Posts Tagged ‘Second Breath’

Traipsing through the door (entry, gate, threshold, or here in Québec “porte”) lightly

My entire adult life, I’ve held an interest in mythology … any mythology really, but my curiosity and fascination have been mostly piqued by the ones that spirited me far and away from the Christian one, on which I was raised.

I’ve always enjoyed a good story and you’ve got to admit Christian stories, on the whole, seem so pedestrian when compared to those of the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Celts, Norsemen, Aztecs or North American Natives (and a great gang of other cultures, as well). How can the story of a wee little tax man (not an historically exciting demographic) named Zacchaeus climbing a sycamore tree to clap eyes on the approaching teacher Jesus, or a few bottles of wine being watered down (the norm in Roman times) to make more wine for an expanding party list hope to compare with the tale of the beautiful nymph Daphne morphing into a Laurel tree to escape the amorous advances of the Greek god Apollo, or a lyre-plucking Orpheus braving the dangers of the underworld to rescue his beloved Eurydice from death itself!

Case in point. Take Janus. Here’s his pic.

He’s the ancient Roman God of Doorways, of Beginnings, of Change, of Transition. He represents the changeover between the primitive and the civilized, between the countryside and the city, between peace and war, between youth and age … in short, between this and that. We’re talking wise here, or at the very least, observant, a fella well able to spout a line or two of illumination. The guy has two faces. They look in opposite directions. I tell you … how cool is that! As a character, he’d fit right into any fantasy book or film that’s put out today … yet he was already an ancient god by the time the Romans came onto the historic scene, back in the day. How can anyone not find that fascinating?

In the fullness of time, this god-dude Janus had a month named for him. I’ll give you 12 clues and the last 11 don’t count. Yup, you got it … it’s JANuary, where I’m sitting right now, smack-dab in the first day of the spanking new year 2013. Remember how I said Janus could look both backward and forward at the same time? Do you see the significance? January 1 is a day to reflect on the past, to think ahead, to find a direction and move on through the metaphorical turnstyle into another year.

I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions. I don’t know why. Perhaps the exercise seemed trivial to me, or maybe the analysis of where my life has been and where I wanted it to go was just too onerous a task to undertake on a chill winter day with a stomach still feeling the aftermath of one holiday indulgence too many. And, of course, the prospect of failure is never an easy one to contemplate, so a case can always be made for NOT making resolutions.

Perhaps it’s because I’ll be turning 60 in March (it’s only a hop and a skip to death from there, isn’t it?), but I find myself receptive to the New Year’s Resolution exercise this year. Looking back, I can plainly see that I haven’t made each day, each year, each decade count, at least not in any way I’ve wanted it to. I’ve been too busy bowing to the god of fear (and perhaps loathing, but not in Las Vegas) to make a mark, even on myself. In terms of ink, the halting trail I’ve left behind me is almost invisible. I think the time has come to throw a little indelible into the mix, before I find myself lying on my deathbed, weighed down by a blanket of regret.

So here I am, unhitching my horse from a post that’s grown a veritable forest of moss.

My resolutions are these:

Things writerly

1) I must start calling myself a writer. It is what I do, therefore that is what I am. There will always be people who don’t understand, and who diminish writerly effort to the realm of the unimportant. I’ll simply smile and smile and soldier on (I bet you thought I was going to put “be a villain” there; fooled you!).

2) Get my first novel, Second Breath, on Smashwords (making it available for other-than-Kindle platforms) and also get the book into print form for sale to them that don’t (yet) have (or maybe don’t want) an ebook reader.

3) Do a thorough research of marketing possibilities and more wisely promote Second Breath.

4) Complete my second novel Skeleton Dance (now roughly ⅔rds done), and submit it to agents/publishers (i.e., pursue traditional route for approximately 6 months before going the self-publishing route again).
5) Format two more collections of existing poetry for Kindle.

6) Return to poetry-writing roots and create one collection of new poems this year.

7) Find a non-fiction topic to research for a book, because I LOVE research. To plunge one’s head into a sea of research material is heaven on earth!

8) Write new blog posts, a minimum of one every 10 days. (This is my first since April, YAY! Methinks this bodes well for my other resolutions.).

