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Quiet of Late

I haven’t been blogging much of late. Truth be told, I haven’t been doing much of anything worthy of a blog post. I’ve been reading a lot, or at least trying to. I’m half way through the Fall of the Malazan Empire, a read through that’s been both rough at times (it is long), fulfilling at others. As promised, I’ve been taking breaks reading non-fiction, but also some other books. If you follow me on Goodreads, you know what I’ve been up to (mostly).

Of writing, though, there hasn’t been much to say. For a while, I was going through a “poor me” phase. To say my books aren’t selling is an understatement.

I realize, as does the astute reader, that this is the turning point. This is either where I throw in the towel, declare it a good run while it lasted, and walk away, or this is where I rally again.

Honestly, I hate giving up. In no small part because I made a promise with Chrysalis that there would be a sequel. A few weeks ago, I dusted off the draft I’d been working on and began giving it a thorough revision. My aim is not to drop too much, but to fix what needs corrections, patch up the parts that are just giant leaps of narrative, and then finish the novel. I’ve added about 10k words in the last week, which all things considered has a nice feeling.

This may also be the last time I pull out an old project and try to repair it.

My problem is that I have historically written without a solid plan for the story I’m working on. So called “pantsing” is great, and a lot of successful writers do it. But I’m not a successful writer, and it has bitten me far more often than it has helped me. Because for every exhilarating writing session of discovering something new in my story, there are all of the other times where the story falls flat and gets shelved. How many times have I pulled out my epic fantasy and “given it another go?” More often then I’ve recorded in this blog, that much I know.

The problem I am discovering is that I don’t like letting go of what I’ve written in the past. My creative bursts gift me with a typical 40-60k word chunk of narrative before I run out of steam. But once that steam is gone, I don’t know where to go and shelve the project until the next time I get a bite. Over, and over, and over.

Finishing Mermaid’s Tears will be the end of that cycle. I hope to have the first draft done by this summer, at which point I will reach out to a few beta readers that have been great to me in the past. Then I plan on buckling down and planning out a novel from the very beginning. No more recycling, no more reusing. All new, all fresh. And all planned.

In addition, I’ve pulled my two books from Kindle Select and redistributed them across multiple platforms. I’ve had zero sales since the initial release of Chrysalis. Because of that, I decided rather that if I was going to have zero sales, I might as well spread that across multiple booksellers. Effective a few weeks ago, you can find my books on Amazon, as well as Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and a half dozen other ebook sellers (links at the bottom of this post).

Meanwhile, it’s a cloudy Saturday here in Oregon, and I have a ton of errands to take care of before I take my eldest daughter to her last behind the wheel class before her test next week. Have a good weekend!

A Scent of Roses


Amazon Prime Past Its Prime

A blog post only someone who has nothing better to complain about could write. This blog post is the quintessential first world problem complaint. And yet, I write it, maybe to save someone else from the same mistake.

I made my first order with Amazon in August of 1998. I bought a copy of James Blaylock’s Winter Tides, and it was amazing. I used my computer to have a book sent to my house. The future had arrived.

Over the course of the next 20 years (wow, that alone is a weird concept to me), I have bought books, movies, and music from Amazon. In the last few years, as they’ve expanded, I expanded what I was willing to buy. I’ve dabbled in Christmas shopping on the behemoth, even groceries a few times. I have two books exclusively for sale on Amazon. And for more than a few years now, I’ve been a Prime member.

When it was first introduced, it seemed like a lot to pay for free shipping. But as time moved forward and what Amazon offered increased, it started making sense. That it included the Amazon Music and Video stuff was ancillary, just a bonus – we got Prime for the free shipping. And as we bought more through Amazon, it made more and more sense. In the early days of being on Prime, it was amazing. Why wait to order something to justify the shipping when you could just have it sent as needed? It became easier to check on Amazon for something rather than to see if you could find it local. Convenience ruled, delivered by UPS in as little as a day or two.

In the last few years, though, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in Prime. Maybe it’s an East Coast vs West Coast thing. Maybe the East Coast packing and distribution centers for Amazon are just better at their jobs. At first, we blamed the apartment complex we lived in for some of the problems. But after a while, it became obvious the problem was at the source. Orders mysteriously delayed. Orders not showing up for days and days past the supposed 2 day guarantee. When things do finally show up, half the time they are sent in a way that guarantees they will be damaged.

Part of the problem is that in order to cover the cost of shipping, at least for folks living in the Portland, Oregon area, Amazon isn’t using a real delivery service. They’ve hired drivers to bring packages around in their cars like a Lyft for deliveries. We get deliveries at 8 at night from sketchy looking guys driving beat up cars with a pile of packages in their backseat. I’m sure it’s a great way to make a buck, though I wonder how far Amazon covers their insurance while they’re carrying my precious cargo in the backseat.

But for me, a bibliophile, the real killer is in the one thing Amazon should know how to do: sending books. The last three times I’ve ordered books from Amazon, they’ve come in variations of a padded envelope. The result? The books move around loosely, covers get bent, pages get bent. Permanent creases are made as the book shifts around, bending back the cover, and then is put under the weight of a hundred other packages while it’s transported. Why pay for the privilege of receiving damaged books?

Sending books in a way that almost guarantees they are damaged by the time they arrive, and having over half our packages take a week despite their “guaranteed Prime shipping” makes me think there’s no reason to continue paying for Prime. Maybe Amazon Prime is past its Prime?

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