Monday, December 30, 2019

Can RWA Survive 2020?

I'm going to start my thoughts at the end. When both Neil Gaiman and Chuck Tingle call you out publicly, you've fucked up big time.

For the record, I don't know the real person(s) behind the pseudonym of Dr. Chuck Tingle. Nor do I care to know who he is. I'm content to enjoy his cute stories about buckaroos and the things they love. The best compliment I've ever received is an accusation by two people that I am secretly Dr. Tingle. I am not.

I also give major kudos to Chuck because he has never inserted himself into any writer drama. However, he's been dragged into it, and he cleverly jabs at the people doing the dragging. (Google Space Raptor Butt Invasion and Sad Puppies.) And once again, someone is dragging this talented person's behind into a pile of shit not of his making.

Now, back to the beginning--RWA, aka Romance Writers of America.

Again, for the record, I was a member of RWA from 2004 to 2012. I have my own biases towards the organization.

On one hand, it's the only professional author organization that accepts aspiring writers. The local chapters have wonderful classes where newbies can learn a plethora of craft methods and techniques. I truly believe RWA's education programs, local and national, match or surpass most master's-level university creative writing curriculum.

On the other hand, RWA has many of the problems of any large organization, from an entrenched power base to lack of adequate response to a changing world.

Over the last fifteen years, I've watched a conservative clique within RWA suppress or attempt to suppress a number of things:

- Around 2000, erotic romance was attacked because OMG! There's sex in those books!
- After that was an attempt to force a resolution through the executive board defining romance = 1 man + 1 woman ONLY! That was around 2005.
- Then in 2007, if you *gasp* sell to an e-book only/first publisher, you're not a real writer.
- In 2010, if you self-publish/indie-publish, you're not a real writer!
- Shortly after that was "okay, we'll accept SP/IP writers as long at they make five times what a trad-published writer makes." (Note: This criteria has since changed.)

To be totally frank, underneath everything at RWA was a nasty current of racism, but all the blame cannot be laid at RWA's feet. Most trad publishers refused to buy any romance book where the lead characters were non-white. They claimed those books wouldn't sell. If People Of Color ("POC") characters managed to slip past the acquiring editor, the marketing team refused to put any POC on the cover.

The indie publishing movement has helped open up stories about and by POC. And unfortunately, we're discovering just how racist readers can be. Plus, there's a certain coterie of writers who cater to that slice of the reading public.

*sigh* So among all this shit, a Twitter flamewar started between a white writer and a POC writer last summer over the contents of the white writer's books. The tiff probably would have passed unnoticed if the white writer hadn't weaponized the RWA ethics by-laws to attack the POC writer.

If you want to wade through a decent summary of the situation complete with links, Claire Ryan has one on her blog. Many thanks to Claire for putting this all together.

**Fair warning, when I was researching this dumpster fire, I needed a shower afterward.**

The sad part is this seems to be a repeat of the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies fiasco within SFWA a few years ago. Part of me hoped RWA as a whole would catch a clue and amend their ways, but alas, they seem to be doubling down on white supremacy instead. Frankly, I don't have much hope for the organization surviving. At least not in a writer-helpful form. And definitely not with the people who could make the needed changes resigning left and right.

All of this leads to--can any writer write "other" without getting lambasted?

The way I see it, we're damned if we do and we're damned if we don't. As a white, cis-gendered, straight woman, if I leave anyone out of my books who aren't exactly like me, I'm guilty of all the "-isms". If I write a variety of characters and make them stereotypes, then again, I'm totally guilty of the "-isms".

Personally, I've already made the stand to have a diverse cast of characters in my books. I try to do my research. If I do something stupid, I hope a reader will call me out on it.

I'm not perfect. I'm sure I've fucked up along the way. I'll probably fuck up again. All I can do is promise to do my best to provide fair and diverse worlds.

I figure if I'm already getting lambasted for being anti-white and writing SJW/feminist propaganda, then I'm probably doing something right. *smile*


**Note: I'll leave comments open for now, but if y'all can't behave, I will shut down comments. Don't bring your fucking racist flamewar here!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Friday, December 27, 2019

Writers Are a Surly Bunch

What is it about writers that we do things to sabotage ourselves? Why do we  focus on what we can't do rather than what we can?

A lot of things have been happening in the writing world lately. I've had my head down, trying to get the January release finished between getting really sick and GK coming home from the holidays. I'm still researching things, and I'll talk about the big events next week.

But my title comes from a personal level. I'm watching people I know give up on writing. Everyone has their various reasons, but they are merely excuses. Most of these people are focusing on what they don't have. They focus on what they claim they can't do.

And just because you can't do it RIGHT NOW doesn't mean you can't do something in the future.

Unfortunately, to some writers, everything is a hard "NO" instead of "I'll get to that down the line."

Don't have paperback out yet? Then make a plan to get paperbacks out.

Don't have audio books out yet? Then make a plan for that.

Don't understand online advertising? Then study it.

Not writing fast enough? Practice writing faster.

Don't have any ideas? Sorry, I can't help you with the last one. The only way I can shut off the fucking voices in my head is by writing.

Art is not just suffering. It's about the totality of human experience. Which means if you're not feeling what your characters are feeling, maybe it's time to step back and re-examine your reasons for wanting to write.

Because if you're producing stories because you think it's easy money, your attitude will show through your wring. Readers want to be entertained--not told they owe somebody a living.

No, that doesn't mean I don't think writers shouldn't be paid. But readers are paying for a particular experience when they pick up your story. If you can't supply that, then the readers will pass you by.

So do what you can. That means first you need to write a damn good story. Next, if you can only produce e-books for the next bit of time until you find a formatter or learn to format print books yourself.

But overall, you should be looking at the next step in your publishing career, not whining that you can't do the next step because of whatever flimsy reason you come up with. Life should always be "What's next?"

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas!

Time to put your feet up and watch the Doctor Who Christmas Specials!

Hope y'all had a great holiday!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Planning for 2020

Back in the '80's, the year 2020 was some vague futuristic time where we'd have flying cars and robot butlers.

Instead, we have Alexa, Siri, and their strange sisterhood of electronic spies into our lives, and the only flying car is the Tesla that a crazy person launched into space to prove a point.

However, being a reasonable writer/publisher regardless of the year, I've been working on the publishing schedule for 2020. The first six books have pre-orders on Amazon. Once again, I'll update them here and on the main series pages as they go live:

January 15th - A Touch of Mother (Justice #4)

February 14th - Seasons of Magick Anthology (Entire Seasons of Magick series)

March 15th - Spells and Sleuths (Millersburg Magick Mysteries #1)

April 15th - Fae and Felonies (Millersburg Magick Mysteries #2)

May 15th - Magick and Murder (Millersburg Magick Mysteries #3)

June 15th - Hero De Jure (888-555-HERO #5)


The Millersburg Magick Mysteries will be initially exclusively on Amazon's Kindle Unlimited, as the 888-555-HERO series was. These are paranormal mysteries set in the Bloodlines World. Teen witch sleuths Kaley and Kirsten Wilson take on town happenings Scooby-Doo style. The girl's mom Rachel and great-aunt Jo should be familiar to anyone who's read Amish, Vamps & Thieves.

The 88-555-HERO has started going wide, Hero De Facto is available at most online retailers now, and each month, the next volume will be released.

My last goal is to get my ebooks on the Ohio Public Library system for those of you who rely on libraries for your reading material. If you don't live in Ohio, you can always request my books through your own library!

