Thursday, April 15, 2021

Windswept #23 Weekend of Fear and #27 Mystery Cruise

Windswept #23 Weekend of Fear, Edward Hunsberger, 1983

The dark and silent halls of the old private girls' school cast an eerie spell...

 ...but Karen tries to brush off their strange chill, tries to laugh at her overactive imagination.  Then someone attempts to run her over, and the evil on campus becomes all too real.

Who could want her dead?  Sarge, the eccentric old caretaker?  Paul, the handsome premed student she just might be falling in love with?  Meredith, her new friend?  Karen is frantic to discover the truth and save her life.

This book is excellent and has a great mystery.  Karen is nearly run over very shortly after her arrival on campus, which sets up the suspense for the entire story.

Windswept #27 Mystery Cruise, Carole Standish, 1984

Dawn's birthday present from her aunt is a cruise on a luxury ship.  Before the ship leaves the pier, Dawn busily snaps pictures with her new camera of all the people on board.  That's her first mistake. 

Even with Kevin around to distract her, Dawn fears that someone is out to get her.  By the time the cruise is over, Dawn is convinced that her camera has recorded someone's secret, and a sweet-smelling but ominous perfume warns Dawn that shipboard life isn't all romance...

This book has a very good mystery.  I enjoyed this book.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Windswept #17 Mirror, Mirror and #33 Weekend of Fear by Virginia Nielsen

Vintage series book fans probably ignore these posts about vintage teen books.  However, some of the mystery teen books could appeal to those fans.  The second book reviewed here, Weekend of Fear, is one of those books.

I abandoned reading the Windswept series quite awhile back, but I found that I prepared two review posts that I never published.  This is the first of those posts.

Windswept #17 Mirror, Mirror, Virginia Neilsen, 1983

Gilly and Gerry are identical twins, separated at birth.  They meet for the first time when they're sixteen and find that they're so alike, even their boyfriends can't tell them apart!

Then Gilly visits Gerry's home, and when the vacation is over, Gerry convinces Gilly to switch places secretly.  It's fun at first, but soon strange accidents begin, and Gilly receives frightening phone calls meant for Gerry.  More confusing, Gilly is falling in love with Gerry's boyfriend.  

Is Gerry in some kind of trouble?  Why didn't she tell Gilly?  And why did she set Gilly up to be in such terrible danger?

This book starts off with a good hook.  Identical twins who have just met for the first time is compelling.  As the story progresses, it gradually because more and more suspenseful.  Since Gilly and Gerry have changed places, Gilly ends up in grave danger because of the danger that Gerry is in.

This is a very good book.

Windswept #33 Weekend of Fear, Virginia Nielsen, 1984

When the school loner, Brick, falls heir to a fortune of jewels, his life is threatened.  He asks Jacey to hide the jewels for him until he can get them into a bank after the weekend.  Then he disappears.

But with Brick out of the way, Jacey is now the target of unwanted attention.  And in a department store, normally bustling with hopping crowds and clerks, Jacey finds herself alone, in the dark, facing a killer.

The book starts off a little slow, but it quickly picks up in intensity once the department store closes for the weekend.  Jacey spends the entire weekend (and most of the book) inside a dark, closed department store being stalked by someone who knows that she has the jewels and is determined to get them.

The book also has a twist which I wasn't expecting.
This is an extremely tense, suspenseful book.  It is excellent.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

March 2021 Selling Update #4

I have listed more books on eBay and Etsy.  It should be quite obvious by now that I am primarily listing books that have come from my actual personal collection.  My goal is to reduce my collection by at least 750 books.

I don't have all of my books catalogued on Library Thing, but going by what I have there and what I know isn't catalogued, my collection consists of at least 6,500 books.  It might be a bit higher.  In addition to the approximately 6,500 books are at least another 2,000 other books that are extras or are unrelated to my series collection.  There might be more than 2,000 other books, since I tend to underestimate.  So all told, I might have around 10,000 books in my house.  I really don't know, but I want there to be fewer of them.  

I like all of my books, but I am selling books that fit at least one of these criteria.  

  1. The book has pulp paper and is not exceedingly important to me for any reason.  I won't sell my first printing Nancy Drew books with pulp paper (#20 through 25) under any circumstance.  However, I will sell books like the Penny Nichols books which have pulp paper and also fit my second criterion.

  2. The book can be downloaded via an online file and, as above, is not exceedingly important to me for any reason.

  3. I just don't really care about the book anymore.  These books are some of the books that have been double-shelved behind other books.  I might not have seen them in years.  Why do I continue to keep them?

As a result of #2, I am selling some partial sets.  I am selling my Ruth Fielding books that are available online and am keeping the ones that are not yet in the public domain.  Some other sets are also being broken up for the same reason.

I did decide last night that I would sell my Nancy Drew books with Dana Girls endpapers since the books have pulp paper.  I only have around four of them.  I've never tried hard to get them, and the ones I have found have not been very nice.  They will be listed sometime in the coming weeks.

I am also probably going to sell my Ken Holt set.  I like the Ken Holt books, but not anywhere near as much as most Ken Holt fans.  If I do want to read the books again, I now have PDF files saved to the cloud.  The Ken Holt set is not public domain, but all of the texts are online and pretty easy to find.  I won't link to where they are, but you can find the PDF files without too much trouble.  

The reason I want to reduce my collection somewhat is so that I can get some stuff out of drawers.  This next image shows what I see when I open one of my drawers.  Yes, a lot of stuff is underneath, and it's not trash.

 This is part of a shelf in an armoire.  

You might wonder what the stuff in the stack is.  Here is some of it.

I need to get this stuff more easily accessible, and I'd like for some of it to be out in plain sight.  I hope by June that the book situation will be more under control so that I can get my possessions in better order.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

This weekend I listed British, Dutch, Swedish, and Norwegian Trixie Belden books on eBay.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

On Etsy, I listed German Trixie Belden books and square Trixie Belden paperbacks.  I also listed French and Hebrew Nancy Drew books. 

For now, I will be listing all Nancy Drew books on Etsy.  eBay is suppressing me in Best Match and will continue to do so until I meet the required time open, sales, and feedback to fulfill the algorithm.  I'm fine on eBay with all other series, but Nancy Drew searches return so many results that I will not be seen by most buyers until Best Match favors me again.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Pricing Books to Sell Online; or, Taking a Stab in the Dark

This is sort of a selling update, but it's mostly another informational post. 

I have sold 305 books since the evening of March 13.  That's a strong start, although my overstock of books is so large that it barely makes a dent in my extras.  As I list books for sale, I have to move books around.  I have to keep straight the books that have been listed and the ones that have not been listed.  I have removed some books from boxes, but I have had to replace them with other books.  

One of the biggest struggles that sellers face is the quandary of book pricing.  People frequently join the groups on Facebook to ask about pricing.  We typically tell them to run a search on eBay, select the "sold" results, and see what the prices are.  Of course, the task is actually more complex than that, but we aren't paid appraisers.  The groups would become overrun with queries about selling prices if we were to begin to answer the questions in a thorough fashion.  Instead, sellers must learn how to do it themselves.

Each seller must take a stab in the dark when pricing books for sale.  That's what I do.  I miss the mark sometimes, actually probably quite often.  I both underprice and overprice my books.  If I have overpriced, then I gradually reduce the price.  I do not take offers, since most people making offers are just trying to get the book for a bargain at my expense.

