aliciareneekline.com

Official Website for Contemporary Romance Author Alicia Renee Kline

Vacant

Yes, I know I haven’t posted here in over three months.  Yes, I know that I just now went into my settings and changed the book links for Silenced to state that it was live and not on preorder, took down the giveaway that ended in February, and removed the progress bar for the book that’s been released for nearly two months.  Seriously, I bet people figured out that it was done already.

No, Chasing Echo hasn’t sat completely untouched, even though that progress bar is clocking in at a big fat goose egg.  I just can’t be bothered to change it right now.

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve sort of had an “I don’t give a fuck” approach to writing lately.  And it seems to work for me.  Because not giving a fuck, and barely making a peep about my new release has rewarded me with quite a few sales.  In fact, having a silent (pun intended) launch has yielded the most results ever.  I’m not even trying, and people are buying.  I attribute this to the fact that I’ve finally used the loss leader approach for the first book, and the few people that have actually downloaded and read it keep coming back for more.

But this post isn’t about sales, or really writing for that matter.  Because it’s pretty obvious that this isn’t my focus right now.

I’ve touched on what’s going on in my personal life briefly if you stalk me on Facebook or Twitter.  Don’t worry, it’s all good.  For nearly the past year, my husband has been interviewing for various manager positions within his company.  All of which would require an out of state move, because that is what the end goal was.  We didn’t care where, we just wanted out of Indiana.

Before people get all riled up, there’s nothing wrong with Indiana.  It’s just that I have lived here all my life, and even though my man has lived overseas, it was before he was old enough to really remember it.  So for all intents and purposes, he’s been here his whole life too.  And we wanted to experience somewhere different; not just on vacation.

That place turned out to be North Carolina.  Sure, there were a few close calls – times when we thought we’d be packing up and heading to Wisconsin or Oklahoma.  We actually figured we didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell at NC.  But that wonderful phone call came, and everything became real.  Right now.

Within weeks, we were flying out to choose a place to live (we decided to build), and shortly after that, my husband had to be out there for good.  Which leaves me back in Indiana to wrap up things like selling the house and getting the kids through the end of the school year.  It’s like being a single parent, only I have a husband available via Skype.

This past weekend, I took the girls out for their first visit to their new home.  Technically, their new hometown, since the house itself has just started to be framed.  So we visited our slab, okay?  That’s how memories are made.  Really, the majority of the time in NC was spent just being a complete family unit again.

So I survived twenty hours in the car in the span of three days, and a trek through the mountains all while being the sole driver.  And the girls and I didn’t kill ourselves, or each other.  No one yelled or screamed, but there were a few tears.  Trust me, it was hard to leave that home and come back to the old one.

This trip was planned at the very beginning of my girls’ spring break, so I wouldn’t have to pull them out of school for the drive down.  So I was gone Friday and Saturday, returning on Sunday.  After unloading the car and taking our stuff inside, I went down to the mailbox and emptied out the two days’ worth of junk mail that had accumulated, thinking very little of it.

Monday after work, I did my usual run down to the mailbox, noting nothing inside.  That’s not all that peculiar.  Every once in a while, we go without getting anything.

Tuesday?  Nothing in the mailbox again.

Wednesday, I walked down to the mailbox in the pouring rain, only to open it up to pull out an ugly green slip of flimsy cardboard.  Emblazoned on this paper was the word “VACANT”.  Upon further inspection, I learned that my idiotic mail carrier had deemed my house as vacant.

Because, as you may expect, I have a “for sale” sign hammered down into my lawn.  Because I was gone for TWO WHOLE DAYS without asking his permission.

Never mind that the lawn care guy had clearly just been by.  Never mind that my trash and recycling bins had been rolled down to the curb, just like at all of my neighbors’ houses.

I apparently didn’t live there anymore, so the post office was refusing to deliver my mail to my home.

So I followed the instructions on the form, declaring that I did in fact still live there, scrawling even my minor children’s names down on the off chance they may receive some mail at some point.  I added a couple choice comments, too.  Then I marched back out to the mailbox, raising the flag as told, and slammed the damn thing shut.

