Indian Ghost Story

This is a true story.

When I was in college I had a VW bug. It was mostly primer and there were holes in the floorboard. I also owned a Yamaha 400 motorcycle.

I went to college at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. For those of you not in the know, Tahlequah is the capital of the Cherokee Nation. It is the end point of the Trail of Tears. So, as you can imagine there is a lot of Native American history here. The town’s street signs are written both in English and in Cherokee. And almost everybody around these parts has some Cherokee in them. My daughter is even Cherokee.

I’m not Cherokee. I’m 100 percent Scottish. I’m like the whitest person on earth.

So, one day back when I was 20 years-old, I decided to widen my horizons and go visit an old Indian cemetery. It’s where Principal Chief John Ross is buried. John Ross was chief when the Cherokee were forced to march the Trail of Tears, so he’s a pretty big deal around here.

Now, I have to tell you that a Cherokee friend did tell me not to go out to Ross Cemetery alone. He told me the spirits did not like white people walking around in their graveyard. I told him I’d be respectful.

Ross (13)

I also took a friend with me. Her name was Diane. She was the second most whitest person in the world.

We drove my VW bug to the cemetery. I drove the Bug up a winding dirt road, through trees and past an abandoned schoolhouse. I parked my car at the top of the hill facing the graveyard and put on the emergency brake.

Diane and I walked among the graves, whispering low, being very respectful.

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When we left, we walked back to where we had left the car.

It wasn’t there.

We walked around. And around. And around. I had the keys so nobody stole it. We began to walk back to town and… there it was.

It was resting peacefully at the bottom of the hill.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it rolled down the hill, easy peasy, end of story. Nope. It wasn’t even on the road. It was off in a copse of trees. It was surrounded by trees! The only way it could have rolled to where it was is if it had dodged about a dozen trees on its way down the hill.

Anyway, the car started just fine and we drove off unharmed, but spooked.

Flash forward two years. I’m telling this story to my first girlfriend, Lynn. She happens to be Cherokee and even some of her aunts and uncles lived in the area. So I decided to take her out to the cemetery because she had never been. But this time we went on my motorcycle.

I parked it at the top of the hill, this time perpendicular to the hill. We visited the cemetery. Very respectfully.

ross

When it was time to go, my motorcycle wasn’t there.

It was at the bottom of the hill. Parked. Kickstand down. Surrounded by trees. Not a scratch on it.

I had a bad case of the heebie jeebies. Lynn took me to her aunt and uncle’s house. She told them the story. The aunt and uncle conversed back and forth in Cherokee for a while. Finally, the uncle looked at me and said, “Do not go back. The spirits have asked you to leave twice now. They will not be so friendly again.”

Suffice it to say, I’ve never been back!


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The LezBeans, Episode 16, “Fluffy Dreams”

When Lulu was four-years-old she asked me what clouds were made of. I told her that clouds were made of marshmallows. One night when she was going to bed, she told me that she was going to dream about flying high in the sky through the marshamallow clouds.

That gave me an idea.

I set my alarm for two o’clock in the morning.  I got up and oh-so-quietly sneaked into Lulu’s room. Then I put a handful of marshmallows in Lulu’s panties while she slept.

sleep marsh

I wanted her to have fluffy dreams of flying through marshmallow clouds.

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And when she woke up, she would find the marshmallows and know that her dream was true!

marshmallow panties

It didn’t work out quite the way I had expected. Lulu drew her own conclusions about where the marshmallows came from.

poot marsh

And then she ate them.

eat marsh

Still, I thought it was a pretty good trick.


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Crazy Little Thing Book Review

Crazy Little Thing by Saxon Bennett and Layce Gardner

Texans Ollie and Claire traveled to Iowa to legalize their love. Now, in order to untie the knot, these (f)lawfully wedded wives must return to their state of matrimony. But do they really want to undo “I do”?

Remember those droll, belligerent bumper stickers that said Protect the Sanctity of Divorce from Gays?

Well, divorcing gays Ollie Hiland and Claire Drummond are the unprotected sex.

Texans who traveled to Iowa to legalize their love, these (f)lawfully wedded wives must return to their state of matrimony in order to untie the knot. And―get this hitch―they’re obligated to play house for three months with their future past spouse.

All shook up yet? Just wait―things get even shakier when Ollie and Claire embark on a road trip. They may not be going south, but everything else certainly is. Accompanied by a narcoleptic nincompoop and a demented documentarian, the women hit Jailhouse Rock bottom. To top it all off, Claire develops a fascination with a hallucination of Elvis Presley.

Needless to say, Ollie’s little darlin’ is the eponymous crazy little thing. In fact, all this separation anxiety is Claire’s (un)doing. Convinced she and Ollie jumped the gun when they jumped the broom, Claire insists they’re far too incompatible for infinity.

Ollie, on the other hand, may be girl happy like Elvis, but she’s not a happy girl. Her feelings are more in the style of “Love Me Tender” than “Return to Sender,” with a sampling of the song “A Boi Like Me, A Girl Like You” from the Presley picture Girls! Girls! Girls!

Will the couple’s compulsory cohabitation bring Claire-ity to their situation?

Crazy Little Thing is an od(d)yssey of outlandish distortions. A screenplay in prose, though not a novelization of a screenplay in the standard sense, the story is reel-istic: a credibility-compromised creation that should, by rights, succeed only on the big screen. Plus, the spectral sightings of the pelvis-pivoting crooner are too desultory to be pivotal, so poor Elvis has left the building blocks of the story scattered from Texas to Iowa.

