Complaints

I know. I know. I was doing so well for a couple of months there blogging every couple of days. But real life is simply taking over and any semblence of a schedule I used to have has gone out the window.

Family came last week and we spent two days pushing through a ton of packing. The next day I was sick. (We think it was food related since 3 of the 4 of us came down with something hours apart). Anyway, the packing continues this week with Little Boy Blue home from college. And any time I have online seems to be spent looking at houses to buy. My head is spinning. UGH!!

The next month or so doesn’t look to be slowing down. I definitely have to be really buckling down and squeeze in writing around all the stuff going on in my life. I don’t think I have room to complain, there are so many authors who work fulltime and have children and they crank out the stories. And though this business isn’t about comparisons, each of us on our own journey, sometimes it’s hard. I know authors who seem to finish and contract books about every three weeks to a month. I don’t know how they do it. And I’ll admit to being just a little bit envious of the way the stories just seem to tumble from their fingers. (Pleeeeease don’t misunderstand … I am under no illusions that writing isn’t also difficult for them … just that some authors seem to be able to push through the hard times. Anyway …)

But the point is, it just doesn’t matter. No matter what or how others move through their writing career, my muse and I aren’t them. I have to be happy with me. Okay, so I’ll keep working on that.

In the meantime, I’m going to treat my life like the month before college finals when you know every paper and project that’s been assigned for the better part of 8 weeks is coming due. I survived that time in my life by putting one foot in front of the other and marking things off my long to-do list. I’m going into that same survival mode. LOL! Just hang tight as I make this big change in my life.

And if you have any suggestions as to ways I can take care of myself and still get things done, I’d love to hear them!

I don’t do this very often, but I’m feeling a rant coming on. A good old fashioned stomp-my-feet-hold-my-breath-shake-my-fists kind of rant. And I’ll tell you now, it has nothing to do with writing or publishing. It’s about colleges and their overinflated, insanely expensive tuition bills. Seriously, I just need to spew. Feel free to run now, ‘cuz it’s only gonna get ugly from here on out.

I really don’t know how kids are supposed to get a college education these days without selling their souls. Or their parents going to the poorhouse. IT’S CRAZY!! And frustrating!

Okay, I know I should have been putting money into college funds for my children, but I was a little more concerned about feeding and clothing them. Ya know, actually paying my bills as I went along. It’s not like we didn’t have anything, but I sure as heck wasn’t the first to buy the newest gaming station or crazy toy. And can you say used cars? Thank goodness we live in a state where duct tape is considered an acceptable automobile accessory. Seriously. It’s not like we went without, but I never had a surplus. Ever. I became very good at financial juggling.

And now my third child is in college and things are getting crazy. Between the tanking economy and enough stupid people in my generation who didn’t pay back their student loans (oh, you know who you are) there’s nothing left in the pot for interest deferred loans for my children and their friends. It’s an INSANE system where everyone looses except the financial institutions.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect professors to teach for free or college administrators to work for pittance (like the rest of us), but I’m just not sure why 15,000 kids need to pay $112 for a recreation fee and $45 dollars for an activity fee when probably no more than a third of them take advantage of the facilities “supported” by those funds. And please don’t even get me started on the $917 unified fee … whatever the heck that is!

And this is the bill from a state college where my child pays to live … because his field of study isn’t available at the campus within driving distance. It’s not like I’m asking for the moon here. Just a reasonably priced education for my child.

A lot of the problem is our income. We don’t make enough to pay the bill outright, but we make too much for my children to get financial aid. It hardly seems fair. And now you can’t even have your child be independent from you. (We tried that and STILL they wanted us to pay for her school.)

I love my children with all my heart. I want them to go on to college so they can get good jobs and support themselves. But this system is starting kids on the road to a debt load that will take them years to recover from. I don’t know what the answer is. I just know that this whole thing is discouraging. For me and my kids. I don’t know how other people do it.

All I can say is whoever thought money couldn’t buy you happiness never had three kids in college.

I love reading. I know that’s like having an space physicist tell you he likes staring at the stars. Sort of … DUR. How could a writer write without being a voracious reader? But I’m seriously digressing.

