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Resolutions, Goals, and Rough Starts

I was planning to post this Monday (the 4th), which tells you how my year has started off so far. I’ve had all sorts of issues, both organizational and mental, so I’m off to a bit of a slow start. That said, the “mental” part of it was mostly trying to decide on my “big three” resolutions for the year. I wanted to choose things that would really positively impact my life over the long term, but were well within reach without straining too much.

Given those parameters, these are the three Resolutions I chose:

– Get 5.5 hours of sleep daily
– Write 12 flash fiction pieces and publish as a collection in December
– Read a minimum of 12 books this year.

The first and third will take some time to…well, set aside the time on a regular basis. Routines need to be redone, and honestly, I’d prefer six hours of sleep, but I made the resolution for what I thought was actually doable. Getting enough sleep is really the resolution that will have the most impact on everything else I want to do, simply because when I’m rested, I make better decisions, I manage time more wisely, and I perform better no matter what I’m doing or trying to do. Sleep is the cornerstone of everything in life, but it’s also the one thing I’m most willing to give up when I want to do something else. Sleep is boring and feels ultimately unproductive. But it’s vital, and I need to give it much higher priority than I do.  

I haven’t been making time for reading at all – whenever I get a quiet moment, I’m generally either decompressing or writing. Quiet moments are unfortunately hard to come by. But I have a ton of books I really do want to read, and I just need to set aside time to do that. I want to make it a priority. So I shall.

As for writing…man, I feel like I’ve been drifting in this story wasteland/dreamscape for the last several years. I lost confidence, I lost ambition, and while I’ve been writing all this time, I haven’t bothered to publish anything in way too long. I knew I needed to learn and grow in order to gain confidence, but a lot of writing “instruction” tells you what to do, but not exactly how to execute it. This leaves people like me, who need things broken down to base elements in order to learn, floundering.

But I recently took a chance on a writing class called Depth in Writing by Dean Wesley Smith, and he broke things down in such a way that I got it. And my writing improved dramatically in a short time – noticeable even to myself. That was a huge confidence boost, and I bought several more of his online classes to take throughout this year.

Sometimes with learning, it’s not the subject matter so much, but the best match in teaching styles and learning styles.

So now that I have some confidence back, I need to establish a writing workflow that’s conducive to daily progress. I also need to come up with some deadlines, so that those twelve short stories aren’t the only things I work on all year. They need to be strictly flash fiction (1k words max) so I have time to work on the longer novels and short stories I’d really like to publish this year.

In addition to these “big three” resolutions, I also have some other goals I’d like to work towards. Things like cleaning my makeup brushes more often, and losing ten pounds, and keeping my kitchen sinks cleaned out better. And definitely writing and publishing more books.

I’ve also decided to do a journaling project of sorts. I bought myself two journals, one small, and one a more comfortable writing size, though still not too big. The small one is for a word-of-the-day. Instead of picking one word for the whole year, I’m picking one word for the day, and writing it down in the small journal each night. No commentary, no explanation, just the day’s date, and the word. It takes very little time at all (though I’ll admit I have not hit everyday just yet – creating new routines takes time), and at the end of the week every Sunday, I’ll go back and grab all the words for that particular week and put them in the larger journal. I might write a story, I might write an entry that includes them, I might just right down the list of words and close the book. I think it will be interesting to follow my daily whims and moods, and see what becomes of the practice at the end of each week.

So that’s the plan for the year so far. Three big resolutions to sleep, write, and read, some smaller goals that I’ll get to if I get to, and a word of the day journaling project.

I know we’re starting out on a bumpy note, but I have a feeling it’s going to be a very clarifying year overall. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Do you make resolutions or goals? Or are you just winging it and hoping for the best? Either way, I wish you luck, good fortune and good health.


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Storytime: The Reset Button (excerpt)

Welcome to Storytime Friday! Unless otherwise noted, everything posted here will be largely unedited draft work, just for fun.

It’s November, and National Novel Writing Month, so today, I thought I’d share an excerpt of the novel I started for that challenge. I’m not going to make the challenge, but I will keep working on the story! Here’s the beginning. Enjoy!

