Writerly Wednesday – Some of the Random stuff I Know About the Victorian and Edwardian Eras

Did you know that

I recently graduated from college and it would be quite the understatement for me to say that I have a lot of feelings to process–nevertheless, we’ll just go with that. One of these emotions is the wonderful feeling of absolute relief. The nature of senior year is that you rush rush rush and then, by the time you settle in enough to breathe and look up at your surroundings, it is completely over. One of the reasons that senior year is so exhausting is the required senior thesis. As an English major, we are required to write a 20-25 page senior thesis. In hindsight, this doesn’t sound too terribly scary since I have written hundreds upon hundreds of pages worth of academic papers.  But, believe me, it is terrifying.

One of these emotions is the wonderful feeling of absolute relief. The nature of senior year is that you rush rush rush and then, by the time you settle in enough to breathe and look up at your surroundings, it is completely over. One of the reasons that senior year is so exhausting is the required senior thesis. As an English major, we are required to write a 20-25 page senior thesis. In hindsight, this doesn’t sound too terribly scary since I have written hundreds upon hundreds of pages worth of academic papers.  But, believe me, it is terrifying.

For my thesis, I chose to study the Neo-Victorian and Steampunk genres. For my own sake (and yours), I will avoid even discussing what my argument was or what the paper itself entailed. Personally, I don’t want to ever think about it again. What I do want to talk about is it all the random things I learned while researching for my thesis. You see, part of my thesis project was writing a novel wherein I represented and combined the two aforementioned genres. In doing so, I learned so much about the Victorian period. Some of which is really weird.

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

The Victorians had arsenic in their wallpaper. The arsenic was apparently used to keep the wallpaper color bright and unfaded. Victorians used to get sick and take small trips to the seaside for their health. After a few days away they would get well (because they weren’t unintentionally killing themselves anymore) and then they would return back to their arsenic infested homes. In one instance, a baby actually died from chewing on a piece of wallpaper.

 

The Victorians used to think that very white bread was healthiest and freshest. Don’t ask me why. Bakers use to add plaster, and other chemicals, to their dough to make it whiter in color. What is worse, is that the millers, use to add the same chemicals to their grain to make it last longer. They could make their product go further if it had some additives in it. Add to that the fact that the baker would then also add in chemicals and you have a pretty terrible health situation.

 

The Victorians used to put radium on things to make them glow.They would have working women paint the faces of watches and clocks so that they would glow in the dark and would be easily seen. This was a new fad in the era. It was more or less the equivalent of the glow in the dark star stickers people stick on the ceiling as kids–except, of course, those aren’t dangerous. The girls painting these clocks would often lick the paint brushes they used so that they could make the bristles stick together in a way that made painting the numbers a little easier. In doing so, these girls unintentionally hurt themselves. They ended up with radium jaw. This is already absolutely terrible, but what is worse is that the factories knew that this was a risk and did not tell anyone! Ah! Instead, when their workers began getting ill, they spread rumors that the girls had sexually transmitted diseases. Pretty terrible if you ask me. 

It is absolutely terrifying how much stuff these people were using that they shouldn’t have been. It definitely makes you reconsider what we use in our daily lives. Anyway, this isn’t really a typical Writerly Wednesday. I thought it was some interesting things that I learned while researching for my last novel and thought I’d share.

 

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.

Writerly Wednesday – The Writer’s Notebook

A writer’s notebook is STEP ONE of my writing process.

Throughout my college writing career, I was encouraged (forced really) to use a writer’s notebook. I seriously hated the cheap composition notebooks we were supposed to use for the class. They never held up for me. I tend to be a bit heavy handed, a trait I get completely from my dad, and so I quickly found that the seventy-five cent notebooks weren’t lasting the way a good writer’s notebook should. I tried using them but quickly found that I wouldn’t use it if it didn’t feel right, which they never did. The pages were too thin, too large, to standard student for me to feel creative when using it. I needed something that sang to my writer soul. So I did what every good writer does–

I went to Target.

