I write like
Jack London

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Monday, September 15, 2014

The Death Spiral of Another Publisher

In 2000, Tina Engler started a little publishing company. Her sexy contemporary stories was constantly rejected by bigger publishers as too risque. The publishers claimed there was no market for contemporary, fantasy or sci-fi erotic romance. Tina proved them wrong when she launched Ellora's Cave.

Not only did Tina prove there was a market for those sub-genres, but she did something unique. She launched new stories as e-books first. If they proved popular enough, a paper version of the book was published. Remember, this was over ten years ago. Very few e-readers were on the market at the time, the most prominent manufacturer of which was Sony.

EC was the first erotica publisher to gain mainstream prominence. Their books were shelved in Borders and Barnes & Noble. They were getting noticed by financiers and mainstream press. EC was featured in Forbes. They were raking in the dough.

So why haven't EC editors and writers been paid for several months now?

That's the question on everyone's mind. Jane Litte at Dear Author provides a breakdown of the sequence of events. She believes incompetence and/or fraud is responsible for the tailspin EC finds itself in.  On top of salaries and royalties, state taxes haven't been paid. Writers are asking their fans NOT to buy their EC titles. Requests for reversions of rights go unanswered.

Unfortunately, the real like drama at EC sounds just like the sequence of events at other publishers and a certain retailer by the name of Borders Group, Inc., before they crashed.

First came the complaints from the occasional writer, who was subsequently labelled a troublemaker. Then came the late payments. Just a computer glitch; nothing to worry about. Layoffs of publisher staff, or reorganization as they called it. Royalty statements didn't match sales figures from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. The payments stopped being late and didn't come at all. The smart writers got their lawyers involved in a desperate attempt to get their rights back. Some writers succeeded; other couldn't get their calls, letter or e-mails returned. Finally, the company collapsed and writers found their rights sold to another publisher.

Think I'm talking about EC? Nope, this was the exact sequence of events at Dorchester a few years ago.

We're seeing the same pattern over and over again in the current disruption of the publishing industry. EC is simply the latest.

And I fear Barnes & Noble may be next.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Home Office

I thought it would only take me three days to finish cleaning out my office. Boy, was I wrong!

There were still a dozen boxes from our last three moves sitting in the corner. Both DH and I had forgotten what was in them, but I didn't want to drag them back to Ohio (AGAIN). So I went through them. From Friday the 5th through Tuesday the 9th, I went through them.

I really don't want to end up on an episode of Hoarders, so I threw out quite a bit, but I still had four packed boxes that needed to go to the garage and another five that were half packed. On Wednesday, I had to take a break and deal with yard work.

So of course yesterday morning, I got the text that someone wanted to see the house.

PANIC!!

I ran through the house and tossed boxes into closets, hid dirty dishes in the broken dishwasher, and took the fastest shower in my life because I was too exhausted to take one the night before. But here's how my home office looks with everything hidden in the closet.






This room started as GK's nursery. Since I had such a difficult pregnancy, I hired a lovely woman named Mona to paint the room for me. She took my Egyptian theme and ran with it. Instead of mint green walls, she plastered and painted them to resemble antique plaster. Then she carefully hand-painted the figures.and hieroglyphs along the ceiling. Frankly, these pictures don't do the paintings justice.

The south wall depicts Horus and Thoth, the east Isis, and the west Hathor. There are statues of Anubis and Bast on my desk and one of Thoth (the patron of writers) on my bookcase.

I'm really going to miss this room!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I Remember


[This is a modification of the first post I wrote for 9/11 based on a talk I had with my son last night.]

On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, you were thirteen months and fifteen days old. Your dad took you to day care and he went to his office. I had a dentist appointment, which is why I wasn't with you two

I flipped on the news while I was eating breakfast. The first plane had crashed into the North tower. No one knew what was going on. They thought it was a freak accident. Until we all watched the second plane ram into the South Tower.

By the time I got to Dr. Mellard's office, the third plane had hit the Pentagon.

The back room with the treatment bays were terribly quiet. There was just the drone of the TVs she had installed in each bay to help keep patients distracted. I watched nearly 3,000 people die on live TV while sitting in the treatment chair.

When I got home, the second tower had collapsed. There was a message on our phone from my friend, Lanelle. "Don't bother coming to the office. They're shutting down our building and the Galleria."

I called your father and repeated Lanelle's message. He said his building was still open, but they'd gotten word that Williams Tower near his office was evacuating. It's one of the tallest buildings in Houston, but since it's in uptown, not downtown, it sticks out. The perfect target.

