Monday, November 30, 2015

Late Monday Hodge Podge, Waiting for the Laundry

We're just back from a week in Arizona with my family. This time I swear I'm going to at least write up a post with some of the best bits of touristy things we do, like the cool little empanada restaurant in downtown Mesa and the park my kids love in Gilbert... so I won't try to write much about it tonight. Tonight's post is a short hodge podge. I'm fighting off the cold Mr. Snarky picked up in Arizona (he always picks up a cold in Arizona, it is sad/funny). The only reason I'm not going to bed is that I need to wait for a load of laundry to finish.

The story behind that load of laundry is sad/funny, too. We took advantage of the babysitting in Arizona, and spent an afternoon shopping. Mr. Snarky's shirts had been getting threadbare, and the last time I bought pants was roughly a year ago, and I promptly gained 5 lbs two weeks after that shopping trip.

I almost didn't find anything, but at the very end of the trip, I found some pants I thought were OK in Macy's. I bought two pairs of one style, and one pair of a different style. When we got home, I cut off the tags and tossed them in the laundry, planning to deal with them later this week.

Mr. Snarky decided to do the laundry last night, though. I didn't think about it when he did, until I went to put my nice clean clothes away, and realized he'd put my new pants in the dryer. One pair made it through OK, but the two of the other style are part rayon and shrank quite a bit. I couldn't even zip them up when I tried them on, and the hem was a good two inches too short. They are probably ruined, but I am trying some advice I found online to rescue them.

Mr. Snarky is quite contrite, and I have sworn that I'll pull anything that needs any special attention whatsoever out into my hand wash/dry clean bag from now on. The pants weren't that expensive, so really the most annoying thing is that I still don't have pants that fit. I may try to get to the mall here on Friday and see if I can buy them again.

The pants incident put me in such a funk last night that I didn't finish the work I needed to do, so this morning found me putting the finishing touches on my latest Annorlunda Books innovation- ebook gift cards.  (Bonus in that last link: you can see the color of the accent wall in our new office.)

(Complete aside: Mr. Snarky is listening to some weird music mix a Kiwi friend of his sent him, in which there was just a mash up of Ghostbusters and Gagnam Style.)

So that's what has been going on here. Before the break, I had lunch with the awesome Ginger of Ramble Ramble who is going to be giving me some marketing advice. She is such the perfect person to do this, and her preliminary ideas were so good that I can't believe I didn't think of asking her if she was interested in a small contract earlier. Oh well, better to have the great idea late than not at all, right?

Anyway, one thing she has already convinced me to do is make a Facebook page for Annorlunda Books. I will work on that soon (maybe even tomorrow), but first I wanted some more Facebook practice, so I made a page for Annorlunda Designs. I'm still tweaking and experimenting, but I'm at least really happy with what I picked for an avatar. It is a close up of one of the dragonflies from my most popular shirt design. I have no idea what I'm going to use for the an avatar on the Annorlunda Books page. I'm hoping inspiration strikes soon.

(And now the weird dance song mash up is play Staying Alive. When I first walked in it was Living on a Prayer. This is a seriously weird mix that is somehow completely appropriate for the guy who sent it to Mr. Snarky.)

I think my laundry is probably done, so I'll close this hodge podge with a highlight from our drive home yesterday, spotted on our way out of the Phoenix area:

Friday, November 20, 2015

Weekend Reading: Some Light Reading for a Dark Time Edition

It has been a week since the attacks in France. There was another attack in Mali today. The world is facing something evil, and I don't use that word lightly.

I remain convinced that we must fight this evil by refusing to accept its definition of the world. It is not us versus them. It is all of us versus hatred.

Sadly, that fight is not going well. As I mentioned on Twitter last night, I'm genuinely worried about the fear-mongering and racism being encouraged in my country right now. John Scalzi's post on the topic says most of what I'm thinking better than I could.

Tonight, though, I want to think about other things. I will keep speaking up in the ways I think will help the most. I wrote to my representative to express my disappointment with his vote on the refugee bill. I will write to my senators, who I expect will vote in a more reasonable way. I will share things on Twitter, and speak up in real life.

But I need a break, or I risk going under, and that does no one any good.

So, first up, something happy: Nicoleandmaggie reviewed Petunia, The Girl Who Was NOT a Princess. That review made my day! I love hearing about kids who like my books.

Here is a really great Q&A with Micah Edwards, author of Okay, So Look (a book I published).

