Monday, March 28, 2011

Support Your Local Authors

Oh, come on...don't be so freakin' cheap!

A friend and fellow author recently posted a comment on the Writers Digest message boards, expressing her disappointment in friends who had offered support while she was writing her novels and excitement at their publication--yet refuse to buy a copy. 

I have yet to meet an author who hasn't found themselves in a similar situation. We've all had friends and family who think it's wonderful when our books are published. They can't wait for their FREE copy. Everybody wants to read it, but nobody wants to BUY it. Family members, even the most distant cousins, think blood connections mean free books. I even had to explain to my mother that I couldn't give all of her friends free copies. No one in her family, to my knowledge, has ever bought even one of my sixteen novels (but then, I didn't get along with most of them, so I'm really not all that surprised).

I'm not sure Dad's side of the family even knew I was published, except for a couple of cousins.

Jesus said a prophet is respected everywhere but his own home. The same could be said of authors. When Chasing the Wind was published, my good friend Carolyn stopped by one day with a box of books to be signed for people at her church. At my own, I can count on the fingers of one hand those I know have read any of my books. Few will even acknowledge I've written them.

My pastor once suggested if I brought some copies to the church they would probably sell. It was kind of him. I didn't have the heart to tell him I didn't think there would be enough interest.

Recently, one congregation member, an otherwise delightful woman, asked me about helping a friend of hers get published. Now whenever I mention my books, she always responds with some variation of, "Oh, one of these days I'll find time to read." But I'm supposed to make time for her friend. Gee, thanks.

We as published authors have heard all the excuses. With the rise of the e-book, the list now includes lack of an expensive e-reader or no time to download the FREE e-book reader apps for computers and smartphones.

No time? It only takes a minute, for crying out loud--and e-books are far less expensive than hardcovers.

Memo to friends and family of published authors: we don't have an endless supply of free books to give to everyone who expects one. When I was working with traditional publishers, my contracts allowed me twenty-five free copies. I always bought more at cost, but most of them were for promotional purposes or were sent to my agent for our foreign publishers. I had very few to give as gifts.

In self-publishing, there's no such thing as a free copy. We get print editions at cost and pay full price for e-books, just like everyone else. So give us a break. Support us. Buy a book!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Okay, Skynet--Enough Already!

I have come to the conclusion that my smartphone is really a Terminator. Or at the very least, a Transformer. It's a sneaky, snarky little device out to rob me of my sanity.

In my ongoing love/hate relationship with technology, my Android phone continues to test my patience. Yesterday, I received a call from a friend from church. I had the phone in my hand, I could see the name and number on the Caller ID...but no matter how hard I pressed the touchpad, I was unable to answer that call! Worse, after the call went to voicemail, I was unable to enter voicemail to get the mssage because I couldn't get the touchpad to come up so I could enter my passcode!

When I described my ordeal to William, I lamented that, even though this phone sucks as a phone, it has so many other great features, I still intend to keep using it. It has apps for Kindle, Nook, Audible, a radio site that connects to 600 stations nationwide, and countless others. It has Think Free Office. I can compose--not just edit--on the phone. It has Google Maps and a GPS.

William suggested it might be able to direct me to a working phone, which it did.

To err is human, but to really screw things up requires technology. I'm seriously considering a return to more basic means of communication...

Pony Express, maybe...

Smoke signals?

Or possibly carrier pigeons!

Collin thinks I'm overreacting. Or at least he did before he had to remove a virus from his Android....

Six Sentence Sunday (Chasing the Wind)

I learned this one from William. I've done it with Final Hours, and William and I did one together for Same Time, Tomorrow on our joint blog. This time, I'm taking six sentences from Chasing the Wind...okay, technically it's seven, but the two had to be used together to make sense.

We tend to bend the rules. We haven't always done it on Sunday, either.


"If I believed in all that supernatural crap, I'd think the devil's testing me to see if I'm eligible for hell."

"Heaven could be outsourcing."

"What the hell are pigs doing in DC?" Caitlin asked.
Jack didn't miss a beat. "Running for Congress."

"This is not news, Ally. They've been at war since Moses came down from the mountain."

"Darcy wouldn't recognize love if it walked up and slapped him in the face."

"I thought you'd be in your box, waiting for the sun to go down." 

I just realized...they're all dialogue....

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

International Technology Sucks Day

For those of you who were fortunate enough to have missed it, it was yesterday.

