Motivational Monday– Year in Review

In my weekly chat with my author friends Zoe Burton and Leenie Brown, we discussed our top ten best sellers for 2018. I’m inordinately proud of myself. 2018 was probably the hardest year of my life emotionally. We moved twice. The first time was to my childhood town and for reasons I won’t get into here, I lost any residual social net I had. It’s a special form of torment to know you are friendless in the world and to fear seeing reminders of happier days everywhere you go. By the time we had to move again, it was a welcome relief.

In the first part of the year, I also suffered through bouts of extreme intestinal issues. I ended up doing a colonoscopy and an endoscopy but both turned up inconclusive. There was no medical reason for my constant bathroom trips.

I also started the year by homeschooling my autistic son but his ABA therapists recommended he try public school, even though the school was only willing to put him in an Autism program at a different school. It involved driving an extra 20 minutes each way and for a time, he was secluded in a secure room with nothing but a chair and a table. All supplies were kept in the hallway. He was also released after only 2 hours. Eventually, he adjusted to school rules and finished the year entirely integrated in the first grade classroom, going a full day, and without an aide. His improvement was amazing!

I put Secrets of Pemberley on a pre-order so I would force myself to write and finish it. I had learned from so many other moves that I would get busy with life adjustments and allow myself to be too depressed to work. It was close, but I got it done in time!

I experimented by putting The Secrets of Pemberley in Kindle Unlimited. It pays the author by the number of pages read. Therefore a novel will likely earn more than a novella unless the novella attracts far more readers. Since The Secrets of Pemberley was a long novel, I thought it would do well in Kindle Unlimited. I thought it would attract new readers as well. Unfortunately, that did not end up being true. I compared the numbers between SOP and my other novel releases and I had the exact number of my people who usually buy, who didn’t this time, had read the book and I got paid less for it. It didn’t attract extra readers at all. I took it out of KU after the first 90 days and since then, it’s slowly earned nearly $9,000. I would usually have earned that in the first 90 days.

After its release at the end of March, my intestinal issues increased. It was impossible to work much on anything. Inexplicably, they stopped in June, just when we were moving.

Again, I knew I needed to set a goal to meet. I put the first book of the Loving Elizabeth series on pre-order for early July. I set a personal goal for myself to do all three books back to back. I planned on releasing the second one in August and the third one in September or maybe October, depending on how school went for my kids. I pushed hard and released Reunited at the end of July!

Since their release, Pledged and Reunited have earned $2800 each and nearly everyone who has bought Pledged has bought Reunited. The sales are a little lower than my novellas usually get. However, I believe that is due to the fact that they were a series.

I didn’t get as much done in August as I had planned. I went out of town for the Younique convention (I also sell makeup), my husband was out of town, and my son had issues with his day camp. We had planned to travel some in the month and that didn’t work out. Teddy was also sick with strep once. I had a UTI before the convention and just felt awful and run down after it.

The kids started school in September and I was a basket case of nerves. I could tell right away there were going to be issues with the school and following Teddy’s IEP. I didn’t expect them to not communicate with me at all, to ban me from his classroom, or to have a new rule every single day.

We evacuated for a hurricane in the second week of September and then it was like starting all over again with school and routines. On September 20, I got told that I’m officially a diabetic. I had already lost 10 pounds since August by cutting out eating out so much. I began a low carb regimen and have lost another 20 pounds–although it did not always stay off as I ate off plan many times.

My daughter also had many outbursts and escalated defiant and violent behavior. Deciding enough was enough, I got her an emergency evaluation through the local community services board since it was going to take weeks before a pediatrician could get her in and then weeks after that before they could refer her to a pediatric psychologist. They erroneously diagnosed her with Oppositional Defiance Disorder after watching her for 20 minutes. Thankfully, I had a few friends who were suggesting I research what Autism was like for girls. I am glad I did because I noticed she had trouble at transitions, she had huge expectations that she couldn’t let go, that she mostly mimicked other kids but didn’t seem to really engage with them, and loads of more signs. I decided to write down her entire life history and things became so much more clear after that. Unfortunately, the services at the Community Services Board were unhelpful. They completely ignored my daughter and talked solely to me and about things like saying no. Well, goodness. I just had never thought of that before! *eyeroll*

Finally, she had an appointment with a pediatrician who mentioned a pediatric psychologist who didn’t have long wait times. Unfortunately, she didn’t accept our insurance and we had to pay for it entirely out of pocket. We were blessed that we had the money for that, though. After several sessions which lasted several hours, she has been diagnosed with mild Autism, borderline severe ADHD, anxiety, and depression. She begins ABA and play therapy later this month.