I’m almost certain that I went to the store toIMG_5484 buy something completely different, but, as tends to happen in Target, I left with more than I came for. I bought my first every designated writer’s notebook. It was last July and I was about to start a new project. Every time I start a new book I decide on one new thing to focus on about my writing. Description. Characterization. Dialogue. Scene shifts. Writing action. — All of these are things I’ve focused on in the past for certain projects. For this book, Not Enough Soul, I wanted to work on novel planning and teach myself to work on both a deadline and a mapped plot. I started with a notebook and I have never looked back. 

In the past my writing professor, Dr. Davis, always had us keep a notebook per writing class. In this notebook, we compiled all of our notes, drafts, and thoughts about whatever it was we were writing. For instance, our poetry notebook contained our ten required poems, as well as drafts and notes on the creative process.

I always struggled with genuinely doing that because I felt like my best work was done electronically, not on the page. I liked the crisp, clean Word Document. I could backspace and quickly fix mistakes without needing to mess up a page or rewrite the work completely.

The downside to this is that you can’t really see the process of getting to the end piece. You can “track your changes” using computer technology, but it still isn’t quite the same as seeing your mistakes and progressively how you fixed them–or learned to avoid them altogether. There is just something nice about being able to see your growth as a writer visually, which is definitely one of the main pros of a writer’s notebook.

It didn’t take me long to realize that I really needed a notebook. Sometimes your don’t realize how much you were missing something until you have it. I wrote seven of my IMG_5485almost ten novels without using a notebook. Five of those books are The Kayla Chronicles. The difference in how I handled writing the last of The Kayla Chronicles books, Throne Over, and how I wrote Not Enough Soul, is ridiculous.  It is honestly a little embarrassing how little planning and organization I had for those five books, especially when it is considered that they are fantasy and required quite a bit of world-building (a lot of which I didn’t even bother to do because I just didn’t know how).

Oh man, was I inexperienced and stupid! But, it is okay. Let me help you.

I write everything in my notebook. It goes where I go. I have a small purple bag of pens and pencils and it goes with me everywhere as well. I take notes constantly. The notebook usually starts out with a list of known characters, their ages and perhaps a description. I then work out the relationship between each character on that list. Are there nicknames that only certain characters can call each other? For instance, in

For instance, in Not Enough Soul, one of my characters, Charlie, is the only person who calls his sister by the pet name, Haddie. Everyone else calls her by her actual name, which is Hadley. This is in the notes, which in turn assists me in remaining consistent. It also can help with smaller details such as spelling. In the first Kayla Chronicles book, Astridia, there is a character named, Aiden. I wasn’t using a notebook when I wrote this novel and there are numerous places where I spelled his name “Aidan” or “Aedin” because I couldn’t remember and didn’t have it written down. He was a minor character and I just didn’t think to keep up with it. Things like that go away when it is written down for future reference. Details like who is tallest in a group, what color eyes someone has, and whether or not a side character has siblings is important, even if it doesn’t seem that way.

There is no such thing as an unimportant character otherwise they would not be in the book at all. Every person that is added to a story serves some sort of purpose, even if that purpose is small. Readers want to feel connected to every single character you mention. If they are meant to remember them, give them reasons why they should. If you can’t even remember their hometown then why would anyone else bother to? I’m preaching to the choir here (Listen to yourself, Brianna. You hear this? Pay attention). Every character needs something that makes them real.

I was taught that vague details make for vague stories. Be specific about who your characters are. What do they want? What will happen if they don’t get it? Who do they love most? Why? Who is their best friend? What do they typically eat for breakfast?Breathe air into their paper lungs and turn them into people with lives.

My best friend, Kayleigh, was living her own life before we met and she didn’t stop living it when I showed up. We became friends and our individual lives intertwined and overlapped, but she didn’t story being herself. Everyone is the star of their own story. Side characters don’t realize that they are side-characters. They are really just living their lives alongside your protagonist.