"Get GK and come home now. It's bad."

By the time you and your dad came home, the FAA had grounded all civilian flights. Our house is under the landing path for Bush Intercontinental. We never realized how much the hum of jet engines was part of our background noise until they were gone. Then the first military planes crossed the sky. The difference between them and commercial aircraft was unmistakable. And they flew very low, and very fast.

The rest of the day we split our time between watching the news and listening to fighters out of Ellington Field fly patrols over Houston. In between the passes, an eerie silence blanketed the city.

And I was so thankful you didn't really understand what was happening. You knew something wasn't right, but you quietly played with your blocks and trucks while your dad and I wondered if our country was about to go to war. Or if worse things were about to happen.

Have things gotten better since then? Yes and no. I don't think you'll ever understand what it was like before that day. When your dad and I could throw some clothes into a bag at the last minute and hop a flight to your grandparents or to New Orleans. All you'll ever know is the long lines, the overworked and undertrained TSA agents, and the immense planning that goes into our family taking a plane anywhere.

I'm sorry so many kids lost their parents that day. Or their aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings...

I'm sorry your generation will be paying for my generation's mistakes, miscalculations, and sheer ineptitude for years to come.

I'm sorry this is the world we've given you. One of fear and hate and prejudice. One were your friend Saif couldn't see his own grandparents for nearly a year because his parents were scared to leave the U.S., terrified they wouldn't be able to return because they were Muslim even though they were American citizens. And his Pakistani grandparents couldn't come to see him, even if they wanted to.

I'm sorry.

And I pray every day that you and your friends do a better job of finding peace than we did.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Friday, September 5, 2014

Why I Haven't Been Writing

The sign is finally up.

Yesterday was insane, and my muscles ache in a good way. I had to get the house cleaned and boxes hidden because the realtor was coming by to take pictures.

I've barely been writing for the last thirteen months since I've been trying to get this damn house on the market. However, as Tiffany says in Blood Magick, Murphy is the one true god. So many things went wrong that my friend Ro calls the last thirteen months a "comedy of catastrophes."

Even yesterday, I got the yard spruced and the driveway and patio cleaned off in preparation for the photo shoot. Only to have a thunderstorm whip through and deposit more leaves and debris on the drive. *sigh*

Oh, and the dishwasher decided to spring a leak on Wednesday. I'm going to head over to Home Depot and beg for credit. If that doesn't work, we'll have to wait until DH gets paid on the 15th.

But my new stove is very pretty and bakes a mean lasagna!

And that tile? Yep, I did it all by myself! In the back hall, utility room and half bath, too!

In the half bath, I tried my hand at sponge painting. The picture doesn't do it justice. The base coat is the same Precious Peach that covers the kitchen walls. Then Shamrock Green and Doric White were sponged over it.

P.S. There's a brand new American Standard toilet in there as well.

I can't take all the credit for the hardwood in the family room. Genius Kid did the majority of the work. I measured and DH cut, but GK busted butt on laying down the wood.

The fireplace normally doesn't have my plants on it. It has gas logs, and does a nice job of heating up the family room on those rare cold days in Houston.

(Poor empty bookshelf though! Harry Potter has been packed!)

We have a living room/dining room combo area with cathedral ceilings. I had to hire someone to paint this room and the master bath. I don't do heights. LOL

The carpet's fairly new (we bought it in 2008). Like the rainbow afghan I crocheted? I had to cover the couch and loveseat. I bought them new in 1989, but they were showing the love from the multitude of dogs and kids that have used them.

The hardwood flows from the family room, next to the staircase, and to the entryway.

At the head of the stairs is a loft that overlooks the LR/DR.

The loft was originally my office when I was in law school and first started practicing, so of course, DH decided he HAD to have it when he switched to working from home.

He also decided his desk needed to be bigger, too.

And he absconded with and ruined my good leather office chair in the process.

(No, I don't hold grudges. *wink*)

GK's room started out as the guest bedroom, but he outgrew his toddler bed before he was four so we moved him in here.

I originally had painted the room Twilight Blue (long before I got pregnant) with Viking Blue trim and doors because I loved the colors. Cool, soothing colors.

Our realtor Norberto suggested (rather strongly) that it needed to be repainted to something neutral, aka Doric White.

Have I said how much I've come to despise Doric White?

Okay, maybe not so much. It looks better than the crappy blue-flowered wall paper the builders originally put in GK's bathroom. And look at that beautiful tile!

I refused to compromise on the master bedroom (my bedroom!). No, Doric White here!

