Broken Brain and a Hard Left

Congratulations, You’re Certified

Maybe that should read certifiable. Yeah, that would be more appropriate.

Seven months ago I decided I wasn’t done. Wasn’t done with what, Christine?

Wasn’t done having/raising kids. I had felt that way for a while, but it really hit hard last year.

In truth, I’m just past the halfway mark with Em. At eleven, nearly twelve, she is itching to dive into the angst of her teen years. And I’m also post-menopausal at the early age of 47 (okay, okay, I’m almost 48), so I am pretty sure I will not be giving birth to any more kiddos.

That said, I wasn’t ready to be done with child-rearing and we set off on the adventure of becoming foster parents. Lots of paperwork, rectal exams (kidding, but only sort of) more paperwork, background checks, more paperwork, in-depth interviews, training where the instructor told us they would pee in our shoes, destroy everything we loved, kill our beloved dogs, and set fire to the house, and finally MORE paperwork.

I’m NOT kidding.

The process started in early October and ended with us signing on the dotted line with the state at the end of the first week of April. And exactly one week later, Little Miss entered our lives.

It’s been three weeks now and, whooee, what a ride it has been!

Baby Brain – It’s REAL

I have…

  • Lost sleep
  • Lost weight
  • Gained weight
  • Lost it again
  • Run over a traffic cone and dragged it two blocks before it thankfully came out from under my van
  • Forgotten how many breakables I had in my house (and still have, only now they are teetering precariously feet above toddler-sized hands)
  • Forgotten how many drawers, plants, and water features can be screwed with in my house
  • Installed latches on insides and outsides of most of our doors
  • Discovered that Little Miss is disproportionate – wearing 12-month size bottoms and 2T tops
  • Remembered how awful tantrums can be
  • Discovered that loose eyeshadow does not vacuum out of the mattress but damn, it looks great on cocoa colored skin – she glowed!
  • Been befuddled by WHY a child would not want a poopy diaper changed (she is getting better about this, though)

We have finally, FINALLY settled into a reasonable pattern of sleeping, eating and existing. However, just looking at the little tyke can be exhausting. She moves so fast!

Back on Track

Week 1 was upheaval, pure and simple. Week 2 was filled with cleanings I had no time for in the three days I struggled to get her to the required doctor’s and WIC appointments. Week 3 saw a wash over of several appointments I still didn’t have time for and now, I’m finally looking at a reasonable schedule again.

Five glorious mornings to devote to writing!

Next week is almost as good and my goals are to work on The Hired Gun and get it done. I hope to have it done by the end of summer, fingers crossed!

Chapter 2 of The Hired Gun

In case you didn’t sign up for notifications (click here it’s painless) or see it on Facebook. Chapter 2 of The Hired Gun is up and ready for your reading pleasure. I’m going to (hopefully) be posting a chapter a week and getting this sucker DONE.

At the end of it, I’m going to ask you, my loyal readers, to consider leaving a review of the book on Amazon. Tell others what you thought of it!

Close One Door, Open the Other

I’m taking the advice of friends and family and closing the door on a person who has been in my life for nearly 30 years. I have finally recognized that truth is not something she is interested in or seems capable of. Instead, she spreads her paranoid version of reality and intentionally inflicts pain. The love that I have felt for her is not returned. That is toxic – and not just to me.

No one needs that. I see no need to ever open that door again. I mourn the grandchildren I may never see but know also from reading her rhetoric that they would be poisoned from the first time she spoke of me. I have fought enough uphill battles in my day. Let them believe her or not, it is not my place nor my duty mission to fix it.

We are in agreement, none of us wants anything to do with the other. And like my ex-husband, I am profoundly relieved at the thought of never, ever having to interact with her again for any reason.

When there is nothing but pain – on either side – then that is a dead-end relationship.

But, as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens.

In the midst of a migraine and back pain and just misery over the situation, I realized something important…

I have a beautiful life.

I was reminded of it yesterday evening as I lay down on a yoga mat outside on my back porch. Zoe Keating’s “Into the Trees” played on my laptop.

