I Made It!

I am doing a happy dance right now because I received an email from Amazon with great news: my books have amassed enough sales so that I have reached the required minimum $10 sales mark to get paid!

I have reached the minimum.  I’ll take it and continue with my happy dance.

Being an e-book author, you are pretty much your own team for the most part.  Marketing, editing, cover design, etc are fields you often have to take on yourself in addition to, oh yeah, writing the books.  So when you hear that you are making it, you are overjoyed.

It’s been a slow struggle.  I will be the first to admit that my sales are not phenomenal or that my books are not hotcakes flying off the e-book shelves.  But they’re great books I worked hard on and worth a read.

Thank you to everyone who has helped make this possible and continues to make this possible.  I’m talking about you, Reader.  A writer would be nothing without readers, and I thank you.

And resuming happy dance.

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Help With Kindle Formatting For Your Manuscript

Last night, I was reading a post on thinkinglazy (thinkinglazy.wordpress.com) about how the blogger has decided to publish their story on Amazon Kindle.  As I was reading their post, I had a déjà vu moment because around this time last year was when I really thought more about publishing my books on Amazon Kindle.  After conquering my fear of heading out into the great unknown – the Internet – I published both books on Kindle the end of last summer.

When I decided I was going to publish on Kindle, I began doing my research on manuscript formatting.  My head felt like it was spinning worse than on an upside down rollercoaster.  There was no red, bolded section on the Kindle formatting guides I found that read: The Way You Wrote Your Manuscript Is the Wrong Format, You Will Have To Completely Reformat It This Way.  Instead, I was left searching for simple instructions that did not make me feel like a total tech loser on how to format my manuscripts so that they would not look extremely distorted on Kindles.

In all my research, I found one site that was the most useful.  It’s an article written on the site WOW! Women On Writing, and it is appropriately titled “How 2 Format Your Manuscript for Kindle and/or NOOK.”  This is the link to the article: http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/46-How2-FormatManuscriptForKindle.html

I hope it helps!  As always, best of luck with your writing!

Confessions Of A Writer

On the left side of this blog you will find an addition to the menu: Confessions Of A Writer.  I decided to start this series because often times, when I sit down to update this blog, I draw a blank.  So here are some of the secrets I have been trying to keep from readers because I hope you do not judge me in a bad way.  I still hope you do not judge me, but I hope this will give you a better sense of who this blogger/author is behind all those dang posts.  Note: The page (you can get there by clicking on the page’s title on the left side at the top of this blog) will be updated as more Confessions come to mind, but these are the confessions of this writer so far.

Confessions of a Writer:

1. When I click on my Amazon Reports page to see if anyone has bought either of my books, I get wicked excited when I see someone has.  That balloon quickly pops when I also see that they then returned said book(s) as soon as they accidentally bought them.

2. I get jealous when I read another person’s blog, and I see that they have thousands of blog followers.  The number of followers I have is still in the teens.  I feel small.

3. I have this panicky knot in the middle of my stomach that a year from now, not more than fifteen people in total will have read my books.  I try to untangle that knot through many self-therapy sessions, but it keeps getting tangled in places.  I am working up to burning the knot all together, erasing the very thought from my brain.  It’s a long, dubious road to get to that point.

Newtown Gives New Perspective

What is being called a tragedy occurred in Newtown, CT where a massacre took place at an elementary school.  I say what is being called a tragedy because the word tragedy does not seem to encompass the absolute atrocity of what happened.  My heart and prayers are with the people of Newtown and those affected.

I read literature that could be called dark, and my stories could be categorized as dark urban fantasies as well.  Sometimes I worry that the material in my books has the potential to turn readers off.  Then I watch the news and realize the world we live in is much darker than anything that the imagination could come up with.

There is a silent violence implied with the death of any child, but the Newtown slaughter was not violence.  No, violence is too tame of a word.  If there is a word whose definition is a chasm of evil and hatred, then that word would describe what took place.

As an author, I am constantly concerned about the popularity of my books.  When I heard about Newtown and saw the grieving faces of the individuals on the news, it reminded me that book sales, sales ranks, and “making it” in the publishing world are not the most important things in life.  It’s just sad that something as terrible as Newtown had to remind me of that.

We have a tendency to get so caught up in our own lives that we often overlook the faces of those in need of our compassion.  We are able to get alerts for when someone posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media, but what about alerts for the people who do not come up on our immediate radars?

They say that the world is advancing, but perhaps the individuals needs to first advance before they can enter this supposedly enlightened world.

Giving Thanks

I technically should have updated this blog with my Giving Thanks post on or before Thanksgiving, but I was the one to cook Thanksgiving dinner around my house and it is a lot of work!  But my attitude is that there should not have to be a designated day to remind us to give thanks; we should wear an attitude of gratitude every day.  So here is my Giving Thanks post:

First of all, thank you to all the people who read and follow this blog and/or my other blog, Living With Celiac Blog (livingwithceliacblog.wordpress.com).  I love logging on to my dashboard to see the bar graph go up to show how many people read the blogs.  It makes someone who was not the cool kid in school feel cool.

Going along with that, I am thankful for the people who follow me on Twitter.  I feel awkward calling them my followers because that makes me feel slightly cult leaderish.  Instead I like to think of them as individuals who choose of their own free will to read my tweets or at least include me in their list of people they like to read about on Twitter.

I am also thankful that some people have purchased not one but BOTH books either off of the Amazon Kindle store of the Barnes & Noble NOOK store.  You have made the effort put into The Hunted and Darkness Calls worth every second I was plugged to my keyboard, those late nights and early mornings worth the extra mug of hot chocolate, and made me feel all “You like me!  You really like me!”

