Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Damnation Marked is here!


There's something in the earth deep below Elise Kavanagh's territory. A shadow is falling upon local demons to devour their flesh and harvest their souls. And it's coming for Elise next.

The Union has an easy way out. They want to send Elise into hiding again with her former partner, James Faulkner. All she has to do is surrender the territory and trust that they can protect the ethereal ruins, the dark gate, and the city she's come to know as home.

Greater powers have other plans for Elise and her fabled power as Godslayer--plans that mean surrendering her life and blood to the most powerful demon alive. But if she descends, there's no turning back. Once she gazes into the abyss, it will gaze back into her... and Elise will be damned forever.

Woo hoo, party time!

Juuuust so you guys know, this is on sale for $3.99 right now (it'll normally be $4.95, like The Darkest Gate), so snag it soonish. Also! If you haven't started on this series yet, it's a good time to jump in. I have the rest of the books available for free today and tomorrow. :) You can catch up without spending a dime!

Also, there's some confusion about the intended audience for this series, since the Rylie books are young adult. THESE BOOKS ARE NOT YOUNG ADULT. There's way too much violence and naughty language. Proceed with caution, kay?

I think this is the best book I've written. For serious. And the reviews so far agree. It's the best of the series, at least. Anyhoo, I'll let you all be the judge.

Suggested reading order for newbies:
Death's Hand
Death's Avatar
The Darkest Gate
Dark Union
Damnation Marked
Get 'em all here!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Prozac and working from home

I've been on a low dose of Prozac for the last five weeks now.

It's still too early to tell if it's made a huge difference, but I can say one thing for certain: Life isn't quite as dark as it was five weeks ago.

I used to sit down and cry for an hour when my husband left for work because I couldn't cope with the idea of being responsible for a toddler hurricane on my own. I haven't done that for five weeks. I'm also not as brittle, or angry, or nervous. I haven't thrown anything across the room, except once when I was PMSing, and I'm always a hormonal monster in that way.

All those relentless thoughts of how ugly/useless/annoying/talentless I am? Much quieter. Still very insecure, but I think that's a character attribute, not a depression thing. Similarly, I'm still having some organization problems. I'm pretty sure that's because I'm a scatterbrain.

It's not all sunshine and daisies, of course. I'm still low on energy, but that's probably because I go to bed at midnight and wake up with my son at 7am. It's also really hard catching up on everything I fell behind on during the worst part of the depression--I still can't bring myself to look at some things.

But I'm actually opening my email when I receive it. I'm not having routine breakdowns. I did my laundry for the first time in about a month.

I might need a higher dose, or more time. I'll talk to my doctor. But it's definitely a start.

It's now been about five months since I quit my Real Job to embark on the "stay at home writer" trail, which is my lifelong dream. A couple people asked for updates, so I'm happy to tell you guys that it's going great (depression, disorganization, and delays aside).

Staying at home has primarily improved three things: Firstly, and most importantly, if I can't write, it's because I'm spending time with my son. And time spent with him is never, ever a waste. Secondly, it cleared out a lot of mental clutter--all the stress from having a job I didn't really care about is gone, as well as the unpleasant exercise in face-stabbing that was multiple useless meetings a week. So I can zone out and think about writing much more.

Finally, even though I don't really have more time to write/edit (because of the Helpful Toddler's need for, you know, his mommy), I've become much more efficient. Clearing out mental clutter, stress, and time wasters is huge. I think I'm going to publish one more book this year than I originally scheduled! Which is good news for everyone. :)

When I quit my job in April, it was coming off a good March--my best month at the time, in fact. I went from earning $1000-$2000 a month to earning over $5000 that month on about 2500 units sold (whoa!!). That's really much too soon to be quitting a cushy job with benefits, and I didn't expect to keep selling like that, but it was inspirational.

Since then, I've beat March not once, but twice. I sold about 5000 books EACH in July and August. That... that is a lot of books. (It took me about a year to sell my first 10k.) My baseline has gone from earning $1000-$2000 a month to more like $2000-$5000 (although I earned much more in July and August). I hit iReaderReview's Top 100 indies list for July, and I think I would have hit it for last month too if I sent them my numbers.

I'm not saying this to brag or anything. Frankly, none of this is about me, or anything special I've done. I am not unusually clever or talented. I'm saying this partially because I think that spreading information is helpful to everyone thinking about getting into publishing--I'm not a bestseller, but I'm a someseller, and you don't have to be Amanda Hocking to make a living.

Mostly, I'm saying this because I want to thank you guys. Those numbers don't come out of thin air. Unlike my government job, the numbers aren't funded by taxpayers. The numbers don't come out of my desktop printer, or my word processor. (It would be cool if they did though, huh?) It doesn't come from a major publishing company and their accountants.

All those books shifted are because of you guys. The readers.

You click on that button to download my books, and you change my life every day. Better yet, you change my son's life. Because of you, my toddler gets to have his mommy home with him when he needs me the most. I can afford my prescription of Prozac. (It takes four sales to buy the generic. Just FYI.) My husband and I can focus more of our time on spending time together, not working. You let me afford to buy whole fruit for my baby. You put the gas in my car that carries my baby and I to my family's house so he can be close to distant relatives in a way I did not enjoy as a child.

It's all you guys. I have no expectations about the future, but I'm humbled to know that about 25,000 books of mine have been purchased by readers just like you. You're going on this journey with me, with Rylie, with Elise and James--and you have made my life so, so much better for it. You're helping me live the dream.

So, basically, thanks. :) And happy reading.

(PS: Damnation Marked is coming out next week!)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Life and stuff

The last time I saw my grandmother, she was sitting apart from the rest of the family, watching my son drive his new Tonka truck. The procedure to remove the cancer in her vocal chords failed. She was only getting nutrition through the feeding tube in her stomach. It made her distant from the family activity of sharing dinner, made her reluctant to watch everyone else eat her favorite foods.

We talked a little about the feeding tube. She showed me the incisions and the places the chemotherapy had permanently destroyed her hair follicles. She was still carrying nitroglycerin in her purse to restart her heart in a pinch. But she was in fairly good spirits. It's not easy living life through a morphine haze, but it didn't seem to bother her much.

After years of fighting cancer, and after dozens of near death experiences, she was still convinced she was going to get better. I think that determination kept her going.

I hugged her frail body, and said we should see each other again soon.

She died last week.

The body I saw at her viewing didn't look like her. It was a wax doll wearing her sweater, with her family crying around the casket, but the woman I knew (though not very well) was never that still. She was never that quiet. She was always in motion, always getting up to take care of something, even when she was recovering from the newest procedure and eating nothing and should have been resting. The perfect sixties housewife transplanted to the wrong era.

My grandfather, her husband and partner for over fifty years, looked so lost and tiny standing over the doll-like figure of his wife. I wonder what it feels like to see the woman you've loved being laid to rest and knowing she will enter that furnace alone to become ashes.

Less than twenty-four hours before she breathed her last breath, a new life entered the world. One of my very dearest friends had her second daughter--a beautiful, perfect baby girl.

My son is almost two now, and I've forgotten how fragile and boneless newborns are. I forgot the smell of vernix and how velvety their cheeks are. The lack of motor control, the unfocused stares, the wrinkles on their thumb-sized feet.

I don't know what I'm getting at with this, really. I'm thinking a lot about life lately. My grandmother used to be a tiny, wrinkly baby, too. My great-grandmother probably enjoyed snuggling her chubby stomach as much as I enjoyed snuggling my new niece's.

And life goes on.