Weighed in the Scales

The first week of the month I spend a fair amount of time toting up the previous month’s sales, especially for new releases. I want to know how Miss Dauntless‘s first month compares with Miss Delectable‘s (not as well, but a first in series title generally will lead the pack) and Miss Desirable‘s (a little better, oddly enough), particularly from retail platform to retail platform.

As rabbit holes go, sales tracking can become a whole job, especially when you have a lot of books published. Is any particular month best for new releases? Should books in a series be released three months apart? Four? Two? All at once? How do library sales affect retail sales? What is going on with my revenue?

And all of this glorious information has to be sifted against what genre I’m publishing, who else is releasing what else in various months, and what price points are in play. And let’s not forget about the alchemy of cover art!

As Peter Drucker famously said, “What gets measured gets managed.”

A lot of writers take it a step further, charting their word count totals day by day and even using little apps and extension to help them do that. We like to know how many books we’ve sold in total, in all languages (I have no idea), and where we rank on various bestsellers lists from book to book, if we’re lucky enough to hit those lists (and what month is the best for trying to hit a list, anyway?).

I find this emphasis on puts and takes a little ironic for a profession that knows, intimately, the futility of defining success exclusively through linear, measurable processes. Was Miss Delectable “more creative?” than Miss Desirable? You can’t measure that. Did Miss Devoted have more satisfying prose than the Last True Gentleman? You can’t measure that either. Was that two- thousand word scene I just whipped out in an hour any better storytelling than the six hundred words that took me all of yesterday afternoon?

I can’t measure that, and what I think is brilliant in draft tends look much less impressive come revision time.

Which book did I enjoy writing more? Why? What makes some books so hard to write? Others so easy? I will never forget the sheer ebullience with which I wrote The Duke’s Disaster. I drafted that story in 40 days flat and it was one of the easiest writing tasks I’ve ever completed… and I’m not sure why. What a Lady Needs for Christmas was another “book that wrote itself” though it’s not really even a Christmas story.

As we approach the end of the year, with tax season right around the corner, I want to resist the temptation to get lost in the numbers, and instead focus more on what cannot be measured. Am I happy with the books I’m writing? What does my creativity crave in the way of challenges and inspiration? What does my perfect writing “rest and recharge” day look like? What does that tell me about how to manage my imaginative resources?

Lady Violet Says I Do by Grace BurrowesThe numbers are important–up to a point–but things I cannot measure are important too. If I’m to keep writing joyously and consistently, the un-measurables–what piques my curiosity, what frosts my cookie, what makes me want to write scene after scene– are the critical aspects of what I do.

What do you measure? What non-measurable qualities are as important to you as the numbers? I will send out my Lady Violet Says I Do ARCs this week (if you want one, just email me and let me know what device you read on), and the print version is already on sale. Wheeee!

 

Dear Me

One of the tasks in the Great Preparation for my sister’s post-Christmas visit is to procure a guest bed that doesn’t date from before the flood. To the mattress emporium I did go, and a serviceable new bed I did get, but an aspect of the transaction has bothered me ever since.

I picked out the only suitable bed in the store, and sat down to write the exorbitant check, and the floor rep says to me, “I don’t accept checks. That ten or twelve day float creates too much opportunity for fraud, and that’s a risk I can’t take. I have two little kids and a wife who doesn’t work.”

He put it like that, as if maybe even the children are slacking. I did not explain to him that staying home to raise two kids is work, and I did not foghorn that check truncation means a ten or twelve day float is an artifact from the last century… You can take the lawyer out of the courtroom, but.

I paid up with my debit card, and left, and here’s hoping the bed I bought isn’t so horrible that I’m going to wish I’d written a check I could stop… What bothered me most about the whole encounter (besides paying that much for a cheesy bed), is that this man called me “dear,” repeatedly, despite having my complete, legal name staring him in the face.

“You know what I’m sayin’ dear?”

