PhD and the many meanings behind one little degree

Pretty High Debt = My PhD
There are so many benefits to pursuing higher education. I get it. I’m an advocate for it. I just wish that I didn’t have my sights set so high and that the loan rates weren’t so low. During the times I was between jobs and between paychecks, loan money helped pay for books and bills. I know that is what it is supposed to do. Once I get this degree I am supposed to find this lucrative job that will enable me to pay all that money back. Maybe I will, but in case no one has seen the news lately, there is a real crisis in the job market these days.
I know. I have competed with people who already have a PhD for a job that required a bachelor’s. Yes, education is taking those hits too.
My journey to this degree is at the last stages. I have to complete my dissertation and I then have to defend it. Once that is over, I will have the Potentially Hirable Degree (PhD). It’s all really wild when I consider what I really want to do is teach in the English department full-time at a community college or university in Southern California.
I enjoy being in a classroom and empowering students with the gift of words and language. We really take for granted how amazing it is to have freedom of speech, to disagree or agree with one another and find ways of communicating that without violence. That is the power of words. Language incites violence sometimes, but often words are able to subdue rage or prevent events.
These words are simply meant to admit that I have this last part of this degree to finish and I am struggling with it. I am frustrated with it. I would really like for it to be over. I feel like I am in some odd world of literary hazing where people who already have this degree find ways of making me feel like I know less at this point than I did when I started the program. I just know that too much time and money has been invested. Whether the job stays the same or becomes a dream come true for me, that Potential Heart Disorder (PhD) is going to be achieved.
PhD, it is a lot more than just a degree.

Cara

Book Pirates and Me

I know there isn’t a lot I can do about book pirates and the theft of my e-books. I have tried to use digital rights management. I have limited the places I make the books for sale. All it has done is make me more angry, frustrated, and confused.

I’m pissed because these people don’t really like books or authors. They obviously don’t care that my income from my books supplements my income as an adjunct teacher. I need my sales. Not to buy bon-bons and bubble bath either. I need my royalties to my bills.

I’m confused because I don’t know if the pirates are being intentionally cruel to people or if hey are just ignorant. Maybe they don’t realize that not every book published is rolling millions of dollars towards the authors. I won’t be paying off my student loans any time soon with my royalties, and if people keep stealing my books it will take even longer!

I have heard the argument from all sides and I have tried to talk myself into just ignoring it. I can’t. I really feel like jay and Silent Bob in that movie. I want to print off all of their addresses and go to their houses and kick their asses. At least the people in that movie wrote a review. People stealing my books aren’t even doing me that favor. I mean if you’re going to fuck me in the ass, at least give a reach around, right?

Hence the frustration. At this point there isn’t much I can do about it but call people out by name and hope that someone somewhere in the chain of online communication will judge them. I mean it would be the best kind of Karma for their kids to grow up to be writers and have other people steal their work. Then they can cry to mommy and daddy and they can say, oh dear, it’s okay, I used to steal from authors all the time.  However, they wouldn’t think it was okay if it was their work or the work of their family.

I mean sure, everyone is entitled to my work for free. I mean they pad for the cover art, they sat hours and hours in a chair writing the book in the first place. They paid for an editor. Oh wait, they didn’t? Huh?  That was me? Oh, well then….why the fuck does anyone think it is okay to pirate my work?

The sites that allow this to happen make it damn near impossible to just tell them to remove the link. They know what is taking place at their websites. They turn a blind eye to it. I have to hope these people will eventually get a moral bone in their body and stop this nonsense. I mean I argued forever that e-books should be affordable, they should not cost a lot of money. I now know why they are selling at 8 and 12 bucks. They have to in order to compensate for the losses.

Then there are those who say that those people reading it online for free wouldn’t have bought it anyways. Fine, they wouldn’t have read it either. I don’t want thieves to read my work. I’d rather never sell another book in my life than to look at a site and see that my book Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off has had over 10 thousand pirated downloads. I could probably pay a bill with those kind of royalties, so yeah, it hurts, it burns, it angers.

I obviously need to get back into the gym and do some yoga and remember that what goes around comes around and all that peace and harmony stuff. What I really want is for people to take my books down off of their pirated sites. If not, then I really want them to experience it in their life someday soon so that maybe they could be less ignorant, entitled, or whatever it is that makes them feel like they can do this.

Recently these two have contributed to my frustration:

Lief77 at Mobilism not only stole my books but also put a logo on my covers! http://www.mobilism.org/viewtopic.php?f=1292&t=610713&start=0&sid=95c79a51013c3e819f5ee01d8de6a4dc&view=print …

Please ask Ukkin at Scribd to take my book down! http://www.scribd.com/doc/165088437/Get-a-Grip-Hollywood-Nights-North-Cara …

 

Plagiarism and the Industry of Fiction

I felt compelled to write this post regardless of readership due to the amount of current events that have cropped up concerning the issue of plagiarism and fiction. In particular, romance novels. The kind of stuff I write.

