Friday, April 5, 2019

Dear Daddy,

You've been gone for two years now, as of Tuesday. We still dream about you, see signs of you everywhere. The loss still hurts, but your random messages help us through. I see all of your 'elevens', the angel numbers.

Your mother is overcoming pneumonia, at 96 she's still part part sugar, part solid rock. She scares me when she sees you in dreams. I know how much  she misses you.

Your brother Arnold is fine. I watch him especially carefully, and now I can see the ache in his bones when he walks.

Mom and my sister are fine. Today I found them the perfect apartment--only twenty minutes away from me, in a community built for convenience with a bus stop outside and a shopping center next door. There's a grocery store, a clinic, an optometrist, a bakery and much more. The apartment is on the ground floor, so Mom never has to worry about stairs or if the elevator breaks down. Oh, and it's huge!

I have a new job. It's part time and intimidating. I like it. It allows me unusual freedoms--like allowing me to make my own schedule, so I can help mom and Jody move and I can help take care of things. The troll is working too, so we're okay.

Your loss was so painful, so profound. I remember who reached out, and why. Now I use my experience to reach back whenever I can. It's odd how something so terrible can bring so many interesting and wonderful changes. We're recovering. We're growing again.

I'm still trying to write, but these days it's mostly editing. I know now it will be okay. I know soon things will be as normal as they can be in light of the circumstances. I know someday soon, I'm going to breathe again and I'll find the peace I need to create once more.

You may be gone, but you'll always be a part of us. We're already recovering our strength.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Earth to Thoeba: The Goth Returns

Earth to Thoeba: The Goth Returns: The red with the black tips. I'm catching up with Melaida and Rita. Twenty years have passed since high school, but it's so good...

The Goth Returns

The red with the black tips.
I'm catching up with Melaida and Rita. Twenty years have passed since high school, but it's so good to have them close, just so we can lunch together and bounce ideas around. New jobs, new renovations, but for me? I need new inspiration.

"I'm in a rut." I tell them. I haven't written, edited or even opened one of my files in a few weeks. Why?

Is it because I'm tired? Been off for three weeks. Is it because I'm still grieving? No. My heart has settled, and I'm dealing. Is it because it's January, and everything is cold, dark and dreary? Maybe. Everyone around me feels that too.

My birthday is around the corner, and there's a new meme circulating on Facebook. It wants to know how we AGED.

Oh dear God, if you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In or Instagram you may have noticed that there aren't many pictures of me. I don't like how I look. I have an oval shaped head. I have acne in my wrinkles and Rosacea on my acne scars. My dislike of sitting in a hairdressers chair means I frequently need a haircut. And I'm bored with blonde, I only keep it now because it's easy--

"You're bored with blonde?" Rita asks. "Do you have a different color in mind? What did you feel confident in?" We talked about the red. We talked about the red,black and blonde and how hard it was to maintain. We talked about the red with the black tips.

Remember the eighties? All those wild hair colors? I remember wishing I could wear them, but I was too young then and I wasn't really allowed. And I wished I could do that now.

"Why not?" Rita asks. BECAUSE, I tell her. I'm almost 47 years old. It's going to look stupid. When I was seventeen, I saw a thirty-something soccer mom in a Metallica T-Shirt, and it insulted my eyes. I knew her too....No way that women owned a Metallica album.
     "People like you can still pull that off." Melaida says. "Some people still have that spirit with them, and it doesn't look silly."

I thought of an old friend of my husband's, who envied my metal shirts. "Why don't you wear them?" He asked. I felt like I was too old for them, I explained. I was afraid of looking like I didn't belong in them. "But you do." He said, "Those are your bands. That's part of who you are."

The more thought I give to all this, the more I became convinced that I am denying my true self. I'm in a rut, because the real me has to bust out. So here's what I did...

Holy shit...I feel pretty!

You know what? It's exactly what I needed. I needed the bright hair and the shouty black lipstick. I realize now, I'm not comfortable with looking normal. It makes me feel frumpy. I don't see me applying for jobs or hanging in pubs looking like this, but it feels good. Yeah, I've grown older, but who says I have to feel or look old?

