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Cancer Slayer: Post Script

Yesterday I had surgery to remove the medi-port that was installed a year ago ahead of chemo. Since then I’ve had six rounds of chemo, multiple echocardiograms, 11 infusions of Herceptin, a lumpectomy and lymphnode takey-outy, 30 sessions of radiation, a bone density test, I don’t remember how many MRIs and blood tests and zillions of pills. But with the removal of the medi-port, I’m officially done. My surgeon Dr Superman says it’s his favorite surgery because it’s symbolic. I won’t need any more chemo because I’m going to be okay.

So, I wanted to give an update from the winner’s circle. I feel like the “finish line” was my last dose of Herceptin and this is just the clean-up, the victory lap.

My hair is growing back thick and curly (just like it was before it all came out). Unfortunately with curly hair, it tends to get WIDE before it gets long. So I’m sporting a look that’s a little bit Will Ferrell, a bit Bozo, and a helping of Madam Hooch. Ma'am_Hooch

My eyebrows are filling in a little bit, but they still need an assist from an eyebrow pencil, which I had never in my life needed to use being from the Brooke Shields brow club.

My eyelashes are another story. So pathetic. I religiously applied RevitaLash every night and little stubs began to grow…but SO slowly. The few lashes that hadn’t fallen out in the last round of chemo were thin and twisted little bastards. Attempts at mascara just emphasized the sorry situation and made it look as though spiders had crawled onto my eyelids to perish. SO, I got eyelash extensions. I really did. I lay down for two hours (and 200 dollars) while a lady used surgical glue to attach fake individual lashes to my spider legs and lash stubs. And guess what? I LOVE THEM. Worth every damn penny because I feel like a girl again. A healthy, non-cancery female woman. So there. Is it petty and vain? You bet your ass, and I’m going back to do it again in two weeks.

My medication is down to a once-daily aromatase inhibitor. Remember how I said there were no side-effects? Well, once enough built up in my system, I did start to experience some of the common ones, specifically joint pain and this numbness and stiffness in my hands. It’s annoying. It’s as if all of a sudden my body is eighty years old. I move like your grandma when she gets up from the couch to get you another cookie. A lot of pausing and strained smiles. It sucks but it’s better than the cancer coming back, am I right, folks?

Speaking of the potential return of He Who Shall Not Be Named…angy turdy tumor

…I have calmed down so much and am starting to acclimate myself to being cancer-free. It took a lot longer than I’d have thought, but I’m pleased to report I have come down from the ledge of constant fear and worry. It just took time. (and probably the Paxil helped).

So what else is new? We moved into a big house with a ginormous yard. My youngest is going to a new school and already has a new best friend and play dates and birthday party invitations. Her birthday is next month and for the first time in her life we’re hosting the party at our home in our back yard with a rented bouncy house.

Gunny is going to college full time working on a business degree and he also got his realtor license and is working hard to get things going on that front.

My older daughter is thrilled to have her own room again (she was sharing with her sister in the old apartment) and she’s raising some baby chicks named Bellatrix, Luna, Minerva and Tonks.13086632_10153616004177616_2292435789660856514_o

 

Me? I’m looking for a job. My hesitant stabs at healthcare type deals didn’t really amount to much. I have zero experience so I can’t blame them. I find myself applying for the kind of jobs I did before and sort of falling into some old habits that I’d hoped to leave behind. Petty concerns like a long commute or money stuff. My former field of work is small and incestuous and very competitive. I’m disheartened at how easy it was to forget about my priorities and my new-found peace of mind. So my answer is this: I’m going to focus on the future that I’ve now accepted that I’ll have. I’ll get a job, certainly, and do it to the best of my ability, but I am also going to get my degree in something that will fulfill me in the long run. I want to be a counselor–probably an end-of-life/hospice counselor. I will need a lot of school, but the years are going to go by regardless and at the end I can either have something to show for it or not. I choose school. Not finishing my BA is my only regret in life and it’s something I can actually fix! So I’m doing it!

