Flourishing Through Adversity

Let me start by saying this is not a short post. If you’re looking for short and fun, this ain’t it. I’m on a little bit of a rant but I’m also trying to reassure friends and readers who are finding it difficult to navigate the tidal wave of waters from the current administration of this country. I know I’ve said before that I wouldn’t get all political here, but sometimes I just have to. Especially since this morning the stress got to be too much for hubs and he blew up in such an out of control way, I had to yell at him, which I never do. And of course, it terrified all the babies and one peed on the floor.  I just have no words sometimes. Other times, I have to channel it into an almost rant. So here I go.

For those who wear Trump colored glasses (yes, I made those!) what I have to say today may not seem true nor resonate with you. That’s okay. You all can just pass on by since this post isn’t really for you. If you believe in alternative facts just keep going and don’t bother to read this or comment. I will, without malice, delete any pro-Trump/anti-what I’m saying comments unread. This isn’t the forum for those. There is enough negativity in this world and I’m not going to willingly subject myself to any more of it despite the fact that today’s post is indisputably political in nature which tends to draw out all the people who think differently than I do.

Just be aware that I bear you no ill will for being a Trump supporter. If you are one, that’s fine. Just don’t come to my blog or my Facebook feed and post your alternative facts in my space. I will unfriend you. I will block you. I will delete your Facebook posts and I will delete comments here if I have to. In return, I promise not to come to your space and post any proven facts or tell you that I think the POTUS is an irresponsible bully surrounded by people who will lie to support him (ie Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer) and people who got close to him in order to increase their own power base and agenda (Steve Bannon, Rex Tillerson.) You stay over there and I’ll stay over here, and we can get together when the subject is something we’re not polar opposites on. We’ll get along just fine this way. Respect my space and I’ll respect yours.

That being said, some of us feel as if we are living in a time of great adversity. We feel as if we were cheated during the election because our popular vote meant nothing for the second time that I can recall in my lifetime (Al Gore being the other one.) We believe the president (not going to capitalize it when he can’t even behave like one) is going to ruin our country, that he’s only there for the rich people, that the poor like myself are only going to suffer more under his leadership. We’re horrified by the way he uses social media to attack not only our allies (Australia) but our own federal judges (“so called” judges.) And we’re afraid of his ties to Putin, his closeness with Breitbart’s Bannon, the way he’s provoking Iran, needling the Israelis, banning Muslims and pretty much making the rest of the world community take a step back from us. He’s allowed Bannon to basically tell the world that the media needs to be shut up, restrained. His administration has been caught in numerous lies in the first three weeks and instead of apologizing for it they try to skew minds and reality by calling the lies alternative facts. That right there is where I personally took a step back.

When the government tries to get rid of or muzzle the media, when they spout lies that are proven to be untruths, and when they straight up push those lies on the people of this country, trying to make them believe that the truth is not the truth…that’s not a democracy. That’s Nazi Germany, Orwell’s 1984 and Nixon during Watergate. Which is why so many thousands of people have taken to the streets, something that has given me a spark of hope.

Let’s go to Dictionary.com for a moment and I’ll get back to the protests in a minute.

Fact [fakt]
noun
1.  something that actually exists; reality; truth:

2. something known to exist or to have happened:

3. a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true:

Yeah. No room for “alternative” facts there.  What the administration is saying may be alternative, but in no way are they facts. In actuality, they’re about as factual as the Bowling Green Massacre that Kellyanne Conway made up. And this is the pap that this administration is feeding us and insisting we eat. It’s no wonder we’re all nauseous.

Anyway, this adversity we live with daily, the fear that the global community will turn their backs on us because our POTUS is a bully and an authoritarian, the fear that he’ll let the apocalyptic Bannon, sitting on the National Security Council, talk him into eradicating radical Islamic terrorism by pushing the nuclear button, these are real fears that people live with daily now in this Trump ruled country. So how do we go about our daily lives now while living with very real fears?