I use all of the following methods to price books.

  • what I paid for the book
  • how appealing the book would be to me if I were buying it
  • my gut feeling
  • "sold" results for the last 365 days on eBay's Terapeak price research tool
  • the price range shown on BookFinder for books currently for sale online

The first three methods are the ones that influence me the most.

What I paid for the book

When I prepare to list a book, I look at what I paid for it.  That is the single most important factor into how I price my books. 

When I receive unsolicited offers from prospective buyers, more than 50% of the offers are below my cost.  You can understand why I don't wish to mess with offers.  I don't get books anywhere near as cheaply as some people assume.  I have no time for people who want me to give away my books at below my cost.

I do sell some books below cost, but that's my decision.  Values have decreased greatly for many series books, so I have no choice but to sell below cost in many cases.  When I can price above cost, I refuse to sell below cost just so that someone else can get the book for below the current value. 

How appealing the book would be to me if I were buying it

In the past, I have been asked specifically about my Nancy Drew picture cover prices.  Why do I price some lower when all characteristics appear to be the same?  I price the books based on how much they appeal to me personally.  If the wear makes the book less appealing to me, then I price the book lower.  It's that simple.  It helps to like and collect what one sells.  I price accordingly. 

My gut feeling

I am unaware of the current value of many series books.  I have moved away from buying and selling the thick Nancy Drew books from the 1930s with dust jackets, so I actually have no idea what people are paying for them.  I do recall the values from 10 years ago.  It's been stressful when some of you have referred people to me to tell them what their early Nancy Drew books are worth.  It puts me on the spot, and I have to come up with something.  I end up giving them a range and saying that condition is very important.  

I have books to sell that were taken from my collection.  I purchased the books around 15 years ago.  I know what the books were worth then, since I can see what I paid for them.  But what about now?  I have no idea!

I wanted to list my Kay Tracey Books, Inc. picture cover books last week.  I checked Terapeak and saw that the few that sold went for around $5 or so each.  That's... really low.  What would be the point of selling the books at those prices? 

I looked at my Kay Tracey books.  The books have such nice quality paper and are in great shape.  This is an example of where my gut feeling is the only method used to price the books.  It doesn't matter what I paid for them or how very low the recent sold prices have been.  No, these books deserved better.  I priced them at $19.99 each.  Some of them have sold, so I didn't price the books too high.  

These other methods are useful but not as important as the ones just covered.

"Sold" results for the last 365 days on eBay's Terapeak price research tool

Terapeak shows all eBay sales from the last 365 days.  The tool is useful, but at the same time, it is much less useful than you would expect.  One problem is that eBay does not let sellers view the descriptions of listings older than 90 days.  We can see the title, price, and usually the image, but the information in the description, such as the condition, would be very helpful.  It's difficult to make a judgment based on a tiny picture and a sold price.

Another drawback is that sold prices from 11 months ago might not be relevant in the current market.  I often avoid Terapeak and just go to eBay's regular search which only goes back 90 days.  I can actually read those descriptions, so those results are more helpful.

For very scarce books, Terapeak is quite useful since there might be no results from the last 90 days.  With 365 days, it's much more likely to find a sold listing that matches.

The price range shown on BookFinder for books currently for sale

BookFinder aggregates the search results from major bookselling sites including eBay, Amazon, AbeBooks, and Biblio.  It is useful for seeing an overview of the asking prices for books available online.

When a search has a number of results, it's important to ignore the lowest prices and the highest prices.  The low prices are usually for books being sold by dealers like Thriftbooks, who focus on reading copies.  The high prices are for books that will probably never sell; those books are overpriced.

I have listed a number of my books by Augusta Huiell Seaman.  I have a lot of money invested in the books, and the price I paid was the primary deciding factor in how I priced the books.  There was one exception, however.

The Voice in the Dark is an extremely scarce book by Seaman.  It seldom comes up for sale.  I actually do not know how often it sells, but in the two years I was buying Seaman's books, the one I purchased was the only one that sold.  The price I paid wasn't that bad.  

I checked Terapeak and found no results, which wasn't surprising.  I checked BookFinder and found one current listing, priced at $700.  I laughed.  I know how this went.  The seller knew it was a scarce book and put a really high price on it.  That didn't help me much.  

I have the price I paid and $700.  The two numbers are so disparate as to be meaningless.  Hmm...  I feel like the book is probably worth $100 to $150, maybe.  It's a stab in the dark, which is kind of fitting for The Voice in the Dark.  That aside, I didn't dare price the book at $125, which is what I wanted to do.

I don't mind people buying my books to resell.  I truly do not mind.  Please understand that.  If I have a book for sale at $20 and you know that you can sell it for $50 or so somewhere else, then go for it.  Different sellers use different platforms.  If another seller has access to buyers who will pay more, then it is fine for that seller to purchase my books to offer to those people.

However, I do mind when a seller buys a book from me and then prices it very high, which then means that they are playing "keep away" with the book.  There are far too many books for sale online at extreme prices.  All of the sellers are playing "keep away" with the books.  I wish to avoid aiding someone in playing "keep away." 

If I sold my book for $125 and the buyer then priced it at $250, that would be fine.  At least a $250 book would have a chance of selling.  I fear that the seller of the $700 book (or even someone else) might buy my book at $125 and then place it up at $700 as well.

After some thought, I priced my book at $350.  I enjoy the humor in the situation.  After all, I am just playing "keep away" from the sellers who would then price the book too high.  I fully expect that the book will not sell.  If the book were to sell, then at least I wouldn't just be handing it to someone to price at $700.

I feel certain that the book is priced too high at $350.  I'm cautiously testing the waters by placing the book out there.  After the book doesn't sell in a few weeks, I will begin to low the price, probably in $25 increments until it sells.  

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

Friday, March 19, 2021

The Popularity of the Nancy Drew Digest Series #57-175

This was intended to be a selling update, but it turned into an informational post.

It is near the end of spring break, so I will soon quit listing new items.  The eBay and Etsy stores will remain open, but new listings will be sporadic when I feel like creating them.

I have sold a large number of books in the last week, but it has barely made a dent in my backlog of books.  I will keep plugging away, and hopefully by June, the situation will be more under control.

I want to mention the current interest in and value of the Nancy Drew Digest series.  I refer to Nancy Drew #57-175.  I began collecting the softcover digests in around 1999 and the hardcover library edition digests in 2001.  

20 years ago, Nancy Drew books with dust jackets were extremely popular and sold for high prices on eBay.  Series book collectors who sold those books wouldn't have dreamed of giving a second look to the picture cover books or any other later formats.

It was around 10 years ago that I noticed some of those sellers finally listing early Nancy Drew picture covers for sale.  They had belatedly noticed that the picture covers were in greater demand than the books with dust jackets.  The demand shifts to later formats as the primary collecting group changes.  Most collectors used to be Baby Boomers.  Most Boomers now have complete collections or are downsizing.  Their favorite books, the ones with dust jackets, are no longer in great demand.

The current active collectors are primarily Generation X and Millennials.  Generation X collectors love the picture covers and may have some interest in the digests.  The Millennials certainly enjoy the picture covers and many of them are also quite fond of the digests. 

Naturally, the digests are going up in value.

The time is coming for the Nancy Drew Digest series to become the most favorite format.  The picture covers aren't going to recede in popularity anytime soon, but the digests have increased considerably in popularity.

