Archive for the ‘Rant Alert’ Category

The Enjoyment Ratio: T-Shirts vs. Books

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

Forget the stupid coffee. Now it’s Books versus T-Shirts!

15.00 for a t-shirt (Because I am NOT paying $25.00 for a t-shirt–I wait for a Woot-off.)

Wear it once a week for 1 year (assuming 12 hours of wear-time per day) = 624 hours of enjoyment!

My T-shirt costs me $0.02 per hour of enjoyment. Admittedly, some T-shirts last a LOT longer than a year. I still have and wear T-shirts I bought when I was in college.

I can read a 100,000 word novel in 8 hours, more or less, assuming I am captivated enough to finish it.

Let’s compare that to T-shirt enjoyment at $0.02 per hour

The comparable Book price should be …..


You’re welcome.



Author Fascism

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

[Comments temporarily closed for this post.]

I didn’t pay much attention when Ann Rice went off on a high profile rant about anonymous reviewers. That’s been done, and I’m kind of tired of it.

But Rice gets big press and the petition she signed suddenly became high profile.

The gist of it is this: Authors get hurt by people who post reviews that are mean, personal, not about the book, threatening, and/or vile.

The solution requested by the signatories is that Amazon require reviewers to post under their real names. And now there are authors who are continuing the campaign.

Part of me wants to go off on a rant about this, and maybe that will be another post. But actually, this is a serious matter.

I am appalled that authors would suggest this is an appropriate solution.

Here’s the Rant after all

We cannot carve out spaces that look like this:

Novel writing space: Write whatever you want, however distasteful to some sensibilities. Pen names OK! Registration of copyright under a corporation OK!

Review writing space: [Rules defined by authors.] Must review under your real name.

Let’s try an experiment.

Jane Doe has a full time job teaching 4th grade. She also writes erotic novels in her spare time. She writes under a pen name because she feels it’s important for her day job and her writing to stay separate. She might lose her job, otherwise. Her students might Google her, find out what she writes, see covers inappropriate for their age, and perhaps even find an excerpt, and that would not be good. At all. For any reason.

Jane Doe has a full time job teaching 4th grade. She also reads and reviews erotic novels in her spare time. She posts her reviews under a pen name because she feels it’s important for her day job and her writing to stay separate. She might lose her job, otherwise. Her students might Google her, find out what she reads, see covers inappropriate for their age, and perhaps even find an excerpt, and that would not be good. At all. For any reason.

Explain to me why Jane Doe author can be anonymous but not Jane Doe reviewer?

Anonymous speech makes it easy for an asshole to be an asshole.

Anonymous speech makes it possible for people to speak out against moral wrongs.

Anonymous speech exposed criminal wrong-doing by a sitting President of the United States of America.

To argue that we should do away with anonymous speech is to argue that it’s better for wrongdoers to get a pass than it is to allow speech that some may find offensive.

If reviews must be accompanied by a real name, then there are reviewers who will no longer be able to post reviews for reasons that have nothing to do with mean, hateful, or threatening content in a review.

Perhaps the reviewer has a sensitive job but enjoys reading and reviewing sexually explicit books.

Perhaps the reviewer has a violent ex and is attempting to establish an online presence that her ex does not know about.

Perhaps the reviewer used to read and review Dino-Porn but now feels that she must leave Dino Porn behind because she has undergone a moral change and wishes to live a life free of Dino-Porn.

Perhaps the reviewer’s home address, phone number, and names of her children were posted to a website by an author.

Perhaps the reviewer has been threatened by an author.

That Solution is Not the Problem You Were Looking for

Every one of these arguments has a corresponding flip side.

Taking away anonymity of reviews would have far more devastating consequences than seeking a solution that deals with reviews that are out of bounds — supposing we can or should arrive at such a definition. I don’t believe we should, by the way.

It’s far harder to seek a targeted solution that deals with the actual problem– assuming there is such a problem– than it is to seek a solution that affects 100 percent of reviewers.

If you go around proposing jackbooted solutions to speech you don’t like, you run the risk of some wag inventing the phrase Author Fascism.


On Talent and Artistry

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Eventually, every author hears a request like this:

I have a great idea for a book. If you write it, I’ll split the money with you.

Authors roll their eyes at that sort of thing because we know writing a book is hard work. In fact, the actual writing is way harder than the idea. Ideas (at least in my experience) often come when I’m doing something else not writing-related. Heck, that’s so easy it wasn’t even work! For me.