Unfortunately, having lived the past year homeless, with fear a constant, daily companion, I’ve learned a thing or two. I can tell you unequivocally that yes, you can do it. No, it’s not optimal, but it’s doable. First and foremost, you need to take care of yourself. Even someone as poor as me finds small ways to take care of myself whether it’s a bottle of special lotion with witch hazel from Mother’s Market for my neuropathy or a small bag of sugar free dark chocolate covered mints, it’s something that makes me feel good. And for those few moments that the lotion or the candy makes me feel good, I rise above adversity. I found out Friday morning that my friend and mentor Steve Duff had died the night before. The only thing that has made me feel good since the moment I found out and right now was those damned chocolates.

To rise above adversity, to flourish even, you have to commit to not giving in to it. Don’t let the fear mongering of our current government take away all the things you enjoy most in life. Don’t stay holed up in your home, watching the news, waiting for the next bad thing to happen.  Or conversely, don’t stay away from the news just because there’s the possibility of more bad stuff happening. With this administration, we can pretty much guess that more bad stuff WILL happen. But don’t let the fear keep you from being informed, don’t let them drive you away from the news or other shows that tell you what’s happening in the world and your local area. I watch the morning news because I want to know if there are protests scheduled locally. I want to know what my community is doing to fight back. I want to know if other cities are protesting. I find hope in the fact that so many people across this great nation (yes, it was always great and doesn’t have to be made great again) are taking to the streets in a show of solidarity against a man and an administration that would turn our democracy into an authoritarian society.

But to flourish, you have to continue to find joy in your life wherever you can. Hug your kids. Pet your furry kids. Cuddle them, cuddle your partner, your spouse. Watch your favorite shows, go to the movies. Eat the foods you love. Read books. Write and write and write. And post the good stuff!

I know I need to do more writing. The first new material I’ve written in more than two years, a military MM novella Extraction, came out Nov 18, my oldest brother’s birthday. I haven’t written a whole lot since but I need to.

And speaking of my brother reminds me that he always rose above adversity when the world was scary. My brother Tom marched with MLK. He belonged to the Democratic Central Committee and should have been at the Ambassador Hotel the night Bobby Kennedy died, but he got the Asiatic flu. He wore a “Legalize Marijuana” button in the late 60’s, something kids today probably can’t even comprehend as having been an issue so long ago. I remember him and my parents chanting “Impeach him!” during Watergate. Today, I see how many ways Trump is like Nixon.

I might have been young during the Nixon administration but I come from a family of individuals who were not afraid to be political, not afraid to tell me what was going on. Cesar Chavez visited my father’s barbershop in Gonzales, CA.  So did Leon Panetta when he ran for congress. Panetta knows my brother who has worked as a California lobbyist.  My brother Tom, at 76 years old, is still a voting member of the Democratic Party.  He’s never given up on democracy despite all the bad stuff he’s seen and lived through and causes and candidates he fought for — Vietnam, Watergate, assassinations, impeachments, protests and the eventual legalization of marijuana at least at the state level.

We shouldn’t give up either. We have options even though we feel as if everyone, everything is against us. Trump’s been put on notice as of last night that the judiciary isn’t going to stand for him making executive orders that are unconstitutional. They aren’t going to stand for him calling out our federal judges like a bully on a playground. And ultimately, more of us voted for Hillary than for him and he’s not untouchable. If Nixon can be impeached so can Trump. So just think about that for a moment, and then remember that we need to rise above adversity.

Join me in rising above, in flourishing during adversity. Let’s write and read and enjoy what we can in this life. If you feel bad just reading for pure enjoyment, go get a copy of All the President’s Men and read about history and the tenacity of two reporters determined to get the truth even if it brought down a presidency. I’ve read it before. It’s an amazing read. I’m going to read Switched by NJ Walker, about a guy who was switched at birth. It sounds like a really emotional, angsty read.