The Reset Button

Lexi sat on the edge of the old Heberly railroad bridge, her feet hanging over the edge to flirt with the swirling eddies in the Meadowlark river below. A wireless electric razer buzzed in her left hand as her right followed it over her scalp and collected the long black tresses as they fell.

        She’d been thinking. That’s what had started this whole chaotic night, and she knew she should stop and find someone to talk to, but it was too late. She’d done too much, said to much, and tomorrow, everything would be different. She’d pressed the reset button on her life, and there was no going back.

        The buzzing stopped and the last of her hair fall into the black, turbulant water. It wasn’t her hair though, not really. She’d been dyeing and cutting it for so long she couldn’t even remember what her natural color was, much less if it was wavy or straight.

        All that stopped now. Tonight.

        “Need some help?”

        “No. Leave me alone.” Lexi twisted just enough to see a woman in designer-torn jeans, purple converse and a black leather jacket stop beside her. Her long blond hair was curled and styled, and her makeup was impeccable.

        None of which matched the distinctly male voice that had offered “help”. She frowned, and then looked the other way, wondering how the normally deserted spot had suddenly gotten so crowded.

        That same male voice chuckled, and Lexi turned to see the woman…or was it man…grinning.

        “I get that look a lot,” he or she, or was it they, said. Lexi wasn’t sure what to say, so she said nothing.

        “It’s ‘he’, if you’re wondering, and I’m not gay or transgender – not that there’s anything wrong with anyone who is, I just like makeup and think women’s clothing is so much more interesting and fun than men’s. Don’t you?”

        “I guess. I never really thought about it that way. Clothes are…” just another thing I don’t want to think about, she finished in her head. “I really don’t want company right now. Please leave me alone.”

        “I can do that, but can I just-” he tentatively reached out a hand toward the electric shaver. “You missed a hard to reach spot back here, and I can finish it for you, if you’d like.”

        Lexi ran a hand over the scratchy stubble she’d created to the back of her nape, where she could feel the offending section still attached. Without a word and half expecting him to cut her head off, she handed the razer over and tilted her head forward to give him better access. The buzzing started again and she felt him gently grasp the leftover hand and use short, quick strokes to clean up the back of her head.

        “There now.” He turned the shaver off and returned it, along with the last hank of hair. “Have you shaved your head before?”

        “No.” Lexi could sense he wanted more, but she wasn’t feeling much like sharing.

        “Well, my name is Max Harris. I own a salon and boutique over on 5th and Madison, called The Harris Experience. If you need help or a touch up, come in and ask for me personally. I’ll be happy to help, and I’m a good listener too. And now I’ll leave you alone, but do me one favor – don’t jump, so I don’t have to feel guilty about walking away.”  

        “I’m not going to jump.” Lexi stared out into the night. “I’m just hitting the reset button. I’ll be fine.”

        “Good for you. I think we all need to do that sometimes.”


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The Princess Bride & Editing

I am very nearly finished reading The Princess Bride (finally). I’m quite enjoying it in most ways, and only semi-enjoying it in another. That is to say, my copy is a beautiful hardcover collector’s copy that my mom bought me for Christmas, and while I adore it, it’s also kind of a pain in the butt to deal with in my lap (there’s no way I’d be able to read it in bed).

I love how the pages look, and the color and fonts throughout, and even how it feels, but it’s hard to get it at the right angle with my bifocals (“progressives”, whatever – which admittedly, need updating), and also difficult to juggle it with my teacup as I settle in my reading chair without spilling the tea or dropping the book (or both).

Yes, I need a small table by my chair. I’ll get to it eventually, but for now, I have the armrest, which is where I perch my teacup.

In any case, I’ve very much enjoyed the story, as well as the way Goldman went about skimming over details and scenes without actually “writing” them out. The ultimate “screw you” to the old “show, don’t tell” adage…he does exactly the opposite with his little faux abridgements. The rebel in me who hates editing and sometimes wishes I could just tell the story instead of “showing” the story adores that he actually does just that.

