Three Day Weekends

While the regular two-day weekend allows for extra tickling-time for the kiddos, three-day weekends don’t seem to last as long. I’ve noticed this phenomenon occurs more often the more children you have.

Surprisingly enough, today felt like a real Saturday! Normal Saturdays are spent “doing stuff” like shopping, wandering around malls, and tickling children (usually our own children). From time to time there’s a birthday party, sometimes even two on the same weekend.

Part of me is still coming to grips with the fact that, this Monday, I will get to stay home and not work WITHOUT a migraine! shakes fist at head I mean that! No migraines! My plans thus far are to sleep, eat, soak in the tub with a book or game (smartphones are awesome like that), tickle Deia, play this AWESOME NEW GAME that just came out called Guild Wars 2, and maybe convince the hubby to get cheesecake. Mmmm….cheesecake. They have super nomnom cheesecake at Nation’s, along with eggs and bacon and sausage…mostly low-carb, right? 😀

Since I’m feeling relaxed and enjoying my weekend thus far (My Little Pony and Phineas and Ferb reruns always make me giggle), it was actually very easy to login on my blog to post a snippet. Thanks to all the people who made it possible for us to celebrate holidays with days off! 🙂

Tomato, Tomahto; Fate, Karma

You can go down the list of cursed blame and find Lady Luck, Fate, Karma and a random God all together. All “religions” seem to be joint when it comes to pin-pointing reasons for failure, problems or whatever.

When everything is going fantastically, we all tend to feel similarly, as in “it’s about time.” If we even notice. Society as a whole has gotten to a point where it feels it’s seen it all, done it all, bought the book and watched the movie. For some reason, this jaded mentality has corroded our ability to congratulate someone earnestly when they’ve accomplished something. We revel in the negative statements and bitchy epithets allowed by the enormous “eLife” offered by the Internet. In bringing these large groups of people together from all over the World we’re in a place that really allows us to learn and grow from each other. Instead of grabbing that opportunity, we’re wasting our precious lives groaning and moaning about things we probably could care less about. Social Media has allowed the inner gremlins to come out and shake angry fists at anthills, ignoring the beautiful luscious forests filling the mountain tops in the distance. I honestly am upset when someone is having a hard time or needs the comfort of friends. Reaching out is never something to be taken lightly. It’s hard enough for a person to admit they even need help in the first place.

My question to you isn’t whether you really are stuck or in a bad frame of mind. It’s about what you’re going to do to fix it. For myself, I’ve found just having an outlet is sufficient to get something to stop bugging me. A few good friends don’t mind the litany, and provide just enough of their own experiences so I don’t feel alone. Once we’re done figuring out my shit and their shit, we move on. From those points, we talk about everything from delicious Chocolate Chip Pancakes at iHop, or how to make the lowest carb cheesecake, and my personal favorite: what books we’re reading. (OK the cheesecake is also a favorite. Mmmm…I still think there should be a Cheesecake Frappucino, Freda, and I’m NOT pregnant :P)

Yesterday I blogged about Introspection. Looking inward, finding things out about yourself that you probably don’t want to know and will most likely never remember (unless you have a nifty blog). While I don’t recommend living your life constantly watching yourself like that, it’s a valuable tool for those times when nothing else seems to be working for you. Your cat won’t use the litter box and all the advice they gave you at PetSmart just doesn’t work on your cat. You have a weird cat. For all you know, your cat is a Drogo. Looking inwardly, finding it within yourself to admit that perhaps you should stop leaving your poprocks in her litterbox, you’ll discover you had the answer all along.

Life is never that simple, of course. We’re complex creatures with enormous capacity for everything we set our minds to. Blaming things we claim are out of our control allows us to get away with being half of what we want to be. Maybe it’s laziness; I’m sure lazy! I’d rather eat cheesecake than figure out why I keep plucking my eyebrows when the stupid eyebrows just keep growing back. Hell, I’d rather eat cheesecake than pluck my eyebrows. Mmmm….cheesecake….

So since we’re such complex creatures, we’ve all got our coping mechanisms, internal stream of conscious, SUBconscious, etc. I’ve got a very personal relationship with Karma. Karma and I go way way back. I think we met when I got put on timeout after biting someone back in Preschool, although it could’ve been when I kept throwing that toy to make Mom pick it up for me again and she finally just stuck me in my crib for naptime (I HATE NAPTIME! WAAH WAAAH SN…nnn..oooooore). Whenever it was she seems to remember my transgressions better than I do. I’ll be walking along, innocent as can be, and WHACK! I hit my knee on a f)(&)()ng arm chair. ARM CHAIR. That was to make up for accidentally elbowing that guy on my way back from lunch, but oooow!! That hurt!

