5-month Blogaversary this Week: Stats & Questions

This week marks my 90th Post and my 5-month Blogaversary. I appreciate greatly how authors, artists, writers, editors and many creative people join together to help increase one another’s reach and visibility on FB, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, Booklikes, Shelfari and increasingly, on Google+.

Here are my end-of-first-five-months’ stats and questions (mostly for other authors). Please leave responses to mine or add your own questions in the comments section on the WordPress or Tumblr blog post site. (You will have to sign in via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or your own WP or Tumblr account on these sites to comment.)

First, many thanks for the support and receptivity: on WordPress, my blog now has 50 followers (MY GOAL for 1/1/14!) and 12 on my Tumblr site (which has all cross-posts from the WP site), for a grand and wonderful total of 62 #FF who receive (and an unknown number who read) my posts.

I’m inviting guest bloggers this year.
QUESTION: Would you like to guest blog? (I am restricting guest blogging [for now] to followers of my blogs on WP or Tumblr: good reason to become a follower!)
Please let me know when and on what topic(s).
Topics on which I welcome guest posts: Buddhism, meditation, yoga, meditation retreats, having a spiritual teacher, the influence of your spiritual practice on your writing; writing, publishing, marketing our writing; or, any of the many topics I have already blogged about (read my past posts for hints!).

sallyember.com has gone from being “invisible” (no ranking at all) via ALEXA (Google’s ranking system) to being in the top 3.5 million websites worldwide in only five months.
QUESTION: How much does an ALEXA ranking mean, and what is your site ranked?

Concurrently, Twitter followers have grown from 7 in August to over 1700 this week (almost reached my randomly set goal of 2000 #FF by 1/1/14). @sallyemberedd finds me there. Special thanks to #ASMSG, the World Literary Cafe @worldlitcafe and Keith Fritz’ Author Megasheet on Google for such great contacts and networking opportunities which help build visibility and connections on Twitter. Due to cross-posting via Facebook, Pinterest and my blog, I don’t always post directly on Twitter, but I do have an active presence there.
QUESTION: How much do Twitter followers actually read further/click on Tweets’ links and which ones appeal most to you?

Also, my original Spanners Series page on Facebook now has over 450 LIKES (my modest goal for 1/1/14 was 200!) with many “LIKE for LIKE” events hosted on FB and contacts via Facebook groups, such as the Science-Fiction/Romance Brigade, the World Literary Cafe, Clean Indie Reads, Authors Social Media Support and many others, to offer THANKS for this amazing rise in connections on FB in recent weeks (at the beginning of December, my series page had fewer than 200 LIKES). I also have a lot more “friends” (as Sally Sue Fleischmann Ember) via these same networks and groups for writers/authors and science-fiction fans as well as those interested in Buddhism.
Question: What impact do FB LIKES have on an author’s visibility, in your opinion? If you are an author and your LIKES have risen lately, how exactly have you experienced a change in sales, interactions, or network invitations that you can attribute to this increase?

I am fairly new to having a series page on Google+ (3 weeks), so my Spanners Series page there only has 9 #FF. But, I (as Sally Sue Ember) have joined many groups and hope to increase the number of people in my circles and who follow the series page by connecting and networking more via these opportunities as well. Groups for writers/authors and science-fiction fans as well as those interested in Buddhism are my main ones here, too.
QUESTION: How do you use Google+ and what is your opinion of it?

On youtube, I now have 3 videos of me reading from or talking about The Spanners Series and particularly Volume I, This Changes Everything (about one/month) since October, 2013, but only a handful of viewers, so far.
QUESTION: If you are an author, do you have a book trailer or other writing-related videos on youtube? How successful has your video presence been for driving traffic to your books’ sites, for sales, for views?

Again, partly thanks to networking and support via #ASMSG, on Goodreads, This Changes Everything is getting 4- and 5-star reviews and ratings and moving up on many lists on Listopia. As a member of only about 12 months, my “friends” number has grown to over 650. I also joined some groups here as well.
QUESTION: How do you use Goodreads as a reader? What about as an author?

