Sunday, February 27, 2011

Great Gatsby Video Game---My life will never be the same

For those of you who are not aware, I am absolutely OBSESSED with The Great Gatsby (for various reasons, but mainly the gaining everything / losing everything dynamic).

I may never leave the house again.

It utilizes those 80s-type video game graphics that I love.
Watch out for the drunks who throw bottles at you and the Charleston dancers in the fountain.
Personally, I don't think there are enough video games out there where you can mow down some flappers.

And then I ran across this...I don't know in what context this ad is, but I love it. I want to get it framed.
Nick Carraway with ninja moves. Whodathunkit?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Embrace the Turtle-- way to go Zoe

Okay, my parents just finished visiting me, and we had a great time, and now I'm finally getting back to my blog.

First to clear random thoughts from my brain:
--- got my Steampunk costume for a dance I'm going to at the end of April.Woot Woot!  It needs some accessories. I'll see if I can redneck some together with ductape. Hmmm....if rednecks met Steampunk....
---Am going to Costa Rica with my church on a medial mission trip. Totally psyched. Looking forward to a chance practicar mi espanol todos los dias.

Saint Jude in Kindle store got up to #88 in the top 100 Kindle store>psychology> mental illness

It's been moving slowly, but I'm still ltrying to find some publicity venues...we'll see. I think it will sell better when I get a few more books up there.

Ran across this great post on "being the turtle." I'm gonna post this on my writing desk.
Zoe Winters post.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fourteen reasons I'm glad I'm single -- my Facebook Valentine

During Valentine’s Day, or the days leading up to it, Facebook is filled with wedding pictures of friends. In response, one of my very clever Facebook friends posted a picture of [and I quote] “Saint Valentine’s M.F. skull.” I give him “writing dangerously” points for creativity and being able to use the words “Saint” and “MF” effectively in the same sentence.

Which begs the question, on St. Valentine’s Day, what do I have to celebrate, as a single, never-been-married, haven’t-had-a-real-date-since-the-Clinton-administration, 39-year-old white female?

Quite a lot, actually.

You see, I’m sometimes hesitant to admit that I LOVE my singleness because people look at me like I’m some kind of freak with two heads. Or they shake their heads and think I’m just in denial. Or putting on an act. Or trying to convince myself. For a long time, I thought they were right. There must be something wrong with me. Why couldn’t I be like those women I admired so much who I saw in church, the picture of the perfect little family? These women would sit front and center with hand-holding husbands, two kids coloring pictures in their Jesus activity books, and holding one of those lime green Bible covers with her initials in bright pink.

Then I realized, it wasn’t that I wanted to be like them---it was that I wanted to want to be like them.

This just shows that we are all created for a purpose, and some are single for a season, and some for a lifetime and some for a whole heck of a lot of seasons. We spend too much time wishing we were in another season, and by doing so, we miss out on the blessings that we have and the things we can do right now. And that philosophy applies to everyone, single and married.

So I’m posting in honor of Feb. 14, fourteen reasons why I’m glad I’m a childless, single female.

1. Bubble baths and good books any time I want them. A Friday night winning combination by anyone’s estimation.

2. Able to drop everything and go on a travel adventure [and actually do it!]

3. Dishes in the sink. For days.

4. Popcorn for breakfast.

5. Non-stop Syfy channel.

6. Sleeping on both sides of the bed. At the same time.

7. Able to volunteer for projects I have a passion for without worrying how the time drain will affect partner/ kids.

8. George Clooney is technically, still single also. Soooo I’m just saying….

9. Getting my hair cut any way I want without worrying that he would rather me let it grow out [Guys—I love to wear my hair long as well, but it is a LOT of maintenance. And sometimes, there’s just other things I’d rather do than mess with my hair] which leads me to…

10. If I’m wearing pants, the legs aren’t shaved. It’s not pretty, but it’s the truth.

11. Able to use my Shake Weight without fear of inappropriate comments.

12. Gives me space to learn more about who I am, how I have changed, and how I am growing.

13. It makes it easier for me to be quiet before God, and ask myself what I should do to please Him and how I can demonstrate His love and compassion to others. Granted, this can be done with a spouse, but even St. Paul recognized that, in his opinion, this is easier to do when single.

14. I am single, but not lonely--- by myself, but not alone. I am blessed beyond my capacity to truly imagine.

Love is not just about the “eros” love, but also about the “phila” brotherly love I share with family and friends, and of course, love also can encompass a deep, spiritual, “agape” love.

Being single has taught me a lot of things I might not have learned otherwise. Of course, I know several women with thoughtful spouses who allow them to do all of the above and more [and I rejoice with them] but I have learned how to be happy in my own skin, how to embrace my artistic eccentricities, and how to truly, truly, see what it is important in life. For me, for whatever reason, that realization was easier to come to while single.

