Income Report – 1st Quarter 2018

You are going to read these numbers and probably…

  • feel sorry for me
  • cluck your tongue and say, “Wow, that’s, um, that’s all?”
  • ask me why I bother
  • firmly commit to never quitting your day job in order to write books
  • ask why haven’t tried my luck with a publisher

The answer would be long, tedious, and possibly short-tempered on my part – for now, I’ll simply say this…

Someday, I’m going to look back at these numbers, smile, and pat myself on the back for my persistence. I’ll remind myself that, despite the frustration and despair I felt at times, and occasionally admitted to publicly, I have surpassed all of my own expectations.

It will happen.

So below is my income report for the first three months of this year. As a reminder, Amazon pays out nearly three full months after the sales. So these totals are for November and December 2017 and January 2018. They were paid out in January through March 2018.

January 2018 (sales from November 2017) gross income: $123.30

February 2018 (sales from December 2017) gross income: $203.91

March 2018 (sales from January 2018) gross income: $127.41

Total for 1st Quarter 2018: $454.62

At this point, I’m only tracking gross income. Why? Because what I’m spending on cover design, marketing, and ads campaigns is probably eradicating my profit margin and taking it down to almost zero.

I’m still learning the marketing side of things and hope to fine-tune it over this coming year.

Writing My Future Fund

At the end of January, I started a new bank account with Goldman Sachs. It’s online and highly convenient. I just add up all of the various payments from Amazon (they send one from each country and a separate one for my paperbacks POD in CreateSpace – typically I have four in total) and then transfer that amount into my savings account. It’s also earning 1.5% interest, better than any local bank.

When my income grows to at least $3,000 per month and it holds there for at least three months OR I have $6,000 in my Write My Future savings account, then I can quit cleanings and start writing full-time. Basically, I need to have a net income of $2,000 per month to stop running my cleaning biz on the side.

I’m following my dreams – but I’m doing it in a responsible (and realistic) manner.

So when you add the total for the quarter with interest earned on the savings account, it comes out to a total of $455.19. Divide that number by $6,000 and I’m 7 1/2% of the way towards my goal.

I’m hoping that will snowball soon as my sales slowly rise.

Writing is My Secret Weapon

The other day, as I cleaned two big cleanings, back-to-back, my mind kept replaying these words…

Writing is my secret weapon.

Well, maybe it isn’t a weapon. Nor is it secret, but, well, you get my drift. Or maybe you don’t, so I will explain better.

Writing is kind of like the last frontier of exploration.

  • My husband makes the most money he can make with the education he currently has
  • I clean as many houses as my body can possibly handle right now
  • I make a little more on the side by caring for my elderly father and occasionally teaching classes
  • We can’t make money on our rental houses until they are ready to be rented (another $50-60k in renovations – or approximately 2 1/2 years and 4 1/2 years respectively to completion)

In other words, if I want more money – I need to figure out how to make my writing pay.

My writing is my secret weapon. It’s been primed, well-oiled, and assembled. Now I just need to get it out there.

Word Count and Making Words Count

I promised monthly short stories beginning in January. And I have delivered. The last one I have finished is due to go out in a day or two in the April newsletter. But then I’m out of new material. The advance planner in me is panicked. I only have a month until the next short story is due!

So I’ll probably be stopping on the manuscripts long enough to write 3-4 stories, thus calming my obsessive over-wrought “I must deliver on time!” mind.

Meanwhile, I’ve been making progress in plotting out the story arc of Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World (the sequel to Gliese 581: The Departure).

My main emphasis for the past two weeks is The Hired Gun, book one of The Hired Gun series. And I’ve identified 29 chapters, have written ten, and I’m currently at 30k words. So the book is approximately 1/3 done.

Food for Thought

I have this book in the bathroom, The Little Zen Companion by David Schiller. It’s short and sweet, which is good because I’m not looking for an opus while sitting on the throne.

I read this quote this morning and thought of writing:

“Ring the bells that still can ring.

Forget your perfect offering.

There is a crack in everything.

