Categories
3. Other Things Authoring Detours Writing Life

Reality Check 1:

Here I am, at my desk, staring at my blank screen, ready to enjoy some Writing Time. And here are the physical concerns gnawing at the edges of my attention. In order of me noticing them, not in order of significance.

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

Hands.

My left thumb hurts. The skin is hardened and has split open to a deep fissure. My right thumb is threatening same, but it’s a smaller crack, so smaller aggravation. Right forefinger wants in on the action too. (Ever had your fingertips harden and split open, anyone? GOOD TIMES, even better than punctures or cuts) Anyway, that one hasn’t quite split. Yet.
Eczema. It sounds so minor, but it’s a royal freaking annoyance.

Wrists.

My squishy cartilage fails in my wrists more often than anywhere else except my hips. All use equals overuse, the wrists don’t have postural muscles constantly working like ankles do, and weather pressure changes wreak havoc. Carpal tunnel “ergonomic” aids make them hurt worse. The right one has been crankier than the left lately, but both of them are at max laxity and protest me doing hard work involving my hands. Hard work includes activities like tying shoelaces and holding cups.

Hips.

My right hip joint is hating life, the universe, and specifically sitting. The seasonal shift from sandals to shoes always stirs it up, and my insistence on bending/crouching over things in the garden hasn’t helped. The cartilage & muscles that hold the femur in the socket are all jacked up. The joint is wobbly and slides around. And the left hip is threatening a sympathy strike.

Back.

Trapezius muscles and rhomboids are intent on achieving rock status. Lats are getting in on the action. Why? Hahahahaha. They don’t need reasons. The right side is worse thanks to a decades- old strain caused by seat belt trauma after the second of 2 car accidents in a month. The iliocostals are not pleased either. Did I sleep wrong? Or are they acting up because my hips are sucky? WHY NOT BOTH!?

Shifting my weight reminds me I’ve stressed some rib cartilage on my right side. How? Who knows? Historically it’s from leaning on my left elbow too long. Or picking up something heavy with only my right arm. I’m blaming the cat. (Fun fact: my initial benign hypermobility diagnosis came in college after I popped multiple ribs by carrying my backpack on my right shoulder.)

Elbows.

Today the right one is bugging me. Usually I notice the left one (the one with the misplaced cap bone caused by teenage-years dislocation) first. The right one tasks me because I carried a bucket of fruit fifty yards four years ago. I think it’s taking the lead today because it’s between the cranky shoulder and the cranky wrist and is getting referred pain from both sides, poor thing.

That’s it. Not a big list, for me. No sinus headache, no random nausea, no deep wholesale body pain (like last night) no foggy “I forgot to eat and now I can’t make a decision” general malaise. I even slept late this morning, so I feel rested and alert.

But there’s a difference between alert and “able to focus,” and, well, I’m fighting to stay on that second level. Full disclosure, I’ve been fighting to sit down and write anything all month.

Some great things have happened. All kinds of successful adulting has occurred. (Flu shot! Heater maintenance! Checkups scheduled! Books ordered & reservations made! Successful Socializing! The long-postponed landscaping project finally wrapped up. Spouseman bought & racked firewood for seasonal fun. We’ve been to MOVIES!

But. That isn’t the whole picture. It’s been an expensive month physically. And that has sucked.

To be honest, the last four years have been a neverending assault of minor unhealth, one issue after another. No flashy injuries or big illnesses, just sinus infection after ear infection, muscle pull after tendon strain, bruises after cuts after rashes, and so on. And my vision has been deteriorating too, an issue I am attempting to remediate, but with limited success.

It’s my habit to classify inability to keep my butt in my seat and write new fiction as a personal failure—laziness, lack of willpower, refusal to apply myself—all the usual suspects, amirite? I get angry at myself for letting myself down, I feel guilty because I’m wasting time I could be spending doing something I genuinely love.

It’s long past time to admit the role of physical discomfort. I’m not struggling with creative writing and hurting too. Sitting with a keyboard is a literal fight. I have limited endurance as well as limited focus. And when those conditions team up, it’s not me failing to write, it’s me sensibly retreating from a battle I can’t win to fight again another day. On an intellectual level, I know it’s okay to not be okay. It’s time to work harder on feeling that truth.

This post is my way of proving to myself that I am fighting a war and not a battle–and that right now, the campaign is taking a heavy toll on my creativity.

SIDE NOTE: I am NOT soliciting advice on How To Deal and will likely respond impolitely if such advice is offered. I’ve had half a century to learn how to cope with this weird corpus and weirder brain of mine. It’s an ever-changing process, and This is part of my coping. When I need advice, I will ask, I promise.

That’s all I have to share right now. There’ll be more to my Reality Check series, on the Brains Are Sneaky side of things, but that’s another post. Until then, happy reading!