But when all is wed and done…somehow this medley of commotion, emotion, and devotion succeeds because of its wanton wackiness. Fools fall in love, and while it isn’t a burning love, I can’t help falling in love with these characters. It’s just one of those crazy little things.

Crazy Little Thing can be found at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and Kobo!

Random Acts

Right after college I moved to St. Petersburg, Florida.

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I was broke by the time I got there and got set up. I had spent all my savings on an apartment and utilities and phone and just enough food to last me a month. I finally found a job in the mall, leasing cars from a kiosk. The company was named “Lease Car.” I had two skirts and two blouses and one pair of shoes to my name. I had to wash my clothes in the sink at my apartment and hang them across the shower door to dry so I would have something to wear the next day. I owned one spoon and one can opener. I only ate canned soup.

soup

Since I didn’t have a pan, I would heat the soup still in the can directly over the gas flame of the stove. (Warning: take the paper off the can before putting over flame.)  I’m telling you all this so you understand how very poor I was. Money was a very big deal.

I was overjoyed at my first paycheck. I could pay rent and buy food! (And maybe even buy a pan.) I got in my car and went to run errands: mailing a letter to my girlfriend back home and depositing my paycheck at the bank. I stopped first at a mailbox that was on the street. I threw the letter into the slot. I got back in the car and… Oh hell, no! I had dropped my paycheck and deposit slip in the mailbox!

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I immediately went to the nearest post office and told the clerk all about it. I even talked to the postmaster. They told me they couldn’t do a thing about it. The mail from that box would be collected later that day and if somebody saw it, they would contact me. However, the postmaster told me, it was very likely I wouldn’t get the check back.

I called the home office of Lease Car, hoping to get the check replaced. But guess what? Lease Car was out of business. That very day they decided to go out of business! Now I had no money for the month I had worked and I had no job. My rent was due in a couple of days and I had only one can of soup left in the cupboard.  I was hungry.

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I went back to my apartment and cried.

The next afternoon I went to my mailbox and retrieved my mail.  There was a note in my box. It read:

“I am your mailman. I found your paycheck with a deposit slip in the mailbox on Fourth St. I took it to the bank for you. Here is your deposit slip. Have a nice day.”

I cried again. This time from relief. And for the random act of kindness from the mailman that changed my life.

P.S. I paid my rent, and bought a pan!


Check out our review for Crazy Little Thing in Curve Magazine!

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The LezBeans, Episode 15, “What Are Cows Made From?”

Lulu liked to ask questions.

questions

I don’t know if she did it because she really truly wanted to know the answers or if she just wanted to drive me bat-shit crazy.

ugh!

I tried my best to ignore the barrage of questions. But without much success. Lulu knew how to wear me down.

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Finally, I would explode.

what!

And then she would deliver the coup de grace—the finishing touch that made me feel guilty for the next six months.

I love you

Was this what being a mother was like, always feeling guilty? As it turns out… yes.


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How Much Money Does a Novelist Make?

By Layce Gardner & Saxon Bennett

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

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

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

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

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

PRINT BOOKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

eBOOKS

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon ranking (Lesbian Romance)                                        How many sales per day

50 – 100                                                                                                         10-15

30-50                                                                                                              15-20

10-30                                                                                                              20- 50

6-10                                                                                                                50-100

1-5                                                                                                                  100 or more

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

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

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

 

Spiderman

It’s weird people that keep things interesting. Case in point: I used to own an Ebay store. I sold antique postcards. (Postcard collecting is the third largest collecting hobby in the world right behind stamps and coins.) When you do something like run an online business (or write books!) you get some really strange people coming out of the woodwork and contacting you.

One such person was Sarah. Sarah lived in London. One day she sent me an email. It said something like this: “I work in an office. I sit across from a chap I hate. His name is Roger and he has a giant stuffed spider sitting on top of his computer monitor. The spider stares at me all day. I hate the spider. So I kidnapped the spider. Now Roger thinks I did it and won’t bloody shut up about it. I would like to pay you to send Roger a postcard from the Spider so he will think the spider is on holiday. Will you help me?”

I wrote back that it sounded like great fun. Sarah visited my Ebay store and picked out a postcard from Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico. I wrote on the back of the card, “Dear Roger, Hopped across the pond to visit family. Wish you were here! Love, Spidey.”

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Two weeks went by before Sarah emailed me again. She wrote, “Good job, I loved it! However, Roger doesn’t quite believe it’s from Spidey. Can you send another postcard? Make this one from Florida.”

I sent Roger a postcard from Disney World. I wrote on the back, “Roger, I think you would like it here. It’s the happiest place on earth! Love, Spidey. P.S. that’s me sitting on Mickey’s shoulder.”

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Sarah emailed, “Roger still doesn’t believe it. He says he can’t see Spidey on Mickey’s shoulder. Can you send another postcard? From Hollywood?”

I sent a postcard of the Hollywood sign. I wrote on back, “Roger, this town is great! Sunshine, movie stars, swimming pools! Guess what? They’re making a movie about me. They’re getting some bloke in a leotard to play me. I’ll be home soon. Love, Spidey.”

hollywood

Three weeks passed before Sarah wrote back. “It’s been great fun. But I gave Spidey back to Roger. He’s happy now. Thank you!”

My pleasure, Sarah.


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