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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Don't Tell Anyone...

 https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/261263

Oh I am so excited!  I had the privilege of previewing this title while Laurie was still working on it and have been waiting anxiously for the paperback to come out. But first, I will give you the short version, so you know what I'm talking about.

Estelle Trager would rather die outright than suffer from the breast cancer that devastated her mother. So when her own tumors are revealed, she asks her daughter-in-law, Liza, to kill her. Horrified, Liza refuses, but keeps the secret, and other things, from her angry husband. Can she convince Estelle to consider other options before cancer, secrets, and Estelle’s suicidal intentions win out? 

Now I know a few of you would jump at the chance to kill your mothers-in-law. (Not me, I love my MIL.."Hi Linda, I love you, dearie.") But nobody would actually consider it...would you? Estelle, who watched her own mother suffer and die from cancer, and although she saw the signs of her own illness...she basically chose to ignore them.  By the time a diagnosis has been made, Estelle decides she wants to die on her own terms and enlists the help of her daughter-in-law Liza; the girl she once referred to as a "godless hippie."  Of course, Liza refuses to be part of such a plan, but agrees to keep the diagnoses a secret from Estelles son Adam, who is also her Type-A, anal-retentive, control freak husband who also has obvious sibling rivalry issues regarding his brother Charlie, whom Liza briefly dated before him. (Yes all this is happening, and yes, it all works.)

Well, anyway, you may think this is one of those sappy, "everyone pulls together in times of strife" lifetime movie type book, but, no.  Cancer doesn't work that way. Cancer is scary. People's feelings and wishes often get overlooked when others become hell bent on saving them. Nobody is on the same page here, just as it often is in times like this. Liza is a nutritionist and spends most of the time trying to shove wheat grass and herbal tea into Estelle, who doesn't want any part of it. Adam is hell bent on treatment no matter what, and Charlie just sits back and tries his best to put out whatever fires pop up.  Estelle just wants to live as she always has, eating what she wants, drinking what she wants, and taking care of herself. Nobody wants to listen to her and wind up treating her like a child which angers this fiesty old bird to no end. 

I got to read this wonderful novel at a time when all these things were actually happening to me. My dear Aunt Judi was diagnosed with cancer and kept it a secret from us until she had two months left. The family lost their minds. Some wanted treatment, some wanted to let her live out her life in peace, and Aunt Judi was Aunt Judi to the very end. Organized and efficient, she made sure we all got what she wanted us to have. She let us help her when she needed it, and shooed us away when she didn't. We all got to be with her when this wonderful woman left this earth and it was the most precious moment in my life, so this novel hit me extremely hard. I identified with some characters, was angry at others, developed a little crush on Charlie and loved them all, especially Estelle. The whole story is brilliantly written and woven together so well you feel like you are reading about your own family.

Don't Tell Anyone is available now on Smashwords, and will be available soon for kindle and paperback on Amazon.com. For less than the price of a latte, you can experience a story you will never forget. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Let The Children Read

I apologize. I have been woefully negligent in my blogging as of late. I have been hard at work on my latest work, a children's book called, "Why Did It Have To Rain Today?".  It's about a little boy whose plans for a wonderful Saturday outdoors is ruined by a rainstorm. When his mom tells him to read a book and wait for the rain to pass, Jack is aghast. Read a book?? On a Saturday?? But Jack finds that reading can be an adventure and a fine way to spend a rainy day.

Now I wrote this book for a reason. I have four children. One in college, one in high school, one in jr. high and one in elementary, and I have noticed a trend over the last few years that has me a little disturbed. When I was a kid, we read books and did these things called "book reports". This is probably where I get my love of book reviews. Nowadays, books are read for "points." Each book is worth a certain amount of points depending on the reading level and length of book. All sounds pretty kosher, right? That's what I thought. Now, herein lies the problem. Teachers are not only assigning books of a certain point value, but also of certain genres. Now I can see how this could be beneficial, to a point. It is sort of like having a child try lima beans for the first time. Either they like them, and like lima beans forever, or they make the WTF face and spit them right back at you like a pez dispenser, never to touch a lima bean again.

