As of today, I have written approximately 762,000 words of fiction. That sounds like a lot unless you know that my goal in October of 2011 — before I even finished writing A Gift of Ghosts — was to write a million words, then decide if I wanted to be a writer. Having written approximately 200,000 words of fanfiction in the preceding twelve months, it didn’t seem unrealistic.
As I said several months ago, I don’t need to finish those words to know that I’m going to be a writer.
But I’m not just a writer: I’m also a publisher.
And one of the best parts of being a publisher is getting to look at the covers of your books and say, “Hmm, I think I’m ready for something new.” I tried updating the typography on the Tassamara series, thinking that would satisfy me, but it didn’t, so last month, I hired Kelley York of Sleepy Fox Studio and described my dream cover of A Gift of Ghosts to her.
Without further ado, my ‘something new’.
What do you think? Does it match your ideas of the characters? Would it be your dream cover? I haven’t updated the book yet, because I’m waiting until I have new covers for all the books in the series, but I couldn’t wait to share it!
On Saturday, I had dinner with the mayor of Eureka. Her name is not Henry; she doesn’t drive a tow truck; and it was Eureka, CA, not Eureka, OR. But it did amuse me nonetheless. And also made me reflect on how odd it is that a television show changed my life in such dramatic ways.
For those of you who don’t know this story, in 2010, I fell in love with the television show Eureka. During the break between the two halves of Season 4, my craving for information led me to discover fanfiction. Literally — I’d never even heard of fanfiction before, to the best of my recollection, and I’d certainly never written any. In fact, I’d given up writing fiction entirely at least a dozen years earlier (when I decided freelance writing was a stupidly difficult way to earn a living and went back to editing.) But Eureka inspired me and I wrote a bunch of Eureka stories that were really fun — complicated science, humor, romance — skipping all the tedious parts of writing, ie description.
Then the new episodes started playing and I hated where they took the characters. By then, I was possessive of them, even though they weren’t mine. So I started writing original fiction, where no one else could make my characters do stupid things. At the very end of 2011, I posted my first full-length original story to Amazon, so the people who’d been reading along online could have it in ebook format if they wanted. I made a cover for it in Powerpoint, using a photo from a free site, and told my friends and family that they could buy it if they wanted to give me a gingerbread latte, or download it for free on its KU free days if they just wanted to read it. That was A Gift of Ghosts. I was in grad school and my goal was to write for fun — a million words that I was willing to share — while I got my degree and started work as a therapist. By now I should be about ready to start my own practice, having finished my degree, worked the necessary hours for my license, and built up a bit of a client base. Ha. Instead I dropped out of school, and I’m wandering around the country, still undecided about my ability to support myself as a writer, although still enjoying writing.
Speaking of which, I’ve been waiting two months for Amazon to notice that Ghosts is available for free on the other sites and price match it back to free. I’ve even gone so far as to try to report the lower price myself, but to no avail. It’s pretty weird, because they noticed that it wasn’t free about five days after I put it into KU — I guess they’re prompter about not losing money? Short version of this story: I tried out Kindle Unlimited for three months, the shortest term that you can sign up for, and it killed my sales. I earned some money from page reads, but not enough to make up for the fact that I no longer sold any books anywhere. Two months ago, with a great sigh of relief, I let the KU term expire and put the books back up everywhere, but I’m still not selling as many as I did before this experiment, because Amazon hasn’t price-matched Ghosts to be free. Anyway, if you have a minute and feel so inclined, there’s a: “Would you like to tell us about a lower price?” link on the Ghosts page underneath the publisher info and it might help me out if you reported Ghosts being available for free elsewhere. (Elsewhere being Barnes & Noble or Kobo or iBooks or Google Play.) And I say “might” because Amazon can be weird and I don’t honestly know if this is what they need to make the change. But thank you in advance for trying if you do!
