Thursday, December 31, 2020

File This in the Category of Huh?

 You know how I pointed out that I forgot to add the "if you liked this book, please help others find it by reviewing it at your favorite online store" section to the cozy mystery? I suspected it might make a tiny bit of difference, but not enough to justify re-uploading a new copy of the book everywhere.

Well. Guess what has absolutely no reviews? Not even any star ratings. Is it because people bought it but haven't read it yet? Maybe there is something wrong with the Goodreads entry? (Okay, take this whole thing with a grain of salt because I am extrapolating from data and I could be wrong -- when you get to the end of a Kindle book and it prompts you to rate it, I think that rating goes to Goodreads, although it is also reflected on Amazon. This book didn't automatically show up in Goodreads, so I created it there manually, but I'm not sure it's linking to Amazon properly.) Or... maybe everyone just hates the book. (Peak author brain talking here.)

Anyhow, as I was anxiously watching the blank review section, I also noticed this:

Best Sellers Rank: #214,685 in Kindle Store; #3,606 in "Cozy Animal Mystery"; #4,781 in "Cozy Animal Mysteries"; #7,465 in "Women Sleuths (Kindle Store)"
(Uh, yeah, these ranks are nothing to write home about.)

Amazon's non-standard categories show up in a big way for the really popular categories, like romance. Paranormal romance, for example, currently has seven sub-categories, depending on whether you want to read about ghosts getting it on, or if you like it with fangs.

But Amazon tends to just semi-randomly assign books to categories. I mean, you choose a couple of categories when you upload the manuscript, but it seems to view those as suggestions that it might just ignore.

The other oddity is that it has separate set of categories for Kindle books and paperback books. The categories are sort-of maybe kind-of the same for some genres, but not for others.

Anyhow, in the screenshot above "Cozy Animal Mystery" is under the Kindle books hierarchy, and "Cozy Animal Mysteries" is under the paperback hierarchy.

That would make a bit more sense if I had set up the novella for paperback sales, but it's only available as an ebook. Why would they do this? I have no idea.

Obligatory Dog Picture

Ginger the Little Dog wishes everyone a safe and kind new year.

Little fluffy tan dog standing on a brick on green grass

Wednesday, December 30, 2020


Yesterday I wrote an entire screenful of stuff about the different independent publishing Facebook groups I belong to, and then I stopped and thought to myself "Wasn't I going to write about goals?" and I could not figure out how I got from my intended topic to the topic that ended up in the blog.

(Side note: 2020 is the first year when I considered whether I ought to be tested for ADHD. Is this normal?)

(Side side note: I stopped doing agility with the little dog -- back when we still had class -- because I thought she was having back pain, and then that cleared up, and she's able to get up the back stairs with the ramp, but she just walked by the couch and watching the way she moves her back legs -- I'm pretty sure she has proprioception issues, so yeah, spinal problems.)

(Other side note: Does you see why I've started wondering about ADHD? I do this shit all day long. It's exhausting.)

Anyhow, the reason the FB groups came up in relation to goals, is that a whole bunch of authors were talking about how they use yearly planners and other scheduling software to figure out their release schedules and how to stay on track. 

I do monthly goals (on the other blog), and weekly goals on a writers' Discord server, but even those I sometimes forget about. Planning for things a year in advance seems like an impossible task -- unless I'm looking for things to laugh at myself about.

So here, without any more diversions, are my 2021 goals that I am writing down so I can laugh at them in twelve months' time:

  1.  Publish the sheep heist space opera trilogy. (Book 1 is written and has editing notes. Book 2 is mostly written. I know what happens in book 3. This may be possible.)

  2. Write and publish books 2 & 3 in the Penelope Standing Mysteries. (The first one was a novella. I'm not sure how long the other two will be. In any case, they are a little faster to write.)

  3. Don't adopt any more animals. (Trust me -- this is a stretch goal.)

  4. Send out a newsletter at least four times. (Quarterly should be possible, right? Especially if I manage to hit this publishing schedule.)


  6. Make the back yard a more inviting place. (This may involve hiring someone who has a better design sense than I do. That's fine.)
That should do it. I suspect I'll have chickens and a new cat or dog by March, but we'll see how it goes.

Gratuitous Dog Picture

Manipulated image that makes it look like the Alaskan Husky's head is 3D and coming out of a square
I need to start messing with photos again. These are such cheesy fun.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020


 I am in three groups on Facebook that are about independent publishing.

  1. The first group is full of people who have absolutely no idea what they are talking about, though a certain percentage of them (*cough cough* who tend to be white men *cough cough*) are willing to dispense wisdom as hard and fast rules, as if they were bestselling authors who have the only known path to success.

    My favorite post was one in which someone asked about Twitter, and one man responded with The One True Way To Make Twitter Sell BooksⓇ, which involved following hundreds of thousands of people, unfollowing anyone who didn't follow back, and posting every two hours in order to remain relevant. I would be shocked -- truly shocked -- if that sold even one extra book.

    Basically I only stay in this group because it is occasionally hilarious.

  2. The second group is quite famous and does have a lot of people who have sold a lot of books. There is good advice given, but it's fairly... cultish. If you are at all susceptible to that sort of pressure, it would be very easy to believe that you should release a book every month. People refer to the founding members in hushed tones.

    Also, people tend to put up posts about how much money they made using various strategies, but neglect to include the amount spent in advertising, which may be as much or more than they make in sales. That seems like an important piece. Plus, the group makes a big deal about not having "drama", and that means that there really is a lot of drama, but most of it is people complaining about how there's drama, and users are fairly arbitrarily booted from the group.

    So it's useful but you have to take everything with a grain of salt, and not get caught up in any of the drama (which is often about not having any drama).

  3. The third group is also large, though not as big as the second one. It's devoted to distributing on sites other than Amazon, and how to market for those other sites. Lots of good information, though it tends to be fairly scattered, since one distributor may have one requirement, and another may be completely different.

    One of the funniest posts in group three was the one in which people were talking about what had happened (if they even knew) to get them booted from group two. A lot of people were in that post.
I meant to write a post about goals, but I guess I'll do that tomorrow. (Even my goals about goals don't stay on track -- I'm hopeless.)

Gratuitous Bird Picture

Mackie, like most parrots, is quite good at destroying things. Boxes make the best toys for her.