Categories
Authoring Promotion Writing Life

Life notes & book numbers

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Post Daylights Saving Monday is Monday-est Monday of the Year.

Admitting I cannot brain is hard, but I am beating back the gnawing be-productive weasels with mentally forgiving tasks. So far, so good. Fresh foods arrived before the storm & have been stowed away, three loads of laundry are done, and two more loads are sorted and ready. Pantry dinner is prepped, sheets are changed, bills paid, and correspondence sorted out.

Still to do: do my daily online promotion for Sharp Edge Of Yesterday, and enjoying some downtime with Ghost Town. Yes, the writing time is a reward, not a task. It’s a mindset I’m trying to nurture.

BUT FIRST! A “THANK YOU!” shoutout to everyone whose pre-orders have put Sharp Edge within 3 spots of first place in my personal ranking (not comparing to others because that would be depressing.) Posting promotions for it online is hard work that uses up writing brainspace. It’s satisfying when effortful cause leads to desired effect.

Oh! And speaking of the pre-orders, let me share some numbers. I like it when authors are transparent about such things. Disclaimers ahead of time: everyone’s experience is different. I don’t have a large audience. My writing seems to attract devoted fans, in that if you like any one of my books, you end up hunting down and enjoying all of them, but you folx are still an elite cadre, not a market-swaying population segment.

It’s a bigger audience than I ever thought to have when I started this gig, I admit. My flavor of impostor syndrome means I suspect innocent people of pity purchases (sorry) but this time I’m pretty confident most of these orders are going to people who want to read the book, not just support a friend by buying something they would never read on its own merits in a million years. But I digress. (It wouldn’t be a post by me if I didn’t. At least you know I’m not a pod person!)

The raw numbers:
Rough Passages, current pre-order champion, 32 pre-orders.
Sharp Edge Of Yesterday, 29 pre-orders as of today. With one week left to go.

And now, some data analysis & background because that makes this like a science report, and we all know those are FUN, right?

I did a massive promotional push for Rough Passages‘ release back in 2017. At the time I was active in a lot of Facebook groups and the general “writing community” online as part of my “Learning to Be An Independent Author” phase. I told all the people in all the groups where I was active about the book & why it was wonderful. I posted notes and snippets and pictures in my own online spaces. I told people IRL and asked for online support. I set the introductory pre-order price at a low-risk investment of $0.99. I did multiple reminders per day for weeks.

I was thrilled to get 32 pre-orders. It’s peanuts to authors who make a living from wordcraft, but it was twice the orders I’d gotten for a previous, similar release. Return On Investment was great if I only looked at the number.

ROI was abysmal when I added in personal cost. Constant participation in multiple book-related communities online is grueling. The #writingcommunity hashtag is hugely popular, and in the indie author community, success is linked to maintaining a constant, consistent, personal presence online.

I don’t care how excited and exuberant you are, how PROUD you are of your book, performing in public is work, and every promotional post is a singular little performance. Not to mention the time and emotional energy involved in conversating online daily to stay active in multiple groups. Plus I hate seeing the same post a dozen times a day no matter what it is, so incessant posting about Only My Book will never not generate guilt.

Shortly after Rough Passages came out, I realized I couldn’t survive on gruel. The way I promoted its release is still touted far and wide by commercially-successful indie authors & some publishers as “The Way,” but it can’t be my way. I’m comfortable bragging on my writing, because yes, it’s great, but making professional interaction my constant focus was like hitting myself with a stick while fasting. It left me perpetually weak and bruised. Spec-fic is a tiny niche in the bookworld. It’s a loud, boisterous niche full of bestsellers, but I gotta be realistic: quiet, prosy, slow-burn stories like mine are unlikely to ever appeal to the majority market, no matter how much I promoted it to the wider publishing world.

I detached myself from ALL the Facebook groups, writing, science fiction, and all, and unfollowed a lot of people on Twitter who never interacted with me anyway. The struggle to stay out of the tempting flow is real, but I am committed to it. These days I lurk on the fringes of the online indie-author writing community so I can spot trends and catch news, but I’m only in a handful of groups, and I don’t bother with most Twitter or Instagram hashtags.

That brings us to Sharp Edge’s number. 29.

This pre-release promotion has been low-key and very much in my own small spaces, and I’ve made a conscious effort to spend more time writing the next book (Ghost Town! 85% drafted!) than being online talking about Sharp Edge. I post daily-ish on my spaces, have sent two reminders to my newsletter base, and shared posts to a couple of groups where I was invited to do so. I’m not reeling.

And yet, here I am with nearly the same result. That is more than thrilling. That’s happy-dance celebration worthy.

Not that it’s been easy! Since I am stubborn and will not pay Facebook for advertising boosts on post, I have to announce the same thing again & again to reach anyone when the “pay us to talk about yourself” FB algorithms are working hard against me. It’s still tiring and time consuming. But hey, I’m doing much less of it, and no GUILT!

