Showing posts from 2018

Is Amazon Unfair to Independent Authors?

Is Amazon unfair to independent authors?

Of course, I'm discussing here Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing platform or KDP.

I hope you don't stop reading at this point but I believe the answer is a firm yes...  and no.

The other day I was perusing through the Amazon bestseller list and noticed several kindle books at the top of the list that had a release date that was nearly a month away. In addition to this, each of the books had about 200 reviews. A later viewing showed books releasing at the beginning of next year with most reviews under ten. But still, they were all bestsellers already on the 2nd of November, 2018.

"How is this possible," I thought.

Of course, I know that an author with KDP can set a future release date but these early releases do not accumulate actual sales (although future sales have value in Amazon's algorithm) and can submit literary reviews through Author Central but Amazon does not allow a reader to post a review on something that h…

Is Grammarly Worth it For Writers

How many of you writers out there use the spelling and grammar checker in Word? Oh, come on. Don't be shy. I use it for the first pass on many of my writing projects, at the very least. It's great but I don't think it is the only thing that a writer should use to check their work.

Grammarly promises to be extremely useful for writers, so I decided to give the free version a try and report my findings. Remember that my review is a personal accounting only and I am in no way advocating for or against the use of this product.

I've found Grammarly to be extremely useful for posting on facebook, tweeting, or writing a blog post such as the one you are reading now. In fact, Grammarly shows my mistakes in real time and, if the mistake remains (through continued typing) provides me the opportunity to correct mistakes. Because of this feature alone, I can say that Grammarly fulfills all of its claims listed on television and youtube commercials.

This feature alone has already …

Tech Woes and Wonders

Yes, I know that I normally post some nostalgic story on Saturdays.
Not only am I a day late but I will post instead a short explanation for not posting yesterday. My old computer was getting, well, old and was affecting my writing.
For my Birthday, my wife bought me a new computer. It uses the latest Windows operating system (yes my other computer lacked the computer power to operate with such a system) and I'm still learning, playing around, and generally getting to know the system.
Still using Ywriter with great admiration. A bonus is that, with my new larger computer monitor, I can make the words bigger and easier to read.
Thank you for your patience. I should be back to the regularly irregular schedule by Wednesday.

Poetry for Better Writing

There are times when I'm writing that creativity escapes me. Sometimes, only for a moment, other times the dry spell could go on for days.

To break this treacherous cycle, I often turn to any number of tricks or exercises to get going again. I might try working on another part of the project at hand, timed writing, free writing, listening to lyrical music or great classical music.

Often, what works best for me is writing (or even reading or thinking about) poetry. Poetry is unique to the individual and can be writing in any form. Of course, there are conventions and rules for poetry but I've yet to see anyone follow these rules. I've read poetry that doesn't rhyme or poetry that sounds more like a personal accounting that captivated me.

I've dabbled in poetry since childhood but never seriously. I've had a poem published but even publication didn't keep me from criticizing it later.

I will not be so vain as to imply or express that my poems are worthy of t…

Learning to Drive

I'm sure most people of my age hold memories of their youth, and one memory that many remember with fondness, or horror, is learning to drive a car.

I had no problem passing my driving test for the first time at the age of sixteen because I'd taken driver education class in school. Also, I'd been driving on occasion since I was fourteen.

My sister was two years older than me and, when she started driving, my dad helped her buy an old 1960 Ford Falcon. I'm pretty sure she hated that car. Now, at about the same time, he must've found a great deal because he also purchased a 1968 Datsun 510 bluebird.

In those days, before the gas crunch, foreign cars (as people called them) were inexpensive. Very few people seemed to want some small boxy car with an under powered engine. Nobody cared that these cars were easy on gas. What fun was that? Funny thing is that I believe my sister's Falcon had a four cylinder engine just like the Datsun my dad purchased for (tooling ar…

Lyrical Inspiration

Do you listen to music when writing? I find music to be inspirational. Often, I listen to classical or something without words to keep me from distraction. If I'm deep into a draft I won't listen to anything at all. But, if I'm daydreaming or imagining a new story (my favorite part of writing) I like to listen to music with lyrics that make me think. I like lyrics that are like poetry or story set to music.

Writing and music are on the same creative spectrum. Really, lyrics are nothing more than words in some poetic form put to music. In fact, I know of at least one writer that wrote the lyrics for a popular song many years ago. This is a writer of fantasy and famous for Elric and the Eternal Champion. Yes, that author is none other than Micheal Moorcock and he wrote the lyrics, based on the Eternal Champion, to the Blue Oyster Cult song, Veteran of the Psychic Wars. Yes, I know. It's an oldie.

You're seeing now a veteran of a thousand psychic wars, I've been …

Mishap at Lover's Lane

This is a cautionary tale of misplaced intentions and ill-gotten love. It is a tale of desire, retribution, and karma.

I grew up in a place surrounded not only by saltwater bays but lakes, rivers and streams. We had a lake right in the town of Bremerton, and many others in the surrounding area.

One of my favorite lakes during my teenage years was Kitsap lake. Wildcat lake was a close second, along with many others like long lake, horseshoe lake, and Mason lake.

The harrowing and educational event I'll recount today happened at Kitsap lake.

