God knows, I understand that even in good times people need weekends to stay sane.  In my world of today, which is the polar opposite of "good times," sanity is mostly a fond memory, but I still need my weekends.  My family and that little two-day break from work are the only things keeping me from jumping. 

So I rarely hope anybody else has their tailhook at their desk over a weekend, especially a holiday weekend.  Rarely.  But this weekend is an exception.   This weekend every darned programmer and web guru in the Amazonian Kingdom best be chained to their desks - including the fathers in the group.   At least one of 'em deserves to be chained, and with a big new system change-over coming at the end of June where the whole staff is most likely working on bits and pieces of the new system, someone supervising the chain-deserving code monkey didn't do his or her job.  Somebody screwed up royally. 

Amazon's DTP Platform publishes Kindle pieces from indie authors and includes a dashboard to monitor sales.  The numbers don't go backwards unless there was a return or two OR unless a code monkey didn't do his job right.  Early Thursday evening (June 17th) over about a two hour span, the DTP numbers of indie authors went backwards without any returns.  Sales disappeared. 

...continue reading "Amazon’s FUBAR Agitates The Already Agitated"

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Mary Anne and I weren't always married, though it seems like it after 20+ years. I still had a lot to learn about women when she and I first got married. One of those things I had to learn was how women had an entirely different methodology for shopping than men.

I found it best to think about it in terms of our hunter-gatherer ancestry. Men were the hunters; the first thing we saw that could provide the necessary meat for the tribe was the first thing we stabbed to death and brought home. We knew the general locations where those meals on legs could be found, so we just went there, waited for them to show up, go Stone Age on their asses, and then, VOILA, lunchtime.

Men today shop the same way, except huge discount stores make it so much easier to spot that button-down oxford shirt, sneak up on it, spear it, and drag it back to our caves.

Women? That's a whole different game. One that men will never understand, except to note it somehow evolved from jabbering at each other while wandering among groves of fruit trees.

As an example of what happens when these worlds collide, I present an account of my first married shopping trip with Mary Anne:

...continue reading "AOFM-MWU – Our First Shopping Trip"

Is having breakfast for supper a Southern thing? 

Last night I decided that I wanted breakfast for supper.  Okay, maybe recalling that IHOP has those cheesecake stacker pancakes right now had something to do with it.  The other factor - if one needs more than the idea of cheesecake as an incentive - was that at suppertime we could get into IHOP.  You've got to remember that the family Graham resides in Myrtle Beach which is a tourist town. 

Tourists, God love 'em, come down on vacation talking a good game.  You'll hear them in line at the grocery store or passing by at the mall talking about how stupid folks are to travel to somewhere different and still eat at the chain restaurants.  Like I said, they talk a good game.  Anybody who lives in Myrtle and has tried to get into an Olive Garden for supper or an IHOP for breakfast knows that it's all talk.  Locals will drive up to those places, see the throngs crowding around, and leave and go somewhere else.

So there was a stroke of genius in my madness last night.  It occurred to me that maybe breakfast for supper was a Southern thing and maybe IHOP wouldn't be crowded.  And EUREKA!!  Once in a great while - I'm right.  It was so not crowded that my kids, seeing the nearly empty parking lot, wondered if it was open.  But it was and not only did I get my cheesecake stackers (strawberry), but we were seated in a nearly empty section that allowed the family to have a loud and raucous debate.  (Apologies to the one smart diner - a single man - who decided to leave and likely swore off the ideas of marriage and children for life.)

Mr. Quack brought up a debate we'd been having at home as he is in the throes of designing the man tittie cover for the serialization of my WIP, a regency historical.  He doesn't get my reference to "Eden Without The Apple."  He's also convinced that readers wouldn't get it either and would be confused by theological implications.  I replied that women drawn in by  man titties wouldn't be thinking about the Bible at the time. 

...continue reading "IHOP Insanity and Its Aftermath"

AOFM here, not feeling too well. Bad lifestyle choices + piles of stress = world of hurt. We're going to have to make this one short.

As you know, Mary Anne wrote on June 6th about serialized books and how they could open up new (but actually very old) ways of making electronic distribution a little more interesting for the reader and more educational and fun for the writer.

Well, the very same day a bigwig in the e-publishing industry wrote about the very same thing, listing a subset of the same authors my wife listed in her blog post.

Same-said bigwig posted on the same topic on the bigwig's site the next day. That same day, the bigwig wrote about it on a bigwig political & news site.

Wow, that's an unbelievable coincidence, isn' t it?  Predicting on the very day the very topic and even the very list of authors that the bigwig was going to write about, before he did so!

It's like my wife is psycho psychic or something!

Hi there my little steamed dumplings, it's yours truly, Angry Old Fat Man. We've decided to add a new feature to the website, mainly me rambling on about stuff in the middle of the week to augment Mary Anne's weekend posts.

Mary Anne has a lot on her plate, especially writing-wise. She writes legalese while daylight burns, then comes home and puts in another work shift taking care of me and the children while trying to find time to write her books. Then the weekend comes, and it's laundry, cooking, and bill-paying while trying to think of something to fill a blog post. And then actually typing out the post.

I swear to you, I don't know how she does it. I would have run out naked into the street with a growling chainsaw and a Pez dispenser full of Xanax if I had that kind of schedule.

So being the helpful hubby, I suggested to her that I could post something in the middle of the week to keep readership up.

Yeah, she bought it. HA!

