Friday, February 26, 2016

The #FatChick Asks: What's with the #bodyshaming, Cheryl?


I'm sure many of you have heard about the comments from former super model, Cheryl Tiegs concerning the plus sized model who graces the latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Apparently, Ms. Tiegs has earned a medical degree some time in the decades she last graced the cover and feels that Ashley Graham shouldn't be there because she's "not healthy".

Her criteria? Anyone with a waist that's not less than 35 inches isn't healthy. Where did she get that bullsh...information? Dr. Oz of course. And we all know how often Dr. Oz's advice has been shown to be "out there"...at least 80% of the time. 

Let's look at it from another angle. Ms. Tiegs feels she can tell by a photo that Ashley's waist size is not less than 35 inches. If she would have bothered to check her facts, she would have determined that Ashley's waist is actually 30 inches. See all her measurements HERE. So based on her own guidelines (and that of Dr. Oz), Ashley is in fact healthy.

By making her snap judgments, Cheryl has shown her true colors. She's part of the problem in this country. What is it with women attacking other women for their appearance? We finally put a woman with real, HEALTHY curves on a cover of a magazine looking smokin' HAWT in a bikini and she's labeled unhealthy by someone who made a living being flatter chested and stick thin.

Did you see what I did there? Don't let me get away with it. I just body shamed the Cheryl out of anger for her crap about Ashley. It's not acceptable to slam thinner folks either.

I'm not a healthy 49 year old. By medical standards I'm considered morbidly obese. My ideal weight should be around 150 pounds. I used to weigh 350. I've lost 100 pounds but still 100 from my ideal. Ashley's cover is the photo I put up on my fridge as inspiration because I'd "kill" to have her curves.



I'm going to do my best to get there!

~The Fat Chick (aka Tammy)


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tammy's Tidbits: Inspiration, Imitation or Plagiarism? #WWoW #MyWANA



If you've been anywhere on social media over the last week, you've come across the posts concerning the latest round of plagiarism. No one appears safe from it. Sandra Brown is among a group of authors one particular person has plagiarized. What possesses a person to copy another's work and pass it off as their own? Is it laziness? Greed? The fame?

I've thought about this for a long time now ever since an author I'd supported turned into one who had plagiarized a passage from another author on a vampire fan fiction site. It was only one passage, but the fans of the original author were able to find it easily. As someone who has never had to urge to write fan fiction, I wouldn't have known my friend had done this. Reading her work, you could see the heavy influences from True Blood, Vampire Diaries and Twilight--some of it was embarrassingly similar and more than coincidence but not outright plagiarism.

The end result for my friend is she pulled all of her work and left writing. She's left all social media and her blog is now private. Before all of that happened, she was confronted on all retailers. Comments and reviews of her books shamed her and those of us who had supported and helped to promote her releases. Some of the posts were vile, but others were spot on. Stealing another author's work is not only a crime, but the ultimate betrayal by a colleague. I felt bad for my friend, but even worse for the author who's work she copied and said was her own.

There is no way any of us can say we're not inspired by all the books and movies we've enjoyed. It's the reason fan fiction sites have become so popular. There writers can share their ideas of how they see their favorite characters in different situations in and outside the world of their favorite book, TV show or movie. E.L. James took her Twilight fan fiction and created the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Fans of her writing on the website followed her from there and the rest is history.

It's that fame that's fueled some to go from being inspired by another author to stealing their work. Lorelei James had to deal with a person who stole her work and posted it on a fan site as an original story. Entire chapters went up. This person denied the allegations even when presented with proof and the threat of lawsuits from Lorelei and her publisher. 

Becky McGraw had to deal with another author who took her best selling MF romances and changed them to MM. Line by line comparisons showed the outright theft. The readers of MM romances who had supported the author who plagiarized felt betrayed and sick over the whole thing. Come to find out, Becky wasn't the only author the plagiarist had stolen from to create her prolific line of gay romances. 

Why bring up all of this now? It's a warning to all authors to keep ever vigilant and not fall into the trap of copying another's work. Admiring their style and storytelling is one thing, blatant stealing it so you can get a piece of the best selling pie is against the law. Not only can you lose a huge portion if not all of the royalties you earned with the books, you will be blacklisted in the publishing community.

No agent or publisher will want to represent you or your work. No blogger will want to host you or your book. No one will review your work. Go ahead and self publish...the one who ripped off Becky McGraw and others did. Same goes for the one who stole from Sandra Brown.

It's not worth it. 

