COVID-19 And Us

We’re living in unsettling times.

Dangerous times.

We’re all trying to cope while in the depths of a pandemic that threatens our lives and the lives of our loved ones. When our “leaders” advocate that the elderly should die to preserve the economy, tout “cures” for the novel coronavirus resulting in the unavailability of drugs for people who need them to survive, when preeminent medical experts are contradicted by a buffoon whose cultists hang on every word that spews from his mouth and says that the leaders of subnational governments in desperate straits should “praise” him and maybe then he’ll release the medical supplies he outbid them for and which they so desperately need, advocate that “stay-at-home” orders should be lifted so people can crowd the churches at Easter and get back to work where in many cases, it’s doubtful they’ll be able to keep the recommended distance from each other and in both instances raising the risk of infection…you know what I call that?

Attempted murder. On a grand scale.

And people vote for these monsters.

The hospitals trying to treat everyone who’s sick are really hard hit. They’re overwhelmed, especially in large urban areas. Not enough beds. Not enough equipment to go around. They’re starting to have to make the painful decision on which patients live and which patients die. Just like Italy. Today I read a story about a nurse in New York who died from COVID-19 because staff was reduced to wearing plastic bags for protection… Continue reading

Keyword Blues

For online book sales, keywords can make or break you.

The number of books for sale on online platforms is mind-boggling. Amazon alone has millions (I remember when it was a million, but that was a long time ago). With those numbers, you have to make it easy for readers to find your book. If they can’t find your book, you don’t make money.

That’s where keywords come in. Readers type a few words in the search bar, and Amazon shows you all the books that match the readers’ keywords. Here’s the trick. The author has to put in the right keywords in the book’s metadata so it’ll show up on the sales page. How does an author know she has the right keywords? That’s the second trick. She doesn’t.

So now what?

Lucky for the author, there are apps that’ll help her find the right keywords. I bought an app called Publisher Rocket, which helps me find the keywords–a single word or a phrase–to make it easier for readers to find my books. I plug a few words in the search bar, and the app shows me 1) whether my keywords are useful, 2) my competition (how many other authors use those keywords and the top 10 sellers) and the average daily and monthly income for each author, 3) helps me find the category that best matches my books, and 4) how often the keyword or keywords show up in Amazon searches.

It’s wonderful. For The Underground, I… Continue reading

I Write What I Know

One of the things a beginning author is always told is to “write what you know.”

Of course, that’s not true. If I’m setting a story in a place I don’t know much about–say, ancient Rome–Google is your friend. Just do the research. It’s all out there, and it’s free. Most of the time, anyway. That’s what I did for The Underground. The setting is Seattle and I’ve never been there. So I googled street maps, sunrise/sunset charts and temperature charts to figure out what time of year I wanted to set the story, stuff like that. And I talked to people–people who live there or who frequently travel to the city to get their take on its culture, nightlife, and so on. I spent a lot of time talking to a retired policeman who gave me lots of information and insight. None of it cost me a dime. It’s times like these when the internet is a wonderful thing.

Still, I think there are some things that the writer has to know, on a deep level, to pull off the story. That means the writer has to have personal knowledge, personal experience of what they’re writing about. For me, all my stories have an underlying message, messages that are borne of personal knowledge and experience. I don’t do this intentionally, but it always seems to happen. Most readers read for entertainment, and they may not “get” the underlying message. That’s fine. If they enjoyed my book, if it gave… Continue reading

Tornado!

That’s what life’s been feeling like lately. Except it ain’t takin’ me to Oz.

On the writing/marketing front, my newsletter subscriber list continues to grow–and fast. I signed up for this service called Voracious Readers Only, where the author submits a book and whoever chooses to read it gets a free copy. It’s a quid pro quo, though. The reader who chooses your book has to agree to sign up for your mailing list (of course, they can choose to unsubscribe later). So I signed up with them, putting up The Underground and its sequel Invasion on January 19 or 21–can’t remember which–and to date I have 219 subscribers, and only 3 have dropped out. More requests come in every day, usually 3 or 4, but sometimes many more. By now my fingers have a muscle memory of the “thank you” notes I write. Don’t get me wrong–I sure as hell ain’t complaining. Anyway, of those readers who have submitted reviews, their comments have been stellar, which is seriously gratifying. I’ve given them a couple hours respite from the drudgery, which tells me I’ve done my job as an author. One subscriber wrote to say he enjoyed The Underground so much he immediately turned around and bought Invasion, and is looking forward to the series. I hadn’t really planned on writing a series with these characters, but I guess I am, now. Think I found my tribe, folks.

Sometimes it bugs me I’m giving away so many free books,… Continue reading

Woikin’ Goil

Working to get my shit together. And there’s a lot of shit to get together.

Got The Final Victim back from my editor. Yeah, pretty much dipped in blood. Nothing really major–I don’t have to do a total rewrite–but it sure ain’t gonna be ready to send to subscribers by March 1 like I’d planned. Between that and the edits to The Moreva of Astoreth, who knows when When Gods Die is coming out? Ain’t gonna be in Summer 2020, I know that.

I’ve come to the conclusion I need something more than a calendar. I’m bad enough at remembering to look at it. But, I dunno, this is something different. A different kind of scheduling. Gaah! Am I talking about creating deadlines? Jesus jumping Christ on a stick!

And that’s just the author stuff.

