Almost There: May 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013

TV Inspiration: Holli's Summer Series




Summer is all about treating yourself, right? That's why I thought that Parks and Recreation would be the perfect choice for me for our summer TV series. TREAT YO' SELF! 

If you didn't catch Tyler's first post about our summer TV series (where she announced she'll be doing Lost), check it out here. The short version is that each of us are choosing one show and pulling writing inspiration, DIY ideas, advice and just a lot of fun from the show. 

What does this mean for my series?

Well, if you are a fan of the show, you can imagine some grilling Ron Swanson style, some waffles and inspiration Leslie Knope's way and maybe even some healthier things to ease Chris Trager's mind! 

Even if you aren't a fan, the DIYs, recipes and who knows what else will still be cool things you can enjoy. You just might not laugh as hard as we Parks fans will!



Why did I choose Parks and Recreation?

Parks and Rec is a lot different than Lost, huh? (I actually have only seen the LAST episode of Lost. Oops!) I guess I just wanted to go with something that is particularly inspirational to me…and funny. I love me some TV comedies and laughing, and well, summer just seems like a good time to do that!

Hands down, it's one of my favorite shows. It's actually a contender for "favorite show of all time," but I don't choose those until the whole series airs. (The other contender is Arrested Development). Probably one of the other things I love about it is that people ALL the time tell me I'm Leslie Knope.

I'm just generally pumped about life, energized, passionate about change and maybe a little fond of breakfast food. Oh, and Joe Biden (not a political statement). 

It's not just vanity, though. Leslie Knope as a character is an awesome role model, and all the characters are just too cool for school. Plus, I already have tons of ideas to treat myself (and hopefully yo' self, too!) 

The way this works is simple: I'll just watch a few of these episodes (starting at season 1) a week and blog about something inspired. If you wanna follow along and catch some of the jokes, then Netflix with me! Or, if you're already a fan, then prepare to flash back to the beginning. 

Next week we'll both do our first posts. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

TV Inspiration: Tyler's Summer Series

There are only three types of people in this world: those who loved the ending of Lost, those who hated it, and those who have never seen the show at all. Let me go ahead say that I'm one of those people who loved the ending and, more importantly, the road that got me there.

Over here at Almost There we have decided to do a Summer blog series that focuses on TV Inspiration. 

We are picking one show each and pulling writing inspiration, DIY ideas, advice, and just a lot of fun from each show.

What does that mean? 

I will re-watch Lost every day and once a week will make a post about the episodes I just watched. Don't worry, it won't be a play by play or anything. Each post I do will either have a Lost-inspired DIY, a fun bit of advice, or a writer/reader/viewer look at the show. Not to mention fun beachy things because, well, I live at the beach!

Why am I doing Lost?

Well, because it's one of my favorite shows. I was lucky enough to be hipster during college and thought it was "uncool" to watch something so popular. So when everyone had to wait until the next week to find out what the junk happened, I wasn't subjected to that torture. After graduation, I randomly watched the first episode on Netflix. I became hooked and watched all seasons in less than a month. (Using #addicted was and is appropriate here.)

If you want to play along and talk about the show/have a better understanding of the humor I'll try to employ in each post, Lost is a great show because all episodes are on Netflix.

Easy enough, no?

Next week will be the first blog post in my TV Inspiration: Lost series! I hope you'll join me! 

Holli Anne will be announcing her Summer Series this week also!

-Tyler Anne (aka Chick Tyler)


Friday, May 24, 2013

Inspiration: Balloons!


This week I have been in a complete creative rut. I don't know what it is, but I guess sometimes the inspiration just doesn't flow.

That's translated in my writing, blogging, crafting...you get the point.

This three-day weekend, I'm dedicating my time to rekindling that creativity. Lots of playing, resting and unscheduled fun in store for me! (Oh, and of course the premiere of Arrested Development! Who else is excited?)

Anyway, tonight I had this big urge to look at balloons, which led to my new Pinterest board cleverly entitled "Balloons!" I don't know what it is, but they really do inspire me. They've got it all: fun, color, air! They're just a blast and I like them! And so I thought I might as well share some of my favorites with you.

You can find all the original owners of the pictures and check out the rest of the board here. Or hey, maybe we could even be Pinterest pals (here).

—Holli Anne




Interview: Edward Fieder Photography

Edward Fieder is photographer and, over here at Almost There, we love his work. I'm happy to call him a friend and even happier to talk photography with him!

We hope you enjoy this week's interview!

Tell us a little about yourself. (Your degree, hometown, cool facts, etc.)
Well, my name is Edward Fieder and I'm a photographer! I'm 26 years old and graduated from Troy University with a degree in Design, Technology, and Innovations with a contract in photography and I'm currently living in, and from Montgomery, AL. Some cool facts about me...are...I'm a type one diabetic, I love the movie Scott Pilgrim, and play soccer...thats cool right?

Is your passion photography?
Yes, without a doubt my passion is photography...though I'd like to start playing with video too. Out of everything I learned about design in college its not really "my thing." Sure, I know and can do design work, but I'd much rather be holding a camera in front of my face.


