Generation Butthurt—How Being Constantly Offended (and Offensive) Costs BIG

Wise words!

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Kenny Louie. Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Kenny Louie.

Today we are going to dive back into social media because who we are on-line impacts the odds of our success. Whether we like it or not, engaging on social media and cultivating a following is going to massively impact our professional success (or lack thereof).

In sales we had a saying, Fish where the fish are. Well my darlings, the fish are schooling on social media. When we are online we are not only engaging with the readers of today, we are cultivating future readers. This applies as much to the pre-published newbie as it does the internationally best-selling author.

We are wise to remember that we now have entire generations glued to smart phones and LinkedInInstaSnap, and if we don’t learn how to navigate these waters? Bad juju.

This said. Social media is an extraordinarily powerful tool that is too…

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Tuscan Garlic Chicken #Recipe #Hidinginthekitchen

Honestly, folks… I don’t know what to write anymore. The spreading darkness is a cancer on our collective polity. I’m trying to process it, decide how best to react. But in the meantime, I’m experimenting in the kitchen as a way to keep myself focused and relatively sane.

So, for this evening’s dinner, I made Tuscan Garlic Chicken (grabbed off a pin in Pinterest, not sure from whom, my bad)


1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced (I used 3 “filets”)

1/2 pkg rigatoni, more or less, cooked per package instructions

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 cup heavy cream

½ cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

½ cup parmesan cheese

½ cup chopped mushrooms

½ cup chopped white onion

1 cup spinach, chopped

½ cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped


In a large skillet add olive oil and heat until smoking. Add the chicken “filets,” salt and pepper to taste, and then cook the chicken on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes until brown on each side. Meantime add mushrooms and onions and continue cooking until onions are transparent and the chicken is no longer pink in center (don’t overcook—the thin breasts turn into jerky at the drop of a spatula).

Remove chicken and veggies and set aside on a plate.


Mmmm, that looks good enough to eat as is!

Add the heavy cream, chicken broth, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and Parmesan cheese. Whisk over medium high heat until it starts to thicken. Don’t let it go too long – it will turn into sludge (not cool). If that happens, just thin it down with more chicken stock.


Chicken stock, heavy cream, Parmesan, Italian spices, garlic powder

Add the spinach and sun-dried tomatoes and let it simmer until the spinach starts to wilt.

Add the chicken and veggies back to the pan, heat through and serve over pasta. Rigatoni is always a good choice as it can stand up to heavier sauces. I like the medium size.

Post-dinner assessment:

Very tasty, but a hair on the bland side.

When I make it again, I will:

  1. Use real chopped garlic (2-3 cloves at least)
  2. The Parm was nice but white cheddar might be even nicer
  3. Use more spinach, probably a whole bag as it reduces down to wisps of greens when cooked
  4. Add some smoked paprika to kick it up a notch
  5. The sun dried tomatoes were okay, but I would add a handful of sliced cherry tomatoes to add some color
  6. Make less rigatoni—lordy, I tend to cook for a small army when it comes to pasta!

That’s it! Thanks for stopping by.

Wishing y’all peace, love, and good news (for a change).




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An Open Letter to Donald Trump – the things we just don’t understand

Well worth your time to read.

Well, This Is What I Think

Dear President Trump

Congratulations on your election. We never supported your run for office, and we were frankly somewhat dismayed that it succeeded, as the trend in politics that you represent is far removed from our view of the world.

But we have to put that aside now. You’re in. And we have to work with you.

Of course we wish you well. The world needs a strong and successful America. You are still the locomotive at the front of the train that is the world’s economy. Or at the very least, one of the locomotives.

You are still the home of much of the most fortuitous innovations that will help us manage and preserve civilisation and the world. We need you to do well, which is why even those who oppose your brand of politics wish you success. Who knows? You may surprise us all.

