Archive Monthly Archives: January 2016

How to Reach Your “Can” Potential

We’re each capable of so much.

Our potential far exceeds our own understanding.

 I tried explaining this to my children yesterday when they got in trouble for something. I can see their potential – or at least a small piece of it.
I don’t think I, as their mother, can even see their true capabilities.
I don’t think anyone can.

But when they say to me, “Mom, I can’t do this or that or I just can’t.”

I want to throw my hands in the air and scream.

When you say you can’t do something, guess what?

You can’t.

You will never be able to.

You’ve already made up your mind and nothing is more powerful than your mind on what you’re going to do.

But if you say, I’ll try? Or I can learn? Anything that opens up your ladder to reaching your potential?

Watch the heights you CAN reach.

I explained to them yesterday that the best way to meet their potential is to

say Can.

Or Try.

Or believe that they’re amazing.

Because my babies are amazing.

People are amazing.
 

We have so much potential.

 

You have so much potential.

 

Don’t limit it with Can’t.

 

Let it impress you with Can.

 

Because you’re more amazing than even you know.

The Route to Freedom Pass – Worth of Souls EXTRA!

So I wrote this amazing series (Worth of Souls) that I crazily cross genres in while I’m in the middle of it.

Yep, big no-no.

  • Book 1 – Cost of Survival – is apocalyptic, meaning the world is falling down around this girl’s ears. She’s seventeen and trying to escape the fallout of World War III with her mom. But they run from danger into worse danger.
  • Book 2 – Exchange Rate – is set about a year and a half later and closer to a dystopic when the war is over and the communities are settling around her.
  • Book 3 – Worth of Souls – is the conclusion to that series and there’s more of a dystopic-optimism in the ending than a finality of apocalyptic fiction.
 That’s my short rundown to get you up to speed.
In Exchange Rate (book 2), Kelly learns of a rumor of a community that has electricity. She hasn’t seen artificial lighting since initially escaping the bombings. She and her companions have to travel a route that is real.
Here’s the crazy thing.

I Google Mapped it, not that Kelly would have that resource – I actually believe Google will survive the end of the world. Not sure why, but let’s be honest, Google and Amazon will still be standing while the rest of the world drops into the Dark Ages.

darkages

 Anyway, I digress. I Google Mapped the back roads route to Fourth of July Pass from Bayview, ID and got this beautiful rendering of how she would travel to get there. Then, I went to travel it with my family and tried to pull up the same route on my Maps App and they wouldn’t even acknowledge that there was a back way.
Well, thankfully, I saved the map as a jpg and printed it off. I desperately wanted to have the map and some pictures from the trail Kelly traveled, get a taste for what she and the guys would travel through. It’s beautiful, too, by the way.

Here’s her map. You can see how long it will take to travel by foot – that’s if you don’t have to worry about people chasing you and other dangers – like Kelly does.

 

Here’s a trail she travels between curves in the road.  You can see it just as it narrows and goes over a kelly hump. (I caught that play on words!)

Here’s a bridge and creek that she uses in Book 3.

This is a cluster of creeks and springs as they converge to make up a large small river. The area she travels is just amazing.

If you go hiking, don’t forget these important, life-saving items.

  • First Aid kit
  • Contact device – GPS, phone, etc.
  • Rain gear
  • Pocket mylar blanket

What’s your favorite place to hike or camp by? Do you have it mapped?

Stay Alive!

Life Changing Bread – Survival Style

Well, I have no other reason to fall in love with this bread than it’s delicious (not everyone loves it – probably because it’s not like a real bread per se).

But when I realized how easy it is to make and how most of the items can be easily stored in food storage, I was sold. SOLD survivors!

I’m posting some pictures. I’m not sure where this particular recipe originated.
I got it from my grandma who got it from my aunt.
And I got the ingredients from my mom who had the same recipe which she got from my grandma.

Like a bad rendition of he-said-she-said.

I’ll post the recipe picture below as well as type out the recipe so you can copy and paste it if you want.

Okay, so my mom got the ridiculous ingredients and then measured them out into baggies.
I love her.
Can you believe how much work she did for this? She’s so awesome.
Anyway, here they are. The only thing not in the bags is the water. I got that, right?

I separated the dry from the wet and placed the beautiful dry ingredients into a separate bowl, like the directions demanded.

