General Talk

Yeah, That’s Tasty…

I’m a total Facebook junkie. Because I post so much there, I often don’t think of making sure I post some of the same stuff to the blog here. I mean, how much do people care (outside of Facebook) what new recipe I’ve tried or what nifty prepper tip I have for the day?

One of my favorite things is eating…but also cooking the food that I eat. I’m an avid subscriber to Blue Apron, but with a twist. I try to figure out how to make the ones I really like using common ingredients or pantry staples. I even try to use prepper friendly ingredients. I mean, after all, putting such in your regular rotation is the best way to keep them fresh and replaced without waste.

Here’s one recent twist:

Blue Apron’s Crispy Catfish with Yellow Curry & Bird’s Eye Chili Sauce

Go on and take a look at it on the link (which is prettier than mine). Yeah, that looks tasty. Here are pantry friendly substitutions and recommendations that store super well for longer term (we’d call that short to medium length for prep specific).

Ingredient Replacements: Use red pepper flakes instead of the chili, any non-instant rice instead of jasmine, flour for rice flour. NOTE: They sent an American farm raised mild catfish that tastes like Basa. Don’t get Vietnamese or Chinese Basa instead, because it’s questionably raised. Any mild, flaky, white fish works. Regular catfish doesn’t work in this.

Pantry (and Prep) Friendly or No-Waste Items:

1) Coconut Milk Powder is incredibly versatile, stores well, and adds a hint of tropical sweetness and depth to dishes. The powder is vastly superior to the canned milk in terms of cost. Coconut Palm Sugar is the same, but it’s pricey compared to regular sugar, so I use it where I get the best impact, like this dish.

2) Buy fresh ginger by the pound, spend an hour mincing it all, then put it in a bag in your freezer. Break off to use as fresh ginger as needed. No more waste! Powdered will work, but fresh is best. The bigger bag linked below is a bargain compared with most spices. I also like Laxmi brand, which is smaller and cheaper, but lasts forever if stored properly.

3) There’s a joke that says, buy a new pack of yellow curry paste every time you buy a new refrigerator to keep it fresh. Yeah, it lasts. The brand I use is linked below and it comes in a plastic bag inside a plastic jar. It’s freaking delicious and adds zip to boring things (like beans and rice in prep stocks). PRO TIP: You can (under uber-clean conditions) open the packet and re-vacuum seal single use amounts for storage. I don’t do that anymore because I use it so frequently.

4) Ponzu sauce is an overlooked, but delicious, thin sauce you can use like soy sauce. It’s got a citrus kick that’s delightful.

5) You can use regular old lime juice if you don’t have a lime, but the zest is really awesome in this one. Try to use fresh if you can. I’m still waiting for someone to pack up freeze-dried lime zest that looks like zest! Dehydrated lime juice is a prepper must-have, the brand I use is below and works fine when you have no limes on hand.

6) You can substitute the kale with fresh spinach, young collards, bok choy, or beet greens. It doesn’t taste good with cabbage. Cool tolerant, fast-growing, and low maintenance leafy greens are a prepper must-have. They fill huge gaps in prep diets and offer the satisfaction that only green things do. Do you have leafy green seeds on hand? Do you?

Overall, this is rated 5 stars from me. It’s easy to source the main ingredients and many of the components are pantry friendly and easily used in a myriad of other meals. It’s quick to make, as in super quick, and well rounded with rib-sticking satisfaction levels. On the economical scale – I rate this one an 8 out of 10, which is awesome. Initial purchases of milk powder and curry paste can be high, but the number of uses each provides knocks that cost waaaaay down. The protein grams per dollar are high too.

Some Of My Books Are Leaving Kindle Unlimited…

After trying (and largely failing) to gain a foothold on venues other than Amazon (VOTA), I went back into KDP Select a few months ago. Immediately, my book income almost doubled and my ranks improved, (which leads to more visibility and borrows/sales). It was a relief, but also sort of disappointing. Why? Because it simply confirmed that going all-in with Amazon was my own viable option and that meant I was going to have to toe their line and put all my eggs in their basket. The upside to that is that people could borrow my books in Kindle Unlimited.

Unfortunately, Amazon has been having some problems lately and there are casualties.

