Back to The Beginning

There’s officially a new version of The Beginning available, and I’ll tell you exactly how to get it without spending a cent (unless you haven’t already bought it, in which case, you’ll need to spend $0.99 to get it).

But first, let me explain what I changed and why. (If you don’t give two shits about the why, that’s understandable and you can scroll down to the heading “Updating your Kindle version.”)

When I first wrote The Beginning, I didn’t realize it would be a series. I actually imagined that Jessica Christ would be one big, stand-alone book. Granted, it would be one hell of a tome, but so was the prequel, right? Long books run in Jessica’s family.

Except, as I was writing it, I realized that the upper price limit for an indie ebook on Kindle was $9.99, and even if I could have priced higher, I couldn’t actually make it more expensive and expect anyone to buy it. As much as we all want to be artists and not give a shit about money, uh, sorry if this comes as a surprise to you, but I do give a shit about money. Besides, the story naturally formed separate arcs that would work better for a series.

When I started Jessica’s story, I wrote all the way through  AGC 15 (most of the way through book 2) before I was like, “Oops. Gotta break this up.”

But the narrative arc was disrupted, and I struggled with how to end book 1 so that it felt like the end of the first book in the series rather than just the cut-off point in an “oh shit” artistic moment, which, admittedly, it was.

My struggle didn’t conclude well, in my opinion, and I’ve always kind of hated the way book 1 ends. It didn’t feel finished. The themes weren’t fully developed, and Jessica’s conflict in it needed some serious fleshing out followed by a bit of resolution.

The read-through rates from book 1 to 2 made it clear that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way, and that’s nagged at me like a mofo for the past year. The read-through from book 2 to 3 and book 3 to 4 and so on is great, but I wasn’t getting new readers to book 2, and besides that having a negative financial outcome, it signaled to me that the story wasn’t as strong as it should be to start off a series that deserves to be read, goddamn it! (Obviously, I’m biased on this point.)

So I did what any good, self-flagellating perfectionist would do and made a list of all the things wrong with book 1 that I wanted to fix. Then I handed it over to a mega badass editor with instructions to “please tell me how to fix this.”

The process was a little more complicated than that, but not by much. She came back with incredible notes of where the pace dragged and where I could build more.

After book 5 was released at the end of September and I took a couple weeks off to clear my head, I revisited book 1 to make it what I thought it deserved to be. I spent three weeks chipping (and sometimes slashing) away at it.

While there are changes throughout, the biggest alteration is at the end. I added two full scenes to the end that make everything come together nicely. But to get the full impact of it, you really should start at the beginning and read all the way through (tip: there’s now a hidden section where God explains the real story of Noah’s Ark).

I can honestly say this new version is way better. And the updated version is live on Amazon as of about a week ago. So if you liked it the first time around, you’re going to love it now. And those finding The Beginning for the first time will have a much richer experience to jumpstart their fun with Jessica McCloud.

Without further ado, here’s how you update your current version of The Beginning through your Kindle reader without paying another cent for it.

Updating your Kindle version

  1. Go to www.amazon.com and sign in to your account.
  2. In the top right menu bar, hover over Accounts & Lists to access the drop-down menu:

    Hopefully, you have more exciting recent purchases than I do. If not, good luck with the allergies!
  3. Click on Your Content and Devices:

    Here’s a zoomed in picture of where you should click, in case you thought I was just screwing with you about it being a real thing. Nope, it’s real, and you should click right on its stupid orange face.
  4. You should see the following, and if you don’t, you’ve already messed this up and I don’t know what to tell you:

    I cut off the bottom of the screen in this screenshot because I didn’t want you to creep on all the books I buy. Just assume they’re all the Kama Sutra but like, expert-level guides. Because I’m so good at doing sex.
  5. Scroll down until you see The Beginning by H. Claire Taylor.
    (Note: I didn’t buy my own book because I’m too busy being good at doing sex, so I can’t show you that example exactly, but here’s something similar in the orange box.)
  6. Notice the Update Available button on the far right of the row? Here’s a closer look:

    Click that button. Click it so hard.
  7. When you see this message pop up, don’t freak out and, I don’t know, emergency restart your computer or anything. There’s really no need. Just make sure your Kindle device has its wireless and Whispersync enabled, then click Update.
  8. Congratulations. You now have the new version of The Beginning and can read it at your leisure when you’re not busy doing consensual sex to someone you love.

And for those of you who haven’t yet purchased it, The Beginning is available on Amazon.com for only $0.99.

Click to buy The Beginning.

A Great Gulf: September Update

Total profits from sales of A Great Gulf, Sept. 8 – 30: $160.93

In the twenty-three days between when I released the Jessica Christ short story A Great Gulf and today, two more hurricanes have devastated Americans, and two major earthquakes have shaken Mexico. Oh, plus monsoon season is out of control in South Asia and there are probably a few other natural disasters that have taken place, killing dozens of people, that I haven’t even heard about.

