Ready For Takeoff

Whew! Man, I have been busy!

How busy you ask? Well, busier than a one-armed wench in a fistfight!
I mentioned last month I was starting a new story and indeed, I did. In fact, I started two stories. See, I told you I was busy. Busier than a cat scratchin’ sh*t on a marble floor – and about as productive.
So, I started a couple of new projects only to find out a few older ones had been neglected. Arrrgh, right?! To make a long story short I will be flying solo. This independent business just got real (er). I still have my proofer but… did I tell you how busy I’ve been? Yeah. Busier than the headless horseman in a pie eating contest!
Where is he gonna put all of that pie?
Anyway, a week or so ago we took the evening off and drove to Terrell for the Fly In/ Flights of Our Fathers. We needed a little R & R and nothing says rest and relaxation like walking fifty miles in 110 degree Texas heat – in flip-flops. I’ve got blisters the size of Dallas between my toes! It ain’t pretty y’all.
And the drive… Oh my gosh Terrell is every bit of fifteen miles from where I sleep. That is twenty minutes in the car no matter how you slice it. Lord have mercy, all of this walking and driving and writing and re-writing…

Good News – Bad News

The good news, I half-ass re-re-re- edited the books that make up The Rage Trilogy. I do not believe authors can effectively edit their own work – but I am giving it a go. Physician heal thyself! Hmm, we will see.
I also ran a ‘cuss check’ and omitted 899 a few curse words. I rewarded me with a lollipop.
The bad news, I am behind schedule for the next two projects and people are wanting to rent blister space. Of course I had to tell them NO. I do not need people living on my feet, the ones taking up space in my head are more than enough. I did however offer them my flip-flops.
Anyhow, after all of that prattling I suppose it’s time to put my big girl panties on and ready for takeoff.
Until next time, here are a few shots from the airport.

Living Out Loud

A bit about the East Texas Book Fest last weekend and then I must get back to writing.


The meet and greet at the Potpourri House Friday evening was entertaining to say the least. Kim and I, myself and Kim, Kim and me (all six of us) found ourselves seated with a journalist, a professor and an adorable retired engineer that had written his first book. The seating was not prearranged, that’s just how it happened. We didn’t mingle much past that due to being inebriated time constraints.

We barely made it to the book fest on time. Puffy eyed and sleep deprived but on time. We were so excited!
It took all of 30 seconds to arrange our tiny display, say hi to a few folks. ..

Then we were off to check out the festivities. There were authors out the wazoo, writers of everything imaginable, artists and a few esteemed educators but this really grabbed my attention.

Forensic sculptor Amanda Danning was so gracious. Despite our interrupting her lunch, she shared her talent and knowledge with such passion. Between bites of ham and cheese (or was it turkey?) she explained the process of facial reconstruction while her husband narrated the history behind each work of art. They are both amazing.

So all in all I would say the East Texas Book Fest was a success. Will it boost sales? I do not have a clue and you know what? I’m okay with that.  After all, I’m just living out loud and flinging cake against the wall.

Inspiration

I am still officially out to lunch but you know how it goes when a story gets inside your head and the schizophrenia kicks in. An old photograph comes alive, the landscape shifts, characters start cropping up and voila, The Sharecropper’s Son is conceived.

 

I have about two thousand (totally fictitious) words written so far and I have no idea how long the story will be. There are no deadlines to meet and though the destination is set, the path is not carved in stone. The only thing I know at this point is that I am excited to let the story tell itself.

What’s New in My Indie Adventure???

What’s New in My Indie Adventure???

Well… I created a discount e-store that only carries paper books by moi.  Y’all know I speak French, right? Right!  I don’t know if anyone will ever see it and I don’t really like the way it feels and functions but I did it by golly. So I have been productive! I’m one of those that has to be productive [in varying degrees] to feel comfortable- not perfect, just productive. It is too hot outside and I haven’t got my writing mojo back so there you go. I sat around in the A/C all day. I also consumed a cookie jar full of vanilla wafers and a jar of peanut butter. Eating is considered productive. Y’all know I can eat and type at the same time so I dabbled with banners, background colors and discount codes over at CreateSpace

CreateSpace is an Amazon venue, they print/provide the trade paperbacks for six of my books. They also offer an e-store option and discounts. If you don’t care for discounts (real ones) then you ain’t been poor enough yet. I’ve been poor. Poor as a church house rat and too poor to pay attention. Of course at the time I didn’t know I was poor, I had to be told “damn girl you’re poor.”  I believe rising from poverty helps a person not fear failure. Been there, done that- I ain’t scared. I recall one time  Grandma  and I –Oh dear that was a rambling digression.

