What Indie Publishing Is Not

First, before I go into this rant, a quick note to say that I will be at MileHiCon in Denver at the end of the month.  If anyone is going to be there, feel free to stop by and say hello.  I will be the one you don’t think I am.

So, on to the rant…

Earlier this year I went to Worldcon for the first time.  It was quite the experience.  Full of people and events and (luckily) friends I knew from other events I’d attended in the past.  Not having been to Worldcon before and not being one that particularly geeks out over specific sff shows or books, I checked out the programming before I went to see what might be of interest.

They had a tag for self-publishing.  (Oh good.)

There were only two events with that tag.  (Not so good.)

The first event with that tag was  a panel on fan fiction.  (What the $@%#!)

Indie publishing , self-publishing, whatever you want to call it IS NOT FAN FICTION.

As a matter of fact, trying to self-publish fan fiction is a good way to get your ass sued. Because there’s this little thing called copyright that comes into play and it means that if you don’t have permission to play in another author’s world that you are technically violating their copyright by writing stories that feature their world or their characters.  Sure, a lot of authors turn a blind eye to it because it means someone loved what you wrote enough to want to spend more time in your world and who wants to turn on their fans that way.  But…it is not the same when someone tries to piggyback off your world to make themselves money.

Indie publishing CANNOT be fan fiction.  The two do not overlap.  (And before someone spouts off at me about 50 Shades, please go read both books and diagram for me how that book shares any of the actual world or characters of Twilight.)

That was my first WTF moment.

The second  one came last week when The Book Life Report, which is put out by Publishers Weekly and supposed to contain the latest news for indie authors declared “Authors Guild Membership Now Available to Indie Authors.”  (To be fair, it was a link to an article by Good E-Reader, but they did include it in their newsletter.)

At first, I thought, oh that’s good.  Robert Sawyer gave a speech at RMFW this year where he talked about the value of authors working together so that we have power to negotiate advances and pay-per-word on short stories and he specifically mentioned Authors Guild.  At the time they weren’t open to indies so that suggestion fell flat with a certain percentage of the room, but when I saw this article I thought, look there, they’re taking some serious steps to actually represent all authors.  Good on them.

And then I clicked on the link.

And saw the very large graphic which says “Introducing the New Emerging Writer Membership.”

I bit my lip, rolled my eyes, and took a deep breath before I started reading the details.

Why was I so annoyed?  Because, while I personally do not, I know indie writers who make a million dollars a year from their books.  And far more who make six-figures.

Is that an emerging writer?  No.

No, it is not.  That is a fucking professional at the top of their game.

Are some indies emerging writers?  Sure.

But not all.  You want to be inclusive of indies, you give them access to full membership when they reach a certain level of success.

You don’t slap them in the face by labeling all of them as emerging writers.


Now, I know, that’s not true for all writers.  There are those who show up on Kboards somewhat regularly asking about getting an agent or signing with a press or talk about using the phenomenal success they expect from self-publishing to springboard them to a trade deal.  But there are even more authors on there who shout about how you couldn’t pay them enough money to sign a trade deal because they make so much more publishing themselves.

And I will admit that when I first self-pubbed I fully expected to go the trade route with my novels and that all I put up originally were short stories that had almost placed in pro-paying markets and non-fiction that I knew wasn’t viable for a publisher.

But at this point?  With five novels out under various names and over a dozen non-fiction titles and way too many short fiction titles? No.  I may not be successful, but I am not emerging either.

It’s time that people realized that self-publishing or indie-publishing or whatever people want to call it today (being an author-publisher) is a viable publication strategy that can make real money for those who pursue it.

It’s not going away.  It’s not fan fiction.  It’s not what emerging writers do before they make it.  It’s not a stepping stone to trade publication (although hybrid publishing is a viable and attractive option).

It’s a path that many have taken successfully and will continue to pursue.

Organizations that cater to writers need to understand that and respect that.  We’re too late in the game for these kinds of screw-ups.


Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sometimes It Would Be Nice to Not Think

As I sit here inspired to write yet another belly button-gazing post about where I am in my writing journey there’s a part of me that wishes I could just be one of those people who never really thinks about things.  You know the ones.  They just get out there and tumble through life, never stopping to pause or think or reconsider…

Must be nice.

