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I Need Your Help [Dec. 4th, 2009|02:25 am]
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This is going to be a long, semi-coherent post.

I am tired, and am recovering from a nasty flu that hit mom, then me, right after Thanksgiving.


Remember same time last year, when I was going through financial and medical family hell due to threat of foreclosure and other long-standing issues?

Remember how so many of you generously and kindly came through for me and my family in the helpvera community donation drive? How you raised thousands of dollars, and as a result bailed me out, and I was able to pay off the three months backlog of my mortgage and the rest went to replace the flooding sewer in my back yard?

Remember how great everything was?

Well, since then, Countrywide, which became Bank of America, took my (your) money, and then DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to modify my loan and my RIDICULOUS outrageous monthly payment that I had been begging them to modify for the second year running.

I was getting naturally behind again, and was in absolute limbo. Paying BofA partially, as much as I could, every month, never knowing what the HELL was going on with my loan.

They only kept on leading me on, promising me, telling me to wait, after hundreds of phone calls and escalations from rep to rep, to VP, back down to loan negotiator, to another negotiator, to rep, ad infinitum.

In the meantime, the economy crashed, swung down, slightly up, months dragged into more months, etc.

I faxed the bank my "financials" (regular statements and income paperwork) four (4) separate times and FED-EXed it once in the stretch of 12 months, only to be told they are processing it and to WAIT, because I had, according to them qualified for the Obama program.

I waited and waited. In the mid-summer I got a significant business loan from a kind private party to hold me out for the rest of the year and a half at least while regular income was solid but growing very slowly and not enough to cover the extra business expenses such as urgent advertising, marketing, and promo that I needed to do desperately for some of the special niche titles my small press was publishing. I was once again fine, and would have been fine now and all of next year if not for...

wait for it....

Out of the blue, for no specific reason, an immediate threat of foreclosure.

Yes, suddenly, in the end of the summer, I received a BofA foreclosure threat unless I come up with my delinquent portion of the once-more-behind chunk of the mortgage over the last 6 or so months.

I panicked.

And, to stave off foreclosure, I used the WHOLE of my remaining borrowed money, the financial cushion that was supposed to last me and my business for over a year of overhead expenses to pay off MOST (just most, not even the whole, that's how huge the amount I was behind was) of what I owed Bank of America, on a small 3 bedroom, 1.3 bathroom tract house in an average Los Angeles suburb -- a house that was now OVER $100,000 underwater in terms of equity.

The foreclosure status went back into the less dire status of LIMBO.

Except, now I was again stripped of all safety and beyond.

I was back to nothing, again poised between the pit and level ground.

They took my financial cushion of 1.5+ years worth of safety.

The bastards robbed me, JUST AS I WAS DOING FINE AGAIN.

So... desperate from struggling for so long, so many unrelenting years of work and hell (mom's cancer, father's death, starting the business, my own health, etc), with no respite, not knowing what else to do (I cannot work outside of the home because I am a fulltime caretaker of my cancer patient mom who is dependent on me and homebound) I decided to take a wild risk of a different kind...

At the end of July, I took 3.5 months of my life, of already non-existent time, dropped all other regular work to write a book.

I wrote Mansfield Park and Mummies.

You have all heard of the best selling Jane Austen monster mash-up phenomenon Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and its followup Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, right?

Go click right now on their links to see their incredible Amazon rankings.

Who the ^&@!#$%^!! is buying all those copies?

Well, I took Jane Austen's Mansfield Park original text and expanded it with particular subtlety, keeping the true Austen voice and flavor, and added my own portions that closely paralleled the Austen stylistic mannerisms, wit, cleverness, and a great comic horror-fantasy storyline that (unlike the other mash-ups that are more of a "Frankenstein patchwork around the joints" kind of job) fit very smoothly and seamlessly into the Austen story. In addition, I "massaged" the original Austen prose, not leaving a paragraph unturned, sentence to sentence, clause to clause, to invisibly update and subtly make it more palatable to the modern reader.

In short, I wrote my own more "classy" monster mash-up, and I gave it MY ALL.

I worked my ass off. I HAVE NEVER LAUGHED SO DAMN HARD AND LONG as I had writing this book. There is humor and romantic tension and wacky monsters of all sorts, and true love. There is the Brighton Duck...

I even illustrated it, and basically did everything short of chewing up the pulp to make the paper it was printed on.

My book is out right now, and is available everywhere online. And if you ask the brick and mortar bookstores and libraries, they will order it for you.

