Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Wild, Wicked & Wacky Rewind from 2017

This post from March 24, 2017, about marketing still hold truths for today.

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Edit to Add: Ironically, Kris Rusch talked about a related issue this week. I suggest you go read her post on the massive amount of data we writers can collect on readers and our interactions with them.

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Indie writers have this tendency to freak about modern marketing. They generally seem to go one of two ways: either they promote the hell out of only one or two books or they panic and don't market at all.

The really big mistake I think a lot of writers make is failing understand their own work and target it to an inappropriate audience. I see a lot of new writers in the game make the same mistake the Big 5 make--they through spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. But they have no idea why something sticks.

I will say this, and it is just my opinion--permafree isn't working like it used to. Too many readers feel they've been burned by the writers, but bad writing and incoherent stories weren't the only problem.

A subset of readers will only accept or download free books. I'm not talking about folks on a limited budget. I'm not dissing those people. I've been there. I know what it's like when you don't have a choice between food and heat. When even having a TV was a luxury out of my reach. I was lucky my county library was within walking distance. And I ended up buying copies of the very same books I enjoyed through the library system.

I'm talking about those folks who feel entitled to anything they want for free. Those who mock anyone for being stupid to pay. Those who openly pirate. Those people are going to pay you anyway, so including them in your marketing plan is probably not in your best interest.

And these types of folks are an example of what I mean. You need to target your marketing efforts towards people likely to have an interest in and the wherewithal to buy your book. Not everyone on the planet will want to read your book no matter how great your book is. So get over the idea that your book is for everyone NOW!

Let's start by looking at my own family. Mom's into sweet romance. My father-in-law reads military history. Genius Kid loves manga and military sci-fi. Dad secretly reads my X-men comics. My sister is a major horror fan.

Now, let's pretend none of these people are my family. How would I market my sword-and-sorcery novels to them?

A lot of indies would say that since my heroine and hero are in a long-term relationship emphasize that aspect to my mother. My protagonists are fighting demons so highlight that element to my sister. And, you get the idea. And that lovely plan will probably fail.

What's wrong with this plan? Well, first of all, I asked the wrong damn question. My question should have been how do I market my book to people who already LOVE sword-and-sorcery. The people who are actively seeking the exact type of book I wrote.

Does this mean that other folks won't like my book? No, but you'll be wasting your time and money going after people who aren't likely to make your book their first choice.

So how does this apply in real life?

If you decide to run a Facebook ad, you don't include everyone who loves books. You narrow it down by genre and subgenre. I could can even narrow it down by looking at people who are fans of the type of sword-and-sorcery I emulate, i.e. Mercedes Lackey and Barbara Hambly, not Roberrt E. Howard.

One of the best examples of how NOT to market your entertainment is John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood.  Michael D. Sellers does an excellent job of detailing the screwed-up marketing on a movie that had a ready made audience.

The best thing you can do though is understand your potential audience before you do any marketing whatsoever.


Monday, February 24, 2020

Wild, Wicked & Wacky Rewind from 2016

And 2016 wasn't much better than 2015. FYI--this post from February 17, 2016, has some swears.

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I haven't written for the last three days. Withdrawals are making me grumpy.

As I mentioned Monday, DH tried to be sweet and valentine-y on Sunday by taking me out for dinner and a movie. The one positive thing this week, even though the movie didn't live up to what we had hoped.

Monday was the truly sucky part. I took DH's dad (aka Papa) to a second opinion appointment in Toledo. Bless the doctor, he tried to make it as easy as possible on Papa, but he confirmed there is a tumor. I will subsequently refer to the tumor as Muffy because DH's family frown on me calling it Mother Fucker.

The confirmation meant being emotionally supportive for Papa for a few extra hours. (Not Muffy, however. Muffy can go to hell as far as I'm concerned.) I think some part of him believes since I got DH through his cancer, I'll get him through his.

By the time I got home Monday evening, I was exhausted. I could barely chop up the ham to add to the soup beans. Thank goddess, I picked something easy to make for dinner. I curled up on the couch and watched the Grammys for the rest of the evening.

Yesterday, I tried to do something semi-productive after sleeping thirteen hours. I went through the 150 e-mails that had piled up over the last two weeks as we dealt with moving the in-laws into an assisted living apartment. One of the e-mails was a rather threatening one from Amazon saying that I need to turn on my Kindle's wi-fi NOW for an upgrade, or my Kindle becomes a paperweight.

Um, okay? I confirmed it was in fact from Amazon, but the help page regarding this required OS upgrade didn't have a lot of details, so I e-mail a couple of questions to Amazon.

