Monday, September 17, 2012

A Rush of Blood to the Limbic System

As I'm sure many of you know, Romance is quite a popular genre - and why shouldn't it be? Romance itself is such a wonderful high, and who doesn't get a thrill out of reading about the sexual tension and lust between two deeply involved characters?

"Romance fiction sales remained relatively steady in 2010, though dipping slightly to $1.358 billion from $1.36 billion in 2009. And romance fiction continued its dominance of the consumer market at 13.4 percent (in terms of revenue of market categories), beating out mystery, science fiction/fantasy, and religion/inspirational titles." - Romance Writers of America

But what is love, really? Why do we get such a high from "falling in love"?

There is actually a physiological reason behind it all, and it's more than just "(s)he's crazy lol".

For those who took any basic psychology courses in college, or maybe even high school, you probably know that the frontal cortex of our brain is in charge of reasoning and decision making. From this, most of you can probably infer that the cortex is not highly involved in our decisions when it comes to romance.

Why do we get so crazy when we "fall in love"? Why are so many of us drawn to that feeling of new love? Why do we chase it, yearn for it, lust for it?

I strongly encourage all romance novelists and romance novel fans to check out this article, "Limbic Love", on the American Scientist website. It briefly discusses why we get those crazy, emotionally-charged feelings when we start falling in love, and the answer is fairly simple: the limbic system.

Those crazy feelings of love, jealousy, and euphoria? The limbic system. Those crazy acts of slapping that person who dared giving "the look" to your significant other? That's the brain redirecting the flow of blood from the cortex (remember: logic, decision-making, etc.) to the limbic system (emotions).

The limbic system is responsible for that Velcro collision called "falling in love." If our limbic patterning is off when it comes to love, we can suffer endless trouble, write psychiatrists Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini and Richard Lannon in A General Theory of Love. Dreams of falling in love and living happily ever after spin out of "the airy regions of the cortex, which drafts its scripts using imagination, logic and will."

But what happens after that? What happens when the initial "falling in love" ends, and the real relationship begins? And I don't mean the "real relationship" to mean the day you two lovebirds officially mark the day you went steady; I'm talking about the hard work of maintaining a steady, long-term relationship...a topic many romance novelists fail to cover.

Loving is limbically different from being in love. Loving is "synchronous attunement and modulation. As such, adult love depends critically upon knowing the other." Loving is what happens after the limbic thrill is gone, and it's more substantial than that thrill: "In a dazzling vote of form over substance, our culture fawns over the fleetingness of being 'in love' while discounting the importance of 'loving.'"

It's not exactly exciting to write entire novels about a couple finding their first apartment, paying the bills, and fighting over which brand of toilet paper to buy. But it's not to say it isn't important to discuss. Love and marriage isn't all about passionate lovemaking and blasting "your song" through the window at night - it's about coming together and creating a symbiotic relationship together. Your lover should also be your partner and your best friend; without such a bond, the "love" between a couple will eventually fade.

With that, I leave you all with a quote from one of my favorite novels, Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières:

“Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don't blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being "in love", which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.”

Friday, September 14, 2012

Scenes from "The Night Life" - Richard's Father's Almost-Death

And I saw it – I saw my father open his mouth to speak. His careful words began as nothing more than a small, almost inaudible groan resulting from the failed attempt at actual speech. For a brief moment, I actually believed he was dying, because his muffled groan was actually quite terrifying despite its struggling weakness. Why didn’t I act sooner? I could have saved him before it was too late. And when his head started to fall to the right, I briefly panicked, thinking that he had finally met the grim reaper.

“You see what you’ve done?!” I shouted.

“Richard, he’s not dead,” Patrick pointed out.

“Of course he is!”

“He’s still breathing.”

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Trampled by Turtles.

I went to the Trampled by Turtles show the other night in Steamboat Springs and got some pretty sweet photos out of the deal.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What Smoke Does to the Sky

Sorry guys, I'm pretty inept at getting good pictures, especially of sunsets. I fail at sunsets, apparently.

But yeah, these pictures are the result of the Squirrel Creek Fire, burning about 35 miles southwest of here.

Red Sunset.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Colorado is Ablaze!

Above is a map (made by Theoretican on Reddit and posted to /r/Colorado) of the newly-developed Waldo Canyon Fire near Colorado Springs. I'm not in Colorado Springs right now, but I grew up there, and I've seen pictures, and it looks like it's pretty visible from pretty much everywhere in the city. It looks like mandatory evacuations were put into place for Manitou Springs, which is about a half hour drive from where I grew up.

Most everybody I know lives in either the north or the east of the city, though, so I have no worries there. Though I do hope that this fire doesn't spread too much. Though it has been pretty hot, and coupled with the fact that we had a pretty mild and dry winter, things aren't boding well for these fires in general.

Meanwhile, closer to where I live, the second largest fire in Colorado history is burning near Fort Collins. I was actually in Fort Collins last Friday, and it's pretty hazy down there (and also much warmer - I think it got to about 100 yesterday). This one has affected us more, though again, we're not in any danger. Below is a photo of the fire I took on June 4th - obviously, it's gotten a bit worse since then.

