Funny about Money

Simple Living = Frugality = Peace of Mind: Personal Finance and Stress Control

July 22, 2016
by funny
1 Comment

Amazon Update

So the Kindle people write back and insist they can’t see any sign of my having set up a sale for the 30 Pounds / 4 Months book, in spite of the fact that I’m quite sure I did so.

Ugh. I am simply too discouraged to fart with this any more. Life is too short.

But I will ask Wonder E-Book Dude (whose work gets more amazing every time you turn around — this guy is AMAZINGLY good, especially if you have an ebook with complex formatting or with images)…yes, E-Book Dude if he will please convert the cookbook to ePub suitable for Smashwords. Then I can get it up on a lot of venues beyond Amazon, and after that I’ll start trying to plump it through face-to-face contact and selling hard copy in outlets other than bookstores.

And now here’s SDXB, bringing a halt to any further work for the next few hours. ‘Bye!

July 21, 2016
by funny
3 Comments

Day’s end…at last…almost

Oh, god…have i ever been this tired?

God to Puling Human: Well. Yes. Of course you have. What are you going on about?

Up at 4:30. Write today’s rant. Post it on the one Facebook writers’ group I’ve found that seems to be pretty darned good. Fiddle with the pool. Shower in the backyard hose, wash chlorine out of hair. Feed dogs. Bolt down breakfast.

Paint face. Throw on clothes. Put up damp hair. Fly out the door to Scottsdale. Sit through meeting.

Excused from buying new picture frame by son, who found one in his garage to replace the one that broke when it fell off the wall. Convenient, because it means I don’t have to hang around Paradise Valley after the meeting until Aaron Bros opens at 10 a.m.

Stop at Sprouts to buy a couple of grocery items on the way home. Starved: cook up some pasta as a snack.

La Maya invites me over to talk, lunch, and paint (or, in my case, draw).  Get a little work done here and then head to her place. Have incredible RM food (RM: that would the Real Mexican) for lunch, beside self with joy. Discuss life, the universe, and all that, “all that” including politics, academia, business, and art.

She suggests that where marketing is concerned, the better part of valor is face-to-face contact, NOT social media. Together we dream up the idea that I should approach Changing Hands, the only independent bookstore that still thrives in the Valley, and offer to do a workshop (they throw these things all the time) on some aspect of self-publishing. In the act, I peddle my wares to the attendees.

We also propose that I should compile another bookoid, to be produced in PoD format and distributed at these proposed shindigs, that would be filled with tips for writers and self-publishers. I realize I already have enough material to generate such a creature. Easily.

Furthermore, we consider the possibility that I should offer a service course along the same lines for one of the local junior colleges. This, she suggests, would create a small market for all the non-naughty bookoids (we think the naughty ones had better not be suggested to the minions of the local community college district): chances are good that most of the students would buy the things, especially if they could be offered at a deep discount for a week or two during the courselet’s duration.

This, I think, is an exceptionally good idea. Especially if one of the bookoids is the proposed compendium of writing tips. 🙂

Back at the Funny Farm, now I sift through the entire body of Plain & Simple Press posts, dating back to early 20 and ought-14. Come up with 48,950 words.

Not bad. I’ll need about 80,000 words, so am almost 5/8 of the way there. Some passages can be expanded upon — for example, a live link to some article somewhere else can be replaced with a precis of the article. An introduction will add about 1,500 or 2 ,000 words. And I have in print an entire textbook of writing advice, from which I intend to self-plagiarize liberally.

If Melania can rip off the First Lady, I surely can rip off myself.

Next, I open an email from Amazon, responding to my demand to know why TF the 99-cent sale of the six books I put up for countdown sales didn’t work. Amazon’s factotum informs me that the countdown sale is in effect: it was set to start at 3:00 p.m.

Ohhhkaaayyy… I check a couple of the books and find that indeed by then they are showing as available for 99 cents.

But on reflection, I’m pretty sure that even though these old eyes need a pair of glasses to read a damned computer screen accurately, and even though a 3 looks sort of like an 8, I still can tell the difference between a 3 and an 8 and between a letter a and a letter p. No problem. The difference is sterling clear. I do not believe for one effing minute that I entered 3 p.m. instead of 8 a.m. SIX GODDAMN TIMES. But whatever. It looks like the sale is now online, even though I’ve lost the advantage of making it available for 99 cents on the entire first day of the goddamn sale.