Back to my life news — Sunday was supposed to be thunderstorms and rain in Arcata. Instead, it was gloriously sunny for most of the day. We took the dogs to the beach for one last romp that was wonderful — Zelda was having a very good day, and not only did she run and roam and play, she paid attention to where I was and responded when I called her. We also did useful things — laundry and packing up and cleaning. S spent lots of time in her garden and I spent lots of time in the van, but it was nice to have one last glorious day.
Today, it’s time to move on. I tried to remind myself this morning that a departure is not an ending, it’s just a change, but I’m still sad to be leaving. On the other hand, once I get on the road, I will remember that I’m headed to another place I like, Seattle, to see more people I like. And a few I love! Conveniently for my enthusiasm level, if I make it there by Wednesday morning (new goal: get there by Wednesday), I will get to spend a few hours with R and his delightful girlfriend as they pass through.
And meanwhile, S and I already have plans for our next adventure together — New Mexico, sometime in 2020. In my head, maybe even my heart, I know that life is not about what happens next, it’s about what’s happening now, but it’s still comforting to remind myself that I have plenty to look forward to.
David Gaughran is one of the few self-publishing experts I follow: I read his blog, I’m on his mailing list, and I’ve got at least a couple of his books on my Kindle. When I do decide to take the plunge into advertising my books,* I’m sure I’ll be using his advice.
* — Any day, now, really. Probably. Maybe.
Last week, he sent out an email updating self-pub authors on some changes with BookBub ads, notably that in their ad creation space, they’re now listing the number of “Readers” an author has, as opposed to the number of “Followers.” Readers are (probably) the people who clicked on an author’s book somewhere along the way, while Followers actually clicked on the link to follow an author and therefore get updates on their posts, reviews, ads and new books. Followers, obviously, are the people who are actually interested while Readers are the people who maybe took a chance on a free book and haven’t read it, didn’t like it, or at the very least, weren’t interested enough to try to remember the author’s name.
Unicorns are the authors who have lots of readers and many fewer followers. They may or may not be a good target for ad creation. I am very, very much a unicorn. An extreme unicorn, in fact. TBH, I find that depressing, but I mention it for the sake of any of my fellow self-publishing readers: if you’re advertising on BookBub, my name might (or might not, who knows?), be a good target for ads. If you give it a try, let me know your results, because I would be curious!
Moving on: I love Tosha Yoga, the yoga studio here in Arcata, so much that I’m already sad about leaving and I’m not planning on leaving for another month. But two days a week of yoga and I can feel myself getting stronger and more centered. And Suzanne, the teacher whose class we’ve sort of settled on (initially mostly out of convenience), is fantastic. We are not the only ones to have figured that out — we’re arriving earlier and earlier to get a spot, because the class gets crowded. Things I love about her classes: she takes the time to teach; she has some challenging sequences, but both encourages you to push and gives you permission to respect your body if pushing is not where you’re at; she has a sense of humor and makes the class fun; and she’s doing that spiritual thing where she offers words of wisdom and you’re like, “Um, was that directed at me?”
On our last class, as we were going in, I was telling S how much I hate writers. In fact I was saying I was going to write a blog post about how much I hate writers. I gave up being an editor in large part because I was so tired of dealing with writers: they’re needy and impractical and obsessive and narcissistic and generally just PITAs. I figured as a therapist, I could work on helping people get over those qualities. Instead I became a writer and now I’m needy and impractical and a PITA. (I was always obsessive; I’m pretty sure I’m still not a narcissist. Could be wrong on that, though, because I don’t think narcissists usually know what they are.) Practically the first thing S, the yoga teacher, said was something about how our culture teaches us to view things as extremes, good or bad, and that in our practice, we were going to try to find the space between acceptance and aversion, and try to simply be where we were instead of rejecting or accepting it. I’m pretty sure she was talking about those moments in yoga where you’re in pain or not in pain, but in that moment it sure felt like she was talking about my writer vs editor grumpiness.
Speaking of which, the writing continues. Not as fast as I’d like it to, and definitely not as coherently. I feel like I’m playing with the pieces of a big colorful jigsaw puzzle — very colorful, very big! But some of the pieces are starting to line up properly. And the characters are starting to take on lives of their own, which can be inconvenient, but can also be fun. A snippet:
“Maybe one of us should go, sir?” Trevvi said. “I—” He cleared his throat. “I think I speak for all of us when I say that I’d rather not be the one to tell Lady Cyntha that we left you and Lady Gaelith here.”
