#atozchallenge – Turning 50 (T)

I’ll be 50 years old this year. So will

Crispin Glover, Biz Markie, Russell Crowe, Nicholas Cage, Mariska Hargitay, Sarah Palin, Matt Dillon, Wanda Sykes, Rob Lowe, Elle Macpherson,  Ian Ziering, David Cross, Djimon Hounsou, Cedric the Entertainer, Hank Azaria, Melissa Gilbert , Stephen Colbert, Lenny Kravitz, Adam Carolla, Wynonna Judd, Darryl McDaniels, Joseph Simmons, Courteney Cox, Joss Whedon (yes, fucking JOSS WHEDON!), Yeardley Smith, Courtney Love, Wendy Williams, Dean Winters, Chris Cornell, John Leguizamo, David Spade, Sandra Bullock (SANDRA fucking BULLOCK!), Lori Loughlin, Vivica A. Fox, Adam Duritz, Mary-Louise Parker, Hoda Kotb, Blair Underwood, Keanu Reeves, Rosie Perez, Molly Shannon (MOLLY fucking SHANNON whose Sally O’Malley above is proud to be 50!), Holly Robinson Peete, Trisha Yearwood, Ty Pennington, Janeane Garofalo, Calista Flockhart, Robin Givens, Don Cheadle, Marisa Tomei, Teri Hatcher, Eddie Vedder (Celebrities Turning 50 at

What do you notice about that list? TALENT. I wasn’t depressed about my age until I saw this list and realized I could have done so much more with my life.

As it is, I have one goal: to do a free-standing handstand by my birthday. I practice handstand push-ups using the wall for balance. I haven’t achieved free-standing. Working on it.

The following video is me one year ago (April 2013). I have six months to go.


#atozchallenge – Submitting For Publication (S)

You’re working on your first piece of fiction. Maybe you know a little something about what your author friends do to get put on a shelf, virtual or otherwise: pick a press, send a letter. Easy peasy. I mean, the hard part is the writing, and you LOVE that part….

This post is for you.

Wymore-BookCover-Amazon-SSStilicho’s Son is a novel I’ve been working on for fifteen years. There was the research and writing of it which took two years. Then, I spent a year or so editing. The rest of those fifteen years was spent researching print and digital options, soliciting agents and then publishers, finding a publisher, having the publisher go out of business, and then putting the book on hold as I pursued, well, life.

Why put my favorite and likely best piece of writing on hold?

That’s what this post is about. The submission process is the worst part of writing, if you choose to publish with a professional press. It isn’t the rejections. Long before you might ever deal with a rejection, you have to spend hours simply researching and writing promotional material.

If you want to publish, you are not an author. You are a business.

Why Do You Write?

I ask this question of new writers. You need to know why you’re writing, so you’ll know what’s worth your time and what isn’t. I wasted years of productivity because I wasn’t clear.

I’m a storyteller and myth maker. I have hundreds of ideas, characters, stories to tell. I love to craft the story, as well as its world and characters. I love to rewrite and illustrate. Anything that interferes with that gets put aside if I’m hot on a new story.

I want to share my creations and to make money. But both those goals are secondary, and become a low priority when I add in the need to make a living and to raise my family.

The worst part of publishing is the sheer amount of time it takes just to get in the game.

Getting Published

If you write novel-length about a woman protagonist, have a relationship focus on a wealthy man (erotic or romantic), provide a happy ending, and especially if you can put that into a series, you are gold. Gold! Forget everything I’ve written here and just submit your story to every romance press you can. Even if your writing sucks, you will have your pick of publishers.

I don’t mean to sound cynical. Publishing is about marketability not art. If you want more chances for sales, you have to go for numbers. The numbers say women are the bulk of readers and they prefer straight novel-length romances. Although Male-Male erotic romance is extremely popular with women readers, too.

If you write anything else, anything a bit niche or literary, you will be more limited where you can submit and you should expect to make only extra money from your work, not money to live on.

