Think About Independence

Friends,

This week is special in the sense that on Saturday, we will celebrate our nation’s independence and remember all that has happened for us to get to that point. It is a time that we can take to honor those who have fallen to protect our freedoms, a time to consider the beliefs and opinions we have because of those freedoms, and a time to think about what exactly being independent means and the implications that go along with it.

Merriam-Webster defines independence as “freedom from outside control or support” as well as “the time when a country or region gains political freedom from outside control.” It has been 239 years since we declared our independence from Great Britain, and about 232 years since our country gained political freedom with the ending of the American Revolutionary War. Much has happened during the interim, and much more will continue to happen that will shape the identity and history of our nation. Regardless of your beliefs and ideas, your principles and morals, and even your love and hate for certain things – we live in a country that rivals all others in many ways!

Am I using this post to bash other countries? No. I have a fond appreciation for other countries and the much longer, and in some cases bloodier and deeper, histories that constitute them. I spent time traveling to and living in other countries, immersing myself into foreign cultures, and understanding the societies of which I momentarily was a part. If you know me well, then you know that I advocate travel and tapping into the wealth of information and culture and history that forms the makeup of foreign nations. I advocate this because it is important to know where we come from, where others come from, and how the dynamic of our relations work; this is so we can better understand the overall scope of the world in which we live.

So to conclude, I hope that this Saturday you can put aside the issues in your life and think about the independence of our country and what it means to you. It is different for everyone. While cookouts and fireworks are great, it’s not the right way to think about our independence. Please take a moment and really think about it. Put down your hot dog or your beer and understand that you are able to eat that hot dog or drink that beer because of the sacrifice of others. It is something that we shouldn’t take for granted, and something that we should think about more than once every year in July.

Come Saturday, I encourage you to talk with your friends and family about what that day means to you and to them, and to take a moment to give each other a pat on the back, a hug, or even a kiss…because it is something that has true value in this country.

Next week, I’ll return to my normal posting style with regards to my writing projects. I hope this week and weekend prove to be a time of great thought and reflection for you, and that perhaps you may find peace, even for a short time, amidst the chaos of the world.

Until next time,

-Eli

Unguarded: Reflection

Friends,

I hope this post finds you well and on the way to achieving your weekly goals! I wanted to reflect on the experience from beginning to end, as well as inform you of some things, so let’s get down to business.

This past weekend, Unguarded released in print and on the Kindle. It has been a wonderful seven months since beginning the writing process in June. Throughout the early summer, I planned the book in skeleton form, getting the main plot ideas down before moving forward. From June to September, I spent quite a bit of time writing, applying tips and tricks I’d learned along the way. One thing I also tried to incorporate this time around is extending the length of manuscript. This was a common suggestion in the reviews from Resistant, so I wanted to listen to that and act on it.

After completing the first draft, I gave the manuscript to two of my friends. They acted as my beta readers and editors, one of them actually being my editor on the first book. While I awaited their feedback, I contacted my cover designer and got that process moving. Knowing what I wanted this time around, I received the final cover less than a week from when I placed the order for it. If you are interested, check out BookFuel for their author services. Soon after that, my editors/readers each gave me some great feedback, helping me shape my story into the second draft. It was in that draft that much of the story kept its form, remaining that way all the way until publication.

The third and final draft (in terms of major changes to the manuscript) was finished around Thanksgiving. I rested my writing mind during the holidays, which is a good piece of advice for aspiring writers. Taking breaks is not a bad thing! I then read through the third draft two more times before the middle of December arrived, tweaking and amending parts of the story that needed it. The biggest aspect I tried to pay attention to was the dialogue. This has been an ever-changing aspect of writing for me in the sense that I have been putting much effort into trying to make it the best it can be.

I then gave the manuscript to my editor for three weeks (December into January). He sent me really helpful feedback and answered a few questions after I went through his changes. With the manuscript very close to being complete, I did one final read-through. Again, I focused on dialogue, as well as keeping an eye out for grammar and spelling one last time. I finished this item on the checklist the day before I needed to submit the manuscript to Amazon (for the pre-order).

After submitting the formatted ebook manuscript to KDP (.mobi files for Kindle, by the way), I formatted the print document. Createspace provides templates that make formatting easier on the indie publisher. You can check them out here. I wanted to streamline the look of my books, especially those in the Faces of the War collection, so I simply made the formatting for one book and saved the same document as different files for each of the books. This may take you some time, but it will help improve the image of your books, which improves the quality of your brand.

When the time came to submit the print version to Createspace, I did that with much excitement. The next morning, I received an email from Createspace stating they found no formatting errors and that the book’s publication awaited my “O.K.” I gave the final submission through my profile on Createspace on Friday evening of last week. Even though the prompt then said it would take 3-5 business days to process, the book still went live Monday morning. Sometimes is just works out for the better in that way.

Overall, I was very happy with my writing, editing, and publishing experience this time around. Writing has given me such joy, and I hope that the content I distribute does the same for my readers. I am very excited for the possibilities in store for me in 2015, and I can’t wait to get moving on the next project.

One final thing is this: if you are a new or somewhat new writer, and find yourself discouraged or unmotivated, please do not lose heart. All it takes it just to work a little here and a little there to get into a rhythm. And if you’re not feeling the writing vibe at the moment, then do some reading. Anything you can do to stimulate your creative mind will help you out. Don’t ever tell yourself you can’t do something just because it’s 45,000 words away. You can do it!

I hope you will check out my books, especially Unguarded, and tell me what you think in a review!

Until next time,

-Eli