One of those casualties is related to the “exclusivity” clause. Basically, anything that is available in any other book or publication is not exclusive and therefore, cannot be in KU (meaning KDP Select). In my case, that means anything I’ve had published in The Future Chronicles series of anthologies would not be exclusive.

While Robot Evolution has only one story from the Chronicles, it has that one story. None of the other PePr novellas are outside my control, but one is enough. So, Robot Evolution and  possibly Hope/Less will have to come out of Select. This is bad because I get far more “reads” in KU than actual sales. It blows actually.

The other casualties are The Ways We End and And Then Begin Again. While each volume has half new material, the other half started as tales in the Chronicles and Beyond The Stars series. I’ve rewritten them (because hey, no word count limits!), but it’s still no-banana.

If you’re a Kindle Unlimited member and you’ve had those on your list, get them soon. Once their time for this Select period is up, they’ll be available for purchase only. On the upside, they will also be available on all other retailers too!


NOTE: Due to some other strangeness going on at Amazon (it’s complicated), I may wind up taking all of my books out of Select and going wide with them again. Yes, this will crash my income and visibility, but the stuff going on right now is super scary and it might be my only alternative if I want to feel safe.

Why That Follow Button Sucks…

I fell into the follow button trap and now I’m doing my best to reverse that. I wasn’t sure I should share, but I read a whole lot more than I write, so I figure other readers like me probably would like to know about this. While I’m not super price sensitive when it comes to books, I read so much that I try to economize where I can. That makes it worth sharing!

The Follow buttons seemed so awesome, so easy…a way to decrease my load of email and give me some of my mental bandwidth back. So, I clicked away and unsubscribed to all those newsletters, thinking I would get all the info without any need to…you know…read. I even shouted out to folks to jump on that follow button bandwagon with me.

Yeah, that totally didn’t work.

What am I going on about? I’m specifically talking about two forms of “Follow” buttons on two sites: Amazon and BookBub. Both of these forms of follow buttons purport to allow you to be updated on new releases by whichever authors you follow, plus sale prices.

Neither of them actually does that. After missing a couple of dozen new releases by must-read authors and even more sale prices by other must-read authors, I’m now trying to undo my hasty following urge and re-join their newsletters. I figured if it took me this long to figure out what I had missed out on, then maybe there are others in the same boat.

Here are the specifics:

Amazon Follow Button:

Of the two follow buttons, this one is the better of the two, but it is still woefully inadequate and unreliable. Supposedly, you’ll be notified of new releases. The problem is that you never know when you’ll be notified. A lot of the author newsletters I subscribed to, I did so because they always had new release pricing for a few days after publishing. I mean, if I know I’m going to read their work more often than not, why not get it for less?

Amazon’s announcements may or may not be sent, and if they are, they can come up to a month after release. More importantly, if other big things are going on at Amazon…they don’t come at all. Like Holiday shopping, or their Black Friday summer, or really anything that they want to focus on.

After getting notifications several weeks after release for several authors I followed, I decided to get back on their newsletters so I can save some money. There’s nothing more irritating than clicking BUY at full price when you know you could have saved 75% if you’d only been notified a day earlier than you were.

TIP: If you put Kindle books on your wishlist, sometimes (I repeat, sometimes), you’ll get a notification if there’s a price drop. It seems to happen more for traditionally published titles or those publishing by Amazon imprints, but once in a while it can happen for an Indie book.

Yes, I still follow all those authors on Amazon because it improves my recommendations, (since Amazon algos seem to consider all the things you like when recommending books). I still recommend using the Amazon follow button because it has some benefit in that regard, but I definitely wouldn’t count on it for getting news in a timely manner.

BookBub Follow Buttons:

Yeah, they announced this with huge flair, urging all us Indies to share this with our readers. Like a bagillion others, I did that, but it turns out that it’s less than worthless. Why? Because it has more exclusions than inclusions!

I followed loads of authors on the Bub, thinking I was going to seriously save on books by getting announcements from the Bub. Then…crickets, except for TradPub authors and a very few Indie mega-sellers. The only notifications I got about interesting indies were when the Bub ran a rare ad for an author’s books (which of course, sends me to their site and gives them affiliate income.)

That in itself might not be so bad, but then I realized why this happens through my own book releases. Here’s a quick example of how this works. It took me a while to figure it out, but once I did, I was a little irritated because of all the books I missed out on.