The more I thought about it, the more pissed off I became.  As there was no contact phone number on the form, I searched Google for who I could call to bitch out.  The 800 number for the USPS is useless, unless you want to track a package or buy stamps, especially at 7 at night.  And the phone number I found for the Indianapolis office that services address in my zip code?  Just rang and rang, with not even a voice mail picking up.

I was seeing red, imagining the envelopes that my mailman was keeping from me piling up.  What gave him the right to determine that my home was vacant?  That’s right.  He had none.  Maybe if my mailbox hadn’t been emptied for weeks, and it was overflowing, okay.  BUT TWO FUCKING DAYS?

Nobody holds their mail for a two day vacation.  The post office would probably laugh their asses off at me if I tried that.  I’ve been gone that long before with absolutely no mail delivery problems.  But stick a damn “for sale” sign in your yard, and suddenly you’ve abandoned your property, gone without a fucking trace.

So I put pen to paper and gave Mr. Neighborhood Watch a piece of my mind.  I restrained myself, not dropping any F-bombs, but the snark came out full force.  I pointed out that I had lived in my home for 13 years, and that I continued to live there despite the fact my house was on the market.  Because normal people do that, you know.  I told him I wasn’t aware I needed to inform him when I decided to take off for the weekend.  I let him know that I had moved before, and realized that when my address changed I needed to tell him.  And that I would gladly do so when that time came, because I wasn’t stupid.  I played the “I came home from a 10 hour workday to deal with this shit” card and advised him that since he had created this mess, he needed to handle it YESTERDAY.

Then back out into the rain to pop that bad boy in the mailbox too.

I slept a little easier last night, even though my author’s brain conjured up images of the cops being called to find me squatting in my own house.  You know, the place where all my stuff is because I STILL LIVE HERE.

In the morning, I woke up just as pissed off about it.

Part of me expected me to chicken out and grab that letter from my mailbox before I went to work this morning, before anyone else saw it.  But no dice.  It remained in the mailbox, the red flag proudly declaring that my mailman had mail.

Tonight, when I came home from work, the mailbox was empty.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

I’ll probably end up with a flaming bag of poo on my doorstep, and will never see mail in my mailbox again for the 7-8 weeks I have left here in Indiana.

I’ll probably have to physically go to the post office and complain at them to get what’s rightfully mine, to take it back to the vacant house in which I still live.

But my kids will always remember the time that their mother roasted the mailman.

Sandbagging

It’s a new year, and with that comes a myriad of goal setting.  I’m not too big on the whole resolution making bandwagon, but this year I did decide to set a goal on Goodreads for their annual Reading Challenge.

I wasn’t as involved with Goodreads at the beginning of 2014, pretty much being there in name only.  As last year progressed, I forced myself into a new habit of reviewing every fiction book that I read.  By the time I phased into that mode, it was really too late to set a reading goal for the year.  So I didn’t.

But this year is different.  One of the first things that I did when I logged into Goodreads come January was to set my goal.  Which is?  A measly 50 books.  In comparison with some of my friends on the site, this goal makes  me look almost illiterate.  I have a friend who – no joke – has set her goal this year for 175 books. Knowing her, I trust that she can do it.

In all honesty, 50 books is a lowball number for me.  I was thinking about going with 52, just to make it one book a week.  That is very easily doable for me, but I cringed at having a silly random number up there for public view.  And I certainly didn’t want to set some pie in the sky number and have others watch my epic fail.  So 50 it is.  We’ll see how quickly I reach that, and how much further I go past it this calendar year.

As it stands right now (January 4th), I’ve already read 2 books towards this goal and have ceremoniously started the third.  What this entails is scrolling through my massive collection of unread books and deciding what is up next, then committing to it.  This means that I’m already 4% of the way there.

It’s not uncommon for me to read three books a week when I’m on a roll.  Sometimes the book gods smile down on me and grace me with a streak of pageturners and I’m in the zone.

In the same vein, it’s also not unusual for me to fall into a book slump.  Since I hate leaving things unfinished, I’ll muddle through to the bitter end of something that’s not a good fit for me.  Undoubtedly, these books take me longer to complete and sometimes require a cooling off period before starting something else.