Honestly, I’m jealous that he both figured out a way to get away with it, and at the same time wrote something that turned into “Something” and became beloved by so many people, myself included.

Seriously. Genius.

At the same time, I have been trying to both edit, and figure out why I hate editing so very much. I think what it mostly boils down to is that writing – “creating” is fun. Editing (and revising) is serious work that requires reading the same thing over and over. I find it incredibly tedious and boring. I love writing, even when it requires work and extra thought or the odd bit of research. I don’t love editing. Not at any stage. It’s just…boring.

I need to become okay with that, and I need to adjust my perspective, employ self-discipline, and make the time to get it done.

I’m not really sure how to do that, other than to first make time, and then just…do it regularly. I need to prove to my brain that it’s a worthwhile endeavor, and to do *that*, I need to edit.

Alas, finding/making the time has proven more than difficult. I have fifteen minutes of writing time every morning, and I’m using that faithfully for new words. The rest of my day is spent either at work, or at home in the company of my husband and dogs, aside from half an hour I take at the end of the day to read before bed. And that’s it. That’s my day. Even my late half-hour gets encroached on occasionally by a chatty husband or needy dogs. The only way to really get more time would be to stay up later, but then I’m sacrificing sleep. And I’m trying really, really hard to get 6 hours a night whenever possible, to protect against mental conditions and diseases later in life.

So. That leaves weekends. I don’t schedule my weekends well at all. My late nights are routine, because I have complete control over those. The days tend to be more of a free-for-all, compounded by the fact that the TV is on all day because my husband likes noise. When I’m home by myself, no problem, but I fall into that “sit in front of the TV” trap while he’s here, and then I end up not getting anything done until he leaves and I can turn the TV off – at which point I need to get all the other stuff I didn’t get done, done (housecleaning, dog food, etc).

I need to just get up and go to the office, or get up and do housework while the TV is on and he’s here, so that once he leaves, I can have that quiet time to edit and work on writing stuff. There is no schedule for that though, which always throws me off. I don’t deal well with a lack of routine. I tend to do nothing (obviously). Not good.

So that’s the goal for this week. Instead of trying to find a time during the week to shoehorn in some small amount of editing time, I’m going to do my best to get my housework and domestic chores done while the hubby is sitting around during the weekend, and then when he’s gone (normally Sunday evenings), sit and use that time for editing.

Another week, another time experiment. Wish me luck!

And I’ll have to pick a new book to read too. What will jump off my TBR pile this time? Hmm….


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A Kick in the Head

Things that have happened since I last posted:

– I’ve established a daily writing habit before work (I know, I’m as surprised as anyone to be writing productively in the *morning*)
– I have a fairly extensive mask wardrobe
– Two new tote bags that are lighter than my leather bag was, and I think it’s affecting my shoulder/neck issues for the better
– I’ve actually finished a draft, and started a new one
– I’ve been reading before bed again – finished two books and am working on another

I’ve written a bunch of posts since the “Toast” one, and deemed all of them unfit for whatever reason. Mostly because I felt like posting about mundane stuff might appear tone deaf or inappropriate given the state of things and all the civil unrest. I’ve been “escaping” in Animal Crossing and walking the dogs in the evenings, and generally just staying in my own little work/life “bubble”. Think of that what you will. It’s how I’ve been dealing.

But it’s time to get moving again, and my “kick in the head” came from a rather unexpected invitation by our local bookstore to do a virtual author interview. I agreed, and in prepping for the experience, I realized something important about my writing and myself that made me want to get out of my fog and back into productivity in my writing life (work life has been incredibly productive all year, but also incredibly draining, which hasn’t helped the writing life thing).

The thing I needed most was confidence. I got that – just a little shot, and it’s enough, I think, to get me moving again.

