Tuesday, December 27, 2011

From Mulch Layer to Bestseller's List in 5 Days

That's right, "Let's Do Lunch" is still on the UK Bestseller's List (click here) even after 10 days of 'real' sales and a price bump. (The price bump was to get some borrows, which it did – I have 11 to date in the US.)

Starting at the beginning –
Amazon announced the Kindle Owners' Lending Library to Kindle owners and KDP Select to authors. Some of the Writer Boards started to scream immediately – because of the clause that states the book will be exclusive to Amazon for 90 days. But there are other issues.

1) It takes almost 90 days for an active book to come off Smashwords Premium Catalog – the vendors are so slow to make changes that 'Let's Do Lunch' is still on sale on most of them with the first cover.

2) The writers with the best sales aren't going to touch the program. They can't afford to go with the exclusive clause – they will likely lose more sales than they will gain.

3) They CAN afford to put one book into it – the first of a series for instance – as long as they aren't making a lot of money in a different market.
Amazon threw in a 'Freebie' option, where an author can make the book free for 5 days, at any time. KDP Select is now THE place to launch a book. Enroll it for 90 days, promote the hell out of it as a free book for 5 days – and NEVER need to make it a Dollar Dreadful.


A layer of Dollar Dreadful mulch at the bottom of the charts.

I had no such problems, I DO did have 2 dead e-books and a collection of short stories, and all my efforts to promote have been lost in 'the mulch layer' of Dollar Dreadful books.

Once I took "Let's Do Lunch" off Dollar Dreadful status (when I got the new cover) sales dropped to nothing and stayed there. The paperback was outselling it, with 3 online sales in a month and 13 face-to-face sales.


Then what happened?

The first day was a stunner – after months of single sales 2,740 e-books went out.
This is what my 5-day FREE run looked like.


USA
UK
DECEMBER
TOTAL
DAILY
TOTAL
DAILY
12/12/2011
1651
395
12/13/2011
2184
533
1169
774
12/14/2011
2601
417
2073
904
12/15/2011
2943
342
2464
391
12/16/2011
3265
322
2911
447
12/17/2011
3739
474
3375
464

GRAND TOTAL:  7,123 includes 7 German sales, 1 in France and 1 Spain.
What I'm most happy with is this – pulled off the website as of today (12/27/11).

This is the one from the 18th - isn't it cool?
  • UK Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #341 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store) 
  • #1 in Books > Fiction > Erotic > Adult Fiction 
  • #5 in Kindle Store > Books > Fiction > Romance > Romantic Suspense 
  • #5 in Books > Fiction > Romance > Thrillers & Suspense
"Let's Do Lunch" has dropped off the US charts into Mid-list territory, and 2 to 5 sales per day. (This is still FABULOUS!) There are 11 'borrowed' copies in the US. As of yet, there is no clue how Amazon is going to split up the $500k for this month.

This is the UK AMAZON listing for "Let's Do Lunch" which I put on the Kindle Select Program and then free for 5 days, ending Saturday.

The book was dead - I gave away 7.5k in a week. At the time of this writing the chart looks like this:

UK Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
#2,615 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#13 in Books > Fiction > Erotica > Adult Fiction
#24 in Kindle Store > Books > Fiction > Romance > Romantic Suspense
#26 in Books > Fiction > Romance > Thrillers & Suspense

The UK sales don't have a pattern yet, the average is 28 over 10 days.
The point is – for the US this is a sustainable level of sales. I'm off the mulch layer in to the 20k to 30k rank. I think the book can hold its own until the 'Swallow the Moon' paperback is ready to go.


The Halo Effect* – has it kicked in?

No.

There are no sales for "Impressive Bravado" (which is free just about everywhere) and "Swallow the Moon" (which is being pulled from all markets.)

I know these aren't halo sales because they were in the US, not the UK. I offered 'Swallow the Moon' free on Smashwords – got 1 d/l and 2 sales on Amazon US.
I'm doing some tweeting to let people know the books are out there. But, frankly, I'm not reaching anyone new, they've all seen this 100 times.


Is this a fluke?

No, my fellow Goodreads, Robust Group writers are having the same stunning results. Scales are different – Children's books and YA appears to hold strong after the free period ends. We are still waiting to see what happens for Dakota Franklin and Andrew McCoy.

Of course, now the BIG Boys have dropped in to play, Konrath and Crouch are offering free titles, possible through the same program. However, with their low prices, I don't think they are going to get a lot of borrows. Their sales will likely skyrocket…in their genre.

I have no fear they will take sales from my Romantic Suspense novel. (giggles)


How will this be paid?


Amazon Says:
"Your share of the Kindle Owners' Lending Library Fund is calculated based on a share of the total number of qualified borrows of all participating KDP titles. For example, if the monthly fund amount is $500,000 and the total qualified borrows of all participating KDP titles is 100,000 in December and if your book was borrowed 1,500 times, you will earn 1.5% (1,500/100,000 = 1.5%), or $7,500 in December."

My 18 borrows aren't going to pay that much. I'm looking a few dollars at best. I'm happy to had this chance to revive my dead book.

Amazon has been busting their butts to make it worthwhile for writer's to switch over, and we have flocked to their banner. They made early payments in December so authors could have money for Christmas. 

That was a HUGE gesture of goodwill.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

This should be interesting.

(Updated 1/8/12)

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Ashtabula Horror


I snagged a link to this video today because it is a great introduction to one of Ashtabula's greatest disasters. This is also as good a way as any to start talking about the second book in the Dark Harbor series.

So don't be surprised to see some links about Ashtabula here as I start collecting the background I need for the Dark Harbor series. 

All this ties together with my experiment with Kindle Select this way: the money from this month's sales are going to finance my trip(s) back to Ashtabula to do research.

I've got a camera, video equipment, a scanner, my laptop and a basic understanding of what happened. I'm going to need to take a look at the area so I can describe it later.

I'm going to need a place to stay and money to live on. As much as I would LOVE to stay at Cahill House in the Harbor, I don't think I can afford it. I'm going to have to camp out somewhere cheap.

Austinburg might be a good place to stay for a week or two. However, knowing what I do about Ashtabula's weather, I might want to do better than live in a tent. 