Fen pressed her lips together to suppress her laugh. She agreed with Trevvi — she didn’t want to face Lady Cyntha either — but the sheepish expression on the big man’s face made him look like a kid who hadn’t done his homework.
“Sadly, it must be done,” Kaio replied briskly. And then his face relaxed and he gave Trevvi a warm smile. Fen’s stomach fluttered. Damn it, even when she was most annoyed at Kaio, he pushed her buttons.
Not edited, of course, and no guarantee it will show up in the final version, but while I’m trying to avoid developing a cast of thousands, Trevvi is starting to sneak his way into a speaking role. Without being ultra-spoiler-y, I think I found the ending of the story this weekend and Trevvi was there for it. I was pleased to find the ending, but also like, “Um, you? What are you doing here?” Not a bad thing to be happening, though!
Also in the works, my developing travel plans. I’ve got two more weeks in Arcata, then S and I are going on a road trip to Idaho. One more week in Arcata after that and then north to Washington. I had thoughts of spending some time in Oregon, but I think I’m probably going to make it fairly fast so that I can have more time with friends in Seattle. And then after Memorial Day, I’ll be heading east again. After discovering that I’m already too late to make reservations for the state park I wanted to stay at in Oregon, I am reluctantly realizing that I ought to make some definite arrangements. Flexibility is lovely, but I don’t want to spend the month of June camping in parking lots because I wasn’t organized enough to do better.
I woke up this morning feeling… disinclined to engage with the day.
The preceding sentence, both in structure and content, is what happens when you’re reading too much marketing advice. Bah. It’s not that I dislike marketing, actually — more than once in my previous job, I wondered whether I’d have more fun working for the marketing department. I liked selling books. I just don’t like selling my books.
I keep promising myself that I’m going to work on that piece of the self-publishing puzzle — really, truly, any day now — but it makes me want to go back to bed. The crawl under the covers and not re-emerge until summer going back to bed, not the snooze for an extra ten minutes going back to bed.
Anyway, despite my disinclination to engage with the day, a cute little furry face bouncing around at the end of the bed was persistent enough that I dragged myself up and took her for a walk in the rain. I’d thought it was just drizzle when we left the van, but it become clear quite quickly that it was rain-rain. The kind that’s going to sop through your shoes and soak your socks; force you to keep your head down or get water in your eyes; turn your blue jeans into deadweights with minutes. Bizarrely enough, it was very nice. It fit my mood so perfectly. I was grouchy to begin with and there I was, getting soaked and uncomfortable and cold — it was like the universe agreeing with me, it was a day to stay in bed.
The nicest thing about today’s rain is that it was supposed to be yesterday’s rain. The weather forecast for yesterday was bleak and it was both my birthday and S’s day off, which meant bleak was annoying. As it turned out, the weather didn’t reach us as scheduled, so we had an early morning opportunity to fulfill my birthday wish and take Z to the beach. The only thing better in life than taking a puppy to the beach is taking an old dog to the beach and watching her run around like a puppy.
After the beach, we stopped in Trinidad for coffee. I already had coffee and it had started to rain so I didn’t much want to go into the shop, but I kept S company anyway. It turned out they had gluten-free chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing, so for my birthday breakfast, I had a chocolate cupcake. Yum. And then we went home and I made gluten-free blueberry pancakes and bacon for my second birthday breakfast. Yeah, it was a high-carb day. (Asparagus risotto with chicken-apple sausage for dinner, more carbs!)
Today’s plan: to write some words. And maybe bake some granola. And for dinner, cioppino over rice, possibly with some gluten-free garlic toast, and definitely with a side salad. Meanwhile, to sit and watch the rain turn the view into an impressionist painting while staying dry inside. I might even admit the truth — that despite the date, it feels like winter! — and turn the heat on.
