Hey, Moderator! Ban Me!

Yes. I mean what I say there. Go ahead. Ban me.

It probably won’t happen because I don’t use Yahoo mail. Apparently, people with Yahoo mail have had their email addresses “spoofed” by spammers. This is not an uncommon thing in this day and age. It happens a lot to people who a) put their email addresses out there on websites and such regularly, b) it happens to people who have gotten a virus, and c) it happens to people who use those free POP3 mail accounts like Yahoo and Gmail.

A lot of authors, readers, and others on Yahoo groups have had their Yahoo mail accounts send out spam recently. The spam is being sent, not to individual people so much as it’s being sent out to the Yahoo groups. Most groups have rules about spam and will ban you if you do it.

But here’s my problem with that rule: Usually, when something like this occurs, it’s not the fault of the person whose email address was spoofed. It could happen to anyone who has a Yahoo mail account.

Banning the person doesn’t make a lot of sense when it was something they didn’t do on purpose. Groups whose mods and owners get obnoxious and ban these victims show incredible ignorance. I would prefer not to be on a group with someone who doesn’t understand how technology works and uses a situation like this to be mean. Also, if all the groups start banning their members who have been spoofed, pretty soon they won’t have too many members because most of them use Yahoo mail, Gmail, and Hotmail.

The other problem I have with this witch hunt attitude is that I’ve seen mods and owners turn a blind eye to authors who spam and promo outside the rules of the group. Those are their favored authors I suppose, but to me, a rule is a rule. If you are not the owner, you shouldn’t be breaking the rules and allowed to get away with it.

I see a lot of posts that start with “I’m sorry if you feel this is promo but…” and then they promo something. The mods might email the person after and delete the message from the group’s web interface, but those who use email to receive their Yahoo group messages (the majority of us) have already gotten the message and deleting it is closing the barn door after the horse has bolted.

And what about those people who break the rules of one or two promo posts allowed per day? I can’t tell you how many authors I’ve seen break this rule. I have my Spam filter set to put anything from them directly into the Spam folder. It’s rude. And it’s hugely annoying. I don’t want to read five sexy excerpts from the same 20K book every day on 50 loops for weeks on end. I’ve read more than a quarter of it with those excerpts! I understand posting one or two promos on every group that allows promo that day, but c’mon. Some of the stuff I see is just nuts. Those authors aren’t getting more readers, they are growing their list of readers and authors who have them on auto-delete.

Another thing about all this that gets old is the litany of emails from half the group telling each other that the Spam email is a Spam email. C’mon. Give it up. One or two people announcing it is all you need. Do you think we can’t read? That you have to reiterate it over and over? I rather think I have enough brain cells to figure this out without the endless repetition.

Okay, I’m about to step off my ranty little soap box here in a moment, but before I do, I want to encourage those of you who have been banned and/or spoken to in a mean, obnoxious, and unnecessarily harsh manner by a group mod, to NOT FEEL BAD. You are better off out of a group run by someone who is ignorant and arrogant. If they cannot behave professionally and courteously, you don’t need to be there. I don’t care how “popular” they currently are. Popularity can wane and situations like there where someone you thought was sweet turns into a virago are often catalysts to the decline of their popularity.

If you feel I’ve been a little more ranty than usual, you’re probably right. However, I rather think I have more to back my opinion in this than others do. You see, I’m an IT professional and have been for almost 16 years. Companies PAY ME to be a tech and run their network. I have to know how this stuff works.  And yanno, I wouldn’t have been a Network Admin for this long had I not made it a point to know my job and do it well.

So, go ahead and ban me all you mods and group owners who feel free to become obnoxious over the spamming stuff that’s going on with Yahoo mail and Yahoo groups. Go ahead and take me off your groups. I don’t really want to see your meanness and your ignorance anyway. It just makes me disgusted at the state of mankind and humanity. And all of you who have been banned for this spam attack, feel free to email me. I’ll tell you about some groups where the owners and mods are not only educated about this sort of stuff, but who have a hell of a lot more compassion for their fellow man than these mean people do.

Christmas in Your Heart

At Sunlight Sucks I talked about how sometimes the best Christmases are the ones in your heart. Since my focus here is always writing, I tried to figure out how to tie that theme to my work. Not hard to do since it’s Christmas Eve and I’m slaving away on a free book for fans of the Darkworld. But the theme seems to have crept into the writing too and as I neared the end I found myself writing the following dedication.


For Ross Harrison Koty,
who nearly fell out his bathroom window throwing his boots onto the roof, who put ashy boot prints on his pristine white tile, and who put up with a Disney themed Christmas tree in his bachelor pad… all to make a little girl believe in Santa.