In other "me publishing" news, Navigating the Path to Industry (a book I both wrote and published) is now available on Smashwords, which means it is available in Scribd and will be available in Oyster and Overdrive soonish.

I'll also remind you that Missed Chances (a book I edited and published) is in the midst of a GoodReads giveaway promo that ends tomorrow.

OK, that's enough self-promotion.

I love the idea of The Alliance for Girls in STEM, a new non-profit: make picture books with science stories and girls as the protagonists, so that more kids can see themselves as potential future scientists. They are running an IndieGoGo campaign for their first book. I'll be donating as soon as I settle on the reward I want!

This is a really cool piece of scientific detective work, and now I want to go to Crowley Lake.

If you have somehow missed the story about why I (and other Southern Californians) say "the 5" and "the 405," here's your chance to go read it.

This tumblr post turned into something like a crowdsourced dystopic YA story, and it is pretty awesome.

Holy cow, this story about women tricked into relationships with undercover police officers is horrifying. Can you imagine giving years of your life to a relationship only to find out it was an opportunistic lie created to infiltrate a cause you cared about?

This is a beautiful post about the power of reading.

This is a really powerful story about a young man trying to make it in an elite college after growing up in a very rough part of Chicago. It isn't enough to admit more Black students. You have to make sure they have the help and support they need to thrive.

That you can say something similar about women in tech is one of the conclusions of this very thorough article.

I think something similar can probably be said about refugees, too. As much as I am in favor of the US and Europe helping refugees, we do everyone a disservice if we bring people in and do not help them build a new life. I don't agree with everything in Reihan Salam's article on an alternative approach to helping refugees, but he raises some good issues that we must think about.

Zeynep Tufekci sums it up well:

Oops, I said I wanted to think about something else tonight.

So I'll end with a couple of comics: this great Oatmeal comic about helping each other and the xkcd comic I wanted to send to a lot of programmers I've worked with over the years.

Also, this great cat picture sent to me by my husband. (I couldn't find the original source, unfortunately, just a Reddit thread and I'm not linking to that.)

I hope you all have a good weekend!

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Monday Hodge-Podge

I spent pretty much all day Sunday painting the Ikea shelves that will eventually grace our new office, so I didn't have time to write a post.

I wanted to write a post, because I wanted to share my latest Tungsten Hippo post- a taster flight of stories about people in search of animals. I really like this flight, because I think that maybe this is in fact a sub-genre that flourishes in short ebooks. I am in the middle of another short ebook that would fit the flight, too. (Also, the flight includes Unspotted....)

Speaking of taster flights, Missed Chances, the "one that got away" taster flight that I published, is in the middle of a GoodReads giveaway promo right now. Go enter if you are so inclined. It also got its first review.

I am hitting burn out stage on the remodeling work. It is eating up all of our weekend time. We have a week long school break for Thanksgiving coming up and we'll be taking some proper time off. It is much needed.

But- we have the final walk through with the architect and the interior decorator on Wednesday, and we want the place to look nice for them, so we're making a bit of a push. Also, we want the decorator's opinion on what sort of blinds to put in the new office, and last time we talked she said that she'd have a better sense once she saw the final furniture in the room. Something about balancing the elements or something like that. She's given us really good advice so far, so we're fairly motivated to get this last little bit of help. This means that we'll be building the shelves tomorrow night.

Or maybe we'll get to build the shelves tomorrow afternoon, because we have the kids' parent-teacher conferences tomorrow and we'll be home early. I'm interested to hear how Petunia is doing. She seems happy with school, and the work that comes home all has smiley faces on it. Her handwriting is much sloppier than Pumpkin's was at this age, but Pumpkin's handwriting now is better than mine, so that is probably not a useful comparison. She's getting 5/5 on her sight word quizzes and seems to "get" everything that is being asked of her, but we're eager to hear how the teacher thinks she's adjusting.

She's been full of interesting ideas and stories lately. Yesterday, she figured out that the tooth fairy is "your grown ups." Here is how the conversation went:

Petunia: Mommy, is the tooth fairy real or is she just your grown ups?

Me: What do you think?

Petunia: I think she's just your grown ups.

Me. Why do you think that?

Petunia: Because I've never seen the tooth fairy at school spying on the kids to see who has loose teeth.

I decided not to argue with this solid piece of logic and confirmed that her grown ups were her tooth fairy. She took it well. She had a very wiggly tooth, and it fell out today at school. She was very excited about it and put it in her little tooth container for her grown ups to sneak into her room and replace with a dollar bill.

