Freebies for the Non-Series Writer

On more than one occasion, I have heard non-series writers complain about series writers and their freebie ebooks.  I get it.  It does seem like series writers have the marketing advantage.  However, that wouldn’t be true if a few things would happen.

For starters, let me say that I am not a KDP Select author.  This means I can’t use the majority of their marketing tools for any of my ebooks.  There are no discount or freebie days for me without jumping through a number of hoops.  I’m fine with this because I make about 1/4 of my income from iBooks, a little more than half from Amazon, and the rest from Nook and assorted retailers.

But I’ve been at it a while and I have more than one or two books published (I can’t remember the actual number off the top of my head, I think it’s more than 20 now though).  For first timers, I think KDP Select is a great option.  No, you aren’t on every site as an ebook, but the majority of sales come from Amazon and being able to use their marketing tools does help.

Currently, I think until you have 3 books published, you should stay enrolled in KDP Select.  After three, it’s time to branch out and explore other areas to get readers – but we’ll talk about that in a minute.  KDP Select allows you to make your ebook free or discounted for 5 days every three months.  If you plan your marketing correctly to boost your downloads on those free days, it can gain you readers fast.

When you are getting ready to publish book 4, you should widen your market.  First, you’ve already got 3 books to upload to Nook, iBooks, Smashwords, and a slew of other places and books sell more books.  Second, at this point, even if you aren’t writing a series, you can make one of them a freebie without it hurting you.

Why would you make one book free if it isn’t part of a series?  Because reading is about more than just plot lines.  It’s about the way an author writes.  I love Gail Carriger.  Not because I’m really into steampunk or fantasy, but because the way she writes and the words she chooses amuses me.  Even when I’m not that into a book by her, I will finish it, because I never know what gem is going to come out of the pages.  Readers like writer’s styles; the way they use words, what words they use, the way they form sentences, explain ideas and concepts, and the most basic thing ever – the way a writer uses language inflection – are all just as important to readers as the plot.

This means even if you don’t write a series, your books sell your other books.  Making one freebie ebook for a non-series writer is no different than making one freebie ebook for a series writer.  If someone likes your stuff, they will buy the others, even if it isn’t a series.

The other thing I have noticed is that non-series writers seem to believe there are more series readers.  This isn’t true.  Most readers are happy to read both.  The average reader reads a book or two a month.  Most series writers take between 4-12 months to put out a new book in a series, possibly longer.  During that time between series books, they have to find other things to read.  Now, there are series-only readers, but there are non-series only readers too, but those are exceptions.  The majority of readers just want to read a good book.  My favorite book of all time is a stand alone novel, Good Omens.  Oddly, I’m not a huge fan of Neil Gaiman’s or Terry Pratchett’s books.  I’ve tried them, but they just aren’t my thing.  However, I own Good Omens in hardback, paperback, ebook, audiobook, and if I’m being honest, I have two paperback copies because every time I loan it out, it disappears.  My favorite authors of all time are HP Lovecraft and Clive Barker.  Lovecraft didn’t really write novels even, he was a short storiest, like Poe.  Barker has a series or two and he has some intertwining of a few books, but the majority of them work as stand alones and again, he writes a lot of short stories that I love.  Now, this is coupled with the series and novel intertwining that I do read (Jack Kilborn, Blake Crouch, Stephen King, and Gail Carriger are among my favorites here).

Now, let’s get this out of the way… I don’t think of freebie ebooks as giving my ebooks away.  Yes, they are a marketing tool, but they are also a loyalty program where you get your free stuff up front.  If a reader likes my books, they are going to come back and buy the others.  Meaning they bought 4 ebooks and got an ebook free (with one series since there are currently 3 of them free right now).  Who doesn’t like a loyalty card or perks for spending money?

When I think of marketing, I don’t think like a writer, I think like a reader.  I have to put my money-grubbing brain to the side and think about what I like as a reader and yeah, I love freebie ebooks because I feel like I have been double rewarded when I find an author I like/love.  Not only have I found an author I like or love, but while I bought all their other books, I still got one of them free – in some cases, it’s buy 12, get 1 free, but I’m okay with that too.  The reader in me agrees that authors should be paid for their work, but it also knows that I can’t afford to read 10 books a week or so, so that freebie is amazing.

