Category Archives: The Candy Store Generation

Will This One Be The One?

Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, was a good day. It was just the three of us this year, as our large, family gathering will be a Christmas, a change from our normal routine. I fixed a turkey dinner, but without all the side dishes. We ate our full and have plenty of leftovers. Yes it was a good day.

"Mom's Letter" was the first in the series. This is the cover my son did for it.
“Mom’s Letter” was the first in the series. This is the cover my son did for it.

But, we couldn’t find much on television that was of interest to us. So Lynda wanted to see the latest episode of The Curse of Oak Island. She couldn’t get it in Oklahoma City on Tuesday night. So I fired up the Roku, had to re-set a password (since it had been a while since we’d used it), and found the show. I had seen it, but it was good to watch it again.

We decided “why not watch some back episodes?” I intended to go to last season, which was season 4, and watch some of the later ones. Somehow, though, I went back to Season 1, so I decided to just start with the very first episode. It was almost as if I hadn’t seen it before, it was so long ago.

One thing that struck me was the similarity of the rhetoric. The searchers for treasure were saying the same thing in Season 1 as they are in Season 5. The narrator’s shtick hasn’t changed at all. It’s always one more search will get us there; we’re inches from the treasure; today may be the day; this new find gives us the motivation to keep on going. That much hasn’t changed, so far into the fifth season.

Published in May, 2011, I've sold a whopping 54 copies of this.
Published in May, 2011, I’ve sold a whopping 54 copies of this.

It suddenly occurred to me that that’s exactly how I am with my books: hoping this next one will be the breakthrough book, the book that gets widespread attention and lots of sales. My first publication was the short story “Mom’s Letter”. I had no expectations for it to sell. It was a story I wrote for a contest (that I didn’t win), and I self-published it because I didn’t have anything else quite ready, so I published it to see what the mechanics of self-publishing were like.


This was my first book to write, fourth publication. It remains my highest selling book.
This was my first book to write, fourth publication. It remains my highest selling book.

I was intending to publishing my first novel, Doctor Luke’s Assistant, but I didn’t feel like it was ready. So I pulled together my newspaper columns, expanded them, added fifteen new ones, and had Documenting America: Lessons From The United States’ Historical Documents. I didn’t have high hopes for this one either. It sold 30 or so copies in it’s first year.

It wasn’t until the next year, 2012, that I finally published Doctor Luke’s Assistant. It became, and still is, my highest selling book at 128 copies, adding seven to the total so far this year. Now, you’re going to note that 128 is NOT a lot of copies, and if that’s my highest selling book, how low are the others? Good observation. I had high hopes for my next book, The Candy Store Generation, being a political book in a political season. But it sold poorly: 15 copies its first year and a few each year since.

I was very surprised when this one didn't sell.
I was very surprised when this one didn’t sell.

Then came my baseball book, In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People. I thought it was good enough to sell, and would be popular. Alas, not. I sold a few more in 2016, when the Cubs won the pennant, but it still hasn’t sell.

My point is, with each publication (now 26), I’ve thought “this will be the one, the one to breakout.” But each one disappoints. I don’t do a lot of marketing, just Facebook posts. I did one Facebook ad that resulted in no sales. I’ve interviewed authors on this blog, who have sometimes reciprocated. Each of those has resulted in no sales. I did an hour long radio interview, which resulted in no sales. I haven’t done any paid ads yet. Maybe that’s what I need to do. But I’ve thought my publishing should pay for itself, and so far haven’t seen my way clear to buy an ad. Perhaps I’ll change that in 2018.

Even dropping the e-book price to $0.99 has resulted in no sales.
Even dropping the e-book price to $0.99 has resulted in no sales.

So I’m much like the people searching for treasure on Oak Island. Just keep going, sinking costs—in my case the cost of time—into the endeavor a little at a time, hoping for change, for lightning to strike. My recent publication, When Death Changes Life: The Danny Tompkins Stories, is a boxed set of six related short stories, reaching all the way back to “Mom’s Letter”. I set the price of the e-book at $2.99, and the print book at $6.00. I sold zero. I do have three pre-orders of the print book, which will happen next week once my copies arrive.