For those interested, here are a few relevant articles to check out:

Friday, June 22, 2012

Why Do Commercials Need to Emphasize Makeup and "Girl Stuff" To Appeal to Women?

I really don't understand this. I'm a female in science, and I've never needed lipstick and blush to make it better.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sales Thus Far; Some Thoughts

I don't know why, but I really like talking about sales numbers and money made.

The irony is that, if I were actually doing well (as in, enough to actually live off of), I would probably never talk about this stuff. Nobody wants to read about me bragging about how awesome I'm doing as a writer living the dream.

However, as you can see from the chart above, I've made less than $150 in five months. Actually, I think that's pretty brag-worthy, because it's $150 more than I expected to make.

[Also, for the record, it's 17 days into June, and I've sold nothing this month.]

Why are some months better than others? With January, at least, you have the fact that many people had just received Kindles, AND KDP Select was pretty awesome, since not everybody had yet jumped on the bandwagon. I actually did quite well with free promotions (the best being my very first, a one day promotion with The Dowry getting over 800 downloads).

March, on the other hand, was due to a fluke in the system - shortly after a botched free promotion (where it ended up lasting about half a day longer than it should have), I received about 14 total purchases of both Family History: Part 1 and Part 2.

Here's another interesting tidbit: I gave up seriously advertising my books sometime in March. I assumed that this was why I got so few purchases in April; however, I actually did fairly well in May without any advertising or free promotion days. I'm still not sure what happened in May, though if I remember right, every purchase occurred in the first half of the month.

On the other hand, I've had literally no sales thus far for June. Again, I've done very little advertising. Perhaps people are spending less time browsing Amazon in the summertime? I would be interested to hear what experiences other people have with this (if any).

Funny, I Thought Everyone Hated Internet Explorer

All-Time Pageviews by Browser for Predicted Hindsight

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Nothing to Blog About

I've apparently become so boring that I've run out of things to blog about.

I think that I need to learn how to create something out of nothing - create stories from mundane, every day life events. That, or I just need to make it so that my life is more exciting.

Honestly, though, the most exciting thing that has happened today, was that I received an unexpected Skype call, from somebody I've been actively avoiding (and actively telling everybody to avoid). I was listening to music, and my laptop was plugged in to my speakers. Some people were sitting in the room, and the unexpected Skype music started blaring through the speakers. I was confused, because I don't even know what Skype music sounds like. I still don't remember it exactly.

The first time it happened, I walked over to my computer, saw who the call was from, and pressed DECLINE as I shouted "NOOOOO."

My boyfriend, who saw the identity of the caller, muttered "Prick," under his breath.

When I received a second call not two minutes later from the same person, I repeated the same action - I once again shouted "NOOOOO" at my computer while pressing "Decline".

I really enjoy animating my actions.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ad Sense

I seem to have gotten a large jump in page views recently, though I'm not really sure why.

Sadly, they're not helping my book sales.


(For those who don't know, it's somewhat of a reference to an old Simpson's episode, where they subliminally try to convince people to join the Navy with a song that says JOIN THE NAVY backwards.)

Anyways, I've decided to put adsense in, if I'm getting all of these unsolicited page views anyways.

I still have no clue where they're coming from.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Something That Hasn't Been Commercialized.

While waiting in line to buy flowers for Mother's Day (I know, cliche, isn't it?), boyfriend mentioned, "Flowers used to be free, then somebody commercialized them."

Then, I tried thinking of something that hasn't been packaged and sold. Water? Dirt? Heck, somebody even thought to package and sell rocks, one at a time, in the form of a pet rock. "The guy made a million dollars!"

Honestly, if I set my mind to it, I can make a pretty damn good looking bouquet from flowers growing the the park. I've done it before. You just have to be willing to use those so-called weeds.

By the way, why are dandelions weeds? Not only are they a gorgeous color, but you can eat them. Why are we trying to kill them all the time? If anything, they're prettier than the grass we try so hard to make look perfect.

Also, what's up with Homeowner's Associations? You know, speaking of lawns and all that. But yeah, I honestly don't understand them half of the time - it seems like you're paying fees, for what? For people to send out letters telling you your lawn looks terrible (because there's been a drought, duh!). I know, I know, they keep property values up, or something, or they keep your neighborhood from looking like the projects. Or something. Is it obvious I'm not a homeowner?

Also, in case I haven't said it: Happy Mother's Day, everybody! Especially to mothers. Thanks for giving birth to the rest of the world!

Friday, May 11, 2012

"You Must Be KT." (Or, the story of how I was almost recognized at ~13,000 Feet.)

Tonight, I had to go back and scour my Twitter (and by that, I mean scroll down a little bit) for a tweet about summitting a mountain.

You see, I was hiking up a mountain yesterday, and on the way down, this lady looks at me and says, "You must be KT."

