Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Dawn of the Third Age -

Or Why Science Fiction has the Answer to Everything!!!!


"We began in chaos, too primitive to make our own decisions. Then we were manipulated from outside by forces that thought they knew what was best for us. And now - now we are finally standing on our own." Captain John Sheridan, Babylon 5 Station.

It's New Year's Eve. One of those days I totally loathe, since it's usually a reminder of everything I didn't accomplish in the year about to end, and then filled with people (like myself) desperately trying to cram all the fun they didn't have into one evening.

Which is why we stay home and usually sleep right through the whole damn thing.

However, this year... well, I remembered something from a favorite show of mine that sort of sums it up.

It was the year of fire.
The year of destruction.
The year we took back what was ours.
It was the year of rebirth,
the year of great sadness, 
the year of pain and the year of joy.
It was a new age, it was the end of history.
It was the year everything changed.


(Thanks to Babylon 5 and JM Straczynski)

These words ring so true for writing and publishing in 2014. Fires exploded in our world and so much of what we'd tried to believe in was destroyed. Trust evaporated, suspicion blew in to replace it and many of us spent months attempting to take back what was ours.

Our words were reborn and republished, but there were sadnesses a plenty, and the pain of fearing that one's work no longer had a home. There was joy, of course. For many there were successes both professional and personal. That's life...the original roller coaster ride.

But it really WAS the dawn of a new age, and it marked the end of history as far as traditional publishing was concerned.

You see, it really has been the year EVERYTHING CHANGED.

I have no clue what lies ahead. I wish I had a crystal ball or at the very least a Vorlon Ambassador to utter cryptic clues now and again.  But can 2015 be different? Better? Worse? Again...who knows.

I guess, starting tomorrow, we'll find out.

Happy New Year to all,

Sahara

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.

Words.

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,

Sahara


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 Amazon.com 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 Amazon.com 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




Sunday, September 28, 2014

Madness, Sadness and Moving On.

Anyone in our profession cannot have escaped the recent furor erupting amidst cries of foul play, finger-pointing, blame games and disillusionment. I cannot speak to this - it's too heartbreaking.

Fourteen years ago, give or take, I began to produce books on the Internet. Strange things, they were, these eBooks. Few knew of them, even fewer dared try one or two, but eventually they caught on and the wild ride began. In those days we were pioneers - covered eWagons heading into uncharted lands.  Truly fabulous writers - Kate Douglas, Angela Knight, Diane Whiteside, Shelby Morgen and Treva Harte to name a few - these ladies led the way, bringing incredible talent to an increasingly large gathering of authors finding delight in this new form of literature. One publisher stood with us and for us, and for that I shall be forever grateful.

Sadly, times have changed drastically.  To my readers - my website has now reflected these changes.  I have acquired the rights back to almost all my works formerly published through a certain site - and the few that remain have purchase links to major vendors only. This is because record keeping isn't the easiest of chores (I know, believe me. Mine suck), and I think Bezos probably has a good system going.  I have removed the returned books from my website.

Yes, they'll be re-released, of course. Brushed up, dusted off, brand new shiny covers - and prices in line with today's markets and budgets. I'll be joining the many other writers offering their older works to brand new generations of iPad/Kindle addicts.  It's odd to realize that when my first books were released the people buying them now were FOUR YEARS OLD. OMG. Pass the Geritol. LOL

This is a personal response to what has become a series of continuing disillusionments. I have watched in dismay as a situation that could have been easily rectified has exploded into something that defies description. I have watched people who I admired early in my career disappoint me more than I could imagine. And my heart aches for the business I'm in...the business of being a writer.

I have often offered the opinion that our profession is mutable, continuously re-inventing itself at dazzling speeds. It's a roller-coaster ride with giddying heights and sickening plunges. Technology-driven evolution was inevitable, but this current situation was neither destined or predictable. It's just sad.

I'm sad for myself and my colleagues, for those of us who have always believed in the story and committed to giving our readers the best that we could achieve. I hope to continue to do that, and I'm sure my peers concur. I also hope to continue to speak my piece, air my thoughts on this blog and pepper the world with terrible puns, the occasional bit of snark and - of course - multiple cat photos.

I would be shattered to think that my opinions were not only not respected, but treated as inflammatory or otherwise insulting.  I have to wonder why, in a world where cyberbullying has led to the ultimate tragedy in too many cases, opinions stated clearly and without offense are deemed libelous. But then again, I'm not familiar with much of anything except the Fourth Amendment. It seems that even that might be not quite what I imagined anymore.