My main focus this week is figuring out the time aspect. I need time to update covers, update social media pages, update blogs, and do various publishing & maintenance tasks. But more than anything, I need time to edit and revise. I have several drafts in the edit/revise phase, and they’re “stuck” there due to my lack of making time to work on them. I could release all of those drafts as finished manuscripts within the next six months if I could just set aside some time for “marking up” and time for “typing in”.

So, that’s my goal for the week. Find two 20-minute time slots that can be “set” for each weekday and dedicated for mark-ups and type-ins. It’s really not all that easy, because I need quiet and headspace for those time slots. But, I’m determined. There has to be a way.

If I can do that early enough in the week, then my secondary goal is to set aside one more time slot for writing blog posts. Will I be successful?

You’ll find out next week!


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Variety Pages – March 9, 2020

Weird ‘n Wacky

Pants on the Ground

It had been a particularly windy day when I came across these pants while walking to my car after work. I often pass discarded articles of clothing, but they’re normally gloves, hats, scarves, or the occasional shoe or coat. It’s not often I pass a pair of pants, and my immediate thought, of course, was, “Wow! You know the wind is blowing hard when someone loses their pants!”

And then of course I wondered what *really* happened…if they fell out of someone’s bag, or if there had been a “de-pantsing” incident there, or if they’d simply blown off of one of the balconies from the nearby apartment building. Assuming the latter was the most fun, and provided me story fodder for the ride home.

Where does your mind take you when you see a rogue pair of pants like this?

Puppy Pic of the Week

Athena & Murphy, practicing patience.

Off the Shelf

I’ve been making reading more of a priority this year, and at the moment, I have two books and several comic series in progress. In print, I am still working on Origin by Dan Brown. “Still” because I started it before Christmas last year, and then let it sit for far too long while I worked late instead of getting to bed early enough to have reading time. Now I spend about 15-20 minutes with it a night, and it’s moving quickly, both story-wise and page-wise! I’m enjoying it, and very curious as to what the ultimate reveal will be.

Digitally, I’m reading Blame it on the Frosting by Samantha Hunter. It’s cute, sweet, and funny, as you might expect. Also, I find the thought of pheromone-laced cookies a little disconcerting.

And my current comic series in play are Harly Quinn, The Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil, Deadpool, and I just finished Pearl. I’m a little behind (catching up quickly), but I’m exceedingly glad that the “Hunted” story line in Spider-man is over. It was getting a bit tedious, in my opinion. Definitely looking forward to what’s coming next.

I was also a bit bummed to come to the end of Pearl’s story…at least for now. I’m not normally interested in things with a gang subject, but I was drawn to this one by the tattooing and art style, and definitely got hooked on the Yakuza-centered story line. Fascinating.

Excerpt of the Week

How It Begins

“So this is how it ends.”

Nori locked gazes with the dull green eyes peering through a black mask at her over the barrel of a gun. She didn’t know what kind of gun it was, and didn’t care. She didn’t bother struggling against the zip-ties that bound her wrists, didn’t bother begging. She couldn’t see his face, but she knew him well enough.

“It won’t give you peace, you know.”

His nod was almost imperceptible. “I know. But I can’t let you leave.”


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On Reading, Time, & Creativity

It’s been a long, very busy couple of weeks, and things are just starting to get back to normal (though I hesitate to say that, because you know what happens next…). Hence the no blogging thing. I don’t really know how to describe it, and I haven’t really been in a “funk”, so to speak, just…treading water and trying to get my routines back to where they should be. Only every time I think it’s gonna happen, something else happens, and I get waylaid, and then my routines get all screwy and I don’t get anything done at all.

It’s annoying.

The other thing that’s annoying is picking up a box of books free from a former co-worker who was cleaning out her shelves, and staring at the box in my living room wondering when I’ll ever have time to read them all.

I used to be a voracious reader. A typical paperback would take me two, maybe three nights to finish…maybe four if it was incredibly thick. Now the same size books take me weeks to finish, and it’s generally because I short-change my very limited reading time with writing or just getting ready for bed (after staying up too late writing or whatever). Fifteen minutes a night is okay for short stories and such, but it really stretches a novel out to turn-around times bordering on the ridiculous.