I have two works-in-progress. One is a prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant, which is more laborious than expected. The other is the sequel to The Gutter Chronicles. I actually have people at work asking for this, so maybe I should turn my attention to it. I could sell 30 copies without difficulty, and might sell 10 to 20 of the first one to people who are new at work.

But will either of these be a breakthrough book? I can hope, I suppose, because without hope there’s no reason to go on. Hope is starting to grow thin, however.

Book Review: The Greatest Generation

I'm glad I finally pulled this from my reading pile and read it. Time well spent
I’m glad I finally pulled this from my reading pile and read it. Time well spent

Back in 2012, when I was writing The Candy Store Generation, I went looking for books about generational identity. Of course I was familiar with Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation. As I did my study, I found that just about everyone had adopted Brokaw’s appellation to that bunch of Americans born between 1900 and 1924. Some extend it all the way to 1939 or so, but Brokaw is clearly talking about those who experienced the Great Depression and led the effort in World War 2, or who fought in it. Yes, many born after 1924 also fought in it, as teenagers. I wouldn’t argue against including them.

As I was studying, I picked up a used copy of TGC, read enough of it to be able to pull some information from it, then set it aside and went back to higher priority stuff on my reading pile. After finishing A Generation of Sociopaths, I decided the more opportune time had come. I found TGC in my reading pile, and went through it in a little more than two weeks.

It’s an excellent book, and its place in the history of America’s story won’t be enhanced or diminished because I review it. The reading is easy, and Brokaw does a good job of weaving short bios of men and women who served in the war into the war story itself. He doesn’t stop there. He tells us something of their lives before and after the war. In some cases  the post-war story was much longer than the description of the war service.

I do have a few criticisms, however. Almost everyone described in the book was an officer. A few began as enlisted men, then were promoted in the ranks. I would have liked to have learned something more about the experiences of the dogfaces in the battle line. Then, the field of journalism is over-represented among the stories. In the part about famous people who served in the war, such as politicians and CEOs, he pulls almost half of them from the ranks of famous journalists. I suppose that’s understandable, given that Brokaw is a journalist. He would of course have more contacts in his own field, and would have an easier time getting those stories, and a greater interest in them. Still, knowing more about a few policemen, construction workers, bus drivers, and factory workers would have been nice.

One the other hand, Brokaw does a nice job of covering issues of racial prejudice, in the country and the military, as well as the limited opportunities for women to serve. He does this in a non-critical way, yet makes it clear he wishes it had been otherwise, and is glad that progress has been made in both areas. I thought this part of the book was very, very well done.

Thinking again about the officers vs enlisted men, or the famous vs the obscure, I offer up my dad as an example. He started out the war as a dogfaced private. Shipped first to England then to North Africa, he wasn’t in the first wave. He was scheduled to be in the invasion of Italy, but was pulled off the LSI in Tunis at the last minute to go work the Stars and Stripes, setting type for them—his pre-war occupation. His service the rest of the war was for his fellow soldiers, getting the news to them, helping them to keep up morale.

A wartime portrait, probably 1944. HIs "Stars & Stripes" insignia shows.
A wartime portrait, probably 1944. HIs “Stars & Stripes” insignia shows.

Dad was closely associates with Bill Mauldin, the cartoonist. For a good amount of time they were in the same S&S office, I think in Italy, but for sure in southern France, and at the end of the war. Mauldin is famous for his Willie & Sam cartoons, of two common privates who found humor in war situations. It’s said that General Patton didn’t like those cartoons, for they showed soldiers who were not our best. Yet, the S&S brass must have realized the soldiers loved them, for the cartoons continued.

My dad played a part in this, as Mauldin often had Dad pose for him. Most likely another soldier was involved as well. I can’t look at a Willie & Sam cartoon and help but wonder, “Did Dad pose for that one? Is that a drawing of Dad?” Dad spoke of Bill often, yet I don’t believe they had contact after the war. After Dad died in 1997, I thought of trying to find Mauldin to let him know, but never did. He died in 2003, the same age as Dad.