“Thanksgiving will be with family for me, and trust me, hon,  I’m not much of a family man…”

“You have a nice day, dear.”

His use of endearments in the course of a business transaction annoyed the living peedywaddles out of me, and I didn’t ask him to stop, which annoys me even more. Part of me thinks I should have splainy-splained to him that some women find the casual use of endearments from strangers uncomfortable or even offensive.

I don’t like it from anybody, but especially not from men, and this guy was not the Ancient of Days such that the fig leaves of yester-century can be plausibly handed to him.

Yes, I felt sorry for him. I don’t believe too many of us aspire to support a family of four on a mattress floor rep’s salary. I apparently didn’t feel sorry enough for him that I’d  tell him his presumptive use of endearments means I will sleep in the hay mow before I go back to that store. And so what if he doesn’t like hearing about my uppity-female-sensitivities, because I’m also peeved at him.

The argument that, “He didn’t mean anything by it….” is no argument at all, in the sense that his intentions are not more important than my perceptions (neither are they less important). He was on the job, taking money from me for goods, and I regard his behavior as unprofessional and backward. So why didn’t I raise the topic with him?

Lady Violet Says I Do by Grace BurrowesI have lost sleep over this (not a lot, and not in the hay mow… yet). Why not speak up? Not to educate him, not to improve the likelihood that he’ll make more sales going forward, but simply because he was addressing me in a manner I dislike. What seat-of-pants assessment did I make that mitigated in favor of silence?

What would you have done? Because if this happens again, I want to be prepared with a proactive strategy other than second-guessing myself and muttering about it for a week.

This week I’ll be taking names for the e-ARC of Lady Violet Says I Do, which will be released in print and on the web store on Dec. 13, and on the retail sites Jan. 3. Where has this year gone!

 

 

 

Being a Reader

I love the the long dark evenings that arrive with the colder months. Between holidays that I pretty much ignore, bad weather, and chilly temperatures, I have a lot of time to stay home and read.

I often keep several books going at once. I am reading one Regency romance now with an eye toward doing a blurb for the author. I’m also reading The Dip, by Seth Godin, subtitled, “A little book that teaches you when to quit and when to stick.” That one’s kinda off topic for me to be honest–a bathroom book. For nighty-night reading, I’m working my way through Ellis Peters’ Felse Investigations series. Scrumptious writing, meticulous research, and good plotting. Yum!

But if I had to pick one title to do a book report on, that would be Being a Human by Charles A. Foster.

The fundamental question of the book–Who are we and how did we get to be this way?–inspired Foster to live as a Cro-Magnon hunter/gatherer and then as a Neolithic farmer. The better to describe the impact of the Enlightenment on human development, he relied on his experience as an academic with fingers in so many smarty-pants pies I’d need another blog post to list them.

The book is sad in a lot of places–we’re befouling our own nest and have the dubious distinction of being the only animal that goes to war against its own kind. Nonetheless, the fundamental message is optimistic: If we’ll remember who we are, we can step back from much of our wrongheadedness, and live happier lives without imperiling our very planet.

As hunter-gatherers, our challenge was to get by with the fewest possessions necessary to eat, sleep out of the cold and wet (mostly), and get along with our neighbors. When you have to haul your worldly goods from place to place as the caribou move or the seasons change, your life can depend on traveling light. For nearly all of our behaviorally modern history, dying with the most toys was the definition of insanity.

When you reply on the natural world directly for everything, your quality of life depends on the breadth of your skill set. To thrive, you will need to know how to find dry tinder under a foot of snow, how to tell a great story, how to make a bunny into a boot, and what every cloud formation presages in terms of tomorrow’s weather. Honed senses and lifelong learning were our hallmarks of success, and any chance to acquire a new skill was worth investigating. Heaven help the hunter gatherer who decided to go for him MBA and then coast…

When you don’t own real estate, real estate doesn’t own you. The whole concept of private real property, upon which mono-crop agriculture, colonization, social hierarchy, kingdoms,  and a zillion other evils are built, was foreign to our nature for the huge majority of our history.