Very, very, very temporarily — as in, it might just last a few hours — Cici and the Curator is on sale in paperback for $5.50. This is literally the cheapest it will ever be — I can’t set the price any lower and I earn nothing from the sale — so if you’d like a paperback copy, now is a good time to buy.
The story is: my dad and stepmom want to celebrate my book releases with a lunch-time book party. I suspect it’s Grace as much as Cici that they think deserves a celebration, because I spent a lot of time very frustrated with that book, but I find this to be a very nice idea and I want to give books to the guests. Alas, author copies take FOREVER. Seriously, two weeks before they even get shipped. And if you want them quickly, you’re going to pay an arm and a leg for shipping.
But an Amazon shopper can get her paperbacks via Prime, no shipping, and by the end of the week. Even at its absolute lowest possible price, the book is more expensive than an author copy but in the circumstances the speed and shipping costs make up for the price difference.
So I lowered the price to buy a bunch of paperbacks to give away. But if you would also like a paperback copy, it’s your chance. I’m going to set it back to $11.99 again, which is the price that earns me $1 in the extended distribution model, but the change takes 24 – 48 hours to implement.
Like I said, I earn nothing from the sale (unless you use the above link, in which case, I might earn .11 or so as an affiliate fee) but the paperbacks are quite pretty and I’d be happy to know that more of them are out there in the world!
This is going to be another boring post for anyone not interested in self-publishing, but it’s the most efficient way for me to keep a record so skip it if you’re not interested. I suppose it would be more efficient of me to post it on my seldom-used business blog — which I haven’t even updated with Cici, oops — but I’d never remember to look for it there, so it goes here.
So, I published Cici a week ago, to all the usual spots. Much though I love her, I have very low expectations for Cici. My most similar title is A Lonely Magic, which is the book that I spent the most money on by far — professional editing, professional covers, advertising on multiple sites, NetGalley membership to get reviews, etc. and which… well, has not rewarded said expenses. ALM was the book where I tried to get serious about self-publishing and while it was an interesting experiment, being serious did not lead to success. (Grace has earned more money in its first four months than ALM has in over four years. Ouch. Sadly, this is not because Grace is making me rich.)
Anyway, I’m sure a self-publishing guru would tell me that I need to spend money to make money, etc, but eh. Maybe someday, if I ever get a real job and have extra money floating around. Meanwhile, I would prefer to continue to eat. So I’m not spending money on Cici, much though I adore her.
My sum total of marketing dollars on Cici was $5 on a Facebook ad sent exclusively to people who have liked my page. That ad reached 161 people, had 37 engagements, and 6 clicks. So if each of those clicks led to a sale, I might have sold 6 copies because of the FB ad, therefore spending $5 to earn $15, for a profit of $10.
I also sent out an email to people who have subscribed to my mailing list. Mailing lists are such an interesting thing: I bought a book recently about being a mailing list ninja, something like that, and apparently I should be using my mailing list to chat with readers, “engage them,” and most definitely not to simply tell them when I have something new published. Because apparently telling readers that there’s a new book is asking them for something as opposed to providing them with information that they supposedly wanted to receive? But I honestly hate email, I don’t want junk cluttering up my inbox, and I really think that if anyone actually wants to hear from me on a regular basis they could just read my blog. I view my mailing list as being the people who simply want to know about new books. But apparently not so much: of the 1415 readers who have signed up for my mailing list, 474 opened the email, and 100 clicked on the link. 14 unsubscribed. 2 reported me for spam, sigh. These are, of course, not terrible results: the industry average open rate is 17.2 and mine was 33.7 and the industry average click rate is 3.6 and mine was 7.1. So at least I’m running better than average.
BookBub also sent out an email to my followers there, approximately 6000 some. I know they did because I follow myself and I got their email. And the chance exists that Amazon will also let people know, those who follow me on Amazon. (I just started following myself so I didn’t get anything this time but maybe I will next time.)
So, potential marketing outreach: 1415 mailing list readers, 6000+ Bookbub followers, 500+ FB followers, 300+ Twitter followers, and the 30+ of you who read my blog.
