Saturday, March 30, 2019

Lurking agoraphobia.

So I keep thinking my agoraphobia is completely gone.

Well, it is if I'm prepared. But I think if I was caught alone on a busy street without an escape route I'd still freak out.

Linda and I went to visit family down in Oakhurst, Ca. We stayed at the Coarsegold casino, which I had some doubts about, but I thought it might be an interesting experience. And it was a four star hotel at a relatively cheaper cost. (They didn't need to know that we weren't gambling. heh)

Anyway, first day there, I went to park the car and then had to walk through the entire casino to get to my room. And the phobic reaction started immediately and built with every step. By the time I got to the room, I had to try to recover my calm.

I have some pills I can take, but I need to take them a good half hour before I confront a situation.

The point being, this reaction is rare for me nowadays, but a reminder that it is still there. Next day Linda and I went to a busy restaurant, which used to be a trigger, but this time I was prepared (and most importantly, I had Linda with me.)

And I marvel at how most people have no idea that just being able to sit there calmly and fit in and feel normal is a huge blessing.

Friday, March 29, 2019

My wife--the bustle beast.

We're back from our trip. This is what happened yesterday morning:

Linda is up and dressed and packed by 7:00 in the morning.

"Quit bustling about, please," I groan, upon opening my eyes.

"I'm not bustling," she says.

Ten minutes later, she zips up her suitcase and stares at me. "No hurry."

I lift my coffee cup and hide behind it.

She continues to buzz around the bed as I browse the internet. She coughs discretely.

"Take your time," she says again.

8:30. The pressure steadily mounts. She writes in her journal for awhile, then closes it and looks over at me. I refuse to meet her eyes until I've finished my second cup of coffee.

8:45. Her Jedi mind power starts levitating my bed. I ignore it. She paces the room, pretends not to pace the room. Looks over at me while pretending not to look over at me. Brushes her teeth the second time this morning.

"Not true," she says..."it's only your perception."

I put pillow over my head and hear her snort loudly. She starts looking toward the door as if contemplating going somewhere.

"I like to be ready so I don't have to hurry and rush stuff," she says.

"It's 8:45," I say. "Checkout is 11:00. We have nowhere we need to be."

She starts packing up everything not already nailed down, making sure to close the doors loudly.

She finally admits she's bustling. "What's wrong with bustling?" she says, as she zips around the room. She starts cleaning the sink and wiping the counters.

"Uh, did you already pack the creamer?"


I get up to take shower. "Uh...I need the shampoo and soap, please."


I come out of the shower. She's standing in the middle of the room. She's not tapping her foot, but she might as well be.

"I'm up, I'm up already..." I mutter. It's 9:00. After two hours of intense pressure. I'm beginning to crack. I try to bustle, but nothing happens. I start to desultorily pack my bags. It's too much, I lay back on the bed and try to ignore the fact that my wife is starting to make the hotel beds.

"I'm putting your bathrobe in this bag since it doesn't fit your suitcase,"she says.

"Oh, my God. Are you packing MY suitcase?"

"Noooo......" she says, stepping back guiltily. She bustles about, even though everything is packed. I have no idea what she's doing.

9:20. She leaves to get car and round up bellhop. The room is finally quiet and peaceful. I fight the urge to go back to bed. My ordeal will soon be over.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Small business is an act of willpower, Pt. 2.

Business at Pegasus Books has been really good for the last two weeks. Which is a big relief because February sucked. That's the worst effect from weather I've ever seen. But it looks like everything is back to normal.

About the time it turned normal, I'd already decided to order as if it was normal. That's when I posted my "Small business is an act of willpower" entry--and it seems to have been proven true once again.

It's nice these days to have a line of credit to cover these kinds of events. Paid off the line of credit about ten days ago. I spent years on a COD basis with no backup funds. It was a constant tightrope walk.