And let’s not forget that I’m still going to be creating some masterpieces of my own. The release date has been set for Book 4, so I’ll be working on perfecting and marketing that, as well as writing the final installment of the series (sniff!).    Couple that with life in general:  family time, our annual summer vacation, my 9-6, and it’s frankly mind-blowing that I have enough hours in the day to sleep, let alone read for enjoyment.

But somehow I do manage.  And while I’m sure my tally come December will surpass the 50 book mark, I’m just as certain that I won’t reach 175.

Have you set a goal on Goodreads for your Reading Challenge?  Is it conservative, optimistic, or just plain crazy?  I’d love to hear how others decide what number they post for all to see…

Pay for Me

I might have been inspired by Korn’s “Prey for Me” when I named this blog post, and that might be the reason that particular song has been stuck in my head for the past couple of days.  But I digress.

This week’s blog post is about ebook pricing.  Yes, I know that this has been covered before by countless other people, but it’s been front and center in my mind as of late.  As most of you know, I’ve recently joined social media network Tsu, which right now is more or less a happening place for book bloggers and authors alike.  A side effect of this has been my one-click finger getting a massive workout.

Like most readers, I’ve always been enticed by a sale.

As an author, I’ve always questioned the practice of offering up something that you’ve worked long and hard on for nothing, or for rock bottom prices.

Since I’m not Amazon exclusive, I’ve not been able to take advantage of their free or countdown days.  But I have experimented with coupon codes on Smashwords, offering the first book in my series for free.  The first time I did this, I received a respectable amount of downloads – and my book got pirated.  Each time since, I’ve experienced diminishing results.

As my series has progressed, I’ve debated pricing the first book at perma-free, as has been suggested by multiple sources.

Popular opinion in the self-publishing community indicates that the allure of free has lost a bit of its luster.  But it’s still a widely used marketing tactic by many people to get their book on the Kindles of others.  Whether or not they’re actually read once they get there is another story.

Myself, I’d rather just charge a respectable price for my books and get fewer downloads if it means that the people that do purchase my novels will actually read them.  An impulsive download at free will likely get pushed to the bottom of the stack when a reader has a choice between it and an ebook that they’ve paid money for.  I know that’s how it works for me.

That being said, I’m seriously considering putting out a free companion book once my series is completely finished.  What’s the difference here?  My intention wouldn’t be to attract new readers, but to cater to people who are already fans.  What it would include would be every single piece of bonus content that I’ve written for each one of the books:  character interviews, top ten lists, alternate scenes.  Things which have already been posted here, but which readers may not remember or might not know about.  It would be simple to put together; it’s already on my computer and I would just have to curate it.  I’ve even got a name for it and a cover concept.

If that idea flies – which I’m almost positive it will – I’ll report back on the success of it.  I’m curious to see if a free book at the end would have any effect on sales of those that have come before it.  It may piss a lot of people off that will download it just because the price is right.

Then again, I might not be the only one who thinks backwards.

 

 

 

 

Newbie

I’ve gone and done it now.

Over the course of the past week, I joined (one of?) the newest social media network(s) on the internet, Tsu.  To be honest with you, I hadn’t even heard about it until somebody that I respect posted about it on her Facebook group page and invited people to join.  So I filed it away in the back of my mind and looked into it before signing up myself.

From what I read, Tsu is gaining popularity, especially with the author crowd, because it’s a cross between Facebook and Twitter.  Face it – most of us are on both anyway.  From my first impressions, it reminds me slightly more of Facebook, with one big plus:  those who friend or follow you actually have the stuff you post show up in their newsfeed.  No more 2-6% of the people who’ve liked your page getting your message; everyone who’s connected to you does.  How awesome is that?

You probably noticed the terminology “friend or follow” because you have options.  “Friend” is what it means on Facebook, a mutual acknowledgment of each other on the network.  Your friends see all of your posts, just like you see theirs.  You can also “follow” someone, meaning you can see their posts, but they don’t see yours.  You don’t need to do both, so if a person that you’re following eventually sends you a friend request, or accepts yours, you’ll want to stop following them because your number of follows is limited to 1,000.

