Thursday, February 27, 2014

Some fun stuff happened today...

Ok, so my day today...

New phone? Check - EEEEKKKK...I've broken down and joined all you techno-heads and got a Samsung Galaxy Note 2...everyone run for the hillllssssss...

Do I know half of what it does yet? Not a clue! For all I know it washes the bloody dishes...*crosses fingers and hopes and dreams that's the case cause she hates dishes...*

New round of Paperbacks ordered? Check! (Just a weensy bit excited about that cause now I'm gonna have FOUR of my six available books in PB and ready for some super, duper secret type stuffs! *nod nod*)

New Bookmarks designed by the totally AWESOME Bailey Hunter ordered? Check! (Again, just a weensy bit excited about *that* too!)

 All other bills paid? Check!

The Seer - Book 1 of the Shadowcon Series uploaded? Wellll...not quite. Had to tweak the cover just a smidge, but it'll be soon...hopefully tomorrow, cause that's all we're waiting on! *nod nod* Everything else is ready...blurb is written, thanks to the totally AWESOME Monica Schroeder, who helped me with tweaking; Book is formatted thanks to the equally AWESOME Grace Coronado, so it's just awaiting the cover...

All in all, a productive day I'm thinkin'...

Now, come on, spill, what did you do today? Anything fun? Interesting? Hmmm? Inquiring minds wanna know ya know!
Thanks as always for stopping by...
Until next time!
Margaret Taylor

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Chewing on Dashboards...The Crazy Things We Did As Kids...

I touched on a pretty sensitive subject, bullying last time, so today, I'm going to make things a little more light and fun.

I said in my last blog that there is life after bullying, but I have to say, my youth wasn't all bad. It really wasn't.

One of the few friends I had back then was a young lady named Carrie. We met when I was a freshman and she was a junior and despite our rather auspicious beginnings (Again, a story for another time folks...) we discovered we were actually two peas in a pod. It helped, of course, that our birthdays were only two years and two days apart (Hers is on Jan. 19th and mine is the 22nd.)

From the day we met, we were inseparable and she has remained more like a sister to me in the 30 years we've known each other than anything else.

And we've had good times and bad. We've fought with one another, we've loved, and we've done some of the craziest shit together...

Which is what I'm going to talk about today.

Carrie, being two years ahead of me, graduated when I was 17. She, like I would eventually, promptly left our small-town in the rearview mirror for parts unknown. I didn't hear from her for a while, something that hurt me greatly at the time, until finally she pulled her head out of her butt and called.

I found out she'd been living in South Carolina and she asked me to come visit.

So, I did. I convinced my parents (Sorry Mom, Dad!) to let me "borrow the truck" (For those of you from the South, you know what this means!) and off I went for a nice long weekend with my best friend...

A close picture of Sonny - He didn't have the lift kit, though I wish he had!

Four days later and bored with the "locals", we decided - late one night and after drinking pretty heavily - to take off and SEE THE WORLD!

Now, understand, I in NO WAY advocate drinking and driving, but the world was different back then. (Circa 1986!)

So, off we go. We hit the road with grand plans in mind and headed! (Don't judge, that was The World to small town girls like us!)

As we drove, approx. 2 a.m. or so, we talked about our dreams and our hopes.

We'd get jobs in HotLanta! We'd make all sorts of fast cash and fly away somewhere to live off said cash with no worries.

We'd meet the love of our lives in HotLanta! Maybe he'd be a Rock Star, or a Doctor, or a Lawyer, but he'd definitely be cute and make lots of money to supplement our own incomes and he'd sweep us off our feet and we'd jet-set around the world, meeting foreign dignitaries and presidents and celebrities. It didn't matter as long as he got us OUT of small-town U.S.A.!

We giggled - we were more than a little drunk when we started this grand adventure - we chortled, we guffawed until our faces and sides ached!

About an hour into this grand scheme to change our lives, I noted that Carrie had gone silent. I was getting just a little sleepy, so I looked across the bench seat to find my partner in crime leaning forward.

At first I thought she'd just fallen asleep and was resting her head against the dash. But then I noticed her jaw was moving and her eyes were open.

