snoopy-writing

Loving a Writer

Don’t be alarmed when you see my browser history. I’m not researching ways to kill you. No, rape doesn’t turn me on. No, I’m not hooking up with men on Adult Friend Finder. Really, I would never infibulate anyone’s genitals.

I’ve had to explain those things to partners. More than once. Of course, I didn’t keep any any partner around long who started inserting themselves into my privacy like that.

One of the reasons my marriage works as well as it does is because I have a very patient husband. Maybe it helps that he’s not creative in a literary way. Oh, he comes up with creative ways to solve people problems and home fixes, but he has no interest in explaining why a medieval town would rely on the production of beeswax or how to make an abusive character sympathetic to a reader or what acts constitute sexual deviancy to the 14th century Church.

What he does very well is leave me alone when I need to be alone. That’s rare in a partner, I assure you, whether your partner is a man or a woman. Allowing that emotional and practical distance requires a great deal of self esteem and a dedication to one’s own interests. If there’s one thing that ended relationships for me over-and-over, it was someone who had few interests of their own. Suffocating. It was suffocating to me.

So that’s my advice to you, in addition to the wonderful meme below: if you’re in love with a writer, be sure to cultivate your own interests that you can do alone, with friends, or with other lovers. Your writer needs you, but they need time to create other worlds, too, and that takes time. Even god needed seven days.

How to Survive Dating a Writer

 

suicide

Suicide is the Last Act of a Narcissist

I have to admit, I get a little impatient when people start talking about suicide. My first reaction is get over it. Life is tough for everyone. My second reaction is none of us knows anyone else’s pain. Maybe your pain really is worse than mine. My third reaction is get over it. You are not special.

I had a friend kill himself when he was 18. It defined a moment in my life that I return to occasionally even thirty years later. Even now when I’m:

  • married to a man who sees as virtues what others have called my vices (My first marriage ended in a nasty divorce that had me thinking of myself as an ugly loser and plunging to poverty level with little work experience and no job)
  • raising two healthy, happy children (I never wanted kids and was actually afraid of them)
  • with several jobs that have me excited (I job hopped for 15 years and got angry, unhealthy, and fat), and
  • stronger than I’ve ever been (I was obese and on the verge of diabetes and heart problems)

In other words, look at all that asshat missed.

Anger

I’m angry at Danny. Even now. These days, I’m more angry at him for what he did to his mother than to the rest of us who knew him. No, I don’t feel sad for him. He wasn’t a victim anymore than the rest of us.

If Danny were here, I would not tell him he needs to stay alive because there will never be another person like him. Because he wasn’t special. He wasn’t special at all.

Oh, he was funny and brilliant. Really brilliant. He was also insecure, naive, and awkward. He was a boy like the billions of other boys who have lived and died over the thousands of years that humans have roamed the earth. He was anonymous to everyone everywhere forever but the few of us who called him friend or family.

Pain

I get it. Nothing will ever change. That’s life, you know — unchanging. I think that’s the definition of life, actually:  “a static state of existence where nothing changes.”

You see,  Danny was a fucking brilliant guy. Only he was a dumb kid, an adolescent who somehow thought his life and his feelings would never change. Because that’s what a dumb kid thinks, that nothing will ever change. I’m sure he had that vision that kids always do (because they’re narcissists and that IS the definition of “child” no matter the actual age), that once they kill themselves, they’ll get to see how much they have affected everyone.

Only he didn’t see anything because he blew a hole in his fucking head.

As a 50-year old woman, I can tell you life changes. In a day, on a dime. That terror, that sadness, that god-awful feeling you can’t stand will ease away or possibly just vanish one day. You’ll find new love, and lose it. You’ll find a great job, and get laid off. You’ll build a life, and then you’ll die.

Life Sucks

You can’t save the world. You can’t save yourself. You will blip from existence one day by fate’s hand or your own, and it won’t matter one damn bit how or when except to a few people you called friends and family.  Maybe not even them.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should stay because people love you. Maybe they don’t. Maybe you’re an asshole nobody likes. Are you? Are you an asshole?

Well, welcome to the human species. We’re selfish, sad assholes. Many of us are poor, ugly, and unhealthy, too. We lack friends or a loving family. So why don’t we all kill ourselves? Why do most of us stick around? Is it just easier for everyone else but you?