1. Research

First, you must research the markets–digital and print. That means finding all the publishers that will consider your book’s genre, word length, and general style–which includes things like point of view, tone, and ending.

I’ve been rejected several times because my story didn’t fit a press’s view of itself or its readers. For example, some presses want only happy endings or expect 3rd person omniscient with the point of view shifting at different points in the story.

I find most of my submissions limited by length. I write mostly novella and shorter (less than 20K words), and even digital presses are starting to expect only novel length for standalone pieces.

2. Study

Once you find a few markets that fit your story, you need to study those markets. Study them! Read some of their books and search for information online from other authors. This is an important step that should never be skipped.

Why do I say that? Because I skipped it.

I’ve had three presses go out of business after they accepted me. Each went under for a different reason, but if I had researched them better, I would have steered clear.

  • Some presses are not well-capitalized but remain a side business of one person and wholly dependent on their time and health.
  • Some presses develop a poor reputation for paying authors or for limited marketing or for contracts that are unreasonable.
  • Some presses are not run by skilled editors or publishers but are really a front for an author who publishes their own works.

Presses can hide these things, so be sure to check the message boards. Places like Absolute Write Forums and Predators and Editors and ERWA Author Resources .

3. Sell Yourself

Next, you craft a cover letter and determine the specific submission guidelines for the presses. They are similar but seldom the same. I usually spend several hours putting a sub together for each press.

And all the above takes place AFTER you have completed your story, edited it, written a 1-2 page synopsis, composed a 25-word tagline, and written a 200 word bio.

Hence, my backstock of stories and novels that I plan to submit. Sometime.

Self Publishing

Alternatively, you can publish your own stories and books through various online sites. I chose to do this with my Darklaw series. There are pros and cons, and I’ve mentioned some in this post.

I may go more this way, because presses are not important in the way they once were.

I have a bit of a creative recovery period right now and am trying to get work published, like In the Dark With Whiskey (Darklaw) and Stilicho’s Son, as well as the recent Echo of Darkness: Chicago.

So I can’t say what you’ll see next from me. But you know I’ll be having fun doing it, and I hope you’ll have fun reading it.


#atozchallenge – Ruh Roh, Remittance Girl (R)

What do Scooby Doo and Remittance Girl have in common? Absolutely nothing. Except I like them both. Immensely.

scooby doo cartoon networkScooby and the gang make the world seem easy. The world is beautiful in shades of orange, pink, red, and turquoise. The world makes sense where kids solve crimes devoid of blood or death and they each have unique and important things to contribute. I loved Scooby growing up (especially the original 1969 Scooby Doo Where Are You?) and current releases (especially the 2002 What’s New Scooby Doo?)  I introduced my kids to Scooby when they were babies, so the show is embedded in our family culture, as well.

Remittance GirlRemittance Girl’s fiction, nonfiction, and social media are about the opposite of all that. Her writing is psychologically penetrative, philosophically rigorous, and sometimes personally challenging. It grants me a little slice of sanity whenever I think. Yes, when I think. Because it’s easy to believe no one else is doing that or that I’m doing it wrong. If you like clever wordplay, a rigorous application of critical theory to the erotic, and courageous opinions, you’ll fangirl RG like I do. (She’s MM in some of her milieu.)

Meet RG

I first stumbled across her writings when I was slogging it out at Erotica Readers and Writers website (ERWA) posting erotic stories many years ago. Wow! 9 years ago. (Fucking old. Since “F” and “O” are done, that will be mentioned under “T” for “Turning 50″.) Did I mention she also writes poignant erotic fiction? And I’m not a big M/F fan, but when she writes, gender is merely a part of the mix. Desire is what drives it.

Today, she and some fellow tweeters are having fun with the notion of E.L. James designing dildos:

remittancegirl at Twitter:

#ELJAMESDESIGNSDILDOS The “Real MacCoy” only two inches so you can swear you’ve never done it when you meet that billionaire virginity taker

#ELJAMESDESIGNSDILDOS The ‘Inner Goddess’ – Vibrator with only a cha-cha-cha setting. For laughing at ***Not for internal use.