Yes, times they are a changing'.  And I must change with them, as must we all.

This time, it's a very, VERY challenging thing to do.

Sahara Kelly
~~~~~

DON'T LOOK AWAY - Three book series - releasing October 4-5, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Day Three of My New Life, or Musings on Humans from a kitty's perspective.

Hello, my name is Odin. A god's name, so quite appropriate for me, since I am a cat (or will be soon) and my people were once revered as gods.

I want to tell you about my new life. I picked my humans on the weekend, and - obedient to my will - they brought me here, to my new home.  I like it. There's lots of room to run around, lots of toys to play with and always lots of cuddles.  My Daddy is very big but laughs when I chew the laces on his sneakers. He's gentle even though he has a loud voice and when I got tired he let me sleep tucked under his chin. It was warm.

My sister (huh) Simone, doesn't like me. She says rude things in cat, and must have a cold since she clears her throat a lot. I have tried to show her how to play with all the toys and even tried to help her learn how to play with me. She didn't like that either. But this morning we both had our breakfasts in the same room. She was down the other end, of course. And I like helping her, since if she doesn't manage to eat everything, I'll go and finish it for her. It's the least I can do. And because I'm only two pounds, Mummy says I need some meat on my bones. I do wait until she's not looking to eat sister's breakfast, but I know she wouldn't mind too much.

I love my Mummy human. She plays with me and holds me when I get sleepy. She has nice gentle hands and wears fluffy things at night that I like to knead. It helps me sleep. She stays with me so I'm always happy and safe, and even though I know she loves sister too, I feel like I'm her special boy. She says she's happy I'm here and that I'm going to have the best life now, since mine didn't get off to a very good start. She's a good mummy. I don't remember my own. I just know I'm very glad to be living with these humans and finding out what it means to be loved even though I don't look like the other kitties. I don't think anyone cared about me before. They took one of my eyes out because it was sick, but I never got this kind of love.

I try and entertain them in return - last night I played hide and seek with Mummy and she couldn't find me anywhere. I was behind the game box in the entertainment unit place. She couldn't see me and walked right past me. It was very funny until I realized I was stuck and couldn't get out. So finally I had to scrabble around and she came and got me out. She said she was worried about me, and I felt bad, but then she kissed me and cuddled me and it was all good. We went to sleep together on the big couch thing. I heard Mummy's back crick and she woke up, sniffed, coughed and told me I was her precious little stinker. I can't help it if this new food gives me a little bit of gas, now, can I?

I have a doctor human too. Yesterday I went to see her. The place smelled nasty but they were quite nice until I had to drink yucky stuff to make my tummy okay. I don't want worms, whatever they are. The doctor human told Mummy and Daddy that I was a bit small for my age - hey human, I'm a god, remember... but that I was perfectly healthy. Even though I only have one eye. She loved the furry tufts in my ears and said I might have a bit of Maine Coon cat in me, even though I have a tail. I'm not sure what that meant, but I will assume Maine Coon is a god too.

Mummy keeps trying to take pictures of me, because I am so handsome I suppose. But I have a lot to do, toys to play with, new places to explore, piss the hell out of sister, and of course my routine perimeter checks. No time to pose for her camera thing. Right now I'm trying to figure out how to get up to that really flat place where there are good food smells. I just can't quite make it yet. But I will.

So far, my life here is pretty cool. My humans love me, my sister...well, I'll win her over at some point...and I have a real nice place to play in, sort of like my own personal Valhalla. I'm a lucky kitty. Fortunately, they didn't call me Lucky. I mean really. I'm a god.  Odin has a much better ring to it, don't you think?

I have to go now. Mummy has laces on her shoes that need to be chewed. I have to show her how to do it properly. And then we'll take a nap. She says I wear her out and drive her to drink. I show her my water bowl. I'll share. I'm good that way.

Purrs and snuggles,

Odin

(Mummy says I am funny when I sleep. She should see what SHE looks like. Hah.)


(If you have room in your home and your heart, please consider offering a furrever home to a fellow feline?  I shudder to think what would have happened to Odin if we hadn't fallen in love with his little cockeyed face. Adoption is easy and not that expensive. All reputable adoption centers ensure the animal's health and - like Odin - spay and neuter prior to adoption.     Thank you.
Odin's Mummy)