The president of the store where I have worked for nearly thirteen years announced to us in an emotional meeting yesterday that our store will be closing in three to four weeks. I know this was an extremely hard decision, and I appreciate that they have gone to great lengths to keep us open as long as they have. I am currently a full-time employee, and I have told them I will stay the remaining weeks that we are open. It has been a great store to work for, and they are doing their best to find positions for as many of us as possible at their other stores. As we all consider what our next steps will be (not just the next steps for us, but for anyone who is going through job loss, whether you are with this company or another), here are some questions I’m thinking about, and maybe they will help you, too:

  1. What is my passion? What do I not only enjoy doing but also feel that I am skilled in?
  2. What are my career goals not only for right now, but also for the next five or ten years?
  3. What do I need to do to make those career goals happen? How can I take at least one step each week toward making those career goals happen?
  4. If what I want to do is not going to make enough money to pay my bills for a while, what can I do in the meantime to pay those bills? What steps can I take so that my passion gradually does start paying more and more of my bills (and paying for fun things, too, like vacations)?

“Hitting bottom and hitting it hard was the worst thing that ever happened to me and the best thing that ever happened to me.” –Dave Ramsey

 

 

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If you follow me on social media or subscribe to my e-newsletter, you may already know this information, but I would like to update my blog followers on what life has been like the past few months. At the end of June 2017, my second book, The Anorexic Experiment, released and I had big plans to spend the next several months on book promotion. I wanted to participate in as many events as possible and spend a lot of time doing online marketing of my new book. The first week of August, my husband Mike and I were excited to find out that we were expecting our first child. Along with the pregnancy came a lot of exhaustion, and many days I didn’t have the energy to do much beyond working at my full-time day job. I only participated in a handful of events and did not end up dedicating nearly as much time to marketing as I had originally thought I would.

At our first prenatal appointment on October 2, we found out that I had experienced a missed miscarriage. A missed miscarriage means that the baby has died, but the mother does not have any symptoms of a miscarriage. The baby did not have a heartbeat, and an ultrasound revealed that the baby was only measuring 10.5 weeks when it should have been measuring 13.5 weeks. We were devastated, and I ended up having surgery on October 13 since my body was not naturally miscarrying on its own. I wanted to take the rest of 2017 to recover both physically and emotionally, and so I decided not to do much of anything with my writing for the remainder of the year. Other than a few social media posts, I did not do anything to promote my books or do any writing on a future project for those last several weeks of 2017.

By the time the first day of 2018 arrived a few weeks ago, I was ready and eager to return to writing. I have been working on the sequel to my first book, Illegally Innocent, and am currently about 25% of the way through writing the first draft. I have slowly eased back into making social media posts and returned to sending out my e-newsletter in January. I am hoping to have some events scheduled soon and will share with you when I do.

My thoughts and prayers are with all of you who have experienced miscarriage.

My new YA novel, The Anorexic Experiment, is part of a Kindle Countdown Deal right now, and you can buy it for just $0.99! This weekend it will go up to $1.99, and then Sunday night it will go back up to its normal price of $2.99. Grab it at the discounted price while you can! Check it out here: https://www.amazon.com/Anorexic-Experiment-Angela-Bacon-Grimm-ebook/dp/B073C59BSX/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1501794191&sr=8-1.

Now that I have completed the CreateSpace process for my new YA novel, The Anorexic Experiment, and have received my first few shipments of books from them, I want to provide a review to help those who may be considering CreateSpace to self-publish their own book(s). This blog post is going to be significantly longer than many of my other posts, so settle in. 🙂

Overall, my experience with CreateSpace has been a positive one. The most exciting part of the self-publishing experience this time has been the price–I only spent about $135 for the whole process. Technically, you can use CreateSpace to publish for free, but I wanted to buy an ISBN for the paperback version ($99), and I purchased two proof copies (with rush shipping), so the total came to approximately $135. This cost includes both paperback and eBook versions. In contrast, my self-publishing experience with Mill City Press for my first novel, Illegally Innocent, cost almost $2500 for both paperback and eBook formats. Plus, I pay nearly $260 per year to keep Illegally Innocent listed for sale on Amazon, the iBookstore, and Barnes & Noble’s website. It appears there won’t be any yearly renewal fee with CreateSpace, but I don’t know for sure yet.