A writer’s notebook makes this possible. It gives a writer the space to create more than just 200 pages worth of story. I treasure the notebooks that I have because they are the deleted scenes of my story. They contain everything that did happen, should have happened, might have happened and perhaps will happen, in the story. It contains all the details that I am far too scattered brained to remember.

So much of my writing journey thus far has been me teaching myself. I watch youtube videos, read self-help books, follow blogs, spend every free second writing and trying to improve my writing. I am constantly learning. I am nowhere near the writer I want to one day be, but I take a step closer to it every time I write.

In general, having a writer’s notebook has taught me that my first seven books are good, but could have been great with a notebook. I could have gotten to my destination faster if I’d been wise enough to bring along a map. This time around I plan to.

I’m currently in the planning process to rewrite the first book in The Kayla Chronicles, Astridia. I intend to blog quite a bit about the process since I’ll be doing things differently and I’ve learned so much about myself as a writer since I wrote that book in 2014.

 

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.

Writerly Wednesday – Writer’s Laziness

Writer’s Block: a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece.

– Webster

I’m probably going to jinx myself by saying this, but…I’ve never had writer’s block. I’ve never really struggled to decide what to do next with a plot. Usually, I have a general idea of where I’m going and I’ll either follow my outline (if I have one) or I’ll pants my way through it and hope for the best. I’ve just never had a moment where I had to pause for a long period of time and decide what to do, pausing so long that I physically could not write. Now, this is not to say I don’t struggle, because I am an annual pass holder for the writing struggle bus, but I don’t really find problems in the writer’s block area. .

I do, however, have issues with what I like to call Writer’s Laziness. I’m a college student and I get really tired really often. I got to class, to work, back to class, back to work and by the time I get back to my room it is often really late at night and I have other things to work on. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I will work through this by writing my novel during any and all breaks, even in the back of some of my less-interesting classes. But sometimes I can’t even manage that. I don’t have the energy to be creative. I’m exhausted. I want to Netflix or nap during my breaks, not write. And this is totally laziness on my part. I know it is. I dread writing, even when I am at an exciting part of my novel- I just don’t care. I’m too drained.

I’ve experienced this (am currently experiencing this) with the creative piece I am writing for my senior thesis. My academic project is on Neo-Victorian and Steampunk literatures. I am doing a genre study and comparing the two types to decide if they are overall compatible with one another- I believe they are. And now I am using the last four years worth of writing knowledge to create a piece that represents my beliefs. I’m writing a novel. This novel has been a ton of work. Fun. But work. I’ve never written anything even slightly historical and for this novel, I am settled snuggly in 1882. Working on this and working on a twenty-page academic paper has been draining. I was writing the creative piece a few thousand words at a time and then I just got overwhelmed with the academic part of the paper and had to switch my attention over to it. I wrote sixteen pages of the academic piece in one day and sent it off to my thesis mentor to be read.

Then I told myself I deserved a break.

This was something I shouldn’t have done and now I know it. You see, once I get a taste of what not writing is like (the tv shows, the naps, the video games, the books…) I find it really difficult to go back. I’ve found myself sucked into the void of regular college life and I am loathed to return to my former writerly duties. I don’t want you to think I don’t love writing because I totally do. I am my happiest when I am knee deep in unfinished novel…but I am so tired. And everyone keeps telling me to take a break, breathe, forget about it for a little while- but I can’t. That only makes it worse.

I have writer’s laziness. 

At this point, I think the block might be easier to deal with.

I need to push through this.

But I can’t be alone right? There are others out there. Other people have to suffer from Writer’s Laziness too. Whose with me?!