In the five years that I have lived here, I’ve never done that. I’ve rarely gone onto the back porch, but it felt so nice, so peaceful.

The sun had slipped below the horizon, the temperature was perfect, the air was fresh and cool on my skin. I could hear the sounds of the city, the steady hum of the highway, and voices of others enjoying the beautiful weather. My husband came out and ran through a martial arts form as I stretched and breathed, the trees danced in the slight breeze and the bats flew overhead searching for insects.

I realized how lucky I am. I have a devoted, loving husband, I have a daughter who makes me proud every day, and who is truly loved by friends and family. Two amazing people who love me as much as I love them. I have an adorable human being in my life, a little foster daughter who will turn 2 1/2 years old on my birthday. She has the most beautiful shade of chocolate skin and a bright happy smile. Her middle name is my first name and she is left-handed, just like me!

How long we will have her, we do not know, but I have opened my arms and heart to her and have been rewarded by her smiles and sweet baby kisses and hugs. She and Emily remind me every day how fascinating the learning process in children can be.

I look forward to returning to homeschooling, but I also look forward to keeping in touch with a small army of her teachers who have truly made this year of public school so enjoyable.

I don’t have a perfect life. I challenge you to find one who does. But I have one that brings me happiness hand in hand with sorrow. I try to let go of the sorrow and focus on the beauty – it is what makes life worth living.

 

Forecasting and The Hired Gun

Forecasting Writing Income OUT of the Budget

My love of Excel spreadsheets is well known in my family. My husband and child both roll their eyes when I say, “So I’ve been crunching some numbers.”

But it is reassuring to me to do it, for a couple of reasons.

  1. I’m a planner by nature. Not one of those who is so regimented that a deviation in schedule will throw me off, but one who wants to have an idea of where I will be next year, five years from now, and at retirement age.
  2. Seeing the plans, knowing the numbers, it helps me understand what we are capable of accomplishing and what I can do within those confines.

So I run “what if” scenarios. For example…

“What if I never make any serious money writing? And in combination with that, what if I decided that in December 2021, after both of the Cottages have been renovated, I decided not to clean houses any longer.

Rather specific, but there you go.

My goal was to remove the need or the expectation of writing income from the budget and follow down that path to see if we would still be okay.

With the addition of other future rental properties in our repertoire, along with the funds to purchase them and maintain them, the answer was most certainly yes.

And I listed out every possible expense, from property insurance, to income taxes, property taxes, vacancy rate, and a generous repair budget.

My numbers are always liberal on the expense side and conservative on the income side – extra padding if you will for life’s ups and downs.

And about this time you are wondering what in the hell this has to do with writing.

For me? It has everything to do with it. Here’s what happens to me when I don’t know if there is enough money or how we will afford something…

  1. Can we afford xyz? I’m not sure if we can! How can I write? I need to figure this out!
  2. Okay, we can afford xyz, but I really think I need to assign some kind of potential income in [six months/a year/whatever] to writing income. It’s time it pays for itself!
  3. Okay, writing income is now on the budget. [stares at budget] Oh god, how am I going to make that goal? I know, I know, I need to write more, write different stuff, raise my prices, change my bio, fix my descriptions, run an ad, learn copywriting, and, and…
  4. [stares at blank screen] There’s so much to do, I don’t know where to start. But I had better get on it because it will be [six months/a year/whatever] soon. And I’ve got a budget to meet.
  5. I’ve written nothing. I’ve sold nothing. I’m doing this all wrong. [walks away from computer without writing anything].

It circles and spirals and generally degrades from there.

If I take the potential profit out of it, I think it will allow me to focus on the craft, farm out the crap I can’t figure out, and eventually be successful. To know that I don’t need the writing to be profitable frees my heart like you would not believe.

The Hired Gun

I listen to several podcasts a week while I clean houses. One was covering common myths that many authors believe – never talk about your work because others will steal your ideas (that made me laugh), Indie authors aren’t real authors (tell that to Andy Weir and Hugh Howey), and one that made me think – never post your book chapters on your website.

