Dark and Stormy Night

Any book is better with horses, and dogs, and The Wizard of Oz

I've already worked into my novel-in-progress three atrocious puns, three references to The Wizard of Oz, two more to Harry Potter, two horses, and ... well, just one dog, but he's an unusually smart dog.

And it just hit 70,000 words, making "We Love Trouble" my longest rough draft ever.

There's also a line of dialogue that makes me giggle every time I go over it, but we'll see whether it's actually funny, or just reacting with my warped mind. Either way, I'm feeling pretty darned good about the story right now.

Two horses .. (not the same horses)

One dog. (Picture this dog, only darker and a little larger.)

book cover humor

My tweets

book cover humor

My tweets

book cover humor

Lost in the Amazon

I noticed recently that if I went to Amazon.com and searched for "Mark R. Hunter", I did not come up first.

In the Kindle store, the first six hits didn't have "Mark R. Hunter" attached to them in any way, and none of them had the word "Mark" at all. In fact, four of them also didn't have the word "Hunter".

Under books, "Mark R Hunter" was the sixteenth match. Realizing I forgot to put in a period, I typed "Mark R. Hunter" ... and came in 19th, right after Operative Thoracic Surgery by Larry R. Kaiser and Glyn Jamieson.

This bothered me.

I suppose it's partially because sales were flat last autumn ... except that Operative Thoracic Surgery ranked at 1,333,795, and doesn't have any connection to my search other than "R". (To compare, The No-Campfire Girls ranked at 1,033,462.)

I understand ranking lower than more popular books of the same name, but this was like searching for George Washington and getting fifty matches for Abraham Lincoln. What bothers me about it is that when I'm talking to someone about my books, I tell them to just search for ... Mark R. Hunter.

On searching for myself on Google I ranked third, but at least the first two matches were a different Mark R. Hunter. I guess now I have to memorize: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0058CL6OO.

And my memory's not that great.

(In all seriousness, I've done some research, and it seems on Amazon you have about thirty days to make some sells before your book sinks into obscurity, and is afterward ignored by their algorithms. In other words, you have to make sales to be visible, but you have to be visible to make sales.)


(Another note! This turned into fake news sometime after I wrote it in November, because I'm again  the first to come up under a search for my name. I'd imagine it's because since then, we put More Slightly Off the Mark on the market.)

book cover humor

The Good Parts of Being Sick

Yes, yes, I know--how can we come up with anything good about being invaded by nasty little sickness bugs?

Well, it's like this: Everyone around here is getting sick lately, with some respiratory gunk that's not the flu, but makes you wish you had the flu instead. I've had it for about two weeks, which is over the normal amount of time it should take for something to run its course.

But everyone tells me it takes 6-8 weeks for this particular terrorist bug to run its course, and by that I mean it's running over its victims like an Abrams Tank on the American Heroes Channel.

So I can spend two whole months whining about it, or I can seek out a bright side. Do you want to spend eight weeks around someone who only stopped complaining because their lungs were all coughed up?

I didn't think so.

Even the dog has been feeling a little ... hey, that's my side of the bed!

So, here are the good things about being sick:

It's a good excuse to stay inside. "I'm sorry, I can't go out for the annual Midwestern salute to frostbite and chilblains, because this weather already made me sick."

It gives authors more time to write, assuming they can summon the concentration. Granted, there were a few days earlier this week when I physically couldn't lift my laptop, but for writers an illness is like a bone break: Sometimes you get lucky with a leg cast, and other times you have to beg your spouse for help buttoning your shirt. And don't get me started on bathroom runs.

On the days when you're not up for writing, you can work on that pile of unread books that's threatening to tip over one night and give the newspapers a fun headline opportunity: "Literature Lover Smashed by Steinbeck!" If you're an avid reader, you're likely to have more than one stack around the house, leaning threateningly, like the library scene from "Ghostbusters". I polished off a mystery called "Longshot" by Dick Francis, and now know a little more about the world of horse racing.

If you're too sick even to read, this is your chance to watch a little TV. My oldest daughter gifted me with something called Roku, which is apparently a little magic entertainment box from Hogwarts. My wife was able to do something I can't--figure it out--so we decided to try Disney+, because they have total control of, well, everything. As a result we got to watch a show called The Mandalorian, which was amazingly fun even when viewed through a layer of Kleenex.

The dog--well, ours, anyway--actually shows some concern toward you, past whether you're carrying a plate of food, or if you're keeping up with his bathroom schedule. Or, possibly, he kept checking to see if he'd eventually be forced to eat my corpse.

Little pill shaped sick snacks!

Illness is a great weight loss program, unless you're me. I'm hungry when I'm sick, when I'm well, happy, depressed, or hungry. After losing an amazing five pounds over the holidays, I gained back three during a week on the couch.

But there is one final good thing about being sick: Once word gets around, you don't have to clean the house for visitors. It's a reward for both the introverted and the lazy.