Yoga and Habits

So I started up with yoga again. I wish it wasn’t quite so expensive, especially since I found a studio I really like with an amazing instructor on Wednesdays, but they are a little pricier than other places. =(

Exercise is difficult for me for a number of reasons. My parents really encouraged academic excellence, so aside from riding a bike with my brother and throwing a baseball around with him too, I didn’t develop any athletic-inclined habits.

I also have several injuries, including being born with flat feet. I have arches but they’re not that great, so running or long walks aren’t very comfortable and can hurt. Add on a broken leg and shoulder and some neck sprains, and it seems I get sore really easily. I am intrigued by weightlifting, but worry about doing it wrong and triggering an old injury.

I also get bored; I need something to engage my mind too, so when I do exercise I try to read, if possible. Luckily yoga engages me on that level, so I am really grateful for that.

But probably the biggest impediment I struggle with is myself. I was brought up with a mentality of ‘number one is expected’, and I am very critical if I don’t do well. So I can’t run very well because of the aforementioned issues? Let the self-recrimination and lectures begin! Other people have it worse, after all! Can’t do an arm bind because bad shoulder doesn’t really work that well? I should be able to loosen it up and at least do better than where I am at! I’m so weak!

I know I shouldn’t think this way about exercise – because part of it is actually NOT doing well, because you need to challenge your body – but it is a difficult adjustment for me. I’m the type of person who can have a perfectly lovely conversation with someone, but ten minutes later I am second-guessing a phrase I used, or whether I lingered too long. I always want to improve, and think everything about me CAN be improved, that I am a very fallible person.

So when I go into yoga classes, see twenty-somethings, (unfortunately no longer me), with great bodies who move more easily then me, I think ‘I will never get there’ and therefore I have failed before beginning, why bother? Luckily in yoga most teachers are very supportive and remind you that every day with your body is different, and it’s important to be there and do something for yourself. This helps me break through my personality flaw of analyzing to a fault and sabotaging something that is potentially good for me.

If I can get to class, it is definitely a reset. I focus on slowing down, watching my breath, and the time goes by pretty quickly. I also end up feeling a little sore but also more flexible and I move more easily and feel a little confident. So why is it still so difficult to break through those bad habits? It’s something I continue to struggle with.

 

 

Exciting News

I was recently contacted by a small Australian publisher, and I have just entered into an agreement with them!

They will have the right to publish Lily and Stuart’s story on iBookstore, in every country that iBookstore has a presence.

This is great for me, because I always had mixed feelings about what I would do if I was contacted by a publisher. The fact that this publisher focuses on iBookstore and I retain all other rights makes me feel a lot more comfortable than I would otherwise. I was also put at ease by the answers to my (rather numerous) questions.

It’s not a vanity imprint (where the author pays a fee), and the publisher has set a tentative date of the end of March to have the books re-released with a new cover.

I’ll keep you posted as we get closer to release. I hope this will be a good experience for my readers (and also for me!).

Warm regards,

Holly

 

Website

So I really dislike my website design.

Although WordPress has a lot of ‘free’ templates, it’s tedious to troll through them. Many don’t offer a lot of customisation unless you purchase them, and I would really like to know that I can customise it the way I want to before I needlessly spend money on a theme only to have to switch to another.

I’ve been trying to find a web designers, with little luck. I don’t know HTML; when I I had a Moveable Type site ages ago I was able to figure out how to change things after a spell, but then they had several updates I didn’t like and I moved to WordPress after having it recommended by other people and seeing it used by blogs I like.

I don’t really want to spend a lot of time trying to figure out pretty web design; I’d prefer to write. So if you come around and see a bunch of change on the site it’s probably me just dinking around trying to make it prettier. =)

Sine Qua Non Cycle

Right now I am writing book two of the Sine Qua Non Cycle and doing a little revision of book one, “And Laugh at Digital Butterflies”. (Taking out the archaic to-day, fixing some formatting).

I really enjoy the sexual awakening aspects of this tale and others – the excitement of trying something new with an adventurous partner, the anticipation, the curiosity, even the apprehension. I really enjoy the powerful CEO (Stuart and Dyson), or warrior, (Tristan), as the hero, I love that archetype of the powerful man.

It’s also fun building new worlds; as much as I love the Pacific Northwest and enjoyed writing Lily and Stuart’s story in my contemporary setting, moving forward, creating a futuristic world where virtual reality and space stations exist was amazing. Trying to make a ‘history’ when there’s no history there, (like the crash of the Splendor, the Indentured Servitude Act, etc), is a challenge. Thirty years ago, who could have imagined cell phones and the net as they are today? Trying to come up with something that is futuristic but not too off the hook lends the story a more authentic feel I believe, and I’ve tried to do that with this series.

