Monthly Archives: January 2015

Aaaand It Ends…At Least for Me

Aaaand It Ends…At Least for Me

Whenever I decided “hey, I’m going to do this” and jump in and commit – the time frame is inevitably months ahead of schedule.

For example, NYC Midnight. I got the early bird special, paid my fee, and signed up way back in November. At that moment, I was wrapping up a heavy class schedule and looking forward to about six weeks of down time for classes over the holidays. The puppies had just been born and I had no idea how much my life and daily life would be affected in just a few months.

That’s excuse #1.

Excuse #2 is a tried and true one…I panic a bit when given restrictions.

So my prompts were Romantic Comedy, Cheap Motel, and Meteorologist. I managed about 200 words, none of it romantic comedy (cheesy love story, perhaps, but not comedy) and just…bogged down.

I didn’t bother submitting in time for the deadline.

So my excuses are flimsy. Realistically, if I had really, REALLY wanted to, I could have buckled down and made it happen. Even if it wasn’t “make to the next level” material, I would have gotten something out there.

I didn’t.

Lesson learned and a big thumbs up to the folks that did. It just isn’t my thing, I guess.

NYC Midnight BEGINS!

NYC Midnight BEGINS!

nyc midnightnycmidnightshortstory

I tried this competition once this time last year and was quickly frustrated. Honestly though, I was frustrated with myself. When I’m given strict parameters to work within I panic a bit.

In any case, I decided I would try again and submitted my fee with an early bird discount and put the date on my computer so it wouldn’t sneak up on me.

I get busy, however, so it was still a bit of a surprise to see it was time to start. For those not familiar with NYC Midnight, there are several rounds of elimination to go through with increasing difficulty (or perhaps just less time – which seems difficult to me). You are given three prompts and must structure your story around them while dealing with a serious word limit. The first round isn’t bad, you get one week and 2,500 words in which to construct your story. But as it goes on, the rounds are shorter and the total words allowed narrow down to 1,000 max. That isn’t much to create a short story with!

In any case, Round One has begun and my prompts are:

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Subject: Cheap Hotel

Character: Meteorologist

Hmmm…well I’ve got a week to get this figured out, written and submitted.

The Bubblews Bubble Burst and Worse

The Bubblews Bubble Burst and Worse

titanic

I may not be the most patient of people, but I’m the first to defend a new business. I know how hard it can be to start one, and I sure know how difficult the learning curve is. But I am here to say that in the case of Bubblews, their business model has taken a bad, bad turn. And frankly, my understanding of their learning curve and newbie mistakes has evaporated.

In June of 2013, my writer and proof-reading buddy Kerrie, of The Kerrie Show fame, told me about this writing site called Bubblews. I went on the site, signed up, wrote a couple of pieces, didn’t see much results, and abandoned it for a couple of months. In August of that same year, I returned, invested more time, learned the ropes and started making some income. At the time, you could “redeem” when your “bank balance” reached $25. You would submit the redemption, provide your email address and it would be deposited directly into your Paypal account. Easy peasy, I loved it.

It took a while to get a good following, and there were spammers, connectivity and server crashes, but it did improve. By June 2014 I had nearly 5,000 followers and was earning around $600-$700 per month. Not bad, and it gave me hope that I could stop cleaning houses and focus exclusively on writing.

“Want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” – Woody Allen

Yeah…so just when I’m getting comfortable, getting into the swing of things, the hammer falls.

Bubblews had transitioned to a $50 minimum redemption several months earlier. That had been before I was doing well, so it took longer to redeem, but I crossed that hurdle, and was seeing $50 redemptions every 2-3 days for about four hours of work a day. Good money considering I didn’t have to put gas in my van, drive somewhere and do hard manual labor scrubbing stinky old toilets to earn that amount.

But what happened next was not so good.

First they transitioned from redemptions being sent out within 1-3 weeks (which folks complained bitterly about although it never bothered me) to sixty days. Still an amazing payout since writing for magazines or book publishers can mean a wait of up to one year for any money whatsoever.

Then they changed the income model so extremely, that I saw my income reduced to 1/10th, possibly even less, of what it was, for the same amount of work. Before the changes, it was averaging one cent per View, Like, and Comment. They took away that one cent per View, and made it 1/10th of a cent, possibly less. And having built my Twitter following and also using my links through this blog and my two others, that absolutely killed my income. I had more folks viewing than anything else! Most of my readers did not belong to Bubblews, and Bubblews had changed the rules months before to prevent anyone who didn’t have a Bubblews account from Liking or Commenting, further throttling the income on the site.

So with the income absolutely creeping along, at pennies instead of dollars per post, I threw in the towel. It was a sign, I figured, to do other things and reset my values in other directions. Writing for publication in magazines, for one, and focusing on my book projects. One small detail remained. When that final tweak that had reduced my income by 90% had occurred, I had about $10-$15 in the bank balance. Over the next month of me not writing, it grew by about $5 on its own, and I thought, “Gee, I should get it to $50 and cash out one last time.”

