Affirmation 411

To end the week, I decided to go back to my roots, to the form of the written word that started me on my journey. Poetry.

Have a good weekend and be courageous.

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My actions during the day don’t affect those at night

I am a sound sleeper

Gossip, egos, holier-than-thou attitudes don’t get in my way or in my ear

I am a sound sleeper

The hurdles, obstacles and disappointments that may give the ordinary person pause; bolster my conviction, and strengthen my resolve

For I am a sound sleeper

My decision to act accordingly, pay it forward and let go of what I can’t control, all feel right to me

I am a sound sleeper

Your disapproval of me or the way I conduct business, treat my friends or live my life doesn’t bother me and I won’t let it.

I am a sound sleeper

© Nett Robbens, 2014.

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Back off. I am the keeper of MY domain.

networks

Coming back to life can be a real pain in the behind.

After a few days of connecting with fellow authors at the New Jersey Romance Writers conference, I was inspired to dust myself off and get back to the business of getting published. Any conference that fuels your passion is always a good thing. I didn’t want to waste a minute of it.

After walking Poe, (yes, he’s still my little mascot) I started working on a scene, which became a chapter. Oh yeah, I was on a roll and let me tell you, it felt awesome! Feeling quite satisfied, I decided to jump start my poor, neglected blog.

And then …. OMG.

Unbeknownst to me, my domain name was now up for auction and apparently someone trying to sell me (nettrobbens.com) for the mere price of $60. Are you kidding me? I called GoDaddy.com from whom I originally purchased my domain and they said that it happened sometime last month. Evidently this is a common occurrence. Well, whoa …knock me over with a feather!

Now, enter Google. In prior years, I always received a reminder that my the expiration on my domain was approaching, since they were in partnerships (or should I say cahoots)with GoDaddy. And I always renewed. But something funky happened this year. I received nothing. No email. No reminder. No domain. My love affair with Google has hit a major snag. Who knows if I’ll ever recover?

The guy from GoDaddy tried to reassure me that $60 was really a good deal if I had to “buy” myself back. Some people have to pay thousands for their domains when something like this happens.

Pfft. It didn’t work. I was still ticked off. But who knew someone would want me so badly? 🙂

Still this experience taught me a few things:

godaddy_domain_protect_7
1) Any one can take what you’ve worked hard to develop–even your domain name. So beware!
2) Sign up for the privacy registration on your domain, which give you more control and keeps the owner of the domain private. Not that it will guarantee you won’t ever have trouble, but it might lessen the aggravation.
3) Auto renew whenever you can, so you’re sure to keep your domain YOUR domain.

There was one piece of good news in this whole fiasco. During the time I registered my prior domain, I had enough sense to also buy the .net domain. I guess that wasn’t good enough to try to auction off, so they left that one for me.

For now, or least until I can reclaim myself, I will be blogging, writing and getting back into the groove under nettrobbens.net. And this time around, I have more control.

Fifty Shades of Bewilderment

They’re locked away in their bedrooms. They have tucked it inside a decorative book cover. It’s hidden from prying eyes on a Kindle and Nook. Everyone is reading “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Everyone except me, perhaps.

Lately, the first question I get, (from those who know I’m a writer or someone who just found out) is, am I reading, “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Nope. Sorry. But more power to you. Read on.

There are so many pros and cons about this book (which is great for the author) and the attempt to analyze its success and influence would be mind-boggling on so many levels. So I’m not going to try.

I won’t even comment on the article that spoke to calm the publishing industry’s uncertain future. I’ll let you read it. (That’s another topic entirely.)

Don’t get me wrong. The author found a niche, and she’s working it. Wouldn’t you? I have no problem with that. Not at all.

What I want to know is where the heck have the women who are latching onto the “Fifty Shades” like a life raft on the sinking Titanic, been? Women are going nuts over bondage and S&M. You’d think that “mommy porn” “women’s porn” or Erotica for that matter, was just invented.

Really.

At one point I thought it might be a generational thing. My coworker pointed out that there were young women satisfying their curiosities about S&M and bondage, or those wanting more experience so that they can spice up their sex lives. Point taken. But then I see older women gravitating toward it like a youth serum, and I start to wonder all over again.

Where have these women been? Or am I so unfazed or used to erotic books that “Fifty Shades” is like a preschooler’s first Dr. Seuss book? Perhaps. 🙂

There have been authors, good authors, who have been producing erotica, S&M, and bondage for years. Lora Leigh, who I consider one of the best erotic romance writers, can make whips and chains downright sexy.

Erotica and Erotic romance publishers (e-publishers at that), Allora’s Cave, Samhain and Loose Id have been producing these types of books for quite some time, with the help of some very talented authors. Maya Banks, (she can write about a threesome that will knock your socks off), Delilah Devlin, and Silvia Day aren’t just writing erotic romance—their books have a plot, which makes the sensuality climb the charts. Even the author Zane, who is known for her highly erotic tales, has been around long enough to give folks a refresher course in everything!

