August #saleswanking (Holy crap does that suck edition)

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So, how exactly do you spell the sound you make when you noisily and deliberately clear your throat and then spit an enormous loogie onto the ground?  Because I’m in serious need of some onomatopoeia here.  May as well rip off the Band-Aid; worst month since March, and by some metrics the worst month of the year– in fact, August was so shitty of a month for book sales that it has actually and literally managed to make previous months worse than they were before.

That’s impressive.

One tiny silver lining:  Benevolence Archives, Vol. 1 had a solid month on Smashwords— not a good month, but not one I can really complain about.  All of my books are on Smashwords (and, with that, iBooks and Barnes and Noble and Kobo and all the rest) and combined they sold bupkis through all of those vendors, making me wonder if anyone but me actually ever buys books from the iBookstore.  Total Amazon sales?  Six.  Three BA 1, two Sanctum, and one lonely-ass copy of Skylights.  Total print sales for the month: 0.  Total zero days for the month of August, after only having had one in the previous three months?  Five, including two in a row at one point.


Okay, I get it, no one reads in August, and August was my worst month last year, too.  But damn.  And that’s not even the worst news of the month.  That honor goes to OpenBooks, which “recalculated how we count downloads” this month and promptly saw everyone’s downloads fall straight into the toilet.  In July I had a hundred and seventy downloads of BA 1, supposedly, and in August I had 42, none of which happened after the 19th and only four of which happened after the sixth.

So… are your numbers now crap, or are your numbers previously crap?  And how alarmed should I be that sitewide metrics used to be posted on literally every page at OpenBooks and now they can’t be found anywhere any longer?  That tells me something, and it doesn’t tell me anything good– and I’ve logged four hundred and seventy downloads through OpenBooks in 2015.  Were those actually to anyone?  Did they happen?  That’s a solid third of my downloads for the year and now I’m not sure if they were all phantoms or not.

This does not make me happy.

Hell, I even tried an Amazon sale for a few days and it really didn’t get me much of anywhere.  I got a few sales out of it, but one of the 0 days was during the sale.  I may have to go crawling back to Prime after all, and that does not make me happy, but shit has cratered since leaving, and while I do like the idea of my books being available in all markets it doesn’t seem to have actually helped me any.

Bah.  I need to come up with something clever for September, dammit.  I can’t have two months like this in a row, and right now I can’t even count on those 45 from OpenBooks showing back up again, so I’m looking at hands down the worst month of the year in September unless things improve.  I should get a little boost when Malumba launches but right now that’s late October if I spend the rest of this week completely on my game.  We’ll see.  Until then, though?  I need an idea.

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#sevenlines from STARLIGHT

So Katherine Lampe tagged me with a Twitter meme.  It entertains me.  So why not?  I gave you seven paragraphs, not seven lines, because this happened to be a conversation and they’re short.  And I don’t think I’m tagging anybody.  But have fun with a quick glimpse of STARLIGHT anyway.

There’s a Twitter game going around, #7Lines. The rules: Go to page 7 of your current WIP (page 7 of chapter 1, for those of you who, like me, start a new document for each chapter). Count down seven lines and post the NEXT seven lines (i.e., lines 8-15). Then tag seven writers to do the same.

“None of them know yet,” I pointed out.  “The only people who were in the room when he said it were Dr. Rosansky and I.”

“We can’t keep something like that secret,” Celeste said.

“I think at the very least we ought to talk about it,” I said.

“No, I don’t mean shouldn’t, I mean can’t,” she replied.  “Think about it.  This ship isn’t that big.  There are eight of us.  Unless we’re talking about keeping these people confined to quarters for the entire way back home there is no way that the five of us can keep a secret that big from the other three for the entire trip home.  If we’re even blowing orbit, which I’m not convinced is a good idea anyway.”

“We’re not going home?” Kathryn said.