I kind of like the differentiation between friending and following.  One of the caveats to Twitter is your following to followers ratio, which makes a lot of people think twice before following celebrities or other “names” that you know will never follow you back.  Personally, I’m using my follows for book blogs and the like.  In my limited time on Tsu, I have one-clicked so many new books that have been on sale that it’s ridiculous.  Good thing I read quickly.

You can also search for posts by other members who you’re not connected to by using hashtags.  So yes, you can get visibility by posting content with #author or #romance or whatever, and maybe even find some new friends or followers that way.

But with any new network, it’s got its critics.  The most vocal ones are shouting that it’s a scam, or at the very least a social media Ponzi scheme.  Yes, there is a monetary side to Tsu, which promises that users will share in the profits from their postings, unlike what happens over at Facebook.  And there’s a sort of convoluted family tree thing that comes into play, too.   In order to sign up for the network, you have to be “invited”, which really isn’t as exclusive as it sounds.  It means you have to click on someone’s link who is already a member.  Then you register for your own account and they become your “parent”.  Likewise, any people that sign up using your link become your “children” and so on down the line.  Eventually, the idea is that if you are sitting on top of a big network, you will end up making (a very small amount of) money off of everyone in your network’s posts and shares.

Me, I don’t expect to see a dime from posting on Tsu, so that’s not why I’m there.  I’m not about the hard sell, so I’ve nicely asked people to join that are already connected to me on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus and have gotten absolutely no results.  Yes, according to Tsu, I’m pretty much completely barren.  You’ll notice my friends and followers list is nothing to brag about either – certainly not like the person who gloated that after three days on the network, he had 500 friends.  Considering that I can’t convince my in-laws or some of my beta readers to like my page on Facebook, my experience with Tsu is exactly what I expected.  (I still love you guys, though!)  But don’t think that I’m crying in my Vanilla Coke; my first Tsu friendship came about 30 seconds after I joined and was to a book blogger who I don’t recall meeting anywhere else.

From there, I’ve slowly been looking up people that I know from Twitter and Facebook, and if we already have a connection, I’ve been sending them friend requests.  But I’m not expecting this to be the magical balm that will propel me into superstardom.  At the same time, I can’t ignore getting in on the ground floor of something with good potential.  So I’ll play around with this and market on Tsu, Twitter and Facebook and see where it takes me.  But the main focus in this writer’s life is always going to be on creating the next book, as I think it should be.

So if you’re already lingering around Tsu and want to hook up, or if you have an urge to try it out, here’s my link.  We’ll be newbies together!

 

Thankful

Since this post is going live right before Thanksgiving, I’ll be a bit cheesy and embrace the holiday.  Unlike those who proclaim their gratefulness for things like family, a place to live and food to eat – all good sentiments – I’ll keep mine strictly writing based.

Here’s my list of things I’m thankful for:

1.  Self-publishing – Because without it, I wouldn’t be an author at all.  I never once had the inclination to query an agent or a publisher.  Not because I didn’t believe in myself or think I was good enough to be published, but rather because I didn’t want a string of rejections to dissuade me from trusting that I was.

2.  Readers – Not so long ago, I never thought that anyone else would be privy to the tales I was weaving in my head.  Every person that chooses to pick up one of my novels (especially when there are so many worthy options out there) is one more person than I dreamed would ever read them.

3.  Reviews – Though sometimes I question how crucial they are to the bottom line, I still enjoy hearing feedback from readers.  Yes, I know that reviews aren’t for authors – they’re for other readers – but sometimes I’m surprised at what has resonated with others.  Case in point:  a certain scene from one of my books keeps getting quoted, when I had actually considered removing it from the final version  completely.

4.  Time – I’ve devoted countless hours to this endeavor, and I’m lucky that I’ve been able to do so.  Just a couple of years ago, with two small children, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do this writing thing justice.  So I didn’t even try.  Now that they’re older, I’m able to squeeze in this second career.  It’s still not easy with a full time job, but I joke that I don’t sleep much.  When I do, I sometimes dream about story arcs.

