Baltimore

Baltimore.

Back in the 90s, when I was a teenager, it was called The City that Bleeds. A rip on the ‘City that Reads’ slogan we used to boast, and an indicator of the level of violence back in those days.

Today, Yahoo had a story on Baltimore, and though I knew better than to read the comments, I did read a few. And I got angry, of course. Too many people that can’t even find my city on a map have opinions on the liberal government, calling the people here entitled, blaming black leadership when this problem began under white leadership and has carried over from centuries of economic inequality.

I’ll tell you now, the problem isn’t specifically racial. Most people in Baltimore will tell you the same thing, and I even saw several try to tell the national news media when they were here for our ‘riots’ only to be shut down because it didn’t fit the narrative people were trying to tell. Or sell, as the case may be.

I hate when you start talking about my city without knowing a thing about it. I hate when you develop a misinformed opinion based on what you think you know. Just because you watched The Wire doesn’t mean you know anything about this city. You’ve got to live here to understand.

I’ll give a run-down, though. Just to help a little.

  1. We’re way more diverse than the media would have you believe. We’re also way more integrated in most neighborhoods…except the very poorest where the majority of residents are people of color and brown immigrants. That’s a problem that’s echoed in every city in this nation. So…if you live in a city, you’re sitting on a ticking time bomb thanks to the lack of opportunities for the poorest people.
  2. We haven’t had youth programs in this city since the early 90s, when the Police Athletic League was done away with. BTW, that was not done under black leadership, either. When you deprive the youth of safe entertainment and socialization outlets, they will create their own or fall into alternative opportunities that may result in high crimes and/or death. Spend some money on youth programs and I guarantee the crime rates will fall. Idle hands, and whatnot—you know that saying?
  3. There is no future, no community investment, no opportunities for growth and mobility. That leaves limited options. If you’re trying to support your family, where will you go for money? Gangs, when there are no legitimate means. And that goes back to youth programs because gangs recruit early and they foster a sense of loyalty and family the government and your grandma can’t compete with. Oh, and we’re currently working on the second or third generation of this, so kids learned what their parents learned…
  4. Food deserts exist in cities. We have Arabers who carry food into the communities, but we need more. We need more smaller groceries and farmer’s markets, more local produce options and community gardens. Neighborhoods don’t always have good access to markets and grocery stores because space is limited. You won’t find a Walmart close by and lots of people have to buy only what they can carry on the bus, so no savings on bulk like the suburbanites and their wholesale clubs. It’s a problem for nutrition and health, energy and output and has educational ramifications, as well. Kids don’t have enough food to concentrate on daily studies, so we need to be feeding them better in school. Don’t tell me how your kid hated the healthy food Michelle Obama chose for the education system. Don’t tell me how they threw it away and don’t be smug about it when there are legitimate cases of severe malnourishment in poor neighborhoods.
  5. The education is for shit here. They restructured thanks to George W. Bush’s (not liberal, BTW) No Child Left Behind policy, which may have had good intentions, but resulted in children being pushed through the system no matter if they could read or not. America’s literacy rate has fallen, and continues to fall, drastically, dramatically and alarmingly. Wake up, people. Start wondering what your own kids are being taught, and start questioning what the school system may have hidden from you. In my city and the surrounding counties, we are now learning some terrible truths and if you start digging, I’ll bet you’ll find some too.
  6. Entrepreneurship was turned into a dirty word, or just made impossible. Unless you want to open a liquor store, of course. How about spending some money on grants for small businesses? How about broadly advertising SBA programs and workshops to help budding businessmen and women learn about their options and what’s needed to open a business. Get more small boutiques, stores and services into every community to help lift everyone, to create a stable micro-economy that feeds into the larger city revenues. Focus on small and work up, because trickle down really, really doesn’t work.
  7. Which brings me to the politicians. It’s human nature to be greedy and grasping—and don’t try to sputter a defense of yourself, we all have those moments. Unfortunately, too many in power are allowed to have those moments too frequently, and it doesn’t matter if they’re liberals or conservatives, Democrats or Republicans, black or white. They are people, so things universal to human nature hold true regardless of whatever box you’d like to shove them into. Yes they get reelected—what do you expect of a population that has a lowering literacy rate? What do you expect of a population that is told repeatedly that they are worthless and their voice doesn’t matter?

 

And, BTW, why are any elected officials allowed to vote themselves a raise? (Revenue from the speed cameras, I suppose?) A public servant’s pay increase should be a matter of public referendum. How dare you believe you deserve more money for a job well done when we can bury the dead in all the potholes and your own detectives are being killed on the job? How dare you think you should get more money when our kids are graduating with zero proficiency in their school subjects? You think you’re doing well? Let’s take a vote. If we agree, you get your raise, if not, you don’t. It’s called accountability…or theft, the way you do it.

 

Jesus preserve us, for the second time in as many weeks I find myself repeating the words of an evil madman who doesn’t deserve the fame the world afforded him. People are reflections of the society around them. They are what we made them.

You don’t want violence in your cities? Invest in the people. Don’t give them things, teach them things. Provide opportunities and you won’t have to give them hand-outs. They’re not entitled, they’re appeased in the most negligent way the white patriarchy could come up with. And yes, I blame white patriarchy in particular even though many white people are caught in the same system with the same limitations because—from the outset—our system was set up to  accommodate the rich.

Most poor people are white, but most black people are poor.

Think about that.

Honestly, at the end of the day, this is all classist, not specifically racist, but we are appeased by racist thinking because then we of the lower 50% turn on each other rather than put our considerably energy and talents toward rectifying the true problem. The hoarding of resources.

So, the next time you want to form an opinion on a place you’ve never been based on something you saw in the media, but you’ve never heard a single truth from someone who lives there…just bite your tongue and, instead, start thinking about all the ways we could improve the lives of the clearly downtrodden.

Better schools, business loan programs, good nutrition and a focus on the youth to teach them how to be productive citizens. That kind of knowledge doesn’t result on its own, you know. Someone taught you how to tie your shoes, right? Hands-on approach rather than through observation.

