Taking a break… and this time I mean it. #ellorascave #problems #royalties #rights #haleno

toxic-friendships-career-futility-tv-ecard-someecardsOkay, this is it. I’ve reached critical mass. Everything in my Twitter & Facebook feeds is either about the EC debacle, or Gamergate, or Kathleen Hale. The toxicity out there is unbearable, and it’s keeping me from getting my work done.

So, I’m going dark for a while. I’ve got two books to finish, and I plan to spend the rest of October and most, if not all, of November doing just that. My goal is to get the next Courtland novel out in time for Christmas, since it does have kind of a holiday theme. (Oh, and just FYI – the story’s turned out to be a bit too complicated to wrap up in one book, so there will definitely be a second. Maybe even a third!)

Yeah, I know, I’ve tried to take Internet breaks before, but this time I mean it. I simply don’t have any room left in my head for this crap. I need to buckle down and get back to work, unless I want to be living in a cardboard box by this time next year.

As I mentioned previously, I’m leaving my GoFundMe campaign open until October 31st, but I won’t be posting any more updates or rattling my tin cup again. Constant begging for money can be a real turn-off, and I don’t want to cross that line.

To everyone who’s already donated, thank you! To those who haven’t… please don’t feel compelled to do so if it’s a hardship. You’ve all gotten me over the 50% mark, which is more than I thought I’d raise. Whatever happens now, I’ll take as a sign that it’s meant to be.

I need a vacation… #ellorascave #problems #royalties #rights #kindleunlimited

Rottenecards_69135865_jg3xqtvkdwThis was another day when I could barely drag myself out of bed. Conventions usually take a lot out of me, but not this much. I’ve got a call in to my doctor to see if we can readjust my anti-depressants. I’ve been on the generic version of Lexapro for a couple of years now. It worked really well when I first started taking it, but over time – even with a mid-afternoon Wellbutrin booster – it’s lost its effectiveness.

Maybe it’s time to switch to something else. At least, I hope that’s the answer, because I cannot continue to live this way. I’ve done everything I can think of to boost my mood. I’ve stopped drinking. I try to leave the house for at least an hour every day, simply to be out in the sunshine. I’ve been trying to get to bed at a reasonable hour (ie, before midnight). I’ve been doing my best to avoid any mention of the Ellora’s Cave vs. Dear Author lawsuit, because it only seems to depress me more.

But I can’t screen out the rest of the world. Like it or not, being a published author these days means maintaining an active social media presence, and it’s pretty much impossible to escape mentions of the EC debacle on Facebook or Twitter. I try to ignore them, but it’s like trying to pick my way through a minefield.

One thing I can’t ignore is the drastic downward spiral of my royalties. It’s at the point where I dread checking my daily sales figures. For the current month – which, to be fair, still has nine days left – I’m running in single digits for most of my books. Single digits, folks. Aside from Guarded, Habanera, the Complete Courtland Chronicles box set (all three of which are in KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited) and the Unconditional Surrender box set, I’ve probably sold… oh, 40 books total this month across ALL AMAZON VENUES.

I’ll admit it, I’m scared. I have no fucking clue how to turn this ship around. I’ve tried every promotion strategy in the book, and they all come up a waste of time and money. Everyone says the best promo is to keep the books coming, which I’ve done – hell, I’ve had nine new releases this year. I’ve got two works-in-progress and two more stories waiting in the wings. I’m not the fastest writer in the world, but I try to spit out a couple thousand words a day, even on a bad day.

But lately… well, the bad days have been pretty bad. Needless to say, I’m not sleeping well. My meals consist largely of green tea lattes and junk food. I’m afraid I won’t meet my $2K GoFundMe goal. Even if by some miracle I do, what if EC decides to be vindictive and refuse to sell me back my rights? What if they do sell them back, but the sale gets invalidated once they file for bankruptcy? I can’t afford to lay out $2K to pay EC’s ransom, then another $300-400 to re-edit the books, commission new cover art and get the files properly formatted if it’s all destined to go down the drain.

On the one hand, I have choices. On the other… I have no idea which choice to make. The path ahead is strewn with pitfalls, and I’m walking blind.

Open for business ’til month’s end! #ellorascave #royalties #rights #gofundme

MjAxMy02ZjdlMmE1MDJjMDcxNDQ4Hey folks. Just a quick reminder that my GoFundMe campaign to buy back the rights to my Ellora’s Cave books closes on October 31st. I’m already up to $1,018.00, more than halfway to my $2K goal!