But in saying that…

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I Think You Meant to Say, ‘Thank You’

I like the term foundational for it speaks to the core values we need to focus on now.


philly-marchTo those who saw the Women’s Marches around the country and–damn–around the world and didn’t “get it” — try harder. To those who called the rallies “protests” and compared us to the savages who willfully and criminally broke windows, attacked the police and set a car on fire in D.C. yesterday — try harder. To those who don’t understand that our individual rights and freedoms are under siege — try harder.

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Reflections on a National Day of Mourning and the Duties of an Artist

I brought up the concept of “branding” in an earlier post. Brad takes this in another direction. Good read.

Brad Vance Author

Notice how you don’t hear anybody saying what they were saying just a few months ago? “Give him a chance so we can unify and come together and get over it.”

Well, he had his chance, and look who he’s picked for his cabinet. Anti-gay, anti-women, anti-science, anti-environment, anti-worker, anti-education, pro-theocracy, pro-Crusade, a corrupt congressman who should be in jail for using his office to enrich himself but is getting a cabinet post instead, a Treasury secretary who “forgot” about $100,000,000 in assets because there were, you know, so many forms…

Oh yeah. And proof that Russia hacked the election. I think it’s time that the people who told me to get over it? Get over that.

I read a post that Jessica Faust, a literary agent, put up a few days ago, in which she reiterated her advice to writers that they “keep the YOU out of your…

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Today I Mourn

I found this on Face Book although I cannot pin down the source or the author, but this describes how I feel, how I plan to act from this day forward, until we reclaim our Democratic Republic and reaffirm our commitment to common decency, equality, and justice.



I listened as they called my President a Muslim.
I listened as they called him and his family a pack of monkeys.
I listened as they said he wasn’t born here.
I watched as they blocked every single path to progress that they could.
I saw the pictures of him as Hitler.
I watched them shut down the government and hurt the entire nation twice.
I watched them turn their backs on every opportunity to open worthwhile dialog.
I watched them say that they would not even listen to any choice for Supreme Court no matter who the nominee was.
I listened as they openly said that they will oppose him at every turn.
I watched as they did just that.
I listened.
I watched.
I paid attention.
Now, I’m being called on to be tolerant.
To move forward.
To denounce protesters.
To “Get over it.”
To accept this…
I will not.
I will do my part to make sure this great American mistake becomes the embarrassing footnote of our history that it deserves to be.
I will do this as quickly as possible every chance I get.
I will do my part to limit the damage that this man can do to my country.
I will watch his every move and point out every single mistake and misdeed in a loud and proud voice.
I will let you know in a loud voice every time this man backs away from a promise he made to them.
Them. The people who voted for him.
The ones who sold their souls and prayed for him to win.
I will do this so that they never forget.
And they will hear me.
They will see it in my eyes when I look at them.
They will hear it in my voice when I talk to them.
They will know that I know who they are.
They will know that I know what they are.
Do not call for my tolerance. I’ve tolerated all I can.
Now it’s their turn to tolerate ridicule.
Be aware, make no mistake about it, every single thing that goes wrong in our country from this day forward is now Trump’s fault just as much as they thought it was Obama’s.
I find it unreasonable for them to expect from me what they were entirely unwilling to give.


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When Good Raptors Go Bad



The chickens have been hit hard with attacks that have decimated their ranks. First Tex, the gorgeous banty-cross rooster. That happened when a Red-Tailed Hawk got through an open spot in the overhead protective netting. In a panic, we moved the gang into a free stall in the barn, setting up nesting and roosting areas, piling a nice layer of old hay for them to peck around in, and seeing to their comfort.

All was well for a time, but then Cooter, the pure banty with an ego the size of Manhattan—the one putting dents in my calves, the aggressive little shit—he got gutted. We thought maybe the hens had gotten sick of his constant posturing and bullying, though the evidence (breast sliced open) spoke to other explanations.


