The One Day Tournament

There are a lot of tournaments in April/May/June.  As a result of my current expenses (medical bills are astronomical, even with insurance, when they are searching for an unknown illness, plus a car payment, regular bills, book publishing expenses, and student loan repayments… yeah, I’m pretty poor come pay day), it is nearly impossible for me to chip in on our travel.  My SO is footing the bills for tournaments.

There’s a good one in Topeka, Kansas this weekend.  Started Friday, ends Sunday.  However, we are driving up and back for the Saturday events.  Lots of my darter friends will be there.  More importantly, my nephew will be there and I do miss having him around since he moved to KC.

It’s going to be exhausting.  I run out of steam at normal tournaments, where I can go hide in my hotel room and take a nap.  Not having a hotel room to run to though will be trying.  Plus it’s about a 3 1/2 hour drive, one way and I have to get up at 6 am instead of my normal 8:30.

I will come home, run down and on the verge of total mental shutdown.  That’s what happens with one day tournaments when we don’t stay.  It’s gotten worse this year as we continue to search for whatever the hell is wrong with me, aside from the stress of not knowing what is wrong with me.  Evidence is still pointing to something in the ladies’ unmentionables department; particularly my cervix and I’m growing tired of the phrase “it might still be cancer, we just couldn’t diagnosis it yet.”

Sunday I will continue to be worthless as I recover from the travel.  Travel has always taken it out of me.  This year, travel is a form of torture.  However, I shouldn’t complain too much, I’m still healthy enough to go, despite what follows.  And my friends know me well enough to let me just be sometimes.  I’m taking my tablet to read or play games to help combat the constant drone of noise and people.  I might take my sleeping mask and go nap in the car, should I become too tired to function.

We shall see what the day brings.  I’ll give an update on Sunday.

Lola the Weird

Let me start by explaining that until November 2015, I had not had a furry pet for 21 years.  When my nephews were little, they had leopard geckos, which were cool, kinda, but they mostly just slept and couldn’t stand to be in the same tank together.  So, having Lola has reminded me of lots of pet related things I had forgotten.

However, Lola is a little odd, even for a dog.  She has lots of phobias and hangups.  She likes to watch cartoons, creature features, and musicals.  She also likes music and has learned how to change the song on my iPhone with her nose when I’m trying to write.  There are two basic problems with Lola.  The first is that she is willful, a collie trait, despite training she pretty much decides whether she is going to listen or not.  The second is that she is smart.  While I don’t really want a dumb dog, we have to force Lola to wear a collar and a harness because she has learned how to slip out when wearing just one of these items and unless I want her to stop breathing, I can’t really tighten them anymore.  For another example, see the above mentioned iPhone thing.

So, I’m working with a smart, hyperactive, attention seeking, phobic, willful, runt of the liter, collie/GSD mix.  I’m going to give a list of things that scare her and don’t scare her to show you what I mean…

