Thursday, November 30, 2017

Goodreads Now CHARGING Authors And Publishers For Book Giveaways... Greedy Decision.

Dear Lit Loves,

Greetings one and all!  I received an email from the powers that be at Goodreads yesterday indicating that beginning January 1st, 2018, if authors and publishers wish to utilize a book giveaway on the Goodreads site, we will now have to PAY for that opportunity.  I for one thought I must have misread the email so I sent an email to Goodreads asking for clarification.  Sure enough, I was informed that both self-published and traditionally published authors will have to choose between a standard package for a book giveaway at a cost of ($119) or a premium package at a cost of ($599).  Outrageous!  Are you kidding me?!!! 

You know who this hurts?  This is an effort to eliminate promotional options for self-published authors and authors published by small presses who do not have the promotional budgets of the big traditional publishers.  Self-published authors like myself who have been utilizing book giveaways on Goodreads were already having to not only offer free copies of our books, but also pay postage and shipping to get those giveaway books to the winners.  Everything about this new concept screams corporate greed to me and frankly, I am disgusted by this change in giveaway guidelines. 

Also, the book buying public loses access to discovering new indie authors with this giveaway rule change so the readers are losing as well as those of us who remain committed, indie authors.  I am reconsidering whether I wish to have any connection to Goodreads period as the entity appears to want to flush indie authors and publishers and cater to the high and mighty traditional publishers with their larger promotional budgets.  Shame On You Goodreads!!!   The next thing you know anyone wishing to even utilize the Goodreads site will begin having to pay to have access to the site and that is a damn shame in my opinion.  Goodreads, you are biting the hands that feed you and it is a slap in the face to those of us who helped make you the popular entity you are, or should I say, used to be.

Woman And Writer Not Afraid To Speak Truth To Power,


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Help! My Neighbors Have Gone Overboard With Horrendous Holiday Decorating!!

Dear Lit Loves,

Lord. Help. Me.  Please.  I honestly have not put up and decorated a Christmas tree in three years.  When my father died I just could not muster any joy.  Thanksgivings since his death have been held with my mom, my husband and my brother at my childhood home in a small North Carolina town that you would miss if you blinked an eye at just the right moment.  We lit a candle at his place setting while sitting around the dining room table for the big turkey day meal.  It was more quiet than usual.  Conversation around the table consisted of complementing the food, chat about the weather and all of us swallowing hard trying our best to be thankful for what we still had left without my jovial father who never was without a curious subject of conversation.  He always kept us laughing even if someone brought up politics during the Thanksgiving meal.  During the past two years after the Thanksgiving traditional meal, we would all clean the kitchen, pile into my mom's sedan and make the drive to the cemetery to pay our respects to dad.

I have driven home for the past two Thanksgivings trying to see the road and cars through a fountain of tears.  I still don't understand why God, Christ or whoever the higher power in this world is would take my father from our family when he was the thread that weaved us all together and kept us emotionally strong.  It was gut-wrenching to then see folks running about acting all holly and jolly.  I just could not muster any joy whatsoever. I would gladly walk through the mall and shout, "It Most Certainly Is Not The Most Wonderful Freaking Time Of The Year!"  The holiday season appeared to bring out the worst in people:  trampling over one another in search of Black Friday deals; getting into shouting matches over parking spaces at the malls or grocery stores; complaining about being forced to spend time with various family members; having packages stolen from the trunk of your car or front porch, getting injured while attempting to decorate furiously in order to be anointed the house in the neighborhood with the most incredible light display, and to top it all, I was almost taken out completely in the post office crosswalk by a driver who was incensed at the amount of time she had to wait to mail packages. Don't make me want to go all "Atomic Blonde" on you dear people of North Carolina. I am trying to maintain my composure, but even I have my limits.  I'm not sure I have the strength or stomach for another holiday season, folks.

And then my husband and I bought a house last year for Christmas.  We had just moved back to North Carolina six months before my father died and had been residing in a less than optimal apartment.  (The recycling dump was just steps away from our apartment door, water was leaking down the walls toward electrical outlets, and then the water in the tub one day turned brown and appeared  as if it came from a septic system, but it actually was because the water heater was nearly 19 years old and the apartment manager refused to replace it until I turned him in to the city water commissioner).  This red-head knows the laws of the land mister and I'm not afraid to blow the whistle and have someone cited for negligence.  Naturally, I was more than thrilled to be moving into a real home once again and being a stone's throw away from my favorite place:  UNC-Chapel Hill. 

This year I truly wanted to just not attempt anything for Thanksgiving except maybe a movie marathon with my husband.  He asked me to think about us hosting Thanksgiving here at our new home.  He offered to cook the entire meal as well.  I thought it might be a good change so with a great amount of coaxing and reassurance, I consented.  We hosted Thanksgiving at our new home.  I must say it was a definite change, but we had brought the family together and the appetizers, meal and dessert included a contribution from each of my family members.  Whew. 