Indoor quarters, horse stall

That same day, Firstborn found the Leghorn (pure white, medium size) covered in blood and one of the black mixed breeds missing an eye and quite a few feathers. Was Leggs the culprit?

I hit the books, and sure enough… chickens can be cannibalistic and once they get a taste for it, there’s not much you can do beyond isolation or a stew pot. But… Leggs wasn’t packing a switchblade last we looked, so… wait and see.


Silver Laced Wyandotte

The next day, the Silver Wyandotte was slaughtered, a clean slice fore and aft, but this time we had a bead on a culprit. Firstborn had seen a raptor in the trees but couldn’t quite ID it given it was early morning, foggy, and he was perched in a dense stand of brush. Given she couldn’t be sure what was getting into the stall (rats, coons, weasel?) she moved the remaining birds into their pen while I planned on how to protect the ground surrounding the enclosure from burrowing critters.

Next morning, Ro sighted the raptor on the fence next to the barn, bold as brass! Fortunately we still had a full complement in the hen’s enclosure so the overhead netting was doing its job, but while Ro was feeding in the barn, she noticed the raptor swooping by the barn door, flying fast, making several passes.


Cooper’s Hawk

Bingo! The raptor, a Cooper’s Hawk (determined after extensive research online and through our bird books), was deemed the perp. Apparently it’s not unusual for Cooper’s to hang around bird feeders, taking down small to medium sized birds, squirrels and chippies. But, mercy… to go *inside* the barn where he could sit on the top of the  stall enclosure and simply select a nice juicy, plump hen, drop down, do a surgical incision and then feast on warm innards?

Huh, that’s a level of brio I did not expect.


Outdoor pen

But the good news is the girls seem fine now. They never once ceased egg production (5-6/day) and the netting and other protection measures are holding.

Today a friend is bringing us a rooster to replace Tex and Cooter. I’ll have pics to share, I promise.


Meantime, y’all have a great day!



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Stuck on Auto and Loving It!

I recently found a used camera at a local camera shop – a Nikon Coolpix P520 with a red metallic body – a lot of camera for the money and in primo, as good as new, condition.

For me, that’s an opportunity and a challenge…

The opportunity is to capture shots I usually miss with the iPhone camera (which is quite good for static landscape or portrait shots) or with my slide-into-a-pocket point n shoot version. I was looking for a decent zoom, with good light gathering ability, a moderately fast lens, lightweight, and easy to use. The Coolpix delivers on all those requirements.

The zoom is a wide 42X, 18.2 megapixels, 4.3-180 f1:3 – 5.9 (reading this off the lens so don’t be too impressed with my camera acumen). If you are into camera specs you can find them HERE.

The challenge is to learn a whole new set of adjustments: automatic, manual, scene, portrait, spot, plus a variety of other pre-programmed options I’ve yet to fathom… but I will! The display is large, the menu is user-friendly (even for an old broad who’d much prefer to hold a book in one hand while tabbing through the menu items to see what they do).

I decided to play with the automatic option first, mostly because I wanted to get a feel for the camera and establish some “muscle memory” and confidence in the obvious functions (on-off, zoom, through lens vs screen focus, burst mode, & flash) before branching out to the less intuitive (to me) options. It’s the learner’s permit for the digitally challenged.

Since I have 7 bird feeders on the deck, I have a readily available stage on which to capture fast-moving, skittish birds and squirrels, which is harder than you’d think. To get the pic, you need to frame it first, then press lightly on the button (green squares come up to give you an idea of depth of field, etc) and then click to capture the moment.

Most times the birds have moved somewhere else and I have to start over. But I’ve learned a few things: to anticipate, to have patience, to hold my breath (yes, I need a tripod), to press lightly and be prepared to follow through instantly if it looks good. For that, it’s best to use the screen viewing option as it gives me a chance to brace my arm(s) against a solid surface in order to avoid too much motion.

The camera does have motion detection reduction but at the maximum zoom it’s not enough. The nice thing about digital cameras? Instant gratification on keep or delete. I delete a lot.

