Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Have it Your Way...

From the early explorers, through the Pilgrims and other colonial settlers, through Thomas Jefferson, and right up to Michael Jackson, we've been a country of non-conformists, free thinkers and inventors. And every step of the way, our free spirits battled the conformists who would deny progress or new ideas.

The vast majority of people in every country, whether technologically advanced or starkly primitive, are conservative. Nah, I'm not talking about religion. I'm talking about their willingness to change their ideas. Overall, humans are not comfortable with change. We're mostly a sheepish culture who fight change tooth and toenail. (The actual expression is "tooth and nail"--see origin of expression here--but I grew up on the tooth and toenail version so, of course, I'm resistant to change!)

Yet those we admire most, either from the past or the present, are the non-conformists who marched to their own drummers, refusing to fit in the little boxes assigned to them. They were the ones who had a vision and went for it.

Few of us are courageous enough to stand out there on our own, living our lives as we truly wish because we're afraid of what family, friends, or neighbors might say. Peer pressure is alive and well all around the world. The free spirit is not welcome whether in the huts in Africa or the mansions in New York.

Our neighbors could be criminals, another race or religion, on welfare, have sixteen children... but all of those things pale beside the epithet of odd or different. No one wants to be thought odd or different. And it's strange that the words odd or different cover a multitude of realities from mental illness to shyness to being gay. No specific explanation is required. It's enough to say, "Well-ll, he's a little different." Or, "Let's just say that she's kinda odd."

Rather than be thought different or odd, the average human will go out of their way to fit in with the cultural norms. If everyone else is wearing mini-skirts, well by gum, they'll wear a mini-skirt, even if it's uncomfortable, unattractive, and possibly even borders on the obscene. Long hair, short hair, beards, mustaches, chest hair or smooth, glasses or none, we desperately try to fit in.

Well. This July 4th, I'm declaring my own Independence Day. I've decided that I'm going to do things my way, whether it's writing what I want to write, wearing what I find comfortable, or living life on my own terms. Life is too short to worry about whether someone else likes the color of your shoes.

How about you? Want to celebrate your independence with me? Name one thing about yourself you would like to "have your way". I'll pick one comment at random for a free copy of Surpassing Pleasures, my new release on July 3rd.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday, Monday

It was a looooong weekend at my house. The house hunk was off work on Friday so we went shopping all day. I believe I got sunburned which always wipes me out.

Then there was the partial rest/recovery on Saturday to prepare for the laundry day on Sunday. Ten loads of laundry. Have I mentioned I hate doing laundry? And the laundromat was packed. It's a huge laundromat and I tell ya, I've never seen so many people there before. Wow.

So Monday. Haven't accomplished any writing for three days so it's going to be a head to the keyboard kind of day. All day. I only have four more uninterrupted days to work before we go away to New York for the Independence Day weekend. Then we're bringing the grandkids back for two or three weeks of playtime. I suspect that I will not accomplish a lot of writing then.

Today the house hunk has to take our vehicle in for the 120K mile check up and we already know that we have to have transmission work done. They've arranged to give us a loaner vehicle while they're working on ours. It would be nice if we had grocery money left over after the car repairs.

Monday, Monday. I'm looking forward to things settling down for a few days. How about you?


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ahhhh, Caturday!

I went shopping alllll day yesterday. Today? I'll recover from my decadence, maybe. In the meantime, click on the Summer Breeze Icon and check out the wonderful contest with tons of prizes! And have a great weekend.


Friday, June 26, 2009


Proofreading-- it's tougher than it looks. The eye naturally fills in what the brain expects to see. I find that the best way to prevent that from happening is to read my work out loud. Unfortunately, that usually doesn't work as well if I'm reading to myself as it does if I'm reading to someone else.

Enter my friend Jane. Oh, the trial of being Anny's friend! With infinite patience she walks around her house, loading the dishwasher or cooking or whatever else she has to do with the phone tucked under her ear, listening to me drone on and on as I read my work in progress. There is very little that I've written that she hasn't heard the first reading.

I can usually gauge how on-track I am by the number of times she calls on God as I'm reading. I know I'm in big trouble if there's complete silence on the other end, though I admit that doesn't happen often.

Then I send my work off to my critique partners who have a look at it. While they're not necessarily looking for typos, they do notice those words that give an entirely new meaning to the sentence when they're misspelled or unfortunately located. You know--the type of sentences that end up on e-mails comprised of funny bloopers.

