Saturday, May 31, 2014

Vlad V at Chelmsford Local Author's Day

The Chelmsford Library hosted a Local Author's Day, and I dropped by to see the new talent, and find out about their books.

Terrific author Vlad V was there, with family, friends, and new fans to support him.

Kathy Cryan-Hicks from the library introduced him.

And he read from the first two chapters of The Button, a science fiction thriller.

Excellent crowd for a sunny Saturday.

And the celebration, with signing after, and the mugging.
That's author Ursula Wong on the left, whose debut novel Purple Trees just came out.
And I met fellow Sister-in-Crime  Connie Hambley, who's published an exciting thriller, The Charity.
I picked up a copy, so will let you know how it is. Looking forward to a great read!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Amazon and Hachette- Godzilla vs. Mothra

With so much stupid in the world and on the Internet- even more so lately- it's tough to pick out just one thing to comment on. But here goes.
It's a long one, because The Stupid, like The Force, is strong in this one.

Many folks are up in arms because a Big Publisher (Hachette) is engaged in a business struggle with Amazon. Two multibillion-dollar corporate giants duking it out to see who gets a bigger piece of future pie. So what? You might say.

Well, their struggle is affecting others, most notably the writers who signed contracts with Hachette. These voluntary indentured servants are now screaming that Amazon is evil and mean, and the poor writers won't be able to pay their mortgage anymore, and the world will perish in flames.
Well, maybe not all of that last part. But pretty close to it.

And the media hops on the Amazon-bashing bandwagon, with more stories echoing the lies and distortions. And people who get paid big bucks by the huge publishing conglomerates speak out against Amazon with ever-greater hyperbole and mouth-frothing, which also gets echoed, since the big publishing corporations have big media mouthpieces. They shriek that Amazon is killing literature, culture, and democracy, Jeff Bezos is running the Death Star, and we're all going to die, because Amazon kills books (and possibly writers)!

The stupid... it burns!!!
Not exaggerating much here. Go ahead and Google Amazon- Hachette and start reading. Site links at bottom, just as a starting point, where you can find further links and commentary.
But bring plenty of popcorn, because it's a dumbfight of epic proportions.

Much of this stems from a malady called Amazon Derangement Syndrome (ADS), in which the sufferer feels their livelihood is threatened by a popular e-commerce site open to all. So they go a wee bit crazy denouncing the evil Zon and everything they do (like giving convenience, lower prices and a chance for publication to many).

So let's explore the current situation. Hachette and the other Big Publishers failed in a previous attempt to force Amazon to raise their prices-- the Department of Justice took a dim view of that little failed collaborative coup. Search on DOJ- Agency model.

Hachette is now trying a new tactic, kind of like a 98-pounder trying to out-muscle a Sumo wrestler. We don't know all the details, but Amazon responded by removing the pre-order buttons from some listed Hachette books. And set the online price of some Hachette books to the actual price on that book! Heavens!

Cry Havoc, and let slip the dogs of war...

Some Hachette authors went publicly bananas. Because with the Big Publishing model, an author only has a few weeks to make a splash with a new book. A pre-order (popularized by Amazon, how about that) is thought by some to be an important tool to garner sales velocity for a new release. So they thought their book was impacted. And since the model of Big Publishing is to pay for a book based on sales on the last book by that author, these authors rightly figured they'd get paid less for future work.
Paid less by their publisher, for something that was the publisher's fault... but they're blaming Amazon. Huh?

It gets worse. A couple of them even went so far as to say their living was imperiled, and one implied he wouldn't be able to produce any more books. Sniff...
Yet between two of the most vocal Hachette advocates, they've got over 70 published books.
Over 30 books each, and they won't be able to pay the mortgage? WTF?

Welcome to the world of Big Publishing, who give nothing but peanuts to most of their signed authors. If either of these two authors went Indie and had even half of that published list under their control, they'd be laughing from atop their yacht.
Instead, they would rather work as fearful indentured servants who can be cut loose at any time if their latest book doesn't sell enough, for whatever reasons.
And one missing button can sink their career!

Normally, I'm on the side of authors, but not when they scream and do stupid stuff...

So is Amazon hurting authors? Their response was to make a huge, generous offer. Figure out the author losses, and Amazon would pay half, if Hachette would pony up the other half. Few million bucks worth of goodwill. Since Hachette doesn't really give a crap if their authors make money, they issued a weasel-worded release that pretty much indicated they weren't interested.
Are their authors publicly mad at them for refusing author money?
Nope, somehow Amazon is still the bad guy.

