Why Isn’t My Ebook selling?

I wrote a novel in 2010 and have since procrastinated for the past 7 years on the second one.  One thing that has hampered me is the fact that my first book “Sugar Doll’s Hurricane Blues” isn’t doing as well as I had hoped.  I started it as a paperback novel but then read about the immense success of Amanda Hocking and her .99 cent books and decided to self-publish my novel as an ebook. See article here:   https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/jan/12/amanda-hocking-self-publishing

I’ve made a few pennies here and there but not the millions promised in the optimistic articles I read about the author.  Then I discovered to my absolute and heart pounding horror that my book was on Google Search for free!  WTH?!  So I contacted a friend at Google and they looked into it and said that those sites were actually scams and didn’t really have my book and to ignore them.  There was a crazy number of something like 37K readers had previewed my book.  Unbelievable with my $386 in profits from the book so I had a mini nervous breakdown and continued to search myself on Google and other sites.  I also contacted CreateSpace and KDP and they stated that they had not given out my electronic copy.  They do have it on various channels for sale.

Indie publishing is new and it seems to me that writers of non-fiction books do well but then I just don’t know.  I’ve read hundreds of blogs and they all point to social media.  I have used Facebook ads and have paid for the privilege but is liking something buying it?  Not really.  Like the writers who may visit this blog either by accident or curiosity you may ask “Who does a girl have to blow to get some royalities?'”  (You may insert “boy” or your preference for that statement.  This wall or Catch 22 I am facing zaps the creativity right out of me.  Like why spend countless hours writing to have a few of your friends and a few strangers to read it?

For those “the joy of writing makes me feel complete” I respect your resilience.  I was a comedienne for years and as I recall after a performance I would garner some applause.  I am definitely not a joy of writing kind of girl.  I think my novel is excellent.  It’s fast paced and funny, yet romantic.  I read the work of others and have Amazon Prime so I may read even more.  So perhaps one more cog in the machine will help other writers to have their work on another person’s post.  Word of mouth as they say is effective.  If you are like me and scratching your head about your ebook sales then post here and share your story or advice.  If you have real advice which is not of the “just enjoy the process” variety then post here.  If you just want others to see your novel, post here.  Maybe one person at a time we will actually be able to buy ourselves lunch with our novel royalties.  I apologize in advance if anyone is offended by the “blow” comment.  It was a joke and an old one at that.  I didn’t invent it. Happy writing.

Student Loan Forgiveness Scams

So many of us who ventured into the world seeking education came up short when funds were not available.  Many of us applied for student loans.  I applied.  I received and I achieved…until the bill came due.  Entry level jobs did not help me to pay the enormous debt that I had accrued.  As I grew into adulthood and sought jobs I felt always underwater.  Finally in my maturity I have a career and a husband which helps me to be able to pay these loans off after years of ducking and hiding when I didn’t have the money.  I heard about the Public Servant Loan Forgiveness program and jumped for joy!

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that although I had been paying faithfully every month I received a letter from the Department of Education informing me that I was delinquent!  I told the representative about Equitable Acceptance and she laughed.  She said that they have nothing to do with the loan.  She said that they are scam artists who just fill out paperwork I could have done for free myself.  She said that the Department of Education actually handles the loan.  They had not even sent in my Public Service Application which my employer filled in for me proving that I worked for a title one school.

I was enraged!  I stopped payment on the service and ended up paying 3 months back pay to the Department of Education and tried that month to scrape by on leftovers and Netflix.  Now their billing department is calling me like I owe them money.  I told  the Equitable Acceptance representative about the Department of Education’s claims that they were not affiliated.  She compared her company to H & R Block.  She said, “We provide a service to help you get what you need.”  Oh, like an extra payment on my already bloated budget?  The thing is that I did sign a contract for a year.  I will not sign another one.

As stupid as I feel I do not want anyone else to have this same problem, so I am warning you.  I found this great article about it and the writer gives you information on how to do it yourself.  Do be like me.  Duped and in debt.

https://studentloanhero.com/featured/obama-student-loan-forgiveness/

Let me first say that I am originally from a small river town in Louisiana.  I grew up there and had a great childhood surrounded by relatives and friends and an extremely small graduating class (64) in comparison with the nation.  That fact alone makes me friendly.  I am an only child so entertainment has always been from outside sources.  I moved to Los Angeles as a young woman and discovered my “urban tribe” (a group of friends who serve as a a family in a new environment).  I lived there for over 25 years and I LOVED it and thought I would never leave.  I did leave as the cost of living exceeded our salaries and our expectations for our own small family.  I grieved that loss for over a year as we settled down in our new Baton Rouge environment.

