When Writers (and their fans) become BULLIES and TROLLS

I’m a self-published author. I published my first Steel Goddesses novel via CreateSpace. CreateSpace makes it easy to format manuscripts and design covers. I chose my cover photo from a website that offers stock photos at reasonable prices. The first edition of Steel Goddesses was published in 2009. The second, revised edition (with more content added) was published in 2016. For the revised edition, I selected another stock photo from the same website and used the cover creator template on CreateSpace. I uploaded the finished product, which went live on Amazon an hour later. Easy peasy. I didn’t give the process a second thought.

Until today.

As I was scrolling through posts on Facebook, I came upon one from an author friend which stopped me cold. She was sharing another post, from the cousin of Lee Ching, a young woman who makes her living designing book covers and logos for independent and self-published authors. The young woman had apparently been bullied so badly by a writer’s fans, she’d attempted suicide.

Her cousin posted the message Lee wrote before overdosing on pills:

“I am sorry to those I have hurt
I am sorry to everyone affected
I am sorry to those who don’t and won’t ever believe me
I am sorry that I am shouting in a empty room and no one hears me
I am sorry.” 

I went to the Lee’s Facebook page and read other posts. Slowly, the full picture emerged. Someone had taken offense to the young woman using a stock photo for a book cover. Being a stock photo, it had appeared on at least one other cover and someone took umbrage. Before long, dozens more piled on, spewing insults and abuse via Facebook messages; some vilely calling on her to kill herself.

Over a stock photo.

I understand how competitive the self-publishing world can be. I mean, so many authors, cranking out novel after novel, hiring independent artists, editors, and others to help their books stand out in a field becoming more overcrowded by the minute. Many self-published authors have limited budgets. Most work full-time jobs or are supporting families. Stock photo sites come in handy, especially those that offer photos at very low prices. Anyone who uses stock photos runs the risk of seeing what they consider to be their photos appear on other book covers, magazine ads, etc.

To attack a book cover designer for using a stock photo is ridiculous. To castigate a designer and demand she kill herself for using a photo that happes to also appear on another cover is downright vile.

The last I heard, Lee survived her suicide attempt, but as her cousin states, she is in no way okay. I hope her spirit bounces back and she’s able to heal. From the supportive posts on her Facebook page, she’s surrounded by friends and supporters who are protective and loving.

Others have created groups aimed at stamping out bullying in the indie publishing world. Here are a couple of Facebook groups to check out:

Indies Against Bullying

Literary Bully and Troll Busters

If you’re looking to support Lee Ching, start by liking her two pages:

Under Cover Designs

I Read Him First

Social media can be fun but it can also be dangerous. People forget that words hurt. They can shit all over someone then go enjoy dinner, having no clue (or not caring) just how much damage their words have caused. Some people enjoy hurting others, safe behind a barrier, never having to apologize or be held accountable or their actions.

To those who think they’ve dodged the proverbial bullet, think again. It might take minutes or it might take years, but Karma finds us all in the end.

P.S. If you don’t want to see your cover photo on someone else’s book, pony up for a licensed photo.

cyberbully

 

 

August is NATIONAL READ A ROMANCE Month!

I never knew there was an actual “month” to focus on reading romance novels, but there is– and luckily, it’s this month!

There are thousands, probably millions of romance novels out there now. Were I not in the midst of a massive move, I’d probably curl up on a lawn chair and start devouring some of my favorite authors (Heather Graham, Lisa Jackson, Susan Mallery, Debbie Macomber… the list goes on). 

I’m pleased and honored that so many people (thousands!) have read and enjoyed STEEL GODDESSES. If you haven’t had the pleasure to unplug for a couple of hours and take a trip back in time to NYC in the 80’s, where metal ruled and groupies were royalty, August is the perfect month to check it out.  There are links at the top of this website, but I’ll make it even easier for you to find it.

CLICK HERE to buy the book in paperback (on sale for $11.70 for a brief time)

CLICK HERE to download it for your Kindle (just $2.99)

If you’re looking for an autographed copy, email me: steelgoddesses@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to send you one for $15.00 (this price includes shipping)

Happy NATIONAL READ A ROMANCE Month!

