The Schrödinger’s Cat of the Bedroom. Rant Alert

February 18th, 2024

Are Women Real People?

The Bechdel test assists in determining whether the women in a scene or work of fiction (any media) are a representation of real women or simply props. To pass the test there must be a scene without men in it in which the women talk about something other than men. I want to propose a corollary test, the Jewel test, let’s say. It applies to heterosexual sex scenes.

The test is simple enough. Has the woman been given any internal reason for wanting to have sex with this guy? Is there any possibility she will say no?

No None Not at All

Too often the answer is no, none, not at all.

He need not be handsome or attractive but she must be beautiful. He’s the hero! He deserves her beauty and his orgasm. Her consent arises from his hero-ness and therefore there’s no reason for him to wonder if he has obtained her consent. He need not woo or impress her or spend even a moment wondering if something bad might happen to her because of his desire. She is the Schrödinger’s cat of the bedroom. She has no feelings or thoughts of her own.

If  the hero thinks of her outside the bedroom, the odds that she will die increase exponentially.

I am so tired of the hero’s sexual just desserts without considering of his true worthiness of the woman. I am sick of nudity warnings that mean the woman will be completely naked and that the most we’ll see of the hero is his naked upper back and potentially his front chest.

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

 

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Happy New Year!

December 31st, 2023

To all of you from me, wishing you a happy and safe New Year.

Picture of a green field with trees in the distance casting long shadows to the lower left corner. Wispy white clouds in the blue sky stretch toward the upper right corner.

Happy New Year from Jewel HQ! Photo by Yours Truly.

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Happy Holidays!

December 24th, 2023

Wishing everyone the very happiest holiday season!

The sky as the sun is just starting to rise. Trees and fields are black below the sky where there are some stars visible. In the center at the horizon the sky is light orangy-pink with wispy pink clouds above heading to a still dark sky. The mood is still and quiet.

Morning Sky. Photo by Yours Truly

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Goth Mushroom. But Also Writing

December 20th, 2023

Now that I’m walking the little dogs every day, I have discovered the fun of finding and identifying mushrooms. Here is a picture of one of my favorite types. It’s a Hare’s foot Inkcap which starts out looking like a rabbit’s foot, then opens like this one. The first time I saw them I thought they were rotting mushrooms, but when I used my mushroom identification app, I was shocked to learn they look like that! When you see a cluster of them, they’re wonderfully black.

Close up picture of a black mushroom with gray highlights on a slender white stem. The cap is round, nearly flat, with a point in the middle and edges rolling up to show the gills.

Hare’s Foot Inkcap

This very goth (to me) mushroom has a 24 hour life cycle and appears after rain. If you want to find this mushroom, you have to go look the day after it rains. This one was pretty big. I’m hoping they’ll start showing up in groups now. You can make ink from this mushroom!

Bound in Smoke editing is going well. I’m on staycation and expect/hope to get a lot done.

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Updates and Holiday Stress

December 13th, 2023

Checking In

Hello! Dropping in to share a picture of my new favorite mug, a holiday gift to myself. This mug makes me happy!

A glossy black mug with a stylized raised white skull on the side.

My New Favorite Mug

The Writing

I am still in the final editing phase for Bound in Smoke. I’ve cut several thousand words– this is good, I promise you. Currently, I am rejiggering some character roles and relationships which means folding in those changes starting with the beginning. With each of these changes, I love this book and the world even more, and I’m getting excited about being able to send this to my editor.

These days I’m writing slower, and it makes me feel guilty, but the last few years taught me a hard lesson about emotional burnout, recovery, and ensuring that I remain able to write words that I love. I won’t make any promises or predictions about when the book goes to my editor, but I do think it will be on the sooner side.

Stress and the Holidays!

I hope all of you are doing well as the holiday season ramps up. Personally, I am doing pretty dang well now that all my shopping is done. How is everyone doing so far?

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Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23rd, 2023

For all who celebrate US Thanksgiving, have a wonderful day!

