I write like
Jack London

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

End of the Year Review, Or Why Murphy Is the One, True God

Plans.

I had so many plans this year. Novels and shorts published under both names. And what is the end result?

Only one short story, a sword and sorcery fantasy, was published in someone else's anthology.

Selling a short should make any writer happy. Don't get me wrong; it does.

But right now, life has kicked me in the head again.

Today marks the end of the second week of my MIL's stay at a rehab care facility. She fell on their front porch the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and ended up in the hospital. The injuries from the fall itself weren't the problem per se, but other issues came to light, which resulted in a week's stay at the hospital before she was transferred.

And because no one in my husband's family can keep a straight head in a crisis, I'm the one keeping track of everything.

Which is the capper to a year of dealing with a variety of personal issues, mainly other people's.

It doesn't mean I haven't been writing. I've been tapping away on my phone while waiting on kids and parents at various appointments.

It doesn't mean I haven't been editing. There's a proof copy of a paperback sitting in my backpack, along with a highlighter and sticky notes, that gets pulled out when I can.

But right now, I'm angry and frustrated because it feels like I'm spinning my wheels on my career for the third straight year. It doesn't help that if you're reading this today, Wednesday the 30th, I'm probably sitting in MIL's room, listening while the medical team plans for her eventual release.

Why am I there? Because the two sisters-in-law who are supposed to have the power and responsibility for medical decisions probably didn't show up. Again. And FIL asked DH to be there, and DH asked me to be there, because they both are having trouble keeping track of all the doctors' opinions and appointments because they're stressed and worried and not thinking straight.

I really want to say, "Not my circus, not my monkeys," and bury myself in Sam's latest adventure because, well, cursed phones, a Kevin Smith clone, and the return of Baron Samedi are way more fun than wound care and blood sugar levels and blood oxygen readings.

Needless to say, nothing more will be released in 2015. Here's hoping 2016 will be a little better.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Monday Movie Mania - Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I think I have a split personality after watching the latest installment of the Star Wars saga. Thirteen-year-old me is ecstatic! Fifty-year-old writer me wasn't impressed.

I don't want to ruin the movie for anyone who hasn't seen it yet, so here's my only SPOILERS:

* * *


SPOILERS


* * *


1) I hate FUCKING CLIFF HANGERS! Unless you have a good enough story to overlook it. TESB works. TFA does not.

2) Harrison Ford finally got his wish.

3) There's a reason Mark Hamill isn't featured in the teasers. He does NOT have one FUCKING WORD of DIALOGUE!

4) Leia and Rey ROCKED!

5) J.J. Abrams kept to the spirit of the original.

I'll tell you right now. This isn't a complete story. I think that's my biggest problem with TFA. The original Star Wars had a complete story. Sure there was stuff before and stuff after, but the story as shown on the screen had complete plot and character arcs. It's why I use it an a prime example of the classic three-act structure for newbie writers.

But this? This kind half-assed of story crap is why readers hate a lot of indie writers.

So between my two personalities, I have to give Star Wars: The Force Awakens a 6 out of 10.

* * *

P.S. There's SPOILERS in the comments, so don't read 'em if you haven't seen it!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Have a wonderful day with your friends and/or family!


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Writing over the Holidays

This time of year you see so many posts from writers on how to be productive through the holidays.

I'm not going to give you any tips on writing.

Instead, put aside your journal or notebook or laptop. Go out and be with family and friends. Be with people that make you happy. Enjoy the season and whatever holiday you may celebrate. Eat good food. Play. Make merry.

I know far too many people who live with regrets. For the words not said. The hugs not given.

So go out and interact with real people this holiday season. Meet strangers. Ask deep questions. Laugh.

Even if you think you know someone, memorize the person they are now. See the little guy above? Not even that version of him will be around forever. So go out and love the people in your life and enjoy yourself.

Trust me, your imaginary friends will be waiting for you when you get back.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Happy Yule!

It's the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. So let's light up the night!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Holiday Music from My Youth

One I play every year, multiple times, until DH is begging for mercy.


Monday, December 14, 2015

I'm Away from My Desk, AKA End of Life Things You Don't Want to Think About But Need To

Blogging may be sporadic for an unknown amount of time. My mother-in-law is in the hospital, and DH and I are taking turns assisting my father-in-law with patient advocacy.

I am going to point out a few things based on my previous career as a probate and estate planning attorney and our current situation:

1) When you get to your later years, your spouse/partner may not be the best person to act as your medical representative. He or she may have theirs own health problems, or the emotional impact of their potential loss of you overwhelms them.

2) Whoever you choose as the person authorized to make medical decisions needs to be strong enough to support you and to make those decisions. Frankly, two of DH's sisters are supposed to be the decision makers for their mother in lieu of their father. One of them is scared of the possibility of her mother's death; the other is in total denial concerning the severity of the current problem. Which leaves me as the one acting as my mother-in-law's advocate, i.e. asking questions, consolidating information, weighing treatment options.

3) When a third party is forced to make decisions, this can cause fractures in family relationships. I'm lucky right now in that both of my in-laws are of sound mind. The problems for me happen when my mother-in-law is on painkillers and my father-in-law forgets to wear his hearing aids. Thankfully, no biggie, especially when my husband is a phone call away (or ten minutes from the hospital).

However, when I was practicing law, there was an instance where the daughter who was supposed to make decisions was camping for the weekend. The father had a heart attack, and the other daughter had to make end of life decisions because no one could get a hold of the first daughter. Last I heard the first daughter was still refusing to split the estate per the father's will because she accused her sister of murdering their father for his money.

So my not-legal-advice-or-representation suggestions are the following:

1) Have a clear-cut medical and estate plan.

2) Make sure you've chosen people who can follow through on your wishes.

3) Make sure everyone involved (especially immediate family members) is aware of the plan. Ask your attorney about ways to deter inter-family squabbles when you're gone.

As the late, great Benjamin Franklin said the only sure things are death and taxes. No one gets out of this world alive, so do what you can to make things easier for your loved ones.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Holiday Music from My Youth

Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song is much better than Phoebe Buffay's.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Whatever Happened to...?

That writer, the one you loved so much when you were twelve? Or twenty-eight? Or forty? The one from whom you bought every new release? Whatever happened to him/her? They seem to fall off the face of the earth.

Three of weeks ago when I was very sick and running a fever, I decided to clean out my Twitter account. Over fifty writers I followed at the beginning of my career in 2011 have disappeared. These include both trad published and indie published folks.

In the case of most trad writers, their publisher dropped their contracts. A few stated that they also publish as "So-and-So" in "Such-and-Such" genre and "Here's the link", but most don't even give that slight acknowledgment.

Some, both trad and indie, quite literally disappeared. Their websites no longer exist.  Others still have their books for sale, but nothing new had been published since 2012 or 2013, and neither their websites nor their blogs/Twitter/Facebook/etc. have been updated since then either.

There's no explanation. Nothing. Nada.

I don't know if they died. Or got burned out. Or if simply life got in the way.

It makes me a little sad. Such wonderful voices that made me happy, never to be heard from again.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Someone's Wrong on the Internet!

Duty Calls by xkcd, licensed under a Creative
 Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.
The generic cartoon by xkcd definitely fits the indie thought process lately. If someone, anyone, still submits to a traditional publisher, then they are WRONG! STUPID! MORONIC!

In other words, dishing out the same grief trad published writers gave indies five years ago.

*sigh*

Like this kind of crap helps anybody.

If you're reading this blog because I'm pro-indie, I hate to be the one who breaks the news to you, but...

I'm traditionally published, too.

And if you're reading it because I'm trad published, well, guess what?

I've said this before and I'll say it again and again and again.

The path you take depends on a lot of factors. Most particularly, what is your ultimate goal?

Some writers simply want to write. They'll never publish for others to read. More specifically, they don't want to. That's a perfectly fine path, the one Emily Dickinson took. (Just make sure you destroy your work before you die. Otherwise, your little sister may just publish your work anyway.)

Some writers just want to share their stories without thought of money. That's the purpose of things like fan fiction and Wattpad. Again, perfectly fine paths.

Some writers want to make money but like someone else to deal with the business details. That's fine, too.

Some writers like the business details as much as they enjoy the act of writing. Again, simply a different path.

