Thank You to My Tens of Fans

First off, I have been out of town for the last week in Chicago, so I have been too busy having fun to post to my blog. Also sadly too busy with the fun to get much work done on my novel, which I am about 5000 words behind on. But don’t worry, I will work hard and get caught back up soon.

Today, what with Thanksgiving being tomorrow, I wanted to write a little thank you note to some people who are making this becoming a professional writer thing a lot easier. A huge thank you to everyone who has bought my book or told people about it. I can’t express how much your support means to me. I have wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember. In fact my first memory of it was a summer night when I was ‘swimming’ in the above ground pool my mom had just gotten. It was a full moon that night and I wrote a poem while I floated around. Of course my little poem when I was 8 was not very good, but I still have it around here someplace. It was that night that I first thought that someday maybe people would want to read my thoughts and care about the things I make up.

Anyway, since I was 8, I have been writing and dreaming of someday having people read my stories, and even better of being able to make a living off of people reading my stories. When I was 11, I got a type writer for Christmas (not a useful tool when you are a horrible speller). But until this year I have always been too afraid to actually give being a professional writer a a try; afraid of rejection, afraid of not being very good, and afraid of losing the dream forever if the reality was that I could not do it.

Something changed this year. I think the first change was when I realized that sometimes people write stories and books that are not “masterpieces” and they do just fine. I don’t have to write something so OMG amazing that it rocks the world. I just have to write.

The second thing was that I can publish my own stuff. I don’t need any “professional” publisher’s approval to be awesome. I can be awesome any time I want, no waiting.

So between giving myself permission to not be ‘great’ and the ability to self publish, my last fear was just that I might lose the dream. Fuck a whole bunch of that. What is the point of a dream if you never even attempt it? It was time to stop waiting around for someone or something else to convince me to write and publish. It was time to take control and do it.

So I did. I worked hard and I wrote something. Yay! But some of that fear was still there. What if no one read it? What if everyone thought I was being dumb and made fun of me? What if it just sits there on the internet getting cyber-dusty? What if this is it, no one buys it, and I lose faith in myself and the dream really does die?

But then people stepped up and bought my book. Most of them are my friends in real life, supporting my creativity. But some stranger has bought “Treacherous Nature”. Friends and strangers alike, it has meant so much to me. Each time I sell a copy I feel so happy, and I feel the urge to keep going. I even sold a story to a publisher. I am writing a novel. I am submitting several stories every month. I am getting paid to write. And I don’t think I would still be working so hard if it were not for all the wonderful people who have bought my book, asked what I was working on, told people about me, commented on my blog, and just said “Good Luck!” or “You can do it” when I needed it.

I don’t want to sound too cosmic space bunny here, but this process is not just about writer and words. The reader is just as important. So, if you are reading this  — Thank You! If you have read my book THANK YOU!!!!!!

Professional Writer

I sold my first story this week! “Noir Noel” will be in an anthology “Strange Christmas” which will be out later this month. It is a nice feeling to know someone wants to pay money to print my story. I am now a professional. :-)

As for everything else, I have only sold 2 copies of “Treacherous Nature” this month. I need do something to pull that up to at least 5. The NaNo novel is going very well. I have written over 10,000 words and most of them are pretty good. I am enjoying the pace of a novel, which is so different than a short story. If this keeps going so well I hope to have it released in a few months.

It is going to be a long time before I can make a reasonable living from being a writer, but for the first time it does not feel like some silly pipe dream. I have been doing this seriously for 8 months, and this month will be the first money I get paid. Right now it looks like I will get a total of $36, from the sale of “Noir Noel”, Amazon and Gumroad combined. It is only enough money for one trip to the grocery store, but it is income. Maybe in December I will make $50. I just have to keep writing. Put a few more books on Amazon and Gumroad, get better at short stories and submit them everywhere. At this pace it will take a few years to start making minimum wage, but that is ok. I would gladly do this for minimum wage. I have been doing it for free the last 8 months.

Profanity in Young Adult Novels

I am having a dilemma with the book I am currently writing. The main character is 15 years old. The target audience for the book would be 14-18 year olds. When I was 15, I said a bad word from time to time, sometimes more often. All the other people I was in high school with did too. Saying bad words was in a way important for many, like a little rebellion. Maybe they are not drinking, shoplifting and having sex, but they will say dammit if they want to.

So I can say with certainty that teenagers curse.

But in YA novels it seems like portraying the teenagers accurately is a big no-no.  In the world of YA, people don’t say bad words.  They always don’t do anything more than kiss.  But I guess that is another subject all together.

