Joined Amazon Associates Program–Supporting My Writing Endeavors

AmazonAssociatesAppleMacbookpro_theBalance

Person at a Macbook Pro Laptop, Image Source: The Balance

Sorry this post is so late, but I had a meeting with a professor at my school this morning and I wasn’t able to write the blog at my normal time.  Should be back on schedule now.

So, when I was a teacher of 6th Grade Language Arts, one of the teachers who taught 8th Grade discovered that I was into creative writing and a published author and she wanted to show her support by buying my work on Amazon as it was the end of the school year and both she and I were leaving (she was going to a new school and I was leaving the teaching profession to come to graduate school).  I was so grateful and happy that she wanted to read/purchase my writing.  And then she asked if the purchase would benefit me in any way because she really wanted to help support me as a writer.  I was so grateful, but I had to admit that no, there aren’t royalties to publishing short fiction like there was for books and novels–the purchase would only help me tangentially by the fact that supporting the publishers would allow them to stay in business and perhaps publish more of my stories later, but no, the actual purchase that she made wouldn’t help me directly.  She still made the purchase (Thanks, Ms. L!) and enjoyed the work, but I felt kinda’ bad that I had no way to have her purchase of my works help me out directly as this was part of her purpose in buying them.

Going Commercial?
I tell that story to sort of explain why I chose to set-up an Amazon Associate program in that it allows me to (finally) come up with a way for those who want to purchase my things to benefit both the publishers who publish my work (they get money to stay in business and hopefully publish me or other writers in the future) and myself (I get a small percentage of the sale for those who click on the Amazon links and buy it directly through the links.)

Oh, so you’re commercializing the blog?

Nope.  I’ve been a Bookseller at Waldenbooks and I am convinced that it was management’s decision to focus on the selling of the loyalty card rather than focusing on their core business, i.e., selling books, as the key that kept them from seeing and responding to the challenge of larger retailers like Borders and the online presence and power, of well, Amazon and this help speed their demise.

I’m a professional writer and that’s what I do.  That is where my love is and that’s where I will continue to put my focus.  I only want to 1) give those who want to support me as a writer a way of doing so, 2) a way to help both small presses who don’t get exposure of larger publishers, and myself as well as small presses can’t offer royalties like the large presses do.

What does it mean for the Blog?

  • Not much, if I’m honest.  I’ll add links under my signature that, if you click on them, will take you to the relevant page.  If you purchase the item (i.,e., Oneclick or place it in your shopping cart and complete the purchase), I’ll get a very small percentage back.  The links that are currently for places where you can find my work for “free” will continue just as they are (one of the two remaining stories under consideration is actually at a “free” publication, so if it gets accepted, I’ll add it as normal).  Links for free and paid content will show up under my signature–once it gets to unwieldy, I’ll probably drop the “Archives” Section and move the links to the sidebar).
  • A new page that is a curated list of things that I have on my bookshelf that I really like (books, games, movies, and other media).  If any look interesting, please feel free to click on it, if not, then no worries.
  • A Saturday update of the “Favorite Media” page (okay, now this is going to be hard–I try to use the weekends to brainstorm for blog ideas for the upcoming week, so I can’t promise that this is always going to happen, but I will try my best).
  • And a small sentence at the bottom of posts to let readers know that I’m a part of the Associates program.  Now, to be clear, I don’t work at Amazon.  I’m a writer and a graduate student (for now, at least, but more on that later).  But Amazon (and I) want to be clear that the links that I promote are “commercial” in nature.

And that’s it!  I’m going to test out the link below for my story, “Faerie Knight” which was on the Tangent Online 2014 Recommended Reading List.

Feel free to click on the Amazon link if you choose, or not, as the case may be.  Hope you have a great day!  And it is back to writing for me–revising All Tomorrow’s Children so that I start submitting it over the weekend.

