Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Off-Topic: Problems in the Industry

I'm not sure if I'm ever going to make this viewable to the public, but I need to write this myself.

About a year ago, I met a creator. I don't know how he found me, but he sent me a friend request on Facebook. Since I accept most creator requests, I accepted his. He seemed nice at first. Friendly, wanting to learn about the industry.

He asked if I'd edit/proof a story for one of his upcoming comics. At that point, I was building up my business and was happy to do it for him. I misunderstood what he was asking and only ended up charging him $10 for the piece. I did attempt to tell him that wasn't my normal rate, but he pointed out where I said it, so I did the piece for that amount.

As soon as he sent it to me, the barrage of when will it be done started. I gave him a date and the head's up that I would be going out of town, but was taking my laptop with me so there wouldn't be any delay in making the deadline that I had set. Then, while I was gone, I went quiet for a couple of days. I was driving and then spending time with my partner. I logged into Facebook one day, actually to send him the file, to find messages from him demanding that I give him a refund and that this just wasn't going to work out. I pointed out to him that my terms clearly state that half of my fee is nonrefundable if the client cancels. These were terms that he had agreed to. I also told him that I wasn't going to argue with him over $5 and he had the choice, accept the file or be out the funds. I wasn't playing games. He accepted the file, apologized for his behavior, and I thought that was that. I should have known better.

After that, he contacted me almost daily. He talked about other projects that he wanted me to work on. He sent me daily memes, selfies, and other pictures. It was a lot, but I figured he was just someone who was lacking a social life and needed some attention. I'm online a lot so it's not a big deal. Then, he bought a silver tea set at a garage sale and offered to sell it to me for the $4 that he had paid for it. I was interested and suggest that we meet up halfway since he only lives two hours from me. I think that's when the sexual harassment started. At least, that's the first incident that I remember. He told me that for it to be worth him driving an hour, we'd need to get a hotel room and stay the night together. I was shocked. He acted like it was some sort of done deal.

At some point, I gave him my phone number. I can't remember why and now I question my sanity. The phone calls started and would last an hour to two hours. The conversations, if you want to call them that, were very one sided. They were all about him, his life, his comics...with suggestions that we table together at a convention. He suggested how we could split the costs and share a bed at a hotel. I put him off at first by reminding him that I didn't have anything to table with. Then, he asked about a show that's about an hour from my house. I usually just drive in for that one versus getting a hotel. I told him that. He made it very clear that he thought he could stay at my house, share my bed and my body, and then we could drive in together. I told him that there are 2 bedrooms in this house, mine and my children's, so there'd be nowhere for him to sleep.

There were other conversations where he'd made comments like this...Well, when we get together, I'm going to show you just how good I am...and things like that. Eventually, he got the hint that I wasn't interested but the damage was done. I was completely skeeved out. (Is that a word still?)

During all of this, he asked me repeatedly to take a look at another series that he was writing. I told him repeatedly that people usually pay me for my work. In the end, I agreed to look over issue 1. I was running a deal for indie creators that I'd look over one issue for free (early covid). He sent me five issues. He also told me that he'd give me $100 out of his stimulus check if I'd look them over. I told him that I'd do an initial go over, but that was it. I usually charge more than that per issue. He agreed but then the harassment started again. When was I going to do them? How soon? This was a daily occurrence. I finally gave him a date and told him not to ask me again. He apologized and agreed. The next day he asked me again. Once I sent them back, I thought it would stop. It didn't. He looked over my notes, made some changes, and sent me the files again.  I asked him why. He said because he wanted me to be the editor all the way through. I reminded him that he'd have to pay me. He said he didn't have the money, but we could work something out. He could cover a con table for the both of us, he could give me ad space in his book, or he could work it out in the bedroom (I'm prettying up what he said). I refused to work any further on his books.