The email newsletter is easier. I’m actually enjoying sending news & stuff to folx who’ve subscribed to it, because you all volunteered to get news from me! That idea is HIGHLY affirming, to be honest. Heartwarming. Truly.

In conclusion, once again, thank you, THANK YOU, to all you wonderful people who will be welcoming my new book baby into your homes & your hearts. I am deeply grateful.

Some final points.
If you haven’t signed up for my fancy occasional email newsletter yet, you can do that right here: https://mailchi.mp/afe76c32cbce/freestory2021
If you haven’t pre-ordered The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday like all the cool kids have, you can get to its sales pages from here: https://linktr.ee/SharpEdge
If you haven’t read Rough Passages yet and can’t imagine starting Sharp Edge until you do, it’s on sale for $0.99 cents in ebook again, find a seller here: https://books2read.com/rough-passages

That’s all until later, except here’s another cat pic from Pexels, because it’s cute.

Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com
Categories
Authoring Cons & Appearances Promotion Writing Life

2018: listing things for fun & focus

I adore lists. They aren’t useful to me in any organizational way. They don’t make me work more efficiently or help my productivity. The opposite, if anything.  I’m always leaving lists behind, or forgetting where I’ve put them, or getting distracted before finishing one and starting a new one instead…the list itself is rarely a helpful tool.

But making lists? That’s a fish of another color. I consider making a list its own reward. I love writing them.  If you think this odd, well, I also consider scrolling through the cable channel menu its own distinct activity rather than a way to find shows to watch.

I put things on list for the sheer joy of checking them off again. True story. Hey, I never said I was normal.

ANYWAY. Still here? Fab. It’s the beginning of the new year and everyone was doing lists at the end of the old year, but I was hibernating, so I’m late with mine.

Here be my list of 2018 accomplishments. I made them all on my own. They’re little, and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good. (Apologies to Lilo & Stitch for the misquote.)

1. Wrote a book. The Sharp Edge of Yesterday isn’t published yet, but I finished it & it’s finally in post-editorial revisions. (It even kinda has a pitch: Grace Reed is hiding a terrible secret and a more terrible power. that will rip her away from the family she’s sacrificed everything to keep together. )

2. Wrote most of another book. Ghost Town isn’t finished, but it’s well over 50%, and that’s something. All I’ve got for  pitch is the tongue in cheek, “She’s the new sheriff. He’s been dead a hundred years. Together, they fight crime and bicker.”

3. Attended a few too many science fiction conventions as a professional. Pro meaning I had books there to sell, wore a pro badge, and/or participated on panels and such. Woo, this means I get to make a sub-list!

  • Capricon (MY FIRST CAPRICON!)
  • Concoction (MY FIRST CONCOCTION!!)
  • C2E2 (sorta. All I did was chat w/artists & commission art. )
  • Indiana Comic Con
  • 2018 SFWA Nebula Awards Conference
  • Gen Con
  • Michigan Comic Con
  • Dragon Con
  • WindyCon

4. Wrote 2 short stories. Yes, me. Me, the person whose previous four short stories turned into novels. One of these two, Homecoming,  is a slice-of-life piece about a character who’s in Sharp Edge, and it’s a freebie for people who sign up for my mailing list. The other, Mercy Has a Bitter Taste,  I’ve had critiqued & polished & am sending off to be rejected by all the best professional markets. One down,  thirteen more to go before I trunk it.

5. Started regularly attending an incredibly supportive open mic reading group in Chicago.  Gumbo Fiction Salon. I’ve read all of Bitter Gift there, and the reception is what gave me the confidence to start sending it out.

NOTE: GBS isn’t the reading series I first expected to support. There’s another series, held at Volumes Book Cafe, that I attended once and & HIGHLY recommend. I’m v sad about never returning to it, but scheduling conflicts, life detours, and a VERY difficult location have all conspired against me getting back there. (And now I’m too embarrassed to show my face again. Sigh.)

6? I think that’s it for major writerly type achievements from 2018. I mean, yes, I commissioned new covers for books from the fantastic Rhiannon Taylor and the amazing Rachel Bostwick, I signed a contract for line edits from a phenomenal professional editor, I signed up for 2019 conventions, I ran multiple book promotions online, I got my latest novel into the WorldCat library database and on shelves in library systems in Illinois, Ohio, & Kentucky, and maybe Pennsylvania…

…but all that’s just everyday authoring stuff.

So much for 2018. Onward to 2019. Big plans in the making & big doings ahead.

 

Categories
Authoring Writing Life

Look, a cute cat! Also an important request.

Email newsletter sign-ups are vitally important to independent authors like me. Please click the link at the bottom of this post and join my mailing list. Don’t wait. Don’t tell yourself, “I’ll do it later.”  Don’t dismiss it thinking, “Oh, I don’t need that.” Don’t put it off.