Some people believe you will receive 3x the harm back to you that you’ve done to others. Honestly, that seems a bit harsh, especially if you aren’t intentionally hurting someone. Going out of your way to do someone harm would definitely warrant that sort of reciprocation, but for accidental elbow-jabbing? I think tit-for-tat is fair in that case. Strangely enough, Karma agrees. Wait WHAT?? Karma AGREES? Preposterous!
In fact, it isn’t preposterous at all. It’s something I fully believe, and as a result, my internal deity agrees. When you believe something completely, you subconsciously set yourself up for what you believe you deserve. Because of this, we tend to have something in the back of our minds that we’ve named that will mete out those small justices. Mine is Karma, of course. Some people have Lady Luck or Fate, some people feel they should blame God. Perhaps blame is too strong a word, though. What I mean is they are responsible for ensuring the behavior we’ve been raised with. As someone raised in a very strict Christian environment, I’ve always believed we get what we deserve, so we should do unto others as we have had done..oh wait no, that’s the other one. We should do unto others as we would have them do to us. It’s a very simple statement that covers a lot of territory. If you send out positive signals to the universe (think happy thoughts), happy things will come to you. In essence, if you walk around smiling, people won’t treat you like dirt. What is your reaction to someone you see who is smiling, whistling, singing, or exhibiting signs of happiness? Mine’s usually a giggle or grin. When I’m really down and out it might get a sad smile, but it’d still improve my mood! Because we’re all linked through language, body or verbal, we as individuals can change the world with a simple smile. When you’re not feeling so happy though, try not to smile — it looks more like a grimace. The best advice for those who’re not-so-happy is to go “Introspective” on yourself and have a chat with your internal deity. You’ll find the rest of your day is a little different. I was a lot more self-aware, but also much more aware of things going on around me. It was extremely daunting to understand more about the reasons behind things (sort-of like how I imagine a person who’s just gotten out of Psych 101 for the day might feel). I had trouble assimilating, so to speak. I did find myself being far more understanding and reacting with a more positive bent though, which did a ton to rack up the good Karma points. Since the experience was such an “eye opener” for me, I wanted to share it with all of you.

Don’t worry! I’m not always such a pretendullectual drag 😉 On a less-intense note, my son absolutely loves tomatoes. His favorite form is actual real live tomatoes. He’ll eat a hamburger, no ketchup, tomatoes only. We aren’t sure if he’s a changeling or not though, since he isn’t all that fond of cheese. In my family, dislike of cheese gets you kicked out. Thankfully my son does like “Pizza Cheese,” so as long as it has been shipped on Pizza before, he’ll eat it.

Wonder what tomorrow’s blog should be about? Maybe this fun new game I’ve been playing…

Introspection

My fantastic new 26-days-of-blogging goal seems to have gotten off to a rather rocky start. Tuesday afternoon I got hit with a wonderful new invention, the epithet-epithet Migraine. If you haven’t tried one yet, you’re really missing out. This particular one lasted through the middle of Wednesday, when I started to feel marginally ogre-like. By this morning I’d finally magically transformed back into a human (yes! I’m a human!).

For some reason migraines always seem like battles to me, which probably doesn’t help them disappear quickly. By the time they’re finally over there’s this euphoric, exhaustive relief that surrounds my psyche and leaves me introspective. As someone who is normally gregarious like nerve endings near a deep gushing wound, going inward like that is extremely weird. Weird?!? I’m sorry, I can’t think of any other word that explains it so well. I feel weird.

One of the aspects of my SELF that I’ve always kept private is my belief in things outside what is seen, heard, tasted, etc. How can you not believe in something outside your scope of senses? There are all manner of things going on “under the hood” for everyone. I’ve always been able to play-back a tune in my head as thought it were playing live right in front of me. I’ve got life “snapshots” from various points in my life imprinted on my mind that are interpreted differently depending on how old I am. Who is to say that guy over there can’t hear me thinking about how my hair never stays flat? What makes you think your Uncle Damien isn’t actually standing next to you telling you he loves you too?

As a writer, I know it is imperative that I understand what is real and what isn’t or I’ll get roped into the universes of my imagination. Being a reader has similar pitfalls, however the writer of those worlds is often so different from you, you’ll never be able to “agree” enough on things to get confused. While I don’t believe every aspect of my “worlds,” I do still feel there’s more in the world I DO live in than I’ll ever understand or be able to wrap my mind around. If you think about it INTROSPECTIVELY you’ll see the typical human reaction to something not quite understood is more complex than their outward expressions. If a dog walked up to you and transformed into a human (hopefully not naked!), what would you do? I myself would freak out, run away, and have myself locked up. I’m not that loony. Someone else may decide “oh, it was a trick of the light” or “That human sure looks like a doggy” or may even completely deny someone was there at all. Because of our own hangups, beliefs, expectations and patterns we’ll usually react in similar manners to similar situations. If I’m always freaking out when doggies turn into men, I’ll probably always freak out when I see ghosts or zombies. If you decide you’re just on the set of a movie, that may be how you always react to the strange things in life.