Genres are like that. I have read science fiction, I do not like science fiction. I tried it, I don't like it, end of story. Being forced to read genres that they have tried and do not like serves no purpose but to turn kids off of reading altogether. They will read what they have to to get their "points" but if reading becomes a chore, kids will never learn to read for pleasure. And that, my dear children, is a very sad thing.

I recently picked out a book I thought my nine year old would like. She looked me in the eye and told me flat out, "I can't read that, it won't count."  It won't count?  Are you kidding me?  It wasn't in the genre she was assigned and therefore she wasn't going to read it because she would not get credit for it. I asked her, "Can't you do a book report on it?" She looked at me like I was from outer space. It was clear that she had no idea what a book report was. I am not a teacher, and I am not here to tell them how to do their jobs, but I say let the children read. If they have read at least one book in the genre assigned and finished it and have voiced their opinions that they don't like that kind of book, by all means, let them find a book that interests them. Let them read for reading's sake, and, guess what? If you let them do book reports, you'll find out exactly how they feel about a story, which is far more interesting than five questions on a standard test. Don't you agree?

Nurture a love of a good story by reading your kids "Why Did It Have To Rain Today?" Available in paperback and kindle on Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/Why-Have-Rain-Today-ebook/dp/B009EO6K66/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1348375156&sr=1-5&keywords=donna+dillon

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A sucker for a good story.

I love video games. Not just any old video games, but video games that make me THINK. I am especially fond of detective games that send me searching through haunted castles looking for clues in rooms full of hidden objects. I have been known to stare at my computer screen intently, searching for an elusive banana peel or the top half of a broken umbrella, (yes, these are the types of things they make you look for) and for what, you ask? Because, there is a mystery to be solved!

I recently played a game like this called The Mystery of The Briar Rose. If you didn't already know, Briar Rose is another name for The Sleeping Beauty. Immediately, I was intrigued. I love this story. My role, as detective, (hee hee..I'm a detective...cool!) is to search the castle and find the clues that will awaken the sleeping princess. Now, I know what you're thinking. The prince's kiss is supposed to awaken the princess, right??? Wrong. In this version, apparently the princes kiss broke the curse that caused the townspeople to fall asleep but the poor princess still lies sleeping in the castle somewhere.

The very opening scene of this game almost made me doubt my intelligence.  I came upon two statues. Fairy Godmothers I am told, except for one of the fairies doesn't have a head.  Apparently, having a head is crucial...who knew?? So, off I go in search of the head of the Sleeping Beauty's fairy godmother. I'm in good shape, I've got a fresh pot of coffee and some snacks for energy.

10:00 p.m.  2 hours and 1/2 a pot of coffee later, I still have not found the head of the fabled fairy godmother, I have, however, found a knife, a lantern and half of a sun disc that I have no idea what to do with. More coffee..onward and upward.

Midnight:  I have been at this for four hours. I'm out of coffee and haven't found this stupid head. I have found a well, and I suspect that the fairy's head has been tossed down there. But I have no bucket. I need a bucket. Where the hell am I going to find a bucket? I have now woke the dog up by yelling at the screen and he is pissed.  Oh, well...off I go to find a frigging bucket.

1:30 a.m. I have found said bucket and traipsed it all the way through the castle and out to the courtyard to the well..apparently, you can't use the bucket in the well without a rope. Are you freaking serious? If I could, I would throw the bucket down the well and hope that bitch's head shatters into a million friggin' pieces. After 5 1/2 hours I am invested and I am determined to find this lazy princess and wake her ass up...if I'm not sleeping, neither is she.

3:00 a.m.  I have an hour before my husband gets up for work and finds out I have been up all night playing a game.  I have found the rope and just as I suspected, the fairy godmother's head is down in the well. (I suspect it was thrown there by the last person to play this game.) I traipse this head back out of the courtyard, through the creepy cemetery and all the way back to the beginning of the game to give it back to the rightful owner. A little drawer appears which holds the 2nd half of the sun disc. Really?? That's all I get??? The second part of a stupid disc that I have no idea what to do with. Do I give up?? No.  Wanna know why?  Because I am brainless...that's why.  Back into the castle I go to shove this disc somewhere....anywhere.

