Tuesday Tirade: The Trouble with Teens (the numbers, not the kids)

Sine or cosine? Maybe it’s tangent…

As you may have surmised, you shouldn’t be expecting your complaints about your teenagers—or your neighbor’s—to justified in the following post. This is about another anomaly we call numbers*

How easy is it to count to 100? Learn 1-10, then all you have to know are 20, 30, 40, etc., and you have 90% of the work done. When you get to twenty, everything falls into a nice, predictable order, unlike the teens that follow a different pattern, like they are defiant to all the rules of societ—Wait. Maybe that’s why teenagers are the way they are.

Let’s list the oddities:

Anomaly #1: The Decades

All the decade numbers from twenty have a -ty, so why not call 10, tenty? Then we have to change 20 to Twoty, 30 to threety, 40 to fourty (why did we lose the ‘u?), 50 to fivety, 60 to sixty —Wait! We’re all good to go after that.

Anomaly #2: Eleven

Except for the ‘n’, it has nothing to do with one. At least twelve has 2/ 3rds of the correct letters. We could call it oneven or onevelve.

Anomaly #3: Twelve

We agree that twelve is more aptly named than eleven, but for argument’s sake, let’s call it twoeven or twoelve.

Anomaly #4: The Teens

Only the 11 and 12 deviate from the -teen pattern, but within the pattern, only 14 and 16-19 are consistent. Still not a majority even if 11-13 and 15 band together to form a voting block. It would make it easier if the teens went: oneteen, twoteen, threeteen, fourteen-, fiveteen, etc.

But wait! Did we not decide earlier that the decades should all have -ty?

Anomaly #5: Majority Rules?

If we take the numbers from 10-99 (we will omit 1-9 because that’s our baseline), then 90% of the numbers follow a pattern, so it should be: tenty-one, tenty-two, tenty-three, etc..

Am I done with getting angry at math? For a little while, at least, until I have to figure out why I can cut something into 3 equal parts and hold 1/3rd of a finite piece in my hand, yet 1/3rd as a decimal is 0.333333333333333333333333333333333333333…

Tell that to angry cat. Just let me step out of the room before you do.


*(There are some cool things about math, but I’ll leave those for a Weird Wednesday)

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

Purchase paperback directly for the author!

Tuesday Tirade: ROI

Angry cats are funnier than angry dogs…

So this is not really going to be a tirade, but I wanted to use the cat because he/she/it makes me chuckle.

My mailing list has two groups, regular readers who have downloaded one of my sample books, and reviewers. The main body is the same, but the reviewers get reminders and review links.

Of the two, the reviewer group has the lower open rate. Much lower. With no new reviews coming in I decided to merge the two.

I had a good email conversation with the owner of one of the review platform that I had used, inquiring about the typical review rates of the participants. He was forthright about it and said it usually runs between 5-10%.

So, that’s what I have been experiencing, and I’m glad he was honest. I put my participation on hold, while I re-thought my strategy. I decided that the rate was too low because it means that 90% of readers who receive a free book from me do it for the free book.

Authors want a ROI (return on investment) on their marketing budget which I wrote about here:
Book Marketing: Spend money, make money?  and here:
Amazon Ads: Here, Mr. Bezos, take my money and run.

When if comes to free books, whether short sample copies or review copies, getting the book into the hands of new readers is good exposure, if – and it’s a big if, they write a review, tell someone else, share their opinion on social media, or in the case of sample copies, buy the full book.

I stated in my review expectations, the I was hoping for a 4 week time frame, and always appreciated when reviewers informed me that they were done, needed more time, or decided that they were not going to leave a review.  

On the plus-side, I cut down how much I have to write each week.


Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

Purchase paperback directly for the author!

Tuesday Tirade: What Frustrates You?

Angry cats are funnier than angry dogs…

Do you find things frustrating? Oh boy. I sure do. But I have a pretty calm demeanor, so I don’t usually get worked up about too much, especially things that I have very little control over. That being said, let’s get into a few things that ruffle my feathers.