Since the release date (12/19/13) of This Changes Everything, the first ebook in the The Spanners Series, TCE has been moving erratically but promisingly through the sales rankings on Amazon, Kobo, Nook and Smashwords (don’t have rankings, yet, on iBooks). Many more reviewers are about to post their reviews over the next several weeks, which will help spread the word even more.

Examples: on Amazon, TCE has risen into the top 58,000 (out of 8 million) books on Amazon, and my author rank (so far) has risen to 89,000 (out of over 500,000).
On Kobo, TCE has moved up over 2000 other books in all Fiction and over 300 other books in Romance, Paranormal (through a mix-up, it’s not in Sci-fi, where it belongs) since it’s release date.
On nook, TCE has been in the top 500,000 overall (out of over 2 million books).
QUESTION: If you have published and sell ebooks in the last 12 months, what advice would you give to new ebook authors about these types of stats?

TCE is also on Shelfari, Booklikes and several independent sites (sites that post ebooks, reviews, author interviews and stories about indie books/authors). On http://www.sallyember.com, on the right of each page. Scroll down for live links.
QUESTION: What alternative sites feature you or your writing? What are your experiences with these? Do you do “blog hops,” “cover reveals,” cross-posting of other types? Advice?

The eleven Boards I have on Pinterest which I add to frequently, relate to my writing, the series, authors and music, locations and information connected to the series and my life. Started with NO followers in September; now have almost 70. sallyember is my Pinterest address (button to this on my website).
QUESTION: How do you use Pinterest? Experiences?

Through all these and other efforts and, again, much support from friends, family and colleagues/network members, including on LinkedIn, my KLOUT score has risen to over 61 (anything over 50 is considered good; over 65 is considered excellent).
QUESTION: What is your KLOUT score? How important do you think this ranking is for a new author?

I recently joined some LinkedIn groups for writers/authors and science-fiction fans as well as those interested in Buddhism. Since I’m so new to these (less than 1 month’s membership in most), not sure of the impact, yet.
QUESTION: What LinkedIn groups do you belong to/recommend and why?

Enough for now. Thanks for reading, responding, explaining, advising, recommending, warning, sharing. Best to you all!

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iBooks, nook, Smashwords and other opps for gifting

Still hoping to use ebook gift cards, give ebooks as gifts, get some more good reads for your own new device (nook or Apple brand compatible)? See below for opportunities!

Of course, I’m wanting you to include This Changes Everything, Volume I of The Spanners Series by me (Sally Ember, Ed.D.), in your gifting/reading plans! Buy links to TCE are below the link in this blog post for the gifting, so come back here or remember the title when you go cruising for ebooks in the sci-fi/ romance/ paranormal/ multiverse/ utopian great fiction sections!

If you start to follow my blog and/or already are a follower, leave a comment with your email address (or send it to me privately after following), I’ll send you a coupon for a FREE download of my ebook from Smashwords, which has all formats of ebooks available right there.

Click below to get to Her Ladyship’s Quest site for a chance to win a $15 nook gift card and an explanation of the iBooks’ gift card process, now available for the first time!

Thanks for being an ebook reader and supporter of indie and ebook authors! Happy New Year!

Her Ladyship’s Quest giveaways and info

TCE nook link

TCE ibooks link

TCE Amazon link

TCE Smashwords link

TCE KOBO link

#Desire Realm Torments and Teases

#Buddhist cosmology puts humans and animals together in what is translated as the #Desire Realm. The Realm I am #contemplating for this phase of my #retreat is The Hungry Ghosts (#Pretas) Realm, which comes “below” these two. Pretas are born into this Realm because of exhibiting strong possessiveness and desire in other lives. So, in all three of these experiences, desire is the culprit.

desire21

However, we can’t function without desire. Our motivations are rooted first in desire, even for the most altruistic intentions, until we are beyond all suffering and desire. Let me know when you achieve that; I haven’t met anyone yet who has. Even His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, speaks of anger and other common emotions that still arise for him. The major difference between someone at his level or close to that and most practitioners are two factors; how long the feeling lasts and what we do in response to it.