#ELJAMESDESIGNSDILDOS Rose-cut diamond encrusted. Not for internal use. You just look at it & get off on the anticipation of a billionaire

#ELJAMESDESIGNSDILDOS The “Inner Capitalist” – burns an indelible luxury logo of your choosing on your cervix.

#ELJAMESDESIGNSDILDOS The “Virgin Cocksucking Trainer” for illiterate English Graduates with bad gag reflexes.

A recent post on her fiction blog:

Fuck Decaf, or The Two Tribes of Perversion

It occurs to me that I need to make it clear that I do not write the stories I write as how-to manuals for kinky couples. I do not make moral excuses for the rotten and perverse things my characters do. I do not give them nice happy endings because I do not want to send the message that there are no negative consequences to their behaviours.

I am a pervert. I believe that my sexual proclivities are deeply unethical and, in fact, a good deal of the jouissance I get from them comes from the fact that I know, in every fibre of my being, that they are wrong. Most of my characters are like me.

None of us need, or want, your absolution.

A recent post on her literary critique blog:

As time has gone on for me as a writer, I have come to believe that sex is not erotic in itself. It is desire that is erotic and that desire for desire at the very foundation of what is erotic as opposed to any biological imperatives, no matter how adorned or convoluted the pursuits those imperatives might be made.

Remittance Girl is also on Goodreads

I invite you to visit one of her ports and experience something a little intense, a little challenging, a little sane.


#atozchallenge – Quickie (Post, That Is) (Q)

Today I got in a run, watched my daughter play soccer and my husband coach, did some edits for a novel I will be submitting next month, and now I’m at Kalona Brewing Company in Kalona Iowa.

And I realize I didn’t post yet today. But I have wordpress for iPhone and I’m not drunk yet. So here goes…

If you’re following my posts, you know I was doing Terry Wahl’s ketogenic diet. My update is this: I have to shift to her paleo diet. I’ve been paleo for almost three years, but have gotten more strict now after reading The Wahls Protocol.

Except I am drinking beer again. Although I’m choosing unpasteurized beers. That will be another post, because that is an interesting thing that needs to be discussed more: NOT pasteurizing shit.

I did the ketogenic diet but found I had two problems. I could not eat enough food in two sittings because I got too full. Just the Wahls smoothie was more than I could finish! But it is delicious and I have added it to my diet. I also didn’t have enough energy to continue my high intensity interval training (HIIT). Ketogenic diets are good for moderate exercisers–moderate cardio and long distance runners.

The good changes that I’ve kept are adding more leafy greens, bone broths, and fermented foods.

Okay…three beers into my flight and there’s my post!


playing piano

#atozchallenge – Why I Play Piano (P)

I’ve taken piano lessons on and off throughout my life. When I was a preteen for a few years, and when my children were babies. I’ve been back at it for 6 months after a 6-year break.

I love music. I listen to music of all kinds when I write and draw and work out. But I have no talent for music. At all.

There are many good reasons to take lessons as an adult: for mental and physical health, memory and focus, and relaxation. For me, it’s just important to do something I don’t do well. I embrace my suckitude. Every week, I’m humbled by my limitation, and every week, I experience a love that exists only for itself. No ego boost. No showing off.

I have a number of friends with an innate talent and developed skill for music who play at a professional level (singing, guitar, piano, drums), and I will never even come close to what they can do. I value that because it’s real easy to get wrapped up in my creativity and forget how much talent is all around me.

My kids have each been taking lessons for five years. They have a natural feel for music that I don’t. I think it’s good for them to see me struggle and to be better at something than me.

Voices vs Chords

My favorite pieces are classical, especially Bach with his penchant for writing chorale style–4 voices represented on the same staff rather than the usual melody and harmony of chords you probably know. Focus is my weakest skill, so having fingers playing different keys at different times, like a choir with voices dropping in and out, really challenges me.

