Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Reviews are mixed. Can I do this??? -- writing tip

QUESTION from the e-mail: I've always wanted to be a writer. Recently I finished my first book and got it published. Like most, I tried to promote it by getting book reviews. I got several three and four-start reviews, but many of the reviewers had a lot of negative things to say, too. Sure, they praise my story. They all like the action and suspense. But then they complain about my commas, and my "point of view," and my characters all talking alike. I went to college. I got good grades on all my term papers, so I ought to know a little about how to write. This negative stuff is hard to hear. Half the time, I don't even know what they're talking about. How can there be "too many semi-colons?" You use them when they're needed, right? Maybe I should just forget about this whole thing.

ANSWER: Good Reviewers almost always talk about both the positive and negative aspects of a book. If they don't, they are usually friends of the author who go and place a glorious, 5-star review just for friendship's sake. So first thing I know from what you said is that these are "good, honest, unbiased" reviews, not the kind you pay for. They looked for things to pick on as well as nice things to say. That's "fair and balanced" and tells folks right away that your reviewers are being honest with their praise.

Every first novel gets hit hard by reviewers. You should look up some of the early reviews on people like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Having said that, no less an authority than Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., has advised fiction writers to avoid semi-colons. He says they're "just showing off," and he may be right. In term papers, the goal is to sound "scholarly" and authoritative. In fiction, the goal is to create a vivid experience for the reader. One of the best things any writer can do is not to let the words get between the reader and the action. I read a submission recently where the writer had used every fancy word he could think of -- almost as if he had gone through with the thesaurus and picked out every fancy synonym he could find. It was distracting. Worse, one became so preoccupied with the words (I picked up the dictionary more than once), that the story got lost.

From what you said above, you have done well with the suspense and action and the reviewers all enjoyed the experience you created. So don't let the negative stuff get to you. Instead, think maybe they were trying to tell you something and learn from it. Look at the grammar guide in the back of your dictionary and read the section on commas. Look up some articles on viewpoint. If you have a writers' group, bring these things up for discussion. And when you listen to their advice, remember they are all still learning, too.

I taught writing for more than 20 years. No one learns everything there is to know, and then starts out to write. It's a lifelong learning experience. The more you do it, the better you get at it. Simple as that.

Also, the rules for fiction are definitely different than for exposition. In fiction you need to write dialogue, and write it so it sounds like people talking back and forth -- not stilted or preachy, or awkward. It's okay to use poor grammar or cliches, in dialogue, if your character does. The character's word choices are part of who he is.

Using vernacular was widely condemned by reviewers when Mark Twain first did it. They ridiculed him up, down, and sideways. They assumed because Huck Finn said, "We was fishing," that Twain knew no better. In later editions, he put a disclaimer in the beginning of the book, just so they'd know it was done on purpose. Later, vernacular became a popular device and was widely overdone in the years between 1920 and 1950.

Readers, today, don't have the patience to fill in all those missing g's and such. But the rhythm of the speech may very well be different with characters from different places, or different levels of education, or different backgrounds.

Viewpoint, was the hardest lesson I ever had to learn as a writer. I have posted here about it before. It was doubly difficult because many best-selling authors -- authors whose books I admired -- ignored that rule altogether. Once I understood it, I found that some of them changed viewpoint in the middle of a sentence. First, you learn the rules, then you decide when to break them. The main thing is not to do it unintentionally. Many new writers drop the viewpoint ball a time or two. I know I did. The good news is readers won't notice. The bad news is, good reviewers always will.

So my advice is to cut yourself some slack. You're an intelligent woman. If there are things you don't know yet, then make it your business to learn about them. With writing, as with anything else, practice makes perfect.

Don't beat yourself up because of the criticism. Go write another book.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Cranberry Jelly - recipe

Joan Bramsch’s Home Made Cranberry Jelly

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 package (12 oz) Ocean Spray fresh or frozen cranberries

In a saucepan, mix sugar and water. Stir to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil. Add cranberries. Return to boil, reduce heat, and boil gently for 10 minutes or until jelly starts to gel: stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and cool completely at room temperature - then refrigerate. Makes approx. 2 1/4 cups. Serve with hot biscuits or it’s equally good over vanilla ice cream.

Contributed by Joan Bramsch, author of With No Reservations...This sizzling romance features Ann Waverly, hotel executive, and Jeffrey Madison, an unkempt late-night arrival seeking a room. Though he keeps secrets he awakens in Ann a longing so powerful, she is stunned.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Catching UP!

