Obsession – Not by Calvin Klein

To obsess, that is my life.

Nothing in my life ever happens without lots of thought invested. Thought before, like “what if?” and thought after, like “what the fuck?” or “why?”

This state of mind is paralyzing to say the very least. And it has molded my life. Oh yes, it has.

Contrary to popular opinion by the medical community, I must read myself to sleep because if I turn the light off before I reach the point where I can no longer keep my eyes open another moment, I will lay and stew in all the bad mistakes I’ve made, reliving each one of them in vivid Technicolor. Or if something is pending, even something little and of no account, I’ll ponder what the thousand potential outcomes are.  And if somehow, for whatever reason, even though I am dropping the book –actually now it would be my Kindle–onto my face from exhaustion, if I turn that light off a second too soon, then my mind starts spinning out horrific situations in which I am the starring character.

But this obsessive behavior doesn’t just disturb my sleep patterns, it affects my every move. Should I have let the old lady go ahead of me? Should I just ignore the asshole drivers on the road? Should I change jobs? Does my manager want me to change jobs? Did I do the right thing? What could I have done better? Why did I act the way I did?

Should I have written this post? Do I want to expose myself to the world like this? Will others find me disturbing or pathetic? Or sad? Or boring? Will they think me a self-involved asshole/moron/waste-of-space?

This post was mentally spawned by Today’s Daily Post, Verbal Confirmation: To be, to have, to think, to move — which of these verbs is the one you feel most connected to? Or is there another verb that characterizes you better?


ReBlog: Copyright Infringement: A Warning to all Authors

My novella, Couillon, is there, linked to Kobo, with which/whom I do not have a contract. My novella is also available for “download”. General eBooks on Twitter, @General_EBooks, says they’re just doing free advertising. I disagree. Please check your books to see if they’re listed at http://www.general-ebooks.com/. I’ve also reported copyright violations, TWICE, with no feedback whatsoever.

Short of bringing in a lawyer, the best thing I can do is spread the word.


I would like to share a letter sent to me by a fellow independent author, who wishes to remain anonymous, about a website claiming to be promoting independent authors, when in reality it appears that they are offering free downloads of the work of dozens of us.

If you are an author, independent or otherwise, I urge you to read this letter and investigate the site yourself. Find out if your work is posted there and take appropriate action to have it removed, or, at the very least, make sure you are willing to grant permission to the site owners to list your work.

Making money as an independent author is difficult enough without pirating sites giving our work away under false pretenses AND without our permission.

Please share, tweet or reblog this post in order to spread the word through the independent author community and, hopefully, put some pressure…

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Authors: Established vs Newbies

I’ve been following the Amazon/Hachette melee, and maybe because I’m a new author, I am leaning toward Amazon’s view of the world. No, I’m not in favor of monopolies, and Amazon is heading that way, but I’m also not the least bit happy about the way new authors are treated by the traditional publishing industry.

My view of the world is that there’s a double standard when it comes to established, well-known authors versus new authors.

Some of it I can understand.  I can see that a publisher may not want to take a risk on a thousand page novel by a new author, one which may tank after they’ve made a major investment in physically creating a tome that size. Most new authors start out with a novel significantly less than 125K words [approximately 400 pages], and so I had a hard time selling An Untold Want to an agent. In fact, I never was able to get an agent to represent me. Several specifically said they wouldn’t even consider a manuscript with more than 90K words from a new author. One agent told me to cut it down to 85K words and then come talk to her. She wasn’t offering me a contract up front. No, she was just saying she would possibly consider it if I cut my novel in half. I passed on that offer.

Some of the issues I don’t understand, like quality of writing. Awhile back I did a review of The GoldFinch. If a newbie author had submitted The Goldfinch to a major publishing house, let’s just say Hachette, that author would have been laughed out of their office.  The book is long and convoluted and badly edited. And yet, the publisher is pushing it. And it won a Pulitzer. Yes, it has some beautiful prose and is an interesting story, but it would never have seen the light of day, a book that won a Pulitzer would never have been published if it had been written by a new author.

Agents and publishers expect newbies to come to them with a complete, fully edited manuscript. With a social presence already in place. From what I’ve read, in multiple articles from well respected news outlets, publishers now only focus on supporting their big draw authors, the J.K. Rowlings and James Pattersons of the book world. If I were to get a contract with Hachette today, I’ve no doubt that I would have to do a large majority of the advertising myself.  So for a whopping 7% of the sale price [yes, that’s what new authors tend to get from publishing houses], I would get to do 70% of the work, not including writing the novel.

When I couldn’t get an agent, [Your book is too long. Your book doesn’t fit our genre. Your books just wasn’t for us.] I went down the indie route. By self publishing with Amazon, I get 70% of the royalties and I own the rights to my book. Yes, I did all the work, but the ROI is significantly better than if I’d gotten an agent and gone down the traditional route, say with Hachette.  There are tons of agent/publisher horror stories out there. My favorite, the one I tell myself at night when I’m trying to boost my ego about why an agent wouldn’t want my book, is that many authors finally get an agent only to have their books placed at the bottom of a huge pile of I’ll get around to this later.