That last one? That is exactly the opposite of what Andy Weir, author of The Martian (yeah, the one that got turned into a movie) did. Instead of being afraid to give away his work, he actually posted it chapter by chapter, turning finally to Amazon when his readers pushed him to put it in a form they could download – like Kindle.

And after the book took off, that is when a publisher approached him and waved a ridiculously fat check in his direction. But I digress.

I decided to put The Hired Gun on this site, chapter by chapter, and just entertain my readers. Later, once it is done, I’ll give it a good round of edits, convert it into a book, and publish it through Amazon and other ebook sites, as well as CreateSpace.

I hope you will read each of the installments and be sure to comment. I like feedback, positive or negative, as they help me become a better writer, one worth reading.

Here is the link to the first chapter.

If you are interested in receiving regular updates, I’ll send one out whenever a new chapter is up, sign up with this list here. This is my ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) list, which is different from the newsletter list. I restrict my emails to my newsletter list to once per month. The Advanced Reader Copy list, however, will send an email any time there is something new to read.

You Get What You Pay For

I just started listening to the Sell More Books Show podcast which is co-hosted by Bryan Cohen. I quickly learned that he also runs a business writing book blurbs and that I had just missed the sale (darn it!) of $40 off a book blurb description.

I checked out his website and backed away from the $197 purchase price, even though it included not just a book blurb but two social media ads (something else I suck at).

I went to Fiverr, found a guy who had over 100 positive comments and chose the least expensive package. He was a nice guy, don’t get me wrong, but I should have seen the writing on the wall when his bio said, “Why hire an expert when you can get an amateur for less?”

His first attempt was bad. I had spent all of $11 and replied to him that he was overusing words (he had used the word “which” three times in the space of two sentences, and that I was looking for less of a plot outline and more of a teaser that lassoed folks in and ensured they would press the “buy” button on Gliese 581: The Departure. I told him that I wasn’t going to demand a rewrite, but that I couldn’t see using the blurb as presented.

Like I said, he was a nice guy and he offered to give it another go. The second attempt was even worse. Nightmarishly so. I clicked “Accept Order” and left private feedback that only Fiverr could see letting them know he did not know his craft, not at all, and skipped leaving negative feedback publicly. I didn’t want to offend him, but damn his work really sucked.

And today I clicked the “Buy Now” button for Bryan Cohen’s Best Page Forward book blurb. It’s going to take four weeks. I’ll let you know if it is worth it.

Best Cover Possible?

Meanwhile, I’m considering yet another re-design of the cover for War’s End: The Storm and then it’s sequel, War’s End: A Brave New World.

When it comes to Kindle Unlimited, the War’s End series pulls in around 60% of my page read income. Yet the sales for these books in ebook (non-Kindle Unlimited readers) and paperback formats is flat.

The page reads totals indicate that pretty much everyone who reads War’s End: The Storm goes on to read the sequel, War’s End: A Brave New World. So it’s keeping the readers interest for the entirety of the two 200+ page books. But it isn’t selling anywhere else. I’m guessing that I need to fix the cover and probably the book blurb.

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.

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.

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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?

Born to Write, Not Dead Yet

A Mini-Autobiography

A Facebook friend who hosts a podcast regularly puts out questions on Facebook. One of his latest ones?

Write a six-word autobiography.

And thus my title: Born to Write, Not Dead Yet

This is especially true after this past week and Round #3 of illness for the year. I have two takeaways from all this illness.

#1 – I made up for not getting a cold or flu for three years

#2 – Next fall, needle-phobic or not, I’m getting a flu shot – because this blows

And look, I figured out how to make a meme!

New Schedule

When I first put my daughter in public school, I didn’t know what to do with myself. All of those hours at home without her, what in the world would I do with myself? My schedule of cleaning clients changed and changed again, and suddenly I was working five days a week on most weeks.

And then the kiddo said, “Mama, can we go back to homeschool next year?”

