Category Archives: opinion

The Bachelor Effect

After fourteen years on television, The Bachelor managed to snag my attention for a full episode. Yes, I’m a “late adopter.” But that had nothing to do with my lack of exposure to the reality romance show. It was the evening of the Iowa Caucus, and there was nothing left upon which I could focus my political frustrations. Zeroing in on a TV program about a harem of women competing for the affections of one average Joe was the distraction I needed.

According to The Bachelor’s viewer ratings, women (and men) everywhere await each weekly episode, to find out which of the dozen or so remaining prospective lays, oops, I mean brides, with whom the male cast member–the bachelor–has passionately gone mouth-to-mouth, will receive a single long stem rose. This begs a few questions. Are flowers that difficult to obtain now? Or is there a global shortage of unwed heterosexual men?

Continue reading

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under acting, entertainment, film and TV, humor, opinion, Uncategorized

It’s not Easy Being Indie

Often I read articles or blog posts about independent eBook authors who’re making it big, selling 100,000 or more eBooks in less than a year, receiving six-figure offers from major publishers, or landing movie deals. My spirits are lifted and hopes rekindled by such news. However, I quickly remind myself that for every one of these fortunate (and, no doubt, hard-working) authors who are hitting the Big Time, there are thousands of others who are refreshing their Kindle Data Publishing dashboards every few minutes and wondering why their sales numbers haven’t changed in days.

 Truth be told, I’ve spent most of my self-publishing time on neither end of that sales spectrum (though I admit to being a numbers checker). So I thought I’d offer a glimpse of what middle ground looks like. 

I’ve written three humor books and one short collection of, I’m almost (but not quite) ashamed to admit, bathroom humor essays. What began as a silly newspaper column grew into a full-time obsession when I wrote my first book, Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road. I didn’t set out to become a humorist. But I don’t need to tell you what happens to plans. Right? 

Initially, I didn’t fully appreciate my book market size and competition. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here are a few statistics: According to Amazon’s category listing details, as of today, there are 18,223 humor books available on Kindle. In the past ninety days, 2,939 of those titles were added to the Kindle store.

 For my eBooks to simply maintain their rankings, I must constantly outsell the new titles coming on board. This means that every time Tina Fey, Chelsea Handler, Ellen DeGeneres, or Jenny McCarthy releases a new book, my books lose whatever position and ranking they’ve previously built. I wish these famous folks would just be content with their awards, TV shows, and stage appearances. But, sadly (for me), they’re not.

 Flipping through the TV channels last night, I paused to catch a glimpse of an Oprah rerun. There sat Jenny McCarthy, looking all gorgeous and well-rehearsed as she discussed her latest release with the Queen of Book Marketing. I folded my arms and tried my best not to be a “hater” (or a “hate her”). Humorists like me don’t get invitations to promote our books on Oprah. We get asked to provide free speeches at ladies’ garden club luncheons.

 Oh, sure, I once garnered mild interest from a top-tier literary agent. But in the end, the woman said my “platform” wasn’t big enough. I wanted to say, “Oh, yeah? Well, my caboose is!” But I doubt that would have helped my case.

What the agent was telling me was this; I didn’t perform stand-up comedy, and I lacked my own radio and television show. My material was good, but without a blog like Snooky’s (Okay, her name wasn’t tossed out—but I got the drift.), this businesswoman feared I’d be a tough sell. Most likely, she was right.

 After that exciting but big miss, I forgot about agents and dared to publish my own work.

 Some suggest my paperback books have sold well, for an “unknown” author. Sales figures have been less than stellar, though, if you ask me. Nonetheless, in 2010, I decided to release Driving, my first book, in eBook format. With no previous formatting knowledge, I followed the Kindle and Smashwords publishing guidelines to make my book available through multiple outlets. I had no idea what to expect, but I figured I had nothing to lose . . . other than maybe a little despair.

 To my surprise and delight, readers found me!

 I’m not entirely sure how this happened. I did no advertising, other than on my own website (which was getting all of  three hits per day). The only people who seemed to be visiting my blog were ones offering to enhance male performance. My family (excluding my husband) and most of my friends paid zero attention to what I’d written and even less to how they might help me spread word of my books. 

It wasn’t until I received my first sales report from Smashwords that I realized Driving was selling overseas. Through Smashwords’ distribution arrangement with Apple, the book was selling in the U.K. and Canada! How were these audiences finding me? They weren’t visiting my website or blog, to be sure. I could see the number of visits posted on each site. Something else was leading readers to my work. But what?

 I wondered what might happen if I did a little advertising.

 Some research led me to Kindle Nation Daily, Daily Cheap Reads, The Frugal eReader, Red Adept Reviews, and Kindleboards.com, where I tested the waters with various sponsorship ads and banners. Over the next four months, I rotated my books’ exposures through these channels. Each ad produced a bump in sales, followed by a tapering off. But the lift was enough to get my books off the ground and into their Amazon categories’ top 100 lists.

One year after the eBook launch of Driving, this title is currently #167 in Amazon’s Kindle humor category. (That is among all 18,223 titles.) Today the book is sitting at #21 in Amazon’s Kindle humor essays listings and #8 in humor/parenting.  

