ABNA was nice while it lasted, but…

…not, in retrospect, quite as nice as I’d expected.

Amazon Publishing’s Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is a brilliant idea to acquire new authors of quality work, usually without the fuss of agents, while building engagement among its self-published authors and readers. Kudos to them for coming up with it.

I wasn’t at all sure about entering. The Awful Mess is women’s fiction, and it would be up against the entire general fiction category. My book verges on romance, and it has progressive religious elements. I didn’t think either aspect was going to help it. My book also has two sex scenes and some bad language. This didn’t seem to fit the guidelines for the contest. Finally, I suspected that this whole process would be a bit of a distraction from my game plan. And it was.

On the plus side, getting to the quarter finals would include a free Publishers Weekly review. And a couple of fellow authors, including one who’d made it to the quarter-finals before, urged me to jump in. I did my research and noticed generally strong marketing by Amazon for the previous winners. So, ultimately, I did jump in, with a version in which the two explicit sex scenes were jumped over.

And, as it turns out, the book made it to the quarter-finals and then into the semi-finals — which is to say, it was one of five semi-finalists for the general fiction category.

I'm in there with the ABNA semi-finalists -- I'm not just making it up!

Yes, I really was in there with the ABNA semi-finalists — I’m not just making it up!

Personally, I would not be shocked if Amazon was behind the scenes somewhere guiding this result, since they might have noticed that this book was doing pretty well for an indie debut (in its first year it sold over 1,200 copies, and had over 50,000 free downloads). If I were an acquisitions editor in their publishing division, I might think this looks like an author with potential. (The book that won the general fiction category was already self-published, too, and doing even better.)

I especially wondered this after I got my sought-after review — which, it turned out, was not really a Publishers Weekly review, in the sense of being a review actually written for and published in Publishers Weekly. It was uniformly positive, for which I was very thankful, but it seemed a little off, as if the person who wrote it hadn’t really read the entire book. It suggests that my heroine fends men off (she tries, but she’s not very good at it), and references the “rowdy bars” of the small New England town. I suppose there is one kerfuffle in one bar, but it’s hardly a major plot element. It also uses the phrase “small New England town” twice in six sentences. While I’m very grateful that it is so positive, it’s not something I can easily use for marketing, especially since I have to explain that it’s from the ABNA contest and the book was not exactly the same. So I consider this aspect a bit of a bust.

I decided that I would not attempt to enlist my friends or mount a social media campaign to gain reviews for the ABNA excerpt. I already had 170+ real reviews on the full novel, so it seemed kind of silly. Also, I was moving house and had no time to even send out a press release. This may or may not have played a part in the reality that I didn’t win my category.

Part of the reason I didn’t fight for it may be that I was feeling ambivalent about becoming an Amazon Publishing author. That it would be financially advantageous, I have little doubt. I notice that Amazon promotes its own books quite effectively, and I considered the contract all semi-finalists sign eminently fair (I once worked as an acquisitions editor, so I am more familiar with publishing contracts than most folks). But whether Amazon was likely to be a happy partner with me as I moved ahead on later books — books with even more sexual themes, plus some controversial content in the second — I wasn’t sure.

I noticed they had a truly huge list of authors in their various publishing imprints, so I had no idea what kind of attention I would get (not that I have any complaints about communication from them during this process — it was always prompt and courteous). And while Kindle Select was a great place to launch The Awful Mess, staying exclusive to Amazon would mean no branching out into Kobo, Nook, the iStore, or bookstores going forward. It might get me even less access to local bookstores than I already have as an indie. I’m not sure what it would mean for libraries, but I doubt it would help much.