I have loved reading series. I think VC AndrewsFlowers in the attic was the first series I read from start to finish. I fell in love with the children. Ached for a forbidden love between siblings that was so real and wrong and debilitating. I couldn’t get enough of these dark series to discover what life would throw at them.

About a decade ago I found Anne McCaffrey. I LOVE science fiction stories and new worlds. So it was no surprise when I stumbled into her Freedom series and read all four books in a weekend. Her world building skills are amazing and I just had to find out how these human and aliens thrust on to a new world not only survived, but thrived and fell in love. *sigh* Great series if you enjoy a little romance with your science fiction. That sit front and center on my keeper shelf.

Now I’m on the other side of the fence. I’m looking at my own stories. It’s really hard for me to spend so much time with my characters and to walk away. I find I leave the stories open ended enough to allow for another adventure. Sometimes with the same characters and sometimes with secondary characters that want their own story told. I enjoy writing series. It just seems natural to me. Which works out well in this market as it appears that’s what publishers are looking for. It’s hard to send in a submission to an agent or editor without knowing what the next book will be or where you’re going to take the story line.

It is rare to pick up a book these days without finding out it’s part of a series. I didn’t think I minded it until I realized that the last four books I purchased were part of a series. This isn’t bad. I really love the authors. But here’s the quandry, I’m finding that I’m not enjoying the second books in the series as much as the first. Boo. I’m not happy about it. Pleeeeease let me reassure you … it’s neither the author nor the story … it’s ME! I know it. I feel like I’m not allowing myself to fall into these stories. What’s wrong with me? I loved the series enough to take a chance on the next book.

Where is the disconnect? Maybe I’m reading too many books in the same genre. I don’t know. Of course I had to throw it out there and ask how you feel with this new trend of everything going to series? Are you happy to jump into the next book and find out what the characters have been up to since you’ve been away? I’m beginning to wonder if I’m in the minority here.

This week is Banned Book Week. There are books, many we consider classics, that have been banned or challenged because their content isn’t appropriate for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s due to the wording including profanity. Other reasons state that the content isn’t appropriate for young minds. The American Library Association has a list of the 100 banned books so I won’t go through them all.

But I it doesn’t surprise me that many people are surprised by the books on the list. Huck Finn, Of Mice and Men, A Wrinkle in Time, and Harry Potter are included on this list. When I was in high school the school board put through a list of banned books that weren’t to be included in the English curriculum. Of course I went right out and read Catcher in the Rye and Go Ask Alice, which was Mr. Gardiner’s intention when he shared the list with us.

How do people think they have the right to tell people what they can and can’t read? It’s beyond me.

I couldn’t believe the timing of “Bannded Books” week. This post totally fits with a little rant I had coming on anyway. You see this weekend I ran into someone who read my print book HEALER’S GARDEN because they knew me. The conversation went something like this ..

“I read your book and the writing was amazing.”
“Thank you.”
“I loved the story.”
“It’s one of my favorites as well.”
“But there is waaaaay to much sex in it.”
“That’s why they call it erotic romance. Emphasis on erotic.”
“Yes, but the descriptions…and the words…and the body parts were just unnecessary.”
“Again…that’s because it’s erotic romance. Readers want the frank language.”
“That’s not true. No one wants to read those types of books.”

And there you have it. If this person had their way ALL publishers of erotic romance would be shut down and the books banned from book stores and even ebook sites. No amount of education about the industry helped this person understand that readers (thank you one and all) not only enjoy these types of stories, but wait impatiently for the next story in a series from their favorite author. This of course cycles back to this post. I write what I write and read what I read with no apologies. It may not be for everyone, but no one has the right to decide what someone else can read.

So I’m wondering, as an author have you run across this? And I suspect there are readers out there who have had to defend their trashy novels to someone. I’d love to hear your stories.

I’m not sure if I got into publishing at the right time or a really difficult time.

On the one hand there are more publishers out there looking for stories to publish. On the other hand there are more publishers out there looking for stories to publish. This means that an author has so many choices of where to send their baby. But it also means with the ease of setting up a digital publisher that there are some who are here then gone. Scary. There are nightmare stories of authors not receiving royalties, times when publishers simply shut their doors holding the rights to books and now another slap to authors–publishers cancelling series books because they didn’t sell enough.