This was the conversation that followed:

Me: Hey? You ok over there?

Her: (drunken unintelligible mumbling)

Me: What?

She pulled back from the dashboard and wiped her chin.

Her: Yeah, I'm fine. Just hungry.

Me: Were you CHEWING on the dashboard?

She nodded in the shadows.

Her: No! But I am hungry. Can we stop somewhere and eat?

Needless to say, this caused another fit of giggling and I had to pull off to the side of the road because I was laughing so hard.

Now, here's the funny part. To the day my parents sold poor Sonny (circa 2005), he had teeth marks in his dashboard and every time I saw them, I laughed!

And to this day, I've never, ever, let my poor friend live down the fact that she got so drunk one time, she tried to EAT MY TRUCK!

I'm just glad the things we did back then were pre-Interwebs and Cell Phone Cameras folks! Because the folly of MY youth would be the stuff of viral video's today on YouTube, trust me!

I do love hearing from you, so spill the thing YOU did back in the day that would have given you millions of hits on YouTube today!

Thanks, as always, for stopping by.

Until next time.

Margaret Taylor

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Life After Being Bullied...

So, this isn't something I regularly put out there, but my entire school life, I was bullied.

From my earliest memory I was the smart kid and had no filter between brain and mouth to stop myself from proving it or wanting to prove it. My parents were well-educated and brought me up to appreciate intellectualism.

Yes, yes, I was Sheldon from Big Bang Theory! And that's probably one of the reasons I don't watch that show, very often at least, because I can identify with that character oh, so, well!

Fortunately, I grew out of that mindset, but not before ruining what little bit of popularity I might have had by showing up "The Jocks" in Freshman Algebra...

(That's another story for another time.)

Sadly, it took me years to install what I call my Dipo-Filter. Which is short for Diplomatic Filter, or, you know, that thing that stops those thoughts from making it all the way out of your mouth when you're confronted with stupid people?

Yeah, that.

It wasn't until I was in my mid-30's that I found it, installed it and have managed to keep it from breaking down in this day and age of connectivity through Social Media.

Anyway, back to my younger years. Because of my lack of a dipo-filter way back when, I was not very well liked. And it didn't help that I was not pretty either. I had the scraggly hair, the pop-bottle glasses, the braces and the zits! I was all the way at the very bottom of the social ladder in every grade in every school.

Now, I'd love to say that when I hit High School everything changed. But, it didn't. I was beaten, I was teased, I was everyone's punching bag through those years.

At school dances, I sat in the bleachers, crying most of the time, because no one would dance with me.

At Football games, I stayed behind the bleachers on the outskirts of the popular kids, hiding myself in the shadows to avoid being detected.

It wasn't until I got my driver's license that I could go off and do my own thing on Friday and Saturday night, that I felt remotely normal. Of course, this alienated me further from the popular crowd, but by then, I just didn't care.

When I turned 18, I left the small-town and the kids who had tortured me and never looked back...


My 20-year reunion rolled around.

I wanted to go, I did. I had this grand plan in mind to have my revenge on all those kids, now adults. And it would have been absolutely priceless -- at least in my mind because now-a-days, not only am I a writer and can kill them off in my books one, by, one in the most horrible ways imaginable, but in my real life...I work for one of the most feared government entities around.

But, I didn't. And here's why I didn't.

I thought about all those days of my past. All those times I wanted to stand up for myself and say, "Why? What did I ever do to you?" but hadn't. I thought about and wondered what their lives are like now and compared that to what I've made out of my life and I realized something.

I realized that, yes, I was beaten and teased and tortured, but *I* am the better person. I am stronger because they made me that way. I am faster on my feet, I'm more likely to stay calm when faced with confrontation and I'm not bitter about those years.

Ok, maybe I am just a little bit - and that's why some of my classmates end up as Antagonists and/or villain's in my books because I draw on those experiences - but I'm not a mass murderer nor will I ever become one.

My point is, for all of you out there, right now, being bullied and feeling like it's the end of the's not.

I am living proof that just because you're different, or you're fat, or you've got bad eyesight, or you're smarter than the other kids, these years are just the beginning of your life!