The coconut oil and honey needed to be loose enough I could get all of the items out of the baggy – this was messy for me until I figured out that the water needed to be hot, not luke warm. Ugh. I wasn’t thinking straight today.

I mixed and then pressed the mixture into a well-greased bread pan with a spoon. The recipe states use your fingers, I gave it the finger with that one. I do NOT like to touch stuff like this. I can actually cook an entire meal with five courses and never actually get food on my hands. It’s weird, but there it is.

These are after the first 20 minutes. Smelling good and they popped right out. I just used a pan spray to grease my pans. They worked awesome.

All in all this turned out great. On the slice I ate, I used very little honey to sweeten it. I was very excited that this worked out so well. I LOVED IT!

Thanks again Mom, for all the time and effort.

So here’s the recipe.

Life Changing Bread

Ingredients

1/2 C sunflower seeds

1/2 C flax seeds

1/2 C unsalted crushed almonds

2 T chia seeds

4 T psyllium

2 1/2 C rolled oats

1/2 C chopped apricots (we also used prunes yum!)

1 t. sea salt

2 T pure maple syrup

3 T melted coconut oil

1 1/2 C warm water

Directions 

  • Mix dry ingredients. Stir well in bowl.
  • Whisk wet ingredients together.
  • Add all ingredients together and mix well until all well coated.
  • Set up for at least 2 hours.
  • Bake 350 for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from pan.
  • Place loaf on oven rack. Bake additional 30 minutes. Bread is done when a hollow sound comes from thumping the shell.

This recipe clicked with my survival side. A person might not have some of those things in their food storage, but I had no idea you could put that small amount of items into a pan and bake it and get something so edible. I’m going to experiment with more items and see what I can do with items from my food storage.

Life Changing Bread appears in my series – Worth of Souls.

Try this recipe and then let me know if you like it. If you know where the recipe originated, please, PLEASE let me know so I can credit them.

Stay Alive!

Why Pricing is NOT Subjective… and How it Can Harm the Author…

I’ve had quite a few readers and future readers as well as readers of other authors ask me through email, Facebook, Twitter, contact sheets, Google+, etc. some pretty intriguing questions. These questions all circle the same topic, so I thought I’d approach it from my blog where there is room to cover my answer.

First of all, I read the reviews of other authors’ when I’m searching for my next read.

Yes, I too read books

(Indie and Trad) – in fact, if you’re an author, you better be reading. 

When I’m looking at the reviews, I can usually tell who is full of crap and who gave an honest review.

I started noticing a trend in what is called a LOSS-LEADER* book’s review. Mine are no exception. I started taking a tally. And I’m appalled at my findings.

sacrificing himself

*A Loss-Leader is a first in a series or collection of similar books that is priced beyond cheap and/or free. Most of the Loss-Leaders in this study were FREE, however a few of them were priced at $0.99.

Also, in this study, all of the books were indie-pubbed – meaning the author was in control of the pricing and strategy.

Here is a list of my study’s comparisons as well as conclusions.

  • Loss-leaders were across genres – romance, sci-fi, thriller, action, YA.
  • Subgenres were not separated out.
  • The Loss-Leaders were what is called perma-free – meaning they had been price-matched by Amazon to match another retailer’s lower price of the book.
    • This means that the author altered the pricing elsewhere and reported the heck out of the book’s new price as well as solicited help in doing so.
  • This was a lot of work.

We’ll get into why this makes a difference in a little bit.

  • The reviews were into 3-digits – so these books had been read by many – or at least reviewed/rated by many.
  • Each one lead a trilogy or longer but EACH SERIES WAS COMPLETED.
  • Not one series that I studied was incomplete.
  • All covers were professional and from the free downloads, the editing was, on average, at least average.
  • More than half were defined in some reviews as “cliffhanger endings”. Hmmm.
    • A series is a collection of books with endings that leave you wanting more.
    • A standalone series is a collection of books with something in common but do not hinge on the other books to complete the story.
    • Hunger Games, Twilight, Game of Thrones, Vampire Diaries (the original 3), Divergent, Trylle, and I could keep going – all have cliffhanger endings. This isn’t debatable. Some things are resolved but not everything is. That’s a SERIES.
  • Comments have centered around asking or pointing out a rather important point.
  • Some reviews stated that the reader liked the book but would not fall into the “greedy” trap that authors keep putting out there by having the audacity to actually charge money for the followup books in their series.

