Friday, December 30, 2011

A Resolution to Accept Imperfection

Another year is coming up and we all know that resolutions will be made to lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more, be kinder, spend more time with kids, and a ton of others.  Some people will even manage to keep the resolutions going for months.  Others?  Within a week or two the resolution is forgotten about.

I remember one year that I resolved to lose weight. I lost 60 pounds.  Then I got a very stressful job and gained it all back.  I sat on my ass 8 hours a day selling electronic advertising.  By the end of the day I was so mentally exhausted I just could not drive myself to exercise.  An excuse?  Maybe.  Or maybe my body and mind just needed to rest.

For this indie author 2012 is going to be the year that I learn to forgive myself.  I vow to no longer expect perfection from the time I wake up...going from one task on a list to another and always feeling like I am coming up short because there are so many tasks still left to compete.  All of a sudden the day is over, the week is over...the months are over.  And although I accomplished a lot of things I have found that I was strangely not present.  I was too busy "doing" to enjoy just "being".
I am going to just "be" this upcoming year.  Yes, I will accomplish goals.  I am a goal oriented person.  But the time frames for completion will be less strident.  If I decide to spend the day in the woods, or at the zoo, I am NOT going to feel guilty.  In other words, I am going to simply live to live.

If I don't lose weight without it being a struggle, perhaps I don't want to that badly.  If I don't push myself to do exercise every damn day, or even most of them, perhaps it is because my muscles ache.  I am tired to hearing how exercise is supposed to help that.  It doesn't.  It makes it worse.  Even yoga sometimes.  So, excuse me, but I am going to love myself.  When I feel that I would enjoy hiking or yoga, I will do it.  When I want a nap, I will nap instead.

Perhaps it is age.  I remember one person telling me that getting older was in a way a relief because your expectations are lower.  I find that is true for me.
I am going to enjoy some desserts and I am going to enjoy some salads.  I am going to sleep later when I wish.  And take a nap if I wish.

If our house is dirty, we may clean it.  Or, we may instead decide to go play.  I fell in love with my husband because I enjoy him, not because he can clean a bathroom well.  If our house bothers people, they can stop coming over.  We will never be pigs, but at times you will see dust.  I will admit we are NOT messy, but can be dirty.  It is our dirt.  If you come over I will have a clean bathroom, but the other rooms may be dusty.  Get over it or find new friends.

I am going to write more novels because I enjoy it, not because a time frame is glaring at me.  I am going to paint more because it is who I am, not because perhaps someone will discover me. Some people will love my books and my art.  Some will hate it.  That's cool.  I will love my books and art regardless. Anything that causes emotion (and my work tends to do that) results in strong reaction.

I have finally realized that I am fabulous just as I am.  Not perfect, but just fine.  The soul in this body has waiting for acceptance for 56 years.  I accept her now.  Welcome, self, to 2012...the year of self love and acceptance.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

To Kindle Select or Not to Kindle Select, That is the Question

Indie Authors have a big decision to make.

Amazon has changed the game and may be planning on taking over the publishing world.  Around mid December they started offering authors Kindle Select.  If you join, you get to be part of their loaning program and get part of the revenue shared by authors whose books are loaned to Prime members.  Prime members can borrow one book a month.

You can also offer your book free for 5 days during 90 days.  Doing so often pushes your book into the top 100 lists for the genres it is listed in and makes it appear also a "also bought" for people.  This means you may sell a whole lot more for awhile after the free days.

Not to mention that books in the Select program will probably be promoted more heavily to Prime customers.  Sounds great, right?

Well...not so much.  In order to do that, you have to go exclusively with Amazon for at least 90 days.  That means you can't sell your book on B&N for NOOK, Apple, any other book sites or even your own website.  You must have your book removed from all of those sources and only be available on Amazon.  If you stay with Select after the 90 days you must stay exclusive to Amazon.
That means you lose your reviews on those other sites.  It means those customers can no longer buy your book.  For some authors, that does not seem like a big deal.  The majority of sales come from Amazon for most anyway.

But think about it for a minute.  Doesn't that take the "indie" out of indie author?  Telling someone where they can and cannot sell their book is not exactly independent. Also, traditionally published authors don't have to play by the same rules.  They are not required to be exclusive, at least from what I understand.  If I am wrong, I hope someone corrects me.  How is that fair?