I can honestly tell you that this is the very first time since I had my photo taken professionally that I've liked a picture of myself. Oh, it feels AWESOME! I feel like I can conquer those worlds I love to blurt through my fingers. I'm excited to be myself again.

If you'll excuse me, my blue hair and I have some snarling, sassy bitches to create.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Earth to Thoeba: Contest Wnners!

Earth to Thoeba: Contest Wnners!: Cover by Emma Hibbs. Thank you everyone for participating in my contest! Please know that I deeply appreciate all the exposure you have ...

Contest Wnners!

Cover by Emma Hibbs.
Thank you everyone for participating in my contest! Please know that I deeply appreciate all the exposure you have generated for Her True name: Volume Three. The publishing details have been fixed, we're good to go. I apologize for the delay.
Get yours here:

The winners of this contest are no surprise. These people are already supportive of my work on a continuing basis, so it is no great shock that they won. I'd still like to thank my friends, neighbors, writers, a few strangers, and I DID notice people from my hometown of Fox Creek, Alberta came to bat for me too. THANK YOU.

Winners will receive, as promised, paperback copies of Her True name: Volumes One and Two. (The special edition.) Winners have been notified.

Winner #1 is: Michelle Ashley Gordon. She actually managed to talk a couple of her friends into buying Chasing Monsters while she was at it. She had more than double the entries of anyone.

Winner#2 is: FULL DISCLOSURE....Winner #2 is Jody Lean, who is my younger sister, so she doesn't count. Well, she does--She's always so supportive, but I'm going to give her copies just because. And that means the person with one less post than her is Kevin Warren. He is Winner #2

Winner #3 is: Is one of my new readers, and he had only one less post than Kevin did. Congratulations Aaron Jeffrey

Thank you to every last one of you for participating and I hope you all had a fantastic October Halloween Month. Now that October is over, I am returning to the Graveyard shift. I'm going to rest peacefully now that this is all done!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Earth to Thoeba: Reasons to Hate Self-Publishing and How to Fix The...

Earth to Thoeba: Reasons to Hate Self-Publishing and How to Fix The...: Check the cover size before you publish. With traditional publishers locking their gates against new talent, self-publishing has become ...

Reasons to Hate Self-Publishing and How to Fix Them

Check the cover size before you publish.
With traditional publishers locking their gates against new talent, self-publishing has become more popular than ever before. I'm writing this blog in the interest of turning my embarrassment into something useful for independent authors such as myself, or maybe you're just curious. I don't have all the answers, just the few I found in my latest misadventure.

First and foremost. I despise numbers. I don't just hate math. I abhor it with every nerve in my grinding, sensitive teeth. I don't have dyscalculia (Number dyslexia) so much as I have a mental block brought on by a vicious grade two teacher who used physical violence and humiliation to help her students learn better.  I'm sharing this because it might explain why I react to large numbers with hyperventilation, panic and sometimes rage. It might also explain how I made some unfortunate mistakes.

Mistake #1 I chose the wrong cover size. Createspace offers several options in both inches and centimeters. The SMART thing to do, when in doubt, would have been to check previously published novels to compare. I don't really understand inches, but the centimeter numbers were too large. I panicked, and I chose the 8.5x11, because I knew that was about as large as a page, in my mind. I actually needed 5.5x8.5.

Createspace warned me. They told me my formatted manuscript didn't fit my 8.5x11  cover and I still didn't clue in. I had Heather Savage reformat the file. Createspace begrudgingly accepted it, sending me a passive aggressive message about how they 'fixed' the files for me to meet their requirements. Everything else was fine, so I placed my order for print books.

It wasn't until the books arrived that I realized my mistake. Too late. Since these books are Print on Demand, that means they were custom printed for my order alone. No refunds. So now I'm stuck with eighteen paperback novellas the size of a children's coloring book. Did I mention that I accidently ordered double because I didn't think the order went through the first time?

