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Book birthday! Celebrating my third year of being a self-published YA novelist.

Image by Will Clayton. Used under Creative Commons attribution License 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Today, Oct 4, is the official birthday of both of my comedic young adult horror novels, and GIRL LET’S EAT CAKE.

My second book, STONERS VS. MOANERS, launched last year, exactly two years after VEGAN TEENAGE ZOMBIE HUNTRESS, and as a direct result of my entrepreneurial efforts in publishing those two books myself, my life as an author became even more gratifying this past year. That’s not to say that being a writer/author/publisher is easy—HELL NO, it’s NEVER easy—but being an authorpreneur continues to bring me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise, if I had never dared to just do it.

Just after my second book launched, I was connected with an opportunity to mentor some amazing young aspiring authors in the arts of writing and publishing. Those kids blew me away and I’m still humbled by their talent and drive. I certainly wasn’t producing anything nearly as finished or as well-written as they did as high school students. The opportunity to work with them was a direct result of my own publishing activities, having taken charge of my own publishing career, I was brought in to coach them on the entrepreneurial aspects of indie publishing as well as the craft of writing, and it was deeply rewarding to share my knowledge with them. A few of them are very close to publishing their first books, and I’m a hugely proud mama.

The teens I mentored in writing and publishing this year. So talented!

This summer I was also hired by some coastal community libraries to teach my seminar “Marketing Your Self-Published Novel.”  It was an honor and a pleasure to drive out to places like Poulsbo and Port Orchard to teach aspiring writers who may not necessarily have the resources or time to come to a bigger city like Seattle to take a class. Plus, I always love a good coastal road trip, and the hubs and I turned those long weekends into working vacations, writing in front of a sweet water view when I wasn’t teaching. I met some lovely people, especially the proprietress of Mrs. Howes Bed and Breakfast, who is a writer as well. Her historic inn is lovely and she made us a gorgeous home-cooked breakfast every morning (her scones = DIVINE). She came to my workshop too, and I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to share my skills with her.

The folks who came to my workshop in Poulsbo.

But what about books sales, you ask?

My books at a Little Free Library

My books have continued to sell, though I honestly have not had the time to market as much as I did last year, so sales are not what they could have been. If you follow my blog, then you know I was deeply involved in a huge (painful) home repair and moving ordeal that sucked 6 months of my life into a hole. It was worth it though: I’m much happier in my new house. But I didn’t have time to sell books at conventions (which is where I do best sales-wise) or even be online that much, so yeah, my book sales were flatter than I wished. That said, my books still sold themselves via word of mouth, or sometimes sales would perk up after I’d donate some copies to Little Free Libraries. My overseas sales do continue to humble me—I manage to sell books in the UK and Germany without doing any effort to promote there. I heart everyone who’s out there, pushing my little book into people’s loving hands. Truly, it means a lot.

I have learned a lesson, though: online, book 2 does not sell as well as book 1. Book 2 follows some different characters on the same night, and while the characters from book 2 eventually connect with the characters from book 1, readers are disappointed that book 2 is not exactly another Cokie and Clarissa story. So, yes, lesson learned. It was a fun experiment, but did not land as well as I’d hoped. No worries, it’s all good.

My next big push is to crank out book 3, the prequel to VTZH, which will be all about Cokie. Giving readers what they want! I’m still about 5K words in, and I have tons of work to do. I think I might do it as a NaNoWriMo project this year. I recently proved to myself that I could writer faster than previously thought, having busted out the rough draft of a good 10K word story in 10 days for a zombie anthology. So, if I prepare myself well with an outline, there’s no reason that I couldn’t give the rough draft of book 3 a solid shot in November. Wish me luck!

In other news, since January I’ve sold a ton more short stories and poetry than last year, which is a pleasant surprise. My short pieces tend to be very different from my young adult work, more literary, sometimes a little darker, and really pushes my writing into new territory. After I finish the third book in my teen series, I might veer off in a sharply new direction inspired by these experiments in short fiction. Why not? I enjoy keeping my writing fresh and fun. PLUS, my short fiction has led to some pretty amazing things, like getting invited to the Ellipsis magazine launch party in Salt Lake City, Utah, to read my story “Let the Wild Ones Gather Them Home,” and I read alongside a fave teacher of mine—an author who blows me away: Matthew Gavin Frank. Hubs and I took a road trip to Moab afterwards—one of our bucket list destinations. Sweet! Thanks to Ellipsis for the opportunity to come to Utah!

Me with Ellipsis mag editor Alaa Al-Barkawi, and author Matthew Gavin Frank, where we read at the Ellipsis launch party in Salt Lake City.

My spooky post-partum depression and missing child story, “Let the Wild Ones Gather Them Home” printed in Ellipsis magazine.

Me at Skyline Arch, at Arches National Park in Moab. A jaw-droppingly spiritual place. Photo © David Silverman, 2017

That’s it for now.  Sign up for my e-news to keep on top of book 3, or check back here from time to time. Have a happy Halloween!

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