I think there’s some conversion rate thing that I’m supposed to figure out — around 1% of the people reached decided to buy? That’s probably not a bad number for professional marketers.
Anyway, I’m really just saving this data for future reference. Cici obviously doesn’t look like my other books, so it’s no surprise that she’s a niche read. Someday I might have to separate out my identities so that people who like true fantasy, no romance involved, aren’t mixed into the audience who likes romance with a little fantasy involved. But at the moment that’s far too much work and I’d rather spend my time writing. Or doing laundry, which is what I should be doing right now!
And meanwhile, far more importantly with Cici, I have been really delighted to hear from people who enjoyed her and loved the ending and even more delighted that no one’s spoiling it. I usually try to avoid reading reviews because they are not good for me, but I’m totally reading every Cici review that comes my way because I so enjoyed writing her and really like reading that people enjoyed reading her.
There is a new ride at Animal Kingdom, in a new area of the park based on the movie Avatar. It is, apparently, the best ride in the world, the best ride that ever there was, and so, for his birthday, I took R and his girlfriend, M, to Animal Kingdom.
Backing up, it’s actually really hard to buy appropriate presents for a person who’s living more or less out of a backpack. Me selling my house means that R doesn’t have a real home at all, no bedroom with a permanent closet where he can store things. He owns what he can carry with him and the more he has to carry, the more difficult that becomes. So I decided to look for an experience to give him, rather than an object to give him. Animal Kingdom was our favorite theme park when he was young, but it had been years and years since we’d gone there. It felt like a good choice.
So we were not actually at Animal Kingdom specifically to go on the world’s best ride. Which was fortunate, because although we arrived at the park a little after 8, an hour before opening, and headed straight to the world’s best ride, the line was four hours long by the time we got there at 9:05. Yes, you read that right. The resort guests are allowed into the park an hour before non-resort guests and enough of them beat us to the world’s best ride that the line was 240 minutes long.
We didn’t wait.
The good news was that the Avatar crowds meant the rest of the park was reasonably nice. We had a fantastic safari ride, where we got to be the people whose truck had to stop while the giraffes sauntered by, plus see all the other animals who were out and active on a chilly day; nice walks through the gorilla and tiger zones; rides on some of the other main rides, including Everest, Primeval Whirl and (for R & M) Dinosaur; and great seats at the Finding Nemo show, which is really beautiful. And, of course, excellent company.
At about 5, we went back to the Avatar zone and the line time had gone down to 210 minutes, so three and a half hours. We didn’t wait, but we did wander around the Avatar zone which is actually worth wandering around, too — very pretty and interestingly done. R wanted to write academic papers on the conflicts inherent in turning a movie whose overarching storyline is about kicking exploitative humans off a planet into a theme park whose goal is to attract humans to buy stuff, but figured it was fundamentally too obvious.
The one minor bad note in an otherwise lovely day was food issues for me. I made bad choices because I was hungry and the lines were crazily long and I paid the price very promptly. Disney offers plenty of reasonable choices for people with food allergies, but it requires planning. It is not a good idea to wait until you’re already hungry and then start looking around for something to eat. I know this, but apparently I have to relearn it every so often. I’m hoping yesterday’s lesson sticks for the next few years.
In other news, many, many thanks to people who have reviewed Cici. She is so much a book that I published because I wanted to share her, because I wanted other people to read her story and laugh with me, so I’m delighted to hear from people who have. People have asked about sequels and given how many promises I’ve broken about Grace and Fen, I’m not going to make any promises. But I will say that when I found the artwork for the cover, the artist had multiple variations, and I got all the variations. Which means that unlike A Lonely Magic, which is going to require that I find a cover to go with its sequel when I finish writing it, I will have possible cover options ready for Cici sequels whenever I feel like writing them. 🙂
And now I think I’ll get back to writing Fen. I’m not optimistic about my productivity over the next few weeks: there will be much socializing, some urgent Christmas present shopping, some great time with family. But on the days when I have time to write, I’m going to try to write. Not because I feel the pressure of impending deadlines, but because writing Cici brought me joy and joy is an excellent thing to have more of in one’s life. May you have some as well, today and every day!