Finally, my sales dipped pretty precipitously during this process. Most of this, I’m sure, is because I haven’t been promoting. After signing that contract, I wasn’t sure how much I could promote. When I finally asked, initially I was told I could do anything as a self-publisher, but then when I double-checked before confirming a BookBub promotion, and the product manager also double-checked, the lawyers said that during final voting that kind of promotion would be a no-no. Part of the sales dip may also be that I let my Kindle Select status expire because I was planning to branch out into the other retailers once I had safely lost. (Does Kindle Select status provide a measurable sales advantage on Amazon? I don’t know. I do miss the income from loans, though.) Part of it may also be confusion between the ABNA excerpt and the full book, though I doubt it.

At any rate, at this point I’m so close to launching the second book that I’m going to go ahead and get those ducks lined up before I do any serious promoting. I’m now aiming to get that published this fall. (If you’d like to be notified when it’s out, make sure you sign up for my mailing list, and then make sure you also opt in when you get the confirming email.)

So, fellow writers, if you’ve participated in ABNA at any point, did you feel it was productive for you? Would you recommend it to others? Would you do it again?



Mulling results from a Kindle Countdown Deal

One of the principles I follow as an independent publisher is that just about anything is worth trying.

When I first published, I discovered that offering The Awful Mess: A Love Story free through Kindle Select could pay off quite nicely in reviews and in residual sales that at least paid my advertising costs, although it was clearly not the magic bullet that it might once have been for indie publishers.

This time I tried the new Kindle Countdown Deal, supported with notices at affordable Awesome Romance Novels, free eReader Cafe, and (most expensively) at BookGorilla, as well as a notice at eBookSoda, which was thankfully free since I screwed that one up. (Turns out you have to do a separate Kindle Countdown Deal in the UK, and I didn’t realize that. And since eBookSoda is based in the UK, they went with my non-sale pricing.)

I would most certainly have used BookBub if I could have, but it wasn’t available to me (titles can only be there once every six months). I suspect my ranking would have been higher with it. Then again, it stayed so consistent throughout the promotion that it might be that I simply hit my title’s natural “level” and stayed there as long as Amazon’s promotion was in effect.

But even the first day, at 99 cents and with limited exposure, my book shot up in sales. It ranged between 1,800 to 2,500 in the Kindle store, which kept me on the first page of the bestseller lists for literary humor, literary romance, and women’s fiction humor.

This goes to show the importance of having useful key words, by the way. If you look at the shot on the right, you see that my book got highlighted as a hot new release in literature and fiction>humor and satire>humor — which helped drive further sales, I’m sure. (Mind you, the fact that I’m a “hot new release” was probably accidentally abetted by my new cover, which I didn’t realize would give this edition a new release date.) If my only key word had been romance (and no literary), I might not have shown up anywhere.

080078Changing a couple of keywords at mid-course didn’t seem to have any impact, though. (I switched from “divorce” to “dating and relationships” and from “New Hampshire” to “United States.”)

It’s also interesting to me that the “Love Story” in my subtitle no longer generates inclusion in searches for love stories. Perhaps Amazon got tired of all the keywords showing up in  titles and subtitles and has changed its algorithms to avoid rewarding that.

I had planned to do more, but the week with my parents in Florida had not allowed as much engagement with anything online as I’d hoped, and then I came down with a miserable cold, or perhaps the flu-shot version of the flu, and ended up barely functioning  for most of my countdown week.

A more prepared person certainly would have dovetailed more promotions into the middle and end of this deal to keep sales coasting along longer. They dropped off very fast at the conclusion of the deal; I’m seeing minimal residual sales now.

But I really can’t complain. It worked well while it was working. Amazon provides a pretty neat report on this strategy, too. Their useful report tells me I sold over 500 copies in my sale week, up from only a few the week before. (Beyond that, I also had a number of borrows.)

Although the book sales rate was about even, the income was much higher at the end for the 71 hours I was at $1.99, versus the earlier 96 hours at 99 cents. And I didn’t promote the second tier with any external marketing, so I have to assume that was primarily due to Amazon’s own Kindle Countdown Deal promoting, though I suppose my occasional tweets and kindly retweets from GreatBooksGreatDeals and Awesome Romance Novels (as well as fellow authors) might have helped.

