Is Goodreads’ Author Page A Minestrone?

This post’s title comes from a song released in 1975 by 10cc that claims, “Life is a minestrone served up with parmesan cheese.” I was 18 at the time and the song summed up my life very well. I had a profound sense of humor (if I do say so myself). Then I went off like a happy Don Quixote to fight windmills. I’ve not been the same since.

Fast-forward to my 65th year to be alive and my continuing adventures of self-publishing my books. Like Rocky and Bullwinkle looking for treasure, whether hidden in a jet fuel formula, buried somewhere in Frostbite Falls, or of the Monte Zoom kind, I’ve had my own Boris and Natasha impeding my way, disguised as helpful hosts along the Internet highway.

One of those impediments has been Goodreads’ author program. I was using their program since 2008 to keep track of my books, so after Amazon bought them out in 2013, they invited me to be a listed author there. It sounded like a “fun” thing to do. It wasn’t. You can read about a kerfuffle I had with them in 2014 at One Little Period Screwed the Pooch. That was when I published my books as Steven L Campbell and wanted my author’s name listed as such. They said no, it was their way or the highway. I chose the latter, but not because of the name situation. It was the rude comments from one of their librarians that led me to remove my books at their site and to stop publishing my books at Amazon.

However, time heals all wounds, so I returned to publishing at Amazon 2 years ago and made a new author page at Goodreads, this time as Steve Campbell. Right away, the folks (librarians?) at Goodreads confused me with another author named Steve Campbell and dumped his books on my author page. It took several weeks to clean up that snafu.

Now, 2 years later, they’ve dumped 7 books narrated by another Steve Campbell on my page.

Seriously, I don’t know what to make of how prone to errors their author program is. I contacted them yesterday (23 hours ago as of this writing) in their “Book Issues > This book is not mine, please move it (part 11)” section, which is part of their Librarians Group discussion section. I’m awaiting a reply. I’m #340 on the list, so it may take a while, though others who have posted after me have received corrections.

Some of the feedback I received last year at another site says, “Goodreads has been frozen in time since 2013 when Amazon acquired them” and “The design is like a teenager’s 2005 Myspace page.” Many authors that I’ve talked to have had to wait weeks before Goodreads listed their books correctly.

One alternative is to leave Goodreads, as other indie authors have done. “It hurts sales a bit,” a friend told me, “but there are other ways to promote yourself as an author. And I have fewer headaches than when I was at Goodreads.”

I may follow his advice. I can still publish at Amazon, leave their KDP Select program after a year, and publish elsewhere—Smashwords perhaps. Why not? After all, “Life is a minestrone served up with parmesan cheese,” and dealing with websites like Goodreads that don’t function well is “a cold lasagna suspended in deep freeze.”

That’s all for now. I’ll keep you abreast of any news or changes.

Thanks for reading. I need to put on some music now to help get rid of this ever-playing earwig: “Mini-mini-mini-minestrone…”

A March Celebration

Today’s post is an update of my art, writing, and life. It’s an echo of my Art-Writing-Life blog, of a time when my art and writing took equal priority. But when I semi-retired from making art, I had more time to write, so my posts reflected the change.

Today’s update reflects another change.

Since my stomach surgery in 2020, I haven’t been able to sit for long. This has decreased the time I can spend writing or creating art. Pre-surgery, I allotted myself six to eight hours to complete a project. I’d sit for three hours before needing to take a break to refuel on food and drink and to exercise. Now I can sit for a half-hour at most before I must break. That’s a lot of breaks. And I think any artist or writer will understand me when I say, “That’s too many interruptions.” Making art and writing takes intense concentration. Interruptions often kill my concentration and take my mind away from the creative process. So, when I return to my work in a state of “out of the zone,” I find ten to fifteen minutes of meditation helps to bring me back to that zone.

Also, this new way of working has altered my creative style. I no longer concentrate on finishing a drawing or painting in one sitting. I simply let ideas form and see what develops while I follow along. I’m sure there’s a label for this way of creating art, but I’ve never been a stickler for labeling things. It’s simply a new and fun way of drawing and painting for me.

Below is a photo of a recent “drawing” of an abandoned country-style building. I was in a “Let’s draw an old, haunted house type building” mood when I started, so I thought of nighttime, stormy sky, European architecture, and isolation while I quickly and loosely sketched with charcoal and graphite. I added black watercolor paint to it during another quick sitting, then some splashes of white paint during another. Finally, I added washes of gray to add depth.

Spooky House sketch

It’s far from finished, but it’s reminiscent of other artwork I’ve done during longer sittings, specifically the barn painting below. The unfinished piece gives me ideas for future endeavors in art AND writing.

Barn Watercolor on paper

Being unable to sit for long has affected my reading schedule, influencing me to choose short stories over novels. I even dug out my old books of cartoons, including Peanuts, (pre-political) Doonesbury, Calvin and Hobbes, and Matt Groening’s Life In Hell series. I spent December and January reading again my four volumes of Mad, delighting in the magazine’s best of the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. February found me with my collection of cartoons history that had me laughing at plenty of comic strip humor over the ages—some of those old jokes are timeless and relevant today.

This post also marks a well-deserved break from writing Book 3 in the Green Crystal series. The book needs several more tweaks to get the kinks out, but I need to step away from it for a week or two to clear my head. Also, this old house needs some spring cleaning, so I’m preparing for that endeavor when the warmer weather of April and May settles on this neck of the woods. That means less writing and art, and shorter and fewer blogs during those months, but that’s life.

And speaking of life, I’m aiming at getting more physically active when Mother Nature decides to stop dumping snow outside my abode. Two outdoor exercises I’m looking forward to are biking and swimming. And just the idea of sunny days ahead has me smiling a lot.

Life is more than keeping the body fit, so I’m looking forward to browsing bookstores for the kind of literature that will exercise the brain when summer is over and Mother Nature reduces my outdoor activities to ridding snow from my walkways, driveway, and car. When I’m stuck indoors keeping warm and fed, I enjoy reading intelligent literature, which stimulates my creative muscle, which further aids me with developing sound ideas for my art and writing.

So, there you have it: Parts of my 2022 agenda and my pre-celebration of the summer to come.

Thanks for joining me. Peace and love, everybody, especially in these chaotic times.

11 Years Blogging At WordPress

Earlier this week I reached the 11-year mark for my time blogging at WordPress.

It’s hard to believe I’m still blogging considering the many times I thought about deleting my blog and website. But I’ve always stopped myself from leaving. And that’s because of all the Internet places I’ve resided at, I enjoy being at WordPress. WP may not be the best landlords, but some of the people I’ve met here are the best in the world.

So, here’s to another 11 years.