If enough people say something, it magically becomes true. Magic is everywhere and nowhere, but we don’t believe because it’s that annoying flare of light reflecting in the chrome license plate frame of the car ahead of you. It’s there, but if you turn your head it ISN’T there, so just keep your head turned and it’ll never be there.

Science was once considered Magic. Thanks to the Periodic Table of Elements, we were able to categorize and explore within boundaries things that before had caused people to be drowned, slaughtered or burned alive. If you combine this element with that, the other thing happens. Killing someone who discovered or repeated this did not make that combination go away. Not doing it made it not happen, so if you don’t do that then it doesn’t exist and you can ignore it.

Thanks to the advances in science, we have found a technological fountain of youth. What before was myth has now become scientific. We have medicine to cure almost anything from headaches to those unknown maladies that often left loved ones (and hated ones) dead. Hell, we’re so in love with taking a pill for everything, we take them to keep showing our spouses we love them, take them to keep from having babies we hadn’t planned for, and to keep our nutrients up even though we don’t eat veggies. How many other things exist in our world that could be considered magic in another time or place? We already have moving pictures and singing boxes. We talk to people using hand extensions we press to our faces. We wiggle our fingers over plastic letters and make things appear in the light. We transport our food in magic containers that keep it cold, store food in bigger containers that never get warm, and put food in dinging machines that make it warm very quickly. Don’t get me started on those moving boxes with wheels: those are very obviously caused by evil witches who should be locked away forever.

I’m not saying we’ll be hanging out with ghosts anytime soon, but there has got to be more in this world than we’ve discovered so far. Those magical scientists are finding new types of life every day, from the Chilean Jungle to the frozen slopes of Antarctica. How can we be so jaded a culture when we’re surrounded by the most advanced magic the world has ever seen? How can we believe we’ve seen it all when we can see even more now, better than we have ever seen before? Life is exploration, learning, growing and discovering. We’ll never be done with any of it because there will always be more we don’t know. Let us all be like children and learn as though we had never learned anything before.

Smashwords and Birthdays

My two Kindle books are now also on Smashwords! The first two books I’ve uploaded are Free: “A Joyful Journey” and “The Fantastical Tales of Ben Phelan: Story One.” You can view my Smashwords page here. They’re micro stories, which is why I intentionally made them free. They are also slightly different from the Kindle versions (updated story, different “book extras” like “Upcoming Books,” etc), which will be corrected in time. The stories themselves are intrinsically the same but some suggestions from my readers were implemented.

The Smashwords “Meatgrinder,” one of the most beloved and hated aspects of Smashwords, was successfully satisfied with my .doc! Woot! Thank you work for that $10 copy of MS Office xD Oh, and MS for the HUP. In any case, I followed the “Style Guide” to the T and the Meatgrinder said “om nom nom you should make more properly formatted word documents for me to consume!” I’ll definitely do that, you gorgeous software machine, count on it! Since the Meatgrinder digested them so easily, they’re already approved for Premium services and will be dispatched to all the normal places as a free eBook within the next few weeks. Exciting!

Meryl’s story is progressing nicely and I hope to have her story finished by the end of September. That original hump appears to be part of a past era, with all of the characters (except the two main ones) ready and willing to share their love lives and personal failures. By October, I’ll need some people to market the book with and provide their input on how many times characters smile and sigh, or whatever mine do the most. Mine seem to talk a lot. Sounds like someone else I know Cough Jaiden Cough.

In other news (like life), my baby brother just turned 13! I know what you’re thinking!! You’re thinking “Wow, so young! How can you already have two children?” Well just FYI, our older sister has two children too. Our baby brother is almost two decades younger than us 😛 Perhaps something like that should make it into a novel…hmm! He’s already an uncle four times over with the youngest my almost-one-year-old daughter Deia. The oldest is that Jaiden kid who just started first grade (and whose teacher informed my husband “Jaiden talks a LOT, I mean a LOT.” Yep, that’s our kid! His baby sister Deia talks just as much, especially to her food. Perhaps in time we’ll find out what she’s telling those M&Ms and that bacon, but we like to surmise it’s things like “I’m going to EAT you and then DIGEST you and then fill up my diaper with you!!”

Happy Back To School, folks! Try not to school too hard. The last few months of the year are always relegated to enjoying life as much as possible before you have to spend the beginning of next year following your New Year’s resolutions! Cheesecake, anyone? Mmmmmm.

5 Mistakes A New Author Can Make: Indie vs Traditional Publishing

Indie Publishing vs Traditional Publishing

This blog is co-authored by Jean Hopkins and Richard Flores IV. About Richard.

