That Was Fast…

Well, student teaching was over much faster than expected. I’ve talked this to death, but basically there was a huge tragedy in the family of the teacher who was supposed to be supervising me. In the interests of giving everyone a little space – her to grieve and me to complete the million assessments they’re requiring of me during student teaching – we’re calling it a day. I’ll do fifteen weeks next semester instead of five this semester and ten next.

So, this is basically to say that I find myself with unexpected time.

I’m using it to get re-caught up in my classes. And then I’m making a big Easterbay push.

I haven’t talked much about how Easterbay is going, because it’s a weird thing. I have been told that second books are particular beasts that seem never to behave. I’ve been told it’s because you finish the first book because you do – your overwhelming desire to be an author, or to exorcise your inner demons, perhaps just sheer stubbornness – but that second book is something you need a writing process to finish. And here is where you get one, trial by fire. I think I’ve managed that piece.

The piece I haven’t quite managed is the one where I finish the book. Every time get to the end and I think I have it figured out, something happens and it turns out that I don’t. The beginning of the book is shaping up nicely. It has a few characterization problems, but altogether it’s flowing and making sense. And then it just stops. I need to just write it, but therein lies the problem. How do you write something you don’t know?

Anyway, that’s what I intend to spend the summer on. I’ll wrench the ending of this thing out of me somehow, edit up the rest, and hopefully be in Beta reads by the end of July. That goal feels especially attainable now that I’ve gained three weeks of my time back.

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Student Teaching

This semester has kicked my ass, pardon my language.  But there really isn’t a better word for how overwhelmed I’ve been.  Kicked my butt just isn’t vehement enough to really express the swamp/quicksand feeling I’ve been experiencing as I try to complete 16 weeks of assignments in 10.

As some of you know, I’m studying to become an English teacher.  This week, the rubber hits the road.  I start Student Teaching.  This is not good news for regular posts on the blog.  I haven’t done any real writing in months anyway, though, so I suppose it’s no different than it had been.

In the spirit of keeping things compartmentalized (and because I’m hoping it might be instructive), I’m keeping a different blog that’s strictly about my teaching experience.  I intend to write about my student teaching and my first year as a regular teacher – MAYBE the second year too, though no farther. It’s called the English Lady Apprentice (ELA – get it?  English Language Arts?  No one…?) That’s where I’ll be posting for the next five weeks.  Link: https://theenglishladyapprentice.wordpress.com/.

If you’re interested in hearing from me during this time, that’s the best place to find me.  My last student teaching day is at the end of May. If you’re just here for the self-publishing insights and/or the slice-of-life writing (no judgement, I’m glad you’re here!), you may want to wait until I start this thing back up in June as that’s not likely to be your cup of tea.

Lastly, I just watched Brene Brown’s Netflix Special and found it magical.  I also just bought Abby Wombach’s book Wolfpack on Kindle and am falling in love.  If you’re looking for something to do in the meantime, can I recommend one of those?

See you in June.   Cross your fingers that no kids throw things at me in class…

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Five Minutes of Perfect

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The semester has started for both Brian and I, and it’s a doozy.  I never thought I’d be one of those people who have a sit down meeting on Sunday nights to discuss the week ahead.  We schedule it all down to the minute, figuring out where to shoehorn two hours for me to run errands, another few somewhere for writing, or being horrified at just HOW MUCH homework Brian always seems to have.  Sigh.  I thought my stuff was difficult… (and it is, just not as bad as his.)

I don’t know how we did it last year, except that maybe it was easier because the baby slept more?  That’s the only thing I can think of.  He’s big now, dropping slowly down to one nap and demanding my time when awake.  I think I read Good Dog Carl (ie, explained the pictures) twenty five times today.  That’s a low estimate.  I read Busytown Cars and Trucks from A to Z probably ten.  He used to stand on his counter-height stool and yell at me when he wanted milk, but now he brings me his empty sippy and says “cup,” urgently.   He’s growing up in rapid form.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this except to say that we’re filled up full over here.  Some days it’s too full, but mostly it just is.  And at least we love each other.  I was cuddled up on the couch with Brian for a few minutes this afternoon, my head on his shoulder, when the baby noticed and dived in to laze between us.  It was a single perfect five minutes before the small boy couldn’t sit still anymore and squirmed away.

And then Brian had to leave to make it to his concert tonight, and I had to grab the kid a snack, and the classroom readings finally downloaded on my phone, and we were all off on the chase again.

But there will be five minutes of perfect in my future again, I’m sure.  As long as I don’t expect any more than five minutes…

 

 

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More Tweaks, and some Thoughts on Pricing

Self Publishing Update

Well, it’s been three weeks since the new cover for Blue Gentian launched.  It’s been a wild success.  I’m selling out my Amazon ads almost every day, and I think I’ll keep it.  Trial and error begat success this time (law of averages?  Who knows, but there was bound to be a success eventually).

