Let Voting Begin!

This is such an exciting time for indie (independent) authors!  Week 2 of the reader portion of the 2016 RONE Awards begins today! What is a RONE? From the InD’Tale website:

‘Each year InD’tale Magazine honors the very best books in the Indie and Small publishing industry by awarding the prestigious RONE award.  To achieve this award, a book  must go through the most comprehensive process in the industry today, with three distinct areas of focus.

  1. All books in each given year (January 1st – December 31st) must have been read and reviewed by our professional staff of reviewers and be given a four star rating or higher to qualify as a nominee.
  2. All nominees, with the exception of 5 star rated books which will automatically become finalists, must then be voted on by the reading public.  The books with the highest number of public votes will progress on to become finalists.
  3. The finalists will then be read by a group of industry professionals consisting of editors, writers, professors etc. and be judged on a one to five scale from a specific list of requirements such as characterization, overall arc, editing etc.   Those scores will then be tallied by a professional company unrelated to InD’tale or its employees to determine the winner of the coveted RONE award, along with the honorable mentions.

All awards are announced at the annual RONE award gala event and ceremony and given the beautiful Crystal RONE award. This is a formal but extremely fun and entertaining night for all, one that truly honors all Indie and Small published authors, readers and professionals!’

In 2014, my book, Rowan’s Lady won for Best Historical Pre-Medieval Novel! As soon as my office is done, that puppy is going on my mantle! 😀 

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Each Monday, new categories are posted on the InD’Tale website. Reader voting is an extremely important to the RONE process. Books need votes in order to move on to the second round. Without reader votes, our books don’t move forward.

After all the votes are tallied, those books with the most votes move on to the second round where they are read and judged by professionals in the publishing industry. The book with the top score wins the RONE for that category. Winning a RONE is like winning a Grammy! 😀

This year, I have several books up for RONE’s: The With Dreams Only Of You Anthology (voting took place last week), Caelen’s Wife for Best Historical Pre-Medieval (April 25 – May 1), Saving Moirra’s Heart for Best Novella (May 16 – 22), and The King’s Courtesan for Best Historical Post-Medieval (May 23 – 29).

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Some frequently asked questions:

Q: How do I vote? A: Just visit the InD’Tale Magazine Website by clicking here. You must be a subscriber to the magazine in order to vote. Don’t panic! It’s free, super easy, and they do not flood you with hundreds of emails a week. (One more reason I love the site!)

Q: Can I vote more than once? A: No. It is one vote per subscriber.

Q: When do we find out who moves on to the second round? A: Once all the votes are in and tallied.

Q: How long does voting last? A: 6 weeks. Each week they post new categories.

Q: Can I nominate a book? A: No. Only those books that were previously submitted to InD’Tale Magazine for a review and received a 4 or 5 star review are eligible.

Q: When do we find out who won? A: In October! None of us knows until the RONE awards ceremony that takes place on Saturday night during the InD’Scribe Author and Reader Conference!

Q: Can I attend the ceremony? A: YES! You can attend the entire conference if you want. Join us for a day or a week. (This is the most fun you’ll have at any conference!) Click here for more information.

I thank you all in advance for your kind support!

FLAT DREAMS COVER

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Book Pirates: A/K/A Asshats

I RARELY discuss piracy. But I ran across something today that infuriated me. It’s not just the fact that someone has STOLEN my book and now offers it for free — I’m used to that. I’ve been fighting pirates since 2012. What bothered me most was the discussion taking place at the pirate site. Between those people taking advantage of this pirated book site. 

People openly discussing how easy it was to get a copy of my book for free. Openly discussing the simplicity, the ease of getting a ‘free’ copy. Bragging about it. Happy about it.

I figure if they can discuss openly about how easy and happy they were to get my books, they won’t mind if I post the screenshots of the discussion.  I took these this afternoon, directly from the pirate site: (NOTE: this is NOT a FB page. It is pulled directly from the pirate site.)

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If you are getting MY books from this website, please note the following: The books are stolen. Yes, STOLEN as in PIRATED. The ONLY place where you will find my books for sale legitimately are iBooks, B&N, Kobo, and Amazon, Tolino, and audio books at Audible.com.  If you ‘buy’ or get a ‘free’ copy anywhere else, know in advance that it is a stolen, pirated and illegitimate copy.

The problem is rampant. Pirate sites run without fear.

