Genesis 

Posted: July 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

       
The beginning is something I’ve always wanted to write about on here. My beginning definitely ties in with my name and for any of you paying attention, my username Ella Charlotte Douglas is my penname. My real name is Charlotte Elizabeth Smith but let me tell you about the origins of my pen name. It isn’t anything to do with the sound of it really-although if we are really keeping track, Ella Douglas sounds so much better. Ella is a nickname for Elizabeth which my parents decided early on to call me until my dad changed his mind and reverted back to my first name Charlotte. He and my two brothers ganged up on my mom still calling me Elizabeth and won! Charlotte, the middle name, is obvious since that’s my given name now and I wanted to put a little piece of what I am now in there. Douglas, the surname of my pen name, was actually going to be my last name. Legally, Smith is but my father was adopted by his stepfather, thus changing his surname (the direct tie to our Scottish ancesters) from Douglas to Smith. Thus, if I had only a slightly different past, my name would have been Charlotte Elizabeth Douglas or going by Elizabeth or Ella Douglas. There you have my origin story, now I will continue with my story. My brother is an amazing writer-both of them actually can write very well. Only the oldest wanted to make something out of it and reading was instilled into me at a very young age. You will often hear me quote or reference Harry Potter for that is the main reason why I wanted to write my own books. I wanted to inspire a generation of children and make them love reading as much as I did as a child. I wanted to rewrite imaginations to remember my vivid stories and reflect on how much they could relate to my character. 

When I was quite a bit younger,  I loved to pace my backyard near the backyard pasture fence and just tell myself stories. It first began with my toy Webkinz then evolving into my Build-A-Bears and then on into remaking my American Girl backgrounds. Over time, I began branching out into ideas developed over a particular book I had read and didn’t quite want to die just yet in my memory. It was infectuous and soon, I had quite a collection of fictional worlds that I was too lazy to type or write up so that I could document them. Perhaps my first book “series” had to be the Winged Goddess series based on some Greek goddess story that I had found in the library earlier that year. My characters were poorly written but my zeal for getting work out there was undiminished for such crappy work. Gradually, that “series” ended and I branched off to medieval worlds based loosely on the Bible’s revelation and my own construction of cast with powers to destroy demons. All in all, that’s still one of my favorite fantasy book ideas and one day, I want to go back and rewrite all of those to fit my original idea of demon hunters and how God kicked all of their butts :) 
My writing and drawing drastically changed with the knowledge of a website called DeviantArt. I could emulate my favorite artist’s style and through the help of another user, had a reality check on what made a real character into a believable person. That and tons of writing and constantly reading help pins from Pinterest and displaying my work for critique to some of my writer friends, most especially one of my oldest friends Chloe, who runs multiple blogs and wrote a guest post for me not long ago. She encouraged me above all others, always wanting to hear every single story and idea or see what sketch I wanted to finish. That among several writing dates with friends kept me accountable and frequent art delves into other genres and types kept me interested and not burnt out. 

 My favorite hobbies include basketball, ballet, wandering around in bookshops, reading, writing, drawing, shopping for clothes, working out, watching movies or shows and eating. I love hanging out with people and observing human behavier at its best and worst and plan on becoming a hair stylist and makeup artist when I get out of cosmetology school in a year. One day, I plan on becoming published and settling down and all that, but for now, I’m going to settle for my final month without some type of schooling as I’m a high school graduate and focus on writing to my heart’s content. I hope to be frequent on here but the posts may get more spread out than they are now. 

  

 My favorite inspiration is usually music or my surroundings. My favorite kind of music is typically soundtracks to other movies or shows of a similar genre as my book. Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings have the best soundtracks, typically because I’m more interesed in medieval fantasy. Whenever I feel the particular need to go somewhere to get into, I mean really get into, writing, I find a hipster little hole in the wall or some cute cafe or Starbucks. Rain is also very soothing, creating a sort of rhythmic hum while I type or scribble. Typewriters are also fascinatig to write on. It almost transports you back into another time. 

