The Solarium


So, now that both Graffiti Grandma and The Solarium are being sold on Amazon, Lulu, iBook and Nook (don’t even ask what this last few weeks have been like), I am beginning the marketing.

I like that word. Marketing. It seems professional. A Facebook page is under construction. I am reading a few other writers’ blogs. I have hired a web page genius who happens to also be a good friend even though I’m twice her age. I have on-line joined a couple of indie writers and publishers groups. That’s what we self-publishers are called with only a slight squint nowadays, a lot better than the derisive downward curve of the lip that used to accompany “vanity press.”

I haven’t a clue what to do next. Altogether I have sold maybe thirty copies of my books. My son even bought one and downloaded onto his 21-inch Mac. He will be paralyzed if he tries to read it that way, sitting straight up in his desk chair, but the effort warms his mother’s heart. A friend gave up trying to find one of my books on iTunes and downloaded the Glee-Madonna album instead. Another friend said, “Jo, I don’t do e-books. I don’t do Facebook. I don’t do the internet. Mostly, I don’t do computer. What else is there?” I ran off the manuscript of The Solarium and sent it snail mail to her, but warned her to open it carefully because Kindle formatting doesn’t do page numbers.

For the past day or so, I’ve begun to realize how easy it is to become addicted to the possibilities that the computer screen offers anyone who needs to make life, or in my case, marketing, perfect. This morning I Googled “e-book reviews” and two hours later it comes to me that I’ve been overtaken by hundreds of reviews of e-books, yes, but books written by Janet Evanovitch and that Patterson guy and others who get reviewed whenever they sneeze. No one’s going to review either one of my offerings, except my friend-writer Peggy who knew I’d also do it for her if it comes to that. Which it won’t because her first book may be picked up by a publisher who is entering the e-book business with romantic-mystery books, which is Peggy’s genre.

There is no genre for stories of old ladies who may or may not have mysterious (at least to anyone under sixty) notions–but think about it–who’s out there to notion with? Perhaps that’s where the mystery comes in. An old people’s genre? Somehow made sell-worthy with a handsome ninety-year-old lothario who happens to be a serial killer? (I’m noting that last sentence for further consideration.)

I have decided to take control of my days and my computer. Mornings are for writing the next novel about an old lady, to hell with it, and the afternoons will be for cruising the internet for marketing ideas that don’t cost $3,000. At noon I am joining a senior exercise class and giving my body a break.

“Mens sana in corpore sano.” At least I may get one of those right.


And she’s not singing yet. Just humming a little.

A Facebook questionnaire asks my favorite quotation and I answer, “Patience is a virtue” to which the response is, “Cannot find the author.” Well, neither can I, and I can’t think of another wise saying that makes much sense to me, at the moment, at least.

Now I have another, and again I don’t know its source.

Last night a friend called and said that The Solarium she bought was pocked with 0’s wherever a quote mark or a apostrophe should be, making the page look a little like a coded message to a Second World War espionage caper. I didn’t goof this time. Kindle did, right after we agreed I had a perfect copy, picture and all, to sell. All I admit to is a moment or three of basking in the pride of producing a gorgeous thing. I was reminded of giving birth, only without the diapers. I sent messages to people. It’s here!

Perfect, except for embedded coded messages.

I write the obligatory email to Kindle beginning with, “Mi god! What have you done?”

And I drink a little Scotch and go to sleep. ”Pride goeth before the fall” is the last thought that passes across me.

This morning I awake to yellow light at the window. Sun. So what. I still have a damaged story I won’t want to let anyone I know buy. And worse yet, Kindle hasn’t responded to my plea. I’m pretty sure that Kindle is a machine, not a human, even if it calls itself Violet in its notes to me. Too busy with other pleas. Many pleas. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I walk the dog in the sunny morning. He seems pleased that after days of avoidance I finally have recognized his heavy breathing at my feet and get the message. Out. He can almost say “out,” but I haven’t been listening lately. Lucky he also has a father figure who has filled in.