As far as my personal life and psyche? I feel so freaking lucky. Walking my kid to school on a sunny day is just idyllic. Weeding the yard makes me inexplicably happy. We run through the sprinkler and roast marshmallows in the fire pit and make daisy chain crowns.I sleep so well in this house it feels like we were drawn to this place for a reason. I’m…HAPPY. As Allison summed it up this morning on the way to school:

“Ahhhh. I love life!”

FullSizeRender (19)

And so, I don’t think I’m going to write about cancer any more unless there is some sort of update. I’m going to take these blog posts and flesh them out and fill in the blanks and publish them as a book. Maybe people will want to read it and maybe they won’t. But it’s something I feel strongly that I need to do.

If you were here for the cancer, I appreciate your interest, love and support. We now return to our regularly scheduled blog posts about books and writing and kids and work and maybe some chickens and gardening. 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Book Release Day: Fantasy vs Reality

chinese_theatre-vintage-premiereWhen I was a very young writer I had visions of my future book release days that were elaborate and glamorous. Parties with New York literati. Long lines at bookstores. Jetting off on a book tour to exotic locations. I even used to practice what I’d say when David Letterman interviewed me about my wildly successful novel. So basically I was dreaming of being a movie star at a Hollywood premiere except that I’d be adulated for the words I wrote instead of pretending to be someone else’s character.

Many, many years went by before I actually published my first book, The Sleepless Nanny. It was perhaps the softest launch of all time. I uploaded a book I’d written twenty years earlier to Kindle Direct Publishing. I didn’t even have a cover. I think I just wanted to see if it would really work.

Seven books later, I’m a bit more meticulous about book launches: setting a date far in advance and squaring that schedule with my editor and proofreader; commissioning a professional cover; using social media to generate awareness of the title in advance, etc. Just in the past few months has Amazon allowed indie authors to do pre-orders (Thank you, Amazon!).

Yesterday, my new book released. And while I didn’t appear on Letterman, I did have a busy and rewarding day. Just not the kind I’d envisioned as a teenager. Here’s a look at Summer Wind‘s release day.

I woke up around 4 a.m. and remembered my book came out at midnight. Grinned a shit-eating grin. Went back to sleep.

When I set 11/11 as my publication date I didn’t take into consideration that it was also Veterans Day and my youngest child would be home from school. This turned out not to be the greatest plan because she was excited for a day at home with Mommy while I was excited about doing the stuff you do on a book release day. Necessary and fun-ish stuff, but not intriguing for a five-year-old. Here’s how the next few hours went:

Release Day - Update FB pageI updated the Lexy Cooper Facebook page with a release message. I like to share directly from the Amazon page because if it’s promoting an Amazon sale sometimes it pops up in people’s newsfeed more often. I also “Boosted” the post for twenty dollars. I earn $3.45 royalty (70% of the sales price) on each copy of the eBook sold in the US, so I only need to sell six copies to break even on the ad.

A lot of my friends and family shared that FB post in support of the launch, so I made sure to acknowledge each of them by liking the post and/or commenting. Your street team, be they fans or family, are your most important asset. Don’t ever take them for granted!

Release Day - Update lexycooper blog

Next, I made a post about the launch on Lexycooper.com. I don’t promote the site very often, nor do I post frequently, but it is the archive for all things in the Lexyverse, and as Summer Wind is a spinoff, it deserves a place here.

After that, I updated this blog with Summer Wind in the upper-right hand widget.

Release Day - Update trixieblog

 

At this point my daughter was hanging on to my desk chair and being a pest, so I made her a “nest” on the sofa and set her up on Netflix to buy myself some time.

Next up on the to-do list was sending the Team Lexy newsletter. I’d actually composed and tested it last week, so all it needed was a quick scan and then I hit the “Send” button. Bon voyage, newsletter!