Someone likened this type of behavior to Stockholm Syndrome, where a kidnapped victim overly empathizes with their captors to the point of madness, refusing rescue and saying the captors are in the right.

So a lot of Big Publishing shills and spokespeople have gone public with blood-and-thunder speeches that remind one of Old Testament prophets. Trouble is, they're talking out of their ass. And even when corrected, they ignore the reality and spout their nonsense in the hopes that The People will rise up and fight for Big Publishing profits. The mighty mouth James Patterson, who puts his name on books written by other people, has taken to the pulpit once again to protest for Real Important Literature.
Q: When did ghost-written formula become Real Important Literature?

We get it- if Big Pub puts food on your table (no matter how rich or meager the fare), you hate and fear Amazon, which is the current market reality.
But to the rest of the world, your ranting is silly.
And if you really feel they are truly EVIL, put your money where your big mouth is and pull your damn books from Amazon- you don't have to do business with them, you know.
I don't support companies I feel are evil- why do you? Does sound a bit hypocritical of you...

How can you keep saying that when Amazon sells a book at lower prices, they're evil, but when they raise the price on that book, they're still evil? Seriously?

So-- let's blow up a few of these Big Pub talking points, shall we?

Big Pub dumb point #1- Fight the Amazon monopoly, they say.
In the words of Inigo Montoya, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
For the millionth time, dumbasses, Amazon is NOT a monopoly. Look it up, if you have to.
Just stop using that word, and that argument.

Big Pub dumb point #2- Sure, Big Pub abuses the hell out of authors and readers now, but that's okay, and you should instead be afraid that at some point in the future, Amazon may get worse!
Wow- the Stupid meter goes off the scale on this one. Fear what might happen, rather than what IS happening right now...

Say you walk a route to school, but a bully beats you up every day and takes your lunch money.
One day, someone offers you a different route for a small price, and lets you keep enough for lunch, without the beatings.
But the bully insists that you should stick with the beatings route, because you never know what the other guy might do...
And it's not fair if you take the bully's source of income away...

Big Pub dumb point #3- Higher-priced books are better for Big Pub, and therefore the way to go.
Yeah, we all know you charge too much for an ebook file, because you hate the competition for print books. You overcharge libraries especially, and you love your profits.
But we readers like lower prices, and you know who makes that possible?
Yeah, the one you keep calling the bad guy.

Big Pub dumb point #4- Big Pub are the Guardians of Culture and Literature, and only they should be allowed to judge what is worth reading. Because they're all about quality, and anything that doesn't go through them is nothing but swill.
In recent years, we've seen ever-worse examples of embarrassing, popular best-sellers put out by Big Pub that made them a ton of money. The books were horribly-written crap, that could have been made better with even a minimum of editing. Whereas there are countless examples of good books NOT getting published because they weren't thought commercial enough.
With limited exceptions, Big Pub relies on junk formula and imitative knockoffs.
And some self-published and Indie-published work is quite good, despite the snobbish sniffs from the self-appointed tastemakers. Can't find it if you don't look, however.
And there are thousands of books now making decent to great money that were refused publication by the Guardians. So I guess readers want what they want, huh? Go figure...

Big Pub dumb point #5- Amazon is killing bookstores! No it's not.
Bookstores are making a comeback. But back in the 90's Barnes and Noble helped to kill many independent bookstores with megastores and deep-discount pricing. Oh, look, now B&N is the darling of Big Publication! Because when B&N goes under, Big Pub won't be far behind.

And anybody remember when B&N was having their little tiff with Simon and Schuster, hurting author sales, very much like what is happening now with Hachette and Amazon?
So now B&N are the good guys? How very Orwellian...

Big Pub dumb point #6- Amazon just doesn't play fair! And that costs us money!
Your crappy, stupid business practices lose you money. You've had years to adjust, and you've done nothing but react badly and blame others for your lost market share.
Amazon is constantly adapting. They're smarter, more flexible, and treat readers and writers like customers they want to keep. You treat writers like a red-headed stepchild who should be grateful for the whippings you give them, because it shows you care.
And you act like you're entitled to forever massive profits for doing nothing.
You are a failing business model, so stop complaining that business isn't fair.

