i’ve been to the mountain

The first time cancer ever came near my life was several years ago, when a dear childhood friend of mine lost her husband to a strange, rare cancer. A few years after that, I lost my father to lung cancer.

Two years ago, my family and I learned that a young woman I used to babysit – a woman now in her prime, working as a producer for a local news network – was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, that had already spread to her liver and colon. Not long after that, my brother-in-law lost his sister to ovarian cancer. And as you know, just a few months ago my own sister found out she had breast cancer.

While sending out a fundraising email for my Breast Cancer Awareness Walk, I heard back from an old friend my sister commuted with for several years. She’s just recently recovered from colon cancer, and a dear friend of hers was lost to stomach cancer only three weeks after he’d been diagnosed.

Sadly, I could go on. A stepbrother, who’s stepson has terminal brain tumors. A friend we ran into last week while shopping, who is still recovering from skin cancer. But that’s only part of my point.

My sister is finished with her chemotherapy now. She’s going to start radiation soon, but that’s quicker, easier, and has no side effects. Her chemotherapy consisted of sitting in a treatment room with thirty other patients, for three hours once a week, while chemicals dripped in to a port in her chest.

The treatment room is an interesting place. They had recliners for the patients, nice leather chairs that the patients could nap or rest in, and beside each one was another chair – not bad, not uncomfortable – for the companion. It was expected that every person receiving treatment would have a companion with them, someone who drove them there and would drive them home, someone to keep them company while they sit and wait several hours, someone to keep them distracted from the horror that was happening inside their bodies. Someone who could take charge if need be, and be responsible should something go wrong.

Our mother accompanied my sister on a few occasions, but mostly I was her companion. It was my job to listen to what the doctor said, to be a second set of ears in case something was misunderstood. To keep an eye on her during treatment to make sure she wasn’t acting strangely or reacting to the drugs. It was my job to chat with her and keep her company, get her a blanket if she was cold, tell her it was okay to fall asleep, even snore if she wanted to.

We’d chat with other patients, too, and other companions. Everyone in the room would either chat, meeting new people every week, or sleep. Some of them snored loudly, and the rest of us would smile at it. Some of them wanted to gab, about anything and everything, and that was great. Meeting new people, chatting about all manner of things. Often the patients wanted to compare notes, about how they were feeling, how they were reacting to the chemotherapy drugs, what it was like to have to shave their heads ! They talked about losing their sense of taste, or odd things that made them nauseous. They talked about what hats were better, tricks to keeping one on at night to keep your head warm, what it was like to tattoo eyebrows so your coworkers didn’t notice you’d lost them.

As companions, we listened, joined in where we could. And the nurses were fantastic. Not only great at their jobs, but very chatty, very personable. They always remembered each patient and anything they’d talked about in past weeks. They were incredibly attentive, and could even change out IV bags without waking anyone.

It was an oddly happy place. Everyone there was like everyone else. Either you were hooked up to IV chemotherapy and praying it would work against whatever cancer was there, or you were a friend/family member of a cancer patient. No one had to explain anything to anyone, there were no forced expressions of false concern, or that uncomfortable reaction of someone who has no idea what to do or say.

But all too often there was something missing. The lovely white-haired woman who spent two hours sitting alone, thrilled to have us to talk to while she finished her treatment, who then had to walk alone to the bus to go home. She was a darling woman, who talked and talked of her grandson and her children, none of whom were there with her.

There was the very old, frail man who slept through his treatment, who was then so weak he couldn’t get up to go to the van that would take him back to the nursing home. So weak in fact, the nurses said he was severely anemic and had to go to the hospital instead of home. They phoned his daughter, and had to leave a message that her father was being admitted.

There was the great guy in the Elmer Fudd hat, who thought since it was New Year’s Eve they should add some Scotch to his IV. At least he had the patient next to him to chat with, until he left to go find a cab to take him home. Elmer Fudd hat slept after that, alone on New Year’s Eve in a chemotherapy treatment room.