Now, to the person who has never written a book, I can see how, superficially, it might seem easy. But that’s because that person has no idea. How could she/he? Well, actually, there are lots of people who may not know how much work it is, but they can guess. Because if you’re at all thoughtful or attentive, it makes sense that it wouldn’t be all that easy.


When I overheard an author say that she had a good idea of the graphic work she needed done, so it should be easy for a graphic artist to carry out, I said to myself, Dude. Are you crazy?

That’s insulting to people with graphics talent, and a writer should know better.


Kerfluffle!!! In Publishing

Monday, January 20th, 2014

So this author posted about how much money she made with her debut traditionally published novel. (TL;DR: Not very much) Rumor is her publisher immediately asked her to remove the post, which she did.

Then Courtney Milan posted about how (in Romance) the performance of books with non-white protagonists is blamed on the non-white protagonists when, in fact, books with white protagonists have had the same poor performance. She provided print numbers and pointed out some facts about the apparent value of a print deal.

Also, Steven Zacharius of Kensington Books wrote an article for HuffPo where he trotted out a lot of misinformation and bad statistics about self-publishing. He also appeared in the comments at a noted site-scraper and defended his position. Kudos to him for mostly keeping a cool head in a highly charged environment. He also appeared at Joe Konrath’s blog and did much the same.

::hand waving and babbling!!!!:::

Traditional Publishers LOVE to trot out bad studies and then make the wrong conclusion from them. A recent poll (by either Writer’s Digest or the ALA, I can’t remember which, though they both suffer from the same issue…) concluded that most self-publishers make less than $500.

::more hand waving and babbling!!!! Authors should be not leaving us!!!!!:::

Well, one of those studies included authors who have yet to self-publish anything.

Edited to add: Annnddddd, here’s a link.

Digital Book World interviewed almost 10,000 traditionally published authors,self-published authors, authors who are both traditionally published and self-published, along with aspiring authors. (Emphasis added.)

Carolyn’s projection: Writing income for an author who has nothing on sale: $0

Edited to add: WHY the hell would you include aspiring authors in a “study” on author income?

Neither study managed to reach a single Romance author. Everyone on the major email lists for self-publishing Romance authors had this reaction: What study was that?

Zacharius asks, among other things:

1. If self-publishing is so great, why aren’t the big authors leaving?

Answer: Where they can, they are. (Stephanie Laurens, Theresa Maderios, Lara Adrian to name just three.) Besides, a lot of authors, big and little, are constrained by the terms of the contracts they signed. Some of them can’t leave. Yet.

Carolyn’s thought bubble: That YET should scare the pants off NY.

2. What do self-publishers have to do to promote themselves? (With the usual implication that a traditional publisher will do MORE and BETTER!)

Answer: EXACTLY the same thing we have to do when we traditionally publish, which is just about ALL the promotion. Furthermore I was present at a Kensington RWA panel where the Kensington employees actually said they don’t so the same promotion for everyone. Already best-selling authors get MORE promotion.

God, this is just so tiring. Publishers continue to conflate print distribution and reader reach with income. As an author, naturally I want readers to find me. But as a self-published author I make more money on fewer sales.

I give up.

If they want to hold tight to bad math, bad statistics, and this belief that what they do for best-selling authors applies to ALL their authors, they can go right ahead.

And lots and lots of Romance authors will continue to self-publish and make a hell of a lot more than $500.

Carolyn’s Thought Bubble: Watch the hell out if offset printing becomes cost-effective for self-publishers.

Edited to add:What’s the old saying? If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

Traditional publishing is busy baffling us with bullshit.

Jan/21/13 Edited to add: The lastest DBW nonsense is this $295 report “What advantages do Traditional Publishers Offer Authors” which was described thusly in my daily “get carolyn enraged email” :

The author community is abuzz with news of self-published authors who are making very good money by going indie. With the stigma diminishing, this alternative mode of publishing has become increasingly attractive to both new and seasoned authors. However, the 2013 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey found that despite the excitement about self-publishing and complaints about traditional publishing, authors held a strong preference to publish with traditional publishers.This report seeks to understand why.

What advantages do traditional publishers offer authors? The 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest author survey was designed specifically to compare the perceptions, experiences, and economic returns to authors associated with traditional publishing and self-publishing respectively. In this report, we take a close look at the case to be made to the author community in favor of traditional publishing as well as the areas where traditional publishers might enhance what they offer their current and prospective authors.

