The worst salesperson…

Wearing my fringed seed bead earrings I made myself for Mother's Day

Wearing my fringed seed bead earrings I made myself for Mother’s Day

I’m not a good salesperson/marketer/ware hawker or whatever you want to call it. I was in the Girl Scouts when I was a little girl and I only tried once to sell cookies door to door. I quickly learned that all my other Girl Scout friends had beat me to the punch and so I stuck to selling to family and family friends. When I was a teenager I worked at Waldenbooks and employees were required to sell a certain number of discount cards every month. I never made my quota because I didn’t like being pushy in that manner. Thankfully I never had to try selling insurance at my last job because that never would have happened!

I wrote an e-book about my first trip to Boston and it’s for sale on Amazon. I promoted it vigorously for about a week before giving up on that leading anywhere beneficial. I tried selling my freelance writing services to businesses so I wouldn’t have to go through a content mill middle man but without the ability to take credit for any of my ghost writing, I have no proof of my skills. So I continue as a ghost writer and know how fortunate I am that I get paid to write, whether I can take credit or not.

I hate being a pest, plain and simple. Marketing to me feels like being a pest and after a while of posting Facebook status updates, tweeting on Twitter, linking on LinkedIn and posting to Google+, people seem to get tired of reading what I’m putting up. I know that personally I stop following people on Twitter when they post the same exact tweet about their product every 15 minutes. It’s annoying to be constantly bombarded by sales pitches.

I started selling earrings in my CorbinGirl store on Etsy a couple of weeks ago and had some great initial success…that has now died off. I’m probably not supposed to admit that, it’s probably breaking a cardinal rule of marketing but meh. I am extremely grateful to everyone who bought my creations and I received lovely positive reviews from customers who like their earrings! I’m certainly not going to stop making earrings, but I’m the worst salesperson for my own stuff. I make earrings because it makes me happy and because the ideas won’t stop. I give earrings away as gifts to whomever wants them and list on Etsy so the rest of the world can find my creations.

Close up of my earrings

Close up of my earrings

Smaller fringe earrings I made for my mom

Smaller fringe earrings I made for my mom

My main income is as a ghost writer so the jewelry is just a hobby at this point. Trying to sell jewelry in such a saturated market is no easy task and with everything else I have going on in my life, it takes a back burner sometimes. I’ll still tweet, honk, hawk, poke, etc all over social media when I make something new and I’ll continue to explore various ways of marketing my creations, but I do know that there are people out there who will get tired of hearing it and just ignore me.

Creating jewelry is meditative therapy for me, it’s an escape from the real world just like fantasy writing used to be for me before my muse took an extended sabbatical. I have faith that eventually I’ll hit things right and everything will coalesce as it should, but for now I’ll continue trying new techniques and building my jewelry inventory. No one else makes what I make because there’s only one me…heaven knows, that’s all the world can handle!

Working with My Hands

For the past several days I’ve been working on updating my Corbin Creations website and renaming my e-book series. I think I’ve finally changed the name of my series everywhere on Amazon and in the e-book but it’s possible that I missed something. The name of my e-book series has now officially been changed to New England Adventures with the first story focusing on my original trip to Boston, MA. I’ve taken several trips to New England since then and it’s now a matter of writing them out in my usual way of telling a story while imparting a bit of life-lesson wisdom.

I’m not quite done revamping my Corbin Creations website but it’s more streamlined and user-friendly than before. It’s an ongoing project as I figure out how to best utilize it to promote myself as a writer and share my love for New England. I know I’ll get it all sorted out eventually. I’d forgotten how much fun it is working on my website until I started this latest project. Rearranging certain details, incorporating photos and selecting a new layout are all fun ways of working with my hands; both physically on the keyboard and mentally by digging into the thought process. As a freelancer I’ve been to many websites that were awful to navigate and I’m trying to insure that mine doesn’t fall into that category.

