Wednesday, July 22, 2015

One Good Teacher

I was a bad student, folks. Not in a “this kid is heading for a life of knuckle tattoos and back alley shenanigans” kind of way, but more like “she may not pay attention, but at least she’s quiet about it.”

Yeah. The school year always started well. I was pleasant. I was polite. And hey, I wasn’t sniffing glue or wearing a cape and launching myself headfirst off the desk during silent reading time. So, for a time I’d get away with floating along in a calm sea of peaceful benevolence, watching the clouds roll by and listening to the muffled sounds of reality, ever so far away. I lived in my daydreams, and it was glorious.

Daydreaming in a school play.
But eventually the daydreaming came to an end. Maybe it was a zero on a math test that got me noticed. Maybe it was the lack of completed homework (my dog had a real hunger for textbooks. Seriously). Whatever the cause, eventually I’d hear the warning tone of the Jaws theme, and see the flash of razor sharp teacher-teeth.

This pattern continued through the end of high school—with one exception. I’ll call him Mr. B. He was my seventh grade teacher, and he was my pivot point.

Instead of being maddened by my hatred of capital letters, or my left-handed chicken scratch, or my absolute inability to remember I had homework, he somehow saw me for me. He encouraged me to not only explore those daydreams, but to put pen to paper and write them down. Managing to hold his gag reflex in check, he championed every simpering teen angst novella, every moody poem … every word.

And it made all the difference.

When I was twelve, I decided I wanted to be a writer. I took a circuitous route to get there; studying acting in New York, spending my twenties as a private investigator, running a business, having a family … but that twelve-year-old girl kept beckoning to me. She was pretty darn persistent, actually. She wanted me to join her for a bit. To let the water muffle the world and watch the clouds roll by. Eventually I did, and it turns out she had a pretty important message for me. One I’d like to pass on to you:

 Never let reality hold you back. And for goodness sake, thank that special teacher who championed your individuality.

Thanks, Mr. B.  
I swear I smiled a lot as a child. But apparently not for the camera.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Independence Day

My second favorite holiday of the year (behind Christmas, of course) is Independence Day. There's just something about a day where the entire country, regardless of race or religion, celebrates together that makes me smile. Well, that and the fireworks. I LOVE FIREWORKS!!!

My family and I do the same thing ever fourth of July. We head out on the boat to an island in Ossabaw Sound with friends, and spend the day on the beach. There are always plenty of people there--all with their children and dogs--making the day as fun for us at it is for our kids. When dinner time rolls around, we make the trip back home and ready ourselves for the main event.
Our fireworks show is well known in our neighborhood, with strangers often pulling their cars into our driveway just to watch. We could be accused of going a little overboard on this front, but it's our tradition, and we love every loud explosion and burst of light we create in the night sky.
This year, however, things kind of fell apart at the last minute. The friends who were coming into town for the weekend had to cancel due to a family emergency. That left just me, my husband, and our two children. Oh well, we thought. We'll just make it a family day.
So, on Friday afternoon, I began the long process of setting up the fireworks. I pulled them all out of their boxes, placed them in the proper order, picked my finale pieces, and was just about to glue them down to two sheets of plywood so as to ensure we had no accidents (safety first, you know).
As I pulled out the huge bottle of glue, my husband told me to stop. Our very good friends in St. Augustine, Florida had just sent us a text asking what our plans were. Thirty minutes later, we'd reloaded all of the fireworks in the truck (and the kids, too) and were on the road.
Our unscheduled trip turned out to be one of the best Independence Days we've ever had. There wasn't a single hour all weekend where we weren't surrounded by wonderful people, laughing more than anyone has the right to.
As darkness fell on Saturday, I set up the fireworks (for the second time in as many days) in the empty parking lot of their neighborhood's pool and rec center. They live in The King and Bear, part of the World Golf Village, and there are very strict rules against setting off fireworks. But, we were not deterred.
Timing our set-up to occur between security officers' rounds, then waiting for the final security vehicle to pass by, we lit the first fuse.

Twenty minutes later, when the last embers from our finale fizzled out, the parking lot was no longer empty. Passersby had pulled in and neighbors walked over to join the celebration. Probably my favorite part of the whole experience.