For those of you who prefer paperbacks or you don't live in Ohio, have your librarian contact me directly. I'm always happy to donate copies, both paper and electronic, to a public or school library. As a child in rural America, books store were rare, Amazon didn't exist, and I depended on our county public library system for most of my reading material.

If anyone has questions or comments and doesn't want to leave them on the blog's comment section, you can always contact me through the "Contact Me" tab at the top of the page!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Friday, December 20, 2019

I Think. Therefore, I Am.

Actually, my existence is pretty questionable. My head's still fuzzy from the flu, but I'm eating a normally diet again. That's a step in the right direction.

However, I'm a little jealous of the friends who were able to attend last night's showing of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. More because they were physically able to attend the screenings, than wishing I could go to. However. everyone so far has said the ending was awesomely satisfying. So maybe JJ Abrams finally learned how to write an ending after all.

Yes, folks, the ending of a story is just as important as the beginning. If you haven't learned how to craft an ending, for the love of Cthulu, practice.

This is not a hate on JJ. I think the guy can come up with brilliant ideas. It's the follow-thru where he falters.

Alias. Revolution. Lost. All great high-concept ideas. But he kind of proves the adage that ideas are a dime a dozen. It's the actual story that keeps people involved. Also, the writer can't break the rules of their universe willy-nilly. Not without pissing off their fans.

Look what happened with the final season of Game of Thrones. The writers and showrunners had GRRM's notes, but they didn't have his passion for the characters. All the previous seasons, we knew who did what and why. And it's not the fact that Bran ended up with the Iron Throne, it's that the writers didn't care enough to sell that version to the audience.

Sticking with our world logic and developing an ending is something we writers need to do on a consistent basis. When I was writing Hero De Facto, I feared the May-December romance between Rey and Aisha would be the biggest sticking point with the audience. So far, there's been nary a word, which means I did my job as an artist.

So where is all this rambling going? To three craft points writers need to keep in mind:

1) Ideas are cheap and easy. Storytelling is hard. Work on your storytelling.

2) Endings are as important as beginnings.

3) Don't break the rules of your universe without a damn good reason that makes sense to the audience.

Now, I have to put together my shopping list. Genius Kid was Cincinnati chili with his football on Sunday.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

I'd Rather Have Coal in My Stocking

The good news is that Genius Kid (or should I start calling him Genius Soldier?) got leave, so he'll be home for Christmas. None of us were expecting it, given he just got out of basic training. Even with a little complication with his ticket, things are settled, and it'll be good to see him. Best holiday present ever, and we're happy.

Unfortunately, I was nailed by a particularly nasty stomach bug last week. Given the intimacy of our recent relationship, our toilet and I should be married right now. Even worse, I awoke at four this morning to the sounds of DH horning in on my relationship with the porcelain god. I'm praying we're no longer contagious by the time GK gets home. I wouldn't wish this bug on my worst enemy.

Hopefully, I'll back to regular writing and blogging soon. And if you're in a ménage, may it not involve cold, stinky porcelain.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

You Knew This Was Coming!!

Linda Carter owned the '70's, but Gal Gadot takes the '80's!


Monday, December 9, 2019

Special Episode of I Love the '80's!

When a certain new movie trailer debuted a few days ago, I was so excited to hear this tune from 1983 again. And it worked damn well with the clips. Put June 5, 2020, on your calendars, kids!


Saturday, December 7, 2019

I Love the '80's!

It's the last month of the year, so let's finish it with some awesome '80's music!


Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Whirlwind

I know I haven't posted much over the last two weeks. Things have been a little crazy at the Harden House. And for once, not in a bad way.

The big thing is the release of A Very Hero Christmas. The fourth novel in the 888-555-HERO series was only supposed to be a little holiday short story for the readers, but it grew into a full-length novel.

Blurb
Everyone at The Law Offices of Winters & Franklin is safe during the holidays. Or are they?

Aisha spends Christmas with her family in Atlanta, only to have a new supervillain take the mall patrons hostage while Aisha’s doing some last minute shopping with her niece and nephew.

Meanwhile, Harri’s attempts at making a perfect Christmas for her goddaughter get out of hand as the guest list keeps growing. Just one little problem—Harri can’t cook.

Can Aisha save the citizens of Atlanta without revealing she’s a super? Better yet, can anyone save Harri’s guests from food poisoning?

Call The Law Offices of Winters & Franklin at 888-555-HERO where the only thing more dangerous than a superhero is his attorney.
------------------------
In celebration of the fourth book's release, the first novel Hero De Facto is currently free at Amazon. But you've got to act fast, the deal ends tonight at midnight, PST.

I'm working on the next episode of the Justice series, A Touch of Mother which is on preorder at Amazon, as well a some top secret projects I can't talk about yet. As long as I stay healthy, next year is going to be awesome!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

Be grateful for what you have and generous to the folks that have less.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Quick Update

I've been having a little trouble with the ending to A Very Hero Christmas. With the help of two sausage, egg, and cheese sandwiches and a large cup of very strong, black tea this morning at Tim Horton's, I found the threads of tying up the overall storylines.

A friend teased that the cover looked like it was for a Hallmark Christmas movie, and I guess in its own way this story needed to be just as touchy-feely, something I was trying hard to avoid because of my own mixed feelings towards the holiday.

I don't normally push the last minute envelope like this, but I need to get back to wrapping up the story since its drop date is Sunday.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

I Love the '80's!

If our parents only knew what the lyrics meant...


Friday, November 22, 2019

NaNoWriMo Catch-up

After our travel adventures at the beginning of the month, I find I'm woefully behind, not just on my NaNo project, but my December release as well.

I've got one more story about our trip that I'll share later.

If I can get in words this weekend.

So if I don't poke my head out of the cave sooner, may you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Road Trip Adventures, Part 2

When we left off, DH and I were sleeping in our ice-covered car in the convenience store parking lot at the exit for Stratton, Colorado, off of I-70. Well, us, six other passenger vehicles, and approximately three dozen semi trucks. Plus another dozen tractor-trailers parked along the road berm.

The environmental temperature of our sleep area has been an ongoing battle between DH and me for nearly twenty-six years. I definitely prefer a warmer sleeping environment than he does. Add in the fact that I simply can't sleep if my feet are cold, and well, the heater war was on!

My cold feet would wake me up, and I would turn on our car's engine and fall back asleep. DH would wake up sweating and turn it off. We went back and forth the entire night.

I have to say if you're stuck sleeping in a car all night, you could do worse than a Hyundai Sonata. Even DH, who nearly six and a half feet tall could stretch out.

When I woke up about three a.m. local time, fog had rolled in, I could see anything past the parking lot, but the ice on the windows was dripping. As I settled back down, I knew we'd be able to get on the road soon.

DH woke up when the convenience store lights flicked on at 5:30 a.m. We, along with the rest of the sleeping travelers, used the restroom, bought some caffeine, and filled our fuel tanks before heading out. Predawn light was very welcome at that point. And even better, my joints weren't locked with pain. Yay, CBD gummies!

A few miles up the freeway, we passed the reason the fire truck and one of the ambulances were dispatched the night before. Another eastbound semi had slid into the median and caught fire. The cab and engine compartment were nothing but burned out husks.

At that point, DH and I were both thankful we'd pulled over for the night.

