Medical concerns

About a year ago I made a decision that was supposed to change my life.  My weight had gotten out of control and I recalled my father being very unhealthily heavy for many years.  I also had other relatives I didn’t want to look like in regards to that.  In the course of four years I’d gained something like sixty pounds.  Now, being heavy alone isn’t unhealthy, depending on many factors including your metabolism, your eating habits, genetics, and your bone size.  I’m one of the lucky ones that I actually do have large bones.  The doctors have explained that because I do, that’s where a lot of my weight comes from.  You cannot tell how much I actually weigh since a lot of it is the large bones.  Believe me, having a football player’s shoulders, or a man’s sized hands, isn’t always fun, especially for an effeminate woman.  However, the extra pounds on those bones and my joints was what was causing me to make a decision to change all that.  

As many of you may know I’m a cancer survivor.  I’ve mentioned that in this blog many times, you can read the first mention here.  Due to the aggressive chemotherapy and the radiation treatment I took, I will forever have aches and pains that normal aging wouldn’t give me.  Oh, I’ll get those too, but some of the weird pains are a direct result of those poisons I took in order to survive.

So, I decided to get my stomach surgically altered in order to lose weight.  I began by taking classes where they told about what would be done, had others who had gone through it, and still others who were going through it in various stages.  Now, according to my insurance, I had to go through three months of this.  I followed directions, despite not being a joiner and these meetings drove me crazy.  I don’t like those ‘fun’ games people do at baby showers, or bachelorette parties, and I guess I’m just a party pooper for the stupid games that I don’t find fun in the least.  They are usually embarrassing.  I felt the same way at these meetings when they wanted to include you.  Please, let me just be anonymous.  I don’t want to stand up and be like, “Hi I’m K’Anne and I eat too much.  I don’t exercise enough, blah, blah, blah.”  They don’t actually make you do that, but that’s how it feels!  Heck, I even hated the word they used, bariatric!

After the three meetings you have to get a psyche evaluation.  I laugh at this.  Anyone can pass a psyche evaluation, even if I were crazy!  You can tell them what they want to hear, follow the protocol and use their own answers against them, etc.  However, I was just being me (not always a good thing) and told them like it was.  I was impatient to get the surgery and move on, I had plans!  I felt the meetings were a waste of time and that these delays were annoying.  In the end, I understand why they make you go through all these hoops for this life-altering decision. You have to be ready for the changes, able to cope, and yes, I could probably have done it, but didn’t, deep down, want to. 

After the psyche evaluation, which I passed (I know, many of you might be surprised), I had to go see a nutritionist.  For three months.  She required me to keep a journal.  I can’t tell you how much I HATE to keep a journal about ANYthing.  It always feels like someone is going to use my own words like that, real words, honest words, personal words (nothing like my fiction) against me.  Not only that, but then she decided I needed another month, was not at our scheduled meeting due to her illness (ironic, right?) and I had to have a zoom meeting with another nutritionist who didn’t know me, didn’t read the journals (I could tell) AND I totally could have snowed with my ‘tell her what she wants to hear’ BS.  I didn’t, but I COULD have.  It was all so pointless and I think it’s how they bilk the insurance for their outrageous fees.

So, they tell me now they are waiting to hear from my insurance company to see if I’m allowed to have the surgery.  Allowed?  After all this you are talking about if I’m allowed?  I remember thinking, get ON with it already!  I had thought I’d have had the surgery in January, and if so, then I could have the summer I had planned!  I was going to GCLS (Golden Crown Literary Society) and I was already scheduled to be on three panels which I was genuinely looking forward to.  I was also going to Canada with my then girlfriend and we were going to do the Lake Superior Circle Tour.  I’d bought all the rock-hounding equipment I’d wanted for a while, and was ready and waiting!  We planned on Lake Superior for agates, amethysts, and a little-known glow in purple light stone called a Youper!  If we were even luckier, we’d find Petoskey stones and who knew what else?

I get a call from the surgeon’s office.  I need to get a health check (which I’d also had in February) from my general practitioner.  I’m like, doesn’t the one I’d had in February count?  (I have to have one every year for blood work because the radiation therapy ruined my thyroid and I take meds for that).  She said, I don’t know, let me check.  Took two weeks to get back to me to say, no, you have to have a new one so we know it’s safe for the surgery.  I called my general practitioner’s office to get the health check.  They are like, we don’t do these health checks until your surgery is scheduled.  Um, catch 22?  I couldn’t have the health check without the surgery scheduled but they won’t schedule the surgery without the health check?  Grrrr.  I call back the surgeon’s office and they take SIX WEEKS to straighten THAT out.

Then, after all this time, it would have been nine months since start until surgery!  I was impatient.  I knew that the Canadian trip was not going to happen if I had the surgery in June.  I’d already been told by the doctors to cancel the GCLS trip since I’d be healing and unable to travel at that time in July.  Sigh.  Letting down a few people.  I’d really wanted to see some people I only see at these events, friends that I only communicate on Facebook or Twitter as well as fans.

By the time they got back to me, I was getting pissed.  I mean, really, SIX WEEKS?  C’mon, that’s unprofessional and my calls to them going unanswered?  I started emailing.  At this point I’m fed up after all these months of jumping through ALL their hoops.  I’d dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s.  But they couldn’t behave in a professional manner and I was to entrust my life, my physical well-being to these incompetents?  I was done.  I told them, no, I didn’t want the surgery because I couldn’t TRUST them!

Meanwhile, Covid 19 had come on the scene since February and that was an additional worry.  They didn’t know enough about it and having major surgery really wasn’t a good idea.  So, because I was certain the diet wouldn’t work for me, the changes in my habits, etc, I was relieved to have said no.  My girlfriend at the time I could tell was disappointed, but hey, love me as I am, and she did…however, she wanted me happy and healthier.

