Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mea Culpa for my April 24th essay

When I'm wrong, I'm wrong.

In this case, I was partly wrong. I offer my apologies to one and all for some of the misinformation I inadvertently included in my previous note about the RT Convention. I was under the impression that all e-published authors were being excluded from the Giant Book Fair at the RT Convention this year.

Certainly, the self-published authors are being excluded. Where I was wrong was in the details.

Apparently if individual e-publishers were willing to absorb a deep discount on books and handle the shipping costs involved in sending these books to the convention, then their authors could indeed sign at the Saturday Giant Book Fair. Some publishers chose not to do this, and so those authors are unable to attend.

The RT Convention remains an excellent venue for authors as a place to meet and greet their readers.

If you are an e-pubbed author and were thinking of attending RT next year, you should still consider doing so. The readers who attend each year are avid in the pursuit of their one “guilty pleasure” – reading. And because they travel from city to city, using the event as their annual vacation, they are loyal. RT is still a good place to be, if you write, or read, books.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April 24, 2013

It’s that time of year again – when we head off to the Romantic Times Booklovers’ Convention—aka “RT”. This has been my favorite event for several years, because it allows me, as an author, to get close to my readers.

Once more I am honored to be entrusted by my publisher to represent them at their table in the hospitality suite, that rocking room called Club RT. And like last year, I will not be alone—my dear friends and sister Siren authors Heather Rainier and Peyton Elizabeth will be with me as they were in Chicago in 2012; and we have one more colleague joining us: Corinne Davies, who is not only a Siren author, but a fellow Canadian as well.

I cannot help but reflect back over my years attending this convention, because it has played such a pivotal role in the development of my career. I will never forget that it was at RT in 2006, in Daytona Beach, that I “pitched” what became my first published novel – Made For Each Other – to the publisher of Siren-Bookstrand.

Now, seven years later, I have a backlist of 31 books; my career is thriving; and I am living my one and only dream—to be a published author who writes books that people read.

So thank you, RT Magazine, for the part you have played in making my dream come true.

You know that old saying; all good things must come to an end? This could very well be my last RT Convention. That is not something I imagined I would ever say. But the truth of the matter is, attending future conventions may just simply not make good business sense.

This convention has, in the last few years, featured 2 “book fairs” – opportunities for readers to meet their favorite authors and get autographs, and purchase books. The first, the “Book Expo” has primarily been for the e-book format, and in the last couple of years, graphic novels. It is held mid-week for 2 hours, usually from 4 pm to 6 pm. It draws the readers who are attending the convention and maybe a few more avid readers, besides. Then, the major event, the Giant Book Fair, takes place on Saturday, with the emphasis on printed books. This book fair is always popular with the thousands of readers who attend.

Many if not most of us who are “e-published” also have our books available in print, and they can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, and a few other book sellers. Of course, the books are print-on-demand, which means they cannot be “returned”.

This has never been an issue, as those of us who wished to attend the Giant Book Fair, had no qualms about “guaranteeing” our sales. For myself that meant, ordering a specific number of books from the bookseller and agreeing to purchase whatever didn’t sell, so that the bookseller would not be left with books that he’d paid for and not recouped his investment on.

Here is where I tell you that the true value of any book fair, but especially the Giant Book Fair on Saturday, is not in the books you sell there; it is in being seen. It is in having your name read by passers-by. It is in the promotion that takes place beforehand.

And this year, for the first time ever, those of us who are primarily e-published, and any who are self-published, are not being permitted to attend this Giant Book Fair.

We’ve paid the same amount of money to register for this convention as every other author, and we are not being permitted to attend the marquis event.

We are excluded from it, absolutely!

I have heard from many of my fellow e-published authors who’ve promoted this event to their readers only to find out after the fact that this new policy is in place (it was not mentioned during the registration process). Many of those authors will not attend another RT Convention.

One of those authors has arranged for a separate book fair to be held after the RT event on Saturday is closed; and she has also arranged for a free shuttle bus for readers to go from the Conference hotel to the Marriott (and return) where this second event is being held. Admittance to this book fair is free.

That author’s name is Kalypso Masters. I am pleased to report that I will be at that book signing in support of my fellow e-published and the self-published authors, on Saturday, May 4th. The event is called Romancing The Plaza and you can read about it on FaceBook here:!/events/367249456727252/?fref=ts

If you are in the area, please stop by. If you know people who live in Kansas City, please tell them about this free event. There are fabulous door prizes available, and you will be helping good people who have been, in my opinion, unjustly discriminated against.

Technology never goes backward; e-books are here to stay. I’m not only disappointed that such exclusion is being practiced; I am shocked that an organization I’d always considered to be business-savvy would act in such a short sighted manner.

