My Short Story eBook Publishing Experiment

medium_9469185471On June 26th, I unveiled my free short story eBook, “Some Kind of Moment.” I got the idea to make this eBook from other authors and entrepreneurs I’d seen around the internet who were giving out eBooks for free when readers subscribed to their email lists.

However, I noticed that all of their eBooks were informational, not creative. They gave tips on being a writer, shared advice on making money online, etc. I decided to test the waters with the idea of doing the same thing, but with creative work.

While one of my motivations was to get people to sign up for my email list to form a network of readers interested in me and my work, I also felt that it was time to share a longer piece of mine that wouldn’t fit the length constraints of a literary magazine. “Some Kind of Moment” was a compromise between a super long work that will take years to publish (which makes up the majority of my projects) and something short I’d submit out. Plus I’d get to see what this whole eBook/self-publishing thing was about.

The actual process of making the book was time-consuming, but valuable. I decided to format the story for PDF, ePub, and MOBI so it could be read easily on any computer or device. While the formatting process was tedious and required a good deal of research and trial and error, I was ultimately glad I did it. I’ve seen some poorly formatted eBooks that are simply unreadable, and I didn’t want mine, despite being free, to be one of them.

I’m so happy with how the eBook turned out visually. Much of that credit also goes to my designer, Pj Kneisel, for making such a fantastic cover. He used a photo I took of the Santa Monica Pier and transformed it into something amazing that completely fit the tone of the work.

So what were the actual results of this experiment? I got a good response on Facebook when I released my eBook. A lot of friends and acquaintances shared the announcement and downloaded the work. So far, I’ve received very positive feedback from several people about the story itself. Although the numbers around this experiment aren’t super impressive, the story will be available for new subscribers indefinitely, so that could always change. Plus, just being able to share some of my writing with the world this way was a great experience in itself, regardless of numbers.

The eBook still isn’t on Amazon. That process is more complicated, and I’ve been waffling about even putting it there. There’s a chance I’ll keep it as an exclusive bonus to people who are interested in my writing. Now that this experiment is done, it’s time for me to go back to toiling away on my current book-length projects and taking a shot at the intimidating world of personal essay.

To those who have already downloaded my eBook: Thank you so much! To those who haven’t yet: What are you waiting for? It’s free!

 
photo credit: melenita2012 via photopin cc

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Some Kind of Moment: A Short Story eBook

SKoM final paperback (layers)Today marks the release of my new short story ebook, “Some Kind of Moment.” Here’s the synopsis:

Friendship can be confusing. 20-year-old Izzy Desmond likes killing time with Luke, an endearingly eccentric slacker, and feels herself drifting apart from Mandy, the Beverly Hills party girl she befriended freshman year. When the three mismatched friends spend a day together at the Santa Monica Pier, Izzy tries to figure out what Luke and Mandy really mean to her, and whether the connections she has with them can last.

To get your free copy, enter your email address in the box below. After you confirm the subscription, you’ll automatically receive links to the PDF, ePub, and MOBI files. There’s also an option to read the story right in your browser.

With the subscription, you’ll also be getting my newsletter with blog posts, occasional updates, and any future exclusive content. I promise I won’t spam you or sell your information. My newsletter helps me stay in touch with all of you, my readers. I’m going to have some exciting projects coming up.

 

Get Your Free Copy of “Some Kind of Moment”


 

I really hope you enjoy the story! A special thank you to Pj Kneisel for designing my beautiful cover and helping me edit the book. I couldn’t have done this without you.

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The Most Important Things I Learned in Grad School

Antioch-University-Los-AngelesThis week is my last official week of graduate school.

I’ve been working on my MFA in Writing for a few years now, and it’s been quite a journey. I began my grad school adventure at a different institution and ended up transferring into Antioch University, Los Angeles’ program in December 2012. The school has been a great fit for me and a wonderful experience overall. I’ve gotten to attend tons of amazing lectures, worked one-on-one with helpful mentors, and met some awesome writer friends.