And of course, I said yes. Because I know now, after six months of public schooling, that even with the best teachers (and she has some awesome ones) that we were on the right track with homeschooling after all. She’s at the expected grade level (or well above) in all subjects, she has dipped her toes into the public school environment and gotten to see what it was like, and now she is ready to return to homeschooling.

Not having to wait to go pee, or be told to not talk in the halls or lunch, and no recess breaks – public school has its drawbacks. It also had a host of fabulous teachers, and we had a wonderful experience interacting with them.

So now I needed to be ready. I examined my schedule, realized that over half of my clients were set for 9 a.m. cleanings and began sending emails and making changes.

My most creative work happens in the morning – the last thing I want is to lose that to dusting and vacuuming.

There were a few exceptions, but for the most part, my housecleanings will be in the afternoons and my mornings will be filled with writing and then in the fall, also homeschooling.

I’ve instituted my new schedule and will be continuing to work towards it in the weeks and months to come. I wanted to start now because having the schedule in place before the shift will make a huge difference.

I have been frustrated as well that I haven’t seen as much writing progress as I might have hoped.

In the evening, before shutting down and going to bed, I close Outlook, Facebook, and pretty much everything that is distracting on my computer. First thing in the morning, instead of checking my emails, I go straight into Scrivener and look at my current writing projects. I write what I can, add to the stories in some way, and keep that focus as long as possible before moving on to the other distractions of the day.

Routine – it’s what’s for breakfast.

 

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 already existing fictional works)
  • 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!

It’s the Little Things in Life

It is the little things in life that make me happy…

He Really, Really Likes Me!

My husband sent me this through Facebook the other day and said he was going to get it for me…

Because, honestly, what else besides meat flowers says “I love you the BEST?”

Flowers fade, but the memory of that tasty meat and fresh herbs…mmmm…

Big Thing

And here is a little thing that was a really BIG thing for me. I figured out how to create a book funnel page.

All…by…myself.

I feel like a grown-up!

Here is what it looks like…

I created it in Canva after much indecision, gnashing of teeth, and no small amount of colorful language. It even works! It will take you to the sign-up landing page if you click on it.

Tip: Use the Social Media 800×800 pixel object to edit to your heart’s desire. Don’t worry about making the button itself active, simply edit the photo to point to the landing page URL once you have it where you want it in your website.

Should I even tell you how stressed out this had me? I feel so technologically challenged at times. It took me a few weeks of trying to explain my predicament to a couple of other folks, offering them money to do it for me, getting zero response, and deciding “You know what? I can damned well figure this out!”

And…I…did.

I am rather ridiculously proud of myself as a result.

So there you go. Short and sweet today because my creative juices were all sunk in this two-hour-long “gotta figure this sucker out” odyssey.

Here it is again, because I remain ridiculously proud. Go on, click on it!

The Highs and the Lows

The last year has been full of some rather extreme highs and lows. For most of it, I feel a little helpless, caught on the ocean, rising and falling with the waves.

As I look at 2018, of which 1/12 of is already been gobbled up, I find myself still struggling to “figure it all out.”

 

Think Indie

Did you know Andy Weir, author of The Martian was an Indie author? So was Hugh Howey.

There are tons more and as I listen to podcasts while I clean my clients’ houses, I hear it over and over. People are getting into self-publishing not out of lack of ability or no other choice, but because of the ability to a) make more money, and b) exert more control over how their book is produced and marketed.

I hear it time and again and frankly, I agree with it. Every time I announced, “Okay, I’m going to submit this manuscript and try and get an agent, try to get this published traditionally” a hard lump formed in my chest.

It didn’t feel right, it felt wrong.

Why should I beg someone to be my agent and take a 20-30% cut of my creation?

Why should I deal with a publisher who is going to take 90% of my earnings before the agent takes out their share?

Why should I trust a publisher to market my book effectively for me when I know that only the top cut of authors get any marketing budget at all? Most get nothing.

A podcast I was listening to recently talked about one of Dan Brown’s books coming out on e-book recently, right before a new release. The publisher did a big promotion on the ebook in anticipation of the new book release, but didn’t bother to add a chapter from the new book as a teaser in the end or even provide a link to pre-order the new book. And Dan Brown is a very popular author! If they couldn’t get that basic marketing principle down for Dan Brown, how bad would they screw over a relative unknown?

