Something Different

It’s true. My writing schedule is sort of paused right now. I’ve been insanely busy, dealing with some anxiety and trying to find any motivation in these subzero Chicago temperatures. It’s been brutal. I feel the cold so deep in my bones it’s been hard to do anything productive. I’m most useful at my job, it seems, because that’s how I have to be. Otherwise, I’m just energy drained.

Here are some things that passed across my Facebook feed that I felt I needed to share:

7 Romance Publishers that Pay – For those romance writers out there. 7 Publishers looking for submissions.

Chicken Soup for the Soul – $200 for non-fiction poems or prose.

I hope those links help out! For those of you dealing with the snow and cold, stay warm! For those of you in the warmth and sunshine, enjoy it, you lucky bastards!

Cheers,

HK Rowe

Is it okay to openly mock books?

hkrowe:

Great insight!

Originally posted on Aether House:

Last week, one of those most infamous books of our generation became a blockbuster. For the few who don’t know, Fifty Shades of Grey is a movie adaptation of a book that was originally a Twilight fanfic. Not to say anything bad of my beloved genre – fanfiction – but that isn’t a promising origin story for a novel.

Obviously, Fifty Shades is an easy target for tomato-throwing in the literary world, as was it’s spiritual predecessor Twilight. I’m sure you already know the various insults hurled at both. I can’t really argue – I’ve read excerpts of Fifty Shades and the writing is indeed terrible. I’m amazed that it became such a phenomenon when the romance/erotica/harlequin section of Barnes and Noble is packed floor-to-ceiling with similar, better written books. Was there not a book already published about BDSM with a rich bad boy? I can hardly believe that market was untapped (cue pun noise).

I…

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Book Marketing: How to Sell Your Book in Independent Bookstores

hkrowe:

Great points.

Originally posted on Sound Bites with TyCobbsTeeth:

How to Sell Your Book in Independent Bookstores

In my last article, I showed you how to get your self-published book stocked in mainstream bookstores. Getting into independent bookstores can be easier, depending on the quality of your book. Indie stores are usually more open to hosting local authors for book signings than mainstream stores because they don’t have tight ties to big corporations that set rules against supporting local self-published authors.

Here are 3 easy ways to get stocked in an independent bookstore:

  1. List with Ingram. Ingram Book Group is the largest wholesaler/distributor of books in the world. Almost all indie bookstores have an account with Ingram, so the easiest, most sure-fire way to get stocked on their shelves is to have your book listed with Ingram.
  2. Consignment. Unlike mainstream bookstores, indie bookstores love local authors. Putting your books on…

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Flash Friday – Update and Excerpt

I’m back! Sort of! Sorry I’ve been absent. I hope to get back to my regular blog schedule soon.

Truth is I’ve been battling sinus headaches again, so when I’m not busy I’ve been taking it easy. I’m also behind on things but I hope to get back in the groove soon. Headaches are no fun.

In the meantime, here is a sweet excerpt from one of my in-progress short stories called “Blazing Heat.” Happy Valentine’s Day!

(Any undrafted mistakes are mine.)


The revolving door burst open, and Sal nearly knocked her over as he came inside next to her. “Bernice! Jill! Go home for the day! We don’t need you complaining anymore and we ain’t got customers for you to jaw at!”

Anna watched the relief on the two women’s faces as they stopped pacing around for a chance to relax in the freezer, and they sighed after thanking Jesus and then running to the back to grab their stuff. Anna furrowed her brow, wishing she could go home too, knowing at least her air conditioning unit in her apartment was functional. She’d love to just sit in the living room by the window where her unit would hum at her while it blew sweet, chilly air into her face. She’d catch up with her favorite TV shows, take a nap and just enjoy the chilly air, and the fact that every pore in her body wasn’t leaking sweat.

Alas, she was stuck at work with two other waitresses who looked just as peeved as she was toward Sal at not giving them a break like he did Jill and Bernice.