Finally, ebooks have revolutionized not just writing, but reading.  When I read paperbacks, I found I was getting headaches, read slower, and my reading glasses would make my nose hurt.  However, on my tablet… I read three times as fast, I do not require my reading glasses because I can make the font bigger, and the bright screen with the dark words doesn’t give me a headache like struggling to read words on a cream piece of paper that has shadows on it.  I went from reading one or two books a week to reading an average of ten books a week.  I can give you a great example of exactly how much faster I read an ebook: I read The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker on my tablet, it took me about 2 hours.  My BFF got me the hardback, which is gorgeous and also had to be read.  It took me a little over 6 hours to read the hardback…. Now, that’s with me having already read the book once and having the time to dedicate to the reading and it still took me three times as long to read the hardback as the ebook.

That was a Holy Rusted Metal, Batman moment for me.  Since I can adjust my tablet to make reading easier for me, I read much much faster.  I have since read several old favorites of mine, including Good Omens, on my tablet and I do read them faster than the print copies.  I also retain more when I read the ebooks because I’m not straining or stressing to read the printed words on that fucking cream paper (that is why all my books are on white paper, by the way).  Until ebooks, I didn’t realize just how much I hated cream paper for books, but now that indies have become a big thing along with ebooks, I would much rather have the ebook or the white paper with black text than a book with cream paper.  I read the black on white faster than the black on cream too.  Not as fast as I do an ebook, but still faster.

Anyway, since I read much faster on a tablet, I go through far more ebooks than I ever could print books.  This means my book budget either has to seriously increase or I need to find freebies… And I subscribe to Kindle Unlimited.  Yes, ebooks are cheaper, but I’d still be spending a small fortune on ebooks if it weren’t for freebies, because after that initial freebie, most ebooks are $3.99 or $4.99 and a traditionally published author can be 3 or 4 times that.  I used to think that I was a fluke and it was just me that read ebooks faster, but I have talked to scores of people that say the same thing; they read faster on a tablet, Nook, or Kindle.  So a person that used to read one print book a week might now be reading three ebooks a week.  I don’t know what kind of budgets most people have for books, but I know spending $300 or $400 on books a month is a significant chunk of change for me… it’s a student loan payment or a car payment.  But that’s what I would be spending if I paid for every book I read.  And don’t mention libraries, because I’m banned from mine – I forget to return books after I read them – consistently – and I have bought the library replacement copies on numerous occasions – about six years ago, they had decided enough was enough and they yanked my library card.

This means it doesn’t matter if you write a series or only write stand alones or only write collections of short stories, you can offer freebies and it will sell your other books.  Readers like authors, not just books.  Series just look like they sell easier and better because they build on each other.  But an author who crafts a good stand alone, sells their other books just as easily as a series writer.  Don’t believe me?  Ask RL Stein or Tom Clancy or Robin Cook… (I left out James Patterson because he does both series and standalones, however, he is also the single most successful author in the world right now, so…)

It’s About More Than Just Writing

Being an indie author is about more than just writing.  As I said in yesterday’s post, my BFF and I had a long phone conversation about our jobs.  She jokingly told me I was slightly obsessive in my tracking of sales.

As per usual, she’s right.  I keep a very detailed spreadsheet that lists books by retailer and price changes to see how well they sell.  Months I advertise, get marked as well – where I advertised, what I advertised, the cost, and the downloads my book received.

However, that gives me a better understanding of how I’m selling books.  For example, I know that come April, I’ll be lucky to sell half my usual amount.  Advertising has no effect on it.  Releasing a book has no effect on it.  April just isn’t my month, year after year.  Now, I realize my advertising dollars along with my time would be better spent somewhere else – like writing and editing.

I also know that every October, my sales increase.  Not just of one book or series, but of all my books.  I get that they are all a little dark and as we head towards Halloween, my sales naturally increase as people are looking for darker stuff to read around that time.  I also know that I can spend less on advertising in late September and early October and have excellent returns for my money.  If I can release a book in October, that’s just a bonus.

Come November and the first two weeks of December, my paperback sales exponentially increase.  I will sell as many paperbacks in those five or six weeks as I will the entire rest of the year.  Print books still make excellent gifts as it turns out (I know I love them).

