Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Happy Book Birthday BIRTHRIGHT

BIRTHRIGHT has now made it to the land of the e-book.

And I'm going to provide your links for you:

KINDLE

NOOK

iTUNES

KOBO

SCRIBD

INKTERA (page foundry)

OYSTER

BIRTHRIGHT is my YA dystopian novel set several hundred years after our civilization collapses. Since humanity is resilient, we evolve past our dependence on technology and return to a feudal system in order to keep track of everyone and keep people safe from the predators that roam the lands. And I'm not just talking about  the fanged bunnies, either. I'm talking about the Devourers, descendents of former humans mutated by chemical warfare.

Verity is the king's oldest daughter, but what he needs is a son to inherit (some things we just don't evolve past). So he trades her for the chance to have a son, and Verity would rather take her changes with creatures that hunt humans than submit to her father's will.

Enjoy!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Changes

First let's get the housekeeping out of the way. Yes, I'm still down with my concussion. No, I shouldn't be on the computer--which is why I'm making this short. Seriously, 3 weeks is a long time to be unable to work, drive, walk normally, exercise, or pretty much anything else.

Okay, done whining.

You're going to notice there are a couple of new tabs on my website. One is Audiobooks and the other is the first chapter of Birthright, which is still coming in print and e-book. Several things have been sidetracked by the chaos that my life has become. But stuff is still happening.

Good stuff.

Recently, I made a discovery that totally blew me away. Do you remember my micro-story, Ghost Bride?
Deirdra made me this fantastic cover and you can read the book in roughly ten minutes? Remember that? I had it published in 2011, and shortly thereafter made it free because it's such a short, short story. I put it up on Amazon, Smashwords, and Nook (Barnes and Noble).

Life progressed and I published more books and stories and realized all my income was coming from Amazon, so I became an Amazon girl. I focused on my projects there, stopped publishing to Nook or Smashwords, took advantage of their KDP program, all that jazz.

About three days ago, I started poking around on my Smashwords account because they owe me just under $10--which is their limit for sending a payment. So I looked at my sales and payment reports and was shocked by the numbers I saw.

Mind you, these numbers are for Ghost Bride, which is FREE, so we're not talking income. But I'll get to that in a minute. So we're just talking downloads, not purchases.

2011: (1344--Apple, 1774--B&N, 96--Sony) = 3,214. Averaging 268 per month.
2012: (3528--Apple, 3045--B&N, 138--Sony) = 6,711. Averaging 560 per month.
2013: (4671--Apple, 535--B&N, 48--Sony) = 5,254. Averaging 438 per month.
2014: (1834--Apple, 228--B&N, 9--various) = 2,071. Averaging 173 per month.

Additionally, Ghost Bride on iTunes has 116 customer reviews with an average of 3.5 stars. It has 44 reviews on B&N with an average 3.0 stars. Conversely, it's Amazon rating is 3.5 stars with 11 reviews. You can take all my reviews for all my other books COMBINED and not have 116.

Now, I realize it's my fault for not figuring this out sooner. If I had known my story was getting so much attention in 2012 and 2013 I'd have been promoting my other books very heavily on iTunes. But I didn't. Now isn't the time to cry over spilled milk, and I'm not going to do it. What I am going to do is broaden my vision. Concentrate less on Amazon and keep my other fires stoked and burning as well rather than utterly ignoring them.

I'm also going to do something that a lot of authors don't agree with. I haven't weighed in because I didn't think I had any sway one way or the other. I know that you know that e-books are priced between free and $14, depending on the book, the publisher, and other factors. And I in no way want you to think that I'm devaluing the work--the blood, sweat, tears, sleepless nights, aggravation, and general "why am I even doing this to myself?"--that ALL authors experience. Because I'm not.

My goal has always been to get my books into as many readers' hands as possible. I want to help someone through a rough day, give them something to smile about, give them an escape from their pain. I want to share hope, and share goodness.

I can't do that if nobody is buying my books.

