Monday, October 26, 2020

Lessons Learned as a Self Published Writer


There are days I absolutely love being a writer. The energy of a story blasting in your mind, driving in the car, getting so lost in writing thoughts, you get lost on the road. There are days I loathe it. The days where the negative, well-intentioned criticism test the thickness of your skin. Which, by the way, doesn’t really ever get thick. You think it, it’s not. 

As indy or self published writers, unless you are fortunate, you don’t make a lot of money. Even if you do, it’s short lived. I belong to a FB group that goes by the premise if you write 20 books, you can make 50k. However, they leave out the fact that you don’t stop there, you have to write twenty more. Back when Kindle first started, this would work, the average life span of a book was 4-6 months, depending on how long it took for it to sell. It had a great shelf life. Now, with Unlimited, readers hungrily devoured books, more authors were popping them out like my kids pop out babies. The life span shrunk down to ninety days. Also, unlike in the past, if your book nosedives that first week, you can just focus on the next book. Sometimes, even with all the ads, you get lost in the shuffle of algorithms and people paying top dollar for their amazon ad to appear first.

Those of us who keep our books priced low, just can’t afford that top tier advertising. With book covers and ads we do, we average $1000 in the hole when we release. That’s a lot of money to get back in non guaranteed 90 day window of sales. 

Editing

Then, the elephant in the room … editing. Granted, the positive is the 95% of readers who will not say much about a typo, those darlings say, ‘Oh, errors are even the big houses.’ But for how wonderful those people are, the few that breakthrough will cut you like a ten inch blade.

Do these people stop to think we DO know the difference between their and there, our fingers just type the wrong thing. We’re not idiots, as I have been called.

Maybe it’s me that gets the rash of emails right after any new release does well, people telling me how bad it is, or people trying to offer services. Hell, people don’t wait for that. They slam me anyhow.

First, I have paid for editing. In 2007, I took out a loan to have a book edited for $2300. To date, that beautifully edited book has made $138.16.

I never thought I’d sell my apocalypse books. I did. And that brought the onslaught of negative reviews and reality of publishing. I had books professionally edited. I hired one of the best in the business right now. And you know what? People STILL left negative reviews about editing. Which often has me wondering if editing is subjective.

The well intentioned email that says horrible things veiled in a bad attempt to word it nicely, often match the negative review they left. Okay, so blasting my book publicly wasn’t enough you had to email me as well? Hammer it in, yeah, I know, I suck.

Then you have those who offer to help. Mentioning help and possibly they have a lot of time on their hands.

As nice as this seems, before you accept … heed my advice … vet them. 

I have two wonderful women who help me and have for years, we finally got it down or at least close. I have had wonderful people in the past help me. I am eternally grateful to any and all, without them I wouldn’t be where I am. But not once, has this happened.


The Trap I fell into …

KDP introduced the Quality Assurance Warning program. Readers report an error, then after several you get a warning and your amazon book page gets a hazard symbol. A hazard symbol. Yes, actually it’s free editing, but it takes time to do and re-upload and usually it’s a book that stopped selling. Usually . Maybe the hazard symbol did that.

So, shortly after they introduced it, I got a particularly stinging email about my editing from a person. That same person sent a near similar email two months later, then third nasty email offered help and said they’d do it. I will call them NP (New proofer) I went in to ‘put your money where your mouth is’, everyone is an expert editor until they do it and get bad reviews.

About the time of the second nasty email from NP, I started getting daily quality assurance notices (This was before weekly notices).

This person proofed a book for me, did okay, my main lady then found a ton that were missed. Of course, that’s why you have it read through at least five times. But NP would send emails asking for older books, because NP spotted errors. I asked every time if NP was sure, and the reply, “I’m bored and retired and lots of time.”

I had that you know, gut feeling about NP, but ignored it. Six months later, of NP helping my team, I get message and NP said, “I think you need to start paying me for all the work I do for you. I am on SS and need a new monitor.”

I replied that I would do the best I could, but Covid killed my income. Okay I was getting free help, I get it and I was happy to give NP something, never did NP say anything about it before. I got busy and a couple days later, I get a nasty message saying., ‘well, I guess I mean nothing. I was going to charge you only 20.00 a book but now I won’t take less than 50.’

So, I paid NP $50 and two weeks later sent the new book for the first pass before I sent it to others. Then I posted the cover I made and was met with tough criticism publicly from NP. A reader jumped to my defense and an hour later, another message from NP complaining that I only paid for one book, meaning NP wanted backpay. My reply was professional, end result, NP said ‘goodbye and good riddance.’

