Friday, December 30, 2011

The Secret of Success

"We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another." 
-Luciano de Crescenzo

(Drew this as a makeshift cover for a draft of my book a couple years ago)

We all know that a great deal of hard work and persistence goes into every successful thing but there is something else that I feel is absolutely necessary in order to achieve success and it has everything to do with the quote above. 
What is it? Allow me to make you a list, because I love lists:

1. Help others and you will be helped. 
2. Be kind and you will find kindness. 
3. Be polite and professional and you will be treated with respect by those who matter most. 
4. NEVER forget to say thank you...and mean it.

None of us are islands. Greatness, EPICNESS, is a group effort whether you want to believe it or not. Now go make some friends and play nice.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Gift from Me to You!

     Have you ever wondered why the snow sparkles? 

     It's because of the snow angels. Like snowflakes they drift down from Heaven to kiss the snow and give their light, giving hope in even the darkest winter night. 

     So, I've made a snow angel just for you. I hope it makes your Christmas just a little bit brighter. Feel free to download and use this image to bring a little cheer to you or to someone you love. :D

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Shameless Plug.

I'm using today's blog post as a shameless plug. Yep, no shame. So, use the time you would've spent reading my ramblings to get lost in the incredible macabre artwork and stories within the pages of Underneath the Juniper Tree's winter issue!!! And don't forget to check out my first short story inside, Snow Lady!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Top 10 tips for Finding Inspiration When It's Nowhere to be Found

Muse of Music

I’m a big advocate of not forcing inspiration. When creativity is forced the outcome is usually terrible or unfinished.  
But, sometimes, inspiration has to be forced. The deeper you wander into any professional arena, be it writing, illustration, music, acting, whatever, the more you run up against other people and their deadlines.  So, whether or not you like it, you have to find ways to nudge Inspiration along.  

Here, in no particular order, is how I court the muse:

  1. Stay open  
      Simply be aware of your surroundings, of what that crazy dude a couple tables over is saying to his dog, of how the laundry stacks up when you don’t do it, of how the moon looks like it follows you when you are driving. Just be open! If you do this, you will more easily recognize Inspiration when she quietly creeps in at 3am in the morning. (“And just where have you been?”)

  2. Don’t get frustrated 
      This goes along with number one. I’m going to use this very blog post as an example. All week I was mad at myself, irritated that I hadn’t thought of anything to write about today. I wondered why on Earth I thought I could keep a blog going. Then on Thursday night I stopped being mad because I really needed to think of something, anything. I had a goal, dangit. So, I shook off the negative feelings and let myself be open and I realized with a start that Inspiration was there the whole time, sitting on my couch and filing her perfect nails, just waiting for me to take notice. (Sorry, I like personification).

  3. Do things that usually inspire you
      You alone know what these things are. Wear your lucky socks, dance a jig, go into a trance OR do some of the more traditional things I’ve heard most people list like: listen to music, see a movie, read a book, visit a museum. Try ‘em all if you have to…just don’t wear your stinky, lucky socks around me.

   4. Get out of your own way 
      This tip is in direct conflict with the tip above.  But it works so here it is. Get out of the norm. Take a walk on the wild side. Try something new. You may find something interesting/surprising that you couldn’t have in your usual haunts.

 5. Stay home and think 
      Don’t be afraid to explore in the deepest darkest corners of your mind. This is something I learned since getting involved with the bomb-tastic (Yeah, I said bomb-tastic, what?) children’s macabre lit ezine, Underneath the Juniper Tree.  I had to sit up late one night with most  of the lights off after the fam had gone to bed and dig around in my OWN fears for a solid hour before an idea hit me for a chilling short story. So get a sitter, rent a room, drive out to the middle of nowhere, I don’t care, just find a place without distractions and get lost in the stranger areas of your imagination.
 6. Fake it till you make it
        What is the most common advice for writers? Yep, “Write, write, write!” This isn’t only to help you practice and become better, I think it also helps invite inspiration. When I run into writer’s block my first instinct is to get away from my writing, throw my netbook, stomp around the house, grind my teeth, glare at myself in the mirror.... Then after a couple days I sit back down and stare at the blank screen. I hear, “Write, write, write. Just WRITE!” echoing in my brain and I rest my fingers on the keys. I start typing. I don’t force inspiration, I just allow myself to get some words out until some of them start to make sense. Every single time I do this, within a half hour, inspiration strikes and that writer’s block is nothing more than pebble in my rearview mirror.