A conure standing on top of a box
Seed used to bribe her to hold still enough to get a picture

Monday, December 28, 2020


 Confession: I spent the day doing adult stuff, including walking the dogs, cleaning the kitchen floor, and scrubbing the dried trail of drool that extends across the living room from the dog bed (where the dogs do a down-stay while I prepare their food) to the dog crate (where I put the big dog's food). So then I decided to make a whiskey sour after I ate dinner (because I have all these damn Meyer lemons to use up -- gardening is killing my liver), and as usual I didn't measure anything. Full disclosure: I'm a little bit hammered at the moment.

I'm on vacation today! Yay! Unfortunately, being on vacation makes me think about how much I don't want to work ever again. That's a problem. I've had a privileged life, so I can't really complain (spoiler: I'm going to anyhow!), but wouldn't it be nice to be born to a place where you could do whatever you wanted for the rest of your life?

I wrote half a piece of flash fiction this morning, but I didn't work on the ending to my November novel. Maybe tomorrow.

Gratuitous Dog  and Cat Pictures

Black cat lying upside down
Ripley at his winsome best

Close-up of an Alaskan Husky nose
Mr. Your Business Is My Business

Sunday, December 27, 2020


 I worked out, I did a little cleaning, and then it was time to start procrastinating on writing the ending of the NaNoWriMo novel. Cat Rambo has all of the on-demand classes currently priced at $5 each (and honestly, y'all should take the space opera course just so you can hear Ann Leckie talk about the origins of the genitalia festival in Ancillary Sword). So I bought a few -- procrastinating by watching classes is often what I need to get me unstuck.

One of the classes I bought covers the topic of podcasting for writers. Do I intend to start a podcast? No. Ha ha ha. No. I can't even commit to blogging regularly, and that doesn't involve listening to the sound of my own voice. (Aieeeee!) But there may be some occasion in the future, if I'm better about promoting my books, when I might need to be a guest on someone else's podcast. Also, it's fun to look into things I have no intention of doing.

(To tell you how bad I am at marketing my books, I realized this morning that I forgot to put in the "If you enjoyed this book, please write a review at your favorite site" section in the cozy mystery. Do people really need to be reminded? Maybe they do. I should redo the epub files and reload them to all the distributors, but that's a lot of work. I think I'll just wait until book two in the series comes out, at which point I'll need to reload everything with a link to the next book anyhow. I am lazy.)

Gratuitous Dog Picture

This is from two years ago. We walked around downtown on a weekend when the leaves were falling. Georgie looks like he was on patrol.

Alaskan Husky lying amid orange and yellow leaves

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Winter Walk

 We've reached the time of the year when it always seems to be dark and gloomy, plus I've sent the last week eating so much sugar that my pancreas is begging for mercy. At least I worked out this morning. I may have to take that as the solitary win for the day.

Instead of walking the dogs late at night, I took them for a stroll on the paths of the nearest park during the day today. That meant having treats handy at all times. 

Two dogs in a grassy park, with their leashes attached to a big tree that could be an oak but might be something else entirely
Photography tip: for that extra pop of color, always have poop bags tied to your leash.

The little dog throws a fit when she sees another dog, or, since her eyesight isn't that great, a person pulling a cart, holding a briefcase, or just looking like someone who might own a dog. The big dog isn't quite as bad when he's on his own, but when the little dog is barking and just generally making a ruckus, he gets excited too. 

little fluffy elderly dog
QOTD, every day: Is this the start of deafness, blindness, or senility?

Hence, treats. If I can distract them and keep this all from escalating, we can get through it all without any barking or pulling on the leash. It's also important to catch it early, because the big dog is not quite as gentle about taking treats when he is excited. I like my fingers where they are, thank you very much.

Head of an Alaskan Husky
You can tell I'm not a great dog trainer because I can't take a picture without clipping their leashes to something. Otherwise if I crouch down, they rush me.

Anyhow, that was my day. I might need to invest in better lighting, or maybe just move to the southern hemisphere for the season.

Friday, December 25, 2020

I Am My Own Co-author

I am full of (quite excellent) stollen, so I'm just going to ramble on some more about independent publishing.

If you do any research, you'll find out about the big stuff. Do you go exclusive to Amazon? How do you get an audiobook made? Why is buying an ISBN so expensive in the US? (They're free in Canada, dammit!) Where do you find someone to make a cover?

All that stuff is discussed all over the place, with the exception of the ISBN price. (There's only one place to buy ISBNs in the US, and you are paying heaps of money for literally a number in their database. I feel like this is an anti-trust lawsuit that is long overdue. Why, yes, I do come up with ridiculous grudges, why do you ask?)

But what nobody really talks about is how much little stupid stuff there is. Things like
  • To upload a book to Barnes & Noble, you can't use the Chrome browser. It doesn't tell you that, but it will silently fail on the upload step and you'll be left wondering why the button to move to the next page is never activated. (It works just fine in Firefox.)

  • Books2Read produces a handy universal link -- you can just advertise with one link, and Amazon readers will be redirected to the book at Amazon, Kobo readers will go to the correct Kobo page, etc. It's handy, and it's very easy to use. You just tell it to scan for the links, and it will go out and find the links for the book at all the different distributors. But for some reason, it's not getting the Amazon link, even though that's the first place the novella went live. Since 90% of my sales come from Amazon, I can't really use the universal link until that works.
And then there's this little glitch:

Screenshot of Amazon page for Death Walks a Dog, with a "Follow the Authors" section below having two different buttons, both for "Tess Baytree"
These co-authors are often mistaken for each other.

In the grand scheme of things, this is minor and sort of funny, but I did spend some time clicking around, trying to figure out why it thinks there are two of me. I'm guessing this will magically fix itself sometime soon, but if not, I'll have to send mail to support and try to explain that I am only one person.

It's the little things...

Gratuitous Dog Picture

I'm enjoying finding pictures of my dogs in nice weather. We'll get there again!

Two dogs on a tree-shaded trail

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Stollen Day

I spent the day uploading the formatted cozy novella to the six distributors that I go through, which is a tedious process, but just has to be done. They all say it will be live within 72 hours, but it's Christmas Eve, so I have my doubts. (It's already live on Smashwords, but I've never actually sold anything through Smashwords, so I'm not sure that matters.)

I considered making myself a whisky sour earlier in the day, since I have a bunch of lemons and some whisky, but drinking and publishing seemed like a bad combination.

The other thing I've been doing this afternoon is baking stollen. I used the candied orange & lemon chunks leftover from the cranberry muffins, plus the traditional (ie, store-bought)  candied peel. It still needs to have melted butter brushed on the top and then powdered sugar sprinkled over it.

