THE JUICE DEBACLE

It worked when my mom did it. She’d chopped up a bunch of veggies, put them in her Ninja and swirled the hell out of them. When she’d first told me about her Ninja I thought perhaps she’d hired a security system—as in a small green turtle with karate moves.

She poured the puke-colored mixture in a glass and we both studied it. “I think it’s okay. Let’s give it a try,” she said brightly.
kale

My father walked by without making eye contact. “Do you want a veggie smoothie?” I asked.

“No. If I’m going to drink my vegetables I’ll have a can of V-8.  Preferably with Stoli,” he said.

stoli

“I think that defeats the purpose,” my mother replied. We sanctimoniously toasted to our good health. We drank it. It tasted okay.

When I got home I took a look in our vegetable compartment. We had spinach, carrots, celery, tomatoes and cucumbers. That seemed like a good mix. I figured I’d make my own V-8 sans the Stoli. I added some garlic, a dash of ketchup and this hemp seed stuff we’d been using in our oatmeal. It’s supposed to help with inflammation. This was like nature’s perfect food. I juiced away. I took a taste. It didn’t taste like V-8.  Maybe some salt and pepper. I whirled again.

v8-vegetable-juice-12oz-bottles-12ct-case-1

I poured two glasses and took one to Layce. She was reading in the den. “I brought you lunch.”

“What is that?” She said, studying the glass.

Now, I admit it didn’t look good. It was kind of an orange, green, and chunky kind of thing. In hindsight, I should have used a non-see-through glass. The presentation would’ve been better.

“It’s a veggie smoothie, super healthy, low in calories and tastes like V-8,” I said, putting on my best imitation of a used car salesman. “Just try it.”

“You go first,” Layce said.

“All right,” I said. I took a large swallow and managed not to gag. “See, it’s fine.”

Layce eyed me suspiciously. I took another swallow. “I can feel myself getting healthier just standing here.”

She sniffed it. She tried to swirl it around like a wine taster. It didn’t budge. Finally she took the plunge. Now in hindsight again—don’t stand in front of someone when they’re having a veggie smoothie for the first time. She blinked. She tried to swallow, she gagged. And then she spewed a veggie smoothie projectile that managed to avoid hitting the carpet because it hit me instead.

I looked down at my T-shirt. “I didn’t think it was that bad.”

“It needs definitely needs vodka to kill the taste,” Layce said.

Making the world a happier place one book at a time.CLT new cover(1)

Available at Amazon, and Barnes and Noble

How Much Money Does a Novelist Make?

HOW MUCH MONEY DOES A NOVELIST MAKE?

By Layce Gardner & Saxon Bennett

As Indie authors who have had three best-selling novels in the past twelve months AND who have also had eighteen novels published with a small lesbian publisher, we are often asked this question. We don’t normally talk about finances and how much money we make but in this case we want to make an exception.

MYTH: Authors make more money if you buy their book directly from the publisher’s website.

TRUTH: Authors do not make more money. The PUBLISHER makes more money if you buy directly from their website.

That is why publishers hold on to a book at their website for a month or more before putting it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or other platforms. They make more money at their website. But they still pay the author the same amount regardless.

Here’s a typical breakdown of monies the author sees from sales on different platforms: (some authors may make more or less than others.)

PRINT BOOKS

With a publisher an author makes up to 8 percent on the cover price. If you buy a print book for $16, the author makes $1.28. Regardless of where the book is bought, the author makes $1.28 per book. That means if 100 books are sold the author makes $128.

By the same token, the publisher makes $1,472 per every 100 print books sold. Unless it’s at Amazon. Amazon only gives the publisher 70 percent of every book sold. That is why publishers hold their books on their website and urge readers to buy from their website. Because the PUBLISHER makes less money at Amazon.

To put this in perspective, imagine that you are working for a company that pays you a salary of $50,000 per year. But they take 92 percent of your salary and put it back in their own pocket, giving you only $4,000 for the year. And you still have to pay taxes on that 4 grand! That means you bring home $76 a week before taxes.

