Thursday, March 29, 2018
Now, I'll be the first writer to raise my hand and confess that rankings were never something I've been too concerned about because my books are so low in the rankings as to be invisible. However, the rankings are now truly invisible. Amazon has arbitrarily decided certain books are offensive. In order to make it harder for readers to be exposed to such books, they've stripped all rankings so those title don't appear in a reader query.
Censorship is a slippery slope--especially censorship based on some nebulous individual's idea of what is offensive. In this case, apparently, reading romance will lead to sex-trafficking. Yep, romance authors are in the forefront of world wide sex-trafficking because their books dare, I say dare to mention the S word...and I'm not talking about snow.
On another front, I read a couple pieces today stating Microsoft was going to take a greater interest in how their products are used (including Word) and to that end they will start searching out offensive material. There's that word again--offensive. Who decides what is--or is not--offensive? And again, recent legislation related to sex-trafficking has been cited for the reason for this sudden intrusion.
So, I just wonder how the Bible would stand up to this form of censorship...considering all those stories about sexual slavery, incest, rape, stoning...not to mention child marriage, etc. I have nothing against the Bible. I was reared in a Bible reading home. But it's strange how censorship is in the eye of the beholder. Folks out there cheering the current wave of changes might want to consider how those same standards could be used to censor almost all sacred texts (Bible, Koran, etc.) because they all contain passages that would apply.
I've always found it interesting how people don't understand how laws that restrict rights of others can be used to restrict their own, with the right government in power. I say, be careful how you rejoice in your victory. When all the writers are silenced, who will they come for next?
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
In my younger days, it seems to me there wasn't as much angst and worry. I think it might have been because we had a tribe. Now, the Internet is the tribal substitute and let's face it, it isn't doing the job. It's okay for fast communication, but less efficient when one person needs to have a heart-to-heart with another. This substitute cannot arrive with a 1/2 gallon of ice cream and listen to our woes. It can't provide a week's worth of meals for our family when we're in the hospital. It can't hold us when we suffer the loss of a loved one. And we can't provide those long distance, either.
That's why we have a tribe. Tribes are comprised of family and friends. The friends might be co-workers, though my experience tells me this is not likely. They might have other things in common with us such as church, sports activities, or hobbies. Mostly, though, they're simply friends of the heart. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I think most folks have fewer members in their tribes.
One reason for this is mobility. We live all over the world, often thousands of miles from each other and it's inevitable that we gradually lose the intimacy necessary for true tribal cohesion. For instance, I have four children, three siblings, various cousins, aunts and uncles, and parents. The closest are my two children who both live five hours away from me. I have vague ideas about how their lives are going, but no real involvement in their lives.
For true tribal cohesion you need immediacy. And frequent contact. Somehow, so gradually we missed it, we've allowed social media to take the place of our tribe. And when an Internet 'friend' wanders away, well, we don't miss them for long because we're not really involved, are we? They really aren't our tribe.
If we are going to have the comfort and support of a tribe, we first have to build one. We have to exert the effort to join our lives with others around us.
Or we can just sit back and let the fleeting relationships on the Internet act as our substitute tribe. In that case, we shouldn't be surprised if we are lonely or anxious or any of the other separation issues that seem rampant in our world today.
Sunday, March 25, 2018
I learned to embroider from my grandma. She taught me how to cross-stitch on checked gingham. Simple patterns were easy to follow by only using the white squares. And the corners easily defined where to stick the needle. But in addition to that, I learned some other basic skills, such as how to use a thimble, how to thread a needle, how to make a decent knot, and how to take care of my tools. When my project was finished, I also had something to show for my work.
A friendly neighbor taught me how to knit when I was newly married. I made a sweater for my oldest child, and a few winter scarves before life took up so much of my time and knitting went by the wayside for quite a long time--but I never forgot the actual skill of knitting. Forty-plus years later, when I wanted to learn how to knit a sock, those old skills came back.
Another friend taught me how to crochet (which in some ways is an even more practical skill) and after the hunk had double carpel tunnel surgery I taught him how to crochet, too. Over the years, he's crocheted probably fifty blankets/afghans, several placemats, and a bunch of soap hangers. I on the other hand, have crocheted two or three blankets, half a dozen baskets, and some little squares we use to protect our furniture from tea, water, coffee, hot chocolate, and hot mugs. I forget what they're called.
