1. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Progress with Novels & Author Related Projects

    Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by TWErvin2, Sep 24, 2014.

    I've been poking around the journals here and figured I'd start one. I used to maintain one similar to this on another forum, but it's gone pretty dead.

    Quick information for those who might begin this journal. I'll just sort of fact list to be efficient for those who might care.

    I write/am published under my legal name.

    My current publisher is Gryphonwood Press.

    I have a fantasy series titled: First Civilization's Legacy Series. It includes Flank Hawk (2009), Blood Sword (2011) and Soul Forge (2014).

    I have a Science Fiction series titled: The Crax War Chronicles. It includes Relic Tech (2013), and Relic Rescue (working title--work in progress).

    I also have a short story collection: Genre Shotgun (2012) which is a collection of all of my short stories previously published in magazines, anthologies and ezines. The stories are SF, Mystery, Horror/Suspense, and Inspirational.

    All of my titles are available via ebook, and print. All but Genre Shotgun is available as an audiobook (it's in production), and Flank Hawk is currently being translated into Spanish.

    In addition to a website, I maintain a blog titled Up Around the Corner. There I post interviews of authors, editors, narrators, reviewers, etc., I talk about what's happening with my works, things of interest I come across (or at least interesting to me) and some things I find humorous. It takes time from my regular writing but I enjoy it overall.

    ================

    Last night I managed 665 words on Relic Rescue, the night before about 450. The current total is about 40,000 words to date.

    Today I completed the application for the Ohioana Book Festival. I now am waiting for the two print copies to arrive from my publisher, which are part of the application package. Applications are due at the end of December, so I have ample time.

    I am also waiting to hear back from ConCarolinas 2015, a SF/Fantasy convention that I applied to. I'd attended it back in 2010, 2011 and 2012. It happens at the end of May/Early June and as I am a teacher, the end of the school year has recently conflicted. It's a bit of a travel (I live in Ohio) but it's a well-run mid-sized con. They say they'll get back to me as to whether I'll be invited as an author guest by early October.

    I generally do only one Con a year (the cost--I nowhere near earn back the cost for the hotel and travel and food by book sales there and the usual bump in sales in the week or so following the event). I do get a badge, and generally one for a guest who can watch my table when I'm serving on a panel. So if ConCarolinas falls through (competition for guest slots is something to consider), I might try Fandom Fest in Kentucky again. We'll see.

    Tonight I hope to do some more writing on Relic Rescue (after grading papers) and do a little work on updating my website.

    ===============

    I can't say I'll post daily here, but will try to check in regularly.
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    Managed 495 words added to Relic Rescue's first draft last night.

    Also wrote a draft for the description of Genre Shotgun's impending audiobook release and emailed it to the managing editor/owner of Gryphonwood Press for suggestions/improvement.

    Also have a picture which will be part of a blog post...of an index card with notes on it...which will be the central part of the post yet to be written. Maybe tonight.
     
  3. TWErvin2
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    Managed 850 words added to Relic Rescue's first draft. Didn't get all of the grading accomplished--close, but that is what weekends are made for, right?

    What threw me off was a call I got. I serve on the Village Council, and we'd had an emergency meeting last Thursday. Thought things were addressed satisfactorily. Apparently not. That took up about 45 minutes, with me having to follow up and review my notes and previous meeting minutes and information.

    Did post a new blog entry for Up Around the Corner, discussing some of the old school writing process I use.

    I also had to post on an Amazon thread linked to Relic Tech the other day, responding to a reader question. He/she, wanted to know when Relic Tech's sequel was going to be published and available. Previously I thought this fall, but probably after the new year. I was hoping to be a two novel a year author, but maybe I'm a 1.5 novels a year author. Too many other things...teaching, village council, e-course instruction, family and everything else. Writing and the related activities are a priority, but they're not always a top priority. That doesn't mean I don't mind disappointing an interested reader.
     
  4. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Haven't managed much writing related this weekend, but there are still a few hours left before bed. Although I have some grades to enter into the electronic gradebook yet. Spent most of Saturday (after my daughter's soccer game) grading, while my wife and daughters went to an event for their Karate Dojo at a local festival. Graded today, after spending part of the afternoon with my younger daughter in the park working on soccer skills and with my other daughter, a movie...and a brief nap. (There weren't any e-course assignments to grade so I got lucky there).

    Did exchange some emails with my publisher about an upcoming promotional effort and also an email exchange with the translator working to translate Flank Hawk into Spanish. Trying to clarify proper translations for the mercenary names and such. There isn't always a direct translation or what works in English doesn't necessarily work in Spanish.

