Embracing Your Cinematic Brain (my guest vlog on Word Nerds!)

Hey guys! This week I was invited to guest vlog on the YouTube channel Word Nerds. I decided to talk a bit about my cinematic writing style and how I fluctuated between hating it and embracing it. At the end of the day, I just love stories, and I’m open to the myriad of ways in which they’re told. Check it out below!

20% Work for 80% Improvement: Applying Pareto’s Principle To Your Writing

My fiancé works in quality control and safety. A year or two ago, his company sent him to some training, which was based heavily on Pareto’s Principle, which he explained to me as “if you fix 20% of your problem, the results will improve 80%.” For him, I believe the principle was used to demonstrate that 20% of hazards cause 80% of injuries.

More generally, Pareto says that 20% of the cause equals 80% of the outcome, and this is often applied to wealth distribution in society or the client stable of most businesses (80% of wealth is owned by 20% of people, 80% of your income comes from 20% of your clients, 80% of crime is committed by 20% of criminals, etc.) What’s funny about the 80/20 principle is how universal it is for every discipline. It is such a consistent rule of the universe that it occurs naturally like sacred geometry. It’s kind of eerie.

pareto

I feel creeped out already.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, some have said that 80% of your success as a writer will probably only come from 20% of your writing. The other 80% of your work might never be published or will bring you little success – except practice and perseverance are valuable things to gain from writing, period, so this really isn’t a loss. I think this rule can be used during your revision process though, to prioritize how fixing small/moderate problems can result in vast improvements. It’s a bit more nebulous, because you can’t really measure whether something is 70% or 80% better in quality, but in general I’ve found that fixing small things goes a long way to making me feel like I’ve written a totally different book.

I have been told that the weakest part of Paradisa is my characterization. I have (thankfully) not created a bunch of unlikable emo crybabies that the reader wants to throttle, but I have tried so hard to keep my characters likable that they’re bland. The emotions are told instead of evoked (darn my right brain self). They’re a little underdeveloped. We don’t get a good sense of their ordinary world. We aren’t ever sure how they’ll react in a given situation because we don’t know them well. My Pitch Wars mentor has given me some great tools for how to fix this, and it inspired me to go back to the Pareto Principle and finish this post I started long ago.

Because roughly 20% of a book is characterization. The rest is probably 20% plot, 20% style, 20% world building, and 20% everything else – pacing, diversity, research, continuity, conflict, tension, etc. We’re talking pure craft here, not how much is important to you when you pick up a book. So I’m going to treat plot and style equally, as they do matter and are judged just as harshly when you hand your manuscript to an agent.

By fixing the characterization – this fifth or quarter of what makes my book a novel – I probably will improve Paradisa by 80%. Think about it – a good book with okay characters versus a good book with great characters. One might stick with you for the rest of your life while you’ll probably forget about the other by next year. Careers are made or destroyed based on that audience response. It’s not trivial. And it’s so easy to fix, compared to that result gap. You don’t have to rewrite the whole book or reinvent the wheel. You just have to zone in on that 20% and carve it to the fullest potential.

This works for plot too. My plot stunk in Act I for several of my drafts. It felt like the characters had no agency. They were invited to be the characters of a fantasy novel and they said yes. Once I fixed the character motivations, oh man. Such a breath of fresh air. A couple of rewritten chapters and that plot was flowing like Dune spice.

Even if you don’t buy into the raw numbers or statistics, this is still a good message to take home for anyone in the Pitch Wars 2016 Revision Club, or those who are simply editing their long suffering manuscripts. If you’re staring at the page wondering why it’s not coming out right, try to focus on improving one sphere that doesn’t work. The results from that one improvement could raise the whole book to another level.

Cthulhu smiles upon me

Our lord and savior Cthulhu can be a temperamental being. But maybe he’s feeling lenient now that his presidential campaign is going so well. Just when things were starting to get crazy, and I was worrying how I’d have enough time in the day, the stars were right again.

