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!

What’s New Pussycat?

I know, I know. I’m late coming back here to give away audiobooks from my New Year’s giveaway. Three people had the correct answer! Yvette, Emily W and Lee Todd win their choice of audiobook from me. Yay!

TheHardestPart_200So on to what’s new…I’m sick. Well, I was sick. All weekend, puking. Turns out it was just a reaction to adding a pain med to my already long line up of stuff I take. So they switched me to something else. It doesn’t make me puke but it does make me sleepy. Makes work a challenge. And the pain med that made me puke is one I’ve had before so it has to be the combination of stuff I was on. I think it didn’t like the hormone stuff my other doc has me on. Anyway, waiting for an insurance authorization so I can get yet another CT scan because it seems like the kidney stones are trying for a reappearance.  Just what I need when I have a full schedule. Story of my life. *sigh*

Meanwhile, on the writing front I have a sweet, hot short story just out for your reading enjoyment! It’s been in the works since August so you can see how sick I’ve been. The Hardest Part is a story of love and optimism and getting what you deserve for being positive in the face of negativity. I hope you readers like it!

I’ve also got other books out in audio format. Kissing Joan Collins is out in time for Valentine’s Day which is perfect because it’s a Valentine’s Day story! Also out is Rousing Caine which is a very sexy ghost story. Check out the covers!

 

KissingJoanCollins_audio

RousingCaine_audio300

I’ve got lots of codes for free copies of my audiobooks so look for me to be doing giveaways here and there across the net and on Facebook. Meanwhile, you can hop on over to Facebook and vote for The Hardest Part’s cover in the Love, Lust and Lipstick Stains cover contest! Your vote is much appreciated!

That’s it for me. I’m off to work. Cross your fingers I either don’t need a pain pill or that I can manage to stay awake when I take it!

Happy Tuesday!

winter-lex

 

 

Mixed Emotions

The weekend was fraught with the title of this blog post. There’s shit going on at home. There’s shit going on with websites. There’s shit going on on Facebook. And damn it all…there’s just shit going on in this world.

Top of the charts: One of the Ellora’s Cavemen was murdered early Sunday morning. It’s shocking and such a loss for the staff and authors at EC. And imagine how his friends and family must feel. I mean, the guy was only 27. He purportedly died in his best friend’s arms. At least he wasn’t alone, but still. 27.

At 27, I was having a shitty year. I could have died and probably very few people would have known it. It was a really bad year. But this guy…he had everything going for him. Who the fuck ever took a gun to a club and used it during an altercation should be strung up. I mean c’mon. If you’re that pissed, you punch someone, not shoot them. What does that say about the shooter’s respect for life? The whole thing makes me angry and sick to my stomach at how low so many people who call themselves humans truly are.

Next up: My house. I hate poisonous snakes. I hate the  909-ers who bottle neck my road. But I don’t want to sell or lose my house. But I think my old man has given up. When that happens, I never win. And I don’t know what to do. Sometimes I think I just need to walk away from him and all his problems and neuroses that cost me money and years off my life because of the stress.

And I’m really tired of being broke. I might love him but I’m really tired of being broke. Sometimes I dream of what my life would be like if I had no one to support but me. Man, that’s weird. I’ve never had no one to support but me. I’ve supported other people my entire life, no breaks. I don’t think I’d know what to do with myself.

There’s other stuff. Stuff I don’t have the energy to bring up cause my gut is churning and I need to eat a fistful of Tums. You don’t have to leave me a comment and say you’re sorry I’m going through this or feel this way. I know most of you are generous people and you do feel sorry that my life is shit. I’d rather you go tell someone to check out my books. Not buy them. Just check them out. I’m not trying to make a sale here. Just trying to put myself in front of possible new readers. If they look at my stuff and are interested enough to buy, that’s awesome. But I have a hard time telling people to go buy my books. I guess I’m not a good salesman.