Interestingly, I don't think most series book collectors and sellers have picked up on that quite yet.  But it has happened.

In the Facebook groups, there are the usual people who only like the books with dust jackets and speak poorly of everything else.  They typically don't get much pushback.  As always, those of us who like the later formats just stay quiet.  It's never worth it.

In my opinion, the Nancy Drew titles #57-175 are just as much real Nancy Drew books as #1-56 are.  Yes, I really do feel that way.  The titles are great.  The cover art is great.  The stories are usually good with many of them very good.  There are some stories that aren't good, but there are also some stories from the original 56 that aren't good.

The digests should not be overlooked by collectors or sellers.  The books aren't that easy to find.  The trouble is that softcover books destruct very easily.  I believe that many of them get thrown away or recycled, which means that far fewer survive than do hardcover books.

I have been listing the softcover digest books on Etsy for a few years.  The books sell very fast.  I could certainly be pricing them too low, but often, the books are not in good enough shape to justify pricing them at more than $5 to $7 each.  I'm not going to ask $15 or $20 for a book that has moderate wear.  I probably could get away with pricing the books somewhat higher, but I feel like, for the most part, I am pricing the books just fine.

I had 41 Nancy Drew Digest listings last week when I reopened my Etsy shop.  31 of them have sold.  I have now listed more of them, and I expect the books to sell fairly quickly.  Even though the last thing I need to be doing right now is buying more books, I went online and managed to source some small bulk lots of Nancy Drew Digest books.  I love helping people build their collections.  Most people don't want to mess with bulk lots since they end up with many extras, so I acquire the bulk lots and then offer the books myself.

I find that the digests are in high demand up to #128 and in moderate demand up to #159.  Take a look at this cover art gallery, and you'll see why #128 and #159 are the cutoffs.  Collectors are very influenced by formats.  I also believe that the most recent books, #160 through #175 are still quite abundant on the secondhand market, which keeps their value down.

On the subject of format, hardcover flashlight editions of #57-64 were issued by Grosset and Dunlap for a very short time.  Those books are in very high demand.  I continue to be mystified by how many people rabidly seek the Grosset and Dunlap editions of #57-64 but refuse to consider #65 and up as books worth having.  It's the format mentality.  Those people are missing out on most of the set since they are limiting themselves to one format.

Regarding value, all books up to #159 are worth more than the original cover price.  #160 through #175 are probably only worth the original cover price and some titles, like the excessively common #162, may be worth less than the original cover price.  #162 was packaged with one of Her Interactive's Nancy Drew games many years ago, which is why the book is everywhere.

Some cover art variants and some books are much more scarce.  Some second or third cover art versions for books from #57-90 are very hard to find.  #100 is much more scarce than the average title.  #113, 114, and 121 are also more scarce than most titles in the set.

And then there are the hardcover library editions.  I've blogged about them on a regular basis as I have worked on my set for the last 20 years.  Interestingly, I have had trouble selling my extras, except to just a few people who greatly desire them.  I hope that will change now that the softcover books are in such demand, especially since I currently have a large number of extras at this time.

I wrote about "The Surprising Rise of the Nancy Drew Library Edition" last year.  There are very few sales of the hardcover Nancy Drew Digest books, so it's hard to say whether interest has increased like it has for the library editions of #1-56.  I suspect that interest has increased, but there aren't enough recent known sales to have any idea.

So, I'm hopeful that I will be able to sell my extra hardcover Nancy Drew Digest listings on Etsy.  They ought to sell, since the softcover books are in demand.  The only reason I began collecting the hardcover digests was to have hardcover copies to read.  For that reason alone, the hardcover books should now begin to be very desirable since the softcover books are so popular.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

You will find an eclectic mixture of many series on eBay including some very scarce books.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

On Etsy, I focus on the Dana Girls, Nancy Drew, the Three Investigators, and Trixie Belden.  Currently, most of my Nancy Drew books are listed on Etsy. 

Since my eBay store was closed for seven months, I lost my Best Match search ranking on eBay.  My Nancy Drew books are not selling on eBay, since they are suppressed in the search results.  I do fine with all other series on eBay since eBay cannot hide my books when the search contains few results.

Since buyers can spot my Nancy Drew books easily on Etsy, I am listing most of them on Etsy for now.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

March 2021 Selling Update #3

In my last post, I photographed books that I gathered together to list on Etsy.  I mentioned that some books might not get listed if I found something wrong with them.  I have had to set aside all of the hardcover Three Investigators books for now.

I had forgotten that most of them have a strong musty odor.  I had already attempted to reduce the odor by using baking soda.  I did that for around two months with no reduction in odor.  

For the record, I have never been able to get the musty odor out of any book no matter what method I have tried.

I do, however, now have an ozone generator.  I purchased it recently because of the appallingly strong scented odor of a first printing copy of Judy Bolton #1, The Vanishing Shadow, that I acquired late last year.  I want to keep it instead of the worse condition book that I have owned for years.  However, the fragrance is so strong that I find it gross.  I cannot put the book on the shelf with my other books.  Even a mild fragrance in a book bothers me. 

Many people like to cover smoky or musty odors with fragrance before selling the books.  Just be aware that quite a few of us hate fragrance as much as the other odors, so we won't see the fragrance as an improvement.  It's not natural for a book to smell like freshly laundered clothing.  The book should smell like a book.

I exposed the Three Investigators books to some ozone last weekend.  I now need to wait to see how much of the odor comes back.  I can tell that some of it is still there, but I want to see how strong it gets.  I will then treat the books again.  This process could take a few weeks.  At some point, I'll get the hardcover Three Investigators books listed on Etsy.  

I will give a report about the ozone generator, but that's a topic for another post.  I will say now that you should not purchase an ozone generator without first researching the risks. 

The good news is that every other book that I pulled to list on Etsy was listed.

Last night, I opened both stores back up.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

The Etsy shop has my most popular books, primarily Nancy Drew, the Dana Girls, Trixie Belden, and the Three Investigators.  Those series do far better than any other series I have ever tried on Etsy.  The boys' series, including the Hardy Boys, typically do not sell for me on Etsy.  I have a couple of ideas about why that is the case.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

I also list Nancy Drew in great quantity on eBay.  The Dana Girls and Trixie Belden books that I list are ones that are harder to sell on Etsy, like international editions.

I list everything else on eBay, from all the boys' series to any series that is less popular than the core series that I list on Etsy.

I will be listing a large quantity of books on eBay in the coming days.  I do understand that when many desirable books show up for sale at once that it can be distressing if you cannot afford all of them.  Unfortunately, I cannot do anything about that.  I haven't sold in seven months, and I have cleared well over 500 of my own books from my shelves.  I have a large number of very desirable books to list.  I must work on getting them listed.

I am trying to pull books of different types so that the books might be desirable to different groups of people.  For instance, around an hour ago, I pulled out a set of Kit Hunter books, some books by Margaret Goff Clark, and some Dana Girls Swedish editions.  I hope that the books appeal to different groups of collectors.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

March 2021 Selling Update #2

I still plan to reopen my eBay and Etsy stores either on the evening of March 12 or on March 13.  Whether I do it on March 12 depends upon how I feel that evening.

I have not been well this past week.  I had to work late on Tuesday, which is no doubt part of the reason why I felt quite ill (deep fatigue) in the afternoon and evening on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  If that should happen this coming Friday, then I will wait until Saturday, March 13 to open the stores back up.

