We’re Doing This To Ourselves—And It’s Hard to Comprehend

We’re Doing This To Ourselves—And It’s Hard to Comprehend

As the COVID-19 crisis grinds on and on, I’ve become increasingly motivated to write about it…for a number of reasons.

First, we’re all thinking about it, so I might as well address it here.

Second, I’ve sort of avoided writing about it in some previous blog posts, because I knew everyone was thinking about it.

And third, I really feel compelled to process how much better other countries are doing addressing this virus.

 

Developing—Or Better Developed?

My wife and I frequently discuss the ongoing crisis, often in the context of her native Thailand. After all, that’s her natural frame of reference, and a frame of which I also have some understanding.

Though I may not have written about it here, I’ve told many friends and colleagues the story of my hospital visit in Thailand in 2014.

When you come from the US, and have had horrendous experiences waiting for hours in an emergency room, you don’t relish the thought of visiting one in a developing country. But when I came down with one of my infamous sinus infections during a trip to Thailand, my wife said, “We have to go to the hospital.”

I faintly protested but acquiesced, figuring she ultimately knew better than me. It’s her country.

Off we went, and entered a very normal, modern hospital in Bangkok. There were hardly any patients in the ER waiting area. Within less than 45 minutes, I was in front of a doctor’s desk, and my then-fiancée translated my sinus woes to the doctor. Shortly thereafter, I was out the door—with a number of medications from the hospital’s in-house pharmacy, including the medication I’d requested, as well as an allergy med, just in case I was wrong.

Total cost: about 1,500 Thai baht, or $50.00.

Contrast that with my wife’s ER visit here in the states a year later, when she had bronchitis on Christmas weekend. Hours of waiting, a battery of tests, and a bill for $5,000…$1,000 of which we had to pay out of pocket.

 

Our Medical/Political Ignorance

One thing I’ve learned over the past few months of quarantine is that Thai people know how to handle a pandemic much better than my average fellow American citizen.

For one, it’s a natural thing in Thai culture to wear a mask if you are sick. You leave your residence and go out in public—whether to the doctor or the grocery store—and you wear a mask to protect other people from you.

I’d never heard of such an approach to citizenship, I’m sorry to say. Never even thought about it. Sadly, we are taught to be relatively selfish here, at least compared with Thailand.

The result? Well, we can see it in the news every day. The US COVID-19 numbers are far worse than other countries, including the number of deaths. It’s beyond tragic, and the absurdity of it is that it was preventable.

It’s easy to blame our garbage president, and he’s got plenty of blood on his hands, as far as I’m concerned. But even more sad, really, is that a little self-education on our part, and some personal responsibility, could have prevented tens of thousands of deaths here.

The COVID-19 numbers in Thailand are stunningly low: a total of 3,295 confirmed cases, most of which came in March and April. This is in a “developing” country with a population of nearly 70 million. Sure, there are still new cases, but the daily count is in the single or low double digits. Five or ten, as opposed to five or ten thousand.

And the total number of fatalities in Thailand? An unthinkable 58. Contrasted with 147,000 American fatalities, that number is even more astonishingly sad.

The difference: ordinary citizens wearing masks.

So yeah, we’re doing this to ourselves. And it’s got to stop. Everyone needs to do their part—not because the government, or Costco, or whoever said to do it. Because it’s the right thing to do. It’s really the only sane thing to do.

Who You Gonna Call? or Being Your Own Tech Support

I wrote my third novel between about 2007 and 2015. I can’t say it took a full eight years to write – I got stuck in the final third for a couple years – but it was an ambitious project. I’d gone from a third person novel to a first person novel, and now I was going...
no more for the road

No More For The Road

I took my last drink 32 years ago. Hard to believe I’ve reached that many years of continuous sobriety. If you’d asked me the day before I stopped drinking whether I had an alcohol problem, I would have said No. Mainly because I didn’t think I did. What I had was an...
announcing

Announcing The Whizzers Launch Team!

This weekend, I got my edited copy of Whizzers back from editing and sent out my monthly newsletter announcing the formation of the Whizzers Launch Team. Stuff is a-happening! As Mike Ehrmantraut once said to Jessie Pinkman, "Big doings today." Of course, that...
proofreading

The Improtance Of Poorfreading

So right up front, I know I'm taking a gamble with today's headline. I only hope most readers of this blog will be able to translate Improtance into Importance, and Poorfreading into Proofreading. Goodness knows Spellcheck tried to change them on me. The reason for...
reaper

COVID-19: The Reaper that Keeps on Reaping

Last week I wrote about the trials and tribulations of my immediate family. I’d love to brag about how much better things are this week, but…eh…not so much. While we were contending with my mother going from a hospital to a skilled nursing facility, we had some more...
presidents

Presidents’ Day: Crappy Holiday Or The Crappiest Holiday?

