Monday, November 28, 2011

To be hurt, angry, and need to bitch about it...

So, normally I consider myself strong and tend to be the shoulder that is cried upon instead of the crier who needs the shoulder. I don't need to cry but a hug might temper down the anger that has been born from the recent hurt caused by someone I thought was a dear & close friend.

Long story short… well as short as it could be. My close friend and his boyfriend returned to Fla. in Aug. while I was on vacation. I got a phone call basically telling me that they were going to be homeless in 2 days after their paid motel was up. I never hesitated. Told them both to go to my house, even though I wouldn't be home for another week.

Fast forward 3 weeks. Caught my friend's boyfriend physically abusing him. Well, that doesn't fly in my house and the boyfriend is lucky he didn't end up in my septic tank or that my Marine hubby didn't take him apart limb by limb. My friend said it was over and thanked me profusely for helping him end the relationship.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. I had a hysterectomy (maybe that's why I need a hug or just feel like something needs to be killed? Really leaning toward the killing…). I received many calls, tweets, txts, emails, and facebook msgs wishing me well or just inquiring if everything went okay. Some of the people who contacted me post-op were people I did not even realized thought of me as a friend enough to inquire. My friend, who was still living under my roof, who I really thought of as the closest thing to a best friend I had (which says a LOT if you know my friend pool… or maybe I should say friend puddle!), did not even bother to contact me after my surgery. After 5 days of being out of town at my mother's to recover and hurt from no msg from him (which hubby mentioned to my friend), I received a text from him saying he "didn't want to cause you (me) more stress." WTF does that mean? 3 days later when I came back home, he txt to ask if I was mad at him. I replied and told him I was hurt but that hurt was quickly turning to anger. This was last Sat. He apologized again… all was forgiven.

Fast forward to 3 days ago (Sat.). My friend was not home when I awoke which was not out of the norm. Late in the day I sent him a txt asking when he would be back since I wanted to change out the bed in the guest room (we put him on an air mattress and were moving in a 'real' bed for him.) A few hours go by and no answer so I called. Left a voicemail. He didn't come home Sat. night and when I mentioned moving the bed into the guest room to my daughter, she said she thought he moved out since he had a bag with him when he left. I was surprised to say the least! We checked the room and found a note thanking me and my husband for everything and informing us he was moving to Atlanta (where the ex is but not to be with the ex… yeah right, damn battered spouse syndrome at work here!… oh well not my problem.)

*takes a deep breath* Okay… let me be very clear here. I have been on the wrong end of an abusive relationship and thankfully was able to get out of it. I know while in it, I did stupid shit but I do not think that my friend being in that same shitty place as I once was, is enough of an excuse for what he has done to me. I mean, I let him live in my home for 4 months, 4!, for free and did not ask anything of him except that he get back on his feet again.

I guess that just makes me a sucker or a sap but is that really the case?
Is my friend just so blinded by his abusive ex (well, guess it won't be ex anymore!) that he really has no clue how shitty he's treated me?
Or, maybe I just expected the guy I knew, who was a close & dear friend four years ago, to be the same caring and loving friend that he once was.

Whatever…. I now realize this is why I have acquaintances in real life and only friends online. Online friends have never caused me such hurt but it never fails that every time, EVERYTIME! I extend a hand to a real life friend, they hurt me. In the end, it is my own fault for being originally hurt and now extremely pissed off. I go ALL in for anything I do, especially friendships. I think for now, I will just fold on the friendship deal and step away from the table for awhile…. and head to the bar for a drink and the acquaintances there who seem to care more for me than my ex-friend ever did.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So... you want to be a self published author, do you?

Here is some information that I put together for a writers panel on e-pub / POD that I hosted at Necronomicon.