I immediately went into a small panic, because I was suddenly thinking that I had an insanely thorough stalker. Or at least, a stalker who scoured my Reddit account for information on me. Which, if you're really thorough, could probably get you quite a lot of information.

Of course, not wanting to immediately give away my super secret author identity, I laughed it off with a half-hearted, "What are you talking about?" kind of answer.

(At this point, I'm aware that this story is likely to sound completely made up. Seriously, though, this is 100% true...which is why it's so god damn weird.)

"Somebody wrote, 'I heart KT' in the snow back there."

(DISCLAIMER: I did not write my own "initials" in the snow. That's a silly and ineffective form of advertising.)

"Oh, okay," I said.

The lady and her male counterpart hiked in the opposite direction, while boyfriend and I continued to walk down the mountain for a ways, until I looked at him. He knew what I was thinking, and he teased me on the origin of the initials of my pseudonym. Of course, my thoughts at the time were along the lines of, "What in the world did I post on Twitter?"

The two of us continued to walk, heading down the mountain, when suddenly, we came upon it. We came upon the (now infamous) "I heart KT."

Again, I would like to point out that I did not write this, and according to my boyfriend, neither did he.

However, whoever was on Barr Trail near Colorado Springs and wrote this for whatever reason, I think you ought to know that you damn near gave me a heart attack.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Eight Days in, and I've Already Sold More Books This Month than in All of April.

...and that's without and KDP Select Promotions, or really...any promotion.

Maybe I just got lucky? Go figure.

So far, though, March is my best month, at twenty-two books sold.

And, if I remember correctly, I haven't sold a single copy of The Dowry since February. But, that's okay - nobody was supposed to buy that one anyways.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bad Photography (We All Make Mistakes).

Sure, it's cool to show off all of our good writing, and our good artwork. But, let's face it - it's not 100% realistic. Because we all take terrible pictures. And we all write terrible first drafts. And, pretty much everything we do on the first try is terrible. So, let's at least have some fun. (But, for the sake of "having fun", I'm going to title them like I think they're freaking works of art, because fun.)

Breathtaking Photo of a Monkey Hanging Out in a Tree

Amazing, One-of-a-Kind Photo of Nature's Most Beautiful and Dangerous Wonders - The Almighty Flame

A Majestic Sunset Over Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

A Breathtaking View of Colorado Springs, CO

Beautiful Photograph of a Coloradan Forest in the Summertime

A Roadside View of Some Lovely Green Trees

A Reminder that All Life is Fragile - Stunning Photograph of a Dying Tree

So We've Found Our Problem. We've Justified that the Problem Needs to Be Fixed. Now What?

Today, I had somebody ask me if a reason was a solution.

"Young girls should have better access to birth control [specifically Plan B] because it is safe."


First off, I'm going to start off simple here, by going to and searching the word "Solution."

Solution: the act of solving a problem, question, etc.: The situation is approaching solution.

How does telling you that something is safe solve anything?

Yes, I did say, "Girls should have better access to birth control," but I didn't propose a solution to the problem.

Nowhere in that statement did I say, "Consider writing to your representatives about the issue" or "Consider starting a petition about eliminating restrictions for girls to acquire Plan B."

Because those are solutions. Or at least, that's as close as we can get to solutions.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Another Guest Post

Lately, I have this habit of not writing anything on my own blog, but writing halfway decent posts for other people to put on their blogs.

What's up with that?

Anyways, today I am featured on Cassandera Carr's Blog. Check it out:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I've Been Getting Lazy on the Blogging; Either Way, Here's Some More Photos.

To all those who may or may not care, I apologize for my recent lack of blogging. Seriously, I have no idea what's gotten into me.

Of course, in a few days, March Sales Reports will be released - that should be a semi-exciting blog post (ha ha, not really).

If you do pay attention, you may have noticed that I posted an entire album of pictures. Unfortunately, I wasn't explicitly clear in why those pictures were posted. Actually, the reason for the album being posted is pretty lame - I made the album for the sake of my "Reddit Cakeday". Somehow, I thought that (mostly) beautiful pictures of Wyoming would get me approval from an extremely condescending community.

Results: I did manage to get a little approval, but the approval from my real internet friends was better.

Anyways, I was hoping to post a few more pictures here, just a few like normal, and maybe some photos that did not make the yesterday's cut (for whatever reason, likely out of forgetfulness).

This didn't qualify for the "Wyoming Pictures" Album, because it wasn't taken in Wyoming.

Is this actually a good photo? I'm not sure. But, the colors look cool. And this one would have qualified for the Wyoming album.

This also would have qualified for yesterday's album.

A lot, a lot of bikes.

Love this one - not sure why.

Monday, April 9, 2012

When Have You "Made It?"

I believe that, even if I make a million dollars off my writing, I still won't think that I'll have "made it".

At first, I thought, "When I'm published, then I will have made it."

Well, self publishing was a little easier than taking the traditional route of finding a publisher, so when I did self-publish, I told myself, "Nah, I can't count that. That was too easy. Maybe when I make some money, then I can say I've made it."

