August is a time of great anticipation and apprehension as summer comes to an end. Parents are excited and children who are young enough not to know better are excited too. I must admit that August still has the refreshing feel of new beginnings for me- new books, new supplies, new teachers. It was ever green hope that the new school year would somehow be better, be different.
New Year’s Day has this same quality, a ritual celebration to compartmentalize last year’s events and memories, to put it away in favor of new beginnings. By the way, how are those resolutions coming along? I consider it a time to adjust and recommit to goals I was already working on, not make new ones. And one of those goals is to become a better writer.
January is also ‘back to school’ time, though most students are still reeling from the fall semester. For many, the spring semester is just the continuation of the academic year that they have to slog through to get to summer break. But consider that there are freshmen who start college late or high school seniors who start early. For them it is new and exciting. Consider the so-called ‘non-traditional’ student who is over age 40, who might be living up to that New Year’s resolution to finish their education or start a new career.
You might be thinking, “Why are you writing about Christmas? That ended two weeks ago.”
And you would be wrong. The Christmas holiday season ends on January 5,6, or 13 depending on your cultural and/or religious traditions. I define Christmastide as December 25 to January 5, the 12th night and the Feast of the Epiphany which runs into January 6, Three King’s Day which is widely celebrated in Latin America.
Yes, the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ is not just a Christmas carol about insane gift expectations. And with the shipping overload COVID-19 put on USPS, it’s a good thing. Gifts arrived during Christmastide, but maybe not by December 25. But no matter because gifts are not really the point.
Our end of year festivals have been celebrated in one way or another in the Northern Hemisphere for millennia, because of the winter solstice. It is not pagan to celebrate the return of the light. It is astronomy, the very physical reality of our planet’s axis. It is also a celebration of a life preserving harvest, of family and community before we all hibernate for winter and try not to starve. This perspective has been lost with the technological advances of the modern world. But if this year has taught me anything, it’s how quickly we can revert to an earlier way of life.
This post is the annual update of my writing career, such as it is.
I published a book in October 2020.
Book of Snark: Wit & Wisdom for the Angry Professional Woman on the Bus– A laugh out loud parody of motivational self-help books, a collection of pointed anti-affirmation satire, quips that describe the day-to-day life of an unimpressed, middle aged female professional, who does not suffer fools.
It’s self-published so not such a big deal. Anyone who can pull together a script and slap a halfway decent cover on it can be a published author these days because print-on-demand services do not check for worthiness of content. My market is so niche’ I didn’t believe that any publishing house would consider it. It wouldn’t make them enough money to be worth their time. Still, by all accounts it has done well. I sold 142 copies in the first three months and since 300 copies in the first year is considered success, I am almost halfway there.
But I promoted it. A lot. I am completely unknown and people are suspicious of independent authors for the reasons listed above (no check on worthiness). I paid for ads that showed my book to potential buyers 183,000+ times, at Christmas, and I sold 142 copies. *SIGH* Good thing that I am in it for the long haul. Book of Snark 1 will continue to sell and Book of Snark 2 is already in the works. I have eight text reviews on Amazon and six text reviews on Goodreads, all good and not all from my friends and family. I even garnered a ‘drive-by’ anonymous 1-star rating without an associated text review on Amazon by whoever or whatever and a lovely text review on Goodreads from book blogger, Amie’s Book Reviews in Toronto, who said the book “will appeal to anyone and everyone who likes British humor”.
Your Christmas gifts are not late.
Now, that doesn’t mean they will arrive on December 25. The current USPS delivery load is estimated at 40% over normal and 19,000 of their workers are out due to COVID-19 symptoms or exposure. Those of us who respect the opinions of medical experts and the health department are not delivering packages ourselves as we stay home for the holiday and ship instead. It’s a stressful time to be working at the post office.
