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What Happens When

One Night in Bridgeport is featured on again?  Twenty-four hours later, 260 people have downloaded it and the book is #9 in legal thrillers and #530 in the Kindle Store.  😉

Weekend Update

Maybe I’ll head to a once a week post that wraps things up for me for the week.  Who knows.  At least for this week, that’s what I’m doing.

In one 24-hour period, I got three more reviews on Amazon for One Night in Bridgeport.  All four stars and all good comments.  That brings the tally to 49 reviews (do I have a party when I get to 50?), 28 are five stars, 16 are four stars, 4 are three stars, and 1 is two stars.  I can definitely live with that mix.  Meanwhile, I’ve got five reviews for Weed Therapy.  Need to get at least five more.

I’ve done a really stupid and petulant thing with Weed Therapy.  I’ve moved the Kindle price to $4.99.  Why?  Because nobody was buying it, even at .99.  If nobody is going to buy the book at that price, why not increase the price and not have anybody buy it.  Yes, it makes no sense.  But I was peeved at what was happening.  None of the promotional efforts I tried produced any sales.  So, $4.99 is it for the time being.  Of course, if I get ten reviews and get it featured on ereadernewstoday, the price will be coming down.  But not until then.

Speaking of reviews of Weed Therapy, I don’t think I will ever again conduct a Goodreads giveaway.  I offered three autographed copies.  After the giveaway, I got an email from a Goodreads member who did not win one of the giveaway books.  She begged me to send her one anyway.  She and her husband are poor, you know.  He’s a veteran, you know.  She reads books to him, you know.  The book sounds so wonderful, you know.  We’ll provide two reviews, you know.  Two months later.  No reviews, no comments.  Nothing.  From any of the people who got a free copy through the giveaway.

Sales of Bridgeport have definitely slowed down.  Two-thirds of the way through the month, I’m at 38 for September.  Not bad, but not as well as I was doing for the four months prior.  I’m not sure if the book has simply run its course or there’s more I could and should be doing to promote it again.

As I wrote a while back, Deviation is complete.  Northville Five and Dime is about half way there.  Carlota awaits her future as the third in my series of three longer short stories.

That’s where I’m at when it comes to writing.  Where are you at?

* * * * *

I look at what the House Republicans are doing with funding government and trying to defund Obamacare and wonder if they’ll ever have a clue.  Ever.  Their grip on sanity seems to get weaker and weaker with each year.  I can’t imagine their hoped for shutdown of the government being a successful strategy for them, just like it failed in the mid-90’s.  What the people want is a functioning government, Republicans and Democrats compromising and moving the country forward.  What they’re getting is dysfunction and disaster.

And for my readers who claim that Democrats and Obama aren’t willing to compromise by agreeing to scrap Obamacare, let’s be serious.  This is the President’s signature achievement.  Something that much of the country has aspired to for decades.  Even Richard Nixon supported universal health care.  Demanding that Obama end it before there has been any opportunity to see if it will work is extortion not compromise.  Worse than that, it’s extortion based on a complete misunderstanding of what the law does.

* * * * *

I’ve started running again.  A month before I planned on doing so.  I couldn’t help it.  The bad news is that I’m much slower than I was a couple of years ago.  About two minutes per mile slower.  The good news is that I’ve “run” five times in the last seven days.  Friday night’s run lasted for four miles without needing a walk break.  The ol’ groin seems to be stable, although there is soreness in spots I never had soreness before.  Soreness is OK, it’s when the whole thing collapses and I can barely walk that is problematic.  No collapse yet.  If I can run four miles three or four times a week, I’ll be incredibly happy.

* * * * *

I’ve become addicted to Breaking Bad.  After months of people telling me I look like Heizinger, I started watching season one on Netflix.  I’m now halfway through season two, watching three episodes Friday night.  It’s a story that strains the limits of credibility, but it is definitely a fascinating and intense look at how far a man could go down a very dark path.

Here’s another thing I learned last night when I logged into Netflix to watch Breaking Bad.  Never, ever give your kids your account and password information.  What they do with it is provide it to their girlfriend and her family so they can use your Netflix account to watch movies and TV shows.  When I realized this was happening I changed my password.  I am monumentally disappointed with my son and with her family for doing this.  I realize it doesn’t cost me anymore, but it feels like theft, like being taken advantage of.  How many movies and shows have they watched on my account over the past week?  Sixty-seven.  In one week.  I didn’t go back any further in my viewing history.  That was enough.