I’ve rather gotten off the track here, haven’t I? This is supposed to be about TGC, not my dad. I thought of it because, in the last chapter, Brokaw touches on Mauldin’s work at S&S during the war. That made me think of Dad, and since I was already thinking Brokaw had somewhat shortchanged the enlisted man, made me further think it would have been nice to have had Dad’s story in that, or one of the other 8 million like him.

If you haven’t read TGC, I recommend you do so. It will give you a greater appreciation for those who came before us, and in some cases were our parents. I’m starting to reduce my library, and am being more selective about the books I keep. This one I’m keeping, however. Hopefully Lynda will want to read it. I don’t expect I’ll read it again, but you never know.

Are We Boomers Really Sociopaths?

I think Gibney's cover is horrible. But his book's selling better than mine, so what do I know?
I think Gibney’s cover is horrible. But his book’s selling better than mine, so what do I know?

I mentioned before that I’m currently reading A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America, by Bruce Gibney. I’m now more than halfway through it, maybe as much as 2/3rds. I probably won’t finish by this weekend; maybe next. When I do, I’ll post a full review here, as well as at Amazon and Goodreads.

As I said in another post, I took interest in this book because of the book I published back in 2012, The Candy Store Generation: How the Baby Boomers Are Screwing-Up America. Similar title, obviously a similar subject. I had to read it. Fortunately, his publicist gave me an advance reader copy, no charge. That’s great.

Mine is self-published, and the quality of my graphics, compared with Gibney's, demonstrates that.
Mine is self-published, and the quality of my graphics, compared with Gibney’s, demonstrates that.

I’m just about to the point where Gibney is going to give some solutions, I think some overall solutions. So far he’s been outlaying the problem as he sees it. As I did, he covers how the Boomers took over the leadership in the U.S.A. in the 1990s, though he talks more about their influence as a voting block before that, and how that influence caused their predecessors to make some bad decisions. He also has a different definition of Boomers than I did. He says it’s those born from 1940 to 1964, and only the white people. Most sociologists place the start of the Boomers as 1946. However, in my book, I did say that those born from 1940 to 1945, the “Elvis Wave” of the Silent Generation, had much in common with the Boomers, especially the Elvis Wave of the Boomers (born 1946-1950).

The main premise we each have is about the same: The Boomers are guilty of intergenerational theft by piling up the massive debt this country has. It was $16 trillion when I published my book. It’s $20 trillion now. While we have the same premise, we have different conclusions as to why the Boomers have performed so poorly in leadership. I say it’s because the Boomers relied too much on government to solve problems better solved by the individual. He says it’s because the Boomers relied too little on government. Same problem exhibited by the same symptoms, but a drastically different conclusion.

The one thing you can say we agree on, as another way of stating the premise: The Boomers did not provide a firm basis of government finance to support the services they had the government provide. I say it’s because they demanded too many services; he says it’s because they wouldn’t tax themselves enough to pay for the services. Perhaps it’s two sides of the same coin. Either way, the coin was stolen from the Boomers’ children’s retirement fund, and from their grandchildren’s college fund.

As I get further into the book, I may find that Gibney’s conclusions aren’t quite what they appear to be on my incomplete reading. We’ll see. One thing he did less than me was try to explain why the Boomers are the way they are. I took a whole chapter on that, based on what I lived through and how, looking back over years and decades, I can see how that caused us to have certain characteristics. He touches on that a little, but focuses almost exclusively on the results the Boomers have produced, rather than on what caused their “pathology”, as he would call it.

Hopefully, when I finish reading Gibney’s book, I’ll be able to say something more positive about it. At the moment, I think my book is better. I may be a little biased, however. Back to reading, writing, researching, and making a mess in The Dungeon.

Reading a Book Like One of Mine

I published "The Candy Store Generation" in July 2012. Thus, I'm more than four years ahead of Gibney.
I published “The Candy Store Generation” in July 2012. Thus, I’m more than four years ahead of Gibney.

A woman I worked with alerted me to a program coming up on National Public Radio, about a book named A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America. I immediately took notice, because of my book which, by its title, would seem to cover the same ground: The Candy Store Generation: How the Baby Boomers Are Screwing-Up America. My co-worked had read mine, liked it, and thought I should know what else was out there.

