About Sandra Hutchison

Indie author and publisher of THE AWFUL MESS: A LOVE STORY and THE RIBS AND THIGH BONES OF DESIRE.

Coping with trying times

This morning I woke to news the McConnell-stacked Supreme Court is about to demolish Roe v. Wade. Well, that and howls of outrage about it on Twitter. I joined in the collective fury, but I can’t help feeling an all-too-familiar disgusted resignation already creeping in.

The last five or six years, including the pandemic, have been emotionally exhausting. I’ve noticed in my own reading a tendency to want to escape into happy, amusing romantic comedies. (I even wrote one myself, an update of my favorite romcom of all time, Pride and Prejudice, and am currently trying to decide what to do with it.)

I always aim to keep my own novels light, but they usually also deal with some dark issues.

Maybe that’s why I don’t even feel like trying to market them right now? Because we’re all tired, aren’t we? We don’t necessarily want to “escape” into books about immigration or addiction or racism or whatever, even if promised a happy ending.

I have friends who have been using this time to organize their opposition at the grassroots level and take on entrenched powers. I admire them greatly. I’ve never been comfortable in an angry crowd at a protest, but I have done my fair share of door-to-door canvassing.

However, I’m old enough now to be kind to myself and admit how much I absolutely loathe doing that kind of thing.

These days I can’t seem to bring myself to do anything more than root for and vote for and maybe throw some money at the candidates they support. Who then tend to lose. (Though not always.)

A long time ago I had to read Candide for college, a howl of outrage written for its own day, and the way it ends, “We must tend our garden,” has always struck me as the best comfort in times like these, when so many hard-won freedoms are under vicious, coordinated attack.

a variety of seedlings not yet planted

This year’s somewhat stressed out seedlings, waiting for warmer weather.

Of course, I take that command more literally than Voltaire probably meant it, as I get ready to plant my veggie seedlings (if we ever stop having frosty nights here this spring!).

Such gardening is, of course, a privilege for those who have some land and time and the budget for gardening supplies (which, I’ve recently discovered, have been just as affected by inflation and supply chain issues as anything else).

Another type of tending, the kind of writing that examines our culture and promotes critical thinking about it, has also largely become the bastion of people who have the time and financial means and marketing wisdom and connections and dogged persistence (and, sometimes, just plain luck) to keep doing something that doesn’t pay a living wage to the vast majority of the people who do it.

So I guess I ought to try to make as much of that privilege as I can, right? Or at least more so than I seem to be doing at present.

As well as getting the tomatoes and peppers and eggplants in.

How are you keeping yourself from despair in trying times?

Five reasons why you might want to get my newsletter

  1. I’ll include short reviews of books I enjoyed, and think you might also enjoy.
  2. I’ll keep you up to date on my writing progress.
  3. I’ll catch you up on freebies you might have missed. For example, the next newsletter will include a download link to HUSSY HOSTS COFFEE HOUR, a sequel short story to THE AWFUL MESS.
  4. Cover of Hussy Hosts Coffee HourYou can unsubscribe at any time with that handy link at the bottom of the email.
  5. I won’t be duplicating this blog (except maybe when there’s big news).

The blog is going to post once a month on the first Tuesday. The newsletter is twice a month on the second and fourth Tuesdays. Granted, Tuesdays aren’t Mondays, but can’t they be improved by a little something that’s not the least bit work-related for you?

Okay, that’s all I’ve got, except to suggest that if you do subscribe, you might want to add my email address to your contacts or star the email or something so it doesn’t end up in spam or the promotion folder. (Or maybe nothing works, because I even get my own copy in the promotions folder AND IT’S COMING FROM ME.)

To sign up, navigate to this page and you’ll see a form, as well as a whole bunch of other ways to follow me if you feel like it: Contact / Follow

This is a short one, because I need to go do some work in the garden before it rains yet again. Happy Spring!

 

How marketing your writing can be like surviving high school P.E.

When I was in high school in Florida, we had physical education class every day.

I was bad at it.

I coped well enough with track, aerobics, gymnastics, and even volleyball (only because I was a fairly reliable server), but all the other team sports were nightmares. I could be counted on to let down my team. Softball was especially painful. I hated waiting in the outfield, desperately hoping no fly balls would come my way.

But then I figured out how to get through it: volunteer to be the catcher.