Then I go back through the work. There are things to check. I have my list of "favorite" words. Deep, that, just, abruptly, all of a sudden, sigh, frown...words that I use over and over and over.

I put the story aside for a week and then read it again. It's discouraging to admit that I find more errors. I've discussed the odd errors I've found in other authors' books after they were released. Frankly, based on my own experience, I think it's a miracle if a book reaches publication error free. But that doesn't prevent me from trying.

Proofreader wanted.


Don't forget the Summer Breeze Contest! Only five more days! Scroll down to the icon and click on it for details!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Not long ago, when my daughter was here for the weekend we looked through pictures. I thought it was interesting through the generations that over and over, we strike the same poses. We stand the same way. The kids always look peeved because they don't want to be there. The adults are solemn and stoic. This picture is my brothers and me in front of the house where we lived in about 1958. Weren't we a charming bunch?
This is the house hunk and I with our brood at Grand Canyon around 1980. It was August, but only about sixty degrees there that day, cloudy, rainy, and the kids were freezing. Naturally since the hunk was holding the little one, he didn't notice that her blanket was down around her tushie.
This is a picture of some ancestors ca 1850. Don't they look like a happy bunch? Two of the girls and the little boy (on dad's lap) married into another branch of my family. I figure that's the way to make sure you don't feel like an in-law.
These two are man and wife, last name Farmer ca 1840. They lived in Arkansas when it was a territorial frontier, long before it was a state. He was a blacksmith. When I look at them, I can readily imagine that they had the perseverance and gumption to stick it out. Times were tough. They had what it took to make it.

I wonder what my descendants will think when they look at my pictures after I'm long gone?


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Big Dream

If you belong to the romance world, author, publisher, or editor, you can't help being aware of the huge brouhaha with the RWA. Nah, don't go away. I'm not gonna write about it. I'm gonna write about dreams.

Once upon a time, back when I first started writing when I was in my twenties, there was only one route to publishing. That was with the big NY romance houses like Harlequin, Silhouette, Loveswept, and the zillion others that came and went. The problem with submitting to those houses was that it took money. Money for postage and paper. That was money that I sure didn't have.

So I kept writing, thinking that someday I would have the money. But the romance world changed on me. By the time I actually had a little money for postage and paper, romance had become not just a big business, but a HUGE business where your chances of selling a story depended on agents and conferences and a whole host of other variables. While I had money for postage and paper, there was not spare money for those other things.

When I discovered the world of digital publishing, it seemed that this might be my chance. No postage, paper, or agents required. If my story was compelling enough, then I had a chance after all. I was profoundly shocked and astonished when my first book was accepted. I was thrilled to death when people actually bought my book! People read my book and liked it!

I think in the last few months I've forgotten why I write. Ultimately, I write because I love to write. Sharing my stories with other people is a bonus. Whether I share them in digital format or print format or some other yet to be developed format doesn't matter. It doesn't make me less an author. It doesn't dilute my dream. I don't need to be a bestseller. Because I'm published. And that fulfills my dream.


Don't Forget the Summer Breeze Contest! Scroll down for details!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chasing the Tale

Like a whirling dervish the author chases after their story, often running in circles as they rush to capture the elusive tale. Run, run, run. If they're a pantster like me, then it sometimes feels like an endless chase. Every time I think I have the story in my grasp--it slips away.

Then with shocking abruptness the story comes together before I'm prepared for it to be finished. Now what? I have that elusive furry tale firmly between my teeth, but how am I to let go? Surely all my hard work doesn't come down to this?

For me the toughest part of any story is getting started. I stalk around, trying to loosen those mental muscles, getting ready to run and yet I postpone the real chase reluctant to commit to the whirling rush. I know that once I take that final leap there will be no stopping until I've caught the tale. Then suddenly my time is up. I jump in, running, running, running until I grip my prize.

It's hard to let go after working so hard. But the back is kinking. The fur is getting kinda slimy. Yeah, it's time to unleash that tale and find a nice sunny spot to take a nap. There will be another chase tomorrow.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Breeze Contest!

Summer's here! And there's nothing like a good book and a beach towel to celebrate! From June 21 (today!) through June 30, the Summer Breeze Contest is open. Just click on the contest icon for all the details. And good luck!


