Plotter or pantser? Planner or improviser? And does it matter when you’re living atop of a volcano, in the path of a hurricane?

Oh, you mean other people’s lives haven’t always been like that? I swear anything I accomplish, anything I get done is over and around the howling storm. At least now I’m not all alone, and everyone is staring at the howling beast bearing down on us.

No, I take that back, I’d much rather it swallowed me alone than the Republic. I sit in bed every night, unraveling my life to the most remote memories, and wondering what could I have done different. Could I have stopped this in the seventies? eighties? Nineties?

I’m fairly sure I’m not alone doing this. It’s made me understand all those WWII era movies, the intensity in people’s faces. You’ve seen it coming, but you never thought it really would…. and now…. well. Now.

And then you think, “It’s okay. I mean, I’m fairly useless for any kind of action beyond passing on my erratic ideas and the knowledge and ideas of others, better informed, right?” So, I have book that reverted and are being edited and going through copy-edits. And I’m almost done with books.

People under horrible stress need books, right?

So, I’ll edit and put up books, and as a bonus, maybe I can make enough money to leave doomed Colorado before we lose everything and–

Oh, Amazon, what did you do that for?

Full disclosure here: I’ve been an Amazoniac since its year zero, for the simple reason that I found I could order books that never showed up on the shelves of my local bookshops.

Most of the discretionary money we’ve spent for the last … over twenty years went to Amazon. Particularly after they added grocery subscription. I don’t like shopping. Yes, I know that makes me an unnatural woman. It makes my husband laugh. But the way I cope with it doesn’t. You see, I hated it so much, even before masks, I was likely to rush into the store like a lunatic, grab the first thing that looked like what I wanted and bring it home. I’ve bought lard for ice-cream. I’ve bought wrong brand/ingredients of practically everything under the sun. I’ve bought clothes three sizes too large and with weird patterns. I am what is technically known, in the field, as a shopping moron.

So, you can see where Amazon was a miracle. I could order stuff, without having to go to the — ick — store and it showed up at the door.

And then there was the kindle. And ebooks. And KU. which not only gave me the ability to binge-read, but to read — let’s face it — things I’d never buy. For instance, while under terrible stress I binge-read Pride and Prejudice fanfic. Some is pretty good. Some is awful. None is something I’d actually pay for. But as part of a membership free, I can use it to keep myself from running screaming into the night and not feel guilty. It’s also good for trying out new authors, or finding that weird reference work I’m only going to need for a short story. For the price it’s a bargain.

And I guess some people feel that way about my work, because it makes me about 80% to 90% of the money I make.

So, I was all happy with the reversals of books I never thought I’d see again, and…. there’s that Eagles lyric going through my head “What do you do when your dreams come true, and it’s not quite like you planned?”

Again, I’ve been aware a long time that the owner of the Washington Post is a political idiot. On the other hand, it really didn’t intrude in the business. Everything he was guilty of including running his mouth was the same for other services/bookstores/online stores. Sometimes worse. So I felt relatively clean.

Now– well.

I”m not abandoning Amazon. I’m not abandoning Amazon ebooks to be precise. Because let’s face it the greatest beneficiaries of the indie revolution are people who are not …. what the big publishers want in terms of politics. To boycott Amazon ebooks would cost Amazon a tinny tiny percentage of its income, but it would clobber a lot of liberty-loving authors.

And I’ll continue to publish with them — for now — because there really aren’t decent alternatives for indie. Yes, sure, B & N, Smashwords, Kobo. B&N has the world’s most horrible search algorithm. If I put my books there, they’ll make me tens of dollars a month. Tens! Smashwords, the owner is a raving Stalinist loon, his interface sucks, because promoting politics is more important than…. you know improving an interface mired in the 90s, Kobo has almost no market reach in the US. I could make a good five dollars a month there.

And, no, for disambiguation, since apparently when I explained this on instapundit I got suggestions for small presses who would love to have me, for novels — unless you’re really really averse to publishing your own, which I’m not — small presses don’t help. Unless you’re writing in someone else’s universe, or it’s an anthology, a small press is going to place the books exactly where you are as an indie writer: amazon. And that’s it. The only difference is they’ll do copyedits and covers, and I can contract or do those. It’s no big.

In either case, the big market is still Amazon. And yeah, I know people working to replace it with something different. A lot of people. And one or two of these are likely to actually be good and have a fighting chance against the ‘zon.

But at this time, in this place it feels dirty. And I wonder how many of my fans will now refuse to buy from Amazon, and how much this is going to cost my great, planned new releases.

I’m looking for solutions. One of them, which will keep me focused through the turmoil, is to create a newsletter which mails my daily or weekly output to the paid subscribers. Think of it as e-arcs on the installment plan, though I’ll glady do a compilation at the end.

There is a friend considering creating a service to do this, too.

You know, it’s not so much the tornado bearing down, it’s the feeling I and all my friends — even those I haven’t talked to in months and who email me out of the blue to say “this is an unpredictable inflection point” — have that after this tornado everything will be upended.

It stands to reason, right? When everything is corrupt, everything must be replaced.

And the feeling that over the next tree four years we’re all going to be tumbling through job and location and where we shop and everything else turmoil.

I do have a feeling we come out of this all right, on the other end. But I also have a feeling that me now won’t recognize the landscape on the other side. Because, you know, things were already changing at a catastrophically fast pace before idiots attempting to impose a nineteenth century ideology on us destroyed everything, forcing it to speed up more to find equilibrium.

I feel as though I’m looking at the howling storm, and on the other end we who love liberty survive, but….. what will the world look like? where will we shop, eat, work?