What?

Yep, it’s happened more than once. An author (and agent) who believed the publisher would publish a set number of books in a series.The author writes the stories, spending months and creative energy working to meet a deadline, only to find out the second and sometimes the first book didn’t quite meet the publisher’s expectations. It has nothing to do with the quality of writing. Often times these books have received glowing reviews from both review sites and readers. It has everything to do with money.

The sad thing about this is that authors used to be able to focus on their writing. Agents and publishers took on the role of marketers. That’s not the case anymore. Authors are now the ones going out pounding the pavement shouting to anyone who will listen that they have a book out there. That means talking to potential readers on twitter, facebook and goodreads. It means blog tours and Yahoo loop chats to share excerpts. It means buying ads at review sites and newsletters. Many publishers suggest authors make themselves available for teaching or panels at conventions. Of course with the print books there is also the booksigning which can both be fun and mortifying at the same time.

With so much going on some authors have turned their marketing over to promotion companies. I have my own opinions as to the effectiveness of this, suffice it to say, I didn’t hire one. Not that I’m poo-pooing this as an alternative to an author spending all his/her time marketing and not focusing on writing. It’s just that I have only so much marketing money in my budget and I choose to spend it on marketing items I can give away at conventions.

Does any of this work? Obviously not as well as we’d like. With so many books out there I think readers are spreading it over more publishers and more authors. This means indivduals are making less money and this could translate over many authors to losses up the line to the publisher. It’s quite a high wire act, trying to balance everything expected of an author.

*sigh* Still not sure if I’ve hit the market at a good time or not.

I recently attended by @#th high school reunion. (I’m not sure why I left out the number … you can see the gray hair!) To say it was fun was an understatement. We had a blast! And I know this is going to surprise you, but I talked sooooo much I didn’t even finish one glass of wine throughout the course of the evening. And someone mention hors d’oevres, but I didn’t get any of those either.

Anyway, I’m at the point in life where my classmates and I are no longer trying to impress. We’ve done that. Have the t-shirt to prove it. Now, it’s just … “This is who I am … take it or leave it”. It was wonderful. Unfortunately, we’ve already lost 4 classmates and some of my classmates have lost spouses. But we shared about children and grandchildren (GAH!) and parents who’ve gone to heaven. Truly, a wonderful experience.

Some of my classmates had heard about my new career and of course I had bookmarks to pass out whenever anyone asked. (Yep, and even if they didn’t. LOL!) And of course they asked if they could find my books at their local Borders. One woman told me she was going to pick my books up at the library … yeeeeeah, no, you’re not. When I explained to them that they were electronic and you had to read them on a Kindle, Nook or other e-reader every single person, without exception looked at me like I’d grown two heads.

Now, granted I live in Maine where we are just now come into the new millenium and most people having running water and electricity … I’m kidding! I’m kidding! Actually, Portland, Maine is supposed to be one of the top places for twenty-somethings to settle. Which is why I was floored when none of these people had heard about e-readers.

Now I know I’m surrounded by all things publishing. I’ll admit this new career of mine had a pretty steep learning curve. But I think I would have known what a Kindle was even if I wasn’t an author. I mean come on, I watch Oprah. (Okay, so I watch the entertainment shows that do the cliff notes … but you get my point.) I thought these little devices were out and about EVERYWHERE!

I know I’m preaching to the choir here. If you visit my blog you know about my books and the fact that they’re electronic. (The new wave … according to Amazon, Kindle books out sold hard cover books by a significant margin for the first time this year thanks to the Kindle.) But I wonder how many other people out there aren’t aware of this digital phenomenon. I mean surely colleges must be talking about having texts available in electronic format. Our children’s generation are the most tech savvy on the planet. How can someone not know about e-readers? Libraries even have several devices available for patrons to check out and try before investing in one. (At least ours does.)

But maybe I’m being naive. I’m sure there’s something out there that’s new in a field I’m not familiar with that LOTS of people know about and I’ve never heard of. This would be the same thing wouldn’t it? I’m still scratching my head over this one. I really don’t know if it just happened to be those 50 people or if you’re running into people who aren’t familiar with digital books.