For a company that prides itself on customer service, they have some of the most computer/device illiterate people on the face of the planet. Granted, I did ask a couple of technical question, but Jesus Heronius Christ! They should at least know how big the OS download is vs. the size of my 2nd Gen. Kindle's harddrive space!

The e-mail I received in reply made absolutely no sense, as if the CS person didn't bother to read my original e-mail. But, hey! Since I had trouble with the fucking upgrade Amazon would give me a $5 credit to buy e-books.

*facepalm*

Whatever was supposed to go through the wi-fi didn't work right (long story, won't bore you with the details) so I tried calling Amazon. The second CS person Raven didn't listen to me either. Because my issue was outside of her realm, she started to obviously read from a script. Then, she wouldn't let me get off the phone because she hadn't finished reading her fucking script!

Yeah, I know. I should have just hung up. *sigh*

Anyway, I backed up my Kindle and figured out how to do the manual upgrade before I got the e-mail from Raven with the links to the manual upgrade's download.

As for my poor abused 2nd Gen Kindle, so far, so good. Everything seems to be working. But if I wanted to be condescended to, I would have called Apple.

Or my mother.

After that, I curled up on the couch once again and binged on Supernatural and The Librarians.

Now, it's Wednesday. I printed off the 1099s, etc., from e-mails that I'll need for taxes. I'm going to Panera's in a little bit to see if I can get some writing done before I delve into to tax forms over the weekend.

And maybe later, I'll find something I want to read with that $5 credit that'll make me forget about Papa's upcoming surgery.

Yeah, cancer sucks far worse than Amazon on their worst days.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

I Love the '70s!

One of the best ballads of the century!


Friday, February 21, 2020

Wild, Wicked & Wacky Rewind from 2015

I'd forgotten just how bad 2015 was until I was searching through my posts. This post from December 30, 2015, had the least amount of swear words.

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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.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

WIld, WIcked & Wacky Rewind from 2014

Upon re-reading this particular post from December 19, 2014, I can say I've been buying a lot of Wonder Woman merchandise.

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In a stroke of marketing genius, Andy Mooney, Disney's chairman of Consumer Products, created the Disney Princess line in 2000 after observing several young girls dressed in generic princess attire while attending a Disney on Ice production. Mooney pulled together the female leads of several of the animated movie franchises, including the classics created under Walt Disney's supervision, the revival under Michael Eisner's leadership of the corporation, and CGI creations under John Lassiter as the former head of Pixar and the new head of Disney's animated division.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, each man brought his conceptions of womanhood to the drawing board. Walt Disney took classic fairy tales that were often brutal and bloody and toned them down for family consumption. He also reflected American cultural beliefs that "good" women should seek out marriage and children. The movies involving Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora (aka "Sleeping Beauty") all end with the title character's marriage to a prince.

Because of the poor reception and low box office take of Sleeping Beauty, Walt didn't tackle another fairy tale. While there's no proof of any connection, one has to wonder if the infancy of 60's counter-culture movements didn't have some effect on Sleeping Beauty's box office. It was released in January of 1959, the same month Castro and his forces took over Cuba. Sixteen months later, the first contraceptive pill was approved by the FDA. The HEA endings didn't make sense to a generation of women taking control of their lives.

It wasn't until Michael Eisner became the head of the Disney corporation in 1984 that the company tackled another animated fairy tale. To his credit, Eisner tried to return to the artforms the company was best remembered for as well as expand the corporation's holdings. The result was an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid.

Disney's Princess Ariel was far more feisty than her predecessors. However, she still need to be rescued from the villain by her love interest, Prince Eric. The studio finally broke the "heroine only looking for love" mold with Belle in Beauty and the Beast, but the movie still ended with her falling in love with a prince.

The successive princesses (Mulan is included by the company even though she's of common birth, as is her love interest Li Shang) showed more spunk, more independence, but at the conclusion of each story, the princess in question finds romantic love. Even in Tangled, Rapunzel ends up married to Eugene, a pardoned thief, even though she showed more realistic traits of an emotional abused teenager. In addition, she's the first to take the initiative to escape her psychological imprisonment.

The first time a princess walks into the proverbial sunset without a man on her arm was Merida of the Disney/Pixar film Brave. In fact, she rejects all of her suitors, much to their relief. The three princes didn't want to be forced into a loveless marriage any more than she did.

Merida also broke the Disney mold of one or more dead parents. While her dad loses a leg in a bear attack in the first few minutes of the movie and her mom is turned into a bear later, both of Merida's parents remain alive through the movie.