“Later,” Celeste said.  “The math is…complicated.  I want to talk things over with Zub and Haipeng before we make any decisions about that.  We should be safe in orbit.”

“That’s what the Tycho thought,” I said.  “And no doubt the Shenzhou XIV, too.”

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Because I haven’t done a #cooking post in a while…

CNxHYtLUcAESoz1I made blueberry risotto for dinner tonight, using a Facebook post from an old friend and this recipe as inspiration.  Changes were minor, mostly involving using more blueberries than the recipe called for (a full pint initially and then another half-cup or so as garnish afterwards; I don’t think you can really overdo the blueberries in this dish) and using heavy cream instead of light cream, since no grocery store in Indiana knows what the hell light cream is.  After tasting it, I endorse this change; I don’t think it would have been creamy enough without the extra fat content.

Basically: melt 3 tablespoons of butter and sauté a diced onion in it at medium or medium-low heat for a couple of minutes.  Meanwhile, have 6-7 cups of vegetable stock (chicken would be fine too) at a boil in a nearby pot.  Add 2 cups of arborio rice and stir until golden-brown, which shouldn’t take more than another couple of minutes.  Add 3/4 cup of white wine, stir again until the liquid is gone, then add the blueberries.  Start adding stock about half a cup or 3/4 of a cup at a time, and don’t worry too much about the amounts.  You’re basically stirring in between each dose of stock until the majority of the liquid is gone– the rule of thumb I use is that if I can split the rice in half with the spoon and it takes more than 2-3 seconds to merge back together again it’s time for another dose of liquid.  Once all the liquid is absorbed– which means 25 minutes or so of constant stirring, probably– taste the rice to make sure it’s done.  Actually, you should probably be tasting it along the way so you don’t overcook.  Don’t worry about adding more stock or even water if you’re out.

Once the rice is done, add some more blueberries, half a cup of heavy cream, and half a cup of parmesan, and then whip the hell out of it, trying to spill as little of the cream as possible, for at least a couple of minutes.  Then?  Done.  I may fiddle with extra ingredients next time, as both my wife and I thought it needed something, but weren’t quite sure what, and add salt, pepper, and extra parmesan to taste.


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A Mild Rant you Shouldn’t Bother Reading (On Razors, Again)

power_imageIf you’ve been around for a while you might recall a bit of a saga where I flirted with using a safety razor for a while and then went back to shaving with my 5-blade Gillette Fusion like a person with some Goddamn sense.  The big knock against the Gillette cartridge razors and others like it is that they’re ruinously expensive, especially when compared against straight razors, safety razors, or cheap disposables.

The last time I bought cartridges, I labeled the little plastic things they come in.  I bought a 12-pack of cartridges on July 23rd of last year.  It cost me roughly $40 at Meijer; I note that I can get them for about $35 from Amazon if I wish.

I just yesterday loaded the last cartridge into my razor.  It will last at least three or four weeks.

I shave my head every three or four days and my face at least five or six days a week.  I will admit that I have a vandyke all the time and had a full beard for part of last year, but again: I shave my head.  Nothing chews up a cartridge razor like shaving your head, guys.  If I was just shaving my face every day the cartridges would have lasted longer.

This means that that $40 got me well over a year of comfortable shaves.  That’s about nine cents a day, depending on how long this last cartridge lasts.

I don’t want to hear any more about my goddamn five-blade razors, thank you very much.

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A #Scrivener help beg

The internet isn’t cooperating.  I love the hell out of Scrivener’s Compile feature, especially the way it builds the Table of Contents for me without me having to carefully hyperlink everything.  But:

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Does anyone know how to prevent it from actually adding the “Chapter Seventy” part in front of the chapter title?  Because it’s doing that throughout and I’d prefer that it not do that.  I’ve been fiddling and haven’t figured out what the problem is yet.

(EDIT: Figured it out, naturally.  Leaving the post up so you can get a gander at some chapter titles.)

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