Category Archives: Random Update

The End of an Era…

Hey, y’all…Susan here.

So you know how sometimes people hit a wall? I’ve done that. For the last six years, I’ve been moonlighting as two different people, not that any of you weren’t already aware of that.

The problem with that, however, is that I’m splitting my attention too many different ways, and it’s not healthy, and I’m not getting anywhere. So that having been said… I’ve made a decision. I’m going to consolidate my efforts. Siobhan and I have come to an agreement that we can’t take away from each other anymore. We have to go back to being the same person before it kills us.

This will, at least for the time being, be the last post to this blog. Everything is migrating to my website at <a href=”http://www.shroddey.com&#8221; target=”_blank”>www.SHRoddey.com</a> as we speak. This blog will remain, as there’s lots of good stuff here. It’s also being copied to the website so I can keep everything in one place.

Thank you all for being part of this experiment, and please drop in at the website from time to time.

Back on the Wagon

I have been writing a good bit these days. It’s mostly 500 words on one project then – ooh look! Squirrel! – but I’m getting things done in small bits.

Awhile back I gave a story to a friend to read over for a possible project. She kept it for awhile, read over it, edited it, and sent it back to me bleeding. It was the first romance-type thing I’d finished in over a year, and it was short. And in terrible shape.

I knew it was in bad shape when I gave it to her, but I did it anyway. Mainly because I was too close to it. I couldn’t see the problems because I’d been living in that world for weeks. Ultimately what it boiled down to was that the characters didn’t have time to build the relationship and I kinda fell off on some of the important details.

I’m fixing it. And in between fixing it (and fighting the crippling bouts of fear that I suck as a writer) and playing mom to TWO kids (yes, there are two of the little hellions now), I’m starting to put pen to paper on other projects. If I ever make it to the end of the 25 things I’m writing at once, I’ll have enough to keep me in new stories for at least two years.

But I’m taking it one step at a time.

Can't DecideRight now on my plate I have a romantic fantasy novel, a paranormal romance novella, a paranormal romance novel, a holiday… something… (novel, novella, I don’t know yet), a Cowboy romance (a sequel!), and a contemporary novel and contemporary short story. All of these things are in varying stages of completion, which means I have lots of things to divide my time. Which also means I have too many options and can’t focus on any one thing for an extended period of time. Lexxx and Lucy are both going to tell me to put all of it away and only pick one thing, which I’ve tried to do…desperately. It just doesn’t work with me. I’m way too hyperactive for that.

I’m also the type of person… I love the rush of beginning a new project. I’m not talking about the plotting and planning stage. I mean that very first moment you put pen to paper. There’s nothing at all like it and it’s a better high than any drug.

Or so I’m told…I’ve never done drugs.

Then 10,000 words in, I hit that slump. By 15k, I’m telling myself I hate the book. If I make it to 25k before I dump it and walk away, that feeling usually goes away. There’s a lot of anxiety that goes with writing a successful story.

Part of my trouble, I think, has been that I’ve not really had time to read lately. This two kids thing really eats into my free time. In the past few weeks I’ve started listening to audiobooks, which has greatly increased my productivity. Right now I’m listening to 12 Years a Slave on Spotify. It just went up this morning and I’m already on Chapter 3. The book is breaking my heart, but it’s also showing me a side of history the movie couldn’t even touch. I’m learning something while I trudge on in the mindless activities of my day job.

So it’s not the wild leaps and bounds of progress I’ve been hoping for, but it’s there. I’m trying. I’m getting better.

Baby steps, kids. Baby steps.

The Long, Hard Road out of Hell

So I kinda fell off the wagon for awhile there. It sucks, but it is what it is. Between a bout of depression, sickness from being pregnant, and a general sense of “why bother?” spawning from some less-than-productive professional relationships, I’d started the descent into giving up.

But truth be told, I’m not ready to give up. I’m just ready to be done with the bullshit. I’m ready to do my thing, tell my stories, raise my kids, and say To Hell with the internet in general. Unfortunately in this day and age of everyone trying to scream the loudest, I can’t push it all off to the side. I have to be here and present.

