3+ years ago, I wrote a 600-word scenelet/start of a potential new midlife superpowers story. I shared it with a couple of people, then promptly forgot the filename, where I saved it, and even what application I wrote it in.
As one does, if one is me.
Once I finished Sharp Edge of Yesterday, I went hunting for this one writing snippet. It had been stuck in my head it–not in any detail, but in a hazy “this was a fun bit, might be useful later” way–and I like to revisit ideas like that, the same way I like to pull a particular shiny stone out of my rock collection to see if it’s as pretty as I remember it being.
(Ideas really are like shiny rocks. But I digress.)
I had a gut feeling this snippet would make a good springboard into the sequel for Sharp Edge of Yesterday. But I needed to read it over and check all its facets to be sure.
I Could. Not. Find. It.
I checked through all my document folders on both my computers. Nothing. I tried various keyword searches online on this blog and on my social media, in case that’s where I’d decided to write it for reasons surpassing understanding. Nothing. It didn’t help that I couldn’t recall what I’d named the characters, or if I’d used any place names. Search engines don’t do well with mental impressions of actions and dialogue.
I began to wonder if I’d ever actually written it, or only hashed through the concepts in my head and thought about writing it. Except — I remembered people commenting on it. Maybe I dreamed that too? No. It had to be somewhere.
The bigger problem was that I was kinda stuck on starting anything in the Rough Universe until I found it. It’s been my periodic quest for months now, a nagging little frustration I would pick at between other activities.
Oh, sure, I could’ve always tried to rewrite it from scratch. Only 600ish words. A few manuscript pages. PFfft. Nothing, right?
But I knew I wouldn’t be able to capture exactly the same scene, the same way. And I’m stubborn. This was the piece I wanted. Not any other shiny rock. THIS ONE. So I kept hunting and hoping. Until today.
<cue inspiring music>
Today I finally hit on the right keyword combo in the right place. (Road kill, in case you’re wondering, and I wrote it in a blog post from the end of 2018. VICTORY IS MINE! I FOUND MY LONG-LOST STORY SNIPPET.
And my instincts on rewriting from scratch were correct — I never would’ve come up with the details that made it stick with me if I’d tried to re-do it. Side note: it’s a perpetual mystery to me how well my brain can retain the vivid impression details make on it, but totally blank out the details themselves. BRAINS ARE WEIRD.
Anyway. The POINT is, at last I can expand on this and decide how it’s going to fit into the sequel to Sharp Edge. I have found my new shiny, and now I shall play with it.
Because a frazzled, frizzy-haired Midwestern auntie who wakes up with a necromantic superpower HAS to go into the next book. It just does.
We are are launch plus two weeks & two days since The Sharp Edge of Yesterday released, and it has TWO 5-star ratings on Amazon now! It may have had the second one for a while, but there’s no review with it, so I didn’t see an alert. That may be small potaotes in the the greater world of publishing, even for indie authors, but hey, I knew my audience reach would be tiny from the get-go. Two ratings is a third of the way to the lifetime total for some of my other books.
Today also a BIG THANKS day to the folks who’ve finished the book already & reached out to say they loved it. (or enjoyed it, or at least were satisfied by it.)
Positive feedback does soothe my constantly-jangling “BUT WHAT IF NO ONE LOVES IT LIKE I DO?” nerves. I don’t doubt the quality of my writing. I don’t doubt its appeal as a general concept. But no story is ever fully complete without an audience, and I have no way of gauging whether a given story will touch many hearts, or only mine.
Fun fact 1: writers do not know if you’ve read their works unless you tell them. That’s one of the emotional reasons reviews are important. A sentence or two like, “I loved the banter and the descriptions,” or “some of the scenes made me really laugh” are more than marketing tools. They’re replies to the message in a bottle that we set drifting away from our little isolated islands.
Fun Fact 2: in my case, if you do not bring up the fact that you’ve read my writing, I will never ask. Even if you told me you planned to read a thing, I don’t remember. My brain is a sieve. Not a joke. Even if you’ve told me (multiple times) that you’ve read ALL my work and love all my characters, unless we are in regular communication about writing, and/or you’ve been a beta reader for me, I WILL forget between interactions.
