Monday, November 30, 2020


Since I'm no longer on Twitter, and since I suck at keeping up with my blog, I realized I needed a way to get updates out to Chasing Echoes readers. Whatever method I chose had to be something that wasn't too much of a time commitment, as history has proven repeatedly that I'm flaky with writing with any kind of regularity. So after discussing the issue with other writers, I decided to start a newsletter. The biggest selling feature for me is it's something I only have to send out once a month. I can do that! I feel good about this. (Zip it.) Anyway, here's the link if you (reader of this blog) would like to check it out:
Jodi's Newsletter. The first issue will most likely go out tomorrow. 

After I finish transferring some posts over to my author's website, I'll be letting go of this blog. It's not worth paying for my Ocean in a Cup URL anymore when I don't blog enough. This triggers all sorts of sad-feels in me but I'll skip all that for now. I still plan on blogging a little bit at my author's site, but you know how that goes. The newsletter will now be my main source for updates. Anyway, I'll do one more post here announcing that my blog has moved as soon as it's official.

Distance learning has had me swamped lately and I've been horrible with keeping up with anything, but to those of you whose blogs I usually follow, I hope/plan to catch up soon. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Deleting Twitter & Teaching on Zoom

I deleted Twitter. That place has become a cesspool. It got to the point where I asked myself if selling a few books was worth wading through the daily shrieking and finger-pointing on that site, and ultimately I decided I'd rather never sell a book again than see one more boycott hashtag or self-victimizing-drone who thinks their mindless bleating is original thought.


(^Also sorry that I'm not really sorry.)

Only problem is Twitter was kind of my only venue for selling books. I'm still on Facebook, but really that's for family and friends--people who already know I have a book out without being told via a post. Twitter was how I reached the outside world. Not sure how to circumvent that, but I have faith that it'll somehow work out. I'm just so relieved at this point to have the stink of Twitter out of my life, and book sales or not, I'll never stop writing.

Which, by the way, I'm now at 76% for Spring of Crows! My goal is to get to the 80% mark before we're back to work in person.

Speaking of, work is...weird. We started back to school on August 6th, but my county is on the COVID watch list, so students aren't allowed to be on campus right now. Us teachers are teaching our classes via Zoom. It sounds easier than teaching in person, but it's not. During the school day it's the same workload as regular teaching since we're doing live classes, but the behind-the-scenes planning is more intense because I have to make sure my lessons are easily understood and accessible to students working from home. Things I'd normally cover in class in five minutes can take a dozen emails back and forth. Not to mention all the technology meltdowns my district keeps experiencing. Despite all this, I'm kind of enjoying my job. It's mentally taxing trying to keep up with all the emails, engagement logs that the state is requiring, and so on, but physically I feel like I have more energy by the end of my workday. Plus my students are very sweet and very committed to coming to classes. We have a great rapport so far, even if we're all two-dimensional. It's also fun getting to meet their baby sisters and dogs, or having students respond to questions in-between bites of Top Ramen. Zoom classes expose you to layer of your students' lives that you'd never experience in a regular class setting.

That's it for now. Remind me to tell you about our weird Laughlin trip during my next post. :)

P.S. Still keeping comments off for awhile. Maybe permanently? It sucks because I do love hearing feedback on things I'm prattling on about, but at the same time I think I'd like to turn this blog back into the original 'journal' that it used to be ten years ago.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Blog Parasites

I'll do a real post soon. (Translation: anytime from tomorrow to next year). I just wanted to hop on here real quick to say I'm removing the ability to comment on my posts for a month or two. My blog has become a target for overseas spammers and bots, and I'm being bombarded through the comments. I.e. My last post is currently at 50 comments, and only four of them are from real people. It feels icky. I'm annoyed by how ridiculously impotent Blogger's spam filter is. Last week I adjusted my settings to where a Google sign-in is required, but it didn't help. Apparently spammers have Google accounts. The only thing left is to password-protect my blog (only people with the password can read it), but frankly my blog isn't juicy enough to require anything that drastic. So now I'm hoping that shutting down my comment window for a period of time will take me off the radar of all these blog parasites.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Planning a Vacation During a Pandemic

I feel like there should be sitcoms devoted to the comical ways life has changed since this pandemic. Like the fact that I received this in the mail yesterday:

It's from a Jehovah Witness who, due to social distancing, was unable to come to my door. Now their only path to converting all of us heathens is to hand write really long letters. I was so tickled by this little piece of mail that I almost didn't have the heart to throw it away. (Almost. I ended up throwing it in the fireplace. I do appreciate this lovely woman's effort, though).