Whenever my ads sell out, Amazon sends me an email notification and suggests that I up my daily budget.  Right now, I’m telling it no more than $2 a day.  I have not increased this.  Why not, you ask?  Because sales still don’t warrant it.  I’m still in that tenuous territory where I’m ALMOST breaking even, but not quite.  Which means there’s still more work to do.

What am I tweaking next, you ask?  I’m glad you did.

During the $0.99 sale I ran, I sold a grand total of 17 books.  That’s A LOT for me, you guys.  I’m extremely lucky if I sell 17 books in a month, and I was able to do it in 7 days during the sale.  Which suggests to me that I might be able to sell more books if I dropped the price a little.

I want to discuss price, because it’s a complicated issue and I don’t think I’ve explained how I got to my amount for Blue Gentian.  But in case you just want the nitty-gritty and don’t want the whys and wherefores, Blue Gentian will be on sale for $3.99 as a permanent price, down from $4.99, in a few days.  We’ll see if that tweak works in favor of more sales.  I’ll report back.

Now some thoughts about pricing in general:

I considered price carefully when launching Blue Gentian.  I’m a relatively unknown author, and therefore my works will probably not sell at the same price as an established author.  I have to be real about it.  That being said, price also implies quality.  If you’re attempting to give your book away at $0.99 when it’s not sale time, it leaves me wondering if it’s cheap for a reason.  Sometimes the reason is because it’s the first of a series.  I think that’s fine.  But if I don’t know the author and can’t figure out why their book is cheap, I assume it’s because it’s bad.  This has also borne out from my experience.  I’ve downloaded some truly terrible books, guys.  Almost all of them were insanely cheap and by self-published authors.

I’m not denigrating self-publishing.  First of all, I’m a self-published author and take great pride in my work and my business.  Second of all, I have read some AMAZING books by self-published authors.  The difference between the good and the bad?  I have found that good authors expect me to pay a decent, fair market value for their work.  I’m happy to do so.  But price then becomes correlated with quality.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this perception.

This means that how I price Blue Gentian will tell people how good it is.  Also, I know from some research that it’s MUCH easier to price a book down if you make a mistake than to price a book low at first and raise it.  Better to overestimate yourself than to underestimate.  So I decided I would go in at semi-established author rates and cut as needed.

I did a lot of research on well regarded books by self-published fantasy authors and their manuscripts of about the same length (62,000 words in case you were interested).  Most were priced at $4.99.  That’s how I got the starting price of Blue Gentian.  And now that I have some data, I’m going to cut to $3.99 and see how we do.

I might cut again to $2.99 if I see no better outcomes in the next couple of months, but I don’t see going lower than that.  Most other people don’t, even bad authors, since they’re trying to take advantage of the 70% royalty KDP offers on books priced between $2.99 and $9.99.  Blue Gentian is supposed to eventually be part of a series, so it will also eventually go to $0.99 for good when the next books are published (a LONG way off). Still, that means I’m not feeling terribly precious about the price of it.  Whatever gets me the sales, man.

And that’s all I’ve got right now.  Thanks for listening to me about a complicated subject…

 

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Rain

It has been raining, raining here in California.  I don’t remember it raining for days like this since I was a little girl.  We lived in a house that was mostly windows back then, and the sound of the rain would drip off the eaves and make it sound like you were under a tree instead of safely tucked under the warm down comforter on the blue and white striped couch, book in hand.

I have sweet memories, but I’m really ready for the rain to quit at this point.  Asher and I have not been walking Brian to work in the rain and I wonder if we’re going a little stir-crazy.  Also, I have class tonight.  The first one of the semester.  I will be driving for 45 minutes each direction on the wet freeways in a deluge, crossing my fingers that no one gets crazy on me like they do so often in California.

Am I excited to be back at school?  I don’t know.  The CSET has wiped out most of my classmates, so there will be fewer familiar faces than there used to be.  We did a poll by hand last semester and there were only three of us who were definitely cleared to go on, of a class of eighteen people I was fond of.  More will likely have passed since then, and we’re getting an influx of people who didn’t pass the year before.  But it will not be the same thing.

Still, I enjoy learning about teaching.  And I enjoy having a few hours a week where I don’t have to watch the clock, keep the schedule, and meet someone else’s needs before I meet my own.  I get to be a professional adult.  Or, you know, as professional as one can be when wearing a “When in doubt, go to the library” t-shirt, oversized men’s sweater, and saddle shoes.  I get to be my weird academic self, and it makes me feel human again.

If only I didn’t have to drive through the rain to get there.  I know we need it, and I know I’ll enjoy the beautiful vista of snowy mountains once it’s all over, but a little sunshine would be much appreciated.  We’ll get it eventually, I guess.

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A Fence Fiasco

 

We moved into this strange house in the middle of the summer, knowing that the house had been beautifully flipped but the yard was a travesty of epic proportions.  I pulled cactus and dead rose bushes for months.  Almost five years in the making, and the front yard is looking decent.  We haven’t touched the back yard, except to put in two raised beds amongst the weeds so I can have tomatoes.

