Saturday, October 25, 2014

My Sexy Saturday -- Happy Halloween!

This week's My Sexy Saturday blog hop postings are supposed to revolve around Halloween. Excerpts are supposed to come from spooky, scary, frightening, or chilling adventures where your hero/heroine meet and get into a lot of hot water or they're being chased by brain-eating zombies, etc. For those of us who tend to write more romantic-comedy than horror fiction, this can be somewhat of a challenge!

Here are seven paragraphs from my romantic-comedy Leaving Who... A scene where things get a bit on the scary side for Cici Connors when she sees her friends John Smith, Captain Mac and Babbling Brook as they really are and not as she normally perceives them.


Leaving Who
from Mojocastle Press

After touring the universe with the sometimes inept time traveler John Smith, Cici Connors wants one more thing—to go home. Will the imminent destruction of Earth throw a kink into her plans? 

“She looks different than when she first came through the door, you mean,” I repeated. “Please tell me she is one of your lot.” Before the words had left my lips the figure in front of me blurred and reformed into the image of tattered dress-wearing Idris, better known as the Doctor’s wife. “She’s… she’s done it again!”
Captain Mac sat beside me and put an arm around my shoulders. “Don’t fight it, Cici. Your mind is trying to find the best way to represent what she is. She’s a tough one to get a handle on—even for us.”
“You mean you see her as a multitude of personas, too?”
“I mean I see her like I’ve always seen her—like how I see John and myself. We’re not human so we don’t have to visualize each other as humans would.”
“You’re saying you don’t even remotely resemble the way I’ve imagined you?”
I looked at Mac’s hand resting on my arm. Suddenly the hand lost its five fingers as they melted together and began to curl upwards, rapidly changing from a human flesh tone into a bright mauve color. The arm became a tentacle and flowed into a solid blob instead of a torso. I willed myself to look into his face and then at the faces of John and our female guest…morphing and blurring into a pinkish, purplish, grayish mass of endless eyes and tentacle-like appendages and fangs dripping saliva and…
I passed out for the second time in as many days.

Leaving Who and Loving Who are available in e-formats and print from Mojocastle Press, Amazon and wherever fine ebooks are sold online. (Coming soon: Losing Who--is it the end for Cici and John Smith, or has Cici just lost her mind once too often?)

Enjoy the rest of the My Sexy Saturday excerpts!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Inequality--Blog Action Day 2014

http://www.blogactionday.org
From time to time I go off the rails. I mean, I get serious and stop posting fun snippets from my books or talking about attending sci-fi cons and actually write an opinion piece. This is one of those times. You can leave now if you wish. You've been warned.



 


If you're still reading, welcome to Blog Action Day 2014. This year's topic is inequality. Bloggers around the world are posting pieces about inequality today. The above Facebook meme really speaks to me about inequality because it directly affects me as a woman. Just because I was born with two X chromosomes this somehow it means I need my life choices regulated by a bunch of old farts in the statehouse or Washington, D.C. That thought really raises my blood pressure.

What is it with these men (mostly men--I realize there are some "good ol' gals" among these politicians who toe the party line) that they feel women are incapable of making decisions about their own bodies? Are we an inferior species? If that's the case, then why did the Creator give us the ability to bear children and nurse them? Seems to me women are far from inferior creatures! It could even be argued women are both physically and psychologically superior to men since God thinks we're the gender with the best attributes to carry and nurture babies. But apparently women are mentally and morally deficient--and the government has to step in and tell us how to think and act for our own good.

Could these myriad of U.S. regulations aimed at controling women's bodies be an attempt to keep us in our place? Think about it. If women are free to do as they like, we might do things that men (especially old farts) don't like. We might decide that they don't want to stay at home in the kitchen all day long, barefoot and pregnant. Women might use their minds to study and hone their skills and have--gasp!--actual careers! Women might even aspire to position of powers over men... The horror!