On the flip side of that, I have to eat. And e-books are a lot of work. You're still going to find that my books go through professional edits and formatting, have professional covers, and are a good quality product.

The only thing that's changing is the price.

If you're someone who thinks you can't get a decent e-book for less than $6 or $7 I intend to prove you wrong. This is my business, my company, and my work. I just ran around the internet changing all the prices of my e-books. You can find Tea for Two permafree through Smashwords. (and Amazon, just as soon as they price match)  My novels are $1.99. And that's not a sale price. I likely won't put any of my e-books up for more than $3.99. **this applies only to the self published books where I control pricing** Ever. Period. Print books are different. If you want one you can put on your shelf and brag about, then you'll pay print book prices.

I realize there are going to be those of you who think I'm wrong. Who think I'm nuts. Please be gentle. Each of us is going through our own journey, and this is what feels right to me. I've been fighting it a long time, wanting to price my works competitively and support the efforts of my fellow authors. But now it's time to be true to me. My stories have positive messages. My stories are good, quality work. And not everyone has $9.99 to spend on a book they can't even hold in their hands.

But everyone should be able to read.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Recovering, I Hope

These last few days have been all about me--how I'm feeling, what happened, my symptoms--blah, blah, blah. It's not that I don't think it's important to get proper medical care, or follow up care, or keep track of the healing process. I do. I know all of those things are vital. Like I keep telling my husband, if I don't get up every now and again I don't know how well I'm doing. (or not doing, as the case may be)

Last night he told me I would not be allowed to do any grocery shopping unless I woke up this morning perfectly healed. Well, that didn't happen, and I'll be honest that the more I'm up and around the harder it becomes to be up and around. So no, running off to our regular big grocery trips we do at the beginning of the month is probably a bad idea. Even though we're out of stuff. And quickly running low on other stuff.

One thing I've learned in all of this is that I have a very hard time shutting off my brain--or even putting it on low power. I'm frustrated by my limitations. Not just the physical ones, but the mental ones. I never realized how much a concussion can affect one's thought processes.

I think all the time. Plot, plan, analyze, over-analyze, plot some more, etc. I'm a writer. It's hard-wired into me to be like this. Tuesday I figured if I was going to be stuck at home for another week at least, then I should be able to get this book finished. I've got less than 20 pages!

A very smart friend (ahem, Jaclyn) cautioned me not to over do it. To pace myself, write slowly, take breaks, etc. All of this makes sense on a logical level. But then I started writing. It didn't hurt. This was great. I made progress!!

Then I woke up the next morning feeling like I had Sunday. It. Was. Awful. I'd totally back-slided, or back-slid, or whatever. I was so frustrated by the end of Wednesday that I was in tears. Not that I could cry--that would just make my head hurt worse. Even though it took me all day, and was hard, I took Jaclyn's advice Wednesday and wrote only about 500 words--which is a far cry from my standard. It's pitiful, really, pathetic.

But I woke up this morning feeling fairly decent, all things considered. So I'm going to call it a win.

Still, though, the more I'm up the worse I feel. I made huge strides today. I got up before ten, showered on my own, put some clothes in the laundry, fed the animals. All of these things were ridiculously harder than they should be, and took me longer than they used to, but I did them. Now I'm ready for a nap.

My advice? Avoid concussions as best you can. They are seriously no fun. And even when you think you should be able to do something, your brain or your body may feel otherwise.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Musings on Head Injuries

Evidently, concussions make me angry. Who knew?

If you haven't heard, I hit my head on the counter top at work Sat morning while cleaning. This was 2am ish, and I still had work to finish. So despite the spinning head and nausea I continued doing my job. Because I'm a grown up like that. And a mom. And it's what moms do.

I seriously considered, based on how I was feeling, calling my husband and waking him up and asking him to drive 30 min to pick me up and drive me 30 home so I could clean the last bank and then go home. But like a dork I put on a brave face for my boss, Rob, because that's what I do. (Bryan called me on that when we drove to the ER. He's like "don't downplay your symptoms" and my first reaction was to argue but when I got honest about it I realized how truly awful I felt.

