Coffee heat rising

Publishing: Proceeding Apace. Decluttering: Ditto.

 Holy mackerel! It’s been TWO DAYS since I last posted here. How two days passed in an hour and a half escapes me…  Just now I’m engaged in preparing and preposting two months’ worth of bookoids for the Publishing Empire. {heh…maybe that’s what I should’ve called the current enterprise!} That is a much larger job than it seems.

It entails creating covers for 16 books (plus boxed sets, which just now are on-the-side jobs); obtaining ISBNs for each one (a truly time-consuming nuisance: you’re doing well if you can get one ISBN registered in under ten minutes); reviewing, correcting, and updating copy for each book; and posting cover image and contents for each book to Amazon.

I’ve learned you can enhance efficiency and reduce distraction by doing all of these tasks for a bunch of books in one sitting (actually, it’s going to take about three or four days…), rather than breaking in to whatever you’re doing to jump through the endless hoops for one book at a time. And you can post the completed MS and cover art at Amazon and “save as draft.” If you’ve done every step but the last one (and done each step right…), all you have to do on the scheduled “publication” date is go back into your Amazon “bookshelf” and click “publish,” thereby saving yourself a lot of time-consuming hassle on that date, when you might want to be doing something else with your time.

So, here’s an OPINION POLL:

Which of these do you prefer: the one with the black Roberta Stuart byline, or the one with the red?

Draft cover Daniela 2 LO RES

Draft cover Daniela 3 LO RES

The question is, which “Roberta Stuart” byline would be most visible in an Amazon thumbnail? Black? or Red?

Demonstrate the POWER OF THE HIVE MIND and cast your vote for one or the t’other! Tell me in the comments to this post which one you think is more effective.


You’ll recall the last time I visited these precincts, I was considering whether to get rid of the fancy Christofle silverware in favor of some stainless flatware that can go in the dishwasher. Well, my friends, the deed is done. And, after traipsing all over the Web and all over the city, I finally found a set that’s not too cheesy and not too expensive at…so obvious, why didn’t I think of it before this morning?…Williams-Sonoma!!

I did indeed go over to Sur la Table. Total wasted trip. The one set that looked like it might be OK when viewed online had all the heft of plastic. Just junk. And they way they had their flatware displayed — jammed upright into random containers — confirmed that the proprietors regarded the stuff as junk, too.

Revisit Crate and Barrel’s: unappealing, lightweight, not so very junky, but junk.

Across the city, driving driving driving Arrived in another mall that hosts a Williams-Sonoma and a Pottery Barn. At the Williams-Sonoma, in addition to scoring a couple of tasty snacks, I found two sets that appealed. One — the coolest of them — had heavy handles that unfortunately were made of pewter: “hand-washing recommended.” Saleslady said that translates as “handwash, period.” Defeats the purpose. The other was this brushed steel retro design reminiscent of the set my ex- and I bought shortly after we were married, yea verily way back in 19 and ought-67. It was moderately weighty and not displeasing in appearance.

And marked down 20 percent.

Just in case, it was over to Pottery Barn to check out their wares.

Forthwith, BACK TO WILLIAMS-SONOMA. Pottery Barn had a couple of attractive designs but they were…oh yes. Silver plate. Purpose defeated again.

So I purchased the following:


Not too awful, eh? These little gems can go straight into the dishwasher. And, although they’re not as elegant as a set of fine Christofle, they have a decent heft to them and they’re distinctive without being obtrusive.

Kind of interesting, this flatware safari. If I’d ordered the stuff online that appealed to me, from Sur la Table, I’d have been very unhappy and probably would have ended up traipsing to Scottsdale to return the junk. Overall, I went to five brick-&-mortar retailers plus an unknown number of online sellers before finding a design resembling what I wanted. And really…I don’t think I’m that picky! There’s nothing extraordinary about these pieces. Well…except insofar as they display a modicum (and I do mean modicum) of quality.

Think of that.

Of Books, Business, and Dishwashers

So here at the Funny Farm, the proprietor continues to put in 12- to 14-hour days. Got a meeting in another two hours, which means no time to write this post AND get any significant other work done. WTF…I’m writing. Dammit, I get a chance to have a cup of coffee and rest for a few minutes.

Yesterday FaM subscribers received an email warning…uhm, advising you all that I soon will be emanating a kind of business newsletter from the Camptown Ladies site, holding forth more about the adventure of starting a new publishing enterprise than about the Racy Books themselves.