But nothing beats trying to plan a vacation during a pandemic. Last year, my extended family (Mom, Dad, sister, brother in-law, nieces, etc.) and I booked a summer cruise to Alaska for my grandpa's 90th birthday, which falls on July 13, 2020. At the end of May, our cruise was cancelled. We were disappointed, but we moved on. We found a resort on the island of Kauai that was still welcoming tourists. We booked the resort and all our flights. In some ways, the new vacation sounded more fun than the original.

Then in June, Hawaii brought down the hammer. They decided that anyone flying into their islands would be required to be quarantined for fourteen days. Not a possibility for us, considering we were staying for only a week.

After that, Clint found an amazing deal for an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica. Jamaica has no travel restrictions or quarantine requirements--they're pretty much welcoming tourists with open arms. Clint and I went ahead and booked it. My mom and my niece were super excited, viewing this vacation as even better than the first two! The one caveat was my sister would now need to get passports for her kids super fast since we were only a month out from our vacation. No big deal; the passport agency is willing to expedite passports for an extra fee. 

Oh wait. No they're not. Not during a pandemic. Apparently a worldwide virus required them to downsize their staff and they no longer have enough employees to expedite passports. 

So we waved goodbye to our Jamaican dream. After that, the conversations regarding "Where should we go for vacation" reached ludicrous levels, with a lot of manic-type crying and kicking and screaming (along with some hair pulling) over the subject. Some ideas originally open for discussion due to the public reopening were quickly disregarded due to these same areas going down into lockdown again, or due to safety concerns with the recent looting/rioting (because, you know, a pandemic isn't enough. Let's throw social upheaval into the mix as well).

So what's the verdict? What did we decide to replace our beautiful Alaskan/Hawaiian/Jamaican trip with? Are you ready to be awed by the glamor of my upcoming vacation?

We're RV camping at a KOA about 2 hours from my house.


Yep. Most of life's 'new normals' are inherently unfunny, but there is some humor in all of this if you look hard enough. Like, really hard. Really really har--yeah, okay. I hate this sh*% too.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

BookBub is a Game Changer

I'm going to avoid talking about things happening in our nation right now because this is basically us:
To Hell in a Handbasket Postcard |
So instead, I'll give some quick writing updates. I'm finally making some headway with Spring of Crows again! I got a little stuck with Owen's character and with Phee not wanting to embrace her role as narrator, but both of those problems have worked themselves out. Clint sat down with me and helped me outline Part 2 of the book, and honestly it's so much better than I could have pulled off on my own. I love having his guy humor to sprinkle in my stories. 

In other writing-related news, I'm still experiencing an impact from the BookBub promotion I ran three weeks ago. I've been using a spreadsheet to keep track of everything, and here's where I'm at as of today:

In a previous post, I had stated the following: 
" campaign has [probably] given me 150 + new readers. I'm hoping of these, about half of them will reach the end of the novel and purchase the sequel, but I have no research or stats to support this..."
So at the time, I was hoping I'd have about 75 readers purchase Black Lilies. And look what I ended up with! 121 paid units sold. This is why I love keeping my expectations on the low (and maybe slightly grim) side.

But the best part of all of this came from a totally unexpected source: Kindle Unlimited. BookBub typically avoids listing books that are enrolled in KU, for two reasons: 

  1. BookBub prefers promoting books that can be found at multiple retailers. KU books are available through Amazon only (KU is like the Netflix of books, priding themselves in offering exclusives that can be found at no other retailers).
  2. BookBub's entire claim to fame is free (or dramatically discounted) books, but that claim falls flat if a book is already available for free outside of the BookBub promotion through the Kindle Library.

