Friday, July 18, 2014

Can we just all take a few minutes to be VERY PROUD of this young man?


This is Michael Sam, recent NHL draftee (to the Rams) and first professional football player to come out before retirement (even before playing professionally, even). He is accepting the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPN awards ceremony.

I cried, and it looked like there were very few dry eyes in the audience.

VERY PROUD.

And I don't even *like* football.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Let's Talk About...

well, sex, actually...

I've been thinking a lot lately about this (talking about sex, not about actual sex, although, yeah, that, too...I'm only human!) because my daughter is reaching that age -- probably already *at* that age -- where kids are not only thinking about it, but doing it. Also I ran across a great, thoughtful, helpful post that I think I failed to bookmark at Captain Awkward which talked about this topic, specifically, ways and resources for a parent wanting to start a conversation about sex with his teenage daughter, and I followed all the links and wishlisted books, and when my kids get home from my parents' next month, the Girl-child and I are going to have a sit-down and I am *dreading* it like you would not believe.

Which, to me, feels like a major disconnect, because I read romance, and it's not like romance is a strictly G-rated, no-sex-before-marriage deal anymore, even if I *did* cut my romance eyeteeth on the likes of Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and Betty Neels, where a mere kiss was nearly scandalous.

And so, one of the things that struck me is that, even in the contemporary het romances I still occasionally read (I'm weak, I know...), they never ever talk about sex, really. Maybe a sentence or two about protection, but usually not even that (because, HELLO Secret Baby!). But there's a little -- or a lot -- more discussion in the less heterosexual books I read, particularly as they get more and more away from vanilla sex, and more importantly, unless there's a Big Misunderstanding centered around sex, they talk about it other places, too. Sometimes it's like a book review -- what worked, what didn't, what could be different next time. But there is, at some point in the book, almost always a discussion about the sex.

And the truth is, that's making it SO MUCH EASIER for me to screw together my courage and talk to my daughter -- and eventually, my sons -- about the whole thing.

SO thanks for that, authors!

Monday, June 16, 2014

I just wanna...



Honestly? I kinda want to go to the store and buy ALL THE GLITTERS and make a Glitter Chart.

I've been rereading all the Rescue Twinks stories (because...well... *reasons* *shifts cagily*) and now I just wanna play with glitter.

Sometimes, I think I'm really still like 6 when glitter was the highest honor you could bestow on that Mother's Day card or whatever...

Speaking of glitter crafts, we used to have this cat named Cottlestone who was the most *imperious* little thing ever. Anyway, when my sister was about 5, she was going through a glitter phase in her artwork, and she had these creations all over the front porch. They were still wet when Her Majesty the Cat decided to sit on one. When we pulled the paper away from her backside, she was glittering for a week...

Get the first book, The Counterfeit Claus, for free from All Romance or Smashwords!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tuesday is for News...

It's been a while since I posted truly newsworthy news on a Tuesday, so I'm going to do a little back to the future type review for y'all, okay? Okay. First of all, I have to apologize to all of you sweet babies who take the time to read my blog, or come to check out what's going on with the books, etc, etc. I mentioned once that I've been ill this year--eh, pretty much since mid-December of last year actually. I was an icky-sicky sad sack who did more lying about in a dark room moaning than anything else.

*snorts*

No, really. Well, in April I decided that all that shize needed to come to a screechtastic halt so I could get on with my normal fabulosity. This required taking the old pat and turner mobile (my feet, attached to the rest of my person) in for an extensive tune up. 

Turns out there aren't really viable salvage parts for some of these older model chassis like mine.  Who'da thunk it? Fortunately, I lucked into a great mechanic--er, surgeon, who made it clear I didn't really need the part I was thinking was vital. Kinda like Kaylee did in Mal's flashback to how she joined the crew of the Serenity. Just after she and the prior ship's mechanic get... interrupted by Mal, she fixes Serenity by removing a malfunctioning part that was only gumming up the works. See what you can learn from Firefly? Sometimes you really don't need those extra parts. Especially not when though great and fully functional when you first got your 'ship', they stop working right around the same time the ship stops being all shiny and new. Then, due to poor design, substandard fuel, or what have you, that part gets all gumed up and all of the sudden, the whole damn ship is grounded. Then, until you can either replace the part (not bloody likely with this piece of antiquated gossa) or you can pull the broken part out, rewire and reconfigure around where it used to be, you can't get the whole she-bang sailing again... so, yeah. Long way around the barn to say that's what my doc did. Afterwards, the doc, the one inept nurse in the entire medical team that took care of me up at the VA and I had a convo that went a lot like this:

Bestern (part read by inept nurse): What did you do?
Mal (heh, I get to play Mal): She fixed it.
Kaylee (the genius mechanic--er, I mean surgeon): Well it wasn't really broke.
Mal (yep...never gets old to say, hey, I'm Mal) : How'd you learn how to do that, Miss?
Kaylee (and he was just as cute and earnest as Kaylee too) : Just do it, that's all.