No one path is perfect for everybody. The judgmental attitudes I've seen on the internet are disappointing to say the least. The question is have you, the writer, aligned your goals with what best fits your personality.

I admit I'm a super, A+++ control freak. I need to understand how things work, which is why I enjoy indie publishing. Also, I don't have to worry about deadlines when shit hits the fan, like Thursday when we had to put our beloved beagle to sleep or yesterday when my MIL fell and needed to go to the hospital. (Thank goodness, she didn't break anything, but if you're reading this over lunch, I'm over at her place, staying with her while my FIL goes to his doctor's appointment.)

I generally submit a couple of short stories a year just to stay in the practice of writing to someone else's specifications. By my own choice, especially if it's an editor I want to work with, a subject matter I want to try, or it's a way to market my other projects.

But this is my path. Not anyone else's. I'm not going to say YOU'RE WRONG when you do something different.

If you ask me for any writerly advice, the first thing I'll ask you in response is "What is your ultimate goal?" And I'll craft my answer based on your plans, not mine. If it's a question I've been asked more than once, it'll end up as a blog topic, and I'll try to make sure the appropriate caveats are in place.

HOWEVER (you knew there was an exception), I won't let my indie friends tear apart my trad friends or vice versa. And it's been happening with more and more frequency lately, even if most of it has been privately said.

Most times, I try to be gentle in my response to people, but frankly, that attitude is flying out the window. What someone else does in their writing career, DOES NOT AFFECT YOU IN THE SLIGHTEST.

Seriously, just let it go.

If you can't deal with both sides, then you probably shouldn't be reading this blog.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Happy Hanukkah!

May you have a joyous holiday! Shalom!

Friday, December 4, 2015

RIP Dax

I had some publishing topics for today, but everything paled when we had to take our beloved beagle, Dax, to the vet yesterday. We thought it was an infection of some kind. It wasn't. His kidneys had failed from old age.

For our previous dogs, we had some warning. We had time to make the decision.

Our vet was apologetic when he walked into the exam room with the results of the blood work. There was really nothing he could do. Oh, sure, he could admit Dax to the doggie hospital. Put him on IVs and some drugs to try to flush out his system. At best, it would give him one more miserable month.

We couldn't do that to him. We did ask for a couple of hours to pick up our son from school. Give Genius Kid a chance to say his goodbyes. We had an hour and half at home to try to deal with the impending doom.

GK refused to go back to the vet's with us. He didn't want to cry in front of other people. DH broke down after the deed was done. I had to be the one to make some decisions about disposition, etc.

I didn't want to get up this morning. It's weird not hear the jingle of Dax's tags. The warning moan/growl when DH and I are talking in bed way past Dax's bedtime; his way of telling us to shut up and go to sleep. The whisper bark he does when he's chasing squirrels in his sleep.

It's weird not to have a four-footed furkid around. It's been twenty-one years since it's been this quiet at home. I don't like it, but I don't think my heart can handle losing another one.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The End of NaNoWriMo 2015

After an excellent start on Ravaged for National Novel Writing Month, I crashed and burned in the middle of November. First came the week of hell from the coordinated Daesh (I refuse to call them by the other name because it is the Greek name for one of my deities, and I find it disrespectful that the media calls them that) global attacks.

Yes, folks, there were more than just the ones in Paris.

I admit I was distracted by all this because I was watching them succeed in ways I couldn't believe. They want to seed their hate, and we let them. We help them. Real life elements of issues I address, or plan to, in the Justice series. But that's a discussion for another place and another time.

I managed to get back on track the following week, only to be blindsided by a penicillin-resistant bacterial infection. Fever, chills, incredible pain, sleeping twelve hours a day. Two trips to the doctor. Serious concern that the infection had settled in a major organ. The sulfa drugs kicked in time for cooking Thanksgiving dinner, but I had to take frequent breaks during preparations and then a major nap after our guests left.

It was the 29th before I could hold a coherent thought. The grand total was 18,015 words. I didn't bother updating the last 200, which I wrote after the wild finish to the Browns-Ravens game last night.

Some people would consider this a NaNo failure. I don't. My goal was to get a good start on the novel while juggling the demands of editing and proofing a couple of finished projects. I didn't succeed on the second half, but it just means my to-do list rolls over into December, and I keep chipping away at my projects.

Here's the thing to remember: I have finished novels. I know how. And Ravaged will be finished. I just can't tell you when right now.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Monday Movie Mania - Spectre

James Bond is back for his twenty-fourth outing. SPECTRE is back. Bond's arch-nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld is back. The long-haired pussy is back. And yet, the whole thing left me rather wanting.

PROS
1) The storyline gives Blofeld a rather personal reason for hating Bond beyond the usual "He ruined my plan for world domination!"

2) As in Skyfall, the new M and Moneypenny don't merely send James on a mission. They take active roles in the plot, as does Q. The four work as a team for once.

3) A cameo from Dame Judi Dench!


CONS
1) The opening sequence during the Los Dias de los Muertos Festival in Mexico City, while it had spectacular stunts, could have better used to set the mood.

2) I actually wanted Moneypenny and Q to ditch Bond and deal with the situation themselves. The parts with Bond dragged the plot or were boring.

3) No offense to Lea Seydoux, but I'd rather have seen Monica Bellucci as the main Bond girl. She and Daniel Craig had much more on-screen chemistry.


Overall. Spectre is let down after Skyfall, but it's still a solid Bond film. I give 7 out of 10 stars.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

New Stuff I'm Listening to

Passive Guy posted a video by this lovely lady, and I fell in love with her music.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Happy Life Day!

Remember being a kid in 1978 and desperately wanting more Star Wars?

Remember when we got the Star Wars Holiday Special at Thanksgiving?

Remember the late, great Bea Arthur arguing with aliens?

It's ba-a-a-a-ack!

Click here to watch because I wasn't allowed to embed it.

Friday, November 20, 2015

More Thoughts on How to Know If You're Ready to Publish

Well, I got about 700 words in on Wednesday before I ended up at my doctor's with a massive UTI. I started to get angry about getting nothing done over the last two days until DH pointed out with my chronic situation, it takes me longer and longer to recover from any problem, bacterial or viral. It doesn't help that I'm developing nasty side effects to drugs I've taken before with no problem.

So I've been crashed out on the couch alternating between Bones, Grimm, Supernatural and Leverage for the last forty-eight hours, except when I'm sleeping twelve hours straight.

What does this have to do with knowing when you're ready to publish?

I finally got the energy a bit ago to crack open my laptop and take a gander at the notes my beta reader e-mailed me concerning A Question of Balance. All three lines. Yep, only three lines concerning the first couple of chapters.

So I asked, "Where's the rest of the notes?"

"Um, there aren't any."

I'm a little flabbergasted. "You can't tell me the book was perfect."

"Well, I got so into it I forgot to take notes."

This isn't the first time that's happened to me. I've have various readers, editors and friends say something similar. That's what I want. To tell such a spellbinding story the reader doesn't see the boo-boo's.

I'm not saying you shouldn't line edit or proofread your work. By all means, please fix the typos! But if your story is so compelling your beta reader doesn't notice the typos, then you're ready to send your baby out in the world.

Just make sure it has a clean diaper first.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

NaNoWriMo - The Half-way Point

I'm still plugging along with Ravaged. Before I start this morning, I'm at 17,065 words. Yep, I know. At the 18th, I should be around the 28K mark.

Honestly, I got distracted over the weekend by the events in Paris. I'm usually pretty good about keeping distractions at bay, but this time, I was more worried about the ramifications here in the U.S. This isn't a political blog, and I won't get into it any more than that.

The other problem, which is more of a real problem, was tying events in Ravaged back into the events of Blood Sacrifice. It's been two years since I even read my own damn book, I'd forgotten a lot of details. I spent a good chunk of writing time yesterday re-reading the scenes regarding the Sunshine Believers. For a group that were intended as throw-away bad guys in Zombie Love, they've become quite integral to the overall plot.

Can I catch up and "win" this year's NaNo? That's a good question. I don't know, and I'm not going to worry about it. What I'm going to do is plunge ahead because the shit's in the story is about to hit the fan.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Monday Movie Mania--A Day Late

"The Last Witch Hunter poster" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia
I overslept yesterday. I really overslept. As in I woke up at 11:50 a.m.