I have concluded that the first dose of the Moderna vaccine that I received on February 22 caused a significant disruption to my endocrine system.  I stated previously that I thought that the vaccine had caused a mild to moderate autoimmune flare.  The flare was at least moderate and perhaps a strong flare.  The deep fatigue that I have begun to feel is a delayed reaction to that flare.  How I feel at any given time is a reflection of what my thyroid hormone levels were 10 to 14 days ago.  This actually means that the symptoms from the flare may not have bottomed out yet.  I was vaccinated 12 days ago.

My endocrine system might have already recovered, but I might not feel that recovery for another week.  I will get the second Moderna dose in around 2 1/2 weeks, the exact date to be determined.  That will cause another disruption to my endocrine system.  The next six to eight weeks won't be easy.

Even with the reaction, the vaccine is well worth it.  I am happy that my body should be now approaching 50% immunity to the virus. 

I mention my situation so that you know that I have very good reasons for keeping to a specific plan and not selling before I am ready.  I find it odd that I was left alone all the months I was closed until I finally gave a specific date.  Within a couple of days of mentioning March 13, more than one person tried to get me to sell a book before that date on eBay.  One person has now tried twice.  I continue to decline, giving the date of March 13.  I am not going to budge.  I advocate for myself, and I will not give in.

I am working on preparing both stores for reopening.  I have been working on Etsy listings in recent days when I have felt well enough to do so.  I have added blue tweed Nancy Drew books as well as dust jacketed and picture cover Dana Girls books.  I now have over 150 inactive and draft listings on Etsy.  These books are the ones that have been listed.

I next will work on Trixie Belden and the Three Investigators.  The books in the next two photos are books that I have gathered to list on Etsy.

Probably all of them will get listed.  However, I sometimes will notice a significant flaw to a book as I prepare the listing.  When that happens, the book gets set aside and is not listed.  

If you would like to be notified of when I have new listings, you can follow my stores on eBay and Etsy.  Both sites have a heart pictured somewhere near the top.  On eBay, it says "save this seller" after the heart.  On Etsy, it says "favorite shop" after the heart.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

I will update again as I continue this process.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

March 2021 Selling Update #1

I know it's not quite March, but it's close enough as far as I'm concerned.

I decided that I must inventory and organize the books that are listed on eBay and Etsy.  It's been nearly seven months since I sold, and I have moved a large number of books around.  Buyers get upset when sellers cannot find books, so I must make sure that I can find every book.

Since the listings are not active, it's much harder to inventory them.  The inactive listings are mixed in together and not sorted by type.  I could run searches, but search results can overlap.  I took screen captures of the images and placed them in a document, which I printed.  I then used a marker to cross out each image as I found the book.  I also organized the books by series.

On Saturday, I did my Etsy shop.  I found all of the books and with little trouble. 

I had allowed my stock to dwindle greatly in July and early August since I knew that the shop would be closed for months.  I have to pay for each Etsy listing, so it was best not to have a full shop.

Today, I did eBay.  I knew eBay would be a bigger task, since I have a larger inventory and a wider variety of different series.  I didn't know that it would become an all-day event.

I first had to pack three boxes of books just so that I could get at my eBay books.  I now have 13 boxes of books, all of which will be listed for sale eventually.  In addition to the boxed books is an even larger number of extra books that are on shelves.  Those also must be listed eventually.  And I can't control my love of cheap bulk lots.  Two boxes of books will arrive tomorrow!

I found all of the eBay books without much trouble.  I did find that I had extra copies mixed in with the books, and I cannot account for why I had extra copies of several of the Nancy Drew original text picture covers in with the books that were listed.  I removed the duplicates.  

I thought I was finished with eBay, but I was wrong.  On Saturday night I changed from the legacy store to the current version.  I was concerned that hanging onto the legacy store which has been defunct for more than five years is probably a bad idea.  Even though I lose my links, it would be better to be able to use the current features instead of not having certain functionality.

After I finished my inventory, I was in the eBay hub, and the number of active listings began dropping.  Usually when items roll off after 30 days, the count stays the same since the item is automatically relisted.  I didn't know if something had changed in seven months or if changing from the legacy store had messed something up.

I knew that I had 217 listings.  I saw 202 listings, then it went down to 199, 198...  Oh, no!  They weren't showing as ended.  Where were they going?  I quickly used the bulk editor to end every listing to prevent any additional listings from rolling off.  I then kept checking, and I stayed at 198.  There were no new listings, and the ones that had disappeared were nowhere to be seen.

I then took my store off of the vacation mode to see if that would do something.  Nothing happened.  I knew that taking the store off vacation was risky, since the missing listings might reappear as active items.  

Was this a glitch or a delay?  I didn't know, but I printed out another copy of my images and began trying to figure out which listings had vanished.  About the time I neared the end of the list, I found that my open eBay store had four books active and for sale.  Oh, no!  I quickly ended them.  Okay, so then I had 202 listings, all of them showing as ended.  I figured that the rest would come along eventually.  

So I waited and refreshed my seller hub over and over.  I had to keep an eye on it for close to two hours.  The listings went live one or two at a time, every so often.  In one case, there was a gap of 40 minutes between new listings.  Each time listings appeared, I ended them.  Finally, I had a total of 217 ended listings.  Whew!

Ended listings remain on eBay's server for 90 days.  Since ended listings have a time limit, that's why I didn't end them in August.  I wanted the listings to be around when I was ready. 

I can now leave the store open with no listings in it.  The store will be ready for me when I decide to relist the items.

This is actually better, since eBay had changed something in the last two weeks.  I was told early in February that I was still in the legacy vacation mode and that eBay was switching me to the current "time away" mode.  Something changed recently, because buyers were beginning to ask me about my items.  The listings were not available for purchase, but buyers were apparently able to get to them somehow. 

It caused me some stress when I knew that people could see my listings and wanted them to be up for sale.  The stress is now gone since all of the listings are ended, and there is no way anyone can see them as active listings.

I still believe that I will open both stores on the night of March 12 or the morning of March 13.  We do learn tomorrow evening what the district's plan is for the rest of the school year.  Depending upon what the decision is (blended or all students back in the building), I could always change my mind.  I can't promise that I will be selling soon, but I hope I am.  I desperately need to get some books out of here...

On both eBay and Etsy, you can go to the main page of my store and follow me so that you are aware of when I have new listings.  Both sites have a heart pictured somewhere near the top.  On eBay, it says "save this seller" after the heart.  On Etsy, it says "favorite shop" after the heart.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy
Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

I will continue to keep you updated in this blog.

Edited to add:  I have learned that the disappearing listings is part of a major eBay glitch.  Apparently a lot has gone wrong on the site today.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

February 2021 Pandemic and Selling Update #2

I have guided my behavior through all of this with a personal risk assessment for any possible scenario.

The Risks - Know Them - Avoid Them

Early in the pandemic when school was closed, I stayed in my house for two months and had groceries delivered to me.  That now sounds silly, but it really wasn't.  In March through May of 2020, around 10% to 33% of locals wore masks in stores.  I did not wish to be around the many people who weren't masking.  Staying at home was the right decision at that time.

