Blog Re-Cast: Is Talent Overrated?

I will state this now, I am not a talented writer. I am a skilled one. My first few stories blew as many chucks as the next writer’s. I listened, studied and learned, and I still have more ways to go. For me, the first step in becoming a success at any endeavor is knowing and understanding what you don’t know. For more I suggest you read this great post from Anne R. Allen’s Blog – Is Talent Overrated? 8 Things That Are More Important Than Talent for Writing Success.

“We Will Need Writers Who Can Remember Freedom…”

Author Ursula K. Le GuinHere is a transcript of Ursula L. Le Guin’s speech at the National Book Awards. Her words touch a number of topics that I have worried over, primarily turning the book into a commodity by publishers and sellers alike. Funny in the middle ages owning books was seen as a indicator of wealth. We now have books written as a gateway to wealth no so much for the writers but for a whole crop of middle men and women. We all want to make money, who doesn’t, but at some times it takes a brave person to step up and ask what the costs are. Enough of me read the speech by clicking on this link.

Labeling Books

Would you read an R rated book, or how about a XXX one? Well CDs already have content labels, that parents ignore. Movies have ratings, again ignored by many parents. Even video games have a rating system, still largely ignored by parents. I guess it was only a matter of time before someone suggested that books need the same treatment. Don’t take it from me read the article. Then make up your mind and let me know in the comments what you think.

I tend to write stuff that is more violent than sexual but I find this idea reprehensible. Books come with descriptions, here’s a hint, read them. Who would be in charge of assigning these labels? How would this impact libraries? What about classic literature? Will those works be rated too? Will sellers have to see an ID to sell certain works? I am sure these questions won’t enter the discussion. It’s for the protection of the children right. Maybe I’m jaded but this just reeks of the culture nazis at it again. Hopefully this won’t go anywhere.

Projects Update

As fall gives way to winter, yes we notice that even here in Phoenix, I’m reminded of time going by. I decided to send out an update of what I’m working on. I continue working on writing my 10th novel, “Midnight Detail.” This week I crossed the 50 thousand word mark. It is all coming together now with the final battle among the vampires. It’s all action so the writing will go fast.

I am working through the first batch of rewrites for my Steampunk novel, “The Fourth Prometheus.” This is going great and I hope to have it on e-readers by the spring. Oh, and it will be in print to for those whole like a book in the hand experience. I had fun writing it and even more fun fleshing out the characters and making the action crisper. I’m thinking these characters have some more stories to tell.

My collection of short stories, “The Hole In Your Mind,” has seen some recent additions and some more edits on others. It’s really close to being done now. I should have it out by the end of winter. That is as long as I don’t keep writing stories to add to it. Oddly enough, this has nearly as many sci-fi stories as horror.

The sequel to “Undead Heart” is written. I am doing some edits on it before handing it off to my editors. The story of Larry and Tzgane takes them to whole new places. The werewolf pack plays a bigger role, hence the title, “Undead Heart By a Blood Red Moon.” I’ve asked my friend Chris Wilke to do the cover for me as he did with the original. I have envisioned this work as a trilogy but the third one is a ways off just yet. That is all that I’m juggling right now. Though, as my fellow writers know, that could change at any time.

Author Earnings October Report

This quarter’s Authors’ Earning report begins with an interesting examination on what Kindle Unlimited borrows can do for the author’s projected earnings. As for me I only have one title in Kindle Unlimited and have seen nothing from it. Still you should read through the report to get a feel for what is happening in the marvelous world of eBook sales.

The Best Advice I Had Not Heard Yet

interesting artI sometimes surprise myself when I come across great advice from the most unlikely of sources. Case in point, while watching one of my favorite video game reviewers, Zero Punctuation,  I came across this little gem of writing advice.

“Is this the most interesting period of your character’s life and if not why aren’t you showing us that?”

