Thursday, February 23, 2012

Amazon Breakthrough writers contest.

A few weeks ago I announced that I was entering a contest held by Amazon. The winner gets $15K and a book deal with Penguin Press. I wanted to enter both the youth and general audience categories but unfortunately there was only one entry allowed per person. Instead I entered A Seal Upon My Heart to just the GA category. 

Yay! I made it to the second round. Keep your fingers crossed that I make the quarter finals! For making it to the second round I will receive an Amazon review of my excerpt (and that will be most awesome when I publish the story).  I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mourning the loss of the hardcover book

Will hardcover books one day be relegated to the dusty bins of second hand stores in the same way that old records are? Will our kids say, "Eww these books smell funny?" I was a long time hold out in converting to the digital world. My life is books, words and stories--even before I ever thought about sharing my own stories with the world, I had a near love affair with books. I have no idea how many I have, definitely over 500 and possibly even double that. I have overflowing floor to ceiling book shelves, books in boxes, books in bags, books in the closet. I would love to have a dedicated room just for books which would include a reclining chair and a hidden sound system where I can listen to some chill music and enjoy the feel of an actual book in my hand. 

But Mike Shatzkin, founder and chief executive of the Idea Logical Company, which advises book publishers on digital change says people like me need a reality check. And now I'm beginning to wonder if that's not true.

In a July 2010 article written by Clair Cain Miller for the New York Times she says: 
", one of the nation’s largest booksellers, announced Monday that for the last three months, sales of books for its e-reader, the Kindle, outnumbered sales of hardcover books.
In that time, Amazon said, it sold 143 Kindle books for every 100 hardcover books, including hardcovers for which there is no Kindle edition.
The pace of change is quickening, too, Amazon said. In the last four weeks sales rose to 180 digital books for every 100 hardcover copies. Amazon has 630,000 Kindle books, a small fraction of the millions of books sold on the site."
I can tell you that there are now millions of e-books on Amazon. Near the center of each Amazon book page is a ranking in Kindle sales and then an option to view the top 100 in Kindle sales. It might surprise you to find that included in that top 100 list are some notable Literotica authors such as Selena Kitt. And if you go straight to the top erotic list it will read like a who's who of Literotica authors. Some have reverted to their 'real names' and changed the titles of their stories like Elliot Kay who was known as Bashfullyshameless on Literotica and wrote a Literotica award winning story called Angels, Demons and Alex. On Amazon it is entitled Good Intentions and peaked at 77 on the contemporary fantasy chart. 

In the top 100 in the multicultural genre, you are seeing Brenda Jackson, E Lynn Harris, Sienna Mynx and Me (BIG SMILES) at number 55 for CRASH!

I knew CRASH was something special but I didn't know it would hit the top 100! My top book is STRANDED ranked in all round Kindle sales at 5K. I've looked at the book which was 1 million on the list so being ranked at 5K in sales is pretty cool. 

I know that I couldn't have done this without you guys. I was a slow convert to e-books (both reading them and publishing in that format). And although I haven't given up my love of the hardcover books, I know that digital books give you many more reading options. And just because a book is in hardcover doesn't mean that it's going to be any good. We all know that. Digital books are cheaper, easier to store, and if you utilize the customer reviews you will have less of a chance of picking a bomb--they are a great option for people that have insatiable reading appetites.

With all that said, digital books can never replace the real thing for me. And yes, I still aspire to hold a hard copy of one of my books in my hand. But instead of going through traditional book publishers I am thinking long and hard about self-publishing my own hard copy books through Amazon.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A day in the life of Kim

Happy Valentines day to ME. I bought myself a KINDLE (no, I'm still a NOOK fan) and some flowers, and I indulged in some candy (rare treat, but my sister-friend, Kelly made me a gift bag). I even got a friendship carnation from one of my co-workers and someone special asked me to be his Valentine. It was a nice day.

However, I'm neither a supporter or hater of Valentines day. Some people call it a fake holiday invented just to support the flower industry and to encourage spending. I am of the mind that the intent of this day is to show people that you love how much you care for them and you are a sucker if you spend more than you can afford. A cheap $2 card and a trip to a restaurant is what would satisfy most people (or maybe I'm just talking about myself). 