When did you realize that photography was for you?
Honestly, I figured photography was something I wanted to do while in college. I used to think having the title of "photographer" was earned and I still kind of do. I didn't really think I earned the title until about my third photography class at Troy and when I started working with the schools photography department. I then got some awards for it and I knew this was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

What is a career goal that you are currently working towards?
My current career goal is to really just make photography my full time job. I would much rather it be with a company that could use what I have to offer because I really want to be a part of a team instead of freelance my entire life. Freelancing is great and all but in college I learned how to work with others and I really miss that aspect of working on projects. The only thing that keeps me company with projects now are Pandora, and Netflix playing in the background as I edit images.

What's the most expensive camera you've ever had?
Most expensive camera I've ever had is my current camera...Nikons D4. The camera is a BEAST and I love it!

Give us the deets: What's in your camera bag?
Whats in my camera bag...here we go. Nikon D4 Body, Nikon 28-300 f/3.5-5.6, Nikon 50mm f/1.4, Nikon 14-24 f/2.8, Nikon Fisheye 10.5 f/2.8, 2 Nikon SB-600 Flash's, and a Nikon SB-800 Flash.

This is just whats in my backpack and is camera gear...Im not even going to get into cords, chargers, memory cards, or studio lights and diffusers I own.

We LOVE your 365 Project. What inspired you to do one?
Thats a good question. I saw people do it before and an old room mate told me about the projects. It seemed like it would be a lot of fun to do and try out so we decided we would try and tackle it together....and we failed...MISERABLY! It was strong there for awhile but as the year progressed it got really stale. During the summer was the worst because we went off and did our own thing and there were just too many distractions for a college kid during the summer to really wanna concentrate on producing quality work every...day...I managed to make it to September but school work became too much and I just couldn't keep up. If you're in college, and you want to do this, it's going to be hard...fair warning.

We definitely have a few favorites from 365 so far, what are some of YOUR favorites?
Oh boy...some of my favorites...lemme see...I love January 1, January 14, Jan 20, March 5, April 11, April 12, April 24, and May 3.

There would be more...but after a few weeks of looking at my work I tend to start ripping it apart and looking at things I need to change or would've done differently.


Aside from 365, what's your favorite picture that you've ever taken?
For some reason I feel that the picture of the Troy quad that looks like a hurricane is about to hit it is my favorite. Its one of my first images that I was noticed for and people were trying to find out who took it. It was made into a poster for the girls basketball team and I've sold quite a bit of prints from it. Even more importantly I look at that image and think of all the amazing times I had and things I learned from the University in those 3 short years. It's more of an emotional image to me more than anything.

Do you have a favorite photographer that you follow?
I have 2 photographers that I follow. They are Zack Arias, and Trey Ratcliff. I look at a lot of photographers work...but those are the 2 I really keep up with.

While taking the pictures is a big part of being photographer, people forget that editing is a big part too. How long does it usually take to edit a picture and what do you use?
This is a question I can't really answer. It depends on the image really. April 11 picture took me a around an hour and a half to complete but April 12 picture took me 5 minutes. Some images I only have to throw in some contrast and color adjustments and others I have to remove things, dodge and burn, make selections then make adjustments to those selections, then mask some things and remix them with other images, there's a ton of things I can do to an image and ultimately it depends on what I'm trying to make.


Are you planning on working any future projects you'd like to tell us about?
I'm actually in the process of getting funds to start a photo book about diabetes. Well, its not really about diabetes, but its a photo book showing diabetics doing whatever it is they do. See, back in the day when I was diagnosed I FUHREAKED out. I cried and was scared and all that stuff. I thought a bunch of terrible things that weren't true and I NEVER WANT A KID TO FEEL THE WAY I DID EVERRRRRR AGAINNNN. So, I want to make this book with a bunch of pictures of awesome diabetics doing awesome things with a general awesomeness so when kids are diagnosed with diabetes they can look at this book and hopefully it'll show them that they are just like everyone else and it will kind of keep them at ease. Does that make sense?

What advice would you give to aspiring photographers out there?
Do not give up! There are going to be good days and bad days. Days you think you suck and days you think you're doing ok. You will over think your images and rip them a part. You will compare your photography to others and you'll want to give up some days and do something else. If you really want to do this...YOU CAN NEVER give up.

Link us up! What sites and social media accounts should we be following if we want more of your awesome photography?
Well there's...Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and of course...my website.

-Tyler Anne (aka Chick Tyler)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Inspiration: Making Your Book Real


Writing a book, no matter the content, can feel unreal at times. Sure you can sit down at your laptop and write and write until your fingers cramp and you get a small headache behind your eyes, but that doesn't mean it feels real yet. You're just another person with another story. Anyone can sit down and write nonsense.

However, not everyone will get published.

This thought can be a daunting, self-damning one that keeps you from pushing yourself that much harder to complete your book. I know because I've been writing a book series for more than seven years and, if you Google my name, you won't see the credits to a best-selling book series attached to it.

