Saturday, August 27, 2016

If You Like "The Blacklist"

...you might like my 1990 novel, The Unicorn's Daughter, originally published by Berkley Books as A Time for Legends, reissued last year by Creativia. The ebook is only $.99 now through August 31st!

The Unicorns Daughter eCover

From Publishers Weekly
Beishir ( Angels at Midnight ) pens a winner with this gripping thriller. Jaime Lynde's father has been missing for 19 years, and when she learns of his covert career in the OSS and the CIA, she becomes convinced that he is alive and his whereabouts concealed for sinister reasons. The plot elements are familiar: obfuscating CIA operatives; an agent who vanishes into deep cover; an elaborate official cover story; and people who begin to die under mysterious circumstances. But Beishir's galloping pace revitalizes these standbys, and she confidently builds to a revelatory and spellbinding finale. And in the midst of all the intrigue, a romance develops for Jaime--but the sex is more slow burn than Beishir's trademark high sizzle, as if Beishir herself was too involved in the moves and countermoves of espionage to concentrate on bedroom dramas.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Of Trolls, Bores and Other Internet Nuisances

If you're reading this blog, more likely than not, you're also active on social media. If you are, nothing I'm going to write about here will surprise you at all. If you're not, you'll be grateful you're not.

Most of you also follow my partner in crime, William Kendall--and know that he's been suspended from Facebook, well, a few times. Somewhere along the line in the almost seven years we've known each other, we went through a personality reversal of sorts. I used to be the one with the temper, who would attack if someone looked at me the wrong way. These days, he's always getting in trouble for sounding off and I've never been suspended. I'd like to think that in my case, it's a matter of wisdom coming with age, but if I'm to be honest here, I'm just too old and tired to waste precious time on idiots.


 
I have two personal rules for social media: if I disagree with someone, I don't get offensive or insulting. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, whether they agree with me or not. And I never debate anyone on their personal pages. That would be like insulting someone in their own home. Disagreements are for groups or product pages. I refuse to lower myself to troll level.

I have two Facebook pages--my author page, open to everyone. What good is an author page if no one can see it? The other is my personal page, only open to friends. Some of those friends are local friends, others people I've known in my twenty-plus years as a published author. Some of them I've only known online, but are as close to me as the friends I've known most of my life. It didn't start that way. When I first set up my personal page, I was, like just about everyone else, eager to accumulate as many "friends" as possible.

Big mistake.

I'm open to friends interacting on my pages, but at times, responses have gone from silly to insulting. Example of silly: Collin and I are big fans of the Minions. We're always sharing Minion images and links with each other on Facebook. My Facebook page header is a Minion banner Collin created for me. One friend made a point of letting me know she doesn't like the Minions. I've never been quite sure why she felt she had to tell me. I wasn't offended. It doesn't bother me if she doesn't like them; that's her choice. 

Go figure.

As for the other end of the social media extreme, I used to frequent the IMDb message boards. That's where William and I met--in a group dedicated to the movie Angels & Demons. I remember once, encountering a particularly nasty troll in a discussion of a young actress who'd recently passed away. The troll had gone to the trouble to check me out--Facebook, Twitter, the whole bag--and made some very insulting remarks, ending with the statement that I probably didn't care what he/she thought. My response was something like this:

"You're right about one thing--I really don't care what you think. But since we're sizing each other up here, this is my take on you: no friends, no job or a crappy job, living in parents' basement or garage, no prospects for the future. At least I have a life. What have you got?"

I only checked that thread once or twice after that. I'm not sure if the troll ever responded.



Getting back to the present. This election has brought out the worst in people, even some otherwise very nice people. Last Saturday, coming home from the monthly writers group meeting at the church, I told a friend about a story I'd seen on Facebook about Donald Trump delivering Play-Doh to the flood victims in Louisiana. When I got home, I shared the story on her Facebook page so she could see it for herself. There was soon a response from a mutual friend, who is clearly not a Trump supporter. It was the commenter who followed him that made me think an online brawl was a distinct possibility. Also a mutual friend, he had posted on his page early on that he refused to get mixed up in political issues at all, so I was surprised that he was not only commenting on this, but came off a little angry, accusing us of having an agenda. Words were exchanged between the two men, neither of whom I'd ever seen even raise their voices in person.