While you are humming Paul Simon’s Kodachrome, here are a few of my favorite See The Birdie Pics for your edification and enjoyment:

Ah yes, Herself reminded me it’s CATURDAY so…


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Tikka Masala Chicken n Sausage n Veggies over Rice

It’s cold, it’s snowing. The boys are being PITAs of the first rank, Czar egging Mr Bob on, then standing back as Mom screams bloody murder… I din’ do nufin’… and finally gives up and lets them in the lower pasture…

…because it’s just easier.

Keeping an eye on the miscreants is best done by watching out the kitchen window, so while I’m engaged in guard duty, I figured I might as well get dinner in hand. I had a nice selection of fresh veggies and a jar of Patak’s Tikka Masala sauce, so voila… bring out the jumbo sauce pan and lets get dinner started.

Tikka Masala


Basmati rice (lovely long grain rice that holds up well to dishes with sauces)

EVOO (extra virgin olive oil, I use Bertolli)

2017-01-10-14-12-20~1/2 jar of Patak’s Tikka Masala sauce

Large boneless, skinless chicken breast, 1” dice (cut when partially frozen, makes it easier)

1 apple-flavored chicken sausage link, ½” dice (because it was in the fridge)

½ each large red and green sweet bell peppers, 1” dice

1-2 large celery sticks, finely chopped

½ box of sliced mushrooms (any kind)

½ large white onion, finely chopped

Small head of broccoli, pulled apart (most recipes call for pre-steaming for a couple minutes – I usually don’t bother)

1 large carrot grated

Handful of cherry tomatoes (using what I had left, about a dozen), sliced in half on an angle

Coarse Kosher or pretzel salt, freshly ground pepper, freshly ground dried garlic, dried basil

Preparation: Rice

  1. Heat 1 ¾ cups of water plus 2 tsp of salt and a tbsp of EVOO to boiling
  2. Add 1 cup of rice, cover and turn down to low, cook until done, about 15 minutes – don’t let the rice get too dry

Preparation of Tikka Masala dish

  1. In large skillet on high bring 1-2 tbsp of EVOO just to smoking, then add chicken and sausage and sauté until browned. Remove to dish.
  2. Add 1 tbsp EVOO to skillet, heat to smoking, then add onion, celery, carrot, and mushrooms. Stir fry until onions are translucent (2-3 minutes on med high). Add the peppers and broccoli, continue stir frying.
  3. Season to taste with salt, pepper and garlic. Add 1 tsp dried basil. Stir and heat through.
  4. Add the half jar of Tikka Masala sauce, stir to blend
  5. Add the chicken and sausage, then cover and heat on low for about 10 minutes.

Place the rice in the bottom of a large serving dish, then top with the Tikka Masala mixture.

This dish holds up well with reheating. In fact, I often make it a day ahead to allow the flavors to blend fully.

This is also a dish that works when you need a recipe to use up veggies approaching their use-by date. Tikka Masala is one of my favorite everything but the kitchen sink solutions to what’s for dinner.

Stay warm, read a book, drink a glass of wine!




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I am the poster child for failed branding

It’s a new year. Time for best of , my favorite [name an author, artist, singer/song], memorials to those lost. You know the drill.

You’re probably also familiar with the term “author branding” as it’s always on that…




Branding. Hmm, exactly what is that, you might well ask.

After eight years in the trenches—nearly four of them as a publisher, most of them as an editor, and a significant portion of my life as a writer [first technical, then fiction as a later-on-in-life avocation]—you’d think I’d have the Cliff Notes version of an answer down pat. And you’d be wrong, along with me.

Brace yerselves, maties, fer here’s the skinny on where I went astray…

#1. Establish your brand even before you’ve written your first book.