And now I face the Christmas holiday.  I have yet to know whether I can summon the courage and effort to trim our artificial Christmas tree with ornaments I have collected since birth.  Since my old holiday wreath was destroyed by movers with little respect for our belongings, I did go with my husband and purchase a pre-lit wreath for the front door of our new home.  In addition we purchased artificial holiday pre-lit candles to place on the window sills throughout the house.  I still have not summoned enough bravery and gumption to go through our home storage area and locate our Christmas tree.  And for the past three days I have watched as my neighbors practically turn their homes into what appears to be the home of a sugarplum fairy, the gingerbread man and quite possibly Santa's North Pole headquarters.  Honestly, if my mail arrives after the sun goes down, I don my sunglasses to walk to the mail center lest I be blinded by the virtual amusement parks surrounding my home.  And one home has some sort of speaker system blasting holiday music.  As I look around at what appears to be a Fourth of July fireworks spectacle in December, I can't help but remember my motto when it comes to holiday decorating:  Be Classy Not Trashy.  Meanwhile, my goal for this week is to attempt to locate our artificial tree in the storage area of our home.  I haven't seen it in three years so I hope it survived the move as well as the movers.  I am not out to create a virtual winter wonderland on the outside of my home or win some ridiculous home decorating contest.  I simply want to find enough joy in my soul to encourage me in my efforts to decorate a Christmas tree with ornaments given to me by good people from my past and present.    I simply want to know if I will ever find the peace I used to obtain when I trimmed the Christmas tree and if I will ever once again find joy in celebrating Christmas in my own simple, low-key way.

Stay tuned,

Monday, November 6, 2017

Whole New Meaning To All Saints Day

Dear Lit Loves,

Yesterday was the official celebration of All Saints Day at my home church, Bunker Hill United Methodist.  I never really paid much attention to this honor program at the church where all the church members who have died in the last year are remembered with a candle lighting ceremony.  The ceremony became personal for me when my dad died after battling Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma successfully for twelve years.  In the end, it was not the lymphoma that killed him. Dad actually died of pneumonia, a collapsed lung and his heart ceased to function properly.  I will never forget the day a week before he actually died when an ICU physician came to my dad's hospital room to inform me there was noting more that could be done for my father.  It was the physician and ICU team's estimate that my dad had maybe a week to live.  Talk about a hard slap across the face and a sucker punch to the gut.  I stopped breathing at that moment and the room started spinning.  I found the nearest chair in dad's hospital room and sat down trying to absorb the unthinkable.  On top of it all, that particular day was my birthday and I usually spent it with my dad as was the case that day.  I remember looking up and saying to God, "What the hell kind of gift is this?"  Why would God decide it was time to take my Dad, my rock and the person I went to in serious times like this?  I still do not have an answer to that question.  Additionally, I had been instructed to pass the information about my father along to my mother and brother as the ICU doctors wanted to meet with them as well.  I did not want to have a full meltdown in front of my dad while he lay in an ICU hospital room fighting for his remaining last breaths.  I walked to a floor of the hospital that had been vacated for remodeling, found a small conference room, shut the door and wondered if I was going to die right there myself just from the pain and panic and emotional upheaval I was experiencing after being given the news about my father.  Dear God, Mother Mary, Whoever.  I had a week or less remaining to be with my dad.  Dad died five days later at a Hospice near my parents' home.  My mom, brother, me and my husband had been sitting with him in his Hospice room.  I had been holding his hand and I realized I could no longer feel his pulse when I pressed on his wrist.  I checked for a pulse on the side of his neck:  nothing.  Mom checked for breathing:  nothing.  A doctor and nurse arrived and officially declared dad gone. 

So my first experience of being physically and emotionally involved in the church's All Saints Day ceremony was that year about four months after my dad's death.  I heard the pastor say my dad's name and a picture of him appeared on a screen at the front of the church.  My mom rose from the pew first and somehow I followed behind her.  When mom and I made it to the front of the church, we were both given already lit candles by the ushers.  Together we lit a candle in dad's honor.  That's about all I remember as I completely lost it emotionally, went back to sit in the church pew and witnessed other families do what we had just done to honor Dad.  Losing dad was and still is gut-wrenching.  No one ever knows what it's like till it happens to someone in their family. 

Even today I still go by my father's grave the week of All Saints Day.  Last week I went by Dad's grave with mom.  We cleaned the plate marker and placed new flowers at his grave.  I never can get over the many more people who have been buried close to my dad since my last visit to his grave.  Those families get it.  The parents of the one year old who is buried five feet down from my dad.  The family of the thirty year old woman who is buried seven spaces to the left of my dad's grave.  And this year, just the day before a funeral had been held adjacent to my dad's grave.  It was the burial of someone else's daughter.  The floral bouquets were still freshly covering the burial site.  I remember thinking, I know the agony that family is going through right now.  I still cope with the same extreme grief, overwhelming sadness, and loneliness that remains since my Dad left this world.  I'm glad I have a place to come and honor him, talk to him.  I don't know what people whose deceased are buried in mausoleums do when they visit their deceased.  Stand in front of a wall of shelving units, maybe?  That would be too impersonal for me. I sit on a nearby bench and talk with my Dad while visiting the cemetery where he is buried.

This year I was not present at the All Saints Day ceremony at my home church.  My mom still lights a candle in my father's name each year.  I spent the morning planting pansies, cabbage plants, and two rosemary trees in my front yard.  One of my neighbors came walking by and asked why I spend so much time working on my yard.  I told him it was something I had in common with my Dad:  a love of beautifying and taking care of my little portion of the earth.  It's my way of honoring my Dad now on All Saints Day.  It brings me more peace and ebbs the anguish a tiny bit more each year.  It's my way of still being with my dad.  One day you will understand.  You will discover your own means of finding some little bit of comfort, tranquility in regards to losing a loved one.  It's a whole different reality when All Saints Day hits a little bit more close to home and heart.