I looked into the book. It’s by a man named Bruce Cannon Gibney, who, it turns out, is not a Baby Boomer, but of the next generation, usually called Gen X, but sometimes called the Baby Busters. It’s current rating on Amazon is 3.1 stars (it was a little higher when I first looked at it).

I decided this was a book I should read. But, always looking for other authors to interview on this blog, I reached out to Gibney’s publicist and requested an e-mail interview. She responded back that he didn’t have time for that, but they would be glad to give me a book to review. Obviously, I accepted.

It arrived Thursday, and I started reading it that night. It has a long Forward and a long Introduction. Consequently, I’ve only read through chapter 4. I hope to do a chapter a night, or perhaps two when busyness allows. I’ll be back to report what I think. I will say this, however: Gibney’s graphics are far, far better than mine. That goes to show how a publisher can add value to a book.

Book Review: 110 People Who Are Screwing Up America

I had heard about this book by Bernard Goldberg for a long time. I see Goldberg from time to time on Fox News Channel, always on the program The O’Reilly Factor, and believe him to be a thoughtful individual, who doesn’t form opinions in a knee-jerk manner based on an overall ideology, but rather thinks them through on a case-by-case basis and makes the conclusion he feels right. I like this kind of intellectual honesty.

Yet, I wasn’t about to spend money on this kind of book. Yet, when I saw one in a thrift store for 50  cents, I decided to make the investment and buy it. It’s sat on my storage table at work, in a box with twenty other books, for at least two years. Finally, looking for something to read that I could read in short spurts, ten minutes on the noon hour, five minutes on break, I chose this one.

The bottom line: I’m glad I read it, won’t ever read it again, won’t put it in my library, and will probably throw it in the trash rather than donate it back to the thrift store. It’s not a bad book, but it’s simply not worth keeping. Of the 110 people in the list I had heard of 54, I think, but knew specifics on only 2/3 of those. A lot of them I agree with; some I didn’t know enough to either agree or disagree, and Goldberg’s opinions stand without my approval or disapproval.

So what’s wrong with the book? It’s so outdated. Written around 2005, published in 2006, it misses ten years of our nation’s change. It might have been more useful immediately after being written, but now not so much. If Goldberg were to write that book now, I imagine at least 30 percent of his entries would be different.

candy-store-ebook-finalI was interested in this book because I also wrote about this topic in my book The Candy Store Generation: How the Baby Boomers Are Screwing-Up America. Of course, I focused on a whole generation rather than try to pick out a few individuals. Still, the similarity between my book and Goldberg’s helped to heighten my interest. I hope, however, that I did a better job with mine to have meaning for a greater span of years.

Facebook Political Posts

candy-store-ebook-finalLast night I was involved in a political dispute on Facebook. A friend from high school, who I haven’t seen in almost 45 year but with whom I’ve reconnected on FB, posted a political cartoon. In the first frame was FDR with the caption “Social Security”. In the second frame was LBJ with the caption “Medicare/Medicaid”. In the third frame was President Obama with the caption “Health Care Reform”. In the fourth frame was a battered and bruised elephant under the name “Republicans” with the caption “Opposed Each”.

I know from prior posts that this man is on the opposite end of the political spectrum from me, so I should have let this go. But instead I posted the following.

How’s that Social Security working out for us? Soon will be bankrupt. “Soon” as in measured by generations. It won’t be long till, like Greece, we will run out of O.P.M.

To which he replied:

Working out fine for me thank you! Medicare has provided me with the ongoing care I require for my cancer treatments. Please- just refuse to take the money and benefits if you feel that way….just try and cool it with the hyperbole. Better yet: just stay off my page. I don’t watch FOX so your opinions are mostly odious to me.

I didn’t read his whole reply. I stopped after the first two sentences; more on that later. Two others then came on and said more or less the same thing about being very happy they were receiving these benefits and believing all these government programs are working just fine. To which I replied:

Maybe it’s time to take a longer view than just ourselves. Yeah, when I start collectng something when I retire I’ll thank my children for paying for my retirement and healthcare. Just as I hope my dad thanked me. But some day we will either run out of other people’s money or other people’s will, and it will all collapse. Look beyind what’s best for you.