Also, you with your opinions, what are doing to make your own community better?

 

That’s my bone to pick…

Is it human nature to isolate?

Is it human nature to isolate? To put yourself into a box, to put all others into a box, to create many boxes and make someone fit somewhere?

Us versus them.

I understand the importance of this concept evolutionarily speaking. Your tribe might have been in direct competition with another tribe for various resources… And we all know we’ve got to take care of our own first, right?

But human society has evolved faster than human brains have. Humans are still hardwired toward selfishness because that greed could have meant the difference between survival and a horrendous death. Those with resources hoarded them in case they ever faced a time when those resources were scarce.

Fuck everybody else.

But we’ve come so far. As a society, as a technologically advancing series of societies, as a global tribe with a greater understanding of each other every day…we’ve come so far. Do you really want to be great? Then you have to lift everyone to greatness.

A rising tide floats all boats.

I don’t believe communism is the answer. I think it’s a terrible system, in fact, because humans are hardwired to be selfish hoarders. Why would I do the work when I’ll get what I need anyway? And if you’re not doing the work and you’re still getting what I’m getting, why would I continue to do the work? Society breaks down.

We definitely need a merit system. But we need a system where we are all accountable to each other, invested in each other and our communities. We need our governments to be accountable too, because that is the purpose of being a tribe. A tribe has to have accountable leaders who care about their people, or at least cares about a people’s revolution enough to work in the community’s interests rather than their own.

This holiday season, let’s try to look at things from a different perspective. Let’s find some compassion, some understanding. Stop the isolationism, work together and break out of those boxes…and maybe then we truly can be great.

Trickling down takes a certain gravity

Drip, drip, drip…does it ever become a flood?

What do the people who think they’re in charge mean by trickle-down economics? They mean that they pass laws that benefit the wealthiest pocketbooks and, in return, the money trickles down…to them. They get money to pass more laws to benefit the wealthiest and the money trickles down again…to them.

We’ll call this the Money Wheel. No, the Economic Cycle… Ooh, no, The Price is Right.

My education focused on social and political developmental issues, things like education (and a rant on that is coming soon) the need for safe roads and youth programs, and also free elections and a multiple party electoral system where no one ideology can gain the majority and those who are supposed to be representing the people are no longer able to represent their own economic interests instead.

We have entered a truly capitalist age in the United States. Currently, we are seeing a massive expansion of corporate interests and protections, but this comes at the cost of resources our country has long valued. These economic changes come at the cost of blessings that we have taken for granted…

Clean drinking water, for example. Silt, oil and god-only-knows-what-else can pollute the ground water to the point that our water treatment facilities are unable to adequately clean it. If they shut down, we’ll have to hope the microscopic organisms don’t kill us first. (Ask around any area flooded after a hurricane, they’ll tell you how nightmarish ‘no water’ can be.) That means, we’ll either poison ourselves with chemical agents trying to disinfect the water, or we’ll get used to the taste of petroleum. Either way, it’s a remarkable change from what we have now, with enough clean water access that we can dig massive holes, fill them up with water that won’t kill us via some awful flesh-eating bacteria, and play in it.

For comparison: I used to live in Africa. If I wanted to play in water, I had to take my chances next to the sharp-toothed wildlife. To drink the water, I walked a half-kilometer, pumped the water into a bucket I then carried home on my head, boiled it and put it through a filter. There are some families over there who must designate one member to nearly exclusive water duty, and it takes hours to get enough to supply the family for the day. Would you like to switch over to that system? Because that might be coming…

The majority of us value our resources and understand that our society is not just capitalist. If so, we’d all be registered as corporations. We wouldn’t care about education, healthcare, food or water. We’d be in the ring every day, fighting for own survival…

A society has other concerns than money, and those concerns must be met. Just look at Maslow’s Hierarchy (and consider where we might be on this scale):

We must balance the things we need to survive into the future with the economic interests of today. Clear air, so we can breathe, clean water, so we can live. The bees are already in danger because of human actions, and they are extremely important to the environment and the way life lives. If you’re not concerned, if you’re skeptical of a need to protect the environment, then you don’t understand the consequences.

Side note: if you’re a Christian arguing against things like climate change and the importance of forest preservation and species conservation, I suggest you take a look back at Genesis, where God creates Adam to be a caretaker of the earth and all things in it. Are you doing your part? When you stand before the Creator on judgment day, neither ignorance nor disbelief will be a proper defense for the way you, personally, probably treated the environment around you.

All right, all right. I’ll put that particular soap box away and come to my point. Trickle down economics is a myth. They’ve been trying to rationalize this lie for decades now, and it still doesn’t pan out. Do you really think that the richest people who have stockpiles of money don’t have enough to hire more people for their corporations? They can invest in everything but people, we’ve got computers and robots and advanced research & development happening every single day, and you think they can’t afford to pay somebody $10 an hour to…what are you going to do for them, anyway? Sweep the floor? They got a Roomba.

It’s a pyramid scheme, and you’ve been taken. Quite frankly, we’ve all been taken—hostage, that is. There is no trickle down, and no, there is no real trickle up, either. There is a small benefit to giving more money to poor people, because they will actually spend the money in their local economies, unlike rich people, who only buy designer brands and fly to foreign countries for handmade specialty items.

We need a radiate out program, instead. (Historically, people in charge don’t like that idea.) Pump the money into the middle class and you suddenly create upward mobility. They will both spend in their local economies and invest in large corporations. We need entrepreneurial programs to help ordinary folks with a vision open their own businesses. We really do need a return to Main Street, and I can see this country clamoring for it.

I saw a comment on a forum the other day about the death of Mom & Pop stores, and how they’ll never come back. But that’s not true. The comment focused on bigger businesses, like Walmart and Target, and the importation of cheaper, foreign-made objects. That has their place, and it’s a valuable one to our society. Everyone should have the right to affordable soap and underwear, right?