* * * * *

I’m spending my Sunday running, writing, doing laundry, watching football, and baking bread.  I have this incredible bread book called Artisan Baking Across America.  It’s more like a coffee table book than an actual cook book.  It’s filled with incredible pictures of bakeries and dough and bread.  Fortunately, it’s got a lot of recipes as well.  As the title should make clear, this is about making bread in a very old fashioned way.  Mix a bit of flour and water and yeast together Saturday night.  Let it sit over night.  The amount of yeast, however, is so tiny as to be almost non-existent.  In the morning, mix that (it’s called a poolash) with more flour and water and maybe some honey and a few other things.  And let it rise.  Because of the small amount of yeast, the rise is 3-4 hours long.  Then you shape the bread and let it rise for a couple more hours before baking.

The end product is this incredible, crusty, airy, bubbly bread with more flavor than you know what to do with.  I’m making two loaves of tortano and two loaves of semolina fiolene.  Pictures later.

What are you doing with your Sunday?

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Almost forgot … if you’re looking for a little writing challenge, head over here for the second installment of the We Drink Because We’re Poets Seven Day Story Challenge, sponsored by yours truly.


A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

When I thought of writing this post yesterday, it was going to be titled Accountability, because I was going to cover a couple of “promises” I’ve made in the last couple of weeks.  To hold me accountable.  But, then there were some updates I wanted to provide in some other areas.  And, then there was something that came up that seemed to just be a random thought.  More fitting to my A Peek Inside kind of posts.  So, here’s what you get…


A little over two weeks ago, I started walking.  Inspired by another blogger, I decided to engage in a serious commitment to start running again.  I started walking on August 15 and talked with my physical therapist on August 16.  Since then I have gone for a walk every day except for the two days I was in Long Beach.  Some days I have gone for two walks — one first thing in the morning and the other when I get home from work.  All told, I’m thinking I’ve probably walked about 45-50 miles over the last sixteen days.  Yesterday, I hit five miles for my morning walk.  I’ll be walking again today.  On the physical therapy side, I’ve done my exercises every day except for those two Long Beach days.

So, how’s it all feeling down there?  I can tell I’m getting stronger, but I also know that the PT exercises I’m doing are at the lowest level of engagement with my injured area.  To recap — I tore a muscle high up in my inner thigh three times before going to see the sports doc.  It’s a groin muscle and what I’ve learned is that the whole groin complex of muscles is, well, complex.  The injury has caused serious problems in other areas of the groin.  While I can tell that the muscle I tore is still damaged and weak, the other areas seem to have improved.  Plus, they continue to be less bothersome with each walk.  On a pain/discomfort scale, two weeks ago, I was probably at a three while walking.  Now, I’m down to a one.  There’s enough there for me to know it’s there, but that’s it.  I’m now waiting for the next round of exercises from the physical therapist and trying as hard as I possibly can not to break into a jog while walking.  That’s the hardest part.  As I walk along, very briskly, I think “if I can walk five miles, why can’t I jog a bit?”  I know why, so I resist.  It’ll come.  Hopefully in a couple more months and the truth is that I’m enjoying the walks.

My goal:  A half marathon, October 2014

More Accountability

After a long cold spell on the writing front — marked by little progress and massive indecision about what to work on — I have made significant strides in both areas.  Deviation is chugging along.  Every time I sit down to work on it, I’m able to produce 1,000 words relatively effortlessly.  It’s now over 13,000 words long and I’m beginning to think of how the story is going to wind down.  I’m also considering the editing I’ll have to do for the story.

I’ve also made some very specific decisions about the next few months of writing projects.  September is for completing Deviation.  October will be for Northville Five & Dime.  November will be for Spaceship Earth — a story I don’t know that I’ve mentioned here.  It’s a sexy, end of the world, sci-fi thingamajig.  Once I have all three stories complete, I’m going to publish them individually for the Kindle.  I’m also going to publish a paperback with all three stories, plus my other two longer short stories — The Marfa Lights and Shady Acres.  Or maybe I’ll just publish the three new stories together in the paperback.  Haven’t decided about that yet.  But each of these stories will, or should, end up being in the 15,000-25,000 word range, although I’m not sure about Spaceship Earth.  It may well end up longer than that.

