Communications

The Magical World of Commerce

I wouldn’t say I’m burnt out by writing; far from it. If anything, I have more drive than ever to get back into book 2 since I completely redid the entire damn plot. The problem is I have other responsibilities. I have work, book club, cleaning the house, taking care of the pets, laundry, beta reading, and a brand new John Connolly book which is definitely calling out to me.

So, yeah, I’ve got some stuff I have to do. I’m a little busy. And because I get easily distracted I have made a point of not obsessively checking the stats on my KDP page for the ebook versions of Between Fire and Pines (hello, buy me on ebook here!).  I logged in every hour in May. In June I checked every other hour. In July I did it maybe three times a week. Now we’re into August and I hadn’t even considered checking how sales had done until someone on Critique Circle asked me how many I had sold.

I honestly had no idea. Twenty maybe in hardcopy online? Another ten as ebooks? Who knows. I’m not Wonder Woman!

The usual process goes something like this: I post on Twitter and Facebook several days in a row, I see a couple ebook sales. That is how it works. Very simple. But I haven’t been marketing in the slightest. I’ve been bored with marketing, more keen on getting off my ass and writing some excellent explosions (I am a one-trick pony and the pony is EXPLOOOOSIONS.) I get bored of waving pictures of my book in people’s faces, crying “Here! Look at this! Buy me!” Which is ironic given that the first piece of advice I gave to Amber about social media work was ensuring that you stick to a schedule that your fans can rely on.

Ha, Doctor, heal thyself. Or in this case, Communication Professional, listen to your own damn advice.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I go onto the KDP and see that between the end of July and August I sold some ebooks! I wasn’t trying. I have no idea how that happened! I’m fairly certain everyone I know has bought a copy, so it certainly can’t be friends or family. Are… are random strangers buying my book? Did some random person with no emotional investment in the time I have spent on this project actually purchase my book?

What the hell? Is that even possible? Is that allowed? Are people allowed to buy books when they don’t know the author? I mean, maybe they are, maybe they aren’t! I have no idea given that I am new to this particular club and have only just recently sacrificed the necessary woodland creatures to Baphomet to summon the powers of creativity.

Being an author can be confusing at times.

Of course, realizing that yes, random strangers can and just may buy copies of my book, whether through bribery or blackmail, has forced me to realize that yes, I ought to get back into marketing and, hey! Maybe if you stick to a schedule, things will actually turn out for the best!

And if not there is always another sacrifice to the glorious leader, Baphomet.

The Code Book One: Between Fire and Pines is available on Amazons everywhere!

Header image by Eliphas Lévi (1810-1875) – Scan aus: Hans Biedermann –- Dämonen, Geister, dunkle Götter, Graz: Leopold Stocker Verlag 1989, Lizenz für Gondrom Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Bindlach 1993 S. 45 ISBN 3-8112-1008-4, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5947736

 

 

Between Fire and Pines Update and Other Such Stuff

Between Fire and Pines has been out for just under a month n0w, and what a month it has been. At the insistence of one of my managers our store is now stocking numerous copies. I also have my first author signing planned for June 25th. I’ve sold 15 copies in-store, another 15 hardcopies online, and roughly 10 ebooks. So either somewhere out there 40 people are about to start demanding their money back or I’ve just ruined my reputation in the eyes of these 40 individuals.

But through all that, one thing has remained consistent. The feedback has been the same.

I couldn’t put it down. It just kept moving.

I call that a win. From the manager who definitely doesn’t read gore-suspense-thriller to the friend who offered the single review on Amazon, they just had to keep reading.

Now somehow book club has learned of it, and I can never go back to book club. Too bad. It was fun while it lasted.

I’ve paid for a small amount of marketing, which didn’t result in any sales; lowered ebook prices to extreme measures, which did result in sales; stared in bewilderment at the hardcopy of my novel, realizing I can never rewrite it again.

 

And that was when I hit the brick wall. Both metaphorically and literally because I wasn’t watching where I was going. It was bound to happen. I’ve heard people say it time and time again. When you finish that first book you experience this sort of atmospheric burn-out, probably from sheer bewilderment that it could possibly be done and in print. This is a problem because I have 8 more books I need to write, and yes, for those of you wondering, I do have enough ideas for all 8 books. This may be my first rodeo, but I have been training with this horse for thirteen years. Yeah, how do you like them metaphors?

So I hit the wall, and then the wall resulted in a strange mental stress which, perhaps unexpectedly, resulted in an intense, holy-shit sort of physical stress that, for the last week, has made my body just… just awful. Cranky, bitchy, chronic painy awful. Screw you, chronic pain. You’re such a dick.