So back to this store that is probably tucked away in the boondocks of cyberspace. I don’t mind that a new window pops up every time you click the ‘more’ link, it apparently keeps up in the shopping cart but already I have complaints about not being able to delete an accidental add to cart. These darn cousins of mine keep me in business but there’s four-hundred a handful of them that complain about the slightest things. (Not you – you know you’re my favorite.)

What Else is New…

I updated my LinkedIn profile. I didn’t know they had changed and it is like starting over. I got as far as hanging a picture on the wall and accepting a few invitations. (Sorry LinkedIn I don’t want a job right now. I do have one friend/connection I knew before LinkedIn. Morgan McFinn. He is a sophisticated slob. Sophisticated  and slob are my words but he doesn’t speak much higher of himself. He’s a funny guy.

Before I start babbling again I named the store Discount Direct. You can not buy tires, appliances or clothes but you can get 15% off of six different books (by moi) by buying direct and then you can sit naked in your car with bald tires at KFC because your fridge went out. I had to heard of that once.

DISCOUNT DIRECT HEADER FOR CS 15% OFF

P.S. Closed up shop before the ink dried. My friends/fans/family deserve better.

The First Year as an Indie (Lessons Learned)

Part I

Can you believe I have a solid year behind me in this adventure as an independent author/publisher? My how time flies when you’re having fun.

So what have I learned other than how to type while holding fried chicken in one hand and a biscuit in the other? A lot!

Do I have any advice for beginners? Oh yes indeed I do and my first pearl of wisdom is this: cut the biscuit in half, strip the chicken and make a sandwich. It will be much easier to handle. I would also suggest turning the keyboard over and gently shaking the crumbs loose verses picking between the keys. That tip will save you time and keep your proofreader from returning your manuscript un-proofed with a note that says Get back to me when you’re sober!

I don’t have any real pearls but if you’re interested I’ll be happy to share a handful of pebbles and opinions.

#1 Support: Get some! No man is an island. Editing, proofreading and polishing don’t necessarily mean stripping away your authenticity. Surround yourself with people you can trust, people who are willing to encourage you, offer constructive criticism and be brutally honest when necessary. If your book is your baby prepare it to face the world and get that baby some child support. Lesson: Keep it real even in fiction. Find people you can trust (paid or voluntary) and listen to them.

#2 Reviews: Good reviews are fabulous but they don’t guarantee massive sales. On the other hand bad reviews definitely hurt sales. Responding to bad reviews and personal insults is a no-no. Lighten up, insults can be funny. Learn from the constructive ones and laugh at the assholish ones. Yes, I just made assholish a real word. Not everyone likes spaghetti so what makes you think everyone will like what you dish out? Lesson: There will be haters. Get used to it.

#3 Social Media: I firmly believe in building an online presence and interacting. I said in- ter-act-ing. That means relating to people,not only networking and connecting but talking and occasionally having a conversation. I tend to avoid a couple of the most popular media sites for that very reason. How do you respond to “Buy my book! My book’s on sale!” You say something like “I see you’re from Manhattan. How is the weather there?” And they respond with “Here’s a link to Amazon. Be sure to leave a review.” Lesson: In-ter-act.

I like blogging. I’m not sure how many book sales it has garnered (if any) but I enjoy it. It’s like bloggers are… wow, I don’t know… like they are real human beings or something. Lesson: Blog away. Blogging has zero calories and you meet great people from all over the world. It’s an inexpensive means of travel and sometimes you find the inspiration needed for your next story.

While we are on the topic of blogging allow me to weave in an experience related to marketing. I recently consulted with a couple of PR firms who shall remain nameless. One suggested I buy their book (argh). Um, no. I am looking for someone to create “the buzz” for me — just do it okay?! The only buzz I am motivated to create comes in the aftermath of consuming liquor.