Fast forward to the end of summer and beginning of fall.  I’m seeing a therapist for my back because the pain has gotten very bad and I’m considering another life change.  One of the therapists listens to my story about the gastro-bypass surgery I had been considering.  He told me he was relieved I hadn’t done it.  Due to the fact that I’d had cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation I had a compromised system.  The by-pass would probably have killed me in about six years!  Holy cow!  He explained to me a few other things, things I could eat that would help me lose the weight, still give me the nutrients I would need, and keep me healthy.  Wow, one decision and all this!  Amazing.

He further told me that yes, I’m overweight, which we will work on, but I hadn’t lost the muscle mass. I’m a big woman, always been stronger than most women, and, a few men, and the muscle is still there. I just have to use it, or get back to using it. It was such a relief to know that. I didn’t even feel awkward, talking to a man my age, in my bathing suit, in a pool over all these concerns. Btw, they made me wear a mask, in the pool, to stay healthy with ‘social distancing’. It was weird, because when the cloth mask got wet, I felt like I was smothering!

I write this not only to remember what had happened, but because not all life-altering decisions have to be made.  Even though my process took nine months and I would have regretted it if it had been the four months I thought it was originally going to be, I would have regretted more that I only got six more years to live my life! 

I have been lucky that it’s been nineteen and a half years since I was told I had cancer.  That I had a ‘mere’ 4-5 months to live, and I’m still here.  None of my books would have been written if I hadn’t stuck around. I’m still accomplishing things that I want to take on.  I’m still a viable member of humankind.  Who knows what I’ll do next?  Who knows what I will accomplish next?  How much I could contribute in the next thirty or so years?  I hope to be looking back at this blog and still sharing with all who read this.  I hope you are around, healthy and happy and functioning, pain-free to read these and my books and see what I accomplish.

~ K’Anne

Facebook and my blog

Facebook, in an effort to stop the various nefarious activities that screwed with not only it’s site but social media in general, has stopped ‘allowing’ WordPress to automatically post to it.  That means that if you are seeing this, it’s probably because you subscribed to it (thank you), you saw it on other media sites like Twitter, Linked In, or I posted it on Facebook (if I’m not in Facebook Jail, funny, not funny).

I understand their rationale but for people like me who are fairly active on Facebook, they are preventing ‘free’ advertising which is what their ultimate goal is.  As mentioned in my Facebook Jail article (which, ironically got me put IN Facebook Jail for posting it), they’ve screwed me over many times when I pay for advertising or they put me in jail when I post too often or too much.  I get that, they have to control spammers, but really, their site is ideal to post in the various groups I am in.  I occasionally do pay other posters to post about my books, after all, I have to watch it or I’ll be in trouble with Facebook (which happens often enough).

I really hope the improvements on Facebook actually work, however, it’s like pulling teeth these days as their site goes through updates (without telling us).  They learned their lessons by not announcing some of their updates as people in general don’t like change and think their opinions will matter with such a large company.  Good luck with that, all you are doing is bitch’n and moan’n about something YOU have no say in.  We are the product, not the powers-that-be and once you realize that, the better.

Meanwhile, if you have subscribed to my blog, thank you.  If you are reading it for the first time, thank you too!  Enjoy my books!

Google Play ~ and why I removed ALL my books from it

Last November I felt honored to have Google allow me to post my books as well as my author books over on their site, Google Play.  10 Google Play

What I didn’t realize, or know, was what a pain in the ass it really would be.  As I said, I was honored, they made me jump through hoops for two years before they let my publishing company post them, and, there was a learning curve to learn their site.  They don’t make it easy or straight forward.  The site itself is awkward and hard to use.  You would think, it’s Google, it should have some really die-hard programmers and it would look spiffy…um, as a former programmer I have to tell you, it’s very bad to look at and getting your books up on it is time-consuming.  Still, I buckled down and got ALL my authors books up and all of mine as I’ve been re-releasing them.  There were 160 up there and I had 40 more to put up when I stopped doing that.

One of the first things I noticed was they discount your books immediately, that isn’t cool so I had to raise the price as places such as Amazon immediately price match or try to beat the price and you lose money.  Plus, I noticed their residuals aren’t very high, as in no one is buying from their site.  Again, you think Google would have a broad reach but it was like no one knew they were selling books.

I had difficulty not only with their site, but with their tax information system.  Right away I got notification that our tax information wasn’t quite right and they were freezing our residuals as a result.  Naturally I panicked and immediately fixed the problem, or so I thought.  Every two weeks for the last ten months I received that notification.  And, every two weeks for about six months I corrected it.  I tried it with abbreviations, I tried it with a comma, without a comma, every combination to make it right, only to have them send that same irritating email that my account was frozen because the tax information was incorrect.  I consulted with my accountant, I consulted with the IRS, but none of the information I put up on Google worked.  I finally figured F@&$ it.

Capture

I was annoyed, they don’t have a direct phone line and when you do call Google Play, it’s for the consumer, not the people putting up the product they are selling.  They have no line for that.  Annoying right?  You would think Google would be big enough to employ someone to help fix such things?  Nope.   And, the condescension when you do have the wrong people, is unwarranted….uh, they will send on a message to the right people…yeah, right.

When I finally did get emails, they said they were consulting with their people…when this went on with them for months and their condescension came through even in the emails, I got angry.  They stopped emailing after that.