We got a dog this week as well. Alex’s compensation for canceling the trip to Japan. Her name is Whiskey. She is an 8 year-old shepherd mix and she is derpy as hell.

Stress after stress. There was an article in CBC about Prince’s Fentanyl overdose. They spoke to several doctors who stressed the challenges of dealing with chronic pain patients. They did not speak to any patients themselves though, because… reasons, I suppose. It irked me. Not because what they were saying was wrong. I imagine it must be difficult to deal with chronic pain patients. I agree, opiates are over-prescribed. But if you are going to talk about chronic pain, perhaps CBC readers would benefit from actually hearing from someone who suffers from it.

It upset me, to hear that the conversations were difficult for doctors with no concept of how much of a challenge it is for patients to come to doctors, with all their fears and flaws exposed, and say “I need help.” Then to top it all off be told that, “Hey, it’s as much psychological maintenance as it is the physical pain. There is no magic cure.” You can’t just throw that at someone who is looking at pain for the rest of their life. At least ease them into it, jeez.

Where was I? Oh yes, stress led to pain and pain did a number on my creative juices, and it’s only after a couple days of writing notes by hand that I really feel like I can accomplish something again. Book 2. Because book 1 is finished and out of my hands. Nope. Still surreal. I’m probably 2/3rds of the way through the draft. Plenty of explosions and emotional highs and lows. Less gore though. I needed to tone that back. The ending will be more succinct, and Natalia’s growth as a character will be clear. At least, it will be if you’ve read the first book, which you can buy from any of these fine establishments:

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Directly from CreateSpace (So I get more moneys)

You can also check it out on Goodsreads, unless you are in book club. If you are in book club, please forget everything.

 

 

Between Fire and Pines Release Date Announcement (and other such tripe)

You know what I like about May? It is a fun month. It is about as springy as we can expect here in Calgary, given that June is generally nonstop rain. That means May is the month of warm breezes and sprouting pants. We eagerly anticipate the sight of crocuses peering out of the dirt. We wake up to the sound of robins, returning after the seemingly unending winter.

Now, this May, we may also look forward to goddamned explosions, some badass gunfire, and one racial slur which I was very uncertain about including.

Because, ladies an gentleman, Book One of The Code series, Between Fire and Pines, will be released officially on May 30th, 2016.

It has an ISBN number. It has been formatted. A cover is being made as we speak. Two lovely friends of mine are working on postcards and a t-shirt design respectively (which will be available for purchase from somewhere at some point once I learn stuff and things.) Physical copies may even be available from the bookstore where I work, depending on how my bosses feel about it.

It’s been a strange, elaborate journey. There have been so many ups and downs and misadventures along the way. As I’ve grown so have the characters, which is perhaps why only now does it feel right to be publishing it. And despite all that, it still hasn’t hit me. Maybe it’s because I’m dead inside. I’m not sure. All I know is that come hell or high water, I will be publishing a book on May 30th, and that’s kind of cool.

An Open Letter to the City of Calgary and its Council Members: “As your new Integrity Commissioner…”

Dear City of Calgary and Calgary Council Members,

Greetings and good day! My name is Kathleen Sawisky and I am your new Integrity Commissioner. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Integrity Commissioner? We only voted to get one yesterday!” and “I don’t see your resume anywhere” and “Please stop calling us with complaints about your neighbour’s choice in music.” But you see, I’m doing you a favor here, folks. I’m not saying any one councilmember is so blitzed out of their mind that they lack the capacity to make any decision about who is hired for the job or what qualifications they should have, but if that were the case it would clearly be in your best interest to simply accept that I am the best possible candidate and allow me to start work as soon as possible.

Of course I may not seem the most qualified given, as I write this, I am only just about to graduate with my Bachelor’s Degree in Communication. I am only 25, and thus your preconceived biases about people my age might suggest that I am more likely to encourage a lack of integrity than monitor the integrity of others for particular shortcomings. I assure you that is not the case. Why, only last year I was nominated for Sainthood by Bono. My greatest flaw as a human being is that I am simply too loving. And also that I am a serial liar (accusations which have not been confirmed in a court of law and therefore hold no validity as far as I am concerned.)

Nonetheless, I trust the hiring committee will easily accept my appointment as Integrity Commissioner. I guarantee in this position I will bring about a new age of ethical and moral standards within Calgary City Hall. My wrath will know no equal, and my comedic antics will ease any awkward conversations with those ‘problem drinkers’ that will undoubtedly need to be dealt with.

