Thursday, March 28, 2013

Nothing In Particular

Really, I have nothing in particular to say.

2013 looks to be a promising year.  At least I hope so; there is a lot on my imaginary plate.
Somewhere over the next few days I intend to publish my next freebie, Diplomat Elanya.  I posted the raw cover art on the Facebook page if you want a peek.  I like the impact these freebies have, so you can expect me to continue.  I expect to release at least two more before book two launches.

Speaking of book two...  Wow.  One of the story lines took an odd turn and I blame it all the characters.  They just can't stick with an outline.  It may lengthen the story a bit, and change up how I originally intended, but with any sort of luck (and time), the book should be ready by August/September.  However, this time I really need to put something extra in the edits.

Editing...phew.  Look, I know Blood of Two had some issues (my wife told me so).  I haven't looked back since I published the book, but I am now having a change of heart.  At some point, you can expect a revision, not to the storyline, but more to address grammar issues.  I am sure there are more issues than I think, but I still want to tighten it up and provide my readers with the best quality.  This will likely happen around the release of book two.

Beyond book two, you can expect more short story freebies.  I do anticipate packaging the shorts at some undetermined point (maybe after 10 or 15 of them) and selling a hard copy of the collection.  Not for the money, (I make very little off paperback copies), but just to tie them all in a pretty package.

Beyond that, of course, is another book.  I'm liking this writing thing.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

No Reviews For You!

Let’s get this straight, before I go off on my rant: I like Amazon. I buy several items from them, including most of my reading material. On top of that, they are the key e-tailer for my books. My writing is sold through several different vendors, but Amazon has the broadest audience which translates into the most sales.

However, I do have a problem with one of their policies and how they implement it.

I ask my readers to write reviews, not only for my works, but for others as well. In turn, I feel it is my responsibility to write reviews also. Why?

1. I ask my readers to do it, so I should too.

2. As a writer, I crave feedback, so I assume others are the same.

3. I want to do all I can to support fellow Indie Authors.

4. A good book deserves praise.

5. A bad book deserves a bad review.

6. There are too many paid for reviews out there and the real reader needs to offset the bots.

Of all the reviews I have contributed, two of them were bad reviews, but all of them were honest reviews. Doesn’t matter. I received an e-mail from Amazon today stating that two of my reviews (the bad ones) do not comply with their customer reviews guidelines.

“Specifically, sentiments by or on behalf of a person or company with a directly competing product are not allowed in Customer Reviews. This includes reviews by authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product.”

Understand, I am not arguing the validity of this guideline. I like it, to a point. There are pros and cons to it, but the Customer Review is broken, and not just with Amazon. More on this later.

The problem I have: They only removed the two bad reviews. If Amazon was honestly removing my reviews because of the stated guideline they would have removed ALL of my reviews.

“…sentiments by or on behalf of a person or company with a directly competing product…”

If I am in direct competition with the authors who received my bad reviews, I am also in competition with the rest of them that received more complementary reviews. (by the way, I seldom give 5 stars…er, gave)

My reviews were removed because the author of the book that received my latest review complained about the one star he deserved. It stood in stark contrast to the many 5 star reviews he paid for. Just FYI, the book had an average rating of 4.2 on Amazon, while on Goodreads and Shelfari, its average rating was 2.

As I mentioned earlier, the customer review process across the Web is broken. It is no secret that companies pay for good reviews. Authors are no different. There are companies that sell reviews to authors. To achieve a four or five star rating on Amazon is easy; you just need the money to do it. This is one of the reasons I do not give five star ratings for anything, not just books.

Amazon is trying many things to combat this issue, but it is a losing battle. The only way to combat this issue is for actual customers to post honest reviews of products, be it a book or cellular phone. Right now, I believe the best way to find honest reviews of books is to find them on Goodreads. For the most part, the reviews appear honest.

Monday, March 18, 2013


There is a Jeep slogan that rings true in so many ways:

Life is Good.