Yesterday I was writing and my main character thought “My jaw is a little strong, my forehead is a little high, and maybe my nose is a bit too small. I have some acne, but who doesn’t?  I don’t know.  I really don’t know, I just look like a person.  A normal fucking person.”

I had to clutch my pearls.  I went and changed it to “freaking.”  Then I changed it right back.  No, she would not think “freaking” here.  She is upset, she is hurt, she is confused.  This is the right time to say a strong word.  To change it would change the character; it would give her more respect for authority than she has; it would make her more timid than she is.  She is not a shrinking violet or a damsel in distress.   For me, fiction is most believable when the characters act like real people.  Real teenagers say “fuck.’ True fact.

As a self-publishing author I can, of course, do whatever I want.  There is no editor to tell me to tone down her language.  So this choice is up to me.  But what if writing a teenager as a real person makes people not want to read my book?  Am I writing to the audience or to the story?  To the genre or for my own enjoyment?    Writing is my job, so selling the books is a concern, but if I start censoring my character this early on, who is she going to be by the end of the story?   I want a real, believable girl, not a cardboard cut out of one.

November Goals

The biggest goal this month of course is the NaNo goal, 50,000 words in 30 days. I am going to do this, but it makes my tummy hurt a little this morning. I should be starting that in about an hour.

Finish the short story that takes place in the same world as my novel and get it formatted and published. I am thinking about doing this one exclusive with Amazon to try that out.

Sell 5 copies of Treacherous nature. My goal last month was 5 as well. I sold 6 at full price and then another 5 at $.99 the last few days for Halloween. Selling 5 this month is going to be hard, I think I have tapped all the people I actually know who might want it. So that means I have to find new markets. I have a few ideas, most of them are insane.

I don’t have a submissions goal this month, because NaNo is so big. But I might submit a few if I get time.

I will keep you updated on the progress.

To the other writers out there, what are your goals? Also to the non-writers, what are you doing this month?


Tomorrow is the first day of NaNoWriMo -National Novel Writing Month. Starting tomorrow I am going to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I have tried this twice before and failed both times, normally only a few days in. But that was back before I became “The Finisher”. My super power now is to start stories and –wait for it- Finish them! A few of them have been as long as 5,000 words. So now I am going to do ten times that on one very long story. This has me feeling a little bit of anxiety. Today I feel confident for the most part, but yesterday afternoon I wanted to give up this whole being a writer thing all together and go back to counting other people’s money.

I did not do so well on those goals from the start of the month. I sold plenty of copies of my book, but my friends who want the book now already have it for the most part so next month I have to find a way to reach more people I don’t know. I only submitted four stories to publishers, not the ten I had planned. Maybe I can get a few more in today. I have one really good one that has not been submitted any place yet. I only finished one story this month, but I am half way done with another. I don’t have an outline for the book I am starting tomorrow, but the idea is more solid than it was. And as you know I did not write 2 blog posts a week.

I am going to be traveling some this month which will make this even harder. So I need to really work at it the first few weeks so I have a little slack in the middle of the month. My goal is going to be 2,000 words a day, which if that worked out would be 60,000 words. So right off the bat I have 10,000 words of wiggle room.

A few days ago I went to a kickoff event, here in Nanolanta. And I am going to try to go to several write-ins and regional events. I feel like this social aspect will help push me along and make me work a bit harder. It also might be a good place to make friends who have a similar interest as me. Social things are hard, especially doing them without someone I already know for support. So this might also be good for me in that way and help me get more dealing with other humans XP.

This nice person who writes in my region who I don’t think I have meet yet wrote a song about us. I love it so I am sharing it with you:

One last thing, for anyone who is reading this who is both in Atlanta and doing NaNo this month.

Go Pandas!

All Hallows Read

A few years ago Neil Gaiman came up with the idea of giving away scary stories at Halloween. I wanted to write a new story, but it is turning out to be a tough one so there is very little chance I will have it live by tomorrow. So I have lowered the price of my book from $2.99 to $.99. Yes, I know that is not free, but that is as low as Amazon will let me go. So think of it like this – you buy one story I will give you 4 free. :-/ And at this price point I get so little that unless there was a miracle and 500 copies sold I would not keep any of it, all the money would end up going to local art, music and theater.

Here is a link to Gaiman’s explanation of all hallows read and info about the story he is giving away:

I love the idea of giving away stories this time of year for lots of reason.