I'll give this more thought as time goes on.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Super Chickens!

I know, I'm being silly, there is nothing 'super' about my chickens.

But when I occasionally take a side trip to Google on the internet to look up eggs and raising chickens I see strange things. And I start to realize that my hen house is full of weird birds.

Like hens are supposed to molt in the fall and stop laying the rest of the winter, until the days lengthen.

The girls in my hen house slowed down in October. The Rhode Island Red hen that doesn't usually lay started laying. (I know it was her because her eggs are dark brown.) She gave me an egg a day for October and November then quit.

Meanwhile, the 3 Comets and 2 Barred Rocks molted and looked AWFUL. I pitied them - so I doctored their feed with minerals I usually save for the horses. Two pounds of horse feed doctored with a scoop of "Source" minerals.

The hens got in nice feathers, they looked shiny, so I gave them another dose. They get this mix with their regular oyster shells twice a week.

They started filling the nests up - I got 9 eggs in 2 days. Now I'm getting 4 eggs a day, in the middle of the winter, when they are supposed to be on vacation because there isn't enough daylight.

I don't have the heart to tell them to quit - even if they would listen. So I've got these eggs with extra thick shells that are more orange than an orange, or a carrot. According to some of the articles I've read, the food the hen eats has a tremendous affect on the Nutrients in the eggs (click here for more).

I gave a dozen to my parents. I figured if anyone needs to eat Super Eggs it's them.

I can't decide if it's in my best interest to fire up the incubator - to get more chickens, or to eat these eggs.

They make really good tasting cookies. Maybe that is a better use for them. Until the Holidays are over.

The saying goes "Make hay while the sun shines." Maybe I should eat the eggs while I'm getting them.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Old Dog and a Heating Pad

Hanging out on the heating pad - JR and Trouble


My oldest dog has a bad back. He's got a pinched disk, just like mine. We often snuggle together just for body heat. (Dogs are very warm.)

The other day I was on the heating pad, with some hanging over. Jr rolled onto the heating pad - and kinda melted in place.

Next thing I see, he's upside down, feet in the air, back planted on the heating pad.

If I ever get a photo, I'll post it here.

I know what I'm going to get him for Christmas - there are huge heated dog beds in some of the stores. I'm going to see what it will cost to get him one.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Sucking Sound of KDP Select

Mark Coker of Smashwords on Hufffington Post concerning the Amazon KDP Select program.

Long story short - Indie author sells soul (e-books) to Amazon's KDP select program in order to give their books away free for 5 days and a chance their book will remain visible and viable for the next 90 days and thereafter.

Who would do such a thing? Abandon Smashwords affiliate program (Apple, Kobo, Diesel, B&N and Sony) for a slim chance at jump-starting an other wise dead book - Indies are lining up.

According to the blogging grapevine  - 20k books have been taken off Smashwords, presumably to join the Amazon program. I don't blame them a bit.

Yes, that sucking sound is books being removed from other markets and enrolled in KDP Select.

"Let's Do Lunch" is among them.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Interior Format - Fail!

I've given up on formatting the interior of "Swallow the Moon" on my own.

My attention span is about 30 seconds long - and I can't seem to get anything finished. So I've decided to turn over the creation of the 'Swallow the Moon' paperback to Create Space.

Since I have the fabulous cover:


Yes, this is it. The only thing I can say is "WOW!" once again. As soon as I find out the page count, we are going to finish it up.

I wasn't going to rush this. However, I've discovered that paperbacks of 'Let's Do Lunch' are selling a few at a time. So I'm going to put myself in the position to take advantage of any sales that occur.

Stay tuned - I'll make the announcement in a few days.

Monday, December 5, 2011

New Cover!

I finally found the right artwork for this story by I. C. Talbot.

Mom writes women's fiction and chick-lit, so this has the right look. I may need to get a subscription to one of the big stock photo places to support all her stories.

Looks like it might pay off.

Barnes and Nobel - Turned Out

Amazon - Turned Out

Smashwords - Turned Out

Friday, December 2, 2011

Iditarod - The Last Great Race Reviewed

IditarodIditarod by Andre Jute
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rhodes and William take on the wilderness of Alaska during the Iditarod, the 'Last Great Race.'


A very good read - the imagery was wonderful. I found myself yearning to see Alaska, in spite of my better judgement (I hate snow and cold.)


I got a very real sense of the depth of the dangers Rhodes faced. I found it hard to believe she would go on the race without being armed to the teeth. That's just me. I get the creepy crawlies from listening to coyotes howl and yap. I'd want a high-powered rifle if there was a rumor of wolves.


The other characters were also well-drawn, everything fitted together very well.

I found it curious the characters hallucinated during the race. I didn't understand that at all. However that didn't detract from the story.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Raven Arrives in the Harbor

Van Man Go - Custom Painting




Van Man Go dropped the last pieces of his airbrush into the cleaning solvent. It was time for a beer and a smoke. He dipped his hands in solvent and scrubbed them off with a rag. He grabbed a beer before he sat down in wooden chair.