I did get off my duff and re-release this book, though:

Loki's Game

I still love this book. I’m ecstatic over the new cover. The story is updated a bit for continuity and grammatical uglies as well. Click the picture and take a look. I promise you’ll enjoy it. It’s also enrolled in KU, so there’s that as well.

But back to the point…

Yes, I’m struggling with my own personal demons, but that’s not the point of this post. The point is to say that I’m still here, I’m still around, and I’m still writing, very much against the desires of my subconscious.

It’s tough out there. Publishers are folding left and right. The big houses are growing even more elitist. The masses are turning more to self-publishing out of necessity than desire it seems. And the turd peddlers are cranking out even more crap than ever before. And nobody is making any money.

Last quarter, I sold four books. FOUR. And not for lack of trying. It’s extremely disheartening to know how bad the market is. And writing romance means it’s even stiffer competition. None of the readers have any money, and the ones that do are playing it safe with A-list authors they know by name. The market is flooded, and not necessarily with good fiction either.

Hence the “why bother” attitude. Sadly I’ve made more money by giving Loki’s Game away through Kindle Unlimited than I have selling copies of every book in my backlist combined. THAT is how bad the market is.

I was scrolling back through some of my older blog posts and came across one from right after I got started. It was talking about Digital Marketing and how I felt like I was doing it all wrong. Sadly, that was the point in my life when I was doing everything right. Sure, I second-guessed myself and had a pretty bumpy path in front of me, but back then I didn’t shy away from the daunting task of putting myself out there. I could sit here and make excuses as to why, but that wouldn’t be fair to myself or to you. The simple fact is this: I don’t do it. I should, but I don’t. Coincidentally, it was when I knew the least about my craft that I seemed to give the best advice.

I’m frustrated. I’m disheartened. I’m still overwhelmed. I need to learn to let those things go and get back on the writing wagon. Even if it’s 100 words a day, it’s something. I’m NOT giving up. That’s not what I’m made of. So please be patient, but expect great things. There’s always something wonderful just around the bend.

Take It Off…No, Put It On! A Mom’s Perspective on Pushing the Envelope

When I was 20 years old, I was pretty damn stupid. I’ll be the first one to admit it. I thought I knew everything, but turns out, I really knew nothing. I was smart, sure. I had book smarts coming out of my ears (that’s what you have when you start college in your second year) and enough common sense to keep me from sticking my hands in blenders or playing in traffic. But beyond that, I was dumb as hell. Most people at my age would probably be ashamed of their early 20’s, but I embrace them as part of who I was and who I am now.

Before I get going too fast, let me interject this: I was not a partier. I didn’t do drugs. Didn’t even smoke cigarettes (and still don’t!). The only time I really drank was when I was in the safety of someone’s house and not going anywhere. In fact, my first beer was purchased by my father on my 21st birthday in a little Irish pub that’s no longer there on King Street in downtown Charleston. My birthday weekend was spent buying a bottle of Kahlua and driving half-way across the state to spend the weekend with my boyfriend and two of our best friends. (He’s now my husband and the father of my child, btw.) My rationale behind this post is that when I was a kid, I acted like one. I didn’t know better. And while yes, I’m still a very open-minded and open-hearted person who accepts everyone at face value and always tries to find the good in every person and situation, my feet are now planted firmly on the ground and I’ve learned a thing or two in the last few years.

So I’m in the kitchen preparing a few things to take to a family reunion earlier this week (hey, shut up) when my husband calls me into the living room. “Hurry up and look at this!” he says. So I dry my hands and swing around the corner to find myself looking at a picture of a baby shower cake. The cake is well-decorated, mind you. The artist did an absolutely fantastic job of visually representing this cartoon scene of a baby coming out of a vagina.