Of course, when security vehicles turned the corner up the street, the party quickly ended as we all ran to our respective houses. We watched out the windows and waited for them to drive past so we could go back and clean up the mess we'd left in such a hurry. But that turned out to be another plan that fell apart quickly.

Security officers pulled into the now littered parking lot, opened the trunks of their cars, and loaded every last piece of garbage. When they were finished, they looked over at us--still watching like frightened children out the windows--and gave us a smile and a nod before heading off to finish their rounds. An unexpected kindness.

So, even though our traditions were put asunder this year, our Independence Day was still spectacular. I learned something, too. Plans are fantastic, but spontaneity can be really fun, too.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, celebrated in a way that brought you joy and laughter (and no problems with security officers).

XOXO Andrea Domanski

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Something Smells in Denmark

Here's some news I would love for you to share if you can-- it will help indie authors across the world. Amazon has recently changed its policy, in a decision that smells like a bad apple, with self-published authors who have their eBooks enrolled in the Kindle's Own Lending Library (KOLL) and Kindle Unlimited (KU) programs. KOLL is a program where a subscriber to Amazon Prime can "borrow" one downloaded version of an eBook per month at no charge other than the yearly Prime fee. KU is a subscriber service allowing members to download books at no cost to them, other than the membership fee.

Authors used to be able to make a little profit whenever anyone downloaded a "free-to-them" e-copy of their books through KOLL and KU. Now, authors get paid only on a pages-read basis. This means all readers are being tracked electronically as they read (kind of scary, right, being monitored like that?!). Someone can own an author's material, but the author doesn't get paid until it's read. If, for some reason, a reader only reads a few pages, that's all the author gets paid for. If a reader downloads a book, but doesn't read it for a year, they don't get paid in full for that copy until then. If it takes months to read, it takes months to get paid. Imagine print copies working like that!

Not only that, but authors can no longer tell when a copy is downloaded through one of the KOLL or KU programs in order to verify the electronic tracking is even keeping an accurate record of downloads. Indie authors just starting out definitely don't have the clout or the draw of a known name, so these programs were a way to gain a readership. This takes away the shine of these programs for the authors; even if they want to be able to offer their material for free, to do so is no longer that easy. There is not much of a draw to stay loyal to Amazon (authors in the KOLL and KU programs need to agree not to allow e-versions of their books on any other forums--Barnes & Nobles, Kobo, Smashwords, etc.-- thereby potentially limiting their costumer reach).

Also, with borrowed downloads no longer being visible to the author, the author cannot tell if advertising or promo sales tactics are working. Since authors (like anyone else in the world who is trying to sell something) have to pay for their own advertising and promos, knowing the sales impact is important. Many indie authors budget for these ways of reaching customers, and to be unable to tell if they have made an impact on downloads affects the productivity of such endeavors.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, please read lots and read fast, if you belong to KOLL or KU! :-) Or stand up for indie authors and question Amazon's new policy. Or understand if we can no longer offer our books free to you through these programs, and support our works on different forums. Or help us find a Taylor Swift who can be the voice of the little guy and make a difference. And please let everyone know. We all appreciate it!

July deals from the World Wise Writers

July 2-3 S.M. Freedman's Adult Thriller THE FAITHFUL is available for FREE.
According to I Fidele, non-psychics are cockroaches. And the extermination is about to begin. 

July 7-8 Hannah Sullivan's memoir FIVE WEEKS: A LIFETIME is FREE!
When the Sullivans are told their unborn child has a congenital heart defect, the family takes an unexpected journey discovering the truth of love, sorrow, and ultimately, the gift of life.

July 11 Jacky Gray's re-release of Yong Adult Fantasy RORY (in a new cover), at only $0.99.
Stick his neck out to save the so-called friends who betrayed him? Would you?

July 24-25 JD Faulkner's New Adult Fantasy MIRRORED TIME (Time Archivist #1) is FREE (and has a gorgeous new cover)!
New jobs aren't supposed to be this hard. Crazy half-gods, time travelers and ex-gladiator thieves? Unemployment never looked so good.