Category Archives: Coming Alive

Free Second Chance Romance

Since Second Chance Romance is distributed to the world minus Amazon via Smashwords for free, Amazon said it was doing a price match.

So, Second Chance is Free on Amazon.

And I have it categorized as Erotica. Therefore, I got 10,000+ downloads yesterday. Another thousand this morning. It was #1 in Erotica, and #17 on the Kindle list.

I can’t check what it is this morning because I’m refusing to look. I’m refusing to look because I don’t know if there are new reviews. I dont’ want to read reviews. I’m more or less happy with the book. I don’t know what others will think of it. I don’t what people will think of it being listed as erotic. There are three or four sex scenes and one of those is anal.

I think that reviews will hurt me, but they do. I take them personally. I am disappointed when people say they don’t like it. And I don’t want to be one of those authors that goes crazy and starts yelling about negative reviews. So I’m not going to look.

It’s been a weird day for me. Summer Fling and Complications over Coffee are up as well. Not huge, like 20 books each, but that’s more than I usually get in a month.

I haven’t seen an uptick on blog traffic either. We will see in the next few weeks what happens.

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On getting better

Having fun and not being the best does not mean I am happy with my current level of profiency.

I recently put Colours of the Rain up for critique at Critique Circle.

I feared putting up something on Critique Circle. I didn’t want to hear “you suck, quit writing.” I feared that was the truth.

The feedback has been good. And helpful. Overwhelmingly helpful, I’m not sure where to start. Only one thing said I didn’t agree with. Which was that the starting scene shouldnt’ be there. But it’s the tie in to the title of the story, so I can’t cut it. But I have a better way to tie it in.

The good is that I don’t tell, I do show most of the time. What I’ve not shown was written when I was working out the characters etc. Good to know and something I couldn’t see. My characters are likeable. The plot is followable and enjoyable.

The bad is that a few typos. I tend to write “your welcome” instead of “you’re (you are) welcome”. I overuse WAS. It was, there was. Was, was was. I’ve been working on things so hard that when I write first drafts I worry about my use of WAS.

Does being imperfect mean I should have kept Colours of the Rain to myself?

No. I do have moments of panic when I worry that letting my imperfect writing will wreck my chances of being read as I get better.

Y’know what? The best authors in the world with legions of fans who support their every move and will claw your eyes out if you say something bad about them, these authors have readers who HATE them. A handful, a hundred.

Sure, it will deter some people.

Just as some people don’t shop at the Dollar store.

I don’t wholly want to infer that my writing is of bad quality. It doesn’t have the benefit of a $1,000/hr editor. But, some of those books aren’t worth the price you pay for them either. So …it’s not that bad of a metaphor. 99 cent book. Maybe you do get what you pay for.

I question the assumption that every written world there must be PERFECT. How much do computer companies get to charge for their software that crashes, freezes and is less than perfect? Why do we put up with the cost?

Publishing companies have taught us to expect it because they held the gate for many years. They said was good enough and what wasn’t. now the reader can decide. And I really don’t expect people to flock to my book and heap praise upon me because it’s the best thing ever written.

I know I limit my success due to the imperfection. I’m just refusing to stay in the shadows until I reach some goal. I’m putting my shit out there and a few people are reading it and liking it.

If in five years, I find that Colours of the Rain and Second Chance Romance and the rest of the imperfections are hurting my sales. I’ll dump the name. It’s not that hard to find another one. Especially when your entire premise is that you make shit up and people pay for your made up shit.

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Why cheap and free are okay

But what about free content?

Image by pr1001 via Flickr

I’m sure people hoard 99 cent books because they are cheap to buy. Some people download free content and never around to looking at it. I have a ton of free pdfs that I’ve forgotten about. They sit in a folder entitled “books” or “downloads” and once in a while I find them, glance through the pages, realize it’s not for me and delete it.

It’s still a valid way to get your name out to people.

Especially when it comes to short stories. Colours of the Rain has been downloaded 1500 times. If a tenth of the people read it that’s 150 reads. If half of them read it, that’s 700. Cool!

Second Chance Romance
has 748 downloads. If 5% read it and buy Summer Fling, that’s 40 sales.

It’s far better than no one buying it at 5.99 or even 2.99. I know I could get a higher royalty at 2.99 on Amazon. And I consider changing it and seeing how many copies get sold.

Part of why I don’t have it at 2.99 is I don’t feel like it’s a 2.99 book. I said before in my imperfection that my writing is 70%. I don’t have the 30% to get a professional set of eyes on it to push it past 100. I’m getting better at it.

