Posts Tagged With: advice

How To Re-Watch Your Favorite TV Show

Friday is How To day, and today we’re tackling the topic of re-watching favorite TV shows!

Now, you might say this is the sort of topic that doesn’t require a How To. And you’d be right. Unfortunately for you, I’m the one writing this post, so I have all the power! AHAHAHAHA!

Right. It’s been a weird day. Moving on.

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How To Re-Watch Your Favorite TV Show

  1. Figure out what your favorite TV show is. If you can’t choose just one, there’s an easy solution. Grab a bunch of your friends and have them line up and write the name of a TV show you like on their shirt. From there, grab a paintball gun and let loose. The first person to break ranks and attack you is the winner!
  2. Acquire said show. DVD, Netflix, borrow it from the library, whatever. Just make sure you don’t pirate it. As that anti-piracy ad from the early 2000s famously said, “You wouldn’t download a car!” Except that anyone in their right mind would definitely download a car if they could, because you’d be stupid not to. So forget that ad. Just try to get your hands on the show without getting arrested. I believe in you!
  3. Create a distraction-free viewing space. This one is tricky. You’re going to be binge-watching this shizzle for at least a full two days, maybe three, so you need to make sure no one and no thing has the potential to interrupt you. If you live alone, perfect. If you have pets, regretfully inform them that everyone has to grow up and take care of themselves sometime, and that day is today. They might whine at first, but eventually they’ll thank you for the gift of adulthood and responsibility you’ve bestowed upon them. If you have roommates, dispose of them. The manner of disposal is up to you. If they’re being particularly difficult to remove, I know a guy.
  4. Plan out your food consumption. Remember, this is a multi-day event, and just stocking up your fridge with groceries isn’t going to cut it. You don’t have time to cook, dammit! You’ve got TV to watch! Instead of stockpiling groceries, stockpile delivery fliers. And don’t forget: you are contractually obligated to leave the show running while you race to answer the door and pay the delivery guy/gal. Pausing is a sign of weakness.
  5. Start watching. Remember, no pausing. You’re allowed to do other things while watching, like play Candy Crush on your phone, or two-monitor it up and check your email on the second screen, but don’t you dare turn off that show for anything less than a zombie outbreak. Even then, zombies are surprisingly polite, and will almost definitely hold off on eating you until you’ve had a chance to finish your marathon if you ask nicely.
  6. Do NOT re-watch the pilot once you’ve finished your marathon. This is a rookie mistake. You finish the last episode, you lie back, and your heart is so full of emotion and heartbreak that you think, “Hey, I know the perfect way to end this marathon–I’ll re-watch the pilot!” It seems like the perfect solution–you can hold off leaving the show’s magical world for at least another 42 minutes, not to mention you get to see the fun juxtaposition of first episode vs. last. IT IS A TRAP. Watching the pilot leads to watching the next episode. And then the next after that. Soon enough, it’s a week later, you’re halfway through your third re-watching, you’ve lost your job, your significant other has left you for an attractive panini artisan, and your landlord is knocking on the door to make sure you haven’t died and been eaten by cats.
  7. Wait 14-16 months, and do it all over again. The time gap is necessary to help you forget how royally you screwed up your life during your previous marathon.

Hehehe. I laugh, but honestly, binge-watching TV shows is one of life’s small pleasures. My current show of choice is Avatar: The Last Airbender / Legend of Korra. Don’t worry, I haven’t assassinated my roommates or been eaten by cats. Yet. I’m only halfway through, so there’s still time.

Unrelated media of the day:

I’m pretty sure I’ve shared this before, but since we’re all freaking out over the newest Star Wars trailer …

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Categories: Random | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

9 Ways to Make Your Self-Published Book Look More Professional

In my continuing attempts to promote and improve the self-publishing scene, today I present a handful of helpful tips you can use to make your self-published print book look more professional. These tips have been compiled via examining multiple traditionally published books and comparing them to the collection of self-published books I’ve acquired over the years. Read and enjoy!

Note: I’ve used my own book for all the examples below, as copyright law is confusing and I don’t want anyone to sue me.

#1: Formatting your page numbers

Step 1: Page numbers should begin on the first page of your story. This means Chapter 1. If you have a prologue, use Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, v, vi, etc.). Do not start page numbers on the very first page of the book (i.e. the title page).

page number 1Step 2: Page numbers should end once the story is over. You can obviously keep them going into the Acknowledgements, but no blank pages at the end with page numbers. Bad!

(Updated) Step 3: Page numbers can go at the bottom of the page or the top of the page. A random survey of my bookshelf indicates it’s about 50/50. I personally prefer numbers at the bottom of the page, centered, but this one seems to be dealer’s choice!

Step 4: Put enough space between the text and the page numbers. Otherwise the page will look squished, and pages don’t enjoy being squished. That’s how bloody revolutions start.

page number 3

#2: Paper choice (cream vs. white)

This is technically up to you, but cream paper really does look better than white for fiction books. White paper is for textbooks and picture books. Go with cream.

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#3: Book size

I’d suggest making your book between 5×8 inches and 6×9 inches for a fiction book. Anything bigger is kind of awkward to hold. Not to mention it doesn’t fit very nicely on your bookshelf with your other novels.