Now, I don’t own an e-reader, yet. But with prices plummeting and becoming more affordable I have no doubt I’ll have one in my hot little hands before the end of the year. What about you? Have you bumped into many people who either 1) refuse to read ebooks or 2) have never even heard of them? Inquiring minds want to know.

I love this virtual world. I love that even though I’m disabled I visit friends every day. I keep readers informed of the newest stuff going on in my world through my website and my blog. And the coolest part of that … I have visitors from all around the world. And since my books are available in electronic format, I have readers all around the world.

Then I found MySpace and I could leave and receive cute comments on others’ pages. And that was fun. Until I found Twitter. Then I could interact real time with all kinds of people streaming information into the cybersphere. And of course Facebook replaced MySpace in my world and I was plugged into the publishing world.

But there’s this really awful dark underbelly to be “hooked in” all the time. Relationships aren’t allowed to grow with separation … because there is none. Students head off to college but never fully integrate because their phones and computers keep them hooked up to boyfriends or girlfriends still living in their hometown. There’s never a down time because the texting and phone calls go until all hours of the night. And don’t even get me started on the drunk texting and/or sexting. When I was in college we had the hall pay phone (I know, I’m old) and if anyone tried to use it at 1 am there would have been mutiny.

Add to all that the cyber bullying this generation seems to heap upon each other. Now don’t get me wrong, I know bullying has always been around, but at least everyone went home and there was a break from it. But with all the texting and facebooking that happens these kids find themselves not only picked on behind the bleachers or the dark corners of the girl’s bathroom, but right out where anyone, including me, can dial into the humiliation.

And YouTube with its ease of video uploading, is now being innundated with kids fist fighting. What the heck? It makes me ill that these kids (many of them girls) are proud of the videos.

Schools are buckling down on the bullying and coming down hard on offenders. They should. It’s awful. Students are being pulled from all computer use at school for the whole year and in the case of some offenses, are suspended from school.   

I know new technology is always exploited. I know there is always a shiny side of the coin and a tarnished, dented side of the coin. But in this case it just seems like things have gotten out of hand exponentially. It makes me so sad. I don’t know what the answer is, but I know we’ve got to rally against it.

I feel fortunate that I was able to keep my kids from the internet until they were well into their teen years. And now they’re young adults and dealing with some of it, but at least their mature enough to make responsible decisions. (I hope.) I don’t know what the answer is to all of this. The Pollyanna in me just wants to keep all kids in a safe little happy bubble, but I know that can’t happen. I just wish there was something I could do for this new generation of computer users who technically know so much more than I, but don’t seem to have the heart to play nice.

Sorry I haven’t been around … just when I’d managed to be blogging again on a fairly regular basis. But I do have a good reason this time … REALLY!

Ten days ago I managed to trip on my own mess on the floor, fell backwards and snapped the radius bone of my right arm. For the last week I’ve been learning to do everything one-handed … and the left one at that! I’ve been avoiding the blog because I’m typing with one hand. Slow and steady. Well more like just slow 😉

I did manage to finish edits for “A Touch of Lilly“, my futuristic erotica coming soon from EC. Even one handed I was only a day late getting them back to my editor. Now I have to figure ouy how to get some new writing done with one hand.

It looks like they’re not going to put a cast on it, so perhaps the inconvenience will only be for a short time.

On a happier note, Little Boy Blue returned from college and got the new computer up and running. I’ve nearly transferred everything over from the old computer. There’s going to be quite a learning curve what with the new email and Word programs, both of which I use all the time. But I can do it … right? 

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been. And just to brighten my day, I’m leaving you with one of my favorite guys …

I may be a self-proclaimed techno-idiot, but I did manage to make it through college. And I do spend my days working on my computer. But the truth is, I’m not a gadget kind of gal. I have no desire to have phones that play music and games or find the newest fusion restaurant. I’ve just recently learned how to text. Seriously. It’s just not something that appeals to me. But I’m being forced into the 21st century and I’m less than pleased with this development.