I can apologize for that all day long, because it’s probably hurtful, but I can’t change my brain, and my brain capacity for “who’s read my books?” is a constantly shifting list of about two dozen people. It’s like I can juggle
How bad is it? Welp, I forgot Spouseman had read Weaving In the Ends, and I’m married to him
One small fringe benefit: my memory issue gives everyone in my life the easiest of easy outs for avoiding book-related social awkwardness.
I hope everyone I know is reading my books. I hope you love them. BUT. There will be no quiz, no assigned book report, no interrogation. While I do absolutely love to gush over my stories with readers, no matter how much I am bursting to talk about the fabulous things my characters do, to discuss the deeper themes, and the direction the series is going… I won’t start those conversations.
People seem to think I’m going to ask, “Have you read my new book” or “How did you like my book?” because they preemptively inform me that they are going to read one, or offer me excuses for not finishing one they told me they were going to read.
I won’t ask. Ever. Those are two of the the most painfully awkward questions imaginable. Forcing people to make excuses or find something Painfully Positive & Reassuring like “it was interesting, but I’m just so busy right now” or “it didn’t grab me, but it was well written,” is about as appealing as stabbing myself in the eyeballs.
No, thank you. Stilted, forced compliments might as well be gut punches to people have rejection sensitivity issues (THANKS FOR NOTHING, ADHD) And the idea of pushing someone into promising a read out of social guilt makes me feel filthy.
ANYway. I loathe making people feel cornered, so I won’t do it. If someone has DNF’d (did not finish) a book of mine or was totally unimpressed, that’s their business and none of mine. No book is right for everyone, and no one should dhave to feel like they need to justify their reading or non-reading. Period. No need to apologize for not reading my books or for not liking them. It’s easy to let forgotten dogs lie, so to speak.
If you’re planning to read Sharp Edge or any of my other books, I am ecstatic for you. I write fantastic books. They will give you Big Feels and make you ponder important Life Stuff. I want the whole WORLD to
And if you want to talk, hit me up.
All that, in summary, is why I am so wildly, gloriously grateful to everyone who does reach out to share moments of squee or tidbits of joy re:my books. Every share is a fresh, lovely surprise and a big boost to my confidence. I truly am thankful for all my readers & love you all.
Even if I don’t remember the specifics for long.
And that’s all until later, except for the wrap-up ads. (buy my wonderful books, join the Exclusive Good Stuff mailing list, etc, etc.)
The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday
Moms with superpowers making the military nervous.
Working mothers, radical teens, & cynical Marines team up to battle bureaucracy & bigotry. Also contains gardening tips, family secrets, carrots, kittens, and more. Ebook & Paperback
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.
This could also be titled My First Attempt At Photoshop. (see the end of the post for more on the how of it all) I’ll be using color copies of these as my Gen Con table backdrop, and if they aren’t a flop, I’ll do several more and get properly-printed versions or maybe even fabric-print them.
Art makes me happy.
First, I present to you the Rough Passages Gallery. I have enough art to do several more, but these are the only ones I’ve finished so far.
And below you can feast your eyes on the Restoration Gallery. I still need character art for Felicity, Pete, Neil and Dan to make this a complete set, but I’ll have to sell more books to justify it. Author goals!
Note: the images I used for these were all commissioned pieces I’ve collected over the years. The talent of all these artists never fails to amaze me. I credit them each individually on the character pages here on the website. I’ll try to add links in this post later this year when I have…ugh time and more brainpower to deal with website formatting.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that nothing in modern life can happen without filling out all the proper forms before, during and after EVERYTHING one does.
…or so it often seems to me. Forms hate me. True story.
If you’ve never seen me fuck up a form five times running before getting it right, well, now you know that’s a thing. And I did a ton of everyday form-filling today without a single meltdown.
Confirming con dates, ordering freebies, depositing checks, booking hotels & travel, submitting information here & there, updating spreadsheets…
AGH. SO MANY FORMS TO FILL OUT. ARGH.
But it’s all done, and I’ve survived.
I also made progress & significant decisions on the new beginning for Sharp Edge of Yesterday. It still has a sucky first line, but I am now resigned to “sucky first lines” being my trademark style…and it starts with Jack & Heather snarking on their way to an emergency, so there’s that.
Rewarding myself with popcorn & hot cider now. (see the featured image for the post.)