I’m at Trimble Park, one of my favorite campgrounds, and I spent all day yesterday on the computer, fighting to post Cici in the various places that I publish books. All the usual suspects, in other words, including Google Play, which honestly has such a ridiculously bad interface that I’m not sure it’s worth the bother. I kept telling myself that I should just wait until I went back to my dad’s house because internet is a lot faster when it’s not a cell connection, but I guess I felt persistent.
By evening, it was up in most spots — not Apple, of course, because Apple takes forever and a day — so I went ahead and sent an email to my mailing list. This morning I posted to Facebook, my three different pages, and paid $5 for an ad, so that people might actually see the post, and now I’m posting to my blog, and then I will be done with publishing Cici. This is why I’m really not a very good self-publisher — one is supposed to do all kinds of marketing, release day promotions, newsletters, giveaways, ad campaigns, blah-blah-blah. Does knowing what one is supposed to do and not doing it mean that one is: a) bad at business, b) rebellious in all the wrong ways, c) lazy? All three, obviously. But Cici is available for purchase, so at least I’m getting the “Step One: Write a Book, Step Two: Publish It” part of self-publishing right.
Meanwhile, it is raining. Not heavily, but persistently. The main reason why I am sitting in this lovely campground is to dump the tanks and I cannot express how unenthusiastic I am about doing that in the rain. Also, I left stuff outside which is now going to have to come into the van and be wet and drippy inside. Sigh. But! The good news is that it’s a lovely tropical summer-feeling rain, so I should be counting my blessings. And I need a shower, anyway, so probably I should just enjoy it. But sewage in the rain always seems to smell more: psychological, I think, not real, but still.
And the clock is ticking, so I guess I can give up on the rain stopping before I pack up. It’ll be good for me, right? Right.
I’m not totally satisfied with the ending, but then, when am I ever?
But I am done and ready to move on to something else, specifically Fen. I haven’t decided what I’m doing with Cici yet. Probably publishing her, mostly because she makes me laugh. She is very much my sense of humor. I haven’t really edited or revised her at all, though, apart from a quick run through where I deleted a bunch of extra words: probably, actually, really, just, truly, simply, seriously, manage, and some.
However, I am willing to share! If you want to read a first draft, let me know in the blog comments and make sure to include your email address in the appropriate field (unless you’re positive I already know it). Also, if you want it in a format other than a Kindle file, tell me that, too.
In other than book news, there’s been lots of Christmas in my life this week. I went to the Candlelight Processional at Epcot with a friend last Wednesday, which was lovely. Neil Patrick Harris was the narrator, and the music was beautiful. On Friday, I went to another Christmas musical event at a huge Baptist church in Orlando. Very loud, very majestic. When they burst into “Joy to the World,” it was glorious. On Sunday, I saw my third Christmas musical at the Methodist church in Mount Dora. I should be thoroughly in the Christmas mood by now.
I’m not really, though. Partly, I’ve been obsessed with Cici. And partly, Zelda is reminding me on a daily basis that we’re running out of time. Grown-up Me knows that means I need to be sure to appreciate every day: Kid Me would really prefer to stop time right now. I know I claimed to have a ZLSP (Zelda Loss Survival Plan) in development, but… well, I think the ZLSP starts with a broken heart, no matter how good it is.
But today is what it is, and what it is, is the 7th anniversary of the publication of A Gift of Ghosts! Hmm, that almost tempts me to just put Cici up on Amazon. I was so much more relaxed seven years ago. My plan back then was to write a million words and then consider whether really I wanted to be a writer. By now, I’m supposed to be hard at work as a therapist. Ha.
I have no idea how close I am to my million words, although Grace was probably half a million all by herself. Those wouldn’t count, though, because it had to be a million words I was willing to share. But the short stories up in the Scribbles section would count. I should add them up and see how close I am.
