Scams For The Indies

Well, I’ve been saying it all along. The sharks are out for we indies, and what they want to do is rend the flesh from your bones with sharp, wicked teeth and eat you.

Oh sure. It’s all fun and games until someone loses a leg. Or an arm. Or both.

Think I’m kidding? Nope. Check out this post by Patti Larsen regarding the ill-conceived notion of a “Mark of Excellence”. And this thing had a price tag of FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS. Seriously? Thankfully, since this post and others like it, the IBC (Indie Book Collective) has pulled their “program”. For now. UPDATE: (Yes, already.) Apparently the “Mark of Excellence” program is still available, although I refuse to link to it from here. RUN. AWAY. Seriously. This is so much bullshit I’m about to faint from the stench.

And then, this weekend, my friend and fellow indie, Janet Sked pointed out yet another entity trying to hop on the “let’s choose for readers what they want to read” bandwagon. Although I HATE to give them any hits, Grub Street Reads wants you to know “the best indie authors come from Grub Street”. Here’s the gist of their program if you really want to go look. But in a nutshell, the people here want you to PAY to put your book through a vetting process by their “qualified” endorsers and then, if approved, YOU CAN GET A STICKER FOR YOUR BOOK COVER!

Woohoo! I’m so excited I think I peed a little!

Look, let me just break it down. Indies vetting other indies is a CONFLICT OF INTEREST. Especially if they are charging a fee. Granted, Grub Street is nowhere as expensive as the “Mark of Excellence”, but still. And they might be lovely people. The truth is, there’s already a vetting process in place — it’s called READERS. Readers who now have the choice of reading whatever they damned well please, whether it’s something like Ninety Shades of Turquoise or the latest from a long-term bestselling author.

Get it? There’s no one standing between you, the indie author, or any author really, and the reader. NO ONE. Which is the whole premise behind this indie revolution, amirite?

This is really what it’s all about. SOMEONE WANTS TO TAKE ALL YOUR MONEYZ.

What makes this particularly disgusting to me is it seems these types of “programs” are preying on the new writer, the scared indie, the struggling artist who just wants to cut through the white noise out there and stand out. But if you think a shiny golden sticker handed out by people charging you money for the process is going to shoot your work of genius straight to the bestseller list, you’d better get a grip.

Think about it. Does Amanda Hocking have a golden sticker? Or Konrath? No, but they do have one thing in common — a shit-ton of material out there you can choose to read. Actually, how many of your favorite authors actually have a golden sticker on their book cover? Do you even notice? Does it make a difference in whom you choose to read?

Readers don’t care about stickers. They care about STORY. You can have a book cover with a bajillion stickers on it, but if what’s inside sucks, those stickers aren’t going to mean a damned thing. Not in the long run.

Write a good story. Save your money for great covers, great editing, and put the thing out there for the readers. And then you know what you do? WRITE ANOTHER ONE. Rinse and repeat. Your readers will find you, promise.

There is no magic bullet for success but HARD WORK. You’re either in, or you’re out. There is no in-between and there is no short cut.

Sorry to burst your bubble. Here. Have a cookie. THEN GET TO WRITING.
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So, You’re A Freelancer And You “Work” From Home

You know, there are times it seems the Universe just LOVES to put people in my path to push my Bitch Button. I really try to refrain from unleashing the Kracken, for the most part, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. Sometimes, there is the straw breaking the camel’s back.

This is a real camel. I'm talking about a figurative camel. I wouldn't want to break one of the real ones, that would be cruel.

Yesterday, someone I know (let’s call him “Mr. Camel”, shall we?) engaged me in conversation and said, “Oh, you’re a freelancer? And you work from home? Aren’t you lucky. I wish I could work from home. It must be nice to do anything you want anytime you want and make big bucks without having to work a ton of hours. What a life.”

Okay, Mr. Camel. You obviously have no clue whatsoever about self-employment, working from home, and you probably don’t know “Firefly” is the greatest television show canceled before its time.

This would be one of the many reasons. Yes, Nathan and I broke up but I'm still in love with Captain Mal.

I’m not going to get in to a whole argument of how you have it so much better than I do, or how I have it so much better than you. But let me clue you in on a little secret, Mr. Camel. You’re right. I am lucky. I’m lucky I get to perform a job I’m not only good at, I’m lucky because I have a job I absolutely adore. I don’t think you’re as jealous of the fact I am my own boss as you are the fact you aren’t as lucky and quite possibly hate your job with the passion of a thousand suns.

I know. It's pretty damned hot in that there cubicle, and it feels like hell. Been there, done that.

I understand your frustration. I was once a cubicle monkey, among other things, and it’s not fun. Unless you are very fortunate, it’s quite possibly Hades on Earth. There’s nothing worse than working a job you can’t stand eight hours a day, with weekends off, medical coverage, and paid vacations. It sucks that when you leave the office, you leave the work behind and carry on with normal activities. It’s difficult, I know, to be able to call in sick and know your shift is covered and all you need to concentrate on is getting better.

