Category Archives: Not Dead Yet!

Three Things Thursday: Writing Edition

  1. I finished my draft of The Ruby Blade and sent it off to my readers. I haven’t gotten any feedback yet, which means that (a) 3 days isn’t enough time to read/process/give feedback especially when they all have lives to live and jobs to go to, or – and this is more likely (b) it’s terrible and they hate it and don’t know how to tell me.
  2. I had a post planned for today about the realities of being an indie published author – particularly one who’s only been published for less than six months. I was going to talk about ROI and how it’s expensive to publish and how I’m not an overnight millionaire just because I have two books that you can (and should, right now) buy on Amazon.
  3. There’s a lot of talk about Kindle Unlimited, and a lot of authors I know are pulling their stuff from KU because we get paid per page read, and that amount keeps dropping. The pay rate for KU pages in July is $0.0040. If someone picks up The Waning Moon and finishes it, I still get less money than if they’d bought the book. I mean, I know it’s a good deal for readers. $9.99/month for unlimited reading. But it’s becoming a worse and worse deal for authors. Mine will stay in KU for now, and I’ll probably go exclusively with Amazon for books three and four (hey you! my one B&N reader! no worries…I’ve got you covered), but I’m less and less certain as each month brings a drop in the page rate and no discernible difference in the way that books gaming the system are handled (which is not at all, currently).

 

Writerly Wednesday: Author Musings

When one is starting to put themselves out there as an author, there’s a lot of advice, but one thing that I was told over and over was to not talk about politics or religion or I’d risk alienating readers. I did my best. Kind of. I filtered my Facebook so that any political stuff was only for people I consider friends. I didn’t blog about it (much), and I tried to stay as inoffensive as possible. But you know what? Fuck that shit. I am inherently political – if you define political as someone who is 100% anti-Nazi (which c’mon people? WHY IS THIS A DEBATE?). I am against the marginalization of people based on their religion, ethnicity, skin color, sexual orientation (or lack thereof), or gender identity. If that means that you won’t read my books? Fine. I don’t think you’d like them anyway. I have diverse characters with various skin colors, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and gender identities. My main character is feminist as fuck, as is the secondary female character (she’s actually way more feminist than Eleanor). If you are okay with that in a fantasy book but not in real life, then you’re part of the problem and you need to step back and examine your soul, because it is seriously lacking.

The sheer volume of discompassion (it is a word; a word I just made up, apparently) (I can do that because I’m a writer) I’ve seen in the last few days is mind-boggling and heart-breaking. If someone tells you they’re hurt, do you poke their injury and tell them it’s not that big of a deal because you’ve seen worse? No you fucking do not.

But that’s what I’m seeing. People saying that literal Nazis marching in the streets is like a physical assault are dismissed with “they have the constitutional right to march” and “Black Lives Matter is just the same as a group that says black lives don’t.”

If you honestly can’t see the difference between a group that was organized to draw attention to the disproportionate amount of police brutality perpetuated against people of color and groups that willingly associate themselves with a people who were responsible for the Holocaust in WWII and countless violent crimes against people of color, then you’re part of the fucking problem.

(And, as an aside, Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean ONLY black lives. I can’t believe we’re still having to explain this.) (Also, unless you have achromatopsia, never say “I don’t see color.” YES YOU FUCKING DO.)

I recognize that I am incredibly privileged. Probably the only visible thing about me that would result in a dip in privilege points is that I’m a woman. But I’m white. Middle class. Cis-gendered. Heterosexual. (I’m also constantly in a fight with mental illness, but I’m usually winning…not sure that’ll matter when they come for the crazies, though.) (Oh, and a pretty avowed atheist, although I’d be willing to worship the old gods if they did me a favor involving several bolts of carefully aimed lightning. Call me Zeus & Thor!)

My privilege is such that if I stay silent in the face of what’s going in the world right now – if I sit back and watch events unfold as the president of our country fails to condemn motherfucking Nazis – then I am culpable. And you know what? So are you. And every single person who’s never had to fear for their lives because of their gender identity, who’s never wondered if they’d have gotten a job if their name had been Cody, who hasn’t gone to their place of worship only to find swastikas drawn on it, who hasn’t wondered if their headwear will get them kicked off a flight. (BTW: Privilege doesn’t mean nothing bad has ever happened to you. It means that you, by virtue of your skin color, gender, sexuality, etc. got a bit of a head start. White privilege doesn’t mean you always win. I can’t believe we still have to explain that.)