By now, I can see the fellows rolling their eyes. But you know, that's sexist if you are. My dad taught me how to use a screwdriver and hammer and how to measure things before I used a saw. A hand saw. I've changed oil on several cars. I've changed tires. And when we had a vehicle that wasn't so tall, I filled my own wiper fluid, checked the other fluids, and put air in the tires. You know--all those manly skills.
I've painted walls/ceilings, built bookcases, sided a house, helped roof a house (twice), changed a muffler during an ice storm, repaired a water pipe under my house that broke during a freeze, and repaired numerous toilets/sinks/and disposals.
All of these I consider life skills.
My neighbor and friend--actually several of them--taught me how to cook. When I married, I literally burned water more than once. But friends stepped in and I have a pretty wide variety of dishes I know how to cook (most of them are nutritional) and a growing lists of baking skills. I was never much of a candy maker, and that's no doubt a blessing. I made sure all of my children had basic cooking skills. And basic sewing skills. And knew how to do laundry. But I know there are people out there who don't have those skills, so if you see someone struggling, offer to teach them how to do something. In this world of increasing food costs and rocketing obesity, good cooking skills are important. Maybe even life-changing.
But, you know...homey, cozy skills aren't the only ones we need to share. I bet you've never thought about sharing driving skills. There's more to learning how to drive than turning the ignition key and keeping the car in your lane. Long range planning is important. Know where you're going. Make sure you're in the correct lane well ahead of time before you need to turn. Know how to read the traffic. Know how to read a map. I figure if the power grid ever crashes (taking all those GPS' with it), the folks that get where they need to go will be the map readers. Know more than one route to get where you want to go. And for those people who know someone with dyslexic issues, consider the fact that those issues can also affect directional problems and number problems. Help them learn how to drive with landmarks and other aids.
We live in an illiterate world. A staggering number of adults don't know how to read. If you know someone like that, offer to teach them. The hunk made it all the way through school--and graduated--without learning to read above 2nd grade level. I taught him to read when we married. I've taught co-workers to read. And friends. And neighbors. Not knowing how to read isn't shameful, but knowing someone is struggling and not offering to help, is. One way to help while preserving the feelings of someone is to barter teaching skills. That non-reader might be a whiz woodworker. Learn from each other.
Everyone has a skill. Instead of hanging out on the Internet or vegging out in front of the TV, get out there and find someone to share your skill with. Somewhere, someone needs exactly what you know.
Saturday, March 24, 2018
Thousands of children die every year, every month, every day in horrible, horrible ways. They might die by gunshots. Or car accidents. They might be abused, raped, and tortured--and then die. Some are starved to death or locked in dark closets. One child I read about froze to death. Another was drugged. Some die from bombs or other forms of terrorism. For every child who dies, a dream is unfulfilled.
Friday, March 23, 2018
Pain and Agony
"It's probably arthritis." Arthritis gets blamed for a lot of pain, maybe unfairly. Maybe...it's overusing a joint. Or repetitive motion. Could just be sleeping in the wrong position. And it might literally be something you ate.
"It's just a low grade fever." Yeah? So what's causing this low grade fever? Is you body fighting something you're not paying attention to?
"I have back issues." Number one reason for back issues is? Sitting, sitting, sitting. If you don't have 'em now, you will if you continue to sit. Move around. Set a timer to remind you.
However, few people complain about pain because they don't remember what it's like to live without it. You can actually become so inured to pain that you ignore it in the general business of living--until you're incapacitated. Then it becomes a life changing issue.
I think we're wrong to ignore it. We do ourselves a disservice, possibly preventing an issue from being treated in a timely manner, because, well--it's just a little pain. Women, in particular have been taught their entire lives to just deal with it. Horrible menstrual pain? Deal with it. Vague chest or back pain? Deal with it.
Well, damn it! No. Don't deal with it. Do something about it. See a doctor, and if he/she waves it off, see another until you find one who takes you seriously. Because the doctor isn't living with your pain. You are. Male, female, old, young, if you have chronic pain, speak up. Fix it.
Fix it before you have to live with pain and agony.