Needless to say, I’ve been having trouble sitting down and writing, too. There are some writers out there who insist they just don’t have time to read, but I firmly believe that reading is important for writing – they go hand in hand. You have to fill the well, so to speak. Creativity in, creativity out. And I’ve definitely been neglecting my “well”.

What to do, what to do? The obvious answer is to read more. But when?

Well, I’m not sure. I have a few ideas, but need to see if they’ll work with existing routines, which is not always as easy as it sounds. But I have a feeling that if I get back to reading more, writing more will come naturally as well. Or I hope it will, anyways.

Books I have currently in progress are: a short story/poem collection by Neil Gaiman, and “About that Kiss” by Jill Shalvis.

What are you reading? And if you’re a writer, do you think how much (or little) you read affects how much or little you write?


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Guilty Motivation & Ebook Sale

Doing my taxes this year made me feel guilty. I took a loss on my business, and I hate doing that. Normally if I only claim web hosting fees, I can at least break even, but like so many others, my sales fell off a virtual cliff this summer and were never able to drag themselves back up.

I need to publish, and I need to do some gentle promotion, and I haven’t been making time for any of that. I have gotten into a better writing habit, and I’m slowly finding a few bits and pieces of time here and there that I can allocate to writing as well. So I should have something new *to* publish by the end of the year, if not sooner.

I need to turn a profit this year, no matter how small. Mostly just to prove to myself that I can. I’ve been working on my writing style, trying to be more descriptive and move a little slower through my various “worlds” so as not to leave things out. I think I’m getting better as a writer, but now I need to get back to that pesky habit of actually finishing stories and publishing them.

I also need to do some clean-up work on my older books. Smashwords says my covers are too small on all the first books I published, so those need new covers. They also need new, better blurbs, and I’ve been studying blurbs for awhile now, and have a better idea of how to craft them. Again, something that just takes time, and time on my butt, at that.

It’s a little overwhelming to think about, but I need to just pick an “update” project and work on it alongside my writing drafts until it’s done. I need to update the formatting on The Time Stone (the chapters are screwed up), so maybe I should do that first.

The reason I keep putting these off? Because I’m afraid of how much time it will take. Thing is, pretty much everything takes less time than I think it will – it’s just getting started that’s hard.

So…time to just do it.

Did you know that it’s “Read an Ebook Week”? In honor of that, all my ebooks are marked off 25 percent at Smashwords for the week. Yes, that means a couple of them are even free. If you’d like to take a peek, click on the Smashwords link below. Or if you want to check out my alter-egos (they’re on sale too), use this link.

Are you reading an ebook this week? Which one?


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People & Thought-Provoking Entertainment

Last Friday we went to a ZZ Top concert, and while the music was good, I really wanted to hurt some of the older concert-goers there. The younger people were easy to be around – even when they were dancing they were cognizant of the people around them and polite when they bumped into someone on accident.

We weren’t even at the front of the crowd, but rather in the middle (standing room only – a street concert/festival), and half-way through the set, a crowd of older (probably in their 50’s) people pushed their way up and through and not only blocked the view (stopped right in front of me instead of pushing forward even more), but took up all available space, leaving zero room between me and anyone else. Understand that I *need* at least a couple inches of personal space. At all times. I’ve been to a lot of concerts (less so with standing room only like this one, but still, quite a few, and never had a problem before. I don’t mind the occasional brush-by or whatever, but being in a constant crush of people is not something I can really mentally handle.

It’s odd to me that these people would have been so incredibly rude at that age. People far younger are far more polite at concerts – even drunk young’uns. It really kind of ruined the experience for me, which sucks since it’s the one older band I’ve seen lately who still sounded just as good as they always have (most have been very disappointing, unfortunately).

I was also disappointed they weren’t selling swag. Because I’ve always wanted one of those keychains, and it just isn’t the same just buying one off the rack, so to speak. *sigh*

We’re going to a Godsmack/Shinedown concert in October, and I am so glad that our seats for that are in the lower arena, but the very top row, so no one can be behind us, and we’re not in standing room only. Whew!

