Monthly Archives: September 2015

Thank You Elizabeth Gilbert

Thank You Elizabeth Gilbert

My mother sent me an email the other day and it was rather well-timed. She wrote,

“I have just found one of the best, most inspiring “interviews” ever!  You will both feel its relevance.  Enjoy, it is for every creative person.

YouTube Elizabeth Gilbert & Marie Forleo on Fear, Authenticity

Love, YOO”

Note: YOO, by the way is not a typo. It stands for Your One and Only. We typically sign our emails to each other this way – I am her only child and she is my only mother, thus…YOO.

I need to show my mom keyboard shortcuts so that she can learn how easy it is to click on the website address, hit Ctrl+C, then go over to an email and hit Ctrl+V. I’m kind of like Doug in the movie “Up” – every time I went to YouTube to attempt to find this I was distracted by people, emails, or just YouTube in general.

Squirrel!

In any case, my eldest was kind enough to find it, and then send me the link. Because that’s what thoughtful daughters do, and she certainly qualifies. Here is the video by the way.

Around 19 minutes in is when it gets really REAL…

And again at 33 1/2 minutes…

And again at 38 minutes…

And this quote…

“There is no better thing to spend your life doing than saying yes to that invitation.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

I have these intermittent crises of faith. They used to come far more often than they do now, but I still have them. Recently, I asked my husband to take a drive with me, that I wanted to talk about some things. And boy did we talk, about so many things, but one of them was my writing and my contribution to our monetary situation.

I don’t get to not work, that just isn’t in the cards. Recently however there have been some declines in income and I started to feel as if I wasn’t doing my part. It’s bad enough that I bring in only a part-time income, but with it sitting at just 1/4 of what my husband was bringing in, it didn’t feel like enough.

Dave cleared that up and made sure I knew how much he supports my writing. More on that in a moment…

What I found interesting is how honest Gilbert is. She doesn’t give any false promises about how if you spend the next 10,000 hours writing you will become the next Hemingway. She also points out that not everyone will write amazing, life changing stuff. Writing is not your baby, it isn’t the sum total of your life or unfailingly profound and epic and it will have mistakes.

And that is okay.

What it made me realize is this is absolutely the BEST time for me to dive into writing. After talking with my husband (may I add – my loving, sweet, and devoted husband who puts up with me and supports me SO MUCH) I realized that we could cut a few costs, and that having Danielle living with us meant MORE time for writing (because she cooks around five meals a week, I LOVE that) , so I really have absolutely no excuse.

It seems that, after years of floundering about, we have reached a sweet equilibrium of sorts, where I bring in some money, enough to make up the gap. Dave as the main wage-earner is bringing in good money. Enough that, if we cut back on money outlay (by canceling any major fix-it projects around the house) for a year or so – we will be a-okay and make ends meet while I write, and write, AND WRITE.

Where will this lead to?

Honestly, I have no idea. But I’m really excited about the next 15 months. REALLY excited.

 

 

 

Choking on the Home Stretch

Choking on the Home Stretch

The other day I was in the writing zone. I finished two chapters, reviewed my document’s Table of Contents, and realized I had just four more chapters to write.

And then I got sidetracked.

This happens a lot.

It is one of the reasons I have only managed to publish four books in the past seven years.

I started thinking about what kind of cover I needed. I couldn’t ask my talented daughter to design it – she hasn’t learned graphic illustration yet and I have a very clear picture in my mind of what I need. I know what the spaceship looks like, I know how I want it positioned, hanging in space with Gliese 581G in the background.

And then I started wondering if I really had just four chapters to go. Had I shown one particular aspect of the story well enough? Perhaps I needed MORE chapters…

And faced with that thought, and with plenty of other distractions to keep me busy (van art, homeschool, the cannabusiness we are discussing/planning on starting, and more), I just…choked. And nothing has been done in days.