So here, let me share some of my coping mechanisms for writer’s laziness:

  • Lock yourself in a room and write.
  • Reward yourself for writing. I usually buy myself a bag om peanut M&Ms and I let myself have one M&M per page I write. Or you could use bathroom breaks as an incentive. Don’t act like you’ve never done that! Every writer knows what it’s like to be mid thought and need to pee. Keep trekking on and when you’ve hit your goal go to the bathroom.
  • Challenge yourself. Give yourself a word goal or a page number you have to reach and push until you do. I’d suggest making this a daily thing, versus an overall project number. So something like “1,000 words today” or “5 pages today.” I love a good challenge.
  • Take dance breaks. You heard me. Dance it out. Every five pages get your groove on. I don’t really do this myself, but I have friends in college who do. Get the wiggles out, bounce around. Sometimes you can run yourself dry by just sitting at your desk for too long. Which brings me to my next point…
  • Go somewhere new to write. This doesn’t work for everyone, but if it works for you then it is a really great way to revitalize yourself and your writing. For me, writing in a new space is hit or miss. I either write 10,000 words or I may tap out a lousy sentence. But it can be good for the writerly soul. Go to a coffee shop, sip a latte and try to view your writing in a new light.
  • Give yourself a deadline. This goes hand in hand with the challenge one, but I sort of see them differently. For me, a challenge is a personal thing. It’s just a goal. A deadline means that you have to do it. It’s solid. Something terrible will happen if you don’t. Insert your own terrible deadline missing punishment here_________. Anyway, I usually use deadlines with beta readers. I’ll tell myself that I have to have however many chapters done and in dropbox for my dad to read by midnight this upcoming Saturday. This doesn’t always work, but I tell myself that it has to be done. If you haven’t figured it out already, I thrive under pressure.
  • NaNoWriMo – So this isn’t always running, but when it is you should be doing it. I love NaNo and have written the first draft of at least have of my novels through their camps and other events. For those of you unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is in November. In that month you are given the challenge, if you chose to accept it, to write 50,000 words in a month. Now, this isn’t a full novel but it is a great start. And sometimes you need a little nudge to get your crap done. NaNo isn’t just in November, they have what they call Camps that run in April and in July. Overall, it’s a really fun challenge and you can get some pretty nice goodies it you win. Try it.

 

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LOOK IT’S MY CAT.

 

Anyway, those are my tips and tricks for beating Writer’s Laziness. They may also work with Writer’s Block, but I wouldn’t know. I’m just lazy. But the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. I suppose I’ll give my own advice a try and see if I can kick butt on this novel for thesis. Wish me luck.

 

What are your tips for killing Writer’s Block/Writer’s Laziness? 

 

 

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.

5 Reasons Why You Should Be An English Major – With Star Wars

We love what we do. I don’t know that the history or science majors dislike what they do necessarily, but you never really hear them trying to recruit other undecideds to join their group. In the English department, and I can only speak of mine, we are an inclusive bunch. You don’t know what you want to do with your life? Oh, you should be an English major! You aren’t sure about that business degree? Oh, be an English major! You have a cold? Be an ENGLISH MAJOR! We want everyone to get to experience the wonderful classes and literature that we have over the last four years.

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We have the best class discussions. Although the topic may be Science-FictionLiterature we are constantly on the lookout for plot ideas and they come to us in waves. We joke about “what if” and spout plot twists without thought. We can turn any conversation into a genre conversation. We have deep feelings about Hamilton and Harry Potter. We are not afraid to color outside the lines, letting our class discussions go where they will in an effort to figure out exactly how we feel about a text.  Every discussion can and probably will reference something from Star Wars.

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We have the best people. My peers, even my teachers, are going places. Sometimes I sit in class and listen to my fellow English majors talk about their projects and I just know I’m in the presence of a future best-selling author. That’s so cool. Looking at your classmates for not just who they are now, but who they will be in ten years. I’m not sure any other major, aside from perhaps theater, really puts you in a situation where you feel that way. As an Engish major, you are constantly on the brink, or perhaps sitting next to, greatness.

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We aren’t competitive. Okay, so again, I can only speak of GWU, but I know our department is this way. We are always in support of each other’s writing career. We want our friends to do well, there is enough space on the world’s bookshelf for all of us. We follow each other on social media, talk easily and freely about our writing projects, get equally uncomfortable when we have to workshop with one another and celebrate each other’s successes. The only thing we compete over is who can make the wittiest comment.

