Time for a Little Audio

No Greater Thrill

I have to say that it is truly thrilling to hear the words I have written spoken aloud. And Ellie Gossage, my narrator for Hired Gun, is doing a fabulous job of it. So are the other narrators, as they work through my books. I hope to offer five of my books in audiobook form within the next month.

There have been delays, but it looks like Hired Gun will be ready by mid-April at the latest.

Chapter One

For your listening pleasure, here is the first chapter of Hired Gun. Listen to it and let me know what you think. Interested in learning more? Stay tuned!

Chapter 1 – Blackmail Fail

Scrrritttchh!

Imagine the sound of a needle on vinyl. I know this might be hard for anyone under forty, but hopefully you’ll get the drift.

I’ve been doing it again. And the stress has been building as a result. I realized it yesterday as I thought, “How can I feel so overwhelmed when I’m doing LESS than before?”

Different Kinds of LESS

It’s true, I’m doing less. I no longer teach community education classes, my elderly father is gone so I don’t have him as a responsibility any longer. I’m unschooling the tween, which means she usually tells me what she will be studying for the day, and until recently, it had been winter, so no outside gardening duties.

I’m doing less, so why does it feel overwhelming?

Not Learning, Not Writing Side Projects

Over six months ago, I signed up for Mark Dawson’s Ads for Authors. And because I didn’t have the $700 up front, I agreed to $75 payments over the course of twelve months. It’s a series of video courses, designed to be watched and implemented over the period of a few months. So far, the course has restarted at least twice since I signed up. I have watched only a few videos.

What do these videos teach me? Well, hopefully how to truly understand what the hell I’m doing with Amazon ads, Facebook ads, and more. And considering that my advertising on AMS has been averaging anywhere from 27% (that was really good) to 129% (yup, that means I’m operating in the negative) of my sales income, I really need to be doing better.

I Want it Right Now

I realized that I’m creating a nasty little trap for myself. I want to quit cleanings so bad that I’ve found myself in the “write more, more, MORE” loop.

It needs to be the “write smart” loop.

Write smart, work smart, and what I have in print RIGHT NOW could very possibly make all the difference in the world. And even if it doesn’t, with the education I will have the foundation I need to make the next book, or the next one after that, the success I need it to be to get what I want.

I found myself saying the same thing, “If I just write enough books…”

In the Indie world, there is certainly the mass production model. Crank out enough books over a short amount of time and you might very well make the dollars you need to succeed. There is also the learned model – one based on understanding ads, how they work, and using them and other devices (subscriber lists, online presence, book funnels, and more) to bring in readers and fans.

And I realized that I’ve tried to have a foot in each pool, without the learning that goes with it.

So…Scrrritttchh!

This is a record player (for all of you millennials who may have seen the arcane construction and wondered why the hell us old folks have it around still)

Priorities in order:

  • Finish Better Choices
  • Write enough short fiction to last me through the end of this year (8 stories, doled out on a one story a month basis)
  • Go through Mark Dawson’s course from beginning to end
  • Finish Dave Chesson’s course (that I started 8 months ago – that one was a freebie)
  • Read “Joy of Writing Sex”, “How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy”, and at least two of the other four books on writing that I recently bought and have not read.
  • Go through the four courses I purchased on Udemy and have never taken and if they still apply, take them.
  • Return to my book writing

As I outlined my plan of action to my husband this morning, he had this to say:

This is what you do. You work like a madwoman on one task and are consumed with guilt over not doing the other thing, whatever that might be, while doing task one. It makes for a high level of dissatisfaction on a regular basis.

Well, yikes. When you say it like that…

Time Limit

I’m going to give it a month. The world will not fall apart if I stop for one month and get some learning done. Then, if it still feels appropriate, I’ll return to the production model – hopefully with a decent amount of knowledge under my belt.

Meanwhile…

I’m starting to receive the chapters of my books turned into audiobooks. It is a rather heady experience to hear someone else read something you have written. I can’t wait to share them with you!

Murphy’s Law

Who the Hell Was Murphy, Anyway?

That guy Murphy, was a real futurist. He could see it coming like no one else could.

I sort of hate him.

And every time I make plans, he’s there, just waiting to trip me up.

So Goeth Editing

When I assigned a week to edit 37 chapters by reading them aloud to my husband, I thought I was being conservative. But I forgot that we have children (how does one forget that???) and that he is also the president of our local neighborhood association (which means meetings upon meetings).