But raise your hand if you’d rather shop for something special at a local boutique. Raise your hand if you’d like to buy a handmade piece of jewelry that no one else has—all for a good price from a local artist. Raise your hand if you have a favorite independent coffee shop that suits your personality exactly. How about fresh bread, yummy pastries? Tell me why Farmer’s Markets do so well if Mom & Pop’s have gone the way of the dodo.

This country isn’t all about big business, that’s just what the baby boomers focused on. And, to be brutally honest, I’m getting tired of them deciding our future, when they won’t have to pay the consequences for their bad decisions and tunnel vision.

We are a people. A tribe, a nation. In spite of our differences, we’re all supposed to be on the same side, one team. That’s a functioning society, where we all contribute, are allowed to contribute and respect each other’s differences and opinions and unique perspectives. But, for too long, we’ve been treated like a corporation, with clear favoritism, cut-throat hiring practices and little opportunity for advancement. Now, they’re turning us into cage-match fighters, looking for survival.

So, take a minute to think… Let’s pretend rich people and corporations really do hire more people when they get a kick back from the government. Do you think they’ll hire you? Are you close enough to get a job with them? Are you qualified for a job with them? How do you think the current economic plan that’s making its way through the Senate and the House will benefit you? You, personally. If your answer has a ‘but’ in there, it doesn’t. It won’t help you at all.