Last week, another friend of mine was notified that someone in her author support groups had imitated her best selling Wanderlust series. Taglines that had been used for over a year for the series were now showing up in promotions for this "new" sweet romance. The cover and title to the "new" release was nothing like those of my friend's, but enough for others to think it was similar.

The blurb of the "new" story had a heroine from the same city escaping a heartbreaking trauma in her life to find love in an exotic locale. Reading the "new" book I had to laugh. My friend had no worries. While this copycat tried to incorporate the same feel, it's a poor imitation. Instead of creating a different story, the "author" attempted to cash in on my friend's success. While there isn't anything illegal in what this other person has done, her actions haven't gone unnoticed by the others in our same circles. At this point, she's created a target on her back and she's been labeled as untrustworthy.

It's not worth it, people. 

Take the time to create your own world and characters. Sure be inspired by your favorite stories, but don't "borrow" another's tag lines in promotions in order to ride the coattails of their success. Take your characters into new territory and allow readers to enjoy the ride with you.

Until next time

~Tammy






Monday, February 15, 2016

The Vixen Checks Out Kingston WA Fave The Grub Hut #FoodVixen #foodporn


Welcome to the debut of The Vixen's Culinary Escapades! These posts are dedicated to my love affair with food. From creating my masterpieces and old favorites at home, to checking out the local favorites here in the Pacific Northwest, to trying out delicacies around the country—all will be included here.

This started out on my Instagram account where I shared #foodporn photos. They've become quite popular along with the Cooking It Up with Authors feature I started on my sister blogs. I love sharing recipes of my favorite dishes and those of fan favorites. Maybe it's my Midwestern upbringing, but food plays a huge role in my life whether I'm celebrating or trying to hide away from the world.

For my Evil Day Job (EDJ) as a veterinarian, I have to travel every week. Since I'm away from home and without a kitchen to perform my culinary magic, I have to rely on the local restaurants to wow me. This week I'd like to share one place in particular that has bowled me over and knocked my socks off.

Ladies and Gents, I give you THE GRUB HUT in Kingston, WA




Did you watch the video? It's a great introduction to this fabulous place. It's what some would call a cute little hole in the wall as it's not a huge place, but it's packed with everything you'd want in a local favorite. My husband has family who live in the area and The Grub Hut is their go to family burger joint. I'd driven by it multiple times going to and from the Kingston Ferry terminal. I kept saying we had to stop in there and check it out. When we finally did check them out for ourselves, my husband and I immediately fell in love with the place.

They have a huge selection of gourmet burgers, salads, sides and super thick milkshakes and malts. You can substitute any meat patty or chicken breast with a veggie burger if you wish. They also offer gluten free buns. There is something for everyone here and that's just what's listed on the menu. You can mix and match up the sides and have a totally different experience every time.

I discovered their veggie chili on our second visit and now I have that as my side dish instead of fries.

Yes, you read that right. The Fry Queen gladly gives them up for the hot, savory chili. Normally I'm an all meat kind of gal, but the flavors of this chili blend so well together, I don't miss it one bit.

The above photo was our first trip. Hubby chose the Old Fashioned and I got the Bacon Burger. Both are piled high with fixings and wrapped to keep it all in place as you bite into it. That's a must have for me because I'm always dropping half of my food down the front of my shirt if I don't wear a bib. LOL! Both burgers were grilled to perfection: juicy and full of flavor. You can't say that about many burgers out there these days, but here you can rest assured you'll enjoy every bite.

Now if you are one who absolutely needs your fries, be forewarned. A side of fries is a HUGE basket of them that the two of us couldn't finish. It's at least double to triple the amount that is in the above photo that comes with a burger.

This was what I ordered on my second visit. The sandwich is called My Hammy Vice. It's a grilled chicken breast with ham, Swiss cheese, fresh tomato, lettuce, grilled onions and crispy onions, and topped off with their garlic mayo. I'm telling you I was in HEAVEN with this meal. The Grub Hut strives to make sure that you get all the flavors in every bite and they didn't disappoint with this sandwich. Normally I'd leave part of the bun, but not with this one. I licked my fingers clean! LOL

When you first walk in, you can place your order at the counter. If you choose to eat in, you then fill your drinks and find a seat. The Hutters will bring your your food as soon as it's ready. Be warned! This is a popular stop after the ferry unloads so you'll want to get in there as soon as you can. They have menus all over the place so my advice is to pick up a few for your car, purse, or wallet so you can figure out what you want before you walk in there. 

The Grub Hut has a food truck that travels around the area for events. If you can't make it to Kingston but want to get your grub on at your next family get together? Check out their WEBSITE for details on how to get them to cater your event. The food is prepared right there on site. You can't ask for anything better than that!

