A Thousand Thoughts – Where to Begin?


I suppose I shall start with the pen name.

If you haven’t followed me on Facebook, then you don’t know I’ve gone from Raven Ember to Victorea Ryan Meadow. I’m so loving this new name. It’s gorgeous, it embodies who I am and how much I’ve overcome in my life and how much more I will overcome in my life.

Tokyo in Tulsa is one weekend away, and I’m just so excited for this. Last year, I was woefully unprepared for this event. I still feel unprepared for this year, but that’s more to do with I don’t have everything I want completed as I would like. I have twenty copies of each book coming in to sell. Yep. Twenty copies. Sigyn’s Flowers and Portal to Gaming have additional copies coming in for the Cosplay Giveaway. That’s more copies than what I had last year. By far. I will even be able to accept credit card payments this year.

This is also turning somewhat into a family affair. My mother will be selling crocheted items. I am trying to get her to lean more towards fantasy-themed items. Maybe for next year!

Self-publishing has been an ongoing, learning process for me. I admit right now that I wasn’t ready to publish when I first published. I didn’t do enough research beyond some bare-bone basics. I’m going to impart some of what I have learned, and I encourage others who read this to also do their own research.

For starters, be sure of your name. I’d decided a long time ago, like when I was sixteen, I always wanted to use a pen name, and, when I set everything up, I’d forgotten the pen name I’d wanted to use. When that happened, to pay some homage to some very dear friends of mine, I created Elise K. Ra’sha. The Elise was for my friend, Lise Radke, and the Ra’sha for my friend, Raksha. I’d added the K for my best friend, Kami. As everyone may well remember (and I know you probably do), back in December, I felt the need for a change. I’d wanted to take some time with the new name transition but, once I wrote out Raven Ember, it felt good at the time, another homage to my Pagan side, and then I was running with it. Within a few months, I was no longer satisfied with that, and I began to toy with the name of Victorea (pronounced Vic-tor-eee-ah, ie Victoria) Meadow.

I’ve always loved the name Victoria. I’ve loved it since I was sixteen, and I hope one day to be able to change my real name into my pen name. Given my spiritual nature, I know I will have more than one name, but those will be private.

In any case, if you want a pen name and you plan on self-publishing like I have, be sure of it and yet, allow for changes. Allow yourself room to grow as an author and be wise for when your pen name no longer suits you.

Also, if you like your pen name but may want room to change it in the future as well as self-publish, a bit of practical advice: Use the free ISBN* provided by either CreateSpace or Lulu. Back in December, I expected a fight for the name change on CreateSpace, even though I’d contacted Bowker about it. (This time around, I found out I could make the changes myself on Bowker rather than trying to contact them and have them do the leg work.) I didn’t get the fight then. I got it now, and one thing that wasn’t working in my favor was I didn’t check my contributors on Bowker’s site. Those are now changed, but CreateSpace, to this point, has been insisting that I use a new ISBN for the same 6×9 format. (Understand, Bowker doesn’t require a new ISBN for pen name changes. Format and major manuscript changes, yes, but pen name? No. I’ve double-checked on that, too.)

Because I have paid for these ISBNs, I have ultimately refused to do as they have suggested. Call it stubbornness on my part (I will definitely agree), but that is ultimately my money at work here. Given I’m working two jobs and am seeking to add a third/let one of the previous ones go, this seeming lack of regard for my money on CreateSpace’s part (yes, they’ve not even acknowledged that I’ve been saying to them repeatedly that I’ve purchased my own ISBNs) is grating. In my eyes, I have worked hard for those ISBNs, to be able to purchase them, so to use another for something as simple as a name change in their metadata (that they can do – the review process must be completed for this – my books were found under Elise K. Ra’sha and now, if I put them back into print, Raven Ember) is a bit of a waste of money. I’ve also been told by Lulu that, because my ISBNs are already assigned to another format, I have to use a different one to publish through them. They, too, offer a free ISBN* to publish through them.

I say for people who are only halfway sold on a pen name to use those free ISBNs for one reason alone: money efficiency on the author’s part. A single ISBN through Bowker is $125, ten is around $275, and a block of one hundred is $575. Unless you have copious amounts of money to spare on ISBNs for such things as name changes, that’s a financial sting I would love to spare others from feeling when it comes to self-publishing.