If you haven’t read it, I hope you’ll give it a try!

Warm wishes,

Holly

 

Christmastime

This is usually a difficult time of year for me. My birthday is Christmas Eve and it always makes me think of my mom and the fact she used to send me cards, and we had talked about her visiting for Christmas once she got better (she used to come around Thanksgiving).

This year it’s also difficult because I have a damn sinus infection that has been plaguing me for about ten days and the doctor was reluctant to give me any antibiotics, saying they are so overused, (yep, I know, but not by me), they can cause digestive issues by killing good bacteria, and not every sinus infection is caused by bacteria. So I am on another day of rinsing my sinuses, using sprays and Sudafed hoping my body can shake it off – if I am not showing progress, he will probably call something in, he said.

But it has made getting excited for Christmas – and ready for it – difficult. (Then there’s also the neighbourhood association that has decided now is the best time of year to get on people about their yard. Sigh). That being said I did make cookies last night, much to the boyfriend’s delight, and I only have a few more presents to wrap – so I’m not a total slouch.

To make it even more interesting… the boyfriend was born on Christmas DAY, so it is a bit crazy. =) We’ve been together a while, and have had to merge our traditions and find the right balance. On Christmas Eve I make Chinese food, (what his family used to do), and on Christmas Day I make a rib roast, which is a nod to the roast beef and scallop potatoes for Christmas Eve my mom would splurge on. We also have a friendly argument of who was REALLY born on God’s birthday – it’s a silly, meaningless fake argument we have every year. Each time we try to think of a new point to prove our side – it’s actually pretty funny!

Even though the double birthdays on a holiday are chaotic, he’s the only one who understands what it’s like to never have a birthday party, what getting shafted on birthday gifts at Christmas means, how you can never get that ‘free birthday meal’ from your favourite restaurant and all the other weird things associated with a Christmas birthday. And you know what else it means? We both try very hard every year to give each other a special day – thoughtful gifts or a little surprise. I do ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’  for him by getting an inexpensive present (usually $5 or less per day), putting them in festive bags and for the twelve days prior to his birthday, he gets to open one every night. They’re sometimes silly, like a plastic dinosaur – he loves dinosaurs – or a mini grow your own Venus flytrap kit. He opened the bag with the dinosaur in it the other day and when he saw what was inside his face lit up – it made the extra planning worth it, and the velociraptor has joined Gwar, (our first plastic dinosaur), and his family on the kitchen table next to the boyfriend’s place setting.

Whatever traditions you have – I would love to read about them – I hope you have a lovely Christmas and if you don’t have any traditions, it’s never to late to start one! Donate food to a pet shelter or vow to hand write your Christmas cards, (when I send them off that’s what I do), or bake a spice cake for Christmas Day dessert. It’s lovely to have something to come back to year after year, to remember fondly, to make the holidays seem more intimate and well, yours.

I wish you all the best for the remainder of this year, and hope 2017 is a banner year for you and yours.

Love,

Holly

Reviews and Reviewers; Pricing

I’ve been really fortunate to have many of my books rated highly by readers, and although I’ve made friends with some of my readers, I have never paid, coerced, traded favours, etc to get positive reviews.

I know that negative reviews are inevitable – no matter how good a book, there will be someone who doesn’t like it. The novel may not be their cup of tea, be written in a style they don’t like, have content that upsets them or any number of other things.

I appreciate it when someone takes time out to rate and review my books, even if they have an issue with them. I think, (and if you look at Amazon you can see for yourself), even when the rating isn’t perfect I have often thanked reviewers or explained why I did something, and in a few cases, I’ve altered my books to make things a little clearer.

So it’s frustrating when I get a review that is one star and slags my book and mention incorrect things. (In the case I’m thinking of, my book is written in present tense but they say it’s written in past tense.)

I don’t know why it bothers me so much – maybe it was the parting shot that, ‘there’s a reason it’s free’ that stung and I thought was unnecessary, especially since the reviewer got their fact wrong. With over seventy ratings on Amazon, I have a 4.2 average rating, which I think is great! I know it is inevitable that some readers won’t like it, and I think constructive criticism benefits me as a writer. When one reviewer thought I let Stuart off a little lightly in book five, I added some extra bits to flesh things out and hopefully give more context. It is easy to be myopic, especially when you have spent a lot of time around a set of characters, because after a while you know them intimately and understand so clearly who they are, you forget the reader doesn’t have that same experience.