But also, we sell books and graphic novels and games and toys nowadays, which have a much longer shelf-life than comic periodicals used to have. I never realized how hard a comic shop was compared to just about any other business. I probably shouldn't say this but--bookstores are a breeze, comparatively--and I still haven't resorted to returns, which I could do if I wanted. If I miss a week or two of orders for books or games, sales continue on as normal. If I miss a week of comics, it's a holocaust...heh. (I don't even want to talk about sports cards...shudder.)

The thing I keep coming back to--when it comes to willpower--is another way to put it is--heavy-lifting. I spent years putting the business on my back and pushing through, by work and willpower and constant attention.

So it's a big relief nowadays that the store maintains itself, that it requires a constant spin of the wheel, but not the mud-wrestling it used to take.

As I always say, it only took 25 years--it might have taken less time if I hadn't made so many mistakes, but even if everything had been smooth, I'm sure at least 10 to 15 years needed to pass before the store became functional. (We started at a very low ebb.)

Small business is wonderful--but be ready to work at it.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The fundamental question of our future.

I should have had a tagline for "Fateplay: Why would you ever leave a holodeck?

Let's say, for instance, that you could live in Middle Earth. You never have to be hurt or killed in real  life but can have all the adventures you want. Or whatever fantasy realm or real earth location and scenario you want.

Interestingly, to me, is that both Star Trek and Orville touched on this every time they had an episode featuring a holodeck. It may not have been the main plot point, but the question was always there. So far, in Orville, it's pretty much been the main point. Oh, they have the characters coming back down to earth, but I always wonder why? I mean, depending on people willing to go back to their reality because of "duty" or "responsibility" seems pretty iffy to me.

Think of every addiction you have ever had and multiply it by a zillion.  (It's pretty much the underlying plotpoint of the Matrix movies, right?)

Of course, it may come down to expense. Who can afford to neglect the necessities? Maybe only rich people will be able to play.

But assuming a future where this technology is readily available and where you can feed and clothe yourself and take care of the necessities, and assuming you can bring your friends and loved ones with you--why would you ever leave?

Why would you ever leave a holodeck? Seriously.

Once again asking my friends and readers to buy another book.

"Fateplay" is my first real science fiction novel. It was inspired by the tone and easy-to-read-ness of "Ready Player One" though it quickly went in its own direction. I really like the characters, the variety of them, and it was great fun to write a bunch of different adventure scenarios because the book is about role-playing and cosplay and virtual reality and holo-technology.

Watching "Orville" has once again reminded me of what seems to me to be the fundamental question:

"Why would you ever leave a holo scenario you like?"

Seriously. Why would you? Addictive personalities at the very least, but then--we're all addictive personalities when it comes right down to it.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Void Says Goodbye

The Void Says Goodbye

The moon snickers
at who shall be it
the sun bickers
and dithers and spits

The stars dolefully
blinking down
as the earth smothers
and drowns.

The oceans roil
in anger and pain
the lands groan
not quite sane

The animals skitter
and hide and flee
As Mankind
refuses to see

This won't end well
say the clouds and sky
the void shrugs
and says goodbye

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Used to be hard to get nerd stuff.

Whenever I check one of the pop culture sites I'm overwhelmed by the amount of nerd stuff that is offered. Amazing. Toys, games, comics, books...tchotchkes and random knick-knacks.

What I remember is 39 years ago at Pegasus Books when we had to search high and low for anything nerdy. Even D & D was new and rudimentary. Comics were way off the mainstream. Science Fiction and Fantasy were still inching their way toward the respectability.

Right now, I can go onto a book liquidation site and finds dozens of Star Wars books at discounts. Four decades ago any and all Star Wars product was instantly snapped up.

I'm not sure why it took so long for the commercial culture to catch up. It's like they fought it every step of the way--or simply didn't believe it was real. It's hard to remember now the doubt I encountered when the first Spider-man movie was announced. I mean, I remember thinking if I had any money I'd buy up all the Marvel stock I could afford. (I had no money...dammit.)