The big thing I’ve discovered though, is that being an indie requires you to do both jobs: writer and publisher.  And there’s a whole lot more to being a publisher than just having books edited, covers made, and setting up advertising.  We need to understand how advertising works for us and when.  We need to understand how offering freebies affects sales.

It is the tasks of the publisher that I find most indies don’t understand.  I have had dozens ask me why I track sales from year to year and month to month.  When I explain it to them, they just give me blank looks.  However, these numbers show me a lot of things that most people never would think of (me included).  For instance, I rarely advertise The Brenna Strachan Series.  It’s a waste for me to spend that money.  I will actually have more sales of the series if I advertise Elysium Dreams.  That sounds counter-intuitive, but it makes sense once you have the numbers in front of you.

The D&R novels are, for the most part, my gateway books.  People read them and if they like them, they then try my other series.  This isn’t always true, I have plenty of readers that started with either The Dysfunctional Chronicles or The Brenna Strachan Series and moved to the Dreams & Reality novels from there, but they are in fact the minority.

And readers who have read all the D&R series will see an advert come through for Tortured Dreams or Elysium Dreams and go look at my books.  A lot of times, they are looking to make sure they haven’t somehow missed a new D&R release, but if they find they haven’t, they will download another of my freebies.  Meaning when I advertise any D&R novels, my downloads of my other freebie books also increases.

Which leads to the question, do freebie ebooks sell books?  Um, yeah, they do.  For me, the increase is very noticeable.  For instance, several weeks of March, I have had Mercurial Dreams set as a freebie.  That means the first 3 books of the D&R novels are free.  I have had phenomenal downloads of Mercurial Dreams.  That’s awesome, but freebies don’t pay the bills… However, as more and more readers grab the first 3 D&R novels for free, they are buying the rest of the series and they are pre-ordering Triggered Reality.  Essentially right now, for every 4 books they buy, they get 1 free.  Even if they aren’t in love with the novels by the end of Mercurial Dreams, they are buying Explosive Dreams to see if book 4 is the one that they fall in love with.

That brings us nicely to how the D&R novels impact my other books.  Readers that are on the fence with the D&R novels will try my other freebies.  I have gotten several this month that said things like “I tried the three D&R and then saw you wrote fantasy and tried it too and love the Brenna Strachan books.  Are there more in this series?”  Although, my favorite has been “I tried D&R because it was listed as horror and had some problems getting through Elysium Dreams.  Then I tried The Brenna Strachan series and love it!  I read all four in just a week.  I don’t know why those aren’t listed as horror.”

Writing good books is only part of being an indie.  The other part requires us to understand everything a publishing house understands.  Advertisements and books sell books, but you can’t underestimate the power of knowing when and where to advertise, which books help sell your other books, how readers perceive your books (are the Strachan books horror?  I don’t think I write any horror, but I find I’m in the minority), and when a $30 advertisement will do just as much good as a $300 advertisement.  All of that helps us make better informed decisions as writers to continue writing and for me, hanging around my house in my pajamas all day.

When It’s Done

Yesterday, I had a long discussion about achievements with my BFF.  I will immediately point out that any discussion between her and I; whether it be important or nonsense, is treated the same.  We are the kind of people that can have deep, meaningful conversations about the strangest things.

This means that when we do discuss matters of importance, it is a bit of a information dump.  We both work in fields dominated by men – she’s in computer security and my books have been classified as horror by just about every major advertising company I’ve used as well as some of my readers.

The subject of achievements came up.  We realized rather quickly that what women consider achievements are much different than what most men consider achievements.  Let me provide you with examples from both of our jobs:

  • She fills out a daily report with her accomplishments, areas that need improvement, daily tasks, etc.  One day, she had zero accomplishments, because everything she had accomplished was essentially her job, so they went under daily tasks.  To me, that makes sense.  Her boss was concerned however, because the male assessment forms listed multiple achievements for each day.  Upon closer inspection, it was basically a checklist for getting their daily tasks accomplished.  To me, completing daily tasks is not an achievement, it’s a job requirement.
  • It’s fairly rare for me to post a daily word count.  Word counts aren’t really achievements for me, they are the daily tasks of my job.  Then I remembered several weeks ago that a male writer friend of mine had in fact done a blog post about his accomplishment of writing 10,000 words in a single day.  Which is good, but that’s about my average when I’m really engrossed in what I’m writing, so to me, that didn’t feel like much of an achievement.  It felt like a daily task… You have to add words every day (and delete them) to move a book along if you’re the author.