4:00 a.m.  I have finally found the princess and the use of the sun disc.  I did it!!!  She is awake and has an important message for me! This is why I have solved all these puzzles, searched all the rooms and stayed awake until my eyes felt like they were going to jump out of my head. I press my face even closer to the computer screen because I have now lost most of my brain cells and congnitive function. The message from my beloved Briar Rose:

Thank you for awakening me. But you must hurry and find the Frog Prince before the curse floods the entire kingdom and kills us all!!

Awwww...hell no. I did my job...those bastards can fend for themselves .Looking over at the dog who is even more annoyed with me than before, I shut the lid of my computer. My husband, now awake and  ready for work gives me a funny look as he finds me still awake and trying to apologize to a dog.

"Everything okay?"

I peer at him through bloodshot eyes. My hair is standing on end from running my fingers through it in frustration. My hands are shaking from the constant infusion of coffee and my legs feel like jello.

"Yep.  The princess is awake, but the townspeople better learn to swim...fast."

He didn't even bat an eye. That's not even the strangest thing I've said to him this week.



Thursday, August 16, 2012

I am an Indie Mudblood.

  I received a one-star review for Through The Gloaming not too long ago that really disturbed me. Not that it was a bad review, as an author, and an Indie author, you develop a thick skin. I don't like them, but I understand that not everyone is going to like your work. But, it was the reasons the reviewer gave that really chapped my ass. I got the distinct impression that I lost 3 stars the minute the review realized I was an Indie author.

Believe it or not, there are some reviewers out there targeting Indie authors for bad reviews. Us Indies have become the Mudbloods of the publishing world.  Much like Salazar Slytherin tried to keep the Mudbloods out of Hogwarts, some people seek to keep the publishing world pure. I only have one thing to say about that.  PFFFFFTTTTTTT!!! ( I hope I didn't get any on you....)

Listen up.  If you want to review my book...at least read it first. Don't assume that because I am an Indie author, I didn't have an editor. I did. Don't assume I self-published because I was turned down by "legitimate" publishers, I wasn't. And don't assume that because I am an Indie author, my story will be weak and full of plot holes. Give it an actual shot and read it, you might be pleasantly surprised.  

My mother used to say: "When you assume you make an "Ass" out of "U" and "Me". Don't taint the waters with undeserved bad reviews. Let the Muggles decide for themselves, us Mudbloods are here to stay.



Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hello...My Name Is Donna...I Am a Grammar Nazi

I am a grammar nazi. I'll admit it. I am that annoying person who will correct you if you improperly use the words there, their or they're, your or you're, and who or whom. I drive my children crazy to the point where they will no longer let me read their school papers. Apparently, I am more picky than their English teacher. I am not a total hard ass though, I can forgive the occasional misplacement of a comma, or even an errant semicolon, but Heaven help you if I find a dangling participle or, if you really want to see me go off the deep end, end a sentence with a preposition. I am convinced that my children do this just to watch me snap.

I am an even worse critic when it comes to spelling. I understand that not everyone is a great speller, I get that, but, in my opinion, we should leave certain jobs to the good spellers. For instance, the person who writes the daily specials on the dry-erase boards at restaurants. I realize that this is not a life or death situation for most people, but for someone like me to have to sit and stare at a board proclaiming the pie of the day to be "Bananna Creem Pie" is pure torture. I couldn't focus. I could feel myself starting to sweat as I stared at these two innocent little words until, finally, I cracked. I got up from the table, erased the offending words, and wrote them correctly. I returned to my seat where my lunch date was trying desperately to make himself invisible, and smiled sweetly at the waitress who was clearly not amused. I felt better, though, and that was all that mattered to me.

