Gayla Drummond

My Goal Progress

2017 Minimum Word Count Goal
Phase:Writing
Due:7 months
16.4%
2017 Bonus Word Count Challenge
Phase:Writing
Due:7 months
4.7%

New Release and More

Long time, no blogging so I’m gonna head straight into the news.

New Release: Just Like Magic

DJ_JLM_Cover_4x6 <Click the cover for more info.

Discord is bored: She isn’t being assigned new cases because she’s been outed in the media, resulting in too close for comfort scrutiny. Logan’s suggestion of a weekend getaway sounds like the perfect remedy.

Three whole days of just the two of them and no responsibilities? Hell, yes.

When your boyfriend’s a shifter, the destination is guaranteed to be magical. And where there’s magic, trouble has a tendency to arise.

PLEASE NOTE: Just Like Magic is a novella length work (roughly half the length of Black Magic Shadows). It was intended to be a “snack” between A Little Street Magic and Discord #8, which wasn’t cooperating with me about being written. However, due to running afoul of Amazon’s series listing rules, I’ve had to change it from being #6.5 to #7 in the series (and that’s still not going to result in it being listed properly as part of the series, because Amazon doesn’t “support” novella length works in ordered series at this time). The description states that is a novella length work as well.

Just Like Magic IS a part of the series, introducing a few new characters that will join our regular cast, and who may have a spin-off series of their own in the future.

In The Works: Of Gods & Tigers

With the above-mentioned “snack” story out of the way, the next full-length Discord title will now be #8 instead of #7. I know, I’m having moments of confusion about it too. At least it’s now cooperating with being written! 🙂

That doesn’t change much, other than there being an extra Discord title for the first series arc. The first series arc will end with Discord #10, and if everyone’s not tired of Discord and Company at that point, a second series arc will begin with Discord #11.

There Have Been Dogs, and There’s Been a Huge Loss

Over the past couple of months, I’ve gotten more involved in volunteering for our local shelter’s adoption program, which my friend Kristi is pretty much the backbone of. I’ve transported puppies as far as Kansas, as well as just up to Lubbock, and run new adoption prospects up to our local vet clinic for shots and stuff. It’s been mostly fun, because PUPPIES and DOGS!

I love that I’m getting the opportunity to help save more animals (as our home is FULL), as well as help Kristi a little more than I was before. 🙂

But it does sometimes disrupt things a little bit when my heart overrides my brain, as it did recently. I’ve mentioned this over on the Discord Jones site, but in case you missed it, I’ll tell the story here too.

On Thursday, July 14, I went to the shelter to do some stuff and some new dogs had been picked up. One of them was a young shepherd mix that was pregnant. She was terrified, but in pretty good shape, and since our shelter only has a 72 hour hold on stray/at-large intakes and the shelter was full (as is our adoption program), I knew she’d be high on the list to be put down.

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Much as it sucks, space is limited at the shelter, and both space and money are limited for the adoption program. Even so, it bothered the hell out of me that this young dog and her puppies wouldn’t get a chance because of those things, and I decided I had to do something to prevent it. What, I didn’t know, but something.

Due to her being in pretty good shape, I figured she’d been dumped for getting pregnant. Yeah, I know. People. [shakes head]

I mentioned this dog on Facebook on Friday, July 15, and a dear friend of mine said she’d take the dog in a heartbeat, to foster and find homes for her and her puppies. The only problem was, she lived in Reno NV, and that’s kind of a long way to figure out transporting a “personal project” dog.

That’s when my House Hunney stepped in. His new job has pretty much had him on the road since April, with just a few days between trips at home. Even though he’d just gotten home, he said he’d drive this dog to my friend in Reno if she were serious about taking her, and we could scrape up the money for gas and motel stays for the trip.

Hope raised its head. After checking that my friend, JC, was indeed serious, I immediately posted on Facebook, explaining the situation and asking for help. We ran up to the shelter to introduce House Hunney to the dog, whom I christened “Little Momma” and put a note on her kennel that rescue was at hand.

By the time we returned, people had already donated the majority of the $500 we needed for trip expenses. Saving Little Momma and her unborn pups was a go!

We were all really excited, and the final donations covered the trip expenses plus $50 toward vetting expenses once JC had the dog. I ran and picked up Little Momma on Saturday morning, just a few hours before her time would’ve run out. She was able to hang out in our backyard until House Hunney finished a big “Honey Do” thing and was ready to go.

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Little Momma is a super sweet, medium-sized dog. She was hesitant about leaving, but loaded up without a fuss. House Hunney kept us informed during their trip, and they finally reached Reno in the wee hours of Monday, July 18. We’d done it!