But still, your Christmas gifts are not late. Christmas is actually a twelve-day festival called Christmastide which begins December 25 and ends January 6. In fact in Latin America, the day to exchange gifts is the Epiphany, the commemoration of the visit of the Magi to the Christ child and the offering of their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
That last one, myrrh is an embalming oil. Whether you believe in COVID-19 or not, there are 400,000+ more deaths in 2020 than in 2019, the largest yearly increase since 1919 and the Spanish Flu. I will ask the question to the naysayers again: if you include total deaths together regardless of cause, what exactly explains the increase? Continue reading
I write this at my dining room table, a custom built 8-foot, 250+ pound, white oak farm table, so new the clear coat has not cured yet. It arrived only two weeks ago, just in time for a Thanksgiving feast that will not happen.
For years, I hosted ‘Wayfarers Thanksgiving’, a dinner party for ‘orphans’, for those of us who left our places of origin for opportunities in the Twin Cities and had no family to spend the holiday with. I was in a one-bedroom apartment with a view of an alley and no dining room table. We packed in the living room around a coffee table and sat on paisley mustard pillows suitable for outdoor furniture.
I have my first home now, a condo with a fireplace, and a dining room big enough to host such a party. But there is no party, only dinner for two in the sunroom. I cannot risk COVID-19. It’s not for my sake, but for all the vulnerable adults in my life. I would survive but I cannot risk spreading it first, second, or third hand to others. I know everyone is sick of hearing about it, but COVID-19 isn’t over just because you’re bored with it.
“Tension Mounts put together a wonderfully charming book that I felt validated many of my thoughts. I read this while my toddler was sleeping right next to me, and I am so glad my outbursts of random laughter did not wake her up! If you want to laugh and feel like you are sitting next to your wise but ornery Great Aunt Molly, this is the book for you!” -Laurie on goodreads.com
That is the first review of Book of Snark I have received by someone I am certain is a stranger. And I can not tell you what a thrill it is for me that my book makes its readers laugh out loud. Several friends have kindly texted me to tell me that they laughed while reading it, but now I have confirmation that it is not just my current fanbase who enjoys it. The book is finding its audience out in the wild.
And so, my first ‘Book of Snark’ is published and spreading across the country. Most of my immediate fanbase has bought it. I hope they get a chuckle. Now the book faces the real test of the open market- which is flooded and has an ever-shrinking audience of readers. It will succeed or fail based on its own merit and how much suppression of organic reach FaceBook can muster. The book probably won’t win any awards or change the world, but I believe in its quality and value.
And frankly, in this year of 2020 we could all use a laugh. Continue reading
Hot off the press! US & Canadian residents can enter this Goodreads Giveaway for a chance to win one of five signed copies of Book of Snark: Wit & Wisdom for the Angry Professional Woman on the Bus.
Book of Snark is a parody of motivational self-help books, a collection of pointed anti-affirmation quips from an unimpressed, middle aged female professional who does not suffer fools.
Read a review of this book from one of my first readers!
If you like it, you can order your signed copy from my Square site (USA only) –OR– an eBook or paperback copy from Amazon.com.
Join me at 1pm Central for my Facebook Live Launch of the Book of Snark!
Book of Snark, a collection of anti-affirmation feminist satire, a parody of motivational self-help books, pages of punchlines that describe the day to day life of an unimpressed, middle aged female professional, who commutes by bus.
This is my first published work of satire. The launch date is set for October 10, 2020. BYOB. This FB event categorizes it as ‘literature’ but it lies. Seek works of literary merit elsewhere.
Order your signed copy from my Square site (USA only)
Order your copy from Amazon.com starting 10-10-2020
Coming 10-10-20- Book of Snark LIVE!
Book of Snark is a collection of anti-affirmation feminist satire, a parody of motivational self-help books, pages of punchlines that describe the day to day life of an unimpressed, middle aged female professional, who commutes by bus. This is my first published work of satire. The launch date is set for October 10, 2020.
Now, book launches might be considered book promotion but really, especially for independent authors, it’s an excuse to have a party. A ‘birthday party’ for the ‘book baby’, a term I despise almost as much as ‘fur baby’, but both still less annoying than a dog in a dress.
Anyway, the book does deserve some kind of celebration, some kind of recognition for the years spent agonizing over it, to finally set it free in the world to do whatever work it was meant to do. Or at least whatever work it can do in the age of marketing saturation and active suppression of organic reach.
What, me cynical?