Friday, November 21, 2014

If writing is my job, how do I file for workman's comp?

I love the brilliant humor of Douglas Adams. He immortalized deadlines, took us to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe and showed us the importance of towels.  He also nailed it when it comes to writing.

Yes, I'm staring at my screen, and have been for quite some time now. In fact, I might require transfusions shortly, since I'm not sure how much blood I have left. (Please tell the EMT's I'm A+ blood type.)

There is no avoiding it, no masking it or pretending it's something else. I've prevaricated, euphemized it to pieces, and ignored it as much as possible. I've told myself it's the time of year, the encroaching darkness, the need to make a Christmas list, and the absolute necessity of teaching my cats Latin.

Nothing can effectively conceal the truth. I have WRITER'S BLOCK!!

There are lots of lighthearted and amusing relevant graphics, some of which you'll see scattered willy-nilly on this post. But when you get down past the humor to the nuts and bolts, this is NOT f**king funny. If you write, you will understand.

I'm about a quarter of the way into the fourth book in my latest series of Gothic Horror tales, set in the Asylum for the Mechanically Insane.  I might be joining those poor souls soon, occupying my own cell. At least I don't have to beg for a pencil to scribble my opus on those bleak damp walls, because I don't have a damned word anywhere in this completely frozen brain!!!  I think about the story. I like where I'm at and I like where I'm going. Sadly, it seems the bus that would have taken me to my destination has departed without me and I have NO FREAKIN' CLUE WHY!!!!  AAAAARGH.

I have a hard time describing it to "laypeople" (anyone who doesn't write), since it's more of a state of mind than an actual physical issue. I have a comfy office chair, a relatively clean desk (with cat hair accessories), and my nails are perfect typing length - not so long as to scrape on the brushed aluminum of my cordless keyboard. That gives me the shudders.  My computer is clean and tidy, I have Gigaflops of storage and I back up EVERYTHING. Twice. In addition to a third time to my own personal server. I am so redundant I am vital! And yet, with all this fabulous technology massaging my inner geek, there's still something missing.


Apparently there are many, MANY people with solutions to this problem. Just Google it, folks. Happy reading and I'll see you in a few months.  But the "just let your fingers roam the keyboard" technique produced something that looked like a drunken Orangutan had been trying to Google hangover remedies. Not much help. Letting the cats walk over the keyboard produced much more aesthetically pleasing verbiage, and even a screen shot or two. (How DO they always find the function keys?)

Then there's the "free your mind" technique. So I did. I tried prunes and oatmeal. My mind was freed, along with the rest of me actually.  I walked in the sunshine (got a bit of sun on my nose) and the rain (wet feet).  I went to the Mall. After that one, hubby stepped in and said that writer's block was one thing, our credit limit was another, thankyou. Please not to confuse the two. On the plus side, I think I finished most of my Christmas shopping in one fell swoop.

But those elusive critters have yet to return. I still haven't managed to recapture the joy of falling into my own story and living it along with my characters. I have Baron Gerolf Von Landau already enmeshed in the villainy of Lord Randall Harbury, and Lady Alwynne is about to emerge from her terrible torturous ordeal. What kind of mark it will have left on her soul is to be revealed soon. But...there's always that but...

I know it'll eventually wane. I've been through this before. And I also know I should listen to my own advice during the discussions I have with friends on this topic. The market is so saturated everyone is up to their necks in eBooks. Amazon has shown itself to be the wide-open-spaces of digital literature and the buffalo novels have stampeded in without a check. Every book is in competition with ten thousand other books, and success is, as it has always been, a certified, absolute CRAP SHOOT!!!

I know this. I believe this. And I will overcome this. But right now? In the middle of it? Well there is no elegant or ladylike way to express it. It just SUCKS.  So forgive me if I indulge in my favorite single malt liquid tranquilizer, curl my lip in disgust at author rankings and binge watch something mindless. (No, not the Walking Dead. That's just...nope. Can't do it.)  Please remember I'm having a crisis here, so give me a bit of leeway, bear in mind I haven't actually harmed anyone (yet), and I WILL triumph over this, emerging a bit beaten up, but wiser and with the urge to get back to Harbury Hall and my horror novels.

I don't even want to think about the alternative. Neither does hubby. It seems he's not really enthusiastic about moving to a small Caribbean island and living off the grid. He'd miss his double oven and Cuisinart appliances, not to mention pining for Alton Brown and the Food Channel.

