Friday, October 23, 2015

Taking care of yourself - writing-related ouchies.

Some writers find that after a number of years of doing what we do that we end up with repetitive motion issues, especially if involved with an "evil day job" that requires them to be on a computer all day long anyway.

My writing is my evil day job, but I also have fibromyalgia and arthritis to add to the mix.


I have a few things that have (so far) allowed me to keep the repetitive-motion pain to a minimum, as long as I stick to my routine.

I use IMAK arthritis gloves to start with. They're short-fingered gloves, and even though I have really long fingers, I take an extra-small in these because my hands are fine-boned. Check the sizing chart carefully and if you fall at the lower end of the measurement scale, think about taking a size smaller than you think you might. These gloves REALLY help me especially in winter when I cannot seem to keep my hands and fingers warm (even when it's warm outside). Product Link (Note that's for the x-small size, find the size that will work for you.)

The nice thing about them is I can wear them under the other wrist braces I use. And since I'm a touch-typist, I need gear that won't slow me down there.

I'm a righty, so on my left hand I use an IMAK universal computer glove (it's definitely large on me even though it's a "one size"). Product Link

On my right hand, I use the IMAK SmartGlove, size x-small. What I like about both of these is that they have the "beads" in the heel of the palm area to cushion and keep pressure off the nerves. This one is reversible. You take the soft splint out of it, flip it inside out, and it fits the other wrist. Product Link That's the link to the x-small, so again, check your size carefully.

So that's for while I'm working. I use sports braces a lot when I'm not working (they're difficult to type in). For that, I prefer the McDonald 454 wrist braces (they come in left-hand and right-hand, and they are NOT reversible, so be careful what you order). Product Link (That link is for a right-hand one.) They have a removable metal splint so you can hand-wash them. (I hand-wash all these things in the bathroom sink with some Woolite.) I have purchased these at Sports Authority before, so if you have one of those available, try that. If I'm fairly diligent about using them when I'm not writing, I can keep away the worst of the pain.

At night I use an Ace sleeping brace on my right hand only. Product Link Sometimes you can also find these in Walmart or Walgreens. I have used other Ace carpal tunnel wrist supports before, but I've kind of gotten away from those in lieu of what I'm currently using. So far, the current blend has really helped me a lot. Plus I have conductive gloves on order to use with my TENS unit, so I'm hoping that will help even more this winter. In addition to that, I have a small electric hand warmer I picked up at Target a couple of years ago during the Christmas season. It's basically a very small electric heating pad with a pocket in the cover. When it's really cold I keep that in my lap and tuck my hands into it on a regular basis.

That's not all. I also have handwarmers I've crocheted, which are basically fingerless gloves. They're large enough to fit over everything else, so that if I need the extra warmth, I've got it.

I don't wear the McDonald wrist braces all the time, only when I've been working a lot, or have a lot of pain, and sometimes not even on both hands if my left feels okay. I play it by ear.

I hope this is helpful information for anyone who is looking for non-surgical ways to help ease pain and prevent injuries.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ellora's Cave vs Dear Author: Not with a bang, but a whimper.

Well, there was a settlement today in the Ellora's Cave vs Dear Author case. Unfortunately, the terms are confidential, so all the rest of us can do is speculate. Considering there was a flurry of filings yesterday afternoon, it's interesting to note that the original blog post (as of this writing) is still up on Dear Author's site.

Make of that what you will.

After over a YEAR of this bullshit that never should have been filed in the first place, it's done. I'm happy for Jane, because I know this had to be a strain on her. I'm also happy there were finally some sworn statements by brave people willing to go on the record and file affidavits about their experiences with all of this, including that they are owed statements and royalties by Ellora's Cave.

All I know is that Ellora's Cave avoided opening their books and short-circuited anyone else filing sworn statements in Dear Author's defense about the case (like the one filed by the executive director of the RWA, Allison Kelley, swearing that Ellora's Cave admitted problems to them, which led to the RWA instituting restrictions against them).

There is a lot of speculation that can be made in this case, but unfortunately, we'll just never know. Either side can claim a "win" but the true losers in the long-term are editors, cover artists, and authors who claim they are still owed statements and royalties, and readers who lost entire libraries of books (some for a second time) when Ellora's Cave instituted their "site upgrade" back in July and apparently lost all on-site sales records despite Patty Marks swearing in an e-mail on 2/16/2015 that they had multiple and redundant backups in place.

It also means that Ann Jacobs will now have to file her own lawsuit against Ellora's Cave.