And here is where you come in.

I am not asking anyone for a donation -- I am not even asking for you to buy the book -- you all already helped tremendously last year, and I have no right to expect anything more of any single one of you in this wonderful, kind, generous community.

What I need DESPERATELY is to get the word out on this book.

I need word of mouth. And I cannot get it on my own.

After YEARS of STRUGGLING in so many ways...

I am tired.

I am ill.

I have no financial resources to send out review copies beyond a handful.

I have no posse to act in great numbers on my behalf.

I have no energy to write intriguing posts to raise my blogger status and to gain admirers... and because I have no life to speak of right now (for most of the last 4 years), I have nothing to say worth blogging (or things too personal or private, not suitable to be spoken). I don't even have the energy to make "cute trivial pleasantries" posts, such as describing what's in my beverage glass (watered down tea) or what I had for lunch (in most cases you don't want to know -- see, again, too sad or embarrassing to share).

I have no time.

What I have is desperation. And I am begging you all to tell everyone you know about this book -- on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LiveJournal, websites, forums, listserves, emails, and of course in real life -- at work, office, school, watercooler, library, house of worship, synagogue, church, temple, post office, concert hall, meeting, party, supermarket...

If only a tiny portion of that audience that is buying the Zombies and the Sea Monsters books finds out about this book of mine, I will have a regular minimal addition cushion of income that will solve my problems pretty much indefinitely. I will be able to start repaying debts and paying forward -- paying all of you.

I need the book to get noticed by THAT SAME AUDIENCE that's putting the Zombies book into double digits on Amazon.

Please, friends.

I am asking you to speak for me.

  • Open your mouth, tweet, type.

  • Mention it to a stranger on the train reading a book across from you (it might be Joe Biden).

  • Write the title on a piece of paper and leave it behind on the seat of a cab or at the airport seating area.

  • Leave the library public computer with its screen on the Amazon link to my book.

  • Go to a bookstore and ask the clerk about the book by title. If they ask if you want to order it, just say, no, but you were curious to see it, to browse it, since it's exactly the same kind of book as the Zombies and Sea Monsters one and you were wondering if they had it.

I am so tired right now (have been working on this post for the last three days) that I am probably forgetting all kinds of things.

So please, help me out. If you are a prominent blogger or online personality reading this, please re-post it to your own audience, or link to this.

And if your blog only has a couple of readers, please, friend, do the same, and I will be equally thankful.

Here is the official Mummies website with all kinds of information including Amazon and Barnes & Noble order links, and book covers, ISBN, descriptive text, and other goodies.

This book truly makes the PERFECT holiday gift -- for that finicky person who has everything, and for an ordinary person who likes and appreciates books, laughter, Jane Austen, parodies, oddities, good writing, and plain old fun.

THANK YOU, friends, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you to all of you who have ALREADY HELPED SO MUCH, and to all of you who are helping anew.

This is not just a book release.

This is the last straw to keep me going.

* * * Edited to Add: * * *

If you've actually read the book, your Amazon Reviews will be much appreciated!

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[User Picture]From: upstart_crow
2009-12-04 11:13 am (UTC)

Is there anything at all we can do as far as the bank is concerned? Like calling them and demanding to know why they lead you on? That is so unbelievably ridiculous and wicked.
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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-04 11:51 am (UTC)
Thanks, and I am not sure what to tell you as far as BofA. I've called so many numbers and people there to no avail, and a lot of passing the buck and voice mail. I even Tweeted their special Twitter rep who got me through to a VP, but the VP who gave me temporary hope passed me on to negotiators who then, as weeks stretched into more weeks and months, passed me to lower ranking ones, and finally they last one would not return my calls. And the original VP? Her number was no longer working a of a month ago, it's been so long, I bet she no longer works for BofA.
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From: pauljessup
2009-12-04 01:26 pm (UTC)
You're not alone. They're doing this to most of their "customers" right now. NPR did a piece on it:

from the article:
""I see everyday people who are denied for loan modifications where we don't quite understand what the rationale is behind it," says Mark Pearce, a deputy banking commissioner in North Carolina who is part of a nationwide foreclosure task force.

Pearce says it's not just Bank of America; banks are making these decisions inside a black box in their computer systems. It's not transparent.

What's more, he says, homeowners often aren't told why they don't qualify. "Oftentimes we find that the rationale is that the paperwork didn't get filed, or they lost a document, or they needed updated financial information and didn't get it," Pearce says.