When the small band you’re born into is all that stands between you and death on a bad day, you take the well being of your kith and kin nearly as seriously as you do your own.

Foster is not suggesting that eight billion people can inhabit the planet in the same manner eight hundred thousand of our distant ancestors did, but he does make a case for a legacy of values that are highly relevant today. Eschew consumerism, stay passionately curious, treasure your people, treasure and respect nature for the miracle it is.

Those values resonate with me–admittedly often in the breach–and Foster makes an eloquent case for why they should.

So what about you? Read any good books lately?

 

 

The Friendlier Skies

I recently traveled from Maryland to Portland, OR, to see my daughter. This was my first big trip (though not a long trip) since 2019. I was prepared for traveling skills to have atrophied–traveling skills too— but to my pleasant surprise, I did OK.

Packed enough but not too much, and brought the right stuff for Portland’s weather. I remembered all the necessary medications, power cords, and toiletries. Got through airport everything without setting off alarms or being paged to return to my vehicle. Had the right stuff–parking chit, rental car contract, driver’s license, hotel room key–at the right time, even though my computer died the morning of departure (and has subsequently self-revived… go fig).

So I’m pretty pleased with that aspect of the adventure. Even better, I got to see Beloved Offspring, meet her Sig O, meet her pony (she called him my grand-pony. I maintained a diplomatic silence), and had some Good Talks ‘Bout Family Stuff. Nobody knows me the way my daughter does. Nobody extant has lived with me as long as she has. I delight in her company.

And–be still my thumpin’ tail–as an unlooked for joy, my younger brother just happened to be driving clear across Oregon to see the state-wide high school cross country meet, and we managed to connect for lunch. That was so special I could just about do nip-ups.

What wasn’t so special was the actual air travel. My reading light did not work (in business class, because all those old unused miles…). The guy next to me could not get his seat back to remain upright. The wi-fi on the plane coming home was “intermittent,” meaning worthless. The food was ridiculous. The plane had no seat-back screens. Everything was “download the app,” and I consider most apps to be commercial spyware, so nopity-nope. The PA system for the pilots broadcast mostly static.

Three years ago, I would probably have been annoyed, or filled out some survey with a lot of cranky comments (writers gonna write), or said something to the flight crew. Now? I am just so happy the planes are flying, so happy I could see my kid, so happy the hotel was open and the sheets were clean… My standards have come down and my joy has gone up. I tipped like a boss, thanked everybody at the airports, hotel, and restaurants, and still just want to hug the world because I got to see my daughter, and I’m home safe and sound.

My joy has gone up , and so has my hope. Maybe I can pop out to Portland again next spring and stay for more than a couple days. Then too, it takes me no longer to fly to Scotland than it does to fly to Oregon…

I don’t like traveling in a plane that’s getting rickety in the details, but I’m no longer concerned with amenities when the main priority–safe travel–is attended to. I took for granted that I could always just hop in a plane and go see family, and I will never take that for granted again.

What aren’t you taking for granted these days? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of Yuletide Gems!

 

Middle Life

I blogged last week about the situation at the horse barn, wherein a critical player–our Barn Manager–is laid up, leaving a lot of work to be temporarily covered by those willing, able, and available. The result has been more time for me at the barn where I’m not riding. I’m mucking, hand-grazing, sweeping, and odd-jobbing. I’m slow at all the manual labor, but one reason to go there is to break a sweat, and any sweat will do.

I’ve always known though, that part of the appeal of riding for me has been its social aspects. Horses are a lifestyle choice, and though my barn acquaintances might be on vastly different political wavelengths, come from faith traditions I’ve never experienced, and work at jobs I can’t wrap my head around, we all get horses. At this barn at least, there’s also a shared value that the welfare of the horse comes first.

