Wednesday, December 17, 2014

FREE is NOT Free!

I'm sure someone, somewhere is going to bitch-slap me for this post, but here goes...

We all like getting stuff for free, don't we? Personally, I love the swag I get in conference bags or two for one buys at the grocery store.

But why do a lot of readers think books should be FREE? Like they should be handed out like Halloween candy?

There, I've said it. The angry cat is out of the bag.

Today someone posted on Facebook asking authors where she could get FREE copies of their latest books. And several authors responded by saying they would be happy to send her their books. She did ask nicely, but it's my opinion she should not have asked at all.

Frankly, I'm just as upset with the authors forking over their books so easily. They make the rest of us look like money-grubbing, soulless Scrooges. They are also setting a dangerous precedent.

You see, this happens more than you might think. With books so cheap on places like Amazon, especially e-books, consumers have gotten used to those bargain basement prices,  including free, which are not the norm. Once a reviewer on Amazon posted that she really liked one of my books and noted that she'd gotten it as a Kindle Daily Deal. Then she tacked on that she was pissed because she'd had to pay full price for the next book in the series.  [insert an eye roll and groan here, along with a certain hand gesture]

Time for a little education.

Unless an author is at the top of the food chain, most authors make very little money off of the sale of their books, especially if they are traditionally published through a small publisher. Yet we toil for months and even years to bring them to our readers. When you do the math, a child working in a Calcutta sweat shop makes a higher hourly rate.

Authors also have a lot of expenses. We go to conferences to meet our readers. We drive to signings and library events. We travel for research. We pay for promotional materials, computers, Internet service, booze and happy pills. None of which is covered by our publisher. We sacrifice time with our family and friends and put ourselves under a lot of stress, all to bring some of happiness and entertainment to readers.

When's the last time you got in free to an Adele concert? Or a Tom Hanks movie? Do you go into a bakery, point to a pretty cake and ask if you can have it for free?

Of course not!  It's the same with books. Trust me, we don't pull book manuscripts out of our ass. We work long hard hours on each one.

Now don't you think we should get paid for that, just like the neighborhood baker and his cake?  To say no to this question is to disrespect the author, plain and simple.

I'm really not a bitch - Argument 1: Just so you don't think I'm a total bitch, let me say that every year I give away dozens of FREE books. I get a box of them from my publisher right before the book is released. These books are used for contests, charity baskets, library events, sent to reviewers not covered by my publisher, and even given as gifts to people who helped me with my research.  I've given books to hospitals and hospices, shelters, sick people, and even the armed forces. When the books the publisher sends me are gone, I have to PAY FOR MY OWN BOOKS to continue this giving.

The person on Facebook today never said she wanted these books for a non-profit entity. She was very clear that she wanted them for her own pleasure reading.

Well, honey, I pay for almost all the books I read,
so join the party!

I'm really not a bitch - Argument 2: I understand completely that some people are strapped for cash and cannot buy books. To those folks I say: Go to your local library. Authors get paid for the books you borrow from your library, whether in book, digital, or audio formats. And, like I said, I give a lot of books to libraries.  If your library doesn't have a certain book, ask them to order it for you. Most can and will.

Want a free copy of GHOST IN THE GUACAMOLE?

Currently in the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club on Facebook, there is a contest running. I'll be giving away 3 copies.

And I'm very happy to do it because I want to do it. It's my gift to my readers.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Short on Pages, Long on Fun!

As a kid, I loved reading short stories. Whenever I'm asked about my favorite short stories, two immediately pop into my mind: The Ransom of Red Chief by O. Henry and The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. No matter how many years have passed since I've read them, they stay with me - one for its humor, the other for its creepiness.

Other unforgettable favorites:

The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe
The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell

I still read short stories and there are a lot of good ones out there, both in anthologies and as individual shorts for e-readers.

One of the things I promised myself when I returned from Bouchercon last month was to finish two short stories I'd started. They are very different, yet both contain humor. One is more slapstick, the other subtle and sly. Both take place in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is why I wanted to finish and release them now.

Years ago I wrote a short story called Ho Ho Homicide featuring the amateur sleuth from my Odelia Grey mystery series.  With the rights to that story returned to me, I decided to independently publish it on Amazon, like I'd done with several other short stories. But since many of my readers had already read it, I turned it into a two-fer. coupling Ho Ho Homicide with a new short story, Ho Ho Hell.  Both short stories take place in the frenzy and hysteria of Christmas shopping at the same mall but several years apart.  The two stories were released together under the title Ho Ho Humbug and so far the reviews have been great!

Many, many years ago, I wrote a short story titled Early Retirement for submission to an anthology. My short story was not chosen so I tucked it away and forgot about it. This past month I took it out, dusted it off, and gave it a much-needed overhaul. It was released yesterday.  And I must say, I'm very glad that short story was not chosen for the anthology. It was a wreck and now with many years of writing under my belt, I was able to give it the attention it needed to become a very good story.



Ho Ho Humbug and Early Retirement are both digital only and can be found on Amazon for the short price of 99 Cents!