How many magazine subscriptions did this move of theirs forfeit? Who can tell? One thing about my readers, and the readers of other authors I know. They’re loyal. And they are not afraid to speak with their pocketbooks.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April 17, 2013

For the second time in just a few short months, we’ve been drawn to our televisions by a tragedy too horrific to even fully grasp. Once more, we learn of the loss of a child, one who was only 8. And as I write this on Tuesday evening, a second fatality of the bombings in Boston has been identified, a young woman who was a child to her mother.

I’m an author and pretty good, really, at putting words together. I have thousands of readers now, which I mention here only to underscore my first statement. I’m pretty good at putting words together. And yet I don’t know if I can adequately convey to you what it is to lose a child.

For those of us who are mothers, we who carried our babies under our hearts for nine months, our baby remains our baby, in a very real if emotional sense, always.

It’s tragic when the victims of these senseless acts of violence are children, not yet even teens. But every life is precious, and every person lost was at one time a newborn babe held in his or her mother’s arms.

And every death, every life ended by violence of any kind, is the loss of someone’s baby.

It’s the hardest thing in the world to endure, the loss of a child. It’s unnatural. We’re not supposed to bury or children. And yet, some of us do.

When your child has died you miss him or her every day for the rest of your life. The raw and bleeding wound of loss does scar over, eventually. You can remember the good times without shattering into a million pieces, eventually.

But at first the grief and the pain are so immense you don’t know how you can manage to live through them. And yet you do live through them. The initial shock of having that knock at the door, of hearing that news, is very much like being stabbed in the heart. It is a sharp, jagged tear to your flesh, a burning, raging fire in your soul.

Almost immediately, there are details to be seen to, and ritual to be observed. Numbness descends and you find yourself going through the motions, taking that next step, doing that next thing. You have a list, and a schedule, and you don’t think, you just…do.

Sometimes those first few days and those rituals are like escaping into a bubble, where as long as you have something to do, the agony, and the reality, are held at bay. You can’t fall apart; you have to take care of your child.

It is the last thing you will ever be able to do for him or her.

Then of course comes that awful moment, when the ritual is over and you are left alone with your loss. You fall apart then, because you know that it’s over: the nine months of gestation, the pain and joy of delivery; the birthday cakes, and the report cards and the Christmas mornings.

They are gone, forever.

If you’re a person of faith then you do take comfort in the knowledge that death is not the end; you’ll see your child again, in God’s presence. And in time, the pain dulls, so that you can remember the good times and the bad, and fall apart less often. You can remember, and you can smile.

But the hole that is in your heart is never filled, and that sense that something is missing in your life is constant. And when you watch your television and hear of the loss of someone else’s baby, you ache for them.

Because you know, and in a sense that defies logic, for a space of time, you are them.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April 10, 2013

Life with a new puppy is really a lot like life with a new baby. I’m not altogether certain I was completely aware of that fact before we got the puppy. Having said that, however, I can tell you that I’m really pleased with how it’s all working out so far.

Tuffy—named by my husband, and short for “tough guy”—really is a bit of a tough guy, lately. He’s become very protective of his family. If there is a sound he doesn’t recognize, or if he is startled, he sets to growling, and sometimes even barking. Not only that, he gets all puffed up (his fur actually stands on end) and he places himself between us and whatever monsters may be about to break down the door.

This little, not quite three-pound creature of mostly fluffy fur truly has the heart of a lion.

He’s also very adaptable, and he likes his routine. This is a blessing for me, because the one thing I was worried about was that being home with the little guy every day while my beloved headed off to work would infringe on my writing time.

So far, that’s not happening. Yes, I know. I crossed my fingers and knocked on wood as I wrote that.

Tuffy gets up for the first time at 4:15 a.m. when the alarm goes off. He is happily scooped from his play pen on wheels that is in our bedroom over night—no mere ‘crate’ for this little guy—and he lays on the sofa with my husband until 4:45 a.m. Then it’s time for breakfast and a bit of a play while his daddy gets ready for work. Sometimes, if my daughter doesn’t have any clients first thing in the morning after dropping off her dad, she’ll bring one or more of her puppies with her when she comes to pick him up. So that gives the tough guy a few minutes of romping play with one or two of his buddies, as well.

While all this is happening, I am completely oblivious, because I am still in bed, asleep. Then when my beloved leaves for work, he puts Tuffy back into his playpen. The little guy settles right down and goes back to sleep. Rarely does he wake me before I get up, which is around 8:15.