Two of my video projects got delayed – one a week, and the other a month. But it works out. Instead of having an extremely front loaded August, I now have an evenly spaced August and an evenly spaced September. I’ve picked up one, maybe two contracts to fill in the gaps in early August, and I’m definitely on track to meet my goals for the year. Contracts are getting signed, invoices are coming in, work will (eventually) make it to my portfolio for show-offsies.

I am impatient, as you all know, but I’ve already got half of my year end profit goal on the books, and the other half will probably come with my highly likely but still unsigned leads. Honestly, if I did not book another lead for the rest of the year, I would probably meet my goal. And it may have to reach that point. I have a couple of really big projects coming up. I have two clients who, assuming one actually hires me and the other continues hiring me, could theoretically supply 2/3 of next year’s goal alone. Dunno if I want all my eggs in that basket, but we’ll see how much time I will need for it all.

Paradisa is now with a professional copyeditor, the amazing Leona Wisoker. Leona and I met through AtomaCon and she loves diverse SFF and supporting female writers. I read her first book, Secret of the Sands, and thought she had the most wonderful writing style I’ve ever read and a perfect grasp on psychic distance. Plotwise, we couldn’t be more different – her book was an epic length, slow burn quest adventure while mine is very commercial, short, and very urgent. But I didn’t find that to be an important distinction in choosing her as my editor, because I’m fairly comfortable with my choices in how Paradisa is plotted. To say that much maligned phrase – it is what it is, and the audience will subjectively gravitate towards it or not. What I objectively needed help on is voice and narration and POV, and Leona has that stuff for days, ya’ll.

I’m also participating in #PitchWars! Which could really throw me for a loop if I actually get in, because all of a sudden we’ll have two very fast months of lots of Paradisa revisions (hopefully the copyedits will be here by the end of October, so I’d be able to add them into my #PitchWars revisions too). There are two mentors in particular who I think I’ll see eye to eye with, and two others that are a bit of a gamble. The likelihood of getting picked is low, but I’m hoping to at least get some feedback. I will probably upload my PitchWars bio sometime this week (maybe even today).

Everything else happens during the in between moments. I’ll cram Unreal training in there. I would like to get Devil’s Advocate uploaded to Film Freeway and start submitting it to some film festivals (one’s deadline is today, so I might still have some time…) I submitted to a pub today after an exclusive got rejected. On and on it goes.

This blog, it is a’changin’

Grab a towel and don’t panic – I’m not planning any massive divergence from the stuff my 200+ readers, followers, and friends have already come to expect. This blog has been and always will be a place where I can be myself, talk about my own journey, and express my opinions.

I’ve never claimed to be a blog for “writing advice”, as I strongly believe that we all have our own writing philosophies that work for us. It would be wise of me not to imprint my methods on other people, although I do like sharing what works for me in the hope that people can try it for themselves and see if it helps. Additionally, haven’t we ALL heard about showing and not telling? Haven’t we ALL heard about adverbs and dialogue tags by now?

However, I do update kind of sporadically, my blog is the opposite of SEO optimized, the theme needs a bit of a makeover, and I want to return to the targeted and opinionated content that got me a lot more interaction when I started this blog two (!) years ago. Like “Stop Whining About Book To Movie Adaptations” and “Can You Use Real People As Vectors For Characters?” None of this is advice – they’re conversation pieces meant to get the audience thinking topics that don’t get much attention, particularly from an unusual perspective. I have an inherently contrarian personality, and a background in film. Unlike most of the reading community, I don’t smell books, scorn movie adaptations, or feel that I’m better than people because I read.

So that’s all. I’m hoping to update a bit more frequently, and to target my posts with a question or topic in mind instead of just posting updates about my productivity/progress. I’d like to invite a bit more conversation here, and write stuff that people could perhaps reblog or share or link to with a firm “what she said!” or even an outraged, “who does this person think she is?!” Haha. As always, I’m inspired by whatever creative stage I’m going through, and at the moment it’s 1) finishing the final edits on Paradisa, 2) querying for the first time, 3) a bit more about filmmaking, and 4) trying to publish short fiction/write more short fiction.

