Look Ma! It’s Working!

Look Ma! It’s Working!

I have approximately 48 hours left in Facebook jail to go. As the hours and days of my six day sentence have ticked by I’ve spent much of that time writing in my blogs, reading about marketing tips and tricks, crafting tweets on Twitter, and obsessively (oh yes, OBSESSIVELY) checking my stats on Kindle Unlimited.

I have to say that, for me, Kindle Unlimited appears to be the way to go. To be able to offer your book for sale through KU, you have to check that box for KDP Select and agree to not market your book elsewhere.*

*Don’t try to be sneaky and get around it, they WILL find out and then ban you from selling on Amazon.

Every morning (and sometimes multiple times during the day) I have been checking the reports section. It looks like this:

The top graph is actual ebooks delivered. See the blue lines? Those indicate free books. I gave away over 1,400 in five days, so that massive number dominates and you can’t actually see the ebooks sold in the days since. I only sold four, but that has netted me $7.87 in royalties.

Let’s talk about that little number for a moment. I am charging $2.99 for the ebook and getting a 70% royalty for it from Amazon due to exclusivity. If I published through a traditional publisher, the most I would get on any paperback sale would be around 90 cents to one dollar. Instead, I’m getting twice that.

The second graph is Kindle Unlimited page reads. Readers sign up and pay $9.99 per month to be able to read “all you can eat” of the thousands of books in the KU section. Amazon pays authors $.00488 per page read, so my Gliese book is approximately 310 pages long or $1.51 once it is read cover to cover.

Write a shitty book that no one finishes? You will make little or no money. I say little or no because I believe that the reader has to make it to at least the 25th page before Amazon will begin crediting the pages read so far. So if you write an unbelievably shitty book and 90% of folks make it to page ten and quit, you get ZERO for those folks and only get paid for that last ten percent. And did those folks like it? Will they write a nice review? Or even finish it?

In any case, you get my point.

And being that I’m obsessive, especially about money and where it is going and how much is coming in, I created this little chart in Excel that I can update daily…

You will notice that folks started reading the book through the KU program on Day 2 of my free giveaway for Gliese 581: The Departure. I ran the free book giveaway from 11/1 through 11/5. On 11/6 through 11/9 I was promoting both Gliese and War’s End: The Storm. On the 10th, early in the morning, is when I managed to land myself in Facebook jail by posting 70 links to  War’s End: The Storm in a rather quick manner (just under an hour).

Now the sequel to  War’s End: The Storm – War’s End: A Brave New World has not been marketed at all – and yet is has page views. Here is a view of just that book…

So, $2.03 in page reads. Income grown organically by writing a book that someone found compelling enough to read the sequel to immediately after finishing the first.

All in all, my tiny little simple goal of making $1 per day for this month looks like it will be exceeded if things keep going the way they are. I have two more days left to serve before I can return to marketing my books through the promo groups on Facebook.

Two more days to craft at least four different book blurbs for each of my books. Two more days to Tweet away and plan my next promo days. And possibly, if I can fit it in, actually write during that time as well.

As I reach the halfway point in the month, my goals for November are:

  • Reach and exceed an average income of $1 per day on my writing
  • Build my Twitter, Facebook page, author website and newsletter audience
  • Market daily
  • Write daily

What are yours?!

 

Details, Details, and Yes, More Details

Details, Details, and Yes, More Details

Mentally I’ve been running through the list ever since Facebook booted me from posting any book promos for six days.

This mental list includes answers to HOW I’m going to take my income from $1 per day to $15 (or more).

  • Professional book covers (thanks to Canva.com, I can do these myself)
  • Re-write all of my book blurbs to be eye-catching and intriguing
  • Slot War’s End: The Storm for a shorter free book giveaway on 12/1 and 12/2
  • Edit and update my two non-fiction books Get Organized, Stay Organized and The War on Drugs: An Old Wives Tale and then release them a month apart, doing Kindle free days for both of them.
  • Add several chapters to Schicksal Turnpike to turn it from a prequel into a PREQUEL* for The Chronicles of Liv Rowan
  • Finish The Hired Gun, get it edited and get it out there. Erotica sells!
  • Market, write, market, write – rinse and repeat

*I’ve had a couple of beta readers get back to me and say that they wanted to see more about the other world I referenced in passing. I’m going to try and take that to heart and make it happen.