You lack empathy. Not because you don’t care about hurting those you love (although you don’t) but because you can’t understand that other people feel as much pain as you.

It’s just that the rest of us give up the narcissism that makes us believe we’re at the center of the fucking universe long enough to slog through life as one of the masses and endure our pain until some lame death like cancer or a car accident claims us.

Depression

Depression isn’t a place where people can think logically, and kids aren’t the only ones who kill themselves. I knew a man with grown children who shot himself. If it’s really about chemicals, it’s clinical depression and should be treated.

I’ve been in therapy four times in my life and have been on medication for short periods. Step-by-step, those experiences helped transform my life. If you’re fighting thoughts of suicide, see a therapist. Good talk therapy and meds can help.

If you don’t get help, then fuck you.

Life is for the living. I don’t think of Danny often, but when I do, it isn’t fondly. He wasn’t a victim. He made victims of the rest of us. And as a mom, I feel his death even worse these days. It was an act of immense hatred because his mother found his blown-apart body one Saturday morning.

So don’t think you’ll leave people to mourn you and feel bad for anything they did. They will carry on, find love, friends, family, and despite all you were or could have become, what they’ll remember is that you were a liar who hurt someone you said you loved.

Strange-flesh-press-lesbian-erotica

How to Start Your Own Digital Press in Bullet Points (Mostly)

sfp-book-logoEver wonder what’s going on behind the scenes? I can’t say for sure how other presses started, but here’s an overview of what we’ve been doing for three months.

Strange Flesh Press, LLC publishes lesbian erotic fiction. Submissions open September 1st, but before we actually start reading your masterpiece there’s a WHOLE LOTTA work we’ve already done:

  • Purchase and establish LLC
  • Buy Domain and Hosting
  • Select and install Website template
  • Organize website Layout with categories, menus, sidebars, widgets, footers, headers
  • Create a Child Theme and edit template code for look (because fonts, margins, and other CSS are never exactly right)
  • Design Logos, Featured Images, Interest Images
  • Add 3rd party Code for things like sliders, downloads, payment gateways, image galleries, statistics, log-in security, contact forms, blogging, comments, and social media interactivity.
  • Configure Email Accounts
  • Write and post Content Pages and Legal & Business Documents (terms, policies, affiliations, contracts, eBook front matter)
  • Establish and integrate Business Bank Account
  • Check with Accountant/CPA about sales tax and online business law
  • Purchase and integrate Payment Gateways through 3rd party sites
  • Purchase and integrate SSL security, origination Certification, and Content Labels
  • Locate, write, and design Advertisements/Marketing
  • Communicate, process, and contract Submissions, Covers, Edits (We started with staff works as examples for our process and submissions)
  • Track submissions, contracts, covers, edits, communications, and payments
  • Edit, format, convert, and upload eBook Files and Covers to website
  • Edit, format, convert, and upload eBook Files and Covers to Smashwords
  • Edit, format, convert, and upload eBook Files and Covers to Amazon
  • Write Posts and edit Images for regular website updates

Each item requires decisions to be made before any actual “work” gets done. This is what I found took the most time. Lots of, you know, thinking.

You’ll need a self-disciplined staff of good communicators with these skills:

  • Business manager (write eBook contracts, privacy and security policies, deal with bank and 3rd party vendors)
  • Graphic designer (logos, covers, interest images)
  • Content developer (blog posts, social media integration, blurb writer)
  • Web developer (manage website domain and hosting, edit layout, troubleshoot and coordinate with the ISP)
  • Editor (edit eBook, story, business, and web content)
  • Editor-in-chief (establishes the team and organizes the work flow — and fills in when someone gets behind!)

Your staff will need a great deal of software. Here’s what we use:

  • Calibre eBook converter
  • Kindle to view MOBI files
  • Adobe Digital Editions for reading EPUB
  • Adobe Acrobat for formatting properties of PDF
  • Microsoft Excel for business and communications tracking
  • Microsoft Word for editing styles, properties, and content
  • Microsoft Outlook for email
  • Google Calendar
  • WS FTP for direct website uploads
  • Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator for images
  • At least three different browsers (Chrome, Firefox, IE) to test the site and downloads.