There was a very sad woman, my age, who sat by a window staring out at the clouds one day. Occasionally she’d read her book. The nurse asked her about her kids, and where they were. Apparently her husband had taken them out shopping for the day, leaving her to sit alone, hoping and praying the chemicals in her arm would shrink her tumors.

It frustrated me, seeing so many people there, scared and alone, some of them dangerously frail, who all talked of family members that were too busy, too occupied to accompany them for just a few hours.

There were happy stories, too. People who had someone to care. The lovely woman in the silver/grey wig who was on the experimental drug, her half-sister sat with her each time. The extremely old woman who would come in every Thursday, hunched and wrinkled, and demand very loudly to know who would like to talk to her today! The lady who raised horses and taught school, who allowed herself one pity day when her cancer spread to her abdomen and she found out she wasn’t ever going to be rid of it. Her husband would shower her with magazines until she finally shoo’d him away to go shopping and come back for her later. He never wanted to go, but he would, then he’d call her on the cell phone while he was shopping. The nice, heavy-set woman who would talk with anyone around her, always cheerful, always willing to talk about scarves and the best way to wear a hat. She’d had her eyebrows tattooed on because she’s terminal, and wants to look good in the office.

Then there was my old high school teacher, a man my father had grown up with. He accompanied his wife, who was terribly weak and struggling. I was planning to chat him up the next time, but there was no next time. His wife died two weeks before Christmas.

People talk about A Day Of Service these days. Even Disneyland is offering a free ticket to their parks to anyone who gives a day of service to a qualifying organization. I think about those people who have no companions during treatment, and I think about the lady who came to sit with a man who was dropped off by his daughter for his chemo. She came a few minutes after they’d left, and brought him lunch, and snacks, and magazines, and sat with him for three hours so she could drive him home. She was just his neighbor.

My mother, who already makes quilts for Project Linus , is now making fleece blankets for the cancer treatment room. I’m participating in walks, to raise money and awareness, but I think about those people sitting there alone, and wonder how best I could help.

So the next time you feel like complaining – maybe you’re tired, feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, your cable isn’t working, you missed the big game, you’ve gained a few pounds, work has you stressed, you feel as if you’re being pulled in too many directions – put it into perspective.

If you’ve spent more than four hours this week complaining about your life, why not spend some time focusing on someone else. I bet you dollars to donuts, your problems will take care of themselves. If nothing else, you’ll have improved other’s by not complaining about yours, if only for a little while.

Power to the People!

Make Love, not War!

Could I sit with you for a little while?

take that, 2009!

Did I mention my sister GOT A JOB?!

Yep, sure ’nuff. Wasn’t even advertised. She found it through that old fashioned networking system people go on about, where a friend knew someone who needed someone . . . one comment between friends over lunch turned in to a resume ‘just to glance over’ which turned into a job interview, which immediately turned into a second, which that very day turned in to a new job that she loves!

And they’re happy to accomidate her random Dr. appointments and radiation therapy that starts up here pretty soon, because after a few weeks of that she’ll be back to normal and happily working full time once again.

So take THAT, 2009 !  And here’s to a fabulous 2010 for everyone.

Power to the People!

Make Love, Not War!

Have Your People Call My People.

these boots were made for walkin’!

But I’ll be using sensible shoes!

Now that we’re in a new year, and my sister is nearly finished with her chemotherapy – and preparing to begin radiation therapy (fewer side effects, quicker treatments, and only as a final insurance policy) I’ve been thinking about joining one of the many breast cancer fundraising walks we hear about all the time.

Naturally my first thought was the famous 3-day, to raise money for the Susan G Komen Foundation. In Seattle, the walk takes place in September, and lasts for – you guessed it – three days. It’s always advertised as a great way for survivors and friends/family of survivors and victims of breast cancer to spend time together and find support in a shared experience, while raising funds for the cure.

So I checked it out, and what I found dismayed me. I knew the idea here is to raise donations for the cause, but I wasn’t prepared for the expected monetary amount or the rules and regulations I came up against.

