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Books, Business, & Valentino

It’s been a few weeks since I raised the prices on most of my books. And sales are…still not good. Or flat, more or less. I have sold a few at the higher prices, and thankfully, the profit from those is only a little lower than it would be from more sales at lower prices, so it’s not as bad as it could be. But it would be nicer if sales were a bit more like they were before.

I’ve done this before – raised prices, and generally about this time, I throw in the towel and lower them again, because I need to make some sort of money for the year just to justify the money I spend on web site hosting, cover art images, various marketing tools, etc (we’re not talking profit here, just general operating expenses, which I subsidize with personal funds). And then I tell myself that people will only pay what they’ll pay, and what we indies have “trained” them to pay, which is rock-bottom prices, and that there’s nothing I can do about it until I write more and better books.

This time, I’m going to stick it out. I have a few series that still need to be bundled, a host of books that need updated covers and blurbs, and a lack of sales seems like good motivation to get all that moving. And to keep working on the drafts I have going, of course. Because nothing sells old books like new books, really.

In other book news, I’m finally almost done reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (just have the epilogue left). I never know when I pick up a “literary” book whether I’m going to be engaged or get bored, because they do take more mental focus to read than my favored thriller/action-adventure novels, or a good romance romp. But this book…well, it’s engaging, poignant, and managed to hold my interest in a subject I normally actively avoid (World War II). It’s brilliantly written, though in saying so I feel like I’m selling it short. And it really brings the everyday struggle of society, even now, into pretty sharp focus.

If you haven’t read it, I’d highly recommend it.

On a completely different and frivolous note…oh man. I’m fairly certain I’ll never in my lifetime be able to justify paying for a true designer handbag, but I am completely smitten with the new Medium Valentino Rockstud Spike Chain Bag in Denim. It’s adorable, and fringy, and kinda rugged in a fun, casual-elegant sort-of-way, and if there truly was a Santa Claus, I’d ask him for one of these for Christmas. Or Independence Day (Christmas in July, anyone?).

A dual-color Valentino Candystud bag would be fun too. But the only thing less likely to find its way to my closet than a $2k designer handbag is two $2k designer handbags. Why are these things so expensive, anyways? *sigh* I know, I know. Made for the elite, to distinguish from the riff-raff. Or, just way, way overpriced. In either case, still on the list of “things I want but can’t have”. Dammit. I suppose that list is what keeps me from being too spoiled, eh?

On that note, I’m going to go finish The Book Thief before I sleep. Because nothing goes with designer bag envy so well as WWII atrocities. *eyeroll*

I often find my internal dichotomies kind of annoying. And yet, I don’t think there’s really any way around them. It’s just how the human mind works (so to speak).


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On Snail Mail, Big Bags & Journaling…

Christmas Cards

Cards waiting to be sent out…

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this past week…not angsting, really, just thinking about life in general, and some changes I want and/or need to make in the near future. Nothing huge or scary, just things I want to do that I’m not making time for now, and a bit of schedule rearrangement to make everything work a bit more comfortably (I hope). I’m actually pretty exciting about it, and three of those changes are what we’re discussing today.

Having missed sending Christmas cards out for the last couple years, I was determined to do so this year. There are a lot of reasons why I don’t get them done from year to year, but the main one is, I simply don’t make it a priority. And I’ll admit that for awhile, I just thought it was kind of a pointless endeavor without a newsy letter to catch everyone up on what was going on. But really, that was just me being a perfectionist, and also failing to realize that the card in and of itself is the point – sending something beautiful to people you’re fond of, even if all it contains is a quick wish for happiness and a signature. The card *itself* is the gift. It doesn’t need anything more to convey the message that I was thinking of that person in that moment.

I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that, but better late than never, right? Incidentally, I have plenty of cards left, so if you want me to send you one, email me your address (or message me on FB, or whatever’s easiest), and I’ll get one out to you this week. My gift to you. 🙂

In any case, while I was signing cards and affixing stamps that are worth *way* more than needed to actually send the cards just because I love the stamps and wanted the envelopes to look pretty (Merry Christmas, USPS), I got to thinking about snail mail vs email, and my stamp collecting hobby. The fact is, when it comes to actual communication, I will use email every single time, because it’s quick and convenient and typing is far preferable to handwriting for me at this point.