Not bad, he thought as he looked over his latest work. It was another tribute bike – this one was desert camouflage background and scenes from Iraq. The work was detailed and lifelike – all premo – just like all his work.
He looked around – it was 2 am – the bars on Bridge Street were closing down. There weren't as many bars as there had been, back in the Harbor's heyday of the 1980s. Not that he cared. So what if the street was turning into a tourist trap? His business did just fine – there were plenty of people who were willing to pay very well for his work.
There was a breeze off the lake – bringing in the smell of fish and faint whiff of storm sewer. A sleek black Camry pulled up, the engine raced once before it shut down.
He took a drag off his cigarette – no need for a pack – he had them whenever he wanted them; a perk, one of many, from his Bargain.
The Camry door opened, a man stepped out, young, arrogant with surfer looks and tourist's clothing. He sauntered across the parking lot, looking around with a slight curl on his lip. The Harbor was old, well over a hundred fifty years, and time had not been kind.
Van sneered, he knew trouble when it landed on his doorstep. This young pup had come from elsewhere, thinking to mark out some turf. Thinking it would be easy to make a name for himself in a small town. He wanted to be the big dog on the block. All well and good – but age and cunning would always win over youth and enthusiasm.
This should be entertaining.
"Hello," the newcomer said with a broad smile. "Jeff Raven, new in town." He took one look at Van's paint stained hands didn't offer to shake hands.
"Call me Van," he took a deep drag, and waited.
"Quaint place," Raven said. "I see that you're an artist." He approached the finished bike, whistling with appreciation.
"I dabble." Van hid his smile behind his cigarette.
"I'm a teacher." Raven studied the bike. "I'm teaching Humanities, Social Studies and Phys Ed, for the new High School."
"Is that what they call it, these days?"
"What?" Raven stood up, gave Van a narrow look. He looked down at himself, checked his hands for jewelry.
"I've been around long enough to know my own kind." Van snorted. "Have a seat, there's beer in the cooler." He pointed to the cooler, the chair moved from the shadows next to him, as if lifted by invisible hands. Raven paused for a moment, looking from the chair to Van.
"Great trick."
"I've got a million of them." Van gave him a dry chuckle. "What brings you to my turf, kid?"
Raven's cocky attitude came back. He grabbed the beer, straddled the chair, resting his hands on the back. "I wasn't aware this area was claimed."
"I've been around a long time." Van grinned. "Surely you've heard of me."
"Of course." Raven took a long swig of beer. "But you aren't taking advantage of the situation. A place like this has a lot to offer."
"Do tell?" Van took another drag. "I always appreciate an outsider's view of things."
"Poor town, lot's of young blood wanting what they can't have, and willing to Bargain to get it." Raven flashed a smile. "All those young girls yearning for love. Or ambitious enough to trade sex for good grades. Surely you can remember back that far?"
"Dropped out when I was sixteen." Van shrugged. "I learned how to make money and keep books, that was all I needed."
"Sure it was." Raven drank more beer. "You have what you want – I'm just looking for stray bits that might fall in my lap."
"Bullshit." Van flipped his cigarette at Raven's feet. "You're kind doesn't pull up stakes unless it's something really important."
Raven shrugged, eyeing Van for a moment.
"I lost something that belongs to me," he said. "I've tracked her here and I'm going to get her back."
"A woman?" Van took a deep pull on his beer. "It's always women with you young pups."
"She's a very special woman," Raven finished off his beer.
"Aren't they all?" Van laughed.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Free e-Book - 'Impressive Bravado'


Cover
When sales get slow - common wisdom says it's time to do a giveaway.
'Impressive Bravado' is a short story (7k words) about Dr. Katie McCarty DVM. She's a young veterinarian, fresh out of Ohio State University. She gets an early morning all call from Deputy Sheriff Shallamon concerning the unauthorized gelding (neutering) of a show horse named "Impressive Bravado."

Katie and Shallamon go to Hopkins' Stables. They encounter a 'horse whisperer' who calls herself 'Aquitania' and claims she can talk to horses. They also discover unsafe practices that have put the young girls at the barn in danger.

Katie looks into the incident - discovering a deep divide in horse show cliques that could explain the 'attack' on Bravado. However, Katie ends up wrestling with a berserk stallion - barely getting the animal under control after he kicks his owner, shattering her leg.

You can get a free copy at Barnes & Nobel : http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/impressive-bravado-k-a-jordan/1102629807

Or Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/60392

But the story is $.99 at Amazon US, UK, DE and FR: http://www.amazon.com/Impressive-Bravado-ebook/dp/B0053HA1LI

Monday, November 14, 2011

Getting Ready for Winter

We are very fortunate here in Kentucky - we have a very long fall.

In Ohio, they've already got inches and inches of snow. (Shudder!) Fall is over, winter is already entrenched. The north wind is already chilling Lake Erie and the shoreline. The Alberta Clipper and Siberian Express winds aren't far behind.

Here I've got a few more weeks to get hay in the barn. Even then the roads will stay fair (as in open and dry) for the most part. It is time for me to look at the next 3 months and ask what I want to accomplish.

We got a cord of wood today, oak and ash, plenty to keep the fire going all winter if I want. I don't usually have a fire every night - or during the day - unless I'm working on something, or having company over. My parents get chilled easily, so I like to start a fire when they will be over. Right now, the new wood is in the fireplace and it is burning slow, clean and fragrant.

I hate to sound like a city-girl, but I LOVE manufactured fire logs. The ones made out of pressed coffee smell the best. I can put one of those in to start, for a fire that burns 4 hours. Then I can let it burn out, another hour to cool, and shut the flue.

My first priority is a barn full of hay. The second will be 4 bales of straw for Chicken World. The last thing I want to make those birds do is spend a winter in mud. So 4 bales will cover the ground to a depth of about 4 inches. Raising the floor above the water line. The birds will be cold, but they will be dry.

On winter days when it's wet and nasty outside, I will let the flock loose in the barn. They will scratch around in the horse stalls, fluffing the shavings. Handy creatures, chickens, all that scratching gets rid of bug larva, and any spilled grain. The rodents have less to eat, so they are bolder, which feeds the cats. That's why I want to keep a few chickens. But more than a dozen is crazy-making.

I'm already looking into the holidays - which isn't something I usually do until last minute. Last year, with my husband in and out of the hospital I was barely functional. I holed up here in the house and hardly left. (This year, while still stressful, isn't quite as traumatic...knock on wood.) The Christmas tree wouldn't have happened, except my sister decorated it after Thanksgiving Dinner.

I'm going to take Thanksgiving week off, hoping to get some seasonal decorating done - as well as Christmas. IMO a perfectly decorated house has a harvest theme that ties in with Christmas. Lots of fruit and evergreen decorations that can stay up longer than the Christmas tree. Not that I have any hope of perfection...I've just got goals. LOL (If you believe that I've got some land in Florida to sell you.)

This has turned into an unexpectedly pleasant evening.

One digression: I'm going to need to move the couch closer to the fireplace. (All fantasy/historical writers take note!) Fires need to be tended, constantly. Logs must be turned every few minutes in order for them to burn evenly. Some wood pops - sending sparks out in arcs, the narrow modern hearth is only possible because we use firescreens. Otherwise carpeting would catch fire all the time.

