Getting To Know Aila, Uncategorized

Aila Factoids. Factoids about Aila.

Aila Factoids.
I’ll say a lot of things I might not mean before I’ve had my coffee. No, wait. Sorry. I might say a lot of mean things before I’ve had my coffee. Where’s my damn coffee?
-Aila Stephens

When I said I had mapped out my blogging topics for the quarter, it was the absolute truth.

Thing is, I don’t want to talk about what I had planned to talk about.

I had planned to talk about dialogue today. I’d tell you things like show the action around the dialogue instead of telling with an unnecessary tag. But I don’t want to. You can find that advice anywhere—and might find it here at some point, I’m not sure. But you won’t find it here today.

Instead, I’m going to just tell you a few of the most random facts about myself you may or may not know. Enjoy. (Also, it’s possible may need coffee.)


This may be an accurate representation of what I looked like after the incident.

I was once attacked by a swarm of yellow jackets. Or as I like to call them, Hell’s Flying Minions. It was a horseback riding incident. We were way out in the mountains and the lead horse stepped in a nest and the bees started swarming. My horse was third from the back, and I can vividly remember seeing all the yellow little shits on my horse and thinking how it looked like the most terrible case of chicken pox I’d ever seen.

I was in terrible pain, as the bees had gone up the legs of my pants, down in my boots, in my shirt, and one was stuck in my helmet. After stinging me just above the eye, it continued to bite me multiple times. I stayed on my horse, miraculously. I also had to be put on steroids to save my eye, which swelled to nearly twice its size.


I love to go hiking. I also have more hiking gear than I’ll ever use. I just think life makes

photo (4)
To get here, you have to walk between two boulders about 18-24 inches apart.

more sense when I’m out on the trail. My thoughts are clearer, my spirits are lifted…and damn it, food just tastes better when cooked outdoors.

Hiking isn’t easy, but that’s one of the things I love about it most. I love having a challenge; hell, I even love when I’m three seconds away from my breaking point and feel like giving up. Overcoming the odds and laughing in the face of adversity is thrilling, addictive.

I don’t go in the summer, though. I may enjoy a challenge, but heat stroke isn’t something I’ve ever cared to try. I love it the other three seasons of the year. My favorite trail is the Kephart Prong in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I am so grateful I have a husband who indulges me and enjoys getting his boots dirty, too.


I’m unashamed: I love Noel Fielding.

I’m a British television nut. Of course I love the ones we’re [almost] all familiar with: Doctor Who (always a Tennant girl) and Sherlock, but I’m also into lesser known shows like The IT Crowd, The Paradise (two seasons was not enough, damn it!) The Tudors, The Detectorists, and Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Peaky Blinders, The Crown, the list goes on and on and on. I can’t fathom what life would be like without the Big Fat Quiz Show of The Year. What’s amazing is that I don’t have cable television, and must stream anything I want to watch, so while I don’t watch TV a lot, when I watch it, I watch a lot of it. It makes sense if you really think about it.


I want my first two goats to be named Lucy and Ethel. Or Rose and Donna.

I want my own hobby farm. Hang on, let me amend that, I really, really, really want my own hobby farm. I grew up hearing stories about my family’s farm, and I loved traipsing around its fields, though they grew very little by the time I was born. I’ve always liked growing things. I used to have quite the little raised garden which produced some of the finest tomatoes I’ve ever eaten. If I’m being totally honest, my ultimate dream would be to have a hobby farm and be SAHW. (You can use writer or wife there, they both work and they’re both true.) It’s kind of hard to do in an apartment, but I did find a community garden I can rent a plot or two from this spring and grow some things.


Pepperoni is not my friend, nor am I a friend to it.

I’m allergic to sodium nitrate/nitrite. I spent quite a while in a hospital when I was in kindergarten from eating a hot dog during a school field trip. I won’t describe what happens to me when I accidentally consume it. I’m pretty sensitive to it, though. When I was in culinary school we had to learn to use it in its raw form, which is this very fine, very pink powder and I basically had to don a hazmat suit in order to participate in the hands-on portion of the lecture.


Someday, Duck. Someday.

I have this knack for disappointing myself every year by planning a vacation I’ll likely never take. I’ve never been to Disney World despite the fact I plan a trip there every year, and have planned a trip there every year for at least the last fifteen years. One of my yearly traditions is ordering the Vacation Planning DVD from their website and watching it, eyes wide like a seven-year old. I have booked and cancelled more WDW vacations than Elizabeth Taylor has planned weddings.


Here we see the delicious red gummy bear breaking the news to all the disgusting green gummy bears that while they shouldn’t be ashamed, they are vile and will be passed on to someone else.

I don’t eat green gummy bears. 

Which is weird because green is my favorite color. We’ll call that a bonus fact.