So, thanks but no thanks, I’ll stick to working as an Indie author. I’ll continue to educate myself and improve not just my writing, but all aspects of the Indie author life – book cover design, formatting, editing, and marketing.

Imposter Syndrome

I have been listening to several podcasts that focus on marketing and more for Indie authors. One recently covered imposter syndrome, which I think that most people feel on a regular basis, no matter how experienced or talented they might be.

I struggle with it, just like anyone else. It has gotten better over the years – I can remember that shortly after I had written and published the second book I actually asked my friends on Facebook if I was officially an author. I had been one for two years at that point!

One thing that helps is getting reviews on my books. I check my Author Page on Amazon regularly and so I notice when new ones come in. This review just came in on my two War’s End books…

In case that is hard to read, the reviewer wrote:

“This is book one of a two book series filled with well-defined and well loved characters. Yes, it’s dystopian in nature and yet it could take place in any time or in any place. What designates this book as excellent is the author’s vision of her characters, their actions, and their stories. Her writing transcends the commonplace and rises to the level of prose. In fact, her choice of words, phrasing, and meaning sometimes brought me to tears of wonder.

The story, itself, is more than absorbing, having all the usual attributes of great literature, i.e., joy, sorrow, heartbreak, action and suspense. After finishing both books, I can clearly state that these volumes are not to be missed. You’ll find yourself heavily invested in the characters and their actions, trying to read quickly to see what happens and yet slowing down to catch the nuances of the author’s prose.

Don’t miss these books!”

Whenever I get to thinking that I don’t have anything original to say and that my writing is stilted and generally sucks, I think I’ll just need to look this review up and I will feel better.

bad grammar – I did NOT create this meme!

Figuring Out This Damned Thing Called Marketing

Have you ever thought that it would be fun to ride a bucking bronco? Yeah, me neither. I hear those bastards are rather wily. They will trick you into thinking they are going one way and it turns out to be the other.

Marketing is just as wily and volatile.

I’m climbing up a real tall mountain right now as I try and wrap my brain around it. I am learning to:

  • Write good ad copy (it’s harder than you might think)
  • Utilize correct ad placement and timing
  • Understand Impressions vs. Clicks vs. Purchases and what a good ratio mix is
  • Find a mix of free and paid marketing that works for me (it feels like shooting into the darkness)

I’m in the process of reading several books on the subject…

Some of these are very short, others not so much. In other words? I’ve just started on the mountain. I also decided to scale back and focus on one book at a time until I get the hang of this marketing thing. So I’m focusing on Gliese 581: The Departure for now.

I’m also considering placing the two War’s End books into a “boxed” set for the Kindle and marketing it for $6.99. The individual books are priced at $3.99. If I do that, it will probably be in March or later.

When the Hell Will I Get Back to Writing?

Oh, yeah, that.

Um…

So after I finish this post I need to write a ghost story with a family tree and a veterinarian for NYC Midnight. It’s a short story competition and it’s due on Friday.

….

….

Yeah, so I’m hoping to make a goal that now that I’ve run out of month (I designated January to be a “learn about marketing” month) I will dedicate February to writing something.

What are you going to write about, Christine?

….

…..

Is that a squirrel? Wait, that’s a bunny! See the bunny?

[runs away from the computer]

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 already existing fictional works)
  • 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!

Chores First, Marketing Second, and Then…

Chores First

They aren’t really chores. Writing isn’t a chore for me, but a freedom of expression.

Okay, all bullshit aside, sometimes it is a chore. But not in this case.

Pre-planning me, I need to feel like I have at least 6-12 months of short stories in the can and ready. So I’ve been working on those.

As you may recall, these short stories are for my email subscribers only. I am rolling out one of these short stories each month. So far I have written Forward Reach (January), 99 Problems (February), Reek of Bone (March), and I’m currently working on Incident in Philly (April).