It’s my computer. *sigh*

I’ve had this desktop for nearly 10 years. That means I’ve watched operating systems come and go and I’ve been pretty smug that mine has never crashed (and I’ve had no desire to get the biggest, fastest or newest). I know exactly where the buttons are to do any operation on my computer. My hard drive could be compared to a doctor’s office … various rooms filled with file cabinets overflowing with files filled with documents.

But … the little men in my computer are totally overwhelmed. When I ask them to retrieve something for me, they roll their eyes, give me that “are you serious?” look, shrug their shoulders and run into the bowels of my file rooms to retrieve whatever it is I’ve asked for. What this means is it can take a reeeeeeaally long time to pull up a picture or a document. And if I ask them to do two things at once … well they have an apoplectic fit, create a committee to discuss it, make decisions on how they’re going to split the duties THEN they head and out actually perform the multiple tasks.

So I knew it was time to replace my old friend. I’ve been talking about it for over six months. Mr. Nina finally got so sick of me complaining about the speed of my computer that he took me by the hand, drove me the three hours to the big city and pushed me kicking and screaming into Best Buy and made me tell the nice salesperson, Ryan, what I do for work and what I wanted my computer to do for me.

Mr. Nina didn’t talk much, except when it came to bytes and ram and caches. That’s where I get lost. Not because I don’t understand, but mostly because I don’t give a s**t. I mean the truth is, I don’t understand the difference between tera, mega, giga-thinga-ma-bobbers. And it’s only because I’m a visual person. I understand centimeters and how that relates to kilometers, but I can see them. Memory isn’t something you can “see”. (Watch my blog for the next installment of this computer discussion at the end of the week.) Anyway, I digress.

After we’d gotten it down to two or three models, the two of them decided which computer was the best bang for the buck. About three hours later, after they’d added my email program and the office suite … because Microsoft is looking to squeeze out all your pennies by not including the things everyone uses … we walked out of the store. And if Little Boy Blue hadn’t been home this weekend it would still be in the box two days later. As it is, it’s temporarily set up on the coffee table in my office. The thought of trying to transfer 10 years worth of stuff onto the new computer is just too overwhelming.

Not to mention I have some programs that are throw backs from the early 90’s that won’t transfer over. And these are programs that I love. My bookkeeping program that holds both personal and business expenses and income, a photo program and a card making program that I use for my promotional material and now, the new Windows 7 doesn’t have the movie maker program I use to make book trailers.

Yeeeeah, I so don’t want to do this. I know. I know. Give me this week, I’m working myself into it very slowly.

I don’t get it. Seriously, I never understood why anyone would want to hold on to negativity.

You know what I mean. We see it nearly every day. Whether it’s in your office, a chat online or more recently comments on a YouTube video.  I don’t get it.

Now please don’t get me wrong. Sometimes life just sucks and you have to vent. No problem. Go for it. Holding on to that isn’t good for you either. Spew. Get it out and get over it. Everyone has the right to have a bad day now and again.

What I’m talking about is the people who are just plain negative. It hangs over them like a nasty black cloud. They have nothing nice to say. Of course, most Negative Nellies have no idea they’re doing it. It’s just a part of who they are. And I gotta tell you … I don’t have the energy to deal with them.

I think some of this new fad of saying nasty things has to do with the anonymity of the internet. People don’t have to face up to their criticism. Recently, a lovely young woman did an informational video for YouTube. One person wrote a nasty comment and then there was another and another. WTH? Why? To what end? Fortunately, the young woman had enough confidence to know it wasn’t about her or the video, it was about the small mindedness of some crotchety people looking for a thrill. Still others seem to get the thrill of slamming a book in a review on Amazon or a publisher site. Not because they didn’t really enjoy the book, but because they can.

Frankly, I don’t have time for it. There is rarely a day that goes by that some blog isn’t posting the negative aspects of some argument. (Again, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for exposing wrong or showing the other side of the coin, that’s not what I’m talking about.) I have enough stuff going on in my life without worrying what my neighbor or another author is doing. It just doesn’t matter.

I just want to sit at my computer and create the coolest characters in the best setting doing some sexy stuff while they’re in danger. I refuse to get rolled into the dense fog of negativity … it’s just not productive.

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