Rolling With The Punches

Life has been “interesting” this past month or so. No, not because of Covid-19 or anything else in the news, although that hasn’t helped. Family obligations are taking front and center right now, as they should. Then there’s been a bit of a health scare. Oh, and an unrelated surgery. I’m recovering and finally getting back to work. But, all this down time has led me to do a bit of introspection and I’ve come to some realizations I probably should have long ago.

Murphy’s Law is real and will come bite you in the ass when you least expect it. Fortunately, all dear old Murphy has done so far is nibble and, considering the size of my ass, that’s fine. I can afford to lose some of the bulk back there.

In my case, I was rolling along with a couple of projects, had a time frame in place and then Murphy decided to come play. The dishwasher went out. We flooded in one of our torrential storms and that took time to deal with. I still have to finish the painting. The neighbor, after years of not taking care of the side yard between our houses has decided to do something. That is a good thing. The bad thing is the contractor being used doesn’t seem to get “I just put down new sod and am trying very hard to make sure it lives the summer. Please don’t put anything on the grass.” I’ve gone out three days in a row to remove debris that should have been thrown away: sticks, stones, rotted railroad tie parts from the grass. The kicker was when I had to remove a log that had to weigh ten or more pounds. Yes, my temper took over and I was tossed back into their yard. If it happens again, I won’t be as nice as my mother who talked to the contractor. I’ll be talking to the neighbor and asking if they are going to pay to replace any grass their guy ruins.

Sometimes you just have to stop and take care of yourself and your loved ones.

My rule has always been family comes first. But I often don’t take time for myself. With the Covid-19 forced shutdown, a number of my mother’s doctor appointments were rescheduled. It’s been a three ring circus getting those reset, taking her to them–and knowing what the rules are even within the same medical center system. I wasn’t happy when one office said I’d have to wait in the car in 90+ degree Texas summer weather. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that but it is clear the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing right now. The county is changing the rules week to week and then you have the ever changing rules from the various medical associations.

Which brings it to me. I won’t bore you with all my issues. The health scare turned out to be nothing but a good warning to get up off my ass and take better care of myself. The surgery has been a bit more problematic thanks to Covid. But it is done and, thanks to pain pills, I’m back to functioning. I might be a bit slower right now than normal but I am well on the way to recover (fingers crossed Murphy doesn’t read this and decide to pay a return visit).

A new bed is a wonderful thing.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t give much thought usually to what I’m sleeping on as long as I’m, well, sleeping. But I finally gave in and replaced my very expensive (several years ago) memory foam mattress. It is one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time. I’m sleeping better and waking up feeling better. Of course, that could also be the pain pills  😉

Go with the flow but don’t be afraid to make the hard decisions.

Most of all, know what the flow is and recognize that it doesn’t always center around you and your sensibilities.

Years ago, I made the decision not to play the traditional publishing game. I’d long wanted to be able to walk into a bookstore and point to one (or more) of my books on the shelves. Then I started trying to wind my way through the process. I received the usual rejections. The writing was good but the book wasn’t what they were looking for. Thanks for submitting but I had to have an agent. From agents, I either got repeated requests for rewrites without being offered representation or was told my work wasn’t what they were looking for just then or, in a whopping ten minutes after submission, told I was being rejected.

I had to look at why I kept getting these comments. It came down to one basic thing: I wasn’t writing to fit the mold of what they were pushing right then. I recognized the fact that what they wanted now–and what would come out in 18 months to two years–wasn’t going to be what the readers were binging then. But UF publishers all wanted a variation of Anita Blake and Twilight.

I did have one book get all the way to the publisher. Where the book sat on the publisher’s desk for a year or more. That meant money I was losing and other books in the series that couldn’t be written. Why? Because if the publisher bought the book, there was no guarantee they would buy the sequels. So, with indie publishing finally a viable alternative thanks to Amazon, I withdrew the book and started down the road of being an indie.

And now, watching what’s going on in traditional publishing, I can’t say I regret that decision. When you have publishing houses being held hostage by their employees because they don’t like an author’s politics, you have a problem. Dave Freer, my brother from another mother, writes about what Hachette is going through right now with its employees over J. K. Rowling’s latest book.

You see, these self-entitled employees–folks whose salaries are paid by sales from books by best sellers like Rowling–think they should have a say in what their company publishes. They don’t like Rowling’s comments on the issue of transgender people. So she must be black balled and her book, that has nothing to do with the issue, should not be published.

Yes, that is what the industry is becoming. If you don’t toe the approved party line, you are called out by your fellow authors. You have employees who don’t know you other than through your social media presence demanding you not be published. We don’t need government censorship because the self-anointed few will do it for them.

But what will happen when those folks find themselves on the other end of the condemnation stick? you guessed it. They will cry about how unjust it is. They will file suit to stop the perceived wrong. And not one of them will recognize themselves in their accusers.

I decided not to keep fighting the system long ago. Now I am going with the flow of what my readers want and what I enjoy writing. I am no longer going to defend publishers or editors who sit silently as they allow themselves to be held hostage by a handful of employees because those same publishers or editors are afraid of rocking the boat. They aren’t looking at their bottom line and they aren’t listening to their readers. Instead, they are bending down and surrendering to the vocal minority.

There is one publisher, and it isn’t a traditional publisher in the truest sense, I would work with right now. Even then, I would have to think long and hard about signing a contract. But at least I would think about it. The publishers I once wanted to work with have proven they don’t give a damn about what their readers want. They are too worried about bad PR or what a handful of employees will think if they take a stand.

There’s an old saying that the customer is always right. That hasn’t been applied in the publishing industry where traditional publishers are more worried about “teaching” the public than in presenting them books they want to read. And then these same publishers wonder why their companies aren’t making the money they should.

Readers don’t buy books they aren’t interested in, at least not for entertainment reading. Or, frankly, for most of anything else. It is time publishing gets back to going with the flow and stop trying to swim upstream

Okay, rant over. But it is difficult to see some of your heroes in the industry turning their backs on the innovations they were once known for. It is hard to give up dreams you’ve held since childhood.

Come back later today for an announcement or two and I promise no kvetching.

Featured Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay


  1. Oh so true, especially the publishers… Glad things are getting back into the ‘flow’ so to speak. And remember, Murphy was an optimist!!!

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