Darwin and Spencer made it pretty plain. Adapt or die off.
And please, stop whining.

Great sites talking about this- and read the comments!: (a number of posts on this and related)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Foxboro Craft Fair Signing

We had a great day on the Foxboro Common, signing books with authors Stacey Longo and Vlad V. and Jason of Jason Harris Promotions.

Sold some books, made some new contacts, all in a fun outdoor venue.
Thanks to the Jaycees for putting this together.
Our wares

Jason below, large and in charge!

All connected...

Vlad, Jason, Stacey

Vlad, Stacey, Dale

Friday, May 16, 2014

Three Stories Out

To show what a hard-working writer I am, I've got 3 stories out in current publications--
and another tale in an upcoming issue of Beware the Dark.

The first one is my story KillerElla, featured in the inaugural issue of Trysts of Fate magazine.
Since it's the very first issue of this magazine, you may want to pick one up as a collector's item.
Just sayin'...

The second is Knife Edge, a story featuring Mt. Katahdin in Maine, out now in Over My Dead Body.
This is my third story in their publication- a great place for mystery and crime tales.

And my third one, Dead Man's Hand, is in Voluted Tales, an Australian publication.
That makes the third continent where I've been published!

Check them out- hope you like them!

I'll be at the Foxboro, MA Common this Sunday at their craft fair, signing books with the folks of Books and Boos, along with Vlad V. We got rain-dated out of Saturday, so hope it's better then!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Interview With Author William Rockwell

We're pleased to present author William Rockwell, and talk with him about his new release.

Q: So how did this novel come to be? Was it envisioned from the start as a bigger canvas, or did it expand organically out of an idea? Please tell us a bit about the origin.

Very often, ideas for novels come to me from events in my life.  My new release, Not Privileged to Know, a murder mystery and political thriller, started as an idea about a woman who’s lost her way in the world without realizing it.  My sister-in-law had passed away unexpectedly, and, as I tried to help my wife and family deal with this tragic event, the idea of a murdered twin, connected by more than birthday leapt into my mind.  So, I gave them a psychic connection.  When the twin is murdered, the protagonist, Corinne, is left alone for the first time in her life, and struggles to survive.  Because of the unfortunate political corruption in our leaders, I decided to add an element of this and, since conspiracy theories abound everywhere, I wove in a conspiracy.

Q: Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting?

I try to have both a beginning and a satisfying ending in mind before I tackle the meat of the story.  Without dealing out spoilers, the ending seemed to fit the character’s (supposed) resolution of some of her problems, while revealing the basis and parties behind the conspiracy. I don’t necessarily write from a full outline like many authors. I find it easier to use a very broad outline, filling in the missing parts, chapter by chapter, as I write.

Q: What do you feel is the main theme(s)?

Self confidence in dealing with seemingly insurmountable obstacles is the main theme.  After her twin’s death and lost connection with her, Corinne doesn’t think she can even continue her life, much less do anything constructive, but she is then confronted with having to try to solve her twin’s murder when the authorities close the investigation.  She, however, is not sure she can handle it, but must.  Trusting others also materializes in the story as Corinne learns she has aligned herself with the wrong people, and now must learn to trust new ones, but how can she choose?  She has no idea, but must learn if she doesn’t want to become the conspiracy’s next victim.  Excesses in life are evident in Corinne’s life, and she learns that these excesses have not only led her down the wrong path to true happiness, but may have even contributed to her twin’s death.
Also, True Love versus infatuation or superficial love.

Q: Why do you feel this is important, and what would you want a reader to take away from reading this book?
Besides Faith in God (Corinne had this belief, but had lost it as she succumbed to the temptations and pleasures in the secular life), one’s inner strength and support of those around us are all we have to support us in struggling with the problems of life. We also don’t know how strong we truly are until we face these struggles and find a solution to those problems, or have our friends lead us toward that solution.

Q: What makes a good book or engaging story?
A character faced with a quest, involving personal or a loved one's safety, or a threat to society as a whole.  If the hero/heroine succeeds, all is well, but the threat of failure must be present around every corner for the reader to continue to the next chapter.

Q: Are there writers with similar themes to yours? Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you?
Both Orson Scott Card and Alan Dean Foster have character-driven stories that entice one to continue to read, not only that book, but the subsequent novels with those characters as well.  I still enjoy re-reading Roger Zelazny and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  They have characters that never grow old, and books that demand re-reading.