But when you’re a freelancer, you’re on your own, bub. As in, you NEVER leave the office and there’s no one to pick up your slack but yourself. You work when you’re sick, when you’re bored, when family members are sick and bored. You work even when you’re not working, because there are a hundred and one details which need to be taken care of running a business and there’s only you. When you’re not working, you’re looking for work, because while some months are flush, others you’re dodging disconnect notices because that’s just how it is. You’re always trying to think five steps ahead, even at 1 o’clock in the morning and you’ve just gotten to bed and supposed to be sleeping, having completed one deadline when you have to get up at 5AM because there’s another deadline to meet.

And that’s not to mention I have the same daily chores to complete that you do. Like laundry, or dishes, or shopping, or paying bills. I still have to scoop out the cat box, clean out the refrigerator, mop and vacuum floors. Worry about my kids. Carve out even a tiny bit of time for some kind of social life so I don’t turn into that crazy lady with the insane cat who never leaves her house and can’t talk to humans. I, too, have to deal with people knocking on my door wanting to save my soul. (I usually use a voodoo doll. What do you use?)

Not that there aren’t any perks, because there certainly are. But you know what? I’d trade working in pajamas for medical coverage; I might even consider trading in eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at my desk for a total weekend off with no worries and no deadlines and a regular infusion of cash into my bank account. But then again, probably not. Why? Because I love what I do and I know the deal.

What you don’t realize, Mr. Camel, is I have EARNED my job position. I have paid my dues. I have worked hard, and so has every successful freelancer I’ve ever met, to build something from the ground up, using all those years of being a cubicle monkey, burger-flipper, ass-wiper, etc. to learn as much as I could in order to apply it to my job today. This wasn’t handed to me on a silver platter — I EARNED IT, and so has every other freelancer. And I can guarantee you I put in more hours in the course of a week than you probably do in a month. (Okay, my math might be a little off, but you get the point.)

These are silver platters. I don't have one. And frankly, I don't want one. They're high maintenance.

It takes a lot of guts to work as a freelancer, Mr. Camel. It’s scary. There is no safety net. It also takes a lot of self-discipline, passion, and sweat. Sometimes blood is involved, and most definitely tears. And I don’t think you realize the perks you seem to covet are not the perks which make it all worth it. Perks like producing a stellar product all on your own; perks like satisfied clients with whom you forge amazing relationships. Yes, I can take twenty minutes and indulge my obsession with Words With Friends (but don’t pretend you don’t do the same thing in your little cubicle, I’ve seen you, and QAT is not a real word!) and that certainly is a perk, but for the most part, you are absolutely 100% correct about one thing….

I am lucky. I love my job. And that, my friend, is the best perk of all.

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An Open Letter To Nathan Fillion

An Open Letter To Nathan Fillion

Dear Nathan,

I have loved you deeply, hopelessly, since the Firefly days. I’m sure you must be sick of hearing that (or maybe not – love is love, no matter how demented and twisted) but it’s the truth. I have the season on DVD and a copy of Serenity. I can also watch you on Netflix on my Kindle Fire from bed, but we better not go there or I won’t finish this letter.

And then, there’s Dr. Horrible. You’re not exactly a Big Damned Hero there, are you? Maybe that was a foreshadowing of things to come. But still, not only do you look absolutely yummy, you display an intoxicating sense of humor I find irresistible. As in “OMG, I have to get in bed with my Kindle Fire!” irresistible. When you started your gig as Richard Castle, in spite of my abhorrence of ABC’s series (with the exception of “Revenge”, because that really appeals to my sense of justice – don’t be nervous – and “Once Upon A Time” because of Rumple) I followed you there, too. After all, you play a dashing, handsome, and funny writer. And I follow you on Twitter. Some may look at this as a type of stalking. I prefer to think of it as being a devoted fan.

How can I not love this? How can ANYONE not love this??

However, this debacle with the Bloggess has forced me to evaluate our long distance love affair. Oh, it’s true – I’ve flirted with Adam Levine, but he’s just a boy when compared to your manliness. My heart has always belonged to you. But when I learned the Bloggess (who is a Goddess of the Funny whereas I’m just a Goddess-In-Training) asked you for a small favor involving twine for over a year and was totally ignored, I had to question just exactly how committed you were to our relationship.

He's just waiting to take your spot, Nathan. He wants him some Netta-love.

Nater-Tater, (that is a brilliant nickname from the Bloggess, except I now have a strangely erotic reaction to potatoes) I am truly disappointed in you. All the poor woman wanted was a picture of you holding twine to stave off the Evil Marketers who stalk her. I figured, of course Nater-Tater would do this! He’s a Big Damned Hero! He loves his demented devoted fans! He knows he would be nowhere today without their adulation!

But you didn’t.

Others had to step up where you did not. People like Penn Jillette, and Jeri Ryan, and Wil Wheaton. People like Simon Pegg and Brian Boitano, for the love of Baby Jeebus. THOSE are Big Damned Heroes, Nater-Tater. Though I will say, this whole thing led to a picture of Matthew Broderick holding a spoon – which not only makes him cool, it makes him sexy. And I NEVER thought anything would do that.