A rose, a candle, and an extraordinary man... Or is he a man?
A rose, a candle, and an extraordinary man… Or is he a man?

Speaking of the which, I see I’ve failed to mention our latest shenanigan, The Ouija Lover. Actually, this randy little number is one of my favorite books. The characters come to life quickly and are pretty entertaining — they get more so in the second book of the series, The Taming of Bonnie. The conceit — the “concept” in Hollywoodese — is really bizarre. So that went online yesterday, available for your browsing pleasure at this very moment.

The Ouija Lover is one of several spooky-themed stories that we’re publishing in honor of Halloween and La Dia de los Muertos. Only one of them, Kelpie (scheduled for publication next week), is really very dark.

Interestingly, most of the Camptown Races stories are fairly light and upbeat. That, apparently, is the overall mood of my writers. The occasional heavy or dark piece is an intriguing exception. I think that’s because these stories are very fun to write and (we hope) fun to read. We’re all getting a hoot out of creating racy stories!

Meanwhile, life goes on. In altogether different realms … I wish to sic one of our fictional spooks on the dunderheads who came up with “high-efficiency” home appliances. There’s another bizarre conceit: the idea that a piece of equipment that takes twice as long to do the job and does it badly (so the job often has to be done over again) magically saves electricity and water. Where do people dream these ideas up?

The present target of my ire is (again) the expensive Bosch dishwasher that I installed to replace the deceased (allegedly less marvelously “efficient”) model. This is the one that won’t get your dishes clean unless you run it on the “Sanitize” cycle, thereby engaging an internal heater that boosts the water’s heat enough to wash off the dirt without benefit of functional detergent. The cycle that takes two hours and forty-one minutes of electric power to wash a load of dishes that would take you about 15 minutes and no electric power (assuming you have a gas water heater) to wash by hand.

Now, I happen to own a set of Christofle silverware that the ex- and I bought back when we were flush and dumb. After we split, I took the silver with me. And I thought at the time, I am gonna use this silver and not save it for a special occasion, BECAUSE special occasions never come and I love this stuff.

So for the past 18 or 20 years, I’ve used the Christofle every day, with every meal. Early on, I found a set of stainless that knocks off Christofle’s design (no longer available: patent infringement?), which I use for cooking. And early on, I learned that if you keep the stainless separate from the silver, you can run the silverware through the dishwasher with no harm.

Well. So it went until I acquired the current “efficient” Bosch. After I figured out that the only way to get the contraption to work was to run it on the sani-cycle every time, I found that suddenly the silver was tarnishing and needed to be repolished every time I turned around. (Normally I’d polish the silver maybe once every six months or a year — if you’re using it all the time, it doesn’t tarnish unless you leave it sitting in lemon juice or some such.)

WTF? Why was I suddenly having to polish the silver every two weeks?

Finally I figured out that it must have something to do with the heat in the washer’s sanitize cycle. If you want the dishes clean, you can’t put the silverware in there.

And that means that if I want to use my silver, I have to wash every piece by hand after every meal!!!!

Thank you, dear environmentally correct hucksters, for taking us back to the 1950s in one more aspect of our lives.

Now, in general I’m none too fond of housework. But of all the housework chores, I hate washing dishes by hand with the deepest passion. It’s one thing to have to wash the laundry by hand once every week or two. But another thing altogether to have to wash eating utensils by hand two or three times a day.

It’s such a nuisance, in fact, that I’m thinking about packing up the silver, hiding it from the burglars somewhere or giving it to my son, and just going over to Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel and buying a set of decent stainless.

The Christofle knock-off stainless is cheap and light-weight. The real stuff, the silver, has a nice heft to it, which adds to the pleasure of a nice meal. A better set of stainless would have that quality, and it also would go in the dishwasher. Voilà: one annoyance gone. Sort of.

Crate & Barrel has some very attractive 18/10 designs. They’re not cheap, but they’re not horribly expensive. I just resent having to put away something I’ve made part of my daily life and that I enjoy using. Nor do I want to spend money on something like this because of some stupid “improvement” that’s utterly unnecessary, ineffective, and unfair.

Pisseth me off.

Today’s the Day!

TODAY our first Racy Book for Racy Readers gets “published” at Amazon. It probably won’t be available until later in the day or tomorrow. Will let you know with a link when it’s online.