Here are the basics - e-pub means any electronically published work. Whereas, POD stands for Print On Demand. All books that will eventually end up online or in print start out in an electronic file so whether you decide to stay strictly e-pub or eventually move to POD, all of this information can apply.
Let's start with the Advantages...
  • Less start up $$ needed - Basically to self publish you just need to create an account at a POD site and upload your story. Or upload your work to a site like Smashwords what specilizes in e-pubs.This does not cost anything but just because you write a book and make it available in print doesn't mean that it is good or will sell.
  • More control over work - No editor to tell you to change your story or no one to tell you what to sell it for.
  • Work at your own pace - No deadline to meet. While this is appealing, you will need to be dedicated to writing your story.
  • Keep all the profit minus print/shipping costs - Your only cost is in ordering your own printed stock and paying for the shipping to have it delivered to you.
  •  Companies like CreateSpace & Lulu include automatic Amazon listing, limited cover options, your own eStore (Lulu only).
The disadvantage list is much, Much longer!

  • You have to do everything (editing, formatting, marketing) yourself. - This many not sound very hard but you would be surprised. If you are willing to learn how to do this on your own, it can be accomplished.  Editors are EXPENSIVE! Sometimes you can find one to edit for 25 cents a page but more often then not they charge per word. I use beta readers but be warned sometimes they are just looking to read a free story and are not reliable for finding errors (spelling/grammar) or giving feedback in a timely manner.
  • Most POD sites will provide a formatting guideline for printing your book. You may have a learning curve with this is you are not proficient with the program you are using to write your book (i.e. Word).

  • You have to educate yourself on ISBNs, Tax ID’s, public domain, and conventions. - Sites like Lulu & CreateSpace offer "free" ISBNs but they come with limitations. You need to read carefully what you are allowed to do with your published book if it is under a "free" ISBN as there are some restrictions. ISBNs can be purchased (100 for $800 or something like that) and that may be the route you wish to go if you are hoping a big publishing house might "pick-up" your book in the future. As a self published author, you can earn money from selling your book for up to 3 years if the money earned is under the federal cap by using your SS# as your Tax ID# (because the money earned is considered to be earned from a hobby). However, if you go over the cap you will need a federally issued Tax ID #. You should also be aware that you may be asked for a Tax ID # if you are selling your book at an appearance or convention.
  • Marketing can be a huge hurtle for a self publishing author. If you believe you can just create a website and that your listing on Amazon will sell your books, then you are sadly mistaken. You may need to educate yourself on marketing strategies and even then you may not sell many books. As an author with a Bachelor's in Marketing, I am still struggling to get out of the "red."
  • If you do not know what public domain is, you will need to educate yourself. There is A LOT to learn on this topic (too much to cover here) but you need to know about "Copyrights" & "All Rights Reserved" for imagines and your own work.
  • Marketing, I covered above but conventions fall into this category. Learning what conventions you want to market your book at and the costs affiliated with the conventions requires research and networking.
  • You have to have money to order proof’s and inventory for conventions if you are going to have books in print. As the saying goes, you have to spend money to make money. We've all heard the saying and it applies to self publishing as well. You don't have to have books on hand to sell at conventions and guest appearances but it does help! Readers want to "see" what they are buying upfront.
  • Create separate accounts (PayPal/Bank). - Keeping your accounts separate is essential in any business venture. The last thing you want is to be audited. If you are not familiar with this practice, then you need to educate yourself on it. Research how to start a small business and you will learn what you need to know (again, too much to cover here) because becoming self published is a business!
Easiest thing about e-pub/POD?
Instant gratification if you aren't afraid to learning what you don’t know and working your butt off!

Hardest thing about e-pub/POD
  • Finding a good editor and being able to afford them.  As I mentioned, editor's don't come cheap. There are several options if you can not afford one. Beta readers, I already mentioned but consider writing groups, college English majors, or English teachers.
  • Finding cover art. Even though CreateSpace & Lulu have databases with public domain art, they might not have something that fits for your book (Ex. Fates) Cover art is EXPENSIVE and usually you are only paying a "licensing fee" to use the art and the artist retains the copyright. If you are not sure what I mean, again you need to educate yourself on these terms (too much to cover here). For example, the 'cheapest' licensing fee I have come across so far was $300 for a piece of art and I would be limited to using it for the book cover only. What this means is that I would have to buy a separate license to use the same art on any promotional materials (business cards, bookmarks, t-shirts, etc.)
Things to ask yourself before you decide to self publish...

