Wednesday, April 29, 2020

D2D Got a Clue, and Maybe Barnes & Noble Did, Too

Last Friday, I talked about D2D's announcement to their indie author clients that Barnes & Noble was only going to pay 30% of the receipts due to them. Meanwhile, indie distributor Smashwords announced Barnes & Noble was paying them in full for their clients' receipts.

(Full disclosure: I use Smashwords for distribution to some smaller retailers, but I upload all books directly to Barnes & Noble.)

Needless to say, Barnes & Noble ("B&N") was major topic of conversation among the various indie forums over the weekend. Maybe B&N realized who's really making money for them during the pandemic. I mean, it's not like the brick & mortar bookstores are considered essential services by the various governors and mayors desperately attempting stop the spread of COVID-19.

In a turnaround over the weekend, both B&N and D2D said B&N was paying D2D in full. The other side of the rumor mill said when B&N ran the numbers, they thought D2D was a larger publisher. And it's the big publisher who were only getting 30% of receipts due.

Oh, boy!

That's not necessarily a good thing either. Especially for writers who are fully trad published.

On a side bar, a note appeared on my B&N dashboard that I would be paid in full this week. We'll see what happens by Friday. It's low double digits since I'm rebuilding my own publishing company. However, I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Coronavirus Pandemic Day 47 - Stress and Sleep Disruption

I've had problems with my sleep patterns since I hit puberty. With the onset of menopause symptoms, I haven't had insomnia for the last few years.

Until now.

Everyone's feeling the stress of the pandemic and the stay-at-home orders. It doesn't help when people's loved one's are dying, and we can't be with them. The known death toll in the U.S. jumped from 40K a week ago to 56K when I woke up this afternoon.

As I said is a previous post, I'm sure I'm picking up on my neighbors' anxiety. I tried CBD and melatonin to try to get back in a regular sleep cycle to no effect. So over the weekend, I tried what I call a hard reset. I'd stay up an extra four hours starting Thursday night. Back when I worked in corporate America, I'd have to take a vacation day to do this.

It was working until yesterday. I should have gone to bed about six p.m. after waking up at midnight. But I'd gotten caught up in The Martian. Then DH wanted to get a shower. So I watched a recorded episode of Scorpion. I finally went to bed about ten p.m.

And woke up at two p.m. this afternoon.

Well, shit.

I'm not trying this again for a while. It's hard on my blood sugars. I need to go back with the flow and not worry about my sleep pattern so much. Or try not to worry.

It would just be nice to have something feel normal in this crazy ass world.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Friday, April 24, 2020

Is This the End of Barnes & Noble?

A lot of U.S. businesses were struggling before the COVID-19 pandemic hit our shores. Bookstore chain Barnes & Noble ("B&N") was one of them.

They thought they'd found their white knight when Elliot Management Corporation, the same hedge fund that purchased Waterstone's in the U.K., bought them last August.

Flash-forward to seven months later. B&N has closed over 400 of their stores thanks to the outbreak of COVID-19. States and cities with stay-at-home orders rarely list bookstores as essential operations. So a company already teetering on the edge has no lifeline.

They've still been selling paper books and e-books to the public for the last two months. But another issue has arisen. This week, B&N told Draft2Digital ("D2D"), an e-book distribution company, they would only pay 30% of the revenue owed to D2D's customers.

Excuse me?

I get that D2D is trying to make things right with their customers. D2D may have made their own position worse by taking out a loan to cover the other 70% of what B&N owes to D2D's clients/writers. Given the current economic situation, covering a third party's debt can put your own business in a precarious situation.

On the other side is Smashwords ("SW"), who has announced they are receiving the full amount owed to their customers.

Since I go direct with B&N, I have no idea if I'll receive the funds due to me. I guess I'll find out next week. On one hand, I can afford their lack of payment from a business perspective. On the other hand, do I need to start pulling my books off their site again?

I had to do this five years ago when B&N was having problems. I've been gradually restoring the Angry Sheep catalog to B&N. Instead of spending next week writing and editing to get Magick and Murder out on time, I'll have to spend part of that time dealing with this mess.

I wish I could say I was surprised by all this, but I'm not. The traditional publishing companies have been approaching the same cliff as B&N. It'll be interesting to see which companies survive the side effects of COVID-19.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Writing Through the Plague

I've been having a bit of trouble concentrating. Every other indie writer I've spoken with over the last month and a half is having similar problems.

All the little tricks we use to get us in our writing are a bit limited. Especially if you're like me. Both DH and I have been working from home together since 2012. Technically, he's bee doing it since 2004. Our issue is noise.

DH is on the phone. A lot. Even with the plague, he's on the phone reassuring his staff. He jokes that he should have gotten a degree in psychology instead of computer science.

When we lived in 2500-square-foot house in house, it wasn't hard for me to go to a room. Now, that we live in an apartment, well, let's just say DH's voice carries. So I would go to Tim Horton or Panera to get some writing in. But, since I can't do that now, here some tricks that have helped.

1) Use music as white noise.