Would it have worked as well if I’d gone out with $1.99 as my first sale price? I doubt it, but it’s impossible to know without testing.

It could be that the recent book giveaway I ran on Goodreads helped in some way, too, though I can’t say it helped to any great degree with book sales in its immediate aftermath. I did revise my giveaway ad there to support the Countdown Deal and got a few clicks. (Apparently the lifetime .05% click-through rate on my ads over there is considered good, but I can’t say I see that as driving any particular trend.)

One temptation from all this is to assume that dropping the price to $1.99 would make sense. Amazon of course prevents this by not allowing anyone to drop the price for 14 days after a Countdown Deal. But I’m also doubtful that it would help a lot. First of all, I’d be earning at a lower royalty rate (and maintaining your regular royalty rate is part of what makes Countdown Deals appealing). Second, I’ve tried lower pricing and haven’t really seen much pop from it. In fact, 99-cent pricing actually seemed to depress sales. Then again, I seem to do best in the humor and literary fiction categories, where price may signal something it doesn’t in, say, the romance category.

It might be worth trying $2.99, though.

I had been planning to leave Kindle Select at the end of my current enrollment period so I could get out to the other sites. Now I’m not so sure. I don’t expect to have my next title ready until summer, and I suspect that another round of a Countdown Deal, this time supported by BookBub, would be worth trying.

Other questions I’m currently mulling:

  • Should I enter the book in the Amazon Breakthrough Awards? It feels a little ass-backwards when I’ve already sold 1200 copies or so (not to mention given away 50,000). I particularly question this since the wording of the contest rules suggests I should enter the PG13 version rather than the one with the two sex scenes in it.
  • Should I just drop that PG13 edition? People looking for my book by my name or the book title often end up there, for some reason. It’s confusing, and confusion is not your friend when you’re trying to sell something. On the other hand, I’m also worried about what happens to the book purchased by the rare souls who have purchased the PG13 edition. Will it disappear from their Kindles?
  • What’s the best next move? Come out with an anthology of short stories I’m willing to sell super cheap (Missionary Dating and Other Not Terribly Literary Stories), or come out with the next novel? Or should I try another round with literary agents, now that I’ve established a little credibility out in the marketplace?

Who the heck knows? Meanwhile, I’m also busy trying to sell this house. So … life is full.

Feel free to offer your advice, and share any thoughts or experiences you might have had with Kindle Countdown Deals.

A Goodreads giveaway!

(for US readers)
Just a quick note here for our regular readers — and please feel free to pass the news along to your reading friends.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Awful Mess by Sandra  Hutchison

The Awful Mess

by Sandra Hutchison

Giveaway ends January 12, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


Staying the course

I’m in the midst of (distractedly) grading the final research papers for my four English composition classes, so this will have to be a short post.

My paperbaPaperbackck went live on Amazon this week, which was interesting because, as I pretty much expected, the only people to buy it immediately were my parents. Which is just funny, really.

A few friends and family have requested multiple copies, so there’s that. (Yay, friends and family.)

I haven’t been able to do much marketing to support the release, what with the four classes and the unpredictability of the process, but that’s okay. At a friend’s suggestion I’m trying to throw together a little book launch party, but that’s not looking too healthy, either. This is a crazy time of year to squeeze one more thing in.

And sales even of the Kindle version have been slow. But I need to remember what the agents knew much better than I did: even a good debut novel is a challenge to sell in this market without some sort of compelling platform for the author. And I need to remember: That’s why I’m doing it this way. I can afford to fail and just keep writing and getting stuff out there until I gain some traction. In the meantime, I’m in print. And I’m learning.

So far I’ve actually been pretty fortunate, with more sales than the majority of first-timers, and some very nice positive reviews.