It's not that I don't have faith in my characters, the plots, or the writing...I just had a hard time getting my figurative feet moving forward.

Until recently when I found inspiration in myself.

A week or so ago I self-published a writing prompt book (go here) and, while the intricacies of publishing alone made me feel like I was being productive, it was the final preview that made it real. It showed me how the book would look on a Kindle and I got to turn the pages to my own story made public.

The Dark Side of Writing: 35 Writing Prompts is not my main writing project, however, it made me want to see how my novel-in-progress would look on an eReader. I converted the files and sent it to my Nook. There I was able to read everything I had written via my lovely Nookina.

It inspired me all the way from my hair to my toes! Seeing it how others would (hopefully) view it made everything very real. It gave me that push I needed and I have written more in the past week than I have in the past two months combined! It is my heartfelt advice for you to do the same.

The following instructions are how I converted my Word .doc (or .docx) to an ePub file:

Note: I didn't get intense with formatting since I just really wanted to read the content. I'll have another post on here soon about how to format a word document the best way for an eReader. All I did was bold my new chapter headings. 

1. Open up your .doc or .docx and Save As .htm. If you don't have a title for your book, then go ahead and give it a temporary one.

2. I went to Calibre.com and downloaded a free version of their program here. It's an eBook management program that can convert an .htm file to an ePub one. (ePub files can be viewed on eReaders.)

3. Open up Calibre and go to Add books on the top left then Add books from a single directory. Once you click this you will be able to chose the .htm file you saved.




4. Your file will show up in the Calibre main screen. It should be above Calibre's Quick Start Guide. Select your file until it's highlighted blue and go up to Convert books, then Convert individually.

5. A new screen will pop up and, if you really want, you can fill out all of the details. Seeing as mine was a crazy rough draft I left everything as it was and just hit OK. This starts the conversion process. It shouldn't take more than a minute depending on its size.

Now you have an ePub file that can be read on your eReader. All you have to do is search your computer for the file name!

Don't know how to send the ePub file to your eReader?

For Kindle
Connect your Kindle device to your computer. Once it is recognized you will see a new icon at the top of Calibre called Send to Device. Click to highlight the ePub books you want to send to your Kindle and click Send to Device. You will be asked to auto convert. Do it!

Once the job is done, disconnect your Kindle.

For Nook
I like the whole drag and drop process. Connect your Nook and take your new ePub file and drag that sucker to your Nook's Documents. Drop it in and then disconnect!

It may seem complicated but it's super easy and highly effective! Seeing your book on an eReader may give you that pesky push and dose of inspiration you need to finish your book!

Enjoy!
-Tyler Anne (aka Chick Tyler)

Dinner Party Fun: In-Home Hibachi




Last July 4, ironically, some of our friends introduced us to the concept of homestyle Hibachi. MIND BLOWN.

It was seriously one of the more fun dinner experiences we've ever had. It's perfect for a quaint dinner party or even a fun date night, which is what we did last night. Because the food cooks slowly in front of you, it ends up taking a couple hours to go through the meal and what better conversation piece than cooking your own food?!

Another great perk is that there is very little you have to do ahead of time to prepare for the feast. 



All you need is a table top griddle (in our case used on the floor), whatever meats and vegetables you want, oil and a side of rice or noodles, if that's how you roll. (It's how we roll!)

We also had some asian sauces (soy sauce, thai peanut and a hot chili sauce that was OH, so hot!) 

The only preparation is cutting up the veggies and meat (marinaded if you choose) and cooking the rice. 



Whether you are using a table top or the floor, just make sure you put some newspaper underneath to catch any splattering. Then you just turn that sucker on and get busy cooking. Enjoy your company and the end result!

Has anyone ever had a dinner party like this or done homestyle hibachi?

—Holli Anne

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fan Fiction Authors, Become Published!


Oh sweet mother of fan fiction, my day just got a few Elena and Damon shippers better.

Amazon just made me one happy nerd.

It should be no surprise to you that I used to be crazy into writing and reading fan fiction over at Fanfiction.net. In fact, my very old account is still active with stories about Kingdom Hearts and Inuyasha.

Yeah, yeah, I know I didn't finish them but give me a break. I was young and a closet fan fiction FANATIC. I remember being absolutely obsessed with Harry Potter stories in which Hermione and *gasp* Draco got together. Crazy right?

Not really. I came across several stories in which the user created chapter after chapter of compelling content and wonderful character continuity that would have J.K. Rolling question if she had actually written it or not. Sure, there were some stories I read that were riddled with spelling and grammatical errors and just flat out bad writing. Some just wanted to be in the story so badly they made their own character and traipsed through the fictional halls of Hogwarts with an unforgivable arrogance.  However, those few stories that actually surpassed all of my high, Harry Potter expectations made me want Draco and Hermione to get together. They did research in the previous books, they kept everything in the already established world J.K. Rolling created going smoothly, and they made me wait on pins and needles for the next chapter.

Why is that such big deal?

Well, Amazon just debuted a licensed publishing program for fan fiction.

Be still my nerdy, little heart.