First and foremost, each participant is required (not expected, not encouraged, but required) to raise $2,300 US dollars prior to being allowed to walk. If for any reason the participant fails to raise $2,300 at the day of the walk, she or he has the option of either not walking, or paying the difference herself. Now, I’m all for donating money, and I’ll be the first one to agree that the Susan G Komen foundation has made great strides in raising awareness and money to work toward a cure. But to be frank, with my sister still unemployed and her unemployment checks no longer coming in – if I could raise $2,300 you can bet I’d be paying mortgage and buying groceries first.

Times are tough, for everyone, and I honestly can’t see myself managing to raise that much money between now and September of this year. Which means the 3-day breast cancer fundraising walk would rather I not even bother. Those of us who could, perhaps, raise $100, $500, or even $800 would not be allowed to participate. How many of those $500s are they ignoring, I wonder? How many survivors or family and friends who would try their best to raise a few hundred dollars are deciding not to even try because of such a high cap? A hundred? A thousand? More?

I haven’t yet taken the time to research how much of the funds raised by this group actually go to the research for a cure, but they definitely spend a wad putting this walk together, providing tents for the participants every evening, meals, refreshments and entertainment as well as emergency medical support.

Oh, and if you can’t show them proof of your own private medical insurance coverage, you can’t participate. That leaves my unemployed and uninsured cancer survivor sister right out !

Before you think I’m bashing charities, I’m here to say I’ve found a local fundraising walk that encourages people just like us ! Registration was free, I’m allowed to raise as much or as little as I can, and the only qualifier is my ability to show up and walk. This group doesn’t raise money for the cure, they leave that up to the Susan G Komen Foundation. This group, the Network of Strength, raises money to provide support to breast cancer victims and their families and supporters. They provide help to people overwhelmed by the fear and uncertainty, answers to the questions you haven’t asked your doctor, emotional support during an incredibly stressful and trying time in your life.

As quoted from their own website:

 “Thanks to the generosity of our donors, Breast Cancer Network of Strength and its network of affiliates provide information and support to anyone touched by breast cancer. As originally envisioned by Network of Strength’s founders, all programs and services are available free-of-charge. Breast Cancer Network of Strength uniquely provides peer support through Your Shoes™, a 24/7 breast cancer support center staffed by breast cancer survivors who know first-hand what it is like to walk in the shoes of someone who is facing the disease. Get in touch with us at the YourShoes 24/7 Breast Cancer Support Center by calling 1-800-221-2141. Peer counselors at YourShoes help people touched by breast cancer feel the strength and support they need.

Breast Cancer Network of Strength provides immediate emotional relief to anyone touched by breast cancer through YourShoes 24/7 Breast Cancer Support Center. YourShoes is staffed exclusively by trained peer counselors who are breast cancer survivors.

Breast Cancer Survivor Match Program lets you request to be paired with a peer counselor who had the same diagnosis, is the same age or has experienced similar challenges as you.

The Partner Match Program provides support and education for people while they are supporting a wife, partner or other loved one through the disease.

Women who live in underserved communities are invited to attend A Day for You, where participants learn about earlier detection methods, are taught breast self-examination (BSE) and receive clinical breast exams.

Network of Strength is committed to offering wigs and breast prostheses for women with limited resources through the Wig & Prosthesis Bank.

Affiliates ensure no one faces breast cancer alone with their peer support, educational programs, local resources and advocacy initiatives (services vary by area).

I’ll be walking through the streets of Seattle on Mothers Day, May 9th, 2010. For more information, or to help me raise donations for the cause, visit my page at: https://walk.networkofstrength.org/Kristine

Power to the People!

Make Love, not War!

Save a Life, Grope your Wife 😀

thank heaven’s that’s over!

I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays. Mostly, I find I’m glad when Christmas is over and a new year is coming. Time to get back to the routine, get stuff sorted out, put back to rights, whatever you want to call it.

I like a New Year !  2009 has been full of crap, if you ask me, and I’m looking forward with hopeful anticipation to a much improved 2010.  Now that the holiday horrors are finished, I can settle back in to writing my current novel – and starting in January my friend Pete and I are each hand-writing in a sort of friendly “competition” with each other. We’re each working on novels at the moment, but we’re going to ALSO work on “notebook novels” wherein we’re required to hand write a novel, in single-subject notebooks, alongside our works in progress.