TLDR – Same Aether House you love, only MORE! :D

A promising year for Paradisa?

Last year at ConCarolinas, I was given feedback on Paradisa’s opening that sent me into a year long spiral of self doubt. In this past year, I had to decide whether my style and POV choices needed to be modified. I had to decide if I was going to stick with present tense. I also had to figure out how to open my book in a realistic way, and how to reorient my plot to be fueled by character agency instead of relying on the characters to go along with my plans.

I am now on the other side of those choices. I have a manuscript that was well received by my second beta round and, in general, only requires a few more cosmetic upgrades before completion. I have decided to switch the book to past tense, in order to increase my marketability (and I really don’t miss it that much tbh). I also came to the conclusion that while the live slush readers were entitled to their opinions about voice and POV, I cannot force myself to write in a way that is unnatural to me. I asked my second round beta readers about whether the book is “deep enough” in the characters, and one actually said it was too deep. A couple of them said it was too shallow. Most said it was fine. So obviously psychic distance is a matter of taste and I’m not going to chase something unnatural to me just because it appears to be a trend. Deep POV annoys me. I’m sure it annoys other people. Those people are my audience.

I have not changed the opening to Paradisa much since October (although Millie Ho guided me to which line is my perfect opener, and it was a line that originally existed three paragraphs down the page.) I think editing it anymore at this point would be unwise, but I was still scared to have it reviewed by Legitimate Official Gatekeepers. It was my best effort, but that rarely is enough these days.

On Saturday morning at ConCarolinas, I saw that the slush reader for Baen Books was doing a very interactive and intimate face-to-face feedback session for submission packets later that day. He needed a synopsis and a cover letter, along with the first five pages. I had no synopsis or cover letter. Cue me writing like a mad person trying to summarize my book in two pages and give it a back cover blurb. If nothing else, this exercise forced me to create two very valuable pieces of a submission package that I can use later though.

At 4 PM, me and five others entered the room to face the slushmaster general. I didn’t really think of this as a pitch to Baen as much as a gauge of “will submitting my book to a place that takes 9-12 months to respond and doesn’t allow simultaneous submissions be worth it?” And also “are there glaring errors that I need to fix, because seriously, I wrote this blurb letter in 20 minutes of sweaty frenzy and no one has seen it before?” Baen, for those who don’t know, has published John Ringo, David Weber, Mercedes Lackey, Larry Correia, Catherine Asaro, Larry Niven, David Drake, and Tim Zahn. They are one of the smaller SFF presses, but their works have gone on to be nominated for Hugos and other awards. On the downside, their catalog contains the leader of the Sad Puppies, but there are Sad Puppy authors in pretty much every SFF publishing house. And Niven, Flint, and many of Baen’s other authors are far more progressive than I am, so they represent all stripes.

One by one, we brought up our packets. He read our letters aloud, and commented on their execution. He read the first five pages of everyone’s books until he reached a point of doubt/disinterest. When he hit that point, he would go to the synopsis and see if the story was going anywhere. A few times, based on these summaries, he commented that the participants did appear to have a story, but their opening started too early or had too much noise. He said that if he had the full, he might find a point in the synopsis where things kick off and start reading the manuscript again from there.

Honestly, he was one of the most generous slush readers I’ve ever heard of. Most agents offer a rejection if they aren’t captivated in the first line of a query. This guy gives the summary, the writing, and the synopsis a fair chance, and literally hunts for the story. He gives everyone a huge benefit of the doubt and treats manuscripts with great care. I respect that greatly, although I recognize that most agents or publishers will not be so thorough.

Still, out of the six of us, Paradisa was the only submission where he did not stop reading the manuscript pages until they said my time was up. He was engaged enough by the story that he didn’t feel the need to check out the synopsis. I was pretty stunned. Even though he was a nice man and a generous slush reader, he was still very honest with all of the participants. He pointed out areas of weak writing, of confusion, and even of things that annoyed him. He wasn’t sugarcoating things for the sake of it, which makes me feel like his very few words of critique against Paradisa may in fact mean something. Although I may have eventually lost his attention with the rest of the book, I haven’t done anything wrong yet.

