Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Trying Kindle Short Reads

Posted: November 1, 2019 in Uncategorized

As you’ve probably already assumed (or know from personal experience), writing a novel is really time-consuming. I have self-published two novels (Illegally Innocent and The Anorexic Experiment) since 2012 and have one currently in the works. Although I enjoy producing full-length pieces, I would like to publish new content more often.

My husband Mike kept telling me to write short stories for publication. I haven’t spent time writing short stories since college, and I didn’t think most people would buy a single short story that’s not in a collection. After checking into it further, apparently there is a decent-sized group of people who enjoy reading Kindle Short Reads. Kindle Short Reads are short stories only available for Kindle (or through the Kindle app); besides being broken down by genre, they are also broken down into time categories, like 15-minute reads or 1-hour reads. I read a fascinating blog post from this past January that suggested that “There’s a high demand for Kindle Short Reads with a relatively low offering. Kindle Short Reads is still in its Wild West phase—there’s plenty of room for you to get your spot of land and grow it into something really profitable and prolific.” So…I am starting an experiment of writing a shorter piece and seeing how its reception is. I am not giving up on publishing novels, but I want to try something that can be completed and edited a little more quickly. I will be sharing my Kindle Short Reads journey of this first story with you–letting you know how much time it takes, how profitable it is, if it appears to impact the sales of my two novels, and other random tips I figure out along the way. I have been working on a short story off and on the past few weeks for my first Kindle Short Reads publication, and it contains some characters you will be familiar with if you’ve read my other work. I will mostly be documenting this journey here on my blog but plan to post some videos about the topic to correspond with these posts on my YouTube channel as well.

Have you published a story on Kindle Short Reads? If so, how did it go?

This summer Mike and I welcomed a baby into our family! I was happy to have an easy pregnancy (especially after my miscarriage in 2017) and was hoping the labor and delivery would be easy as well. My mom was only in labor with me for three hours, and my grandma had been in labor for six hours or less with both my mom and my uncle, so I had high hopes that quick labors were in my genes. Unfortunately, I reached 41 weeks and had not gone into labor. I was okay with waiting longer, especially since tests conducted at 41 weeks indicated our son was perfectly fine; however, the midwife at my 41-week appointment did not want to wait much longer, since the risk of complications and stillbirth increases slightly the longer you are overdue. Many of the induction appointments for the next few days were already taken (the hospital only scheduled four per day and fewer on the weekends), so we ended up with an appointment for 5 p.m. at 41 weeks and 3 days.

At my 41-week appointment, the midwife explained that if I was not dilated at the time of my induction, then they often used Cytotec (misoprostol) to start the induction process, rather than Pitocin, which seems to be the drug you mostly hear about in childbirth classes and from others who have been induced. Prior to her talking about it, I knew Cytotec was sometimes used and had already decided that I probably did not want it. I had first heard of Cytotec in October 2017 when it was offered as an option to complete my missed miscarriage. I did some research on the drug at that point in time, and, after reading about some potential scary side effects–which were made even scarier by the fact that you took this drug at home for a missed miscarriage and not in the hospital under medical supervision–decided on a D&C.

Cytotec is not approved by the FDA for use in pregnancy (not that I rely on the FDA for everything, but still, it makes you think twice). Cytotec is supposed to be used to treat gastric ulcers. When it is used for the off-label purpose of pregnancy, it can be used to cause an abortion in the early weeks of pregnancy, complete a missed miscarriage, or induce labor of a live, healthy, full-term baby. The midwife assured me that they only use a small percentage of this drug for induction compared to its use in a missed miscarriage, and that the hospital has never really had any issues with it. I still find it concerning, though, that it is used for both aborting a baby and delivering a healthy one. Also, Cytotec dissolves instantly, so if there are problems from it, you can’t remove it. Some of Cytotec’s worst potential side effects include uterine rupture, death to mother and/or infant, and brain damage to the infant. It can either be taken orally or inserted vaginally. Obviously, if it’s inserted vaginally, it’s awfully close to your infant’s head, which is concerning if you consider the brain damage side effect.

