Tuesday, June 23, 2020
I've been hearing all sorts of comments about how the virus is affecting other writers, from even though they have the time, they haven't had the desire to write, to the other extreme, some love the fact that being confined to home has given them lots of time to write.
Which end of this answer are you, or somewhere in the middle?
To be honest, the writing part of my life hasn't changed much because of the virus. I am mostly staying home, except for forays with mask on to the grocery store.
What I miss most is all the events and conferences I'd planned on going to and were cancelled.
Because I had a non-refundable hotel reservation for San Luis Obispo for a conference that cancelled, my daughter, hubby and I packed up and headed over to the coast. For those of you who don't know, San Luis Obispo is a jumping off place for many coastal beaches.
Though we didn't get close to any people at the surprisingly crowded beaches we did watch the otters play at Morro Bay, and visited Pismo and other popular spots and saw a lot of great scenery at vantage viewing spots. Many of the restaurants had just opened following all the new rules, so we had some great meals too.
It's been long enough to know if we were exposed to anything, and we're all fine. It was a great get-away and certainly renewed all three of us.
As for my writing, I've been busily going over old books in my Rocky Bluff P.D. series that have been re-edited and making sure to catch mistakes. These books have all been published before, but oh, my, there are typos and goofs. They are all going to be self-published and some of them are already there on Amazon for Kindle and in paper.
Though we haven't been doing them in order, the first ones are done.
The series begins with Final Respects. When I wrote it I had no idea it would become a series.
Marilyn who writes this series as F.M. Meredith
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
by Janis Patterson
As someone once said, it’s always something.
After decades - centuries - of respecting proper grammar, pronouns, tense, sentence structure, conjugations and all the other bits of pieces that comprise language and forms so much of communication, writers are being asked to learn a totally new - and distressingly flexible - set of personal pronouns.
Now there are people who are intent on messing up the concept of language. In a politically correct move some who believe they are more than one gender are not only using different pronouns for themselves, they expect others to use them as well. Some use ‘they’ referring to their singular selves. Some make up pronouns. Some commit even more unforgivable grammatical mayhem. One person interviewed calls itself ‘It.’
Whatever my personal feelings about these people are people have a right to live their lives as they see fit, as long as it’s legal. They can call themselves what they want to when they’re among their intimates, but who on earth would agree that they should be allowed to change the shape of the language?
Language is communication. Language conveys ideas and feelings and information and all kinds of things, but the basis of language is understanding. Both parties - the one speaking and the one listening - have to have a common ground, not only a knowledge of what the words they speak mean, but a certainty that they both know the same meanings.
For example, there are many languages in this world, and in each language there are many examples of beautiful writing. But - unless you speak that language, those writings are nothing to you. Someone could be reciting the most exquisite words in the world, but if you don’t know what they mean you hear nothing but polysyllabic babble. There is no common point of reference.
Now that might be something of an overdrawn example, but the principle is true. Language is shared communication.
Say someone wants itself to be referred to using ‘tym’ rather than ‘he’ or ‘she,’ as in “Tym is my friend.” Or someone refers to itself as ‘they’ rather than ‘I,’ as in “they want to go to the mall” meaning that the speaker wants to go to the mall. Unless you are personally acquainted with this person, or know of its preferences, you won’t know what they’re talking about.
Language has rules. For example, ‘they’ is plural - not singular. ‘Tym’ is a made-up word, signifying nothing.
We are writers. Our job is to communicate, to share ideas and situations and information. If people don’t understand what we’re saying, we are not doing our job. And it will lose us readers. Another possible pitfall is that writing is forever, and the words that are currently trendy may be totally incomprehensible in a decade. Or less. Yes, language changes and mutates, but it is a natural process, not a fiat declared by a tiny minority, a minority that can’t even agree on which of their new words are right.
Again, people have the right to refer to themselves as they wish. They do not have the right to demand that others use those same words. There is no standardization to these new manufactured words/meanings, and the definitions are too fluid to last.
Call yourself what you want, but don’t mess with the language. Posterity - and those who believe in clear communication - won’t thank you if you do.
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
I do have a good excuse though, I am crazy busy.