PS: I'm blogging over at the Goddesses of Storytelling today. Drop by!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

As I was growing up I expected to grow to be like my mother. After all, we're the same gender, right? So why do I have a beard and mustache? Does it seem that something isn't quite right?

I must admit that other than the facial decorations, I would be proud to be like my dad. I would especially like his tall genes and his "skinny" genes. He's a hale 79 years old and truthfully could outwalk me any day of the week. He could likely even outrun me.

So Dad? Happy Father's Day! And so many more!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's Caturday!

Ah, the weekend! Strangely, for a retired person, I still look forward to the weekend. Weird, when you think about it. I mean I accomplish less on the weekend than any other time because the house hunk is home. I sleep later during the week so that's not it.

Maybe it's just a cultural thing. The weekend traditionally meant some downtime and relaxation. In any case, I wish you all a wonderful weekend. Travel safely. Rest. Enjoy your family and friends.


Friday, June 19, 2009

I'm talking here!

Have you ever noticed the minute you pick up the phone, everyone in the next three blocks has to talk to you immediately? And it's always an emergency? It's something so important it might just decide the fate of the world?

If you want peace and quiet, don't pick up the phone. Don't answer the phone. Don't even let the idea cross your mind. All will be like a zen garden at dawn.

However! If you take that call...then all hell will break loose. People will appear literally out of the woodwork. Children will scream. Sirens will howl. Your significant other (who you haven't seen in two weeks because it's football season) will suddenly leave his TV to track you down.

Heh. It never failed. When I started a telephone conversation, all four kids would find something that needed my immediate attention. With my kids it was never a minor emergency. Fire...flood...disaster. There was usually blood involved.

Now that the children are all grown, the house hunk has taken up the banner. The man can talk on the phone for hours with our son. But let me get on the phone with him and the house hunk instantly thinks of fourteen things he has to tell him right now. Oh, and by the way, isn't it time for lunch?

In self defense, telephone time is now late at night or during the day when the house hunk is gone to work. Amazing what you can accomplish without interruptions, isn't it?


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Donkey vs. Tank

Sometimes... things don't go quite like you planned. Sometimes... you have to improvise. Sometimes... instead of a tank, you're given a donkey.

I think there are people who just naturally receive a donkey. I used to think that the donkey people were the ones who were getting the short end of the stick, but I've changed my mind. I think that they're the ones who have the ingenuity and intelligence to not only deal with that stubborn ass, but make it work to their advantage.

You see, some people would not know how to do that. They would spend more time picking themselves up off the ground than actually riding the donkey. They would be the ones who whine about having to find something to feed their donkey. I bet they would be the ones who ended up walking up the hill, leading their donkey by a rope so they didn't look stupid. Whereas most true donkey people would ride up the hill because they would rather look stupid than be tired.

I generally feel sorry for the tank people because they will never learn to be self-sufficient. They'll never learn caution. They'll never have freedom to try out the by-ways, but will always have to take the broad path. They'll never take the scenic route.

The donkey people are the explorers. They're the ones who are willing to try a different approach. They're the ones who have enough self-confidence to look foolish. They're the ones who live life to its fullest.

On the whole, I'm kind of glad to be a donkey person...


Wednesday, June 17, 2009


If it looks like a duck and it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck... it's probably a duck. In the last few weeks I've dealt with some stuff in my life that's pretty much been ducky. I'm almost intelligent so even though several people have denied there's a duck stalking me, I've arrived at the unmistakable conclusion that there is indeed a duck--or three--out there in the shadows.

After all, ducks are difficult to hide. Flocks of ducks are noisy and their quacking is so distinctive that even the youngest, most inexperienced bystander can instantly identify them. So my duck stalkers hide in vain. I comfort myself with the knowledge that down the road a bright light will shine, picking them out of the shadows. And their true colors will be revealed.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Supply and Demand

I saw a news piece today about Six Flags declaring bankruptcy. Now I understand about the need for income to cover maintenance and upkeep on the rides. I understand about the competition for bigger and better rides. I even understand the enormous staff it takes to keep a themepark running.


If you make the ticket price so high that no one can afford to buy them, then pretty soon, no one shows up to spend their hard-earned dollars at the park. And then you go out of business.

Another post listed five restaurant chains that will likely go out of business this year. Again, most of them can't compete at a fair price. And the customers are going some where else.