A lot of people think the banks are just overwhelmed by the millions of people who're in trouble, and that they haven't put the right technology and training in place. Others think the banks may be skeptical that these modifications are actually going to work. Whatever the reason, Pearce says, even now, a couple of years into the mortgage crisis, the systems to prevent foreclosures often seem scrambled."
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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-05 10:45 pm (UTC)
But Paul, I was NOT denied loan modification, that's the whole bizarreness of it.

They said I am the exact right kind of candidate for it, I have been approved, and they are processing my paperwork and sent it off to the Obama program. And I am to wait.

Except, this has been told to me over and over, for the greater part of a year.
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[User Picture]From: cathshaffer
2009-12-04 01:38 pm (UTC)
I will order a copy today, and I look forward to reading it. Also, I found this link, which may be an idea to keep you in your home, even after foreclosure, if it comes to that:


It's a program by Fannie Mae for homeowners to become renters. Not as good as retaining ownership, but better than being kicked out.
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[User Picture]From: fledgist
2009-12-04 04:34 pm (UTC)
Me too.
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[User Picture]From: shsilver
2009-12-04 01:59 pm (UTC)
Does the state of California have a consumer's advocacy office that might be able to help?
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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-05 11:17 pm (UTC)
At this point in my life I am too bone-weary to find out. (And too busy with day to day things such as taking care of mom, dealing with old sick animals, and the publishing work, and not collapsing from exhaustion myself, and often failing, etc.)
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[User Picture]From: shadesong
2009-12-04 03:11 pm (UTC)
Boosted signal. *hug*
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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-05 11:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It is exactly what I am asking for, THANK YOU.
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[User Picture]From: house_draven
2009-12-04 03:25 pm (UTC)
Signal boosted. I wish I could do more, but we're terribly close to where you are. I wish you all the best.
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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-05 11:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you kindly! And good luck, and much strength to YOU too!
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[User Picture]From: capnflynn
2009-12-04 03:33 pm (UTC)
Posted to my journal and my Facebook. Hope it helps! (I want to read the book, too, so I'm going to ask about it when I make my next library trip.)
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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-05 11:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you, for everything!
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[User Picture]From: merriehaskell
2009-12-04 03:57 pm (UTC)
Are there any plans for a Kindle edition?
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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-05 11:33 pm (UTC)
Good question. And -- yes. :-)

My only problem with the Kindle is right now to learn the conversion process.

I need to convert the file properly (they are apparently very picky about the kind of text it needs to be) and go through the learning curve with the Kindle DTP publisher system.

I already went through their various startup guides, and am mulling over the info and digesting it.

It's hard when my mind is in such a weary quagmire, especially after the recent bout of flu, and the 3.5-months-of-intensive-writing marathon of this book ON TOP of all the other work I need to do on a regular basis, such as releasing other titles for Norilana Books (my publishing business) for which I've gotten behind schedule now, for the first time EVER.

For example -- the anthology Sky Whales and Other Wonders is already behind, it was scheduled for December 1 release date, and I am not done with it yet. I hope to have it done next week.
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[User Picture]From: mayamaia
2009-12-04 04:17 pm (UTC)
Out of some concern I must ask: have you looked into the copyright to make sure the Zombies guy can't get you for mimicing his idea?
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[User Picture]From: starshipcat
2009-12-04 05:13 pm (UTC)
Ideas cannot be copyrighted. Certainly not ideas at this fundamental a level.
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[User Picture]From: catherineldf
2009-12-04 04:56 pm (UTC)
Oh hon! Sending big sympathetic hug. :-(((
Boosted the signal and will be getting the book when I get home.
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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-05 11:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you!!!
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[User Picture]From: ethereal_lad
2009-12-04 04:57 pm (UTC)
I wish I could help monetarily, but I am not too far from your situation myself. I will signal boost this the Mummies book, though.
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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-05 11:40 pm (UTC)
That's exactly perfect, the kind of help I am asking for. Thank you for spreading the word! EVERY mention and support counts!
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[User Picture]From: txtriffidranch
2009-12-04 05:06 pm (UTC)
You've got it. I'm putting in my order right now.
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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-05 11:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!
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[User Picture]From: alaneer
2009-12-04 05:16 pm (UTC)
Bastards. I hate banks.

MPM was on my list; I'll just get it earlier.
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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-05 11:42 pm (UTC)
I share your feelings completely.