Now … back to Amazon Quality Assurance. Between NP’s second nasty email to me and the time NP started helping, I received 49 Quality Assurance warnings mainly from older books. During the six months NP helped, I received 2. Was NP the culprit of the mass reports? I don’t know. I like to believe not and it was a coincidence they stopped. Now I’m left to wonder if they’ll start again.

Bottom line, when you charge 2.99 a book, pay for a cover, ads, and like me, Uncle Sam, those offers of free help are wonderful. Sometimes the help becomes friendships that are immeasurable and sometimes, free as it seems recently, it comes with a price. Leaving me feeling bad, guilty and cheap all rolled into one ball.

I could pay for top editing, and charge more for the book, but as I learned through experience with my publisher, it doesn't make you more money, you just lose the sales and only get page reads, hence, about the same amount of money and less new readers and more people that see the price and say, "I'll pass".

I blame myself for what happens to me, if people see me badly, that's on me. Plus, any changes won't help. There's no help for me. I'm the old dog that pissed on the carpet one too many times. People now look for the wet spot on the floor. However, maybe this blog will stop someone from making my mistakes.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

What's a Writer to Write?

 


I got an email today from a reader. Let me start by saying it was polite and you can tell she was nice, but she was also pretty blunt.

An honesty that left me pondering and made me realize that I, and other apocalypse writers like myself, are in a conundrum.

If you don’t think … let me explain.

She stated she lost interest in getting my books when I started to focus more on other types of writing. She mentioned aliens, vampires and other mythical creatures. You know what? I get it, I do. Those books were scattered within my other works. But this reader hadn’t given up on me, and for that I am grateful.

At first, I couldn’t remember what alien book she meant, and she looked it up. Then I remembered why I wrote that book and that’s when I started thinking. Normal virus books and zombie books just weren’t selling for me. Forget nuclear war, no one wants to read that. Trust me I know.

I mean, for a hot minute I thought maybe I was the Nicholas Cage of Apocalypse books. People loved what I was doing at first, then grew tired of me, and despite that I can still pen a good novel (Like Nick has some decent movies) people were leery about diving into something I wrote.

With diligence, I try not to deliver the same old, same old.

I try to write one book a year that is an original ‘end of the world’ scenario, and I think I do well with that. Above the Hush, 10:37, By Way of Autumn, Omnicide… there are a lot of them.

So when I wasn’t writing original end of the world, I expanded into different apocalypses, like Aliens and Vampires.

Stories I thought were good, characters I built in my head long before I wrote a single word of the book.

All I ever wanted to do was have people read my work, and I am blessed and fortunate enough that I have that. I strive to keep my readers entertained, take them away from troubles they may have or just take them to a different world. Make them laugh, cry, cringe.

Then … then … Covid happened. At first I didn’t think it would affect things, but it did. Suddenly, people were cast into a tamer version of my books, but much of human nature was the same. They don’t want reality, they want to be taken away from reality.

So with that comes the title of my blog. What is a writer to write? Or rather, what is an author who primarily writes apocalypse, supposed to write.

When I started to see the change in reading trends, totally lost at what people wanted, I decided, I was just gonna write good stories.

I would love … love … love to dive into a really awesome, heart-wrenching plague.

Do people want that? Will they ever want that again?

I don’t want to touch EMP, that market is flooded almost as bad as zombies.

Civil unrest novels, society breakdowns … nah. I suck at military stuff.

Volcanoes .. did it. Earthquakes, yep. Meteors, solar … um … I hit them all.

The one I am finishing now is totally original. Never done. I am ending the world again, in a new way.

But is it what people want? I looked at the top 25 Amazon Apocalypse books. Absent are the virus novels, zombie novels.

So I wonder if readers are just tired of apocalypse novels.

One day I’ll figure it out. Soon I hope. I’m open to suggestions. In the meantime … I’ll just keep writing.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Slippery Slope of Self Esteem and Control

 

My entire life I thought when I’d hear a celebrity or older woman say, “I embrace aging’, I thought it was there way of trying o make themselves feel good about being old.

The truth is, at least to me, aging isn’t a walk in the park, but the ‘old’ factor doesn’t bother me as much as some that I know. Embracing doesn’t mean shouting from the highest hill, “I LOVE BEING OLD’, embracing means, “Okay, I got this, what can I do?”