I know 99 cents is equated with a less professional book. Maybe I’m reinforcing that attitude. Hey, become a beta reader and point out my flaws before I release the book. Email me asrai.rdATgmail.com. 🙂

The second reason I’m going with free and cheap is I just want to be read. At two  years into the writing. self publish journey, I don’t expect to be on the best seller’s list. Many of the author’s going around talking about self-publishing are established, they have a name, they are known, so their success doesn’t apply to me.

ALso, I don’t have a strong backlist yet. I have three novel length books on Amazon and Smashwords. I have two short stories for free. That’s not a lot. I’m building my platform, I’m building my readership. That is more important to me than 70% royalty.

Lots of people can write about why 2.99 is better than .99 cents. It’s not better. It’s different. It’s not a lack of pride.

If you go with 99 cents because it’s cheap and lots of people will buy, do your research. Make sure you are setting a price point that works for you.

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Passive and was

I’m learning this writing thing. And one thing I’ve noticed recently is my passive verbs. I don’t know if readers take note or not, but when I do a grammar check thing it tells me I’m using the passive voice a lot.

I never thought much about it. But it keeps coming up in blogs I read. I feel like the universe is beating me over the head. Universe if you are listening, you can stop now, I got the message.

I do the ‘was’ thing a lot.

As in:

She was trembling

blah. So, what did that look like authoress?

When ‘was’ is used, it’s mainly telling not showing.

Her hands shook so bad her arms moved.

or

Her whole body vibrated.

So, universe, I got the message, I will edit the was out of everything. Tone it down just a little so I can finish the first draft. If it isn’t polished, the world won’t end. I will go and edit all my writing later.

After this draft of Baggage. Please.

(WordPress only found one instance of passive voice in this blog post. I edited it out.)

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Corey with Mac: Three

This one was a second attempt where Corey lives with Doug Black. Mac is Mackenzie Black, Doug’s sister. Great inherent conflict right there. What guy wants his friend who sleeps around to be near his sister?

Mackenzie Black considered herself classy. Even so she was excited her brother was coming to visit. She was a little annoyed he was bringing a friend with him, but the guy, Corey something, didn’t have a family to spend Thanksgiving with. And Doug, being the big-hearted guy that he was, couldn’t let his room mate and team mate return alone to Calgary.

She was just thankful that the schedule worked out so she could see her brother for the holiday. It wasn’t likely to happen again and since she spent most of her time working and he spent his time playing a game it would be a while before they got together again.

Her parents were picking up Doug and what’s-his-face at the airport. She was at her parent’s house watching the turkey and setting the table. And also checking out the window every few minutes to see if they’d arrived.

Mac looked at the clock again. They wouldn’t be here for at least twenty minutes, probably longer. Who knew with traffic from the airport on Thanksgiving weekend. She’d have to navigate back in a couple of days with them, but that was another story.

Mac turned on the television and sat down. It wasn’t long before she heard the car pull into the driveway and she jumped up. Feeling like a kid on Christmas morning she opened the door, even though it was damn cold out, even for October.

She ran outside. Her brother was already out of the car with arms open. She jumped into them and hugged him tight. “My favorite brother,” she chortled.

“In the flesh.” They hugged for a moment and then he set her down. She hopped back and forth on the cold cement driveway.

“How was your trip?”

“You forgot your shoes,” a voice said from the other side of the car. She shivered, not from the voice, it was the cold. And the lack of shoes.

The face in front of the voice was fucking beautiful. She’d seen him on television, but that did him no justice compared to the potency of meeting him in person. Doug warned her to stay away, that he was a skeevy player who picked up one night stands all over the place.

Mac wasn’t sure what that meant. But now that he was standing here in the driveway, smiling and oozing sex appeal, it meant that she had a mission. To jump the guy without anyone in the house knowing what was going on.

Doug was overprotective over her, even though he was 20 months younger. And getting away from his death glare wasn’t going to be easy. She wondered how afraid Corey was of Doug.

She’d have to do a little convincing. If what Doug said about the man was half-true, it shouldn’t be too hard. And few men could resist her smile. Or her ask.

Doug kept his arm around Mac as he spoke. “Mac this is my buddy Corey. Corky this is my little sister Mackenzie.”

“Nice to meet you,” Mac said.

Corey came around the car and offered his hand. Mac grasped it and shook. Nice warm with callouses. She shivered again. “So, I’m not wearing any shoes. So I’ll talk to you inside.”

“Thanks for the help with our bags,” Doug called.

“Big strong boys like you, you’ll be fine,” Mac replied. She glanced at Corey and he winked.

Maybe convincing him wouldn’t be difficult at all.

Mac winked back and then made sure to wiggle her hips in super slow motion as she went inside. Just in case her smile wasn’t enough.

* * *

Corey pulled his gaze away from Doug Black’s older sister’s ass as she sashayed it up the steps to her parent’s house. She did that on purpose.

