In Sickness and in Health

Sands and Storms, guys, I almost can’t believe how much I’ve been sick lately. Except I have to because I’m living through it. The little bout I had in October? Nothing compared to the last … two weeks. I swear I’ve caught every cold out there this season, one after the other, and cycled through them all. I think I’m on the last one: A chest cough that has knocked me down for a week and been the cause of much lack of sleep problems (though now that I can sleep, I’m catching up by, as I did today, sleeping until 2 PM).

The ultimate problem in all of this? I don’t write well when I’m sick. With the back-and-forth nature of the last few weeks I’ve had some good days and some bad days, but I’m likely to still come in a good 1/3 short of my monthly quota. For those of you wondering why that goes down … let’s just say all my Alpha and Beta readers can attest to what happens when I write with only a fraction of my normal brainpower. Things get bad. Fast.

Granted, my part-time job doesn’t help. They’re classic current US-job, which means you work if you’re sick or not. Oh, they might say at some point during the day “Why not see a doctor?” or something. But they’re paying low enough that seeing a doctor isn’t an option, and if you take a shift off? Well, that’s money you need, since their wages are low. To which you might say “Get another job!” but … it’s the modern world. Local businesses all know what their competitors are paying, so they all pay the same lowball number. Why compete when they can make everything just as appealing?

Unless you’re a manager. According to local data in my area, Managers make anywhere from 2 to 6 times as much as other employees. Curious that.

Anyway, not really sure what the point of this post is other that to say that I’m finally feeling better. Illness-wise, not job-wise. Job-wise I’m pretty sure that my company is an open-and-shut case for the current growing income inequality issues in America. But aside from that, I’m finally feeling a bit more alive and aware, so I’m going to try and finish up a chunk of Hunter/Hunted today and hopefully get things back on track. I really, really have not enjoyed all the crap getting in the way of my writing this year.

Anyway, with that in mind, I really need to get to it. Oh, but before I go, today is the last day in that week-long sale on my books. If you’ve been looking at one and sitting on the fence, now is the time to make your decision!

And with that, I’ve got writing to do!

A Few of My Least-Favorite Things …

Advertising.

Don’t get me wrong, advertising is a great way to get eyeballs on my work, and by association, cash into my bank account . Advertising is a must-have in the modern world, since well, everyone else has it. With so many shouting voices out there, simply standing with your product hoping to be noticed is akin to being buried.

But while I enjoy the fruits of my advertising, actually coming up with ad-copy tags and little blurbs to attract the eye? Worst part of the job so far.

I’m not alone in this. No joke, I’ve heard one prominent author state that one of the best parts about being a huge success was that they no longer had to come up with ad-copy blurbs or even have anything to do with the advertising process. They just sent the book over and that was that. Maybe occasionally they’d get a question they had to answer to help their advertising agent market something a bit more specifically, but that was it. They could just pass it off in exchange for money.

I long for that day, and find myself very much in agreement on coming up with ads and the like. Unfortunately … I’m not where that author is yet. Given their particular position, I’ve got a long ways to go, really. Which means that right now …

I write my own advertising. And I hate it. Compressing a 355K book down into a 150 character teaser that’s got to appeal to as many eyes as possible in order to get them to click on it? And come up with all the search keywords that can appeal to a possible audience?

Yup. Just did the former one, again. Changing things up to keep things fresh. Only took me an hour-and-a-half this time to do it so … improvement? Regardless, we’ll see what the sales numbers look like at the end of this month, tweak things again …

Yeah, it’s a constant system of change. At least until I make enough money to hire someone else for the job.

Anyway, that unpleasant part of my day done, I’ve got a lot of writing ahead of me. It’s a new month, and I plan to make up for the shortcomings of the last one by surging ahead with a renewed vigor!

Oh, speaking of vigor, the Monthly Patreon reward will go up on Saturday. It won’t be a Jacob Rocke short, sadly. Between getting sick for a week and the rest of my schedule, I wasn’t able to come up with something that satisfied me. But … well, we’ll see. I’ve got a few things I can give advance looks at.

Anyway, advertising is figured out for the next month, thankfully. Hopefully the new changes make it even more capable at getting copies in front of eyes. In the meantime, the next project as far as sales go is getting a “Black Friday weekend” sale going on everything, so if you were thinking of grabbing copies of Shadow of an Empire or Colony as Christmas gifts, look ahead for that!

With that, I’ve got a palace infiltration scene and hunt for a shade to write, so I’ll catch you all later.

Op-Ed: Keep Calm, Be Patient, and Think!

Good news! I am 99.5% better. Just some residual tiredness and stuffiness, but fading fairly well. Huzzah! Today I can work on A Game of Stakes!

But first I wanted to get this out there: Keep calm, be patient, and think.

All three of these things seem to be a lost cause for many these days. Patience is for those who “don’t care about the issues.” Keeping calm is “for the uncaring.” And thinking is something done by those who “just don’t want to face the ‘facts.” Instead, the social sphere would have us leap forward as quickly as possible, acting on immediate emotional reactions and snap judgements.

Why am I talking about this? Well, because of the last month. In my country, there was a massive mediastorm revolving around a man named Kavanaugh. For those who luckily missed all the controversy, Kavanaugh was nominated to a position on the Supreme Court (one of the three branches of the US government). And, almost immediately, had sexual assault allegations issued against him. A number of women came forward claiming that he had visited all sorts of horrific sexual acts against them, which clearly made him unfit for the position. The media (and one prominent political party) latched onto these allegations with a deathgrip. They were everywhere. A senate hearing was called, in which several of these women testified under oath. The FBI and Department of Justice got involved.