The primary issue in the story was the normal tension between a teen and her biological mother, an issue neither Disney nor Pixar have dealt with in their animated movies. For once this wasn't about a guardian or parental figure abusing the heroine or out-and-out plotting her murder. Queen Elinor sincerely wants what's best for Merida, but fails to see the person her daughter has become. Merida feels stifled by her mother's constant demands of royal propriety.

I think breaking the normal plot molds of Disney is the one of the real reasons Brave received so many negative reviews when the film was first released. However, thoughts concerning the movie shifted when Disney announced they were adding Merida to the Princess line. The artwork for packaging and the new doll changed Merida from a small-breasted, adolescent tomboy with frizzy hair to a voluptuous woman with well-tamed and styled hair. The new princess aroused the ire of many feminists, and worse, mothers. A petition was started on Change.org, and Disney returned Merida to the original Pixar version. [Disclosure: As one of the pissed-off mothers, I signed the petition.]

The backlash of the petition and the support from subsequent reviewers seemed to sink through the brains of the Disney executives. Maleficent, the live-action retelling of Sleeping Beauty, takes elements of the mother/daughter relationship and uses that love to save the princess rather than romantic love as in the original animated version. It also takes the unusual step of displaying a metaphorical drugged date rape and subsequently punishing the rapist. Further, the hero refused to take advantage of Aurora when she was unconscious. Finally, Maleficent and Aurora work together to save themselves.

Frozen, Disney's latest animated film, also manages to avoid the romance-as-female-safety trap. The princesses Elsa and Anna save each other through the power of their sisterly love. In fact, one romantic interest derides Anna for her desperate wish for any kind of love and how easily she was manipulated because of it.

So has Disney caught up with the 21st century? Three movies does not a pattern make. But I believe the Disney execs will listen to the people who generally buy gifts for the children in the family. And frankly, we buyers are tired of the helpless female meme. I was tired of it when I was growing up in the '70's. And it's definitely a meme I don't want my son indoctrinated in.

What happens next?

That's really up to Disney if they want my money. I still have a couple of underage nieces and my future granddaughters to buy for. If Disney can't keep it's act together, then I'll be buying a lot of Wonder Woman merchandise as gifts.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Wild, Wicked & Wicky Rewind from 2013

This was about the time things really started getting crazy in the publishing industry. It took a little some time to decide, but this post from July 24, 2013, about covers and reviews shows the weirdness the best.

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Even though e-books now consist of 20-30% of the market, depending on the source of the statistic, even though indie writers are regularly hitting the top ten of the New York Times bestseller list, even though you can have a hard time telling the difference between trad-pubbed and indie-pubbed books unless you check who the publisher is, there are reviewers who have made it their life mission to mark as many indie book as they can with one-star reviews.

Many indie writers get absolutely livid over this. I totally understand their feelings. It isn't fair. Especially when they've shelled out the money for a top-notch editor and cover artist. In fact, those writers have done everything a publishing house has done, in some cases even better, but still they get shit on for daring to break the chains the big publishing houses tried to bind them with, therefore they must be punished.

And honestly, some of the reasons of these reviewers are kind of silly. An Oxford comma enthusiast counts down an indie author for failing to use it. Others become enraged if an author uses the British spelling for words.

But those are mild compared to a friend or family member jealous of what they perceive of the indie writer's undeserved success. It doesn't matter if the writer is like me--making just enough to pay the law school loan and buy two pizzas IF Papa John's is running a special.

So what's an indie author to do?

First of all, if there's a definite pattern of harassment from the same person, there may be a law against it where you live. Many states and countries are cracking down on cyber-bullying. Check with your local law enforcement or an attorney about the steps you need to take to document the culprit's actions and protect yourself if necessary.

Otherwise, you may need to ignore it. I understand; I'm not one to back away from a fight either.

Unfortunately, there are some so-called reviewers who are nothing more than drama queens. They stir the pot just to see what kind of trouble they can cause. They thrive on the attention, and frankly, I pity their real-life family and friends.

Others are trolls. They hope to poke at you enough to prompt an emotional outburst, so they can sit back and laugh at you.

The third type just really didn't like your book. Guess what? You can't make everyone like you or like your book.

The last type think they are really doing you a favor. It's no more or no less than what can happen in a critique group. Try to pull the constructive criticisms out (if you can) and let the rest go.

If you're getting a tremendous amount of one-star or two-star reviews, take a step back and try to analyze the comments dispassionately. (It's hard, I know. Those stories are your babies!)

If you've truly become the target of a vendetta, your best bet may be to unpublish the book, and re-publish it as a new book to purge the harassing reviews.

