Pigsties and other homes

My mother was always concerned about manners.  The constant reminder from her anytime we went out into the world was to “mind your manners.”  She had two boys who were not all that keen on etiquette, but she tried her best under difficult circumstances.  It’s probably a shame she didn’t have a daughter who she could have guided through the proper upbringing with considerable attention to manners and proper civilized behavior.  As the youngest son, I suffered from some of her pent up zeal for the proper way for a girl boy to behave.

My mother’s America was a place where class didn’t matter and all people were equal, and therefore were responsible to behave in proper ways.  Even at ten years of age, I knew that was nonsense.  I had seen the huge houses in the rich part of town and knew that those people were different.  The world treated them differently than my parents living in their nine-hundred square foot home with two bedrooms and one bath.  My dad worked two jobs; days at the new air force base post office; nights and Saturday selling shoes at a local family shoe store.

The man who owned the shoe store liked my dad, or so my dad said; and had invited our family to his huge house for barbeques and other outdoor activities.  I thought it odd that we always attended events at his mansion for outdoor things.  My mother just said it was because they didn’t want some unruly kids breaking any of their good stuff.  Yeah, sure mom, class doesn’t matter in America.

My mother’s worst attempt at civilizing me was dance class.  This was to teach me to be a gentleman.  I never grasped how dance class related to being a gentleman, but I seldom argued with my mother.  Even when I knew she was wrong it was just easier to go along and hope for the best.  The first few months of dance lessons were horrible—I was usually the only boy and the girls seemed to find great pleasure in my obvious discomfort.  But after some time I started to enjoy the whole experience.  I liked the girls and, big shock, I liked dancing. 

Now I suppose if this was today, there would have been whispers about me being confused about my sexuality or something—but it’s the 1950s and those types of discussions were not allowed.  It didn’t matter because I was not confused about my sexuality and yes, I liked girls.  And at a very early age I discovered having a bunch of girls paying a lot of attention to you was not a bad thing.  On the other hand, my mother may have been confused about my sexuality—there was no doubt she would have preferred her second child to have been a girl.  Of course, she would have never said that; because she was too polite.

I soon progressed from dance class to baseball and my mother handed me off to my dad.  It would make a good story if I could say the dance lessons made me a better baseball player; but that was not the case.  My dad tried but he didn’t have my mother’s patience and I soon longed for dance class as I sat on the bench.  My dad never said much but I could tell he wondered if the dance lessons had ruined my baseball career.

It seems we have lost some of our fondness for manners.  My mother would be shocked at the rudeness of people today.  Miss Manners wasn’t a household name yet; but if she had been writing at that time she would have been. Emily Post was the manners guru of the day. Most people believed it was an important aspect of human interaction to be polite. 

Now it is often rudeness and even hatefulness that stands out as more courageous than consideration of others.  Political correctness has somehow gotten mixed up in the discussion about manners.  Polite, respectful people are now weak, sniveling beings afraid to say what’s really on their mind.  Being direct and speaking your mind is now the honest way to interact. Fuck the consequences.

My mother didn’t live to see the downfall of civility that dominates the internet; but if she had, her advice would have been to turn it off.  You’re never going to win that wresting match in the mud with a pig; just move on and ignore the foul odor. 

I’ve taken criticism in reviews for my use of certain words in my books, and as a result contributing to the decline of civilization.  Maybe, but I find it hard to believe that an occasional f-word tossed into a murder mystery book is driving the decline of civilization.  I don’t believe the problem is our words, but the menacing tone behind those words.  There is an anger in the world that hangs in the air like a foul smelling pigsty, and I don’t believe we know how to turn that off.

I think even mom might be stumped on how we get back to being polite and respectful to each other for no real reason other than it’s just the right thing to do—it’s proper behavior.  As mom would say; “mind your manners!”

No News Newspapers

It’s hard to imagine a day without newspapers; but it’s here.  Not long ago the morning began with the driveway search for the paper and brewing of the first cup of coffee.  It had been that way for as long as I can remember.  It was comforting.  Alone with coffee and the paper was my ideal way to start the day.  Not so much now.

I no longer read the paper newspaper.  Now it’s on-line.  No doubt, it’s more convenient, up-to-date and searchable; but it’s not the same.  My paper, for much of my life, was The Daily Oklahoman.  That paper was owned by one man who was a legend in Oklahoma.  During my high school days, a new paper, The Oklahoma Journal, appeared.  I read them both for years.  One was very conservative and the other was only a little less conservative (it is Oklahoma).  I wrote a series of books about this time; The Muckraker series with Stanley Nelson.  Most of the story is fiction but there are facts tossed in, too.

