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Two Hundred Word Tuesday Question

The THWT Question for 28 JAN 2020 is:

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

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Where I've Been…

Hello, All!

Yes, I know it’s been nearly a year since I more or less vanished from the world of online presence, but I’m back now!

I think all of you deserve at least a cursory overview of where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to the last 11-ish months, so here goes…

The precipitating even was in late February 2019 when my wonderful husband Jack suffered a heart attack. Despite all of his doctors, our daughter Debby (a med student), many friends with experience and knowledge, and even Jack telling me it was “only a minor heart attack”, I pretty well freaked out. I’m sure those reading this who have been through something similar will understand why I suddenly saw nothing else even came close to the priority of Jack’s health and recovery. Nothing else mattered. At all.

But as time passed and Jack went through each stage of his rehabilitation and treatment (including bypass surgery) with flying colors, I became more relaxed and was able to look at the big picture again. I guess I finally accepted that he wasn’t going to make me a widow.

As a direct result of Jack’s health issues, I decided to back away from corporate world as much as I could. I stepped down as CEO and turned that over to my long-time COO. Our oldest daughter, Amanda, stepped up and continues to do her share of the heavy lifting in the company as well as balancing her musical career. There were obviously ripples and shuffling of positions and duties throughout the company, divisions, and subsidiaries, and all of that took time to implement. I still hold the board chair, but that is not a day-to-day job.

So as all of these changes (and others) were settling down, I was getting ready to look at increasing my focus on writing, something I have wanted to do for many years but time was not available due to the need of the business side of the street. Then, the proverbial “other shoe” dropped…

As I mentioned, Debby (our middle child) wants to be a doctor. She completed her pre-med and starting looking seriously at medical schools. Because of her grades and all the other things schools look at, she pretty well had her choice of schools to attend. Debby decided to pick Johns Hopkins and was accepted.

We live in Southern California near San Diego. I want you to find that on a map. Johns Hopkins is in Baltimore, MD. Now find that on the map. Without measuring and calculating the scale, it’s a long damn way from San Diego to Baltimore.

Now, a little more on Debby…a number of years ago, Debby was diagnosed with leukemia. After chemo and radiation, she has been in remission for nearly six years now, but things were a little touch and go for a while. Yeah, I more or less came unglued back then, too.

And now, my little girl is going to take off and go to school on the other side of the freaking country!

To make a long story short, it took a while, but both Jack and I came to terms with Debby going that far away to school. You have no idea how hard it is promise Debby, and really mean it, that her dad and I won’t be visiting her every weekend! Yes, as the date for her to leave gets closer and closer, we are stressing more, but it’s manageable because we know this is the right thing for her. We’re behind Debby 110%.

Now I’m back to getting more focused on writing again.

I’m not sure exactly how that will all come out, but I suspect I’ll stop writing under a few of my many pen names (I have more than 30 active right now) and narrow my focus into a smaller number. I know I want to keep writing in the erotica romance arena despite it not being a money maker. It’s fun and I like it, so the accountants can get that stupid look off their faces and go add some numbers.

The first step is getting my online presence back in place…

Next week, my Melodee’s Rule for Authors (posted on Fridays) and Two Hundred Word Tuesday will be returning. Both of these allow authors and readers to interact and learn about each other.

My Free Links area is also available. Here you can have a link to your website, blog, or whatever on my site.

I’m working on how to more efficiently handle my Twitter Mentions. The old way I did them was very time consuming, and I just can’t justify that amount of work anymore. I’m playing with a number of ideas of doing things differently, but nothing has been decided yet. I would welcome any ideas or suggestions.

(All of these promotional items are detailed on my website under the Promo Opps tab. See there for more information.)