Other stuff and things

1) Once I’ve mastered items 1 and 2 of the writerly list above, apply myself to doing the same for my husband Jim Stark’s extensive literary output (See http://tinyurl.com/3jhutkf).

2) Form new friendships and cultivate existing ones (a tough one, as through design or default I’ve always been a solitary creature). Find ways to become more outgoing.

3) Find more time for reading. I love reading. This shouldn’t be hard! It’s just a matter of time management, right?

4) Become more organized (like I used to be), and less easily distracted from the things that are important.

5) Resume activities I once found pleasing (but have fallen away from, for whatever reason), to add more dimension to my life.

6) Lose the guilt; it’s non-productive. Become less fearful; it makes everything else easier.

7) Embrace change, because in the end, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

8) Become more mindful of the present. Appreciate the riches each day can bring.

There, that about does it.

Now, in the words of another great (if imaginary) man that I quoted back in my first blog post, just under a year ago …

“Engage”

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Taking flight

Show of hands … who wants to hear the riveting story of how the plot of my breathtakingly perfect novel Second Breath evolved?

Eh … no one?

Okay then, show of hands … who is thrilled beyond measure at the prospect of hearing all about my maiden venture into Kindle free days?

Um … one!

The hand has it. (Never mind that it’s my own hand!)

To begin, I’ll outline (in no particular order) my reasons for choosing to become an indie author via Kindle Direct Publishing:

1 – popularity of Kindle devices and apps

Rebecca Ratcliffe, in her January 13, 2012 article in The Guardian, states: “One in every 40 British adults received one [e-reader] for Christmas, either as a gift or bought as a treat for themselves …. That adds up to 1.33m [million] devices, of which an estimated 92% were Kindles.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2012/jan/13/kindle-self-publishing-e-readers) Comment: seems self-evident.

2 – Kindle’s 70% royalty option

Cut out the middleman and garner a higher royalty percentage. ’Nuff said!

3 – formatting for Kindle is easier

I’m tech comfortable, but not that tech comfortable. So, for a relative non-techie like me (and a poor one to boot), this was a huge consideration.

4 – word of mouth

People I spoke with reported having higher sales with Kindle. Then in January, I heard words dropped from various and sundry trustworthy mouths that a goodly number of goodly things had happened (to these same goodly people) with regard to sales of their (likewise) goodly books once they enrolled in the new Amazon Kindle program called …

Drum roll.

For an actual drum roll, or if your eyelids are getting heavy and you need to wake up, click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZgZYfVVQEk&feature=related)

5 – KDP Select

Earn a share of royalties from book loans via Kindle Owners’ Lending Library … AND enjoy five book giveaway promotion days per 90-day period that the author is enrolled in the program.

A stretch of heavy plodding there, but “with hey, ho, the wind and the rain” (compliments of The Bard), now that I’ve got you to this juncture … show of hands again … who’s ready to hear about my inaugural venture into Kindle free days?

Same hand, this time rotating in a lazy royal wave.

For those who’ve forgotten, it’s my hand. Sheesh, you can’t be straying off into la-la land when there are important things afoot … or in this case, ahand.

Back to the matter at hand.

Serious face.

I scheduled my first book giveaway promo for February 29, 2012 Leap Day―a unique day, one that stood apart from all its fellows. It just seemed fitting, as I’m a bit of an oddity myself. I’ve been a Twittering fool since November 1 of last year and so Twitter presented itself as my obvious promotional platform. I dressed my blue Tweetiebird in feathers of natty red-trimmed black, named him RWB-bird (red-winged blackbird, one of my favourite birds, which I invariably abbreviate to “RWB-bird” to everyone’s eye roll, since the abbreviation lengthens rather than shortens the syllables pronounced) and released him into the Twittersphere to alternately flap and plummet, URL-banners streaming from his beak, through the feed pages of my 900+ Twitter followers. Then at four-hour intervals, I tossed more of my flapping emissaries with their own supply of banners into the virtual firmament to follow the path of their comrades.

And hallelujah, didn’t a handful of truly wonderful Twitter friends decide to release their own little Tweetiebirds to flap across their own followers pages, retweeting my message about some totally unknown indie author’s freebie book that was ripe for picking off a virtual Kindle bookstore shelf.