She got some money for her birthday last month, and used it to buy some pretend tools. She went around the house "fixing" things for awhile after that. My favorite was when I heard a beeping noise and looked over to see that she had repurposed one of her toy thermometers to be a stud finder.

Last weekend, she and I had an evening to ourselves when Mr. Snarky took Pumpkin to a birthday party. We went and played at her favorite park. She mostly wanted to swing and pretend to be a pirate. Then we went to IHOP, which she pronounces as "ihoc," for dinner. She was very happy, and so was I, except about the rather loud Trump supporter at a table near ours. On the bright side, that led me to interrupt Petunia's coloring and teach her how to play the "connect the dots to make boxes" game on the menu, and that was hilarious. Strategy is not yet her strong suite, but it was a fun game.

I also got some 1:1 time with Pumpkin recently. The kids were off school on Veteran's Day. Petunia went to "visit" at her old day care (she had a blast), while Pumpkin and I had a special day. We played Uno (she's vicious), then went to the mall for pretzels. While we were there, we did a little clothes shopping. It has finally gotten a bit chilly here, and she needed some warm pants and a long sleeved shirts. Then we went to one of her favorite parks to play and have a picnic (we'd picked up Subway). Then she said she wanted to read in the sun. Since I didn't have a book for her with me, we came home and spread a blanket out in our backyard and read for an hour or so. It was glorious.

Then we went and got frozen yogurt and played some more at another park. It was a very good day.

Pumpkin is still an anxious kid, but she's also a fun kid. I am trying to figure out how to teach her that the only protection against the bad things that happen is to really embrace the good things in life and to hope that you'll build up enough... good memories? happiness? I don't know what to call it.... to carry you through the harder times. It might help if I really learned that myself, first. I'm working on that.

But for now, it is late. I want to go read my book and then go to sleep. I'm a bit behind on my to do list, but there's always tomorrow. All of the things on the list can wait.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Some Words

I still don't have the heart to post my usual weekend links, but I want to post something.

I checked the weather yesterday morning and noticed that we're about to get a turn towards cooler temperatures. If I wanted my walk on the beach to celebrate the release of Missed Chances to be a barefoot walk, yesterday was my day.

And what a day it was.

The tide was very low, giving me a nice wide expanse of packed sand on which to stroll.  The sun was warm, and the water not too cold on my feet. As so often happens when I walk on the beach, I could feel the tense muscles in my back relaxing.

And the seashell haul was pretty good, too.

I even left one big, beautiful sand dollar where I found it, because I thought it might still have someone in it. A quick search upon getting home told me that sand dollars are sea urchins, not shells, so if it wasn't fuzzy, it wasn't alive. Oh well. Someone else can take that beautiful specimen home with them.

I left the beach in a wonderful mood. All was well with the world.

Except, of course, it wasn't.

I read some of the news from Paris, and also from Beirut and Baghdad. And then I made the decision to close my laptop and put down my phone. I am not eloquent enough to be able to write words that will provide comfort in these sorts of situations. So I didn't try, and I spent the night with my family instead.

I still do not have eloquent words this morning.

I think dealing with the sort of hatred that created the attacks yesterday is one of the biggest challenges of our time. If we think that we are immune to that hatred, we are wrong: the same sort of hatred motivated the church shooting in Charleston. The lure of that hatred is everywhere, and it pulls on everyone.

My grandparents' generation faced the challenge of a state that would kill anyone it did not deem the "right" sort of person, a state we now recognize as evil. We face the same sort of threat, but from "non-state actors."

I understand the impulse to "go to war" after yesterday's attacks. I hope that our leaders are wise enough to temper that impulse with some careful thought about what sort of response will actually be effective. I hope they can lead us to look for solutions, and not revenge.

I do not know if there is a useful role for military action in this response. Probably there is. But I do not think we will win this fight with the military. There is no state to defeat, no single leader to topple to bring this struggle to an end.

I think we have to fight this one with words, and with love.

I think we have to refuse to judge entire groups of people based on the actions of the worst among them. We have to keep working to make the world better for everyone, not just the people we think are like us. We have to make a life lived in harmony with the rest of us more appealing that a life spent fighting us.

Or something like that. I am no expert on this. All I can think, though, is we've tried the military method, and I am not convinced it is working. Maybe we should try something else.