Release Day - send newsletter

 

Newsletter sent, it was time to update Goodreads. Now, since Summer Wind had been available for pre-order, the link to buy it on Amazon was already in place. The updating of the Goodreads entry with the ASIN number is something I needed to do for the previous launches, but this time it was already done. What I did need to update was my author page from a “coming soon” message to something else. Here’s the before and after:

 

Release Day - Goodreads before Release Day - Goodreads after

 

Twitter was my next stop. Instead of a straight up “Hey, my book’s out” I went for a semi-inspirational one (that got a handful of retweets), and an attempt at humor, which didn’t really get noticed, but how great would that have been if Stephen King had replied or retweeted me? Worth a shot, right?Release Day - Twitter

 

My nagging little girl redeemed herself entirely when, at Thai Ginger with my friend Meghan, she burst out with “Mommy’s new book is out today!” Okay, that was pretty great. After lunch I bought the small one a Christmas dress at Gymboree gold christmas dressand then it was home again. How does the freshly-published author spend her afternoon? Folding laundry, mostly. But I also bought myself a couple new graphic novels:

Release Day - buy comics

Later I made dinner and we watched MasterChef Junior and I read a bit of Station Eleven before falling asleep. There was no congratulatory phone call from the president or requests for interviews. TMZ’s paparazzi are either fantastic at hiding or they’re not really interested in my activities. But all in all, I got some stuff done, fed my family, did a little shopping, and, oh yeah, released book number 8! Which you can buy here. (Or read  for free if you’re an Amazon Prime member or signed up for Kindle Unlimited)

 

 

When to release and promote your books

There are those who say that authors should release a book simultaneously in digital and paper form. Their argument being that everyone who wants to read your book should be able to. If they want to give you money, why make them wait? Well, I’ll tell you. Every new format is a chance to promote your novel. Because unless you want to make enemies, you just can’t say “buy my book” every day. People will tune you out at best and unfollow you at worst. And then you’ve lost them.

Real-time-marketing-news-cycle-1024x766

In public relations you have what are known as “news beats.” I’m sure a PR professional would explain the concept differently (and probably with a twenty-slide PowerPoint presentation), but here is the way I understand and use it: You create “news” about your product (in this case your novel), and dole out these bits of news in increments that are most likely to be noticed and shared. So the news beats that I could do for my novel Summer Wind could go like this:

• March – Announcement of book “A Lexy Cooper Spinoff Featuring Detective Malick is in the works”
• April – Cover and title reveal “Title of Mike Malick #1 is ‘Summer Wind.’ Check out the cover”
• May – Launch date reveal “Detective Malick returns in Summer Wind October 31”
• August – Book release “Summer Wind, Mike Malick spinoff now available as eBook and paperback”

And then…nothing. You’ve got no more news. Sure you can post reviews and interact with your readers and all that good stuff, but you don’t have any “news.”
Now, if you hold back on paperback or audio versions, then you have more news to share:

• November – “Summer Wind coming to paperback”
• December – “Summer Wind now available in paperback”
• June – “Summer Wind audiobook in the works. Who will voice Mike Malick?”
• August – “Summer Wind audiobook now available”

You’ve had a full year of newsworthy items about one book. And you’re probably ready to start releasing news about the next book. Now, if you’ve got multiple titles to promote, you can do even more. Here’s a peek at my Marketing and Release calendar.

marketing and release calendar

This spreadsheet actually goes all the way through 2017, four more Lexy Cooper books and two more Mike Malick books.

Newsletters are in yellow, promotions are in blue and releases are in green. You can see that I’m promoting different things at appropriate times. I’ll do two promotions for I Saw Lexy Kissing Santa this year. It was free for five days in a “Christmas in July” promotion, and when the holidays roll around again, I will post about the story in all my social channels and hopefully get another round of sales. I’ll do a “Back to Schooled” promotion in September because it’s topical, and it’s the first book in my series–the bait I use to hook new readers.

Today I didn’t do any writing on my fourth Lexy Cooper book, but the time I spent on the business end confirming schedules with my editor and proofreader, updating Lexycooper.com, making a blog post on Goodreads, and scheduling announcements and promotions through the end of the year is well worth missing a creative day. You can be creative AND strategic!