Depending on your own speed and skill with using CreateSpace’s process, you can crank out a book and have it up for sale on Amazon in a few days. With Mill City Press, it can take a few months before your book is available to buy. I also feel like I have more control over The Anorexic Experiment than Illegally Innocent as far as changing the price and updating files in an efficient manner if I want to do so.

CreateSpace has been pleasantly speedy with shipping books to me. All three of the shipments I have purchased so far have arrived in eight days or less (one of those times was even over the Fourth of July, and the books still arrived within six days from the date of order).

With CreateSpace, you publish the paperback version of your book in CreateSpace, but you publish the Kindle version through Kindle Direct Publishing (both owned by Amazon). Mill City Press turned my eBook not only into files for Kindle, but also for iBooks and Nook. With CreateSpace/Kindle Direct Publishing, if I want to make my eBook available in formats other than Kindle, I have to do that work myself. I chose to go with the KDP Select program, which allows you to earn higher royalties and means that I am making my eBook exclusive to Kindle for 90 days at a time. In a few months I might opt out of the program and develop a Nook version–I am still deciding.

Both CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing provide access to helpful sales reports that get updated every day. I particularly enjoy this feature, as Mill City Press provides just monthly sales reports for paperbacks and quarterly reports for eBooks.

Now for a few cons…formatting the interior pages of your manuscript and creating the cover can be a nightmare on CreateSpace. Mill City Press took care of both of those things for me with Illegally Innocent, and I didn’t realize just how many little details you have to watch to make sure your book turns out the way you want it to be. I formatted in Microsoft Word, and even though I have a ton of experience using Word and would have previously considered myself “proficient” in it, I learned even more about it while formatting this book. Even though I tried to do the best I could with the interior formatting of The Anorexic Experiment, I know Illegally Innocent looks better. If it is your first time using CreateSpace, DO NOT attempt to format your book without using their suggested template. I tried to do it on my own at first, thinking it seemed like a pain to copy and paste all of my manuscript into their template. Big mistake. I wasted many hours trying to format it and kept running into problems. Once I started using CreateSpace’s template, the process became much easier. It still took a decent amount of time, but I did not get nearly as frustrated as I had when I tried to do it without the template.

My husband, Mike, designed the cover of The Anorexic Experiment for me and did a great job. Unfortunately, though, we found out that CreateSpace’s print quality is not quite what we were hoping for. The cover image looked fantastic on Mike’s computer, and we thought it was within CreateSpace’s guidelines, but we ran into problems with pixelation and images that were slightly blurry. Overall, the print quality of both the cover and the interior is just not quite up to par with what Mill City Press produced for me. Both of my books use black as the main color on the back cover, and if you compare the two, the black on Illegally Innocent is much more vibrant and seems to be more of a “true” shade of black than that on The Anorexic Experiment. CreateSpace also seems not to be as careful when cutting pages–in one of the copies I received, the pages were incredibly crooked. Although all of the text was present and readable, if you flipped through and compared placement of headings, the book was definitely put together at an odd angle.

Overall, the problems I have experienced with CreateSpace have not been serious enough to prevent me from using their services again. I do think Mill City Press produces a slightly more professional-looking book, but it took a long time to earn back my money on that first book. I am glad I chose Mill City Press for Illegally Innocent and still recommend them if you do not feel comfortable trying to format your manuscript and create a cover on your own. Self-publishing a book for the first time can be overwhelming with figuring out how to market it, let alone trying to learn how to format, create your cover, and navigate other publishing issues. If you do not feel you are particularly computer-savvy, or do not have someone in your household who is, then I would recommend picking Mill City Press or a similar company in which they do most of the work for you. Honestly, if Mike had not taken on the responsibility of creating my cover, I don’t know if I would have chosen to use CreateSpace because I feel extremely uncomfortable with the idea of making a cover. You can hire people through CreateSpace or freelancers to help you with the tasks that you don’t want to do yourself, but if you’re picking CreateSpace to save money, any tasks that you hire out to other people can really start to rack up your costs.

Whoa! You made it to the bottom of this post. 🙂 If you have any questions about my CreateSpace experience, please post them in the comments. If you’d like to read my review of Mill City Press from a few years ago, click here: https://thehealthybacon.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/illegally-innocent-ebook-and-a-review-of-mill-city-press/.

