Tag: respect

Five Reasons I Love my Small Publisher

I’m a full-time author. I have multiple short story publishing credits with two separate small, independent publishers. This month, I published a novella with my first publisher.

Now available
Now available

I’m a “real” writer. I have an Amazon author page. I’m qualified as a Goodreads author. If that’s not enough, surely my website and business cards will prove it.

In the past, I strove to be traditionally published. Every manuscript was marketed to agents who have inroads with editors at the Big Houses. I figured these gatekeepers would insure that I didn’t put my work out there before it was ready.

But I would have zero publishing credits if I hadn’t changed my mindset.

I’m thankful for the ever-growing population of independents publishers with qualified editors and artists at their helm.
I adore the hard work these people do. They’re entrepreneurs with a love for authors, books and readers. In other words: my kind of people.

I wouldn’t trade my experiences with my two small publishers for anything. Here are five reasons why I especially love them.

RoaneHeader
They always respond to every query

I’ve sent out hundreds of novel queries over the past three years. In that time, I’ve garnered a dozen or so “no thanks, but good luck”
form-letter replies.
Every submission to a small publisher netted me a personal response. Even if they said, “no thanks” it was written in a way I know the person who read the query wrote the letter.
And I have to say, I’m sick of hearing nothing. Because “due to the high volume of queries, we can only respond to manuscripts we’re interested in.”
Seriously? It takes so long to hit “reply” and copy and paste one of those form letters into the email?
Yeah. The message here is: we’re too important to spend even a minute responding to your crappy idea/query/whatever.

They’re prompt with payment

Okay, I’ve had a 50/50 experience with this, but the publisher who hasn’t paid me yet, isn’t behind with the royalties. In all fairness, I submitted to a charity anthology, so earnings from the first 500 copies were supposed to benefit a non-profit.
The publisher I have most of my work with pays promptly after the end of each quarter. The titles and sales numbers are plainly accounted for.
This is the same regularity I get from Amazon with my self-published Bible studies and Biblical fiction novella. And Amazon is a massive corporation.
Kudos to any small business who has the same consistency.

M9B Friday Reveal

They treat me like a person

Not only do I know the managing editor and marketing director by first name, they know me. If I ask them a question using Facebook Messenger, they respond. I’ve had several lengthy conversations about general policies, specific projects and promotions.
It’s nice to know I’m not a number on a spreadsheet somewhere. I’m an author who they respect as an integral part of the success of their business.

My input on covers is welcomed

If you get a contract with Random House or another major publisher, you won’t have an opinion about anything.
Well, you might be able to fight against some content edits. But when it comes to covers? Their designer will make all the decisions.
I’ve heard of authors being given four options and the one they chose wasn’t used. Why? Apparently, someone knows more about the importance of a cover than they did.
I’m in the process of writing a three-book series with Roane Publishing for their Novella Niblets line. I’ve already discussed how to keep the continuity in the covers and their designers were more than happy to spend HOURS tossing ideas at me.
Also, this is a “digital-only” line. However, the managing editor is open to discussing the possibility of taking them to print. (Because there’s something about holding your book in your hand and sniffing the pages.)

They pay better than the Big Five

It’s not about the money for me. Which is great because I don’t make much. According to the Tax Man, I’m earning in the negatives.
But my contracts with the small publishers offer me HALF of their net profit on every title. A traditional contract would have me splitting 40 percent (or less) with an agent.
I love my small publishers. Which is why I promote their other titles here and on my social media accounts. They don’t get the same sort of exposure.
You can show a little love for them, too. Buy their titles. Review the books on major retail sites.
What do you love about the company you work for?

Women Date Iron Man but Marry Captain America

Maybe you’re all sick of hearing about Captain America. But not sick of looking at him, right?

"Look at those guns."
“Look at those guns.”

But this post isn’t about Cap. Or his falling out with Iron Man in the newest Captain America film. This blog is about a woman’s need to find a hero.

Yes, this is probably the point where all the “I don’t need a man” women will want to stop reading. I won’t make women out to be weak and needy in this post, but I will expound on proven psychological needs.