Books that went to press, or went back to press, this week:

THE MISTAKE, by Bruce Castle



Galleys that went out, or went out again, this week:


DRAGON SPEAKER, by Ray Morand

THE WRITE HONOR, Anna Dynowski(e-books)

THE MISTAKE, Bruce Castle(e-books)



Work continued on :

SNOW ESCAPE, by Roberta Goodman


Still waiting after more than three months for approval from authors before going to press:

A GRANDFATHER'S GIFT, by Hugh Carter Vinson

COLLECTED STORIES OF VITOR URIBE, by Victor Uribe

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What does a publisher do for an author? -- question from the e-mail


Question: What does a publisher do for an author? Couldn't I do that for myself and keep all the money? People tell me, "They just take your money and do nothing for you." How come you're not out there selling your authors' books?

Answer: The publisher operates a business and makes books ready for sale and distributes the files to sales sites. They collect the money from the sales sites and make sure you are paid what you are owed. That is not exactly "doing nothing." Remember, it costs money to operate any business, even on the Internet.

Business Costs involved include: Staff salaries and time, Internet web space, website design and upkeep, an operating web site store; a merchant bank account that will accept and process credit card payments, accountants, cover design, ISBNs, computer equipment and maintainance, printing (if POD is involved) shipping, postage and handling, too. Remember, the printer does not work for free and it costs upwards of $5 for every book we order them to print, including any and all proof copies. No printer gives out freebies.

Every book we publish costs at least $250 before it ever gets posted for sale on the Internet. Authors who ask a lot of questions, who complain about the process, who ask us to redo covers again and again, who change all kinds of things on the galleys because they thought of a better way to put something can raise that investment to $750 or more quite easily.

What publishers don't do, is promote, market, or advertise your books, except by making theme available for sale. Promotion is a time-consuming business and one that involves a lot of work. Some authors do a lot of promotion, some little, but the successful ones put in at least 3 to 5 hours a week in making sure people know about their work. Using social media, like Twitter, Linked-in and Facebook has proved to be a helpful way to do this for our more successful authors.

With more than 250 living authors, we don't have time to do promotion for all of them and it would be unfair to do more for one than another. All our authors are all talented. All their books are good. If we didn't believe that, we would not publish them.

No, Facebook doesn't allow you to sell on their site. But they don't mind if you post that your new book is being published, show an array of covers and ask friends to help you choose one, or mention that it's available on amazon.com or anywhere else when it finally comes out.

So what should a publisher do for you? Give you good, clean files so reader's won't laugh at you (and your publisher!) if a character uses a "pear of scissors" or "takes a peak" around a corner. A publisher should give you a good professional-looking product and make it available to as many on-line outlets as possible.

A publisher should offer your book for sale, collect the money, make sure you are paid for your sales, keep the accounts of what has sold, and pay you on time (we pay quarterly, but many do it once a year). Either way, that's a lot of work.

Most authors have a "day job." Few can live on what they make writing. Most of us write for no more reward than the fulfillment of having done so. I know I couldn't live on my sales, though I have twelve titles for sale. My "day job" is being a publisher and it keeps me so busy that I rarely find time to promote my own work on line. So I do understand when folks don't have time.

Many of you do work hard to promote your work, and for you, I am truly grateful. Most of you do the best you can and I'm grateful for that, too.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tonya Ramagos's Teriyaki Chicken - recipe



Tanya Ramagos’s Teriyaki Chicken

4 boneless, skinless Chicken breasts cut into strips
½ green bell pepper sliced 1/4 cut
½ red bell pepper sliced 1/4 cut
½ onion sliced 1/4 cut
2 tbsp. Vegetable oil
Teriyaki sauce

In a large skillet toss and brown the chicken breasts in the oil over high heat, about 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and onions; saute and toss until the vegetables are lightly browned. Add the teriyaki sauce; toss until heated through.

Contributed by Tonya Ramagos, author of, Forgive or Forget...Mackenzie Olsen's life seems to be falling apart.... Her mother has just informed her of her plans to elope with a man Mackenzie can't stand.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

SOPA and PIPA dropped by Congress

Yes, it's officially done for now and probably won't come up again until 2014.

And that's a good thing. We do not need another "Internet Law" to make book piracy illegal. It already IS illegal. Just ask the FBI and the US Copyright Office.

I've seen many posts on FACEBOOK lately, both for and against these laws. Many post that they don't want to lose "the right to make copies of books or music to share with their friends." None of them seems to understand that sharing e-books, movies, and music on line is Already Against the Law! We don't need a new law passed by Congress against this activity. We already HAVE a good one.

SOME posts, quite a few in fact, denigrate those laws because they don't want a law passed that "makes it illegal to copy and share material on the Internet." They really believe it is legal to do this and that someone is trying to take away their "freedom!"