I need a nice photo for inspiration today. Something to help me get through the day. I can’t even say week. Can’t look that far ahead.

Isn’t that pretty? I want to be there. It’s too fucking hot here. I look at that and I could just cry I want to be there so bad. Who gets 105 degree heat in September anyway?

Okay my lovelies. I must go to work. If you want to know what I’ve been reading that I liked, I have a fresh new Valentine Review that I put up yesterday here on this blog. If you want to see where I’m guest blogging about pro sports and bullying and being gay in the NFL check out my pal Tara Lain’s blog. And tomorrow on the 2nd Alix Rickloff invited me over to Blame It On the Muse to talk about Scrambling. Wait until you see that blog post. There’s a port-a-potty in it. LOL

Happy Monday!

 

Photo courtesy Stock.XCHNG

Disintegration?

There’s a wee storm in the publishing world. It started last week when Jill Noble left Noble Romance. She sent out a letter to authors (I didn’t get one, but wouldn’t have expected to as I have only a single title there from February 2009) that can be found on Absolute Write if you want to see it. I’m not gonna post any links to stuff. There’s no need since this post is just my comment on what I read and observe and what facts I do know. And just so you know, my observations aren’t actual fact either because they are subjective. The bare facts are these:

  • Jill said she was the owner of the company.
  • She left the company and in the letter she sent out basically said she was an employee of the company not the owner.
  • She left the company without notice which, according to other Noble staff, left the processing of royalties in limbo since she was the one who did the reports.
  • She hasn’t removed the title of owner from all Noble Romance related social media or her own social media yet. It’s been changed on some but not all.
  • She said authors could contact specific Noble staff members for more information but at least one of those email addresses is now bouncing.
  • Editors were locked out of their email accounts. (This may have been because she left and passwords needed to be changed, not because the editors were being let go as some surmised.)
  • The author loop was shut down. (Purportedly because the authors were upset and panicked and expressed those emotions and a staff member took exception to the posts.)
  • A Noble staff member emailed at least one author and said there was already new management in place and Jim Noble, Jill’s brother and the man whom we are told by staff is the actual owner,  would make a statement by today.
  • Several authors opened a Yahoo loop for authors and staff after the other one was shut down. They also started a Facebook page for info posting.
  • Several authors have blogged about this. Also, Karen Knows Best, EREC, Teddy Pig and Dear Author have all mentioned it or devoted posts to it. (Comments on some of these have been…interesting.)
  • Jill and her daughter Natasha commented on author C.H. Scarlett’s blog about all of this.
  • Jill also commented on Facebook about it with a comment about cleaning out the trash which seemed to be directed toward Noble authors. That comment has since been deleted or made private but one author has a screenshot of it. (The comment is fact as the screenshot bears out, but the intent is subject to interpretation. I know what I think, but your mileage may vary.)

So what does this all mean? Well, for those of us who have been around long enough and have witnessed the demise of several publishing houses…it clearly appears to be disintegration of Noble Romance Publishing. A major person in the company either leaves abruptly, isn’t reachable, and isn’t conducting business as usual. Author panic ensues. Some staff defends the company. Other staff panics. A reorganization of some kind is attempted. Business as usual doesn’t quite come to pass. The house folds.

Noble seems to be following that pattern currently. Maybe I and everyone else who thinks the writing on the wall is wrong. Maybe Jim Noble can make this fly without his sister. Only time will tell. Meanwhile, there’s some nasty comments happening all over and someone on the author loop started feeding the posts there to Jill and/or her daughter Natasha which in turn has disintegrated into name calling and the public soothing of Natasha’s rumpled feathers by her mother on C.H. Scarlett’s blog. The only reason I mention this last thing is because it just seemed weird to me. Why do that in public? Can’t you just phone your kid? I mean, it leads me to believe that the comments were there for the authors who were panicked and ranting and not for Jill and her kid. Meh. What and ever.