In any case, the editing has been going slowly. I have 14 chapters left to read out loud. I’m going to try my best to get seven done today and seven more tomorrow.

Writing…or Not

Writing seems to be problematic right along with editing. I need to finish Better Choices the short story I want to release along with Hired Gun and I’ve not been grabbing those opportunities to write as much as I should.

Today is Wednesday and typically a great day for writing since it is homeschool co-op and I’m normally in the Quiet Room typing away. However, today is my day to volunteer for door duty down at the entrance. Folks keep coming in and the door has to be opened by hand each time. I thought I would just have half an hour of work and then I would be scot-free the rest of the day.

Um…no.

Damn you, Murphy!

Somehow, some way, I need to finish Better Choices by the end of tomorrow because on Friday I must begin work on Glass Forest!

Audiobook Extravaganza and Teenagers

This week has unfolded into the following focal points:

  • Creating audiobooks
  • Dealing with hormonal teenagers
  • Beginning the official countdown
  • Juggling Airbnb renovations
  • House to-do’s?!

I will explain…

Audiobook Extravaganza

I’ve been bumbling about for years. This is well-known if you have read my blog posts for any time at all. But after years of slinging pasta at the wall, I know what I want. I want to write (and hopefully sell) lots of books. And after spending the past 18+ months listening to podcasts by Joanna Penn, Mark Dawson, Dave Chesson, and others, I know how important audiobooks can be for getting your books out there to all readers (and listeners) of books.

I logged onto Findaway Voices and honestly, the prices for narrators made me nearly pass out. So, not sure if I would do any better, I went to ACX.com to see if their prices were any better.

They have different income brackets you can choose: $0-$50 per finished hour, $50-$100 per finished hour, and up.

I chose the $50-$100 per finished hour, put five of my books up (Get Organized, the War’s End series, G581: The Departure, and Hired Gun) and opened them up for auditions.

I’ve made offers to three different narrators for four of the books at this point. Two have accepted, and I’m waiting on one other to respond. I offered them $75 per finished hour, which is mid-level, but means I’ll pay anywhere from around $450 for my organizing book to right around $1,000 or more for each of the longer fiction books.

It’s a huge investment, but I’m beginning to see it this way:

Book production costs include:

  • My time working out the basic details/storyline of the book (10 hrs @ $50/hr = $500)
  • My time writing the book (100 hrs @ $50/hr = $5000
  • Book cover creation ($400)
  • Editing/proofreading services ($500)
  • Reading aloud/final edit by me (10 hrs @ $50/hr = $500)
  • My time or a professional’s creating the back blurb and ad copy ($200)
  • Audiobook creation ($1,000)

Total cost: $8,100 (obviously this is estimated)

It’s the same as expecting to pay for a computer, for internet, or for word processing software. These things don’t come for free. And I refused to continue to half-ass it any longer.

Half-assing things means that you continue to have problems. I know this homeowner who cuts corners on EVERYTHING and as a result, has problems with EVERYTHING. Nothing works like it is supposed to, everything is a hassle, and all of the cheap repairs are costing them money every day that the property doesn’t work right.

My work will no longer be half-assed. I will take the time to do it right, to invest in the best book it can possibly be, and NOT accept a “well, it’s okay for now, I’ll fix it later.”

Miss Grumpypants studying math on Khan Academy

There’s a Lot of ‘Teening Going On Around Here

This morning. Whew. I’ll tell you, that 12-year-old of mine is really showing her hormonal side. We ended up having a long talk about how hormones affect not just our bodies, turning girls into women capable of bearing life, but also how those same hormones affect our emotions, or thought processes, and more.

I had to tell her that right now, her body and brain were dealing with a flood of hormones and that it would make her half-crazy, convinced everyone was either deliberately trying to drive her insane or else they were terminally stupid. Having dealt with it for 34 years until blissfully experiencing menopause at age 46, I had the wealth of my experiences behind me, aware of just how awful puberty and PMS in general can be.

“We pay a price for being able to bring life into the world,” I told her, “No one told me these things, no one helped me understand what was happening to my mind and body. I had to figure it all out on my own and it took decades before I figured it out.”

And it’s true. It wasn’t until my late 30s that I thought to chart my periods and figured out that Days 18-22 of my cycle were the worst emotionally. I wish I could go back and see if I ended up quitting jobs during those times, or lashing out at others. I also suspect that I had PMDD, a very extreme form of PMS. Unfortunately, I didn’t figure that one out until I had gone through menopause.