Our society needs to balance the economy with other interests. How about healthcare, education, saving our national treasures and reducing crime. All the things we have issues with today are a direct result of poor and/or nefarious financial decisions. We need to stop walking party lines in this country and start remembering that we’re all in the same boat. And the people we trusted with our oars are steering us toward a waterfall.

~~~

That’s my bone to pick…

You won’t always agree, and that’s okay. I’d still love to hear your comments, so long as you can manage to keep yourself respectful, because we all deserve a little dignity. Be human, you know?

Women

I’m going to keep going for another week on the female angle. Mostly because the pond is still rippling with more and more allegations, more women speaking up, more women supporting other women and more men coming to a realization of what women might be putting up with on a daily basis.

First, let me just say that a line has been drawn. It’s about damned time, too. Women are tired and have been tired and sometime in the past year or so, we’ve had all our powerlessness thrown back into our faces, salt rubbed into the wound a few times too many… And we’re beginning to remember that the world turns on us. We are the glue, we are the backbone and we are the future of every generation that’s ever lived.

Sorry if that hurt your feelings, guys, but it’s the way nature intended the world to work, and ancient men decided they weren’t confident enough in the roles they’d been assigned to allow others to lead. (Take a look around and tell me how the last few millennia have worked out for everyone.)

Men are starting to realize that all women have faced harassment solely because they are women many, many times in their lives. You’ve done it too—and the things you’ve said to a woman will have been said to your mother, aunts, wife, and will be said to your daughters and granddaughters. And they were all told to shut up and take it. Don’t make waves, men will be men, boys will just run their mouths…Women have to be strong, you know.

Strong without taking credit. Strong enough to lend face to their menfolk so their delicate feelings don’t get hurt.

Really?

I’m writing an angry rant today because I’ve seen so many bullshit comments over the past few weeks, primarily written by men but also some of the hordes of brainwashed women, too. I’ve seen things about feminazis, liars who waited to come forward…and I’ve read comments about bringing up all the stuff the Clintons and the Kennedys had been accused of.

Well they’re dead, so let’s take them out of the political equation, ‘mm-kay? Also, blah, blah, Bill Clinton. Yup, he should be held to the same standards too. But why not back then? Because American women hadn’t had to wake up to the blatantly offensive things we wake up to today, and a different generation had still believed that keeping quiet was the best tactic for survival.

And maybe it was, but it’s not working anymore. Honestly, it never has worked, it was only a temporary fix, because we might be surviving today, but we’re not letting our daughters or our sons live in their future. We’re evolving, right now, very visibly. The upcoming generations will be so much different than anything we’ve seen in current history, and maybe that’s not a bad thing.

Sleazebags come in all shapes, sizes, colors and political affiliations. Some of these accusations hurt—I get it. It’s disappointing that human beings are not all good or all evil, that they don’t make it so convenient for the rest of us to judge. Pain is on both sides of the aisle now. But we’ve got to face it, we’ve got to uncover the festering wound because that’s the only way we can clean and heal it.

This is an issue of respect. Ask a man how he’d feel if another man went down the street catcalling him, groping him, pressuring him for sexual favors, threatening his career just because he didn’t give out blowjobs any time he was ordered to. How would he feel knowing that there might possibly be someone waiting for him in the dark, near his parked car or somewhere in his house, in any shadowed place, really, and that he wouldn’t just get beaten and robbed by someone stronger, but held down and raped, possibly by multiple men, just because they could do so.

Oh, and when they got raped, maybe they got pregnant too. No matter what health issues are at stake, no matter how old they might be…No matter that they may or may not even have access to adequate medical care for themselves, let alone a baby.

And men are surprised by our reactions. They’ve made jokes forever about how women on blind dates are scared they’ve been matched up with some serial killer. Well, yeah, because the guy in question might be a serial killer! Bad things happen to females who are alone. It’s partly why we pee together.

But we’re at a turning point. Turning points hurt, I know. But every day is a chance to start fresh, atone for the sins of the past, deal with the repercussions that you know you’ve probably earned and move forward with a new perspective and a new dedication to respecting others.

Respect. Seriously.

To finish this angry little rant about the rights of women and the responsibilities of men as human beings who occupy space alongside women, I’d like to share some observations I made while I lived in Africa. (Because women in America are standing up demanding respect, and because many places in Africa are undergoing its own changes concerning respect, too.)

The women (I knew) there are truly amazing.

Pare down all the first and second world bullshit, and you’ll see what women had always been meant to be and do. They lead, they laugh and they love. Unfortunately, most are still under the very oppressive thumb of patriarchy in some manner or another, but these women are the epitome of strength, grace and generosity. Without them, I wouldn’t have done half as well over there as I did.

They break their backs every day. They care for their families and take care of their families, and still have time to care for you, too. They point out what’s wrong with their corner of society, they hold their neighbors to standards of decency that anyone would agree with while simultaneously encouraging a bit of freedom in thought, word and deed. They love their children and their husbands fiercely, they forgive easily, but they also stand as guardians of progress and what’s right versus what’s wrong.

They’re not perfect, their cultures can be very different from anything you’ve ever known, but their humanity is rock-solid, and the same as nearly all other woman worldwide, regardless of ethnicity, nationality or education level. There are simply some morals that are universal.

Women are the keepers of those morals and societal standards, but we forgot that and once we forgot, we had a hard time passing it on to our children. Now we’re living in a time when respect is a rare commodity, internet trolls draw blood on the daily and leading political figures figuratively spit on common folk for no good reason other than greed and egotism.

That’s our line in the sand. There’s a lot of you on the opposite side of that line too, so y’all better hold on to your hats because the erosion of the shit that’s piled up over previous, silent generations has already started.

What’s a Writer to Write About?

I’ve been wracking my brains for blog post topics. It’s harder than you might think and I’m really trying to be consistent with this idea now. Over the past few years, I’ve discovered I’m not very good at sharing my thoughts, not very good at conveying advice in a timeframe that might encourage people to look forward to a certain day. I’m not a blogger.

What can an author write about? Writing, which seems boring. Maybe some paranormal creatures, which is an interesting approach, I suppose. I do that sometimes. We’re not going to write about the plots spinning in our minds because we tend to be a paranoid breed and we don’t want others to write our story before we can.

With everything that’s been going on, I’ve been trying to figure out what to write that wasn’t political nature. That’s turning out to be harder than ever. There’s so much happening, so much destruction from nature and human nature both, so many bad decisions being made, so many people moving away from compassion and empathy, so many damned trolls on a variety of comment boards. In fact, some of these trolls—I can’t help but think—don’t even believe the bullshit they write, but I also think they’re tempting fate by writing it anyway.