Not cool, and not sexy. But you changed that, Nater-Tater, you sure did. Now Matthew Broderick is cooler and SEXIER than you are. How does that happen?!

Those are people who appreciate the funneh, people who remember what their fans have done for them. My defense of your action (or more specifically, NON-ACTION) has weakened because I’m feeling like you just don’t care. And that has broken my heart into a million pieces.

I’m sure you have your reasons. Like your quote when asked about it – “I just don’t do those kinds of things.” Jeezuz wept, Nater-Tater, I don’t get this at all. There are pictures of your bare ass all over the internet! Would one lousy picture of you holding an innocuous piece of twine really kill you? Especially if it made people happy? Really?

Dude. YOUR ASS IS ALL OVER THE INTERNET.

It’s probably too late to fix this with a picture, but you could try. You could reclaim your status as my Number One Obsession, because I’m sure you’re feeling as heartbroken as I am over our rift. You can still Do The Right Thing, whether it’s with twine, a spatula, or a spoon. Or even an emery board. If you don’t have an emery board, ask the makeup person. I’m sure they have one. Or, if you give me your home address, I can deliver one personally.

*sigh* For years, you have been my Big Damned Hero. Now I have to look for another one. It won’t be easy, because you leave big shoes to fill. So, you can cancel that restraining order, because you won’t need it anymore. I am still in love with Capt. Reynolds; I still adore the crew of the Serenity, but you, Nathan Fillion, are on my shit list, as much as it pains me to say that and probably pains you to hear it.

In closing, Nater-Tater, we are over. I have to face the fact even though it has been my dying wish (well, I’m not dying, exactly, but eventually I will) to receive a Tweet from you, it is now crystal clear I will never get it. I am now transferring that wish to Adam. Please mark your records accordingly.

In true disappointment,

Your Former Love Slave

P.S. I still retain the right to sleep with Mal Reynolds at night. You can’t take that away from me!

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You’re Next.

I’m a writer and I’m scared.

As most of you must know by now (and if you don’t you’d better get up to speed) PayPal, “The world’s most loved way to pay and get paid”, has put down their moral foot and forced Smashwords, second only to Amazon in e-book distribution, to eliminate certain books from the roster.

Say what?

Erotica books with themes such as r@pe, ince$t,and be$tiality are hearby banned from Smashwords (and other book stores) lest PayPal withdraw the privilege of doing business with them.

Here is an excerpt from a communication from Mark Coker, head honcho at Smashwords, sent to authors:

Today we are modifying our Terms of Service to clarify our policies regarding erotic fiction that contains be$tiality, r@pe and ince$t. If you write in any of these categories, please carefully read the instructions below and remove such content from Smashwords. If you don’t write in these categories, you can disregard this message.

PayPal is requiring Smashwords to immediately begin removing the above-mentioned categories of books. Please review your title(s) and proactively remove and archive such works if you are affected.

I am not an erotica writer, but this move on PayPal’s part is scaring me to my bones. Why? Because this is censorship, plain and simple. This is some third party entity sticking its nose in my business and telling me not only what I can and cannot read, but what I can and cannot write.

The issue is complicated because PP has a lot of clout. There is no other financial institution at the moment (although it seems to me there exists a prime opportunity for Google Wallet to make some moves) to whom Smashwords can turn to to handle the financial transactions required in running the business, and so have (reluctantly) decided to acquiesce to PP’s demands. I feel bad for Coker, because it is evident in his complete letter he is not at all comfortable between the rock and the hard place he now finds himself. He has chosen to live to fight another day, and I can’t blame him for that decision.

However, what scares me the most about this is PP is targeting erotica material NOW, but what will be the target tomorrow? Why is erotica being singled out? Why is it okay to have books on the shelves depicting violent acts such as murder or torture (which is illegal) but not okay to allow sexual acts? Why do we need PP to police what we, as adults, choose to purchase and read? Which is better? Two adults participating in a consensual sexual act or some crazed psychopath opening the skull of a dinner guest and eating his brain while he’s still alive? (I’m looking at you, Hannibal Lector.)

I think part of the problem (and there are so many parts to this my own brain is swimming) is PP has mistaken erotica for p0rnography. There’s a big difference, and I just find it outrageous PP would target a legitimate genre of fiction in its attack on freedom of expression of the literary world. They are a FINANCIAL INSTITUTION, not the moral police!

Right now, their target is erotica. What’s next? Religious-themed work? What happens if someone in the PP ranks decides Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” is offensive to their beliefs? Because if you think, should PP get away with this, that other genres are not at risk, THINK AGAIN.