This should be fun! (she said with eyes happily rolling)  Actually I really enjoy writing by hand, even if my hand doesn’t enjoy it quite so much. It’s a great break from the glow of a computer screen, and the dramatic white of that blank cyber-page. You can sit somewhere else, take it with you, curl up with it on the couch or in bed, and hand writing makes you seriously slow down and give greater thought to each word.

It’ll be interesting for me to find out if I CAN work on two novels at the same time. Some writers can, some can’t. Personally, I’ve never really tried – but there’s no better time than NOW, eh?

So here we go. Into 2010, starting January with a hopeful heart, flippin’ the bird to 2009, and standing fast against the … well, insert something poetic here, I’m tapped out!

Power to the People!

Make Love, Not War!

Are there any cookies left?

merry christmas

I figure, what the hell – now you can buy When The Stars Walk Backwards as an eBook.

Just keep in mind it’s old, written back in 1998 – and it’s f-ing huge!  I don’t write short stuff, but la’wd-a’mighty, this is a long one.

Available in these fine formats, via Smashwords:

epub, PDF, RTF, .mobi (Kindle) Plain Text, Palm Doc (.pdb) and .lrf for the Sony Reader.

Power to the People!

Make Love, Not War!

Merry Christmas!

the future begins tomorrow!

Ten points if you can name the movie that came from.

Another twenty points if you realize that actually, the future is here. The future that is eBooks, I mean.

I remember, back in the early days, when I started writing seriously – not when I started writing, mind you, but when I started to realize I could find an audience online – the Interwebbies were still quite young, and I was stretching my fingers and enjoying myself, publishing online and having a good time.

Back then, the idea of being published was a far-fetched dream that I really didn’t fuss to much about. I was happy putting my fiction up on an old-style website, where readers could sit back and bask in the glow of the computer screen, reading their nights away. Ssince I’d just spent so much time in front of the computer writing these stories, I couldn’t fathom wanting to sit down and read them that way.

I always figured people just printed them out, then curled up on the couch somewhere comfy and read the printed papers, at their leisure. I mean, hell, this was back in the days of dial up! Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and your ISP had to have a local area code. You’d smack a few rocks together to make fire, then dial up and hope you could connect.

Yet, time after time I’d get an email from a fan who’d just spent the whole evening in front of his or her computer, reading the entire thing.

Boggled my brain, I don’t mind sayin’. But then, I figured, they hadn’t just spent several months in front of the monitor typing out the whole thing, so maybe reading a book on a screen wasn’t really all that big of a deal to most people.

I love the printed word, my self. I love buying physical books, flipping through the pages, bending the corners back while I read so my fingers can fidget with the edges. Curling up in whatever chair happens to be handy, or relaxing at the beach. I love the feel of paper, the smell of a book.

Then along came eReaders, like the Kindle or the Sony or this new Nook, not to mention the smartphones and the list grows daily.

I figured they were just fads, or something for the younger set who probably don’t even buy actual “books” anymore. Kids who were raised with these computer thingies, who don’t think twice about having a constant connection to the outside world, plugged in and glowing back at them 24-7.

Yeah, I know, pretty short sighted of me. They’re not my thing – I still prefer a physical book for a lot of reasons, most of which involve the needless spending of real money to do something I can already do without. But that’s not to say they’re not popular.

When I created Midnight Reading, I figured Lulu was my best bet for sales. I figured, based on my own shortsightedness, that folk would still prefer to purchase a hard copy and have a physical book. But knowing I could be wrong, I decided to also use the Lulu eBook feature.

I was sure, in my own little way, that I’d sell maybe 2 or 3 eBooks, tops.

Well, color me corrected ! Thanks to Smashwords and their ability to provide eBooks in every electronic format there is – I can honestly say I’ve become more of an eBook author than I’d ever expected.

If I had to ratio this to make sense, I’d have to say that for every 1 hard copy of my work that goes out the door, another 10 eBooks take flight. They’re incredibly popular, and thanks to technology, they can be easily sampled first. Add to that the ability to sell the work at a greatly reduced price, and who can blame Today’s reader for making the eBook choice?