Stollen loaf, with bits of candied fruit peel visible
After I took this, I compared it to the picture my mom sent me of hers, and I decided mine needed to go back in the oven for a while. Fingers crossed this all turns out.

I did cut the recipe in half -- one loaf ought to last me for a while.

Gratuitous Dog Picture

This is from a couple of years ago, near Putah Creek. Happy dogs!

Two dogs on the banks above a river
Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Bad Blurbitude

I'm not even kidding when I say it's easier to write a 22,000 word novella than it is to write a 300 word marketing blurb. And yet... it has to be done. Worse, it has to be done well. Sure, your close friends and family might feel obligated to buy your book without it, but unless your family involves a whole lot of sister-wives, and children by the dozen, you need people who don't know you to be intrigued enough by the blurb to check out the book.

So here we are. I have a novella. If I don't run into weird problems, it will take me about fifteen minutes to do the final formatting in Vellum, and then I can load it on all the distributors' platforms. But when I do that, I have to include the blurb.

The format I'm aiming for is pretty simple, in three paragraphs:

  1. Introduce the characters

  2. Then everything is disrupted by the murder

  3. Something to make people want to find out what happens next

The first draft was business-like. It correctly telegraphed that the novella is a murder mystery, but the blurb had all the warmth and humor of the peas that have been in the back of my freezer for five years. Considering that the strength of the novella is the relationship of the main characters, this was not going to work.

The second draft was slightly better. The characters were introduced and they sounded (maybe? hopefully?) likable. Then I tried to keep the breezy tone going in the second paragraph, and made myself sound like a complete sociopath. "Character B is murdered. And ha ha ha, the dog might have eaten the evidence!"

Are you starting to see the difficulty here? This is why I'm writing a blog entry instead of working on the blurb.

Obligatory Pet Picture

Another blast from the past. This was from last year. Such pretty flowers. And lovely dogs.

Two dogs in front of a large bus with yellow and pink flowers
Remember when we had daylight?

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Mind Your Fingers

That noise you heard today was my cry of anguish when my boss told me he had gotten a retractable leash for his Golden Retriever puppy. After I told him the three most likely things to happen (puppy dashing into the road, scarring of legs of nearby humans, or amputated fingers), I told him he could do whatever he liked, but my recommendation was to throw that leash out.

I mean... If people call me for advice, I'm not going to hold back. I also said if any of the above happened, I would be sure to say "I told you so" at least once.

(I'm also possibly a little jealous that he got a Golden Retriever puppy, even though I really don't have the time or energy for a puppy.)

Speaking of dogs

Yesterday I showed the good (better?) pictures of the dogs in their hats. But really, most of the pictures look more like this:

One large dog lying on a dog bed, and a blur that is all that can be seen of the little fluffy dog in the foreground
Little dogs -- they vibrate at a frequency too high for regular cameras

Monday, December 21, 2020

Holiday Decorations

 I'm not big on decorating for the holidays. The cats would destroy a tree if I had one, and the big dog would probably decide it was there for him to pee on. But mostly I'm just too lazy and I don't care enough about the actual holidays to celebrate them.


Once a year I take out the elf hat and try to get the dogs to wear it. (I've also tried to get the cats to do something with it, but I've never managed anything other than a disgruntled cat, and that's hard to distinguish from their regular pose.)

The Little Dog

Ginger didn't really care about it all that much. She was much more focussed on the treat in my hand.

Small tan dog with a holiday elf hat
The hat stayed on a good five seconds.

The Big Dog

Georgie was not a huge fan, but he put up with it a little longer this year. Part of the problem is that his head doesn't really fit inside the hat and it slides around.

Alaskan Husky with elf hat
Are we done yet?

Most of the trauma was from the little dog rushing over to comfort him.

Alaskan Husky with elf hat, and little fluffy dog running forward to lick his face
Here she comes!

Alaskan Husky in elf hat getting his face licked by a little tan fluffy dog
"It's okay, I'm here!" "Ugh."

Anyhow, I thought it went well this year. I mean, I'm still a terrible photographer, but my dogs are pretty darn cute.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Is it Bigfoot, or Gin and Tonic?

It's just like Christmas here today because I went grocery shopping for the first time in... four weeks? It's something like that. Before Thanksgiving, anyhow.

I have tortillas! (I know that I should be able to make my own, but they just never come out right.) So dinner tonight was quesadillas, and they were quite good.

I also finished the read-aloud editing pass of the cozy novella, so it is ready to go for a final proofreading. I added about one hundred more commas, inserted the occasional missed word, and fixed the last name of one of the main characters. Apparently my subconscious was just not happy with how I named this guy. Names are always a pain.

Other than that, not a lot happened here today. In some ways Holidailies is its own special version of hell this year, because every day I have to stop and realize that I haven't done anything new. But I think that's kind of true every year.

The quality of this picture is not my fault!

I technically have four cats: two geezers that I raised as bottle babies, and two semi-feral youngsters whom I can't get near. However, I've found that when I'm busy leashing the dogs for their evening walk, the semi-ferals will stay on the cat tree in the living room and not run off. My campaign to win them over will only start in earnest once the geezers are gone and I don't have to worry about the old guys getting into the wrong food, but still, I have proof that these cats are in the house!

Grainy photo of two cats on a cat tree
Gin (tortie on top) and Tonic (orange boy below)

Saturday, December 19, 2020


 I was having persistent problems with shin splints earlier this year, so I stopped running for a while. But today I remembered that I still needed to pick up the refills on the geezer cats' steroids, so I laced up my shoes, put the running harness on the dog, and off we went.

It's only about a mile and a half to the veterinary hospital, but... yeah, it's the first time I've gone running in at least six months, so I had the app do notifications for 30 seconds of walking followed by 90 seconds of jogging. And by jogging, I mean slow jogging -- partially because I'm not in shape, but also because there was a lot of hopping up curbs, and really uneven sidewalks.

We were almost there when the big dog got excited about some other dogs barking ahead of us, and he moved in front of me, and I tripped over him, and then I was flat on the asphalt. My knees and palms were a little shredded, but nothing was bleeding too badly. The big dog didn't even look repentant. Jerk.

Anyhow, I'm fine, but it's been a couple of hours and now I remember how everything seems great until you stiffen up later. So maybe I'll just go take a nap.

