Sunday, January 24, 2016

Happy Birthday, Blade's Edge!

Blade's Edge is one year old today!

Wow. It still feels like I just published it.

I honestly don't know where I thought I'd be a year after publication so I can't say if I've fallen short of expectations or exceeded them.

As part of my long term marketing plan for the release of the sequel to Blade's Edge I am currently listing Blade's Edge on Netgalley, something that I wound up not doing initially because I of the exorbitant cost involved. However, in the year since Blade's Edge's release I have learned a few tricks. One of which is that there are a number of organizations that buy Netgalley listings in bulk and then sell them to people for a one month slot at a time. Which is wonderful, because it greatly reduces the cost of Netgalley and still affords you all of the benefits.

You may be wondering, "what the heck is Netgalley?" And if so, here's a brief explanation: Netgalley puts your book into the hands of reviewers, librarians, booksellers, bloggers and other professional readers. Readers can browse and request books and then the publisher approves or denies their request. If the request is approved then the reader receives a free digital copy of the book in exchange for a review. (Librarians and booksellers are exempt from being expected to leave reviews as they generally read with the intent to decide whether or not to buy a book.) That's the nutshell explanation.

So, I have finally listed Blade's Edge with Netgalley and it seems to be doing pretty well. I say "seems" because as I've booked my slot through a third party I don't get up to the minute results on how things are going. In fact I won't get an actual report on how things went until the listing is done (which will be the end of February in this case). However, quite a few people have recently added the book the to their bookshelves on Goodreads, some of whom have noted that they received the book through Netgalley (even before leaving the review) and it has received one rating with no review attached and one new glowing review on Amazon (which pushes it up to 20 reviews there, yay!) that are direct results of the Netgalley listing. Plus, as I am a Netgalley member, I can see its listing whenever I like and the cover has received 23 thumbs ups so far and zero thumbs down. Since one has to click on the listing in order to thumbs up the cover this leads me to believe that probably something near that number of people have actually requested it for review (but that could be totally off).

It is my hope that this endeavor will get between 10 and 20 new reviews for Blade's Edge. If that's true that will be WELL worth the money paid for the privilege. If I generate fewer reviews than that... I'll be mildly disappointed, but still glad for any that are added to the list. Reviews are huge for independent authors, as I've mentioned a few times before...

Anyway, all that is to say that I think Blade's Edge is doing pretty well one year out. I think it would be doing better if I were better at marketing and publicity, but I'm working on it. I have a lot of faith in the quality of the book itself, I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from total strangers as well as people I know and love and all of that means a lot to me.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me along the way, and here's to another year of progress!

Artemis and Corey and I went skating on the river today. Mostly Artemis thought it was awesome, but clearly in this moment she did not. I thought it made for a funny shot. Sorry it's so blurry.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Very brief...

On my walk with the dog today, I came across a few things that made me chuckle (including a large man walking two very small dogs wearing coats and boots) but I will share the one that was the most "Manitoba" here.

I saw two guys in their early twenties snowboarding down the slope from the trail to the river... which is all of about 35 feet of slope and covers only 15 feet of vertical descent.

As someone who grew up at least partially in the Colorado rockies...

I at least managed to contain my laughter until I'd gotten far enough away that they wouldn't assume I was laughing at them.

Of course in a province that has a "ski hill" set up in one of its larger drainage ditches with a ski lift and everything... I suppose it's not really that surprising. Especially when said ditch charges 32CAD for a single day lift ticket for a hill that any of my deceased grandparents could have walked up repeatedly lugging skis were any of them still alive or, more creepily, returned to life as zombies who for some reason feel compelled to ski in a ditch.

Maybe those guys I saw in the park were smarter than I gave them credit for.

Friday, January 15, 2016

In which a cold destroys my week...

So, of course, right after I published a post that included statements about how infrequently I've gotten sick in the last year and half... I came down with a nasty head cold. Perhaps ironically, I started feeling congested and foggy headed halfway through writing that blog. So, if it didn't seem overly coherent to you, that may be why. But it came on in full on Tuesday and has only started releasing me in the past 24 hours. Not gone yet, but slowly unclenching it's evil grip...

