Wednesday, November 26, 2014

FINDING A GOOD eBOOK ON THE INTERNET

    It has dawned on me to do something with the stories I've felt compelled to write over the past two weeks. For the uninitiated, they're a cross between Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Goosebumps For Adults. Nothing too bloody or sexy (though some are certainly designed to scare the pants off you).
    Short stories, I have decided, are a good way to show off your style. The one to your right is free on Thursday and Friday.
Click here: http://author.to/MRStorie and you'll be able to download it as well as take a look at four other stories in the same series.
     I have to admit I'm surprised there is still so little in the way of gate-keeping for books on the Internet. I want things to stay free and open as much as the next person, but I did expect copious sites recommending good books and warning of bad ones.
   These gatekeeper book sites are starting to increase now, I think, because readers certainly want them. Need them, even. There are far too many books being published with exciting covers and disappointing stories inside (and, of course, these are the same books honey-basted with tasty five-star reviews). It's sad to think of how many good books are going undiscovered as readers flounder through the junk.
     I can only recommend readers take full advantage of Amazon's Look Inside Feature wherever it is offered. I know I do. It's your only chance to see if the interior story is likely to live up to the promise of its outer cover. Readers who live in countries without access to this feature should check out books they're interested in on the U.S. Amazon site FIRST. They will be automatically redirected back to their own country if they decide to purchase a book anyway.
     Happy reading.
 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mouse In The Wall Free Story Download

     We have to stop meeting like this. Again, another off-schedule post to let you know about a freebie I have running today. Mouse In The Wall http://mybook.to/mouseinthewall is the third in a series of stories I keep picking away at when I'm not working on Blood Tied II.
Lately, I've taken to writing short stories with a vengeance. I always did like writing them, from the time I was in grade school. Back then I thought that, along with poetry, they would provide enough income for me to get by on when I was older (hahahahah--but note that even at ten years of age, I wasn't crazy enough to think anyone ever made a living writing poetry).
     I stopped writing short stories with reluctance in later years, after reading over and over again that length was what fiction readers wanted to buy.
     Luckily, thanks to the borrowing setup currently favored by Amazon, another golden age of short stories is underway (along with a deluge of three-page booklets on how to make a million dollars in six hours). This hasn't been in evidence since the days of 1930s genre pulp magazines.
     Suits me. And I don't feel anywhere near as bad putting short stories up as free samples as I do when it's books. So it's a win-win situation for us all.
     Just to warn you, I have a very English sense of humor (meaning it's as dry as a bone). You can expect some very bleak humor in this story as well as the others in the series. So click on the link in the first paragraph for some free entertainment. You're welcome.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

 Free Story Download Wednesday & Thursday

 See what the Blood Tied Series is all about.
http://mybook.to/bloodtiedIItale 

I'm not the most consistent blogger in the world, am I? However, I do manage to post at least weekly so I suppose that's something. This is a quick one to let people know I have a freebie today and tomorrow. (Yes, I know it says Nov. 20 in the box, but trust me--it's free on Nov. 19, too--I don't have time to change it again because my media time tick, tick, tick, Brring-GGG has run out for the day.)
Blood Tied II Tale contains some frightening parts which I hope you'll enjoy.
But I wrote it to interest adults as well as teenagers (who tend to be bloody-minded ayway--think of all those old B-rated drive-in movies) so the grandmother would scare anyone into fits, I think.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

    At some point all writers--if they're independently wealthy--turn most of the social media over to others. If they're not well-heeled, their wives get the chore. Sometimes the wives get the chore anyway, and it's my observation the smart ones are in there right from the start.
    There have been times in the past when I have envied the male writer with a devoted wife. I still do. Some things never change. Have you never realized that a large part of Stephen King's blinding success is due to his wife? An indefatigable editor ready to perform all the unpleasant little chores (there are always unpleasant little chores) that go along with marrying someone whose career revolves around sitting in a chair. (Not me, though--I'm still the ape who walks like a man--in other words, I write when I'm vertical. I'm actually toying with the idea of renaming this blog "Standing Room Only")
   Back to hidden partners in writing. As in pursuing a life of crime, Agatha Christie would tell you that it helps to have a partner in writing. When something goes wrong, it is the partner's task to correct it or to at least soften the blow when one is carted off to jail.
   Writing is a solo pursuit, but it is a lot less lonely when you have a cheering section, even if it's limited to a school monitor in Green Meadows, N.J. (Hello, Jerry. How are you doing today?) With all the social media outlets available, writers never need be lonely again. Unfortunately, talking to others who are also concerned about their writing is seductive. It's a much more attractive way to spend your time than actually writing.
   So I think it makes sense to limit the social media to some extent. Do not let it overwhelm your writing schedule. Set some specific hours aside for it instead. You won't be missing a thing.
   The internet isn't going anywhere, after all. And neither will you unless you get back to work. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Free eBook For Amazon.Com. Not Amazon.Ca.