The walls are Inspired Lilac with Bright White trim. Matching vertical blinds replaced the godawful Laura Ashley curtain.

Lovely French doors guard the entrance. The reason our waterbed looks funky is we drained it in anticipation of the carpet being stretched and cleaned. It wasn't worth the water bill to refill it since we probably won't be here much longer.

The painter fought with me over the master bathroom. Can you believe he wanted to paint it *gasp* Doric White?

But I won (since I paid for the paint), and the walls and trim match the master bedroom. Unfortunately, you don't get a good view of the lovely tile.

Plus, there's a garden tub, which is excellent for those insane days when you just need to relax with a glass of wine and a good book.

What's not on display are my collection of essential oils and candles. (And no, those won't be sold with the house.)

The only room that wasn't photographed was my office (originally the nursery). I still have a a dozen half-packed boxes sitting it there. Today's project is to finish cleaning out that room. I'll post pics of it on Monday.

Next week, fingers-crossed, I may actually be writing again! Yay!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Every Minute You Write Counts

Over at The Passive Voice, PG has a long-running post about indie authors quitting their days jobs. The original reached the maximum number of comments WordPress would allow, so PG started a second one entitled "Indie Authors Quitting Their Day Jobs - Redux.

One writer was frustrated that she had only two books out. She literally had only her lunch break to write due to day job, family obligations, etc. This is the answer I gave to her comment on TPV:

[Writer}, I don’t know if you’ll pop in here again, but this is for you and anyone else in the same position. 
I’ve been there. Really, I have. 
That forty minutes? Those were the rare days I actually had a lunch hour. 2004 heralded the first novel that will forever remain under the proverbial bed. 2005 thru 2010, I produced four novels in between working full-time, my special needs child’s six surgeries, and my own serious illnesses. 
And no publisher or agent, big or small, wanted those novels. I got the same rejection over and over again. “Love your style. Love your voice. I can’t sell this.” 
It was discouraging. It sucked. But I kept at it. 
Then Amazon came along, and the rules of the game changed. I found people who enjoyed my snarkalicious heroines, and holy cow, they were willing to plunk down their own hard-earned cash for my stories. 
[Writer], those forty minutes each day add up. The words add up. No one is an overnight success. Not Joe Konrath. Not Hugh Howey. Not me. We all succeeded in our own way because we made those forty precious minutes count. 
Trust me, keep making your forty minutes count.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Spoon!

"Not in the face! Not in the face!" - Arthur

Oh, yeah, I'm getting in your face on this fabulous Labor Day! Why? Patrick Wharburton is bringing back The Tick!

Yep, that's right. Wharburton talked Sony into letting him do a new pilot for Amazon.

Amazon.

If Douglas Preston and James Patterson wanted my loyalty, they should have brought back The Tick.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

Status Report - August 2014

There's a lot of people doing the Chicken Little "The sky is falling" dance. Sales are down! Reader are gone! Publishing is dying!

Is it really?

Yes, my sales are down. And it's my own damn fault.

You see, last summer we decided to move back to Ohio so DH is closer to his parents, GK his grandparents. I stayed in Texas to finish getting the house ready to put on the market.

Only to have the Great God Murphy intervene in a big way.

I tried to keep up on my production schedule. Blood Sacrifice and an Alter Ego novella were released in October. Three-quarters of the first draft of A Question of Balance was written during NaNoWriMo. Another Alter Ego short novel was published in May.

That is pretty f**king slow for me, and my sales numbers are starting to show it. I'm only selling about half of what I was a year ago. Because I'm not producing. Because my readers are waiting to see if I can complete what I started.

And rather than sinking my earnings back into my business, I used the cash to pay bills and finish work on the house. Seriously, when I saw my Amazon deposit yesterday morning, the first things I did was drop the check to my dentist in the mail and drive over to Home Depot for some supplies. When I get my B&N payment next week, I'll swing by Uncle Bob's for more boxes and bubblewrap.

This is definitely not how I would recommend running your business, folks. It's a damn good way to ground it into nothing. My production schedule is sitting by my side, mocking me. And there's no one to blame but myself.

Will things get better?

I believe they will. DH has agreed to pay Angry Sheep back from the proceeds of the house sale. I've already lined up someone to help me format the Bloodlines series for paper release next year. And once the house is show worthy (I need to tile the last bathroom and clean out my office this weekend), I'll retreat to Starbucks and write on my f**king phone if that's what it takes to get back in the groove.

As always, your mileage may vary.