This, in the simplest of terms, means that you fan fiction writers out there might be able to be published and earn royalties doing so. Now, this new program won't support every fan work--not all copyrighted franchises are a part of it.

However, according to a Publisher's Weekly post, Amazon Publishing has negotiated licensing agreements in advance with such properties as L.J  Smith's Vampire Diaries and Warner Bros. These, along with other copyright holders, will support Kindle Worlds.

Kindle Worlds is a new commercial publishing program that will enable fans to create original works based on established franchises...aka the fan fiction you write up. According to this post, June is when Kindle Worlds self-publishing portal will be available for fan to upload their fan fiction.

Kindle Worlds will allow writers to sell their stories in the Kindle store under a broad licensing agreement that will pay both the fans AND the copyright holders. Under that license, Amazon will pay the license holders a royalty and will also pay the fan fiction author a 35% royally of net revenue for stories of at least 10,000 words. This is based on list price, not wholesale. You will get paid royalties monthly.

Did it just get hot in here? Because I just broke out into a very excited sweat. Too much info? Too bad, I'm over the moon about this new turn in the publishing world.

I will keep everyone updated on the list of the copyright holders that decide to throw in with this new program. Will you write a fan fiction and submit it?

Which franchise are you hoping will be included in the program?

-Tyler Anne (aka Chick Tyler)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Easy Recipe: Lemon Strawberry Puffs




I recently made a big, but important, food discovery: puff pastry. There are so many possibilities! 

For this particular possibility, I made these Lemon Strawberry Puffs. They are so simple and so satisfying, especially at a luncheon or hors d'oeuvres type party (which is what I used them for).

Anyway, here's all you need to know about this tasty lemon strawberry treat, though I'm sure you could substitute almost any flavor here if those don't match your cup of tea!

Ingredients:
  • Puff Pastry
  • Lemon Curd
  • Strawberry Preserves
  • Sugar
  • Confectioners Sugar
  • Margarine/Butter

I used a store bought puff pastry and simply laid out the sheets and cut into rectangles and squares. Then I put a sprinkle of sugar over them and baked for around 13-15 minutes.

Once they cooled, I opened the puff pastry in the middle and spread some with just lemon, some with just strawberry and some with both. I was really generous with these so there would be lots of flavor in them. Then I used melted margarine and just basted a tiny bit on the top and sprinkled confectioners sugar on them.

That's it! They were so tasty and such a simple alternative to a lemon square (though, I won't say they are a match for them because let's be real, they aren't!) 

If you are looking for a simple party food, this just might do the trick for you! For you food cookers out there, anyone made any awesome things using puff pastry?

—Holli Anne

Pinterest Love: The Baker

No surprise that I love me some Pinterest. It's one of the first sites I visit when I start up my lovely little Mac. Out of all of the social media sites I use, Pinterest is my favorite. I repin for me and me only. Lately though, I've been getting an influx of followers and that couldn't make me happier.

So, to incorporate more Pinterest in your life and mine, I've decided to do one post a week that focuses on the addicting and amazing site.

I'm calling it Pinterest Love and each week I'll search a word or phrase and make a board using some of the results. Sound boring? Nope! It's fun!

For this week's Pinterest Love I searched "The Baker." The top picture and the following mini board are my favorites from the results!

Hope you enjoy!



To find these individual pins, go here to my new Pinterest Love board. You can trace them all back to their original owners that way. My Pinterest profile can be found here.

-Tyler Anne (aka Chick Tyler)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Interview: Story Cartel's Joe Bunting talks free books, writing and new Website




I'm pretty excited about this interview today with Joe Bunting. If you like reading FREE books and/or writing, chances are you'll be excited, too. 

Joe Bunting is the founder of The Write Practice and co-founder of Story Cartel. The first is a blog all about writing and practicing your writing (imagine that!). Story Cartel is a wonderful site where authors give away books in exchange for reviews. WIN-WIN! Seriously, they are two of my favorite places on the Internet, and I think you might like them, too! 

Here's my Q&A with Joe:

For our readers who don't know, could you tell us a little about The Write Practice and Story Cartel?

Story Cartel is a new way for readers to connect with authors. We help authors build their email lists and get reviews on their books by giving away free books to readers. The amazing part is the conversations that happen between readers and authors. Authors tell us all the time that it's one of the most rewarding experiences of their life.

The Write Practice is an online writing workbook sneakily posing as a blog. We post daily instruction on the craft of writing and then ask people to practice with us in the comments section. Daily practice is the best way you become good enough to get published, and we help people practice every day. Also, it's pretty fun. :)

How did you come up with the idea for Story Cartel? Is the concept something you used for your own books?

Exactly. When I launched my first book, I followed a set of steps to build a review team of hundreds of readers, and these readers ended up leaving over 100 Amazon reviews on the book in the first week. It was incredible. We built Story Cartel to help other authors follow the same steps but with a lot less work.

What types of books are typically available through Story Cartel?

It depends on what authors are sharing their books! Right now we have a lot of non-fiction, but in the past we've had quite a few thrillers, we went through a memoir phase, and a stretch with mostly YA books. Books are only available for three weeks, so you have to snap up the ones you like quickly! 