* – Note here that the free ISBN through either Lulu or CreateSpace comes with the string that either company gets to list themselves as the publisher of your story. Given that they don’t have the standard procedure of a traditional publishing house when it comes to manuscript submission, I personally take issue with this. Publishing houses have people who read over manuscripts to accept or reject them. Publishing houses have editors to help the author make the story better. They have people who do the formatting and typesetting of the manuscript, and, finally, they pay artists to do the cover art. All of this is at no upfront cost to the author. Mind you that, ultimately, the author does pay for this – traditional publishing houses offer advances, which are loans to the author – but it isn’t directly upfront or out of pocket. The publishing house, as mentioned before, pays the author an advance. Once that advance is taken care of through book sales, then the author starts to receive royalties. They do all of this on top of simply providing an author with the ISBN.

Lulu and CreateSpace do neither of these. To get editing done, I must do this myself and rely on critique sites to weasel out the inconsistencies, spelling and grammatical errors, the missing words, and the like before I take my stories to their sites. They offer editing services, at least CreateSpace does, but it costs the author. They offer to have others do the artwork, but, again, it costs the author out of pocket and upfront if the author chooses to have them do this. Even if the author doesn’t choose to utilize those services, it still costs out of pocket to find and hire an editor and an artist. Yes, upon publishing with them, an author receives the royalties, but the costs don’t pan out right away. If I spend $500 for editing, $500 for art, but my royalties are only $200 a month, it takes a while for the royalties to actually be royalties.

And that’s just for one book. If you plan on writing only one book ever, this would definitely end up more beneficial to you in the long run. However, many authors have more than one book they want to publish. Self-published authors are basically using royalty money to either invest back into paying for the upfront costs of self-publishing or utilities, or, if they’re lucky enough, both. What helps some self-published authors is that they’re married and have a significant other who can help ease the bill paying! ^_^

It’s simply my personal opinion that a publisher gets to be a publisher because they’re taking the majority of the work off of the author’s shoulders. It isn’t always easy to find someone willing to edit your work nor is it cheap. It isn’t always easy to find someone willing to do the cover art for you. Some of it does come down to money. Some of it comes down to time. Some of it comes from not knowing where else to look. I’ve had people recommend Fiverr to me for finding art and editing services, and I would still do self-editing. (Editors are human, after all, and they can add errors to your work without even meaning to – it’s always best to work with the editor, communicate well, and develop a rapport to make sure the manuscript gets to where it needs to be; otherwise, you will still have a book riddled with errors that are not your own.) If I am to be the one to do all of this legwork just to get my book ready for publication, then I feel that sites like CreateSpace and Lulu do not have the right to list themselves as my publisher. If others have no issues with that, then far be it for me to tell them how they should feel. As self-published authors, we do need to do what is best for our careers and our bank accounts. That’s why I am saying that this is my personal opinion, which is based on what I know in bare bones terms what a publisher does for an author. I mean, if I want copies to sell at a convention, I still have to pay CreateSpace and Lulu to print those copies. I don’t know how obtaining works with a traditional publisher for an event goes. (It could very well be the same deal, and, if that’s the case, then I certainly will not begrudge Lulu and CreateSpace for charging me.)

If you have no inhibitions on using your real name for self-publishing, then I do recommend obtaining your own ISBNs. It is a recommendation only. Given my circumstances, I do understand if one is unable to do so. Again, we authors need to do what we feel is best for our careers and bank accounts. I suggest this because, well, if you have your own ISBNs, you can eventually sell directly from your own website. In fact, once I can get an actual website set up, that is one of the things I would love to do, sell directly to the reader so they’re not relying on a single website for all of their book purchases. (This is why it’s recommended to have an ISBN for ebooks. Eventually.) Purchasing your own ISBNs is actually, in my opinion, quite worth it. It allows the self-published author to actually list who the publisher is, which is said author. This is an investment in yourself. Take the credit for the amount of work and hours you’re putting into your manuscripts. You actually are your own publisher in this case. Be proud of yourself that you’re actually doing this. Just remember to sit down and write, too!

Finally, well, I’ve been having an interesting conversation with someone on Facebook over things like what feminism is doing to current literature. According to some, feminism is “destroying” literature because, hey, we’re kind of tired of the old trope of misogynist man gets the feminist woman every time because she’s the one to change for his love and he still gets to be a dickhead. Mens’ rights are somehow slowly being eroded away because of feminism, and this particular event from my personal life came to my mind. It’s kind of brief, but it’s still no less personal for it, either. I feel it’s quite relevant, too, because, hey, I want a strong man in my life, someone who isn’t afraid to laugh and to cry and to demonstrate that he truly loves me, trusts me to be there for me, and vice versa. Strength isn’t necessarily about how hard you can hit with your fists or about how much stuff you can get done on your own but how willing you are to stop, realize that you need help, then show that vulnerability to the world. It’s so hard to ask for help anymore, but we humans were never meant to carry the weight of the world upon our shoulders.