Also, if a Prime member can only "borrow" one book a month, how many times will that be an indie book?  Indie books are significantly less money.  Why would they use their one borrow for a $2.99 or .99 book when they can use it for a $10.00 or more?  Really, the money an indie will make from the loaning program won't be much.

What if Amazon pushes hard enough that almost all indies are exclusive with them?  Can't they then change the game again...and offer them a lot less profit per book?  Where are they going to go unless they start over, building reviews, etc on other sites?
I don't know.  This seems like a stranger offering me candy on a street corner.  On the other hand, other authors are jumping in and seeing a huge increase in visibility because of days their book is free.  It remains to be seen how that free turns into future sales...but it is looking promising.

So far, I have decided not to abandon my Nook users.  But they are a tough sell.  If things don't improve with Nook users and my sales, I may be tempted.  I have not published with Apple yet, but planned to.  Now this Kindle Select comes along. Still, it just feels wrong in my gut...and my gut seldom lies.

It would be easier to try it if I wrote stand alone books.  Right now I am in the middle of a series.  It does not make sense to put just one of two in a series on there only on Amazon...or does it? What about when book 3 comes out?  Should I make book 1 exclusive then, thinking that it has been out long enough on other sites already?  Decisions, decisions.

Yeah, it feels crappy, like a potentially bad situation in the future. I have been wrong before and could be again.  This is really a hard decision.  A decision every indie author will be facing with every book published. Tomorrow I may wake up and think "what the hell" and try it.  Or I may continue as is, truly indie and loving it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Most Important Gift You Will Ever Open

 I am an indie author/publisher. I can say that because of a gift that I finally “got”; one that we all have, but usually don’t open. Curious? Good!

In 2010 I went for my annual physical. The routine blood tests all came back normal like usual, and I went on with my day. There was a gift waiting for me, one that had been there since I was born; but once again I failed to open it.

Then, my phone rang. I needed to come back in because my mammogram had something suspicious on it. After another mammogram and biopsy, I got another call. The call that finally got me to open my eyes…the call that finally got me to open the gift.

I had breast cancer. I could go on and on about my feelings, my fears, the surgery, the radiation, the healing; but that is not what this blog is about. This blog is about what getting cancer forces you to do. It forces you to finally open your eyes and see the gift that has been waiting for you from the moment you were born.

t is the gift of “now”.

I finally understood that anything that I wanted to accomplish in my life should not be put on a back burner for “someday”. ‘Someday’ is not guaranteed. We all run out of “someday” sooner or later. But I did (and do) have “now”. Nothing brings this home to us like the threat of no longer existing.

And so, once I was done with all of the radiation, I committed to writing five days a week, at least an hour a day. No matter what. Why? Because “now” is all I had; all any of us have.

I had always wants to write a novel. Had started a couple but never finished. This time, I knew that if I wanted it to happen, it was up to me to make sure that nothing stopped me.  Not even "someday".

Gastien Part 1: The Cost of the Dream was born from that. I self published for many reasons. I did not even try to go the traditional route. I wanted freedom. I did not want to wait (remember “now”?). I wanted to control my own destiny in regard to my writing. It came out for Kindle and Nook on August 1, 2011. Paperback arrived shortly after.

Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny released the week of December 13th for Kindle and NOOK.  I am waiting for the paperback proof. I may never see the kind of success that Amanda Hocking, did...but if one Minnesota gal can do it, why not two?

I am not going to use this blog to talk about the saga/romance series of Gastien. You will find links above if you want more information. I simply want to share the gift of “now”.

I could never have imagined how exciting it would be to hold my own book in my hands! It is a feeling that I am glad I got to experience. Cancer did that for me. I had always heard there were blessings to cancer, but thought it was b.s. Not so. The gift of “now” is the greatest gift there is…and it is free and available to all of us.

The cancer is gone. It was caught very early and my doctor says to plan on eventually dying from something else. Yes, of course. No one gets out of here alive. That is why I am moving right into the third book in the Gastien series, but first taking time to make love to the color for a week (as Gastien called painting). It is time. Now!

