Author Connie Suttle

Author Connie Suttle:
Urban Fantasy/ Young Adult

Monday, July 25, 2011

Web of Lies

Regularly, I receive (via email) what can only be described as political propaganda. Most of it has been circulating for years, it's just that someone, somewhere, has plugged in the names of current politicians/political parties and is now passing it off as something new.

The most recent of these came to me with the following title: Your Social Security is an ENTITLEMENT! Yes, entitlement was all in caps, with the accompanying exclamation point. What followed was a diatribe that has (according to my research) been circulating since 2005 at least, with only a few minor changes.

When I get these emails, they bother me. Their purpose (in my mind) is singular--denounce one party or the other, or one politician or another. To me, it isn't difficult to see why the country is so divided at this point. These propaganda emails, along with a media that prefers to deal in shock and entertainment instead of reporting the news, have led us down that path.

And since these emails bother me so much, I feel compelled to research most of them. At times, I even send my findings back to the person who sent the email to begin with. I'm sure they've gotten wise to my ways and trash all my carefully researched emails without reading them, but that's all right. That wasn't the reason I did the research to begin with. I did it for my own peace of mind. Unfortunately, most people who receive these emails don't bother to do the same, choosing instead to believe the gossip and lies that have been passed over a virtual back fence. They then cheerfully participate in the lie by passing it right along over the internet to everybody in their electronic address book. The truth of the matter, poor orphan that it is, never stands a chance.

In case you're interested in the Social Security email (if you didn't get it already I am much surprised, but let's say you didn't), the gist of of it can be found by searching with the key words Social Security Changes. And then you can go to the official Social Security Administration website at and read MYTHS AND MISINFORMATION ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY-Parts 1 & 2, because they've done their research as well and have an answer for every point made in the email. Sadly, some people won't take that as truth either, but then I don't buy into conspiracy theories and do not possess the talent to convince those folks otherwise. I also don't have a license to provide sorely needed counseling services.

Now, those folks who send me these emails wouldn't normally tell a lie to my face. Not knowingly, anyway. But once they receive something in print, even if it's printed in an email (and it fits their ideas and political views) it doesn't even strike them as dishonest to bat it into the outfield so everybody can read it and get their underwear in a bunch (figuratively speaking, of course). If your underwear does indeed bunch up, then perhaps a different brand might work. You just need to do your research.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Borders Closing

I worked for Borders. I admit it freely. For eleven years I walked through the doors of the store in Oklahoma City, and was greeted by the scent of ink on paper.

I started as a bookseller in 1996, but was quickly promoted, and rotated through most of the positions any Borders assistant manager might aspire to. As a Training Manager, I once helped open a new store in the New Orleans area, leaving the city barely ahead of hurricane Georges in 1998.

But my favorite thing about working for Borders was The Books. After all, that is a book store's raison d'etre--Books. More than anything, I loved opening boxes of books, just to see the new titles every week. It was Christmas-like, those discoveries, and I found so many new authors that I loved and continue to read. But the most special boxes were the ones that held laydowns.

For anyone who isn't familiar with the term Laydown, that is the release date for special books--the hot, new, or eagerly anticipated in the realm of printed pages. The most obvious example might be the Harry Potter titles. In fact, my last day working for Borders in July, 2007, coincided with the release of the last Harry Potter book.

"I'm going out with Harry," I announced to all my friends. Those boxes of J.K. Rowling's books were such a temptation, but we weren't even allowed to open any of them until THE DAY, they were so secret an entity and the laydown date so protected. We didn't defile that trust, but it was difficult not to do so. The employees waited until time on that fateful evening, before cracking open boxes and hauling the books out to the sales floor at one minute past midnight. Of course, the crowd had already gathered, and with line numbers in hand, the excitement was tangible and the noise and conversation nearly deafening as we all waited to buy our copy.

That's how I spent my first day of non-employment--reading about the boy who lived. I know things have changed and that e-books are now the thing. And yes, I am a consumer of those things. But I worry that gathering crowds, anxiously awaiting a midnight release may never happen again. After all, I can't see a multitude congregating, just to download a copy of their favorite author's latest on an e-reader together. That phenomenon, like Borders, may be dying.

The store I worked for in Oklahoma City was in the first wave of shut-downs earlier this year. I visited it shortly before it closed its doors for good. It was sad to see it go. Now, if the liquidators have their way, the remaining Borders stores will be laid out like a dying beast, waiting for scavengers to descend and pick its bones clean. How will we mourn its passing? What will this mean for the future? I don't have that answer. All I can do is say farewell, and promise to remember.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Self Publishing

Years ago, when I was in film school, I had a dream. In my dream I saw a tall woman. She stood at the top of many steep marble steps, and others were climbing those steps to ask her questions. Those others all seemed pleased with the answers the received.

After watching for a while, I decided to walk up and ask a question of my own. As I came before her, I noticed the woman was bald and wearing a wide headdress. At the time, I remember thinking it odd, but I asked my question anyway. "Will I be successful?" I queried. I meant at what I was doing at that moment, working to get through film school and then working in the industry past that. The woman gazed at me thoughtfully for several seconds before answering.

"You will," she nodded. "Only it will not be what you think."

Okay, as answers went, that was disappointing. Right in the middle of my MFA as it was, it didn't come as the best of news. When I woke, as one normally does from a dream, I shook it off and went on with my life. I finished my MFA, taught for a few years and then went looking for a part-time job to feed my independent filmmaking habit. The dream nagged at me, though, over the years.

"We don't have any part-time positions available," a hiring manager for a new bookstore informed me. "I have a full-time position, though."