Your start up costs can be minimal, depending on how big your staff needs to be to include all the skills listed and depending on whether you already have required software. You’ll also need to purchase some items ahead of time. Here are our purchases for the first year. Yours may vary if you use different providers:

  • Register LLC (LegalZoom): $150
  • Domain & Hosting (GoDaddy WordPress) $100
  • Professional Theme (Themeforest) $60
  • Spam filter (Askimet Pro) $60
  • SSL (GoDaddy) $70
  • Stock Photos (Bigstockphoto and Shutterstock): $200

Distributing eBooks via Smashwords and Amazon requires no money up front, but they take part of each sale. Likewise, partnering with Paypal requires no purchase, but they will take a percent of sales, too.

So, are you ready to help produce great literature? Or at least some stimulating beach reading? Maybe just a few one-handed reads?

Send us your best starting September 1st.

homeschool 1

Secular Curriculum – A Needle in a Haystack Made of Bibles

Beginning to look for curricula for my son. I homeschooled him and his sister for their first two years. They’ve been in public school for the past three years. This year, my son is entering fifth grade and my daughter, sixth.

After some discussion, my son and I will homeschool. My daughter wants to continue at public school. I can’t say I like that idea. I much prefer to have both of them learning with me. 

Finding a secular curriculum is like looking for a needle in a haystack made out of Bibles. I swear, if I have one more homeschooling parent talk to me about how gay marriage is an abomination (like they did back when I homeschooled the first time), I’m going to tell them to fuck off. I don’t even LOOK conservative. In fact, I LOOK like a dyke, you presumptuous moron, so keep your sad interpretation of “Christian love” to yourself.

*Calming down*

No, I want to homeschool because my kids could be doing more if they weren’t spending hours waiting for other kids or doing busywork or repeating something they already know.

It will be interesting to see the differences. My daughter feels she would miss the social aspect of school too much. Honestly, that’s IT. She knows from her first time that homeschool doesn’t limit social contact, especially not as we do it with enrollment in the homeschool assistance program in our city. But there’s no convincing her.

As we progress my son at home, I wonder if he’ll pass his older sister academically. I’m moving him to a curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking and enrolling him in the HSAP where he can meet other homeschoolers and take enrichment classes. Additionally, I’ll likely provide some fitness classes for the homeschool kids at the HSAP building, so he’ll get as much (or more!) exercise than his sister in public school.

It really sucks that she’s so attached to being one of the crowd. A crowd, I might add, that she did nothing but complain about last year. Both my kids are highly social and have friends they see outside school hours. What it really comes down to is change. My daughter is not good at change.

So I will be patient and supportive as best I can and hope she sees the advantages of homeschool next year.

Free-Flesh-strange-flesh-press-lesbian-erotica

New eBooks, New Covers – Strange Flesh Press

These are the first ebooks that Strange Flesh Press (SFP) will be publishing. I hope these covers and the downloads (coming soon) will serve as guides for what SFP is looking for and how we can develop authors’ works.

These first stories are my works, most published previously in print anthologies. For these ebook versions, I’ve revised and re-edited. With their inclusion in print anthologies, I was usually constrained is some way I didn’t like. Now, I can do it my way!

Look for these works to be available for download soon. Next step is working out the kinks with ebook conversions and download vendor software.

Strange Flesh Press

summer

Do You Know What I Did This Summer?

Summer is half gone. What do you have to show for it? A lot? Nothing? If you’ve gotten nothing done, I applaud you. That’s what summer is for.

I don’t think of summer as a productive time usually. In fact, I don’t want it to be productive. I usually look forward to hanging out, tanning, swimming, playing with my kids. But my summer looks like this:

  • a digital press nearly ready to accept submissions
  • enough personal training clients to keep me working every day
  • a 90-day diet program tested
  • my first Health Fair for my personal training studio
  • new swag designed and ordered for my studio
  • new workout routines with Crossfit and GRIT
  • not missed my networking and writers group meetings
  • finished another book of intermediate piano
  • edited two stories for publication
  • wrote 10 or so posts
  • got a bit of a tan
  • lost 5 pounds

Yes, I’m seeing lots of productivity this summer so far. But I miss my kids. We hang together every day doing our own things, but we still have crafts planned and Iowa fairs to attend!

I’m an all-or-nothing sort of person.  I often plan to do something once or for a little while, and find it’s my new career. I need to remember this inability to limit myself when I say, “Sure, I’ll do that thing you want” or “Sure, I’ve got a few hours on Sunday with no plans, so let’s start a digital press.”