I took my rights back for my Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series. I loved the publisher, but he's just too busy with life and too many authors to work with.
The books are all being re-edited and self-published. The re-editing and the actual publishing are being done by my good friend, Lorna Collins, and her hubby is doing the covers.
My part in all this is going over each book for any more errors, typos and in some cases bits of the plot that need to be fixed. The ones being done first, are the books the old publisher hadn't gotten to yet.
The first on, Angel Lost, is one of my favorites in the series for many reasons.
As usual, there is a lot of family things going:
1. Officer Felix Zachary's wife, Wendy, is having problems as a new mother.
2. Sergeant Navarro's mother may have Alzheimer's.
3. Officer Ryan Strickland receives some unsettling news about the new baby he and his wife are expecting.
4. A man is exposing himself to unsuspecting females jogging on the beach.
5. Officer Stacey Wilbur is busily planning her wedding to Detective Doug Milligan
6. The newest officer on the RBPD has an underlying problem no one knows about.
7. The vision of an angel is making a nightly appearance in the window of a downtown store.
8. Gordon Butler does an heroic deed.
As I was going over this book, when I came to the end, I shed a tear. Sounds crazy, but it had been a long time since I'd revisited Angel Lost.
Some of the situations were based on events that actually happened--of course with a new spin.
If you haven't read it yet, it can be found on Amazon for Kindle and in print.
Marilyn though I write this series as F. M. Meredith.
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
by Janis Patterson/Janis Susan May
According to some, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly but expecting different results. I guess I’m insane, because I’ve been avoiding Kindle Unlimited for years. Why? Because I hate even the threat of a monopoly.
Let’s face it – the ‘Zon is closer than a lot of people – myself included – think to becoming a monopoly in ebook sales, and if that goal is accomplished, how long do you think we writers will be receiving those lovely 70% royalties? On the other hand, the ‘Zon is the 800 pound gorilla in online book marketing, and that is a very real fact with which we must deal.
I have long touted the desirability of going wide, of having my books available on numerous platforms, of supporting diversity in sales venues. (In the interest of full disclosure – I will admit to having a couple of short stories exclusive to the ‘Zon for various reasons not germane to this discussion.) However, going wide can be dangerous to one’s bank account.
The ‘Zon’s exclusivity program of Kindle Unlimited, which they push shamelessly, is ruthless. If you aren’t in KU, your books get shoved down... way down. I have typed in the exact title of one of my wide books, both with and without quotation marks to show search for entirety and by word, yet in neither instance did either show up until the fourth or fifth page. The pages of books that did show up were all KU titles – some of which did not even share a single word in their title with mine.
Even with such a handicap regarding discoverability, the biggest chunk of my income is from the ‘Zon. The other venues, which I have worked so hard and done without in order to support, offer only trifling sales. And no, they don’t advertise or push my books either.
So – the question becomes, how much can I afford to support a principle when it is not supporting me? I am fortunate; I do not have to depend solely on my writing income to survive – however, it is a part of our household income. I repeat – how much are we supposed to give up in order to support a principle? One of the writers whom I have mentored, as well as several other professional friends, are in KU and making very respectable sums on page reads alone. And no, none of them are ‘book stuffing’ scammers of any stripe – just hard working writers with good stories to tell.
I’m a good writer, too, I work hard and I have good stories to tell. I’ve won awards and been on several best-seller lists (all in Europe – go figure!) but I’m buried so far in the search engine heap my books may never see the daylight of solvency.
So I have come to the conclusion that the least I can do is experiment. I’ve decided to pull some of my better-selling books from other venues and place them in KU. If they do well, I’ll move them all. To those of you readers who use non-‘Zon venues and devices, I’m sorry I shan’t be available to you, but let’s be honest - if you had bought my books I wouldn’t have to be doing this.
I still hate even the remotest hint of a monopoly.
I hate bankruptcy even more.
Friday, May 15, 2020
by Linda Thorne
Wordiness that clogs up your communications is often caused when you use filter words, something I confess comes naturally to me. I may be worse than others because someone has called me on it my entire life. Not just high school and college English or literature teachers, editors, and critique group members, but friends and family.