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We are all weird together. We can laugh about dragons and witches and faeries. Plots and ideas are always taken seriously. Harry Potter is everyone’s favorite book series and if it isn’t it soon will be. We all have our own favorite author and we fangirl/boy over them constantly. We get overly excited when we find out that other people have read and love the same series as we do. We all equally love and hate workshop. We watch the same TV shows, play the same video games, critique the same movies and over analyze absolutely everything in between. We all have the same dream, we will just accomplish it in creatively different ways.

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.

Writerly Wednesday – Instagram Captions

This is about to be motivational so buckle up kids!

 

If it isn’t fiction, it isn’t for me – that has been my writing mantra for so very long. I can sit at my laptop and type type type away for hours on a piece of prose, but ask me to caption something for Instagram and I’m finished.

I can’t.

I freeze up.

I don’t know if any of you have seen my Instagram account…it’s sad. The pictures aren’t really sad. They’re nice and pretty, but I’m terrible at coming up with things to say about what I’ve taken a picture of. I mean, let’s be real, sometimes we have a pretty fiiinnnne selfie or we have a damn good picture of leaf and we just want to post it…but what do you say? I’ve never been one of those people who can post a selfie and caption it with a Bible verse. It just seems odd to me. It’s not that I don’t love the Bible, it’s just that it’s always appeared a tad bit odd to me that we would slap a verse on something that is more or less vain. We are literally just posting a picture say, “Hey, look how cute I am. Also, Jesus.” I’m sure I’m guilty of this somewhere along the line. It’s easy to do, but as a writer shouldn’t I be better at this? Shouldn’t I have something witty, poetic, or overall profound to say about my average looking, nice lighting, interesting angle photo of a leaf?

Yes. I suppose I should.

This is the moment where this blog post can head one of two ways, I can either bash myself and fall into a spiraling pit of writerly dispair or I can fix my makeup, stand a bit straighter and get over it. And, as fun as the first choice sounds, I should be mature about this. I shall pout another day. Today is about me, and others like me (insert your name here), realizing that our worth as a writer does not exist on social media.

Okay, I get that I am telling you this on a blog so I somewhat just canceled myself out, but I need you to use your fantastic imagination and pretend that I am sitting across from you, sipping coffee and giving you a pep talk. Help me, help you. Let me, help me.

I’m preaching to the writer choir when I say:

YOU WILL NOT BE THE BEST WRITER AT EVERYTHING. I know, shocker! I’m just gonna pause for a second and let you think about that.

Done? Any tears?

I hope not. I hope that isn’t a surprise to you. It isn’t to me, but I sometimes appreciate the reminder. And boy, do I get reminded of it! Every single day in poetry class I am reminded that I am most certainly not the best poet. I don’t get it. It seems like work to me and I hate that. I like when words come naturally. When they flow. Poetry does not do that for me- but it does it for other people. There are people in my poetry class who are really good at what they do and I low key envy them. And that’s good. It’s a warm and tingly sort of envy, the sort of envy that tells you that your peers are off to big places.

Just because they are headed to big places doesn’t mean you aren’t too. Just means you’re going different big places. Or you’ve missed the big places bus and you have to wait to catch another one. Either way, as writers we will not be the best at every single thing. There are some people who are great at writing captions for Instagram photos. They just say everything they want to say and make it seem so flawless and lovely. I AM NOT THAT PERSON. I will probably caption my Instagram photo, “Me with my dog” before I will ever come up with something sparkling and well versed.

img_4033Also, sidenote, look at how cute my dog is!

Anyway…

I may not be the best poet or the best Insta captioner or the best blogger, but I can write a book. And an okay short story. And I can bake some pretty sassy chocolate chip cookies if I do say so myself…and I do.

You see, we all have our own talents. If you struggle with something as a writer and you don’t want to ride the struggle bus anymore- GET OFF. Work on it. Practice makes perfect, or at least it makes practiced. If something bothers us enough, we will work on it.

