving or walking along in life often brings about the most astounding 'What Ifs'. Anything from an eerie looking tree to a strange house to a paper floating aimlessly. Anything can cause that germ of an idea to sprout.

In the end all of it comes down to an open mind, observation and the willingness to let your mind play with the mundane and concoct new and strange tales.

About the author -

Raven Bower is the author of the upcoming horror / suspense novel, Apparitions (ArcheBooks March 2007)

Apparitions Blog

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Dispelling The Myths

Myth: "Once I sell a book I'll have it made…money will just roll in!"

Truth: I get this attitude from people a lot. A woman contacted me this past week asking me questions on publishing. She had this idea (a good one) for a non-fiction series but she'd made all her plans based on the first one gaining her enough money for her husband to quit work and them and their family travel around the US in a brand new RV. Mind you, she also expected this windfall to happen right now and huffed about the time it took publishers to go through manuscripts and time from acceptance to print.

Anyway, this woman fell under the common misconception that simply writing a novel and getting it published is cause for millions of dollars of royalties to flow your way. I can understand where they get this idea -- Hollywood promotes it and there are those 'over night' wonders that manage to hit on the right idea at the right time and make it big. But remember, Hollywood films are fiction just like any horror story (only scarier in how they function…) and while becoming an overnight success is possible, banking on it is like putting stock in winning 30 million in the next lottery game. More than a little unrealistic.

Here are the facts --

As a new author very few people, if anyone, will know your name. Therefore there aren't going to be swarms of people clamoring for stores to carry your book.

Booksellers are in business for themselves -- that is to make a profit. They will only carry titles that they feel certain will sell and thus give them that profit.

That taken into account and given that the average bookstore has limited shelf space and hundreds of thousands of titles to choose from -- take your own guess at how likely it is they'll order a book from an author they know nothing of when they can have almost guaranteed sales by stocking the 'big names'.

Given the stats that only 2% of titles sell over 5,000 copies and your average royalty is 5%…I think you'll see how this idea of publishing a book equating to instant millionaire is way off.

Don't get me wrong, a writer should want to make a profit, as much as they can in fact, just like any other professional. However, if you're writing ONLY for the money thinking that it's an easy buck -- go try something else. Play the stocks, play the lottery and you'll have better chances with a lot less work.

About the author -

Raven Bower is the author of the upcoming horror / suspense novel, Apparitions (ArcheBooks March 2007)

Apparitions Blog

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