At the same time, things were coming to a head for my son at his school. They had an IEP meeting in which they threw out everything his past instructor made and didn’t even remotely follow the federal laws. I am still deciding if I want to bring a case against them. My husband and I decided to give them another try for a few more weeks and during that time, I knuckled down.

I finished Treasured and it went live on November 20, just a few days before I withdrew my kids to homeschool. I managed to finish my Christmas story for the year, How Darcy Saved Christmas in the first week of homeschooling and it was published on December 4. Together, those books have earned about $2,000 in a little over a month.

I also released a backlist anthology toward the end of October. My big anthologies are great income producers. I find a common theme or something that can bind the stories together. They’re typically several hundred pages long. Desperately Mr. Darcy is over a thousand pages. Even though they’re older stories, it’s my top earner of the year, coming in at just over $10,000.

All in all, my new releases earned $16,450 this year. My backlist anthologies earned $17,500. That means my stand alone back list made $11,613. I rang in the New Year at $45,000 for the year which was $12,000 more than I made in 2017. I published 5 unique works in 2018, compared to only 3 in 2017. I don’t know how The Maid of Inverness is fairing, as I only get quarterly reports. However, I count that as simply extra unexpected money. It’s worth noting that several books from my backlist have earned more this year than new releases did. Mr. Darcy’s Bluestocking Bride earned $3500 for the year and Mr. Darcy’s Miracle at Longbourn earned $1100.

I said in my opening I’m proud of how I did for the year and I would be at any rate. $45,000 is nothing to sneeze at, even if it’s not all profits. A growth of $12,000 in a year is great for a small business. But what really makes me proud is when I look at the difference between that and when I began publishing. I’m not in competition with anyone but myself! At the end of 2014, I had earned (not even received) $6,700. I looked at that number and thought that I should keep publishing to help my family. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be earning $45,000 a few years later. I can also tell you, no one else thought I would be either. It took a few pay checks for my husband to see publishing my stories as anything other than a hobby. It took years before I told anyone else–even my mother. Once I did, the reactions were usually skeptical. They also all thought that I would quit before too long.

Well, I have proved something to myself and all of them! I have kept this up during 7 moves, 2 autism diagnosis, 5 new schools for my kids, 2 stints at homeschooling, 3 severe medical issues for myself, and more bouts with anxiety and depression than I can count. There is no guaranteed income in publishing. There’s no steady paycheck I’m getting even if I write 40 hours a week. I have to write what people want to read. I have to FIND those readers. I’ve written every word of 27 books. I’ve found readers for each and every one of them. And they’re books that are still finding their way to readers even 4 years after their publication.

Let me leave this post with this word to you. You can accomplish anything! Don’t look at where you are! Look at where you want to be! Set the goal, then do the work. Believe in yourself, I do!

Motivational Monday– Slow Progress

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A lot of writers spend November manically trying to write 50,000 words in a month for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo). It’s really not so unattainable for the average full-time writer. It averages out to 1667 words a day, which I can do in about an hour. As long as I know what I’m writing… And the hardest part is always the consistency–doing it every day. If you miss a day, then you’re playing catch up and trying to add to it. Miss more than one and it’s even harder etc.

November is a hard month for me. The first time I tried NaNo was in 2014. I had two published stories (well, one was on pre-order). I had completed several other stories before but had never tried to do an entire novel in one month. I got sooo close! If memory serves, I got to 45,000 words and had one day left. I could have made it. However, I was moving literally the next day and my kids–only 4 and 1 at the time–needed a return to normalcy. My son has Autism Spectrum Disorder the fall wreaks havoc on his routine. He shifts from waking up at 6 am to waking up at 5 am. He just turned 8 and by now, I have accepted this. In 2014, I was far less prepared to accept the reality of more 5 am (or earlier) wakeups.