What comes around goes around, and that’s a karmic law we’ve all seemed to have forgotten. It’s part of the golden rule of every religion—do unto others… That’s the gist, anyway.

I wonder if people stop to ask ‘why’ anymore. Why do you believe what you believe, why do you feel the way you do, why do you think whatever you think. How many of the thoughts and comments you repeat are really yours? And why can’t you see from the other’s point of view? Is it really so threatening to take pause and examine more closely? Just thinking about something doesn’t imply agreement of, or support for, that idea…

Maybe it just affords us a moment to remember that the other person is human too.

This came through my Tumblr the other day. Maybe there is something to this. Maybe, through all these natural disasters, all the strikes against humanity via terrorism, lone wolf gunmen or everyday assaults against compassion and understanding, we’re building a common, hidden thread of weariness that suggests enough is enough, and it’s time to be people again. It’s time to remember that everyone else is people, too.

Foxes, Bookstores and Getting Organized…

Foxes, Bookstores and Getting Organized…

What do they have in common? Me. That’s about all.

I’ve had a pretty hard summer, to be honest. If I was really honest, I’d admit to having a rough decade but, looking back, I feel like it wasn’t too bad. Sure, I cried rivers, came down with a mysterious illness doctors still can’t diagnose, developed anxiety and depression and a bit of an OCD tic where I repeat words and sentences to myself (thankfully not out loud), I’ve gone from one job to another, been stymied in my dreams, my ambition held back by old men and I’ve broken up with my oldest friend who felt I wasn’t worth the truth anymore—though I was worth asking for that loan…

Anyway.

I look back and think it wasn’t so bad, but that’s only because I came out stronger. It’s amazing how your perception changes over time. Hell, even just the other day I cried, but, listening to other people’s stories I consider myself lucky and blessed and I think they have had a harder time than I…Except maybe they didn’t.

Emotions, motivation, aimlessness, sickness, death…blah, blah, blah.

I’ve been trying to open a bookstore. It’s nearing the time I’d wanted to be open, and I haven’t heard from my lawyer in a month, I’m not a legal entity yet and the place I wanted was sold out from under me by a suspiciously-resistant-to-selling realtor who likes to stand entirely too close to women in basements. The new place I looked at is oddly perfect…except the left front corner of the foundation is sinking and since I pointed that out, I haven’t heard back from that realtor.

No one is talking to me.

Except the universe.

My father always pokes a bit of fun at my term ‘the universe.’ I use it in place of ‘God’ which means my mother and grandmother just call me a heathen. Mmm, for the record, pagan, yes, but not heathen.

Strap yourselves in for some mysticism.

The universe speaks to me through insects—because who doesn’t love creepy crawlies, yeah? Scores of dragonflies and the occasional butterfly, a multitude of ladybugs and moths, sometimes a cricket and rarely a katydid. Ants and spiders, earwigs and silverfish, centipedes and caterpillars…sometimes a waterbug which I’d prefer not to get, and yet, the signs are there and I see them and understand. They really do tell me what’s coming or what to focus on.

So, imagine my surprise when the bugs stopped and the foxes started. Sometimes there were birds, so it wasn’t just me and the creepy crawlies, but believe me when I say the foxes got my attention as nothing else had. They’re so different from what came before.

And I live in a city (well, at the edge). Yes, foxes and even coyotes are everywhere in the US, but you don’t normally hear them calling out in an urban environment.

A fox has been waking me in the night, screaming—but it’s not mating season, so I don’t know what she’s looking for. I feel like she’s telling me to wake up, which fits with the theme of the random bugs and birds that have been knocking on my window all summer long. The day after I first heard the fox, I met two separate people wearing fox shirts. After that, two more fox shirts, a slew of new people named Fox have come to my attention, fox emblems, charms, quotes from people named fox showing up on social media…Foxes have taken over my awareness. It’s  only been a week and a half. Before you start sputtering about coincidence or seeing what I’m paying attention to, this is a very high amount of ‘fox encounters’.

So I looked them up. And there are a lot of truths that have slammed into my face as I did so. Now, in case you haven’t noticed from above, I’m closer to following pagan traditions than anything else, though I was raised Christian—specifically Lutheran. But, I also have a degree in world religions (and politics) so I understand a little bit about a lot of things. I can tell you now that no one has all the answers, and maybe one day I’ll share my theory of the Christian story concerning the Tower of Babel.

For now, let me just say that there are truths and messages coming to me on an urgent tide. Let me also give you a warning. I’ve separated my religion and my politics from my business. Writing books is my business. But I feel like spreading my truth. Like the fox, which can symbolize teaching, guidance, patience (and mischievousness, tricks and definitely intelligence) I’m ready to call out and wake someone up. Foxes have long been linked to camouflage, blending in when necessary, but, also, they know when to leap.

I’ve been hiding and I’ve been hidden. I contorted my life so as not to outshine the people around me, but I’m tired of that. I’m tired of waiting, I’m tired of others holding me back because somehow they’ve gained more influence over my life than I have, and I’m tired of biting my tongue so that my truth doesn’t offend.

But, you know what? This is my real estate. I’ve gotten my house in order and I’ve rearranged this website, hence the ‘organization’ part of the title. I’m ready to move into the next phase of my life, ready to step into my future and I pray it’s better than what I just went through.

I hope you’ll stick around and read what I’ve got to share. I hope you’ll take a look at my books and head over to my new webstore to see if there’s something you like, but if you can’t respect my opinion and my right to voice my opinion, then you may go immediately.

And to all the people personally in my life, it’s my turn now.

 

Realty Rant- Why is this old man blocking me?

So here’s just a little rant (these will be coming with more frequency because I’m tired of being the one who bites her tongue). Older men are making my future quite difficult right now. I’m in the process of opening a community center/bookstore-café, awesome ideas are filling me with excitement, people are telling me they can’t wait, my neighborhood is stoked…

logo

…and I don’t even have a building yet because my lawyer is dragging his feet, another guy doesn’t listen very well and so keeps asking for official government/legislature answers to questions I never asked and don’t need to know for my business, and a realtor is ridiculously stubborn and apparently set against me renting the building.

I have no idea why these delays are happening. I was supposed to have the legal stuff all set up by the end of July, and moving into the building by the end of August. Grand Opening at the end of September near my birthday. I’ve been working on this since February and got massive amounts done on my own then hit the part where I needed help for the rest of the way.

It literally took 5 accountants before one called me back…meanwhile, I had loan offers from 4 banks. How fucking backward can we get? And now I’m told the building I’ve been trying to view again, after twice telling the realtor I wanted to send him a letter of intent—and he told me he would write it? WTF? Okay, whatever. My lawyer and accountant said if he wants to write it, let him. But now the realtor says he’s got a ‘bona fide’ letter of intent and the owners are considering it and I shouldn’t have waited so long…

Dickhead, you waited. Not me. Because you don’t want to rent me that space.