Yep, that late. Which is why you're getting Monday Movie Mania on a Tuesday.

DH and I went to The Last Witch Hunter on my birthday weekend. The basic premise has so much potential. The movie had some fantastic actors. The special effects were top notch. Yet, the film felt flat.

PROS
1) Vin Diesel said in an interview that this was the first movie he made after Paul Walker's death. Vin's performance in the scenes where Kaulder deals with his family's death shows Vin channeling his real grief into his character.


CONS
1) Yeah, only one plus. The rest of Vin's performance was stiff and wooden compared to his usual subtle charm in the Fast & Furious franchise or even my favorite, The Pacifier.

2) The supporting cast consisted of incredible actors (Elijah Wood, Michael Caine and Rose Leslie) that were given incredibly crappy dialogue and their characters poor motivation for their actions and decisions.

3) The plot itself could have been a retread from any of a dozen half-assed D-movies. Nothing surprising, nothing really adventurous or questionable was done. It would have even been better if Wood's character had given up the priesthood for Rose Leslie's witch.


Overall, this is one of those movies you have on in the background on a rainy afternoon while doing your taxes. Yep, that's how much thought you'll need for this one. But it's still better than the Worst Movie Ever, aka Happily Never After.

I give it 3 out of 10 stars.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Friday, November 13, 2015

Why I Never Saw Jem in the Theaters

I debated over whether to see Jem & the Holograms. Initial reviews were terrible, but often I love things that the critics hate. I was hesitant because of the alterations to the animated series' storyline. I'm glad now that I didn't go.

Jem & the Holograms is the lowest grossing movie of  2015. Not only that, but Universal pulled it after two weeks in national release. A movie with a $5m budget managed to bring in only $2m in the U.S. Universal hasn't released it to the rest of the world, and there's some debate about whether it will go ahead with the February premiere in London.

That's sad. That's truly, truly sad. (Yes, I'm mocking here.)

Every other Hasbro property movie has eight to nine figures dumped into it. Not Jem. Hell, they couldn't even give it an original story, much less the animated series' origin story. No, Jon Chu and company ripped off Justin Bieber's personal history. *shudder*

Here's a video review by RebelTaxi, which is alternately funny, despairing and bittersweet over what could have been:


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Breaking Down and Advertising

I really thought I wouldn't succumb. Over the last year, I tried to hold back for as long as I could. But I finally realized I wasn't following my own advice. Say it with me everyone!

Publishing is a business. Treat it like one.

I've provided links to various retailers where my books are sold as a convenience for me and for readers. For a long time, I wasn't getting anything out of the deal. Basically, I was leaving extra money on the table. I realized I needed to change when I was adding the link for Sword and Sorceress 30.

So, to that end, I've added my Amazon Associate ID to the Amazon links on this website for U.S. e-books and trade paperbacks over the last week.

What does this mean to you?

If you click on one of my U.S. Amazon links, I will get a few cents for anything you buy on Amazon over the next 24 hours EXCEPT my own books. Weird, I know, but that's Amazon's rules.

There WILL NOT be any extra cost to you.

What happens? Let's say you click on the U.S. link for Blood Magick and buy it. I don't get anything because it's my product. But if you think, "Hey, I want Jonathan Moeller's Child of the Ghosts, too!" Nope, I don't get anything because it's free. (Which is totally fine, and if you haven't read it, you really should!)

But then Fluffy headbutts your tablet, and you remember, "OMG! I need cat food!" So you order ten cans of Friskies at $1.00 per can. You pay your $10.00, and I get 4% or $0.40 out of Amazon's pocket, not yours.

Cool, huh?

Over the rest of the year, I'll probably set up affiliate accounts with the other bookstores. In a way, it sucks, but I swear not to post flashing, annoying ads like Facebook and Google.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Special Preview from SPECTRE

I love James Bond and can't wait to see the new film. Here's a special preview of SPECTRE from Stephen Colbert.


Friday, November 6, 2015

Sword and Sorceress 30 Release Week!

It's out! Sword and Sorceress 30 is now available in both e-book and print. The volume contains my second Justice short story, "Diplomacy in the Dark."

So far, the e-books are available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and the print book is available online at Amazon. If you want to support your local indie bookseller, you can always have them order a copy through Ingrams.

Hopefully, I'll have the full-length novel, A Question of Balance, out soon as well. It's currently with my beta reader, who also happens to be the timekeeper for their local high school's soccer teams. Unfortunately, regional tournaments started last week. ARGH!

I shouldn't complain since it's totally my fault for not getting the story to my beta sooner. And I totally rely on this person because without them, I wouldn't have licensed the two short stories to my favorite anthology!

What I can give you a sneak preview of is the cover from For the Muse Designs. Cool, right?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The End of the Elloras Cave Versus Dear Author Saga

I waited a while before I wrote this post to collect my thoughts. My initial opinion is What A Gigantic Waste of Time!

That's the former lawyer in me raising her bleary head. Between a little litigation experience and clerking for a county judge, I figured the suit would end on October 22nd after perusing the latest documentation of the case. That was the date scheduled for the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment Hearing. I hate it that I was right. Except instead of a judgment, the parties settled prior to the scheduled hearing.

Here's my previous thoughts on why EC's lawsuit wasn't a good idea and how the whole fiasco damaged the principals' reputations.

Of course, the settlement has a non-disclosure agreement so neither party can talk about the actually terms. There's quite a few people upset over the settlement, thinking DA has paid off EC.

I really doubt that's the situation Based on my experience (which like this case, I can't talk specifics because of NDAs) and after wading through the pleadings and exhibits, my GUESS is the parties agreed to walk away and pay their own attorneys' fees.

Again, that's my GUESS. The only people who know for sure are Jennifer Garrish-Lampe, Tina Engler and their attorneys.

The important thing is that real discussions of events and companies within the publishing industry was not chilled. Silencing people helps no one in the fucking business. That fear of being blackballed is why so many publishers' contracts contain so many terms detrimental to writers.

I really can't add anything that other blogs haven't already covered, and covered much more extensively and eloquently. If you're curious, check out the following:

The Passive Voice
Deidre Saoirse Moen
Courtney Milan

All I can say is thank Goddess it's over, and I hope the other EC authors wanting their rights back get them. Unfortunately, I doubt if the authors, editors and artists will ever see another penny of what they are owed.

Monday, November 2, 2015

It's NaNoWriMo Time!

Yesterday started National Novel Writing Month, a crazy, fun-filled thirty days where writers, from newbies to multi-decade vets, plan to write a 50,000-word novel. Some succeed; some don't. In the end, it's really a question of learning to push your limits.

In my case, it's a question of learning how to pants. In other words, trusting my subconscious instead of planning every minute detail. (In case, you haven't figured it out, I'm an A++ personality. LOL)

On top of practicing my pantsing, I'm working on juggling  the various elements of being a publisher. To that end, I need to get my daily word count in for Ravaged, which is Book 7 of the Bloodlines series and my NaNo project for 2015.

On top of that, I'm still proofing the print copies of Blood Magick and Zombie Love, waiting for my beta reader to get back to me about A Question of Balance, approving the e-book cover of A Question of Balance, send out prizes for a blog contest for Alter Ego, work on Zombie Goddess (which is worked on AFTER the daily word count of Ravaged) because it needs to released first, and squeeze in a few words on Sacrificed while waiting in line to pick up Genius Kid from school.

And that last one brings me to another observation. Some writers think they can only write in the perfect room at the perfect temperature, wearing the perfect clothes, sipping the perfect drink and nibbling the perfect chocolate.

Um, no. That's actually a good way to fuck yourself up as a writer.

I'm currently writing Sacrificed on the note function of my ancient iPhone 4 during the five to ten minutes I'm sitting in the car pick-line of the local high school. I can't focus for two hours with my tea like I prefer. Yet, I've written around 5K in those few minutes four-five days a week since school started around August 15th.

So even if the idea of writing 50K in thirty days freaks you out, remember there are other ways of working toward your goal.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sword and Sorceress 30 Is Available for Pre-Order!