On the plus side, DH got to enjoy the grandeur of approaching the Rockies shortly after dawn. Without a cloud in the sky, the snow-capped mountain tops gleamed.

Denver rush-hour traffic did not gleam. However, we made to the hotel at 9:00 a.m. The Hilton Garden Inn at Union Station gets a five-star rating from me for having a room ready for us. (DH had called them the night before and told them about the ice storm. The person at the front desk said a room would be ready when we arrived, but we'd been screwed over by hotels before so we weren't holding our breath.)

Unfortunately, DH's boss was already sitting at a work station in the lobby, so he had to go back down as soon we hauled the luggage to our room. Don't worry. He was able to get a shower when the team broke for lunch. I'd gotten one as soon as we arrived. I also located the nearest Starbucks (inside the grocery store directly across the street from the hotel) and crack open my laptop.

The rest of the week went smoothly. DH's co-workers started heading out Saturday afternoon, but we stayed an extra night. Vacation, remember?

We left fairly early on Sunday morning because more freezing rain was actually forecasted for eastern Colorado and western Kansas. The trip back through Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri were uneventful. However, another storm was rolling down from Canada for Monday. It wasn't supposed to go any further south than Lima, Ohio, by 6 p.m. EST.

No problem, right? It's seven hours from our friends' house to our apartment. As long as we were on the road before noon, we'd be fine.

WRONG! DH woke me up shortly before 9 a.m. It was already sleeting in St. Louis. I was dressed, and we had the luggage packed and loaded before 9:30. Hugs were shared, and we set out to get gas and breakfast on the way out of town.

The gas station was less than five minutes from Becky's place. By then, the sleet had turned to snow.

Many kudos to the Illinois and Indiana DOTs! They kept the roads salted and cleared as we made our way east. The trouble hit when we left I-70 for I-75.

The snow had come farther south, earlier and deeper than predicted. Traffic gradually slowed to a crawl as night fell and snow fell thicker. DH followed a Penske semi with an obviously experienced driver. The numerous ODOT trucks simply couldn't keep up with the precipitation.

We could see the marks where a plow had been through less than an hour before, but the freeway was already covered in snow. Three of the vehicles that sped by us ended up in the ditch or the median. We lost count of how many other accidents we saw, including one involving an ODOT truck and a pickup with a trailer hauling horses. I hope all of the critters were okay.

Finally, we reached our exit. The county and township plows hadn't been through, but we kept the same slow, steady pace and made it home.

The storm extended all the way south into Knoxville, Tennessee. Our town topped off with four and a half inches of snow, but our stupid superintendent refused to cancel school. But hey, this is the same idiot who didn't salt the high school sidewalks after an ice storm when GK was a sophomore.

So that was our quasi-vacation adventures. On the plus-side, I got lots of good info on the city of Denver itself, especially the old industrial section they're renovating and turning into multi-use structures. I got to visit Mile High Comics to get some reference materials for the 888-555-HERO series. And I got to try marijuana, or at least a derivative, for the first time. Despite the scary travel conditions, it was a productive business trip.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Road Trip Adventures, Part 1

Some time ago, DH and I planned to a trip to St. Louis to see friends and family. In the midst of getting everything ready, we learned Genius Kid wasn't getting leave after all. Such is the ways of military life.

Also in the middle of everything, DH's division was sold to another company. The new employer, based in Denver, wanted to have a company-wide face-to-face event.

The same week we were supposed to be in St. Louis.

DH and I looked at each other, then at the map. What if we went to St. Louis on Tuesday like we planned and simply drove out to Denver on Wednesday in time for the company-wide meeting on Thursday?

For those of you wondering why we didn't just fly, DH doesn't get on airplanes any more. He freely admits to his phobia. The last time he got on a plane was for his grandmother's funeral in 2002, but that was only because he couldn't make the drive from Houston to Toledo in time.

The new employer coughed up the money for everyone to stay at a downtown hotel, which was awesome foresight on whoever organized the event. It was essentially neutral territory for old and new employees to get a feel for each other.

The new employer also didn't have a problem with me tagging along since we were supposed to be on vacation. Denver turned into a work/research trip. I wrote on my NaNo project and did some research for Denver as the setting for a duology under the Alter Ego name.

Everything started off okay on Tuesday. We stopped to vote, picked up breakfast, and dropped off Bella at the doggie hotel on our way out of town. Other than road construction in Indiana and an accident in St. Louis itself, we made decent time. We had a lovely dinner at an Italian restaurant with our friends Becky and Tony and caught up with them.

Wednesday started as a gorgeous day, sunny and clear. Temperatures climbed into the high 60's as we crossed Missouri and the first half of Kansas. No sign of inclement weather on our path west according to the radar and news reports. We stopped for a decent lunch because we knew we wouldn't get into Denver until 11 p.m. local time.

After dark, the temps plummeted into the 30's. The real problems started about twenty miles before we reached the Colorado border. Spritz hit the windshield. When DH flipped the windshield wipers, the moisture smeared and stayed.

"Please tell me that's road mud and bug guts," I pleaded.

"It's not," DH said.

We cranked up the heat on the defrosters. I checked local weather while DH slowed his speed in the freezing rain. Nothing was showing up on the radar until we reached the border. A little splotch of pink showed up on the radar right in the middle of our path on the interstate. We decided to go on to see if we could get out of it.

Conditions disintegrated fast. DH followed a semi. The experienced truckers know what they're doing. Speed dropped some more until we were all crawling along about 30 miles per hour. Then we and the semi in front of us started sliding all over the place.

This was about 9 p.m.CST. We were nowhere near any hotels. We followed the semi to an exit and pulled into the same convenience store at a little burg called Stratton. The store had a massive parking lot, and there were already a dozen tractor-trailers parked there.

We went inside to use the restroom and get some snacks. More and more travelers pulled into the lot.

As DH and I debated what to do, a man named Tim asked where we were headed. When we said Denver, he shook his head. He worked for CDOT and had been called into work three hours early. "You're not going to make it to Denver tonight."

The story was the same for all the locals who came in. The damn freezing rain came out of nowhere, and the roads were covered with black ice. DH checked for local hotels, but the closest ones were sixty miles away and filling up fast.

The husband of one of the clerks also worked for CDOT. She texted him about the travelers pulling over. He called her and said everything had gone to shit. He was having difficulty staying on the interstate himself as he salted.

That was the deciding factor for a lot of us. We would sleep in our vehicles and wait for morning. The clerks made sure everyone had a chance to use the rest room and had enough fuel to last us through the night before they closed up at 10 p.m.

I bought a fleece hoodie because I didn't feel like rooting around our luggage in the freezing rain for something warmer. I also bought some CBD gummies with melatonin in the hopes they would help me sleep.

DH and I sat in our car. The parking lot was on enough of a rise we could see east side of I-70. More truckers pulled into the parking lot over the next hour. When it filled, the truckers lined up along the median to wait out the weather.

A fire truck and an ambulance from Stratton headed west. Another ambulance headed east. Our hearts stopped for an instant when the eastbound ambulance slid on ice, but the driver regained control. Once his flashing lights disappeared, there was no one, and I mean no one, on the interstate.

DH ran our engine for five minutes while we adjusted our seats. With my overshirt as a pillow, my jacket as a blanket, and the hoodie's pocket to keep my hands warm, I was fairly comfortable. DH turned off the engine, and we fell asleep in our very own ice cave.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Monday, November 11, 2019

On the Road Again

If you're reading this on Monday, DH and I are on our way home from Denver, Colorado.

