It’s easier to move things than to change information.

I have finished moving about 1000 feet, and can resume thinking about my life i terms of  jobs done and words written, instead of boxes and furniture moved from A to B. Thanks publicly here to all those who helped, with either kind words and thought, but especially those who helped with actual doing of deeds.

WIN_20171203_19_53_46_Pro

Same dork – new cave

Between what Penny took for herself, and what I left behind as either garbage or charity, I think I have shed 40% of the total inventory of the old place. Now- I still have plenty of stuff. I am uncomfortably close to being a hoarder, but I come by this genetically.

My grandparents bought the house I live in now new in 1952. When he died, and my mother inherited the place, I took custody of a big pile of his accumulated tools and hardware, hauling them a thousand feet south, often on foot.

Now I have finished hauling much of that 1000 feet north again. Some of this stuff will go back to the same place I found it. So it goes.

This place was built at the same time as my old residence, which is, seriously, on the other side of the block. The original (I believe) owner of that house was a mason by trade, so the house has seven foot stone walls around the backyard, and a couple of block wall additions.

My grandfather was an electrician, so I find mystery switches and sockets and cuircuits in every corner. What they both had in common is they did quite a bit of additions to their homes without ever pulling permits.

This was actually my first residence in Phoenix, after my mother’s first divorce forced her to move back to the Valley from Tucson. Through most of my childhood my grandmother was either unemployed or part-time, so my sister and I came here every afternoon after school.  So you think I’d know the place.

Except I have never lived here when it was my role to care which circuit breaker controls which outlets. There are still many details about this house I have yet to discover.

But I’m here now, with time to poke around. I even have the essentials unpacked and arranged in v1.1 of how the house will actually be organized. The hardest part, I have learned, was not the logistics of physically moving. That all went pretty close to plan.

Changing account information with creditors and utilities has been the true nightmare.Some of this is because my wife primarily dealt with the actual paying of the bills, and so her name always comes up first. Most of it, though, is willful incompetence.

Being the sort to name names, here are the worst, in order of incompetence:

Sprint

I am the only person left on the 4 line family plan, and the only one interested at all in keeping service with this company. (I like my phone and own it outright.) I have spent nine+ hours on the phone with their robot drones from Pakistan trying to explain that  I still have no clear path to having a plan with my name on it. I did finally get the useful info that the family plan is basically paid up through the December 24. At that point, the only number my phone will call will be Sprint, where hopefully the bot on the other end can break with script (they are all “very sorry for the inconvenience” and “appreciate my patience” because that’s what their screens prompt them to say.

Or I walk my bricked phone over to Verizon, and they’ll set me up in 30 minutes. (not with the phone I have, of course, or that would have already happened).

Vantage West Credit Union

They own the note on my Soul, which is in Penny’s name, as is the title to my car. So yes, my wife really does own my Soul. This was never Penny’s intention. We think someone at the dealership skipped a line. In either case,  my name is not on my primary transport vehicle, and that’s a problem.

Vantage West won’t change the name on the loan, even though my income and credit were pulled to secure that loan. Their solution: refinance at a higher interest rate.

Cox Communications

I thought this went easy over the phone: new account at a new address (with existing cable – they didn’t even need to send someone) at a lower rate to reflect my simpler needs.

The bill I got had my wife’s name and phone number, but my e-mail, the new address, and the equipment and service details from the previous tenant.

Unlike the other two, Cox has laid out a path to solvency: show up to a retail store with a proof that I live here (My mom created a rental agreement), and this should get fixed.]

UPDATE: I left the solutions store after my second visit thinking we had this solved, and came home to find my internet turned off. A call to technical support finally solved the puzzle: once upon a time I had two modems (an old and a new). They had activated the old one. Obviously, since I can post now, this had been solved.

We shall see.

Anyway, I’m 70% moved in with the 60% of the crap that’s left of my previous life. And I might make word count next week for the first time in a month.

 

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Marketing to writers trying to market trying to…

Last Friday, I did a radio interview for the Author’s Show, and “internet radio” show featuring various authors.  My airdate is November 27 – when you can hear it all day Channel 3.

From their website:

Web

Don’t click – I stole this!

The Authors Show is more than a “show” in the traditional sense of the word.  It is a professional book marketing audio & video program  that offers participants  multiple benefits that authors who are serious about marketing their work need to consider, especially inasmuch as these benefits have long lasting effects.

 

A cynic might say that their primary target is the authors themselves, to whom they will happily sell MP3’s of these interviews starting at $129 and going up quickly from there. I’m not that excited about posting a interview on my website so that six people might listen to it. If I had the distribution platform to make such a thing worthwhile, I could produce an in-house recording of similar quality (I know folk) for less money.

BUT I learned a lot. First of all the guy on the other end of the phone had a spiel about how book marketing actually works, and I was going to listen to it until he ran out of string.

To summarize his Ted Talk, internet marketing is all about getting as high as you can on search engine results. If your work does not appear on the first three pages, you might as well not exist. This is how people look for books. Everything else, your promo posts on social media, your book trailer on You Tube, your well meaning engagement on GoodReads, all of that accounts for a fraction of a percent of typical sales.