The Kindle version of Sword and Sorceress 30, with my Justice Anthea story "Diplomacy in the Dark", is available for pre-order! As far as I know, there will be a paperback version, but it's not showing on any of the retail sites yet. But if you want instant delivery to your reading device on November 2, get your order in now!

In the meantime, I'm busting my ass on editing the full-length novel!

(Not that I'm excited about this or anything. *grin* )

Saturday, October 24, 2015

What I Listen to in October

While the video itself isn't exactly Halloween material, it's my favorite song on the Practical Magic soundtrack. It's what plays in the background when the aunts cast the love spell on Sally.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How to Know When You're Ready to Publish

"Am I ready to indie publish?"

I've gotten that question from a number of newbie writers in both of my guises. Lots of folks are skipping the trad submission merry-go-round. Good for them! But that doesn't mean craft goes out the window.

Frankly, my answer for each person would be "It depends." So here's some thoughts on the matter:

1) Is your story coherent?

Seriously, does it have a beginning, a middle, and an end? Does the narrative flow seamlessly from section to the next? Unless you're writing some experimental, existential bullshit, your story needs to make sense to the average reader.

2) Are your details consistent?

Does the hero's name change from John Doe to Steve Smith for no apparent reason? Do the heroine's eyes change from hazel to blue without contacts? If it's Tuesday and the hero and heroine make a date to meet in three days, why are they meeting on Sunday? Those little logic traps can jerk a reader out of a story. Readers don't like being jerked.

3) Is your grammar, punctuation and spelling solid?

See what I did in this question? I left out the fucking Oxford comma. I hate the fucking Oxford comma. That's a matter of style preference. But if you think "punctuation" should be spelled p-u-n-k-c-h-u-a-s-h-u-n, then you might want to got through your manuscript again.

4) This is a marathon; not a sprint.

Don't let yourself get into a rush. Don't skip steps unless you are consciously doing it for a particular reason. The rush thing is U.S. corporate mentality which was hammered into us in public schools or through assimilation in cubicles. No one's going to take indie publishing away from you. Put out the best product you can.

5) Don't let fear slow you down.

This is the opposite of #4 above. If you are obsessing over the first three to the point you WON'T publish your work, perfectionism has taken over your brain. It's a form of fear. Fear of being judged. (You will be anyway.) Fear of being ridiculed (Yeah, that will probably happen, too.) Fear of putting a little piece of your soul out into the world. But guess what? There's going to be more people who like your story and encourage you, and that's much more important.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

What I Listen to in October

I know I've done this before, but LET'S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN!


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Pornocalypse 2015 Has Officially Begun

Yes, Amazon's panties are on fire again.

I don't have the energy to even type my thoughts, so go read Selena Kitt's analysis.

Books about sex are bad, and are hidden to prevent people like me from corrupting young minds. Yet, I can find Bondage Duckies from the main shopping page. And people wonder why I don't go Select. *facepalm*

Sometimes, Amazon just sucks.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

And Then There Were Paperbacks

On Sunday, October 11, I started uploading the new versions of Blood Magick to the various online retailers, and yes, this includes the brand spanking new trade paperback version.

Nothing's been changed on the pages except typo clean up. The big difference as you can see is the lovely new covers for the Bloodlines series by the lovely Elaina at For the Muse Designs.

(TM) Angry Sheep Publishing
Also, Angry Sheep Publishing's logo is on the spine of the trade paperback version. That pissed little sheep makes the enterprise feel business-like.

Official.

Real.

The whole thing is incredibly scary and absolutely thrilling all at once.

I'm taking my time on this, uploading a new book every two weeks. This gives me plenty of time to make sure things are right and in the places they are supposed to be.

I've taken a good, hard look from a business viewpoint, which means investing resources in this company and raising prices. And I think it will all be worth it.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

What I LIsten to in October

This music highlights one of the best opening sequences of a movie ever. New Order's Confusion from Blade.



Then there's the movie scene itself.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Busy, Busy, Busy

I've been overwhelmed with editing the finished books I want to get out this year, writing new manuscripts, and keeping up with my freelancers (who always seem to be light years ahead of me). On the good side, that means lots of stuff coming out under both of my author names later this month.

On the bad side, I'm not keeping up with any of my blogs (as I'm sure you have especially noticed here). So I'm cutting back on posting to Wednesdays and Saturdays only for the rest of 2015.

Well, I take that back. You'll get the occasional Monday Movie Mania post because there's lots of movies I want to see in the near future, starting with October 23rd's releases of Vin Diesel's The Witch Hunter and Jem & the Holograms: The Movie.

In the meantime, I strongly suggest Jane Friedman's condensation of what she got out of the 2015 NINC conference.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

What I Listen to in October

The Smiths' "How Soon Is Now" was featured in the move, The Craft, and was the main theme for the TV series Charmed.


Friday, October 2, 2015

When Trad Publishers Start Thinking Like Indies

Today's post is a little later than usual because I needed to really think about the situation I want to address. The main difference between trad and indie publishers is their marketing concept: the produce model versus the longtail.

The produce model consists of leaving a book on the brick-and-mortar book shelf for a limited period of time. It makes sense because the physical constraints of the bookstore can hold only so many paperback and hardback items. Trad publishers have view e-books the same way.

The longtail means leaving books (both e-book and POD books which makes sense for indie publishers because of the high cost of a print run and the waste of the return system) available on the virtual shelf forever because computing space is incredibly cheap these days.

Because of the produce model, the trad publishers have licensed rights to thousands of books that they aren't bothering to sell. And they finally noticed this.

Two weeks ago, Publishers Weekly had an article about Simon & Schuster's CEO Carolyn Reidy and her address at the BISG annual meeting. This is the quote that has me concerned as a rival publisher: "S&S makes its backlist title available to subscription services, she said, emphasizing that these services do not cannibalize print sales and that they also drive discovery."

It's not the subscription service part that worries me. It's the fact that she's noticed that S&S has thousands of books they can dump back into the market and not ruin their front list. In other words, a trad pub CEO has noticed the long tail and plans to use it.

Can S&S pump all these e-books into the market at once? No, not when they've cut personnel to the bone. In theory, they would also need to review contracts to see if they have the rights, which would also take time. Big corporations are more likely to put out the e-books anyway and tell the little, powerless authors to go ahead and sue them.

Even when/if a trad published author manages to get their rights back, it takes time to get their books into e-book shape. Kris Rusch has a good breakdown on how hard it is for indies to keep up with only five to ten books. She also points out that trad publishers are now competing with indies for ad space in places like BookBub., which a couple of years ago carried only advertised deals on indie books. They even emphasized in a recent blog how they preferred older books for their adequate reviews. (And I can't for the life of me find the page that I had thought I bookmarked. When I do, I'll add the link.)

And make no mistake, older books being reissued is happening. In today's Amazon Kindle Daily Deal, a book I've been searching used bookstores for ages popped up: Michael Moorcock's The Eternal Champion. $1.99 for the e-book of a novel that was originally published in 1970. The reader is me *SQUEED*. The indie publisher in me said, "Holy shit."

Granted, Titan Books, which has the reprint rights to The Eternal Champion, is a smaller publisher than S&S, but S&S and the rest of the Big 5 could do this eventually. If writers think the indie tsunami ruins their discoverability now, wait until the large publishers get their reissue machine chugging.

If they do. Just because a CEO has noticed a potential revenue stream, it doesn't mean that they'll take full advantage of it. But I really do think this is the last nail in the indie gold rush.

Does that mean we can't compete? Hell, no! But as I've repeatedly said, we have to be better than the trad pubs to get attention. To that end, I'm working on new covers for my books as we speak.

Indie publishing is a business; we have to treat it as such if we want to compete.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Back in the Saddle!

Things on the home front finally settled down last weekend. Our impromptu houseguest moved out ten days ago, and as of Monday, September 20, I'm back to working full-time.

Hallelujah!

Or it was. On Friday, we found out my father-in-law needed to go in Monday to have a pacemaker surgically implanted. Then Genius Kid came down with some bug Saturday night that required a trip to our doctor.

On the plus side, I got a lot done last week. I've prepped Amish, Vamp & Thieves for my formatter, entered the data for the paperback's ISBN, finished the front matter and delivered everything to her. Bless her, she had everything back to me on Sunday for review.

