Monday, October 17, 2016

Media Truth

There is no such thing. Never has been. Never will be. From the time of the town criers 'media' was controlled by the powers that were...usually, the current ruler. And so it is, even today in our techie world. Only the foolish expect it to be different.

Facts are always filtered through the folks in power. They decide what the powerless will be told. State secrets are just another name for facts someone has decided not to share with the general public.

In the past, news was disseminated through newspapers and broadsheets, but never think they weren't slanted to share the views of those who owned them. That's true today.

Then radio became widespread and proved to be a wonderful tool for disinformation and propaganda. It might be shellacked with the palatable coating of music and weather, but it's still controlled by whoever owns it. A few years ago, a singer made the mistake of stating his opinion about something that didn't agree with the general view. And he found it tough going to get his music played on the radio. Retaliation for stepping out of line was swift and long term.

Now television presents news hours in the evening. However, little news is served up. They're actually closer to entertainment. What news leaks through the jolliness of the presenters is mostly accidental and carefully screened by behind the scenes censors who decide what the general public should know.

So. What's this all about? Think about the elections going on. Consider how much 'truth' might actually be suppressed by all candidates. No one lives a blameless life. And the media owners have no interest is presenting truth in any form. Truth doesn't pay. Sensationalism does. If you want to know the truth, stop getting your information from Facebook and television. Research your candidates like grownups. Pretend, just for once, you're really responsible adults.

Then vote your conscience.  

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Why? Who? What?

Sigh. I've been working on the concept of reading new-to-me authors without much success. You know it's bad when you can quote your favorite authors' dialogues from memory. Hence the attempt to find new authors. Here are my observations:

1. It's difficult to get into the story when you don't give a damn about the characters. Not even one little damn. They aren't engaging. Their dialogue is stilted or childish. They have no redeeming qualities...or they're too precious for words...including their cutesy names. Give me a Bob or Harry or George. Please.

2. Learn to spell. Learn the difference between utter and udder. Believe me, 'he was udderly desperate' is a startling image. I used to keep a list, but after six pages, it just wasn't worth the effort. And no, these weren't self-published authors. They weren't even small pubs. These books came from the 'big NY pubs'. Yuck. Don't depend on spellcheck to catch your incompetence.

3. Provide some hope for an HEA. The last three books I started had odds so stacked against the hero/heroine they made me ill with anxiety. I have enough anxiety in my life. I don't need more from my reading material. Also, when there is no glimpse of hope, the eventual happy ending is just unbelievable. Really.

4. Maybe place that black moment near the end. Geez, if the whole damn book is one long black moment, what's the point? You never get an opportunity to root for the good guys, cause they're just miserable. Why? Why would you do that?

5. What is wrong with some nice, normal people? Why do all women have to hate cooking? And all men are slobs? Why can't the heroes have normal cars instead of souped up jobbies? Why are all the women willowy or BBW? Aren't there any in the middle? And really...isn't there anyone over thirty in the entire world?

6. If you're gonna have a cat or a dog or a hamster or a goat, then dammit have it! I'm thinking of starting a digital rescue for all the lost romance pets.

Anyway, that's my take. And now I'm back to reading some of my long-time favorites. I reckon it'll be a couple years before I take that leap into the unknown again.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Perspective the Second Time Around

A while back I received the last of my book rights back from a certain not-to-be-named publisher. And quite frankly, I was in a bad place in my life and at that time I didn't care if I ever repubbed them again. I also was thinking iffy thoughts about the subject matter/erotic content. So I put them on the back burner to simmer.

Above is the cover for the first book. I had strong thoughts about completely rewriting it or expanding it or... well, if you're one of my fellow authors from there, you know where I'm coming from. But today, I finally sat down and read the darn thing for the first time in about a year. And found myself chuckling and smiling. And I decided this was where I was in 2007 and it wasn't a bad place, you know?

So hopefully by the end of the week, I'll have it back up at least on Amazon. If you like your romance a little steamy, maybe you'll give it a try.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Mean Girls League

In the past two or three weeks, a number of posters on my facebook timeline have announced they have 'unfriended' folks for various reasons ranging from political beliefs to some vague personal reasons. Now I don't care if an individual unfriends the entire list of friends. What disturbs me is the secret glee--and self-righteousness--peering out from the posts. That 'I paid you back!' attitude says more about the poster than it does about the unfriended.

The internet, and in particular social media of any ilk, has a long memory. What you post today will come back to take a chunk out of your backside in the future. Trust me on this. I learned this lesson much to my cost more than five years ago when I sunk my writing career with careless words.

