Monthly Archives: April 2016

Worldwide sale means thirteen Kindle marketplaces



Okay; I promised myself this one when my brain-fogged brain figured out that Kindle Countdown Deals are only available for the UK and the US: have a sale EVERYONE who has access to a Kindle or Fire device (or app) can take advantage of.

Amazon is not to blame; country regulations are to blame. At some point in the future, maybe France’s arcane regulations will allow online Countdown sales; don’t hold your breath – the French (or should I say the French government, for good or ill) have all kinds of regulations designed to keep prices for books high, digital books out of the marketplace, and bookstores in business.

It’s their country – their laws and rules and taxes.

The only time it’s my problem is when I wanted to hold a Kindle Countdown Deal for Pride’s Children in France.

I can, sort of, but I will be manually changing the prices daily (and hoping Amazon, which was very fast when I did it today, would continue to be fast – they don’t guarantee it). And I wouldn’t have the cute little Countdown deal image that goes on the product page, and tells people time is running out.

WAY too much trouble for moi.

*So that everyone who has access gets a sale (which ends May 1):

New authors need READERS, REVIEWERS, and RECOMMENDERS at the beginning far more than they need revenue; the small business that is a single-practitioner press (Trilka Press for me) has to become known, and that takes marketing and advertising and sometimes annoying everyone you know, on and off Twitter and Facebook.

(In fact, if you’ve heard this one before and have no interest, just skip the rest of this post.)

If the practitioner is slow, like me, the usual indie recommendation – write more books – is just another annoying thing ‘they’ say, with no bearing on your real life. Because you can’t.

Therefore, you want to make sure you don’t neglect anyone – which brings us to the following thirteen links for the marketplaces where Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) sells mobi (and paper?) versions of your book if you  set yourself up in business with Mr. Bezos.

How to do your own sale:

Nobody told me – I think they must have assumed I knew. Nope. Newbie here. Just figured it out this month: I can do my own sale. In India. Or Canada. And Mexico, Australia, Brazil, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, the US, and the UK.

But I have to do the work (I did: I checked out every link personally – they are not all carbon copies of each other with a tiny bit changed).

IF you have always wanted your own personal copy of Pride’s Children: PURGATORY, but you live in Mexico, today is your lucky day. You WILL need an account with the appropriate Amazon, but then you can even buy it cheap, and leave it on their website until you eventually break down and buy a Kindle. Or get the Kindle app for your iPhone or desktop or laptop or iPad – or wherever you consume your digital breakfast.

At this point I’m not even going to nag you to read it (next week).

But I can’t do this very often – you guys want me writing NETHERWORLD, not futzing about running sales for PURGATORY, right? It takes more time and energy than you realize getting all these details right (not sure I have!), and it has to come from the ‘good time’ I have relatively little of.

I read the self-publishing blogs daily, and stay current, and ESPECIALLY pay attention to ‘things that can go wrong if you mess up’ and don’t pay attention. Trust me – I can mess things up so bad I don’t know if I can straighten them out.

The links (finally – she is going to stop talking and cut to the links!) for the 0.99-equivalent sale ‘worldwide’:

PLEASE be so kind as to let me know if ANYTHING doesn’t work. You guys were WAY too kind to mention before that the sales weren’t available in Australia and the others – and I never meant to leave you out.

If you don’t want to buy Pride’s Children or read it – that’s absolutely fine, I’m very clearly not everyone’s taste, as so many people have kindly told me lately, some MUCH more nicely than others.

I’d love to hear 1) if I’m doing anything wrong, and 2) what your experience as a reader or writer and sales was like.

** Many thanks to Stencil for the ability to make a few images a month free – they have a lot to offer and it is VERY easy to use. If you make a lot of image quotes, get the paid version.

You like a writer’s style and voice – or you don’t


let fiction bloomEDITING? REALLY?

Way back in the dark ages, I submitted the manuscript (digiscript?) of Pride’s Children to an organization dedicated to vetting indie novelists, and giving them a ‘Seal of Approval’ which could be used on the cover of their novel to indicate ‘quality’ or ‘goodness’ or ‘lack of indie crap content.’ I will call them XXX.