Instead of watching the enticing little sway, he looked at the sway’s brother. Who would kick his ass if he so much as caught Corey looking at her the wrong way. Doug had made that clear before they had even left Calgary.

Corey would just have to make sure he didn’t get caught. He caught a grin before Doug saw him. “Come on, it’s cold out, grab your bags and get your ass inside the house.”

Corey came around the car and grabbed his bag from the trunk. Doug elbowed him in the side. “Stop drooling over my sister.”

Corey bit back the reply that his sister was deliberating baiting him. “Right.” He also stifled a snort. Too bad he didn’t have a sister as a point of reference, so he could pretend Mackenzie Black was related to him.

Of course, if he had a sister, he would be spending the holidays with her instead of with his team mate. No point in dwelling on useless thoughts. He shook it off and followed Doug inside the house.

He took his shoes off and placed them on the neat rack beside the door. “Doug, come to the kitchen please,” Mrs. Black called.

Doug dropped his bag. He looked at Corey for a moment. “Mac, show Corey our rooms.” Corey’s gaze flew to Mackenzie’s, who was standing to the side of the entry way. Doug looked pointedly at him once more and then went to the kitchen.

“What was that look for?”

“He’s worried about your virtue.”

Mackenzie laughed and took a step toward Corey. He took a step back. The dance continued until Corey was against the shoe rack. Mackenzie laughed again, this time very close to him. “I’m just trying to get my brother’s bag.”

“Oh. Right.” She kept her smile and gaze on him while she picked up the bag. Kissing her in the foyer of her parents house when her brother might return any minute was a bad idea. Really bad.

“Come on,” she said, glancing over her shoulder. “I’ll show you where I’ll be sleeping.” And they were walking.

She did say where she was sleeping right? Was that an invitation? Either she was really hot for him or she was an evil temptress.

Past the kitchen, Doug gave him a warning look. Corey shook his head. Around a corner and down a hallway, and then down some stairs. Mackenzie dropped Doug’s bag in front of a door and then moved to invade Corey’s personal space. “So Doug is staying in his old room down here.”

Corey’s heart was in this throat. Mackenzie was just a little below eye level. Corey reached for her and brushed her hair from her face and then rested the back of his hand rest on her cheek. She put her hand on his upper arm and stretched up to him.

Corey looked at her hips for a moment. He was going to hell. Or at least Doug was going to beat the crap out of him. And then he brushed his lips across her glossy, pouty smile.

She wrapped an arm around his neck and pulled him deeper, her mouth opening and her tongue slipping into his mouth. She tasted like coffee and cherry lip gloss. He felt his dick start to go hard and he pulled away. Slamming his head into the wall in the process.

She looked at him with a frown.

“Sorry, Mackenzie. My body was about to react in ways that I wouldn’t be able to hide from your family.”

She grinned and pulled him down for a second quick kiss.

“I really don’t want to sleep on the floor of your brother’s room,” Corey added.

She licked her bottom lip really slowly and then sashayed herself back up the stairs.

He followed that round ass back to the main floor and to the back of the house. She opened a door and pushed him inside. “This is where you will sleep.”

“My room is two doors down. There’s a bathroom between us.”

Corey raised an eyebrow. “Where do your parents sleep?”

“Upstairs.” She pointed towards the stairs at the end of the hall. “Doug and I have an older brother and sister.”

“Where are they?”

“Pete is a lawyer in New York and far too busy for the likes of us. And Sam is with her in-laws for this holiday.” Corey sat down on the bed inside the room. Mackenzie leaned against the door jamb. “And you?”

“I have no family,” he said, standing up and brushing past her. That was not something he was going to talk about. “Where’s the bathroom? I need to powder my nose before supper.” Before Mac could reply Corey disappeared down the hall.

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Corn Maze

Thursday was not a nice day here. The province west of ours (BC) is covered in wildfires. Much of my husband family lives in the Cariboo region where the worst of it is.

So anyway, the smoke drifts over our province and further east. It was bad here, visibility was limited.

But my mom phones, her friend is coming with her girls (13 twins with special needs and a 5 year old) and we should all go to the corn maze.

Yeah right. Okay so we pack up and head out. And I’m driving along thinking “this is the worst idea in the world I can barely see. Is having the baby out in this good?” But we get there and it’s not too bad.

So we hang around playing with stuff for a while because there’s jumping places and pedal cars to drive. Then we head into the maze.

And we are LOST. Lost lost lost. There are 4 parts to phase one (which it turns out is the longest part of the maze) and we get stuck in part 1 for like 40 minutes and then part 2 for another 40 or something. It’s insane.

And then it starts to POUR. And then the pouring turns to mini-Hail. It’s hailing.