I’m still figuring out how to use my privilege to the max. I’ve set up a recurring donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center. I will continue to call out bullshit (although I will also continue to try to not read the comments, because I can’t spend my whole life arguing with internet trolls) when I see it.

Don’t fool yourself – this is our America. This is our legacy. We have a lot of amazing things in our history, but there are so many dark things that America has done. And you don’t get to simultaneously revere a confederate war memorial and demand that black people get over slavery (because you clearly haven’t). You don’t get to claim that immigrants are destroying our country and turn around and demand that Native Americans stop fighting for water rights upstream of their reservation. You don’t get to say that there is no difference between a statue of general leading a war to keep slavery and a holocaust memorial to remember the names of those who died because of racism. If you can’t see the difference between the Statue of Liberty and the confederate flag (“they’re both history,” you say), then you have a deeply flawed judgment system. The devil doesn’t need any more fucking advocates. Nazis and people who are anti-Nazi are not the same. Free speech doesn’t mean free from consequence.

And if you got to the end of this 1000 word essay and are mad at me, then that’s fine. GTFO. My world doesn’t have room for Nazis and their apologists. I don’t want to associate with people who are okay with murdering groups of people because they’re African-American, Jewish, Hispanic, gay, Native American, Muslim, trans, or disabled. If you won’t come out and condemn the kind of rhetoric that’s emboldened so many cockroaches to crawl out of the woodwork and spew their hatred, then you are complicit and this is on you.

 

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Hashtag Blessed

 

I was nervous all day. I tried to convince my author group that I was probably going to die. (Spoiler: I did not die.)

The Beer Guy and I sat at home and had dinner before heading on over to the bookstore, and I spent the last 30 minutes before we left bouncing around our home, trying to practice reading without hyperventilating, and freaking out about the possibility that I would mispronounce “geas.” (My PSM’s sage advice: “It’s not ever really used so no one will know.” She also helped me figure out how to correctly pronounce it, because she is aces.)

My other pre-reading activity:

A glass of white while practicing reading.

At one point, it occurred to me that I read aloud almost every evening. Sure, maybe it’s to my five-year-old, but that counts, right? I decided to pretend I was reading to a bunch of children, and that actually really helped.

The Beer Guy and I got to the bookstore about 20 minutes before I was due to go on, and Elisa, who is one of the nicest humans in the world, helped me get set up and gave me more wine (and a bottle of water) to calm myself.

MY BOOKS! ON DISPLAY!

The room filled up with friends (thank you all so much), Elisa introduced me, and then it was go time. I’d picked out three selections. One from The Cardinal Gate to introduce Eleanor, and two from The Waning Moon.

It wasn’t until about 30 seconds into my reading that I realized that Eleanor swears like a motherfucking sailor. I mean, I knew she wasn’t avoiding the cursing, but until I had to read out loud in front of a roomful of people, I had no idea how many times she says fuck on a single page.

This is my “what? another motherfucking swear word?” face

I think it went well. I tripped over a couple words (but not geas!), but everyone laughed when they were supposed to laugh and no one fell asleep or wandered off. After I was done reading, there were questions. A fair few! And good questions!

My captive audience mingling while I was signing…

And then it was time for signing. I signed a dozen or so books, got to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in a while, and apparently had a great time.

A few of us headed down the street to celebrate me surviving my first public reading with pink champagne (courtesy The Beer Guy, who really knows me well), snacks, and excellent conversation. The five people who joined me are five of my favorite Portlanders (I have ten favorite Portlanders…only half could make it), and it was so nice to see them all together.

A regret I often have is that I don’t take enough pics of my friends when we gather together…

It was an amazing evening, and I’m so glad I did it! I am so lucky to have so many wonderful friends who gave up their time and money to come listen, ask questions, buy books, and spend time celebrating with me. One friend brought me the perfect tote bag:

So appropriate, because my uterus hates me AND my author group has termed itself the “illuterati”

My friend and fellow illuterati author Mel Sterling brought me flowers, gave me amazing advice, took some nice photos, and asked good questions.