Indie Publishing (eBook):

  1. Submitting your eBook before researching your options
  2. Not promoting your eBook sufficiently when you have a “Free” or “Discount” time-period.
  3. Adding your eBook to the wrong category
  4. Not being ePrepared for your eBook
  5. Expecting too much of your first eBook

1. One of the first mistakes I ever made when publishing my first two (finished) short stories on KDP was electing to use “KDP Select” without reading the fine print, or researching more on how to make eBooks “free” on Kindle. We’ve all seen the free/cheap Kindle books that are available, which led to my belief that there must be some option for Authors to set their books to $0.00 (or whatever your currency is) on the back-end. In fact, there is! The option is limited to 5 days every 90 days, however, which is significantly less time than I’ve seen many publications set at “free.” There are other options for setting a book free, which I’ll go over shortly. The main point here is not that KDP Select is horrible, which it isn’t at all, but that it may not be for everyone. KDP Select is incredibly useful for Authors who are establishing a name on the market. The relatively short contract length (although probably the standard in Traditional Publishing) is definitely a bonus, since 90 day spans can help get your name out there long enough that you can start submitting elsewhere. Kindle has the largest market share of eBooks (or so I’ve been told) with an enormous number of readers. This doesn’t mean no other eBook store is worth submitting to, but it does mean it’s your quickest entry into the market if you use don’t mess up like I did. Just so we’re clear here, submitting using KDP Select first is a good idea, but once you have established enough readers, you should also submit to other stores. Many Kindle readers have friends who prefer Sony, Nook, Kobo, etc. Those friends won’t be able to get your eBook unless they have an Android or iOS device, or some other Kindle-supported device. Some of them specifically stayed away from Kindle. You don’t want to alienate potential readers.

I want to note here that KDP Select is an option for your Kindle books. You can sell your eBooks through Kindle and not elect for KDP Select. It is a tool used to allow you to get more visibility on their site, however it does lock you in to a 90 day contract. You have three days from your initial “signature” to opt out of it, however if you use any of the 5 “free” days offered through the program, you will be locked in. You can use the 5 days individually or all at once. From my own research and the opinions of others, using 1-2 days at a time gets the most visibility, with a month between sales.

If you want to offer your eBook for free and do NOT want to use KDP Select, you CAN. You just need to submit your eBook elsewhere, which you can do if you aren’t tied to the 90 day contract on KDP Select, set your eBook free there, then use the “Report Lower Price” option on your eBook’s Amazon page. Amazon is good about switching it back to its “regular” price if you change it back from $0.00 on the other sites. If you want to offer free books on multiple platforms, this would be the way to do it. KDP Select only lets you offer free eBooks 5 days every 90 days, which doesn’t work if you want the book to be free all the time.

Here’s a list of other places to submit your eBooks:

  • Smashwords – Smashwords is the first place I would go after establishing clients on Kindle. It submits automatically for you to several places, and if you format your eBook using their (somewhat strict) guidelines, they’ll even provide an ISBN for you. This enables you to submit to eBook resellers that require an ISBN, like iTunes. Smashwords is completely free, but does take a % of your sales.
  • B&N Pubit! – Smashwords will also submit to B&N, but many authors prefer handling this account separately. Smashwords lets you pick-and-choose your vendors, so it’s definitely an option. Some authors prefer having one vendor handle all of their distribution. I’m lazy enough that I’d go the only-Smashwords way.
  • Indie Publishing – there are a lot of Independent Publishers out there. Many cater to specific genres (Erotica, Horror, Sci-Fi, etc) and some are very picky about who they publish. In this sense, they can be like Traditional Publishing.

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2. There are many sites out there that provide their readers with lists of Free or Inexpensive eBooks. Letting them know in advance is a good idea, since they do have other Indie Authors alerting them of their sales. Since eBooks are Digital, many readers are active on the Internet. It is very important to go to your potential readers and “hang out.” I don’t mean running up to them all and saying “GO TO MY BLOG!”, I mean getting to know them and being a PERSON. Don’t be sneaky and two-faced about it either. If you don’t understand or like someone, they probably aren’t the sort of reader who would want to read your work.

Consider advertising your Blog/Website well in advance. Facebook, Google, and Kindle Nation Daily all offer advertising options that are budget-friendly. You can set your maximum spending limit for Facebook and Google, and KND allows you to pick a “Package.” Set up your ads in advance to go live a day before your eBook goes free/on sale, then set your budget for those days. KND suggests choosing the day of the promotion so that readers don’t get confused, since they publish your “ad” the day of the free promotion (if you choose the $29.99 package).

