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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

WWWW: Bruce Willis We Need You!

It's coming! Scientists and movie-makers have been talking about it for years. I'm pretty sure there have even been a couple of false alarms, but it looks like Chicken Little knew what the hell he was talking about. An asteroid might be on a collision course with Earth, set to strike on February 5, 2040. So, what does this mean for us? Should we start building an arc now? Perhaps I'll see about digging out a bunker in the woods nearby and stocking it with twinkies before they're all gone. I can't wait to see what plans are drawn up on how to deflect or destroy it. Where's the Death Star when we need it?

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Evils of Self Publishing: A Writer's View

*The following post is being written as Missy the writer, rather than the previous rant from Melissa the reader.*

The saying, you can't teach an old dog new tricks, definitely applies to me. I'm the type of person who once I get something in my head, it's kinda hard to shake it. When I first decided to try my hand at being published in 2008, self-publishing was still frowned upon by most. The term vanity press was said with a wrinkled nose and furrowed brow. I was warned away from venturing in that direction by more than one knowledgeable person. Then I don't really know what happened. Slowly but surely things changed and it's now all the rage to self-pub your work. Some authors do it out of necessity for various reasons, some to try the venture. It's true there is a lot to be said for self-publishing, but is it really a trend worth trying?

My take on it for my own work has always been, I really need my editors. I'm reminded of this every time I get edits back for my newest book. I don't think I'm a horrible writer, but there are a lot of mechanical things I miss. I also like certain words and commas too damn much. Plus I tend to have my heroes use pet names a lot. These are traits I'm sure I'll eventually overcome, but one thing I can't seem to get over is the self-publishing stigma. In the back of my mind is the little voice saying: if it's not good enough for a publishing contract, it's not good enough to publish.

Now, any of my author friends reading this please don't take offense. That little voice is all about me and my writing. These are my stigmas and hang-ups. However, if you read yesterday's rant you'll see the other side of why I'm still shying away from self-publishing. These ideas might change. It was only about four years ago that I didn't think my writing was good enough to be published at all. I think I've come a long way, and so has the industry.

My only other concern is the free and $ .99 trend. As I mentioned yesterday I'm of the you get what you pay for mindset about most things. I don't want to devalue my own work. A visual artist would never walk into a gallery and slash the prices of his/her paintings or sculptures just to get his/her name out there. The work would speak for itself. As an author I feel my writing is my art. I'd hope it would speak for itself, good or bad, to those who view it.

So to self-pub or not to self-pub, is that the question? For me, personally, the answer is not right now. I'm probably missing out on a good thing, wouldn't be the first time. But I just don't think it's something I can fully get behind for my own work right now. Besides, I really love my publishers.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Evils of Self Publishing: A Reader's View

*I'd like to start the following semi-rant with the clarification that it's from Melissa the reader, not Missy the writer. That one will come later.*

Self-publishing is all the rave right now and for some this is a really good thing. However, as a reader I'm still on the fence. I love that I can download a plethora of books for free, legally from authors who just want to get their name out there. I love that I can buy just as many books for as little as $ .99. That is, I love it until I actually try to read the books.

Now don't get me wrong. There are plenty of authors out there who actually take the time to edit their books, or have them professionally edited. There are authors who take enough pride in their work to be certain they are putting a quality product on the market. Unfortunately, there are just as many who either don't or just don't seem to. To be honest, it's gotten to the point where when I open a book file and see the publisher as Smashwords I cringe, and consider not even reading it. It's rare for me to read a Smashwords book with few to no errors in it. Correction, I don't think I've ever read one with no errors in it. And I don't just mean typos. There are grammatical errors and writing fundamentals mistakes that make me roll my eyes and think, why didn't this author catch that?

In most products I'm a firm believer of you get what you pay for. It's a shame that I'm beginning to wonder if that's not the case with literature as well. I've never added a review to Goodreads that says I'm glad I got the book for free, but it's been very tempting. There are just too many where that applies.

So, self-publishing, is it a good thing? Is it helping the industry? Honestly I just don't know. Again, as a reader, I have my doubts because of the quality of product that I'm getting when I look. However, I've only really looked in the romance genre and it's sub-genres. If this is going to be the trend with the types of books I love to read, my heart is truly broken.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday WTF?: It's a School, Not a Dating Service!