And now, a picture of the good dog

Facebook tells me this was taken ten years ago, which was back when I still walked the dogs when it rained. Now I just tell them it's raining and we all stay home quite happily. (This picture has Ginger, still known as the little dog, plus Molly (RIP), the dumbest dog I've ever met, though she was a wonderful pet.)

Two wet dogs, one large and black & white, and the other little & fluffy & tan.
Two dogs waiting to get inside before they shake all the water off

Friday, December 18, 2020

For Whom The Prompt Trolls

Not having done anything worth talking about today, I went to the Holidailies prompt generator. It gave me this:

What new things did you do / see / experience this year?

You know... ideally the prompt is there to help you find something to talk about. 

So clearly the prompt was a wash. 

Instead, I'll just say that I was working on the read-aloud editing pass on the cozy novella last night, and I found a spot where a main character's name had briefly changed. How many times have I read through that chapter and not noticed that? Ten? Fifteen?

It's no wonder there are typos in every book.

Gratuitous Bird Picture

I don't take many pictures of Mackie because she's hard to get to stand still. But here she is!

Profile of a small bird with orange feathers on her head and green feathers on her body
Mackie is a gold-capped conure. I think she's 24 years old.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Cross Talk

 The best thing about independent publishing and having a job that pays the bills is that I can see a set of pre-made book covers on Etsy and think "Those would work great for that cozy mystery novella I wrote a couple of years ago", and nobody is around to stop me before I put in my credit card information.

(In case the term is unfamiliar, pre-made book covers are just what they sound like -- book covers that are all ready to go after the title and author name are added. They tend to be a lot less expensive than a custom cover. Some people buy them and then write a book based on the cover. That would have seemed unbelievable to me before I started trying to figure out a cover for my next science fiction book. Now I'm thinking that it's a genius idea.)

Here are the problems challenges with me buying those cozy covers:

  • They came as a set of three. I hadn't really intended to make a series. (On the other hand, I really enjoyed writing that novella, so now I'm going to write two more. Problem solved.)

  • I've published exactly one book, and it's urban fantasy. There's pretty good overlap between readers of science fiction and fantasy, but mysteries without a fantastical element are a different kettle of fish. The obvious solution is to publish it under a different pen name, though I'm not going to hide the link between the two at all. (Problem solved, but a new one created.)

  • A new pen name requires a new mailing list. I may be able to get away with one website, at least as long as it's not super popular. But basically I just doubled the amount of some of the administrative stuff that I need to do. (Ugh.)
But all this doesn't matter because I've already bought the covers and I love them. I believe I mentioned that it's good I have a day job, right?

Gratuitous Big Dog Picture

The big dog questions my decision-making skills at times...
Alaskan Husky head in profile
"Perhaps I ought to take charge of the credit cards at night?"

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Technical Debt

 At work I spent most of the day deleting old tables from my Oracle database. The other name for that is maintenance, or just paying down some technical debt.

One of the things I learned about my boss after working with him for a couple of years (yeah, I'm a bit slow sometimes) is that I should never ask him if he wants to keep an old version of something. If he had his way, our website would have every version of every calculation we've ever done on it.

And he would only ever look at the most recent one.

In with the new, out with the old

The problem with his approach is that if you ever have to change one thing, now there are fifteen things that might be changed along with it. Are any of them still in use? I mean, something is referencing them. But is it important enough to spend two weeks trying to find another source for the data, or am I going to spend all of that time and then realize that it's all for something that hasn't been looked at in two years?

So, yeah. Now I don't give him a choice. I try to clear away old stuff as I can, though that doesn't always happen.

Data hoarding

Today I deleted queries and tables like:

  • Data that is six years old. It might be useful one month back, but six years? Nope.
  • A project that I put together five years ago. We used it for a couple of months, and then everyone (even me) forgot about it. I only have a vague memory of what the original purpose was.
  • Data for a technology that is no longer in existence in the USA. (It's probably not used anywhere in the world, but I don't know that for sure.)
  • Tables created by people who left the company three years ago.
  • Tables for projects that were originally in our group, but then moved to a different group (and thus a different database), and have since moved again.
Sure, you can argue that disk space is cheap, and maybe somebody will have some use for it someday, but I can 100% absolutely guarantee that if that were to happen, nobody would be able to find it anyhow.

There are thousands of tables and I maybe cleared out a hundred, but that's a hundred that someone else won't accidentally try to use, thinking that everything is current.

It's the biggest sense of accomplishment I've felt in a while!

Data Recycling

Keeping cat pictures around, especially pictures that I've modified, isn't a problem at all. It's an achievement!
Black cat with a purple flowered bandana on a purple background
Ripley in fancy dress

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Too Annoying

Back to independent publishing thoughts... (Seriously, Holidailies is in expert mode this year. I pretty much haven't left the house since the beginning of March, so blog topics are a little thin on the ground this year. I'm about as introverted as they come, and even I've noticed.)

I made the case a few days ago for an author newsletter. It's the most targeted advertising there is -- everyone on the list has actually asked for more information.

You know how there are times when every single person you talk to recommends the same resources? That's newsletters and this book:

Yellow book (Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque) lying on a laptop keyboard
Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque

(Side note: This is the first book I've bought in paper form in... a decade? Possibly longer. I don't mind reading books on my e-reader, and it's certainly a lot easier to buy and store them that way. Plus, for fifteen years I had Effing Scooter (RIP) who never saw a piece of paper he didn't want to pee on. But I do find reference material easier to jump around in when I have the physical book.)

Anyhow, I'm still near the beginning, where she's making her case for not just sending out a newsletter when you have a new book out. My first thoughts were 1) I would hate getting a newsletter all the time, and 2) I really have nothing to say. So of course, the next page addresses those exact points. Apparently I am not the only person who has these worries.

The mantra of the week is: Do not make business decisions based on your own consumer behavior.

I'm going to have a hard time with that one. I may have to repeat it a few times.

Gratuitous Dogs Picture

Two dogs in front of a field of dying sunflowers
Back when it was sunny and hot

Monday, December 14, 2020

A Story About Snow

 I went with the random prompt generator today, and after a few tries, it told me to write a story about snow. We all know how well I follow directions, so what follows is actually something that happened when it didn't snow.