This failure of baby boomers to take the long view is one of the things I discussed in my book The Candy Store Generation: How the Baby Boomers Are Screwing Up America. Well, this post brought this response:

As long as you paid into it, you have every right to collect

To which I replied:

Not really. The government used my money to provide a subsistence level retirement to my parents and grandparents. They put nothing away for my retirement. That’s why it’s called “Social” Security (as in socialist), not capitalist security.

By “they” I meant the government and its program, not my ancestors. A couple of people replied to that, including one who said:

…make up your mind… A capitalist believes in survival of the fittest… A very selfish way of living. (In that regard) they don’t really care about “the longer view”

To which I replied:

Not true. A retirement security program that involves a combination of support for prior generations with a personal account is the right way to go. You look at corporate America which fails to look beyond the next quarter and you have a company that will fail in 10 years. The smart capitalist takes the long view first, the short view second.

It was at that point that I went back and re-read the thread, and noticed that the person on whose timeline we were writing had asked me not to post there. Shame on me for not fully reading his post. So at this point I posted:

———, I missed your earlier comment. I will henceforth stay off your timeline. Say the word and I’ll delete my posts.

That’s the last post in the thread at this point. The host hasn’t come back and responded to my offer, or to any of the posts other than the first one.

Personally I don’t think my original post was hyperbole. We will most certainly run out of other people’s money at some point, as Greece is learning, and as other European countries are learning. I don’t see any hyperbole in that. Obviously my friend posted the cartoon, not for critical discussion, but for providing evidence of his own views. That’s fine. His timeline, his purposes. Now that I know, I won’t be posting to his timeline again.

I think instead I will go herd some cats, which should be a far easier task than what I originally set out to do.


My FB Ad Campaign

I can’t remember if I reported here, or only on my FB author’s page, that I received a $50 coupon from Facebook to use on an ad campaign. Prior to receiving that I had done a bunch of clicking on FB ad pages, going through the motions of placing an ad, but not really intending to. I just wanted to see how easy it would be. They [FB] of course knew about my clicks and thought “Ah ha! Someone who wanted to place an ad but stopped short. Let’s give him a coupon to run a small campaign, and we’ll have another advertiser.”

The coupon would expire in a couple of months, so even though I had nothing newly published worth advertising, I decided to go ahead and test the waters. I began the campaign on March 23 and set it to end on April 12. At any point I could change the ending day. Putting the ads together wasn’t actually difficult. It was all menu driven. Type in a title, some text, upload a photo, decide what the action is you want people to take, decide how the ads will be paid, click finished, and poof! Your ad is live. That sounds easy, but at many steps along the way I found I didn’t really understand what I was doing.

FB Ad Campaign SampleI decided to advertise my most recent novel, Operation Lotus Sunday, and an earlier novel, Doctor Luke’s Assistant. Then I decided to also include The Candy Store Generation in the campaign. The last few days I decided to add an ad for Documenting America. When I did the ad for OLS, I decided I wanted two photos in the ad. I uploaded the front cover, then uploaded the back cover picture. Unfortunately, I didn’t know FB interpreted that as two different ads and, through the course of the campaign, the back cover photo ad was used much more than the front cover one.

  • Here are the stats from the campaign, as reported by FB.
  • Reach 31,355 (times the ads were seen)
  • Website clicks 135
  • Frequency 1.21 (no. of times a person saw the ads)
  • Avg cost per website click $0.37

And, the statistics reported by me:

  • Books sold: 1

FB Ad Campaign ResultsYes, during the ad campaign I sold only one of those books via Amazon (the links included in the ad), an e-book copy of DLA. So $50 spent generated $4.99 in sales, and less than that in revenue. I’m glad I wasn’t spending my own money.

Much of this process was uncomfortable. I could decide to pay for the ads by the website click, by impression, or another way. It’s interesting that my money lasted exactly till the end of the campaign. I’m sure FB’s algorithms knew how much per day I had to spend, monitored the actions being taken, and showed the ad more or fewer times according to how much budget and time were left.