I mustered up some courage and spoke to him one on one after the panel. We chatted a bit about what makes a book “a Baen book” and whether mine could fit that mold. It’s still a long shot, as I believe only three books from his slush have been published by Baen in the last eight years. I’m still not sure I will submit to them first, as their waiting period is so incredibly long. But it’s nice to know that I’m on the right track and have gotten the thumbs up from at least one pro. It’s given me the confidence to knock out Paradisa’s final edits this month and maybe start querying it in July.

As a footnote, I also participated in the same live slush panel as last year with the first page of The Shadow of Saturn. They had more positive things to say about it than they did about Paradisa. They just advised me to cut out a paragraph of some poorly paced exposition that didn’t serve the character. But they liked the opening paragraph, and that’s what I wanted to know the most. I wondered if I should open with a paragraph from my childhood, and they seemed to enjoy it, so we’re going with it!

2016 has been a great year so far. I’m stoked to have this renewed confidence in Paradisa, and to take the leap into publishing it. Maybe there’s an agent or publisher for me out there, after all.

My first publication is live!

In all the hubbub of my first film release this weekend (and you should VOTE! FLY MY PRETTIES, FLY :D), I forgot to mention that my first publication went live yesterday too!

The cool thing about Liquid Imagination is that they provide an illustration with every work. It was interesting to have someone conceptualize art based on the poem I wrote. I think Sue nailed it.

Check out my work, and everyone elses’s, here at Liquid Imagination.

(and if you listen to the narration, don’t tell me – I do not like my voice and I don’t know how to read poems lol).

It’s true what they say about darkness and dawn

Let me take you back three years. On May 11, 2013, I graduated from the College of Charleston. It was a Saturday, and I was set to start my first chemist job that Monday. It wasn’t the best job in the world, but it was something. And only one month before, I had been in a very hopeless place.

Job hunting is never easy, but it’s especially difficult when you have no experience. And it seems that no matter how much you apply and no matter what you apply to, you never strike gold immediately. It takes a long haul of hard work and grim rejection. Then, everything starts to work out.

In April of 2013, I had spent 4 months applying to nearly 60 jobs. I only had one interview for a real job, and one interview for Disney World. But within the span of two weeks, I was given a windfall of good news. I was offered jobs from both Disney and that other job. I was offered an interview from MUSC. I was offered an interview from another chemical company called MeadWestvaco. I was given the opportunity to apply for the job I have now.

That cliché about “when it rains, it pours?” Yeah. I learned three years ago how true that is.

But there’s something that dawned on me today as I not only secured my first paying gig for my video company, but a second lit mag offered to publish a piece of mine (yes – two in one week. I’m as surprised as you are). It’s not just a fact that good news tends to show up all at once. It’s also true that good news seems to show up when we need it the absolute most.

I’ve been submitting to magazines on and off since last July.  I did this idly, just to say that I’m putting myself out there. I was not hurt by rejection. I was a little bummed to see that – as of now – my work has made it to the “final round” of judging on five separate occasions but still no dice. Still, I knew that my submissions attempts were largely sidekick to my novels and other large efforts.

And then, as time passed and outside forces weighed in, my anxiety started again. I’ve been pretty open about it these past few weeks. I’ve had acute moments of “what if this isn’t any good?” before, but I can’t remember having a full month or two where I really worried for my future. This is probably the darkest things have gotten for me, even pushing me to the thought of “maybe I should give up writing.” I thought, mind you, that I have never had before.

Then the good news showed up.

When I think back to 2013, my final semester of school was equally dark. I worried for my future then too. I wondered what I would do without a good job – or any job! – to support myself. I needed to move out on my own. I worried what would happen if Austin and I ended up in different cities. There was so much fear bred by uncertainty, and that fear only bubbled the closer I got to graduation. And by April, I was a nervous wreck. I only had a few short weeks to get my life in order and nothing was working out.

Then the good news showed up.