I should mention that this creator has wild mood swings. I more than once suggested that he see a doctor or a therapist. He told me that he'd never lasted more than six months with any therapist, that they'd kicked him to the curb after that long and that they all told him the same thing. Again, red flag, but being me, I wanted to be nice and kind so I just did what I could to try to help him. Except, that never worked. Whenever he'd come to me, upset with someone, or threatening to kill himself, he'd get "attacky" the second I said anything. He'd come after me. He was aggressive and mean. He'd never apologize, just come back later (sometimes an hour, sometimes a day) and act as if nothing had happened. I called him out on it. I told him I wasn't going to be his personal whipping post. The last time it happened, I told him if it happened again, I wouldn't talk to him for at least 30 days. It didn't matter.

Then, my depression happened and I didn't speak to anyone for a week. He continued to send me messages that I never even opened. It wasn't just him. It was everyone. I was numb, I couldn't function. It was bad. When I finally started to pull out of it, I opened his messages. They were all memes and pictures of his nature walks. I replied that the one had made me chuckle. He replied that he had unfriended me, had no intention of talking about it, and eventually said something along the lines of how I'd been kind to him, so he was being kind to me. It made no sense then. It makes no sense now. He also told me that we weren't compatible to work with, even though I was a good editor. He assured me that I would get credit on the books that I had worked on.

I walked away. I honestly didn't care. I was happy to have that stress out of my life. Then, yesterday happened. I went to the mail box and pulled out a crumpled envelope that held a mangled comic. It was the copy that I had bought on his Kickstarter. I put pictures on my Facebook page (friends only of which he isn't one because he removed himself) asking creators to please take better care in their packaging. I sent the pictures to a friend of mine in the industry who has dealt with this creator. That night, I ended up on his show. My intent was again to ask creators to take better care. There were others on the panel that have had to deal with the creator, and they pretty much lambasted him. I could only speak to what I know and I can guarantee that I was never cruel or mean in anything that I said. Somehow though, this creator was in the audience even though he had unfriended and/or blocked all of us on the panel. He sent me a private message on Facebook:

"A normal person would have messaged the sender if the package was damaged. Guess your not a normal person are you? If you want a replacement all you have to do is ask. Sigh you truly do love the spotlight don't you?

I do look forward to hearing about these private messages being made public. I truly do appreciate all these free advertising you have given me."

I waited a couple of hours in the hopes that I would calm down, but the more I read it, the more annoyed that I got. This man had spent a year harassing me and then tried to make himself the victim in all of this. It was really par for the course with him, but I'd had enough and sent him back a message:

"Am I normal person? Fuck no. I'm a god damn amazing person. I work hard and it's paying off. I treat people with respect. I don't make little jabs or comments. I'm glad you're looking forward to things being made public because I have absolutely no reason to coddle you. It's time you grow the fuck up and take responsibility and act like a professional instead of burning bridges with every professional who tries to help you.

As for the book, send me a new copy. While you're at it, send me the comp copy that you owe me per our agreement. If you need to see the agreement again, it's on my website:

Now, I have nothing more to say to you because I told you before that I wasn't going to put up with your abuse. I know 5 year olds with more respect and manners than you have."

I was done. I'd had enough. I stood up for myself. He couldn't leave it alone though and came back:

"You talk of respect and then slander my name. It's you who need to grow up.

I'm done playing your childish games. I'm done giving in to your wanton demands for attention. Go on the warpath. Please. do. It will be fruitless for you and extreamly fruitful for you.

You wanna know what I will do? Absoultly nothing. I got comics to make.

Also, best of luck in your career. I hope it is long and fruitful."

I thought that was the end of it. I'd made it clear that I had nothing more to say on the topic and I didn't respond to his messages. Then, he did what he does. He waited 90 minutes until he thought I'd be asleep (I'd had to ask him numerous times not to message me at 2, 3, or 4 in the morning). Then, he sent me this:

"I'll send your single replacement book in the next few days. Per my statement.

Next time message a creator before choosing the nuclear option. It's like child having a tantrum when they do not get their way.