If you're getting a lot of the fourth type of review, seriously look at your work. Could the cover or blurb be better? Have you put your book under the wrong category? DO you have too many typos? These are all things that can be fixed! That's one of the joys of indie publishing!

When it comes down to a few people hating the story but lots of four- and five-star reviews, ignore the naysayers. You're on the right track!

[Note: Can you tell which of the books above was produced by a traditional publisher?]

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Friday, February 14, 2020

Release Day!

Yep, not one but TWO books are out today!

The Seasons of Magick Anthology collects the entire Seasons of Magick series into one volume!

Welcome to Morrigan’s Cauldron! But be careful what you wish for because this little Greenwich Village shop can deliver your heart’s desire. Or your greatest nightmare.

In Spring, Tessa lost her boyfriend, her job, and now her apartment. When her next-door neighbor offers her a position at her shop, Tessa discovers the chance for real love with the sexy manager. But can she compete with the ghost of his past?

In Summer, Jamal has been in love with Shan since they were in kindergarten. Can he save her from her ex-boyfriend who hungers for her death?

In Autumn, Phylicia gave up on love when her son’s father walked out on her. But the sparks she feels for ex-Marine Dante may not have a chance to ignite if she can’t defeat a demon that’s possessed him.

In Winter, Tom rejected Rain in a previous life, and she cursed him. Can the two find peace before a sorcerer kills them both in his quest to take over the world?

These four stories are now collected in one volume and are available in print for the first time!

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

Also, out today is a brand new volume of the Justice saga, A Touch of Mother!

After the destruction of the demon army in Tandor, Anthea could use the relative simplicity of her position as chief justice of Orrin.

However, one of the city’s street children is found dead a few weeks after Anthea’s return. Her squire Nathan is adamant his friend’s death is murder. And High Mother Bianca, who is responsible for feeding, clothing, and sheltering the orphans, doesn’t seem to care about the death of one of her wards.

Does Bianca know more than she’s telling? Or is something worse than a demon stalking the streets of Orrin?

Magic and mayhem have never been this despicable. Or this tragic.

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

Have a glorious Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Wild, WIcked & Wacky Rewind from 2012

Here's another timeless look at writing as art. I'm not a big Stephen King fan. His fiction gives me nightmares. But this is an interesting peek into his process.

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I know this is a little different than my usual Saturday videos. I smurched the link from The Passive Voice. This is an appearance by Stephen King at UMass Lowell earlier this year. It's worth watching the whole thing for a brand new short story that Mr. King reads.


Monday, February 10, 2020

Wild, Wicked & Wacky Rewind from 2011

This old post points one of Kris Rusch's columns that just as relevant today as it was nearly ten years ago. The original post was written back on September 26, 2011.

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If you haven't read it yet, go read Kris Rusch's rant of what constitutes a professional writer.  She warns against her, um, vulgarity.  Really, it's pretty mild.  But then, I can and have made Marines blush during my rants so my POV is a little skewed.

Seriously, go read it now.  I'll wait.

Here's what scares me me:  the way traditional publishers are treating mid-list writers is very reminiscent of how the old vanity model works.

Unfortunately vanity publishing and self-publishing got wrapped up together in the blanket of bad ideas, so let's differentiate.

Self-publishing is exactly what a lot of us are doing right now.  We either subcontract certain jobs or do them ourselves in addition to writing the books.  This includes cover art, back cover blurbs, actual printing of the book, etc.  Any marketing anad retailing is the responsibility of the writer.

Vanity publishing is a scam that preys on naive, uneducated writers.  They present themselves as a legimate publisher and make a lot of promises.  But then they ask for money from the writer to actually publish the book.  These sums can easily hit five figures.  The vanity publisher then often produces a badly formatted, unedited tome.  They sometimes require the writer to buy a minimum number of copies.  They do not market the book to retailers, despite insinuations to the contrary.  By the time, everything's said and done, the writer has blown the kids' college fund or his 401K for a garage full of books he can't give away.

From the incidents I've been reading and hearing about, traditional publishers are starting to act like vanity publishers.  Locking naive writers in unteneable contracts designed so that the publisher get all the money and the writer has nothing.  Threatening legal action if the writer protests the unfair treatment.  Verbally abusing the writer if the writer questions anything regarding the process.

And what does the writer end up with?  Well, this time they don't even get a garageful of books.

I'm not saying all publishers are bad or that all publishing deals are bad.  But seriously, talk to an IP attorney BEFORE you sign on the dotted line.

And if I were you, I sure as hell wouldn't talk to Kris AFTER you've signed one of these atrocious contracts.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Wild, WIcked & Wacky Rewind from 2010

I'm not a big fan of agents, but this is a good lesson for everyone on guarding your writing time. The original post appeared on December 18, 2010.