I’m working on three Tchaikovsky pieces now: The Italian Song, the French Song, and my absolute favorite, Morning Prayer.


#atozchallenge – OMG I’m an Addict (O)

So social media is bad for our health, is it?

social-media-bad-healthThis bullshit spreads when someone sees a statistic and their knee-jerk reaction is “yeah, right on!” and they share without first using a little reflection.

Here’s some reflection:

  • People are “addicted” to social media

Self-disclosure gives us pleasure. Social media allows more self disclosure than in-person allows. Hence, it is an addiction and bad. You know, like receiving money, eating food, or having sex is bad. Bad bad bad.

  • We spend a “staggering” ten times a day checking feeds

And also stop scratching and peeing and walking because these things are consuming your life.

  • We even engage in social media feeds while on the toilet

You should sit there and study that nice wall stain while you poop. Forget picking up that newspaper or book, too. Oh wait, that’s print so it’s, you know, different.

  • We’re engaged in social media feeds while eating

You should be watching the damn television. Like you used to do when you weren’t obsessed with a video screen of some kind.

  • Social feeds are more important than classroom lectures

Sweet Jesus, how kids have changed their priorities! I never talked or read or wrote or daydreamed when a teacher was talking.

  • Our self esteem suffers when we compare our lives to online friends

Because we never compared ourselves to anyone before. And you with the new car are a dick.

  • We find it difficult to relax and sleep after time on social media

Because we never had difficulty relaxing after a night out or a night talking with friends before.

  • We have relationship difficulties after online confrontations

Virtual world confrontations are so much worse than screaming in a parking lot at 3am. Uh oh…self-disclosure. Ooo…I feel pleasure. Uh oh…I’m addicted.

  • We’re worried when we can’t access social media

Never had stress from missing friends before I had social media

Shit People Post

Are you old enough to have received an actual snail mail letter? I recall the letters from my dad when I was away at college. Know what we wrote about? What classes I took, some funny anecdote, that he was eating an apple as he wrote me, etc.

Thing is, social media is all about the SOCIAL. It hasn’t changed anything, merely expanded our reach.

Social media, as a publishing platform, has also shown us our pretensions. Those of you scoffing at the trivial stuff people post, what do you think publishing should be? Are you some kind of elitist ass who speaks only in soliloquies of noble insights and motivational inspirations? Well, hell, man, I get that from some meme every fucking morning on Facebook.

And I pass on by and spend time commenting instead on a friend’s struggle with depression or their daughter’s performance or their job search or their new fucking car. Dick.

If you feel exposed in a way that is uncomfortable, drop out. But don’t try to convince me that staying engaged is bad for my health.

And don’t think for a second I’m going to spend those “extra” free hours on exercise like the ridiculous infographic above suggests. No, I’m going to sit and watch more cable news and reality shows like I used to do before I became an addict.


#atozchallenge – Practice Napping (N)

If you’re like me, you may not be able to wind down by 10pm because 8pm is the only chance you have to exercise and then, you’re awake at 5:30am because Simon is a big whiney dog who needs to go pee. This can mean 7 or less hours of sleep each night.

That’s not enough. Let me repeat. That is not enough.

This “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” or “I’m not burning calories when I sleep” or “I got important things to do, man” mentality is dumb dumb dumb. The most common problem I see with my clients is that they do not sleep enough. This wrecks their hormones, their mental health, and their weight.

For one thing, sleeping and feeding are related. Studies show when animals are subjected to sleep deprivation they increase their food intake. Recent studies in humans have shown that the levels of hormones that regulate appetite are highly influenced by sleep duration. 

You’re more likely to gain weight if you sleep less than 7 hours a night. During sleep, hormones are released that manage metabolism and digestion. People who don’t get enough sleep have insulin and blood sugar levels that are similar to those in people with diabetes. If you are regularly sleep deprived, your levels of gherlin are higher, causing you to feel hungry, and your levels of leptin are lower, increasing your desire to eat.