We greet the day together in lazy fashion, play, and generally wake up. But that’s fine, because after two hours, tops, he’s dropping off to sleep again. I move his play pen out of the bedroom, into the living room, and he settles down, in his safe place, with his chew bars and squeaky toys and his little house. He sleeps on that house as often as he sleeps in it.

I made it clear to my beloved, when we got this new family member, that I would be happy to baby sit for him while he was at work. Yes, I stressed those two words, baby sit. Because we had been in agreement for the last several years that once our old puppy left us, there would be no more dogs as we’ve had somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 in our lives together.

In truth, it was David who was the most adamant about this, and I, over time, matched his intensity of dedication to this dictum.

However, neither of us had taken into consideration how much he had invested, emotionally, in that old dog. Nor were either of us prepared for the loneliness that he would experience once his beloved Rochie dog passed on.

So it really didn’t take much arm twisting for my daughter to “talk me into” getting this puppy for her father. On the weekends, the two are inseparable. I refer to them as “Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy”. I love the puppy too, of course. But mostly, he’s his daddy’s dog.

My brother was quite surprised and not at all pleased when he found out about the new addition to the family. Pets have never been particularly important to him. He said, “Well, hell, I thought you were going to be done with animals. Now look what you’ve done! You’re stuck with a puppy!”

I just shrugged. And I told him the truth.

My husband is happy, really happy with his new best friend. In light of that reality, nothing else really matters.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April 3, 2013

Have you ever heard something, in the course of a day, that strikes you as so profound that it seems as if the world pauses just so you can take it in?

I had such an experience yesterday, and I have to tell you, my mind is still trying to process that moment. I was with my “second daughter”, who is a nurse. But not just a nurse, she is a psychiatric nurse, and she works at a large, inner city hospital in the lock-down psychiatric unit.

We were discussing someone we’d come to visit on another unit of that hospital, someone who’d been a patient there for a few weeks, and who’d been admitted with some sort of an infection. Sometimes, medicine is an inexact science. The doctors have been unable to determine the source of the infection, but have been treating it, more or less, with a general course of antibiotics.

At one point this person was unable to communicate, or to even sit up. Then, as the infection began to clear, speech returned, but it aphasic speech at first. Nothing she said the last time I visited her last week made any sense at all.

We went to visit her yesterday, my second daughter and I, only to discover that this person was in the process of going home—against medical advice. We added our voices to the voices of the staff, urging her to remain in hospital. We tried to convince her husband that her going home was not the best course of action, even if it was what she wanted to do. But reason no longer seems to have sway with this woman. In fact, I do believe that reason has fled her for good.

Her husband only wanted to do what she asked of him, and would not consider that it wasn’t for the best.

As we were leaving, I lamented that something could not be done, because quite frankly, without further treatment, this person will not get well. Then my second daughter said, “I know you’re upset, and I understand. But she’s not a danger to herself or anyone else, and she has the right to be crazy.”

She wasn’t using that word lightly for it has become clear over the last several months—and I am probably the last person aside from her husband to see this—that this person really isn’t quite sane anymore.

You know, I never before considered the possibility that one could have the right to be crazy.

For me, life has always been what I would characterize as a challenge to be faced. It’s something to be lived, certainly, but lived judiciously, and even strategically. Sort of like an obstacle course where you must meet and surmount challenges before going on to the next level—or the next thing.

I’ve only ever considered that life is damn hard work, with some rewards and nice surprises along the way—but only some, and that my perception is yes, right for me, but basically recognized as valid by everyone.

And all along, instead or maybe as well, one has had the right to be crazy.

There’s no question in my mind that my second daughter is right, of course. I wouldn’t force my religious or political views on another person; I would never dream of telling someone what sort of music they should like, or movies they should watch or books they should read.

If someone is living in an alternate reality, responding to ideas that are only in their own minds, believing things that are not as I know them to be, who am I to judge them? Who am I to insist they must conform to my standards over theirs? If they are no danger to themselves or someone else, then they do indeed have the right to be crazy.

I’ve known for some time that this person—the one that we visited in hospital—truly only felt secure and happy in her home. It doesn’t matter, does it, what ‘home’ is? In this case it’s a very small apartment in a large building. She’s lived there for probably more than 20 years.

It’s her place, and where she needed to be, so of course as soon as she was well enough to communicate this desire, she told her husband she wanted to go home.

Yes, she needed to stay in hospital and be treated—in my point of view.

But as much as I demand to be granted the right to live my life on my own terms, when it comes to those I care about, I have to give way and allow them to live their life on their own terms. It’s not easy, but I shouldn’t be surprised at that.

As I’ve often said, and as I’ve always believed, life isn’t easy. Nor is it supposed to be.