So if you have characters spending a pleasant evening on a bear-skin rug in front of the fire - trust me - they are going to spend as much time tending the fire as each other. Either that or the fire will go out and they will freeze. And don't get me started on what a 'roaring' fire would do - it will send out sparks. The bearskin would be up in flames, totally ruining the mood.

Oops!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

University of Perversion

If just one thing can come from the horrendous criminal activity at Penn State, let it be that the 'glamour' comes off of the ego-driven world of College Sports.

"Son Was Afraid to Say 'No'"

Of course the child was afraid - Paterno and Sandusky were given God-status. They were men with unlimited status and power in the world of College Sports. Obviously they weren't shy about exploiting it, either.

There wasn't anyone who would refuse them anything. Penn State certainly didn't - look at the near riots because someone dared nail them for their crimes. So how could children stand up to those men?

It seems to me that there is way too much money spent on college sports. Yes, I like to watch an occasional baseball or football game. However, my preference is to watch them as games - fun and exciting for the kids who play. The whole 'bread and circuses' mentality is revolting.

The industry that sucks in kids, churns out egotistical athletes and often cripples them, does not deserve the worship it gets. (Or the money thrown at it.) The mad culture of multi-million dollar sports contracts are the feeding ground for the corrupt, the drug-addicted, the gambler and now the child-rapist.

Colleges are industries of higher learning. Yes, industries - I've been to college it's a racket. Overpriced books, pitiful living conditions, insane instructors, the loan-sharking and crushing debt that students must put up with.

Most high schools teach a very limited few and warehouse the rest - inner-city schools are the worst - I went to one. There isn't enough money in the state budgets for the schools that need money. Why not? Because it goes to college sports.

Why don't we cut 75% of the money out of college sports and...I don't know...spend it on Education, maybe?

The country needs educated and intelligent citizens. It doesn't need ignorant, egotistical, emotionally-crippled, drug-addict men who rape children in the name of Sports.


Take their money, take their power - give it to those who will use it for the common good.


They abused what they were given, take it from them.

It's OUR tax dollars.

I'll get off my soap-box - for now.

Book Review - Iron Shoes

Iron ShoesIron Shoes by J. Kathleen Cheney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good story about the Irish Fair Folk in the USA. A clean, well-written romance I enjoyed reading.


View all my reviews

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Filed Under - 'Don't Do it Again'

Just got back from the E-town flea market where I dropped off a truckload of chickens. (Yes, they were in cages. LOL)

Spent an hour chasing them down this morning. Thank God I had sense enough to lock them into the barn 2 days ago when they congregated on their own. Otherwise I'd STILL be out there with the chicken hook and a net.

This was my first experiment with raising chickens for meat. Out of 3 dozen birds there were only 11 left. What a waste of effort and money! Not going to do this again, unless I end up having to raise our own food. (Hope it doesn't come to that!) If that happens I've got a hatchet, I won't starve.

What am I going to get out of this? 3 dressed birds. So it wasn't a total loss - these birds just cost me $20 each. (rolling eyes)

Over the summer they've crapped all over the barn. Everything needs swept and raked. I hope they didn't have lice...well all chickens have lice, it's just a matter of how many lice.

This week I'm going to sell the drakes to my friend at the Chinese restaurant. That will bring the duck population down to 3, a drake and 2 hen ducks.

The chicken population has been halved - all that's left are the hens. The red hens are going next, which should leave me with 6 Dominques, (2 roosters & 4 hens), 2 Barred Rock hens and 2 Brahma hens.

I might sell the Dominques and get a few more Brahmas. They are a larger, meatier bird that should dress out better than the skinnier Barred Rocks.

There isn't any money in eggs, unless I get like $4 a dozen. At $3 a dozen I'm paying for feed. Meat birds are throwing good money after bad (as they say.) Ducks are my money makers...one hen can hatch 3 batches of 12 to 25 ducklings a year. With 6 duck hens I can make $200 a year in profit. Should I raise them, I get about $7 a drake, and $5 for 2 ducklings.

The dumbest thing I ever did was switch from Moscovie ducks to chickens.

Live and learn.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Scrivener - the Word Processor for Writers

Like all writers, I've got a hard drive full of puzzle pieces - notes, photos, quotes, character sketches, plot points, calendars and so forth.

Referencing them is a chore - but what day did that even happen? And what was that character's motivation again??

A few days ago I saw a post on 'The Passive Voice' blogs about a program for writers called Scrivener. It is a converted Mac program - which will tell you that it is heavy on the visuals.

Literature and Latte.com is the home of this curious creature - a combination database and word processor that will 'print' a document to e-Pub or PDF OR it will keep all your research in a single file.

For example: The Dark Harbor Series

I have photos of the Harbor, the Iroquois, Mother of Sorrows Church scattered on my hard drive. I also have notes on haunted places in Ashtabula - Chestnut Grove cemetery and the Great Train Disaster. I've got sites saved, somewhere on my messy Favorites or Bookmarks in 3 different browsers.

Scrivener allows me to paste ALL that information under 'Research' which has a cute little cork board where all this stuff is visible at a glance.

I've only had this marvelous toy for a few days. Long enough to spend a couple hours sorting the Dark Harbor series notes into something I can actually GET when I want it.

What if I had the cover art, advertising blurbs, author bio of all my books on a cork board where I could see it, cut  it and paste it? Wouldn't that make it easier than clicking through folders, thinking 'where DID I put that?'

Even if it proves to be too unwieldy for finishing up a novel, a cork board is a great place to store ideas, darlings, web addresses and photos.

Oh, yeah the cork board becomes an outline as soon as you click a different button, and I can move scenes around by drag and drop. I can also label chapters 'first draft,' 'revised draft,' or 'final draft' so I can see what needs work and what is farther along.

All this and a bag of chips - for the reasonable price of $40.

I'm in love!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

First Book Signing - Nov 12, 2011

Yep - that's right.

I'm doing my first book signing in E-town. This is really strange feeling. I got a hair cut and my eyebrows done today to get ready.

Now I've got to figure out what to wear.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How Times Have Changed

The Fate of the LA Cafe
There was a time when Bridge Street was known as the Barbary Coast of the Great Lakes. The yacht club posted a sign: "Do Not Go On Bridge St. After Dark!"