The look of and information in the ads was limited, which was good, I guess, as I couldn’t have done much to spiff them up even if I wanted to. I’m not there on my knowledge of computer graphics.

One of the decisions I had to make was whether I wanted the ads associated with my personal FB page or my author page. I decided my author page. This really skewed my stats for that page. It went from “interacting” with about twenty to forty people a week (not all unique) to several thousand. Of course, FB was saying someone seeing my ad was an interaction. So for two weeks I interacted with thousands of people. Now, more than a week after the campaign, I’m back to twenty to forty a week, and the pages says that’s down 99.9% from a week ago.

The bottom line from all of this: I’m glad I wasn’t spending my own money. I don’t see myself ever running a FB ad campaign again, at least not until something happens that shows me it does some good.

My First Ad Campaign

Not too long ago, I decided to go through the motions of placing an ad for my books on Facebook. I went through the clicking process, saw what was involved, learned a little, then closed out of it. FB, of course, tracked my clicks. A couple of weeks later I received an e-mail from FB, saying it looked like I had tried to place an ad, and giving me a $50.00 coupon for an ad campaign, with a deadline of April 16.

I let this sit there a few days, not really believing it, and not having time to go back and figure the creating an ad process all over again. Finally, on Sunday afternoon, I put writing tasks aside and decided to get on with using the coupon. I clicked on the link provided in the e-mail, and an appropriate page came up.

I decided to advertise Operation Lotus Sunday, it being my latest and probably my best novel. I also planned to use some of the coupon to advertise Doctor Luke’s Assistant and The Candy Store Generation. I did OLS first. A few clicks, with the budget set at $20.00, and I had my ad for OLS. Then I saw I could have multiple images for it. So I started adding images to the ad. I went up to five, but did something wrong with three of them, and so had only two. That was fine with me. I had the front cover and the photo of the Stone Forest from the back cover. So I clicked to place the ad, had to wait a few minutes while FB approved it, then went to see what I had done.

Then I realized I had actually created two ads! Oh no, I thought, what have I done? Moreover, what have I done to my budget, which was $20 out of the $50 coupon? I couldn’t really tell. Since I had to enter credit card information, even though I was using a coupon, I figured the worst that would happen was I might use up $40 on OLS instead of $20. Again, no problem. So I went ahead to create an ad for DLA, using the other $10. It was fairly easy. I entered links and words, and clicked to go to the next page, which would be the budget information. Except, it didn’t go to the next page; instead it brought up the page that said thank you for placing the ad, it would be reviewed by FB within so many minutes. After those minutes the ad showed up with a budget of $20.

I thought “Now what have I done?” I figured the worst that could happen was I would be billed $10 over and above the coupon. So I decided to place the ad for OLS, and did so going through the same procedure. Again it didn’t ask me to set a budget, and the ad went live with a budget of $20.00. So was I potentially going to be out $30?

I went to the ad analytics page, and learned a few things. FB took the budget as an ad campaign budget, not for a single ad. And the two different images on the OLS ad were indeed considered two different ads. So in fact my budget was too low. I quickly changed my budget to $50 for the campaign.

So, my campaign is off, now in its third day. FB gives quite a few analytics to look through. So far I’ve spent $6.11, based on the number of clicks on the ad and click-through rate to the book pages at Amazon. At that rate my ads should run for eight or nine days. But I’m going to make a couple of changes. On the second OLS ad I’ll change the image from the Stone Forest photo to the entire book cover, front and back. And I’m going to add an ad for Documenting America. Might as well.

Alas, as of an hour ago the ads had resulted in no sales reported by Amazon. I sure hope something sells in the next eight or nine days.

Three Publishing Items

That’s what I’m waiting on: three publishing items. The first two are within my control, once the proof books get here. Those are the print version of the home school edition of Documenting America, and the print version of The Candy Store Generation. I ordered the proofs Saturday, and they should be here today or tomorrow. Assuming they are good, I’ll pull the trigger right away and get them listed on CreateSpace. Not that hoards of anxious fans are waiting to buy them.