    I took Spanish in high school for a few years and one year in college, but that was a long time ago, and I've not used it since those days (decades past), thus my conversational ability in Spanish is about equal to that of a toddler. If you don't use it, skills and knowledge disappear. I suspect it is that way with writing too, but if you read, maybe that would keep the writing thoughts and skills from fully atrophying. Not something I'll experiment with :)
     
  5. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    ...
    Didn't you JUST get published again?
    How much more juice do you have man?!
    Inspiring really... I wish I could more like you.
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    A.M.P.,

    Relic Tech was released in November 2013 and Soul Forge in June 2014. The audiobook versions have followed, with the audiobook version of Soul Forge being released just last month.

    You can do the same as me, A.M.P. I just put in the time learning to write and then executing. It takes a little luck too, but more work, time and persistence than luck.
     
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  7. TWErvin2
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    Added 756 words to the work in progress (Relic Rescue).

    Been doing family related stuff and grading. Such is the life. I stayed at school until about 7:00 pm reading and commenting on student journals. It takes a lot of time, but I promise them that in addition to the grade, when they (the students) take the time to read, I take the time to read. Some teachers just glance and look at the length, but not the content.

    In any case, good to get back to writing. Also reviewed a contract, had a concern and fired off an email question. Fun stuff.

    About time for bed.
     
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    All of 211 words added to the work in progress. Finished a scene. Other things to get taken care of tonight before bed, so that'll be it.
     
  9. TWErvin2
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    This weekend was consumed mostly by grading :( Part of the job...and some Village Council work.

    I've been accepted to attend ConCarolinas 2015 as an Author Guest May 29th through 31st in Concord, North Carolina. I was a guest there back in 2010, 2011 and 2012. It'll be fun to return, meet up with some readers and friends, and cross paths with some new ones.

    I just completed the application process for the 2015 Ohioana Book Festival. I've participated in that event several times as well. Hopefully I'll be one of the authors selected to attend the event in Columbus, Ohio on April 25th.

    Filling out applications, modifying my author bio and pic and such takes time, but I keep templates and past application information. That makes the process go more smoothly. As I think I stated earlier in this thread, applying doesn't guarantee being invited. There's a lot of competition for those slotsl, and the cons and festivals are looking at what you, as an author guest, can offer those that attend the con or festival.

    Experience attending cons, writers conventions and festivals, and serving as a panelist and presenter is a benefit, as well as being well-rounded and flexible. Having a web presence, and good cover art, as well as a good novels, makes a difference too. What the Ohioana Book Festival is focused on is different than what ConCarolinas is. I can say this not only by the contents of their application and process, but having attended both in the past.

    Back to writing. I did some mental planning, working out some anticipated kinks in the plot and jotted notes on a few minor fixes from the last scene as I move forward. Hopefully, I will get an hour or two tying in tomorrow. Maybe a little after grading and leaving school and before the council meeting, and hopefully a little after the council meeting--if it doesn't go too long. Executive sessions...sometimes add an hour or more.
     
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  10. TWErvin2
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    Worked on a character interview and initiated a review with an author and with a book reviewer for my blog.

    Soul Forge got a good review on Amazon today: "I am a long time fan of the First Civilization's Legacy series. I love Flank Hawk, Lilly, and the rest. This book is the best so far, and that's saying a lot. Once again, Ervin has put together an edge-of-your-seat adventure with all your old favorite characters, and some new faces to love (or hate). Ervin knows how to build suspense and how to make you feel like you are right there with the characters. This is a good read for anyone who likes unique fantasy adventures that don't pull any punches."

    Had a slightly heated Council Meeting this evening. Always fun and interesting...okay not always. Have a few papers to grade before turning in for the evening. Just figured I'd pop in for a minute here and post.
     
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  11. TWErvin2
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    Did a little revision/editing and then added a little less than 200 words to Relic Rescue (work in progress). Also did some work with interviews for the blog.

    Almost time for bed.
     
  12. TWErvin2
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    Revised Relic Rescue's outline moving forward. I'm a person that works from an outline, giving me 'mile markers' to write towards. Helps me to avoid getting stalled or writer's block, having a specific direction or even to write toward.

    Worked on prepping a blog post and some interview information for the blog, in between grading papers.

    More papers to grade before bed. Fun stuff ;)
     
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    355 new words added to Relic Rescue tonight. Not a lot, but it's progress. Some work on the interviews for the my blog as well.