The Huffington Post posted a great article that sums up the indie versus traditional situation: Are There 5 Reasons to Stick With Major Publishers? No, There Are Zero Reasons

Just to be fair, there is a down side to self publishing. Indie books are still considered substandard. All self published authors are lumped into a huge ball of what appears as mediocrity. Those who do the work to polish their novels are pulled down by those who don’t. Even I shy away from indie authors because I’ve paid for too many books that were badly written. I wrote about this phenomenon in my post Do Yourself a Favor: Edit Your Book. Too many new authors write what is in essence a first draft and then rush to publish it. As one web article said, we are drowning in indie books, and my take is that many of them are sub-par.

With that said, the best reason to be an indie author is that I’m in control of how successful I am. I can edit or not. I can create a great cover. Or not. I can do what I want, but what I do is in direct relation to how successful I am. I am not waiting on someone else to promote my book.

Do Yourself a Favor: Edit Your Book

IMG_20140627_165856Yesterday, Lorraine Devon Wilke was a guest blogger on Indies Unlimited. After starting out with the Amazon/Hachette debate, her post, The Persistence of Self-Publishing Stigmas and How To Transcend Themmoved to a topic that’s a constant source of irritation for me.  Lorraine’s opinions on why indie-authors are typically thought of as sub-par was spot-on, and you can read her opinions for yourself.

I agree with Ms. Wilke, but not because I’m an uppity my-writing-is better-than-yours author. No, I agree with her because I’m an avid reader, and I have pulled down far too many badly written indie books, rife with typos, poor grammar, and just plain bad writing. So many that I have a “Don’t Like” folder on my Kindle so that I won’t forget the author’s name. So many that I now shy away from most authors I haven’t read before. I paid for many of those poorly written books. But even if a book is free, I’m investing my spare time reading your work. And if you’re one of the ones who is putting out these obviously unedited books, you won’t get my repeat business. Sadly, it doesn’t affect just you. Actions like this reduce the chance of readers investing in other unknown, indie authors’ work.

Do yourself a favor, okay. Edit your book.


First of all, the idea that you can’t afford an editor is ridiculous. If you don’t barter, beg, or pay for an editor, chances are you won’t ever have the funds to pay for an editor because after reading your first book, no one will ever buy another one. If you can afford a $5 Macchiato every day, then you can afford to save up, budget, and pay for an editor. At the absolute very least have beta readers. There are a ton of groups on Facebook alone where people are willing to read your book, free of charge, and comment on it.

Do yourself a favor: let someone else decide when it’s ready to release.


That leads me to the idea that you can finish the last chapter on Monday and have your book available on Amazon on Tuesday. It is enticing, and it is prompting many new authors to “rush to publish”. Even though the rush to publish idea is a perfect metaphor for today’s society, it’s a bad, bad, bad idea. Did I mention it’s a bad idea? Have you not heard the term shitty first draft? If you publish right after finishing the last chapter, then you are publishing a first draft. I’d even bet that you haven’t gone back and re-read your book, probably not even once. This is not even a money issue. This is an arrogance issue, a stupidity issue. What is the big hurry? If you really believe that you can finish your book and publish it right away, you probably aren’t going to be losing any awards/money/readers by waiting a month or a year, because books like that don’t get awards or tons of royalties or loyal readers.

Do yourself a favor: wait, re-read your book, several times.


With many new authors, especially those who are still totally in love with their own work, there’s this attitude that their work is as good as it’s ever going to be and they may as well publish it now. Wrong. Every now and again, I go back and re-read the work I wrote in my first writing classes, and even though I see the potential in my writing, I also see what a huge pile of crap my writing was at that time. And at that time, I thought everything that came out of my pen was pure genius. It wasn’t.

Do yourself a favor: attend a class, join a critique group, learn your craft, polish your work.


I could go on and on about poor workmanship, bad writing, and ridiculous cover art. [gimp is free, folks, figure out how to use it to create an attractive cover.]

But I still wonder why some new authors believe that they don’t have to do the hard work, that just telling a story is enough?

Is it possible that someone has told them that their work is the greatest writing since [fill in the blank]? It’s possible. Which leads me to my biggest indie-world pet peeve: coercing your friends into writing 5-star reviews. If that person is your friend, and if you’re a good writer, then you should be able to take an honest, constructive critique. Several close, long time friends have given me a 3-star rating because literary [women’s literary] fiction isn’t a genre they enjoy. I’m okay with that. Personally, I never give a 5-star review unless I’ve read the book multiple times, or I think that I would want to read it again.