*insert arched eyebrow* because the first book free – which is usually the hardest to write – isn’t enough? That book was essentially indentured work – no pay off but lots of investment in the cover, editing, proofreading, tracking down people to help make it free, etc. in the HOPES that the reader would WANT to continue reading, would gladly pay for the next books, excited they got to read the first one free.

  • Some reviews did not like the book and would not suggest that anyone read the story only because of its cliffhanger ending. Everything was roses until that point, but not when they found out they had to read more.
  • One commentor on a VERY popular series got in an argument with another reviewer about the free status.
    • One stated that she/he was going to return the book because she’d enjoyed the book but didn’t want to pay for it – where a different commentor pointed out that the first reader didn’t have to pay for a FREE book.
    • The first commentor then argued with “I’m going to buy the next three and return them after I read them, because $2.99 a book is ridiculous.”.

 

This comment is RIDICULOUS and RUDE and OH-MY-WORD-MADE-ME-WANT-TO-VOMIT.

That is like going to your work for a month and at the end of the month having your boss say, “Oh, man, you know, I really liked your work, BUT I’m not in the mood to pay your rate that I was willing to pay when I wrote your check. I cancelled your paycheck. Sorry.”

That would reek and stink and suck, and would be ILLEGAL. So why is returning a book not illegal?

Sick, just sick.

At least if it’s been read by 20%? or so, right?

How much of this is ridiculous to you?

I price the way I price because Amazon has the royalty split set up to corner me into a more controlled pricing arrangement. It makes sense. It’s set up to avoid the crazy prices – like $0.99 for a full length novel.

$0.99 to $2.98 prices on ebooks earn the author 35%. That’s it.

That’s BEFORE the download fees get subtracted or any returns. So for every dollar they make about 35 pennies.

$2.99 to $9.99 prices will net an author 70% or so not taking into account the extra fees, etc. So, on that book that gave hours and hours of entertainment, $2.99 is just too high? (and it took HOURS and DAYS for that author to write – if not MONTHS).

Personally, I’m on an entertainment budget. I refuse to spend more than $4.99 on an ebook when I can buy a paperback for $5. Which really sucks sometimes because, like right now, I’ve been eyeballing this book being released by a trad pub and the ebook looks AWESOME.

Seriously, right up my alley.

But it’s priced at $7.68. For the ebook. The print is $7.69. This is hurting the author at that price.

Authors don’t get that high of a royalty off the print – I don’t care who you ask.

To go even further with that point, I think it’s important to state that sale prices are damaging sales…

Many readers get used to expecting the lower prices just around the corner.

trainothers-2

In a set of comments on multiple loss-leaders in my study, many readers indicated that they would be waiting for the next book in the series to go on sale or become free because they didn’t want to spend the money.

One even went so far as to say, “I read this author often and I always wait until after the first month because her prices always drop. If you’re looking at reading this book, just wait a little while. She’ll lower the price and it won’t go back up.”

SERIOUSLY?

Shopyou

Your readers shop you like I shop Wal-Mart. Why buy those snow pants at full price this year when at the beginning of spring, I can buy them for almost 75% off?

 

I’m not kidding.

Halloween, Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July – all these things go on ridiculous sales after the fact – I stock up for the next year because I know I’ll see another holiday exactly like that one.

You’re being played because you’re setting yourself up for it (sorry, I slipped into second person narrative there… when I’m flabbergasted, I do that.)

It’s predictable and makes it hard to get excited for any actual release dates.

Think of it this way. If you wanted to see a movie – in a theater – and it was releasing on day X for $10 a person to see, but you knew in extremely similar theaters in just Y amount of days, you could see the same movie for $3 a person – wouldn’t you wait?

Today? With prices like they are, you bet your butt you will. Up where I live? Most do.

The loss-leaders in my study spanned a variety of release dates – some as old as two years. This was encouraging for indie authors, simply because their long tail could grow exponentially.

In fact, on some of them, I did a side study that looked for groupings of similar dates to see if there was some kind of a trend – like a promo or something that occurred.