So I put in the work, posted as much as I could, and after THREE WEEKS of solid posts (and me wondering why I was spending so much time on this) I got it to $50.03, hit the Redeem button and dusted my hands off. No more writing on Bubblews and I would see a payment of $50.03 some 60 days later, in late January, which would wrap me up. If I manage to accumulate any more money, it would be so infinitesimally small that it simply wasn’t worth my time. And since my last post on 11/24/14, I have seen it sit at $2.13 for most of that entire time, unmoving.

So here is where I got PISSED OFF.

On Monday I received a notice that $31.61 was processing into Paypal from Bubblews. Not $50.03, but $31.61. I checked my past redemptions…nope, nothing missing. I went on their website and checked there. It stated that my redemption on 11/24/14 was in the amount of $31.61. Which was impossible, since we had a $50 minimum before redemption. I sent an email to Bubblews and received a response that said they had made changes on the Views payments and anything after that date was adjusted accordingly.

But that had happened. I had seen it happen. It had affected me being able to get my bank balance up to $50 for over three weeks! So in other words, Bubblews had promised to pay me $50.03, instead paid me $31.61, and they are justifying it HOW?

Needless to say, this post is my only response. I don’t have the time, energy, patience or trust to work with them further. They can keep their stinkin’ $20 and I am damned sure that they will end up like the picture above. Eventually folks will wise up and realize that Bubblews is NOT willing to fulfill the agreements and rules that they have established to begin with. And I will not deal with them further. They have reneged on their own ever-changing rules for the last time.

Building Those Marketing Skills…and Twitter Too

Building Those Marketing Skills…and Twitter Too

Building My Twitter Following

I have never been very impressed with Twitter.

Yeah, you heard me right. Go ahead twitterphites and just Unfollow me now.

But here’s the deal, unimpressed or not, I have been actively trying to build my Twitter following for the past three months. Because it doesn’t really matter what I think of Twitter, it matters more that others do like it and do use it.

See? I’m slow, but I’m getting there. Eventually I will become a marketing super-genius!

So each day, I go through at least a dozen emails from Twitter – I see who is Following me and usually Follow them back (except for a small select obnoxious few) and I go through Twitter’s suggestions and Follow folks in the hopes that they will follow me back. I’m averaging over nine new followers each day, and my total is quickly approaching 2,000 Followers.

I might not be sold on Twitter, but I have seen an uptick in book sales. Especially when a particular Tweet finds itself the right audience. The War on Drugs: An Old Wives Tale is a good example of this. Each time I Tweet “We are not an episode of weeds. I am not Nancy Botwin, but … (paperback) (kindle)” this actor from the series re-tweets my tweet. And I’ll get a book sale. How amazingly cool is that?!

So Twitter might not work for me, but it sure does for others.

Raising My Prices

I bent the ear of a marketing guy the other day and it turns out that I’ve been doing it all wrong.

See, I figured that I’d rather someone read my book, and I don’t want to frighten them off with an overly high figure, so I set my ebook and paperback book prices as low as possible. However, this may have the opposite effect. As the guy said, “It is the perception of quality. Price them cheap and your writing is cheap. Price them higher and obviously your writing is worth more.”

Huh.

So I’m going to give it a try. Right now, my ebooks range from 99 cents to just $2.99 each, depending on the book. And the paperbacks are anywhere from $9.02 to $9.98. Get them at that cheap price NOW, because the prices are going up.

I’ll be raising the paperbacks to $13.99 and the ebooks to a solid $4.99 each. And we will see how it all shakes out.

Pie in Face

Speaking of Twitter, this should give you a laugh. At least, it did me. The sign of mental health, I can laugh at myself. In fact, I do it quite regularly.

As I was building my Twitter following, and running through the email that listed my newest Twitter followers, a name (and website) jumped out at me. Cannabis.com, which has an online and in print magazine. And the inspiration struck, similar to a bolt of lightning but just a tad less damaging, WHY had I not thought of contacting the various cannabis/weed magazines and promoting The War on Drugs: An Old Wives Tale with them?

And while I was dreaming the dream another question occurred to me, Rolling Stone has been writing some weed-centric articles. Why not contact them as well? The worst they can say is “no.”

I swear to you, marketing is such a foreign concept to me. As if the fact that I have written a book (well, four of them) could somehow be magicked into the air, and people would just suddenly KNOW about it without me having to do a single thing!

So a bit of pie in face, if you will, that it has taken me close to two years to figure out that I might need to actually market the book I have written.

And yeah, I’m totally contacting Rolling Stone. What is the worst that could happen?

Don’t answer that. Just…don’t.