I’m mentioning my history with NaNo because the other day I saw a Facebook status which upset me. It was a memory of one of my status from 2014. I was working on a story in which Darcy was to inherit Longbourn and Lady Catherine’s rector. Essentially, he was Mr. Collins. How would Elizabeth react? About 20,000 words into it, I realized this should just be an original story. I had already started writing the story before November began, so I realized that within a few days of the month. I spent the remainder of the month working on that story and changed all the names and tried to make it not like Pride and Prejudice. Then November ended and I froze. The almost completed manuscript is still on my hard drive.

I didn’t stop there though. I did turn my attention to other things but for the last four years, I have dusted off that manuscript every few months. I’ve sent it to beta readers and asked if it should really be an original. I’ve even thought that I could do both–make an original and keep the premise of Darcy in Collins’ place and write two different stories. In 2016, I came up with a series theme focusing on one real-life event from the Regency era per book. I had a few other non-JAFF stories that would work perfectly in the series. However, I had the most words on this story and it would have been the last one in the series. So I started on what was supposed to be Book One. Last year, I realized that book is really a prequel and they don’t do well until the rest of the series is out. I abandoned that story. Earlier this year, I realized that I should just round out the books and make it the full Regency. I started on the new Book One of the series and gave everything new titles. The Baronet’s Heart is now Tempting Scandal. I began posting but then got caught up with other things.

Can you see why I’m disappointed in myself? So much start and stop. So little progress. But is it really? I have learned a lot about myself, writing, my goals and so much more during each of these stops.

Oh, there’s more that I could be disappointed about. Things never go according to plan. I’m working on 2019 goals right now and know I won’t reach half of them. Sigh. However, this pic has reminded me that forward is forward and looking back at my supposed “failings” doesn’t help a thing!

When is a time you had to focus on just moving forward and not worrying about the timing? Or is there something in your life right now that this could apply to? Oh, and in case you were curious, my goal this November is to write at least 500 words every day! I did miss one, but instead of despairing I just said, “The whole point is to learn to do better and be more consistent. I will make mistakes at the beginning, but hopefully, by the end of the month I will be doing better.” That’s MAJOR progress for me, a perfectionist in recovery!

Monday Motivation– Life is Like a Camera

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Have you heard? Emma Approved is back! I discovered The Lizzie Bennet Diaries years after they came out. LBD is actually my favorite adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Don’t hate me! I think it really gets the point that the book is from Elizabeth’s point of view, that everything is framed in how she sees the world and the people in it and she’s not unbiased. I think it also shows her flaws and prejudices–how she grows. The spin off of Lydia Bennet‘s story shows the emotional abuse that Lydia goes through at the hands of Wickham which I think really adds a new dimension to her. Anyway, by the time I watched LBD, Emma Approved was out but I never watched it. I recently heard they are coming out with a second season so I had to binge Season One.

My kids were around for the last few episodes and we had some interesting conversations. Emma Approved really hones in on Emma’s need for perfectionism. She wants to better the lives of other people. While she’s confident in her abilities, she’s not conceited. Other people can make mistakes and get back up–but if Emma makes a mistake it’s like she wants to flay herself. That’s something that I can relate to so much and so can my kids.

My son has autism and has a very big perfectionism streak. If he even thinks he can’t do something perfect it can trigger a meltdown. Does he communicate it that way? No. With the autism he has trouble with emotional regulation. My daughter has ADHD and possibly Autism as well (we’re in the middle of evaluation for her). She can be so self-critical. She will avoid things that take more effort–which is becoming a lot of school things.

In the final episodes of Emma Approved, Emma crosses a line. Stressed to the max, she loses her filter. Just like Austen’s Emma, she insults Miss Bates. Then…well, then nearly everyone is mad at her and Emma crumples under the wake of disappointing so many people, including those closest to her. I told my kids that I have had to learn the lesson Emma was learning. I had to learn that I was allowed to make mistakes and try again to be better. I asked my son if he felt like he had to be perfect and he said yes. My daughter, always the talkative one, offered without me asking that she gets upset with herself all the time because she can’t write a 2 the correct way and instead always makes an S.

When I found this quote, I knew I wanted to share it on the blog. I think I’ll talk to the kids about this idea too. Remember the best moments, learn from the bad ones, and try again when things don’t turn out. I’d also add that sometimes when things don’t turn out as you wanted, it can still be a perfectly good photo.

What about you? Do you see moments in your life where these words have held true for you?

