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I tried

Today I ran home for lunch thinking I would do a short video review of the novel I just finished listening to. I was so excited. The house was empty and I could just turn on the camera and talk for a bit.

But the house wasn’t empty. My daughter was home, in between classes and work, and taking a nap in her room. Okay, I thought, she’s napping I can still record. Right?

Wrong.

Staring at the camera, ready to speak, I froze. This isn’t unusual for me. I almost always freeze in front of a camera unless I’m talking to friends. I’ve managed to do a couple of videos on my own, but they are rare, and they always make me feel self conscious. Sometimes, like today, worse then others.

As I left to drive back to my office I wondered why. Why is it so difficult to just talk to the camera. Is it the big eye starting at me? Is it the fact someone might see my face and hear my voice and judge me because of it?

I do hate my voice. I think it sounds high and squeaky, like a little girls voice, and I hate it. I hate seeing my face on the computer. I can’t even watch my podcast because it makes me so uncomfortable. But I don’t think it was any of those things.

Honestly, driving away from my home and thinking really hard about it, I was embarrassed. Embarrassed that my daughter, in the next room, would hear me. Embarrassed that someone I knew face to face would see me stumbling over my words. Embarrassed that I would even think someone would want to hear what I had to say.

Writing and publishing is easy. I put my work up and if someone wants to read it they will. I don’t have to worry about it. I don’t have to feel embarrassed because they are choosing to seek it out and view it. Some part of me knows it’s the same with videos and at the same time… I don’t believe that.

Worse, I know where this comes from.

I never learned the art of making friends. It’s even harder to keep them. A huge part of this was my marriage. My boyfriend calls me Rapunzel as  I was kept in a tower, away from everyone for most of my life.

Before marriage we lived in a little plot of land far from anyone else. My parents were usually away and the only company had were my three sisters who I did not get along with. So I spent most of my time reading. Even at school.

After my marriage I started having children. I tried to make friends, but I didn’t know how. I was shy, and scared. Honestly I don’t even know how I got married except that after several women cheated on him he finally picked me because I couldn’t cheat on him. I didn’t have friends.

One day, many years into my marriage, I told my husband how frustrated I was with it. I was loanly, and he was gone a lot. Why couldn’t I come hang out with him and his friends?

“They think you’re a bitch,” he said.
“But why?”
“Because you left the room to go watch cartoons with the children and never said a word.”
“But they were smoking. You know I can’t breath smoke, I just start coughing and can’t breath. I thought it says more polite to quietly excuse myself than make a fuss. Why didn’t you explain?”

He never explained. He never encouraged me to make friends. In fact it was just the opposite. There were excuses of why I couldn’t go out. Accusations of the few friends I had saying and doing things behind my back. Lack of transportation. Lack of phone. Lack of money.

So I spent my time, locked in the tower with my books.

When you’ve been locked in the tower for so long the outside starts to look scary. You are told people are out to get you, steal your man, use you and throw you away. You’re afraid. But the tower is safe. The books are good. And everything is okay.

I look outside and I want so badly to be happy and healthy and have friends. I want to call someone up and say “let’s go to the movies” or get coffee or just go to the zoo. I want that so much, and every time I try I… I want to cry.

It’s easy to stay in the tower. And so hard at the same time.

The camera, staring at me with its unblinking eye, is a window to the outside. A path out of my tower.

But I will keep trying. Keep pushing that button. Keep crying. Eventually, someday, maybe I can break free of this tower.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2014 in Commentary

 

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What’s New?

If you’ve been following my blog for any ammount of time you know I’ve been working on a novel, “Mermaid’s Curse.” I’ve posted a few snippets of the content, and I’ve gotten some good feedback from people who have read it. THey like the pace and the tension between the characters. They find the plot, what I’ve mentioned of it, good.

First, what’s changed: It is no longer a single novel.

While writing this novel, which was suppose to be 80,000 words at least, I discovered that the story had a natural break in the middle of it. The first half is about Marizza and Artiro, how they meet, fall in love, and eventually have Okira. Okira is the cursed mermaid in the title. The second half is about Okira and Brother Hawk, and how they break the curse. Two distinct tales balance around the same curse, but focusing on separate people.

Then I got to the end of the second part and realized there was a third story. The curse was broken, but no one is safe until they can keep the curse from ever happening again.

So, I’ve decided that the tale of the “Mermaid’s Curse” is a trilogy, not a single novel.

