What You Know

Sometimes, not just in this industry, but everywhere, what you know is because of who you know. I learned a lot about reading contracts and understanding trademarks when we worked with a team of trademark attorneys in West Los Angeles on domains and branding and trademarks for a company. The jargon isn’t hard to get if you break it down into bits instead of reading and trying to get it all at once.

writing-300x298As an author, you do yourself a mighty disservice if you get excited to receive a contract and don’t read AND understand what you signed. There are a lot of authors in this industry who have been ripped off and hurt when a publisher closed it’s doors. There are lots of authors hurt every royalty payout day because they signed a contract that gave the publisher the right to basically charge that author for the cost of doing business.

What you know – or rather what you don’t know – about your publisher and their business practices and their contract clauses can hurt you. Maybe not today, but at some time it could. If you get a contract, and you don’t know what those clauses mean, you need to ask someone who does. Not someone at that house, but an independent someone. Find out the truth. Know who and what you are dealing with before you give your baby – your manuscript – into their keeping. Make sure you know how much of that cover price you are entitled to or whether most of it will go to the publisher for things like their credit card fees and shipping costs.

Take a run over here to Mary Winter’s blog where she shows you what kinds of clauses in a contract are huge red flags for an author. This blog post could save you money and heartache. I advise you to read it, bookmark it, and use it as a guide to helping you discover what you should know.

lexname

Lip Service

Traveling the Yahoo loops that all authors need to travel these days in order to promo their work has become a challenge for me. Before I get into the reasons for that, let me backtrack to some workshops given on the Noble Romance group over the past few weeks.

sunday-125Noble is the publisher for my book The Wise Guy. I decided to try for one of the open slots in their Child of the Week series because all of the other authors were multi-pubbed, fairly well known in these circles, and mostly – if not all – were Cobblestone authors too. Those of you who are familiar with me and my work know that I have a submission in at Cobblestone. In fact, it’s been there 164 days I think. Since the 15th of October. I thought this series would be a great opportunity for me since although I had three contracts under my belt at the time I sent in a proposal for The Wise Guy, I had yet to have a release.

Just prior to release day, the seven authors in this series had a little discussion about a big release day promo that included all of the authors. The little discussion got a little heated. Well, maybe not heated but uncomfortable. The upshot was no promo went off with all authors in attendance. Everyone did their own thing and although I showed at one of the events I frankly just kinda felt left out in the cold while other authors who weren’t in the series were showcased as part of this promo. Now, granted, I suppose I could have asked to be included, but I’m the noob here. I don’t always do what I should in part because of ignorance and in part because I don’t want to feel like or be perceived as some arrogant buttinsky.

Anyway, a month later Noble starts these workshops on their Yahoo group. I had my day in the sun talking about making trailers and the power of branding and social media. The following weekend was a workshop on similar stuff… and promo. Now, when someone tells me that in order to do well as an author, I should be spending four hours a day on promo… do you realize how many flies I caught in my open mouth? To begin with, I don’t have four hours a day. I worked a 50 hour week last week and those kinds of weeks aren’t going to go away for the foreseeable future. For another, HELLO! I need to freaking WRITE!

Being told that about promo and making it as an author kinda put my panties in a bunch because yanno, I already have this really big soapbox that I get on regarding people who can’t write very well, are hand held by editors through five rounds of edits, and still end up with a book whose plot is kinda MEH, or those people who go to publishers that don’t really edit. I’m tired of buying books where the best part was the blurb and excerpt I saw on the groups. Because I’ve been burned in this fashion a few times in the past, there are publishers I will not buy from and will not sub to. I buy from them only if they put out something by an author I know delivers. And yeah, I did read those Dear Author posts that had everyone howling. And yeah, I did see some of what Jane from DA posted on Twitter on a Friday night recently. I had already decided that house wasn’t for me long before all the DA stuff came out. Maybe things will change with them and me, but for now I know who I want to sub to and I’m not deviating from that list.

All of that being said, if you believe the four hours a day of promo thing… that means all the stay at home moms are the only authors selling. Which, if I’m being snarky, makes sense in the whole scheme of things whereby I buy these books I see in promo on the groups because they seem like they would be great. I open em and read em, find them to be MEH and weeks later I see em winning awards. Maybe I better put the soapbox away now…

Despite the fact that I cannot promo for four hours every day, I know I can write well. I’ve been told this by people who would know. And I’ve been told this by countless readers on the groups when I have promo’d. Hordes of people have told me how great my excerpts and blurbs are. Most of them were glowing in their enthusiasm for my writing… most of them said they couldn’t wait to buy my books. Yet, according to my royalty statements… they have waited. And here is the crux of my rant.

lips1aLip service. These people paid me lip service on those groups. At least a hundred or more of them… giving me lip service. This is like being fucked in the ass with only the promise of lube (that never materializes) and no damned reacharound either.