And if you don’t want to shell out a few hundred for a dedicated reader, eBooks fit nicely on a smartphone, or PDA. Even the computer you already own, that you’re using to read this blog post with.

There’s no reason any eBook should cost you more than a couple of bucks – but I’ve seen quite a few listed at ridiculous prices. Both Smashwords and Lulu are taking a cut, so if the author wants to make a few pennies for his or her efforts, there’s nothing wrong with a full-length novel selling for $2.00 or less. But again, I have motives that differ from other writers.

I work on an alternate revenue stream. (another 5 bonus points if you know where that’s from)

Granted, I personally still prefer hard copies. After all, we can still read the Dead Sea Scrolls, but I can’t access data from 10 years ago that was saved on an old tape drive.

But far be it for me to stand in the way of progress! And in light of that, I’ll have a special eBook Christmas surprise for my long-time reading fans.

Power to the People!

Make Love, Not War!

Hey, who let the pterodactyl out ?


more i$bn information

If you’ve been paying attention, you’re aware that in order for an Indie Author to own his or her ISBN, they have to be purchased directly, in batches of 10, for a price of $245.00 plus a $30.00 registration fee, for a total of $275.00 for 10 numbers.

Or you can buy them one at a time, from My Identifiers (dot) com at $125.00 each, but that requires you purchase a subscription to the site My Identifiers and continue your subscription.

Lulu and a few other sites, like Createspace, can sell you one for around $99.00, but these numbers are owned by Lulu and Createspace, not you. Keep that in mind.

But you know all that. You’ve been reading this blog, and doing some research, so you’re fully aware. And I’ll grant you this, buying them in a block of 10 is the most economical solution. The price (including the processing fee) is then $27.50 per ISBN. And you already know, because you’re smart like that, you’ll need one number for your paper back, one number for your hard back, another number for your audio book, and yet one more number for that highly sought-after eBook.

So one title, if you go each route, will require no less than 4 numbers. That’s 4 of your 10 used up on one novel so far.

But wait – we’re not done yet.

Which format are you using for that eBook?

Did you realize, you’ll need A SEPARATE ISBN FOR EACH AND EVERY FORMAT?

“You’re shittin’ me!”

The standards regarding ISBN’s require that every – single – format needs it’s own unique ISBN. So let’s play Give Me An Example, shall we?

In The Time Of Dying (which has no ISBN, if you were wondering) is available in paperback, will later on this winter be available in hardback with added bonus material, is also available, through Smashwords, in no less than 8 eBook formats.


Depending on your equipment, your needs, and your desires, In The Time Of Dying can be purchased as: HTML, Java, Kindle, Epub, PDF, RTF, LRF (the Sony eReader) and Palm Doc.

Eight different and distinct formats, each would require their own ISBN – if I’d gone that route. So my block of 10 ISBN’s would be used up, completely, by one single novel.

If I’d done this with everything that I have available now, each novel in each format, including paperback, I’d have to purchase 70 ISBN’s to a tune of $1,925.00 or I could go ahead and purchase a block of 100 for $960.00 (including registration fee).

The International Book Sellers Number was never designed to accommodate eBooks, and has failed thus far to catch up or entertain alternatives. Amazon refuses to even bother with ISBN’s on any of their Kindle editions, having instead invented the ASIN to track their Kindle eBooks. Even novels with ISBN’s don’t get them assigned when Amazon puts out a Kindle book.

ISBN’s have their place, I’ll give you that, but it’s a place mostly reserved for physical books, and Traditionally published authors. It’s a system designed to help Publishers track information related to sales, and for Bookstores and Libraries to keep track of titles and place orders. Until the system catches up with the eBook, and stands ready and willing to adapt and learn with the constantly changing times, I fail to see the need for any Indie author to bother. If you want to, feel free and don’t let anyone talk you out of it. But if you’re saving up for that ISBN because you believe that having it will somehow give your self published title more clout, more importance, and some form of prestige, keep this in mind – Anyone with a thick wallet can get an ISBN.