At this moment, book 1 is finished. Book 2 is almost finished. And I have a complete plot of book 3. The first two books come in at roughly 50,000 words each. (Yes, that’s 100k words. It just kept growing.)

When will they be out? That’s a really good question. I’m not sure. I would like to put them out three months apart. The first book is done so I think it’s time to get it edited and start working on a cover. Give me a month to figure some things out and I’ll let you all know more.

Till then, here is a Pinterest board of things inspiring the writing, and here is a newsletter you might want to join to get more information.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in On Writing

 

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What I Learned from Neopets

ponyI use to play Neopets every day. I’d log in, do my dailies, play some games, then do something else only to come back later in the day to play my favorite games again. I figured if I was going to play those silly little flash games I may as well get something for my trouble. That “something” was a digital pet with color patterns, digital toys, digital books to read, and hours of time… wasted. Right?

I do check in with my Neopets now and then. Now it’s more to waste a little time in between writing, or when I have a spare moment available. Usually my pets are starving when I get there, and they stay starving more often then not. But as I was playing today I realized there were some things about Neopets that reflected lessons I’d learned in my every day life. Lessons that a child playing Neopets could easily understand and use later on.

Buy low, sell high!

This could be a stock exchange commercial. But seriously, it works. It works when you’re buying supplies to make jewelry or trinkets to sell  in your Etsy shop. It works when you’re sourcing the paint for your canvas, or the fabric for your dress. It works when you are scheduling your time for working on your novel. Put in less money then you sell it for. Money includes effort, time, etc.

But remember, the first few are usually the loss leaders. You don’t make money on them, you make money on volume. So don’t out price yourself. Realize that you probably will have to settle for breaking even for a little while until you manage to gain a following and some fans, and then you can go hog wild and make a living.

The more stock the more sales

This was the one that got me thinking about this article. Neopets gives you your own shop where you can sell the digital items you’ve gathered. I was filling up my shop, setting prices, when it dawned on me: the more items in my shop the more likely I was to have sales.

It wasn’t just that my shop would be more visible because I was more likely to have the specific item someone was looking for. It was the fact that the more I had in my shop the more people might just find my shop organically, and the more spur of the moment purchases they might make. Even if the prices were high. Even if they didn’t necessarily want that copy of “Babaa Care”.

It’s the same with my own Amazon store. The more books I have in there the more likely I am to get a random customer. The more likely he is to just pick up a couple of things instead of just one while he’s there. It works with other types of merchandise as well. Who goes into a shop that only sales milk? No, we want a store where we can get eggs, bacon, and cheese too. So give your customers what they want. Create more things for your shop.

Work a little every day for the best rewards.

A big part of Neopets is the dailies. Every day you can go to a website that has a link to all the dailies, or you can remember them. I preferred the websites to start with, though few of them listed all the daily activities you could do. Each activity gave you a new item, a few neopoints, or an avatar. Each one got you closer to the million neopoint mark in your bank.

But this applies to the real world as well. Every day, adding a little bit to your art, or writing, or music.. every day studying or going to your day job. It all adds up, little by little, till you have something to show for it. It’s just another reason for me to write every day, even when it sucks. Even when it’s hard.

Nothing Lasts Forever

Neopets often add items that are limited time, or seasonal. They change games, update areas, add and subtract things. Everything changes, both online and off. Nothing lasts forever. And one of the things you learn in Neopets is that it pays to collect those things that are limited. Just like comic books in the real world. If only a few people can get them, or if they disappear over time, then they slowly become more valuable.

Gambling doesn’t pay.

There is a bit of controversy around the gambling available on Neopets. They have their own version of the Lottery, and scratch cards. You rarely win. In fact you make more money from scratch cards by selling them in your shop then you do by actually scratching them off. Other things, like Poogle Racing and Keno allow you to pay in money, but rarely pay out. Thankfully it’s all neopoints, but you get the picture.

The virtual doesn’t, and shouldn’t, stay virtual.

Some time ago Neopets added real life items to their catalog. Plushies, console games, wearable, etc. Working in digital media as I do with books this is a great lesson for me as well. Digital items shouldn’t always stay digital. There should be some branching over to the 3D world. What if I made a plushy that I could sell? Or a poster? Or wearables? It’s a great marketing strategy and makes the real life and digital life closer to each other because you have something you can touch and feel on this side of the screen. What’s more, they always gave a digital item with the real world item. Tokens, free items, and digital merch to go with the plushy you bought. These items were FREE for Neopets to give away, so it made sense to add value to their real world objects by having digital items go with it. As a writer/artist/etc you can do something similar. Add QR codes for free books, or digital backgrounds. Give something digital away with every real world purchase. At the very least a free (or greatly reduced) ebook with every print book.