Buy HO HO HUMBUG here.

Buy EARLY RETIREMENT here.

And check out my other short stories on Amazon.

I have another short story started with a working title of Something to Kill For, but that will be shelved for a while due to having a full-length novel and a novella both due to a publisher in mid-spring. Also in the works is a new series of e-book romance novellas scheduled for late summer, early fall.  So stay tuned!



Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Got Rubbers?

Last night I watched Sunday night's CSI and it really disturbed me. It was the episode called "Rubbery Homicide."

If you didn't catch it, it was about men who bought and wore head to toe rubber doll suits. 

Yeah, you heard me.

Curious, I Googled that today and sure enough, it's a thing. The suits are quite expensive and incredibly life-like and there is a whole sub-culture built around it. (Not that I didn't believe you, CSI!)  Like I said, this really disturbed me, as in gave me the willies like an army of ants were stampeding my body. Here's an interesting article about some people that makes the suits.

I'm a pretty live-and-let-live kind of gal. Always have been. Transgender - no problem! Transvestite - who cares! Drag queen - start the show! Living in Los Angeles, I've seen it all. Or so I thought. We all have our secrets, our weird little fetishes, and fantasies.

Every. Single. One. Of. Us.

So why did the idea of men wearing rubber doll suits freak me out?

It was the masks.

It's all cool if a man wants to put on heels and Spanx and too much make-up and go out in public. Knock yourself out.  Just because it's not my thing and I AM a woman, doesn't mean it bothers me.  Same goes for women who buzz cut their hair and dress in men's wear. It's an expression of who they are.

But those masks really bothered me.

It didn't just strike me as creepy, but tragically sad. Voluntarily hiding your face like that is such a denial of who you are as a person. I can't say that these men don't like themselves, because I don't know them, but clearly they are not happy with the way they look as nature made them.

When wearing these suits, do they see themselves as women or as rubber doll fantasies? I'd love to know, because no woman I know, organic or transgender, looks like these dolls.

Equally disturbing was finding out that there are a whole lot of men who want to have sex with these rubber dolls. Not with the men in the suits, but with the dolls they become when wearing the suits. I found that even creepier.

Ok. Ok. It's their thing and they're not hurting anyone. And who knows, I might even know a few men who are dressing this way secretly. I'm just stunned, especially since I can barely put on panty hose.

And, NO, you will not be finding this as a plot topic in one of my books. Trust me on this. I've already done a book with drag queens and transgender individuals (TWICE AS DEAD) and that was fun ... except for the people I bumped off in the book.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Stay-Cations Rock!

Today I go back to work at ye old day job. I took Thanksgiving week off. Not to go anywhere, but to stay home and get some stuff done around the house. I did this a couple of years ago and loved every minute of it.

Boy, I'm scratching my head. It hardly seems possible that the past nine days have flown by so fast. Where did the time go? It seems like it just started and here I am about to get showered and dressed for work.

Here in Los Angeles we enjoyed unseasonably warm weather for the entire week with it being in the 80s, and I had wanted to get to the beach at least one day to sit and enjoy it without summer crowds.  I ended up not getting around to that, or a few other things, but that's okay.  Here's my report card for the things I had on my Stay-cation To Do List:

Go to beach  - Nope
Clean out closets - Started on kitchen closets
Organize old mail and papers and file them away - Done
Get rid of piled up recycling - Done
Clean apartment thoroughly - Half done
Meet Lori Tillman for our joint birthday lunch - postponed a week due to my screw-up
Participated in Vroman's Indies First Event on November 29th - Done and so much fun!
Organize old knickknacks around the house and put most away in curio cabinet - Done
Finish all 3 books I was reading - Done
Start Christmas shopping - Yes
Plot out new direction for writing career - Yes. See that here.
Work on first Winnie Wilde novella - Yes
Work on 3rd Madison Rose novel - Yes
Work on 11th Odelia Grey novel - Yes
Complete and publish Odelia Grey Holiday short story HO HO HUMBUG - Yes. Buy here.
Make my first vegan Thanksgiving - Yes, with mixed results
Catch up on all the stuff stored on my DVR - Almost
Get a good night's rest every night - YES! YES! YES!
Go see a movie - Nope
Write upcoming guest blog - Started
Get exercise every day and hit my 100 mi in November goal - DONE!
Work on new short story EARLY RETIREMENT - Yes
Set up some guest authors for 2015 for the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club - Yes
Clean out fridge - Yes

I'm disappointed that I didn't finish my cleaning or my closets, but I'm heading back to the office to feeling refreshed and satisfied and ready to take on December.

Starting today, I'm also back on my usual routine of writing each morning on the books next up for deadline.  I had set those aside for this past week and only worked on my indie projects.  But I must get back to GHOST WRITER, the 6th Ghost of Granny Apples novel that is due in less than 4 months and THE GHOST OF MISTLETOE MARY, the 3rd Granny Apples novella due in 5 months.

As much as I love to travel, I do so LOVE stay-cations!  Maybe I can get in another short one in soon!  I hope. I hope. I hope!