  • Prowlers – not afraid, as a matter of fact, she keeps a very close eye on everyone in the neighborhood and when we go out for the last time at about 2 AM, she is very aware of who should and should not be there.  She can even identify cars.  However, in January & February, we caught a man trying to break into cars.  She went nuts!  It took everything I had to hold her and call the police.  Despite her slightly stunted stature, I think she could have taken the guy.  He hasn’t been back since February.
  • Water – Puddles are fine, baths are not.  As a matter of fact, she is a little weird about water.  She will drink fresh water from her dish, but if it has set for more than a few hours, she would prefer to drink from the toilet or a puddle.  No amount of getting on to her or punishing her stops her from drinking from the toilet.  Only changing the water every couple of hours does.
  • Bigger animals – Definitely not afraid.  I chalk this up to the herding instinct.  She attempted to heard quarter horses one day while visiting a nephew/niece.  They did not want to be herded and she eventually gave up.  And bigger dogs just mean more of a challenge for her.  While her favorite dog is a basset hound, she loves to play with bigger, stronger dogs, I suspect her being 55 lbs of pure muscle has something to do with that.  I have seen her take on labradoodle/pitbull mixes, full pitbulls, australian shepherds, and mutts.  She has the strength of them and far more stamina.  Essentially she wears them out.  Did I mention she actually loves everyone and everything that will play with her?
  • Passing Gas – if it’s silent, she’s fine.  If it’s someone else, she’s fine.  If it’s her and she makes noise, she runs away like she’s been shot at.  This can be particularly entertaining for me.
  • The Dark – Absolutely not.  She hates going into dark rooms, she doesn’t like to sleep in the dark, she won’t even chase a ball into a dark room.  Every room has a nightlight because of this and when we go camping, I have to leave the TV in the living room on so that she has plenty of light to go from small area to small area.  Most nights, she curls up and sleeps in that light.  I can even mute the TV, as long as it’s on, that’s the important part.
  • Helmets – My neighbor drives a motorcycle from time to time.  She loves him when he isn’t wearing a helmet.  The moment he puts it on she acts the same way she would if there was an intruder.
  • Mechanical Stuff- She loves going for car rides.  She hates semi trucks.  She barks and whines when we are next to one.  She also hates the garbage truck, the recycling truck, any type of mower, weed eater, tiller, or other mechanized gardening tool, and the vacuum.
  • Bristles & things- Brushes (doesn’t have to be hers), brooms, dusting rags, the scrub brush on the kitchen sink, the nail file (not hers), and blow dryers are among her least favorite things too.  Brushing my own hair is a challenge, brushing my teeth is worse, and I can’t remember the last time I got to blow dry my hair…  When we break out the broom, she attacks it, even growling and jumping on it.
  • My Books – Everyone, even the dog, is a critic.  She loves boxes, she loves the UPS guy, the FedEx guy, and the mail gal, however, if a shipment of my books arrives, she freaks out when it’s opened and barks at the books.  She doesn’t do this with other books, just mine…

The Strachan Anomaly

There is an anomaly with the Strachan series that I always find a little surprising.  I have sold more copies of Dark Legacies, the fourth book in the series, than I have either Dark Illumination or Dark Resurrections.  It’s like people read Dark Cotillion and then decide to just skip to the end.

The sales are enough to be considered statistically significant.  I have sold 1.25 times as many copies of Dark Legacies as Dark Illumination and 1.33 as Dark Resurrections.  The breakdown:

5,689 copies of Dark Illumination

5,231 copies of Dark Resurrections

6,301 copies of Dark Legacies

For the record, this is my worst selling series.  There have only been around 20,000 downloads of Dark Cotillion.  In contrast, my mid-seller, The Dysfunctional Chronicles, has had 43,000 copies of The Dysfunctional Affair downloaded.  The Dreams & Reality series went over 150,000 for Tortured Dreams this year and with Elysium Dreams free, I’ve seen a huge increase in sales for the others in the series (which might prove that Elysium Dreams is the superior of the two books). Oddly, Cannibal Dreams is the worst selling book in that series.  I’ve had more downloads of Butchered – Belladonna than I have Cannibal (Mutilated Dreams is still too new to have accurate data)…

And now you know that I’m anal enough to keep track of all this.  I also sell better on iBooks than I do Nook.  iBooks actually accounts for nearly 1/4 of all my sales while Nook only accounts for about 1/8 (yes, that does mean I sell twice as many books on iBooks than on Nook and 4 times as more books on Amazon than I do iBooks).

Groupon Thinks I Need

Changing gears rather suddenly this week, we’ll go with a lighter post… Shit Groupon is pretty sure I can’t live without.

I use Groupon to get decent deals on promo items.  I’ve used it for book cover throw blankets, canvas posters with a book cover or assortment of covers, VistaPrint deals, and what not.  Then I installed the app on my phone and now I get daily notices of things Groupon thinks I’ll like.

10.  An emulsifier – um, sure?  Wait, what?  What is an emulsifier and why do I need it? (Seriously, I don’t know)

9.  The super Juicer – I’ve discussed this before… I don’t juice things.  I like my kale to be in kale form.  I like my cucumbers to be in cucumber form.  I like my spinach… You get the picture.  Mangled and mixed together is not how I prefer these things to go into my digestive system.