  

I love to branch out into different genres and characters to mix it up and change my comfort zone. My favorite is medieval fantasy but little chick flicks are an easy release of some cute ideas and historical fiction is mostly fascinating from the work involved in researching and creating a story within the historical boundries. Murder mysteries are my favorites to read, the twists and trying to figure out the mysteries incredibly intriging and hold to some of my history with my father as we love to watch old murder mysteries like Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, and Columbo. I even had a murder mystery party for my birthday this past year. 

  

And finally, I am a Christian. A born again believer in Christ who believes in the Holy Trinity and that Christ died on the cross for our sins and rose again on the third day. This affects every single thing thing I think and say and do. This affects my writing and my drawing and my speech and my genre and what I decide to support and read.  Being a Christian isn’t a noun or adjective. It’s a verb. I live out being a Christian; it’s not just something to describe me. It’s my way of life. I don’t have life without my Creator and I certainly don’t have any ability to do what I love and write about on here without Him. 
   
   

I’ve done a post about this before and it certainly won’t be the last time I ever touch on this subject, but the real question for writers after they’ve finished their rough drafts and polished their work is this; how do I make it? 

This all inevitably leads to the publication of your work, whether you choose to self-publish or take the long and arduous journey to get published by a real publishing house. My older brother who is a writer was given advice by a woman that had published several books by a publishing company. She said that certain writers have to conform strictly to what the publishing house wants to publish. They had a list of genres and requirements they wanted more of, but that wasn’t entirely what I had in mind for writing. Yes, certain houses have a type of genre they look for, but I didn’t want to write merely so I could get published. I wanted to write to tell a story. Also, she pointed out that it took her ten years to get published by this house. The only author I know to have been published by a house at an early age was Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon, and he had his parents as publishers in the business long before he even thought about writing. 

Now to my point. 

 Is rejection really the end? Do you write after? Is there an afterlife for the writers that didn’t quite make it and still feverishly type away on their keyboards? Rejection can make or break you. It can fuel you to write the best story you’ve ever written and demand to be heard. Or it can crush your spirit and wilt your ego into a mere speck that whispers feebly whenever that burning desire runs through your fingers, thus extinguishing your match long before it was lit. 

Don’t be the soggy, limp, little piece of splintered wood not able to catch a spark. Burn. And burn brightly

 It seems as if my posts get farther and farther apart and shorter and shorter. Ha, oops. I have a lot more free time on my hands without school getting in the way; I’ve been writing like a crazed maniac over the past few weeks whenever I’ve had time. And one of the most notable things that I’ve finally accomplished: my rough draft of my book, The Nightingale’s Crown.

 A friend is helping  me edit as we speak, taking it slow over each paragraph and fixing every little detail. I’m excited for what this will bring which also brings me to my post topic for today-the Finish Line. 

 Are you one of those writers that goes on a high after something inspirational  hits them with a book idea and then starts plotting sporadically the next few chapters only to plunge into it by writing all those chapters and then just falling behind as your interest fades and you begin to realize just how hard it is to complete something? Don’t give up. 

Seriously now. Don’t be the writer who is only spurred on by inspirational bursts and then shuts the book away in some obscure word document never to be touched again until you read a book or watch a movie reminding you of the fact. Be the writer that you want to become. Be the writer who completes the story they’ve set out to tell. 

Get your paper, your Pinterest Storyboards, your real timelines hooked in between the bed posts at the end of your bed, your cork boards decked in little pictures or phrases or plot scenes you want to flesh out and remember. Get out your laptop, your marker board, your notebook and sit in Starbucks, the park, in some cases, by the pool, and just write

  
 It doesn’t have to be good. That’s why it’s a rough draft. It’s okay to make mistakes. I guarantee you that all the other authors have to rewrite just as much as you do. And be bold with it. Don’t dillydaily about having too much to do, not having enough ideas, or any of that nonsense. You can see the Finish Line. Don’t be the kid who can find time to eat fourteen donuts while browsing their phone but complaining about not having time to workout. The same concept applies here. 