Thursday, March 22, 2018
Everything Lovers Can Know tells the story of how Jade and Baron (Merlyn) Llewellyn met and fell in love. After the End of the story, Jade and Baron end up trapped in Mystic Valley. Everything Lovers Can Know is available in e-book at Amazon.
The actual stories set in the valley begin with Dancer's Delight, the story of Dancer Devereaux's desperate flight from his enemies only to stumble into the strange, wonderful, weird world of Mystic Valley where the men are manly enough to wear kilt-like garments they call shardas and the women are both beautiful and wise. And the wisest, loveliest of them all, is Eppie, Dancer's mate and the daughter of Jade and Merlyn. Dancer's Delight is available in e-book at Amazon.
In Traveller's Refuge, Dancer's brother Traveller follows the clues left behind by his Dancer. In his case, he opts to bring along his friend, Bishop. Things don't go well for them. Trav is injured in an explosion that traps them in a cave. By the time they enter Mystic Valley, Bishop is anxious to locate someone, anyone who can help his friend Trav. While he recovers, Trav has plenty of time to fall in love with Eppie's sister, Wrenna, a sprite red-haired beauty that gives Trav a run for his money. Traveller's Refuge will be released July 1st.
In Love Never-Ending, Bishop finally gets his love story. Bishop is not happy to be stuck in the valley. He had a life outside the valley where he was perfectly happy. Not even the attractive Samara is enough to make him happy until he nearly loses her. Only then does he realize exactly what a prize he has.
Blue Paradise tells the story of Pouseé, a young woman who is part of an invasion force. She quickly discovers she is on the 'wrong' side of the invasion when Jonson and Mali capture and claim her for their mate. But Pouseé is no pushover as her mates soon find out.
Tracer's Lullaby, currently a work in progress, is the story of Tracer and his lover, Robyn, and Tracer's struggle to accept his destiny despite terrible tragedies and obstacles.
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
For instance, right now we have a quality of light I call snowlight. It's snowing briskly out there, but you can tell the clouds are thinning so there's more light. It's luminescent and bright because of the snow. Lovely. But it's not the kind of thing we remember in six months when we're writing a snow scene.
No, we're more likely to remember that cold, bluish light that comes when we first wake up to a blowing blizzardly snow. Clouds are heavier and it's darker. That's the snow most of us remember when we think about snow.
In my time, I've observed a LOT of snow. Deep snow. Slushy snow. Up-to-my-waist, I'll-never-get-this-driveway-clear-snow. I've even survived the my-roof-might-cave-in-snow. My favorite...is snowlight.
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Rule #2: See rule number one.
I've never understood the irresistible urge folks have to do anything in rule #1. About ninety percent of the phishing issues can simply be avoided by embracing rule #1.
Think about it.
Rule #3: No one is going to give you money over the internet or phone.
Monday, March 19, 2018
I still have those books. My children and my grandchildren have read them. And yes, I still read them, too.
Over time, I've collected books of my own. Favorite authors, classics, research books, and how-to books. A friend once came to visit me with an acquaintance I had never met. He stood in my living room, gawking at the 6K+ books stashed in multiple bookcases. My friend told him I probably had a book on almost any subject he could think of. He blurted out, "Ancient weapons." And then just stared when I pulled not one, but two books on ancient weapons from the shelf.
Other folks worry about furniture or pictures for their walls. I have bookcases. Not enough, of course, so I double book them. I'm never for a loss when I want to read, because a) I have a lot of books, and b) I re-read them. I don't keep a book unless it's a keeper, a book I know I'll want to re-read.
I'm insatiably curious about all sorts of stuff. I could travel to the library and hope they had an appropriate book, but then I'd have to worry about returning it. And I like to take my time perusing books on new subjects. The solution is buy my own. Some come from second hand shops. Some I find online. And some I purchase new from bookstores. My last two books were a) a book on chair yoga, and b) a book on the Aztecs and Mayas. I'm still working my way through them.
So when others are watching movies or television, I'm likely reading. Traveling? Definitely reading. Sick? Reading. In the waiting room at the clinic? Reading.
Reading. It's the comfort for the modern man or woman.