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Currently re-reading - Storm Front by Jum Butcher

One thing that sucks about American culture is we raise our women to be people-pleasers, regardless of the cost to themselves.  I see this with actresses like Winona Ryder, who got hooked on uppers trying to keep up with demands.  I see this with customers when I ask if they have our store's frequent buyer card.  The customer then comes up with some convoluted story about how they used to have one, blah, blah, blah, in a weird attempt to spare my feelings when a simple "No" would suffice.

Folks, and especially the ladies reading this, it's perfectly okay to say, "No."  Tap into your inner two-year-old and practice.  "No."

"No, no, no!"

See?  Wasn't that easy?

So what does this have to do with writing?  You need to know when and how to say "No," to certain projects.

Take a writer named "Mildred" for example.  (Yes, names have been changed.)

Shortly after Mildred received her first book-deal, an editor from a small press called her.  The editor wanted Mildred to write a short story for an anthology she was putting together for charity.  The theme of the anthology was a cause near-and-dear to Mildred's heart, so her first inclination was to say yes.  Furthermore, the editor kept pressing how this would be terrific exposure for Mildred since she was such a new writer.

Luckily, Mildred said, "Let me talk to my agent."  Mildred's agent works in the vicinity of a major east coast city where "No" was generally replaced with "Fuck off!"  The agent had no problem getting to the nitty-gritty of the details of the deal which were:

a) No advance.  Not even a token $1.

b) No royalties.  Not even a token $0.01 per copy.

c) No flat fee.

The agent told Mildred (as gently as a New York agent can tell a client), "Honey, you told me your goal was to write for X Publishing House and to make Y money.  How the hell can I help you do that when you're giving your shit away for free to some pissant house no one's ever heard of?"

"But this is for charity!" Mildred wailed.

Agent sighed deeply.  "Wouldn't you be able to donate a lot more yourself if we sell your next project instead of screwing around with a freebie?"

So despite the tears and the anger at her agent, Mildred realized she was right.  Mildred gave the editor a polite, "No, thank you.  I must decline."  The editor then screamed invectives over the phone with dire predictions of Mildred's career tanking.  Mildred repeated herself with an extra helping of polite and hung up the phone.

These are the types of decisions we must all make as writers.  Not every decision we make may be the right one, but that's the chance we take.  And we definitely need to keep our eyes focused on our goals, or we will never reach them.  That sometimes means saying, "No."

So what happened with Mildred you ask?  She's still writing away years later.  She still has the same agent, though Mildred's learned to say "No" occasionally to her as well.  Her latest advance check had a lot of zeros after the five.  Her favorite charity is ecstatic when they receive her donations, also with lots of zeros.

The editor who called Mildred names even I won't repeat?  She lost her job when the small press closed six months after she threatened Mildred for saying "No."

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Wild, WIcked & Wacky Rewind from 2009

Since I'm trying to finish A Touch of Mother, and then I'll be in Las Vegas for two weeks, I'm reposting some of my favorite columns over the last eleven years. This one is from November 7, 2009, during NaNo.

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Word Count as of this Post - 8,422 words

I had a very strange dream last night--strange in its relative normalcy. Ususally, I'm Capt. Piccard guiding the Enterprise-D, or I'm saving the remains of humanity after an apocalypse, or I'm being chased by vampires down the dark Houston downtown streets.

In this dream though, I was at a writer's conference where Neil Gaiman was the keynote speaker. After the speech, Mr. Gaiman complained about he was oh-so-tired of restaurant food, and I invited him to my house for a home-cooked meal.

The house we arrived at wasn't my current home, but the house where my husband and I lived back in Ohio when we were first married. Mr. Gaiman then said he really wished he didn't have to go back to the hotel at all. I apologized for not having a guest room, but he was welcome to the living room couch. He graciously accepted and hugged me because he REALLY did not want to spend another night in a horrid hotel room.

Unfortunately, that's also when DH arrived home from work. Mr. Gaiman quickly steps away and defends my honor, to which DH replies that I only like men 6'5" or taller anyway. Mr. Gaiman, slightly offended, says that if it weren't for the terrible humidity, his hair would poof properly, therefore he would be taller than DH. With a quizzical look, DH asks why Mr. Gaiman doesn't find poofy hair annoying. The two men quickly launch into a discussion of the inherent quirks and pitfalls of poofy hair.