Once I’m done with those stories, I’ll head back to one of my half-completed novels.  These short stories are helping me tremendously.  To write and also to remember that I can actually bring to conclusion a significant writing effort.  I was beginning to wonder if I could do that.

An Update

August has been a long, cruel month for my publishing efforts.  One Night in Bridgeport was doing well as I entered August, selling 250 downloads in July and continuing to produce a handful each day.  I decided to see what would happen if I raised the price to $2.99 and learned a painful lesson.  Sales dropped off.  So I put the price back to .99 and then offered a couple of free days.  Things were still slow for a few days.  I have this idea that Bridgeport at .99 could (should?) produce at least 100 downloads every month.  It wasn’t looking good for August and I thought I had done permanent damage to my sales of the book.  Until the last few days when I went from 68 to 97 for the month.  Almost got there.  I’m done monkeying around with the price.  Bridgeport is now there at .99.  For good or bad.

Weed Therapy, however, has been completely flat.  What I learned from promoting Bridgeport has produced virtually nothing for Weed Therapy.  Lesson learned — different book, different genre, different approach.  I’m still noodling over this while waiting for some more reviews to come in.  There must be a way to find the audience for the book.  I just haven’t figured it out yet.

Another Update

Go here.  The Paperbook Collective is a new on-line literary/creative effort.  The September 1 issue is the second for Jayde Ashe, an Australian blogger who is trying to put out a monthly collection of poetry, short stories, photography, art — just about any type of creative mode.  I have two short pieces of flash fiction in the September issue.  Check it out and contribute yourself for future issues.

A Peek Inside

I think some people will look at President Obama’s speech yesterday and say once again that he is weak, that he vacillates, that he’s unwilling to take a stand, that he doesn’t know what he is doing.  Personally, I think what he did was a master stroke.  Everybody wants him to do something.  Nobody wants him to do anything.  Great.  Give it to Congress and let them figure out a way out of this mess.  Let the Republicans self-destruct over this and demonstrate, once again, their unfitness. It also turns back the tide of criticism about the Imperial Presidency — that in matters such as these where the Constitution and federal law requires Congress’s consent for military interventions Presidents should not go it alone without the required Congressional approval.  It actually returns the U.S. to a place it should have occupied for the last few decades but didn’t because of the fractures in our political system.  I’m looking forward to seeing how Congress handles this.

What do I think should happen?  I’m a believer in using force for purposes of good.  There are times when the powerful have a moral duty to protect the less powerful.  It’s why I supported Clinton’s efforts in Bosnia 20 years ago.  It’s why I thought we should have down more in the Sudan.  Yes, there are plenty of examples of such efforts producing no benefit or, worse, dragging us into a mess.

The Middle East is certainly a mess waiting to become a quagmire.  We have done enough damage to our standing in the area over the last sixty years and even more so in the last decade.  And there are enemies on all sides just waiting for the opportunity to turn one country’s civil war into something larger.  As a result, there are huge risks if we strike Assad’s regime or intervene more heavily in the civil war.  That said, a government’s use of chemical weapons is simply unacceptable.  The brutality the Assad family has unleashed on the people of Syria for decades at some point has to end.  I struggle with the idea that we should just stand by and watch.

And now a video for you …

Or two …

It’s 6:24 in the morning.  It’s dark outside, but the sun is about to make it’s appearance.  Time to go for a walk.



A Review … Middle of the Road???

After a summer of glowing four and five star reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads, I got a three star review for One Night in Bridgeport today.  Here it is in its entirety …

Jack has traveled to a small town (Bridgeport) to deliver papers regarding real estate sales bid. Lea has returned to her hometown from college, but has opted to stay the night at the Bridgeport Inn before going home. The two meet in the bar, Jack buys her a drink and one thing leads to that other thing. Next morning, Jack sneaks out very early in the AM. Unfortunately for Lea who woke up feeling like she’d like a relationship with this man. Her old school friend is now a lawyer, he takes her to dinner, she tells him her life story including the recent one night stand (why would she I ask??) Lawyer Butkis says she’s been raped and should press charges and refuses to believe her when she says she was a willing participant. Case proceeds with no physical evidence – he said/she said. Jack is a very unlikable fellow – he’s kind of skated through life on looks and charm. Lea is pretty but not to bright is my opinion. And a pushover. I only finished it to see how they managed to get to the predictable ending but I’m not gonna tell you how it ends. You can figure it out just like I did – its not difficult. Just not too good. Plus I was wondering about the large spaces between paragraphs, and/or conversation parts – taking up paper space when you don’t have enough of a good story to make it single spaced? Meh