But those are discussions for another day. Today, I mourn for the victims of yesterday's attacks. I wish for comfort and solace for the survivors. I send love to my Muslim friends and neighbors, who I know are as horrified by the attacks as I am. And I hope we find a way to make a world where there is peace for all of us.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

On Grocery Shopping

I had thought that tonight I might write one of the meaty posts that I've been wanting to write. But then I saw the news of threats being made on the Mizzou campus, and my heart hurts too much for those college kids to engage my brain to write the post I had in mind.

But I still feel like writing, so I'm going to write about grocery shopping instead. This is sort of the opposite of a meaty post. Except I do buy meat at the grocery store (even though I have one of the best specialty butchers in the city in my neighborhood... sorry, I'm just not that into meat to make a special trip).

We currently get our groceries from three sources. We buy my husband's preferred cheese and cereal, Petunia's strawberry bars, the dried bananas and mangos that Pumpkin likes, and a bunch of wine at Trader Joes. Mr. Snarky goes on Friday night about once a month. He goes on Friday night because our closest Trader Joes is in one of the party parts of town where most of the residents are college kids and other young adults who definitely do not spend their Friday nights at the grocery store. We buy the kids' preferred cereal, applesauce, graham crackers, various fruit snack things that are really candy, beer, more wine, kleenex, toilet paper, and random other things that make sense to buy in bulk at Costco. Mr. Snarky also does this shopping about once a month, because I cannot stand shopping in Costco on the weekend. It makes me hate people. I start to fantasize about running people down with my double-wide Costco shopping cart.

We buy everything else at our neighborhood grocery story, which happens to be one of two stores in a small local chain and not one of the big chains. I'll be honest, if the store down the street from me was one of the big chains, I'd shop there. I clearly prioritize closeness over quality, because our store often runs out of things and doesn't restock until some other similar thing also runs low. For instance, Mr. Snarky likes white grapefruit juice. Our store hasn't had that for the last three weeks. They are making us run down their stock of pink grapefruit juice before they stock more white grapefruit juice. We complain and joke about this, but still do our shopping there. I like to think of it as doing our part to fight food waste. I do this shopping, and I go every Sunday.

As I was checking out this Sunday, the cashier noted that I was alone. One or both of the kids often come with me. I prefer to go alone, but as with many things in my life right now, sometimes my preferences aren't the most important consideration when making a decision.

The cashier and I chatted a bit about how getting to do the grocery shopping alone is a bit of a treat. As I loaded the groceries into my car, I thought back to when I was a kid, when going to the grocery store with my mom was a bit of a treat. I wonder why kids like going to grocery stores so much? I don't hate it (except for Costco on the weekends), but I don't love it like my kids do.

Then, for some reason, I thought back to the first period in my life when I did my own grocery shopping. It was in college. My first two years, I lived in one of the dorms that was not on the main campus. There was a communal kitchen. You could pay a small fee and rent a locker so that you could store pots and pans and food that didn't need to be refrigerated. I also had a small fridge in my room. The closest grocery store was a co-op. I became a member, because that got me a discount on my groceries. Very few students had cars, so we all bought the wire carts that we called granny carts. You could get four full paper bags of groceries in one, if you had the space to store all that food (most of us didn't). I think I went to the store once every couple of weeks. Sometimes I went even if I didn't need anything, just to be with a friend or two and take a break from studying. I ate a lot of meals at the dining hall assigned to us on campus, but often made my own dinner because I couldn't be bothered going back to campus once I was home. And yes, I very clearly thought of my residence hall as my home.

That thought has stayed with me this week, as people have been debating the events at Yale and Mizzou. Campus is a school and a place of work for some. It is a space for learning. It is also home to a bunch of young people, most of whom are out on their own for their first time, trying to become adults. I wish we'd remember that more.

And that's as close to a serious topic as I care to go tonight. Tell me about your grocery shopping routine in the comments. Did you think of grocery shopping as a treat when you were a kid? Is this some sort of weird universal kid thing?

Sunday, November 08, 2015

A Sunday Hodge-Podge

It has been another weekend of painting here... but now the "little room" (which used to be Petunia's bedroom) is painted and its carpet is cleaned. We plan to move furniture in later this week.

We're also planning to brave a weekend trip to Ikea later today, to buy the shelves for our office, the new shelves for Petunia's room, and a bunch of other things.

So progress is being made.

