July 29, 2011

Big Girl Panties

Oh, nice, Kim, that's much more professional. sigh

Well, we already established who I am in real life, haven't we? Big Girl Panties is a phrase I would totally use at work, so I'm using it here. I had a rough week. I had a rough couple of weeks. I took a dive.

I haven't written much of anything since my last blog post, in part because my head still wasn't in the right place. I needed to get this marketing/publicity/promotion stress dealt with first. I'm still working on that part, but at least I found my Big Girl Panties and started doing it!

I bought the eBook, Write It Forward by Bob Mayer. I've given myself a goal. I want 1000 people to read my novel in a year. That's a pretty low goal, but I intend on repeating that next year with a new novel, hopefully for several years. Also, as he points out, we need to revise our goals. Once I reach this one, I can make the next one bigger if I want.

Knowing that I'm ONLY trying to reach 1000 people drops my stress level. I'm hoping to reach a number of people in Medicine Hat with my signing (I have 18 copies to sell from the first batch of 50!). I'm hoping to get visit my old high school this fall and reach students there. I'm planning to beg and plead with my cousins to share my book with their friends, getting more readers that way.

If my tight core, my friends and close family, can each share the book with three people, I'll be thrilled. That'll take my 20-30 copies and reach 60-90 people. I don't know how my online sales are going (I should find out soon with quarterly numbers), but I'm hoping those readers will share my story with others as well.

Note: my goal isn't to sell 1000 copies. If I donate a copy to the library and it is checked out by 5 people, that's 5 reads toward my 1000! My goal isn't money, my goal is sharing my story, finding people who enjoy it. My goal is to make people think, give them a world and characters to escape with, and leave a very tiny stamp on their lives. My big goal, my big reason, I remembered while reading yesterday, is to be a blessing to others. That's what I want. That's why I write, to give those characters a voice and let them be an example or an escape for someone else.

I'm starting small. I'm not trying to make a living at this, I have a day job for that. I'm not trying to be famous, I think I'd hate it. I'm trying to be a blessing, one tiny ray of sunshine in someone's life, even if only for a few hours.

And what do I need to do to be that? My Big Girl Panties! yanks them up Urkel-style, giving herself a wedgie.

July 27, 2011


I am burnt. That will come as no surprise after my last blog post. Unlike my picture prompts (Yay for prompting!), I don't have a series of blog posts in the queue. Why? Because I don't know what this blog is about. I've subscribed to all sorts of blogs: reviews, interviews, tours, writing tips, reading tips, marketing tips, twitter tips, but none of that is what THIS blog is about.

I'm not an avid reader. I don't have a lot of time, so most of my reading comes in the form of beta reading/editing. I am committed to those pieces, so I read them. Would I read them otherwise? In the case of all but a few, no, never. So why don't I take books I like out of the library? Same reason. I get about a chapter in and think, "this isn't interesting enough for me to set the time aside." Or worse, three weeks go by, I get a notice from the library to return said book and I haven't even cracked the cover. Reviewing is definitely out.

I can't share what I beta read. That wouldn't be fair to the people I'm working with. I can't tear apart their work publically so you can see what I'm learning from the writing (like Janice Hardy does with emailed submissions).

Without direction or an audience, this blog is really pointless. Kinda like me. I'm sitting here, writing because I enjoy it, reading what I write because I enjoy doing that and can make small repairs, and keeping it all to myself. I have a publisher that I don't have any real beef with, but I can't sell stories. I can't sell me. It's obvious I don't know or even want to know how. I have too many other things to do:
like my day job — which is influencing the work in the oil sands; I have a really cool job that comes with its own fulfillment,
my family — they've been far too kind about my absences and constant irritability,
my home — you have NO idea how much cleaning I really need to do to this place; I shouldn't even be typing this.

Where does making a career as a writer fit in? Honestly, it doesn't. That's the problem. I can cry in the wilderness all I want, but there are bigger publishers, bigger authors, bigger blogs, and only those who have some sort of personal connection are going to give a rat's ass about what I write. It's come crashing down as I'm trying to figure out what I HAVE to do before I leave town. This blog post was one.

I committed to two posts a week. Wednesday and Saturday. Sometimes Saturday slides into Sunday, and I don't think that's a problem, but to be 'professional' I need a regular blog post.

Guess what. I'm not a professional.