The next is In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People. This is only partly in my hands. Well, I could publish it as an e-book immediately. But my wife is proofreading it right now. Last night on the phone she reported she was well into the book, less than a quarter to go. Since she’s finding a few things that need correcting, I’ll wait on her to finish. At the same time I’m waiting on my son to tweak the e-book cover. I don’t know when that will happen. But the cover he sent me would be acceptable as is (though not optimum), and Lynda says the typos are minor, so I could really go ahead and publish immediately. I think, though, I’ll wait.

Oops, there’s actually a fourth item. My short story “Whiskey, Zebra, Tango” is actually ready to be published. I’m sure it can stand another reading or two, and maybe I’ll find a few things to correct or improve, but I think it’s ready to go. I’m waiting on a beta reader to give me her comments. She’s the person the heroine is patterned after—and I even use her name—so I’ll wait for her. But then there’s the issue of a cover. I want to do it myself. I know what I want, and have played around with some graphics software to create it, but so far I’m not happy with the results.

So there you have it. Four items, not three, already in or just about fixing to enter the publishing stage. Next post will be about my current work-in-progress, The Gutter Chronicles, which really is almost complete as a novella.

Stewardship of my writing time

Every now and then I make a post like this, so my loyal fan(s) will know that I’m not a slacker. Well, at least not a big slacker; maybe just a little slacker. Over the last month I have been much engaged in publishing tasks, less so in writing.

As I’ve reported previously, I’ve been working with the graphics in the print version of my book The Candy Store Generation. This took up a lot of my time over the last two weeks. That’s now behind me, however, as our company’s graphic arts gal, Lee Ann Gray, volunteered to do the work needed. I worked with her. She had them all done, until I realized I had given her the wrong size for the book. So she re-did them.

But when I uploaded them, I realized I still had them a half-inch narrower than they could be. I didn’t have the heart to ask her to do them over, so I left them like that. I inserted them in the Word document, uploaded it to CreateSpace, did all the formatting stuff including on-line proofing, and ordered the proof copy. A few graph that were website captures are still at a low resolution, but I don’t care. I just want to get it published.

I also ordered a copy of the home school edition of Documenting America. I actually finished the edits to this a couple of weeks ago, but hadn’t decided if I’d bother with another proof copy or not. This book has also been frustrating in that I can’t seem to contact any local home school people for marketing purposes. I go to the websites of the groups, get contact information, send out e-mails, and either get no response or an auto-response that the e-mail address is invalid. I have no sales of it in electronic format, so have few hopes I can sell it in paper format. Oh, well, it will be available should I ever figure out how to market it.

I had conversations with two different cover designers for In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People. My son had said he would do it, but his life as a young professional and new homeowner is incredibly busy. Thinking he wouldn’t come through, I contacted another man. I told my son about it, and he came through with a draft cover. It’s a good start, and actually good enough if I never got another one. But he’s going to tweak it some. So I’m getting very close to publishing this, at least in e-book formatting. I have one mini-scene to add to the text, which I’ll complete today.

I have done some writing this week, on two different thing. I wrote a short story titled “Whiskey, Zebra, Tango”. I began it last Monday and finished it yesterday at about 6,400 words (perhaps 25 printed pages). My intention is to publish this as an e-book only, and attempt to do a simple cover myself. I want to get FTSP out first, then this.

The other thing I worked on is my spoof of the civil engineering industry. Titled The Gutter Chronicles: The Continuing Saga of Norman D. Gutter, E.I., I use situations from my career and put them in the life of the unfortunate Mr. Gutter. I had 11 episodes (i.e. chapters) written as of a few years ago. I never planned on publishing it, but lately I’ve been circulating copies of it to a new batch of CEI employees. That made me realize I had a bunch of words written that could easily be transformed into an e-book. I’m adding four new chapters, one of which is done and another of which is 500 words from being done. The other two are outlined, so completion isn’t far away, maybe three weeks or so.

So that’s where I stand. I hope the next four weeks can be as productive as the last four. If they are, my list of titles for sale will climb from six to nine.