So what did we qualify as achievements became our next topic.

  • For her it was the big stuff; passing a SANS certification, being asked to do a web demonstration on her ultra-cool crimeware detection tools, completing projects, etc.  Nothing that is ordinary, everyday stuff.
  • For me, achievements are getting the cover art done, sending a book to the editor, finalizing it for print, and publishing it.  Everything else, I just consider part of the job. I sat down one day and wrote 17,000 words.  I got a lot done, but it didn’t feel all that important.  In other words, I wouldn’t consider it an achievement.  I did break my previous record for most words in a single day, but even that doesn’t feel like an achievement.

I’m sure there is a psychology behind it, but I’m less certain what exactly it is.  Do women just not feel they should take credit for doing their daily job?  Or for some reason, do women devalue achievements that men value?  I don’t know.  Someone should study it in depth.

Not me, I have been a busy bee and I have an achievement to share.  Triggered Reality is completely done… all the editing, all the beta reading, all the uploading to different sites, all the checking and double checking that I didn’t screw something up in the formatting, etc.  It’s finished and ready to be read by the masses or at least the people that like/love the Dreams novels.

I’ll take the next few days to clear it from my mind and then I’ll get back into Flawless Dreams.  Still expecting a May release date for it.  It is surprisingly on schedule.

 

Time in the D&R novels

Time is always fuzzy in the Dreams & Reality novels.  This is intentional, Aislinn can’t keep track of it.  However, with Triggered Reality about to release, I decided to give some firm dates.  You will notice they don’t always match what Aislinn gives, primarily because Aislinn never has a clue how old she is, let alone someone else.

  • November 1966 – Isabella Clachan born
  • February 1969 – Eric Clachan born
  • September 1972 – Nyleena Clachan is born
  • July 1984 – Aislinn Clachan born
  • 1988 – AHEAD is formed by Donnelly Clachan & several others
  • 1992 – Mr. Callow kidnaps Aislinn
  • 1996 – Isabella and Donnelly Clachan are killed in a domestic dispute
  • 1996 – Elle gives birth to Cassie
  • 1997 – Eric marries Elle
  • 1999 – Eric Clachan becomes a mass murderer
  • 1999 – Elle gives birth to Ace’s Nephew (whose name I have once again lost)
  • 2000 – Aislinn changes her last name from Clachan to Cain to avoid the stigma she perceives around it
  • 2001 – SCTU & VCU are formed
  • 2002 – LA Serial Killer Massacre
  • 2004 – Uprising at the Pit leads to the death of the Warden & Rebuild
  • 2004 – Malachi Blake joins the VCU
  • 2005 – Caleb Green joins the VCU
  • 2006 – Malachi Blake becomes the head of the VCU
  • 2008 – Lucas & Xavier join the SCTU
  • 2010 – Tortured Dreams
  • 2013 – Fortified Dreams

Now, to clarify some errors in Tortured Dreams: The first editor to go through this did a lot of changing that I didn’t notice until much, much later (track changes was not used on them and I have trouble reading what I is actually on the page if I wrote it because my mind reads what it thinks is going to be there).  Errors that I now can’t fix because the audiobook exists.

  • Eric & Alex are the same person – I have no idea why the editor changed the name to Alex.
  • Isabella was not younger than Eric, she was always older.  It says she was 31 when she was killed.  She was actually 30.  She wasn’t married, but she did have three children with a life partner.
  • Eric was not 33 at the time of Isabella’s death, he was 27.  He was not married at the time and he didn’t have four children.  Elle was pregnant with their first (Cassie) when Isabella and Donnelly were murdered.
  • Eric did live at home when Aislinn was kidnapped by Callow because he was attending the University of Missouri, but he was not 15, he was almost 23.
  • Isabella did not live at home when Ace was kidnapped, she came home during the search for her.
  • Aislinn doesn’t have many memories of Isabella because Isabella moved out before she was born.  However, because Eric lived at home during college, Aislinn did have a good relationship with her brother, despite the age difference.
  • Aislinn is a menopause baby.