I also like gummy bears. Especially the sour ones. I’ll also tolerate sour green gummy bears because they’re sour apple. I don’t know what the regular green gummy bears are supposed to mimic. Vomit-coated death, maybe? I don’t know. All I know is when I treat myself to a bag of Haribo (there is no other kind of gummy bear, mind you), I must first pick through the bag and get rid of all the green ones. My husband’ll take them, but they can go in the trash for all I care. It is possible I feel a little too passionately about this. I’m not a fan of the clearish ones, you know, the pineapple ones. But I don’t insist on their exclusion.


That’s it. That’s all I’ve got for you today, as I think I’ll save some for the next time I don’t like what I’ve chosen for myself to write about.

Until next time, lovelies. xoxo

WP Bookshelf Ad

Self-Publishing, Tips, Writer's Life, Writing

Let Me Be Frank

Self-Pub Mistakes“A teachable spirit and a humbleness to admit your ignorance or your mistake
will save you a lot of pain. However, if you’re a person who knows it all, then you’ve
got a lot of heavy-hearted experiences coming your way.”
-Ron Carpenter, Jr.

So as I mentioned last week, my launch day wasn’t the thrill it was supposed to be. I didn’t tweet about my book–and haven’t once–since then.

I’m sure my husband would protest, (HA!) but alas: I am not perfect.

Instead of pouring my heart and soul out, let me just give you a little lesson in all that went wrong for me on that day and the days leading up to it. If I had a nickle for every red flag I overlooked, I could quit my day job. (If anyone wants to send me nickles to get that process started, my P.O. Box is… *wink*) In all seriousness, please learn from my mistakes.

Without further adieu:

1.| I should have recruited more help. The people helping me were FANTASTIC! But, I should have had people reading the eBook in multiple formats, because I wasn’t just putting it on Amazon. I was using IngramSpark and my book appeared on Amazon, iBooks, Nook, and obscure Japanese websites for whatever reason. So, while the formatting may have been decent on one platform, it wasn’t on all and this was something I didn’t consider. Mostly because…

2.| I purchased a layout for my novel. [This isn’t exactly a mistake, but there were definite lessons to be learned.] I’m not ashamed to admit it, I wasn’t getting results on my own that I was happy with, and I didn’t have time or patience for learning InDesign on the fly, so I purchased a Word-friendly book layout that was supposed to translate perfectly from print to eBook. I am 99% sure I even paid a little extra for the duality. I’m debating on whether to link to the company because I am quite frankly debating on whether I will use them again. Their information is listed in the front matter of the book because a.) it was a requirement of purchasing the layout and b.) because I’m thrilled with the way the paperbacks look.

However, what I did not, can not, and will not like or understand about this is what happened to the metadata of my eBook. This company automatically inserted itself in the metadata as both author and publisher of my book. And my eBook layout problems only seemed to occur whenever I corrected the metadata. For legal reasons, I will not say that they were definitely the cause of my eBook layout problems, but I will say that it is a matter I am still looking into.

3.| Every time I needed to fix an issue with the eBook, it cost me $25 to do so. This was my fault, 100%. I knew that when/if I needed to make changes to the print version that it would cost me $25. I did not know the same applied to the eBook. With the layout problems I was facing, this was staggering. I am singing IngramSpark’s praises because they did not give me any trouble whatsoever when I asked begged them to release me of my eBook contract. Within 48 hours every trace of my error-riddled eBook was off the market and it was mine again to obsess over and check for those blasted formatting errors.

cautionSide note: If you’re going the IngramSpark route, I will be doing a more thorough review of my experience with them, but I will say this much quickly: Unless you are absolutely certain your success hinges on your eBook being available in every possible market, having your eBook with them will be an expensive venture. eBooks are updated regularly, and $25 each and every time adds up. Research the absolute hell out of the pros and cons of using their digital distribution services before you decide.

Their print service is exceptional, though. Truly top notch.

4.| If you’re an aspiring author and you’re not on Goodreads, hear this: Get on Goodreads. It’s powerful. Oh, and while you’re there, follow me. I ignored this valuable asset for far too long. You can do a lot of things here to set your book apart, like add video trailers, create quizzes and trivia for fans of your work. Have discussions with your readers in a way that other social media outlets simply can’t compare.

5.| I am not sure why I didn’t do this step, because I fully intended to, but I wanted to send out 15 or so ARC (Advanced Release Copies) to hopefully get some reviews before launch day. (This also would’ve alerted me to those formatting errors, too.) This was a monumental mistake on my part. Don’t be like me. Send out ARCs.

At the end of the day, you know what? I have a book. Relatively few people can say that. Even if you make every single mistake I did (Don’t, because you’ve read about them now) and you have a completed book that you’re proud of, that is an amazing thing! Don’t let a few mistakes and bumps along the way cause you to lose sight of your accomplishment. Dig your heels in, do your best to make it right, and make a vow to do better next time.

Do not give up on your writing dreams!