Coffee heat rising


So, did I end up driven to drive, drive, drive around the city yesterday afternoon? Did I reserve a space at this afternoon’s writer’s group, where I would like to peddle my services in the guise of seeking feedback on my half-baked unfinished noveloid?

Well. No. And also, no.

Yes, I did climb in the car and turn on the ignition. About the time I got to the end of the driveway, a thought occurred: Why am I doing this???????

Got about 200 feet down the road…and then drove around the block, returned to the Funny Farm, parked the car, and proceeded back inside. Where I’ve been fairly happily ensconced ever since, except for a dog-walk or two.


Thought: Hey, estúpida! What do you think you’re doing?

Human: Driving to the credit union and to the grocery store on…uhm…some road over there.

Thought: You’re kidding, right?

Human: Uhm…

Thought: Tell me you’re not serious. You’re REALLY going to drive FORTY MINUTES so as to avoid farting around with the accursed Internet for 10 or 15 minutes to deposit two measly checks?

Human: Well, but…

Thought: And this vaunted grocery store is on…WHAT road?

Human: I think it’s at 43rd and Peoria.

Thought: NO, you moron! That’s an Albertson’s, not a Fry’s. And it’s not even a halfway decent Albertson’s. It is, in a word, a CRUMMY store!

Human: Oh. Yeah. Well…but…

I gave up. It took less than 10 minutes to deposit $2500 worth of client monnaie online. This was good. There was plenty of food in the house: two chops from a rack of lamb; tiny delicious little beets to grill (this worked exceptionally well, BTW); excellent buttered spinach to heat, also on the grill. And half a bottle of wine.

Truly, I hate farting with the computer and the credit union’s website to deposit checks electronically. But…hate it SO MUCH that it’s worth driving 20 minutes to the CU, standing in line, and driving 20 minutes back?

Maybe not.

As for today’s proposed introduction to the midtown writer’s group: they meet weekly. The local Play-Nooz reported that the police and fire department are occupying lovely downtown Phoenix with a mock Emergency Response today…and that chivaree sounds like something to avoid.

So I decided to put that little marketing maneuver off for a week: Next Sunday, thankyouverymuch. This will give me time to schlep the printout of the current installment of Ella’s story down to the UPS store and put them up to making and stapling together 10 or 12 copies, rather than expending my own ink & paper for the purpose.

Hmmmmm… Lookee here: for $30, you can get 50 pens with your bidness name on them. 😀 The MO of these writer’s groups is that you hand out a few pages of your golden words and people critique the stuff. What if in addition to a sheaf of paper, you gave each person a pen with your editing outfit’s name and URL? 😀

Apparently this outfit will deliver in four or five days, which would get said little treat here by the end of the week if I ordered it today.

If ten people show up (that’s how many were signed up for this weekend), one order would last for five weeks. Lots more then 10 show up at the West Valley Writer’s Workshop, but there’d still be enough to hand out gift pens there and still supply one or two of the in-town meeting’s participants.

Putting it off for a week will also give time for me to get off my virtual duff and write a plot outline. One of the reasons (one of several reasons) this story has petered out is that I’ve been writing it like topsy, as it grows. Frankly, I have no idea where it’s going.

Well. I know where Ella’s recollected life on Zaitaf goes. But what happens on Varnis, where her currently lived experience is happening, is as much a mystery to me as it is to you. It’s topsy…I do need to cultivate that garden.

And speaking of uncultivated gardens, now I need to return to the client’s magnum opus…

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.

Another Fine Day in Social Media Marketing

So I set up a Goodreads Authors page today. Now as activities go, THAT one defines frustration.

Yea, verily, it would suffice to define any number of English words:


Well, I’m hoping that Twitter and Facebook (where I should have been setting up a new page instead) will generate buyers. I kind of doubt it, but…damn, this stuff is frustrating.

It sucked up my entire afternoon, and I didn’t get anything else done. And since I very much doubt that a Goodreads Authors page that no one reads is going to go far by way of marketing, as far as I’m concerned I didn’t get anything done, period.

LOL! What I did just now — try to create one of their Goodreads widgets — is a case in point, and typical of what happened every. step. along. the. way. It asks you to enter the ISBN of your book. In response, I copied and pasted the ISBN that I copied into my spreadsheet direct from Bowker. Click enter. And what excuse do I get for the FAIL?

“Enter a valid isbn to see a example and widget code.”

Folks, it can’t get much more valid than electronically copying and pasting it from the electronic horse’s mouth.

Should’ve used my afternoon to build a new Twitter page for Fire-Rider. What a waste of energy.

Think I’ll do a) a Twitter page for Fire-Rider and then b) a Facebook page for P&S press, which can then comprise the porn, I suppose, after all the FR bookoids are online. So that will produce three sites:

Twitter for Camptown Races (Racy Books for Racy Readers)
Twitter for Fire-Rider (not a racy book, by any means)
Facebook for both FR and the racy books.

So once again, another day went by in which I did exactly NO writing. That would be OK (marginally) if my time had been spent productively. But when the whole goddamn day is wasted…jeez.

Interestingly, most of the Internet chatter about GoodReads is overwhelmingly positive. One suspects the Power That Is Amazon behind the page after page of cheery burbling that comes up in a Google search for user reviews of the platform, but maybe it really is the be-all and end-all of indie author marketing. We have this interesting post questioning the Received Wisdom about Amazon give-aways, though it seems to be of most concern for people who have to ship off hard copies to customers who “win” one of these give-away contests. It’s as verbose and complex as the Goodreads Author site itself. Possibly those characteristics are contagious. Overall, though, the gist seems to be do it but tweak it. But then, deep in the comments section, the blogger responds to a reader with this: “You can’t give away e-books on Goodreads, so you must produce something in print to run a giveaway.”

This was the case in 2014. Whether it’s still so, I don’t know. When I looked at the form for the giveaway, NARY A WORD to that effect appeared. However, given the program’s consistently cryptic nature, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised but what she’s dead right.

Not a problem for any of mine, because I used a template that converts nicely to PoD page layout, and I have a PoD printer who does an excellent, quick job. If I were forced to do a giveaway through Amazon, then I easily could have two or three copies printed and shipped directly from the printer…assuming I could get Amazon to send me the winners’ names and addresses. A big assumption, I’ll bet.

We have this grutch, about some issue SO arcane that I can’t even follow what the guy’s talking about. A commenter here remarks, in March 2015, that Amazon/GoodReads (six of one, half-a-dozen of the ‘tother) was “considering” including e-books in the give-away scheme. Possibly by September 2, that has come to pass.

Apparently by late 2013, trolling and harassment had become so extreme at GoodReads the situation was becoming disruptive and truly nasty. Unclear whether this situation has been resolved. By September 2013 Amazon had taken steps to deal with it — possibly in a Draconian manner — but evidently the bullying was ongoing at the start of 2014,. In April 2015 people were still bellyaching about trolling at the site, though in June a more temperate observer that Amazon/Goodreads is earnestly trying to get a grip on the problem.

Doesn’t bode well, IMHO.