“Game of Thrones” – George R.R. Martin
“Deerskin” – Robin McKinley
“Romeo and Juliet” – Shakespeare
“A Child Called ‘It”” – Dave Pelzer
Anything from Greek mythology
THE BIBLE

And what parameters is PP using to judge what is allowable and what isn’t? Currently, they say “erotica” with these themes, but what happens to the classics with similar themes? Are they going to be banned as well? Is paranormal romance, with werewolves and shapeshifters included in the ban on “be$tiality”? PP has determined that subjects such as BDSM is the same as r@pe, which tells me who ever is making these distinctions has no idea of what they speak. Who is drawing the lines and where is it going to stop?

If you don’t like this type of material, the fix is simple. DON’T BUY IT AND DON’T READ IT. Because that is YOUR decision, not PayPal’s! I don’t want to live in a sanitized literary world — that’s why I read and write in the first place. To provoke thought, to explore other realms of expression, to entertain. And although none of those themes appeal to me as a reader or a writer, I will defend to the death the rights of those who do read/write erotica to do so without financial discrimination.

Thank you, PayPal, for trying to steer me toward what you deem is the higher moral ground, but the truth is, I am an adult and I can decide that for myself. You ain’t my momma, and what you’re doing here is bordering on criminal. What you’re doing is sucking major hairy donkey dick.

Now, spank me for my be$tiality.

Consider signing this petition to inform PayPal you do not support their action.

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Once Upon A Time…

No, I’m not about to tell you a story. Sorry. What I am about to do is dissect one of my favorite television shows and bitch about what’s going on.

If you haven’t caught it yet, it’s called Once Upon A Time and it airs on ABC. If you are otherwise involved in things like a real life, Hulu offers the episodes after they air.

Why is Rumple in the back? That's just not right.

As the title suggests, the show is about a town called Storybrooke which has been under the evil spell of an evil queen for a long time. All the fairy tales you know and love have been twisted around to great effect, geared more toward the Grimm side of things rather than the pablum Disney has turned such fairy tales into.

BARF.

Of course, this is right up my alley, since I have taken great significant literary license with Greek mythology in Athena’s Promise, plus I play with the mythos of a lot of different tales. How fun!

The star of OUAT, to me, is Robert Carlyle, who plays Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold, a totally complex character for which I feel empathy, disgust, anger, and sympathy, sometimes all in one episode. And, I admit, a certain amount of attraction. Be that as it may, and as much as I’m a fan of the show as a whole, there is one part of the story line which really irritates me.

I know he's a bad boy. Why do you think I have such a crush?!

The series starts out by telling the story of Snow White and Prince Charming. Snow is depicted as an outlaw on the lam from the Evil Queen (and holy SHIT, is this chick evil!) and how she meets Prince Charming. Snow is independent, strong-willed, and really good at kicking ass. You know me — I am all for that. However, as the series has progressed Snow White’s alter-ego (Mary Margaret, can you stand it?) in the present-day setting is a mealy-mouthed, weak-willed, love-struck wuss, and it’s getting to the point I want to punch her deep in the throat. Not to mention Prince Charming (named David in the present-day setting) who is a sneaky, conniving, COWARD.

What makes this so complicated is Prince Charming and Snow White are actually married in Storybrooke, but in present-day it appears Prince Charming/David is married to someone else. Therefore, when he and Snow/MM creep because they’re so in love they can’t stay away from each other, they are both under the impression PC/David is cheating on his wife. This is part of the dark curse of Storybrooke initiated by the Evil Queen (omg, what a bitch, or have I said that already?).

She's gorgeous. But this woman is nothing but a hot mess.

I’m going to give the writers the benefit of the doubt and trust they have an overall story arc and a damned good reason they turned Snow into a Disney bitch. Because to be honest, despite their cursed romantical clusterfuck in which she and her cowardly and morally disturbing Prince find themselves, today’s Mary Margaret is a far cry from yesterday’s Snow White.

I want THIS Snow back. NOW.

You can blame the curse. Fine. I get that. But where is the Snow who originally told the Prince to stick it up his ass? Because I really liked that part. Heh.

The show is in terrible danger of jumping the shark. Some would say TOO LATE, the shark has jumped and danced its way off the stage. Because I am secretly in love with Rumple, I will give it a chance to get back on track, but it’s a struggle.

As you might have surmised, I am not a fan of Disney movies and how females are depicted. I feel although the movies are fun and all that crap, they really set up unrealistic expectations for young people. The girls think the major goal is to be rescued by a rich prince, and boys are led to believe they have to be rich and rescue beautiful girls.

I’d much rather girls are raised knowing they don’t need a prince; if they need to be rescued they are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves. Or the boys, if they need it. I want boys to know their princesses are more than able to stand on their own two feet and stand beside them, instead of needing so much maintenance and upkeep. And makeup.

ABC better get with the program. Sure, it’s just a silly show about silly fairy tales, but are they so silly when the message coming across is “love turns you into a mindless, morally dubious idiot”? Gah.

I’ll hang in there and hope for the best. At least I have Rumple.

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The First Rant of the New Year – The Word NO, Rape, and Responsibility

I’d like to start by saying someone or something stole my January and half my February and I think that’s rather rude. But it pales in comparison next to the REAL burr up my ass right now.

