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.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Book Bub & Other Writing Updates

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Chasing Echoes was featured on Book Bub yesterday, and I never imagined what a crazy-fun process it would be! I knew Book Bub had a pretty far reach, but I was expecting maybe a thousand downloads. As of today the book is at 15,000+ downloads. To be clear, this doesn't mean 15K people are now reading my book. I'm a Book Bub subscriber myself and I tend to hoard freebies; the majority of them lie dormant on my Kindle, never read. I'll be lucky if 10% of the people who downloaded my book yesterday actually read it. I mean, really lucky, because 10% would be 1,500 new readers! That would be amazing. But I'm pretty convinced that the real numbers will be nowhere close to that percent. So what is a reasonable expectation for me to have? Book Bub has articles about this, but naturally their articles are slanted to getting authors to use their service, so they tend to put out the more optimistic stats. I like to take a pragmatic approach to things, so I've decided 1% is probably a reasonable expectation. I think it's safe to assume that 1 out of every 100 people who downloaded my book will probably read it. If this is the case, my campaign has 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, as it depends on the level of enjoyment each reader gleaned from the book.

Either way, I'm so happy I did this. It was exhilarating to see that many downloads, even if the book ultimately ends up lying dormant on Kindles. All of those downloads bumped my book up on Amazon's algorithms...even leading to THIS:

Currently Chasing Echoes is the #1 bestseller in Paranormal/Urban Fantasy and Time Travel Romance! It started yesterday and is still continuing today. Obviously my bestseller status will disappear once my campaign is over and new campaigns take its place, but I feel like my little obscure book is finally on the map, and it feels amazing.

In other news, Spring of Crows is at 48% completion, but I am really struggling with Phee's character. The problem is the book starts off right away with some intense action (since it continues where Black Lilies leaves off), requiring Phee to immediately rise to the occasion and be a bad ass. I know this all sounds good, but it's just falling flat, because we never get to see Phee's baseline character. We never get to see the shallow person she is under normal circumstances--when she's not dealing with a serial killer and an ice age--making it harder to 'root' for her and applaud her character growth. Also, Phee's little sister Krystal really wants to take over the story. It's technically Phee's book (told in first-person narration), with chapters here and there from Krystal's point of view (in third-person), but Krystal wants it to be her book. I'm really struggling with this. I feel like I'm forcing Phee's chapters when Krystal wants to narrate the events. But if I decide to give in and let Krystal take over, it would require mass rewriting of several chapters--not to mention Krystal is too young to narrate a young-adult book. So I need to figure out a way to get into Phee's head and let Phee take over this story. I have a feeling it's going to require me drinking a lot.

Another challenge: Owen, the love interest. I can't nail down his personality. I feel like I already burned through my desirable male personalities with Stryder and Kade, and I don't know how to give Owen a unique voice. I gave stoicism, broodiness and a dash of alpha male to Stryder, and I gave chivalry, gentleness, and confidence (with an air of arrogance) to Kade. So what's left for Owen? I don't want him to come across as some cookie cutter, 'insert love interest here' character, and I definitely don't want another Stryder or another Kade. But what does that leave me?

These challenges are far less than I experienced with Chasing Echoes and Black Lilies, so I'm not panicking over them. I just need to get this sorted out soon, because I can only hang in there for one more chapter tops before I've hit a wall with writing.