Anyway, this was a response to a woman who felt that “liberal” culture was destroying the manly manliest men out there. It’s been edited and expanded upon for this journal’s purposes. For my fellow writers, I do encourage you to read this. I encourage you to expand the way you think about your characters – all of your characters – and challenge yourself to do more than simply write the tropes that have existed since publishing became a big industry. Writing is an art form, and art challenges us to step outside of what we know to be true.

Once upon a time, I was the only girl on my father’s side of the family. I was surrounded by boys. The rough and tumble kind of boys, the kind of boys who felt it okay to treat a girl however they wanted because they were boys, and, back in the eighties, the expression boys will be boys had a much stronger sway than what it does now. It was a time when men were still looked down upon for shedding tears for stubbing their toes or for experiencing heartbreak. Ten years in, another female cousin was born. Fast forward to the day she got married, and I’m watching my grandfather at the wedding. He had tears in his eyes.
The mens’ right men would undoubtedly scoff at my grandfather for the tears in his eyes at a wedding. They would. Men don’t cry, right? Little would they know, that would be the only granddaughter of his five granddaughters that he would ever get to see be married. Little would I know my female cousin’s wedding would be the only one of our weddings he would ever attend. I have yet to find my soulmate/s in this life, and my other female cousins, well, I don’t associate with them any longer, but, last I knew, neither were involved with anyone so neither of them were married. My grandfather had every right to have those tears of joy in his eyes. Every right. By associating myself as a feminist, I do declare that men have the right to express more than just anger and lust. They have the right to be sad, to be vulnerable, and to be smart, to be intelligent and witty, to learn and to grow from their mistakes. The manly men who want nothing more than to be manly men and to take whatever they want are simply toxic. For all of us. The women who think it’s okay for “boys to be boys” are just as toxic as the manly men who use their fists to get their points across.
I despise such people because such people, the toxic manly men, have never allowed for MEN to feel more than just lust and anger. They want to keep everything bottled away, to believe that “no” means a woman is simply playing hard to get, that they don’t have to respect others by virtue of being born a boy. To them, tears in a man’s eyes are a weakness whereas to me they’re a sign of strength and trust placed in the world around him, where he’s saying, I’m hurting and I trust you to not hurt me further.
I pity the people who think that a man can only be defined the way they have been defined over hundreds and thousands of years. I truly do. And, as a writer, I find sticking to that trope to be so . . . limiting.

Have a great weekend, my friends! The double-shifts begin again tomorrow (part of the reason why I’m so silent anymore).

I leave you with the new covers for Portal to Gaming and The Sons of Thor. No text on them, as they were included separately. Thanks to Annabel Lee for such an amazing job!Cover1_separate imageCover2_separate image


There Was a Time . . .


This is something I don’t speak often on, not even to my family or closest of friends.

There was a time, when I was in the homeless shelters in Washington and Pennsylvania, where I felt under constant emotional, spiritual, and mental attack, mainly by family. I had this mental imagery at times of me on the ground, a shield poised over my head and my torso while I curled underneath it for better protection against the onslaught of not living up to anyone else’s standards. It was almost relentless, in a sense, too.

Who, in their sane minds, ever becomes homeless? Willingly becomes homeless? In the eyes of some, that’s rather suspicious. In the eyes of others, it’s insanity.

My reasons were not so nefarious, not even a little, and, honestly, with where I was at the point in my life when I hauled myself from Michigan to Washington and finally to Pennsylvania, I had no respect for home. I had no respect for what home meant. When you live with other people your entire life, you take the concept of home for granted. It’s just something that’s there. Most of the time, it takes something drastic to happen – foreclosure and/or eviction; natural disaster; fire – in order for people to appreciate what they’ve had when it comes to home.

Now, not only did I lack that respect, but I was guided. It sounds crazy, and, personally, that’s okay with me. I haven’t always fit in with what’s considered normal in American society anyway, so this is just one more thing to add to that bucket of my oddities. People won’t always understand, either, when a person is guided to do something, so this was just one more thing for those who didn’t understand to use against me as a weapon during the time that I was homeless. (Homeless person speaking out on the biggest causes of the homeless problem in the U.S.? Oh my. In the minds of many, it’s your own fault for improper planning and you shouldn’t expect charity or sympathy for your own decisions . . . never mind what was said actually had nothing to do with the rants against me when I did speak out.)

There is always a time when I voice my opinion to someone, my stance on life, and someone, usually a man, will tell me that I will end up alone in life because I refuse to “see” what it is that’s being said. And, yes, nine times out of ten, a man is telling me that I will be lonely for sticking by my beliefs.