“Now the rest of you get back to work,” Sal said, and he turned to Anna. “Styles, come with me to the back of the bar. I need your help.”

She sighed. She knew exactly what kind of help he needed her for too. She was the tallest waitress, therefore she was the best choice to help him wipe off the bottles and clean the higher shelves on their booze cabinets. Anna couldn’t back out either; it was obvious Sal was in a cleaning frenzy, channeling his anger through wiping down his bar until Bob came in to fix the A/C, if that would ever happen. Anna would bet her next paycheck Bob was chilling in his own air conditioned home, swearing at Sal and taking his sweet time to come at all. Knowing he’d be dealing with Sal’s hot temper, she’d bet Bob would avoid it as much as he could.

“Yeah, I’m coming” she said, and she followed him out into the bar. Surveying the area, Anna noticed four customers in the whole bar. It was the slowest moment of the day. All four were regulars, and all four of them were carrying their pieces. They also had a few beers in them too, and the ice cold beer seemed to stave off the desire to leave the bar at any point.

Anna trailed after Sal as he sauntered to the largest booze cabinet. A small step stool was waiting for her, but most of the shelves she could reach. She thought perhaps Sal was also torturing her for complaining earlier but she hoped that maybe this would get her mind off the heat. She felt another drop of sweat run down her forehead and she groaned. Perhaps not.

She lowered her gaze, watching Sal walk and then turn toward her as they stopped in front of the cabinet. She had a second to enjoy that ass in tight Wrangler jeans, and she appreciated it just as quickly, adding it to all those other times she’d sneaked a peek at it.

He cleared her throat, drawing her thoughts toward him. She met his eyes, wiping the sweat off her brow in the mean time. She wiped it slow and pursed her lips at him, hoping he got a good look at her misery.

Unfazed by her suffering, he threw her a damp, clean towel. “Get started on that top shelf and work your way down.”

“What are you going to do?” she asked bluntly, hoping the words came out more playful than mean. He didn’t seem to take it that way, but he rose to the challenge.

He smirked. “Enjoy the view,” he said, and she blinked when she got the joke. She should have expected it. When anyone teased Sal, he teased right back, only playing dirtier. Anna felt her cheeks go warmer, if that was possible. She didn’t even want to entertain thoughts of where she could take that remark – where her imagination could take it further. Damn, Sal! She hated that he was smooth. She hated that he was good looking and the heat was getting to her.

She also hated that he was paying his sole attention to her when he rarely ever did. Uh oh.

‘He must really be mad at me for complaining so much today,’ she thought, biting her lip.

“I’ll be working on that cabinet,” he said, interrupting her thoughts again, and he pointed to the cabinet to their right, which was about the same height. He had a step stool waiting for him too and another towel. “It’s faster with two.”

“Got it,” she said with a sigh, and she moved past him and got to work, stepping on the stool, finding her balance and grabbing the first dusty bottle: Johnny Walker Blue. Soon, she fell into routine cleaning the bottles and wiping off the shelves. They weren’t really dusty, but when she cleaned them up, they definitely looked clearer, and the light reflected off them giving them an iridescent glow. She stepped off the ladder and began working on the third shelf from the top with two more shelves to go. Anna snuck a glance to her right, watching as Sal came down to the floor and caught up with her on his row.

Oddly enough, she enjoyed his company even though he was completely silent. She could hear him breathing, a little more labored from the heat, and he’d finally started to sweat. Sweat shimmered off his tanned forearms and she found herself catching a long look at one of her favorite tattoos: a detailed, realistic looking leopard.

“Anna,” he said, and he only needed to say her name in that commanding tone for her to snap back to work.

© HK Rowe

#MondayBlogs – Pause

Hey!

I know I’ve been a little slow on updating my blog posts. I have been totally busy and dealing with a small cold, so some things have had to take a backseat. I am regularly editing Killer Orange as well as working on the cover design. I’ve been reading A LOT as well.