Facebook Says I’ve Been Bad

[sigh]

So I may have gotten a little ambitious on posting on the Facebook promo groups I’m a member of. I think I posted in about 80 of them yesterday – 20 times for Gliese 581: The Departure and around 60 times for War’s End: The Storm before a message came up on the screen…

The message is from today – it seems I still have five days to go before I can post in Groups on Facebook.

Let this serve as a warning to others that, even though I remained in the rules for each of these groups (they all were promotion groups that state “post away” and “no limits”), Facebook was not okay with it.

It looks like I’ll need to do some investigating on the maximum of allowed posts so that I don’t trip their alarms and get banned permanently.

What’s worse is that it appears to be on ALL Facebook groups, including sites like Real Northeast – the community FB page I frequent. It won’t let me post there either – not any post – so I’ve really ticked the great god of Facebook off.

Income Goals

Income Goals

These Dreams

As soon as I typed those two words, I suddenly had Heart’s lyrics running through my head…

These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life
These dreams that sleep when it’s cold outside

But the reality is, I’m excited. It feels as if I woke up finally. I have FIVE books on Amazon. FIVE. Why am I not promoting the hell out of them?

And with just a few minutes a day of marketing on the Facebook groups, I’m seeing results. And that is just from ONE of those books I’ve written.

Now granted, according to everyone who has read it and reported back to me, Gliese 581: The Departure is probably my best book yet. However, letting the others sit out there, languishing, is silly. And now that I see that, I’m making some changes around here!

One Dollar a Day

“For just one dollar a day, your donation can feed a starving child in Africa…”

Apparently, lyrics aren’t the only thing bubbling out of my brain when I write subtitles.

But seriously, I need to start somewhere, right?

My huge short-term goal is to replace the income I make cleaning houses (currently anywhere from $1300 – $1650 per month) with income from my writing. But I have no idea how long that will take – weeks, months, years?

So I am starting with a far more simpler goal – I want to make $1 per day on my writing.

Kindle Unlimited to the Rescue!

Halfway through the free book giveaway on Gliese 581: The Departure, I noticed that that second line on the picture above, which indicates pages read through Kindle Unlimited had suddenly shown movement. Someone who was a member of Kindle Unlimited must have seen my book and instead of clicking on the Read Book for Free button, had instead simply began reading it under the Kindle Unlimited section.

This meant income for me.

How much income?

Well, not a huge amount in the bigger scheme of things – around $.004 per page. Yep, four tenths of a cent per page. But that has added up. In fact, it has added up to over $1.00 per day so far in November.

In the past 20 minutes I watched today’s number of pages read jump from 168 to 184 – so someone is reading Gliese 581: The Departure at this very moment, somewhere in the world.

And here is where I think I’m going to make my money.

The Nitty Gritty

I’ve already put it in the budget – so that means it exists as an expectation, a goal, and a driving force to get that marketing done every day. I’ve got a list of 368 Facebook pages I can promote in. Not all of them apply, some are for specific genres, some only allow book promotions on certain days or a certain number per day or week, so it isn’t me flooding the FB groups, all 368 of them, each day. More like 20-40 per day. And it takes about 20 minutes to do. I’ve got it down to a science of copying, pasting, updating my files and moving on.

And that’s just Facebook. I’m also reading up on other angles of attack to see what else I can get into. Podcasts focusing on authors, that’s going to be a big one.

Bigger Goals

One dollar a day is just the start. It’s a goal that I can accomplish in a short amount of time and it will also give me an idea of how quickly I can accomplish Goal #2 – Five dollars per day ($150/month), which I have set in my future budget as beginning in April 2018.

I guess another way to look at it would be that I will be trying to add another $1 per day on to my income each month. December $2/day, January $3/day, February $4/day, March $5/day – with at least a month of leeway in case things don’t move that quickly.

Goal #3 then expects $10 per day ($300/month) by October of next year and then Goal #4 would be $50 per day ($1,500/month). I don’t have a date expectation on that last one, but it will coincide with me stepping away from cleaning houses and instead focusing entirely on writing for my monthly income.

The end goal would obviously be a much higher amount than just $1500 per month in writing income, but I like to keep my short-term goals small and achievable. After all, I’m talking about taking my current income of $1 per day to $50 per day in a rather short timespan, maybe less than two years.

In short, I think that it is achievable and rather exciting to finally be turning my sights onto writing for a living!

Broken Brain

Broken Brain

I’m pretty sure my brain is broken.

Yep, yep, broken for sure.

I will explain…

Why Did I Think That?

Yesterday I mentioned that I had discovered Canva.com and was all revved up over re-designing my book covers. I started with the two War’s End novels and then tackled The War on Drugs: An Old Wives Tale.