It will get better! It will end!

And guess what, YOU will be stronger for it, if you hold on just a little bit longer...

I'm not saying, don't stand up for yourself now. Please, if you can, do so. I'm not saying don't get help. Go to your parents, go to your teachers or a trusted adult and tell them what's going on!

But, don't think the only way to end it, is suicide. It's not. Taking your own life will do nothing but start the proverbial clock over again and who knows, next time you might come back as a cockroach or something and then where would you be? Hmmm?

No where, except crawling around through the muck and mire to scrounge for food! Not a very appealing thought, is it! I didn't think so either, which is probably why I survived those years and came out on the other side, relatively intact!

I'm not totally intact though, I am an Author after all and completely nuts -- you have to be to do what I do -- but the point is, there is Life After Being Bullied! And I hope this little glimpse into my past can help one of you realize it too...

I'd love to know, though, from those of you out there, were you bullied back in the day? How did you, or do you, cope with it? Have you confronted your bully today and said, "Neener, Neener! You tried to keep me down and look at me now!"

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Until next time.

Margaret Taylor

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

My Two Cents on "An Honest Look At Self-Publishing" by Willow Cross...

So, most of what I'm going to post here today comes from the most awesome Willow Cross. I met Ms. Cross through Facebook and like most of us we formed a common friendship in our efforts to Take Over the World, MUHAHAHAHAHA!

Ok, that's not the whole of the bond, but you get the idea...

If you'd like to join us in this endeavor, head on over and just give her page a like (linked above) and then join our quest to get to 4,000 Minions!

Anyway, she posted something interesting on her blog the other day, An Honest Look At Self-Publishing and I thought you folks here might enjoy it too!

Now, in her post she dispels a lot of common Myths about what we do as non-traditional or Indie Authors and I really liked it. It's honest, funny and oh so very true!

But, I wanted to add in my two cents worth too, so here goes...

1.  I can quit my day job because the book is live and sales will be more than enough to pay my bills.

Ms. Willow says FALSE and I couldn't agree more!!! Now, is that to say that isn't the end goal of this? Why, sure it is! I love to write and would love to be able to write full-time. But the honest reality of it is, like most, it falls squarely on *my* shoulders to pay the bills and that requires a...*shudders* day job that isn't full of fantasy worlds and hot smexy book boyfriends...

2.  As soon as my book releases, my reader base will grow exponentially.

Ms. Willow and I both agree. This is 100% FALSE! It's taken me and her I'm sure, months of interacting on Facebook, Twitter and the various Yahoo Groups to which I belong to build up any sort of realistic fan base. And even then, you have to consistently maintain it! You have to be around, answer emails, interact with those fans that *have* taken the time to like your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter and reply to the numerous emails you get on a daily basis.

TRUTH: If you *do* this though, if you "hang out" on Facebook, or at the very least respond to posts on your timeline and Author page, tweet and re-tweet stuff, they will come. It's a matter of time, fortitude and patience. AND giving your fans something to talk about. This means along with the interaction, occasionally give them something, anything book related.

This does NOT mean spam the bejesus out of them though! Even I, as a reader get tired of seeing "Buy my book, buy my book, buy my book..."

3.  My friends and the people on my fan page will share all my links and soon everyone will have heard of me.

Again, Ms. Willow and I are of the same mind. This is FALSE, especially with all the changes going on with Facebook. Now, I've 'ranted' about this, as have many others, and at this point, all we can do is find those ways to work around the algorithms FB is constantly jacking up! This is not as easy as it sounds, but we're slowly figuring it out as we are so many others. At this point, the best thing you can do, if you truly want to see what your favorite Author is posting, once you've liked a page, hover over the like button and check the "Get Notifications" feature. This does not always work 100% of the time, but it's a start! And I thank you if you do that on my Author's page, I really do! ;)

4.  I have hundreds of authors on my friend’s list.  They will help me get the word out!

This couldn't be more FALSE! Like a lot of other Authors I interact with them too. I respond to their posts on my Newsfeed, I enter their contests, I donate to their contests. Would I ever, EVER ask them to pimp my work? No, I wouldn't. They have their own work and promotions to worry about and like me, may and/or may not have a lot of time to do it in. Me, asking them to pimp me, isn't fair. Now, that's not to say I won't <3 them forever if they do, but still, I would never ask...