I realize this is most likely not going to be a popular opinion, and it’s also likely to cause some hard feelings. I’m okay with that. But it’s something that’s been building for a while — a long time, actually, and since this is my blog, I can say what I want. And yes, I also realize this is a topic which has been around the block more than once.

I receive a lot of unsolicited manuscripts from many different writers. I have read just about every genre known to mankind — I’ve had phases where all I read are biographies, sci-fi, epic fantasy and all the sub-genres, bizzaro, literary, historical stuff, poetry, Shakespeare, romance (oh yes, it’s true, I know Harlequin and Silhouette, although those years are long gone) and every sub-genre you can think of (and I can’t right now because I’m too pissed off). There’s also a crapload of free material out there, so I guess you could say in a literary sense, I get around. And some of the shit I’m reading is really, really pissing me off.

Not because the grammar or sentence structure makes me want to swallow a maggot milkshake rather than read one more word; not because the story line is about as ethereal as a lace curtain; not because the main character has the personality of a tongue depressor. Because many of these writers are hella talented and tell a really good story. No, what’s lighting my fire right now is IRRESPONSIBILITY.

Hey, it’s a free world. For the most part. You can write any damned thing you please. I can’t stop you, and I wouldn’t even if I could. But what I will do is drag your ass out into the light and ask you WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?

I’m talking to you, Romance Writer. You might write straight up historical romance, you could be an author of LGBT stories, contemporary stuff…it doesn’t really matter. I am seeing a lot of “her mouth said no but her eyes said yes” bullshit and I’m just SO OVER THIS CRAP. And a lot of it, pardon me, seems to be coming from the paranormal ether, but certainly not all of it.

Why does this bug me? For several reasons. I am sick to death of reading scenes where the woman says no, the man hears yes and proceeds even when she says no more than once, and they have hot monkey sex. (Insert preferred paranormal species here. They seem to get a pass on all kinds of abhorrent behavior.) Afterward, she’s all ga-ga over the guy and sometimes he expresses remorse because after all, he’s not a BAD guy, he’s just a HORNY guy and driven crazy over her incredible HAWTNESS, all is forgiven, and they ride off into the sunset and have thousands of fat babies.

Really?

For one, NO MEANS NO. “No” does not mean, “Oh, I’m just being coy because I want to preserve the fallacy I am a good girl just overwhelmed by the sensations of my lady bits” and NO does not mean, “Oh, if I say yes he’ll think I’m a bad girl and I’ll have to give up my Virgin Decoder Ring,” and NO doesn’t mean “Oh, go ahead and take it and by the way I love you for it and thank you so much for introducing me to the marvels of an orgasm.”

And NO, motherheifer, you do NOT get a free pass just because you have to drink blood to live, turn into a werewolf at the full moon and it’s the way of the pack, or your body parts are rotting off. Actually, if body parts are rotting off you probably shouldn’t be having any kind of rough sex in the first place. Gawd only knows what’s gonna fall off. Just a suggestion.

ANYWAY. Before you start jumping all over my shit and calling me Mrs. Brady (although she was a freak in her own right, GO FLO!) or saying, “Geez, Netta, you act like you don’t have a freak flag when we all know what a heinous untruth THAT is,” you’re right. I do have a freak flag. This is not about flying a freak flag. It’s not about “forced seduction” or erotic fantasies. I understand those, I have a few myself (that I shall keep to myself, pay no attention to the purple monkey, move along) and it’s not about titillation. It’s about glamorizing RAPE. There. I said it. Happy now?

Because when a woman says NO, and a man forces sex upon her anyway, that is called RAPE. There is nothing glamorous about it, there is nothing right about it, there is certainly nothing romantic about it. STOP. IT.

I mean it. Stop it. In fiction, why can’t the woman get on board and enjoy herself if that’s what she wants? Why can’t a man stop if the woman tells him NO? She can have her internal conflicts (oh lordy, don’t we all) but I’m afraid all these stories about the female saying NO with her mouth and YES with her eyes are desensitizing readers to the fact this situation is RAPE. And what about the mixed messages to the males out there? “Oh, you told me no, but you have bookshelves full of those romantical type books where the guy takes what he wants and they ride off into the sunset and have thousands of fat babies.”

Do you see where I’m going with this?

As a writer, you have to understand your words have power. You have never, ever in your life, held a weapon as powerful as the words you share with other people. Of course you’re an artist, of course you write for yourself, of course. But when you expose your work to other people, it’s a whole other ball game.

I’m not singling out romance writers, because it happens in every genre, but of course it’s more prevalent in romance. I’m not talking about realistic depictions of rape, or the horrendous and sad fallout after the fact. I’m not talking about a situation inimical to the plot of your story. I’m talking about this frivolous-type attitude toward a very serious issue. Think about what you are writing!

“Her mouth said “no” but her eyes said “yes”.”

Are you fucking kidding me?