While attending lectures this week, I noticed the idea of transformation coming up quite a bit. Todd Mitchell, a YA author, told us that what readers really want is to see the transformation of a character and the ways they change throughout the narrative. Your job as an author is less about chronicling the story and struggle, and more about showing the main character dealing with those situations and evolving over time.

I think transformation is an especially important concept for those of us who write memoir. For several years, I’ve been working on a memoir about my struggles with mental illness as a child and teenager. At first, I set out to write my story in the hopes that readers would find it interesting, informative, and relatable. But I soon discovered that my memoir needs to be more than a telling of events and stories. My memoir also has to show the transformation I went through from childhood to adulthood, with an emphasis on how I coped and survived.

As readers, and as human beings, transformation is something we love to watch. When we step inside of a book, we look for assurance that we have the potential to make it through anything that life throws at us. We hope to learn how others transform and evolve.

Although I’m still figuring out how to articulate the transformation I went through between childhood and young adulthood, I’m beginning to see the transformation I experienced between starting and finishing grad school. When I started graduate school, my memoir was a mess of scenes and anecdotes. Now, I have a structure for the entire book and two-thirds of it finished. When I started grad school, I wasn’t sure whether anyone would care about what I wanted to say. After hearing so many fellow students, mentors, and even strangers express their interest in my story, I know there’s a place and need for my memoir.

The biggest transformation, though, has been the rise in my confidence as a writer. I came into the program unsure of my voice and whether I’d ever be able to pull off the project that had been so important to me for so long. Not only is that project almost finished now, but I feel confident that I’ll be able to find a good home for it. There were so many times I wanted to give up on this memoir, but I couldn’t, and I won’t. I believe in the project, and thankfully, so do others.

So, what’s next for me? I’ll continue to offer freelance editing services to academic and creative writers. I will also be completing Antioch University’s online teacher training, which includes teaching a 4-week online memoir writing class this October (more on that soon). Right now, I’m considering going the traditional publishing route for my memoir to see what happens. Maybe later I’ll take a shot at indie publishing. The most important thing to me right now is staying open to whatever possibilities come my way.

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Lessons Learned from Starless Skies

photoA few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I took a trip to Sedona, AZ. We’d both heard about the infamous vortexes and New Age culture, but we’re not into that scene. Our decision to go was based on cheap hotel availability, drivability, beautiful landscapes, and the ability to see the stars at night.

That last one was probably the biggest draw for us. We share a love of all things space. Since we’re both long-time residents of Los Angeles, our opportunities to see more than a handful of stars in the night sky have been few and far between. Because of Sedona’s isolation and elevation, we were promised an amazingly clear view.

Before we left, my mother excitedly informed me that we’d enjoy a full moon while we were there. When I shared this with my boyfriend, he said, “Oh…that’s not good.” Amateur stargazers, such as myself, might not know that a full moon emits so much light that the stars get drowned out. To our great disappointment, this was true. The moon looked lovely, but the sky was too bright to see stars.

Even though we both love the moon, those nights in Sedona, we found ourselves cursing it. I tried not to get too discouraged. We did research and tried to see if there was a gap between the sunset and moonrise we could try to catch.

IMG_3114In the meantime, we enjoyed what Sedona had to offer. We climbed to the top of a tall red rock and looked out at the city. We took a day trip to the Grand Canyon. We visited a vortex and didn’t feel anything funny. Then we got into a long debate about vortexes and whether places or people have special energy.

But we didn’t see many stars. The last night of the trip was the one night we had a big enough gap to possibly see some between the sunset and moonrise. We went outside after a dinner of burgers and rattlesnake bites to see if it was finally our chance to glimpse what we’d come for.

The sky was completely black, all the stars hidden behind an impenetrable haze. We both started laughing, finally surrendering to the fact that we were out of luck. We still drove to a lookout point and located a couple of stars peeking out between the clouds. We shared a nice, quiet moment beneath the dark sky.

I told my boyfriend I was sorry we didn’t get to see the thing we most wanted to see. He assured me that it was okay. We had a lovely time, and being together was what really mattered.