I had a hard time finding book distributors who would deal with us. Toy distributors wouldn't even answer the phone. Game distributors were available, but difficult to work with. We had the comic distributors--but they carried only comics. Few toys or games and no graphic novels.

I don't think people today understand how this avalanche of nerd stuff wasn't inevitable--and has gathered steam as time goes on. When I first bought the store I was on the constant look out for anything nerdy that was available to me.

Now the job is to try to pick the stuff that meets my store the best. When I see pictures of other comic stores, they have cool nerd stuff that makes me wonder why I didn't get it. One comic retailer just announced that his Funko toys were outselling his new comics. To which I say, "Wow!" (Maybe I should be getting more Funko...)

When I hear complaints from nerd culture I always want to shout--"This is amazing! Cool movies, cool toys, cool books, cool games! Be grateful you ingrates!!!

Hey, when I was a kid, the only SF movies around were giant killer bugs. Batman was a joke. Star Wars was a wet dream.

It all looks "cool" in hindsight, but at the time it was a big disappointment to read a Heinlein novel and then see some low budget science fiction movie that more likely than not was a parody.

Just saying, that nerd culture has taken over--and that would have been impossible to predict.

And I think it's wonderful.

(Oh, and we had to walk five miles to school...up hill both ways.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A day of work at Pegasus Books.

Now when I work at the store, I'm expending all my energy into selling instead of pacing myself. If I'm allowed to say, I become a bit of a charm monster. This entails being insanely sincere and open when I talk to people. I worked at the store twice in one week while Sabrina was off at the Seattle comic convention.

I sold 5 copies of "Deadfall Ridge" just by bringing the subject up. (Well, that and standing there with a pathetically hopeful look on my face.) It proves, I think, that thrillers have a much wider appeal than horror novels, which is obvious in hindsight.

Also sold a copy of "Tuskers" to a kid who was intrigued by killer pigs.

Anyway, as I say, I don't pace myself and therefore spend ALL my social capital in one 8 hour burst. By the end of the day, I'm a little tired of my being a charm monster.

Overdid the exercise yesterday. There are 107 steps down into the Dry Canyon, which is five minutes walk from my house. I made the mistake of running up them. I more or less collapsed on the top, talked to some lady who out walking for 25 minutes while I recovered.

(I continue to selectively perceive aches and pains as warnings, when all they may be is aches and pains.)

I've become much more social these days. The pills help, but also, I've just been socialized.

But I still prefer to be alone on my walks.

The Dry Canyon trails are way, way too busy. Even if I didn't mind that, I wouldn't be able to swerve off the trail and sit and write. I'm already the odd one by not having a dog along.

Anyway, I felt very off last night. Waking up in a daze this morning, I also realized that my day at Pegasus Books was also way more tiring than I thought.  Makes me wonder how I'd handle 5 days a week. Pacing is everything.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Dodging depression.

That time in 1971 when I was getting stoned with a friend, and another friend came by and mentioned that he'd just watched a moon landing.

I remember my shock and alarm at this. I hadn't even been aware it was happening. Me, the science-fiction guy from the time I started reading, who loved the space program. Whose 3rd grade class trooped up to my house to watch John Glenn in orbit.

I think that's when I realized I was in trouble. The dope wasn't good for me, for sure. But more, I was so depressed that things that used to excite me were forgotten.

I was talking to my friend Wes yesterday and mentioned the Facebook post where he was skiing. "I didn't even know you skied."

"Uh, you took me up the Mt. Bachelor the first few times. You were very impatient. You said, 'Just head downhill.'"

"That's not bad advice," I laugh.

I have no memory of this. In fact, that senior year in high school is just one big blur. I was depressed, but the true extent of it didn't hit me until my first year at the U of O, when I spent most of the last term in my dorm room, living on coca cola, cigarettes, and Bob's Burgers.