I don’t have much vested here. I have a single title at Noble. I have never received a 1099 from them and will be requesting that they fix that. There’s a clause in my contract that they did not fulfill and I have already emailed the owner about that material breach and will be following it up with a certified letter. Basically, I want my rights back. They could just fix my problems with them and hold me to my 7 years. I don’t think they will last as long as it takes to make me wait until February 2016 for my rights. But we’ll see.

And now, here’s my photo for this week!

Yes! I finally finished the cover for Quintessence. I had been searching and searching for the right background and over the weekend I found it. This is the cover for Aiden and Cadence’s story.

And with that, I’m outta here. Have a great Monday!

 

UPDATE: One of the authors heard from Noble staff…the announcement from Jim Noble re the company reorg etc is now said to be coming middle of the week, not today. Hmmmn.

Sinking Into Relative Obscurity

Times change. Normally, I don’t blog here in the middle of the week. Normally, I don’t blog anywhere in the middle of the week. But today, I’m feeling the weight of something pressing on me and I want to get it off my chest if only for the length of time it takes me to write this post.

It’s been my observation, based on my own work and efforts this year, that authors who do not promo the fuck out of themselves and their books begin to sink into relative obscurity. Back in 2008, when I got my first contract, it seemed like a little Tweeting, a little Facebook, an up to date website, a weekly blog post occasionally augmented by a guest blog post or interview, a chat maybe once a month with a giveaway, high placement in a few contests plus some loop promo 2-3 times a week got you enough attention to sell books. No so any longer.

A case in point seems to be my M/M stuff. Fire Season continues to sell. However, there’s huge numbers of readers on the Goodreads M/M group who aren’t familiar with it despite it being on Jessewave’s Top Ten of 2009 and a Rainbow Awards Finalist. Those readers almost seem to be all about the authors who posted freebies during the group’s free read/write events. So this year, I did one, but I don’t think I’m seeing more name recognition for it. I got involved in the free serial story Lords of Aether. Not seeing more name recognition for that either. And all the books I’ve put out this year? Well, I guess you could say they’re not Fire Season.

The only thing I can see that I do differently than all the young up and coming authors in this genre whom everyone seems to know is that they are constantly on Twitter, Facebook, Facebook groups, blog tours and hops, Goodreads groups and all over a gazillion new review sites. And by constantly, I mean I see posts from them time-stamped all day long.

Looking at all that, I hear a death knell. I don’t have all day to promo. I don’t have any time to promo really, although I eke out some time here and there. Also, these authors are all over the conventions and conferences and all about tagging and reviewing each others books on Amazon and B&N and ARe. Whew. Just writing all of that has me exhausted. And discouraged. Because I can’t do all that stuff all the time. I have a full-time, demanding job. I have a family and a graphics business and things I’m supposed to write for my editors. And I live in an expensive part of the world and am the sole provider for 3 adults and a bunch of cats.

The upshot is that I can’t afford to promo like the authors whose names trip off readers lips, especially M/M readers. I don’t have the time or the money. And thus, I find myself sinking into relative obscurity. I can see the writing on the wall. One day, my editors are going to start giving me rejection slips because no matter how good my work is, if it doesn’t sell, they won’t want me.

So I guess I’m seeing the beginning of the end. This is what today’s trending is showing me. Even if I reinvent myself, I don’t have the time and wherewithal to do what’s necessary to sell books. I rather think that the era of “Lex who?” is upon me no matter how many times Wave profiles me, how many times I’m in the Rainbow Romance Writers ads in RWR  or how many freebies I write at the Goodreads M/M group.

All of this begs the question, do I stop? Or do I just wait out the natural attrition I mentioned above where eventually my editors don’t want my work anymore because no matter how good it is, no one knows me and my books don’t sell anymore?

No time to actually answer this question because lunch is almost over and I need to try to drop a few hundred words into my WIP. However, comments and observations are welcome…if anyone’s actually reading this. LOL 😉