Archive for the Writing Category

Adventures in Book Promotion Day 3 (Part II): Which Ends in Vetting Indie Kidlit

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2017 by Jessica Crichton

Well, that was fun.

It looks like I may have to make a new pen name under the same profile on Amazon, though I don’t know if that will remove the old name or if I even can. Trying to research it is kind of a nightmare too. Nothing comes up about it at all that I can find.

In the end, I just emailed them. It’ll probably be answered after Christmas.

For now, I updated my RSS feed from here (so this should show up there now too — hi Amazon!) and will be doing little tweaks here and there. One thing I DO know is, I’m glad I’m doing this now instead of right before the third book is finished!

Speaking of doing things ahead of time, after emailing Amazon my spaz brain kicked in again and I started looking into reviews.

Ahhh! Another big knot!

There are so many review sites out there, and so many reviews OF the reviews that my brain is spinning just trying to untie it all. Kirkus seems safe, but I still need to look into just how much good they do indie authors, as I’ve seen many differing views on it, plus it’s expensive at between $425 and $575 a pop.   There’s also my whole “kidlit author” thing, which makes it more complicated as many reviewers don’t review children’s books at all, and often those that do only review trade published titles. I have gotten a great review of “Dr. Fixit” from Erik at This Kid Reviews Books and I would love to get more specifically for kidlit that actually take indie books.

One issue I keep running into time and time again is the fact that children’s books are SERIOUSLY hard to get accepted by libraries, bookstores, schools, and, as you see, even review sites. Now, I understand. I do. Everyone wants to make sure the books children read are vetted to be safe for them. I get it, and I wholeheartedly agree. That said, there’s got to be a better vetting system than trade publication. There are literally hundreds of thousands of books that are great for kids, that would help them learn, grow, and see the world in a billion better ways, that never get trade published simply because the big houses (and even the small presses) don’t have enough time and resources to devote to them, so they have to reject them. What if a group of teachers, scholars, and established children’s writers and editors got together to create a solid, dependable vetting system for indie kidlit, to keep parents happy AND let kidlit authors reach our readers?

Well… I just went off on a tangent, and I’m almost off work so I have to go. Just… think about it. If you know of any system in place, or you like / hate the idea, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow!

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Adventures in Book Promotion Day 3 (Part I): Amazonian Knots

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2017 by Jessica Crichton

Sooo… Amazon.

These days, it seems self-publishing is only really doable with the help of the online bookselling monolith. In some ways that’s great! Having their help with everything from sales presence to the creation of the actual, physical book is a BIG help! But in other ways… it can feel like a worse knot than Piper’s Rapunzel (self-promotion-within-self-promotion FTW!)

If you clicked the first link here, you saw that I have a little work to do cleaning up my profile before the big “Guts and Glory” push. My bio is a bit dated, for one, and my name is certainly outdated. The covers are the latest covers (which to be honest surprised me), but that will be changing soon as well (SQUEE!) Last I checked, which to be honest was far too long ago, there were three different versions of “Dr. Fixit” on Amazon. Now, there’s only the latest one on my author page (paperback vs. ebook notwithstanding), and when I do a search it’s the same (WHEW!) so that’s nice to see. Unfortunately now I have another version I’ll be updating onto the site, so I’m a bit worried about confusion there…

I have really two choices here, as far as I can see:

  • Begin a whole new profile on Createspace (Amazon’s self-publishing platform) under Jessica Crichton as opposed to Jessica Rising.
  • Rework my current Createspace profile to update everything.

There are pros and cons to both of these choices. For the former, obviously starting a whole new profile would make it clean and crisp from the gate, which is always nice. Plus, a quick Amazon search for “Jessica Crichton” turns up nothing except a link to Michael Crichton, which would be a great little bit of inner-site promotion even if his books are very different than mine. However, it would leave the Jessica Rising profile out there in stasis, including two different versions of “Dr. Fixit” and “Zombies” on the Amazon site, which could get really confusing really fast. Confusion is the LAST thing I want on my readers’ minds! The latter would take more work and probably frustration (Amazon isn’t known for being that user-friendly to indie writers) plus I’d worry I’d miss some bit of something and end up with a little mess leftover in the end, but it would bypass that whole doubling up thing, and I already have a years-long presence on Amazon there, including reviews I don’t want to lose. (Which, if you’re a writer, you know is seriously important!)