At the time I had more than fifteen books contracted with a certain unnamed publisher. I was unhappy about various issues (covers, publishing schedule, etc.) and discussed it on what I considered to be a private group of friends/fellow authors. Within weeks, I was assigned a new editor who not only didn't want the additional burden of a new author, but also didn't think much of my writing skills--and wasn't shy about stating her opinions. Several weeks later, I was assigned a different editor who briskly informed me it was going to take several months for her to read through my previous books so she could get 'up to speed'. In the meantime, I should fill out the attached forms. Seventeen pages. She would get back to me when she was ready to deal with me.

My royalties tanked. Seriously. They dropped from over 2K a month to less than two hundred dollars.

Fellow authors and friends vanished into the internet ether. Like the old-time Amish, the shunning began. It was pervasive and total. No one wanted to know me.

And my royalties sank to nothing. Checks failed to arrive. Editor e-mails went unanswered. I was officially persona non grata. I had committed the unpardonable sin of mentioning the small short-comings of my publisher.

I was among some of the first who faced the unfair practices of a publisher.

Eventually, my editor sent my most recent submission back with a detailed five page letter explaining all my shortcomings and noting she would be willing to reconsider it if I made the changes noted, thereby substantially changing the book. I declined. And submitted another story I had written in the interim to a different publisher where it was accepted.

And life went on for a short while. I found myself in a smaller, constricted circle of friends as one after the other drifted away. My next four submissions were rejected out of hand. And I stopped writing, convinced I'd never been more than competent to begin with.

I have all my book rights back from that publisher, but I'm not sure I'll ever re-pub them. The three books I currently have on the market net less than $10 per quarter--total.

And the 'friends' and 'fellow authors' I enjoyed sharing with so much earlier in my career? Well, most of them have discovered for themselves the real sorrow of dealing with that publisher.

All of my troubles can't be blamed on that initial transgression in that 'private' group. But certainly, some of them started then. I wonder if the individuals who hastened to pass on my feelings really understood how damaging it was for me? There's no way to tell.

But since then I've adopted a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy everywhere on the internet. If someone bothers me with their post, I quietly unfriend them and move on. It's no one else's business. I learned an expensive lesson back then. I hope others won't have to learn that lesson, too.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Hope and Dreams

Unless you live in a cave somewhere in the deepest, darkest Amazon, you know a little competition (the Olympics) is taking place in Rio. By their very nature the Olympic Games are totally about hopes and dreams. Just taking part in the world wide arena is a major hope and dream, whether you are at the top or the bottom group of competitors because wherever you're from YOU are the best from your country. I think some of the observers forget that.

Yes, on one level, it's all about gold and silver and bronze medals. On an entirely different level, it's about competing against the world's best and performing at your peak ability. How many opportunities does any individual have to do that? In any arena? And it all begins with a dream and high hopes.

If you're not the best does that negate your dream? No. Someone will always be better. I think about Usain Bolt, 'fastest man on the planet'. That's what the sportcasters are yelling, but who knows? Likely, somewhere in the world, quietly going about his life is another man who could give Bolt a run for his money. So, in truth, Bolt is the fastest at this particular competition. The same is true for all the competitors in all the various arenas. Winning--while exciting and wondrous--is not what the Olympic Games are about. Politics, doping, and all the other scandals are not what they're about either.

No, they're about hopes and dreams. They're about a 41 year old gymnast with the guts to go out there and compete on the world stage against young women half her age. Or the 38 year old volleyball competitor when dared to go for the gold. They're about all the men and women who sucked it up, worked like stevedores, put their futures on hold so they could represent their countries.

For those who thumb their noses at the men and women who didn't win gold, I say shame on you. Shame on you. What have you done with your life that gives you the right to badmouth them? Winner or loser, the Olympic competitors went out and tried. They got up off their couches and recliners and worked for their dream. Who cares whether their outfits were attractive or their hairstyles were up-to-date or they placed their hand over their heart during the National Anthem? They earned the right to stand on that podium.

As an American, I'm proud--and thankful--for all the men and women who went out there and worked to represent me. Competition in the Olympic arena was never my hope or dream, but we all have some hope, some dream we strive for. May we continue to work for our dreams undeterred by the naysayers in the world.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Mocking Keys

Writing is more challenging the longer you're away from it. The brain is a clever opponent, zigging this way and that, presenting other more attractive options than sitting down and actually writing. There are oh, so many books to read. And social media pages crying out for attention. And of course, the never-ending wonder of the Internet. If all else fails, the brain just takes...a nap.

What's distracting me now? An orange. The scent of it--even through the closed refrigerator door--is soooo alluring I can't stand it. I must have the orange! I. Must. Have. It.

