The Meaning Of Memorial Day

Trip To GA 1307-08 - Andersonville 14

It’s Memorial Day!  Spring is here, summer is swiftly approaching, schools are letting out, swimming pools are opening, families and friends are getting together for fun and food and fellowship.  Enjoy it!

But please take a few moments to remember what today is all about.  The freedom we’re enjoying didn’t come easily, and it most certainly didn’t come free.  Please think about the 1.4 million men and women who gave their lives for our freedom.

One of those I think of is my great-great-great uncle, William Leach.  He was mustered into Company B of the 115th Illinois Infantry on September 13, 1862 in Okaw, Illinois, at the age of 22.  We found out after we moved to Middle Tennessee that his unit was involved in the Tullahoma Campaign, and it’s entirely possible that he actually walked or camped where our front yard is now, at sometime during that campaign.  We don’t really know how or where or when, but he was captured and became a prisoner of war at Andersonville Prison.  He died there on September 10, 1864, of scurvy and starvation.  Private William Leach is buried at Site 8464 at Andersonville National Cemetery.

Wars are made by politicians, but the military men and women who answer the call are the ones who lay down their lives to protect and defend friends, families, and freedom.  1.4 million American men and women have done that.

This is their day.

Remember them.



Writing Advice From Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury was the Poet Of Science Fiction.  Not only could he spin a great yarn, but he spun it with panache.  He could draw an amazing world, and then draw you into it so that you didn’t even realize it was happening.  Eloquent, brilliant, innovative, genius…well, there are lots of words to describe him, but they all mean that if there’s anybody worth listening to for good advice, it’s Ray.

Emily Temple at Literary Hub has published a great compilation of Bradbury’s advice, and it’s an enlightening read.  I just stumbled across it and it made me realize I needed to subscribe to Lit Hub’s newsletter so I wouldn’t miss out on seeing great stuff like this unless I stumbled across it.  So I did…and now I’ve been too busy to even look at my daily e-mails for the past week.  But I’ll get there…I promise!  And I’ll quite babbling and post that article so you can see the good stuff instead of babble.  And good stuff it is.

Ray Bradbury’s Greatest Writing Advice

“I’ve had a sign over my typewriter for over 25 years now: Don’t think!

August 22, 2018

Today would have been the 98th birthday of Ray Bradbury, the greatest sci-fi writer in history, who (by no small coincidence) also happened to know a thing or two about writing. Like many American children, I grew up on Bradbury—”The Veldt” remains my favorite of his stories—but as I became a writer myself I began to cherish not just the great author’s work, but his attitude towards it. Bradbury loved writing. He took intense pleasure in it, and it shows on every page. This is, of course, not possible for everyone, but still, I find it to be a lovely antidote to all the hand-wringing and hair-tearing and sit-at-the-typwriter-and-bleeding contemporary writers seem to do (or claim to do, online or otherwise) these days. If that’s what happens when you write, Bradbury taught, find some other way to spend your time. Which is a pretty good tip. So now, without further ado, I present below an incomplete but illuminating collection of some more of Ray Bradbury’s very best writing advice.

Quantity creates quality:

The best hygiene for beginning writers or intermediate writers is to write a hell of a lot of short stories. If you can write one short story a week—it doesn’t matter what the quality is to start, but at least you’re practicing, and at the end of the year you have 52 short stories, and I defy you to write 52 bad ones. Can’t be done. At the end of 30 weeks or 40 weeks or at the end of the year, all of a sudden a story will come that’s just wonderful.

-from “Telling the Truth,” the keynote address of The Sixth Annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea, sponsored by Point Loma Nazarene University, 2001

Get to the big truth first:

A novel has all kinds of pitfalls because it takes longer and you are around people, and if you’re not careful you will talk about it. The novel is also hard to write in terms of keeping your love intense. It’s hard to stay erect for two hundred days. So, get the big truth first. If you get the big truth, the small truths will accumulate around it. Let them be magnetized to it, drawn to it, and then cling to it.

-from a 2010 interview with Sam Weller, published in The Paris Review

[There’s a lot more, and it’s good stuff, like I said, so click the link below and keep reading!]

Read More…

Boosting a Facebook Post to Boost Amazon Sales – A Lesson in Patience

I’m learning!

I’m not sure why so many people think so many things should be this complicated, but every time you want to do something for the first time, there seems to be a steep learning curve.  Of course, I’m talking about doing things with and through electronic machinery and software developers, all tangled up in The Web.  And it’s my first time.  Too bad you can’t start with the second or third time, so you know what to expect.

So here I am trying to “boost” a Facebook post.  It’s an ad for a sale I’m running on my self-published book, which hasn’t sold a lot of copies on Amazon for a while.  First thing to do was lower the price to make it at least a little more attractive than how it appeared during all that time it wasn’t selling.

I changed the Kindle price from $3.99 to $2.99, and the paperback price from $9.99 to $7.99.  Not huge, I’ll grant you, but 25% and 20% are reasonable to experiment with.  Not having done any price changing or boosting before, I suspected this would be plenty to learn with.  But to make the paperback just a little more attractive, I activated the Matchbook function and set it to allow anyone buying the paperback to get the e-book for free.  There.  That should attract somebody.

Almost immediately, the new Kindle price was reflected on the Amazon page for the book.  And the paperback price was…almost reflected.  By that I mean the Kindle price showed the savings of its price compared to the new paperback price, or $7.99.  But the paperback, right there next to it, still showed $9.99.  And it continued to do so for THREE DAYS.

So I sat for three days, waiting for the price to be right so I could put a post on Facebook saying I’d lowered the prices.  I was doing this at this time because I wanted to take advantage of the upcoming Mother’s Day, perhaps persuading someone who had given up hope of finding the right gift to leap at the chance.  It was a hope.  Maybe not rational, but a hope nonetheless.  But the days were going by without an ad.

Finally, the stars aligned and the prices did as well.  Time to go to Facebook and tell the world.  I pasted my carefully-crafted words into a post, added a link to the Amazon page, and posted it.  Then I clicked “Boost.”  It took me to a page to customize my boost effort, and I just authorized their recommended audience algorithm, adjusted it to run for 12 days, ending on Mother’s Day, and gave them my credit card info for $36.  Hopefully it will expand my audience enough to encourage enough sales to at least let me break even…but my hopes aren’t that high, especially because  I just lowered my prices and therefore decreased my royalties.

Six hours later, I still have a notification that my ad is being reviewed and they’ll let me know when…or if…it gets approved.  During that time, four of my friends responded with “likes” and one commented that it was a great read.  Also, one shared it, though he actually only shared the link to the Amazon page and didn’t include my carefully-crafted text that would convince people to buy a book for Mom.

But, well, I’m learning.  That’s what this whole self-publishing thing is all about.  Apparently.  It could have been all about raking in piles of dough…but that’s in a different universe.

Learning now…piles of dough later.  Maybe much later.  Like, next book.  Or the next.  But, hey…learning is good!  At least it’s moving forward.  And next time, it’ll go quicker and easier.

I can hope.