Category Archives: Kindle Books

A Pinterest Guide to Dawn at Last – Part II

Now for the rest of the story – Dawn at Last . . . and she wants to be in pictures!

This post is a continuation of yesterday’s installment of one Pinterest picture for each of 26 chapters – the first 13 are in A Pinterest Guide to Dawn at Last.

Here’s chapters 14 through 26 . . . as always, I hope you enjoy the show . . . that’s all folks!

Chapter 14 – The Gathering of a Monkey, a Toad, and a Chicken

Chapter 14 - The Gathering of a Monkey, a Toad, and a Chicken

Chapter 15 – The Goddess Awakens?

Chapter 15 - The Goddess Awakens?

Chapter 16 – And So They Dance

Chapter 16 - And So They Dance  Pilar - Shadow Dancing

Chapter 17 – Pushing Buttons . . . and Talking it Over

Chapter 17 - Pushing Buttons . . . and Talking it Over  Said Alice.

Chapter 18 – On to the Frying Pan

Chapter 18 - On to the Frying Pan

Chapter 19 – A Late Lunch of Cognac and Pastrami

Chapter 19 - Today, Instead of Robin, I have Cognac and Pastrami

Chapter 20 – Look Out . . . Wet Flooring!

Chapter 20 - Look Out . . . Wet Flooring! -     "Some things only women can do" - Jackass - hahahah

Chapter 21 – 317 Browning Road . . . Revisited

Chapter 21 - 317 Browning Road . . . Revisited

Chapter 22 – The Painting

Chapter 22 - The Painting -  “Do not look for a sanctuary in anyone except yourself.”  Siddhartha Gautama

Chapter 23 – The Musketeers Get Defensive

Chapter 23 - The Musketeers Get Defensive

Chapter 24 – We Can Still Dance

Chapter 24 - We Can Still Dance

Chapter 25 – Sunni’s Happy Daze

Chapter 25 - Sunni's Happy Daze

Chapter 26 – Getting the Giggles

Chapter 26 - Getting the Giggles

There you have, and I’d love to hear your comments – have any favorites?

Going Where No Reader Cares to Go . . . in Cyberspace

This is a follow-up to my previous post, Reading, The Environment, though you don’t necessarily have to read it to understand this one.

A lot of what I wrote in that post is verified in a way by the following four articles I’ve found on this whole issue of ebooks, book publishing, reading and independent authorship.

Forbes Magazine – Excellent Article on Indie Books

The Verge – Ebook Self-Publishing

Publishers Weekly – Best Selling Ebooks of 2012

Huff Post (Canada Books) – Smashwords Owner’s Predictions for 2013

The pros and cons of self-publishing are really well described in these articles above. That need for filtering comes up time and again – essentially my list of Top 10 is my own attempt to do just that – here’s what I did.


First, I picked a popular category, such as “Literature & Fiction> Romance”. From there, I went where no man dares to go – below the Top 100 – into the depths – as deep as 1,500 titles under the See! I’d have searched further down, would have liked to see what #28,043 looked like, but I couldn’t. The system wouldn’t let me get past 1,500 which means that if there is a book I want to look at down there, I need to use the search function, so I’d need to know the name of it, or author or ISBN.

Selection Process

To begin, the main sort I use in any given category is “New & Popular”. Basically, when I go deeper I’m looking for less popular, yet good reads – kind of like panning for gold.

My selections are close to random. I ignore popular authors that are down the list, dead or alive, and there are a ton down there – people like Charles Dickens, Herman Hesse, Hemingway and many, many more. There also plenty of living writers down there, but with their older titles. This is kind of odd though, given that the sort is “New & Popular” – huh?

I also found one sub-genre kind of amusing. Did you know that on one site, if you look under “Literature & Fiction” you can find a sub-category called “Literary Fiction” – too funny!

For any given category I pick out around fifty books to look at. I don’t look at price, try to ignore covers and titles, but what I do look at is page counts. On the lower end, I don’t include any under 200 pages – to me that’s close to a novella. Almost all the titles are around 250 – 300 pages, and a few are closer to 400. I’ve also kept away from books that are part of a series, unless it’s the first book.