Hold on to your britches. I'm getting to the newsy part. So, I was pretty much like a ship that's dead in the water til I had that surgery, and then it took nearly two months to get everything rewired as it were, and have all systems up and running. 
But,   *HERE'S THE NEWSY PART*  I was still running some systems in the background. And as a result, I can now say I've landed a contract for Tian's Hero with Wilde City Press. Now that is downright shiny. I hope you won't be offended if I don't hang about to celebrate with you all though. I've got something vital to attend to. No, really. 

For now, keep flying and stay shiny. 
Oh. 
And I'll see you in the world.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Monday's Mayhem and Foolishness: Getting Jiggy with the Real World

So today I had the most amazing breakfast with my best friend. She has this habit of dropping random, short and wise sayings into our conversations. Another friend of mine calls those sayings Bon Mots. I call them Liz-isms. Today's went like this:
Liz: ...no, I work a lot lately. I'm full time at the VA now.
Me: Mmmmm?
Liz: Yeah. Because, you know, the high school.
Me: Was that English? 'Cause I have zero idea what you just said.
Liz: *laughing* I'm full time. To pay for school for the boys. 
Me: Oh, shize. They're all going to private school this year.
Liz: Yep. *she pops the p at the end of the word with an awful lot of enthusiasm for a single mom of five who is sending all of her kids to private school*
Me: Um, okay. 
Liz: So the boys say to me, 'Ma, why you killin' your self? Can't you just chill. We don't need some snotty school if you gotta work so hard to put us there. 
Me: *just listening*
Liz: Yeah. So I say to them, yeah, I do gotta work that many hours. Because... not to put you in some high-brow school, but because I really believe this school will set you up so when you're done, you never have to work a day in your life. 
Me: *kinda stunned silence*
Liz: So the boys just looked at me, til the youngest one says... huh?... and I kinda smile at him. I say. I have been blessed to not work many days in my adult life. See, if you love what you do, then you're never going to work. You're just going to do that thing you love, you feel me?
Me: *stunned and awed* You're a fucking great mom. They got it, huh.
Liz: *kinda smiling* Yeah. Yeah, I think maybe they did.

I have the coolest friends, yes? And that thing she said? Is sooooooo going in one of my stories. Probably the one I'm working on right now. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday!

On the way back to GA via Pittsburgh & my parents' place in SW VA today, but first, a couple of random pictures from the last couple of days:

Baby ducklings in the river (we fed them some bread)


Somebody's dog swimming in the river


A church that sits just down the road from my in-laws' house


Horses. In the fog, At sunset (again, across the street from the in-laws')

More sorta sunset-y. If I had time, I'd see if I couldn't play with it & get the pink more vivid...

Setting aside the reason for the trip, it was a pretty good one...

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thursay Think Tank--A Letter on Piracy

Dear Readers and Fellow Authors,
I was recently shocked to be confronted with a viewpoint I honestly hadn’t even contemplated before. I tried to make sense of the words that to me seemed to be excusing ebook pirates for stealing my works and actually laying the onus of preventing piracy on me, the author. It seemed to say I was responsible for making my books more readily available *in all formats* around the world, or else the piracy was somehow my fault. To say that I was appalled would be putting it mildly. I want to respond, not to an individual, but to everyone who has taken part in piracy, either as an uploader or as a downloader, as well as to those who would argue for there being any legitimacy in doing so. Because there are other options.

This thing I do, this writing, is my career.  
I am not a hobbyist.

Writing is my job. I put in anywhere from 40-90 hours a week when my health permits, and I work weekends, holidays, long after sane folk have gone to sleep and long before they wake. It’s what I do. I love writing. I love creating new worlds, and honing my craft. I love it right down to my bones, but I still have a bottom line. I still have a family to support. I still have a kidlet who will be going to college in less than three years. Right. So, there I was, flabbergasted by this recitation of all the reasons people pirate when I was hit by the following epiphany and realized I have something to say to the people who pirate, and the people who would try to explain why it is ever an author’s fault when someone steals from them.

Frankly, I don't care why they pirate.

I care that they are stealing from me. One of the points made was that people are afraid to write to authors, that they consider them somehow too important to bother. Before I was an author I wrote to authors. Loads of them. The ones in this m/m genre especially were so kind about writing back.

I don’t think authors are special, not to be approached beings.

You don't know my story, I get that. Here is a quick and dirty version. You don't know about how serving my country led to me having two risky surgeries for spinal cord compression nor how I spent two years recuperating from them. You don't know that during that time when I wrote to those authors to thank them for the free books they'd posted during the first Goodreads m/m romance groups Christmas Stuff my Stocking Anthology, because that book literally saved me from a pretty bleak depression, many of those wonderful authors replied by sending me more free books. Those were real people, reaching out in real time to ease someone else’s way. You don't know that my car was repossessed during that time, or that my daughter and I nearly became homeless and only because my landlady let me pay what I could, when I could did we not end up living in shelters. You couldn't know that. You don't know that during that time we only ate by the grace of a local food pantry.

During that time I never resorted to stealing books.

I even had a friend make copies of ebooks that she tried to give me. I can’t tell you how much I longed for those books. But I waited until I could eke out three dollars here and five dollars there to buy them.