I am fortunate.  For twenty-two years, my family has taken an annual vacation.  Our destinations have included such places as the Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain National Park, The Great Smoky Mountains, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and so on and so on.

In my mind, these vacations were one of the most important gifts my wife and I were able to give our children.  There is nothing quite like seeing your childs eyes light up at some of things we were able to share with them.  The cost of every trip was worth it, and we never had a bad vacation.  Rain or shine, we never had a bad one.

Vacation number twenty-three will be just the two of us.  I will miss the kids, but they have grown and have obligations.  So for our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, Teri and I will celebrate together, but not alone.  And what a trip we have planned!

It is still several weeks away, but our planning has reached an almost unbearable level of excitement.  This year we are straddling the motorcycle and going on a 3000 mile adventure.  A few days spent hugging the Gulf, another day in Ocala National Forest, a week at Disney World (anniversary dinner at Disney World), and a few more days of adventure all the way home.

Fortunate.  Fortunate to have the means for this adventure.  Fortunate that I have someone very special to go on an adventure with.  Fortunate that for 22 years, we were able to share similar adventures with our children.

Life is Good.

Let's go trippin!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fear of Technology

It seems that most of my discussions lately have revolved around writing.  Go figure.  That's what I have been spending most of my time doing; writing.

Computers are all around us.  If you are reading this, you are doing so via some incarnation of a computer.  Chances are, your car operates because of a computer.  Modern flat screen televisions utilize computers.  Your cell phone is a computer.  When you withdraw money from your bank account, you most likely do so through the use of a computer (ATM).  Cash registers have evolved into computers that make that nostalgic cha-ching noise.

So why so scared?

I work around a bunch of scared little people.  They have to interact with computers on a daily basis in order to complete their jobs, yet they want nothing to do with them.

Myself?  I embrace technology and wonder how I can make it work for me.  I constantly write programs to make my life, and others, easier.  That is just one of the many things I get paid to do.  So it only makes sense that I would seek help from a computer to improve my writing.  Right?

Wow, don't bring that up in the writing workshop forum that I was formerly a member of.

The computer is only as intelligent as the programmer.  As a programmer, I teach the computer to do what I need done so the task can be performed reliably and efficiently.

In the writing world, what needs to be done reliably and efficiently? 


I just felt several people from that workshop cringe.  Get over it.

Editing software does what I do (and will continue to do) reliably and efficiently.  I promise you, it will catch "now", when I meant "know" more often than I will.  Or how about "through" and "threw"?  I can edit a piece of work, much like my editing of Diplomat Elanya this last weekend, and still miss things.  When I dump it off to my editors, they will catch things and make notes, but they too will still miss things.  It is the way humans work; we are glorious imperfect beings.  We can scan a document and look specifically for "teh" and miss it a hundred times, a computer will catch it every time.

Editing software is just another editor.  I had three editors, now I have four.  Guess what?  I can ignore number four just as easily as I ignore numbers one, two, and three.

I don't want everyone's prose to be the same...
Seriously?  This is an actual line from a concerned writer.  Really?  This isn't the Jetsons where Elroy feeds an essay into a computer and the computer spits out an edited sterile dissertation.  Editing software offers suggestions (like a human editor) based upon data and algorithms created by a human.  You can accept the suggestions and make corrections, like you would with a human editor, or you can ignore the suggestions, like you would with a human editor.  The choice still remains with the writer.

By no means am I saying that every writer needs to use editing software.  I am saying that it is another tool available that has the potential to help you grow.  Just as Frank from Edits R Us can be another editor to use in your process, so can the computer.  It doesn't replace the human factor, it can't.

But, don't let your fear of technology hold you back.

And don't name your editing software Frank.  I already named mine that.

Shameless plug:
My short story The Leaf Pendant is available for free at most e-book sellers (except Amazon).  My book Blood of Two is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Smashwords, and a multitude of other e-book retailers.  You can also pick up the paperback (though it is a bit pricey) at Amazon.  Read it, rate it, review it, and most of all, enjoy it.