I don’t know about you, but a thick wallet and willingness to spend money don’t equal prestige, clout or importance in my world.

Power to the People!

Make Love, not War!

Is the turkey done yet?

viv la difference!

Today I came across yet another group of people who seem completely ignorant as to the differences between Vanity and Self / Indie Publishing, and I have to admit, that kind of ignorance drives me up a wall.

I could ignore them, and I do for the most part, but I realize there are some out there who honestly don’t understand the difference. Some who are trying to get it straight in their own minds, or who would like to explain it to others.

So it’s for them that I’d like to put things very simply –

Vanity = Pay-to-Play

Self Publishing = Blood, sweat and effort.

If you’ve paid someone to take your novel and make it possible for yourself and others to purchase copies – if you’ve given a company several hundred to several thousand dollars to format, perhaps proof read, and set up your work in a POD model, then sold you a few hundred copies or promised you, for a fee, that you’d receive a blurb in some promotional paper somewhere – you’ve been Vanity published. If you forked over your hard earned cash to purchase a “package” of promotional materials, received a trunk load of your own book, and are under the impression you’ve just hit the big time – you’ve been Vanity published. If you’ve fallen for the idea that giving someone money will cause you to become a Published Writer of Books – you’ve been Vanity published.

If your book wouldn’t exist without you having cracked open your checkbook, you’ve been Vanity published.

If this makes you happy, then I’m happy for you. Some people enjoy being Vanity published, have the cash to spend, and get pleasure out of doing it. Vanity in it’s many forms has separated humans from their cash since Time began, and will continue to do so until we are all dust and silicone implants.

Vanity publishing isn’t bringing down the industry, ruining anyone’s chances for legitimate or Indie publishing, or “dumbing down” the reading public. Vanity has no effect whatsoever on traditional publishing because it never, ever, not even once, sits on the shelf next to a traditional title. The only way a Vanity published book makes it into the bookstore is if the author carries it in his or her self. Book buyers never see them, never know they exist.

Right now, a bunch of writers and wannabes have their panties in a bunch because the traditional romance publisher Harlequin is offering up vanity publishing. I’ve seen posts and blogs decrying the end of life as we know it, the dilution of a time-honored brand, and whoa-is-me fears of rubbing elbows with the unwashed.

Vanity has existed for a long, long time, and it hasn’t ruined traditional publishing yet. Again, those books don’t sit on the shelves in the bookstores. They’re not promoted, they don’t even get within sniffing distance of the NYT best sellers list. Oprah wouldn’t even stoop over to kick one aside.

In other words – OMG what’s the BFD?

Did you all forget Publishing is a business? And Business exist to make money. And there’s money to be made in Vanity publishing. Craptons of it. Too many writers and writer-hopefuls have a very exalted view of writing and the business of publishing that, frankly, just isn’t true. They should be more upset by the fact that most of the publishing houses now are really owned by only a very few mega conglomorates. Business people who probably haven’t read a fiction title since they were in Jr. High.

Now, how does Vanity differ from Self or Indie publishing?

Simple. No money exchanges hands.

The Self published author is using POD, via Lulu or Createspace or whathaveyou, to make their novel available to the buying public. They’ve done their own editing, proofing and formatting. They’ve probably purchased an ISBN (more on that further down this post) and they still own every single copyright allocated to their work. A Self published author hasn’t spent a single dime. The only expense is if he or she wanted to purchase a copy for themselves.

What about an Indie published author? What’s the difference, then, between Self publishing and Indie publishing?

That’s simple, too, and it boils down to a personal choice.

Where the Self published author will have used Lulu, or Createspace, et al, to purchase/supply an ISBN for their book – the Indie author hasn’t.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll remember that if you allow Lulu or Createspace or whoever you’re using to assign the ISBN to your book – they own that ISBN. You haven’t given up any rights, but they own your ISBN number. So while you’re a Self published author, there’s a tiny little piece of your work that you don’t own.