I’m sure there are more, but I am too tired to think of them.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2014 in Commentary

 

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What’s Passion?

I just put out a new Newsletter that you can see here. In there I share some my new videos from YouTube, and one of my favorite YouTube channels.

You can also subscribe to my newsletter and I’ll send you a free book.

Just a reminder, Footprints will be free this coming Saturday and Sunday. Prophecy by Barlight and Small Bites 1 are now perma-free if you’d like to get them. (You might notice that I’ve updated the cover on Prophecy by Barlight. I’ve also updated Potion Shop, and done a little adjusting of Twilight Tales font. I think I’m finally happy with my current covers.)

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Posted by on October 10, 2014 in Updates

 

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Around the Web (and FREE)

footprintsminiToday marks the first day of “Footprints” being FREE. The story of a man who travels to his families cabin after his fathers death to deal with his loose. But there’s something out there in the woods. Find out what happens. It’s a quick read, and it’s free for this weekend.

And as a reminder you can get news updates every couple of weeks, and a free gift if you sign up for my newsletter here.

Now for the links for things going on around the web:

Give customers what they want. (A long, but really interesting article from Hugh Howey.)

Gumroad iPhone app that lets authors sell direct. (Droid is in the works!)

What happens to a traditionally published author when his publisher goes belly up?

How accurate are SF space battles? (video)

10 famous authors that failed before hitting it big.

 R.L. Stine wrote 420 books… I need to write more.

The small details in writing.

 

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2014 in On Writing, Stories

 

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Do you want updates?

I finally figured out how to do the news letter. Mailchimp was a bit of a pain to figure out, but once it clicked… well, now I can send out updates every other week and let readers know what’s coming up.

Speaking of which, here is this weeks newsletter. Just a quick update on progress of Mermaid’s Curse, and letting everyone know about the upcoming freebie this weekend.

And if you’d like to get updates once or twice a month about what may be coming up, and progress on current works, then feel free to sign up here for the newsletter. Plus, there’s a free gift for joining.

 

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2014 in On Writing

 

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Perspective

scarecrowPerspective is a tricky thing. In drawing you pick a point in the distance, and you draw everything angled toward that point. But in life?

I’ve been working on “Mermaid’s Curse” since last November. I had written a really basic 1000 word plot before then, but I really started working on it during NaNoWriMo. Now that NaNo is just a month away I am acutely aware of the fact that it’s been almost a year and my novel isn’t finished yet.

But let’s get some perspective. This is the third novel I’ve written. The first two took me five years each to complete, and the first was TERRIBLE. The second is still sitting on my hard drive awaiting a day when I might finally be able to fix it, because it’s a good story, I just wasn’t a good writer when I wrote it.

“Mermaid’s Curse” is now 93,000 words long. It’s the longest single work of fiction I’ve ever written. And I think it’s good. Okay, it needs editing, and maybe a little trimming here and there, but I wouldn’t be embarrassed to let people read it. More importantly: I’m almost done with it.

I’m seven chapters away from pushing the novel away and saying “YAY! It’s done! I can give it to the editor and not look at it again for a while!”

Self imposed deadlines tell me I’m slow, lethargic even, as I watch other writers churn out thousands of words a day while I barely manage 500. That critical voice tells me I should have had this done MONTHS ago as I still struggle over how to write the final battle scene.

But one year is so much better than five! I should be excited and happy, even a little proud of myself that I am writing as quickly and well as I am at the moment. Not only did I write thirty-seven chapters of high fantasy adventure, I did a full edit on thirty of those chapters, and polished them as well as I was able. Seven more chapters, and a final polish, and it will be FINISHED. In a year.

When I take a step back and get some real perspective it makes me excited for the next project. Each one goes a little faster, so maybe the next novel will be done in six months. The next one after that in three. One step at a time.

If something isn’t quite going the way you want it to just take a step back and look at it from a different angle. Maybe from a new perspective there is still something good about the situation. Lost your sock? SHOPPING!  Lost a job? Great time for a new one. Computer blew up? You needed an upgrade anyway. Computer crashed and you lost your almost complete novel? (Okay that one sucks, go back up your novel right now!)

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2014 in On Writing

 

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