DH took last week off, and we were headed to St. Louis. However, DH's employer sold his division to another company. The new employers wanted to throw a big welcome party (which is kind of nice) so everyone could get to know each other. To top it off, they were flying everyone to Denver.

Well, we were already roughly half-way there. Not to mention, DH no longer does planes. At least, not without sleeping pills. As I told the flight attendant on our honeymoon, "Trust me. You want him drugged."

So we drove the rest of the way to Denver for DH's meeting and I used it as a research trip for one of Alter Ego's books. However, copious notes for the new book aside, I probably holed up in the hotel room or the nearby Starbucks for a good chunk of the stay to work on my NaNo project.

The real question is how much pain I'll be when we get home. Let's keep our fingers crossed that I'm as healthy as I think I am.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Friday, November 8, 2019

Real Life Vampires

Is it just me or have a large number of indie writers turned to writing how-to books for writers instead of writing fiction?

Yes, money's down for a lot of writers when it comes to fiction.

First of all, the complaints are coming at a normal time of the year. August-September is filled with parents and grandparents dealing with new schedules, new schools, and new kids' clothes. It's all our readers can do to deal with their own job, homework, and dinner before they collapse on the couch in exhaustion, only to run the same race the next day.

There's not too much you can do about the natural yearly highs and lows of books sales.

Secondly, I know I can't just put out a book and make a ton of dosh anymore, but I expected that with a maturing system. A lot of folks seem to think the gold rush should have kept going forever. Those writers with business experience realized it wasn't going to and made adjustments. Those who haven't? Well, they have seen a sharp decline in sales.

Why? Because there's a surplus of material. Hell, I've got 559 books in Kindle right now. I've read maybe 100 of them so far. That doesn't count the 1,000+ paper books, and the Nook and iBook books I haven't read yet.

Do I think people should stop writing? Nope. That's not my worry.

It's seems like more and more writers are supplementing their income by writing and selling industry-related how-to books. But a lot of these folks don't have the expertise they claim they have.

Or worse, they advocate gray hat or black hat tactics that will lose a new author not only their money, but their retailer accounts and their reputations.

"But, wait!" I hear some of you saying. "You put out a book on business planning a few years ago."

Yes, I did, but it was based on experience as a lawyer writing up business plans, both for personal use and for clients. By the same token, I took the book down when I didn't have enough time to update it properly. So much was changing so fast in the early days of indie publishing. The last thing any new writer needed was outdated information.

And that's probably the difference. I took my ethics seriously as an attorney, and I still do as a writer. I believe we should be making money from our art. Not from speaking engagements. Not from shilling get-rich-quick schemes to people with stars in their eyes.

Does this mean every self-help thing is bullshit? No, but take a hard, HARD look at who's offering it and what their bonafides are. And I don't mean their fucking Amazon rank. That number is irrelevant. It doesn't tell the whole story of someone's income, much less their entire career.

In any time of chaotic change, there are those looking to make a difference and those who want to suck those dreams and dollars from anyone. Take a hard look at what anyone, including me, is offering.

Ask the hard questions. Follow the money path. Who's actually profiting from your time and your money? What are you really getting from the services and/or products offered?

Most of all, remember that when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is too good to be true.

It's okay not to know everything. None of us does. But you and your work are the most important things, and you need to do everything in your power to protect them.

Good luck!


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Best Thing to Help Yourself

I'm in a weird position in that I basically had to start over with my career this year. My sales gradually fell from 2014 through 2018 simply because I was lucky if I got one book out a year. When I did manage to publish, it was at random times during the year.

I can honestly say there are two things that work in getting reader eyeballs on your stories:

1) A new release triggers interest in all our other works.

2) Publish on a consistent and manageable schedule.

New releases doesn't mean a new novel every month. Put out a single short story or a novella in between bigger novels. If your schedule is too tight for new work, publish an anthology of previous short works, or a collection from a series.

When I say publish on a consistent schedule, post your publishing schedule for the year in a public place, like your website, and stick to it. You don't have to release a something every month.

And now, some of you are freaking. "But, but, SUZAN! You published nearly every month in 2019!"

Yeah, I did. Because I WROTE a good chunk of those books during the chaos of 2014-18, including during my stint with breast cancer. So it was a matter of finishing and/or polishing the new works this year.

And shit still happened in happened. A Matter of Death was supposed to come out in June. However, my father passed away in May, and I knew the novel wasn't going to be ready because my headspace wasn't there. So if something major happens, cut yourself a break and don't beat yourself up over it. Let your readers know there will be a delay, and why if you're comfortable enough.

You'll find readers can be very patient when it comes to reader life rolls as long as they know what's going on.

Will I be releasing eight stories in 2020? That's what I've been trying to figure out  over the last couple of weeks.

There's a couple of Justice Thalia short stories I've written. Do I release them singly, or do I write a couple more and release them as an anthology? Some readers want new Anthea novels, Others want new HERO books. There's a little paranormal mystery series I've been toying with. It's a spin-off of Bloodlines that has been nagging at me for several years.

So you see, I've got to figure out how I'm doing all of this. And that doesn't include a fun, one-off side project I really want to write, even though it probably won't sell a damn.

Back to my original point, release new content, release it consistently, and let your readers know when to expect it. And as always, YMMV.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Monday Movie Mania - Zombeland: Double Tap

Yes, DH and I finally made it to a movie! Our first since viewing Rocket Man back in the middle of June. I don't know how much is the lack of anything we want to see or simply our lack of time. It seems like there's a lot of reboots and sequels.

But one sequel I have been looking forward to was Zombieland: Double Tap. I loved the original!

There's not a whole lot to spoil if you've seen the first movie, but I'll give the warning anyway in case you didn't see the first movie. We start by catching up with our original quartet ten years after the initial zombie outbreaak: Tallahassee, Columbus, Little Rock, and Wichita.


* * *


SPOILERS!!


* * *


PROS
1) Double Tap doesn't go for the gross-out jokes of the first movie, but the laughs are still there (hint: blue suede shoes), and there's a little more emotional development amongst the characters.

2) Love interests are developed for both Tallahassee and Little Rock.

3) The mid-credits cameos is so worth staying for!


CONS
1) What? Absolutely, no Twinkie jokes? Unfortunately, the Hostess brand was bought by another company between the two movies, and the new owners probably didn't have much of a sense of humor in regards to their product's freshness and quality since they were trying to resurrect a zombie brand. BWAHAHAHA!

2) Really? Dumb blonde jokes? *sigh*


Overall, Double Tap is a worthy successor to Zombieland. I give it 9 out of 10.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

I Love the '80's!

Everyone was singing this tune the summer of '88.


Friday, November 1, 2019

It's NaNoWriMo Time!

This year's project is A Touch of Mother, the fourth novel in the Justice series. Anthea and Luc are back home after the events of A Matter of Death, but that doesn't mean all is quiet and peaceful again in Orrin...

Squee! I can't wait to see what happens next!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Quiet Day

It's raining like the dickens, and I have a print edition I need to finish proofing. In the meantime, here's a little pre-Halloween fun for you....


Sunday, October 27, 2019

When You Have to Find Someone!

Alta Dee Hayden! I need you to contact me through the contact widget on this page! (Don't worry! You're not in trouble!)

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Friday, October 25, 2019

Release Day - Resurrected!

THIS IS THE END!