Indie authors vary on how much they make with a print book. It depends on the cover price they set, how big the book is and who they use to print the book. Saxon and I use Create Space and their print on demand services. Create Space then offers the book for sale everywhere, including bookstores, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

For our latest book, Kiss & Tell, we set the cover price at $12.99. That means for each book sold (70,000 words) we make approximately $4. For every 100 print books sold we make $400.

For Indie authors, print books are only a drop in the bucket of total sales. Print amounts to a mere 1-2 percent of our sales. We do it mainly to have books to autograph and hand out.

eBOOKS

Publishers typically pay an author 15 to 25 percent per ebook. Again, some authors make more and some make less, but this seems to be industry standard. If an ebook is for sale on the publisher’s website for $10 then the author (at 25 percent) makes $2.50. If the ebook is bought on Amazon for $10 then the author makes $2.50. The author makes the same no matter where the book is purchased.

Indie authors make considerably more money from their ebooks. If an Indie author has a book for sale on Amazon for $10, they will make $7.00 from that sale. (Give or take a few pennies that Amazon takes for downloading fees.) If the Indie author sells 100 copies they make $700.

MYTH: The Amazon top 100 doesn’t help book sales.

TRUTH: The Amazon top 100 means A HELLUVA LOT more book sales.

I have had three books in the Amazon top 100 of Lesbian Romance in the past year and have pieced together the following information on have many sales it takes to reach a spot in the top 100.

Amazon ranking (Lesbian Romance)                                        How many sales per day

50 – 100                                                                                                         10-15

30-50                                                                                                              15-20

10-30                                                                                                              20- 50

6-10                                                                                                                50-100

1-5                                                                                                                  100 or more

Our book More Than a Kiss was Number One in Lesbian Romance for six months. Each day we sold between 100-175 ebooks per day. We made $8,000 in the first month of sales. To date we have sold over 6,000 copies and are still selling.

To make matters more clear about the difference between authors with publishers and Indie authors: One year with her publisher Layce made $252 total. In our first year as an Indie author we made $28,500. And we are in no way exceptional. We have talked with other Lesfic Indie authors who have made much, much more.

All the figures discussed in this blog come from our own experience and from talking to authors who are with publishers. It has also been brought to my attention that Sapphire Books pays their authors considerably more than most other Lesfic publishers.

NUCLEAR POPCORN

“I’ll get the movie streaming and you make the popcorn,” Layce said.

“Sure,” I said. I’d never actually made microwave popcorn before but I’m all about new experiences. My first mistake was not reading the directions. I mean I’d watched Emma make popcorn. If a kid could do it, a grown-up with more skills shouldn’t have a problem.

or pop

I put the bag in the microwave. I pondered how it was that people could screw up popcorn. In every office environment there was always the idiot who’d burn the popcorn and stink up the whole break room.

“How come I don’t hear the popcorn popping?” Layce said, as we both studied the television screen where Netflix refused to load saying we didn’t have an internet connection.

“It’s not done,” I replied. Layce pressed buttons on the remote. Still no luck. “Get Emma, she’ll fix it,” I suggested.

The microwave beeped and I pulled out a flat bag of popcorn. What the hell? There was a slightly acrid smell. “I think we have a defective bag of popcorn here.”

Layce handed Emma the remote and came over to check out the defective bag of popcorn. “What did you do?”

“I put it in the microwave for three minutes,” I said.

“Did you turn the turbo-power down?”

“What???” The microwave had blast off capabilities? Who knew?

“Yes, turn it down, here just press this button and take it down.”

Layce handed me another bag of popcorn. I put it in the microwave and turned the turbo-power down to fifty percent. I still didn’t understand why the popcorn didn’t pop because the microwave zapped it too much. Hot is hot. Popcorn should pop when it’s hot. I didn’t care what anyone said. The bag was obviously defective. Orville Redenbacher probably had a disgruntled employee who wanted to mess with an unsuspecting popcorn consumer and put in reject kernels.

“How’s it going over there?” Layce said.

“Got it all under control,” I said, peering into the microwave—nothing appeared to be happening. The microwave dinged. The bag was still flat. “I think we’ve got another bag of defective popcorn over here.” The disgruntled employee must have been really pissed off. He’d gotten the whole box.

Layce returned to the kitchen. “What did you do?”