I got the trifecta of tech crises--first, my satellite crapped out.  For some inexplicable reason, I could only get a few channels when I turned the TV on that morning--and not channels I really wanted to watch at that time. It's suffered epic fail before--in fact, we just had it serviced last week--but never anything this weird. It's usually all or nothing. If the weather is bad, expect nothing. We get billed for a full month but usually get about half. I found myself wishing we hadn't paid the bill the day before....

Then, my Android phone decided to be contrary...again. Immediately upon being turned on, it had to reboot. It didn't deliver my e-mail. Text messaging was maddeningly slow. It took five attempts (yep FIVE) to check my voicemail because I couldn't get the keypad to come up so I could enter my passcode. (Needless to say, I don't always check voicemail. If I recognize the number, I just call the person back. If I don't recognize the number, well....  That's how the call ended up in voicemail to start with. After you get stuck paying for a lot of calls from wrong numbers, you wise up (at least I did) and let calls from unrecognized numbers go to voice to prevent wasting your minutes.

More often than not, there will be no message left anyway. I changed my number a few days ago after getting calls every hour from someone in another state who never left a message. Go figure. You'd think after hearing my outgoing message the first time, they would have realized they had the wrong number and stop calling!

And...disasters really do come in triplicate, so my netbook had to have problems, too. One of my e-mail accounts alerted me to a Trojan virus. Do they call them Trojans because when they get into your computer, you get screwed? I wonder. I did manage to get rid of that, but not before a long period of sheer, pull-my-hair-out frustration. 

At least I didn't have to reset all of my passwords. I have enough trouble with that on a good day.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I Write Like....

Today, I checked out a website, I Write Like  that analyzes a writer's choice of words, writing style, etc. and tells us what famous authors we write like. I tested three samples and got results I never expected....

For my Men: Can't Live With 'Em, Kill 'Em blog, I was told....

                                I write like
                          Oscar Wilde

For Final Hours....

I write like
James Joyce


And for Chasing the Wind...

I write like
Vladimir Nabokov

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lost Memories?

A few days ago, I posted some video clips to my blog Sam's Story. They were clips I thought had been lost, clips of my beloved grey cheeked parakeet, Sam, who passed away three weeks ago. I was so happy to have them, to always be able to see him--and hear him--alive.

I confided to William yesterday that I wished I had such videos of my parents. Though I can remember most things about them clearly, with the passing of time I've lost the ability to remember how their voices sounded. He told me he also had trouble recalling his late brother's voice. I had also heard others express similar frustrations. William suggested this was simply something lacking in our brains, but I find myself wondering if there's something more to it, if it's not just a universal deficiency.

Odd...I can recall the slightly fruity scent of Mom's skin (she was diabetic)...the way Dad used to stroke his eyebrow when he was watching TV...the shape of Mom's hands and nails (my hands look exactly like hers)...the exact color and texture of their hair...the quirky facial expression Mom had when annoyed (it drove me crazy) and so many other things--but I can't remember their voices.

Could the ability to recall the sound of voices be connected to musical ability?

Those of us lacking in musical gifts--tone deaf, for lack of a kinder term--don't hear ourselves as we actually sound. Think of the rejected would-be contestants on American Idol, who sound terrible but believe they have great talent. They have no idea how bad they really are. It stands to reason that if we aren't hearing their own voices as they really sound, there would be a problem in hearing--and recalling--the voices of others as well.

Is it possible, then, that someone with an ear for music could be able to hear and recall the voices of those they've lost? If any of you reading this are musically gifted, perhaps you can answer this question. I would love to hear from you.

There is a study that's discovered a hub in the brain linking music, memory and emotion....

I wish I could hear my parents' voices. I would love to be able to watch video of them, hear them talking, joking, I miss that! That sound is the only thing missing from my memories, and it bothers me more than I ever thought it would. I never thought I'd ever forget.

As for my video clips of Sam, I wish I had more. I wish I had audio of the wide range of sounds he made. The only thing Sam didn't do was sing. (He, too, lacked musical talent!) As I told William, there was a sound he made when he was especially content and happy, a sound I'd give anything to hear right now...the funny thing about it was that he sounded like a cat purring.

Yes, I said purring....

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Pepe LePew Syndrome

I'm curious. Why is it automatically assumed that if you're into social networking, you have to be looking to hook up?

For years, I had a MySpace account. I'd only set it up so I could start a blog, but I received regular messages in my inbox from guys--some personal, but most sounding suspiciously like a message that was sent out to every female on the site in the hope the sender would get a few nibbles on his line. 

When William started his blog there, he got relationship spam the first day: a PM from a young woman claiming he was the one for her. She was willing to relocate, anything for him.

Him and probably 5000 guys who received that same message.