I’m going to be offering my e-book “New England Adventures: Boston, MA” for free soon but you can check out the updated details now. Amazon Prime members can borrow it for free. If you read it, please review it! Good or bad, I welcome the feedback.

Truth in Advertising

In the back seat of my Matrix on the way to Boston in November, 2012

In the back seat of my Matrix on the way to Boston in November, 2012

I am not a natural redhead. This is made evident by my dark brown eyebrows and dark roots that grow in every 2-3 weeks. Most of the time I’m more like a calico cat, with my hair a mixture of the last several colors I’ve dyed it. Some colors grab better than others and some fade so there’s always a unique mixture of red, brown and currently, burgundy dancing through my tresses. I color my hair myself because my indecisiveness would be a rather expensive salon habit.

I don’t like to go along with the crowd, never have. My family moved from the country into a rather large suburban school district when I was 13. It was a huge adjustment for a shy, semi-reclusive girl like myself. One of my first days in school a gaggle of popular girls bounced over to where I was sitting in the cafeteria and asked me if I liked New Kids on the Block. I said no and their perfect little noses wrinkled in disdain while their doe-eyes widened in surprise. From that day on I was an outsider.

In high school I was called a witch because I liked reading fantasy novels and wearing dragon-themed jewelry now and then. I was never impressed by boys teasing me or rough housing near me in an attempt to flirt with and impress me. That’s how I earned the “rhymes with witch” moniker. I was happy when high school ended and I saw almost none of those people ever again.

I’m genuine, the real deal, a no-nonsense chick who says what’s on her mind. Quite often my bluntness and sarcasm catch people off guard. I am also a nice girl who was raised with manners and has never forgotten them. When I say please and thank you, I mean it.

I shall reiterate what I said in Writing Every Word. When I post something, whether it’s a Tweet, Facebook status or DM, I’ve taken the time to write it out. I don’t auto-follow or auto-unfollow, I take the time to click on the appropriate buttons. My standard “Thanks for the follow! I followed back :)” is always typed out in that moment and I try to hashtag something relevant to the new follower.

Now that I have a published e-book on Nook and Kindle, I’ve entered the fun world of marketing my story. I read tweets all day long of other authors advertising their books and my goal is to stand out from the crowd. I’m sure that’s every author’s goal. I will schedule tweets but they won’t be the same thing over and over. I won’t be paying anyone to help me advertise because no matter how much they promise to speak in my personal voice, they can’t. There’s only one me. I’m a paid ghost writer as a side job, I’m not about to pay someone else to ghost write for me.

A book teaser I'm working on

A book teaser I’m working on

One more thing: my tweets and posts will never be only about my book or my blog. Last night’s tweets were mostly about the Boston Bruins playing in The Stanley Cup Finals. I’m a human, not a robot and I don’t exist solely to promote my work. I exist to interact, be social and discuss all sorts of topics, not just writing. Perhaps this goes against tons of marketing “rules” but rules and I don’t get along sometimes. The occasional fiery redness of my hair might come from a bottle, but the fire and feistiness within me is 100% natural!

My Boston Story E-book Launches Tomorrow!

View of Boston skyline from Long Wharf. I used this photo as part of my cover.

View of Boston skyline from Long Wharf. I used this photo as part of my cover.

I’ve been working late hours at my computer all week getting my Boston story formatted for Nook and Kindle. It’s been a fun process but more time-consuming than I expected. The only way to learn is by doing though so I’m glad I’m finally doing!

It’s quite lovely that both Nook and Kindle allow fast and easy changes to a story once it’s been uploaded. I’ve re-uploaded and modified my Nook version more times than I can count because every time I preview it I see some little thing that could be improved. I don’t promise that my Boston story e-book will be the greatest work of literary non-fiction ever written or that the visual appeal of it will knock your socks off, but I do promise that it will be 100% me.

This story is the first in an ongoing series detailing my adventures in the beautiful state of Massachusetts. I visit there at least twice a year and will be increasing those visits until I finally at long last live there. Every time I drive into that New England state I feel like I’m coming home again and I can almost hear it saying “Oh boy, here’s that crazy New Yorker again! Wonder where she’ll get lost this time!”