Well, my heart was dancing the old soft shoe all day long. A glorious sight it was (the progress, not the soft shoe)! I refreshed my Reports page every hour (an understatement!) and watched as the number of giveaway books grew from two digits to three as the day progressed, until by the end of the 24-hour period 235 ebooks had been plucked off the shelf by USA/Canada individuals, 32 by folks in the UK and one by a chappie (or chappess, as the case may be) in France. France; I tell you!

So there you have it. How exciting was that! I didn’t make any money on any of those ebooks, but hey, this could all lead somewhere good. Some fraction of these 268 people might actually read the book, and some fraction of those may feel moved to give me feedback and perhaps even write a review, the boon of writers … which then might just lead to actual, royalty-earning sales!

In fact, I’m happy to report that I’ve already had a few of these paying ones!

I’ve decided to give myself an “E” for effort and hand for tackling all the ongoing work that isn’t actually the fun stuff, writing …  which seems to be the indie writer’s lot.

Ah, the sound of one hand clapping …

or is that a foot?

Beginnings

My chronological age is 58. I can be childlike, singing and chirping nonsense one minute, or as old as Methuselah, with eyes burrowing into much deeper realms the next. I’m one of those square pegs that hasn’t yet found a round hole big enough to settle comfortably into, the kind of person that … because they’re a bit of an unknown quantity … might just be capable of anything.

But rest assured,  I’m quite benign. I rescue spiders from flyswatters, earthworms from puddles on a rainy night and beautiful butterflies from the less-than-natural graveyard where they breathed their last.

I’m a silver-lining kind of person, always have been. I’ve simply got to look at the bright side. The eyes see best when not beset by darkness … so too, the mind. Monsters are easier to fight, or elude, when you can clap eyes on them.

My novel was conceived in 1996 and completed in one year. It was self-published in February 2012, in the Amazon Kindle store. That’s one long gestation! But I’m glad it turned out that way, glad this child of the mind was born after all the arms and legs and inner workings had solidified into as perfect a whole as I could create.

Everything has its time.

In Chapter 1 of my novel, Second Breath, I write the whys and wherefores of how Daisy O’Dey came to trade the empty religion of her upbringing for a deeply satisfying commune with the wonder of the natural world.

She discovered this earthy passion at the age of fourteen, on an early-July Sunday, the same Sunday that she quietly declined to ready herself for the customary church service. No fuss was made, no explanations asked. She watched from the front step as her family moved off to meet the resonant bong of the church bell, the Pied Piper of believers.

This is an excerpt from my own life. In the novel, the descriptive elaboration that follows is Daisy’s own story.

My own conversion went in quite another direction. On the day I stopped going to church at the age of fourteen, I wrote my first poem. It was a full page long, and it flew out from my soul as quickly as a startled swallow from the barn rafters. By the time my family had returned, it was done.

I chanced across this page of youthful creativity during a recent move. In the eyes of my much older self, the poem was dreadful (weighty for a child that age, and a bit too-too). But at the time I wrote it, I thought it was quite the opposite, a psalm of sorts. And the writing of it felt like magic.

I traded my religion for a pen that day, and though the path has often been a bumpy one to follow,  I’ve never looked back, nor have I ever wanted to.

Engage

To paraphrase Engineer Scott from the fourth (and my personal favourite) Star Trek film:

Admiral …  there be words here!

Now, I’m not any kind of admiral (can’t swim for starters, and I couldn’t tie a clove hitch to save my soul), nor am I one of those anonymous, red-uniformed expendables that fades to black in most every Star Trek storyline (not now, anyway; I’ve finally moved on to a speaking part).

Uttering words, making noise, banging my own drum (slowly). It’s a big step for a veritable hermit … but here I is! … dehermitizing, at least in the virtual universe of the Internet. I may encounter other sentient life here, eventually, if anyone chances to beam onto my friendly outpost for a how-do-you-do (and hopefully, a follow-me too). If I do, I suspect they won’t be any scarier than my own alien self, or my shadow … which can be pretty damned freaky betimes!

I’ve written a novel, Second Breath, not science fiction as the theme of this post might suggest, but a trek is involved (more on that later). I took a hell of a long time doing it. I’ll put a charitable spin on it and say, life got in the way of good intentions. Yup, that’s it. Whatever the case, I’ve finally rubbed the rust out of my psyche and am ready to rumble.

Beam me up Scottie.