Are the authors who submit books typically independent authors?

Nope. We actually work with traditional publishers to share their books on Story Cartel, too. We want to create a place where independent authors and traditionally published authors can both create meaningful connections with readers.
 
What are the requirements for submitting your book to Story Cartel?

We don't take books with bad covers. The unfortunate truth is that readers judge books by their covers, and they can spot a poorly made, self-published cover a mile away. We want to make our readers happy, so we sometimes have to say no to books with poorly made covers.

As long as you have a nice cover, an Amazon page, a Kindle file, and a PDF of your book, you're set, though.

If I'm a reader, do I have to give a good review of the book to get it for free?

Heck no! If you don't like it, say so. No one benefits with fake positive reviews, not the author and not the reader. 

That being said, the best reviewers know the difference between a book they don't like and a bad book. Hopefully, reviewers can separate their own personal preferences from their critical appreciation of the book. I think that's the best way to create interesting conversations about art.

Tell us what's different about your new Website for Story Cartel?

Since we launched our new website on May 13, we've been blown away by the response. We already have more books available than we had the first three months we started. So the big benefit is more books! The site is much cleaner and clearer, and it's a lot easier for readers to find the perfect book for them. You can sort by your favorite genre, browse our most popular titles, and even book-hop from book to book until you find the perfect book for you.
 
I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about the Write Practice. It's one of my favorite writer blogs on the Internet!

Thanks! We like it, too. :) 
 
For our readers who don't know, can you tell us about the daily writing prompts. What should someone expect if they sign up for these?

I think that daily writing prompts, while fun, can be an incredible waste of time. We try to help writers practice a specific skill every day, and the writing prompts are exercises to help you practice that skill. That being said, we occasionally throw in a lone prompt from time to time, just to keep it interesting. :) 

How many different writers contribute to The Write Practice Blog?

We have six right now, including me. It's a pretty amazing team.

Can you tell us a little about your own writing? What are some of the things you've published and your favorite genre to write?

Sure! I like to write literary fiction. My latest published piece is a short story, "Hands," about a dying musician who reconnects with his favorite, former student. It sounds depressing, but it's really about the music, the jazz that bonds these two men. I had a lot of fun writing it.

Any advice for any aspiring authors?

So much. But you'll have to subscribe to The Write Practice to get it. :)

-Holli Anne
 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Writer Talk: Do you Believe in You?




Belief is a funny thing. Whether the belief is in God, Santa Claus or in a friend, the act touches something deep in your core. No matter small or great, very certain or relatively unknown, belief in anything requires a deep level of trust and a leap of faith, at least to some extent. 

I've always personally been someone who likes to believe things, but the meaning of the concept really came alive to me about a year ago when I saw someone pose this question: When does someone become a writer?

At that time, though I had been working for a newspaper for years and literally had my work published, I wouldn't have called myself one. At least not willingly.

I may have said "I write" or "I'm a journalist" but I wouldn't have just gone around telling people I am a writer. 
Essentially, I didn't believe.

I have no idea what my idea of a writer was, but I guess I just always thought something more than what I've accomplished, like publishing a book, maybe even a "successful" book, maybe even getting recognized for it. 

Here's the thing about that kind of train of thought. Sure, I could still write even if I don't believe it, but for the chances of getting someone else to read it or even to finish a project to be present, I really need to buy into it. While a writer might not write only for others to actually read the work, the work itself just won't be the same until you proclaim it to the world—and at minimum, to yourself. 

It's been a year since I decided to declare to myself, on my Website, when people ask me what I do—just everywhere— that I'm a writer. A few weeks later I started to really believe it. A few months later I was supporting myself solely on that skill. And a year later, I'm writing more than I ever have and honestly, better. 

Writers (and I think all creative types really) have a tremendous amount of self-doubt to overcome in the process of creating any work. The true belief in you to come through makes it even possible to complete anything at all. 

If you are a writer or creative person, what has been your biggest tool in overcoming doubt about your work? 

—Holli Anne

HELP: Painting the bedroom


Brown blinds.
My decorating Achilles' heel.
Maybe they are the reason I've been shying away from design posts lately. I just can't get them out of my head.

What am I talking about? Well, it's time to paint the bedroom and, under other circumstances (sans blinds), I'd be pumped as all get out. It's not that I don't like the color brown. I mean, these blinds that run throughout the house are actually a dark brown--three shades away from black (and a color I can work with). So, I guess it could be worse. I shouldn't complain, I know, but every color scheme I wanted to go with didn't include brown. This is the reason for my decorating distress.

Simple solution? Take them down and get new blinds.
Negative, Ghostrider.

These blinds were here before me and expensive. Plus, as far as a blind's function goes, they are brilliant. In short: They are here to stay (at least for a while).

So, instead of NEVER painting the bedroom, I am having to come up with alternate color combos. It isn't such a daunting task as I assumed but I still am stuck.

