Tag Archives: short frictions

The Inevitable New Year’s Post

First thing’s first:

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Thanks for being here, reading, clicking, sharing, generally being lovely, etc.

This is the time of year when I like to look back and see what I’ve been up to. So here goes, a list of my 2014 accomplishments and 2015 hopes, both professional and personal.

Professional Accomplishments, 2014

  • Became an admin for the site, Calming Brits & Irishmen, which my friend started in an effort to cheer me up after my back diagnosis just over a year ago.
  • Wrote ACE IN THE HOLE, a one-act play with an all-female cast, commissioned by Ingenius Theatre. (Available as part of Short Frictions – purchasing link to your right).
  • Wrote a first draft (which I’ve subsequently revised a bit) of a novella as part of a long-term project with @sareliz.
  • Created new cover art for a number of the books I have available on Amazon.
  • Completed a month of blogging every day.
  • Started a new job in a new city, with more creative freedom and more responsibility.
  • Started a writer’s group on Facebook with a group of very talented people who I’m looking forward to growing with over the next year.

Personal Accomplishments, 2014

  • Despite a bad back injury, I kept a (mostly) positive outlook throughout the year during my recovery.
  • Made some major strides forward in dealing with my own mental health.
  • Moved away from New York City (I KNOW!) and adjusted to life in the country (still in progress).
  • I HAVE A NIECE! (Okay, all I did to accomplish this was be born to the same parents as her dad and then wait around for 30 years, but still.)
  • Lost a bit of weight by making healthy life choices (and a bit by being in too much pain to move, during the first part of 2014).
  • Got my finances more or less under control.

Professional Goals, 2015

  • Revise, rewrite, and finish the aforementioned novella, which seems to be growing into more of a novel-shaped thing.
  • Finish my sitcom pilot and outline the subsequent scripts for the first “season”.
  • Write another play. No idea what. Just write another play.
  • Write three short stories…and send them to actual publications.
  • Stretch goal: experiment with YouTube/vlogging. (Ain’t gonna happen, but you have to aim high, right?)
  • See more theater.

Personal goals, 2015:

  • Maintain healthy habits
  • Travel more
  • Meet my niece (hoping to knock that off the list in a few weeks)
  • Pay more attention to my personal life.

And there you have it! What did you accomplish in 2014, and what are you hoping to do in the coming year? Whatever your answers…congratulations, and good luck!

Cleaning Up A Sweepstakes Mess

The first point where I knew something had gone wrong was when I signed into my email and saw a note from the winner of my Short Frictions/Think Geek giveaway.

After a brief sweepstakes entry period, I’d Rafflecoptered for a winner and sent a $15 gift code to a reader who’d faithfully liked, shared, tweeted and retweeted a brief message about the book almost every day. Now, she wrote, she was having trouble redeeming the code. The Think Geek site was telling her it had already been used. Which it hadn’t, because she’d been saving it to shop for the holidays.

My heart sank. I logged into Think Geek and checked the code, and sent it to her again to confirm there hadn’t been a typo, but she was right – the balance on the code was showing up as zero. I really didn’t know what had happened, especially since another code I’d sent out the same day had been redeemed without a problem.

Finally, I decided to check in with the Think Geek team. I’m always hesitant to start talking to customer service. I find it incredibly stressful and frustrating, particularly after some of the experiences I’ve had with other companies this year, but without getting in touch with them there was no way to figure out what had happened.

It took two tries to get a customer service rep to respond on the Think Geek site. I’m not sure what happened the first time, but I spent several minutes typing in an explanation of what had happened and waiting for a response that never came. I logged out, logged back in, and tried again. This time, after five or so minutes, a rep came online and asked me to describe my problem. After confirming she could read and reply to my messages, I explained, and she started to investigate.

My hope was to confirm with Think Geek when the gift card balance had been used, in case there had been some kind of technical glitch; I wasn’t sure if they’d tell me the date and amount of whatever purchase tracked back to the giveaway gift code, but I figured the best idea was to get as much information as I could before I sent the sweepstakes winner an update.

After five or ten more minutes, the customer rep sent a message that far surpassed my expectations: she had added the credit back onto the gift code. I’m not sure if she found a glitch in the sale or if there was some kind of error, or if Think Geek just decided that such a small amount wasn’t worth haggling over (which I’d already decided was going to be my approach if it turned out they couldn’t reinstate the credit, because the giveaway winner had put a lot of effort into spreading word of Short Frictions on social media). But I was relieved that the matter was resolved so easily.