In case you're wondering though, I held true to my word and took the dog out to enjoy the winter weather all the days that I was sick. It was only on the first full day of illness (Tuesday), where I felt so terrible that I barely managed to get us outside before it was dark, that the combination of me not feeling well, the temperature having dipped farther due to the sun almost being gone, and a full day of artificial warmth caused us to only make a quick loop around the block before coming back home. However, the rest of the week the dog got the full 1.5 hours of outdoor snow romping, and honestly those were the moments where I felt the most energetic out of the whole time. So I stand by my playing outside even when sick rule, but I would like to stop being sick anyway, if that's ok with everyone.

Anyway, I had planned to release the kickstarter video series this week. However, being sick has done two things: it has made my head foggy enough that editing the video I had already recorded is much slower going than it should be, and it has made it inadvisable to record any new video. I don't think you want to see videos of me looking like beat up anemic kitten and sounding like a pack a day smoker. Or maybe you do, but I don't want to show them to you.

So, I am behind on the video releases, but they are forthcoming. I'm hoping to get them recorded and edited by the end of next week. There are a lot of them. The first is an overview about whether or not one should pursue a Kickstarter and then there are three more about how to actually go about making and running a successful Kickstarter before launch, during the campaign, and after the campaign is successful. I have it all scripted out, I'm just waiting to be able to talk again.

In the meantime, I have not gotten much writing done as I have not felt like I can get words to come to me easily. That ends today. It's the 15th and I don't have much time to get my act together. There will be 2000 words today, whether they are good words or not. I need to get back into the story and get working. If I don't finish the first draft before February there is no chance that I'll be able to get this book ready for May.

Alright, this has been a text heavy update on all that's been going on in my writing world lately. Sorry about that. It's all I'm capable of at the moment. Thought it was better than maintaining radio silence, plus it gives you an idea of what is coming up. Hope everyone is well! May you not get this nasty head cold. Here's a video of air freezing the water off the top of the river from the other day (making it look like steam):

Monday, January 11, 2016

Go Play Outside

After a warm start this winter, Winnipeg is beginning to live up to it's nickname this week.

They don't call it Winterpeg for nothing.

But even with overnight lows meriting warnings on my weather app, I still enjoy getting outside to play during the day for an hour at least when I can. Having a dog makes this a. more enjoyable and b. something I can't talk myself out of when it's blustery out. The dog needs to take care of bodily functions and she needs to exercise, and me being wanting to be lazy doesn't change that. (Though, to be fair, if it's - 45 the dog and I will both probably curl up inside after she does her best to pee quickly and run back inside.) 

The last few days of -15 to -20 (Fahrenheit) however, have found Artemis and I happily trotting through the woods in our nearby park.

Artemis is not deterred by a little "frost face."

We did this all last winter as well, causing a number of my friends who have resided in Winnipeg for most or all of their lives to look at me as though I have grown an additional head and ask, "but aren't you from Arizona?"

Which makes me chuckle for a number of reasons. Those of you reading this who know me will know that "from" is a stupidly difficult assignation for me, and that "Arizona" hardly covers it. But that aside, sure, I spent the last three years before moving to Winnipeg in a climate that rarely dropped below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and almost never saw snow, but I also spent those same three years dedicating as much time to playing outside as I could, year round. Even my job encouraged it, as part of what I was paid to do was to take high school students outside to climb, trail run, and go backpacking. After three years of spending so much time in the wilderness, playing outside is a hard habit to break.

And humans are nothing if not adaptable.

So, even though I now live in a city, am no longer surrounded by national forest on all sides, have to do more than step out my front door to go for a seven mile hike on which I'm unlikely to encounter any other humans, and the aforementioned city is one that occasionally issues cold weather warnings for -45 windchill... I still like to go play outside, at least a bit, every day that I can.