And then I forgot all about it.

I just received their reply, a reply to which I take a great deal of umbrage.

Here is their email:

Dear Alicia,

I regret to inform you that your book Pride’s Children did not gain XXX approval. Our assessor said that though the book had an interesting premise, it would need a thorough line edit before it could be considered for approval.

In particular, she found the following issues:

Extreme overuse of incomplete sentences to the point where it becomes a repetitive sentence structure.


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Is literary fiction a category or a quality?


Do you even have a choice?

I’m not sure exactly why, but I have found every single one of my careful decisions, made during five years of deliberations and reading the blogs, questioned lately.

  • Cover
  • Pricing
  • Style and voice
  • Book length
  • Category
  • Marketing

By people who know better, know what they like, know what I need and should be using.

Okay, in some cases I actually asked. So I deserve what I got for insecurity.

But none of it has helped: I have not been able to nod wisely and say, “Thank you – that’s just what I needed.” Too stubborn. Too pigheaded. Too ME.

So I trundle on, and have the nerve to enjoy it.

Note to myself from a while back:

“It seems ‘literary’ is going to have to be my Amazon category – the other ones just don’t work for me.

Emphasize the characterization and the loving detailing of the thoughts of the three main characters, and maybe I’ll sell more.”

I’ve been fighting this. Choosing my style of writing and my voice keeps getting me in trouble with the ‘cognoscenti’ (new post on the Pride’s Children site on editors who don’t get it, but feel free to pronounce sentence anyway – and yes, the pun is intentional).

‘Literary’ can be pretentious.

Literary goes from sublime to ridiculous as a category. Many, many books have a literary quality which goes far above and beyond the words needed to simply tell the story. I would put such classics as Dune into the literary quality category – and definitely leave Dan Brown’s books out.

‘Literary’ can interfere with plot, slowing down a story to the proverbial snail’s pace to admire the local flora and fauna. With pretty words and swooping sentences. When I find myself skimming, and then skipping, large chunks of description with no greater point than ‘close observation,’ I know I’ve run into the kind I don’t like. Your mileage may vary.

The kicker: how to categorize your fiction on Amazon so readers can find it?

Literary is, of what’s offered as a genre, the closest. ‘General fiction’ could be anything.

And yet what I’m NOT full of is literary allusions, and I don’t need my readers to have a MFA degree to be able to read my writing. You may skip the more literary epigraphs at the beginnings of my chapters with relative impunity, though they’re put there for a reason. When my negative reviewer (so far) wrote in her review, “The number of quotations before each chapter was overkill – for the most part they only made sense to me after the chapter had been read.” – I did a fist pump, because that is the exact reason they are the way they are. She didn’t like it – her prerogative – but like everything else I do, it was INTENTIONAL.

I’m going to get excoriated for pretentiousness if I claim to write literary indie, and want to make a small corner for myself in literary writing, but the truth is that I was brought up (by myself) reading the classics – because that is what was available.

When I taught myself to write, I spent a lot of time with quality teachers such as Sol Stein, to learn how to give a sentence or a phrase the nuance that goes beyond writing fast.

This doesn’t mean the thesaurus is my best friend, because if most of your readers don’t understand your language, what’s the point?

Keeping this up:

For Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD, I don’t seem to be doing anything different this time around. It was a long time between finishing Book 1 (PURGATORY), and being ready to revise the rough draft of Book 2 (NETHERWORLD) – almost exactly a year – but the new scenes are coming back to the same process as if I had never stopped.

This is good, because I want the trilogy to feel as ‘of a piece.’ Pride’s Children was planned as a unit, and if I had been a faster writer, would have been published as one. A very long one. But I think CreateSpace has a limit to how fat a trade paperback can be, and the three volumes in one binding would not have been a possibility.

But I have not, cannot, and will not change my voice and style – I don’t have that kind of energy or self-control. It is what it is.

Mental Dialysis, slow CFS brain, and extreme resting



‘Brain fog’ slows the thinking process to a standstill. Other than the passage of time, is there anything else you can do to get rid of it?