Looking Inside and Then Some

Once I’ve gotten this list together, I start previewing more than reviewing. This is really a two-step process, and one that typically results in about 80% being discarded. With the remaining 20% I go back and take a closer look, and from there the list gets whittled down to titles that I’d definitely consider buying based on what I’d read.

This is not the same as doing a book review, nor was it ever intended to be. There are a few real benefits as an indie author in doing this kind of exercise, at least for me. I’m fairly well read, really eclectic interests, and I don’t need to read a ton of classics to know whether my book is worth reading, or is “marketable”. After all, if the classics are the benchmark, there are tons of successful, well-written books that fail that test.

Final Selection Criteria

First is the “flow” test. Call it style if you will. If something is written this century or the last, I really don’t want to have to work at reading every second or third sentence. I’m pretty sure everyone reading this understands what I mean. By the way, if you are thinking grammar should be first, that stuff’s gone with the 80% – I’m past that stage.

The next thing is the boredom factor – Have I read this before in one form or another? I realize there may be all kinds of plot turns and twists down the road, but one does get a feel for this. Often it’s uninteresting characters or overly long, drawn out setting descriptions, or perhaps a tinge of melodrama, that makes something boring. It’s almost like many writers are simply trying too hard to grab your attention, and it has the opposite effect.

Third, there is the novelty aspect – it’s pretty easy to tell when a story is just going to get better – kind of like it’s worth buying just to see what actually does happen. I really avoid copycats. As an aside, I’m guessing that in some genres, a solid 10% or more are basically fifty shade knock-offs, and I haven’t even looked in any “erotica” categories . . . yet!


After all of that I had a list of 10 books that I’d say are worth reading as they are published. While I didn’t keep track of the ones that were “close”, I’d say there was about another ten – these are the ones who simply need a little editorial polishing – as stated in those articles at the top, there is a big demand and need for those editorial services.

As it turns out, I have a bit of egg on my face with my Top 10 list, but at the same time I also had one of those “ah ha” moments. The embarrassment came when I did one more final check for independence. I discovered that 7 of the 10 books I chose were actually published by a major publisher, in print first, so the authors are not indies. That means that in the end, after going through over 150 titles, I found 3 that I’d say are really good indie books, on par with the standard set by traditional publishers.

The “ah ha” aspect is that this kind of validated my process, and my skills, at picking out talent. By accidentally mixing indie authors with traditionally published ones, I inadvertently validated the results!


Realizing this is still a very crude process, based on the 3 of 150 titles I found, that means that perhaps 2% of indie titles really have market potential. What does 2% mean though? Well, first, how many indie titles are actually out there? Smashwords is definitely a major player in launching new indie works. They’re putting out almost 100,000 a year now, and cumulatively they are at about 250,000. Then there are other similar services, as well as number of indies who simply publish directly, with no intermediary.

It’s not easy to get a handle on that number. I’m sure there is a strange exaggeration out there about the total books available – the highest number I’ve come across is something 4,000,000 – I don’t think so!

My best estimate, and I think this may be on the high side, is perhaps there are 500,000 ebooks available, fiction only and by indies, and novels (say 70,000 + words). On the low side, using that criteria, it may be as low as 300,000. If my 2% estimate is in the ball park, that means that there are about 6,000 to 10,000 indie works out there with serious market potential – that’s where issues like discovery come into play.

To put that into perspective, as I found in one of those 4 articles mentioned at the top, the traditional publishers claimed that they had 1,000 titles that sold 25,000 or more copies in ebook format in 2012.

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions on that . . . this post is getting very long as it is. However, aside from the numbers, I’d also say that it seems like the overall quality of writing that many readers’ find acceptable has certainly gone down. I’m saying that because I looked at a couple of current bestsellers by indie authors and I know that neither of them would have made the first cut in my selection process – that makes the market somewhat unpredictable, certainly from the traditional point of view.

Finally, through all of this, one huge intangible benefit is the confidence I’ve gained about SUNNI KNOWS. I’ll put my book up against any indie standard, or one for published works, so for me it really is an issue of discovery.