93905-284025Well, okay, I can see doing that if you plan on writing a series of how-to non-fiction tomes: text books, self-help, memoir, travelogues, knitting guides and crocheting pattern books. You set up your website, you talk about crocheting, give some hints, post pics of your projects, compare wool weight, hook sizes, tension… Blah-ti-blah.


slide7Oh gawd, I hate that corporate-speak term! I HATE corporatizing creativity.

But… but… in a nutshell, that’s what you do. You have a thing, you fish for an audience for that thing, you show them something new about the thing and promise MORE, BIGGER, BETTER, FREE THINGS. You have a newsletter so you can ADD MORE VALUE! [On the plus side, it’s digital—and unless your recipient is one of those who has to print out every tome you send through the ether, mindlessly killing trees and clogging landfills—it’s either annoying as hell or they love hearing about the NEXT NEW STITCH.]

Alright, already, I’ll ease up with the all-caps…

Anyway, you’re a non-fic writer, so all that makes sense, right? It’s a tried and true way to get noticed in your area of expertise, aka bona fides. Build a following of like-minded aficionados. Become a cultural icon in the land of crafting. The world can be your oyster!

It happens, it really does. So, yeah… good tip.

writing-fictionBut what about the fiction writer, the one who writes conflicted characters, high action and derring-do, thrilling mysteries, intense scenes of affection involving a diverse gender landscape and linoleum-melting acts of passion? Genre-bending stuff. Edgy. Transgressive, even.

Let me mention first off—back in the day, before ebooks and indie publishing became a thing, the only time you got to interact with a writer was at a convention (ComicCon, Dragon Con, RWA, RT, etc), a book signing, a reading at the local library, a chance run-in with Uncle Stevie (King) at his favorite deli in Maine (been there, skulked about, never saw him). Or you happened to stumble over one at the grocery store. But this whole cult of personality phenom has exploded in the last few years to the point where readers not only EXPECT writers to be available 24/7, but DEMAND it!

Plus, the pundits—in answer to How Do I Become A Famous Bestselling Author Making Megabucks—came up with more lists than you can shake a stick at, all directing you down the path of love, huge sales, movie rights and action figures. And it all starts with…

#1. Establish your brand even before you’ve written your first book.


History Lesson from the Real Me:

I haven’t always been Nya Rawlyns. I started this gig as Diane-the-Small-Publisher. I had 15+ authors, hand-selected. I edited, promoted, had a graphics artist on hand for book covers. A few won awards (I entered them in national contests), quite a few gained a nice readership. But I went broke trying to do it all, with trying to keep up with the changing landscape and Amazon’s incursion into the market. So I helped everyone self-publish or find alternative venues and backed off just to edit. I was okay with that.

But then, one day on Authonomy (UK writer site), a couple fellow authors challenged me to write a book. About dragons. Dragons with a parasite problem.

Well, alrighty then. I asked myself: what do I know about dragons (other than from fantasy and SF tomes). Pretty much fuck all. But what I did know was horses! And riding. And lordy, I could write a book about parasites and deworming regimens, and what happens when horses are never wormed or cared for properly. I had background in horse rescue and I can tell you stories that would make your heart bleed.

dragon-academy-ebook-cover-11-12-11So, you see, I had bona fides, years of experience in training, competing and caring for equines. So I sat down and wrote an MG/YA story called Dragon Academy with a teen boy as the main character and a couple of dragons to train. In New Jersey. What surprised the heck out of me was how much adults took to it.

I went about promoting the old-fashioned way: word-of-mouth, handing out books at events, giving readings. What I didn’t have then was a website or any experience in creating or maintaining one. And, to be honest, I really didn’t see the point. No one was screaming in my ear: BRAND YERSELF AS A DRAGON EXPERT, WOMAN! so I didn’t.

I mean, on Face Book and in real life, if you knew me, you also knew I have horses, you probably met me regularly at CTRs and endurance rides. I was managing events, selling tack, training horses. It was all face-to-face. Unfortunately, the book was just a curiosity, a pat on the head, that’s nice dear, loved it, really cute, do you know if my rider’s come into vet check 4 at Old Dominion yet.