It’s different for a woman. Men, they generally still look good, and we do too, but only we as women will acknowledge to each other that we look good. Make sense.

But why? Why do we have to look good, or young? Why do we have to watch our waist lines to keep them small when as we age, most of us watch out waistlines grow?

I have kept my hair long my entire life. Only having it short … twice. It’s so weird how hair determines our self esteem. Longer is youthful, blonde is fun ….that sort of stuff. Sadly, if you wear long hair your entire life, people equate that to your beauty factor. If we cut it, we are made to no longer feel beautiful.

Fuck that.


I cut my hair.

I cut it all the way off, short and pixie.

People ask why.

I never saw myself as beautiful on the outside, I just never did. That’s not a fish for compliments, that’s just a fact.

Granted, for the longest time I said I never would cut my hair until I had to. But this past year, it seemed every time I went to the hairdresser, a part of me just wanted to cut it off. I didn’t, and I also didn’t know why I felt so strongly about it. I mean right before I cut it, I was truly trying to search for the reason why…. Why was I so obsessed with it. It went beyond the simple desire for a change in hair or easier style.

It took for the cut for me to know why.

Control.

I felt liberated and free and bold. Suddenly I didn’t feel as if I were hiding behind anything. This is who I am, take it or leave it.

It was then I realized my hair was a symbolization of my life in the past year.

To give you the short cliff note version. But I’m going to be deep and honest. A year ago, my mom passed away. It was relatively fast, and I still don’t believe it was her time. Decisions were made in ‘her best interest’ and ‘it would be what she wanted’, but my argument was, she was so heavily sedated, was it fair to make a call without allowing her to say, ‘yes, I want to live like that’ or ‘no, I’d rather die.’. In short, that day, I didn’t just lose my mom, I lost my siblings. Again, another call I didn’t make. Years before I didn’t abandon a brother who had a marital affair, I didn’t agree with what he did, but I would never turn my back on him. Because of that, I was considered ‘bad and evil’, by my siblings. Not my mom. My mother’s passing gave them the excuse to rid their lives of me and all that I was. The black sheep, creative one, and evil one. Not only that, they disowned my children and grandchildren.

For a year I tried to deal with it, and if we’re being honest, I still am. Every once and a while the one sister pops on Facebook to make a snide comment to something nice I posted.

But on the anniversary of my mom’s death, I became obsessed with the hair cutting.

Like my life, my hair was out of control. Like my life, it took effort to make it look good. And like my life, I’d pull it back and hide the bad.

Cutting it off … no more to hide. I was liberated of all that held me back. My hair is simple, like I want my life to be.

It doesn’t take effort to enjoy, like enjoying life shouldn’t take much effort.

I have a big, huge family. 4 kids, sons/daughter in laws, and eight grandkids.

Letting go of my long bad hair that I held on to was my beginning of letting go all the other bad I held on to.

The first non family member to see my short hair said to me, “I liked you better with long hair.”

He liked me better with long hair? Granted, he could have misspoke, but it still pissed me off.

Normally, I would seen myself feeling bad, doubting myself and how I looked. I mean, come on, it’s hard enough begin older and embracing you don’t always look attractive. Instead of feeling down, I got angry and firmly said to him. “You know what? I don’t care. It doesn’t matter what you think about my hair, I like it.”

I like the change and what it stands for. If someone else doesn’t … too bad.

Baby steps to control.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

'You cannot Kill David Arquette Amazes

 


It’s been a while since I wrote a review and I felt compelled to write for the documentary, You Cannot Kill David Arquette.

Five minutes into the ninety minute ride, I sent a text to my son that I was watching what was going to be a brilliant documentary. You could feel it from the opening seconds and I was glad I bought it instead of renting it.

The documentary focuses on actor and pro wrestler, David Arquette and his journey to prove that despite the bad reputation he garnished from easily getting the WCW title in 2000, wrestling was more to him than just a paying gig. It was and is his passion as any true wrestling fan can relate.

The documentary is much, much more.

I found myself feeling heartache and defeat, truly feeling bad for David in the beginning to cheering him on, sitting on the edge of my seat. I cringed, I gasped, I screamed and I cried. My God, what a ride this film was.

I always enjoyed David but I enjoyed the family dynamics, how they went from discouraging to supporting. Except the sisters, they always had his back.

