The Treeless Tree

I love Christmas trees. I hate  having to store them. They take up an incredible amount of floor space. Don’t even get me started on hewing down a perfectly good tree just to serve as a decoration (and fire hazard) for a couple of months.

This year, I decided: Screw it. I am going to join the ranks of the unconventional tree decorators. 

I took a ribbon, a string of lights, a little Sol Invictus appliqué, some packing tape, and here’s what I got:

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20 minutes and 3 bucks later, bam, done. Happy Holidays!

Pride and Arrogance

In line with the month of reflection, I’d like to share with you another rule I live by.

When someone gives you a compliment,

take it, and say “thank you.”

Don’t argue, or self-deprecate.

I know it’s often a cultural thing,

but stop doing it.

Understanding your own self-worth

is not arrogance.

The reason why you never feel amazing,

is that you keep defending

society’s mandate of mediocrity.

You are allowed to be awesome.

I do not buy into this whole “humility is a virtue” crap. I do not listen when advertisements or religious officials tell me that I am not good enough as I am. I will not feel ashamed of my talents or my accomplishments; I will take pride in them. That’s not arrogance. That’s a natural reward for doing a good job.

Why is it so hard to take a compliment? Why do we feel compelled to say things like: “Oh, well, actually this dress is kind of old,” or “Yeah, well, the top of the cake kind of cracked. Sorry about that,” or “Eh, well, I guess it was a pretty good test but I really screwed up on the section about thermo-dynamics”?

Don’t excuse away your own excellence. Recognize when you’ve done a good job and accept praise when you receive it.

Reflections on the Year

For me, December is always a time of looking back and reflecting on what I did well, and what I didn’t do so well. Perhaps that’s why I was so attracted to the idea of the Renew and Review Writing Challenge right away.

In my introspection, I’ve come across some ideas that I tend to structure my life around. After musing on this sticky note on my desk for a few days, I decided I’d share it.

Define success for yourself.

You will never be happy so long as

you’re trying to live up to someone else’s

definition of success.

You will only live long enough

to live out ONE person’s lifetime

of dreams.

They had better be yours.

Tell everybody else to go live 

their own dreams instead of hoping

you’ll have the courage

to do it for them.

Done with NaNoWriMo – Now What?

While I wait for the arrival of my printed proof, I’m spending some time in reflection of this past year, determining what I did well and what needs improvement. I stumbled on a writing challenge and felt it was a perfect follow-up to NaNoWriMo. It’s called the Renew and Review Writing Challenge.

Once a day, for all of December, an exercise appears in my inbox and I do it. The exercises are pretty intensive, but they’ve been immensely helpful so far. What the challenge does for the participant is help them take stock of all of 2013 in terms of writing in order to formulate a game-plan for the upcoming year. I highly recommend getting in on the action.

Blood of Midnight Printing Proof Ordered

Alright! Paperback proof has been ordered from Lulu. It will take 4-7 business days to reach me. Once I have verified that there are no weird printing errors, I will make the book available for public purchase.

The price will be around 20 dollars Canadian. Lulu will not let me price it any lower, unfortunately. It’s more than I wanted it to be but, as this is my first book, and without the financial clout of a big publishing house behind me, print-on-demand is the only way I’m able to bring you a paperback copy.

If it’s absolutely beyond your budget but you still want to enjoy the book, I encourage you to pick up an electronic version from Smashwords or Amazon and download a free e-reader app for you computer. My editor recommends Calibre as his favourite option to read it with. Yes, it’s free. If you want to try this option and you’re having trouble, please let me know. I think people should be able to enjoy my work regardless of their income.

I remember walking through my favourite bookstore as a kid and having no money to buy any of the books I wanted. It’s a sad feeling, and I promised myself that when I was an author, I wouldn’t do that to anyone else. I’m doing my best for you guys, I promise.

The Things They Don’t Tell You About Publication

Question: What’s an ITIN?

Answer: Why it’s an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number! That thing that stops the IRS from withholding 30% of your profits when you sell your book in the US from outside of the US. It lets them know: “Hey guys, my country has a tax treaty with your country so, don’t do that thing you do. Okay? Thanks!”

If you live outside the US and you’re planning on making use of a distributor like Amazon.com, Smashwords, etc, make sure you get one of these and get it early on. If you’re approved for an ITIN, it’s going to take them six weeks to mail it to you. Also, from what I’ve been reading, your ITIN doesn’t apply to the year in which it’s issued to you, so if this is your first time selling to the US, you’d better start this process while you’re still writing your first draft.

I don’t recall seeing a self-publication guide that so much as mentions this so, as you can guess, it was a nasty little surprise I stumbled upon while uploading my book. All I can say is: wow this is way more complicated than I thought it would be. I have way more respect for self-pubbed authors now that I’m running the gauntlet myself.