When I told my fellow author and friend Kathryn Le Veque about today’s events, she was not surprised. Just last week, her personal assistant had to send out 641 take down letters. No, that isn’t a typo. SIX HUNDRED FORTY-ONE DCMA take down letters in one week. For those of you who don’t know, that is the letter we have to send out to pirate sites letting them know they are in violation of US Copyright law, please cease and desist, stop immediately. This is almost a full time job for her assistant. 

When Kathryn released her latest book, Queen of Lost Stars, it was on 7 pirate sites within an hour of the book going live. ONE HOUR. SEVEN PIRTAE SITES.

I firmly believe that if it weren’t for people like those listed in the screen shots above, this problem would not be as big as it is. It’s kind of like the old Napster argument, but with writers: Authors make enough money as it is. What does it hurt them if I get a free, pirated book? Or, the other argument: I can’t afford to read all the books I want to read. Might I suggest a freaking library card? My books are in libraries around the world. And if your local library isn’t carrying them, ask your librarian. They’ll be more than happy to get them in for you.

If their arguments held true, I’d be able to go into a Cadillac dealership and take a free Caddy. Because we all know that the car manufacturers make gobs of money. What will it hurt them if I take one? What will it hurt if I buy a stolen Cadillac? Or what about TVs? Food? Clothes?

Most readers understand that authors work hard. It can take months, if not years, to write one book. But in addition to writing the book, we have to pay for editors, final proofers, cover artists, ARC copies, narrators, formatters… it can be expensive. My last book cost around $3,000 — cover, editor, final proofer, etc. That does not include the countless hours of actually writing the book.

Add to that the cost of either hiring someone to issue DCMA take down letters to these asshats/pirate sites — or the time and energy an author must spend doing it herself — and costs really start to add up. Some authors barely make enough to pay the bills.

So to those of you who do take advantage of all these pirate sites, I say this to you: You ARE hurting the author. You’re taking money out of their pocket. Money they could use to pay bills or help pay for their kids’ braces. Or like me, helping out my daughter financially while her daughter, a micro preemie, is spending the next three months in the NICU. We’re not all sitting back and raking in the money. We’re not lighting $300 cigars with hundred dollar bills.  Most of us are simply trying to make a living doing something we love.

Yes, I make a damned fine living. But I work hard at it. I work 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. I’ve earned what I have. No one gave it to me and I sure as hell didn’t steal it from anyone. Just because I make a damned fine living does not give someone the right to steal from me.

When you steal a book from me, it’s the same as stealing money out of my wallet. It’s the same for every author out there. You’re STEALING. Plain and simple.

DRM Encryption is meant to help keep our books from being pirated.  But we’re told to offer DRM encryption free books to make it easier for readers to buy a book at Amazon then load it to their Nook or Kobo Glo or other reader or what have you. When we do that, it makes it even easier for asshat pirates to make their own copies of our books and either offer them for free or sell them.  So we’re stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

Honestly, I don’t have an answer to pirates other than to call keep sending out these stupid DCMA Takedown letters. Which is a huge time waster because once you get a book taken down, it’s up on another site within an hour. It’s a never-ending, frustrating, mind-boggling pain in the ass.

The DCMA take down letters do next to nothing to stop piracy. A lot of the pirate sites are in Russia. Good luck getting OUR government to take this problem seriously.

I have no idea how much money I or any other author loses on a daily basis to pirates. If Kathryn Le Veque’s problem is any indication, we are talking some serious money.  I am less than hopeful that this problem will ever be solved.

So for now, we continue to send out these letters. We will continue to shake our heads in frustration. What else can we do? The government refuses to do anything. The pirate sites know that and that is another reason they keep doing what they’re doing.

Until people stop taking books from these pirate sites the problem won’t go away. Until then, the pirates and the users of these sites, know that we are watching you. And shame on you.

I Am Blessed

I am blessed. No matter what life has in store for our Wee Warrior Princess, we are blessed.

You see lots of things in the NICU. Sad things. Things that make your heart sink to your toes. Moments you don’t want to think about, let alone repeat. Ugly, terrifying things.

Then there are joyous moments, don’t get me wrong. Moments such as when a baby gets to go home for the first time

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Warrior Princess – Kangaroo time with her mamma!

. I’m not jealous. Those babies and their families paid their dues. I know our turn will come eventually. For now, I know my granddaughter is in the best possible place, receiving the best possible care.

