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It’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to.

Maybe it’s because it’s cloudy.

Maybe it’s because it’s cold.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t been able to afford to travel anywhere in 3 years.

Maybe it’s because of the publishing scandal du jour. Cockygate, the ebookbike thief, bookstuffing, book recycling, click farms, whatever Amazon is doing this week, whatever is exploding across my Facebook writing groups right now (you know something is.)

Maybe it’s because my last book sold 2 copies.

2 copies.

Total.

Wait, I think that’s it. The two copy thing.

For the past few…several months, I have been fighting a terrific writer’s block. I have started new projects, revisited old projects, and worked on rebranding existing books in the hopes that they would start to sell. I have lots of ideas. Stories I really want to tell. Characters who really deserve their Happily Ever After. But without a little encouragement, why?

Why?

I don’t think anyone owes me anything. I know that writing is a gamble, but you have to understand how painful it is when a story breaks about an author mosaic plagiarizing books and making lots of money while distracting readers from your books because she’s a better marketer than you are. Even if she had written crappy books and been a better marketer so she sold more, I would have felt better about it. (Still bad, but less bad since it was her own work. Besides, that happens all the time. Everybody is a better marketer than I am.) But no, this author stole other people’s work and hoodwinked hundreds of readers out of their cash, while people tell me they don’t buy books because they’re too expensive, but her stolen books cost more than mine. My books are also well written, properly edited, nice covers (most of them, the football books were an experiment, a bad one) and get good reviews so the people who have read them generally love them.

Then the other day, a friend of mine, who I knew wasn’t doing great, but I still aspired to her level of okay, asked online for suggestions of part time jobs. She isn’t making enough money to meet her expenses anymore. She’s a savvy marketer. She has a couple of income streams. She’s a freaking bestseller. If she can’t make it, what in hell hope do I have?

Or should I just shutter the whole enterprise? Quit writing, at least for publication. Put my energy into teaching English online to kids in China or working for Head Start.

Maybe I’ll just take this blog entry down because all the marketing gurus say it’s not my brand to be discouraged.

Don’t let them see you sweat.

Or cry.

Not even when your most recent release sold 2 copies.

Video Friday: Hula

I did belly dance for a while so I understand what it takes to dance in a style similar to this. It’s harder than it looks and I am not surprised that hula dancers have problems with their knees and ankles. It all looks so beautiful though. I can see why they do it.

What I’m Watching: Lilo And Stitch

Lilo & Stitch (Two-Disc Big Wave Edition)You knew I was watching this. I quoted it in Love Me Do. I taught kindergarten.

Okay, to be fair, I ignored this movie for a long time, but eventually my love of Disney movies won out and the dark themes in this one are right up my alley. I remember the first time I watched it sitting there with my mouth open thinking, they seriously made a movie where the main conflict is that the child is going to be removed by Children’s Protective Services? Really? What kind of kids’ cartoon is this? It really is way beyond Bambi’s mom getting shot. That was a deer. This is a little girl. And Stitch’s PTSD? That was a whole ‘nother layer. Not all Disney movies are for kids. This one and Hunchback for sure. And they are both beautiful. If you haven’t seen it, do. It you have, watch it again from an adult perspective. You won’t be sorry.

 

Love Me Do Is Here!

 

 

 

 

It’s here! Here’s another excerpt to whet your appetite. Mak’s dad takes a tumble and Jami goes to the hospital where she encounters his entire extended family, not all of whom are happy to see her. The whole subplot of Mak’s family wanting him to marry Shona came about because after I came home from the UAE I went out with a guy I had grown up with. That was his agenda. “We should get married.” “Our mothers would be so happy.” Romantic, huh? For the record neither of the aforementioned mothers said anything to me, but he literally took me to a jewelry store on our one and only date. He was married six months later. I am still sure I did not make a mistake turning him down. So you can see how I feel for Mak in this scene.

 

Excerpt:

“I don’t know what you did to get gramps on your side, but thanks.” Mak unlocked the passenger door of his car.

“Your father is all right?”

“He took a spill down the stairs of the church.” He held the door for her.

“After his AA meeting.” Jami turned before she climbed onto the seat.

He had his arm propped on the window. He hung his head, letting his hair swing across his eyes like it was all too much.