BUT it already IS illegal to copy and share books, music, and movies. Half the stuff on U-Tube is in violation of someone's copyright. The other day I saw a video of some dogs playing Frisbee in the yard with John Denver singing, "Sunshine on my shoulders," in the background. Cute. Enjoyable. Sweet slo-mo of Rotweillers leaping in the sun...

Now John Denver is dead and cannot sue the dog owner, BUT his music publisher and heirs still hold his rights for the next 150 years, and can certain sue the playful dog guy if they wish to spend the time and money for a lawyer.

They won't, because the dog guy isn't in business, probably doesn't have enough assets to make it worthwhile, and is not using the material to sell a product, but they COULD, and they'd be within their rights. And they'd WIN. Because cute, or not, the dog guy broke the law.

In all my travels on line, I have rarely seen any "used with permisssion" copyright notices attached to uploaded material. Some books have them. Heather Summerhayes Cariou's SIXTYFIVE ROSES certainly does and books that Write Words, Inc. has published with musical references, like Brenda Boldin's series, also carry copyright disclaimers. Or we edited out the illegal references prior to publication.

It is legal to use song titles and the names of song writers. It's perfectly okay to write here that John Denver was singing "Sunshine on my Shoulders," as I just did. But it is NOT legal to use the recording as background music for the dogs at play, NOR to quote from the song lyrics in any book without the music publisher's written permission.

That's the Publisher, folks, not the song-writer.

Now back to the book pirate situation. As I mentioned before. Pirates are in business to collect your ID information. They don't care about the books. That's just the bait they use to get what they really want. It's not going to stop, even if another law IS passed here in the US. Another law will only complicate things, causing courts to wander back and forth about which one applies and how it should be interpreted. If you think this issue is a muddle now, just wait....

We don't need another new law here in the US.

NOW, or in 2012, or ever! We need a Worldwide International Trade Agreement with some teeth in it.

NO law passed by Congress will ever address the bulk of these pirates, who almost always operate Outside the United States -- with China and India leading the pack and Brazil running a short third -- and since they don't live here, they are Not Subject to Any penalties under the US Copyright Law OR any US law at all.

Web hosts will usually drop their sites if they get enough complaints, but those outside the US often don't bother, don't respond to complaints from US publishers, and so on.

ANY law ever passed by the United States will only affect citizens of the United States or people living Inside the United States. I know. I've a whole set routine of complaint procedures developed over the past ten years, and have succeeded in getting some pirate sites removed by their domain hosts. I just complained to the domain hosts that their customer was operating illegally and their site was removed from the web.

And what happened when I did? Pirates.com (not the real name) was back in business as Buccaneers.com within a month, hosted by another web host and with the same web site design, pages, and the same books listed, just as before. Even the old passwords worked. Only this time the web host was in India and they didn't do anything about my complaints and the complaints of other publishers.

Okay, that's negative. The whole situation is negative. And until folks realize that they are breaking the law by sharing their files and stop making copies to give away, the pirates will certainly stay in business, regardless of any and all laws passed. Knowing that their giving away the material to people who will almost certain steal their identity is no real comfort.

No one can legislate morality. Congress tried that with the Volstead Act and gave control of the country over to the law-breakers. Plenty of ordinary citizens ignored that law, because they didn't see any harm in breaking it, and they did whatever they wanted.

Plenty of ordinary citizens ignore the Copyright Law as well. Most would think again if they realized that they were actually stealing the money from another person's pocket. Until we, as a people, become aware that this is a wrong thing to do, nothing is going to change, no matter how many laws are passed.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ginger Cookies - Recipe



Brenda Boldin’s Ginger Cookies

2 cups self rising flour
(OR 2c. flour, 1tsp. baking powder, ½ tsp. baking soda, ½ tsp. salt)
1 tsp. ginger
11/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
½ cup shortening
½ cup molasses
1 egg yolk

Mix sugar and shortening; add molasses and egg yolk. Sir in dry ingredients. Roll on lightly floured surface, 1/4 inch thick. Cut out shapes. Bake on lightly greased cookie sheets at 350-F or 177-C degrees for 10 minutes.

Cool before removing from cookie sheet.
Makes approx. 30 cookies.

Contributed by Brenda Boldin, author of the Alex Masters Series, Dead Birds Don’t Sing, Jailbird, and A Bird by Any Other Name...Alex Masters is back, calling herself “Lexi” now, and working a real job in her brother’s software company. Money disappears, disks go missing, then a dead body turns up, and once again Alex/Lexi is suspect Number One.

A cold and rainy Monday is the perfect day to make cookies.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Catching UP

Rog and I still have the flu. We ARE getting better, but still feverish and "chesty." So not a lot got done this week.

THE CHECKS ARE IN THE MAIL!!


Books that went to press this week:

None.


Galleys that went out, or went back out this week:

DRAGON SPEAKER, by Ray Morand.