“The buck stops here.” —Harry S. Truman “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” —John F. Kennedy “I don’t take any responsibility at all.” —That guy   I’m old—so old I remember when we celebrated George Washington’s...
deferred

21st Century Etiquette (Or the Lack Thereof)

"There are so many unreliable people now that being reliable in and of itself is a valuable rare trait." - Louis Leung I have always thought that certain bare minimum requirements for etiquette are particularly important in business. For example: "do what you said you...

Lovers In A Dangerous Time

This past weekend, I did what a lot of us are doing nowadays—frittered some time away on Facebook. I'm doing one of those "post the cover of an album you love" every day for a week or whatever, and Sunday's pick was Bruce Cockburn's Stealing Fire, which featured the...
morning

5 Things to Do Before You Begin Your Writing Day

What should you do before you start your writing day? I've read plenty of advice on topics like this over the years, and I have to say upfront: I don't think there's a right way or a wrong way. You have to do what works for you. However, I've also tried to do things...
coding

You Can’t Do It All—And You Don’t Have To!

I wrote a post a couple weeks ago called What I’ve Learned In Six Years of Growing An Indie Author Business. One of the points ran as follows: Even if you're traditionally published, you still have to do a lot of the heavy marketing lifting. As an indie, be prepared...
Why I Don’t Want You to Buy My Latest Book—Yet

Why I Don’t Want You to Buy My Latest Book—Yet

One of the biggest challenges indie authors face is that of marketing. We ask ourselves a million questions when putting together a marketing plan, often with answers that are hazy at best.

Who is my audience?

Where do they find books?

What marketing services should I use?

And so on, ad infinitum.

You can only spend so much time researching all this stuff; eventually, you have to get off the dime and make some decisions.

As a busy writer with freelance articles to write in addition to all my other duties, time is of the essence for me. So once I did my research, I started making decisions.

I’ll be the first to admit I made some doozies. But when I found something that worked for me, it worked really well.

 

The Power of Promotion

When profit margins on a single item are slim, it’s always good to make a larger number of sales. Sell a new car, and maybe you only need one or two sales a month; sell an ebook, and that big $0.99 royalty needs to be repeated again and again.

Because I’ve always priced my books fairly, I find I require some sort of paid promotions to keep sales going. Of the services I’ve used, a company called Written Word Media has worked the best for me.

Now, they’re not paying me to write this. In fact, I’d be surprised if anyone working there ever reads this blog. But I believe their service works because they have a large list of readers—we’re talking tens of thousands. For a small fee, I can get my work in front of all those book-lovers.

The first time I tried it for Whizzers, I saw the Amazon Bestseller Rank go from #1.5M to #125,783…a jump of 1.4M spots in a single day! Months later, when I used the service again, Whizzers had trailed back down to #800K. That promo moved it all the way up to #70,297. That’s out of 4M+ books in the Kindle Store.

So when I write a headline like Why I Don’t Want You to Buy My Latest Book Yet, it’s for one simple reason: I’m running another promo in ten days on Saturday, August 1st.

If you’ve already got a copy of Whizzers, I thank you. Hope you loved it enough to write a review and tell your book-loving friends.

If you haven’t bought a copy, August 1st would be the perfect time. It’s also #SelfPromoSaturday that day, which means people will move organically from Twitter to Amazon to check it out. But the majority of sales will likely come from the promo. Push it high enough on the Kindle Store list, and Amazon will take note…which will help sales in the future.

And there you have it. Authors, consider Written Word Media’s services to promote your book. Readers, thanks again, and please tell your network about the August 1st promo!

Book Fair Time Coming September 17th

Most of my blog posts are related in one way or another to the business of being an author - expanding your author platform, improving your book marketing, and so on - and not strictly self-promotional. However, every once in a while, I've got a radio interview or...
insomnia

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #1: Insomnia

A few weeks ago, my wife and I got a limited time offer subscription to HBO Max. I decided to avail myself of the opportunity to rewatch the 2003 Robin Williams/Al Pacino vehicle Insomnia, which I’d originally seen in the theatre when it came out. Williams plays an...
biscuit

“What Do You Want for Nothing—A Rubber Biscuit?”

Readers who are old enough to remember the Blues Brothers’ cover version of The Chips’ Rubber Biscuit will no doubt understand the reference in today’s headline. For everyone else: just shorten it to “What do you want for nothing?” I guess that’s my way of saying,...
platform

Platform-Building for Authors

A while back, I wrote a LinkedIn article on platform-building for authors, a frequent topic for my speaking gigs and for online posts in general. Today I thought I'd revisit some of that for the blog, discussing how speaking can help an author. Building a platform...
asia

Adventures In Southeast Asia

“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” ― Eugene Ionesco I first began visiting Southeast Asia over twenty years ago, so it probably comes as a surprise to readers that I haven't written about my...

Facebook vs. Twitter

The news that Microsoft will be acquiring LinkedIn just sent shockwaves through the social media world, immediately leading to speculation about Twitter. Is it going to be next? We all assume that Facebook is not for sale, but in our topsy-turvy media world, I suppose...