And honestly, most of the other Authors that share *my* stuff, know I'll do the same in return. I've proven that I will, that I don't mind sharing their news, attending their release parties, blogging their releases and cover reveals, and entering/donating to their giveaways! It truly is a tit-for-tat kind of business we're in and you have to be prepared for that...

5.  I have 150 NYTs bestselling authors on my friend’s list.  I’ll have them read and review my book!

Again, quite FALSE! And besides that, I would never, EVER do this! Now, if they ask me, totally different story, but that's never happened and is not likely too. I have no expectation of it and neither should you. Not at the start at least.

Now, that's not to say I think they are any better than me. They put their pants on one leg at a time, just like me. What I do know is, they've paid their dues in this business and while we both may work an equal amount to polish our work, tighten it, get it out to the world, they have just been doing it longer than this point at least.

I will say, the ones I've interacted with so far though have been super nice and patient when I have a total fangirl moment! (And no, I won't drop any names *cough* Jill Slavis *cough* Lori Foster *cough*, other than to say I love them both and I am truly, first and foremost, a fan! :D )

6.  My book cover is good enough.  People will read the blurb and know what it’s about.

Oh no no no! Please do NOT be this deluded when you start your journey into Indie Publishing. Please, just don't. Your cover is the first thing and sometimes the ONLY thing a reader, potential new fan will see of your work! So, it has to be as eye-catching as you can make it! And it truly does need to fit the story.

For example: If you see the Spi-Corp covers, both the ones that are currently out, Book 1 & 2, you *know* they are Science Fiction at the very least. They just have that feel to them as will all 18 of the books in the series. And I just heart Carey Abbott and S Cu' Policar for all their hard work on them! Without them, I couldn't do what I do! Trust me!

7.  I don’t need an editor.  I got good grades in English and I have spell check.

Again, please do NOT be this deluded! You need an editor! Something I found out the hard way but, I'm correcting! Just be patient, m'kay??

8.  My book is awesome.  Good reviews will pour in and that will sell my books!

Oh boy...

Yeah, this is probably the worst expectation you can have, especially if you're going to self-publish! Now, don't get me wrong, reviews are helpful and I love all my readers who post them, I really do. They let me know where I might have messed up and I always take them constructively, I really do!

But...the only real time they help you *sell* your work, on their own, is if Amazon or B&N or Smashwords or aRe pick them up as a positive sign and start helping you promote. But, realistically, this is way down the line...for most of us.

Now, is this to say the exception doesn't happen? Of course it does, but are you likely to *be* that exception? No, you're not. Am I? Nope. I haven't been, but that's ok. I didn't step onto this path with that expectation...

In conclusion, the reality here is that you *must* keep your expectations low and realistic. Don't expect to sell a Million copies right out of the gate with your first book. (Celebrate it if you do, but don't count on it!)

And if you simply must have numbers, set them in a range you can live with. (When I started, I said to myself, if I sell thirty copies of my first book in the first month, I'm happy. Did I? Actually, yes, I did. Was I happy? I was ecstatic!)

But, most of all, have fun. Enjoy the success that you published that first book, no matter how good or poorly it does. And if it does do poorly, do your very best to figure out why.

If you don't meet your realistic goals, ask yourself, IS IT THE WORK? Or, is it the cover? The blurb? What?!?!?!

Poll people. Ask for advice from other Authors and take that seriously when they give it. But, do so respectfully. Don't demand their help, ask it with  a "Hey, if you have a minute...could I get your opinion?" And if they say no, do NOT take it personally because it probably isn't. Most likely it will boil down to they just don't have the time to help. (And honestly, most will say that...)

Anyway, that's my two cents - ok, this blog turned into more like a half-dollar's - worth of advice on Self-Publishing. Feel free to use it, or don't. The choice is yours...

Until next time!

Thanks as always for stopping by.

Margaret Taylor