So honestly?

I don't care if someone is poor. There are millions of legit free books out there. I don't care if they don't have a credit card. Again, there are tons of free, LEGITIMATELY FREE books out there, some of which were written by me. Every single time a pirate steals a book of mine they are literally taking food out of my daughter's mouth, stealing away her college fund, and pushing me closer and closer to having to abandon writing altogether so that I can spend my time doing something to earn money that is not so easy to steal with impunity.

Listen up. Pirating has real effects on real people in the real world.

It’s pretty much the same thing as someone stealing into your house and taking from you, stealing your car, or taking money from your bank that was set aside to pay bills. You'd be angry, wouldn’t you? Especially if you’d worked hard to earn those things and even more so if the work was dear to your heart.

Again, writing isn't a hobby for me, it's my job.

Do you get that, person downloading that one free book? Or you, uploader who thinks you’re not hurting anyone real? Or even you, person who defends them tacitly?
Perhaps you're young still, or life hasn’t burdened you with responsibility for someone else’s care.
Perhaps you haven’t had to pay bills or purchase your own food.
Maybe it’s just a case of you thinking everyone who writes and isn’t a New York Times bestseller is just a hobbyist, and that stealing their books doesn’t really hurt them.
Maybe you truly believe that authors owe you free books. I actually heard someone say this to a table full of authors once. After dropping that bombshell, that person waxed poetic about how ebooks were overpriced, and how unfair it was to ask anyone to pay over—I don’t recall what the exact price named was. And this was for books of over 300 pages. Added to that was that no author or publisher should charge over—again I don’t recall the exact number, only that it was ludicrously low—for a book no matter the length. I can tell you that my first thought was that the person in that instance was in essence saying authors should not be paid a living wage.

Wouldn't you be angry?

Think about it this way… Would it be okay with you for someone to tell you that they were going to have you work for hours, days, or months and when payday came around finally, they said, “Well, your work has been devalued because someone found a way to steal the thing that you do.  It really isn't their fault, these pirates. They’re only doing it because what you've done/created is so awesome and it's hard to get where they are…”
Again, I don't care why people steal books. It's just wrong.
There aren't a lot of jobs I can do now. I can't lift over 20 lbs. I can't sit for long periods. Sometimes my legs swell horrendously and I can't stand either. So I write. But…if I can't provide for my kid and myself by writing? I will have to stop. Eh, I'm starting to repeat myself.
Another point about why people pirate was a question about books being available in enough formats. My books are available in all the formats. And more importantly, there are free apps out there for readers to convert their books to other formats if they want. Calibre is a good one. I post things on my web pages that people can read for free there. Or at least I used to. I don't anymore.

I won’t write free books anymore—I can’t

Why?
Because I don't have time. I have to write faster and faster so I can try to make some profit before my work gets stolen. Let me say again that I love writing. Otherwise I'd have given up after the first pirate episode. I’ve been asked how I came by the numbers I shared about how much pirating had cost me on one book? It was in excess of 25k.  Simple. I multiplied the number of downloads (after less than a week of the files being up on the pirate site) by the legit cost and then figured out what my contracted percent would have been. I only did that for a span of less than a week. My sales went from really good for a first publication to less than five books sold in the next quarter. And the book released at the end of a quarter, so it's reasonable to assume without the pirate site a lot more books would have sold.

For me, it’s exhausting, trying to explain my side of this.

I won't waste time or energy talking about this anymore. Thanks to some friends I’ve found a service, Muso, that will help me deal with take down notices with a minimum of fuss and time spent. Other than that, I’ll just do what I have to take care of my family. Sadly that means no more free stories. I just can’t justify the time when pirates steal so much of my profits.

Yes, any justification of pirating upsets and offends me.

No amount of telling me that I should feel bad for the pirates or understand them is going to change the cold, hard fact that they, everyone who uploads, and everyone who downloads stolen books is STEALING. When they are my books it hurts me right away. When they are someone else's it hurts when I lose that author’s future works.

When pirates *uploaders or downloaders* steal, it’s more than a single copy of a book.

They steal authors’ motivation. They steal money from families, they steal children’s futures. They steal books that the authors will never write, because they’ve had to take some soul killing job they hate in order to support themselves and their families. They steal the free reads that authors would have written to give back to their fans, to raise monies for charity, to kick off a new series.
If you love an author’s works? Only read what you can buy of theirs. Ask your local library to acquire a copy of the book. Write to the author. We’re people. There’s not a struggle out there that one of us hasn’t gone through. And seriously, as a group we’ve got some huge fucking hearts. If you’re in a country where you can’t safely buy our books, we’ll probably post something for you online. If buying the ebooks is difficult because of where you live, tell us. We’ll probably find a way to make it easier for you to buy them there. But don’t give yourself the bullshit answer that it’s okay to steal.

Tell it Like it Is Dammit
At least be honest, and say, yep, I’m a thief, and I don’t care. You don’t get to say you’re “sticking it to the man”. That’s crap. You’re taking food from people who may well be poorer than you. That’s the truth. And that’s all I have to say on the matter.


Cherie Noel