                I know the sting of being accused, even in an off-hand way of plagiarizing. On a popular review site, a reader said my book, Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off, was basically ripping off the movie “What Happens In Vegas”. It was pretty upsetting since my book was out well over a year before that movie was even advertised. I realized the person either didn’t read my book, didn’t get past the first chapter of my book, or didn’t watch the movie. I did after that comment because if anyone was being copied, it was me and I wanted to know. Fortunately, the good people of Hollywood had not ripped me off.

                I know the burn of discovering someone has plagiarized, though I encounter that in my life where I go by the name attached to my social security number. I teach at a college and since my students are all old enough to purchase what I write, I use the pseudonym Cara North to keep my worlds somewhat separate. Yes, they do find me, but they seek me out. I don’t push what I write on them. Anyways, when students turn in papers to me they all go through a system called TurnitIn. The program highlights the percentage of the paper that is word for word found elsewhere.

                Now I know that as a contemporary erotic romance author I tend to throw cock around pretty liberally in my books (Not in the BDSM way, in the use it a lot way). I know that there are only so many ways to describe putting a dick in an orifice. Yes, I am sure that if someone ran my book through the plagiarism checker of romance novels (should it exist-hint hint multibillion dollar Amazon) the phrase, “Put his dick in her mouth” or “Put his cock in her ass” will pop up the same as in a bunch of other books.

                I get that. As a professor, I don’t sweat the small stuff. There is only so many ways a student can phrase certain things and yes, someone has likely said it before. I had one student freak out because he discovered his sentence was used on a public blog somewhere two days before he submitted the paper. Yes, they can also see the report if they choose to. I told him I wasn’t concerned and no one else would be either. I look for a high percentage rate. I look for complete paragraphs or passages copied from other papers, websites, etc.  If more than 20% pops up, I know I need to look at this student’s paper closer and possibly have a talk with them to make sure they understand.

                As fiction writers, there is no excuse for it. We are all essentially telling the same story. “Boy meets girl, or boy meets boy, or girl meets boy, or girl meets wolf pack, whatever gender/species/amount of partners you are into in to, said person loses said partner(s), and then gets said partner(s) back. The loss isn’t always a physical one, sometimes it is emotional uncertainty. Any at rate, it is the oldest story and we all draw from it. What makes our books different is our own unique blend of weaving this tale. We draw from the familiar and the unfamiliar.

                I once had a conversation with a beloved author who said she had one of those “oh crap” moments of is this mine or is this someone else’s? She didn’t copy it from that author, but once she re-read her book she remembered a similar scenario in something she had read. She said she spent a good amount of time tracking down that original book to ensure she had not repeated the scene by *gasp* accident! She hadn’t. When she found it the only element that was the same was the scenario regarding the heroine cutting her hair. I am sure some of you who write might be doing the *gasp* right now because you may have written a scene that has a scenario involving someone cutting their hair and someone else reacting to it. Sheesh, that never happens in life, right? We all know there is a time to worry, and a time to realize that some things are going to happen in multiple books just like it happens in multiple real lives.

                If we aren’t talking about these minor issues that make us authors sweat, but go virtually unnoticed by everyone else in the universe, what are we talking about?   Are we talking about the precedent set by fan fiction authors who have been picked up and published by major publishers? How does that work exactly? I don’t know. Is there a percentage of a book that needs to be original? I don’t read fan fiction. I have not read the 50 Shades series because I think it is a dangerous precedent for publishers. I would like more explanation on the reasoning behind it. After all, if anyone remembers the Meg Cabot issue (I kept the article for my classroom purposes; here is a link to it on Wikipedia) that was big news and published in newspapers around the world. Now, what? Are fan fiction books different? I don’t understand.

                Then there are the copy and paste plagiarists. That’s right, copy and paste. These authors don’t have the time or decency to go through and change more than a name. This has been the issue as of late. Within the past month I have read three different bouts of crazy stemming from copy and paste authors. I’m not going to link them, you can Google it, or log in to Twitter or Facebook and read. These are the one we tend to be most concerned with because not all of the plagiarism is happening to “big name” authors with “big name” publishers who can afford “big” lawyers.

                Not that anyone seems to need them. Social Justice is apparently working to get these people to remove the books, and sometimes remove entire websites. Social justice is not always right. There is recently a review posted on Amazon accusing an author of plagiarizing. There is a plagiarism case with concern to the book. However, the author getting the blame was the one being plagiarized. This becomes the problem. Who did what first in the eyes of the reader? I go back to my own example. I am sure that girl saw the movie and then picked up my book. She never looked at the copyright date. Certainly, she didn’t know about the two years prior to that when it was being work-shopped in my critique group or in line at a publishing house prior to release.

