The Free Kindle Book Experiment- Exit Unicorns

The Free Kindle Book Experiment- Exit Unicorns

Tomorrow is the beginning of my Kindle experiment. When you sign up for Kindle Direct Publishing, and are in their ‘Select’ program, it means two things- you can’t offer the book on any other ebook platform and you get five free days- this means you can offer your book for free during any five days that you choose and book with Amazon. As I am running down to the end here with the Select program, (my books revert back on the 6th of June) we decided to use some of our free days and see what happens.

I decided to do this for one simple reason- the potential it has to get my books in front of many more readers. The fanbase I currently have is terrific, I just want to increase their numbers.

When I first heard of this program, it sounded a little nutty, frankly. Giving books away to build up your audience? But it makes sense to me now, and I’ve read enough about other authors who have done it and had an increase in sales after, that I’m willing to take a chance. I’m going to use my blog to record how this unfolds for the book.

‘Exit Unicorns’ was my first novel, it’s where this journey began for me. It’s still my highest selling book as well- makes sense though being that it’s the introduction to the series.

‘Exit Unicorns’ will be free for the days of June 1st-June 3rd. It can be gifted to others- there’s a button off to one side on the page on Amazon- it can be gifted to anyone who has a Kindle, or a device that can download a Kindle app- such as a PC, iPhone, iPad, etc. All you need is the person’s e-mail address. And it won’t cost you a penny. Of course, you can simply download it for yourself too.

I admit this feels a bit out of my comfort zone, as regards marketing a book. But I promised myself that I would take chances, that even when I didn’t necessarily have faith in myself, I would always have faith in my books. So here goes- let the adventure begin! Stay tuned as I navigate these uncharted waters. 🙂

 

 

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The world is filled with magical things…and every once in awhile they scare the hell out of a person.

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I could have just as easily titled this blog post- ‘We live in a rational world, and I, as it turns out, am not a terribly rational girl.’

Recently my oldest daughter was talking to me about auditory hallucinations. Something which I think most of us experience every now and again- you know that voice that calls your name out of the blue, when you know you’re alone in the house? It got me to thinking though, how much more common some of this phenomena seems to be in childhood, and I wondered why that should be? For instance the bogeyman at the end of your bed- when you would wake up and see a dark man standing there and were paralyzed with fear until he disappeared? I know most of us have had these experiences, in one form or another, our ghosts after all are personal and shaped to fit our our particular experience of the world.

I think sometimes that there’s a door open in childhood that gets shut in adulthood, or at least gently closed so that we can’t peer through it in quite the same way. But sometimes a breeze comes along and the door cracks open again, only what comes through isn’t always lovely and shivery, magical yes, but not lovely. For instance there was the day this gentleman presented himself to me:

    I am the Crooked Man and I come by crooked ways, along the phantom roads of a country that is no more. I walk by night, under the moon, both dark and full. I have seen all the foibles and furies of man, his tempests and his tragedies. I have known what it is to lose all and gain it back, only to lose it again. I remember a time when my country was still in the mists, before history, when the white stag roamed in the forests and the wolves called from hilltop to hilltop.

    I am the Crooked Man and I carry within my bones the shells of the seas and the dust of the heavens. In my blood are the waters that covered the land long ago, the ice that gouged the canyons and hills, the valleys and streams, the lakes and rivers.

    I am the flicker in the corner of your eye, there and then gone, seen only in passing and then dismissed by your eyes and your head, though your backbone knows better. I stand at the dark crossroads. You know, you have seen me there, deny it though your daylight self will. I am the chill that quivers your flesh and makes you look behind on dark nights.

I distinctly felt a ‘presence’ in the room with me that day, and didn’t dare look behind, as the hair was already up on the back of my neck. It wasn’t something I could even talk myself out of later, it simply was and he was for the time it took to put him down on paper.

I think perhaps, it comes down to circular thinking- believing in the life/death/rebirth cycle, of knowing that we all end up where we begin, as energy in the universe, therefore we are able to feel the energy of that which we can’t see with the naked eye. It still exists only our sight is too limited to see it, or we only catch a glimpse and then talk ourselves out of what we’ve glimpsed moments later. Children don’t talk themselves out of it though, they simply accept what comes through.

I blame my Celtic ancestors. The Celts viewed time as a circle- each day, each festival began at dusk, their year began with the festival of Samhain on October 31st, when nature was putting itself to sleep for the winter. Samhain was when the veil between this world and that thinned so fine that the dead could pass through and come to warm themselves at the fires of the living and the rare living person- mostly poets it was thought- could enter the Otherworld through the doorways of the sidhe (fairies) such as the great Hill of Tara. To not just believe such things, but to know them means they would truly exist- reality after all, is only our perspective of it. How spiritually rich such a life would be.

Fall is my favourite season, because there is a sense in the air that invisible portals are there just out of reach, but you can catch a glimpse of them now and again, shimmering in the air, there and then gone.

    For this was the thin time when the earth laid bare her bones and showed her gems in the random berry left on the vine, the sheath of ice forming in perfect geometry across a pond and the black gleam of a naked birch branch. This was the threshold of winter, when the soil slept, harvests were put up, and life could hang by a thread. In this time, dreams came unbidden, rippling up from the dark wellsprings of the unconscious, murmuring things one would rather not know. These were the dreams that haunted during the daylight hours, spun fine as webbing round the senses, bringing hard questions into the light.