When my son arrives home from a visit to the neighbor boy's house, he's not terribly enthused about another of my writer friends attending dinner until I explained that this is the gentleman that wrote 'The Graveyard Book.' Mr. Gaiman's level of coolness rises in his estimation. He then proceeds to sell Mr. Gaiman on the excellent quality of my pumpkin pie. Mr. Gaiman replies, 'Your mum's pumpkin pie sounds lovely.' So now I have to rush to Kroger's since I have no pumpkin in the cupboard.

We have lovely meal of roast beef, homemade noodles, and green beans during which Mr. Gaiman and I discuss the respective merits and problems of our current wips. Once GK's in bed--after Mr. Gaiman has shown the proper respect for his Star Wars Legos collection--Mr. Gaiman and DH launch into a technological discussion of the problems with Vista and why you need ant traps in the house to prevent the them from nesting in your brand new modem.

A little bored with the men's technobabble, I resume working on my NaNo wip.

Is this boring? Well, maybe. But the dream version of Mr. Gaiman gave me some wonderful tips on my current project. For that, I thank him profusely.

Now, as long as Neil's next journal post doesn't begin with "I had the oddest dream where a fan invited me to her home after my speech at a writer's conference and she made the most marvelous pumpkin pie. . ."

Saturday, February 1, 2020

I Love the '70s!

Is anyone else turned on by Tim Curry in drag?


Friday, January 31, 2020

Monday, January 27, 2020

Dear Postal Employee...

To the United States Postal Worker who cut open a box I mailed,

Yeah, you know who you are. The box didn't have an "accident".You used a box cutter to slice open the smallest side of the box I mailed to a reader. You dumped out two entire sets of my Bloodlines series paperbacks, one for the reader and one for his sister.

Even worse, you left the tracking bar code intact so the box would arrive empty. To a P.O. Box. There's no way you can say someone stole it from my reader's porch.

The box was stamped "Media Mail". Or are you really that much of a dumbass to think something that heavy would have DVDs or CDs. Holy Cthulu! Who uses material media these days? Only crazy-ass book lovers!

I know damn well you'd only get pennies on the dollar for my books at a used book store. Or did you dump them in the trash once you saw they were just books?

At least, I'm hoping it was greed that drove you to the theft. If you just took the books for shits and giggles, you truly are an asshole out to only hurt people.

Because you see, this reader has had an awful time lately. These books would have cheered up a gentleman who is chronically ill. You didn't hurt me. You hurt someone who's already had life throw a ton of shit at him.

Karma's a bitch, dude. And someday, she'll come calling for you.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Friday, January 24, 2020

40 Years and Nothing's Changed

Well, except now I'm my own boss, and the boy's just can't handle it. LOL


Monday, January 20, 2020

The NINC Explosion

Closely on the heels of RWA's implosion, Novelists, Inc., aka NINC, apparently blew up last week over . . . wait for it . . . diversity. The furor spilled over onto Twitter. I'm not a member of NINC, so I can't comment other than from the bits and pieces I saw on Twitter, Alyssa Day has resigned as NINC president.

I'm not linking to any specific tweets. If you want to know, you can do your own research.

I can't deal with more crazy. EVERYTHING is important. I'm definitely not saying it's not important. However, I have to finish a book that truly is less harrowing with demons than the worse-than-usual shitstorm life has become.

So, blogging will be very light for the next two weeks.

I swear I'll try to find something funny to post for y'all because I'm so tired of people shitting on other people just because they can.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Friday, January 17, 2020

Snow Weekend!

A winter storm is headed our way and expected to hit here around midnight. The National Weather Service is predicting two to five inches depending which way the storm is steered by two other fronts.

This means having laptops charged, just in case we lose power. Grabbing a few quick and easy items from the store like extra creamer, eggs, and nuts. And basically settling in for several hours of writing in the morning.

Extra blankets are ready to go, so bring on the snow!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Because One Person Hates Your Work...

...it doesn't mean it's the end of your career.

Bob Mayer posted a story about having belief in yourself. One person's opinion doesn't matter. Five, one hundred, one thousand. They really don't fucking matter.

I know some writers who hang onto their rejections for years or decades. But is it healthy?

For some folks, it lights a fire in their heart or their asses to prove to those naysayers wrong.

In my case, I really broke free by shredding every single paper rejection from editors and agents and every smarmy comment from RWA contests I'd received over the years. Putting those bags of shredded bits was a huge weight off my shoulders.

But it's that spark inside of you that will keep you going. Will keep you leaning. Will keep you growing as an artist.

Ask yourself if you're happy with your progress. Because only your opinion really matters in the long run.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Monday Movie Mania - Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

The family went to see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on Christmas Day. Frankly, it's taken me some time to come to grips with my disappointment.