I thought, “Okay, I’m done.”

And another side of my brain said, “But wait, there’s still Get Organized, Stay Organized. Why not re-do that cover too?”

And I swear to you, that first part of my brain answered, “Oh, that’s nearly ten years old, no one is interested in reading THAT.”

Why not?

Well, I don’t know, I mean…

Do people still need organizing help?

Umm, yes?

And did or did you not write an organizing book?

Um, yeah, I did.

So….?

And I have to wonder if it isn’t some messed up, here let me screw with my own head and belief in me yet AGAIN and turn my back on something that could actually make me money. I mean, heck, my fellow writer/homeschool mommy friend keeps putting out new editions of her book Make Money to Write About Your Kids. Now obviously, she is writing about a market that is constantly changing.

But things have changed for the organizing scene as well. And why not come out with a better, more professional edition? And why not try to get more reviews and more sales? Why spend all of that time on a book just to wipe my hands clean and move on a few months after it was published?

Time to get to work updating and editing!

I’m In Love…With Canva.com

I’m In Love…With Canva.com

I recently started listening to podcasts while I clean houses. It is literally the ONLY time when I can pay attention to a podcast and actually get any real information out of it. The rest of my life is filled with input/output – that blast of information I’m either putting on the page, looking up, or dealing with the kiddo and other family matters.

And as we move into winter and I know there will be zero Airbnb prep going on, I decided to turn my focus from the Get Paid for Your Pad author Jasper Ribbers and TED Talks, and focus instead on marketing and writing tips.

Cue Joanna Penn, author of How to Market Your Book and host of the Creative Penn podcast.

Having been used to Jasper Ribbers shorter podcast, all of a half hour less in length, I was taken aback by Joanna just talking for a good twenty minutes before finally getting to her guest. However, in the middle of all of that talking she mentioned Canva.com. And I jotted a note on my phone to check it out today.

I’m glad I did, and sort of wish I hadn’t at the same time! I’ve spent most of the day working on it. And I’ve been up since 3:30 this morning!

I began by re-designing my War’s End covers…

And then I moved on to the sequel to The Storm, A Brave New World…

Aaaaannnnddd that led me to tackle The War on Drugs: An Old Wives Tale…

I’m going to do some quick revisions and updates on An Old Wives Tale before re-releasing it.

And now I’m considering doing the cover for Get Organized, Stay Organized as well…

It sure could use it, don’t you think?!

I just whipped this puppy up…

I frigging LOVE this cover! I would totally buy this book!

Canva has premium options, as well as free and low-cost images. So far I’m in for all of $11. The site is relatively easy to use and I really like how the book covers are looking. If nothing else, they look far more professional.

What do you think?

 

Giveaways, Marketing and Mindful Eating

Giveaways, Marketing and Mindful Eating

It’s just a whole hodgepodge of stuff, isn’t it?

Kindle Giveaway

My five-day free Kindle giveaway of Gliese 581: The Departure is over, but the regular price is only $2.99. Quite the bargain! And keep in mind that Gliese is part of the Kindle Unlimited program.

During the giveaway, at least 913 copies were downloaded. I kept posting links on the Facebook groups I belong to – all 350 of them (yeah, that was a lot of copying and pasting) – and I also paid a guy on Fiverr to promote to a group of subscribers he has, some 4800 in all.

Marketing and Making My Writing Pay

See, I have this dream. The dream isn’t particularly big, but right now it seems so impossible. My dream is to make enough money to not have to clean houses anymore.

Right now, I make around $1,500 per month, more or less, to clean houses. So a straight up “I need to make $1,500 per month on a regular basis writing” is the obvious goal.

Right now? I make less than five dollars per month on my writing.

So I have a way to go on this goal!

Part of it is marketing, and part of it is writing. Write more, have more to sell. Market more, actually get the word out there about my books, sell more copies.

And I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, and again, and again – until my mind and my “what should I focus on today” mindset catches up.

Write.

Market.

Repeat.

Mindful Eating

I’ve written about my choice to go with direct primary care, also known as concierge care, instead of obtaining health insurance. I did this back in May and for a total $80 per month, both my daughter and I have access to a doctor we know and like.

And for those of you who, like us, have to choose between paying the bills and eating, and being able to afford crummy, overpriced health insurance – direct primary care has really made a difference.