We don't miss My Space. We don't see that sort of crap on Blogspot. The worst nuisance we've seen here so far is that dopey guy who goes around posting messages to follow HIS blog. As if we actually might. Don't hold your breath, buddy.

Facebook has a few relationship spammers, but overall is fairly creep-free. I've had to deal with someone from my past who seems to think because he read one of my novels years ago, I'm obligated to put everything else aside and arrange an in-person meeting with him. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy meeting people who have read my books, but this fellow seems to think he's special to me. And that makes me a little nervous.

William has the funniest tale of unrequited lust--though at the moment, he's not finding it at all amusing. William, who just turned thirty, is the object of affection of a sixty-five-year-old grandmother who makes no secret of her, uh, how do I put this, hots for him. I commented on what I thought was a harmless crush, only to get a response that had us both wondering just how much of a problem she might become. 

It can be tough for a young guy, having his buddies making fun of him because he's got an old lady crushing on him.

We only signed on at Facebook to create a presence there and promote our work. All right, a lot of lonely people look for Mr. or Ms. Right online. We did not. Not all of us are here to hook up. Please, be sure the person you've got in your crosshairs is interested before you begin active pursuit...or like Pepe LePew, that poor, lovelorn skunk, you could find yourself in an endless pursuit of a frantic cat who only wants to get away from you.

Being rejected is no fun, whether it's face-to-face or in cyberspace....

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Men: Can't Live With 'Em, Can't Kill 'Em...

Though sometimes we'd really like to, wouldn't we?

When I first started writing, I didn't understand the incredible popularity of romance novels because I'd never read one. I read my first romance novel after I sold my first novel and became acquainted with some romance writers. Over the years, however, I've come to see not only why women like to read them, but why we as writers like to write them. We live vicariously through our heroines. We get to have a man who may be flawed but gets it right in all the ways that really matter. Let's face it, girls--how many of you can honestly say your husband/significant other could be a hero in a romance novel?

We might love them in real life, but the guy who is too often insensitive and takes you for granted wouldn't sell many novels.

I initially balked at the idea of writing romance because I thought the heroes were too good. I wanted to write love stories that weren't necessarily romances. I didn't want them to be perfect. I wanted to create the kind of men I could love. I wanted them to be strong, but not cads. Thoughtful without having to be beaten into submission to make them remember the little things. Unafraid to express feeling, but not wimpy. The three men I created in my most recent novels have a great deal in common....

Connor Mackenzie, Chasing the Wind: he's got secrets--and emotional scars. He's sworn off love, but when circumstances force him to forge a bond with Lynne, he finds himself experiencing emotions he thought impossible. Once he allows himself to love, she's his priority... 

Jamie Randall, Final Hours: he married for the wrong reasons and stays with his wife out of a sense of obligation. Still, when he falls in love with Kate, he falls completely. She's the one he loves, the one he wants to be with--and he lets her know it...

Alex Stewart, An Army of Angels: his very existence has created a barrier between him and anyone who might get close to him--but when Robyn refuses to give up on him, she finds herself with a husband who would face death itself to be with her...

Think about it, girls. Who comes to mind when you think of the ideal man? Jane Austen's legendary hero, Mr. Darcy? Rick in Casablanca? Richard Gere's Edward from Pretty Woman, who conquered his fear of heights to prove his love to Vivian?

I'll bet nobody picks the crude, insensitive, selfish Al Bundy from Married With Children.... 

I refuse to settle. I guess that's why I'm still single...


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Great Birthday Chow-Down

Tomorrow is Collin's birthday. 

Celebrating your adult child's birthday is second only to a really good mirror when it comes to making one feel old. Make that OLD. I'm not a grandma yet, but that's just a matter of time.

The upside to birthdays around our house is all the freebies that start popping up in our email boxes, usually a week before our actual birthdays. It started with one local Taco Bell franchise's birthday club, promoted in-store. Go online, the promo cards said, and sign up to get a free combo meal on your birthday. We did...and Collin decided to see which other restaurant chains offered similar perks.

Most of them do, he discovered.

He signed us up for all of them. As a result, for two weeks around our birthdays each year, we get coupons for more free meals and desserts than we can possibly eat. We'll be eating out a lot. Lunch and dinner. And a few breakfasts, too.

The funny thing is, it still seems like yesterday that I went off to the hospital in the middle of the night in a cold rain. As the sun rose on the eastern horizon, I was in a delivery room at St. Anthony's Medical Center, giving birth to a perfect-in-every-way eight-pound, two-ounce baby boy. 

He was so tiny then. Now I look up to him. Where have the years gone?

Happy Birthday, T-Bird!