The type of music depends on you. I had a pretty extensive collection before digital music came along, most of which I've converted. Classic, Top 40 Pop, rock, funk, dance, instrumental. Whatever gets you in the right mood.

2) Write after your significant other goes to bed.

I've done that a few times. The entire apartment is in bed by one a.m. Frankly, I've gotten more words in between one and two a.m. than any other time of the day. thanks to the mental and physical quiet.

3) Do writing sprints.

This feeds right into my competitive streak. You don't even have to sprint with someone else. Just try to beat your previous word total from the last streak. Figure out a time that produces the optimum amount of words. For me, that's an hour. It could be more or less for you.

Those are my ways of coping with the stay-at-home orders. Anybody else find something that works for them?

Monday, April 20, 2020

Coronavirus Pandemic Day 40 - Watching Your Country Go Insane in Real TIme

Joshua A Bickel, The Columbus Dispatch
The last week was bizarre. I watched videos of protesters in Lansing, Michigan, and Columbus, Ohio, march for the  alleged infringement of their constitutional rights. Someone did a meme showing a photo of protesters pressing against the glass door of the Ohio state house side-by-side with a poster from Simon Pegg's Shawn of the Dead zombies pressing against the glass door of the mall.

The result is striking and terrifying at the same time. I have no doubt a few of these people were asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19. How many of these protesters will need hospital care?

Even scarier were the protesters in Lansing who deliberately blocked the entrances to Sparrow Hospital. The clogged streets in Michigan's capital not only caused a delay in the shift change. In a video, you can see a doctor begging the protesters to make way for an incoming ambulance.

Other disturbing things about these protests were the need to carry guns, the signs promoting Trump and Pence with swastikas, and Confederate flags.

Exactly how is a gun going to stop a virus? All this is going on while the death toll in the U.S. ticked over 40,000 this week.

Then there's the idiot in Australia who tried to return the 13-year supply of toilet paper to his local supermarket after Ebay shut down his account for price gouging. The photo of the supermarket manager giving the guy a double-bird was delicious!

In the other side are the thousands of folks who dug out the sewing machines and extra fabric to make face masks for healthcare workers, friends and family. These aren't as effective as N95 masks, but they're better than nothing.

Tattoo artists and nail salons are donating their protective gear to healthcare workers since their places or business are currently shut down.

Others are donating what they can to food banks. Some folks are giving large tips to the delivery and service people.

I think I have more faith in these people doing their best to be kind and sharing in these difficult times. Those are the people who will get the human race past this.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

I Love the 90's

The album and song when everything changed.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Sometimes It Snows in April

It's the Friday after Easter. Yesterday, the sun was out. The grass was that brilliant green it is when it wakes up from its winter slumber. Trees were covered with a green mist as leaf buds start to open.

Today, we're expecting 3-5 inches of wet, heavy snow in the Toledo area. I took Bella to her vet check-up this morning. I though I'd be efficient and clean off my car before I loaded her into it. Nope, it was coming down that thick and fast. Thank goodness, it's been warm enough lately that the snow wasn't sticking to any of the roadways except bridges, and ODOT had treated those well with de-icer.

Enjoy your Friday wherever you may be. And like Prince once sang...

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Release Day from Hell

I fucked up. Dammit, I fucked up big time.

Fae and Felonies was supposed to be released today. Amazon requires that we upload the final version four days before the release date. In my rush to get the book uploaded, I grabbed the wrong damn file.

And once you hit the publish button, you are locked out until midnight (UTC) on the release day.


If you had a preorder or you are the one person from Australia who bought the book, check to make sure there are twenty-one (21) chapters. If not, you have an incomplete version.


Seriously, get your money back. I am so, SO sorry for my fuck-up.

If you really want the book, re-purchase it at the lower price. Yes, I changed the price to $2.99 to make up for my fuck-up.

Frankly, this is embarrassing as hell. And I swear I will do a better job in May.

Thank you for your patronage, and again, I apologize to those loyal readers who got the wrong version of Fae and Felonies.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Coronavirus Pandemic Day 33 - Running the Grocery Guantlet

This morning, DH had his checkup with our primary care physician. I dropped him off and made a quick trip to Kroger around the corner. It was my turn to brave the public since he'd been doing it for the last four weeks.

We'd run out of staples such as olive oil, butter, and flour since I've been cooking up a storm with the state-wide stay-at-home order. Thank Cthulu, the Starbucks kiosk was open, too! I also splurged on white cake with buttercream frosting. Kroger has the next best thing to homemade buttercream frosting!

Oh, and I sort of raided the leftover Easter candy for Reese's Eggs and got some cute colored pens, well, because...

Everybody was keeping their distance as best they could inside the store. One kid was moving back and forth between cleaning carts and the main doors. Everybody, staff and shoppers, looked tired as hell and sad. The enforced distancing is wearing on people's emotions. Humans as a whole are touchy-feely creatures. I'm lucky in that I have DH and Bella at home for contact.

Some folks aren't as lucky. There was an elderly lady shopping who looked like she was expecting to be stabbed at any moment. She was that jumpy even with her mask and gloves on. And I could tell by her selections she was alone at home. Part of me wanted to hug her and tell her everything was going to be okay.