What's the big deal if there is a day devoted to lovers? It's sweet...however I'm always brought to mind a story I heard a few years ago. An older man killed his wife and adult children because they failed to wish him a happy valentines day. Unfortunately he killed them the day BEFORE Valentines Day. Sooo...I guess I'm saying that I hope you remembered to tell your loved ones Happy Valentines day because you never know how badly someone needs to hear those words.

Good news, I received a letter in the mail that said, "Your second mammogram appears to be normal..." So I called my Mom, of course, and told her that I found the letter to be a bit shady. She responded by saying that I was the only person she knows who has to take good news and examine it from all angles. 

Really now? Why should this letter be acceptable? Is this the new language used by professionals to protect themselves from being sued? What would happen if society adopted this type of response? What if I'm eating in a restaurant and I ask the chef if my chicken is cooked thoroughly and he responds by saying, "It appears to be."

What would make me happy? The letter should have said, "After thorough and repeated testing of your second mammogram, our radiologist specialist have determined that you show no signs of cancer. Now you may dance the happy dance...Oh and we are very sorry that we just sent this information by mail instead of calling you--even though you must have been a nervous wreck waiting for these slow-ass results to arrive and it made you feel positive that it would contain some bad new. No worries, baby girl. You are all good!"

That is what my letter should have said.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dubai Fountains synchronized for Whitney Houston

I saw this and had to share it. It's so beautiful that it gave me chills and I'll admit that I teared up some by the time it got to the end.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

RIP Whitney Houston

When I typed the title to this post, it auto typed the words Etta James, Don Cornelius...and now within a matter of weeks I'm wishing Whitney Houston a peaceful here-after. Ben and I were talking and he says, "And the freak out over Whitney being dead begins,"

I just said, "What?"

"Whitney Houston is dead."

Confirmed through CNN, I was soon to know every bit of minutia about Whitney Houston, including the reaction of people walking down the street of her old neighborhood.

I have no commentary on the use of drugs, no jokes that would belittle what her babygirl is going through, her Mama, the rest of her family--not to mention her fans. All I have is a sense of mortality that at 48 years old her body stopped working. And I'm sad that another talent is lost to the world too soon because of something that quite possibly could have been avoided.

With that statement I will play you one of my favorite Whitney songs; Shoop Shoop. It's from the movie Waiting to Exhale.

Sometimes you'll laugh
Sometimes you'll cry
Life never tells us, the when's or why's
When you've got friends, to wish you well
You'll find your point when
You will exhale...yeah

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What's been going on since epublishing

In November I e-published my first book. I only did it because some fool had stolen my story from Literotica and published it on Amazon. To compound the insult he began getting good Amazon reviews! So after a big headache I accomplished 2 things. I made a new friend in author Kalamazoo707 (whose story Ethan was also stolen by the same person), and I finally began the process to publish my own work.

Now it's February and I've been published for nearly three months. I've received my first royalty checks from both Amazon and B&N and I realize that I will probably not get rich from this (though luckily for me I wasn't writing to become rich), but I find that I really like doing it myself. That's not to be mistaken with I PREFER doing it myself. I'd prefer someone else do it--but since I wanted all my own royalties (minus Amazon's 30%) I have done it all on my own. With help from such authors as Violette Dubrinsky and KZ707, who are already published, I was able to transition pretty smoothly.

Self publishing an e-book is about a simple as it gets. The first time it's tedious because you do have to read everything and try to understand it (best just to watch the tutorial that takes you through the process in 5 minutes and it's real time. Five minutes to publish a book! No joke!), but once you do it once, it's like the proverbial bike. 

One of the drawbacks is that you have to do your own marketing, and you have to rely on word of mouth and good reviews. So you HAVE to put out your A game. I go back and re-edit previously published books all the time as I become more comfortable with the process.