“Just what you said. I turned the turbo power thing down,” I said defensively.

“Down to what?”

“Fifty-percent.”

“It needs to be a seventy-five.”

“Well, why didn’t you just say that?” I replied peevishly. This popcorn thing was getting annoying.

“At least you didn’t burn it this time.”

She put the bag back in, amped up the turbo on the microwave and set it for three minutes. It turned out perfect. “I did it!” I called out. I was ecstatic. Evidently the whole batch wasn’t defective.

“Impressive,” Layce said. She and Emma were still messing with the internet problem.

Confidently, I put in my bag of sea salt and caramel popcorn, set it for three and a half minutes just like the package said. I figured since it was a different kind of popcorn maybe I should read the instructions. They were evidently there for a reason.

caramel pop

Since I had three and a half minutes I went to the check out the television problem.

“Did you ever press play?” Emma asked. She glanced at her mother.

“No, why would I? It said we didn’t have a connection so why would I press play? What was there to play?” Layce said defensively.

Emma pressed play and the movie came up. “Geez, mom.”

I rolled my eyes. “Takes a kid to figure it out,” I muttered.

“What’s that smell?” Emma said. She’d missed the early debacle.

Layce looked at me. “What have you done?”

“Nothing. I followed the directions.”

We all ran to the kitchen. I opened the microwave and a huge cloud of acrid, burnt, nose-burning smoke poured out. The smoke alarm went off. Layce grabbed the bag, and flung it on the counter. (See attached photo.  This was after it had cooled down and we’d de-smoked the house.)

005

Emma ran to the back door and opened it. Layce swatted at the smoke alarm with a broom until it came crashing down, made one last peep and stopped.

I whipped out dishcloths and wet them in sink as smoke continued to pour out of the microwave. “Here, put these on,” I said, wrapping mine around my face so I looked like an old western bank robber.

“Why?” Layce said.

Emma didn’t hesitate. She put hers on. “Smoke inhalation. You can die from it. I saw it on iFunny.”

I snatched the bag off the counter and got on the ground, army-crawling my way to the back door.

“What is she doing?” Layce asked Emma.

“Smoke rises, we better get down.”

“I am not crawling around on the floor,” Layce said. She opened the front door and got the fan out of Emma’s room.
Through the cloud of smoke, Layce said, “You are never, ever allowed to make popcorn. Is that understood?”

“Who knew such a thing was possible? I’m telling you it’s defective popcorn,” I replied standing out on the back porch with Bear. She was no dummy. The house stunk bad. Emma joined us.

“No, the person making the popcorn is defective.” Layce said.

I will never look at another packet of microwave popcorn without trepidation and a healthy respect for its capabilities. Who needs tear gas when there’s popcorn for making terrorists evacuate a building?

“Maybe we should go out to a movie,” I suggested.

“I’ll get my coat,” Emma said.

MAKING THE WORLD A HAPPIER PLACE—ONE BOOK AT A TIME!

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Available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Smashwords!


The History Of My Hair

Mine started long and got shorter. I was the typical little girl (well, sort of. I was odd then as now, but that’s beside the point.) My hair went from newborn short to progressively longer. Then the battle of the brush began.

I would have to be cajoled into having my hair brushed or I looked like Medusa. “Do you want to go to school looking like Medusa?” my mother said. I didn’t know who Medusa was but I did know that we must have had a lot in common—the tangle.

THE TANGLE

tangle 2

The tangle was a mystery to both me and my mother. Between brushings the tangle would grow around the nape of my neck into a snarled knot of ever-growing proportions until the next morning when my mother would attempt to de-snarl it. That’s when the screams and tears reminiscent of the medieval torture chamber began. I wailed. My mother screamed. She hated it as much as I did.

Having conceded defeat, my mother took me to the hairdresser who gave me a shag. I loved my shag. It was short and tangle free. It was a success. I could care for my own hair. My shortened locks required minimum brushing. It was heaven.

Then middle school came and the shag went out of style. I tried for shoulder-length hair. The bangs became the problem then. Keeping the bangs out of my eyes was the new hair battle. My hair is an over-achiever. The minute it gets cut it grows like a field of alfalfa in Spring. By the time I walk out of the salon and to the car it has already grown two inches.

