Confessions From Quarantine
Fourteen months ago, when life became weirdly constricted, I didn’t wonder what to do with all that extra time. I’d read of course. Read, write a bit, and read some more. I could never tire of reading but by month 7 my eyes could — and did. I was ordered to rest my vision for one month. There’s always audio books, but I hate earbuds.
I tried daytime TV – in that murky upper cable range. I found myself in awe of the creativity of producers desperate for material to fill a 24/7 schedule. What obscure subjects! Shows like Storm of Suspicion. “True crime series that examines spellbinding crimes where the weather uncovered or solved crimes.” Wow! How many of those can you dig up? I moved on to an array of paranormal shows that all seemed to feature casually dressed young people filmed by a shaky camera in a deserted house where they would stop in shock and ask in a whisper, “Did you hear that?” Well, I never heard any thing and Ghost Busters did the hand held ghost meter thing a whole lot better. I conclude that daytime TV is not much of a pasttime.
Next — cooking. I’ve said before I’m not much good at it, but I do strive (now and then) to improve. I Googled ‘simple French recipes’ hoping to dazzle Tom and tried a stuffed chicken roulade touted to be “All the French, none of the fussiness.” Tricksy click bait, that. First I needed to pound my butterflied chicken breasts to ½ inch thickness. Pound them? I have hammers, but I wouldn’t eat something I used them on. I settled on whacking them about with a rolling pin. They weren’t all that thick anyway.
I made the simple filling (I’m good with vegies and nuts). It was the roll up part that got me. My breasts just weren’t cooperative. Once I finally got them in the hot pan they refused to stay neatly rolled. In the end it tasted pretty good, but it wasn’t pretty. Enough with cooking.
By now the eyes felt rested and ready to resume their primary function— reading. It was just a question of what to read. I wanted something entirely new to me. Something I might never in a million years seek out. And I found it by the cover. There is a promise in the lurid illustrations of a hugely muscled man, his clothing torn from battle, his eyes uncompromising. The tales of Doc Savage, the man of bronze were written in the 1930’s and 40’s, all 182 of them.
Lester Dent authored most under the house name Kenneth Robeson and the world and characters he built for the tales hold up beautifully 90 years later. Doc himself was once a victim— his parents were killed by bad guys — and he spent his youth honing his mind and body with lots of mysterious eastern mind techniques, exotic hand to hand fighting methods and grueling discipline — so he could spend a lifetime righting wrongs and punishing evil doers. Doc gathers a group of wonderfully eccentric characters to fight along with him. My favorites are Ham the dandy, and Monk the ape-like chemist.
All successful series books need to work as stand alone stories but need to supply enough background to explain the series characters and setting. It’s a difficult thing to do well without feeling heavy handed. Mr. Dent solved the problem simply: every Doc Savage book uses the exact same one to two paragraph description and character sketch of each supporting actor — and then he gets on with the action. And it works! I read 22 of the 182 Doc Savage adventures and by book 4 I had those set pieces memorized, but they are so good and so funny the tale would have felt empty without them.
It’s hard to decide what’s best about the Doc Savage books. It could be the complete innocence of of the world Doc protects, or the fact that Doc and his team never kill anybody (instead they take them to his Fortress of Solitude in the arctic and give them an operation that ‘cures’ them) or that Doc is a real doctor, he’s stinking rich and uses his money well, has a photographic memory, or that he is very shy around women. I loved it all.
It just goes to show that you can judge a book by its cover.
What Are You Doing During the Quarantine?
Happy May and happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers.
I have to be one of the few people not too upset about being on quarantine. I work from home so this isn’t that different from my everyday routine, except I can’t go to the gym, the salon or church. I sympathize and pray for everyone who has been infected or lost someone.
Before you virtually yell at me, or gather ten or less people to come and beat me up, step back, take a deep breath and look at the gift you’ve been given.
How many times have you said if I had a little more time, I could get this done. Or, I need to finish my book, but I’ve got a presentation I need to get done for my other job. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to write a book, but never had the time. This is your time.
Did you know if you had committed to writing 2000 words a day for the past six weeks, you’d have enough for a book? Or two novellas? If you continued writing until the lock in was lifted, you could have two books and possibly a novella or short story. Enough inventory to launch your writing career or if you’re already published…a new series.
I hear a lot of people complaining about being locked in and what they miss. This is such an amazing time.
During the lock-in, I finished a book and started another. I’ve updated my writing and marketing plans. I’ve been testing Facebook ads. This has also allowed me a chance to try some newsletter vendors I’ve never used before.
Don’t waste this time complaining or thinking you can do it later. There are quite a few businesses offering freebies or discounts to new customers. I tried a newsletter I had been wanting to try. I liked the results and will definitely be using them in the future.
When we went on quarantine, it effected both of my businesses. I don’t know about anyone else, but I really expected a huge spike in book sales because people were home. However, I failed to consider my readership. Quite a few of them have children which meant their free time was now being used for home schooling, not pleasure reading. So what was I going to do?
I really wanted to freak out, but I changed my attitude. I was in the process of finishing a book I wanted to in May. However, I didn’t finish it until last week, which means the release date needed to be pushed back.
Looking at what’s happening in the world and to my sales right now, I’m considering a different launch strategy. Possibly pushing the release back to late fall. If I do that, I would have the next in the series complete and release the books back to back. I never would have considered that strategy if it hadn’t been for this life break.
I have also been looking at additional revenue streams. I love print books. Especially hardcover. During this time, I’ve been researching other versions of my books…hardcover, limited edition and audio.
Here are some things you can do during the shut in.
Re-stock print book inventory
Order new marketing materials
Book future ads
Set up some pre-orders
Recommend Books on BookBub
Update a series
Write a novella or short story
Listen to writing Podcast or You Tube shows
Check out what other writers are doing
Support your fellow writers
Create additional revenue streams
Bottom line, concentrate on how to turn this negative into a positive. Don’t waste this time. Look at it as a set up for 2021.
Stay safe and wise.
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