Wait! The blog post isn't finished. No orange until it's finished.

The end.

No, no, no. That's not right. Say what you have to say. Hmmmm. What was I gonna say? Something important? No-oo.

The end.

No! Hands on the keyboard. Write! Write, write, write. Um, write? Yes. Write. But, but, writing is so hard. So hard. And there's an orange in the refrigerator. And a cheese stick. Really, writing is too hard to do today. Maybe tomorrow...


But I'm so tired. And sleepy. And zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Paralyzed with Fear

In the past few weeks I've corresponded with numerous writers who all began writing about the same time I did. Everyone is reporting the same writing going on. They sit down in front of the big white screen and freeze. The brain doesn't work. The joy and desire isn't there. Nothing. Nada.

Oh, I understand! It's been a long dry spell for me. Then today as I was putzing along with a computer game the reason dawned. It's damn hard to write when you don't really care what happens to your characters. I think we've been victims of our success.

Back in the beginning when we didn't know much, we just wrote. All those things we worry about now like POV and character development and grammar and blurbs and other crap too stupid to even discuss just gets in our way. We've forgotten how to just tell the story. We're worried about writing the great romance/mystery/paranormal/sci-fi/fantasy novel--instead of just writing the story.

How did this happen? I think we're all so hung up on 'improving' and 'honing our skills' and all that other stuff that gets in the way that we're afraid.  Yep. Afraid we can't measure up. Afraid we won't be a success. Afraid someone won't like what we write. Too bad. So what if someone doesn't like it? Back in the beginning, weren't we eager to share our stories with someone...anyone? And didn't we write because we loved writing? Didn't we love our characters to the point of living with them day in and day out so that the rest of the world didn't really matter?

If we aren't involved with our stories, why would anyone else be? That's what we're missing. Recently, I've read several books, some that we'd even call novellas, that are NOT the great American romances. But you know what? I love them. I can't wait until the next ones in the series come out. And do you know why? Because it's obvious their creators love them. They're engaged in telling their character's stories. They want to share their character's adventures.

I have a story I've struggled with for several years. And here is why. I forgot to just tell the story. I was afraid I couldn't do justice to this character. That his story would be a 'throw-away'. And in refusing to share his story, his triumph, I did him a great injustice. I didn't trust him to let me tell his story. I was afraid.

We have to get back to the basics. Tell the story. Let the characters shine through.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Death Came Today

Fifty people died early this morning in Orlando, Florida. They weren't the only deaths in the USA...or even the only deaths of American citizens today. If their murders weren't so spectacular and gruesome, if the political spin potential wasn't so great, we wouldn't be having conversations about terrorism, or gay lifestyles, or gun control. The families would be mourning in private and life would go on.

The manner of their deaths is what sets this group of people apart from all the others who died today...All those who died in accidents, from cancer, from old age or birth, from heart attacks and strokes and family violence. People die every single day. Some die from stoning because they're just who they are--women--and others die from guns because a child found a weapon that was unsecured. Some die from a car accident because of a blown tire. Others die from beatings inflicted by family members. Death comes everyday.

A peculiar reaction happens when a mass death happens, though. People rise up, determined to blame someone or something, even if none of the dead are theirs, because by Golly, someone is going to pay! Instead of mourning, instead of pulling together to provide comfort, we argue and debate about who deserves to shoulder the blame.

I wonder. Is there a magical number that makes death more important? Does the family that lost their child to cancer grieve less than the family that lost their child to gun violence in a night club? And does their religion or sexual orientation or ethnicity or race or occupation make their lives more or less 'valuable'?

Death came today across the world, leaving terrible holes in the lives of those who live. Humans are the same everywhere. Volunteers inundated the blood banks in Orlando to donate blood. In the pictures I saw, there were black and white, male and female, waiting patiently to do their part for the survivors. Because blood is blood. It pumps through our veins. It sustains life. And when it stops, unbearable grief descends on family and friends, regardless of the cause.

The blame game settles nothing, particularly when the perpetrator is dead. If we seek to blame others, then we take away from the monstrous deeds of one man. Why do we do that? Why do we try to spread the blame for this man's deeds to others? He planned it. He carried it out. No one else. He bears the responsibility. I refuse to give him any glory by using his name, but only he did it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Absotively Possilutely

We've all known an individual who is so upbeat all the time we just want to slap them. They not only make lemonade with the lemons life tosses them, they also make lemon bars and lemon cake and lemon sherbet and lemon... Well we all know at least one.

Then there's the one who resides on the other end of the scale. Nothing is right. Nothing. If they inherited a million dollars, it still wouldn't be enough. If the sun is shining, they complain about the heat or the wind or how it makes their eyes hurt.