Just about to throw it in when a message comes over from Jackie: How come the cookbook is still selling for $9.99?

Shee-ut! Damned if it ain’t.

I open the Amazon factotum’s email by way of sending another annoyed inquiry when I discover that down near the bottom, well below the fold, she claims I never set up the 30 Pounds / 4 Months book for the Countdown Sale.

That, alas, is flat out not so.

The 30# book was the first one I set up. I remember it well because the annoyance factor was so high. After I screwed around with that, figuring out how to operate the software to create the sale, I moved on to Cabin Fever and set up all five of the naughty books. Then, I posted my ads on Twitter and several Facebook sites, merrily crowing that the books would go on sale on June 21.

Later, when I got a notice from Kindle reminding me that I’d made all these arrangements, I discovered that the sales were scheduled for JULY 21, not June 21.

Re-entering the website and navigating back to the place to set things up, I found to my amazement that the drop-down month calendar where you have to select the start day was a JULY calendar, not June — a bit of a surprise, since I did this on June 10, and so naively assumed the calendar they shoved in my face to be the June calendar.

Experimentation showed there was no choice of any other month: it was July or nothing. So I had to go back into each of the books I’d already set up, to confirm that in fact the date Amazon had arrogated was July 21, not the June 21 I believed I was selecting.

I think I would have noticed if I hadn’t set up a sale for the 30# book. If I’d opened 30# on the “Bookshelf,” which I most certainly would have done — first, since that’s the one I expected to make money and that’s also the only one for which an inane “countdown” sale can work effectively — I would have noticed if I’d never set up the sale.

Then I had to go back to each of the two ads, change the dates in PowerPoint, convert to PDF, convert to TIF, crop the TIF, resize the TIF, convert to JPEG, and repost all the ads I’d put everywhere on the goddamn social media. This annoyance was also something I would have noticed.

Really, dealing with Amazon is the sh!ts. Some damnfool thing happens EVERY TIME you try to do something. There’s always some complication, some unnecessary hassle, some mindless pointless restriction that makes your life difficult, SOMETHING. And every, single, goddamn time you respond to one of these by trying to do a workaround, that screws you up even worse!

Not ONE thing that I’ve attempted on Amazon, from trying to create a Goodreads Author Page to trying to establish a pseudonym for Roberta Stuart, has worked without some kind of headache or hassle. NOTHING is simple at Amazon. NOTHING works in any sensible way.

If Bernie would please bring back the antitrust laws, I personally would lead a coup* to clean out all the airheaded Republicans and Democrats and install the man as king.
_________

*Dude, little CIA factotum: it’s a joke.

July 21, 2016
by funny
3 Comments

The (not-so-much!) Joys of Amazon

I’ve about had it with Amazon. Honest to God, every effin’ time I try to do anything with any book on Amazon, I end up with my hands full of sh!t. This time? Well. Sumbeach, that’s about as articulate as I can get right this instant.

How about a couple of pictures, each worth a thousand words?

Cookbook

Naughty June 2016

I’ve posted these things, plus promotional copy and links, on websites, Facebook pages, Facebook Groups, and Twaddle from here to Hell and onward to Gone, day after day after brain-banging, mind-numbing DAY over the ten days or two weeks.

NINE Facebook pages and groups plus Twitter have been urging people to hurry on over to Amazon and buy these astonishingly wonderful books as dawn cracks on Thursday, July 21. Posts at these nine sites have gone up every single day, along with associated posts that gave me a chance to mention the alleged sale, EVERY DAY for the past day after day after endless day.

Understand: because no two FB pages or groups seem to post the same way, you end up dorking and dorking and dorking around to get them to do what you want. One page will respond to an inserted URL by inserting the web post with the image that appears closest to the top. Another will try to insert ALL the images in the post. Yet another will slap in the images in the righthand sidebar, which bear no relation at all to the content you’re trying to plug on FB. And still another will insert nothing. So for about 99% of them, you have to delete incorrect data and then go into your computer, track down the correct images, and  insert them. Then at Twitter you have to write all new promo copy, because of Twitter’s frustrating word count limitation, which is crimped even further by the need to add hashtags. And by the fact that Twitter reduces the character allowance to account for the size of the attached image. To minimize that, you have to convert your URL to Bitly, another time suck.

