Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Wishing all my followers:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Social Media Overload

Apparently my brain can only manage an hour or two of social media networking a day before I get antsy and have to go do something else. Or maybe it's just I can only do one of them: blog, facebook, pinterest, messageboard, because I have noticed that when I start spending time on one of them, then my participation in the others drops off. Note that the last blog post was on September 16th and I haven't even been reading other peoples blogs in the past two months or so. Because I got hooked back into Facebook.

Yes, she who has made her low opinion of Facebook widely known got hooked back into using Facebook. And thus really the point of this blog post are my observations on this go around of facebooking.

I started sneaking onto Facebook last May. My son was in Afghanistan. Whenever I read a news article about soldiers getting killed over there, I would sneak on and check his recent activity to see when was the last time he was on. After a few months of this, one of my friends caught me at it and started a chat. And then the facebook vortex sucked me in and pretty soon I was reading my newsfeed and whatever.

But this time was different because I started liking the pages of the things I am also interested in like wildlife and the environment. And I started interacting with my high school friends and looking up old friends. In other words, this time I started using Facebook as it was intended to be used as a tool for keeping in contact with friends and family not for marketing purposes. A much more enjoyable experience.

What I have noticed among my writer friends is that many are not using facebook effectively. Either they log on every now and then and post a link to their blog/book/publisher, then log off; or they overload the newsfeed with a lot of links to their friend's and their own blog/book/publisher. If there are ten or more posts like that in a row, then I look at the first one or two and scroll past the rest. Only a few interact with their friends and followers talking about something other than writing.

Using popular authors to illustrate my point: J K Rowling is one who posts every now and then with a link to her new book while romance author Susan Elizabeth Phillips is one who engages with her fans. She recently went on a camping trip to Morocco and posted pics of Morocco, riding a camel, the tents, etc. It was rather interesting. Next time you're on facebook look both of them up and see the difference.

I also discovered something very interesting about the news feed in Facebook. It doesn't show you everything that has been posted. So when I post something in my status or share a link, picture, or video, only a few people actually see it, not everyone I am friends with. They have developed an algorithm to determine which posts you are most likely to want to see. So if all you do is log on every now and then and post a link to your book/blog/publisher, then very few of your friends will actually see it. There is a work around this problem. I haven't figured it out yet.

I'm still of the opinion that facebook is not a good tool for marketing purposes especially now that I am aware of the newsfeed algorithm. But if you are primarily using it to stay connected with friends and family, then the occasional post about your book/blog/publisher will have a greater chance at being seen, read, and shared.

Food for thought. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Designing Book Covers by Aubrie Dionne

Aubrie Dionne is my guest blogger today as part of her blog tour for her new novel Haven 6. I published several of Aubrie's short stories in Emerald Tales, so I have no hesitation in recommending her work to you. She also designs book covers, so I asked her to speak about that.

Although I’m primarily an author, I do design book covers for fun. The process is actually very easy. The hardest part is buying a nice program to create the font and manipulate the images. I use Adobe Photoshop.

Then, I get my images from Sometimes it takes me hours to look for the perfect image. My eyes feel like they are going to bleed! You have to be creative in your search words. If you want an illustration or digital graphic, then you click the top box for photographs out. If you want a real life picture, then you sort the images by clicking off the box for illustrations. You can search through both real photographs and illustrations if you’re not sure what you are looking for.

You can get free fonts all over the web and install them very easily. But, Photoshop does have a number of great fonts. I play around with the picture, the title and the author’s name to see which placement is better around the image. Sometimes the words look great right in the middle, and sometime they look better on the top and bottom. A tagline is a great to put on a cover, or a quote from an author who liked the book. I usually put the tagline or author quote in a different font than the title and author’s name.

After I find the right font and placement, I use “blending options” to manipulate the quality of the words. You can add a “drop shadow” and “inner shadow,” make the words look like satin, or look “crunchy”. You can change the color of the font to match the cover, bringing the exact color from your cover to the words. It’s pretty cool.

I’m most concerned with making the cover look professional. Too many covers nowadays are just words slapped on top of an image. I try to match the words with the image and make it look smooth. I’m not a professional, but I do enjoy doing it. Now, since I’m with bigger publishers, they design the covers for me. Haven 6 was designed by Heather Howland at Entangled Publishing. It does take some of the pressure off me and allows me time to write. But, sometimes I do miss designing!

Aubrie Dionne is an author and flutist in New England. Her writings have appeared in Mindflights, Niteblade, Silver Blade, Emerald Tales, Hazard Cat, Moon Drenched Fables, A Fly in Amber, and Aurora Wolf. Her books are published by Entangled Publishing, Lyrical Press, and Gypsy Shadow Publishing. She recently signed her YA sci fi novel with Inkspell Publishing titled: Colonization: Paradise Reclaimed, which will release in November 2012. When she's not writing, Aubrie teaches flute and plays in orchestras. She's a big Star Trek TNG fan, as well as Star Wars and Serenity.