Unless he’s lying, thinking it will drum up my interest, which is equally annoying. The building’s been empty for 4 years, listed by 2 or 3 different realty companies…and suddenly in the past 6 months 7 different people are interested in buying it?

Whatever.

Listen, I’m superstitious, I’ll admit. I wasn’t going to consider this building after the initial showing, especially because I don’t like the realtor. Creepy vibes and all that. I felt unsafe with just him the building. But…then the universe kept shoving me back toward that place. Over and over, so I gave in and started pursuing it for real, and that’s when I hit all these realtor-made roadblocks.

I’m trusting in the universe. Either I get the building or I don’t. It’s either meant to be mine or it isn’t. We’ll see. I know I’ll geta  great place, the one I’m supposed to be in. But it’s still frustrating when other people block your progress, and more so when you were trucking along just fine on your own. It’s even more galling when a man keeps lying to you because he thinks that’s the best strategy…you don’t know me. I prefer honesty.

I also prefer when assholes get the fuck outta my way and let me do what I need. Thank you very much.

Of Frustration and Temptation by Lisabet Sarai

lisabet

Being an author is not for sissies. You pour your heart and soul into your stories. You spend hours of your scarce time and more money than you can afford on marketing. With each new release, you hope you’ll finally grab the attention of the book-buying crowd, that you’ll get the readership and the remuneration you deserve.

If that doesn’t happen (and given the number of people publishing books these days, odds are that it won’t), you’re stuck with the bitter knowledge that all your passion and effort were for nothing. This can be deeply demoralizing, even if you’re not trying to make your living as an author. If you depend on your writing to pay your bills, you’ve got financial anxiety added to your frustration.

I know this frustration only too well. My books receive consistent five star reviews, but somehow I’ve never been a commercial success. Thus, Damned If You Do is a rather personal story.

What would I do if I could magically turn my books into best sellers? How much would that be worth to me? That’s the question my romance author heroine faces when a mysterious stranger shows up waving a contract and promising her fame and fortune, sensual pleasure and the fulfillment of her most secret desires.

All he asks in return is her soul.

Crazy. Dangerous, maybe. But so, so tempting!

DamnedIfYouDo_400

 

Starving author Wendy Dennison signs a contract with a charismatic stranger, exchanging her soul and her body for fame and commercial success. When she discovers her mild mannered agent Dan has a dominant side, she’s forced to choose either celebrity and wealth, or obscurity and true love.

 

5stars

 

My Review: 5 Stars

Wendy is an author struggling to get noticed and hit big. She makes a comment that we all make so often ‘I’d sell my soul for…’ You can fill in your own blank but, as an author, I can totally relate to Wendy’s wish for best seller status. Lo and behold, a gentleman makes her an offer, but not just the fame and fortune kind—he offers to master Wendy. That is, perhaps, even more tempting than the money and recognition combined.

I love Lisabet Sarai’s stories. They are so richly crafted, the characters so real. In this one, Wendy pores over the contract for her soul, negotiating like the pro every author needs to be. She drives a hard bargain, but in the process begins to lose herself and her autonomy. She does top the charts, however fame and fortune isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Damned if You Do is about more than just another Faustian bargain. The hope of every author is burned into the pages, the ambition, the fear and the unlikelihood of ever reaching the heights you’ve dreamed of. It’s also about counting the blessings you have already, appreciating them and enjoying them, rather than focusing all of your time and energy on one thing. And there’s sex—lots of steamy sex that will have you squirming in your seat, and a surprise Dom you can’t help but root for.

BUY LINKS

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Excessica

Goodreads

 

Giveaway!

I will be giving away three $10 bookstore gift certificates during my release blitz, and three free ebook copies of my BDSM erotic romance The Gazillionaire and the Virgin. I will also give a $5 GC to a randomly selected host. The blitz ends June 1st.

To enter, readers must:

Sign up for my VIP email list:  https://signup.ymlp.com/xgjjhmhugmgh

AND/OR:

Leave a comment with their email address on my release day announcement page:  http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com/2017/04/out-today-damned-if-you-do-bdsm-pnr.html

About Lisabet

LISABET SARAI occasionally tackles other genres, but BDSM will always be her first love. Every one of her nine novels includes some element of power exchange, while her D/s short stories range from mildly kinky to intensely perverse.

You’ll find information and excerpts from all Lisabet’s books on her website (http://www.lisabetsarai.com/books.html), along with more than fifty free stories and lots more. At her blog Beyond Romance (http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com), she shares her philosophy and her news and hosts lots of other great authors. She’s also on Goodreads and finally, on Twitter.

Unpublishing Queen Avis

avis 1

I jumped into the story too soon. I had an idea for a cuckquean serial and writing a chapter every week was fun, for a little while. But I didn’t do it right. I was disorganized, without a strong idea of what I was writing or how I would end it. Vague notions…

You live, you learn, right?

I’ve spent the past four months working on Avis. Nothing else has gotten done. Three stories have been halted and more story ideas are piling up. I’ve developed anxiety—some of it because of this book. It’s simply not right and I’ve been turning backflips trying to get it together to update what’s already out in the world.

I’ve ripped it apart three times and put it back together twice. I keep doing it wrong. I want to write a strong story, one that shows the emotional journey of Avis and delves into her psyche a bit. I’m not trying to justify or even rationalize her actions and desires, but I do want to touch on what she likes that might be unique to her (though I’m betting many others feel the same way).

Now I’m taking the fragments and redoing it for real. So, once again I have to let everyone know of delays with this book, and again, if you email me with your order information I’ll gift you a copy of the final version when I get it done. My apologies to everyone, but Avis deserves it, and so do my readers. I don’t want something that’s less than my vision demands out in the world mucking things up.

Readers, Reviews and Reliance

First, let’s get this out of the way. I have a hard time getting reviews. I’m not holding onto any sour grapes about that, though it’s sometime frustrating. I also appreciate every blogger, reviewer and reader who reads, and especially the ones who review. Thank you for taking the time to do that.

That being said…

When I was growing up, an avid reader, always at the library or a bookstore, literally filling shelves and bags/boxes/whatever I could find to hold my haul, I don’t remember reading a single review. Maybe there was a blurb on the cover by an author I maybe heard of. Maybe. I didn’t care, because their opinion wasn’t what I based my purchase on.

I read the back cover of the book. I looked at the first chapter. Sometimes I flipped to the last chapter…I know, that’s terrible. But that’s how I made my decision. I didn’t ask my friends if they’d read it, hell, most of my friends don’t even read picture magazines today, let alone torrid romances when they were teenagers. And I found great books. A few I didn’t like, but generally I loved every book I bought or borrowed.

Now we have online places where other people give us their opinions of a book like we’re all shopping for vacuum cleaners. Does it suck, or doesn’t it? What’s funny is, I’ve never bought a book based on a good review, but I did buy a book based on a bad review—K.F. Breene’s Darkness series and I have bought every single book…all because a reader mentioned a rape whistle in a 1 star review. It made me curious.

Michelangelo-David