THE MISTAKE, by Bruce Castle

No new work began this week. Auditor still has the taxes and is working on them. We will mail out the 1099s as soon as we get them.

Wish I had more news.

Here are some statistics from Fictionwise.com. Please remember, they are based only on our own small company, not for the whole site.


Best Sellers for ebooksonthe.net
Based on data gathered within the last 20 days. Icon explanations
1. Mid-Length [45109 words]A Medic in Iraq: A Novel of the Iraq War by Cole Bolchoz [Mainstream]
2. Mid-Length [41549 words]Murder by Bestseller by Gabriel Timar [Mystery/Crime/Suspense/Thriller]
3. Long [83778 words]The Dreamer Gambit by Kathryn Flatt [Suspense/Thriller/Romance]
4. Long [143563 words]Serious Nuts: The Inevitable Rise of Miss Grainger by Geoff Geauterre [Suspense/Thriller/Mystery/Crime]
5. Long [55288 words]Mr. Right in Turn-Outs [Stockland Firefighters Book 1] by Tonya Ramagos [Romance]
6. Mid-Length [40120 words]Fighting for a Dream [Stockland Firefighters Book 2] by Tonya Ramagos [Romance]
7. Mid-Length [41069 words]Playing With Fire [Stockland Firefighters Book 3] by Tonya Ramagos [Romance]
8. Long [86472 words]Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs [Classic Literature]
9. Short [5762 words]Tales of Courage by Marie Prato [Children's Nonfiction]
10. Long [66544 words]Blue Diamonds by Spencer Dane [Suspense/Thriller/Mystery/Crime]





Highest Rated for ebooksonthe.net
Based on highest average ratings by at least 5 readers. Icon explanations
1. Long [66889 words]A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett [Classic Literature/Children's Fiction]
2. Long [121796 words]Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen [Classic Literature]
3. Long [61049 words]Minder's Oath [High Places Series: Book 2] by Nina M. Osier [Science Fiction/Mainstream]
4. Long [98906 words]Ghost Dancer by Arline Chase [Historical Fiction]
5. Long [113180 words]Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini [Suspense/Thriller/Classic Literature]
6. Long [57142 words]The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie [Mystery/Crime/Classic Literature]
7. Long [75310 words]The Secret Adversary [Tommy and Tuppence Book 1] by Agatha Christie [Classic Literature]
8. Long [68911 words]Dark Elf: [Book 2 of the Red Knight Chronicles] by Ray Morand [Science Fiction/Mainstream]
9. Long [70408 words]Slow Dancing with the Angel of Death [Hollis Ball and Sam Westcott Series Book 1] by Helen Chappel [Mystery/Crime/Humor]
10. Long [76981 words]Tortured Souls [Arbiter Series Book 2] by Matthew L. Schoonover [Horror]


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rowan Cameron's Venison Stew -- recipe



Rowan Cameron’s Venison Stew*
*non-hunters may substitute beef

1 to 2 pounds of venison haunch or flank steak cubed
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 can baked beans (you’ll have to trade for this)
3 medium tomatoes (if they are out of season, the white man has them in cans, too)
3/4 cup minced green onion (tops and all)
1 Leaf of Dried Miracle (bay)
1 tsp. Dried sage
1 tsp. Dried garlic
Salt to taste.
Water as needed.

Heat medium sized rocks in your camp fire until they get red hot. Trim all tallow from the meat. Deer tallow can taste rank, especially it the deer was old, or a buck. Slice and dice a good sized haunch round, or flank steak into 1 inch pieces. And place in leather pot. Add spices, water to cover plus 6 inches, and enough red hot rocks to make the pot boil hard.** When venison is good and tender and rocks have cooled to make the pot simmer, add the other ingredients.

** You can use a stove and a soup pot, but you have to let it boil hard until the meat falls apart at the touch of a fork. Then reduce the heat, add the vegetables, and simmer until done. This recipe works equally well with elk.

Contributor’s note: This is the stew Christy serves to her sister and ex-fiancĂ© when they arrive from the east in GHOST DANCER.

Contributed by Arline Chase, author of GHOST DANCER

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

DRM and security -- writing tip

Question from the e-mail: I notice that you don't use DRM. I have another book with a different publisher and they have assured me that it's absolutely necessary to use it. But I sell far more copies of the book I have with you, too. There seems to be a difference of opinion about whether DRM is reliable or not in my author's group as well. Any thoughts?


Answer: DRM or "Digital Rights Management" involves putting a code in the front of a file that requires a "key" (sent separately via e-mail to the customer) to get the file to open. People who fear Pirates often seek publishers using DRM.

To use it or not, is a decision a publisher makes as a business person. Some publishers feel this enhances the sales experience and will protect the author's file from pirates, which is why it was invented in the first place.