All of these little stories provide back stories on the fiction books – from the War’s End series, Gliese, and the upcoming Chronicles of Liv Rowan series.

Marketing Second

I’ve seen my page reads flatline in the past week and that has me concerned. I wasn’t making a lot of money with Kindle Unlimited page reads, but it was at least some money.

As is my way, I went through the typical “What am I doing? This writing thing isn’t working, I’m a failure!” This happens with regularity. That said, it happens less often than it used to. I imagine that most people deal with a fear of failure and on a regular basis. Imagine if we didn’t. Imagine if we weren’t shackled by fear, insecurities, and even a healthy dose of self-loathing.

I’ve spent far too much time in that realm and I have no intention of returning.

I bought a book on Amazon – Mastering Amazon Ads, it arrived today and I’ve already read the first three chapters and created my initial ads which are currently pending review. I heard about it on The Creative Penn’s podcast and thought “I must have this book!” You can find the specific episode here.

Every time I think I’ve got it together and understand all of the ins and outs of being a creative entrepreneur, I’m smacked on the nose and reminded that I still have a way to go.

As for the Rest

As soon as I can possibly get through this learning curve, I want to return to writing. I’m battling a cold and a calendar full of appointments, but I hope that the dam breaks this weekend and I can refocus on writing.

I’ll wrap up  Incident in Philly and get ready for NYC Midnight’s Short Story Challenge to start on the 26th. There’s always plenty to do around here!

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 already existing fictional works)
  • 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!

1/10 of the Way There

This past November, I began marketing my books in earnest.

And I saw results. Not earth-shattering, quit-your-job-because-you-are-an-official-writer-now results, but still. Results.

So for the entire year of 2017, I earned $2.32.

And so far this year, I expect that I will be paid $114.77 for November’s earnings in late January and $180.59 for December’s earnings in late February.

And I have to say, that is rather exciting!

Right now, I earn around $1,800 per month cleaning houses. I could make more, but I limit myself to one cleaning per day, and that is quite enough for this aging body, let me tell you!

The BIG GOAL is to replace my monthly income of cleaning houses with a monthly income from writing books. So, according to December’s earnings, I’m 1/10 of the way there.

I broke it down the other day and figured that my earnings in December had increased over November by 156%. And that if I could sustain that amount of increase, I would be able to say “Mission Accomplished” by July of this year. But instead, recognizing that the rate of growth I might hope for is not necessarily the one that I will see, my monthly earnings goals for this year are as follows:

$315 for January earnings

$450 for February earnings

$585 for March earnings

$720 for April earnings

$855 for May earnings

$990 for June earnings

$1,125 for July earnings

$1,260 for August earnings

$1,395 for September earnings

$1,530 for October earnings

$1,665 for November earnings

$1,800 for December earnings

Is it possible?

Could it happen sooner?

All Into a Special Savings Account

When my first payment of the year comes in from Amazon, I’ll open a new savings account. I’ll call it my FFCH (Freedom From Cleaning Houses) account!

I’m planning on putting every penny I earn this year into this special savings account. I figure that, before I can stop cleaning houses, I need at least three months worth of income ($5,400) AND at least $1,350 (3/4 of my current cleaning income) monthly earnings coming in from writing. That would give me a full year of savings to tap on a monthly basis if needed to make up any shortfall.

So that’s the goal. It’s on the board so it has to be real!

REALLY Big Goals

Obviously, $1,800 per month is not my ultimate goal. I would love to make more and I think I can, by doing the following:

  • Continue to produce content that readers will enjoy by:
    • Publishing a new book this year
    • Monthly short stories for my email subscribers only
  • Broaden my readership by:
    • increasing my email subscriber list through marketing and word-of-mouth
    • submitting short fiction to sci-fi magazine markets
    • participating in one or more short story contests
    • increasing my book distribution to other markets
    • marketing my writing through social media
  • Dialing down on marketing that works
    • giveaways and special price promotions
    • social media posts
    • getting my work promoted through book bloggers, radio interviews, et cetera
    • educating myself through podcasts and reading

I’ll be updating you on my progress as the months go by.