Category Archives: feeling sorry for myself

The Price We Pay

It is becoming obvious that the American experiment with democracy is now over… In fact, it has been over for quite a while.  We can no longer even claim that this is actually a Republic in the sense that the Roman government began as a Republic.  The current emperor, Emperor Bumpkin Pumpkinhead, has no clothes.  The oligarchs own the government, and we are headed down serious paths of fascism and chaos and potential civil war.  We have the Devil to pay for our economic sins, and many of us will be swallowed whole before the end of it.

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I have known since the 1980’s that Reagan’s supply-side theory of trickle-down economics, more aptly titled Voodoo Economics, was a monumentally bad idea.  If you let the rich folks get richer and capable of buying absolutely anything, they will sooner or later buy the government and rewrite the rules to allow them to do anything they want.  That is the system we have right now.  Anything the idle rich want… That’s the reason we are saddled with Trump right now, the fattest jockey that ever broke a horse’s back.  And some of the rich folks who want anything and everything they can afford are truly demented and psychotic, backed up by years of getting their way even in putrid, evil ways.

The reason that the Republican government is so hot to cut taxes for the wealthy is to continue the wealth-redistribution program of the Reagan years.  Apparently the anointed few deserve all the rewards the economy has to give even though they do little besides horde their money and buy politicians who will continue to help them rake more in.  Meanwhile the rest of us continue to slave for them doing all the work under oppressive debt burdens that keep us under control.

24294271_844430295763808_6294495221275275142_n Of course, “Why should anyone believe me of all people?” is definitely the question.  I am only a retired school teacher who spent a career finding and verifying information, followed by a simple and clearly-defined presentation of the information to be learned.  I have revealed myself in this blog to have the letter “L” on my forehead for “liberal” which translate into Republicanese as “loser”.   And that’s where we will stay if we don’t fight back.

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So, how do we fight back?  For one thing, we have to vote.  Current policies and beliefs of the administration do not reflect the will of the people.  The general consensus about health care and taxes is not even considered by the Bozos in charge of the circus.  And we probably won’t win in the coming elections, because, through gerrymandering, voter suppression, and outright cheating the Republican right always gets its own way.   But that should stir us to further action… doing things like I am doing here, using my innate ability to use hyperbole and doofy jokery to spread the word and stir up outrage.  Better than angry fascist propaganda, right?

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Haven’t we, by now, had enough of what Ronnie Raygun wanted?  Isn’t it time we considered what we want?  …What we need?

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The Very Best Way to Have the Worst Possible Publishing Experience – Part 3

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A cover proof for my novel Magical Miss Morgan with Page Publishing.

After the good people at PDMI crashed and burned without publishing my book, I needed some way to publish again.  I wanted to repeat the experience I had at I-Universe and I wanted to do it for significantly less money.  So I went in search of another Print-on-Demand publisher to do my second Rosetti Awards 265469780

contest novel which also made the final round of judging and lost, though this time there was more final round competition, some by some books that have done quite well in the marketplace since the contest in 2016.  I finally found a publisher offering print for a price I could actually afford.  (I hadn’t been forced into bankruptcy at that point, and had rebuilt my credit rating.)  Page Publishing was its name. It was only half the price of publishing with I-Universe.  Unfortunately, you got far less than half the services for the price.

Here’s a decent review that didn’t exist when I was searching; Page Publishing reviewed.

The resulting book will be good, but here are the reasons why I should never have gone down this forest path to publishing with all the weasels hiding in the brambles just off the pathway.

  • The money is paid up front and they don’t really do anything for you until the payments are done.
  • Nobody actually reads your book.  The “editor” working on my book was no more than a proof-reader, and not a good one at that.  They didn’t actually read the book.  The primary quibble which led to 157 changes in the manuscript was substituting “Ms.” for “Miss”, even in the title of the goddam book. I spent months working to undo the many mess-ups in my story, dutifully citing every line number and instance of me changing things back to the original.  Only about three proofreading changes were acceptable.
  • The company ignores you for long periods of time, taking weeks to respond to e-mails, being unavailable by phone, and dragging their feet on every change to the next step in the process.
  • Everything they did for me I was able to do for free for myself later with Amazon.  Any real work on the content of my book was done solely by me.  There is no call to be paying people for work done by me.