Then things began to go wrong, but I didn’t realize it until Tuesday because I was keeping my nose out of things to give Little Momma time to settle in at JC’s, and not be one of those people who drive fosters nuts. I texted on Tuesday to see how things were going, and learned that my friend was in the hospital. She was trying to make other arrangements for Little Momma in spite of that.

I woke up Wednesday morning to learn that JC had passed away a few hours earlier. Absolutely devastating news all by itself, as JC was one of my first writing mentors, and one of the reasons I kept writing. None of us could believe it.

Being me, I have a tendency to focus on what I can do when awful things happen because I guess, it makes me feel less helpless and useless. Her attempts to make new arrangements for Little Momma had fallen through, and obviously her husband, son, and other family didn’t need to have a new dog on their hands, or dealing with doing something about the dog, while coping with her loss.

Plus, people had donated to make certain Little Momma and her puppies lived and I wasn’t going to let them down either. As far as I’m concerned, I’m ultimately responsible for Little Momma and accountable not only to her and her pups, but to all the people who’d helped get her to Reno.

Her family is every bit as animal loving and generous as JC was, and they were super gracious, trying to help even though they shouldn’t have had to at such a time. After calling around, trying to find a rescue or at least transporters who could help, I decided I’d go pick up Little Momma myself. Fortunately, a foster in my own town saw what was going on about then on Facebook, and offered to foster Little Momma and her puppies. We had placement for her, somewhere I could keep all her rescuers informed on how she was doing!

By that time, House Hunney had driven too far back to return and pick her up. Due to circumstances, I again had to ask for help for travel expenses, which my sister from another mister, Jennie, and her mom, Paula, donated the bulk of. Other people also kicked in a little more. House Hunney didn’t want me to take such a long trip by myself, but was physically unable to make the long (nearly 3,000 mile round trip) drive again himself, but he had the larger vehicle for it. So we both went, with me doing most of the driving. (We’re weird about our vehicles, and I didn’t want to drive his in crowded city traffic!)

We arrived in Reno on Friday, July 22nd. I was able to meet JC’s husband, and give him a huge hug and my sympathies in person.

Little Momma was happy to see us, especially House Hunney (he gave her bacon on their trip, and has won her undying love forever), but reluctant to leave JC’s husband too. Which was awesome for more than one reason, the main one the fact that she’d been a little wary of men prior to spending time with House Hunney and him.

We made it back home on Monday, July 25, and after unpacking, etc. I took Little Momma over to her new foster mom, Victoria. Victoria adopted my Sirrus’s mother, Precious, whom we’d fostered. After Precious made certain Little Momma knew she was the boss (funny watching a 10 lb Chihuahua tell a 35-40 lbs shepherd mix what was what!), things were settled.

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Victoria lives just a couple blocks away from us, so I’m able to check in regularly. She let me know Wednesday morning that Little Momma, who we’d begun calling Reno, was acting anxious and probably in labor. I spent a few hours over there, and we helped Reno get “nested” before I came home.

It was in the wee hours of Thursday morning, July 28, that Reno began delivering her puppies. She’d had 2, both boys, by 1:40 AM, and basically popped a puppy out every 20 minutes between 1:40 and 2:40 AM, for a total of 5 puppies. Five fat, active, ready-to-nurse puppies!

I stuck around a little longer, to make certain that was all she was having, and came home. Reno and her 5 babies are doing great as of the time of this writing. She had 2 boys, both kind of milk chocolate with tan points, and 3 girls (one who may look like her, colorwise, a black one with white toes and splash on her stomach/chest, and a black one with brown shading).

Someone’s already asked for dibs on a puppy, so we’re a little ahead of the game in finding the puppies homes even though we have no clue what sort of mix they are just yet, aside from shepherd. 🙂

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It was an absolutely unbelievable situation, from the outpouring of help to JC’s loss, but at least we have the knowledge that together, we’ve saved 6 small lives and given them all a chance to find loving homes in the future.

The rush back to get Reno also gave me a little time to come to terms with JC’s loss. If you didn’t know her, you missed out. Big time.

One of our KKP authors, Rebecca, created a memorial video for her.

 

Once I’m in a position to, I’ll be donating the total amount all those wonderful people donated for Reno, AKA Little Momma, to our local adoption program, in order to help save yet more dogs and cats.

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Milestone Achieved

Thanks to you, dear readers, Arcane Solutions passed 15,000 copies sold yesterday (Jan. 30, 2016).

It’s definitely a milestone for any book, much less a self-published one.

Obviously, it didn’t reach that goal overnight (and here is where I put on my business hat and share numbers):

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See if you can pick the months that I released new titles for the series.

I’ve been writing since 2006, and self-publishing since December 2007, with my first ebook sale in January 2008. I was not earning a living or even a decent sideline income those first six years (2008-2013, though November and December 2013 were my first good months). A good month prior to those was one I earned enough for a tank of gas or to take the family out to dinner.