Next up is getting Blood Sacrifice ready for paper printing.

A Question of Balance is done, and is in what I call it's resting phase. That means I write something else before I start editing. Sort of like a palate cleansing. While I hope to have it ready around Sword and Sorceress 30's release date, I won't make any promise because I'll jinx the process. *smile*

So what am I doing to cleanse my palate? Zombie Goddess hit 27K last week. I'll work on it for the rest of September and October, keeping my fingers crossed that I get it done before NaNoWriMo starts. For this year's NaNo, I want to get the bulk of Ravaged, Bloodlines #7, done.

The 888-555-HERO series is currently on hold. My co-writer Laura Kirwan bowed out for personal reasons, but she released her rights to the story and characters and gave me her blessing for finishing the project. If I can get the other three books mentioned above written, edited and published by the end of the year, I'm hoping to pick it up again in January.

It'll be a busy last three months of the year, but it really feels good to be working again. Now, if I can only keep everyone healthy and out of my hair...

Monday, September 28, 2015

How Many Banned Books Have You Read?



Yes, it's Banned Books Week, and I promote it as a parent.

That's right. As a parent, not as a writer.

So many of the books that misguided parents and teachers try to prevent kids from reading are actually wonderful teaching tools. Why? Because they can help both kids and adults broach painful, difficult subjects.

First off, adults foolishly believe that if kids don't have access to these books, then they won't perform the actions depicted within. Unfortunately, our children are already facing these situations whether we like it or not. (Even those who are homeschooled. Don't kid yourselves. I'm a homeschool mom, too.) By talking with our children (not talking TO them), we can give them the skills to protect themselves.

Second, adults don't like depictions of people they don't approve of, and they think if they don't acknowledge these people, their children will never encounter them. I hate to tell these folks, but such encounters are hard to avoid in the modern world. All that happens is they infect their kids with their fear. Then they're shocked when it's their own son or daughter in trouble for bullying another kid because he or she is different.

Looking over this year's list, the only books I've personally read are Persepolis and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I highly recommend them for kids twelve and older.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Music I've Been Listening To

So how many cans of AquaNet did the Stray Cats use?


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Happy Mabon!


It's the Autumn Equinox! The second harvest festival of the Wiccan calendar.

And boy, are the farmers harvesting! With the recent dry weather, they are pulling in soybeans as fast as they can in the fields surrounding our neighborhood.

Unfortunately, that means allergies. But give me drugs and Kleenex, and I'll keep working on Zombie Goddess!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Friday, September 18, 2015

Editing Nightmares When You're Trad Published

Last night I was reading the latest book in a series of a new writer I've fallen in love with. Well, she's new to me. I stumbled across a couple of typos. I'm not normally a grammar bitch, but one glitch in particular really threw me off. I had to reread the sentence a couple of times to deduce what word "rt" was supposed to be.

This is the same author whose last book in this series had a glaring copyedit problem. The heroine started a scene drinking her favorite hot beverage, but ended the scene drinking a totally different beverage. Not just a totally different beverage, but one that has been mentioned several times in the series as one the heroine hates.

This writer's particular series is published by DAW which is part of Penguin-Random House. Allegedly, one of the greatest selling points of traditional publishers is the extensive copy editing, line editing, and proofreading that a publishing house book goes through until it is released into the wild.

Except it's not happening.

I've been hearing from traditionally published friends (those still talking to me anyway) that they're not getting any editing. Or that they need to pay for an outside editor. Or they get the galleys back with more errors introduced than the original manuscript contained.

What's worse is if no one catches the mistake, it's never fixed. Quite frankly, the publishing houses don't have the money or manpower to do so. They're cutting costs like crazy, and guess who goes first when a corporation needs to trim the overhead? Yep, the people who actually do the work.

So, my new favorite heroine from my new favorite author is going continue drinking coffee, which she absolutely despises even if that particular book goes into its hundredth printing.

As I said is a previous post, I'm paranoid I missed something when my editor okays the final copy. My story in the anthology may be marred until the end of time.

Or until I get my rights back, and I release my own version. And honestly, that's one of the biggest pluses of indie publishing over trad publishing. I have the power to fix my boo-boo's.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Editing Nightmares when You're an Indie

First of all, let me say I wouldn't trade being an indie for anything. Nor do I hate editing per se. But like everything in life, there are times when certain bugs crawl up your butt, and they are itchy and scratchy and drive you insane.

The zombie meme that indies don't edit drives me insane. We do edit.

I've never needed an developmental editor. These are the folks who tell you how to write the story. Personally, I've never understood why I'd need someone tell me how to write a story, but I'm not going to criticize people who need them.

Also, I can do my own copyediting. That's making sure I haven't accidentally changed a character's eye color or name. Or something even more stupid.

But when it comes to line-editing (aka proofreading)...ARGH!

By no means am I perfect. I admit I have a tendency to leave out articles and prepositions while writing. This usually means I add 10-15K words to my manuscripts during my first line-editing pass.

After I'd made my passes, I had five separate people line-edit Blood Magick, plus two beta readers and my hubby go through the damn manuscript. You'd think that nine people, with three of those nine being industry professional editors and another three being trad-pubbed writers, would find all the typos.

Nope.

Typos still made it into the e-book version. Some sweet, clear-eyed readers pointed out a handful of them. I fixed the manuscript. Uploaded it.

And still didn't catch a few. Earlier this year, I went going through the manuscript again in preparation for sending to a formatter. Checked the e-version. Found a couple more. My lovely formatter fixed the e-version. Then she sent me the print version for proofing. And guess what?

Yep, still found another one.

So, anyway, I'll start copy-editing A Question of Balance in a week or so. In the meantime, I'll be going through Amish, Vamps & Thieves before its formatting is updated. Hopefully, it won't take an additional nine people and twenty passes to get the manuscript clean.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Friday, September 11, 2015

I Feel Good! Nah-na, Nah-na, Nah-na, Na!

With all do respect to the late, great James Brown, the godfather of soul!

I finished one of the many novels I've been working on for the last couple of years. A Question of Balance to be exact.

Honestly, it doesn't matter which one I finished. The fact that I finished something besides a short story this year makes me feel a little better.

You see, I haven't published anything under my name for nearly two years now. If you're a regular reader, you already know all the bullshit. And honestly, I want to put all that behind me. So I was ready for 2015. It was a fresh start.

The beginning of the year started off well. At least for the first three and a half months. I had a schedule. I was on schedule. Then more shit happened. And people wondered why I think the Great God Murphy hates me.

In terms of words written, this wasn't a great accomplishment. A Question of Balance was my 2013 NaNoWriMo project. I ended November with over 52K. Then I set it aside and focused on whatever disaster happened in December of 2013.

I ended the story right before lunch yesterday with a hair over 86K. By the time I get edits done, it'll be longer. That's just how I write. But finishing wasn't the best part of the day.

The story ends with a funeral, and I was crying while I was typing. A little girl, probably two and a half or three, sat at a nearby table with her mom and her mom's friends. While the adults talked, she came over to my table, determined to cheer me up.

Mom finally noticed the tot had wandered away and admonished her to return to their table. I told Mom the little girl was fine. She waved bye as they left.

Yep, yesterday was a good day. I really needed a good day.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Latest Drama with Ellora's Cave

Things were quiet over the summer as each party in the Ellora's Cave v. Dear Author case worked its way through discovery. On Tuesday, September 1, both parties filed their motions for summary judgment. Deidre Saoirse Moen has continued to update the case's timeline, along with links to pertinent documents regarding the case.

I haven't had the chance to go through the motions and exhibits because of work and family obligations last week. My personal opinions from back in March on the case can be read here. Any additional thoughts or changes of opinion will be the subject of a separate post at a later date once I have a chance to read the documents. And there are a lot!

Two days after the motions for summary judgment were filed, RWA allegedly sent out a notice to all chapters concerning EC's violation of RWA's Code of Ethics for Industry Professionals. Supposedly, CEO Patty Marks admitted EC was not up-to-date on royalty payments. I am no longer a member of RWA, so I can't confirm this information through RWA's website. However, assuming it's true, it's nice to see one of the writers' orgs standing up to a publisher without wishy-washy language.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Friday, September 4, 2015

Raiders of the Unread ARC

For those of you who may be new to the world of publishing, an ARC is an Advance Reader Copy. Some publishers send them out prior to a book's official release date. I still have the romance ones I got eons ago when I worked at Waldenbooks. It's especially fun to see a preview of a new writer, the thrill of discovering an author before anyone else has.