Like working out, you must find time. There’s even a movement for this with their own special hashtag: #tenminutewriters

Now stop the whining. Stop the excuses. And just buckle down and do it. 

 I found that carrying a small notebook around with me can easily fix my problem. It can fit easily in my purse and still allow me a place to write my book out undisturbed whenever I want it. Perhaps you head to your doctor or the dentist and you are sitting there waiting for your appointment. 

Get out your mini notebook and write

Maybe you’re picking up your kid from soccer or basketball practice and they run into their coach or friend and they start talking. Instead of impatience, get out your notebook and write

And that’s all I have to say about it. There is a Finish Line and it feels so good to reach it. So get out there and write! 

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Ever heard of accountability partners? The first thing you may think of (if you are a Christian) is an accountability partner for resisting a certain type of sin that you know you struggle with. The second thing you may think of is a workout buddy. You wanted to shed those extra pounds or get toned but you have zero desire to go through with your goal and thus get your friend to pester you until you can’t ignore it any longer. This same idea can apply to writing. Don’t keep yourself at a standstill. Don’t start a book only to leave it for years until you finally get off your butt to do another chapter or two. Keep yourself accountable. It is a good deal harder to let down your friend than it is to make excuses to yourself.

Write until your fingers cramp.

Write until your pen runs out of ink and then go get another pen or pencil.

  Get a partner and keep them on top of you, nagging you and pushing you to try harder when the inspiration just isn’t there.

Change it up with different materials and different writing utensils.

I once had a writer friend tell me that she switched up each time she wrote with a different writing pad. One day, she used a dry erase marker and a white board. Another, she used her notebooks and colored pens and another, she used her ipod to type notes.

Type on your keyboard. Type in Starbucks. Change up your environment. Change up the font that you use. Use a quill and ink. Use parchment. Use a typewriter.

But just write.

And when those fail, your friend won’t. If nothing else, go read your friend’s work. Go read a book in your free time. Listen to music that matches your story and get scribbling. Go on Pinterest and make a story board to get inspiration for the clothes, faces, and environment for the story.  Just get accountability and write.

Xoxo,
Ella

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Social media is one of my favorite distractions. In this day and age, the user is constantly in their phone, whether it’s checking Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, email or some other app. A user roughly checks his phone over 150 times a day. It’s addicting and time consuming when you find something interesting to look at or read. Still think that social media is a bad idea to promote yourself?

     Very recently, I discovered that getting your name out there doesn’t solely rely on you writing a book, reading over it once or twice, fixing little mistakes like spelling or changing a word every now and then, and then sending out to publishers to become famous and solely rely upon them to make you a star. You’ve got to be willing to put in the same time and effort that you painstakingly (and frustratingly) stuck into the making of your glorious masterpiece into getting your name out there.
Publishers want to know if you’ve been seen before. They want to know that you are a good investment. Recently, a friend of mine told me that through Wattpad, she has managed an enormous following of over five million reads on her book, Marriage to An Adult. I never really realized how powerful gaining such a following could entail.

  The next day, I set about setting up a Facebook page for my writing; made a Twitter account to help gain a following; and created a Wattpad to further post snippets of my novels and to let loose the little prose and fluff that I had accumulated over the years. Some of this, I’ve already posted to my DeviantArt page that I’ve kept running for several years. I’ve gained some attention on there as well as become more comfortable with drawing and finding tips on there. During one of my fanfiction prose that I had posted, a person contacted me about getting published in his email chain magazine that he showcases anyone who wants to participate in the pictures, stories, short stories and poetry that grace the digital pages.
     Social media can be used to further the popularity and awareness of your book and self as an author. And, for those of you who draw, it will showcase your talents and hopefully get the attention of other authors looking for a graphic designer for the cover or art inside the book.