I choose not to dwell on that decade in my life. But sometimes I get a whiff of that deep despair and numbness and it frightens me a little.

I'm pretty cheerful, generally. If not cheerful, grumpy. But rarely depressed. I've been really lucky. The clinical depression never came back, though that was always a distinct possibility.

This semi-retirement is weird. I'm reminiscing much more often. I'm spending time listening to music. I'm diving into podcasts and Youtube videos.

I feel a little like I did as a teenager. Time seems to stretch. The work-life was one pressure filled 30 year time-capsule which is now in my past.

God, I'm lazy.

The difference between 64 and 66.

Got a bill from the hospital for $600, and I gulped. Then I looked at the full bill: $64,000. I have Medicare and supplemental insurance. Thank God.

But here's the thing. For about half of the 30 years I owned the store before turning 65, we couldn't afford medical insurance. We were lucky in that all our medical emergencies were in the half of the time when we were covered.

My medical insurance before 65 was over $800 a month, and of course Linda's wasn't much less. Since we earned not much more than minimum wage during much of our ownership, this literally would have taken every dime.

But turn 65 and suddenly everything is OK.

There's something wrong with that picture.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Write what you want to read?

I've heard this advice over and over again--"Write what you want to read."

A little secret. I've never really done that. I tend to read thrillers or hard S.F.

I've only recently ventured into thriller territory, and I've just written my first true S.F. (and it's not "hard" S.F.)

Not that I wouldn't enjoy reading the stories I've written--I would hope. It's just that my creative urges don't always match my reading appetite.

All this is to say---I really would have liked to read "Fateplay." It's right up my alley.

I mentioned before that I truly enjoyed "Ready Player One." Even though "Fateplay" was inspired by this book, mine turned out very differently. But I really enjoyed being "Zach" in this book. I really enjoyed the other protagonists, including the villains.

Zach Spence--who's been getting deluxe Red Passes to Pegasus Conventions in the mail for years.

Mr. Zander, a tall spindly man with a crushed top hat and knee high boots, a sharp goatee and a frock coat full of sharp knives.

Charismatic Elvis, who's not at all what he seems.

Numera, tall and elegant, out of Spence's league, so he thinks.

Agate, cute and quirky, every nerd's dream.

Coyote, the spirit guide, who may or may not really exist.

The Blue Queen, Mistress of Ceremonies, who seems in control but....

Anyway, I loved writing all these characters, as well as the setting where VR and holo's and costoms and gaming are all central. And at the end, a lot of strangeness.

I really hope this takes off, because I'm proud of it.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

It never works to ask, and it does hurt.

So it never works to ask people to buy your book.

I get it.

But you know what? There is a free preview attached to every Amazon book. It will give you the first xxx number of pages free that you can read. So instead of asking you to buy my book, I'm asking you to click the link and read a few pages.

If it doesn't grab your attention--my bad. Totally fair.

If it does grab your attention, well, then give it a go.

The above pitch probably wouldn't work on me. I'm busy, I'm doing other things, if someone is asking it must mean they're desperate, I have a pile of books beside my bed, who are you anyway?

But I spent months and months on this book, and I really like it, and so I'm asking you to give a go. It'll take a couple of minutes of your time to decide if it's really something you might like.

Two clicks away. 👐

My first Science Fiction novel.

Hello, anyone who has ever read one of my books!

My first science-fiction book is coming out on March 26 and is available for pre-order.

It's probably also my favorite book--maybe because it is SF, which was always my first love. It was fun to extrapolate upon ideas and current trends.

I enjoyed Ready Player One a great deal, so this book was inspired by that, but instead of being based gaming, I envision a world where everyone cosplays, for work, for play, for home. They call it--somewhat ironically-- "hyper-reality," a combination of costuming, gaming, virtual reality, and holo-technology.

The innocence and fun is threatened by what appears to be corporate interests but turns out to be something much bigger and otherworldly.