Saturday night we watched a movie called Gamer (free with Amazon Prime, if you have it). Totally intense, and had a pretty freaky premise, really. It’s hard to even imagine doing some of the things those people did, and even harder imagining agreeing to what they did (intentionally vague to avoid spoilers). It’s a very thought-provoking (and bloody, fair warning) movie, and a potential warning, really. Because as far-fetched as it may seem, the technology isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility (though admittedly, probably not as it appears in the film). Definitely an interesting watch, if you’ve got a couple hours.

I watched another movie this weekend called Color Me You (also free with Prime), which was slow in spots, and some of the acting was decidedly mediocre (some was just plain bad, I’m afraid), but it was one of those “young artist at a crossroads deciding to follow her dream or a parent’s dream” type coming-of-age flicks. With romance, of course, because life is relationships (or lack thereof).

And I found myself wondering yet again what it would have been like to eschew my parent’s advice to pursue something other than writing as a profession. Honestly, if I’d studied writing (English) in college, my life could still have turned out exactly the same (not like I’m using my history degree for anything, and haven’t, ever). Or maybe I’d have learned the craft more quickly and taken a completely different path with writing at a more central place. I did take some English classes and worked toward a minor (later changed to philosophy), but I never really took it seriously, mostly because my parents insisted there was no money in writing, and I believed them (still do, honestly, but I wish I didn’t, and I do know professional writers, just not many).

Which probably would have meant a completely different life, and completely different people in it. A difficult thing to really conceptualize fully, honestly.

I caught up with one of my favorite TV shows – The 100 on Saturday as well, and man…the character development this season is just outstanding. I’ll be discussing that more on the writing blog later this week.

Since we’re talking entertainment today, I’m just about done reading Douglas Preston’s The Lost City of the Monkey God, and I can say with complete honesty that I don’t really ever want to actually visit the rainforest. National Geographic videos will be fine, thanks. It is quite fascinating, but I’ll take our rattlesnakes over a fer-de-lance any day, and no thank you to all the sand flies, rain and sleeping in the mud, too. *shudder*

And lastly, I’m starting to get caught up with my comic book “to be read” list by reading an issue every morning right when I get up (as opposed to scrolling FB/checking email, which is hard on the eyes and kind of ridiculous when I can’t even think yet). This week, it’s I Hate Fairyland, which is perfect, because it so matches my mood in the mornings…and murderous little Gertrude makes me smile. It’s good to start the morning with a smile (even if it’s a bloody, somewhat toothless one), right?

So…what all have you been watching/hearing/reading lately? Anything thought-provoking or shudder-worthy?

Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Missed it a couple days, but did okay the rest of the week. Progress!
1 push-up per day: Didn’t keep good enough track, but missed a few days. Really need to keep a daily tally.
Goals check-up: Completed Sunday night, adjusted for the week with a specific focus on financial and hobby-related goals.

Writer’s notes for this week


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The Chair, Assigning Value, & Fear

The Thinking Chair

I’m a member of the local online rummage sale group on Facebook, which is a great way to get rid of unwanted stuff in a hurry, but it’s also a great way to find/buy stuff you never knew you needed (and really, you don’t). Like the old Red Robin booth I got for my writing desk. And the old fabric and wood rocking chair I bought this past weekend. I didn’t/don’t need it, had to rearrange a bit to make room for it, it doesn’t match the rest of our furniture or the decor, and according to hubby, I don’t look like I “fit” it when I sit in it. Apparently tattoos, a cap, and a superhero shirt clash with beautifully carved thick wood and faded tapestry fabric. Who knew?

Whatever. My personal style may not match the chair, and the chair may not match the rest of the house (though it does blend well with the tapestry and wood dining room chair that it’s close to, and the antique sewing machine behind it that I still haven’t put back together), but I love it. I love just looking at it – it’s calming and reminiscent of past lives and lifestyles that I sometimes wish we could incorporate into today’s world, even if just in a small way. It’s not the kind of chair you’d spend hours in…it’s comfortable, but not plush. But it’s the kind of chair you could sit in when you need to noodle something out, or deal with something that’s been on your mind, maybe with a crochet hook or knitting needles in hand.