Two of the hardest parts of the whole e-book were writing my author biography and the synopsis of the story. Once they were complete I ran them by my best girlfriends and they said the biography described me perfectly. They should know since they’ve been my friends through thick and thin. I still think the synopsis is a bit wordy so I might be editing that more before I’m completely satisfied.

My e-book officially launches tomorrow on Father’s Day and I know that no matter what happens, my father’s spirit is very proud of me. Sharing this story is both frightening and exciting to me because it is my own personal experience, but it’s definitely at tale that must be told!

Here’s my author biography, enjoy!

Born with a boisterous and adventurous spirit, JulieAnn didn’t fully explore her potential until she set out on her first solo road trip to Boston in November of 2011. Her life was forever changed by that first Massachusetts adventure and her eyes were opened to a fresh future of possibilities.

When she’s not busy being a single mother, homeowner, writer, painter, pack leader-in-training, hopeful gardener and baker extraordinaire, JulieAnn enjoys sleeping–because balancing all that is exhausting! Fantasy manuscripts, scribbled in cursive pencil upon the pages of college-ruled spiral notebooks were JulieAnn’s first venture into the world of writing. In recent years she’s found her own personal voice and shares her daily adventures with others via her blogs, one of which she transformed into her first e-book.

For fun, JulieAnn enjoys playing with her daughters, walking her pup Jazzmin’s paws off, grilling with excessively high flames, singing odd bits of random show tunes and getting lost driving around the Northeast United States. You’ll often find her where you least expect, doing something so uniquely quirky you’ll roll your eyes.

A Shattered Evening

I HAD to mow my lawn yesterday afternoon. The grass was up to Jazzmin’s belly, almost long enough to make tiny, adorable bales and I had several varieties of mushrooms popping up all over the place from the wet weather. Yesterday it finally stopped raining and it was supposed to be sunny for the entire day. The way this spring has been going, that’s not a window of opportunity I could afford to miss. As it turned out, I had some fortunate and unfortunate luck with windows yesterday.

I checked the gas tank in my mower and saw that I had enough to do the back yard. I decided I’d get started and then go into town for more gas when I finished that largest section of the lawn. It was a lovely, sunny afternoon so I sprayed on my sunblock, popped in my ear buds, donned my big, clunky, noise-dampening ear muffs and cranked my mower up to set to work.

My lawn looked less like the field finally!

My lawn looked less like the field finally!

I put Jazz out on her lead by the swing set so she could get fresh air and be in the shade safely away from where I was mowing. She of course chose to lay in the full sun and ignore the shade. I glanced over toward where Jazz was every time I went by that way and she was either laying down in the sun or sniffing around. I was about halfway done with the back yard when I looked over at her and saw her sniffing around in the driveway. That confused me because her lead doesn’t reach that far. Then it clicked. She’d gotten off the lead! I stopped the mower as calmly as possible, turned off the blades and turned it around toward the shed and called Jazzmin cheerfully over. She followed me to the shed and I grabbed her collar before she realized she wasn’t on any sort of leash.

I decided it was the ideal time to drive into town for more gas. With Jazz in one hand and the gas tank in the other, I walked to the car, happy to be off the mower for a while. Jazz hopped into the front seat and I loaded the empty tank in the back and off we went on the five-minute drive into town. It was 75 out so I had the AC cranked and Jazzmin took great pleasure sniffing and snotting up the air vents. She loves riding in the car and looked around at the passing scenery.

Jazzmin ready to go!

Jazzmin ready to go!

I filled up the mower gas can and my own car at the cheapest station in town (which had a line out to the road) and made the quick drive back home. I put Jazzmin in the house so she could stay cool and out of trouble and then resumed mowing. It took me another hour and a half to finish mowing and I was extremely happy and relieved when I was done! No more tall grass, no more mushrooms, no more caring that it was going to rain for the next several days.