And I don’t know about you, but having the option to call my doctor and ask, “Hey, the kiddo has an earache, do you have time tomorrow to look at her?” and be able to see a doctor, for no additional cost past my monthly fee, is fantastic.

If you are interested in direct primary care, contact Allison Edwards at KCDPC and tell her I sent you.

I received her monthly newsletter the other day and she mentioned she had a blog, so of course, I followed the link and found this great post on mindful eating. And it was quite timely. I just got on the scales today and achieved my 4th weight loss goal – “Get it below 205.” I hope to be below 200 by the end of the year, even with the holidays.

I will be taking one lesson from the post that I have NOT been doing – and that is trying to eat slower. It can be difficult, especially when my dad and I are clashing. All I want to do is eat and get out of there, so I gulp my food down. But if I can slow down, that could also help with my weight loss.

Further Marketing Madness

Further Marketing Madness

I’ve long joked that I clean houses because I’m a writer. “The two are directly related!” I quip. And many of my clients are also some of the first people to get to read my books.

I just don’t want them to be the ONLY people reading my books.

And if Hugh Howey, the author of Wool can do it, then so can I. And quite honestly, I’m tired of waiting for the writing ship to sail in, give me those dollars I’ve been dreaming of, and whisk me away from cleaning toilets to days filled with book tours, interviews, and wordsmithing.

So my brain turned ON yesterday and hasn’t stopped for a moment since. Seriously, I had to force myself to go back to sleep at 1 a.m., 3 a.m., and then every half hour after that until I finally left my warm bed at 5:20 this morning. And with the exception of fixing meals and running to a cleaning this morning, I’ve been focused on marketing ever since.

Free Kindle Book Giveaway

I was pleased to wake up and see my rankings in the free Kindle store had risen to #439. A huge jump from 24 hours prior when I was at 50,000 or so in the ranks. I’ve dipped down #573 and I’m also at #8 in Post-Apocalyptic and #9 in Dystopian in the Kindle store.

I would have liked to get into the top 100 in the free Kindle store – but it seems that goal is evading me this time around.

I gave away 380 ebooks yesterday and currently, I’m seeing that 105 have been given away today. I am actually making a little bit of money as well since at least one person, possibly more, clicked instead on the Kindle Unlimited button instead of “purchasing” my ebook for free. Under that program, I get about 1/10 of a cent per page that is read (maybe 1/100), so it isn’t much, but since yesterday 97 pages have been read. So…hooray?!

Local Marketing Through FB and Interested Clients

I posted in our local neighborhood Facebook group. It was part of a post asking for local business owners to tell about their businesses. I had posted earlier that I cleaned houses, but damn, writing counts, right?!

I also dropped a book off with one of my local cleaning clients. She sounded interested in it and her husband reads dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction.

Facebook Book, Author and Promotion Pages

As I waded through the book promotion pages in Facebook, I began to notice that more pages were being suggested to me. So I joined a few more. I now have a list of nearly 300 promotional pages of Facebook to go to in order to promote my books. Not all of them allow sci-fi, some are for other genres, but my list of sites grew from just under 250 to nearly 300!

How much do these sites matter? I’m not sure. But I do know I’ve received at least five messages from folks who were very interested in the book and made sure to download it. I’m sure that there are scores more than that.

Quite a few of the Facebook promotion pages are also open to other things, such as enticing folks over to my author Facebook page, website/blog, or to sign-up for my monthly newsletter. So I’m going to try and use those tactics as well to build readership and followers through Facebook.

Author Podcasts?

One of the suggestions I found on 17 Steps to Earn Your First $1,000 on Self-Publishing was to try and get on a podcast or radio show to be interviewed. And to that end I found:

  • RadioGuestList.com – where interviewers list the people they would like to interview (basic version is free)
  • InterviewGuestsDirectory.com – where you list yourself as available to interview (this one costs)

Wait! There’s Radio Too!

Back in 2008 I ended up on the radio, talking to Walt Bodine about home and office organization. That was pretty cool, let me tell you. He was a wonderful guy, and is dearly missed by many. My dad grew up listening to him.

It was also a huge turning point in my life – and just five months later, I had written and self-published my first book Get Organized, Stay Organized.

In any case, I did a little bit of internet sleuthing and pulled up the info for KCUR as well as the email for Gina Kaufmann, who I met all those years ago when she was Walt’s assistant and co-host. I also sent an email to a programmer on KKFI inquiring if they would be interested in interviewing me.

Will anything come of it? Maybe. All I know is that it doesn’t hurt to ask.