Despite my book sales success, I have not sold 100,000 eBooks. Nobody has offered me a movie deal. Playboy hasn’t asked me to pose nude, either. (And if they do, the answer is “ARE YOU CRAZY?”) Oprah doesn’t, and likely never will, know that I exist. But thousands of readers do. And I am humbled and sufficiently awed by that knowledge.   

Personal success is measured not by how much of the journey remains ahead of us but rather by the distance we’ve already traveled. The stamina required for completing a book, the courage it takes to publish your own work, the faith that’s needed to believe what others don’t, and the fortitude necessary to stay the course are all accomplishments to celebrate. In between hitting the refresh button, of course.

13 Comments

Filed under books, entertainment, film and TV, humor, Kindle, opinion, publishing, Thoughts, Uncategorized, women, writing

Award-winning humor book now $2.99 on Kindle

I know how much Kindle owners (I’m one) appreciate a good read at a low price, so I’ve just made both my humor books available on Amazon for the low list price of $2.99.  But it gets better! Amazon is discounting Driving (not sure for how long) to $1.99!

Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road: Humorous Views on Love, Lust, & Lawn Care includes tales of misadventures in travel, home repairs, and everyday life.

 

Deedee Divine’s Totally Skewed Guide to Life offers wacky wisdom and advice to help conquer life’s daily annoyances. Deedee (my alter ego) explains why women won’t read maps, Bubbas build the best burgers, and wise men should never use the B-word, “budget.”  A ForeWord Book of the Year Finalist.

These titles are available in paperback too.

Thank you for checking out my books!

Diana

Leave a comment

Filed under books, Chrimstas gifts, entertainment, humor, Kindle, life, opinion, publishing, Uncategorized, women, writing

If you can’t outdo your neighbor’s Christmas lights display . . .

I gave my next door neighbor some grief about  not putting up any Christmas lights. He replied with a simple photo. See below:

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under humor, life, opinion, Uncategorized

What do your dishes say about you?

The Blue Willow Bowl

 

Thanksgiving Central, the “war room,” otherwise known as my kitchen. In the place where it all begins each year, I search for a mixing bowl that hasn’t yet been soiled and sent to the sink.

Nothing.

Oh, wait. Here’s that Blue Willow bowl I never use, the one Grandma gave me . . . when was it? Seems like it was right after I married. I recall her voice when she asked, “Don’t you need a good mixing bowl?”  

I lift the bowl and examine it. How many foods have been made and served inside this cobalt blue and white heirloom? Probably thousands.

My fingers trace the rim. Still chipped in two places—just like the day she gave it to me. Otherwise, I see no cracks. Not any unplanned ones, at least. There’s a crackle glaze that’s rather pronounced around the love birds painted near the bottom. Hmm. Love birds. I hadn’t ever before noticed these.

Now, where is my banana nut bread recipe? Well, it’s not really mine. Actually, I got that from Grandma too—indirectly. For Christmas, one year not long before she died, she gave me a cookbook published by her church. Grandma’s contribution to the book had been her banana bread recipe. She was already up in years when she’d provided those instructions. So she accidentally left out the flour from the list of ingredients. I’ve penciled in the correction. 

I stir together the flour, sugar, eggs, and lard. Yes, lard. That’s how she made it. It’s one day a year. I’m probably not going to kill anyone with cholesterol. I mean, it wouldn’t be her recipe if I substituted canola oil.

Mindlessly, I stare at the blue and white china.

I miss her.

It hits me. I am here, stirring the banana bread that I will serve my family tomorrow, and I am mixing the same batter in the same dish that my grandmother used to blend her baked goods decades before this.

So who cares if the bowl is chipped?

Some day, I will look at one of my daughters and ask, “Don’t you need a good mixing bowl?” When I do, I hope she appreciates the significance.

I pour the batter into a loaf pan and turn on the tap to rinse the bowl.

Water pours. The blue willows weep. And tears flow.

Everybody needs a good mixing bowl.

 

http://www.TotallySkewed.com

2 Comments

Filed under Chrimstas gifts, cooking, life, opinion, Random thoughts, recipes, reflections, Thoughts, Uncategorized, women, writing

Deedee Divine on Sacramento & Co., News 10

Happy to be home today! Deedee Divine made a trip to Sacramento to appear on a morning news program. See her in action here:

http://gannett.a.mms.mavenapps.net/mms/rt/1/site/gannett-kxtv-3334-pub01-live/current/launch.html?maven_playerId=sacnadcofrntplayer&maven_referralObject=1328377429

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under acting, comedians, entertainment, film and TV, food, health and beauty, humor, life, opinion, publishing, Thoughts, Uncategorized, women, writing

Deedee Divine’s Budget Guide to the State Fair of Texas

P1010771

 

Deedee Divine’s Budget Guide to the State Fair of Texas

 

The State Fair of Texas, hosted annually in Dallas, is famed for its deep fried debuts. Previous notables have included corny dogs and fried Coke. Among this year’s heart-stopping (perhaps literally) fair contest winners is fried butter. But the costs of sampling such indulgences can far exceed indigestion. Even if you’re not dumb enough to eat battered butter, the fair can break your budget.