Sometimes helping can feel futile.

But, obviously, you help anyway. Continue reading

This Post on the NFL Will Piss You Off

This post will upset you. It’ll get your hackles up. You might want to punch your computer screen or unfollow me on your bullhorn social media outlet of choice.

Because I’m going to talk about pro sports.

And politics.

And raising a family.

And maybe climate change, but probably not because I find it boring and leave that to experts. I have an English degree, for God’s sake. I know my limitations.

But also, I’m not really going to talk about any of this. I’m going to talk about talking about it. Continue reading

Video

The Waffling, Ep. 5

To celebrate The Beginning finally hitting 100 reviews on Amazon, I done gone made another one of these things. Enjoy?

You can buy The Beginning (Book 1) and And It Was Good (Book 2) for $0.99 September 18-20.

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of the short story A Great Gulf while you’re shopping. It’s set between books 1 & 2.

Also, It is Risen (Book 5) comes out next week (9/26). You can preorder your copy already, though.

We are all pigs…

Today marks the anniversary of Jessica McCloud’s nativity, or the start of the A.G.C. calendar. What year are we on, you ask? Whichever one you feel allows you more freedom to party like it’s 0 A.G.C. Or 21 A.G.C.

Here are some recommendations for how you can celebrate the birth of God’s only begotten daughter (that are things you might want to do anyway):

  • Drink a Dos Equis on the couch while watching TV. When you’re done, drink another.
  • Watch a nature documentary narrated by David Attenborough
  • Pretend to smite a grackle
  • Explore your body in a private setting
  • Found a church
  • Treat yourself to a brinner (breakfast for dinner) of gluten-free pancakes and Jimmy Dean sausage
  • Gift a Jessica Christ book to a friend on Amazon
  • Get high and toss around a football
  • Make out with your significant other in a truck bed
  • Watch a Kenneth Branagh film
  • Leave a review for your favorite Jessica Christ book
  • Make condom balloon animals
  • Listen to Dave Matthews Band (to listen to the Spotify playlist I listened to while writing Nu Alpha Omega, click here)
  • Shout the words “Jessica Christ!” in a crowded room (I promise it’s fun)
  • Do something nice for someone else who probably doesn’t deserve it

The possibilities are endless. Mix and match, if you like. Personally, I’ll be doing most of these (not saying which ones, though).

But it isn’t really about sticking to the books. It’s about using the books as an excuse to indulge yourself in a way that doesn’t harm others. So let me know in the comments how you plan on celebrating.

Sumus omnes porcos,
-H. Claire

Late-night thoughts

Ugh, I’m getting painfully close to finishing the draft of the fourth Jessica Christ book, Nu Alpha Omega. My sales from the first three in the series are starting to flatline, which is business-speak for I’ve been dragging ass on this FA REALZIES! Grammarly is trying to correct that to REALIZE, but no, Grammarly, you unfeeling slave to humans, I meant what I said and I said what I meant, and that was FA REALZIES. And now I realize how stupid that is.

Continue reading

Status

Morning Deficits

I’m not really sure where I got the idea that people wake up refreshed in the morning. But it’s something I’ve always believed was the standard. People sleep, they wake up, they feel refreshed, their minds don’t immediately start negotiation and rearranging their calendar for the day so that they can get, say, three more hours of sleep that’s obviously gonna be restless but at least it’s horizontal time! Continue reading

Aside

So about last night…

One question: What in the fiery flying fuck?

Waking up with my head pounding, wondering what happened the night before, feeling shame, embarrassment, trepidation, asking myself where I go from here—this used to be a situation only copious doses of alcohol could usher into my life. Granted, there was a little bit of wine involved last night and maybe that’s why I’m still feeling nauseated, but probably not. Continue reading

Friday Night Rites

I have some great news for you: it’s Friday night.

Or I guess you could be reading this on another night of the week, in which case, great news: Friday night is on the way.

If you’re from Texas (or a lot of other places, I suppose, but mostly Texas), you might still associate Friday night with the only sport God truly and oh-so-obviously blesses: football. I say that flippantly but lovingly because while high school football is blown alarmingly out of proportion in Texas, anyone who’s experienced it by being either on the field or in the stands knows that, yeah, it’s really freaking invigorating, life-affirming, and sexy as hell (the last bit being solely from the perspective of teen me). I’d almost do high school again just to better appreciate and indulge in high school football while the time was ripe.

Almost.

Do you remember being in tenth grade? (Holy shit, I sure as hell hope everyone reading this is at least in eleventh grade. I’m not looking to teach anyone new dirty words here.)