I released the PePr, Inc. series of novellas as individual titles for a while. Each one of those doesn’t qualify for new book announcements because they are novellas. Okay, fine. That’s cool. I get that they have length limits. So then I collected them together into a big, fat book called Robot Evolution. Guess what? It doesn’t qualify because the individual titles were once published. So basically, all those people I pointed to the Bub as a way to get announcements for my new books if they were averse to newsletters never heard about any of them.

Same thing happened with The Ways We End and And Then Begin Again. Even though most of the material was new and all the stories were reworked that had been in anthologies, it didn’t qualify. Basically, the people who follow me don’t know of a single new release by me since Strikers: Eastlands. Not one.

Why did they do this if they didn’t intend to actually do it? It seems pretty obvious in retrospect. It was a way for them to get us to spread the word and get more people signed up to their newsletter…which they make money from. Duh. And we’re not talking a few either. When you take thousands of authors and tell them this, then ask them to share, that’s millions of eyeballs getting tempted. Talk about free advertising! After all, you can’t follow authors on Bub unless you join Bub. ::facepalm::

At least I could easily see which authors I followed on there and then decide which I needed to re-join the newsletters of in order to stop missing releases. Turns out I missed a total of 33 new releases….33! Now, some of those included box sets, but overall, I missed out on a whole lot of indie authors and their new release pricing, plus a whole lot of sale prices.

I don’t really recommend the Bub Follow button at all anymore as a reader. It’s useless. As an author, there’s the possibility that they use the number of followers an author has when deciding who get’s approved for an ad. Because of that, I still want people to follow me there, but that’s sort of selfish, so I feel bad for feeling that way.

I’ve spent the last two days correcting that mess up on my part and joined those newsletters again. Yes, there are a few that will send me too much mail and I’ll unsub them again, but for the most part, they are worth the email space.

TIP: Remember to add the email address of the author’s newsletter to your contacts. By doing that, you make sure that you’ll actually see it. Yahoo and Gmail have gone draconian and will mark them as spam or promotional, hiding them from view or sticking them in another tab. Finding out about an awesome sale or giveaway after it is long over sort of negates the purpose of getting the newsletter. 🙂 So far, out of my favorite 25 authors I’ve rejoined, 23 of them went to the hidden folder. The two that didn’t were already white-listed because I’ve exchanged emails with them before. So, yeah, white-listing is more important that ever apparently.


Are you a Kindle Unlimited reader? If so, here’s a few tips…

Loads and loads of avid readers have joined Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited (KU). It’s been a great deal for many readers, allowing an unlimited reading experience for the price of a single paperback every month. I mean, what’s not to love?

If you’re a reader.

If you’re an author, well, that relationship can be a mixed one. I love it, even with glitches simply because I can reach readers who no longer buy books and read KU books exclusively. I get it. Given how many thousands of pounds of books I’ve donated over the years, I really get it. I’m one of those people that actually filled up a Kindle!

That said, there are some glitches showing up in the KU experience that have impacted payments to the authors. Here are a few tips from a KU author to all the lovely KU readers out there. Most of the tips are based on research (including informal polls and hard data gathering), done by many indie authors. Since we’re not having much luck getting Amazon to address these problems, I’m hoping that sharing with you will help.

Tip #1  –  Please don’t go back to the beginning of the book once you’re done.

This one is pretty simple. Amazon is basically counting your pages from where you ended reading (as far as we can tell no better system is yet in place). So, if you read a book and enjoy it so much that you go back to look at the cover or the list of other works by the author, well….it erases all your pages read, which means that author will not get paid. While Amazon denies this, we have demonstrated proof that such happens.

I, for one, frequently do this. I did the same thing with physical books. I’d sigh, wish the book wasn’t over, and close it to look at that beautiful cover again. It wasn’t any different with a Kindle book and often I’d click the contents to go back to the page where their other works were listed. YIKES! While I’m not reading with KU, if I were, then a whole lot of authors would have been unpaid. And worse, the more I enjoyed their work, the more likely they were to not be paid!

Tip #2  –  Please note that you read the book in KU at the top of your review if you leave one.

