Monthly Archives: December 2015

Where Are The Sales?

I just received the annual report from WordPress with the 2015 statistics for Over the course of the past year, the blog was viewed in 71 countries around the world, a fact that both surprises and delights me. So, as 2015 ends and 2016 begins (I’m writing this on New Year’s Eve), I want to thank everyone for their support and interest in my ramblings and rantings.

Having expressed my thanks, I still want to ask a question to which I probably won’t get an answer. With so many readers in so many countries, how come I sold so few of my two books in 2015?

Zendoscopy is the sometimes hilarious, sometimes wrenching story of Sherman, a somewhat square peg of a kid coming of age in the round hole of his 1950s and ‘60s Southern California world. The book has received excellent reviews (check them out on, and I’ve done book signings and taken ads during the year. Yet, still, very few sales. If you haven’t read (bought!) the book, please consider doing so as we enter 2016. And if you like it, please write a review on or any other online site that accepts reviews. And tell your friends about it, too!

Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe , my other book, was published back in 2004. It, too received favorable reviews but has sold many copies. It’s a collection of science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories written over a period of years when, in my former (I’m retired) career as a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist, I needed to kill time in the hospital waiting for women in labor to deliver their babies. It’s a fun read if you’re into those genres, and I hope you’ll consider getting a copy in the year to come.

Both books are available in hardcover and e-book formats, so take your choice. You’ll find the hardcover (trade paperback) versions of each on any of many online sites, and the e-book on I recommend buying from and posting reviews there. Of course, if you live in Southern California and buy the hardcopy version, I’d be glad to autograph it for you.

Finally, the not-quite-a-sequel to Zendoscopy should be ready sometime in 2016. Several of the characters from Zendoscopy appear in the new book, but the story is totally new. If you’d like to find out more about Effie Mae, Larry, Saltzman, and Consuela, you’ll certainly want to pick up the new book when it arrives. I’ll be announcing its title a little later in 2016, so keep watching the blog or check me out on Facebook.

In the meantime, have a safe, happy, and healthy new year, and let’s all hope that in 2016 we’ll begin to see a more peaceful and tolerant world. And that goes for the behavior in Congress, as well!


Curmudgeonly Holiday Cheer

If you’re like me, you always feel a little ambivalent as the holiday season gets into full swing. And not without good reason, I would humbly suggest. And in the interest of perhaps making some of you understand that you’re not alone, I hereby offer a list of some of the things that annoy the hell out of me every year:

  • Christmas wreaths on car noses. Highly stupid.
  • Reindeer antlers affixed to the sides of cars. Almost as stupid as the wreaths.
  • Endless, and I do mean endless, e-mails from retailers, often including multiple missives from the same vendor in a single day. Eddie Bauer and, go f*** yourselves.
  • Holiday music on the radio, everywhere on the radio. Rum pum pum pum.
  • People who are actually offended when wished “happy holidays”, and who see such well-intentioned good will as an act of war on Christmas. Conversely, those who automatically wish me a merry Christmas or happy Hanukkah, presuming to know my religious leanings (and generally getting them wrong). For the record, I’m a Festivus kind of guy.
  • Which reminds me, what war on Christmas? Everywhere I turn, I’m bombarded by Christmas. The only war on Christmas I see every day at this time of year is the one being waged at its spirit by avaricious businesses.
  • “Black Friday” sales that start weeks before Black Friday and, as I write this, are still going on, albeit now being called by other names, such as “pre- Christmas” sales. What does buying a new mattress have to do with Christmas?
  • The same automobile commercials repeated over and over again, usually within bare minutes of one another.
  • Inconsiderate, reckless driving by people too harried, distracted, inebriated, and/or just plain irritated to be paying attention to the road, other drivers, and pedestrians.
  • Those Salvation Army bell ringers who feel it incumbent upon them to voice cheery good wishes in hope of attracting my attention and a contribution. You want a contribution, don’t confront me like a street beggar.

And now, for the things that don’t annoy me during the holidays:

  • People who refuse to patronize stores that stay open on days when employees should be free to spend time with their families.
  • Car manufacturers that don’t bombard the airwaves and cable with repeated ads with annoying music and, all too often, jolly Santas driving their vehicles.
  • People who do wish me to have “happy holidays”.
  • People who remain attentive and courteous behind the wheel, despite the awful provocations of those who don’t.
  • Salvation Army bell ringers who keep their mouths shut as I walk into the local Ralph’s.
  • Anyone, and I mean anyone, who wishes me a Festive Festivus.

Happy holidays, everyone!!!