“Mak?” Jami brushed her fingers across his forehead, pushing his hair out of the way. Tired. So tired. “He’s okay.”

“I know.” His jaw flexed. “I’ll take you back to the spa. What were you doing with Kai?”

Jami climbed into the seat. His entire family was gathered at the hospital so getting away was probably a good idea. When he climbed behind the steering wheel she said, “He was teaching me to surf. Are you mad that I came?”

“Why would I be mad?”

“It looked like a family thing and I’m a haole.”

He glanced at her, one eyebrow raised. “Aunt Lola said something, didn’t she? She was pretty invested in me getting together with Shona. She’s good friends with Shona’s mom. They both want to solve a problem they have.”

“You and Shona?”

“Yeah. She’s got kids and no husband. I’ve got no wife and a father who needs attention. Kill two birds with one wedding.”

Jami stared out the windshield. A problem very much like her own. “Is that why you hired Shona to work for you?”

Mak sighed and shook his head. “Jesus, this is a small island. I hired Shona so she could get on her feet. I’m not marrying a woman just because my family thinks it’s a good idea.”

Jami stiffened. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing, wh—” He glanced at her. “Sorry. I wasn’t thinking. It’s been a rough afternoon.”

Jami clasped her hands in her lap. “You came home to take care of your dad though.”

“Of course, I did. You have no idea what it was like. I got the call in the middle of the afternoon that my dad had been in a surfing accident and had to be flown to Honolulu to the hospital there. It took me a full day to get here.” He clutched the steering wheel. “I shouldn’t have left him alone.”

“You had a job.”

“I also have a father who I could have lost because I wasn’t here.”

 

 

 

 

Video Friday: Love Me Do

Okay, I screwed up. I was so sure that “love me do” was the second line of Love Me Tender that I made it the title of the next book in the Hollywood Nights series. It’s not. Which is awkward because the next book in the series is All My Dreams Fulfilled. Well, we’re running with it now and I like the Beatles better anyway.

 

 

What I’m reading: Runway Runaway

Runway RunAway A Backstage Pass to Fashion, Romance & Rock 'N Roll by [Shellist, Lorelei]

This is an excellent book as much for the perspective of losing a loved one to drugs and alcohol as for the backstage glimpses of some of the biggest bands—er—ever. Ms. Shellist’s book is one my go tos when I am writing because she’s been through it or watched it. She’s also a lovely woman who continues to work for the causes she believes in while maintaining amazing access. (She was at this year’s Oscars. Did you catch a glimpse of a lady wearing a dress with a long leopard print skirt on the arm of a man in a red jacket?) I notice that it’s in KU now, so if you have that, you can read it for free and it will be well worthwhile.

What I’m Watching: Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: The Disappearing Game

The Aurora Teagarden Mysteries - 3 Film Collection Two (Last Scene Alive/Reap What You Sew/The Disappearing Game)I am a sucker for Hallmark movies and these mystery series are so fun. My favorite is either the Garage Sale Mysteries or Murder She Baked, but Ro is rapidly winning my heart. Ro, short for Aurora, is a librarian who belongs to a club that likes to talk about historical murders—and she bumps into a lot of dead bodies.

In The Disappearing Game Ro’s nephew and his roommate disappear and Ro searches for him. The geek moment in this one came when Ro’s best friend Sally had a scene with the roommate’s mother. Why was this so geekworthy? Sally is played by Lexa Doig who played Dr. Lam on Stargate SG-1. The roommate’s mother was played by Teryl Rothery who played Dr. Janet Frasier on Stargate SG-1. Not only were the both on Stargate, one replaced the other as base doctor. EEEEEEE!

However, I have tried to watch this movie twice and managed to fall asleep for the resolution of the mystery. Seriously, I have fallen asleep for the exact same 5 minutes both times. How does that even happen? It’s not that it’s not a great story and very engaging, I just tend to be watching at nearly bedtime and nod off. Arg!

I guess I’ll have to watch it again.

Amazon

Love Me Do available for pre-order

Could you use a little warmth? In Love Me Do, Jami (remember the assistant who Sarina was so frustrated by in Love Me Tender?) is trying to decide if she wants to stay in with Perry Publicity or not. And she’s doing it in Hawaii. Because why not? She meets Makoa in the little bar he’s running for his father. He had a life and a job he loved in New York, but when his father sobered up, he came home to take over. These are two people in search of a happily ever after in paradise, and it’s got my signature recovery angle.