Unfortunately, I have never, ever been that person.  I have been the type to pick a path and stick to it stubbornly until things work out.  That I can do.  It’s how I survived the last two years of college.  And the two years I spent getting my MBA.

But those were concrete paths with concrete results.  Pass x number of courses and here’s your degree.

Writing, though…

Writing makes me stop and think a lot and question what I’m doing.

It’s like throwing things into a dark pit in the hopes that eventually you’ll fill the pit enough to be able to cross over to the other side but you have no idea how deep that pit is or how much you need to throw in there or even what’s on the other side once you succeed.  (From what I hear, another pit.)

And everyone once in a while I think about stopping.  About just not writing anymore.  There are other things I can do with my free time.  Like finally get around to watching Stranger Things.  But then I wonder how close I am to filling up that pit.  Maybe it’ll just take one more story.  Or one more novel.

And I am proud of what I’ve written.  I do feel accomplishment in that.

I just wish I could write more of it without constantly stopping and asking myself why I keep writing.  What’s the point?  Why do I do this?

I don’t want to be famous.  If I were famous and that interfered with my life in any way I’d be annoyed as heck.  But I don’t just want to write for me either.  I want to put what I’ve written out there.  But why?  It’s not to make money.  I have easier ways of doing that.  It’s not for accolades.  I’ve never been a huge fan of someone else telling me I’ve done a good job.  It’s not to communicate or open a dialogue.  I tend to get a bit cranky when someone wants to debate things with me.  Maybe it’s to teach and share?  Maybe?

Or because I have to many free hours in my day?  I am not one of those people to skip sleep just to get in my writing.

I don’t know.

At this rate, if I’m not careful I’m going to end up writing a novel with a main character who is a writer struggling through a mid-life crisis.

Anyway.  My apologies for burdening you with my existential angst.  It’s just that I think I’m in the mushy middle equivalent of the new writer’s journey and it’s an annoying place to be and it unfortunately prompts me to write blog posts instead of getting on with the next novel already.

Ah well.  Onward and upward and let’s hope this next thing I throw into the dark chasm is the one I’ve been waiting for to…do something.

Posted in Life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

When Editing Really Matters

So recently there was a self-published book that someone reviewed and said was fabulous.  And just the type of book I like to read, too.  Now, ironically, even though I’m self-published I tend to stick with trade published books for my personal reading because I don’t have a lot of reading time and I don’t get some special thrill from discovering hidden gems.  I just want to use my limited free time to read really good books.

And not saying that there aren’t some really good self-pubbed books, but I do think there’s more variation in the self-pub world and it’s easier to find a dud.  As someone who gets stuck reading a book even if I don’t particularly like it, this can be a big annoyance.

Anyway.  I don’t usually read self-pubbed books.  But the review on this one was so over the top wonderful that I thought, okay, I’ll try it.

So I bought a copy.  A paperback copy.  (Which I think actually made this issue even worse…)

And, well…

Editing issues.  (And formatting issues.)

The writer is a good writer.  I can see that.

But they need a copy editor.  Someone to fix when they type “they” instead of “the” or end a sentence with two periods instead of just the one it needed or simply leave out a word.  It’s friction that doesn’t need to be there.

Interestingly enough, the writer has 250+ reviews and none that I found mention the editing.  But I think there were at least five or six errors in the first chapter of the paperback.

I, as a reader, will not read another book by this person.  I may not even finish this book.  It’s a close call.  The story is just engaging enough that I’m sticking with it, but not so engaging that I’m not noticing all the issues.  And the story isn’t so overwhelmingly fantastic that I want to overlook the issues.

(Another argument her for the idea that your basic everyday reader is far less particular than most writers.)

The fact that I’m reading this in paperback is worse.  Because this person made no effort to do any sort of special formatting for paperback.  There are paragraphs that end with just the ” on a line by itself and each paragraph is indented so far it looks almost comical at times.  And inconsistent section breaks–some have a symbol, some just have two lines.  And the paragraphs aren’t justified which can be a choice but is exacerbated by the lack of any print-specific formatting so large words fall on the next line and leave a huge gap in the middle of a paragraph.  And, and, and, and.

Once you notice one issue, you start to notice them all.  (By the way, I’m not claiming here that my print books are formatted perfectly (you don’t know what you don’t know and I’m sure there are tricks I’ve yet to learn), but I like to think that they’re at least not poorly formatted and that it’s obvious I at least put some effort into things.