There's a fine line out there for businesses to walk. Too much? People go some where away. Not enough? The company goes bankrupt because there's not enough income. Yep, the economy is not doing so hot. But ultimately, it all boils down to supply and demand.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Recently some fellow writers and I discussed the plethora (love that word) of romances with the CEO/Billionaire/VIP/SuperJock/SEAL heroes. Where are the everyman heroes, I asked. What's wrong with the accountants, the cable repairman, the auto mechanic? Are we really that hung up on the adrenaline junkies?

The paranormal heroes are even worse. For some reason, there don't seem to be very many paranormal heroes that are working stiffs. So many of them seem to be rich playboy types with not a lot of things to do except perhaps manage other paranormal types. Truly I don't have any bone to pick with rich guys, but I think I would find it more interesting to explore what an everyday guy would have to do to get along in the paranormal world.

As a matter of fact I have a work in progress about a poor vampire. He's old. Really, really old. Like from the Roman Empire. And broke. What's a vampire who lives below poverty level supposed to do when he still has to pay the rent and utilities? How many jobs are there out there that are available at night? Julius, my vampire, reluctantly takes on a job at the local paranormal night school where he teaches newbie vampires all the rules. His Vampire Bootcamp class is for those new vampires whose sires don't have time to teach them.

So far, I'm having fun with it. And Julius--a very old dog--is learning some new tricks, too.


Sunday, June 14, 2009


When your sons are young, it seems like you will never have peace and quiet. They're incessant talking machines with a boundless fount of energy and they're loud.

And then they grow up. And conversation--especially on the telephone is exactly like the picture above. Only I'm pretty sure that the dog is having a longer conversation that I usually do.

There are a few exceptions... Mother's Day. Christmas. The day after my son survived a tornado. The day after the older son survived a car crash. But mostly... mostly they act as though they've lost use of those mouths that used to give me a migraine.

Occasionally, one of them will shock me by having a fairly lengthy conversation and I'll wonder if they're sick or in jail or something equally disastrous. When I query them, there's always this aura of innocence. "I just thought I'd give you a call and talk."

Uh-huh. Like I believe that. Something's going on. I'm a mother. I know these things.


Saturday, June 13, 2009


Heh. That would be me. I hired my neighbor to cook because I can't manage to cook a nice piece of meat properly. Either it's so done it's tough or it's so underdone it's still breathing...

I even do exactly what she tells me to do. And it's not happening. Of course, I'm also the one who can burn oatmeal. And boiling water.

On the other hand, I make a pretty good bread, a fair cup of instant cocoa, and a medium fried egg. In my world, everything is cooked in one pot--not because I don't own more pots but because that's my attention limit. One pot. Anything over that burns, boils over, or gets lumpy/clumpy.

How about you? What's your main dish?


Friday, June 12, 2009

The Game

I'm not much of a gamer. I play the occasional game of solitaire. Once in a while I play a game of Ages of Empires. But almost always when I have time to play a game it's because I'm waiting. Waiting for the noodles to cook. Waiting for the house hunk to get home from work. Waiting for a phone call back. And because I'm waiting, the chances are I won't finish the game because hey! It's a game--not life.

Now the house hunk is a completely different story. He goes to work. He takes care of his responsibilities. But when he's in gaming mode...life stops all around him. The telephone rings unanswered. Knocks at the door are ignored. Appointments are scheduled around the gaming schedule. I suspect that I would have to make my own 9-1-1 call if I had a heart attack because likely he wouldn't notice.

So I admit I don't quite get it. Sometimes I'll be playing a game, realize that I'm bored with it and shut it off. Once the house hunk saw me do that and I have to tell you--it took him days to get past that. "But how will you know whether you would win or not?" he would demand out of the blue.

"I don't care."

"But ..."

So for him to stop in the middle of a game is just impossible. He only actually plays his game a couple times a week, but the other nights he'll spend time planning for when he's going to play. It's a ritual that reminds me of soldiers preparing for a mission. Maybe it's a guy thing. Maybe they need a mission to plan and if they're not in the military, then this is a substitute. I don't know.

All I know is that I dread hearing, "I'm in the middle of the Game!!!"


Thursday, June 11, 2009

June Monsoons...

I have a feeling that the umbrella wouldn't have been enough this week. Every evening we've had raging thunder and lightning storms with heavy downpours. Hail, wind, and enough rain to flood our back yard. More is forecast for the rest of the week. Feels like monsoon season.