 

 

Promoted Facebook Posts – An Experiment

I decided to celebrate the new year by announcing the title, plot, and expected publication date for my next Lexy Cooper mystery. I created a Goodreads entry using a color study Brett Parson did for Schooled, and posted the link on my Lexy Cooper Facebook page. Once posted, I saw an option to promote the post for five bucks. Five bucks, huh? Okay, I’ll bite. Here’s what happened:

promotedpostreach

 

 

After a day or two, the post had reached 454 people, 389 of which I’d paid for with my five dollars. It had become the most popular post in the history of the page. How much had those 389 impressions cost me?

 

promotedpostbudget

 

 

 

Look at that, I hadn’t even spent half the budget, but had reached a ton of people who wouldn’t otherwise have seen my post. Interesting. The promotion ended this morning. (Note, I didn’t specify audience, time-frame, or cost-per-anything.) So how did it do?

 

promotioncompleted

 

 

854 views, 758 of them paid.  Let’s see what sort of impact the post had…

 

PromotionCompleteBudget

 

 

Pretty good post likes, three new fans of the page, a handful of comments, and three people clicked through to the Goodreads page (and also added my upcoming book to their “To Read” list). Click-through rate is pretty abysmal, but as far as making people aware of book two’s existence, I’d call it a success. And I only spent $4.98!

Happy Birthday Xbox LIVE!

You’re getting to be a big boy now, XBL. Nine years old! Next year you’ll be in the double digits and that’s a big deal! I remember when you were a tiny little baby not yet born into the world. You held the hopes and dreams of all your mommies and daddies and aunts and uncles. We worked very hard to make sure you were born healthy and happy.You took your first tentative breaths at a small office park in Redmond. There was much worrying when you had your first sniffles and we hoped you would be able to meet your adoring public on time.  And then the day finally arrived, November 15 2002.

And there was much rejoicing!

 

 

I would like to thank you, Xbox LIVE, for being so important in my life. You’ve fed my children, took me around the world, introduced me to actors, musicians and athletes, but more importantly because of you I’ve made many wonderful friends and met the love of my life.

Happy Birthday!

A Drinking Problem

No, I don’t have one. Not drinking is my problem. Abstaining from alcohol or not being fully committed to gettin slizzard seems to be less socially acceptable than being a raging alcoholic.  Why is that?

The last time I drank a lot of alcohol was three years ago about a month before I met my husband. This is what it looked like:

At a Tarts and Vicars party. Hence the schoolgirl prostitute outfit and the bewildered priest.

Shortly after the tragedy of my lollipop’s stick going limp I basically passed out in a beanbag chair and a Frag Doll and a Cavegirl put me to bed. There was vomiting. I had a great time at that party, and in this rare instance the fun I had was greater than the pain that ensued.

I don’t have any family history of alcoholism. I have CERTAINLY done some drinking in my life (as many of you who have met me at E3, GDC and PAX can attest to) and don’t discourage those around me from drinking. I just don’t do it any more, and I’ll tell you why:

  1. I have three children. Someone needs to be responsible for them and that someone should not be drunk.
  2. I have a perfect driving record. I have had parking tickets and have been pulled over for expired tabs or a bad taillight, but I have never done anything sketchy behind the wheel. I don’t think a DUI would be a good way to pop the cherry on my record.
  3. The pros and cons don’t balance out. I don’t enjoy the feeling of being tipsy or ‘relaxed’ enough to cancel out the hangover.
  4. Alcohol doesn’t like me. I don’t know if it’s being out of practice, getting older, or maybe a mild allergy, but I go from buzzed to hungover in about 30 minutes. Not worth it.

Logical, yeah?  So why am I, and other people who just aren’t into drinking social pariahs? It has held me back in my social life and especially my career. If you enjoy imbibing I’m sure you’ve had the sort of conversation like this: “Yeah it turns out s/he doesn’t really drink. So *that’s* a lot of fun [sarcasm]”. So, coworkers or clients that don’t fully commit to drinking are less desirable than the ones who like to knock a few back at happy hour and REALLY tie one on during business trips, trade shows etc.?  Why is that? Do the drinkers fear the light or non-drinkers will judge them? In my experience it’s the other way around. Drinking is the acceptable norm, and not drinking is the anomaly. You can get away with it if you’re a recovering alcoholic, Mormon, Muslim, or pregnant. Otherwise… there is something wrong with you (and in three of those four cases, people don’t want to party with you anyway. Unfair, but true).