So, I really need to get back to what ought to be my primary focus — getting more books out there. Not that I’ll stop marketing, because that’s just too hard for me to do. It’s part of my professional background after all, so I find it embarrassing to just let it go. (On the other hand, my clients have always had much bigger budgets for marketing than I do.)

So the real focus here has to be getting more material out there.

And now I need to go back to grading (where I just discovered that one of my students and I — since I’d approved her source — were fooled by a fake scholarly journal. There’s another hazard of the brave new world of online publishing!)

For now, I wish you happy reading, and good luck with storms, semesters, holiday prep, and all the rest.

Pride goeth before a fall (or at least a misspelling)

One of the risks of calling this enterprise SHEER HUBRIS PRESS is that there’s a little extra irony — a wonderful soupçon of inevitability, really — when I screw up.

Only on this last revision of The Awful Mess: A Love Story did Amazon’s converter notify me of a spelling error I didn’t even realize was a spelling error. And I’m an English teacher and a former editor! (No, I won’t tell you what it is. You get extra points if you can find it, but it’s already gone in the Kindle store.) Alas, it was NOT caught before I’d ordered my book proofs. That’s expensive and time-consuming, because it means another round of proofs.

Most of the stuff I caught this time around was minor. There were words not italicized when I wanted them to be, and some inconsistent use of italics in general (I won’t pretend to have fixed that). There was a scene in which my heroine managed to fit “showers” into a space of time that would only allow one. There was a comma outside single quote marks. (The horror!)

Then there was my p013anic attack about apparently skipping an entire chapter in my chapter numbering. Thankfully, the guy working on the book told me my numbering was fine, since I later found the missing chapter under the desk, where it had hidden after Bo knocked over my neat stack of pages. (He’s not a great office assistant.)

I also developed some concerns about my use or non-use of the subjunctive tense. But this one’s a little tougher, because there’s an argument to be made that English is gradually losing this tense. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, but it’s something I have observed in common practice. And that’s how English always evolves — in common practice.

This section reserved for grammar nerds

Generally speaking, if you construct a conditional sentence about something that is not true, the subjunctive tense (or mood) is required. In other words, if Arthur says “It would be much worse if I was taking this kind of interest in you and you were in my church,” I’m pretty sure he is being ungrammatical.

I believe that “was” should be a “were” because Mary is not, in fact, in his church. Though since he is interested in her in fact and it’s in a compound sentence, I suppose we could debate the matter — after all, the second part could be subjunctive rather than just straight past tense, and English isn’t mathematics with handy parentheses to help us figure out in which order to solve the equation. That’s why I didn’t do it the first time. But being consistent with tense within a sentence is a good thing. So I edited that one this time around.

I did this since Arthur is clearly well-educated, so he should probably use the subjunctive instinctively. However, people speaking are not always as grammatical as they are on paper. So … I don’t know. Honestly, I think I could have gotten away with it. (Feel free to weigh in.)

Later, I’m quite certain I could have gotten away with it if Annie had said, “Maybe if he was about twenty years younger and not so damned religious.” Annie has already confessed that she hates writing and can’t spell. She probably wouldn’t know the subjunctive tense if it came up to her in a bar and bit her on the butt. However, in my book she actually says “…were about twenty years younger.” That’s because I used it unconsciously. Should I have? Probably not. But I left it as it was.

The reality is that 99% of readers won’t notice a missing subjunctive tense and 50% of the remaining 1% won’t care even if they do.

The challenge of regional colloquialisms

At another point I wimped out on something I had done intentionally wrong in the book, and had always meant to include somehow because it was something I so enjoyed hearing when I lived there. Many New Hampshire residents routinely employ the double negative. For example, you might hear:

“I need to make a trip to Keene.”

“So don’t I!”