Some indie writers can rock the ARC. I'm not one of them. I tried giving out ARCs for my first novel release.

And no one wanted one. *le sigh*

Now, I volunteer to read ARCs from my favorite writers in return for an honest review. So far, I've been lucky. I haven't gotten any ARC that was truly crappy.

However, I did receive one that hit one of my hot buttons, Stirred by Blake Crouch and J.A. Konrath, The sad part is I didn't realize the issue was a hot button for me until I started their book. I'm ashamed to say I set the story aside for a couple of years before I was ready to tackle it again. And no, the issue was NOT the violence or gore. So a little warning, t's not your typical Jack Daniels tale. I gave it five stars because it is a damn good horror novel.

As time's gone on though, I'm having other folks ask me to read their work. Which normally I don't have a problem with if I have the time. But a little piece of advice--if you want someone to post a decent review, don't send them offensive messages through any media. For example, sending me quotes by a sexist comedian I absolutely despise does not make me want to do favors for you.

Next week, I should be receiving a signed ARC from a historical fiction writer I absolutely adore about Queen Zenobia of Palmyra. If you've heard the name "Palmyra" lately, it's because some idiots in modern-day Syria are trashing the ancient city. News flash, folks--Zenobia led a rebellion against those Roman capitalists and nearly succeeded. You should be holding her up as an example, instead of toppling the surviving architecture of her reign.

I know how the story ends, but I can't wait to read it!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Tell Her How Hard It Is

Selket help me, I hate that statement!

Tell her how hard it is.

I write for a living now. If you're reading this blog on a regular basis, you know I quit my Day Job in August of 2012. If you didn't know, now you do. I'm so tired of people telling me I can't make it as a writer. Have they seen my P/L report or my bank statements? No, none of you have, so why tell me something I know is patently false.

Tell her how hard it is.

Three months ago, Fabulous Niece moved in with us. This kid is so fucking talented in so many mediums! Her mother and stepfather did their best to literally beat any artistic out of the child. Yet, she still managed to get music scholarships to two different universities. The two assholes made sure she couldn't accept those scholarships, but by the time DH and I found out what was going on, FN had lost them.

Tell her how hard it is.

FN is a talented songwriter. She already knows eleven different instruments and is currently teaching herself how to play guitar. I write and DH played in rock bands for years, so we're encouraging her to pursue her interests: take lessons, continue writing songs, seek paying engagements.

Tell her how hard it is.

I'm so proud of FN that I stupidly told two friends what was going on with her. Know what they said? Yep. I wanted to scream, "Do you have a clue what I'm doing for a living?!" And one of them was a fellow fantasy writer. *smh*

Tell her how hard it is.

No, I'm not going to destroy FN's ego and put her down. She's had enough of that in her life. She already knows how fucking hard life is. She's already lived it. What exactly do these so-called friends expect me to say to her? That making a living at an art is harder than getting the crap beat out of you and starved by your stepfather?

She already knows hard it is. For that matter, so do I. Take your alleged well-meaning advice and shove it.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Hijacking Other Writers' Social Media Is Rude

You would think I wouldn't have to address this issue. Indie publishing has been pretty solid for six years now. You would think that people would know some of the etiquette rules.

So if you're new to indie publishing, let me tell you now before you piss off the wrong person: Hijacking another writers social media is plain fucking rude. It's a good way to ruin friendships and getting yourself banned from some sites.

What do I mean by hijacking?

- Leaving links and/or comments about your book on other writers' blogs
- Leaving links and/or comments about your book on other writers' Facebook account
- Spamming public boards with links and/or comments about your book in inappropriate places

Posting about your brand new book on the wrong place on Kboards especially will earn you a ton of scorn.

Not only can hijacking earn you the animosity of another writer, you're failing to take something important into account. Are you really marketing to potential readers?

Take Wild, Wicked & Wacky for example. The folks that read this blog aren't necessarily the same folks that read my books. I talk about writing craft, the publishing industry, and other tidbits that I find interesting (like Jensen Ackles lip-synching to "Eye of the Tiger"). If you parse through the last few months of posts, you'll find I rarely talk about my books here. And even when I do, it's only the books I write under the "Suzan Harden" moniker, which are firmly in the fantasy genre.

So when you add a link in my comments here for your brand-new romantic suspense, who exactly are you marketing to? Probably not to folks who read your type of story. So not only have you irritated me, you look totally clueless to a lot of the readers who might have looked at your book.

Yes, I know it's hard, really, really hard to get attention in the fragmentation that is today's publishing market. All I'm saying is don't sabotage yourself before you've gotten out of the gate.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Friday, August 28, 2015

Proofing the Proofs

When you're published by someone else, there's nothing like the feeling when you get the proofs from the editor. You haven't looked at that particular piece in ages. Even when you go through a small press and their cycle is only six months, instead of two years like the big guys, it's like reading something fresh and new.

It's your last chance to change anything that might be hairy in the text. It's also the time to make sure new errors weren't introduced. Then there's that little trepidation when you hit the send button, the fear you've missed something vital that will bite your butt when the piece is published.

Yep, I'll be feeling all of that over the weekend. Last night, Elisabeth Waters sent me the proof for Sword and Sorceress 30. The second Justice Anthea story, "Diplomacy in the Dark", will be in the anthology when it comes out on November 2.

In the meantime, I'm still scribbling away on the first novel with these characters, A Question of Balance. I'm hoping to have it done and ready to publish by November, also. Here's the link to the first chapter if you're curious.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Movie Mania - Ant-Man

Take away the superhero schtick, and this would be a great heist movie.

And this is exactly why Marvel's killing DC at the cinema. Warner Brothers (who owns DC Comics) has forgotten that story-telling is the reason folks consume their products. It's not about the special effects. It's about real people in unreal situations, still trying to do the right thing.


* * *


SPOILERS


* * *

PROS
1) One of my pet peeves is that Marvel decided to use Black Widow and Hawkeye instead of the comic book founding members Ant-Man and Wasp. (Yes, I AM that old.) They rectify the story change with Hank Pym becoming Scott Lang's mentor (consistent with the comic book version). They also give Hank and Janet Van Dyne a backstory with S.H.I.E.L.D.

2) Paul Rudd is fucking adorable no matter who he plays.

3) Anthony Mackie's cameo was an absolute riot and a sweet lead-in to Captain America: Civil War (aka Avengers 2.5).

4) The sexual tension between Scott and Hope was perfect, as in it didn't vomit out every lone hero/sex object trope used in every other action movie. In one of the very last scenes, Hank stumbles on the couple kissing and yells, "When did this happen!"


CONS
1) The flashback with Janet was too brief (though they leave the door open to her returning in a later movie).

2) The writers tried to turn Hope Van Dyne (Hank and Janet's daughter) in Elektra. I don't blame the lovely Evangeline Lilly who did her best with the script she was given. I definitely blame the writers.


This is one Marvel movie I'll get in Blu-Ray as soon as it comes out, instead of waiting until it's on sale at Amazon. Ant-Man earned its 9 out of 10 stars.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Shows I've Been Watching Lately

Less than a month until Season 9 of the new Who!

(September 19th at 9p.m. EDT on BBC America)

In the meantime, here's a collection of all the Doctor's themes.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Music I've Been Listening To

No, kids, that isn't Giles. Murray is Tony's brother, but damn, they do look alike!


Monday, August 10, 2015

Monday Movie Mania - Jurassic World

We made it to Jurassic World back in June, but the Fourth of July weekend was insane. Let's just say it included a visit to the ER. In my efforts to finish A Question of Balance, I didn't get a review written.

Until now.

The late Michael Crichton's world of cloned dinosaurs is back. Literally. If you've seen Jurassic Park, it's pretty much the same damn plot, just twenty-two years after the original incident on Isla Nublar.

So quite frankly, I'm not going to give you my normal "Spoilers" warning. Seriously, kids, if you haven't seen any of the Jurassic Park movies in the last two decades, you shouldn't be reading blogs online either.