Was I a good catcher? Hell, no. (Not until I watched Bull Durham years later did I learn that catchers are supposed to be strategizing with the pitcher! Who knew?) But nobody else wanted to do it, what with the strained posture and ungainly equipment and chance of catching a ball or a bat the hard way. So they were happy to let me do it.

Sandra Hutchison as an uncoordinated teenager holding two inflatable pool floats

This may be the closest I ever came to being any kind of athlete. Even as a teenager, I looked like a librarian.

And it was SO MUCH BETTER. I didn’t have time to pray no ball would come. OF COURSE it came. Repeatedly!

I spent the whole inning catching and throwing. I had no time to get nervous. Hell, it was even fun.

Yes, once in a while a foul ball popped up or a run headed home and gave me the chance to disappoint my team, but I couldn’t stop and brood about it. Because there was another pitch.

After remembering this recently, I realized that’s the approach I need to take to marketing. Especially the newsletter part, which I’ve been procrastinating literally for years now.

Like a lot of authors, I hate marketing my own books, especially to people I know. Because my mailing list is so small (especially now!), a lot of people on it are people I know. And whether they know me or not, I fear I will irritate them or bore them or look desperate or tacky or clueless, or (most likely now) get marked as “spam” by people with no memory they signed up for my newsletter years ago.

To be fair, I have also repeatedly run into bewildering tech issues. Let me tell you, bewildering tech issues are THE BOMB if you’re looking to put off something uncomfortable. (I ran into more trying to publish this very post, which is why it’s out a day late.)

Restarting the blog last year was my first step in overcoming what had become a case of near-paralysis on the marketing side. Could I write something every single month that at least some people were going to read? Yes, I could! (Okay, always on the last possible day of the month, and I just missed February, as noted above.)

Would this renewed blog ever be brilliant or make any difference to my book sales? Not so far. But it does, at least, suggest that I’m still in the game. This is something, especially if you publish new novels as slowly as I do.

But the mailing list is the thing I really need to do. So… those few of you still on my list at this point and also reading this, which may be nobody … you are about to start hearing from me regularly, on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, with something shorter than this blog ever is.

(Check your promotion or spam folder if you think you’re on the list and don’t get anything – or sign up again at the bottom of this page.)

This frequency is not what I promised when you signed up. So if you find this annoying, I cordially and absolutely without angst invite you to unsubscribe. It’s actually ideal, if you’re not interested. Mailing lists above a certain size cost an author money, after all. (Yet another reason to procrastinate!) And you can reliably hear about new releases or promotions if you follow me on Bookbub or Amazon.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do about this blog. I enjoy this format, but it takes serious effort to get a post published, and the mailing list will be my top priority this year. I also don’t want to take away too much time from novel writing. (Novel #8 is finally under way!) So that’s something I’ll be thinking about a little more.

As always, I’m happy to hear your opinions if you have any. (Also, I’m curious if you have your own ways of psyching yourself into doing the stuff you find anxiety-producing!)

And now … I need to go play some ball.

A burst of productivity for the new year

January saw me racing through a bunch of things on my list, especially during the week I had hoped to spend with my parents, but had to postpone, because COVID. Part of it was giving myself permission to not worry about the writing. Part of it was if I didn’t get it done I knew it was only going to get worse.

Like the old boiler that was trying to kill me. A new energy-efficient, non-CO-spewing combi-boiler was installed at the beginning of the month. (Thanks, NYSERDA! Seriously, that commie socialist government program helped a lot.) Living with it is a bit different. One, my gas bill is noticeably lower. Two, instead of keeping water heated and standing by, it only heats it as I use it. Water takes a little longer to get hot, and it never gets hotter than the temperature it’s set at. The shower has less pressure because there’s less water flowing, and I also turn it all the way to HOT pretty much immediately and can’t nudge it any hotter even if I want to — at least, not without running down to the basement and setting a new temperature. On the plus side, I never run out of hot water.

I’ve been tempted to put the temp up a little because I am a fan of long hot showers (a lot of writers will tell you they get great ideas in the shower), but I’m resisting because the whole point of this change is to conserve resources.

In order to prep for the boiler and the new basement insulation included in the project, I cleaned and semi-organized the basement. I had not cleaned the basement since moving into this house in 2014. Tidied, yes; cleaned, no. (Feel for that poor vacuum cleaner!)