One of them is trick and treat.  As kids we got to go around and get candy.  It was a little scary and fun all at the same time.  With the other people wearing costumes, all the decorations and often walking around after dark the world was a alien place.  Walking from shadow to light as you went from house to house leaves a special memory in my mind.   I remember at first running to get out of the dark areas quicker, because that is where the monsters were hiding in wait for me.   Then after a while, lingering in those dark spots, no less frightened but now also intrigued, curious.  I wanted to see the horrors that hid behind decorative hedges and old tool sheds.

Another is community.  Up until this point most of the people who have read my stories are people I know, but most of the stories I have read are by people I don’t know.   It is like a web, connecting me to all the authors of all the stories I have ever read.  Also to you, who are reading these words now.  We are not community in the sense of sitting down to dinner together or helping each other raise a barn.  But we are community in other ways.  Maybe you love fantasy or horror, maybe you like to homestead.  For some reason you are reading this so we likely have something in common. I want to be able to gift my stories to you, in this sense of community.

I guess the last is a more complex and does not have an easy single word to describe it.  As a writer I want people to read my work.  I want to get paid for it to, but that is secondary to wanting it read.   I want my words in your eyes, my ideas in your brain.  I want you to see something like what I saw when I wrote the stories, but colored by your experiences and feelings.

So go here:

And here for the PDF version:Treacherous Nature PDF

Pick up my book, read it, tell me what you think.  Or don’t, it is just there if you want it.  The price goes back to $2.99 next week.


Making Goals

I tend to not be a very self-motivated person sometimes. It goes in phases – for a few months I will be like “DO ALL THE THINGS,” and then I will get frustrated or just lazy and slack off. So being my own boss about pretty much everything right now means I have to be the one who cracks the whip, which is not easy for me. Sometimes when the choice is weed the garden bed or watch TV then TV wins. 
Over the last few months I have been following a daily schedule to make sure I work on everything I need to do at least a little. I have exercise, writing, cleaning, homesteading tasks, personal time, writing business, and even saying a mantra on there.
This month I have set goals for my writing, a well-rounded approach to move me forward an author. It is part about writing more stories and getting better at my chosen profession, as well as connecting with people and selling my work. 
This month’s goals are:
Submit 10 stories to publishers– I have done 3 so far
Sell 5 copies of “Treacherous Nature” – Reached that yesterday, yay!
Write 2 short stories – I have finished one so far
Publish a free short story on Amazon – I have not done this yet
Do two blog posts a week– I have already failed at this one, but I need to try to make it work for the rest of the month.
Make some plans for my novel next month – I have a few ideas, but have not put anything down yet. I have not attempted to write a novel in years. This is a very scary thing for me. It is just this year that I have gotten the confidence to finish short stories, so the idea of writing that much, working that hard, and then maybe walking away is pretty intimidating. The most I have ever written on a novel was about 20k words before I ran away from it. So whatever idea I come up with has to be interesting to me as well as to the future reader, and I need some sort of plan so I don’t get stuck and give up. 
I am going to have goals like this every month and post them here so I can get your input. 
What sort of goals do you set? 
How likely are you to meet them? 
Are there some facets of what you do that are really easy for you to keep doing, but other parts that you get stuck on? For me writing is fun and pretty easy, but if I did not make myself, I would never edit or submit stories. I would just write and write and write. 
How do you stay focused?

A Taste of Space

As you might know, I have a collection of short stories published.  In case you have been toying with buying a copy but you want to sample the merchandise first I have decided to post a few excerpts.  You can also read some of the first story by “looking inside” on the amazon link.

This one is from “Red, In Tooth and Claw” , which everyone says is their favorite.   This surprises me,  I did not think this one would be the hit, but it is.  “Red, In Tooth and Claw” is written in a journal style by a woman in orbit around Mars.  I am giving you two days near the beginning of the story.

I hope you enjoy it!

Day 193

I miss hiking. I wonder if I will ever get to do that again. My favorite time to hike was always the fall; the red and gold leaves and crisp air made me feel like I was someplace alien. I loved a hard climb up the side of a mountain or rough hills. I guess hikes with my mom as a kid are what first sparked my interest in geology. I found the different colors, textures, and shapes of the rocks fascinating.

When I was twelve, Mama took Alex and I to the Grand Canyon during summer vacation. If it had not been for all the other tourists, I could have believed I was on another planet; I remember pretending that I was. The Grand Canyon is beautiful and strange. Each stratum a different shade of orange or tan, each wall cut in a different shape. Horseshoe Bend was my favorite part; it did not look at all like something that belonged on Earth. Anytime I daydreamed about my first walk on Mars it was just like the Grand Canyon, but with me in a space suit and completely alone.