We find books by search engine.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with engaging potential readers on Faceplace or Flitter, but that’s basically busy work; waving your hands around so that your publisher thinks you’re trying. Never spend real money on that sort of thing.

The only marketing worth spending money on is that which raises you ij search engines: SEO, site design, and soul-squashingly dull stuff like that..

The other thing I learned is that cell phones are worthless for internet audio. They were very gracious about rescheduling for when I could Skype in. And they asked a bunch of softball questions designed to help me sell my book.  So I’ll stop bagging on them, even though I’m not likely to buy their MP3 of my own voice.

http://www.mysticpublishersinc.com/store/product/beanstalk-and-beyond/

An actual book you can buy!

 

Compare and contrast the Tempe Book Festival where we sold three books, all mine, [Beanstalk and Beyond] and all to people I knew.  Now, I believe the actual purpose was to recruit writers rather than sell books to readers, in which case the Tempe event was a rich environment.

 

Yes- Mystic Publishers  is taking submissions.

 

I am told, anecdotally, that I am one of their best sellers. Maybe because I’m marketing to readers, and not writers.

Now we know.

 

PS:

If you made it down this far, we’re friends, and you should now that I am moving. Down the block. Because reasons. So if you feel like you haven’t moved enough crappy furniture, or don’t have enough crappy furniture of your own [and it’s still November 2017] contact me, because I have a surplus of both opportunities.

Tempe Book Festival Next Saturday!

I will be there, at my publisher’s booth (Mystic) signing copies of Beanstalk and Beyond for any and all.

http://www.mysticpublishersinc.com/store/product/beanstalk-and-beyond/

An actual book you can buy! And that I will sign for you if you want.

 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

The Tempe Book Festival is an annual event intended to celebrate reading, writing, and a love for books. The Festival brings together local authors, publishers, booksellers, panel discussions, youth story times, and more!

Other authors will be there selling other books … I suppose.

This is my last certain book event between here and Christmas. I would like that not to be the case, and balls are in the air, but this one is the last certainty.

I hope to see you there!

Also, at Curious Continuity, I shared a You Tube video.

For the word count, I have a chapter in the can on the sequel to Beanstalk. I have a chapter in the can of the sequel to One of 64, and I drew/inked/colored/laid-out and lettered a page of the web comic – somewhere in chapter 2.  I made my 5k.

A number of friends read to the bottom of last week’s entry, and had generous responses to that, and I am grateful.

And now a giant, pacific octopus poaching crabs.

 

Now you know.

The Depressing Truth Behind Making Word Count

I have an ongoing weekly goal of 5000 written words a week. I have from Monday to Sunday to write, edit or otherwise create 5000 words worth of new material for a range of projects. (Yes, blogs count.)

I made my word count today for the first time in months, and that might be cause for rejoicing, the underlying reasons for my newfound productivity are not.

First, we brag.

On Are We Lost Yet, I finally recount my adventures in and around the Johnson Canyon Railroad. (Featured in Five Star Hikes: Flagstaff and Sedona).

The article is a few hundred words, but the video counts as a thousand.

In general, I need to figure an hour of total production time (writing, shooting, editing) for every minute of good You Tube video. The footage for this one (and ones like it) was shot years ago as personal notes, so that skews the formula. Nonetheless, I spent over three hours editing it.

Over on Curious Continuity, I popped out a thousand words ( separated by stolen, if credited images) on Fermi’s Paradox, and why our universe might remain terribly lonely.

I also did some artwork for The 64 (and drafted 1300 words on the sequel), but the artwork isn’t scheduled for months, and the novel for years. But we’ll get there.

Nobody on their deathbed laments that they wished they had made word count more often, or any other sort of job-related regret. They all wish they had spent more time with their family. I will to, I suppose. But this week, and perhaps many more to come, all I have is the work.

My wife of 29 years has left me, as in changed her address. As in I had to go start an account at a different credit union just to make certain  there is a hard line between our accounts now.

This was not my idea or desire. There was no problem with my wife or  the marriage that, from my end, I could not deal with or circumnavigate. She saw it differently, and here I am making word count.

I must, then refer you  to her, if you know her, for an explanation of why. I have gotten different answers, and I remain uncertain which if any I believe. There was, so you know, no particular incident or crime, or specific breach of faith. She was unhappy, and felt that leaving me was the way to deal with that. And there was nothing I could do – because I asked – to change her mind about that.

I’m not writing this in an attempt to elicit pity. I am still ahead of the curve in overall human experience. But I’m going to write these next paragraphs anyway, so that it doesn’t just plop out of me on Facebook or the like.

My marriage was one of the few enterprises in my life that I truly took seriously; the endeavor I put the most time, energy and money into (though the kids muddy that measurement), and it has failed. So when I write or speak of the scattered positive aspects of this situation, that is not, an attempt to disparage my wife or our relationship history. Rather, it is an attempt to convince myself that this is not the end of the world.