But one thing I think that all my Facebook friends realize---single or married, or single again and married again-
Love doesn't come from Jared's :)
Happy St. Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Out-of-print Book Kindle Experiment--tip of the hat to JA Konrath

I may be a late bloomer to get on board the Kindle publishing thing, but at least I’m getting on board. I’m starting by putting one of my out-of-print books on Kindle.
“Saint Jude” WAS vetted ---before anyone starts on me about the “self-pubbed books are all crap” argument—I had an agent (who sadly, couldn’t sell it to a Big 6 publisher—though I got a nice “we really, really, like it –close but no cigar” reject from Random House. ). But “Saint Jude” was ultimately picked up by a nice, smaller, indie publisher.
“Saint Jude” chronicles the journey of a young adult with bipolar disorder. It did well, got some great reviews, but didn’t make me enough money to quit my day job (few first novels do.) It was particularly popular with high school libraries, and as you guessed, libraries generally only buy one or two copies of a book unless they need to have a replacement copy.
As expected, since “Saint Jude” was published in 2001, royalties have since trickled. I think the royalty check I got for last year was something like $15. Feeling I had nothing to lose, I just posted it on Kindle recently (January---though I don’t really count January 2011 for much because I was sick with the flu for about three weeks. So for all personal purposes, January 2011 did not exist.)

Well, I have sold two copies over the last couple of weeks, which I’m okay with, considering that I did practically zero promotional e-mail / blogging for it in January (see my flu comment above.) What does that give me? Well, it’s selling at $2.99, and I get a 70 percent royalty (which is better than the 10 percent royalty I got from the print editions. Ten to 15 percent royalty for first-time authors on printed books is not unusual.)

So that means my take on the sales thus far is roughly $4.

Not much. Not even latte money.

But remember that my last year’s royalties for the entire year on the out of print book was less than $20.

If I sell two books a month, that’s 24 books a year, and my take would be around $50 a year [ I’m estimating those numbers, btw, because I was a liberal arts major ].

So, just selling two books a month would more than double what I got last year. Seems like a no-brainer. Rights have reverted back to me and the novel was just hanging in limbo, not earning much for anybody.

So---tell all your friends to buy my book. And no, you don’t need a Kindle to read it. Just download the FREE Kindle app for your netbook (or cell phone, or iPod, or whatever else…)

To my avid reader friends out there: I think you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll love the Kindle. You can also e-mail stuff to yourself and edit it on it. I wouldn’t have normally gotten one except I got it for Christmas (shout out to mom and dad!). I still love print books---and I’m not going to be reading my Kindle in the bubble bath (well….okay, no…) but it has its place, and it’s a place I’m really enjoying.

And if you’re a writer and you’re not reading J.A. Konrath’s blog “A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing,” I think you should. You can agree or disagree with him, but he’s now able to make a living supporting his family and doing what he loves. You can’t argue with results, and ultimately, I think if something gives you the freedom to do what you’re passionate about, you should do it. I know that many writers—traditionally published and academic—find him a very polarizing philosopher and say Kindle (and Konrath) are “devaluing” literature by promoting the possible benefits of Kindle self-publishing without “gatekeepers” to vet the work.

As far as “devaluing” literature, didn’t Snooki of Jersey Shore ‘write’ a book? And didn’t Mike “The Situation” ‘write’ one as well? I think these were both from imprints of major traditional publishers. This shows that, publishing is, after all, a business. Those books were published because the companies know they will sell.

I’m not saying that with bitterness—I’m just saying it is what it is.

Now, in fairness, I haven’t read either book, so Snooki and Situation may be the next Faulkners for all I know…but I’m just saying, if we’re going to use the “our society will be devaluing literature” argument, I think that horse left the barn a long, long, time ago.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New Shangri-La Cover

I haven't been very pleased with the cover to my Shangri-La collection of short stories on Kindle, so I've gone back to the drawing board and redesigned it. I like my redesign better.

 I've designed another cover that features the rooster very prominently. That's Mr. Bockers. He is one of those characters that just hijacked my story. If you want to know more about Mr. Bockers, buy the book.:)
Here's the NEW cover with Mr. Bockers:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Not a lot of money, but still "latte" money

Got my first check cut from Amazon from the Kindle sales--- $11--not hardly time to quit my day job, but this is only for a short story collection that, to be quite frank, I haven't done as much publicizing as I should have. When you consider that my now out of print book royalties were roughly $22 for the whole of last YEAR, this does have some potential.

I posted Saint Jude in January, in the middle of having the flu and I just hope to God that I didn't do something stupid on the formatting. But I've looked at it and it seems to be okay.

However, I think one of the reasons my sales of the short story collection aren't that great are -- well, aside from the points mentioned before--- the cover isn't quite working. I'm going to keep the present cover through February and then in March try a new cover just to see what happens with it. JA Konrath (you should be reading his blog, btw) says that the cover is very, very, instrumental with Kindle sales.

I had an awesome Kindle moment tonight. I'm reading a book by one of my best friends-- B-- [a REALLY awesome book. I'm finding it hard to put down and I'm a very slow reader. ] For the first time, I actually reached up to turn a page. I actually forgot I was holding an electronic book.

I used to think that I loved the paper feeling of books. Now I'm not sure. I think just the opposite--I think that when I don't have to worry about bookmarks, creasing the spine too much----I think I am able to let the story take over with more freedom. If that makes any sense.