The Word That Shall Not Be Uttered

I was going to share this, then I wasn’t but now I figured I will. I ran across this post from Janet Reid’s awesome blog:

I think she covered this from a very interesting angle as a writer. I would like to add to the discussion what I think is the danger of having such verboten words. Think about it, what if you woke up one day and the word tumultuous was no longer allowed in print or speech? How would we ever describe loud confused noises? This could not be a worse example but just think on it.

I’m not making light of what this word represents, it’s history or inherent ugliness. I just wonder, should we as writers, be accepting of  a language with certain words that we cannot use at all? Especially when the feelings those words conjure could be otherwise conveyed? Now our responsibility is that should we use such a word we must be very clear in our context what the purpose of that word is. Remember words have power and when that power is abused there are consequences.

The Strange Thing About Stranger Things

stranger-things-bannerIf you’ve been anywhere near Facebook the last month or so you have probably heard about one of the greatest things to come to TV in a long time. Subscribers of Netflix have had the pleasure of watching a short 8 episode trip through the rabbit hole called Stranger Things. I’ll say now it is as good as you have heard. Just go watch it.

The strange thing my title is referring to is why aren’t there more shows like this? Not necessarily Sci-Fi, but shows that do everything right, story setting, acting and pace. In 8 episodes the writers and actors of Stranger Things managed to do what some shows couldn’t do in 24. And yet, this isn’t coming from a major network, but a video streaming service. Let that sink in. Would the brain trusts that run ABC, NBC, Fox or CBS have guts to give something like this a shot. Oh I’m sure now you’ll see an armful of shows in the not too distant future that will ape Stranger Things because that is what the heads of programing at these networks think people want.

Still, the point I am trying to make is, whether it is TV, Music, or Books, the next big sensation always seems to come from out of nowhere from the least likely place. This gives me hope, not just for my writing finding a home, but for the content that I love to consume. I don’t want the same reheated signed off on by focus groups stuff. I want epic earth moving content that is on the edge, makes me think, and even more makes me want to write. So thank you Netflix, you made my summer, as many I’m sure, will be remembering this as the summer of Stranger Things.

The Strange Case of No Man’s Sky

no_mansNo Man’s Sky is a video game developed by Hello Games that came out this month to very mixed reviews. The hype for the game had been very high as were the expectations. Most reviewers remark that the game does do some things very well but that it isn’t for every one. So why am I mentioning that here?

Well, for starters the game is billed as a procedurally generated exploration / survival game with millions of combinations of planets to visit. The consensus is that the game does this exceptionally well, but what it’s missing is a strong story to keep the player interested and moving forward in the game. The most common complaint I have heard is that after the first hour you get the feeling of, “been there, done that.”

Did you ever read a book with that same problem? I know I have. Sometimes, in the throes of writing, it is easy getting bogged down in the world that you miss the story. I think No Man’s Sky is a cautionary tale of the power of story. That’s not to say there isn’t one in No Man’s but for some there needs to be more. In a book it is the same way. You can only get so far with just the arc of your main plot. Each chapter will need it’s own arc, it’s beginning, middle and end that, while moving the reader along and setting up the next chapter, provides a satisfying reward for reading through it. The lesson here is always make sure that your reader has more than an interesting world, give them characters and drama and conflict. Intertwine the events of the story and let the drama reflect the world it takes place in. In doing that your readers will never get the feeling of, “been there, done that.”

Oh and in case you were wondering I am planing on purchasing No Man’s Sky as I am the kind of person who loves a lot of exploration in video games, just not in my books.

Scamers Will Scam 

conartistThis is an old story but one I just heard about.

In my books I usually place the table of contents in the rear to give sample readers more of the book. I never thought about using it as a cheap way to scam Amazon. The way it works is Amazon pays authors for the number of pages read through Kindle Unlimited. So if you have a link at the front of the book that takes readers to the back of the book, Amazon’s system counts all those skipped of pages as being read. It didn’t take long for scam artists to figure this out.