I don’t know. And neither do you. And this disturbs me, because while I’m not a planner, neither am I an improviser. As with writing I kind of feel the shape of the future and aim for that.

Only I can’t see through the howling storm.

A couple of times in my life I’ve had books that come like this, and I have to write into the dark.

Well, now, I have to live into the dark.

And hope there’s light on the other side.


  1. It’s always dark underground. That’s where we are now, beneath the notice of the censor and the scolds. Hope and the memory of light is what we’ve got to see our way through.

    Well, that and a lot of hard work to do. The work is infinite and eternal, whether it is rebuilding a nation or washing clothes or… writing books. If nothing else, apocalypse fiction and popcorn novels will likely do well in the coming four years. Red Tide Rising (to shamelessly steal from Ringo) perhaps? *chuckle* I mean, there *are* zombies among us…

  2. For a while I kicked in $3 a month through Patreon to an author who had caught my attention. In exchange I got weekly updates to the work in progress. Then he got “woke” and when he wrapped up the WIP I terminated that Patreon arrangement. I mention it because I did learn that he had something like 5k followers with the same or even higher monthly contribution, and upwards of $15k per month ain’t exactly chump change.
    As for Amazon and groceries, I discovered last week that they had done away with their Prime Pantry program. They still sell foodstuff but no longer offer the option to fill a box with single items, leaning now towards the same things in bulk quantities. May have something to do with all the chain supermarkets getting into the act with their versions of pickup and home delivery.

  3. Does anyone else here remember the late Marshall Fritz, founder of the Advocates for Self-Government? I met him in 1987, at a convention in California. We spoke of many things, but what he said that’s resonated most powerfully with me is this: The thing the liberty movement lacks that it needs the most is hope.

    Hope is what Americans — the real sort, not the kind who advocate Stalinist policies and when called on it scream “How dare you question my patriotism!” — need most of all today. We may not have much influence on the national mood, we indies, but we can at least provide our readers with stories that will buttress their hopes. It may be a small contribution by cosmic standards, but it’s more than nothing.

      1. Here’s a piece of hope: Nine days. That’s it all it took for the Romanian Revolution, from protests to execution of Nicolae Ceaușescu and the crumbling of his regime.

    1. Yup — I knew him as an advocate of the “Separation of School and State.” Back when I was in the middle of the Christian school movement in California. What we expected then has come to fruition now. We do need hope,, faith and love to get throught this thing — and we will!

        1. I refuse to even give them bullets (if I had any). Bullets, bombs, cudgels, even mere umbrellas should be saved for WORTHY enemies. The left gets disrespect, laughter, mockery, and the like. It’s all the unworthy schmucks deserve.

    2. Not a writer, but love the vibe here and at accordng to hoyt. One thought along those lines Writing about hope per se won’t win the day. In sixth grade I went on a tear through our library and read over 200 books. Probably half were biographies. They all ultimately illustrated a principal of life or charechter winning out over time. These ultimately drove me to examine my principals and to begin to realize not only that I get to decide but that I can change and challenge them. They humanized great figures and ideas in a way that reached a nerdy (before that was even a word) young man and changed my worldview.
      Of course I was also reading Dads Astounding and Galixy! What worlds were opened then!

  4. So we tell stories about hope, about self-reliance and trust in friends, about faith and family. We slip them into fantasy, and space opera, and hard sci-fi, and tell great stories that encourage and make people want to lift up their eyes and heads. We give readers an escape, if only for a few hours. Even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.

    I’m not a winged hussar. I’m inside Vienna with Starhemberg and the others, digging in and holding.

    1. Thanks for posting this link.
      The Admiral, and his message, I think are vital now, when the future looks so bleak, and some of the levers of power are held by those who say “but it HAS to work this time, we’re BETTER”.
      John in Indy

  5. This is irritating, since I have only gotten one novel going so far and writing the sequel. And, it’s just esoteric enough of a genre that until I hit David Weber/John Ringo-levels of popularity with something else, I can’t think of a publisher that will consider it seriously. So, KDP and Amazon were my best bets. And, while I haven’t made a lot of money…I have made some-which is better than none.

    What I would hope for is that somebody in the Amazon power structure did this on their own, and they’re going to be…helped…yea, that’s a good word, helped…to fix this, and to fall on their sword before the inevitable state and federal anti-monopoly legal trouble starts to happen. Because between this and Apple and Google, this looks a terrible lot like collusion to lock out a competitor.

    Worse, it looks like the French and German governments are Not Very Happy about this (mostly because they’re the ones who are supposed to be doing the censoring!), and the Polish government is probably going to be rolling out even more vigorous laws to protect free speech on social networks.

    This is yet another thing I don’t need right now. But, setting up backup plans, just in case. Which is wasting my time because I need to do that work to set up the backups.

  6. I’ll hang on with Amazon Kindle, because that’s where the biggest portion of my monthly payments come from. I’ve about ditched Smashwords, mostly because of their awful, 1990s website and beyond retro interface.
    But when a better alternative comes to the fore – I’ll be on it.

  7. I look at some of my favorite authors, who published during the Depression, or WW2, or the Cold War. They were faced with a world where totalitarianism threatened abroad and at home. With the possibility that nuclear bombs might come raining down one day, rendering everything they had ever done meaningless. And they kept working. They persevered. So I guess I will too.

  8. I carry a copy of that Tolkien quote around with me. It’s been rough and I don’t think things will get easier any time soon.

  9. I’ve gone wide, through Draft2Digital. Yes, you do have to forgo KU for that and it appears that it costs. But it’s there.

      1. That’s something people are going to have to monitor. If enough people buy elsewhere it may even out.

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