Is that a big deal? Only you can answer that. I say no, it’s not, but it’s a very personal choice and has some ramifications, mostly involving price. Let Lulu put an ISBN on your book, for instanct, and not only do they own that, they’re going to jack up the price of your book for the privilege of being listed in Bowkers and available to all chain retail outlets. Your paperback just went from retailing at $14.95 to a retail price of $37.95 – with all of the added profit going everywhere but your wallet.

The Indie author has either purchased his/her own ISBN, listing him/her self as the publisher of record – or – has opted not to bother with an ISBN altogether.

That, again, is a personal choice. There is no right or wrong here, including Vanity. If you realize what you’re getting when you dive in, and desire to swim in that pool regardless, then there IS no right or wrong. There is no inferior or superior, either.

And yes, I’m talking to you Traditionally published writers, as well. You’re not better than the Vanity, Self or Indy – you’re simply Different. You are Other Than. The Traditional author’s novel has been vetted by an agent, and editor, and a publishing company – and will get to spend a little time sitting on a bookstore shelf.  That is an important distinction, but not the golden ticket to Wonkaville.

The Self published, the Indie published, and even the Vanity people, are vetted by the reading public. They do not sit on bookstore shelves, but they are also not subject to remaindering. They’re not going to reach the NYT best seller list, but sometimes they sell more copies than a mid list author. They won’t get shiny display space in Barnes & Noble, but they won’t be removed from the shelf to make room for the next big title, either. Among the Self and Indies are just as many gems as the Traditionals, and just as many steaming piles of illiterate goo as the Traditionals (it’s all a matter of taste, determined by each individual reader). Which is why some love Twilight while others would rather scoop out their corneas with a soup spoon.

I have more to say about ISBN’s and why I’ve chosen not to use them, but I’ll save that for the next post. Until then,

Power to the People!

Make Love, not War!

No way are those boobs real!





why i’ll never buy from dell again

First let me say, I love Dell computers. I have two Inspirons and a Dell Mini, and absolutely love them – as far as hardware goes, I’ve had no issues at all, and I’ve had other computers. Compaq, Gateway, even a custom-made number that caught on fire one morning and burned (melted) to the ground.

I love Dell’s COMPUTERS.

Lately, I’ve grown to hate Dell.

When I buy my computers, I like to purchase them directly from Dell, instead of buying them in a store somewhere. Mostly because you can customize every aspect of the hardware and software, and also because back in the day, that was the only way you could get a Dell, and I got used to that.

Several weeks ago now, I purchased a Dell Mini – in purple – to use as an external hard drive storage, and a mobile toy. It’s adorable, at only 2lbs it’s a lot easier to carry to a coffee shop for a day of writing than my 15lb Inspirons, and with the added battery I had Dell install, I can go without plugging in to the mothership for nearly 11 hours.

And yes, I bought it direct. In the stores, you could only get the Mini in black, and they didn’t have the spare battery, or the software I wanted. So I bought direct, knowing full well what that would mean . . . as in, extra added shite I’d have to delete right out of the box.

See, Dell loves to put on “extras” that you don’t want, don’t need, and really REALLY don’t want to leave on there. There’s the usual, stuff like McAfee, the industry’s worst anti-virus anti-spyware software available. Trial versions of things like MSN and Quickbooks, and that annoying and spy-ridden Google Toolbar thingie.

But Dell also likes to sneak this little program on there, called the Dell Experience or something (I forget the exact name) and that’s where the trouble starts.

See, the Dell Experience thingie looks, for all intents and purposes, like a helpful little tool, standing ready to assist you in teaching your computer what you’d like it to do. The first thing it wants to teach you is how to play Spy On Me. This little game is really played by Dell only, you’re just an unwilling participant. It’s a game that sends Dell every little tidbit of information about your day. When you go online, where you GO when you’re online, what you click on, who you talk to, what you buy, where you wander when you’re wandering, what you use your computer for, what programs you use, what you DO, every little keystroke.  It’s like a little reverse Lojack.

It’ll just sit there, happily eating up your hard drive, slowing down your computer, and spying on your every single move. Then all of that information is relayed to the Dell mothership, where it’s digested, and most likely sold for all we know. They say it’s for enhancing your experience. They tell you it’s for diagnosing things, and optimizing your computer for YOU. They say all sorts of things. Double-plus good!