I call it ‘Mental Dialysis.’

‘The passage of time’ simply means to keep doing what you’re doing, at less and less brain efficiency, until it’s time to go to bed – and hope for better tomorrow.

Brains are live things. They think and messages go to and fro in an odd manner: along a nerve fiber, the conduction is electrical; when you get to the end of the axon, the leap is made across a synapse, and that leap is chemical – a release and diffusion and reception on the other side of neurotransmitters; the next never goes electrical again; and so on until the message reaches its intended target (a memory cell, an action cell, a pain sensor, a happiness sensor…).

Slow brain syndrome – a gummed up brain

Well, mine don’t work very fast much of the time. My guess would be that the part that is messed up is at the synaptic gap, and has to do with any of the parts of the transmission process, from creating and releasing the little burst of neurotransmitters, to diffusion across the gap, to the speed with which the receptors can process the chemical message.

One of the things that affects this process is whatever synaptic fluid is IN that gap, and what it contains.

Normally, the fluid is scrubbed of ‘the products of thinking’ on a regular basis, cleaning the fluid of extraneous debris, so the neurotransmitters can float across again.

Where’s the holdup?

CFS brains can have trouble at any of the three steps. I don’t know if production of neurotransmitters has as much trouble in the CFS person as production of energy from food – but I think that is not the problem, as my lack of energy is continuous, and I have no aerobic capacity (where the process speeds up because the demand does).

But I’m pretty sure that the debris is not removed nearly as quickly from the CFS brain/synapse fluid as in normal people.

Possibly there is inflammation (it’s been theorized inflammation in the brain is a continuous state for us), and the physical SPACE the fluid occupies is such as to make cleaning it take longer because the fluid can’t move around well.

And one of the interesting things that went through my Science News recently was a report of mice who got examined when they were so relaxed they fell asleep – and noticing that their brain cells shrunk a bit, and the spaces between got correspondingly larger, and – the important part – debris was cleared away from the fluid FASTER.

How does extreme resting help?

I think that’s what’s going on during my ‘naps.’ I am doing two things simultaneously:

1) not putting any MORE debris into the fluid, because I shut down thinking, and more importantly, sensory input such as visual and auditory information, and physical tasks which the brain runs such as getting around and using your motor skills, which create a lot of brain debris and uses a lot of your brain’s capacity (think of shutting down several programs on your computer because the one you want to use seems to be running slow if the others are in the background, chewing up CPU time), and

2) giving the brain more room for the fluid, and no competing processes to catching up with the clearing away of debris (a lower level task than thinking or looking).

I call this my ‘mental dialysis’ time: no input plus conditions which promote dejunking.

I ALWAYS wake up/get up from these ‘naps’ with more capacity than I had when I forced myself to lie down (what adult likes being forced to take 3-5 naps a day?).

After mental dialysis, the brain works better – for a while

SOMETHING has happened, and I can now think MORE clearly than when I lay down.

We do some of this every night during sleep, but then wake up and overload the system just by figuring out who we are and what we were doing yesterday and what we have to do now and tomorrow and we’re hungry and we have to get moving…

In computer analog terms, I stop running all but the essential programs, and let the CPU run all its little cleanup programs and memory reclamation and reorganizing and cache cleanout and… that are usually in the background and need to be rolled in and out when there is a little bit of free time.

And then my brain/computer is more efficient – for a while.

And why is this so hard to use?

Because I’m an adult, making decisions with a brain that is tired and in no mood or capacity for more decisions.

The decision to go lie down and block out the world, JUST as it seems I might be waking up (a lie), and only because 2.5 hours have passed, is counter-intuitive – even after 27 years of battling CFS (not quite as many of knowing how the mental dialysis works). It sounds like this to my inner child: “Why do I have to go to bed? It’s too early, and all the other kids are still out playing.”

I’m working on it (my attitude). It’s nap time. See you all later!


*Image is from Wikipedia article on synapses, Creative Commons license.