Here is a picture of my dad’s dog. His name is George Gordon, Lord Byron, and he loves to chase balls. He doesn’t usually bring them back so taking him for walks involves extra walking for me as I search for where the heck he dropped the ball. Everyone at Jewel HQ is grateful he was rescued from wandering alone on a busy rural road and that we took him in. We are coping well with his puppy-hood. He gets along great with the other dogs and is finally calming down about the cats.

I am personally thankful for the additional exercise and his massive cuteness. I am also thankful that he runs around so hard with his ball that, for a while, there’s an off-button because he does get tired.  What are you thankful for?

Adorable small brown dog sitting on dried up mowed field grass. He has blue ball in his mouth and is staring into the camera.

Grateful for People Who Throw the ball

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I have A Reader Group

November 4th, 2023

Did you know I have a private Reader Group on Facebook? No? It’s a group for people who like my books. Exciting news lands there early. It’s fairly quiet right now, but I post weekly and you can talk about (almost) anything. The only membership requirement is that you like reading and my books. Joining automatically makes you even more awesome than you already are.

But why, Carolyn? Because Facebook “rewards” different things for authors in terms of getting seen by fans and people who are likely fans and well, there you have it. My author page is subject to facebook’s love of convincing me that I have to pay them if I want people who have liked my page to actually see my posts. The Reader Group is a bit less restricted in that way, so, you know, you can like my author page and the group. If you want. No pressure.

Join my Private Reader Group

As Bound in Smoke gets closer and closer to actually being finished, the Reader Group will get early news about how that’s going, including things like extended excerpts.

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Bound In Smoke Progress Update

October 26th, 2023

I am up to chapter 27 in edits without having to go back to rewrite a bunch! So despite my long silences, there’s a lot getting done. The work on this books feels more like the usual instead of a hard sad slog.

How’s everyone doing?

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My Immortals Series Re-Cover Did Not Go Smoothly

October 21st, 2023

New Covers!

As previously mentioned, after some market research, I decided the books in the My Immortals series needed new covers. Getting new covers took longer than I liked, but I was extremely budget conscious this time and can’t really complain that each cover was handled as separate project. It got done, and I am very happy with the result. The new covers fit in with the current paranormal romance market.

And Then There Was Amazon

I started uploading at the various vendors, starting with Amazon. I do two print versions through Amazon. One is for Libraries and bookshops. That version is priced very high in order to accommodate the discounting needed and it uses an Amazon supplied ISBN. I do another version using my own ISBN which I price as low as possible so that print readers have the most affordable option. These two versions are identical as to content and cover.

Some additional context: For all of my books, I use a logo for my imprint, cJewel Books, which is registered to me at Bowker and therefore connected to my ISBNS. I commissioned the logo in 2015 and use it on all my books. For print books, the logo appears on the back cover. For EVERY SINGLE BOOK. Here’s the full color logo:

Image that looks like a combination of book pages and a gem. The text cJewel Books appears underneath

The Logo

I love the logo, by the way and I like the continuity it gives. I have been using this logo since 2015. Some more context here. Some of the new covers use the same model as the original cover. Some used new images. All the covers have the same background. I did update some back matter in the eBooks so that the flow was more efficient and more conducive to readers having an easy opportunity to get the next book. There were no changes to the print interiors. The only change was the cover.

For all but two of the books, the uploading went just fine, eBook and print. But for some reason Amazon had a hissy fit about one of the print covers for My Demon Warlord. They started by asking me to prove I had the publishing rights. Even though nothing had changed but the cover and even though the updates were coming from the same account that originally published the book. Amazon “helpfully” has a list of acceptable proof. Unfortunately for self-publishers, none of the acceptable proof applies. My Demon Warlord was never traditionally published. I wrote it my own self for my own publishing career. Amazon explicitly states that it’s not enough to say, but I wrote it! Copyright registration is also not proof they will accept.