Speaking of angsty reads, I’m about 20K from finishing Out of the Pocket, the sequel or companion really to Scrambling. If you thought Scrambling was angsty, Out of the Pocket blows it out of the water. The first five thousand words of this book won the Rebecca Award a couple years ago. I wrote the rest of the book under the influence of Percocet and ended up having to scrap everything but that first 5K and start over. Now, it’s become a really heartbreaking story of two men torn apart by their jobs in the NFL.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m going to watch the news and see if there’s anything else good today. And even if there isn’t, I’m going to spend an hour reading and an hour writing before I head off to work on book covers for Louisa Bacio and JM Dabney and begin adding books to Sean Michael’s website. Have a great, flourishing Sunday!

Lies and More Disappointment

So my Kindle Unlimited experiment is still charging along and I’m also still reading books for contests. The disappointments I found at the start of all this didn’t stop me from continuing to read. For the contests, I have to honor my commitments. I know some judges give up if they’ve had too many poor books. They just burn out and quit. I tend not to do that. I take a break and read something I really want by a favorite author and recharge myself.  After all, I made a commitment so I stick by it. I don’t think it’s fair to quit although I do see that continuing on when you’re suffering from burn out could be detrimental to fairly judging the books.

fittobetiedI’m not burned out on judging so I’ve been reading along with only a day and a half pause to read Mary Calmes’ Fit To Be Tied which downloaded to my phone’s Kindle app at 9 pm on Thursday night. Love me some Miro and Ian. I also took a break at the beginning of the week to read one of my Kindle Unlimited downloads. And here’s where I get to the point of my post title because the book I read was more than a disappointment.

Thus far, I haven’t divulged any titles or authors and my issues with books haven’t been specific enough (I hope) for anyone to figure out the titles or authors. This might change now. I’m not going to tell the name of the book or the author or the editor, but when I tell you what absolutely disgusted me with this book, you might guess. Well, you might if you know how to spell band names.

I opened up a Kindle Unlimited book that seemed like it had promise. I liked what the blurb said at any rate. I had, if not high hopes, at least moderately optimistic thoughts about this one. Then I saw the copyright credits and thought I’d throw up.

First of all, you either have to pay to search for a copyright online or you can do it for free at any Copyright Office. Most people aren’t going to pay to search these. However, many books have trademark credits, not copyright credits. You all have seen trademark credits right? Where the author acknowledges the mention of something that has a trademark. For instance, if you look up Romance Writers of America, you get this:

Word Mark ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA
Goods and Services IC 035. US 100 101 102. G & S: trade association services in connection with the promotion of high quality romance writing. FIRST USE: 19810215. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19810215
Standard Characters Claimed
Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
Serial Number 76679704
Filing Date July 19, 2007
Current Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition June 17, 2008
Registration Number 3494400
Registration Date September 2, 2008
Owner (REGISTRANT) Romance Writers of America, Inc. CORPORATION TEXAS 14615 Benfer Road Houston TEXAS 77069
Attorney of Record Janet F. Satterthwaite
Prior Registrations 1461390
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL-2(F)
Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR).
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

So if you mentioned “Romance Writers of America” in your book, in the trademark credits you would note:

The author acknowledges the trademarks of the following items mentioned in this book:

Romance Writers of America – Romance Writers of America, Inc.

You can do your own search at the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS.) It is absolutely free.

Now, back to the lies part of my title.

The book I read had a copyright acknowledgement and I can unequivocally say that this author did not search for the items listed in her copyright credits. How do I know that she didn’t? For one, a bunch of them are spelled wrong. So I instantly felt as if she’d lied to me. If you had searched on what she had listed, spelled as she spelled it, you wouldn’t find it either under a copyright search or a trademark search. I know you’re wondering so I’m just going to show you the items from the copyright credits that were spelled wrong.