The Long and the Short of It

In the end, the one message I’m getting nice and clear is that writing the book is only HALF of the job. If I ever want to set down the toilet brush and be taken seriously and make money at this, I have GOT to get out there and put myself in uncomfortable positions marketing/pimping my books out.

And I really, REALLY want to stop cleaning toilets.

So book marketing it is. I will be a book marketing wunderkind.

Take the Wheel

Take the Wheel

Take the Wheel of Destiny and Make It Your Own

Spur of the moment decision yesterday – I decided I really needed to do a free Kindle ebook offering on Gliese 581: The Departure.

So I set it up to start today and first thing this morning I hit my Excel spreadsheet that lists right around 250 Facebook book promo sites – most of which I have taken the time to join but rarely use.

I divided my list by four for the number of days I wanted to promote it (less one). I figured it would be best to promote with a message that read “Free today through Sunday” and then list the book blurb, an image and the link to the book on Kindle. It looked like this…

I began the time-consuming job of posting in the endless Facebook pages I had access to – and over a couple of hours worked my way through one-quarter of the list.

When I started for the day, my book was listed at “#56,782 Free in Kindle Store, #2372 in the Dystopian, and #3415 in Post-Apocalyptic.

And by this evening? #782, #15, and #16 respectively.

Yowza!

So far, I’ve posted in around 65 Facebook pages dedicated to authors promoting their books. I’ve given away 250 ebooks in about 19 hours (125 of them in the past four hours).

So I won’t make a dime on these. And you know what? I’m good with that. Build the readers, build the audience, get a following, and the rest will follow.

I realized something as I was going through the boring, repetitive motions this morning of copying and pasting, waiting for Facebook to do its thing, then marking it in my Excel file and moving to the next one.

If I really want to be a writer AND EVER MAKE A LIVING AT IT, I am going to have to get on top of this marketing crap. The lyrics to a song by Incubus kept running through my head…

Sometimes, I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear
And I can’t help but ask myself how much I’ll let the fear
Take the wheel and steer
It’s driven me before
And it seems to have a vague, haunting mass appeal
But lately I am beginning to find
That I should be the one behind the wheel
Sitting around on my butt, writing the books is only HALF of the job. And that’s even WITH a literary agent, publisher, and publicist. I have got to learn to sell myself and my writing if I ever want this future I keep talking about.
So I’ve added “Marketing Madness” to the first day of each month into my calendar. It might take more than that, a lot more, but it is a start.
Cool People
So far today, I’ve “met” two folks online who responded to my marketing on the Facebook pages. One simply wrote and said she had downloaded it. I thanked her, told her I thought she would enjoy it and hoped that she would be kind enough to leave a review for me when she completed it. She responded back and said she would when she got around to reading it.
The second person I met just wrote me and said, “Sounds like it could happen to us” and posted a link to her blog where she has promoted the book and also Tweeted about it.
And honestly, I am just blown away by how NICE people can be! Here is a link to her blog.
Each Revolution Around the Sun
I spent a great deal of my life being uncertain, nervous, shy, and generally clueless about how to grasp life by the horns and fully live it. I have found that with each revolution around the sun, this grows a little easier, but I’m still learning.
Today was a good reminder that I self-published a great science fiction book that I want more people to read. And the only way I can get them to do that is by dangling it in front of them as often as possible.
No more languishing on the back shelves – this book needs to be read!

Beta Readers Weigh In

Beta Readers Weigh In

My beta readers have been weighing in on the latest manuscript Schicksal Turnpike and it has given me some food for thought. In addition, I’m sorting through some of the scientific lingo I will need to turn my new book project Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World into a sequel worthy of interest.

Beta Readers Weigh In

I received a message the other day from one of the beta readers…

Ok I’m having a hard time with your book. I hate dean, he’s a whiny asshole who should have died instead of his family. So I’ve tried skipping ahead a few chapters but he’s still there.

I was amused. And just a little concerned. Had I written him too whiny? Or put too much asshole into the first chapter that centered around him?

And considering that Dean is the main protagonist I wasn’t sure how to respond to her other than to say, “Get used to him because he isn’t going anywhere.”

She promised to start at the beginning and read the whole thing through. And by midnight I received a new message, which I have redacted to avoid spoilers:

Made me hate him then you made me love him damn you!

And those words right there were absolutely what I needed to hear. I want that kind of visceral reaction. It means I’ve done my job right. Another beta reader said something similar, commenting on Dean as being “well written” and how he “enjoyed his life changing turn around.” Which is also the response I hoped to provoke.