I’m not actually sure I need to, though. Post-Grace, I could definitely see giving up on being a writer. Post-Cici, I know that I am a writer, whether I’m earning my living at it or no. It might be a terrible job, but it’s not a hobby I ever want to give up, because when it’s fun, it’s really, really fun. Regardless of whether Cici ever earns a dollar (and obviously, she will, because my dad would always be willing to buy her!), she was a delight to write.
My dad called me this morning to point out that I haven’t posted to my blog in a while. (Hi, Dad!) It’s only literally been a week since my last post, but maybe it was a long week.
In my life, the week included a lot of writing, some good time with a writing friend in Merritt Island, and an unfortunate gluten-reaction. I’m assuming now that it was a gluten-reaction, because yesterday I was pretty sure I would never feel healthy again and today I feel pretty okay. The fast recovery, for me, is one of the hallmarks of a gluten response. There’s no long, lingering malaise, just a reasonably swift move from “I’m clearly seriously ill” to “hmm, I think I’m okay.”
I’m glad I got back to “I think I’m okay” today, because I decided last night that I might have to reschedule Thanksgiving, which I could obviously do — none of my guests would be heartbroken to eat their turkey on Saturday or Sunday instead of Thursday and no one is traveling long distances to join us — but still, there’s something nicer about celebrating holidays on the day when everyone else is celebrating, too.
The combination of being sick and hitting the murky middle of Cici was not particularly good (nor tremendously bad) for my writing goals. Cici is currently floundering around in a spaceship, contemplating her life and ethical choices. I suspect that if I ever decide to let some beta readers have at her, the honest responses will range from “it drags a bit in the middle” to “it gets really boring at about 35K words.” Fortunately, it’s NaNo and I don’t need to care about that — all I need to do is keep pouring words out onto the page and hit that end-of-the-month writing goal.
After that, I can think about what comes next for Cici, whether she gets shared with a few friends or revised mercilessly or stuck in a random folder on my computer, to languish unseen. Or, possibly, sent off as-is (more or less) to drift unnoticed on the sea of casually self-published books available on Amazon. She’s not in a genre likely to sell much, so it doesn’t make any practical sense to spend months polishing. Plus, I’ve got other impractical promises to keep regarding my time, notably for poor Fen who has been waiting years for her turn on the screen. But Cici has some very entertaining moments, at least to me. It’s been lovely to be flat-out amusing myself with my words and not worrying about anything else.
She screwed up her face, wrinkling her nose. Her mouth felt weird. Her lips, in particular. She tapped them with her fingers.
She tapped her cheek. Also weird.
“Was that drink poisonous?” she asked.
Huh, those words had popped right out, too.
“The algaro? No.” Seven returned to his chair and frowned at her. The other two were doing something with the trough and the dogs were doing something, too — eating, probably. Cici hoped they weren’t eating the people. But she couldn’t hear any screaming, so they were probably fine. Her eyes didn’t want to focus and it was taking all her concentration to keep Sevyn in sight.
“Feels like poison,” she said. She didn’t feel particularly emotional about it. She would have thought that being poisoned would be upsetting, but she didn’t feel upset. She felt quite tranquil, really. But maybe that was a side effect of the poison.
“It is not poison.”
“Alcohol is poison, though.” Cici tapped her other cheek. Did they feel different, her two cheeks? Was one more numb than the other? She tried the first one again. No, they were about the same. Both feeling very weird.
“Algaro is fermented blood. The level of alcohol in it is very minor.”
Cici stopped tapping her cheeks and replayed his words in her head. Fermented blood. Fermented…
“Ew!” She jumped to her feet in protest and nearly fell over. Her feet were numb, too. “Fermented blood? Why would you feed me that? That’s disgusting!”
“It is an honor offered only to Players.” Sevyn put his hand out as if to steady her, but Cici batted it away.
They were blood-drinkers.
There ought to be a name for that. A disgusting name. A name that implied horrible things.
A name that revealed them for the monsters that they were.
“Mosquitoes,” she spat out. “You people are mosquitoes.”