You also see beautiful moments. Such as when a baby gets her first bottle. Or when a grandparent gets to hold their grandchild for the first time.  Or when a baby gets to go home. You also get to watch the love between a mother and father.

Two days ago, I witnessed something that made me glad to be human. It also tore at my heart and brought back a flood of memories. Things have certainly changed since last I was here, back in the late 80’s. Malea is in the same hospital where her mamma and her auntie had their open-heart surgeries when they were babies. It was the best hospital then, and it still is. Better even. The technology has changed, but the heart of the NICU has not. Their goal back then was to get babies better and back to their families. It holds true today.

Back in the 80’s (when I was very young and not nearly as worldly and experienced as I am now lol) we were dirt-stinkin’ poor. Didn’t have two nickels to rub together. I do not jest or exaggerate when I say I often had to add two cans of water to a 29 cent can of chicken soup in order to make it stretch. We were that kind of poor.

My daughter Emilee was 13 days old in 1987 and in congestive heart-failure the first time I walked into OSF Hospital. She’d been flown in by helicopter from our local hospital. She was my first baby. I didn’t know a damned thing about hearts let alone heart failure and infants. I was a first time mom. I felt like a failure, like I’d done something wrong. I now know I wasn’t a failure and her condition was not my fault.

Had it not been for a very kind and observant social worker, I would not have eaten while I was here. She gave me a voucher so that I could get one meal from the cafeteria per day. If memory serves me correctly, I had the choice of a grilled cheese, a hamburger, or peanut butter sandwich, chips, and a drink. I would save my cup to fill with water from the water fountains the rest of the day. I was so thankful for that one meal a day. I was here alone, scared, and didn’t have a clue what to do or expect. But I survived. Those difficult and terrifying times can either make you or break you. I refused to be defeatist or down. My baby needed me.

Fast forward to today. NICU parents can order one meal/tray per meal per day. So three squares a day. They have everything from steak to baked ziti, 6 different kinds of salads, soups, desserts… it’s a pretty nice spread.

There is a young couple here. And by young, I’m guessing they’re not much past 19 or 20. Sweet, adorable couple with a baby in one of these NICU neighborhoods. You could tell mamma had given birth recently because she had that way of walking we can all recognize. The walk that says ‘ouch’.

I was in the NICU family dining room two days ago and there they were, this sweet young couple. There was one tray set on the table in front of them. What I witnessed restored my faith in humanity and in our youth. The dad, this very young-looking kid, he was doing everything he could to make the mother of his child comfortable. They had one tray to share. He made certain she ate first. He was up and down, getting her ice, napkins, whatever she needed. I watched, quietly observing as my heart melted. There was one cup of soup. She wanted crackers, he didn’t. But he insisted she put the crackers in. They spoke Spanish, so I couldn’t understand most of what they said, only the part about no crackers in the soup. She would take a few bites of the chicken and mashed potatoes, then pretend she was full. He knew better.

It was their eyes that spoke more than words ever could. The way they looked at one another. Adoration, devotion, love. Even at such a young age. This young man kept encouraging this beautiful new mom to eat, to drink. Each time he said something, she would look up at him and smile, take another bite, then push the food toward him. He would refuse until she had eaten. It went on like that until the tray was empty. If they continue on this path of adoration and love, they could conquer the world and survive anything.

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Warrior Princess

I am so blessed. Blessed in that I have some experience with sick babies. Everything from open-heart surgeries, to kidney surgeries, to epilepsy, one emergency appendectomy and a tonsillectomy. This is not my first rodeo and I’m sure it won’t be my last.

But this time around, I’m not so penniless that I can’t buy lunch. I am blessed in that I can make sure mamma, daddy and baby have everything they need. Not only are they being covered in prayer, we have their backs. They have a huge pool of wonderful family members who love them and are there for them, any time of day or night. They have each other. They love each other, mamma and daddy. With a love that strong, they can handle anything that comes their way. I firmly believe that.

I want to help those moms and dads who aren’t as blessed financially as we are. I spoke with two lovely social workers today. I’ll soon be working on helping with fundraisers for the NICU. I’ll finally be able to give back in ways I never would have thought possible 29 years ago. I’ll be able to help all the mms who are like I was; terrified and penniless. No mom or dad should have to endure days, weeks or even months in the NICU on an empty stomach, without a buck for a coke or a cup of coffee

I am blessed.