I’m an honest person. If I don’t like something or it doesn’t sound like my kind of book, I try to find something positive to say anyway. But that positive thing is NEVER “I can’t wait to buy your book!” when I have no intentions of buying your book.

I’ve become hideously cynical about the groups now. Yeah, I promo. Not a lot and I really don’t think it’s going to make a huge difference. There are people who say, “Oh, you just need to join three dozen group blogs and post to them to get your name out!” Well, I happen to think that isn’t any different than the groups. Yes, I do belong to the Flirty Author Bitches, but that’s not about promo for me. It’s about having a venue to talk about stuff that we got slammed on the groups for talking about. My own group, Tales of the Darkworld, really has no rules because it’s just starting up and we don’t do anything formally yet. And I just think a lot of the group stuff is… lip service.

I just want people to tell me the truth. And if they are interested in my books, I’d like them to show that by purchasing them. But don’t tell me in droves how wonderful I am, and what a big star I’m going to be, and how awesome my excerpts are, and how my stuff is going to the top of your TBB list… when you DON’T MEAN IT. By that I mean, you don’t put your money where your mouth is and buy the book and read it.

I’m sure someone will slam me for this post too. I’m sure they’ll say I’m asking people to buy my books. Yet, isn’t that what promo is? And I’m not asking people to buy my books with this post. I’m asking them to stop lying to me. Stop telling me you’ll buy it when you have no intention of buying it. Stop giving me lip service. I’d rather have your honesty so that my royalty statements aren’t a surprise. If a hundred people hadn’t sworn up and down they were gonna buy my books I wouldn’t have expected to see 50 sales on my statement. When I didn’t see 50 sales, I realized that the stinging sensation I had was my chapped butt cheeks from all the lip service.

Do me and all the other authors out there a favor… stop the lip service. You’ll save yourself some needless typing and you’ll stop getting people’s expectations up for nothing. I just want what I am prepared to give in return… honesty.

Have a happy Easter-Zombie weekend.

lexname

Inspiration

This isn’t just a post about inspiration. First I have some news. The Wise Guy is done and has gone to my editor! YAY! Also, I’ve taken a job as a Submissions Editor for a publisher. And… I have covers for Shifting Winds and Hot Water.  I’m not going to post the covers yet because they don’t have the publisher’s logo on them yet. Once they are complete, I will post them on this site, the Tales of the Darkworld site, and I’ll revise my trailers to include them… maybe. Not sure on the trailers yet.

So, now I wanna talk about inspiration. Someone asked me recently what inspired me. I find that lots of things do: other stories and books, other authors’ characters, my friends, the Bar writers and their stories, pictures, news, things I see and hear every day… and some times, just stuff in my head. Memories, wishes, daydreams, night dreams… You get the picture.

Really, inspiration can from from the least little thing. I was in a Talking Two Lips chat with the authors and publisher of MLR Press. They were talking about the I Do anthology (something I’ll be blogging about again soon) and how they should do another antho… this time maybe on… ghosts! I said, I can do that. And I started to get an idea… The publisher threw out the submission guidelines. Then she said oh, how about 20K, due in August, published around Christmas and… my imagination went wild. It doesn’t take much sometimes. I have the plot down, and the main characters, 1K written, and a tentative title of Rousing Caine… Caine being the ghost who is roused from his eternal sleep. LOL

Since I’m a really visual person, I do respond well to photos. Faith Bicknell-Brown of Freya’s Bower has been tossing out photos on her Yahoo loop to see if she can inspire us. She has inspired us. In my case, a little vignette today with Max and Bliss from The Pixie Prince. Last time around it was a longer piece about fallen angels. That one will eventually be part of a much bigger story, one of the Tales of the Darkworld.

One of the photos that never fails to inspire me when I look at it is called Steps to the Jewel Box. To me, this photo looks like what I imagine the fae world Behind the Veil to look like. This realm is part of the Otherworld, the world of the paranormal characters from The Bar. The photographer is a young friend of mine who is going to college in Missouri. Justin Scott is a sweet person, charming and witty, and a kick ass photographer! His images astound me constantly.

jewelbox

Like any college student, Justin doesn’t always have the funds for the things he wants and needs. So he sells his photos on the internet for $50 to $80 depending on the paper and size you want. I decided that the first thing I would do with the first of my royalties would be to buy something totally for myself, something that would last, and have meaning for me. Something I could look at and think to myself, “I bought that with the proceeds from my own imagination.”  I decided I would buy a copy of the Steps to the Jewel Box.