The local farmer was baling the large field behind my house and I took a few pictures while mowing and afterward. As I set my lawn furniture back in the grass and out of the driveway, I considered relaxing in a chair for a bit to watch the farming demonstration.

The farmer windrowing the hay

The farmer windrowing the hay

The baling machine at work

The baling machine at work

Gathering up the large bales

Gathering up the large bales

I saw something odd out of the corner of my eye and turned toward my car in confusion. Something wasn’t quite right about the passenger side window. I took a step closer and my mouth dropped open. There was a large hole in the window and the remaining safety glass was shattered in place. I groaned at my own stupidity. I’d mowed with the shoot toward my car and a stone had flown up and hit the window. I know better! I emitted a long slow swear word and sighed heavily. The damage was done and getting angry about it wasn’t going to change anything.

Large hole in my window and remnants of glass

Large hole in my window and remnants of glass

Shaking my head, I grabbed my leather gloves from the shed and started picking the glass out of the window and front passenger seat. There were tiny pieces of broken safety glass everywhere and the remains of the window collapsed the moment I touched it, sending several pieces of glass into my boots. Deciding it was as good as it was going to get for a while, I went inside and showered. Before full dark I ventured out with a clear garbage bag and duct tape and created a makeshift window to keep the bugs and forecasted rain out.

Thankfully I have full glass coverage on my auto insurance so I called in the claim and scheduled the window replacement for the following day. That drama dealt with, I turned on the Stanley Cup Playoffs hockey game to root for the Boston Bruins against the Chicago Blackhawks. With the game on in the background, I set to work redesigning my Boston story ebook cover and tried my best to leave the shattered evening behind me.

Good Intentions Matter

Walking with Jazzmin and my daughters rather than writing

Walking with Jazzmin and my daughters rather than writing

Good intentions matter. Even if you don’t get done what you intended to do, having the intention of doing it matters. Now if all you do is have good intentions while never following through on any of them, they lose their importance. It’s about finding balance even when you’re walking on a wobbly beam that spans the length of a piranha-filled river. Not easy but definitely possible.

My intention yesterday was to write about how Jazzmin and Owl learned to get along. It would have been the conclusion of my previous two blogs that featured each of their stories. Obviously that blog entry didn’t happen yesterday and it won’t be happening today either. It’s a cute story but it can wait. I decided to work on my upcoming ebook and spend time with my family yesterday instead. I don’t regret that decision and my good intentions just went a different direction.

I’m sure numerous people reading this have already formatted and published an ebook or two so they know everything involved. I didn’t realize all the steps of the process until I seriously committed myself to doing it early last week. My ebook is the story about my first visit to Boston, Massachusetts in November of 2011. I love the story because I lived it and when I posted it as a blog a while back, it was well-received. Turning it into a book was quite another undertaking though.

I’m awful at editing my own writing. I don’t have the perfect grasp of grammar and I get so swept up in the story that I forget I’m supposed to be editing and proofreading. I realized last week that I needed help editing it. I’d just finished reading A Little Slice of Heaven by Gina Ardito and when I went to her website to see what else she’s written, I saw she does editing too. I shot her a quick email, learned she had a short window of availability to edit my story, took a deep breath and jumped. I sent her my 7012 word story and crossed my fingers.

When I received my edited story back from Gina a couple days later, it read even better than before and I was so happy! It was the boost to my self-confidence that I needed and I was even more determined to get my story out there. I highly recommend Gina Ardito as an editor and will definitely be using her again! I’m also reading another one of her books because that first one I read put the wind back in my romantic sails as it were. I even reviewed it on Amazon.

I spent the next few days after that formatting my story for Nook in the free time I had when I wasn’t working my day job, caring for my daughters, keeping up a house and writing freelance articles. I really need more hours in a day! While I know perfection is impossible, I don’t want to do a shoddy job of formatting my book so the details matter to me. I realized I can either rush just to get my book out there or I can slow down a bit and choose a date to publish it.