1.  People are extremely friendly.

Dallas:   When I got here my first encounter was at the bank.  The teller came from behind the counter to help me to fill out my paperwork from my credit union. She told me about her family, the best places to shop and easy routes from my new address.

When I arrived in Baton Rouge the  service people were rude and short with me and told me off on more than one occasion.

2. It is easier to have play dates.

Dallas:  This place is like heaven for me as a parent to an only child.  When I was in Los Angeles or actually Playa Del Rey I never thought about race or even age.  People would meet up at the pool or the beach or the park and if our kids got along text each other for playdates.  I was happy to discover that it is much the same here in Dallas.  “Hey we are headed down to the pool if you want to hang out.” A new neighbor texted me.  People invite you into their homes and talk to you and befriend you easily here.  We have been to 2 block parties and been invited to dinner by more than one person in our 2 weeks here in the outskirts of the city.

Baton Rouge:  People there don’t usually move and hang out with their own family.  There is a distinct color line and for those who are willing to cross it there is a price to pay.  We lived in our house for one full year before we met a neighbor.  She was black like me and said that while my marriage was weird she was happy that at least I was a teacher.  (She said this to my face.)  My husband is Brazilian so ….uh…okay.  I had never really met a black racist but she told me that she was surprised that I was so friendly with my “white neighbors”.  While we lived in a pristine neighborhood we were rarely invited to the homes of others although we invited others to our home.  The exception was a youth minister who was just cool by anyone’s definition and we showed up and he allowed his kids to play with our son. He is to my mind a true representation to Christ.

3.  People Don’t Ask Stupid Relationship Questions.

Dallas:  People just greet us as husband and wife. We’ve been invited to parties already and have met one gay couple and several religious couples but no one bats an eye at the fact that we are an interracial couple.  They don’t applaud it, (who needs that anyway?) but they make no commentary whatsoever.

Baton Rouge:  “Are ya’ll in the military?”  “How did ya’ll meet?”  “What’s it like with a white man?”  “What did your mama say?”  “What does he see in you?” (Yes, that was the most insulting.)  :”Ya’ll are just different.”  “I don’t care if ya’ll are a mixed couple, I wouldn’t do it myself.”  “We already have one mixed couple in the church and we accept them.”

 

4.  People Don’t Make Stupid Assumptions About your Political Leanings.

Dallas:  So far I have met people who are educated and we discuss things as Americans.  This means that they talk to me as though I have a right to my thoughts and feelings and understand that while I am respectful I may have differing opinions.

Baton Rouge:  People constantly spoke to me as though I was either a Republican or stupid.  They insulted the President by calling him “Obamer” or they told me things like, “Your president….”  They called Hillary Clinton the anti-Christ and they basically let me know that I was an acceptable black because of my education.  The fact that my family has been in every branch of the military and fought in every major war still doesn’t qualify my right to free speech and thought.  I just said that I was a moderate and allowed them to state their opinions.  I am a moderate but I lean Democratic which should be obvious to any thinking person.  African American woman from California in an interracial relationship who is both a union member and a Catholic who believes in Social Justice….uh…duh.

5.  There’s so much more to do here in Dallas.

Dallas:  Besides the plethora of restaurants and fun activities there’s many artistic endeavors, indoor and outdoor sports, groups and projects that can occupy the time of someone who is off for the summer.

Baton Rouge:  Is a beautiful place.  I really loved driving down Highland Ave.  It was stunning in its beauty and simplicity.  I went to the Rural Museum, The Louisiana Museum, LSU, the State Capitol and Perkins Rowe.  After that there wasn’t much else unless we drove to New Orleans.

I do miss my beautiful house and my beautiful street and the low cost of living.  I did make friends in Baton Rouge and I did enjoy a great spiritual life there although I felt under constant attack from evangelicals for actually being Catholic.  I wish that people would realize that their political/religious thoughts do not influence everyone.  I like that I can be fully myself here much the same as I was in California.

I love people and who they are and I try to live without judgment but it is tough when one is constantly being judged.  While this is still not California it’s a sight better than Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  I am sure that New Orleans is probably much better in this respect but unfortunately this is where we landed.  As we continue our lives in Dallas and its suburbs I feel that for now this is the best place for me.  No more small towns for this small town girl.  I love the city and all that it entails.

