Monday, October 31, 2011

Keeping Warm

One morning we woke up to freezing cold. Of course, we knew to expect this, since this is a phenomenon that happens every year around this time. Living in the South, however, we have usually benefited from a prolonged Autumn season, but this year the wacky weather seems to have given Fall a miss and taken us straight to Winter.

It feels that way, anyway. I try to go as long as possible without digging through the closet for fur vests or wool coats, whatever wards off the chill. With a little one in the family now, though, I like to set an example and bundle up so she also has reason to do so.

My husband has said if he finds fur jackets for sale he might get me one. It would depend on style and price for me - things are tight right now, and we are always looking for ways to save money yet stay warm. A reasonably priced jacket that fits without being too tight around the arms and chest area is all I ask. That, and smaller arms. :-)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Social Media is Good for the Social Soul

In the years I have worked in social media optimization, I have seen how social platforms like Twitter and Facebook are used not only to entertain, but inform and inspire people to do good things. People tweet for charity and encourage others to share information to raise awareness and money for good causes. It's nice to see corporations getting in on the act, as seen in the graph below. Imagine how much more quickly word is spread through social media.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Creepy, Kooky, Spooky, Ooky

I don't watch much television these days. I find 95% of it is pure crud, and that we have 95% more channels now than when I was a kid boggles the mind. I still remember the days when we grew up with three channels, five if the weather cooperated, and cartoon specials came with the changing of the seasons. My daughter likes to watch Cartoon Network. So far we have seen Halloween episodes of her favorites, Johnny Test and Regular Show, several times in the space of a week. The constant airings really dilute the excitement of the holiday.

I'm sure It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was on this week, but I missed it. CBS doesn't run Snoopy and the gang anymore, and you don't see the commercials for the Dolley Madison Zingers (can you still buy those - everything here is TastyKakes). If you do see one-shot animated specials, the major networks rarely make room for them on their schedules. You have to wade through thousands of their supplemental channels to find what you want.

When I was younger, animated Halloween specials pre-empted regular programming and kept us glued to the set after trick or treating. I'd sit on the floor in my vinyl Wonder Woman jumpsuit from Ben Cooper (with the plastic mask that made your face sweat) and sort the chocolates from the tarts from the lollipops while watching the following:

The Devil and Daniel Mouse scared the absolute piss out of me the first time I saw it. I don't recall a darker cartoon for the time period. This is naturally a take on The Devil and Daniel Webster, only here an aspiring mouse singer named Jan signs on with Scratch for fame and fortune. If you know the story, you know the ending, but I'll tell you that even now the animation in this piece gives me the creeps.

I only recently learned that Gilda Radner voiced the witch in Witch's Night Out. This is one trippy Halloween show - probably not one to watch if you're high. The animation reminds me a bit of this 70s children show called Vegetable Soup, which is best described as Sesame Street on acid.

This year, we may just leave the set off and enjoy each other's company. Little one has spent the week drawing pictures of Powerpuff Girls as zombies...perhaps we'll see them on the screen one day.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Disadvantages of Self-Publishing

Note: I recently wrote this article in the spirit of offering interested writers the challenges that face them in this digital age. By no means would I discourage an author from going the DIY route, but I feel one should hear both pros and cons. Today I saw an editor on Twitter mention that authors who had self-pubbed to low sales now queried her to take on their stories. Knowing that, I feel this article is timely.

In the last year not only have sales of eBook readers like the Kindle and Nook exploded, but the number of book titles available to download into these devices has more than doubled. With major online retailers offering writers a means to self-publish works for sale, one can expect to see thousands more novels and works of non-fiction and poetry on virtual shelves. For the author frustrated by the traditional, agency publishing model, self-publishing offers the freedom of creative control and the opportunity to keep more revenue. Despite the recent successes of some authors, though, it's important to note the challenges that self-publishing brings.