My daughter is not home right now, and it's a very good thing because in the last twelve hours I've thrown no less than five tantrums worthy of a two year-old. My daughter is four. She'd think I'm acting like a big baby. And I am. And I want to. I don't want to do this. I don't want to feel like my nerves are being slowly spun and tightened until they are going to snap. I don't want to hear the screaming in my spine that sounds like my inner child dying. I don't want the crushing headaches that come from winding myself up so badly. I don't want to curl up on my bed and cry for an hour or two before getting the strength to try to knock one more thing off the list.

I have my first book signing in a little over a week. I'm going to dress up and put on makeup, which I almost never do, in an attempt to look 'professional.' It's a crock. In my day job, I'm a professional. As a writer, I'm just a lucky hack hobbyist and that's all I'm going to be.

July 25, 2011


I have completed my seventh 10+ hour day in the field. Over that time, I've broken my usual policy of writing/editing something everyday. Usually, I would write in the truck. Three out of those seven days I did, writing in my notebook. However, I've gotten very little written that way (700 words?). We have been SO late getting back to our rooms after dinner I haven't had time to call my family, so I haven't taken the time to open any files for transcrption (from notebook) or editting. I'm just too tired and well... brain-fried.

Have you ever worn a hard hat in the hot sun? It feels like your head is being slowly cooked and squeezed to press out any juices. It hasn't been like that everyday up here, in fact, there were only two really hot and sunny days. However, the feeling that my brain might have melted and be oozing out of my ear has been with me everyday.

Despite the punishing schedule, I have posted to my blog twice, written in my notebook on three occasions and participated in a writing workshop (fictionistaworkshop.com) which I would file under editing. So I probably only completely slacked two of those seven days. I'm looking forward to getting home and being on vacation so I can boost that word count and start really working on something.

Unfortunately, I'll only have a few days before I turn around and head to Medicine Hat for my sister's wedding. I'm happy to go to that!! but the heat down there is going to fry my brain further. Some zombie is getting a nice home-cooked meal, I'm telling you...

July 19, 2011

Beauty in Everything. aka Not Mosquitos

To clarify, I haven't found the beauty in mosquitoes, nor do I find them particularly ugly, but this post is not about mosquitoes as previously threatened.

It is about where I am right now, the oil sands of Alberta. If you've never been here, it's pretty hard to imagine. I'm not going to say impossible to describe because I consider myself a writer, so here I go, try to imagine...

Think of a desert. Sand endless running in beautiful dunes with the odd shrub clinging to its blowing soil. It's not like that.

Imagine a three year-old's sandbox. One filled with little cat turds and other feces with sand stuck to it. There... that's bitumen. Now imagine the three year-old with his scoop, shuffling out the sand into his pail. That's a wheel scoop dumping into a haul-truck. Then he lifts his bucket and it's actually a sieve; all the sand falls out - except the turd. It's stuck in the bottom of the bucket and he's grinning at his find. Yep, that's the extraction. Okay it's a LOT dirtier than that, but still, that's the 'gold' they're digging for. So now you have a black nugget, a pile of sand and a big hole. Yep, that's what it looks like. Oh, let's have the three year-old get some shiny metal toys... maybe they aren't really toys, they're his Dad's tools that he stuck in the background. Then kick up some wind to blow in front.... there, that's the extraction plant as the sand obscures it. Only there's a slightly smudgy smoke coming from the top of the one I see.

Wait! I forgot the water!! What kid doesn't have water in his sandbox? Yep he builds up a nice round basin and pours the water in. There's a settling pond. This pond is probably about a third of the sandbox. Maybe Dad helped him make it.

Sounds really aesthetically pleasing, doesn't it? Especially when you add that slightly oily film to the top of the water... oh yeah, beautiful.

But... there is beauty in odd places and times. There are the sandhill cranes that fly over and nest in the tailings sand. There is the sunrise reflected in that pool when it's completely still. There is sun reflecting off that plant in the distance when the wind isn't blowing, making it shine and sparkle.

The point of my post is beauty can be found anywhere. When writing a twisted mutant or alien, I'm going to give him a dash of debonair. When I describe the most ugly urban setting where the worst deeds are done, I'm going to give one spot of shine to it.

The opposite is also true. The hero is going to have a blemish that he tries to hide. The castle is going to have one room that has cracks in the walls or ceiling.

Just as, when I escape that completely destroyed and unmade landscape and go to somewhere virtually untouched, I will find a beer can or a shotgun shell. Nothing is perfect. Nothing is black or white. Everything has a touch of both. That's what makes it interesting.