At one point, I figured the average number of time-wasting search-and-clicks per Facebook posting was 8. So 8 x 9 = 72 endless click-search-click-search-search-clicks per posting!!!! PER AD. There are two ads involved here.

Even if you’re pasting the promotional copy into each Facebook page/group (which cannot do for all of them), this process adds up to about two hours of mind-numbing computer diddling-around. Per session.

Multiply that by ten days, and you come up with a conservative(!) estimate of about 20 hours spent on this annoying, excruciatingly boring task.

So comes dawn’s early light today, I go on Amazon to check…because, you know, during this whole exercise a still small voice in the back of my mind has been nagging, whaddaya bet? whaddaya bet? Well. If I were a betting woman, I would’ve bet that Amazon would once again give me the shaft.

And I’d have been right.

Naturally, not one of the six books I’d set up for the Amazon Countdown Sale promo program offered any kind of markdown.

Well, except for the “take it for FREE” offer for those who subscribe to Amazon’s free borrowing program. That’s the one where Amazon spies on you to see how many pages you’ve clicked through. If the reader doesn’t “look” (snark!) at enough pages, the author doesn’t get paid. Yeah. Readers “buy” the book but the author doesn’t get paid.

Not that you get paid much in the “borrow” program anyway. You get a fraction of what you’d get if the person bought the book at the ludicrously tiny amount you can get away with charging for an e-book.

IMHO, Amazon is the single worst thing that has ever happened to publishing and to creative work.

Yes, it lets every would-be hobbyist writer get his or her work in front of a (mostly imaginary) public. And yes, it lets everyone get around the gatekeepers at real publishing houses.

But you know: those gatekeepers served a purpose. They knew (still do know) what sells and what doesn’t sell. When they decided to accept or reject a proposal or a manuscript, it was based on some real insight not just into the intrinsic quality of the work but also into its marketability. Even with those gatekeepers, if you’ve ever gone to a charitable book sale or a used book store, you’ll see that the market is simply awash in books, books, books, and more books: many more books than any single reader or even a group of readers could reasonably keep up with.

But now the market is more than awash. It’s DROWNING. It’s fuckin’ SUBMERGED in dreck! I just read a “published” book by some wannabe Great Writer of the Western World that’s full of punctuation errors, spelling errors, and…oh hell. The idea is good. It’s a salable concept. But the published bookoid is a mess:  the copy has apparently never been graced by either a copyeditor or a proofreader.

Both of those, BTW, were provided as a matter of course, free to the author, by real publishing houses.

Amazon single-handedly has degraded the overall quality of literature available to the public, destroyed the publishing industry, and further impoverished the lot of writers and artists.

And if you weren’t already wasting your time “publishing” (le mot juste is something more like “posting”) books that no publisher’s editor in hir right mind would look at twice, you get to waste it anyway jumping through Amazon’s endless “promotional” hoops to no avail.

“Disruption” is just a techno-euphemism for “destruction.”

Here’s what I’m gonna do:

I will leave the 40 or so books we have on Amazon there, since they generate all of about $12 a month…well, in a good month.

But meanwhile, I will convert them all to ePub (which I should have done in the first place!) and post them all on Smashwords — assuming I don’t have to pay through the schnozzola to get an e-book formatting expert to do the formatting so that SW will accept it. If I can’t, then I will post them all to Barnes & Noble. And I will post the Camptown Races bookoids at an online retailer that specializes in “romantic erotica” (no kidding: who knew?).

Then I am going to forget about it. If they sell themselves, bully. If not, WGAS. All of the energy and all of the time I’ve spent on trying to create and sell books? That will be fully diverted into trying to sell editorial and indexing services.

The Copyeditor’s Desk has been supporting this folly. It’s about time it started supporting me, instead.

July 20, 2016
by funny
4 Comments

Spots of Light, Patches of Fog

Ugh! Just finished posting the daily multifarious ads for the multifarious bookoids on the multifarious Facebook sites and Twaddle, a time-consuming and tedious chore to beat all time-consuming and tedious chores.