(80’s metal power couple: Tawny Kitaen & David Coverdale)

Image

Ann on “Northwest Convergence Zone” radio show at 5pm tonight!

I’m excited to join the band Mechanism on the radio show “Northwest Convergence Zone” tonight (Sunday, May 26) at 9pm to talk about “Steel Goddesses” and next Friday’s fundraising concert at Louie G’s to benefit relatives of Mechanism singer Ryan – who died in a tragic house fire in Idaho.

Mechanism will perform at the show, along with Riot in Rhythm, Jason Kertson & the Immortals, and The Fail Safe Project. More info about the event on Facebook and at Mental Itch Records’ website!

Tune in at 5pm tonight for a fun interview (I hope I can be entertaining enough!) and join us Friday for some awesome music, food and help raise money for a very worthy cause!

 

Awesome concert raises more than $40,000 for Superstorm Sandy victims!

CONGRATS to Jon & Marsha Z, Old Bridge Metal Militia, Rock ‘n Roll Heaven and everyone who took part in this epic concert and donated to a truly worthy cause. I hated missing it– and loved all of the photos people posted. What a walk down memory lane. xo

Here’s the official press release from Adrenaline PR about the concert and the money raised for Superstorm Sandy victims!!! \m/ \m/

For Immediate Release

May 14, 2013

 Sold Out ROCK N’ ROLL HEAVEN and OLD BRIDGE METAL MILITIA Reunion Concert and Fundraiser Raises Over $40,000 in Proceeds for Superstorm Sandy Relief

All-Star Jam Includes Surprise Appearances by JD Deservio (Black Label Society), Snake Sabo (Skid Row) and More!

Image   The very successful ROCK N’ ROLL HEAVEN and the OLD BRIDGE METAL MILITIA Reunion Concert and Fundraiser, spearheaded by co-creators Jon and Marsha Zazula, raised over $40,000 in proceeds for Superstorm Sandy relief on Saturday at the Encore Events Center in Freehold NJ. 1,800 people attended the show, which sold out in advance and kicked off with a once-in-a-lifetime meet & greet opportunity for longtime fans. Attendees witnessed remarkable performances by Twisted Sister, Anvil, Raven, The Rods, TT Quick and Lords of Mercy, and an all-star jam closed out the show, featuring surprise appearances by JD Deservio of Black Label Society and Snake Sabo of Skid Row.

That Metal Show’s Eddie Trunk MC’d the show, with appearances from comedians Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson will add their brand of Metal humor. Raffle prizes included signed items donated by Metallica, Slayer, Raven, and Anthrax.

Charitable efforts were headed by Tattoo Tony Rodriguez of the Under My Skin For Life Foundation. Hundreds of families in New Jersey and Staten Island will be visited by Jon and Marsha Zazula and personally handed gift cards to Home Depot to help in the restoration of their homes devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

“We’d like to thank all of the amazing fans and friends for coming out to the show and helping support the effort to raise money for victims of Superstorm Sandy,” add Jon and Marsha Zazula in a statement. “The event was a huge success and we couldn’t have done it without the support of the community. Thank you to the bands for putting on a killer show. We couldn’t be happier with how the event turned out and we can’t wait to give back to the community. Special thanks to John Albino, our production manager, for an incredible job, Adrenaline PR for powering the event with a multitude of press, and thank you to Chris and Patty Homeny for keeping the flag flying. And of course, Rockin Ray and Metal Joe for all their invaluable input.”

The Old Bridge Metal Militia rides again… for Sandy victims

Back in the 80’s, there was a group of hardcore metal fans in New Jersey who called themselves the OLD BRIDGE METAL MILITIA. This group of guys (and gals!) devoured metal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their favorites? An up-and-coming outfit out of Northern California called Metallica… along with Raven from England, Anthrax from NYC and other bands, like TT Quick, Manowar, Anvil and so on. Most of the bands were signed to a fledgling record label called MegaForce, helmed by “The Lone Rager,” Jonny Z and his awesome rockin’ wife Marsha.