Anyway, it was a great deal of fun. I love the cover, which incorporates some of the many scenarios I play with--pirates, space opera, mountain climbing, steampunk, fantasy, and more.

It's one of my longest books, but hopefully it's a breezy read. I humbly submit it for your consideration. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

To "sour one's temper and disturb one's quiet."

Ben Franklin didn't patent his inventions. He thought they were for the common good. To claim credit "sours one's temper and disturbs one's quiet."

I like that.

With writing, the constant temptation is to push one's books on others. I have to resist that impulse, because even when it works, it only sours my temper and disturbs my quiet. Besides, it doesn't work, except in the sense that a constant awareness of promotion probably results in higher sales eventually.

But at what cost?

I liken it to being the cousin who shows up at the wedding trying to sell everyone life insurance. Don't be that guy.

I do bring up my books at the store, and that does result in sales. But if I see hesitation, I immediately say, "Please don't feel like you have to buy the book." I know, I know...there is still the effect of the author standing there with a pathetically hopeful look on his face. But I think that's fair.

With "Led to the Slaughter" and "Tuskers" I went down my Facebook friends list, and if they were really people I knew, I asked them if they wouldn't "review" my book. Of course, to review the book, they have to buy it...

It worked with "Led to the Slaugher," mostly because it was my first book (coming back). It worked half as well with "Tuskers." I think I tried it with one other book ("Snaked"?) and it didn't work at all, and I felt a little seedy doing it. So that won't be happening anymore, despite the effectiveness. (Don't be that guy.)

I've mentioned I had a health scare, and it really made me ponder what I've done and where I'm going. And what I found, when I looked deep inside, is that I'm very happy with my oeuvre. My body of work stands up. It ain't perfect, but it's better than I expected--and it's mine. I'd like to finish off the books I've written and get them out there, but if I never write another book, I'm pretty happy with what I've done. 

It just feels right.

Monday, March 11, 2019

A Beatles shelf at Pegasus Books.

Went down a Beatles rabbithole yesterday.

Spent all day listening to YouTube podcasts about the Beatles. I recently read "Tune In," by Mark Lewisohn, which is the definitive history of the Beatles. It takes them up to the release of their first record, which sounds early, but John, Paul, and George had been together for something like 6 years by then. It's a very dense read, but really gives a great perspective on how they came to be. Explains why they were so great, and how lucky it all was that they stayed together long enough and met the right people (especially Epstein and Martin.)

I think what spurred all this was the trailer for the movie "Yesterday." I absolutely loved the premise. In fact, while I was looking around, I came across a number of "reviews" of the trailer. Apparently, this is thing. There are tons of people who post their reactions to trailers--which is a little like reviewing a restaurant based on its menu, but whatever...

I hope this movie will awaken some love in the Millennials who probably think the Beatles are old hat.

In fact, I've decided to start a Beatles bookshelf at Pegasus Books. Why? Because I can.

I might throw in some Dylan and Rolling Stones while I'm at it. Good old Sixties rock & roll.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Small business is an act of willpower.

I decided that this was the year that I'd stay within my budget at Pegasus Books for the first half of the year rather than catching up the second half of the year. (Sales are roughly 40/60).

Then the snows came.

This week I decided that I'd keep the image of the "good" store that I always try to keep in my head and do whatever it took. It immediately felt like the pressure was released. I ordered a ton of books and told Sabrina to keep up the regular orders for games and comics/graphic novels.

We'll make up for it in the second half, as usual.

We got something like 15 big boxes of books on Thursday. All of them titles that have sold well. There were another few thousand dollars worth of books that are more midlist that I skipped this time around but will order the next time. I also really only ordered one each of very  popular books, so that will also be ramped up for the next order. I usually try to have 2 or 3 copies of titles like "Dune" or "The Name of the Wind," perennial bestsellers.

In some ways, a small business is an act of willpower.

Here is a great store and you'll all respond, I just know you will, how can you not?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

A whole new wardrobe.