I wanted Winslow to sound at least a little local and at one point I had him saying, “So hasn’t everybody.” But then I just couldn’t stick to it. People who were not familiar with the local grammar would think I’d made a mistake. Maybe if I’d found a way to get Bert to say something like that, I could have stuck to it. Maybe if I’d added something like, “lapsing into the local dialect, Winslow said, ‘So hasn’t everybody’.”  But that would have taken people out of the flow of the narrative. So he just says, “So has everybody.”

Sometimes it might make sense to do things wrong on purpose. For example, every once in a while I have found that there is really no good way to avoid an instance of poor agreement like “Your child never knows when they might be called upon to perform” without resorting to an awkward “he or she, ” which is one of the clunkiest constructions in the English language, and one that very few people use it in common speech. In my days in educational publishing we used to take pains to alternate between the he and she, always choosing the less gender-stereotypical gender. (“Your child may wish to become an engineer. So she needs to…”) Usually I try to find a way to avoid the problem, but in advertising we’ve sometimes just knowingly committed the error instead.

Other times, I’m the stickler. I can remember an unexpectedly bitter debate once with another writer who declared that semi-colons should never be used in dialogue. I disagreed. If we’re going to punctuate based on what people are actually thinking as they speak, there’s not much call for any punctuation. But people are reading our dialogue, not listening to it. Even in a script, actors have to read that dialogue and make sense of it. Punctuation is simply there to help our words make sense. Semi-colons are a useful part of the arsenal of sense-making. Of course, I also know from my students that there an awful lot of people who have no idea when they should be fired.

English is always flowing and changing. Consider the news that “selfie” has been added to the Oxford Dictionaries. Or just watch your local evening news, or commercials. Certainly our local stations appear to have decided that copy editors are a luxury they can’t afford anymore. Brian Williams also seems to delight in constructions like “What about them Red Sox,” though I hope that’s just his idea of sounding cool.

I wasn’t trying to be cool with my errors, and I have no excuse other than trying to do all this stuff myself. Someday, I hope to make enough money at this to be able to hire the most tight-assed proofreader in the universe to check my work. In the meantime, I make do with what I have at hand: me, the friends who read my early drafts, and a few sharp-eyed readers who are willing to share.

Do feel free to help me out with that by catching my errors.By the laws of irony, there should be at least one or two in this very blog post.

Book updates

This week my book has a wonderful new cover — if it ever shows up. Amazon is taking a very long time to update it. It appears that they require actual humans to look at new covers before they publish them now, which is probably smart given that it has a (tastefully) naked person on the cover.

For those of you who are waiting on the paperback, I’m sorry. Thanks to that spelling error, I now have to do another round of proofs, which also requires waiting for book proofs to arrive in the mail. Hopefully it will be available for order by the end of the week, but I can make no guarantees.


My debt to The Scarlet Letter

I’ve been agonizing a bit about whether to get rid of all traces of The Scarlet Letter in my sales copy.

I think it might scare away a lot of readers, especially some romance readers I might otherwise attract, and it also likely means nothing to overseas readers. Certainly BookBub didn’t mention it in their copy, and judging from the response I had to my free days with them, they are true masters of book blurb copywriting … not that it’s necessarily all that hard to persuade people to download something that’s free.

This weekend, as I dipped back into the 100,000ths in Kindle sales rank for the first time since my free days (ouch), I started tweaking my sales copy to take advantage of two sections I hadn’t used before, Editorial Reviews and From the Author, which allowed me to write directly to potential readers.

But it could be I’m just making things worse. I added what you’ll read below to the From the Author section, because 1) it’s true, and 2) I hope it indicates that while I owe a debt to Hawthorne, my book is going to be a different sort of read.

I’ve also added more detail to some of my eight points here, since I’m assuming you might be more interested than the general audience at Amazon.

Here it is:

From the Author

I wrote The Awful Mess: A Love Story as a way of puzzling out why three gifted Episcopal priests I knew would mess up their careers by getting into trouble with women who were not their wives. I also wondered about the women who would mess with a married priest. And since I’m a woman myself and not in even the slightest way a priest, I ended up telling the story from the woman’s point of view.