Current Bedroom Deets
Tray ceiling
White baseboard
Permanent dark brown blinds
A lot of black decorations (picture frames & TV stand)

What colors I love
Teal
Blue
Light Gray

I've really considered the scheme in the picture above, but as you see, I've had some reservations with it as well. See, I have a tray ceiling to deal with. So that means I need to paint that sucker as well and I really don't want it to be a dark or bright color. That's why I want to it to be either light gray or white. 

So here are the three options I've come up with:
1. An accent wall of color (hopefully a teal or blue) and the rest of the walls a gray or white as well as the tray ceiling.

2. All walls painted a color and the tray ceiling a white or gray. (Probably white so it can compliment the trim.)

3. Half walls! Paint the bottom half of the room a bright color and the rest (including the tray ceiling) gray or white.

So, there are my options. What do you think? What would YOU do?

Help!

-Tyler Anne (aka Chick Tyler)

All images can be found on my Color make me go OH! board and tracked back to the original owners.



Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Dark Side of Writing: 35 Writing Prompts


I did it! I finally did it! I finished the writing prompt workbook that I've been...well, writing!

It's called The Dark Side of Writing: 35 Writing Prompts and I have to say it was a blast to make.

So, what exactly is the "dark side" you may ask?

Well it's all of those topics that are a bit harder to write--the nastier, grittier side of life. In this workbook I touch on the topics of dead bodies, murder, sex, drugs, and a few more interesting issues that you may have lurking in your book.

You aren't writing a book? The Dark Side of Writing can be used to just exercise your writing technique. The 35 prompts are made to push you to get out of your writer's comfort zone and address real life situations with a few different perspectives.

Here are the 11 sections:

Let the bodies hit...well, wherever
Act of Killing
FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT!
Drop that F-Bomb
WHAM BAM, thank you ma'am (and sir)
GO BIG OR GO a little less big
Sweet Jesus, it's a scar!
I can get sexual too!
Drugland (Alcohol not included)
Go Home, You're Drunk
Hate is a strong word

I admit, I had some fun coming up with the names of each section but I had even more fun writing each. Some of the content may seem offensive but I promise it's justified!

To give you a little taste of The Dark Side, here's the copy from Section Eight (I can get sexual too!):

Section Eight
I can get sexual too!


Yes, yes, yes. This section is about sex. Why is writing about sex in The Dark Side of Writing? Well, not all sex scenes in books should be lovemaking, cute and cuddly reads. Sometimes you can’t (shouldn’t) just rush over an important sex scene or skip it altogether because you don’t want to be 50 shades of embarrassed.

Sex is natural. Writing a sex scene that’s needed to further your plot or character growth should be too. The following three writing prompts are to help you get out of your comfort zone and more comfortable with sensual scenes and horny characters.

Get sexy!

Prompt One
Your main character and this other person have known each other a while now and something suddenly changes between them—there’s this explosion of sexual tension. Ease this by having them do the big YOU KNOW WHAT!
Remember, these characters need to know each other and have some sort of pre-existing relationship. (I.e. casual friends, best friends, work colleagues, etc.)

Prompt Two
Your main character needs to basically have a one-night stand. Before you complain, remember—this is a writing prompt. It’s meant to exercise your writing.
Take your main character and put them in a place where they meet someone. It can be a drunken meeting, a heat of the moment situation, or just an I’m-really-sad-about- something-so-help-me-be-less-sad-and-lonely deal.
Bottom line: Write a sex scene in which your main character isn’t that familiar with the person in the scene with them. This will make you address a different side of your main character as they navigate uncharted territory—physically and emotionally.

Prompt Three
Your main character is about to have sex with his/her nemesis. This is by far my favorite situation to write about.
Write a scene in which your main character is fighting with the nemesis but then, something changes and well...they have sex. This also will address the way your main character thinks and acts towards the nemesis during and after.


I hope you enjoyed the sex portion of The Dark Side! Want to see the rest of the sections? Go here to purchase The Dark Side! Only $10!

-Tyler Anne (aka Chick Tyler)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Fellow Creatives: Share your Story


Are you working on a big project right now? Do you have one you've always wanted to work on? 

When the Annes started Almost There, its purpose was sort of two-fold: To inspire ourselves to chase our dreams and to help others do the same. 

Essentially, we live for creative living! So we want this blog to be a place that truly fosters that. 

Since there's really nothing quite like hearing the stories and seeing the work of other creative people, we've decided we really want to start sharing some stories. YOUR stories! 

Whether you are a musician, writer, fine artist, DIYer, blogger, chef…it really doesn't matter! We'd love to show you off and foster a community of support for each other.

Since one of our big dreams is running this blog, we are asking for your help in exchange. All we ask is you subscribe to our blog by entering your e-mail address in the subscribe box under our pictures on the right of this page. You will only get one e-mail for every day that we post. So if we blog 3 times in one day, you'll only get one message with all the goodies! 

We'll message you and ask for details about your project or dream and shine a spotlight on you on this blog and our social media sites.

—The Annes

Writer Talk: Tyler talks music


I've heard the myth about the writer that prefers silence when they write. How they choose to turn everything off and write to nothing but the sound of their fingers hitting keys. They write fight scenes, love scenes, murderous scenes, happy scenes to the sound of nothing.

