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A Confession

I am an objective-driven person.  As it relates to writing, I don’t write just to write.  Particularly since I started publishing my own work via Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace, I write with an objective.  To get my books out there, to get feedback, to believe I am writing good stuff, and to, one day, figure out a way to make some money at this thing called writing.  One of the reasons I got sluggish about writing over the past couple of months is that I wasn’t seeing the objective anymore.  Without anything “new” out there and without running any promotions, or at least any that were working, I wasn’t seeing much in the way of sales and not a whole lot of new reviews.  And with my struggles to complete anything, I wasn’t seeing anything “new” on the horizon that would help meet my objective.

So, I withered for a time.  A couple of months of not believing the time and effort was worth it.  I’ve turned the page on that, however.  Last night, I finished my final edit of Northville.  I’ve got one more editor to go — my sister is a pretty incredible copy editor.  She finds all of the typos nobody else saw.  And then it will be on to the next chapter in Lily, Pete and Sophie’s story.  I’m undecided whether it will be a three novella series or one novel.  That’s my next decision.  I may just keep writing until I’ve got no more of their story to tell and see where it ends up.

My confession?  I’m a praise slut.  OK.  There, I said.  I’m a praise whore.  In person, when somebody tells me I done good, I’m embarrassed by it.  But behind the privacy of a computer screen, I can’t get enough of it and you can’t imagine how good it feels to read things like this:

Forty-something Kel is experiencing a mid-life crisis, but it’s not the typical crisis of wanting a sports car and a much younger girlfriend. His crisis revolves around a seemingly loveless marriage, two kids who don’t care if he’s around or not, and a job he despises. One night, after a conversation with a stranger in a bar, Kel decides to embark on a journey that may give him enlightenment, or if nothing else, a few days away from his unhappy household. Kel reaches his destination of Santo Cielo, Baja California, and seeks out Father Santos. Over the next week, the old priest teaches Kel lessons that have long been forgotten, and more importantly, shows him how happiness can be found in the simplest of things. In the ensuing weeks and months, Kel wrestles with what he has versus what he wants and needs, and agonizes over his needs versus the needs of his family.

This is a tremendously well-written story of one man’s struggle to find harmony and contentment, even where it may not exist. Eye-opening and thought-provoking, it delivers a powerful narrative of a man hurting inside, who only desires happiness for himself and his family. This book spoke to me (on so many levels) as few others have. There are some pearls of wisdom which the reader can take and apply to their own lives, especially the concept behind the title. An absolutely wonderful book. Five stars just aren’t enough!

That second paragraph describes exactly why I ended up writing Weed Therapy the way I did and my hope that it would reach people in a deeper way than just having read a story that was a throw-away.  (Yes, Beaver, if you read this, this is one story that had a point.)  The individual who wrote those two paragraphs is an unknown reader who has now read both of my short story collections and both of my novels, giving each of them five stars with glowing reviews to accompany the ratings.  That I have struck a chord with somebody who doesn’t know me is meeting the objective.

A co-worker just let me know that she finished reading the draft of Northville Five & Dime.  Her words for the story and my writing included “your writing is really powerful,” “a very insightful read,” and “never stop writing, you have a talent for it many don’t have.”

You can’t imagine how much I needed to read those words.  The review above, the comments from a friend.  They help.  They really do.  So, thank you to the strangers who post good reviews, the fellow writers I’ve met through blogging and who provide so much support, and to my friends, family and co-workers who continue to support my efforts.  It helps. It really does.


I’m Just Saying…

If you haven’t bought it already, here’s a chance to get Weed Therapy at a discounted price.  Discounted from $4.99 to $1.99 for today only, going up to $2.99 tomorrow.  Here’s your chance.

Click here to buy this. cover

From the reviews:

The first thing I would have you understand is that Mr. Paxson has a wonderful writing style, a great way of putting words together to paint a picture or convey a feeling in a story. The narrative about visiting the village, learning how these simple people find their happiness, and the conversations with the old priest remind me of Hermann Hesse’s writing. There’s something mystical and spiritual about the experience, and I wanted to soak in the aura as long as possible.

* * * * *

I loved the craftsmanship in the way this book was written and the author’s writing style. The word pictures created were superb. The beauty of the well written story was magical. The novel really moved me in a deep and spiritual way. Paxson’s insights and intuitions were well woven into this account of a man’s quest for understanding his own unhappiness. It reminded me that men, whom we often regard as the stronger, less emotional sex, really do have feelings, hopes, and desires.

* * * * *

It took me less than a couple of chapters to fall in love with this book and clear my schedule of everything else in order to give it the appropriate attention.

* * * * *

For those of us who have enjoyed his previous work and follow his blog, Mark Paxson throws a gentle curve ball with this poignant look at a marriage in crisis and a man seeking more from life than just routine. This novel is insightful and touching in its honesty. His language is expressive, his characterization of a father trying to relate to his sons in an uncommunicative marriage rings true, and his evocation of the Baja California landscape and a village of loving, open people invites the reader to make an escape from the humdrum rush of daily reality and find a quieter inner life. Great writing…looking forward to his next work.

Seriously, if you haven’t already, why not now?

Kindle Countdown … Or Not

Shortly after Weed Therapy was supposed to begin in the Kindle Countdown promotion, I checked the dedicated Countdown page.  The book wasn’t listed there.  I sent KDP an email.  I checked again at four hours.  The book wasn’t there.  I sent another email.  I checked again at eight hours.  The book wasn’t there.  I sent another email.  Then I went out for the evening and didn’t check again.

This morning I got the following email from KDP:

I understand you have concerns about a Kindle Countdown Deals promotion that did not run on time. I’ve checked your account and it appears that network latency delayed the start of your promotion.