8.  The 6-pack of Sports Bras – This is actually not a bad deal, but they never come in my size.  My conclusion is that to be able to wear a sports bra, one must already be in shape (in other words, not a size 38 around the chest) and not actually have things to put in them, except maybe iPods and bra-wallets.  Maybe if I bought the super juicer, I would eventually be able to buy the sports bra 6-pack.

7.  Diamond Jewelry – Um, Groupon, I’m allergic to metal, almost all of it.  I can do silver/aluminum alloys, but they can’t have any other metals in them.  I’m even allergic to hematite, which is technically a magnetic rock.  So, yeah, I don’t wear jewelry of any kind…

6.  Emoji T-Shirts – Okay, I may not wear the most fashionable stuff, but even I have limits and it turns out emoji t-shirts are on the other side.  I do not need a smiley face on my shirt all day.  That would give the wrong impression… I would wear a t-shirt with tastefully done blood stains.

5.  Wine – Groupon must think I’m an alcoholic because the top picks of the day for me are always wine clubs.  I actually don’t drink much and I certainly do not need to join a wine club… I have a bottle left from New Year’s.  It can take me a year or more to get through a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream, even with help and my favorite adult beverage being Bailey’s and Coke (it’s like an alcohol fueled float, but looks like someone yakked in a cup).  I’m also very picky about wine.

4.  Anti-fatigue Kitchen Mats – I’m a writer, not a chef.  I spend as little time in the kitchen as humanly possible.  I do enjoy cooking, I just don’t do it very often and if I’m juicing two meals a day, do I really need an anti-fatigue kitchen mat anyway… how long does that juicer take?

3.  Aprons – Um, no.  Maybe when they invent aprons for doing laundry, I’ll buy one.  I do occasionally splash even the splashless bleach.  However, the sheer cotton with no real protective layer is not going to save me from the bleach and see above for how much time I spend in the kitchen.

2.  Speaking of the Bra Wallet – It has been on there lately.  I have hygiene concerns about a bra wallet and have actually refused to take money from someone who dug around in their bra to get it out.  If you can’t be bothered to carry a purse, I get it… That’s why I carry a man’s trifold wallet. (There is also a gun holster that hooks to the front of your bra which raises safety concerns for me, but is not currently available as a Groupon deal)

1.  The Super Coffee Maker – It froths milk and/or cream, boils water, and can make sixty types of coffee house coffees from cappuccinos to espressos, but I don’t drink coffee.  However, if I did, I still probably wouldn’t find a use for this.  I love gizmos and gadgets, but a coffee maker should not have more buttons than the remote control for my satellite dish.

An Apology

After yesterday’s post, an indie I know contacted me to tell me I owed the reader an apology.  I shouldn’t have publicly shamed them for having an opinion.  So here is my apology:

Take your ignorance and shove it where the sun don’t shine.

As long as I can breathe, I will not apologize for standing up for indie authors.  It is asshats like this reader that make the world a harder place for those of us who work ourselves into a frenzy trying to put out the best books we possibly can and make them affordable.

There are still these hairbrained ideas that indies are trying to destroy the publishing world or that they are trying to ruin established traditionally published authors or that they just mass produce drivel.  None of it is true.

What indie publishing has done is open up the book world to more readers by providing more writers.  As a reader, I have a difficult time finding books that are low on romance and sex scenes, but high on the blood and gore, which is what I prefer to read.  I’m sure Nicholas Sparks is great if you like romance, but I prefer Jack Kilborn (JA Konrath) and his blood soaked, gore fueled, orgies of mass murder.  However, without the ability to indie publish, Konrath’s most violent and bloody stuff would not be available to the public.

I don’t stand up for indies just because I am one.  I stand up for them because I am a reader.  I love to read and for decades, my reading choices have been limited by what publishing houses think they can sell.  Meaning lots of talented authors never put out a single book.  Indie publishing is changing that.