Websites to submit your Free Kindle eBook days to:

  • Pixel of Ink – submit at least two weeks in advance
  • Kindle Nation Daily – unless you pay for highlighting, they will only post if the eBook is one they feel stands out from the crowd
  • The Digital Inkspot – E-Mail the owner directly (there’s an E-Mail address on the page). They are very nice and SUPER awesome! <3

There may be more, but these ones seem to be at the top of the stack so to speak. Ty Johnston has a huge list of even more resources for Indie Authors, and has written 100 blogs for 100 sites.
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3. Number three on my list wasn’t a HUGE issue for me, however it definitely will hinder sales if you tell people your eBook is about hearts and rainbows, but your cover has a bloody corpse on it. There is a list a mile long for categories on KDP, but they only allow you to choose two. For both of my first eBooks, I selected “Short Stories” first. If you are submitting a Short Story it is VERY important that you make sure your reader knows. I’d even go so far as to say you should put your Wordcount in the description so that readers know what they’re buying. If you’re concerned that putting a Wordcount in your description will discourage too many readers, remember the number of Kindle users out there. This does not mean the number of people with Kindles — I don’t own one, however I have the app on my Android, iTouch, two computers and a Blackberry. There is also a Cloud Reader that allows you to read on a browser. The number of people who read Short Stories is significant. In addition to providing Short Story readers an easy way to decide whether to get your eBook, it also keeps you from getting negative reviews from people who feel upset that they were not told the eBook’s length. Win/Win!
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4. If you don’t have a website already and you plan on being an Author, Self Published or Traditional, you need to go get one right now. Namecheap.com is a very inexpensive place to get a domain (if you are so inclined), which you can host WordPress on. If you’d rather have someone else do the hosting for you, you can use authorblog.me (I’m http://jeanhopkins.authorblog.me actually. They use WordPress), WordPress.com, Blogger or Livejournal. If you do decide to use a hosted service (all of which are free, but have added features for $$, except for authorblog.me), you have the added benefit of the socialization aspect that is so necessary for getting your name out there. Livejournal has had years to acquire their users, while WordPress and Blogger are often the preferred hosts for many authors. They all have their own communities that help you have an Internet Presence. Authorblog.me is actually still too new to have a user base, but they do have a nifty URL! You can also sync up your authorblog.me account to WordPress.com (using the Jetpack addon) so you get the benefits of WordPress.com’s community, AND a nifty URL. Right now they’re invite-only, but the host is currently accepting invitation requests. Kindleboards is one of the LARGEST forums for Kindle readers. Many other eBook readers go there as well, however their first and foremost purpose is for Kindle eBooks. They have some strict policies that are very important to follow, however they have a large number of readers and everyone is very nice and welcoming. I’d suggest setting your eBooks up there well in advance (it’s pretty easy to do, they have many guides on how to do it and on how to get started as an Author using Kindleboards). Since you can only “bump” your eBook threads once every seven days unless someone comments on it, I’d suggest setting everything up at least 8 days in advance. That way, if you do make your eBook free, you can comment on your eBook thread. Submitting your own eBooks to the Book Bazaar’s “Free Book Finds” thread is a HUGE no-no (only self-promote in your book’s thread, once every seven days), however at least posting that your eBook is free on its thread will let others know. Just FYI — you can make a thread in “The Book Bazaar” for each of your eBooks. This lets others discuss the eBook. It’s a very large forum.
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5. Last and most CERTAINLY not least, do not expect too much of your first eBooks. Consider this your “Learning Period.” A lot of people luck out majorly their first time through the grind, whereas others find their experience falls short. This is due to the type of work you are submitting: the book cover, the size, the price, the description and the genre. Erotica is a very popular genre, particularly in Short Story format. Maybe not everyone is interested in reading a short Mystery, but many people might be interested in Sci-Fi Flash Fiction. If the cover looks like something their cat couldn’t digest, or perhaps doesn’t even HAVE a cover, it might deter people who would otherwise find the description interesting. Most notably those with a GOOD description attract more readers. A description doesn’t have to be the whole book (if you wrote Flash Fiction); it can touch on the story, provide some insight into the author, and display a bit of the style the author writes in. All of those aspects help a reader decide if they want to buy an eBook. If your eBook has a lot of words but is underpriced, readers may assume it’s junk. You’re the next Laurell Hamilton, so don’t go charging next to nothing for all of your hard work! I’m not going to tell you how much your words are worth; you should try adjusting your prices until you get a good mix of buyers and profit. Each author will have their own experiences with this. As a baseline, the minimum you should go (other than Free) is .99 cents. If you want to stand out from the .99 cent crowd, try $1.99 or $2.99. Even if you don’t have 1,000 buyers at $2.99, your profit will be higher, which may make your bottom line higher.

Traditional Publishing: By Richard Flores IV

  1. Not researching the Market
  2. Not reading the submission guidelines
  3. Not tracking their submissions
  4. Limiting yourself to one type of publication
  5. Giving up too early

I think you have to first decide how you want to publish.  There are many mistakes you can make when you choose to go with traditional publishing.  Since this is called “5 Mistakes” and not “You can really mess this up” I will give you what I think are the top 5.