Newspapers are not what they were.  Most of their power and influence has declined.  There are still great papers and journalists, but many papers have become not much more than advertisement flyers, with the added bonus of sports pages.  A mere shadow of what they once were.  Of course a lot of the power and influence was used in ways that did not always benefit the country, only the owners, so maybe the decline was inevitable.

Not personally being involved in decisions can allow a person to be critical without really knowing the facts; but who decided that the best way to survive as a newspaper was to reduce the amount of news and increase the number of ads?  That decision seems dumb on the surface but maybe, if your goal is to survive, you do things like that.  Plus, you get rid of editors so most of the paper will have obvious errors in the little that is actually still news content.  Everyone likes errors, right?

When I moved to Denver there were two major papers in the market; The Denver Post and The Rocky Mountain News.  At that time, they were competing in a fierce price war and the competitive juices extended to the newsroom.  Some of the best journalism I have read came from that overheated era of nasty competition.  Cheap papers and great reporting—a reader’s dream.  But no doubt a financial disaster. 

Those papers used to be so heavy, even on weekdays, that you almost had to make two trips to the driveway.  No doubt it hastened the end of many a delivery person trying to toss the equivalent of a couple of bricks every morning—to almost every house.

Success in many things is not to be the best, but being the most profitable.  Today much of our news comes from people talking to other people who give great opinions but offer very little in actual news.  The advent of cable news in effect killed much of the news gathering business and established our current culture of bubble seekers.  I want to find the news that fits my beliefs—to hell with anyone else’s facts.

The larger national papers still seem to generate an abundance of great reporting but local papers have taken a significant step backward from what they were in the past.  It would seem inevitable that most towns, even big ones, are going to be without an active news gathering organization in the future.  I would imagine that soon they will abandon the pretense of being a “newspaper” and only have a sports section and celebrity stuff along with ads.

I’m adapting to the easy access of electronic news.  The constant updates and endless drum of breaking news becomes tiresome but also addictive.  While I think it is important to stay engaged and informed, we may be going a bit too far with the never ending drone of breaking news flashes. 

Is it possible to know too much and therefore nothing at all?  The volume of news seems to change its importance.  My past morning ritual of reading about the news from the previous day in the early hours over a leisurely cup of coffee seems to be a fading memory; now it is constant updates on my phone about what happened in the last hour. 

Maybe this morning I will watch the cartoon network for a few hours and just relax. Uninformed may not be so bad?

Thanks for being a reader!

My Advice Is

Advice: guidance or recommendations offered with regard to prudent future action.

On occasion I get questions from one source or another about writing.  Many of these are prompted by “interviews” for web sites that promote books.  One such question was; “what advice would I give someone who was thinking about writing their first novel?”  Generally, I respond to these in kind of a casual way, more or less assuming nobody actually reads the answers.  But for this one I was stumped, it seemed to deserve a more serious answer.

One of the first things I learned about writing was that it’s hard.  So maybe I should pass that along—hey, this is hard and more than likely will cost you money and a huge amount of time.  You might self-publish something and have the first review on your Amazon page be by someone who thinks; “This book is terrible. There are punctuation errors and my goodness this author sure needs a better spell checker.  The cover sucked.”  You have spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to produce this masterpiece and the first review just tossed it into the trash.  My advice is; don’t do it!

Okay that would be a bit snarky.  So what would my advice be?

Expect disappointment, but never give up.  Sure the hard work is more like digging a forever ditch than anything creative, but there are wonderful rewards for doing something that is uniquely you.  Nobody else can write the book you write.  It may be great or may be not so great, but it is yours.  Tell a story you have in your head and be proud of the results.  The number one way of becoming a good (and successful) writer is to write.

I’ve written before about practicing to be creative.  That idea seems counter to what we think of in producing something creative.  We want a burst of creative genius, not hard work or practice—but the dirty little secret is that most creative activity, from writing, to art, to singing, to dance is based on effort and practice. 

In my circle of family, friends and acquaintances there are people who believe I write a book over the weekend.  They have never said that; but by what they do say– it is apparent they think writing is based on talent and happens in a flash.  If you have talent you just dash out a 300-page book like it was nothing.  I’ve tried to correct that misconception with information about the hours it takes to write a book.  For me it is usually about three months of writing, but often that writing is interrupted by periods of no activity.  This can be just the outside world needing my attention or it can be writers block.  I have written books from beginning to end without any delays; that would be the three months I mentioned, others have taken much longer. Usually when I give out this real information, I get looks that suggest they don’t believe me, and I’m just trying to make what I do sound harder than it really is.  My list of family, friends and acquaintances that I talk to is steadily getting smaller every day.