Which was back in the days when there were 10 or 11 bars - and a couple of little shops - and Bridge Street was the Skid Row of Ashtabula.

How times have changed.

Now Bridge Street is the center of Ashtabula's commerce and tourist trade. The Harbor is only vital area in a dying city.

The LA Cafe` is one of the last bastions of the 'Old Harbor.' In the 80's it was the Circle J - with the same reputation it has now - the rowdiest bar on Bridge Street. Trouble flowed from there like water from a sewer - the Saturday Night Fights featured knives, tire irons and chains as blood feuds played out on the sidewalk and into the street.

So you can imagine my amusement at the video above.

It has taken 100 years for Bridge Street to shed it's unsavory reputation.

I'm very glad to see this.

But I still think it's hilarious.

Holy Paperbacks - Captain Marvel!

I know, I know - Ms Kitty is giddy. Haven't been hitting the catnip, I swear!

Signed for 20 copies of 'Let's Do Lunch' yesterday and am still feeling the buzz. Sold and signed the first copy to the new owners of the restaurant - The Old Vault Deli is the actual place.

The Deli on the Square in E-Town
This is one of those cute little places that sticks in the mind because it is so small and the food is good.

The new owners and the former owners were there yesterday when I presented the book to Sofia.

I'm more interested in telling a good story than standing in the spotlight. Still it is a lot of fun to sit in the restaurant and think of my characters acting out the story. I've got a few reservations about how the book will be received, but I've not heard any complaints yet.

Monday, October 31, 2011

I Have a Plan - Really

Now that 'Let's Do Lunch' is officially on sale, I've got time to do a bit of planning.

My editing project is almost finished. NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow.

I've got a few more things to do - StM needs to be a paperback - that should be smoother than LDL because the file isn't as old and was copy-edited.

I've made progress at home, too.

Been getting rid of paper clutter that goes back to...are you ready for this?...1979.

Holy Paper cuts, Captain Marvel! That's - 4 decades! Scary, isn't it?

This is what I pulled from the paper basket yesterday:

Yes, the first flyer from the first Harbor Happening!

Is that crazy or what?

I told you I had a boat load of paper hidden around my house. I wasn't kidding. It is going to take a very long time to sort through it.

I think I'm going to scan a lot of it, save it to PDF files and post it to Facebook and a few other places. That way other people can find it and use it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

'Let's Do Lunch' - the Paperback!



It's true!

As of today - "Let's Do Lunch" is on sale here, as a trade paperback, with nice BIG print! I'm thrilled!

Now can I bug all my friends until they buy it? (Evil Ms Kitty asks slyly.)

No, that's not what it means. (K. A. Jordan replies.)

I can buy copies and sell them at craft shows and flea markets. I can have book signings. I can do all the things 'real' authors do to hock promote their books.

In about a week, the book will be on Amazon.com - in the general population of books. As a reminder - here is the blurb:


Restaurant owner Lindsey Bennett is caught between two men, one will tease her, the other will use her; both are capable of killing.

A business owner at the mercy of her employees, Lindsey Bennett owner of the restaurant "Let's Do Lunch," finds her employees have no mercy. When Lindsey drops everything to be her injured mother's caregiver, relying on her sister to run the restaurant proves to be a mistake. Lindsey's trusted cook quits, the new cook changes the menu, her sister hires a waitress who can't run a register and money comes up missing. When a bug gets in a customer's food, Lindsey could lose it all! Somebody should get fired. Once she's back in charge, Lindsey finds that hiring is easier than firing.

More problems arise with the men in her life. Her new chef Brandon Pendleton – smart, sexy, fast living: he's the life of every party. Sergeant Kevin "Tag" McTaggart – handsome, aloof, this wounded warrior's blue eyes see into the depths of her soul. One will tease her until she gives up all her secrets. The other is out to use her and her restaurant.

Surrounded by criminals, deceived on all sides, and catapulted from crisis to crisis, can Lindsey stay focused? Her restaurant and her life are at stake
.


I can put into words just how cool this is!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Organized? Who, Me?

I am one of the millions of people who lost their jobs. Yet I've got a full time job just taking care of my family, the house, the farm and my writing. Add to that some family health issues and you have utter chaos.

I've been struggling to put everything in order and in good repair - in and out of the house. I've succeeded in a few areas: the house, the barn and the grounds. Where I'm having the most trouble is in maintenance.

I'll bet I'm not the only person out there who has this problem!

While I'm not a hoarder, I could become one easily, it runs in the family. So the place is cluttered with lots of stuff. We aren't knee deep in it - yet - but I can see it coming.

While I'm not ready to endorse my sources - after all I might not be able to keep it up - I can talk about the methods.

One thing I've been taught is to break things down into steps. I also wrote S.O.P.s for ISO9000 quality control. Never figured out how to put it into action in my life. I've always muddled through using paper calendars and making notes to Office Calendar.

This time - I've made up some 3"x5" cards with my weekly chores on them. Breaking up the work load into days of the week. Just one or two chores a day instead of trying to do them all on Saturday and Sunday. There is a card for each horse, too.

Meal planning is where I'm the least organized. So I eat a lot of fast food (don't we all?) and carry a lot of extra weight.

I know for a fact that 'dieting' isn't going to work for me. It needs to go deeper than that - a life style change is required but not all at once. Not while I'm carrying a stress load of 10 on a daily basis.

I sat down last night and wrote the things I usually cook on index cards. There are about 15 different meals. That require varying amounts of cooking time. I've got 'fast' food in the freezer for backups - fish sticks and shaved steaks. As time goes on I'll add another card or two, seasonal stuff.

The cards are merely there to jog my memory, not run my life. Rotating chores, rotating meals, so I'm not stuck thinking 'what's next?' or 'when was the last time I did that?'

This experiment has been going on for two weeks. I keep adding to it - this week I divided the house into zones. Instead of trying to clean the entire house in a day, I have a month and every room gets a turn.

In just 14 days the bathroom is cleaner, the kitchen is cleaner. The dishes are done on a regular basis - and most importantly - my kitchen sink is clean and shiny.

This just might work.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

State of the Croft


I've got a bunch of projects that I'm working on - I thought I'd do an update.