There is a lot of talk among authors whether you should respond to people reviewing your book. I think if a person has a point they have made or a concern, it is perfectly reasonable to open a dialogue. I like people, am generally a friendly person in real life, and am humbled readers are interested in my books and have taken time to think about them and consider what I’ve presented; I want to honour that time. I was also brought up to show appreciation when someone does you a kindness – to display gratitude, humility and return compliments, so I have an urge to respond when people post a generous review. Some authors are horrified their fellow writers respond and think it’s poor form because it invites difficulties, but others see things similarly to the way I do.

It’s difficult to tread that line. For example, some readers have grumbled about pricing for example, for my five book series that it cost $14, (it’s less than that now). There is a huge disparity in pricing of books, particularly erotica. I’ve seen 25 page ‘books’ that sell for the same price as my 250+ page Lily books, and I recently came across a 170 page Indie erotica book for $7, whilst my 1300+ page compendium of Lily and Stuart is $8.99, discounted a dollar. Some authors argue that selling around the $2.99 price point further reinforces the notion that Indie authors suck, because no self respecting ‘big’ author like Rowling would EVER sell anything that low. I think you need to know your audience a bit, and I hope the audience understand that Indie doesn’t mean you get almost the whole cost of the book.

I tried to price more according to the length of the book, but that caused pricing differences in the same series, so I ended up just pricing all the Lily books $2.99 after the first one, which is free. Unfortunately it is difficult to sell directly to B&N, iBookstore and some other places so I use Lulu for that, and whilst Lulu takes a small cut – usually no more than thirty-five cents – B&N and Kobo in particular take a flat percentage which means that for the $8.99 compendium, I receive less than HALF of that price as revenue. It’s crazy, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Big publishers have this system figured out, and readers expect mainstream to cost more, so I think they are more comfortable with paying extra. They price in marketing and labour, and have infrastructure in place that grinds into motion when a book is released, so their overhead goes to somewhere. The overhead for publishing through Kobo for instance, is basically a vig for the right to be listed on their site, and that’s it.

I don’t want to sound like I am complaining – I am trying to give a little insight into what is behind the curtain, some of the moving parts and thoughts that affect an Indie writer, in this case me. I am grateful I am selling books, that most readers seem to like what I write, and I fervently hope to be able to make enough so this is my job, full time. There is a lot a to manage, and a learning curve no doubt, but the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step and I’m already several steps down the road… and excited to see where it all leads.

 

 

Book Blitz!

The book blitz is on and in honour of it, the Compendium is on sale for $8.99. For some reason Amazon has discounted several books in the series so the anthology wasn’t as good of a ‘deal’ as I meant it to be, so I will keep it at $8.99 until I sort out this with Amazon, unless they have decided to permanently discount the books.

Links:

Amazon

Lulu

ITunes

Kobo

Barnes & Noble (waiting for update to pricing, still at $9.99)

Holly

Compendium

I am currently editing book five in Lily’s story – hooray! – and then I’ll be ready to put it all together in prep for a book blitz Dec 4-10. More details to follow! =)

After that I need to do a little cleanup of other books, and then I will be back to writing, which I miss! The next book is my ELEVENTH, which I can hardly believe! There are two more installments in the Sine Qua Non Cycle, and one more in the main storyline for the Void Chronicles, and then a side novel, which deals with some issues the conclusion brings to a head.

I also have some ideas for other stories, and requests from several readers for a little insight into Lily and Stuart after marriage, and what happened with Janet, which I am considering. =)

Hope autumn is going well for everyone. =)

xoxo,

Holly

 

What’s Up, Pussycat?

Hope everyone is doing well!

Right now I’m editing Lily’s series – getting rid of archaic forms and words, and I’m on “The Air I Breathe”, and have uploaded books one and two to Amazon and Lulu already.

I’m also trying to get ready for autumn. I need to make a final pass on my garden, bring some plants in from the deck, get some more firewood… batten down the hatches and get ready for, (what I think), might be a rather dramatic autumn and winter season.

A few years ago there was a short power outage during winter, and I was grateful for the stockpile of wood I had because there was none to be found in any store. I closed off rooms I didn’t need, boiled some water to send steam into the air and lit my fireplace/wood stove. (It’s inset like a fireplace but clean burning, with secondary combustion, so it acts like a stove.) I hung sheets to help keep out the chill and slept on cushions in front of the fireplace. It was cozy – everything lit by the fireplace or dozens of candles – and even though I missed the net and being able to play video games with the boyfriend, I also liked the peace. We played board games, read, chatted and played with the kitties.

We haven’t had snow here in the PacNW much the past few years and this summer was very mild, so I think there’s a decent chance it might make up for it during winter. I remember as a kid my parents always got down ‘winter clothes’ in September, and put up our summer togs, and I guess that tradition (?) or sense of a distinct break in seasons remains with me.