After my private writing part of the book is “finished”, it is only the first draft.  Currently my books are going through months of editing by up to three editors.  This could be because I’m a sloppy author and if I was better this wouldn’t be needed.  But all professionally prepared books are edited at some level or another.   And then you have cover design and other aspects of publishing.  All and all, at least for me, it is about six months from start to finish—assuming none of those writer’s block demons drop in.  Of course there are examples of great works taking the author years and years or maybe, even decades.  That is dedication!

Writing a book is not easy.  It is hard work.  Once all of the work is completed and you have a finished product there is a great sense of accomplishment and pride.  The author knows better than anyone the effort it took to complete.  Now you publish and submit it to the public.  Unless you’re a proven, known author you have no idea what will happen.  You work on promotions and marketing and hopefully sell some books.  Then you see the bad review; highlighted, one star, standing out like a sore thumb –saying you wasted your time.  You’re a moron.

If you do something creative that is subject to this sort of criticism, then you will understand the angst that is created by someone, who may or may not have any ability to objectively comment on anything, who says whatever they want regarding something you spent hours, days, months and often years creating.  In a matter of minutes, they can turn that effort into a hurtful, ugly feeling of self-doubt.  Tiny bit of more advice—ignore them; all of them (except those wonderful, obviously accurate 5 star reviews).

Write every day, seven days a week and never worry about what some faceless person says—it’s your story to tell how you see fit.  Stay true to yourself, study your craft and write the next damn bestseller.  Screw everything else.  The more you write; the better it gets.

Thanks for being a reader!

Reading for Pleasure

A strange thing happened to me when I started writing; I stopped reading.  From a very early age one of my great pleasures was reading.  If you’re a regular reader of this blog you know that my favorite “literature” as a child was Classics Illustrated comic books.  The great joy I experienced then has continued throughout my life—I have read lots of books.  And I mean lots. 

Then I decided to try my hand at writing a book.  It was kind of a lark based on an encounter with a “published” author.  This was in a social setting and the person was a creative writing instructor at a local community college.  He and I got along—we agreed on a lot of important stuff; like politics.  Our wives got along, so we ended up socializing on other occasions.  At one of those he gave me his book—the only one he had written, I think—which apparently experienced a level of success and was published by a known publisher.  I read it (at that time I read everything) and decided it was okay but nothing special; still I was impressed that he had written a book and it was published.  Based on the grade school playground logic of “if he can do that, so can I“— I decided to write a book.

It was day one in my new writing career.  I won’t go into the ugly details, but it was mostly a disaster.  Nothing was easy and no one (other than maybe my family) gave a crap about my sudden declaration of being an author.  The whole experience was demoralizing.  I did write a book; sort of.  It was a mess.  I just jumped in not knowing what I was doing and thought some sort of inspiration would take over and guide me to a great book.  The inspiration never showed up.  What I learned is that writing is hard.

After that experience, I licked my wounds for a while; but eventually decided I still wanted to be an author.  Now I knew I needed guidance, professional people to assist in the editing, cover design and all sorts of things to produce a successful book.  From that first experience, it was almost six years before I wrote again.  Some of that time was healing time, but most was doing the things I should have done before.  I began to do the prep work on becoming an author.  I found people to help me in various areas and spent time thinking about writing, reading about writing, and studying about writing.

Once I decided I knew enough to try again, I started writing.  That book was The Bootlegger’s Legacy.  The whole experience was different.  It was still not easy.  I had worked on an outline and got about three chapters into the book and decided it was not going well—but rather than scream, I started over.  The second attempt worked.  I finished the book and was pleased with the result.  That first “real” book won a Benjamin Franklin Award from the Independent Book Publishers Association and I was hooked.  Suddenly, I really was an author.

During the writing of The Bootlegger’s Legacy, I found it was disruptive for me to read other books.  Not sure why or if this happens to other people; but it was difficult for me to enjoy reading because I was comparing it to my writing.  I was critical of the writing; I couldn’t seem to concentrate on the story, because I was focusing on the structure, or punctuation, or the totally stupid way the author said something.  I had never done that as a reader before.  Now I was a critic.