When I saw that today, I tweeted this: Because they don’t know any better. #MotherofAllSubtweets


Sears and the $75 Million Refrigerator

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

How Sears Could Save Millions with website Useability

Three months ago, my dad replaced two junky old fridges in the garage and bought a brand spanking new one from Sears. He also bought a warranty. The new fridge cost about $700.

Almost immediately, there were problems. The freezer wouldn’t keep things frozen. After three Sears Warranty home repairs at a cost to Sears of $750, the third repair man told my dad: The freezer works this way by design. There is an ambient temperature monitor in the unit such that when the outside temperature is below 55, the freezer raises its temperature. If your fridge is inside, it’s not a problem. It’s a feature. If you put your fridge in the garage, and many people do put an extra fridge int the garage, it IS a problem. And this is why, in the user manual, there is a page that says what number to call to order the garage kit.

OK. Think about that.

Two Truths

1. Sears knows that this ambient temperature feature requires an add-on kit for units that will be in a garage.


xkcd cartoon for Read The Fucking Manual

RTFM courtesy xkcd

OK, if I had a nuclear power plant, I would RTFM.


Sears has sent 3 repair people out and replaced three parts at a cost to them of $750. More if you factor in phone calls to the warranty department.

Sears repair guy #3 admitted this happens all the time. ALL the time. If this happens just 100,000 times, Sears has lost $75,000,000.

Here’s how you’d do it.

1. Ohh! I want THAT fridge. Click.
2. Website: Will you put this fridge in a garage?
3. Clicks Yes
4. You will need this garage unit for your fridge. Add to your order?

I guarantee that change will not cost millions of dollars.

As someone who has bought from Sears before, this a problem across their website. For ALL their appliances. If I buy a product from you, Sears, and you know some people need the door handle on the right and some on the left, FUCKING say so at the point of purchase. That way the customer doesn’t find out until it’s too late to have the fridge delivered with the door on the correct side. If I buy a gas stove, TELL ME exactly what add ons I might need for that model.

You’re welcome, Sears.


Why the Past Seems So Great!

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Rome: 500 BC

Centurion #1: These new sandals are CRAP. They just don’t make them like they used to.

Centurions #3-6000: Totally! Shit sandals.

Centurian #2: I bought mine from Cato The Silent over by the guy who sells those statues of Aphrodite. I’ve had them 6 years! They cost a bit more, but worth it.

Centurian #1: Oh, hey, I know that guy. His Aphrodites are fucking hot.

Centurian #2: INORITE?

[Stuff happens and Centurian#1 and Centurian#1 are struck down by Zeus for Reasons. They die in a cave. Or something.]

Germany: 1600

German #1: These pants are shit. Look at this. I just bought them and now they have a hole!

German #2: I bought my pants from that that guy on Hellerstrasse. They cost a bit more, but he does great work.

60 years later German #1 and #2 are dead. German#1′s new but ragged pants are given to the rag guy. German#2′s pants are the subject of this conversation:

German Mother: Here are your grandfather’s pants. Go put them on.

German Son: Mom!

German Mom: They’re perfectly fine. There’s nothing wrong with them. Plus the color looks good on you.

German Son: Nobody wears those anymore.

German Mom packs away grandpa’s perfectly fine pants until there’s a grandchild with better manners and more respect.

England 1815

Mr. Smith, Plebian:
Standing at the roadside, cursing at the shattered wheel of his carriage that cost 10 pounds.

The Duke of Highstep: Passes Mr. Smith in his gleaming gold and red lacquer carriage that cost 10,000 pounds.

The Present – A series of Conversations

Commenter #1: Roman sandals were of superior workmanship. They really knew how to make sandals back then! They found the skeleton of a Centurion and his servant in this cave from 500 BC, and there was a perfectly preserved pair of sandals.

Commenter #2: Has anyone said why he made his servant go barefoot?

Commenter #3: German trousers of the 17th century were remarkable for their craftsmanship. This pair right here were found in an attic recently.

Commenter #4: And here we see another fine example of the exquisite workmanship of English carriagemakers. All the Dukes of Highstep since 1815 have driven this carriage to Buckingham Palace every Boxing Day to give their ritual wave to the Queen.

What’s Your Point?