Insecure males can't have females competing against them for jobs and positions. It's just not done! Here's a telling quote from an article about a recent remark made by Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella saying that it’s “good karma” for women not to ask for a pay raise, but to “trust the system” to eventually reward them


Nadella’s words have struck a sensitive chord with the public, as the discrepancy in salaries women and men get is notable. US women received 78 percent of what equally qualified men received in 2013, according to research by the American Association of University Women, cited by Reuters.(Full article at http://rt.com/news/194740-karma-women-microsoft-criticism/   Another good article about women and how they are perceived in the workplace: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/28/opinion/sunday/learning-to-love-criticism.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1 )

Women throughout history have been forced into second class citizen roles to keep us in our place. Less pay, less chance for advancement, less reward for our hard work... What better way to shut women up permanently and keep us at odds with each other than to attack us at our most vulnerable spot--the very control of our bodies?

We've all heard the old adages "good girls don't" but that "boys will be boys." By legislating a double standard we impose a twenty-first century equivalent of slavery on the female gender. If forcing women into sexual and economic slavery doesn't count as inequality, what does?

We're unequal before the law. A woman can't even make an intimate decision about her reproductive health with her doctor without some buttinski politician forcing his opinion into the mix. The decisions women are forced to make are sometimes terrible, agreed, but I do believe no woman takes these types of decisions lightly or believes she has a better option at the time. Let's trust that women who need to make these decisions aren't moral or mental defectives. Let's trust them to make their own decisions about their bodies and health. Let's leave them in peace and give them the privacy to do so.

By making access to birth control more difficult through legislation which actively prevents medical coverage for it, the double standard shines brighter than ever. Viagra is covered under many health insurance plans, but the Pill isn't? Why would any sane person in the year 2014 think that making birth control methods harder to obtain is going to stop women from have sex? After all, a male can forcefully use a female's body for his own sick pleasure, but she is stuck with the damning labels of "adulteress" and "murderer" if she chooses to terminate the pregnancy his vile actions caused? Why are the victim's rights and mental/emotional/physical health not as important as her rapist's?

I think Jesus said it best: Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Inequality is sin. Women are God's creation, too. God made us capable of making our own decisions. Old farts--leave our bodies and our decisions alone!





Look for these hashtags to find more Blog Action Day posts on the topic of inequality: #BAD2014, #Inequality, #BlogAction, #OCT16, and #BlogAction14

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Off to the cons!

We're off to a couple of sci-fi cons this month--Archon 38 and ConClave 38. What better way to celebrate this wonderful fact than by posting some flash fiction I wrote at the last con we attended, the NASFic DetCon1?

(Okay, there's probably a better way to celebrate, but this is a family friendly blog!) 

Now for the wonderful flash fiction, written under duress in five minutes on a Sunday morning at DetCon1...




Writing prompts: Two old friends, a mistake, an airlock



“No, you did not just do that!”


Bob scowled at his dear old friend Bill. Yeah, Bill was getting forgetful, but he hadn’t slipped into Alzheimer’s quite yet.


“I did. He deserved it, Bob. You heard what he said about the Sixth Doctor. That man deserved to die.”


“But Bill—come on! It was just a flippant remark about a centuries’ old sci-fi TV show... It wasn’t worth it.”


“Yes, it was!" Bill stood proudly. “The entire Doctor Who fandom was at stake. It had to be done.”


“Oh, all right.” Bob sighed. “What do we tell the captain then?”


“We just say Rick stepped out for a breath of fresh air.”


“Fresh air?” Bob smacked his forehead. “Through an airlock? On a space station in geosynchronous orbit around Earth?” He thought for a moment. “Well, all right.”



I'll be posting news about a couple of book contracts I recently lined-up very soon!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

My Sexy Saturday Post from a W.I.P.

 
Deep in an English wood...