Recently, Justin had a little accident. His Nikon took a nasty tumble and decided not to work properly any longer. Justin had already been saving for a new Nikon, but now, he had to figure out a way to get it sooner. So while chatting on Twitter, Justin joked around about taking donations. Feeling bad for my friend, and being a little flush in my pockets for once, I went to PayPal and I sent him $10. Someone else did too. The joke and our generosity turned into pure inspiration.

If you go to Justin’s site you will see all his lovely photos. Now, you can have one of those photos, the ones that cost $50-$80, all for a donation toward the camera fund. Justin already had 2/3rds of the money, this will just take him to the end of the road and allow him to continue creating these inspired photos.

I know exactly where Steps to the Jewel Box is going once I have it framed and matted… over my desk, where it will continue to serve as inspiration for me. So I’m pimping Justin out a little. Visit his blog. Visit his photo site. If you see something there that you like, donate $10 to his camera replacement fund and he will send you a print of the photo of your choice. Then you, like me, will be able to hang your inspiration over your desk.

More news and info coming soon about lots of things so stay tuned, and more importantly, stay inspired!

lexname

The Wrong Idea

I saw something today that irked me. Before I get into what it was, and why it irked me, let me preface this by saying that the person who posted the remark is not someone I dislike. Nor is my little tirade meant to bash anyone or denigrate or belittle them. What this is, pure and simple, is a commentary. MY commentary. MY opinion. MY rant, if you want to call it that.

What I saw was a remark on one of the loops about how someone perceived an Alpha male. The part that irked me was the part that said she thought of Alpha males as more well endowed in the penis department than other males. Motley and I looked at each other and said, “WTF?”

You see, I’m a pretty free thinker and I’ve brought Motley up to be the same. Neither of us believes in any of the standard crapola that is rolled out with regard to sex. When women start talking bigger is better… I always beg to differ. So, to us, the idea that an Alpha male must be bigger, thicker, better is wrong, wrong, wrong. And really, as a mother, I think it gives young women the wrong idea about what constitutes good sex. So many of Motley’s girlfriends (all in the 18-21 year old range) think that they will have better sex with a man who has a big dick. I’ve made a point of making sure Motley doesn’t believe this.

When we tell these girls that bigger is better, we’re setting them up for failure. Failure at their relationships with men. They’ll assume that the hot guy with the big dick will be the best lover of their life. They fall in love with love…and with the big dick. You think I’m wrong? I’m not. I’ve seen it happen to women all my life. Sure not every woman believes this. But enough of them do that when the new hubby doesn’t really deliver, they become disillusioned with the sex, and then with him.

I don’t like stereotypes. I think they are harmful to people. I may write that one of my characters has a huge dick or a thick dick, but you won’t ever see me say that it’s X number of inches. One woman’s idea of huge is different than another’s. I let them imagine what works for them. I don’t want to tell anyone what is the best size for them. Cause yanno, to me, it’s not about size anyway.

I could cite examples from my own life, but then this post would get XXX rated. My point is that while it’s nice to think of Alpha males as being something a bit more than the average guy, what’s really that wrong with the average guy? Can’t they be Alpha too? Why do Alphas have to be more handsome and more well endowed? Why does handsome and bigger have to be the synonym for better?

In my world, it’s not and never will be. To me, the Alpha is the male who is smarter. The one who will show his emotions, try to communicate, always strive to do the right thing, who will do anything to please and protect his mate and his family. He doesn’t have to be 6’5″ with long blonde hair to be Alpha. He only has to be unafraid to fight for his loved ones, and unafraid to show a tear when everyone dies in Titanic.

Have a great Tuesday!

Silence!

It seems funny that on the first day of this new domain name that I would be silent. However, I am. In a moment. First I want to direct you all to Jester’s post about this day of silence. The world would truly be a dark place if he wasn’t here to answer our emails, IMs, and tweets. And I’m not just saying that because he did such an awesome job on this new house. I’m saying it because anyone with an infectious laugh like his should not ever have it silenced by an act of hate. I’m sure Lawrence had an infectious laugh too. It’s gut wrenching to think that all his laughter was silenced, and that he had the joy sucked out of him by those who hate.

So don’t look for me on Twitter today. I won’t be by to comment on your blogs until Saturday. I can’t totally shut down life and give up the phone, talking, email, or IM because I do have work to do. (Yes, I WORK on IM. It’s how I communicate with the other Bar writers.)

Have a truly wonderful day, and remember how much hate hurts. Be thankful for your friends.