So what’s with all the hoopla? I don’t know. I haven’t voiced my opinion about “Fifty Shades …” before this. But walking into Target, yesterday, and seeing the books lined up on the shelf with the sign “New” flashed across the rack, did something to me.

So, I bought Nicholas Sparks’, “The Best of Me.” When I want well-written “mommy porn” (I hate that tag, by the way), I’ll seek my usual sources.

Whining doesn’t drive success; it steers you right off the cliff

Too often I’ve seen people, in particular we creative types, complain that things aren’t going their way. (they can’t get an agent, they received their 1000th rejection, their painting didn’t sell for the price they wanted, etc.)

Sometimes, the energy expended complaining, could be used more positively by trying to figure out why things aren’t panning out. If whining were so effective, we’d all be successful. You think?

Whether we’re writing, acting, singing, playing golf or doing our day-to-day activities, we should give it our all, and expect that the fruits of our labor will grow.

There is no magical wand or free ride. And it may sound cliché, but the truth is, there’s only guts, sweat and tears. And at the end, success.

I look at it this way, if everything came easily to me, I’d be bored stiff.

Thank you, Maya Angelou for the constant reminder, to steer clear of the cliff.

Who’s old? Take on Betty White in a game of touch football and find out …

Last week, I had a scare. Maybe scare isn’t the right word.

It was more like an incident that made me angry enough to realize that I’m really not good with limitations that may influence how I live.  Allow me to explain.

Last week, I experienced a little discomfort. To be exact, I had a pain on my left side, right under my armpit. Let me first say, I’m not the best patient.  I’m actually a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to being sick, or having to go to the doctor or hospital.

So when the episode was occurring, the former,  “oh-I-will-be-fine” me, would have ignored it. But the mature, aware “me” that knows what can happen when people ignore the signs, decided to have it checked.   Besides, having my co-workers hate me for having to scrape me off the floor—should I pass out—was not an option.

I went to the medical department. And after the poking, prodding, and wading through the five inches of grass that had grown beneath my black bow flats, I had to endure an embarrassing ride to the hospital by way of an ambulance. (I’m not good with unnecessary attention, either)  Oh, the pain.

Two EKGs later, I was given a green light that all things were normal. No, heart attack or stroke.

After plopping my cantankerous butt in the car, I drove home with my oldest offspring following close behind.  Like any good daughter, she left work to be with me and to listen to my constant grumbling, “I don’t want to go the hospital. I’m okay.”

She looked at me and asked, “Is this what I have to look forward to when you’re older?”

“Damn straight,” I told her. She shook her head and laughed. But after all was said and done, I was relieved that everything was okay.

The next day, I followed up with my doctor.  (See? I care about me!) I told him everything that happened and he said, “To be safe, he wanted me to see a cardiologist.”  I grimaced. But I knew he had a point. He wanted to rule out everything. Okay, fine. I can do that.

Then he proceeds to justify his recommendation by adding, “You know you have a few risk factors here: “You’re over 50 …”

Excuse me?  

(Stop here and insert expletives that would make a sailor take notes AND give you a high-five)

Call me high-strung. But by the time he finished with his rationale, I felt as though I had one foot in the grave and the other in quick sand. My immortality was slowly being flushed down the toilet, and for a moment, I felt as though the best of my life was over.

I was furious. Okay, let’s keep it real, shall we? I was pissed.

Don’t get me wrong. I value medical advice, and I know all about risk factors. But don’t tell me because of my age I’m more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. I’ve known healthy people in their 30s and 40s, who have suffered heart attacks.  Don’t put a number on it.

Still huffing and puffing, I shared what my doctor said with a friend at work. She thought it was ironic that I should tell this story at that very moment.  Apparently, on Facebook, the night before, she said someone referred to a 61-year old woman, as “elderly” and the stream of comments such as “Since when is 61 elderly?” went flying.  People were in an uproar.

And rightly so.  Don’t they know 60 is the new 50?”

Perhaps at one time, when I was growing up, (Yes, I’m a Baby Boomer), 60 might have been considered elderly, because the life expectancy in the USA wasn’t has high as it is today.  But haven’t they heard that people, with proper diet and exercise, are living long, productive and fulfilling lives?

Didn’t they hear Carrie in, “Sex and the City 2,” propose a, “To Fifty and Fabulous” toast to Samantha on her birthday?

Okay, I will admit I need to exercise more, and cut back on the gummy bears, and I will. But, come on!  Don’t try to scare the crap out of me!   My great-grandmother lived to be 96. So,  take that “over 50” rationale and shove it. Longevity is in the genes.

I will see the cardiologist and do what needs to be done, if anything. After all, I’m gearing up for the second half of my life and the last thing I need is to be limited in what I do. I have books to write, a grandson to spoil, a dog to take long walks with, a trip to Italy to plan with my sisters, and a Zumba class to take without consulting with my doctor.