If you’d like to read the first two chapters of either of my novels, click here for Illegally Innocent: http://angelabaconbooks.com/illegally-innocent/ and here for The Anorexic Experiment: http://angelabaconbooks.com/anorexic-experiment/.

I’ve been starting to receive this question about my new book: Have I (Angela Bacon Grimm) ever struggled with an eating disorder?

No, I have not. I did my best to portray those with eating disorders accurately in my book, The Anorexic Experiment, based on research and talking with those who have experienced eating disorders. Despite not having an eating disorder, I do feel like I can relate to Aimee (my main character) a tiny bit through the concept of restriction. I’m going to put a disclaimer on this statement that I do realize what I am about to say is not the same thing as an eating disorder, but it’s the only way I can relate to those who have experienced one.

As a child, I had food allergies to corn, wheat, and dairy. They weren’t life-threatening, but prior to eliminating these foods, I had a rash in patches on various locations of my body, ranging from my legs all the way up to my face. Through a careful diet and regular, frequent visits to a kinesiologist, my rash was eliminated. As an adult, I still struggle a little with a rash from those foods, but it is not nearly as severe as when I was a child; so I do eat these foods in moderation. In elementary school, when I had to be super restrictive about what I consumed because of my allergies, I sometimes felt left out when I watched what other kids ate. It was the most bothersome at events like birthday parties, when I would bring things to eat like rice crackers and juice boxes while other kids were eating cake. So, in that small way, I can identify with those struggling with anorexia–you feel like there are foods you can’t eat, and you just don’t feel like you’re “normal” in regards to food. I do realize that this is not at all the same thing as an eating disorder; this is just my EXTREMELY small way of trying to relate.

You may be interested in what inspired me to write this book. Check out this post for that information: https://thehealthybacon.wordpress.com/2017/06/26/all-about-the-anorexic-experiment-part-2/.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, PLEASE GET HELP. A good place to start is by contacting the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). Their phone number is 1-800-931-2237.

My new YA novel, The Anorexic Experiment, is now available to buy on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback formats! You can check it out here: https://www.amazon.com/Anorexic-Experiment-Angela-Bacon-Grimm-ebook/dp/B073C59BSX/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498928514&sr=8-1&keywords=the+anorexic+experiment. In about two weeks, it will also be available for sale at Harding’s Market in Otsego, MI, if you prefer to buy it at a “real” store rather than through Amazon. I hope to have it available to buy other ways soon as well.

I will be holding book signings at Harding’s on Friday, July 21, from 2-5 p.m. and on Saturday, July 22, from 12-3 p.m. I am also speaking at the Pizza & Pages Teen Book Club at the Otsego District Public Library on Tuesday, August 29, at 4 p.m. I will post more events as I schedule them.

What inspired me to write The Anorexic Experiment?

The Anorexic Experiment, like Illegally Innocent, was a book I started writing in college. I may or may not have had a tendency over the years to get a strong start on writing a book and then get a different idea and start working on that one. 🙂 When I was in college, xangas were all the rage. In case you’ve never heard of a xanga (pronounced “zanga”), a xanga is just a blog. I don’t know if WordPress even existed back then, but if you wanted a blog, xanga was considered to be the way to go. Anyway, several of my friends had one, and I finally joined it and wrote mostly short, ridiculous posts that contained inside jokes that only my dormmates would understand. Xanga had these things called “blog rings” where you could join groups of other xanga members who wrote on similar topics as you.

One day I was browsing random xangas (as one does when procrastinating on research papers and such), and I stumbled across a blog ring full of people who wrote about eating disorders. I was alarmed to discover that these people (primarily females) were posting about their weight, their food intake for the day (many times drastically low), and all sorts of “inspiration” to give readers ideas on how to be anorexic and bulimic. I read posts from several of these blogs and was so bothered by one that I commented on one of her posts. She responded on one of my posts. It was so long ago that I don’t remember what I said or what she said, and I can’t find it now. The whole situation affected me so much, though, that it stuck with me and I decided to write about it. I wrote just two or three chapters of it while in college and set it aside until a few years ago when I decided to work on it some more.