My father was in the US Air Force when I was growing up, so we tended to move hundreds of miles every few years. By the time I came along, my parents had already been to New Mexico, and then Texas, but I was born in Northern California. After that we moved to Southern California, and then to Missouri, where my dad did his masters. I was six when we got to Rolla (which had 13,000 people at the time) and eight when we left. It was the first time I'd ever seen snow, but the winters we were there ended up being pretty mild and there was never more than a few inches on the ground at any time. (Two weeks after we left, they had almost two feet of snow. At the time I thought it was unfair, but I'm sure my parents -- with five kids, one under 4 months -- were quite happy we left when we did.) One of those Christmases, we got a sled. And then we got a saucer because it turns out that a saucer is much easier to slide around on.

Anyhow, we moved back to (snowless) Southern California, but the thing about moving in the military is that they pay for moving costs, so the movers showed up and packed all our stuff, and then dumped it in storage until we found a place to live in the next place. There's no real incentive to get rid of anything, and who knows, you might need it again in a couple years when you went to the next place. So we ended up with a sled (though somehow not the saucer -- I suspect it was plastic and broke somewhere along the way) in Southern California.

So there we were in Southern California, in the five bedroom ranch house (tiny, tiny bedrooms) with the perfect lawn. My parents' lawn was a thing of beauty. Some people have the smell of baking spices bring them back to their childhood. I have flashbacks when I smell pesticides in the hardware store. The grass was a uniform 2" tall, at least until my brother Jeff got old enough to be expected to cut it.  (He saved time on the corners by banking the lawn mower.) There were no invasive insects or animals in that grass because there was nothing alive in that grass. But it looked great from a distance.

Then one year... it hailed. It hailed so much that the ice balls stayed on the ground. Not only did it stay, but there was over an inch on the lawn. All of us kids were ecstatic, and also bored since this was pre-internet days, so we dug out the sled. Sliding along the hail sort of worked if you held the sled to your chest and ran forward and jumped. You could slide four or five feet until it sank through the ice and ground to a halt.

Anyhow, we were out there for a while sliding and grinding into the ground, and then the ice finally finished melting, at which point all you could see was dozens of parallel slices running through the now much-less-perfect grass, exposing the mud below.

I don't remember any fall-out from that, so I'm guessing it had partially repaired itself before my dad saw the lawn in the daylight again.

So there you go. That's my story of snow, or the lack thereof.

That Just-Got-Out-Of-Bed Hair

Fluffy little dog with hair going every which way
I walked into the room and woke the little dog, and her hair was going everywhere.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Unhappy Dogs

 Today it is raining (which is my fault, according to the dogs) and we did not have our regular popcorn drop (which is also my fault, according to the dogs). The dogs are just having a bad day. The lack of popcorn is my fault, of course, but the Roomba was running at 3:30PM because I forgot to run it earlier, and I didn't want the Roomba to try to vacuum up the popcorn while the dogs were eating it. Eh. They'll get over it.

I spent most of the day writing one of two missing scenes for the novella, and making candied lemon & orange. I'm planning on using it in the stollen this year instead of the stuff you buy in the store. I may have to adjust the recipe a bit because mine isn't quite as dry. As with everything I bake, it will be an adventure.

Candied lemon and orange pieces, spread out on baking paper, with a bowl of lemons, oranges, pomegranates, and ginger behind the baking sheet
I also added a few chunks of ginger to wake it up a bit. It's quite good.

No popcorn?

An Alaskan Husky, clearly waiting for popcorn
Imagine this face, except everywhere I turned for an hour. That was today.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Popcorn Drop!

New York City may have an annual ball drop at midnight on New Year's Eve, but that's boring. Here at Chez Nebulopathy, we have the 3:30 PM daily popcorn drop!

I've mentioned my terrible photography skills before -- no surprise that those skills failed the challenge here. I didn't manage to actually get the dogs in most of the video. Still, it's kind of funny.

 [Video: popcorn raining down onto two dogs]

My favorite is the audio, which makes each kernel of corn sound like a boulder. My other favorite is watching it bounce off the little dog's head.

Maybe it's the fact that I haven't left the house in nine months, but this sort of thing amuses me.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Coping Strategies

 It's a little late for Thanksgiving, I guess, though I have finally finished the leftovers. (Note to self: if you live alone, and you have to get out the gigantic bowl you've never used before, it might be a good time to take a look at how many servings a recipe makes and possibly cut it down a bit.) I do still have most of the bottle of Jack Daniels that I bought for the tofu roast -- it only needed two tablespoons and it turns out that whiskey is a taste I haven't yet acquired. But give it a few more months and maybe I'll change my mind.

Anyhow, here is a smattering of things that have helped me get through this year. And, to be honest, the last four years. Fingers crossed we've hit the low point and everything improves from this point onward.

  • The Murderbot series by Martha Wells. Just the right amount of snark and sincerity and trying to cope while doing your job the best way you can. I have the audiobooks (read by Kevin R. Free) and I've listened to them so many times that if they had been on physical media, I would have had to buy a new copy.

  • Non-work Discord and Slack -- all of my writing groups have Discord or Slack channels. It's great because I can chat with my friends when they're available.

  • This Tumblr blog:
    Run by a young woman (I can say that now that I've tipped past 50) in rural France who has a lovely dog and a naughty llama. This is one of those soothing blogs that I can read right before I go to bed and not be worried about getting too angry to sleep.

  • NaNoWriMo -- They redid their website a couple of years ago and I can't figure it out, but the National Novel Writing Month organization has led to me finding a great group of people, both in my area and farther away.
It's an incomplete list, but it's a start. Feel free to add your items in the comments!

Goofy Legs Returns!

Alaskan Husky lying on a bed with his legs tucked up oddly
How can that possibly be comfortable?

The little dog looks angry about the paparazzi

Thursday, December 10, 2020


 So I started listening to this podcast yesterday which is an interview with author & book coach Ella Barnard. I'm still only about halfway through the show, but there's a lot of good information about one of the paths to launch a book series.

As a book coach, she has her clients schedule a BookFunnel promo before they've written the novella. (This is a brilliant idea, especially if you are a procrastinator, but I can't even imagine doing so. Or rather, I may try this as a challenge at some point, but it's going to be a time when I'm on vacation from my day job.)

The Basics

The idea, which seems to be the more or less accepted wisdom for indie authors, is to use the first book in the series as a freebie to encourage people to sign up for your newsletter. Then you have a newsletter of people who like to read the sort of thing you're writing, and you can send out notifications when something new is available. With any luck, a lot of those people will spend money on the next book.