If you’re a non-Kindle user, you can order my book on Kobo . . . then you can read it on your favorite e-reading device . . . have a great weekend!

little supergirl

Reading, the Environment

In my last blog I mentioned doing an assessment of the book environment – to call it an industry is a bit of a misnomer.

One of the challenges in strategic planning is defining an industry. In the 1960’s a guy named Ted Levitt wrote an article called “The Marketing Myopia”. It is now considered a classic in The Harvard Business Review. His article is what led to a bit of a paradigm shift – arguably, it is was instrumental in launching branding as we know it today – it definitely changed strategic marketing.

The key point he made is that a product shouldn’t be thought of as something physical, or just thought of as a set features. Depending on the product, these features are important, but in terms of understanding one’s competition (and one’s customers), you need to look at the intangibles – what are the benefits your customers are looking to have fulfilled? For a long time, identifying needs and benefits was how new product opportunities arose. However, that’s not as simple as it may sound.

To put that in the context of books, we’re really talking about the joys of reading. Think of it then as a form of entertainment –  and perhaps even broader in the context of leisure activities – in this context I’m really talking about fiction.

Without doing a formal numerical analysis, here’s what I see, and if I’m wrong, show me the numbers – just make sure they are accurate and valid. There’s a ton of questionable infographic material out there – very little background provided on how the information was obtained, sampling and so on – that kind of stuff really does matter!

How I See It

People are getting fed up with television as a source of entertainment (and information such as news) I’m sure sports is a constant – have you noticed how similar news coverage is to sports coverage? In the good old days a lot of television viewing was habitual, not so much any more. Younger people are becoming more selective, even though they can be very loyal to something they like. The content and credibility of the medium is not improving, and all the networks seem somewhat desperate. That may be partly do a faster, more instant society, where loyalties can be strong for a long time, then turn off in an instant.

Hollywood seems to be in the same boat as television, except perhaps for some genres. Although a lot of people still go to the movies, for many it is for something to do than for the film. More times than not, when I talk to people about this, about what they say, there is usually a tone of disappointment. Hollywood used to provide an element of escapism, but it seems that magic has gone . . . many people are rediscovering that magic through reading for enjoyment, whether that’s romance, YA, erotica, mysteries and so on. Perhaps what is saving Hollywood is that going to the movies is more of a social activity, while reading is done in isolation.

Social media has cut into television time, especially with younger people, but there seems to be a decline in that as well – the novelty is certainly over. The truth is that the term social is really misleading because no matter what the technology, it’s not the same as being there. In many ways it’s closer to a personal experience than a social one.

Reading offers a form of escape from so many stresses in the real world. This may be the age of information, but it is also a very unhealthy age of confusion – and that phenomenon is very strategic – that’s a topic all on its own.

A Little About Ebooks

I’m not sure that the e-book technology has increased the total time spent reading, even though it has changed the way people can find books, and created a certain amount of impulse buying. If there is a net increase in reading, then I’m sure it has more to do with the above shifts than ebook technology. The one caveat may be the impact of price – the lower prices certainly help increase the volume – maybe even having something to do with some people re-discovering the joy of reading. However, there comes a saturation point – there are limits to how much time a person will spend reading.

That issue of time is a big one, and part of that time concerns finding new books to read, and I do mean new, and not the discovery of older, and excellent, books. I’m not saying that every book published in paper is worth reading, but overall there is a pretty good standard that is lacking in the self-publishing craze. I would go so far to say that the supply far exceeds the demand.

That comment isn’t made because of the sheer volume – there is so much self-published work out there that I wouldn’t read even if it’s free. I’m doing some formal research now, and I can safely say that in my findings, and this is just based on my personal reading opinion, at least 80% of what I’ve researched isn’t worth a second look. While that may be based on my opinion, I can pretty much guarantee that most traditional publishers would say that number is low.

Out of the remaining 20%, about half of that has some serious potential with some editorial help and a little re-working – that’s a lot of books! It’s almost painful to read some of this material, in the sense that I’m sitting here thinking, “Oh, you are so close to making this a good read!”

Where Am I Going With All of This?