I nearly thwapped him in the back of the head with the dish towel because the first thing going through my mind was What if my two year old had been in his lap? She doesn’t need to see that! Then I realized how stupid I sounded in my own head. She’s two. She wouldn’t understand it. She would think it was a baby wrapped in a blanket. Just as she doesn’t understand the innuendo in Family Guy and its ilk, she won’t pick up the true nature of any crude humor for years to come. At the same time, though, she’s a little sponge, soaking up everything she sees and ultimately attempting mimicry. It’s how she learns. Heaven knows we’ve discovered just how foul our mouths are since she started talking. The first time I heard the words “oh, my damn it” come out of her mouth, I simultaneously burst out laughing and crying. It was hilarious. I mean side-splitting funny. But at the same time it was my baby using bad words that she shouldn’t even know! The timing was appropriate, even if the usage was off. She’d dropped her cup and the top popped off. But that’s what scares me. She’s learning these things.

Which is exactly what spawned this post. Just because she doesn’t completely understand something doesn’t mean she isn’t filing what she sees away for later. And while I try to steer her toward age appropriate material, I can’t always control the influences around her. My husband doesn’t see the problem in allowing her to watch pop music videos with nearly naked women twerking while they sing about one-night stands and drug use. But I do. He may enjoy it – and he’s allowed to because he’s a grown man – but she doesn’t need to see it. I don’t want her dressing like a ho-bag and twerking by the time she’s five. That’s not cute. It’s sad.

Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t about censorship. I’m not rallying the torch and pitchfork clan to go after YouTube and the television networks to cut the obscenity and only show reruns of I Love Lucy. This is about my sudden and surprising disgust on behalf of my daughter for the low standards of today’s media. I know that since the dawn of media, there has always been someone there pushing the envelope, and I not only applaud but appreciate that. The envelope needs to be pushed. The world needs to evolve. Marilyn Monroe was a visionary in her time. What’s mundane and last year’s fashion today was pretty damn racy when she was singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.” And let’s not forget the King of Rock N’ Roll… they wouldn’t even show Elvis Presley from the waist down because [interjects best southern drawl] it might give self-respectin’ ladies the vapors. [Ahem.] Then there was Madonna, who took racy to a whole new level.

I have a lot of respect for Madonna’s career, and I often hear my mother come out of my own mouth these days. The things she said about Madonna in 1989 are the same things I say about Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus today. But you know what? I turned out okay living with her. My little girl will turn out okay with me. I have no doubt.

Hey, while we’re here, let’s go ahead and press that shiny-red controversy button now. I called on the Candyman so I may as well let him(her) out of the mirror.

Let’s talk about Miley for a minute.

I’ve had this argument with my husband and step-daughter a hundred times since she got naked and dry-humped Robin Thicke (who coincidentally looked too much like Beetlejuice for my liking) on stage for the whole world to see. There is absolutely no doubt that she’s a beautiful, wildly talented girl with the ability go anywhere and be anything. Personally, I love her voice and a good bit of her music. She’s the whole package. Almost. Girlfriend just needs some serious common sense.

I want to sit her down and teach her one very important lesson that I should have learned when I was her age and didn’t. The things you do at 20 will haunt you for the rest of your life. I get she wanted to break away from the Disney mold and show the world she wasn’t a little girl anymore. But from the perspective of a mother, her antics over the last year and a half haven’t shown me that. They’ve shown me that she’s still an immature child desperate to stay in the spotlight at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her dignity and integrity to do it.

We’re not going to talk about her tongue either. She really needs to keep it in her mouth. I want to tell her “Sweetie…that’s not sexy. That constant licking makes you look like a giraffe with a canker sore.”

What blows my mind and completely destroys my faith in her ability to intelligently maintain a long-standing musical career is the video for Wrecking Ball. That song… it’s beautiful, it’s haunting. It’s one of the most powerfully moving pieces of music I’ve heard in years. And the video destroys the image. I mean completely and utterly massacres the artistry of the song. See for yourself:

From the perspective of an artist, the video would have been much more effective in conveying the heartbreak if she’d kept her clothes on and not licked the chain. Seriously. When you’re singing about complete and utter heartbreak, being nekkid in boots is just corny.

From the perspective of a mom? Holy Mary, GET THAT CHILD SOME CLOTHES!