I stopped reading.  That was about five years ago and I have rarely read since.  I was a person reading dozens of books a year and enjoying the experience. But now, due to my writing, I couldn’t enjoy reading other people’s books. 

The primary way I learned to be an author was by reading.  Now my head was full of my stories and other people’s stories just interfered.  So, I guess, today I write because I need something to read.  Four Corners War was just released.  I worked for a long time on that book—I’ve written before about that experience so I won’t retell it here; but it was a very difficult project for me over an extended period.  By the time it was done, I was mostly exhausted by the whole thing.

After a little lull in writing, I decided to actually read the finished book; Four Corners War.  Okay, I shouldn’t say this, I liked it –a lot.  News flash, author likes his own book!

There were points in the process, like time schedules, deadlines, and endless editing that made me lose sight of the actual story.  Even if it is my book –it’s a good story about characters I have come to know as people and care about.  I’m glad I have the book to read.  Of course, if need be, I could always return to my childhood favorite Classics Illustrated comic books. 

Thanks for being a reader!

What is the creative process?

I have done many creative things in my life; painting, writing novels, woodworking, digital art, and of course accounting.  Accounting?  Some of those sales forecasts were pretty creative!

Painting and writing share a lot of attributes.  To be creative you first have to start.  Starting is hard.  When I was painting a lot, I would often find myself in front of a blank canvas wondering what to paint.  For some reason there were times when nothing would pop into my brain.  I had no ideas.  I would sketch some things, but it just wasn’t working.  Why?  Other days I had what seemed like hundreds of ideas on what I wanted to paint.  It was like everything I saw looked like something I wanted to paint.  Once again why?

Writing is even more dependent on an idea.  If I had no idea on what to paint, I could always spread around some color and call it abstract art; depicting the beginning of mankind.  Brilliant!  Not so with writing.  I suppose you could just write your life history over and over, but the book sales would not be good.  To write you have to have a fairly well developed idea that begins on page one.  I write mysteries, so in most cases I need to have a good idea how the story is going to go before I start.  There is a structure to mystery stories.  There is an event, action or something that prompts someone to want to uncover what happen, where something is located or hidden, and who did it and why.  So to begin the book you have to have an idea on how it ends.  Now, there is no question that as I write, the story changes.  I began The Bootlegger’s Legacy as a different story than the one I ended with; but that is mostly about false starts and starting over—I’ve definitely done that.

It would be hard to write a book and not have some idea of what the book is about.  But more than just a story line, you need developed characters and a detailed plot.  So where does this stuff come from? 

Inspiration is defined as “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.”  That is inspiration, but where does it come from.  During my working life I was the guy with ideas.  Other people seemed not to have ideas.  Is there an idea “talent,” sort of like playing the violin?  It sure seems like some people are creative and others not at all.  I have bumped into that non-creative mind set.  There are people who actually seem to take pride in being a non-idea person; like that is a good quality.  “Don’t ask me about that stuff I’m not an idea guy!”  Maybe that is just a way to avoid having your ideas laughed at.  I’ve sure experienced that.  Being creative means taking a risk; because quite often some of those creations are real monsters.

If you’re a religious person you probably adhere to the “God-given” talent aspect in almost all things.  So creative people have been born with a creative trait that comes from God.  That’s a little too mystical for me, but it’s hard to argue with the sentiment.

In our society we have some very “talented” people who play sports.  These people are honored and paid huge sums of money for what would also appear to be “God-given” talents.  While physical skills are often inherited, the people who are really good at sports have taken those talents to entirely new levels by enhancing their inherited abilities with training, exercise and working day and night through repetition to reach the highest levels of sports.

Maybe creative is something similar, sure you’re born with certain creative traits, but most people ignore those skills and never really develop what might be call pro creative talents.  So maybe rather than lift weights, you develop creative skills by studying creative people.  Reading or viewing art could be to the creative mind the same as running around a track to the athlete.

I know much of my love of reading occurred from one source, Classics Illustrated comic books.  I loved the art with strong bold colors and I loved the stories.  My brother had a stash of the comics but was not really interested in them (he was seven years older than me and had discovered girls –he was never the same); for reasons that escape me, I began reading his collection.  It was wonderful.  I couldn’t wait to begin the next comic in the stack.  Obviously I was a troubled child—but I was quiet.

My parents would probably have preferred that I was out running track or thinking about baseball; but there I was in my room reading and reading and reading.  Rather than trying to alter my behaviors they went with the flow and bought me an increased supply of the wonderful (and cheap) comic books.  I believe the first comic I read was The Three Musketeers.  It was a story of adventure, friendship; all taking place in another world—it was absolutely great.  Not sure how many of those comic books I read and then re-read, but it had to be hundreds.