I tossed a lot of stuff. But since I’ve lost weight after going low carb, I was glad I hadn’t taken some of the old donation bags to a thrift store yet, because now I can wear some of that stuff again and instead get rid of fat clothes. Once in a while procrastination is our friend.

It certainly benefited my spare room library redecoration: I found uses for bookshelves, rugs, baskets, a rocking chair, an ottoman, a mirror, some frames, etc. It also enabled me to reorganize my office closet.

Once in a while a pack rat mentality actually does save some money.

Of course, there’s more to get rid of. I’m deciding between Facebook Marketplace or the Habitat ReStore for the stuff that still has some use, but I haven’t decided yet. (From what I hear, selling stuff on Facebook can be a miserable experience. Any thoughts?)

I bought a newer used car and said goodbye to the old Subaru. I somehow thought I was buying a smaller car, at least until I tried to get the RAV4 in the garage and clean the windshield. Oops. But I’m not listening anxiously to the engine for intimations of imminent disaster every time I drive this one, and that was my primary goal.

Penny the cat and I both got through dental work. Now I need to do something about these old glasses I reverted to during the pandemic because the more fashionable pair broke. My last experience trying to get a pair was so miserable, I’ve been putting it off. There’s also a part of me that thinks I should just wait until cataract surgery, but apparently I’ve got a ways to go.

As for writing? I joined a mini TikTok course. So far, it’s striking me as a needless distraction from what I really need to do. (Especially since most of my new followers each day are generic guys declaring that they’re honest, godly, and good. The same ones as on Facebook and Instagram, only the quantities are on steroids.)

Less than one day of new followers. Cowboy1634 is my favorite for that subtle touch of the wad of bills, but I appreciate shirtless Eric, too.

While I may continue to figure out TikTok, I’ve decided February is going to be Mailing List Month. That’s been hanging over my head only for, like, years now.

Part of that will require deciding on a regular blog post day that isn’t simply the last possible day of the month, which has actually been working pretty well for me. Or giving up the blog and only doing the mailing list. If you have a preference, O rare blog reader, let me know.

February is also Starting to Write the Next Book Month.

Soon needed is Haul Out and Lubricate the Sewing Machine and Finish the Window Treatments Month, but I’m not adding it to the list yet. February is too short for that.

Anyway, here’s a very fast look my spare room redecoration into a library/pantry/inflatable mattress guest room, if you’re interested: https://vm.tiktok.com/TTPdhcK2RW/

One of the things I noticed while setting it up is that I’ve become such a big library reader (and also often an e-book reader), that very few of the books I’ve loved in the last few years have actually made it onto the shelves here. Instead, there are old favorites that survived the last move, plus shelves of books I haven’t gotten around to yet … because unlike books I own, library books have due dates.

So, apparently, deadlines really do help.

If you’re reading this, you survived 2021!

And so did I, although it’s been a bit scary lately. There’s the omicron variant; there are tornadoes demolishing entire towns; there are people being shooed out of a Costco into blowing smoke and ashes. And I won’t even get into politics.

For me the last two months have also offered the banal middle-class horror of Lots of Stuff Breaking at Once. I unexpectedly require a new boiler, a more reliable car, minor (but expensive) dental work, and minor (but expensive) surgery for Penny the cat.

Penny irritated at the attention I’m giving a book.

It could be a lot worse. I have savings. I still have a house to put a new boiler into, unlike a lot of other folks. I still have my teeth AND my cat. And I haven’t lost anyone dear to Covid or anything else, knock wood.

It’s good that the new variant seems a little less brutal, at least to the vaccinated, since we’re all getting rather “whatever” about it. Last week I finally managed to get my hands on four home tests, but my stepdaughter agreed that using them was kind of pointless since they’d already had a bunch of exposures that week. We still went, because it was Christmas, and I hadn’t seen them in ages, and those kids were due for some pumpkin muffins. (The tests will come in handy before I fly to visit my folks this winter, assuming the plane actually takes off.)

If the pandemic taught me anything, it’s that I have too long taken for granted the ability to get together with people I enjoy. Like many of us, I want to do more of that in 2022.

Which brings us to RESOLUTIONS…

Yeah, no, let’s just call them GOALS

(Maybe they’re a little less likely to be quickly abandoned that way.)

