thanksgiving: thankful for wonder

for the wonder of the sky, the land, the everywhere, the people who have been, are

will be part of my one



I am thankful

and for the “blue true dream of sky”


as e.e. cummings put it in that certain e.e. cummings way

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginably You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Happy Thanksgiving and Hanukah, All

T.S. Eliot and Swag

English: Thomas Stearns ('T.S.') Eliot with hi...

English: Thomas Stearns (‘T.S.’) Eliot with his sister and his cousin, by Lady Ottoline Morrell (died 1938). See source website for additional information. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First edition cover

First edition cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of nights a ago I pulled out the copy of T.S. Eliot’s COLLECTED POEMS 1909-1962, the copy I had in college, and wondered why I liked him so much back then. Wondered why I was wondering/What the fascination was with this highly affected/Beyond self-indulgent/Narcissistic to an extent that would wilt the narcissism of kings. All kings.

At least he was a total pessimist, solipsistic and dreary. (Explains his appeal to collegiate humanities majors).

Now and again there still seem to me to be some good things. Mostly they occur in his “minor” pieces, and who cannot like OLD POSSUM’S BOOK OF PRACTICAL CATS? Clearly, this was a cat person as a dog would not even have let him in a dog’s house. Dogs are real and open and honest even when they bite. Cats never are. Reflective dissembling is a feline’s stock and trade.

There are many good lines, an occasional image nicely turned, a well-crafted phrase, perhaps overly crafted (And through the spaces of the dark/Midnight shakes the memory/As a madman shakes a dead geranium). Now, he is for eternity interred with his beloved English worms: “This is the way the world ends/This is the way the world ends/This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper.” (The Hollow Men).

So un-Faulknerian, that, Faulkner who stated emphatically his belief that man would not merely endure, but prevail. Maybe. Nice to believe, anyway. Were I to pick a single Eliot line for sign-off, it would be: “And the end of all our exploring/Will be to arrive where we started/And know the place for the first time.” (Four Quartets, Little Gidding).

Swag, you know that stuff you find at writers conferences and signings, ballpoints and keychains and bookmarks, postcards and business cards promoting an author’s latest contribution to the ever-growing mound of literary history. What’s it worth? Does it do any good? Has anyone bought a book because of it? Maybe. Is it cost effective? I’d bet against it. That said, I just bought 250 business cards with my website image on one side and my book cover on the other. And three mugs. One for my mother, and extras. Looking at the mugs makes me feel almost important. Not quite, but close. My mother will like hers, however, and will show it to her friends. That’s what makes a $2 mug worth $9.50.

I wonder what sort of swag Eliot would have given were he a swag-giver. Mugs, T-shirts, baseball caps. Unlikely. Engraved lighters, cigars, pipes, tobacco, Armagnac…maybe. A pack of pipe cleaners? I could see that. Faulkner would have swagged Bourbon. I’m sure of that.

William Faulkner, 1954

William Faulkner, 1954 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

Ebook pricing, Jerry Jeff Walker, Taxing Marijuana, Blue Dream and ONE MINUTE GONE

“Last week I was thinkin, it’s record time again…”

Which is what Jerry Jeff would think, whereas I would think it’s blogging time again…

Or maybe time to listen to

London Homesick Blues again images

It seems my neuroantennae have begun channeling Jerry Jeff Walker. If I had a choice, I’m not sure that’s whom I would choose to have speaking into my brain in the morning when I wake, but there are definitely worse, even in Texas. Especially in Texas. Ted Cruz comes to mind. I wish he  didn’t.

ONE MINUTE GONE  one_minute_gone_cover_largedh3

For years, medical marijuana has been available in Colorado, as it should be everywhere, IMHO, with a doctor’s approval, but effective January 1st, it will be available on a retail basis, without a doctor’s note. As it should be, IMHO. Not that doctors’ notes are hard to come by. They’re not. You just need some sort of medical condition. Chronic pain or anxiety will do nicely. Last week Colorado voters authorized a tax on retail marijuana that could go as high as 30%, maybe higher, as some local authorities want to add an additional tax. I don’t have a problem with that as long as the retail price, including tax, remains below the street level (illegal) strike point although retail availability may drive the street price down. From an economics standpoint it will be interesting to watch. One thing that has already happened is that Colorado is reaping something of an economic windfall as people move here, including a lot of baby boomers, to take advantage of the availability of regulated, high-quality pot. You know exactly what you are buying, whether it’s Indica or Sativa or a hybrid, and what the THC and CBD content are. It’s like going into a liquor store, or a good wine store, except the other patrons in an MMJ dispensary are more likely to be someone you would want to hang out with. Right, I am speaking for myself now.

The only other issue I have with the tax is that some of the locales that have prohibited retail sales (that’s fine, their privilege) want to participate in the revenue from the tax. That’s stupid. It’s even worse than the NIMBY (not in my backyard) syndrome, because it’s NIMBY-but-if-you-do-it-in-your-backyard and make money on it I want some. Remember The Little Red Hen? No one would help her plant the seed, harvest, etc., but everyone was willing to help her eat the bread? Same deal.

So what does all of this have to do with ebook pricing strategy? I haven’t figured that out, yet. Probably nothing. But in my last post I said the next would be on ebook pricing strategy so here it is:

How do you price your self-published ebook? As cheaply as possible. You’re not going to make much money, if any, until it starts to sell a lot of copies and the most important thing is to get it out there and into the hands of AMRAP. As many readers as possible. As fast as possible. Mine is at 99 cents. The same is true if you have a print-on-demand trade paperback. I set mine at $8.99, which is barely break-even, but Amazon is selling it today at $7.64, cutting the difference out of their share.