One thing I have found to be true is we can be surrounded by those who love us, those who agree with our opinions, and we’re still feeling alone in this world. I have friends and family who agree with me on many subjects, but that doesn’t stop the loneliness from coming in and trying to crush me. I find such remarks about me ending up alone later in life to be control, manipulation, and gaslighting attempts. Why? Like I said, I’ve been amongst people who agree with me, who believe the same way that I do, who even respect and value my thoughts and me as a human being, and I still feel alone at times. I offer hugs every so often to random strangers.

I struggle with overwhelming emotions and anxiety. I’ve built walls around myself from an early age so I wouldn’t have to feel the pain of others. I’ve known for many years now that what we want and what we need are two separate things, that they are not mutually exclusive.

Now, the days of feeling constantly under attack, like if I try to remove that feeble wooden shield and to stand that everything will resume all over again, are mostly over. But it’s still there with me. The feeling of attack hasn’t ended. I just have a stronger sense of myself than what I did four years ago.

Call Me a Bitch One More Time! XD LOL. Oh, and there’s more!


Long time no see in all of this. Life has been rather busy and draining lately. I’m looking to make some changes to alleviate all of that.

You know what’s really hard to do in life? Insult someone who has already laid claim to the word you’re trying to use an insult. About two months ago (give or take a bit), through a former mutual friend, some guy took it upon himself to act childish and start lashing out at others in an attempt to defend the former mutual friend. This guy’s attempted to insult me by calling me an asshole, green-lipt geek. Yes, lipped is spelled wrong. That’s precisely how he spelled it.

Here’s the thing: Yes, there are times when I’m an asshole, and I know it. Asshole isn’t necessarily a common attempted insult for a woman, but it does happen. (From the throwback machine, one of my former co-workers when I worked in a factory told me her boyfriend called her an asshole once. Shocked her. In the end, she found it funny, and I did as well.)

Oh, and in my profile picture on Facebook, I’m wearing green lipstick. That was quite intentional. I actually experiment with effects when applying my makeup for work. I’ve been called a mermaid, an unicorn, and have had positive comments when I mix purples and blues together to get a peacock look. The green lipstick that day was for the mermaid effect.

Finally, I am a geek. If you’ve followed this journal, if you’ve known me for any given length of time, you k now I was raised as a geek (though I’m sure my parents weren’t actually intending for that to happen). Yes, I was a little stung by this. At first. But then came the amusement. That was supposed to be an insult? I’m proud of myself for being daring and expressive with how I apply my makeup. I’m proud of myself for being a geek. I know so many amazing people because I am a geek. The geek is part of who I am and who I shall always be. It says more about the people trying to use the geek and the daring aspect about my life against me than it does about me.

So that’s one person’s attempts at insulting me, trying to put me down. This morning, as I’m going through one of my daily morning rituals, I get a notification from fanfiction.net that I have a private message waiting for me. This person has taken it upon herself to say the following: You’re a bitch, you know that?

Now, like most people, this took me by surprise. This is an out of the blue message. There’s that initial moment of why would you say that to me and the desire to ask said question. I also couldn’t help but laugh and be amused by this because, yes, my friends, I have used the label of bitch as a badge of honor for well over twenty years. It’s been a shield for me, and it’s something I would get labeled as anyway because I am often outspoken, I am stubborn, and I refuse to bend to how others want me to be. I am me. I really don’t want to be an imitation of someone else because, at best, I’d be a poor and pale imitation of the other person. Bitch is something I’ve been called many times before throughout my life. I’ve even called myself a bitch.

After the initial “wtf?!” feeling left, I was more amused than anything else. I’m still amused by all of this. I honestly don’t know why this person did this. I can speculate. I could probably ask this persona as well. However, I’m not asking this person why she felt the need to send me a private message, out of the blue, to call me a bitch. I checked my private message history and found no interactions there. I checked my review history, and, like the private message history, I’ve found nothing there as well. I admit to curiosity here, but to try and get my attention by automatically calling me a bitch then giving me no reason as to why you’re calling me a bitch? It isn’t a cool way to go, I’m simply going to agree with you, say okay, and I’m going to move on with the rest of my day. The word bitch isn’t an insult for me. I don’t care if you call me that. I do try to avoid giving people reasons to call me a bitch – I am a professional author and therefore do what I can to behave professionally when in public. I have speculated a little bit on this, but, again, I’m moving on.

With that, yes, I’m moving on. It’s been three weeks since I was approved for Exhibitor space for Tokyo in Tulsa. It’s been two weeks since I’ve paid for my Exhibitor space for Tokyo in Tulsa. For my Facebook and Twitter friends, you already know this. I have 96% of what I need to have a spectacular display for this. My mother will be my table buddy this year, and she’ll be selling crocheted items like hats, tablet covers, bookmarks, and more. I’m very excited about this. I have an artist on board to do the cover art for the Arc of Fantasy paperbacks, and Arc of Fantasy is getting a relaunch. I’m going over the first two publications and updating the manuscripts.