I considered leaving the campaign up until the end of November, but with each passing day I get more and more nervous that EC will simply close up shop with no prior notice, leaving both employees and authors in the lurch. (Well – more in the lurch than we are now…)

I’m also a little worried about the first hearing in the EC vs. DA lawsuit, which (I thought) was scheduled for next week. (Something tells me EC’s attorney’s gonna crap his pants once he gets in a courtroom with “First Amendment badass” Marc Randazza.)

And finally… I just want to put an end to this debacle. It’s been eating my brain for almost a month, and completely killing my productivity. I’ve got two manuscripts I’m already late finishing, and two more fully-plotted stories waiting for me to get my shit together and get to work. I literally cannot afford to let this drag out any longer.

To everyone who’s already contributed – I owe you all a drink at next year’s GRL. To those still considering it, I’m offering a complete set of my three Icon Men books once I republish them (most likely early next year) and my heartfelt gratitude for your support. :)

And the cray-cray just keeps on coming… #HaleNo #stalking #authorsbehavingbadly

MjAxNC1mYzNmNzQ3MWFiNDU3ZjhhBy now everyone on the ‘net’s probably read Kathleen Hale’s Guardian UK article where she very calmly lays out how she stalked and harassed a Goodreads reviewer who had the temerity to give her first book (creepily titled, No One Else Can Have You) a one-star review. (Sorry, not providing links. I have no desire to give this woman any more attention. Google “Kathleen Hale Guardian article” and believe me, you’ll have cray-cray reading material for days.)

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve had my fair share of cray-cray moments myself. Like many authors, I suffer from clinical depression. Yes, I’ve obsessed over bad reviews. I’ve cried about poor sales. The Ellora’s Cave debacle has weighed heavily on me, so much so that I really wasn’t in the mood to attend GayRomLit in Chicago this past week. But I’d already spent too much money on the registration and airfare to let it go to waste, so I went.

I pretty much hid out in my room the first couple of days. Traveling takes a lot out of me, so I deliberately scheduled in some downtime. When I finally emerged to do the Q&A I’d signed up for, no one showed – well, okay, no one but the other two authors, the moderator, and my roommate.

And I kinda had a meltdown. Everything I’d been going through the past couple of weeks came bubbling to the surface, and I very nearly walked out. Luckily, my moment of insanity passed before two other people walked in, and the Q&A went ahead as scheduled. After, embarrassed and ashamed, I retreated to my room for a few hours, then spent the rest of the con seeking out the two other authors and the moderator to apologize for my behavior. (“Seeking out,” as in, having a word with them in the hotel conference center, not following them to their rooms.)

Also, there was someone else in attendance I really didn’t want to run into, although of course that proved impossible. So I just walked up to her in the dealer’s room and said, “I’m sorry.” She hugged me, and it was as if I’d lost a hundred pounds in an instant. Everything else that had been weighing on me – the EC debacle, the relative failure of a book that means a great deal to me, the usual depression that rolls in at the start of autumn – well, it didn’t go away, but for that moment, it all became bearable. I realized things really weren’t that bad, except within the confines of my admittedly far from objective mind.

I can’t begin to tell you how good that felt.

And I can’t begin to count how many readers came up to tell me how much they’d enjoyed my work – even the book I’d previously written off as a failure. Amazing how a simple shift in outlook can brighten what had seemed so dark and dire only a day or so before.

Now you know why I write so much drama and angst. :)

So when I first read Kathleen Hale’s article in the Guardian, I couldn’t help thinking, “There but for the grace of God – and heavy-duty antidepressants – go I.” Her flat, almost non-existent affect literally gave me the chills. I cannot fathom why so many people are defending her, after she’s admitted in writing to committing a crime, then shrugged it off with a bunch of so-called “self deprecating” remarks that strike me as completely unfunny and insincere. Even after re-reading the article, I’m still not sure she grasps the enormity and utter wrongness of what she’s done.

Thankfully, my more irrational moments have never spurred me to stalking or harassment. I can’t even imagine doing something like that. I turn my crazy inward, not outward. I tend to think that whenever bad things happen, I must’ve done something to deserve it. I constantly question the validity of my feelings and my reactions – the product, no doubt, of seven-plus years of psychotherapy.

Ms. Hale might do well to consider professional help herself. It’s abundantly clear that she needs it.