I took to trimming my own bangs. They always ended up crooked.  I would keep cutting in an effort to straighten them up. However, that only made them short and crooked. For the entire 7th grade I had to keep my head at an angle so it gave the illusion that my bangs were straight. See class photo below.

THE BANGS

crooked bangs 2

Then Farrah Fawcett came along in high school. I had to get up early to style my hair because it required, hot rollers, a curling iron and lots of hair spray. I did a great job on the front. I couldn’t see the back so for three years I had a bed head and never knew it.

THE FARRAH

Farrah 2

The next adult hair cut was the perm. I decided I wanted what I didn’t have—curly hair. So, I bought it. I looked like Orphan Annie. The perm lasted a couple of years until I fell in love with a girl and had to choose from one of the 1980’s lesbian hairdos. I had seven choices. I chose the mullet—short on top, but keeping the long hair in back as some sort of concession to ‘I’m still a girl but I like girls now.’ I freely admit it was a confusing time for me.

THE MULLETT

trans do

Once I became more secure in my sexuality and a tad militant while in college—all that woman-power-anti-patriarch stuff. I read Mary Daly Gyn-Ecology and even went to one of her readings— I took to shaving the sides of my hair right down to the skin and looking rather dangerous with a pony tail in the back. I resembled some sort of other worldly nymph sprite creature.

It was my attempt at creating my own unique hair style. I couldn’t get a stylist to do my design—something about professionalism. I had my girlfriend cut my hair. I kept this hairdo until I went to London and was labeled a hair Nazi.

THE MILITANT

wild animal

Next came the flat-top. I went to Luigi’s Hair Salon and had him cut the ponytail off and create a full on flat top. The only concern I had with Luigi was that he wore grease-smeared, coke-bottle lenses and I couldn’t be sure if the flat top was truly flat with any precision.

THE FLAT-TOP

flat top 001

My girlfriend wasn’t certain she liked this new hairdo.  I also got called “young man” a lot. There was also another problem—ladies often thought I was in the wrong bathroom.

The flat top evolved into the shingle cut. It was like I had a sloping roof on one side while the other side lay sedately down. This ‘do lasted a few years until I got sick of swinging the longer side out of my eyes and the chiropractor couldn’t figure out why I had so much trouble with my neck.

THE SHINGLE

the shingle 001

At last the hairdo that fitted me best came along. It came about as a combination of two stylists. One was a woman who talked about clubbing in Phoenix so long that I came out with almost no hair. People at work were startled and gave me the names and numbers of their hairdressers. This ended up with me in a black barber shop where this wonderful old barber did his best even though he had never cut a white person’s hair. I really owe it to him. I came out with a modified flat top with a bit of a twist and the spike was born.

THE SCALP

scalped by h.c 001

Now I was the hip spiky girl. If someone didn’t know my name at work they did a hand gesture which involved wagging all five fingers at the top of their head, saying, “You know the girl with the spiky hair.” My hair became my signature. Michael Jackson had his glove; Madonna had her pointy bra; I had my hair. Even when I went to a writer’s conference people knew who I was because of my hair. My hair even made people I didn’t know think they knew me. It was remarkable. I’ve kept it ever since.

It only took me 45 years to find the perfect hairdo.  It’ll go grey and I’ll add a pink or purple highlight and be forever happy. Oh, and I haven’t owned a brush in years because my fingers with the aid of gel does the job. Every day my hair is a bit different— like a mercurial being with its own identity.

And then sometimes I just wear a hat.

PRESENT DAY

saxon pub pic1

Making the world a happier place—one book at a time!

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Things Not To Say If You Want To Be On TV

You learn a lot of things about your parents when you become an adult—stories untold. I was visiting my parents last month and I heard some doozies.

I was sitting at the kitchen table with my father when he told me about an experience he had while in London. He and my mom were walking down Fleet Street, the high-brow, financial section of town—all tailored suits and fancy shoes. They saw this well-dressed banker type drunk as a skunk weaving down the street.
fleet st
As if this wasn’t alarming enough, as my father so aptly put it, “With his dink hanging out his fly catching a breeze and I’m not talking just having the barn door open, I mean the whole horse was hanging out.”