And for the many Tales fans.
Thank you from the depths of my heart.

This freebie is for the people who love this series. It’s not a standalone Christmas story at all. If you haven’t read the other books you’ll have no idea who these characters are. As for the other dedication… he won’t ever read this free story. In fact, I doubt that I will ever speak with him again and that makes me sad. He brought a lot of light into a very dark life. Two very dark lives. But I don’t matter nearly as much as my daughter does. He gave from his heart and made her life better. I wish he still spoke with her so he could share in her excitement as she starts at the Art Institute. He’s an artist too, but with a camera. I’m sure one of the reasons she loves art so much is because he gave her an appreciation of it at a young age.

At any rate, I digress to the personal and that’s not really what this blog is about. So going back to the writing, the tie in is that when you write you sometimes have to draw from the well of your personal emotions and experiences. In this free story, every character assesses Christmas and what it means in their heart. Hence, the title Holiday Hearts.

I created the cover art for this book and I wanted it to be Christmas red but still warm and welcoming with a sense of the Darkworld. I think the fire in the shape of heart reminds us that the main characters are dragon shifters. I know that the cover seems warm to me so I hope that it is for you too.

And so, I drew from the Christmases of my heart to bring you this story and cover. I hope that when it’s up (later tonight or tomorrow) that you will download it and find it to be enjoyable. When you read, you should remember all the people in your life who did something like Ross did. Remember the special something they did to make you believe… and then relive that Christmas from your heart.

Merry Christmas, from my heart to yours.

Who Are You?

Tell me authors, do you pretend to be something other than who you really are when you’re talking to fans and other authors online? I’m not talking about pen names. I’m talking about the essentials. Do you tell people you’re in your twenties when you have grandkids? Do you act like you’re a sexual warrior when you’ve only ever had sex with your hubby? Do you portray yourself – give others an image of you – that is patently false? And why do you think it’s okay to lie to your fellow authors and your fans online? People you talk to every day, people you interact with regularly, people whom you have ostensibly made friends with? Why is okay to not tell them who you are?

I don’t know how many of you have discovered that the author you’ve been regularly chatting with online is not what he/she tells you they are. I know I’ve found out the truth about a couple of authors who portray themselves as something far from the truth of their lives.  In one case, it meant nothing because I had invested nothing. I just chalked that person up as a liar. In the other case, I felt used. Now, why should I or anyone else feel used or think of these people as liars? It’s the internet. Everyone lies there, or so I’m told, as if that makes lying to people a-okay.  Why would you feel used?

1blowkisses2The truth in my world is this: People who talk to you on a regular basis, who interact with you daily on groups and IM and Twitter, are people you begin to develop a relationship with. In any relationship, you should be truthful about yourself or someone’s feelings will get hurt and the relationship thus becomes damaged. If you consider these people your friends, why wouldn’t you tell them the truth? Why would you say you are a man if you are a woman? Why would you say you’re 25 if you are 50? Do you think your fellow authors and your fans won’t love you if you are a 50 year old woman instead of a 25 year old man? Don’t you think that the strength of your writing would hold up with them? If you don’t think your writing is good enough to capture them without you lying about who you are, what does that say about your work and your dedication to the craft?

I use a pen name. That’s not to say that there aren’t people out there who know who I am, where I live, where I work, and what my real name is. There are LOTS of people who know those things about me. And who I am when I talk to you on the loops is who I am if you were talking to me in my living room or the parking lot at Staples. I don’t mind divulging my age. I don’t mind telling you about my latest problems with my kid or my DH. There are some things I hold back, but I would hold those things back from most people anyway.  I am an open and honest individual and I want my fans and readers to know who crafted the characters they love. I want my fellow authors to see me as a forthright, honest, fair-minded person who has no qualms sending out a goodie bag with my return address on it nor any qualms speaking my mind.

Those of you who hide behind lies about who you are inside and who make yourself out to be something you are not just in the hope of getting more sales… I feel sorry for you. I am more inclined to buy books from an author known for his/her ferocious honesty than one who makes up a persona just to sell books.

So yeah. I think that about covers my thought for the day. What are your thoughts on made up personas?


Fans or Thieves?

What do you do when someone loves you so much that they feel the need to share you with everyone? By share I mean give away. If you’re kinda stumped by what I’m saying, you’ll understand in a minute.

Someone is a big fan of Lex Valentine. This person loves Lex so much that they apparently bought all three of the Tales books that are out currently. It’s very flattering. Well, it would be if it weren’t for Google Alerts. Google Alerts showed me where this fan posted all three of my books on one of those pirate message boards. This person apparently loves Lex’s books soooo much that they even went to the trouble of copying the review blurbs from each book’s page here at LexValentine.com to ensure that the board members would be interested in the books.