The bright side: Because they are Print on Demand, there's only eighteen of them. Could you imagine a warehouse full of those?

The solutions: I offer them as 'Special Editions', because they're still cool looking, and they're going to be extremely rare when I pull them off the shelf. I call Createspace and speak with a human. The worst is confirmed. Since there is an ISBN attached to that particular edition, I have to START OVER. New file, new ISBN code, etcetera.
No need to change the cover. Whew!

Here is when being Canadian comes in handy. ISBN codes are free in Canada. All they require is that you keep them appraised of your publishing dates and when you sell a certain amount you must send copies to their archives. They give you these codes with the promise you'll pay your taxes on the profits.

I logged in and marked Her True Name: Volume Two as 'Cancelled'. Then I reapplied for an ISBN for Her True Name: Volume II and marked it as 'Forthcoming'. It worked.
During this time, Createspace had sent several notices that they would become amazon/KDP, and if I didn't move all my files over, they would be moved for me. So I went ahead and moved my previous novels over, intending to start HTN:V2 with amazon. How different could it be?

The cover file didn't fit. Createspace had demanded a PDF file, then they demanded a PDF file below 32 MB. Emma did a great job of adapting, switching to a PDf at 1000 pixels without compromising the integrity of the cover, but KDP didn't want it. The result looked like a postage stamp centered at the bottom of the page.

Fortunate happenstance. Before that happened, I had sent KDP an email because in addition to my ISBN number, KDP required a number that proved I PAID for it. Um...A quick google search told me to just re-enter my Canadian ISBN, and it will be recognized. Whew!

Just then, my phone rang. It's KDP with the answer to the ISBN. Do I have anything else I need help with? HELL YEAH, since you're here...

KDP customer service is far superior to Createspace. She put me in touch with a cover designer. He went into my file, and got me to send Emma's cover to his KDP address, where he changed it to a JPEG file. (After all that fuss to make it a PDF...) Then he walked me through Cover Creator. This took over 45 minutes and he stayed on the line the entire time. <3

Ugh... I was mad. Why am I doing all this? THIS is what I pay other people for! I don't even WANT to learn this! I just want to write the damned books! What's all this other crap on my cover? Heather Savage, my editor, is right. Sometimes you have to learn things you don't want to, for growth. It exercises your brain. To be honest, I'm glad I did it. And to that KDP rep? I'm sorry for swearing so much. I know I explained I wasn't mad at you, I was just mad, but I hope you didn't take offense. It really was a s simple as you said it was. I downloaded Emma's JPEG cover, and removed the excess titles, fonts and additional texts with a few clicks, and it was my book cover once again.

So I send the new changes for review, confident that everything is fine and I'm done.

More mistakes? I check my email a couple of days later to see if I'm back on the shelves, and I am greeted by another message from KDP. It basically says, "We can't publish your book. The pages are in the wrong order." WHAT?! How is that even possible from a digital file?! The email came with several suggestions and links, and it also suggested I check the trim, counting my pages and calculating them against this OVERWHELMING number that was about 38 digits long and it included a decimal point and AUUUUGGGHHH!

My editor is in Italy. So I vent to my cover artist Emma Hibbs. Besides being great with art, Emma is also a fantastic writer herself with her own experiences in self-publishing and she has an idea. She needs to go into my file and possibly reformat.
I love you EMMA!!

The solution was simple. They wanted the page numbers on the LEFT side of the odd numbered pages, and page numbers on the RIGHT of the even pages. Page one needs the number on the left, page two requires the page number on the right, etc. That's all they wanted. And Thank God for Emma, and her sweet, calming demeanor. <3

Now Her True Name: Volume II is back on the amazon shelf. You can find it here: Her True Name: Volume Two

If I haven't bored you yet, you must be a writer, and I hope this gives you some insight. This was a learning experience for me, one I hope I'll never repeat. I've also learned to calm down and look for the solutions before I panic. Numbers still suck, but maybe I'll get through this next time without undue freaking out.

Oh...and sharing this blog counts as another entry to the contest. Thanks for indulging me.