Friday, April 29, 2011

A Good Way To End The Week

We've had floods, I thought we were going to have a tornado (about 2 miles down the road, they've been hit twice in the last 10 years), I have a bad tooth, those 2 reviews leaving me confused and all it's done is rain.

But Mrs. Awiggins, who I was pretty sure was dead, came back today.

And NLM achieved its highest ranking ever!

I was going to say something about a Mary Martin movie I saw years ago.  I can't tell you what the title was.  She played a dance teacher who knew 2 steps more than her students.  When they caught up to her she'd have to go to Dallas (whatever) and go learn 2 more steps.

Here's my advice.  Don't learn anything from someone like that.  A lot of people are well-meaning but clueless about their own abilities to teach.  Find someone with a lot of experience.  I don't want you steered wrong.

My pal Jack Douglas who was a famous comedy writer for decades had a saying "Those who can, do.  Those who can't, don't."  If your teacher isn't doing maybe they're just not that good.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

First Time For Everything Etc

Hm.  I got a less than stellar review on Mr. Mitnick's Harem (A Central Coast Mystery) because my mystery was a mystery. 

It's difficult to respond to this unsatisfied reader.  It says it's a mystery.  Nowhere does it say it's a romance.  Just like Dream Horse never claimed to be an adult book and was given a poor review because it wasn't.

I spend quite a bit of time trying to come up with the best description I can for each book.  Misleading the audience is never on the table.

So was Mr. Mitnick's Harem a good mystery or not?  No, it wasn't a good romance.  I have had readers say they couldn't imagine who the killer was and they were completely surprised at the end.  I don't know if that's true and I would be surprised if a lot of people actually thought that but okay I'm glad to hear it.  At least that has something to do with the book itself.

But this is a review of something that doesn't exist--the story of the romance between....who?  Berry and Coco?  Berry and Mark?  Berry and the owner of the vineyard?

I created this book as the first in a series.  My then agent sent it around and there was admiration for the writing but it didn't have enough hook--the ol' yarn shop mysteries, donut shop, pet shop, blah blah.  If anyone wants to know who Berry did wind up with, email me and I'll be glad to tell since I sincerely doubt I will ever go back to this book series.  Do cozy mysteries have a digital following?  Since editors refer to this audience as "the Large Print Crowd" and that's not a demographic that's likely to adopt the technology RSN (Real Soon Now), I don't sense much urgency in dropping more viable projects.

I had someone write me to ask if there is ever going to be a Blue Raja 2.  That was another leader in a trilogy.
Hopefully I will get to that but since I've sold 11 copies and 1 person has been compelled to ask about it, I'm not putting it at the top of my to-do list.

Who Makes It Who Doesn't

And why.
Search me.
Most people don't make it.  Most people are not going to get out of the 5 figure ranking at Amazon.  Most people are not going to have a hit record.  Most people are not going to make it to the Olympics.  We live in a very competitive world and the playing field is not level.  It never was and it never will be.  You can't legislate uniformity of outcome.
So pretend you're going to fail.  I remember hearing Robert Schuller the Christian pastor say years ago "What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?"  Then everyone ran out to do the things they wanted to do completely without preparing for it.  Yay, thanks a lot, Bob.
So you're going to fail.  Now what does your life look like?  What do you do tomorrow?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Small Brag

Okay.  Big Brag.  It's hilarious.  You have to see the humor, the irony, the sheer bizarre nature of this.
(Oh and I just earned $10 from Amazon for Jan. Feb and March put together.  And I'm ranked behind multimillionaires.)

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Reading Eyes

I frequent a couple blogs written by psychiatrists.  Hmmm.  I like their insights on behavior.  On one this past week, The Last Psychiatrist
was telling us why autistic children do poorly on the Eyes test.  They're shown a series of pictures only of eyes and are asked what is this person thinking or feeling.  Autistics can't seem to empathize or read more about the person from the eyes.  But everyone else can or something.

So I looked at the eyes and was completely stumped.  That it looked like an advertisement for starters was something I couldn't get past.  I couldn't tell if she was selling mascara or a car or perhaps herself (porn).  I had no idea what this woman could possibly be thinking.

"I think she wants me."  Wrong.

The test is 36 pictures of eyes like the one above.  The woman's eyes, above, have choices:
a) decisive
b) amused
c) aghast
d) bored 

HUH?  None of those have to do with eye makeup or selling anything.  Aghast?  How can you see that??  Her eyebrows would go up, no?  They've been plucked and shaped within an inch of their lives but I don't see up there.  I did not go on to take the test.  I don't like tests anyway, they give you an opportunity to fail according to someone else's narrow standards.  That is a trap.