In the summer, I began going to the store once per week at 7 AM.  I found that at least 80% of customers wore masks.  As the summer progressed into fall, the percent increased to 95%.  At the current time, mask usage in Walmart early in the morning is consistently at least 95%.  I feel comfortable going in there.  I tend to avoid a certain local grocery store, because the mask usage is a good bit lower.  I also avoid most stores, just to keep possible exposure to a minimum.

I have been particularly worried about the virus because of my autoimmune thyroid disease.  Autoimmune diseases are a curse because the people who don't have them think that the people who do are exaggerating or imagining their symptoms. 

Even knowing that, I was still a bit surprised last year when I saw that no autoimmune diseases are considered risk factors for Covid-19.  I know that autoimmunity is a significant risk factor, even if they don't. 

I find it just a small consolation that this month, the American College of Rheumatology acknowledged the risk to those with autoimmunity:

"Although there is limited data from large population-based studies, it appears that patients with autoimmune and inflammatory conditions are at a higher risk for developing hospitalized COVID-19 compared to the general population and have worse outcomes associated with infection," said Dr. Jeffrey Curtis, chair of the ACR COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Guidance Task Force. "Based on this concern, the benefit of COVID-19 vaccination outweighs any small, possible risks for new autoimmune reactions or disease flare after vaccination."

Of course I've been right to be worried about the virus.

It's been a race against time to get vaccinated.  I have grown increasingly concerned as the weeks have passed, and more people have become lax about masks.  For the vast majority of our citizens, the wait is far from over.  

I did get the first shot of the Moderna vaccine on Monday.  I'm confident that I'm having an autoimmune flare caused by the vaccine.  I won't know for a few more days whether the flare will worsen.  Right now I consider it between mild and moderate, but I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up being a moderate flare.  It's worth it, however.  I would rather have an autoimmune flare than have Covid-19.  Besides, I have autoimmune flares at least four to six times per year, I'm quite used to them.  They are annoying, but I can handle them.

According to the New York Times, the Moderna vaccine is about 50% effective after two weeks.  That would be on March 8 for me.  I weigh the risk as I consider whether to start selling again on March 13, which is the first day of spring break.  

I will be more than 50% immune by March 13, and I can go to the post office when it first opens each day during spring break.  With my usual precautions, my risk will be low during spring break.  

On  March 22, I will be around 70% immune.  That is when I might have to begin going into the post office in the late afternoon when it is extremely busy, probably with people not wearing masks.  I am weighing the risks.  I'm really hesitant about resuming going into any public place in the late afternoon.  I have avoided doing that since spring break of 2020.  I'm not sure I want to break that rule just yet.

I could avoid the post office in the afternoon since my school is on an alternative schedule this year.  My first class is an hour later than usual.  Assuming that we continue with this schedule after spring break, then I could be waiting in the post office parking lot when it opens so that I could drop off my packages first thing.  I would then drive to work.  I would arrive at work around 10 minutes later than I would prefer, but I would still have around 15 minutes to get everything set up.

All things considered, I am strongly leaning towards reopening both stores on March 13.

I decided that I should start making some preparation to that end.  I need to edit the message that I have at the end of each eBay listing, since I will change the days upon which I will go to the post office.  The below image shows the message that I will place in my listings.  Click on the image to see a larger version. 

I must state that I don't accept offers since I get hounded by buyers who want me to lower my prices.  I ignore the requests, then some of them get pushy.  After I added the statement about not accepting offers last year, I received almost no offers.  Thank goodness!

I think I've been harassed with offers because prospective buyers find the listing with the lowest price and then try to get the seller to lower the price even more.  Since I tend to price my books more reasonably than some sellers, those buyers make me the target, trying to get me to give them an even better deal. 

I will add a statement about how to get combined shipping and when it will not be granted.  It's not right for buyers to purchase books individually hours apart and expect me to combine shipping after I have already packed the first bookRead this post for some examples of inconsiderate buyers who expected combined shipping.  I will not allow myself to be put in that position again.

I tried to use the bulk editor to replace the old message with the new one, but it didn't take.  I may have done something wrong, or more likely, the feature just isn't working for my account right now.  eBay suffers from odd glitches rather frequently.  

It will be quite a task, but I'm going to manually edit 218 listings in order to get the message changed.  This will be my project over the next two weeks.  

I have given directions in previous posts on how you can be notified when my stores reopen.

Go to this page on eBay.  Click on "Save this seller" on the line where my user ID appears.  That's all you have to do.

Go to my Etsy shop.  Right under where you see 2,055 sales, there is a box that has a heart followed by "Favorite shop" and the number of followers.  Click on that box to follow my Etsy shop.

I will, of course, publish a blog post when I reopen, but if you are concerned that you could miss that post, please follow the above steps.

Friday, February 19, 2021

February 2021 Pandemic and Selling Update

This winter has been remarkable.  In October, we had a horrific ice storm.  In December, we had the first back-to-back snowstorms (two days apart) that had ever occurred in central Oklahoma.  In both cases, we lost multiple days of school. 

And now this.  We have been the coldest in over 30 years and once again have had back-to-back snowstorms for just the second time ever in central Oklahoma.  What a year.  

I have only worked two days in the last two weeks.  This school year has been a debacle.  The upside is that I cannot catch Covid-19 while I am trapped in my house because the roads are impassable.  

We have been below freezing for 11 straight days, and I have been running the water for the entire time.  Today is the big day when we are supposed to go above freezing.  If the approximately 12 inches of snow on the ground would now melt, that would be great.

On the subject of the pandemic, my paranoia increased steadily beginning in late November.  That was when I began wearing two masks, an N95 mask underneath a cloth mask.  As time has passed since November, I have drawn my cloth mask tighter and tighter behind my ears. 

I have been amused in recent weeks as the idea of wearing two masks has gone mainstream.  Some of us have been doing it for months!

I noticed early this week in the frigid cold (-30 degree wind chill) that I could not feel any of the cold wind underneath my masks.  That's a good sign that my masks are blocking most particles.  I feel good about my odds of avoiding the virus.  I keep my fingers crossed that I can continue to avoid it. 

The last two weeks have been horrible, what with the weather and other things going wrong.  However, better days are ahead in the very near future.  I have an appointment to get my first shot of the Covid-19 vaccine on Monday.  

On January 24, I wrote:

I will resume selling books sometime between March 13 and June 1.  Either I must be immune after vaccination or the school year must be over, whichever comes first.  I do not expect to be vaccinated for at least another month, which means that selling as soon as March 13 is now in doubt.  

Whenever this subject comes up, I get asked to let you know when certain books will be sold.  Really, the easiest thing for both you and for me is for you to simply follow my online stores.  Whenever I open them again, you will receive an email telling you about my "new" listings, which will actually be my old listings from August 2020.  And then, as I do begin creating actual new listings, you will receive an email each day when I list new books.  It's that easy.

Go to this page on eBay.  Click on "Save this seller" on the line where my user ID appears.  That's all you have to do.

Go to my Etsy shop.  Right under where you see 2,055 sales, there is a box that has a heart followed by "Favorite shop" and the number of followers.  Click on that box to follow my Etsy shop.

Please follow the above directions if you want to be notified of when my stores reopen.  It's too much of a burden for me to be expected to contact a bunch of people. 

I also have had people request that I tell them when I list certain types of books.  I have around a dozen boxes of books plus a much larger than normal number of books on shelves that need to be listed.  I have no idea what I will list and when.  The boxed books will certainly not be first.