By the time we talked, and I described many of the emotions and thought processes I experienced in the throes of PMS or PMDD, Em nodded, understanding me better, as well as herself. She smiled then, relieved to have a better understanding of it.

Understanding it means she has better tools for recognizing it and handling it better next time.

This was yesterday…

It’s Official – 514 Days to Go

I finally pulled up a day/date calculator and input the following date: July 31st, 2020

That’s the day I want to stop cleaning houses and focus solely on writing and running our Airbnb properties.

I make approximately $2,000 per month cleaning houses right now. So I need to replace that income with book sales and page reads and audiobook sales to the tune of:

$111 per day in sales ($111 x 30 days x 60% (40% of income goes to advertising) = $1,998)

Currently I’m earning $15 per day in sales (so far this month), so I need to increase it by a multiple of at least 10, possibly 11. And I have 514 days left to do it in.

Otherwise, I’ll be 50 years old and still cleaning houses. And there’s nothing wrong with cleaning houses. Hell, I find aspects of it quite enjoyable and the work is rewarding, but I’d rather focus on other things. It’s time for a change.

Juggling Airbnb Renovations

We have a contractor working on Cottage West right now. He’s focusing on the gas right now, with the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC to follow. After that, we have an insulation guy and we are currently taking bids on drywall. The rest of it, painting, the bathroom floor, refinishing the bathtub and installing fixtures into the bathroom and kitchen will be on us.

We should be seeing drywall go in by late April and I’m hoping that we can be open for business by mid-June.

Meanwhile, at Cottage East, we should see new windows and the siding installed by late March, early April. After that, we will have the electric box put in by Mid-April, allowing us to install an alarm inside to ensure there are no break-ins until we have the funds to work on the project again next year. Although, if we can swing it, I think I would like to see the demo of the interior walls happen this year as well. It will depend on how we feel after we build a fence along the entire front of the property!

All the Rest

I have Hired Gun back from my proofreader and I’m reading it out loud to my husband and making corrections as I go. There’s nothing quite like reading the book out loud to catch those odd, not-so-obvious errors.

I’m also hoping to have Better Choices finished soon. That will be the freebie that only those who read Hired Gun and sign up for my newsletter will get to read.

And with all that…back to writing I go!

Making It Real

Back to Reality

It’s good to have friends. It’s even better to have ones that tell you how it is, without worrying about your ego or offending you.

I was writing a scene for “Loved and Lost” a short story written especially for my subscribers, and I had a scene where the main character hears gunfire in the distance, realizes his woman is in danger, and drops everything to run to her.

Five miles.

On foot.

Towards gunfire.

It’s a majestic scene, full of emotion, anticipation, danger.

One virile, ex-military hunka hunka running to save his love from the baddies. He’s got his rifle in his right hand and his K-Bar (a military knife popularized by movies and tv) in his left hand, moving through the brush, sexy and lethal.

Whew, wow, well that did it for me.

Hold everything.

Enter friend, stage left. Guy has been overseas, seen combat, and he writes…

“No one just runs around with a K-Bar other than fools who watch too much tv.”

Cue the scratch of the needle across the vinyl record.

Suddenly I see what my friend sees. The virile, ex-military guy tripping, the knife flying from his grasp only for him to impale himself upon it or shoot himself in the head with the rifle he’s got his finger on the trigger of.

Literary Love

And then I heard back from my editor/proofreader friend. She had been kind enough to turn around an 80k word proofing gig in less than five days and sent it back to me full of praise.

I told her she was awesome and she wrote:

Oh honey I don’t think you understand. I have missed proofing for you!
It’s always my pleasure and your smut is excellent. A perfect mixture of romance and naughty.

I do proofread a fair amount of this kind of thing and yours is excellent! I am going to laugh so hard when this makes more money than all your other stuff b/c I remember us talking about you doing this!

So that all made me incredibly happy. I’ve gone through the edits, and now I’m giving the book one more serious read-through, out loud, before sending it off to Amazon for publication.

Hired Gun – Available on March 31st!

With those last edits in place in just a few days, I will be looking for ARC readers. Are you interested? An ARC reader reads the early copy of the manuscript, and…

  • Might find errors, typos, or inconsistencies that the author and editor missed
  • Provides personal feedback to the author
  • Is highly encouraged to leave an honest review of the book on Amazon

If you are interested, please contact me at: shuckchristine(at)gmail.com and I’ll be happy to send you a copy in pdf, rtf, epub, or kindle formats.