That’s how the light gets in.”

-Leonard Cohen-

Something to think about.

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One email per month, plus subscriber-only access to short stories that fill in the details of the vast Kapalaran Universe that exists in my mind. The Gliese, War’s End and upcoming Chronicles of Liv Rowan series are intrinsically connected to one another and you will get to see them firsthand.

Here is what my subscribers get in each monthly email:

  • The link and password to the FREE short story of the month (companion pieces to my books in the Kapalaran Universe)
  • Updates on any upcoming free book promotion and discounted ebook deals
  • A summary of all of my blog posts (I post in four different blogs on a variety of cool subjects) for the month
  • An organizing “tip of the month” (remember, I wrote this GREAT organizing book)
  • Updates on any upcoming classes I’m teaching
  • Updates on book projects

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Breaking it Down

Classic Avoidance Behavior

It’s been over an hour since I woke up – my most productive writing time – and here I am, writing a post to you.

It isn’t because I like you, well, I do, but that isn’t why I’m here. It’s classic avoidance behavior, with a lesson along the way.

I drank my coffee and read this post from 365 Tao

Stretching-both literally and metaphorically – is a necessary part of life.

 

Physically, a good program of stretching emphasizes all parts of the body. You loosen the joints and tendons first, so that subsequent movements will not hurt. Then methodically stretch the body, beginning with the larger muscle groups such as the legs and back and proceed to finer and smaller parts like the fingers. Coordinate stretching with breathing; use long and gental stretches rather than bouncing one. When you stretch in one direction, always be sure to stretch in the opposite direction as well. If you follow this procedure, your flexibility will undoubtedly increase.

 

Metaphorical stretching leads to expansion and flexibility in personal growth. A young plant is tender and pliant. An older one is stiff, woody, and vulnerable to breaking. Softness is thus equated with life, hardness with death. The more flexible you are, the greater your mental and physical health.

Which sent me to the yoga mat to stretch for 15 minutes. Believe me, I need to do that each day, I really do!

Then I sat down and, instead of working on The Hired Gun manuscript, clicked over to Pinterest. Yes, that rabbit hole of ideas from which I am unlikely to escape without creating something.

I found this lovely bumblebee wreath…

And was quite startled to see a clear pattern.

Have you ever worked your way through the learn-to-draw books? They break down a complex picture into a series of steps that begin with the most basic of vague shapes. Slowly, as you follow the steps, the odd circles or round-edged rectangles resolve into a shape, details are added, and before long you have something like this…

I know, my sketching skills are quite rough. I’m nowhere near as accomplished as my eldest. For that matter, the youngest is on the edge of surpassing me. Another year or two and I’ll be outclassed on all sides.

But that’s not the point of this post.

Breaking it Down

I was excited because the body of the creature was quite obviously made up of a few key shapes. I quickly sketched them and then added the details. Given enough time (and a few more tools, like a pencil to soften and blur) I could improve.

But the pieces are there, obvious to me now where they were not before.

Back to this in a moment.

Writing is a Journey

One of the hardest parts of being a writer was hitting that Publish button. It was a moment, at the end of a long trek, when I said, “Enough, publish it already.”

Not because it couldn’t be improved or tweaked, it will always be able to be improved and tweaked, but because at some point, it is far healthier to publish it and move on.

It isn’t perfect, that first work that you do. It can’t be. It was written by you, me, whoever – and we are fallible creatures by nature. Even the perfectionists.

Each book, however, improves. With time, dedication, persistence, and learning along the way. Writing is a journey – a road full of bumps, delays, stops to gaze at the waterfall and bears hiding in trees.

Those fucking bears, man.

Ask the Question, Then Answer It

Karen Marie Moning, a fantasy author I have truly enjoyed reading, wrote that her Fever series (of which there are now more books I must check out) arrived fully formed into her mind.

I’m jealous as hell.

The reality is, I’ve been stopped by questions, and then I’ve allowed myself to panic over it.

I can’t write. I can’t even answer the damned question! What comes next? The fuck if I know!