The point is you can’t go around saying that everything in the past was made better than it is now because the stuff that was shitty nobody kept and even if they wanted to, it didn’t last.

Edited to Add: Plus, you know, in the Regency, orange sellers were notorious for boiling oranges so they looked plump and juicy. But, of course, they weren’t. Because they were effing boiled. If you tried that today in the US, you’d end up wondering how your company can pay the fine.


Technology Grump Talks Tops and Bottoms

Sunday, September 8th, 2013


That’s my juvenile joke for the week I guess.

Back in the old days of email, it was considered proper etiquette to post your reply to an email at the bottom of the thread. This is called Bottom Posting. The reason was that you could then read all the emails from top to bottom, in a chronologically sensible way, from the originating email to the most recent, scrolling down.

And sure, back in the olden days, that made sense. You were invariably reading your email on a CRT, a large, unwieldy, monitor that had more than enough screen real estate.

There were often chiding lectures from Unix admins reminding people to bottom post. Email programs adapted to this by making bottom posting the default. When you hit reply, the cursor was at the bottom of the email.

That was Then, This is Now

Now, though, people are reading their emails on smartphones. The screen is smaller. And guess what? If there’s a long email thread, most of these smart phone emails only display the beginning of the thread — the part at the top.

What does that mean? If means if you bottom post, people reading mail on their smartphones CANNOT SEE YOUR REPLY. They cannot do a quick scan to see if your reply is important.

If you bottom post, chances are good that lots of people will never read your email. Because they never see it, or, and this is quite possible, they cannot get the rest of the thread to download. It’s annoying as hell.

Bottom-posting: Bad. Bad. Bad. Stop doing it.

Top post. Leave only a snippit of what you’re replying to.

Thank you. This concludes your technology lesson for the day.


How to Ladysplain

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Ah, yes, that phenomenon known as mansplaining.

Earlier this week I was at the Apple store with my son. We were picking up the laptop I bought him as a present for his high school graduation. He’s off to college in the Fall. * o m g * Anyway, the “genius” was a man of a certain age. (bwahahahahaha!) and while we were checking the new laptop to make sure everything was as spiffy as a brand new MacBook Air can be, both my son and I stared at the open Air (HAHAHAH!) and wondered how the heck to turn it on.

Why were we both so baffled? Well, we both have older MacBook Pros and here is a picture of what the ON button looks like:

silver button on a silver background, above right top of the keyboard of a MacBook Pro

MacBook Pro ON button

As you can see, the ON button is round, flat to the background, and silver-on-silver. It is located ABOVE and to the right of the keyboard.

Here is a picture of the MacBook Air ON Button:

MacBook Air ON Button, located on the keyboard, a brown rectangle

MacBook Air ON Button

As you can see, the ON button is no longer a silver circle against a silver background, nor is it located above and to the right of the keyboard. It’s a now a rectangle in the upper right of the keyboard.

Both my son and I were looking for a silver-on-silver circle located above the keyboard. Neither of us saw the button in its new location. In our world of MacBooks, the ON button is not part of the keyboard, so we ignored the keyboard.

At last, I said, “where’s the on button?” And the Apple clerk gets this look that most women will immediately recognize and points out the button and says:

“This symbol is the universal sign for ‘ON’ and it’s on all devices, even regular electronics…”

He would have continued to educate me about standards and symbols except I interrupted and said, “Yes, I’m aware of that. But it doesn’t matter what symbol is on the key if I don’t see WHERE it is.”

Then I ladysplained to him that the ON button was completely different, and I simply didn’t see it which is NOT the same thing as being unaware of the universal symbol for ON. Luckily for me, my son chimed in to say he hadn’t seen it either. I’m pretty sure the genius guy thinks I’m a bitch. But really.

See, the thing is, he wasn’t one of those people who can’t help telling you all the stuff they know. That’s often kind of entertaining and educational. Those people are often just so excited about the history of universal symbols! But I swear to you, I was looking at him when I asked where the button was, and I am representing to you that he got that look. That, oh, she’s a woman look, which means she doesn’t understand computers and needs a man to splain it to her. This here mysterious marking which you have failed to recognize on any appliance in your house and connect to the fact that when you press it, the appliance turns ON, THIS means it’s the on button. Instead of, here it is! Enjoy your awesome new computer!

I sure wish we’d gotten the genius guy I like to call “biceps.” He’s super hot and fit.
Oh. Did I just objectify a man? Oops.