Sunday, March 18, 2018
The Excellent Book
The thing about reverted book rights is this: every author starts over. Whether you find a new publisher or if you republish on your own, it's as though you've never been published at all--at least it is on the various sites that sell your books. Every review you ever had goes away because you have a new cover, new edition, new publisher, so it follows it must be a new book.
When I was in limbo (between the Published Author stage and the Indie Author stage), I couldn't understand the almost desperate tone of established authors pleading for reviews. Ah, the agony. Now I understand. I had several lovely reviews for my 'old' books but they are no more.
Professional reviewers aren't inclined to review older books--and rightly so. They have more books than they can possibly handle, with a new wave every week. So the review conundrum is just another puzzle the Published Author-to-Indie Author faces.
It might have been an excellent book at one time...but how will a new reader know that?
Saturday, March 17, 2018
I never did. I've tried it. Back in the days when I was an office professional, everyone else in my office had calendars on their desks. They wrote things down. Really. Me...I sort of winged it. In January, when we received our new calendars, I went through and entered everyone's birthdate. Annnnd, that was it.
I knew when all the other stuff was happening because, well, I knew. In my head. I just never figured out how to manage dates. One of my coworkers knew every date for every surgery/hospitalization/doctor's appt. of everyone--even mine. I have no idea unless there's something else I can attach it to, like one of my children's birthdays.
And then something happened to my inner date keeper. It died. Between meds and health issues, there are times I have trouble keeping track of hours, let alone days. So now I'm working on establishing a calendar.
Back when I was a new writer, I wrote a book, sent it off to my editor, and if the publisher wanted it, then my editor took care of the schedule. It was great. I wrote. Editors and publishers managed all that other stuff.
Now, I'm republishing my own stuff and I have all these schedules and responsibilities to track. Cover? Check. Edit/Revision? Check. Front matter/back matter/etc.? Check. Release date? Check. PR? Not so much a check...
It wasn't too bad for one or two books, but I have twenty. And a new calendar. It isn't much to look at, but I have releases listed through July 1st. I suppose that's something. As long as I don't misplace it. In the meantime, I feel like I've accomplished something on the order of climbing Mt. Everest, because I really, really don't do calendars.
We'll see how this goes.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Behind the Covers
First! Where are all the 30-50 year old men? Are there no lightly seasoned fellows out there? My characters are two well-seasoned vampires. One was a Roman senator. The other was a Viking warrior. They have seasoning. Think the gents from The Highlander television show. They don't look old, but they've definitely lived a bit.
Second...there are hundreds of different types of swords besides the standard curved Japanese fighting sword (or Katana). My guys used straight swords. Viking and Roman, right? Straight and heavy.
Third--Every sword fighter fell into like three categories. Costumed (most of them), Samurai (see Katana discussion above), or fantasy (lightning, fog, balls of light) with the addition of heavy hooded cloaks. No contemporary guys. See, I was thinking more along the line of some guy dressed in a long leather duster...with his sword...
Four. Well, words fail me when it comes to the women. What's wrong with giving them some clothes??? And just tell me, what woman in her right mind would have a sword fight in a bikini and high heels? Or, the aforementioned hooded cloak. With her hair blowing in her face so she can't see what the heck she's bashing. Really? Did I mention my chick is Greek, not Asian, and the only women dressed in a remotely sensible fashion were all Asian...with their Katakana?
Then I thought, well why not check out the vampires? Nope. See, my thought is...why wouldn't you run like hell in the other direction if the guy looked as skeezy as most of the vamps on offer? Wouldn't he need to be attractive if he was hunting? Otherwise, why wouldn't you be checking out someone else...like a werewolf?
And this is why most of my covers have no people on them.
Monday, March 12, 2018
I wondered again why I bother. And then I recalled the interesting post Linda Howard did on surviving a blizzard. And the post on Missouri's marriage age laws (there are none). And the Smithsonian article on Harriet Tubman on the $20. So...there are occasional nuggets in the flotsam. I don't remember if it was always this way. Or is this something that's taken on a life of its own in the last couple years?
I jettisoned Twitter long ago. Yahoo. So many others. Why do I hang in here?
Mostly, it gives me a place to stay in touch with friends and family. And yes, there are certain people whose opinions interest me, so I seek them out and read their words. The rest of it, I hide. I figure if Facebook can hide my posts, I can hide theirs.