We are worth more than a caption on a semi-artsy picture of a leaf. We are writers. We write. Plain and simple. That doesn’t alway mean having the right words or the exact phrase or the sweetest rhyme. Sometimes being a writer is stumbling around until you hit gold. Sometimes, being a writer is just filling a blank page with words.

And that’s just fine. In fact, it’s better than fine. It’s how things are meant to be.

Here’s to all my poetic picture captioners. 

Here’s to all my “me and my dog” people. 

Here’s to all my selfie and Jesus humans. 

You do you.

We all have different words inside of us. Be a writer. Write. 

And now some words from Yoda, because he always says it best:

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.

Writerly Wednesday – Why I Chose Not To Self-Publish

Let me preface this by saying: I loved working with my editor, my cover designer, and Reedsy. The experience was flawless. This is just about me as a writer… 

This past June I received a random email about a website called Reedsy. It was completely out of the blue. I still have no idea how they got my email-I sort of like the idea of it being fate. Anyway, I received an email from Reedsy explaining that they knew I was a writer and wanted to offer their editing, publishing, overall wonderful services to me. I was skeptical. I visited the website, it was colorful and organized looking. They offer editing services of all kinds as well as graphic design and layout offers. Turns out Reedsy is a network of freelance, supposedly qualified, resume flashing professionals offering to help indie writers become the best they can be. Still skeptical, I did my traditional “Is ______ a scam” Google search and came back with really nice reviews.

Okay, so it wasn’t a scam. Even so, I’m a broke girl living in a lonely world, so I brushed it off. But I kept thinking back to it.

Told myself to forget about it and move on with my life. A few days went by, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’d been writing on and off for a while, but I mostly felt stuck. I’d written novel after novel, continuously beating my own time frame and exceeding my word count goals, but it wasn’t really enough. Being just a writer wasn’t enough. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy just writing, but I knew that I eventually needed to stop and try to push something into the publishing world. I couldn’t just keep writing novels because with every new one I became further from Astridia- which was/is the novel I want to try to publish first. The more I thought about my writing career, the more I knew that I needed to take a leap of faith and do something to benefit myself.

I told my dad about Reedsy.

He is my writing soundboard and I knew that if I approached him with Reedsy he would either talk me down or encourage me to pursue it. I also knew that if he encouraged me to pursue it, that I would. His faith in my work and in me is a magical thing. If he told me I could do it, I might actually be able to move mountains. He was excited about it and thought it was a great idea and so I seriously began looking into using their services.

Because Reedsy is made up of freelancers, all the prices are individual and tapered to your specific project. I had to submit a brief, which is pretty much a summary of your novel, a list of your characters, your genre, your budget, your time frame and your desired services. One you have a brief, you can send it out, five freelancers at a time, and receive price quotes. I knew that I didn’t have a ton of money to spend on this (again, broke girl in a lonely world), but I wasn’t really taking it too seriously at that point. I sent out my brief and waited. a few days later I received an email from one of the editors that I’d chosen, a fantastic editor named Nicole Ayers. She let me know right away that she was going to be busy over the weekend but that she’d get right back to me with a quote as soon as she was able. I knew as soon as she sent me that message that I wanted to work with her. She was friendly and her message took all the tension and uncertainty right out of the experience. I told my dad that I really liked Nicole and that I wouldn’t make any decisions until she got back to me. A few more quotes and messages came in, but I was already pretty sure what I wanted. When Nicole offered to do both sets of edits for me, both copyediting and proofreading, I knew I wanted to work with her. The experience was really new and I wasn’t interested in having to brief another editor, I was satisfied with her doing both rounds. Since I am, as we’ve clarified, very broke, I couldn’t afford her price on my own. BUT, I have the best grandparents in the world and they offered to help me since they know writing is what I want for my future. With my grandparent’s help, I was able to schedule my editing sessions in advance with Nicole for October.