Go on and give this wonderful joint a try when your in Kingston. If you don't live in Washington, put this place on your MUST DO list when you come to the Pacific Northwest. Who knows? Maybe you'll find me and my husband in or booth scarfing down another bowl of chili and trying out another burger!

"Peace, Love and Grub" ~The Grub Hut

Until next time,

~The Vixen (aka Tammy)




Saturday, February 13, 2016

Cautionary Tale For the Use of Facebook Ads and Boosts from @dochappycamper #WWoW


Welcome to Tammy's Tidbits. This is the feature that morphed from the Writer's Words of Wisdom posts I've done over the last three years. It started out as a group project between four of us that has since fallen by the wayside. All of us have been so busy and have tried to share what we've learned with our fellow authors along the way, but it's been hit or miss. I'm hoping to change that!

If you've been a follower of my WWoW posts, you may recall my advice about trying out Facebook ads and boosted posts. I've shown you that you don't have to go with the recommended budgets that Facebook recommends. In fact, you can choose to boost a post or create an ad or as little as $1/day. With that being said, I've found Facebook isn't so kind to those of us on a tight budget. They don't like give promotional opportunities away for peanuts or free.


Let's face it. Facebook is a business and as such they desire to make money to keep their investors happy. It's why you see so many ads on the sidebars and in your newsfeed. As an author, you too desire to make money. Part of your profits come from what's left over after paying for your editor(s), cover artist, and other fees. Your marketing budget is part of those "other fees" category. Using Facebook and other social media to help promote your work, without being spammy, can be a difficult when faced with the sites in question blocking you from being able to use the ads and boosts.

I write erotic romance and erotica under 5 of my 6 pen names. There's BDSM, LGBT romances and ménage. These topics are not considered "family friendly" according to Facebook guidelines so more often than not, any ad I create will be dismissed because the cover models are showing too much skin, the book promotes "alternate lifestyles that many find offensive" or...get this...the ad has too many words relative to the photo and other elements in the ad.

*blink blink*

Yes, you did just read that. Too many words will get you into trouble as much as too much skin. I've been able to get around most of this by choosing images that feature models with clothes on or objects that can pass by as "non offensive". Unfortunately, my House of Taboo page for my pen name Lia Michaels is BANNED from being able to do any ads simply because of the "promoting alternate lifestyles" bullshit Facebook rule.

I let that go because I'm not changing what Lia writes or promotes on her ADULTS ONLY page. It's set up so only 18 year olds and older can see it no matter who shares it. This doesn't matter in the eyes of the FB Morality Police. Still I let it go until my 89 year old great aunt posted about a post that popped up in her newsfeed from a PORN site showing full on genitalia. She reported it to Facebook as offensive and received a response that blew her mind.

The genitalia post did not violate any of their rules or Terms of Service.

*blink blink*

A photo of a fully naked body showing genitalia is okay to put up in the newsfeeds but not a book cover that has a couple with bathing suits on?

Can you guess why the porn site was allowed to slide past the Morality Police?

MONEY

They paid the big bucks to be able get those sponsored ads for their porn site to show up in the newsfeeds of 89 year old great grandmothers. To test out if my theory was correct, I agreed to so a Facebook ad promoting my Sassy Vixen Publishing page. Facebook has continued to hound me to do it and even created an ad that I just had to agree to. I chose a budget of $1/day for $10 days. This is 1/5 what they suggested I pay.

I clicked the "promote page" button to finalize the ad and it went live. No review process at all. They simply sent the ad live and waiting for a click. As soon as someone liked the page, they charged me the $1 for the day....and then they pulled the ad.

"Your ad wasn't approved because it doesn't meet Facebook's ad policies by advertising adult products or services. We don’t allow images or videos that show nudity or cleavage, even if it’s portrayed for artistic or educational reasons."

Click HERE to see the "offensive" page.

 

There isn't anything on that page that hasn't been there from it's inception, and it's the same page Facebook continues to ask me to promote for $5/day. The original logo for my company was of a scantily clad Vixen. She is clothed but sexy. Facebook never had issue with her before.


The new logo doesn't have a human in it at all. The only logical conclusion here is that Facebook wants more money from me and will enforce their rules in order to get it. Meanwhile, they allow blatant violators slide by because of their bribe....errr....higher advertising fees.

Honestly, as a writer of adult fiction, I'm getting used to not being allowed to use marketing tools available to others. Honestly, it's their loss. I cater to a large market of ADULTS who wish to see this content. I follow all of their rules to the letter to make sure my pages and posts are not seen by under aged individuals, and yet still get shoved in the basement away from the eyes of those who may be offended by a photo of a side boob.