                Readers don’t care about copyright dates. I know I didn’t prior to becoming an author. I know I had a student tell me that The Vampire Diaries ripped of Twilight. I asked her to bring both copies of the book to class the next meeting. I showed her the copyright page. She was blown away by the timeline. See, readers are going to read in the same genre. So it doesn’t make sense to me. If these people are ripping off an author and putting it up, who do they think is going to buy the book? Probably the people who read the author they just ripped off because that is the type of book they like to read!

                Fear not! Romance readers tend to read across the genres, so they can’t just change a name, race, or species and copy and paste either. It will come out. The question is, can we prevent it from happening in the first place, or at least reduce the amount of occurrences? I propose Amazon invest some of the money they are making from all of this e-publishing in a program like TurnitIn. They can take my approach, pick a percentage rate for matching words that indicated a pull for review prior to publishing, and then they can spot check minor issues or eliminate them from the search.  With the amount of erotic romance pumping through the electronic veins it might be prudent to eliminate the “Fuck me!” phrase from the da
tabase of matching words and phrases.

                Sure, it might take longer for my books to go up and be available to the public, but I would rather wait a day or two for it to go through that system than to lose sales to people who are not even writing their own work. Yes, it is that serious of an issue. Every time someone pulls this shit, we all pay for it. Readers get anxious about trying new people. Authors get anxious about letting out advance review copies. Consumers of every genre get pissed because they spent their hard earned money on something they already read.

                We can’t copyright ideas. Some things are going to be phrased the same no matter the genre. We can be grateful for those people out there bringing this to light. Reviewers and avid readers are the number one source of policing this phenomenon. It is a heavy burden and does not come without its own cost. Those people who do not believe their author/friend/family would do such a thing retaliate. Social media makes it complicated as we have seen when people have attacked or killed “suspects” because they got the wrong “Jane Doe” with the same name as the real perpetrator. To my knowledge no one has gone that far over romance novels, but there is a fine line between calling someone to the floor for something they did and bullying.  Professionalism is required for anyone to be taken seriously when revealing something like this. It is a legal issue. People cannot control their reader’s behavior, but they should be clear not to endorse the hateful behavior of rabid fan-girls/boys.

                In a society where celebrities have to lobby for years to get to use their own name on social media, is it any surprise we have to deal with copy and paste plagiarists in publishing? Our society has become accustomed to a certain amount of plagiaristic behavior. The publishing industry giants are bringing some of this on all of us in the industry by not clarifying the boundaries of fan fiction being published. This might prevent new authors, often without knowledge of all this, from thinking it is okay to pattern and pull from another book.

                I say inexperienced authors because I struggle with accepting that seasoned authors would do this. From my personal point of view, not endorsed by anyone, some ways a new author can avoid these temptations or coincidences include:

  1. Stop reading within your genre. I don’t care what people tell you! I only read contemporary when I am not writing because I fear the subconscious phase that might leak out. This means I might rad one book a year and it is usually by one of three authors.  
  2. Get a reader group. You don’t have to get a peer group of other authors to edit you. It works best if you have a group of avid readers review your work. They will point this stuff out in a “Simpsons Did It” (courtesy of South Park) way before it gets to an editor to correct commas and spelling.
  3. Remember that every author raking in the big money was once a person starting out and writing an average, okay, or crappy story to get published. You wouldn’t steal from that book, so don’t seal from one they finally made it with either.
  4. Remember that writes are usually unstable, at least I am, and these books are kinda like our word babies. If you wouldn’t want me to come take an arm off your toddler, then I don’t want you to take a paragraph out of my book. It is hard enough when people tell me they don’t like it (aka your child is really ugly). It is so rewarding when they do (aka this child is going to do well in life). I can’t imagine how it must feel to find out someone stole a few parts of a book (aka I took out your child’s heart and kidney while you were sleeping). So don’t do it. It takes nine months to grow a baby and then you have the rest of your life as that child’s parent. It can take weeks to years to grow a book and as long as it is published it will likely outlive you.

Authors After Dark (AAD) 2013 Raffle!

Authors After Dark (AAD) 2013 is just around the corner, and so many people are excited about the event (especially us, the authors)!
We thought we would do something awesome to get one lucky winner to the event while we are also spreading the word about our sexy little books!
 
The six of us, TJ, Amanda, Cara, Stella, Saranna and Eliza decided to do something that has not been done before!
Stella thought, “Why not do a huge raffle with a freaking awesome prize?”
We thought one paid registration and a room free of charge for a lucky winner was a freaking awesome prize.
So we said, “Why not? Let’s pool our resources and make this happen!”
 