#4: Formatting your title page and front matter text

Step 1: Your title page should be eye-catching. None of this “same font and size as the paragraph text” nonsense.

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Step 2: Put the front matter text (i.e., copyright info, “please do not illegally distribute this work” info, publishing info, etc.) on the back of the title page (i.e., the left-hand side). The right-hand side page after the title is usually reserved for the dedication.

#5: Headers 

Step 1: Use headers. They look classy. You want the author name on one side, and the book title on the other side. And for heaven’s sake, make sure the header is centered.

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Step 2: But make sure you don’t have a header on the first page of a chapter! It makes it look cluttered. Clutter is evil.

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#6: Chapter titles

Step 1: Speaking of the first page of a chapter, make sure your chapter titles are eye-catching.

page number 9Step 2: Use small caps or drop caps on the first paragraph in a new chapter.

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#7: Formatting your text / paragraphs

Step 1: Don’t use Times New Roman or Arial. These are used in everything, and will make your book look generic.

Update: The important thing to note about Times New Roman and Arial is that they’re very easy to read. So make sure the font you pick is readable. Some good options include: Georgia, Cambria, Garamond, etc.

Step 2: Don’t underline. Use italics if you need to emphasize something.

Update: Some people don’t like italics used at all in writing as emphasis, and that’s personal choice. The point here is not to underline or bold your text, as it in general looks amateurish. Unless you’re writing something a bit off-beat, like a humor book or a book where your text is spaced out to look like a shark head. In which case, do whatever crazy formatting you want!

Step 3: Don’t put space between paragraphs. Instead, tweak the space between the lines of text to make sure it doesn’t look too squished. But for the love of chickens do not use double-line spacing. This makes it look like an essay, and that’s the absolute last association you want to make. 

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Step 4 (update): Always justify your paragraphs (as in, each line of text should reach from the left to the right side of the page). Left justification is fine for your Word doc, but it looks a bit sloppy to have uneven text edges once you get to your final published version.

#8: Cover design

Get a professional cover design. Seriously. Your readers, your sales stats, and your book itself will thank you.

page number 12

Note: My Paint skills are truly out of this world.

#9: When in doubt …

When in doubt about a particular bit of formatting, pick up a traditionally published book and flip through it. Heck, pick up a couple of books. If they all tend to do the same sort of thing, formatting-wise, then you should probably do the same.

This concludes my tips! Seriously, though, flip through some traditionally published books. You can get some really great formatting ideas from them. And obviously these aren’t hard and fast rules. But if you follow them, you will definitely have a more professional-looking novel than when you started. As always, if you’ve got questions, hit me with them in the comments section below.

Happy formatting!

Categories: Self Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

Help! Need advice on website hosting!

Greetings, all!

My hosting subscription with Justhost recently ended, and I’m trying to figure out what to do with my website (michelleproulx.com). I already renewed the domain name, but the hosting is something like $10/month, which seems pretty high to me.

I tried going directly through Weebly (website builder), but it turns out they don’t have “name servers”, meaning I couldn’t use my domain with them unless I already had a hosting account (which I had with Justhost, which is now expired).

So … thoughts?

I know a lot of people use their WordPress site as their main website — does anyone have any pros/cons to report on this? It looks like WordPress has “name servers”, so I should be able to hook up my domain name to my blog — I just don’t know if it’s the best idea. So, for anyone who uses WordPress as both their blog and website, what are your opinions on this?

The other option would be to get a new hosting account with a site like GoDaddy or Hostgator — but I don’t know much about them, and I don’t know if I should keep my domain name at Justhost, transfer it over to the new hosting site, etc. Or heck, should I try contacting Justhost and trying to get a lower hosting price?

Obviously I have no idea what’s going on, so any and all comments are appreciated!!!

 

Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: Blog-related | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Wisdoms from my writers society meeting …

I just got back from my monthly London Writers Society meeting, and there were a lot of interesting thoughts and opinions floating around tonight, so I thought I’d share some of them. Now, I don’t necessarily agree with some of these — in fact, several of them I think are totally wrong — but I figured I’d share the full spectrum, and then you guys can take or leave whatever you want!

In no particular order … wisdoms from my writers society meeting:

  • Great writers should aim to write 1,000 words a day
  • Great writers should treat writing like a full time job, and work at least seven hours a day, six days a week
  • It’s more effective to write for a set period of time than write toward a specific word count goal
  • Great writers should “blueprint” their books before they ever set fingers to keyboard
  • Great writers should write first, and research later
  • Great writers should research first, and write second
  • Great writers should write only what they know

Lots of interesting ideas presented … and I’m not sure where I stand on a lot of them. I definitely disagree with the “write first, research later” mantra. What if I’ve decided to write a story about 18th century pirates in the South Pacific? I don’t know anything about 18th century pirates. I don’t know anything about the South Pacific. I don’t even know if there were 18th century South Pacific pirates. For all I know, the 18th century South Pacific seas were ruled by a cabal of hyper-intelligent octopoids. I’ll never know unless I research!

 

Unrelated media of the day:

Speaking of not knowing what the heck you’re talking about …

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

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