Once I had confirmation from the customer service team, I emailed the winner and let her know that everything should be up and running and she could make her purchases; I haven’t heard from her since, so am assuming everything went well.

From start to finish, resolving the situation took about half an hour, but I was shocked at how stressful I found it.  As self-published authors, being in charge of marketing and PR is a huge part of what we do – and when something goes wrong, there’s no PR rep to hide behind, no publishing house to help defray the cost of issues like lost prizes and credits. Plus, it’s our name out there on the line. This contest winner was extremely understanding and patient as I worked to resolve the gift code issue, but just as easily could have been someone far less inclined to give the benefit of the doubt.

I’m lucky enough, currently, to be in a position where I could have afforded to replace the prize if need be – but what if I wasn’t? What if the prize was something bigger, or Think Geek had turned replacing the credit into more of a production?

When you self-publish, you’re taking control and ownership of every aspect of sharing your work. The buck stops with you. Making sure you’re mentally and financially prepared (not to mention knowing you have enough time on your hands) to represent your work to the best of your ability is an important part of being a self-published author. And it’s not something to take on lightly.

Thankfully, in this case, the mess that had to be cleaned up wasn’t a big one. Hopefully (knock on wood) it never will be. If and when future issues arise, no matter what area of self-publishing they might be in, I’ll handle them as quickly and smoothly as possible, and hope for the best.

Cleaning up when something goes wrong is something every self-publishing author has to be prepared for, whether the hitch happens in writing, editing, publishing, art directing or publicity. Be prepared, keep your cool, and think your options through, and hopefully your next hitch won’t throw you for a loop.

 

 

Buy your own copy of Short Frictions on Amazon or Smashwords.

SHORT FRICTIONS, Coming Up Shortly!

A robot I met some time ago, on the Upper East Side. Not in any of my stories. But doesn't he look dapper?

A robot I met some time ago, on the Upper East Side. Not in any of my stories. But doesn’t he look dapper?

For the last month or so, I’ve been receiving helpful comments from wonderful people who’ve taken time out of their lives to prepare for advance reviewing of SHORT FRICTIONS – my upcoming collection of short stories. Their assistance has been invaluable, and the book you’ll eventually read has already been made leagues better thanks to their thoughts and comments.

So when do you get to check out this fabulous new collection of stories about vampires, robots, evil corporations and more?

One thing’s for sure: it won’t be long, now!

I’ve met with the designer – the stylish Sarah Hartley (who was responsible for the gorgeous cover of HOT MESS) and she’s working on some frankly brilliant ideas for the SHORT FRICTIONS cover. I hope you’ll like it. I know I love what she’s thought up so far.

I really can’t wait to share this collection of shorts – and a play! – with all of you. Most have been written in the last few years, with one outlier that dates back to my college days. Some, you may have seen in other places in the past. Others are fresh and new and clean and excited to be allowed out into the world.

The e-version will likely debut in August on several platforms, shortly ahead of the print one, and don’t worry – I’ll keep you updated. Just enter your info into the subscription widget – upper right hand side of this blog entry to make sure you don’t miss the new release. Or give me your email address (I’ll never sell or share it), below:

 

Congratulations to the Short Frictions Giveaway Winner!

2014-04-07 11For the last month or so, I’ve been running a giveaway for a gift code from ThinkGeek.com…and now it’s time to announce the winner!

Congratulations to Patricia Salyers!

It was cool to watch how every day, Patricia was on Twitter, tweeting the promotional tweet to get additional entries for the competition – and clearly the work paid off! I’ve contacted her privately to arrange for her to get her ThinkGeek code, and send a heartfelt thank-you to everyone who took the time to enter.

If you didn’t win, but still want something free (and who doesn’t want free stuff) then remember, I’m also looking for advance reviewers for Short Frictions, and am rewarding those who step up with both a free e-copy of the book in the format of their choice and a thank-you on the book’s acknowledgements page.

Having lots of reviews is one of those things that helps us indie writers sell books, so not only will you get free stuff if you sign up – you’ll also be doing me a solid.

Advance Copies, coming up!

Woooo! Just got the manuscript for Short Frictions back from my editor, with some great notes. Now that I’m working through those, it’s also time to prep for a new stage in my new self-publishing checklist: advance reviewers.

Image from phys.org (http://phys.org/news/2014-01-google-machines-robotics-companies-involved.html).

Image from phys.org (http://phys.org/news/2014-01-google-machines-robotics-companies-involved.html).

About a month ago, I took a webinar from Writer.ly  that suggested ways of getting the word out about your self-published book. One of the ideas I loved was setting up a list of readers who would comment on the book before its publication, then leave reviews on release day!