Please follow the above directions, and you will receive a message when I list new items.  You can also create saved searches on both eBay and Etsy where the sites will email you if the books you want are listed by someone.  I will need to list as many books as I can as fast as I can.  I will be slowed down if I am expected to contact people to tell them that I have listed certain books.  eBay and Etsy provide such an easy solution to the notification problem, but only when the buyer takes the initiative.

eBay is trying to force my hand and make me reopen my store.  I have had my eBay store on vacation since around August 9.  I let my store renew on September 1, and I have been paying the eBay store fee each month so that my listings and store remain intact.

Last week, I received this message from eBay.  

In September, we introduced our new Time Away settings with several improvements to help you schedule time away from your business on eBay and improve the experience for your customers.

We noticed that you’re currently still using the old holiday settings and wanted to let you know that we’ll be moving you to the new Time Away settings from March 2021.

With the new settings, please note that you will now have a maximum duration for your Time Away:

- If you continue to allow sales, your time away can be up to 15 days

- If you pause sales, your time away can be up to 30 days

If you want to continue hiding your listings for more than 30 days, you can use our “out-of-stock” option and reduce the available quantity of your listings to “0”. Your listing will then disappear from eBay search for up to 180 days.

This is really not a big deal, but it will require me to do one of two things.  I must change to time away (apparently eBay will force me into it where I will then have to make adjustments), or I must reopen my store.  I expect I will choose to reopen my store since I have been leaning towards doing it no later than late April.

My current thinking is that I will definitely reopen my eBay and Etsy stores between March 13 and April 30.  Whether I do it as soon as March 13 depends upon what my comfort level is with the pandemic when that day arrives.  March 13 is the beginning of spring break, so I will be able to go into the post office in the morning during that week, if I decide to reopen at that time.

I will have to consider whether I will feel comfortable going into the post office in the late afternoons beginning on March 22.  That is what will determine whether I will reopen during spring break or whether I will wait until sometime in April.  I have no idea what my comfort level will be in a few weeks.

My eBay listings still have my pandemic message that states that I go to the post office three days per week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  I have decided that Monday is a no-go.  There is no way I will be comfortable squeezing around the long line of people and between the people loitering near the counter in the late afternoon on Mondays.  I must avoid Mondays.

When I do reopen, I will have to change the days to Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  

Now I wait to see how I feel about selling in three weeks.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Bee Gees How Can You Mend a Broken Heart Documentary

The documentary The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart was released in December and can be streamed online via HBO Max.  

I didn't have HBO Max, but I could join for $14.99 per month.  I also could have signed up for a free trial and then cancelled after watching the documentary.  However, I wouldn't have a copy of the documentary.  Therefore, I purchased a DVD that was sent out for review purposes.  It didn't cost much less than $14.99, but the point is that I have a copy of the documentary that I can keep.  That's how I roll.

Since I purchased a DVD that was "for review purposes," I decided that I should review it here.  Besides, I am going to put up posts of some of my Bee Gees stuff at some point in the near future.  Adding photos to the new Blogger is quite a drag, so it's taking me awhile to motivate myself into finishing those posts up.

I didn't learn anything new about the Bee Gees from the documentary.  After all, I have read The Ultimate Biography of the Bee Gees, which is 688 pages long.  When I read it, I didn't skim at all.  

Since I know everything about the Bee Gees, I know what was left out of the documentary.  I will mention some of those things and link to some videos, for those who might want to know more of the story.

The biography has great archival footage with a lot of clips I hadn't seen before.  It's also a really good overview of the Bee Gees from 1967 through 1980, especially for those people who know little about the group.  The biography skims over the 1980s and has almost nothing from the 1990s and on.  That was disappointing, although I understand why they focused almost exclusively on the late 1960s and the 1970s.

The HBO biography barely mentions the beginning of the Bee Gees' career in Australia.  It would have been nice to have seen more clips from this time period, especially considering what precocious songwriters they were.  

"The Three Kisses of Love" - written by Barry Gibb and recorded by the Bee Gees in 1963 at ages 16 and 13 

Here is "Spicks and Specks" from 1966.  The video has a "preview only" watermark over it, but it's still a great video.

The movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band from 1978 is not mentioned at all, and this shocked me.  The movie is such a debacle that its inclusion in the documentary would have been highly entertaining.  As best I can guess, the HBO biographers wanted to go from Saturday Night Fever to the Spirits Having Flown tour and straight into the disco backlash without covering any other topics.  That part of the biography is quite compelling and sad.  The Bee Gees happily singing on stage during the Spirits Having Flown tour is juxtaposed with Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park in 1979.  I felt so sorry for the poor Bee Gees.

Back to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.  It is a musical starring Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees.  The entire plot of the movie is based on Beatles songs.  Many people, myself included, believe that it is actually what started the downfall of the Bee Gees.  The movie is.... extremely boring and quite stupid.  The movie couldn't have helped the Bee Gees' legacy leading into the disco backlash period.  Here's the trailer from a recent DVD release.  The trailer makes the movie seem like it might be worth watching.  It's not.  The movie is that bad.  

Most irksome is that the HBO biography completely ignores the Bee Gees' career after around 1985.  The Bee Gees's career has three phases:  pre-disco, disco, and post-disco.  When I initially became interested in the Bee Gees during the early 1990s, it was because of the disco songs.  When the only songs I knew were the disco songs, that was my favorite era since I knew of nothing else.  As soon as I purchased other albums, the post-disco era immediately became my favorite.  Currently, I like the pre-disco and post-disco eras equally the best.  Disco was only in first place when I initially was drawn to the Bee Gees.  Once I knew the entire song catalog, I moved away from the disco in favor of everything else.  That is true for a large number of Bee Gees fans, probably most of the hardcore fans.

Most people aren't aware of the Bee Gees' middle-of-the-road rock and pop from the post-disco era.  That's because the disco backlash has been a decades-long phenomenon from which the Bee Gees cannot escape.  The HBO documentary even seems to have been impacted by the disco backlash, since it largely ignores the last part of the group's career. 

Here is a sample song from each of the Bee Gees' five late career studio albums.

"You Win Again" - 1987 (The disco backlash was in full force at this time.  "You Win Again" was a hit worldwide, except in the United States where it was ignored.)

"One" - 1989

"Secret Love" - 1991 

"How to Fall in Love Part 1" - 1994

"Alone" - 1997

"This Is Where I Came In" - 2001

I used to be annoyed that people only think of the Bee Gees as a disco group and nothing else.  At this point, I no longer care.  I am gratified that the disco backlash has faded some.  Years ago when I was still quite annoyed, I took the time to figure out what percent of the Bee Gees' entire song catalog is disco.  I came up with around 5%, which means that 95% of the song catalog is not disco.  It's a shame for the Bee Gees to be hated for just 5% of their song catalog.

The HBO documentary is excellent for what it covers.  It really needed to be at least 30 minutes longer in order to include more of what was left out.  Also, a closing statement about how the Bee Gees legacy continues to suffer from the disco backlash might have been in order.  While the disco backlash is not nearly as bad as it once was, it is still in play.  For instance, Bee Gees songs don't get streamed nearly as much as the other hugely successful legacy acts. 