Self-publishing may not carry the stigma it did in years past, where one assumed that an author putting out his own work could not interest a "real" publisher. These days, writers choose to self-publish rather than submit a work at all. In fact, some authors who have published traditionally now take the liberty of producing and distributing their own work. That said, one must realize there are disadvantages. This article is not intended to discourage anybody from independently publishing a novel, but rather to keep people aware of possible obstacles. Let's take a look at some of them.

1) As a self-publisher, you are responsible for every step of the process, from writing the work to making sure it is edited and proofed. You will need to find suitable cover art and distribution channels, and handle marketing. Now, you're probably wondering how this is a disadvantage - well, it really depends on how you look at it. When you sign a contract with a publisher, many of these items are handled for you. You will not cover the cost of an editor and artist, and depending on the publisher's budget you probably won't have to spend too much for promotion. When you take the DIY route, everything comes out of your pocket, and you are investing time in finding the right people to assist you. One could view this as time that could be spent writing your next book.

2) You may run into complications with distribution. Whether you publish exclusively in digital format or make your work available in print, you need to work with distribution channels to get your work to the public. While Amazon and Barnes and Noble welcome self-published authors to join their platforms, other distributors may require you to build an extensive catalog before you can distribute through them. Brick and mortar stores may require you to place your books with a service like Ingram or Baker and Taylor before they will order your books. It's important to research whether or not you can work with such companies.

3) As a self-publisher, you are held accountable. If you produce a book of poor quality, you risk alienating readers or inspiring word of mouth that discourages new readers from checking out your books. This is not to say that all books published with agency houses are perfect - opinions on quality will always vary - but acting as publisher and writer means taking extra care to ensure a good book. Of course, you should do this with a traditionally published book, but here you will need to commit to every step of the process.

If you choose to self-publish, do not feel rushed to get a book in the stores for the sake of having something to sell. This is your work, and you want to present the best written story possible to readers. Take caution to know the pros and cons before you make any sudden leaps.

Kathryn Lively

Writing to the Beat

I've mentioned here more than once that I typically listen to music when I write. I don't have to reiterate which bands rotate most often on my iTunes (if you read this blog, you know), but lately I find it's time to refresh the playlist and hopefully find new inspirations. A co-worker is rather fond of Lil Wayne and suggested I give him a try. Of course, he may have said it in jest. Who would suggest a rap artist to somebody like me, eh?

Well, never let it be said I'm not one to try new things, and genres. Though I'm a classic rock gal at heart, I do occasionally dip into rap and hip-hop when the situation calls for it. I decided to hit Lil Wayne's VEVO channel on Youtube, and I will say I rather liked some of the entries. There is one song in particular called "Knockout" which also features vocals by Nicki Minaj, another new to me singer. I liked the hard rock rhythms of this song, which differed greatly from the other Lil Wayne offering I tried - "Lollipop." I think "Knockout" appealed to me more because it had more of a rock sound, though the moments of auto-tuning did distract me. I don't really feel the auto-tune feature adds to music, but now that I have been introduced to these artists I have a feeling I will be adding some new songs to my writing repertoire. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hubby and Thanksgiving

Thanks for the post from Kirk Wood

Not too long ago my husband went to because he wanted to get more football games. No big deal, but all of a sudden during the days (I work from home) I had the cooking channel on nonstop. It was a big problem! Pretty soon they started running reruns from old holiday episodes – Thanksgiving and Christmas – and it inspired me to invite the whole big family over here for Thanksgiving this year. Now that the day is approaching I’m starting to panic – what was I thinking asking so many people to come over and eat? I don’t really cook and although I feel like I’ve learned a lot from watching I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when I actually sit down in front of a recipe book and try to make something. This is definitely going to be a Thanksgiving to remember – let’s just hope I don’t give anyone food poisoning or anything! That wouldn’t be a good take-home memory of the big day now would it? I can’t even imagine…

Friday, October 21, 2011

Slouching Room Only

It may surprise some long-time readers here that I have no plans to attend the movie theater screening of the upcoming Rush Live in Cleveland concert. Yes, I am a huge fan - literally and figuratively - but this time I am afraid the show is not doable for me. Unlike obtaining something like Jennifer Lopez Tickets, it wasn't a question of a sold-out show. It's on a school night, and as a mom I find I'm falling victim to that obstacle.