Because pandemic limitations are easing, and because we’ve all been on the ground at the barn a little more, I’ve been able to regain a smidgen of the social aspect of riding lately. I’ve gone trail-riding with one lady I know only in passing, had a good talk with another one about our riding histories, and visited briefly with another about our tastes in travel.

As introverted as I am, I need these casual, middling-close relationships, and I’m really glad to see them re-emerging from hibernation in my life. I tell myself that being unable to travel has been a challenge to my creativity, but being unable to shoot the breeze at the barn, unable to gush over somebody’s grand-baby pictures, and unable to hold a friendly exchange with  stranger in the produce section has, I am sure, also taken a toll.

Research tells us that it’s acquaintances, not friends and family, who are more likely to put us onto new jobs, introduce us to our new bestie, help us rethink problematic beliefs, and expose us to new information and perspectives. I have wondered if our political polarization wasn’t made worse because for two years, we were less inclined to chat up the stranger on the subway or even visit with the new neighbor over the back fence. Many of us also didn’t have to go to the office where we overheard small talk in the lunch room, or debated sports loyalties while waiting for a meeting to start.

I am not yet ready to book a month in Scotland, but I am very pleased to have livelier interaction with a broader circle of acquaintances. What about you? Did you miss the chit-chat and office gossip, or would you just as soon keep the social clutter to a minimum? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of Yuletide Gems (which for some reason, I keep typing Yuletide Germs).

 

 

 

Stone Soup for the Barn

Today I hand-grazed a mare I’ve “known” for four years, in the sense that I walked past her stall and knew the big bay event horse (meaning she can run, jump, and do dressage) was Sallie. I’d never ridden her, never groomed her, never even watched her go under saddle. I’m at the barn mid-day, and her workouts were morning or evening. She’s on a short end-of-season layup due to minor veterinary issues, so that means stall rest.

When you’re born and bred to run, stall rest gets old fast, so periodic walk-around-and-nom-nom breaks are a good idea. Sally and I enjoyed a recess in the fresh air today in part because our barn manager took a tumble from her horse last week through no fault of anybody. Fortunately, Barn Manager did everything right–all the right safety equipment, all the right precautions–and everybody will be fine. For the present though, Barn Manager is also on stall rest (well sorta).

The barn owners (our trainers) also did everything right. Communication with the barn family was immediate and clear. Everybody knew what happened, and everybody was invited to pitch in as we could or to just bear with the circumstances as graciously as possible. One lady volunteered to take on dumping, scrubbing, and refilling twenty water buckets daily, another will help feed morning or evening (every horse gets a slightly different PBJ, based on age, work load, temperament, metabolism and owner preferences).

Another boarder will help out cleaning stalls (that show must go on), and other riders are picking up odd jobs–like hand-grazing Sallie. The work in a well run horse barn is endless, and much of it requires some specific knowledge. There’s even art to mucking a stall.

The upside here is that so far, it’s all going pretty well. A previously latent (OK, somewhat latent) well of goodwill and esprit is covering the bases, and it occurs to me that part of the hell of the pandemic was that we couldn’t pull together. We could institute family movie night or sister-Zooms, but we could not all show up with snow shovels to clear out the church parking lot, couldn’t get together to edge a set of baby quilts for the new parents.

It shouldn’t take me four years to get to know a horse who lives two stalls down from Santa, but a chunk of that particular four years was spent in head-down, mask-on mode. Now I have a connection to Sallie I didn’t have before, and her rider texted me a thank-you. We’ve never texted before. Earlier this week I mucked stalls with another barn-buddy I don’t spend much time with, which was an occasion for small talk. We’re all paying a little more attention to the barn’s Facebook group page, because we want to stay informed about Barn Manager’s progress and who’s doing which job this week.

Hardship can be opportunity, but that nasty old pandemic… it was and is a stinker of a challenge because of how many ways it isolated us. I’m glad that for now at least, my barn is back to a place where we can weather a challenge together-together instead of together-apart.