At first, I replied that they should be able to tell that the same account was involved in the update and that the only change was the cover. I provided all the ISBNs and pointed out they were registered to me or CreateSpace. This was not sufficient. Then I sent images from my Author Central account showing that both print versions had been verified by Amazon–meaning they agreed that all versions of the book were mine. They cleared the book. Yay, right?

NOPE

I got another notice asking for the same proof, which I sent. Again. One of the print versions was cleared. Yay! Right?

NOPE Again

I got another notice for the OTHER print version asking for the same proof which I sent again. This was disallowed. WTAF? So I sent the information AGAIN and pointed out the history on this and tried to stay polite. Then I got a notice saying they had cleared the book. Yay! Right?

NOPE AGAIN

Yes, they agreed I had the right to publish the book but now they believed I did not have the right to all the images in the cover and to please send proof that the images were properly licensed. Recall that all these books have the same exact background and the they’d cleared an identical version earlier in the day. My Demon Warlord, originally published in 2016, is one of the books where I was using the same model as my original cover. You’d figure this means the problem had to be in the background images  (shared by ALL the covers). Yet all the other books were successfully updated with the new covers. I asked the cover designer to send me the licenses for all the images in that book. I also attached the invoice for my logo, because honestly, I am pretty certain they were having a fit over that. Fortunately, the 2015 invoice was readily available to me because taxes and business expenses.

Meanwhile . . .

Amazon sent me another notice asking me to prove my right to publish My Immortal Assassin. ::Sigh::: All because I updated the cover. Fortunately/Ironically? My Immortal Assassin was traditionally published and I have my reversion letter. I keep all my reversion letters readily available because I have other books where I have been asked 3-4 times to prove my right to publish the book. For some books, I have sent my reversion letter 3-4 times. Anyway, I pointed out the only change was a new cover, same account, blah blah blah, but here is the reversion letter AGAIN. They accepted this proof since a reversion letter is on Amazon’s acceptable proof list.

Finally?

Anyway, Amazon has finally cleared My Demon Warlord. But is this over? Who knows.

Some Thoughts

I suspect this entire process never once involved a human on Amazon’s side. I suspect I could have sent an image of my cat as proof of my right to publish and their automated system would have said, hey, proof is attached! You’re good. I suspect that once a book is flagged they double down and match book images to images on stock sites and that since my logo is not a stock image, they decided I was stealing.

Several things are obvious to me. Amazon has an unintelligent algorithm that misses some pretty obvious rules. Such as, if they have previously vetted an account’s publishing rights to a book, they do not need to confirm those rights ever again. When the same account updates a previously cleared book, they don’t need to clear it again.

This process is everything that is wrong with Amazon and more. All I did was update covers for books Amazon has already agreed I have the right to publish. How hard it it, really, for them to check that, and what does it say about how bad their backend system is that they don’t/can’t do this?

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October News

October 13th, 2023

October is Here!

October is my favorite month because I can have all the candy corn I want! Yes. That’s right. I love candy corn. I know some people hate it and to that I say, More For me! I also love Halloween. We don’t have trick-or-treaters where we live but our neighbor has grandchilden and a few years ago I started putting up skeletons where they would see them, and that’s been a lot of fun.

My Immortals Series Gets A New Look!

At last the new covers are done after some market research convinced me that my covers no longer fit in with the best-selling books in their genre. It took longer than I liked, but they’re done now! Yay!! I also reorganized some back matter so that readers will have a clearer path to the next book. If you already have the books you should be able to update your file if you want the new cover. Nothing has changed in the text. I’ll start uploading the spiffy new versions this weekend.

Street Witch Series-Bound In Smoke

I am in the final editing phase on this book, and I am happy to report that so far I’ve made it to Chapter 21 without making a change so big I have to go back to the beginning to layer in the ground work. I’ve been careful to manage my sleep and my writing self so that I don’t tip over into emotional burn out. And, of course, grief is a process that never stops. (Some of you know that my nephew and my youngest brother recently passed away very unexpectedly within a very short time of each other.)

How’s everyone doing?

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