The second person (much more helpful) looked at my social media sites and informed me I was not promoting myself enough. The conversation went like this:

“You’re just there” she explained while politely pointing out I was not utilizing said media properly.

“I’m sorry but one more ‘buy my book-my book’s on sale’ and I may rip the arm off of this chair. I can’t do it that’s why I contacted you special magic guru lady.”

“It’s not that easy anymore. What about your blogger account?” She was scanning search results as we spoke, “Do you have one?”

“Well sure. I posted something about 2013 releases but I’m more comfortable at WordPress.”

“Let me see what you are doing on WordPress…  It seems your focus is on photography and just hanging out?”

“Yeah, it’s like a bar/library/art gallery, cool huh? Except they don’t serve drinks. It’s  BYOB.”

“That’s fine but you need to squeeze in a pitch directing readers to buy your books.”

“I have a website listing most published works. Just google Janna Hill and you’ll find me.”

“That’s not enough. You’re going to have to get more involved in promoting yourself. You have to get out of your comfort zone.”

“Oops my macaroni is burning. I’ll have to get back to you.”

Lesson: Even for a fee no one will do it all for you. I need to “get out of my comfort zone.”  Hell no Maybe I will but if I ever respond to a greeting with “Buy my book. Leave me a review” somebody shoot me please.

*BYOB: bring your own bottle could now mean bring your own book.

Insight (Sight & Seeing Red)

This post should have been the Indie update I’ve been planning, giving you all of the gory details about what I’ve learned on this Indie adventure (now having a full year of experience under my belt) but…

I was seriously composing the post meant to share my progress when I diverted my eyes. Did you know you aren’t supposed to stare at the computer screen for more than twenty minutes without looking twenty feet away for at least twenty seconds? It’s called the 20/20/20 rule.

Being the rule devotee that I am [go ahead and laugh if you know me] I looked away and spotted a lovely red Dianthus. WeddingOf course I had to grab the camera and take a walk…

 

 

 

WeddingI spied a red aphid on a yellow Iris. The eye tends to be drawn to these two colors. You didn’t think McDonald’s success came from their fresh delectable burgers did you? Oh, okay.

 

 

I suppose the Red Wasp, Nandina berries and Red Tip Photinia are all shades of red but they look kind of orange to me. That may be from staring at the monitor for too long. See what happens when you don’t follow the rules?

I ended my journey with a collection of red shells. Red ShellsI didn’t find these on a beach but they were near a body of water. Hmm, now I’m wondering if there might be a body in the water? Or a story in the making…

Seeing Red has nothing to do with the upcoming post regarding my first year as an independent author/publisher, I just thought I’d share this little excursion. On the contrary I’m in the black and all lights are green. It’s a go for another trek. I really will post something in the near future that offers more personal insight until then take care of your eyes.

P.S. I once had a patient with Macular Degeneration who told me she saw the most unbelievable shades of red and that she painted more beautifully than ever just before she went blind.

How Do They Do That?!

More Indie Adventuring

Amazon is the all-seeing eye! Seriously I put my housecoat on before I sat down to write this and if you’re naked you should grab a cover too, unless you’re into that sort of thing.

I know now they see everything or I see now they know everything…  Either way I am aware of their stealthy little spies and spiders, that they are constantly surveying the World Wide Web. How? I don’t know the how’s of such spyjectory but I do know that if you have a title with KDP Select (Kindle Direct Publishing) and you publish it elsewhere they will hunt you down and bring it to your attention. They may go so far as to kill your stuffed bobcat, lord I hope not.

In all fairness the KDP Select agreement states digital books will remain exclusive to Amazon. Well…

A few months ago I decided to combine a series into one e-book The Rage Trilogy. It just so happened one of the books in the series was still signed with Amazon’s KDP Select. I know! I thought I un-checked the box for automatic renewal but apparently I didn’t. The Rage Trilogy was never in KDP Select but it includes a title that was.

Lesson(s) learned: 1) Next time make certain! 2) OCD might come in handy. 3)  Amazon is bigger than the CIA and IRS combined. 4) Spyjectory is my favorite new word. (Call me Merriam and I’ll define it for you)

So now I’m all nervous and a bit paranoid because I received this e-mail from The Eye Amazon where they named the [one] book and included a link to the trilogy @ Barnes and Noble.