What's a W.I.P. you ask? Simply it's a "work in progress" and this time around I've decided to post seven sexy paragraphs from our current work in progress entitled Driving in England. I say "our" because this is story was written by me and my husband, the talented A.J. Matthews. Right now, it's tentatively scheduled for a January 2015 release from Devine Destinies, so if you like this excerpt more be coming soon! In the meantime, be sure to check out my other mainstream romantic fiction at www.cynthianna.com


A brief synopsis: Susannah, a woman of a certain age, travels to England on behalf of her boss, a rich oil tycoon, to do a little snooping into his family tree. What she doesn't count on is butting heads and then falling for the handsome genealogist Duncan Balfour. 

Excerpt set-up: Who says older lovers can't have as much fun as younger ones, especially when it's a warm day and an empty forest meadow beckons? ;)


Oh, my!” Susannah shot him a glance that covered his body from face to bulging pants. Her face looked pink. “We’re like a couple of teenagers.”

Duncan thought of something. “Let’s get past Norwich. Thetford’s not too far down the road.” 


“What’s in Thetford?”


“It’s not what’s in Thetford, it’s what’s around it.” When she looked blank he smiled. “Thetford Forest. There are a number of trails running through it. We can find one and be... private for a few minutes.”


She chuckled. “You wanna do it outside? Hmm, Duncan, what a naughty boy you are!” 


“But you like the idea?”


She nodded. “Oh, I like.”



Enjoy the rest of your Sexy Saturday blog hop!
http://mysexysaturday.blogspot.com




Saturday, September 13, 2014

Beware of Book Mills!



I love my current publishers!


Writers, beware of book mills!



Things are going along fairly smoothly in life when suddenly a mistake you thought you’d corrected years ago rears its ugly head. No, I don’t mean my ex (ugly as he is!) showed up on my doorstep. That I could easily handle by kicking his butt to the curb. This mistake has to do with one of lowest of pond-scum-feeding con artists who exist in the publishing world—the book mill.



For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, here’s a quick definition. A book mill simply churns out book after book after book with little or no editing or consideration of the material. Any and all topics and genres and writing abilities are fair game because no one at the book mill actually reads the manuscripts submitted. All the book mill wants is for wannabe authors to buy tons of copies of their own books so the book mill can make a tidy profit with little effort. They may promise “promotion opportunities for only $99!” but the author receives little or no sales boost from handing over money to the book mill, and, of course, it’s a non-refundable fee. In fact, the book mill routinely bombards its authors with meaningless communications promising to put their titles in front of famous talk show hosts and radio stars, along with entering the books into prestigious book expos—all for a fee, of course. It’s not hard to see that a running book mill is a great way to scam a lot of money off of anxious writers who have no knowledge of how the publishing world works.




I didn’t realize at the time (well over a decade ago) that I was dealing with a book mill, but it gradually became obvious. I had sold the electronic rights to my novel to an ebook-only press, but I had been asked to sign print books at a book-signing. This is way before the Kindle debuted, so not many people were interested in having an e-book author at a book-signing event. Where would I get print copies to sign? An online acquaintance recommended this book mill, and from his comments I thought they sounded legitimate. The book mill agreed to the print rights only to my novel since I informed them I had sold the e-rights earlier. Win-win, right?



The book mill did a quick spell check for “editing” and then told me my novel was now available for purchase. I bought some copies for the signing, but I was very disappointed when they arrived in the mail. The print books were extremely expensive for the quality of the product. A stock image photo slapped onto a rather sorry solid color with the book’s title printed above in a standard font was the “cover art.” (Even I could have done that well over a decade ago!) But at least I had a book in hand to sign at the event. I was hopeful it would eventually sell well in both print and electronic formats.



Flash forward a few years: With practically zero print sales (none I couldn’t account for personally), I requested my book’s print rights back from the book mill and asked them to pull my title from their web site. Years passed and I never heard a peep from this company. I heard nothing about them on the grapevine either. I figured the book mill must have gone out of business. I felt very relieved to have escaped their clutches.



