An Open Letter to Amazon KDP Regarding Paperbacks

An Open Letter to KDP,

Amazon began as a bookseller, first and foremost. A purveyor of books. Then CreateSpace made it possible to publish professional-standard books affordably as an author. I have been a faithful customer since the beginning of Amazon. Both companies packed and shipped books beautifully and cared about the product they delivered.

CreateSpace is no more, and we are being forced to use Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) for paperbacks. KDP is shipping paperback books carelessly and thoughtlessly. All of the individual author copies arrive damaged, having been loosely plopped into an envelope and sent through the mail. No pride in product or care for the authors, or the very books that were the company’s humble beginning.

This is a true letdown and downgrade of a product I have always admired, supported, and endorsed on Social Media and to other writers and publishing professionals.

I truly hope KDP will consider a company-wide policy change in the care you take shipping KDP paperback books.

Otherwise, I will have to take my business elsewhere, and heartily endorse that other authors, small presses, and industry professionals do the same.

Regards,

Lana Hechtman Ayers, author and small press publisher

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Interview with Author Loren Rhoads

I’m excited to host an interview with author Loren Rhoads here today.

loren

Most writers I know were starry-eyed readers as children. What do you recall about the first stories that captivated your heart?

peter pan

My mom used to read books to my brother and me at bedtime.  The first one I remember falling in love with was Peter Pan.

dirt hills

 

I’m not sure what about the story intrigued me initially, but when I was four, my family moved to a brand-new house built in the middle of one of my grandmother’s fields.  There wasn’t any yard, then, just piles of dirt dug out for the basment. All around the house rose these little hillocks, covered in willows and weeds and wildflowers.

wildflower

Everything seemed feral, like something out of Neverland. My brother and I acted out our own Neverland adventures.  We were so disappointed when the steamroller finally came and smoothed everything out for a yard.

house flat

When did you start writing your own stories?

writing story

I’m not sure when I first started writing things down, but I remember when I started to tell myself stories.

 

My mom was a firm believer in naps. She was in her 20s, working full-time as an English teacher, with two kids under 5. She may have needed a nap more than we did.

napping

In order to get us to settle down, my mom made my brother and me get in her big bed with her.  I had to hold still so they could sleep.  I passed the time making up stories.  They were about mermaids, like the puppet Marina in the Stingray show on TV.

marina

What made you keep going?

girls

When I was in junior high, I met some girls who actually wrote their stories down so they could pass them around.  We didn’t think of ourselves as writers, really.  We just wanted to share the stories we had in our heads.  Sharing stories was a revelation for me.

imagination

I loved that I could create pictures that would live inside someone else’s imagination.  I took my first creative writing class in high school.  After that, I took every writing class I could find.

publish

What was the path to publication like for you?

long road

It’s been a long road.  I published my first stories in the 1980s, after I went to the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop.

clarion

Soon after that, I had a teacher who discouraged me from writing science fiction, so I turned to horror.  The horror community was so much more welcoming.

horror

Since then, my short stories have ranged from erotic horror to science fiction to urban fantasy, while my novels have been space opera and a succubus/angel love story.  I’ve written a couple of nonfiction books about cemeteries, too.

spec

What was the best writing / publishing advice you ever received?

Ray Bradbury photographed in his office in 1987.
Ray Bradbury photographed in his office in 1987.

Years ago, I met Ray Bradbury, my writing idol, at a book signing in San Francisco. I told him I was struggling with my first novel because I felt like I had to know everything before I could write a word.  I felt like I needed to be an expert.

 just write

He told me not to think about it so much.  “Just write,” he said.  “You’ll find out what you need to know as you’re writing.  Don’t think so much.” He was so very right. I’ve been a pantser ever since.

write freely

Was there any unhelpful or bad advice you can steer hopeful writers away from?

 write dont know

I hate “Write what you know.”  What you know can be boring.  Write to find out what you think. Write to discover things you want to know more about.  Write what you’re interested in.

 experiment

What would you like readers to know about your work?

cover

My latest project has been a series of short stories about a witch who travels the world to find monsters. Her stories combine my love of travel with the old “psychic detective” stories.  I’ve released three short collections on Amazon and plan an omnibus paperback edition of them for the fall.

Here’s the link to the first collection: Alondra’s Experiments

Nancy Kilpatrickauthor of_Thrones of Blood seriesPower of the Blood series (2)

What question do you wish I would have asked that I didn’t?

 camp

What am I working on now?  I’m glad you asked!

I’m editing a charity anthology for my local Horror Writers Association group.  The book is called Tales for the Camp Fire.  We’ll be selling them to raise money for survivors of last year’s devastating wildfire, the most devastating natural disaster in modern California history.  The book should be out in May. I am really excited about the caliber of the work in it.