As a writer, this is a good reminder to me that you only get one chance to snag that reader.  Maybe, maybe if you’re lucky, you get two chances.

And you never know when your moment is going to come–in this case, that review led a number of readers to this writer.  After all the attention is on you is not the time to be fixing things.  You want things to be buttoned up as much as you can get them right from the start so you can capture every reader who turns your way.

(Says the person who self-edits and self-formats…)

Now I’m off to sit in a corner and stare at my books while chewing my fingernails to the quick wondering if my books have just as many errors in them…(You know that’s how these things work, right?  Pot, kettle, etc.)

Anyway.  Edit.  And if you have a print version, it needs formatting.

Posted in General Musings | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Time To Fix That Typo

One of the great things about self-publishing is that after a book is out you can still go back and fix a typo if you happen to catch it later.  (Also one of the bad things as it turns out…)

I like to think my books are cleanly written, but typos still slip through here or there.  And when I’m rereading a book in order to write the sequel, or reading the paperback to verify formatting, or listening to the audio version, I will sometimes find that I used “full” instead of “fool” or “he’d” instead of “he’s” and I’ll want to fix that so any new writers don’t read it and think what an idiot I am.

So, I go back and fix it.

When I was ebook only on Amazon, this was easy breezy, piece of cake.

Step 1: Edit the Word file.

Step 2: Upload to Amazon.

Step 3: Use the previewer to make sure it looks good and hit publish.

Took about ten minutes.  Maybe.  If the uploader was slow.

But now I have my books up all over the place and some are in print and audio, too.  (Fortunately, by the time it gets to audio, it’s good to go.  I’m not going to have the narrator go back and fix a passage later.  But listening to audio has led me to find a few errors in the ebook and print versions that need fixed.)

Being wide and in print means it’s a multi-day potentially hours-long process to get books updated to fix a teeny tiny little typo.  It goes something like this:

Steps 1 – 3: As above.  I always do Amazon first.

Step 4: Take Word file used for Amazon and strip out links in the back matter to other books by the same pen name.

Step 5: Upload that Word file to D2D.

Step 6: Download a preview of the file without the “Also By” pages populated.  Review.  Rename.

Step 7: Go back to D2D and create a new version with the Also By pages.

Step 8: Download and preview.

Step 9: Approve.  (Assuming there weren’t changes/issues, which sometimes there are.  I just had a book where five of the chapter headings were for some reason formatted differently in the .EPUB file even though the Word file looked fine.)

Step 10: Take the .EPUB file without the Also By pages and load to Kobo.

Step 11: Download and preview file.

Step 12: Approve.  (Assuming there aren’t issues.  I started doing it this way when Kobo started adding page breaks between each paragraph because I was using the Enter key between paragraphs.)

Step 13: Take the .EPUB file without the Also By pages and load to Google.

Step 14: Pray it’s okay on Google.

Step 15: Modify the Word file used for the print version.

Step 16: PDF the Word file.

Step 17: Upload the PDF to Createspace and submit for review.

Step 18: Wait for CS to approve the new file and then approve it for distribution.

Step 19: Drink a celebratory beer and swear to myself I’m never going to reread anything I’ve written ever again and send a prayer that no reader ever contacts me with a typo I’ll feel compelled to fix.

Step 20: Find a sticky note the next day with one more error I’d forgotten about.  Do whole process over again while wondering why I never have enough time to write.

Posted in General, Writing | Tagged , , , ,

On Overnight Success

Over on Kboards someone started a thread this week about how fast things can go viral and mentioned how it was 100% certain that a book would go viral if you were able to give away 3,000 free copies.

After I finished laughing my ass off (I’ve done that with two separate romance titles and while I made some nice money on follow-through sales it didn’t do much for long-term sales…), I read the rest of the thread where people were discussing how long it took for J.K. Rowling to take off and someone mentioned that she was on bestseller lists in 1998.

Well, I was working in a bookstore in 1998 and 1999 and I can assure you that the Harry Potter books were not then what they are now.  I don’t honestly recall anyone coming into the store and asking for copies and we weren’t hand-selling them at the time either.  When someone asked about a good series for a 10-12 year old kid who liked fantasy I seem to recall that Phillip Pullman was our go-to recommendation.

Then today I saw this post from George R.R. Martin where he talks about it being 20 years since the first Game of Thrones book was published and doing book tours for it with dismal turnouts.