    I have tri-county planning commission meeting in November that I'll be attending. I just had the village manager include me in those attending and representing my town (okay, village) last night. This afternoon, I found out that the holiday bazaar scheduled or a Tuesday has been moved to a Thursday. Guess which Thursday. I'm already committed to both.

    Not a problem. The bazaar runs from 2:45 until 5:00 and the dinner meeting begins at 6:30 pm. Will be tight, meaning some fast packing up after the event.

    Life is always interesting.
     
  14. TWErvin2
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    Sadly, I've only added about 500 new words to Relic Rescue in the last week. Teaching and grading has taken up most of my time. I've been working on some interviews for my blog. One with a reviewer and one with an author.

    My publisher is running a sale on my novel Flank Hawk starting tonight and running through Monday. If interested, you can click on the link to my blog in my signature file for details.

    Hopefully I will manage to get a few thousand words on my work in progress.
     
  15. TWErvin2
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    Managed several hundred words on Relic Rescue this evening. I've been away from it for a while, so I did some re-reading (and editing) before picking up the storyline. May get some more words added before bed.

    Also worked on an author interview. It's nearly finished--only two more questions, maybe three, before the exchange is finished and the interview can be published on my blog. I normally do author (and other interviews) differently from most bloggers. They usually have a set of questions that they send to the author, or artist, or whoever, which are answered and returned. I've found that if I send a question, the author (or whoever is being interviewed) responds, and then I send the next question, the interviews flow better and they're not as 'cookie cutter' in structure. Not to say that that way is wrong or bad, just not what I prefer. It just takes longer.

    I have a character interview, for one of my characters, to complete. Will work on that before going back to Relic Rescue tonight.

    My publisher ran a sale of Flank Hawk, and also promoted it through Booksends. I am not sure of the exact number of sales that resulted. My publisher sent an email, indicating 25 in the first few hours or so via Amazon, but I've not followed up. My publisher and an author published with Gryphonwood are at a convention this weekend, so it's kind of a busy time on their end. An objective for later in the year is to get promoted on Bookbub. It's expensive, but often has good results. The trick is that just because a publisher (or self-published author) apply, they get accepted. There is, like so many aspects of publishing, a lot of competition for the slots. Maybe this promotional effort will have residual results beyond the short flurry of sales. 'Also bought' placement on Amazon can have a great influence on follow on sales. It's not something that can be controlled, that's for sure. The algorithms and exactly who purchased the novel that impacts such? Who knows. The other hope is that those who picked up the first novel in the series might be interested in the second and possibly the third, and even other novels and stories by the author outside the series. And that they might review it favorably and recommend it to their circle of friends. But all of those things are largely outside the control of an author (and publisher). The next best thing to do? Complete another novel. Fortunately my novels sell well enough that my publisher is interested in what I am working on next.

    Also, I am fortunate, I believe, in that although my publisher isn't a big one, it does spend some money and puts effort into marketing. It's one aspect all authors should research and consider before submitting a manuscript to a publisher. Not all publishers are created equal. Is mine (Gryphonwood) the best out there? No, especially when compared to major publishing houses. But they've done well by me.

    I know more than a few authors that regret publishers they submitted a manuscript to and signed a contract with. The fact that a publisher offers a contract can sometimes influence a first time (or even second time) published author to be more interested in getting their work published and available than consider the contract and who's publishing it, and what to expect--including the likely results.

    Well, off to work on the character interview.
     
  16. GingerCoffee
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    Haven't had a chance to peek at this past book of yours yet but you have a fair number of good reviews.

    Relic Tech (Crax War Chronicles Book 1)
     
  17. TWErvin2
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    GingerCoffee,

    Thanks for mentioning Relic Tech and taking a look. It's actually the best selling novel of all my books. Relic Rescue (its sequel) is what I'm writing now. And, yes, Relic Tech has earned a lot of good reviews. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but I don't think any author can please everyone. I will say that right now my publisher has put Relic Tech in a Sci-Fi Six Pack, available for a short time for 99 cents. If you, or anyone might be interested, that would be the best deal. Three SF novels (including Relic Tech), two novellas and a short story.

    Managed 440 words added to Relic Rescue's first draft tonight. Picking up some momentum. Going to read about 20 minutes of Hawk (by Steven Brust) and then turn in for the night.
     
  18. TWErvin2
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    Since last checking in I've added about 800 words to my work in progress (Relic Rescue) and made a couple blog posts.