I hope this each one of you reading this will accept the gift that has always sat there, waiting for you to open it. I can’t give it to you. Only you can. It is your gift of “now”.

Open it. Please.                       

Monday, December 26, 2011

Brown Christmas Is Perfect, Thank You.

I am pleased to say that this year in Minnesota we had a brown Christmas.  At least in my part of the state.  I do believe they have snow in Northern Minnesota.  Am I disappointed?  Hell no!

There is nothing enjoyable about scraping ice from windshields after going out to eat, shop or anything else you might need to venture out for.  I don't enjoy shoveling mounds of frozen white stuff off the drive and walks...and my husband doesn't either.

It gets tiresome slipping and sliding all over the streets...or seeing an inch of salt eating away at your car.  Neither cars nor people are made for ice.

Bah, humbug regarding ice skating, snowmobiling, skiing or ice fishing.  Sorry.  I don't enjoy freezing my ass off staring down a hole in the lake on the off chance that some poor fish might decide to strike.  That is what supermarkets are for.
Snowmobiling?  Seems to me the only reason people do that is to go from one bar to another and drink.  Dangerous and cold.  No thanks.  A bottle of cab in my warm house works better.  Especially considering I probably won't kill myself or others making my way from one room to another.  (Depending, of course, upon how many bottles are consumed.)

No, give me a pool and a frozen cocktail over a ice rink and hot chocolate any day.  Slipping into flip flops to leave the house is much nicer than putting on layers, a coat, a hat, gloves, boots...and then standing in melted snow in stocking feet when you take off the boots later.
Why do I stay?  I love a Minnesota man.  He wants to stay because family is here.  I stay because he gives so much to me that I need to let him claim victory in a few things.  This is one of them.  So far. 

So, brown Christmas?  I was sure hoping so.  My wish was granted.  We may not even have snow before New Year's!  That will make this frozen hell they call Minnesota much more endurable.  It really is a beautiful place to live most of the year. If you manage to shorten the four to five months of winter we usually get down to three you may even get me to say it is the best place to live in the country.

Just to celebrate I think I will go out and make a leaf angel. Or would that be tempting fate by rubbing it's nose in all things not winter?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Guest Post by 8 Year Old Kaylee-Future Author

I was very excited to hear from a nephews partner that her daughter loves to write and wants to be an author.  Perhaps like most new authors now, she will become an indie author! It is always nice to know that there will be people who love to do what I do.  Kaylee is 8 years old and is a charming little girl.  Please welcome Kaylee Rae Curtis!

Christmas Traditions 
By Kaylee Rae Curtis
Every year for Christmas we set up the tree and we always have a lot of ornaments! My favorite ornament is my princess ornament. She has a fancy dress and ribbon and a bow.
Another thing we do is cookies. We always make Christmas tree cookies. Last year we made about 100. We had so many that we had to throw them away! But they were still good!
Another thing we do is we always go shopping for people who are nice to other people. Once mom got me Pillow Pets. And we always go to parties. Like the one was the Rowland party. THE ROWLANDS ARE SO LOUD!!! We played a dice game and ate a lot of food. And my favorite food was the sloppy joes, rice krispy bars and the fruit punch.
And another thing we do is that we go to our Grammie & Bumpa's house. Grammie and Bumpa are our grandma and grandpa. Every year we go there and we see Santa, and we eat a Christmas dinner, and then we get presents and we play with our toys.
And another thing we do is we always get emails from Santa, he tells us how old we are, he tells us if we are on the nice list or the naughty list. And last but not least, we always open our presents in the morning.
Steven Ain't Believin'
By Kaylee Rae Curtis
Once upon a time there was a boy named Steven. He loved to play, but the person he did not like was Santa!
One day he was playing with his friends and his friends asked him, "Do you believe in Santa?"
He said,  "No. Your parents are Santa."
"Do you believe in the tooth fairy, Easter bunny, or anybody?"
He said, "NO!" 
So one day his friends were thinking of a plan for him to think that Santa is real. So they sent a letter to Santa saying...
"Dear Santa,
I know Steven has been a naughty little boy, but can you please come to his house cause he thinks your not real!"
Love, Tommy & Jake
So on Christmas night Steven was thirsty, so he went down tot get a bottle of water and when he came up he....saw Santa!
He pulled his beard - it did not come off.
He said, "I'm going outside." - and he saw Santa's reindeer! 
He said, "You're real, you're real!" 
So Steven gave Santa a big hug and went back to sleep.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What I Got For Christmas (Christmas Alone)

We are celebrating Christmas alone this year.  It is not the first time, nor will it be the last.  We did not decorate or put up a tree.  We have only exchanged gifts with each other three times in almost forty years.  We have always bought what we wanted during the year.  The times we bought gifts, most of them were exchanged for something else or put on a garage sale a few years later.