Preaching to the Converted

Regular readers of this blog are pretty well onto my politics and so are probably expecting me to get into regular rants against what has become of the Republican mindset and, specifically, the ignorant and bigoted blather coming from the nomination seekers as they each try to outdo one another in their rush to the lunatic right. Well, I hate to disappoint, but I’m not going to do it, at least right now. Why? Because those who’ve read the 89 prior blog entries on are pretty much the converted. People who might perhaps gain some perspective from the liberal (educated?) view of things aren’t my readers, and my simply blowing off steam to those who already agree with me seems a waste of my time at the keyboard. Oh, I’m sure that despite this I’ll have more to say as we go through the primary season, but I’m going to try not to be the creator of a weekly harangue, even if venting my frustrations is somewhat therapeutic for me. So ‘nuff said for now.

It’s the holiday season once again, and Decembers seem to come and go at a furious pace as I get older. As always at this time of year, it’s time for the wife and me to catch up on all the recent movies we’ve missed, to visit with some friends, to eat (and eat and eat), and to wonder over why, in the words of the famous philosopher, Rodney King, we can’t all get along.

As I’ve often said in my postings, I’m not religious. I was raised in a secular environment (although my mother was a wishful agnostic who did send me to Sunday school for awhile – it didn’t “take”) and classify myself as a secular humanist. Perhaps because of this, religious intolerance and racism simply failed to resonate at any level with me. And so, instead of talking about the horror that just transpired in San Bernardino – incomprehensible in and of itself – I’d like to take the rest of this week’s entry to address what’s happened since the mass terror attack.

And what has happened? On one hand, there has been much caution urged by saner voices, pleas not to generalize feelings about the two terrorists responsible for the massacre to the Muslim community as a whole, the majority of whose members are as appalled as the rest of us and who, in addition, are coping with feelings of guilt and shame over what they see as a perversion of their beliefs. On the other hand, however, are a motley crew of gun supporters, Republican politicians who offered nothing but an exhortation for us all to pray (and in some cases, most notably that of Donald Trump, have suggested barring any further immigration by Muslims), and radical right religious bigots who, predictably, are venomous in their expressions of hatred toward all Muslims.

Those who express their hostility toward Islam – primarily right wing Christians – seem conveniently to forget that Christians’ behavior over time has often been as lacking in virtue as what we are seeing now. Just to name one example, the Inquisition wasn’t exactly a shining moment in the history of Catholicism. And are white supremacist Christians any more admirable than Islamic fundamentalist terrorists? Those filled with anti-Islamic hate tend to forget that most mass shootings and assassinations in the U.S. have been committed by white male Christians. I’m no Bible scholar, but it does seem that some have forgotten the injunction about not casting the first stone.

I’m not religious, and some would say that I therefore am not qualified to give those who are among the faithful any advice. Still, I would ask those of all faiths (and of none), to look deeply and honestly within themselves, to look at history, and to consider that those who committed the recent San Bernardino shootings constitute a lunatic fringe and not the larger body of Muslims in the U.S. who actually deserve tolerance and support in what has become a very painful time for them.

So, I’ll end by wishing happy holidays to all, and my hope for progress toward peace in the new year.

A Book Signing Disappointment

On Saturday, 11/21, I did a book signing at my local branch library. To say it was a disappointment would be an understatement. More like a minor disaster. But let me begin at the beginning.

The local library has for several years held a local authors fair, always in the fall. I’ve never been able to participate due to schedule conflicts but, this year, it looked like I’d be available. So, in July I paid my $20 registration fee and provided the requisite two copies of the book that they’d make available in the library, and sat back to wait for the November event.

Several weeks prior to the event, the library staff member who was responsible for organizing the event sent out by distribution e-mail advertising the event and listing the participating authors. My name was missing as, I later learned, was at least that of one other author. I e-mailed the staffer, who apologized but sent out no revised list. After a couple of weeks, I sent another e-mail but still saw no revised list. Finally, I sent a third e-mail, after which I learned that she had, in fact, made the correction but only on the library’s website. No distribution e-mail ever went out.

As the time for the event approached, no local publicity appeared, and on the day of the event there was no prominent signage at the library. Desk staff did not direct library visitors to the “Community Room” where the event was being held. In the room, itself, staff at first said that table assignments for the authors would be forthcoming. Then they said to sit wherever we wanted.

The signing was to begin at 10 AM. At that time, the only people there were the authors. Undaunted, the event organizer got up and gave a welcome speech addressed to the authors and to the attendees.

Over the three hours of the signing, there was minimal foot traffic – how could it have been otherwise with no publicity, no effective signage, and no attempts by staff to direct traffic to the room? I sold one book. Someone else sold three. Of the fifty participating authors, many sold none.

The event ended at 1 PM. No one from the library was present to thank the authors. We all just packed up and left.

And that, dear friends, is how not to run a book signing. I compare it to how a signing that I did at Vroman’s the big bookstore in Pasadena, ran a signing I attended. Well advertised. Four authors, not fifty. Each of us given time in front of an audience to speak and/or read from our book, followed by the four of us as a panel to answer questions. And then? Yes, the signing. Now, that’s how to do it.

As a self-published, little known author, it’s a tough enough row to hoe to get noticed. In this case my local library’s intentions were admirable, but the execution was execrable. Well, maybe next year…