But how much money does one have to make before they make "it"? I made $120 so far, others have made far more. But I made money, didn't I?

Nobody knows my name - at least, the general population doesn't know my name. Do I have to become semi-famous before I "make it"?

Does somebody have to recognize me in the store?

(Good luck with that one - nobody knows what I look like!)

Does somebody from Hollywood have to offer me some kind of movie deal?

Where does it all end?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Working Playlist for "The Night Life", and Predicted Hindsight's 100th Post

Although I've actually gotten a fair chunk of writing done this weekend, I've found that I've been feeling pretty uninspired when it comes to writing on my blog recently. This is somewhat surprising, actually, because I actually have one or two ideas for things to write about.

That said, I've been more or less working on a playlist for The Night Life. Perhaps it's a bit premature to be making play lists, especially since the novel isn't even completed yet, but nevertheless, I tend to make play lists for my writing on-the-go.

I actually picked a nice selection of songs at first, though I've culled some of them, seeing as I'm trying to create a mix of 80's rock (the music of choice of one of the main characters) and folk (the music of choice for the other main character). Of course, considering some of the story takes place in a strip club, there's a small requirement for there to be some dance-worthy music as well.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Few More Lines from the Upcoming Novel, The Night Life.

I'm somewhat of a hopeless romantic, so naturally, every one of my stories is likely to contain a love story in some form or another.

In this case, however, the love story is more or less of a side story, and is not the main focus of The Night Life. This is probably the first piece I've written in years that does not focus mainly on the romantic prospects of the characters.

Of course, depending on how you spin it, that last sentence may be entirely false. It really depends on how you view the main character, Richard.

These next few lines, however, are actually about Tanya, the nosy and intrusive dancer who gets a little too involved in Richard's life. The love story in The Night Life belongs to her, and takes place between her and her high school sweetheart, Mickey Rodgers. They ended their relationship about a month after Mickey went to college in Colorado while she stayed behind in New Mexico, and now they find themselves reunited. Tanya quickly finds herself rediscovering her old feelings for her high school sweetheart; however, does Mickey share those feelings with her?
Would I ever see him again? It was likely, sure; we did only live an hour away from each other. Would I see him often? That, unfortunately was not likely. Meanwhile, I would be stuck here in Socorro dancing for a living, all while craving that elusive scent that clung to Mickey’s skin. Though I didn’t know it until now, I had spent the past six years in silent agony because I missed him. I must have spent at least four of those years telling myself I had forgotten him; only now did I realize that I loved him as much as I did when we were eighteen, and I couldn’t help but hope he felt the same way.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Let's Talk About

This morning, when I was busying myself with all of my various websites, I logged into Twitter and saw this under my "interactions" tab.

I've gotten these things before - this one is probably the 3rd or 4th one. And, up until today, I never really questioned them, though I did find it strange that so many people seemed to have their own daily newspaper (because really, who is going to read an entire newspaper run online by a nobody?). I've always just gone to the site, looked for what they used off my blog, and closed out of it. Nothing more.

I did the same exact thing with this notification that I've done with every other one - I went to the website and searched for what they used from me (usually entries off of this blog). In this case, this person had posted a link I randomly decided to post on Twitter yesterday, which was this old preview of Family History: Part 1.

In the past, most of these papers were related to things like writing and self publishing, so I never questioned it.

This one, however, seemed geared towards genealogy.

Let's face it - even though Family History: Part 1 and Part 2 contain something of an extensive genealogy, the book itself is just a work of fiction. And when most of the articles on this particular "paper" seem more related to, say, actual genealogy (and not fictional families), then I started to wonder.

I took a look on Twitter, too - this guy and I were never following each other, nor did we have any similar followers. Suspicious!

So, naturally, I did what any "modern-day sleuth" would do, and I consulted Google. A quick search of just "" led me to this blog post - " Clever Curation or Spammy Automation" by Adam Toporek.
"The first time I was mentioned in a Paper.Li I didn’t understand what had happened. It showed up in my Mentions stream on Twitter that I and a few others had made “The ____ Daily” and were part of the “Top Stories.” I thought the person who had mentioned me had read something of mine and liked it enough to tweet about it. I promptly thanked him for the tweet, but little did I understand that the gentleman in question most likely had no idea who I was or what I had written."
So, you mean to tell me that I'm not actually special?
"I had been picked up by the automated service Paper.Li." 
Automated, you say? Well then, I guess that answers my first question.
"For those who are not familiar with Paper.Li, it is a content “curation” system that publishes multiple Twitter and Facebook feeds and makes a newspaper of sorts."
To be honest, I'm not quite sure I understand the point, taking stuff written by others and posting it all in a newspaper collage of some sorts, but to each his own, am I right? 
Posting to your Paper.Li whatever happens to be in the #smalllbusiness hashtag stream when the Paper.Li runs is not curation, it’s topical aggregation.
Oh, kind of like how this guy posted my months-old "Family History" preview post to his genealogy paper?