It’s almost as if it waits in the shadows for those lowest moments. It tests us, asking us to keep hope even when things are most dire. Could things have become worse for me had the good news not intervened? Perhaps. With enough rejection, maybe I would have given up writing. But back in 2013, and now, there seems to have been an ebb and flow to my concerns. Just when I start to think “I am seriously worried”, the tables turn.

I don’t need an explanation for it, but I thought I’d offer it as an uplifiting observation. That if you’re at a low point right now – in a place of anxiety and rejection – good news may be fast approaching. Like I said before, persistence tends to get results no matter what order you do things in. If you do something long enough, you’ll be impossible to ignore.

Powered by INTJ Dreams and Lily Allen

Know this song? It’s by Lily Allen. It’s called The Fear and it’s pretty relevant to my life right now. Actually, a lot of Lily Allen’s songs are, but this one in particular. It’s about messed up expectations and wanting things for the wrong reasons. It’s about having your hopes in the wrong place. It’s about becoming a product or a machine of art instead of a person. It’s about losing perspective to fear, and all the irrationality that comes with that.

The other day, for the first time in my life, I thought “I should give up writing.” Literally, that is the first time in my LIFE I have thought that. Writing has always been a part of me. Its continuation has been an inevitable and dependable guarantee for my future. I thought my eyes would turn from brown to blue before I’d stop being a writer.

But then I asked myself why. Why is writing so important to me when it seems so much more vastly important to other people? All these people who write from the base of their guts, and who pour their blood into it. They use writing as a medium for their originality and brilliance. It’s a compulsion for me to tell stories, but mine have nothing new or important to say. My work can be exciting, I think, but it’s a strung together timeline of set pieces with no thematic glue or beautiful language or…anything, really. It all feels so empty when I compare it to the truly moving works of greatness. Greatness has to change the world, but what would I even change?

I could end up successful. I still believe I could get published, or even be famous. But it hit me, upon reading some really beautiful work that I don’t even have the capacity to emulate, that I will never achieve real greatness. On a scale from Michael Bay to Cecil B Demille, or from Stephanie Meyer to Vladimir Nabokov, I might eke out the Bays and Meyers. But I just don’t see myself becoming legendary, and letting go of that dream is tough. I don’t like settling, but I feel like I’m at this stage where I need to accept that publication has to be *enough* for me.

I’m an INTJ, you know. Also known as “the soulless visionaries”. We see beautiful things for no reason. It’s like there’s this wall there preventing my mind from being deep or creative. It’s like I can physically feel my own lack of intelligence. As a personality type, we’re too literal and emotionally shallow. We can’t effectively communicate our ideas. We’re so socially crippled that we can’t even get along with other “misfits.” I feel my personality like a weight on me daily.

Did you ever hear of “The Inklings”, which was a writers group with C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, among others? I always wanted my own Inklings, but it seemed like a pipe dream. I feel like all the gates are up and against me, that I’m not right enough for anyone. That there is just straight up something wrong with me because of the rarity and controversial nature of my personality type, which cannot be fixed or changed or even masked.

Which brings me to an interesting discovery I made while writing this post – C.S. Lewis was an INTJ. C.S. Lewis, who created Narnia in all its hope and beauty. So were Jane Austen and Emily Brontë, who wrote vivid and emotionally moving works of romance. So was Lewis Carroll, who created the extremely imaginative world of Alice in Wonderland. So was Isaac Asimov, one of the greatest science fiction writers ever born.

I wonder how they overcame it. Maybe they used it to their advantage. A lot of advice tells us that we should use what makes us unique. That being different is a way to stand out from the masses. I’ve always thought of my differences as more of a liability – there is such a thing as bad differences, after all. Every time I hear that we should accept ourselves for who we are, I think, but what if you really are terrible? What if you’re a real monster?

