Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Well, lots of Interwebs talk about reviews.

Let's start with the Salon piece...

And then the New York Times article.

Which got link reposted by Do Some Damage, with more discussion.

These all bring up the new big questions about reviews. How much to believe them?

My writing group got to talking about it last night. I said I didn't post really bad reviews, that if I hate a book, I'll just ignore it. Someone else suggested that we have an obligation to post the bad reviews, to do our part as professional writers to weed out the bad books.

What do you think? Should we call out the crap in strong language? Or just ket the junk sink on its own?

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Neil Armstrong has passed away, the first known human to set foot on the Moon.

Let's just take a second to appreciate the extraordinary effort it took to send a trio of humans almost a quarter million miles into space, have a person walk on the (unknown composition) lunar surface, and return them safe and sound to Earth.

With 1960's technology.

In the middle of the Vietnam War.

So why did we stop? Been there, done that? Checked it off our humanity bucket list and moved on?

It was probably the last time humanity was united on anything.

It was a tremendous achievement, and one we should be proud of. So why aren't we doing more Great Things?

Oh, yeah, we'd rather kill each other and fight amongst ourselves.

In our own country, we savagely argue over which group of disaffected rich people will work for our destruction over the next few years. Instead of enacting public funding for elections, we allow monied interests to bribe their way in the lawmaking process, and all but a handful of us suffer as a result.

A great many people in this country profess to using the Bible as a guideline for life. Here's a quote all of us should start living by:
Mark 3:25
And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

Our greatest President, Abraham Lincoln, used this idea in an address given in 1858, in Springfield, Illinois, upon accepting his party nomination as that state's United States senator. This became one of the best-known speeches of his career (one that included the magnificent Gettysburg Address and his inaugural addresses).

But he lost that election. Didn't stop him, though, because he had a country to save, one that he felt so important that it was worth a bloody (un)civil war against itself to keep whole.

And now look at us. Instead of building a great nation and bettering life for its citizens (and all the people of the world), we waste our resources and moral outrage to needlessly butcher people (including many innocents) and blow up piles of sand in places few Americans can even find on a map.

What the Hell is wrong with us? Do we no longer deserve to last?

If we remain divided, we will not survive. Pretty pathetic ending for a people that managed to get to the Moon and back.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Sky is Falling (Again)

We constantly hear the cries from Big Traditional Publishing (BTP), telling how whatever new thingie means the End of Books As We Know It.

"Nobody's buying books these days!"--- Uh, yeah, they are, and lots of them. Sure, in these tough times there many be fewer people plunking down thirty bucks for a new formula hardcover, but overall, books are doing quite well.
BUT-- folks who want a good story need not support a big company with $29, while the producer of the work (the writer) gets $1, there are other options.
Writers can now deliver a good book for under $10, and keep a chunk of that for doing the real work.

"Amazon is killing us by being unfair!"--- People don't just use the online retailer for lower prices and convenience, they return for the great customer experience. Amazon has changed the game, no doubt about it. But the lumbering old companies want the clock rolled back to their distribution monopoly.

Writers put up books at Amazon and have enormous distribution and exposure. In many cases, the writer can make more money via that route than going to BTP. And get a book up for sale a hell of a lot quicker than BTP ever can. The way BTP is mistreating so many writers means more work-producers are leaving BTP every day.

"Ebooks are killing us by flooding the market with cheap crap!"--- BTP has tradtionally been in the business of pushing expensive stories on paper, with high costs for printing, shipping, and storage.
With ebooks, those costs have gone away, and a writer can get a book out for a few hundred dollars.

Of course, an easy delivery method has opened the floodgates to many new books, so yes, there's a lot of crap. But there's a lot of very good work as well, that would never have seen the light of day under BTP.  A writer can get editing for a good story, put on a good cover, and compete with the best.

It's the reader, the buyer who decides if the book is crap or not. I've read a great deal of BTP professionally-produced garbage, including NY Times Best-Sellers, so that's no guarantee of quality whatsoever.

And guess what? On Smashwords and Amazon, you can preview sections of the book to check the quality for yourself. You need not pay for crap when you can screen it out in a minute or two of sampling.

As a historical note, this isn't the first time we've heard the shrill cry that a new thingie will flood the market with cheap crap. Remember paperbacks? And yet, all these years later, we still have the sky where it is. Check out this article posted on The Passive Voice.