199cemeteries_1a

To learn more about Loren Rhoads online,check out her site: lorenrhoads.com/

king

Thanks for stopping by! Happy writing & reading all.

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So Now What?–Getting Over the Post Book Release Blues

So now what? That’s what I am asking myself.

My first ever novel is a fait accompli. Saturday, July 7th was the official release day for my romantic time travel adventure novel, Time Flash: Another Me.

pile of books

(where to get a copy of Lana’s book)

Truth is, I should have known the answer.

I’ve had 9 poetry collections published to date–6 full-length and 3 chapbooks.

And each time, I was thrilled. And my friends were thrilled. And there was incredible buzz.

excited

I gave readings and shook hands and sold a few books.

But then, there was this huge sense of deflation–the post book release blues.

This giant now what?

deflated

How could I keep the excitement for marketing my books alive after the first couple of weeks?

How could I keep telling people my poems are something they should care about?

passion led

Well, the first thing I needed to do was remind myself that the words I put together in those books arose out of my deep passion.

And that passion to create remains alive in the words.

And those passionate words are meant to be shared, to connect, to embrace, and hopefully inspire others to create as well.

Inspire

So with the novel, as with the poetry books, I need to stay impassioned, stay positive, keep believing.

And I do believe in the magic and power of books.

Books by others have transported me and transformed me.

books magic

I need to believe my own words can do that too, for others.

(Yes, I truly believe my novel can bring delight!)

delight

And I need to stop feeling like a failure because my book isn’t instantly flying off the shelves or getting hundreds of 5-star reviews.

failure tiles

Putting a book into the world is always a long haul.

The words will be there for others when they need or want them.

They just might not want them right now.

We found out about this magical library from my Wallpaper City Guide for Stockholm. There's something beautiful about piles and piles of books and my inner compulsive sorter took great satisfaction in knowing that they were all perfectly categorized and laid out.

The marketing part of being a writer is the hardest for me.

I need to say in various and creative ways that my book may be a wonderful book for the reader.

And I may need to say it more than once for the reader to notice.

repeat

But I also need to keep to writing.

And keep believing the next story, the next poem, the next words matter too.

It can feel like an impossible balance–the marketing and the writing and the believing.

balance

But living a creative life is such a gift.

Being able to metamorphose your imaginings into something that truly exists for others to experience in the world is wonderful, indeed.

real

As long as I remember that wonder, I can stop feeling disheartened, and keep on going, one word after another.

power

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why I Love Grocery Shopping

I know a lot of my friends really, really dislike

going the grocery store.

 

cart

I can empathize with why.

We all have busy lives.

list2

Lives packed with too much to get done

in our limited waking hours.

too much to do

And the hassle of going to the supermarket,

often with kids in tow,

can just be overwhelming.

hate grocery 1

Plus, there’s the battle for a parking space.

parking

Rising food prices, limited resources,

will there be enough money to get everything on the list this time?

And then, there’s the long checkout lines.

Enzo Pocaro, center, of Boston, waits in a long checkout line at the Market Basket in Chelsea, Mass., Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. A blizzard warning was in effect for coastal areas from Connecticut to Maine on Saturday for a fourth major storm in less than a month, promising heavy snow and powerful winds to heap more misery on a region that has already seen more than 6 feet of snow in some areas. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

But the truth is

I really love going to the grocery store.

Maybe that’s why grocery stores feature heavily in my novel?

FrontCover159BoxFlat

I’m very far from anyone’s idea

of Suzie Homemaker, though.

I really dislike most household chores.

Can’t stand cleaning in any shape or form.

cleaning

I usually end up breaking stuff whenever I do clean.

And I am not a good cook. I burn everything.

burn

But oddly, I love doing laundry. (That’s a story for another day.)

 

laundry (2)

I work from home.

And the mess from my desk tends to overwhelm the rest of my house.

messy

Grocery shopping is a good excuse to get away from my own mess.

Get out into the world.

Plus, my repeated circumnavigating the store maze looking for where they moved the sunflower seeds counts as exercise.

exercise

But there are a couple more reasons I love going to the grocery store.

One of those is how much I love buying nourishing foods–

nourishing

okay, maybe I love buying a comfort food or two, once in a while.

When it’s on sale.

Or every week.

ice cream

 But the biggest reason I love to go grocery shopping is…

that the store is a wonderful place

to practice kindness.

kindness

I know that sounds odd.

But the grocery store–even in my small town–

is filled with people I don’t know,

probably doing a chore they hate.

druk

So while I’m wondering the aisles wondering where the devil

they moved the sunflower seeds to this time…

I look for someone who seems to need a little cheer.

Finding something kind to say is the easy part.

