23 April 2017

This was me on Facebook yesterday, having a meltdown:

I had just finished combing the manuscript for those last, buggery, infuriating typos, and was DONE. Finally. The sucker was ready to be formatted, and I was preparing to send the final draft to the editor. the Spouse Thingy has a week off work starting Monday, and I was primed to take a few days off as well. Perfect timing.

But then I started the email to which I would attach the file, and realized there were 3 versions of the book sitting in my Dropbox folder.

And then, to my horror, I realized I had been working from all three at different points, all because I often have a case of Teh DumB. Every day I'd sit down and open Word, click on the file name in the main page, and work. Like a normal person, right?

Eh. The mistake was all on me. I wanted to blame Word for saving different files, and I wanted to blame Dropbox, because why the hell not, but looking at it, it was me.

It looks like this. Wait for this.
When you save a file to Dropbox, it saves to your hard drive first. Then it synchs to Dropbox. I know that.

But I was not paying attention the 2,974,984 times I clicked on SAVE while working. So a lot of the time when I worked at Starbucks, I clicked on SAVE, watched as Word saved the file, and then closed the lid to the laptop.

Here's the thing, boys and girls, learn from me: there's a little Dropbox icon in the Windows taskbar. DON'T SHUT THINGS DOWN UNTIL YOU SEE THAT LITTLE GREEN CIRCLE WITH THE CHECKMARK. If you don't see that, if it's a little blue circle with roundy arrows, it's still synching.

I wasn't paying attention. So Dropbox patiently waited for me to be near a WiFi connection again with the freaking lid open, and then saved the document with a new file name.

So I screwed up. And whined. And in whining got great advice and learned how to compare documents with Word. Well, two documents, and I needed to compare three. But the upside is that I learned how to do it, and in poking around realized I could do two at a time and then worry about the third later.

And HALLELUJAH, when I sat down to get it done, I realized the only differences occur in the first 40 pages. After that, other than a few stray commas, all three documents are the same.

So what I thought was going to take 3-4 days only took 2-3 hours.

I'm still taking one more pass through, just in case, so I won't be sending it to the editor until Monday, but...for all intents and purposes, FORKED is done.


19 April 2017

Dear Lady at the table next to me:

Sorry, I wasn’t intentionally eavesdropping, but you were a little on the loud side, so it was unavoidable. And I get why you were loud: you were an excited kind of upset, and people tend to ratchet up the volume when they’re upset.

The thing is, what really caught my attention, is why you were upset. Your 28 year old baby boy asked a girl to marry him and she said yes, and you cannot fathom how this is can be happening. Not now. You haven’t met her, and you’re pretty sure you won’t like her. Why not? Because. Just because. And you’re pretty sure that she’ll have to win you over, earn your trust and your love. The whole thing just upsets you, and you want it to stop.

Lady…you’re doing it backwards.

Love her before you meet her. Trust her right from the start. This is the woman your son wants to spend forever with, and a few days beyond that if he can. You are not and will never be and never should be that woman; you did your job, you raised him, and I’m going to go out on a limb and presume you did a pretty decent job of it. Your son is a good man, right? Of course someone is going to love him and want to commit to being the other half of his soul.

That’s a good thing.

It’s not a competition. He doesn’t love her more, and doesn’t love you less—he loves you each differently. And this is the thing that stands out most to me, because I’ve been in that position: the boy I gave birth to became a damned fine man, and he met The Girl and fell in love. From the moment I knew about her, I liked her. He was smitten and she liked him back, and that's all I needed to know.

From the moment I saw the light in his eyes when he mentioned her, I loved her. How could I not love someone who clearly made him so happy?

And when he asked her to marry him, I was thrilled. She brings out the best in him, and he wants to be the man she deserves.

Your son is probably a lot like mine. He has good taste and great judgment, he surrounds himself with wonderful, loyal friends; the woman he marries will be worthy of him.

If he loves her, how can I not? And better still, she obviously has great taste and superior judgment, because she chose him. If she loves him, how can I not love her?

I was right, too.

If you make her earn your trust and then your affection, you’ll have wasted so much time and the hard feelings you create might not ever be soothed. You'll miss out on so many wonderful moments, waiting for those feelings to come. And it really will be you on the losing end; you'll be on the outside looking in, by yourself while they move forward with their lives.

Respect your son; if this is the woman he loves, and she loves him back, then this is the woman your heart needs to be open to.

Respect yourself; you did a damned fine job raising a good man, you taught him to make good choices.