So, after two years of paying and publisher-initiated problems and foot-dragging, I vowed never to ever in a thousand million billion years pay someone to publish my work ever again.  It should be noted, I think it will be a marvelous book when published.  I love the story and the characters in it.  But I resent having to pay them for the privilege of doing all the work myself.

I finished the writing of an experimental novel in segments on this blog in the meantime, and decided to experiment with publishing through Amazon’s free self-publishing service.  That got me a book which I already have a finished copy of, Stardusters and Space Lizards.

You can find that book on Amazon right this instant by clicking here!!!

Once that was successfully done, I didn’t waste any time getting my best baby into print.  The next publishing project was Snow Babies.

I now proudly own a paperback copy of my best novel too.  I am delighted.  You can find my masterpiece on Amazon by clicking here!!!

So, what advice do I have to give after 3 whole posts about the terrible, icky, horrible experiences I have had in the publishing realm?  Do you really believe after all my confessions of missteps and wrong-headed doofus-decisions that I have any wisdom at all to offer on the subject?  Even one single worthwhile syllable of advice?  Well, of course I do.  People all learn best when they learn the hard way.  So here are Mickey’s rules about stupidly publishing your novels;

  1. Never pay for publishing.
  2. Be prepared to do everything yourself.
  3. Learn from every misstep.
  4. Learn to laugh about every embarrassing mistake.
  5. And never stop writing… at least until you are dead… and maybe, not even then.

 

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Filed under angry rant, feeling sorry for myself, humor, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, publishing

The Very Best Way to Have the Worst Possible Publishing Experience – Part 2

Yesterday I started a rant about publishing novels.  I guess I only filled that word balloon halfway up with mad gasses and bull puckie.  So it isn’t fully inflated with noxious opinions of publishing, indie publishing, and getting a book into print.

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Having written a competent young adult novel that was well-reviewed by anyone who actually read it, I was faced with the question, “How do you get your work noticed to the point that more than just the members of your family will read it?”  So, I took another of my decades-old manuscripts and transformed it into a contest novel.  It was Snow Babies, the first of my Valerie Clarke novels.  (That’s Val in the cover mock-up to the left above.)  I entered it in the 2012 Chanticleer Book Reviews’ Dante Rossetti YA Novel Contest.  I surprised myself by being one of eleven of the hundreds of contestants that made it to the final round of judging.  Of course, it is a contest open to anybody who could write a novel-length glop of words and pay the entry fee.  But the final round contained only those novels that could be actually considered viable for publication.  While I didn’t win a prize in that contest or get the recognition that might bring, I had my novel confirmed as something worth getting published.  So I vowed to find a publisher that would not charge me for the publication of my novel.

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So this time I found myself working with a small press called PDMI Publishing LLC.  They absolutely loved my novel and gave me a contract.  I had high confidence that I would see the novel in print.  And, as a business, PDMI actively worked not only on printing authors’ books, but on promoting and marketing them, putting in appearances at various Comicons and Dragoncons and other nerdy Con-cons.  They even owned their own bookstore at one point.  They assigned me an editor, Jessie Cornwell from Seattle, and she was a delight to work with, bringing insight and wisdom into the development of my work.  But one small problem developed.  Just as my novel became fully edited and ready for the next step, the whole publishing company broke down and went out of business.  It was sad.  So many, including me, had invested a large portion of themselves into the whole novel business; writing, editing, printing, and marketing.  So many were left scrambling with their hopes and dreams spilling out of the bicycle basket of PDMI after the bicycle crashed into a wall.  I completely lost touch with my editor, so I couldn’t even offer her money that I didn’t have to pay her with anyway for her wonderful work.  Something else had to come along to keep my dreams of putting Snow Babies into the dreams of the reading public truly alive.

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By now you have probably come to the unpleasant conclusion that there will be a Part 3 to this horrible rant.  But for me, it is a good thing.  It will contain the eventual solution I came up with, and will lead to a cold-comfort happy ending.

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Weekend Fun with Heart Attacks

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I’m not sure why I decided to have a heart attack over the holiday, but my body decided it was time and didn’t really give me a chance for input.   I should qualify it a little bit. I didn’t have an actual heart attack according to the final tests, but the preliminary tests were all red flags and shouting.

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So, I woke up in the middle of the night on Wednesday night with a pain in the left side of my chest.  My left arm was hurting and tingling with numbness.

