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Winter Newsletter, 2015

Howdy Folks,

I have never felt less like writing one of these. 2014 was a suck year. Shirl and I have finally discovered the secret of the Golden Years. They are really iron pyrite. She is getting injections in her back for lower back pain, and I just got one in my knee that I suspect will not solve my problem.

Fortunately, if I have to go in for a knee replacement, and I probably will, my orthopedic guy has a brother who is a master wood carver, whom he assures me makes the most beautiful peg legs. Maybe Danish Modern or Mission Oak, or perhaps something out of steel since we live in a woods infested by woodpeckers. I just want him to build a concealed blade into it, like the sword canes of old. Better yet, the way things are going, he could build an assault rifle into it. I can just see it now. I am attacked by two muggers, I lift my leg to fire, and then I am grabbed by the cops. Down at the station, I tell the desk sergeant about the muggers, but the two cops who arrested me tell him they saw no muggers, "only this guy lifting his leg next to a fire hydrant." See, even if the surgery works out right, I get screwed. And when it doesn't, I have real problems. This spring the eye doctor told me that I needed cataract surgery. He promised, "Your vision will be better than ever. It'll be just like x-ray vision." I said, "Do it!" Down the road from me is a school where the cheerleaders practice in the parking lot right near the road. However, when I drive down the road now all I can see is this bright glare, even on cloudy days. When I drive up the road, same thing. He put the new lenses in backward! But looking inward, shouldn't I be able to see my mind? I can't see it! Surely, that doesn't mean I've lost my mind! Maybe, I just sorta misplaced it. After all, I am always misplacing my car keys. But a mind...a mind is a terrible thing to misplace.

Shirl has spent much of the year vagabonding about the country. I think I mentioned in my last missive her 10 day tour, with her buddy, of national parks out west. Then of course came a week's trip to Key West with our neighbors and friends the Rochats. (She brought back a sinus and throat rot from that which almost put me in the hospital.) Next, there was a trip to see her sister in Oregon and finally a visit to see her childhood pal and former writing parting Carol in Michigan. In between, she has been working on a new book titled HEART STOPPER. In should be ready in the spring, and even with her travels we did manage to get up in ebook 5 novels last year: a regency trilogy ("The House of Dreams") and a related pair of romantic suspense books ("California Heat"). Two of the historicals (LOVING LUCIFER AT MIDNIGHT and LOVING LIES AT MIDNIGHT) and one of the suspense books (DANGEROUS GAME) are originals, never before in print.

Still, Shirl's ebook biz is having problems. We anticipated ups and downs. In this business there always are, but the last half of this year, sales didn't just start to dip, they dropped. She made good money in 2013. This year she will make about 40% less. Next year, who knows? The problem seems to be two-fold. Amazon started this program for its Kindle readers called Kindle Unlimited, a Netflix for books. Read all you want for 9.99 a month. Writers who enroll their books in the program get substantially less royalty for their work than usual and their books cannot appear on any other ebook platform such as Nook, Apple, etc. Whether or not writers put their work in KU, almost everyone experienced a drop in income, some as much as 70%. This has led many established authors to withdraw their work from the program. Another part of the problem is that, in desperation, many authors began to under price their books to attract readers, which has hastened the downward spiral. The new gimmick for these writers, most new, is to band together to offer a 10-book box set for .99 cents. Ten authors for .99! The idea seems to be to get their names out at whatever cost, even 9 cents a book! Maybe it will work, but lordy, Shirl's stuff is $2.99 or $3.99. Hardly exorbitant prices.

Nonetheless, Shirl and I will have to come up with some promotional strategy ourselves for next year. Maybe we will do a couple or so box sets ourselves, but not for .99! I'd be happy for any promo ideas you could pass along--indeed I'd be slavishly grateful. And don't forget to write those reviews. That's the best promo of all.

So far, Matt remains healthy and well employed...we'll see. His telecom company has been bought out again, and we wait with baited breath to find out if Amazon bought it.

Happy 2015,


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