Of numbers and sequels and spoiled chicken

I truly hope the way the morning began isn’t an indication of what the day holds for yours truly. I keep reminding myself that I am lucky that my mother, at 83, is in good health and still has all her faculties. Yes, I can see her slowing down and there are times when she might repeat something we discussed the day before. But, overall, she is still a strong, vibrant woman who is living life to the fullest. Of course, that almost came to an end this morning when I went out to clean the windshield of the car. I opened the car door and was assailed by an aroma that can only be described as “OMG, something crawled in here and died!” That stomach turning, nausea inducing stench that comes only from spoiled meat.

No, none of the local animals had taken up residence in our car. Fortunately. Not that it helps the stench any.

It seems that when Mom went to the store yesterday afternoon, she forgot that she’d put the sack with chicken breasts in it on the floorboard behind the drivers seat. That is never a good thing but it was compounded by the fact that here in the DFW area, we are having some very warm temperatures. So, after the car sat out in the sun for hours and then in the garage overnight, the chicken was well and truly ripe. Even now, almost an hour after finding it and after febreezing the heck out of the car and then washing up, I still smell that horrible odor. Please, don’t let that be a prelude to what is to come today.

Anyway, hopefully that excuses me for being late this morning with today’s post. Believe me, there is never enough coffee to prepare you for dealing with spoiled chicken in your car  😉

Numbers. Numbers are the bane and the lifeblood of authors. They represent how many books we’ve sold and are how we measure our success. That’s why, right now, so many authors are tearing their hair out and wondering what has happened the last few months. I can’t tell you the number of times on social media or in private conversations, I’ve been part of discussions about how numbers have plummeted. There are a number of different possible explanations: the back to school slump, folks not sure if they will have another paycheck so they’ve been cutting back on all spending, Amazon has been changing its algorithm again (not so much on how it reports sales but on how its search engine works) to the Kindle Unlimited Program taking sales away through lends.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but my numbers have traditionally been down August – October. So, while I worry about the lower numbers, I’m not going to panic — yet. The one thing I do know is that my lends under the KU Program often outnumber the sales on any given day. Part of me says this is a good thing. I still get paid for the lends and it means folks are looking at my work. But there’s another part of me that isn’t so sure. For one thing, even though I get paid, that payment is less per lend than I made under the KOLL program. For another, you don’t get paid under KU until someone has “read” a certain percentage of the book. So they can download the book today and not open it for months — or more — and you won’t be paid until that set amount is read. I will admit, I’ve been considering removing my books from the KU program to see if there is a “correction” of the trend of borrows vs. buys. I’m not sure yet and, to be honest, I probably won’t make the decision for another month or so. It simply isn’t in the top five — or even ten — things I need to do right now.

The first on my list of things to do is to finish the edits on Duty from Ashes, the next book in the Honor & Duty series. I hate editing at the best of time. I really hate editing books that are part of a series. Not only do you have to make sure the book you have just written doesn’t have any major plot holes — after all, it isn’t good to leave poor Joe hanging off the edge of the cliff at the end of Chapter Three and never get back to him — but you have to make sure your grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc., are all done properly. When a book is part of a series, you have to make sure you don’t change canon, without good cause, and that your characters are all called the same name and look the same from book to book. You have to make sure you don’t alter the terrain of your world or change major descriptions of the cities or countries where your story takes place.

I’ve found that it isn’t difficult to keep track of the details in series where your “world” is fairly small and you have a small(ish) cast of characters. But Duty from Ashes doesn’t fit that bill. It builds upon the events of Vengeance from Ashes and uses a number of the same characters — so far, so good — but then it adds characters and locales. Different branches of the military are represented as are different planetary governmental systems. There is some overlap with what we know regarding military structure but, because this is science fiction and it takes place at a different time and most definitely a different planet, there are differences.

Keeping track of all that, including the similarities and the differences re: the military, means editing is a much slower process than usual. I find myself referring not only to my notes, which include character descriptions, but also to the text of Vengeance. So far, I haven’t gone too far astray, but the concern is there. As a result, I find myself questioning things in my writing I wouldn’t under usual circumstances. I also find myself looking for distractions, including doing things I would normally never want to do. (For example, I caught myself yesterday emptying the kitchen cabinets and going through everything to see what we should keep, should give to my son and what should be donated.)

But, as an added distraction, my back brain has decided to come to the forefront. Specifically, that part of my brain that had been figuring out what to do with Nocturnal Challenge, the fourth and next to the last (possibly) book in the Nocturnal Lives series, has started shouting at me. It wants to to quit mucking about with the science fiction and get back to urban fantasy. It is very loud and stamps it foot and pouts when I don’t pay attention. Last week, I finally had to give in and take a day to take notes about the plot. So, as soon as I finish with the edits for Duty, I’ll start on Challenge. From there, well, other books await. I want to do at least one more book in the Hunter’s Moon series. I have a romantic suspense novel about halfway written. Then there is Honor from Ashes, the final book in the Honor & Duty trilogy. (I don’t know if there will be more books featuring Ash and company but I have a feeling there will be more books in that universe.)

In other words, I need to forget about the spoiled chicken and get back to work. Before I do, here’s the mandatory self-promotion bit that I all too often forget to put in.

coverforvfaVengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty)
written under the pen name of Sam Schall

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.

Nocturnal Origins (Nocturnal Lives Book 1)

nocturnaloriginscoveralternatenewSome things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.