I remember getting an ARC of maybe the second book (it had a gold cover) while I was working at the bookstore.  It was just sitting there in the back room, dumped with all the other ARCs we received and I thought, “ooh, dragons, cool” and picked it up.  Even though I was a fantasy reader and worked in a bookstore I had no clue who he was or what the series was.

And when it came time for me to do my great book purge in 2010, it didn’t even occur to me to hold onto that book even thought it’s probably worth something now.  Because the series didn’t really blow up like insanity until the T.V. show hit big starting in 2011.

It’s funny.  Because it can seem to people looking back that of course a book took off right away.  But that’s rarely the case.  I remember hearing about Twilight after the entire series was out.  Same with 50 Shades of Grey.  By the time they were big enough to come to my attention, the people I knew who liked them were binge-reading the whole series in the space of a few days.

Which is all to say that there’s time.  Maybe.  For things to take off later.  And that a book that does alright today might be part of something amazing next year or ten years from now.

(I certainly hope so given my own sales…)

Posted in General, Writing | Tagged , , , , ,

Let Me Tell You About My Friends

When you get into this writing thing you slowly find yourself accumulating friends that are also writers.  And you want to support them and shout to the world about their books except funny thing is you find yourself without any time to actually read their books because you’re so busy writing the next thing.  And when you aren’t writing the next thing you’re reading that latest book that everyone is talking about that isn’t really your thing (hello, Among Others and Goblin Emperor) or binge-reading that author you love that you haven’t read in months (hello, Robin Hobb and Mercedes Lackey and the entire Harry Potter series-finally).

Or is that just me?

So here I am.  I have friends with books out and I don’t have time to read those books but I like all of them and want to support them in this writerly thing we all are trying to do.  And I thought maybe I’d just tell the followers of this blog about them and maybe one would sound interesting and you guys might check it out and win-win for both you the blog reader and my friends the authors.

Every sale counts.  Seriously.  Self-pubbed, small-pubbed.  Every little boost is one little affirmation that you aren’t completely wasting hours and years of your life on something that is never going to be anything.

So here they are.  My friends’ books:

1. Sand of Bone by Blair MacGregor

Described as: ““Searingly vivid, and grittily realistic, Sand of Bone slams the reader into a harsh desert world full of complex people, tense moral dilemmas, and an exhilarating jet of the weird. Do not start this one late at night!”  –Sherwood Smith

And written by a Viable Paradise grad as well as a Writers of the Future winner, too.

sand of bone

2. Genesis Girl by Jennifer Bardsley

Not into fantasy novels?  Rather have something set in the near-future that looks at internet addiction and cults?  Then you’ll want to check this one out.

“The idea of Internet addicts and cell phone-induced brain cancer makes this title stand out among today’s saturated YA dystopia market.” -School Library Journal

genesis girl

3. The Sword of Dragons by Jon Wasick

Or maybe you do like fantasy but you want something with dragons and orcs and magical swords?  Then this is the one for you.

sword of dragons

4. Seven Stones Volume 1 by Dave Higgins

Or you like shorter stuff.  Okay.  Maybe check out something by Dave Higgins.  (Who deserves a shout out here just for being the most long-term commenter on my blog even though we’ve never met.)

Seven Stones

5. Kitsune Tales by Emily Kay Singer

Still not enough for you?  What about short urban fantasies with a Japanese fox-spirit as the central character?  Can’t go wrong there.


Hopefully there’s something in the above list that you like.  Enough variety there certainly.

Posted in reading | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Path Not Taken

We all make decisions in our lives.  Attend this school, take that job, date this person not that one.  And each of those choices takes us down a path that becomes our life.  The path isn’t necessarily straight or linear, but it’s the path we choose.

Throughout my life I’ve known people who took different paths than I did.  Paths that were their own but could’ve been mine.

Like the classmate from college who did in fact go on to graduate school in anthropology and ended up doing fieldwork in the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala.  Every time I thought of that friend I thought of them as living an alternate version of my life.  Change a few decisions I made and that would’ve been me.

Another one is a former co-worker who started at the same company as I did at almost the exact same time.  Someone with similar skills who took a path almost parallel to mine–including our areas of expertise–up until the point I left that company and moved on.  Every time I talk to that former co-worker, I think that could’ve been me.

