Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Once a Leo -- always a Leo

I was born on July 26th -- or at least that's what they tell me.  Which means that I've been a Leo my entire life.

I like lions... and I've been fine with being a Leo.  As a Leo, I'm supposed to have high confidence, high motivation, determination, and loyalty.  Leos don't take criticism well, and they're very stubborn, and often impatient.  And oh yeah, I'm a fire element.

We didn't focus on our astrological signs, when I was growing up, so I truly don't think my personality was affected by my sign.  But I do think that my friends and family would agree that the attributes of Leo fit me fairly well.

Today, I find out that I've never been a Leo after all.  No, it's not that I was born on a different date, it's that the Babylonians were somewhat lazy.  (as a side note, I have to chuckle when I hear people say "ancient Babylonians".  To my knowledge, that's the only kind we have.)

The Babylonian calendar had 12 months, each with roughly the same number of days.  So - while they saw that there were 13 signs of the zodiac, they decided to ignore one, and make it an even dozen.  Similarly, while some zodiac signs were visible more days than others, the Babylonians decided to make the signs all equal in length, and call it a day, as it were.

NASA, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that it's time we all learned the truth.

And apparently the truth is that I'm not a Leo, I'm a Cancer.  Which means that I'm compassionate, adaptable, and I have a motherly approach to those in need.  (Excuse me, while I clean up the spewed tea from my keyboard and monitor.)  And oh yeah, I'm no longer a fire element, I'm a water element. I suppose that part's true, as long as you put a teabag in it.

I heard that not everyone is changed, so I thought I'd check some people I know.  The first thing I noticed is that the last date for each sign, is also the first date for the next... which means that my mother - once a Virgo - is now both a Virgo and a Leo.  So she's both a fire element and an earth element.  Hmmm... I guess that explains why she like campfires so much.  As a Virgo, she's very bossy, and as a Leo she's very stubborn.  Well I guess that works.  But as a Virgo she's very modest, yet as a Leo she's somewhat arrogant.  Not sure how she accomplishes that, unless she's also got a split personality.

So let's move on.

I was married to a Cancer...  but he's now become a Gemini.  And that's ok, because Geminis are compatible with Leos... oh wait, I'm not a Leo anymore.

My business partner was a Scorpio, but now she's a Libra.  So her best day of the week was Tuesday, but now it's Friday.  And we meet on Mondays.. so I don't know what any of that means.

And then it hit me.  I know how to tell if this zodiac stuff works!  I looked up the list of which zodiac signs were coffee drinkers, and which were tea drinkers.  Leos are both, and Cancers are coffee drinkers.  Well that makes no sense at all.  But I'm trying to be open-minded about this... so I found a different website that took coffee out of the equation entirely, and told you which zodiac sign drinks what kind of tea.  Turns out Cancers drink chamomile tea.
Chamomile tea???

Well, that clinches it.  There's only one possible explanation for all of this.

My parents clearly LIED to me, when they told me my birthday was July 26.  Don't get me wrong.  I like July 26... I feel a certain connection with July 26... but how can you argue with all of the things I've discovered?  My birthday must be between August 10, and September 16.   Not sure which day... and perhaps I'll continue to celebrate on July 26, just for old time's sake.  But as I sit here drinking my tea - which is most assuredly NOT chamomile - there's no question that my birthday is between August 10 and September 16.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Stuffing Ballot Boxes

What an odd phrase this is. We've all heard this phrase ...it originated at a time when most voting was done by people literally putting their vote on a piece of paper, and putting the folded paper into a ballot box.  And stuffing the ballot box meant one person putting in more than one piece of paper.

Doesn't really apply much, today.  Many communities have electronic voting, or some sort of mechanical voting.  And in most states and most communities, there are procedures in place to ensure that each person only gets to submit one vote.

But stuffing ballot boxes has also come to mean persuading people who would otherwise not vote.. to vote.  Except -- there's really nothing wrong with that, is there?

Now, you might think that it's the upcoming election that has me thinking of this, but that's not the case.

There is a website called authorshout.com.  The website offers a number of marketing packages and plans for authors, but I'm guessing that's of little interest to most of you. However, the website also runs what they call Cover Wars.  Authors submit their covers and authorshout.com schedules the covers for a 'war'.  Each week, authorshout.com puts 10 different covers on their 'war' page.  Anybody can vote... there's no charge to vote, you're not put on a mailing list, there's no spam.  You do have to 'like' the website on your facebook, twitter, or googleplus account .. and you only have to do that once ..  but once you've done that, you can vote for your favorite cover.  Not only that, but for the entire week of each 'war', you can vote as often as you want, as long as it's been at least 24 hours since your last vote.  The Weatherman , by yours truly, is up for this week's Cover War.  It's nothing like Teapot Musings, it's a sci-fi/mystery/adventure story.  And while that might - or might not - interest you...  for purposes of the Cover War, it really doesn't matter.  All you're doing is voting for your favorite cover, out of 10.
And trust me, the cover for The Weatherman is truly amazing.
Or don't trust me.. see for yourself...