On another level, I feel I experienced this film and related differently than maybe some others would. As a mother to four kids, wrestling nights were ‘dinner around the TV’ nights. We loved WCW. I watched my boys dream of being wrestlers, training, doing the backyard circuit, the indie circuit. I watched them wrestle each other, baby face against heal. I felt Christina’s pain when she watched the matches. Even though we know it is heavily preplanned, it still hurts to watch.

By the way, I believe she produced this and did a masterful job.

From a writer and filmmaker standpoint, this is an excellently written and filmed documentary, the editing is superb, sound quality is spot on and music fitting.

This is a must see, and you don’t need to be a wrestling fan to enjoy the ninety minutes that just flies by.

But if you are a wrestling fan, this movie is just … freaking awesome.

Make sure you watch the credits, not just out of respect for those who worked on the film, but there are some really great added clips.

 

Nothing about this will leave you disappointed.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Pushing Through Writers Block

I am blessed and fortunate enough to be a writer.  I am able to, for the first time in my life, be self-sufficient as support my family without the help of a partner, significant other or spouse. That’s not to say it’s easy, and it’s not to say that there are months that are exceptionally rough. After all, selling books is a form of sales and sales are not always consistent or predictable.

 One of the biggest questions people ask me, is how I find time to write. But, when all you do is write for a living you better find time to write. LOL. However there are times, when life, family, commitments get in the way. Not as much as a full-time 9-to-5 job

 I strive daily to write 5000 words. Or 18 pages. To me that is a good excellent writing day. I will settle and be satisfied with 3000 words

But there are times, even I need to get motivated.

So many writers, including myself at times, are ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ writers. Let the story tell itself. But when you are unmotivated or blocked, that just doesn’t work. Structure is best. It will help motivate you to have a plan.


The Deer Method

Go to Google and search the word Buck. The first buck that shows up in your image search count the points on the antlers. That is your target. That is how many points of your story you will get across for the day. You may not hit them all or you may. But let’s say you find a six point deer. That’s six points of your story. For example

Let’s say I hit a wall at the 10,000 word mark in Silent Victor. By the way there are several times in a novel a writer can hit a wall) This is what I would have picked for my six points.

  • Joe sees Peter and knows he has the virus
  • Joe sees the national guard
  • Joe panic shops
  • Frank finds out his leave is canceled
  • Joe tells Kelly about the virus
  • Ellen’s son is sick

Sometimes that is all you need. But if not here are two tricks that I always use.


Words Sprints

These are exactly what they sound like. Ready, set, go. Say you have a lot to do. And you could only write 15 minutes at a time. Take set a timer. Take five minutes and reflect about what do you want to write, then for 10 minutes you write. Whether it’s a sentence or a page. You write and don’t stop writing until the 10 minutes is over with. When the next hour comes about, you do the same thing. On average if you write 15 minutes every hour for three hours you should have 1000 words. Remember six weeks of doing that you have a novel


Writing Rewards

Truman Capote used to reward himself with a double martini after he completed 1000 words. If I did that I would be hammered. But he chose to focus for something he wanted. And that’s what I do. Especially when I feel like I want to slack.

Remember, if you want to earn a living as a writer, you need to earn what you want by writing.

Whether you want a snack, a nap, I drive, or to watch that show you have been binging on, earn it through writing. Here’s how it works:

If you want to nap, binge watch a show, or movie, or anything that is done in increments of time, you will write 10 words for every minute. For example if you want to watch an episode of Schitt’s Creek, at 24 minutes an episode you need to write 240 words in order to watch that. If you want to watch Avengers Endgame, that’s 1820 words.

Say you want a snack, or milkshake or something like that. Write five words for every calorie for which the food is. Before you decide you can go here see what the calorie count is for your favorite food and multiply that by five. For example if you want a hoho, you need to write 1000 words.

These are my helpful tips for the day feel free to leave any questions in the comments


Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Talking Points Tuesday - State of Social Media Behavior

I am once again going to attempt to revive this blog. I thought about doing a new one, but decided, this one has been around a while. My granddaughter suggested a schedule would make blogging easier, if I knew what I was going to blog. . Although she is ten, she has 10k followers on tiktok so I’ll listen to her words of social media wisdom.

So … using her advice, it’s Talking Points Tuesday

Today’s Subject… Current Facebook Behaviors

These are my random thoughts of what I have been seeing on FB lately and I bet a lot of my points are reasons people are backing off.