Can’t complain too much, though: it’s only 8:37 a.m. Now the very worst chore of the day is off the desk. I can spend the rest of the next 16 hours or so loafing, playing with the dogs, sketching a new drawing, or maybe even writing a new Fire-Rider squib. So the sun burns through the fog, hm?

Here’s a little bright spot, surfacing in the side yard on a gray, thick, humid, HOT morning:

CactusFlower

Back in the fog: Ruby woke me up at 3:30 this morning with a threat to barf on the bed. Guess she was sickened by the antics at yesterday’s Republican convention. That was the only truly disgusting thing she got into yesterday.

At any rate, she escaped the bed before producing anything, and in fact recovered without woofing. Metaphorically, I mean.

Republicans. God. That’s not fog. That’s the Dark Night of the Soul. Check out this blood-curdling report from one of their elected delegates.

We’re all going to love it in British Columbia. Though I understand Newfoundland could use some new blood: maybe American refugees will be more welcome there.

Here’s what you need to take your mind off your own and America’s troubles: a nice, entertaining, escapist short story.

Seth

Scattered foggy patches: Have to pay the car registration. Thank you, God! No damned time-sucking emissions test this August. And it’s only $37 — in Arizona, car registration goes DOWN the older the car gets, the theory presumably being that they want drivers to keep their junkers as long as possible, and forgodSAKE don’t give them any ideas about replacing the clunk with safer, cleaner, more fuel-economical cars.

Arizona. The Land of the Bizarre.

Also have to fork over $340 to the Mayo, the amount Medicare and Medigap have paid toward the $650 bill sitting in accounts receivable. Presumably a check or two got lost in the mail. I’ll have to sift through three FAT folders of brain-boggling paperwork to see if I can find any lost checks

Fortunately, the community college district is sending (someday…let’s not hold our breath) around $565 to replace a lost check. That will cover the rest of the Mayo’s bill with a little left to spare. But what a fuckin’ nuisance.

The online bill-pay hoop-jumps and the search through file after file stuffed with incomprehensible paperwork will suck a massive amount of time out of this morning. Just the prospect is making me crabby as a cat.

It’s hot. It’s humid. The thermometer next to the chair where I tap away at this post reads 86 degrees. I need to clean the pool. Fog. Hot, clammy fog.

And finally, to end on a bright spot: Check out the great streaming channels emanating from Vermont Public Radio.

 

 

 

July 19, 2016
by funny
0 comments

Don’t wanna work Tuesday meets the Green Thumb Lady

Asparagus_officinalis0bHm. The attitude seems not to have improved much since yesterday. Tsk tsk!

However, the house is ridiculously clean. The trash is hauled out. The pool has been backwashed. The new composter has been fed. And this morning I speedwalked something in excess of two miles.

LOL! If exercise were good for you, wouldn’t you think I’d feel less crabby?

Quick run to the grocer to pick up ONLY what was on the accrued list: $22 worth. Not bad. If I could stay out of Costco, I think, except for maybe one or at most two runs per month, a great deal of cash would be saved.

Here’s th’thing: Remember that food windfall, the one that struck at the beginning of the month? Well, it took the better part of a day and a half to cook all that stuff up and stash it in the freezers.

But I’m STILL EATING IT!

And it’s still awesome. Had some of the eggplant lasagne this morning. Right now I’m waiting for some spaghetti to get limp, so I can dump the rest of the home-made delicious tomato sauce over it, with a few olives.

Yesterday I reheated some grilled summer squash on the grill next to a slab of defrosted Costco salmon — great! Several of the pretty little stuffed acorn squash are still in the freezer — one piece of those is enough for a full meal, especially when served with a salad.

The vegetable soup is BEYOND awesome when you heat a few frozen scallops with it. That’s as in “deliciousness that defies belief.” I’ve tried it with some shrimp, too: also good, but not as amazing as scallops.

There’s still a little of the gazpacho, whose flavor seems to improve with aging in the fridge.

Truth to tell, I’ve had to buy relatively little food for myself this month. Of course, as we know we still have the stock of frozen meat and fish unearthed when I cleaned the freezer. That won’t last forever. But for the nonce, it’s supplementing all those veggies very handsomely.