Are you experiencing any instances of renewed community activity or community spirit,  (or even family spirit) that the pandemic curtailed? I’m donating to the Maryland Food Bank this week, because we can’t all sustain good health eating clover and orchard grass.

 

Comfort Ye My People

I am indebted to Austin Kleon for the term “comfort work.” By this he refers to what some people call slack-day projects, but with a little more depth. He describes comfort work as, “Work you do when you don’t know what to do.” That’s how I feel when I finish the first draft of a manuscript. I’m a little lost. What now? Who now? Where did my characters go and what do I focus on without them?

I cannot start revisions immediately, because a rough draft needs to air off for a time so that when I do get back to it, I read with fresh eyes. I might not have the energy to dive into the next project, or I might not have the inspiration. That is scary–when the imaginative well feels dry, when everything I come up with feels flat.

That’s when I need comfort work, or a way to feel productive that isn’t emotionally taxing. A way to signal to the subconscious that I’ll be ready when the inspiration does come along.

A comfort project is more than just coding the general ledger or toting up payroll. Those tasks must be done regularly, and they feel more like housework. Do it or pay an escalating price. Looking for fresh cover art qualifies as comfort work. Stockpiling blog posts can feel like comfort work. Gardening at certain times of year is comfort work.

I recall the same idea from my law practice days. I’d finish with a multiple day termination of parental rights case, and the next day in the office, I’d re-organize the case file, read psych evals for upcoming cases, or return backlogged phone calls. I did not schedule client appointments, and I often did not wear courtroom attire. I was clearly at work, but without the intensity or pressure of the litigation days.

I think relationships benefit from comfort work. To me, that’s when you agree to go for a leaf-peeping hike to sorta spend time together, and sorta get some exercise, even if a trail walk isn’t anybody’s idea of high adventure. It’s when Santa and I do trot sets around the paddocks instead of in the schooling arena. We’re working, but we’re also getting in a little sightseeing and avoiding other riders.

I read a lot about how to stay productive, and where creativity comes from, but Austin–“a writer who draws”–is the first person I’ve seen put a finger on this concept of coasting forward rather than going all engines ahead. It resonates with me intuitively as a way to both progress toward desired objectives, and acknowledge that some days are better spent in a different, lower gear.

Is there comfort work in your life? Tasks you save for the lower-energy, slower-vibe days?  Or do you lean more toward, “Go big or go home?” To one commenter, I’ll send a SIGNED copy of Yuletide Wishes (Pee Wee not included)!

A Tale of Two Geniuses

I am much interested in the topic of innovation. Where do original ideas come from? What sort of people excel at breaking ground? Are there ways to increase my creativity, because I never, ever want to hear from my readers that I’m writing the same book over and over.

To this end, I recently read a biography of Nicola Tesla (1856-1943),  Wizard, by Marc Siefer, and now I’m onto a sort of extended meditation on Leonardo da Vinci, Becoming Leonardo by Mike Lankford.  Though there are highly credentialed art historians in my family, I did not know much about Leonardo (1452-1519). We think of him as Italian, an exponent of sophisticated Medici Florence, the kind of erudite person who deserved the title Renaissance Man.

Well, maybe. He was illegitimate, half-Turkish (his mother was a Turkish slave and he looked after her in later life) and the next thing to illiterate compared to the learned minds of the day. He was gay and famously left-handed at a time when left-handed priests were forbidden to baptize babies.

What I find most interesting about Leonardo is his absolutely self-directed sense of what to work on when. He became infamous for unfulfilled commissions, and he was often skint because he could not deliver a work of art when promised (or ever). He worked for eleven years on a statue of a bronze horse for the Duke of Milan, until the duke gave up and sold the 60 tons of bronze to be made into cannon.

