Friday, June 29, 2018

It’s All Happening

Sort of.

Here’s the thing, it can be so easy to get discouraged in this writing life. There are millions of books available, so many amazing writers out there, and being an indie is a definite double edged blade.

And I’ll be the first to admit, both edges are usually serrated.

Discouragement can come at any given moment though. Truly, how many of you can say you show up for your job every day, all day, and leave at the end of the day knowing you did great work you didn’t get paid for (yet, if ever)?

I can imagine most, if not all of you, would laugh until you cry then walk away to make a paycheck. Most days, weeks, months, I don’t make a lot. And generally speaking that’s because I started this thing all wrong.

In recent months, weeks, days, I’ve learned from some of the most amazing, successful, indie authors out there about how to better position myself, advertise, release books. How to market. How to really connect with people who want fiction.

But still, this is a slow-slow-fast kind of industry. Overnight success that only took 30 years to accomplish!

So, sometimes it’s difficult to quantify that moment. That one moment where you start seeing things happen. Actual progress and growth in your career. Steady growth. Steady increase in sales.

For someone like me, however, skating by with only a few downloads a month, to see that number spike overnight into double digits will bring on a tinge of giddiness.

Okay, a surge of giddiness!

Giddiness warranting the titling of a blog post ‘It’s All Happening’ I guess.

That day, the double digit spike day, was today. At least, I saw it today. As a gal who hasn’t released a book since last November when Makeup Your Mind dropped, I got out of the habit of checking my KDP reports daily.

I know, I know, don’t set me on fire with scathing comments, please.

Again, let me reiterate how discouraging it can be to do ALL THE THINGS on a daily basis, especially when the monetary results for all that effort are niet 99.9% of the time.

It’s hard to work for free. To create entire worlds and format and promote and about 2,700 other things I do with a book to make it a professionally produced indie publication. Every time.

But I totally chose this life and I wouldn’t change it. I LOVE writing as a career. It just finally hit me recently that I walk around saying ‘I write books for a living’ when in reality the ‘for-a-living’ part is a myth.

That shit is all about to change.

I’m finally learning how to use the system over at the ‘Zon to my advantage. Finally reading the right information, joining the right groups full of writers who aren’t just passionate about putting words down but about the dolla dolla bills, yo.

Because, again, most people don’t work for free. Most people don’t pursue a career with zero salary attached. Those people are called volunteers. And I have no problem with people who want to do that with their lives, I commend them in fact. But that’s not my intention.

This week’s post was fortunate on timing, there happened to be 5 Fridays in the month and I had this bonus week to fill. I’m so super glad I got to fill it with a happy update on the ‘for-a-living’ front.

As I spend my days from now until the end of the year stockpiling fully fleshed out novels/novellas/short stories, all with the intent of publishing on an algorithm-capturing schedule, I’ll be excited to look back on posts like this.

Something to motivate me to KEEP GOING no matter what because, when I do, good things happen.

Because I’ll still be working the rest of 2018 “for free” but at least I know 2019 will shake out to be a banner income year.

Bring. It. On!

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In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Take a Deep Breath

Before every performance, I placed bets with Chris, my boss, as to how many patrons would end up crying by the end of my rendition of “Leaving on a Jet Plane”. The last strum of my guitar produced exactly zero tragedy and total comedy as a group of people, not even listening to me, burst into laughter. I owed Chris ten bucks.

Most of the regulars were here today including Mister Jones with his service dog. His hand-carved cane draped casually on the back of the faded, peach toned, hand painted chair. His left leg shaking as he rapidly tapped the heel of his foot on the wide-plank pine floor. I knew he wasn't listening to my set either. Jones usually turned off his hearing aid the minute he walked through the door at Abacus Coffee House.

I got things together for my next song and glanced at the clock. It wasn't that I didn't appreciate Chris letting me sing during my break but I belted out my heart to a total of about five people on any given day. I mean, who goes for coffee at 4:00 in the afternoon? Medical pros and contractors made up our mini 3:00 rush but this was our slowest hour. It's why he gave me the time but obviously that’s a double edged sword.

The door opened and a stocky guy in a heather gray suit entered as I started up my final song. A cover of Jewel's “You were Meant for Me”. Right in my wheelhouse. Also, perfect for the coffee house crowd ignoring my every move. It was one of those songs that could really take your breath away from melancholy if you listened to the lyrics. Or, it could just as easily fade into the background if you were in the middle of formatting a spreadsheet in the corner of a brightly lit coffee shop. Not when Jewel sings it, of course, but for me that was the usual way of things.

I wrapped up with a ‘thank you so much’ and two people actually clapped, a cursory quadruple clap. Hey, I'd take it. I went to stow my guitar and grab my apron from the office. As my foot crossed the threshold into the tiny room, hardly big enough for the desk, chair, and my guitar case, let alone another person, a hand tapped my shoulder. I spun around to face Mister Fancy Gray Suit. A to-go cup in a cardboard hand protector in one hand, laptop case slung across his chest like he was a bike messenger.