Also I agreed to any terms. Nothing was signed and you never mentioned it till now so good luck.

I never agreed to any of your terms. The above message was a typo."

He agreed to my terms. He agreed to them when I did his 10 page story. There isn't a single client that I have that I have not sent to that page and asked them to read it over. It actually states on the page that by hiring me, you agree to these terms. Is this a legal contract? Debatable. Do I care that he's not going to follow through? Honestly? No. I don't need his book in my house. I don't need to prove to anyone that I'm good at what I do. I have a client list full of happy people who recommend me to other people.

So is there a moral to this story? Sure...if someone is shooting up red flags and acting like a crazy person, don't back away. Move away as quickly as possible. I'm not going to lie. There is a tiny part of me that's nervous that he knows where I live.  After all, I had to give Kickstarter my shipping address and he sent the package here. I wonder now if watching me deal with this guy is why my son insisted on installing a door knob on my front door that actually locks. I know that both of my boys would ask me to ignore his calls because in their words, "he's annoying and nuts". I like to think that I'm one of the nicest people you'll ever meet, but even nice has its limits. This industry has too many problems with people thinking they can do whatever they want and there being no consequences. I've watched other women speak out. Maybe it's time that I do too. This creator is small. He's got one book out there, but that doesn't matter. He's going to be at shows. He's going to approach other women. I don't want them to have to deal with that.

Now, have I left things out? Probably, though not intentionally. Do I have screenshots of all of this? I could except my time is really better spent working on projects for clients who matter. I should mention that this man blocked me after his last petty volley. I have no intention of attempting to reach out to him. He's beyond help and I'm beyond done. Do you hear me, Nick Gibson? I'm done.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Weekly Update: Monday again?

For whatever reason, I lost track of what day it was and could have sworn that today was Sunday. Turns out that I was wrong...ahh well...I guess that's what happens when your daily routine is so...routine.

I don't really have any grand updates for today. Work is going well. I have 4 books on my desk right now. I'll finish one of them tomorrow. I'm really glad that people are coming to me with their work. I love what I do, even when it's hard for my brain to do it. It's also allowed for me to have a bit more financial freedom. I've been able to keep gas in my car and even splurge by going out for breakfast once in a while. This past weekend it allowed me to buy 9 books from a series that I love and have wanted to own since I was a child. When the owner offered to sell them to me at below what she could get, I wanted to hug her.

Next week, my book comes out and I have to admit that I'm nervous. What if nobody buys it? I so hope that people buy it. I put so much of myself into it. It means so much to me as a writer and as a mom. I've already said I'll have the next book out by December, but it's going to drag me down if this one doesn't sell. I'm not expecting best seller, but I have a dream of selling 100 copies. The ebook is available on pre-order now. I need to remember to order the author copies that I want to give to my illustrator and a few other people. I wish I could give one to Rob, but he's still not talking to me. It still hurts, a year later, that I lost my best friend. I think of him constantly. All I can do though is keep moving forward the best that I can.

Speaking of moving forward, the kickstarter is edging closer to funded. It still has a long ways to go and I'm nervous that it won't fund. Nick takes it so personally when they don't. I need to come up with some creative ways to spread the word and hopefully get some more eyes on it. I'm not really good at that sort of thing, but I do need to try. Tristan and the gang are like my own characters. I've been with them so long and their story deserves to be told. I already pledged so I hope others do too.

All of this promoting, combined with the weather, and who knows what else still has me totally exhausted. I sleep for at least 12 hours and then often take a 3 hour nap. It's frustrating and I wish I knew why I was bone tired all the dang time. I have no energy for anything. There's lots to do but I'm just not doing it. I'm forcing myself to do a podcast here in a bit to try to promote some more. Did I mention that I'm not good at promoting? I do it because Nick doesn't do podcasts and neither does Veronica so far as I can tell. I somehow became the mouthpiece for the group. Plus, nobody else is promoting my book so someone has to do it.