It wasn’t until I said take down all the books that suddenly a flurry of activity on their end came through the emails.  They gave me a step-by-step process to correct my tax information…which I had done, repeatedly.  I said, nope.  Your residuals, which I occasionally got, weren’t worth the hassle.  They truly weren’t.  And their discounts, that was a joke.  No sense in pissing off Amazon when they, at least, PAY for the books they sell on your behalf.  So, I demanded they take the books down, repeatedly.

Finally they are down and I don’t think I will be going back to play with Google.  It simply isn’t worth the hassle, the time, or the money.

Write an author

If you love a book

Recently I received a couple of letters via email about my books.  It’s fun to hear from readers, at least, for me it is.  It’s also important.  I don’t know about other writers but I go through ups and downs about my writing.  I keep telling myself I’m writing for me so that I don’t write because I think it will be a best-seller and the readers will all buy it…nope, can’t do that or you wouldn’t write your true self.  I do write because I enjoy it, the stories are clamoring to be written, and, I’m rather over-zealous…in case you all hadn’t noticed…I’m fairly prolific.

Recently I consulted a PR Agent and his suggestion was, release less and make them anticipate what you are going to release more…um, how do I do that when I’m trying to get the stories out there?  I mean, really, do you, the readers WANT to wait?  Maybe the ‘experts’ are right (write? ha, ha) and I should release less because people are probably sick of seeing me advertising books all the time, but, then there are those who are waiting on things:

Alice, my serial-killer series in the Malice stories has been waiting to make further appearances in Book #23 for a year.  How can I deny her and her demons?

Pirated #3, tentatively named Pirated Life has also been waiting over a year, do you all want to find out what happens with their story?

Recently I released a prequel to my Vetted story in Cavalcade and eagerly anticipate the sequel to Cavalcade since I couldn’t fit it all into one novel.  I mean, really, would you pay for a 500 page book nowadays?  I think that would be off putting to some.  Fortunately, I wrote them both this spring and my editor is finishing up the second one, Pioneered, due out in August…YAY!  And, just for kicks, I finished up Vetted Further, the sequel to Vetted, because there was so much more story there.

So, for this author, I do WANT to hear from you.  If you loved, hated, or just enjoyed the stories, please let an author know…because, without the fans, the readers, the followers, we are JUST writing for ourselves and while that’s fun, we also need the feedback.  Thank you in advance and you’re welcome to the stories!

thank-you-animated-gif-for-powerpointyoure_welcome_rainbow_glitter_text

Facebook Jail

Facebook JailSome think it’s a myth.  Some, occasionally are put in a time out, otherwise known as Facebook Jail.  Others, like myself, are frequent victims or occupants.

Facebook Jail comes in MANY forms.  From getting a six to twelve-hour time out where you aren’t able to post in your groups, even on your pages, to getting a month of being unable to use Facebooks features.

The six to twelve-hour time out usual comes the first time you ‘violate’ their community standards.  Repeated violations can result in a twenty-four-hour time out and up to a week or that month.  This comes if you post too much on your own timeline, on pages, or groups.  It can also come if they ‘think’ you are spamming said timeline, page, or groups.  It can be as little as not being able to post in those groups, but it can be as much as you can’t post at all, or even to not in-boxing (private messaging) your friends on the site (which means you can’t even TELL anyone.)  Also, if you are bad enough, they can and will take away your account…and probably should.Facebook Jail (2)

1238888_10201993645224098_2127981079_n

Now, I certainly understand those terms and conditions and have been put in said jail for posting a picture in a private group that was inappropriate (years ago),  or they thought it was.  I understand that having nipples or genitalia showing are violation of their community standards and I don’t really recall doing that, I won’t say I didn’t accidentally do it, but I learned a long time ago not to do that.   I was put in jail for this picture being reported and my lovely friends all posted it in a show of solidarity.  What’s wrong with it?

I’ve been reported a few times too, this too can result in the dreaded Facebook Jail.  I’ve had nasty attacks where someone saw me posting about my books, my pages, or just an innocent picture.  One report can do you in, but several sometimes is what it takes.

Get out of Jail Free Monopoly

I accept some of the strikes against me as my due, my own fault, as I use social media shamelessly to showcase my books, my publishing company and its authors, and now my lesbian literature awards.  Not only Facebook, but Google +, Twitter, Yahoo, and several others.  It’s only Facebook though that I seem to have trouble with…because, I have been marked…I know I have.

I am in over five-hundred groups on Facebook alone.  From lesbian groups to books groups.  Some are for the social aspects, some are for the books to post in.  No, I don’t post in all of them, all of the time.  In fact, it can be weeks before I visit many of them, because, well, you know…I do have a life.  I try not to post in them too frequently because that is rude, unless, it’s a posting group…you know, for books?  Also, I don’t spam, it took me a while since I started all this to learn not to spam because I was excited to share with people.  Now, I limit myself and it works, most of the time…unless I’m being targeted.

About five years or so ago, as I was learning this, I was in and out of Facebook Jail for two solid years.  I’d get out, only to be put right back in.  I think the fastest I ever got put back in was two hours, and that was for posting only a little in a couple of groups…but, see, I’m flagged as a troublemaker or something.  I have been put in for posting to my own timeline, one picture, and only one picture after not posting for hours, even days.

Get out of FB Jail

The thing is, they don’t want me to do exactly what I am doing here…for free.  So, I took out advertising.  I did a lot of it as I experimented with posts, my books, etc.  Learning key words, who to target, and I even asked some ‘experts.’  I don’t recall anyone seeing my advertisements.