In 64.3% of them, they had groupings in a month’s time to indicate there had been promo of some kind in that time period. That’s terrific.

While my study was conducted with a biased eye toward looking for similarities, the control that I utilized included –

  • free books on lists,
  • Amazon reviews only,
  • all ratings ( 1 to 5 stars),
  • as well as only including the ratings that clearly came after the loss-leader status was indicated – many reviewers will say “glad it was free” or something to indicate that point.

With all of the above, I have come to the

conclusion

that the low pricing/loss leaders are being taken for granted.

Many posts lately from other authors and industry professionals have bemoaned the lowering of the value of the book and I’ve witnessed it myself as well as just reported on an aspect of it above.

My pricing strategy is simple and predictable.

If I do a preorder, that preorder price will be the sale price it will be on – most of my preorders include something special specific to the PREORDER ONLY. Meaning, the short story you receive or whatever it happens to be will not be available again.

This means a lot to my readers who follow the stories of my characters.

This adds value to the preorder.

However, if I do NOT do a preorder, I will have a lower price available for release day/week for my review team and to reward my loyal readers and then

it will go up

and

not go back down.

For AT LEAST 6 months – IF EVER (caveat – I do loss leaders on most of my series but my loyal readers know this and most don’t wait. This seems counterintuitive – especially based on my above findings, however, I’m a firm believer in the effectiveness of Loss Leaders, I just don’t believe they need to be thrown around willy nilly when this trains readers to expect them. Have a firm plan and know what you’re training your readers to do).

*Yes, I did say willy nilly. Hmmm.

I don’t generally do $0.99 sales. In fact, Amazon has one of my books lowered to match the price of one of my books on a pirate site and I can’t get it returned to its normal price.

At the beginning, I didn’t realize what I was doing – I would release it for regular price and then lower it a month later to a sale price.

My readers felt screwed – and when I realized what I was doing – I felt like I’d screwed them.

That wasn’t how I wanted to treat my readers.

So I devised the pricing plan.

I’m predictable in my pricing – NOT MY PLOTS – and this is comforting to the readers and to me.

Having read the above, do you have any thoughts on the current trend in ebook pricing? Should it stay low? Should it go higher? Why?

Keep up-to-date on Surviving with Bonnie and sign up for my newsletter on the right side of the screen. I look forward to hearing from you!

Stay Alive!

Answer a Question for the chance to win – Love Blog Hop

Answer the question below for a chance to win!

Watch Me Burn, Bonnie R. PaulsonWatch Me Burn

Levi

I’ve been in love and it hurts.

We hurt each other.

On purpose.

I can’t escape the guilt.

Megan

I don’t want to be just friends with Levi. But I will be. He’s been hurt before and I just want to be there for him. Someone needs to be on his side.

Chelsea

Levi Cole is mine.

I want him.

She can’t have him.

She needs to die.

Chapter 1

Levi

The only woman I deserved was in prison. Gone.

I was alone and trying to make something of myself.

The worst part about Chelsea being in jail was that I should’ve been in there too. Guilt ate at me.

Fifty pushups weren’t going to be enough today.

Chelsea was convicted of arson, vandalism, theft, and intent to do bodily harm. All the things I’d helped her do, and I ran hard and fast to get away – from Chelsea, the memories, the trap of being around familiar things

Every day I ran, even leg day. Even on rest day. I lifted six days out of the week and rested my muscles one day, but I used running for my punishment. The pain and exhaustion helped me sleep.

Because I needed to sleep. Chelsea ruled my nightmares with an iron fist. Even with hundreds of miles between us, I couldn’t escape the monsters in my mind.

In my heart.

I loved her. So hard. How could this be possible? How could I abandon her like that? How could she hurt me the ways that she did?

Twenty-five pull-ups would help burn her from my flesh.

For a little while anyway.

Grunting, I pushed harder with my chest dumbbell flies. Sweat rolled off my skin like butter melting in a pan. Too bad memories and thoughts of Chelsea didn’t burn away. I could handle that loss.

Drugs weren’t an option because I did those with Chelsea. I couldn’t face family or friends drugged up or depressed. They were all so happy I was away from Chelsea.

So I moved. Thank goodness for Mom and Dad backing me financially and helping me buy a business.

I found solace in working out. Lifting weights and pushing myself past the breaking point.