A little background.

Growing up, I was always called "sweet" and "cute" by girls. Now, to a teenage boy, these are the things you DO NOT want to hear from girls. At sixteen years old and having never experienced the joy of gliding smoothly past third base and expertly over home plate, it became nearly an all-consuming mission to add this particular experience to the story of my life.

In my vast experience up to that point, w…

Love in Fiction

It's Valentine's Day so let's talk about love.

Not just love in general but love in story.

The history of Valentine's Day is anything but loving and romantic. In ancient times, February was considered a month of purging, cleansing, and... Breeding. The name of the month is based on the Pagan word-Februa-which means "to purge."

Yes, I know most of the world celebrates Valentine's Day with cards and gifts and remembrance of St.  Valentine. But, who was Saint Valentine? He was a member of the fledgling Catholic religion during the time of Roman rule. The Roman Emperor, Claudius forbid his young soldiers to get married while in service but Valentine (there may have been more than one in the span of a few years) performed these marriages in secret. Claudius discovered the defiance of Valentine and had him beheaded. We don't know for sure if he was martyred on February 14th but that is when the Roman Catholic church later decided to give sainthood to the n…

Neah Bay: The Tragedy That Almost Was

My Grandfather was an avid Salmon Fisherman. My Father was not, although he never stopped trying to match my Grandfather's success. Might I add that I believe, to this day, my Grandfather made the best smoked Salmon in the world.

One day, long ago, my father caught wind of some underground news that the salmon were hitting at Neah Bay. We didn't have a seaworthy boat at the time but My dad was not going to let that stop him from bringing in the fish.

What we had at the time was a twelve foot aluminum boat with a five horsepower motor, so that is what we would use.

Now, for those of you not living near a large body of water, an aluminum Jon boat was not what we considered "seaworthy." Sure these boats are fine for fishing in lakes, or even large inlets or bays, but not necessarily okay for fishing in the Straits of Juan de Fuca at the opening of the Pacific Ocean (although, I know now that it can be done.)

So, not knowing (or caring) of the danger, we threw that boat…

Naming Fictional Characters

We've all been there. You've got this great character in your head and you've already determined this character is going to save the world, but the only name you can come up with is: Bob.

This happens to me all the time. I discover a new story I'd like to tell and a character starts forming in my mind. Before long this character consumes me. I'm positive this new character is so strong that he or she will surely continue on through an entire series of stories. With the success of this series, Hollywood will come calling and the series will become a movie. The movie will be such a success that there will be a sequel. Because, you know, that's how these things work out.

But wait. How can this character do all these great things without a name? And it can't just be any name--it will have to be the best name ever. It will have to be EPIC.

How does one come up with the right name? Sometimes the name just seems to develop with the character in the writer's h…

The Flamethrower Incident

Why do young boys always seem to have a fascination with fire? I remember learning how to make a fire in Boy Scouts. It was a great skill, and I'm glad to have it but, as time passed, I found new and exciting ways to make fire.

With my newly acquired fire-making skills, I was appointed, along with my brother, the duty of burning trash. Yes, we burned all our burnable trash to minimize the cost of trash pick up. Ultimately this exercise gave us a chance to practice "stop, drop, and roll," after learning that fire will travel backwards to the gas can even if you pour it real hard onto a burning fire--but that's another story.

I grew up in Washington state. For reasons unknown, ants would create these big tall ant hills that became a nuisance if they were in or beside a pathway.

So, on this particular day, with my newly perfected fire making skills, I determined that it was up to me to destroy a particularly large and nasty ant hill that was encroaching into our backya…

Writing Dreams in Fiction

When is it okay to add dreams or flashbacks to a story?

I'm afraid there is no clear and defining answer to this question. Most of the research (or opinions) I've found on the subject imply that dream sequences and flashbacks can work in story if certain conditions are met. All of my research indicates that the current view on beginning a story with a dream or flashback is, if you actually want to sell your work, don't do it.

Of course, for every rule of writing, there are countless examples of that rule being successfully broken.  So, what are these rules? Again, no definitive answer, but I've found some considerations for using dreams and flashbacks in fiction.

If you follow K. M. Weiland (and everybody should follow K. M. Weiland) she expresses her opinion on using dreams in fiction on her youtube channel.

Others share K. M. Weiland's views on when to use dreams in fiction. Below, I've compiled a short list of generally agreed upon rules that apply to dream…

Mercurochrome Wars

Aah, those childhood memories, full of broken bikes, broken bones, Mercurochrome, and flamethrowers. Did I say flamethrower? yes, but that is another story.

Looking back at all the stupid things I attempted in my childhood, I'm absolutely amazed that I managed to survive to adulthood.

Everyone likes the feeling of freedom and when I was a child, my bicycle was the epitome of freedom. This was before the time of bike helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, and all that other safety equipment we make our own children wear these days. Back then, the only safety equipment I had was a rubber band or string around my right pant leg so it wouldn't get caught in the chain. If we couldn't find these items, my friends and I would just tuck our pant legs into our sock when riding. I know what you're thinking and, even though I lived on the west coast, I still wore socks.

My bike was my pride and joy. I believe the popular bike for kids in the early to mid seventies was made by Schwinn a…