And -- thank you, kindly, and please spread the word!
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[User Picture]From: anderyn
2009-12-04 06:19 pm (UTC)
Will be ordering between now and Christmas. I had planned on it, but had a moratorium on book purchases between now and the new year. Hmmm. Maybe even a copy for a friend!

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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-05 11:42 pm (UTC)
I do understand, and thank you so much!
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[User Picture]From: arhyalon
2009-12-04 06:19 pm (UTC)
A judge in NY get so angry at a bank in CA that took bailout money and was hardnosing a client that he forgave the couples entire mortgage. (Reminded me of that parable from the Bible about the guy who gets forgiven 10,000 and then beats a servant who owes him 50.)

It will probably be turned over on appeal...but what a nice moment. Wish the government had thought to say "if you take bailout money, you can't foreclose any longer."

Congrats on the book!

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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-05 11:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And that NY judge story is very inspiring!

Please continue to spread the word on my book! And thank you!
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[User Picture]From: oracne
2009-12-04 06:54 pm (UTC)

And buying.
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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-05 11:44 pm (UTC)
Many sincere thanks on all counts!
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[User Picture]From: dsmoen
2009-12-04 08:08 pm (UTC)
Did you ever re-contact Knapp's office at BofA?

Ever file a complaint with the Office of the Currency Comptroller?

Edited to add: I don't personally have interest in MPAM, but I'll go through the rest of the list of books you've published and see what else I can pick up for Christmas.

Edited at 2009-12-04 08:10 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-05 11:46 pm (UTC)
I was going to, Deirdre, and then I fell deathly ill back in November -- not the flu that time, but with my usual stress-bleeding -- and then other problems came up.

Thank you for spreading the word on my book, it is exactly what I am asking. Much appreciated.
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[User Picture]From: monder
2009-12-04 09:57 pm (UTC)
You might look on Consumerist.com to see if they have any information on BOA contacts.
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[User Picture]From: blogofstench
2009-12-05 01:03 am (UTC)
I second this. Consumerist has also had some success publicizing consumers' stories and getting responses from companies; maybe this would help. Posting on LJ about MP&M....
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[User Picture]From: comrade_cat
2009-12-04 10:06 pm (UTC)
Good luck!!! I am spreading the word.
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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-05 11:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you SO MUCH!!
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[User Picture]From: starshipcat
2009-12-05 01:58 am (UTC)
Just posted on my book-review blog, pointing up why this one is more than just shoving some random monster stuff into an existing story, but an interesting fantastical take on a period in which Western culture's interest in Ancient Egypt was really beginning to take off. Don't know how many readers I'm getting there, but I also posted a link to it on my LJ, which may help boost its Google rank a little.
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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-05 11:48 pm (UTC)
Wow, that's a great blog post, fascinating different perspective, and THANK YOU so much! :-)
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[User Picture]From: deepforestowl
2009-12-05 02:19 am (UTC)
Twittered and Facebooked!

Have you thought about telling your congresspeople? Or going to the news? I can pretty much guarantee that if you do, BofA is going to all of the suddenly fix the problem because they are getting bad press. Good luck, can't wait to read your book! *hugs*
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[User Picture]From: upstart_crow
2009-12-05 04:53 am (UTC)
YES! Vera I agree with going to the news.
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[User Picture]From: kalimeg
2009-12-06 02:49 am (UTC)
GO HERE -- http://makinghomeaffordable.gov/

They scammed you, all right. Go to this web site and start working on what it tells you so it does not hit you a third time.
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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-06 03:50 am (UTC)
Thanks, and yes, I've been to that website many times.

However what I really am asking everyone is to spread the word on this book.
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[User Picture]From: ninstorage
2009-12-06 03:06 am (UTC)
Done. (twitter) and I will recommend in other places as well. I do hope things look up for you, it pisses me off that someone so talented and with so much to offer has to go through this.

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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-06 03:51 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for spreading the word, it's exactly what's desperately needed now! THANK YOU!
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[User Picture]From: quietselkie
2009-12-07 09:21 pm (UTC)
I've put some copies in my cart at the giant book distributor I use for my store, and have also emailed to ask if they can fast-track a few cases of them to the west coast warehouse so they'll be easier for the indies to get hold of out here. I'll be selling them in a bundle with the other two Monstrous Austens.
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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-09 12:04 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you SO MUCH! This is such a great idea, and I hope the people do buy the multi-book bundle! :-) Thank you!!
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[User Picture]From: norilana
2009-12-09 12:04 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!!
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