It looks a great deal to me like I probably will have to buy no more or almost no more food for the rest of the month. So even though I’m about to exceed this month’s grocery-store budget, it may not be by much.

Stumbling around the Safeway’s produce department this ayem, I come upon an unprepossessing lady. We inspect the asparagus. I turn up my nose: it’s too mature, too fat. She says it’s perfect. Each to her own, think I.

But then…oh, yes…THEN she remarks that the asparagus in her garden looks like these spears.

What?

Say what?

I think she’s talking about a winter garden and start to talk about my plans for this fall. No. It quickly becomes clear that she is talking about asparagus that is growing in her garden right this effing minute

Yeah? Holy sh!t, I think. She forgot to take her meds this morning! My mother grew up on a dirt farm in upstate New York, a place where snow fell extravagantly when she was a child. She used to talk about going into the forest in the springtime to harvest wild asparagi. I figure that means asparagus grows in cool to temperate climates.

My new acquaintance continues. She explains that she gardens in moveable containers, allowing her to shift various vegetables venues as the weather changes. She moves the “roots,” as she calls the underground part of these creatures, into the shade as summer is y-cumin’ in.

We continue to chat. We discover that neither of us can get a decent tomato to grow in North Central, even though we both were able to elicit magnificent tomatoes in other parts of town. We concur in thinking this to be suspicious.

I learn that she grows a LOT of amazing stuff in containers that she can move with the seasons. And I think…yeah.

At home, I discover that by God, you can grow asparagus in Arizona. WHO KNEW?

How can I count the ways that I can’t wait until the new compost is composted and the weather cools off enough to start digging up the ground and dumping dirt in pots?

Meanwhile, though, werk awaits, oh god how i hate werking.

This book marketing stuff is every bit as boring, as pointless, and as frustrating as teaching freshman comp. But adjunct teaching at least pays almost minimum wage.

I spent about half the day posting ads for the upcoming book sales, which start July 21. To wit:

Cookbook

Naughty June 2016

I’ve stuck these up on every electronic pillar and post I can think of: that would be eight or nine (I’ve lost count) Facebook groups, Twaddle, and my own fine blogsites.

Interestingly a surprising number of friends and total strangers have “liked” and (better yet) “retweeted” or “shared” the things. So I hope against hope that maybe someone will buy the stuff. We’ll find out. And we’ll believe it when we see it. 😀

Getting these things online is frustrating, annoying, and (as usual) effing time-consuming, because no two FB sites are the same. On one, you can post the URL and the desired image will pop right up. On another, no image will come up, so you have to go click-search-click-search-click-click-click-ad-nauseam-search-click-click to get jpeg up. On yet another, an image will come up but will be decidely NOT the goddamn image you want, so you’ll have to delete that image (without deleting the damn post) and go click-search-click-search-click-click-click-ad-nauseam-search-click-click to get correct jpeg up.

All of this is, shall we say, infinitely annoying, boring, and stupid. It feels especially stupid because you suspect that sinking four or five of your $60 hours into this endeavor will reward you with cash receipts of approximately $1.09.

Just share the damn things, will you puhleeeze?

Reading the national and international gnus is one long aggravation. I hope you’ve been duly entertained by the Trump doxie’s plagiarism of Mrs. Obama’s 2008 speech. Please, God: pour me another bourbon and water…

Incompetence, crookedness, and a total vacancy of ethics notwithstanding, the currently incompetent, crooked, and vacant Republican Party has made Bozo the Clown its nominee for President of the United States of America.

One more b&w, please, Mr. God?

Oh sh!t. Il faut cultiver notre jardin.

 

July 18, 2016
by funny
3 Comments

Don’t wanna work Monday

So I should be, at the very goddamned leastest, posting links to posts advertising my wares on FaceBook (two business pages, several “groups,” and my timeline: a half-dozen separate time-consuming mind-numbing actions), Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

I should be hustling some new business for The Copyeditor’s Desk.

I should be writing new copy for Plain & Simple Press.

I should be writing some sort of personal-finance post for Funny about Money.

I should be trying, once again, to get into Goodreads so as to hustle my wares there, even though that cause appears to be too forlorn to waste more time on.

