Book Sales through August 2015

Book Sales Graph 2015-08Oops! I’m a day late making a blog post. I had planned on something else, but instead I think I’ll give a book sales report. Excuse me a moment while I check my posts and see when is the last time I did that…

…I’m back. It looks as if I’ve not made a formal sales report at all in 2015. If that’s the case, the easiest way is for me to simply post a table from my spreadsheet. There it is above, through the end of August.

I’m on track to sell more books than last year. Sitting now at 71 sales, which equates to a yearly rate of 106. However, my sales this year are mostly driven by my issuing Daddy Daughter Day in April and Seth Boynton Cheney in September. Both of these are print-only books, and have sold mostly hand to hand. Without those, I’d have less than 20 sales this year. But, then, I’m up to over 400 sales all together in 4 1/2 years. I’ll take them.

Of course, that’s with almost zero publicity or promotion. I still don’t know what type of promotion would be effective for the books I publish. Perhaps next year I’ll do more promotion. Or perhaps not. Osmosis isn’t very effective I’m finding out, despite what some of the self-publishing gurus say.



A Programmed Bible Reading

The first Sunday in August we were in Dodge City, planning to drive home that evening/night. In church service that Sunday our pastor announced a church-wide Bible reading plan: 40 days of us all reading the same thing. It would start the next day, and follow a certain program on a certain website. Our pastor would also be blogging about it at another site.

Now, we’ve done this sort of thing before; not recently, but we’ve had times when everyone in the church was supposed to be reading the same thing, either something in the Bible or a book for a study. When the reading was a programmed Bible reading, I generally have had trouble keeping up with it. My normal Bible reading is to take a book and read it on my own schedule. Maybe some much per day; maybe till I’m ready to stop. Right now I’m reading the major epistles, currently reading a chapter a day as a devotional reading.

But, when I get a programmed Bible reading, for some reason, I can’t do it. I fall asleep while reading. I let my mind drift. I get nothing from the reading. I seldom finish the program.

This time, when we got home from our trip, and by the time I looked at e-mails and newsletters and found myself already behind in the reading, I almost didn’t start it. However, wanting to participate with the others, I started a few days late and determined to catch up. I did so within a week, and am on schedule, slightly more than 1/2 way through.

The surprising thing is I’ve been able to read and enjoy it. When reading, my powers of concentration seem good. My mind doesn’t wander, and I get through it all. This is a strange thing for me. But I hope it continues, through this program and in the future.

Brain Dead

I know I was supposed to publish a post on Sunday, and another one today. Truth is, however, that I’m brain dead right now. I couldn’t force out a post if I wanted to. Yet I have work to do this evening, writing work.

I’ll try to be back on my regular posting schedule next week.

A Short Story Completed

This summer, writing has taken a backseat in my life. I haven’t completely abandoned creative writing, but time to give it much focus simply hasn’t been there.

What have I been doing instead? Well, in early June we babysat our three grandchildren for almost two weeks, then their parents arrived and stayed with us a few days. They went on a ten day road trip, coming back in early July for a couple of days. That has a way of taking up a lot of your time.

Then there was my wife’s family reunion the last weekend in July/first of August. I was reunion planner. I know, that sounds strange, doesn’t it? But I was, and it took a fair amount of work. Part of that was completing a formal edition of my family history book. Seth Boynton Cheney: Mystery Man of the West, focuses on the patriarch of the family, but it’s much more than that. 292 pages of biography, photos, maps, document images, and pages and pages of data I’ve collected on a number of ancestors in the family. My goal was to have it published by June 15, to give people plenty of time to order it before the reunion. I came very close to making it. The book was done by the 15th and a proof copy ordered. It then took me to June 27th to have all the corrections made and have it published.

Then there’s stock trading. That took a back seat to the reunion, but since that I’ve hit it in a big way again, trying to make some money to augment the retirement funds. I’m actually not doing too badly for the year. I have losses, but almost none since April, with a string of winners since then helping to recover from other losses. Unfortunately that work isn’t going to change very soon.