The holidays are approaching, so I do have a legitimate excuse to procrastinate. Let's hope I don't need to use it. Maybe the turkey-with-all-the-trimmings will revive my waning muse. If not, I swear I'm letting the cats loose on the keyboard. Wanna bet they'll come up with a new plot line?  LOL

Wishing everyone a very happy holiday season,


Now available -

  • The Don't Look Away series - Books 1-3; Amazon Kindle Unlimited

Coming at some point before the end of time (I hope) -

  • COMPULSION (Book 4; Asylum for the Mechanically Insane - Gothic Horror)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I'm a Writer on the Horns of a Dilemma

Last month I wrote of my personal sadness about the disaster unfolding within a certain publishing house. As many of you readers know, these are troubling times for a lot of us writers who are doing our best to protect our work by requesting our rights be returned to us.  We 'moms' want our 'kids' back where they are safe, if you want to look at it that way.

But we (or at least I) don't want you faithful folks who buy my books - and those of other affected writers - to be negatively impacted if at all possible. After all, it's not your fault, nor ours, that a particular publisher is now in a mess of biblical proportions.

This month the collateral damage of the ongoing clusterf**k is starting to reveal itself. It did to me this morning. In my inbox was one of those emails - you all get them, I'm sure - "Suggestions for your reading enjoyment based on your purchase of XXXX". (Yes, I read all kinds of books and occasionally a romance or two. LOL)

I barely glanced at it, but something caught my eye. Lo and behold, it was the cover to one of the books coauthored by Scott Carpenter and myself - Pure Sin. I checked and all those books are still available on Kindle. Along with more than a few others of both ours, and mine alone, that I was surprised to see there. It shocked the hell out of me, especially to find it promoted in an email.

You see we were granted our rights back on July 14, 2014, without argument, since all our "Partners in Passion" book contracts had expired from one to three years earlier. (We'd never asked to renew contracts, nor had we been contacted in any effort to do so.)

It's a godawful, head/desk mess. I do understand the difficulty of removing print books from vendors. And I know that even Amazon cannot or will not stop third party vendors from selling such books.  BUT... and it's a BIG BUT...removing a digital book is much simpler.  Now that so many of us self-publish, we all know how these things are set up. Even if it's a lengthier process for a publisher with a mess of books, it doesn't alter the fact that it shouldn't take more than a couple of clicks to UNPUBLISH a digital document from an eBook library. Once you're into the publisher dashboard, go to it.   One person, one day's commitment and all returned-rights books SHOULD be able to be removed from Kindle. I would hope that the same attention would be applied to other vendors, but honestly? I don't want to look. Because if I do, and I find my books there as well, it will further increase my gut-churning distaste for this whole situation, and do nothing to mitigate my disappointment with those whom I once admired.

My dilemma is thus revealed. Readers can still buy books of mine which should NOT be on sale. I might even say that this situation is sliding toward illegal, but God knows I don't want to go there. (They will probably disappear from the digital shelves at some point, but with the current situation, I cannot begin to guess when that might be.) I don't know whether to say "don't buy them" or...what? I didn't get into this business to tell readers not to read my books. I don't know anyone who did. This is the collateral damage I mentioned above. Writers like myself who are just trying to work out the best for our stories and our readers. We are trapped by circumstances over which we have no control whatsoever.

It goes without saying that those of us who are now publishing our own works - well hell. Please feel free to buy those in bulk. (And yes, that was a plaintive wail of a "PLEEEEEESE". ) LOL  This chaos will resolve, and hopefully soon. With luck, we will settle many issues and see our "children" returned to us unharmed and no longer tethered to a sinking ship. At which point we'll re-edit, revise, re-cover and re-launch them out on a new journey with fresh faces and goals.

It's a tad disturbing to realize that when my first erotic romance was released some of today's readers were barely hitting pre-school. Sigh. My son was in junior high. I had a waist. LOL  I believe there will always be a home for a good digital book, so I hope - as a writer - that you readers will be patient and as supportive as you've always been and make the decisions you feel work best for YOU. We've come a long way together. We have a lot further to go!!!

Happy Reading

Sahara Kelly

(My three-book "Don't Look Away" series is now on sale and is a re-edited and revised retelling of the two stories originally published as "Scars of the Lash" and "Scars of the Soul". Self publishing this work allowed me to break it into the three stories it was always meant to be.  Just sayin'...)

Don't Look Away Book 1 - Sally Ann
Don't Look Away Book 2 - Suliana
Don't Look Away Book 3 - Thanael