A week later, a spectacular meteor shower was scheduled to take place. I lamented our bad timing. We could have had front row seats to something incredible. We tried to see the shower in Los Angeles, but were once again met by a hazy, dim sky. This time, I didn’t laugh. It just seemed unfair. But it turned out that the shower wasn’t as spectacular as promised, so even if we’d been somewhere with a better view, there wouldn’t have been much to see. There was also a wildfire in Sedona, which we would have encountered if we’d been there a week later.

So, everything balanced out. We wanted to see the stars, but had to settle for a fun trip. I got upset about timing, but later discovered that it actually could have been a disaster to go later.

Sometimes I think things happen for a reason, but usually think it’s completely random. The thing I still struggle with is wishing I made different decisions when things don’t work out. But we’ll have other chances to see a bright, clear sky. I could even assure myself that it will happen when it’s meant to, or that there’s a reason things worked out the way they did.

I don’t necessarily want to, though. I’d rather be okay with accepting and waiting.

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On (Not) Being a Failure: My Post-College Journey

When I graduated college in 2009, I had a plan. I would move back home and live with my mom until I found an entry-level job as a writer or editor. Then I would get an apartment, maybe move in with my college boyfriend, and begin my “adult” life. I anticipated that all of this would take about six months, max.

Things didn’t exactly work out that way. Turns out, there weren’t really any entry-level jobs in my field because of the recession. There weren’t any jobs, period. I spent over a year applying to dozens of positions, anything I was even remotely qualified for. The result of my search was some sporadic editing gigs, a very-part-time job teaching computer lessons to old people, and an ill-fated administrative assistant position for a company that almost immediately asked me to compose college admission essays for non-English-speaking students. I left that one more deflated than ever.

I didn’t know back then that I wasn’t alone in my aspiring adult struggles. Despite the fact that some of my friends were able to find jobs and be independent, many of these fell through, or were exaggerated. Personally, I tried to avoid telling anyone that I lived at home and only worked part-part time doing freelance editing gigs. I was embarrassed. I still am embarrassed. Because, going on five years later, that part of the equation hasn’t changed.

Yep, folks. I still live at home.

Sometimes it feels like I’ve been stuck in the same place all these years. But that’s not really true. Because I couldn’t find a full-time job, I decided to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing. I’ve been able to spend a lot of time writing, taking classes, and working on this site. My college relationship ended shortly after I graduated, but after a few years of dating disasters and discouragements, I found an awesome boyfriend who is always there for me and is my number one fan.

\It’s because of said boyfriend that I felt inspired to write this post. I’ve been so discouraged lately, feeling like nothing has changed, that I’ll never be truly successful or independent. As I wrap up my graduate degree, edit my two ongoing manuscripts for publication, and begin to contemplate re-entering the job market, all those fears about being behind, being unsuccessful, and being a failure have returned, full force.

I want to be an “adult” so badly. I know my boyfriend is right when he tells me that no one is where they thought they’d be. There are others out there going through what I’m going through, especially those pursuing creative endeavors. I really just want to be a writer who makes enough as a freelance editor and writing teacher to support that dream. It’s still not clear whether that will be possible or enough. Right now, it isn’t.

I don’t necessarily have anything motivational to end on. I just wanted to be honest about my new adult journey because I don’t want to hide anymore. As twenty-somethings, we’ve been led to believe that adulthood works a certain way, and that it has a timeframe that must be followed. If you’re not able to follow that timeframe, you’re a failure.

Even though I feel like a failure at times, I’m really just trying to find my way in a world that’s changing and uncertain. I’m lucky to have a mother who supports me and my dream of being a writer. I’m also very lucky that I have a few good friends and a wonderful boyfriend who helps me feel accomplished and talented whenever I feel down and hopeless. There are a few parts of the equation I’ve gotten right, but none showed up the way I expected them to. I can only hope that’s true for everything else, that the pieces will fall into place when they’re ready to, and when I’m ready for them to.

Are you still trying to figure out this whole adulthood thing? Or are you someone who went through this already and came out on the other side? 

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