I made a consciencious decision not to use DRM after I received a number of complaints from customers that, even when they entered the key, the file wouldn't open. I also noticed those DRM protected files had more, not less, problems with Pirate sites.

Personally, if I hear of a pirate, I ask them politely to remove the material, pointing out that they have it illegally as the publications rights are contracted to me. If they do remove it, that's that. If they tell me, too bad, you can't touch us, I send a "cease and desist" letter prepared for me by an author who is also an attorney. I copy that letter to the company that hosts the domain of the offender, with a note pointing out that they are hosting an entity that is doing illegal business on the Internet. SOME domains remove the site forthwith. Some warn them. Some could care less, especially some hosts in China.

DRM protection sounds like a good idea. But I do not use it for the following reasons.

1. It annoys customers, who sometimes can't get the book they have just bought and paid for to open.

2. I has been known to scramble formats, making your carefully prepared and formatted files look like crap when they do open.

3. Anyone with a copy of Microsoft Word 7 or above can disable DRM on any file, if they know how. So it doesn't really protect anyone from Pirates, because they make it their business to know how.

Bottom line: DRM was a good idea, but it doesn't work very well. I believe the annoyance factor kicks in and costs sales. In addition SOME vendor sites will not discount or promote books with DRM enabled.

Small publishers get breaks with vendors, who will send e-mail to people who have bought others by the same author, or books in a series, and so on -- a case where spam can work for you -- BUT they do NOT get such breaks if DRM is enabled, or in some cases, if the book's price is $7.00 or more.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chicken Soup -- recipe

Roger and I both have the flu this week. Thanks to all who sent encouraging messages. Still working on the mailing, but am almost finished.

Meanwhile I made some chicken soup. We are both taking it easy as we can and starting to feel as if we may live.

Chicken Soup

Usually I make this soup on Mondays and use leftover roast chicken from Sunday dinner. This time I used a pkg of frozen chicken tenders. Sometimes I add 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, too.
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 4 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can vegetable broth
  • 1/2 pound chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 1 1/2 cups egg noodles
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Cook onion and celery in butter until just tender, 5 minutes. Pour in chicken and vegetable broths and stir in chicken, noodles, carrots, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes before serving.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Catching UP!

Arline and Roger both have the flu. Progress is not progressing as we would like it to in the Chase household.

No books went to press this week.

No galleys went out this week.

Data entry was completed and Shelley wrote the checks this week. The letters and labels are in progress and Arline expects to finish the mailing by Tuesday or Wednesday, if the flu gets better...meanwhile we are snug, safe, and receiving help an tender care from Sid, Kathy, Shelley and David.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Slow Cooker, Baby Back Ribs - recipe

Cook Time: 6 hours

Total Time: 6 hours

Ingredients:

  • 2 racks of baby back pork spareribs
  • grill seasoning blend or salt and pepper
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Sauce:
  • 1 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard or Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 cup white cooking wine

Preparation:

Cut the ribs into serving-size portions and arrange in the slow cooker.
Season them with salt and pepper and add 1 bay leaf.

Combine sauce ingredients and pour over the ribs. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 12 hours, until ribs are very tender. Check after six hours. If the lid to the pot is not tight, steam may have evaporated some of the sauce. Add water, if necessary, to compensate.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Is Amazon Publishing Books Now?


Question from the e-mail Elizabeth Eagan-Cox asked:

Recently, a neighbor who received an Amazon Kindle for Christmas (he knows I'm an author and has purchased my books) asked me if I planned on having "Singles" on Kindle. which I will not bother you with because there is lots of fine print involved.

This caught me off guard, I’ve heard of "Singles" on Kindle/Amazon but I confess, I’m ignorant about "Singles" what they are and what it entails.
So… I went to Amazon and on a page of information about "Singles," it lists the criteria (see below)… and a whole lot more information,
Anyway, the criteria for "Singles" are listed below, I took it from Amazon and I have the long link printed below it.
At first glance, this seems like vanity publishing (an author can submit a manuscript directly to Amazon)… Is it?
 
Elizabeth Eagan-Cox

Kindle Singles Criteria
• Length: 5,000 to 30,000 words
• List price: $0.99 to $4.99
• Original work, not previously published in other formats or publications
• Self-contained work, not chapters excerpted from a longer work
• Not published on any public website in its entirety
• We are currently not accepting how-to manuals, public domain works, reference books, travel guides, or children's books.


Answer: Amazon is helping customers Self-Publish AND incidentally providing themselves with a list of "Bargain Books" to offer to Kindle readers at very low cost. Is this Self-Publishing??? Absolutely!