All the water helps the grass grow so fast that the mowers can barely keep up. And green? Yeah, it's a bright, bright green. I try to enjoy it everyday because around August when the dry doldrums hit, that grass will be sad...brown and dried out like straw.

The trouble with the monsoonal rains is that they happen in late afternoon and early evening. The sun shines all morning, building up the heat and humidity and then bamm! Just as people get on the road at rush hour or prepare to do a bit of shopping, down comes the flood.

We only have one vehicle and that means that most of our business is conducted once the house hunk gets home from work. Except for the last week, it's pretty much rained everyday. Hmmm. Maybe I should borrow the kitty's umbrella.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Water Tank

When I was about fourteen, my family went to stay for two weeks at the "home ranch" in West Texas. The house we stayed in was, er, primitive by modern standards. It had no electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing. That's a picture of the house below. My grandfather was the second man from the right. And that's pretty much what the house looked like when we stayed there.
It's hot in the summer in West Texas. And on the home place, there isn't much shade or anywhere to cool off so my dad took us out to one of the water tanks to "swim".

The tank wasn't much bigger around than that tub the tigers are soaking in. But I think it was about four feet deep. I know it was deep enough that my toes stirred up the dark green stuff growing in the bottom. Being the girly-girl that I was at fourteen, I was a bit squeamish about that green stuff.

Every reservoir and water tank on the place had that yucky stuff because there was so much sun. Next to the water tank, an old windmill pumped enough water to keep it trickling into a water trough for the sheep and cows that meandered on the place.

Looking back I wonder that my brothers and I didn't get raging ear infections from playing in that water tank. But the joy of being a kid is that you don't worry about that kind of stuff--you just enjoy the forbidden pleasures of cool water on hot summer days.


Monday, June 8, 2009


I've been a little down lately. Didn't realize my attitude was dragging down my friends until a couple queried me with e-mails with "Are you okay?" in the subject line. Isn't it nice to have friends who are concerned about you?

Anyway, I decided I had enough of my pity party so today I deliberately went looking for things to do that would make me happy. I'm not going to lie and say that I found a LOT of stuff that cheered me up, but I did accomplish quite a few things.

I put away a lot of laundry. Yay! Since I usually just use stuff out of the laundry baskets instead of messing around with the whole putting it away scenario, that was quite an accomplishment for me. Perhaps tomorrow I'll continue on with the deal and put away the rest of the laundry. That would be something, eh?

I loaded the dishwasher, stopped up the sink, summoned the maintenance man (on a Sunday!), and subsequently ended up with an unstopped sink. I was quite proud of myself when he praised my efforts to unstop it before I called. I did all the right things. Heh. Experience is everything, right?

I wrote about three thousand words on three different wips. Finished chapters on two of them and began the next. I feel good about the story lines in all three. And the shortie I'm working for to be included in an anthology at Resplendence Publishing is moving along, too. So overall, it was a good day for writing.

The sun shined today. Most of the day the windows were open. It was nice to hear the trees rustling and the sounds of summer. Birds, kids, sirens... funny how they provide that backdrop we think of as summery. Sammie the cat sprawled in the window sunbathing. She loves the sun.

I re-read a couple of books that I enjoyed in the past, enjoying the interplay between the characters and the funny dialogue. The ending of one of them is my all time favorite ending in a book. When I tried to explain it to a friend, she didn't get it...because you had to read the book to understand.

I think I'll dig out Louis L'Amour's Last of the Breed because that has my other all time favorite ending. Sometimes I think authors underestimate the importance of the last sentence in a book. After all, that's the last thing the reader reads. That's the thing that stays with the reader. Hmmm. I best go look at my books and see what I can do to improve the last sentence.

Sammie and I took a nap this evening. We curled up on the bed and snored our way through a ninety minute nap. I woke up feeling a bit better and settled. Played a computer game. Talked to my friend. And watched a couple funny videos on YouTube.

Now the day is over. And Monday morning will be here before I know it. Hope y'all had a good weekend!


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Duct tape memoirs...

I once had a love affair with duct tape. There is nothing that you can't do if you have duct tape, string, and plastic trash bags. Of course, that was back when I was younger and full of hopeful ideals.

Then life happened. I grew up and realized that I was missing a few opportunities because I didn't have a Swiss Army knife and a box of paper clips. For my birthday, my house hunk rectified that problem and I was no longer deficient in my ability to solve any problem, right any wrong because I had it all.