What’s so hot about #gay #military men? (Aside from EVERYTHING?) @surrenderboxset

UnconditionalSurrender_500x750In the midst of all the Ellora’s Cave drama, I completely forgot the Unconditional Surrender box set comes out tomorrow!

And the blog tour’s already underway! Drop by the HEA at USA Today blog for the answer to that eternal question: What’s so hot about gay military men?

The amazing Jody Faltys hosts us for an exclusive excerpt from Cassandra Carr’s Civilian Master, as well as a HUGE giveaway featuring prizes from most of our 13 authors!

I’ll be winging my way toward Chicago – and GayRomLit! – tomorrow. Be sure to stop by my table for some exclusive Unconditional Surrender swag, including T-shirts and fridge magnets!

Strong. Sexy. Sizzling.

There’s nothing like a man in uniform, and sixteen of today’s hottest gay romance authors are celebrating military heroes and the men brave enough to love them.

These brand-new novellas feature all branches of the service and offer something for every reader. Almost 300,000 never before published words!

Join me, L.A. Witt, Keira Andrews, Annabeth Albert, EM Lynley, Rhi Etzweiler, Lia Davis, Kerry Adrienne, Cassandra Carr, Amelia C. Gormley, Lucy Felthouse, Brit Blaise & Sasha Devlin for stories about hot fighting men with big hearts (and even bigger… *koff*)…

 

Available now at the following e-tailers:

Amazon / Nook / iTunes / Kobo / All Romance ebooks

 

It’s “Bend Over & Grab Your Ankles” time… #ellorascave #problems #royalties #rights

1331650427320_1257046 Today I spoke to a local copyright/intellectual property attorney, who basically confirmed what I’d already figured out: Write that $2K check to Ellora’s Cave and be done with it, because even retaining an attorney to look over EC’s execrable contract will most likely cost me at least that much.

So, okay, I’m screwed. Looks like my only recourse at this point is to pay EC their extortion fee and hope to God it doesn’t get invalidated when they inevitably file for bankruptcy.

My GoFundMe campaign‘s still on, though it looks like it’s stalled out at $810.00. Much as I detest asking people for money, I would appreciate anything you can contribute.

I’ll leave the campaign up for the remainder of October, then see how much I’ll have to put on my credit card(s).

At this point it’s no doubt more financially prudent to simply let the Icon Men series go, but the mere thought of letting EC sell my hard work off to the highest bidder makes me physically ill. I can’t rest without doing everything in my power to keep that from happening.

If only I knew the answer… #ellorascave #problems #royalties #rights

one-night-a-thief-broke-into-my-house-looking-for-money-so-i-got-up-and-helped-him-look-a9bfdLike everyone else in this social-media-addicted world, I’m on Facebook and Twitter. And Google+ and LinkedIn and ContactMe, all of which I’ve leveraged to (hopefully) make my $2K goal to buy back the rights on my Icon Men series from Ellora’s Cave.

I know everyone gets tired of seeing people asking for money to finance start-ups or whatever. My tweetstream’s clogged with Kickstarter and GoFundMe pitches every fucking day, which is why I was initially so resistant to going the crowd-funding route myself. I don’t want to be part of the endless white noise.

So when someone on ContactMe emails me to say (paraphrasing here), “Hey, you’ve published 35 books. Why do you need my money for this? Don’t you make enough to buy your rights back without shaking the whole world down for it?” all I can say is…

Good question. Wish I had a good answer for you.

But the fact remains that, even after publishing 35 books – even after nine new releases this year – I still have to count every penny. That trip I’m taking to Chicago for GRL this week? It’s all going on a credit card. Hell, I may have to put my rent on a credit card next month.

The fact also remains that this writing career is all I’ve got. My disabilities have kept me out of the regular working world for ten years. Okay, technically (if you want to go by SSI’s definition) I am not disabled, despite crippling depression and bi-lateral arthritis in my knees which makes even getting up from a chair difficult. You try acing an interview when you’re 54 years old with creaky knees.

I’m not saying this to garner hugs or sympathy – I can’t stand people who constantly play the “poor me” card. But I also get very, very angry when people act like I’m trying to scam them, because I wouldn’t even be asking for help if one of my own publishers wasn’t trying to scam me.

Okay, I’m not the greatest writer in the world, but I’m far from the worst. My books rack up 4 and 5-star reviews. I give good value for money. And yeah, I know everybody expects 100,000 word novels for $1.99 these days, but I simply cannot afford to price my books that low.