Yet another teacher was in the news on Thursday for having an "inappropriate relationship" with a student. What boggles my mind is this was an eighth grade teacher, putting her students in the 13-15 year range. Okay, I don't care how early puberty hits, there is no 15 year old on the planet that would get me hot and bothered. How in the fuck can these teachers, men and women who are sworn to teach our children, look at them one day and not see a child before them? 
When we saw the bit on the news my husband said, "What the fuck? It's not like they can't go to a bar or jump online and find someone their own age?"
Is it just too easy? Do these teachers who have broken such a sacred rule spend too much time with our kids? It's not like they don't know it's wrong. At what point do they start seeing these kids as potential adult flings rather than the children they are? I just can't wrap my head around it.
Now, I have two teenage daughters, one in high school and one in middle school. I'll admit I've done double-takes before on a couple of their teachers, but NEVER their classmates. I'll joke with them about who is cute and who isn't, but I'm JOKING. When I look around at boys below twenty, that's just what I see...BOYS. And they're strangers, not children I've watched age over a school year. Not kids I've learned the bad habits of and know their parents' names.
It's getting to the point where home schooling is the rule rather than the exception. It seems the only way to keep our children safe from predators.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

WWWW: I'm Here! Now What?

One of the main reasons I log on everyday is to promote my writing. In that spirit I try to be as up to date on social networking and what is going on in the vast world web. So, when Triberr appeared, to my eyes, I took a look at it...and didn't know what the fuck I was seeing. Another author asked me to join her tribe and gave me a list of rules about posting and promoting and tweeting my little heart out. Not only was I confused, I was exhausted by the time I finished looking into it. So, I politely thanked her and said I wasn't interested at the time. That was in December. Now another author brought it up again (without the list of rules and an already established tribe), so I took the plunge. I'm now a Triberr member in a tribe for Ellora's Cave authors. What does this mean? I still have no earthly idea, but at least I know my fellow author is new at it too. If I totally screw things up, maybe she won't notice.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Judi McCoy

For those of you who don't recognize the lovely lady on the left, her name is Judi McCoy. I had the pleasure of meeting her in April 2008 when I attended the Romantic Times convention and enrolled in the beginning writer's course. Judi was our teacher. She was very honest and outspoken about what it takes to be a successful writer in the romance world, and she was great about answering everyone's questions. She was an inspiration.
At that point in my life I hadn't seriously considered writing as a career. I wrote to get the story out of my head. I wrote to shut the characters up. My friends and family liked what I wrote and encouraged me to continue, but I figured they were biased and didn't really count. Then I took Judi's course, turned in a ten-page excerpt from They Call Me Death, and waited for a professional's opinion. She liked it. Her critique was honest and encouraging. She said I really had a chance at getting published. Her words were the catalyst that prompted me to finish They Call Me Death and add the romantic vein. Because of Judi, I'm now a published author.
I'm not saying I never would have pursued a writing career without having met her, but I might still be unpublished today without her encouragement. She is already sorely missed.

If you've never read any of her books and enjoy contemporary romance, you're missing out. You can find all of her information here. My favorite is the goddess series.
God bless you Judi. You'll always be in my heart. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday WTF?: Can't You Keep it to Yourself?

I used to think it was just me. Like, maybe I have one of those faces that makes people want to share every little tidbit of their lives with me. However, after the last couple of years of being steadily online and suffering the same phenomenon, I just don't know. People love to share with me. In person it's usually just me, but online it's the whole world. When I worked, I was in a customer service position and though I wasn't a bartender, or psychiatrist, I often felt I should be paid as one. Rarely a day went by that I didn't learn some seriously personal information about a complete stranger. Why?! I don't know. People just like to tell me things.
Online it's even worse. Facebook already tells us everyone's ages, birthdays, and locations. I can discover favorite foods, TV shows, and sports teams. However, the culture of over-sharing created by online social networks now has me going through emotional upheaval daily. Every single day someone out there gives me bad news. Death, illness, some form of loss. It's never ending. There are plenty of jokes and good news announcements too. I'm just curious as to why we all share so much of ourselves with people we will never meet face-to-face. Is it the promise of anonymity? Does that make us feel safer? I guess so. I'm guilty of making pretty personal announcements from time to time too, but the really gut-wrenching things, ya'll will never know.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

