Goals and Aspirations in Review – September 2017

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Remember last month when I gushed about how I had a great month and practically everything went to plan and it was an overall very successful period of time in my life? Good times, good times.

September was not like that. For a variety of reasons (the main one being that I just pretty much felt like an enormous ball of crap for most of the month), September was not a good month at all. I got very little done and built up a lot of stress as a result. So let’s try to get through this one as quickly as we can.

Goal #1. WRITE WRITE WRITE WRITE WRITE.
The month didn’t start off too badly. I’d set myself a 400-words-per-day goal and I did pretty well for the first couple of weeks. But then it all kinda went sideways on me and I ended up writing effectively NOTHING for the second half of the month. All in all I ended up with 3201 blogging words, and 7186 words toward The Other World: Book Two, for a monthly total of 10,387 words. That’s not a bad number at all, but it’s 6000 words less than last month, and given how awesome I was doing at the beginning of the month, it could have been a really good total if I’d kept up the steam.

Mini-Goal #1.a. Publish more erotic fairy tales.
As previously mentioned, I’m removing this goal for the remainder of the year, as I’ve decided to focus my time and energy on The Other World: Book Two instead.

Mini-Goal #1.b. Start writing blog posts again.
If you’ve been hanging around here you know that this has definitely not been happening. I think I wrote one or two posts in September that weren’t just me sharing our YouTube videos, and that was about it. I’m still struggling for topics, to be perfectly honest. I just don’t know what to talk about these days! If you’ve got any ideas, please feel free to let me know!

Mini-Goal #1.c. Find ways to promote the book(s).
This continues to be the goal that I expect to take me to my grave, especially since any substantial effort I do put in is thoroughly NOT rewarded. For example, I recently put the “Nowhere to Hide” e-book up for sale for 99 cents until Halloween. I shared that sale on this blog, my author Twitter account and YouTube Twitter account, our Instagram account, my personal Facebook page, author Facebook page, YouTube Facebook page, and Basement Geeks Facebook group, and my Snapchat account, and I went back and re-tweeted and re-Instagrammed a few times to make sure people were seeing it. So far from that effort I’ve gotten a grand total of 5 sales, and at a 35% royalty rate that comes to a whopping $1.73

Go. Me.

#2. Get healthier.
The way I bounce around on this goal is kinda sad, really. I get super-motivated for a little while and then it all just drains away. Part of it is a lack of results to help keep me pushing forward. We’re an instant-gratification society, but that’s not even what I’m talking about. For example, I put myself through a routine of gradually increasing squats/pushups/lunges/crunches for two months. I didn’t miss a day, and by the end of it I was doing ridiculous numbers of those four exercises. But I didn’t see a single change in myself. I supposed, technically, yeah, I saw a change in the fact that I was actually able to DO those numbers of exercises, but no visual changes, which is what I’m looking for. I couldn’t see any toning, any tightening, or anything of the sort as a result of my efforts, and I actually GAINED weight during the ordeal – probably muscle weight, but it still feels like a kick in the teeth when you’re working so hard. And thus I end up failing to the way-side because it just doesn’t feel worth it if I’m not getting anything out of it.

Mini-Goal #2.a. Walk/run 10k 8k steps per day.
Along with the above goal, this one got demolished in September. I got really lethargic and sedentary in the second half of the month. The first 12 days of the month I hit the 8k goal every day. Then I lost my motivation, as mentioned above. I did get a few more 8k days when we had shopping trips and the like, but I didn’t record them so I can’t report them. I’d say, if I were to guess, I probably had about 15 8k days, but my daily average is likely through the floor because once the lethargy hit I had a ton of days with 4k steps or less. *grimace*

Mini-Goal #2.b. Take daily “me time”.
As previously mentioned, I’m leaving out this goal for the rest of the year because I’m not sure how to quantify and report it.