He didn't say a word just winked and handed me a business card. Before I had a chance to look at the card he spun around and took a quick clip to the exit. I was confused but looked down at the card in my hand. White cardstock, a photo of him on one side and a shooting star wrapped around the words Talent Agency. As the words sunk in, I noticed an address, name, phone number, and email address. Wait, what?

My knees almost gave out so I sunk into the chair, still holding my guitar. I stared at the card for what felt like twenty minutes. Lincoln Forrest. Talent agent. And he handed this 2x3 opportunity to me. He saw something in my performance. The one song the guy heard was enough to elicit a card. He wanted me to call him. I could have an agent. I could finally be on track to do what I'd dreamed about doing for the last 15 years.

Just then, Chris popped his head back and asked if I was planning to finish my shift. He disappeared before I could answer. Before my mouth found the ability to again form simple words. My eyes filled with emotion as I realized, this shift could finally be one of my last.

Written above, Take a Deep Breath, inspired by this roll of Rory’s Story Cubes.
If you enjoyed this story, in my new flash fiction series, please share the link, leave me a comment, and don’t forget to come back next month for the next story! You can sign up to get my blogs in email so you don’t miss anything.

I post every Friday, flash fiction stories on the 4th Friday of every month.

Thanks for reading!

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In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Friday, June 15, 2018

It’s Entirely Too Hot For This Now

You saw the title and know what that means…another yard update!

Before we get to that though, if you’re new here feel free to catch up on our improvement debacle, er, journey (in order of completion):

With that out of the way…

The yard.

The pictures.

The fucking Arizona sun and our extreme lack of ability to finish this project before summer.

Now, I know a lot of you reside in places where summer doesn’t come until August, but in the central valley of Phoenix we’ve been flirting with summer since March this year. Seriously, it was 88 degrees on March 22. Better known as spring in these parts.

We lucked out for many of those linked posts above (because the weather seemed to not want to kill us for a minute) and we managed to get some not too hot weather to rake, till, power wash, move thousands of pounds of stone, and everything else we’ve done so far.

That was, until the end of May.

As we neared the end of the redesign. And the end of my effort for this project. However, the gravel and pavers just arrived last weekend.

As usual, pictures will tell the story better than I can. Especially considering I’m still trying to figure out a way to establish a permanent residence in my freezer.

So, yeah.
We started both days getting up at 6, and wrapped work by noon.

Matt started and completed the edging and weedblock
over the past few weekends.

It might look small but the patio will come in around 10' x 10'.

A short fifteen minutes up the road to our gravel yard.

The beachiest gravel we can get our hands on in the desert.
We placed the order date.
They charge day of delivery.
Just that easy.

As promised, they backed in at 7:30AM.
And, that doesn't look like too much, we got this!

Oh, wait a second. Wasn't I the one saying last night:
"No way the pile will take up the WHOLE driveway."
Technically I was right but that only counts if we drive a two wheeled vehicle.

First scoop! (of about 350 wheelbarrows full)

I told Matt nobody will believe this is him
since he isn't wearing his "work outfit" teeheehee

At least I know how to dress for the part.
The long sleeves lasted about 10 minutes, quickly replaced by
short sleeves and 50spf.

Piling begins!
And then we got to work,
neglecting photos in favor of finishing without dying.

Many, many, MANY raked out piles later and we stopped at noon.
Side note, basically everything is covered but...

How does it look like we haven't touched this pile yet?
Looks like we might need to be creative during Sunday placement.

Starting with this.
Gravel was compressed over here by about two inches.
Not anymore!

Also, here.
We haven't known what this concrete thing is since the day we moved in.
So, let's cover it up!

When the Lowes delivery guy showed up with a pallet full
of bags of base sand, patio pavers, and polymeric sand we
asked if he could get it in the garage. His response?
"Sure, Saturday is for off-roading right?"
My new BFF.

See ya red gravel mixed with ten years of decomposing leaf goo!

Like that weird concrete circle never even happened.

We filled in all of this too,
all the way up the mound in the far distance and to the front door.
Buh-bye cracked and destroyed flagstone!
I forgot to get after pics and it's dark as I type this so you'll
just have to trust it looks killer now.

The last remnants of gravel were swept up and dumped in the front yard.
Work completed by 12:00 Sunday afternoon.
We promptly came inside and watched a Naked and Afraid
marathon for the next 9 hours while we cooled off and recharged.
AKA: napped.
Yup. Even me.

Can someone please pass the sunscreen? And a refreshing, fruity drink? It’s time to finally get in the pool and enjoy all this hard work.

Just as soon as we lay the pavers next weekend…

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.