My novel’s e-rights eventually expired with its first electronic publisher. I revised and re-sold the novel to a publisher of both print and ebooks with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with for some time now. With fresh edits and a snazzy new cover, I was happy that my “baby” had found a good home. Everything seemed to have come together for this well-reviewed book with its mixed-up publishing past. 
 


Flash forward to a few weeks ago: An email arrives in my inbox from an unknown company saying they’re publishing my novel and that I can pay them money to promote it. What the…? Who are they and why did they pirate my book? I immediately contacted my publisher and then wrote back to this unknown company asking them to take my book down from their site. Immediately the abuse began. I eventually learned that this new company was in fact the same old book mill I had dealt with more than a decade ago operating under a new name. They claimed I had “infringed upon my copyright.”



Say what? Along with other legal-sounding mumbo-jumbo the email stated they’d “return my copyright” for a mere $99. Imagine that! Thing is, if I didn’t pay them right away they claimed they’d take me to court and sue me for the "infringing on the copyright" to my own work. Wow! (I dug out the old contract. There’s not a word about having to pay them any fees whatsoever in their contract or that they would file for a copyright on the work.)



Weirder yet, I had filed for the copyright for my novel with the US Copyright Office many years ago. It’s my book and I registered the copyright, so what nonsense is this? My current publisher said to stop communicating with this company directly, as they’re obviously trying to frighten me into paying them money to shut up. She wisely asked for the book mill’s legal counsel contact information so the two “publishers” could discuss the matter. The book mill seemed to ignore this request.




Weeks later, another email arrives in my inbox stating that I need to buy my copyright back from the book mill since my book hasn’t sold any copies in over a year. Well, of course it hasn’t sold any copies! I told the company many years ago to take it down from their site, and I’d requested my print rights back. Since the “new company” is actually the “old book mill” surely they have this information at hand and could see it was all a mistake, right? I was advised by my publisher to send them a short and simple email to the book mill reminding them to contact my novel’s current publisher as requested earlier, just in case the first email had been missed.



Then all hell broke loose.



The most unprofessional and nasty emails followed. There’s simply no other way to describe the horrid tone of these communications. Personal attacks? Plenty! I must be an axe murderer in my sleep. What an odd sideline for a romance author!



The book mill also sent these insulting emails to my publisher as well, since I had provided contact information. We can only assume they did this for maximum fright tactic/belittling effect. Apart from calling my current publisher every name in the book (how professional!) they continue to insist I’ll be in a world of financial hurt if I don’t pay them. I’m beginning to wonder if they haven’t taken lessons from either Tony Soprano or the Godfather. Needless to say, my current publisher and the company lawyer will be conversing directly with the book mill from now on.



You know what? Even if I win the lottery tomorrow, there’s no way I’ll ever pay these people. Who gives in to a bully? Why would anyone pay a bully for the rights to his/her own work? With further research, we’ve discovered that this book mill has been sued before for employing similar tactics with their authors.



A Better Business Bureau web site says the book mill in question publicly stated that their contracts don’t last more than ten years. My original contract would have ended a few years back then. This might explain why I’d never heard from the old book mill with the new name until recently.



It doesn’t appear they were bought out or sold. It’s simply the same book mill operating under a new name. Why on earth should a business change their name in midstream unless they’ve got something to hide? This is an ongoing nightmare, so I’ll fill you in on any news as it comes available.



The moral of the story is this: Writers beware of book mills! They are not your friends, especially if they constantly request money for so-called services. And never ever forget the old adage: “The money flows from the publisher to the author—not the other way around.” A legitimate publisher takes you on as an author because they truly believe in your book (like my novel's current publisher). You deserve nothing less!





Editor’s note: My husband and I will be leading a panel called “What makes a good publisher?” at ConClave 38, October 10-12, in Dearborn, Michigan. Hope to see you there!