27 thoughts on “Of numbers and sequels and spoiled chicken

  1. As a reader I can help with the slow down question. For the first time in my lifetime, 37, I’ve got more books to read than time. Example Amanda I have baught both the Nocturnal boxset and Ashes but haven’t had time to read them yet.
    Stardogs, is also waiting it’s turn. over 50 books all lined up and each fighting for the eyeball. I’ve had to stop buying and just keep a list here of books and series to buy. As readers you indies have spoilt us.

    1. Scott, I hadn’t thought about it, but you may be onto something. My TBR pile on the kindle is huge. I need to sort through it and figure out which books I really want to read and which ones will be read when I’ve run out of the others. Sigh.

  2. There’s so much seasonality to my sales that I’m forcing myself to sit on my hands and not change anything, so I know that the sales tanking was, or was not, seasonal. Last month? Lots of KU, a quarter of the usual sales. This week? Very few borrows, double the usual sales. Go figure. We’ll see if it keeps up.

    Pity your chicken came without entrails, but any predictions you’d have gotten from reading them probably would have _really_ stunk. 😉

    My sympathies on the car. If it’s sunny out, you might put it outside, with the windows down. A little UV never hurt anything. Except for fading colors and sunburns and . . .

    1. When I went to Amazon to check my total Kindle purchases, I saw that you have 2 books up that I don’t have yet. I’ll never catch up!

      1. BTW, a leaf blower (with all the junk out of the car and the doors open, of course) will get more dust out of the car than a Vacuum ever will.

  3. Not enough coffee, I wondered if “spoiled chicken” was a typo for “spoiled children”. [Grinning at self]

  4. As another reader, I’m in essentially the same boat as Scott. I just looked at the total unread epubs that I have uploaded to Google Play books, and the total Amazon Kindle books that I bought and have yet to read (I don’t own a Kindle, btw, I read them on my phone and tablet.), and the grand total is 278!
    I did not check the number of books on my Amazon wishlist. I also still have a wishlist at Smashwords, which I have not checked. When I look back on the dearth of new books to read when I was a teen, and compare it to the embarrassment of riches that I have now, all I can say is I love living in the future! And I want my own Tardis so I can finally have time to read All the Books!

    1. Naleta, I’m with you. I never had enough science fiction. Now I have too much to keep up with.

  5. Sympathies on the spoiled chicken. Earlier this year we lost most of the contents of the freezer. It was left just a little ajar when we left on a trip, and when we got back, the whole kitchen had that awful putrid odor. I went through and tossed everything the least bit suspicious, and then filled several jugs of water to freeze down for a thermal buffer until we could replace our lost stockpile. It took quite a bit of cleaning, including in some unexpected places, to get that awful odor out of the fridge. I want to get the whole fridge replaced, because it’s twenty years old and has some other mechanical problems, but we have a couple of major expenses in line ahead of it.

    1. I’d say that is a really good reason to get a new freezer but I understand the other expenses. Been there and doing that right now. My dishwasher is being held together with bubble gum and a prayer right now.

  6. While air is the best solution for nasty smells – Bicarbonate of soda is reputed to be quite good at absorbing them. Numbers… ai. I think it is part of the shakedown period the industry is going through, I believe we got a lot of entrants, not all of whom will stay the course, and that’ll start to balance out over the next while.

    1. Dave, I think you’re right and I think we are starting to see that. I need to go back and run the figures, but I have a feeling that every time Amazon announces a new program for its readers, numbers go wonky for a couple of months and then they level out.

  7. Sympathies on the spoiled chicken. Had six lamb chops I was planning to have fried up / grilled for dinner, pulled them out of the fridge, and … there was a hole in the plastic, and the packet had JUST gone off enough that the smell turned my stomach.

    It sadly affected my sense of taste for meat that night, and I couldn’t eat the steak that darling Hubby cooked up. Had scrambled egg and toast instead.

    The numbers that are plaguing my life right now involves the clock. *glares at it* Never enough time. Just when you think that you’ve got a flexible enough pace, you find Life decides to laugh at your schedules.

    1. Life laughs and throws up obstacles and then laughs harder — at least in my case. Sigh. There really are days I’d like to run away but I have a feeling life would just run after me and tackle me from behind.

  8. I anticipated the slump because of having to delay work on the release of the next Colplatschki book. But I’m still moving copies, which is better than last year. I anticipate things improving, and I’ve pretty much decided to pull _Elizabeth of Vindobona_ off K-Select tomorrow (the 90 day date), but will put _Elizabeth and Empire_ in for 90 days, just to see if there is any change in borrow vs. buy. I suspect the numbers will stay low enough that I’ll stay out of K-select after that, but we’ll see. I’ve averaged 8 sales for every borrow, give or take.

    I hear you with the hind-brain causing trouble. I sat down and started roughing out how I’m redoing a bunch of stuff into a Cat novel just so I could work on the WWI story. The WWI story that is demanding a LOT more research than I’d anticipated, but at least the second book should be a tad bit easier. And trying to get a non-fic reworked at the same time.

    1. Good luck. If you are like me, as soon as you say something like that, three more ideas attack and demand your IMMEDIATE attention. Sigh. Excuse me while I go beat a few plots down into silence again.

      1. I just looked at Origins. Well into five digits. And #23 on the Werewolves and Shifters category.

        The Sam Schall book is up in the same territory.

        Those two you can look at.

  9. The whole “putrid odor in car” syndrome is why I seldom accept doggie bags at restaurants, even though I can rarely finish the whole meal. Depending on the season, hours to days later, I’m wondering what crawled in and died!

    Hope the life events take a turn for the better!

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