For the record, integrity is defined by Google as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness”. Ah yes, moral uprightness. Well, just another reason I am going to make a fabulous Integrity Commissioner. I am full of uprightedness thanks to my surgical-steel reinforced spine! The moral part might be a bit sketchy, but you know, once we really get down to definitions I’m sure we can find a concept of ‘morality’ that we’re all happy with!

As your new Integrity Commissioner, I have created the following handy list for Council Members to look over. If you answer yes to any of the following questions then you need to make an appointment with my assistant to meet with me at the earliest possible convenience. Also, where do I get my assistant? Is there a closet where we keep them next to the staplers or… Never mind, I’ll just ask Nenshi.

  1. Do you frequently black out only to wake up hours later with no memory of what happened?
    1. Follow up: When you wake up are you covered in blood and/or human feces?
  2. Do you find the only way you are able to get through a single one of your monotonous days is by imbibing in at least one sip of that sweet, sweet, fermented liquor?
  3. Do you read The Sun frequently?
    1. Follow up: If yes, do you need a stiff drink before you can read it?
  4. Do you drink alone?
    1. Follow up: Do you believe you are not drinking alone if you pour yourself two drinks at once?
  5. Have you, at any point in time, ever had sex with a random stranger in a Taco Bell parking lot?
  6. Do you make excuses for your drinking, such as:
    1. “Mankind has been drinking fermented beverages for over ten thousand years. What harm could one more drink do to me?”
    2. “I have to talk to Ezra Levant today.”
    3. “I am so very lonely.”
    4. “If I’m the only one not drinking then I will have to be DD for the Councilman from Ward 3, and I just hate Ward 3.”
  7. Is every special occasion an excuse to drink?
    1. Tax season? Drink!
    2. Arbour Day! Take a drink!
    3. Didn’t run over that homeless guy in my drunken stupor last night! Have another drink!
    4. Somebody sneezed? Kegger!
  8. Is your family concerned about your drinking?
    1. Follow up: Do you even still have a family, man?
  9. Do you find Axe Body Spray is the only effective way to mask that strange smell that seems to be coming from your pores?
  10. Do the workers at the bottle depot know you by name?
    1. Follow up: Are you going over to their home for the holidays because your family left you?
  11. Are you are the Scouts favourite home on the block?
  12. No pants Friday? No pants every day!

I believe this list incorporates a wide enough range of issues for any member of City Council suffering from extreme alcoholism, or even slight alcoholism. Basically, basically anyone who is drinking when they shouldn’t be.

Of course, there is always the question about when the members of City Council are not on the clock. I’ve created a handy reference list for them to glance at should they find someone trying to ply them with booze.

  1. Is it between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.?
    1. If yes, do not drink.
  2. Are you home?
    1. If yes, you can have a damn drink.

You see, by simplifying the question of When is it appropriate to drink? To When do other people who don’t work in City Council drink? We are able to more successfully identify when drinking should occur.

What I’m getting at folks is that you’re just a damn City Council, not a leader of a major western civilization. If the guy working at DQ can’t drink during his working hours, neither should you.

Now, I understand this might be difficult for some of you to hear. “But we were voted in!” you might protest. “We are politicians! We earned the right to have a drink or two in between our meetings!” My response to you is very simple: “No, you don’t. Stop being an immature tit about it and get back to work, you lazy dumb-dumbs.”

I understand as the Integrity Commissioner I should not resort to name calling, but the fact of the matter is that I was hired (?), not for my cheery disposition, but for my ability to destroy those who stand in my way in my rise to power. Actually, I’m not sure why I was hired (?), all I know is that I am clearly the most qualified person for this position, and you won’t regret your decision (?) to hire me. (?)

I look forward to getting to know each and every one of you as I brutally cut down your ego and berate you for wasting our time. Now if you’ll excuse me, it is time for my 9:06 a.m. brandy and cigar.

Most Sincerely,

Kathleen Sawisky, esq.

Integrity Commissioner

An Open Letter to Stephen Colbert: “Thanks for the laughs”

Sometimes I like to write open letters to people or things that bring me joy in the pitiless world in which I inhabit. My new husband says I am dramatic and ‘over react’ but I just tell him to turn off the lights and leave me to wallow in my despair. This is one of these letters. Not the despair part. The Open Letter part.

Dear Mr. Colbert,

I had intended in crafting this perfect piece of prose prior to your public parting from The Colbert Report, but then it occurred to me that a) I really didn’t know what to say, and b) I hate alliterations so very much. So here we are, just over a month or so since your cultural phenomenon has ceased and desisted, and my world is a lonely, lonely place.