That’s about all I have to say about that. But if you come to Colorado, you can get really good marijuana cheap. Not as cheap as my ebook, but still cheap. If you buy my ebook for .99, or the POD for $7.50, you can also get an eighth of an ounce of something really good from an MMJ dispensary, like Blue Dream or Alaskan Thunderf**k for $25-30. There’s no connection between the two purchases, of course, I’m just saying… Get both and you’ll probably be happier. I know I will.


The Future of Editing: Beta Readers and Agile Publishing

As discussed in a previous post, the single greatest barrier to producing a quality Indie book may be Editing. Unless it’s Marketing or Writing the Damn Book in the first place. This is a very good piece on the topic.



How and Where Should You Publish?

A Porter Hall Novel

The first question you will have to answer is are you going to publish in ebook, print, or both? The definitive answer is: It depends. First it depends on what type of book you are publishing, mainstream fiction, genre fiction, a cookbook, a guidebook, a how-to book, a self-help book. The first question you must answer is, Who is your audience? How will they use your book? For example, someone buying a cookbook may care more about a hard copy than someone reading genre fiction.

If you want a print edition, you have one big decision. Print-on-demand or a print run and inventory? That question turns into a choice between Amazon’s CreateSpace, or Bookbaby or similar? The answer (again): It depends. Will your readers primarily be buying online, or will you be going around to clubs and events selling and signing. If it’s the latter, you should may want to go with Bookbaby, or Outskirts, or Blurb, or anyone of a number of similar sites that let you do a print run of anywhere from twenty-five to several thousand. You can also order in bulk through Amazon POD. If you do a print run, however, you have to pay for it in advance, manage the inventory and take care of sales and distribution.

I chose CreateSpace for my initial publication for one simple reason: Print On Demand. That means readers who want a print version of my book can order it from Amazon. Right now it’s selling for about $8. I make less than a dollar per copy, but I priced it that way to (hopefully) stimulate sales. The Kindle version is .99, right now. I can reset the price at any time. It takes about five minutes. Amazon prints and ships in whatever quantity is ordered, and the POD is available for delivery within 24 hours, generally.  I don’t have to purchase inventory, maintain it, or ship it. If I want to send sign copies to friends, reviewers, or a reader who requests one, I buy it, have it sent to me, then reship it. Media mail, the least expensive way to ship, costs about $3.

Kindle, Cobo, Nook, etc.? Which format should you chose? All of them, probably. I believe within the year we will see a slow eradication of formats and eventually there will be either one standard ebook format, or all devices will accept all formats. The reason is that tablets, computers and smartphones already do, and the dedicated devices, primarily Kindle, Nook and Cobo, become superfluous in the face of something like an Android tablet or iPad, which can read everything, and do more than either, at the same price or less. I had my car broken into in April and one of the things stolen was my Kindle. I replaced it with a 7-inch Samsung tablet, which is far more useful. Right now my book, ONE MINUTE GONE, is available only on Kindle because of some promotional tools Amazon offers if it is exclusive to them. Within a week I’m going to open it up to all formats. I’ll let you know how that goes.

NEXT: Pricing strategy.

Please visit my website at


Self-publishing is not hard, but there is more to it than you might think unless you’ve actually done it. This series is not about telling you how to do it, but telling you how I did it, what I went through. In most cases, what you will go through will be similar to my experience in getting my first novel, ONE MINUTE GONE, live on Amazon in both ebook and trade paperback forms.

There are a lot service providers, platforms and sites that will help you self-publish. Below is the list of my providers. It doesn’t matter who you use, or which platforms you choose, but these are the essential pieces of self-publishing.

INTERNAL FORMATTING, TYPESET & COVER DESIGN: This is the process of converting your Word file, or whatever word processor your finished manuscript is in, to a form, generally a PDF, that will become your book between the covers. In addition to your novel, or whatever the content is, you will probably want to add a copyright page, acknowledgements, dedication, and author bio. Keith Snyder at did all of this for me. Because Keith is a talented graphic designer I had him do my cover, though generally the internal setup and cover design come from separate sources. Keith is a mystery author himself, but does a wide range of designs for children, YA, sports, poetry, etc. His prices are reasonable, he’s professional, prompt, and easy to work with. In addition to the formatting for print, as part of the package, Keith also formatted mine for Kindle and other ebook vendors.

COVER ART: I purchased the rights to a photo of Lower Manhattan from I first found it on another photo bank, which was selling it for more than I wanted to pay. After half an hour of scanning, I finally found the same photo in iStock for a third of what the other site was asking. Keith modified it and turned it into—what I think—is a terrific cover. Of course, you can do your cover yourself, but, unless you are a talented designer, it will look amateurish. When you are selling online, your cover is one of your most important promotional tools.

WEBSITE DESIGN AND MAINTENANCE: You really need a website, and you can do it yourself. Generally (see COVER ART), that’s a bad idea. I used Maddee James at Maddee is unbelievably good, which is why she has a waiting list. She was a dream to work with. She used to do only crime fiction, but has recently expanded to romance and YA. Check out my website,, and then go to and look at some of Maddee’s other client sites.

NEXT: CHOOSING A PLATFORM: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookbaby, etc. And how do you PRICE YOUR BOOK, the ebook and the hardcopy?