Another profession where good spelling comes in handy is if you are a tattoo artist. While watching the Olympics, I heard a story about a British woman who was chosen to be a torch bearer. Wanting to commemorate this auspicious event, she headed down to her local tattoo parlor and got a lovely tattoo of the olympic rings.  Underneath the rings were the words "Oylmpic torch bearer".  I kid you, not. They f***king spelled the word OLYMPIC wrong on this poor woman's tattoo. HER TATTOO. She will now have to walk around for God knows how long with this glaring error permanently inked on her body. OH. MY. GOD.  I could never survive this. I couldn't. I would have to amputate my arm or something. So, if you are going to get a tattoo, take a few seconds and check to make sure that the spelling is correct before this bonehead inks you up. You might think that this doesn't happen often, but google misspelled tattoos....OH MY GOD.

And as anal-retentive as I can be about grammar and spelling in other people's work, I cannot, for the life of me, edit my own work. I find this to be unfair, and truly would not have believed it if I had not witnessed it for myself. I sent the manuscript for my last book to have it edited by the oh-so-brilliant Laurie E. Boris.  I had read it over, more than once, and was quite sure she was not going to have to do much work at all.....WRONG.  Boy, was I wrong.  I was astounded at the grammar mistakes I made that I never caught. Not huge errors, but pissy little errors, lot and lots of pissy little errors. I was humiliated until Laurie informed me that this was normal. People generally can't spot errors in their own work. They have read and re-read it so many times that their minds basically skip errors that they would otherwise catch. So the moral of this story, my dear children, is invest in a good editor, or at the very least, a fresh pair of eyes. They are truly worth their weight in gold.

Friday, August 10, 2012

What's The Point?

 I am totally having a "Why bother" moment here. My sales suck, I am blogging, tweeting, and networking myself to death and still it doesn't seem to make a difference.  My poor titles are destined to remain buried beneath a hundred thousand other titles where they will die in obscurity.  Yep..I'm feeling sorry for myself.

I've got family drama, money drama, kids to feed, animals to feed, a house that looks like a tornado went through it and I sit here wondering where my creative mojo went....really???  I haven't written a cohesive sentence or even picked up my sketchbook to work on the illustrations for my next book in over a week, but I have managed to watched 10,000 hours of Olympic coverage, a Bear's game, and the new episode of Project Runway.  It is obvious that I have lost focus.

It's not like I haven't TRIED to find it. I had every intention of picking that sketch book up and getting some work done, but when I reached for it the phone rang and I talked to my cousin for an hour. Then I made a pot of coffee and I tried again, one little sketch, just to get the creative juices flowing, but I dropped my pencil under the couch. I retrieved the pencil but found a host of other nasty little things hiding under the couch that I had to get rid of...hair ties, silverware, Halloween candy from three years ago.  By then I was exhausted and needed a nap. Then it was school physical, daughter to tennis practice, yet another marathon phone call and supper.

Now that all that is taken care of, I settle into my chair. My sketch pad sits on the floor next to me, and I look at it....but the Bear's game is starting. How can I possibly focus on drawing when my beloved Monster of the Midway are playing????  Well, I can't...I know my limitations. By the time the game is over, it's just too late to start anything tonight.  Tomorrow is another day, after all.

Tomorrow I will blog, and tweet, and network. My title is free on amazon so I will watch the numbers of downloads rise and hope for some decent reviews at least. I will find my mojo and actually get some work done...after I've had my coffee, of course.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Snake-Pit-Torture-ebook/dp/B006RO3NP2/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1344571583&sr=8-2&keywords=donna+dillon

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What if this is it??

When I wrote my first book, The Snake Pit: Jr. High Can Be Torture back in 2010, I had a clear purpose. Bullying has become an epidemic in this country to the extent that children are literally dying. I wanted to change that, to make a difference. One day, I received a letter from a child that started out, "I am a bully." Uh, oh..this can't be good. She went on to say that she had read my book and it really affected her. "I didn't realize how much I was hurting this girl, and I promise I will never be a bully again." SCORE!  Even if I never sell another copy, I have made a difference in at least one child's life.