I understand the need to socialize with colleagues. It shows you’re a good sport and a team player and can cut loose. But if you don’t have a ‘good reason’ to order a Diet Coke instead of a beer you are suspect. A spy, a stick in the mud, or just plain weird.

This seems fucked up to me. Does a person have to drink to be successful? It appears that way. Is it just in the quasi-entertainment industry in which I’ve found myself? Is it worse in music and film? Do you have to do coke (or be a recovering addict) to get ahead? Should I and other abstainers have to drink to advance our careers? Is this high school?

So, drinkers who mistrust non-drinkers: what’s the deal with that? Abstainers: Does this ring true for you too?

 

 

Cool Search Stuff

So now that I am actually working on social media for reals (instead of just making shit up as I go), I am learning a TON.

I thought I’d share a couple of cool tricks I’ve learned. Maybe this is old news to you guys, but in some ways I am an SM newb.

Google Insights

This allows you to compare multiple search terms in different locations, time frames or categories.  I did an Insights search using my gamertag and my ‘real’ name. My IRL name isn’t that unique, so it’s unclear how many of the results are about me. As you can see from the result, in July “Real Name” was ascendant and trixie360 was in decline.

The green circle indicates where the two worlds collided.

Twitter Search

This one sort of delights me. I keep telling people about it; like random people ringing up my groceries or riding the elevator with me.

Here’s what happens when you do a straight-forward Twitter search for “Spider-Man”:

Just typed in "Spider-Man"

 

If you type in “Spider-Man :)”? You actually get tweets with positive sentiment! Look!

Typing in "Spider-Man :)"

What do you suppose happens when you add a frowny instead of a smiley? OMG you’re right! You get negative tweets! BEHOLD:

Typing in "Spider-Man :("

Granted, these tweets don’t seem all that negative. But then again I don’t speak whatever language that naysaneyney is tweeting; so I can’t be sure.

Try it!

How to Find Me

Apparently I can be located at the intersection of Boob Avenue and Leaving Xbox Street.

I’ve become sort of fascinated by the search terms that people use to find this blog. Sometimes there is just bizarre shit. But there are a couple of repeating themes: my chest and my leaving Xbox. Here’s a sample of the top search terms by which readers found my blog in the last 30 days:

  • Trixie boobs
  • trixie360 breasts
  • trixie’s boobs
  • trixie360 big boobs
  • what happened to trixie from xbox live
  • trixie leaving microsoft
  • trixie leaving xbox
  • trixie got let go from microsoft
  • where is trixie xbox live
  • why did trixie leave microsoft?

I thought I’d take this opportunity to clear up any confusion.

  1. Yes, I have boobs. M’kay?
  2. I did not get let go from Microsoft, I resigned.
  3. What happened to me and where am I? I quit my job at Xbox after 8 years and now I work at Edelman Digital.
  4. Why did I leave? Two reasons: 8 years is a long time and I wanted a fresh adventure. If I had been allowed to continue my work with the community that I loved and helped build I might have stayed. But in the end I love doing community work even more than I loved Xbox and Edelman gave me an opportunity to return to community management.

Okay? All good?

To sum up: Quit, not fired. Yes on boobs; two of ’em.

Professional Head Shot?

For some reason, I need a ‘professional-looking’ headshot photo for my job. A company directory sort of thing, methinks. So, can you help me out? Because going through my work photos from my Xbox years…the word “professional” does not come to mind.

Which one should I use?

Miss Trixie: Psychic

Did I call it or what?

YOU'RE a cheater! No YOU are! grr! rawr!

If you’d like to know what next week’s powerball numbers are, let me know.

Ball. huh-huh.

 

 

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