Now let that sink in a little bit and if you have heard it before kudos for you. I had never heard it, but now that I have I feel silly that I hadn’t come upon it in my own way. I know as a writer I can get bogged down in trying to convey to my reader all the machinations that went on in my heard to get my characters to this point. This information can be useful, even necessary at some times but it should not come at the expense of keeping the readers’ interest meter in the red. The good news is as the writer if these periods aren’t the most interesting I can certainly make them that way. Details are not interesting. Characters and events are. A simple rule and a helpful one to keep on an index card by your computer monitor.

This also leads me to the use of prologues. A couple of my novels (currently shelved ones if that says anything) do make use of prologues, but I find myself drifting away from them. Think of it like this. How would you feel if your significant other came home from work one day and said? “I have the most interesting story about something that happened at work today, but before that, let me tell you how I got the job in the first place.” Kind of a buzz kill ain’t it. Before the comments section fills with angry protests on the right to prologue existence there are times when the prologue can be a very effective tool and fundamental part of the work, but it must be interesting. That is after all the message of that little gem of advice above.

Google Flexes Its Muscle

google Google-iconIn an attempt to curb online piracy Google announced that it changed its search algorithm so that sites that point to pirated content appear deeper in search results. Okay. I guess. Many of these sites are nothing more than ad farms that make money the minute you hit their page so I would like to see less of them. If I am looking for information on a movie or some music I would rather see that information rather than someplace to download a free copy. Still, I have to wonder, is piracy so rampant, (if it is indeed as rampant as the studios would like us to believe), because it is available or because there is a breakdown in the value of content. On one hand we have a company like Apple handing out copies of U2’s latest. Granted they paid the band handsomely so this is not piracy but the message to the consumer is, “here is free music.” I mean if U2’s music is free why not Coldplay, or Katy Perry? Nearly every video streaming service entices you with either free months of service or a few free downloads. Again this only reinforces the idea, stuff on the internet is free. Intelligent minds should recognize these ploys for what they are but it would be nice if the sky rained M&M candies every once in a while too.

Another scarier thought is the power that this one company has over information. With just a few lines of code they can bury whole categories of websites. As Spiderman says, “With great power comes great responsibility,” but damn I hope none of my favorite sites get on Google’s bad side. Or do I? Web savvy users have long since known about the dark web, sites that do not appear in searches and can only be found by using their URLs. Google’s action will thwart the average Joe but the real internet pirate like the deep sea variety has his or her browser packed full of bookmarks and links to continue the hunt. In the end Google’s gesture may be just that, a gesture, but it should also remind us just how curated our information has become.

Great Time at the Sci-Fi / Fantasy Panel

audience at author panelThe authors and aspiring authors came, listened and asked questions. This was the first in what will hopefully be a regular event at the Think Spot at the Mesa Public Library Red Mountain Branch. The funnest thing about sitting on these panels is you never know which way the discussion will go. Sometimes it focuses on the nuts and bolts of putting a book together, other times it’s the ins and outs of publishing. Today’s discussion was an inspirational exploration of the creative process and writing habits. I think I may have wowed some with my admission to being a fan of writing in noisy crowded places. The room buzzed with energy and I felt my creative juices stirred up and ready for action. If you missed it, I hope to catch you at the next one. I know I am looking forward to it.

Rats On a Sinking Ship

To understand what I’m talking about read this article from Think Progress. 

Author’s United is just the big 5 publishers’ latest way to enforce their antiquated system. The irony is that practice that these authors claim the government should investigate Amazon over is the same one that Apple used to force their way into the digital content market with the iTunes store. I hate to break it to these authors, but this is not about censorship. This is about a retailer wanting to sell their items at a price that the market deems appropriate. $15 eBooks, just because you have $25 hardbacks to move is not supported by the market. Amazon knows this. Some authors know this but the publishers do not. It will be interesting to see where this goes. As an independent author I have a vested interest in rooting for Amazon, and, no, I am not at the least worried that $9 or even $5 eBooks will devalue my work. It’s a shame millionaire best selling authors do not have as good a view of their own work.