Do. It. Right. Now. Please.

Why so emphatic?  I will explain. Spoiler alert: I am not big on persuasive rhetoric. I’m into raw data. Here ’tis, with bullet points)

It’s a free way to show your support

People who care enough to join a list want to be there. That’s no small confidence-builder. (And who doesn’t love free?)  If you’re on my list, I know I’m not bugging you when I talk about a great new release or announce a short story or show off a new cover. You asked to be included. Knowing I have an undeniably real audience waiting for things from me keeps me going on bad days. And good ones.

If you aren’t getting the newsletter, you WILL miss important book news.

Some of you follow me on other social media, but let’s get real.  Facebook & Twitter are great first contact points and excellent for connection, but for announcements and alerts? They’re a crap-shoot at best. It’s too easy to miss things. Trying to keep up with everyone and everything every day is impossible.

A newsletter comes straight to you. Can’t miss it. And it’s patient. It doesn’t disappear down the timeline or get hidden.

With the newsletter, even if  I–or you–step away from Facebook for a long break or delete social media entirely, we won’t lose touch.

Subscribers get exclusive gifts and benefits. Yes, for free.

It all starts with a subscribers-only Rough Passages short story. You get that just for signing up. There will be more.  I have raffle ideas in mind. I’m working on stickers, unit badges, and other awesome subscriber loot. I may even share an email address to subscribers for entering story errata, so all of you can share directly what I got wrong & need to fix. (and get entered in the Fix-it Raffle!)

Subscribers get all the fun news first.

I have to give my most loyal fans the best benefits, right? You’ll get to share in the excitement of new covers or other graphics before anyone except me, (and the artist) and if I’m seeking reader opinions on future decisions, I’ll consult with my email subscribers first and give their answers greater weight.

It’s easy.

Seriously. All I need is your email address. I do have the list set up for 2-step confirmation because consent matters, but it isn’t hard. You provide your email, you get an email asking you to click on things to confirm your interest and verify that you are not a Giant Robot. That’s it.

It’s easy to stop, too.

At any time you want, you can get off the list by clicking a link at the bottom of every newsletter email I send. For real. I’ve subscribed and unsubscribed a couple of times to test the feature.
In summary: I have a mailing list now so I can keep in touch with people who want to hear important news about my books and get exclusive fan perks. I would love for you to be a subscriber.

Here’s a direct link to the newsletter page: CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP

And here are more pictures of my cranky ol’ cat:

He is just so darned adorable.

As always, thank you for reading.

 

Categories
Authoring Writing Life

Getting comfortable in my writer skin

No writers were harmed in the creation of this skin, I swear.  The comfort comes from taking two big steps towards acknowledging that this writing gig is a Real, Permanent Thing.

1. I got Dawnrigger license plates.

Yes, personalized ones. Don’t hate. There’s a story. Of course there is.

A couple of years back, the state decided that it would be rolling out a new license plate style, and that when my turn came, instead of getting a sticker for registration renewal, my old plate would be replaced for free. Huzzah, I said, because the plates I was issued Way Back When had a letter/number combo I always hated.  I never replaced them because  the fee for title transfer was low compared to the exorbitant fee for getting new plates with a new car. The Awful Old Plates went through…four title transfers, I think? Yes, I am a cheapskate.

This year, it was my turn to get free new ones! The form arrived with the link for renewing title registration online, so up to the website I went, all excited about finally being rid of my Awful Old Plates.

Whereupon the state informed me that once I completed the registration renewal they were going to send me THE SAME AWFUL LETTER/NUMBER COMBO on entirely new plates. WTF, said I, with extra exclamation points. No. Nope. Unacceptable. HELL NO, even. Cussing out the computer screen may have been involved.

Then I spotted my salvation in a sidebar on the left. An option for personalizing plates. An extra fee in addition to the renewal, but not as much as new registration.

So I did it. What the hell. No, they are not vanity plates. (Seriously. They aren’t. Vanity Plate was a whole ‘nother  choice on the site. Who knew license plates came in so many different flavors? I didn’t.)

Now my little car has plates that read DAWNRGR. See? Maybe no one but me will ever know what that means. But I do know, and it makes me happy.

2. The other authoring-related thing I did makes me even happier, and was much easier; I listed myself as “author at Dawnrigger Publishing” in an official directory for the first time.

It wasn’t a government form or anything.  It’s just a member directory for a organization at my college.  I’m still working as Registration Staff part-time at the Mount Prospect library and as a volunteer at the Botanic Garden. Putting the word ‘author’ in the
Primary Employment” slot on this form changes nothing at all officially, but…

I felt comfortable doing it. That changes everything.

I’m getting there. Slow & unsteady, but I’m getting there.