But I still want to be published in the traditional way--you know, the way where you get an advance and are sent on book tours and provided an expense account for researching Italy because your next book is going to be written there but in actuality you are just eating a whole bunch of Italian food and chilling--okay, and occasionally writing. Yeah! I want that kind of life!

Amazon does offer new exposure and has expanded my fan base. But where I write is a very small niche in the big picture. Do 'mainstream' readers cross over into the realm of IR erotica/romance? Not many do, and there seems to be a stigma attached to author's like me; black authors that self-publish in this genre. Some think that writers like me are not talented enough to be published in the traditional way. But in some ways 'we' are more lucky than some of my unknown proteges that try to write 'mainstream' novels without a comfy little niche that 'our' genre affords us.

I believe the publishing world recognizes this genre and respects it even if some of the readers are slow to give it a fair chance. Well, that's my progress report. I'll keep you guys posted on my progress. And thanks again for all your support. Truly, it's appreciated!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

CRASH now available exclusively on Amazon

CRASH is the lasted e-book that I've self-published. But with a slight difference. You see CRASH can be yours for free. Yes, I know it was already yours for free when it appeared on Literotica (but it's not there anymore).
Amazon has something called Kindle Prime. It is a FREE lending library. But it's only for those people that have an actual Kindle E-reader (which counts me out...I still love my NOOK)

You can borrow one book a month from the library...or you can just buy it (smile). Well I make money either way because this programs will give me a share of the big POT of allotted funds for each book borrowed.

-Amazon Kindle

Monday, February 6, 2012

An Uneasy Mix Of Plagiarism And Erotica (repost from NPR)

I was sent this article by a friend. It's from NPR and I'm reposting it (and NPR's is reposted from Fast Company magazine). I'm taking no credit for writing this. This makes me very leery of posting on Literotica. Here is the direct link;

Ferris Bueller inspired commercial

This commercial had me truly laughing out loud. I am a huge fan of Ferris Bueller's day off, I mean obviously--I named my son after one of the characters.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Glee; Artie dances

A lot of you know that I'm a big fan of Glee. My favorite has to be Artie. I told someone before that if I was in high school he would definitely be the one that I'd want to date. It was awesome seeing him in the last episode getting out of his wheelchair and dancing and singing to a Michael Jackson tune. He is not only an awesome singer but he can DANCE!!! It's not the first time he's gotten out of his wheelchair in a fantasy episode--but they don't do it often and so it's a joy to watch when it happens!

Untitled has a new Title!

After a year I have finally come up with a title that is mutually agreeable to both me and my editor/story muse. Ebonywahine sent me a suggestion and I have decided on a variation of it. Several people sent suggestions that I really liked but 'The Muse' is very decisive where this story is concerned (and rightfully so) and so it is with supreme joy that I announce the new name...

A Seal Upon Your Heart

Thank you Ebonywahine for your thesis title suggestion, 'Set me as a seal upon your heart' (I'm going to give you acknowledgments in the book for the title)

I'd like to share my story pitch which appears in the contest and will also be the product description when I self publish the story:

Jane used to have a different name, a different life—but that was before she was rescued from the refugee camp after the Rwandan genocide and brought to the convent to be raised. Now she is being dismissed, told to go out into the world. But how does she do that when all she knows is the convent?
Sometimes she wants to scream, I am a child of Africa! And sometimes she wants to dream about a love that will save her from her loneliness…but mostly she wants to fit in.

Tim Singleton lost his wife to breast cancer less than a year ago and yet the pain and anger is still fresh in his mind. He hates the sympathetic looks from his colleagues and tolerates the invitations from friends with their good intentions. When Corrine died, so did Tim’s faith…so when he received the call from the convent that his wife had focused her charitable endeavors to, Tim isn’t quite sure why he agreed to help the young African girl with a job.

She didn’t quite fit in with the others at the law firm; that wore thousand dollar Chanel suits while her clothes were picked with care from the donation bin at the church.  At nearly six feet tall, the shy girl tried to become invisible in the hectic world around her. But if her ill-fitting clothes didn’t draw attention to her, then it was a beauty that couldn’t be hidden so easily. 