But. I actually love getting and sending snail mail, partially for the stamps/covers (what collectors call envelopes), and partially just because it’s really fun to get a personal, physical note in the mailbox – something that’s pretty, or funny, or tells you something about some other place. Something not junk mail or bills. Once again, the card or postcard is the point, not necessarily the communication included therein.

So…in light of that, I’m going to start up a mail exchange in January for 2015. I’ll run it simply right here on my web site, and basically anyone who sends me a card or postcard will get one back from me, once a month for the whole year. The only rules will be: only one piece of mail per person per month, no metered postage (it has to have a stamp or stamps on it), and no long letters, because the point is the card or postcard, rather than text. Just a quick note, and something beautiful, or funny, or informative to exchange. Heck, you can even send anonymously if you’d like, as long as you include an address for me to mail back to. I think it’ll be fun, and it will start a new branch of my philatelic journey. More details on that in January…

Handbags

My normal purse vs. the new green monster tote. Nesting bags!

In other news, I bought myself a really big bag for the first time since college (the beautiful green one pictured above). I guess it’s not super-huge, but it’s bigger than anything I’ve carried in quite a long time, and I can’t decide if I like it or not. Why did I buy it? Because every day for the past…I don’t know how long, I’ve been carrying at least two bags to work – my purse, and one for my travel mug and a water bottle. On snowy days, when I wear my boots, I carry a third bag for my heels. And if I wanted to carry my netbook or something like my new Alphasmart (Neo), I’d need yet another bag (my tablet fits in my purse).

I don’t like carrying even two bags…it’s unwieldy at best, hence my big bag purchase. It’s a really nice bag, with enough room to even fit my big laptop (though I never take it anywhere – it’s a beast), or the Neo, or the netbook, and my tablet, and all the stuff in my purse (or, it has a full section just for “purse stuff”, though my whole purse will fit in the center section), my travel mug & bottle, and even my shoes when I need them. On the occasion I have stuff shipped to me at work, this bag has plenty of room for smaller boxes too, so would still leave my hands free while I’m walking to and from the car. I could even fit a small crochet or knitting project in there quite easily with everything else. On the rare occasions I travel, it will be perfect for that too.

So it’s a fabulous carry-all, but the shape isn’t “quite” right, and if it was just three inches shorter, it would be perfect. I’ll be on the lookout for one with slightly better dimensions, I think. But I’m going to try it this week and see how it works out. Perhaps once I get used to it, it won’t feel so massive.

The other thing I’ve been thinking about this week is journals/journaling. I’ve been on and off about keeping a journal this year, though it’s something that really is beneficial to me more often than not. My main issue with keeping a journal is that I need to be able to write whatever I want, without fear that anyone will ever read it, and due to having people find and read my journals in the past, I’m more than a little paranoid about it.

I started the year with a cloud-based electronic journal, and then deleted that, knowing that nothing is ever really secure online. Then I decided to try paper journals again. After months of stashing them in different spots every time I made an entry, being frustrated not being able to write in them when I wanted because I didn’t have time to myself, and other equally crazy/paranoid/ridiculous issues, I’ve finally gone back to a non-cloud-based, password-protected electronic journal. I tell you what – I feel like a total crazy person with how paranoid I am about this, but there are things I need to get out of my head but that need to stay private. I’ve taken every precaution I can, but even so, I know it’s impossible to ever fully protect anything, whether in physical or digital format. Still, the benefit of getting those thoughts out of my head vs. letting them truly drive me nuts is worth the risk, and I’ve now mitigated that as much as I possibly can.

So, a few changes before the new year even starts, because why wait, right? Some of the things I want to change will require tweaks to my normal routines, and since that takes awhile, I’m happy to start early.

Have you started thinking about the new year yet? Any changes on the horizon?


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