Here is my theory, my opinion, (that I have shared with many of my friends) on the reason why:  Facebook is homophobic.  I personally think it’s run by younger men who are afraid of gays and lesbians and while they take my money, my advertisements don’t really get seen to the audience I intended because, most of the time, they are targeted to lesbians and I am obviously a very active lesbian.  I see the ‘likes’ and they are usually from Indian men…from India.  I do not target this audience at all.  So, why are the names from that area of the world?  Even posts on my own page aren’t seen by my nearly five-thousands ‘friends’ on Facebook.  The pages that I administer have over six thousand, shouldn’t those people who liked the page, be able to see the posts?  I think, lesbians, and probably gays too, are targeted so their posts are not seen.

What I don’t understand is that I have seen porn and worse on Facebook, I’ve even been sent disgusting pictures, as have many of my friends.  I have seen on a public page, that anyone can see, an adult woman going down on an eight-year-old boy.  I used to belong to a page that stopped such things, but it was depressing to me and I couldn’t un-see such things.  I had to stop trying to shut down all those horrible things with my friends.  It still upsets me to remember those kinds of pages.  I also have seen horrible abuse, women beaten, animals mutilated.  Facebook also penalizes you if you report such things too much (irony).  So, posting about my books is way more a violation than those other things I’ve mentioned here?  They are hypocritical.

I too want a safe and clean environment.  I don’t mind titillation, but I don’t want to see a guy’s penis on a page either and I don’t want the fourteen-year-old kids they allow on the site to see those kinds of things I’ve mentioned either.

It is sad though in an effort to be fair, they are allowing automated bots to stop people from posting legitimate things, and their appeals process is a joke.  No one ever answers it, even though they ask.  You never get humans that actually answer anything you appeal.  The appeal, rarely, if ever, works.

Now, you can believe me or not, that is your choice.  I’m not the only one experiencing it.  Not the only one discussing it.  Certainly not the only one in Facebook Jail.

Am I using social media too much, probably.  Am I using it the way it was intended, probably not.  But, let’s stop the hypocrisy and get real people in place to handle the actual violations, review them, and get rid of the real problems.

18425475_10209431124963705_2746414687912683045_n

Do I think I’m being targeted?  Hell yeah.  Do I think it will stop?  Hell no.  Do I think I will stop trying…nuh uhhhh….see ya all on the other side!

 

 

 

 

Sad, but determined

Yesterday I came ‘out’ about being behind the Lesfic Bard Awards, as the owner.  There was a lot of hype on social media about it, it’s still going on.  Unfortunately, the people I hired have been attacked, one in particular, for trying to defend my company that they were posting about.  They weren’t really in a position to do so as we had only chatted on Facebook about her doing the posting for me, she had limited information, and had checked out what I had given her.  She even parroted some of our conversations in defense of me and my company.  It’s sad really as she has been blocked on Facebook for posting too much in groups, in other words, Facebook Jail.  She doesn’t deserve those who made fun of her for doing her job.

It’s a sad commentary really as I saw the posts go up, not only berating the woman I hired to do a job of posting, but the comments that resulted even after I came clean and owned up to hiring her.

I don’t understand why some feel the need to be so vicious in their criticism of what I have tried to accomplish and why they turned it into a personal attack.  This isn’t high school or even grade school where you can say and do what you think you want to.  It’s called being an adult.  Some of the behaviors I have seen in the last twenty-four hours are downright juvenile.  It is very sad.  I won’t out them as I have been.  I won’t shame them as they are attempting to do.  Fortunately, I realize, it says a lot more about them than what they are saying about me.  It also says something about those that allow such posts on their timelines.  They know nothing about my values, my ideals, or my integrity.

I put forth a lot of effort into this awards site.  You can see that if you bother to click on the link and peruse it.  Is it perfect?  No, far from it.  Just an FYI for all those out there, I’m not perfect either.  This is a work in progress, and so am I.  With hundreds of people out there viewing it there are going to be hundreds of opinions on how it should go, what they might do ‘better’, etc.

Putting myself out there is hard enough with my books, my creativity, my publishing, and so on.  I get that there are armchair warriors who will continue to try to pull me down, what I am attempting here, and what I have accomplished.  Who am I really hurting here?

I have for years put myself out there to interview lesbian authors in the Lesfic Reading Group, promoting them, their books to readers and other authors.  I did this before in another group as well.  I was inspired by Jaynes Penney and a group she once had that did the interviews.  I have always tried to get the lesfic community exposure and continue to promote it.  Those of you who know me, know I always try to live up to what I promise to do, I do a good job.  I will do that again for the Lesfic Bard Awards.  At this time, I only have tentative ideas about how to market the authors and their books once they have won (suggestions welcome), but the monies that will be paid to enter these awards will be put towards the award itself, the marketing and publicity, and maybe, if I am lucky, I will make a little…not a lot, as lesbian fiction does not make a lot of money.  Maybe, together we can change that.

Instead of tearing down someone trying to make a difference, and that is what I’m trying to do here, maybe you should embrace it, support it, and promote it.  Anyone who has met me at the various functions over the years knows I am what I seem.  I’ve always tried to be open and honest and helpful.  Those of you who have experienced that, can certainly vouch for me.  Those of you who instead are trying to make it look like I’m trying some scheme here to defraud lesbians of their hard-earned money can kiss me where the sun don’t shine, because I did nothing wrong.  I made mistakes, we all do, and where are you in trying something like this?  Do you even bother to attempt such?  Do you put yourself out there either in writing a book, publishing, or in this case creating an opportunity for others to showcase theirs?  I challenge you nay-sayers to making a difference, do something better, create your own site to showcase lesbian literature and their authors.  Really, what crime am I guilty of in this ‘lets attack K’Anne’ thing that you are doing?  It’s easy to sit in your armchair and criticize those who are doing something, especially when you are doing nothing and will never do anything.