I guess that's it for this week. I did notice that the number of folks reading here has dropped and that makes me the tiniest bit sad but I'm so thankful to those of you who come back week after week to check in with me and see what's up. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time and take care of yourselves.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Weekly Update: So Tired

I don't know what's wrong with me. I don't know if it's depression or what.  All I do is sleep. Like last night I went to bed around midnight and finally dragged myself out of bed at 1:30pm. I'm writing this 45 minutes later and all I want to do is lay down and go back to sleep. I don't feel particularly down but this is where I am.

I guess I am a little bit overwhelmed. I've reached another stage of everything is breaking. My kitchen floor has dangerous soft spots that we've blocked off with boxes so people don't step there. My couch has developed a hole that sucks the cushion right in. If that's not enough, yesterday, at some point, the front fell off of the air conditioner in my bedroom and snapped off one of the knobs. Now, don't get me wrong, none of these are to the dire stage and they can be handled. It's just a lot to happen all at once, I guess.

Have I mentioned that I'm tired? Ugh. It's actually really annoying. There are things that need doing and I just don't have the energy to even attempt them. Starting today, I'm going to make sure that I'm in bed by midnight. Maybe having a set bedtime will help me regulate things. I honestly don't know.

Being this tired is affecting everything, like writing this post. I have no idea really what to write because all I can think is how I want to just lay down and nap. It's crazy. I know that my body does not require this much sleep. I can only guess that it's some kind of depression because when Roger was here I didn't have this much trouble staying awake. Sure, I was tired, but not to the point of being zombie like.

I guess I'm going to give up on writing this post. Nothing major has happened within the last week except us launching our Kickstarter for the last part of Awakenings. That for sure has added to my feeling of being overwhelmed. My own book comes out in about two weeks and I'm not promoting it at all because I'm promoting the KS. I wish Nick hadn't chosen to overlap them. A small part of me is upset with him because he knew my release date and went ahead. No use dwelling on it though. It is what it is and hopefully we'll fund soon so I can stop thinking about both at the same time.

For now though...I'm going to go post about the Kickstarter and how awesome of a book it is. (It really is.) Take care of you and each other.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Weekly Update: The Evening Edition

Well, it's Monday again. They seem to come so fast. I swear it was just Monday a day or so ago and here it is again. Things are better. I wouldn't say 100% but it only feels half weird to smile now. That's progress. I'm doing well enough that I can work again which is a relief. It was terrible to look at a manuscript and suddenly feel as if I had no idea what I was doing. I ended up going over one book twice and was horrified by the number of things I'd missed when things were at their worst. Now, I'm back on top with that and I've been blessed to have a number of projects come in. I'm currently booked until the end of the month which is super exciting.

My house, on the other hand, is not top of the world. When things were bad, I let things slide. It's amazing how far things can slide in as short of a time as just a couple of weeks. Roger will be here on Wednesday so I'm going to have him take out some trash that I've put together and get the can out to the road for Thursday's pick up. That should help some. I haven't seen him in a couple of weeks so it will be nice to have him here. Plus, the weather isn't supposed to be atrocious so he won't melt in his bedroom. If it gets bad, I'll give him my room with the a/c unit and sleep on the couch.

As for his brother, he's still working a lot of hours. He also just registered for his first college class. I'm nervous about it, but I know he'll work hard. Today he also started physical therapy. For those that don't know, he has cerebral palsy and it affects his muscles and tendons quite a bit. He's gotten really tight and has weakness in certain areas. Since today was his first appointment, he asked me to go with him to fill out/explain the paperwork for him. He wanted to make sure they'd be able to read it. The appointment was mostly an assessment and he was sent home with stretches to do each day. I really hope that it helps him. I want him to have things as easy as he possibly can. Starting the first week of July, he'll be going twice a week.