Scorpion
Def Leopard
Pat Benetar
The Notebook © Warner Bros 2004 Starring Ryan Gossling and Rachel McAdams

Screen-Shot-2015-01-19-at-6.48.24-PMNow, she also had Motley Crue (a US heavy metal band) on her list and it was spelled correctly on the copyright credits, but it was spelled this way in the book Motely Crue. The bands listed incorrectly in the copyright credits of the book and in the book itself are The Scorpions (a German heavy metal band), Def Leppard (a UK heavy metal band) and Pat Benatar. And of course, Ryan Gosling’s name has only one S.

Can you see why I would be turned off? She has a copyright list she never actually checked the copyrights on and she used a bunch of famous names and bands and never checked the spelling of those items. Worse than that, she used what appears to be a professional editor and the editor never checked these items or their spelling. That doesn’t seem very professional to me.

Well, after a few hours I got over my disgust and I decided to give the book a chance anyway. It didn’t disappoint. It was just as bad as the copyright credits lead me to believe. It was full of spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. The characters were juvenile in speech and behavior. I actually liked the main characters. I wanted to see them together. But the entire story was so full of the fate, destiny and soulmates stuff that I expected to have vampires or werewolves or some other kind of shifter turn up. The level of “mates” stuff and coincidences happening in the book was so over the top I expected it to be a paranormal.

kindleunlimitedAnd so here I sit still disappointed in what I’m getting from Kindle Unlimited. You really can’t judge a book by it’s Reese Dante cover. She, like me, does covers for any author who can pay for one. She doesn’t discriminate between authors who can’t write and those who can. Neither do I. I don’t read most of the books I do covers for. She probably doesn’t either. So just because a book has a professional cover doesn’t mean it’s been professionally edited by an editor that knows what they are doing or that it was a decent enough manuscript to actually be published in the first place.

I feel bad for the writers out there who don’t know the craft well enough to realize they are being ripped off by editors who purport to be professional but who leave these books filled with mistakes a 6th grader could catch. Every day that I spend writing, I thank my lucky stars Mrs. Betty Hodgins who drilled grammar, usage, sentence structure and more into me in my 7th and 8th grade honors English classes. I hated her then, but my God, I love the woman to bits now because my editors are always happy with my work. (Translation, I don’t give them a lot to do. LOL)

It’s really sad that my experiment with Kindle Unlimited is going so poorly. And I’m even more disappointed by the fact that a lot of these self-pubbed books that aren’t that well written are making it into the contests I read for. It seems like if I want a decent book, I should look to who the author is and whether or not they have ever been published by a reputable house. That’s the only criteria I can find anymore that mostly guarantees I won’t be cringing over the misuse and misspelling of words every other paragraph.

Next time, I have a bone to pick about non-standalone (series) books in contests. Yeah, I won’t go there today. 😉 Happy reading everyone!

Lex_Sig

The Next Big Thing: The King of Dick Lit

My pal Tara Lain tagged me to be in this huge blog hop called The Next Big Thing. You answer some questions about your current WIP, tag the person who tagged you and then tag four more people who will link back to you and four other people and so on and so on…

Me being me, first I couldn’t figure out if I could find 4 people who weren’t already tagged. (I did!) Then I couldn’t decide on the WIP. (It’s not like I don’t have a tough enough time working on 5 WIPs at the same time!) It’s not like be to be so indecisive but…I must have a moon in some weird ass phase or planet or something. Anyway, here’s my Next Big Thing!

What is the working title of your book?

The King of Dick Lit. The title came from the end of Kissing Joan Collins when my hero Logan Moore an author of mysteries became a gayrom author whom his editor Kris calls “the King of Dick Lit.”

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I wanted to write a sequel to Kissing Joan Collins but I hadn’t come up with a plot. Then someone (probably Kris Jacen) said we should all write stories about our characters going to GayRomLit2012. Then I saw the video of Jared Rackler dancing and I got this amazing idea for Logan Moore to go to GRL2012.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a gayrom, of course. MM contemporary

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

Why do people ask this? I don’t usually put famous faces on my characters. *runs to look up some hotties* Matt Bomer looks like he might work for Logan Moore. Trevor Donovan might fit for Chase Courtland. And man, would they look HOT together! *fans self*

What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?