And another co-worker who started when I did but didn’t have the mentorship I did and so didn’t get the opportunities I did.  And who made choices in their personal life that I might’ve made to if things had been different.  Each time we talk, I wonder if that would’ve been me with just a few slight changes.

And the person who took up skydiving like I did but found someone that shared their passion and is now traveling the world with their spouse working and skydiving in places like Dubai, New Zealand, and Sweden.

I see those lives and think that could’ve been me.

Sometimes I’m happy it isn’t.  Sometimes I wish it were me.  Sometimes I just wonder.

Like today.  Today is a sad day.

Because one of those people died living that life that I  might’ve chosen.  It was a good life, but ended far too soon.  And I can’t help but wonder what if…

Posted in Life | Tagged , ,

Some Thoughts On Audiobooks

So I spent part of my afternoon reviewing the audio for one of my titles.  And it was kind of painful.  Not, thankfully, because of my writing, but because narrating a story is a tricky thing and trying to decide how much a narrator needs to fix things is hard to do.

This is the sixth title I’ll have put into audio (two are live, three are pending approval.)  (Shorter works, only one novel.)  But I think at this point I’ve learned a few things.

So without further ado, some thoughts:

  1. I’ve seen more than one person mention that you shouldn’t bother with audio unless you’re selling well in ebook. And for a novel that may make sense.  But I decided to put one of my non-fiction books in audio to test it out and I’ve sold (without promo) more copies of that title in audio than I have in ebook and print combined.
  2. You can sometimes get a narrator for less than their stated rate.  For my non-fiction, I put the audition up with a pay range of $50-$100 and had auditions from people who listed a rate of $200+ but were willing to accept $100.
  3. Fiction is far harder to narrate than non-fiction.  With my non-fiction it does require personality, so the narrator can’t just be anyone.  But it doesn’t require multiple character voices that need to be consistent across hundreds of pages.  That, it turns out, is really hard to do.
  4. Download the audio files and listen to them with a headset.  One of my narrators took great big gasping breaths between every sentence, but it wasn’t audible until you downloaded.
  5. I’ve chosen to do pay-for-production deals with the thought that then I get the upside of the sales.  But that makes it a more expensive project up-front and I wonder if that means a narrator is less involved in making sure the work is the best it can be.
  6. Even if someone else is producing the audio, as a self-publisher there’s a significant time commitment required to review the audio and recommend changes.
  7. You have to pick your battles.  I acknowledged with my first narrator that I couldn’t expect them to read everything exactly the way I would if I were reading it.  Instead I focused on places where a slipped word just didn’t work or where the tone or pacing of the sentence just didn’t work as opposed to trying to make the production exactly how I would’ve done it.  It’s not easy to do that, but it’s the only way to keep both of us sane.

Overall, I’m glad I’m branching into audio.  And it’s nice that I can do so with smaller projects first before I try to get a novel out there.  (A cost of $1,200 minimum minimum.) I may try to narrate a few things myself later this year (with all that free time I have, ha!) because there are certain works that I think do need a very specific delivery or tone and I won’t be able to train a narrator to read them that way.

But it’s a slog, too.  Yet another skillset to learn on this indie publishing path (which is probably part of the reason I’m still writing and publishing–because I like to learn new things and find new challenges).

Posted in My Writing | Tagged , , , , ,

Five Years…

Just realized it’s been five years since I started this whole writing journey.  And…?

I don’t know.

I’m proud of what I’ve written but underwhelmed by how I’ve done overall.  And yet, 2,500+ paid sales is not nothing.  And having some complete stranger describe one of your books as “Fantastic” is pretty-damned awesome.

But it’s just hard at times.  Writing is a very up and down experience that requires a tremendous amount of dedication.  (Of course, ironically, my second-most successful story took one day to write and publish…so not a whole lot of dedication involved there, was there?)

My latest novel took me 160 hours to write.  And I’m very happy with it.  But you put in all that time, alone, and then you release it to the world and…

Maybe nothing.  Maybe no one even reads it.  Because you’re competing against so many others that visibility is a real challenge.

Which means the writing has to be about something else.

I keep doing it, but damned if I know what that is.  Maybe it’s my own version of therapy?  Working through all my thoughts and worries about the world by creating characters and making their lives hell for a while?

Or maybe it’s just sheer pigheadedness.  I’m used to being successful so damn it I’m going to keep doing this until I’m successful at it, too.