If you want to know more about, I recommend not only reading the rest of Toporek's blog post, but also taking a look at the comments: where this particular writer is saying, "No, has no value," others disagree and add in their two cents as to why.

Does anybody here have anything to say about If so, feel free to comment on this below - I want to know what other's experience has been with this particular website.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Will There Ever be an Appropriate Time for Me to Serenade Somebody With This Song?

According to my tags, I might have already posted this here before. Nevertheless, it's a beautiful song with a lovely saxophone solo.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Worst Thing Somebody Ever Said to Me [About My Writing]

I don't really know why I'm posting this, but I've been working on searching for this message in a hoard of personal messages on a certain forum just so that I can post this, and talk about it.

Why do negative reviews get us down? I see it all the time on writing forums - people post about their "first one-star reviews". Sometimes, the writers are distraught and want to respond (even though it's in bad taste, apparently). Other times, the writers agree with the reviewer to a point. Sometimes, the reviews are just dead wrong (like complaining that they expected the book to be romance when it was erotica, when it was clearly marked 'erotica'). The point is, though, that no writer ever just shrugs off a negative review, especially when it's one of their first.

This particular "worst thing", however, was not a review of anything I have published, nor was it even something recent. This one is actually painfully general - it's not an insult against a particular piece of work, it's a slam against everything I had written up to that point.

Granted, based on who said it, it was probably said just to hurt me. So, should this little sentence even count as a slam against my writing, or a tool used to control and manipulate my emotions?

This was said to me nearly six years ago - about one year before I began work on The Dowry - in a personal message. The conversation leading up to it went something like, "We can't be honest with each other." "Oh yeah? Prove it!" The resulting reply?

"Yawn, you write pretty sucky, the only reason guys say you're a good writer is because you're given them an entrance."

Six years later, I still don't even know what that last part means. Maybe it's a variation of calling me a slut? I don't know. It's not like I was overly flirtatious at this point in my life.

But why am I posting this? I know that my "reach" is so painfully small that most of what I write hardly matters. Though I do feel that criticism, good and bad (and especially that bad) can easily get us down.

And to insult basically everything we've ever written? Ouch.

But, you're not going to wow everybody, no matter who you are. Think about something like Harry Potter - as wildly popular as the series is, not every person is a fan. They're few and far between - that, or they're hiding amongst the hardcore fans - but they're out there. 

Don't let one negative review get you down. You won't win everybody over. It's impossible.

Don't give up.

Friday, March 30, 2012

I Just Wanted to Share Some Pictures.

Most of these pictures were taken within the last week or so - and also, these are not the "artistic" pictures I like taking and posting every now and again (though I desperately need to do more of those). Really, this is kind of a, "This is more or less my life now. How is yours?"

S'more Cookie
A s'more cookie. Who WOULDN'T SAY NO?!

Best Frozen Yogurt Ever
I kept telling people, "It's some of the best ice cream I'd had in a long time." But no, it's actually
frozen yogurt.

Come on. Your jealous. (I know you're out there, tea lovers!)

This is a Public Park!
I was actually supposed to meet people here, but they ended up ditching me.
Was doing some separation, when all of the sudden...
Some completely unanticipated precipitate?

On the Way to Winter Park
Aren't those off-in-the-distance mountains fantastic? Now, imagine being up close!

Last Night's Dinner
This is what my friend made for dinner one night. FYI - there are totally french fries in with all of that.

Swin, little guy, swim...

...and one day, you'll turn into him.

Guest Posts and More Updates?

I feel like one thing keeps piling on top of another lately, which of course is why I've been so slow with the blog updates. The good news is that I did get a chance to do a little bit of writing yesterday - though not much - so I guess I am starting to get "back into it".

I have a bunch of pictures I've been wanting to post here - mostly of food - but I have yet to figure out how to actually get them from my phone to here. I was going to just post them on my flickr and link them, but I seem to have forgotten the email address I actually used for said flickr.

Anyways, I guest-posted the other day on Luke Wortley's blog. He's a pretty awesome guy, and I recommend everybody check out his webiste. The link to the guest post is here.

So...unless anybody has anything else to say, that's about all I have to say.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

February Sales Records

Obviously, February's Sales Records came out ten days ago, so I'm a bit slow on the uptake. But this is something I've been meaning to do, and may do every month. Why? Because I like sharing.

tl;dr - February was much slower than January, especially in the UK, probably because free promotions just aren't as effective as before.

Now, without further ado...

Amazon US Sales

  • Family History: Part 1:  4 Units Sold at 70% Royalty: $8.16
  • Family History: Part 2: 1 Unit Sold at 35% Royalty: $1.40
  • The Dowry: 5 Units Sold at 70% Royalty: $10.25
Total Amazon US Sales: $19.81

Amazon UK Sales
  • Family History: Part 1: 1 Unit sold at 70% Royalty:   £1.16 (~$1.84)
Total Amazon UK Sales: $1.84

The UK trend is troubling, because I haven't had a single sale in the UK since the week of February 11th, and even when I offered my entire library (minus The Night Life: Chapter 1) for free, each book only got twenty-something downloads. In January though, I did relatively well in the UK. So, what's going on? (Because I honestly have no idea).