Since my book was enrolled in KU, it should have never been accepted by BookBub. And honestly I totally forgot that Chasing Echoes was even listed under KU when I applied for BookBub, because I've never made any money through the lending library. A needle in a haystack is a needle in a haystack, whether it costs money or is free. But through a crazy accidental loophole (I'll skip the details right now), BookBub accepted my novel. Best accident ever. On the first day of my promotion, I had over 12,000 free downloads of Chasing Echoes, and it bumped me so high in Amazon's algorithms that Kindle Unlimited subscribers were now having my book recommended to them. Out of nowhere, my needle in a haystack was being found! Even once my five day promotion ended, the number of pages read through KU kept going strong. When Clint saw this, he talked me into enrolling Black Lilies into KU as well. At first I was reluctant because the whole point of giving Chasing Echoes away for free is to attract new readers, knowing that those who enjoy the free book will purchase the sequel. It's common knowledge in the indie world that you don't make money from your first book--that first novel is nothing more than bait. For KU, on the other hand, authors get paid about half a cent for every page read. But Clint and I did the math, and it turns out that if someone borrows Black Lilies from the Kindle Lending Library and reads it from beginning to end, I make the same amount of money as if they had purchased the book. So I decided to enroll Black Lilies in KU too. This would allow Kindle Unlimited subscribers to glide straight from Chasing Echoes into Black Lilies, and it'd be the same as me selling that second book. 

Anyway, here's my estimated royalties for May (estimated because the money per page varies anywhere from .4 to .5 of a cent):

Check out how many pages were read before May 12. (Spoiler alert, it was none.) 😜 My ad started on the 12th. The blue bar is Chasing Echoes, the orange is Black Lilies. There should be a point where blue drops down as readers switch over to Black Lilies, but it hasn't happened yet. 

We're only six days into June, but here's June's data so far:

By tomorrow I'll have made $1000! I know this kind of steam can't last much longer (I'm seeing a small dip these past few days that might be permanent), but like I said a few posts ago, it feels so good to have my book(s) on the map. I'm just really kicking myself now that I didn't wait until the final book in the series was out to run my BookBub promotion. My readers are reaching the cliffhanger ending of book 2, with book 3 pending for at least another year. By the time book 3 is released, my readers will have lost interest. Dumb dumb dumb. But I honestly had no idea that my promotion would get accepted, let alone have these kind of results. So...I'll just keep trying to focus on the positive.

If you've authored an engaging series, I highly recommend that you apply for BookBub. And since you'll probably be rejected the first time out, apply again. Then again. Then one more time. It's worth it.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Little Greenhouse in the Big Woods

On a thread in my FB gardening group earlier, I mentioned that "a resurgence in gardening seems to be one of the more pleasant side effects of this quarantine." 

In reality, a resurgence of all hobbies has been a side effect. Last month I posted this question on facebook:

It was surprising to see how many replies this simple question prompted. There was such a crazy variety of activities mentioned--everything from home improvement projects to trying new recipes to building furniture from scratch. People were eager and proud to share their best coping strategies for dealing with a societal shutdown. It was pretty cute.

So my stay-home hobby has been gardening. My sis and I both became obsessed with growing things last month. Unfortunately where I live gardening is sketchy. Not only is my house on a slope, but we're on the shady side of the mountain and only get direct sunshine in any given spot for an hour or two a day. Adding to that is our elevation, which can lend itself to lower temperatures at night, even in spring. All of this makes it tricky to figure out what will actually grow here. 

So to resolve these issues, we leveled out a small piece of our property in the sunniest spot in our yard, built a short retaining wall with cinder blocks, and put in a little greenhouse!

Isn't it so dang cute?! This thing has become my joy. Clint even installed fairy lights on the inside so I can visit my plants at night. I was so worried that my veggies and flowers wouldn't make it because even though this is the sunniest part of my yard, it still only gets direct sunlight for maybe ninety+ minutes, then partial sunlight during various parts of the day. I've heard that tomatoes need 5-6 hours of daily sunlight, so I wasn't sure if things would actually grow. But after nearly a month, everything in my greenhouse is thriving! The tomatoes and peas have doubled in size, and all the seedlings in Trin's ball jars have taken off. So I think that even though our sunlight is limited, the greenhouse turns it into supersized UV rays or something. (←Totally scientific.)

Shan built a greenhouse too--before ours was up, actually--and it's awesome. Trin and my niece Cass have also gotten into gardening (all those ball jars in my greenhouse are Trin's), and my mom's yard looks like something from a magazine. So with all of these emerging green thumbs, we've been sharing our garden adventures with each other via Marco Polo. It's fun to have a common interest to share with my family.

Though suddenly I'm wondering if I got into gardening out of sheer pressure. 😂

Oh well. I love it. If you yourself are still stuck at home, I hope you've found yourself a good quarantine anti-drug.