Petunia loves her new room. She's experimenting with where to store all her things, and enjoying the extra space and storage she has now- and we still have more storage to get her. This renovation project really is making us happier, and it isn't even done yet. Still, I am in no hurry to start any more home improvements. I was washing dishes this week, looking at the wall about the sink. I caught myself thinking that it really could use a fresh coat of paint and I had to laugh. There is no way I want to paint anything more right now!

Before I started painting this morning, I wrote my next Tungsten Hippo post for Nonfiction November. The prompt this week was to pair a non-fiction book and a fiction book. I love this sort of thing! I already had a category of blog posts for it: the "Read Together" posts. It only had a couple of entries, though, because it turns out to be hard to find good pairings. Taster flights are easier.

Speaking of Taster Flights, I need to get some review love for Missed Chances. If you're interested in reviewing it on your blog or on Amazon or GoodReads, let me know. There will be a GoodReads giveaway for it starting later this week, too- watch for a tweet and/or a mention in the next links post if you're interested in participating in that. And of course, you can help me out by adding it to your shelves: here's the GoodReads page for it.

My Sunday posts seem to gravitate towards the hodge-podge end of the spectrum. Rather than fighting that, I think I'll run with it. Maybe I should make a new category, like the Weekend Links: the Sunday Hodge-Podge.

The weather has finally turned towards fall here. There's a slight chill in the air (San Diego style- the high today is still going to be in the low 70s) and I am forced to accept that I probably won't be taking anymore barefoot walks on the beach this year. Fair enough, it is November. I'm still planning a walk on the beach to celebrate the release of Missed Chances, though. Rules are rules.

And now it is time to get back to work. I have a grocery list to write and groceries to buy before our Ikea trip....

Friday, November 06, 2015

Weekend Reading: The Sort of Almost There Edition

I am so very close to breathing a huge sigh of relief and having a less hectic schedule... sort of. The publication of Missed Chances finishes off the intense period in which I scheduled myself two book releases and an online class.

However, we still have a lot to do to finish off the renovations. To be honest, I'm not even looking at "finishing," I am just looking at "getting everything in the right room, getting my new desk functional, and getting my books out of boxes." Last weekend, we moved Petunia into her new room. We still need to take a trip to Ikea to get the rest of the things we need to "finish" her room, and we need to unpack some more of the boxes with her stuff. I think we're about halfway to done there.

This weekend's goal is painting the room that used to be Petunia's room and steam cleaning its carpet.  This will be our music/guest room. I'd also like to get to Ikea to get the stuff for Petunia and the shelves for our office.

After that, we need to paint the shelves, install the shelves, move the piano and other things into the music/guest room, and then start putting things away so that I can move my new desk into its final position and actually start using it.

Oh, and we need to buy and install window treatments. The new office has nice big windows on three sides, and that means I get blinded by the sun twice a day.

I also picked up a new project with my main client, which is good (because it means more money), but does cut into the "rest and recover" time I thought I might have coming up.

I'm not complaining, though! It has all been a good kind of hectic, and while I need to squeeze some real down time in soon, I'd rather be busy like this than have no work to do.

So anyway, on with the links:

The paperback version of Missed Chances is now on Amazon! The blurb got messed up in the transition, though, so I'll have to figure out how to fix that.

If you've scratched your head over your kid's math homework or laughed at the seemingly absurd examples on social media... you should read this explanation of why 5x3 does not necessarily equal 5+5+5 in math homework land. It is an excellent explanation of that one example, but also a good general reminder that education is about laying the foundation for true understanding, not just "getting the right answer."

An object lesson in why women often don't talk about the harassment we get- talking about it just brings more harassment, and it is often worse. Thanks, internet trolls.

Speaking of internet trolls: GamerGate is not gone.

Speaking of subtle sexism... read Michelle Goldberg and Rebecca Traister on sexism and the Democratic primary. For the record, Bernie Sanders fans: I won't think you're sexist if you vote for Bernie. I will think you're sexist is you continue to talk about Hilary in such a condescending manner. And I damn sure will think you're sexist if you say women who point out the sexism in how people talk about Hilary are "flipping out."

(Also for the record: I haven't decide for certain how I'm voting yet, but I can say that my number 1 concern will be that the Democratic candidate be able to win in the general election, because the majority of the Republican candidates just downright scare me. And if you think that there is no way that one of the scarier Republicans will win... you need to talk to more people who aren't liberals.)