    Best of luck to all you lovely people who take time out of their day to read this. Use this infatuation our generation has and post, post, post!

Xoxo,
Ella

Twitter: Ella_C_Douglas

Facebook: Ella Charlotte Douglas (author page)

Wattpad: wattsyourstory

Covers and Artwork

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I do write my own books, my stories, my plots, and do most of my own editing. I have my friends read my books and works and tell me what’s wrong with it on first impression and I’m in the process of editing a novel I wrote a year ago, titled: The Honor Code. It’s about pirates, soldiers, the war between Britain and America and all set on the high seas. But during all of this work and sketches that I’ve drawn, I figure at some point, I need a cover for my books. Very rarely do I use someone else’s pictures for a cover-in fact, I’m not even positive that I have done something like that since I had first begun.
Even if I only placed words on a colored piece of paper, I usually only used something that I had made for the covers. The only book that I have seriously considered publishing, really the only book that I felt like it was worth my time and effort to go through the painstaking editing and re-writing and plot fixing and such, was The Honor Code. During the writing of this book, I wanted to have visuals.
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Pinterest, as well as other medias might I add, has really helped me see the world of my stories or help me gain inspiration to keep writing and keep plodding on. I love to draw and sketch and flesh out my characters. Really the only reason why I began drawing was to gain my own private view of my characters.
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Even if you describe what you are thinking of in your head to anyone else, a friend, another artist, or family, they will only imagine it so closely to your own view of the character. I wanted to show other people what I saw. So I began drawing faces and profiles of my characters. Terrible at first, and even terrible now (although I have improved drastically since the days of flat Stanley), they are still my characters that I’ve wanted to show people. During my writing of The Honor Code, I wanted a visual,or at least, several visuals that I could choose from for the cover. My first thought was of a girl-one of my main characters from the story. Most of the story revolves around her past and what has shaped her to be the person that she is today. But even as I drew her, sketched whatever picture I wanted, it still didn’t convey the right picture that I wanted for the cover. I used Pinterest to find a silhouette of a soldier-the main character of my story is a soldier named Bayard- and thus, my cover began to take shape. I drew his silhouette but it still lacked what it needed to make it fit perfectly within my story. I added a second, lighter gray silhouette of my second main character and it was perfect. With creating your own cover and book art, it is definitely cheaper than hiring any number of amazing artists. You may want other artists to draw your characters and covers, and that is perfectly fine. But if you plan on selling your book and do not want to create more cost for yourself or more hassle if the pictures do not turn out perfectly, you may want to do them yourself. With a cover, you give your readers and fans something visual to latch onto. They remember that far more than they will ever remember a certain flash of words sketched across the top of a page (whatever font you choose to do).
I encourage you to create your own art, or at least experiment with the rough idea of what your characters will look and act like. It can even help with their personality creation if you have a visual of some sassy character with her hip jutted out and her arms crossed over her chest. It’s the little things that can all add up, and I hope this will encourage all of you to further your writing and drawing abilities in your- as my friend, S.G. Baker would say- quest for publishment.

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Xoxo,
Ella

Quirks

Posted: March 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

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Have you ever written or drawn something completely when you weren’t ready but more of on a whim when you happened to find a piece of scratch paper or a Notes app in your phone, and it ended up turning out great? I’ve found that drawing this way (usually during math, may I add :P) or drawing with
some kind of distraction like listening to a tape or story CD or watching a show can help with my focus on the drawing. I personally love messy pencil/pen sketches where I feel as if I can mess up alot and scribble away until it’s roughly the right shape. I’m more pleased with the end result and the overall look of sketches not drawn to perfection than I am with most things that take me hours upon hours to do. I find it more relaxing, and it takes away from the pressure I feel whenever I take to a piece of art. Although I don’t end up with a perfect drawing, I’m usually happier and have had fewer temper tantrums otherwise. ;)

Do you have any drawing or writing quirks that work for you?

Xoxo,
Ella