Without giving away too much, things are better this month (though not substantially). A freak KDP Select Promotion Bug actually worked in my favor, so I'm doing about as well as I did in January. Other than that, though, there's not much else to report. So, I hope y'all enjoy, and I'll probably doing this again in a few weeks come March. Have a lovely Sunday.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Throughout the past few weeks, I have been a bit busier than usual. Two weeks ago, I put most of my energy into applying for an amazing position for the summer. The week before, I was away from home visiting my family, which ate up most of my time. And, for most of this week, I was busy preparing myself for some fairly tough exams.

However, when the obligations slow and you realize that you’ve been in bed for four hours watching others live their lives, the excuse, “I’m really, really busy,” no longer works. “I’m busy” becomes nothing more than an excuse for something else – laziness, procrastination, whatever you may call it.

Everybody may have some downtime, a period where there are fewer obligations, a time when the to-do list shortens. It’s nice to have some time off, too. It’s nice to have a few spare hours to surf the internet or watch a movie. Eventually, though, something comes up - we can't spend the entirety of our lives lulling about. 

But what happens when the time comes to get off the couch and take care of that next obligation, and you feel stuck? We may start lying to ourselves - "I'll just look at this one last link," or "I'll just watch one more episode." It eventually becomes a cycle - "Now that I've seen that episode, now I have to watch the next one!" or "That task really won't take me three hours, and I'll have plenty of extra time tomorrow." You promised yourself that you would start work at 7:00, and then 7:30, and soon enough, it's 9:30, you've been watching Desperate Housewives since 5:30, and you spent the five hours preceding that browsing r/askreddit links.

Or, at least, that's what happened to me.

Most of you probably slip up and do this every now and again. You procrastinate writing another chapter of your book or finishing that project. We all do it, and it's okay every now and again. But what happens when it gets out of hand?

I haven't done any work on The Night Life in over three weeks. My last real blog post was the Pi Day post on 3/14 (we're not counting the Norrgard/Blake guest post, because that was just a matter of copy-pasting from an email). I haven't even done any Twittering, not really (though I do check it now and again). My house is a mess, and I've told myself countless times that I would clean it "tomorrow" or "next weekend" - neither of which has happened so far.

The fact is, I know that I've had some form of depression for about 2.5 years. I'm not going to go into why or how it might have started around that time, though I will say that it is serious enough to probably warrent counselling. I don't know if it's serious enough to be diagnosed as anything truly serious, something other than a simple case of the moody blues. Though, the fact alone that it's lasted for as long as it has is probably a sign that it's a little more than just "feeling sad".

For some reason, though, this week has proven especially bad. Wednesday was the worst, and in fact, it was one of the worst days I've had in a long time. Without going into too much detail, I nearly broke things off with my boyfriend of three years because it seemed like what would be best for him. After all, how could such a kind, loving man want to stick around with somebody stupid, unattractive, lazy, messy, and of course, depressed, like me? Today, on the other hand, has definitely been the other "bad day" of this week, though no drastic, life-altering plans were almost put into effect.

I probably need to seek some kind of help, I know that. Like everything else, it will probably get pushed off to the side for awhile. But, for the first time in 2.5 years, I am starting to understand that this problem isn't likely to go away like I thought it would. Because even when I cleansed my life of the most problematic factors, my mood (unfortunately) did not change for the better like I thought it would.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Amber Norrgard's Interview with Russell Blake