Adding a new step to a self-publishing strategy is tricky, but one of the points @Kelsye (who gave the webinar) made that really stuck with me was that reaching as many advance reviewers as possible is important because of how it helps generate word of mouth, and gives people an incentive to read and review your work. While I’ve heard of some writers (specifically, Guy Kawasaki) crowdsourcing feedback, I’ve never tried this strategy myself – it’s a little nervewracking, but I think it will be worth it!

If you still want to sign up to be an advance reader and reviewer, there’s still time to get me your info! You’ll receive a thank-you in the final edition of the book, as well as a free e-copy. Interested? Click here for more information.

Permission to Take it Easy

blogpicWhy is it that the moment we give ourselves permission to take it easy, projects and possibilities seem to become easier themselves?

Yesterday, I posted about a new short fiction anthology, partly because I wanted you to know about it but also partly because I was starting to feel like I was overwhelmed and floundering. Three of the pieces I wanted to include seemed like they were going to take a lot more work than I’d initially thought, and I was letting that start to sidetrack the entire project.

Just before I wrote yesterday’s post, I had decided it wasn’t worth the stress to try and corral those three stories into the current collection. I’d edited one, but gotten bogged down in some of the bigger changes that were necessary, and to be honest it was starting to feel like the thread of the story was getting away from me. Within five minutes of writing yesterday’s blog, though, I suddenly felt like I had not only the energy I’d need to do those stories justice, but the knowledge of how to go about making them publication-ready.

Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves. I remember when I was working on my short story for HOT MESS, I wrote a throw-away short story before I got around to the two pieces that ended up in the anthology. Just writing something – anything – took the pressure to be perfect off me, and swept my mental desk clean enough to get some quality work done. Apparently, deciding that I didn’t need to include the three short stories I discounted yesterday morning was enough to give my brain the space it needed to start solving problems.

So who knows – SHORT FRICTIONS may include a few more pieces, after all. You’ll just have to wait till it’s published to find out.

In the meantime, check out your own to-do list. What on it can wait? What have you pressured yourself to take care of, when maybe you didn’t need to? Try crossing something off the list, and see how you feel. You might find that it energizes you enough to carry you through the rest of your tasks – and who knows, that x’d-off item might even find its way back onto the roster.

 

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SHORT FRICTIONS: Collecting a Collection of Short Stories

picI first started talking about publishing a collection of short stories shortly after HOT MESS went live. Initially, I had a set of about eight short stories on themes around artificial intelligence and robots – some written, some ideas – and the group of them should have been out for your reading pleasure about a year and a a half ago.

Obviously, that hasn’t happened.That isn’t to say I haven’t been writing. I have. A lot. And two weeks ago, I realized that what I thought were a couple of reader-ready stories were actually several more than that. Also that I have a tendency to forget when I’ve finished something if I don’t make a big deal of it right away.

Therefore, this post is an announcement of an upcoming publication from yours truly.

Some of the stories I wanted to write wound up not being the ideas I thought they were, others were far longer than I’d meant them to be, and in at least one case, a criticism from a friend crawled into my brain and died there – which isn’t to say that story will never be written, but there were enough flaws with the idea that it needs some serious time and attention before it’s ready for popular consumption. Others, which would have been timely if I’d managed to get them published 18 months ago, now feel a little stale and in need of a reworking that might not have mattered if so much time hadn’t gone by. Some of the stories in the collection will already have seen the light of day, and some are no longer available in their original publications.

Some of these shorts have been sitting on my hard drive for quite some time – in particular, a piece about a vampire during the Holocaust which I wrote over ten years ago and have been too self-conscious to share since then*.

Well, self, time to get over it.

It will likely be a few more weeks before the collection is ready to go, so consider this a heads-up. I have a new book coming out. It will be available both electronically (through Amazon and Smashwords) and in print (via Createspace, which also feeds into Amazon).

The title will be SHORT FRICTIONS, and I hope you will enjoy it.

Meanwhile, I am legitimately terrified, and once the finishing touches are on the publication file, I will be hiding under my quilt in bed.

 

*I still remember standing in Blackstone’s Book Shop on Charing Cross Road, back in 2002, staring at a book I wanted to buy and thinking, on my student budget, I can justify buying this if I write something about it afterwards, then it’s research and that’s totally okay. Since then I’ve shared it with a few friends, as well as an agent who said she’d be interested in reading the novel, should I ever choose to develop it into one, I just haven’t actually published it anywhere.