Now, it is not something new.  I have arthritis in my rib cage and I tend to sleep on my left side.    So, although the pain was concerning, it was not reason to make a middle-of-the-night dash to the emergency room.  I eventually got back to sleep on my right side.  I was sluggish and ill the next morning, but I got a lot of house cleaning done and the chest pains were gone.

Thursday night the pains returned, but still not different than the arthritis pains that sent me to the cardiologist before, and not nearly as harsh and painful as the night before.   Again the pain went away in the day.

Friday night I picked up my son the Marine at the airport.  He was home on holiday leave.  We talked about my chest pains over a meal at I-hop.  He pulled rank on me and vowed to take me to the ER.  I talked him down to Primacare because it’s cheaper, still not believing it was real heart pain.

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The next morning Primacare didn’t go so well.  The EKG machine there predicted a major earthquake… or a typhoon, or something… and the Prima-doctor got all serious in the face.  “Do you want me to call an ambulance?  We are required to make the offer in these situations.”

“No, no.  My son is with me and can drive me to the Emergency Room.  I promise I will go.”

And so I did.

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At the ER they are very concerned that you don’t have anything in your pockets.  They quickly dressed me in a hospital gown and then surgically removed $200 (due to the wondrous way my insurance company has of not paying their portion of the bill).  So, lighter by that amount, they immediately hooked me up to their own EKG machine.  I had so many patches attached to the hair on my chest that I was guaranteed to be bald-chested when it came time to rip them all off again.  Then they  repeated the EKG testing done earlier in the day.  I swear, the same squirrel that was visiting Primacare when I was there earlier, sneaked into their EKG machine too and vigorously jumped up and down.  So, there it was.  The proof they needed that I had too much money left in my bank account.  And so they put me inside the hospital.

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Once inside, they rigged me up so one arm could be crushed by a BP sleeve every two hours, or more if they felt like it, and the other arm could be drained of blood so that they could tell if there was any further money in my bank account.

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Three days later, the enzymes in my blood said that what I had was mysterious and not a heart attack.  The stress test I had on Monday nearly killed me, and told them that I didn’t have enough money left in my bank account to keep in the hospital any longer.  I got out still wearing my arm band and allergy warning band as reminders that I really, really didn’t want to go back, but life is like that, and I still don’t know what caused it all, or if I will have to return to deal with it later on.

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Filed under autobiography, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, healing, health, humor, illness, Paffooney

The Current Cartoon Administration…

I don’t need to tell you what I really think about Trump, because I don’t use language that bad in public, and because cartoons capture what I think better than anything else does (except maybe the Mueller investigation… hopefully that captures Trump’s antics better.

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Dave Granlund / politicalcartoons.com

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It is really hard to believe all the fascist Shiite that is going on.

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Hypocrasysiphus

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And God said, “This world I have created is good.  It is very good.  In fact, it is too good.  We must balance the good with evil.”

Then God took a ball of elephant dung and created Republicans.

“You see, beloved ones, if the world is too good,” said God, “Then when I get full of wrath, there will be no one to smite.  You don’t want me too full of wrath.  I may pop like an overfilled balloon.  So someone needs to get struck by lightning to let off some of the pressure that has built up through the hard work of being God.”

So God took up a ball of old chicken guts and created Democrats.

“Why do  you always seem to let the evil ones get away with lying and deceit?” a prophet dared to ask.  “They cheat and steal and become wealthy, and then use that wealth to cover over their crimes, yet you do not smite them with lightning bolts?”

God threw a bolt of lightning and incinerated the prophet.

“I did say in the Bible somewhere that God helps those who help themselves.  I’m sure I remembered to put that in there somewhere.  God doesn’t make mistakes.  Or if He does, they are perfect mistakes.”

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“So you authorize the wealthy, who became wealthy by exploiting others, to commit further acts of exploitation until they virtually control the government and say that any crime is not a crime because they are now in charge of making the laws and deciding the consequences?” asked another brave but stupid prophet.

God immediately sent a plague of locusts to eat the prophet’s flesh down to the bone.

“The Bible says that all governments are put in place by God.  No government exists except with my approval.  If I don’t like them, I will remove them.  So if the government of the United States is to be run by my evil Republican creations, I merely have to create a lot of very stupid citizens who will vote to give everything to the rich and exploit everyone else, including those who basically voted against their own best interests.”

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Another rather stupid prophet got up to ask a question of God.  He raised one finger, opened his mouth, and was immediately turned into a pillar of salt.