Also, interesting sideline to note, Ellora's Cave author Laurann Dohner announced recently on her Facebook page that she's starting a new series and apparently self-publishing it. (Feel free to correct me if I've got my facts wrong there.)

Keep following the #notchilled hashtag on Twitter.

UPDATE: Deirdre Saoirse Moen has also posted an update with relevant asides from some of the filings.

No boom today. :/

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Effective Facebook promo tips for authors so you stop looking like an annoying idiot.



How many times have you see author promos on Facebook that look something like that?

Worse, if you are GUILTY of promos that look like that, go stand in the corner for an hour. I'll wait here.

Back? Good, let's get you straightened out, then, so you can EFFECTIVELY use Facebook and not be a douche in the process.

These tips are geared mostly for Facebook (also see my previous posts on Facebook for authors: Thou Shalt Nots for Writers, Pages are a Losing Game, How NOT to use Facebook if you're a writer.) but apply to other social media as well.

1) DO NOT USE ALL CAPS! For starters, it's the Internet equivalent of shouting. Secondly, it's more difficult to read. Thirdly, it's annoying as fuck. Caps should only be used for emphasis or sometimes for the book's title. (I prefer not using all caps for the title.)

And stop with the curly emojis and all that other crap. Because I sit there thinking, how did they create those, instead of looking at the book information before I start scrolling again. (Hint: That's a marketing FAIL.) Anything that distracts from your book's title and blurb is a FAIL.

Also, keep in mind that many people are reading on their phones or other mobile devices. The more barriers you put between them and direct information to your book and what it's about means less clicks. The LONGER a post is, the more likely Facebook will truncate it and put the "read more" click link on it. If you bury the headline, so to speak, after all the floofly crap, you won't sell jack shit to people. (Unless your book is about creating all those odd and ornate characters in Facebook posts. If so, well-done, and carry on. But since most of y'all's books are NOT about that, knock it the fuck off.)

2) Do NOT (See? Caps used as emphasis.) post chapters or long excerpts, meaning more than a few lines, in promos you're posting everywhere. Put those on YOUR website, YOUR Facebook group. (Again, see? Caps for emphasis.) You want to draw readers to your online space. If they see a really long wall of text, they will not read it. Seriously. Also, use line breaks between paragraphs. The human eye needs that white space.

3) When you "share" something, check the permissions. If you have the original post set to friends only, or in a group where only members can see the posts, the only thing most people will see is an "Attachment Unavailable" box for your share and they'll scroll on past. Also, when sharing an original post, don't forget to put text in the post for people to see, like your title, pen name, etc.

4) Check the promo rules for a group BEFORE you post in it. I have one group where we ONLY allow promo in the daily admin-started promo thread. There is a pinned post with rules. There is even a warning in the description AND on the banner image for the group. People STILL try to post promo outside of the correct thread. I have another group I run specifically for BDSM books. I had to change it to approve all posts first because people were posting non-BDSM books.

It is NOT the admin's job to chase your ass down to correct you. This is not kindergarten. You are an adult. Start fucking adulting like one.

Which brings me to...

5) Hashtags. With Twitter using them, they've even become popular on Facebook now, too. People use them as a quick reference to what they're looking at. So tagging your book #amazing #5stars #floofy is NOT helpful. Tagging your book #BDSM #wolfshifters #PNR #MMF #menage is helpful.

Also, ONLY tag what it is. Don't be a douche and tag it with other popular stuff. Readers will hate you for that shit. And use as few tags as possible. More tags is NOT better.

6) Do NOT add people to your Facebook group (or any group) without asking them FIRST. DO NOT DO IT. I don't CARE that Facebook LETS you do it, do NOT do it. It's douchey. Post/share the link to the group.

7) Headlines matter. Start with the basics. Here's the text of an actual promo that I use:

Now Available: The Strength of the Pack (Suncoast Society 30, MF, BDSM). This is a direct sequel to Vulnerable (Suncoast Society 29, MM, BDSM) by Tymber Dalton.


Eva’s world collapsed when Leo announced he was divorcing her. She believed an imperfect marriage was better than none since Leo protected her and their daughter. Then she quickly came to love Jesse, Leo’s new husband, and realized their “pack” is better, for all of them.

Nate Crawford practices acupuncture and enjoys helping people in his clinic and at Venture, the BDSM club. Family is all to him, because he raised his little sister as a single parent. He thought Leo, Jesse, and Eva were a triad, until matchmaking Tilly gets involved. Their only barrier to long-term love is whatever dark secret Eva keeps deeply buried.