See?   Isn't that an amazing cover?

Still not convinced?  Then go to the Cover Wars and look at the other 9 contenders.  After you do, I'm hoping you'll 'vote early and vote often'.
Well, it doesn't really matter how early you vote.  And you can only vote once every 24 hours, and only through Saturday, September 24.  And while this might constitute ballot box stuffing in the sense that I'm trying to persuade you to vote for something you might have ignored, it's not really ballot box stuffing because anyone is allowed to vote, once a day, for the rest of the week.
So ---    Vote.

It's really easy, you do it from your computer, and you can even do it while drinking tea... that's how I do it.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Quality versus Quantity

I read.  A lot.  And I don't mean for work, or to find out about current events... I mean fiction.

At the moment, I'm in the middle of a recorded book on CD in the car, I've got a paperback book in the boatbag that I'm partway through, I have a print book that I've been reading in the evening and right before going to bed, and I have an ebook that I'm reading on my iPad.  (I have the kindle, nook, kobo, iBook, and GooglePlay reading apps on my iPad.)

Lest you think that this is the "quantity" that is part of the title of this post... hold on.. I haven't gotten there yet.

And as some of you know, I've also started writing fiction, and have formed an indie publishing company with a partner.  This means that at various times, I write, I edit, I format, and I promote.  And when everything goes well and falls into place, I (or, rather, the publishing company) actually sell some fiction.

So, as you can see, I'm interested - and involved - , in nearly all aspects of writing....  creating, publishing, consuming.

One of the distributors that the publishing company uses sends out weekly notices that tell us how trending books that are similar to the ones we've published, are doing.  And while this is interesting to me when I wear my publisher hat, it's also interesting to me when I switch to my reader hat.. because I'm always on the lookout for another book to add to my to-read list.  (Not sure why this is true, I already have enough books on my to-read list to last me well into my 130th year of life.)

This morning's email listed three titles in the email labeled 'Trending Books like The Weatherman'. And one of the titles caught my attention and piqued my curiosity.  For this blog post, I'll call this title Q.  Wearing my publisher hat, I see that Q's Amazon ranking is 22% higher than it was last week, and that it's currently #3 in the Amazon category of Science Fiction>Adventure... and I know that Amazon's rankings are based on some sort of algorithm that includes a combination of reviews and sales.

Wow!  That constitutes a lot of reviews, and more importantly, a lot of sales.  (THIS is the quantity part of this post.)

But as I said, I'm also a reader.  So I took off my publisher hat and put on my reader hat, and clicked the link on the book to take me to Amazon.

The description of the book was ...  interesting.  Not fascinating, but interesting.  So I moved down to the reviews.  There were 7 'top reviews' listed.  All 7 reviews were only 1 star.  But that was not the worst part.   In all seven reviews, the reviewer expressed tremendous regret that they'd started the book, and not a single one of them had finished the book.  I just re-read the reviews, because I decided I must have been mistaken... but I'm not.   7 reviews.  1 star each.  Not one of those reviewers had finished the book.

Wow.  Clearly, THIS is the quality part of the post.

I'd like to think that if there was that sort of response to something I'd written, or something I'd published, that I'd remove it from being on sale.

The author of Q must be doing something right.. or at least doing something.  Perhaps the author is buying his own books, or paying people to post positive reviews.  I did notice that Q was on sale, so maybe the author just makes the book so inexpensive, or does a better job at marketing, because it certainly looks like the author of Q is making more money from the book, than I or my publishing company are, from our titles.

BUT.   I choose quality (of book) over quantity (of sales).  That applies to what I read.  That applies to what I publish.

I've not told you the real title of Q, nor have I told you the name of the author.  Because the point of this is not to slam the book or the author.  The point is integrity.  And if you have integrity, then you value Quality, over Quantity.  In fact, you value Quality, even at the expense of Quantity.

And of course, you always value tea.

P.S.  Teapot Musings is not a 'writer's blog', where I share tips and reviews, and it's not an 'author's blog' where I ask you to buy my book.  And I will not be changing that.  But for those who are interested, you can find my author page here, and the website for the publishing company, here.