If I had not heard of Cytotec previously, I probably would not have researched it for my induction. I would have just assumed that pill was what they used and tried not to worry about it. Since I wanted to avoid that drug if possible, though, I decided to pick a different option. Two other options my hospital offered were mechanical dilation with a Foley catheter and Cervidil. I wanted to use the catheter option because it has the fewest risks associated with it, but you have to be dilated a certain amount on your own in order to pick the catheter, and I was not. So my last option was Cervidil, and I am glad I picked that rather than Cytotec. Cervidil is inserted vaginally but can be removed easily (similar to a tampon) if it is causing any side effects or problems. It does, of course, have its own list of side effects (which at this point in my induction decisions I mostly tried to avoid viewing, since Cervidil was my last option), but it is actually approved for pregnancy. The midwife acted surprised that it worked so well on me (I went from basically not being dilated at all to 3 cm in the span of about 12 hours). Normally, they would administer Pitocin at that point to continue the induction, but I requested to see if my body would continue the labor process without the use of Pitocin, and they agreed that was fine. One of the downsides of being induced is that the contractions can come closer together right from the beginning, and mine did–they were roughly three minutes apart for almost all of my 27-hour labor.

I wrote this post because I want women to be aware that they have options when it comes to labor induction. Ask questions of your OBGYN or midwife and do your own research as well. Also, if you reach 40 weeks in your pregnancy and have not started labor on your own yet, schedule your induction date. You can always cancel it if you don’t need it. I waited until 41 weeks to schedule mine because I kept hoping I wouldn’t need to be induced. I would have been given the green light to wait until 41 weeks and 5 days to start induction, but they were booked full. Perhaps I would have gone into labor on my own if I had had those extra couple of days.

If you would like to read more about Cytotec, please check out these resources:

The Freedom to Birth–The Use of Cytotec to Induce Labor: A Non-Evidence Based Intervention

Inductions and the Use of Drugs in Labor and Delivery

The Risks of Cytotec for Inducing Labor

Misoprostol Information from the FDA

Cytotec Unsafe for Labor Induction (This page is from an attorney’s website–continue down to the bottom of this webpage to read comments from women who have had complications during a Cytotec induction.)

**I am not a doctor. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any health advice I offer on my blog.**

When I wrote Illegally Innocent (my first self-published novel), I did not have a set process for how I completed it or a certain number of drafts I planned to do before publishing. Honestly, I have no idea how many different drafts I wrote for that novel. When I wrote The Anorexic Experiment, I decided I wanted to try something different–basically a formula. Below you’ll see my novel-writing process for The Anorexic Experiment, and it worked so well that I am using the same formula for my current project, the sequel to Illegally Innocent. You can watch the companion video for this post on my YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/HLEgLyc3wmU. If you have a certain plan you follow for your writing projects, let me know in the comments below!

First Draft—I am not an outliner. I have a general idea of where the book is starting and where it is going to end up, and I have some plot points in mind that I want to touch on along the way. I try not to edit myself much at all in this first draft and mostly write whatever comes to mind. This is sort of a “junk draft.” I do not let anyone read it. Much of it may not even make sense to someone else or be in the order it is going to be in when all is said and done. I will have a word count target in mind and will try to write until I have both reached my target word count and have managed to form some semblance of an ending to the novel.

Second Draft—I start revising. I don’t spend a lot of time on descriptions or fine-tune the plot yet, but I rearrange the plot points into something that makes more sense, fix obvious errors, and in general turn it into something that I am okay with someone close to me reading. My husband, Mike, reads it to give me big-picture feedback.

Third Draft—I use Mike’s feedback to make more edits and now I will spend time on descriptions, fixing dialogue, and doing what needs to be done to make me comfortable with other people reading it. I fix everything I can identify as needing to be fixed. I ask for beta readers and send the manuscript to several people for feedback on things like what parts are confusing, what parts are boring, and any other general edits that they notice.

Fourth Draft—I take the feedback from my beta readers and incorporate much of it into my editing process. The book is basically finished by the time the fourth draft is done.

Fifth Draft—This is where I go over the book with a fine-tooth comb, checking for any grammar errors I may have missed; checking that I have called all of my characters by the correct names (and spelled their names correctly); and if I have used any brand names, I look them up to make sure that I spelled those brand names accurately. I also check for words that I may have repeated too often. One of those words that I tend to use too much is the word “actually.”

Done! Ready to start the formatting and publishing process!

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.

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.