Work at CEI has been about normal. I submitted abstracts for presentation of two technical papers, one of which was due Friday. I came within about two paragraphs of completing it then. I printed it out and have it at home with me. Hopefully tonight I’ll be able to read and edit it and figure out those couple of paragraphs I lack. Tomorrow I’ll be able to type the changes and upload it sometime in the morning. I advised the organization that I’d be on that schedule, and they said that was fine.

So, back to the short story. It is the last in the Danny Tompkins series that explores teenage grief at the loss of a parent. The subject for this story eluded me for half a year. Finally around May I knew what it would be, and I wrote a few paragraphs. The hindrance of the “blank page” having been overcome, I came back to it from time to time, as I could carve out a little time for it. Slowly it came to being.

On Friday I worked on it a little on my noon hour, and realized I wasn’t sure how to end it. This one ends the series of five stories, so the ending needed to be both for the story itself and for the series. This afternoon I sat down to work on it, first editing what I had. As I did that the idea for the ending came, it being a little different than I’d thought it would be. It reads more as a memoir than a story, but it’s done, and it’s as good as I can make it, so I’m going with it. I did the Kindle version formatting this afternoon. I was about to work on a simple cover for it, but realized I can’t get to the photo I was going to use. So I’ll have to take another photo, which I’ll do when I go upstairs. I know exactly what I want with it.

My goal is to have this available on both Amazon and Smashwords by Wednesday, August 19. It will be close, but I think I can do it. Smashwords doesn’t take much more formatting than does Kindle, and the same cover works for both. With luck I’ll have it all done tomorrow evening, and the books will be out in time. I also need to go back and add links to all five stories to the ones already published. That I’ll do before the week is out. Then, next weekend I’ll begin promotion of the new story and the set.

After that, I have another story started in a different series. I need to finish and publish that. Then, I’ll see.  I know which two novels I’ll work on next, and which book-length non-fiction. We’ll see which of those bubbles up to the top. The busyness doesn’t appear to abate in the months ahead. Another reunion that includes a long road trip awaits. A business trip will take me away for a couple of days in September, and another might do the same in October. But I’ll be writing. I’ll keep my few fans updated here.

Book Review: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

Some time ago I picked up, at Barnes & Noble, a copy of their Classics edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Of course I’ve known about this book for a long time, and perhaps should have read it a long time ago.  Alas, no matter. It’s read now.

I give it an unqualified 5 stars, and will do so on B&N soon. Not that the book needs my review. It’s staying power for over 150 years speaks for itself. The things I like about the book:

  • It’s well written; the English is clear, especially considering how little education Douglass had had by the time he wrote this. A little training in reading, and a whole lot of self-study did wonders for him and his book.
  • The book gives insights into the slave life that I haven’t read before. And I’ve read a fair amount on slavery. I realize he was in Maryland, not the deep south, and that might account for some of his experiences and how slaves lived as not being quite what I would have imagined. That’s a good thing.
  • The length was about right.
  • Although the book was an inexpensive volume, the quality is good. After reading you can barely tell I read it, the wear is so little.

What I didn’t like about it:

  • It doesn’t tell any details about his escape. I realize that when the book was originally printed he couldn’t give those details, so that those who helped him would not face consequences. I wish, however, years later he had added some of those details.
  • The Introduction was waaaaaaay too long. It was written by Robert O’Meally. I read it first, along with a review that was contemporary to the book. O’Meally wrote much too much. In hindsight I should have just read the book, then come back and read the Introduction.

This is a keeper, at least for now. I’m not sure I’ll ever read it again, but I may. It can also serve as a reference book for my work-in-progress, Documenting America: Civil War Edition. After that, we’ll see. I think, however, I’d like to pass it down to my grandchildren. The further away we get from the Civil War, the more we need books like this.

Getting Back to Blogging

I’ve been away from the blog for a while. Today is the first time I’ve been here in over three weeks, and it’s been longer than that since I’ve posted. I haven’t been idle, however.

July 24-26 was my wife’s high school reunion back in Meade, Kansas. That was a fun weekend. The July 31-Aug 2 was her paternal family reunion in Dodge City, Kansas. I was the reunion planner for that (go figure).  We stayed the full week in the area between the two reunions.

I want to write a couple of blog posts on the family reunion, but need some time to get those together, along with some photos. I’ll be back with those posts.