Recent work also indicates that sleep loss may adversely affect glucose tolerance and involve an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

You can’t always get those extra hours in, but you should be trying to get more. There are many articles on how to sleep better. Do your own research, but here are a few tricks:

  1. Get off screens by 8pm (no computers, phones, television).
  2. Don’t eat protein late at night but save your complex carbs for this time of night to help you sleep better.
  3. Have an hour before you have to be somewhere? Lie down and see if you can get 30 minutes of sleep. It may take some practice before you can fall asleep on demand, but you can teach yourself. Practice naps. Yes, practice! It’s worth the effort!

#atozchallenge – Mercy vs Justice (M)

Justice and Mercy are the two ways the divine interacts with our world. They are also the pillars that hold up society and laws. They are, essentially, the pillars of all authority.

We think of each as a virtue. We usually think of them as opposites. Justice is giving a person exactly what she deserves. Mercy is letting someone avoid some amount of what she deserves.

When justice predominates in a system, people may feel safer but they limit creativity because they limit risk. When mercy predominates, people may feel freer but also mistreated because rewards and punishments are not fairly distributed. Either way can lead to unrest and even revolution.

My personal interest in these pillars are cultural and creative. But I see their imbalance every day in politics.

When Mercy Lies

The Old Testament is all about justice. Act and consequence are clearly explained and foretold. God is a great judge and feared for it. The New Testament is all about mercy. Jesus explains over-and-over why we must look past the law and focus on love.

Here we have a new analogy. Justice and Mercy are comparable to Punishment and Forgiveness or Law and Love.

Between the Law and Love, we know what Jesus would do. Many politicians do, too. That’s why the newest sophistry in this arena is to argue justice for the one would mean injustice for the other.

In one example, industries and their leaders avoid justice in order to show justice to their clients. The argument is: if these industries received their due, their clients would suffer unfairly. “Banks are too big to fail.”

In other words, we have not shown these banks justice in order to grant others (“little guy”) justice. The sophistic argument suggests the little guy is more important, but we know the one who is truly important is the one who received mercy–the big banks.

Who do you routinely grant mercy (forgiveness) to? Who do you insist must accept justice? There lies your bigotry.


#atozchallenge – Laughing Like a 1st Grader (L)

Me:  Give me that buttfor.
Son:  What’s a “buttfor”?
Me:  Silly boy, a butt is for pooping! Hahahaha!

Classic South Park joke. And actually, my son didn’t answer like that. He just stared at me for a long time because he figured out the joke. He finally played along and answered, because he’s a good boy and likes to make his Mommy laugh like a 1st grader.

So, this is a short post today. Hope you enjoyed the joke. I know you will go tell it to someone today who won’t remember the 1999 movie South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.

And if you get a chance to watch the movie, do that. It’s an incisive analysis of society’s predilection for scapegoating…along with songs about “unclefuckers,” jokes about German porn, and lots of farting.

Funny is as funny does.



#atozchallenge – Kindle Direct Publishing (K)

I’ve had short stories published in digital and print anthologies with a number of professional presses. Before the web, I even went through many rounds of the old school process with literary agents and print publishers. Over twenty years, I’ve had some success and a lot of failure.

I know things.

Most people still think of publishing as getting a contract from a publisher who will print the book and then pay the author some of the profits from the book’s sale as it is distributed in brick-and-mortar bookstores. This is a dwindling part of the market. Most print presses are now going digital. And many digital-only professional presses are opening for business. Many.

These professional presses, whether digital or print, are the ones that format and sell your book and give you some of the profits. From a professional press you will get four things:

    1. A book cover
    2. Editing of your manuscript
    3. Seen by more potential buyers
    4. A kind of endorsement many readers look for

That doesn’t mean you will necessarily make a profit. And how far these two features of professional presses go to increase your sales is another matter. Because:

    • How much is your publisher really doing to promote your book? Are they doing ads, interviews, sales, reviews, shows, a good cover? Or have they told you to do your own promotions via lots of social marketing, selling to friends and family, and tracking down leads?
    • Will the fact this publisher is selling your book matter to readers? Does your publisher have a reputation for quality? Will the readers in your niche be sure your book fits their expectations and that the press can deliver books in that niche?