People want to feel sorry for us when they find out we "aren't doing anything" for Christmas.  They assume we must be depressed or Grinch's because we have not decorated (it has been a couple years since we have).

Not so. We are perfectly happy and we have Christmas spirit inside.  We just don't feel like getting out a bunch of "stuff" and then having to put that "stuff" away to get out the regular "stuff".  We are extremely busy and that is one chore we have eliminated that last couple of years.

Oh, we will decorate again.  Now that we have Gideon in our life we know the importance of making Christmas magical for him.  Once he is old enough he will want to see decorations when he comes over to Grandma and Grandpa Rowland's house and that is just fine.  Right know we just need a break.
As far as being alone, we treasure that time together.  We don't always want to be alone on Christmas. But, when we are, it is a time to just enjoy the person we love the most.  There is no pressure to be anywhere (most everything is closed).  We can stay up as late as we want, sleep as late as we want and don't have a long drive.  We don't have to clean like maniacs for company.  We can eat whatever we damn please.  We can even make love on the kitchen table if we want, because Santa ain't coming down our chimney! Yeah, people in their 50's (and later!) have sex.  Damn good sex.  Get over it. You can only hope you are that lucky when you are older.
Gifts?  I got mine early this year.  Gideon arrived next door on August 20th.  I have already blogged about our love for him.  We are now "grandparents" and I treasure every moment with him.  What better gift is there than new life that I am not responsible for 24 hours a day? We are childless by choice and grandparents by choice.  Those choices have proved perfect for us.

I also received the gift of "no cancer" in regard to the biopsy I had this fall.  When you have had cancer once that is an even bigger gift!

I got two books out this year, my first two.  It is quite a gift to hold a book in your hand that has your name as author.  The Gastien series is alive and well. I love being an indie author!

It looks like Christmas won't be white here and we both consider that a gift.  It makes the Minnesota winter a but shorter.
Lastly, I am going to be "making love to the color" (as Gastien called painting) from now until January 2nd.  No writing. Just a little promotion of my books and lots of paint and canvas.  Yeah baby!  Like Gastien, that is why I am here.  That and the writing.

I found out that my nephews 8 year old daughter wants to be an author.  She writes things and asks her mom to send them to publishers, so I am going to turn this blog over to her tomorrow.  You will be hearing from Kaylee tomorrow with some Christmas thoughts.  It would be nice if she got some comments to encourage her.

So, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year or just plain old have a great life...depending on your belief.  I am off to make the color!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Really, Redneck? No Fat Chicks?

Ok, I am going to warn you right at the start: I am feelin' snarky today.  Not gonna apologize, either.  I am not sorry...but at least I am honest.  Yup. Today this indie author is one snarky gal.

Ever notice those decals some males have on cars that say "No Fat Chicks"? They have been around now for years, all kinds of them.  What has amazed me all of those years is how the guy looks when he gets out of his truck (cuz you can bet he is drivin' a truck.  No question.  Hands down.).

One would think that in order to be choosy about a potential mates looks, that person wold have some looks himself.  I have yet to see a good lookin' guy with the No Fat Chicks decal.  I am not saying some good looking guys don't want to date fat girls.  I am just saying that those who feel it is their right to advertise their extremely discriminating "good" taste seem to seldom look in a mirror.
Every single one of these guys that I have seen sport at least one of the following: beer gut, teeth missing, acne, balding, greasy hair, unkempt clothing, t-shirts advertising beer or NASCAR or heavy metal (and not washed in decades), or they are spitting snuff. 