I will do another blog about this when I get time to explore the fine print a bit more. Meanwhile, here's what I think I know about it now. Amazon is definitely aiming for the "self-published" market here. That means the books receive no vetting, no editing, and have no publisher, so no one gets paid except the author, hence the low prices. Authors do any work that gets done and make all the money, and that sounds like a very good deal to most of them. They can write whatever they like, however they want to, no one says, "Hey, there's no such thing as a fit of 'peak,'" and they never get a return. There is a whole new movement within authors' groups encouraging them to "keep control of the product" rather than seeking (and sharing earnings with) ANY publisher.

Some Self-Published Authors, like J. R. Rain who knows how to exploit the system, are doing Very Well with this. And not just with amazon. You'll find their books on most distributor sites. They spend many hours uploading all the books to sales outlets and tracking sales, a job publishers mostly do for you, and so on. They are very well informed about Internet technology.

But for self-published authors, who don't have Rain's techno-saavy, many will opt for the one outlet. Most of the other books listed this way are crap. A good many people are tiring of the "low priced book" phenomenon already (See Newton Love's Facebook comment yesterday. Newt, if you see this, you might want to post that comment again, here.)

Even "successful" self-published authors produce books where people "peak" at each other, look "threw" windows, and cut material with a "pear" of scissors. I have bought bargain books with all those errors in them and EVERY bargain book I've bought has many editing problems that will never be addressed. I laugh, but then I'm a stickler. Readers either don't know or don't care. Precision with words was once the pride of the publishing world. Sadly, I read a hard-cover Knopf-published book last week that had two errors that even spell-check should have caught. So much for paying proof-readers. Carelessness in such matters are, becoming the standard.

Some self-published authors, like Rain, are good story-tellers and know how to boost their visibility by setting the price at $0.00 for a week or weekend, then blasting the news on social media and offering prizes to fans who "share" the information." They tend to "go viral" and hit amazon's best-seller list while the price is nothing (sales are counted in number of downloads, not in earnings). Rain has thousands of downloads in a weekend and regularly tops amazon's best-seller lists. They also develop new fans that way. Some of them are good earners and actually make a living off e-book sales. One good ploy is to offer the first in a series free for a short time.

On the other hand, without publishers there is no one to "catch" any of the text and editing errors. Amazon certainly doesn't look at content and they will let anyone self-publish a book without even an ISBN. The only time they complain about content is when customers complain to them about the product.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Slow Cooker, Venison Chile - recipe

1 15 oz can red kidney beans
1 1/2 cups thick-sliced celery
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground venison or venison sausage
(If your family didn't get a deer this year, you can substitute hamburger, or even turkey burger, but it's not as good.)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup toasted oat cereal
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tbsp Chile powder*
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
1 can (15 oz.) no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with green chile peppers
1 can (14 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken broth
Chopped tomatoes
* Those who like it hot can add chopped jalopenos to taste
Fat-free sour cream (optional)

Directions

1. In 4- to 5-quart crockery slow cooker place canned beans, celery, onion and garlic (and any optional peppers).

3. In large skillet quickly brown ground venison burger, half at a time, in hot oil. Place burger on vegetables in crockery cooker. Sprinkle with oat cereal, and seasonings.

4. Pour tomato sauce, undrained tomatoes and broth over mixture in crockery cooker. Stir. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 hours. Ladle into serving bowls. Top with tomatoes and sour cream, if desired.

Easy to do ahead and have ready and waiting after a day of play outside in the snow.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

E-Book Pirates

Question from the E-mail: I’m seeing more and more about e-book Pirates and it concerns me. I found one of my own titles on a site that was giving it away. Free! How can that happen? I am sure you didn’t give them permission to give away my book. Why do they give away books, anyway? There are HUNDREDS of titles on their site. Where do they all come from?

Answer: I can’t speak to how they got hold you’re your title, but I can mention some of the ways pirates are able to “find” material to give away and why they do it.

Some publishers, not me, but some, put the PDF up at Bowker’s Books in Print when they register the ISBN. As a protection to our authors, Write Words does not send the whole PDF there, Or to Google’s “search inside the book” or anywhere else except sales sites where we actively participate. Bowker’s security is good, but no Internet Security is infallible.

Authors get tons of spam all the time. One ploy is to offer “free advertising” to authors by e-mail and ask them for one free copy to use for promotional purposes. If the author sends them ONE PDF book file by e-mail attachment, they can then give it away hundreds of times and they can claim to have your permission to do so as it was sent willingly. I don’t know that this is how they got your book, but it DOES happen. A Lot. You would also get lots more “offers” from them to buy advertising on line.