 7. Forget about the money 
      I know this is sounds strange but allow me to explain: don’t rely on how big your paycheck will be when you finish to help you get something done. I’m going to go out on a limb and reveal a truth that I think might permeate throughout the entire creative community. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. MONEY ISN’T AN INSPIRATION. Motivation, sure.  But inspiration? Nope. Why? Because inspiration comes from somewhere inside.  Remember why you are doing this in the first place. Because you love it, right? Right? Thinking about the money will probably only remind you of your deadline and stress you out. Just sayin'.
 8. Surround yourself with creative and inspiring people 
      Not only are (most) creatives incredibly supportive but, generally, every word out of their mouths is something interesting/funny/epic/thought provoking…. Because when writers or artists have to speak (i.e. have to stop thinking about whatever they are currently working on) they make it count, probably because they are just used to telling themselves to make every word count…or maybe so they can just get back to creating as quickly as possible. Where do you find creative people? Here’s a mini list: Blogs, local critique groups, online critique groups, school,twitter, facebook, DeviantArt. Feel free add some more in the comments. ;)

 9. Keep your faith 
      Okay, so I know not everyone is religious but plenty of us are, so, at the risk of offending some, I’m just going to say it. Talent is God given. Humbly ask him for help in achieving something and he is sure to listen. Like any loving father, he wants us to succeed both spiritually and temporally.

 10.Don’t give up
       I think this is the number one rule so of course I saved it for last. Remember that you are not alone. The best of writers and artist come across lulls in inspiration so know that you are in good company and don’t let Inspiration get away by giving up on her. If you employ her regularly she will stick around and will probably be a lot quicker to arrive when you call.

Happy creating!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Internet-opolis; Why building a platform is like moving to a new city.

I read a blog post somewhere that compared building a writer's platform to building a house. I really wish I could remember the blogger because I'd link over to the post and give the writer props, it was cool. It made me think and ponder and re-tweet.

Anyway, the blogger mentioned that, like an actual house, your writing platform needs a foundation, walls, and a roof. They used a few cool analogies to house building and for some reason the post really stuck with me. I thought about it for several days until I realized something: I don't know how to build a house! 
That's when Internet-opolis was born...or built...whatever.

An old sketch of the World Wide Web
Your platform is like a city. 
Yeah, I'm throwing the house idea out the window...well, almost. Sure, your platform can be like a house, or an apartment, or swanky city loft with cement furniture but if you wall yourself in how are you going to make friends (my non-scary phrase for networking)? The house anology, though awesome, wasn't quite working for me. Besides, I don't have an architectural degree. 
Your website is your map. 
At least mine is...I hope. It gives basic info about the city I live in and where you can find me. My regular hangouts. 
Your blog is your home.
I've put off making a blog for a long time. I didn't know what kind of theme I wanted and I already had other places like twitter and facebook to hang out but, recently, I've started to feel like a vagabond. Wandering aimlessly around the streets of Ebay, stopping in Papa to see if they had any specials, getting my fix on Pinterest. Then I stumbled across Tumblr which paved the way to Blogger. It is the coolest thing in my virtual life so far.


Because a blog is my own personal place. It's a page all about me. The only reason someone would come to it is to see ME. And, unlike my webpage, it's super easy to update. So, I've finally laid down roots in Internet-opolis and I'm feeling good. *kicks off shoes*
Everything else is city to explore.
I think of Twitter as the mall. A big place with lots of people and stores (links) and lots of quick conversations before moving on to the next thing.  Facebook is more like the local coffee shop. You can sit down and share stuff, take your time. Personally, I like to frequent the local art museum, DeviantArt. Google+ is kind of like the gym, I know I should go more often but I forget. And I recently went into Inkpop a couple times, I don't know if I'll go back. It's like Trump Tower over there, everyone vying for the best position. I don't know if I'm ready for that.

Anyway, the most important thing you need to know is that, just like life in a city, you can find places you like to visit and places you know, from trying them out, to stay away from, and that's totally okay! Just because you make a profile on a page you don't have to stick it out if it's not working for you. Find places you enjoy and start making friends. Then visit often so you don't lose touch.  

<3 Crystal