A necromancer awakes from his coma. A vampire owes a god of death a favor, and the deity demands his payment. A very dead ancient Egyptian prince finds himself back in the land of the living in another man’s body. And a single mother still blames her sister-in-law for the death of her husband.

Sam Ridgeway doesn’t know these four people are her personal Horsemen. The Harbingers of Armageddon. And they are more interested in their own agendas. Because if they can’t control Sam, they will have to kill her.

And if Sam dies, so does the world.

**Links will be updated as they go live.

Amazon
Apple
Barnes & Noble
Google Play
Kobo
Smashwords

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Bloodlines Books Discounted!

As part of the Resurrected promotion, the first and second books of the Bloodlines series are available for $0.99. Yep, that's right. Both Blood Magick and Zombie Love are $0.99 each from now until Halloween (October 31th) at most major e-book retailers.

If you haven't checked out this series, now's the time to get started!

BLOOD MAGICK
Amazon, all countries
Apple
Barnes & Noble
Google Play
Kobo
Smashwords

ZOMBIE LOVE
Amazon, all countries
Apple
Barnes & Noble
Google Play
Kobo
Smashwords

Resurrected hits the virtual shelves on October 25th!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Pesky Last Details

Still going through  the file my formatter sent to me. I should be back on track by Wednesday. See you then!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Editing! Oh, Yes, I'm Editing!

Sung to the tune of "I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story.

Another short post just to say, I'm neck-deep in editing Resurrected. So back to work!

(Now, where did I put those bite-sized Snickers...)

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Wanting to Sleep

I'm so freaking exhausted, but I completed the first draft of Resurrected last night. However, I need to get the manuscript edited and to my formatter since the release date is only ten days away.

See y'all on the flip side!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Deadlines!

Just a quick note to say, yes, I'm alive!

Even though I gave myself plenty of time especially with Genius Kid's graduation coming up, I didn't expect some other things that had to be penciled in over the next six weeks. (Don't worry! Not medically related.) I'm determined to get these last two books done and out on time for the year, dammit!

So things may be quiet around here for the next few weeks. I'll post something fun when I can.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Keeping Your Head Above Water - Part 2

Once upon a time, Amazon worked hard to give their customers what the customers wanted. The Amazon algorithms were built so that if anyone typed in "vampire romance" in the Books category of the search box, they would get a list of the most popular vampire romance novels. Ones that were the best-selling and/or most read.

Now the first couple of books are "Sponsored", i.e. the publisher who paid the most for the ad to pop up.

"That's not a big deal," a few of you are saying. It is when "pay to play" results in a lot of good books not even being show to customers.

In another example, I also collect Wonder Woman paraphernalia. When I type in "Wonder Woman" for the entire store, what show up first? All the editions of Spider-man: Far From Home because it's the big ticket item Amazon is currently pushing.

Amazon day-to-day management has allegedly done a complete 180. Consumer pleasure is no longer their driving goal. Maximizing profit is. That agenda was allegedly pushed by a few executive. The internal war resulted in situations like my Wonder Woman example, despite both the techs in Amazon subsidiary A9 and Amazon's own legal team protesting the move.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on this matter on September 16th of the year. (I posted the link but it is behind a paywall. Here's Gizmodo's breakdown of WSJ article and its follow-up if you don't feel like paying the WSJ.)

Once the cat was out of the bag, someone changed the A9.com link to point directly at the Amazon store. This type of squirrely behavior isn't going to help with the current EU antitrust probe into Amazon's activities.

"But-but my books are in KU!" you protest. "The reader only pays $9.99 to read everything!"

That's not the full story either. Amazon has changed their Prime subscription so unlimited borrowing is available to Prime members instead of having to may that additional $9.99. That means income for the Kindle Unlimited pot is down.

Another part is the backlash by readers for some of the scams that have been going through KU. Some readers refuse to subscribe anymore because of some of the problems. Other readers are angry their favorite authors have been caught and banned by Amazon.

All of the above combined is part of the reason both money page reads are down. Too many writers rely on Kindle Unlimited for their income. These writers have no additional income streams, and that's going to hurt them, especially if the US DOJ comes after Amazon for anti-trust violations.

Which is entirely possible considering the current president's personal hatred of Jeff Bezos. But hey, if the Amazon execs are that stupid to draw the DOJ's attention, the fault is totally on them.

So, what should writers do? Start looking at other retailers. I'm not saying take everything wide if you're not comfortable. There are medium points between KH and wide.

For example, only my 888-555-HERO series is currently in KU. All other series are wide. Next year, I plan to pull HERO out of KU and go wide with it while I put a new series into KU. That's right--a new series, not one of the older ones. In the meantime, the paperbacks of HERO are available at lots of retailers including Barnes & Noble  and Powell's.

This is merely MY plan. Other writers need to figure out theirs because there's no plan that's right for everyone.

YMMV

Monday, October 7, 2019

Keeping Your Head Above Water - Part 1

Yes, money's down for a lot of writers when it comes to fiction. I know I can't just put out a book and make some dosh anymore, but I expected that with a maturing system. A lot of folks seem to think the gold rush should have kept going forever. Those writers with business experience realized it wasn't going to and made adjustments. Those who haven't have seen a sharp decline in sales.

I'm in a weird position in that I've had to start over with my career this year. My sales gradually fell from 2014 through 2018 simply because I was lucky if I got one book out a year. When I did manage to publish, it was at random times during the year.

I can honestly say there are two things that work:

1) A new release triggers interest in all our other works.

2) Publish on a consistent schedule.

New books doesn't mean a new novel. It can be a novella or a short story. The new release doesn't have to be for sale either.

I posted a short story on my website about Justice's lead character's grandmother between the releases of A Modicum of Truth and A Matter of Death to keep readers interest.

Also, a consistent schedule doesn't mean releasing a novel every week or every day. (Yeah, I've heard of people doing that.) First, that's only going to fry your brain. A fried brain means no books.

Can you produce that often by hiring ghostwriters? Yeah, you can, but there's a couple of things to consider:

1) Can your ghostwriters match your quality? Or are you going to spend too much of your time managing them?

2) Are you going to burn out your readers? As much as readers love a series, there can be a point of diminishing returns. Either the readers get tired of the same thing over and over. Or the readers' attention or pocketbooks can't keep up with everything you release.

One of the cool things to come out of Amazon is being able to schedule preorders for your releases up to a year in the future. If you're a slow writer like me, it's reassuring for the readers to see when your next release in their favorite series is coming out.

On Wednesday, I'll talk about some of the issue with Kindle Unlimited and other changes on the Amazon retail store.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Friday, October 4, 2019

BOOK SALE!!

There's good news and bad news.

BAD NEWS
As of October 31st, Amazon is discontinuing its Matchbook program. For those who don't know what that this, some publishers have deals set up where if you buy the paperback novel you can get the e-book of that same novel for a deep discount or free.

GOOD NEWS
Angry Sheep Publishing has most of my e-book novels and anthologies set to free in this program.

Even better, Amazon has been marking down a lot of my paperbacks. Some really good discounts too, like 25-66%. With the holidays coming up, you could buy the paperback and keep the e-book for yourself.

For example, the paperback of Hero Ad Hoc is $4.57 in the US store as of this posting, so you could buy it and the e-book version for $4.57 plus tax. Check it out if you're interested!


Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Tell Me Again How There's No Global Warming

I can honestly say I haven't been tempted to go outside and enjoy fall weather when I should be working on my wips.