There aren’t any secrets or surefire methods to success in fiction writing. The only advice I can give is to always, always do your best with each and every book, keep learning to write better, and hone your storytelling skills. If you want to be a writer, then keep writing whether you’re selling any books or not.

But no matter how hard you work, I do think there still has to be a stroke of luck involved. You can promote until you’ve exhausted yourself and your pocketbook, which may result in short term bonuses, or in longer term bonuses, or even nothing at all.

Yet if you’re not writing the next book, you’re going to end up disappointing the readers you do earn. They will move on, because why stick around hoping you’ll get another book out if you’re not writing more?

The flipside is that once you do start seeing some success, see that your hard work is resulting in financial returns, you want to keep that going. Who hasn’t dreamed of earning a living as their own boss? Of maybe being able to quit the day job to do what they love?

Writing became my sole source of income in early 2014. I’m definitely not getting rich, but I am earning a decent living for the first time in my life, compared to every full-time day job I’ve held in the past. And let me tell you, it takes work to stay there. I probably spend far more time working now than I did working for others. If I’m not actually writing, I’m brainstorming, working on covers, revising older works, or spending time updating my business spreadsheets. Or even just psyching myself up to get my butt in the chair and WRITE.

I am not someone who can work a full-time day job and write too. I tried that for a brief period in late 2010, and basically had no energy at all leftover to write. I admire writers who can handle full-time jobs, their other responsibilities, and still find time and energy to write. I’m just not one of them, so for me to continue to write, I have to keep earning a living from doing it, because my bills aren’t going to get paid if I don’t have income.

Which means never resting on my laurels, but writing as much as I can, and releasing new titles on a regular basis every year. Also crossing my fingers that I don’t screw up and lose my readers’ trust by jumping the shark at some point. 🙂

Writing is an uncertain business. I have no way of knowing how long I’ll be able to continue to do well enough at it that I keep earning a living, and thus, can keep doing this thing I love so much, and I absolutely DO love to write.

I’ve managed to keep it up releasing only 2 titles per year the past two years, in my Discord Jones series. Having other titles available means there’s more for readers to select from, but frankly, those other older titles just aren’t as popular as the Discord series. I have to step up my game!

What I’m saying is, don’t expect one or even six “successful” books to carry you as a writer forever, or even for many years. You have to be like a shark, always moving, always writing new books.

There’s an ebb and flow to sales over the short and long term. Release months may be fantastic, but roughly 90 days later, sales will drop and so planning ahead is a good thing. Either by having another title ready to release, or having put money back from better months to ride out the slower sales months. And since you’re self-employed, don’t forget you will be paying taxes through the nose on your earnings.

For all the “writing is a marathon, not a sprint” school of thought, you still can’t predict future sales. But I do think that the more titles you have available, the better your chances are of making it long haul.

I know there’s still a lot of sneering at writers who write a lot, or “faster” as it’s portrayed. But based on my experiences, the one surefire method of promotion that always has results is releasing a new book. That was true before I began to earn a living, and it’s holding true now that I am. Your mileage may vary… or not.

I’ve watched 4 titles over two years now, and have seen how sales drop between the first 30, 60, and 90 days after release for each before they begin a faster descent. Based on that, I know that I need to try and release at least 4 new titles every year (3 months apart) to continue to earn a living, and hopefully, weather any future changes in publishing and bookselling.

Criticism from other writers about writing “too fast” has no bearing at all on my business. I’m not in any sort of partnership with those other writers.

The only partnership of any fashion I’m in is with my readers, and they want more as fast as I can manage to deliver something to them I won’t be ashamed to have my name on.

What I’m saying is: The only people who matter in the equation are you and your readers. Those are the people you need to worry about satisfying.

If you’re satisfied that you’re doing your best with each and every new title, and your readers are satisfied with the results, then you’re doing fantastic.

I’m not an overall Top 100 author on Amazon.com, I haven’t had an overall Top 100 book there either. My books haven’t made the USA Today or NYT bestselling lists (not gonna hold my breath that one ever will, and don’t care if one ever does). I don’t have a traditional publisher behind me. I have a small group of beta readers, a good editor, a love of telling stories, and the desire to tell them as well as I can.

From that, I’ve earned some readers who do poke and prod at me to get the next book out, and because of those readers, I earn a living as a writer. If there’s anything better than that for a writer, especially readers wanting MORE from you, I don’t know what it could be.

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And if you’re curious, the green-shaded months are new release months. When 2 months are in a row are shaded, it means the new title was released at the very end of one month, so its first 30 days went into the following month continuing to “bump” Arcane Solution’s sales.

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