5.  Social Media – Without it, no one would have heard of me.  At all.  It’s still not far from the truth, but at least I’m kinda sorta respectable.  It’s a small victory that when you Google my name, you now actually get me instead of being redirected to “Alicia Klein”.  I know I don’t market my books as much as I should, but when I want to, it’s mine for the taking.  I’m much more likely to make an irreverent statement on Twitter than to post a book link.  Or anything about my book, actually.  On my Facebook fan page, though, I’m all about the books.  Or at least romance.

6.  Ideas – Because without them, I’d have a serious case of writer’s block.  I’m in no way an outliner, but I already know how the final installment of my series is going to play out.  That’s two releases away, if you’re keeping track.  And I’ve got the basis for three stand alones after that.  I hope I come up with more soon, or I’ll be screwed in about three years.

7.  Characters – They write themselves in some ways.  I want to be friends with most of them.  Others I’d like to strangle.  But I’ve shocked myself at how easy it is to immerse myself in their lives like they are living, breathing people.

8.  Freedom – I ultimately answer to myself and no one else.  I’m not confronted with deadlines or expectations from outside sources.  I don’t release a novel until I’m happy with it.  The final product is something that I can be proud of (and should be), because it has me written all over it.

9.  Stability – I don’t rely on writing to pay my bills.  I don’t have to.  This means that I write what I want to instead of jumping on the trend bandwagon in hopes of becoming popular.  I’d rather be obscure than feel like I sold out.

10.  Sales – Every. Single. One.  Enough said.

In Person

I made it through the Author Fair virtually unscathed.  Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing for my new earrings.  Don’t ask me how one loses a six inch long piece of sterling silver that threads completely through your ear, because I have no clue.  All I know is that it didn’t make it back home and it renders the matching one useless.  There was one royalty check well spent.  Back to the practice of investing all of my sales back into my writing.

(An update after this was initially written:  the earring has been found.  It was wedged in my inventory and fell out from between a couple copies when I flipped through them.  But I haven’t changed my mind about the investment strategy.)

But anyway, as promised, here is a recap of my very first public appearance.  As you might recall, I had a checklist of what I wanted to accomplish in my last post on the subject.  Since you’re all dying to know if I was successful at any of it, we’ll just take care of that in list format.

1.  Talk with potential readers – yes.

2.  To be as good of a representation of my brand in person as I am online – leaning towards yes.

3.  To let my personality shine through snarkiness and all – yes, and bonus points for using “anal retentive” in a sentence while doing so.

4.  To get some new local interest in my work – debatable.  I had people take my business cards – which are super cool, by the way – but we’ll see if anything comes from that.

5.  To meet a couple of the authors whose books I’ve actually read – half accomplished, as in I met one.

6.  To come home with a few less books than I started with – yes.

To read it all spelled out like that, it sounded like it went off without a hitch – right?

Well, not exactly.  There were some, ahem, issues with things.  But nothing insurmountable.

My children are taking an art class at the college on Saturday mornings, which meant that my husband drove me to the library, helped me get set up, and then had to leave again to retrieve them.  My in-laws met them at our house to watch the kids overnight and my husband was supposed to come back and be my companion for the rest of the event.  He did come back, but by the time he did, there was absolutely no parking whatsoever and he never got to exit the car and come in to see me in action.  This meant he just drove around the block repeatedly waiting for me to get the hell out of there.  This also meant that he was not the happiest camper when we met back up.

The turnout for the event on the author front was crazy good.  There were 70 authors slated to be there, and there was even a waiting list on top of that.  Seems that there are more local authors than I thought.  Unfortunately, the table placement was less than stellar because they tried to accommodate as many authors as they could.  Which left me relegated to a table off the main drag, just inside one of the entrances, wedged in a corner by the Dunkin Donuts.  But I was sitting by another romance novelist and an urban fiction author who were both very nice, and we were having quite the discussion about things.

Eventually, the powers that be took pity on all of us in said corner and we got moved into the main drag to fill up seats from those who had not shown up, or left early or whatever.  Unfortunately, this meant that I was split up from my fellow fiction writers and seated in the midst of a lot of really nice non-fiction, historian types.  For someone who writes “smut” as my loved one (and my boss) affectionately call it, it kind of made me want to hide under my new table and rock back and forth, claiming my unworthiness.

