It’s the Details That Will Wreck You

via GIPHY

I hate it when I’m enjoying a really good book only to have the whole thing marred by a really foolish mistake. Without going into the title of the book in question, the part I’m talking about is a rescue of the main characters who’ve been tied up in a building about to be demolished. The rescuer uses a piece of glass from one of the windows to cut the ropes. There is only one problem. When a building is going to be demolished all of the window glass is removed to prevent a wave of shattered glass tearing across the city. Now, I cannot fault the writer and editor, who may or may not know that fact, but I can wonder why he or she didn’t do some research on building demolition to make sure some curmudgeon like me doesn’t come up and say, “well you know…” So let this be a cautionary tail, even if your book isn’t about building demolition make sure you get the real life stuff accurate.

Get Your Author’s Blog Going

I came across this article from the always informative  Anne R. Allen. The post: Your Author Blog: What Should an Author Blog About appeared this past Sunday and I urge you to give it a look. Even if you’ve had a blog for a while this could give you some more to think about and may help you recharge it. I’ve had this blog for a couple of years now and found a thing or two I could use.

Scalpers Suck

Nintendo SwitchTypically when you mention scalpers images of $500 Guns and Roses tickets come to mind. As much as that pains me there is also a new type of scalper that really sets me off. Last week Nintendo released their 7th home console in the US, The Nintendo Switch. Almost immediately, and as little surprise to anyone who hoped to get one of their Classic NES consoles this Christmas, the pre-orders disappeared as soon as they posted. When release day came, lists of Switches for sale filled eBay and even Amazon.com with one minor difference. They all ran at least $70 more than the suggested retail price. To the bystander, it looked as though every one of those pre-ordered systems was now being cashed in for a quick 100 bucks. Unlike with concert tickets, it is all free and legal.

On the one hand it makes sense for sites like eBay to welcome these sales as they get a commission on each one. The harder question is why a site like Amazon would allow it. Well, that isn’t to hard to figure out either because they also get a cut of the sale. So it makes sense for them. Hell they probably made 8 or 10% on the original sale so if that person turns around and puts it up they stand to make another 15% on that sale as well. As an adult it’s easy for me to say no thank you and wait for the item to return to stock at its original price. An adult with a kid will have to figure out how much their incessant whining is worth compared to the hit on their wallet. I urge you, resist. As long as people are willing to pay inflated prices for the convenience of being the first to own this practice will only continue, and dare I say worsen.

The Day I Canceled My Sales Tax License

sales use taxThis week found me in the predicament of needing to renew my sales tax license with the state. Plus I was already spending 44 cents a month to mail in a form to one of the cities to report that I have nothing to report. So I’ve decided to cancel all my licenses. I really wasn’t selling many books anyway. In addition the prices for tables at events have increased to a point where I just never saw myself selling enough books to break even. The hard part is, for a self-published author, your best bet at selling your books is to get out there and make those one on one connections with readers. In the process of that I’ve learned I’m not a very good sales person, at least not concerning my own work.

I like to tell myself that I can now concentrate more on my writing and less on worrying about selling enough books to make up the cost of getting out there to sell my books. Still it feels a little like giving up. Such are the decisions we face and the second guessing that goes along with them.

Steps For Avoiding Overwriting

This was a great post from The Creative Pen on how to avoid overwriting. I know myself, I am guilty of this from time to time, and from time to time I like reading works whose writing is thick with description. Then again I am really turned off by works where I am just wading through piles and piles of prose, cough Cryptonomicon cough. Somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot. The good news is you aren’t going to get there overnight, but persistence with a good bit of editing will see you through. http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2017/02/18/avoid-overwriting/ 

Doomed By Self-Publishing?

This was a great little piece I found on Janet Reid’s blog. Will Self Publishing Doom ME? I think it is a question facing many new unsigned authors. I have fielded a few myself and I never felt that I have doomed my writing by self-publishing. Notice I didn’t say career, my career is still in the library, mostly because I am not that good a sales person. You know self-publishing is only the first step. To have any measure of success you need to invest time and money into marketing and selling your book. You need to make contacts and pound the bricks. None of these are my strong point so I’ll just bask in the reviews and good word of mouth my books have afforded me and put off worrying about stellar numbers. Follow this link to read Janet’s take on this question: http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2017/02/will-self-publishing-doom-me.html

Villainous Thoughts

The good guy may get the girls but it’s that bad guy that keeps the pages turning. I find writing a compelling villain is tougher than a book’s lead character. Male or female it is that villain that will be the measure of how good your protagonist truly is. Even when that antagonist isn’t a person, you must write about their actions that the reader can make no mistake about their villainy. Myself, I like cunning villains more so than overly powerful ones. I also like villains who have a morality too. Huh?

Think about it this way, in Marvel’s X-Men, Magneto is the villain to Charles Xavier. Yet all Magneto is interested in is the well being of his fellow mutants and protecting them. His methods vary drastically from Professor Xavier’s, but the moral compass for both points in the same direction. The challenge in writing about a character such as this is making sure that his or her actions remain true to that morality.

Another fun type of villain is the off the rails amoral variety. The sheer chaos of writing for one of these characters is demanding. Still the end result can be very rewarding as your hero rises and meets every nefarious deed. Yet all is not lost even for these types of villains. I’m thinking about Godzilla here. Obviously he or she was the villain of the first movie in 1954 but latter movies would see the unstoppable force of nature become the hero protecting humanity. That he or she had to destroy half of Tokyo to do it is another matter.

In both these examples you can have a wide range of villains that combine components of each, though like I said before I like my villains morally guided if not socially minded.

Something From the Intranet – L. Ron Hubbard

I came across this piece today on author and Scientology creator L. Ron Hubbard. I had read Dianetics back in the eighties as my first and only foray into his writing. Whatever your feelings of Scientology or Science Fiction for that matter the name Hubbard is one inextricably linked to both which makes this an interesting read. https://longreads.com/2017/02/01/xenus-paradox-the-fiction-of-l-ron-hubbard/

For Information’s Sake

Those who know me, know that by day I am a librarian. You may not know that librarianship covers a wide range of disciplines. My main draw to librarianship was, and still is, studying how people interact with information. The events of the last year have really given me concern over that choice.

Recently we’ve been beset with information to the point that we can’t possibly take the time to process and evaluate it all. Worst of all we have taken to tuning out any information that would give us cause to reexamine our opinions. This is anathema to everything I’ve worked for and stand for as a librarian.

As I see it there is no such thing as fake news. There are facts and there are conjecture. Willing one to be the other so that your opinion is validated is the utmost in ignorance. Yet we accept this every day. Have you seen Facebook? Why is this? Is it just that much easier? Do we need so much validation that we are perfectly happy locking ourselves in our own echo chambers oblivious to when we are being lied to? Then again that just may be my inner librarian talking, but at times this is what it seems we have fallen into.

The academic in me is interesting to see how this experiment plays out. The librarian in me screams at every meme that passes disinformation off as fact. Never mind truth, because that is often in the eye of the beholder. A democracy lives or dies on the ability of it’s people to make informed choices. Sadly I  fear information has taken a back seat to opinion. Until that is recognized we can only slip further into our self defined fog.