When a confrontation finally forces the truth out, Nate and Eva are able to move forward, with Leo and Jesse’s blessings. But the worst day of Nate’s life pales in comparison when an unexpected crisis forces him to rely on the strength of their pack to carry him through a nightmare he can’t escape.

This is clear, concise, and basic. The title, the series, the KIND of book it is and the romantic pairing (if applicable), my pen name, and in this case that it's a direct sequel to another book. Followed by buy links and the book's "blurb." If you don't have an effective blurb, then it's time to change that, dontchathink?


WHY is this important? Because, hopefully, people might share your stuff. If you don't have the title, your pen name, the genre, and the romantic pairing (if applicable) at the TOP of your post, NO ONE WILL BUY IT. That's like someone saying, "Hey, here's a book." Well, who wrote it? "I dunno." What's the title? "I dunno." What's it about? "I dunno." Why should I buy it? "I dunno. But it got five stars somewhere and a picture of a hot chick having her hair held in the picture." Is that what the book is about? "I dunno..."

8) Quit telling us about what other readers say. Honestly? We don't give a shit. We really don't. If we want to look up the reader reviews, we will look them up on OUR site of choice. Think about it from what you read as a reader. Do you honestly care what readers say before you learn what the darn book is about, or are you interested in what the book is about? If I as a reader have to hunt for the genre and romantic pairing and blurb, you've lost me already. If you feel you have to include that stuff (hint: you do NOT) then put it AFTER the other stuff. Your blurb should be a hook to pull readers in. Shoving all that other stuff in front of it is like using the world's tastiest, sure-fire bait and then sitting there and smacking the water to scare the fish off while your hook is in. And frankly, most of us are at the point now where we really don't trust most reviews. We get our recommendations from our friends. So save yourself the time and save our eyeballs the scrolling.

9) QUIT using graphics that are NOT your book cover. For starters, I've seen plenty of authors use images they downloaded off the Internet and don't have legal permissions to use. Remember, just because you found it on the Internet does NOT make it "public domain." Use YOUR BOOK COVER. (See? Caps as emphasis.) You are SELLING YOUR BOOK. So why would you want a picture of a woman or a cartoon on your promo graphic for it? If you don't like your book cover, that's a problem you need to resolve ASAP. But you risk getting yourself into serious legal shit if you use graphics you don't have a legal right to use.

While I'm on the subject, make sure people besides you can actually READ the graphics you create. Cutesy fonts and low contrast are NOT going to make someone stop scrolling. Especially if they're viewing it on a TINY PHONE SCREEN. And even if you post a graphic, don't forget to post TEXT with it! Because a graphic is NOT a direct buy link, which leads me to...

10) Post your freaking buy links! I cannot tell you how many people I've seen post on Facebook something like this: "My book, Amazeball Book, is now available!"

That's it. No link to their website, no link to the book, no link to ANYTHING. Um, yeah. TOTAL fail. If your book isn't out yet, post a link to your website, your Facebook group (you should have one of those if you're an author and no, do NOT force-add people to it), a link to your publisher's page, ANYTHING.

But to post no links is basically like walking into your hall closet, shutting the door, and telling your winter coat you have a book out. It's literally THAT effective. (Meaning not at all.)

11) Again, another one I can't believe I have to say, but PROOFREAD your promo. No, I'm not going to click on your links if you use text-speak in your promo, or if your promo and book blurb are rife with errors. I just won't. Because I assume if you can't put together a short, cogent, typo-free promo for your book, then your book is probably full of the same kind of crap, and life is too short for bad books.

12) Do NOT post your promo to other people's walls without permission. When someone friends you, do NOT post promo to them as a "thank you for friending me" reply. DON'T DO IT. STOP IT. In real life, when you meet someone, do you say, "Hey, thanks for shaking my hand, I'm a mechanic, would you like to come in for an oil change next week because here's a coupon, I can make that appointment for you right now..."


So those are the biggies I see. Go forth and promo properly, peeps. Your bank account will thank you.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Amazon's love/hate with erotica.

Okay, so Amazon's at it...again...with shuffling erotica books off into the non-searchable "adult" Nethersphere of...something something OH MY GODZ THE CHILDREN!

Look, it's Amazon's sandbox, they can shit in it if they want, they can let only the cool kids in if they want, they can do whatever the hell they want, because TOS, yo. (Once again, NOT censorship, because they're not a government agency, they are a business and can sell what they want.) It makes them a shit-ton of money that they sort of quickly wave behind them so they don't have to admit it makes them a shit-ton of money.

Another good reason NOT to be exclusive with their KDP program.

