Old Endings, New Beginnings & Getting Down to Business

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Blank Pages In An Open NotebookFor about the past year I’ve been exclusive with Amazon’s KDP program. Initially I saw an upsurge in sales. Nothing huge, mind you, but a noticeable difference. Then I ran into some major hiccups. My ebook kept showing up for sale on other sights, making me not so exclusive, and KDP would kick me out of the program. I have my past with Smashwords and my very unfortunate past with Xlibris (horrific vanity publishing) to thank for that. Each time I managed to get my ebook removed from one market, I’d sign back up with KDP. Each time this happened, about four times in total, I found that I couldn’t recover and sales were even fewer.

I realized that I was probably going about things all the wrong way. Go figure, I’m new at this, and besides having little time, I’m lazy. I wanted to make selling my book as simple as possible. I also spent more time worrying about that book than I spent worrying about my current projects and about this site.

Along the way I also just got off track with my writing. I was losing my resolve and my hope. Then I came upon this fairly new and interesting podcast called Rocking Self Publishing hosted by Simon. I encourage you to listen to a few of the interviews. They are incredibly enlightening and educational. You will quickly learn just how generous other indie authors are as they share some incredible information about self publishing. A site that always helps set a fire beneath my creativity and give me indie author hope is that of Lindsay Buroker, author of The Emperor’s Edge series. Besides being a successful and prolific indie author she imparts some amazing advice over at her site.

So, I made the decision to make some changes. We are always changing aren’t we? It’s supposed to keep us on our toes, I guess, but to be honest, it tires me out.

  • I didn’t sign back up for the KDP program. What’s the point? Fewer venues means less visibility and fewer sales.
  • I’ve republished An Unproductive woman on Smashwords and as a result it will soon be available at many outlets. In this case, more is more.
  • I’ve come to the realization that I need to STOP avoiding outlining and give it an honest try. I’ve been pantsing myself into literary holes. I can’t seem to stay jazzed about a story or complete a story because I end up floating in space with no direction.
  • I’ve decided to start working with some internal deadlines. I need to complete one of the multiple projects I’ve started over the last year. Not having done so when I know that I am capable has dealt a blow to my writer’s self esteem.
  • I’m actively looking for reliable betas and reasonably priced editors. So if you have any suggestions please send them my way.
  • I’ve dusted of the picture I purchased over a year ago with the intent to use on a book cover. I’m using it as the background on my desktop to keep me motivated about this project that I wholly believe in.
  • I’m getting back to my old schedule, where I rise at 0400 to get some writing done.
  • I will take no prisoners or excuses.

See you at success.

Wow. That’s Really Good.

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I tend to scribble a lot

I say, I promise, I’m not sensitive. My feelings won’t be hurt. I want you to tear it up! Tell the truth. Tell me what if anything is wrong with this story and I don’t want you to hold anything back.

What do I get?

Wow. That’s really good.

Thanks for nothing. Just thanks.

At the risk of sounding arrogant, which I’ve often been accused of anyway, I already believe my writing is good. What I don’t believe is that it is perfect. So, when I’ve given my writing to someone for critique and input, I want some good to honest, this is what I think is wrong with your story, stuff.

Believe me when I say that if I don’t think your advice will work for me, I will not use it. I don’t expect you to have hard feelings about that, and I promise not to have hard feelings because you suggested it. But, “Wow. That’s really good,” doesn’t work for me. It is no help. You may as well have not read the story. I’m glad you were entertained but, really? According to some close sources of mine, my head is already swollen to the size of the moon, so do you really think I need you pumping it up even further? As a matter of fact, if you start pumping that hot air, I’m liable to think you’re lying and that the story flat out sucks.