Somewhere in the middle is a happy place. This is a place that allows us to deal with the lemons in life, but provides comfort and contentment to bolster us in the bad times. It's reality. The secret is awareness of the good moments in the center of the bad. A good cup of coffee. Bright shiny leaves on a tree after a hard rain. A single flower blooming it's heart out by the side of the road. A child's smile. A book or song that touches the heart.

We're living in hard times all over the world. I'd be the first to admit there is violence, grief, war all around us. But if we are to survive on an individual basis, we must find a center of quiet, a place of tranquility where we gather strength to face the battles of life.

In the past, everyone was expected to take a time of contemplation, a time to live in that 'happy place' even for a few moments. Thinking doesn't happen in the hurly-burly of life. The mind and heart require quiet for that. It's probably why so many writers admit to having their best ideas while in the shower.

Take a moment. Have a cup of tea or coffee while listening to a favorite piece of music. Walk in the woods. Hear the laughter of children. Smile at a stranger. Five minutes. Just five minutes without interruption. Gear up for the day.   

Monday, June 6, 2016

Copy and Paste

Sigh. Reach out and touch someone by saying hello. Copying and pasting some mindless status takes little-to-no effort and just annoys folks. It's passive-aggressive and irritating. Say something original...even if it's just an observation about the life going on around you.

Talk about a book you're reading or the flowers growing in your garden or the silly stuff your gerbil is doing, but for crying out loud, quit asking people to copy and paste crap--especially when there's an implied threat that all life as we know it will come to an end if they don't. It's social media, not chain letter heaven.

That is all.

Sunday, June 5, 2016


Sunday is my day to surf the web and read dubious content. The thing that struck me about the various stories that caught my eye is the extent that our culture has supported self-centrism. It's all about 'me'...even if it's incredibly stupid or criminal.

Take the young woman who asked a potential bride's maid to dye her red hair all the bride's maids would match. Um, if hair color is that important, why ask the woman to be in your wedding? Clearly, it's not because of your emotional attachment.

Or the agnostic fellow who lives far away from his family. During a home visit, he was invited to his sister's renewal of her marriage vows--in a church--and was deeply offended that he might have to go inside a church. He felt like his beliefs were more important than her ceremony. Um, don't attend, idiot. Your disapproving presence would ruin her celebration.

Of course, the topper for the week is the fellow who was convicted of rape, then given a six month sentence because more time might negatively impact his future. Yet again, a victim is pushed aside in favor of a convicted felon. Why? What about her future? Doesn't her life have value?

Or the chick who caused a car accident that killed four people--because she was texting--and now is whining because she doesn't believe she should have to serve time. Four people died. Since when do we let someone walk away when they are clearly at fault? Hello...if you shot them, you sure wouldn't.

I have to scratch my head over such stories. Are we really so self-centered no one matters except ourselves? Are we so accepting of such behavior that we not only approve, but even support injustice based on self-importance? I don't understand.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Not in my Lifetime

"High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants," the rock slab says. "Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point." ca. 1896
Read more:

The warning stone above was carved after 22,000 Japanese citizens died in a tsunami. In 1896. Many who died in the most recent tsunami were living and working below the points where the tsunami stones were erected. And why? Because 'nothing like that has happened in my lifetime'.

In the midwestern USA a flood disaster is in progress. I cannot tell you how many videos I've watched where shocked, homeless survivors say things like, "I'm in my seventies and I've never seen anything like this." Or..."My grandpa is ninety-two and he said there's never been flooding like this before." Well, that's pretty much the definition of a hundred year flood. The notion that it's never happened before, therefore it never will, is false.

My heart goes out to all those people who've lost their homes and family members to floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, wild fires, hurricanes, volcanoes and other natural disasters. But the truth is life is pretty much a crap shoot. Wherever you live you have to expect the unexpected--and that means you'll likely have little-to-no warning. I have observed my fellow man and woman for quite a long time now. And I have to say in spite of the ever present mountain of information and electronic media, people are oblivious. 

They're oblivious and have pathetic faith that nothing bad will happen to them. The police warn of a serial killer/or rapist attacking women in a certain scenario or part of town. "Don't walk alone," they warn. "Lock your windows and doors. Be aware of your surroundings." And yet...the warnings go unheeded.

Folks build on low-lying land or flood plains because they can't conceive of that much rain. They live on the coast because a hurricane is not going to come ashore exactly where they live. They live below a volcano because it hasn't erupted in years. 
Time to wake up. Mother Earth is seriously annoyed and she's changing. Just because something hasn't happened in your lifetime...your chances are going up sharply that it will in your future. Heed the warnings.