July 16, 2011

From Rainy of the Dark: Blogging Etiquette

I'd like to welcome Rainy of the Dark. She is spinning out blog post to those of us with the blogs to host them. I really appreciate her visiting my tiny corner of the blogosphere and hope you will all check out her blog

Blogging Etiquette

While blogging tends to be a casual affair, there are certain guidelines which will make co-existing in the blogosphere that much easier. Simply keep these points in mind when dealing with other bloggers.

When allowed to guest post, at least offer a suggestion or two for a topic. As the writer, you should know what areas you're comfortable writing in, what ideas you have brewing, and what you have written about in the past. Go over to the host blog and see what type of topics are discussed and the average length of the posts. Ask the host about their audience.

Put at least as much effort into the guest post as you would with your own blog. Write properly, break paragraphs into approximately five sentences each, and make it easy to read. Be informative. A post all about your project, even if allowed, isn't as great as one with information useful to the audience.

Once the article is posted, check back often in the first week to reply any comments. Keep on topic with the comments and don't try to “sell” to the replies. This blog belongs to someone else. Respect that.

When it's done, offer the host to guest post on your own blog if possible. They may not accept, but it's a nice gesture. And if they do accept, then you have a chance to further network.

Blog rolling is also a great way to network, but certain etiquette apply there as well. When approaching someone to blog roll, check their current blog roll first to see who they have already added. Some blogs try to stick to a niche. Others might blog roll with only one type of blog, such as just author blogs or just book review blogs.

Don't be offended it they decline or don't reply at all. Many bloggers use their blog roll for blogs they normally follow, or they feel covers an angle that is useful to their audience. Sometimes your blog just isn't right for them. It's probably not anything personal.

When commenting on another blog, always be genuine. Have something useful to contribute. Bloggers are onto those who comment only to get a link to their own blog. Don't do it. Like it or not, it's a form of spamming and you will not make allies that way.

The next two tips are less to do with how to behave when visiting a blog, but how to behave outside of blogs.

If you participate in a blog, whether as a guest or a co-author, be sure to share the link to your post. Don't leave all the promotion work up to the host or other authors. You have a network. Share with them the other places you contribute. Remember, both guest posting and co-authoring is a collaborative promotional effort.

On a similar note, share interesting posts from other blogs, in general. Blogging is not a competition. People read many blogs, so there's no need to feel like you need to monopolize the time of your readers. Point them to other articles they might enjoy. They'll be grateful to you—and your blog—for helping them out. And other bloggers might feel inclined to help you out at some point too.

Blogging is a great way to network, but it can also be a great way to annoy people. Many times, this happens entirely by accident by those who don't know how it really works or why what they're doing isn't appreciated. Take steps to correct bad blogging habits and become a more functional member of the blogging community.

What other blogging etiquette tips would you add?

When Rainy isn't plotting world domination, she enjoys coaching others about it on her blog http://www.rainyofthedark.com She also likes fluffy kittens.

July 13, 2011

Up too Late

My daughter and I are sharing a problem these days. We're staying up too late. We're both hurting in the morning. It's a compounding problem. She is four. Her bedtime is eight. It used to be, we'd tuck her in bed at eight, read her a story for fifteen minutes, then she'd read to herself for another fifteen minutes, maybe a half hour, there'd be a round of water/potty/tuck/music box/what else can I get Mom and Dad to do, but she'd be asleep by Nine. No longer. I've tried getting her in bed at eight and she's resistant. When I convince her to do so, she's still reading/playing with stuffies at nine and nine-thirty.

So... maybe eight isn't working as a bedtime. I try doing story-time at eight-thirty, quarter to nine, she plays/reads and should still be getting to sleep around nine, quarter after nine. Nope. She's staying up until ten, ten-thirty. This is a problem. That's MY bedtime. I used to ritualistically shut things down at ten-thirty, give myself ten to twenty minutes in bed to unwind with a game or a book and then konk well before eleven. Now, at ten thirty, I'm still getting, "will you tuck me in?"

Have you read/heard Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach? There is a man who knows what I'm talking about. Now I'm staying up later, missing my usual one or two hours of quiet writing time (which is now filled with story and multiple request hour) so I'm staying up later to try to finish what I've set for myself to do. Like this blog post. I should have written this earlier today, or a little later, once Delilah is in bed. Except I know I'm not going to get that hour.