Here is the RAFFLE:
From the 17-22nd of JUNE, readers will have the opportunity to win their way into AAD! For that time frame, each author will have ONE SPECIFIC BOOK, normally at 2.99 or higher at 99 cents. All you have to do, is BUY THE BOOKS and send proof of purchase. That’s it. This is how entries work:
 
1. Buy the book (s) between the designated dates.
2. Send your receipt/ confirmation email to everversestella@gmail.com with the words BIG HUGE GIVEAWAY ENTRY in the subject line.
 3. Go to the AAD Website and fill in the raffle copter for each book.
* EACH BOOK WILL GET YOU 1 ENTRY.  That’s 6 entries, and 6 books. All for 6 bucks. NOT BAD. This works exactly like a Raffle does for your local rotary club or the boy scout TV’s… Buying the books is your tickets (only cheaper!)
 
There will be other ways to get extra entries to improve your chances on the raffle copter that will come available once you do the initial entry so be sure to add the everversestella@gmail.com address to your address book so you do not miss out!
 
Winner will be announced on the 24th on the AAD blog and on the AAD FB page, as well as by direct email!
 
NOW… the fine print: Winner pays their own transportation and any gratuities, taxes, and room service on the room. This prize cannot be transferred and MUST be used for the 2013 convention year. This prize has NO CASH VALUE and cannot be turned in for monetary compensation.
 
And guess what else you win on top of the AWESOME Grand Prize?
 
How about entry to a special invite only party? Yep. And some other hotel goodies!
 
Now you probably wanna know what books will be 99 cents right? WellNow you probably wanna know what books will be 99 cents right? Well…

So what are the books you need to buy to get the Max (30)
entries for the books?

Entwined By Fate by S. A. Price http://www.amazon.com/Entwined-Fate-S-A-Price/dp/1607670771
The Blood and the Vow by Saranna DeWylde http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Order-Lazarus-Book-ebook/dp/B00AWJMPW0/
Lucas by Eliza Gayle http://www.amazon.com/paranormal-romance-shapeshifter-fantasy-ebook/dp/B004DL0N9U
Naughty Nibbles Anthology by Cara North http://www.amazon.com/Naughty-Nibbles-Erotic-Stories-ebook/dp/B00BA1EL5S
Sexy Shifters Box Set by Amanda Bonilla http://www.amazon.com/The-Sexy-Shifter-Shorts-ebook/dp/B00D8G5EWC
Jaguar’s Rule by TJ Michaels http://www.amazon.com/Jaguars-Rule-ebook/dp/B006RMR4WM
RULES: All book Receipts must be sent to everversestella@gmail.com With the
Subject: AAD PACKAGE ENTRY (NAME OF BOOK).
All books must be bought between June 17 and June 22nd.
(We cannot accept any previously bought work)
Now the fine Print: Winner pays their own transportation and
any gratuities, taxes and room service on the room. This prize cannot be
transferred and MUST be used for the 2013 convention year. This prize has NO
CASH VALUE and cannot be turned in for monetary compensation. In the event that
the winner cannot use the prize, the prize will be awarded to another name on
the list.

GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY READING!

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The Object of My Obsession

 

This is one of my favorite books. I wrote it after I was given two writing challenges. I met both of them. Though I met a challenge, in the revised edition, I do provide an alternative ending per reader request. If you have time, check it out. Then let me know what you think. I am proud of this book. Image

California Dreaming on Such a Winter's Day

When I lived in California I did not appreciate it the way I should have. Yes, I lived in the desert. Yes, it was 3 hours from everything. However, it rarely rained, snowed, or remained cold from morning to night. I miss it. I miss the large mountains, the wildlife, and the ability to go just about anywhere fabulous in 3 hours.

Right now, I am on the East coast. I like being on EST. I feel like I am on the same schedule as most of the people I know.  I no longer awake to phone calls in the wee hours of the morning.

Unfortunately, I have already had the flu once, a head cold, and I can;t seem to kick the allergies brought on by this seasonal change. The weather report: cold, wet, and icky.

I am grateful for my home and my life no matter where I hang my hat. I’m just California dreaming.

Maybe because California became a state on September 9th. Guess who was born that day? Me. Maybe I am meant to be there eventually.

Positive Press

I am considering launching a site for positive press. I mean am I the only one whou would like to hear some good news? I have enough going on in my life, I can’t sit and listen for hours about the disintegration of our social and moral fiber anymore.

 

 

A little bit rusty

It has been a long time since I sat down and wrote out a blog post. I’m not sure any of my readers still bother to check.

I am at a point in life where I can carve out time again. Time for writing, reading, and time for me.

I have a few projects completed and more in the outlined and draft stages.

As for this blog, I’m not exactly sure what I plan to write, only I do plan to write, and often.

Cara