Finally, I’ll be starting up some live feeds on Facebook. The first one will be a week from this upcoming Wednesday, at 9 pm central. I’m going to share a story with everyone, though which one will be a surprise. (I haven’t decided yet.)

Tune in next Wednesday to find out!

Ideas Can Be a Dime a Dozen


Recently, I found out that a friend of mine, through another mutual friend of ours, has an agent to help her get published. Yay! Congrats to my friend (you know who you are) on having secured that. You can be quite the envy of all my writing friends seeking representation in this tough world we call publishing! (Seriously, I’m crazily proud of her for this. I personally am not seeking representation or a publishing house at this particular point in time, but that is subject to change, based on personal goals.)

When our mutual friend told me this and suggested that I speak with her about what she learned, I didn’t immediately leap to send that message. I do hem and haw a little bit, based on what others have told me about their personal experiences and what I’ve learned on my own as well. That and I figured our mutual friend could tell me as obviously this friend told her and why hold back on some of that information? The mutual friend did comply with what she knew, and, in between texts, I did comply with the suggestion. A phone call later in the evening, and I have today’s blog post

One thing my friend suggested is the whole round robin/gathering ideas aspect of storytelling. It’s something I have actually actively avoided for the longest time. It’s not so much of a “it’s my pie, and I don’t want people putting their grubby fingers into it” attitude as it is “I will run with this and you may not like where it takes me” attitude along with a “you like this idea so create it yourself” attitude. The last bit sounds harsh, but I’ve always approached this with a more encouraging aspect. If someone approaches me with an idea, I want to see them create what’s in their heads when it comes to fiction writing. i want them to unlimit and express themselves in their particular vision. That’s how I am, that’s how I’ve operated, and I will probably continue to do so.

There is also another reason why I do hesitate on taking ideas from others. Several years ago, I had someone from another country approach me with ideas for one of my Star Ocean fanfiction pieces. While I really didn’t want any ideas for this story (I had not posted anything of the sort anywhere in the author’s notes that I was actively seeking ideas), I decided to listen to be nice and to see if I couldn’t encourage this individual to start writing for himself. As a writer, that is one of my goals in this life. I want people who come across whatever I’ve written to start writing their own stories.

I believe I’ve written about it before in this blog, but I’ll go over this again. This encounter eventually turned ugly. The person became insistent that I use his ideas and that I execute his ideas in the way that he envisioned instead of allowing me free reign on what he was offering me. I’d even made it clear that, if I did use those ideas he presented, those ideas would go with my interpretation and not his, which really pissed him off. It got to the point where he was telling me that he’d done a working to bend me to his will and threatening to travel from England to where I lived in the U.S. in order to kill me all the while bragging he could get away with it because he was nobility.

Mind you, I didn’t take the death threat seriously. I laughed in his face about it because I knew where I lived and I knew that if he tried, he wouldn’t be able to get away with killing me like he claimed. I still reported him to the federal authorities because a death threat is still a death threat. (And, if he had tried to come to where I lived, he’d have found himself facing a number of guns in his face because, while the county sheriff’s office never patrolled the area, it was, in fact, countryside with a lot of farmers and a lot of people knowing they had to defend themselves and their homes from unusual activity because the county sheriff’s office never patrolled the area.)

After that, readers have still offered up ideas in reviews. A lot of times, I have hesitated. Sometimes, because, as I’ve said, I want to see them write their own stories. I’ve left a story open-ended just so people could write their own endings with their own ideas and inspiration. A couple of times, I’ve rejected ideas simply because they were too cliched, too overused, and heading in a direction that would have been detrimental to the story I was crafting at the time.

Now, this isn’t to say I have never taken up someone else’s ideas. I have. I adopted a Star Ocean idea from someone because I liked the premise. I’ve read Inuyasha stories where the ideas were poorly executed and thought to myself, I can do better than that. And in every case, there has been one thing consistent in all of it.

I’ve had free reign to listen to the ideas, and I’ve gone where the ideas have personally inspired me. That is extremely important when it comes to storytelling and an author asking for ideas from the readers.

I bring this up because of this conversation with my friend and because I really do want to build my platform. I do want to build a following, and I do love hearing from people on what it is I’ve created and how it excites them as much as it excites me. I’m not opposed to receiving ideas if I ask for them. Unsolicited is the trickier aspect for me. I’m currently working on my Arc of Fantasy series along with a few fanfiction projects, and I’m attempting to revive an old project from back in the day. And here’s why.