Tenth grade is such a disaster. I spent quite a bit of energy in tenth grade trying to be religious. Man, I tried. Went to youth group (those songs lodge themselves in your brain forever), tried dating people from youth group (I was too mean for it to work, apparently), and I think I accidentally got saved at some point in all that.

Spoiler alert! Organized religion never took. Then I developed stress-induced acid reflux in eleventh grade and things haven’t really slowed down since then. But the point is that tenth grade is a pivotal spot in the metamorphosis of angst. Freshmen don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground, as we so pleasantly say in Texas, and then you try to get your feet underneath you at the tender age of fifteen and sixteen and— OH MY GOD we let kids start operating motor vehicles at this age.

Sorry. Temporary freak out.

It’s literally impossible to create a believable fifteen-year-old character without writing a little angst and a lot of awkward make-out sessions. There’s just no getting around it. Being fifteen is not pretty, and I’m not even talking about the acne and apparent inability to wash in all necessary crevices. If you somehow managed to get through freshman year with any shred of innocence, you lose all that in tenth grade. The adult world starts to reveal its secrets, but you are still dumb as hell, neurologically speaking, and— I mean, really, why do we allow fifteen-year-olds behind the steering wheel of a truck?

My first week of teaching tenth-grade English, I had a group of three girls approach me and start asking me questions about sex and pregnancy. It was basically a series of “Can you get pregnant if…” questions, and I tried not to be horrified as some of them told me they’d—wait for it—never had sex ed outside of the this-is-what-a-period-is and this-is-what-a-boner-is videos and a few handouts. But all these girls were sexually active, and it was clear even then that I wouldn’t be the one to talk them out of it, no matter how many times I said, “But tenth-grade boys are scientifically proven to be the grossest.” So, not yet familiar with what level of talk about sex would get me fired, I opted to say, “Just assume you can always get pregnant without protection.” And a year later, one of them did. Wah-wah.

Yes, I just wah-wah-ed teen pregnancy. Not sure what else there is to do about it if we’re too squeamish to actually teach them how to prevent it (“But that’s the place of the parents, not the school!” cries those who doesn’t understand generational poverty and the cycle of teen pregnancy).

Anyway, this goes to say that tenth grade is like an estuary where the freshwater of childhood meets the saltwater of adulthood but doesn’t necessarily mix. So it seemed like a wonderful age to make Jessica McCloud when her half-brother insists she starts discovering her miracles. It’s just miracles. No big deal, right? Welcome to adulthood, Jessica! Hope you’ve stretched out your rotator cuffs because here’s the weight of the world! But we all know you don’t have to be God’s only child to feel that way when you’re fifteen going on sixteen.

Is Jessica’s life a little chaotic in The Beginning? Yeah. But that’s all childhood. And It Was Good is where reality starts to rear its ugly head, and you know what teens do best when shit starts to get real? Resist it. Ignore it. Rebel. Because life is setting down some new ground rules, and they’re not mega fun ones. I still resent life for it, to be honest.

I don’t want to give away too much, though. If you want to see how the tender age of fifteen treats Jessica McCloud, it’s all there in And It Was Good.

Click here to buy And It Was Good on Amazon.

What was tenth grade like for you? Did you get to enjoy the glow of the Friday night lights? Let’s reminisce together in the comments!

Just The Beginning

Just popping in to announce that my new book, The Beginning, is launching today!

So yeah, this is a sales pitch, but if you read my blog, I think you’ll genuinely like what I’m trying to sell you. And for a limited time it’s only $0.99, so even if you don’t like it, you’ve probably spent a dollar on worse things. Much worse things. Things you wouldn’t tell even your closest friends, things that would haunt the dreams of any decent person…

Anyway, click the cover to download it out on Amazon.com.

jessica-christ-book-1-cover

Check it out! And if you like it, book 2 is already available for pre-order and will be out at the end of the month. Yeah, this month. And then book 3 will be out next month. Yeah, that month. See why I haven’t been posting lately? I’ve been writing and publishing three fucking books. And there are even more in the series that still need to be written and edited and formatted and published.

Shit. What have I gotten myself into?

Video

The Waffling, Ep. 4

PALEO EDITION!

Just another complete mess. The waffles were bad, the jokes are bad, my hair looks stupid, and at one point I burp on camera. If you were expecting anything more, you need to rewatch the first three episodes and get with the program.

 

Also, stop putting it off. Just join The Collective already.

Video

The Waffling, Ep. 3

Not every waffle can be a winner. Just like not every episode of The Waffling can be the high-quality entertainment you’ve come to expect from a gluten-intolerant jerk, alcohol, and iMovie.

I know, I’ve set the bar too high.

P.S. You’re already on my blog that I mentioned. Want to see what I wrote right after I finished both The Waffling and my fourth beer? Click here.