#3. Work on my online presence – specifically, YouTube.
I need to put this one up higher on the list so that I’m not always ending on a particularly sour note. September was not a good month for YouTube. We were doing pretty good at the beginning of the month, but as I keep mentioning, the second half of the month went to hell and we didn’t record a damn thing for over two straight weeks. There’s not much more I can say about it than that.

Mini-Goal #3.a. Learn to respond immediately.
This, I can actually say, I am getting better at. Particularly when it comes to comment replies on social media. I’m still a little slow with emails because they take more time, but I’m getting there, slowly but surely.

Mini-Goal #3.b. Focus more on daily social media.
And last but not least, this one was also affected by the terrible second half of the month, but probably the least-affected. I still managed to mostly keep up with Twitter and Instagram, and Facebook to a lesser extent. Snapchat suffered the most, but that’s also where I have the fewest followers anyway, so it’s not a huge deal.


Okay, now that I’ve thoroughly exhausted myself by discussing my failures, tell me how your month went! Did you accomplish anything in September? Finish anything? Start anything new? Meet any goals? Feel free to let me know!

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You’ve Got to Spend to Make…and I’ve Got Nothing to Spend – An IWSG Post

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First off, this is my first Insecure Writer’s Support Group post since changing over to the new blog, so for anyone dropping in here for the first time: Welcome!

Okay, now that that’s over with…

The past month-and-a-bit have been very up and down for me concerning writing. On the one hand, I set myself a mini-goal to write 300 words per day and I KILLED it, turning out the month of August with nearly 16.5k words. The majority of those words were also toward my WIP, “The Other World: Book Two”, which was a big deal for me because I’ve been stagnating with that for quite a while now and it’s nice to see that I’ve crossed a point wherein I can force myself to write something – anything – in order to move forward.

However…

There’s another goal that I’ve been working on all year through, and I’ve experienced little to no success with it at all. That goal, in short, is to find new ways of promoting my books.

Why is this so difficult?

In short, the problem that I’ve found is that any kind of promotion past your basic pimping on social media (which, honestly, only works for so long before people’s eyes start glazing over and they start ignoring  you) costs money. Money that I don’t have. Ads? Costs money. Sending out free books in return for reviews? Costs money. Submitting your book to competitions? Nearly always costs money. Sure there are lots of websites that will temporarily promote your book for free, but most of them have requirements such as a certain number of reviews on Amazon, or your book has to be free at the time of the promotion, or it has to fit a particular genre/length/language/what-the-hell ever. Overwhelmingly, the methods that allow you to simply promote your book as it is, for the price you want people to pay for it, require you to fork out cash in advance with no guarantee that you’ll ever see a return.

I’ve been struggling with this particular issue for ages now, feeling that, if I just kept looking, EVENTUALLY I would find a couple of options that would allow me to promote my book for free, but none have ever come. I even tried contacting book-based sub boxes, only to be (eventually, after months of throwing myself out there to multiple companies) patiently schooled on the fact that, due to the logistics of such a thing, I would be required to front the printing and shipping costs. Theoretically I would be paid back later, but the initial cost would be multiple thousands of dollars more than I even have, making the whole thing a moot point.

And so I sit here, and I grumble, and I look at my 4-5 sales per month and I wonder if there will ever be a day when I’ll actually be able to feel like it was worth it putting all those countless hours into writing/revising/editing/formatting/and so on.

It’s definitely quite depressing.

I press on, because the fact of the matter is that I love writing and I do it as much for the sheer enjoyment as I do for the chance of ever actually making a living from it, but it definitely chips a little more away from my soul every time a possible promotion method turns out to be either useless or too costly.


Thanks for reading my little rant! If, by chance, you’d like to check out the books that I’ve been so desperately trying to promote, you can find them right here! Cheers!

Put a Little Fan in Your Fiction

A Question!

What are you thoughts on fan-fiction?