S’all good.

But then I got an offer on two romances from Red Sage—naughty, steamy, smutty contemporary romances—and suddenly Diane-the-author-of-smut was not gonna fly in my equine world. So Nya was born.

Factoid: Nya = not YA and Rawlyns because why the hell not.

At that point I discovered Weebly and created a couple websites: Diane blogged on life in the country, recipes, ride stories and other heartwarming tales. She reviewed a few books, flogged her collection of short stories and Dragon Academy. Meantime, Nya got a more extensive treatment as her catalog of MM series of western romances, contemporary gay literary fiction and suspense thrillers grew.

I was following the advice, making up a viable playbook, and finding success among readers who appreciate a more literary approach to storytelling.

The thing is… Nya never completely separated from Diane. Not really. We both have that equine identity, we both love cooking, gardening, bird watching/feeding, we both are outspoken on social issues, we both have enough expertise to write articles on publishing and writing that are generally well-received.

mfbozbuBut Nya needs to step out of the shadow of Diane, because… well, she’s slipping away. From once robust sales (especially at ARe, now defunct) the old girl has had to resort to Kindle Unlimited to try and recapture her audience—and that is very much like starting from scratch.

Just the other day, a couple of those name-15-authors-you-think-people-should-know (one in general and one in the MM genre) were going around Face Book, and I was tickled pink to be mentioned in both. But it was as Diane.

Diane has one book and a collection of shorties. Nya has 30+ Betcha you didn’t know that, right?

Poor Nya has slipped into the realm of invisibility, so when folks talk authors, Nya’s name rarely comes up. Not even among her friends! *sob*

electric_cattle_branding_and_earmarkingBottom line, I managed to brand myself just fine… as Diane. *headdesk* And the sad thing is, I don’t have a clue how to dig myself out of that particular hole.

And, aside from all of that <points upwards>, I still wonder why in the name of all that’s holy do fiction authors need to BRAND themselves? Fine, I do horses. But, geez louise, I don’t do JUST horses. I’m more than that, and dammit I don’t like being forced into a cubbyhole where all I’m expected to deliver is wisdom on all things equine or country-centric stuff because it’s mah thang.

I love my Crow Creek series, I adore my Snowy Range mysteries. There’s horses and rodeos and cowboys! Ole! But I also write gritty urban tales and dark, twisted explorations of the human psyche. There are MF romcoms and sports romances! I even wrote a gay shifter series that breaks with the trope and takes the reader on an epic adventure with a character who finds it impossible to meet expectations.

You know him… Coy’s a lot like us authors facing unrealistic demands on our creative energies and our creative visions.

I haven’t written anything new since April last year. That’s not a drought, it’s a disaster for me. Authors live and die on being able to feed readers new stories on a regular, much amped-up schedule. It’s in the ToS for publishing, no joke – look it up, there in the fine print.

I asked myself, then Firstborn (who’s made to suffer through all my crises of conscience and career), if it was worth continuing. She recommended I not beat myself up, or guilt myself into producing same old-same old just to satisfy the market. She said, if you like producing audiobooks, why not concentrate on that?

She’s a smart one, isn’t she?

blank_page_intentionally_end_of_bookSo that’s what I’ve been doing lo these many months, though now that the funds have run dry (I’m paying upfront for proven and truly amazing voice talents), it’s time to refocus on one of the six WiPs sitting there patiently waiting for me to get my act in gear.

By-the-by, I have 7 audiobooks out, 3 more in the queue, thanks for asking [HERE].

But that niggly question remains: why bother?

There’s a reason I ask that question—above and beyond the author brand dilemma. It’s called reader expectations, tropes and genre bondage—and I’ll explain in another post.

For now, hay there, this is Nya wishing y’all…

Peace in these troubling times.





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