Damn!  Let me tell you, fat girls across the country breathe a sigh of relief when they see that decal.  One less ahole to worry about in their life.  The day suddenly seems a bit brighter.
Hey, redneck, here is a newsflash for ya: You would need to tie a T-bone to your trousers to even get a bulldog to sniff you.  No need to worry about a fat girl.  You think you deserve a fashion model?  Well, I used to look like one when I was younger.  Let me tell ya, you would not have had a chance in a million years.  And guess what?  Now that I am 56 and have a big ass, you still would not stand a chance in a million years.  So dream on, darling.  All men want the pin up girl.  Most, though, don't look like Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp so perhaps they need to get over themselves a wee bit.

Gals, I think it is time that we get a few decals for our cars.  How about "No Missing Teeth?" or "No Hairy Ass Crack Sticking Out Of Jeans?"  or maybe
"No Rednecks With IQ of 20?"
Sorry, guys.  The funny thing is, most rednecks don't even know they are.  I am going to end this with my favorite song. 

"If you're redneck but don't know it, clap your hands!
If you're redneck but don't know it, clap your hands!
If you're redneck but don't know it, well don't worry
You sure show it!
If you're redneck but don't know it, clap your hands!"

Later.  Gotta go thank my lucky stars that Joe Redneck down the street is not attracted to me.  Damn.  I have always fantasized about how his big gut must bounce when he's doing the "wild thang". Be still my heart!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Two Computers, Two Work Emails, One Brain!

My head is once again ready to explode!  Ain't technology grand?  Yeah, it is...but sometimes I swear one brain is no longer enough if you engage in the myriad of technology available.
I have a pc that I wrote my first two books on as an indie author.  Then, last spring I bought a laptop so that I could edit and write outside during the spring and summer.  Trust me, in Minnesota you want to soak up every nice day in preparation for 4 months or more of cold!

The only problem is I am constantly needing to back up and transfer or else I don't have what I need at whatever computer I am working on!  Yesterday I tried to get a bit more organized by moving more files to my laptop.  I hope to eventually use that exclusively.  Once this pc fails I won't replace it because I love my laptop; however, I do like the 24 inch monitor of my pc.  It is easier to read.  So I find myself here blogging and other things.
Don't even start about email addresses.  I have so many that I don't remember some of them!  My original one was so full of spam I put box trapper on it...and now many people are rejected even if I set up filters.  So, that one if just for some friends and family that are lucky enough for the damn filter to accept them! That filter is much more choosy about friends than I am.

Then I started one for my art and for other friends, etc.  That was great, and I started requesting book reviews etc from it.  All of a sudden I realized that it would be easier to have one email address for all things "author" related.  Great.  Except some promotions and reviews are stored in files under the art one.  Sigh.

I find myself going back and forth, usually screwing up what I send.  Misty gets the .pdf and Katie gets the .mobi...and then I realize it should have been the other way around...well, you get the picture!

Dear me.  Then there are all my "favorites" or "bookmarks" on my pc from when I wrote the first two books in my series.  Except now I write on my laptop.  So I need to look up each of those for the head is so mixed up I can't think straight.

You know what?  I have only one place where my favorite Cabernet sits waiting.  That is not at all stressful or confusing.  I think maybe it is time to go say hello to Louis M. Martini.  He and I seem to frequently see eye to eye...or should I say mouth to bottle?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

At Long Last, Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny

I usually blog about other things instead of specifically dedicating a blog to my books.  However, today I am just so happy that I am going to promote myself.  Please forgive me while I do a celebration dance!

Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny is now available on Kindle and NOOK!  I will be formatting for paperback and that should come out in January.  This picks up where Gastien Part 1: The Cost of the Dream leaves off.  It is the romance my fans have been waiting for.

This is NOT a typical female romance.  It is definitely still a story for men as well as women!  This book shows that "being in love is wonderful, but true love refuses to be confined by any boundaries."  Gastien is a true nonconformist, yet he finds himself loved in spire of his terms.

Don't forget Gastien's fanpage:

Now, off to formatting the paperback.  :)  Then I need to get this to reviewers/bloggers and do some other updating of profiles.  After that, I am going to take a couple weeks around the holidays to "make love to the color" as Gastien and I refer to painting.  My hand is itching to hold a brush again.