How do they do that?!

Here’s a copy of the e-mail:

Hello,
We found the following book(s) you’ve published doesn’t meet the KDP Select content guidelines. Books enrolled in KDP Select must be exclusive to Amazon in digital format while enrolled in the program.
Unjustified Favor (Between the Rage and Grace) (ID: B008D94WHM) is available on:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-rage-trilogy-janna-hill/1113580485?ean=2940015523058
Please copy and paste the entire URL above into your web browser to see where we found your book. You can also do an online search for your book to discover where else it may be available.
In order for your book to remain in the KDP Select program, we’ll need you to ensure that it is exclusive to Amazon within 5 days from the date of this email. If, after this 5-day period, your book is still not exclusive to Amazon, it will remain for sale in the Kindle Store, but will be removed from KDP Select. Upon its removal, it will no longer be eligible to earn a share of the KDP Select fund.
Please note that repeated violations of the program’s exclusivity requirement may result in loss of KDP Select benefits for all books you have enrolled in the program, such as participation in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (KOLL) and the usage of free promotion days, as well as KDP account termination.

Burning Bridges

Staci Troilo’s recent blog It’s Up To You New York, New York got me to thinking. I know I’m not supposed to do that without the proper adult supervision but I promise not to make any decisions, only reflections.

In January of this year (2012) I decided to become an Indie aka independent author. The decision was fueled by several factors but the main one being I tend to rebel against [what I perceive as] unfairness. The thing about perceptions is if you take a few breaths and calm down they sometimes change. The trouble is I forget to breathe until I’ve already tossed the match. Yep, I have burned a few small bridges in my day. The last little causeway went up in flames when I refused to write anything that didn’t have my real name attached to it and said kiss my _ _ _ (let’s use the word grits instead.) Ahh, I can still smell the singed hair.

** Bobby Bare’s Winner and Frank Sinatra’s My Way are now overlapping in my head**

I whole heartedly expected to struggle as an independent, that’s what real artists do, right? Right! But if I am honest the struggle is a bit more than I anticipated and the road I am on is not the soft sandy path I saw in the distance. Nay! It is a deep rocky rut filled with tar pits and sharp objects that must be overcome. Here there are few if any bridges for burning.

Oh yes, I am guilty of being a pissy little pyromaniac at times. Though I sincerely try not to burn other people’s bridges it occasionally happens.

Twelve years ago we (my youngest son, daughter and I) worked on the set of a local television series. We never had more than a minor part that usually ended up on the cutting room floor but it was fun. The locations varied, the food was always good and the people were so warm and friendly that every assignment felt like a family reunion. Never mind the pay and meeting a few celebrities I would have gone for free chuck wagon.  Rib eye, meatloaf, tacos, pies and pastries…

(Oops- memory lane digression)

As I was saying the people on set were great but there was this one agent who shall remain nameless and unemployed if God answer’s vengeful prayers. In my own defense I did take a deep breath and wait for the perception to change. It didn’t happen. Greedy is as greedy does.

#1 If you agree to fifteen percent and you take twenty that is stealing.

#2 Everyone knows a speaking part pays more. Only a thief would pocket the difference and issue a separate check with a cockamamie excuse.

#3 Never mind.

It wasn’t only my money or I probably would have said “okay, no prob just point me to the catering truck.” No, it was my child’s money and it is bad business to mess with another woman’s child. Amen?  I didn’t just strike a match to that conduit I set a freaking bonfire. Score one for me. Boo-yah! Start doing the victory dance…  Um – yeah. I think my son is still mad at me for that one. You’ve heard the old adage ‘you’ll never work in this town again’? Well I am here to tell you that can absolutely be  true.

My only regret  is the series ended the following year before I could build a new bridge.

So what does this have to do with Staci’s blog other than basic inspiration and the fact that we are all trying to make it? I’ll let you read her blog and decide. I’m really okay with the fact that I will probably never make it in the New York she speaks of; I don’t have the temperament for it.  But I feel the burn, the stretching of ribs and triceps as I reach for a brass ring of my own and reflect on the burnt bridges of my past.