Sidney


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One Down, Two To Go

Citizen X
So, the disadvantage to being able to check your email on your phone means that you are never “disconnected.”  During a bit of downtime during the Super Bowl on this past Sunday, I happened to check my phone and saw that I had an email from the market where Citizen X was on the short list.  I also noticed just by the first sentence that it was a Rejection Notice (You can always tell a Rejection Notice by the way it starts–that “formality” that we all shift into whenever we have to tell another person bad news).  It didn’t put a damper on the game/commercials/fun of the evening, but it was distracting.  Something that I wished that I could have seen on Monday morning, rather than on Sunday evening.  Ah, well, that’s life.  At least, it was short-listed.

Silence Will Fall
I should probably here of SWF’s fate shortly.  The email mentioned early February is when the market whose short-list SWF is on would make a decision.  HawkeMoon was on the short-list at this market as well, but it didn’t make it, but who knows if SWF will make it or not.  I like Silence Will Fall quite a bit, but then I liked HawkeMoon as well, so its always a bit of a “crapshoot.”  There’s a movie coming out soonish that seems to have the same take on SWF (i.e., if you make noise, bad things will happen, but it looks to be a “zombie” movie, rather than a science fiction one).  I hope that the movie doesn’t render my story as an “also-ran” because mine was conceived first and deals with a science fiction concept, but the key idea of “sound” is in both which may be detrimental to my being able to market it in the future (i.e., we’ve seen that concept already in such-and-such movie).

Here Be Monsters
While this one isn’t on a short-list, it is still out for consideration at a market with an upcoming anthology.  Don’t know if the editor is going to choose this story or not.  He’s accepted one story and rejected two others, so far I believe (going by what has been reported via authors who track their stories on Duotrope.  However, my story is one of at least 17 submissions (again, based on Duotrope’s tracking) still awaiting a decision.  Nothing to do here except be patient and see what happens.

Upcoming
Rather than just resting on my laurels, I am actively working on trying to finish the rough draft of Project Skies (the short story with Skye to discover her character)–I am currently drafting section 3 of 3, revising All Tomorrow’s Children to start submitting (I’m currently revising section 2 of 3), researching my next story, Project OPaK.  I had to go all the way back to June of last year to discover the name that I’d given this project.  I also noticed that I really like to introduce Projects, but I’m much slower at finishing them (a blog post for another time).  I have photocopied research for this project and I will transition into Project OPaK as soon as I finish Project Skies.

Two stories Shortlisted–“Citizen X” and “Silence Will Fall”

I just wanted to let everyone know that I currently have two short stories on the “Short List” at two different publishers.  I should learn of their fate later this month.

Citizen X
Citizen X was a bit of a surprise.  I wrote it around the time of Here Be Monsters, but much like HBM it wasn’t highly regarded as I submitted it.  The ending was also something that seemed a bit controversial, so I pulled it from, intending to rewrite it.  However, I began to feel that I was too harsh towards the story and began submitting it again.  I was fairly surprised that it made it to the “short list” round for a publication–I mean, I wrote it, so of course I liked it, but I didn’t publishers would.  Here’s keeping my fingers crossed for it.  Even if it doesn’t make it for publication, I have to count it as a small victory that it made it to the “short list.”

Silence Will Fall
Silence Will Fall is a story that I’ve chronicled many times on the blog–it even has its own Author’s Note where I talk about the genesis and writing of the story.  It also is a triumph of the MTSU Writing Center, as my Consultant graciously helped with a revision of the piece to make sure that the ending that I “re-wrote” made sense and matched the rest of the tone of the piece.  While I have no control of the process anymore–it is strictly in the editors’ hands–I’d love for this one to get published, if only to give my Writing Center Consultant praise for a job well done!