Besides the getting together: 1) Take care of all the broken-down issues without much more agonizing, 2) Get back in the product management groove with the books, 3) Lift weights at least twice a week instead of maybe once every two or three weeks when I finally stop saying I’ll do it tomorrow, and 4) Work towards giving a full 10% of my income to charity on a monthly basis instead of trying to figure it out at the end of the year when (cough) I might suddenly be facing a whole host of unexpected expenses.

Yes, part of me is thinking but isn’t it a good thing you didn’t spend all that money already? Because you sure as heck need it now! But I don’t think it really works like that. Have two coats, give one away, that’s the ideal Jesus preached. And I still literally have at least three coats. (Four, if you count a really ratty one I ought to throw out.) If I’ve already spent that money, I’ll adjust as I go along. If life as an adjunct and a writer has taught me anything, it’s how to cut back on expenses.

Oh, and while the ten percent goal comes from the Biblical concept of tithing, it’s not all going to my church. I’ve been involved enough with that organization’s budget to know that while it requires my regular support, too, if I want to actually feed the poor, help heal the sick, build affordable housing, etc., I’d better support various charities that actually focus on that and do it well: Feeding America, Doctors Without Borders, Habitat for Humanity, and more, including good local charities. And most of them would benefit from steady monthly donations instead of the usual end-of-year clumps.

So I commend them to your planning for 2022, too.

So that’s it. Maybe I’ll publish the next book, or maybe I’ll hold it until I have a sequel written. I’m planning to read FEWER books in 2022, because I got to 122 I liked enough to recommend on Goodreads this year and that’s ridiculous. (That’s either #123 up there in the photo with Penny or #1 for 2022.)

And tell me your goals for 2022 if you’d like. I’ve changed the moderation on posts so that those of you who’ve had comments approved before will get published without having to wait for me to notice your comment waiting.

P.S. If you’d like more of a catch-up on my writing, I was recently the subject of a lovely interview by Suanne Schafer. Folks are telling me it’s a good read, and I certainly enjoyed doing it.

The joy of a non-traditional Thanksgiving

My favorite Thanksgiving as a girl was spent with my family in a fishing cabin at Horseshoe Beach, Florida, with family friends, listening to the Zorba the Greek soundtrack over and over and having hamburgers for Thanksgiving dinner because we hadn’t caught any fish yet. (Not that I would eat fish back then — the next day I gave the flounder I caught to the adults and had another hamburger.)

This Thanksgiving was spent in Miami and Key West and it was fabulous, too.

Despite being born and raised in Florida, I’d never once been to either of those places. My parents were willing to drive from Tampa to Canada and from Tampa to St. Louis and we also headed up to North Carolina pretty regularly, but they considered the road to Miami way too boring. (Also, my mother — who attended high school in Key West while her dad was stationed there — hates bridges. If you drive to Key West, there are A LOT of bridges.)

But for this Thanksgiving my friend Nandini invited me to meet up with her and her kids and her friend Michelle in North Miami Beach. I hadn’t yet had an official invitation from anyone in the family, so I was thrilled to say yes. (Last Thanksgiving, in the midst of pandemic precautions, I spent waiting for my son to wake up after a grueling night shift at FedEx, but he slept through the whole day.)

It was lovely to get away from the grayness of late November in upstate New York to enjoy the sights and sounds and tastes and smells of a bustling tropical city. On my first full day (their second), we went to the science museum/planetarium/aquarium and later walked from there over to the Bayside Marketplace (a sort of Faneuil Hall, for those familiar with Boston).

On the second day we went to Wynwood Walls to see the street art both in and out of the official facility, and Michelle and I went to the free Miami botanical garden and (eventually) figured out how to take the free trolley back to our North Miami neighborhood. Then we all drove back south together to eat elotes (ears of corn grilled and coated in mayonnaise and cotija cheese and chili pepper) and tacos at HuaHua’s, a wonderful taqueria. (Since I’m still doing the low carb thing, I ate the delicious fillings of my tacos and left the tortillas behind.)

Day three the kids wanted to see the botanical garden, too, so we happily did that again before heading for South Beach, where we enjoyed the architecture and the kids romped in the officially hazardous but not yet red flag surf at the really beautiful beach. Then we went and repeated HuaHua’s, because it was that good. We finished the night with the classic movie The Birdcage, set in South Beach.