I don’t know.

What I do know is I’m not done yet.

Maybe after ten years…Or a million words of published fiction…Or 100 titles published.

Some goal I haven’t yet reached.

The one that leads to success.

Posted in General Musings, My Writing, Writing | Tagged , , ,

40 Things That Make Me Happy

So, it turns out I’m now 40 years old.  Holy cow!  What have I done with my life?  But it’s okay, because I’ve actually done quite a bit and don’t regret where I am or who I am.  And after forty years, I think that’s an accomplishment in and of itself.

I had thought I would write a post about 40 things I love in honor of the birthday.  But it turns out that when I think about having to “LOVE” something that I freeze up at about five things and most of those aren’t even things that are part of my daily life.  (My dog, New Zealand, and sky diving were at the top of the list and two of those three are part of my past not my present.  The others were vague things like good music and great books.)

But there are probably 40 things in this world that make me happy.  So I figured I’d list those instead and under weird categories.

Places I’ve Been That Made Me Happy:

  1. Lake Atitlan, Guatemala – I’m not sure if it still is, but when I was there it was just stunningly beautiful and I stayed in a hotel that had a botanic gardens so it was even more amazing.
  2. Lake Taupo, New Zealand – Do you see a theme here?  I am a water sign and it shows in what makes me happy.  A lake the size of Singapore with a wonderful paved path along its shores and mountains in the background?  Check.
  3. The mountains of Colorado – At the end of the day, Colorado is where I was born and raised and will probably always come back to.  Especially up in the mountains.  I love blue sky and pine trees and twisty dirt hiking trails and windy mountain roads.

Food That Makes Me Happy:

  1. My grandmother’s homemade pinto beans – They have this rich, creamy gravy and bacon strips in there and…oh yum.  Not particularly healthy, but worth it anyway.
  2. Haagen-Dazs Sea Salt Caramel Gelato- Oh my god.  Heaven.  That strip of caramel that runs through it?  Wow.
  3. A good steak – Like from Morton’s.  I once stopped eating meat for a couple months because I was just poor and living on baked potatoes and, surprisingly, Snicker’s granola bars for breakfast, and I got so depressed and run down.  Finally, I took myself out for a really, really good steak dinner and all those sad feelings just melted away.
  4. Coca-cola – It doesn’t give me the same feelings of pure bliss as the first few items I had it, but Coke is that one constant in my life from year to year.  I don’t drink coffee, so it is my sole source of caffeine. I once wrote an essay for school on how drinking an almost-frozen Coca-Cola from a tall glass bottle is one of my most treasured childhood memories.
  5. Chef’s tasting menus – I know it sounds strange, but I just love to have a variety of food to try and to be surprised by some new, yummy experience.  One of the best courses I ever ate was figs with foie gras.  It was sooo good.  But I would’ve never ordered that in a million years.
  6. Cheese – I love a good cheese plate. And I eat cheese every single day.  And when I quit my nice-paying job and could only afford your basic cheddar cheese, I have to admit I went through withdrawal from basil-infused Gouda.

Music That Makes Me Happy:

So today I took the new Harry Potter quiz for what North American house you’d get.  I was a Wumpus, I think it is.  But what cracked me up was the question about jinxes, because one of the possible jinxes was to have music playing in your head all the time and I laughed because I do have music playing in my head all the time.  (Right now it’s Taylor Swift.)

I love music.  I have 6,457 files in my iTunes library at the moment.  Some of those are language-related, but most are songs.

A few of my favorites are:

  1. Happy by Pharell Williams
  2. Like Water by Ladi6
  3. Video by India Arie
  4. Beast of Burden by The Rolling Stones
  5. Something To Remember by Madonna
  6. On My Own from Les Miserables
  7. A Couple More Years by Dr. Hook
  8. I Shall Believe by Sheryl Crow
  9. Hurt by Johnny Cash
  10. Feelin’ Good by anyone (the version I have in my faves list is by The Pussycat Dolls)

Books That Make Me Happy:

I love to read.  I really do.  And most of what I read is fantasy, but the books that’ve really left an impression are mostly outside of that genre.  So if you asked me favorite authors you’d get a lot of fantasy names (Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Robin Hobb, Guy Gavriel Kay, etc.)  But in terms of books I’ve read and think, “oh, yes, gooood book”:

  1. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
  2. Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
  3. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

I have more books on my favorites shelf, but those are the three that stood out when I looked just now.