At the end of last evening, I posted this on my Facebook author page:

And for everyone who insisted on photos and video – you have The Beer Guy to thank for that. He’s the one who uploaded everything to FB last night. He also calmed me down, carried all the heavy books, made the reservations for the post-signing drinks, and procured the bottle of champagne. There is no way I could’ve done any of this without him. I really am #blessedAF

Three Things Thursday: Keeping it Real Edition

  1. I know I owe you a review of The Silent. And I want to give it to you. But the last week has been a rough one for Amy-kind. I was felled with some kind of likely migraine issues last Thursday, and then have had various levels of horrific cramps over the past few days. Hunter deserves more than a half-assed review written when I couldn’t think straight. If you’re desperate for a great review and don’t feel like waiting around until I can pull myself together, check out my PSM’s.
  2. I am (with the exception of yesterday) making excellent progress on my rewrites of The Ruby Blade. I am hoping to finish up in the next week to ten days. Rewriting is ever so much harder than writing, because I have to make sure additions make sense within the story, and add rather than detract. There are a couple new characters in The Ruby Blade, and I hope you love them as much as I do. There’s also a lot more Raj, and he is even more morally ambiguous than I was expecting him to be. Still hot AF, though.
  3. Did I mention the cramps? Yeah. This month has not been good. I was a wreck last night. There may have been tears. And sobbing. And the inability to walk properly due to pain. Today, I feel like I was in a fight or something (on top of the only slightly less awful cramps I have today) because my body aches all over from the aftermath of the full-body cramps I had last night. Since I can’t take vicodin at work (or drink a bottle of wine at my desk), I’m thinking a combo of reiki and essential oils might be my only hope. Maybe also coconut oil, although I’m not sure of the proper application. (Please don’t chime in with advice on pain management…trust me, I’ve probably tried it, or considered it and dismissed it for legitimate reasons.) (The no assvice thing goes double for the non-uterus havers.)

 

Have a great rest of the week and fantabulous weekend. If you don’t hear from me again, it’s probably because the entire Pacific Northwest melted, thus saving me from further pain.

Motivation Monday

Today is a very high-anxiety day. Chest-crushing anxiety. (I don’t know why. That happens a lot.)

Thanks to last week, in which I hit 85% of my exercise goals, I know the proper ways to start treating this anxiety.

I have my swim stuff in my bag (and, unlike last week, I packed a comb, flip flops, am charging my swim watch, and brought my goggles instead of the Bean’s). Tomorrow, I will run. Wednesday, I will yoga. Thursday, I will run. Friday, I will swim. And Saturday, I will run.

If I hit 5 of those, I’ll be happy. Even if I don’t get to my time/distance goals on each one, I’ll still be happy to get out there. (Friday, I didn’t hit my swimming goal, and was extremely frustrated until I remembered that it was my first time in the pool in a year and swimming 500 yards was better than all the swims I haven’t done. Some is better than none. I should probably get that tattooed on the backs of my hands and my forehead or something.)

Other things I am doing in the way of self-care include:

  1. Eating healthy and regular meals
  2. Getting back into the habit of meditating
  3. Reframing my life into positive “I am” statements.  (“I am a runner” NOT “I used to run more.” “I am an author” NOT “I write but still have to have a day job.”

Since I have trips planned to Mexico (October) and Spain (March), I also need to really dig into my Spanish refreshers again. I minored in Spanish in college, but haven’t kept up the practice. I could probably skate by with my limited skills and the fact that people everywhere speak English, but I’d rather make the effort – and since Bean didn’t get into the dual-language school, I want to start doing more Spanish at home so he at least has a shot at a foreign language while his brains are still malleable.

(Speaking of brains, I was texting with my PSM this morning and we decided that it was monumentally unfair that one person could have both a defective brain and a defective reproductive system. You should really only have to be stuck with one of those. Although, I guess since she and I are both graced with both breath-taking beauty and dazzling intelligence [well at least one of us is…], maybe this is the trade-off?)

I’ll leave you with a picture of my adorable Bean who’s been at the coast with grandma since Thursday.