This Is The Life

So how are you all out there in Quarantine Land?

I’m not doing too bad, actually. As a friend recently told me, I live my life on lockdown, so for me nothing’s really changed. I work from home and I hardly ever go out, except to the grocery store, the gym (now closed and I’m getting fat) and occasionally for entertainment, like a play. Or a movie, if I get dragged along. I do miss my hair stylist and the lady who does my mani/pedis, though. Hair, nails and feet looking pretty rough these days, you know? Starting tomorrow, (the 18th) I can’t go out of my house without a mask. Governor’s order. If I do and get caught, it’ll be a hefty fine. I have visions of the county police cruising the streets in force, looking out for wrongdoers. Being black, I sure don’t want to give them a reason to stop me. Might get shot, and I have no interest in giving them some target practice.

So the masks are on order. I bought two kinds. One is just a cloth mask, and the other is one of those carbon filter things that makes you look like something out of a sci-fi horror movie. I bought the carbon filter after the cloth. Was just fartin’ around, and found a company that had them on sale–a twofer. So, yeah. They’re washable, so while one is drying, I can wear the other. I did find one mask I was so tempted to buy. It has LED rainbow lights. How cool is that? But I didn’t. Trying to be more responsible these days. Anyway, the cloth isn’t going to be shipped until April 23, but the carbon filters will mostly likely go out tomorrow. Maybe Monday.

The day job. Us contributing editors have these video chats on the 1st of the month, but now we’re going to a weekly format. For what reason, I don’t know. Anyway, the bigger boss thinks it’d be cool if he could see everybody’s face. Which means I have to buy a webcam. I don’t like them because they make me anxious. I don’t like someone being able to see me while I’m at the computer. I guess it’s just a quirk of mine. The laptop that was issued to me has a webcam, but I have a big monitor attached to the laptop because I can’t work on one. Screen’s too small for me to see what I’m typing. Before you think it, yes, I could wear my glasses, but they don’t work so well, either. I have bifocals, but the lenses are pitched just so that the laptop screen is blurry. So I asked for, and they sent me this big, honking 24-incher. I can see that just fine–as long as I zoom in to 150%. My personal monitor is even bigger. It’s 27 inches. I can see that just fine, too–as long as I zoom in to 150%. If I don’t, I’m hunched over the keyboard, and that makes my shoulders and back hurt. In any event, what having this webcam means is that I’ll have to start combing my hair. Damn. Maybe I can just wear a hat.

I’m taking a course on Amazon ads. How to make them, tactics, stuff like that. I’ve been lax on doing my homework for the past couple of days (shame, shame) but I’ll catch up this weekend. I did do one lesson’s homework and put up an ad for The Underground. Not doing much. I mean, I know I have to play around with it to find the right combination, but I’ve found putting out ads for that book never do too well. I think it’s because readers find it too weird, or that it can’t be any good. Vampires, werewolves, witches and…an alien. What’s funny is that the reviews from those who do read it are usually 4 and 5 stars. The readers who give less than that generally say the same thing–too hard to follow. Well, lots of folks don’t seem to have that problem, so it must be them. Anyway, it seems to me the key lies in finding just the right verbiage. The next ad I put up, I’m going to try the tagline–“There are no morals when survival is at stake.” Hm. Maybe change it to “For paranormals, there are no morals when survival is at stake.” See if that attracts more attention.

The Final Victim edits are going pretty well. The woman who usually edits my work is really good. I don’t agree with all of her suggestions, but those I do agree with always makes for a fuller story. More of an emotional punch. Each time she does an edit on one of my manuscripts, I learn something valuable. And speaking of The Final Victim (my freebie to my newsletter subscribers) I’m up to 362, now. In February and March, I got refunds from the service that finds readers for my books. It’s 20 bucks a month, so if you get over a certain number of subscribers during that period, I guess you get charged less. Fine by me!

I’ve been really active on Twitter, lately. Not so much posting, but replying. Some of my followers are pretty cool. It’s like Facebook, though. The followers you don’t interact with much don’t show up in your feed. On FB, I have well over 4,000 “friends,” but I see only a small fraction in my feed. On Twitter, I have well over 2,000. Same thing. Anyway, one of my newer friends is Romanian, and we chat a lot. I told him I know Jim Rosapepe, the U.S. ambassador to Romania during the Clinton Administration (okay, I’m old). He couldn’t believe it. He said Rosapepe was the best ambassador the U.S. ever sent. I can believe it. Jim’s into helping people. He invited us state tax nerds over to help the Romanian revenue folks to design a tax system that works. Damn, I wanted to go so bad, but I couldn’t get the time off. It was a 6-week commitment. Jim isn’t retired now though, even though he’s got to be at least 70. He’s a senator in the Maryland legislature. I think he’s the chair of the Ways and Means Committee, which means he works on a lot of tax stuff. Bet he’s happy as a pig in shit. Jim’s also one of the kindest people I know. Smart, too. Yet he can be a bulldog when he wants to be. Is not shy about asking the hard questions from the assholes who work for the federal government, and will gleefully poke holes in whatever arguments they make about why they can’t do this or that because the law won’t allow it. And standing at 6’4″ or 5″, everybody was shorter than he. So what he’d do when talking to some fed official who was spinning bullshit was to lean down until he was just about in their face, except he still towered over them. Made ’em real nervous. Loved working with him. We fought for the states on an international trade issue (the feds were trying to screw us once again) and won. It did help that he knew the U.S. Trade Representative at the time–Mickey Kantor. They were in college together, same class. It was so funny when we’d be on the U.S. Capitol steps, and if they happened to pass each other, Kantor would say “fuck you!” real loud, and Jim would say it back just as loud, and we’d all go on our merry ways. The looks of horror on people’s faces was hysterical. Anyway, when another trade agreement came up later, I went alone to the meeting with trade rep’s office had with us state people, and asked a question that made them squirm. Guy asked me where I was from, and I said the MTC (Multistate Tax Commission). The look on his face was priceless. That’s when I smiled at him like a goddamned shark. So when we got to see a draft of the agreement, you can bet your booty there wasn’t anything in there that would make the states storm the castle.

Gotta go. Damned spring allergies. First time in years I’ve had them. And I have dry-eye, which makes it even worse. Eyes burning like hell. Only thing I can do is put a shitload of drops in and close my eyes to keep the air off. An hour or two usually does the trick. Until it happens again.


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