Day four was Thanksgiving. We got up pre-dawn and drove Route 1 to quaint Key West. We toured Hemingway’s house with its many cats and their extra toes (and a beautiful garden), spent some time on a tiny beach, visited the cemetery, and had a couple of good meals that were in no way traditional. Then came a fairly grueling trip back in the dark with no coffee anywhere for poor Nandini the driver, since everything had closed by then.

Day five was travel home day. After watching the sunrise at the beach, which we did every day (okay, I skipped one in favor of a shower), it was on to the airport. We landed in the first snow of the season. (Ouch.)

Anyway, my favorite things about Miami, besides being with friends: Excellent coffee (find a Cuban bakery). The beach. The weather. (Mind you, a couple of days were a bit chilly.) Interesting architecture. The tropical plants! Good eating. And having lots to do.

Least favorite things about Miami: Parking. Driving is also tense. And most servers got some things wrong (except at HuaHua’s and on Key West), enough that we began to wonder if it was how they got even with the tourists.

Anyway, it was a great break and I returned with my batteries recharged. I also actually remembered to take everything I wanted and bring back everything I wanted, which feels like a major life accomplishment.

That’s good, because this is the week Sheer Hubris Press finally goes wide again, beginning with Kobo, and if Amazon price matches, I will soon be able to point you to either store for a free download for that prequel A LESS THAN FRESH START, which has a Christmas theme going.

Here’s hoping you had a good Thanksgiving, and will have an excellent Christmas. I highly recommend breaking out of tradition once in a while for an adventure.

If you’d like, tell us about one of your nontraditional holidays. (Don’t panic if your comment doesn’t show up right away — they all have to be moderated.)

 

 

 

 

Things you get to do as a novelist

Recently I responded to a Twitter question from Jeffrey Perry (don’t ask me who he is) that asked people to describe what they do for a living but make it sound scary.

I responded, “I’ve thrown a pregnant woman down the stairs, crashed TWO planes, assaulted a number of people, caused a jail lockdown, shot a kid who was just hanging out on his front porch, and given four people fatal overdoses.”

I added, “It’s not really much of a living, though.” (It really isn’t, right now. I need to get my marketing self together or decide this is just a hobby.)

Anyway, it nicely freaked some folks out. An author I know from the Women’s Fiction Writers Association responded, “Hahaha, you shocked me for a minute.”

And a pretty good number of folks appreciated my explanation: “(Novelist, dude.)”

It is a pretty shocking list put together like that. It made me stop and think. For one thing, I wondered if I was really writing romantic women’s fiction. For another, why am I obsessed with crashing planes?

But it’s plot. I believe my books are character-driven, but no one can say nothing happens in them.

Anyway, you might find it amusing to try something similar with your own profession or your own art, whatever it might be. Make it sound as scary as you can.

I’m eager to see what you come up with. It IS Halloween, after all. Boo!

 

Two steps forward, a whole bunch of steps sideways

So clearly I’ve developed some sort of deep resistance to marketing my books. I still like to write them and design them, but I can’t seem to make myself do the things necessary to actually sell them.

If I knew why this was, presumably I’d get over it, right?

Right now I have the perfect excuse that these are the last few weeks before winter closes in for painting exterior doors and rooms and radiators. Of course, I have a lot of resistance to doing that, too, it turns out. (I also got seriously interrupted when I discovered a bunch of sloppily-disguised old termite damage in one of the rooms. Now I have to repair that because I made it much worse in my panic that my house might fall down.)

I need more excuses, though.

Can I blame my uncomfortable office chair? It’s an old wooden swivel chair, if that helps paint the picture. But is it really uncomfortable? Do I ever sit it in it long enough to find out? I suspect there may be a whole industry selling high-end desks and desk chairs built on people in denial about the real reasons for their procrastination.

Could it be my current fascination with low-sugar foods? My glucose is now slightly above normal, so prediabetic, and both my father and relatively slim brothers have long had full-fledged Type 2 diabetes, so I’ve become one of those wackos who’s not only tried red lentil penne, but even bought more of it. (It’s not bad, if you like red lentils. There’s plenty of chew.)