While perusing books on Amazon, the first thing I do is to look at the review graph. If that graph shows anything other than an inverted triangle, then I don’t even bother. There is not a single book that’s been published that everyone likes. So don’t try to bullshit me that your book is so good that it has fifty 5-star reviews and nothing else.

On the flip side of this review/ratings coin are the people [usually indie authors themselves] who always give 5-star reviews, no matter how bad the book is. Maybe they want all the other authors to like them. Or possibly, these people think if I give Sara a 5-star rating, she’ll return the favor. That is not going to happen, and not because I like being a bitch. If I’ve read your book all the way through, and I see problems, then I feel it’s my responsibility to respect you and your work, and tell you the truth. This is not a mutual admiration society. We are authors. Stand up and be honest. Give constructive criticism.

Do yourself a huge favor: accept constructive criticism, use it to make your book(s) better.


Finally, I’ve re-read this post at least five times. There may still be typos because it’s hard to proof your own writing. You see what is supposed to be there. And I’m a terrible speller. But, no one can say that I didn’t spend the time trying to make this post as good as it can be.

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream…Wait, I’d be Happy to Just Sleep

Today, thUntitlede WordPress Daily Post mentioned “sleep procrastination”.  I don’t think I procrastinate at night. I know that my brain’s not on a 24-hour schedule. There are nights when I’m literally awake all night, and I’m well into the next day before I get sleepy.  I’ve been to several doctors and every damn one of them gives me the same lecture. Don’t read in bed. Don’t go to bed until you’re sleepy. Don’t this… Don’t that.

And you know what, these platitudes do not work for me. I’m a night person living in a day-oriented-work world.

I tried the “stay in the living room until your sleepy” bit. I fell asleep on the sofa, and as soon as I got up to go to bed. I was wide awake, again.

I tried turning off the light and just laying there, waiting to fall asleep, because everyone knows that if you just turn off the light, you’ll fall asleep. Problem is that when I turn off the light before I’m sleepy, my mind starts doing mental gymnastics, thinking about everything I ever did that was wrong or bad or stupid. If that isn’t enough to wake someone up, I don’t know what is.

I haven’t written in a while because by the time I’m ready to write, usually around 2am, I’m supposed to already be asleep or at least winding down, because I have to get up in a few hours and be functional in a 9-5 soul-sucking job. So at night when it’s time to go to bed, I climb in bed, and I read, and read, and read, until the Kindle is falling on my face. [BTW, the Kindle doesn’t hurt nearly as much as a hardback hitting me in the face.] But my doctor says that reading in bed is bad for me. I call foul. At least I get to the point where I can sleep if I read in bed.

I am not everyone else. I don’t believe that one size fits all, and I especially don’t believe there’s only one solution to a problem.

The solution to my problem is a job that’s flexible enough for me to sleep when I can. Something like an author. I just gotta get there.


Finding Time to Write

Most of us who are just starting out as authors have to hold down a job that pays the rent.  So when do we find time to write?

During the week, I find that by the time I get home from my computer geek 9-5 job that my brain has turned to cheese, and not the good cheese. No, by then, my brain is more like the cheese you find at the back of your refrigerator, the hunk of Gouda or Camembert–hard to tell at that point–you don’t remember buying. So I tell myself that it’s okay to sit on the sofa like a giant wilted celery stalk, that it’s okay to do nothing, but I feel guilty about it.  See, I’ve already broken my resolve not to have to produce.

Anyway, as I’m sitting here feeling guilty about not writing, I tell myself that I’ll write this weekend.  But you know what, my weekend is the time when all the stuff gets done, the house cleaning and shopping and the big to-dos like re-sealing the grout in the bathrooms or installing the new range hood.

What I need to do is find some discipline. I need to write for an hour everyday. But discipline, like patience, is not one of my virtues. Procrastination and self-deception, now those virtues I revel in.

IMG_20140608_135745 (2)The problem is that Beryl–the protagonist in the novel I’m currently writing, or not currently writing if truth be told–has been bugging me lately.

And Sinclair, the antagonist and pseudo-love-interest, has decided he doesn’t want to be a teacher at a Seattle community college. No, he has changed professions. Sinclair’s new profession fits more with his personality, or maybe his new profession is a large part of what shaped his personality.

Last weekend I even went to Pike Market to scope out the territory, where Sinclair sits as he watches Beryl. And you thought I just dumped a couple of random pictures into this post. The one jpeg is potentially where Sinclair would sit [a coffee shop across the street from the end of the market] and his view from said coffee shop.


So I ask myself, does this count as writing? Does building characters and walking around, photographing their life, their microcosm count as writing?

For now, I’m telling myself yes, this does count as writing. I’m building the characters in my head, building their stories. And to be honest, this is the fun part of writing. I love creating people. I love investing enough of the thought process in them that they become real, at least in my head. I can see both of them, can hear their voices, can feel their pain. Because you know if I write it, it isn’t going to be some fun beach read.

Did I mention that self-deception is one of my virtues?