A product of an illegal pairing, Eridani is the only woman without a lifemate aboard the colonization ship, the Heritage, and she is determined her less than perfect DNA will not get in the way of finding love. As the ship nears it's final destination of Haven 6 after five hundred years of travel, images of the surface show evidence of intelligent life on a planet that's supposed to be uninhabited. Commander Grier assigns Eri to the exploratory team to spy on the alien society and return with information on how to defeat them.

When Eri's team lands, tribes of humans attack and Eri is saved by Striver, the descendant of a colonist and a pirate from Old Earth's colonization efforts in other parts of the galaxy. Striver helps Eri rescue her team and they are drawn to each other despite their different allegiances. While Striver battles with trusting Eri, Eri must decide whether to warn him and his people about the commander's intentions, or follow orders and complete her mission.

add it on Goodreads:

Available soon on Amazon

Available Soon on Barnes and Noble:

She's also giving away this necklace.

You can enter the raffle here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Switched by Amanda Hocking

So I borrowed "Switched" by Amanda Hocking from the library. This is the first book in the trilogy that she self-published and everyone was talking about last year. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

I can see why the books were so successful; they are compelling to read. And they would appeal to the teenager/young adult demographic.

I can also see why agents passed on it. I had trouble feeling sympathetic to Wendy the main character. Then when I got to page 247, I stopped reading and skimmed to the end.

The story is that she is a trylle (troll) changeling who was switched at birth with a human child. When she was six years old, her mother tried to kill her. The story begins when the a Trylle tracker finds her to take her back to the Trylle.

In the Prologue (which is very well done as a Prologue), Wendy is six years old and at her birthday party. She is a total brat. She hates everything. She complains about every birthday present that she gets. Whine. Whinge. She goes into the kitchen where her human mother is cutting her birthday cake. It's chocolate. Wendy throws a temper tantrum because she hates chocolate and it's her birthday; she should have the kind of cake that she wants blahblahblah. Aaannnddd her human mother loses it and tries to kill her with the cake knife. Now let me say that I do not condone child abuse or hurting children in any manner. However, there is not a parent alive who in the same position would not have to exert a lot of self-control not to do what Wendy's mother did. Yes, the mother is a psychotic bitch from hell, and yes, she should not have tried to kill her daughter, but the kid is an unreasonable, irrational, BRAT. If I were in that situation, I would have to put the knife down, go outside and kick a tree or something, and I have the patience of a saint, so I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for the child character.

So the story begins and Wendy is 16. She is not so much a brat anymore, so she is somewhat likeable.

Then she gets to Forening where her trylle mother and the other trylle live. And nobody answers her questions. Nobody tells her anything about how the society works or what is and isn't allowed. Nobody tells her what is expected of her. And her mother yells at her and is nasty to her over all the mistakes she is making. In other words, all the adults are stupid and don't know enough to explain the cultural differences to her, even though all of them were changelings too and should know what she is going through. I got to page 247 and I couldn't take the adults are stupid to move the plot along thing any more, so I stopped reading and started skimming.

If you're a parent or an older adult, then you might have the same trouble with the story that I do. I think that teenagers and younger adults don't have the same problem with the story because they don't have the life experience to draw on that I do.

Amanda Hocking is a very talented writer, and while I won't read the rest of this series, I will check out her new series which is coming out soon.  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Another Take on the Usefulness of Social Media for self published authors

Ewan Morrison has an interesting article on The Guardian: Why Social Media Isn't the Magic Bullet for Self-epublished Authors. 

There are some rather startling statistics like this one: A pizza joint in New Orleans hit 70,000 people with a Facebook ad and picked up ONE new customer. And this one: Only 70 self-epublished authors in the world in 2011 sold more than 800 ebooks a month.

If you want people to buy your book, then you need marketing techniques that are going to work. I think it's an interesting article and well worth your time to read and think about. You can find it here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

You got cookies! So share it maybe

Cookie monster spoofs Carly Rae Jensen's Call Me Maybe

Saturday, July 7, 2012

How Your Mind Cognizes Stuff

Consider the following sentences and get a picture in your mind of what is happening:

The man rowed the boat.

The girl put on her dance shoes.

The dog barked.

I just learned this while studying how the mind functions as determined by Buddhist scholars. What happens is you see or hear a word like "dog", and your mind goes and gets the image you have associated with the word dog and pops it into your conscious mind. The dog image will be different for everybody. This is true for everything that you cognize whether it is girl, boy, African-American, Asian, purple dragons, flighty faeries, and so on. It's automatic. There is no conscious thought involved.

This phenomenon is important for the writer when it comes to description. Recently I read a story with the MC driving a Porsche Cayenne. I know what a Porsche sports car looks like. I don't know what a Cayenne specifically looks like. So I grabbed the image of the porsche sports car. Then the author said that the MC was in an SUV... So I googled Porsche Cayenne and sure enough, it is an SUV.