Hmmm… I think I’m going to try the latter and see how it goes. The reviews are certainly worth the extra work, though I still worry about missing loose ends.

Stay tuned: this particular post is going to have a Part II soon!

 

Adventures in Book Promotion Day (kindaSorta) 2: Budgets!

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2017 by Jessica Crichton

Okay, so this isn’t the day after my last post. Remember what I said about not having a computer at home? These posts will not be daily until I do, sadly, but I will write one every day I am able!

So today I’m thinking about the budget for my big February push. I want to spend about $2500 on it altogether, and while that’s a big number for me, it’s pretty minuscule as far as promotion budgets go.  For that reason (and for the fact that my money tends to disappear without a trace whenever I get it), I have to be REALLY careful that everything I invest in will be effective in making my “Guts and Glory” trilogy a success.

That takes research.

  • I’ve already chosen my amazing artist, Jessica Douglas, for the covers. I won’t tell you the price we agreed on, but it’s definitely more than worth it!
  • I don’t know if I’ll be doing inside illustrations. I’d like to, but I’m still thinking on that one.
  • Business cards will be important, as I find myself talking about writing everywhere I go and having those babies to hand out would be gold.
  • I’m also spending some on Facebook promotion, despite the bad press it sometimes gets, because I have seen it in action when it works. (“Tipani” would have a lot fewer views on Wattpad if not for those!) I’m still researching the best way to go about that, and the amount of money to throw at it.
  • I’m also looking into promotion companies. These are the hardest to research, and will take the biggest chunk of my budget, so if you have any suggestions for those, I’d love to hear them! That will be a serious choice I really want to think about hard before I make it.

A few miscellaneous thoughts to add:

  • Can I do a boxed set? Should I? How would I go about that?
  • Can I release a limited edition hardback set? How would I go about that too?
  • Press releases and review copies: how do I do THAT as a self-published author of kidlit? Is it kosher for them to charge for these services? Who is real and who is a scammer? And which real ones will actually take self-published books?

Sooo many things to still think about that do! How do I prioritize? How do I make the most of my little budget? How do I not ROYALLY SCREW THIS UP?

*Deep, calming breaths.*

I CAN do this…

A New Journey: Adventures in Book Promotion Day 1

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2017 by Jessica Crichton

I have some confessions to make:

  1. I am a consummate procrastinator.
  2. If there’s an easy way to do it, I’ll tend to choose that route.
  3. I am made of 90% Hope and 10% Do.

As a writer, you can imagine where that’s gotten me in my career. A whole lotta nowhere. If you have followed me on here, read my books, and/or otherwise support(ed) me, let me say right off the bat that I SOOO appreciate you! I don’t think you’re nothing.

Please don’t leave.

That said I, like most writers, would very much like to do this whole writing thing full time, and at the moment, thanks to the above conglomerate of craptastic characteristics, I can’t. I can’t even come close. So here and now, I have another confession to make:

  • I want to change all of it.

Due to our *wonderful* current administration, it’s quite possible that this will be the last year I get a decent tax return (or one at all). As such, I’ve decided to invest a large portion of it in my future and my career. (If you’re thinking, “well it’s about time”, may I kindly refer you to #1 above?) However, money isn’t going to be all I need to kick-jump my lifelong career aspirations. I’ll also need stamina, tenacity, focus, drive, motivation, moxie, energy, time, self-discipline, and lots of other physical tools and personality traits I have never really though of myself possessing.

This is KINDA scary, folks!

My plan is to release “Guts and Glory” as a full, complete trilogy in mid-February, to great fanfare and angelic choirs and all that, but my work is starting NOW to make it all happen. I have found I need to do the following ASAP:

  • Commission new, professional-level covers of awesome eye-catchingness: DONE! Jessica FREAKING Douglas herself will be redoing the covers for me, and she is AMAZING! I’m SO psyched about this I can barely contain my pee! Check out her work here. SQUEEE!
  • WRITE AND EDIT BOOK 3: In the Works. See below for details.
  • Research book promotion companies and steps: Working on it!
  • Plan a solid, manageable, and effective promotion and writing/editing schedule between now and February 15th: Not yet started, but will soon!