Those three Icon Men books EC’s holding hostage? Over the past two weeks, I’ve given away more copies than EC’s sold (according to my royalty statements) from January to May of this year.

Which makes me want to cry.

Between Ellora’s Cave and Kindle Unlimited, my sales have been decimated over the past few months. I’m getting money from the “borrows” on a couple of self-pubbed books I’ve put into KU, but that amount fluctuates wildly from month to month. I still make fairly good sales on Nook and iTunes, but none of the other third-party venues sell worth squat.

I’ve thought about putting all my self-pubbed titles into Kindle Unlimited, but that’s a risky move. What if I don’t even get any “borrows” on them? Plus, I don’t want to lock out readers who buy from Nook or iTunes.

So, sorry, Dude from ContactMe, that’s all I’ve got for you. Other than working hard and publishing regularly, I have no clue what it takes to be a success in this brave new publishing world. I’ve tried every type of promo available, from blog tours to going to cons to giving away a brand-new Kindle Fire. But these days even big-ticket prizes don’t attract much attention – everybody’s got a Kindle or Nook by now.

If people don’t want to pay a fair price for a well-written, well-edited, professionally packaged product – and I will stack my self-pubbed titles up against anyone’s, self-pubbed or traditional, in terms of quality and packaging – I can’t make them. But I’m not willing to give it all away for nothing.

I value my work more highly than that, even if no one else does.

Getting closer to buying back my #rights! #ellorascave #problems #royalties

1311739123125_4120542As of tonight, my GoFundMe campaign‘s up to $745.00! Almost halfway to my goal of $2K!

A huge THANK YOU! to all who’ve contributed.

It’s come to my attention, however, that GoFundMe has backed some rather controversial fundraising campaigns – I won’t go into the particulars here, but it doesn’t sound good – so I’ve come up with an alternative way to contribute.

You can PayPal me your contribution at: bittermint2007@gmail.com. Please please PLEASE make sure to put “EC rights buyback” or something similar in the comments field, so I can account for it properly.

Should my fundraising campaign not reach its goal, I assure you that every dime I receive will be refunded. That’s the main reason I chose GoFundMe – they allow relatively headache-free refunds.

It’s sad that I even need to say this, but I swear on my life that THIS IS NOT A SCAM. I have no intention of taking the money and running. I’m sick at heart that I actually have to ask people for money. I was raised to be self-reliant, but… well, who can fight something like this on their own?

Believe me, I’m just as eager as the rest of you to forget about EC’s WTFuckery. Getting my rights back would be a good start.

Now, HERE’S how you run a publishing company… #ellorascave #problems #royalties #rights

1341887652968_3591532Or rather, the accounting arm of one of the web’s biggest ebook distributors, Draft2Digital.

I switched from Smashwords to D2D for my self-published titles a couple of months ago, and man, what a difference! No more of SW’s dreaded Meatgrinder or  impossible-to-decipher royalty reports.

And their customer service is aces, too. Here’s their very professional response to my inquiry about royalty payments:

“Thanks for writing in with your question. You can expect a payment to be sent to you tomorrow or Monday.

We do require a minimum threshold of $10 (on a PayPal account) to be met before we send out payments. In July, you received less than the $10 amount in sales, which is why a payment has not been issued yet.

But In August, you had quite a few sales at B&N. Barnes & Noble pays on a 1 month delay cycle, so book sales made in August at B&N get paid to us at the end of September, and we pay you by the 15th of the following month (which would be October 15th).

Just so you have the data, Kobo and Scribd pay on a 2 month delay, so books sold in August are not paid to us until the end of October, and we pay by the 15th of the following month (November 15th).

CreateSpace, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Page Foundry pay on a 1 month delay, so books sold in August through one of these vendors do not get paid to us until the end of September, and we pay by the 15th of the following month, which would be October 15th.

I happen to know that the person who sends out payments hopes to take a few days off next week, so he is trying to get all payments submitted by tomorrow in advance of his vacation. During a typical month, you can expect payment by the 15th.

Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.”

This is how it’s done, folks. A single, succinct email detailing exactly when the various third party vendors pay D2D, and when I can expect to see the money in my own account.

Which begs the question… why can’t Ellora’s Cave do this? Why are they so damn close-mouthed, tight fisted and downright paranoid about their entire royalty-paying process? Is it because no one with access to the actual accounting system knows what they’re doing, or….

Or.

I’ll just leave it there for right now, but I’m sure you all can draw your own conclusions.

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