I believe that reviewers should get to speak their mind.  To state their opinion.  I am perfectly willing to accept three star reviews.  Two star reviews.  And one star reviews.  But I’d at least like them to have some basis in reality, in what the story actually was.  I’m not going to pick on the reviewer’s grammar, spelling and punctuation.  I’ll let my readers do that.  😉

But come on.  Butkus (notice the correct spelling.  Oh, wait, I wasn’t going to cover that) didn’t take her to dinner.  He took her to lunch.  At which time she didn’t say she was a willing participant.  She was ambivalent and hurt and pissed off.  Jack has skated through his life on looks and charm?  Really?  Hey, readers of this blog — if you read the book, is that the sense you got of Jack, because it most certainly was not my intent to create that picture.

But the biggest problem with this review is the complaint about “large spaces between paragraphs” and the suggestion that I double spaced things to make up for the lack of a good story.  The story was almost 100,000 words, which these days is long compared to a lot of e-published books.  I’m going to need to go back to my Kindle and see what the story looks like on it.  I do know that I’ve learned since I originally pushed Bridgeport that I should get ride of the page break that begins each chapter in a paperback when I publish it to Kindle, but even with that the comment makes absolutely no sense to me and, ultimately, to me doesn’t belong in a review.  It’s like the people who give a one star review to a book because it didn’t arrive in the mail as soon as the reader thought it would.

Regular reader … if you read Bridgeport on your Kindle and thought there was too much white space, let me know.


It’s Not the Time of the Year

… or the Day of the Week.

It’s something else.  Maybe it’s the book.  Or the lack of reviews.  Or …

As I wrote about last week, I offered Weed Therapy for free for Kindlers (that’s a word I just made up by the way) for two days.  The effort netted me a grand total of 89 free downloads of the novel and no sales following the promotion.  As I wrote then, I didn’t do a lot to promote the effort — primarily just posting about it here that first day.  Much like I did when I offered One Night in Bridgeport for free for two days back in January.

At the same time that I scheduled Weed Therapy for the free days last week, I scheduled Bridgeport for two free days starting today.  And did nothing to promote it.  Not even here in my kingdom.

I went through my typical morning routine today.  Up around 6:15.  Read the paper.  Surf the internet for a few minutes.  Do my PT exercises (that’s new this week).  Get dressed.  And it’s off to work.  Hold on a sec.  Couple of key ingredients missing there.  Surfing the internet includes checking the Kindle Direct Publishing Report page to see what has transpired with my books over night.  As of 6:40 this morning, Bridgeport had 11 free downloads for the day.

While getting dressed, through the magic of my iPhone, I checked again.  13.  As I waited at a stop light to get on the freeway about 30 minutes later — 27.  Hmmm.  This could get interesting.

I’ll spare you the details of my monitoring of the KDP Report page during the course of the day and leave you with this.  As I write this at 7:30 p.m. on the first day of the two day free promotion, the tally has exceed 1,500 for the day.  The book stands at #162 Free in the Kindle Store.  (Side note here:  for some reason, Amazon is not showing the ranking of the book in its genre, which really bugs me.  They did it with Weed Therapy.  They do it everywhere else.  They aren’t doing it with Bridgeport today.  I’d love to know where it is in Legal Thrillers.)  And there’s another day to go.  Somewhere along the way tonight or early tomorrow morning, I’ll reach over 10,000 people who have downloaded the book.  Yes, all but about 1,600 or 1,700 of those did so during the free download promotions.  That’s OK.  10,000 people reading my book feels good.

I’m left then to wonder why this book and not the other.  I think there may be a few reasons.  The genre.  The number of reviews.  That these things take time, momentum needs to build, and maybe I rushed Weed Therapy.  I know this — I’m still begging you that if you’re one of the people who has Weed Therapy on your Kindle to read it and post a review.  There’s no way I’ll be able to get the momentum going on that book without more reviews.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep pondering the mysteries of this all.

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