The Short List
In case there are any who may not know what a “Short List” is: it simply means that the story has passed the first round of initial rejections.  The editors will then make a decision for the stories included in their publication from these stories.  Essentially, stories from this “short list” will make it in.  Making it to the short list is similar to making it to a 2nd interview to get a job, or getting nominated in a category for a prestigious award, like the Oscars.  There’s no guarantee of getting the job, or winning the award, but your chances are better–you haven’t been rejected altogether.  That’s the way it works in publishing as well.  No guarantees–they both could come back with a rejection, but at least those two stories haven’t been rejected outright.

Have a good weekend!
Sidney
Read Skin Deep for Free at Aurora Wolf
Read Childe Roland for Free at Electric Spec

 

Read, Write, and Improve

I written on the blog before that I haven’t really been able to write like I’ve wanted to based on the demands of life.  I expect that to continue for the near future for reasons that I won’t go into here, but I’m going to try my best because I feel like I’m missing a “piece” of me by not writing everyday/reading things for myself rather than school everyday.

I was really excited after reading the article on PBS.org profiling author Jesmyn Ward called “Persist.  Read, Write, Improve,” by Elizabeth Flock.  It was a short, but informative article and it really seemed to set out a “path” that I wanted to follow for 2018 (the closest thing a New Year’s Resolution as it were).  My goal was simple.  I would persist through 2018 by reading and writing every day and at the end of the year, I would (hopefully) see improvement.

Read

This is my most favorite thing to do, but I haven’t been reading like I wanted to.  I think it is because over the break, I was able to devote an hour (sometimes up to two hours) just to read every day and make substantial progress on my books.  I just don’t have that much time in the day.  I finally decided to devote half an hour to reading each day.  Also, last year I didn’t really have anything to read because I only certain authors (the few who aren’t drawn to the Dark Side of the Force with the allure of “GrimDark”).  However, ALL my favorite authors published material last year, so I want to read all of my favorite series and I just don’t have the time and it is really frustrating.  I’m also “supposed” to be reading books for school, both books and articles assigned for class as well as books in my “field” (English) on my own.  It is hard to enjoy my “reading” time when I have to read a book called Multimodality during my “reading time”when what I want to read is Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson.

Maybe I could read school books during the week and my personal books on the weekend?

Write

This is where I really feel that I let myself down.  Partially, it wasn’t an intentional act of laziness on my part.  Forgetting the computer, one week, and the charger, the next week meant that I was without my computer for essentially a week and half (pretty much all of my time here school).  Now I did have access to the school’s computers and since I have the blog and many of my writing files online, I could have gone there to write, but the frigid weather and uncertainty of the car starting put a major damper on that, so the end result is that none of the goals that I set for January were finished.  I’d really wanted to finish a Rough Draft, Working Draft, and Edited Draft every month, but perhaps that was too ambitious based on the amount of school work that I have.

While I can’t devote two hours every day, perhaps I just need to find a way to better utilize the time I do have.  I was up early to work on the blog–perhaps shorter, more consistent blog entries and use the remaining time to work on the writing projects I have in mind?

Improve

What I really want to see from my writing and my reading is an improvement in my ability to write long.  I don’t want just write short stories–my real desire is to write novels, screenplays, graphic novels, and pilots for television (of course, Sci-Fi/Fantasy based).  While I most certainly want to improve my storytelling abilities on ALL fronts, I really feel that improvement is needed in my ability to write long and to craft stories that can exist in the long-form media in order to see success as a writer.  That’s what I’m hoping Jesmyn Ward’s advice will help me accomplish this year.

Persist.

The author Jesmyn Ward was recently interviewed on PBS.org’s website and she talked about the writing life.  However, she gave 4 pieces of advice.  I want to talk about the first one here and I’ll go into the other 3 on the next blog post.  Her four big takeaways are “Persist. Read. Write. Improve.”

Persistance
Time and again, I’ve heard the adage: “Persistence is the key to success,” so whenever I tried to do something, I try to be persistent at it, to have grit as Angela Duckworth and other educational theorists have defined it–the ability to stick to a task even when it is hard. In writing this is true as well.  I’ve seen many writers (students and non-students) give up writing after their first rejection or after several rejections, but I tried to push through and I earned my first publication nearly 20 years ago.  However, the journey from neophyte writer to a successful one has not quite gone as I’d envisioned after making that first sale.

