Planting Spring Bulbs in December

On December 26, to be exact, the temperature here in Chicago reached a high of 55 degrees!  It felt more like March when the snow melts (Hopefully!), the days get longer (Thank God!), and heavy parkas make way for lighter jackets.


My spring bulbs arrived late.  My fault: I ordered them from Holland and ordered them long after I should have.  I prayed that they’d arrive before the ground froze.  No such luck.  They made it here when I couldn’t move a handful of dirt, even when I gave the flower bed a good kick.  (I had a sore toe for 24 hours.)

So, I was stuck with a box of bulbs that cost me $42.  What to do?  I emailed the company and asked what the heck had taken so long and how I should proceed.  Planting them outside was not happening.  The return email detailed instructions for planting the bulbs in pots and putting the pots in a cool, dry place.  In early spring, when the freeze had broken, I was to plant the bulbs in the ground.

I bought potting soil, labeled each pot, and stuck the bulbs as deep as the bottom of the pots would allow.  Some of the “bulbs” were the size of peas; I didn’t count on them surviving the winter in the basement.  Besides, it was warmer there than in the rest of the house.  I said a little prayer to Mother Nature and hoped for the best.

The very next day (as I said, December 26), temperatures rose, the sun shone, the snow melted, the ground unfroze.

“Get out there and plant,” my friend urged.

“I just potted them.”

“Well, dig them up.”

It was late afternoon.  I had maybe 90 minutes before sunset.  I thought of all kinds of excuses why I should leave the bulbs in the pots: my back hurt, I’d ruin my manicure, all the gardening tools had been put away . . .  Besides, how would I find those pea-sized bulbs?

In the end, I grabbed a trowel from the garage, some newspaper to kneel on and then began the process of sifting through the potting soil to rescue all the bulbs.  I failed.  Those tiny bulbs got lost in the shuffle.  And short of running all the soil through some kind of strainer, I gave up and headed outside with the bulbs I could find.


Alas, by that time, I had no idea which bulbs were which—their size, their color, not even what kind.  Frustrated, I dug a bunch of holes and threw bulbs in willy nilly.  I may well end up with tall flowers in front of small, clashing colors and flowers that look awful next to one another.

I guess I’ll just have to wait until spring to find out.





$.99 Book Sale Post Motem


I’m probably jumping the gun here: there are, after all, 8 more days until Xmas, 7 more days until Hanukah.

But all but one of my online discount book “campaigns” for The Sibling Connection: How Siblings Shape Our Lives are over.  Yes, I’ll wait with bated breath to see if somehow Booktastic at comes through big time. offers the following to authors who pay between $5 and $10, depending upon the genre and the number of subscribers.  In my case, a one-off email will be sent to 3500 potential readers.  Sounds like a plan.

  • We send our subscribers  daily emails in their chosen genres for ebooks that are on sale, and new releases.
  • Your ebook stays on our site for the duration of your sale.
  • We send our subscribers daily emails listing competitions and giveaways.
  • Our Facebook features include your book post being advertised to the fans who have liked our page and Facebook users who are readers in your genre but have not liked our page.
  • All emailed promotions are also featured on our website. This can help increase sales of titles or generate buzz for an author around a new release, giveaway or competition.
  • Our editors streamline your blurb to ensure we present readers with a short, attention-grabbing hook. When you advertise with us, you agree to accept any changes we may make to your advertising copy.

Music to an author’s ears.  Or is it?  The stats on not on our side:

After skyrocketing from 2008 to 2012, e-book sales leveled off in 2013 and have fallen more than 10% since then, according to the AAP StatShot Annual 2015.

The average U.S. nonfiction book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 2,000 copies over its lifetime.


Now, during my $.99 sale, Amazon reported that 68 copies of the sibling book sold in one day.  Not bad!  And I don’t have figures for the other online book sites like Kobo, Barnes&Noble, and iBook.

And it was on the 68 copy day that my ranking in the Kindle sibling category skyrocketed to #1.  I was on top of the pile for exactly 24 hours.  Then the gradual slide began . . . #3, #4, #6, and now a disappointing #12.


Talk about a roller coaster ride!





I couldn’t help checking daily, if not several times a day.  A broken promise.  But I couldn’t help myself.  Not a statistician, I thought I could pair a particular online marketing feature with sales.  Besides, I was curious.

And, yes, that “big” sales day corresponded with features the day of and two days prior on, and

There’s no way of knowing how many potential readers clicked through to at least check out my book and whether or not they’ll remember my name or book title when my next opus is published.  Head’s up:  Dead Serious: A Book For Teens About Teen Suicide. 

But I wouldn’t hesitate to discount that book and sign up again for at least 8 of the online discount book sites.  I may not have made much, if any, money (What can anyone expect when selling anything for $.99?), but I know that I’d burned my bridges with social media and that I was in dire need of new marketing outlets.

I know I rarely, if ever, buy a book because of a tweet or post.  Like most folks, I’d rather rant after reading a post-election article or comment on a photo of a “friend’s” adorable grandchild.


Marketing Book About Adult Siblings



czlko6iw8aucqzoBublish, the distributor of my book The Sibling Connection: How Siblings Shape Our Lives, decided with authors’ okay to discount ebooks to $.99 for the holidays.  (The original price:  $7.99.)  Not a bad idea!  Everything else on the planet is discounted for the holidays.

Now at .$99, there’s little chance of making any money, but there is the opportunity for authors to expand their reader base.  With a revised edition of Dead Serious: A Book for Teens About Teen Suicide slated for publication in 2017, I need all the readers I can round up.

So, discounting the sibling book made a lot of sense.  We authors are usually not very good at marketing, but, in this age of online public relations and high fees for “professional” publicists, we’ve had to suck it up and learn the tricks of the trade.

Before the discount, the sibling book’s ranking on Amazon was a dismal 72, or something like that.  I’d stopped checking months earlier but took a peek just before the holiday sale.

But then the good stuff happened, and the book shot up to #4.  That wasn’t without some help from a number of online book sites that feature free and discounted books.  Sites like and  (Cute name, eh?)

I was riding high there for a time and looking forward to the next week or two when a host of other sites would be featuring my book.  Many of the sites promote a title for free but usually just for a day. Sometimes, for an additional $7.95, the marketing can be extended for a week or more.  And then there are sites like and that can cost up to $49 with “promises” of reaching thousands of readers via their Twitter and Facebook accounts and sometimes with direct emails.

By the time I finished doing my due diligence, I’d signed up for 9 sites and waited to see if my book was “accepted” by another 2. (I’m still waiting.)

To date, it would take selling 220 copies of my book to break even.  Granted, that doesn’t sound like a lot, but my book sales have been sluggish and far below what I’d expected.

So, did I spend my money for naught?  What now?  Well, I’ve got new marketing “campaigns” lined up until the end of the month.  Who knows: maybe there will be a holiday rush when all those last-minute shoppers realize that they will be going home to spend time with family and need some help in surviving the potentially rocky connections with their siblings.  What with the election and all, there are bound to be even more hurdles this year.  Sister Sally may have voted for you-know-who.  Or Brother Dan may have pulled the lever for Jill Stein.  Or maybe the Bernie supporter decided to stay home.

Oy vey!

Stay tuned: when all the hoopla is over, when siblings have returned from whence they came, and the $.99 discount and online marketing have expired until the next go-round, I’ll tally up the numbers  and maybe even have a few bucks to spend on my book club’s next book for January.