IF HER MOUTH SAYS “NO” THEN THAT MEANS “NO”. (Besides the fact I have never met a talking eyeball.)

In this day and age (the heyday of rape in romance seems to have been the ’70s to the 90s although I feel like I’m seeing a resurgence) if you are a talented writer, certainly you can come up with something else to create tension and stop making it seem like this kind of situation is part of the mating ritual. Please.

Rape is all about power. It is not foreplay. It is not a way to bind a woman to you heart and soul. It is a crime. It is violent. It is wrong.

There are ways and ways and ways to explore the power dynamic between a man and a woman without using rape as the catalyst and if you can’t find them, you’re a shitty writer. That is my opinion. Therefore, if I read something of yours which trivializes this act, I will never read anything of yours again. I just won’t. I won’t promote it, I won’t edit it, I won’t read it.

Here is where I draw my line in the sand.

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Quit Moving The Cheese, Facebook!

Oh, hell yeah, you had to know it was coming.

My NettaRant, that is.

Directed at the Head of Douchebaggery, Mark Zuckerberg, who has once again showcased his lack of social skills.

Yes, Facebook has once again made some HUGE changes without regard for their population, and hoooo doggy, people are hot. Including me.

HATE. Yes, it's a strong word but not strong enough for how I feel.

You could make the argument that because Facebook is a free service, we don’t really have a right to complain. But this is bullshit, because Facebook actually makes a whole lot of money from those of us who use it. Not only from advertisements, but from gathering our information and selling it to mysterious third parties whose motivations are questionable at best and nefarious at worst.

Oh yeah. They're spying on you and probably watching you dance in your underwear.

You would think with a billion-dollar business, Facebook would treat their customers with more respect. No warning, no explanation, and no reason to change things. Everything was working fine, and if it’s not broke, why fix it? It’s like there’s a room full of geeks at Facebook headquarters who were sitting around one day, bored out of their minds, and probably sick and tired of playing video games. So, Zuckerberg walks in and says, “Hey! What am I paying you nerds for? Get busy and see how you can fuck things up, willya?” Not a sound business decision. Actually, you know what it feels like? It feels like a kid with a stick messing with an anthill just to see the ants run around.

Except me and my friends aren't ants, Zuckerberg!

Remember MySpace, Zuckerberg? Yeah, no one else does, either. That might be a lesson you might want to pay attention to — you piss off enough people, and they will find somewhere else to hang out. Someplace that doesn’t try to micromanage their social networking experience, someplace that doesn’t try to control when and how they receive their information. Oh, we’re not stupid. We know this is all about the money and we know information is power. But please, you underestimate us if you think we won’t find another way to gather and interact without you. YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY FISH IN THE POND.

See that, Zuckerberg? There's a whole lotta muthafuckin' fish in that pond, hear dat.

You might have heard of a little company called Google. And, you may have heard they’ve launched their own little social network called Google+. You might want to think about making sweeping changes and pissing off the very people WHO HAVE MADE YOU YOUR BILLIONS, FUCKWAD, lest they jump ship and leave your ass in the dust. Just a friendly head’s up. Which is more than you gave us.

As for me, I’ll keep my FB for now…if I can figure the thing out anymore. But in the meantime, I’m cheating on you with Google+, Zuckerberg, oh yes I am, and I’m not one bit sorry. You have done fucked up, and this isn’t the first time. But it might very well be the last time.

LEAVE THE FUCKING CHEESE ALONE, ZUCKERBERG. Next time you're bored, go play Angry Birds. Asshole.
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Noses Where There Shouldn’t Be

I love my job.

Today the weather is perfect. Sunny, clear blue sky with white puffy clouds. The dewpoint is thankfully low, meaning almost no humidity and it’s a balmy 72 degrees — a great relief from the 100+ temperatures from this Summer of Hell.

The windows are open, the breeze is blowing through the house and I’m working on articles today; tonight I’ll move on to editing. Foster the People are singing on my garage-sale stereo, procured for a mere $2. Life is good.

So, what’s the burr in my panties today? Because you know there has to be one. Well, I have to say it’s not entirely my fault — there were conversations, and then I read my friend Patti Larsen’s post and my irritation runneth over. And I just have to make some pertinent points:

1. Publishing a book doesn’t mean you are suddenly rolling in the money. Especially if you self-publish. Bitch, please. Saying something like that just highlights your ignorance of how the writing business actually works. Like Patti says (and it’s been my mantra for years) this is a MARATHON, not a SPRINT. Meaning, you might earn some decent cash over the span of months or years, but you don’t publish and take a wheelbarrow to the bank the next day. I wish.

This is more likely what's in my wheelbarrow.

2. People don’t take into consideration the fact that successful writers (notice the distinction, okay? Don’t make me point it out again) have put in thousands of hours learning their craft, practicing their skills and falling flat on their ass. Hitting it big right out of the gate is rare and you will probably have a better chance of being hit by lightning. Seriously. Not that it doesn’t happen, but the stars have to be aligned just right. The vast majority of successful writers have worked hard to get where they are, and work hard to stay there. They’ve taken second jobs, worked ungodly hours, made time at five am to throw words at the paper and hoping they stick while juggling a full-time job, family and personal relationships.