I have a wingback recliner in the office that I use as a reading/writing chair. I think I’ll dub this new rocking chair the “thinking chair”.

The Reading Chair

And perhaps look for a small, tapestry-covered footstool to go in front of it since I can rarely reach the ground to rock when I’m in a rocking chair (relatively short legs, I guess).

I’ve been thinking a lot about value lately, and how we assign value to things – including how much we’re willing to pay for something. A week ago, I was raising the price of my alter-ego’s new book to “normal retail” online, and I decided to raise the prices on all of my other books too. Previously, I’d priced books by what I thought they’d sell for – the value I expected others would put on them. I determined that almost exclusively by page count/length, and genre. I was trying to get them to sell based on price alone, and sales generally trickle at those prices for me.

Here’s the thing. It takes a lot of time for me to get a book written – even a short one, and even more time to edit, check the formatting, write the blurbs and create the covers. It takes money to get the formatting done (I’ll probably go back to formatting the digital versions myself…more time!), and money to buy cover art images. And even pricing for the lowest-spending reader, I still get only a handful (sometimes not even that many) of sales in a month.

Does this mean I’m not a stellar writer? Possibly (I’m certainly not a “bad” one, considering some of the incredibly/inexplicably popular messses out there for sale). Does it mean I’m not good at marketing? Absolutely. Does it mean that my admittedly possibly mediocre books should be priced at bargain basement?

No. No it does not. $3 is nothing for a story, even a short one. Some people spend more than that on coffee in the morning or lunch during the work day. I spent just shy of that on a cup of tea at the bookstore last night. $3 for all the hours and work I put into that story is a pittance. And if people won’t pay that for one of my short stories (and $4-5 for a longer novel), then I’m really not doing a very good job with either writing or promoting them, and don’t deserve the sale.

With that in mind, I raised all my prices. And sales went flat. And that’s okay. It is what it is, but I’m done with bargain-basement pricing. I’m assigning more value to my work, and my time, and readers can decide whether it’s worth that to them or not, but at least I feel like I’ve shown some confidence in my abilities, and that I’m not undervaluing what I do (or try to do, anyways).

I am going to be going through and redoing cover art and blurbs on some older books, to bring them up to date. And I’ll be working on some promotional things as well, just to draw attention to them and let people know what I have available. I have one book I’ll be going back through and re-editing too, but that won’t be a normal thing. most of my books are already well-edited, this particular one sort of slipped through the cracks and it won’t take me long to fix the minor nits within.

So, I’m assigning more value to my work, and whether it deserves that valuation or not will depend on each individual reader. And my mission/goal is to make sure that what I put out is worthy, in my own eyes, of the value I assign to it. Fair enough, I think.

As far as that whole promotion thing goes, I need to be more “forward” (aggressive?) about letting people know that I write. I don’t know why it’s such a difficult thing, but somehow, it seems stranger and uncomfortable to talk about being a writer (and even openly acknowledge it) locally than it does to say I’m a database administrator for the county. Probably because I make a good wage as a DBA, and there are measurable activities that tell me I’m fairly decent at my day job. But because I make very little money as a writer, and that’s really the only measurement I have for that particular “job”, it’s harder to acknowledge/admit to. I feel like people will think I’m a fraud, or a “wannabe” writer (even though I’ve published around 40 books now…it’s only the ones people have heard of that matter).

And we all get annoyed by those people who claim to be writers and never write or publish anything, don’t we? Even though I have written and published quite a few books, a lot are under pen names, and none are popular, so I feel like I come off like the wannabe, even though I do actually write and publish (okay, so I took a couple years off, but I just published two stories this year, and I’m working on a couple more). Gotta love “imposter syndrome”, eh?

