Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Month: February 2012

Unfracking My Delayed Adolescence

So I’ve had a Tumblr blog for a while now, but I’ve finally started using it for real in order to play along with Unf*** Your Habitat, a surprisingly effective motivational Tumblr for getting off your hinder and making your house look like a gorram grownup lives there for a change.

I’ve only been doing this for two days, and already I’ve conquered the hard water deposits in my toilet bowl (earning an animated Cheering!Buffy from UFYH in the process, squee!), cleaned and organized my bathroom shelves, fixed up Matilda’s habitat, made time for novel editing, and made my bed and scooped out the cat boxes two days in a row. You guys, I even flossed my teeth. Dare I say that this project might just succeed in turning me into a grownup? I might be getting ahead of myself there. But if it succeeds in getting my house clean enough to have company over next week, I’ll take it.

If you’re on Tumblr, by all means please follow me, and I’ll follow you right back. And then together we can Unfrack All The Things!

On Too Much Pizza, Light Bulbs, and My Shiny New Blog Theme.

This week is getting away from me. It’s already more than halfway over and I’m just managing to get started. Of course, it’s my own dang fault. After we went to Gingrich’s speech on Monday, we were both tired and feeling a little down about the state of Life, the Universe and Everything, so we ordered pizza for dinner to cheer ourselves up. That led to a pizza, beer & ice cream binge, which led to a night of fitful sleep and insomnia, which led to a Tuesday that turned out to be a sick day as I caught up on sleep and recovered from an unplanned night of gluttony.

Which brings us to today, which was supposed to be a catching up day. But then shortly after I got up this morning Husband asked if we could please go to Target and pick up a handful of non-grocery items that we’ve been needing to get, including, but not limited to, a new floor lamp (necessary thanks to the incandescent bulb ban which means we can no longer buy the extra large three-way bulbs for our antique lamp; yes, they make extra large three-way CFL bulbs, but they all have a standard base, and our lamp has an extra-large socket. So now our beautiful antique lamp is a useless piece of landfill fodder, unless we can find a way to re-wire it. Way to save the planet there, incandescent bulb ban!) and a storage bin that will become a new and less cramped terrarium for Matilda the Turtle.

And of course, after we returned from Target I was rendered about as useless as our old lamp until I’d had a couple of hours to recover from the drain of Going Out Into The World. Which is always what happens whenever we go anywhere for any reason. Yay for introversion!

And tomorrow, Matt wants to spend the day going to Home Depot and stopping by some local businesses that have either crappy or non-existent web sites to say hi and drop off our business card. And then Friday is grocery shopping day. Really, I might as well just give up any plans I had to get anything done online this week that doesn’t involve Netflix or Hulu or staring at Pinterest going “Oooh, pretty!” I certainly haven’t managed to get any editing done.

Anyway, and speaking of getting things done online, before this sudden rush of eagerness to leave the house and interact with people on the part of my beloved, I managed to make some changes to this blog that you might have noticed if you’ve come here to read or comment instead of doing it on Livejournal or in a feed reader. I finally found the time to customize a theme to better coordinate with the rest of my web site, and I think it looks much more professional. I also added a “Shop” section, which is an Amazon store selling both my books and those of all of the indie authors that I’ve featured on this blog. Be sure to check out that section, because as I was adding the books I noticed that some of them are currently free to download. Hooray for free e-books!

In Lieu Of An Actual Blog Post, Here Are My Plans For This Week

It will be at least Tuesday before I have time to sit down and write up some real posts for this week, so in the interest of filling this space with some sort of fresh content, here’s my To Do list for the week:

  • Go see Newt Gingrich. This is happening Monday (it’s probably happening as you read this — either that or I’m in the bathroom getting ready for it. Yay for post scheduling!). Is this a rally? None of the news articles called it a rally, so I don’t think so. At any rate, this will be my first time to go see a presidential candidate and hear what he has to say in person. Should be interesting.
  • Craft a proposal for a potential new client. Oh, the exciting and glamorous life of a freelance web designer.
  •  Gussy up my Facebook timeline, and create an official Author page. I finally have enough people who have friended me there because of my books to justify a page. And then maybe my real life friends and family will stop getting shut out of my news feed and I’ll actually know what’s going on.
  • Write some blog posts, yes.
  • Edit Dominion, which ought to go without saying, but if I say it I’m more likely to do it.
  • Solicit some more guest posts and interviews so I can revive the Indie Author Spotlight feature (drop a comment if you’d like to be featured).
  • Redo Matilda’s habitat.
  • Make some deodorant.
Normally my weekly To Do list is a lot longer than this, but I want to leave room to get started on that client project in case my proposal gets accepted. Either way, I’m sure it will get added to faster than it gets crossed off, which is usually what happens.
What are your plans this week? Any major plans or Must Accomplish items?

My First 8 Months of Indie Publishing: June through January Book Sales

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while now. I think being transparent with sales numbers is a big help to other indie authors, and to the self-publishing industry as a whole. So without further ado, here is my sales record since I published my first book back in June.

Unless otherwise indicated, these are for e-book copies of Restless Spirits priced at $2.99. You’ll note a few copies of Fragments & Fancies in there — that one’s priced at 99 cents. Also, although it’s been available in trade paperback since July, I have yet to sell any hard copies of Restless Spirits.