Most people, Buddhist practitioners included, get lost for a moment or longer (or forever, if the person has no skills or practice to deter it) in the intense emotions of the present circumstances. We also get lost in emotions from events in the past or while anticipating the future. Every interaction, everything that occurs is an opportunity to remember or forget.

desire defn

The best signs I can hope for in my life due to practice are to experience these emotions less frequently, less intensely and for shorter durations and not to get lost in them. The goal is not the journey. But, part of being in the Desire Realm as a human is to have goals.

What does it mean to “get lost” in emotions? For me, this part of the journey looks like this: when I’m lost, it means I forget about the nondual, oneness truth of all existence. I can’t feel my intention to benefit all beings. I lose track of my ability to feel compassion or to be even a little bit unselfish. I cling completely to the false reality of my tiny physical and ego-ridden self as if “I” am all that matters, or matter the most.

Then, equally importantly, when I do get lost, I am tasked with not condemning myself and not giving up. Learning to accept my failings, have compassion for my forgetting, recognize my humanness and even have a sense of humor about myself. I attempt to take myself more lightly while keeping my goals in mind.

Ruthlessness without condemnation is the key: being honest enough to face my foibles without falling into self-negating, self-deprecating messages. Actually, I’m doing pretty well with this part. I accept who I am at almost 60 years old much better than many people do.

Interestingly, the fact that I do not judge myself as harshly or frequently as others judge me has caused me a few problems. Apparently, misery loves company. Judgers want to see that their judgments have a negative effect. In my experience, when I do not take their derision or evaluations personally, they take offense. They claim I’m not listening, I’m not respecting them. They feel that I’m judging them.

What a strange set of illusions we share! My response to all that self-induced misery for those people is to feel compassion for their being lost and not get lost, myself. For refusing to allow their torment to bother me, I become unpopular.

love-irresistible-desire-irresistibly-desired

Oh, well. Luckily for me I stopped desiring popularity in adolescence. Wish the rest of the adults would grow up.

Until then, torments and teases in the Desire Realm continue and we do our best to ride them out and not make things worse. Join me in gentle humor at oneself and others (but keep your amusement about others to yourself if you want friends!).

Keep on.

A #job I already have: wish it PAID!

A #job I already have: wish it PAID!

Please click on the link, above (the title is “live”), and read the entire post, which explains each requirement and you’ll know that I and many people I know and am related to qualify in all the following areas!

Excerpts from the post:
We are seeking unlimited clandestine bodhisattvas for immediate employment in the universe.

We don’t know how many we have already hired, since they’ve gone undercover, but we know we have space for more. Our mission is simple: Support all beings to be connected and free from fear. Our method is simple:

Enlighten yourself.

Here are a few requirements for the job. [Applicants/Workers must be/know/have the attitude of]:
Allow-er
Everpresent
Divining Bod
Galactivated
Wounded healer
Epiphantic
Mathemagician
Loco-motive
Humilitarian

Application requirements:

1) Decide, from this moment on, that every moment is holy.

2) Clarify your ultimate purpose: to enlighten yourself in support of all beings.

3) Connect to the world around you. Find peace in yourself, and radiate it outwards.

Free: I will profread…proofread 5 pages if you interact!

Authors, bloggers, other writers: I will trade interaction for light editing/proofreading! Trying to build my “platform” for pre-orders of my first ebook: Volume I, This Changes Everything, The Spanners Series and build buzz for sales. Pre-orders, $1.99 (50% off), 11/5 – 12/19/13, via Smashwords.com, iBooks, Kobo and Barnes & Noble. Release date: 12/20/13, via Smashwords and many other retailers, including Amazon, @ $3.99.

I will proofread/lightly edit 5 pages of any text you have for FREE for every way you interact with me between now and December 20, 2013. Choose one of the following for each 5 pages you want proofread!

1) comment on a post on my blog (http:www.sallyember.com)

2) follow me on Twitter (@sallyemberedd) and RT at least one of my Tweets

3) LIKE The Spanners Series Facebook page and leave a comment on a post there (https://www.facebook.com/TheSpannersSeriesbySallyEmber)

4) follow my blog and share it with your own blogosphere (http:www.sallyember.com)

5) write a brief review of This Changes Everything (TCE) which has excerpts posted on my blog, http:www.sallyember.com , and two other sites (http://authonomy.com and http://wattpad.com)
****5 pages proofread for EACH!
For each site, read and rate what you read, comment, back the book, put it on your shelf (whatever ways you can uplift it).
BTW I’m NOT telling you how to rate or rank TCE!