So here's the thing, ALL authors with books on Amazon should make SURE to go in and claim their author pages and that all their books are added to the same author page. (It does NOT happen automatically, especially with adult titles. Make SURE to go into the Author Central dashboard and that they appear there. If not, get the ASIN and add it. All versions, Kindle, print, and audio (if available).

Route customers to THAT link. That way they won't miss any of your books. (And keep you author info updated for people to find your site.)

If this has happened to you and your books are now unsearchable behind the "adult filter," stop and calm the fuck down. Don't get your britches wound into a knot. It won't help your blood pressure any. Just make a list of your ASINs, write Amazon, and keep hammering at them to move your books. If enough authors start doing that, this will become a MAJOR pita for Amazon and likely they'll back off. Be POLITE. But be persistent. Keep escalating it. I've got a shit-ton of books that I'm going to have to wrangle with them about.

If vast numbers of authors politely go after Amazon and give them a headache, chances are they'll back off. No, not a given, but let's be honest here, who honestly wants a shit-ton more work coming up into their BUSIEST FREAKING TIME OF YEAR?

Probably not them.

Use the excuse that Fifty Shades of Grey and other books are HELLO, erotic, and THEY aren't whacked behind an adult filter. (I think that'd be a hoot, frankly, if we got FSoG knocked behind the adult filter, though, in the process of trying to win Amazon back over to our side.) And don't be a douchey dick. If your books ARE flat-out erotica, do NOT go trying to game the system. Those erotica writers who have repeatedly gamed the category system with Amazon are--frankly--assholes, and are the reason the rest of us who write romance/erotic romance are now getting dry-fucked up the ass without lube.

So thank you, fuckheads.

But be polite with dealing with Amazon CS and remember the faceless drone on the other end of the e-mail/chat box is NOT the one responsible for this and isn't out to get you. They're human, too.

Unless they're a Terminator. Then you're just fucked, sorry.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Historically based non-con romance? DO. NOT. WRITE. IT.

I honestly cannot believe I have to say this in this day and age:


The latest in this face-palm movement is a m/m story about a white slave owner and his black male slave, set in the historic US Southern slavery period, and basically white-washes (pun intended) the horrors of that time.

*excuse me while I throw up in my mouth*


Just NO.


I am only going to say this once: Shut the FUCK up and go back to your hole.

It is NOT okay to take historical events, be they Sally Hemmings, be they slavery, be they SS/Jew Holocaust situations, and turn them into "romances."


Now, before you blast me, I'm going to (once again) tell you all what I tell people in the BDSM 101 classes that I teach: What makes BDSM okay? It is a CONSENSUAL POWER EXCHANGE. The person on the "bottom" is GIVING the person on the "top" certain powers. In the US and elsewhere, it is ILLEGAL TO OWN A SLAVE. SO, *gasp* those slave "contracts" you read about in BDSM stories? Literally not worth the paper they're drawn up on.


If you want to write non-con/dub-con stories, knock yourself out. I am NOT against them AS LONG AS they do not try to misappropriate or misrepresent HISTORICAL EVENTS and rewrite them into "romance."

No. Just NO.


Write sci-fi, write fantasy, write ANYTHING that's NOT taking a REAL-LIFE EVENT and "sexing it up."


You are not only being insensitive, you're being OFFENSIVE by doing so.

Just because you CAN write something does NOT mean you SHOULD. I call you out, every last goddamned one of you fuckers, who think that is okay. It is NEVER okay.

Let's reframe this. Would you sex up an ISIS fighter in Syria abducting and raping a white female aid worker? Why not? How about an ISIS fighter abducting and raping a 12-year-old girl? Hmm? Why not?

Just because it happened, whether now, or 50, or 100, or 200 years ago does NOT mean you can sex it up.


White people nonconsensually imported slaves from Africa and elsewhere to the US to work as NONCONSENSUAL SLAVES. They raped them, they sold them, they ripped families apart, they murdered them. They kept them in inhumane conditions, they forced them to work, they stripped them of any and all rights.



Where did Jews in Nazi Germany and elsewhere consent to what happened to them?



Just because you want to romanticize something so it's more historically appealing to you doesn't give you the right to do it. It makes you a FUCKING DOUCHEBALL.

And I call you out on it.

#notchilled Ellora's Cave vs Dear Author: More filings (10/14/2015 update)

There were more filings yesterday in the Ellora's Cave vs Dear Author lawsuit, Defendant's Reply to Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment.

Of particular interest is the main filing, page eleven (as labelled at the bottom of each page, not the e-filing numbers at the top) and footnote 9 on that page.