But that's a lie. I know it's a lie. And she would have known it, too. We've got a long way to go to stop the spread of COVID-19.

It seems like every other day now we get word of a friend or family member of someone we know has died from this damn virus. It's only a matter of time before it's someone we actually know.

But as a long-time friend and a new friend told me this weekend, each of us needs to focus on self-care because we can't help anyone if we're not okay.

And if that means white cake with buttercream frosting and new colored pens to draw pictures with, then that's what I'll do.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Friday, April 10, 2020

Planning a Vacation

DH and I planned to take two weeks this fall to do some traveling. That got us talking about where we've been in the U.S. and where we haven't.

I'm 35 + the District of Columbia out of 50 states.

(I'm assuming a layover in the San Francisco airport counts. LOL)

Create Your Own Visited States Map

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Amazon Has the Right Priorities

The other day, a guy on Facebook was bitching up a storm because he'd paid for an Amazon Prime membership, and he wasn't getting his damn book in two days.


Talk about tone deaf. There's a fucking pandemic sweeping the planet, dude!

People need food, medicines, diapers, and soap. Amazon and a lot of other retailers that are still running are fulfilling necessity orders first.

And you know something? I'm okay with that. It took two weeks for my specialty color retaining shampoo and conditioner to get here. Those weren't an emergency, just a helpful tool to make my Midnight Amethyst color last longer.

It took a week for a drawing comics book to get here. Again, it's okay. It's a skill I'm working on in the age of corona. But it's definitely not an emergency.

An emergency is when you can't find formula anywhere for your infant. An emergency is when you can't feed peanut butter to your allergy-plagued toddler. An emergency is when your grandmother needs her insulin and grandpa his high blood pressure meds.

So, to all the folks working in warehouses, in shipping and delivering necessary items, in restocking shelves with food, THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Coronavirus Pandemic Day 26 - Killing With Kindness

Everyone's stressed. I get that. You've lost your job. Money's tight. Or you're trying to work full-time from home while homeschooling your kids. Everything's changing, and we feel lost.

And with stress is coming anger and despair. Because there's no end in sight.

First, take a deep breath. Let it out. Inhale, then exhale a few more times. Just concentrate on nothing but your breathing.

What can you manage right now?

For starters, you can manage your reaction to other people. It means if you're finding yourself getting angry, ask yourself what you're really upset about.

Can you walk away from the other person for a bit? Can you count to ten to give yourself a chance to rein in your temper?

Put yourself in the other person's shoes. Show them a little empathy. There's a lot of people putting their lives on the line to make sure you have what you need. Everyone from the ER staff to the kid from DoorDash.

Is one or more of your social media friends talking too much politics or very negative? It's okay to mute them for thirty days.

It's okay if you need a break from anyone, online or inside your house.

If you don't feel safe in your house, call for help. The folks at shelters understand.

It's okay if you need a hug. It may have to be a virtual hug for now, but the feeling is there. Or hug yourself.

As the Doctor says, "Always be kind. Never cruel."

Keep yourself safe. Shelter in a safe place. For most of us, the safest place is home.

Don't go out unless you absolutely have to. Like when you decided to adopt a toy dog seven months ago, and they have a teaspoon-sized bladder.

If you don't have an intubation tube shoved down your throat right now, thank the universe. Thousands of people would love to trade places with you.

Turn off the news to keep yourself sane.

Talk a walk and enjoy the spring air and sunshine.

Count your blessings.


Saturday, April 4, 2020

Friday, April 3, 2020

The Wee Hours of the Morning

Yesterday, I didn't wake up until four in the afternoon. My sleep schedule is a little off, but right, now it's not necessarily a bad thing.

I'm an empath. No, it's not like Deanna Troi on ST:TNG. Modern science is actual admitting we exist, but they call us "emotional sponges". And that's what we do--we soak up the emotions of people around us. Which can be bad or good depending on the situation.

In my case, the stronger the emotion the more powerful my reaction. Whenever a particular neighbor in Houston was trying quit smoking, I'd wake up with an intense craving for a cigarette. And I've never smoked in my life!

Right now, everyone's on edge about the damn virus, the stability of their jobs, money. So in addition to my own fears, I'm picking up everyone else's feeling in the damn apartment building because they are all stuck at home.

So how do I ease the static in the back of my brain? I wait until everyone else, including DH, goes to bed. There's a real peace that happens after one a.m. Everyone's asleep. Their conscious minds aren't emitting their emotions like quasars emitting massive amounts of radiation. My mind is alone with its thoughts for that portion of the night.

And I can step into my imaginary worlds and bring them to life.

There's something to be said about the peace of the witching hours, and I am at my most productive.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Camp NaNo Has Begun!

The nice folks that run NaNoWriMo, aka National Novel Writing Month, has two "camps" during the year. The first one starts today.

Camp NaNo doesn't have any specific rules. The rules are what you make of them. You can write the traditional 50K in a month. You can finish a project you've been dragging your feet on. You can edit your latest project.

In this new world of limited contact, it's a nice way to keep in touch with your writing friends by gathering online.