Next on my “let me see if I can self-publish journey” I began looking for graphic designers. I searched and searched, finding that a lot of the artists specialized in drawings or paintings. Since I adore pictures, I wanted something photography based. Finally, I found someone I really liked, Rachel Lawston. I recognized quite a few of the people she’d worked on covers for and I thought her art was fantastic. As is the custom with Reedsy, I briefed and waited. She got back to me and offered me a really great price- I was sold. I accepted right away. I’ll never forget riding in the car with my mom on the way to work and receiving the email with her price, I was already so interested in working with her that I was on cloud nine when I found out I really could.

Fast forward to October 1, 2016 – I send my novel Astridia to Nicole for first round editing. She kept it and worked on those edits until the 20th. She was FANTASTIC. She was willing to work around me, understanding that I would have a week of free time in late October for my fall break and arranging her editing schedule so that I could make first round revisions during my off time. She was great. Serious, go hire her.

October 1st was also my start date for the cover with Rachel- Also the best. She sent me a form and I filled it out, telling her my preferences for cover, size, publishing company and other small details like color and feel. Then the waiting began.

About a week and a half later I received a few different cover choices. Although they were beautiful, I wasn’t in love. Another few days passed and Rachel struck gold. She sent the cover I chose and a few other choices. I automatically knew which one I liked, but I wanted input from other people so I sent some text messages asking for votes. I’ll include those pictures here:

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Almost everyone chose the one I did, so I let Rachel know. She went to work, changing a few small details. Initially, I wasn’t sure about the fingernail polish so she was awesome enough to remove it. Once it was gone, I missed it- so it stayed. This is our finished product.

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My name has never been so big on anything. Ahhhh! I love it. I can’t say it enough. So pretty. So cool. PERFECT!

Rachel was fantastic and has remained really involved even after the cover was finished. Couldn’t have asked for a better cover designer, I was blessed!

Nicole continued to work on editing the novel. I revised what she sent me and then returned it to her for second round proofreading. I received the clean manuscript on the 21st of November, just two days before my 22nd birthday.

I’m pretty sure I was working with the best two ladies in the business, just saying.

Anyway, while all this was happening, I was shooting for a December 15, 2016 launch date. I was planning to put the book on amazon and see what happened. Try to promote and sell it myself. I figured that if it were to get enough traction then I could use those sale numbers when querying agents. I WAS WRONG. What I didn’t know was that if your book has been published, even self-published, it is really hard to get representation. Literary agents don’t want it. They want pure, unseen content. I found this out a little late in the game and I was seriously sad to have to call off my self-publishing venture. I wanted to self-publish, I wanted to give Astridia a shot. BUT, I needed to give her a fair shot. I needed to query agents first, everyone seemed to agree. Even Google, whom I trust. 🙂

So I didn’t self-publish and I don’t plan to. It isn’t that I think I’m too good for it because I’m not. It’s just that I think I’m too early in the game to self-publish without first trying to do traditional publishing. My dream is to be a published author, Barnes & Noble-style. Much to my own dismay, self-publishing won’t really get me there. Plus, I’m not sure Astridia is ready– but that is a separate post in and of itself.

I say (write) all of this to say that I wouldn’t change a thing. I loved my experience with everyone on Reedsy, it was fantastic. They were fantastic. Truely, ten out of ten, would recommend. I learned so much about myself and about my book through this experience. It wasn’t wasted time or money, it was such a fantastic learning experience. I wish all of the creative writing emphasis people at GWU could have the opportunity to have a graphic designer bring their book to life. Or have a talented editor shape their book into a better product. We should seriously consider teaming up with the graphic design people in communications and see if they would work with the novel writing people. It would be great. It was an adventure I wouldn’t trade, or do differently, for anything in the world.

 

Just thought I’d share about my own experience and tell other writers about Reedsy. I am not paid or sponsored by them or by either of the two lovely ladies that I mentioned, I just really enjoyed my experience working with them and wanted to talk about it. 

 

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.