Now all our authors get PDF copies of their books and so do authors with most other publishing companies, and they are then free to use them for promotional purposes, send them out for review copies and so on. That’s what they are for. “Free Advertising” sounds like a great deal to most authors, who are trying to get the word out any way they can, and they do have copies to give away...soooooo...when someone comes along asking for ONE free promotional copy, most of us will bite. But One Copy can be duplicated electronically HUNDREDS of times....

There are also e-book “trading” sites where people who have purchased titles can “swap” their previously purchased copy of your book for someone else’s “used” book. It doesn’t occur to them that there is no such thing as “recycling” a used e-book. The book is copyrighted material. Giving it away is illegal as you still have your original copy. MANY people will argue that they have the right to Sell Used E-Books just the same as paper. NOT the same thing at all! Making a copy to SWAP is just as illegal as copying a Movie, or Musical recording. It is a violation of the U.S. Copyright act and a Federal Offense, according to the FBI.

Bottom line: You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. That works fine with paper books. If I trade a book with you, we each have one book. But if we swap an electronic book, both of us will end up with Two Book Files. And either of us can make hundreds more copies. It’s just not fair.

I can’t say I’ve never made a cassette copy of a musical CD. I do it to hack around in my car with, so the original will not be lost or discarded by mistake when I’m cleaning out the trash. But I wouldn’t do it to SELL a copy. When you “swap” a title at a “used book” site, they are going to use it to MAKE MONEY. There is no other reason for those pirate sites to exist.

Such sites DO give the books away, but Ask You to fill out a “registration” form, to be eligible to “join” the site. It will say sign in, or Join Our Site, or something, but what they want is Your Information. Once they have it, they can send spam to your e-mail address, Pfish your addressbook , and innundate you with all sorts of Trojans and other e-nuisances by e-mail.

Then they sell all the e-mail addresses in your computer to people who want to advertise things and people who want to send out spam. This is HOW folks get those fake messages from you that says you’re in England and had your passport and wallet stolen and will they just wire you some money to help you get home? Because you’re desperate. You’d be surprised how many people fall for this one as the message is sent to people whose names are in their personal addressbook. The message looks like it comes from You and you are Someone they Know, so it looks legitimate. If someone wires them money, they don’t have to be in England to collect, either. They can go to any Western Union, worldwide, claim to be you, and pick up a nice piece of change.

It’s also how people receive viruses and Trojans and software that tracks everything they buy, from THEIR e-mail address. It looks as if YOU sent it. And anyone who reports the spam, reports it under YOUR name as the Sender, Not the Real Culprit. Because they can easily type your name in the “reply to” blank and it looks exactly as if it came from YOU.

Some of those “sign in” registrations ask for your Credit Card info, too. Especially the ones who give books away and sell other goods...and if you fill in the CC info, they then can steal your identity pretty easily. They can order goods or get cash advances sent to a different address “as a gift,” but give your CC number, telephone and home address and you will be hip deep in unauthorized charges that look just like you made them.

BAD things can happen through this seemingly “free book fun” site.

E-book piracy isn’t about the books, anyway. It’s about money. Many authors shrug it off, saying, well, at least maybe some new fans will find me and look for my other books. And that can happen. But if you see your book being given away, call it to the attention of your publisher. Report the abuse everywhere you can.

Because however it happened, it’s Not Free Advertising. It’s costing you sales and every copy they give away, is one copy you might have collected royalties on.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Catching UP!





New Books were posted to the site on Jan. 1:

New Paper:

LOOKING FOR MIDNIGHT, by Helen Chappell, a stripper staying at an artist's colony while writing a tell-all book is murdered.

FIRST WALTZ, by Terry L. White. A sergeant from upstate New York falls for a local girl, while guarding German prisoners of war in Cambridge, MD.

ON WINGS OF TRUST, by Anna Dynowsky. Cupid Cat, the Harmony Village matchmaker, is back at work in the fourth of the Christian Romance series.


New e-books:

LADYSLIPPERS FOR MY LADY: First in the Coverton Mills Series, by Lynette Hall Hampton.

Whether it is coincidence, fate , or predestination, 53-year-old author, Heather Masterson’s life changes in Asheville, NC, when a man lays a book in front of her and says, “Please sign this to the real Alex Hargrove.”

THE MIRRORED WORLD, by Meghan Roos.

In this whirlwind adventure encompassing two best friends’ race to the truth, Rebecca and Riley discover the shocking power time holds through its influence on history – and how one mistake can threaten to send the lives of an entire civilization into chaos.

DEADLY RECEPTION, by C. M. Albrecht.

Chef Merle Blanc, he has the nose. And when millionaire Bernard Goldberg dies during his wedding luncheon in the chef's restaurant, Chef Blanc's nose, he smells murder!

MURDER BY BEST-SELLER, by Gabriel Timar.