Last Thursday was my husband’s birthday so I’ve been spending as much time with him as I can. We also inherited a computer, which I have since had to reformat and then re-install Windows and all its updates. Fun stuff! Work continues to be busy. Now I’m just catching up with things. (It never ends!)

I hope to get back on my blog schedule either Wednesday or Friday.

See you all then! Cheers.

HK Rowe

Nonfiction Wednesdays – Of Pets and Family

The storm here in Chicago-land has once again delayed my evening schedule, and after a busy night of catching up with bills, I didn’t get a chance to write something new. So please enjoy a piece from my past.


Originally written 4-10-2002.

Of Pets and Family

As long as I can remember my family has always included pets. When I was a baby we had a black poodle named Korky and a long- haired gray cat named Misty. When I was eleven, I got another kitten named Butterscotch. Pets have been an integral part of my life. However, they have shorter lives than me, and I had to go through times where I had to lose pets. All the pets in my life were dear to me, but some were harder to lose. Despite the fact that these were just animals, some people may not consider this important, but I cherish all these animals part of my family.

Korky, a half poodle and half terrier, would always protect me when I was a baby. Mom adopted the small, awkward looking mutt from the animal shelter before they could destroy him. Inviting Korky into our family was a good decision. Not only did my mom save his life by bringing him home from the pound, but also Korky added love and entertainment to our small family. He was the typical dog who loved to play and goof around, but he had some quirks that made him very memorable. His favorite food was pizza, and would bark like crazy when the doorbell rang. He loved to play in Mom’s vast back yard, chasing blue racquetballs until they were in pieces. Sometimes when he would fetch the balls, he’d bring us only pieces, covered in his slimy dog drool. When Korky died it was a great loss to us. He was ten years old, and he peacefully died his sleep. We buried him in our back yard with one of his racquetballs. I was so young when he died, so Mom told me not to cry because Korky would be chasing those blue balls in heaven.

Misty was one of the animals we had that I most disliked. Mainly, Misty was around when I was just starting school, and I didn’t like the attention Mom gave her instead of me. I would pick on Misty relentlessly, to the point where she hated me later in her life. Misty was a beautiful long-haired gray Himalayan cat. Mom found her as a stray on the highway when she was just a kitten. Misty was half-starved when Mom found her, and Mom nursed her back to health with eyedroppers. Mom took a special interest in Misty because she found Misty around the same time I was born. In my Mom’s eyes, she was nursing two babies. Misty and I grew up together, and she put up with my infantile outbursts and games. Somewhere before preadolescence, I started to treat Misty horribly for intentions I don’t recall. Perhaps I was just being a troublesome child, or maybe I was jealous because Mom would pay more attention to her than me.

However, Misty was getting old, and I couldn’t grasp this concept at twelve. I didn’t pick on Misty as much, I had my own kitten I paid attention too. But Misty’s health was failing. Her hair was falling out and she could barely walk anymore or control her body functions. She lost a lot of weight and looked very frail. It was difficult for Mom, but we had to put her asleep, just as we did with Korky. It was harder for Mom because she raised Misty like her own, and she had to have my Grandfather take Misty to the vet instead of her. I was relieved to get rid of Misty actually, and the whole ordeal didn’t affect me much.

When it was over Mom was reminiscing about Misty’s full life, and she said to me, “Misty always protected you and watched you when you were little. Sometimes she would sleep with you in your crib. You should be sad as well.”

Before Misty’s death, Mom had gotten me an orange tabby kitten for my 11th birthday. She even let me pick her out. That night Mom and I got into the car and took a drive outside of Freeport to a farm that belonged to a friend of hers. We drove up the gravel driveway to see a small one-story house on our left and a huge barn on our right. This was a dairy farm. But besides the cows that were on the farm, this farm had an infinite number of cats. As Mom drove up the driveway, I was afraid that she would hit some because so many were scattered and painted all over the yard leaving a trail up to the house and over to the barn. I expected to pick one of the cats outside, but I was shocked to discover that there were about fifty more cats inside that small shack!