But y’know what?

Yeah. That’s correct:

i…

don’t…

wanna…

If it looks like work, if it sounds like work, if it smells like work, if it feels like work: I don’t wanna do it.

That’s not to say I’ve totally diddled the day away, so far.

compostThe new cute little composter arrived. It’s “Cute” (the maker’s term) because it really is quite small: maybe a third the size of the one the fake beekeeper destroyed.

At first as I unpacked it from its cardboard box, I was disappointed. Then thought…waaaitaminit here. Let’s not be stoopid about this.

As a practical matter, smaller is probably better. First, it’s a lot more manageable. The old one, when it was full, could be almost impossible to turn, so it took forever and a day to compost stuff — and I had to reach in there and toss stuff by hand. This thing will be easy to roll even if it’s full.

Second, the manufacturer has made two exceptionally smart improvements in the thing’s design. a) The lid and its opening are MUCH larger compared to the overall size of the tub; and b) they’ve developed a hinge held together with a long, sturdy pin. If you remove the pin, you can lift the lid off the tub, making it easy to lift or dump the compost out.

So. I decided I don’t just like the Cute Composter, I downright love it.

The little guy is now in his place by the side of the house, with a pile of leaves, exhausted potting soil from dead plant pots, and kitchen trimmings in his belly.

Yay! We soon will have compost, and this fall we will have a vegetable garden again, for the first time since the memory of Fatlady runneth not to the contrary.

Gerardo just blew in and blew out; while he was here, he had the underlings gather up some relatively seed-free dry leaves and deposit them in the little composter. It’s full just now, but I expect those will pack down as they start to degrade and as I sprinkle a little water in there. By planting time this fall, there should be some nice compost for the pots that will hold chard, lettuce, spinach, mâche, and some LGOs.

The writer’s group I belong to puts out an annual anthology. They’ve put out a call for submissions — theme has to do with “celebration.” I have an essay that fits, though it fits in a distant way.

So I diddled away a fair amount of the morning editing and tightening that — their length limit is 3,000 words, and the lash-up runs to a little over 3400 words. Managed to cut it down a bit. Last year they accepted an essay of about 3400 words, but they had a different editor. WTF…we’ll see what happens. Nothing ventured…

My son has wondered if he should throw his $20,000 emergency fund at a refinance of his house, given that this could cut his mortage payment by about 300 much-needed dollars a month. His dad advised him absolutely positively not to do that. When the subject came up yesterday, I seconded his dad’s motion. Discussion ensued; the question was left up in the air.

So I called Wonder-Financial-Advisor today. He thirded the motion. We believe he should hang onto the cash, given the still amazingly low interest rates.

The dad has urged M’hijito to make no move until after his 102-year-old grandmother passes away. The suggestion, never fully articulated, is that money could be forthcoming from the estate. Said dad is in charge of the grandmother’s finances and so should have some idea what he’s talking about.

But the question is: WHAT estate?

The old gal has been living in a nursing home for many years. She’s blind and deaf. By now whatever money she might have accrued must have been absorbed by her care. How could there be anything — ANYTHING — left?

Well, I personally don’t think there is any such thing. But why the ex- would advise my son along those lines not once but several times…hm? It escapes me.

Almost.

The immortal grandmother was the daughter — the only child — of a man who owned a lumber company that served Denver, Colorado. He was a prominent local businessman. When he died of advanced old age in 1977, his funeral was overrun by well-wishers from the business community. A LOT of people showed up.

I don’t know what happened to that business. But if he sold it, dollars to donuts he sold it for a substantial profit.

His background was Amish. As that factoid might lead you to imagine, he lived quietly and conservatively. Not sparsely, but frugally. I suppose it’s not outside the realm of possibility that there was a trust. That could have protected the estate from the clutches of the nursing home’s collection agents.

And if that’s the case, there could be a small amount of money there. It wouldn’t have to be much to solve my son’s financial problems, such as they are.

So I diddled away some more of the day on the Internet, trying to track down the old man and, mostly failing that, trying to find some trace of the business.

Total fail on the latter. Inconclusive on the first. Became bored and so brought that to a halt.

It’s now the middle of the afternoon, and I still do not feel up, in any wise, to working. and so…

Away.