You need to remember something--I was eleven when the original Star Wars debuted in theaters in May of 1977. It became the common denominator between all the kids in my grade school. At a time when adult movies were gritty and depressing or the kids' movies talked down to us, Star Wars was flat-out fun.

The start of the disappointment comes from comparing two different subdivisions under the Disney umbrella. Marvel's Kevin Feige allowed individual writers and directors incorporate different personalities in the MCU without diverging from the overarching theme and plot.

However, Kathleen Kennedy at Lucasfilm didn't seem to have that kind of a reach or control over her directors and writers. The only one of the new films meshed with the original trilogy, and that was Rogue One.

But this should have been the ultimate coda to the saga. . .


* * *


SPOILERS


* * *


PROS
1) J.J. Abrams probably didn't write the epilogue ending because it was perfect. Rey going to the Lars homestead to literally bury the ghosts of the past. And her answer when someone asks who she is? It's all about making your own destiny instead of living under the shadow of the past.

2) The insinuation at the end of the battle that Rey, Finn, and Poe become a thruple. I really don't give a damn about Reylo. It was never going to work, and Ben had to die for his sins just like his grandfather.


CONS
1) Holy Thoth! Where to begin? Let's start with chopping Rose Tico out of pretty much the entire movie to appease the alt-right fanboys. She should have been this trilogies' Lando Calrissian, the potential rival for Finn's affections for Rey and Poe. Nope, let's just shove her in a corner.

2) Another MacGuffin? Seriously? This time, it was a stupid Sith knife and map that made no difference to the plot.

3) Inserting Leia awkwardly into the narrative. Why not admit General Organa was dead in the beginning scrawl? I don't have a problem with her Force ghost showing up at the end, but the scenes with Carrie were awkward as fuck.

4) The prick-waving one-upmanship between The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson and J.J. Abrams. Part of this goes back to Kathleen Kennedy having no control when it comes to the Lucasfilm universe. But eighty per cent of it rests squarely on the two men trying rewrite each other's visions for the Star Wars universe instead of working together.

5) Breaking the in-unverse rules. Especially those regarding hyperspace travel. Again. It goes back to CON #4's dude-bro pricking-waving.

6) Can we get any more phallic than Rey running Kylo Ren through with her lightsaber? Then healing the little shit makes him turn a new leaf? That had to have been the most unearned moment in the movie.

7) Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious is back with no fucking explanation as to how he survived the fall down the shaft, much less the explosion of the second Death Star.

8) The totally icky, skeevy moment between Lando and Jannah. If she's supposed to be his daughter, why not have Lando fucking say his daughter was kidnapped? Otherwise, the optics in the #METOO makes it just EEEEWWWW!

9) Oh, and speaking of the emperor, where the hell did that fleet come from?

10) And first Rey's a nobody, but then she's the granddaughter of Palpatine? Which brings me to--if Disney's going to erase the SWEU from continuity, then fucking do something original instead of pulling storylines from the SWEU and then doing half-assed things with them!


Okay, I stopping there before I give myself an aneurysm. Once again, J.J. Abrams threw cool shit from the original trilogy at the screen in an incoherent mess. If you haven't seen it in theaters, don't bother going. Wait until it's out on Blu-Ray or there's a Star Wars weekend on TNT.

Overall, I reluctantly give Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker 5 stars out of 10.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Friday, January 10, 2020

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The First Setback of the New Year

After bouncing business things off DH while we were mall walking (hey, it's fucking cold here, and the last thing I need is bronchitis right before I head to Vegas for a writers' workshop), I came to the hard decision to push back the release date for A Touch of Mother by a month.

I simply did not get the writing in that I should have during December. Getting a stomach bug that went for a good three days started the downhill slide. Then, I spent a lot of time with GK while he was home on leave for twelve days. I spent more time doing homework for the workshop. And the main crime in this novel is child sex slave trafficking.

There's a part of me worried sick about my own child given current events. A part that doesn't want to deal with certain elements of this story.

While I do not write graphic detail regarding the crimes in the Justice series, my mind still fills in the blanks. Especially given the shit that goes on in the world today. So now I know what's holding me back, I can work past it and resume my writing.

On the plus side, the Season of Magick Anthology is already uploaded and ready to go, so there won't be a delay in its release. I also am flying into Vegas a few days earlier than I planned (got to love cheap deals on flights and hotels in Sin City!), so I'm holing up in a hotel with a Starbucks and will write my ass off on the Millersburg Magick Mystery series.