In happier political news, this clip of the new Canadian prime minister answering why he wanted gender parity in his cabinet will make you smile. And while we're talking about the Canadian cabinet: it is pretty impressive.

Japanese klezmer pop... just go check it out.

XKCD was on fire this week. Water distribution and Git are my favorites. And I somehow missed Overthinking a couple of weeks ago.

Finally, here is a beautiful picture of a place I'd like to visit.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Almost Like a Release Day

Today was the day I'd picked out as the release day for Missed Chances, my "taster flight" of classic love stories that all feature "the one that got away."

Another cool cover from my designer!
The various retailers had other ideas for me.

Since this collection consists of stories in the public domain, Amazon policy requires some sort of "differentiation" in order to publish. This is fair enough, so I happily set about obtaining some illustrations for the stories. I wasn't 100% sure if this would be enough, or if Amazon would require the title to include "[ILLUSTRATED]" (which would be confusing, since this is not an exact copy of a single public domain book, but a collection of stories culled from multiple public domain sources). So I wanted to get Amazon to approve the book.

It turns out that the only way to get them to review the book is to submit it for publication, and since they don't allow pre-orders on public domain works, that meant submitting it for immediate publication. So, last week, that's what I did, expecting some back and forth before Amazon approved the book. Instead, Amazon approved and listed the book in less than 12 hours, so the ebook version has been listed on Amazon for over a week.

Meanwhile, I was busy assembling the print version and the ePUB version for, Kobo, and iBooks (the iBooks ePUB version is slightly different from the one for and Kobo, too).

I finalized the print version and ordered the proof last week. I had to place a rush on the order so that it could arrive before my release day. I had proofread the text pretty carefully before submitting it, so I thought that maybe I'd get away without any changes. I was wrong. I found two typos in the final proof, and had to make the changes and resubmit the files for review. I stayed up late Monday night getting all of this done.

I arranged my schedule so that I could go in a little late to my usual client on Tuesday, hoping that my files would be through the review and ready for me to re-proof. They were not ready by the cutoff time I'd set, so I went ahead and went to my client site. And of course, by the time I got there, there was an email in my inbox saying that my files were now ready to proof. I left as early as I could and re-proofed and submitted for publication yesterday afternoon... but the book is still not showing on Amazon. It is available directly from Createspace, but the really opportunity for sales comes from having it on Amazon. It should be there soon. In the past, the paperback version of my books have appeared on Amazon in a day or less. No such luck this time, I guess.

Yesterday, I also created the iBooks version and submitted that. It is available for sale... but they turned "M.R. Nelson" into "Mr. Nelson." A rather common mistake, actually, but since they've managed to get it right in the past, I was surpised. (The mistake was fixed a few hours after I notified them of it.)

So, all in all, not the smooth release day I'd have liked. I jokingly blamed the retailers at the top of this post, but it is really my fault. The release of this book was a bit more rushed than it should have been. It isn't a big deal in this case, since the authors of the stories in this collection are long dead. I have not ruined a release day for anyone but myself, and I am more inclined to laugh at all of this than be bothered by it. I'll chalk this up to a learning experience and be sure to leave myself more time for reviewing proofs, etc., next time.

I had a good reason for rushing things, of course. I wanted to use this book as a "thank you" to my Tungsten Hippo mailing list subscribers, and as a lure to get some more subscribers. I am pleased with how it worked in that regard. I also wanted it to be ready for my usual "first Wednesday of the month collection recommendation" on Tungsten Hippo. And it was!

Therefore, I'm calling this book's release a success, even if the release day was a bit wobbly.

So! Now for the usual release day post. All of the links for where you can get Missed Chances will always be on the Annorlunda Books page for the book, but I'll also list them here:

Sadly, I can't have this book on Oyster (while it is still around!), Scribd, or Overdrive, because I use Smashwords to get into those channels, and Smashwords does not accept public domain works.

But, that's still a lot of options to get the book. I don't have reviews to post yet (see above about how tight the schedule was) so you'll just have to take my word for it: the stories in this book are all great. I still enjoyed reading them during my last proof of the book, which was after reading them roughly 10 times. (That surprised me, frankly.)

The stories are:

  • Aunt Philippa and the Men, by L.M. Montgomery
  • The Kiss, by Kate Chopin
  • The Victory, by Rabindranath Tagore
  • The Mystery of Wilhelm Rütter, by Helen Hunt Jackson
  • A Florentine Experiment, by Constance Fenimore Woolson

I obviously like them all, but I particularly love A Florentine Experiment.