I have never been a single adult. I met my wife on my first day of college and we were dating by the end of that September. I was married at 21, and have remained so,  to that same woman, ever since. (Divorce is coming, but not here yet).

I have no clear idea how actual adults date in the 21st century. And, so we’re clear, I am not in a hurry to find out. In the summer of 1986 I rented a studio apartment for six months. Penny and I were still just “dating”. That was the last time I actually resided alone. I am kinda curious to see how I handle it.

Now, by alone, I mean with Penny’s two cats (also not my idea) and my daughter’s rabbit, all of which require food and attention. We all live together in a crumbling monument to all the compromises I made in the interest of a now failed marriage.

So bit by bit, I am reconstructing my house now that I no longer have to accommodate other human beings.

I am also working on developing a social life, because I haven’t been able to say yes to a party without side negotiations in 29 years. But I’m still not getting so drunk I have to sleep on your floor.

I still have to feed the pets.

This will be an adventure! So say the optimists in my life They may be right.

Being on a sinking ship is an adventure. And you will learn a lot about yourself and your true limits and priorities; things you might not have learned any other way.

But in your few quiet moments, you are still going to wish that the ship wasn’t sinking.

This was 850 words towards my goal. By the time I add links and tags, I can count it as a thousand.

 

Now you know.

 

The Ladder of Poor Decisions

I dimly recall reading somewhere that, on a broooaaad average, half of US management decisions are wrong. I’d love to cite that source, but it was something I picked up working backstage at a university in  the early 90’s and skimmed through while waiting on a cue.

That’s poor documentation for an insight that has informed my approach to managing and dealing with managers most of my adult life.  Even so, I have found this to be roughly true. We are only right about half the time – on the first try.

In my RPG systems (I’ve written three) I assume that an average person will succeed at a common task (that they have no particular expertise in) about half the time. This more or less works out.

Now, this is hard to pin down because most of us do not keep score about when we are right or wrong. Some experts think we should start, but most of us don;t actually balance our checkbooks, so good luck with that.

At a recent writer’s group, we received well meaning if unsolicited advice about how we go about making poor decisions. Complete with a hand-out.

Ladder of Inference

Adapted from The Fifth Discipline by Peter Serge

We work our way up this ladder of loosely defined terms whenever we make a decision, or so the presentation went. Experience informs data which informs Meaning and so forth. On average, though, we go up this ladder in about six seconds, which does not leave a lot of time to fully consider all the steps, particularly the lower ones.

Which may go a long way towards explaining our half-wrong problem.

But there’s an even chance that’s not the problem at all.

Our friends the octopi (a frequent subject of this blog) have a completely different approach., as this well-animated TedEd video explains:

Now you know.

 

A Beanstalk Review and a Parade of Other Notes

First, the good news: My novel Beanstalk and Beyond received a review from a publication that people might actually read, namely the Nameless Zine.

Reviewer Chris Wozney writes:

I am quite impressed by this blending of fairy tales and historical setting. The author is himself a wanderer, and he imbues this story with some of the compulsion a wanderer feels for the roads and ways that lead out to the world beyond one’s doorstep.

I will choose to believe he has read some of my hiking guides, rather than discovering their existence while Googling my name. No-shh! Don’t wreck this moment for me.

Now the break even news, everyone forgot I was going to run Go Action Fun Time at Rincon, including me. I found the commitment in one of my many notes this afternoon, but was relieved to find I am not actually scheduled for any game or event.

I don’t have an episode ready to go. (And I’m likely out of money).

If you go, give them my regards, and no hard feelings, OK?

Bad News: the primary purpose of an HP printer is to extort ink sales from the user. If they happen to successfully print a document along the way, that is an unexpected bonus. My HP Deskjet 3520 is skipping every six lines because it believes I am using counterfeit ink (I’m not). Multiply this user experience by several million, and you understand why Carly Fiorina will never be president.

NOTES FROM WRITER’S GROUPS:

The #30 for the Arizona Diamondbacks is currently worn by LHP and bullpen resident T.J. McFarland.  Previous owners of note have been pitchers Todd Stottlemyer and David Hernandez.

The Devonian period began 416 mya, and ended with a as-yet-unexplained massive marine extinction 319 mya. Curiously, the first land plants that evolved during thgis age survived the extinction. Also, of note, the first distinct insects apear.

Flowering plants will not appear until 120 mya.

Free Companies were the only clear victors in the Hundred years War.

Finally, authors Jamaica Kincaid,  and PJ O-Rourke.

Now you know.

 

Beanstalk and Beyond now out in Digital formats

For those of you demanding a version of my novel, Beanstalk and Beyond, in some format hat you can’t hold in your hand, or drop in the bathtub, I have good news!

Newlink Publishing has put all the bits and bytes together in multiple formats for your reading enjoyment. You can find them at Smashwords

http://www.mysticpublishersinc.com/store/product/beanstalk-and-beyond/

The digital version is not this thick.

And if you want a book to hold in your actual hands, you can buy from direct from the publisher.

 

Or, you know, Amazon. If you have to.

It’s on Kindle now too – if you feel like you have to conform.