The Last Supper was a rush job, in that Leo was messing around with how to get the malleability of oil paint from a medium that had to also work with the drying-plaster aspect of a fresco. He never did get it right, and The Last Supper began flaking off the wall almost the day he finished it.

He gave up a lot. On commissions, especially, and he also tried and tried again a lot with ideas that interested him but paid nothing. We have the Mona Lisa (which he painted for his own pleasure), and all those marvelous notebooks to show for his fiddling.

I contrast him with Nicola Tesla, who invented and made practical the alternating current electrical system that modern civilization runs on. He also developed radio (wireless) communication and was determined to build a radio tower large enough send radio signals anywhere in the world.

J. Pierpont Morgan (as in JP Morgan Chase) had spotted Tesla some R&D money in exchange for a controlling interest in some of Tesla’s newer patents. Instead of using the money to turn old JP a quick buck with say, florescent light bulbs (Tesla invented those too), Tesla poured the funding and his time into his Wardenclyffe radio tower. JP was pissed enough to hold the patents hostage forever. Meanwhile, Guglielmo Marconi, using tech he’d pirated from Tesla, got the credit (and the Nobel prize) for his contributions in “developing” wireless telegraphy aka radio.

Tesla’s devotion to his worldwide radio tower cost him his biggest backer, hobbled potential revenue streams, and got him a reputation for untrustworthiness. The Supreme Court eventually found in Tesla’s favor regarding Marconi’s tech piracy, but by then, Tesla had died (broke) and the great tower had long since been sold for scrap.

Leonardo sometimes quit and sometimes persisted, often making the wrong choice from a financial standpoint.  Tesla persisted on a project he couldn’t find funding for at enormous cost to his reputation and financial security. That leaves me with a question: When should I give up? On a project, on a relationship, on a goal. When do you quit?

Special give-away this week! Author Susanna Ives has generously donated three e-ARCs of her upcoming release Amends. Let me know your thoughts on persistence and quitting!

Amends by Susanna Ives

Amazon      Kobo    Apple Books     Barnes & Noble

Trapped in a wretched slum, Sarah Ward feels powerless to keep her son away from a charismatic crime lord, whom she believes is responsible for her husband’s death. A lost letter offers her a chance to flee to her rural childhood home, away from the pounding factories and soot-filled skies. Yet escape means seeing Markham Litton again, her first love and the man who shattered her heart. She had been too infatuated to understand that he would never tarnish his wealthy family’s honor by marrying a lowly stone mason’s daughter. He had cast her aside, never learning about their child growing in her belly.

Consumed by the loss of his eldest child, widowed Markham struggles to be a good father to his remaining son. The only solace he finds is drifting in the memories of Sarah. In the late hours, he revisits the tender parts of their romance, like her gentle kisses, but not the tears she cried when he left her.

When old lovers reunite, Markham has a chance to show her that he’s changed. He can finally admit the feelings he had kept hidden for so long and try to heal old wounds. But Sarah has changed too. She isn’t the trusting, naïve young woman she once was. She knows from painful experience that some wounds can never be healed, and some secrets must never be told, especially ones that could rip her small family apart.

Leave a comment for a chance to receive an advanced e-reader copy, or order Amends (releases Nov. 8) at the links below.

Amazon      Kobo    Apple Books     Barnes & Noble

 

 

 

Show Me the Money

My theory of wealth is that if you die with too much coin of the realm, you’re doing something wrong. Sure you want your heirs to have some security, and there’s no predicting whether retirement assets will have to last four years or forty (my dad was retired longer than he was employed, much to his dismay), but to excessively hoard wealth just doesn’t make sense to me.

That money ought to be working for the betterment of the species or the planet, not sitting around waiting for me to decide I need fifth home.

I’m similarly uncomfortable with profligate spending or compulsive consumerism–we have only the one planet–so I do ponder whether I’m spending my money well. Because the past few years haven’t lent themselves to travel, I’ve turned instead to fixing up the homestead. Painted the house, rebuilt the larger porch, called the junk haulers, hired professional landscapers to hit reset on the flower beds that have grown seedy in recent years… I like the results, all of which I lacked the skill to bring about myself.