Matching wits with competent criminals is the forte of Detective Sergeant Eva Wyatt. In this fast paced story, her quick thinking bags a contract killer, but to find the person who hired the shooter is a hard nut to crack.



PRINT BOOKS that went to press, or back to press, this week: None

E-BOOKS that went to press, or back to press this week: None

GALLEYS that went out or went out again this week: None


YEAR END bookkeeping and corporate tax info is complete and with the accountants. 1099s will be sent to all who earned more than $600 in sales.

PAYROLL for the last quarter of 2011 has begun and should be complete in a week or ten days.


INDUSTRY NEWS

Barnes & Noble Mulls Splitting Nook Business And Selling “Dead Tree”
Publishing Company<http://techcrunch.com/2012/01/05/barnes-noble-mulls-splitting-nook-business-sells-dead-tree-publishing-company/>[image:
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Two bits of news crossed the wire this morning, neither of them good for traditional publishing. First, Barnes&Noble has reportedly put their publishing arm<http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052970203513604577140973038330902-lMyQjAxMTAyMDAwNDEwNDQyWj.html>, Sterling Publishing (their vanity press function), up for sale, a company it bought in 2009 for $115 million. Sterling produces puzzle, game, and crafts books for kids and adults. Not as big a deal as it sounds, but it still points to a reduced
interest in paper-based sudoku.

Second, B&N is mulling the spin-off of the Nook business, a move that will shelter the burgeoning epub business and, more important, pull it out of the listing ship that is B&N proper (the Brick and Mortar Stores). The company reported a loss of $6.6 million this quarter, down about half from last year, but the Nook business has thus far been quite lucrative, leading the company to “pursue strategic exploratory work to separate the NOOK business.”


The Nook generated most of B&N’s online sales for a total of $327 million in revenue, an increase of 43%. Quote a B&N press release, “This increase was driven by continued growth of the NOOK business, offset by a decline in online physical product sales.” All nook sales brought the company $448 million, with an increased potion of that coming through third-party retailers – a point that doesn’t look good for the actual book stores.

In all, they sold 70% more Nook devices over last year.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Eastern Shore Oyster Fritters -- recipe


A neighbor brought us a quart of oysters the other day.

I made some 0f Barfer Robinson Stew with half of them and will make oyster fritters with the rest. This is my great-grandmother's recipe, but it works just as well if you substitute vegetable oil for lard in frying.

1 pt. shucked large oysters
6 tbsp. cream (half & half will also work)
1/2 cup oyster liquor
3/4 c. pancake mix
1/2 c. self-rising corn meal
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

1/2 cup lard for frying. Add more if needed.

If batter becomes too thick from standing, thin it with more of the oyster liquor.


Drain oysters reserving liquor. Put oysters in bowl. Mix in cream and liquor. Add pancake mix, cornmeal, salt and pepper. Mix well. (Batter will be thick).

Heat lard in 10 inch fry pan until smoking hot. (If using an electric fry pan set at 360 degrees and wait until it is fully heated.

Drop batter into hot oil by tablespoon making sure to include 1 oysters in each portion. Cook until brown on 1 side, for 1 to 2 minutes. Turn carefully and brown the other side.

If there is batter left-over after all the oysters are fried, you can fry that, too, and serve it to toddlers or people who are squeamish about eating whole oysters.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My books disappeared -- writing tip



Question from the e-mail: I sent a friend to Mobipocket to buy my books and she couldn't find them. I checked and they are not listed. They were there before. Any idea what happened...?

Answer:

Thanks for the heads up.

Mobi was bought by amazon several years ago. Just now they are revamping the site with new software. They have dropped their entire past inventory and are in the process of picking up their available titles from the Kindle store at Amazon and converting that information to Mobi format. Amazon is also in the process of opening new International stores in Italy, France, Germany, etc. for folks with Kindle devices who want to buy in Euros.

Your titles are both listed for Kindle. All the Kindle titles will be available on Mobi, so your book will "return" there whenever the software catches up.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Black Eyed Pea Soup -- recipe


Happy New Year, Everyone!

Maggie Dix’s Heart-Healthy Black-eyed Pea Soup

2 ½ cups dried Black-eyed Peas
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. imitation bacon flavored pieces
1 handful of dried cholesterol-free (No Yolks) dumplings
Dash of salt (Garlic salt is good, too.)
Pepper to taste

Water to cover plus one inch. If water has cooked away, add water to cover plus 1/2 inch and bring back to a simmer before adding dumplings.

Place all ingredients except dumplings in a 2 quart pot. Cover with water. Simmer until peas are tender. Add dumplings. Cover and Simmer 10 more minutes. Serves four. If you believe in old wives's tales, double the recipe for New Years.

Maggie Dix .