Q: Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions? Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story?
Entertainment is always number one in my book.  If nothing else, the reader should enjoy curling up with one of my novels.  There is always a theme in my novels, however.  For example, my vampire love story, Generation Z, Birth of the Zompire, is a Good vs. Evil story with the Good represented by the Zompire (combination of vampire and zombie) fighting the Evil vampire, with all human society at risk.

Q: Any other goals you've set for yourself, professionally or personally?
I am a retired physician and love to travel.  I would love to travel to some exotic places and write a story with that place as a background.  I also would like to write some novels in the town in which I live (in Connecticut).

Q: Some writers write fast and claim not to rewrite much. Do you do this, or painstakingly revise? When you send the book off to the publisher, are you happy with it, or just tired of it?

I try to write every day.  I have the ability to read multiple books at one time, and I find I can write the same way.  That being said, I tend to write one chapter, and then go back to edit it once.  I may switch to another story, or next chapter, depending on how the mood strikes me.  Once finished with the novel, I re-edit it at least twice before sending it off for professional editing.  Even then, I will re-read the novel, checking for words that could be more descriptive or action packed.  This is the most painstaking part of my editing, and takes the longest, but makes for a better “read” in the end.

Q: Do you have good editors, and if so, how do they help you? Do they look for particular things? Do you have different people for different editing levels?
I have multiple editors.  One is great for story line and flow.  I get his edit back with entire paragraphs crossed out, or moved to another part of the chapter or story.  Another is great with words and their exact meaning.  This one gets it after my word editing. IE I had used fainting when I meant feigning, and missed it even with my word editing (done twice on this novel).  A third editor checks for grammar, although I usually pick up these on my own multiple edits.

Q: If a writer came to you for advice, how would you help?

Write every day, even if you don’t feel like it…even if only for 15 minutes, and don’t be afraid to explore new characters or genres.  It may expand your writing abilities and your reader base.

Q: Stories can be told by using a different medium. Can you see your book as a film, audio, etc.? How would that alter the telling?

I actually write every story as if it’s a film.  I see the action of the story, see the “actor” performing before me.  I think it brings the reader into the story as they read.  I would love to have one, or more, of my stories made into film. 

Q: What's the next step in your writing world?

I have another novel, a inspirational fantasy about Lucifer’s downfall in Heaven entitled, Heaven’s Conflict, The Rise and Fall of Angels, written, and plan to spend the summer with editors getting it ready for publication by Fall of this year.  Beyond that I have other novels (mysteries) planned for future years.  Then, there’s the sequels: both Not Privileged to Know and Generation Z, Birth of the Zompire, are the first of a planned trilogy.  I know what happens in both, and have multiple notes I will refer to, but have not outlined them beyond beginning, a few events in the middle, and the ending that I am shooting for.

Q: Any other information you'd like to impart?
I enjoy reading outside the genres I write.  I especially like submarine novels, either submarines in the future or one’s from WWII.  I think this is a good idea to keep an author’s mind fresh.  Of course, one has to read within your genre, and belong to organizations in that genre, but I (and presumably) other authors need to exercise their mind…like cross training.

Web page:
Where to buy: Directly from my website:
It’s also available from Amazon, and E-Retailers for E-Readers

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Seeing the Future

Over 20 years ago, a pair of authors wrote an incredibly prophetic book.
The One to One Future, by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, actually saw part of the future and told us what would happen. It was a marketing-focused work, but it examined the way people bought things, and how businesses dealt with those relationships.

It talked about market disruption and discontinuous change, which when properly handled, is the way we grow up. But too many business are terrified of any change (which to them means an uncertain future) and want to remain the same, well, forever. And we know this does not work.

Let's take the publishing industry, for one. Their way of doing business has blown completely apart, and some of them still haven't got it yet. They're doing what they did for a long time before. They think they can just add on a few ebook versions of their paper books and things will go on as usual.
They should read this book, and maybe some light would dawn- and note, it's 20+ years old!

The book says it's better to take products to customers, not customers to products (selling model for physical bookstores). If this sounds familiar, it's because it is the Amazon method, which caused enormous market disruption. Jeff Bezos must had read this and used it as a strategy planning guide. It's talking about putting the "store" on the home computer- years before this was a comfortable reality.

So cool to see someone write with accuracy on how the world is changing and to see it has come true.
Read this book- it will help you understand how the world has changed.

What things do you see for the future?