I recently asked someone to take a peek at a story that I wrote over a year ago and for the very first time, I got some truly helpful feedback. It was so helpful that I am busily rewriting this story and am feeling more confident than ever about submitting it when it is done. This person told me that there were some really lovely parts, and that there were also some global issues that needed to be corrected. Free to take or leave this advice, I mulled it over for a couple of weeks, and along with some suggestions that I received via some of the good folks over at the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, I feel really confident about this story.

Uh oh. Is that my head that bumped the ceiling or the other way around.

All joking aside, critiquing, beta reading, inputting, whatever you want to call it, is serious. At least it is to me. And as ungrateful as I may sound, please just save it if all you have to offer is, “Wow. That’s really good,” because I already think its good. Otherwise I wouldn’t be showing it to you.

 

Vacation Perspective

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For the first time since I can recall, I’ve taken a proper away from home vacation. My children and I flew back to Connecticut where I grew up to visit with my mother. The six day excursion has been enlightening, but not in the ways one might think.

1. If you know anything about Connecticut in the fall, then you’re aware that this is some of the most beautiful countryside you could ever have the pleasure of seeing. My children and I went for walks. We went hiking. We went for drives through the countryside. The entire time my kids and I kept remarking in comparison, “You can’t get this in Houston.” When nature beckons, one will heed the call.

The lesson: While in this neophyte era we are more attached than ever to our electronics and gadgets, we are still animals. We are attached to this Earth in the most mysterious ways. We are influenced by her shifts and hiccups and rhythms. There is no better time to recognize this than when traipsing through the woods. We should do this more often to gain a better appreciation and respect of the world we live in.

Hiking In West Rock Park, New Haven

Hiking In West Rock Park, New Haven

2. I am ashamed to admit this, but about eight years have passed since I last saw my mother.  When I saw her this time I noticed three things: she has mellowed a lot, she has maintained the same habits for good or for bad and she looks old. The last one there makes me choke up… A lot.

The lesson: there is a verse in the Holy Qur’an (21:35) that says, “Every soul shall taste of death.” My mother’s mortality hit me smack in the face. But, so did my own. None of us lives forever, therefore we are obliged to live our best life now. Be determined to live to the best of your ability a life without regrets. Make choices you believe in and be willing to live with the consequences. Love and respect the people who deserve it, and even some who don’t. Make your good dreams come true if you can.

3. In case you aren’t already aware I am a breast oncology nurse. Just before I left Houston, I was confronted with the future prospect of receiving into my nursing care someone who about five years ago committed a grievous wrong against me. Without giving details, this wrong was such that I felt it damn near unforgivable. When I learned that I might have to confront this person in the position of their nurse, their caregiver, I was at emotional odds. Old anger quickly rose to the surface as well as gut twisting anxiety, but then those emotions disappeared to be replaced by some other emotion I am still at a loss to name. I still don’t know how I should feel about this, but I can articulate how do I feel now, a week later.

I don’t wish the worst for this person although I once swore I wouldn’t spare spit for them even if they were on fire. I’m not doing some happy karmic disaster dance while cursing their name. I’m not happy that this person is sick. But I’m not sad either. And, I think that’s good enough for now. I’ve come a long way.

The lesson: People talk about forgiveness like it’s a pretty new shirt you can pull on when you feel like it. Well, if forgiveness is a pretty new shirt, then its an expensive one. It may look good on the wearer and it may make them feel great but I think it requires some serious coinage to acquire. In the world of forgiveness, I’m lower middle class. I’m a work-in-progress. So, I’m giving myself a little pass here with the caveat that I will keep trying to be a better person, one who works hard to acquire the wealth of forgiveness.

Is there anything that has been weighing on you? Something that challenges your spirit? Feel like you’ve been coming up short? Give yourself a break too. Sometimes we should forgive ourselves first. But don’t forget the caveat.

East Rock Park

East Rock Park, New Haven

4. I thought that being surrounded by the bucolic beauty of Connecticut would inspire me to write the most enlightened prose. It didn’t.

The Lesson: Sometimes a vacation should be just that. Time away from it all.

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