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How's your health?

Well now, that's the big question these days, isn't it? Me, I've got a slight cough, and a little bit of a sore throat.

Fear not! Thanks to allergies, I almost always have those. But I have found myself trying harder to suppress them in public, because I feel like passers-by are running away and calling 911.

As the coronavirus spreads, it's important not to panic and, oh, I don't know--hoard supplies. The other day I went to the store, and they were low on chicken. Exactly how much extra freezer space is out there, anyway? Maybe they're turning packages of toilet paper into coolers.

Apparently social isolation is one of the best ways to fight the virus since--well, if you're not around other people it can't be passed back and forth. We writers, we're way ahead of the curve on that; our job's not exactly a team sport. Or a spectator sport, for that matter. So fear not, if you order a book from us we'll not only wash our hands before sending it, we probably haven't been out in the real wold, anyway.
The question is, should authors take advantage of a pandemic to sell their books?

Yes.

Well, not directly. I mean, standing at the entrance to an emergency room, telling patients they might as well buy our novels because they're likely to be in there for awhile--not cool. Still, we can and will say something along the lines of:

"Stuck in the house? You can only watch so much TV. (Boy, I hope that's true.) You need books to read! And I just so happen to have your escapism right here."

Readers gotta read.
"I'm not letting you out until you buy some books! He's got hungry dogs to feed. Well, dog."
On a related note, we have a new book out! Emily's working on getting it up on the website, but it's already available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Mark-R-Hunter/e/B0058CL6OO or, doggone it, you could just shoot us an e-mail. At $1.99 on e-book and $7.50 in print, More Slightly Off the Mark is way cheaper than a face mask, and in a pinch you could probably filter through one of the pages.

Here's the description:

     Who would have thought the turn of the last Century would one day be ancient history?
In More Slightly Off the Mark, Why I Hate Cats, and Other Lies, former newspaper columnist Mark R. Hunter went back to collect his humor pieces from 2000 and 2001—the earliest ones to be put on a computer.

     In DOS format, on a floppy disk.

     The amount of change in just twenty years resulted in Hunter completely rewriting the columns, and inserting his present self (and his dog, Beowulf, through pictures) into the work—mostly to make fun of his younger self. Along the way Mark riffs on everything from history to health, vacations, holidays, housework, and of course technology. And weather. Because everyone talks about that.

     In a more serious section Hunter also tackles the 9/11 attacks … because those were the times we lived in.

     Some of the chapters include:

Advice From the Clueless
I Ran Out of Excuses to Write About Excuses
When Bad Cities Happen to Good People
Civil War, Summer Vacation—Same Thing
I Just Can’t Stand Intolerant People
The Next Big Step in Medical Disasters
And, of course: Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number, But It’s a Really Lousy Number

Mark R. Hunter’s humor column was published in newspapers for twenty-five years, and he notes there’s little than can be done about him collecting more of them in the future … although state and federal laws are pending.



 
It's pretty good. It IS SO.

Because you're my greatest fans, relatives, and bored people, I'm including a section of the book right here, to be read by no one who doesn't see this newsletter--it's not even in the preview part on Amazon.

It's called ... well, I don't know, I haven't picked it out yet. Guess I'd better do that.

More Slightly Off the Mark:

Unpacking the Packrats

 
A packrat just can't be rehabilitated overnight. That's one of Hunter's Packratting Rules.

These days, apparently, they’re called hoarders. No, I don’t know why—why do “they” change any name for anything when the old name has been working just fine? All I can tell you is that I’ve seen snippets of those hoarder shows, and I’m not so bad, after all.

I had no idea I was a packrat—none of us ever do, until we're hit in the face with a collapsing closet. In my case, I was hit in the face by a Sammy Sosa line drive when I began a project to sort through every single space in my entire house, and divide it into three areas: Trash, Garage Sale, and Keep.

Guess which pile was biggest.

You can fight being a packrat, or you can lean into it. For those practicing acceptance, here are some packratting rules:
  • Always buy a home with at least five times the storage space a normal person needs.
  • Don't plan on parking inside the garage. Consider yourself lucky if there's room to park outside the garage.
  • Hallways only need to be wide enough for one person. Anything else is storage space.
  • Magazines and newspapers are not junk—they're "living history".
  • Anything broken can be fixed. (Ignore the fact that these days it's often cheaper to replace something than to fix it.)
  • Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until after your funeral.
  • Never throw away today what you'll never use in the future.
And a new rule, one that only recovering Packrats learn: For every week you think it'll take to clean your house, plan on one week to prepare, three to clean, another to dwell in horrified fascination at the pile of boxes you thought were indispensable, and yet another month to go through the stuff all over again.

I started by hauling boxes out of the garage, intending to have that space tightly organized, and capable of holding what I anticipated would be a huge stockpile of garage sale items for the spring. That was a mistake. You should always start with the living portion of your house, because at first you'll see some progress. It’ll give you a good feeling, until you realize the awful truth:

Closets and attic spaces are like some kind of science fiction pocket universe—they'll hold a lot more than they appear to.
 
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