How’s that for perverse? Or maybe this…How would you rate Michelangelo’s David? One star for the penis, you trolls? Or 5 stars for the determination of the artist and the beauty of the male form carved into solid rock?

Mona_Lisa,_by_Leonardo_da_Vinci

How would you rate Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa? 1 star because she looks like a bitch, or 5 stars because the painting itself is a magnetic piece of artwork that draws you toward the mystery of the lady’s smile?

That is perverse in a way, right? How can you tell me what artwork I would like? Let me clarify this whole post right now—I have no issue with anyone giving their honest opinion about art, and that most definitely includes any piece of literature, no matter what genre it might be. You didn’t like a story? I’m fine with that. But don’t you think it’s a little weird when other people read the review and think, ‘Whew, glad I dodged that bullet. That character sounds whiney…Not gonna get that one.’

Grammar, okay, I get that. When a review says something like ‘This was really hard to get into because of all the spelling mistakes…’ I know to check out the sample (because let’s face it, some of those people who reviewed wouldn’t know good spelling if the dictionary smacked them in the face). Something like that is very helpful, though. Your opinion, however, should not influence mine.

Let’s take A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. I hated that book. I hated the story, the characters, the settings, the long-windedness…but the ending of that book is, in my opinion, the greatest ending in literary history. Les Miserables is my second all-time favorite novel, EVER. Loved it…and hated The Hunchback of Notre Dame (same author) with a passion that kept me from finishing it to this day. Oh, and I adore Stephen King, except I’ve been unable to finish Pet Semetary every one of the ten times I’ve tried to read it, and I never can get past the first chapter of Salem’s Lot. Should my opinion tell you whether or not you like the story? No, you better read it for yourself.

What if the author is going for some theme that no one else, or few others, picks up on? Does that mean the author’s intent is wrong or unimportant? My own book, My Stranger, was written as an erotic horror. It was written to be uncomfortable, it was written to get the reader hot and then leave them wondering what the hell was wrong with them that they would go off with AJs stranger too…Because I know you would. You know how I know? It’s an almost-true story, based on questions that came up after a woman left her children behind (in that culture, she wasn’t allowed to take them) to live with a man who gave her sexual pleasure because her husband didn’t. And, also, because I was a juror on a case where the girlfriend swore her boyfriend gave her permission to cheat, though he denied it. Inspiration comes from strange places…

My Stranger - 2000x3000Never underestimate the power of a good orgasm. They can be life changing. They can make you stupid. To me, AJs decision at the end was the horror, but no one else saw it that way, in fact, the majority of readers who have reviewed spoke of the ‘mystery’ I’d never intended and labeled the book romance. I went with it because that’s what stood out to them, I suppose… Or maybe they’d already had a preconceived notion of what the story was before ever starting it. And how did that happen? Reviews, perhaps? (you can read the wide variety of them on Amazon or Goodreads)

That’s the beauty of books, the beauty of art—it’s subjective. No two people read the same thing or see the same thing or hear the same thing.

So why does your enjoyment of the story have anything to do with mine? How many times did a movie get rave reviews, but it sucked? Or vice versa. How many books have you picked up based on a bad review and fallen in love with? Or, ahem, vice versa.

You know why reviews are so damned important now? Because Amazon said so. There are perks for getting reviews and a fake sense of competition to foster consumer spending sprees. Because online book promo companies won’t take your book without a certain amount of 4 and 5 star reviews. Seriously, reviews should be a checklist of yes or no answers rather than an opinion column: Was it well written, was it entertaining, would you recommend it to a friend, and then stars can be generated based on those answers.

Hmmm, let’s get to a point, shall we? Every week I do a writing advice column, but this week I’m doing a reader’s advice column. Figure it out for yourself, not just because I don’t get a lot of reviews, but because no one else can tell you what you’ll enjoy. You might agree with 90% of something a reviewer might say, and therefore it seems natural to buy accordingly in this overcrowded marketplace…but that 10% region where your taste and the reviewers diverge can be a glorious, thought-provoking, entertaining place.

But you’ll never know unless you try…

Cream Will Rise

The world is in flux right now. All over the planet, various governments, nation-states and peoples are…well I could make a list, but we all know, the issues have dominated world headlines for a long time already, and I have limited space. Besides, this is about books, not world affairs.

Except…

Authors play a really important role in society. Throughout history, we’ve written truth in a way people found relatable, we’ve fought for change in ways people could empathize with and we’ve warned of factors detrimental to society, whether or not the message was received. We’ve been banned and exalted, we’ve been mocked and admired. We’ve been limited, and we’ve been given free rein to expand however we wanted.

We’ve come through a golden age of literature, and are now hurtling into a faux-competitive unenlightenment period where prices are lowering and trolls are increasing. There might even be new limits on what we can write soon—new censorship. I suppose there’s always backlash against an economic revolution, and that’s exactly what we’ve been experiencing, in terms of authorship and literature. The evolution from traditional publishing to self-publishing. We’ve gone from too few books in the marketplace to too many, both limiting in their own ways, and with new regimes coming to power, who knows what other restrictions may soon apply.

And where am I going with this? Most people consider books a luxury item, and technically they are. Food, water, shelter—those are the necessities. Books, toilet paper, soap—those are luxury items. So why are we paying more money than ever for certain luxury items, and yet book prices continue to fall?

blog

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a person willing to pay a fair price for a good story. It might even surprise you to know that some people out there refuse to pay for a book, and they never have to, thanks to various programs, author incentives, etc. But plenty of other people have posted on this topic already, so what is my point?

 

In the First World, which is where most of us reading this live, we are moving toward a new era. Everybody has their own theories, and God knows I’m no economist, but I see a trend toward artisanship, a return to personal touches and fantastic customer service. Big chain stores are great for some things, but we’re willing to pay more for something special, something handcrafted, something of quality.

With the world in flux, truth becomes its own commodity, as does fiction, entertainment and escapism. Everything you find in a book. This is why authors are so important—in every genre—and many of us are crafting quality items to serve a grand role and not getting much in return, and not just financially. Books push us past our boundaries, they give us the world, a new understanding of ourselves, they help us empathize…the list goes on.

And yes, I believe this is true of erotica, as well. Erotica, which has always been under attack, digs into the human psyche in ways that make many people uncomfortable, laying bare secrets and desires, needs we’re too afraid to admit to. That’s why this genre has always been as censored as it has—not because of nakedness and sex, but because ‘obscene’ has always secretly included ‘things that make you ashamed of yourself.’ With the explosion of Erotica into the light, people finally understand that their ‘deviance’ probably isn’t so deviant, after all.