I hope that this documentary helps to lessen the sting of the disco backlash a bit more.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Nancy Drew Diaries #21 Danger at the Iron Dragon

In Nancy Drew Diaries #21, Danger at the Iron Dragon, Nancy and her friends begin learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Iron Dragon MMA.  On the girls' first night at the school, a dead rat is left on the front desk.  Nancy wonders if a rival academy is trying to cause trouble.

This appears to be the typical sabotage book, but it actually isn't.  It's curious that the entire Nancy Drew Diaries series is either sabotage or appears to be sabotage.  

While not sabotage, the plot of Danger at the Iron Dragon is a familiar one that has been used in a number of series books.  More on that later.

When I first began reading the book, I didn't really notice anything other than that the book was written by a decent author, as in not written by the person who wrote Heliotrope Lane or by any of the authors who are obsessed with restrooms.  Thank goodness!

Anyway, I began to notice things as I read the book.  The book appears to have multiple obscure Easter eggs in it, unless I am drawing conclusions where there should be none.  As best I can recall, the mention of a business named Crazy Eights on page 125 was what first gave me pause.  The name may not actually be an Easter egg since it was on a matchbox that featured a picture of cards.  Crazy Eights is a card game.  However, it did get me to start paying closer attention to all names used from that point on.  "Crazy Eights" is a column written by Michael G. Cornelius for the Nancy Drew fanzine The Sleuth, so that's why it caught my attention.

Did the mention of "Crazy Eights" cause me to fall down a rabbit hole and read too much into a bunch of coincidences?  Or could the ghostwriter of this book be knowledgeable about series books and have placed clues all through the book?  

I'm not sure what I noticed next.  The name Penny drew my attention although I did not initially think it meant anything.  I also noticed how often "chuckled" appears in the book.  I ran a search on the text and found that "chuckled" is used 12 times.  "Chuckled" is used excessively in the Nancy Drew books of the 1960s and 1970s and is generally absent in the Nancy Drew books from other time periods.  How odd for it to show up so many times in this book...

I then started paying close attention to all names as I continued to read.  On page 136, the pieces fell into place, and I guessed the solution to the mystery.  Right after I guessed the solution, I made the connection to a certain book and quit reading to go pull that book off the shelf.  So...

If you plan to read this book and do not want to have the entire plot spoiled, you need to quit reading right now.  I will be mentioning the solution to the mystery as well as other series books that have the same plot.  Most of you who are diehard series book fans have probably read the other books, so I'm less concerned about spoiling them.  I feel that Easter eggs representing the other series books were placed in this book on purpose, so I do have to mention the other books.

You've been warned.  Stop reading now to avoid having the mystery completely spoiled.

Some of you might recall a question that I posed in the Collecting Vintage Children's Series Books group in January that was a bit random, and I gave no explanation for the query since I didn't want to spoil the plot of this book.  My question was, "Which series books feature bank robbers who either use a tunnel or dig a tunnel to get into a bank vault?  One title is Hardy Boys #80 The Roaring River Mystery.  I recall that there are other books, but I can't bring them to mind."

I thought of The Roaring River Mystery right after I guessed the solution to Danger at the Iron Dragon.  In Danger at the Iron Dragon, a past case of Carson's is mentioned.  It involves bank robbers, Max and Ollie Ladrao, who used a tunnel to get into a bank's vault.  The Roaring River Mystery not only has the same plot, but it also has a character named Ollie.  What a strange coincidence. 

These are the other series books which feature tunnels used to rob banks.

Ken Holt #8 The Clue of the Phantom Car
Three Investigators #5 The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure
Three Investigators #14 The Mystery of the Coughing Dragon
Hardy Boys Casefiles #45 In Self-Defense

Hardy Boys Casefiles #45 In Self-Defense features a martial arts school, from which the robbers gain access to a bank via a tunnel.  This is another strange coincidence in that the setting of Iron Dragon actually matches In Self-Defense.

I thought more about the other books as I finished reading Iron Dragon.  Let's analyze the title, Danger at the Iron Dragon.  The title is styled like the Penny Parker book, Danger at the Drawbridge.  A character in Iron Dragon is named Penny.

The title contains "dragon," and so does one Three Investigators book with the same plot, The Mystery of the Coughing Dragon.  It is possible, of course, that "dragon" could instead refer to the Nancy Drew book, The Mystery of the Fire Dragon.  I can't rule that out.

Now, the word "iron" makes me think of the Ken Holt book, The Mystery of the Iron Box.  That isn't the book with the bank robbery plot, but another Ken Holt book, The Clue of the Phantom Car, does have the same plot.  "Iron" could be a nod to Ken Holt.

The Sherlock Holmes story, "The Red-Headed League," also features the same plot of a bank robber using a tunnel to get into a bank.  It's clear that authors who use this plot like to make a nod to Sherlock Holmes.  In the series books which feature tunnels used to get into banks, one of the robbers often has red hair.  Iron Dragon is no exception.  The bank robber in Iron Dragon has red hair, and he even fist bumps Nancy, as he says, "Redheads rule." 

In addition to the appearance of "chuckled" in this book, I also noticed an interesting passage about Nancy's concussions.

"Probably a concussion," I said, still slurring.  "I've had them before.  Liam hit me pretty hard."

Now Penny actually looked concerned.  "How many have you had before?"

I shrugged.  "I don't remember.  I might have gotten one a few days ago when I got mugged on the street."

Fans often point out how prevalent the concussions are in the older books and how odd it is that she is always okay.  It is curious that a passage mentioning concussions was placed in this book.  

Looking for Easter eggs added to my enjoyment in reading this story.  Without the Easter eggs, I would rate the book as good or between good and very good.  With the Easter eggs, the book is solidly very good.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Judy Bolton's Ghost Parade Spirit Masks

Judy Bolton is the one series that has inspired me to purchase items that I would otherwise not collect and that have nothing to do with series book collecting or any of my other interests.  There is just something about the objects featured in the books that causes me to want to own some of those objects.   

Around 20 years ago, I found a ceramic Christmas tree in a thrift store.  I remember that I felt a little silly buying it as the purchase was impulsive and random.  A ceramic Christmas tree is featured on the cover of The Secret of the Musical Tree.

Recently, I was looking at a certain seller's listings on eBay.  They had listed some bulk lots of series books that had sold at a reasonable price per lot.  I started looking at the seller's other items and saw Balinese, Indonesian, and Mexican masks.  

I thought of the "Indian heads" featured in The Ghost Parade.

The more I looked at the seller's listings, the more fascinated I became.  I didn't want to purchase any of their masks, because they weren't Native American.  I found myself wanting to have some Native American masks like the ones featured in The Ghost Parade, particularly the ones featured on the cover of the picture cover edition.

I started searching for Native American masks.  I didn't want authentic Native American masks.  Cost aside, it would not be right to purchase something like that, and it probably wouldn't be legal.  So that was not a consideration.  I specifically looked for listings that were upfront about the masks being reproductions.

Finally, I found a seller of reproduction spirit masks.  I looked at the photos and thought about it.  I was trying to resist, but I knew that I was going to lose the battle in the end.  I had to have them.  

My internal battle went on for around two to three days.  Finally, I bought the masks, and they arrived today.  

The spirit masks are made from carved wood and have been painted.  They are very nice.  They each have a hanger attached to the inside, and I will hang them on the wall once I figure out where to put them. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Bicycles North! A Mystery on Wheels by Rita Ritchie

Bicycles North! was written by Rita Ritchie and was published by Whitman in 1973.