I've lost 20 pounds since Christmas, on my way to 25. The first ten pounds were easy--basically just trailing off a little. The second ten pounds have been a struggle. I figure the last five pounds will be harder still. And keeping those pounds off will be yet another level.

But I have a whole new (old) wardrobe.

I fought my weight for years, keeping it around 180--which is still 10 pounds higher than I'd like it to be. I tried getting below 170 but it was a bridge too far.

Anyway, about a decade ago, I "let myself go." Ate what I wanted. And all my clothes became too tight.

I'd say about 2/3rds of the clothes in my closet were bought at the 180 weight and only a third is at the above 190 weight.

I have a bit of a barrel chest so losing weight below that doesn't really show up. I look the same. But I feel slimmer. Hopefully it will give me a bit more energy.

I had a bit of health scare, and I was in talking to the exercise/nutrition people at the hospital yesterday, and sure enough, they basically want me to eat carrots and turnips. Not only that, but raw carrots and turnips.

Basically, I'm taking in their advice and adapting it to what I think I can actually accomplish. I was doing pretty well already--walking everyday, taking my medications. I can eat better, admittedly, but I never ate lots of fast foods. I've tailed off on the chips and sweets already.

I have good discipline for some reason. Don't know where that came from.

Audio of "Deadfall Ridge" coming soon.

Linda and I listened the audio recording of "Deadfall Ridge" by Kevin Meyer, who's a pro. (Should be available soon.)

It's a strange experience.

First of all, it reminds me how complicated it is to write a book, all the moving pieces, all the connections, all the twists and turns.

Secondly, I don't tend to remember writing the actual sentences, so I'm constantly surprised by the way I expressed something. I have some neat turns of phrases which surprise me that I came up with them. Linda laughed at least once in every chapter, because I do tend to put some humor in. Which is weird, because I'm not that funny a guy. But it comes from the characters.

Third, I do notice how I might have said something better when it's in someone else's voice.

Fourth, it comes across pretty well. Better than I would have expected. (Though as always, I feel that there is another step upward somewhere, somehow.)

Meanwhile, "Fateplay" is edited and is waiting on a cover. So it should be coming up in the near future. Now that I've had the BookBub experience, I'm of course addicted but I also know that the chances are slim each time. Three months later, "Deadfall Ridge" still sell some books everyday, better than anything else I've done. (Though looking back, "Led to the Slaughter" did pretty well too, with the most and best reviews.)

I'll be reading the last chapter of "Eden's Return" in writers group next Tuesday, so that book will be finished as soon as I do a solid rewrite.

I also have "Takeover" and my four "Tales of the Thirteen Principalities" ready to be edited. And of course, the four Lander books.

I've been uncertain about "Faerylander" which has been rewritten so many times I can't tell if it's any good. I asked my publisher to take a look at it, and he just wrote back and send it on in as usual and the editor will do the usual thing.

I guess. I just have to hope there is enough feedback to get an accurate reading. (This isn't entirely possible, of course--it's all pretty subjective.)

All this is to say, I have a ton of editing to do, but the results would be amazing. It would take me at least three times longer to write a new book than to finish any of the above works. So at some point in the near future I just need to roll up my sleeves and get them done. If and when I do, I have at least a two or three years worth of books to be released.

Wow. I was a busy guy.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Stuck in a room. Bouncing off the walls.

When I mentioned "writer's block" yesterday, Linda looked at me in shock.

"You don't have writer's block!"

I just sort of smirked.

I'm not sure what I have. I just know I'm not writing.

I'm particularly stuck in my story, "Ruby Red and the Robot." I have my intrepid crew trapped in a room, with the robot outside. That's it. I can't figure out what to do next. Weird. I've been thinking about for a month and absolutely nothing comes to me.

I mean, I could have Antony tear away the walls and save them, but I wanted to introduce a new character.

So what is the reaction of my intrepid crew? What does the new character say? How does he enter?