5 Things I Love about Dallas in Comparison to Baton Rouge

Writing and Procrastination

All writers tell you how difficult it is to write and to come up with a unique idea.  Some writers will tell you that it’s as easy as trusting that you have something to say.  I will tell you that writing is something that I love to do but always find something else to do instead.  Procrastination is a luxury for the young.  The older a writer becomes the more they realize that time is running out and one novel isn’t enough.  Not even the great Harper Lee stopped at the one novel.  Granted it took her decades to come up with a sequel.  I haven’t read it yet.  I love the honorable Atticus Finch, the lone white man who had a sense of justice.  When I was young I just thought that he was handsome.  The more I think of it the more I realize that he reminds me of my husband.  I digress.  Procrastination has a way of making one digress.

As a writer I spend an awful lot of time reading what other writers write.  I’m not talking about their novels.  I’m talking about their thoughts on writing.  I sometimes think that there’s an answer there for how to just get to it.  I learn that much like this post other writers are just fishing for ideas.  It takes a different type of human being to think that others want to read their thoughts.  There is a vanity in it but also a great generosity.  “Look at me.” The writer says.  “I am human.  That crap you are feeling is much more common than you realized”.  Anyone who has had an “A Ha!” moment when reading a piece of literature knows that this can be valuable.

There is an art to procrastination.  I sometimes envy those societies that didn’t have television, radio or movies to distract them.  It’s so easy these days to do something else.  I’ve found quite often that I can watch meaningless television for hours and feel like I myself have done something.  If you ever watch a period piece you see that all they ever did was sit around in drawing rooms and read to each other.  There was always the mad genius who wrote to entertain themselves but rarely did they have other things to do.  Perhaps they took a walk in the garden or went horseback riding.

There are times when I write that I imagine I have an English accent.  They always sound so efficient and real.  I abhor novels that are written in slang or street language.  That is the language of many people however so why deny it?  I never walked in a garden that I didn’t have to buy a ticket to visit.  What is the point of all of this walking anyway?

The truth is that writers want to share their thoughts, fantasies or creations because it may be interesting to an audience.  The fact that distractions can make one forget that writing is the goal itself gives one pause.  Turn off the television.  Mute the radio or Pandora. Sit down and write because if you don’t someone else will.  I write because I can.  I am just crazy enough to think that someone reading this can relate to my thoughts.

Spiritual Confusion

Years ago I watched the movie “Hannah and Her Sisters”.  This was before the Woody Allen scandal that caused me to boycott his movies.  The word genius is bandied about when speaking about Mr. Allen but I confess that I never forgot his line in which he considers becoming a Hare Krishna, “Who am I kidding, I’m going to shave my head and dance around in airports?  I’ll look like Jerry Lewis”.  So I surprised myself when I went on this spiritual odyssey which while sometimes interesting bore no fruit.

I actually understood Woody Allen’s angst for the first time in my life.  I grew up Baptist and was forced to go to hours long services which were only relieved by delicious fried chicken.  I remember being afraid of Armageddon and the end times.  The other side of my family were practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses and my complete nerd factor loved the intellectual aspect of it all.  I loved the vividly colored books so I studied with an older lady when I was a “tween” until one of the young men at the church decided that we were destined to marry and the “elders” visited my mother who promptly threw them all out with some well placed explicitives.  Ah….mother.

I then graduated and went to college and roomed with a very nice Catholic girl.  I mean, she was really nice and so was her entire family.  They were constantly giving me things and feeding me.  She was virginal and sweet.  I wanted to be like her.  I couldn’t get pass the statues however coming from a Baptist background but I did attend at least two midnight masses which were beautiful and mystical.  I tucked it away for future reference.  While at college two things happened simultaneously.  I became acquainted with Pentecostals and Jimmy Swaggart the evangelist. The photo below was taken this summer.

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I also met three gay men who became my close friends.  After I heard one hate filled sermon too many against the men who had treated me so well I felt conflicted.  Of course the church didn’t represent Christ…or did it?  I kept the two separate in my mind but most days I felt compelled to “defend” the lifestyle choices of my friends.  A lifestyle that really had nothing to do with me.  I was and am heterosexual and had been relatively chaste during college.  I was too dedicated to becoming a famous comedienne to think about relationships.