Wow. They must really love me to want to share me with the world like that.

nopriratesSome of my author pals asked if I pissed. I’m not. I’m incredibly sad. I’m not so stupid that I think we can eradicate the world of thieves and pirates who take money from our pockets by giving away our copyrighted works. I’m just really sad that someone would buy my books and love them so much that they just HAD to give them away to everyone else. This person made doubly sure that people would download those pirated copies by putting up all my glowing reviews.

I’m very sad to say that I don’t think that’s a true fan. I give away lots of copies of my books. More than I should probably. It’s really easy to win one of my contests actually. I never made it difficult. Yet, this person still felt the need to do this.

If too many of my “fans” do this, you may not see any more Lex Valentine books. Know why? It’s because I use the royalties I receive from my books to keep my computer up and running. Without a computer, there are no more books.

More pirates = less royalties = no money to fix computer when it breaks = no books from Lex.

It almost makes me want to just stay at The Bar Story. Almost. I know I have fans that are not like this fan. I know they understand that I live paycheck to paycheck, supporting a family of three and a lot of furbabies. I have a kid in college and a DH with dependency issues. I have health issues. And there is never enough money to go around.

So if you happen to know a fan who gives away my books because the books are so awesome they just can’t help themselves, let that person know that they are bringing about the eventual demise of Lex Valentine. Maybe then they won’t like me so much that they have to copy from my website and distribute my work for free.


Learning From Mistakes

There are lessons to be learned from any mistake. If you can learn them from the mistakes of others without suffering emotionally and financially yourself, that is a plus for you. I doubt those who are suffering from these mistakes would begrudge you learning from their pain.

How eager are you to be published? Do you burn to have something accepted? How far will you go to “make it”? There’s been so much out there lately about warning signs from publishers: poor editing, late payments, and other stuff. Sure, it’s a dream come true to get published, but do you want that at any cost? Or are you willing to pay your dues and learn more about the craft, do your homework about the places you submit your work to, and perhaps shelve your dream for just a little while until your work is good enough for a worthy publisher to take?

If any of my words hit home with you today, read these articles and the comments. The pain these authors suffered will not be in vain if you and I and others learn from their mistakes. The last link has advice and info for those who are or have been caught in the crossfire of bad pubs.

If you take away anything from these links and posts, you should take away the knowledge that your desperation to be published is chum for sharks so you’re better off learning patience now and saving your limbs (your manuscripts) from the razor sharp jaws of the unscrupulous.

Karen Knows Best – E-Publisher Does a Runner and Screws Her Authors

EREC – Smokey Moon

EREC – Considering Smoke

Mary Winter – Recovering From Publisher Issues

That bit above was an article type post that I wrote and posted to some Yahoo groups this morning. It was a news-style commentary on what’s been going on in this industry. From a personal perspective, as a relatively new author on the epub scene, my next words to you are not much different.

I went at this “getting pubbed” thing full bore late in August 2008. Yes, only last year. However, no matter how driven I was, I had the patience to be cautious where I subbed my work. I waited an entire 6 months for Cobblestone to give me thumbs up for The Pixie Prince. I wanted to be pubbed, but I was not so desperate for it that I sent my work to places that didn’t strike me as completely on the up and up. If the pub pinged my beware-dar, I steered clear.

I had been encouraged to submit my work to a new epub by some people who were very enthused about them. When I started digging into the stories and articles about them, my beware-dar went off. I read things that told me I would not be comfortable sending them my work. So I didn’t. Had I been desperate to be pubbed I probably would have. But I’d been looking around and listening to authors I knew who were at places like Liquid Silver and Cobblestone and EC. I gave this new epub a wide berth for several reasons and I am glad I did.

I went with Pink Petal Books for a reason too. Mary is a very solid author who has been with a lot of pubs. She has a sound business model, is very ethical, and a hard worker. Yes, PPB is a newer pub, but Mary isn’t cramming it down everyone’s throat in a big media blitz of “Oooh, lookit me! I’m the next big thing!” She has been careful and methodical about her company’s growth. She takes care of her authors, encouraging them and nurturing them. She was just as happy for me that I got that Cobblestone contract as she was to receive Fire Season’s first draft in her email. She cares about the people who trust her enough to send her their babies. THAT is the kind of small pub I don’t mind giving my work to.

Yes, I’m on a mission toward the big houses (Loose ID and Samhain), but I will always give PPB my work too. The owner has earned my respect, loyalty, and friendship. I can count on her and in this industry that is something seemingly harder and harder to find.

Please pass this post and these links to any authors and would be authors you feel would benefit from it.