Alas, my skills are no longer needed because everyone knows the great secret of duct tape now. Passing strangers carry their very own Swiss Army knives. Even the most unprepared individual can scrounge up a piece of string or a bent paper clip.

No, the only advantage I still have over the rest is the three plastic trash bags stashed in my purse. Shhhhh. Don't tell anyone. Or I'll be reduced to using my pistol.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Gurl Cliques

What is it about girls? They're all about clubs. Or cliques. Or groups. Or whatever they want to call it. And if you don't belong to that group, don't know the secret password, then you're bat guano.

It usually starts with a group of individuals who have some experience in common, say the military. Guys--and gals--who've been in the military belong to this nebulous club. Primarily, that's because the rest of us cannot share in the experience that they've had.

But there are other groups that are more finite and better defined. Remember the Pink Ladies from Grease? All those gals with a pink jacket belonged to the group. That musical was about kids in High School.

I wonder why we're still bound by high school social mores. I'm nearly sixty years old. Why would I want to be constrained by the limits of a club, group, loop, or clique? Why am I supposed to limit my friends only to those that are part of any given group?

It seems to me that with maturity should come the ability to make friends from all walks of life. And once those friends are chosen, no one should feel that they have the power to determine who shall or shall not be my friend. Do all of my friends have to get along? That's up to them. One thing I've learned over the years is that not everyone is compatible. So be it.

Exclusivity for me is reserved for marriage.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Buyer Beware...

Rarely in my life do I actually encounter the reality of that old saw, "What goes around, comes around." Yesterday I discussed various pirate sites that offer illegal downloads of books, movies, and other creative properties. Later I discovered that one of them was a scam site. You pay $5 to join. Then you find out there are no books or movies to download. However, for your $5 you do receive endless porno spam.

Ah, I can hear you asking, "What site is that? I sure don't want to try that one!" Well, here's where that old cliché kicks in. If you are one of the thieves that patronize such sites, you'll just have to take your chances. That's what I call justice.

However, if you're an author who needs the information, e-mail me privately and I'll give you the name of the site. annycook67@yahoo.com

Now as to the numbers quoted in yesterday's post. I still stand by them, even without that one site. After all, if you have 2500 downloads on ten different sites, that still equals 25,000 downloads. There are tons of sites, based both in the USA and overseas. I suspect that the actual losses to piracy are much higher, but some of the sites have no download numbers listed publicly.

For a long time now, I've been very puzzled by the stunning array of hits on my website from foreign countries. I know the Internet makes it a small world out there, but really--Bulgaria? Iran? Chile? I write erotic romance. And some of the countries represented are not exactly bastions for erotica or sexual freedom. Tonight I went back through my reports. I counted twenty-seven countries, including Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Egypt, and Zambia.

I'm wondering if they first heard of Anny Cook on the piracy sites? All of the hits are coming in as searching for Anny Cook or Anny Cook (+ a book title). If the hits were generating from my publisher's website, why need to run a search? So, has any other writer noticed this trend? I'd like to hear what y'all think.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

I met a thief...

Or two or three... actually, I met 40,000 thieves. When you're a relatively new author, you are thrilled to death when you make your first sale and if you're smart you don't have major expectations. But after a while... well when your sales start dropping like rocks, then you start to feel like you must be doing something wrong.

I've been aware that thieves who steal my books on line were having a major impact on my sales. And like many other authors, I've spent time fighting them with the few weapons at my disposal. But tonight I ran through several pirating sites and added up the numbers for one book.

On one site, the downloads for Kama Sutra Lovers totaled over 30, 000. On another smaller one, there were over 1500. And yet another one had 7000. So, 38,500 downloads of one title on just three sites. Let's suppose that my cut for each sale is usually two dollars. That rounds out to $77,000. Not exactly chump change.

And there's another factor at work. Publishers base their decision to offer contracts on sales of previous books. When sales are low, they assume that readers are not interested in reading that author's books. And that's exactly what will happen in my future if thieves keep stealing my books.

It doesn't matter what rationalization the thieves come up with. Really. It's a simple matter of law. If you didn't pay for it, then you stole it.

For those fans of mine who request copies of my books on various pirating sites--don't. Just don't. You're not only stealing a book, but my future.

For those fans who part with their hard-earned money so they can read one of my books, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You can't imagine how wonderful it makes me feel.