    I just finished grading and entering grades for the end of the quarter, so I might get some writing accomplished tonight.
     
  19. TWErvin2
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    Did a little revision and editing for Relic Rescue. The result was a net 35 words added.

    Spent more time working on a Character Interview for a blog.

    Progress, but not as much as I'd like.
     
  20. TWErvin2
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    No progress with the work in progress. Grading papers and essay rough drafts, had my younger daughter's parent teacher conference and a few other tasks.

    I did exchange some emails with my publisher and the narrator completing the audiobook version of Genre Shotgun. It's time for bed, so too late to start any writing.
     
  21. TWErvin2
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    Added 351 words yesterday and 406 today to Relic Rescue's rough draft. Progress, but not a lot. Maybe some tomorrow, but there will be grading journals and parent-teacher conferences.

    Monday had a council meeting that went until 10:00 pm. Just a lot of things going on. Such is life.
     
  22. TWErvin2
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    The audiobook version of Genre Shotgun (my short story collection) will soon be available. The narrator contacted my publisher that the final version has been uploaded and to proceed with the publishing process. It normally takes 2-3 weeks.

    Also, the other day the translator who is translating Flank Hawk into Spanish indicated he is working on a final pass to eliminate any errors that might have snuck in and yet remain. I don't know how long the process will be for that as it's my first experience at having a novel translated. I doubt I'll be reading it, as my conversational ability in Spanish is about that of a toddler. I took Spanish in high school back in the early 1980, and really haven't used it much since.

    As far as progress on Relic Rescue, I'm closing in on 50,000 words. Just too much grading and such going on to make great leaps ahead. But 400 words here and 600 there add up. On Amazon, a reader posted a note in the forum for Relic Tech saying he (she) wanted to know if the sequel would be out in 2105 and didn't want to miss it, and indicated that he (or she) was going to try my other books. I will reassess how long it may take before replying, but it will definitely be published in 2015. My publisher is waiting for my completed draft so that it can be edited (yet again)--usually two passes and cover art and ARCs and descriptions, and all that goes with the process.

    Fortunately, although I write sort of slowly, I don't tend to have plot holes that need serious filling and major revisions aren't needed. Still from beginning to end, I usually read/edit/revise in the full novel about 9 times.

    Sometimes readers ask if I've read my novels since they've been published. Generally no, I don't. However, when they get made into audio, I sometimes proof, which means I listen to the novel (and often follow along with the print version). So I guess, technically these days I do. But I will say that having someone read your novel to you is far different (and a pleasant experience) than reading it to yourself (which is also pleasant).

    But, having read/edited at least 9 times, I get to know the story well, and I still enjoy reading when I'm editing. I also go back and revisit sections and chapters when writing the sequels, to make sure I get the various character's right--their actions, the way they speak and things like that.

    Well, off to grade and maybe get some more writing accomplished tonight. I'm a bit behind as I had to drop my daughters off at Karate because my wife had a late client (my wife and daughters practice Karate while I grade and write and do Village Council stuff and more). The drive to Springfield takes about 30 minutes, but it took longer because there is still ice on various stretches of the roads. And it's darn cold (in the single digits Fahrenheit) with a bit of wind. Even so several deer crossed the road in front of me.

    Well, I can write here or get on the ball and write more in my novel later ;)
     
  23. TWErvin2
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    Hope to get some writing in tomorrow. None really in the last few days.

    I did have an okay holiday festival. Sold 6 books, which isn't great, but most of the customers were ladies 50 and above, so not exactly my target audience (with SF/Fantasy). I have another event (Christmas in the Village) on December 6th. Did well there last year and hope to do better this year.

    Also, I met a fellow author a few years back at my first Fandom Fest (fantasy/SF convention in Louisville, KY). His table was next to mine. Anyway, we've kept in contact. Early this fall he and some of his friends opened up a store (One Stop Adventure Shop). They stock my books, but also I was contacted by the fellow author about a mini-convention they're having there and wanted to know if I wanted a booth--at no cost--this spring. Can't beat that. Only a two hour drive.

    In addition, a member of the local library board crossed paths with me in town. He said the library is going organize a local author event and wanted me to attend, so I gave him a business card so he could contact me when they had more details.

    Networking and taking advantage of opportunities where they present themselves.

    On an annoyance comment: A box of books from my publisher showed up on the porch. Note, the snow around here is melting. The box, cardboard, wasn't put in plastic. Fortunately, only one book was a little water damaged. Good job UPS.