WWWW: Protest the Real Problem

Last week I noticed an article online about people protesting outside of Apple stores because of the unsafe working conditions some Apple product manufacturers use. Okay I'm all for protesting, especially when it comes to human lives being at stake. I'm not saying this isn't a serious problem, but come on. Apple is just one of many companies using Chinese manufacturers for their products. Why? Because it's a hell of a lot cheaper than using US companies who are bound by US labor laws. So what's the real problem? First, the Chinese government's apparent refusal to have laws in place to protect their citizens from unsafe working conditions. Second, every nation's companies who continue to use the Chinese manufacturers. So go ahead and protest Apple all you want, but then walk around your house and check labels. There are a hell of a lot more companies we need to protest too if we really want to see change.
More info here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Forever Valentine

Work-                      roughened
hands and                ready smile,
your hazel eyes see           right through me.
From boy to man       before my eyes,
we've become compliments of each other.
What I never expected to last so long,
 has become my life-long living dream.
Through numerous ups and downs,
now fewer obstacles between us.
With four beautiful little smiles to
prove you were my destiny.
My friend, my partner
 and confidante,
my man and lover,
my husband.
My forever

Would you like to read another Valentine's Day blog post? Read Selena Robins' post here.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Who the Fuck are You?

Have you ever run into someone from your past unexpectedly and their reaction to seeing you makes you stop to consider the person you used to be? That happened to me yesterday but it wasn't the first time. In fact, this would mark the third time I've run into this person from my high school days who basically turned away when he saw me. Huh. The way I remember it, he was a total fucktard in high school who acted as if maturity was a bad word. We never actually got along but I didn't consider it any great loss. So what does it matter now? Well, for the most part whenever I run into people I used to see on a daily basis they're friendly or at least cordial. The way this guy reacts to me is so completely unexpected it just threw me for a loop. I initially laughed it off, but the more I think about it the more I wonder. Was I that big of a bitch to him that all these (nearly twenty) years later, he would rather act is if I don't exist at all than neutrally acknowledge my existence?
The first two times I saw him were both at our neighborhood grocery store. Yeah, this guy lives in my neighborhood somewhere. Funny. Both times he glanced at me, then so obviously looked away and kept walking it made me laugh. Then yesterday I ran into him at the elementary school. We were both there to present at career day but I didn't catch what he does for a living. I walked into the room, saw him and smiled (I think I even mouthed "hi") and he immediately turned his head away. I had to fight the urge to laugh out loud. It wasn't really a big deal to me then, but now it kind of bothers me. I don't really care that I'm being ignored. I care that I might have been so horrible to him years ago that he just can't get over it.
Well, the truth is I'll probably never know one way or the other. Our former mutual friends no longer talk to him and I'm sure as hell not going to try. Ah well, no sense losing sleep over it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday WTF?: Moms Pay Attention!

I wear many hats in life but first and foremost am a mother. So, when I see stories like the video of the little girl nearly being kidnapped in Walmart it really strikes a nerve. I'm not like many people who watched the news clip and thought, oh what a brave little girl. In fact, my initial reaction was, what a fucking stupid ass mom! The news anchor first said the mom was just a couple of aisles over, then later mentions the mom was shopping for fruit and left her seven-year old in the toy aisle. I've been to many Walmarts and can testify that the fruit is nowhere near the toy aisle. As a matter of fact, in most locations it's on the other side of the store since food and non-food items are separated. Now, when I was little it might have been okay to leave a seven year-old on one side of a big-ass store like Walmart all alone. But those days are gone and have been for some time. What mother doesn't know there are plenty of sick fucks in the world willing to victimize our children? So, I want to know if this woman is going to be charged with neglect, because leaving her daughter alone for any length of time in this situation was just plain stupid.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

WWWW: It Makes Me Ill...