As I implied above, I did sell some paperback copies.  My plan was to offer them at a reduced price for the event.  However, the indie bookstore charged list price for them, which is more expensive than they currently run on either Amazon or B&N.  Fortunately, my husband knows the lady that bought them and we returned the difference to her after the fact.  And yes, since the agreement at the Author Fair was to donate 10% of your sales to the library, I did write them a check for 10% of the list price, not the reduced price.

I didn’t go into the event with unrealistic expectations, so I’m not in any way disappointed.  And it was interesting to see how other authors handle public appearances.  Some went all out, bringing posters, artwork and table decorations, while others didn’t have anything but themselves.  I was somewhere in between.  And I certainly wasn’t the least seasoned author in the bunch, which was also comforting.  To think that I was able to both speak intelligently with those who have been more successful than I have and to offer advice to others that are just starting out is a good feeling.

Yes, it was a learning experience.  Will I do it next year?  I’m leaning towards yes, but I’ve got a bit of time to decide for sure.

 

 

Stage Fright

In roughly one week’s time (I’m writing this on Halloween), I’ll be attending my first public appearance as an author.  By the time this post is published on my site, the event will be in a few short days.  And when this post is finally tweeted during Monday Blogs, the Author Fair will be a recent – hopefully positive – memory.  Don’t worry Twitter blogging friends, I’ll do a follow up to let you know what happened.

My local library holds an annual Author Fair, something that I happened to stumble upon last year strictly by accident.  As in I was returning library books the day it was held and hey, there it was.  My husband asked me why I hadn’t signed up to do it.  First off, I would have had to have known about it and secondly, I didn’t feel like I was worthy of being there anyway.

Truth be told, I did know about it, at least in passing.  I’d contacted the library previously to see if they would possibly be interested in purchasing ebook copies of my debut novel.  At the time, I wasn’t distributing on the platform that they use for their digital downloads (I am now) so that part of the conversation was a moot point.  But the nice lady that corresponded with me did let me know about the Author Fair that’s held each fall.  I filed that information away in my head and did absolutely nothing with it.

Why?  Because last year, I didn’t feel as though I belonged in a published authors club.  Even though I did publish two books in 2013, I still felt like an impostor, like I was trying to pretend my way into being an author.  Plus, I felt like the big draw of doing a public appearance was to sell and/or sign physical copies of actual books.  I told myself I would feel like an idiot if I sat at a table all by myself with no product.  What would I do there?  Bring my laptop and show people my Amazon links?

My husband looked at me like I had two heads when I explained this all to him.  His solution was simple:  make print copies.  Carry some inventory so that I could go to events like this and feel like a genuine author.  His take on things is if I can’t make some fans in Fort Wayne (who don’t already know me personally) when my books freaking take place in Fort Wayne, then no one anywhere will give a crap about them either.

I beg to differ slightly with his logic; I mean, I’ve sold copies in Canada, England and Australia, and I’m positive I don’t know anyone personally in any of those places.  In a global marketplace, you can make a name for yourself far away from home.  Just ask David Hasselhoff.

But I did what my loved one suggested and I made paperback copies of my three current novels.  I also paid attention to the library’s website so that I didn’t miss the registration for the event.  This year, I signed up and claimed my place in the published authors club.

So now, I’m sitting typing this while paperback copies of my novels stare at me from their place in the corner of my living room, where they’ve been waiting for their unveiling since the day they arrived at my house.  Tomorrow I’ll cart them over to the indie bookstore that will be selling my books at the event.  I’ve gotten business cards printed to pass out while I’m networking.  I’ve got my autographing pen at the ready.  I even have my outfit planned, right down to the awesome new earrings that I ordered for myself.

But even with all that preparation, I still feel the nervousness creeping in.  That in a sea of seventy total authors, I’ll be invisible and absolutely no one will stop by my table.  That I’ll be outclassed by every single person that’s there.  I recognize this phenomenon from my days in high school, the feeling that I got right before I went out on stage.  And I never made a fool out of myself back then, so that’s at least slightly comforting.