In conclusion, I'm girding my loins and plowing on. I do sincerely apologize to all of you that pre-ordered A Touch of Mother for my tardiness. I want to make this an awesome story that's worth your time and money.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Comic Book Stores: Third Time Was Not the Charm

There's one last story from the November trip to Denver.

I've talked about my issues with comic book stores two years ago. I started with a couple of articles in the online magazine ComicMix, specifically how many owners and employees were chasing away paying customers, then lamenting why their businesses were failing. Then a male someone sent me a note, attempting to dispute my first blog post.

Why am I bringing this all up again?

The one place I really wanted to visit when DH and I went to Denver was Mile High Comics. When I was a kid, MHC always sound like a magical place to visit--a huge warehouse FULL of nearly all the comics ever produced!

I used their subscription service N.I.C.E through the nineties because I moved a lot with my job, then DH's job. I had to give it up shortly after Genius Kid was born because I simply didn't have time to read everything I wanted to anymore.

So Saturday afternoon after DH's meetings were done, we drove out to MHC. I didn't know they were having a giant Yu-Gi-Oh regional tournament that day, so the place was crowded. I think there were maybe three shoppers besides us.

Of course, I headed straight for the Wonder Woman and X-men sections, pulled what I wanted from my wishlist, and DH offered to hold them while I browsed through the dollar bins. He wondered off to look at some action figures.

And that's when the young dude-bro employee came up and asked if I needed help. After my polite no-thank-you, he kept talking. He finally brought up the stack of books he seen me with earlier.

Okay, a loss prevention move. That I could understand having spent my time in the retail trenches. I said my husband was holding them for me while I continued to look. Which led to a description, except I couldn't remember what shirt he had on that day. Hey, it happens after twenty-five years together!

So we find DH. Then dude-bro wants to see what we had. We complied, and that's when he crossed a line.

"Wow, these are all shit," dude-bro said sarcastically. I gave him the evil glare of death. He backtracked by saying, "Just joking."

Then he tried to engage DH. It really went downhill from there. It totally didn't register with dude-bro the woman with the Wonder Woman t-shirt and Deadpool backpack might be the comics aficionado. At least not until DH bluntly said, "I just go to the superhero movies with her." At that point, dude-bro turned bright red and rushed off.

And I was disappointed and ready to leave.

However, the two guys at the cashwrap were our age, totally polite to me, and kept their opinions of my choices to themselves. In fact, they gave me a Vertigo Death postcard.

So where am I going with all this?

Despite some people's efforts to rewrite history, female fans of geek things have been around for a long, long time. We're not going away any time soon.

But on the other side of the coin, I'm now starting to run into younger female geeks with a similar prove-to-me-you're-a-real-fan attitude.

Kids, I don't have to prove jackshit to any of you. I learned how to read from Spider-man when Stan Lee was still writing it. I remember Apollo 8's Christmas Eve transmission from lunar orbit. I consumed Star Trek fanfic printed on ditto machines (google that one, children!). I'm old enough to be your grandmother, and I waved my geek flag proudly long before your parents were born.

Everyone needs to get over themselves, thank our lucky stars that geek fandom has gone mainstream, and enjoy the fact that we can talk about our passions in public, instead of hiding in our parents' basements.

No fan is better than any other. We all need to settle down and be glad we can share our loves. Because it's the stories that matter in the end.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

I Love the '70's!

Let's take a step back and listen to some classics...

Friday, January 3, 2020

Doomed to Repeat History

Remember Faleena Hopkins and #Cockygate?

You'd think other writers would have learned from that fiasco, but no, long-time author Christine Feehan tried to pull #Darkgate. She's since withdrawn her attempts to trademark that single word.

Seriously, people! If Ohio State University with all their money and lawyers can't trademark "the", what makes you think you can trademark a single fucking word to represent your series?

(For context if you don't watch football, folks from OSU like to refer to their alma mater as "THE Ohio State University.")

Nor can you trademark just a person's name in the U.S. That's why J.K. Rowling's series is now "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter."

Christine blamed her attorney. Let's give her the benefit of the doubt for a moment. Speaking as an ex-attorney, if someone in the legal profession tries to talk you into trademarking a single world or a name, that person is looking dig their mitts deep into your bank account. Always, ALWAYS! get a second opinion. Tradmarks are expensive without the attorney fees.

So, rule of thumb is don't get a trademark unless you really need it. And question your attorney! If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.


**Note: I know I can't trademark "Bloodlines," "Justice," or "888-555-HERO." I need longer, more unique series' names. That doesn't mean that my friends and readers won't call you out if you steal my ideas.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A Coin for the Witcher

This is so awesome! I want Witcher audio books read by Henry Caville. (The series is pretty damn good, too!)