Hope that clarifies some of the wishy-washy crap that developed because of the errors in Tortured Dreams.

National Whatever Day

I think yesterday was national dog day or something. So here’s some Lola for you. ​

Yes, she really did trip over her own feet. So my dog.

Yesterday’s Risk

I knew yesterday’s post was a risk.  I expected some backlash and I got some.  Although, the majority of the discussion started by it was civil.

However, yesterday proved exactly how polarizing this election was.  I saw friends unfriending each other on Facebook and other social media sites because the rhetoric became so vitriolic.  It would have been kinder if they had just walked up and stabbed each other.

For the record, I’m not a huge Hillary Clinton fan and I never said she was the better candidate.  I believe both candidates were a disaster in the making and if she had taken office, I’d be questioning her regime as well.

That’s a big part of what I like about being an American.  I can voice those types of opinions and everyone is free to agree or disagree.  I can also be weary of the legislation that my government is trying to pass.

I had a handful of people, maybe a little more, swear they would never buy another book from me again.  I get it.  I’m a writer, I’m supposed to entertain.  But I’m so much more than just a writer.  I’m a person.  I’m a woman.  I’m an American.  I’m a historian.

This blog is my forum for more than just what I’m writing today.  It’s my chance to start discussions, listen to opinions, and voice a few of my own.  I don’t expect everyone to agree with every opinion I give, that would actually be weird.  But I would hope they respect me enough to not decide I’m subhuman because my opinion differs from theirs.

Which is how I felt a few times yesterday.  As the emails and private messages rolled in telling me what a fucking idiot I was, I felt like people expected me to not be human, but rather a puppet to dance on their command and have no thoughts of my own.

The irony of that is not lost on me, considering writers have nothing but their own thoughts all the time.  It makes it very hard not to form opinions on things.  That history degree makes it even harder for me to be silent about it, because history has proven that if we don’t question things and voice our opinions, no matter the consequences, then we are doomed to suffer the wrath of tyrants.

 

And my opinion wasn’t that strong.  I merely expressed my concerns that President Trump’s rants often overshadow legislation being introduced into congress for voting and why some of those were just mind boggling.  I can’t imagine how many readers Stephen King has lost with his not so polite tweets aimed directly at President Trump.

I’m disheartened that some of my readers decided my political views were reason enough to stop reading my books.  Books they have proclaimed to love.  For me, that’s the equivalent of telling someone they can’t read my books because they have a different political outlook than I do. However, I admit that when I wrote the post, I knew it was going to happen.  The business person in me told me not to do it, but that seemed unfair to rest of me.

I won’t apologize for it.  I did nothing wrong.  It wasn’t a rage-fueled rant, it was a thought-out essay on what I see as major problems currently facing the US, created by our government.  It was meant to provoke thought and start discussions.  If a few of my readers want to hate me for it, there is nothing I can do about that.  I will be sad they are gone.  I’ve had great discussions with some of them.  I will also wonder how we have become so divided, that we can’t even agree to disagree anymore.

As Aislinn would say:   Exactly how far down this rabbit’s hole did we fall?

 

This Is Political…

I haven’t said much about the election or our new president.  I’m going all in today.  I don’t consider myself a Democrat or Republican, but I do have liberal leanings.  You’ve been warned…

Donald Trump is his own 3-ring circus.

Between the ranting and raving on Twitter and his unfounded accusations, it is a miracle he gets anything done.  Also, he is a master at spinning his own shit.  For example, he often criticized President Obama for the amount of golf Obama played while in office.  He has visited just as many golf courses since he came into office as Obama did, but he won’t let the press in to see if he is playing golf or not.  It seems like such a little thing, but the hypocrisy is overwhelming.  Now, to the real stuff.