Network latencies can occur while processing and sending data through communications systems, such as websites, due to things like traffic volume.

Further, I made some research and see that the Kindle Count Down programs for your title, “Weed Therapy,” is in progress now. You may verify the same here:

We appreciate your understanding. Thanks for using Amazon KDP.


Did I solve your problem?
Personally, I think this is their way of saying, we simply cannot move fast enough to get this done.  Never mind that I enrolled the book several days before November 2.  With those 48 or 72 hours, wouldn’t have been able to write the one extra line of code, or embed the one extra link that would have had it ready to go the morning of November 2?  Never mind that since yesterday morning, the number of books on the dedicated page has grown from 79 to almost 800.  Somehow Amazon doesn’t have enough IT staff on hand to write that one line of code, embed that one link, slip the switch … on any more than 700 books in a twenty-four hour period.  Amazing.
Here was my reply…
No, you didn’t solve my problem.  That’s great that the “deal” shows up on the Amazon page for my book, but for me the entire point of the promotion is that the book would also be featured on the Countdown Deal page.  As of the writing of this email, 24 hours after the promotion “started,” the book still is not listed on the Countdown Deal page.  As far as I’m concerned the promotion doesn’t actually start until the book is on that page.  What I’d like to have KDP do is re-adjust the promotion so that the promotion actually begins when the book is featured on the Countdown Deal dedicated page.  Otherwise the promotion is pointless.  Feel free to move the book as high up on the list as possible once it actually makes it to that page.
I’m pretty certain I’m not going to get what I’m asking for.

Technical Glitches?

No, this isn’t about Obamacare and the national health exchange, although I’m going to refer to it.  There’s this belief out there that governments are incapable of large information technology projects.  They all have massive cost over-runs and are delayed and, frequently, utterly fail.  Unfortunately, all of these horrible things frequently happen with government-run IT projects.  So, the misfires with the Obamacare system isn’t unusual.

Here’s the thing.  I was talking with an IT consultant a year or so ago and he let me in on the dirty little secret — corporations and businesses have just as many problems with implementing IT projects.  You just don’t hear about them because the media doesn’t care.  Which leads me to this.

On a much smaller scale than Obamacare, Amazon is demonstrating this.  The last time I did a free promotion, it was in the midst of Amazon’s losing the ability to rank many books in their genres.  So, while I was giving my book away, it wasn’t showing up in the genre rankings — which is pretty much the only reason you give your book away for free — to draw attention to it.

Now, Amazon has introduced a new promotion.  Kindle Countdown Deals.  Drop the price of your e-book at least 50% (or more), sign up for the promotion and they’ll, among other things, include your book on the special Kindle Countdown page on Amazon.  Sounds great.  I signed up.  Dropping Weed Therapy from 4.99 to 1.99 for two days, starting today.  Then to 2.99 for two days.  3.99 for two days.  Then back to 4.99.

The details show up on my Amazon page for the book.  The reduced price.  The countdown details.  The only problem is the book doesn’t show up on the page dedicated to Countdown Deals.  WHICH IS THE ENTIRE REASON I DID THE PROMOTION!!!!  Here’s the fascinating thing about this.  The number of books on that dedicated page has remained stuck at 79 for the last two or three days.  Which tells me something, because I’m smarticle like that — Amazon is having technical problems with its roll out of this promotion.  And they aint a government.  Seriously, if Amazon with all of its technological experience and prowess can’t even get right the linking of books to the dedicated page, how could the government possibly have got the Obamacare website operating smoothly right out of the gate.

Hallelujah, Pass the Butter

Thanks to Vince Dickinson, author of Fugue in C Minor and other works, I have officially crossed the rubicon.  A tenth review of Weed Therapy on Amazon.  He’s posted it on his website as well.   (P.S.  If you haven’t already, you really should give Vince’s novel a try.  I gave it four stars on Amazon because it got to that point where I couldn’t put it down.)

What I find remarkable about the reviews for Weed Therapy is the quality and depth of those reviews.  With Bridgeport, many of the reviews are nothing more than one liners.  I’m not complaining about those.  Believe me, I’m not complaining.  But, what impresses me about the WT reviews is that the story seems to have struck a chord with the readers (at least those posting reviews) to go beyond the simple one-liner.  The reviewers are writing about how the story relates to their own lives and experiences.  I truly believe that there are things in the story that virtually every adult can relate to and that’s what I need to address to come up with a way to market the book.

I have posted about my criticisms of Amazon and failed promotional efforts.  A few months ago, Amazon started a new promotional effort called Kindle Matchbook — where if you had purchased the paperback, you could get a discounted e-book version of the same book.  Which seemed pretty meaningless considering we’re already all at .99 per e-book.

Today, they announced a new promotional effort.  (Today, at least for me, since today was the first time I saw it.)  It’s called Kindle Countdown, or something like that.  Take your regularly priced e-book and discount it for a few days.  Amazon will provide a “countdown clock” showing the length of the discount and, here’s the piece I’m interested in seeing, feature your book on their Kindle Countdown page.  This is the type of thing they need to do more of.  Find ways to feature self-published authors.  I signed up.  Weed Therapy, which has been at $4.99 for the past few weeks, will be at $1.99 on November 2 for two days, moving to $2.99 for two days, and then to $3.99 for another two days, before settling back at $4.99.  Another piece of this … while their normal royalty for authors is 70% for anything above $2.99 and 35% for anything below $2.99, they will pay the 70% royalty rate for the lower prices during this type of promotion.

Again, I signed up.

And, now that I have ten reviews on Amazon, with an overall rating well above four stars, as soon as that promotion is over, I’m heading over to EReaderNewsToday.

Fingers crossed and pass the butter.

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