Eventually I realized that what I was writing echoed The Scarlet Letter in a lot of ways. I began to see this book as my response to Hawthorne from across a century-plus (his was published in 1850). So I reread his book, and decided that…

  1. The Scarlet Letter is so much more fun to read as an adult than as a high school senior.
  2. For a book involving adultery, Hawthorne sure skipped over a lot of the good parts.
  3. Unlike Hawthorne, I was going to have to explain how two people with access to birth control and certain medical procedures could get into this particular predicament.
  4. Chillingworth is a wonderful villain, but not at all typical. It is usually women, not their lovers, who have the most to fear from angry men.
  5. Americans are much more tolerant today, but that doesn’t mean there are no consequences for bad behavior.
  6. Nobody names a daughter Hester anymore. (Almost nobody. I actually saw the name on a business van at the local grocery store this week! It was for some sort of cleaning service. I wanted to take a picture of it, but I was afraid the owner would come out and demand to know why I was photographing her van.)
  7. No child, even a fictional one, should ever be saddled with the symbolic weight Hawthorne loaded onto poor little Pearl.
  8. I didn’t want the same ending, and in today’s world Hawthorne’s ending wouldn’t make much sense anyway. (It may not have made sense in his day, either — people often don’t realize that this was a historical novel when it was published about a decade before the Civil War.)

That’s pretty much where I stopped for my book page, besides the usual call to action.

Do you remember reading The Scarlet Letter? What did you think of it? If you found it a dreary assignment in high school, you might consider trying it again. (Definitely skip that  deadly-dull introduction “The Custom House,” though.) Even better, you can download The Scarlet Letter free at Amazon.

I found it much easier to read Hawthorne’s later novel The Blithedale Romance. It’s an often quite funny novel about a bunch of mid-nineteenth century hippies living in a commune, obsessing about natural food and seething with sexual tension. In other words, it’s about those crazy Transcendentalists. And it’s free in multiple formats at gutenberg.org. If you’re familiar with Emerson, Fuller, Alcott, and Thoreau, you might enjoy reading it just to try to figure out who might be a thinly-veiled portrait of whom.

My own insights into that gang came mostly from reading the diary of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s wife Lydian — Lydia, actually, but he preferred she go by a less ordinary name (!!!). It was loaned to me by the lovely Prof. Emerson at UMass when I was taking American Lit with him. All I can say is that if you want the real dirt on a man, definitely read what his wife writes about him.

And here’s a portrait of our famous author as a young man. Nathaniel Hawthorne was lucky enough to come from a wealthy, distinguished family that could support him (and, presumably, pay for this lovely painting) before he made a critical success of his writing.


Nathaniel Hawthorne, by Charles Osgood (1841) in the Peabody Essex Museum (via Wikipedia)

Even so, it’s interesting to read that although it was considered a critical success, Hawthorne sold only 7,800 copies of The Scarlet Letter during his lifetime, according to Kathryn Harrison’s introduction to the Modern Library Edition of 2000.

This is a reason to take heart, downtrodden writers! One of your books might really take off and make some serious money for someone someday.

It’s just very possible that it won’t be for you.

An update on my three free days

Those of you who suffered with me as my original five planned days got whittled to three thanks to my very own awful mess with Amazon will be happy to hear things worked out fairly well, though I would definitely have preferred to have all five days. Amazon did spot me some extra hours, though I’m not sure if this was an oversight or a favor (!).

It was incredibly fun to watch those books fly off the virtual shelf. It was particularly fun for this old English major to pass Jane Eyre and then The Scarlet Letter in the top 100 free books in the literary fiction section.

HA HA HAWTHORNE!I also made it to #1 in top 100 free for women’s fiction, next to a book I’m including just for its wonderful cheesecake factor:

Great abs, dude!