I moved to California and basically dropped out of the religious scene and was just young.  I had fun, met cool actor and comedienne friends and for a time the nightclub was my church.  My spiritual fix was the applause and communion was laughter.  I eventually ventured to the hood to hear great music and preaching but as I looked around I saw a very monochromatic society.  Why was the church predominantly black?  Would heaven self-segregate?  One Sunday I went to church with pants on and was turned away.  I was very angry about that as it was Easter, so I drove around until I found a Catholic church.  It was foreign and wonderful and exciting to me.  The Filipino priest has a beautiful voice and as I looked around all of the races were present.  It looked like heaven to me.  I impulsively decided that I would become Catholic.

Anyone who is Catholic realizes that there is nothing compulsive about it but I made it through the religious education and kept trying to still the Baptist voice in my head.  I visited my grandmother during this time and she said, “The church don’t save you no.”  How wise in her reflective way she had said a mouthful.

I was a faithful Catholic for over 10 years and participated in my very active community in California.  We had charity drives, I taught Life Teen and even discovered my true vocation teaching there.  It was fun and far from stuffy as the members at St. Augustine were like a large family to me and then to my husband.  I still felt conflicted underneath, never quite spiritually settled.  There was also the priest scandal to think about and while most places have something going on that was just scary.  I have met great priests but I still had my reservations and while I hate to mention it, facts is facts folks.  I have a son.

The return to Louisiana opened up a huge culture shock for me.  I needed something that was different, not stuffy and well…cool.  I contacted a friend in New York who is a practicing Buddhist.  She always seemed so centered and happy.  I felt stressed and frazzled and just wanted to learn how to meditate.  She got me into touch with a nice lady who in turn introduced me to SGI:  Sokka Gakki, a Japanese lay Buddhist organization centered around chanting Nam Myo Horenge Kyo.  I really thought that it was about meditating and finding inner peace since many people relate that Buddhism is a philosophy and not a religion.  I was soon to find out that what I thought was a philosophy was a serious religion centered around a Japanese business man named Daisaku Ikeda and the 13th Century priest Nichiren.  Tina Turner is the most famous person of this sect and served as a siren to me because I admired her strength and talent.

They call and randomly drop by your house if you stop going to their meetings.  Still being an intellectual I read a lot and as I soon came to discover much of their philosophy were stories that were so similar to the bible that it was laughable.  One was extremely similar to the Prodigal son.  This last foray into exploratory religion was more of an adventure than a real conversion.  I thought about the power of positive thinking, the law of attraction and all of it and realized that I had learned all I ever needed to know in Sunday school.  There is a scripture that my grandmother used to paraphrase, “As the twig is bent, the tree is inclined” and then she would explain that if one rears their children in the right way, with the right teachings they would not soon depart from it.  I really did depart and wander and all the while I prayed.  I really understand the search.  I also understand a quote that Whoopi Goldberg uttered in the film “Boys On the Side”, “When you don’t know where to go, stay right where you are.”

This blog is in no way an attempt to evangelize to anyone or to tell anyone what they are doing is wrong.  This has been the main problem with my spiritual confusion.  Many people I have met have told me that their way is the only way and that everyone else will suffer.  This is just a representation of what I’ve experienced thus far on my life’s journey and since I’m halfway through I wanted to share.  People who become angry or write down their own church’s philosophy in one real way turn people away from any kind of salvation or peace.  The worst is fear preaching.  The last experience with the Buddhist promised horrible karma for not chanting or for denying the power of their phrase.  I wonder why I had so much luck throughout my life without them?  I wish them well and release them, as I have all of the experiences, as Woody Allen did so eloquently in “Hannah and Her Sisters” so long ago.  My grandmother’s words echo on, “The church don’t save you no.”  Spoken with a Louisiana accent.  I went to church this weekend.  I walked out into the sunshine and smiled at my husband and we enjoyed our day.  Life is for the living and peace truly does come from within, or so they say.  Please follow the blog and enjoy the Woody Allen video because it is genius and true in so many ways.

 

 

You Should Not Go Home Again.

There is a moment in our lives when we forget that people we counted on were never there for us.  Many of us had to really pull ourselves up by our bootstraps because there was no one there who showed compassion.  Somewhere along the road to growth we equated that black hole as much more loving than it was.  We cried ourselves to sleep because we didn’t feel pretty or handsome enough to be truly special to our family.  They solidified it by making snide remarks which denigrated us or put down the talents we so obviously held.