And lastly, I’m considering offering book reviews again, but this is very much up in the air. Odds are I have already “read” your book(s) either myself or via a synopsis from the company acquisition editors. The problem is that I have never believed in the ill-advised concept of all books getting a good review. This isn’t fair to anyone…readers lose out because the review doesn’t give them an accurate feel for the story and, more importantly, the writers lose when every review is 4 or 5 stars because they never learn what they are doing wrong. Honestly, about 95% of all books are crap. When I do a review of a book that is crap, my total lack of political correctness makes me say that it’s crap. Well, usually I’ll say it’s big steaming pile of shit. The problem today is that most writers are not able to deal with a bad review. I have mixed feelings about doing reviews again because so many authors get butt hurt and go off the deep end. It is a fact of life that some people are good at something and others should consider a different career choice. I have no problem saying that, either. This all boils down to a need for me to consider doing reviews very carefully. I have no clue about how this will come out in the end.

There you have it…why I’ve been scarce for so long and what my plans are for the immediate future. Feel free to comment here or even drop me a personal note if you have thoughts or questions.

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Melodee’s Rules for Authors — Number Fifteen

Number Fifteen

Agents Only Care If Your Current Book Sells


Also see Rule Number Fourteen.

Just like publishers, traditional agents only care about your current book. That’s all.

On the other hand, a representative cares about all of your books—past, current, and future—and about you as a professional in order to reach their goals. It just so happens that the representative’s goals usually coincide with those of the author.

The really bad part here is that while a publisher isn’t in the business of taking care of authors, the agent is. For agents, they have a vested interest in making sure the authors they work with do well. (Think about it…agents and representatives both make their living by taking a commission (typically around 15%) from the author’s earnings. The more the author makes, the more the agent or rep makes.) The problem comes in because traditional agents look at their income for the next 6-12 months. After that, they have no concept of time, income, or anything else. This nearsightedness is typical of most businesses and not special to literary agents…I have MBA types in my company that give me the deer in the headlight look when I ask about a ten year plan.

A real representative will look farther down the road…sometimes a decade or more. This means that the representative has an interest in helping the author achieve long-term goals. This is a very different perspective on the entire process.

This also ties back to Rule Number Five. Just to say it again, agents handle one book at a time while real representatives handle all of the books from a particular author.

This means that you need to look carefully at what you want your “agent” to do…

If you want to sell just one book to a publisher, you might save a few dollars by hiring a traditional agent. Maybe.

If, however, you want a long term relationship with someone who will accept and sell and place every single work you throw at them, then you need a representative.

Yeah, it really is just that simple. It’s a shame that more writers don’t understand the difference between agents and representatives.

The difference is usually measured in income by a factor of twenty or more. I know of one writer who was struggling with small-press and self-publication to make ends meet. His annual gross income was in the $50,000 range. He made the switch to a representative and in the first year he broke the $1-million barrier. In case you missed it, he was leaving $950,000 on the table.


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THWT Question for 19 FEB 2019

Here is the Two Hundred Word Tuesday question for today:


How long does it take you to write a book?


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Melodee’s Rules for Authors — Number Fourteen

Number Fourteen

Publishers Do Not Care If You Succeed


This is a sad fact of the publishing industry. What the publishers care about—and the ONLY thing they care about—is if your latest release succeeds.

There are a few publishers who worry about your backlist sales success (see Rule Number Seven) because backlist sales can make up a third of their income.

None of them care about what a book three years from now will do.

And they certainly don’t care about the author as an individual succeeding.

And they really shouldn’t. The publishers are not in the business of making the authors rich…they are in the business of making themselves rich. In short, as far as the publishers are concerned, you are only as good as your last book.

And in case you’re wondering, agents have the same position. See Rule Number Fifteen. Publishers and agents are only interested in your current work, nothing more than that.

What this means is that the author must look out for themselves.

Or have a representative who will. See Rule Number Five.

No, I am not cracking on publishers here…just pointing out the real world of the publishing business for those who have not seen it yet. Publishers are in business to make money, and they do that by selling books, not by coddling authors. That is not their job.

Authors have to keep their eyes and mind open. This is a must because, like it or not, authors are in business, too. Again, don’t give me that story how you write for the joy of writing or how you want to change the world. When asked how he felt about the fact that his stories changed people’s lives, Hemingway said, “Let the poets, the wordy bastards, change the world. Me, I write for the booze.”