1.  Not researching the Market:  If you plan to submit a Space Western, you might want to make sure the market publishes Space Westerns.  I don’t just mean that they say they will accept them, do they actually publish them?  Read the market, see what other authors are published there.  Since typically you can expect 30 days to six months of waiting for a response, don’t tie up your time with a market that likely doesn’t like your genre.
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2. Not reading the submission guidelines:  Standard Manuscript format (seen here), is what I write all my stories in.  12 point courier font, 1″ margins all around.  It is pretty standard.  But, the format a magazine wants it in is not always standard.  Some may want a different font, or only certain file types, or no name listed in the header and footer.  Some may want a cover letter, others may want your previous publishing credits.  The point is, you have to read every single line on the submission guidelines for the publication you want to submit to.  You worked hard on that story, don’t let it get tossed out because you can’t follow directions.
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3. Not Tracking their submissions:  There are a few ways to track submissions, but you really need to use Duotrope.  It is free (though I recommend you donate something), and it gives you more information then you can imagine.  Average response times, acceptance percentages, pay rate classifications, and so much more.  I’ve found publications I didn’t even know of on Duotrope (I’ll get to that soon).  But, the main feature on this is the submission tracker.  With many places not wanting simultaneous submissions (meaning you have the story out with other publications at the same time), you need to know where your story is.  Even if they allow your story to be submitted to others, you will want to let the others know if it is picked up.

With how long it can take some places to respond, it can be very easy to forget where your story is at and where you have already sent it.  Don’t embarrass yourself be sending the same story to an editor twice.
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4. Limiting yourself to one type of publication:  Don’t be foolish here.  Don’t limit yourself to one publication type.  Don’t say you will only take “pro rates” or “Print magazines”.  You are limiting yourself.  I talk about this in my post “Quality Versus Quantity” when I talk about aiming for certain pay scales, but you also need to accept where the dart hits.   So don’t limit your story to a certain type publication just because your dream is to be seen on Daily Science Fiction.  That is a great dream, but your story deserves an audience.  There is a just as loyal an audience at any publication.  Aim for your dream market, but don’t stop when you miss the target.  The more you write the better you will get and the closer you will get to a bulls-eye.
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5. Giving up too early:  Duotrope has over 4,000 markets listed.  Hard as it is to believe they don’t list every market either.  The truth is, while I can’t guarantee results, chances are there is a home for your story somewhere out there.  It may take some time to find it, or you may find it right away.  But stopping short of publication is foolish.  I refuse to see any of my short stories die, even if I have to try all 4,000 markets.  For me it is not about pay, it is about telling my story to an audience.  If I stop there, I fail my story, my characters, and worst of all my audience.  Trust me, if you don’t tell your story someone else will.

There is a cycle to getting published, I talk about it in “Getting Published“.  It is easy to give up with rejection.  But, it is part of the process.  You will have to learn to accept that your story doesn’t fit every market.  But, you also need to accept that your story DOES fit at least one market.  Don’t let yourself believe otherwise.  After every rejection, you must submit to the next market.  Don’t even wait a day.  Just send it on out to the next one.
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Richard Flores IV is an author of Speculative Fiction who lives in Vacaville, California.  He fits his writing time around being a father of three young boys and a husband to his beautiful wife.  He has been published in Cygnus Journal of Speculative Fiction and Liquid Imagination.  He also runs a blog where he talks about publishing, writing, and whatever else interests him.  For more information on Richard Flores IV, you can find him online at http://floresfactor.wordpress.com/.  You can also find him on Twitter @Richard_Flores4

Tendons, Tendons, Teeeendons

I bet you guys are all totally wondering about my elbow. I had the surgery, then left you wondering if my arm had subsequently fallen off during my follow-up. You were all probably picturing the look of abject terror on my face as I watched it plummet toward the doctor’s feet.

Oh well, too bad for you guys! It’s totally still an elbow! They took out ONE stitch (that took up two inches of my arm, how does that work?!?), which hurt for a few seconds, and I almost passed out. Hah! See, my arm was nowhere near the doctor’s feet. If I’d had breakfast, the poor doctor would’ve had pancakes all over her feet though.

It’s still a bit early to be determining the surgery a Grade A success. Right now I’m sticking with Grade B. It’ll (apparently) still be a few more weeks before I can bend and unbend my elbow sufficiently to, say, eat with my right hand. It’s amazing though; every evening I go to bed with a sore elbow, and every morning my elbow bends and unbends further than the day before. The ibuprofen was making my stomach crazy so I had to stop taking it, but this pain is NOTHING compared to how bad it was before the surgery. How sad is that? I really need to learn that pain = something bad is going on. At the present moment I’m able to grip a pen sufficiently to sign stuff. Trying to write or draw for any length of time makes my arm and fingers ache, though, which I take to mean is me stressing my newly re-attached tendons. Those suckers are seriously resilient, though.