I'll let you go look for yourself. Much more amusing that way.

No comment. I mean, seriously, no comment. I am unable to formulate the words. The footnote, as filed, stands on its own.

Also, two other updates I posted on my main site:

Look, here's the thing. When I teach a BDSM 101 class, one of the points I HEAVILY STRESS is safety issues and avoiding predators. And I always say the same thing--when you have ONE person who is making claims and calling a BUNCH of other people liars, and ALL those other people are 1) reliable sources and/or 2) have proof to back-up their claims, you don't start assuming ALL the other people are lying. You look at the ONE standout that everyone else is pointing to and you ask tough questions and you ask for proof from them to their assertions to counter what EVERYONE ELSE is saying.

If you hear 30+ people make similar complaints about a doctor/mechanic/daycare/veterinarian, are you going to use that professional, or are you going to assume that ALL those people are engaged in a vast "right-wing conspiracy" to defame?

I'm not talking about anonymous Yelp complaints or Amazon reviews. I'm talking when you meet individuals who are speaking out, EVEN IF IT'S TO THEIR DETRIMENT TO SPEAK OUT, whether it's fear of reprisals, or fear of lawsuit, or fear of some other retaliation, people who can PROVE their claims, or who are, at the very least, reliable sources with obvious first-hand knowledge that frequently matches up with reports from others whom they don't even KNOW.

Law of averages, folks.

Do I hope EC fails?

NO. In fact, I've called for people to report good and bad customer service issues over on my main site, and have received a good customer report about dealing with a CS rep at EC. And if the court rules against DA in this case, I'll be reporting that as well.

Do I know the full "truth" of what's going on at EC?

Of course not. I only have what's now part of the public record in court filings, author and other blog posts and e-mails, and things people have told me in confidence for years.

What do I base my personal conclusions on? I see a clear pattern being presented by the evidence being filed in this case, patterns that match up to things I've been told by unrelated other parties for years.

Do not base YOUR conclusions on just what I or any one other person is saying. Look at ALL the statements and evidence being presented. The entirety of the body of evidence and statements.

When I see authors and editors standing up and filing legal witness statements, under threat of perjury, and stating that what they say is true, to me, that gives weight to claims being made. When I see a company official swear up and down in an e-mail that they have redundant backups in place and then just a few months later a site migration supposedly wipes all customer data out in direct contradiction to those earlier statements, I scratch my head in confusion.

I don't want to see ANY author lose access to rights. I HATE like holy farking hell to see authors or anyone else NOT getting paid, especially when many of them NEED that money.

I don't want to see a company that was once an industry leader go down the drain. Absolutely not.


When authors who feel they have no other options left finally do speak out and then are publicly referred to as "bad apples" simply for wanting their contractual rights to be met as laid out in the document they signed, that pisses me off.

I want authors to feel empowered to take control of their careers and not worry about being "blackballed" if contractual obligations by another party aren't being upheld. Why is it that we wouldn't hesitate to sue a contractor if they screwed up our house, but if a publisher doesn't uphold their end of the bargain, writers (especially women writers) get all worried and hush-hush and feel like they have no agency or power in the matter?

What the FUCK is up with THAT??

This is a BUSINESS TRANSACTION. Call your book your baby, call it your art, call it whatever you want, but do NOT fool yourself. Once you sign a publishing contract, that "baby" becomes a "business asset." You are now in a contractual agreement.

Do you think your bank would hesitate to come after you if you breached the terms of your mortgage by not paying? Or would they sit there and wring their hands and say, oh, well, we don't want to make waves...

FUCK NO. They would SUE your ass for cause.

So why is it that writers--yes, especially us women writers--treat the PUBLISHING BUSINESS as anything other than a BUSINESS???

Why do we feel that just because it's a book involved that we no longer have any rights to pursue a redress of grievances if the contract isn't being upheld by the other party? Why do we feel we don't have a right to speak out and ASK QUESTIONS to see if there are others being affected by it as well? Why is there this culture of SECRECY about publishing when there pretty much isn't about any other industry, except maybe the military and certain religious institutions???

Yes, that's a lot of farking question marks.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I don't care WHAT your opinion of Dear Author is. I honestly don't. I'd be this pissed off if a publisher sued Publishers Weekly for the same damn thing. I really would.

The culture of silence in publishing needs to END. You know who else uses a culture of shaming and silence?



Also, just for the hell of it, take a look at some of these links. They are interesting reading and help illustrate some of what I mean about my point of looking at the whole instead of the one.