Dell started doing this, well at least back to 2006 when I bought my last Inspiron. That’s when I found this new little program for the first time, and removed it before ever taking my new laptop online. I scrubbed that sucker clean off, then after removing all the other flotsam and jetsam Dell automatically loads, my new laptop was a speedy little camper, allowed to surf and work under the protection of better spyware and virus condoms.

Low and behold, two months after that, I got a call from India. Seems they’d noticed I hadn’t taken my new Dell Inspiron on the Internet as of yet, and they were here to happily assist me in learning how to surf the web and enjoy all the benefits I wasn’t using with my new laptop.

I explained to the nice lady that I had, in fact, been online for months now, after having deleted her company’s spyware. She muttered something about not realizing that could be done, and hung up.

For years, I’ve looked back at that and chuckled, and didn’t give it a lot of thought. Then when my new Dell Mini arrived, I knew to look for that same software program, found it (it will happily inform you that it’s going to send data about you and your computing needs directly back to the mothership, if you bother to read that screen) – and once again scrubbed my new computer clean. Then removed all the other garbage that was added “for my benefit” and got some real protection, then allowed the new little fella online.

Then it happened. I expected it, really, but at the time my mind was on so many other things that at first, I had no idea who this man on the phone was, and how he knew I had a new Dell Mini. These guys aren’t calling from India anymore, they’re calling from so far deep South I can’t understand a word they’re saying, and I even have relatives in Alabama! Then, after saying something rude and hanging up on him, I realized that was someone from Dell asking if he could please assist me in getting the most out of my new Dell purchase by learning how to get online.


Well I figured, having hung up on him, it was in the past.

Until the next day, when another phone call came, this time a woman, from Dell, deep southern accent and talking as fast as a teenage girl on crack, once again wishing to ascertain how my day was going so far, was I in good health? Was I enjoying my new Dell Mini, and would I like her to assist me in going online?

I said something rude, I don’t remember what exactly (I have no patience for stuff like this) and told her never to call me again.

The next day, another man called. From Dell (do they have a Bayou office?). Asking how my day was going. I told him where he could go, and that he might need sunscreen, then told him never to call me again (they’re calling work, mind you, not home)

The next day, another one. Another woman. I didn’t even let her finish her “Hello”.

Today, another one. I demanded they stop calling, that if they phoned me one more time, I would never, as long as I lived, purchase another single thing from Dell.

I know they’ll call again tomorrow.

Maybe my next computer will be a Mac. Either way, I pity the sap who’ll be on the other end of the phone when they call again, because I’m not going to hang up until someone’s bleeding.  Unreasonable and silly?  Maybe, but being paranoid keeps me safe, and keeps shite off my computers. I prefer the shoot first, bury ’em later approach to life.

Power to the People!

Make Love, not War!

“Hello, I was a PC. One more phone call from Dell, and I’ll be a Mac.”

holy carp, that’s huge!

So I’ve just created my first hardcover book, my older title When The Stars Walk Backwards, and I have to say I’m stunned at the size.  I don’t expect any sales, honestly, I just did this for myself and decided there was no reason not to make it available to anyone who might want it – but honestly it’s so huge the price is outrageous.  I had to lessen the font size just so Lulu could make a hard copy. They draw the limit at 800 pages, and this whopping tome came out at 867 pages !

After some fussing and shrinking, I finally managed somewhere around 738 pages, in hardback, with a dust cover.  Hopefully it turned out as nice as it seems, but rest assured – you could kill an intruder with this thing.  Unfortunately that also means it’s not cheap. By eliminating any profit on my part, I was able to keep it under $30.00, but seriously, that’s ridiculous.

The one thing I am proud to show off is the cover – I’ve found making covers to be incredible fun!  So, if you’re curious and want to see how pretty When The Stars Walk Backwards is, it’s now available at my Midnight Reading Lulu store.  If the sticker price makes you dizzy – well – you’re not alone!  But honestly, I really did this just for my own sake.  A bit of nostaligia, for a novel that represents a beginning, an indulgence, and just plain fun.

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