Now today, I have buried in my old brain hundreds of stories and great memories from classic books.  What a resource to stimulate the creative process.  Now a more cynical person would say most of those great memories were destroyed by hours of television; but I think Classics Illustrated comic books gave me the brain muscle memory to be a creative person.

Being creative is not magic but probably based on much of the same process as athletes honing their skills, you have to work at it; practice.

To be creative, you must try to be creative.  This may result in failure, most likely a lot of failure; but with practice you learn to polish those creative energies into something unique and hopefully amazing.  Write, design, paint, sculpt, sing, compose, sew, dance, act, build and maybe even develop that sales forecast and become the best creative person you can be.

New Mexico inspired digital art

Thanks for being a creative reader!

Fake Authors

I’m a baseball fan, more specifically a Colorado Rockies baseball fan.  They had a disappointing year and it has been hard to be positive—but I still watch.  Maybe that is the definition of a fan; even in bad years you root for your team.  Baseball is a frustrating game to watch because it’s about failure.  The top hitters in the league hit on average 30% of the time.  That means 70% of the time they fail.  That’s a lot of failure to observe over a course of the season. 

Baseball and Indie authors share some attributes—mostly failure.  “Around 12% of the top 20 books on Amazon are self-published. 12% is not much by any standard. It perfectly illustrates the hardest challenge for any indie writer: Marketing and book promotion! Very few succeed indeed.”  This is a quote from a web site called kindleranker.

With the article quoted above there was a list of the most successful indie authors on Amazon and the number of bestsellers they have written.  This is a strange list of either “not authors” or unknown names.  So 12% of top selling books are by indie authors nobody heard of?  This does seem odd.  I randomly picked three to see what was going on.

The number one “indie author” is Dartan Creations with 171 top 20 sellers.  This is obviously some sort of self-publishing group that turns our all kinds of mostly non-fiction books.  The trick seems to be to list the author as Dartan Creations with co-authors, who no-doubt are the real authors.  So Dartan Creations has many successful books but it represents multiple authors.  No harm, no foul—but a little deceptive.

This was a common aspect of about half of the top ten indie authors; Book List Guru, Premise Content, Pretty Planner and others—they are not authors at all.

Number two on the list was also not an author “Jade Summer”—it’s a brand of adult coloring books.  They even brand the books with what looks like an author’s name and positioned it on the cover to mimic where the author’s name would be.  Is this illegal—no.  Is it wrong—no, again.  Maybe a little deceptive if you goal is to get on top 20 lists on Amazon based on authors.  There is not a top 20 list based on “brands.”

The next one I picked was because it was the only name I recognized; Anton Chekhov.  A dead Russian author was self-publishing? This was a little confusing in that for some books they are published by Random House but for others they appear to be self-published—and apparently they sell well.  Don’t really know the details here but someone is messing with Amazon.

The only other name that I thought might be a real author was V Moua.  This does appear (that doesn’t mean it is so) to be a real person with an odd name.  He has written something like 170 children books and would appear to have significant sales.  Looks like price is a factor.

So what does this mean and why should you, or me for that matter, care?  What it means for sure is that fiction indie authors are very low on the list of best-selling authors.  No doubt fiction mystery authors are even lower.  Indie mystery writers are like baseball players; they fail a lot.  However, baseball players are paid huge sum of money to fail—not so much writers.

Some of my blogs get to deep into the book business aspect of my life and may have little interest to most readers—sorry if that is the case.  The most important aspect of the article from kindleranker was the comment that the hardest challenge for any indie writer is marketing and book promotion.

I spend as much time (or maybe more) on marketing and promotion as I do on writing.  If you are thinking about writing you should be aware that success only comes from having a “great” book, or at least a “good” book and knowing how to market your book and yourself.  There are probably more cases of having a “bad” book and having great knowledge about how to market and being successful than the other way around.  So to be a successful indie author you need to know marketing, first and writing, second.

This goes against everything I learned when I was thinking about writing.  The experts all said concentrate on writing, produce the best book you can and keep writing.  So maybe if you have 170 great books that you can afford to sell at a $1.99 on Amazon you will reach some level of success?  That sounds like a very narrow window for success.

There is a great joy in creating something from nothing.  Take an idea and some months later it is a published book on Amazon.  Maybe that is like hitting 30% of the time and calling it a success.  As long as you’re doing as good as your competitors—it is success.  Although I think I would prefer to be on the best seller list.  Maybe next month?  Or I could change my name to Jade Summer.