Myself, personally, I’ve been writing fan-fiction since long before I knew that fan-fiction was a thing. My first real, recognizable foray into the world of FANDOM was when my two best friends introduced me to the original Star Wars trilogy when we were in the fifth grade, and from there it was only a hop, skip, and a jump before my writer-wannabe self began writing her own stories about the wondrous world she’d been dragged into. My memory is not the thing of legends, so it’s possible that I’m wrong here, but I believe the first fanfic piece I wrote was about a lost female Jedi – who didn’t know she was a Jedi – seeking out Luke Skywalker to train her after the events of Return of the Jedi.

Come to think of it…that sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it?

Anyway.

From there on I wrote a few other Star Wars pieces, never really finishing any of them, but just enjoying writing out the best scenes and re-reading them again and again, because I can occasionally be a little full of myself. Later on, sometime around the end of high school/beginning of college, I began to write fan-fiction again, but I moved on to different fandoms. One of the first pieces at this point was a Harry Potter fanfic set in the time the Marauders were in Hogwarts. My best friend had come across something that seemed both strange and wonderful at the time – slash fiction – and I decided to try my hand on it by writing a short story in which Sirius Black and Remus Lupin fall in love. It wasn’t graphic or anything (trust me, there’s plenty enough of that stuff out there), but rather just a sweet little tale about two school-friends realizing they had feelings for one another. I decided to post this particular piece on a new site I’d found – FanFiction.net – and to my surprise it actually got a fair bit of attention. I ended up re-writing it later on to make it a little more profession (although I imagine if I were to sit down and read it now, I’d probably want to die), and since then it has continued to garner a review or two every so often, never ceasing to amaze me that people are still finding it and reading it.

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I still love this thumbnail I used for my user image. :3

There was more, of course…I began a Final Fantasy 3 novelization, but never found the time to finish it, a few other Harry Potter bits and bobs, and several other pieces that I decided to keep personal for a variety of reasons. The long and short of it is: fan-fiction has definitely been an integral part of my growth as a writer.

Of course, there are some who will see this as a bad thing. There are definitely people out there who, for one reason or another, consider fan-fiction to be the lowest possible point in a writer’s background. And to be honest, I find that a bit hysterical. For one thing, if you’re aiming to be a writer, ANY kind of writing is good writing. It might never be published, but it’s practice, and we all absolutely, 100% require practice. Lots of it.

For another thing, though, fan-fiction has brought us an amazing number of excellent works. 50 Shades of Grey aside (gag me with a spoon), some of the best episodes of our favorite TV shows came from fans writing fan-fiction that wound up becoming a real script. Some movies have come into existence in the same manner. There are highly enjoyable books out there that are technically just fan-fiction created out of love for an older, much-loved story – look at books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, for example.

Mind you, I don’t ever expect any of the fan-fiction I’ve written to become a movie or a bestseller, but my point is that fan-fiction isn’t BAD, and it isn’t something to be ashamed about as a writer. It’s just something else to write, and specifically, it’s something fun that gets you excited about the writing process. And as someone who has suffered terribly from writer’s block, I can assure you that anything that gets you excited about the writing process is a damn good thing.

So I’ll ask again, just in case your thoughts changed by the end of this post: what are your thoughts on fan-fiction?

Goals and Aspirations for August 2017

 

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Counter-intuitively to how I usually start these particular posts, I have to admit that August went by extremely slowly for me. This is likely due, at least in part, to the fact that I got called back out West to the Alberta oil sands, and spent the majority of August doing a 24-day shift there, followed by only a week off before returning. There’s nothing that will make time seem to have slowed down like working 24 straight days in a row. That said, I also had a strangely productive August overall, so let’s just jump right into it.