Not too long ago, on another post, I mentioned a couple of upcoming guest posts. Granted, they were few and far between, but one promised was a guest interview of Russell Blake done by Amber Norrgard. The promised "date", if you recall, was "around March 1st". And a couple weeks later, finally, here is that promised interview:
Not too long after my husband gave me a kindle for our seventh anniversary (sigh... still the BEST GIFT EVER!), I came across an independent writer by the name of Russell Blake.  In June of 2011, Fatal Exchange was Blake's only novel, and was avail only in e-book format - and with its low price, what did I have to lose? Well, for starters, I lost a great deal of sleep the night I started reading Fatal Exchange, due to the fact that I could not put it down. After finishing what was one of the most amazing, not to mention unique, thrillers I had read in over twenty years of being a literary junkie, I sent a tweet to Blake on twitter letting him know how much I enjoyed it, and asking him when his next novel would be available. Fatal Exchange was the first of many novels I've written reviews for, and after almost a year, still one of my favorite of Blake’s work.  One thing has changed, and that is Russell Blake has pulled the incredible feat of THIRTEEN novels being published in just ten months, and the only thing cookie cutter about any of them is the amazing genius behind it.  So I am very happy, and quite honored, to have interviewed Russell Blake on the occasion of his thirteenth book going live, as well as to kick off a guest blog tour.
The thirteenth novel is The Voynich Cypher, and I can tell you firsthand that it’s an amazing read, in the tradition of The Da Vinci Code and Raiders of the Lost Ark, but at lightning pace.
Where did the idea from Voynich come from?
I wanted to write something different than my customary conspiracy-driven thrillers, and I'd always had an idea floating in the back of my mind for a Raiders of the Lost Ark kind of treasure hunt as the basis for a book. When I finally decided it was time, I started looking for something that was real, and would lend itself well to a mystery, and I remembered a discussion with a buddy of mine years ago about this obscure medieval document written entirely in code that had confounded cryptographers for nearly ever. One thing led to another, and pretty soon the first 20K words were written.
Voynich seems to be grander in terms of details on real places.  How long did the research take for the novel?
Hundreds of hours. On the Voynich Manuscript itself, on geography and history, on cryptography, you name it. It was a TON of research.
Will we see Dr. Cross again in a later work? 
I think so. I've already got a glimmer of an idea in my noggin. Just need to sort of let it steep for a bit until it's got more substance.
You always seem to have several work in progress projects lined up. What's up next for you? 
I'm putting the finishing touches on the sequel to King of Swords, tentatively titled Revenge of the Assassin. That should launch end of April/early May. Then I'm thinking the sequel to Fatal Exchange, and then a sequel to Delphi, and then probably a sequel to Voynich. The protag, Dr. Steven Cross, is the protag from my Wall St. thriller Zero Sum, so I think he's going to feature in a few more books over the next year or two.
What made you start writing?  Is there an author who inspired you to write?
You know what? Probably Stephen King, and John Grisham. Because they made it appear easy enough that I foolishly thought, “I can do that.” I think Ludlum and Forsyth influenced me a lot as a reader, but I really think when I first sat down to write, I was thinking, “I’ll write The Firm, and A Time To Kill, and be done by lunch.” Needless to say, there’s more heavy lifting to it than that. I’ve spent the last twenty years figuring that out.
You've stated in previous interviews that Al from the Geronimo Breach is one of your favorite characters.  Will your readers be seeing him again?
Boy, I don’t see any reason to reprise him at this point. Because part of his beauty, his symmetry, if you will, is that he is what he is, and the more situations you put him in to draw it out (milk it) the less like he is that he necessarily has to be. Al’s essence is that he’s almost irredeemably flawed. How can you have him evolve in Geronimo, and then come back in book two, without him being the new, improved Al, which to me spoils some fascinating part of him; or have him not evolve, in which case he stops being interesting, and just becomes a regression to his loathsome and reprehensible self? I think the interesting thing about Geronimo is that it’s a road novel. A journey, in which the protag changes over its course. Hard to sustain that without becoming formulaic. And I’d rather not do sequels if I feel the character hasn’t got something to carry the second book. Some characters, like Steven Cross of Zero Sum, or Michael Derrigan in Delphi, or ESPECIALLY El Rey and Romero Cruz in King of Swords and Night of the Assassin, beg to be reprised. So I plan to. My new one, The Voynich Cypher, uses Dr. Steven Cross from Zero Sum, and continues with a new adventure. Next one, Revenge of the Assassin, is an El Rey/Cruz book. But more Al? I just don’t see it at this point. When I sit down to write, I always have a little voice in the back of my brain that asks, “Why? Why this, why now?” And I can’t think of a good reason for Al to share more about himself than in that one book.
How long did it take you to write your first novel, Fatal Exchange?
About 18 12 hour days. Not counting rewrites.
You seem to have a wealth of ideas.  How do you come by them?
Tequila. No, honestly? Tequila. And I am naturally skeptical of everything and everyone, so I assume that I’m being told a lie whenever I hear anything, until proven otherwise. That lends itself nicely to thinking up alternative explanations, which brings me back to Tequila.
What do you do in the mornings to get yourself woken up and going?