6) become a friend of mine on http://Goodreads.com and comment on any post I put on any group I belong to there (Sally Ember, Ed.D.)

7) add me to your circle and find me in any Google + Community to comment on any post I have in a g+ group (ssfember@gmail.com)

8) Become a follower of my 10 boards and re-pin at least one pin on Pinterest.com/sallyember

To “cash in” on the proofreading, contact me and send notice of which interaction(s) you did. Send your 5-page (or more, if more interactions) attachment to: sallyember@yahoo.com as a MS Word doc. I will use “Track Changes,” “Save As” with my initials appended, and email your proofread text back within 72 hours.

Thanks. SHARE this and let me know and you get another 5 pages proofread!

Happy interacting!

More about living in a “God Realm”

Yesterday my at-home #Buddhist #meditation #retreat, week one, contemplating living in a “God Realm,” took some interesting turns due to “regular life.” That’s the beauty and the challenge of having a home retreat: life keeps on happening, and not very far away or able to be ignored. Need to deal with my car, keep connecting with some people, job-hunt and apply, have a job interview (when invited), shop for essentials, tend to chores.

As a writer who is finishing Volume II, This Changes My Family and my Life Forever, and marketing (release date, December 20) Volume I, This Changes Everything of The Spanners Series, I am also writing, marketing, learning about ebook publishing, indie pub networking and methods, editing/revising, weighing in on cover art for Volume I (thanks, #Willowraven!) and learning about this whole ebook process for the first time from Mark Coker of #Smashwords (thanks, Mark). My days and some of my nights are quite full, already. Adding in 3 – 6 hours of meditation each day (sometimes more) is quite a feat. I’m not bragging; just explaining. Something’s gotta give.

So, yesterday, the meditation time “gave” to the car repair and friend times. However, I did walk and meditate/contemplate while my car was being assessed (one hour). During that hour, I walked around downtown Hayward to do errands (bank, library) and then sat in an rarely-used chess-players’ seat at a small city park.

No one else was in the park. In fact, it was officially “closed,” but the walkways were open. I and a dog-walker were the only park users when I was there. I could picture the park on busier days, ghost figures filling the space: the traditional-old-men-playing-chess images, some teens hanging out on the benches, a stroller-pusher or two, a dog-walker or two. But, since it held no other appeals, with no playground, no fountain or pond, no climbing structures, no other places to sit, I ran out of ideas. Besides the two chess stations and two park benches, there were a few patches of grass (well-trimmed), some flowering shrubs, one tree: that was the corner park.

Meditating/contemplating living in a God Realm caused me to look around more closely as I walked and then, sat. I discovered several aspects of this downtown that struck me as relevant. First, there are a lot of abandoned or empty, unmarked buildings and vacant lots among some seemingly open ones or those not due to be opened, yet (it was before 11:30, so many places weren’t open, yet). In this particular moment, one day in 2013 in Hayward, California, I could see evidence of better days.

One large, brick building had odd-shaped and oddly placed spaces high on one wall facing the busiest intersection. I puzzled out that these were vacancies left by large, individual letters which must have been adhering to the brickwork to display the owner’s or business’ name. Gone. But, before that era ended, those people must have been very wealthy to have owned such a large, prominent downtown structure. Most owners live in a God Realm, until they don’t.

They would have had servants and workers under them, surplus income to spend on themselves. They would have indulged themselves and their family members in luxuries and vacations, had most every whim fulfilled. Fancy clothes, fast and expensive cars, jewels, lavish parties, food and beverages, entertainment, sex, exotic pets, travel to beautiful locales, music and art would have filled their lives. Let’s give them good health, love and intelligence, too. A perfect human existence, probably in the latter part of the last century or earlier.