Ideas can be quite tricky when it comes to an author receiving, rejecting, and/or accepting and developing them. The IDEA itself must grab me. It must grab me by the shoulders, shake me around, and say,  “I want you to write me out”. There is nothing worse than taking an idea you’re not excited about, not happy about, and executing it to appease someone else. If that idea isn’t going to grab me, intrigue me, and tempt me into writing it, I sure as hell don’t expect it to captivate my audience nearly as much as it would have if I’d been excited about it in the first place.

I will speak only for myself on this. If/when I start to ask for ideas on something, if you suggest and I reject, please refrain from taking it personally. Chances are, the idea didn’t excite me as much as it excited you. And, if I encourage you to write it yourself, I do so because I believe you have the ability to make your idea come to life, maybe even better than what you believe I could do for you.

After all, you will never know if you refuse to try.

Now that I’ve said all of that, when will I be taking ideas? We shall see, my lovelies. We shall see!

Until the next time!

Doing the Whole Creator Thing And Courage


First of all, I want to take this moment and send out a very huge and appreciative thank you to everyone who has picked up their copies of my books, be it ebook, paperback, ordered online or in person. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Every purchase means the world to me. Sigyn’s Flowers happens to be the most popular right now, and that’s awesome.

Second, I want to give a shout out to everyone who has taken the chance of putting themselves out there, either with success or not much luck at all. Being a creator is difficult work at best. Many people will draw, write, compose whatever comes from within them, and it can become quite nerve-wracking. Sharing what we’ve created with the world? Well, that can be quite downright terrifying.

I don’t care if you’re doing fanart, fanfiction, fan parody videos, or are creating original content. If you’re sharing with the world or even with one other person, you have some serious balls, my friend. If someone’s shared something with you and you’re just as excited as they are for what they’ve created, you, too, have some serious balls. And the world needs more people like that. Courage and kindness.

I recently watched a one-month old video from some Youtubers who go by the name Screen Team. I was introduced to their work almost five years ago from a former co-worker. She told me, and showed me, their parody video of Avengers Assemble, which I thought was hilarious. I looked up a few of their other parody videos as well, and I’ve been hooked since. Their video last month talked about how they’d taken the time to decide if they were going to continue creating content and, if they were, where they were going to post their content. They’d run into issues of death threats and stalking (Angie Griffin, specifically) and the issues they’d run into with Youtube not notifying subscribers of their new content.

Fortunately, they decided that they were stronger than the hate that’s out there. One thing I have always admired about them was their geek positivity for geek culture. And they do everything themselves. They’re not a huge production, and they’re doing what they’re doing because they love it. If I was in a relationship with someone, the way they interact with each other and share the same geeky interests would be among my #relationshipgoals as well as what Morticia and Gomez Addams have. Any time there’s someone out there who can inspire someone through the content they create, through encouragement alone, that’s something that needs to be commended. It takes courage to put ourselves out there, and, as I can personally attest to, creating content isn’t always easy. It’s a long and agonizing process that’s filled with highs and lows. Creating content takes a huge chunk of time out of anyone’s life. That takes a lot of dedication and discipline to do.

Now, I understand that there is the darker side to the whole Creator aspect. I’m aiming for the positive, the ones that connect people, leave them feeling lighter than they had before the content reached them and filled with light and love as well as a sense of community. Those who build people up with their content are the most amazing people out there. And we do need more people like that.

So be kind, my friends. Be loving, and be courageous. If you’re a fellow Creator, keep creating. It’s risky business, but someone’s gotta do it.

Writing Struggles – Making It Personal


And this is quite personal for me, too, talking about this.

In addition to working the two jobs right now, I’ve found my motivation to work on Ravensrealm lacking. The two main characters, both of whom are seventeen years old in this story, are growing by 1/4 inches but remaining rather stale and stagnant. Perhaps it’s something I should have expected. They’re seventeen, in college because they’re wanting to accelerate their lives beyond their current means – note: poverty doesn’t exist in the sense as we know it, at least not in this utopian futuristic society I’ve crafted, but basic human emotions do remain, such as love, anger, sadness, jealousy, and so on  – and, well, teenagers can be notoriously stubborn in what is they see and want in this life. They can be willfully blind or they can be willfully aware.

However, be that as it may, that’s hardly the issue with the progress of the story. I realized that my two main characters have no personal connection to the quest that they’re on.




They’re just on this quest because they’ve been chosen for it, and it’s a quest they wanted to undertake in the first place. Yet, they still have very little in the way of personal connection. It’s a quest, something for them to do, without realizing what’s at stake. And, when I realized that, I kept thinking to the scene from The Core where two of the scientists involved were talking about why they were on their mission. The first one, the American (played by Aaron Eckhart), knew precisely why he was on this mission. So did the other scientist, a guy from France (played by Tcheky Karyo), and this is what he said:

“I came here to save my wife and my two children and… seven billion lives… it’s too much. I just hope I’m, I’m smart enough and brave enough to save three.”