And that is what the mind does when one reads. It reads a description and it grabs the closest image it has to that description and pops it into the consciousness. That is what one sees when one reads. To get the reader to see what you want them to see, you have to give them enough information to get the right image.

So going back to those three sentences at the beginning:

The man rowed the boat. I bet the image you pulled up looked something like this:

I was talking about this:

The girl put on her dance shoes. You probably saw shoes like this or something similar:

I was writing about latin style ballroom dance shoes:

The dog barked. You might have seen a bulldog:

Or a golden retriever

I doubt you saw a Chinese Crested Dog:

So if you have a person, place, or thing that you are describing in your fiction and it is not something that most people would be familiar with or not the norm, then you have to do a little more work to get your reader to see it. "Row" is not enough, I needed to say: the man sculled the racing shell. "Dance shoes" is not enough; I needed to say: the woman put on her latin style ballroom dance shoes. And dog is not enough; I needed to say: the Chinese crested dog barked.

And obviously that is the simple example to get my point across. If I was writing about a woman getting ready to go out ballroom dancing, then I could just write dance shoes. In context, the shoes would be ballroom shoes not ballet shoes.

Make sense?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Glass Harp

Hey! Aubrie, Lindsey, and anyone else who loves Harry Potter or music, check out this amazing video:

I love youtube. I find the coolest and funniest things on there.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ahoy, mates! There be Pirates Here!

There be pirates on the east coast of Florida! I have photographic evidence!

They're docked at Squid Lips a restaurant next to the library on the Indian River Lagoon.

I'm not entirely certain what the owner of the ship's deal is. The rumor is that he built the top part of the ship on top of a chris-craft boat. It looks real, but the sails and stuff don't work. It has an outboard motor on the back for when he moves it to a new location. He was giving kids a tour of the boat, and the library which is directly behind me taking this photo had a display of pirate books out for the kiddos.

And I got some great pics. :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I joined Pinterest four weeks ago, and I love it. It's simple to use. I'm not limited to seeing only what my "friends" or "followers" post. I can follow any person that I want or just one or two boards that a person has. There's none of this friend request business, just click follow and that's all there is to it. And I can share my pins with anyone who isn't a member of Pinterest. You can go here to see my boards:

The amazing thing is that in the past month I have discovered over twenty artists whose works that I really love and that I would not have otherwise found. I love art. I love going to art shows and museums. When Google launched its Art Project, I was stoked as I could go and look at classic art and get closer, down to paint stroke level, than I ever could in a museum.

And then there is some amazing photography of the most beautiful places in the world and some really funny stuff. I found texts from the dog there.

BUT there are drawbacks to Pinterest. You have to have either a facebook account or a Twitter account to join. Most people have one or the other, but I would like to see them do away with that requirement and stand alone. It's also not the best place for having a conversation. While you can comment on pins and have a conversation about a specific pin, it's just not the best environment for having a discussion.

AND it is not the best place to market your books. If you're looking at it as potential place for building a platform for your writing, this is not the best place to do that. It is more visual, more for sharing of images, craft ideas, art, places, products, and for some reason tattoos.

However, a writer could use it to get ideas for stories or visual references for story descriptions like buildings, locations, clothes, furniture, and so on.

If you're interested, check it out here.  You have to request an invitation to join, but that is relatively simple to do. Or leave a comment with your email address and I'll send you an invitation to join.

Updated to add: Pinterest is now open to anyone with an email account. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Connected, But Alone

"Someday, I'd like to learn how to have a conversation." That's a quote from this TED talk.

As I listened to this talk, a scene from Real Genius kept popping into my head. The professor is lecturing in front of the classroom and in successive scenes the students leave tape recorders for the lecture instead of sitting in the class. Then in the last clip, there are no people. The student desks are all occupied by small tape recorders and on the teachers desk in the front of the classroom is a reel to reel tape recorder in place of the teacher. 

Is that the kind of world we want to live in? 

A challenge for you: Disconnect from the internet and phone for five minutes and enjoy a few moments of solitude. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Call for Literary Disarmament

I had this long post about the need for the writing community to cease the war of words. Nathan Bransford said it so much better, so I'll share this video of meerkats instead.

Monday, May 21, 2012

RIP Donna Summer and Robin Gibb

Last Thursday we lost the Queen of Disco, Donna Summer, and yesterday we lost one of the Brothers Gibb, Robin Gibb. Both battled cancer. Their songs were the soundtrack of my teenage years. It is sad to say so long to those who brought so much joy to my life with music that is fun to dance to.

The Bee Gees Saturday Night Fever album was the biggest selling album of all time until it got knocked off the top by Michael Jackson's Thriller. Check out this music video of Staying Alive. Yes, we dressed that way.