As a historian, I can tell you that alternative facts is a real thing.  I can also tell you it is used predominately by fascist regimes trying to prove they are humanitarian in nature.  The Soviet Union was a master of alternative facts.   Alternative facts are rarely outright lies, they are a spin on the truth.  They were used to paint a fairly cruel picture of Nero, who did not fiddle while Rome burned.  And Christians during the Roman Era, who did not start the fire that burned down Rome while Nero supposedly fiddled on his balcony. The fire that burned Rome was most likely started by an animal and dirty living conditions.  It may have belonged to a Christian household and now history remembers the great fire of Rome as being started by Christians.  Nero did try to take action to put it out, but it was like fighting a house fire with a sieve.  Eventually, he did stand on his balcony and watch Rome burn, but not while he fiddled, and there was despair in him, even if he was batshit crazy.  He was still not as insane as Alexander the Great or Caligula, so I think we ought to cut the man some slack.  I really wanted to use Alexander the Great as my example of how well alternative facts change how we view people.  After all, he’s enjoyed over 1,000 years of favorable placement in history books because he was damn good at using alternative facts to earn fame.  However, the 20th century makes that impossible because it brought four of the greatest alternative fact users ever to the world; Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin, J. Edgar Hoover, and Joseph McCarthy.  What most people don’t know is that Hitler managed to convince Germany that the reason they were poor was because the world hated Germans.  The fact that the Weimar Republic established after WWI printed money that was worthless and they were sanctioned heavily is why Germany was broke.  But Hitler didn’t spin it that way.  He used lots of patriotic rhetoric and make Germany great again speeches to win the chancellorship.  And he actually did.  The fact that he did this by building a war machine to rival the US and Soviet Union and then decided to start invading other countries was just sort of a means to an end.  Surprisingly, Stalin did the same thing.  He was all about make the CCCP great and let’s be compadres and blah, blah, blah.  We know what Hitler did after all this, but rarely do we talk about what Stalin did after it.  Stalin did his song and dance and energized the Soviets to be hardworking members of their utopian society, while he was having everyone who disagreed with him murdered or sent to the gulags (which is pretty much the same thing).  Oddly, Stalin had just as many Soviets killed as Hitler had Jews killed.  Of course, it was done with alternative facts… They were traitors to the Soviet way of life or they were undermining the utopian Soviet society.  They really weren’t, they just thought Stalin needed a very long vacation in a mental institution.  And most western countries didn’t care, because hey, he was wiping out communism by killing everyone, so it worked.

I’m also tired of the isolationist fear mongering that seems to going on in this country and the US government is really championing it.  Terrorism is a real problem.  However, the world has been dealing with terrorists for as long as there has been civilizations to terrorize.  The countries that fall are the ones that lock their borders and seal their people in a bubble.  Again, look at the Soviet Union.  It had a good run at 70+ years, but the truth is, their isolationist policies and internal fear mongering was a big reason for its demise.  Same with the DDR (East Germany), the Nazis, the fascist governments of Spain and Italy, and I could go on, but I’m trying to keep this short.  The point of it is, terrorism is nothing new and it will never go away, it will just change faces.  We can point to Isis and say “oh my God, we have to stop them!” but they aren’t any different than any other terror organization and we are fueling the fire, not stamping it out when we isolate ourselves from it.  Every policy we enact that targets Muslims, alienates Muslims, which makes them fear us, which sends them into an identity crisis, which creates more extremists… yep, that cycle is in full swing.  Here, we could actually learn something from Russia.  The harder they are on Chechnya, the more Chechen terrorists they create, the more Chechen terror attacks they have, so they come down even harder on Chechnya and the cycle starts all over again.

Then there’s this giant push for States’ Rights going on in our House and Senate.  We’ve done this dog and pony show before.  It resulted in the Civil War.  Quick history lesson, ending slavery was a side effect of the Civil War, not a point of it.  The South seceded because they wanted the states to have more say than the federal government and the federal government said no.  It sounds all amazing for the states to essentially govern themselves until it causes problems at the federal level and then feelings get hurt, there’s yelling and shouting, and eventually someone signs a document that starts a war.  Hawaii is the best example right now.  They’ve pretty much told the federal government to shove most of the new bills they are attempting to pass; particularly the travel ban and the reformed health care bill (Obama modeled the Affordable Care Act on Hawaii’s current health care system).  And the federal government is pretty unhappy with Hawaii for refusing to cooperate, yet they are trying to push through all these new bills that give states more power.  You can’t grant states more power and then get prickly when they use it.  Under the new bills, Hawaii has every right to tell the feds where to shove it.  It’s like two parents disagreeing on how to raise their kids so each parent does their own thing and the kid is the one that gets in trouble for it because one parent said it was okay and the other said absolutely not in my house.  This creates a logical fallacy that no one seems to understand they are creating and citizens will definitely end up being punished for this one.