I tried to be express this in the Acknowledgements page of The Hunted and Darkness Calls but I am not always the best when it comes to putting into words the thanks my family and friends deserve.  I love my family; thanks to them I am blessed to say there has never been a moment I have not felt loved.  I love my friends; they were my first readers, my first editors, and the first people outside of my biological family I felt comfortable enough to share my stories and story ideas with (I say biological family because I consider all my friends part of family).  If it wasn’t for them The Hunted and Darkness Calls would still just be files on my computer collecting dust (or would that be bytes?).  They encouraged me to get my writing out there for others to see because they made me believe my writing deserves to be read.

As a bonus thanks, I am throwing in the fact that I survived shopping at Walmart on Black Friday during the wee hours this morning.  Thank you, Jesus, for not letting anything bad happen to me.  And thank you to the kind employee who saw that I was struggling to carry all my items because they ran out of carts by the time I started shopping, and who hunted down a shopping cart for me to use before my arms fell off.  Let’s just say shopping during Black Friday without a cart gave me a weights workout.

To give thanks and to get more into the holiday season, I decided to take part in another holiday tradition other than posting about what I am thankful for; I wrote a letter to Santa.

Yes, you read that correctly.  I wrote a letter to Santa Claus.  Every year I see the Macy’s commercials asking for Letters to Santa; letters can be dropped off at a mailbox in the Macy’s stores and for every letter received Macy’s will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation up to a million dollars.  It’s a great way to give back and to get in touch with that part of you who stayed up as late as you could on Christmas Eve to try to hear Santa on the rooftop.  Help those in need hear hope this holiday season.

Making the Internet My Minion

Lately I have been having an energy burst when it comes to writing and doing the things writers should do in terms of tweeting, blogging, and over all just trying to reach out to the audience more.  At first I thought it might have to do with some planet entering a moon phase or some other astrological explanation, but I think the reason behind this focus is more ordinary: I do not like my job.

No, not my job as a writer.  I have been working as a substitute teacher for the past year and a half, and to say that I thought my life would be different by now is putting it mildly.  Substitute teaching was the first job I was able to get out of college (thank you, economy) and no, I do not want to be a teacher nor did I go to college to become one.  I was an English major who wanted to get a job writing for a newspaper or magazine.  Because I wrote a column for my college newspaper and was the assistant editor for Arts & Entertainment for a chunk of time, I thought when it came time to apply for the job I wanted I stood a good chance.  Oh what they do not tell you in Career Services.

Despite not getting the job I thought I would post-graduation, I came out of my first year substitute teaching being able to say that I enjoyed my job.  Then a lot of somethings happened.  As I mentioned in my last blog post, I fully realized I want to be a writer and started taking steps towards having the life I always wanted.  I also realized come the start of the school year that somewhere along the line I outgrew substitute teaching.

The first year I subbed provided me with a platform, the space I needed to figure my life out and to actually answer that age-old question of “What do I want to do with my life?”  As I started my second year I am currently in, I felt like substitute teaching has morphed into this dollhouse; when I was younger I had this pink dollhouse that I thought was so huge, but when I was older I looked at it and it was not as big anymore (in fact I felt big looking at it).  Unfortunately the economy is still such that this is still the only job I can get (and believe me, I searched for others and applied).

Instead of letting my dislike fester, I decided to channel my frustration into my writing career.  I am finally getting good about tweeting, blogging, and not dragging my feet to actually sit down and, well, write.  On Twitter I am tweeting every day now, and more than once at that.  I created author pages on Amazon and Goodreads that include my biography.  I am spreading the word about my books, bringing out my inner marketing persona (she wears black stilettos I would otherwise be too afraid of wearing out of fear of breaking my ankle and is the equivalent of mental dynamite in board rooms).  In other words, I have made the internet my minion in building my writing universe.

No Longer a Drifter

In the November issue of Cosmpolitan magazine there was an article that caught my eye (no, not that article) about something known as the drift, something which occurs when you allow circumstances, other people, and anything that is not you to make decisions for you and shape your life.  The result of a drift is you realizing your life is not where you would like it to be, often regretting what could have been.

Over the summer I realized I was in my own version of a drift.  Last year I applied to PhD programs in English in hopes of getting into at least one.  I jumped through all the hoops: I took both the GRE and English Lit GRE; I revised and updated my résumé to include the various literary conferences I presented at as well as my publication in an academic, peer-reviewed journal; I chose the strongest writing sample I had, a tweaked version of the article that was published; and I wrote a Personal Statement where the only thing that could possibly have been missing was the glaring neon sign attached that read “I am awesome you should totally accept me into your program.”

The grad school thing did not work out as I was not accepted into a single program I applied to.  I found myself asking the question I had asked myself many times before: what do I want to do with my life?  The only difference was that this time I had to answer it.

The answer was one I always knew but was afraid to say: I wanted to be a writer.  So why then was I trying to get into grad school, a decision my heart was not in?  Grad school seemed like the logical decision given my academic background and strong résumé.  My professors in college encouraged me to look into graduate study given my interest in academic research.  So when it came time to not sit around the house anymore grad school seemed like a good choice.

When I did not get into grad school it put things into perspective for me as I fully realized I should be focusing on the life I actually want to have, not the one I think I should want to have.  I had two books already written, so I self-published them on Kindle and NOOK.  I started this blog to begin with then added a second blog when I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  I created a Twitter account.  Most importantly, I started being exactly that: a writer.