Donna Summer was 60 years old when she performed at The Nobel Peace Prize Concert in 2009, and she had the whole crowd on their feet. I guess Robin and Donna are having their Last Dance in the hereafter (whatever that means to you)

But I think maybe this song says it all:

RIP Donna Summer

RIP Robin Gibb

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Text From The Dog

Before you click on the link I must warn you of two things. 1) There is foul language, so if that kind of thing bothers you don't click on the link. 2.) Swallow whatever you're drinking, and you might wish to take a trip to the bathroom, so you don't wet your pants.

Text From the Dog. 

I, of course, had to read today's post when I went to get the link for you... 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


If you are a writer, then you need to read this article: The Paradoxical Secret of Obsession-Worthy Branding. It is the first and only article that I have read about branding that discusses how creative people can create their brand. Hint, it's not the same way as other businesses, because your selling an experience (reading a book) not a product.

A fascinating article. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

How Do You Shop for Books?

I'd like your input. How do you shop for books? Before you started writing and joined the various online writing communities, how did you discover new authors to try out?

Robert Lee Brewer on his blog My Name is Not Bob has been having a platform building challenge for the month of April. I've been reading his posts everyday. And after arguing over the necessity of SEO, I started wondering how other people shop for books.

I go to the bookstore or the library and browse the shelves. First I check on whether my favorite authors have anything new out. If I don't have enough books in my arms, then I start looking at new to me authors. When a cover or title catches my eye, I pull it off the shelf and read the back blurb. If it sounds interesting, then I buy it or check it out.

I'm more likely to hear some buzz about a new book now, but even before I started hanging out with writers, if a book had buzz then I would check it out. I discovered Harry Potter through a newspaper article in the LA Times way back when.

To effectively market a book, you have to reach readers who are going to buy that book. So I am gathering information on book shopping habits. How do you shop for books? How do your friends and relatives shop for books?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Me, too

Creativity comes from vulnerability is one of the findings of researcher Brene Brown. So before you slink away because the title of this TED talk is "Listening to Shame," I am sharing this with you because I think what she has to say in this twenty minute talk might help you with your creative endeavors.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Where Good Idea Come From

Fascinating: "Where Good Ideas Come From" by Steven Johnson. Take a look.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Skin Color is not Character

A week or so ago, there was a bit of a brouhaha over the race of the characters in the movie Hunger Games. I participated in a discussion of it on the Skull Honey blog.

While I think that there could be more non-white characters in fiction, the truth is that a person is not the color of their skin. Underneath the surface of skin color, eye color, hair color, etc. we're all the same. We all want to be happy. We all have had experiences in our lives that have shaped who we are. You can give two people the same life experience and given the differences in their personalities, they will respond differently and come out of the experience changed or not and in different ways.

So, the character of Rue in The Hunger games has dark brown skin and eyes, and from that description the reader is supposed to leap to the conclusion that Rue is African-American. But there are other ethnic groups in the world who have dark brown skin and eyes: Native Americans, Arabs, Italians, Greeks, Latinos, Polynesian, Indians, etc. If dark brown skin and eyes is all I have to go, I can not determine what ethnic group the character belongs to. I don't have enough information.

Even if I have enough information to determine that Rue is African-American, that does not tell me anything about her character. Expanding that out into any novel, skin color tells me nothing about the person's character. Someone who is African-American could have grown up in the ghetto, but they also could have grown up in a middle class neighborhood or an upper class neighborhood. Most of the African Americans that I have been acquainted with are professionals. They're doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, etc.

Many writers describe a character's eye color, hair color, skin color, and other physical characteristics. Unless it is put into some sort of context, none of those details tell the reader much about who the character is, what they want, what their goals are, what their personal demons might be.

It's something to think about.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Rollicking Tales: The Blog Tour

Thomas Pugh, the editor of Rollicking Tales, is here today to share his inspiration for starting up a new anthology.

I was asked by Diana to tell you all about my inspirations for Rollicking Tales: The Farmer’s Almanac. Well, I suppose this can be broken down into two parts. Firstly why was I inspired to edit an anthology of agriculture based tales, after all it doesn’t immediately grab one as a thrilling subject.

Well firstly I am a farmer, and the old adage, stick with what you know, has some merit to it. I like farming, my family has been farming for more generations than anyone knows, so why not.

But also, it is quite a universal theme. People always need to eat, and that means there will always need to be agriculture of some sort. It could be a tale of Neolithic man, when first they sowed some wild corn; or a tale of 28th century slug farmers on the outer reaches of the known universe.

More than this though, looking at a society through its farmers gives, I think, a new and interesting perspective on a universe. It is all very well to write tales of the heroes and kings, but these egotistical posers need to eat something, so somewhere there will be a downtrodden peasant, with a team of oxen, and New Holland 6070 or what ever the 28th century equivalent is. Let’s hear his (or indeed her) story, itsn’t it time they had an adventure?

The other half of the question is why edit Rollicking Tales at all. This is probably easier to answer. I love story telling. Since I’ve started writing properly and even had a couple of things accepted for publication I’ve really felt like I’ve found my calling. But to me, I don’t want to just be involved in the process from one angle. In this day and age storytelling doesn’t just need a teller and a listener (both roles I am happy to fulfil), it also needs a publisher, someone to get these stories from the writer to the reader. It might not sound like the most exciting link in the chain, but I’m loving it.