Keep Going
Her advice rings true.  I need to simply persist.  I honestly wondered whether I should continue writing in early to mid December, but after the break I think I just need to focus on getting projects done and enjoying that aspect.  It was so refreshing to have worked on the outlines for the projects with Tana on Ship of Shadows.  Even if they are never published (even though I sincerely hope that’s not the case), I still had fun creating them and coming up with them while wrapped up in a warm blanket on a snowy day.  The sheer joy of writing, of creating, is why I find being a writer (or to be Writing to reference an earlier post) to be so much fun and liberating.  Unfortunately, “life” got in the way yesterday, and I wasn’t nearly as productive writing as I should have been–I only wrote a “note card” of one potential project and it was extremely tentative (wrote it late at night when I should have been in bed because of school) and as such, I don’t have the same “euphoria” that I did after the first Snow Day.

I must learn to be both Persistent in my writing and also to be consistently persistent.  That way, even if I can’t publish the way I’d like, I can still have fun and enjoy the challenge of creating and writing the things that I love.

Sidney
Read Skin Deep for Free at Aurora Wolf
Read Childe Roland for Free at Electric Spec

Taking Advantage of “Free” Time

So, I was very tempted to  to call this blog post Snow Day #2 or *2 or something similar as my school is closed for the second straight day), but decided against it at the last moment.  I wanted to give an idea of how much one can get done with a little “free” time.  Here’s a little of what I worked on yesterday:

2018: Year of Ship of Shadows
So I am devoting the whole of 2018 to “preproduction” and drafting of various projects related to my story “Ship of Shadows” (which is available on Amazon.com in the anthology Visions IV: Space Between Stars).  I am going to “remix” it in as many ways possible this year and I wrote several outlines of how the character of Tana and her story might inhabit/play-out in different media or forms.  It is super early in the year, but as the projects progress, I will definitely keep readers of the blog informed.

Writing Reorganization
I also began a reorganization for my writing files that will hopefully make me more productive.  I’ve organized my writing into three distinct areas: planning (“preproduction” – to steal a movie term), drafting (“production”), and revising/editing (“postproduction”).  I have various projects in various stages of completion–drafts that are completely written that just need editing, drafts that need various elements revised, projects that need characterization or characters that need plots, etc.  I’m “stealing” the movie industry’s terms of “preproduction,” “production,” and “postproduction” in order to finish projects in a more organized and orderly fashion.  I’ve wanted to make this change for a while now–since early Spring of 2017 and the Snow Day allowed me to get it done.

Dreaming up New Projects/Characters
Much of the fun of writing comes from the act of creating something new.  Thanks to the Snow Day, I was able to come up with “tentative” ideas for two or three new projects and story ideas and characters.  These are in the embryonic stages, but hopefully if my school work will allow, I can more fully plan these projects out in the summer and write them later this year.

I have no idea if I’ll be nearly this prolific on this second Snow Day, but I will most certainly give it a try!  🙂

Sidney
Read Skin Deep for Free at Aurora Wolf
Read Childe Roland for Free at Electric Spec

Snow Day

So today is a Snow Day for me.  The semester was supposed to start today, but school was closed, so I’m taking a day to get mentally set and prepared for the upcoming semester.  Specifically, I will be trying to work on writing and getting ideas down on to paper and planning stories today.  I will also be working on revisions and editing also if there’s time.

I hope to get a lot accomplished today (while also resting a little as well).  I’ve learned from my time as a Middle School teacher–you want to really use Snow Days effectively (and I have several projects that could use a little more time to work on them!).

Be safe!

Sidney
Read Skin Deep for Free at Aurora Wolf
Read Childe Roland for Free at Electric Spec