This release concludes my ridiculously busy six weeks of work. I still have a lot of cool things coming up (my paperbacks on! Navigating the Path to Industry on Smashwords! Integrating the GumRoad sales directly on the Annorlunda web pages!) but the pace should be less hectic, and I should have time to write some of those blog posts I've been wanting to write. Phew. I also owe myself a walk on the beach. I'm hoping that the weather might be nice enough next week that I can get one last barefoot walk in before it gets too cold to let my feet get wet. I'm going to take the walk, regardless, though!

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Hooray for Growth

I don't want to let another week go by without  blog post, so I decided I'd write one this morning while I drink my tea. Writing while having my morning tea is one of my favorite things, and I don't do it enough anymore. There's so much to do, that I tend to put my tea in my travel mug even when I'm at home, and then I dive into the chores.

But not today. Last week, I realized on Monday that I should have taken a little bit of time for myself over the weekend. I did nothing but chores and watching kids all weekend, and come Monday, I was tired and stressed out, although I was happy to have Petunia's new room painted.

So this weekend, I'm taking some time on Sunday morning for me. Mr. Snarky is doing chores, but I'm not feeling guilty about that because yesterday morning he went and watched the rugby world cup final live while I took the kids to gymnastics and then started prepping the baseboards in Petunia's room for paint.

(The All Blacks won, so he came home happy, with doughnuts, and all was well with the world.)

I have some really big topics bouncing around in my head, wanting a blog post, but I am too tired to tackle them. It has been a full month- lots of work, lots of chores, but also lots of fun, since it was Petunia's birthday and we went to Disneyland AND had a small party with her closest friends. Her birthday is finally officially over: on Thursday, I quit work early and took Cheez-Its into her class for the "October biirthdays" celebration. It was annoying to quit work early, but worth it to see her in her classroom. She is happy and comfortable there, and that makes me happy.

Like I said in Friday's links post, my super busy time at work is almost done. I need to finish getting Missed Chances published (it is now live on Kobo and GumRoad!) and get it launched with some reviews. I'm still querying reviewers for Unspotted and Okay, So Look, too, but I can ease off the hectic pace a bit.

Soon to be a kanban board
I have some good things penciled in for the rest of the year, but I also plan to take some time to think a bit more about my medium term strategy. I finished painting the barn door in the new office, so soon I can make my kanban board on the white board on it. I think that will help me make sure I don't overlook the tasks I should be doing to build something sustainable. We'll see.

One thing I know I need in my medium term strategy is growing my Tungsten Hippo audience. Many of the book marketing/advertising lists out there won't take short ebooks, so I am trying to build my own short ebook marketing list. I want to do it in a way that feels authentic, though, both because I think that will be more successful in the long term and because I will feel happier about it. Therefore, I was pretty happy to come across the #NonfictionNovember hashtag. I love non-fiction in general, and think that it is a genre in which short ebooks really shine. So I'm participating. My first post is up: it is about my year in non-fiction, and features a look back at some of my favorite non-fiction short ebooks for the year.

I'm also thinking hard about my strategy for the consulting part of my business. I was struck by how much I enjoyed giving the latest session of my "intro to PM" class. However, I also hate marketing when my product is ME, so my ideal strategy allows me to give classes/seminars but does not require a lot of really active marketing. Once again, growing an audience is likely to be part of the answer- and my Management Monthly email newsletter's audience is slowly growing. I've also noticed that GumRoad has added more "discoverability" features, and I'm curious if those could help me, particularly if I did more of the short seminars that I leave available for purchase even after the live session is done.

In short, I spend a lot of time thinking about marketing, and how to do it well but authentically and in a way that doesn't feel sleazy to me. This has reminded me of a conversation I had with my first career coach, over a decade ago now. I was struggling with the transition into management, and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I still thought there was going to be a single, simple answer to that. (HA!) One of the problems I had with the job I had landed in was that it required me to do some marketing. I hated it. I was no good at it. The coach listened to me rant about why I hated it and was no good at it, and then told me a story about another client, who learned to like marketing by viewing it as a puzzle that allowed him to get to the things he really wanted to do. I laughed that off, sure that I'd never think that way. I was wrong!

And now my tea is empty, and Petunia is ready for me to help her pack up the toys in her room so that we can move her to her new room... so I'll end this post and, with my last sip of tea, make a silent cheer to growth, in all its forms.