This is far from a formal research report, but then I have no intent of publishing everything on this blog – each paragraph above could easily be a chapter in a book. Having said that, it will soon be time to move on to another platform, and I will no longer be giving away all my work . . . my expertise . . . I can’t afford to do that. I know it has value, and at the very least I will be asking for donations for some of it.

My next post will talk about the specifics of where I’m going with this – it will include a list of ten hard-to-find ebooks (fiction) that to me are worth a second look, perhaps even a few hidden gems – it only took 25 hours of searching and researching . . . over 150 titles examined . . . none of which are from known authors. Hopefully you can see that I can’t provide that kind of service for free. Actually, I could if this was simply a hobby or if I was rich, but neither is the case.

Having said that, there is a big need to be filled, for readers and indie authors as well, and believe me, from a business point-of-view, the last thing the print part of the industry wants is for readers to easily find those gems, at least not before they do! That does not mean that I see traditional publishers as the enemy of self-publishers; it is more that self-publishing is a potentially huge threat to upsetting the Apple cart.

A Final Note on Paper

Finally, I’m like a great number of people that still prefer a printed book for reading. By the way, I used to work with the big printers, the ones that print major magazines and newspapers. That’s when I was busy doing press checks, printing catalogs on the big machines – 30,000 sheets an hour, 32 pages to a sheet – I wasn’t thinking of the environment that matters most – the trees – paper is the biggest input cost. By the time I left that career behind, paper recycling was an issue, but the bigger environmental issue was with the inks. I guess I just assumed re-forestation was balancing things out. Apparently it’s not, nor is it covered in the sports . . . ooops, I mean the news.

Here is what I mean by the bigger issue:

Global Forestation and Deforestation

PS – I just came upon a memory from my McGill days, when I was studying strategic planning as one of two majors. Myself and a few classmates were having drinks with some of our profs one day. One of these was my accounting prof. This is back in 1984, when the personal computer was just coming out. Accounting went hand-in-hand with computing, and the MIS guy was talking about the concept of a paperless office. I remember how odd it was – the discussion with the accounting guy – turns out he was very shrewd. He was telling us about how he had invested in a paper brokerage firm, how he saw a big future in that because of computers!

PPS – In case you missed it the first time, that darling Supergirl up top is surrounded by trees!

Top 10 Reasons To Work From Home

This title isn’t quite complete – it should also include something about working solo, so in this context, here goes!

  1. On birthdays, at the surprise office party, I get all the corners, and now the cake only has 4 pieces!
  2. Some of those telemarketers can be really sweet, my bff for a few minutes, especially if she can manage to turn off that “Your call may be monitored…” function – still wondering when my quality will be good enough not to require the control purposes.
  3. When it comes to softball, now I’m always at bat!
  4. Over time, you learn that overtime is actually two words.
  5. Ellen can actually be pretty cool . . . over time she’s taught me to dance!
  6. You learn that staff meetings are something you can do in bed.
  7. Eventually you need to call an exterminator to find all the post-it notes.
  8. You no longer have time for two hours of minesweeper every day.
  9. You can give the cleaning staff the day off, and sometimes, if you’re really nice, it’s okay to make that two or three!
  10. Dreaming – day or night – goes uninterrupted and turns into an amazing novel or some fine art!
  11. Going out for pizza becomes an adventure . . . enjoy this video, it’s hilarious:

The Pizza Adventure!

Finally, if you’d like to add to my list, feel free to comment . . . love to hear from you!

Catalog Writing, and then a Book

If you’re familiar with my blog at all, you’ve probably figured out that I enjoy the now-old TV show, Seinfeld.

One of my favorite characters is Mr. Peterman, mostly because when the show was in its heyday, one of main job duties was writing catalog copy for the gardening catalogs I was running – yeah, there were a few “Elaines” around!

Contrary to what the video might suggest, when you write for a catalog, or for advertising, you really are forced to write concisely, yet effectively. The legends (gurus?) of advertising used to claim that all writers should have a stint in advertising. If you think that’s pompous or silly, here’s three writers who spent some time in advertising as copywriters:

Salman Rushdie

Helen Gurley Brown

F. Scott Fitzgerald

I could say more, but then I might be accused of being a windbag . . . should we just keep it at pompous? Honestly though, since I’ve never been to Africa, I’d really like to tell you some of my hockey stories . . . they’re funny. Ha, there’s even a little of that in Dawn at Last!