To combat this, Amazon has been flagging all books with the table of contents in the rear and letting those authors know that if they don’t move the table their book could be taken down. Pretty Draconian, I know. I would think looking for internal links in the first few pages would be more effective but then I don’t work for Amazon.

Truth be told this really doesn’t affect me as I only have one book on Kindle Unlimited and I’ve not really seen much money from it. Still it’s sad to see people taking advantage of the system. You could also argue that Amazon takes advantage of honest authors’ hard work but that’s for another post.

A Dry Spell

thorn_treeOne thing about living in the desert is you experience first hand that while a dry spell can come and last for a while, not everything dies. One good rain and soon there’s green all around you. This is a good thing for a writer to learn. I am in a bit of a dry spell myself. I’ve started a new novel but it’s not coming together as I would like. It may be time to shift gears onto something else.Then again if I just sit down at it for a little more I know I can get past this hump.

That’s not to say I don’t have anything new. The Fourth Prometheus is halfway through it’s first big edit and I have rough drafts complete of the sequel to Undead Heart, and a new novel, Midnight Detail. So, I guess after some furious writing I’m do for a little down time, though, I’m about ready for some rain.

The Cost of Self Publishing 2016

The great folks over at have answered the question, How Much Does it Cost to Self-Publish an eBook.

The costs are based on data culled from the Reedsy marketplace. You may find other prices elsewhere but for a good measuring stick their info graphic is a wonderful tool. One thing to bear in mind is that while you can spend more than is here and you can spend less, the important thing is that in an already crowded marketplace for your book to stand out you will need to spend some money. Now you know about how much.

Why You Should Read Weird Fiction

This is a great guest post from blogger Claire Quigley at Book riot. Why You Should Read Weird Fiction

My first experience with Weird Fiction was of course H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror. Following that I was hooked and soon started righting my own weird stories. As the post suggests, Weird Fiction works best in the short form. I think that is because you are able to maintain the sense of dread and uncertainty through the whole length of the piece. In something the size of a novel this would become unbearable about half way through and turn off many readers. Not that it can’t be done. You just have to work in increments and even then, to me at least, the end product is not as powerful as a short story. I urge you to click on and read the post and then try out something from the weird, you might find you like it there.

Another Cautionary Tale

I came across another excellent post from Janet Reid, I know these are intended to be cautionary tales but sometimes I find some of these humorous. At other times I get infuriated at the hole machine that has popped up to, “assist,” writers. You can waste a lot of money, money that would be better spent on editors, book formatting and cover designers. Just always remember there are no sure things, no corners to cut, and a sucker is born every minute.

You’ve Been Flashed

I’ve been away from this blog for a bit. Lazy, self-involved, or too much time in front of the TV you decide. So when in need of quick and easy content go with flash fiction. And here we are.

“I still can’t believe how easy it was to rip the head right off.”

Jace looked over at me. “Easy? Until I came upon you, you looked like you were going to be that thing’s dinner.”

I shook some bloody tendons off my gloves. “No way, I had him right where I wanted him.”

“One good thing about these flying Calamari is they go down easy once you get past the armor.”

I chuckled, Jace was half right, the armor was the hard part but the beings names were, as close as our scientists could translate, the Caljhieri. Where they came from, what they want no one can say. At any rate who even expected war to lead to better understanding.

Ain’t No Thing Like a Good First Line

I admit I’m a sucker for a good opening line. So much so, that I keep a notebook of ones that I come up with even if I don’t have a novel or story to go with them. I know someday I will. Writing first lines is fun but in the chronology of your work’s creation rarely fit in. Many times I have added or removed the first chapter once the rest of the work has taken shape. I was going to write more on them, but then I saw this post from Rachelle Gardner and figured I could do no better.

In the spirit of things I could add an own opening line I just came upon in my head: This would make a Hell of a first line for a book if it wasn’t happening right now, and to me.