My hypoglycemia has been acting up lately thanks to the new changes the Weather Channel has been making. They made it high 70s here for a few days, which always exasperates my asthma and hypoglycemia. Bad combination to have; you should stay away from it. Thankfully the easiest way to maintain the hypo part is to stick to a 30g or less a day low-carb diet. For the asthma, lots and lots of water and an inhaler if necessary. Those stupid albuterol shakes make me use it as a VERY last resort, preferably before I start freaking out, since the freakouts make it even worse. In any case! In the words of the aunt who helped raise me, if you’re ever in a situation where this is relevant, “cheese is wetter than crackers.” You probably can’t stop an asthma attack with cheese, but quoting my aunt may help you laugh, forcing air into your lungs to try to circumvent the attack. Hey, it worked for her!

I’ve got an upcoming article in the works. In fact, my half is finished(ish)! Just waiting for my collaborator to have time (having a big family and his own projects AND a job doesn’t make it easy to find time) before going back over my parts to see if I can sneak in some “like he said’s.”

Now that I’ve finished my pre-bedtime ramble, I’ll go head off for bed. Meryl’s story is nearing completion, just to keep you guys updated. It’s into the Novellette length now. It probably won’t get much larger. So much for another short story, huh? 😛

Later gators 😀

The ever important Word Count

According to fictionfactor.com, my two short stories fall between the “Flash Fiction” and “Short Story” categories. I’ve long wondered how to tell the difference between all the names bandied about on forums everywhere. Thanks to Google, I’ve got a much better idea, though fictionfactor seems to be talking mainly about print books. I’d imagine the same rules apply for eBooks as well, and they seem reasonable, so I’ll use them.

Based on their chart, my (unfinished) stories currently fall in these categories:

  • Witch World: Start of the End – Novellette (will probably end up being a Novella)
  • Sara Flynn, At Your Service – Novellette (will be a Novel, probably not an Epic…but who knows!)
  • The Undragoning of Meryl Bennett – Short Story (Will probably stay one, or be a very short Novellette)
  • 2030: AI – Well….this one has 0 words. Micro-Fiction! Hah…still not sure if this will be a Novel or not. It is definitely as wiggly as jumping beans in my head.

Now I just need to conjure another short story for the Ben Phelan series. To do that, I have to figure out whether it’ll be a campfire-type series, or a rundown on the Phelans. Perhaps my next one can be a campfire how-it-all-began. I can see that falling into the Short Story guidelines quite easily. Anybody have any thoughts? Perhaps Richard or Jsean13 (or someone else!) would interested in writing campfire stories from the perspective of the other unnamed kids? We could do a compilation of shorts and give the proceeds to a charity or something. Horror for Charities!

In other news, this stupid thing on my arm is finally coming off tomorrow, along with the stitches. I plan on scrubbing the arm really well with a hot shower before exposing the world to it. It probably looks and smells disgusting, even after only two weeks. Yiiiick!

Elbow Surgery

Deia and I hunting for Easter eggs

I’m slowly learning to type one-handed. If I could use my dominant hand instead, it would be vastly easier. This Thursday will be the unveiling-of-the-arm, when my doctor will remove this splint and the stitches in my elbow. They’re saying another month for physical therapy is necessary, but I’ve been using it somewhat with out any issues. The meds were making me sick so I had to stop them. Considering prior to the op I was downing 8+ ibuprofen a day, not needing any is a huge stride. There is no pain at all except when the hubby bumps into it, but that’s probably because of the plaster splint jabbing my stitches.

I’ve discovered Cabin Fever is really bad when you can’t use an appendage. I call it “Appendage Fever.” You get these needs to do things you can’t because you are tired of being unable to do what you used to. For instance, I’m typing this on my phone because it’s easier to use one hand on an app. I type a lot for my job, and I’ve kept my typos to a minimum while using one hand, but that’s mostly because I’ve had to do that a lot the past few years. The anticipation of getting my arm “back” has also made it hard to come to terms with the whole thing. In the end, though, a few weeks of disuse vs the rest of my life is a no-brainer. I’ll take one surgery for $6500! (yay for tax returns!)

In other news, Meryl’s story got steamy a few nights before my surgery. I mentally tell myself stories as I fall asleep unless they’re stories I’m actively writing (forgetfulness, bored muse, etc) so now I’m all antsy wondering what’s gonna happen next! Eep!

Scared Muse!

My muse is scared! I am, too. I’ll be having Elbow Surgery tomorrow morning (EEEEEEK!) on my dominate arm (EEEEEEK!!!!) and my orthopedic doctor said, “You’ll be in recovery for 4-6 weeks.”