    I did all of my grading today (just finished a short while ago). Will try to get some writing accomplished tomorrow.
     
  24. TWErvin2
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    One thing writers and authors, and to a lesser extent, reviewers and readers, discuss and have an interest in are reviews.

    As an author, it doesn't matter how good your work is, it won't be interesting or engaging for everyone who might come across it and give it a try. While good reviews are, well, good to receive (who writes a book with the goal of it being crappy and an unenjoyably experience for readers?), poor reviews are not so exciting to receive.

    But, it's part of the business. It's something an author has to accept. That doesn't make it fun or easy. And poor reviews also adversely affect potential/future readership. A bad review can have far more influence than a slew of good reviews--for a host of reasons.

    Here's an extensive poor review of one of my works (Relic Tech--the audiobook version).

    "Boring, and unbelievable"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
    A more believable story would help. Better narrator with more variety between voices. I gave up part way through the second half.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Terry W. Ervin II again?
    Nope - not a chance. Terry W Ervin is on my "avoid at all costs" list (I usually use another name for this list, but don't want to be rude).

    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?
    I suppose at least the performer's voice was pleasant, but there wasn't enough variety between character voices - leading to losing track of which character was talking.

    You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?
    Almost anything/everything led to me being distracted - I was that bored. I persisted as far as I did because the premise had promise, but I couldn't stick with it to the end, I just gave up on it.


    Any additional comments?
    If you like being bored, or just need some background noise while doing something else, then grab this, otherwise, avoid it.

    The reviewer gave it 2 of 5 stars for the three Audible rating areas: Overall, for Story and for Performance.

    It did make me wonder what kind of story would have merited a 1 star.

    In any case, while it's not a positive review, that's okay. It's a reader/listener's opinion.

    One thing that some authors are tempted to do is to engage reviewers, ask questions, justify the quality of their novel or story, point out where the reviewer was factually wrong or more. This is a mistake...it doesn't work out well for the author, ever. (Okay, maybe someone could find an example where it did). Readers and reviewers tend to revolt, whether an author or other readers/reviewers thing it's justified or not. What is important to me is that for some reason my work proved to be a disappointment to the listener/reader. Yes, can't please everyone, but for some reason I didn't manage to fulfill the promise of what was described--what caused the reader/listener to give my work a shot.

    Again, it's part of the business. Hopefully an authors work is of sufficient quality that it'll garner more reviews that are positive than those that are negative, because bad press/reviews aren't necessarily better than no press/reviews.

    I can say that Relic Tech on Audible has done well with ratings in the USA (not so well in the UK where the review above came from). The rating of Relic Tech for the overall on Audible (US/UK) is:
    22 x five stars
    13 x four stars
    5 x three starts
    3 x 2 stars
    3 x 1 stars for a 4 average

    But shortly after the review in question was posted (the UK shows with the novel description on the USA Audible site), sales dropped off to about 1/5 their preview rate after a week or so. Maybe it was a coincidence. Just because one thing happens does not mean it caused something else to occur. Still, the way things go, visibility is important, and when Relic Tech began to slip from the 'also bought' lists, that probably caused the permanent weaker rate of sales/listenership.

    What's to be done? As an author, keep writing, keep producing. Don't let setbacks knock and keep you down.

    Okay, maybe not a typical journal/progress entry for here on the forum, but I figured I'd share some of my thoughts, not only about 'the good' but also 'the not so good.'
     
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  25. TWErvin2
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    Ohio, USA
    Haven't made a lot of progress writing, but that's okay. Some progress is progress (with Relic Rescue). I have a book signing event (Christmas in the Village--St. Paris where I live) in about an hour. It's just down the street and my table is already set up. If things get slow, I may do some handwriting in a spiral notebook on Relic Rescue.

    Did a presentation for the Digital Design and Print class where I work (I work at a Career Technical High School) yesterday. I've been doing it about once a year. One or two in the past have gone into doing covers or layouts on the side for some self-publishers and a small press, at least for a while, although I've lost track of them, other than a thanks when they came back to visit the school.

    The audiobook version of Genre Shotgun (my short story collection) was released in audiobook this week. I've not developed a solid way to market audiobooks yet. Everything is a learning process. Sometimes it's difficult to collect data, to learn what's effective and what's not. Not a lot of 'controlled' experimental situations, and sometimes sales rise for no reason related to my or my publisher's efforts--or maybe they do. Sometimes there may be a delayed response, or none at all, of course.

    Well, probably should get ready to go. Just figured I'd check in here as I hadn't done so in a while.
     

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