Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Okay, I know there are those of you whose hubbies always sport a scratchy creature on their lips. Please don't feel offended. Simply click the X at the corner of my blog and join me again in a few weeks for my next breathtaking entry about a completely different subject.
But back to the whole mustache thing. I love supporting men's health. I love increasing prostate cancer awareness. And for those two reasons I am more than happy to smile at every man I see with a dorky mustache on his face. (Please note that not all men look ridiculous with a mustache--just about half of them.)
But, seriously? Who can like kissing a man with a furry beast barging in the whole time? I mean, when you were a kid and would practice kissing, did you use a smooth mirror or a loofah? Point made.
That said, I loved every minute of Movember (except for the kissing part). Congrats to everyone who suffered through it and may all the wonderful men in my life live long and prosper!
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Perhaps I am wrong, but most people don’t wash their fake Christmas trees. At least not every year. Especially if said tree is stored in a box wrapped in plastic carefully placed inside the clean storage room in a Lysol-scrubbed house.
However, in the family I grew up we did. And it was no small feat, trust me. The first week of December my mother would have the kids take the tree out of the box, soak it in the bathtub piece by piece, and clean it just in case a random spider might have set up residency in it during the summer. Granted, the tree wasn’t very big. (She bought it at Sprouse Reitz – a defunct five-and-dime store for you younger readers.) All the same, it was an awful lot of work. I can only imagine what we would have had to do to a live tree with all of its bugs and creepy crawly things.
Add to the washing of the artificial tree our yearly Christmas breakfast of oatmeal (so our stomachs were full and we couldn’t eat too much candy), and you might think I didn’t love Christmas.
But you would be wrong. Christmas was amazing. Slightly strange, but amazing. Sure, I never believed in Santa Claus—bless my sweet mother’s heart who couldn’t tell an untruth even about a jolly old man coming down a chimney--but we had our own traditions that I looked forward to all year.
One tradition I made up all on my own. My family subscribed to a magazine for children. In December the magazine was full of Christmas stories. I saved every issue and didn’t let myself read them except for during Christmas time.
On December 1st, I would greedily pull out the magazines I had kept safe all year, and I would read them again, and again, and again.
Yes, I love Christmas stories. So much so that an entire box of my family’s Christmas decorations is now nothing but books. Picture books, pop-up books, goofy books, spiritual books, and chapter books (like the wonderful book The Best Christmas Pageant Ever).
Kids, Christmas, and stories--an unbeatable trio. This year, don’t forget to add a Christmas stories to your family traditions this year—no matter how strange your family may be. :)
P.S. Yes, I do make my kids eat oatmeal on Christmas morning. They actually love it. (The tradition—not the oatmeal.)
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Three days ago I just returned from a 13-day trip to Italy I took with two of my writing group friends from Writers Cubed. (Well, I spent twelve days in Italy and one in Brussels to be exact, but that’s a whole other story.)
Out of the thousands of pictures taken during our trip, this one is my favorite. It is a photo of the lovely Jen Jenkins. What is she doing you ask? Is she performing a remix of the 60s song “Stop! In the Name of Love?”
No. She is trying to tell me that about eight feet to my left a tram is approaching and I happen to be standing on the tracks. We have been accused of faking this photo, but I assure you we did not. It is legit.
The sun was shining in my eyes (as you can see by the sunburst by the statue). I couldn't see a thing in the camera screen but was snapping a picture of blackness hoping the smart phone would do its job and make the picture look good.
Since I am alive enough to write this article, you know the story has a happy ending. When she finally got over the shock of seeing me about to be run over, she was able to shout at me and I jumped away just in time.
What is the moral of this story? Focus.
I was so intent on what I was doing (i.e. taking a brilliant photo) that I wasn’t deterred by oncoming distractions. I have a goal to approach my writing like that. Focus less on marketing, social media, raiding the fridge, etc. during my writing time and just write.
Simple, but true.
That said, I have some exciting news about my middle grade novel called “Catching Katil.” This book is based on my own experience as an eleven-year-old paper route girl in the 80s. Granted, 98 percent of the book is complete fiction, but the main character, Jenny Krigler, has more in common with me than perhaps I should admit.
I wrote the book several years ago, but it has sat on my shelf until recently. I have published it as an ebook and the print version will be available for purchase within the month. To see more details about “Catching Katil,” please visit my website. Be sure to view the book trailer that I just about burned down my house making. Again, a true story.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
I’ve been working on a middle grade book about kids who uncover a dinosaur bone smuggling ring in their small Utah town. The setting is in Vernal—one of the richest areas for Paleontology research in the United States.
For some reason, I had been struggling a lot writing this book. It was going nowhere. I considered shelving the project when I got news that my aunt died.
Aunt Janet was an amazing writer, mother, business woman, and cook. She suffered with severe Alzheimer’s for nearly ten years, so her death was bittersweet.
Here’s the coincidence: Janet’s funeral was in Vernal, Utah. My parents (who are both in their 80s) wanted to go, so we got in the car and I drove them three hours to Vernal.
The trip was a fast one, but before driving out of town I stopped for a few minutes at the Vernal Field house of Natural History. That was all I needed.
I came home and have been writing ever since on my middle grade paleontology book that had been stagnant for so long. I think it will be done in less than two months (and that includes me taking a 10-day trip to Italy.)
So what’s the moral of this story? Go. Do things. Live life. And write.
When I entered the Field house in Vernal, I put myself in the shoes of an 12-year-old, and it made all the difference. In that instant, I knew my character. I could write his story.
Friday, October 18, 2013
|I used this picture in honor of my new perm. I'm going retro!|
And as you can tell, I didn't pay for it. :)
For any other indie authors who are behind the times, I've learned that categories on Amazon are crucial. (I know, I know. Most of you indie authors are saying "duh" right now.) The thing I could never understand was how to get my book into certain categories.