Doesn’t help that I’m feeling exhausted. Guess that’s what happens when you barely sleep for a week. I have prescribed sleeping pills, but I have to find my pill cutter. Last time I took a whole one, I was so gone I peed in the bed. Couldn’t figure out why the back of my nightshirt was wet. I thought Daisy had done it, but then I woke up all the way and realized the wetness was right under my ass. Daisy slept close to me, but not that close. Speaking of Daisy, I’m really missing her. Sometimes when I wake up, I look over and wonder where she is. Sometimes when I’m in my office,… Continue reading

Clouds

Have you ever felt like there’s a cloud over your head? And it’s raining?

Yeah–that’s me, right now. But it isn’t just a cloud. It’s a damned thunderstorm. And it’s been thundering for a long time. *sigh* I could go into the gory details but I won’t, except to say it mostly has to do with the tax man. If I did go into detail, this post would be waaay too long. But I’m feeling beleaguered. Yes. That’s a good word.

The Moreva of Astoreth is back from the betas. Both have given me great advice but one beta’s is spectacular. She’s a developmental editor in real life. She didn’t give me the whole shebang (I would’ve had to pay for that). Her remarks though–I’ve a lot of work to do on it. I mean, not a total rewrite, or anything like that. Move stuff around, explain stuff early in the book. One thing she pointed out was as a reader, she would like to see an example of a ritual other than Ohra (which is an orgy). Explain Tehi’s religion more. Stuff I never even thought about. So the revised version is going to come out much later than I wanted, which means the sequel, When Gods Die, is going to come out later, too.

The Final Victim is with my editor. I’m pretty optimistic it won’t come back dipped in too much blood. Then I can get it formatted and all that stuff–that reminds me, I need to… Continue reading

The Death Of America

America died today.

The U.S. Senate voted to acquit 45 (I can’t bear to call him by name) of the two criminal charges pending against him. Of course, this was a no-brainer. We all knew it was going to happen.

Even so, I’d hoped against hope that the greed and corruption that has sunk this country into the depths of a bottomless cesspool would be overcome by enough Senators with integrity to allow America to begin a slow rise back into the light.

Not happening.

Don’t get me wrong–I’ve never been a flag-waver. For me, America was never the shining city on the hill. I’ve lived long enough to see Columbia butt-naked, showing her ass covered with putrid running sores. The ugliness of the people who live here, and the ugliness they show to each other. America has always been divided. The spin that America is a melting pot of peoples of all colors and creeds, pulling together, lifting this country into greatness is nothing but sheer propaganda. A lie, a cover-up of the truth that “Americans” are not united and never have been, even before this country was founded. The Statue of Liberty notwithstanding, America has never welcomed immigrants. The first immigrants were criminals and other outcasts, and adventurers looking to make big bucks. They killed the Native people already here and took their lands. When more immigrants arrived, they were pushed west. They too, trampled the Native peoples. The adventurers among them searched for riches, and found “gold… Continue reading

State Of The Union

WHAT A FUCKING JOKE!!

One of my favorites was about lifting people off welfare. 45 got ’em off welfare, all right. He KICKED them off.

Nancy Pelosi’s ripping the speech in two was PRICELESS!

I’ll be laughing in my sleep.

Ciao.

First Seven Days

So Daisy Mae’s been gone a week.

Really, I’ve been too sick to grieve. Was finally able to drag myself to the doctor last Wednesday, because by then I knew damned well it wasn’t the flu. Doc says it’s bronchitis. Gah. Nothing to do for the cough except lots of cough syrup and drops. Well, lemme tell ya–you know you got it bad when your drink of choice is Nyquil. I must’ve drunk at least a gallon of the stuff over the past 10 days. And let’s not forget I’ve strained my back muscles from all the coughing. That’s really fucked up.

Maybe it’s better this way? I’ve been too busy trying to stay conscious to think about my loss.

Once I reached the state of semi-consciousness, I did some writing in between bouts of passing out. When I took breaks, I’d turn around, expecting to see her lying flat out on the floor. Got a little jolt of surprise to see she wasn’t there. One time, I’d rallied enough so that the brain was just pumpin’ along, and I heard these thumps in the hallway. If you know anything about Great Danes, it’s that their footsteps aren’t exactly quiet. Anyway, the thumping stopped and I turned. She wasn’t in the doorway. I’m like “shit!” and jump out of the chair, hobble to the door and peek into the hallway. Nothing. I walked all around the house, and there’s still nothing. Returned to my office and went back to work.… Continue reading

First Night

I was right.

My bed felt so huge and empty. Half-asleep, I wondered why I didn’t feel that spot of heat in the middle of my back. Then I’d wake up and remember. My puppy girl isn’t here anymore.

I stayed with her until she died. I promised her that. I kept my hand on her, massaging her neck. There came a point where I knew she couldn’t feel me anymore, but I couldn’t let go. And then she was gone.

These past two weeks have been from hell. The job–trying to get this new column put to bed. It was a profile/interview with someone, and what makes it hard is that you’re on deadline and they’re not. Last minute edits, “stop the presses!” stuff like that. The following week, trying to get your work done and you know something weird is going down. Then, on a day you have off, you develop a persistent, nagging cough that’s really annoying but you don’t pay it any attention ’cause you got work to do, places to go and people to see. And the next day…the shit totally hits the fan. Vertigo–can barely stand up straight. Head feels like it’s about to separate from your neck. Your five senses are totally whack. And that annoying cough? Your body is wracked with it. You ever cough so hard you throw up? Muscles clenching until your midsection feels as if someone has used it for a punching bag. Your neck, too. I threw my… Continue reading