Picking up dog-do is not usually inspiring, but somewhere between the plastic bag and the “Good dog, Willie” I come to the realization that like my old-man dog, I need to take control. By the time I get home I decide I do not need a picture in my book. People who have already read it with or without a picture do not seem to care. What I need is a clean copy of my story. I erase the corrupted copy, republish a readable one, and, pouring a glass of Sauvignon blanc, murmur, “ It ain’t over. . . .”

Anyone know who said this? I could use it on my Facebook page, if I can find it again.

Following Directions, Mine and Kindle’s

The new year inspires the setting of goals for me.  Besides eating healthy, exercising every day, and weaning myself off Perry Mason, this year I’ve added a new category:  obsessing, the stoppage of.   It wasn’t until I tried publishing an ebook or two on my own that I realized the presence of this flaw in my otherwise stable persona.

My fingers need no signals from any part of my body to type “kdp” to get my Amazon account. They get active the moment I get up in the morning and continue twitching throughout the day as I walk by my bedroom door, hear the siren call of my iMac. I have published  The Solarium many times, then unpublished the various versions, then cried Help Me at Kindle (Is my helper’s name really Rahul?  And wouldn’t it be easier if he would call me once in a while instead of passing on instructions from the Kindle guide which I can’t decipher past HMTL and zip before breaking out in a cold sweat? I could have told him that the directions he sent were for PCs not an iMac.  Not that I might have interpreted them any better, but at least they wouldn’t advise me to right click on something, an instruction that does not speak Apple language.)

I’m ranting like an old woman. It’s my right. And while I’m at it, Christmas didn’t help matters. Talk about obsessive behavior. Cooking strata three days before we would even be interested in thinking about it; rushing out for the last-minute gifts that ended up being crushed in the wrapping paper they came in and sent out to the recycle bin; pushing the Boma mop over floors that have never seen the light of day under their layers of dust and wouldn’t again for at least a year; polishing the silver and setting a table so early I should have run the Boma mop over the plates before we ate.  I ran out to find a pc string of lights that lit up after a day in the sun despite the fact that we might not have any sun and if we did, the lights were so small we couldn’t see them anyway from the ground level.  In a final frenzy, just before people were to arrive I threw an expensive crab dip everyone used to love on Christmas Eve into the oven only to discover that everyone was on a diet.

And in between all this stirring, sweeping, running down the street, feeding the dog his anxiety pills and being tempted to try them myself, in between all this, Kindle lets me know that I won’t have a picture on the version (#9) that I’m publishing because I still don’t get zipping and never will.  Rahul began, I think, to realize he was working with a electronically-disadvantaged  old person and he sent two pages of instructions, all for the PC again.  The same day, Lulu let me know that Nook didn’t like the way I’d set up the chapters in Graffiti Grandma. I emailed and explained I’d done everything they’d told me to do, as far as I could understand their instructions, so now what? They haven’t answered in four days. I think they need a Rahul, only one that understands iMacs.

Then in the evening the family came in, hugging, smiling, noticing the faint Christmas lights on the terrace, the drinks on the counter, the cheese ready for melting in the wine-filled pots. We settled into our usual program:  drinks, the Christmas readings and songs in front of the electric furnace, Nana at 96 reading with the youngest grand daughter The Night Before Christmas, all of us humming and singing “White Christmas” just as we did when Gramps’ tenor voice led the way. I stirred the fondue, listening, watching, glad.

When my fingers finally got back to the waiting iMac, I had a message from a friend.  She loved my book.  She wishes it and me well.  She’s telling everyone she knows about it.  And Amazon informs me my earnings to date are $l8.94.  And that’s with the first glitchy version.  Wait until the perfect one comes out!  Once I figure out what a zip is. Damn. I’m getting obsessed again. Happy 2012!

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