The second week of January I will start writing more of book 3 in The Gastien Series.  Of course, I will still be blogging during my painting time.  Did you think you could shut me up that long?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sometimes Nice Things Happen For No Reason

We had something really nice happen to us this last weekend.  Isn't it fun when something cool happens to you for no reason other than serendipity?

All day Saturday my husband was busy "mouse proofing" our house.  (If you remember, I blogged about finding evidence of a visitor about a week ago).  I spent the day cleaning the house.  Not one of my favorite chores, but it sure is nice to have a clean house once it is done.

We decided to go to Famous Dave's for dinner.  We love Famous Dave's.  We usually go about once a week and get the ribs on the Early Bird Special.  It is just the right amount of food at a very reasonable price.

Famous Dave's has been running a promotion where you get a scratch off ticket with your bill.  You bring in the ticket the next time and scratch it off to see what you won.  Most prizes are free appetizers or desserts.  We seldom order either. My husband is not a dessert fan, I am too much of one.  Appetizers are great...if you want to ruin your appetite for your entree!

About a week ago we scratched ours off and to our surprise, we won a free entree!  That was very nice.  On Saturday I almost forgot that we had a scratch off.  Remembering, I dug it out and scratched while the server watched.  It was kind of dark in there (yeah, ok...I need reading glasses...get over it!) so I could not quite make out.  "Something about 2nd and All American" I said.

The waitress grabbed it and lit up.  "Oh!  You just won the All American!  That is only the 2nd time that has happened here.  It is a very nice prize...our $58 All American Feast!"  Huh???? Wow!  It came and we could not stop laughing at all of the food.  It is really for four.  Honestly, it should be for six. It is so large it comes on a garbage can lid!

We got 12 ribs, brisket, a WHOLE chicken, 4 corn muffins, enough fries for 8 people, a ton of coleslaw (they have the BEST), Wilber beans, and their chips instead of corn on the cob!  Needless to say, we could not eat even half of it.

This was perfect because we had not found time to get groceries that day. We now had 2 more meals to take home.  Last night we had the chicken, etc.  Tonight the ribs and brisket that was left over.  These "leftovers" are full meals.

We made sure to thank the manager and we also made sure to tip the servers as if we had paid for it.  (For those of you who use 2 for 1 coupons, you are supposed to tip on the full amount, not on one entree.  The server should not be punished for your savings.).

Walking out, I commented to Dave that we needed to remember that even though bad or irritating things happen all of the time (remember the mice?), good things happen for no reason, too. And what a nice surprise it is whenever that happens!

Thank you Famous Dave's.  That was very cool!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fa la la lala la la Formatting gets easier!

As an indie publisher, I do my own formatting for e-book and for paperback. I started the formatting for paperback yesterday afternoon for Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny.  I have to say that it is going much smoother for the second book!  The first book (which was the first time I had tried to do any of this type of thing) was tough.  Some days I wanted to open a bottle of cab by 10am.  Other days, I wanted to throw a bottle of cab against my computer screen.

I am sure I will run into a few little glitches, but it is nice to see (at least so far) that this formatting gets easier once you have a little experience under the belt.

As far as formatting for kindle and nook, I have that ready to go.  That is now second nature to me (now watch the file get rejected when I decide to submit...).  I want to wait until further into December to submit, as I want to be a new release for a few weeks after people open their gifts and get those new kindles!
I thought those of you who are getting ready to self publish your first novel, and those of you holding back because of formatting fear, would like to know that it does indeed get easier after the first time.  Make sure you ask questions in the communities for the formatting you are working on.  More importantly, bookmark the answers!  You will need those the next time!
I copied the answers to my questions on a word.doc since there were various bookmarks from different days questions.  I now have that word.doc up and available on my laptop for referral as I work on the paperback formatting.

Formatting for paperback has different requirements than for e-books, so you need to go slow and be careful.  Always, ALWAYS keep a copy of your finished manuscript separate from the one you are formatting.  That way, if you really mess up you have not lost your work.

Time to get back at it.  I want to make sure that I have done everything possible to assure my readers a quality book!
Kindle Direct Publishing community board:

Createspace (print on demand paperback) community board:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Spirit? Or Same Old Rudeness?

I have noticed something sad lately while I am out at the various stores and running errands.  For a season that is supposed to be so jolly, people sure are anything but.