I guess that just leaves me. I have a few books that I want to get started on this week. I'd also like to get at least one room whipped back into shape. I'm co-hosting a show on YouTube tomorrow night. I also need to grocery shop and there's been a request for me to do a "State of the Walmart" address after. My book comes out in a few weeks so I need to promote that. Nick is launching a new kickstarter for Awakenings this week so I'll be promoting that too. And my favorite thing? My new drawers for Lego sorting should be here tomorrow so I can finish sorting out the Lego that I bought over the weekend at a garage sale.

Other than that? A shower would be nice....and trying to forget that my uncle's funeral is tomorrow.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Weekly Update: Numb

Have you ever seen those commercials for Bipolar medication where they talk about how bipolar depression is different? That it can leave a person feeling numb? That's where I've spent most of the past week. Absolutely numb. I don't seem to feel joy, sadness, anything. I've either slept or laid on the couch watching tv. I've not been on social media...and the only ones to notice? My kids. Both have texted or called to see what's up. Nobody else has reached out. If I were feeling anything, that would bother me.

On Friday, I found out that my uncle died. The one that I actually liked until he broke his word to me. I know I should feel something, but I don't. Even if I could, I'd have mixed feelings. The one thing that broke through the numb was the anxiety of attending his funeral. I won't be going. I might send flowers. After all, I'm not a heartless bitch. Not that I owe any of them anything. I don't.

Have you ever wanted to smile but it felt wrong or unnatural? I'm dealing with that too. I watched react videos last night and I'd have these little tugs of smiles but they were mere flashes. They felt uncomfortable.

On top of everything, I ran out of grocery money two weeks ago. That's what I get for shopping like a normal person and not someone poor as hell. I managed to stretch things out until the end of the week but since then I've been eating one meal a day and mostly because I make myself go and pick something up. Subways 2 for 1 subs have come in handy. I'm spending money I shouldn't but it's that or starve. The grocery store is 15 miles away and I need gas in my car. Again, I feel like I should feel something about this...worry...something...but I don't. It's just four more days until I have grocery funds again. I had 3 oreos (found a package in my car that I forgot I bought for the boys) and some water for breakfast.

I should work today. I made a to do list yesterday, but the reality is that there's not much point. I'd end up redoing it all anyway. Honestly, just turning on my laptop felt like a big deal today. I don't really want to be behind it. I want to just lay down again. If my bladder didn't insist, I don't know that I'd get out of bed. I guess it's good that I have no desire to wet the bed...I care about that much.

Sleep is hard at night. My brain relives every bad thing that it can think of. They don't hurt...because I'm numb, but it's hard to sleep. The past couple of nights it's been how the three men that I've loved most in my life all moved on and are with other women. They're all happy. I'd think about the happy times and then the moments when they'd betrayed me. It's an ugly place inside my head. Maybe that's why I then sleep during the day...often until 4pm or later. I'm protecting myself from myself.

Anyway, I wish I had better things to say, but the reality is that I'm not sure why I'm writing this other than to force some normalcy into my world. Everything became just too much and I feel wrapped up in cotton wool...perhaps just trying to block out the outside world.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Weekly Update: Better

I can't believe that it's Monday again. I look back over the past week and it seems like nothing happened...maybe that's what's caused the days to blend together. Maybe I should rephrase that. So much has been happening in the US and around the world. Not much has happened in my personal sphere.

I don't really want to get into the country's events. I'll just say that they've horrified me and overwhelmed me. I can't wrap my brain or my heart around what I'm seeing. I don't understand how anyone could treat others with less than dignity and respect. Even living in the middle of nowhere, it's affected me and those around me. My children see it happening and are equally horrified. I have to explain to my special needs son what's happening in a way that he can understand. It's a scary time and I encourage you to stand up, be heard, but also, please be as safe as you possibly can.

As for personally? Let's see...last Tuesday Ben and I went to see his orthotist who repaired his afos for him. So, after probably four to five months, he's back wearing those. He starts physical therapy later this month and I truly hope that it helps him. His muscles have tightened up and he really needs for them to loosen up some.