I'll never understand those people.

Sure, I've written before without a sick beat to help me along but I try not to make a habit out of it. One of the biggest pulls of inspiration I get when writing comes from music. I have had writer's block completely cleared before by just listening to Pandora and stumbling upon a great song. I've created whole scenes that have been born from just listening to that one song. Hell, I've created scenes off of just the openings before.

Music is just one of the most natural ways to make you daydream. That can help you a great deal when trying to weave together your epic tale. 

I've noticed in the past few years that authors are really starting to take notice in how important music is to their books. Some authors go as far as including a list of the songs they wrote certain scenes to in the back of their books as well as others posting entire playlists they wrote to online.

(See, C. Elizabeth Vescio's playlists for The Wasted Series here. I'm a huge fan of them...I MAY follow them already...I do.)

I think that is bitching. 
In the best of ways, of course.

Listening to a song while reading a scene completely changes how you perceive it. Instead of just reading the words and knowing what they mean, music can help you really feel them. 
Was that too cheesy? It's fine!

To be truthful, I wasn't as passionate about this subject until a few years back. I was stuck in the middle outlining--I couldn't figure out how to write climax of the book. That's when Fix You by Coldplay came on. It rocked my effing world. I, not only, wrote the entire climax TO that song but it became the soundtrack for the entire book. It inspired my pants off and helped me work through almost all of the issues I had been facing. Now, I know Coldplay isn't everyone's favorite band and I'm definitely not trying to sell you their albums. I'm just saying that listening to music while you write can really make a big difference in your inspiration levels.

Give it a try! Link your playlists in the comments or tell us YOUR favorite song to write along with!

Here's my writing playlist to the novel I'm working on now. Enjoy!



-Tyler Anne (aka Chick Tyler)

Top photo can be found here.

Advice from a Newlywed: Money Merging

















































Being a newlywed is obviously pretty wonderful, but I must say that the merging of two lives keeps things really interesting. 

Joseph and I were friends a long, long time before we ever dated, so we've spent a good amount of time in each other's spaces. Whether we're just used to each other or mesh well, we haven't had any weird issues with living in the same (very quaint) home. 

One of the areas I'm sure all newlyweds have fun tackling is the merging of money! 

Dealing with finances is already "fun" enough for one person, and blending new sets of bills, new incomes and new ideals can make things extra spicy! 

In all honesty, this isn't a big point of contention for us or anything, but it definitely forces us to practice some communication and organization skills to avoid trouble.

We've only been married two months (in two days from now), so I won't claim to be an expert on couple financial management, but in our two months we have learned some methods that have been really helpful to us, at least at this point.

1. Details! 

This sounds bad, but I never actually made a formal budget for myself before marriage. I mean, that doesn't mean I just blew my money all the time, but I  always kept track in my head of what money was coming and when and what I needed to pay. Since Joseph and I haven't mastered telepathic communication (YET) this method no longer works. We made this bill organizer that is helpful, but we've since found it's even more helpful to make detailed lists that include what bills we pay with what paychecks and when they are all due. We keep it on a shared Google doc so we can both update it with any extra income that flies our way (which does happen since we freelance). 

2. Prioritize

Some things are easier to prioritize than others. For example, we don't want to be homeless so we pay our rent on time. We also like having those modern electrical conveniences, so utility bills are good. Due dates definitely make priorities for you, but sometimes when paychecks don't exactly match up with due dates, you need to make decisions. Not only this, though, there are plenty of non-bill items a couple is going to want to spend money on. Right now, we are working on fixing up our office, so there are expenses that go with that. Whatever you do, just be on the same page about what is important in terms of spending and if you aren't there, get there!

3. Be Flexible

You can plan all day long, but sometimes there are things you just can't account for, like a flat tire. (We haven't had this happen yet, but boy a few of my tires look questionable. If you're the praying type, go ahead and lift those bad boys up!) In all seriousness, though, something we talked about in marriage prep was how much each other could spend without telling the other person. It makes it so I don't have to call Joseph and tell him I'm buying a cup of coffee or something minor and vice versa. Also, it's great if you can give each other allowances so to speak for those items you might not see eye to eye on (like us girls buying another pair of shoes or something!) 

4. Learn as You Go

We are still in this process for sure, and I have a feeling it's probably a lengthy journey. Having to communicate your wants and needs and document your spending habits is a GREAT exercise in not only bringing you closer as a couple but also just paying really close attention to how you spend your money. 

If you haven't gotten married yet, I recommend laying this all out on the table ahead of time, so that when you have that first month of bills together, it's not such a confusing ordeal. If you are married, do you have any funny money management stories to share? It's just so fun how different guys and girls process things sometimes!

—Holli Anne

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Cinco de Mayo Inspired: Guacamole and Cream Cheese Dip


If there is one kind of food I love, it's Mexican food! I don't really need Cinco de Mayo to tell me to eat it, but hey, whatever excuse I can get.