When I wrote my second novel, Through The Gloaming, I really only had one purpose in mind. To prove that I really was a writer and that my first book was not just a fluke. It took a solid year of blood, sweat and tears, but I did it, and I am pretty happy with how the story came out. No sooner did I publish, then people started asking me when my next book was coming out. Dear God...I have not caught my breath from the last one! But it got me thinking....what if this is it? What if I am never able to come up with a decent story idea ever again? People are expecting me to come up with something!  My brain immediately went into panic mode.

The stress of this industry is sometimes overwhelming. Trying to balance writing, publishing and promoting my book along with taking care of the rest of the responsibilities of my day-to-day life is exhausting. I am also obsessively checking sales stats which I have to stop doing because it is making me a nervous wreck. I worry over everything, but mostly I worry that I am going to let everybody down.

So, after a few months of trying to come up with a new story idea, I decided to put that on hold and work on the illustrations for a children's book I had written a few years ago. Can you believe it? I got myself an "idear"  Is it a good idea?  I don't know yet, I think it might be, but I'm going to let it simmer for awhile while I finish up this children's book. It turns out I just needed to switch gears for a bit and let the story ideas come to me. Good thing too, quitting is not an option for me.

I am a writer, and a writer writes....always.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hey! Next Time You Have A Thought...Let It Go.

Having been bullied as a child, I have little tolerance for people who lack filters. You know the ones I am talking about: the people who make snide little remarks about other people and then try to disguise it with cute little phrases like.."LOL" "JK" or my personal favorite, "No Offense."

Why do people do that?? I cringe when I hear the words, "No offense" because I know what's going to happen....I am about to be seriously offended.  "No offense but....when you wear your hair that way it makes your nose look really big...I'm just sayin'" ("I'm just sayin'" is apparently code for "I want you to think I'm trying to help, but I really just want you to feel ugly and inferior) "When you wear your make-up like that, you really can't tell your one eye is bigger than the other...LOL"  "LOL"= I want you to think I'm joking, but really I am trying to point out your flaws so nobody else will comment on how pretty you look.)

We all know someone like this, someone who just can't help themselves. I have have dealt with many of them in my life and I only lost my cool once. NO, I didn't hit her...I wanted to, I even have a plan to in one of my next books, but I didn't. I just smiled.  I smiled and started to talk. (This is where I almost lost her, because she was pretty, but not the sharpest tool in the shed...I had to speak slowly and clearly so she could fully absorb what I was saying.)  "You look really beautiful tonight, but if I may make a suggestion...perhaps you should re-evaluate the whole thinking and talking thing...no offense, but the next time you have a thought...let it go. I'm just sayin', when you open your mouth, the ugliness inside starts to show through and the whole pretty package that you've cultivated so carefully is just wasted, and we don't want that, do we? No we don't. So, next time you think it will be funny to say something nasty think twice. Shut your mouth and smile pretty, and leave the thinking and talking to those of us who can actually handle it."

She stood there for a minute, and I was pretty sure she missed most of it, then she said the only thing she could think of.

"Whatever."

Win.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Monster Under My Bed.

Like many artistic-minded people, I have ADHD. I don't currently take medication for this, although I probably should be, by the bucketful, because sometimes it is just exhausting to be me. My brain doesn't ever seem to shut down, not even for a minute. For those of you who don't understand, let me try and explain. It is very much like some outside force has a giant remote control that is constantly changing channels in my head. I could be sitting in a classroom listening to a lecture and my brain would just switch channels and suddenly I'd be thinking, "If Wile E. Coyote had all this money for Acme products, why didn't he just order a pizza?"  This is probably the reason I have 100 college credit hours and no degree.

Because of this, I am also terribly disorganized. I am constantly losing money, keys, my car in the parking lot, and is probably the reason I found the telephone in the freezer the other day. Sleep is a literal nightmare. It doesn't matter how tired I am, as soon as I lay down, random thoughts creep into my head like the monster under the bed and take over. I find myself reliving conversations, making shopping lists, even creating story lines (which is not good, then I have to get up and write them down before the channel changes in my head; makes for great stories, but no sleep.)