Wow...was my week really that dead? I worked on a new client's book. It was tougher than usual because the humidity and everything going on was just sucking the focus out of me. The village decided to replace all the drain pipes on my block so that was fun. For a couple of days I had an 8' trench in front of my house and across my driveway. Today they were out packing down the dirt and it's so dry that I honestly went outside concerned that something was on fire. Turns out it was just the dust clouds.

Oh! Something good...I did an interview yesterday and while I have no idea how many people were tuned in, I had a good time and plan to do another one next month just 9 days before my book releases. Speaking of that, in August, I might have an in-store reading/signing. Someone that I know is opening a pop culture collectible store front and he'd like me to come out. I'm a bit concerned with the up front costs involved (table covering, books, print outs, crayons, etc) but I have to dive in at some point and take advantage of every opportunity that comes along. My goal is to do library readings, check into bookstores in the area, and eventually start doing conventions. I have friends who want to table near me which will be fun...of course, none of them are local. Still, what better reason to travel then to spend time with friends and sell a few books along the way?

I guess that's it, guys. I know that this wasn't an exciting update, but it really was a dull yet overwhelming week. The highlight (other than the interview) was taking an afternoon and doing nothing more than building Lego. I could spend a lot of days doing that...

So, for now, take care of yourselves and each other. Stand up for the good and don't tolerate the bad. Wear your masks, wash your hands, and be safe....

Monday, June 1, 2020

Weekly Update: Rollercoaster Ride

My god, what a week this past week has been. What a mess our country is. I'm not going to get into all of that because my god, how do you begin to unwrap that? Other than...stop being assholes, people. We all have a right to be who we are and what we are. That's that. Let's try to unwrap my week...

I spent a lot of last week trying not to melt in the humidity that comes with summer around here. Yep, I know, it was/is still spring, but it didn't feel like it. It felt like we just plain skipped over spring. Wearing a mask was miserable, but I did it anyway. Also, I'm happy to report that my almost panic attacks while wearing the mask have lessened. Maybe it's like some sort of forced therapy. Either way, I'd rather wear it than not.

The big news from this past week was that I received the proof copy of my book. I've never been so excited/nervous at the same time, I don't think. Opening it was like ...Christmas morning. I was nervous that it'd be a mess, but it was beautiful. All of the images were in the right spot and look amazing. My friend, Eric, did such an amazing job with them. I actually did a livestream of me opening the package and showing it off. That was fun. Quite a few people popped in and everyone seems to be really excited for me. I hope they're that excited for the book too.

Bonus for the week was that Ben was able to spend the weekend here. We were mostly lazy, but I did get more of my studio done and tackled some of a new client's project. I also got my plants into planters. I didn't buy a lot this year simply because finances won't allow it and Walmart is pretty slim pickings. Still, I have 3 tomato plants (one might not make it. It's pretty sad looking.), a planter with some flowers in it, 2 types of thyme and a sage plant. I may try to dig out the flower bed along the side of the house and see about planting some tulips or something there in the fall. All of the beds are a total disaster and half of my tire planters have trees in them now. I'm not sure what to do about that. It'll probably require hiring a professional to come and take them out. Ick.

Now, on the downside for the week...Well, y'all know what's happened and I won't rehash it. I will say though that it has my anxiety spiking really high. It's hard to sleep because my brain gets in a loop of what ifs. Last night I didn't sleep worth anything and then was woken up around 7:30am because they were working on something out in front of my house. I have no idea what. They're going to be digging up the drain pipe and clearing it out, but I'm in the middle of the block so it makes no sense to start there. Either way, they were loud enough that I didn't get to go back to sleep when I badly needed it. Just have to keep on pressing on, I guess.

Roger will be here soon and I'd like to be about done with work when he gets here, so time for me to sign off for now! If, on the off chance, you'd like to check out my book, there's a pre-order for the ebook up on Amazon now. That and the print version will release on July 14th (which happens to be my anniversary).

As always, talk to me if you need an ear...mine are available...

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