We now have four, possibly five writers working for Camptown Races Press. We have enough copy to post eight books (possibly nine) this month and that many again next month. And we’ll be working toward meeting our goal of ten a month between now and next March, when we either start to make a profit or go broke.


I just picked up three editorial projects that will stave off brokitude another month or so, plus enough money came in from the blog to cover the corporation’s September bills.

We shall soon see, then, if it’s true that erotica sells, and sells in enough quantity to support its scribblers.

Yesterday I met with a social media specialist. She likes The Girls’ Twitter page (@RacyLadies) but wasn’t so crazy about their blogsite, which we had to admit was pretty lame. (That would be why we were meeting with a social media specialist!) She had a few great suggestions, most of which will have to be implemented by our web guru, Grayson. In the interim — until he can get around to making some of her ideas happen — I adjusted the banner to echo the elements she liked on the Twitter presence. Just those small changes make a difference. But I hope Grayson will be able to improve it significantly, given the advice we received yesterday.

Funny about Money has been neglected — as has most of the rest of my life — while I struggle with the enormous workload. Starting a business is a project that sucks all the time out of a room. Incredible!

I’ve decided to break the day into four three-hour chunks: three hours on editing, three hours on social media marketing, three hours on preparing copy for press, three hours on everything else. We’ll see if that works better than the usual listing.

Lists, as usual, work for me. But there’s so damn MUCH to have to get done every day that I still find myself feeling pretty frantic. You know…that “life is totally out of control” feeling?

Ugh, I hate that sensation!

Anyway, I haven’t forgotten about Funny’s readers!

And for your delectation: it’s still not too late to get an advance copy of Billy and the Biker, since it will be half a day or more before the book goes live at Amazon. Come on over to The Ladies’ website, sign up for their newsletter, and we’ll send you a copy in .mobi and PDF forms! The link to sign up is at the VERY tip-top of the page — a little hard to see just now. That’s one of the things we have to fix. But if you can’t find it, just leave a comment to that post, and we’ll sign you up and send you a copy.

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.

Marketing Away…time to take a break

Nothing like a blog post to occupy yourself while you snack on figs and cheese. Have been working on marketing Camptown Races most of the day, with the exception of a brief trip to the drugstore & the grocer’s. Finally got a Twitter page established for the Camptown Ladies:

If you’re into Twitter, please follow them! Mwa ha ha! They love camp(town) followers. 😉

Very soon now, we’ll have a Giveaway contest: The girls need names! I suggested they might like to be called Madison and Ashley, but they didn’t much like that idea. And Aunt Tilly was abhorred!

So it was decided that we would ask the Hive Mind to come up with something fitting and true. Watch for that!

LOL! I’ll bet  you can’t guess who Aunt Tilly is.

olive as tilly brightenedAunt Tilly is my grandmother, Olive, whom I never  met. She was a flapper, in the true sense of the word — which was somewhat pejorative at the time. Apparently she was one wild little number.

A divorce-court judge removed my mother from the custody of both Olive and her caddish husband, assigning the three-year-old to the care of the cad’s parents. The previous child, whom I found out about only when I unearthed my mother’s birth certificate after my father had died, must have been adopted out — Olive was 18 when my mother was born. So…what can one say?

Except, Olive, my dear: You are PERFECT for Aunt Tilly!

She certainly was a woman highly qualified to pronounce the words “Not husband material.” The ideal mentor for the Camptown Ladies.

As long as we’re uploading images… How do you like this new entry in the Home Decorating Awards Competition?


That little Talavera pot contained an elephant’s-foot plant that had taken root (from sprigs) and so outgrown its soil that there effectively was no soil left. It was shriveling from lack of water, especially in this summer’s unholy heat. Exit the elephant’s foot, into a larger pot.

Then it occurred to me that one of those little orchid plants you find at HD and Trader Joe’s would fit perfectly in there. And it does!

Here at the Funny Farm, orchids will survive, but they don’t grow appreciably. I expect this one will live for two or three years before giving up the ghost or outgrowing its home. Kinda cute, isn’t it?

To attach it to the wall, I hung the top end (which has a length of florist’s wire strung through a pair of holes in the back side) from one nail, and then a few inches below it inserted a tack into the wall which holds the pot’s lower end away from the drywall. To water it, of course, I’ll set it in the sink. But this will obviate any damage should I fail to wipe it dry before hanging it back up.

Ah. I see Amazon has responded to my query with an explanation as to how to establish a Goodreads Author profile.

And so, to work.