And then there's the incident on my own page that same weekend. Also political in subject matter. Collin and I are fond of taking some of the quizzes offered on Facebook. We took one that was supposed to tell us which candidate we're most like on viewpoints. We both got Hillary Clinton, though we'd been Bernie Sanders supporters. I commented, then a friend from the aforementioned writers group commented with a suggestion that it wasn't Hillary's positions that were the problem with her. I responded with the admission that I do agree with most of her positions on issues. That was followed by an insulting remark posted by one of my so-called Facebook "friends," a guy I've never actually met who was only on my friend list because he's a writer.

He'd been getting on my nerves for a while, always posting links in the comments section to stories I shared instead of just commenting. I never clicked on any of the links, choosing to ignore them. I haven't the time or interest in getting into lengthy debates, friendly or otherwise. I share stories, some I haven't actually read, simply because I see something that's funny or absurd or interesting. I'm not doing it to start an argument. I let it all pass until he insulted me. I'd had enough. I didn't respond to his comment. I just promptly unfriended him.

Got any social media horror stories to share?


Friday, August 19, 2016

Looking at Sanity in the Rearview Mirror

It's been a nutty week. Collin had a follow up appointment with the orthopedic surgeon, and was discharged (thankfully), barring any future issues with his arthritis. He finished physical therapy with flying colors. As for me, I'm embarrassed to admit that I flunked PT.

Now, Collin is preparing for a new job--one he can do at home while finishing his degree online and setting up an audiobook business. The new job is with a call center, but given everything he's had to do to get it, one would think he's being cleared for the CIA! The twenty-four hour deadline for the drug test is something I can understand. They want to be sure the applicants don't clear drugs from their bodies just long enough to get the job. I also get the background check. They're shipping their employees CPUs on the company's dime. That can't be cheap. But he also has to have someone who's not a blood relative examine documents like his ID, birth certificate, etc. and fill out a form, also to be returned to them within twenty-four hours. Really?

Our friend Carolyn is serving as the unrelated examiner. Collin's meeting her this morning so that can be taken care of--his birth certificate, like all of our important documents, is in our safe deposit box. I have to wait here at home because the new computer monitor is being delivered today--we have two all-in-one computers, but they, it seems, are incompatible with the company's CPUs. We also have to get a landline phone (we've been a strictly mobile phone household for over seven years).

Fun. Not.

But I do still have a few laughs to share this week. Anybody seen the latest Pokemon creation, Gumshoos? He does look strangely familiar....








And then there's Britain's new airship hybrid...whatever this thing is....

 
I'll close with a nod to Collin's former employer.... 


Have a good weekend, everyone!


 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Maybe Old Dogs CAN Learn New Tricks, After All (And I Don't Mean Sasha)!

I recently wrote a review for a wonderful book, Sasha: A Very Special Dog Tale of a Very Special Epi-Dog by Brian L. Porter. If you love animals, especially dogs, this is a don’t miss book! Sasha and I have something in common: we're both epileptic.

sasha


The author asked that I also add the review to the book’s page at Amazon UK. It had never occurred to me that I could do that. I’d never even checked the pages for my own books at Amazon’s foreign sites! I’m the dummy from traditional publishing who was used to having the publisher do everything for me. I still have a lot to learn. A lot.

Anyway, I have a request for those of you fellow authors who have given my books those great reviews (William, Eve, Mari, Shelly…you all know who you are….). It’s easy to post reviews at Amazon UK, Australia, France, and all of the others (I’ve lost count of how many countries have Amazon sites now). Just log in with your Amazon US login info and paste your reviews in there. And if you have books I’ve reviewed, I’ll be doing the same for you. It shouldn’t take too long….

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Good, The Bad and the Really, Really Ugly....

Today's my birthday and I'm spending the day goofing off with Collin--so today's post will be a re-posting of my latest post from my author blog....

I’m always amused when, upon hearing I’m an author, a new acquaintance responds with, “I might write a book myself.” As if it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. It’s not. Traditionally published authors have to put up with getting small percentages of royalties (if you even get that far), having to write at night while working at a full-time day job (I didn’t, but I lucked out–I had a really good agent), delivering a manuscript only to be told it will need extensive revisions and/or rewrites and holding your breath while you wait to see how good or bad the reviews and sale turn out to be. Self-published authors deal with a lot of criticism, not being taken seriously most of the time, and trying to write while also marketing their own work. No fun.

b3c3e-berkeley2bcollage

In short, your ego can take a major beatdown, no matter which way you go.