It’s the Wild West Out There

The big professional print houses have all gone digital. They have created entire imprints for what they once considered unpublishable genres. New small digital presses are created every week and fold just as often.

I used to think it was important to publish through a professional press, the kind that required a reading and limited their acceptance of unsolicited manuscripts based on what most readers perceive as quality. In other words, if a professional press accepted my book, it was an endorsement, so more readers would buy it.


At some point in an author’s career, if you have done it for awhile, you can write a damn story. The rest is perception. Then it becomes not about quality but about fit. Does this story “fit” the publisher’s niche and their preferred style?

With all professional publishers, you have more responsibility to sell your own book than ever before. Yet, you’re likely paying your publisher half or more of the digital cover price and much, much more if it’s a print book. Is it worth it?

For me, it isn’t. This is why I’ve chosen to publish Darklaw through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and may do future works, too.

Self Publishing

KDP is self publishing. The difference between self publishing and professional publishing is that self publishing has no editorial process that determines quality or format. Your book may be crap or gold, but the reader won’t know based on the reputation of the publisher.

And just to be clear, self publishing is different from vanity presses of old only in how the publisher gets paid. Vanity presses required money up front and you got the product shipped to you to sell, so you always took a loss. Self publishers today are partners who take profits from your sale of digital or print-on-demand (POD), so no one makes money or everyone makes money.

That doesn’t mean it’s free or that you get to keep all the profits. KDP takes most of the cover price, even though, as a publisher, it is providing you with virtually nothing–no editing, no cover, no promotion, no reputation. You get only the use of its website for distribution. That is considerable, although Amazon has made changes over the years that make self-published works less visible to its visitors.

However, for me, it’s a win.


I have my own professional editor I pay to edit each story, so I don’t need a press to do this. I like doing my own book covers. In fact, I insist on it. All in all, I like providing my own vision of how my stories should be marketed. Doing it all is fun.

I’m a hobby author writing in a niche genre. I don’t expect to make much money from this, so I’m not strategizing for publishers or markets. I simply love having control and crafting the whole vision.

If you’re trying to decide which way to go with publishing your work, you need to decide why you’re writing. Really research everything and every publisher. KDP is only one of many self publishing options. In fact, your website is a form a self publishing.

What I’m talking about here is the democratization of publishing.

A Few Things to Avoid

One absolute is don’t pay for anything up front. No press should ask for money up front if it is legitimate. They should be a partner in your success. Not even a $10 processing fee or whatever crap I heard recently.

I would never even pay the press you are with to edit. Get your own editor separately.

I would never pay to be in a contest. Awards mean shit to readers and the prestigious awards aren’t ones you pay to enter. Contests are essentially raffles that make the givers lots of money.

And don’t give your stuff away free.  This doesn’t include free stories to market an existing book, say. But if you are trying to be a professional, be professional. Don’t give your labor and creativity away for free. Money shows what’s important to people. Make sure they treat you like you’re important or move on.

My KDP Stories


Buy at Amazon - Hold Fast the ReinsWith ruthless strategy Avestine conquers a kingdom that has long been a bane to the Empire of Darklaw. But her ruthlessness doesn’t end on the battlefield.



Buy at Amazon - Mastering the GirlIgnorant of the power growing inside her, Kami has come seeking a hero. What she finds is a brutal outlaw determined to claim that power for her own.



Buy at Amazon - Of Wild ThingsAs Avestine foments war, she’s unaware that her greatest enemy has been sharing her bed, for Kami has discovered the god inside.

Author | Illustrator | Personal Trainer | Astrologer| Fucking Genius | I eat sacred cows