I have accepted no monies at this time, as the applications for authors isn’t even completely up.  I simply hired someone to post that we are looking for judges, and this only after the website was up.  Yes, I wanted to remain anonymous, let my friends be the front as it were, however since this was turning into such a drama, I felt coming clean was the only thing I could do.  I’d still like to remain anonymous, but since that isn’t possible, all I can say is yes, I made a mistake and should have been forthcoming from the first, in hindsight of course that makes sense.  I wanted to remain anonymous so that no one who already knew me would prejudge the awards or form an opinion about how they are managed (good or bad.)

I will never apologize for making this website or the idea behind it.  It’s a great idea, the judging I feel is perfect for what we want to accomplish here.  No, it’s not a non-profit, I do after all have a lot of work, time, and money invested in this already…  Maybe, after everything is paid for (award, marketing, website, etc) I’ll break even.  Let’s celebrate another opportunity to get lesbian fiction out there and good work awarded, fairly and honestly.

Just so you all know, I am still planning on going forth with this idea, the website, and the awards.  I won’t let the negativity I’m seeing, stop me.  I’m grateful for those who have reached out to encourage me, their positive response has been more visible to me than the negativity.  I’m not the only one who feels the triple-blind judging is brilliant.  Those who will criticize, hate, whatever, lets see what you have accomplished so that you have the right to do so.  You aren’t going to stop me so you might as well ignore me.  Also, you can kiss me where the sun don’t shine because I’m not here to defend myself, my businesses, or anything to those people…I did however, feel the need to vent, and have done so.  That’s the end of that story as I see it.

Humiliation at Marcus Theatres

This is kind of long, so pull up a latte, a coffee, or your favorite beverage…alcoholic is allowed, but please read through it all:

20171024_162658

Tuesday I was humiliated at the Rothschild Marcus Theatre near Wausau, WI.

I drove into town, across town, and into the nearest theater in my area, which is this chain called Marcus Theatres.  I’ve been there many times in the past, including just this last Saturday to see films.

Today I went because it’s a Tuesday and the movies are discounted, naturally it’s a busy time.  When I walked up to the ticket counter there was only one person ahead of me and I asked to see the movie.  He asked for my card as they have this perks type of card which I always forget to bring so I gave him my phone number, he plugged it in.  It never gives me any perks so I wasn’t too concerned.  Apparently, it didn’t work on their computer and he mentioned they had been having computer issues.

Then, I went to pay for the movie.  My g/f had sent me a gift card because she knows how much I like to go out to the movies, wished she could go with me, and thought after all my hard work these days it would be a nice distraction.

He scanned it, and waited.  I waited.  He scanned it again and we both waited.  I wondered if I would get charged twice for the transaction since he had scanned it twice, he said no since when it timed out it erased the payment time.  Apparently, his computer issues had extended to this part as well.  He apologized but I said, it wasn’t his fault.  I meant it too.  However, I could tell people were lining up behind me.  They were restless too, as though to lay blame on me, I am not oblivious to their comments.  So, I turned and mentioned to the folks behind me that they were having computer issues.  The guy taking the tickets said it takes about ten second for the computer to reset itself.  I grinned and said, I bet that’s a long 10 seconds and he agreed.  Well, it didn’t go through and he radioed his manager.

Now his manager said the computers were down because of the high winds we are having here in Central Wisconsin.  Okay, but if your computers are down, then how do we go see your movies?  It went back and forth for a while, the poor kid apologizing and me reassuring him that it wasn’t his fault.  Finally, I said, why don’t you have your manager come over here so I can yell at the right person?  I said it as a joke as there was nothing either of us could do.  The crowd behind me was getting ugly.  By the time this was over there were at least twenty people waiting in line behind me…but, to them it was all MY fault.

The manager explained that they couldn’t accept my gift card because their computers were down.  My understanding was, because their computers were down they couldn’t accept any payments because they couldn’t assign seats in the new super comfortable reclining seats auditoriums.  So, they should explain that to everyone right?  She suggested I go on line and make a complaint.  I said, I drove all the way over here to watch one of your movies, only to be turned away because your computer malfunctioned which is in no way MY fault.  She’s like, there is nothing I can do.  I said, you can let me in to watch the movie.  I was still calm at this point.  Instead, she again suggested I go on line.  So, I should drive all the way home again, waste my gas and time, to complain on line for something she could solve easily.  I pointed out that she was missing the point of customer service.

Instead the manager continued in a tone that sounded accusatory to me as though I started all of this.  Instead, I get the insults hurled at me, behind me in line over a movie.  In fact, I heard things like, “Get out of line, bitch,” and worse.  I finally grabbed my gift card, which apparently is useless, and turn around to face the ugly crowd.  I got called a bitch again several times, I had done nothing, and to “fucking get out of here.”  Now, anyone who knows me, knows I don’t use that particular word very often, nor do I condone it, but today I told the woman who got in my face like that and used it, “Fuck you.”

I left the theater feeling absolutely stunned, humiliated over their behavior.  Driving home I actually cried over the way the people in line had treated me.  No, it wasn’t the theaters fault they were having computer issues because of the high winds, how they handled it however WAS and IS their fault.  I took her suggestion and contacted someone on line.

Follow up:  I tried to phone, no one answers, and it just goes into telling you what movies are playing.  No alternate line is listed.  So, I went on line.  That too was a joke as the pull-down menu had no listing for this particular cinema.  I lodged a complaint on line, found a 1-800 number and called it, leaving the same complaint.  I do have to say, the complaint I lodged, I got a call back in half an hour from a sympathetic employee of Marcus Theatres.  He listened to everything I said, commiserated, and said he’d pass it on to corporate and that I’d get a call the next day from corporate.  No one called.  I found out later this first guy was from South Dakota, that’s a couple of states over, so no wonder…

I waited 24 hours for someone to call me and nothing happened.  So, I called their number again, the recording stated they answered calls until 5:30 CST which is why I called before that the previous day (Tuesday) and again on Wednesday.  I got a call from a woman who identified herself as being in their corporate office.  I have to say, repeating this story, over and over again, explaining my feelings, the F YOU, that I do not normally use, is just as upsetting.  I’m sick of it already.  She listened, assured me that is NOT the norm and comped me a few a tickets.  She also assured me that a manager of the cinema would be calling me as the woman who identified herself as the manager was not the General Manager.  I never was after compensation, free tickets, even a free popcorn.  I was just so horrified over this incident I felt that they had to know what occurred.

Today is Thursday October 26 and I just got off the phone with Scott, who identified himself as the General Manager.  We had a long talk, again, I had to repeat my story.  At this point, I’ve forgotten key issues and I can still feel the horror in my stomach as I describe how those waiting in line made me feel.  I’ve analyzed it of course, who could help themselves.  This mob mentality.  This naked allowance comes from the top down.  Once those in power allowed such open hostility, such freedom of violence, under the guise of ‘free speech’ it allowed a certain mentality in our society to come out and show their own behaviors.  Before it was hidden (I prefer that).  Before, it wouldn’t have been thought to be allowed under good manners.  My mother would have been horrified to have heard what happened to me, but equally so, my own return of their foul language.  I am actually ashamed that I stooped that low, but I felt, at the time, that was the only language they would understand.  I am pleased to realize the woman was frightened of me and took a step back when I confronted her.  However, as soon as I used her language, she was less frightened, instead she thought I was just like her.  I am in no way THAT person and I won’t do something like that again.  I may stop and give her a look of ‘what planet are you from’ or ‘who raised you’ but I won’t use that language as it demeans me…and I don’t care about her.

It was sad to realize that this naked hostility is the norm.  I had never seen it personally, experienced it, and only heard about it on the news or social media.  I’m ashamed at my own reaction, however brief.  I should have risen above it.  I certainly don’t condone it.

Yes, having the free comped tickets is a nice gesture.  The apology is nice as well, and, I felt, sincere.  But, I don’t feel satisfied.  I don’t feel safe.  That ugliness can’t be glossed over and now I will feel the need to be guarded, not only in public like that, but even in my own home.

Well, this was all over a movie that I wanted to see.  But, that isn’t even really the point.  I should be able to go out in public without having the mob-mentality turn on me and making me feel a victim.  I’m angry at myself.  I’m angry at the powers that be that condone and allow it.  I’m angry at myself that I used the words I did.  I’m angry at a manager that could have explained their computers were down and just let me in, as the General Manager said I would have in the past.  Btw, he said they would be addressing this incident tomorrow at their weekly manager meeting, first thing.  Good, I hope someone learns something and they put things into place so that no one else is ever victimized.  And yes, I will be using their tickets and going to this cinema again, as the next nearest one is over 30 miles away.  I may not get out often, but I want to enjoy the times I do and this is one pleasure (normally) that I’m not willing to forego.

I did explain to the three people I spoke to that I have over 50,000 followers on social media and you can bet that I’m telling them the WHOLE story.  I hope this explains it all adequately.  I think Marcus Theatres is a FINE establishment and this was an isolated incident.  They finally did the right thing and I got an apology.  I certainly didn’t care about the free tickets or popcorn they offered (I get sick from their coconut oil that they use to make popcorn), I don’t know if the apology will make me feel better, it doesn’t at the moment.  I don’t know what more they could do to make me feel better.  However, they did what they could and I appreciate that.  I will be going back.

 

 

Tragedy in Orlando

13432441_10156997943470162_721653700964367980_nIn the wake of the mass shooting of over 50 LGBT humans in Florida I wanted to say something, anything about it, but I was unsure of WHAT to say.  Reflecting on it, horrified by it, and realizing that at anytime, anywhere it is a possibility that a person could be part of this scenario.  Especially if it is a hate crime, directed at someone who is part of the LGBT community.  As a lesbian who could very well have been at such a club, it horrifies me to realize that someone who objected to my sexuality decided to make a very public statement in a grandiose way and could snuff out me and my friends and allies lives in a moment of impulse on their part.

In doing some research for this blog I decided to go back to some of the basics:

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

13417636_10208364976194646_598138014732344123_nOkay, I get it.  In order to keep us free of an overbearing government we can and do have the right to bear arms.  However, as much as I believe in the freedom of this to protect oneself, one’s property, one’s family…you can have a gun.  Having grown up with three brothers and a father who hunted, I’ve always been around guns, I’ve shot them, I’m pretty damn good at it (or I was).  I even alarmed a husband whose fixation on guns because of his job was upstaged by my superior marksmanship.  I am not afraid of guns.  I am afraid of those controlling a gun.  I’ve seen people such as my ex-husband who seem to idolize the ownership of a machine whose function is to propel an object from it at such a velocity with the intent to kill.  He even bought a revolver with an overly long barrel because of some show where the gun actually talked to the main character through the barrel, animated to make it appear to talk, (rolling my eyes here).  While a clever plot, it also minimalized the deadly force a gun actually is.  I personally AGREE that we should have the RIGHT to own a gun, to protect ourselves.  I personally do not own a gun and have no need in my mind to own one at this time, not that my opinion wouldn’t change at some point.  I do not however understand the need for a display of them in the form of hunting guns or to stockpile the deadliest we can find and own.  If you have one, why do you need dozens, or one that is so deadly that you can take out an entire nightclub?

ar-15I found out while researching the AR-15 to understand more about an assault weapon that, in Florida, it’s easier to purchase this assault weapon than it is to get a pistol.  Does this make sense to others?  Please explain why you would need such a weapon?  Do you really need something like this to defend your home?  Do you need something like this to hunt?  Really?  Being able to shoot rapidly and with clips, obscene amounts, do you really need such a weapon?

I think it is long past time for regulations of such guns.  It isn’t JUST the 20 mass shootings in the past going on here in the United States.  It’s the fact that when our forefather’s drafted The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution they were talking about a musket, not a high powered rifle that could shoot 130 rounds.  That is something that the military should have, not every day people defending their homes.  A gun, a pistol, is every bit as good for such a scenario.  Why in the hell would you need such an assault rifle?  To own one?  To say mine is bigger than yours?  Why?

13450756_10154080025185837_3526068356305689332_nThe whole scenario that happened in Florida is such that it is set to create fear in the LGBT community.  We should stay hidden, we should not expect equal rights, we should stay home?  Last I checked I was a human first, a woman second, and a lesbian third.  My rights are every bit as important as a straight, heterosexual male who decides or judges two people based on their sexual preference.  What gives him ‘more’ or ‘superior’ rights to judge others?  One news report stated he had seen two males kissing.  What is wrong with this?  Does their homosexuality really infringe on his heterosexuality?  Did it disturb him so much that killing all these people, dying himself, solved the problem that he had with it?  They didn’t ask him to participate, they didn’t infringe on any of HIS rights, why should he judge that they did and take it out on so many innocent people?  This unbalanced individual, as we begin to hear more and more about him, had many warning signs that he should never have owned such a gun.

Next month I am traveling to Washington D.C. for the Golden Crown Literary Society’s annual meeting of LGBT authors.  Should I not go because as a lesbian I will have a big target on my forehead?  Should I not go because as a woman I will have to worry about being hassled or even assaulted?  Why does anyone else’s opinions about what I ‘should’ or ‘should not’ do matter?  I should really be able to go anywhere in my own country where freedom is supposed to be paramount.  How can anyone tell me I can’t do something because of something I was born with, be it my sex or sexual orientation?13450100_1705682519682166_4256596055177865719_n

While these politicians give lip service to how their ‘prayers’ are being sent to those victims of the Orlando Massacre, I personally find that hypocritical.  What about the separation of church and state?  Your prayers Mr. or Ms. Politician do nothing to change the fact that if certain lobbies give you enough money you ignore the basic reason that these things occur.  They fund the fact that they want their guns or anything else they can afford to push on the American public.  In this case, a gun that should not be on our streets.  Because the right to own one is covered in our constitution from a time 200 years ago, you continue to ignore the fact that it’s killing not only Gay’s and Lesbians, but PEOPLE from children to adults.  You continue to take blood money, and yes it is blood on your hands, because you might lose office to be unpopular.13435437_10154275805747959_8194994956552241564_nTell me who the unpopular legislators, politicians, and leaders are who are willing to stand up to these lobbies who continue to push their agenda’s and put unsafe things into unstable people’s hands?  I will personally support them in their open agenda of stopping these obvious and horrific rights on items that have changed over the course of 200 years.

Owning a gun should not only be a responsibility for those who have proved that they are mentally stable for such a responsibility, but it is and SHOULD be a privilege and they should prove they can handle that.  Allowing these types of guns should be a crime…against those who sell them, those that push them, and those that ignore the real fact that people are dying because they make these decisions.

I read a news report that claimed the man who did the shooting was part of Isis.  I do not know if this is true or not.  I read another news report that Isis already claimed responsibility for this horrific act of violence.  As it targets my brother’s and sister’s of the LGBT community I have to wonder if it is a terrorist act or a hate crime?  What does it matter really?  There are already over 50 people DEAD due to a senseless act of violence.  We can speculate to death what terms to use.  There are 50 FAMILIES that will never recover from this.  As a victim of a senseless act myself in the past, I know, the family never completely recovers, you never forget, and while you move on, it is always there, always remembered.  When another such act happens, and it will until things are changed, laws are changed, and people like this are forbidden the right to own such vehicles of mass destruction, these families, each one of them will experience the same fear, the same hurt.  Why perpetuate this in ever widening circles of despair?  Why allow the fear and the hurt to continue?  Greed is not good in this case, the right to own a gun is not the pervading right here.  To cause such fear, to try and take away my rights is not going to stop me or others.  I don’t have to have a gun to make people stop, I have a vote, I have a voice.

13445369_1159399487486437_6733721762715275474_nWhen I first started hearing these reports I was angry.  While I’m a small voice in the wider scheme of things, I hope my anger expressed here at least gets some to think.  Gets some to act.  Lip service isn’t enough.  Let’s start voting those who take money from lobbies out of office, in fact, let’s make these lobbyists and their agenda’s as illegal as assault weapons should be.

13413158_10207531553461548_5623896824169060162_nTo those who I do not know, but I know your pain, my heart bleeds for you.  I cry as I type this. 13442481_10103586202832800_8964429365003818591_o

Letter to Jeff Bezos of Amazon

I encourage each and every author I know, even the reviews, fans, and followers to write to Jeff@amazon.com a similar letter:

Jeff Bezos

Chief Executive Officer

Amazon.com

Dear Mr. Bezos,

I want to thank you for providing such a platform as KDP Publishing and Create Space for authors to self-publish as well as small publishing houses to use print on demand and e-books.

Recently it has come to my attention how harsh the culling of reviews has become.  When we, as self-published authors or small publishing houses complain about a review that may have been a little harsh, or the book unread, or someone buys it and returns it in a few hours when they have read the whole thing, we are frequently ignored.  When we have faithful followers we will now be punished because you look at our social media friends list, our faithful followers, and decide that these reviews are not earned and remove them.

Personally, I have 4600 followers on Facebook alone.  I have another 19,500 on Twitter.  I also have 25,200 on my blog.  I couldn’t POSSIBLY know EACH and EVERY one of these people.  I’m just grateful that the hard work I have put into promoting myself as an author is paying off in the form of faithful readers who help support me by reading my Novels, Novellas, and Short Stories.  To find out that their continued support in the form of recommending my books via a review may be stopped is a little alarming.  Yes, any system can be abused, we see it every day in the form of those giving bad reviews because they don’t like an author, but if we report it, it can be and frequently is ignored.  Not every book or story I write is going to appeal to every reader, that’s the great thing about it though, variety.  If I deserve a bad review, I should take it, but if my fans choose to leave me a good one their integrity is questioned?

Yes, some of these fans have become ‘friends’ over the years of my publishing endeavors, but they started as fans, they read my works and the works of my authors, and I encourage everyone to leave a review whenever possible.  Now, because they are on my ‘lists’ they may be suspect?

I am also a small publisher, I encourage and in fact teach my authors to promote themselves through social media in the form of blogs, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and any other social media platform that may help them sell a book.  Finding readers is easy, keeping them is hard…and when they show that they are faithful fans their reviews are helpful.  So a practice whereby your people, your algorithm’s ‘decide’ which reviews stay and which go may not be as good an idea as you might think.

I have to question if this happening to the truly big sellers of books?  Do the Danielle Steel fans get monitored for this?  How about Johanna Lindsey?  Even dead authors like Louis La’Mour or Beatrice Small, are their reviews being monitored?  Or are you only targeting newer authors, smaller authors and presses?  They couldn’t possibly ‘know’ the millions who follow them, how could I know the tens of thousands who follow me?

I also have another question for you?  Is it true it takes 25 or 50 ‘reviews’ before Amazon will ‘promote’ a book in the same genre?  If so, then are you watching as 25 or 50 reviews appear instantly on some author’s new releases to make them best sellers?  Isn’t this suspicious?  When only 1-2 appear at a time you now are suspicious of those?  You wish to take away those from these authors?

I, personally, find it a little creepy that now our social media platforms are being ‘watched’ by the giant Amazon to see if we are ‘friends’ with our ‘reviewers’ so that these reviews can be flagged and taken away.  How ‘big brother’ of you.  Don’t you think there are more important issues to worry about such as the theft of someone’s intellectual work in the form of torrent sites, the targeting of some authors in the form of trolls, or simply, good customer service?

I personally hope that these rumors about these review practices are simply that, rumors and that it won’t happen large scale as it is being stated.  It’s a sad day when we can’t even trust that the company we place our works of art in the hands of is now second guessing things, watching out ‘for us’ in a way that is very invasive.

Amazon is a huge company, I understand that.  I personally spend hundreds of dollars at your site every year and love its convenience.  It scares me though as a writer and publisher that the dollars we count on to earn at your site may be in jeopardy because of some practices that are too intrusive.  Please rethink this policy.

Sincerely,

K’Anne Meinel, Author

K’Anne Meinel, Publisher of Shadoe Publishing

Of Trolls and Reviews

Definition of Troll

In this modern day of people hiding behind a keyboard it is easy to state an opinion on social media or a blog (as I am doing here) or anywhere on line where others will eventually see it.  A lot of people don’t realize the long term consequences of blurting out their thoughts and just let it hang all out there.  Recently I released a new book BLOWN AWAY.  My first review was barely a one star.Capture  I’m not arrogant enough to think that ALL my reviews SHOULD be FIVE stars but this one was a little harsh.  I took it in stride as the next two WERE five stars and I especially LIKED that one of the posters took abridge to the one star reviewer (thank you by the way).

Everyone is ALLOWED their OWN opinion, but not everyone SHOULD express it.  Especially if it is intentional to harm the person they are expressing it about.  Authors are a unique breed, we do bleed, we do have thoughts and feelings and emotions…we run the gammit of them as we express them in our creations…our reviews are a necessary part of us putting out ‘babies’ out there.Review It is a double-edged sword.  We are human after all and have these ‘compulsions’ to put these stories, part of US…out there.  Now while this reviewer absolutely HAS the RIGHT to express THEIR opinion, I actually applaud them for it, if it was intended to HURT, it didn’t succeed.

My first thought when I saw the first review was that it was a troll (defined above) download and while I value other people’s opinions, I don’t think hiding behind a keyboard and doing such things is ethical.

I know not everyone is going to like everything I write, not everything I write IS gold.  This book however, while it has a provocative cover (deliberately to garner your attention) deals with some harsh realities.  Mainly, ABUSE.  Something I do know something about, something I felt I could shed some light on.  The main character deals with it and finds that she carries it with her for years, not allowing herself to have decent relationships as a result.  The process is what this is about, for this character to learn to deal with.  You have to know who she is, what makes her the way she is, and how she overcomes.  Is this mainly a romance, ABSOLUTELY NOT.  This is a DRAMA with a romance within, mainly, learning to forgive oneself for decisions made due to abuse.  This was NOT an easy book to write.  It isn’t an easy book to READ.  No, not everyone is going to LIKE it, but it IS a GOOD book and the many others tweeting about it who realize the whole point OF the book, get it, understand it, and know it’s value, THANK YOU!

Full Cover of BLOWN AWAYSeriously, do NOT judge a book by it’s cover!  This one might just BLOW YOU away!

Paperback

E-Book