While we are on the subject of war, everyone was calling Clinton a war monger.  She might be.  From what I can tell, Trump probably is too.  He’s tripled our military budget.  Tripled.  Let that sink in for a moment.  In the history of the US, that sort of spending has only happened immediately before or during a war.  Since, we aren’t actually at war with anyone, why the major uptick in spending?  It can’t be to create the latest and greatest toys.  We’ve got them.  We aren’t in an economic depression, like we were in the 1930s, so that kind of military spending isn’t going to flip our economy around (by the way, world war is in fact good for our economy, which is insane, but sadly true – FDR’s military spending and social welfare programs are what got us out of the Great Depression – he had the foresight to build a war machine for fighting the Axis powers nearly a decade before we entered war).  So is Trump anticipating a war?  If so, with who?  It isn’t for fighting terrorism, you can’t fight terrorism with war.  It’s not for protecting our borders, we don’t use the machine of war for that, too many civilian casualties.

Then we have another elephant to address… Trump only became a Republican when Obama became president.  Until Obama, Trump’s largest campaign donations were to Democrats.  He voted for Democrats.  He was liberal in his thinking and was pro-globalization.   Here’s a very interesting snippet of history for you; when the Clintons’ were in the White House and Hilary was pushing for nationalized health care, Trump was her biggest supporter.  He was in favor of getting rid of health insurance companies, essentially using a socialist system for healthcare and he often used Germany’s social welfare programs as examples of how to make it work.  Until Obama, President Trump was a liberal socialist democrat in his political policy ideas. If people know why Trump hated Obama, literally hated the man enough to change his political views, it isn’t being talked about.  But maybe it should be.

However, he has done one thing right.  The government granted a large budget to NASA to continue space exploration.  I’m going to give him kudos for that.  It isn’t nearly enough to make up for all the other whackadoodle things going on, but it’s a win for those of us who think space exploration is a big deal.

Tomorrow we return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Not So Sure About This…

If you’re on social media, at all, you’ve probably seen the slide show talking about nine introduced to the House of Representatives in the last couple of months that are kind of scary.  Like everyone else, I figured it started on a fake news site and didn’t pay much attention.  Then I found it most of it was true.  The nice thing is we have to get things passed by more than just the House of Representatives to become law.  However, there are a few of them, that I’m just not sure about.