We walked inside and the place reeked of cat urine, food, and animal smells. Cats were lounged on the tables and appliances. They ran under my feet and scattered in fear when we walked in. Cats occupied every corner and cranny in the house. They were all different colors and sizes. Some were fat and thin, and some were sick and healthy. I looked at them all, trying to make a connection with all of them. None of them appealed to me. I wanted a cat that I could have a connection with, like the connection that Mom had with Misty. I gave up and asked them to take me to the barn to check the cats out there. As we traveled to the barn, the cats seemed more wild and sickly. I felt sorry for all of them because I love cats so much. I wanted to take more than one home, but I couldn’t. I walked past the wild ones as we were led to the barn. Still no connection.

Inside the barn, it smelled of cows and fertilizers. Cats still scattered throughout the barn in frenzy, curious to whom I was, or scared that humans were entering their territory. All the cats seemed similar in the barn. I saw a family of orange tabbies, and many of them looked a like. Most of them ran from me, except one. She looked up at me with intense yellow eyes. She had dirt in her tear ducts and her left ear was brown and crusty from frostbite. She had interesting markings on her back. Amongst her light orange hair, she had thick vibrant organic shapes of a darker orange covering her back. Out of all the orange tabbies, she did not run away.

“I want this one, Mom,” I said.

I picked her up. She was shaking from the cold. I started to pet her, stroking that fascinating mark on her back. She started to purr. She looked up at me; her yellow eyes began to close in relaxation. She stayed in my arms the entire drive home. I knew I had school the next day, but I couldn’t sleep. I was so excited to finally have my own kitten. I loved her already. I laid with her under the covers and got up periodically to show her the litter box. I watched her purr, and I loved to feel her warm fur against me as she slept. I named her Butterscotch, because she had that color of fur. It was a simple name given to a well-loved kitten from an eleven year old.

Butterscotch would grow up with me during the most tumultuous time of my life, my preadolescence. She was company for me when I cried about hard times at school. If I came home from a rotten day of junior high school hell, I would bury my face into my covers and cry, but I didn’t feel alone entirely. Butterscotch would gently walk toward me, already purring without being touched. She didn’t meow. She didn’t have to. She sniffed me as I cried, rubbed against my hand, and make sure she was touching me when she laid next to me. He rhythmic purring and warmth helped to subdue my cries. I would pet her and feel her silky fur under my dry hands, and I would feel better. I didn’t know exactly how I could feel better, but Butterscotch did this for me. She was more than a pet. She was my best friend.

Butterscotch would be a constant source of support and love for me whenever I was down. I was so happy with her I forgot how fragile a cat’s life was. Most cats live long lives, sometimes as much as fifteen years. But Butterscotch was not so fortunate. When she was about 6 years old, she began to have some terrible seizures. She would spin and convulse uncontrollably for long periods of time, during which she couldn’t control her bodily functions. She would try to control them, huffing and yowling, trying to fight with her mind when her body would not listen. After such a horrific struggle, she would weakly try to stand on two legs, and she was unpleasantly soaked in her own urine. Every time she had these seizures, it would pain me to see it. These seizures, as horrible as they were initially, would get worse. The seizures that would eventually kill her were the ones that involved terrible convulsions that took most of the room, and walls and floors would be splattered in blood.

My parents did the right thing by putting Butterscotch down when I was away on a school event. I knew the entire day she wouldn’t last much longer. I woke up early to catch the bus, and I checked on her in her failing state. She was too weak to stand, and when I started to cry, she tried to be strong for me and wobbled on her two bony legs. I don’t think she wanted me to cry, I could tell. When I came home to find her gone and put to rest, I cried all afternoon into the next day. I had lost a part of myself, and it would take me awhile to get used her not being physically there. It sounds crazy, but I think sometimes she visits me in spirit, just to check on me.