When I wrote Gliese 581: The Departure, as I finished the book, I found myself writing those fateful words, “Nathaniel Zradce opened his eyes,” and I knew what I was doing – but only in a very basic sense. Yes, I knew I was writing a cliffhanger, and no, I had no idea what came next.

The muse, such as it is, is a flighty, manipulative and cunning bitch. She withheld my answers on Morning, the snippet I wrote over 20 years ago for nearly ten years – before releasing it. It would later find its place in Book 2 of my War’s End series.

She cockblocked me for nearly that long on the answers to who Liv was and why she was in her great-aunt’s basement and driving her aunt’s 1971 Nova to work – and I still haven’t forgiven her for placing that snippet in Book 4 of the Chronicles of Liv Rowan series that I still haven’t finished Book 1 for. How insane is that?

But I digress.

The answers to the questions, they come faster as you continue to practice your craft. I have several questions currently rotating…

How is the tech guy distracted from doing his job and wiping the computer in question?

Is this going to be a sex scene?

A later off-shoot between these two characters?

Or is this just a one off and done?

And lurking about in the backety back of my mind are plot points for Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World. I write them down dutifully, the plots between Earth, Mars, and Gliese slowly building into a cohesive structure.

The answers come at weird times. These spinning gears in my brain, they spit out answers at random, unexpected moments. Usually while driving and oh, so inopportune. Don’t crash the car writing the note down, that would be highly counter-productive.

Answer the question. Write it down. Keep the notes together in one place.

Thank goodness I have Scrivener.

Stream of consciousness…complete.

Until next time.

Join My Subscriber List – Read Exclusive Material for Free

If you haven’t signed up for my free monthly newsletter, do it now!

One email per month, plus subscriber-only access to short stories that fill in the details of the vast Kapalaran Universe that exists in my mind. The Gliese, War’s End and upcoming Chronicles of Liv Rowan series are intrinsically connected to one another and you will get to see them firsthand.

Here is what my subscribers get in each monthly email:

  • The link and password to the FREE short story of the month (companion pieces to my books in the Kapalaran Universe)
  • Updates on any upcoming free book promotion and discounted ebook deals
  • A summary of all of my blog posts (I post in four different blogs on a variety of cool subjects) for the month
  • An organizing “tip of the month” (remember, I wrote this GREAT organizing book)
  • Updates on any upcoming classes I’m teaching
  • Updates on book projects

I will never sell/share your email address, there is no cost or upsell, and you can safely unsubscribe at any time.

Click here to sign up!

Can I…

I’m digging into my erotic thriller The Hired Gun today.

Years ago, I read an interesting series – The Deathlands – that was labeled Men’s Adventure. It was a sci-fi, post-apocalyptic future filled with mutants, a co-lead central character with psychic hair (I kid you not) and a gun-slinging man’s man as the protagonist. There were plenty of sex scenes in it as well, as I recall.

I loved it.

And while this series is most definitely not sci-fi, not post-apocalyptic (or even dystopian), I can’t help but want to include readers of both genders in it.

One part of me says, “You can’t write it to please everyone.” The other is busy pointing out that men like to read about sex too.

And in any case, that is far from the emphasis – it’s simply the gravy on top of the story.

I wrote this blurb when I was just thinking of it as an erotic thriller…

Shane Ellis is a hired gun, determined to do his job, and keep his clients alive, no matter who is trying to kill them. Shane lives by and enforces The Code, a strict set of rules that have given his clients the highest survival rate – despite the dangers they have faced. Follow The Code and you stay alive. But Shane isn’t prepared for Lila, sexy, stubborn, and determined to ignore his rules. And Lila isn’t prepared for what he will do when she breaks each and every one of them.

But the story is more than that. It has corruption, money-laundering, and a shadowy organization that we are just going to skim the surface of in the first book.

So while I’m busy writing the chapters and focusing on the plot, I really need to consider re-writing the blurb to something that might encourage guys to pick this up.

Maybe.

Or maybe I should just stick with the ladies.

Hmm.

Do guys like to read about sex?