This is more like what we do. It's dangerous and we sweat.

3. In addition to this, successful writers have also invested in their BUSINESS. That’s right, you heard me. Writing for a living is a BUSINESS. Oh, there’s art and skill and talent, of course — but if you don’t treat your writing career as a business, you’re not going to make it. This means you are going to have to make some sacrifices along the way. Equipment, books, workshops, conferences, membership to professional organizations, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s editing, book covers, formatting, ARCS…so much more. If you’re not willing to invest in your business, in improving your skills as much as you can, you’re making this ten times more difficult for yourself. Don’t believe me? Fine. I’m the one making a living as a writer. How about you?

Tell you what. You don't dissect me, and I won't dissect you. Deal?

4. As far as asking me how much money I make or how many books I’ve sold, my advice is…DON’T. Don’t ask me or any other writer that kind of question, because it’s rude, invasive, and none of your fucking business. I would never ask YOU such a personal question, no matter what your profession is. How would you feel if someone asked you how much you have in your bank account? My kids don’t even know this. My boyfriend doesn’t know. And I don’t know this about them. It’s none of my business. No one but ME knows my financial status, it’s classified and unless you have the decoder ring and the password, you aren’t gonna know either. I’m the one that pays my bills. I’m the only one privy to that info. It blows my mind that just because you’re a writer, people think they have the right to stick their nose right in the middle of your personal business. So don’t be a rude fucktard.

GET OUT.

In conclusion, mind your own business and I’ll mind mine.

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Rants of a Random Nature

Well, you know me. A week isn’t complete unless I have a burr up my ass about something. I don’t even try to fight it anymore. I embrace my Inner Bitch, and the truth is, if I don’t let her out for some air she causes diarrhea, skin rashes and heart palpitations. It’s ugly.

And then I experience the urge to rip and tear. Which could get me arrested.

First of all, although I covered my feelings about marketing here, much to my relief I’m not the only one. Eden Baylee has also covered the subject especially how it applies to Twitter. You might even remember this blog post from a little while back.

Jeezum fecking cheeto, some people just don’t get it.

Of course, I understand I’m probably preaching to the choir here, and the people who really need to read posts like this are paying absolutely no attention to my foot-stomping, hair-pulling hissy fit. So be it.

Now knock it off before I have a rupture!

On to the next burr up my ass. I know you can’t wait.

Whiners.

You know who you are.

Oh, this is too DIFFICULT! It’s so HAAAAAAAAARD! I’m working my fingers to the bone, typing my deathless literature, and I’m so UNDERAPPRECIATED! My book isn’t selling, I don’t know what to do, Twitter sucks, Facebook sucks, Google+ sucks, it all sucks and it doesn’t work! Why can’t I sell material like Konrath or Hocking? ‘Cuz my stuff is just as good, NO! IT’S BETTER! My mother said so! I’m not doing this anymore! I’m taking my ball and I’M GOING HOME!

WAH WAH WAH!

Okay, now before I come across as some stone-cold bitch who never feels the same way, I do understand whining and crying and I do a fair amount of this myself. Yes, I sure do. And if you’re feeling as if you just can’t take the writing life one more minute and you want to quit, then take your frikken’ frackin’ ball and go home. Go on. Buh-bye. Please know I say this to you with all the love in my heart, but enough is enough.

However, if you are serious about this business, truly hooked through the nose by the drug of words, you’ll be back. Here are some suggestions on getting through the temporary urge to apply a flamethrower to your home office and take up yak-raising.

This is a yak. Notice the horns. Might be more dangerous than writing.

1. Try not to whine and cry in public (like on your blog. Or endless and irritating Tweets and FB updates). Oh, go ahead and impose upon your long-suffering friends and family, but you should probably go light on that, too. Why? Because you’re going to look like a real fool when you come crawling back. Plus, they’ve probably heard it too many times already and are likely on the edge of stabbing you in the liver with sporks. (Don’t ask me how I know this.)

2. If you just HAVE to get it out, then write it out. No one has to see it but you, but once you cough up that hairball you’ll probably feel better. Plus, you can read over all the melodramatic posturing at a later date (when you’re rich and successful) and laugh at what a Drama Queen you were.

3. Just like you would invest in any business, invest in your book. Yes, I know things are tight financially, who you telling? But do whatever it takes — barter, negotiate, learn the skills yourself — to make your book the best and most professional it can be. This means cover art, formatting and EDITING.

4. SHUT. THE FUCK UP. AND WRITE. The best way to market your work is to write the next book already! Why are you wasting valuable time obsessing over sales reports, social media sites and how many units you are moving? I know you have to do a certain amount of marketing and promotion, but the best thing you can do is just put your head down and write the next book…and the next…and the next. You get the point. Konrath and Hocking have a TON of material out there — what do you have? Get with the program.