I talked about Amazon ads a few days ago, and how you need to have about one person in ten who clicks on the ad actually buy the book (depending on the ad and book prices) to break even, but a newsletter is even better than that. Not only is it free (or almost free if your mailing list is very large) to send out an announcement of a new book, but that announcement is targeted specifically at the people who are your audience. None of the hassle of guessing appropriate keywords or categories on Amazon -- you already have a list of the exact people who are interested.

The bigger draw, in my opinion, is that you're no longer chained to Amazon, or at least not as tightly. I've read too many horror stories about Amazon removing books from their store and then not answering support email. If 95% of your author income stream is coming from Amazon, that might be a huge, house-foreclosing problem. But a newsletter allows you to advertise other places a book is available and partially removes that single point of failure.

I do have a cozy mystery novella that I was hoping to publish by the end of the month, but I think I'll hold off on the BookFunnel madness for a bit. I can always do the promo when I have the second one in the series ready, and that way I don't have to worry about having something ready on a specific date.

Obligatory Terrible Photo

It probably would be good if I improved my photography skills at some point. After all, what's better to put in a fun newsletter than pet pictures? But it doesn't work as well when your dog looks as dubious about the book as mine does...

Alaskan Husky looking decidedly unexcited about the copy of Shift Happens resting on him
"If I sit still, will I get a treat soon?"

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Special Diet


I had one of those morning where I had meetings non-stop until nearly 1pm, and none of those meetings actually gave me any feeling of getting anything done. Then my boss asked if I had a couple of minutes for something, and I was ready to just put my foot down and say no more meetings, but it turned out he wanted to show me his new Golden Retriever puppy. That made everything better, but now I'm a little jealous.

I've never had a puppy. I adopted the big dog as a 4 year-old, and that's the youngest dog I've ever had. Realistically I know I don't have the time or energy for a puppy, but I still kind of want one. Oh well.

But not for me...

To remind me that I do not need any more animals, I had to contact the vet hospital four times today. 

  1. To set up a refill for the elderly cats' steroids (the cats, in their late teens, are in the lymphoma years), 
  2. To make sure I didn't have a boarding reservation for the dogs for the week after Christmas (which I thought I had set up last year since I always end up on the waiting list), This would have been the same call, but not with the new telephone system.
  3. To find out if they had any extra bags of the elderly cats' special diet (which is usually shipped to my house, but I got an email today saying they'd cancelled the shipment since there's a manufacturer backorder). This diet is the difference between Ripley having normal-ish poop and Ripley having poop that requires me to wipe down the walls. 
  4. To let them know I was in the parking lot to pick up the cat food.

In Case You Didn't Know

December of a normal year is already hard in the veterinary profession. The clients have extra stress which they pass along, the patient volume rises because people have time off and have time to deal with that problem that has been going on for two months, and people with elderly pets either realize how bad their pets actually are, or are trying to get the pets to hang on for just one more holiday and then euthanizing them. It's depressing, even in a normal year.

This is not a normal year. Between everyone getting new puppies to keep them company at home, and everything taking twice as long and needing twice as many staff in order to keep people safe, everyone in the hospital has been severely overworked for nine months. And now the holiday euthanasias are starting. Everyone in the field, from the receptionists to the veterinarians, are ready to quit.

All this is to say that you should be extra-kind to your veterinarian and their staff, especially now. Appointments are going to take a really long time, both the schedule and to get through. Plan for it. If your pet is being seen quickly, it means someone thinks they are dying, possibly in the next ten minutes. Plan your regular appointments far in advance if you can, and let them treat the actually-truly-dying-right-now pets on an emergency basis. If you have an actual emergency, you will appreciate this.

Special Diet

Ripley, of course, has his expensive, hard to get diet, but what he really wants to eat is plastic. So I'm pretty sure I know who chewed a hole in the door blanket. This is why we can't have nice things...
Plastic door blanket in the foreground, with a chewed hole, and the innocent little fluffy dog visible on the other side of the room
The little dog, seen through the hole that Ripley built

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The Ad Divide

How's that advertising going? 

A couple of months ago, I dipped my toe into the process of advertising my book on Amazon. It was an interesting experiment, and I let the ads keep running. Why wouldn't I? Hardly anyone ever clicks on them, so I don't get charged much. I've spent less than $2 in the last two months.

That would be fine, I guess, but I also haven't sold any copies through the Amazon ads either. Maybe. It seems like it should be an easy thing to figure out -- Amazon keeps track of who clicks and what they do afterward -- but it's not so simple. What happens if someone clicks on the ad and then downloads a sample, but doesn't get around to reading it for a few weeks? Even if they buy it at that point, I think that doesn't count as a sale attributed to the ads.

If your book is in the Kindle Unlimited program (where you are paid for the number of pages read by KU subscribers), it gets even murkier.

All this is to say that I think my Amazon ads are probably not doing anything, but maybe they are, and since they're costing me $1/month, it's probably worth letting them ride. But the graphs always make me laugh. Look! Someone clicked on my ad a few days ago!

Graphs showing impressions and clicks versus time
The brown bars are the number of times Amazon showed the ad, the blue spiky line shows the three times someone clicked on it. Thankfully I only pay for clicks.

Surely there must be a better way!

Assuming you have accurate information on how many sales are coming from the ads, the basic math is simple. Let's say you have a stand-alone book and that you make a profit of $3 on every ebook that is sold. If an ad costs $0.30 per click, you need to have at least one person out of every ten that clicks on the ad buy the book just in order to break even. And one in ten is actually pretty good.

If, on the other hand, you have a 5-book series, and one person in every ten buys the first book, but some of those buyers also buy the next books in the series, it's a lot easier for the ad to become profitable because you're not making just $3 -- you can easily be making twice that depending on how many people keep reading past the first book.

That previous paragraph is why pretty much every independently published author who is making money from their writing is writing one or more series. Uh, yes, I just published a standalone book. I wanted to work out some of the kinks in the process first. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking with it!

I'm writing on the treadmill so I can't take a picture of Sir Goofy Legs

Here, have this one instead:
Alaskan Husky standing on a paved path near Putah Creek
Such a noble beast when he's standing up

Hey, I warned everyone at the beginning of the month that this blog might have a lot of independent publishing info. Maybe tomorrow there will be something funny. (Funnier than my pathetic ad performance, I mean.)

Monday, December 7, 2020

Strong Like Bear

 Lately I've been trying to get stronger. My day job involves typing, and my spare time also involves typing, so there's not much in my everyday life that builds any muscle.