And if nothing else: she loves your son. She loves your son. That should be enough.

Lead with love. Everything else will follow.


8 April 2017

This is going to sound bitchy, and maybe it is, but...

Look, I know there are tons of places online where people can download books and music and movies for free. But seriously, don't ever brag to me about how you have all of my books, and you got them for free a X's website. I know you think it's a compliment--hey, you have everything I've published--but the truth is that it just pisses me off.

Think about it. You have a job, right? How would you feel if you went into work and your boss informed you that your work output is pretty freaking good, but since he can basically get the same thing elsewhere for free, you're not going to get paid.

When you use those sites to get my books, I don't get paid. Anything.

As it is, what I earn from most legal downloads amounts to 1 cent per page. That's it. One cent. If you get books via Kindle Unlimited, I get less than one-half cent per page read. Seriously. It usually hovers around $0.0047 per page read. That, at least, is a legal avenue, even though it sucks on my end.

I appreciate that you're reading my books, but people, it is my work. I spend anywhere from six months to a year on a single title; I work more than 40 hours a week. It's my job, as much as the place you go to every day and work is yours.

No, it's not like borrowing a book from the library. Libraries purchase books at set prices and writers get paid based on those distribution agreements.

No, it's not like borrowing a book from a friend. That friend might lend the book to 2 or 3 people; file sharing disburses it to potentially millions. Every time you take a file that is not specifically offered by its creator, without paying for it from a legitimate sales source, you're denying its creator fair wages.

There may come a time when I offer specific titles for free, but that would be by my own choice. I have not, nor will I ever, authorize someone else to distribute my books for free. In fact, if you're getting them in digital form from any place other than Amazon, you're getting a pirated copy.

Don't be that douche who feels entitled to other peoples' work just because some other douche ripped it off and put it online.

And if you are that douche? Don't brag about it to me. My book or someone else's, it doesn't matter. I won't be amused. I won't think you're clever for getting it for free. I won't be impressed.

And truthfully, it's not just about the money. It's about respect. If you're downloading pirated material, you don't really have any respect for its why would you then tell me about it, and expect me to be all right with it?

This isn't anything new. When my first book was published, it wound up being download 25,000 times before the file was taken down by the publisher. Theoretically, those downloads represent $100,000 in lost income, based on my contract I had at the time. This was before e-readers were really a thing; people accessed the print file and shared it as a PDF. It's considerably easier to do now, as the digital file is easily converted to a variety of formats, and I don't allow DRM on my books.

Why not?

Because those who do buy the books should have the right to move them between their own devices. They should be able to share it with a few friends.

But holy hell. Don't ever brag to me that you downloaded it from a pirating website. I will never look at you the same way after that.


5 April 2017

He spent a lot of time last night laying there, staring up at the top of the china cabinet.

He wants to jump up there--Buddah does all the time--but he knows he can't quite make it anymore.

Worse, he remembers when he could do it, because it wasn't all that long ago.

Now the house is cluttered with things he can use to get to places he used to be able to jump without any effort. There's a cube by the bed, so that he can get up to nap or to bug me as I sleep. There's another cube by my desk for him to use to get onto the cat tree that where he lounges while we work. Buddah's favorite tree is on the other side of the kitchen counter, and Max uses that to sneak up there and steal Buddah's snacks; he hasn't been able to jump from the floor to the counter in over a year.

I imagine there will be a day soon when we have to get shorter things, so that he can get onto the cubes that allow him onto the places he likes to be.

But there's nothing I can do to help him get to the top of the china cabinet, where he seems to want to be right now.

There's also nothing I can do to help him get from the top of his cat tree in the spare room to the top of the wardrobe, where he loved to hide. Now he lounges in the middle of the floor in that room, reasoning, I think, that it's his room. Buddah rarely goes in there; I rarely go in there. So it's his room, and if he can't get up high, he's going to take up as much floor as he can.

He's still healthy, but his age is really starting to show; in roughly 8 weeks he turns 16, the oldest cat I've ever had. I have no doubt he'll be around for that, but beyond? I'm honestly not expecting him to see 17.

This isn't a weepy kind of post; don't worry about him yet...I just want to prepare those who have followed him online since he was three years old. He's not just getting old now; he is old, and his days are more likely numbered in weeks and months and not years.

Right now he wants me to open a can of gravy-laden gooshy food. If he doesn't like the flavor, I'll open another one. And of course I will, because old men should have what they want when they want it.