Seems like it should be so easy.

Normally I'd go for a walk and try to come up with an answer, but I've been housebound for days. Tried walking yesterday but it was incredibly slippery and cold to boot.

I so want to get back to my routine. The doctors told me to take it easy, but damned if I'm going to stop walking. I'll have to convince them that's how I want to exercise. Dammit, tell them what the fuck I want, instead of just meekly accepting whatever they tell me. (Already saved myself $300 bucks a month on one of the new medications by asking for a substitute. Not as "good" apparently, but acceptable.)

The interesting thing about my "gut check" anvil-on-the-head moment is that it more or less confirmed that I've been on the right track. I'd been doubting the wisdom of not working my store for the last six years; but now I'm sure it was the right thing to do. Working until you die is pretty stupid. No one on their deathbed says, "Gosh, I wish I'd worked more."

I'm so thankful for the way my life has gone. The ten years of depression? In the anvil moment, I thought very clearly, "That sort of stuff just happens." The rest has been a bonus. I mean, how lucky can a guy get to direct the course of his own life, do what he set out to do (own a bookstore and be a writer) and marry the best woman in the world?

Yeah, so steady on.

Saturday, March 2, 2019


I can look at my overall author rankings on Amazon.

Squiggly lines, high and tight when my books are selling, loose and wide when they slow down. They more or less frazzle out over time.

I did some research before starting and it was clear to me that most books have about a four to six month sales arc. That is, they start to level off at about four months, and pretty much are done after six months. So my goal was to put out a book every five months or so. (I was writing full time and with the modern technology I don't really need to spend more time than that on any one book.)

It's pretty clear that when I was releasing a new book every few months, the sales momentum stayed high and tight. The moment my first publisher delayed the next book, the chart started fraying. I'll always wonder what might have happened if he'd published the next book on time. Instead, he was over a year late and never did put out the paperback version. ("The Darkness You Fear" has finally been released in the last few days.)

Same thing with my second and third publishers. Good starts, then over a year delay by which time the graph is fraying badly. 

One of the frustrating things is that I was writing books on a regular basis. If they'd been published on time, I'm pretty sure I could have kept sales higher and tighter.

The first publisher went MIA. The second and third publishers attempted to go mainstream, which meant my books were held back in preparation. In theory this should have been a good thing but in practice it was an overreach and put them both out of publishing (at least my kind of books.)

They delayed forever and then just sort of lamely dropped my books into the marketplace with zero backup.

In other words, any momentum stalled.

Now, we're not talking huge sales even at best, but enough to feel like I was reaching people.

I have three new publishers. Two of them seem active. The publisher of the "Virginia Reed Adventures" has done an audio version of "Led to the Slaughter" and has republished "The Dead Spend No Gold" and "The Darkness You Fear." If I can get over my writer's block, I want to write a fourth and fifth Virginia Reed book.

Crossroad Press has been very proactive and responsive. They will publish most anything I send them, so the timing (and quality) is now up to me. I need to give them time to edit and create a cover, but mostly they look like they'll stick to my four to five month timeline. (As I say, I was writing during all these delays so have a backlog of material to release.)

They did a wonderful thing by putting "Deadfall Ridge" on BookBub, which has sold better than any of my other books. It has more or less reset the graph. My sales are high and tight again, and I'm hoping to keep that going.

"Fateplay," which is my Ready Player One inspired "Game-lit" book, has been edited and is waiting on a cover, so it should be coming out in the timeline. (Of course, I'm hoping for a BookBub, though I know this is always a longshot.)

"Eden's Return" is almost ready, so it's up next. My goal is to make sure I have a new book ever five months.

So I'll get to see if I can keep the squiggly lines high and tight for awhile.

(I probably shouldn't say it, but I don't really care about the money. I've given up a huge amount of earnings by not working my store. No way I'll ever make that up. Meanwhile, I'm living the dream.)