In my networking group (a weekly lunch meeting with other entrepreneurial  women), we were discussing how we have learned to say “no”. Most of us confessed we haven’t. But those boundaries are important!

Thing is, I rarely say yes because I feel I must or feel guilty if I don’t. I just like to DO stuff. New things, new people, new ideas. I’m pretty sure this is the expression my mid-life crisis is taking. I was kinda hoping for an illicit affair with a woman half my age, but no such luck.

Saying “no” will be my new project for the summer. I’m sure if I put it on my agenda, it will get done.

old-man-in-chair

Watching the Street

There’s this old man at the end of our block.

He sits in a lawn chair in his open garage and watches the street for hours during the day. Then at night he walks around the neighborhood. Every time I see him, I think, Jesus Christ, do something, Man! Aren’t you bored?

But he’s probably not.

Sometimes, I wish I weren’t so excited about creating stuff.

In the last ten years, I’ve written nearly a hundred short stories. Some I submitted for publication. Some of those were accepted. Some of those were published. That leaves a lot of fiction laying around my computer.

Even those stories that were contracted and edited weren’t all published due to the unfortunate demise of a few presses.

Today, I reread one of those stories I vaguely remembered and was excited by it. It’s lovely to read something you don’t remember, especially when you can’t put it down and think to yourself, “Wow, I wrote that.”

I’m trying to prioritize at this point. I have so many irons in the fire–so many things I want to do and creative projects in process. Just this morning it occurred to me if I weren’t so busy with so many creative projects, I’d be having more sex with more people. Is this what it’s come to?!

So, maybe when my creative life and sex life fade away, I’ll find hours to sit and watch the street like that old man.

Maybe then I’ll want to.

showdown

Which Would You Rather Eat?

Burn out from code this weekend, so I created this fun showdown over at Strange Flesh Press. I pulled a few dozen lesbian characters and desserts and matched them randomly. You decide, Which Would You Rather Eat?

Lesbian-Showdown

 

Showdown is a cool plug in for Wordpess. A few issues with the count resetting by itself (seems random), although I’ve set to keep counts forever.

lesbian-erotica-strange-flesh-fleshblood-1170

Birth of a Press Redux – The Catch 22

Yes, I lost that last post that was up here for a few days. It happened because I had to go through a database restore and my last backup was four days ago. Anyways…the post was about publishing with Smashwords, which I like a lot. I have two stories over there now from the Darklaw series. But that’s not what I wanted to chat about today.

I’m in the midst of creating a digital press. In case you didn’t know, it’s called Strange Flesh Press. The design and business end of things are proceeding smoothly, if slowly. A lot of decisions there. A lot of design and sharing of my SSN and EIN. A lot of decisions about ebook formats and shopping carts and credit card services. But that’s not a problem. That’s just the process. Here’s my problem:

So, if you start a press, you need to request submissions. How do you request submissions without first having books to show what kind of writing you’re looking for?

I’ve seen other presses do this primarily by publishing the owner/editor’s work. Many digital presses appear to be started by authors. I’ve not had good experiences overall with small presses. (I’ve written about that elsewhere.) I attributed that to the fact that authors don’t often make good business owners or editors. I’m already a business owner, and I have already done way too much editing in my life. I’ll be happy to hand off that work as we get more staff on board. Currently, we have a staff of 2!

In my opinion, it’s a conflict of interest for a press to publish their staff’s work. Many presses do this, but pseudonyms hide that fact. Because we need to start somewhere, I’ll publish a few of my stories that fit the venue, and you’ll know they’re mine. This will be a place to start.

So having made that decision, I was over here at this website poking around the back end with some of my stories and deleted things. Hence, the restore.

Fortunately, in addition to the 8 other jobs you may know I already have, I spent about 15 years as a web designer & database developer.

By the way, go fill out the survey I created for readers of lesbian erotica!

SFP-lesbian-erotica-survey

A Survey For Readers of Lesbian Erotica

Do you read lesbian (F/F) romance, erotica, or erotic romance? Share your experience and opinions and you could win a $20 Amazon Gift Card. You can take the quiz here on my blog or at this link: Lesbian Erotica Reader Survey

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

I eat sacred cows