2 Anniversaries, 2 Kindle Countdowns!

May 1, the annual commemoration of International Worker’s Day, seems like the perfect time to shout-out to readers about the novel I like to think of as the ANTI-Atlas Shrugged, Under the Bus. Click here for a preview chapter

And on April 26th, I celebrate the anniversary of the publication of The Breast of Everything (Happy Birthday, Mam!). Click here for a preview chapter

What better way for me to celebrate than to run a special Tag Team Kindle Countdown?!  From April 24th through May 5, one or both of these novels will be available at irresistible prices.

  • The event kicks off on Thursday April 24th, with of The Breast of Everything. The special price of 99 cents remains in play until the afternoon of April 27th, then a bump up to $1.99 through May 1.
  • On Sunday, April 28, Under the Bus joins in, available through Mayday afternoon at the worker-friendly price of 99 cents (!), then rising to the only marginally higher $1.99 through the afternoon of May 3, with a final 60% discount price of $2.99 until the Countdown ends on May 5.

Spread the word!

…Of Everything

A little over a week ago, the paperbound edition of my novel The Breast of Everything launched online, quickly followed by the first digital edition (on Kindle).  To make this happen, I’ve been wearing more hats than Bartholomew Cubbins and every time I take one off there’s another one lurking underneath.  I’ve been graphics designer, webmaster, researcher, publisher, publicist and personal assistant, while continuing to cover my usual roles in the office and with my family.  If someone offered me a choice between a spot in the New York Times Book Review and a vacation right now, I’d actually have to stop and think!

Part of the challenge over the last few months has been making my way through a thicket of technology (it would have been accurate here to say “hacking” my way, but that word no longer conjures up images of swinging a machete through a rain forest—at least not when talking about technology).  I’ve taken on learning, or adding to my skills in, WordPress, Photoshop, InDesign, Scrivener, and the CreateSpace and Kindle KDP interfaces.  Plus setting up some new things in Facebook and Goodreads.

As a boomer with a liberal arts degree, I was awed by the scope of the available tools and astonished that I could use them.  This may all be a yawn to your average high school Junior but this kind of technology wasn’t around when I was growing up.  During college, I worked an entire summer to afford a portable electric typewriter.  It wasn’t only the tasteful caramel color of the case that compelled me; in those days, the pop-in self-correcting and colored-ink ribbons were breathtakingly state of the art.  Five years later, I had the opportunity to learn my first word processor.  It was one of those “dedicated” word processors (before word processing software had been developed for personal computers) that required the floorspace of an L-shaped desk and stored a few dozen pages of text on a mylar disk the size of a vinyl LP record; the dot-matrix printer required another wall and a sound-muffling Lexan hood.  Temp word processing was a great survival job for a struggling actor, so I learned seven or eight of these machines, the size shrinking rapidly over time.  DOS-driven personal computers were next, once they supported word processing software good enough for my own writing purposes.  I taught myself well enough to train others.  I learned my first simple database program because I needed to organize my consulting work and my submissions to playwriting competitions.  These self-taught skills eventually go me hired by my first software company, where I picked up bits of assorted knowledge while working with developers as a user-assistance specialist.

Now I make my living as a technical writer, specializing in what I like to think of as “helpful Help.” Not what you’d expect for someone with a double major in Theatre and History.  Sometimes I joke that I’m something of an end-user idiot savant when it comes to software technology, but the truth is that the essential thing I learned in college was how to learn.

I was lucky that way.  The push towards specialization began just a few years after I graduated.  Instead of going to college to broaden their knowledge and experience of the world, students today go seeking job skills and every other one of them seems to go on to get an MBA in something. With so many complex disciplines to master, professional development training is extremely valuable and it’s great that there’s so much more of this available in schools and in the workforce.  But no specialized work skills can replace analytic thinking, critical thinking and the ability to perform research.

Job skills learned today will be outmoded in less than a decade.  Entire occupations go extinct every year (ask anyone who works for a newspaper).  There’s no way of knowing what the future will bring, but most of us will, whether voluntarily or needfully, change occupations many times over the course of our working lives.  And it’s safe to assume that the vast majority of us will never have an IPO or live in McMansion or live out one of those dream retirements that feature in financial planning ads.

But with a liberal arts education behind me, I’ve been able to adapt to new disciplines, changing times and evolving tools.  I’ve traveled through Tuscany using public transportation, learned to knit entrelac and managed to connect my blog feed from my website to Goodreads. All that, and I get to have the fun of yelling “how can you not know that!” a lot when “Jeopardy” is on TV.

Baby Steps

Having finally made the decision to publish my own books, I found myself being overwhelmed by the options to the point where I wondered if this was such a good idea after all.  I can’t work and write and be a publisher; my days only have 24 hours and I have to sleep through some of them.

It could take most of a calendar year to figure out “the best” way to do this and learn enough new skills to do it well.   That would be another year that The Breast of Everything wouldn’t see print (yes “print”; I’m determined to have a print on demand paper version as well as epub and mobi digital books).  At the end of that time, would all that work have mattered?  Not really.  I don’t expect this particular book to sell more than a couple of dozen copies; in this case, the old “vanity press” label is pretty accurate.  So I took a deep breath and made another decision.    I was going to get The Breast of Everything out the easiest way I could and I was going to do it NOW.  I chose a full-service publishing/distribution provider and created an account on Bowker to purchase the ISBN.  Most important, I did a single small thing that made this book seem real: I used my chosen provider’s online (free) app to make a mock-up of the cover.  Now that I know what it’s going to look like, surely it’s going to happen.  Right?  Not so fast!  You see, I’d decided to go with Createspace, but with all the buzz about retailers refusing to stock books published by Amazon, I’ve had to rethink this.

I’m back to, well, let’s call it square two.  Looking for another printer/distributor who delivers services for those who are time- and publishing-challenged.  I’ve been networking to collect recommendations (so much thanks to all the generous people of the VC Linked In group), but it still is likely to take another couple of months  (argh!) to find an easy, good quality solution that I can sell anywhere.

Meanwhile, I’ve been focusing on this website.  I am proud — a little dazzled, too — to announce that this post marks the official completion of a two-stage website migration away from iWeb (which is being sunset by Apple) and into my new domain and WordPress.  I’ve taught myself just enough WordPress to be dangerous, so if there are glitches on the site, oops!