Salman Rushdie on Seinfeld

Chickens, bravery and bagpipes . . . not the Scottish ones

I had no idea there are so many kinds of bagpipes . . . pretty much one for every European nation, and even a Chinese version . . . the ones in the music of this video are Romanian.

I picked this video for a few reasons. One is that the pictures remind very much of some of the pictures of some of my now-deceased family – my grandparents – they really worked the land. Their stories are heartwarming, funny, inspiring, sometimes so very sad, and sometimes maddening.

They were not gypsies, except perhaps on the occasional Saturday night! I don’t know if the people in this picture were gypsies either – when is a group of gypsies no longer gypsies?

The other reason I chose this clip is because it also reminds me of a brief mention of a wonderfully humorous gypsy folk tale. I mention it in my novel, and no matter how I classify it, the story is about love – both mine and the gypsy tale!

I’ll only mention how the tale begins. Apparently there was a young man who was completely smitten by a certain gypsy girl, but she taunted him terribly. The story is all about his laughable quests to gain her favor, and the first of these is to fetch her a chicken, but not just any chicken!

And so it goes . . . I really can’t tell you more than that here . . . the games we play for love!

I’m kind of surprised that even today there are those who are wary of gypsies, though I apologize here because the term has as many variations as the bagpipes – probably many more!

All I can say is where would Cirque du Soleil be without them first? And even in this video, there must be something of love? I hope so . . . .

Thank you for risking so much!

A little music, a little picture, and the “Blurb” . . .

If I could put the some of the tone of it to music, it would be as in the above video.

I feel like I’ve accomplished something with this book – lots of mystery and intrigue, yet funny and heartwarming, characters you come to love even though they can sometimes be insufferable, and something about love – with honey, not syrup, and believable.

Book – Dawn at Last – Why it’s not Free . . . Yet

Before I can give my book away on Amazon – and I can only do that for a few days – I’d really like to get a “critical mass” of people who like to read on Kindle – get my book out there for free for awhile – it really is a nice read.

Also, I’ve rewritten the “blurb” – this is such a hard thing to write! I’m still waiting for Amazon to update the new one, so here’s what it says:


New Blurb – Don’t be fooled by the Title!

Titles can be deceiving and no one knows this better than Donna Belauche. She is the envy of every woman she knows and adored by her eight male clients and two partners . . . or is it seven and three?

With her natural beauty, education and “special” training – and with her ability to charm on a dime – she has it all, but only according to others. She prides herself in playing the game of love, winning by acting and remaining unattainable . . . but in control.

Then her plans become unravelled in sleepy Victoria, a deception of its own . . . her secrets are only a pale part of the bigger picture. As events unfold beyond her control, what was once all so predictable becomes a battle with the past, a duel with deception, including the intrusion of a few simple tulips . . . will she learn to dance or will they cripple her forever?

“Then the strangest thing happened . . . Karen covered her naked body with Andrea’s robe, put her hair up and then put on that chauffeur’s hat . . . she told me to sit down again and just wait there for a minute. Then she went over to this platter. It had three tulips on it, but she only left one on the platter and put the lid back on. Then she disappeared with this platter – after all this – such a fuss over a single tulip?”

After 300 pages you will have the answers.


From my "Playful & Cheery" collection - which goes nicely with my novel, "Dancing With Tulips"

From one of my art collections – which goes nicely with my novel, “Dawn at Last”


So there you have it. Now to get that free copy – when its available – the best way is to follow me on twitter @ljgrodecki.

I’m hoping/ planning to do this launch two weeks from now – May 17th – depending on how much interest there is . . . and if you’re wondering why there is an error message up in the top right, under “Tweeter in Person”, that’s probably because as of this typing, I’m still a tweet virgin . . . I haven’t tweeted anyone yet . . . I’m so nervous as to who will be the first! 🙂