Here’s the run down:

  • 6,537 copies were downloaded free
  • Actual sales have increased rather nicely since the free offer ended, though some are clearly accidental purchases (I’ve had a few returns)
  • There’s been a nice jump in people listing it as “to read” on Goodreads
  • I haven’t seen any new reviews yet, but I’m hopeful I’ll get some (nice ones, that is!)
  • I’m trying very hard not to watch the sales report obsessively anymore
  • Job #1 now is producing the paperback and getting the next book into shape (well, after doing my real job #1, which is teaching four comp classes)

I will do a little encore in October with my last two free days, if only to make amends with some local folks who got the wrong publicity, and to make use of some advertising I would otherwise lose. (Kindle Nation Daily and BookBub and E-Reader Cafe were all very sweet about my misadventures, though I notice BookBub has now changed its policies, probably to better cope with people like me.)

If you’re on my book updates or blog subscription lists, you’ll get that news via email. See the left column or down below left to sign up (it depends on what page you’re on when you read this). I’ll also let you know when the paperback has an official release date, or at least is on the way.

Thank you for all your support!

I particularly thank you if you helped spread the news, which I know many of you did. Feel free to keep passing along anything you consider not too obnoxiously spammy. Remember, all profits this month go to Feeding America, and the current 99-cent bargain price disappears at the end of September.

And, in case you didn’t already catch it on Facebook, here I was in a rather salmon-ish orange for Hunger Action Day September 5.

Hunger Action Day

September is Hunger Action Month!

And to help raise funds, I’ve reduced the price of the book to 99 cents, the lowest I can go for now. I’ve supported it with some advertising (at least some of which I was able to update to my new situation). Hopefully this will spark some sales this month, because I’ll be giving all my book profits for September to FEEDING AMERICA via this virtual campaign page: http://help.feedingamerica.org/goto/awfulmess

I’ll also give 10% from then on. I’ll report on the results when I have them (I’ll have a sales report at the end of the month, with the actual payment two months beyond that.) You’re free to pitch in if you’d like, by the way. But what I’d love is for you to share news about the book and the campaign this month to anyone you think might be interested.

If B&N takes the PG-13 version of the book down before I get into further trouble with a certain online empire, I may try to throw in a few of the free days I’d planned. Unfortunately I can’t promise anything on that yet. (I’m sure learning from my stupid newbie mistakes, though. More about that next week.)

You don’t have to buy or read the book at all to help raise funds or awareness of food insecurity this month. You can simply visit Feeding America’s Facebook Hunger Action Month Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/FeedingAmerica/app_420593998060788. Give them some likes, or share their news directly.

Personally, I’m more than provided for when it comes to food: Check out yesterday’s  harvest from my garden!


And thank you also for all your support in what has been a rather trying week!

Escape from the tyranny of social media marketing

Not really … but I am going to loosen the bonds a little. I’ve decided to cut back to once-a week blogging (on Mondays). I’m not getting enough new fiction writing done. It also turns out that I will have at least three courses next semester after all, so I’m going to be busier in the fall than I expected. This is GOOD news, but it means I’ll have less time for this.



Plugging along … curtains closed

It seems as if just about everything I want to do with this web site depends on getting something else done first. (For example, right now I really ought to be manhandling my first five chapters into an attractive book format that I can save as a PDF so I can offer them free on the site by Wednesday, my personal deadline for going live.)

The most baffling aspect of this new enterprise is running this site. I’ve never blogged before, and I’m new to everything WordPress, especially the wonderful world of plug-ins and widgets.

In any case, the world is already rife with authors’ blogs. I plan to update only occasionally here, with anything that looks like it might be particularly interesting for readers of my books.

I’ve turned off comments on most of the site because of the endless comment spam. You can make comments below, but I have to moderate them, so they may not show up right away.  (Otherwise, you’d mostly see a bunch of determined folks from China telling me how great this site is, with links designed to sell you handbags.)