Although we have had the funds to do small projects, the fence has been beyond us.  Every time we think we’ve finally saved for it we get some sort of a disaster.  The car needs a whole new transmission, and the stove broke, and, and…

I think now this was probably fate.

In the week long rains of two weeks ago, the world softened.  The rusty nails holding the fence together slipped free, and the fence collapsed – revealing a rather beautiful hedge of cypress trees that the neighbors had erected.

Brian and I looked at the glimpse of elfin style we had beyond the weeds and decrepit fence and saw potential.  It looks like we’re just going to take down the back fence and enjoy the trees, since the hedge is a solid screen and we don’t have to worry about keeping any pets in.  It will help us when we go to replace the rest of the fence too.  That back stretch was the longest and most expensive.  Bonus!

Now to find the time to take the old one fully down… Which I’m sure I’ll manage in a fit of tomato longing in the next month or so.  This year, now that I don’t have to spend 20 hours a day holding a baby, there is produce in my future.  I’m determined.  And the baby can dig in the dirt with me.  Just as long as I get the fence down first.

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New Cover Update

Well, so far the new cover of Blue Gentian has been selling like gang-busters.  I’ve sold 17 books since I changed it all, and haven’t had a day without selling at least one book.  That’s HUGE for me.  I’m not sure if it’s because the book is currently $0.99 though, so I guess we’ll find out next week.

Speaking of which… if you haven’t already read the book and haven’t already taken advantage of the Blue Gentian New Cover Sale, it ends tomorrow.  Just saying…

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On Sale!

Well, it’s official. Blue Gentian’s new cover is live and the book is selling for $0.99 this entire week, starting today. If you haven’t read it yet, now is a good time. Enjoy!

Get Blue Gentian on sale here

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Some Blue Gentian Tweaking

Well, my first Blue Gentian experiment didn’t go that well.  My husband suggested that he didn’t think the book blurb was punchy enough, so I rewrote it to sound a little more scandalous.  No dice.  I kept it up for several months, but my sales dropped dramatically during that time.  Like, probably by half.

So, the old copy is back.  No surprises there, and isn’t it wonderful to be a self-published author where I can change things on a whim to see what happens?  And change it back in a snap when it’s wrong?

But, I’m still left with a book that I believe can sell better than it is currently.  So I have plans to tweak something else.

I was discussing the cover with my dad the other weekend, because I was really torn by the poll on which cover to use all those months ago.  Most people, including everyone who had read the book, liked the one I went with.  But everyone who was a fantasy reader liked the second one, with the girl in the hooded cloak.

“You should go with the one that the people who didn’t read it liked,” said my dad.

And it hit like a revelation that he was probably right.  I was thinking that because people knew the book, they would know what was representative of the book.  But what I really needed to be thinking about was not book representation, but book desirability.  Theoretically, the one that hooks and intrigues people who haven’t read the book is the one to go with.   A side I hadn’t considered, but ultimately saw the truth in.

Sometimes my dad is pretty brilliant.

Also, you guessed it.  Blue Gentian is getting a new cover, posted below.  I’ll leave it up for several months and see what we see on the sales.  I’ll report back when I have something to report.  Cross your fingers for me that this works.  I DO kinda love this new version…

blue gentian jpeg

I’m waiting for Amazon approvals before you can see it on the buying page, but I’ll let you know as soon as I know it’s live.  I’m thinking about running a new cover celebratory sale, too.  We’ll see.

 

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This January Week, and Blue Gentian Thoughts

If the first week of the new year is supposed to herald the rest of your year, this one has been pretty good.  We went to the zoo, lazed around the house, and cooked fancy meals for each other.  Asher got his first haircut and looks instantly dapper and boyish instead of babyish.  I started a fancy Bullet Journal that I’m very proud of.  Brian and I have been watching Tidying Up on Netflix, and now I have an overwhelming desire to touch all of my things to find out if they bring me joy.  The only thing missing is that I haven’t done much writing.  Gotta add that in.  Starting now, our first full week of normal since the new year.

Blue Gentian isn’t doing as well as it was previously, and I’m sure that’s because I changed the back cover blurb in an effort to improve it.  Well, no improvement.  I’ll be putting it back to the old one this week, and I’ll also consider changing the cover for a few months to see what we see.  A lot of people liked one of the other cover options, so I’m thinking about trying it.

My dad has been bugging me to rewrite the first three chapters of Blue Gentian, since the overwhelming feedback was that the book starts slow, but is great after chapter 3.  I am loathe to do this.  I’ve been over those chapters dozens of times over the span of five years, and it’s already published and out there.  The advice I’ve heard from other authors, too, is to let imperfections go.  If you’re forever looking backward, your new work will suffer.  I feel like I’m pragmatic about this book: a sweet little tale with profluence that nonetheless is not ever going to sweep the market with accolades.  Fine.  Next.

And Next is going decently, so there’s that to be thankful for too.

 

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