It goes without saying that I will be updating this blog as well, hopefully on a day-to-day basis, as it will be my Central Hub of Writingness through it all, as blogs are wont to be. I do have ONE little issue impeding me, which I hope to fix soon, and that’s the fact that I have no computer at home. (I’m writing this on my break at work. Heh.) But I have hope that will be fixed soon, as the Universe will provide.

Thank you all for your support and love. I have felt it over the years, and now it is carrying me through this HUGE step. I will keep you all updated! I love you!

Postscript: (yeah, that’s what P.S. stands for) It just occurred to me the time of year in which I’m writing this. Honestly, I didn’t even consider this a New Years Resolution, and even after realizing the date, I still won’t. Those are notorious for failing. I won’t fail.

Send Coffee

Posted in Writing on October 21, 2017 by Jessica Crichton

Words

come slow.

Like Advantage, Threat, and

Hope.

I sit and shiver.

Inside.

Outside it is colder,

darker.

But I am tired.

And I shiver.

Words

come slow.

Inspiration.

Slower.

But still I sit,

shivering out the words

that will come.

Finding Me

Posted in Mental Health, Writing with tags , , , , , , on October 19, 2017 by Jessica Crichton

Today, I’m thinking about paying it back.

Over the course of the last year, I have had some wonderful friends step up and help me out WAYYYY more than I ever wanted to need. Oftentimes this help came in the form of money, especially when I lost my job back in March. (Did I forget that part yesterday? Yeah… it was pretty easy to believe I’d lost every ounce of good luck I ever had for a while there!) I spent a great deal of time feeling guilty for that, and trying to figure out how to pay them back. For me, money was the only way to repay money, and I had none, so you can imagine how frustrating it became. A vicious cycle of feeling not good enough. One wonderful friend even made me promise NOT to pay her back. “I don’t want this to become a burden on our friendship,” she’d said. I’d appreciated that at the time, but didn’t understand how my presence in her life was at all beneficial to her – or anyone else, for that matter. In the darkest times, while I never considered suicide (because I refused to put my kids through that) I did seriously consider removing myself from everyone’s life for their own good. After all, the only thing I ever seemed to do anymore was take. I desperately wanted to give, but I literally had nothing to offer. For a long while, I didn’t even have the emotional energy to be there for them when they needed to talk about their own lives for once.

So why did my friends still want to be my friends?

Coming out of the dark has been a slow processes, but one big step up in it was finally landing a great, stable job with benefits in July. I now have an income again, but I’m still struggling a bit to get stabilized from the financial blast effect. For that reason I still can’t pay my friends back in money.

But if there’s anything I have learned this past year, it’s that money isn’t the most important thing in life.

Finding myself again has meant a lot of inner contemplation, meditation, therapy, and other hefty mental and emotional exercise. All to answer a question that some find easy to solve, but far too many struggle with:

What is GOOD about me?

I have always been GREAT at self-deprecation. Nobody has been better at owning my flaws than me. Even when I was shown this past year just how awful those flaws can be, while it was hard to see, it was soooo easy to accept. After all, I’d spent my whole life practicing the art of self-abuse. Self-hatred was only a natural next step in that processes.

And I have never hated myself more than I have this past year.

Healing doesn’t happen when you keep ripping off the scabs. Reliving my flaws every day, hating myself more and more, I could barely breathe, let alone heal. But for a long time I didn’t think I even had the right to. And that’s where any kind of hope to do so ended. In order to even begin healing, I had to learn to believe I deserved it, and I just didn’t have that in me. My self-hatred was so strong that I literally couldn’t come up with anything positive to say about myself without automatically adding a million “buts” and negative caveats to it.

I couldn’t SEE myself.

But my friends could.

Why did they keep helping me when all I deserved was pain? Why did they stay in my life when all I could give them was a burden? If I was such a terrible person, why did they still care about me?

Knowing the answer, I realized, was VITAL in finding a way to even begin crawling out of that terrible black hole.