Daughter stays up later, not going to sleep.
Mom stays up later trying to get stuff done.
Dad stays up later waiting for Mom to come to bed.
No one wakes up well or on time in the morning.

Last week was a vacation week. I let Delilah stay up later. I encouraged her to stay up as late as she liked and woke her up relatively early. My plan was to have her exhausted and ready to go to sleep Sunday night for dayhome. Well, that part worked - Monday wasn't too bad. Monday night was not good. Last night was bad. Tonight... I'm writing my blog post in anticipation of another hour of story/multiple requests.

What is the moral of my story? Please tell me... I'm a little sleep deprived and think I missed it.

Oh, right. Make a schedule. Stick to a schedule. Don't let the schedule go. Some kids cannot live without a schedule. Mine isn't one of those, she's pretty flexible, but in general all kids do better ON a schedule.

My writing has gone off schedule. My book released when I wasn't quite expecting it. There are aspects that are still not quite running properly (namely it's not in the major bookstore here). I'm wanting to set up some sort of promotion, but summer is a terrible time. I'm trying to write too many things in too many directions. I'm overwhelmed. Why? Because I went off the schedule.

Now. It's twenty minutes past Delilah's bedtime. That's a lot closer to on schedule. Tomorrow, I have work, so I won't be doing writing, but I do have a couple small tasks set for lunch/coffee breaks (emailing, calling, ordering). Tomorrow night, I'm making a schedule.

It may or may not include a new serial which I hope to eventually update weekly. I used to post fanfiction chapters twice a week. I'd love to get back up to that speed again, but with the publishing details taking up so much of my 'writing' time, it's not going to happen.

Finally, I'm going to get a guest in.

Yep, that's me, making room in the schedule. Saturday, Rainy's post will be here in place of mine. Then, on Wednesday, I'll be back, from Fort McMurray, with a blog post. It might be about mosquitos - we'll see how bad they are.

July 11, 2011

End of Vacation

You probably wouldn't know it, but I was on vacation this past week. We didn't go anywhere, and Delilah was in dayhome for Monday - Wednesday, but we were on vacation. Allen and I got a lot done around the house, our patio has furniture, burnt out light bulbs were replaced, Allen got a new side bar to rearrange his desk (the shelves are Ivar - I love Ikea) and actual chairs for our sitting room. We repaired a leak in the eavestroughing and enjoyed the ability to lounge in bed and be a married couple without kid for a few hours a day.

Thursday, the fun began. We took Delilah to enjoy some of our favourite things around Edmonton, many of which she'd never seen before, Fort Edmonton, a U-pick farm for Strawberries, Jurassic Forest. (Okay, sadly we didn't get to do that last one. We went to Morinville to meet up with Grandma and Grandpa and the wind and rain were way too much to endure.)

Things started falling down on the weekend. I hadn't been sleeping very well and woke up Sunday exhausted. I'd spent all of Saturday running from one thing to the next, stayed up too late with a little girl who wouldn't sleep, and woke feeling like my head was stuffed with cotton. I could breathe fine, but my brain just refused to fire. We had plans to take Delilah to see Cars 2 as the weather was still less than fabulous, but got there late and the show sold out. We made it up to her by letting her pick out a movie to buy (Finding Nemo as it turned out, so Pixar still gets their money ;) then absconded to my office, leaving Daddy to deal with daughter while I tried to get my head functional and some of the many things I wanted to do done.

Sadly, it wasn't work on a publishable manuscript, sorry. There's a new contest in the Twilight fandom called The Canon Tour. To those of you familiar with fanfiction, but not with Twilight fanfiction, this might seem a little odd. In almost any other 'verse, writers keep to the rules. If you want to tell a story about Inara from Firefly, you talk about the Companion house and lifestyle, you don't stick her in the porn industry of LA. If you write Harry Potter fanfiction, you don't put him in an american High School, he's still a wizard at Hogwarts. Well, Twilight Fanfiction writers, apparently, never got that memo. They make the vampires human, change their ages and give them careers, pair them up with anyone they like... I'm not saying it's a bad thing. With the sheer VOLUME of Twilight fanfiction out there, I think it would exhaust the pieces Stephenie Meyer left them to play with (on the other hand, there is a LOT of HP fanfiction...).

Regardless! My point is that not all or even the majority of Twilight Fanfiction includes Vampires and Werewolves that follow the characteristics Meyer gave them. So one brave woman opened a contest to bring more of them to the forefront.