My daughter and I are dressed warmly with shoes. My mom has shoes and shorts on. The friend and her kids are wearing shorts, t-shirts and Flip-flops. We hide in the corn for a bit.

I have the baby in a carrier on my front and I’m leaning over him as best I can. He’s sleeping through this all.

The rain isn’t slowing and hiding in the corn doesn’t help. So we decided to just press on try to get the hell out. Somehow.

The dirt path which has been walked on endlessly is now MUD.

Finally this kid who works the maze and helps the lost (us) finds us and says he’ll lead us out. THANK YOU kid.

It’s slippery. The girls are freaking out about the mud and wet and cold. Their legs are turning black because flip-flops flip mud up the backs of their legs.

My stroller (which I only brought to carry all the stuff we needed) is caked in mud. It still is since we don’t  have a tap outside.

My daughter is marching right behind the dude saving us. I’m holding the youngest kid’s hand so she doesn’t fall into the mud. Eventually two of the kids take off their sandals.

I’m laughing. We decide that it’s funny because we’ll  have this great story. Remember that time we went to the corn maze …

No one had a camera. Mom called my step-dad and asked him to bring one. He jumps on his motorcycle and drives into the worst of the storm.

We wash the girls feet in this water pump game and then eat supper and play until they kick us out.

Moral of the story: never go to a corn maze in sandals. And everything is funny if you look at it sideways.

Oh yeah, the clues they give you. Totally wrong. Both times they sent us in the wrong direction.

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Where I am is a good place

My mom and I took the kidlets to the water park yesterday. And we were talking about people and spending money on silly things like Gel Nails. If that’s your thing, I apologize, or well I don’t care, personal appearance means little me.

I confessed I have zero items of make-up. that’s not true, I do have some eyeshadow, eyeliner and lipstick that I never wear and is probably old enough to need to be thrown out. I cannot manage to care about wearing make-up. If you don’t like my face without it then too freaking bad quite frankly.

I don’t want to tell you how long my leg hair is. Except for the small patch where I started waxing … last week.

Anyway, my Mom then asked if I spend money on myself.

Not really, I reply. I got my Kobo eReader this year. Last year, I got the Wii Fit and Balance Board. I do spend a little on myself from time to time but over all no, I don’t spend much on myself. My husband likes to buy movies and he smokes. It’s an unfair balance. But, I like to worry about saving our money so we can move up the financial ladder. That makes me happy. Spending $6 a month on movies makes him happy. And he isn’t ready to quite smoking, I’m ready, but he’s not so I’m not going there. He smokes outside. He doesn’t share a bed with the baby.

My mom then tells me when I was growing up she never spent money on herself because they didn’t have any. Which isn’t really true. It was very unstable, non-secure money. My dad is not a saver. He isn’t deeply in debt but he’s always a little in debt. That’s none of my business so I don’t go there.

But it drove my mother crazy. She hated not having savings, hated scrimping, hated how he’d spent what he felt like.

She resented it and him. She was miserable because neither of them could compromise.

I’m not miserable. I accept that my husband needs to spend a certain amount to feel satisfied. It’s not really that much and we both agree not to go into debt for consumer goods. We make very little money but manage to stretch it A LONG ways. While he was unemployed and I was working 70% we managed to pay off $5000 including a new furnace.

Anyway, I don’t need to buy a lot of stuff for myself. I’m happy getting my books from the library, using scraps for sewing, making all of our meals, using my leftover yarn, and buying used for most of our consumer goods.

Right now I’m waiting for an email from a person selling a front load washer and dryer for dirt cheap. My washing machine isn’t wringing all the water out of it. It’s nearly 8 years old, not the best lifespan and I could probably get it fixed.

Anyway, what more do I need in life? I have a computer, internet access, a vehicle of my own, my eReader and mp3 player, TV, 2 video game systems … the list goes on and on and on. I’m pretty fucking blessed. I have enough money for food and shelter and savings. I went to school part time for like five years and I got to stay home with my daughter for ages and will with my son (we don’t trust other people). If I have anything to complain about it’s First World Problems.

In addition to being an author, my dream job is playschool teacher. When I was in high school I did a work experience day at a playschool and I was pretty sure it was worst job ever. But, now that I’ve pretty much done it, I want to do it again and again. I want to create the lessons and teach them and see the children enjoying learning.

I don’t want to teach elementary school or high school or anything else. Just playschool. It’s awesome.

And if anyone has a good podcast catcher, let me know. Ziepod won’t work, I don’t know why. I’ve uninstalled, reinstalled. I don’t like iTunes, but I’ve resorted to it because EVERY OTHER thing I’ve tried gpodder, juice and something else, won’t let me add feeds.

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