And so I asked them. Sometimes on Facebook, sometimes in person, but never just once. I didn’t believe the answers. I desperately wanted to, but just… couldn’t. So I kept asking. It was almost a desperation, and not at all logical. Some people got tired of it, and more than a few unfriended and even blocked me. Many stated that I was needy, overly emotional, and shared too many personal things. Others never would be able to answer at all. My first ex, and father of my children, asked me “do you even HAVE friends anymore?” (I still don’t blame him for that, but to understand why you have to know details, and I won’t be giving any.)

But there were a few very special, wonderful friends who refused to give up on me. They answered my questions every time, always with the same answer, though sometimes stated differently.

Why did they keep helping me when all I deserved was pain?

Because I helped them in the past.

Why did they stay in my life when all I could give them was a burden?

Because I deserved friends and light in my life.

If I was such a terrible person, why did they still care about me?

Because I wasn’t a terrible person at all. Because I was a good person, and they loved me for me.

After a while, the questions and answers turned into conversations. They reminded me of things I did for them in the past: Listening to them when they needed me. Giving them food or helping them clean their homes, or teaching them things. Even being a source of inspiration as a writer and – and this was the hardest to accept – as a mother. Most of these things I had entirely forgotten about. I was good at remembering every terrible thing I had thought, done, and felt, but terrible at remembering anything good. My friends were my memory, and they helped me begin to see myself as a whole human again.

In the end, though, it was one of my children who finally broke through and let the full, glorious light in, by showing me a video he said he thought I needed to see. You can find it here, but warning: it may trigger some deep pain if you have ever hated yourself. That said, it is mighty in the healing department too. It’s funny though; I didn’t cry until my son turned to me and said, “Don’t listen to the demon, Mom.” Then everything came pouring out, and my children held me as I cried.

Even now, writing that brings tears. But they are good tears. Healing tears.

I’m still pulling myself out of the shadows. Some days they overwhelm me, even now. But my friends, and my children, have shown me how I not only CAN pay them back, but how I have paid them forward in the past. Not with money, but with the Me I forgot I was. The Me they reminded me of.

And you know what? I kinda like her, too.

I’m Writing Again

Posted in Books, Healing, hope, Mental Health, muse, writer's block, Writing on October 18, 2017 by Jessica Crichton

Hi.

It’s been a long year.

I just checked for the exact date of my last post. It was October 13th of last year. Three weeks later, on October 30th 2016, my life came to a violent, screeching halt.

I won’t go into details, as some of them are extremely personal and involve others whose privacy is vital. I WILL say that I am just now starting to write again, after two emergency moves, a messy divorce, and more personal and familial trauma than I’ve ever experienced in my life. I learned a lot about myself in this past year, and not all of it was pretty to see. In fact, most of it was just plain ugly. Falcor the Luck Dragon said of looking into the Magic Mirror Gate, “That won’t be too hard…” and for a long time I agreed with him. That’s because I’d never gazed at it myself. Now I understand Engywook’s reply to Falcor far better: “Oh, that’s what everyone thinks! But kind people find out that they are cruel. Brave men discover that they are really cowards! Confronted by their true selves, most men run away screaming!”

It’s also not just a glance. Looking into that Mirror can take days, weeks, months…

…or a year.

My last post was a good one. I was proud of it. I was also proud of “Tipani Walker and the Nightmare Knot” which I finished around that same time. I was writing a lot back then, but while writing can be highly therapeutic, I couldn’t bring myself to write after… everything happened. Instead, for the past 6 months I have been in traditional mental therapy, a course I just recently completed. And while I know the healing processes will most likely be lifelong, I’m finally beginning to feel confident and hopeful enough to at least begin writing again.

Thus, I am writing to you.

I haven’t written any fiction yet, though I’ve been getting ideas again which is SO nice. But I felt the need to dust off my blog and begin writing here again at least. To jump start something that used to bring me so much joy. To find that joy again. To be perfectly honest, I’m 100% sure that my fiction will be different now, and while I hope that means it will be better (what better for literary depth than a little real-life author trauma, right?) I am afraid to see it. My mind is different now. My soul has changed. I know that, and I have hope that it’s a change for the better, but I fear that actually writing will force me to look into the Mirror again to see who I have truly become, and I’m far from as confident in my reflection than I was the first time I looked.

This is a sort of ramble. For that I apologize. But it’s good.

I’m writing again.

John M. Cusick

Write. Represent.

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