So I drove home. With a concussion. Because I'm an idiot. I'm not even remotely kidding about that.

By the time I finished work, went home, showered, and went to bed it was almost 5am. I examined my pupils in the bathroom mirror. They dilated and contracted. They were the same size. So I must be okay, right? I mean, sure my head hurt and I was nauseated but that could also be because I'd just worked more than ten hours in the middle of the night. Still not used to that.

I woke up around 1pm Saturday, after roughly 8 hrs of sleep. And I felt groggy, but I feel groggy every Saturday so I wrote it off. And I did stuff that I'd been putting off for weeks. I made cookies. I made eclairs. It's not hard stuff, but it does keep me on my feet for a while. Around 6:30, after dinner, I retreated to my room so I could write.

And I am not kidding you, the headache came hard and fast. Suddenly my head was screaming. I was dizzy, like I'd turn my head and my brain would follow a half second later. I was nauseated. I was a mess. I couldn't concentrate. Maybe wrote a few hundred words that are probably crap.

Bryan was watching TV so I talked to my sis in law via FB while I waited for him to come to bed. Then I got to feeling so bad that I texted him and asked him to come to bed. Did not trust myself to get up and walk to the other end of the house.

We talked, and the more we talked the more Bryan became convinced I had to go to the hospital. Apparently I was fast losing my lucidity. What I noticed, and still notice, is that my swear filter has shorted out. I have to be very careful what I say.

Driving up to the hospital in the middle of the night, because by this time it was 11:30 ish Sat PM, my speech became more sluggish, more patchy. I thought I sounded okay most of the time but Bryan tells me I sounded drunk. Or drugged. I was having a really hard time forming words, remembering things, and concentrating. And my stomach hurt so bad. I really thought I was going to throw up.

The ER staff was great. They took care of me, and released us as soon as they could. But by the time it was all over I was too wired to sleep. They did a CT scan which came back showing no bleed, which is what they look for since a CT won't show concussion. The Dr told me I definitely had a concussion. He also put me through some simple tests. Like they asked me what happened at least three times. I think they do that to check your story and make sure you're not lying, but also to check your response. He also had me reach out and touch his finger, then touch my nose, the touch his finger (he moved it to one side) and repeat with the other hand.

I want to tell you that was the single hardest thing I had to do. It took every ounce of concentration and effort I possessed to do that stupid, simple thing. I'm not even remotely exaggerating. Touch his finger. Touch my nose. Touch his finger. EXHAUSTING.

We walked out of there with about 17 pages of discharge instructions and went home. I tried to sleep, honest, but only got about 2 hrs until I just couldn't sleep anymore. My head hurts so bad it's uncomfortable just to hold it up. The pain doesn't really lessen with painkillers. It's like they don't even touch it.

And I'm mad. I can't concentrate. I can't drive. The more normal I feel, aside from the pain, the more frustrated I get because of all the stuff I can't do physically. I can't watch TV. It's too loud, too jumpy, too stimuli. I can't do normal stupid stuff for myself. I've spent the better part of the day in bed, either sleeping or just being still. In the dark. With my Kindle brightness turned all the way down and it's still too bright.

The kids are all worried about me, so they keep checking on me. Bryan is worried about me, but less so now than he was last night.

I'm just trying to keep my brains in my head, since my head hurts so bad that it feels like my ears are burning. I'd love to stay out of bed more than ten min at a time. I'm pretty grumpy because my brain wants to do stuff but my body is saying no freaking way.

And I've probably said that more than once here, but bear with me, I have a head injury.

In short, I have no idea when I'm going to start feeling better. I'm not safe to drive so I can't work. I can't write because my brain is having serious concentration issues.

But I'm better than I was last night. Even though I'd love to wake up tomorrow feeling perfectly normal I don't think that's realistic. I just hope I recognize normal when it shows up.

Hush. I meant normal for me.
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