With all these changes in the world—political, social and economic, we must adapt, as artisans and businessmen. So, my point is, predictions have been made that prices will now begin to race to the bottom, and to some degree, they will. But the cream will rise, as it always does. If you, as a reader, want quality books, you will pay for them, and we, as authors committed to giving you quality books will work ever harder to provide you with entertainment worthy of your time and money. Not every book will be for every person, but the craftsmanship inside the covers will excel to new heights.

A very smart woman I know recently pointed out the difference between a writer and an author. Her definition has to do with honing your craft, and that goes hand-in-hand with my point above, that authors play a very important role in society. I plan to accept that challenge, and I think the majority of readers will, too.

Why isn’t anyone Enthralled?

This book. Dear God, what is it with this book?

enthralled with visions 2000x3000

Enthralled with Visions…used to be Ties of Family. Suck-ass title, I know, that’s why I changed it. The story was simple enough—a psychic medium is hired to investigate a family curse, but instead of dealing with the man who hired her, she gets stuck with his son, a world class skeptic. Except, traveling to the familial estate opens his eyes…and he’s the last generation, so all the shit comes down on his head, and she’s the only thing that can stop it.

Or can she?

Ah, a possible plot twist.

Well, this book was hard for me to write. No, not really…this book was hard for me to organize. I had all the pieces to it written in fine time, but figuring out where everything went was a hell of a process. I moved chapters several times.

It’s also really tricky because I open with a masturbation scene. Why? Nina is tough as nails, a turtle—hard exterior, pulls into herself for protection. Nobody gets close to her. Except, with Michael Marsden, she always gets caught on her back foot. She’s always vulnerable around him, starting with the very first chapter, where she mistakes him for a ghost and pays him no mind while she pleasures herself.

Needless to say, that gives him something of an advantage. Nina never really recovers from her embarrassment, and that opens doors she never expected.

So maybe that’s part of the problem? People read the sample and think ‘No way. No way am I reading this book that starts with sex—Jesus, so cliché!—and not just sex, but sex with one’s lonesome…’

*Ahem, ‘Lonesome’ being a key word*

Nina is lonely, and frightened. She puts up a big front—nothing scares her! She faced down a demon, she handles ghosts and Ghoulies with ease! She can even deal with crazy family members…but she’s terrified of having a relationship, terrified of having sex because she’s convinced no one can handle her kinks, and—most especially—she’s terrified of Michael, because he sees through all of it.

Nina, above any other character I’ve written, needs the emotional connection to another in order to find pleasure. For her, pleasure comes on the threads of pain, there are scenes that walk the dubcon line, but Michael brings out her vulnerabilities. He digs into her from the very first, and keeps on going until she has no other choice but to surrender—her pride is on the line, after all. It’s something of a triple dog dare…but he’s earned a measure of her trust and has offered a shoulder for her to lean on.

enthralledbanner

Nina has a lot of heart. She’s protective and wants to help. She wants to get to the bottom of the Marsden family curse, she wants to set the bloodline free. She does what she must, even when it’s not in her best interests, or makes her uncomfortable…

And Michael? He’s stubborn, but he’s a man who appreciates strength, and Nina has that in spades.

Will you like this story? I really don’t know. I’ve given out over 300 copies of this book and haven’t gotten more than one review on it yet, so I have no idea what hits and what misses in this one. But it is currently on sale at Amazon, so now is a good time to see for yourself. (Um, and if you could let me know whether you liked it or not, that would be awesome!)

thrall

 

 

enthralled teaser

There isn’t a lot of advice about REpublishing your work.

I’ve been editing the first novels I ever released. The Psychic Trilogy is getting updated, and it’s more challenging than you would imagine.

this to that

First of all, my brain balks at having to read them over again. They were my first and I read them a hundred times each—especially Demon’s Bond, about to become Seduced in Dreams. It’s not like it’s my favorite story, I will admit. But it is, hands down, the book I’ve read most often in my life. That’s hard. Let me be honest about that—I don’t want to read it ever again.

But I am. I am reading it, and wincing…and impressing myself. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing back then. I wrote what words came into my head then I used a thesaurus, then I changed everything back to regular words. I mean, come on…a thesaurus? How obnoxious. On the other hand, it did help me broaden my vocabulary, so it served its purpose. (Maybe I’ll write a post on the topic, one day)

I think I asked for ten reviews, and got three or four for Demon’s Bond, which isn’t actually a bad return. They were good reviews. God, for Monster’s Chains, about to become Tempted by Nightmares, I only asked for one, and I got a five star return on that. But then I stopped asking for more, I didn’t even try with Ties of Family (soon to become Enthralled with Visions), and I didn’t know how to promote (I still don’t, but I’m a little better at it. Not great, or I’d be on the NYT Bestsellers list, but better…)

There isn’t a whole lot of advice concerning updating your old books. Sure, there are plenty of posts about cleaning up the interior, or changing the cover. But new titles? I found a few places that tell you to just change them, the metadata (ie how the online bookstores present your particular URL address) will reflect the changes. Hopefully. Otherwise, there isn’t much, as if everyone was entirely happy with their first attempts at publication. Yeah, okay…unless they’re all secretly unpublishing, then putting their updated version back up.

I’ve seen posts warning authors not to unpublish then republish their updates. Some people think that means you’re gaming the system, working your old book into the new releases. So that’s another worry I’ve got on my plate. Authors always have to think about the perception of others, because others’ opinions are what sells books. I’m going to try to upload the changes, even if just to preserve my few reviews, but if things go wrong, I’ll take them off and republish, and worry about losing respect if that issue ever materializes.

prose is architecture

So what am I doing? Cleaning them up, tightening the prose. I ran across this quote—that’s right, I’m not really a Hemingway fan so I hadn’t seen it before—and it pretty much serves as my inspiration. “Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.” I went a touch overboard in the first editions, but I’m not stripping out my description entirely. I don’t write ‘stark’ I write stories you can see, stories you can fall into.

For these books, I want to keep the voice I’d started my career with. I want to honor the place I began, but I want to marry it to all that I’ve learned so far. I don’t want to change the books dramatically, there will be no drastic overhauls. The plots remain, the elements are fixed, but the prose is tighter. Hopefully, it will flow better, seem shorter. It’s always good when a book seems shorter than it is—that means you enjoyed it.

They’re not bad books, I’ll toot my own horn. Sometimes it’s hard for a writer to understand that they do, in fact, have talent. Your book could be the #1 seller in the world, and you’re still going to wonder if it’s any good. You’ll also have the added pressure of wondering if that was the peak of your career, if anything else you write can measure up. Authors live in their own strange, little paradoxical hell.

I’ve created my own hell by choosing to update, but I think it will serve me better in the long run. At least I’ll wince less, if I ever have to read these books again.  I’ve got a lot to do with my Psychic Trilogy in time for the blog tour I want to set up in late September. Just in time to promote these stories for Halloween. They are dark erotica/erotic horror, dealing with demons, monsters and ghosts. They’re hot, they’re compelling, and they’ll be updated.

fb banner freedom