Where are those owners now, if any of them are still even in those human forms? Assisted living or nursing homes? Scattered from Hayward, younger family members out of touch or estranged? Dead already? Where are their money, those luxuries, that business? What happened to their residences, cars, clothes and other possessions, friends and colleagues? Gone to others or just completely gone. Empty. Abandoned, like this building.

Even when “everything is perfect,” it can’t last. Even if the outer pleasures continue, the enjoyers do not. These “Gods” age, get infirm, die; or, die suddenly. But, die they must, taking none of that gilded life with them.

I returned to retrieve my car (can’t be fixed until part arrives. I chose Halloween for my next foray into town, since I have a medical appointment that day, anyway). Driving the short distance home, I contemplated the ephemeral nature of all life and the futility of accumulating wealth, possessions, pleasures and such.

We may be living in a God Realm or not, but what we all share is impermanence. Whatever ways we are enjoying or suffering through our existences, our pleasure or pain is just a moment in the great span of time. Whatever we have, whatever we want: Feel it, live it, then go on to the next moment. That is the merry-go-round of samsara.

Prayers for all beings to recognize the illusory, temporary nature of samsaric existence and to buckle down (or ratchet up) to be on the path to individual liberation. Bodhicitta and gratitude for my path filled my heart as I re-entered my home, my retreat space.

#Buddhist Cosmology in my #Retreat

Tibetan Buddhists view our experience in a variety of ways that I, as a Westerner, have found very difficult to accept. In fact, the first time I heard about the “6 Realms,” I thought the teacher was joking around or being metaphoric, and when I realized he was quite serious, I was outraged and insulted. How could he expect me, an adult woman, to believe in such “fairy-tale-like” settings, characters and circumstances as “Hell Realms,” “Hungry Ghosts,” “Demi-Gods” and “Gods”? I could understand and accept the “Human” and “Animal” realms just fine; here we are. Not so sure about their being two separate “realms,” but I could let that be. The rest were much harder to believe, especially since most humans can’t see or visit these supposed realms or their inhabitants.

In subsequent years, I read and heard teachings about the 6 Realms in which some teachers did explain the metaphoric nature of the experiences of beings in these realms, without renouncing their actual existence. I could live with that. I certainly have direct experience, myself, with individuals’ or my own experiences corresponding exactly to those of the creatures who inhabit each of the lesser-known 4 realms listed above.

Contemplation of the experiences and circumstances of beings in all 6 Realms, particularly those that are painful, difficult, frightening or desperate, both for purposes of developing an understanding of others’ feelings and situations as well as to generate compassion toward, or at least acceptance of those very different from our own is key to Tibetan Buddhist practice. Through this intense contemplation and using our imagination to attempt to inhabit the very bodies and minds of these beings in their extremes of circumstances, we are therefore led to understand the impermanence of all who live on this 6-Realms- samsaric wheel of life, to pray for ourselves and all beings to attain liberation from it. That all beings, including ourselves, attain freedom from endlessly being reincarnated into one Realm or another with ceaseless suffering and no chance of liberation of our minds or bodies from this suffering, which is the definition of samsara, is the primary goal of Buddhist practice.

For the first portion of my retreat, this is the contemplation and these are the goals I am attempting to accomplish.

Starting with the “God” Realm, which is distinguished by its lush, extremely easy and comfortable circumstances, providing its inhabitants with abundant riches and resources, all that they could wish for in material goods, food, and luxuries, more than anyone could ever need or want, I immediately see that I live in what many in our world would consider a God Realm. I may personally not live at its pinnacle, but I know people who do and I live very close to having complete autonomy, which is in itself a God realm experience. I spend these days noticing the riches, the freedoms, the leisure I have and that many around me have.

I am grateful, appreciating deeply how differently I could be living, how those right near me are actually living with fewer resources and having more difficulties than I, even though I very much need to find another job (unemployed, again), have particular aches and pains and never enough money. I have the riches of dharma, unmatched by any material goods.

This is the perfect time, these are the perfect teachings, I have the perfect teacher, I am part of the perfect sangha (assembly of masters and student practitioners), these are the perfect circumstances. I could not be more fortunate. May all beings benefit.