Today’s Nick Name For Our Little Bundle:

Today’s nick name for our little bundle of joy:  Niblet, Warrior Princess!
Finishing up morning coffee then off to see Niblet. She’s doing great! She has been breathing on her own since she was born, which is awesome! She’s very active, and by very active, I mean she is kicking, stretching, yawning, and yes, she cries. She sounds like a little kitten when she cries!
All of her ‘numbers’ are fantastic. Her alarms have only gone off twice since she was born and she self-corrected each time.
She was born at 25 weeks and 4 days gestation.
And yes, she has a pacifier already! lol She keeps putting her fingers in her mouth to suck (which I’m told she shouldn’t be doing for 2 more weeks) and when she does that, she pulls on the tube. she also likes to grab the other wires and pull on them.

It’s Not July

Yesterday, April 3, 2016, was one of the longest days of my life.

My daughter went into labor. The problem was, she wasn’t due until July 13.  Distraught, she kept crying – “It’s not July yet. It’s too soon. It’s not July.”

It’s not July.

Her daughter apparently did not care what month it is.

Born at 12:40 yesterday afternoon, our little princess weighed in at a whopping 1 pound 11 1/2 ounces and is 12 1/2 inches long. More than 24 hours old now, she is still breathing on her own, which is miraculous considering the circumstances. Who knows why these things happen, but as evidenced by the other 19 premees in the NICU, it happens frequently.

Thus begins a new journey in our lives.

IMG_2743We do not have a name for this tiny little baby yet. Her mamma hasn’t been able to make up her mind yet. She’ll probably end up with 8 names. A moniker that is longer than she is. But that’s ok, she’s beautiful and perfect and we could not love her more. Yesterday, I was calling her Princess Bob. Today, I called her Princess Snugglebottoms. I’m giving her a new nick name every day until her mamma picks out a permanent name for her. 🙂

One day, I plan on telling her this story, of the day she was born. I can picture her now, with dark ringlets and a bright smile, listening to me ramble on about what a perfect but tiny baby she was. I can already see her smile at me, perhaps she’ll roll her eyes and saying something sweet such as, “Bob? Snuggle bottoms? Grandma, what were you thinking?”

IMG_2745But that day is a long way off. For now, our lives will consist of the NICU at OSF – the best hospital this baby and her mamma could hope to be in. It will consist of IV’s and tubes in her little belly button. Of blood tests and blood levels, incubators, machines, and nurses who should be sainted. There are countless long days and nights ahead, filled with questions, worries, concerns and I am sure, scary and terrifying moments.

But it will also be filled with hope, awe, and faith. I refuse to worry at this point. I refuse to allow worry and dread to take over. I’m going to focus only on miraculous milestones, such as ‘she’s x hours old’, then ‘x days old’, then weeks, then months.

In my heart, it was still a joyous day, even if it was filled with several terrifying and heartbreaking moments. And when I heard her cry for the first time – she sounded like a newly born kitten – I did not think I would be able to stop the tears of joy at that blessed, beautiful sound.

No matter the outcome, this baby is a blessing.

I am blessed in that my job is completely portable. All I need is my laptop. But for now, I’m putting all writing on hold. My daughter, my granddaughter, they need me. I’m also blessed that I’m only 15 minutes from the hospital. I’ll take my work with me if I need to or when things settle down a bit.

My daughter lives an hour away and has a 5 year old in kindergarten. During the week, she’ll be at home with my grandson and I will be at the hospital with the little one. On the weekends, Emilee and my grandson be living with us so that she can spend as much time as possible with her precious daughter. This week my husband and son will be busy rearranging furniture and finding creative ways to find room for extra people.

IIMG_2749t has been a very long three days, but things will settle down soon enough when we are finally able to get into a rhythm of sorts. For now, I’m enjoying every single moment with this precious, beautiful baby with the dark hair, and long  ‘piano finger’, and the button nose, and tiny toes.

My daughter gets to go home tomorrow. It’s going to be a little disappointing not taking the baby with us. But as I told Emilee tonight, by the time the baby can come home, Emilee will be well rested and back to her old self, instead of sore, exhausted, and hormonal. Hey, you have to find those silver linings wherever you can!

I ask that you keep my daughter, granddaughter, and family in your prayers.

I thank you in advance for your kind understanding of my publishing delays for 2016.

Sincerely,

Suzan Tisdale

Very proud grandma to Princess Snugglebottoms