Let me give you some examples of common filter words. Notice our five basic senses are among them, below, in bold and underlined.
Assume, Believe, Can (or Able to), Feel, Decide, Hear, Know, Notice, Realize (or Note), See, Seem, Sense, Smell, Taste, Touch, Wonder
Filter words separate and distance the reader from the action. They add an extra layer that the reader must wade through while, in the process, being robbed of the story's urgency. Normally, the reader is forced to follow the story only through the character’s perspective.
This is something I work hard to minimize, but the minute I let my guard down--that moment I relax wanting to talk or write effortlessly--filter words flow from the communication. Somehow, this habit became ingrained into my being early in life. You may not fight it as much as I do, but most people will muddy a story or communication with filter words at least on occasion.
Compare the examples below with filter words and without.
• F: Joannie looked like she was going to pass out. When I heard her moan, I felt the need to hurry over to catch her.
• NF: Joannie’s face turned white and her legs wavered beneath her. When she moaned, I hurried over to catch her.
• F: I felt pure panic when I realized I had left my wallet on the store counter across the street. I decided to whip around to face the traffic. I heard car horns and vehicles whooshing past, but I knew I had to hurry back. When I saw the first break in the traffic, I ran.
• NF: Pure panic hit me. My wallet – I had left it on the store counter across the street. I whipped around to face the traffic. Car horns honked and vehicles whooshed past. With the first break in traffic, I ran.
See the difference?
Like any rules in writing, there will be times you’ll need to use these words. When they’re unnecessary or overused, the simple fact is they’ll slow your story down.
I enjoyed reading up on this topic, something I need to refresh myself on often, and then sharing it with all of you.
This was a nice break from these stressful times. Stay safe.
Amazon Buy Link - Kindle Selling now at $0.99
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
I did it! For a while I wasn't sure I'd actually get there, not because of COVID-19, but I couldn't seem to get myself motivated to finish it. My writing group is not meeting right now and I've grown quite dependent upon their critiques and feedback. Yes, I did sent it out to them via email for their input, but it isn't the same.
Finally, my good friend, editor and publisher, Lorna Collins prodded me a bit and I buckled down and finished it. She's a great editor and once she went over it and I did the fixes, and ran some questions by her, the book was sent off to Amazon. (Her husband designed the cover.)
I had to make some hard decisions with this book. The big one was will it be the last? Even now I'm not sure, as I've got an idea developing for another. One of the reasons I've been thinking about whether the series should end or not is my age. I feel great--well, mostly--but it is getting harder to do the promotion part of writing. (And all the in-person events for now have been cancelled, even a book fair I usually do in October.) Though we're all hoping to see the end of this virus soon--who know how long it will be?
Life goes on despite the changes we're facing. I'm fortunate in having lots of family in my home and close by, so I'm not lonely. I do miss the ones that live afar though and will be thankful when we can all visit.
So, about the new book. The End of the Trail, is available on Amazon for Kindle and in print.
Blurb: Deputy Tempe Crabtree joins the search for a missing hiker which results in a murder investigation, a near death experience, an unexpected rescue, and an unhappy ghost.
What are you up to these days?
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Like all of you, I've mainly been sheltering in place, though I do venture out to the grocery store once in a while dutifully wearing a face mask.
My .99 cent sale for Murder in the Worst Degree is over, and the result were 91 people purchased the book on Kindle. Certainly nowhere the number of books if it had been free, but this was the publisher's choice. Plus, it had been free once before when it was with the first publisher. But who knows, maybe it will encourage some of these readers to try some other books in the series.
While staying at home, I've managed to finish my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. I going over it, looking at suggestions and corrections from my critique group (we're doing it via email these days), and then I'll send it off to my editor.
When all that's done, I'll start planning the promotion which will not at this time include any in-person events until this darn disease is under control. Maybe I'll do a blog tour.
I'm also getting thought about the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, and the big question is, should I include what we are all going through now or not? Fellow authors, what are you going to do about this big chunk of history (when it is history) in your next mysteries?
I'd also like to hear what you're doing during this stay-at-home time.
See you in May. And I'll share the cover of the new book.