I much prefer the new breed of publisher, like Creativia, my current publisher. I have full control over what I write…though what I’m “writing” for them at the moment is reissues of my backlist books, which means reformatting text lifted from the pages of the published books. I’m too lazy and too slow on the keyboard to retype them, and don’t have backups of the originals that are compatible with current technology. I’ve had mixed feelings about even bothering to republish the old books. They were originally published back in the ’80s and ’90s, and trends were quite different then. The five books originally published by Berkley–Dance of the Gods, Angels at Midnight, A Time for Legends, Solitaire and Luck of the Draw–were written and published at a time when the big, glitzy romance novel was king. Now, that’s not so popular. My nine series romances are a big question mark. Is that genre still selling?

074db-silhouette2bcolage

I don’t expect to have a second run at the bestseller lists with any of them. I’m content to have them reissued and maybe make modest sales while putting my chips, so to speak, on the newer works. Chasing the Wind (2008) and Final Hours (2009) are not exactly new, but definitely more recent. The latter was a gamble; I knew that when I wrote it. A male protagonist who’s an adulterer isn’t a hero by any stretch. Chasing the Wind, however, is the basis for what I hope will be a series. Time will tell. These days, it takes me much longer to write a book than it used to. Sometimes, I think my mind wandered and got lost!

CTW 2014

The worst part, I think, is working on a book for months or years and, nearing completion, discovering you got it all wrong and having to start over. This is what happened with Sam’s Story. It was a difficult book to write, because while Sam has been gone for over five years now, it’s painful for me to even think about him without tearing up. He was with us for almost all of his twenty-one years.

The first draft was too short. The second, I discovered, was too much of a downer. I wanted the story to be fun and uplifting. So a few days ago, I started over. I took a different approach and it seems to be working. The story is coming easily, flowing smoothly. For how long, I wonder?

Sams Story

Recently, I saw the cover for a foreign edition of Luck of the Draw on the internet. I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t even know it had any foreign sales! I don’t remember signing a contract for it. I’ll have to check with my agent. I probably signed the contract and just forgot about it. That sort of thing happens more often than I care to admit. It wasn’t exactly my agent’s favorite of my books. If Berkley hadn’t given me a contract for an untitled, unknown fifth novel, I doubt my agent would ever have sent it to them. I’m surprised she sent it out to any foreign publishers. It’s more of an historical suspense novel than a glitzy romance.

I also discovered a review of Dance of the Gods that had been posted a few years ago. When a review starts with “I consider myself a connoiseur of bad romance novels…” you can be sure it’s not good news. But I wish I could find the link again. It was actually pretty funny. Like most established authors, I’ve learned to not take bad reviews personally. Nobody can please everyone all the time, and bad reviews are a fact of the author’s life. You deal with it and move on, if you want a career in this nutty business.

Some of us used to compare bad reviews to see who got the worst. And we cried all the way to the bank, as the saying goes.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Welcome to the 2016 Jackass Convention (What? That's a DONKEY?)




The DNC and the RNC each have something very important in common with the WWE. Really. The Democrats had a scripted outcome to make their previously selected nominee the official candidate, and the Republicans had a Royal Rumble with a cartoonish heel emerging as the winner. 

No wonder pro wrestling is so popular. 


Last night, the DNC convention ended with (big surprise--not!) Hillary Clinton as their candidate. She made a rousing acceptance speech and attempted to show her followers the "real" Hillary....


While Bernie Sanders' disappointed supporters made their feelings known....

 
Clinton's victory, as with just about everything else in her long political career, was tainted--this time by Wikileaks' revelation of hacked emails and voicemail that proved the DNC had conspired to undermine Sanders' bid for the nomination. What is it with Hillary Clinton and emails, anyway?

 
I'm looking forward to the Vice Presidential debate. Kaine vs. Pence. In WWE fashion, it could be a pay-per-view event. Call it The Battle of the Bland--let's see who can put an entire nation to sleep first!

Of course, the Enemy was never far from their minds.... 



Who'd have thought? Now we know what that awful comb-over is for....



Friday, July 22, 2016

And We Just Received the First Sign of the Apocalypse....

The End Times have begun! (Special thanks to Collin for the memes....)


 You have to have seen Guardians of the Galaxy
to get this one....

 The zombies are taking over!

 Can you tell which one is which?

Enough said!