The weights were the craziest, yet most masculine thing I could come up with after Chelsea relegated me to less than a man, less than masculine. She took away my sense of self.

Bench pressing more than my weight, my muscles straining, my soul aching, was a sure-fire way to eradicate her from my life.

Hopefully.

Chelsea had torn me, ripped apart my strengths and left me bare, vulnerable. I needed my control back over something, anything. Lifting weights and running were things I could control.

Maybe someday, I’d learn to love myself again.

The sweat off my skin wasn’t because of anger or fear, but simply because I worked my muscles to the breaking point.

That wasn’t all. The sweat was part fear. Fear that Chelsea would find me.

If I could push myself hard enough, she disappeared from my mind. Working out burned her away for a few minutes.

And I sought those moments every day.

Every. Damn. Day.

~~~

“Are you going to use the bar?” The girl’s soft red hair had highlights of blonde strewn throughout. Her friendly smile didn’t threaten me or offer anything as she framed the question with absolute politeness. She’d been there before, in fact, she’d become a regular a few weeks back. I’d noticed her, but had kept my distance.

No reason to spread my pain around like chalk dust in the air.

I wiped at my forehead with the small towel I’d packed in my gym bag. My wraps covered my scars more than protected me from calluses and weak wrists. Huffing shallowly after my strenuous squatting set, I shook my head. “No, I’m done. Need help removing the plates?” My lifts weren’t light. I pushed until I could barely move afterward. Plus, I really encouraged customer service in the gym, which was easier to teach, if I set the example.

She shook her head, the length of her ponytail brushing across the collar of her workout tank. “No, I’m good, thanks.” She flashed that smile again, sweet with a hint of sass.

But it’d only been six months since my escape from life with Chelsea. I wasn’t interested. Couldn’t be bothered with the extra pain another relationship promised.

Yet… I wouldn’t lie, something about her promised to be fresh.

Chelsea had never been fresh. She’d always been bitchy. And so damn beautiful with her green eyes and dark as sin hair.

Looking away from the blue eyes of the girl in front of me, I didn’t carry the conversation further, just turned my attention back to my bag.

I’d been at the weights all morning. I’d have to go to my apartment sooner or later.

Work wouldn’t do itself. Unfortunately.

The Chelsea-free moment had been brief, hard to hold onto.

Ripping the half-gloves off my hands, I thrust their damp black material into the side pocket of my dark blue bag.

The strawberry-blonde may or may not have said something as I walked away.

But I didn’t care.

Chelsea’s eyes haunted me.

I couldn’t get away.

*** Who is the only woman Levi deserves?***

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Blog Hop!

Into the End Anti-Chili

In Into the End Rachel makes Anti-Chili while in the mountains for her kids, Joshua, and Tom.

Remember when she thinks she had poorly rationed the honey? It’s because this recipe calls for 3/4 cup of it and she doesn’t ration well. She left that to Andy.

This dish can be made with food storage items – meat from the freezer or previously canned, dried honey, and dried  peppers and onions. Fresh is the best, always, but sometimes – like in Into the End – fresh isn’t always available.

This recipe took me and my husband 8 years to get right. It’s in its simplest form but has a very rich flavor. I’d suggest dipping tortillas, rolls, french bread, or another grain in it. I don’t butter them, but the husband does. Again, it’s all about preference.

The name Anti-Chili came about because when I first made it I was striving for a real chili taste – you know, the thick, beans and meat stuff that your spoon wouldn’t dare to lie down in? Yeah, that’s the stuff. But I added a can of diced tomatoes and there went the stiffness. So this is what came out of it.

Please let me know what you think!

Into the End Anti-Chili

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef/venison/elk

1/2 chopped large white onion (yellow works as well)

1/2 chopped large green pepper

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 large can tomato juice

4 cans drained dark red kidney beans

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup honey

1/4 salt (or more to taste)

pepper

1 packet of chili seasoning or taco seasoning works too.

Directions:

In a large soup pot brown meat and rinse/drain. Add peppers and onions and chili packet. Cook until onions and peppers are opaque.

Add the rest of the ingredients, stir well. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and cover. Let simmer. Taste to make sure it’s sweet, spicy, and has enough flavor for what you’re looking for.

Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

This is what it should look like.