I bought a treadmill a year ago, and given the state of the world, that turned out to be an excellent purchase. I'm even using it at the moment while I'm writing this. But I was starting to feel like my upper body was missing out, and planks are just too boring to do every day.

Anyhow, I was dithering about whether I should get a set of weights, but they're kind of expensive and I didn't know what to get. I finally broke down and got one of those systems with elastic bands that you use to generate resistance. 

I need the workout to be over before I notice it's happening

On the positive side, the recommended workouts are short (15 minutes or less), so I've been doing them for a couple of months now. While I still can't do a real push-up, I'm getting a lot closer, and the 40-pound bag of cat sand was a lot easier to carry back the hall.

On the negative side, the documentation for the product is pretty bad. They have static pictures, but mostly they want you to go to their website where (surprise!) they try to upsell you on a monthly subscription with live classes. I don't need that. I just need to have someone explain what I'm supposed to be doing, and what I should avoid so I don't hurt myself.

Honestly, the best part about the whole thing is the trash talk I do with one of my friends who actually does work out and knows what she's doing. I haven't seen her pretty much all year, but we keep making jokes about working out just to catch up / stay ahead of the other person, and that's more than a little motivating.

Today I moved up to the "moderate" section, instead of the beginner section, so H--, I'm coming for you!

Another picture from the arboretum

Two dogs standing on pavement near vegetation
Acres of plants, and I have asphalt in 50% of the frame.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Rest Day

 I had a bunch of editing and writing to do today, but I did almost none of it. Instead, I spent most of the morning watching season 10 of Vera.

My Autograph?

Then I went to my book signing. That makes it sound grand, but really it was just me signing books in front of a friend's house (masked, from 6' away). They were all copies that she'd purchased for holiday presents. I don't know how Real Authors™make small talk with people while they're signing books. Maybe I'll learn that when I level up. Also, the standard Sharpie has a little too much bleed-through.

The Great Outdoors

After that I took the dogs for a walk in the UC Davis arboretum. We didn't go far -- the little dog has reached the stage where she can't keep up with a regular walking pace for long -- but there was much sniffing to be done. I also attempted to take pictures of the dogs in a setting other than my office. I'm a terrible photographer, and the dogs' inability to stay doesn't help things. But at least they aren't pictures of the big dog lying down with his legs all wonky.

Two dogs standing above the banks of Putah Creek, with a lot of vegetation around them
Look, I almost got both dogs in the picture!

We may have to go back again soon so I can try again.

Other Updates

  • The big dog still hasn't figured out how to make it through the door blanket to come into the office, so I have to hold it open for him.
  • We managed to walk past three (3) dogs at one time during out walk today, and both my dogs were reasonably well behaved, so I'm counting that as a win.
  • I still have the theme music for Vera stuck in my head. Everything has a foreboding feeling to it.

Saturday, December 5, 2020


 The room I use for my office gets 90% of the heat from the furnace. If I close the door, I can easily have it be 85°F in here while the rest of the house is under 60°F. Thank you terrible housing design and construction from the 50s!

But I can't actually close the door because I have cats. The dogs are also an issue, but the cats just make it impossible. And Guido is personally offended by a door that isn't all the way open -- if I leave just enough room for the cats to walk through, the big dog can't figure out how to get out, and Guido will be sure to push it open all the way. I needed a door that opens from the bottom, not the side.

I'm not the genius that I sometimes think I am

So I was thinking about how to attach some sort of blanket to the door frame so the heat stays in and the critters can go under it. Then I remembered that every time I think I'm being terribly clever, it turns out that most of the world is already ahead of me, and I googled "door blanket".

Interior door frame with split curtain covering the gap
Technically known as a magnetic insulated curtain, but it's a door blanket

The darker stripe in the middle is actually an opening that is held together with magnets. Once you walk through it, it reseals on its own. The whole thing is attached to the door frame with velcro, so I can take it down if I need to. I left an eight inch gap at the bottom on one side so the cats and the little dog can go through, and also to get some fresh air. The big dog has figured out how to get through in one direction. I'm sure he'll figure out the other direction one of these days...

Anyhow, it's nice and toasty in here, and I had to turn down the heat in the house a bit because I was getting too hot. That means I may need to move the birds to a different room since they are in the coldest part of the house, but it's not like it really gets that cold here.

Look, this dog can figure out what to do with her legs:

Fluffy little dog lying on a dog bed
So much fluff it's hard to find her legs

Friday, December 4, 2020

Pros and Cons of Independent Publishing

Here was the traditional publishing path for many years:

  1. query multiple agents until you sign with one, 
  2. then have that agent sell your book to a publisher, 
  3. then have that publisher line up an editor, and 
  4. hope the book gets published before the publisher goes out of business, then
  5. return to step one or two with the next book, depending on whether you and your agent are still together

 I realize that for a lot of people, the decision whether to go the traditional publishing route is determined by trying and failing to get an agent interested. I'm not going to lie -- that played a part for me as well. Querying agents is a skill that has little to do with writing a book, and I finally decided I just didn't want to bother learning that skill.

But that's not the only reason to choose to independently publish. Look, I made a list!

Not a vanity press

Before we get to the pros and cons of independent publishing, let me just point out that I'm talking about independent publishing, not hiring a vanity press. The line between the two can get a little blurry, but if you're handing your manuscript to someone and they magically publish it and charge you thousands of dollars, you're being conned out of a lot of money unless you just want to have a bound copy of your manuscript to put in your bookshelf. (If that's your goal, I'm not judging you, but you're still wasting a lot of money!)

As I'm defining it, with independent publishing you are driving the bus. You may pay someone to do parts that you either aren't as good at, or don't have the time to do, but you're making the decisions and setting everything up. The goal is to pay other people for specific services, as needed, in order to publish the version of your book that has the best chance of being read by the right audience. 

Reasons to go the independent publishing route:

  1. You get to choose the name of your publishing house. Okay, this is a pretty weak reason, but this is how Speculative Turtle Press was born!

  2. You get to choose what to write. If, as a completely random example that certainly doesn't apply to me, you first publish an urban fantasy novel, and then just want to work on this cozy mystery novella that you kind of love but that probably needs to get published under another pen name so as not to completely confuse the brand... you can do it! Nobody can stop you! Ha ha! You have the power!

