• Dreamin’ big!

    I’ve got plans—big plans.  

    I plan to work on this website to make it as good as I can possibly get it. I also plan to create a comic strip to go on my home page.  I’m going to finish my current e-book and get it online by October. 

    While I’m working on those things, I plan to revise two—maybe all three—of the e-books I have on Amazon and find new improved ways to promote them. 

    That all sounds pretty reasonable, right? It would be, if I had a longer time frame in mind and didn’t have a full-time job.  I want all of this done in just over four months.  

    I’m absolutely positive I can do it because I’ve been doing a lot of studying on manifesting the life I want. In the next few months, I plan to turn my writing into a profitable, fun business.  

    Where do I get that confidence about my success? I’ve been studying about how we create the lives we want. It’s all based on Biblical principles that tell us we can have what we want out of life. A lot of people call it law of attraction, but I prefer to think of it in more spiritual terms.  

    Even with my faith and determination, this will be a challenge for me.  

    I’m not tech savvy and have to watch a lot of YouTube videos to figure out ways to improve my website. All that info gathering will be worth it in the end, but right now, my brain is seriously overloaded.  

    It’s not just new technical info floating around up there in my gray matter. I’ve also watched at ton of videos on how to draw. Yes, I’ve decided to start a comic strip when I don’t know how to draw. A little odd, I know, but it’s not out of character for me to try and do something I know nothing about.   

    The comic strip will be based on two of my characters, Essie and Floyd Watson. I love the characters and want to tell stories about them in a fun way. Hopefully by July, I will have gained enough drawing skills to put a simple weekly comic strip on my home page.

    With all that to get done, I’m also going to finish one book and revise a few others. If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was losing it because I’m being overly ambitious.

    In spite of having some pretty big goals, and there being only twenty-four hours in a day, I plan to get all that stuff done on time—and without pulling my hair out. 

     

  • A writing self challenge

    The e-book I’m working on, A Most Unusual Hexplanation, is a great read.  It has a little of everything—humor, love, family drama, the paranormal. Including all that good stuff has led to the book being longer than I want it to be.

    I’ve decided to limit Hexplanation to 60,000 words. The first draft is already at 62,000 words, and there are some scenes to flesh out, so this will be a challenging task.

    Where did I get my 60,000 word plan? Blame it on being on lockdown for the corona virus. I have way too much free time. When my mind is idle, it tends to wander to strange places.

    But I didn’t come up with this plan entirely on my own. For the past week or so, I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos, and not just of baby pandas (but mostly of baby pandas!).

    I’ve watched one video after another where writers give tips on making books more interesting. The writers talk about deleting unnecessary scenes and words.

    And so I’m working to follow that advice because I want to make Hexplanation best seller quality—even if it never reaches best seller status. I want people who buy my book to feel like they’ve gotten their money’s worth.  I’ve been cramming the YouTubers’ writing advice into my brain to the point where I feel like it’s about to explode from excess information.

    I didn’t do nearly this much info gathering for my first two books. In fact, I didn’t do any. I just started typing and kept going until I ran out of words to add to the stories.

    But now, I’m a serious writer, and I want to do things the right way. That means getting rid of unnecessary scenes and words.  I’d like to believe every word—heck, every comma—is absolutely essential. Still, I’m going to bite the bullet and cut some stuff from my baby.

    Coming soon!

    I’ve changed the release date of Hexplanation many, many times. At the moment, I’m looking at getting it online in July or August. It’s going to be the most amazing book ever. Well, the most amazing book ever written by Zanna Johns.

    By the way, please tell me that you guys know what the image at the beginning of this post is. If you don’t know, I’m going to feel very, very old!

  • Life as a technically challenged blogger

    Blogging is not my strong point. That may seem like a strange thing to read on anyone’s blog, but it’s true. I enjoy releasing my inner silliness anonymously, so creating articles is not the issue. However, setting up the basic elements of a blog is proving to be a challenge, to put it very mildly.

    I’ve had this site for years, and last week I realized it was missing an essential feature: a way for readers to contact me. You’d think that I would’ve had that in place before my page went public, or at least two or three years in. But nope, not me.

    I went along my merry way, creating posts while doing nothing to promote them. That approach has been less than successful, as I get few visitors. I’m going to work on that issue—as soon as I get all the necessary pieces in place for a good blog.

    I think I’ve set up the contact page correctly. It took a couple days to do it. Seems like it wouldn’t be so hard, right? I tried a plugin to create my contact page, but for some reason, it wouldn’t work. I deleted the plugin and tried another one. Then another…and another…and another…

    Finally, I figured out what was wrong. The confirmations were going to an email address that I never use. In fact, I don’t know if I ever finished setting up the account for that email address. After a couple days of frustration, I got the contact page working right.