Goal #1. WRITE WRITE WRITE WRITE WRITE.
August was, by far, my best month not only of the year, but for much longer than even that. In July I decided to set myself a mini-goal of writing at least 300 words per day, whether those words were fiction, blog posts, or whatever. Despite a bad habit of mine of missing one day on a goal and then abandoning it completely, I actually did manage to accomplish this one. I did not going a single day in August without writing at least 300 words. The result of the success of this mini-goal is that I rounded out the month with 16,473 words, and nearly 10k of those were scenes for my next “The Other World” book. To put it in even more perspective, that’s 7k words more than my next best month this year so far, and more than double what I wrote in all the other months. That’s pretty goddamn spectacular, if I do say so myself. I want to see if I can continue this trend, so for the month of September I’m challenging myself to write at least 400 words per day. Wish me luck!

Mini-Goal #1.a. Publish more erotic fairy tales.
I’m crossing this one out for the foreseeable future, not because I’ve given up on erotic fairy tales, but simply because I’m trying to focus on the second book of the “Other World” series, so this isn’t really on my radar at the moment.

Mini-Goal #1.b. Start writing blog posts again.
This one has been a little difficult for me to get going with. I love this new blog, I love the look and the feel of it, but I haven’t been finding myself writing many blog posts aside from sharing our YouTube videos. Part of this is because – as previously mentioned – I’ve been focusing on “The Other World”, but part of it is simply that I haven’t been able to think of anything that I want to write about. I used to defer to The Daily Post when I was looking for ideas, but in the time since I last used them they’ve changed their format from actual prompts to simply single words that you’re meant to revolve your post around, and I don’t find that particularly helpful, to be honest. I’m going to start looking for new ideas in the future, however, because I don’t want this new blog to be completely drowned in nothing but YouTube videos all the time.

Mini-Goal #1.c. Find ways to promote the book(s).
This particular goal continues to be an enormous thorn in my side, especially this month, since I got a whopping dose of reality thanks to a book-based subscription box. I’ve been writing to several of these box service companies for months, inquiring about the possibility of them putting one of my books in one of their boxes. I wasn’t expecting anything to come of it, to be honest, but I thought it was worth a try for the chance of exposure. Well, after months, a lovely couple who runs a horror-themed book-box actually responded to me, and explained why, exactly, these boxes were not keen to work with indie authors. The problem, you see, is that because of the way these vendor/service relationships work, I would be on the hook for the bill for printing and shipping the books. Theoretically they would pay me back, of course, but as some people are finding out these days, that doesn’t always happen (*cough*Nerd Block…Google it*cough*). So basically, I’d be gambling on the fact that they’d actually pay me back for this upfront cost. And what would that upfront cost be? Well, based on the subscriber base of this one particular box (which is definitely not the most popular box in the genre), I’d be on the hook for nearly $20,000. And I don’t know about  you guys…but I don’t have that kind of money to just throw around and hope that I end up getting it back.

So, long story short, we’re continuing on with the trend of “you can’t promote yourself without spending tons of cash you don’t have”.

#2. Get healthier.
I’ve never been much for convincing myself to avoid bad-for-you foods, but I did manage to seriously take a step toward becoming healthier this month concerning the topic of exercise. Like the several months before August, in which I completely failed to complete it, I took the 30 day challenge involving increasing numbers of push-ups, crunches, squats, and lunges. This month, however, I actually completed it. I didn’t miss a single day, and I didn’t fudge a single number. I started on day 1 doing 5 push-ups, 25 squats, 10 crunches, and 20 lunges, and I finished off the month on day 30 doing 40 push-ups, 135 squats, 100 crunches, and 50 lunges. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. For the coming month I’m attempting a slightly different challenge that cuts out the lunges, but results in much higher numbers of squats and push-ups by the end of it. Wish me luck!

Mini-Goal #2.a. Walk/run 10k 8k steps per day.
I KILLED it! Well, okay, maybe “killed” is a little bit of an over-dramatization, but I did great for sure. Out of 31 days in the month of August, I hit my 8k goal on 26 of them, failing only on the days that I’d come home from work – days that were spent mostly filming and sitting down playing games with my daughter, so you can understand what happened there. At work I get a lot of walking in without even thinking about it, so by the end of the month I’d averaged out 10, 985 steps per day, absolutely demolishing all previous months by around 3k steps a day. Damn RIGHT.