So every character has a reason for why they’re on this quest. They’ve been asked to, they asked to, and they each have a stake (to be revealed throughout the story) as to why they’re on this quest to get to Ravensrealm. Alethea and Jordan do not.

At least . . . they didn’t before this weekend. Now that I know what their issues are, I can fix this and just simply tie it in with a few things that have already been revealed.

Ravensrealm is going to be a beast of a story.

I feel invigorated to keep going, now that the hair pulling is over.

Revisions will be another story.

Remember, my friends, if the story isn’t personal for the characters, it isn’t personal for you, and it isn’t personal for the reader. Think on your characters and their relationships. What do they stand to lose? Is what they could lose greater than what they would gain? Sometimes people fight, not to gain something new, but to keep what they already have, and it can be quite the powerful motivation.

With that, I’m off to get some more writing done.

Until the next time!

With the Digital Age Comes Great Power and Great Responsibility


Ah, the silence of a writer working two jobs and trying to carve out writing time! . . . In addition to maintaining some form of cleanliness, health, and spirituality. (On that note, I really do want to make me some mugwort tea at some point. That stuff is so yum!) Oh, and let’s not forget the internet presence. Yeah, I’ve been one tired woman as of late.

I have, during this time, been doing a lot of reflecting on a variety of things. One thing that has come up is, well, Amazon, of all things. I joined a book reading group a while back, and I had someone tell me that Barnes and Noble tends to overcharge on books. This was in a discussion about Barnes and Noble closing stores and laying off the higher-paid employees, which, if you’ve ever paid attention to modern history and business practices, this is not a new thing. Nearly every company in the history of the modern industry has done this. Ford, Chrysler, GM, Wal-Mart, Target . . . there are very companies that have not done this practice, and to call one company pretentious over this practice (which was done) on a day I’d found out that I wasn’t getting my full federal refund, well, it became a bit of a nasty argument because, hey, having to sell books for dirt cheap isn’t a really good way to make a profit for anyone. Places like Amazon and Wal-Mart can do this because they buy other things in bulk or they have contracts with others in order to compensate for those losses.

In the end, this whole buying books cheap instead of the list price as set by the publisher (which is what Barnes and Noble does, by the way, so if you’re thinking $10.99 is overpriced for a paperback, then I have no clue what to tell you) doesn’t hurt the publishing company. It doesn’t hurt the likes of Amazon or Wal-Mart. It tends to hurt the employees of bookstores, and it hurts authors.

The woman who pointed out that selling books cheap on Amazon guaranteed actual sales. Yes, it’s true that lower prices does guarantee that someone somewhere out there will buy that book. That’s a given, that’s a no-brainer.

That, however, doesn’t mean the author is making a huge profit, be it a beginning, self-published author or a traditionally published author. Let’s break this down a little bit.

The average paperback costs anywhere from $8.99 to $11.99 in a bookstore, depending on the book’s thickness. And let’s say that it’s a tradtionally published author’s paperback. Let’s say that, for every book sold, the author earns 10% of those sales. Again, this is the asking price as set forth by the publisher. This price covers the costs of the bills for the facilities, the typesetter, the cover artist, the editor, and so on and so forth, including the advance the author received for the publishing contract. Let’s say that, once the advance is covered and paid back, the tradtionally published author receives 10% of all sales. For those of you who suck at math, that’s $.90 per book sold, more if the book costs more. If Amazon is selling the book at a 5% discount, the author has to sell twice as many books just to get that $.90 royalty. To put it this way, instead of earning $179.80 for selling 200 books sold at the normal, list price in one month, the author is earning half of that. In order to that $179.80 before taxes, the author has to sell 400 books at the discounted price on Amazon.

To note here, this is if the author is only selling 200 books a month, has had the advance paid off, and is only selling primarily on Amazon. This is also an example of how a discounted price on a new book undercuts the author only. The publishing company and Amazon are already taking their cuts from the sales of these books. They’re not hurting at all for these discounted prices, and this is only on paperbacks, which is the more popular format for paperbound books.

This doesn’t take into consideration the stress an Amazon employee goes through, running from one end of the warehouses to the other for those customers who opt for next day delivery. Their wages might be better than a Wal-Mart employee’s, but they work their asses off for that money. (And Amazon has come under scrutiny for their near slave-like working conditions as well as praised for their competitiveness in the field. Read this https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/19/technology/amazon-workplace-reactions-comments.html for more on the pros and cons of working for Amazon.)