Now, were I in the market for Ringling Brothers Circus Tickets or Radio City Christmas Spectacular Tickets, I would consider allowing the little one to stay out late. Events like that are once in a blue moon. Seeing as how my husband would be unable to come with me to the Rush show, I don't see the fun in going with a small child, though she likes the music.

Perhaps one night our schedules will align for a nice event. I wouldn't be interested in, say, Joel Osteen Tickets but maybe nicely positioned Jeff Dunham Tickets on a night we could get a sitter. Until then, I will have to limit concerts to the weekends.

Help the 99% Authors

I have to admit, I am not a political person. I do have strong feelings about certain subjects, but I find as I grow older that I do not enjoy debating and arguing with people. This doesn't mean I turn a blind eye to everything that is wrong and unjust and "la-la-la" my way through life with my ears covered, either. I worry a lot - I worry about paying for my girl's college, coming up with next month's rent, staying healthy.

I have only been following the Occupy Wall Street events marginally. Recently a similar rally took place near where I live, but the protesters didn't nearly number the group in New York City. Still, it only takes one to start a fire, and I imagine this one isn't going out anytime soon. I'm especially touched by some of the stories I'm hearing from people like me, who write and would like to do so for a living. We are all not rich people - we have bills and need them paid on time.

Well before these protests started, I listened to authors' financial woes. Digital piracy cuts into profits and sales. The royalties aren't enough to cover insurance payments. Should I publish with a traditional house and wait months for a release, or self-pub now for a chance at earning money immediately? Even if you do self-pub, you must wait for the retailers to pay you, and that could be a month or three.

Nonetheless, one way I know to help some of the 99% is to buy their books. Don't just stop there, though.
  • Buy their books from a legitimate retailer - direct from the publisher, All Romance, Smashwords, a brick and mortar store, etc.
  • Make a note of reading the book on your Goodreads and ARe Cafe accounts, or other book networks.
  • Review the book - on the above sites, Amazon,, anywhere you want people to know about the book. Even if you didn't like the book, review it. You don't have to tear it to shreds, but be honest. People take cues from honest reviews, and some do buy them even if the reviews are not all good. Tastes vary - I don't like everything you like, and vice versa. Give people the opportunity to see for themselves, though.
  • Tweet about reading the book, especially if you loved it.
  • Lastly, let the author know if you loved the book. A kind word goes a long way, and may even inspire an author to follow-up on the story if they hadn't previously planned on it.
If you consider yourself the 1% who reads 99% of books, we appreciate the help and hope to pay it forward.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

BBW Romance Now Available - Daringly Decadent

Want some sizzling BBW erotic romance? You've come to the right place!

Buy it now! All Romance ~ Smashwords ~ Bookstrand ~ Kindle ~ Nook (soon)

Just in time for Halloween, I have a special treat! The latest story in the Dareville series, Daringly Decadent, is now available for only 99 cents. While not an all-out Halloween story like Don't Dare the Reaper, Decadent has a nice Fall flavor and I hope you enjoy it. I built the story off a Sizzle that appeared in the ARe Wildfire newsletter, and took it from where Tish and Vinnie meet up in her chocolate shop.

If you've followed the Dareville series, you know that Tish and Vinnie first met in Daringly Delicious, which is enjoying a nice second wind since its release a while back. I've received some great feedback from readers about that story, and requests to continue Tish and Vinnie's romance. I thought, why not close to a holiday where chocolate is popular - and I didn't feel like making them wait until Easter.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this short, and the truffle recipe included with it. I believe, too, I have one more Tish/Vinnie tale inside me. They are truly a fun couple and I'd like to see more of them (though you'll see plenty in the story!)

Okay, enough hustling. Go out and get it!