I feel a constant sense of unfinished work, and a fascination with what I’m going to write next. Not in a creepy, ‘I’m standing outside of myself watching my fingers type words I can’t later remember’ kind of way, although we’ve all had that – right? But I am excited to get the story out. That’s why I write like I do – very intense, 12 to 15 hour days of keen focus. I wake up wanting to get the scenes out. Hard to explain. That, and a sense that I’m making progress and getting better at my craft. I feel like a kid, when you’re looking at the teenagers going, ‘I can’t wait to get there.’ I can’t wait to get to the next chapter. I realize that sounds completely weird, so maybe I should change my answer to cocaine and hookers. I hear they can keep you awake…
Do you have any writing quirks?
No. I am in every way normal, other than the nude ice dancing thing and the preoccupation with Latvian and Estonian prostitutes, and of course, battling world domination by clowns, and their chimp minions. What’s a writing quirk, by the way? Nerdy fetishism of some sort? Just curious…
What do you think of books that are later made into movies?
Depends. Silence of the Lambs didn’t suck. Most do. I tend to write in a very cinematographic style, so I’d love to have some studio squander millions ruining one of my books. I personally think that either Banderas or Del Toro should option King of Swords, because that book, and the rest in the series, would be their Die Hard or Terminator. So call them. Please. Really. I’m not kidding. I think William Morris Endeavor reps Banderas. I could get you the number…
If you were going to be stuck on a deserted island, what three items would you take with you?
Anti-clown weaponry, Latvian and Estonian companions (those count as one, right?) and Tequila. Although I’m assuming there will be a three star Michelin restaurant with a rotating menu there, right? If not, I could probably give up an Estonian in exchange for food…
What three books are on your "to be read" list?
Groan. I really don’t have one. It’s too embarrassing. I have at least 16 books on my kindle now, 8 of which I was sent for a “browse” which I am months behind looking at. So much as I’d like to appear deep, and claim the Dalai Lama’s latest (I assume he is still pumping them out) is on there, I have nothing for you on this one.
What is the best thing about the town/city you live in?
Are you kidding? It’s frigging Meheeco, baybee. Beach, warm water, cold beer, blue sky, easy living and friendly natives. Summertime, and the living’s easy. You want California dreaming/endless summer? Come to the pacific coast of Mexico. Just try not to get beheaded by the cartel enforcers. Puts a damper in your day.
What book could you read over and over again?
David Foster Wallace. Infinite Jest. Like going to church. More on a single page than most authors can muster in a career.
What is your favorite band or musician?
Boy. So many bands. Rhino Bucket, album one. AC/DC, the Bon Scott years. Stevie Ray Vaughn. T-Ride. Stanley Jordan. Jean Luc Ponte. Holdsworth. Queen. Floyd. There are just too many. May I also say I haven’t heard anything worth listening to in a decade? I know. I’m an anachronism. But it’s true. Sorry Snoop. Dre. Eminem. Even you, Beyonce, and you know I have strong feelings for you. But you aren’t the Beatles or the Stones (and how is Keith Richards still alive?) or even Bon Jovi. Sorry. Hope the billions soften that blow. Tough love.
What book do you think is a necessary read?
Necessary? Again, hard to say. The Magic Mountain. Infinite Jest. PS Your Cat Is Dead. The Holographic Paradigm. Day of the Jackal. Ludlum.  Anything by Le Carre. All for entirely different reasons. Essential for what reason? Entertainment? Style? Philosophy? And of course, all of mine. In no particular order. I’d buy them all to be safe. Wink.
What advice can you give to newbie independent authors?
You probably won’t make it. Odds say you won’t. Overwhelmingly. So write out of ego, or a need to tell a story, or pride of craftsmanship, or some ephemeral drive you can’t describe, but don’t do it to be a hit. Do it to tell the story you need to tell, in as vital and competent way as you can. That’s the why. The how? Read and reread The Elements of Style. Then you can toss it. But only once you’ve internalized it. Especially, rule number one. Eliminate unnecessary words. Meaning tell the story as clearly and eloquently as you are able, in as direct and efficient a manner possible. “To be or not to be” is infinitely more eloquent than two paragraphs saying the same thing. And the other how – force yourself to write, every day, no matter what. No whining or sniveling. Nobody’s holding a gun to your head. You want to write? Be a writer. That means write. And do so better than anyone else – or at least aspire to, and put in the work to be better every day. Appetite comes with eating. So eat. Every day. Be your own harshest critic – your internal dialogue should be ruthless, and demanding. Push yourself. Constantly. You are either shrinking or growing. Stasis is death. You want a ticket into the game? Be the player that is worth calling onto the field at the bottom of the ninth. Make your work a small miracle for those who read it. Less is, well, less. 
Having said all that, delight in crafting sentences that resonate - that nobody else could have created. Because in the end, that’s probably all you’ll have from the effort other than an ulcer, a fat ass, and lasting bitterness. And twelve cats. Can’t forget those. Mister Mittens will not be denied. Trust me. Humans won’t want to be around you much, and the animals only because you feed them. And their love will be conditional and temporary.
 Other than that, it’s a pretty fulfilling gig.

You can connect with Russell Blake at the following: 
twitter: @BlakeBooks
Russell Blake is the acclaimed author of the intrigue/thrillers Fatal Exchange, The Geronimo Breach, the Zero Sum trilogy of Wall Street thrillers, King of Swords, Night of the Assassin, The Delphi Chronicle trilogy (The Manuscript, The Tortoise and the Hare, Phoenix Rising), The Voynich Cypher (March, 2012) and Revenge of the Assassin (May, 2012).
His first satirical non-fiction work, How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated) released to rave reviews from literary luminaries like Lawrence Block, John Lescroart and David Lender.
His second non-fiction book, "An Angel With Fur," is the true story of Lobo the miracle dog and is an international bestseller.
"Captain" Russell lives on the Pacific coast of Mexico, where he spends his time writing, fishing, collecting & drinking tequila, playing with his dogs and battling world domination by clowns.