Author Logan Moore spends a week in Albuquerque at GayRomLit tarnishing his “King of Dick Lit” crown as he dirty dances, ogles hotties, gets horny and sports wood in public all because of his irrepressible, totally luscious, crossing dressing husband, Chase.

Will your book be self published or represented by an agency?

My editor at MLR Press has dibs on this one.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It’s not finished yet but it will probably take me a couple of months to finish because I’m juggling other projects too.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre.

It’s predecessor, Kissing Joan Collins. It’s a gayrom with quirky humor and some sweet loving. I don’t know that I’m like anyone else and I almost feel like I’m being presumptuous by saying oh, it’s like this person’s book or that person’s book.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Jared Rackler’s Ass. (Don’t blush, kid!)

What else about your book might interest the reader?

It has a very masculine six foot tall hottie in a tight dress…that’s gotta count for something! 😉

Person who tagged me: Tara Lain

Suckers…erm…people I tagged:

Belinda McBride

Adera Orphanelli

Stephani Hecht

WM Kirkland

Now isn’t that fun for a Monday morning?

Here’s some inspiration too! The next Encounters short story has Colin cuffed to the bed for some violet wand play. YUM.

My big holiday giveaway starts on Thanksgiving so come back then for a chance to win ebooks, print books and gift cards from lots of amazing authors! Happy Thanksgiving week everyone!

No NaNo

Seems like almost everyone I know is doing NaNoWriMo. I just can’t. I write in such fits and starts that doing 1500 words a day wouldn’t be possible. And falling behind (even if I know in my head I would probably be able to catch up) would be depressing. I don’t need anything that depresses me and might keep me from writing.

At the moment I’m on a writing roll and I probably am doing close to 1500 words or more a day. I write at lunch which can produce about 500-1000 words depending on whether or not I get interrupted or distracted. (No one ever heeds the Do Not Disturb sign on the back of my chair!)

I’ve got several WIPs I’m juggling all at the same time but that’s nothing new. I’ve always juggled a few at a time. I’m trying to make sure I keep posting little bits on my Facebook Author Page in order to get or keep people interested in me.

I know that GRL was supposed to be uplifting but somehow, for me, it had the opposite affect overall. That post I wrote about falling into relative obscurity? GRL made me feel even more like I am just spinning my wheels at this writing gig. There’s just a lot of people who don’t know who I am and while I know that with my head it doesn’t stop me wondering about what happened at GRL. Honestly, there were people who I talk to online who just walked past me there as if they didn’t see my big ole banner with my name on it. I know those events can be overwhelming, but…just but. *sigh* I felt invisible and I think it made me even more determined to finish up all my obligations (which will realistically take a couple of years) and then retire this pen name. I doubt I’ll stop writing but Lex doesn’t seem to be an author with a good fanbase anymore so it’s probably time to let her go and seek some change. After I complete said obligations…

With retirement of the pen name firmly in my sights as a goal for sometime in the next few years, I do have lots to write before the name says goodbye. So here’s a snippet from Save Your Love. (My Facebook page has a snippet of The King of Dick Lit.)

The engine of the car was fully engulfed in flames when a fire truck pulled up. I stared morosely at the car as hunky firemen hastened to put out the fire. One man managed to open the hood and they sprayed the engine compartment with foam. Foam, not water. Jesus. That meant the fire had been electrical. With a sigh, I waited for the flames to turn to smoke and then walked slowly through the rows of artichokes toward my totaled car.

A fireman came toward me. As he neared, he pulled off his helmet and ruffled his dark gold spikes. Something about the movement sent my senses spinning. I squinted at him, wishing the sun wasn’t behind him so I could see his face.

“That your car?” he called out.

The voice turned my spinning senses into an out and out spiral. In the space of a few seconds, I was eighteen again, my heart thudding so hard I thought my chest would burst open.