You’re Just Too Lazy to go the Bookstore

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

King to Readers: You’re Just Too lazy to go the Bookstore

Oh, Stephen. No.

“I have no plans for a digital version,” King said. “Maybe at some point, but in the meantime, let people stir their sticks and go to an actual bookstore rather than a digital one.”

I don’t think it’s wise for authors to tell readers their reading format preferences are wrong and lazy. And what about the fact that some bookstores are now selling eBooks?

King can say FU to readers because he’s got market clout. He can be confident that every bookstore in the country will not only stock his book but order plenty of copies so that readers, when they come in, will indeed find his book available for purchase.

What if I’m a reader looking for a book by an author who ISN’T Stephen King? I can assure you that readers may not be able to find that book. For some authors, digital is the ONLY way to get their books into the hands of readers.

What if I can’t get to a bookstore? What if there aren’t any bookstores convenient to where I live? What if big fat books like the kind King writes hurt my hands? This is NOT a joke. My mother, who has arthritis, took to cutting apart paper books to get them into small enough chunks so that she could hold the sections without pain. Needless to say, she wasn’t reading hardbacks at all. I bought her a Kindle and suddenly, she could read as much as she wanted– without pain.

What if I have a sight-impairment and reading books in print isn’t possible?

What if I just prefer not to have paper books anymore?

“Let people stir their sticks and go to an actual bookstore.”

Just reading that gets me hot under the collar.

Let Them Read Print!

That sentiment, so full of privilege, set off a revolution back in 1790. The point is not what Marie Antoinette ACTUALLY said, but the danger of the privileged elite telling the unwashed masses to solve their unhappy conditions by simply doing something else–that happens to be impossible– is a warning that’s endured for more than 200 years.

It’s offensive. It reeks of King’s privileged position in life. I’m sure he has a car and the time and money to drive to his nearest bookstore and buy all the print books he wants. He’s sighted (to the best of my knowledge). He’s completely oblivious to all the reasons a reader might not be able to read his book in print.

It’s also judgmental about format and preferences that are not his. What if I don’t want to read in paper? What if I’ve found that reading on a digital device is a far better reading experience for me?

Why should you have any say at all in how I purchase and read a book?

If I were a reader, and I am, I’d be pretty damn pissed off. And guess what? I am.


Bitter Cents

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

According to my Google Alerts, someone appears to have DNF’d My Darkest Passion. Are you kidding me? How could anyone not understand the story Harsh and Addison deserve?

I could have watered down the story, sure. I could written something without thinking about my ART but I would have had to title that story, My Medium Dark Passion. Or even My Pastel Passion. But that would have cheated Harsh and Addison out of their story. I’ve always said that writing is hard. Really hard. God, no one understands how hard I work and how much it means that every reader out there admits my brilliance.

Rather than risk anyone else wanting their passion Medium Rare or, worse, Well Done, (God, I think I just threw up a little in my mouth), I am taking My Darkest Passion off sale on Tuesday, May 21st, 2013. That’s: TUESDAY, May 21, 2013. After TUESDAY, May 21st, 2013, My Darkest Passion will not be available in any format.

Yes, I could stick to my principles and leave the book on sale after TUESDAY MAY 21, 2013, and simply take my lumps, but then I would be making money off a book someone did not finish. Ever bitter penny to hit my bank account after TUESDAY, May 21, 2013 would hurt my soul and betray the loving, twisted passion of Harsh and Addison, who, my GOD, so fucking deserve their happy ending.

I want to thank everyone who’s emailed or left a comment on my Facebook page telling me you couldn’t put the book down. Thank you. Thank you! Although all of you can continue to read the book, after TUESDAY, May 21, 2013 you should probably no longer do so. Anything else would not be fair to Harsh or Addison, or all the people who try to find the story after Tuesday, May 21, 2013.

I’m sorry the money you paid for the book has turned out to be nothing more than bitter cents in my direct deposit. And I’m sorry Harsh and Addison’s dark and twisted path to love didn’t work for that person who DNF’d. This is why we can’t have nice things. Some of you ruin it for the rest of us and now I’m not able to own my words or take any risks in my writing, or even, accept that some readers may not like my work. Because, how could that be, really? I am brilliant. I think about ART when I write.

Last night, I cried bitter tears (just like the money) when I realized that I would be taking the story off sale on TUESDAY May 21, 2013.

Call me cynical if you want. This is in response to this.