Today our family still includes animals, but the ones before them will never be forgotten. Mom and I love to recall the entertaining times our late animals had given us during their lives. We tell the stories over and over again about Korky’s blue balls and Butterscotch’s silky fur. Our eyes light up and we become moist with tears just for a second. Each individual pet made an impact on us; they were family.

@ HK Rowe 2002-2015

#MondayBlogs – Talking About My Book and Other Fears

Last Saturday, my husband and I planned on having a date night with just the two of us. With our busy schedules of my two jobs and his social work job, as well as with social events with family and friends, we’ve rarely had time to ourselves lately to enjoy each other’s company.

We must have been on the same wavelength because we’d both somewhat suggested it to each other to reserve that Saturday night for us. I’d been wanting to go to a new sandwich cafe in Elgin that I’d heard about called Blue Box Cafe, which you can guess is completely Doctor Who themed. They served coffee and tea and sandwiches with locally made products. They gave almond milk and soy milk options for their coffee, and for me, who’s lactose intolerant, that was ideal. They streamed Doctor Who episodes on two TVs in the backround. We’d watched the tale end of Cold Blood when we’d sat down to eat our sandwiches.

After dinner, we’d noticed that the place was filling up for a live podcast show. Since our plans did not include this, we intended to leave and I’d later look into what other geeky events they had going on some other time.

Before we left, Joe noticed all of the business cards and flyers by local businesses, freelancers, and artists on the window sill before leaving. He turned to me and said, “This would be a perfect place to leave your card with your book link on it! Do you have any?”

Immediately, I froze. I didn’t want to be a shameless promoter when I’d just found this sacred space – a place that I was still awed and nervous about because I didn’t want to screw up my image in front of the people that came here. I wanted to be withdrawn and observe first, work my way into this place and the atmosphere before I shamelessly promoted myself into a place that I hoped to make another local hangout.

I didn’t even look if I had any cards. I just told him I didn’t. I knew I was low on them, but I just fibbed a bit and was too scared to leave them. I wanted to leave them, but I froze. I felt almost dirty even considering it. I had just come to this place!

This is just something I’ve struggled with lately. Publishing a book is a new experience for me. For more than a decade I’ve “published” fanfiction all over the web and even in a couple of annual fanzines, but I have never really talked about them in real life. Fandom culture is so different to me than the indie writing world. There are so many “don’t do this” and “don’t do that” rules to proper marketing and etiquette in drawing interest for your book. I was afraid leaving a stack of cards for my book would make me one of those people that others felt was too audacious, too presumptuous that others would care about my book. I felt like a creep, almost, even considering putting my book cards there.

It’s silly, I know. My first book sales weren’t a crazy breakthrough like most people’s. I could have marketed it better. I could have talked about it more. I could have printed out more cards and left them everywhere I went.

I could still do that, but I’m skittish. I’m still dipping my toes intp the cold waters. Cautious.

My poor friends and friends of friends have to pretty much pull my arm to get me to talk about my book. The shocking thing is that if and when I DO talk about my book, people are always interested. Then I can’t shut up. People are always amazed I did such a thing. It makes me proud of myself and feel accomplished.

Yet I feel like I always have to keep myself in check. Don’t want to get a big head!

And yet, I always find out that it isn’t the end of the world when I talk about my book and no one is interested. People generally are. I can’t let this fear and hesitation continue to rule me. It’s something I have to work on, and I’m always searching for ways to improve myself when it comes to this task of just breaking through the wall I’ve built around myself and just TALK to people.

Perhaps soon I’ll get over it. I mean, I pretty much have to if I will continue to put out more books. Maybe I’ll even get to the point where I leave a stack of my book cards at my favorite coffee shop.

Cheers.

HK Rowe