As a young adult we moved out of the state and met a whole new generation of people who “saw” us as we were.  We met an urban tribe who validated our special talents and supported our dreams and aspirations.  As we got older something in us yearned to return to the simple life.  We returned to a family that we had fantasized was loving, open and warm.  Reality hit us much harder than the dream of making it.  The family that met us were either dismissive or too judgmental.  They reminded us that we had gained weight or worse we were more attractive now signifying that we were ugly back then.  What had been considered a charming personality that was witty and bright has been labeled as “overbearing” by  those who should understand our value.  The cruel Hollywood image of impossible perfection pales in comparison to what 0ur family has to say about our life, our accomplishments and our beauty or lack of it.

We begin to see that the urban tribe that we created and participated within was much more forgiving of imperfection.  We begin to see that life close to relatives who are not as educated or as worldly as we have been seeks to denigrate, to “take down a peg”.  We have become older however so then we determine to plow through trying to ignore the childlike spirit within which cries from being placed in the corner.  Our urban tribe knows the line, “Nobody puts baby in the corner” and they scream it loudly if only in our subconscious mind.  Going home has never been easy.  “You can’t go home again” is what they say but truthfully what about the cost of living?  It is indeed cheaper and much more beautiful to live away from the lights, the expense, the danger of a large urban area.

There is something lost in the change however.  There is something special about being a part of a family of your own creation.  There is something demoralizing about “returning home”.  People can be jealous, rude, inconsiderate and unkind but truly I have found this to be much more the case with the family of origin than with perfect strangers who became friends for the sake of being friends.  I have always understood Blanche Dubois’s statement, “I have always depended upon the kindness of strangers” because honestly family can be scary and unbearable.  The solution is to disassociate from family or obviously to return to our old stomping grounds.  What else is there to do?  Do not wax nostalgic about the good ole days because we should all know that these are the good ole days.

 

 

 

The Labeling of Children with ADHD and Oppositional Defiance Disorder….

If you are a parent of a child with ADHD and Oppositional Defiance Disorder who is of school age you would probably agree that it’s tough.  What makes it tougher is when administrators, teachers and even staff exacerbate the issue by not following the 504 Plan that is in place.  After visiting several doctors, a social worker and a psychiatrist and asking for a 504 Plan we still have issues when the teacher doesn’t follow the plan.  Our son was suspended a few weeks ago  and one of the notes said that he was “vicious and immoral”.  Let me qualify that he is 7 years old and 50 lbs. soaking wet.  He has tantrums when he loses it when he is reprimanded.  He ran from the classroom crying and when the principal approached him he threw pencils at her, according to reports.  No that behavior is not acceptable.  Yes we have punished him at home.  Yes we got him a psychiatrist and have medicated him on Concerta an Clondine for the rages.  Yes we hired a social worker at the school and have gotten behaviorists to watch his behavior.   He has since been better….but that terminology, “vicious and immoral ate at my soul.  The following weeks saw better behavior and “A’s” in conduct.

During our 504 all agreed that our son is triggered on Fridays.   The school has an event this coming Friday and they sent a note asking that students bring a white t-shirt to be painted.  I got up early before a surgical procedure to buy my son that t-shirt.  I even donated a t-shirt to any student who didn’t have one and cookies.  During the time that students were to paint their t-shirts my son was talking so he was punished and sent to the office.  Apparently he balled up a paper and threw it at a student.  So he comes home crying because he didn’t get a chance to paint his t-shirt.  On Friday all of the students will be allowed to wear their t-shirts but my son will be excluded again because he was set apart and punished…for talking.

I feel that he doesn’t have a chance.  I feel that each time he does something he will carry the banner of “vicious and immoral”.  Perhaps the principal should consider that as a Catholic I think differently about the terminology.  I think that a vicious person is a murderer and an immoral person is a sex addict.  It’s disheartening to always be called to the office but I have been very happy that he has been having excellent behavior since.  It hurts that even when he is calmer and comes down from his tantrums much more easily he is still isolated and left out of things.  Who doesn’t love their children?  I chastise him but in the same respect his lack of impulse control and ODD is real.  Would they actually suspend and isolate a child with Downs Syndrome?  Would they label a small child with autism, “vicious and immoral”?  I don’t think so and I am going to do something about it.