The real highlight of the movie is Chris Platt. That man has charm to spare, and his character Owen uses it to train one of the deadliest of the dinosaurs, and fan favorite, velociraptors. He's the Grant/Malcolm of this version, Mr. Common Sense.

Bryce Dallas Howard's Claire Dearing is this version's Hammond/Gennaro, the "we'll do stupid things to prove we can" types.

And of course, we have two cute kids in danger to bring the male and female leads into the requisite romance.

The Indominus Rex was kind of cool for a GMO dinosaur. B.D. Wong was the only cast member from the original movie who made an appearance in this one, though Sam O'Neill's character was mentioned.

Beyond that, I really can't recommend this one unless you've got kids to be entertained on a rainy afternoon. I'd have been happier if they'd done a more original story. The amusement park theme has already been used. It might have been a better movie if the focus had been on the military subplot, but I'm not a Hollywood writer.  *wink*

I give Jurassic World a 5 out of 10.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Music I've Been Listening To

An Irving Berlin classic with a dash of '80's synth. And yes, his stage name really was Taco!


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Music I've Been Listening To

Do you know what Cyndi's really talking about? *wink*


Friday, July 31, 2015

What I've Been Up To

Yes, I've been slacking on writing blogs for the last week. Why? I received an e-mail requesting my bio for the upcoming Sword and Sorceress 30, which contains the latest Justice Anthea short, "Diplomacy in the Dark."

I'd started writing a full-length novel about Justice Anthea and Brother Luc's adventures back during NaNoWriMo in 2013. I hit the 52,500-word mark, which meant I got my badge for that year, but I got stuck on the story itself. Then everything literally fell apart on the house in Houston while I was trying to get it on the market. So, the novel was shoved into an electronic file with the assumption I'd finish it.

Some day.

I'd been working on Zombie Goddess and Hero De Facto earlier this year when the deadline came around for Sword and Sorceress 30. Anthea demanded attention, and I gave in. Wrote a short story. E-mailed it to Lisa Waters.

And went right back to working on the other two novels while reviewing new copies and covers for the Bloodlines series. Got the contract. Signed and returned it.

And went right back to work on the other stuff. Until I got the bio request. For some reason, I pulled up the file for the Justice novel.

And something clicked in my brain. I knew what I'd done wrong (essentially trying to cram three plots into one story). I started ripping the text apart, deleting some stuff, and adding more over the last two weeks. It feels good to be consumed by a story again.

Does that mean letting everything else go to pot?

No. I've got several stories that are at the 40-60K mark that need to be finished. I'm taking it one project at a time. One month at a time.

Things are finally stabilizing at home, and I'm writing on a regular basis again. That makes me happy.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

When Is the Perfect Time to Write

- Get up an hour early and write before the kids get up.
- Write while the kids nap
- Write during your lunch hour
- Write after the kids are in bed
- Write on the bus/subway
- Write only on the weekends
- Write every day

Each of the above statements are from prominent, well-known, best-selling authors. But which one is the perfect method?

I'm seeing a lot of newbie writers still searching for that Magic Bullet. The thing is every single method is right. Right for that writer, that is.

If you haven't figured out your own method yet, you may have to do a little experimenting. And there's not a damn thing wrong with that.

I admit I've tried them all. And they've all worked at various points of my life. But if you have a day job and a family, you're going to have to work around those responsibilities. Which is also okay. GK needed me a lot more as small child than he does as a teenager.

Last year when I was still in Houston and guys had moved up to Ohio already, I could set my own schedule. My best productivity was between 2a.m. and dawn. But that's not doable with all of us back together plus Niece, who recently moved in with us. So, it's back to writing whenever I can squeezed it in between chauffeuring kids, checking on in-laws, and other chores.

The only real advice you can take out of this is be flexible and remember--there really isn't a Magic Bullet.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Why You Need to Learn the Aspects of Self-Publishing Before Hiring Someone

Are you a writer? Have you noticed certain accounts following you on Twitter and/or Facebook after you've announced your intent to self-published? Or after you've announced the release of your latest book?

Then there's other spam. I keep getting e-mails from a company calling themselves Publish Wholesale. They will publish format my print book and create for ONLY $959! And for ONLY AN ADDITIONAL $200, they'll format my ebook!

I can't begin to tell you how many of these scam artists are popping up to prey on naïve writers. The incredible David Gaughran has made it his mission in life to document the worst of these abusers, Penguin Random House's Author Solutions.

Yep, that 's right, ladies and gentlemen. The absolute scammiest of the scam artist belongs to one of the U.S.'s Big Five publishing houses.

But I'm not jumping on David's bandwagon. I'm advocating a radical change in a writer's thought process.

Learn how to format and create covers yourself.

Now, someone out there is going to see this and start screaming either "I don't know how!" or "How dare you can't tell me what to do!" Let's break both of these down.

1) I don't know how!

This comes from a place in your head where fear resides. Maybe you're computer phobic. Maybe you think you can't learn new things. Maybe you are sure you'll screw up, and no one will ever buy your book again.

Now shove that fear aside. Research conversion software. There's a lot of freeware and low cost packages available. And by low cost, I mean less than $50, but personally, my cheap ass self prefers freeware.

Take a short story you've written and spend a few hours practicing on it. Start simple. No fancy fonts, pictures, graphics or whatever.

Now find some graphics freeware. I use Paint.Net for my erotica covers. If you're not a fabulous artist, there's a ton of stock photo sites. I generally buy a small package, so the cost comes out to less than $10 per photo. Also, there's fonts you can purchase if you don't have any on your computer that are appropriate.

I'm not talking out of my butt here. This exactly what I did with Seasons of Magic: Spring back in 2011.

By practicing, you'll also figure out what you are good at doing yourself and what you suck at. There's nothing wrong with that either. Every good businessperson needs to know where to cut costs and when to hire out work.

2) You can't tell me what to do!

I'm not telling anyone anything.

I'm making a suggestion based on a business need, so if you decide to hire somebody to do these things, you've got a rough idea of the time and effort involved. There're some incredible editors, formatters, and graphic artists who price their services reasonably. By learning the tools of the trade, you'll have a better idea if you're getting a good deal or getting screwed over.

For the record, I've started hiring out some of my covers and some of my formatting. Why? More demands on my personal time since our niece moved in with us are cutting into my writing time. And I was seriously juggling my writing time before that since I'm writing under two different names.


Now, if you just won the lottery or have a trust fund, none of this means anything to you. But for those of us building a career, a thousand dollars can mean rent, groceries, and doctor's bills. That's why I advocate making decisions that don't result in you living on the streets.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Authors United *Facepalm*

Remember the folks at Authors United? The cream of the crop authors who were bitching up a storm about how badly Amazon treated Hachette in their negotiations last year? Yeah, those same negotiations that Hatchette refused to participate in?

Well, AU decided they would issue a letter to the Assistant Attorney General. Not the U.S. Attorney General herself, Loretta Lynch, but her sidekick. AU is demanding an investigation into Amazon. Not once in this magical, marvelous letter, however, do they list what laws Amazon violated, much less how those laws were violated. *facepalm*

If you want to read an excellent fisking of the letter, go over to Joe Konrath's blog. I highly suggest keeping drinks, firearms or flames out of your reach while you read. Especially if you have any kind of legal background.

Meanwhile, Amazon is having a major sale to celebrate their twentieth anniversary in business. The sale is only good for Amazon Prime members, but guess what? Amazon lets you sign up for a thirty-day free trial of Prime!

As Master Yoda would say: Hmmm...suspicious that timing is. Halt the sale, it will not. Foolish the AU is to believe away Amazon customers, they will drive.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Monday Movie Mania - Magic Mike XXL

I went to the flick with Niece, who was hopping up and down in the seat through this whole thing. And that's what this movie is, a fun flick. Anyone thinking this should be deep and intellectual really needs their head examined.

Most of the cast is back (minus Matthew McConaughey and Alex Pettyffer) with some excellent additions.


* * *


SPOILERS


* * *

PROS
1) The number one pro is and always will be gratuitous Joe Manganeillo  butt shots.

2) Jada Pinkett Smith as Rome, the owner of a club Mike used to dance for. She brings some needed estrogen to the testosterone fest.