I live here, and the appearance of my dwelling impacts my well being. Then too, that money went into the local economy, and helped preserve a house that somebody else will live in some day.

I’ve spent way too much money poorly–on clothes I haven’t worn, on a house that wasn’t properly inspected prior to purchase, and fad health care supplements each of which was supposed to be a magic bullet (anybody remember raspberry ketones?).  Live and learn, do better next time, Grace.

My favorite money is the money I earn from my web store, because that’s a transaction strictly between me and my readers. I’m not scraping their privacy, they aren’t getting a “license to visit the file in the cloud.” They get an ebook file to keep, lend, send, or archive. My favorite investment was $1500 I spent on my daughter’s first horse–the cheapest equine I’ve ever purchased. (And yes, I know purchasing any equine puts me clearly in the multiply-privileged category!)

Pasha (AM Appomattox) was 25 when he came to us, way over the hill in horse terms, and at least one ridin’ buddy told me I was nuts to buy such a geezer. But Pasha was spry, handsome, whip-smart, and without vices. He took my daughter to her first big shows, over her first fences, and to her first awards ceremonies. He died peacefully in our backyard at the age of 31, and I have never, ever gotten so much in return for a mere $1500.

My travel funds have been money well spent, that AC window unit I bought for my bedroom was money well spent, and the little old used Prius I bought five years ago was money very well spent.

As Amazon is cranking up for yet another Prime Day, and the holiday shopping season looms, what do you consider money well spent? Do you have any favorite money or favorite investments?

If you want an ARC of Miss Dauntless and did not get one this week (I’m working my way through previous commenter lists), please send me an email at [email protected]

Pumpkin Spice Quiet

I love autumn for many reasons. I’m not constitutionally suited to summer’s heat, I don’t sleep as well on hot nights, and I HATE summer’s abundance of bugs. I also think that my circadian rhythm works best in spring and fall, when light and darkness are more evenly balanced. Sunshine pouring in the windows fifteen hours a day is too much for me, even though I do like a bright summer morning or a mellow summer evening.

The best part of autumn for me though, is the quiet. My dear neighbors cease their incessant use of lawnmowers, weed whackers, blowers, trimmers, and buzz saws (power tools, all, of course). These good fellows (I’m surrounded by aging bachelors) rotate, such that Friday evening, Saturday morning, and Sunday morning, somebody is  always mowing grass, all summer long, and those guys do like big, loud equipment.

I avoid using AC, especially during daylight hours, so my windows are open in summer, and that means more noise from traffic going by the house. There is a literal bull pen across the lane, and summer seems to be the time for Ferdinand and his roomie to serenade the waxing moon (or something). All those endearing young men in their flatulent pickup trucks go roaring by in summer, and on hot days even my box fans create quite a racket.

But now… all is peaceful. The loudest thing the bulls next door do is munch grass. I hear an occasional owl hoot after dark, but even that is a soft sound. Without the fans roaring, I can sit in my typing chair and hear a cat purring on the table beside me. Getting up at 7 am doesn’t feel like half the morning has passed me by, and going to bed at 10:30 feels just about right.

We sing carols in winter, and the birdies offer their arias in spring. Summer is for marching band parades, fireworks, boomboxes, and street rods… just not my soundscape at all. Autumn is for peace and quiet, and even without the pumpkin spice everything, cooler temperatures, and shorter days, I will always favor quiet over noise.

Is there a soundtrack to your seasons? A seasonal soundtrack you prefer? Or maybe autumn is noisy for you?  I’m sending out my ARCs for Miss Dauntless this week. If you don’t get one, and want one, just email me at [email protected]

PS: The audio version of Lady Violet Finds a Bridegroom is now available!