Mini-Goal #2.b. Take daily “me time”.
This is another one that I’m crossing out for now, not because I don’t think it’s an important goal anymore, but because I’m finding it very difficult to quantify, especially now that I’ve been doing things like the exercises mentioned above. Do those technically count as “me time”? Should it be something more relaxing? Something that doesn’t have ANYTHING at all to do with even the YouTube channel? I’ll work in the future on defining exactly what I want this goal to be and how I should go about recording it.

#3. Work on my online presence – specifically, YouTube.
Baby steps are important ones, and in this case those baby steps were another mini-goal. I set up my personal planner to remind me to Tweet, Instagram, Snap, and share something to the Facebook group daily. I demolished that goal as well, not missing a single hit on a single day, and I like to believe that it has helped. Unfortunately I didn’t think to take down any numbers on things like followers or engagement at the beginning of the month, so I can’t really SAY that it helped, but I believe that it has, and I’m going to take note of those numbers this coming month so that I can actually quantify it.

Mini-Goal #3.a. Learn to respond immediately.
This one might always be a work in progress, but I do like to think that I’m getting a lot better at it, specifically concerning emails. There is definitely more work to be had, however, especially now that I’ve got a new phone and don’t always recognize or notice the notifications telling me that I have something to respond to.

Mini-Goal #3.b. Focus more on daily social media.
As previously mentioned, I got this one in the bag in August. I challenged myself to hit every one of the four social media accounts I use daily, checking them off in my planner as I went, and I managed to go the entire month without missing a single platform on a single day. I am genuinely impressed with myself on this one, as this is something I’ve been struggling with for a while, owing mostly to just a terrible memory. Day planners and to-do lists are wonderful things, aren’t they?


So that was my August. All in all, I feel extremely accomplished concerning this particular month, and I’m quite happy with myself. It’s been quite a while since one of these posts was overwhelmingly positive, and that makes the “failed” bits much easier to handle. 🙂
How was your month? Did you accomplish anything awesome? Have any setbacks? Feel free to share!

An Author Honor – Being Read in a Book Club

I’ll admit that, most days, I still find it hard to consider myself a “real” author. It’s a combination of being self-published (which, despite attempts at the contrary, still makes me consider myself to be an amateur) and the fact that my sales are mind-blowingly abysmal. I shouldn’t harbor such thoughts – I wrote TWO GODDAMN BOOKS, DAMMIT, and that makes me an author! – but it’s very difficult, and I hardly think that I’m the only self-published author to feel that way, so I give myself a break.

That said, every so often something happens that really does make me feel like a “real” author, and one of those things happened throughout the month of July. You see, over at the Basement Geeks Facebook Group, two of our most active members decided to start up a “Basement Geeks Book Club”. I thought it was a great idea, and joined up right away, myself, but I wasn’t expecting what happened next, because there was a poll set up to decide which book the group would read first, and the book they chose…was Nowhere to Hide.

It wasn’t a huge book club or anything – less than ten people were actually reading – but, to be honest, it was kind of a huge deal to me. It felt wonderful, not only because they chose my book, but because I got to be a part of the process. The members discussed the chapters they’d read weekly, and I got to be there, joining in the conversation, fielding questions, and seeing what people really, truly thought. There were a few constructive criticisms, some awesome reactions, and a surprising amount of praise that all just made me feel warm and fuzzy and happy inside. My favorite part? The way everyone agreed on how I was able to really hammer them emotionally. No individual comment or review has ever made me truly feel like I’m doing something right, like I’m accomplishing what I set out to do when I imagine and reimagine my scenes over and over again.

It made me feel like I’m not only a “real” author, but also a good one. And I can’t describe how that makes me feel.

So thank you, Basement Geeks Book Club. You have no idea how great you made me feel just by sitting down to discuss a book.