'Let's Do Lunch' - 
I have sent in the corrections to the first proof. A second proof should be on it's way. I don't think I'll find any more typos in it. So may as well say the First Run of 20 copies should be in hand by Halloween.

As soon as I have copies in hand, I'm going to look into ways to promote the book locally. There may be a book signing or two in my future. Or I might take it to a craft fair - having cards with Smashwords Coupons to either give away or sell at a discount.

Sales are stalled - which is disappointing. I thought after the spectacular July we had things would start chugging along. Not a chance. There have been 6 sales at full price. Which is better than a dozen sales at Dollar Dreadful prices.

'Swallow the Moon' - now a Dollar Dreadful 
The interior is 50% finished for the paperback. The cover is ready. As soon as I get the interior finished it can go to Create Space to be printed.

This book is going to be promoted on the Ashtabula websites as well as locally. I'm looking to have it finished by the first of the year.

Meanwhile, sales of 'Swallow the Moon' have doubled. (snicker) Last month I sold 2 copies, this month I've sold 4 (with 1 return). The price is currently $.99 - until the end of October, unless there is a sudden surge in sales.

I've heard from one reviewer who has the book in que to read and review. However, though I've sent out 33 free copies, 9 to reviewers, some way back before the book was first published in July - there have been only a couple reviews.

'Doyle Road Bridge' - I. C. Talbot collection
I've got 30% of this finished. There are about 10 more stories to go in it.

Impressive Bravado -
I really got bit in the tush by the old formatting of this story. It took 3 'nukes' to get all the formatting errors out. Then I uploaded the Amazon Master to Smashwords which gummed up the distribution channel. The story is going out as a freebie with an ISBN because it 'sold' 82 copies on Barnes and Nobel which might have fueled the rash of sales I enjoyed this summer.

It is worth trying this again - this time knowing it will take 6 months to get any feedback. Having a freebie is a 'tried and true' sales technique that doesn't stick in my craw.

The Chicken Project - 
While the girls are still producing eggs on a regular basis - I have no time to take the eggs to market. There are about 6 dozen in the fridge. I need to start giving them away.

I've still got at least a dozen roosters running all over the place. I need to sell them, or something. I'd like to eat the dratted birds, but Hubby won't eat a fresh bird. I can't bring myself to kill them. It's a problem.

The laying flock also needs to go. I've just got too many chickens. They are great looking birds in great shape. But they are eating me out of house and home.

The New Website - 
This project is dead in the water. When I read the contract, there was no mention of the services promised beyond the splash page. There was a page of disclaimers that made this a major concern.

I've got a real problem with a company that has a full page of 'fine print' and one line of 'services' on the previous page. It looks suspicious. At best it is careless, the company is more interested in protecting themselves from client than in providing services.

Besides the fact I'm 'over-the-hill' - 
I'm desperately trying to get organized. I've joined something called "Flylady" to help coach (or coax) me into getting my sh!t together. After years of family health problems - Hubby is still in and out of the hospital - I'm chronically disorganized and nearly stressed to death.

I may write a full blog post on this in the near future. I now have an office - outside the home - in an effort to get my writing projects finished. It has been priceless to get a few hours of focused time for my writing. I would still be struggling to get 'Let's Do Lunch' into print if I hadn't taken this space.

So that's what's happening in my little section of the world.

How is your fall going?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Half-Century? Seriously?

Yes, really.

Today is my birthday - I'm a half-century old.

I only feel that old in the morning - getting up can be a bitch some days. Lately, with all the chaos, my brain feels much older than my body. Not a good feeling at all.

Screw that.

It's not the age, it's the mileage, and trust me, this body has a lot of wear and tear. This year I had my first tangle with cancer - skin cancer - a small spot that wouldn't heal. Had it removed and all is well. Still, it scared the hell out of me.

I've got two published novels - and they sell a few copies here and there. I've still got the old mare, the dogs and my husband. I've been married for 10 years and lived through some very hard times.

I think it is utterly fascinating to watch 'Occupy Wall Street' after seeing the protests against the Vietnam War and for Civil Rights. The hippies are gathering because this is all about the Republican tax cuts financed by cuts in social services.

There may be a 'Conservative Movement' after this, but I doubt it. We are seeing the end of the GOP's perceived power. The people are rising up against the government's refusal to do anything for them.

I'm very happy to see it happen this year. It has renewed my faith in the Cosmic Balance.

Happy Birthday to my cousin and me!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Game of Musical Dogs

Frizbie the Bitchen' Frizzy

Often animals come into our lives in different ways.

Frizzy is a little white fluffy dog, kinda cute, in that lapdog way. Since he's been here he has learned a proper Terrier bark. Not his normal high-pitched, ear-piercing yap, but a deeper bark that sounds exactly like Trouble. It is uncanny.

He's the only dog in the bunch who is utterly clueless. I've got two Jack Russel Terriers and a JRT, Mini-pin, Chihuahua and Beagle mix. All three are much smarter than Frizzy.

For instance - Mocha the Mutt wants on my lap, but a dog is already there. She goes looking for his favorite toy, or a chewy, gets up on the couch, plays with it to get his interest, then drops it to the floor.

The other dog is supposed to jump after the toy, so Mocha can curl up in my lap.
JR will simply look at her, unless it is his ball. Then he HAS to get it.

Trouble fell for this trick - over and over - until he figured it out. Now he will get up if he's in the mood to play. Otherwise he stays put.

Frizzy hasn't figured it out yet. He falls for it every time. So he doesn't get a lot of lap time. No sooner does he settle in than Mocha will dig up something interesting and toss it to the floor.

Poor dumb Frizzy - he hasn't got a chance. The Jacks are too smart for him.

If I hold still, they will play musical dogs all day. Some times I will watch TV and have a different dog in my lap every time I look down. It's a little disconcerting.

Company gets the same treatment. You sit down, you have a lap, therefore you will have a dog in your lap in short order.

My mother can't sit down without having a dog on each side of her. She gets aggravated at Trouble because he always wants to lick her face. (I can't stand it either, I've seen them wolf down horse turds. No dog is going to lick my face.)

JR is the worst one for Mom to deal with because he's the heaviest and he leans on her. She doesn't want to pet him, but she doesn't have much choice.

Oddly enough she never tells the dogs to get off the couch.