Amazon is weighing verified reviews over non-verified reviews, but at the same time, Amazon has NO tag for those who read a book using KU. That’s super silly, since to me, a KU membership means you invested your money in that book and your review should count. By noting that you read it via KU at the top of a review, you let readers who may distrust non-verified reviews know you’re a real reader! (Also, let’s hope they get a KU tag soon!)

Tip # 3  –  Please sync your book before you return it.

Right now, no one is entirely sure how this flaw is happening. Maybe it’s by device or app, or maybe there’s something in the settings. Whatever it is, we do know that syncing a finished book with Amazon improves the likelihood that Amazon will show the pages read and therefore, pay the author.

Tip #4 – If you read in Page Flip, the author will not be paid.

This is a tough one! I love reading in Page Flip mode on my 8.9 Kindle HDX. It’s perfect for that. If I were a KU reader, then every book I read that way would have resulted in ZERO payments to the author. Yep, that’s correct and Amazon has actually confirmed that. Page Flip is intended as a navigation feature, (according to them), so any pages read that way will not count.

If you read in Page Flip, please leave for regular view at least at the end of the book. We’re pretty sure they’re still counting the last page read to calculate payments, but it’s possible Amazon is now counting any flip from the front to the back of the book as a fraudulent read (and withholding payments). Even so, it’s worth a try.

Note: If you’re not sure if you’re reading in Page Flip or not, you can tell because there’s an outline around the page (on most devices and apps) and the progress bar is visible at the bottom of the screen without tapping.

Thank you to all the KU readers out there! I appreciate every single one of you and hope to meet many more of you through that wonderful program. Happy Reading.

One Amazing Month of Work – The Count

Hope-LessVery randomly I’ll look at what I’m accomplishing and I just did that for the period between January 20th and February 20th. I had this notion that I’d done a lot, and I finally got curious enough to actually check it out.

To say I was shocked would be a total understatement. I actually went over it again because I thought it had to be wrong. Nope, not wrong.

I decided to post about it because I think it demonstrates what can actually be accomplished in a short period of time when someone is dedicated to getting it done and doesn’t mind working way too much, even from the comfort of home.

Here’s the short list:

  • -Started and finished TWO entire novels (in first draft) of 60K each. (Those are for a different pen name, not yet launched.)
  • -Added to and ran a first pass edit on the first of those two novels.
  • -Tried to make my own covers for that pen name, spent too much time, realized I couldn’t, then worked with an amazing cover artist to get the first three covers done.
  • -Created my launch plan, with a whole lot of details
  • -Outlined and got 10K into the third novel for that pen name.
  • -Last review and publishing of Corrections (PePr, Inc. #5)
  • -Wrote, edited, and published Hope/Less (PePr, Inc. #6)
  • -Outlined and created covers for Mercy (PePr, Inc. #7) and The Protector (or maybe The Guardian, PePr, Inc. #8)
  • -Wrote 45K words of Strikers: Eastlands
  • -Edited and turned in an 11K short story for an anthology
  • -Wrote an 8K short story just because I had the idea
  • -Wrote a wicked 500 word flash fiction that is as tight as I have ever written in my life
  • -Collated, then formatted for print and ebook the first of the PePr Collections. Again, I tried to make covers and must have spent 30 hours trying. Now I’m putting all that hot mess together to go back to that wonderful cover artist.

And that’s just with writing! My average word count over those days…including counting days off as writing days…is 6,700 words per day. Holy macaroni on a hot plate!

So, what was the point of that? What did it get me and what did I give up to do it?

This is where it gets interesting, because it turns out that I had absolutely zero work/life balance there. I still cooked for my family and got things done, but my floors should have been vacuumed far more than they were and there was extra dust I should have gotten rid of. We did do about 50% of the redecorating for the first room we’re re-doing, which took a great deal of time, but regular maintenance was somewhat lacking.

I also didn’t go the gym even once and this is the worst one. I do need to keep working out. I need to do it for my longevity and that wasn’t good. But it turns out I can write like a demon between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. when others start getting up. Too bad that’s also my best time for the gym. I’ll need to figure that out somehow. And no, I definitely can’t do them at the same time. No way.

So, that’s my month! I may not be able to do another one of those, but this one was amazing for work. Now, if only I could get bookbub to like me again I might even get paid for all the work!



Busy, busy – Cute Book Charms Done!