And So The Tour Ends

Well, it's finally over: the blog tour for the relaunch of Miles of Files ends today with a stop at Novelgossip, hosted by the fabulous Amy. I say fabulous because, man oh man, has she got a following! Not even four o'clock, and already 33 bloggers have liked the...
guilt

The Problem With Guilt-Inducing Advice

I frequently see tweets asking, “What’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever heard?” I don’t know if I want to comment on that, exactly, but I do have something else in mind. Probably the biggest cliché writers will ever hear is some variation on the old saw, Write...
humor

When Your Sense of Humor Is One Part Vonnegut, Two Parts Hunter S. Thompson

Sometimes you have to really switch things up. Even shake them up. Such is the case with artists of all types, and I’m the kind of novelist who needs to shake things up from book to book. I've never written a series, and I don't think I could unless my life depended...
book launch

Ready to Launch Into 2019?

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I’ve shown an obsessive side lately – lots of content about my upcoming book launch. I’m releasing my fourth novel, Whizzers, in 2019. That means I’m putting a lot of emphasis on building my marketing plan well in...
Why Subscribe To A Blog?

Why Subscribe To A Blog?

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you probably know I post something new on my blog most Mondays.

Or maybe you don’t know that at all.

I’ll admit, I’m not exactly the greatest promoter of my own blog. When it comes to social media platforms like Twitter, I’m more a broadcaster than a back-and-forth chat guy.

Somehow, though, the blog is different—at least to my way of thinking.

 

The Purpose of a Blog

Not all blogs have the same purpose, and I’ll be the first to state that mine is not strictly sales-y.

While some blogs are 100% promotional, this blog is more likely to serve as a place to share personal experience… whether it’s a rant on Florida drivers or a post about the challenges my wife and I face as we contend with the coronavirus pandemic.

Because it’s not a sales-oriented blog with advertisers in the sidebar, I don’t always think to ask people to subscribe. But that’s about to change.

 

Hey, It’s Free!

There are a few ways we authors gain interest in our books: online promotions, monthly newsletters, and blogs are just a few.

For me, this blog is essential for a few reasons. Sure, sometimes I use it to share news about my books. But I also host guest authors, link out to other resources, and yes, post rants about stuff that bugs me.

Like my quarterly newsletter, there’s no cost to subscribe to this blog. And you might find some great reading here—from other authors as well as myself.

Check it out and subscribe today. And please feel free to comment below!

Short Story Contest Part II

Last week, I launched a short story contest here on my blog as part of a major national promotion. To recap: this is not a call for submissions; I'm serializing a short story in anticipation of my upcoming release of a short collection. Here's how it works: read it...
next book

Talking About My Next Book: More On Whizzers

Talking or writing about your new book is always unnerving for an author. Well, for this author, anyway. I can't really speak for anyone else.Back in November, fellow author Jay Lemming conducted an author interview with me for about 45 minutes. We spoke about a...
history

Nostalgia, Conspiracies, and A Vanishing World

Recently, I’ve been visiting the minutiae of history a little more than usual. Some of my readers may be aware that I’m a a big music fan, and have collected music in various formats over most of my life. While it’s often digital these days, I've also been known to...
no more for the road

No More For The Road

I took my last drink 32 years ago. Hard to believe I’ve reached that many years of continuous sobriety. If you’d asked me the day before I stopped drinking whether I had an alcohol problem, I would have said No. Mainly because I didn’t think I did. What I had was an...
newsletter

Got Those Old Indie Author Newsletter Blues

It’s Monday again, and that means it’s time for my weekly blog post. Today I’m going to talk a bit about newsletters—more specifically, the kind of newsletter an indie author like myself sends to his readers. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept, an...

Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

When I was thinking of the title for this week's post, I realized I really needed to look it up and confirm that the word is "peace" and not "piece." Just in case. I'd forgotten that that expression is commonly used in weddings...ironic, since my lovely wife and I...
repetition

Insanity: Writing the Same Thing Over and Over?

Sometimes I feel like I’m standing at the bottom of those steps. I’ve been really lucky: I’ve had the good fortune to publish and sell four of my novels, and I run a freelance writing and editing business as well. I have great clients who love what I do and send me...
game of thrones

3 Reasons the End of Game of Thrones is an Example of Good Storytelling

Social media is interesting: every time an artist or entertainer creates a new work, it’s going to get mixed reviews. Even in the case of a highly popular TV series like Game of Thrones, the armchair critics come out with their claws sharpened—especially when...

Strictly Business

So lately I've been looking a little bit like this guy - although this dude is younger, and probably better-looking, than me.  I mean I've been hunched over an iMac or MacBook quite a bit, working furiously on building my business. Now, I know that the people who...

Blatant Self-Promotion Post

This week is The Big One: the 2nd edition of Miles of Files launches on Mar. 10th, almost 15 months to the day of its initial release! When I won a book cover design from 99designs, I immediately thought of Miles. I was never quite as enamored with the original cover...