This weekend, I have big plans for some chicken tacos and maybe some quesadillas, too, but I thought I'd go ahead and share some of my favorite dips (besides salsa, of course) in the spirit of the holiday.

Both are SUPER simple.



Cream Cheese Dip

I thought this one sounded crazy when my friend Emily first made it for us in college, but boy was I wrong. It's one of the easiest recipes ever, especially for the wow factor it receives at parties (More bang for your buck type thing).

Ingredients:
  • 1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
  • 1 can Rotel diced chiles
  • 1 can Mexicorn

To make: Just pour all ingredients in a pot on the stove, stir occasionally and eat once all the ingredients blend together and cheese melts! You can serve it hot or cold, eat with tortilla chips or use as a topping on tacos/nachos. You really can't go wrong here.



Guacamole
This recipe is a quick and simple version of guacamole. (Not that all of them aren't). Feel free to add more or less lime juice, jalapenos, cayenne pepper and garlic depending on your preferences!

Ingredients:
  • 2 avacados
  • 1/2 (ish) lime juice
  • 1-2 diced jalapenos
  • 3/4 can diced tomatoes and chiles
  • 1 tsp. garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

To make: Cut avocados, discard seed and scoop out insides into bowl. Mash with a fork. Mix in lime juice, jalapenos, canned tomatoes, garlic and cayenne pepper. Add more lime juice if you prefer. (My recipe doesn't have cilantro but only because I didn't have it). Serve as you wish!

Anyway, hope everyone has a nice Cinco de Mayo weekend! Will anyone be indulging in some Mexican food or fiestas to celebrate?

—Holli Anne

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Resolutions


We love Kelli's blog She Learns As She Goes and how she posts monthly resolutions, so we thought it would be a good idea for us to make some May goals for ourselves. What is easier and more tangible than a New Year's Resolution, after all? Monthly Resolutions, of course!

Holli Anne's Resolutions:

1. Run that 5K
I'll be finished with Couch to 5K at the end of the month, so I'm excited to be up to 3 mile status by June!

2. Write daily on my book
I'm the queen of procrastination. I will write and write, get stuck on something I need to research and then take my sweet time doing just that. No more! I have to write everyday this month. I'll tell you how many words I wrote at the end of the month, and by golly, it better be impressive!

3. Finish painting my house!
My goodness. It's just ridiculous that two months post marriage we still have one room left half-painted. Maybe if I put this goal here, it will get accomplished.

4. No boxes in my house
I want to do awesome things like decorate and make fun home decor, but most importantly, I need all the boxes out of my house!


Tyler Anne's Resolutions:

1. Get to that 75 percent marker of my book
As of right now I'm halfway done with the book I'm writing. Honestly, I'd love to completely finish the first draft by the end of May. Realistically, with all of my other work projects, I just don't see that happening. I'd be immensely pleased with myself if I could get to that 75 precent done marker!

2. Finish and distribute my super secret project for Almost There
Okay, so if you know me, this super secret project isn't that "secret." However, if you haven't recently talked to me and don't know what the heck is going on then I want to keep you in the dark a little while longer. All I can say is I think aspiring writers might just love it! I hope to have it finished and on Almost There's shop by the end of May!

3. Walk/jog for an hour everyday
Lately I've been getting into the habit of walking around the neighborhood for an hour during lunch. I want make this an everyday thing while transitioning from walking to jogging. My birthday was a few weeks ago and I'm pretty sure I ate my weight in sweets so I need to lose that weight pronto! Plus, it's wonderful time to brainstorm for Almost There and my book!

4. Find a place to put all of my books!!!!!
I fail this resolution EVERY MONTH but maybe I'll get lucky this time. I have hundreds of books that, since my recent move, have been in boxes! I hate, hate, HATE that! I'm the kind of person that loves to see their books and I have been known to reread some from time to time. I need to either purchase a ballin' few bookcases OR create my own! (And links or suggestions on this front would be awesome!)


Almost There Resolutions:

1. Evolve the writer side of this blog
It seems obvious that since we are both writers and since we both like chasing our dreams, that this would be a place for us to talk about writing. We've been working on incorporating this side of us into the blog with Laundromat Fiction and Writer Talk and we want to continue that!

2. Keep posting new prompts/discussions daily at Writer Talk
Writer Talk is a series on our blog, but it is also a Facebook group we started for writers to join and share in daily discussions and weekly writing prompts. It's a great place of encouragement so far and it's only just begun!

3. Bring more interviews/guest blogs to the site
What better way to inspire ourselves creatively than to read about how other creative people are chasing their dreams (or even better, living them already!) We were so excited about this interview with Josh from Blimey Cow, and we have several others in the works for this month. 

4. Work on our individual projects that we will put on Etsy
We opened our Etsy shop just this week for our first ecourse on social media. Now, we are both working on some individual projects and fun handmade things to add to the shop, so hopefully by the end of the month we'll have more to update on this!

Do you have any May resolutions? 

TO MAY! —The Annes

Kelli's May Resolutions can be found here.
Picture can be found on Holli's Instagram.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover