Traveled roads leading me here…

We said goodbye to our friends this morning as they headed back to California. It was a great visit—something we haven’t done in such a long time. The weather was amazing while they were here. 

After they left, I settled down at my computer to go over my to-do list, before heading out to enjoy more of that sunshine. I can’t quite believe it’s almost June, and if June goes as fast as May, then July will be here, and time to go on our family reunion.

Every three years we attend a Talbot Family Reunion. (My mother-in-law’s maiden name was Talbot.) The first one started in 1983, when we all gathered in Sedona, Arizona, and I met for the first time many of my husband’s cousins, who I hadn’t met before. 

The upcoming reunion got me to thinking about the speech I penned for the Alumni award that I mentioned in a previous post. In it I wrote, “…Life often gets in the way of what we have planned. Looking back over these last fifty years, I see my own life has taken numerous unexpected turns, sending me off course and down roads I had never anticipated traveling.”

I’ve often considered that sentiment when thinking about the family reunions I’ve attended and wondered if the family ever asks, “Gee, I wonder what Bobbi is doing this reunion?” When looking back at my life, it does seem I’ve done more than my share of career hopping.

Despite that, at the age of 14 I knew I wanted to be an author, and today at 67, that’s what I am. Yet, I didn’t take a direct line to reach my ultimate goal. You might say, I went all over the place.

At our first reunion, In Sedona Arizona, 1983 I was a young mother, with two children under the age of four. I had also recently opened a gift shop up in the mountain community we then lived in—Wrightwood, California. While I have no business in retail (my shop, The Whistle Stop, only stayed open a year) my time there was not a complete waste. On the days I had a sitter for my kids—and didn’t take them to the shop with me—I had my typewriter with me. That year I wrote my first romance novel.

When the second reunion rolled around three years later, I was out of retail and now publishing a community newspaper in Wrightwood. At the third reunion, I was still with my publication, The Mountain/Hi-Desert Guide, so I imagine the family probably thought I’d settled down into a career.

By the next reunion in 1992, at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, my father had gotten ill, so I sold my paper, and I moved with my husband and two kids back to Havasu Palms, to help manage the family business. We were still there the next reunion in Angel Fire, New Mexico, but when we went to the Montana reunion in 1998, Don and I had opened our restaurant in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.  Now we were restauranteurs.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t belong in retail. And a restaurant is retail. When the next reunion rolled around in 2001, Don and I were out of the restaurant business and between jobs—both of us substitute teaching to make ends meet. I’m surprised we were able to make it to that reunion, considering things were rough for us back then.

Don and I eventually landed on our feet and got our real estate licenses. So, when I showed up at the next two reunions, I was a real estate agent. But then the market tanked in 2008, so I got out of real estate and returned to my roots—writing.

When our family met in Sunriver, Oregon for the Talbot family reunion in 2010, I was freelance writing for various venues, including Demand Studios. I imagine by that time some of my Talbot cousins might have thought I was flakey—yet none ever said such a thing to me, they are all too nice and supportive—but for those who had paid attention to my various occupations over the years, they might have wondered what I was doing.

I stuck with the writing, and moved from freelance back to novels, and that’s what my career has been the last three reunions—and for the one coming up. So, I suppose I have finally settled into a career—one I imagined back when I was fourteen. 

(Photo: During my time with Mountain/Hi-Desert Guide)

Paperbacks and Pre-Orders

I just had a reader ask me where they could preorder paperbacks. I am really sorry, but I only do preorders for eBooks, not paperback.


Well, maybe I should explain.

These days there are typically three types of authors. First, there are the traditional trade authors—meaning they publish through a trade publisher, and the publisher handles the formatting and release of all the books. Then there are the Indi authors (or self-published authors)—a phenomenon that took off around ten years ago. Oh, there were self-published authors before, but before that time they garnered little respect in the industry.  Then eBooks became a thing, and publishing changed.

There is a third type of author—the hybrid—which like the Indi is becoming more common these days. That’s the author that is both traditionally published and self-published. 

I’m a hybrid author. While I self-publish my eBooks and paperbacks, I’ve sold the rights to my audiobooks. Tantor Media has thus far bought the rights to all 29 of the Haunting Danielle books, including The Ghost and the Church Lady, which comes out next week.  Dreamscape Media has purchased the rights to my Coulson Family Saga series and have released all five of those books in audiobook.

What this means, my audiobook publishers are responsible for the production, release, and distribution of my audiobooks. Heck, I don’t even know in advance when the books will be released. I check on Tantor’s website to see if it’s listed yet! 

As for the production of my eBooks and paperbacks—that’s all on me. I’m responsible for hiring the editor, finding beta readers, and seeing that the books get properly formatted and uploaded on the sites.

Because of that, I simply haven’t the time or energy to make my paperbacks pre-orders. But, I do work very hard to make sure they are available around the same time as the eBooks.

The Ghost and the Church Lady eBook file has been loaded to all of the vendors. A copy of the book has been sent off to Tantor, so production of the audiobook can begin. And I am currently working on formatting the paperback. I offer two types—regular print and large print. 

The next step, I am waiting for my illustrator to send me the finished cover files, and then I will get them uploaded along with the manuscript file, and other pertinent information.

I suppose it would be more impressive to say my people do all that formatting and uploading stuff. But the fact is, I have no people. It is just me.

Okay that is not entirely true. I have an amazing cover artist/illustrator, some incredible beta readers, and an editor.  

Stormy Weather: Cockygate Hits the Indie World

On Friday I watched as Twitter exploded with something that has since come to be known as #cockygate. I suspect by now most serious indi-authors already know about it. In fact, one popular writer’s group with over 21K members closed its virtual doors by putting up a Taking a Break sign and informing members that they were shutting off all postings for the rest of the weekend and suggesting its members all write, edit and spend time with their families. While all those are good suggestions, #cockygate was still a thing when Monday arrived. Maybe even more so.

For those who haven’t been on social media and ask what is cockygate?

It’s about a romance author named Faleena Hopkins who has trademarked the word “cocky.” I know she has at least two trademarks for the word. One trademark is for the word when written in a specific font style (a font she didn’t have the right to trademark according to its creator). The other is simply for the word cocky. According to Hopkins, her trademark means the word cocky cannot be used in any romance book title or series.

Already there is a petition being generated to ask the United States Patent and Trademark Office to revoke her trademark. The last time I looked it had over 16K signatures. Including mine. I know of at least one attorney who claims he has submitted a request to have her trademark revoked, and RWA and other big hitters in the publishing industry are reportedly looking into the matter.

Online, Hopkins has been called a bully for the letters she sent fellow authors, demanding they change book tiles or face serious legal action, and some authors are having their books removed from Amazon based on Hopkin’s claim. On the other side, Hopkins is calling her many distractors bullies, in their treatment of her.

Hopkins’ trademark may not directly impact me, yet that doesn’t mean I’m not paying close attention to this case. While book titles can’t be copyrighted (in fact it is very common to have a number of books with the same title), it seems it might be possible to trademark a common word and prevent other authors from using that word in their book titles. If that is true—well, the possible ramifications are troubling. If an author publishes a book not knowing one of the words is trademarked—or about to be trademarked, it can cost that author significant time and money retitling the book. And if Amazon pulls the book—which seems to be happening—and disables the author’s ability to edit the book to bring it into compliance, it can be a devastating loss of income for the author.

I cringe at the thought someone might decide to claim ownership of Haunting or Ghost when it applies to book titles in my genre. Before #cockygate that seemed like a silly notion. Not so much now.

I suspect most authors have no problem with Hopkins trademarking an original logo or multi-word series name. It’s the fact she’s claiming ownership over one common word, and she’s not even the first romance writer to use the word in a title or series. Other romance authors used cocky before her.

I can understand an author’s desire to protect his or her work. I can even understand the resentment an author may feel when they believe other people are stealing their ideas. However, some authors go too far and get over-possessive, even a little paranoid. Take for example book covers.

Some over-possessive authors need to realize it’s simply the nature of the business. BookCover 101 teaches us that it’s not about having a unique cover as much as a cover that fits with the genre—a book that screams to the reader, this is the type of book you are looking for! It’s the reason Fabio was on so many romance covers back when trade publishers ruled the industry.

It also drives me crazy when an author gets possessive about stock images he or she has used on a cover. The reason those stock images are so affordable is because you aren’t purchasing exclusive use rights. In my opinion, an author has no right to jump on another author for using the same stock image.

If an author wants a unique cover, then hire an artist to create one. The house on my Haunting Danielle series was created by my cover designer; it’s not a stock image. I have the exclusive use rights. If you don’t want to see the images you purchased showing up on another book cover in your genre, then you need to pay a photographer and models to create something unique.

Authors can also get possessive over character names. Considering there are millions of books out there, and even more characters, I find it silly to get territorial over a first—or even a last name. I’ve heard of some authors contacting other authors and demanding that they change their character’s name because it’s the same name they used in one of their books. I can’t help but shake my head at the overblown ego of such a demand.

However, if an author has a right to be annoyed, it would probably be the bestselling author Janet Evanovich. And who could she could be annoyed at? Me.

When I named one character Joe Morelli, (Joe for my son-in-law and Morelli for a family friend) in the first book in my Haunting Danielle series, I was unaware of Joe Morelli of the popular Stephanie Plum series. To make matters worse, both Joes are cops.

It’s not something any reasonable author would intentionally do. If a Stephanie Plum fan happens to read one of my Haunting Danielle Books, it could very well piss them off. Readers get attached to their favorite characters. Why would I intentionally do something that could annoy potential readers? Why would any author?

Had I known about the original Joe Morelli before I had more than two books out in the series, I would have changed my character’s name. But it was too late by then. I’ve come to realize this sort of thing happens. It’s simply the nature of the business. And seriously, if I wasn’t aware of Evanovich’s popular character, then it’s a little absurd for other less-known authors to imagine someone is looking over his or her shoulder, waiting to grab a character.

In this business of self-publishing I think we need to be building our bridges, not burning them. Unfortunately, there seems to be a major bridge fire burning out of control on social media.