My advice still stands for ads and boosted posts. Use them! Don't give them the price they suggest. Start off small to find your target audience. If you write adult fiction, find alternative photos to use. Instead of an ad for your book, boost a post about your blog instead. Any kind of increase in the number of people who see your posts will drive more traffic to your page and to your book.

Don't give up! If Facebook still declines your ads and boosts, ask your friends and fans to comment on the post. Have them share it on their walls too. The more it's shared, the more Facebook shows it to others. I share almost all of my page posts this way. After five author pages share a post, I can go from 11 people viewing up to nearly 300.

Keep trying out different things to find what works for you and your brand. What works for me, may not work for you so don't be discouraged. It takes years to build your brand. Take the time to find out the best way to promote you and your work and you'll be happy you did!

Until next time,


Tammy

Friday, February 5, 2016

Change is in the Air! The #FatChick is Movin' in Another Direction for 2016


Hi Ho, Guys and Dolls! Did you miss me? It's been a rough few months of crazy veterinarian schedules, writer's block, health scares and plain old exhaustion but now I'm ready to dive back into my blogs.



With all I've gone through, you would think I'd want to curl up in a ball and escape the world for a year or two, but Lady Fate has other plans for me. The scene where fictional cast of Seattle Grace works their butts off to save their friend is one I've had to deal with as a veterinarian far too often. In the show, they saved Callie. In real life, my colleagues and I weren't so lucky with a few of our critical patients. It's hard to accept there will be cases where no matter what you do, how hard you pray, how much Eastern and Western medicine you throw out there your patient will still lose it's battle.

The cute little Labradoodle puppy that damn near broke me this week lost his battle against Parvo. I had to be his advocate and say enough was enough. His pain was too great and his body too frail. He placed his little head in my hand and snuggled as I gave him one last injection. I wanted so badly to curl up in that cage with him and forget the world. 



Sometimes it's just too much. Then the next one comes through the door on the edge of death and somehow you gather yourself up and give it your all. This time it works. The 10 month old puppy who was left for dead in a ditch after a car slammed into him is coming around. Thankfully no broken bones but other injuries leave him in critical condition for the following 12 hours.

The little stinker rallies and is able to go home 48 hours later to his loving and very grateful family.

These are the reasons I continue to do what I do and not curl up in a ball and forget the rest of the world.

They're also the reason why I won't stop writing and publishing my stories. Both of my worlds are a part of me. I am not ME without either of them. As soon as I let that sink in, the writer's block crumbled and I'm itching to get back into the worlds of my characters. Of course that means my smart ass self is back to share my thoughts on all things in the veterinary world, publishing, authors helping (and hindering) other authors, and my other passions like food and crafts.

Not Enough Time in the Day was the very first blog I started after Siren Bookstrand agreed to publish my first novel For the Love of Quinn nearly five years ago. In a few short months, the rights to that book will be reverted back to me. I'm thrilled at the prospect as I have plans for that monster sized novel! I'm splitting it into two books and adding scenes back in that had to be cut the first go around. Next year, I'll get the rights back to  The Island (Now and Forever 2). At that point, all of my books will be under my control and I have to tell you it feels wonderful to say that. I'll be forever grateful to Siren for giving me a chance, but it's time I move out on my own with everything.

Speaking of moving on...

The last year I've been the regional relief veterinarian for a group of hospitals here in the Seattle area. They've decided to go in another direction and have offered me a fabulous contract to work full time between two hospitals instead of 13. March 1st is the start of that new venture and one that will give me a set schedule for writing again!

This is the final year I can say "forty something" for my age. It's opened up many hours of reflection for me and going through the posts I've done for my memoirs, I've decided to put it all together in one book to be released at the end of the year to celebrate. The Fat Chick posts will continue. I have too much to say on things to let that go. LOL!

If you've been here before, you may have noticed I've changed the side bars up to include some ad space and links to favorites. Starting this month, I will be offering ad space for sale at the top of each side bar. I'm working on the guidelines and pricing and will have a separate page for the information. You'll be able to find it in the menu tabs at the top when it's ready to go. Payments will be accepted ONLY through Paypal.

The Fat Chick posts, Writer's Words of Wisdom, and veterinary posts will have their own index pages also listed in the menu tabs at the top of the blog. This way you can find them in one spot. Of course, you can always use the new search this blog feature in the left side bar.

I'm off to help the hubby work on his new blog Pint For You And Me. He's featuring everything he knows and wants to know about brewing beer from the home, small breweries and others around the world. 

Until next time,

The Fat Chick (Tammy)