Where Do We Go From Here?

With Schicksal Turnpike, even before finishing the manuscript, I have been concerned. There isn’t just the main story, that of Dean’s evolution, but a second story, filled with magic and a race of people who are not of this world. Most of it is barely explained and I have swung back and forth on this – Shicksal Turnpike was created in my mind as a bridge between a story from our world and as a set up for the series The Chronicles of Liv Rowan which takes place mainly in the other world only barely described in Schicksal Turnpike.

In essence, it is a prequel. A story before the real story. One that you toss out in the middle of a successful series, not before.

At first, it was really hard to imagine waiting to publish this book. Especially after having spent so much time on it. More than a year of writing, editing, adding, correcting. Surely I could publish it and then move on to Chronicles immediately.

But as I sat down and began to sort through my notes for The Chronicles of Liv Rowan I could just feel my mind slip sideways. Not to mention that my readers of Gliese 581: The Departure have responded with, “What do you mean I have to wait YEARS for the sequel?!”

So as the beta readers picked their way through Schicksal and I resigned myself to learning far more scientific principles than the teenage me would EVER have been willing to do, my resolve on what to do with Schicksal wavered and changed.

I’m going to shop it out to literary agents and sit on it for a while. I look at it like this:

  • It is a prequel, therefore it probably needs to wait until at least a couple of the Chronicles of Liv Rowan books come out (I have twelve stories planned).
  • It could be doing the work of finding a literary agent I could work with while I’m busy writing Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World AND Chronicles of Liv Rowan: The Glass Forest

I’m painfully aware that marketing my books is required if I am to be a self-published author. It is also something I’m not particularly good at. That is, after all, one of the main reasons authors retain a literary agent. So I’ve finally got a book that I’m not going to lose my mind over not getting to publish right away because it can’t be published right away. Not until the other books are out.

Goals for Now

So I’ve got my assignments for the next six months to a year. I need to:

  • Learn the science and get the sequel to Gliese 581: The Departure finished
  • Finish writing the first book of The Chronicles of Liv Rowan when I can’t handle dealing with Gliese (and vice versa).

Taking Notes from Another Science Wunderkind

As I struggled to learn some of the scientific principles behind planetary orbits, atmosphere, and more yesterday I was also juggling kiddo activities. And while we are not homeschooling this year, I have maintained my membership with L.E.A.R.N. and was looking forward to hanging out with some homeschool mamas while Em played with her friends at Double Digits Game Night.

I sat down at the mama table and pulled out my Gliese binder which has a picture of the planet on the front cover. I figured I could work on my planet maps and maybe get some help naming the continents and other features of the world.

However, the sight of a planet immediately caught the interest of one mama (I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t know her name) and her eleven-year-old son Nate. And young Nate was soon firing questions at me.

Nate: So, Mars doesn’t have an atmosphere.

Me: Right, but the colony lives in Habs and they have atmosphere generators pumping CO2 to create a greenhouse effect.

Nate: But that won’t be enough to create an atmosphere.

Me: Well not yet, no. But in 300 to 500 years, it could.

Nate: [shakes his head] No, to do that it would need more heavy elements. CO2 wouldn’t be enough.

Me: Like what kind of elements?

Nate: Well Mercury is nice and heavy.

Me: But isn’t that toxic?

Nate: It sure is.

His mother later told me that he reads the periodic table of elements before going to bed at night.

We must have talked for an hour or more. The kid was beyond fascinating and I smile now because I cannot wait to see the adult that will form from this curious and thoughtful young mind. We discussed trajectories for asteroids, the effects of gravity on Mars colonists (1/3 earth gravity) and also the Gliese colonists (1.2 earth gravities).

He explained solar winds and how sun flares affect the gravitational fields of planets. He poked a few holes in my assumptions (easy to do since I know little or no science), gave me a few ideas to consider, and even drew a sketch of how one particular scenario/plot twist might work.

I have a ton of notes – things I need to research now and double check. His mom was listening in the entire time and, as a writer and a lover of all things learning-related, it was fascinating to see her interaction with him. The questions, hypotheses, and answers were flying thick and fast among the three of us.

As the evening wound to an end, he came back to the table and asked me, “So what kind of books should I bring next month?”

I told him to bring anything he had on orbits, the periodic table, and if he could figure out the speed of an asteroid after collision that would be amazing too.

And I am really looking forward to seeing him the next Tween Game Night in four weeks or so. Fascinating kid, he helped me immeasurably and gave me quite a bit to think about.