There is a total misconception out there that the writing life is easy, glamorous and the ticket to fame, fortune and naked minions. It’s not the writing which is difficult if you are willing to put in the time and the work, it’s the business of writing which can be VERY difficult if you’re planning on doing it for a living. NEWSFLASH: You’re going to have to work. You’re going to have to expand your horizons and learn a wide variety of skills. You’re going to have to rid yourself of the misguided notion that this shit is easy and anyone can do it. Because that is not the case.

But most of all, you’re going to have to sit your ass in a chair, quit that infernal WHINING and WRITE.

This is the only "wine" I want to hear out of you. Now go write.
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Enter The Hammer Of Promotion

Okay, I’ve held this in as long as I can. Please note this NettaRant ™ is not directed to anyone in particular — but if you’re uncomfortable reading it or if it pisses you off on some level, chances are this rant applies to you.

If you think I'm talking to you, I probably am. Pay attention.

*Sigh* I really hate having this conversation, and I’ll admit I’m overworked and a bit crabby. I blame the Ring of Fire and the triple digit temperatures. And the fact I may have a normally crabby type of temperament. Plus the fact I just can’t keep a good rant to myself. It makes me feel bloated, like after you eat a large meal including cruciferous vegetables like cabbage or broccoli.

OR! Like you’ve been force-fed something you wouldn’t ordinarily eat!

Just so you know. This is NEVER going to happen. Not on MY plate.

What am I talking about? Marketing. Specifically, marketing a book.

My social networks are full of people who both read and write books, novels, short stories, etc. I understand the need to promote yourself — I’m a novelist, too, and I’ve self-published. Even those who have a legacy publishing contract have to do the majority of their own promotion. It’s a necessary evil of the job. I get it.

But look. If all I ever hear out of you are promotional efforts about your book/interview/blog post, I’m going to unfollow your ass, capish? I appreciate the fact you’re trying to sell your book, but what I don’t appreciate is the constant fucking infomercial about where to find your book, how great people think your book is, the fact your book is now for sale, and the constant begging to “like” pages, reviews, visit here, look at this, SEE ME AND SEE MY BOOK. I get it already!

Posting the same thing forty-seven times a day on every conceivable social networking site is not going to entice me to buy your book. As a matter of fact, it’s going to piss me off. Can you not talk about anything else? Is there no other social engagement of any kind?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about people who promote their book and socially engage. I’m talking about the irritating, annoying, constant barrage of SEEMYBOOKTHISISMYBOOKBUYMYBOOKPASSITALONG
LIKEMYPAGEITSMYBOOKDIDYOUKNOWIWROTEABOOK
YOUCANBUYTHISBOOKRIGHTNOWSEETHISISMYBOOK
BUYMYBOOKPASSITALONGITSMYBOOKDIDYOUKNOW
IWROTEABOOKLIKEMYPAGEYOUCANBUYTHISBOOK
RIGHTNOWSEETHISISMYBOOKBUYMYBOOK

Come on. You know it pisses you off too. From people who never comment on anything you post, never offer a personal word, never engage in conversation unless it has something to do with THEIR BOOK.

You're making me feel very, very STABBY.

Honestly, I do understand how difficult it is to promote your book, how necessary and I support the indie movement. But please, take one minute and think this over, okay?

You’re on Facebook and you have friends/family. You also have a fan page. This is great, and I would expect you to inform both groups updates about your book and maybe teasers, glimpses into artwork, how the whole process is coming along. What you don’t need to do is post every damned hour about where your book can be purchased. Once you post a couple of times, your people are going to know where to find you. Why are you beating that poor, dead horse?

Give the poor horse a break! Can't you see IT CAN'T TAKE ANY MORE!

But NETTA! How am I supposed to sell my book if I don’t continuously bang people over the head with a hammer? Isn’t that how sales work?

Well, that’s how *hard* sales work, but it’s not really all that effective when it comes to the internet crowd. Internet peeps are on to that hard-sell advertising crap, and what you should probably do is understand using social networking to promote your product is a tricky business. I’ve had people tell me promoting via Twitter is totally unproductive — then I look at their Twitter stream only to see nothing but promotion of their work, a few re-Tweets, and no engagement of any kind. They’re called SOCIAL NETWORKS for a reason, people!

If all you do is post stuff about your book and don’t ever have a conversation about something else, you’re doing it wrong. Social networking is about building relationships with people, and believe it or not, the sales follow. Radical idea, isn’t it?

So, yeah. Tweet me once in a while. Comment now and then on a post. Promote other people you believe in. Don’t just toot your own horn exclusively, because trust me, it gets old FAST.

Now you kids git offa my lawn!

This is not my lawn.

All I’m saying is think about what you’re doing before you alienate people with your Magic Bullet bullshit. Yes, promote your book and be proud! You should be. But step away from the Hammer lest it be wrenched from your grasp and used to whip your ass.

Oh yeah. It's coming for you.
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