The indie author’s artistic integrity is prime


I am in an odd position. Someone said something about my cover, in a negative way, claiming they said it as ‘tough love.’ As a ‘friend.’ It hurt – because I am very proud of that cover. To have someone suggest, literally, that ‘I still think you’re shooting yourself in the foot with that cover. I’m pretty sure that a mediocre but professional looking cover will outsell a far more evocative but still obviously home-made effort every time.’

For the record, I disagree.

I had to think about it. To figure out why the response was so visceral to something meant kindly.

Bad covers are UBIQUITOUS

I knew, when I created them, that my two placeholder covers were ‘bad.’ Definitely amateur. But I hadn’t yet done ANY studying about design or cover elements or what a cover telegraphs to a potential reader. I knew those were not going to be published, because I also knew I was going to spend the time to learn how to do covers properly.

As I have taught myself to write properly.

But the comment was about the actual cover I published, and for which I spent an entire summer studying graphics and design and covers, and reading books and blog posts. After accumulating at least a year of studying the CONCEPT of ‘cover’ and of looking over the sites of many ‘professional’ cover producers – not one of which I liked. There were plenty of covers in that sample – thousands that I looked at. I added new sites every time a blogger I respect suggested a cover designer.

I’m not even going to mention bad traditional covers; that is shooting guppies in a teacup.

CAN an indie learn cover design?

In the same way I found ONE photo of a woman out of the thousands that I looked at which would do. At ALL. Because of nuance I would never be able to explain (to anyone except a professional photographer I then wouldn’t be able to afford).

The cover I compared to every set of covers I could find on the books I believe are my ‘comps,’ the ones I want to sell with, and whose audience I believe will like my work. And compared to every set of covers I did NOT want (from too literary to too Romance to definitely genres like SF, fantasy, mysteries, and thrillers). Because if you signal ‘Romance’ to a reader, you had better be providing a proper Romance between the covers, or you’ve already lost the marketing war.


More and more I’m believing that the choices in the indie world are UP TO THE AUTHOR. And they REPRESENT the author. That the whole thing, beginning to end, is an exercise in learning what choices to make, in making those choices, and in standing by those choices because you ARE the Author. The artist. The creative. The creator.

If you choose to use a commercial editor – with all that entails, from finding one to paying one to accepting the edits – it is your choice, it was hard enough to make, and no one has the right to second-guess you.

If you choose a cover, you yourself will decide exactly what you want, even if that means you want to abdicate the responsibility for the cover to someone else. Or you want to learn Pixelmator and do it all YOUR way. Or you want to paint an image from the book. Or you want pale blue letters on a black background, or yellow on green, or WHATEVER.

The COVER is part and parcel with the BOOK now.

I’m starting to believe that when the author gives someone else responsibility for or authority over a part of the production, whether or not money is involved, it is the author’s choice to do so, and the author’s right to revoke that when and if the AUTHOR decides that is necessary. And it is a precious gift.

Whether or not the results SELL is not the validation. It is how the author FEELS about whether the product represents the best the author can do (assuming that’s the goal) that validates.

Now, more than ever before, when you buy an author’s product, you are getting the PURE author, warts and all, artistic judgment and artistic sensibility and esthetic sense all rolled up into a big ball of product. The consumer may like or dislike it, occasionally even returning the product for a refund; the consumer may give the product a bad review – reviews are up to the consumer.

This product has always had the writer’s name right there front and center.

[Whether the writer was a pseudonym or a ghostwriter has never mattered to READERS. And few people even notice the publisher’s name or logo.]

But other people don’t have the right to judge the product – the book – per se. They only have the right to say, “I liked it.” Or, “I didn’t like it.” They will never have the right to say, “It’s wrong.”


How do you feel about the covers you see, if you’re a reader; or have on your own books if you’re a writer, too – whether or not you design them yourself?

Pride’s Children is on Kindle Countdown SALE!

PC1 3D front


The Kindle Countdowns for the US and UK (sale for other marketplaces to follow on April 27 – I’ll let you know again) is announced on the books’ site with a few more details.

Please tell all your friends.

OR go directly to the Amazon US and Amazon UK sites.