In some ways it is the best of both worlds. I get to decide the flavour of the stories I want, the topic and the style. But I also get to read great stories sent to me from all over the world.

Really, as the name suggests, Rollicking Tales is inspired by the old pulp magazines of the early part of the 20th century. I want to capture the sense of excitement these publications conveyed. My aim is the same as theirs was, to package great stories as inexpensively as possible and make them available to a wide readership. With the advent of digital books, and the increasing technology behind printing this is becoming more possible by the day. I think a new era of pulp is around the corner, and Rollicking Tales is here in the vanguard.

This post is part of the Rollicking Tales Blog Tour. Tomorrows post is at The Daily Steampunk (
To follow the tour from the beginning go to The Various Electronic Missives of Thomas H Pugh (
The Rollicking Tales website can be found here:

Thank you, Tom, for joining us today. Tom also likes pigs and included a pic of pigs in his blog tour package to me. Aren't they cute?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Guest Post: Lindsey Duncan on Unusual or Strange Sources of Inspiritation

Lindsey Duncan is here today talking about the strangest or most unusual sources of inspiration that she has had. She also has a book coming out, Flow from Double Dragon Press.

Thanks to Diana for having me on her blog! Diana and I have known each for a while. I had the pleasure of proofing for her magazine, Emerald Tales – always a good read. And when she suggested the topic of the strangest or most unusual sources of inspiration, how could I resist? (Note that I’ve interpreted this as strange sources for ideas, not necessarily strange ideas in themselves. That would fill a whole volume …)

The first story that leaps to mind was inspired by a computer game. Part of the game involved a mystery sequence where you investigate an outbreak of vampirism in a small town, eventually to discover that the town priest is behind it. However, the game was buggy, and if the sequence wasn’t played in a precise order, the confrontation dialogue with the priest wouldn’t trigger … even though your characters had all the appropriate information. I tried several times to confront the priest, only to receive a blessing every time.

Finally, in annoyance, I shouted at the screen, “Stop blessing me, you’re the villain!”

I stopped, considered this. What a great line of dialogue. I then wondered how such a thing would come to pass, and what kind of character would say it. This turned into “Loyal Dice,” (forthcoming from Darwin’s Evolutions) the prequel to Fatecraft …and I used that opening sentence verbatim. It shaped Pazia’s personality: brave, forthright, and a little snarky. It also gave me the starting place for the antagonist, a priestess of the hearth goddess. But the story bears no resemblance to the game beyond the involvement of a cleric.

On a more disturbing note, I took inspiration for another story from a personal mishap. I am a terrible clutz, constantly bumping, knocking and bruising myself. At one point, I took a particularly impressive slide down the stairs on my leg. The resulting bruise turned out quite artistic – looked, in fact, like an angel. My brain took a left turn from there and pondered a form of temporary tattooing created by deliberate bruises. This turned into a murder mystery, where the “art” was confounded by real injuries.

I’ve always enjoyed randomly generated parameters for stories, whether it be collecting words from volunteers or hitting random on an art site and weaving the images into a plotline. I’ve found divination cards, such as Tarot, to be useful for this purpose, as well … and even an old deck of Magic: The Gathering cards contributed to the cause. I also bought a deck of cards for a fairy tale storytelling game, and “Sleepwalking” (Alternative Coordinates, Winter 2009) came from this.

Probably the most unusual generator I’ve used was intended to create plots, albiet for a very different venue: the 48 Hour Film Project, a madcap adventure where each team is given a character, prop, genre and a line of dialogue and set loose to create a (no more than) seven minute film in the next two days. I participated in the 48 Hour Film Project once as a scriptwriter and had a blast. We had a “road trip” film that involved toting a kayak (one of my contributions to the script was a series of increasingly more complex palindromes), filmed mostly at night. I got sleep – I’m not sure anyone else did!

I ended up writing a bunch of practice scripts from a generator connected to the Project – and one, a recruitment drive for a superhero reality TV show, turned into the short story “Super Solutions.”

So those are some of my most peculiar idea sources, stumbled across over the years. Who knows what the next one will be?

LINDSEY DUNCAN is the author of contemporary fantasy Flow, just released by Double Dragon Publishing. Flow follows the water-witch Chailyn, on dry land for her first mission, and Kit, a contemporary teen with mysterious powers, as they seek the man who killed Kit's mother ... a goal which catches the interest of the darkest of fairies. They must also deal with the Borderwatch, a zealous organization that hunts fairies and has been in a cold war with the water-witches for decades.

Flow can be found here:

To tie back to this post, three of her short stories are also available for individual sale:
Taming the Weald:
The Naming Braid:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

SEO for Authors: Is it Necessary?