I also recently learned that regular pasta and rice have a lower glycemic load if you cook them, refrigerate them, and reheat them. Weird, right? Suddenly leftovers are even more our friend. In any case, I find changing over my entire diet takes a lot of brain space and leaves me looking up things like “What is the glycemic load of ice cream?” (Surprisingly low. I’m sorry I looked.)

My other hobby right now is putting items in my IKEA shopping bag and then checking to see if they will be there when I drive the two or three hours to New Jersey or Massachusetts to get them. You would not believe how quickly a certain perfectly narrow shelf with a single narrow door can fly out of stock. Add on a desire to tack on a visit to the grandchildren if it’s NJ – which requires baking because that’s basically the only thing I’ve got going for me as a grandma – and it’s kind of like playing the lottery.

Meanwhile I also really love to just sit and read other people’s stuff, a habit I got into big-time during the pandemic. Writers can claim that’s “research,” but usually I’m just happily chowing down on a story I don’t ever have to think about selling to anyone.

Caitlin Doughty, from her website caitlindoughty.com

However, one book I read recently was research for the next Lawson novel, assuming I get around to volume four, which I expect to be focused on young, make-up-obsessed mortician Marlena Didsbury (who memorably overshared some dead body details over pot roast with the Jennings in THE UTTER CATASTROPHE). If you can stand the subject matter, Caitlin Doughty’s SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES: AND OTHER LESSONS FROM THE CREMATORY is a pretty amazing read: funny, warm, thought-provoking, and very well-

written. (And as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.) Doughty is a genuine, passionate advocate for “a good death,” but she also has a very entertaining YouTube account.

I also wrote a synopsis for the current novel, the one that’s a romantic comedy and thus a bit of a departure, but my synopsis is 1000 words and I need to somehow get that down to 500. That does at least make painting termite-damaged rooms and writing web posts like this sound like fun again.

So there is some slow, turtle-like progress being made. I finally got my web site verified and authenticated. (My primary computer still refuses to visit my own site, though.) And everyone’s panicking about how Apple’s new privacy policy will ruin the way authors use email, while I have the consolation of knowing I never got around to depending on it in the first place.

Anyway. With this post, I’ve officially achieved two blog posts in two months, after years of silence! So yay me, right?

Any advice? What do you do when you realize you’re deeply resisting doing something you really want or need to do?

 

Tap, tap. Does this thing still work?

CONFESSION TIME. For at least two years now, I’ve been ignoring this blog and (most of) this web site and all my email subscribers, too.

The Lent before last I decided I was spending too much time and money trying to keep my Amazon sales rank high, and it was time to detox.

Then I took that to the extreme. I guess I was curious to see just how bad it could get. (Short answer: Bad.)

Also, I wanted to focus on expanding THE AWFUL MESS into a trilogy, which I did. Then I started another book, a romantic comedy stand-alone. (That’s now in first draft and I’m trying to forget it so I can go back and do a decent edit.)

Anyway, the first year of ignoring marketing I made money instead of losing it, mostly because there’s a long lag in Amazon profits if your books were ever popular in Kindle Unlimited, and I’d stopped bleeding ad expenses.

But by the second year I was losing money. This wasn’t such a bad thing in my case since I quit teaching during the pandemic and had lost an easy way to fix my taxes via the college’s payroll system (I’d always had extra deducted). So tax season was less painful than it could have been. Yay, business failure!

Anyway, for the most part the books have been trending down into oblivion and I’ve been alternating between thinking “that’s not good” and “yeah, whatever.”

Like a lot of folks in this pandemic, I’ve spent a lot of time doom scrolling. I’ve also been escaping into books written by other people. I read 102 books in 2020 and I’m at 78 so far this year, and that’s only counting the books I feel I can heartily recommend. So that storehouse of recs I hope will allow me to confidently move the future focus of this blog more towards recommending other books (in addition to the usual personal tidbits).

Cover of THE UTTER CATASTROPHE by Sandra HutchisonI have still been writing and publishing. I put out THE COMPLETE DISASTER, sequel to THE AWFUL MESS, in Kindle, way too fast. (Yes, I seriously thought I had COVID-19 and might die and no one would ever get to read it, ha ha.) That was embarrassing, so I kind of ignored it for a while, but then I needed to publish the third book, THE UTTER CATASTROPHE, so I fixed it (with help from my usual excellent proofreaders). Of course, now the back matter is out of date. And all my titles need to go wide, but first I need to comb through them for errant mentions of the mighty retailer that shall not be named.