And the public? Sands and Storms, they lost their minds. As far as many of them seemed concerned, Kavanaugh was guilty until proven innocent. My Facebook wall became such a tirade of people calling for his imprisonment and even execution, without any sort of trial, that I flat out made use of the temp-block feature to silence some of these folks for 30 days because they were acting insane. Any calls for them to calm down from their baying for blood? To wait for an actual investigation into things? You were trying to cover up Kavanaugh’s crimes because you were sexist. The biggest concession any of these raging, emotional individuals could make was that Kavanaugh should be investigated … wait for it … but not any of his accusers, as they’d already had enough stress put on them by coming forward.

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Legacy

Writing this after midnight, mostly because I really wanted you guys to have a post this morning (or tomorrow morning from when I write this), one that wasn’t the Classic Being a Better Writer post that’ll go up on Saturday.

So, what’s to write about? Well, there is some news. Book sales have slowed a little again, though thankfully nowhere near the alarming dearth from a month ago. Probably normal fluctuation. And at the same time they’ve still kept getting ratings on Goodreads, which is always good. The more reviews and ratings that are left, the more people are willing to pick up one of my titles on a whim, which is always great!

Still working on Hunter/Hunted, though my progress has been slow the last month. It’s my fault, mainly: Lack of sleep. Which doesn’t make writing easy. I’ll be working on it this weekend to catch up.

As well as on A Game of Stakes! And I’ve got good news here: The new influx of Alpha Readers? Not one of them thought there was a major issue. So this weekend I’ll be poring over it and making lots of little fixes and tweaks … because it’s time to make this Beta! And once the Beta Reading is done, I can get it out and submitted!

In other news … I am trying to come up with something short and fun for Halloween to let my Patreon Supporters look at. We’ll see what I can come up with. A Jacob Rocke short story, most likely.

So, that’s the news as far as writing and whatnot goes … Wait, I lied. Just for kicks, One Drink will be free this weekend. Why? Well, because it’s about to reach the end of another 90-day period, and I figured I’d use that sale up. I was honestly checking the possibility of Halloween stuff when I noticed it and … well, why not?

So right. Legacy. Interesting choice of words but …

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When Is a Sale Not a Sale?

When it doesn’t sell anything, clearly.

Okay, this needs a bit of explanation, but it’s an odd one. So things have been going pretty well sales-wise lately. Colony and Shadow of an Empire just keep ticking away copies, finally moving my book income from “Spare change” to “rent payment.” Or at least, they were, save for this last week.

What happened? Well, I went ahead and put Unusual Events: A “Short” Story Collection on a random sale for the week. Starting a 99 cents. Colony and Shadow were both doing well, so I figured that a nice discount on Unusual Events (Still, to date, my only book to not generate a profit and my lowest selling of all time) would maybe allow it to move a few copies alongside its stronger siblings.

Let me tell you, did that backfire. Instead of Events selling a few copies … all other sales stopped dead.

No, I’m not kidding. Fine one day and then wham! Down came the wall. All sales stopped dead. Even Kindle Unlimited reads dried up, going from a steady number of reads per day to almost nothing.

And then on Monday, the sale was over, and what happened? The numbers took a few days to go back up, but now they’re moving back to where they were.

Honestly? I’m as confused as anything about this one. The only theory I’ve got is that people who were looking at getting their hands on a copy of Colony or Shadow saw that Events was on sale and decided to wait until one of them was on sale, maybe?

That’s literally the only theory I have. As I watch the numbers slide back to normal post sale, that’s all I can offer. And even that doesn’t explain the KU numbers dropping into the abyss.

Is it coincidence? If so, it’s one of the strangest coincidences I’ve seen. And like I said, I have no explanation. Maybe Events is even less-appealing than I thought, so much so that it taints all other books based on its price?

I have no idea. Regardless, I thought it was interesting. Guess that’s one mistake I won’t be making the future. Unusual Events goes on sale with everything else, or not at all!

And?

Okay, so the Hugo Award winners were announced, and there’ve been a few questions of what I’d have to say about it. So here we go. My response?

And?

Yeah, that’s pretty much it. There seem to be a lot of news outlets saying how shocked and surprised they are that Jemisin took the first ever triple-crown … but she said she was going to do that three years ago when her first book won. As did her publisher, and her friends … In fact, most of the comments I saw from last years Hugo Awards were of the vein of ‘something else better not win, because Jemisin deserves this!’ Same for this year, though it was more of a ‘How could anything else win? Jemisin is going to have the triple!’

So my response to this year’s winners is “And?” Or maybe “So?”

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Amazon’s Embattled Reviews Make Another Change

Amazon reviews are slowly becoming a digital battleground of the future. Or petering out as one, depending on you ask. However, whether it’s using Amazon reviews to “review bomb” folks whose politics other folks disagree with, or paying a click-farm in China to generate thousands of fake reviews, Amazon’s review system seems almost destined to be at the constant forefront of unscrupulous folks thinking “How can I use this to my advantage/other’s disadvantage?”

With that sort of activity going on (and the almost Hipster-ish dislike for Amazon now that they’ve managed to stand head and shoulders above their rivals), it really shouldn’t have been surprising to me when a long-time fan of my works contacted me to let me know that they were no longer able to post Amazon reviews, and thus they wouldn’t be able to add their review of my latest to Amazon’s page for such.

The reason? Well, Amazon has a new review policy: To leave a review, you have to be a customer in good standing. You can’t have been spamming the site with reviews that are clearly fake, participated in review-bombing, stuff like that. But there’s another new requirement now.

In order to remain “in good standing” you have to be an Amazon customer, having spent at least $50 with them in the last year.

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