I hate that. I hate that I get distracted by other stuff and wander off topic. I have a solid line of stories in me, things I want to say, stories that are clamoring to be told, and yet I allow myself to be distracted, to stop writing.

[sigh]

First world problems, right?

Analytics Sez…

Analytics Sez…

It is well known that I am not the most intuitive of individuals. I get vibes…sometimes. Weird feelings that could mean “run like hell for the hills, because she is about to blow” to a vague feeling of unease shortly before an eruption of epic proportions.

In short, I do not understand my fellow humans as well as I would like.

I’ve found myself idly wondering if I fall somewhere on the autism spectrum.

In any case, never was it more apparent than when I checked my most recent analytics from Mail Chimp.

Since getting my hand slapped by Mail Chimp (something I totally, TOTALLY deserved), I found myself leveling out with a list of around 60+ subscribers.

I can’t wait for the day when I look back at that number and smile because it is in the umpteen thousands…

And each week, when I send out my newsletter, I check my analytics. How many have opened the newsletter? How many have clicked on the different links?

Last week? I averaged over 55% open rate. The industry average is just a tad over 16%.

What does this tell me? Well…it tells me you like reading what I’ve written. At least a little bit. Maybe a lot.

But there is where the analytics end and the questions begin.

Why are they reading what I’ve written?

What  catches their attention the most?

You see, I’m trying to build readership here. And as I understand it, that means writing words others want to read. And as I continue to read 279 Days to Overnight Success by Tim Grahl, I find myself struck with the very question he asks, “What’s in it for the readers?”

And when I thought about that question I realized that I have absolutely NO idea.

I told you, I don’t understand humans very well.

So…ummm…help me out here. Stop lurking, just for today. Throw me a bone and tell me…what are you doing here? If you don’t feel comfortable posting a comment then just send me an email at shuckchristine@gmail.com.

Because I would really like to know. And you know I can use all the help I can get to puzzle this little mystery out!

 


Fan Fiction

Fan Fiction

A few weeks ago my eldest mentioned that she was going to write a fan fiction piece on the 80s movie, The Labyrinth.

She looked a little bit embarrassed about it and mentioned that it wasn’t considered serious writing by some.

I happened to disagree. Marion Zimmer Bradley, author of the Darkover series, published fans’ works that were set in her Darkover world. That was my biggest example, but there have been plenty more.

I myself have never written fan fiction. But it isn’t an elitist thing, far from it. I simply haven’t read a story or watched a movie and thought, “I know what should come next!” I have certainly had plenty of those moments after a particularly engaging book or movie of “I wonder what will happen next?!”

Perhaps it is that I have my hands full of my own stories that aren’t getting finished in an expedient manner. Perhaps I haven’t encountered the right story and had an answer to what comes next fall into my lap.

Writing is writing.

I’ve met some who only read non-fiction, or the classics, or pore over philosophical tomes. And if that is what floats your boat, then by all means, read that.

My fiction writing, to date, has been disconcertingly dystopian in form. I say disconcertingly because, well, I would prefer it wasn’t so dystopian. I fear I chase folks away before they have even given the book a chance!

My own literary tastes run from science fiction, to non-fiction, from fantasy to horror, from humor to autobiography.

I’ve never been particularly caught up in the classics, but I do enjoy collecting (and reading!) a large miscellany of fiction books written in the late 1800s.

So I guess if writing is writing, then reading is reading.

Best get to them both.

p.s. If you are interested (and you should be), you can find Dee’s fan fiction story here. It is quite good, I’m enjoying it immensely!

 


The Bodies Must Be Piling Up

The Bodies Must Be Piling Up

I think that the coroner’s office is a pretty busy place. I tried calling them on Tuesday and the woman who answered the phone told me she would have to take a message because the phone was ringing off the hook. I tried to follow up by sending an email today. By the end of the day, still no love.

The bodies must be piling up!