I decided I’d aim for this Sunday, Father’s Day, in honor and memory of my father. After all, he was with me in spirit as I explored (and became lost in) Boston that fateful November day, it only makes sense that I acknowledge his unending support. These are good intentions I know I will follow through on. It’s a goal I’ve set for myself and a long overdue realization of a dream. I don’t expect my short story to change the world but I do hope my words touch people and inspire them to explore this amazing journey called life.

Dawn of Allies – Fantasy Book Excerpt

Hands of Magic Series by JulieAnn Corbin

Book 1 – Dawn of Allies

Chapter One

A Mother’s Wish

“There are those immune to your magic, Son.  You haven’t encountered them yet, but you will.  If by some rare chance one of them is a pretty young woman, then you will have met your match.”

The remnants of those words were constantly running through the mind of the man named Brenderin Waylen.  Though the person who had spoken them was someone he loved more dearly than himself, their consequences never failed to anger him.  The speaker had been his mother, Brialla.  He could still see her fair hair shining in the afternoon sun as she stretched her lean body over his bed, her hands tucking in freshly washed sheets. The sheets had smelled so strongly of the sweet soap she had used it still made his nose itch.

He had been bragging about his latest trespasses into the thoughts of schoolmates and the advantage it gave him in class-for he had always found his mother far more understanding than his strict father-and her response had been those cautionary words about the limits of his magic.  That warning and her subsequent light-hearted conclusion about the proper girl for him, had begun to change the course of his destiny years before her sorrowful death.  Bren had tried to comfort himself with the knowledge that “a pretty young woman” immune to his magical ability to read thoughts could not possibly exist.  In his eighteen years of life he still had yet to meet anyone resistant to his power, despite searching his entire home continent of Kran and its neighboring lands.  Nevertheless, he knew better than to doubt the plans his mother had laid for him with her subtle yet powerful magic.

It had been eight years since his mother’s death from illness and in that time he had grown progressively resentful toward his father, Dyrk Waylen, feeling that the man should have been able to save her.  Dyrk was the town healer and Bren’s belief that the man could work miracles had been shattered by Brialla’s passing.  The shared loss had created a rift between father and son, and Bren had been spending less time home each passing year.  With the distance between himself and what remained of his family, he had started to believe that he had escaped his mother’s idea of a proper destiny.  Life had seemed within the control of his own hands for so long that he was more than a little irritated when his apparent mastery of fate swiftly fled from him.

He had begun to feel the overdue shift in his existence almost a week ago and while he stood on the edge of a small familiar town called Bordres, he frowned.  A change in the wind chilled the air and stirred his long brown leather coat about his legs.   Leaning forward against the wooden staff he used as both weapon and walking stick, a sigh escaped him.  Time was pressing ever heavier upon him, for the north wind promised something much more unwelcome than snow.  His predetermined path loomed and its chill was colder than anything nature could create.

Bren had visited this particular town more times than he could count, but he knew somehow that this visit would not end as it usually did.  Though he had not yet met the girl his mother had suggested for him, there were few pretty young ladies who could resist the allure of his six-foot height, long brown hair, mahogany skin, handsome features and the shadows lurking around his dark eyes.  He never promised more than he was willing to give.  If the girls wanted to toy with the tresses he kept mostly tied back at the nape of his neck or peer into his face trying to discern the color of his eyes, he let them and invited them to further explore whatever else might please them.  In the end, the darkness claimed the man and his lovers without regrets, but he felt that this trip would not conclude nearly as pleasantly if his mother’s magical meddling had its way.

Why must it be a north wind?  The only thing that lay north of his present location were the snow covered mountains of Corlan, the iciest region on the continent of Kran, and within them was only one small settlement that shared the name of the range.  It was a place for those who sought solitude and isolation from the rest of the world and often where they died alone and recluse.  For a man with his magic it could have been ideal for Bren, but the bitter temperatures and constant winter sounded far more intolerable than enduring the petty thoughts of everyone he encountered.  He did not need to hide in a nearly uninhabitable range of mountains. He had perfected the sad art of concealing his soul within walls stronger than any tower of earth.  As held true for Bren’s heart, little escaped Corlan, and he knew that the arrival of its icy air was an ill omen indeed.