“Matt?”

The fireman’s confident stride stumbled. “Jared?”

Joy flooded me. There was no other way to describe the sensation. Even my fingernails felt ecstatic.

“Matt!” I dropped my bag in the dust of the field and rushed toward him, throwing my arms around him. My face pressed into the space just under his ear. “Matt!”

One hand cupped my ass, pulling me against him and the other grabbed my hip and squeezed. “Holy shit! Jared! What the fuck are you doing here? Why didn’t you call?”

He hugged me hard and then pulled back, sneaking a quick glance over his shoulder. I reluctantly stepped back. I had no idea if Matt was out at work and I didn’t want to unintentionally out him if he wasn’t.

“I wanted to surprise you,” I murmured, unable to look away from his handsome soot stained face.

He flicked one dark gold brow up and pointedly gazed at my car. “You sure did that.”

A nervous chuckle escaped me. “Pyrotechnics have never really been my thing.”

My inspiration this week came from a little British movie whose American title is Tonight You’re Mine.

Check out the trailer here. Luke Treadaway just bypassed Jared Rackler in my head for inspiration of the week.

The movie has a Facebook page. I liked it. You should check out the movie and if it inspires you, like the page! I’m off to find the soundtrack now. Just to keep the inspiration rolling, yanno. Even if I’m not doing NaNo. 😉

Have a great Monday!

 

 

I’d Rather Freeze

You know those people who retire to Florida and Southern California because of the weather? They’re nuts.  It was so hot here all last week that we checked Weather.com religiously looking for a break in the heat. It said we’d get that after Saturday and that the following week would be cooler. Damned liars! The forecast  now is for another week of this extreme heat. It’s so bad that we were watching Harry Potter last night, looking at the snow and white out conditions and wished we were there. Rott was so hot he wished he was there bare chest and all. I told him he’d give the word “chesticles” a whole new meaning. He didn’t care. He’s just tired of being too hot.

The truth of the matter is that I probably wouldn’t have chosen to come to Southern California to live had it just been my choice. My brother wanted to come here when Nikki was a baby and he sort of overrode me. That was back in 1992. I’ve been here ever since and I’ve never been a fan of the weather as beautiful as it can be sometimes. I’m from the central coast of California where the average temperature is 68 degrees. I miss that weather. And if it came down to what weather I’d prefer 90 degree heat or 30 degrees and snow…I’d take the snow. I’d much rather freeze than sweat. So pray for me this week. I’ll be melting…

One good thing about this week is that I have a new release! The new longer version of Mating is releasing this week at Ellora’s Cave. Since fellow EC author Kathy Kulig also has a release on the 15th, she invited me to be interviewed on her Passion Sense blog. So look for me there on the 16th. Mating can be purchased at Ellora’s Cave. Here’s the BUY LINK.

Mating is the companion story to Runaways which came out in April. The two books are stand alone but together they tell the story of twin werewolf brothers finding their mates. There’s love, lust, duty, passion, guilt, fear and a whole lot of sex going on in these two books. They’re non-stop action and in my biased opinion, totally worth checking out! 😉

If you want to know what I’ve been up on the graphics front at Winterheart Design, I’ve done covers recently for Ally Blue, Barry Brennessel, Janet Quinn, Rowan Malloy, Cari Z., Karenna Colcroft, Heather Kuehl, AKM Miles and Rick Reed. In fact, I just made a cool Facebook cover for Rick Reed for the release of his book Rent, the one I did the cover for. So keep and eye out for that. I’ve also pretty much completed work on a new website look for Raine Delight which also includes a matching Facebook cover.

That being said, I think today’s Monday image will be Rick’s Facebook cover. I think it looks hot! (Although not hot like the weather here. Ugh.)

Well that’s it for me today. I need to get to the office where I hope they’ve cranked up the AC just a little. I had to use my desktop fan all last week because of the heat. I’m miserable can’t you tell? 😉  Hope you all have a wonderfully cool Monday!