There are many subjects I'm passionate about and willing to argue over with anyone. Sometimes I agree with the opposing opinion and can be swayed, sometimes not. However, there is one subject that is my major hot button. I will never agree that it is in any way okay or excusable to cheat. Infidelity is such a serious issue in my mind, it makes me ill to even read about it in fiction. Seriously, physically ill. So, this week's WWWW finding is one I could barely stomach. By now I'm sure ya'll have heard of the White House intern who fucked the president...oh I mean the newest one. According to Mimi Alford, she had an affair with JFK, starting with losing her virginity in (gag) his wife's bed! Honestly, I've never cared one way or the other about JFK. I haven't studied enough of his political history to know if the world would have been a better place without the infamous bullet that took off the back of his head. But now that this has come to light I definitely have a strong opinion of the man, and it isn't a good one. 
Could she be lying? Of course, but why? After all these years surely there's another subject she could have written about if this wasn't true and all she wanted was a book deal. I would think just being an intern during JFK's reign would be enough. Does it really matter? Well, probably not to most of my generation. However, the ones who can recall exactly where they were and what they were doing when news of his death hit them may be struck again by this news. He has become more than a political figure. He is the icon of a generation.
To me this news is devastating not because of who he was, but because of what he represents to the world. Here is yet another American politician who simply refused to hold to the sanctity of marriage. Yes, it's a personal issue that has nothing to do with their job as a politician, but what about their integrity? What about the trust we as the American public place in these bastards who can't even remember the sacred vows they made to the most important person in their lives? If the President of the United States is willing to overlook his promise to his wife, why the hell would he care about promises made to complete strangers? 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

My New Writing Cave...In There Somewhere

If you're following me on Twitter or reading my Facebook posts, you may have already seen a couple of these shots. This, ladies and gentlemen, is my new writing cave! To say I'm excited would be a bit of an understatement. I'm fucking ecstatic!
It took a bit of work to get moved into our new house, but it's definitely worth it to have my own office space...finally! This was originally dubbed the sitting room to the master bedroom.
It took almost a full week to unpack my 20+ boxes of books because I also cataloged them into my Collectorz software at the same time. With reference books and religious tomes, I have over 900 books.
I was surprised to see Stephen King is not the only author who needed his own shelf. I also have acquired a lot of Lora Leigh, Clive Barker and Sherrilyn Kenyon. Not to mention I have full collections of Kerrelyn Sparks' and Lynsay Sands' vampire series.
I also found quite a few books I don't even remember buying, including many older than me. Now I have to figure out where I can put another shelf to prepare for the Houston Library system's annual book sale in April.
Believe it or not, there is a computer hidden in there somewhere. ;-)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday WTF?: A Prostitute by Any Other Name...

And here's another attempt at me trying to do a weekly blog thing. So, every Friday I'll come up with something that completely boggles my mind for Friday WTF?
I have over a thousand followers on Twitter but they always come to me slowly. Because of that, I'm able to wade through them one at a time and check them out before deciding on whether to follow back. One of my most recent followers brought to light something I hadn't really thought about before. In this day and age do men really still have to pay for sex? I ask this because if even a quarter of the spam I receive is based in any type of reality, there are plenty of people out there willing to have sex with total strangers at a moment's notice...for free.
The follower I speak of lists herself as an International Escort and Elite Companion. Oookay. Now, I'm not knocking her gig. Hell, if I could charge the prices she has listed just for the initial meet and greet, I'd do it in a heartbeat. What gets me is, Why? Why would any man, obviously rich by her price lists, be willing to pay a woman for her time knowing it's nothing more than that? I mean, I can understand the whole business transaction - no emotional attachment aspect to a point, but come on. Today's women are a hell of a lot more in the know about sex, sexual freedom, and what men really want than we were a decade and more ago. In my opinion, it's easier for a businessman to meet a woman and be up front about wanting a sexually based relationship, that might go nowhere, today than it was in the past. Am I wrong? Am I being totally naive about how women think? I've been in a committed relationship for sixteen years. That means I was never a single "adult". My late teen years were lonesome but not much, so I've never really had to swim through the dating pool.
She also mentions men spending time away from their lives of things like being a husband to be with her. Really? Is an affair really worth thousands of dollars right out of the gate? That not only appalls but completely mystifies me. I'm thinking it would be cheaper to get a divorce and find the woman you actually want to have sex with rather than meet this chic, who is also meeting God knows how many others, from time to time. But that's just my female logical brain working here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

WWWW: Child Molesters Beware

The above video was brought to my attention by an article about music genres. Now, I'll admit I'd never heard of Skrillex before, nor do I know how they should or want to be classified. But all that aside, what an awesome fucking video! I absolutely love this one and think it should be made into a full length movie. Yes, there is definitely a good horror novel in there somewhere.