Because here’s the single most crazy-making thing about being an author-publisher: Everything I need to do requires me to do something else FIRST. For example, it’s not really worth restarting this blog until I get my mailing list working again. But there’s no point in doing that until I verify my web site with my list manager. But FIRST I need to change my list management service … which means setting up a whole new series of automated and landing pages for a whole new set of freebie “reader magnets.” A few of which still need to be set up on the downloading service.

Complicating all this, the computer I do most of my work on refuses to open this website because it refuses to forget the last web host I had and fixing that is apparently impossible without wiping the entire computer and starting over. But it’s a machine I bought used, so it might not give me access once I have to start over because I might not have the right key to unlock it. (I am, in fact, writing this on a new Apple laptop because it’s the only way FOR ME to get into MY OWN web site. But switching from PC to Apple and from desktop to laptop has its own learning curve.)

And this is why, for the last couple of years, I have tended to head back to whatever book I’m reading, or whatever book I’m writing. I get frazzled thinking about what I need to do before I can do other things.

And, in fact, most of you probably won’t get this, because of everything I haven’t gotten around to doing first. But I have to start somewhere.

Do you have things in your life that don’t get done because of all the annoying things that need to be done before you can do them? (Tell me!)

Anyway. Here’s notice that I’m still alive and still writing and publishing, even if the sales rank suggests otherwise. So let me know if you got this, and if you’re an actual subscriber, keep an eye out for an actual email from me one of these fine days, though I pretty much expect to have to start that over from scratch.

Cheers,

Sandra

THE AWFUL MESS gets a wiki video treatment…

Not sure what to think about it, but I was invited to post this link to a video wiki of “13 Charming Books Set in Small Towns that Range from Friendly to Terrifying” that includes THE AWFUL MESS at #3 (at the 2:12 mark). Malwarebytes didn’t warn me off the site, so it should be safe. The narration seems spot-on, but some of the images were surprising. (Palm trees?) Anyway, I’m mostly just happy they spelled my name right.

The sequel for this, THE COMPLETE DISASTER, really is coming out soon, probably in November or whenever the research papers are all graded.

In truth, I have been feeling fairly disgusted by my chances as an author recently, but last Friday, in the course of a single day…

  • My father included DISORGANIZE ME in his weekly newsletter with the note that he and my mother think it’s my best novel yet. (They finally read it, since I sent them the paperback.) Which is nice to hear, since it doesn’t sell worth beans.
  • I got the wiki notice above.
  • I got invited to opt back into a curated library platform, this time with royalties (although said royalties were not specified, so I still have questions).
  • An acquaintance I ran into at a Stewart’s parking lot (she had acted in one of my short plays) told me she’s opening a new store and wants to stock my books.
  • I got two checks from Amazon. Granted, they were refunds for Goodreads ads that suddenly and mysteriously ran out of money years ago when they bought the joint, but I’ll take it as yet another sign from the universe.
  • Bonus sign from the universe: The next day, a guy at a booth at the farmer’s market ribbed me gently for being a “famous author,” and thus not interested in getting involved in their project. (I knew writing was going to be good for something.)

I also just read a really lovely little book called DEAR WRITER, YOU NEED TO QUIT. It’s by a writing coach and about not getting sucked into believing you must do things the way other writers do them (even if it appears that’s the only way to make any money). Highly recommended for anxious author types everywhere.

So, I guess this means I’ve finally updated my blog, after more months than I want to count. Maybe that’s a habit I should get back into. Or maybe not. Let me know what you think. (Deafening silence works as an answer.)

By the way, if you helped me out in a substantive way with DISORGANIZE ME, your paperback is very, very, very slowly coming to you. Apparently there’s a paper shortage out there, and my order of author copies is taking weeks to print and ship as a result. (I paid full price for the copy I sent my parents, before Prime ran out, in case a hurricane might reach them first.)

It’s yet another reason paper is problematic. The most annoying to me, at the moment, is that resellers can swoop in and offer your book for a lower price, cutting authors and small publishers out of any profit. I haven’t been on the Amazon-Is-Going-To-Destroy-Us-All bandwagon, because it’s obviously been good to me, but it does seem to well on its way to destroying the paperback market for authors outside of bookstore distribution. Bookstores should probably take some pleasure in that.