Day 198

Something strange happened last night. I was sleeping in the quarters I had shared with Captain Johnson, in the hammock which was modified after my injury. We all strap in before sleeping so we don’t float away. But mine has some extra support to keep my leg stable; once in place I can’t move around quickly or easily.

I woke up around 3 am with that prickly feeling of being watched. I had the impression that I was not alone. In order to turn towards the door I needed to release my leg from the harness. While I was doing that, I heard the door swish open and closed.

I think Richards was in my room.

I had taken some pain and sleep medication before bed. So it was with some difficulty that I got to the door and locked it.

When I woke up this morning, I thought it might have all been a dream. The sleeping pills have given me some pretty crazy dreams. But my door was locked, and I never locked it before now.

When I relieved Richards a few hours ago, he said nothing about entering my room. I was hoping he would say something about it right away. Like maybe one of those red lights had warned him something was wrong with the air in my cabin, or maybe I had hit the comm button on accident and he was coming to check on me. But he said nothing about it. He just smiled his bloody smile, told me the night shift had been pretty quiet, and asked what I was having for breakfast.

Submitting Stories

I don’t think I have the hang of this yet.

So far I write stories to the call. If the editor says “We went Lovecraftian fairy tales” then I think about it and sit down and write one just for that editor and send it off.   I don’t write stories and then look for places to submit them.  Finishing stories just for the sake of finishing them has never been my strong suit, but thinking of them as an ordered product helps.    If I know who the story is going to before I type the first word then I feel committed to it.

Problem is, so far all I have gotten are rejections.  Maybe the stories I write do have a home and it is just not the first place I sent it.  But I am not confident about sending my work to lots of people.  If the people I specifically wrote it for don’t want it, then why would anyone else?  This is why I have a collection already, several of those are stories that other people rejected.

This picture is relevant to the story I just finished.

But now that I am actually thinking about it only two are.  Three of them I wrote just for this collection.  The one many people say is best “Red, in Tooth and Claw” was never submitted anyplace and it is a really good story.

This is on my mind today because I just finished a story yesterday.  And I am going to be sending it to an editor/publisher that has turned me down twice now.   Every call she puts out is perfect.  I read it and I think “This is wonderful, I can do this!”.  Part of me knows it is sort of stupid to keep writing things for her.  But I really like all the stories that she has written and I feel like our work is similar, though different enough.  And hers is of course better, since she has been doing this a lot longer.

I am pretty sure she is going to turn me down again.  And this is new, up until today every story I have sent I felt was going to get accepted.  I think “oh, yeah, I got this one”.   But I don’t have any confidence in this story getting accepted, which is odd, as this story is really good.But should I send it to other places if it is rejected?  Should I send it to other places now?

How many markets do you submit stories to? How do you decide if a market is a good fit for your work?

Post Publishing Doldrums

For the last few months putting out this collection of stories was my main goal as a writer. I did some other writing too. I submitted and got rejected for an anthology and worked on a novel idea. But now the book has been released and I feel sort of flat.

What now?

I don’t expect this book will do well. So far I have sold 7 copies, which I have to admit hurts my feelings a lot. I am trying not to let it, but it is hard. I am a big supporter of the arts where I live. I spend more money than I care to calculate right now on plays, local music festival, my friends’ art and their artistic endeavors. I go to art auctions and give donations to local groups. I am not saying I expected these people to support me, not exactly. But I expected some sort of boost. I know, I sound like Earl in “My name is Earl” – “You do good things, and good things happen”. And now I feel sort of stupid for having these expectations.

I am trying not to take this personally, but it is really hard. Sure, lots of people might not like the sort of stuff I write. And that is ok. I give time and money to the thing I do because I like them and think the work they do is good and worthwhile. I wonder how many people think what I am doing is worthwhile?

I need to think about my next moves? Should I start submitting short stories to anyone who will take them? Should I work on a novel? Should I take a break and get a real job? Should I try to save up money and go to a writer’s workshop like Clarion West? I could use the pointers and practice, but I could use the contracts even more?

To the people who read my blog who have some success at selling their work, do you have any advice? How do I get my stories to the people who would enjoy them? What is a good balance between traditional publishing and self-publishing?

This is Cheese-Burger taking a nap. This is about how I feel right now, but that is ok. After he sleeps like this for a few hours he is full of energy, so it must be a restful way to be.