Here and there around the internet I've heard that authors need to make sure that there websites and blogs have SEO or Search Engine Optimization. I put the information into my memory banks and didn't much think about it. But then the other day on an industry blog, a web guru advised writers to hire a web programmer to build a website for them to include SEO at a cost of $1000 - $1500 AND to ditch blogger and set up their blog on wordpress because you can't do SEO on blogger.

The engineering part of my brain went WTF?!? You can edit the html code on blogger, so you can do whatever needs to be done to get SEO on your blog. But I was assured by the webguru and the blog host that ALL the web progamming experts and gurus say that you NEED to have SEO on your blog and website. The engineering part of my brain was not satisfied with their answer.

Here's the thing about web gurus and computer geeks, they love the bells and whistles of computers and programming. I have much experience with these types of people as my son is one of them. "Oh mom, you need this sound card and this video card to get the best sound and graphics on your computer." Except that I wasn't into computer gaming and those things are only necessary for a great gaming experience. Then there are the mac users vs. windows users arguments. Yeah... Most of us couldn't tell the difference between using a Mac and using Windows. The only people who need to use a Mac are those people who do sound and video editing or graphics like architects and graphic artists. So, the probability that a web guru is telling you that you need to have something you really don't need to have is high.

Web programmers and developers love to complicate things as well. Here's an example: CSS or Cascade Styling Sheets. I still haven't figured out why they are better than using the font or italics or bold codes. In HTML the code for italics is < i > . With a CSS, the code for italics is < s p a n s t y l e = " f o n t - s t y l e : i t a l i c ; " > You tell me which one is easier to remember and type? Right. And yes, I have not yet learned how to use CSS as it appears to be a waste of my time and energy and makes an easy coding job more difficult.

Your eyes are probably rolling into the back of your head, so I'll get to the point.

SEO is Search Engine Optimization. It is doing things to your blog or website so that it will appear higher in the search engine results like google or yahoo or whatever search engine one uses. Sounds like something one really needs, right?

Well, no, not if you're an author. People do not use google or yahoo or some other search engine to browse or search for books they might like to read or new authors they might like to check out. It would be a monumental exercise in frustration to search the entire internet for a book or author when you're just browsing. Amazon or Barnes and Noble are better places to browse for unknown books or authors. In other words, regardless of whether you have SEO or not, no one is going to find you doing a general search on google or yahoo.

And if someone does a search for you using your name or the title of your book on google, then you will pop up in the first slot or at least on the first page. I tested this with Cherie Reich, Aubrie Dionne, Nyki Blatchley, Lindsey Duncan, and a few others. Mette Pesonen who's only published work is The Annals of Hypnosia on Scribblers and Ink Spillers comes up on the top spot of a google search. And none of these pages have SEO.

The bottomline: SEO for an author is a waste of time and money. And if someone tells you to spend FIFTEEN HUNDRED dollars to do it, run the other way.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Author's Gender

"I rarely read books written by men." I ran across this statement yesterday and it got me to thinking.

If a man said, "I rarely read books written by women." We would jump all over his butt for being sexist...

Both of those attitudes are ridiculous and limiting for the same reason: The person is automatically rejecting a book using a criteria, the author's gender, which is irrelevant to the quality of the story. There is no gender difference in being able to write well. People who pass over a book written by one gender or the other are missing out on some great books.

And here's the ironic bit: Unless there is a picture of the author on the cover of the book, you do NOT know the gender of the author. There are men who write under female pseudonyms and women who write under male pseudonyms. It is possible that the person who "rarely reads books written by men" is primarily reading books written by men using a female pseudonym.

It's something to think about.

Now if you're consciously trying to read more books written by women or men because you're reading selection seems to be skewed toward one gender, then carry on. That's a different situation as you're attempting to be more inclusive in your reading choices.

Excluding a book because of the author's gender is just silly.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Underwater Dogs: The Photographs and Cat Diaries

Seth Casteel, a pet photographer, got the brilliant idea of taking his camera underwater in a swimming pool and taking pictures of dogs swimming underwater to get their pet toys which had been tossed into the pool. This is the result. I think I might buy a print of that black labrador. It's too funny cute to pass up.

Carli Davidson decided to take pictures of dogs shaking water off their fur.

To be fair to the felines, I ran across this youtube video: Cat Diaries: The First Ever Movie Filmed by cats. They put gopro video cameras on the cat's collars to see the world from a cat's point of view.

Monday, March 5, 2012

12 Things You Were Not Taught About Creative Thinking

Here's an interesting article: 12 Things You Were Not Taught About Creative Thinking

Hmmmm It's not a rejection, it's a market that doesn't fit the story.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Peeing Outside of the Box

My cat is doing research for a nonfiction book to be titled: "Peeing Outside of the Box: Tricks and Tips for Annoying Your Human Servant".

I found the following notes:

Pee outside of the box - This trick is particularly good for male cats as our urine smells really BAD. To accomplish, step into the kitty box so that all four feet are in the sand, then lower your hind end so that it hangs over the edge of the box, and pee on the floor. You can't get in trouble for doing this because technically you are in the box when you relieve yourself. WIN!