June 2011

  • Amazon – 8 (5 US, 3 UK)
  • Smashwords – 0
  • B&N – 4

July 2011

  • Amazon – 3 (All US)
  • Smashwords – 2*
  • B&N – 0

August 2011

  • Amazon – 2 (1 US, 1 UK)
  • Smashwords – 1 (Fragments)
  • B&N – 2 (Fragments)

September 2011

  • Amazon – 3 (1 Restless Spirits US, 1 Fragments US, 1 RS UK)
  • Smashwords -0
  • B&N – 0

October 2011

  • Amazon – 1 (US, Fragments)
  • Smashwords – 23**
  • B&N – 0

November 2011

  • Amazon – 0
  • Smashwords – 0
  • B&N – 0

December 2011

  • Amazon – 1 (US)
  • Smashwords – 0
  • B&N – 0

January 2012

  • Amazon – 2 (US)
  • Smashwords – 0
  • B&N – 1 (Fragments)

* It was on sale for 50% off

** I publicized a coupon to get it for free during the month of October

Total Sales (not counting the October giveaway copies): 30

Average monthly sales: 3.75


Clearly, is my biggest market over all, although Barnes & Noble has done better for Fragments. I wonder if that means anything about Nook users having more of a penchant for short story collections. Smashwords hasn’t really been great for sales, but they are really great for generating buzz through sales and giveaways since they make coupon generation so easy.

November was my only month with a total goose egg — that probably has something to do with the fact that I was too busy doing NaNoWriMo to do any active promotion. December sales were also pretty dismal despite my participation in a holiday Kindle giveaway that was meant to draw a lot of attention to me and Restless Spirits for Christmas. Although it did net me a lot of new Twitter and Facebook followers, so that’s something. But if January is any indication, then things are starting to pick back up.

I know those numbers are lacking in the “Wow!” department, but honestly, a steady rate of 3-4 books a month is better than I expected, considering that I’m only offering one novel and what amounts to a chapbook.  It will be interesting to see if and by how much things pick up after I release Dominion. I’m planning to do quite a bit of pre-promotion in the run up to its release, which I didn’t do at all for either of my first two books. I’ve already got a little buzz going for it, thanks to including the first two chapters with the free copies of Restless Spirits that I gave away in October.

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with these numbers.

More Sustainable Hygiene: DIY Deodorant

DIY Deodorant

Image credit:

In my recent post on Frugal & Sustainable Beauty and Hygiene, I mentioned that I was on the lookout for a good alternative to store-bought deodorant. Shortly after that post went up, my new best friend Pinterest showed me a recipe for DIY deodorant made from coconut oil, arrow root and baking soda.  Sounds great! Except, arrow root is enough of a specialty item around here that I’d have to make a special trip to the health food store to get it, and it would also mean spending extra money on something that I wasn’t sure I’d use for anything else. Continue reading

Survival Crafts: DIY Pet Harness

Recently when putting together a bug-out bag for my pets (more on that in a later post), I realized that I needed harnesses for each of my three cats. We have carriers for each of them, but once we get to our bug-out location we don’t want to keep them crated the whole time, and we don’t know how safe it will be to let them run around unsupervised. But faced with no money to go out and buy three harness and leash combos, I turned instead to my massive yarn stash, and to the Internet, where I was sure I’d find instructions on how to make some harnesses.

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In Which Jean Can’t Put Down the Crochet Hook

One reason I wanted to move this blog to WordPress was so that I could have more segmentation, mainly so I could have a whole section devoted to crafts. But then I never got around to sharing any of the stuff I make. But after a badly needed weekend of rest spent mainly kicking back and crocheting while I caught up on all of my TV shows, it’s time to remedy that. So here’s what I made during my weekend of sloth.

Granny Slippers

I had made another pair of these back in October or November, a yellow/gray/pink pair that turned out too big, but still cute. But I wore those out before I got around to taking pictures, so here are my Granny Square Slippers, Take 2.

I was about to give Pinterest the credit for the pattern and inspiration, but I couldn’t find such a pin on my craft board, so I must have found them on Ravelry instead. Sure enough, here’s the pattern.

Ear-flap Hat

I didn’t use a pattern for the hat. I’ve made a few hats as gifts recently, so I had the basic hat pattern memorized, and I improvised the ear-flaps, cords and pom-poms, inspired by this pin. I had a left-over ball of this green and yellow wool yarn in my stash, but it wasn’t quite enough to make an adult-sized hat. I had made a hat and scarf set from this yarn years ago, but I wasn’t totally happy with how they turned out and they’ve been lingering in my closet ever since. So I frogged the other hat (which was rib knit) and used that yarn to add length to the hat, as well as the ear-flaps and cords. I think it turned out really cute. I’ve got plans to frog the scarf as well and re-knit it into a neck-warmer similar to this.

So that’s how I spent my weekend. How was yours?

No More “Product” – Frugal & Sustainable Beauty and Hygiene

Frugal BeautyI’m in the process of weening myself off of store-bought beauty and hygiene products. There are a lot of reasons for this; for one thing, it’s saving us a lot of money. Products are expensive, and even the cheaper alternatives like Suave or generic brands add up to quite the chunk of change over time. The natural alternatives I’m switching to tend to be much more frugal, and they tend to be things we keep around the house already.

Store-bought products also tend to violate the survival rule of only packing or storing items that have at least two or three different uses. Oh, sure, a bottle of hairspray can double as fuel for fire starting in a pinch, and as a flame thrower if you find yourself under attack by a zombie horde, but most other beauty and hygiene products are pretty much single use. Also, if TEOTWAWKI ever happens, it’s not like I’ll just be able to skip down to Walmart for new shampoo and toothpaste when I run out. Natural alternatives tend to be a little more sustainable, and by switching now, at least I’ll stand a chance of being able to keep up my beauty routine after the poo hits the fan.
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