I’ve been desperate all my life to be like everyone else. But at the same time, I’ve never wanted a mundane or ordinary life. Finding a way to work with my differences will probably be a constant struggle for as long as I live. I go back to the reason I write – because I can’t not write – and I ponder why I was bestowed with this compulsion if I’m not meant to use it. Obviously I’m supposed to find a way to work with this. I don’t really believe in fate or divine paths, but I do believe in quantum attraction. I think we are naturally drawn to what we can do best, and what our “purpose” is. I’ve always wanted my own sense of purpose to have a larger purpose – to actually influence the world in some way – but maybe my own happiness is enough. Maybe you don’t have to be great to have a great life.

So no, friends, I’m not throwing in the towel. But I still wrestle with the fear every day, as Ra wrestled each day with the darkness. And while I wish I could fast forward to the part in my life when I don’t have to worry about stuff anymore, maybe learning to deal with myself is part of the path.

A Good Start To April

As I said last week, I handwaved March and vowed to get myself together in April. Unfortunately, my body decided that it was not done being sick and that I was going to have a clogged sinus valve of some kind that left my eye pussing for three days and a constant pressure system roaring in my skull. Luckily my sinuses got their crap over with quickly, and I was (mostly) back on my feet by April 1st.

So I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve made strides on some projects. I also got to feel the validation of a few completed tasks as well. That always does my motivation good.

  • The Shadow of Saturn: I need to write 50k words this month to finish my first draft, which is basically NaNoWriMo. And hey, it happens to be camp NaNoWriMo this month, so maybe I should sign up! I’ve already logged 1200 words, and pretty much have to write 2000 words , 6 days a week, to keep up with this goal. No easy feat, but not impossible either. When I wrote the first draft of Paradisa, I was pushing out about 3600 words a day. Hard to believe I ever managed that!
  • Video Business: Almost done with the website. Need to order business cards this week, and make a couple demo reels. I was randomly shooting things with my new DSLR and can hopefully compile that footage into a sizzle reel.
  • Animation/Webseries: So, I haven’t spoken much about this, because I don’t like to talk about projects that are only in the idea stage. And this was a project that, despite my excitement, seemed too ambitious for my skill set. However, I have officially moved past the “in my head” stage to the “I have actually accomplished a kernel of possibility”, and I’m ready to start track this project officially ^_^ Having downloaded Fallout 4 on PC this weekend and leafed through its resource files, as well as tinkering in Source Filmmaker, Silo 2, and the Unity/Cry/Unreal engines, the idea of doing a fanseries is actually within reach…because as much as I’ve moved on to original properties, you can’t take the fandom out of the fangirl :P. More on this later, but I’ll spend most of this month trying out various programs and reassembling a few of the game assets in them. Maybe by the end of the summer, I’ll have a proof of concept together to show off to the fanbase.
  • Indie MoCap: I let this slip last week because of my illness, but I tried out Twitter Promotion and gained 25 followers over the weekend – much more than I anticipated. Not sure it was worth the money, but I guess it was a worthy experiment.
  • Kindle Shorts: Changed my keywords again for Book #1, as sales slipped again. You can check out my first monthly report here, where I break down stuff that worked and stuff that didn’t. I finished Book #2 yesterday, so I’ll publish that early this week.
  • Reading: I’m halfway through Rollback, so maybe I’ll get to 4 or 5 books this month.

Just need to catch up on Dead Air, Paradisa, and the two short stories I plan on writing this month. I still want to make that Cecil B. Demille story happen. I just don’t know where I’m going to go with it.

Cheers to a good April, folks!

 

My Time of Perfect Health May Have Run Out

March has been difficult. All that momentum I built up has been lost to a combination of personal responsibilities (a couple concerts, some social outings, doing my taxes) and feeling generally unwell since the month began.

I’ve had sciatic nerve problems since I was 18, but it’s been rare. Maybe a flare-up once every 3 months. I’ve also had back issues for about two years, but only enough to make me creaky in the mornings and for my shoulder blades to sting if I look down at my phone for too long. But for the last month, I’ve noticed the sciatica becoming more frequent – once a week, then twice a week, and now some spike of it nearly every day. My lower back continually aches, and that pain echoes down my entire lower half. The joints in my arms and fingers and knees hurt too. I feel inflammation everywhere, and am left sore all over.