Her director should have put her in time-out for that decision…though I’m pretty sure he went with it so he could see Miley Cyrus naked on his set. A really good friend of mine made an offhand comment about her on Facebook awhile back that ended badly for him because (1) it was worded wrong and (2) people are stupid. However, I agree with his point. His comment was something to the extent of “her daddy should have whipped her butt when she was a kid”. The hotheads immediately flew off the handle and accused him of condoning violence against women and children, which was so far off the mark I wanted to punch these chicks. (I’m a girl, so it’s okay, right? No, I know…but you get my point. If they’d said it, it wouldn’t have been as controversial a comment.) While he wasn’t specifically demanding the use of corporal punishment against her, he was implying that her parents should have set boundaries and taught her better. The sad truth of his statement is that she is a child of television and most of those children don’t have the limits and moral values the rest of us eventually develop. Look at Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears… two beautiful, talented girls who turned out to be total train wrecks when they reached the age of consent. Again, I blame their parents for being on a quest for the almighty dollar instead of teaching their children how to function as real people.quote1

And seriously, MTV needs a great big spanking with a flyswatter for unleashing stupid shit like “16 and Pregnant” on the world. They were the boneheads responsible for telling Farrah Abraham she was important (and we all know how I feel about her). I’m so terribly sorry, everyone, but I have a fundamental issue with those shows. I get they’re meant to show the trials of a teenage parent, but you know what? They don’t. They’re glorifying adolescent pregnancy. They’re showing young girls that “yeah, it’s okay to get knocked up. Your parents will take care of the baby or you can just go out and get the government to pay for your kid.” I’m sorry, but fuck you, television. That’s not okay. You can’t preach abstinence in the classroom then give a sixteen year old mother a television show. Defeating. The. Purpose.

I was a married adult well past my early twenties when I gave birth to my first child. Why is that so wrong now?

But I digress.

Or maybe not. That’s sort of the point of this whole rant in a nutshell. Morals and common sense.

I love horror movies. Do I let my baby girl watch them? No. Why? Because she doesn’t need to experience that yet. When the time comes, I’ll be more than happy to sit down with her and let her watch the movies that have scared the hell out of me over the years.

Do I write racy, adult-based things? Absolutely. But I don’t leave them where my child, or any other child in my family, can get to them. They’re clearly labeled as fiction for adults, and while some of my writing is erotic, the sexual aspect is always between two consenting adults who understand the ramifications of their actions. And usually those two people end up in a long-term, committed relationship.

Was I a virgin when I got married? No. But my husband is the only man I’ve ever been with, and we lived together for five years before we got married. Our daughter was born after. Plus I helped raise his daughter from his first marriage. I’ve seen her through elementary, middle, and high school, and now she’s in college and on her own path. And I worry about her every single day succumbing to the bullshit pressures of the media. She doesn’t weigh 110 pounds soaking wet, but she says she’s fat. I want to punch the fucking television.

I applaud the need for today’s pop stars to push the envelope, but I ask that (1) they slow down a little (I mean seriously, Miley. Now that you’re naked, there’s nothing left to take off without turning into a sci-fi freak show), and (2) the media asshats stop with the constant oversexualization of our society. There’s a time and a place for everything, and let me tell you from the mouth of a mother who is by no means a beauty queen, your physical appearance is not the most important thing in the world. I’m not a skinny girl by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, you could split me in half and get two skinny girls. But I was a size 16 when I got married and I’ll tell you what… two centuries ago, I would have been the epitome of beauty.

quote2Here’s the dirty little secret: I’m not skinny, but I’m married with a family and moderately successful in my life. I’m happy with me as I am, and if every impressionable little girl out there had a role model teaching her the values I’ve learned in my thirty-something years, this world would be a much better place. Image is not the key to happiness. Being happy with who you are and what you have is better than trying to fit some jacked-up Hollywood image of beauty any day.

Catching Up

Jesus, I’m slipping. What the hell happened to me to make me go this long without an update?

Laziness.

In all honesty, yes, that’s it. I’m lazy and I’m busy and I don’t know which way is up. But that’s neither here nor there. The important thing is I’m here now, and I need to stay here.

Since we’ve had radio silence for-freaking-ever, let me catch you up before I dive back into full-tilt rant mode (and yes, there’s one cooking. Be patient, kids.).