We haven't had any. Fall weather, that is.

Our trees should look like this. I should be able to enjoy a hot cup of pumpkin spice latte in my hands. I should be wearing jeans by now.

Instead, it's October and ninety effing degrees. I'm wearing shorts. Even Bella is flopped on the other recliner because it's too damn hot for her to be in my lap.

And that's with the A/C on.

You expect this kind of weather in south Texas in October, not northwest Ohio.

I think I may nudge the thermostat down another couple degrees, and I'll get back to my wip.

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Doggie Trick or Treat

That look says it all. "Mom, why are you doing this to me?"

I wanted to get a shirt for Bella before cold weather really sets in. This little fashion arrived Sunday morning, and she wore it while the temps were still in the 60's.

NO, I'm not one of THOSE dog owners. Since both Yorkies and Maltese have one layer of hair, instead of a double-layer of fur like most canines, they have trouble regulating their body temperature. They need protection from cold weather just like we humans do.

Once it warmed later yesterday afternoon, we took the shirt off our baby. It's supposed to in the 90's for the next three days, so she's not going to need it.

For now, the A/C's running, Bella's cuddled in my lap, and  it's time to write.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Catch-up Fridays

I've been busting my butt to get Resurrected finished. The writing is going pretty smoothly since it's been done in my head for years now. I just have to leave the house because I'd much rather play with the new dog (who's butt is once again on my arm as I type).

Today was bill day, so I've got a stack of mail to get dropped and a pile of paper that needs to be filed.

These little tasks means I have the TV on. I've been watching Supernatural from the beginning since the last season starts in two weeks.

To top off the week, someone I used to respect has been very clickbaity this year. I've stopped reading this person's blog. I know things are changing in indie publishing, but the things people are doing to rake in the dough is turning my stomach.

Something else I'm questioning is whether to release my newsletters more often. I've been keeping up my publication schedule this year. However, a part of me is a little superstitious. I fear if I send newsletters more often, another life bomb will explode in my face, and I'll be back down to one or two releases per year.

So many questions--no real answers.

However, one thing I can control is my word count. So, back to my wip I go!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Writing Backward

When I get stuck in the middle of the story I'm currently working, I usually go clean the bathroom. It's the chore I hate the worst. Therefore, my mind quickly formulates a solution to the problem.

But sometimes, not even a grody toilet can shake loose an answer.

That's when I start writing backward.

Not literally. I write the last chapter so I know my destination. If that doesn't produce an idea for the middle of the book, I write the next-to-last chapter. And so on and so forth. By knowing where I need to go, I can layer in the elements back at the beginning and middle in order to get to the end.

Will this work for everyone? Hell if I know. It's worked for me a couple of times.

Here's the thing. You have got to figure out what works for you. There isn't a one-size fits all method for writing.

But if you need to do something to jar you out of the quicksand you're in, my bathroom could use a good scrubbing.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Puppy Butts on My Arm

My desk is currently covered with piles of receipts, dog paraphernalia, and cancer-related crap, so I've been mainly working while sitting in my recliner. Bella loves curling up with me. For whatever reason though, her butt has to be touching me.

This picture is from this morning. What you can't see is her new pink Kong. It's tucked under her hip and ear. In the last forty-eight hours, the Kong has not left her side.

In the meantime, I'll keep typing one-handed.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Why Would You Take a Trad Deal?

The lovely Phoenix Sullivan posted an interesting Twitter thread yesterday. She talks about her efforts to secure a trad deal to expand her revenue streams and the lack of enthusiastic response to her frank talk about money.

I wish I could say I was surprised by the responses she's received from agents and editors. Five years ago, I talked about a post written by agent Donald Maass. His opinions of the worthlessness of both midlisters and indie writers was derogatory at best. This attitude has infected nearly every corner of trad publishing now. There's a few areas that remain open-minded, but those generally involve pet anthology projects from what I've been seeing.

The problem from the trad publishers' perspective is that we indies are competing with them for the same dollars. It doesn't matter what kind of hard-earned savvy we bring to the table. To trad publishers, why pay a competitor when there are plenty of shills willing to accept $0 advance just from the privilege of having someone choose them?

And that's what it comes down to--what is the real reward you the writer wants for signing a deal?

Indies are often mocked for only caring about the money. In some cases, that's true. However, a lot of us love the freedom being indie affords us. I can write what I want, when I want, instead of being ordered to write in a genre I detest.

And having a book with a trad publisher isn't really broadening your income stream. They go through the same retailers and distributors indies do. To broaden our income streams we need to look at licensing our stories, characters, and worlds. (For more on this, check out Kris Rusch's blog series on licensing starting here.)

Overall, it always come down to the readers. As long as I'm entertaining them, they will be willing to pay for my stories. When I stop doing that, they'll move on. This is a truth that applies to both trad published and indie writers whether we like it or not.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Promotion and Advertising Shock

It's been several years since I've actively promoted my books, much less bought advertising. I feel like I'm swimming in a sea of information with waves washing over me in their efforts to drown my tiny little books.

Back when I started publishing in 2011, e-books were the red-headed stepchild of the publishing world. So I didn't have to do a lot. People with e-readers were starving for content because the bigger publishers couldn't deign to put their products out in e-book formats. Print was king!

I sold a shit-ton of books simply by uploading them, then listing them on social media. Maybe a few friends would mention my work on their blogs. Blog tours were big back then. Or someone would put an excerpt in the back of their book. E-book promo sites were in their infancy, and there were a plethora to choose from. You had to have your ear out with those who worked and those who were looking to make a quick buck from writers.

Nearly nine years later, none of the things I did back in 2011 will work today. Plus, the big publishers have woken up. They now like to undercut indies by putting their backlists on sale. (Seriously, I picked up the first nine books of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series for $1.99.) So the competition has stepped up.

What does this all mean? We indies are now competing with the big fish on ad spend. Especially with ads on Facebook, Amazon, and Bookbub.

There's still e-book promo sites, though they are fewer, and the ones that survived have become bigger. Bookbub has become a monster in its own right. No longer is it just a daily e-mail newsletter, but paid ads on both its website and the newsletter. The bigger publishers realize what a difference a BB newsletter makes, and they now run regular promos with their backlists.

I'm tentatively dipping my toes in the new ad/promo pool. It's more expensive than it used to be. But I'm being selective about which companies I use, and I'm keeping a strict accounting of the money I spend. I've heard too many stories of people spending $25K to make $30K. That's way too much overhead for my tastes.

I've got some things lined up for the rest of the year. Hopefully, I'll have some good data of what works and what doesn't in January.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Release Day!

Need something to do besides watching football on a Sunday? Ghouls in the Grocery Store is out! The penultimate chapter of the Bloodlines saga focuses on Tiffany Stephens and her daughter Ellie after the tragic events of Sacrificed.

GHOULS IN THE GROCERY STORE

After the murder of her husband by enemies of her uncle’s coven, Tiffany Stephens wants a normal life for her five-year-old daughter. But little Ellie’s blood hold the key to the vampires’ salvation or their destruction, and there are those who will stop at nothing to obtain the child.

Jake Wong will do anything to protect his best friend’s daughter, but can he convince Max’s widow second chances are the best thing for both of them as well as Ellie?