Other Things That Make Me Happy:

  1. Skydiving – I don’t do it anymore, but I loved skydiving.  Such a thrill and a challenge.  Every jump was a new adventure.
  2. My pup – She’s such a goof and so worth having in my life.
  3. My friends – I’m fortunate to have a handful of friends that just get me and that I can hang out with for hours laughing and talking.  I’m not one of those people who has a core group that are always together, but the friends I do have I treasure.
  4. My family – We are by no means perfect and all the family I have left I’ve had struggles with at one point or another, but I love them and I love spending time with them.
  5. Writing – I’m still not sure why I keep doing it but I do. I love to write.  I even love the fiddly bits about designing covers and writing blurbs.  It’s a passion for me as far as I have passions.  (Which means a good t.v. show can still take priority.)
  6. Movies – I watch fewer movies now than I used to, but I still love a good movie.
  7. Television shows – There aren’t that many t.v. shows these days that I really, really love, but I still like to watch television and it still can make me happy to watch.  It’s an insight into other people’s lives that I can’t get anywhere else.
  8. My Home – I don’t have expensive things in my home, but I have lots of little things I’ve picked up from my travels. It makes me smile to see them and be reminded of those places I’ve been.

The Big Picture Things That Make Me Happy:

Haha.  It seems I’m too old.  Because that was thirty things and I’m struggling to keep going here, so I guess I’ll get all philosophical at the end here.

  1. Internet – The internet has made my life amazing.  I can be anywhere in the world and do my job and write and keep in touch with all my friends and family.  Thirty years ago the life I live right now was not possible.
  2. Planes and Trains and Automobiles – If you think about it, it’s crazy how easy it is for us to get to any place in this world.  It’s allowed me all sorts of travel opportunities that, again, would not have been possible to an earlier generation.
  3. Available Credit – The life I have today is because I was able to borrow money to fund my education and to buy my home and to fund my travels.  Without the credit system that exists in my country where a complete unknown can be lent money and a decent amount of it, I would have a much poorer existence.
  4. Rule of Law – I know that there are some in this country who don’t feel this way, but I think I am incredibly fortunate to live in a society that is as safe as mine is.  I don’t need armed guards or barbed-wire fences to protect what I own, which is not true for the entire world. I can travel at night without feeling in imminent danger.  I can walk into a restaurant or store alone and feel safe doing so.  Not true in all parts of this world.
  5. Freedom to Be Me – I do not have the same issues that many people I know do in terms of being who they are.  I’m a cisgendered heterosexual who generally conforms to society’s expectations.  But at the same time, the life I live right now is not a life I could’ve lived a hundred years ago.  I am fortunate to live in a society that allows me to be me.
  6. Nature – I love that I can take my pup to a sixty-acre dog park every morning or drive twenty minutes and find myself in the midst of tree-covered canyons with access to probably a hundred hiking trails.
  7. My Health – Given my family’s health issues, it’s surprising I didn’t put this one further up the list.  Weird how even knowing what I know, I take for granted that I live a pain-free, medicine-free life.  But doing so makes me very happy.
  8. Who I Am – This one’s a hard one to explain, but I’m grateful that I was born who I am with what I was born with in terms of potential and skills and all that.  I’ve been fortunate that I don’t think I’ve had to face challenges that others do simply because of who they are.
  9. Access to Knowledge – I’ve been incredibly fortunate that I’ve had the ability to access the type of knowledge that could help me improve my life.  From getting a scholarship to a private middle school and high school to the colleges I attended to being able to take free courses online now to being able to acquire knowledge from blogs and Internet forums.
  10. Money – A weird one to end on, but I’m sort of stretching at this point.  I’m not rich by any means, but having enough money to pay for food and a roof over my head and the things I enjoy doing is so so so vital to everything else.  Money is a thing it’s easy to take for granted until you don’t have it.  The pursuit of money in and of itself isn’t worth the sacrifices to me, but I do think having enough to take away the day-to-day worry about tomorrow is essential to happiness.

So there you have it.  Forty things that make me happy, as bizarre a list as it is.  Hopefully if I make it to eighty I’ll be just as contented with my life then as I am now.  But I will not be writing a list of eighty things that make me happy.  Forty, it turns out, was hard enough!


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