  • People are getting stuck in a 'one subject' rut of posting
  • We all say we aren’t quick to judge, but we actually all are too quick to judge
  • It doesn’t matter how much you post about wearing masks, it won’t make a difference to those who won’t wear them, it will just ‘wear’ thin on your followers
  • The cancel culture doesn’t just apply to the famous. Unfriending over different political opinions is the same thing.
  • A lot of are taking the FB pulpit and preaching far too much
  • So, wait … liberals and conservatives can’t be friends?
  • Words like ‘idiot’ and ‘stupid’ are used far too much … by adults
  • Mob mentality can definitely can be applied to FB comments sections
  • If you can’t be polite or even decent in the wording of your FB comment, don’t comment at all
  • I miss seeing updates and pictures of people’s lives. What happened to that?
  • Where the heck did all the Cat Memes go?

 

Off my soapbox now.

Tomorrow - Word Sprints and Rewards


Friday, April 12, 2019

Avengers Endgame: Seven Predictions and Theories You May Not Like


If you’re reading this, you’re probably like me, beyond hyped for Avenger’s Endgame. I thought I was bad with Infinity War, with this one I am way worse. So I thought I would share my theories based on those trailers and clips. Some of the predictions you may have heard from others, some you may not.

The Russo Brothers have said most of the trailer footage is from the first fifteen minutes of the movie. My speculation kinda goes along with that.

With that, SPOILER WARNING just in case I am right.

ALL IN A DREAM
We have seen from the trailer Tony Stark on the Benatar, his voice over says, “When I drift off, I will dream about you. It’s always you.”


That’s why I think this scene is nothing but a dream. Pepper is gone … dust.

THE FIRST THIRTY MINUTES
After the initial Snap reminders and reactions, The Avengers, all but Rocket and Thor, return to the compound and try to make sense of it all. One of the first things to happen, based on the Captain Marvel Post Credit scene (Steve’s beard) is the arrival of Marvel.


Steve and others continue to try to process and we will Ant Man in the Quantum Realm. He gets assistance from Dr. Strange.

Before Lang arrives at the compound, while meeting about what to do, Captain Marvel and/or Rocket pick up an distress signal in space. It's Tony. The entire group goes out


I am not convinced this is the Benatar. It could be Captain Marvel's ship. This is also not an attack on Thanos, this is where they go and rescue Tony and Nebula.

After a successful rescue, they return home to find through achieved surveillance footage, that Antman has come to the complex. 


They locate Lang.

During plans to get Thanos, the compound is attacked.
The following screen shots from the trailer show what I believe is at attack on Compound.



Since Nebula knows where Thanos is, this causes the team to go in half cocked and attack.


Notice War Machines outfit and the ship here. Nebula sees the planet Titan 2.


An all out attack ensues, a major attack ensues and one of our heroes dies very early (Identity later) Fueling more emotional fire, our Big Three think Thanos is down, see screen shot…





But it’s a rouse, Thanos is not. The Avengers suffer another blow/death and defeat.

SECOND MISSION

Not much on this one, not much in the trailer. But I do think they’ll use what Lang learned from Dr. Strange in the quantum realm and the go back in time to collect the stones. Tony also will build a new gauntlet.

This shot is from The Battle of New York. Notice the military vehicles in the back. This is past Captain America with a CGI uniform to throw us. This is future Tony convincing him to help.


RISING UP

We have seen this clip a couple times in the trailer, the Avengers slowly standing to see someone.

But who? Thanos? Captain Marvel. No, look at Natasha’s hair. Who is missing? Banner is. I believe this is their look of shock when Professor Hulk walks in the room.


And, while I might be wrong, this screen shot suggests to me that Hulk goes on the mission as well look how big that arm is. That's not Warmachine, he is at 6 o'clock.




THE WHITE SUITS

Several times in the trailer we have seen our heroes in the white suits. Natasha's red hair leads me to believe this is the end of the movie. Watch over and over … who is not in a white suit? Those not there are the ones that die early.



RED HERRING

Everyone believes Captain America or Tony Stark is going to die those are red herrings. I think, in the first part of the film, very early on, when they go after Thanos, we lose Thor and Captain Marvel. I know. I know, she has a seven-movie deal. That is not to say she or he will stay dead after playing with time, but her death and Thor’s will propel them to do things right and prepare no matter how long it takes.

They will not be the only deaths.

Giving props to my son, Noah, I have to agree with his prediction that after Hulk loses an arm, using the new Gauntlet, Black Widow will die at the hands of Thanos. Really she’s no match. While her death isn’t heartbreaking, what it will do to Hulk is.


And that’s it for my predictions. Hope you liked them. I’m curious to see how far off or spot on I am.