Amazon US
Amazon, all other countries
Apple
Barnes & Noble
Google Play
Kobo
Smashwords

Friday, September 13, 2019

Enforced Rest for the Wicked Writer

I have a minor procedure this morning, so Bella and I will be crashing on my recliner and watching Supernatural on Netflix while I shake off the effects of the anesthesia.

Have a great weekend, everyone! We'll catch you on the other side.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

No Rest for the Wicked Writer

I've spent the last couple of days working on the last three releases for this year and the first two for 2020. It means setting up what I call the blurb pages, i.e. the document that lists the pertinent information about the book, such as title, series, author, ISBNs, ad blurb, links, prices, etc.

As I'm entering the information on Bowker, I realize I've almost used up the first 100 ISBNs I purchased back in 2011. That's two per book, one for the EPUB and one for the trade paperback. What happens when I start doing audio? Or hardbacks? It all adds up quick.

DH and I discussed the purchase of more ISBNs over lunch this afternoon. I'm leaning toward purchasing the 1000-pack after the first of the year. If I get my act together with Alter Ego's releases, I'm going to need a lot more than 100.

Some folks advocate not using ISBNs, and that's their prerogative. However, I've found that having a company name, logo, and ISBNs specifically assigned to that company means retailers of all stripes take my little publishing business more seriously.

After all, I not just a writer. I'm a mad and fluffy micro-publisher!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Saving the Planet One Dog at a Time

This is Bella. After swearing upon all the gods that are, have been, and ever will be I would not get another dog after my last beagle's death four years ago, this sweet, little thing seduced me into adopting her.

Bella is a Yorkie-Maltese mix. She was at a no-kill, pet rescue down the road from us. The people at the rescue have tried to place Bella twice before I met her. In both instances, the owners returned her a month later. The things they complained about? Well, they are relatively minor issues, and patience and love were not used to correct the behavior they objected to. Let's just say over the last three days, we've had to give her lots of cuddles because she always thinks she's going to be punished.

Since we still don't have a house yet, Bella is the perfect size for an apartment. She loves to curl up next to me while I write and edit though she just moved over to DH's recliner (where she's sitting in this picture) because Mommy's having one hell of a hot flash, and she's too warm even for Bella.

Now, I'm getting on my soapbox. Dogs are not fashion accessories or status symbols. They are pack animals. They want and need contact with other members of their pack. If you bring a dog into your home, you are that dog's pack. Treat them right, and you'll have someone so loyal to you, they will put their life on the line for you. They will love you unconditionally. If you're not willing to return that commitment, please, PLEASE don't get a dog.

Okay, I'm climbing off my soapbox now. It's time for our walk.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

I Love the '80's

Last month, I had too much fun looking up what are now obscure songs from when I was in high school and college, so I'm continuing in September.


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Cheaters Never Prosper

I've been avoiding the subject of a bunch of authors slammed by the Amazon ban hammer over the last year. Why? Because I wanted to see how things shake out.

Maybe it's because I used to be an attorney, but I never take anyone at their word anymore. All the parties in a lawsuit are after something. Something they don't necessarily want the judge, jury, mediator, or arbitrator to know. And no one is totally innocent.

But a few recent cases actually made me take Amazon's side.

Their TOS is pretty fucking clear. (Except for where the line between erotica and pornography is. These days, most of us who write in the erotica genre have a clue where the mines are in the field and know better than to cross them.) But here's the thing, Amazon ain't REQUIRED to carry anybody's shit.

Including mine. Which is why I've tried to keep my nose clean since the 2013 Pornocalypse.

But like Faleena Hopkins and others before them, there's a few bad actors who are trying to proclaim their innocence and accuse Amazon of picking on them. Some of their reasoning is rather disingenuous.

Michael Scott Earle lost his arbitration case against Amazon last week. His attorneys' press release on the matter was, at best, laughable. What the press release left out was that MSE tried to sneak his books back on Amazon through another publishing company prior to the arbitration.

Furthermore, MSE went all-Faleena in trying to trademark single words or common terms within pop culture. "Dragon Slayer" was denied by the USPTO. However, "Tamer" managed to get through. There's currently a lawsuit to overturn that approval backed by the Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and the Author's Guild.

Then there's Alexa Riley, or actually the two young ladies who use the pseudonym of AR. Back in July, a lot of people were surprised that Amazon would *gasp* ban a top-selling romance author!

However, Amazon did not ban all of AR's books. They only banned AR's self-published books, not the ones published by Harlequin.

The ladies haven't admitted to anything, though there's a lot of speculation and suspicion in the writer communities including accusations of book stuffing, i.e. including multiple stories in a file without labeling it as a bundle or anthology. I do know that they used words in erotica titles that were banned back in 2013, such as "virgin".

Whatever pissed off the Powers That Be at Amazon was exacerbated  when the ladies also tried an end-runaround of the ban by signing a distribution deal with Entangled Publishing. The AR books Entangled put up on Amazon near the end of August disappeared from the retailer within hours.

I'm going to stick with the same thoughts I had when the subjects come up, as they invariable do, on writer-related social media. Would you go into a casino and disobey their rules?

Seriously, what happens if you count cards in blackjack, exchange the dice on craps, or swap out the ball at the roulette table? If you're lucky, you only get banned from the establishment.

Well, it's Amazon's house and Amazon's rules. They can ban anyone they want for just about any reason they want. Just be happy the company isn't run by the Mob.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Happy Labor Day!

I looked up from finishing the first round of edits on Ghouls in the Grocery Store to find out it was September already.

Unlike DH, I don't have today off. That's part of the joy and curse of being self-employed. I need to wrap up this project and do the same for Resurrected so I can take some time off in a few weeks to go to GK's graduation from boot camp and visit with a friend who recently moved to the same state where the base is located. No cook-outs today is a small price to pay.

I hope the rest of you enjoy your day off!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day is a day to celebrate workers' rights. All the things our predecessors went through, including being murdered, to give us the workweek and benefits we have now. I could go on and on about how those rights are being eroded.

But the paradigm is starting to change. More and more people, like me, are jumping on the entrepreneurial bandwagon. We feel we have to work harder and faster than everyone else around us to succeed.

And we end up burning ourselves out in the process. The very things our predecessors fought so hard for, we don't take them into consideration. No one is forcing us to work so hard except ourselves.

Especially creatives. We need time to refill the well. More and more of my colleagues are taking one day of the week to themselves. To read. Walk. Play with their children. Spend quality time with their significant others. Watch the stars spin across the sky. To refill that well.

So no matter what you do for a living, take a moment to simply breath this weekend and enjoy being alive.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

It's Too Quiet on the Western Front

After all the tricks I learned to tune out the guys in a small apartment, I found it was too quiet yesterday.

Genius Kid left for Army basic training at the beginning of the week. The local school districts started this week as well, which means DH was at the soccer stadium running the time clock for games. I ended up driving over to one of the Tim Horton's in town for some background noise so I could get words in on Resurrected.

I know it's going to be an adjustment period. But I'm already looking at the Ohio dog rescue websites for a furbaby who would be good for apartment living.

After I swore I was not getting another dog after Dax died four years ago.

Goddess, I need help!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Karma's a Bitch

Here's a warning for all of you!!

Hug your mom before you leave. Doesn't matter how old you are or where your going. Otherwise, Karma will delay you in Chicago O'Hare in the middle of a thunderstorm. BWAHAHAHA!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Kicking the Chicks Out to Fly

I'm in the process of trying to polish Ghouls in the Grocery Store and get it out to my formatter by tomorrow. It will be the sixth story I've published this year. I haven't had this kind of publication rate since 2013, and I have to admit it's kind of nice.