There is no way to know when the door will open to that other realm, sometimes it opens when you least expect it and sometimes it remains firmly shut despite your best efforts to conjure it open even just a crack. And maybe that is why we always miss childhood, and long for it as though it’s our own personal Avalon- lost in the mists and filled with orchards of golden apples and silver pears. Because we no longer know how to leave the door open. But still we stand on the other side, hand upon the doorknob, hoping.

 

 

 

Vulnerability…

What a loaded word that is for most of us. We associate it with fear, with weakness, with instability, with starting new things, with ending old things.  We are all prey to vulnerability in our lives- you can’t love someone, including yourself without having to live with vulnerability.

Writers are incredibly well-acquainted with this particular emotion. I was once listening to Jack Whyte give a talk about what it is to be a writer- that a writer puts his soul into his own hands and offers it to the world, knowing that the world may well reject his/her soul.  There’s not much in my life that makes me feel more vulnerable than putting out a new book- something I did very recently. I can only equate it to standing naked on a freeway at rush hour, without the option to run and hide.  And then the reviews start to roll in- when I see new ones pop up on Amazon or Goodreads, I tend to shut one eye, or read the review through the buttonhole of my sweater (I’m not sure why I feel this will help with the possible emotional trauma of a bad review, but it’s also how I watched Kurt Browning in the Olympics many years ago, somehow it seems to cut the anxiety down a wee bit.)

The newest book is always the baby- as it is still, as my friend Roxanne once so astutely said, attached to your liver. 🙂 You hope readers will love it as much if not more than they did the first books, but then you feel sorry for the first books, as though they’ve suddenly been cast to the wayside.

The things that make me feel vulnerable are less than perfect reviews, though I actually think it looks better to have a few reviews that aren’t as glowing, otherwise everyone suspects you have only friends and people who owe you money posting reviews. 🙂  Book launches, book signings, interviews, and parties. Yes, this is my latest issue. A lovely lady here in town suggested to me that I ought to celebrate my new book being out, because until we celebrate our successes they are not real. So I thought it over and decided to be courageous and damn well do it. Well, the venue got booked, the cake was ordered, invites went out and then I found myself waking up to anxiety every morning- with the ‘uglies’ running through my head- who am I to have a party (I’m aware of how pathetic that sounds), I’m not successful enough to celebrate, what was I thinking, what if no one shows up (I already have a healthy amount of RSVPs, but nevertheless) what if I take an attack of the vapours (I love the Victorian emotions) and can’t read when I have to get up there, or can’t think of a thing to say, never mind something witty. (This is a legitimate fear. I was a speaker/coordinator at a writer’s conference once and part of my job was to go up and ask these famous writers if everything was to their liking. I went up to Terry Brooks, and suddenly had paralyzation of the throat- why, I don’t know. While he’s a perfectly nice gentleman I don’t actually read sci-fi, and wasn’t familiar with his work. He ended up taking me to sit down and ordered me a drink- not one of my prouder moments.)

I hesitated to even write this blog entry- because yes, to tell you these things, and give you a peek into the writer’s emotions is not really something I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to remain somewhat mysterious, and not give out that behind the Emerald curtain even the most successful of writers feel this way.  Peter Matthiessen once said he had terrific anxiety each time he started a new book- certain that it was all over, that he would never write anything decent again. I go through this exact scenario each time I begin something new- I doubt my ability to finish, to write a decent sentence ever again, never mind to move people to laughter and tears and frustration. Or what if people simply stop reading my work, buying my books?  As I face starting my next book, I feel intensely vulnerable- and running away to Ireland to pull pints in a grotty bar for tourists, sounds utterly charming about now.  (of course in this grotty bar my boss is someone who looks shockingly like Colin Farrell, or maybe Liam Neeson, it varies on whichever day I am entertaining this grotty bar dream).

Then I watched this video with Brene Brown- and she suggested embracing vulnerability- the idea kinda sounded like running out at the witching hour and kissing the bogeyman, because really he’s just a misunderstood figure… But then I understood what she was saying- vulnerability is part of our lives, it’s not going anywhere and it will be at its worst when we are doing the exact things we are supposed to- that which takes the most courage- even when we’re low on belief.

So for the next while I am going to practice kissing the bogeyman and see where it takes me. 🙂  How about you- what makes you feel vulnerable- love, money, children, job, the opinion of others? (I solve this one by realizing nobody is thinkin’ about me anywhere near as much as I might think they are. )

I guess what I realized, as I pondered this idea of vulnerability, is that it’s a strength and part of the human experience and if we learn to embrace it rather than fighting or running from it, who knows where it might take us?

And when I feel choked with anxiety, as a result of vulnerability, I think of Vincent Van Gogh who certainly knew what it meant to be vulnerable and yet through great personal pain and struggle gave us some of the world’s most treasured art works. He had to paint and so he painted through the pain and insecurity and mental illness and gave us such gifts to take our breath away. He and Carl Sagan showed me the stars in ways I had never seen them before, and I have never looked at them the same since. So I thank him for embracing his vulnerability and that he just painted through it, even if the bogeyman never really left him alone.  That is courage of a sort I aspire to.  Still I guarantee you that the minute I hit the publish button, I am going to feel vulnerable for talking about how vulnerable I often feel.