Soon Jane sees Tim as not only her benefactor, but her one true love. But can Tim finally open up and allow someone else to touch his heart? Can he forget their difference in race and age? And more importantly, would being with him mean the loss of her innocence?

Again, that is the pitch used for the writing contest. Unfortunately I won't be eligible to win the entire contest because although I submitted the story in wasn't exactly complete. Bah, they allow you to edit as the contest progresses but as soon as they hit the submission deadline or reach 5K submissions then the editing is cut off. So...there is a chance that they might think it ended where I craftily stopped writing--but with the lose ends dangling beneath the proverbial slip, I don't see where it could win.

But on the plus side, you are voted on more than just the overall story, but also the pitch. And I really like mine, so maybe it will get noticed. But it will take several months to know anything so in the meantime I will be self publishing it sometime in the not-so-distant future. But currently chapter 1 has been submitted to Literotica and as I promised, I will be posting it here for you guys to preview before anyone else gets it--well other than the Library of Congress and The Muse (smile)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Don Cornelius 1936-2012 RIP

When I found out yesterday that Don Cornelius had died I had one of those OH NO moments. The first thing I thought about was how traumatized I was as a kid by that damned soul train line!

Imagine being a black kid in a black family where you have absolutely no rhythm because you are a total geek?! I am here to dispel the myth that all black people can dance--and it was that damned soul train line that 'outted me!'

Back in the day, you couldn't have a family gathering without someone putting on some music and saying, 'Lets start a soul train line!' Then if you were like me you would try to find somewhere to hide (smile) look around there'd be two other kids hiding too. Haha.

But these are fond memories that I have of Soul Train and Don Cornelius with his deep baritone voice and that strange mole he had on his face. He was both cool, and a bit scary. But he was familiar--like family.

So it was with a heavy heart that I discovered that his death was due to an apparent suicide. Maybe I'm shocked because I want to think that a person so iconic is supposed to sit up on a pedestal and be untouched by the personal problems that the 'rest' of us deal with.

But so many times we, as a society, are proven wrong with that idealism, ie Kurt Cobain, Brad Delp from the group BOSTON (his suicide note said that he was a lonely heart), Charles Rocket from SNL (On a side note I watched an episode where he mouthed the words 'what the fuck' at the end of a sketch and was later fired. I always wondered if he committed suicide because of that. There is soap opera actor Nick Santino who, 2 days ago, committed suicide after feeling forced to euthanize his dog by his condo association. There is poet Sylvia Plath, Stuart Adamson from the group Big Country, wrestler Chris Benoit, the kid that played in The Neverending Story II Jonathan Brandis, Ian Curtis from the group Joy Division, Ernest Hemingway, Margaux Hemingway, Michael Hutchins (INXS--may have been accidental), Freddie Prinze (from the show Chico and the Man), Hunter Thompson wrote Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, writer David Foster Wallace tried to wean himself off anti-depressants due to their side effect but it did not work, Virginia Wool and finally on my list is Wendy O. Williams. Wendy was in a punk group called the Plasmatics and was a 'shock performer'. She left a note that spoke very deeply of her own personal convictions on suicide;
"I don't believe that people should take their own lives without deep and thoughtful reflection over a considerable period of time. I do believe strongly, however, that the right to do so is one of the most fundamental rights that anyone in a free society should have. For me, much of the world makes no sense, but my feelings about what I am doing ring loud and clear to an inner ear and a place where there is no self, only calm."
Being unable to cope with depression is not limited to 'regular' people. Perhaps celebrities have it more difficult because of the pedestal that we often try to place them on. The pressures of their success might also contribute to it because if it was a past success, then trying to live up to it must be torture--and if it is a current success, then trying to find ways not to lose it could be all consuming.

Whatever the reasons, I try not to go to a place where I fault or blame someone for taking their lives because I haven't walked in their shoes. My heart just goes out to anyone that is in so much pain that the only way they know to stop that pain is to stop their lives.

Here is my tribute to Don Cornelius as he dances down his iconic soul train line...and he did it much better than I ever did. Can I hear a SOUUUUUUUUUUUL TRAIN!

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