More and more, I am convinced they are only showing posts in a targeted fashion. At first, I just ignored all the craziness, but you know? I'm done with that. There's a function that allows us to hide posts, so why not use it? When you see the same three stupid posts for days, it's time to move on.
Of course, it might be other people out there find MY posts annoying. So be it. Fair is fair.
May the best poster win.
Sunday, March 11, 2018
This happens with disconcerting frequency since I had a mini-stroke back in the day. It's annoying. And ups the difficulty quotient when writing. Sometimes it happens when I'm talking to someone, but in that case you just say, "I forgot the word for that." And move on with the conversation. After all, it's not nearly as frustrating as forgetting how to tie your shoes. But writing...well, forgetting a word can stop you in your tracks. Sometimes I just put a notation in the sentence to check it out later. Other times, it's too much and I save the document and go take a shower or some other distraction.
Since I've been typing this blog, the dragon word came to me--scales. Dragons are covered in scales. Quick, return to the document and type it in while it's still there!
Sometimes I think of the word and then spend two or three days still convinced it isn't the word I really wanted. Occasionally, I'm right about that and when I return to the book via edits, the correct word pops into my brain and I change it then. Or I'll search through my synonym finder until I find a similar word and then when I edit, I'll think of the word I want.
I'm a little OCD about having the right word. It makes writing frustrating. Some folks wonder why writing takes so long. Well, here's the answer. Disappearing words. They just fade into the big black hole in my brain and sometimes they reappear and other times they're gone forever.
I have a solution. I find a good book and kick back and read. When my mind is engaged elsewhere, the words sometimes sneak out of the black hole on tippy-toes. That's when I grab a sticky and jot the word down quickly before it disappears.
I bet you thought the biggest problem for a writer was finding the time to write. Nope. It's lassoing the words before they get away!
Friday, March 9, 2018
I thought about my options. One was to just toss a short story at the end of a book as a little lagniappe. But I find myself feeling cheated when an author does that, particularly when they don't mention it in the book description. Invariably, the book is far shorter than I anticipated because the author planned to add on the short story.
My second option was to use related short stories as an add-on with a series story. But then...what about the stories that don't have any related worlds? What to do with them?
Finally, I decided to just publish them in sets of two. I call them desserts because they're not long enough for a full meal. And really, isn't dessert the best part?
All of them will have the same cover. Most of them have been extensively revised and expanded to offer my readers a delicious experience. And they'll all be 99 cents.
So...keep an eye out for Romance Desserts: One. It will be coming out in May--something luscious to enjoy with the spring flowers and warm sunny days!
Monday, March 5, 2018
Read That Part Again
How do you recommend a book you love?
Thursday, March 1, 2018
One reader wrote to ask if I had a 'plan' for book order release. Well...no. I did, but then I discovered some books were going to require more work than others so my current plan is to alternate a series release with a standalone release. And we'll work it out from there. I have a couple new releases close to readiness. I'll insert them when I can. In the meantime, I appreciate the readers who are purchasing the reissued books. Thank you so much for your support. And thanks to my fellow authors who are sharing my release information!
It might seem reissuing a book would be a simple thing, but as an author, I can tell you it's not what it seems. Inevitably, when you re-read your book, you note errors and changes you need or want to make. Now, I'm not talking about huge revisions to the story. But, I am talking about things like the word 'that'. Heh. In some books, it's obviously my favorite word. The last book I edited, my favorite phrase was 'at the moment'. And there were a LOT of 'moments'. And 'so'. Yeah. So, so, so...
I do have a series I'm working on for time-line issues. Lots of time-line issues. The books have already been published--and read by many readers--so why worry about it? Well, I have more books planned for that series. And the time-line issues will certainly impact those new stories. The solution? Fix 'em now. Most readers wouldn't notice them until they reach those new books, but then...yeah, maybe they would. Maybe they'd notice the odds and ends I picked up--especially if they're like me and they read a series in one sitting, so to speak. You tend to notice stuff more when you do that.
Anyway, that's the plan! As I have a better idea of my schedule, I'll try to let you know! In the meantime--back to the plot!
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