Sidelines, Distractions, Empowerment and More

Sidelines, Distractions, Empowerment and More

What a week, what a week…I’ve gotten distracted, sidelined by a week-long trial subscription to a wealth of old newspapers, attended a Women of Cannabis event, and so much more. It’s meant that not a lot of writing has taken place. As always, my world is not a simple “gee, I’ll write and do nothing else” kind of place. I’ve got a kid, a part-time cleaning biz, a crap ton of new classes coming up to teach, and so much more. I guess that makes me a writer extraordinaire.

nekchs book

Genealogy and More

On New Year’s Day, one of the heads of the Northeast Kansas City Historical Society was kind enough to drop by a book that we helped sponsor. Pay $50 instead of $40, wait a few months, and voila, our house and its history are featured on page 115 & 116!

But that started me thinking about history (of this house, The Cottage, and then of course both branches of my family as well as history of the inhabitants of these houses) and I got in touch with the historian who did research on my house, and was directed to newspapers.com, which is an awesome resource. I can’t tell you the thousands of articles my searches resulted in and that I sifted through. It was amazing and time-consuming. I was determined not to take on any additional projects (or money drains), so this foray was simply fro a trial subscription. I ended up canceling before the seven days were up but I fully intend to do this again at another time. I highly recommend the site.

Women of Cannabis

On Thursday evening, January 8th, I attended a Women of Cannabis event that was put on by Show-Me Cannabis. Now before you get the wrong idea, I’m not a pothead. Yes, I’ve tried it. Yes, I’ve often enjoyed the effects…BUT…I’m a Type A personality. From the moment I wake up, until the moment I close my eyes at night, I have a lineup of activities I want to accomplish. Getting high puts all of that in a wiggly little basket and incites me to regret ever bothering to touch the stuff. I’ve got waaaay too much to do, folks.

I support reform, however. Chalk it up to my libertarian nature. No one has the right to tell me what I can and cannot put into my body. And most certainly this applies to a PLANT. It is rather terrifying to me that we can be prescribed horrible drugs with body-killing side effects, addiction and more, but we cannot legally smoke or ingest a friggin’ weed that can grow without pesticides in just about every part of our country.

In any case, here I was in a room full of women. Amazing women. Smart, witty, entrepreneurial, go-getter type women. Mamas and sisters, and daughters and wives – they were awesome. Honestly they were. I will admit that I was really empowered by these women and seeing who they are and why they were there.

I was asked by one of the Show-Me Cannabis organizers to be a regular contributor to their blog, and I’m thinking about it. Honestly, I’ve never seen myself as an activist type. I’m the one who sits in the corner, says little, watches everything, and then writes a synopsis of it.

Then again, when I say it like that, perhaps I should be contributing to the blog. Huh…

I will say this…this supposed “war on drugs” needs to end. Not because I’m some tokin’ hippie that believes we should all run through a field holding hands, barefoot, and singing kumbaya. But because, it is a smokescreen (no pun intended) for the dark reality – this “war on drugs” is a war on people. It is a war on families, our culture, and our country. We are now imprison more of our citizens for non-violent drug offenses than CHINA and RUSSIA. Missouri has a strong chance for legalizing marijuana in 2016…and despite the fact that I am a sit in the corner and observe type, I am quickly realizing I need to step up and do my part. And I need to do what I do best…write. So, I guess I’m in.

Classes, Classes, Classes

As usual, I took a six week break from classes over the holidays. December and early January are filled with holidays and family-centric activities, so it was nice to take a break and not teach. However, I looked at the calendar with a mix of excitement and horror…I’ve got four classes in the last two weeks of January, three that I’ve never taught before! So I’ve got to prep for those, review info, finalize handouts, create supply lists, et cetera. Yet another thing that is distracting me from writing. And it isn’t just MY classes, but my little ones. Life is about to get very busy in our little homeschool world starting next week – KC-CIRCLE co-op, LEARN co-op, Harmony Project, acting lessons at The Coterie, and weekly visits to Science City. We are full of activities…and I’m hoping my laptop is good to travel to most of them!

Writing/Living Balance

Someone once said to my husband, “She writes a lot about writing.” And I do. Because, to some extent, the process of writing (or finding time to write) still amazes me. It is an ever-changing landscape. It is rarely as simple as sitting down and announcing, “I will write a book now.” But it also is simple at the same time. You have to start somewhere. You have to begin the process. You have to dive in and commit, even partially, to the journey.

So I’m here…and I’m not…and I’m working on it. Every day.

Marketing

Please buy my books. I won’t get rich, but I can’t tell you how important it is to me that if you are reading this, you would entertain the willingness to take it one step further. I don’t make much, but it makes my heart jump every time I see those sales reports. I know I suck at marketing, but I have to say, I write pretty damn good stories (and facts). Read them, leave reviews, give me a few “atta girls” – I need it more than you can know.