And for those who think writers won't make any money in the new world of publishing, a good writer now has a better chance of making money than any other time in history.

Why should we, who have spent many years learning craft give away our time and expertise?
Harlan Ellison said it best: "Pay the Writer!"

Monday, August 20, 2012

Book Talk

There was a recent article in Forbes, linked to at The Passive Voice:
Publishing Is Broken, We’re Drowning In Indie Books – And That’s A Good Thing

Some people are afraid that we'll have so many e-books we won't be able to find or get notice for good ones.
There are millions of print books. Many millions. How do good books get found?
There are millions of songs. How How do good songs get found?

Sure, traditional publishing will have to change its business model to survive, as have many industries in the modern age. This does not mean good books will go away. This does not mean we won't be able to find enough good books. It just means a different way for people to access books.


In publishing, the Joe Konrath site has a guest posting from a successful writer who capitalized on a fad.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I Got Sunshine...

Debbi Mack, NY Times Best-selling author (Least Wanted, Identity Crisis, and the new Riptide), is one of those writers who gives back to others.

And now she's nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award: http://midlistlife.wordpress.com/

It's a fun thing where you answer the questions below-- and then pass on the good vibrations by nominating ten blogs that bring a ray of sunshine into your world.
So … here goes:

1. What is your favourite Christmas/festive movie?
It's A Wonderful Life (Still gets me every time at the end, where Harry toasts "To my brother George-- the richest man in town!")

2. What is your favourite flower?

3. What is your favourite non-alcoholic beverage?
Coffee in the morning- smells like victory...

4. What is your passion?
Life. Think I've gone through several allotments already, and could use ten more lifetimes to do all I want.

5. What is your favourite time of year?
A perfect, crisp Fall day...

6. What is your favourite time of day?
Early mornings, with the mist still blanketing the world. All is still, peaceful.

7. What is your favourite physical activity?
Ahem!!! The G-rated answer is fencing.

8. What is your favourite vacation?
Last year, we finally got to take our daughters to London and Paris.

10 Blogs I like

Catherine Dougherty, author- The Life of a Middle-Aged Novelist

Kattomic Energy

Mysteries and Margaritas

Side Dish

Patti Roberts - Authors book reviews and interviews

Jennifer Pelland

Chuck Wendig-

Do Some Damage

The Passive Guy

Jane Haddam- Hildegarde

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Two-fer- Education Article- and Writer Interview

If you're interested in how we got to this point in education, check out the following article.

How The American University was Killed, in Five Easy Steps:

Thanks for the pointer from the brilliant and talented Jane Haddam, who's a writer, teacher, and philosopher.


In other news, there's a great (but too short) interview by Jeff Shear with writer Katherine Tomlinson of NoHo Noir fame (and former editor of Dark Valentine).

Monday, August 13, 2012

Radio Killed the Video Star

Today was my first shot as a guest on the radio show of David Tierney, who runs his show on 91.5, WUML.

We talked about my background, and writing. What I do, and how long I've done it.

It was a great start, and I'll be doing upcoming segments every Monday, from 9:50 to 10:10. You can listen via your computer or regular radio.

If you have suggestions for things you'd like me to talk about, send them along.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Working Through the Pain

It's been a tough time recently, so the posts haven't been as frequent. I've been dealing with a few different medical issues, and a terrible amount of pain. The medical "profession" has been of little use, except to assure me the problems aren't life-threatening.

Hah! Fat lot they know. Last night the pain was so intense, I'd have done anything to make it cease, so it was indeed life-threatening.

Consequently, didn't get much done yesterday.

Today was merely a dull ache, so I plowed through and got back to writing. Made some progress on book #3 of the Zack Taylor series, A Shadow on the Wall.

Would like to get back to health. This current situation sucketh mightily. Feeling the pressure of not knowing when the dials are going to light up is awful. And when it hits, it pretty much wipes out any other activity.

Other than that, though, things are okay, I guess.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

New Story

After a busy July, where I didn't get much new writing done, I buckled down this weekend-- and got a complete new story out, start to finish.

3600 words, and what I feel is a really good one. Am brain-tired but extremely pleased. Any time I can crank out a good story in two days, of a decent length, I'm a happy man.

Submitted it to the anthology Once Upon an Apocalypse.

And no, it's not a story about giant lobsters...