  • What are the reasons you want to self publish? - Too expensive to send manuscripts out to big publishing houses? Formatting a manuscript to send to a publishing house is another thing you will have to educate yourself on. Each publisher has a different format requirement but most require single-sided, double spaced pages and the manuscript must be bound. Think about this for a moment... if your book is 300 pages normally, just to make it single-sided bumps it up to 600 pages. Then it must be double spaced so now you are looking at 1200 pages. Bind it at FedX or Kinko's and you end up spending almost $100 for one formatted manuscript to be sent to a publisher. And that is with no guarantee that it will even be read!
  • Don’t want to go through the rejection process? - Waiting to hear back from a big publishing house can take months and that is if they even bothered to look at your manuscript. Then if you do hear from them, can you take the criticism that comes with it? Many writers can not!
  •  Impatient to see your name on the cover? - This is the worst reason to self publish! If you just want your name on the cover of a book, save yourself some time and don't bother writing the book. Every year, thousands of aspiring authors self publish (especially with eBooks becoming the new popular way to publish!) and clog up Amazon with crap stories just so they can search for themselves or say they are listed with Amazon. Take your time, write a good story and worry about seeing your name in print last. The book should be about the story not about your name being on the cover.
  • Can you do the marketing yourself? - Marketing is expensive. Ordering book inventory and promotional items cost a lot and are needed to get your name out there. If you are hoping to make money selling books, you will be disappointed. There is a reason most authors still have day jobs!
  • Can you afford to attend conventions (travel & hotel’s cost money!)? - Again, you will have to spend money to make money. Starting with local conventions is the best way to go because you don't incur travel costs.
  • Can you make your own website or afford to have one made? - Sites like Facebook and GoodReads will only get you so far in getting your name out there. Many readers want to see a website for the author. If you do not know how to make your own or can not afford to have one built, it will hurt you. Buying a domain name (a .com) and finding an online host can be cheap if you are willing to have your potential readers (customers) flooded with ads when they visit your site. But, keep in mind that those "cheaper" sites will not only annoy your potential fans but will also limit how much you can upload (sample chapters, pictures, etc.) And don't forget about web graphics...they cost money too if you can not make them yourself!
  • Can you make your own printed promotional items (using photoshop or another graphics program) and/or afford the printing? - This was covered above... discount postcards, business cards, banners, web graphics, etc. These all cost money if you do not know how to did it yourself.
  •  Do you have the time and motivation to have a second job? Self publishing is a full time job. - being an author is a FULL time job regardless of how you decide to publish. If you do not have time for a second job in your life right now, then now is not the time to become an author. I spend about 10 hours a day online trying to get my name out there and I am sure many of you have never heard of me... and maybe now you still don't know who I am or what my stories are about!

My latest appearance: Necronomicon 2011!

What can I say about Necronomicon? A whole bunch actually. For those of you who do not know what Necronomicon ( Necro for short) is, well let me tell you! It is a fantasy, sci-fi & horror convention that happens every October in St. Petersburg Florida. This year was the 30th anniversary and we had a blast!

For myself, I always enjoy any convention that includes costumes and gaming. Necro had a lot of both! The bonus was being able to hang out with some of my author friends and talk on some panels about what else? Writing!  Every year the topics just get better and better. Although my favorite is always the panel on SEX! Well, duh! Many of the authors do not write about SEX but instead write sensual scenes into their stories. I absolutely love having this market cornered! No matter what kind of convention (okay well maybe not any convention of a religious type), there are always con-goers who will buy erotica. Yey for me! I mean, come on, who could resist a pitch that involves touching and fondling (the books, not me!) from a woman wearing flashing horns? And of course the horns bring about all sorts of comments... of the horny variety! 
By the end of the con, I had quite the following and had made many new friends (*waves to you and you know who you are*). I can't wait for Necro 2012 so we can do it all over again!

Now it is time to get back to work... New Beginnings is in the last stages of editing and should be ready for my next appearance at the Fetish Circuit. I also will be putting all of my work on Smashwords and adding a new section to my website for aspiring authors who may want to self publish. On my dance card is also trying to get involved with some blog tours and blog hops so keep your eyes out for me! You never know where I might pop-up next!

That's it for now all my kinky & twisted friends....