     So I'm giving Blood Tied I away for free on Amazon.com starting Nov.11 and continuing through Nov. 13.
     If I were you (and I lived in the U.S.), I'd grab it--I am not an author who ordinarily gives books away. In fact, I may yet experience a panic attack of cheapness during the three-day giveaway and cut it short, so don't hesitate.
     Too many years of writing for a living as a reporter makes me loathe to part with work for free. I have badgered myself into using the KDP Kindle countdown on occasion. But I dislike the amateur tinge that colors authors who give their books away for free.
     Because Blood Tied I is the first of a series, however, I decided it wouldn't kill me (cheap as I am), to give a few copies away. It will certainly give readers a good sense of what the series is about.
      But now that I've finally convinced myself to do it, something else bugs me. I can give an eBook to the Brits for free or to the Americans for free (just not during the same promotion), but I can't give it to readers in other countries.
      This strikes me as more than ironic, considering I'm Canadian. On Amazon, Canadians are lumped in with the Americans when it's convenient (as per services), but we do not get the best of their benefits (It's like the difference between Canadian and U.S. Netflix).
      I don't blame Amazon for this: they are a business and take the most cost-effective route to success. As well, the Canadian government (this is a very odd attitude in the wake of free trade agreements) is rabid about keeping American publishing interests away from Canadians. This has rewarded Canadians with having to purchase books through Amazon.ca (which offers nowhere near the stuff available through Amazon.com). As well, the Amazon Kindle Unlimited program is not available to Canadians.
     I could go on, but you get the drift. I've always thought the attitude somewhat peculiar considering how rotten 90 per cent of Canadian TV shows are (yes, The Beachcombers was a modest hit back in the day, but that was only because the rest of Canadian TV was so bloody, bloody awful).
      I've often wondered who our government is trying to protect: us or them? If the former, then it's already been too late for decades.
     Like the vast majority of the Canadian population, I was raised within 50 miles of the U.S. border. I have numerous American relatives like many, if not most Canadians. Until I reached third grade, I believed I was an American: I watched Brakeman Bill, Captain Kangaroo, and Romper Room religiously--I pledged the Allegiance to the U.S. flag, holding a sofa pillow to my chest, every weekday morning while watching the last show). It was already too late to be a standoffish Canadian because even in those early days, all the good TV shows came out of the States (in my area, from Seattle).
     I still remember my confusion (and anger--I had liked doing the pledge of allegiance) when I found myself singing to the Queen in weekly assembly when I got to first grade. I thought we were singing to be nice to an old lady, for some inexplicable reason. And I still believed Canada was a part of the U.S. It wasn't until Grade Three, when we began studying geography, that I finally realized I was not an American and put the sofa pillow away for good. Reluctantly.
     So lighten up, Canada. We're always going to have stronger beer, better poutine, and apologize to everyone like our lives depended on it.
     But don't tell me what I should read or watch, eh?



Friday, November 7, 2014

Haste Makes Waste When Writing A Book Series

     So now I'm done. Blood Tied I, the book, launched unseen whilst I was sleeping overnight. It is available at: http://mybook.to/blood-tied-1-storie
     So what have I learned from being a full week late in publishing this eBook? (There's always a lesson to be gleaned after you've screwed up--the bigger the mistake, the bigger the lesson.)
     I've learned to never expect to publish ANYTHING within a day or two of a holiday. That is when the editorial gremlins are most likely to screw up the logistical end of things. If you simply must publish at holiday time (say you have a 1001-ways-to-use-up-turkey-leftovers cookbook), then do it a full week in advance.
     I've also learned the logistics of writing a book series is markedly different from writing a one-off novel or story.
     But while I'm aware of established and successful authors out there who think nothing of periodically updating books they have already written, I'd prefer not to do that.
     What kind of a dog's breakfast would the world's great literature be if its writers had constantly changed it? It makes me shudder to picture a razor-sharp thinker like Voltaire, grown doddering with age at last, whipping out his laptop in a senile panic and changing everything.
     No, far better to get it right the first time. My book simply wasn't ready--not if I intended it to gallop ahead as the advance vehicle of a lengthy book series, at least. Better to make one change now rather than 14 changes later. My preliminary characters--I write character-driven plots and as a consequence find the reins ripped out of my hands as early on as the first chapter--had gone in unexpected (but useful) directions. Yelling at them had done no good. No, if I was to have any chance at all of catching hold again, there were a few crucial changes to incorporate.
     I'm content now with what I've written. The plot has thickened so the entire series should be a more exciting ride for the reader.
     And much more fun than lying under an overturned wagon for me. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ducks In A Row For Publishing

     Before you publish, get all your ducks in a row.
     You knew that. I knew that, too. But for someone who is fond of aphorisms, I blew it last week by neglecting to follow this particularly important one to the max.
     The first book of my Blood Tied series was due out Oct 30 (I gave myself an extra day, thinking it would be out in time for Halloween).
     In the past couple of months, the mechanical side of the Amazonian robot arm has slowed down a bit, with authors complaining it's taking longer for the publishing process to complete. As well, I should have realized that horror authors of any kind (carrying black candles for luck) would naturally gravitate towards a Halloween launch and be clogging the system. Whereas my books ordinarily achieve takeoff in 12 hours and less, I did not get manage to get Blood Tied I launched on time.
     Worse, when I did, I took a penultimate look at it and decided I was not satisfied.
     Not satisfied? There were no visible flaws as per punctuation or grammar; no especial cliches; no reason to agonize.
     But as I read through it, I had to be honest. I knew it wasn't the best book I could produce. Subtleties occurred to me as I read. Companion ideas blossomed. Side shoots grew and flowered. The book, I realized with dismay, had NOT been ready. In my experience, a book is not ready for publication until you cannot stand the sight of it. I rather liked this one still and I knew that was a bad sign, not a good sign.
     I hit the unpublish button almost faster than I had hit its opposite.
     Stay tuned for the real thing. Quack, quack.