I tell them 'off' quite often, only Mocha slinks away like she's been punished.  But she's dominant anyways, she needs to be told.

This canine ritual comes in handy when you have company. If the person is upset about something - they will have a dog to pet and they will calm down.

It never fails.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Face of a Mouser

Look at that face.

That bright-eyed look is how he got his name. I took one look at that face and knew what I had in my arms.


Trouble - aka 'little booger' - as in 'what're you up to now, you li'l booger?'


First a bit of history - terriers are varmint dogs. They were bred to kill rats, small game and dig varmints out of the ground. Back in the days of the Plague, ratting dogs were prized. They are better rat catchers than cats. My first terrier - Rowdy was a pit bull/schnauzer who understood about 200 words, including 'get the rat' and 'take it outside.'

(When I lived in Ashtabula Harbor, we had wharf-rats that came in off the ore freighters. The damn things were bigger than cats!)

Jack Russel's are always up for a hunt or a game of ball all day, every day. They've got the prey drive of a barnyard terrorist. A Jack that doesn't want to play is sick. (This bit of knowledge saved Trouble's life when he came down with Parvo.)

Some Jacks are nuts - some are scary smart. Trouble is a cuddly bundle of muscle and 'git 'er done' that would do a pit bull proud.

Now that the weather has changed, we have mice in the house. You would think that with four small dogs, two of them Jacks, there wouldn't be a problem. But mice are stupid.

For the last two weeks, I've been hearing a mouse and seeing droppings. I've even spotted the dratted rodent scampering across the floor. He's always gotten away.

Last night he was all over the living room. I called the dogs twice, but JR's back is bothering him. He's my old Jack, the one who cleared the house of mice and the barn of rats the first time we had problems. He's the only one who knows what 'get the mouse' means.

It was just getting light, my coffee was brewing when I heard the mouse. I had Mocha the Mutt at my feet while I read my e-mail. The mouse was flopping around under the corner cabinet.

I called Mocha to follow me as I investigated. She stuck her nose under the cabinet and started to bay. (Of the 8 breeds she's got in her background beagle is one of them.) Trouble and the Frizzy came over to see what she was baying about.

Once Trouble started digging at the tile, I knew it was under there. So I started emptying the cabinet. When I could move the cabinet - Trouble threw himself into the corner.

There was a scramble, a moving shadow and a snap.

Trouble vanished (I assumed with the mouse) the other dogs were left to sniff around. I put them outside.

There was no sign of Trouble.

The whole point of having a varmint dog is that the dead varmints go in the trash. Now, how do I tell Trouble that he was a good dog and take his prize away?

This was Trouble's first legitimate trophy. But I didn't want him to eat it, because I've got poison out, or worse yet, leave it somewhere I couldn't get it.

Without the other dogs around, it was easier. Once I found Trouble, under my bed, I was determined he wasn't going to leave that carcass to rot under there. A few 'go outside' commands later, he was holding the mouse in his mouth, and out from under my bed.

Now what?

I did the only thing I could think of - I offered him a cookie.

"Wants a cookie?"

Mouse spilled from both sides of his jaw. Those bright eyes looked at me and his head tilted to one side. He walked with me to where I keep the treats.

I dug out a big one - showed it to him.

"Wants a cookie?"

Tilted head - the dilemma presented itself. He couldn't take the cookie with a mouse in his mouth.

I put my hand under his jaw, put the cookie in the right place.

"Wants a cookie?"

His little black tail wagged once. He slowly let go of the mouse, and very politely took the cookie.

Now that's a good dog!

Friday, September 30, 2011

TEASER ALERT! Part II

I've shown you the first photo - now here is the second photo!

Are you ready?


This is the Suzuki Hyabusa - one of the most deadly motorcycles in the world.

It is infamous for being the leading cause of death of Marines stationed in the US.

So we have a very pretty, but relatively harmless reptile - and a fast and deadly motorcycle.

What happens when we put them together? I'll show you tomorrow!

TEASER ALERT!

Yes, my friends I've got an announcement for YOU!

While I'm not a liberty to reveal anything YET - stay tuned to this channel!

Here is your first hint!

This is a color variation of an albino Burmese Python

Monday, September 26, 2011

Are Indie Books Winding Down? - Maybe So

Since I'm in the middle of writing my 3rd novel 'Tempest in a Teapot' I've not had the time for blogging. I've seen quite a bit that I want to comment on.

Indie Publishing

Some say it's the industry's first shake down - others 'just another summer slow season.' What you see depends on who you are.

I think it is a trend.

The Word on the Indie boards is that sales are very slow. Many Indies are talking about packing it up. Other's are throwing their books into the Dollar Dreadful Ghetto just to bump some numbers.

There are, of course, hundreds of newbies for every 'dropout.' Alas for the Indies - back-list continues to appear. So readers are picking up their favorite authors.

It's not just Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Katherine Rusch, Bob Mayer and Andre Jute dusting off their old books. It's EVERYONE with a lick of sense and a few out-of-print published books in storage.

It is the law of supply and demand in action. When there wasn't a supply of 'known' authors, the 'un-known' did very well for themselves. Now with the flood of 'name' authors with new and back-listed titles the average Indie is not able to compete.

This may well lead to the deepening of the pool of  Dollar Dreadful e-books. If Indie books aren't able to compete on the level playing field with quality, cheap prices may be all they have.

The Christmas Season

The Christmas Season looms - millions of i-Pads, Kindles, Kindle-tablets, Nooks, Color Nooks, mini-Nooks, Sony readers packed with Harry Potter books, and the stalwart Kobo are waiting to be shipped to stores for Black Friday.

I predict that Black Friday will be the big sales boost to e-books as it always is for retail. It might take a week for it to echo out, but that is the day for every Indie to hold out for.

Enjoy it, my friends, because it's going to be the last hurrah for the Indie Author.

This next wave of sales is going to signal the end of the Indie Author Boom. By this time next year there will more back-list titles than Indie titles. That will the end of the Indie 'Revolution' because the supply of back-list will meet the demands of readers.

The Indie market will pop, like all bubbles.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Killing the Sacred Cows - One Got Away

I pulled up my RSS feed yesterday - wondering what I was going to find in Dean Wesley Smith's folder.