  1. Sugar & Spice Press has given me the rights back to four books – Marked, She-Wolf, Blood Doll, and Loki’s Game. Fear not, children… I’m in discussion with another publisher as I write this to get those fan favorites back in the spotlight.
  2. The lovely Traci Markou at Purple Sword Publications has seen fit to purchase Homegrown Hearts. Trashy cowboy romance shall be served up shortly. It’s already in edits, so you won’t have to wait long. Oh, and book two is cooking.
  3. I survived Imaginarium. Big fun, good show. Not particularly well attended, but such is life for a first-year convention. I survived being one of the organizers, so I count it as a win.
  4. Just this morning I was invited to take part in a beautiful new Sooper Sekrit Project. Details coming once the press release hits the interwebs.
  5. I set up a mailing list. Don’t have but one person on it right now, but it’s there.  Or here, if this is easier: http://shroddey.com/mailing-list-sign-up/
  6. Absolutely nothing else interesting has happened to me.

So there’s the update. I’ll be back tomorrow or possibly Friday with a rant. Because I know how much you guys love those. And somewhere in the mix there will be an announcement.

Stay beautiful, y’all.

Picking Battles & Stating Opinions, or, A Rant for the Ages

I started this blog post yesterday, originally with the intention of ranting until my face turned blue and my voice went hoarse. Then I stopped and took a breath, and for better or worse, listened to the advice of a friend.

“Pick your battles carefully,” he said. Once he told me that, I thought that I should just can the idea altogether because doing this will only start a flame war. Then I thought about it again and realized something else.

You know what? My blog. My opinion. My rules. More than once I’ve shared my opinions on unsavory subjects, and today is no different. I have a strong opinion that needs to be stated before the top of my head comes off. I apologize in advance if this gets ranty or preachy.

So the context: Yesterday, Ellora’s Cave Publishing announced that Farrah Abraham is their newest author. She also has a pumped-up release schedule of July 1, 2014. Pre-order pages are up already, and the author is on the cover of her own book.

My initial reaction to this was much the same as most of the people on their Facebook feed: “please tell me this is an April Fools joke!” But it persisted. Then it hit HuffPost. And then Jaid Black herself got on the thread and started defending the action. Then I realized, oh, shit…this is real!

My next reaction was this: “What the fuck is EC doing?”

I was immediately repulsed and offended (yes, offended!) by this decision, as I’d initially thought EC to be a prolific and respectable establishment. No, I don’t write the type of thing that they necessarily publish, but I have been a long-time reader of their stuff. I mean really, who wouldn’t want to be able to read a really juicy fantasy? I cut my erotic romance teeth on EC’s books. Their books are good.

Which is why it surprised me so much when this news hit. It shocked me to the point where I couldn’t even respond. I tried to rationalize it…I really did. I went and checked out her website and read the reviews of her other book to see what she was about. I was hoping, praying even, that she had a little bit of talent to back up this crazy announcement.

You know what I found? That this girl has absolutely no concept of the written word. Don’t believe me? Look at her website. Misspelled words, rampant bad grammar, pretentious attitude (not that that has anything at all to do with things…it just rubs me the wrong way). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you’re going to be a writer in the United States, you do have to at least know how the English language works. You can’t use run-on sentences, you have to use spell-check, and you should know basic things like the difference between “to”, “too”, and “two”. Typos happen – God knows I’ve had my fair share of flubs, but it’s painful to attempt to read some of the things on her website.

Let me stop here and clear something up – this has absolutely nothing to do with Miss Abraham as a real person. Do I enjoy her excessive lifestyle, the lies about a “leaked” sex tape that’s pretty much a professional video shoot with a real porn star, and the glorification of teen pregnancy? Hell no. I pity the poor girl because she thinks this is the way to validate herself. But it’s her life to live and those are her mistakes to make. I made the decision long ago not to follow along with the travesty that is her life because I don’t approve of it. But that’s not my point.

This discussion has to do with her “celebrity” status, however ill-gotten it may be. And that, kids, is the crux of my whole rant.