Iron Man’s Appeal

During one of my lengthy Twitter conversation with an author friend of mine, she admitted Iron Man is a more interesting character. During the breakup of the Avengers, she sided with him mostly because she liked his attitude.

Tony Stark is the king of snark. His deadpan sarcasm adds plenty of entertainment value in the Marvel universe.

Funny, sure. But also a player. Even if he loves Pepper, he can’t commit to what she wants.

Maybe that means she isn’t the right woman for him. But it could also mean he’s not the man for a long-term relationship.

Nothing wrong with that. As long as you’re on the dating stage and aren’t looking for anything permanent.

For me? Dating was the interview process for finding Mr. Right.

Why Cap is better for the Long Term

Enter my ideal hero: Captain America. Decades encased in ice couldn’t change the love he had for Peggy Carter.

Let’s consider that Steve Rogers grew up in a different culture than Tony Stark. There were no electronic gadgets. He could barely scrape together money for bus fare.

It was a time when women wanted a man to take care of them. This wasn’t about jobs or perceived weakness. Women had value as the queen of a man’s domain.

Every king needs a queen, right? (Although it doesn’t appear that every queen needs a king if you look at matriarchal monarchies. That’s a different topic.)

Steve Rogers stands up for those who need an advocate. He’s willing to throw himself on a grenade for a group of strangers. His life has value only as long as he can help other people defeat their bullies.

The reason he was attracted to Peggy Carter was because she didn’t need to be rescued. But Steve saw her as someone who DESERVED to be protected.

He respected her for who she was. She hated that he wanted to protect her because she thought it meant he considered her as less, as needy. But his charm won her over once she realized his respect knew no bounds.

She could see that for the long haul, Steve would treat her right, stand by her and put her needs above his own (although not above those of the world when it needed saving).

Iron Man or Captain America

What’s your opinion?

Do you think Iron Man would be more fun on a date than Captain America?

Or maybe, like me, you’d prefer a man whose goal is to be YOUR hero. He’s not worried so much about saving the world as making it a place fit for his queen.

Maybe this means I wouldn’t marry either of these guys.

I’ve already found my hero. And married him.

And aren't we a happy couple?
And aren’t we a happy couple?

Let Cap save the world (it needs saving for sure). Meanwhile, my superhero makes my favorite breakfast on the weekends.

What do you think? Is Captain America marriage material? Or would you take Iron Man instead?

Dear Teenager: Your Dress Code isn’t about Sexism – Part 2

This is part three of a series of rants inspired by this lovely meme:

Is this really about treating girls like sex objects?
Is this really about treating girls like sex objects?

Maybe you’re bored with discussing school dress codes and sexism. Believe me, it was tedious to be confronted with it day in and day out when I worked for the school district.

Why can’t the kids just follow the rules?

Because they’re teenagers, and that means they push every boundary, looking for inconsistencies to exploit. It helps them form their own worldview.

And the physiology of this age group is mostly what I’ll address today, as I approach the teenage boy ogling the girl in a dress that reveals more than it conceals.

Dear Teenage Boy-

Do you know why we’re meeting today? No?

Let’s talk about first period. What happened in there that might have prompted me to call you down to the office?

You’re right. She was uncomfortable with you staring at her chest. It was highly inappropriate.

Again, you’re right. She shouldn’t have worn that dress, but not for the reason you said. Let me direct your attention to the Student Handbook. (See the reference here)

The same physiology that makes girls burst into tears over the slightest thing, makes you unable to look away from visual stimulation. In fact, men are visual creatures, attracted by what they see.

That’s the reason we have these rules. We understand that you’re hard-wired to pay attention to what you see. We’re trying to keep you from seeing things that would distract you from learning.

That’s why you’re here at school, you know, to learn. And one thing we want to teach you is to respect other people.

That’s not our job? You’re probably right. But if no one else is going to do it, then we’ll take up the banner.

Back to how to treat people with respect. In the future, what might be the right response in a situation like this?

Now, get back to class. I don’t want to take up too much of the in-class instructional time with this meeting.

Sincerely,

Your School Administrator

******

No shame and no blame placed on either student in these encounters. Facts – the written rules – were presented.