Meanwhile, since I’m at a standstill on Gliese 581…I could still work on it, but I really want to get that specific chapter finished and it’s undone state is putting me off from wanting to work on it at all…I picked up my Start Your Own Housecleaning Biz book and got to work.

Cleaning a house today with my eldest made me think of it. I had plotted out an outline for it a while back (read that, YEARS back) and just hadn’t gotten around to writing anything out yet.

I could write this book in my sleep I know the material I am writing about so well!

I typed up the Introduction and moved into Getting Started. That garnered me over 3,000 words in short order. Then I went ahead and popped in the contents of a handout I have on making your own non-toxic cleaning products and that popped it up to over 4,600 words for today.

I don’t hold myself to the same word count requirements that I do for fiction. Whereas my personal preference is to write at least 80,000 in a fiction book, when it comes to non-fiction I write whatever is necessary to convey the basics. I think my first book Get Organized, Stay Organized was probably around 40,000 words. The War on Drugs: An Old Wives’ Tale was probably around 60,000 words.

I guess with non-fiction it becomes more of a “just the facts” and with fiction I want something for my readers to chew on for a while.

Now wouldn’t it be a hoot if I actually DID manage to get both books written and published this year?!




Making a List…Checking It Twice…

Making a List…Checking It Twice…

After a fabulous party yesterday at our house (a birthday party for my eldest), I woke up this morning from the most wonderful dream…

I was part of some small group of people living and working in a large, mostly empty warehouse. The surroundings were sparse, but all of the people there were busy at work, creating art, cooking food, talking and laughing. In the dream, I was cocooned in blankets, in a little cubbyhole of sorts. I was warm, bundled up from the cold bite of air in the building and listening to my friends laugh and talk. There were clumps of worn out furniture near tall, opaque warehouse windows and I remember thinking that while my life was not full of luxuries, it still felt full and complete. I was surrounded by people who cared for me and I felt connected and at peace.

I think that the dream was an extension of the happiness I feel when we host these parties. So many wonderful, diverse people come to see us. One of my friends, Andy, who is gay said to me last night, “I’ve never been in such a diverse group of people, from all different backgrounds, who are so accepting and kind.”

And really that is exactly the environment we try to cultivate at the parties. It is especially wonderful when I see folks connecting outside of the parties, and know that they met at one of our parties.

In any case, it is a quiet house right now. A few minutes ago, the dogs and cats were making their needs known, but now that the dogs are outside, the cats are in, and everyone has been fed, life is once again quiet. The little one is off at a two night sleepover, the eldest and my hubby are both still asleep, and I figured this was a great time to get some writing done.

I have been amassing a list to ask a medical examiner when I reach out this next week. I have the basic idea of how an autopsy is conducted, and now I am taking specific notes that I figure only someone ‘in the know’ could answer best for me…

Questions to ask coroner:

  • If a person were to die from a ruptured stomach, which cavity would that appear in? And at what part of the stomach would the rupture most likely appear?
  • What would the overall appearance of the rupture look like? What verbage would you use to describe it?
  • What would an appendectomy scar look like (length) and where would it be located?
  • Would you take vitreous samples from both eyes or just one? What kind of findings can this give you?
  • If pseudorabies were to make the jump from pig to human, where would evidence of the virus be found (what part of the body)?
  • If death was caused by a virus, how would this be determined?
  • Where would an appendectomy scar be located and how would you describe it when listing any external scars?
  • What would be the listed cause of death? How would the death certificate be filled out?

That’s what I have so far. I will try and contact someone to answer those questions and any more I think of in the week to come.

Meanwhile, I think there are a couple of chapters I can write while I’m waiting. I’m off to do that…right after I get some yoga and stretches in…




Code Red – A Preview

Code Red – A Preview

It occurred to me the other day that you hear a lot of “I wrote x number of words today on Gliese 581: The Departure” or “Hey I’ve got eight chapters to go!”

But have I explained what the story is about? It’s setting, timeline, or synopsis?

Nope.