I don’t give a shit who you are. You should have to wait your turn and be judged on your talent and merit, just like everyone else. Being a “celebrity” should not under any circumstances grant you the ability to exploit a market you have no business entering.

There are few things I find as disgusting as “celebrity” status. I know, I know, that sounds really strange coming from someone who can technically be considered a “public figure”, but let’s face it, at this point in time, I’m a nobody from South Carolina with not enough time in my day and too many ideas in my head. Yes, I want to sell books for a living. Yes, I attend conventions and talk to people. But damn it, I work hard at what I do. I’m not in it for notoriety. I do what I do because I don’t want to do anything else. I love it.

I put my heart and soul into every single word that hits the page. And you know what? I can’t get my shit noticed because of people writing dinosaur porn and celebrities putting themselves on the covers of their books. And I’m not alone. There are thousands of amazingly talented authors out there who don’t get the recognition they deserve because people like this girl and Snooki are signing book deals. Hell, even Gillian Anderson has signed a book deal. Has she ever written anything before? No. That irritates the shit out of me. I’ve been writing my whole life and so have countless others I know, love, and respect. And we’re still the dregs of literary society.

If these people have the chops to pull it off, great. By all means, go for it. Write lots of books and be happy that all is right in the world.

BUT GET IN FUCKING LINE AND WAIT YOUR TURN.

Back to the point – the bad move.

Yes, Jaid Black has absolutely no qualms about admitting that she enjoys controversy, and that’s fine. Yesterday wasn’t the first time she said it, and I know it won’t be the last. I’m proud of her for sticking to her guns and believing what she’s doing is in the best interest of her press. I just hope that she realizes this isn’t the type of controversy she wants. She’s about to get more than she bargained for, and I can’t see it in any way, shape, or form being good for Ellora’s Cave.

She’s going to alienate her authors, some of them long-standing. She’s going to show preferential treatment to this one person – who, might I remind you, without her “celebrity” status would be listed as little more than a white-trash slut by today’s societal standards – while leaving her long-term, loyal authors in the dust. She has put this girl on a pedestal, far above the heads of the people who have built her empire for her.Rule number one of sustaining an empire – you don’t shit on the people you rely on to do the work for you.

EC is absolutely not going to show the same level of care and concern for every author it has, and when that happens those authors – some of which have built lives around EC – are going to get up and walk away. They’re going to be as insulted as I am on their behalf, and they’re only going to take that sort of neglectful abuse for so long. And chances are they’re not going to be quiet about it when that mass exodus occurs.

And then there are the readers. Part of the Facebook discussion last night came in the form of some pretty serious truth-telling. The ladies commenting on that thread are very right. Readers are going to be disgusted by the egocentric display of immaturity, and the caliber of person who will read this book is not going to want to pay $8 for it. The people who want to read it are going to wait until it’s up on the pirate sites and download it for free so they can trash it. It’s not going to go well at all.

Aside: Yes, I get that hate-reads are still reads and boost sales numbers when the books are purchased, but it’s a pretty poor business model, IMO.

And I hate all of it. I hate it for the authors and the readers, and honestly for the press as well. It’s a cheap, sell-out move and one that I’d expect from the big five (since they’ve already been doing it for years). I never thought I’d see the day when the quest for the almighty dollar would corrupt such a beautiful machine.

I hate to see something so wonderful potentially go down in flames over something that could easily have been avoided. If those in charge at EC were smart, they’d listen to the concerns of their authors and contemporaries and think twice before attempting to exploit such a cheap publicity avenue. I equate this to wartime propaganda… all show and no real substance. But unfortunately, “Keep Calm and Carry On” doesn’t apply in this situation

For EC’s sake and the sake of all of its authors, I hope I’m wrong on this one.

This Week in the News…

Okay, so there’s really nothing new. I just wanted your attention for a minute. In the ongoing saga that is my life, I’ve decided that it’s going to be much easier for me to keep in touch with everyone through a monthly newsletter. This will combine both personalities, offer interesting content, and keep you all entertained.

You’ll want to sign up for it by clicking on this sentence.

That is all. You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.