Will that boy stop having sexual thoughts when he sees girls? Doubtful. That’s part of his physiology.

Should he learn to control his reactions? Yes, but that comes with maturity. And isn’t a guaranteed outcome. I’ve had full-grown, gray-haired men give me the heebie-jeebies by staring too long.

Did the school reinforce his misconception that women are sex objects? (Can we say for certain he thinks that?) I don’t think so.

And every school administrator I know addresses these things as quickly as possible so students can get back where they belong. In the classroom.

Plenty of students think school is all about socializing with their friends. That’s why they don’t take the rules seriously. Or show up late to class. Or forget about doing homework.

The real concern that should be spurred by the meme above is that school has become another platform for protest. Is that really in the best interest of those young people who need to learn to read, write and balance their checkbooks?

Yes, this is the end of my lengthy soapbox discussion of dress codes NOT being about sexism.

What else might you say to this young man? To the school?

Thank you for humoring my long-winded diatribe. I hope it was a little bit entertaining or thought-provoking.

Banning Unrealistic Expectations

Unrealistic expectations about body image

In a society where expectations rule decision-making processes, it’s past time to understand the difference between those that are realistic and unrealistic. We owe it to ourselves and our families to put a ban on setting unreachable standards.

Beginning on March 10, a series of posts about expectations has been featured on this blog. The links will be provided here, but for those of you joining discussion today, let’s recap.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize unrealistic expectations are dangerous. They derail dreams and avalanche over hopes. Not just for young people either, but the danger to them is greater because they are still forming their values and personalities.

One expectation that seems to be gaining momentum is the idea that everyone needs to go to college. Even human resources department feed this fiery craze by making a college degree required for an entry-level position. Nothing is more damaging to a person than to have a boatload of student loans for a costly degree that doesn’t net a career placement.

A high school diploma is essential. Unfortunately, bureaucrats making exit exams a requirement to attain one have boarded the crazy train. Too many courses required for a high school diploma have no practical value. It’s time to return to the basics of education rather than making high school all about preparing for college (see previous paragraph about college expectations).

Another thing that discourages many teenagers is the push toward knowing what they want to do as an adult. Some high schools build four years of education around what a 14-year-old says he wants to be after he graduates.

How old were you when you knew what you wanted to do for a living? Are you doing that thing you first dreamed was so awesome? It took me right at 40 years to finally follow my dream.

Along with all these unrealistic expectations, I wrote a post about things we should expect. None of these have to do with the economy; all have to do with character. Every human on earth should be expected to work hard, be responsible and accountable for their choices and actions, and show respect to others.

Unfortunately in our world, decisions about graduation requirements and acquiring a college degree to sort mail are above our pay-grade. In our push to have everything handed to us, we’ve handed the control to government and industry.

If we really want to keep unrealistic expectations from ruling our lives, we need to take back control. I’m not talking about a revolution. Let’s start small, bucking the system by becoming involved.

Maybe attending a school board meeting to share your views about ridiculous standards is a start. Everyone pushes you to write or call your congressman. How many do it? How many have well-constructed, reasonable arguments to present?

If you’re a parent, you can start by teaching your kids about responsibility. Theirs. Don’t perpetuate the fallacy that government will fix all their problems. Those bozos on Capitol Hill have demonstrated how to make mountains out of molehills and accomplish very little that benefits the average citizen.

Don’t let the media convince you to look a certain way, buy certain clothes, or drive a certain car. Check out those Hollywood icons and athletic superstars. An unhappier bunch of people you may never find. These are the trendsetters we want marking the path for us to follow?

 Can we ban unrealistic expectations in our world? Share your thoughts. Let’s talk it over.

Expectations that build character

Washington had oodles of Character
Washington had oodles of Character

Some readers might have given up on my series regarding expectations for young people. After all, it seems like a diatribe against education, government or parenting. Aren’t their some expectations we should have for our children?

Duh. Lack of appropriate expectations has damaged our youth as much as unrealistic expectations. Maybe even more.

We all need a standard set before us – a model to follow. For generations, parents modeled standards for their children. In more recent years, I see parents willingly submitting this duty (really an honor) to government and educators.