Hey, I know a lot of us are unemployed.  I get that kind of stress.  But, for all of the talk people do about how they "love" Christmas and how they get the "real" meaning, they sure appear the opposite.

Too many people at the stores aren't smiling.  No, they are too busy yapping on their cellphones to even be in the present (no Christmas pun intended).  If not on their phones, they are bitching at their children or pushing others out of the way with their carts.  What happened to all of that holiday jolly?
In supermarkets, people are as rude as ever.  They barrel through the aisles, and you just better stop and let them through...even if you are already in the aisle they want into.  When did everyone decide they are the most important entity in the universe?  Is it really that hard to say "excuse me" or "I am sorry"?

Same in the parking lots.  People see that you are pulling out so they hurry to slam into gear and get out ahead of you.  Never mind if you are halfway out of your space.  You just damn well better wait for them to leave.  After all, they are far more important to you.  What happened to treating others with decency and respect?
No, I am sorry.  I just can't believe that those people "get" the meaning of Christmas.  Peace, love, and forgiveness don't jive with "get the hell out of my way, because I could care less about anyone but me".  We have become a nation of self centered, rude egotists.  No wonder other countries don't like us.  I don't like us much at times, either.

People, slow down a little.  Look into the eyes of other people out shopping and parking their cars.  If you really look, you will see another human being there.  What a surprise!  You aren't the only person in the world!

Let's all take a little inventory and start practicing what this season is supposed to teach us.  Love. Patience. Generosity. Forgiveness.
That also includes me.  I guess I need to practice that with all of the people that treat others poorly.  Hard as it may seem, they need love and forgiveness, too.

Ho Ho Ho.  Have a nice day!  And try to make it a nice day for others!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Christmas Mouse? No, thank you!

Yesterday my husband and I planned on having a totally relaxing day of watching TV and lounging on the sofa.  He had worked hard all week and was looking forward to watching the Vikings (yeah, he must like torture) and then some movies. I had stayed up until 4:30 am Thursday morning, working on some guest blogs and interviews that were due.  I got 3 hours sleep. The life of an indie writer/publisher.

Then I opened the silverware drawer and saw them.  Little "gifts" from what could only be a visiting Christmas mouse!  Oh, no!  Yuck!  Is there anything better at making you feel sick than seeing mouse droppings in your kitchen drawers or cupboards?  I opened the drawer next to it.  More gifts!
ALL of a sudden, the afternoon of pleasant idleness had evaporated.  Now we were facing the daunting task of removing every item from every cupboard, disinfecting the items and the drawers/cupboards, and setting peanut butter traps.  Do you have any idea just how much "stuff" one has for entertaining, etc after decades of adult life???

That was not all.  Once everything was cleaned, it could not be put back.  No.  Because the mouse (mice?) would be back.  So, we needed to put those items all over the house, keeping the drawers and cupboards bare except for the traps.  Sigh.

The good news?  All of our cupboards got cleaned.  Even better, only 2 drawers and 2 cupboards had any evidence at all of the visitor(s).  Thank God!  That meant he/she had only recently invaded us.  That also meant we only had the items from those 4 places to keep out while we plant our stealth killing devices.

I feel bad for them.  I really do.  Honestly, mice are quite cute.  I understand that they are looking for warmth and food, which all living things are entitled to.  However, they carry a lot of diseases!  So, cute or not, they are never welcome in our home.  Still, I can't set the traps.  That is Dave's job.  He will carry the blood of those murders on his hands, not me.  At least that is what I tell myself. 

Poor Christmas mouse.  He picked a bad home to invade.  No piece of cheese set on a plate for him on the eve of Christmas in this home.  Instead, he will have his neck snapped for pooping on our knives and forks. 

Ho ho ho.  Merry Christmas, Mr. Mouse.  :(

Friday, December 2, 2011

Indie Sex & Violence (Sometimes Rock 'n Roll)

Some indie authors/publishers feel the need to put a "warning" in their book blurb if their book has sex or violence in it.  I find that puzzling.  To me, it makes them look like they are not taking their authorship seriously.  Or maybe too seriously? 