So what are my goals for the Author Fair?  To talk with potential readers.  To be as good of a representation of my brand in person as I am online.  To let my personality shine through snarkiness and all, because that’s a direct reflection of what I write.  To get some new local interest in my work.  To meet a couple of the authors who will be there whose books I’ve actually read.  And maybe to come home with a few less of my own books than I started with.

So stay tuned to see if I actually accomplish any of that.

The one thing that I know for sure is that this will be a learning experience.

 

 

Change of Venue

When I was writing my debut novel, I didn’t have a dedicated workspace.  Since my whole foray into the world of self-publishing started off as a hobby, or at the very least, a dare to myself, I wasn’t thinking of being in it for the long haul.  At least initially.  So I wrote in bits and pieces, when I was watching television with my husband.  I’d perch the laptop on my legs and fire off a few hundred words or so at a time.

Formatting that way proved to be a bitch.  Or maybe that was because I was learning the process.  Just imagine lots of screaming and frustration at my technology.  That’s a pretty accurate description of preparing my first book for publication.

Eventually, I decided that I would only write when I wasn’t spending time with my husband.  Since he has a work schedule that has always been a bit opposite mine, this still allows plenty of opportunity for me to work on my books.  It also eliminated him being around to shoot me weird glances when something didn’t go right.  And stopped the whole reading over my shoulder thing that I’ve never been fond of anyway.

For books Two and Three, I moved my work area out of the family room and into our repurposed dining room.  Here, I had a computer desk and an office chair.  This also coincided with my new attitude of making self-publishing my second career.  I would hunker down at my desk and spend hours at work, just like this was a job.  I’d like to think that aided in my productivity, but I’m not entirely sure.  I think a large part of my confidence also stemmed from the fact that I wasn’t new to the game anymore.

Formatting went the same way as the creative process.  A little easier, because I wasn’t as flustered by things.  And since the preorder option was available at that point via Smashwords, I was able to take my almost finished manuscript, sideload it to my Kindle, and proofread the thing from my couch like I was reading any other book.  Since proofreading isn’t technically writing, I do fudge a bit on this step and I will read my own stuff while my husband’s home.  Seriously, what’s the difference between having my Kindle out for fun or doing work?

So now we are on to Book Four and some things have changed.  I’m almost, nearly, halfway done with my first draft.  I’ve also given up my computer desk and chair to my ten year old.  This time, I’ve moved out into the living room to write while sitting atop our brand new sectional.

I’ve also discovered television again.  See, I can’t work in total silence so I’m always writing either to the sound of whatever program is on or whatever music I choose to play on my iPod.  In my dining room, it was always music because I didn’t have the option of anything else.  But now I’ve got choices.

And a new guilty pleasure.  Namely, The Voice.

I shied away from watching much of anything on television when my husband was home during the week, simply because our tastes are so different.  So we’d watch what we could agree on together, mainly sporting events or cooking shows.  But now, with him back working weekday nights, I have a whole world of reality TV calling out to me.

Too bad for me that the program I picked to watch captivated my attention so much it cut into my writing time.  And it’s on two nights a week to boot.  But I’ll adjust, because it’s drawn me in that much.

A long time ago, in that hazy place called my teenage years, I used to sing, too.  Depending upon who you asked (my choir director and some friends and parents of friends), I could have been good at it.  I had solos and I sang in contests and musicals and such, but I always let that evil stage fright get the best of me and never really met my full potential.  Of course, there wasn’t this kind of programming on back then to make you push yourself and truly believe that someone from Indiana could be discovered and make it big.

So what’s a few hours sitting back and getting caught up in the dreams of other hopefuls?  Seeing people working hard and getting recognized for it is sort of inspiring.  We’ve already established that I’m a bit sympathetically emotional, and some of their performances give me chills and/or bring tears to my eyes.  Plus, it also reminds me that I always wanted to – but never did – learn how to play the guitar.

The world today is so different from what it was when I was growing up.  Internet and all that goes with it has helped to eliminate the geographic boundaries that used to exist for those of us passionate about the arts.  Now you don’t have to move to LA or Nashville to get noticed; just post a video on YouTube or audition for one of these competitions and you might very well become a household name.

It kind of reminds me of how self-publishing has eliminated boundaries for those of us who choose to explore our creative sides offstage.