People have great haircuts,

 

haircut (2)

interesting t shirts,

tee,

pretty jewelry

jewelry3 (2)

fabulous eyeglasses,

glasses (2)

(yes, the employees deserve some kindness too)

pretty eyes,

pretty eyes

lovely smiles,

smile

wear colors that complement their skin.

color 3 (2)

Or maybe the person reminds me how at ease with myself I want to be when I grow even older.

There’s always something to say that brings a little light into a person’s day.

I love doing that.

It makes me feel a bit better too.

dali (2)

After bringing someone some cheer, I can face the rest of my work day with more energy.

Kindness is good exercise for the soul.

teresa

Do I worry that sometimes my good intentions will go awry?

Yes.

Have they gone awry?

flirt (2)

A nice old man thought I was hitting on him.

Well, that made his day, too.

So all in all,

kindness is worth the risk.

kind

 

 

 

 

 

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Meltdown by Sally McGee

I am fortunate and grateful to share with my readers this exquisite essay by writer Sally McGee that speaks to all of us #metoo survivors with such grace and courage.

metoo

Sally McGee is a writer, community organizer, and nature conservancy advocate living on the Oregon coast. In the 1970s in New York, she worked tirelessly until rape survivors were treated by legal authorities with the dignity and respect they deserved as victims of a serious crime, instead of the blaming-the-woman mentality that prevailed for decades.  

MELTDOWN by Sally McGee

The phone rings.

A neighbor was calling looking for a reference.

incoming

Some people I know want to rent his house.

Unable to get a letter of recommendation and having heard some unsavory things, he was looking for information.

Right Facing Red For Rent Real Estate Sign in Front of Beautiful House.

Could I tell him anything?

I begin to shake and find it hard to get words out.

The man is big and menacing.

drunk (2)

Often unemployed, he has drinking and anger management problems.

The police have been called.

What can I say?

shaken

I find it hard to talk and begin to stutter.

I am surprised at how shaken I am.

Things get worse as the week progresses.

bad worse

The night descends and I crawl into bed.

The nightmares begin.

nightmares

Growing up female in an out of control family, I was often afraid.

I wake  feeling disjointed.

Something is trying to rise from my unconsciousness.

disoriented

What my body knows, my brain has not yet figured out.

I am confused.

Monday I think is Friday. Wednesday is Monday.

together (2)

Get it together! You are scaring people around you.

It is the trauma that is being brought forth from early childhood.

trauma (2)

The trauma triggered by 11 white Republican men wanting to grill a sexual assault victim while her attacker looks on.

11 repub (2)

A woman who thought she was going to be murdered, the weight of a male body pinning her down.

His hand on her mouth stifling her screams while his friend looks on.

rape

Some on the committee have already pronounced her guilty.

Senator Orin Hatch, well established member of the Republican power structure, next in line after the Speaker if something untoward happens to the President and the V.P., has pronounced her, “Confused”.

Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party 36 years ago, testifies during his US Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, September 27, 2018. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Virtually the same thing he said 20 plus years ago during the testimony of Anita Hill before the Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas hearings and we know what the men did then.

anita

If they win this one, it will be a Pyrrhic victory.

Too many women are watching and feeling the attack on Professor Ford to be an attack on them.

Old traumas are being re-lived.

relive trauma

Traumas that will spell the death of the Patriarchy.

And I say, “Thank God”.

 end patriarchy (2)

Some years ago I spent 8 days in the Trinity National Forest in Northern California backpacking; 3 women, 3 dogs.

Leaving, the hardest part was saying good by to the trees.

There was no wrapping my arms around the trunk because of their mammoth size.

mammoth

But I leaned into them and quietly spoke of my love.

The surprising thing was the response.

Clearly they said, “We love you.”

 redwood

This forest burned in the fires of 2018 but destroying the Redwoods is next to impossible.

They were here in the beginning.

One of the oldest life forms.

Their presence is a gift that uplifts me and sustains my life.

And for them I am grateful.

oldest

With trauma in the news every day, I vow I will not be defeated.

All is not lost.

Life goes on.

defeats

I live in a community that was logged 100 years ago.

The trees were cut down and removed but their life not destroyed.

Many came back and today I walk among them some 60, 70 feet tall.

They are unusual looking because the cut made 100 years ago was 10 or more feet above the ground so the tree I see today has very large roots high above the ground.

hemlock

I make my escape running to Sanctuary, the family home in Portland where my daughter and her B.F. live.

The house was built in 1915 and is in one of the older, close-in neighborhoods.

Craftsman houses and Bungalows surrounded by very large trees that were somehow spared  100 years ago.

trees (2)

Sanctuary and I am safe.

Surrounded by family and loving neighbors.

Children’s voices ring out.

It is music to my ears.

laughter (2)

I rest and sleep.

contral

Thank you, Sally McGee for your lovely words. 

For a survivor like me in this treacherous time in our nation, your words are my balm and sanctuary.

stands up (2)

 

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