Just a quick update because I don’t want anyone to think I’m blowing off the website. Here’s the happenings around here in no particular order.

photo (3)

Goodreads Giveaway: Congrats to the winner! I’m packing up your paperback and trying very hard to get a bookmark done so I can slip that in the envelope with the book. The bookmarks for Strikers came out uber-cute, and I just finished the charms for The In-Betweener, so let’s hope those are cool as well. Here’s a peek at what the first test of a Strikers bookmark came out like (my charms are better now). I’m going to stick one of my Love Your Zombies wristbands in there as well.


Speaking of Swag: I’ve not been ignoring my writing, but I’ve filled up any hour not spent writing with doing my swag making. There’s something strangely addicting about making things like that. It’s very futzy and precise, yet allows my thoughts to wander a bit as well. Here is what I just got done with! That’s a lot of future bookmarks!  


And Writing?:  Oh, yes, I’ve been writing. I’m deep into the final changes to Forever Between, which will be out on March 20th. (Speaking of which, I’m opening up the Advanced Review Copy list! There were a lot of non-completes in the last list, so it’s open to those that have actually left reviews in the past this time. A few new folks are welcome, but not at the rate I did last time since so few actually followed through.)

Also, I’m right in the middle of a new story, this time an Alternate History story for another one of those spectacular anthologies. Luckily, he extended the deadline out to March 15th, so I can take a deep breath. I had no idea alternate history was so hard to write. I’ve also finished another short called Vindica…or rather, two versions of it with one substantially longer, like a novella and the other version short enough for an antho. It’s scheduled to appear in another one of the amazing Chronicles series produced by Samuel Peralta. (Hint: Zombies).

Between Life and Death, the third book in the Between Life and Death Series, is coming along very nicely and I hope that everyone likes the way I’m wrapping up that series. While The In-Betweener was a relatively short book (191 pages), Forever Between is half-again as long and Between Life and Death is longer still. Not weirdly long, but longer because the world of Emily expands so much. I really love these characters. Emily, Veronica and Charlie are such interesting and good people and I’m going to hate to say goodbye to them. Really.

And Other Miscellaneous: We got socked in by snow (like a whole lot of other places!) during the last storm and it looks like it’s going to happen again starting tonight. That means lots of snow shoveling, sliding around on slippery ice while trying to get my dog to actually pee on snow (for some reason he just can’t do that), and staying indoors while hoping my pipes don’t freeze. While you’d think that would be good for writing, it’s not for some reason. So, I’ll just need to buckle down and do the work.

Hope everyone stays safe out there and has a good book to settle down with. Until next time!

James River + the SciFi Ladies


So, a few of us decided not to wallow in the hotel rooms and go out for a good dinner instead. From left to right: Patrice Fitzgerald, Jen Foehner Wells, Rysa Walker and me, Ann Christy.

If you don’t know who any of those names are, go to Amazon and type in their name. It means you’re missing out on some good books.

So, Patrice (she is such a great organizer of humans, events, anything that descends into randomness and chaos) made our reservations at Lemaire, inside The Jefferson Hotel, which is my favorite here in Richmond. I confess, I was drooling at the thought.

And here is what was going through my head, in order. One: Meat Butter and Two: I’m going to pop this dress if I eat Meat Butter. (By the way, meat butter is just any meat you eat there. I have no idea how they do it, but all meat products almost melt in your mouth and force indecent sounds out of mouths. Truly.)

ACBeforeThis is me before I left, dreaming of meat butter and fearing my zipper.



The above are snaps of my dinner. I know…I know. Why am I showing you food? Because I love food! And because I rarely get to eat pretty food. Mostly, my food is healthy, but not particularly attractive. I mean, I make a great home-made split pea soup, but it ain’t much to look at.




I wasn’t the only one impressed with dinner. I took photos of everyone else taking photos of their food. Whoa…deep. Okay, not really. The funny thing is, I did too and I believed that I posted them, but they never showed up. So really, who knows where they wound up and what I really posted. I’m not going to dig and find out. 🙂

Yes, I know I tend to be very straight laced about things most of the time. But I did let my hair down, so to speak, and imbibe a little. I won’t post the pictures of me later in the evening trying to totter my way up the ramp to the elevators. Not cute! For once, I’m glad of facebook scroll.