So, keep an eye on the market. It’s one thing to have a sense of loyalty to a publisher, but don’t let that get in the way of your growth…if another publisher offers a better deal, jump ship. I can promise you that if you write more than one bomb in a row, the publisher will drop you like a hot potato.

And remember that something many people see as odd happens on a regular basis in this industry…a book with one publisher will make, say, $20,000 in the first year. Place that same book with a new publisher for year two, and it might make $200,000 over the next twelve months. This is not odd…it’s all about demographics.


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THWT Question for 12 FEB 2019

The Two Hundred Word Tuesday question for today is:


How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?


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Melodee’s Rules for Authors — Number Thirteen

Number Thirteen

Your Great New Title Is Already Taken


Titles are a problem for all authors. You want a title that will say something about the story and catch the potential buyer’s attention. Sometimes, that’s hard to do and most of us struggle as much with the title as we do with the story itself.

But it seems that when you come up with a great title, someone else has already used it. Usually a fast search on Google will confirm this for you.

But on the other hand, so what?

Titles can’t be copyrighted. You can use any title you want, and no one can legally do anything about it. Obviously, you really don’t want to use something that was used before recently. Having two relatively new books on the shelf with the same title could confuse the readers. By and large, the readers are already confused, so I try to avoid that.

But what if I wanted to use the title of, let’s say, “The Old Man and the Sea” for my new book? Odds are, no matter the bookstore, me and Hemingway are not going to be in the same place in the store. Papa’s books will be in the Classics section. Mine will be in the Romance section…maybe in the Smut section. There is little chance of confusion here.

But the rule is to check out the title. Has it been used before? If so, when? In what genre?

Finding that your first choice is taken might be a blessing in disguise. That forces you to brainstorm on a new title, and you may come up with something even better.

Don’t get discouraged…make it happen!

Often your agent or representative will make title suggestions. This a good thing since they will have a marketing point of view that may help sales.


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THWT Question for 05 FEB 2019

Here’s the Two Hundred Word Tuesday question for today…


Do you see any of your characters becoming popular among cosplayers? If so, which one(s) and why?


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Melodee’s Rules for Authors — Number Twelve

Number Twelve

As Soon As A Book Is Released, You Will Find 100+ Editing Errors


Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will.

O’Toole’s Corollary: Murphy was an optimist.

Yes, Murphy is alive and well. He works in the publishing business.

Just a couple of my own experiences in this area…

I once released a (very) hard science fiction novel through one of the major print houses. It had been through not only the normal editing process that all authors are familiar with, but also through extensive editing and peer review by real professional scientists due to the extreme technical content. This included physicists, mathematicians, biologists, chemists, and other more esoteric disciplines of science as well as the peer review team at a well known physics journal. Finally, release day came. That was on Monday. By Wednesday afternoon, I had more than 1,000 emails from readers that one of the planets in the story was turning backwards or that it was in an impossible orbit. Guess what? The readers were right. Me and all of the scientists had simply missed the fact that there was an error in the math, and that let the planet have an impossible orbit. Oops. We fixed that in the second edition.

I wrote a semi-historical novel once that was set in the 1490s, and I used a word that wasn’t in common usage until the late 1880s. Yeah, the editors and I both missed that one, but the readers didn’t. Oh…we never fixed that one, just added a disclaimer to the second edition in the forward that the story was not a historical work.

And this ignores the normal spelling and grammatical errors that have fallen through the cracks. At a guess, I would suspect the number is somewhere in excess of a million over the last 30 years.

This kind of stuff happens. Don’t worry about it. Readers do—by and large—understand that we and the editors are human. They will laugh it up for a while, maybe poke some fun at you, and then finish the book anyway.

There are two genres where you can really piss off the readers when you make mistakes, though…real, serious historical and hard science fiction. The readers in these genres are absolute fanatics about attention to detail. And they will shred you if you mess it up.

For the most part, this is all petty stuff.

And remember, don’t sweat the petty stuff.

Oh, and don’t pet the sweaty stuff.


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THWT Question for 29 JAN 2019

Here’s the Two Hundred Word Tuesday question for today…


Have you written a book (or story) you love that you have not been able to publish for some reason?


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