Decades have passed– but the Old Bridge Metal Militia is STILL rockin’ – loud, proud and with HEART. OBMM members have teamed up with MegaForce, Rock ‘n Roll Heaven (THE metal record store – they lent me many a record for my metal radio show way back when), and Adrenaline PR (successfully run by Maria Ferrero, one of my favorite metal minds– and a good friend for many years) have teamed up to present one huge rockin’ show to benefit victims of Super Storm Sandy, who are STILL trying to get their homes and lives in order, nearly *seven* months after the storm caused so much devastation in NY, NJ and beyond.

THE ROCK ‘N ROLL HEAVEN and OLD BRIDGE METAL MILITIA REUNION SHOW takes place Saturday, May 11 at Encore Event Center in Freehold, New Jersey. Bands scheduled to perform include:
Anvil
Twisted Sister
Raven
The Rods
Lords of Mercy
…and more

For more information– or to BUY TICKETS – follow this link!
If you’re already going, share your pix – so we can live vicariously through you. If you can’t attend and would like to help out, click here for donation information (scroll to the bottom of the story)
METAL MILITIA

Early reviews for STEEL GODDESSES!

I am very blessed to have received some favorable reviews for my first novel.

Let me share some with you:

“What Rupert Holmes did for big bands with Swing, Ann Brandt does for the heavy metal set. A mystery with great characters in a vivid setting pulls me back to a misspent youth I wasn’t brave enough to have. This is a page turner, ideal for adding some spice to a relaxing day on vacation. A whole bunch of fun to read!” ~ D. Dyte/Brooklyn, NY

“I loved this book! The characters are three-dimensional, the plot is engaging, and the background details pulled me right back to my “misspent” youth in the 1980s. A fast, fun read with surprising twists that will leave you thinking. If you’re old enough to remember the 80s, you’ll love it. If you’re not, this book will show you what the heavy metal scene was like “back in the day”. Highly recommended!!” ~ Patricia P. McKay

“From Ms. Brandt’s description of each character to the juicy story line, this book sucks you in from the beginning and doesn’t let you go until the very end. For anyone who experienced the 80’s metal scene you will definitely enjoy this book and possibly get a chuckle from your OWN reminiscing during this glamorous rock era. For everyone else, this is a colorful and highly entertaining glimpse into one of rock ‘n rolls most sexiest times. You won’t be disappointed! I guarantee, once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down.” ~ Kimberly Ring

“What are the motivations behind the behaviors of groupies? Ann Brandt aptly bares the souls of her characters layer by layer, keeping her readers enthralled with her behind-the-scenes look at Steel Goddesses and what makes them tick. Be careful what you wish for…

The antics of the band members, though some might say are stereotypical, ring laugh-out-loud all-too-true to any woman who has ever spent enough time around Rock ‘n’ Roll musicians to have first-hand knowledge of their off-stage performances.

As Brandt reveals the Machiavellian machinations of the man behind the scenes in much the same way she does her Goddesses, by the time I had enough pieces of the puzzle to figure it out, it made my skin crawl… At one point, “There but for the grace of G-d go I,” was actually said aloud to an empty room.

Even for readers who have never been around the scene, Ann Brandt’s page turner, Steel Goddesses, provides a wild ride! Get in, sit down, shut up, and hang on!

Meanwhile, this reader is standing in line for the next book, ready to go for another ride and holler, “WHOOOP!!!” ~ Camille Radloff

Remembering Pete Steele (1962 – 2010)

(Originally written April 15, 2010)

Today, I made Type O Negative/Carnivore singer Pete Steele my “80’s Metal Hunk of the Day” at Facebook. Moments after posting the photo, I learned that Pete had passed away. He apparently suffered heart failure, although no “official” cause of death has been released.

I met Pete a few times in the 80’s. We hung around the same circles and clubs, so it was bound to happen. The first time I saw him, we were both at the same party. My friend Mary introduced us. After that, I usually ran into him in the Village. Once, we bumped into each other coming out of the subway near 8th Street. Another time, we bumped into each other going into D’agostinos. Once, we ran into each other at a leather shop. Okay, that time, I saw him through the window and went in. He had been trying on boots. I pretended to shop for a belt until he noticed me and struck up a conversation. I kind of had a crush on him and I think he knew. He always smiled this crooked half-smile when he saw me coming his way. (I found out years later that it’s not hard to tell when I like someone; it’s written all over my face). Pete never let on that he knew about my crush and he never failed to stop and chat, even for a few minutes, and hug me before he went on his way, long hair swinging down his back, his 6’7″ frame hard to miss, encased in black leather and denim.