  1. Amazon reviews: I’ve focused some ire in the past toward “The Behemoth”, and I find this equally annoying. Amazon has different platforms for every major country in the world. If a reader in the UK leaves a review for one of my books, someone in another country won’t necessarily see it. But wait. What about global reviews? I have sent many emails to customer service, KDP, and Author Central, and have never received a clear explanation on why some author’s books show reviews from other countries and others do not.
  2. Irresponsible dog owners: It’s springtime. The snow melts. What is revealed? You guessed it: Dog poop. Shame on you. And not just dog poop, dog poop in bags. Really? You scoop it up and just leave the bag? Not acceptable. You got the dog, you clean up after it. That’s your job.
  3. Dog owners (Part 2): There are off-leash parks for a reason. Oh, I know you are proud of how well trained it is, walking beside you, but any animal is unpredictable. Unofficial trails within the city, are still within the city. Case in point: In the winter, one of the small rivers that run through the city, freezes over and is used as a walking/biking/skiing/snowshoeing trail. Now I know that you want your dog to get exercise and have a change to blow the stink off, but when a dog runs toward me, I’m not impressed. I like dogs. I walk a dog on a regular basis (a Pomeranian) and I have had to pick her up several times when off-leash dogs have come running over. Maybe they just want to play, but as I mentioned, all animals are unpredictable and it’s not fair if one dog is on a leash and the other is not, regardless of size. One winter, three dogs ran toward me, their owner calling them back (they didn’t listen), and I used my snowshoe poles to stop them from jumping on me. I didn’t hit them or anything, but pointed them in their direction. If your dogs don’t come back to you instantly, they shouldn’t be off-leash.
  4. Walkers (when I’m cycling): Did you forget how to walk over the winter? The multi-use path has a line right down the center. Don’t walk on the wrong side. If there are two or more walking abreast (no one likes to be behind the conversation, I get it), be prepared for me to ask you to more over – don’t give me the stink-eye when I do. Please acknowledge the you hear me so I don’t repeat myself louder. And don’t get mad if I startle you. It is a multi-use path. Yes, I do cycle on the sidewalk occasionally, but then, I always give walkers the right of way.

I think that’s enough for today. i just sent another query to Amazon so I’ll keep you updated.


Music Monday: Sell-out or Just Business?

A few news stories have come out over the last few weeks about musicians selling the rights to their song catalogs. Now, this is nothing new, one of the first bombshells was when Michael Jackson purchased some of The Beatles songs – which I believe were repurchased years later. Recently, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Mick Fleetwood have all sold parts of their own catalogs.

Why is it good business to own song rights? $$$$$$. Royalties are paid every time a song is played/performed publicly. Radio (yes, we still have that), online streaming, T.V. (yes, we still have that too), and movies are some examples. Ever wonder why you only hear snippets of songs during your favorite sports events? After a certain amount of time, royalties need to be paid, so the venue plays 10-15 seconds. Loophole? Maybe. But the first 10-15 seconds of Thunderstruck is the best part. Come to think about it, it is the only part. Why do you hear weird variations on that birthday song in restaurants? You guessed it-royalties.

I don’t remember the first time I heard a song that I liked used in a commercial. I do remember that many years ago (no, I’m not telling) cries of “Sell-out!” were repeated by music fans when the bands that they loved allowed popular songs to be used to sell…whatever. It’s not so surprising now–it’s just business. Can we fault an artist for trying to make money? OK, don’t answer that. That’s a whole new can o’ worms.

What can I handle? I can tolerate a song being used in its original form to sell a truck, insurance, banking services, or whatnot, but please, please, if you sell your song, sell the lyrics as well. Don’t know what I’m getting at? One of my favorite songs is–was–Rocket Man by Elton John. Now, when I hear that song, all I think about is the lady who “…shops at Rakutan”. Thanks a bunch, Elton.

Given the opportunity, would I sell the rights to my songs? Probably. Maybe. It depends. If my creations made me a decent wage that allowed me not to want for anything (FYI–that’s a low bar. I’m very frugal), I don’t think that I would. Never say never, though, right?

So, for all you restaurants looking for a cheap alternative to The Birthday Song, for only $0.27/use, I present to you, Happy, Happy Birthday:

 Happy, happy, happy,
 Birthday, birthday, birthday
 You were born [insert number here] years ago
 Happy, happy, happy,
  Birthday, birthday, birthday
 We’ll stop here 
 So we don’t have to pay… 

Darn, I didn’t think this through…


The Purge (Subscribers): Quality over Quantity

I went through my subscriber list this week and sent out an email to selected recipients that started like this:  “Ever see the movie, The Purge? Don’t. It’s a terrible movie. I can’t believe they made more than one, two more actually. Anyway, this email is going out to subscribers who haven’t opened any emails for at least 3 months. I may have made a mistake and accidentally added you to this list, so I apologize, and you can stop reading now. “ It goes on to thank them for signing up and giving them unsubscribe information if they wish to stop receiving my most entreating correspondence.