 ***

The wagon piled with straw rolled away and Larc leaned heavily against one of the low trees, barely noticing the slight breeze that stirred the short brown hair atop her head.  She focused her ice-blue eyes on the poorly made wooden sign before her and could just barely make out the words “Town of Bordres.”  If the sign was any indication of the condition of the town, it held little appeal.  She could just turn away from the town and keep walking down the dusty road in search of her true destination of Tranquil, but she had eaten all of the food she had packed and did not relish the idea of sleeping on the hard ground.  Remembering the coins in the pouch at her waist, she wondered if the town might have an inn with a soft bed where she could spend the night.  She decided to enter and hoped she would not later regret the idea.

Larc’s short height worked to her advantage as she made her way along the street, dodging swiftly around the clumps of people and animals.  She would occasionally peek into open doors or touch the wares the street vendors were shouting so loudly about.  People eyed her diminutive stature and lean build with disdain and frowned at her oversized gray tunic, trousers and boots.  She tried to ignore them, having little concern for what strangers thought of her.

Residents of her former home settlement all lived in small one-level cabins, but this town was almost totally filled with two-story homes and shops.  She wondered why the people needed so much space to live in.  Though she had known that streets in towns outside of her mountain home were more than packed snow, walking on such hard pathways was a new experience to her.  The stones were more abusive than snow and her feet were already sore from even that small amount of walking.  The hard material made every movement louder, horseshoe steps seemed to echo forever and the street amplified the surprising morning bustle of the town.

The noise level made her ears hurt and she was soon forced to dodge into a small alley where the clamor was not quite so overwhelming.  Leaning against the wall as her travel pack, short bow and quiver of arrows pressed into her back, Larc took in a deep breath.  She regretted that action when a strange stench reached her nose. Grimacing, she stood straight and gazed down the debris-filled back street to see a one-story building built behind the two shops that formed the alley.  There seemed to be only men going in and out of the structure and it did not have much light coming from it.  As hard as she stared, she could not discern what the place was.  It was not as neatly built as the rest of the town.  The windows were so dirty she could not see in at all and the only appeal it held was the lack of noise coming from within.  Yet something was definitely drawing her toward it.  Deciding anything was better than facing that street again, she approached the building.

As Larc neared the structure, she began to hear the sounds of low voices talking in hushed tones and the noise of glass hitting glass.  Gripping the straps of her travel pack, she slowed her pace and tried to peer through the heavy door whenever someone went in or out.  When that did her no good, she swiftly stepped through the door behind a man as he entered.  Once inside, she hid off to the side next to the door and gazed around her only to discover to her dismay that the unusual stench had been coming from this building.

Larc’s immediate instinct was to flee but that odd pull within her remained and she stayed where she was to take in her surroundings.  There were lamps hanging on the wall but they were too few in number to do much to light the large room within.  To the right of the entrance there was a long high table with a man standing behind it giving the patrons glasses of some dark liquid.  Smoke filled the air from men using pipes and the din of low conversations seemed to rumble through her head.  Unexplainable gut feeling or not, she began to think that perhaps this building was not the best place for her.

***

Sensing more than hearing the double doors of the tavern open, Bren raised his dark eyes from where they’d been glaring into the drink in his hand. He’d chosen a seat by the large hearth at the back of the building to avoid notice.  Craning his neck up slightly to see over the crowded tables, he frowned as a waif of a person entered the tavern.  The child’s short hair and skinny figure might have fooled most into believing that it was a boy, but as Bren was more perceptive than nearly everyone on Aindar, he knew the truth.  The new arrival was a young woman older than the child she appeared to be, yet still too young to suit his tastes.  Stretching his leather-booted feet up onto the table before him, Bren sat back and waited for the inevitable drama of this stranger’s appearance to unfold.