  • HR 861 – The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018.  That’s the entire bill.  The general thought behind it is that states would take over monitoring and policing their environments.  Something most states can’t currently afford to do.  What’s worse is that the EPA takes care of what’s known as SuperFund Sites.  These are places where toxins ruined the environment and made entire towns move.  We have a few in Missouri, but I’m only familiar with one of them; Herculaneum.  The EPA has been working with the State of Missouri for more than two decades to clean up Herculaneum, a ghost town created by pollutants that were radioactive.  I’ve mentioned before that I worked for an epidemiologist.  We spent a lot of time looking for cancer clusters at sites where corporations had been letting their waste into the ground and in many cases, the groundwater.  Every time it happened, I worked not just with state officials but with EPA and CDC officials as well.  It’s not just about protecting the land, the EPA protects us from companies that don’t give a shit where their toxic waste goes.  And I know more than a dozen of these companies from my 4 years in epidemiology.
  • H.R. 899 – To terminate the Department of Education by December 31, 2018.  On the surface, this doesn’t sound like a bad thing.  No more standardized tests or No Child Left Behind legislation.  States would become responsible for all education matters.  However, when you start to really think about it, it gets a little tricky.  Imagine a world with no free lunch programs, because that is a federal mandate.  Or imagine a place where dinosaurs are not part of the science and history curriculum (and there have been several school boards trying to remove dinosaurs from both science and history for religious reasons).  We are already well behind the rest of world in all areas of education.  In some areas, this might actually help.  My city for example is a major college town; there is one major university, two colleges, nine branches of other colleges, and a handful of community and votech colleges.  We would probably be fine, because we attempt to cater to the education community that thrives around us.  As a matter of fact, Columbia, Springfield, Kansas City, and St. Louis would all end up with much different education systems than the rest of Missouri.  Because the majority of Missouri is rural.  A state like mine would have a hard time justifying school curriculums because we do have such a large demographic shift.  We aren’t the only state like this either.  Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, California, Washington, Texas, and I can’t even remember all the others have vast population centers, but the majority of the state remains rural.  At least with federal mandates on curriculum we sort of how a cohesive education system.  A high schooler moving from Omaha, Nebraska to Columbia, Missouri might not have a clue what our school is talking about when they get to a literature class or a history class or a science class if this becomes a state to state thing.
  • H.R. 785 – National right-to-work legislation.  Missourians have spent decades fighting against Right-To-Work legislation.  In theory, it makes it so that you don’t have to join a union to reap the benefits of being union.  In reality, Right-To-Work drops prevailing wage for skilled laborers and takes away the power of unions.  Our current governor conveniently didn’t mention his stance on Right-To-Work while he was campaigning last year, because if he had, he wouldn’t be governor.  Back to the point; the first two bills were about giving power back to states, this one is about taking it away.  Oh and teachers, pay attention, because the proposed National right-to-work legislation, dissolves the teachers’ union and your retirement fund.  As someone who comes from blue collar roots, Right-To-Work has always been a thorn in my side.  My father worked construction and he made significantly less when he had to do jobs in Right-To-Work states than when he worked in states without it.  And sadly, that sometimes wasn’t enough to live on.  Nothing like making $6.00 an hour to drive a milling machine in the blazing southern sun for 12 hours a day.  For those that don’t know, milling machines are giant pieces of equipment that require specialized training to run.  In other words, kiss your nice paycheck goodbye if your job required any vocational technical training, because your skills are worth the same amount as flipping hamburgers at McDonald’s, literally.  So why do it?  It makes the cost of building infrastructure cheaper.  Plumbing, HVAC, drywalling, concrete forming, mechanics, and a multitude of other jobs have to lower the cost of their labor and pay their laborers less, which makes the cost of everything drop, theoretically, and it also means all these well paying jobs become barely above minimum wage.  I’ve never met a worker that liked Right-To-Work, only the bosses and owners of companies seem to enjoy it.  Also, remember I mentioned teachers should pay attention, under the proposed Right-To-Work legislation, you become a skilled laborer which means your piss-poor salary could be diminished even further.

It might be time to stop paying attention to Trump’s twitter account and start paying attention to what the House of Representatives is doing.

 

Sleep

I was going to finalize a post around 9 this morning and let it go up… But I slept until 11:30.  This is unusual for me, to say the least, I’m starting to worry about how much I’ve suddenly been sleeping.

Normally, I get 6 to 6 1/2 hours of sleep a night.  It’s what it takes to make me feel like getting up and being productive.  I can survive with a little less, but a little more makes me feel lousy.

So, imagine my surprise when yesterday, it was after 11 when I woke up.  I don’t remember turning my alarm off, although, I know I did.  I went to bed a little after 2 am, so getting up at 9 shouldn’t have been a problem.  I was up 3 hours, before I went back to bed.  That’s when I slept for another 2 hours.  Total yesterday, I got 11 hours of sleep and was still sleepy.

Last night, I decided I’d go to bed earlier and see if that was the problem.  At 1:30 I decided I was done.  A half hour may not seem like much, but it really is to me.  I don’t remember much after I got into bed.  I did hear my alarm go off at 9 this morning.  I grabbed my phone, turned it off, and went back to sleep.  Then I didn’t get up until 11:30.  Pretty sure if I went to bed right now, I’d go back to sleep for several hours and still wake up tired.

I’m fairly certain the problem is allergies.  Several are high to extremely high because of the drastic weather shifts we’ve had lately.  I’ve had ear problems and sinus headaches and scratchy throats.  However, if it is, it is the single worst allergy season I have ever experienced.

Tomorrow, a writing update.  For now, I’ll consider going back to bed.

C Patt

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