    That project completed, I began a new one – coming up with a way  to notify readers of new posts. This turned out to be just as much fun as creating the contact page, but I got it done, and I finally had things properly set up on here. Or so I thought.

    A few days ago, it dawned on me that my page had no footer. How did I miss that?

    I haven’t been nearly as dedicated to fixing that problem as I was with the contact and subscription issues. After all, how many readers care about what’s at the bottom of a web page? I’m counting on that number being zero, because the footer I added is a work in progress and leaves much to be desired.

    With the footer in place – even a crappy one – I was ready to rest easy, knowing all was mostly well with this site. Then today, I discovered a new problem. There’s no privacy policy. No one reads that stuff, but I still need one. I think I do anyway. Who knows?

    I’m not ready to tackle the privacy policy just yet. I need time to recover from the trauma of working on the other things. From the little I’ve read on the subject, creating the privacy policy page promises to be a whole lot of fun for someone as technically challenged as I am.

  • I survived the beta readers!

    I did it!

    I looked at the beta reader feedback for my two-star shame (known on Amazon as Undead of Night) and lived to write a blog post about it. I was a bit hesitant to read the information, even though I’d paid for it. I was worried that I’d become unglued over the slightest criticism about my baby.

    I only used two readers. I sent out requests to three workers on Fiverr, but one person did not respond until six days later. By then, I had the info I wanted. Two beta readers are probably all my fragile writer’s ego can handle right now anyway.

    The ladies who read my work said they liked the stories overall. That led to a surprising issue: I questioned their motives for saying good things. Did they only pretend to like the stories because they wanted bonuses? Or maybe because they want me to hire them to beta read future books?

    I know I’m seriously overthinking this. I do believe the stories in Undead of Night are pretty good, so I shouldn’t be surprised the ladies said positive things about them. If I thought the stories were bad, I never would’ve put them online.

    Some of the weaknesses the beta readers mentioned were issues that I was already aware of. So I’ll take the attitude that the ladies were honest with their feedback. I’m going to use it to polish Undead of Night to the best of my ability.

    I’m going to move that two-star rating up to a solid three!

  • Can I handle the truth? 

    I just had the most amazing idea.

    In order to fix all that’s wrong with Undead of Night (AKA my two-star shame!), I’m going to get feedback from others.  

    You’d probably be horrified to know that I didn’t have the book critiqued at all before I posted it online. My only excuse—I’m just special like that. I like to pretend I can do everything—write, critique, edit and proofread my e-books—without one bit of input from others. 

    Clearly, I’ve been deluding myself. And now I’m going to fix the problem. But how to go about this? I live as if I’m an island unto myself, so I don’t have any online writing friends to call on for help.  

    I’m certainly not going to let family and friends see my work. They might hurt my feelings with the truth. Or even worse, lie to avoid bruising my sometimes fragile writer’s ego! 

    My bank account is not exactly overflowing with money at this moment, so I have to be frugal. That leaves me with using Fiverr, because that site is about as affordable as they come. I used it once to advertise my books. The results were disappointing, to put it mildly.  

    Still, I’m going to give Fiverr one more chance, mostly because broke beggars can’t be choosers. I’m gonna turn my two-star baby, Undead of Night, over to complete strangers to tell me all that’s wrong with it. Can’t say I’m looking forward to that, but I’ll never grow as a writer if I don’t start getting feedback from readers.  

    That sounded pretty mature of me, right? Hope I don’t end up crying like a baby when I read the critiques!

     

     

  • Oh, my stars!

    As I’m typing this, I’m amazed that I am not in the bottom of my closet in fetal position. I had a horrible shock yesterday, the kind an amateur author might have difficulty surviving.

    I was getting ready to do more editing on my first e-book, even though it’s been online for years.  I want that book as good as I can possibly get it. I was debating whether more editing is worth my time. I decided that I should probably leave that book—and the second one—alone.

    To reinforce that decision, I went to Goodreads to look at the ratings for the first two e-books. They both average four-star ratings. I decided I can live with that, so no more editing for Doesn’t Take a Crystal Ball or a Psychic Couldn’t See It.

    I was about to leave that page when I saw it.

    My other e-book, Undead of Night, had finally received a rating. It wasn’t a good one – TWO stars!

    I always figured I’d be distraught at my first low rating. To my extreme amazement, I was somewhat amused by those two stars.

    I gave that book a very good effort, but it’s not what I’d hoped it would be. Now, I do think it’s worth three stars, but that reader obviously disagrees.

    Because I’m an amateur, it’s comforting that disappointed readers can get their money back from Amazon. As far as I can tell, my non-fan has not gotten a refund. Wouldn’t blame him/her if he/she did. No one should lose money on a crappy e-book. 