James River + Hugh

DasGangThe first day of the James River Writer’s Conference went swimmingly! I posted a bunch of stuff on Facebook, but one of the great things I learned today in Hugh Howey’s class was to not consign my good stuff to the great beyond of the scroll. Anything really good that gets posted there should also be on my site. So…here we go!

Above is the group that went to eat and have a good chat after Hugh’s class. How many can you name? Well, there’s Hugh Howey, Rysa Walker, Jen Foehner Wells, David Gatewood, Patrice Fitzgerald, Kevin G. Summers and a wonderful guy named Ron Walker who has read books by Hugh, Patrice and me. It was soooo great to meet a reader! And we ate at the Tobacco Company, which is smoke free and quite yummy. I couldn’t barely eat a thing though cause my jaws were flapping.



And this is blurry, which I’m so bummed about, but this is Hugh and me. This guy absolutely changed my life…I was not a writer, didn’t dream of being a writer, had no intention of being a writer. Now I’m a writer with 6 books out and stories in three anthologies (more coming) and I’m about to go full time. Seriously…that’s amazing and I owe it to him. So, getting a picture with him is pretty awesome.



The Master class he gave was incredible. People were pretty much rapt and I know I was taking notes like nobody’s business. And I wasn’t the only one. I’ll make a long post on it when I return, but building your own platform as a writer seems easy, but most of us do it wrong (me included). People who did it smashingly good right out of the gate are Jen Foehner Wells (Fluency, great book, read it).

So, tonight it’s the Ladies going out to eat at one of my favorite restaurants, and surely one of the favorite in Richmond. It’s called Lemaire and it’s inside The Jefferson Hotel, which is my favorite here in Richmond. Go on, take a look. If you want a romantic getaway or just love staying in a place that looks like another age (or the inside of the Titanic), then you can’t go wrong there. I’ll try to get a picture, but as you tell above, my iphone is NOT very good at photos.





Through the random forces of the interwebs, I’ve discovered a very cool new tool. The Pulp-O-Mizer!

The main site…Retropolis…has an amazing array of pulp/steampunkish and otherwise retro promo products, but the actual Pulp-O-Mizer is here. You can see from my main image that you can make some super cool stuff.

The caveat is that you can’t use them for book covers, but then again, I don’t have books that could use them for covers. But you can use them for all sorts of other stuff. They have Facebook specific sizes, banners…you name it. And you can customize pretty much everything.

I’m wasting inordinate amounts of time trying to figure out good uses for these awesome images. Announcements, questions, sarcastic twitter posts when a TV show I like does something lame….the list is endless.


Kindle Unlimited: Are you in it?

So, Kindle Unlimited has been out for a while now and I’m curious if any readers out there stayed in it after the trial period was up?

I’m not in it yet. Mostly, because I’m so busy right now and I want to get full use of my free trial, like right before I go on a cruise or something. Because…yeah…when I go on vacation I mostly read. ::grin::

I’ve kept two books in Select so they are available to Unlimited users. Strikers, which is $4.99, so that makes it a bargain. And Yankari, which is a $0.99 short. I did see a small surge in borrows (which is what the Unlimited and the single borrows for Prime fall under) during the first couple of months but that’s tapered off. Yankari is new so I don’t have a lot of data on that one.

But those borrows have tapered off and that makes me wonder…how many people stayed in KU after their trial period? Do they have difficulties discovering books? How do they discover books to read on KU?

I’m curious about it, curious enough to post.

Work In Progress

Savannah Slays (working title)

5000/ 100000 words. 5% done!

Portals - Portal Invasion #1

78000/ 78000 words. First Draft Done!

Mercy - PePr Inc novella

3000/ 20000 words. 15% done!

The Ways We End

66000/ 66000 words. 100% Done! Publishing Dec 8th! (Dark Collections 2, "And Then Begin Again" goes live on the Dec 8th too!

Strikers: Outlands

40000/ 10000 words. 40% Done!

Good News Gone Bad #1
Series of Shorts

4000 / 20000 words. Back Burner for now.

Lulu 394

60020 / 80000 words. 75% done! Back Burner for now!


Privacy Policy and Affiliate Links

I keep your info private. Period. I don't sell it, share it, or any of that shady business. Also, when I remember, I use Amazon affiliate links on this site. That means if you click and use those, I get a few cents on the dollar from them.

Books by Ann Christy