Thanks for being a reader!

Is it hard work being creative?

The most successful way I’ve experienced to make contact with readers is to give away books.  “Here’s a free book, if you like it, buy my other books.”  Sure that makes sense.  But it bugs the hell out of me.  Okay, this next little part is whining.  I spend months and months, lots of money (for me) writing and producing a book.  Yes, I enjoy writing—but what creates a book is effort.  That is real, dig a hole in the backyard effort.  When I’m really writing at a good pace and I reach the end of the day; I’m exhausted.  Sure, after fifteen minutes of digging that hole I would be exhausted, but the analogy has merit.  It is hard work being creative.

So after all of this “hard” work, I’m now giving away the product of that effort.  The explosion of free books is the result of Amazon, book promotion web sites and Indie writers.  Free book promotions would exist without those factors but to a much lesser degree.  I’m sure there are readers who never read anything other than free books—if the authors choose to give them away, how are the readers at fault?  They’re not.  This is 100% an author’s decision based on a “you have no real choice” option to promote yourself and your book.  And it works!

Yep, there’s the rub.  It actually works.  You do expand your reader base; and these free book readers do buy other books.  Now, for sure, there are only free book readers—but even those might give you a good review which will help your sales.  But why does it still feel wrong to me?

I’ve spent most of my working life providing advice, usually something to do with finances, to business people.  Something I spent a lot of time working on was pricing—how should a business establish a price for their product.  Yes, I was hired by people to establish the most profitable strategy for pricing their product—I was a pricing pro.  Now for my own product, my advice is free!  That would not have made my clients happy if I said the most profitable, strategic price for your product is nothing.

Why does that work with e-books?  It’s simple, there is no cost.  Free e-books exist because there is, in most cases, no actual out-of-pocket cost to giving away that electronic file—the e-book.  However, there is an investment in the e-book.  The effort writing, the cost producing; which can be thousands and thousands of dollars before anything is assigned for the author’s time.  But, and this is the famous big “But”—how do you allocate that cost.  If you spent $5K producing a book and expected to sell 5K of e-books and paperbacks that would be a dollar cost per book.  But of course it’s not that simple.  You don’t know how many you will sell or the mix of paperback and e-book—plus paperbacks have actual cost per book for each one printed; the e-books don’t have additional costs.

Way too much in the weeds, right?  The bottom line is you can give away e-books and more or less assume you have no cost with what you gave away as free.  But, yes another big “But”; does it lessen the value of your brand.  Would readers decide that you will eventually give away each of your books at one time or another and just wait for the bargain.  Or on the macro level, does giving away books lessen the value of all books.  Are authors training readers to only value books at zero?

As an ex-pricing pro I can tell you giving away books is stupid. Unless your goal is to make no money at something you invest money in and spend many hours producing—that would be financial suicide.  I should know better—but I’m still giving away e-books.  I’m doing it less and less, but still doing it.  Because as an Indie author it is hard to break-through the fog of so many book options for readers.  There are more books available than most readers can possibly have time to read. 

Another point I want to make—and would love your input on this; readers now have libraries of free books on their devices.  They have not invested a penny in those books—do they read them the same way they would a hardback they just spent $20 on?  Probably not—if the book doesn’t hit them right within the first few pages it’s total garbage.  They move on to the next no cost book.  I remember many a book (usually purchased at a hardback price) that did not hit me at the beginning—maybe it was my mood, or the weather or something; but I was not engaged in the story.  And then sometime later, I returned and loved the book from beginning to end.  Some books take a commitment to get to the flow of the story, maybe by accident or by design by the author; but without a commitment it’s garbage.

Maybe I will re-think my marketing strategy and stop free books, or maybe not?  It’s a question that is not easy to answer.  One thing I know for sure “it bugs the hell out of me.”


Okay, just to prove I have no scruples, or maybe I have no sense; you can get a free copy of the e-book for The Bootlegger’s Legacy, Tuesday September 10th on Amazon.  If you get a free book (and like it), the least you can do is give me a good review.

The Bootlegger’s Legacy was my first book (it actually wasn’t–but that is another story) and as I have said many times, it might be my favorite.  The backstory about Pat Allen, the 1950s Oklahoma bootlegger, and his most desirable mistress, Sally, is some of my best writing (my opinion). 

Anyway at free it’s got to be a bargain.

Thanks for being a reader!