Oh, and I’d like to see someone tell Betty White (I want to be like her when I grow up!) that she’s too old, and then take her on in a game of touch football.  That would be something else. 😉

Pfft. I’m done venting.  Going to watch Golden Girls.

Moving the rubber tree plant: a lone ant’s struggle …

“Just what makes that little old ant
Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can’t
Move a rubber tree plant

But he’s got high hopes, he’s got high hopes
He’s got high apple pie, in the sky hopes

“High Hopes” 1959 – sung by Frank Sinatra

Yesterday, Poe and I went for our early morning walk, and we encountered two, slimy, dead worms on the sidewalk. Gross. Poe’s first inclination was to sniff, because that’s what dogs do. Instead, we both walked around until I noticed the hundreds—no probably thousands—of ants underneath both worms, moving them toward the grass.

I stopped to watch the collaborative effort for a minute, and it reminded me of the song, “High Hopes,” and the single ant’s plight to move a rubber tree plant. Actually, the ant needed more than high hopes to move that plant. He needed other ants that would offer teamwork, determination, and strength. He was probably exhausted!

I thought about the ant’s struggle and began to wonder has humanity yet learned to move a rubber tree plant? In some cases, yes.

Through the efforts of so many great organizations, when there’s a call to help others who have suffered from catastrophic events such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011, the world typically bans together to clean up and help.

Even current events such as the 2012 Olympics in London show the definite signs of teamwork—starting with the USA Women’s gymnastics team. (You GO girls!)

It’s commendable, but we don’t always have to think on a grand scheme to work together. We can do something in our own worlds.

Here’s an example. There were two rubber tree plants …er um two, rabid raccoon running rampant in our neighborhood. I live in the city, not the country, so raccoons, raiding garbage and recyclables are quite uncommon.

All the dog owners began warning others about the raccoon. But as far as I know, only two people, (my neighbor and I) called the town and asked that they come out and catch them. This went on for a month or so. Everyday, someone new complained. But they had yet to call. It was becoming a pain.

Something must have happened because for the past two months, there have been no raccoon sightings. And I thought if all the dog owners, not just one or two, bombarded city hall with complaints, the problem might have been solved earlier. The rubber tree plant may have stood sooner.

Perhaps it’s a simplistic example, but I believe there’s a larger implication. Is humanity doing all it can collectively and with a team spirit to make the world better?

That’s truly a topic up for discussion. IMHO, we’re getting there, but there’s a lot of room for improvement. Our rubber tree plant is leaning.

This morning, Poe and I walked the same path and spotted the ants once again. This time, where was only one worm on the sidewalk. They’d done it! They moved the worm to the grass, and I was in awe. But there was still one more to go, and I knew they would do it because in addition to high hopes, they had determination and teamwork.

Poe looked up at me, and I glanced at him. We were in agreement. There’s no way that we were going to upset their balance, their world or THEIR rubber tree plant. We walked around.

Go Ants!

Hashing through the e-hoopla

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been following publishing industry news about how romance giant, Harlequin, has branched out to self-publishing and e-publishing.

As a business communicator, I see how the world has adjusted, and still is, adjusting to the various means and trends of communicating (e-print, e-news, INTERNET, hello!). IMHO, it’s a given and bottom-line advantageous for corporations to rethink how they do business and communicate.

And as an aspiring romance author, I believe this holds true for any other company, with stockholders (i.e. publishers).

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the standard publishing tradition of receiving an advance and royalties for one’s hard work and talent.

However, I am not opposed to having my work published by an only-digital publisher such as Samhain, Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave, and Loose ID–to name a few (although Samhain and Ellora’s Cave are doing print). These e-publishers allow authors who may never publish traditionally, the chance to have their work published and their talent displayed.

I’ve been following self-publishing and have friends who have gone that route and have become successful. They did so because they couldn’t find a traditional publisher (or agent) willing to take the chance on their work.

I’m sure we’ve heard plenty of stories how a self-published author, who was scoffed by traditional publishers, goes on to make millions. That’s great and I’m happy for them.

But I’m also happy for the author who, after self-publishing, receives accolades and (guess what?), an agent—after their book sold a few thousand copies. This is a monumental feat for pre-published authors who have developed personal relationships with the big “R”—rejection letters. It shows determination, confidence and resilience.

I’m not sold on publishers that offer to help “self” publish, but charge a large fee and want half the royalties (i.e. Harlequin Horizons, who have subsequently changed their name to DellArte Press). If I’m going to self publish, I’d like to do the work and reap the benefits.

As with anything, you have to weigh the good and bad. With self-publishing and digital publishing, you have to be aware of the pitfalls and disadvantages. Do your homework. Talk to people who have been through the process, just as you would talk to authors who have dealt with certain traditional publishers.

I’m not looking for millions. (But if they come, hey that’s a different story!) I’m looking for a nice bottom line that my business partners (agent, publishers) and I can enjoy. My main goal is to offer romance readers what they want—a story that makes you sigh, cry and beg for more.