There are some authors that I just can’t stand, indie or not.  However, I will stand up for their right to publish regardless of how much I hate their books.  One author I hate more than Tolstoy, which is saying something, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to publish.  I am one reader.  Others might love the works they put out.  Only individual readers can make a decision about what sucks and what doesn’t.  It is the prerogative of the reader to make those decisions.

However, refusing to pay a small stipend for a book that you might actually love is absurd when the sole reason is that the author is not traditionally published.  I also know that the majority of ebook readers use Kindle.  Amazon does allow for returns of digital books within seven days if you don’t like it.  I don’t like when this system is abused, but I do understand hating a book so much that you feel you wasted your $3.99.  I once got a book for free that I felt was a waste of my money.

Yes, there are flaws.  There are writers who do not publish for the love of writing and sharing their works with the masses.  They do it because if they follow a formula, they can sell books and it’s essentially a get rich quick scheme.  I know others that feel they shouldn’t need to invest in editors and proofers and cover artists and so their best work isn’t really their best work.

But these writers are the exceptions, not the rule.  Most indies publish because we love writing, we are so passionate about it that we want to give the world a chance to judge our work.  We pour our heart and soul into every book and in the end, we are exhausted and second guessing ourselves and hoping we didn’t make a tremendous mistake; chomping our nails and pulling out our hair because maybe it wasn’t the very best we could have made it.

I do not feel I have anything to apologize for… Yes, I shamed a reader.  That reader no doubt read the post and hopefully they felt like an asshat, because they sure as hell acted like one.  At some point, readers are going to have to come to terms with the fact that indie publishing has changed the industry some by offering more variety in authors, book genres, and writing styles that they may never have been exposed to.  This doesn’t make all indies crap writers or fake writers, it just makes them non-traditional writers and sometimes, a little breaking with tradition is a good thing.

It is not our intent to force traditionally published authors and publishing houses to fold under the weight of our variety.  We are simply trying to open up the market to bring in more readers and more authors and more genres and more choices.  Books have been available only at the behest of others for as long as they have existed; first it was the monks who copied manuscripts deemed worthy of repeating, then it was those that owned the actual printing presses, then came the rise of the publishing industry who were selective in their choices and bought only what they thought they could sell… But self publishing gives every writer the opportunity to put their work out to the public and say judge me.  And that is a right that I think every author ought to have.

I Am Not A Thrift Store Owner

Caution: Contains reader shaming and possibly some serious swearing.

I was contacted this weekend by a reader regarding my books.  The reader claimed to have read all The Dysfunctional Chronicles, Dark Cotillion, and the first five Dreams & Reality novels.  The contact was to see when I would be putting Dark Illumination, Dark Resurrections, Dark Legacies, and the other 6 Dreams & Reality novels on sale.  The reader raved about how wonderful each book was and how unique my writing style was and how much they enjoyed reading my work… Even claimed I was their new favorite author.

But refused to pay full price for the other books.  I asked my usual questions about hardships and medical issues and distressing family situations.  None of which applied to the reader.

As a matter of fact, they informed me that the only reason they refused to pay full price was because I was an indie and therefore, not a real writer, so why should they have to pay $3.99 a book?  The most the reader was willing to spend on any indie was $0.99, which is why they had read all the other stuff I had written…

What the fuck!?!  So, after claiming I’m your new favorite writer, you insult me by telling me that I’m not a real writer and as such, you should not be forced to pay the outrageous price of $3.99 for my books… And I’m supposed to be okay with that?

Here’s the thing: I’m a writer, not a thrift store owner.  Occasionally, I do put books on sale.  This is to make it easier for me to attract new readers, readers who want to pay me for my books so I can sit in my pajamas and write more books.  If a reader paid full price for every book I currently have available,  it costs them a total of $53.82.  I make a total of $34.98 (using Amazon’s royalty rates and including the pre-orders for Fortified Dreams).  If I sold every book I wrote for $0.99, I’d make a grand total of $6.30 when someone bought every book I had published.  I would definitely need a day job.

In the end, the reader got huffy with me and I got bitchy back.  Frankly, I’m not all that concerned if they never read another fucking book I put out.  I am concerned with the misconception they seemed to have about me not being a real writer because I’m an indie.  That would be like me telling a chef they were really just a fry cook because they didn’t have their own cooking show or had never beaten Bobby Flay.