Howl at the Moon - Yes, I know this is something the dog does, but it is so much more annoying when you do it. It also helps to be born with the a voice that resonates on a frequency that can not be ignored. WIN!

Bonus points for howling if you can do it at 4:00 AM while running. Even more bonus points if you begin your run at the point farthest away from the human's bed and end with a flying leap onto the human's head. WIN! WIN!

Needless to say I am not amused at being the subject human for his research.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Your Blog Design: Some Things to Keep in Mind

One of the good things about Blogger is that you don't have to know webprogramming in order to have a blog. It is very easy to customize your blog to reflect who you are. But here's the catch, your primary goal with your blog is for people to read it. So you have to balance your personal creativity with readability.

I cruise around the blogosphere reading the blogs that I follow, checking out new ones, bookmarking the ones that I like some of which will end up on one of the sidebars. Recently I've noticed a couple of things: blogs which were hard to read because of the color scheme, links which were almost invisible because of the chosen colors, having to scroll down through a lot of stuff to find what I am looking for, and so on.

Here are a few things to consider the next time you change your blog or website design.
  • A white background with black or dark letters is easier for most people to read.

  • White letters on a dark background is also not hard to read, but most people prefer having a lot of white space around what they read and you can't get that with a dark background.

  • Make sure the colors for your links are clearly visible.

  • Put the important information near the top.

  • If you like strong colors, consider using them as accents instead of background colors.

In case you didn't notice, I tweaked my layout to get my other blogs of interest up closer to the top. Now, if I could just find a better picture for my background...

Monday, February 20, 2012

50th Anniversary of First US Man in Space

Today is the 50th anniversary of John Glenn's historic orbital flight in Friendship 7. I find it rather amazing how far we have come technologically in 50 years. In 1962, there were no personal computers, no cell phones, no vcrs, dvd players, microwaves, no handheld calculators. Television was still in black and white and reception came through rabbit ears on the set if you didn't have an antennae on the roof. Engineers were still using slide rules to make their calculations.

Take a look:

I have to wonder where we'll be technologically fifty years from now...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Difference Between Literary Fiction and Genre Fiction

I finally figured out the difference between literary fiction and genre fiction.

A member of the writing forum that I frequent was struggling to write the beginning of her novel. If I remember correctly, she is attending a prestigious masters program in Creative Writing. (I might have that bit wrong, but it is something to do with literature and writing.) In frustration she said: "I have eight books on craft and not one talks about how to write the beginning of a story."

I've been puzzling over this for the past few days. I have a lot of writing books and they do cover how to start a novel. Why wouldn't at least one of her text books cover that element of fiction?

And I puzzled three days til my puzzler got sore
Then I thought of something I hadn't before:**

Most how to write fiction books don't cover literary techniques like allusion, synechdoche, alliteration, et al. Genre writers don't concern themselves as much with literary technique as they do about plot, character, world building, beginnings, middles, and ends. We might use those techniques in our writing, but we don't talk about them or how and when to use them. We might not even know that we are using them or know that we are using them but can't tell you what it is called. Think about it: When was the last time you saw a writer of genre fiction blogging about hyperbole? I bet at least one of you has run off to dictionary reference dot com or wikipedia to look up allusion, synechdoche, alliteration, or hyperbole.

So it follows that a textbook for a prestigious program in creative writing or literature is going to focus on literary techniques like those previously mentioned. You can find a list of them on wikipedia: And won't cover the elements of fiction like plot, characterization, world building, and yes, beginnings, middles, and ends.

When I took literature classes back in the dark ages when dirt was young, if we talked about a character we discussed hubris not whether we could relate to the main character or whether the MC was likeable or not. We didn't talk about the kind of plot that was used, we talked about foreshadowing and red herrings and things like that.

But just think of how powerful a novel would be if it incorporated both literary techniques and the elements of fiction. There's no reason in the world that genre fiction writers can't use literary techniques nor literary writers incorporate the elements of fiction into their stories. And it just might make the writer's story that much better. It's something to think about.

** If you didn't recognize the literary technique or did but can't remember what it is called, this is an allusion to How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.

Look at Yourself After Watching This

Nick Vujicic's website:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Defying Gravity by Cherie Reich

Before I talk about Defying Gravity by Cherie Reich, I want to state that I only recommend books that I have paid for. This leads me to a bit of a dilemma when the book is written by someone I know to be talented, but because I don't own an ereader, I can't purchase the book for myself. So when Cherie Reich asked for people to review her book Defying Gravity on their blogs, my hand shot up in the air so fast that I think I strained something. Having published two of her short stories, Io Saturnalia and Grave Mistakes, I felt confident that the story would be good and that I could recommend it to people. So she sent me an ARC to read so that I could write my review and I completely forgot my rule about only recommending books that I have paid for.