I can't tell you the total number of books stolen from me. But simple arithmetic puts it up there around 300,000. I'm not a well-known author like Nora Roberts or one of the other biggies. So if that many books are stolen from me--a relative unknown--imagine the number stolen from the others.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Levels of friendship

Last night I was surfing around the Net, reading articles that sounded interesting. One article reported the results of a study that found that half of all our friends are replaced every seven years. http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/halfofallfriendsreplacedevery7years That sounds about right to me. I spent some time thinking back over the years about various friends I've made. Many friends are acquired in specific context...work, church, neighbors. So if your life changes in a significant way, then it's possible that you or your friends move on.

In my last big move, I lost friends in all those categories. I left my job, left my church, and moved to another state. In a very short period of time I found that I no longer had any common interests with my old friends so I looked around for new friends. Fortunately, I have a wonderful friend in my downstairs neighbor, Jane.

And when I started writing I found fellow writers with a common interest. Over the last two years I've found some really interesting women to visit with. In October I look forward to visiting with almost all of them in person as we meet at a conference. Even in that special group though, some have moved on while new ones have arrived. In our very mobile world with ever-changing homes, jobs, and families, I can definitely see the possibilities of changing friends.

Another article studied the prevalence of friends "with benefits". http://www.livescience.com/culture/090402-friends-with-benefits.html I found this post very interesting because back in my day there was no such animal. I sure there was an instance of friends with benefits, but if so, no one would admit it. It wouldn't have been respectable at all. Back then for the few who dared to have sex prior to marriage it was all about LOVE. If you were caught with an unexpected pregnancy, it was eventually excused because you were in LOVE.

This article was about friends who occasionally have sex with each other because they need to scratch an itch and doing so with a friend is safer. Hmmm. That almost puts it on the same level as a chimp that grooms another chimp in the hopes that he gets some. I'm no doubt old fashioned, but I suspect that I would have a tough time wrapping my head around such a friendship.

How would that work? You call up Joe and say, "Why don't you come over this evening--I'm horny?" Is that it? Joe shows up with a six pack of wine coolers and a handful of condoms? Or is the woman responsible for that stuff if she's the instigator? I can see that there are all sorts of things I don't know about being friends with benefits.

I wonder if you both date other people? What is one of you isn't available when the other one wants to get it on? What if he has a headache when she's ready to rumble? Interesting.

Apparently, friendship has a very elastic definition.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bad hair day

Short hair is good. Long hair is good. But that in between stage? Not so good. For many years my hair has been relatively short. But before that it was fairly long at several different times. Now I'm letting it grow out simply because I enjoy long hair and I'm finally at a time in my life when I can take the time to care for it.

Somewhere between long and short hair reaches that stage where you can't seem to do anything with it. I wake up with hair in my face. It's just long enough to twist and put it up with a clip... until the finer strands slip out. I've tried plastering down all the shorter strands with small clips. Unfortunately I look like a futuristic robot then.

I figure another four to six weeks will do it. By then I'll be able to wear it in a stubby ponytail--just in time for the summer heat to arrive!

When I was a kid, I could sit on my hair. My mom was no fool. She kept it braided. Then she died and my dad took one look at that mass of hair and said, "Oh, no, not me!" He plopped a bowl over my head and cut it all off. Instant Beatles cut waaaaay before they were even a twinkle in someone's brain. To be perfectly fair to my dad, there were four of us and I was the oldest child. I'm sure he had his hands full back then.

I'm not ambitious enough to want it that long again. But I'm looking forward to wearing it up with some fancy clips. Until then, Chewbacca and I will have more than our beards in common.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Tell all...

One of the frequent questions fired at writers is, "Do you use real people in your books?" And the answer is? No. Not because I have any moral objections, but because life overall is pretty drab. I know very few people whose lives would be interesting reading.

Our lives are interesting because we're in the midst of them, living the experiences, but writing about them would be like that old punch line, "You had to be there." In other words, it would be as interesting as watching paint dry.

Many of our most exciting experiences are times of disaster, chaos, and grief. Highs in life are short and intangible. Explaining our happiness when our child smiles at us is close to impossible and certainly it isn't a book's worth of telling.

Nor do we want to spend pages detailing the dark days of our lives. Who wants to read that? Not me. Nor do I want to write about them either.

I think that's exactly why I like to write quirky stories about oddball characters who have strange lives. Just as some readers use books for an escape, some writers use the writing process for an escape, too. And if they find readers who enjoy their work, then that's good.