Kathy and Russ go on a bicycle trip with their cousins, Dave and Laura.  The young people are to obtain water samples from the nearby tributaries as part of a professor's project to analyze pollution.  The group must ride a certain number of miles each day in order to take the samples at each designated location.  Each sample is to be mailed to the professor on the same day that it is collected.

The trip starts off in an ordinary fashion, until the young people cross paths with the Jordans, a couple traveling by boat who seem a bit rude.  Later, the young people become friendly with Tim, who has worries of his own.

As I read this book, I was struck by how well it would have worked as a Trixie Belden book.  The adventure and mystery in this story are just like the types of adventures that Trixie and the Bob-Whites have.  In particular, I thought of The Red Trailer Mystery and The Mystery on the Mississippi as I read this book.

The last time I read the Trixie Belden books, I found the teasing between Trixie and the boys to be a bit much.  I rather enjoyed reading a Trixie-like book that does not have excessive teasing.  Actually, it has no teasing.

This is an all-around enjoyable regular children's book.  It is very good.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Spirit Town by Suzanne Roberts

Spirit Town was written by Suzanne Roberts.  It was published by Whitman in 1972. 

From the back cover:


you, with your family, unsuspectingly moved to a weird, spirit-ridden town called Hangsaman, where everyone in town believed in witches and sorcerers and spells and the world of the dead?

Mimi had to face the evil there in Hangsaman, in this chilling tale about a ... SPIRIT TOWN.

Mimi moves to Hangsaman along with her mother and older sister, Julia.  Mrs. Wade purchased a house site unseen in Hangsaman, just certain that she would have a successful beauty parlor.  It turns out that success is not guaranteed in this strange new place.

This town is smothered by an oppressive sense of evil.  Three mediums live in the town, and they communicate with the dead.  Mimi doesn't believe it for a second, but Julia is immediately intrigued.  Julia's boyfriend was recently killed in Vietnam, and Julia hasn't been herself in months. 

Julia snatches onto the hope that she can speak to Chuck again.  Mimi tries to convince Julia that the mediums are fake, but Julia won't listen.  Mimi's insistence that the mediums cannot contact spirits raises their ire.  Mimi becomes frightened, certain that she is in danger.  Can she prove that the mediums are frauds before it is too late?

As I read the book, I was unsure whether the mediums would turn out to be fakes or whether they would turn out to be real.  The book has an overlying sense of mystery, danger, and the unknown from the very beginning.

This is a very good to excellent book.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Trying and Quitting 24 Books in the Last 24 Hours Including Many Windswept Books

In June 2020, I compiled this list of Windswept titles as I worked on building a set of the books.  I have all of the books on hand, and this is the correct order.  Some sites have some titles in the wrong order.

  1.  Don't Walk Alone, Mary Bringle, 1982
  2.  Someone Is Out There, Carole Standish, 1982
  3.  Girl in the Shadows, Miriam Lynch, 1982
  4.  The House of Three Sisters, Virginia Neisen, 1982
  5.  Yesterday's Girl, Madeline Sunshine, 1983
  6.  The Snow's Secret, Carole Standish, 1983
  7.  The Red Room, Kay Dobkin, 1983
  8.  The Silvery Past, Candice Ransom, 1983
  9.  Dreams and Memories, Lavinia Harris, 1983
10.  A Forgotten Girl, Elisabeth Ogilvie, 1983
11.  The Ghost of Graydon Place, Dorothy Francis, 1983 
12.  The Silent Witness, Meredith Hill, 1983
13.  The Empty Attic, Jean Francis Webb, 1983
14.  Murder by Moonlight, Dorothy Woolfolk, 1983
15.  The Girl Cried Murder, Dorothy Woolfolk, 1983
16.  House of Fear, Willo Davis Roberts, 1983
17.  Mirror, Mirror, Virginia Nielsen, 1983
18.  The Missing Sunrise, Joan Oppenheimer, 1983
19.  Dark Magic, Miriam Lynch, 1983
20.  Mysterious Summer, Marion Schultz, 1983
21.  Phantom Light, Susan Dix, 1983
22.  The Lost Holiday, Elizabeth Olsen, 1983
23.  A Date With Danger, Edward Hunsberger, 1988
24.  The Burned Letter, Conrad Nowels, 1984 25.  The Castle Murder, Vivian Schurfranz, 1984 
26.  The Secret, Carol Beach York, 1984
27.  Mystery Cruise, Carole Standish, 1984
28.  The Disappearing Teacher, Conrad Nowels, 1984  
29.  The Hidden Room, Jennifer Sarasin, 1984
30.  The Accident, Jesse Osburn, 1984
31.  The Warning, Dorothy Francis, 1984
32.  Secret of the Dark, Barbara Steiner, 1984
33.  Weekend of Fear, Virginia Nielsen, 1984
34.  The Mansion Murder, Vivian Shurfranz, 1984

Here are my books.  Almost all of them have the Windswept packaging.  The Girl Cried Murder is the only one that doesn't.

I read Someone Is Out There before I began building the Windswept set.  I enjoyed that book.  I took a risk in building the set based on my liking of that book.  Meanwhile, my reading of Sweet Dreams went very badly last year.  I started reading the Wishing Star set and got on quite well with those for a time.  I then had to quit.  

Months and months came and went.  

I have read 10 books this month that I have really enjoyed.  I want to read.  I actually want to read, which has mostly not been the case for the last year.  This is amazing!

I tried reading a couple of Whitman books.  Nope.  After some thought, I found where I left off in Wishing Star, which was #21 But This Girl Is Different.  Uh no, I can't do it.  I tried Wishing Star #22, 23, 24, 25, 26, and 27 last evening.  I read varying amounts of each book.  It's a "no" on all of them.  

I then switched to Windswept:  #1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16.  I did not like any of them.  I try to give the books at least a few chapters, but the authors open the books with excessive details about each girl's entire life or other stuff that probably has nothing to do with the story.  How boring!  For goodness' sake, I'm not reading the biography of a famous person.  I'm reading teen fiction that is supposed to be light reading.  Ugh.

There is a reason why the Sweet Valley series and Christopher Pike's books were so successful.  The authors got to the point on the very first page, immediately captivating the reader.  The authors didn't force the readers to slog through minutiae for chapter after chapter.  

I am actually reading Windswept #17 Mirror, Mirror, and I might make it through the book.  I also might not.  I have skimmed a little bit to get past certain unnecessary boring details.  I do think I will make it to the end even if I have to skim in places.

At least I'm going to be able to clear even more books off of my shelves.  Yay!

I will resume selling books sometime between March 13 and June 1.  Either I must be immune after vaccination or the school year must be over, whichever comes first.  I do not expect to be vaccinated for at least another month, which means that selling as soon as March 13 is now in doubt.  

Whenever this subject comes up, I get asked to let you know when certain books will be sold.  Really, the easiest thing for both you and for me is for you to simply follow my online stores.  Whenever I open them again, you will receive an email telling you about my "new" listings, which will actually be my old listings from August 2020.  And then, as I do begin creating actual new listings, you will receive an email each day when I list new books.  It's that easy.

Go to this page on eBay.  Click on "Save this seller" on the line where my user ID appears.  That's all you have to do.

Go to my Etsy shop.  Right under where you see 2,055 sales, there is a box that has a heart followed by "Favorite shop" and the number of followers.  Click on that box to follow my Etsy shop.