The indie author, when it comes to paperbacks, does have it better in that regard. As an indie author, through Amazon, I get a higher royalty rate for using CreateSpace. They still take their cut. I might have a list price of $8.99 for a paperback, but I don’t see that full $8.99.

And then there’s the whole ebook situation. Traditonal publishing houses, if you ever look at ebooks, tend to have very high prices on their ebooks. Amazon wil try to make them out to be the devil for it, but, again, let me remind everyone that Amazon gets their cut from every book sale. Depending on how the options are set up by the publishing house, Amazon takes a 30% cut from every ebook sale. That’s what they use to cover their costs for said ebook. If a traditionally published ebook is listed at $7.99, Amazon is making $2.40 from that ebook. Why do they complain it’s overpriced then? Well, the claim they make is it’s for the readers. Ebooks should be cheap and accessible for the customers, and it totally disregards the amount of time and effort that has gone into crafting a book. They get 30% off of every single ebook sold on their site. This includes the indie author. The publishing house is still trying to cover the costs of their bills, i.e., the cover artists, the editors and so on. Again, they’re trying to make their profits to keep themselves in business, and they’re using that 70% to do so. (Of course, I presume at this point that the publishing companies have the same exact options for ebook publishing as the indie authors do, given that that’s what I see when I go into my publishing account on Amazon.) The tradtionally published author only starts to see royalty checks once their advances have been paid off. Now how the traditional publishing houses split that 70% between them and the authors, I don’t know. I do know there was a huge lawsuit over ebook profits seven years ago where the authors sued their publishing houses for back profits because they find out the publishing houses were lying about ebook sales. (And they won this lawsuit so I presume it’s a 50/50 split of that 70% so, in this case, the author is actually receiving a higher royalty rate from the book sale than the paperback.)

The ebook situation is where indie authors actually tend to lose out more. Let’s say that, for an ebook priced at $7.99, the traditionally published author is receiving $2.79 per ebook sold. The indie author, in order to sell, has to price an ebook cheaper. The highest Amazon will allow an indie author to go without some type of pricing warning is $3.99, and they would prefer it if the book was priced less than that. Now here, at the $3.99 price, the indie author is making the same as the traditionally published author whose ebook is priced at $7.99. Still, Amazon would rather those indie authors price their books cheaper. So let’s run with an ebook price of $1.99. Out of that, the indie author receives $1.40. The indie author has to sell twice as many books to try and catch up with the traditionally published author in this respect. All because Amazon says books must be cheap. It matters little if the author in question has spent hours upon hours upon hours of writing, drafting, revising, and editing the story. It matters little if the indie author paid an editor $500 for a job and an artist another $500 for the cover art. The indie author is expected to eat those costs and be paid very minimal for time worked.

To put it this way, expecting any author to work for less pay is like expecting a union worker in an auto factory to have their pay cut from $20 an hour (or whatever a union auto worker makes an hour) to the wages of a server, which is $2.13 an hour. If you wouldn’t expect to be paid less for the work you’re doing, why do you expect an author to do the same?

We’re at this point in the digital age where just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s a great deal. Somebody somewhere is losing out and still struggling to make ends meet, and we do need to be responsible, not just financially for ourselves but economically overall. My time in Washington taught me that. Washington has one of the highest minimum wages in the U.S. They’ve seen job creation, but they still have an influx of people heading there to find those jobs that are paying better than places like Oklahoma or Michigan. They have more people than they do jobs. And, as long as indie authors are being told they have to sell their books, their projects, their hard-earned efforts for less than minimum wage, we’re going to see a die-off of newly published works or perhaps authors who can only publish every so often because of the other demands made on their time. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to the readers as to whether or not authors can continue with their chosen careers.

Now, if you’re a reader and you want to tell me how your own pocketbook is more important because you need to save money for all of this, hey, believe it or not, I do get it. I’m one of those people who, if you gave me $500 to go spend in a bookstore, I’d take it and get every book I possibly could, but I don’t have that kind of money so I buy books when I’ve planned and plotted that money out. Like I said at the beginning of this entry, I work two jobs already. I’m still struggling to get my next publication finished. But also understand this: telling me that my time and effort has to be reduced to less than minimum wage is severely detrimental. It forces me to spend my time doing other things when I’d rather be sitting down and writing my books. This is true for any and every author out there.

You cannot have cheap and still have dedicated authors out there. Not in this digital age. In the end, everyone will be hobbyist writers, and you won’t have much material to buy when you do have the money. In the end, we’ll simply be too busy trying to survive working two jobs or more just to pay our bills.

I know that sounds harsh, but it’s a realty many authors, tradtionally published and indie, are facing right now. You, the reader, have the power to make or break any author’s career. Use that power wisely.