It’s well-publicized that Pete had issues in his life; issues that may have sent him to jail and to the psych ward. I also know that those “issues” may have helped him make some of the most haunting music I’ve ever heard. He claimed to be an atheist when I knew him. I read that he turned to Roman Catholicism later in life.

Pete will be remembered for many things: his voice, his size, his sheer presence, whether onstage, in a music video or on a Greenwich Village sidewalk. Some may remember him for famously baring it all for Playgirl. But the Pete I’ll remember is the man who always had a smile, a hug and a few minutes of time for a naive girl who wore her crush for him all over her face.

THE Whitesnake Video

I was watching Pop-Up Video: 80’s metal edition the other day. If you haven’t seen it, you really should make time. It’s a fun walk down memory lane, peppered with little factoids you may or may not have known about your favorite hair band.

Anyway.

I had to leave the room for a few minutes and when I returned, the Hubby and Son were standing in front of the TV, mesmerized. Without glancing at the screen, I asked, “Is it the Whitesnake video?” The Hubby nodded. The Son continued to gaze, transfixed, at the TV.

Now, Whitesnake made a number of videos in its heyday. MTV played all of them. But when I say “the Whitesnake video,” I’ll bet 98% of you can tell me exactly which video I’m talking about. For the 2% of you who don’t know, take a look:

I know many a guy who was enamored of Tawny Kitaen after seeing her… talents… in that video. Some may even know that she’s featured on another band’s album cover.

What 80’s metal video brings YOU to a standstill?

The Making of Steel Goddesses

The summer of 2009, I saw a lifelong dream come true when I became a published author. The road to publication was not as traditional as most authors’, but the result turned out the same way. “Steel Goddesses” is available for sale on Amazon.com and I’m working to get it into bookshops around the Seattle area.

“Steel Goddesses” focuses primarily on three women and the paths they took to achieve their dreams during the early 80’s, when heavy metal was in full swing and L’Amour was THE preeminent rock club for up and coming metal bands to play in the New York City area, and possibly, the US. White Lion was a fixture on the stage at the time. So was a little band called Metallica. Raven, Anthrax, TALAS (Billy Sheehan’s first band), Exciter, Anvil, Yngwie Malmsteen, Loudness, Blue Oyster Cult (as “Soft White Underbelly”), Stryper. The list goes on and on. Bands that were big at the time (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motley Crue) didn’t play at L’Amour, but bandmembers sure hung out there.

I was lucky to be part of the scene during that time and took in my share of bands, some more than others (I’ve seen Metallica so many times, I’ve lost count). I also met my fair share of “interesting” people, including some of the most hardcore groupies I’ve ever seen. I’ve taken all of those experiences and rolled them into a novel that is aimed at being both nostalgic and entertaining.

“Toni” is kind of like a Queen of the Groupies. I introduce a pimp-like character called Marius Man, who runs a sort of “heavy metal harem”. As their leader, Toni pretty much gets her choice of any guy who plays at L’Amour. Business being what it is, Marius orders Toni to recruit more groupies, in order to spend one night with a man who has been out of her reach – a hunky guitarist named “Don”. This is where the fun begins.

Toni begins grooming “Rusty”, whose sole dream is to land a rich rock star as a boyfriend. Naive and extremely stacked, Rusty makes it a point to follow Toni’s every instruction to a “T”, with bittersweet results. Toni also tries to groom “Kris”, a legal secretary trying to pursue a dream to be a rock journalist. But Kris has no intention of becoming a groupie, even as she harbors a secret crush on “Marty”, singer for one of the biggest metal bands around.

Toni schemes desperately to get both girls on board, but seems to hit obstacles everywhere and each girl ends up taking a life-changing detour.

If you want to read more, here is the link to “Steel Goddesses” on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Steel-Goddesses-Ann-Brandt/dp/1434858553/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_2

Enjoy.