AAAAAAAH!!!! OK, enough with the exclamation marks. I’m honestly relieved to finally get it resolved. The list of things to do once my arm is back in the game keeps growing. In no particular order:

  1. Hold DeiaDeia in my OTHER arm
  2. Tickle Jaiden
  3. Finish the SECRET PROJECT for Richard Flores
  4. Enjoy the hubby more thoroughly >.> (oh wait, TMI!)
  5. Write Write Write Write!
  6. Draw Draw Draw Draw 😀
  7. Finish “The Undragoning of Meryl Bennett”
  8. Finish “Sara Flynn, At Your Service”
  9. Play some DCUO (if the new changes don’t make it suck)
  10. Clean up my office at work (the Boss Man is up in arms over my cable management system. It consists of dangling cables wherever I can so he can trip over them)
  11. Resume workouts so I can get my muscle back. Having babies is hell on muscles. It’d be nice to be able to pick up my 50lb kid again 😛 You know, the almost-six-year-old…giant child? He’s like a tall, skinny WEIGHT! Heavy heavy! Anyway.
  12. Tickle Jaiden
  13. Throw away the ginormous bottle of Ibuprofen I’ve been living on the past few months. Nomnom Ibucandy.
  14. Bash my elbow into more door-ways (OK — maybe not!)

Anybody have a good deal on bubble wrap? Perhaps I should consider encasing my elbows in it. Jaiden runs into walls, I bash my elbows into doorways.

Last week I was on a Muse Roll (they’re really good with ketchup) and surpassed my original intent of “Short Story” on a Muse-fueled dream-turned-story I’ve named “The Undragoning of Meryl Bennett.” As a result, the story is…well, half-way finished. Maybe more, maybe less. So far Meryl has been leading a merry chase with that human male she found, and I have no idea when she’ll be done telling her story. My Muse is as distractable as I am so we keep seeing shinys everywhere. Wheeee! It’s already at approximately 5,000 words. At what point is it no longer a short story anyway?

In the meantime, another story I’ve been working on has gotten more complicated. “Sara Flynn, At Your Service” has finally finished introducing all the characters (I think??) at the 8,000 word mark. It’s not a slow story, just a long one. The hint-of-trouble has finally been suggested, and one of the freshly introduced characters has informed me (and the main character) of some interesting stuff regarding ANOTHER character. Drama! No, not really. Well, maybe. We’ll see.

Oh oh oh!! By the way! The Amazon Books I’ve got up at the moment will be going Free again on Sunday April 8th and Monday April 9th (Happy Easter!). See my previous post for links to them. Don’t forget to write a review for ’em if you do grab them. If you’d like to critique, please respond on my blog so we can get a discussion going. 😀

Happy Monday! I’ll be out of work all week cause of the surgery, but I’ll be thinking of all you busy bees out there 🙂 Well, in-between Vicodin-induced naps. Snoooooooore.

Happy Easter! If any little ones pop up in 9 months we’ll all know Eostre was doing her job 😉

New Baby, Life, More Life

Big Brother and Little Sister at the Pumpkin Patch
Big Brother and Little Sister at the Pumpkin Patch

We have a new baby! She’s absolutely adorable. She was born shortly before my birthday on September 21st, 2011, at 1:25pm (she should’ve been born at 1:20pm but they made me wait before I could push. Don’t get me started on birthing stories — us moms have too many!). She was 7lbs 7oz, the same size as her brother was when he was born, and 22in, also the same as her brother. We named her Deia Georgia. Deia has a variety of meanings in other languages. Georgia means Farmer, which we hope keeps her down to earth. Her Maternal Gramma swears Deia means Goddess (Deity), but it actually means Expensive, Milkmaid, and a Small Coastal Village. Well really, there is a village on the coast of an island named Deiá (the village, not the island). We figure when she grows up she’ll be a well-paid Horticulturist of some sort in a village on a coast xD

Deia’s brother is absolutely fanatical over his little sister and is always trying to help with taking care of her. He’s slowly mastering the snap-buttons on her sleepers and onesies, and from time to time we let him “help” put a diaper on. His favorite thing is to talk to her and tell her all about the video game he’s playing. She stares, coos and smiles at him.

We’re slowly adjusting to having a baby in the house again. It seems that Mother Nature makes us forget how hard it was with our previous children so you have more children. Honestly, it does seem harder than I remember, but it’s so completely worth it for new baby snuggles and smells (NO, they don’t smell like dirty diapers).

In other news, I’m slowly making progress on a few projects for family while finding time to write. The oldest kiddo is turning out to be quite a story-teller himself, along with a knack for drawing. Part of his Christmas present included a drawing tablet for the Wii, which he loves playing. He’s finally getting upgraded to a Grown Up desk which will allow him to have his own computer (in a few years), as well as do homework somewhere other than where he eats.

Happily Holidays everyone, and have a wonderful and safe New Year! What are some of your resolutions? I’m contemplating actually having resolutions — there’s always a first time for everything, right?