Skip to content

Reality bites, at least where traditional publishing is concerned

From time to time, I’m asked whether I think a writer should publish their book as an indie or try to go the traditional route. Depending on who it is, I might temper my response a little. By that, I mean I will tell them the decision is theirs to make. Then I ask them why they consider going the traditional route. Almost every time, the answer is the same: they want to get into bookstores. You know me. So you know my follow-up question is to ask them where the closest bookstore is, when the last time was they were in the store and how many books a year do they buy from there. Almost always, you can see the lightbulb go off over their head as they consider the question.  Read more

The weakest link

It’s been one those days, which, shall I say, has not gone well. We spent 7 hours sitting in our airport waiting for my younger son’s flight to leave (and him with connecting flights and business meetings to get to). The plane never ever arrived, and the Sharp – the airline company – don’t seem to have figured that telling their local front desk what is going on (let alone those saps, the passengers, who are paying more than a flight to New Zealand for this trip) is a really, really, really good idea. It’s not just good business sense, it is near essential for the little local tourism industry – which provides their customers and is our second biggest income earner and employer. Being unreliable is a problem for tourists and visitors. Sometimes that is unavoidable. Telling them they have 6 hours to spend at the beach, beats the trousers off leaving them sitting in the airport, guessing, getting angry, frustrated and upset.

Let’s be clear, the local staff do a great job and are very popular with the islanders. The pilots are exceptionally competent – flying a small ‘plane (16 seater) into a small, windy roaring-forties airstrip. If you have been on this run, you’re a skilled pilot, used to dealing with exceptionally bad conditions, in an old-ish aircraft, without the modern tools to make easier. One fondly assumes the ground-crews and mechanics do a good job as none of the planes have crashed. But their communication – presumably one person — suck, letting all of the rest down. Read more

The Chosen Hero

It is a trope that has been overdone, especially in fantasy, or so everyone seems to say. A prophecy of a Chosen One, a child born to be special, or a man or woman blessed by the gods to be better, stronger, wiser, braver, the one foretold who will save the world. And so he or she does.

I suspect my mind wandered this direction because this is the time of year when readings and songs talk about a Chosen One, a hero sent to save his people, a messenger of G-d. Now, the idea of signs and foreshadowings is not limited to Judeo-Christian traditions. King Mithridates used the legends of Alexander and Cyrus to have himself shown as one foretold. Some Chinese traditions hold that the mother of Confucius was visited by a special animal, a ki-lin, that foretold she would bear an especially blessed and noble child. Read more

Marketing, Promotion, and Other Bad Words

I saw a book recently I’d like to buy, possibly. But there’s a problem. I just bought two books, haven’t had time to read them yet, and I’ve maxed out my book budget for the month. Drat. Oh, well, I have more books in my to be read list than I can possibly read in the scant free time I have… driving on.

Then I sat back and thought it through. As a reader, this was a ‘oh, that looks neat, can’t do it, no worries,’ kind of moment. If I were that author, though. If I were that author, I’d just have lost a sale and I’d have no idea why. Now, here’s the thing: it’s absolutely not the author’s fault. There’s nothing wrong with the cover. It fits the genre and attracted me as it is signaling genre I enjoy reading. The blurb is intriguing without being too revealing. The lead-up post that got me to link through to the book was funny if wordy, but suitable to audience. What went wrong with this potential sale was all on my end. The timing was off. Read more

Reviewing “A Pillar of Fire by Night”

51pxpEXAyRL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_I have kept nearly book I’ve purchased or received in the last 17 years.  Reading and a love of literature are a hobby my mother taught me, even though she was by no means a fan of reading herself.  With extremely rare exception, she encouraged me to read all that I could get my hands on. My father (the real bibliophile in our house) even told me he understood if I read Marx, Hitler,  or Mao, so long as I understood what their idiotic socialist theorizing led to- pointless death and starvation.  

Across the years, I’ve come to appreciate the joy of reading.  When you’re stuck in Helmand province with not a damn thing to do but wait for fire missions, books are a wonderful way to pass the time.  They don’t run out of batteries, you can mark your page if you need to stop, and immediately go back to it when you’re done with tasks.  Perhaps the most militant of all the authors I’ve read in nearly 31 and a half years has been Tom Kratman.  It’s been an amusing evolution to say the least, but in that vein, I get to review his newest piece of work- A Pillar of Fire by Night.  We’ll refer to it by its initials (APoFbN) for simplicity’s sake.  

Read more

Catching Bombs

On the day job – as a software tester – we refer to those derailing incidents that leave what you’d planned to do in ashes as “bombs”. Possibly because they bomb your plans and schedule to hell and gone.

I’ve been juggling the bloody things for way too long.

Read more

Words And The Lonely Writer IV – COMMUNICATE!

Now we reach the part of our program in which Sarah gets testy.  Yeah, I know, that’s such a rare sight that you’re all going to be awe struck.

No, seriously.  Stop laughing.

One of the weirdest things about writers it’s that we love language, and we study it and pet it, and take it home, and call it George.  What we tend to forget is that Language is really used for ONE thing: communication. Read more