“I think she’s got the point, dear,” my mother said.

“Oh, my, that must have been a sight,” I said, trying frantically to bat this visual out of my brain.

“Well, it gets better,” my mother said.

“Yep, so at the end of the street, there was this reporter stopping tourists and asking them about the most amazing sights they’d seen while in London.”
london bridge

“We could’ve been on the evening news except…” my mother said.

“We must’ve looked like tourists, because he stopped us. He asked, “What was the most remarkable thing we’d seen so far,” my father continued.

“You’ll never guess what he told them,” my mother said.

“He didn’t,” I said. Even I wouldn’t do that, I hoped.

“Sure did. That guy over there with his dink hanging out,” I told him and I pointed. “I’m pretty sure the camera man got a good shot.”

I think my social faux pas might be genetic. Nurture only goes so far. Nature gave me a big dose of what-not-to-say because I would have done the same thing if the opportunity had arisen . Yet another example of I am my father’s daughter.

Making the world a happier place—one book at a time!

kiss tell cover

Available at Amazon for only $4.99

Laughter Is The Best Medicine

Need a good laugh? You can find it here!

kiss tell cover

From the award-winning authors who brought you More Than a Kiss and Crazy Little Thing!When Willy and Allistair meet, it is hate at first sight. The last thing they want is to witness a Mafia murder and be put into the Witness Protection Program together. Join Willy and Allistair as they go on the run from the mob and are forced to hide in a convent, a Wild West ghost town, and a nudist colony. In the end, they discover that sometimes love is found where you least expect it.

Available at Amazon for only $4.99!

Where Do The Socks Go?

“Why are all your socks spread out over the bed?” Layce said.

“What? I can’t hear you,” I said.

“Take your head out of the washer that might help. Why are you in the washer anyway?”

“I’m looking for socks,” I said. I put the flash light back in my mouth and resumed my search.

“Why? You have plenty of socks,” Layce said. She was now peering into the depths of the washer with me.

I removed the flash light from between my teeth and pulled my head out of the washer. “I know. I have 106 complete pairs of socks. I also have 52 single socks that used to be pairs but somehow, somewhere, their partners have gone AWOL. That means that I lose on average one sock a week every year. I want to know where they go.”

socks

“And you think there’s a trap door in the washer where sock gnomes pop up once a week and steal a sock taking their precious back to the King of the Sock Gnomes to offer tribute,” Layce said, doing a good impersonation of Gollum.

“Well that’s one hypothesis. And since our garden gnomes went missing last Halloween they may have joined the sock gnomes of their own volition or they have been forced and now they suffer Stockholm Syndrome and are willingly stealing our socks because we are the bloated bourgeois of socks and need to be taught a lesson.”

Emma came in the laundry room.

“What did you find out?” I asked her.

“The only thing was a post that said the washer repair man thought it was possible the socks get under the agitator.”

“I don’t think 52 socks would fit.” I looked at Layce. “Can we remove the agitator and check?”

“No, we cannot.”

“How about this, there’s a black hole under everyone’s washer that leads to another Universe where aliens wear all the mismatched socks,” Emma said.

sock

I looked at Emma. “That’s not bad. But why do they want mismatched socks? Why not take a matching set? Is it a fashion statement? Do they think we won’t miss the missing sock? Are they using it as a test of will to see if we will fight for our missing socks? Are they operating on the assumption that if we just accept the sock thing that taking over our planet will be a breeze? And why are so few people interested in this dilemma? I mean if you walked outside and your car was missing one tire wouldn’t you be more invested?”

“I think most people have more important things to think about than where their socks go,” Layce said, as she shut the lid on the washer. I guess that settled the taking the washer apart option.

“That’s how society begins to unravel. It starts with little things,” I said. I peeked behind the dryer.

Emma asked, “Mom, have you seen my Duomo hat?”

I raised my eyebrows and pointed a finger at Layce. “See! It’s starting already. First socks…then hats, then cars, then bank accounts. Who knows where it will end.”

joke

Making the world a happier place—one book at a time.

Available Feb. 5th!

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