This is one of the biggest problems in our society. Whether parents want to be the role model for their children or not, they are being watched. Many children will follow their parents’ example without consciously deciding to do it.

So, it’s past time for parents to step up. If you had a child, you have some responsibilities to that child. Uncle Sam isn’t responsible to teach your child anything. (Do you really want the political system of the day deciding what your child needs to know?) Your neighborhood school should be teaching reading, writing and mathematics, but we all know there is so much more to life than those things.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on four areas where we should have solid expectations for our young people: work, responsibility, accountability and respect.  These areas (and I would personally add values, but I won’t open that can of worms) can guarantee young people develop admirable character.

A Work Ethic

You don’t have to tell me; work is a four-letter word. Many people try to avoid it as much as possible and it’s beginning to show in our younger generation.

A simple homework assignment that might take 15 minutes is too much work for many kids. Rather than researching a topic, they will Google an already completed paper on the subject and turn it in as their own work. Gaming, texting, social media hangouts and pursuit of other interests monopolizes their free time.

What happened to a list of daily chores? I know, kids scream “child abuse” and so parents back off. Who wants a confrontation with a mouthy teenager anyway? Not any sane person.

The solution is to give kids chores at a young age. I’m not recommending child labor. A four-year old can pick up their own toys and dirty clothes, though. If a kid is old enough to go to school, he can make his bed. Setting the table, unloading and loading the dishwasher, cleaning the toilet and washing dishes are other chores that can be completed by anyone at least seven years old.

Will they do an excellent job? Not if you don’t teach them the right way to do it. This doesn’t involve yelling at them to rewash the dishes if you find a dirty spot. It means the parent stands beside them demonstrating how to do the chore correctly.

I think one chore per day is plenty for younger kids. By the time they’re teenagers, they think they should be free to do what they want. Sure, once they finish a list that involves a few more chores. And their homework.

After all, who’s going to do their dishes when they’re adults? You? It’s in everybody’s best interest for them to learn how to do basic housework.

How do we earn money? By working. Sure, it might be sitting at a desk or driving a truck, but whatever your job, you must be industrious. The harder you work, the more valued you are to your employer (or should be – another rant altogether here).

Responsibility

Finger pointing abounds. This is because no one wants to accept responsibility when things go wrong.

It’s a major flaw in “free” society. Every person needs to carry their weight. Imagine society as a huge wheel and every person is a spoke. Break a few off, and the wheel is too weak to work properly.

How do you teach your child to be responsible? You give them a set of chores and forfeit their rights to do anything else until they’ve done them. And done them to a satisfactory standard.

Lack of responsibility hurts everyone around you. It makes a person undependable and disloyal. Who will trust them with the smallest task if they are irresponsible?

Schools are designed to build this trait into children. What a student is responsible for increases as they age. In kindergarten, they’re responsible for putting their coat and backpack in the correct cubby. By middle school, they’re responsible for that and turning in their homework when it’s due.

This doesn’t mean parents have no part in teaching this trait. Believe me, people in education can tell the parents who have let this slide.

Accountability

Another reason for all the finger pointing in our society is the lack of accountability. Being held accountable will make someone more responsible. After all, if they can do a half-hearted job on their chores and still head to the movies and a sleepover with friends, what’s the big deal?

As my kids aged, I trusted them to be accountable. “Mom, can I go to my bro’s house?”  My response: “Is your homework done? I see you didn’t sweep the kitchen yet.” After the kitchen is swept, the inquiry is issued again. “If your homework is done.”

This bit my youngest son in the hinder parts his freshman year of high school. I expected him to do his homework, study, turn things in on time. When I went to the spring conference and talked to his Spanish teacher (he had an F) and his art teacher (he had a D), his life got pretty ugly.

The thing about accountability is that the parent needs to be the party kids answer to about whether they’re meeting their responsibilities. I realized that my son had lied about his homework (actually he turned in much of it but it was subpar work).  Outside of school and church activities, his social life ended. Oh, and you can bet that included access to computer games and the internet.

Unfortunately, he didn’t get the Spanish grade up. He reaped the consequences. Grounded from technology for the summer (that was his big thing) and he had to retake the class in order to get the credit for his college applications.