That started my career in bookselling and bookstore management. But after a few years at that job, I regularly developed problems with sciatica. I learned it was from lifting heavy boxes of magazines off the loading dock at work. My doctor suggested I find a desk job instead. My last day at the bookstore was in July, 2007. I intended to take a few months off and have a nice Christmas (I hadn't been able to celebrate the holiday the entire time I worked in retail) before looking for another job. My husband suggested I use the time off to write. I'd thought of doing that often enough, and even had a few chapters of things I'd started, stuffed in desk drawers. I began writing, but wasn't truly serious about it until my life (and my husband's) changed dramatically.

While I sat in my husband's ICU room (as he lay in bed, breathing on a vent in a drug-induced coma) I began to write seriously. Every day I'd bring my notebook and pen, scribbling furiously away at the very first novel I ever completed. Not only did the writing keep me busy, it saved my sanity. I was writing about lives other than my own, and that was ultimately better than what I woke to every day. And the writing didn't stop. When my husband regained consciousness and started rehab (he was already going through dialysis after a major organ shutdown) I followed him to two other hospitals, still writing every spare moment. When my husband came home, I was still writing, in between caring for him and driving him to clinics and doctor visits. In less than six months, I had two finished novels and was working on a third.

My husband and I both wept when a doctor announced that his kidneys were working again, after five months of dialysis. Prior to that, our family physician was already talking to us about placing my husband on a donor list.

In all, I wrote at least twelve novels while my husband got on his feet again. No, I didn't sleep much during that time. I wrote a lot at night, while my husband was asleep. It is quieter, then. Nobody calls, knocks, or generally disturbs. At times, I wrote until five or six am, going to bed then for three or four hours of sleep. In the past four years, (yes, the fourth anniversary of my leaving the bookstore is quickly approaching) I've written thirty books. The first twelve or thirteen are in desperate need of rewrites. Most of them are much too long as well. I've self-published the fourteenth novel as an e-book, and the sequel is in the revision/editing stage. I've learned a lot in the past four years. I still have a lot to learn. My advice to aspiring authors? Write. Just write. It can save you, when all is said and done.

When I first had my dream about the oracle (that's how I think of her, now), I hoped it was just a dream and that her answer was wrong. After all, I'd spent a lot of time, effort and money getting my degree. Nowadays, I hope it wasn't just a dream and that the woman was right. And I hope this is what she meant when she said I'd be successful. Writing has become the passion that filmmaking and animation never were. And I hope that somewhere in the e-verse, a few people will enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Blood Wager, Blood destiny #1 (my fourteenth novel and first self-published e-book), is available as a kindle title and as a nook book. Blood Passage, Blood Destiny #2, is scheduled for release September 1, 2011.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

True Blood

In 2008, I met Charlaine Harris at a book signing. She was charming, witty and one of the nicest people I've ever met in my life. A few months later, I wrote a letter (not an email, twitter or Facebook post, an honest to God, stamp-requiring letter) to her, through her publisher. It took a while to filter through them and reach her, but I got a letter back (also requiring a stamp), in which she apologized to me for taking so long to reply. I was both shocked and pleased that a best-selling author would even take the time to write back, let alone apologize for the delay.

But that's not the subject of this blog post. I'm writing about True Blood, I remind myself somewhat sternly. Okay, it's early and I haven't had coffee (or green tea) yet, so bear with me. This blog is actually about ownership. Of your ideas, thoughts and yes--books. I have faithfully read every single one of Ms. Harris' Southern Vampire Mysteries series and enjoyed all of them immensely. Nowadays, I download most of my reading material as e-books, but Ms. Harris' books are proudly displayed on my bookshelves in hard copy.

And that brings me to True Blood, the cable television series, based on the Southern Vampire Mysteries. Yes, I have watched every episode and yes, I was caught like a deer in the headlights when the first episode aired. True Blood isn't much like the books at all, but if you've read and watched both series, you already know that. Was I upset that True Blood veered away from the books? A little at first. But then I sat down and had a talk with myself. This happens all the time. You read a book and then see a movie based on the book, discovering quickly that they often have little in common. Two different formats, two different takes. Honestly, even though True Blood bears little resemblance to the books, I don't blame Ms. Harris one bit for that. After all, I used to work in a bookstore and love the printed word. True Blood has likely garnered an entirely new readership for the Southern Vampire Mysteries series, and I have always held the belief that the more we read, no matter what it is, the richer we are. Ms. Harris did the right thing, I think.

And so we come to ownership. All readers have their favorite books. The characters that populate those books feed our dreams and fantasies. That's why we read them, isn't it? So we can walk away from our own lives and live somewhere else for a while? A place ultimately more interesting and exciting than our own routine existence? Does that mean we own the characters and events in those books, or do we only borrow them for a while? Should we be allowed to dictate the actions of our favorite fictional characters? In our imagination, we can.

We owe the authors for giving us those books and characters to begin with. Therefore, we have to allow the authors to take us where they will in the writing (and selling) of those books. I also believe we have to take a deep breath, step back and refrain from judgment when an author's characters transform during their leap from page to screen. Someone else has imagined different lives and events for those characters (just as some of the rest of us have) and then presented their imaginings to us on television or in a motion picture. I think of True Blood as an alternate universe and (as everyone knows) in an alternate universe, all things are possible. Will I stop watching True Blood because it doesn't follow the books? No. I've separated them, as they are two completely different things. Both are highly entertaining and worthy in their respective formats. Will I stop reading the Southern Vampire Mysteries series? Absolutely not. And I'll have a copy on my shelf of every single title.

Connie Suttle is the author of Blood Wager (Blood Destiny, book 1) available as a kindle e-book from Learn more at