It was an installment of 'Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing' - I rubbed my hands together with glee. Then I noticed it was the AGENT Myth.

I dropped every thing  I was doing to read it.
Series Note: I am now working on updating each chapter and putting together this book, finally, after over 100,000 words that started back in 2009. So I am updating each chapter and putting it up here now for those who have not seen them.   

However, since I started this series, agents and what they are doing in publishing has changed dramatically. In fact, things have changed so dramatically since I started this book concerning agents, I am not, repeat, not going to include the agent posts as reprints here.
Why? Can’t stomach it is why...
I understand that. I can't stomach the propaganda any more myself.

For me, as I said many, many times - it started with #QueryFail. My first, and I hope my last, glimpse into the mind of the Slush Pile Bees - who ridiculed and sneered their way into my brain forever.

They had nothing but contempt for the people who created their jobs. It was a level of unprofessionalism that I've never seen before - and I've seen some very bad shit.

However, DWS had some really good advice:

My Suggestion of What to DoThe publishing business is changing so fast and so quickly, I doubt agents will be of value to most writers in two years.So just do it yourself for two years.
It has changed. Agents have gone from being the God-like Gatekeepers to being con-wo/men who will take your money for something you can do better yourself - like self-publish.

I'm slowly working my way backwards from a global marketing campaign to a local one. Just like my friends at Year Zero, I'm going ahead with readings on the local level, while having the books out globally.

To that end, I will be reading part of 'Swallow the Moon' at Moonlight Serenity Bath Products the second Saturday in October.

Unfortunately, I won't have any paperback books to sell. But I might be able to collect email addresses so I can send out notice when I have them.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I Hate Math – Here's Why

The dreaded science of Mathematics again raises it's ugly head as Dean Wesley Smith makes the case for the $4.99 Indie Novel. 


Good GAD! The Indie roof may fall in. The culture of the 'Dollar Dreadful' has become entrenched - so I doubt even DWS's persuasive voice can be heard above the din. The pressure to sell low is difficult to resist when you're head is in the Indie Ghetto. There it's all about numbers. Selling 1k books gets you into the '1k Sales a Month Club' and $350 in royalties. But if you raise your price to $2.99 you can make $2050.

Dean's got a heck of a point.

Add up the cost of rent, electricity, Internet and add the day-to-day cost of living - $.35 an e-book just doesn't cut it for anyone except a hobby writer or someone with a 'Comet' type book. There are 'Comets' out there – but they appear to be burning out.

Even for a hobby writer - cover art and a copy editor can set you back $300 to $500 per book. You must sell 1430 books at $.99 to pay back a $500 investment. Maybe you don't mind. But for the low-end that's not a lot of payback at $.99. More reasonable is selling 245 books at $2.99 to pay back that $500 in vestment.

Something is wrong when you see a $.99 sale and cringe inside. 

To be comfortable in my own skin, I've got 'Let's Do Lunch' for sale at $3.50 and 'Swallow the Moon' is $4.95 therefore 'Impressive Bravado' a short story is $.99.

These prices are fair in the Real World.

In the Indie Ghettos these prices are very high. At this point you have to ask yourself - to whom am I marketing this e-book? Ghetto mentality comes from a culture. Every forum has a culture – every social network has a culture. The culture of the Dollar Dreadful is deeply entrenched in the Indie Ghettos.

The reasoning behind the Dollar Dreadful.

The Indie Ghetto is a mishmash of newbie writers with skill levels that vary so wildly that 'established writers' blow up about them on a regular basis. In this Goodreads.com forum, called 'Robust' member Larry started this topic: Wannabees Threaten E-Book Market Growth.
"ARRGH! My hope is that EBooks will prove to be the salvation for all the authors that turn out quality books, but failed to meet the marketing parameters of traditional publishers at any given moment. BUT...

That potential could easily be destroyed by wannabees who have no idea of plot structure, grammar, punctuation or genre guidelines. For those who haven't a clue, each genre has certain parameters that must be followed in order to appeal to faithful readers. Those who fail to do so risk a monumental waste of time by producing an unsaleable work. If that were the only problem, it wouldn't matter, but it's not the biggest problem.
He's looked at the Dollar Dreadful and has nearly blown a gasket. I have nothing but empathy for Larry on one hand – and utter outrage at his arrogance on another. Some of what he says is true.

"The wannabees feel they don't have to conform to the well-established genre guidelines. Guidelines that have evolved over decades to meet the demands of readers rather than the plot structure whims of wannabees who are endeavoring to create anarchy out of a respected profession that stems to the days of Homer and beyond."

True – the average Dollar Dreadful is a book that doesn't fit within Genre Guidelines. But, to be fair, it is damn hard to find said Guidelines in print anywhere besides on Harlequin or a related site.

Where he starts annoying me is the part about 'evolved over decades' which implies that the mysterious Literature Fairy has made them Sacred. NEVER to be changed.
What REALLY chaps my tush is 'a respected profession that stems from the days of Homer and beyond.' Obviously, Larry wasn't online for '#queryfail – when agents heaped ridicule and scorn upon the writers' custom crafted queries.

When the gatekeepers hate you, you are NOT being respected. So, unfortunately, your Ivory Tower of Sacred Literature falls apart – from within. This is where the rebellion began, with sneering slush-pile bees guarding publishers in their Ivory Towers.

The oldest professions aren't respected.

The pulp fiction tradition is that of the fresh and different. Yes, it's not yet 200 years old, that's because it is the product of fast printing and cheap paper. Or in this case – no paper. Like the Penny Dreadful of the last century or so – the Dollar Dreadful has its place in pop-culture – not in Art & Literature.

So what does this have to do with pricing? I'm not sure. I've digressed from self-publishing to self-worth. Maybe it's because I'm a newbie – trying to break out of the Indie Ghetto. But I see the Dollar Dreadful as springing from the compost of literary bullshit, into the arms of pop-culture who is embracing it.

Money talks!

PS – Buy my book, 'Swallow the Moon.' It is a kick-ass ghost story – filled with creepy, scary moments that will make you shiver – and a couple of sizzling scenes that will warm you back up.

Swallow the Moon – Profile Page with sample chapters and links.