People must be held accountable because there are consequences for actions and inaction. Yep, there’s plenty of whining about “life’s not fair” but the reality is, we need to learn to deal with it. Being accountable is a good start.

Respect

Biggest for last. Lack of respect in young people disturbs me. It isn’t just their disrespect toward adults. Many don’t respect property or even themselves.

Image from startnetworkingtoday.com

“You respect me and I’ll respect you.” I actually had an 8th grade student say this to me once. My reply was, “Who starts? You or me?”

The truth is respect must be mutual. One reason kids are disrespectful to adults is because they hear their parents dissing authority. No surprise when these kids turn and rail on those same parents. Remember: our kids are watching us. We are teaching them – for better or worse.

I happily respect everyone I meet. When they scorn me, I turn the other cheek. I’m an adult. I was taught to hold my tongue by a pop on the mouth when I didn’t. My husband forbade me to do this with our children.

It made teaching them when they misspoke more difficult. Nothing gets our attention more quickly than pain. Arguments and power struggles wore on me. Eventually, I won and my son’s learned I would always win. Even if we had to wait until dad got home.

Have I left any important expectations off this list? Did I misrepresent any of these items? Let’s discuss it.

Patriotism: One Woman’s Perspective

Old Glory Flying High
Old Glory Flying High

Sitting in a metal folding chair, I’m surrounded by parents. We’re in the gymnasium of our neighborhood elementary school. My son is receiving a reward.

The principal approaches the lectern and asks everyone to stand for the flag salute. All those first through fifth graders who were sitting “criss-cross applesauce” on the floor stand. In unison, 100 youthful voices say, “I pledge allegiance to the flag…”

I freely admit that an enormous clot of snot clogged my throat. Tears set my eyes on red alert. Something about a crowd of young people reciting the pledge with one voice chokes me up every time.

It’s the same with the National Anthem. This embarrassed me twenty years ago. People stared at me, wondering what I had to cry about. It was only a song, after all.

Eighth graders at the middle school where I worked for seven years still learn the history behind it. Sadly, I think to them, it’s just another meaningless factoid they’ll be expected to know for a test.

Patriotism dies a slow death in American public schools. How can I say this? Here are a few proofs:

  • Kids don’t stand for the pledge. Only five years after the incident where I listened to an entire school recite the pledge in unison, I stood dumb-founded at the back of a classroom. Tuesday morning the principal came over the intercom and “offered the opportunity” for students to say the pledge. In a class of 34 students, maybe 20 stood up.
  • Some of them talk during the pledge. The teacher in the room during a specific year I’m recalling is a veteran of the navy (and I served in the Army Reserves). A few students decided to have a confab during the pledge. When it was finished, she took them to town. It’s disrespectful to talk during this ceremonial action that takes all of 20 seconds to accomplish. You know what happened? One of the kids complained to his parents. Parents called principal and the time for the pledge was moved to a different class period so that student wouldn’t be in that teacher’s class during the pledge. Really? That’s a solution?
  • What’s the name of the National Anthem again? You might think I’m joking, but if I asked 20 students at the middle school, only 60 percent of them would be able to tell me.
  • Freedom is a right. American youth have an incredible sense of entitlement. The example of the kid tattling on the teacher is a perfect illustration. They have the right to do and say as they please. They are free to disrespect anyone and everyone. Freedom is a privilege, but these kids have so many privileges that they could care less about it (unless you infringe on their right to wear an obscene t-shirt to school).

Maybe I’m just an over-emotional woman, but I cried when I stood in front of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC, for the first time. A long wall of names of brave men and women who died so some kid could talk during the pledge.

Vietnam War Memorial in D.C.
Vietnam War Memorial in D.C.

Okay, that was an exaggeration, but in reality, what would make these kids sit up and take notice that their freedom of expression was bought and paid for by millions of pints of blood over hundreds of years?

Freedom is never free. As soon as we start taking it for granted, we’re disrespecting all the patriots who gave it all for our liberty.

How do you define patriotism? Do you think the youth of today lack it? Will they “grow into” it as they become more mature?