I also have two or three book reviews to do. Again, I’m not quite ready to write those yet. Hopefully I’ll get one done on Wednesday.

And, of course, I need to do an update on what’s going on with my writing life. I do some of that on my Facebook author page, but will also add some posts here as well. Again, I just need some time to get to them.

So, here I am, finally back at my blog, not able to do much more than tell you what’s coming up. Hopefully I can be regular at blogging for the next month or two, at least twice a week.

Book Review — Soul Shift

Recently our church had an all-church study of the book Soul Shift: the Measure of a Life Transformed, by Steve DeNeff and David Drury. Our pastor preached sermons from the book and our life groups studied it during Sunday School hour.

If I had to describe the book in one word, I’d say “disappointing.”

It is essentially a discipleship book with a cute title. DeNeff and Drury identified seven ways in which a practicing Christian’s life should change to be wholly devoted to God:

  • from Me to You
  • from Slave to Child
  • from Seen to Unseen
  • from Consumer to Steward
  • from Ask to Listen
  • from Sheep to Shepherd
  • from Me to We

Each of these is given a chapter in the book.

While there’s nothing wrong with the book, I suppose I was disappointed because there’s nothing new here.  It’s the same old discipleship stuff packaged differently, perhaps for a different audience.

The book is well written, though possibly a little boring in places. Also, whenever the authors used first person, they always indicated which of them that first person applied to. This was a minor annoyance that I was somewhat able to ignore as I got through the book.

I don’t think I’ll be keeping this one, nor will I likely ever read it again.

Hard to Return to Routine

On June 11 our three grandchildren (ages 7, 4, and 2) came to stay with us while their parents went on a sabbatical trip: business mixed with pleasure. I immediately shifted my routines and established a new routine. I delayed coming in to work until around 10:00 a.m. I got the kids up, fed them breakfast, got them dressed, had the two older ones make their beds, saw that their teeth were brushed, then headed out for work. My wife took the day shift. In the evening we worked together on supper and jointly got them ready for bed. Afterwards I spent a little time in The Dungeon, working on writing and stock trading tasks.

Then, on June 23 their parents arrived, and the routines were shot. They all left two days later on the next leg of their trip, returned on July 6, and left for home on July 8.

So it’s July 9, and time to get back to our usual routines. Actually, I should have begun that on June 25. I tried, really I did, but there were things working against me. One was the Independence Day holiday, which gave my a 3-day weekend Friday-Sunday. The other was lack of a major writing project at home and delay of a certain project at work. So I was without a focus at each location. Consequently I floundered at both. I got stuff done at both, but my productivity was nowhere near what it should have been.

Also working against the routine is being the organizer/planner of my wife’s family’s reunion the last weekend in July/first in August. It’s going well, but it’s a one time thing, not a routine thing. What writing tasks I had were minor corrections to on-line listing of my books, again not routine. At work I had a series of one-off things to do. I also have non-routine things coming up the end of August, end of September, and end of October.  Planning for those has already begun—another thing to draw me out of my routine.

I don’t do well with the non-routine. I’ve long noticed that, but it was certainly confirmed this month. Last night I found myself at home, the kids and grandkids gone, and the evidence that they’d been there mostly cleared away. So I went to The Dungeon in the evening, was confronted with some non-routine tasks, and almost got nothing done. I finally concentrated on my stock trading routine, and was able to enter one trade with my broker, which filled today. Yea! Back to routine.

We’ll see what happens over the next four months. I hope I can be productive, but I’m afraid I will be only marginally so. I have most of the non-routine things on my to-do list (the non-work ones, that is). If I just work that list I’ll be okay.

Seth Boynton Cheney – Mystery Man of the West

This announces that my latest book, Seth Boynton Cheney: Mystery Man of the West, is now available for sale at Amazon and CreateSpace.  This is a family history, not a book for the general market. It traces descendants through Seth, who was descended from John Cheney of Newbury, Massachusetts, through his son Peter. I’m posting this to be complete in announcing my books.

Here’s the link to the book at Amazon.

I just realized I don’t have the cover here as a jpeg, so I can’t post it. Maybe I can grab one from Amazon….ok, got the front cover, I think.

SBC book front cover

Author | Engineer