It sounds like they are apologizing for writing the story how they felt it was best told.  Kind of like  "Oh, gee, I try to be a good puppy, but look what I have done!  I have peed on the carpet!"
The reason I say this is that the playing field needs to be even in regard to writing freedom for both indie authors and traditionally published authors.  When you walk into a bookstore and browse the backs of book covers, do you EVER see a warning? 

Of course not.  Yet, major authors write steaming, graphic sex scenes and such graphic violence that some of it makes me ill.  People are cut up, burned, sawed apart, eaten...but no warning.

Nor should there be.  Look, if you are buying a book that is not in the children's, teen, Christian, light, or cozy category you have to assume that the story might have sex and violence.  Sometimes a lot of sex and violence.  Sometimes a lot of very graphic sex and violence.

I am not saying graphic sex and violence are good or bad.  What I AM saying is that, if you choose a murder mystery or horror story, you should be prepared that it may gross you out or scare you in parts.  If you pick a romance or literary fiction, the sex may (or may not) burn the fingerprints off your fingers.  There may be violent scenes that are graphically written to show the horror of what happened. Characters may use crude language or curse.

Some authors never write sex or violence and that is fine.  They usually put their work in the genres I mentioned. But to say sex and violence is gratuitous, or needs to come with a warning, is just plain crazy.

First of all, you can read part of the book to find out the authors style. Even online, you can read a sample.  It won't tell the full story, but it gives you a hint.  Still, if you decline a book because there is crude language or someone has hot sex, you may miss out on a truly great story.

People have sex and people are violent. When writing about the head of the mob, for instance, wouldn't it be more gratuitous to have him say "Gee whiz, you have kind of upset me.  I feel like raising my voice to you!"  Some characters have crude facets to them.  Writing them differently makes them hard to find believable.  Saying "he swore".  sixty times in a novel is redundant. 

Nor should people assume that an author is like their characters!  Some filthy mouthed people write clean stories.  Some who never cuss write characters who cuss like, well, hell!  I have to tell you that if I had sex as often as my main character in Gastien did, I would not have time to sit here and blog.  Do not confuse a character with the author.

Indies, don't feel the need to apologize or "warn" people about your work.  We ALL have the freedom of speech.  No matter how you write, some people will love you and others will not.  None of us can get every reader as a fan.  I guarantee you, though, that writing honest, real characters and not acting apologetic about it will garner more respect than not.

Like John Mellencamp said: "This is serious business; sex & violence & rock & roll."  Use it when the character or scene calls for it to make it real.  Don't look back.  Life is sexual; life is, at times, violent.  Just tell it, baby, and make no apologies. Life sure doesn't.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Taking My Own Medicine (Fixing My Blurb)

Indie authors, as we know, take care of alsmot everything in regard to their books. Yesterday, I blogged about the importance of a great blurb. I also mentioned that I was in the process of writing the blurb for my second book.
Well, after that I put my blurb up on the kindleboards for suggestions.  I got some wonderful suggestions and am now happy to say that I feel my blurb is ready!

Not only that, but I realized that the blurb I had for my first book was just too darn long!  Talk about saying one thing and doing another! So, I changed it.  Yup.  That blurb I worked so hard on for the first book got ditched.

I realized it would not make me buy the book.  It gave too much information and I was probably losing some people.  That is what is cool about blogging.  The whole process makes you think.  Thinking makes you realize that you might need to make some changes yourself!
Now I have what I consider to be a concise blurb for my first book that should intrique people; make them want to know more.  Here it is.  Tell me what you think!

One Man: Stunningly handsome; with desires that burn relentlessly inside of him.

Two Dreams: Become a great artist; an even greater lover.

The scene: For an artist, Paris is a hotbed of new ideas. For a lover, nineteenth century women can only dream of a man who cares if he actually satisfies them.

The problem: No training, no money, no connections. In nineteenth century France na├»ve young men, hoping to achieve impossible dreams, die in the gutters of Paris every day. And, he is a virgin…so far.

The tools: Raw, natural talent. Willingness to learn. Incredibly irresistible. The vow to stop at absolutely nothing in order to achieve his goals.

Gastien Beauchamp, Paris is yours for the taking.

Sometimes, the “impossible” is possible. But the cost can be extremely high.
Do you like it? Do you think it sucks? I would love to hear your opinions. Give me a shout!