In any case, I went to the annual shareholders meeting for our local bookstore co-op last night, and beforehand hubby was looking at the site and asking why my name wasn’t on the author/shareholder page. My answer was that I guess they overlooked me, or that I haven’t really pursued getting my books in the store yet (I don’t currently have any that meet their “criteria”), but really, it’s probably just because I haven’t emailed them and said, “Hey, I’m an author/shareholder – would you add me to the list, please?” Because it’s probably just that easy. And I’m just…not that forward. But there’s no reason not to be.

Aside from fear.

Fear is why I priced my books so low to begin with – I was afraid no one would see the value in them and pay a higher price. Fear is why I don’t talk about being a writer with people I know personally – because I’m afraid of all the negative connotations that might bring, and also the “oh, I’ll read your book” or “I’m reading your book this weekend” statements that never result in feedback.

Incidentally, if you’re going to read my book(s), be kind. Don’t tell me you’re going to. Just do, and then if you liked it, tell me (or just leave a review wherever you got it). If you didn’t like it, we’ll both be happier (and things will be less awkward) if I don’t even know you read it.

But seriously. I’m more afraid of what people will think if they know I’m an author than what they think when they see my tattoos. Even I know that’s seriously messed up and backwards. Especially when I’ve devoted an entire arm to tough, resilient animal tattoos reminding me to be bold and strong and fearless. I really need to work on taking my own advice.

And yes, I got the bookstore manager’s card, and will follow up with that whole “will you add me to the author page, please?” thing. And getting my books into the store.

Do you have a “thinking” chair? What are you afraid of? Post a comment – as Red Green says, “We’re all in this together!”


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Housework, NaNo Update & Other Stuff

*yawn*

It’s Sunday night as I write this, and I am *tired*. I planned to put away Halloween yesterday, and just…didn’t. I mostly sat around and thought about doing stuff, with the exception of going grocery shopping and then out to dinner and a movie with my husband (Thor: Ragnorok – very fun, can’t wait for the next one!).

In any case, that meant today was the day to do “all the things”, including all my housework (which I was already behind on from last weekend) and putting as much Halloween away as I could, given the snow outside. But with the extra hour (I do love fall-back-to-standard-time), I got up earlier and subsequently finished earlier, which is nice because I’ll be able to get to bed on time (which almost never happens on Sunday nights).

Yes, I should have been writing. All weekend. My NaNo word count so far is a measly 1700 words…which is about what I should have for one entire day. But my house was a wreck from all the festivities last week, and there was no way I could focus without doing something about that.

Why is my word count so low, you ask? Well, I got a decent start on Wednesday, but not fast enough. Thursday I thought I was doing well, but I ended up starting my writing session late, and I’m just not willing to give up sleep this time around. So I went to bed. And Friday was a horrible Tuesday-clone all the way around, so I honestly just didn’t feel much like writing. Or anything else, for that matter.

I want to write this story…badly. And when I am working on it, it’s flowing really well – better than any other story I’ve written so far. I think it’s due to the fact that I know so much of the backstory. It really makes everything, including the character motivations, more clear in my head. I think this coming week the word count will go better, or I hope it will, anyways.

But this time, I’m not willing to give up sleep, or health, or my normal priorities just to make a specific daily/monthly word count happen. I’ve done it before, and while I could do that again, it’s just not worth it to me. I do have this coming Friday off work though (in observance of Veteran’s Day), which means I’ll be able to work on the story on and off all day (bliss!). And since I got most of the Halloween stuff put away today, I should be able to grab a few longer writing sessions next Saturday and Sunday as well.

So, way too early to give up on NaNo. Plenty of time and opportunities to raise the word count without compromising my health-related priorites.

Of course, there are some other things I’d like to do this month, like cleaning up that old sewing machine and getting it running, and starting some knit and crocheted Christmas gifts. Maybe this week will be the week I get my schedule together and figure out how to work on those at the same time I’m working on the NaNo novel. Wouldn’t that be cool?!

I live in hope.

Now, since I have everything all wrapped up early for once, and I have an hour until bedtime…maybe I can make that word count a little more respectable before I sleep. To everyone else out there “writing the good write”…many words to you!