And what about all the other great indies that are being ignored because people still feel like this moron about indies?  The best part of indie publishing is that we are, as readers, are no longer limited to what the publishing houses think they can sell.  I have found dozens of talented authors who are self-published because despite they fact that they have excellent books, they just can’t get a publisher to take a risk on them.  Not to mention just attempting to get published is a little bit like shoving yourself through a sausage grinder – there’s agents, query letters, samples, more agents, changes, revisions, more query letters, more samples, and then if you are really really really lucky, someone will say “Hey, I’ll offer you $15,000 in an advance for 3 books to be written in 4 years, you’ll make an 8% royalty rate, that you will only be paid after we have covered the advance, all the release promos, and you’ve sold X amount of books.  Of course, if it flops, we’ll cancel your contract, you can keep the $15,000, but you’ll probably never see another dime because we’ll pull the books off the shelf at some point.”

Did you know the average author makes about $1,000 a year?  This includes indies, hybrids, and traditionally published authors.  Of those reporting themselves as full time authors to the Bureau of Labor, the average is a much more respectable $55,000 a year.  That’s a long way off from what people think we make and why we all consider each book sale important.  Maybe instead of complaining about giving us $3.99 for the five or six hours of entertainment we are providing; stop and think about how long it takes us to actually write, edit, and revise a book, how much it costs to publish it, and consider it a steal?  You’d probably spend five times that to go to a movie and it isn’t going to last nearly as long.  And you’d have to shell out another $19.99 or so to own it on Blu-Ray at a later date.

What Do April Showers Bring?

Shitty ebook sales, at least for me.  Every April, I watch my ebook sales plummet.  I run adverts and special sales, to no avail.  On average, I sell only half the amount of ebooks in April that I sell in other months.

The publishing industry has always said that October is the worst month for book sales.  Not mine.  I can double and sometimes triple my sales in October with a little marketing.  Which is why I’m aiming to get Innocent Dreams out that month.  Releasing a book in October may do amazing things for my sales that month.

In contrast, releasing a book in March does nothing for my April sales.  Next year, I’m going to release a book in April, maybe that will help the sad sales month.  Of course, I’m still hoping to release a book a month in 2017, so…

However, if I start getting feedback that the quality of the books are suffering from this rapid publishing schedule, I will adjust and change it as need be.  I’m not going to let my writing suffer because I took a challenge.

Things I Don’t Care About (But My Email Thinks I Should)

Like most people, I get a ton of spam.  This is particularly true of my Hadena James email account.  It’s sort of public and therefore, it’s a hot bed for spam.  I’ve been having some internet/network problems and some migraine issues the last few days and one of the things I did was catalogue all the spam I was getting.  Here are the top 10 things my email thinks I should care about:

10. Reverse Mortgages on my home (which is actually not owned by me, but by my mother) – I’m not sure I’m old enough for this one anyway.

9.  Male enhancement products – I admit to opening a few of these, just to see what they were.  From penis pumps to rhino horn, you can click a link to buy just about anything (I would strongly recommend not doing that).

8.  Female enhancement products – again, I had to look at a few, never know what the adult entertainment world is going to come out with next.  There is actually a device you can buy to make your nipples larger, temporarily.  You can also buy fake nipples, but I knew that from watching Sex and the City.  They also now have nipple implants.  It seems we are very focused on nipples nowadays.

7.  Beauty Tips from Cindy Crawford – All those knockout models from the 80’s and 90’s are still looking pretty good, but let’s be totally honest, I can’t take tips from the woman who sells me Avon.  The few times I’ve tried, I looked like a very badly made up transvestite.

6.  Political Adverts – I don’t care what side of the fence you normally stand and vote on, to each their own.  However, our current political candidates seem to be filming an episode of Jackass.  In the end, Trump is going to win and we are all going to scratch our heads and wonder what happened to the real candidates.