I have written approximately six pieces of fanfiction that are AH (all human, completely disregarding the story as established in the books). For reference, that's about 10% of my fanfiction, a little less. I got into fanfiction to write the scenes and stories that only got brief mention in the books, to explore alternate scenarios where someone made a different choice. To me, that was what fanfiction was for and so that's what I wrote. When I saw the contest, I wanted to support it. I didn't expect to get completely sidetracked by the story I chose. Full possession by the characters. 11K in two days. Yeesh. At least I'd already gotten a few hundred words of Cargon's sequel written at the in-laws'.

Speaking of Cargon, and finally bringing my post back to the big news. Signed copies are now available! Go ahead and buy me out. I'll order more! :D

PS: I need a beta for that piece if anyone is willing or interested. Thanks!

Now, Monday not only means the end of vacation, but that I NEED to get to work. *sigh*

July 6, 2011

Can't Get It Right

I blame my ignorance, but only have myself to blame for not getting the information I needed. Throughout my publishing process I've been timid, reluctant. When I was offered a contract, I didn't say anything until the contract arrived, afraid of jinxing it. When I had a contract, I didn't have a release date, and that was everyone's favourite question to ask. Now I have a 'partial' release. The book is available, but it hasn't passed through the distributor. Also, I haven't gotten my end up and running so I can sell signed copies from home.
I have set up facebook pages for my book and myself, but have stumbled in trying to make them anything more than the templates provide. Several people have helped me spread the word through twitter, but I've had to back off major announcements while I wait for availability. I'm left wishing I hadn't said anything to anyone. Maybe I should have just waited until September and started everything then, when the book was well and truly released, when it was available everywhere, I hope, when I could have put together things to help launch it.
That latter, I have nothing. Am I just unimaginative? I look at book videos and merchandise and think, what can I do like that? And nothing comes to mind. Perhaps it's me. I think, "book." As a consumer, that's all I'm looking for, the book. I have this blog, but it's more about me than about my book. (Although, as you might have noticed, a lot of my time and attention is going to writing.)
Overall, I think I get an F in self-promotion. I can't get it right. I can tell my friends and family, and get pats on the back, but I just can't roll this ball. There are lots of resources out there. I've read blogs, but I'll admit to being overly-frugal and not buying the books that would help me. See, my own fault. I also suffer from a lack of desire. I don't want to sell me. I don't even really want to sell my book. I want to share my book. I want people to know that there's this really cool story out there about a girl who plays her way into a better life that isn't a better life. I don't want to cram it down people's throats. I don't want to stand on a soapbox and shout until I'm hoarse. I don't want to be gimmicky or kitchy or anything like that. I wrote a book. I want people to enjoy it.
I just can't get it right.

July 4, 2011

Keeping Up To Date

I need to stay in the habit of posting on my blog! I don't have a lot of news from my end of the world. I just started a week of vacation to be spent at home. That's very good as today I woke up feeling like my head had been put through a grinder. I'm still not feeling up to snuff, but I'm out of bed, Yay!

Someone who does have a bunch of news is Jennifer Barry. Her book Side Effects has a cover and a video! Click that link for her blog and check them out.

We're one step closer to having signed copies of Cargon available for sale. Allen has the PayPal link all set up on my basic homepage. Unfortunately it is not including the cost of shipping. So, for now, I have the basic addition for shipping in Canada and the US for single copies. However, because international customers just get the Canadian rate... I've had to take the button down again. If you plan on ordering more than one or live somewhere outside North America, please email me and let me know (kimmydonn@gmail.com). I'll figure something out. In the meantime, we'll try to get this thing working. It seems American PayPal customers get a nice built-in shipping calculator, but Canucks have to flat-rate it, and we'd have to do that for each currency... it's looking like a mess really. We're unimpressed. Anyone with experience selling and shipping through Paypal who does NOT live in the US, I'd love to hear from you. Comments or email.

My daughter is feeling independent. Ideal for Independence and Dominion days (that's Canada day, for those who didn't know), but not ideal for parents who just want her to go to sleep, or eat her supper, or clean up her toys. We've had more than one blow out this weekend where she was 'asked' to go to her room and think about what she'd said/done. Yay for four year-olds! Big enough to think for themselves, but too small to let them run wild and learn from their own mistakes. Oh, trust me, she learning some from mistakes, but not the 'I'm going to run away from mom and dad into the street' kind. Fine line.

Okay, off to start puzzling out shipping rates.