I have learned it not only matters what category you chose on your KDP dashboard book page, but to get into more specific categories you have to choose the right keywords. Seriously, I've been totally making up my keywords from nothing. (My confessions are getting worse and worse.)
For the other poor soul who might be as clueless as me, check out this page: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A200PDGPEIQX41 and look under the section called "Categories With Keyword Requirements."
Who knew, right?
Anyway, as to my experiment, I took the whole morning to change/specify all of the categories and keywords for all twelve of my titles on Amazon. I tried to find ones that fit better what I had written and ones that weren't completely saturated. I'm giving my experiment six weeks and I'm going to see if it boosts sales. Tune back then.
Sunday, October 13, 2013
This book is for every author who's thinking about indie publishing, or has already taken the leap, and wonders why no one told them about the sharks, the life-sucking social media quicksand, or the best way to avoid sales-checking, yellow-spotted fever. This is a guide for the heart as much as the head.
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindajck Trilogy and Debt Collector serial and has been indie publishing since 2011. She’s not an indie rockstar or a breakout success: she’s one of thousands of solidly midlist indie authors making a living with their works. This book is a compilation of her four years of blogging through changes in the publishing industry—updated, revised, and supplemented to be relevant in 2013. It’s a guide to help her writer-friends take their own leaps into the wild (and wonderful) world of indie publishing... and not only survive, but thrive. You can friend her on Facebook or follow her on twitter or check out her blog where she'll be doing who knows what next.
FAQ About the Guide
Q: What prompted you to write the Guide?
I resisted a long time in putting this together. I had this silly idea I was a fiction writer (which is also true), in spite of spending the last four years blogging consistently about the industry, and especially the changes wrought by indie publishing. It took the goading of several friends, over a period of time, before I realized that the blog was actually non-fiction writing (I can be excessively slow for Ph.D. engineer sometimes). The trigger for blogging the book - revising and updating old posts as well as organizing the content - was seeing writer friend after writer friend take the leap, often after reading something I had posted. And I realized there wasn't a book out there that addressed the fears as well as the nuts-and-bolts about going indie. I could have just left the Guide on my rinky-dink blog, but I knew the power of Amazon (and other retailers) to connect people to books, and I figured it would help more people this way.
Q: Why should I read a book about indie publishing by Susan Kaye Quinn? I'm pretty sure she's not a NY Times Bestseller.
I'm not an indie rockstar. I haven't made the news as one of those "exceptional" breakout indie authors. I'm a solidly midlist indie author, which means I make a living off my works. I'm one of thousands of invisible indie midlist authors who, I believe, are the core of indie publishing, and why it's changing the industry. The rockstars of indie publishing can inspire and lead, they can use their leverage to break barriers, but they can't transform the industry on their own. The true change has to come, as it always has, from the grass-roots. I'm part of that grass-roots movement.
Q: Will this Guide help me get rich quick from ebooks?
Q: Will this Guide help me decide if indie publishing is right for me?
Q: What if I'm afraid?
We're all afraid. Fear is an integral part of being vulnerable in the world by daring to do brave things. Fear stops many people from becoming the full expression of who they are. I won't tell you not to be afraid in this book - I'll help you see the fear for what it is, manage it, and not let it stop you from reaching for the amazing things you have ahead of you.
Q: What if I don't have the first clue how to start with self-publishing?
The Guide is designed to take a first-time-publishing author from the decision to go indie through to writing that second book (and starting the whole process over again). It's also designed to help indie authors who have already published, but are struggling: either with keeping perspective for the long-term, trying to scale up their businesses from the first book, or just trying not to drown in social media quicksand. My hope is that all my indie author friends will find something worthwhile in it, or pass it on to someone who will. The culture in indie publishing of sharing information is part of what inspired this book in the first place.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Besides being a member of the wonderful Emblazoners—a team of talented middle-grade authors—I also belong to group of YA writers who have created one of the largest teen writing conferences around called the “Teen Author Boot Camp.”
A few weeks ago, Comic Con came to Salt Lake City for the first time ever. My YA group, Writers Cubed, wondered if this might be a good venue to reach some teens who hadn’t heard about the conference yet. Besides that, Comic Con was giving a large price break to non-profit companies, which made it very affordable.
So we did it. We put together a 10 X 10 booth and waited curiously to see if anyone would stop by. I mean, what teen would want to learn about a writing conference when there was an enormous Lord of the Rings display down the aisle that could cause a person to go into anaphylactic shock just by looking at it?
I was pleasantly surprised. Teens from ages 12 and up stopped by in droves. (We even had 10 and 11 year olds coming by.) These teens played an author match game, ate treats, and requested any and all information they could about writing.
The teens also loved to talk about what they write. I find it seriously amazing what today’s kids are doing. Many of them have 100-page manuscripts already written. Some are on their second book.
When I was in sixth grade, I had maybe written three pages? Maybe four? But one hundred? Not even close.
So why are they so smart? No sure. Maybe it’s the tech world they have grown up in. Or maybe it’s the tech world they’re trying to escape from. Maybe it’s the fact that reading is stressed in school. Or maybe it’s because some schools have left fine arts at the sidelines and the kids are wanting it back.
I really have no idea. But what I do know is that it will not surprise me one bit if, in five years or so, I hear about a rush of 20-year-authors making it big. You know what I’ll say?
P.S. For anyone interested, there were 80,000 people at the SLC Comic Con. At one point the fire marshal showed up because the building had exceeded its capacity. Crazy.
Enjoy the pics.
|Look inside the showroom windows to see how many people were there.|
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