“I have anticipated your question.  I do have a plan for mankind.  Remember the Greek myth of Sisyphus?  That old Greek idiot who has to labor for eternity rolling a heavy rock up a hill, and just as he almost reaches the top, it rolls back down on top of him and he has to start over at the bottom of the hill?  That is a metaphor for all human life and accomplishment.  Income inequality becomes a heavier and heavier burden as you near the goal of getting rid of it.  You have a Great Depression, then FDR comes along to fix things and help common people.  Then Reagan takes over with “trickle-down economics” and rolls you all back to the bottom of the hill.  It ends in Junior Bush’s Great Recession of ’08.  Obama comes along to fix that.  Then, in a sudden political reversal, the party of pure evil takes over again.  Back to the bottom of the hill we go.”

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And so, no further prophet got up to speak.  It was not because prophets had gotten any smarter.  No, it was because there were no prophets left.

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The Muffin Man Goes Uber-ing

I have been retired now for nearly four years.  It has not been an easy thing to adjust to.  I am used to hard work and constant thinking on my feet.  Yet I have been mostly confined to the house and unable to do much beyond write and drive my kids to the many places high school kids need to go.  I don’t really have trouble keeping busy, but I need to do something to reconnect to the outside world beyond the bedroom door.

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I have been teaching myself to cook.  These muffins are strawberry flavored and only require milk added to the mix, no eggs to crack and shell pieces to pick out of the batter.  I have also been learning the hard way how to burn the crap out of pans and muffin trays.  And… learning how to clean burned pans… but obviously not very well.

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I have been getting to know the oven quite well.  We talk about life and muffins and heat and baking times, and she is constantly beeping at me to warn me when things are about to burn.

She has also been giving me writing advice.  She got me talked into not burning my bank account any further by investing in publishing services.  Those goobers are mostly just money-grubbers in a dying industry.  My novel Stardusters and Space Lizards was thoroughly baked on this blog over the last sixty eight weeks, and so I needed to finally take it out of the oven.  This I did through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.  The book was formatted and put together in publishable form in a matter of days.  You can find it here on Amazon… My Book.  Page Publishing still has my novel Magical Miss Morgan in page formatting after over a year and a half of working with them. No way are their services worth the money I paid them.  They work slowly and dangerously incompetently.  I would sue them to get my money back, but it would cost me more for a lawyer than what I paid them.  So far with self-publishing I am only ten dollars in the hole, the amount I spent on copies of my own book.

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But as the stove pointed out heatedly, the kitchen and computer are not actually getting out of the house and meeting the world again after three and three quarters years.  And the chances of income from muffins and writing are slim.  So I also made a plan to be an Uber driver.  I got carefully signed up and prepared.  I was finally able to download the Uber driving app last weekend, and this weekend I finally felt well enough to try driving for money.  So last night I got in the car and connected with a potential passenger, my first ever Uber drive.

Of course, this is Mickey we are talking about here.  Nothing in my little life ever goes smoothly, especially at the start.  If things were perfect, I would definitely be worried that something was seriously wrong with the universe.  So, my first passenger was a guy who needed to be driven to the 7-Eleven to buy beer.  And naturally, I couldn’t find the place to start with.  The Uber computer-voice lady kept wanting me to download something in the middle of giving me directions.  She also wanted me to turn left and drive through a fence.  But when I finally did turn in to the apartment complex and realized that I was in the wrong section of the complex to pick up my passenger, I quickly corrected my error and found him.  Computer-voice lady kept telling me to turn the wrong direction, so I listened to my passenger to make the proper turns and got him there on time.  My car, however, overheated in the parking lot.  Now, that isn’t entirely accurate.  It has a faulty heat-sensor that registers overheating whenever the car is idling and heat is reflected back up from stationary pavement under the car.  I had the thing in to the dealer for the recall fix twice, and the replacement chips are just as defective as the original chips.  And, of course, I have been notified about the class action lawsuit, but because it is not a life-threatening malfunction, it may be some time before that is resolved.  So, I rolled down the windows and turned the car heater up high and reduced the heat the defective detector detected.  The drunk guy got back in the car with his beer and I successfully took him back to his apartment, his girlfriend, and his party.  I got a five star rating for the trip.  But I cut the night short.  I earned $4.oo total for the evening.  It wasn’t perfect, but I was finally out in the world again.  I was earning money again.  And I got to discuss the perils of diabetes with a drunk guy whose brother had juvenile diabetes.  Life is good… some of the time.

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