Autoimmune disease runs in my family. Rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, mostly, but also lupus and narcolepsy. It exists in my cousins and aunts, but also in my grandmother and mother. My 23andMe genetic profile even claims I’m at higher risk for the autoimmune disorders of MS, ankylosing spondylitis (which is basically RA of the spine), narcolepsy, and ulcerative colitis.

So, an autoimmune disease someday plaguing me is not a question of “if”, but “when.” And I’m starting to wonder if “when” is “at the age of 24, because seriously Michelle, you aren’t a teenager anymore.”

I’m planning to see my mother’s rheumatologist soon and get some tests done. It might require a referral, which could take some time. Either way, this has interfered with my life to the point where I’m less productive at my day job – even taking some PTO one day because I was too sore to really do anything – and absolutely unproductive in my home work.

That’s not to say I haven’t made some progress, though. For what it’s worth, here’s the status quo for most of my projects:

  • Indie MoCap: Officially launched and growing. I’ve kept up with posting every weekday, I’m building my Twitter following, and my email list has a few subscribers. As long as I keep plugging away at it, the site should continue to grow and be impossible to ignore.
  • Video Business: I obtained the keys to my PO Box. Honestly, this was so that I don’t have to use my home address on my Indie MoCap mailing list (or any other mailing list). But I may use it for business purposes as well. I also sent in for my tax returns this weekend, and will get my work bonus tomorrow, so I will have enough cash to purchase all my videography equipment this week. Huzzah! It’s all in my Amazon cart waiting to be purchased.
  • Kindle Self Publishing: I’ll show my records in detail after a month has passed, but sales have been shockingly decent. Over 10 days, I have made about $11 in royalties with virtually no promotion and no backlist. I’m ranking #4 in one of my keywords too. That doesn’t seem like much, but I’ve heard so many horror stories about authors making one sale or no sales at all. It’s also worth noting that sales and KU rentals have been steady, with activity occurring almost every day. For this story to basically be selling itself has made me very happy. Someone even took the time to leave a review (which was well rounded and generally positive, but did said there was too much erotica in my erotica story. To which I’m like “…what?”) I’m halfway through my second story and have the cover finished, so that will go up under my other pen name soon.
  • Dead Air Webseries: I missed my editing session last Wednesday, but this episode is an easy edit. I should still have it finished by April.
  • Paradisa Edits: I finally rewrote what two of my betas dubbed The Worst Scene In The Entire Book, ha. I had been procrastinating on that one, so I’m glad it’s out of my hair. Still on track to be done by April.
  • The Shadow of Saturn First Draft: Blerg. I have used up all of the text from my first attempt and now must write from scratch. I am about 10,000 words behind now. I might have to eat my loss on this one and work harder in April. After all, so long as it’s finished in its entirety by May, I’m still good.
  • Side Hustles: Earned some in ShopKick, Ibotta, Receipt Hog, Swagbucks, and Inbox Dollars last week. I think I’m officially passing on iPoll and Qriket because they’re kinda useless. Honestly, once I get a few of those Kindle stories out there, I will probably drop these entirely. Publishing has made me loads more passive income.
  • Short Story: This is a bit unplanned, but I am working on a submission for the “Strange California” anthology right now. It involves Cecil B Demille and the excavation of his Ten Commandments set. Right now I’m in the research stage, but I’d like to write this next weekend.
  • Reading: I’m still on Ready Player One. I might be able to make it through The Call of Cthulhu and one other novel by the end of March. At this point, I’m almost certain I won’t make it to 4.

And then let’s not even talk about animation practice, short story submissions, freelance, or AusmAtari. I’m way behind on all of that.

All things considered, I can lick my wounds and move on. My most important projects are still chugging along. But I can’t really afford to have another dead week. I particularly need to make up ground on The Shadow of Saturn and I need to put more effort into my short works. I’d also like to launch my vid biz to the public in April, which means I need to finish the website and throw some demo pieces together.

Wish me luck and good health, friends. Mentally, I’m in a good place. It’s just frustrating when the body won’t cooperate with it!