Monday Motivation– Good in every day

Good morning! It’s another Monday. Find some good in it!

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This actually reminds me of my author chat with Leenie Brown and Zoe Burton last Saturday. Our topic was “distractions” and we ended the discussion with the idea that living mindfully and intentionally looking for the good in each day and remembering your focus every day will help redirect your attention. I could get distracted by a Facebook post but no…that’s not my goal today. My goal is to write 1500 words. I could relive the horrors of a bad morning but no…the good that happened this day was that I was able to sit and write for the first time in a week.

It’s so simple and yet so powerful. Tell me about some of the good in your day!

Here’s the video I mentioned! You might have to join our Facebook group called Longbourn Literary Society.

 

Monday Motivation–Be Happy

With school starting soon, I feel like it’s a good time to re-evaluate what I’m doing on the blog and what changes I should make. This is timely given the author chat between me, Leenie Brown, and Zoe Burton last week on the topic of consistency. I’ve been fairly regular on a few themes for the blog this summer but honestly…I am a bit bored. I don’t ALWAYS want to post about music on Mondays. I don’t ALWAYS want to make Thursdays be a short story or a story excerpt etc. Also, there are certain things that take far more time to create content for. Mr. Darcy and the Bewitched Sisters and Tempting Scandal should be posted in more than 500 word excerpts. Does that mean I will have more than 500 words ready each week? No. Instead, I’ll be rotating a few options. I’m still deciding on the schedule but it will be consistent. One Friday a month will be Mr. Darcy and the Bewitched Sisters. I hope to have a new chapter per post. If not, a new scene–which previously would take two to four weeks to post–will be available. On the other Fridays, there will be other options. You get the drift.

So, this Monday is Monday Motivation. Music Monday is not gone forever, just getting spaced out a bit. Here’s some motivation for the week for you. 1a1fcf78efc0a02b008f6a98a99a3d40

“You will be exactly as happy as you decide to be.” I truly believe this is the key to happiness and success in life. I didn’t always understand what it meant. Happiness is one of the few things in life you have direct control over. Can things try to influence it? Can you momentarily feel any other number of emotions? Definitely! But you can choose to be happy.

I am not criticizing people struggling with depression or grief. I’m using happiness as the antithesis of sad or discontent. If your life isn’t what you want it to be, what can you do to change it? What will make you happy? Plot out what you need to do to make it happen–then do it! And along the way, be happy.

On the other hand, if you do have depression or are struggling with grief, please know you are not alone. There are infinite resources on the internet that can give you a community. Seek help from trained therapists and professionals. It is not a weakness to admit you need assistance. It makes you brave as so many stay silent.

You deserve the best life. You HAVE the best life. It’s yours and the only one you’ve got so be happy whether the sun is shining or there’s a storm that has ruined all your plans.

Positivity Monday- Be the Reason

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I don’t know if I’ve shared this image and quote before, but I think about it a lot. With everything going on in the world, I still believe in the goodness of people.

A boy from my church is undergoing testing on his liver. His blood isn’t clotting right, and his liver and spleen are enlarged. It means he has to quit playing on the football team, which means the world to him. Friday night was the first game of the season. He stood on the side lines as a coach. Afterwards, both teams gathered around and prayed for him.

I’m sure there were some kids on the team that don’t believe in God. I’m sure there were people in the stands that didn’t either. Whether they prayed or not, doesn’t matter so much. The point is, they had been rivals on a field of play but still banded together to care about one of their own. Each one of those players were able to think about how hard it would be on them to give up the sport they love so much. Every person in the stands was able to think about how hard it would be on them if their loved one was going through this. And if they disagreed with the mode that the concern was expressed, they remained respectful. Maybe they prayed to their God(s) by a different name. Maybe they just sent good thoughts. Maybe they didn’t care one way or the other, but they recognized it was very serious for others. No riots broke out. No one pulled out signs to protest. No one shouted at another, trying to force their understanding of the world down another’s throat.

This to me proves the goodness in people. We can be different and coexist. We can be different and respect one another. We can be different and love.

Do you have a story of seeing the good in humanity?

Positivity Monday- You’re Worth It!

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My husband’s out of town for a week. The first of many such trips. It’s a lot easier with my mom living with us than it used to be but still, I’m going to need this reminder this week. I can do anything. And so can you! What would you do if you could do anything in the world?