Now I get to torture entertain YOU, the formerly unsuspecting blog reader, with inane garbage insightful comments on random brain flotsam whimsical ideas and interesting events.

Just look for AOFM-MWU in the title of the post around Wednesday or Thursday of a single an occasional every week.

Tentative subject for next week: Apple overtakes Microsoft. See you then!

And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:

And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

He is not here, but is risen...

 

May you have a happy and joyful Easter!

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The not-so-jolly fat man here again, peeps. Apparently Mary Anne had wanted a serious post, even though she knows I hate serious. I think everything should be fun and funny, especially for an audience. I'm not so different from my wife in that aspect; she's trying to provide her readers an escape from their humdrum everyday lives through fantastic love stories, where I try to lighten everyone's mood via humor.

But she wants serious, so now I'll take you there.

...continue reading "Creating a Book Cover, Seriously This Time"

E-books have arrived.  There's no longer any doubt about that because in the wake of the plethora of e-readers, Apple's iPad is about to enter the market.  The bigs have stopped throwing down over whether e-books should exist.  Now they're throwing down over how much they should cost.  The journey from whether to how much marks the milestone of an industry change.

This week Amazon and Macmillan locked horns over price point.  At the iPad announcement, Steve Jobs indicated that Apple would only take a 30% commission off the sale of each e-book.  Under the Apple scheme, publishers would set the price.  Boy, howdy, that would suit the publishers just fine but the public - not so much.  After the iPad was out and about and had established itself with a sales history, the pricing structure would have given publishers leverage over Amazon.  Note that I said AFTER. 

One publisher didn't want to wait.  Before the stories from Job's launch announcement had gone to print, John Sergent, CEO of Macmillan, decided to go all Godfather on Amazon.  Sergent told the e-tailer giant to adopt Apple's price structure and abandon its pricing insanity ($9.99 as the max for an e-book) OR Macmillan would do "extensive and deep windowing of titles".  In other words, Macmillan said, give us control of pricing or lose the right to sell our newest and most popular books. 

Sergent made the worst of all negotiating errors - he made a threat he couldn't or shouldn't back up.  And Amazon took him at his word.  The e-tailer didn't just give a verbal response, it gave a real world response.  Amazon removed the buy button from all of Macmillan's titles, e-books and print.  Now Amazon sells a lot of e-books, but it doesn't out and out dominate the market because that market is too new, it's evolving daily.  However, no bookstore on the planet sells the number of print copies that Amazon does.

Now Macmilian is in a corner without a fallback position.  It overlooked the fact that even after the Apple launch, it will still need Amazon.  Macmillan reacted by issuing a "letter" to its authors/illustrators and the literary agent community.  As the blog Dear Author noted, the letter missed its most important audience -- the readers. Macmillan wants to make money on its product, Amazon wants to sell a lot of its product, and the readers want to buy books and e-books at a fair price. 

The delicate balancing act of marketing/price structure can't work if total control is given to the publisher.  Amazon talks about anti-trust and in response, Macmillan cites a US Supreme Court decision legalizing retail price maintenance for luxury goods.  Common sense and the free market can imagine more practical reasons for not giving a producer control of the price of its goods.  What would Wal Mart or Dollar General have to charge for goods if the manufacturer set the price? 

If Amazon wants to make money on volume instead of price margin, that helps the consumer.  If Macmillan weren't so short sighted, it would realize that it helps the publisher and its authors too.  People all over America (like me) are caught like rats in the trap of the economic crunch and we can't afford to pay big prices for books.  But the crunch won't last forever (please God) and when it passes, readers will be able to pay more for books. 

Macmillan forgot the most important lesson of the Godfather - if you're making the other party an offer it can't refuse, first you better be sure it can't refuse.  Amazon could and it did.  Be careful what you ask for publishers, because you might get it. 

...continue reading "Marketing Madness & The Price War of 2010"

I'd never realized it until yesterday, but I've been a literary segregationist.  Oh I've never had a mental partition over race, or at least, I'm not aware of one, but yesterday I realized I had one over age.  Books written about high school kids are intended for that age through college age kids, right?  That means they're not meant for me. 

So a while back Stephanie Meyer started releasing books in her Twilight series.   It's a romance series and I write romance.  Lord knows, I read romance and I've surely been a reader of the genre for much longer than I've been a writer.  And I heard good things about these books everywhere.  But never once was I tempted to pick one up.  They weren't written for me, now were they? 

My eldest son read the books and he flat out loves them.  Keep in mind, Zack doesn't read romance.  The boy refuses to read anything I write and that's natural enough - him reading my books would make me a wee bit antsy too.  But my eldest won't even read this blog.  I've given him fair warning that from time to time I write about him, but still, he won't read it.  Where does he get such stubbornness from? 

Okay, okay, maybe Zack and his Mom have a thing or two in common.

...continue reading "Fate – From Meyer’s Twilight To Me"

Hello again chiljens, it's me the angry old fat dude. Just popping in to tell you Mary Anne has been very busy not working on one book, but two books. Her muse is working overtime, swinging her back and forth between two time periods. Hell, I have trouble keeping up with what year it is in real life, much less numerous crazy fantasy worlds.

Anyways, Mr. Brick has not been seen recently, so we suspect Muse is working like a maniac to avoid him. She is alive and well, though, unlike many others who've had run-ins with His Brickness.

In the meantime, I present Mr. Brick's premiere video, The Bricks-For-Me Challenge, which was his answer to the infamous Blasphemy Challenge. Enjoy, and until later, kiddies, AOFM out.