3) The secret cameo of Michael Strahan. I knew the man had moves on the football field, but on the dance floor? Oh, my!

CONS
1) The ending was rather abrupt. I think it would have been better with some kind of good-bye scene between the guys since this was supposed to be their last hurrah.


Overall, I'd give this a 7 out of 10 stars.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Friday, July 10, 2015

Hatred on the Internet

Invariably, someone will feel they need to argue, so I'm going to close comments on this post. The fact I feel the need to close comments says how bad the problem has become.

The hate is strong in the world these days. It's not just things like the burning of African-American churches across the U.S. or slut shaming of underage rape victims or harassment of members of the LGBT community. It's gotten to the point I don't read comments on my favorite sites. It's gotten to the point I've blocked several friends on FB. It's gotten to the point I don't even get on Twitter anymore.

There is very little compassion or empathy on the internet. There's been several studies including one published in Psychology Today. And if you look at the comments, well, the trolls kind of proved the author's point.

There's irony inherent in a system that can bring people together from around the world can also be used to divide us. People like Dylann Roof allegedly not only told friends about his intentions to kill blacks, but proclaimed his intentions on his Facebook page and his own website. What makes his threats valid and another person's nothing more than blowing off steam online, other than the fact Dylann allegedly carried out his plan?

I think the fact we don't know which is which online makes the problem more troubling. A friend shared a post online about rape vs. consent only to have a male she considered a friend PM her with a sexist joke. When she called him on it, he didn't apologize. Instead, he doubled-down, claimed she was being too sensitive, women like being sexually harassed if the harassee is good-looking, etc.

So how do we as a multi-cultural world deal with someone else's anger? How do we help these people to change their behavior into something positive?

The problem is we can't. Sometimes the beliefs are so hardcore, so ingrained, that to give these people an alternative sends them into an emotional tailspin.

Then there are the trolls who enjoy inflicting pain.

So how do you respond when you're not sure which party you're dealing with? I wish I had the answer to that.

If you respond to a troll, you're only helping him jack off. If you allow the hatred to permeate without a response, then folks on the edge start to think this behavior is acceptable.

The best thing that can happen is that the owner of the site monitors comments. That the owner explicitly states the comment policy. By having a website open to public comment, we are responsible for the level of discourse.

I've had people get mad about some of the things I post here. I've had people get mad when I've called them out for some of the things they've said in comments. I've had people get pissed because I deleted their comment. So be it.

The comment policy here is that you need to be civil, and yes, since WWW is under my control, then my judgment on what is civil rules.

This isn't a First Amendment issue. This is what my parents and grandparents called "using your company manners." If you can't behave in any public venue, maybe you shouldn't venture into that space.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Long and the Short of Writing through Amazon's Kindle Unlimited.

The KU drama continued over the course of the weekend. Once again, I'm flabbergasted by the rudeness and the shortsightedness of some of my fellow writers.

After the last eleven years, hell, out of the last fifty years, I shouldn't be surprised by human behavior. But I still am.

First of all, what works for someone else's career may not work for yours. Screaming at the person who notes that X works for him does nothing for either of you. If X doesn't work for you, that's fine. Turn around, walk away, and go do Y, which works for you. But X may work for someone else. You don't know about the third party, and you're not saving him by insisting that he do Y. Let the third party make that decision. Ask yourself this--do you really want the third party to scream at you the way you scream at the first person?

Then there's the argument of what's better--novels or short stories. Why is this even a question now?

For a long time under the 20th century publishing structure, a writer could sell novels to the big publishing houses or short stories to the magazines. There wasn't a whole lot of in between areas for things like novellas. Most of these strictures were based on the optimal return on investment for the paper the stories were printed on.

Now? With electronic publishing, the writer can write whatever length they please. Except now, I see a bunch of writers yelling at each other over who's getting screwed the worst over the recent reimbursement changes to KU?

There's one teensy problem with their analysis. They are equating "buy" reimbursement with "borrow" reimbursement.

WTF?

Under the pre-digital system, a library paid for a book ONCE. Patrons of the library could borrow it as many times as they wished. Likewise under the old system, the buyer bought the book ONCE, and she could read over and over again. Or trade it in at the used book shop. In none of these cases, did the original author see an additional penny of income.

Now? Now, we can get paid for nearly every borrow through Amazon, which is FANTASTIC! But it's also where the bitching comes in.

A lot of folks gamed KU 1.0 by only listing shorts and chopped up novels, so they received far more money for borrows than for sales. Now with KU 2.0, Amazon pays for pages read, which means if you don't write a damn good story, regardless of the length, the writers will be lucky to get a penny or two out of the deal.

Contrary to popular belief, this isn't about length, or getting screwed by a big company. It's about giving the reader a quality experience. Something I think a lot of my fellow writers have forgotten.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Have E-Book Subscription Services Shot Themselves in the Head?

There's been a lot of shouting over the recent change to the Kindle Unlimited ("KU") payment plan. On the heels of Amazon's announcement came the news late yesterday that Scribd has eliminated all romance books from their subscription service. Apparently, the only exception are free books.

Why? Because romance readers are some of the most voracious readers of books in all forms. I know folks who can go through a book or more a day.

Think about it. If a subscriber only pays $9.99 a month, and they read 30 books a month, how can Scribd possibly pay each author their full retail amount? Even if the reader only read books that are in Scribd at $0.99, that's still a $17.70 payout to the writer/publisher after Scribd's and the distributor's fees.

I have to wonder if Scribd has notified their subscribers yet because I haven't heard a hue and cry from the readers. The news first broke late yesterday afternoon from publisher Bob Mayer from Cool Gus Publishing who got the news from their distributor D2D and from Mark Coker of Smashwords, another e-book distributor.

So what does this all mean?

It depends on why you put your books into a subscription service like KU or Scribd to begin with. In my case, I haven't put anything into KU because it requires exclusivity with Amazon, and I'm the rare indie author in that I make far more through other channels than I do Amazon. As for Scribd, or its major direct competitor Oyster, I only entered my Bloodlines and Secret of Magick series into their programs. It was an effort to promote them since my erotica/romance books under Alter Ego were doing just fine on sales at the time.

In my opinion, and this is only my opinion, I don't think Scribd or Oyster can be viable in the long run without lowering payments to writers/publishers, which is exactly what Amazon has done to keep KU going. If a writer depends on only one retailer or one methodology, such as borrows, for their income, I think they will be screwed in the long run. As always, YMMV.

***
Edit to add: Here's Scribd's announcement. There's been a little grumbling on Twitter, but mainly from authors. Same on FB. It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the day goes.

Edit to add 2 11:15 pm EDT: Still more screaming from authors than readers about Scribd's changes on social media, but I did notice a handful of readers who are ticked about Scribd charging for free books. #Scribd

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Music I've Been Listening To

I miss the '80's, then I start rifling through my old cassette tapes...


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Our Last Acts

Eleven years ago, I started what would become the Bloodlines series. Most people don't get the underlying emotions that I poured into the books. Some do.

Babies and death are prominent in those books because I almost died on the operating table giving birth to Genius Kid. Zombie Love started as my way of dealing with the myriad of emotions of that experience. The stories grew and expanded as other gains and losses happened in my life.

And the emotions overwhelm me again whenever we deal some aspect of DH's cancer. He wanted me to come with him to the local cancer walk on Saturday. We met another couple, Dan and Nida, just a few years older than us. Like DH, Dan started with colon cancer, but he's in Stage Four with experimental treatments the only thing keeping on this side of the gate. He's a marathon runner who's had to change his life radically to deal with the disease.

One of my great-grandfathers said the only constant in life was change. And that's what both birth and death are. A change between one state of being and another.

Ironically, I'm reminded of his words and my own beginnings and endings today as I clean up the seminal scene of Zombie Goddess. It's the beginning of the end of the Sam both I and the readers know and love. Then Neil Gaiman wrote a very personal post about a friend who is dying even as Neil and his wife re expecting their first baby.

Neil put it far more eloquently than I could. He called it existing in the pause.

That's what I feel like right now. That moment between breaths. Between heartbeats. Between reading/writing the first page and the last. Between life and death.

It's all the same pause. And after it's done, thing will never be the same.