 A day at the State Fair of Texas could consume more cash than an all-night poker party. So for those who would rather not spend a fortune, I’ve devised my unofficial guide to the State Fair of Texas—a no-nonsense, frugal way to get the most for your money, and possibly someone else’s, when attending this extravaganza.

 If you follow my advice, not only will you spend less, see more, and avoid long waiting lines, but you also just might leave the fairgrounds with something in your pockets besides dryer lint.

 I’ve patterned my fair guide after those “Disney in a day” tour books, except this one is really doable.

 Arrival

The fair opens at 10:00 a.m. Because you’ll want to arrive early, you may need to search the sofa cushions and empty your coin jar the night before.

The cheapest way to get to the fairgrounds is to make friends with a delivery truck driver on his way to Fair Park. Otherwise, take the DART Green Line train. Visit any local area Kroger store to purchase a $16 combo ticket that includes train transportation, fair entrance fees, and perhaps renewed appreciation for solo travel.

If you drive your car to the fair, plan to spend $10 to park and at least half your shoe tread to hike from the nearest self-parking lot to the fair entrance. Or you can wait for the free tram, provided you hope to see one before your bones are discovered.

Fill your tote bag or purse with snack items prior to arrival. Otherwise you’ll be tempted to purchase meals with coupons that cause you to lose track of both costs and common sense.

 Upon ticket office approach, ask any accompanying children to slump their shoulders forward and bend their knees slightly. Children under 48” tall receive a reduced general admission rate of $11. 

 Park Entry

Cash is NOT accepted for food, beverages or rides, so proceed immediately to the nearest coupon vendor to purchase $40 worth of coupons. If funds are low, use your debit card and hope for the best. (Note: It can take extra days for the transaction to clear, which provides additional time to sell some scrap metal or pawn your Nintendo.)

 In order, follow the list below:

  1. Go to the Food Court Building and eat lunch at 10:30 a.m. to avoid the crowds.
  2. If you are traveling with family members, you should now be out of coupons. Send any children in your party scurrying around the Food Court to search for tickets dropped by others. (Yes, this happens frequently.) Should you come up empty-handed, you’ll need to purchase more coupons.
  3. Hang out on the Midway and consider the irony as you watch gals who shouldn’t tell their weight pay someone to guess it out loud.
  4. If a trip through the Midway with your brood seems too threatening, spend tickets to board the Texas Skyway, a gondola ride that spans the entire Midway. Tell the children they’ve now seen an aerial view of the whole shebang and there’s no need to return to this section.
  5. Head over to the Automobile Building and make a game out of seeing how many cars inside will truly run on 87 octane gas. (There’s a reason they call them “premium cars.”)
  6. Double back to the icon Big Tex and keep your eyes on the ground. Picture takers often lose their coupons in front of this landmark.
  7. Tour the Creative Arts Building to cool off.  On the way out, conduct a family pit stop. Men, check the chain attached to your wallet. Ladies, make sure your fanny pack isn’t sitting on its namesake.
  8. Catch the pig races in the Pan American Arena (free) and get alternative income ideas.  
  9. Grab a glimpse of the star boar in the Swine Building, which may lack visitors because of flu assumptions. See, first-hand, the difference bad carbs can make.
  10. Quell the urge to buy another scratch-off lottery ticket tonight and watch the free games at the Texas Lottery Show.
  11.  Because you probably can’t afford to plant your own fall garden this year, take those autumn photos at one of the many floral themed exhibits scattered throughout the park.
  12. Introduce the kiddos to international cuisine by letting them sample chocolate jalapeno peppers in Cotton Bowl Plaza. This should eliminate all further requests for candy. Afterward, have the little ones wash away the burn at nearby water fountains.
  13. Adults visit the Pepcid Mobile Tour for free samples.
  14. Wander through the Food & Fiber Building and grab any freebies. Don’t forget to gaze low for lost goodies.
  15.  Share a turkey leg on a stick and split a basket of curly taters.
  16.  Sprint to the nearest restroom. Do not look for more coupons. Just run.
  17.  No refunds are provided for unused fair coupons. So head over to the Main Entrance and offer your NASCAR keychain, Dallas Cowboys cap, or designer knock-off shades in exchange for coupons any exiting patrons possess.
  18. Visit the Children’s Barnyard, as frequently as needed, for free anti-microbial cleanser.
  19. Stay for Illumination Sensation, an outdoor light, music, and fireworks display, and prolong your energy savings at home. (As long as you’re watching THEIR lights, you won’t be burning YOURS.)
  20. Before you leave the fairgrounds, wander over to the ONCOR exhibit for more energy saving ideas. You just might find a few to help you better afford next year’s State Fair of Texas!

 

If you found this guide useful, please share it with friends!

 

Read more about the State Fair of Texas in Deedee Divine’s Totally Skewed Guide to Life, by Diana Estill. 

 deedeemedportrait

Leave a comment

Filed under entertainment, food, humor, life, opinion, Random thoughts, Uncategorized