(more…)

An Open Letter to the Producers of CBC’s Q – “Hire me.”

As a soon-to-be graduated Communications student, I am constantly on the lookout for potential employment opportunities. Given last weeks quick dismissal of Jian Ghomeshi from the CBC, I thought it prudent to get my hat into the ring for his job as soon as possible. As always, I do it in the form of an open letter.

 

Dear Producers of CBC’s Radio Talk Show Q,

It’s been a rough week for you folks over there in radio land. With Ghomeshi’s apparent evolution into a sexually promiscuous Mewtwo (who, I assume, is now being utilized by Team Rocket for nefarious purposes), the future of Q as Canada’s go-to radio show is in jeopardy. But never fear, Producers of Q, because I am here to make you the offer of a lifetime.

I can replace Ghomeshichu as the host of Q. I know, I know, a nobody Communications student from Calgary. What could she possibly offer the people of Canada as far as a moderate radio host personality goes? How could she possibly achieve Ghomeshisaur like stardom, thus ensuring the longevity of radio broadcasting and our beloved National Public Broadcaster? Well, let me tell you something, Producers of Q. I am your woman, and I aim to prove it to you.

First off, I have experience on the radio. I was recently on CBC Radio 1 to discuss Misogyny in gaming with David Gray. It was a brilliant experience, and I didn’t swear once. I nearly said tits, but managed to catch myself at the last moment. This self-censoring is clearly integral in a quality radio host. If you hire me to be the new host of Q I can guarantee that your listeners will never hear the phrases boner farts, quiche mongerer, or Senior-Poop-For-Brains come out of my mouth. I cannot, however, guarantee that I won’t refer to people I dislike as a dumb-dumb. It may seem pedantic and elementary, but I guarantee that when I say it, it has a certain endearing quality.

Secondly, I will provide my own lumbar pillow. We all know that radio work means a lot of sitting, and the best way to avoid workplace injuries and those nasty worker’s comp forms is to ensure comfort and health for everyone involved. You won’t have to worry about me going on medical leave for lower back stress, no sirree. With that in mind, you should probably take a moment to educate yourself with this particular post.

Speaking of things I’ve written before, my own particular brand of off humor, satire, and moderate beliefs makes me the perfect individual to provide unique insight into the daily lives of Canadians. Let’s face it, when we try to make a top five list of Things That Define Canada, sense of humor usually falls around #3 or #4. I am the embodiment of Canadian humor.

But an endearing personality and rip-roaring sense of Canadianness is not the only thing required to be successful on CBC radio. Let’s take a look at the last five songs on my randomized playlist:

Alright by Pilot Speed

Your Ex-Lover is Dead by Stars

Cicadas and Gulls by Feist

Okay, wait before I go on, this is a fluke. I actually have a huge array of music and I certainly didn’t intend for them to all be Canadian. Hold on, let me randomize it again.

Samba by Ludovico Einaudi

There we go, modern piano. See, eclectic! And behind door number 5….

The Lion’s Roar by First Aid Kit

I’m also a fan of Tom Waits and Hawksley Workman. Basically, basically what I’m getting at is that I’ll listen to anything. I’m a music nerd.

For all these reasons and more I would be an excellent radio host. But what about how I interact with other people? What sort of co-worker would I be to those who have ensured the survival of Q for so long?

Will I eat an entire bowl of garlicy hummus before interviewing the Governor General? Never.

Would I eat Susan’s gluten-free lunch that she brought specially from home because cutting gluten from her diet makes her feel so good? Of course not!

Will I have to be cornered by the secretary before I unwillingly sign the birthday card for inter, whose name I never actually learned? Naw.

Will I bring shame to CBC on an international scale, providing endless amounts of scandal for the hawks at The Star to sink their teeth into while drawing attention to the outrageous treatment I have delivered to the opposite gender? It’s highly unlikely.

Will I take part in wacky shirt Friday? Always.

Will I sue the CBC? Heck no, my Canadian Media and Culture class taught me the value of our National Broadcaster. I appreciate you, CBC. You and I, we have a long history of getting along together.

I understand we’re all still reeling from the loss of our starter pokemon, Ghomeshitoise, but much like brilliant Eevee, Q must go through an evolution in order to maximize its potential in the next stages of the game. Trust me, CBC – I am just the Communication Stone you need for the job.

With much sincerity (and a bit of hilarity),

Kathleen Sawisky, Esq.