Pre-order now

 

 

 

Of Snow Storms, Plagiarism, and The Walking Dead

Last week was a really crap week. The weather went from cold to warm to cold to warm again so I had migraines tag teaming with sinus headaches so that I had one day when I didn’t want to peel my face off. I went grocery shopping and forgot my list. During the crazy weather ups and downs, we had a very short blizzard. It started snowing at about 6 and stopped about 9. During that short period we got 4 inches of snow which made the roads messy and everybody cranky. I went to Home Depot to get supplies to finally finish my kitchen backsplash and for the first time ever there, had a hard time getting help. When I finally did get help it was lackluster.

And then there was the plagiarism.

If you haven’t heard, a best selling “author” was revealed to have plagiarized large portions of her books from (when I stopped following) 29 authors including Nora Roberts, Courtney Milan, and Michelle Pillow. (I’m feeling a little left out, actually. What? My books aren’t good enough to plagiarize?) She gave ghostwriters a collection of scenes and lines and asked them to knit them together into a cohesive story which she marketed as her own ultimately landing her on the USA Today Bestseller List.

Now, there’s a lot to unpack there.

For several years now it has been “good practice” to publish fast by hiring ghostwriters to write your books. Romance readers are voracious, we were told. To stay on top you must publish fast. I watched a video series that promised to make me a Amazon All Star. It turned out to be a lead up to get me to buy a system that included a website, the names of some top ghost writers, and a list of keywords that would launch me onto bestseller lists. I felt a bit sick when i finished that video series. The whole idea of somebody else writing the book and me just selling it seems cheap. The writing is the fun part. If you just want to be a marketer, there are millions of things to get into. Luluroe for instance. And if you want to sell something you make, try beading jewelry or planner stuff.

This cheat compounded her sin by stealing other writers work. I said before that the writing is the fun part, but when I say fun I don’t mean WooHoo! PAR-TAY! fun. It’s more like making a great meal fun or remodeling a room fun. It’s a lot of hard work, but when you’re finished there’s something in the world that wasn’t there before. By plagiarizing, this cheat skipped all the fun part, and the satisfyingly hard part, by taking other people’s work. It’s sort of like if somebody nicked part of your paycheck without giving you anything in return and used it to buy a lottery ticket that won her millions, which she claims are entirely hers.

And this doesn’t just hurt the writers she stole from. It hurts the readers. We buy books from a particular author because we like the kinds of stories they write or we like their sense of humor or we like the way they turn a phrase. Whatever. If you have a stable of ghostwriters cranking out books frankensteined from bestsellers of years past then you aren’t getting a consistent voice or story. You aren’t getting a gourmet burger made entirely of beef from one cow on a bun baked with flour from an independent, organic farmer, you’re getting a McDonald’s rip off using “beef” that might be from China and might contain 10% cardboard on a bun that has more in common with Styrofoam than bread. I might have gotten carried away there, but my point is valid. When you follow an author, you do it because you like their writing, not the writing they can steal or have someone else do for them. When they cheat, when they break that trust, a casual reader will move on to movies or video games. A serious reader will retreat to reliable names and reread rather than try anyone new meaning great new writers will never get their break (and might move on to movies or video games instead of spending months writing a book.)

Now a big part of this problem is KU. Between exclusivity and bonuses for top earners, KU encourages gaming their system while trapping honest writers into a system that makes it very hard for them to win. And there are alternatives.

Scribd and Playster are both subscription services like KU. I have books on both and if I got more business from them, I would make a point to get the rest on there. So would a lot of other authors.

So last week pretty much sucked.

But, one of my students who has math anxiety was entertained by my story about figuring out the area of my backsplash and it really brought home to her that she’s not the only one who struggles with math. I got to spend the week hanging out at my friend’s house watching her dogs while she was in New Zealand. My handyman patched my butler’s pantry ceiling and my kitchen ceiling and fixed the leak in my tub so I’ll once again be able to take a bath. My boss gave me chocolate. I got to catch up on The Walking Dead (and it’s getting back to the creepy goodness it used to be.) And the kids I tutor for the court were well behaved and are making progress. So it wasn’t all bad.