Now, I have often wondered what a "normal' person's sleep is like. I dream...always. Vivid, clear, crazy dreams every night. Dreams that constantly change and evolve into even crazier dreams. Sometimes I wake up even more tired than when I went to bed. I just smile and nod when a friend starts a conversation with "I had a dream last night..."  Really?  A dream?  I can recall 6 from just one night alone. But, I don't say anything. It's best not to monopolize the conversation and scare the poor girl to death.

I have managed, somehow, to produce two published books. I did this by setting myself deadlines. Without deadlines I would have no less than 50 unfinished stories all jumbled together resembling something akin to the Unibomber's manifesto. I may procrastinate until the last minute, but, by golly, if the deadline is looming, I am writing like a mad woman. It works for me. I may have to poke the monster a few times to get him to go back under the bed, but it's worth it to see a project completed. Because having ADHD does not mean you can't....it means you just have to do things....oh, look at the kitty...

Um..what were we talking about???

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Oh, The Rejection....

My non-writer friends often tell me, "I couldn't be a writer, I couldn't handle the rejection. How do you do it?"  Easy. I have never been rejected by a publishing company. Not once. Not ever.

People not in the industry have a glorified idea of what it's like to publish a novel. The days of finishing your manuscript and sending it off to the publishers are long gone. We are not currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts, or We are no longer accepting manuscripts from new authors. That's the brick wall you run into when researching publishing companies. You can get an agent, and have them submit for you, but not many reputable agencies want to take on a "new author".

New author?  Wait a minute...I have two books currently for sale and have had my first novel published for over two years...I am not a new author!!!  Yes...yes you are. It's like the old saying, "Just because you put on a tutu and some toe shoes, doesn't make you a ballerina."  You are an Indie author..it's not the same thing. I have had people in the industry tell me that...You are not a "real" author because you don't have a publisher.  Really???  You mean, these books that I hold in my hand, these books that I wrote, and that I sell   and receive royalty payments for are not real books? Seriously? I had no idea.  Pardon me while I slink back to the hole I apparently crawled out of.

So how does one break into this industry, you ask?  It's a good question. Well, you can have a famous name. I have seen countless celebrities who have never published come out with a book and immediately land on the best-seller list. I will admit, this annoys me. A lot. Sour grapes?  Probably. I am annoyed by people of privilege automatically garnering the name of author for something they probably didn't even write themselves. Call me kooky.  You can hook up with a publishing company who takes a "chance" on unpublished authors. They will be happy to help you....for a nominal fee. Thousands of dollars in nominal fees. There are lots of these sharks out there...beware.  Or you can just keep writing and hope you are good enough to garner the attention you deserve. I think that is what I'm going to do. Keep writing, blogging, networking, and generally doing what I have to do to make my dream come true.

 Now, if you'll excuse me, my tutu is riding up and my toe shoes are pinching my feet, and I still have a lot of dancing left to do.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Really? You're an author? Who published YOU?

I always feel a twinge of shame when I tell people that I self-published. First of all, self-publishing is a minsnomer, I don't have a printing press in my backyard, and I know very few independent authors who do. I am an Independent author, or Indie, which means I make things happen for myself. I did not PAY anything to publish my book, the company I go through publishes books for me in return for a portion of the royalties. But, everything else, editing, re-writing, publicity, etc...is entirely up to me. I don't have an agent, or a contract, or a personal assistant ( oh how I wish I did.)  What I do have are friends.

Through networking, I have met and befriended many other Indie authors. Amazing, artistic and extremely talented group of people who have taught me more in the past year about the publishing industry than I could ever learn in a classroom. Supportive people who understand what I go through every day and do whatever I takes to make my dream of being a successful author come true. They give advice, answer questions, edit, proofread, create covers and book trailers and sometimes just listen.  Sometimes, that's all you need, someone to listen. Sometimes it's discouraging trying to do this all by myself, but then I look to my fellow Indies and realize I am not alone. There are many of us ready to encourage, advise and support each other and because of them, I am a successfully published author.