I realized that wasn’t very fair. Because eventually, months from now, I’m going to be crossing my fingers when I hit that Upload button. I’m going to hope you want to read what I’ve written.

So here is a synopsis…

Gliese 581G: The Departure is set in the last few years of the 21st century, some 80 years after the socioeconomic collapse of the United States and a subsequent civil war. The Reformation that followed The Collapse was a scientific renaissance, which pushed the boundaries of known planets and space, resulting in the re-discovery of the planet known as Gliese 581G, or Zarmina’s World.

Daniel Medry, along with nearly 250 bright and talented individuals, is chosen to travel the 22 light years to the planet. But shortly after their departure, there is a virus of catastrophic proportions unleashed on Earth. Highly infectious, incredibly lethal, it rips through Earth’s population, leaving no one unscathed. Not even the space stations or colonies on the Moon and Mars.

The crew members aboard the spaceship Calypso are devastated by the news of Earth. Worse, serious breakdowns in their ship systems point to one indisputable fact, someone on board wants them all dead. It is a race to discover and stop the saboteur before all lives are lost…on Earth and in space.

Sound intriguing?

If so, then click on the link for a special treat…the first chapter, Code Red, in its original first draft…

Code Red – 1st Draft

Gliese 581G: The Departure is coming soon!

Please Share

You are going to see a lot of this in the days/weeks/months to come.

Basically, I’ll try to remind you of it whenever I post. Sharing via Facebook or other social media will really help me. I know there are people out there who are fans of post-apocalyptic fiction, Sci-Fi, fantasy, the War on Drugs, or who really, REALLY need organizing help.

And I am hoping you will share my posts and spread the word.

So…please share!

I’m Doing SOME Things Right…Sort Of

I’m Doing SOME Things Right…Sort Of

I am continuing to muck my way through Tim Grahl’s book Your First 1,000 Copies. It isn’t a thick book by any means, it is rather thin and very concise.

I like that.

However, each idea takes a while to process.

  • Build a subscriber email list and start sending out newsletters – check
  • Add pop-ups to each website to get more folks to subscribe to your email distribution list – 2/3 check (for some reason, Homeschool Advocate REFUSES to let me do this – sigh)
  • Add new content – check (this is of course an ongoing production)
  • Continue to write in my manuscript – my goal but obviously needed!
  • Write in journal(s) daily – getting there, also my goal, but it helps it really does
  • Monetize my current writing more – again, my goal, but I’d rather it to cleaning toilets, and can you blame me?!

I was pleased to realize that already having the blogs in place, and folks that read them (you like me, you really do!) was one area that was already a done deal. And really, hooray for that, it is one less mountain to have to climb!

AdSense – Who Knew?!

Years ago, when I started my first blog, I immediately seized on the idea of adding AdSense ads to my blog. These give ‘per click’ income. It isn’t much, for instance, yesterday I earned two cents on my blogs. today I’ve already earned two cents and overall in the past seven days I’ve earned 15 cents.

I had forgotten completely about the AdSense ads until I looked them up yesterday. I need to fix/learn/upgrade what I’ve got out there so that they are more relevant, but I was surprised to find that I have a whopping $67.67 in the account. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to redeem until I have $100 in there. Which has lit a fire under my butt to a) get up to $100, and b) start monetizing my blogs better.

Again, I would far prefer that to cleaning toilets for a living. Just saying…

Anyway, now they have a Google Search field. Apparently, anytime someone uses it, I will earn money. So, if you feel the need to search the site, which will be linked to all three of my websites, then feel free to use the Google Search field at the top right sidebar!

Please Share

You are going to see a lot of this in the days/weeks/months to come.

Basically, I’ll try to remind you of it whenever I post. Sharing via Facebook or other social media will really help me. I know there are people out there who are fans of post-apocalyptic fiction, Sci-Fi, fantasy, the War on Drugs, or who really, REALLY need organizing help.

And I am hoping you will share my posts and spread the word.

So…please share!