There are many reasons that people on your email list don’t engage. There are many reasons why people on your email list signed up in the first place. Before my list got too big, I decided to purge the list for a few reasons:

  1. Having to many non-engaged subscribers hurts the open rate.
  2. If a reader isn’t interested in what I have to say, I would prefer not to keep them.
  3. Nobody likes a cluttered inbox-them and me.

As I was going through the list, I noticed a few interesting things. Many of the purged had signed up for my book draw, so if they didn’t win, they were not interested in my endeavors, they just wanted free stuff. Fair enough. They probably had a garbage email filling up with stuff. Some of the non-winners, I am happy to say, stuck with me. That, I appreciate. To them I say, “Thank you!”

I did find quite a few who had signed up to review my book through a certain website but hadn’t. It made me weary of using that service again or giving my book away. Out of all the books I have given away with the expectation (promise) of a review, there were more readers who did not submit a review than did. To all of them who took the time to submit a review for any of my books, I say, “Thank you!”

There were a few instances that made me pause and think. Some subscribers had opened many of my newsletters, then stopped. I wondered why, and it saddened me to think that something had happened to them. This has been a terrible year of losses, and no matter what, deaths do happen. Not to assume the worst, but it is a possibility or maybe they just forgot. If we have lost them, for any reason, I say, “Thank you for gracing us with your life.”

This weekend I will be sending out a final email to subscribers with low/no engagement or who haven’t opened anything for more than 3 months. It is kind of like the box that I have of stuff that I don’t use-after a year, if I haven’t needed it, it’s gone-usually donated. Don’t think you’ll ever use that extra piece that came with the furniture or the weird kitchen gadget that you bought on a whim or all those extra buttons? One sure way to find out. Toss em’. Often, you’ll need them the next day.

UPDATE: I sent out the email yesterday and I am pleased to say that so far, 6 people have opened it but did not unsubscribe. It’s good to know that the emails are getting through and not winding up in a spam folder. As for the rest, time will tell. I’ll keep you updated.

Music Monday: So Many Genres

Music was the earliest form of artistic creation. It brought together people to share traditions and relay important cultural ideals. Do you know anyone who doesn’t like some form of music? Keep thinking…

Well? That’s right. I think that it is extremely rare. And with so many styles of music to choose from, it’s difficult not to find something that you like. Every style of music has its standouts, and those standouts will differ from person to person. Some will have a narrow range of favorites; others are able to appreciate a wider variety.

My high school buddies and I were into heavy metal. “We’ll never stop rocking out man,” we would declare with conviction. Fast forward and I don’t think there is a genre of music that I can’t find at least one song to enjoy. Some music is a far cry from what we used to listen to.

What do I enjoy listening to? I googled several different genres to see what category(ies) best defines my choice in music. Apparently, according to the Billboard year-end charts, the winner is Adult Alternative. Which means, there are more songs on that chart that I know than on the Billboard Top 100. Not to say there are not some good ones on that one too, The Weeknd, Lizzo, and Drake are there.

I’ll listen to orchestral music quite a bit. You’ll notice I didn’t say classical music-that’s an era of music (for you nik-pickers out there) which I do enjoy along with renaissance, baroque, etc. My nylon string (or classical) guitar compositions, while technically are 20th century “classical” music, are strongly influenced by two widely separated eras: renaissance and modern minimalism. Anne Southam and Philp Glass come to mind. My steel string acoustic pieces have country, folk, and Irish influences. Sunday morning is a good fit for listening to choral concerts.

I really enjoy some of the traditional Latin songs, to the Latin pop that has exploded onto the North American scene in recent years. And yes, I was listening to it before Despasito.  I can do country, when I am in the right mood, some hip-hop, and when a song from the 80’s comes on, I can usually sing most of the words.

There is not a genre that I dislike. There are however, songs within those genres, that I will turn off-or just don’t get what others hear in them, but that goes for anything, doesn’t it.

Music has played a large role in shaping my life. I am grateful for it. Music makes me happy, but it can also make me cry. My feelings and emotions flood out when I am listening, playing, or composing. Songs allow me to travel back in time to recall events in my life. Sometimes, a new song will remind me of a past experience because it just seems to fit.

What would I do without music? I don’t even want to entertain that notion.