5.  Kim Kardashian Sex Tape – I am still not sure I know who she is.  For some reason, I think she has a kid named North West, which isn’t quite as bad as Pilot Inspektor, but there was still room for improvement.  I have no idea why I want to watch her homemade porn.  For that matter, I wouldn’t watch Jason Lee’s homemade porn video either, but at least I know who he is.

4.  Book Marketing Tips from the Masters – This sounds like a good idea, until you realize that it’s going to cost you $1,000 to get these tips and frankly, what works for them, may not work for me.  As a matter of fact, with the exception of every April, I do pretty well without that $1,000 investment.  April has sucked every year that I have published though, so I don’t take it personally.

3.  Health Facts about Juicing – I have never had a desire to juice anything.  Sending me the recipe for banana, kale, radish, leek, and cucumber juice does not scintillate my taste buds at the mere mention.  Furthermore, I’m not shelling out the $300 for the juicer they keep telling me I can’t live without.  I’ve done okay for 35 years without it.  I think I can survive another 35, unless I start drinking banana, kale, radish, leek, and cucumber juice.

2.  Come Join FarmerOnly.com or Match.com or EHarmony.com or blahblah.com – I’m not married, but I am in a relationship.  I did not find him on any of these sites.  And let’s be honest, Farmersonly.com does not want me… I’m a city girl .  I did have a cowboy interested in me once when I was in high school.  The interest vanished when he discovered I liked to write dark, creepy stories about ghosts, demons, serial killers, and things that go bump in the night.

and 1… Learn Melissa McCarthy’s secret to losing 75 pounds! – I love Melissa.  She cracks me up.  My first introduction to her was through Gilmore Girls.  Imagine my shock and surprise when I watched Identity Thief, the first movie I had seen of hers.  That woman says things that just boggle my mind.  Her characters are always so different from Sookie St. James.  I’m beginning to believe she’s a little more like Tammy than Sookie.  It’s great that she lost weight.  However, I don’t care how she did it.  I just intend to watch her next movie and more episodes of Gilmore Girls.  For the record, Spy was awesome!!  Her and Statham really made that movie work.

That wraps up my spam email summary for the last week.  It’s amazing the things people will peddle with spam.

Today Of All Days

 

Migraine – Check!

Tree Trimmers working on my road – Check!

My dog going nuts because of the trucks, equipment, and strangers in and out of our driveway – Check!

 

I feel like the Wicked Witch of the West”What a world!”

And I refused to answer two calls this morning.  The first had the number (666) 666-6666 and about five minutes later, I got a call from 00000000 (not enough numbers there guys).

I Was Going To Be Nice, But The Button Broke

Remember the Staples commercials with the Easy Button?  Someone I know definitely needs one of them.  Primarily to remove a coworker from her space every time they invade.  I wrote a post about coworkers earlier this month, here’s a second and the reason why.

Diplomacy is a great thing, especially in an office environment.  If one is good at diplomacy, it allows for smooth working conditions even when the people involved do not necessarily like each other.

However, there is a limit to how much you can give to an annoying coworker who can’t take a hint.  It’s so bad, I’ve even been shown some of the messages they exchange and the coworker in question is annoying even on instant messenger.  I found them annoying and they weren’t even to me.

They tap on my friend’s chair.  They randomly invade her cubicle, even when there’s a sign on the wall saying she’s in a conference call.  If she doesn’t instantly reply to a message, she gets six more asking why she’s not answering.  If she takes a day off, they want to know why they weren’t informed (not her boss and she’s not theirs) and what my friend was doing.  They read her computer screens over her shoulder.  They invade her personal bubble of space.  And they always want to talk about their spouse and why my friend isn’t married, doesn’t drink coffee, doesn’t have kids, doesn’t want to go to lunch every day, etc.  It’s as if the coworker is being intentionally annoying.

So, when and where do you draw that line between being diplomatic and telling one of those people to take a long walk off a cliff – preferably, with a noose around their neck?  No one wants the title of Office Bitch, but a person can only take so much and it’s every day, all day.   How do we tell people they annoy us to the point that we can only think of ways to kill them when they come into our sphere of being?

 

C.A. Milson

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