The rewards for which are pretty fantastic.

In addition to all the natural beauty and cute dog pictures, apparently research has shown that spending time outside in the winter is quite good for your health (yep even when it's -20 out). And, if you're looking for anecdotal evidence, I have to say that I ALWAYS feel better after going for a walk in the cold, even when I'm feeling a bit sick already. In addition, I have gotten sick less often since moving to Winnipeg (however there are many factors that could contribute to that, so you know, grain of salt and all of that). 

All in all, playing outside is a big part of what keeps me sane (or as close to it as I'm likely to get), and I highly recommend it to anyone, even if you live someplace where winter means business.

Artemis is not the only one who occasionally suffers from "frost face."

Happy Winter! Now go play outside! 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Happy New Year! A Look at What Was and What Is Yet to Be...

Reflecting on the previous year sometimes seems daunting, as I cringe to think of all the things I'd planned to do, but didn't accomplish, and worry that my achievements won't line up with my expectations. Luckily, I didn't make much in the way of new years resolutions last year (I just went through old blog posts to be sure) so I didn't have much to fail at. Phew!

That said, there were still some proclamations I made throughout the year and I lived up to some and not to others. Shall we take a brief look at those?

  • Proclamation: Release another novel in 2015
    • Result:  Didn't happen. This was supposed to be Gwendamned, which I spent many  months revising only to decide it wasn't the book I wanted to publish next/ever due to my disenchantment with the main character.
  • Proclamation: I will write the full first drafts of two new books the Blade's Edge sequel and the first book in the Victoria Marmot series.
    • Result: Not quite. I wrote 60% of the former and 50% of the latter, but I did not finish either first draft in 2015. I have hopes to finish at least one of those in the next three weeks though.
  • Proclamation: I will run my own triathlon.
    • Result: Not so much. I failed spectacularly at this. I hope to make a more concerted effort this year.
  • Proclamation: I will make exercise a higher priority in my day to day life as it makes everything else I do better.
    • Result: SUCCESS! I made this proclamation sometime in October and I actually stuck to this all through November and December even with the holidays to contend with. (Believe it or not I actually went for at least a 2 mile run 8 out of 11 days that we were down in the US and I've been doing pull ups every day in Winnipeg and taking the dog for long walks and am working up the courage to run in the Winnipeg cold.) 

Those are all the proclamations I can remember at the moment, but to be honest, even with my failings, I feel pretty good about the whole thing. Despite spending months revising Gwendamned I think not publishing it was the right choice until I can figure out how to fix it (which I may have done on one of the aforementioned runs in the US oddly enough). And I made some serious progress on those two new books and have big plans to get them up and running this spring. 

So the new year feels full of promise, as it generally tends to do. And I am looking forward to getting a number of things accomplished this year. I will list them out, just for the sake of putting them on virtual paper, but first let's take a moment to appreciate a dog in the snowy woods...


Now then, these are not resolutions, as I don't make resolutions (nothing against them, just not the way I roll). These are goals that I'm setting and hope to meet. Wondering how that's different? I think that resolutions are promises to change one's behavior, whereas goals are a list of tasks to be accomplished. So these are goals. 

  • Finish writing, edit, and publish the sequel to Blade's Edge by May
  • Finish writing, edit, and publish the first book in the Victoria Marmot series (though possibly via a different avenue than the ones I've used for the Blade's Edge books - more on that later)
  • Work on revising yet another book
  • Work on another new book
  • Finish the short stories for all of my kickstarter backers BEFORE the release of the Blade's Edge sequel
  • Run my own triathlon or half marathon or both
  • Improve my marketing/promotions techniques such that my books become a reliable source of income
  • Climb more than I did in 2014
  • Put up at least one new youtube video on my Indie Authoring channel per month! 
  • Launch a patreon account
And that's it! For now anyway. You know me and goals. I like setting them. 

I hope that everyone is having a lovely winter so far. I'm off to prepare for our final "Christmas" celebration of the season.