What to do? What to do? I feel strongly about putting my money where my mouth is. And so I will say this about Defying Gravity by Cherie Reich: If I were still publishing Crystal Codices, then I would pay her for the right to publish this story. And that actually says a lot, because I passed on a lot of the longer short stories that were submitted to Crystal Codices.

Defying Gravity grabbed my attention from the start and held it until the end. There was tension throughout the story. I thought it was going one way and it would flip and go another way. The plot was very satisfying from beginning to end.

The story switches back and forth between her two main characters and that let me as reader really get to know Linia and Alezandros and their hopes, dreams, and fears. They were real 'people' with many dimensions not cardboard caricatures.

It's a great story! I highly recommend it! You can buy it here.

Defying Gravity by Cherie Reich

Book Description: Homesick upon the SS Perseid, Linia, a young linguist, thinks she signed up for a mission of peace, but her crew members have another plan: attack the planet Medusa.

Bored with his dying planet, Alezandros, a space cruiser pilot, joins the Medusan army in his quest for adventure.

When the SS Perseid clashes with the Medusans’ army, Alezandros and Linia’s lives intertwine. Sucked through a wormhole, they crash upon a post-apocalyptic Earth and are captured by cannibals. In adjacent cells, Alezandros and Linia cast their differences aside for a common bond: escape. But when romantic feelings emerge between them, they might do the unthinkable because for a Medusan and a Persean to fall in love, it would defy gravity.

Book Links: Surrounded by Books Publishing



Author Bio: Cherie Reich is a writer, freelance editor and library assistant. She enjoys writing horror, fantasy, and mysteries, but she doesn’t let that stop her from trying other genres. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and her e-books include Once Upon a December Nightmare, The Best of Raven and the Writing Desk, and Defying Gravity. She is a member of the Virginia Writers Club and Valley Writers and placed third in Roanoke Valley’s BIG READ writing contest.

Author Links: Website



Twitter @bookworm0753!/bookworm0753


Sunday, February 12, 2012


Hey all you bibliophiles, here are several cool videos about books.

It's a Book!

Organizing the Bookcase

Those guys had so much fun organizing their bookcase, that they went and played in a bookstore

And last but certainly not least, there's a brand new reading device on the market!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Looking-Glass Milk by Kristin Janz

Kristin Janz has reissued her short story, Looking-Glass Milk, on Kindle. I originally published this story in the Crystal Codices line which are now all out of print. If you missed it the first time, now is your chance to get it from Amazon. You can find it here.

The blurb:
On a hostile planet far from home, two scientists stand on the verge of a discovery that could alter humankind's understanding of the origins of life itself. But more than science is at stake, as Tanais and Xichen wrestle with questions of politics and identity, and race against time to redeem captive crew members from a terrible fate.

Go! Buy it now! It's only 99 cents!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bumble Bindlegrim

Check out The Holiday World of Mr. Bumble Bimblegrim. It comes from the imagination of my amazingly talented cousin, Robert Aaron Wiley. His blog Bindlegrim also has some amazing stuff on it.

I snagged this from his about page on his website:
Hello! My name is Robert Aaron Wiley, and welcome to the holiday world of Mr. Bindlegrim! An alter ego, if you will, for myself who never had much restraint when it came to holidays - always starting too soon, or too late (as evidenced by my parents confiscating that obnoxious 70s Halloween vinyl, I was playing over and over well after the holiday was done). Later in life, 2004 to be exact, I rediscovered my interests in these traditions, exploring them through art, writing, and music, and most recently novelty objects like bobble heads.Please look around, enjoy, and contact me if you have any questions:

This is the book trailer for his halloween book:

Check it out!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Market: Rollicking Tales

Thomas H. Pugh, a forum friend, is starting up a new publication called Rollicking Tales. This will be a themed anthology.

The first theme is Farmer's Almanac and the deadline is December 31, 2012. Submission details can be found here.

My only involvement with this publication is that I tried to rain on his parade of starting up a new publication. (It's A LOT of WORK.) Fortunately for you, he had an umbrella of enthusiasm and passion for publishing.

Check it out! Rollicking Tales!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Serious and Silliness

First the serious. I was beta-reading a short story which had a fantasy being based on bears, eg a bearlike humanoid. Which I think is pretty cool. The problem I had with it was the description of their nails. The author used talons, so I imagined bird type feet because talons are what birds of prey (eagles, hawks, falcons, etc.) have. Bears have paws and claws.

While nails, talons, claws, and hoofs are the same anatomical structure in vertebrates they really aren't synonyms. Primates have nails. Birds specifically birds of prey have talons. Bears, wolves, cats, dogs, etc. have paws and claws. Horses, cows, goats, sheep, camels, etc. have hooves.

If you're going to base a sentient fantasy creature on a known species, then take some time to look up that species anatomy. Otherwise your friend with a zoology degree is going to get confused.

Now for some silliness.

Giant Pandas playing in the snow

Even funnier

Red Pandas playing in the snow

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Do Something; Do Anything

I think I need to watch this everyday until the message sinks in.