The reason for the rush is I probably won't be able to work on it until Tuesday. Editing takes a little more brain power than I have right now.

We're having a family get together Saturday night for Genius Kid. The recruiters are taking him and some other kids to the local MEPS facility on Sunday. And Monday morning, Darling Husband and I are driving to the MEPS facility very early in the morning to watch GK be sworn in (again) before the Army flies him to boot camp.

I'm excited GK's moving on to the next stage in his life. I'm amused after all his complaining that he didn't want to continue his formal education and work a desk job like DH and me that's exactly what Uncle Sam is having him do. I'm a little sad that my baby boy has been replaced by a young man who's ready to tackle the world.

DH and I have been reminiscing about GK's antics from years gone by. Like how every color was purple just to get a rise out of the adults. His wicked giggle when he was licked by the dogs. Talking about battle tactics of famous generals ad nauseam.

When we were doing so last night, GK accused us of trying to pressure him into giving us grandchildren. Not really. Just marveling how someone, or something can change as time flies by.

It's not much different with my stories. Or more especially my series. Bloodlines was supposed to be a single title, not nine novels, two short stories and two novellas. Justice was a one-shot short story in an attempt at getting published in a trad anthology. Six short stories and three novels later, it's going strong. 888-555-HERO was also supposed to be a single title. It turned into a trilogy, and readers are asking for more so they're getting a Christmas story that started as a novella and has quickly turned into a full-sized novel in itself.

You're never sure where people, both real and imaginary, will go in life. All you can do is hang on for the ride.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Wait! When was Monday?

Uh, yeah. Kind of forgot to post anything Monday morning.

I'm trying to get Ghouls in the Grocery Store wrapped up and to my formatter before this weekend. We're having a family get-together Saturday before Genius Kid heads out to boot camp.

I probably shouldn't call him Genius Kid anymore. He's a young man making his own decisions in life. I'm so used to being responsible for every little thing. Now, he's headed into the big wide world. All I can do is hope his dad and I gave him the skills he needs to survive the insanity of our planet.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Reality Bites Is Out!

What's this? A Thursday post?

Yes, Reality Bites is out! My first Bloodlines story in eighteen months, and Number 3 on the countdown to the end of the series!

REALITY BITES

Being a regular human in the supernatural world is never easy, something Mai Osaka learned before she could walk. So when her boyfriend’s fairy ex strolls into the casino where Mai is head of security, she knows there’s more to the Seelie’s story than she’s telling. But can Mai figure out the real plan and who’s behind it before the fae pull the biggest heist in the history of Las Vegas?

Amazon, all countries
Apple
Barnes & Noble
Google Play
Kobo
Smashwords


And just a reminder--Ghouls in the Grocery Store and Resurrected are already on preorder!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The August Doldrums

I get perverse amusement out of indie writers who panic during the month of August. Which is to say, most of them. And it happens every fricking year.

Why? Let me give you a hint--the high school teacher's parking lot was nearly full as I drove past this morning on the way to a doctor's appointment.

For my romances, I literally see sales stop the first week of school in the U.S. Fantasy slows way down, too, to barely a blip on my dashboards. Because my readers are dealing with changes in their children's schedules (which the little buggers hate) and changes to their own schedules (which the moms are dealing with in addition to the tots' temper tantrums and the "I can't find my brand new shoes!"). They barely have a breath left to keep from falling asleep face first in their dinner, much less read.

"But not all readers have school-age children!" you cry.

True, but a lot of my baby boomer readers are watching their grandchildren. Those still working themselves have to deal with the extra traffic in the mornings and evenings. And at the end of the day, they don't have the energy to read either. Or they want to enjoy that last little bit of sunshine and warmth before the cold arrives in earnest.

"But, but what if sales never pick up again?!"

Sales will pick up again, just like they always do. After trad publishers stop dumping their holiday offerings into the market, and everyone is finished with their holiday shopping. When the readers finally have time to breathe after the New Hallowthanksmas shenanigans are done.

In the meantime, why aren't you writing so you have a book to put out when everyone starts spending their gift cards in January?

Monday, August 12, 2019

A Brand New Week, A Brand New House?

We've been randomly looking at houses this year. Kind of, sort of resuming our house hunt after my cancer put a crimp in our plans over a year ago. Since we both work from home, we need space for offices, but we're trying to be real about our ages since I already had arthritis in my  knees.

However, I put a bug in DH's ear about maybe looking for a condo. Someplace where someone else dealt with the mowing and the snow.

Good idea, right? Except the very first condo we looked at, the one that said the master bedroom was on the main floor, had five freaking levels! And the description left out the part where the kitchen was on the top floor.

In all fairness, the place had an elevator. A teeny, tiny elevator. An elevator we could never get a wheelchair on.

So the search has gone on. The last one we looked at insinuated that it overlooked the water.

What water you ask? Nearly thirty years ago, someone decided to fill the old quarry at the edge of town with water and build condos and offices around it.

Needless to say, the condo was NOT on the quarry side of the subdivision. You could see the water if you walked to the very end of the drive. Nor was the condo something we thought we could live with. The front door opened into the dining room. The carpet needed to be replaced, etc. So, we passed.

As we were leaving, I idly wondered what appeared to be two-story condos that did face the water looked like on the inside. DH laughed and said, "Stairs!" That was back in June.

Last week, we received our notice that our lease expires in two months. So, assuming our hunt was on hold once again, I told our complex assistant manager we would be here another year.

Yesterday, DH's Zillow alert went off. Guess what just came on the market? Literally, one of the two-story condos across the drive from the last place we looked at. He texted our realtor, and now we're looking at it tonight.

But if the freaking kitchen is on the top floor, I'm heading straight back to the car.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Saving Readers from Bad Books...

...is probably the DUMBEST thing you can waste your time doing. Why? Because "bad" is such a subjective measure.

I know I say don't look at your reviews. What I looked at were the reviews given by a particular person who gave Zombie Confidential a one-star on Goodreads. And I laughed my ass off.

This person has weird criteria. If it's epic fantasy the book gets a five-star. If it's a classic, e.g. Pride and Prejudice or The Three Muskateers, it gets a two-star. If it has paranormal elements, especially vampires, they give the book a one-star.

Does this person have the right to their opinion? Sure!

However, there was no analysis. No foundation to this person's opinion. People who have given a written discourse while rating books in a similar pattern claim they are trying to save readers from what they deem to be "bad" books. If it's not what they love, then it has to suck.

But you can't make everyone love what you love. And someone isn't an idiot for loving something you don't.

I simply think it's sad people are wasting their finite time on this planet reading stuff they don't like.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Back to School

Nope, not GK. Me.

It's been a while since I've taken any formal classes regarding writing craft. As in years, which is a little sloppy of me since I really do believe in continuing education no matter what your career is.

Anyway, Dean Wesley Smith suggested I take his Depth in Writing online class before attending the Anthology Workshop in February. Not only has it been a while since I've taken a class, it's been even longer since I had homework.

So of course, the old performance anxiety reared its head because the class starts today. Last night's sleep was riddled with the nightmares where it's finals week and I haven't even cracked open the book. Or I forgot to drop a class and it's too late, so now I'm going to get an "F" because I haven't attended the class all semester.

Sometimes, my Subconscious can be a total bitch!