    In some ways, it’s good to have that low rating. I no longer have to worry about when it’ll happen, or how I’ll respond. It’s happened. I’ve mostly shrugged it off. And now I’m going to move on with the writing.

    While I’ve decided not to revise my first two books, I do plan to revise Undead of Night. Obviously, there’s room for improvement.

    It will remain on Amazon until the new version is available. It’ll be my badge of dishonor!

     

     

  • Looking for love in all the wrong places

    Lizzie Chandler, one of my main characters, is a psychic matchmaker. She uses her gift to help lonely women find love. Lizzie has a great success rate, with almost all of her matched couples living happily ever after.

    In the real world, finding the right partner is way more difficult. There are tons of online dating sites, but I don’t have a whole lot of faith in them.

    I’ve tried several different ones. It wasn’t because I was really looking for love.  I was mostly just curious about online dating. I never went out with any of the guys that I interacted with, but being on those sites was entertaining.

    One guy emailed me within a day of me setting up my profile. I didn’t post a picture, and from what I’ve read, profiles without pictures don’t get many responses. The fact that the guy contacted me so quickly was a definite red flag that something was off.

    After I exchanged a few messages with him, I thought he sounded familiar. I asked if he used to live in a certain town that was just over an hour away. Never heard from him again!

    It was no real loss, as I wasn’t actually looking for Mr. Right. It did put me off using online dating sites, even to satisfy my curiosity.

    The whole experience was pretty bad, but you want to know what’s less fun than trying to meet guys online? Having well meaning friends trying to find a match for you.

    My friends don’t have the talent that Lizzie has. Talk about disastrous attempts at matchmaking! I’m not sure what they were thinking when they decided to hook me up with any of those guys. Fortunately for me, my friends don’t play Cupid too often.

    Dating sites and matchmaking friends failed to lead me to a guy that I like. I don’t run into many decent, eligible men when I’m out and about.

    So where am I supposed to look if I get serious about meeting The One? Maybe I should give online dating another try. Maybe I used the wrong sites before. Surely there’s at least one site worth my time.

    Have you ladies had any luck with online dating? If so, what site do you recommend?

     

  • Do real psychics exist?

    The main characters of my books are psychics. One character, Lizzie Chandler, is a psychic matchmaker. The other, Mikala Davenport, sees dead people.

    While psychics make for great entertainment in books, movies and TV, I’m not sure if there is any more to them than that.

    I grew up in the South.  I won’t say where, but it’s one of those states that people are a little embarrassed to claim. A few years ago, I moved to another state, but I’m still a Southerner.

    We’re known to have some odd ideas down here. All my life, I’ve been around people who firmly believe in psychics.  I’ve always wavered on that subject. I’ve had psychic readings at fairs and flea markets (or swap meets as some people call them).  The psychics at those places were pretty bad.

    There was one older Native American gentleman doing psychic readings at a flea market.  I immediately thought of those wise old Indians in the movies.  Not being racist there, but we all know Hollywood plays up that stereotype.

    I’m guessing the guy at the flea market was counting on poor suckers believing that Hollywood nonsense.  I’m embarrassed to admit that I was one of those suckers and forked over twenty of my hard-earned bucks to the guy.

    He started the reading by telling me I’d live to be 40 or 45 years old. As you can probably imagine, things went downhill from there! That was a number of years ago, and I still can’t shake that stupid prediction. I’m not going to admit my age, but let’s just say that if the guy was right, the Grim Reaper might be knocking on my door any day now.

    Once, I went to a house that had one of those “psychic adviser” signs in the yard. The sign should have had the “for entertainment purposes only” disclaimer on it, because it was the most laughable psychic readings a person could ever have.

    The woman would say something, and then ask if she was right. When I said she wasn’t, she’d say, “Yes, it is.”  It was quite entertaining, but probably not in the way that woman meant for it to be.

    Before I go on, I’m going to take a moment to offer words of wisdom: Never, ever go into a total stranger’s home for a psychic reading (or any other reason if you can avoid it). There are a lot of crazy people out there! I had my coworker with me, but still, it was beyond stupid for two young females to willingly go into a stranger’s home.

    I saw a sign in one yard for “physic readings.” I was smart enough not to stop there. If the person couldn’t see that the sign was spelled wrong, then she certainly couldn’t see into my future.

    I did go to one psychic who seemed to REALLY know his stuff. I’m not going to say more about that person, because I’m paranoid that he’ll know I’ve been talking about him online.  I’m thinking it might be a bad thing to get on the wrong side of a true psychic.

    But then again, maybe that guy snowed me, and true psychics don’t even exist. I’m not sure what to believe.

    What do you think? Are there people who really have the gift?