  3. You set your own schedule. Nora Roberts (traditionally published!) had to create other pen names because she was writing quickly and her publishers didn't want her competing with herself. With independent publishing, you can publish on any schedule that works for you.

    (Some readers might have issues with that, but this week has shown us that some readers just have issues. Lots of issues. If you hadn't heard, someone complained on Nora Roberts's own blog that a year was much too long to wait for a book and that NR needed to change her release schedule. And then this person proceeded to fansplain publishing to NR, a woman who has written more books than God. It's been a well-known fact for a very long time that the last person you want to have go after you is Nora Roberts because she is like an avalanche. The result in this case was not pretty. Expect a character named Debra to die a very horrible death in the next JD Robb book.)

  4. You get to pick your own title. In my case, I whine to my writing group that I still don't have a title, and then listen to them make bad puns and dad jokes for ten minutes until someone comes up with the perfect thing.

  5. You get to pick your own cover. Traditionally published authors don't get to do this. If they absolutely hate the proposed cover, they might be able to have some input, but in general someone else chooses the cover and that's the end of it. With independent publishing you do it all -- find the artist, work with them to put it all together, and sign off on the final product. This is a bit of a double-edged sword because you can screw everything up by having the wrong cover, but at least it's something you were responsible for.

  6. You get to pick your own editors. This is important. You have to trust your editor in order to not resent the things they're telling you about your precious manuscript. Even if they are absolutely wrong about... okay, fine, they're right again.

  7. The whole process is much faster than traditional publishing. Getting a book out in under six months after finishing the first draft is not too difficult. That would be nearly impossible in traditional publishing where it would be multiple years.

Reasons you might want to think twice:

  1. All those choices you made above might come back to bite you. Oh well. Live and learn.

  2. You have to learn about the important publishing stuff. No, it's not that hard to figure out, but that sort of learning is not as fun as watching TV.

  3. You have to learn how to market your book. There's no getting around this, if you want the book to sell. The good news is that as long as you don't expect your first book to sell millions of copies in the first week (spoiler! it's not going to, no matter what you do!), you can figure this part out as you go along.

  4. You have to figure out how to deal with all the distributors. I'm not saying that it's impossible to have the same ISBN for the same paperback at two different distributors, but yikes, it is difficult.

  5. You have to fund it all. It doesn't need to be too expensive, but you're paying editors and cover artists.  You may also be buying ISBNs and paying for formatting software. That money has to come from somewhere. Ideally it will eventually come from the previous book's profits, but there's no guarantee when or if that will happen.

  6. You have to make a bunch of decisions about things that you don't feel qualified to make decisions about. Holy crap, what do I know about cover art? (Answer: more than I used to!)

  7. You have to keep track of your finances for tax purposes and stuff. Uh, yeah, I need to get my act together on this.

Daily picture of the big dog with his legs all funny:

Alaskan Husky lying on a dog bed with his legs curled up at improbably angles.

This is still amusing to me.

Thursday, December 3, 2020


 When asked to describe myself in one word, I usually go with stubborn. And it's true. Stubbornness is baked into me. I get through challenges purely because I won't quit. (Cf. eight years of NaNoWriMo)

Another word that could also be used is oblivious. I often just... don't notice things. This is especially true if I'm concentrating on something else.

Who, me?

This afternoon, for example, I was working in my home office, and there was a bunch of really loud noises in front of the house. I will attempt to recreate my thought process below:

Is anyone still using this table? What are the dependencies? Oh, I think I can --


Weird, that sounded like a gun, or maybe a backfire, but it was too loud to be truck backfires and the rhythm was all wrong for that... But I think I can get rid of this table and that will be one less thing I have to worry about with the upgrade this weekend.

I had completely forgotten about what were clearly gunshots right in front of my house until about fifteen minutes later when I noticed red and blue lights out front. They had the street in front of my house blocked for an hour while they were looking for something (bullets? some other weapon related thing? I have no clue).

But I notice the important things...

I had (of course!) gone back to work, and the police were still there when I got up to get a Diet Coke from the stash in the living room. Then I saw a big black dog trotting down the street, with nobody near him. The cops were ignoring the dog while they searched the gutters, so of course I went outside to grab the dog, because I always go outside to try to grab the loose dogs that run by my house so they don't get run over. Only after I was on my front lawn did I realize that it was a police dog on a long lead searching for evidence. Oops.

So, anyhow, I'm sure I'll be the first to go when the zombie hordes ravage the countryside, but that's just the way it goes!

In other news, look who was awake during picture time today!

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

NaNoWriMo WrapUp

 As mentioned a few posts ago, November was National Novel Writing Month, and this was my eighth year participating. (At least, I think it's year eight. The website says eight, but literally every other piece of information they copied over from the old websites when they rewrote and consolidated is wrong, so I may be foolish to trust this fact. But it's got to be close.)

We'll Have a Plague Old Time!

Last year a death in the family meant I was scrambling to catch up at the end. This year I finished a day early. It was a little odd, not having any in-person write-ins. I miss hanging out with my local group at crepe restaurant in Davis, or the coffee shop here in Woodland. There are usually around 5-10 people that show up fairly consistently during November, and some of them I don't see during the other eleven months of the year. Still, we got together for virtual write-ins, and hopefully I'll see them all next year.

Let's Talk About Stats, Baby

To make it to 50,000 during the month, it's an average of 1,667 words per day. I know some people who can dash off 1,000 words or more during a 20 minute sprint. They can put in a couple of hours on the weekend and stay on top of things.

Not me. I'm a plodder. If I'm not distracted, I can hit 500-700 words per hour fairly consistently, but that's about it. So the only thing I can really do is put in the time. And that means every day. Thus, it's probably not a big surprise that my daily graph looks like this:

Graph showing word count vs days in November, with the recommended points going linearly from zero to 50,000; the personal progress line is just slightly higher than the recommended line, and nearly as straight.

The light blue line is the 1,667 per day suggestion; the dark blue line is my word count. Sometimes boring is just fine.

The book (second in what I've been calling the "sheep heist space opera" series, though this book has no heist, few sheep, and takes place on a planet) is not done. I think it will end up somewhere around 70-80k words, though the barf draft may end at 60k since there are a few chunks that will need to be wedged in later. Someday I may figure out a planning process that works for me. This is not that day.

But this is a win for 2020. I'll take it.

Unrelated Dog Picture

Somebody needs to explain to me how he manages to sleep in these poses. I just don't understand how this can be comfortable. But he's snoring right now, so I guess it is.