Besides, writing is much better for introverts, anyway.

Marketing Tips from a 10 Year Old

Both my 10 year old and my 9 year old have a new hobby.  They are happily creating their own masterpieces, which will most likely sell better and garner more publicity than mine.  I’m kidding.  Really.

I’ve gladly downloaded Open Office to the old hand me down desktop and my former laptop (where  Intoxicated  was written) already has the starter version of Word installed.  A few tips from mom – but not too many – and off they went.

I’m saving the lecture about proper formatting for ebook editions later.   I’m also ignoring the fact that I’ve already found several grammatical errors and misspellings because, hey, they’re kids.  We’ll discuss that later.  No sense in raining on their parades yet.

What’s cool is that I didn’t push them to do this.  At all.  I guess they think it’s normal, that maybe all people sit and create something and try to sell it on Amazon.  The verdict’s still out on that; I’m sure some that are harsh on the indie publishing world would tend to agree.

Like me, they started from humble beginnings.  I’m certainly not alone in the fact that I created my first works in spiral notebooks.  Then I graduated to my inaugural bottom of the line laptop with the free version of Office.  Yes, the annoying one with ads.  They’re just starting earlier with the technology.

The 10 year old is also a pretty talented artist.  Some of the stuff that she creates on the computer baffles my mind.  I have absolutely no idea where she learned how to do what she does.  And her doodles on paper have an anime styling.  Naturally, the first “book” she put together on a wide-ruled tablet included illustrations.

It  also included this cover blurb:

 

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For those of you that don’t read elementary school girl writing, I’ll translate.

Welcome to the magical world of Maleot!  5 teens on a big mission and 1 big problem.  Read on to find out what happens or leave yourself clueless…

First off, I think she might have been listening to those marketing gurus who talk about elevator pitches.  Secondly, her first attempt at a cover blurb may just be better than any of mine.  And lastly, maybe she’s come up with a new technique that the #amwriting world could learn from:  insult your reader.

After all, no one wants to feel clueless.  Right?  But would it convince someone to buy your book?  Hmmmmm.

For the life of me, the poor child could not understand why I took a picture of this.  Or why it made me both laugh hysterically and beam with pride.  And she would absolutely kill me if she knew I blogged about it.  But I doubt she’ll sue me for copyright infringement so I think I’m safe.  Plus, I pay for everything that she has, so she knows not to piss me off.  Anyway, I’m pretty sure that this is an abandoned project and that she’s moved on to bigger and better things.

As for the 9 year old, she’s working on a collaboration with a classmate.  As in the classmate came up with the title of the story and my daughter is writing the entire thing.  Being the nice person she is, she’s given her friend equal credit on the title page.  Yes, I know there’s plenty of lessons to be taught from that, but her eyes sort of glaze over when I explain why hers is not the best arrangement.  She’ll figure it out.

Realistically, this is probably just a passing phase and all hopes and dreams for them of being authors will fly out the window shortly.  They’re already distracted by the PS4.

But then again, maybe not.

Authors Supporting Authors Giveaway August 25 – 31

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Okay, I might be posting this a bit early, but those of you who’ve been around a bit know that I make myself scarce on the author front from Friday through Sunday.  With that in mind, I knew I wanted to be ready for what’s going on next week.

I’m taking part in a weeklong giveaway that involves over a hundred different authors.  We’re teaming up to introduce our personal fan bases to other talent that they might not have heard of before.  We hope that you’ll stumble upon a new voice that will become one of your favorites.

There’s obviously a whole lot of prizes available, ranging from copies of e-books to gift cards.  So many prizes, in fact, that there are four separate giveaways running.  If you’re looking for mine, I’m in the first group.  All four giveaways will be posted on the right hand side of my website and I’ll be tweeting about them and posting on Facebook too.

To my regulars, you already know how I feel about Debra over at The Book Enthusiast.  I think she’s pretty darn awesome, and I am grateful to her for all of the help she’s given me with pimping out my books.  So when she asks for help, I jump on board.

So get your following and liking fingers ready and join in on the fun!  Names will be drawn the first part of September and I will be contacting my winner personally as soon as I have their information.  Good luck!