You can take the test here if you'd like.

(Yes the English psychologist who created the study, Simon Baron-Cohen is the cousin of the comic Sacha Baron-Cohen.)

To me this is pretty much a picture like ones we see every damn day where the woman stares blankly into the camera and that's supposed to be sexy.   It's more tabula rasa than anything, it says more about us than her.  We want a blank slate, we want to be able to project (that's something psychiatrists should know a little something about) our desires onto her.  When TLP said above in the caption "she wants me.  Wrong" I think he's wrong.
That's what men want her to be thinking.  What women want her to be thinking?  Could be anywhere from "I found a great new product that ends waxy build-up on your kitchen floors" to "If you want to please your man in bed, here's Cosmo's list of 10 sure-fire ways".

The takeaway of this post is as a culture we're not reading people nor are we able to.  It's a facility we're losing supplanted by texting and tweeting and whatever else we do to distract us from human interaction.  

We appear to be growing more shallow.  Is what's at the heart of us dying or is it still there waiting to be brought forth?  I don't know.  I can't read it in the eyes.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fortune Telling

Joe Konrath's last post is astounding, stunning, and somewhat scary.  You know how bad I am at math, numbers aren't sticky for me, but just let's say he sold 35,000 copies so far this month.

Phew!  And he says this is just the beginning, sales will only increase.
I must admit I'm up 500% over what I ever did before.  (We'll leave the numbers until the end of the month and I will tell all)  I'm still nowhere near Joe.

Is it possible, conceivable this will continue and grow?  Is this a fad?  Has there been such a hidden and passionate desire for books and reading unrealized until the readers came onto the market?

A reader makes reading easier.  The Nook has improved my life, that's true.  I have always gone to the library and taken out a plastic bag tearing number of books.  But your choice is limited at a small library even with interlibrary loan.  A reader makes it all easier and you don't have to lug the books back and forth.  And no late fees.  So sure I can believe other people hold the same feelings.

But at this level?  35,000 copies sold in a month?  To be duplicated next month?  And the next and the next and so on and so forth?  Really?  (I did sell my first copy of Not Low Maintenance in Germany over the weekend.)

I'm sorry I don't have anything smart to say about this.  It's like being caught in a tsunami.  I'm not sure where any of us will end up.  I hope it's true and this is a renaissance of reading.  I hope I was correct when I said there was an audience for my work, even if it's a much smaller niche audience than that of Konrath, Locke and Hocking.  Still if you're drawing from the world, that can be substantial.

I believe this can be the point of the spear.  What we've seen are the people who are the early adopters.  I don't think we've seen the juvenile demographic, and I include YA, enter yet.  The price of the device has been too high to make them commonplace. You can see Amanda Hocking and others making substantial sales to a portion of that audience--the vampires, the horror, the paranormal.  You don't see it across the spectrum though.

My pal in England was given a Kindle for her birthday last week.  She's thrilled and almost giddy.  "I bought my first book!"  She's my age.  This bodes well.

We have not seen the audience who will really benefit from readers enter the population yet.  Older people with eyesight issues, or even hearing problems will find reading  or listening--much more enjoyable once they get accustomed to not holding a book.  Devices should be as common as television sets in Senior Citizen centers.

The economy is bad now but we haven't seen the bottom of this yet.  It's going to get much worse.  When gas goes to $6 a gallon, there will be few among us who can ignore what a predicament we're in.  A book priced at 99 cents will seem like the best deal around.

During the Depression in the 1930s people found the 10 cents to go to the movies.  That was all they could afford.  People looked to films for entertainment and uplifting.  Who was the biggest star of the 1930's?  Shirley Temple.  This is true.  Think about the most popular movies of that era.  Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  The screwball comedies.  The Wizard of Oz.  People need to be uplifted.  You can't look to Hollywood for that now.  Hollywood makes movies that scream their hatred of this country.  That's why their revenues are down.  Most Americans love America.  Most Americans are good and decent people.  If they can't afford to go out to the movies, and what's on DVD or their televisions is too damn depressing, they will turn to reading as a comfort and distraction.

So will sales like Joe's continue?  Oh gee, I'm not a fortune teller.  I don't know.  But I believe digital books are a sea change and are not going away.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A French and Saunders Sunday

I have long admired the comedic genius (I don't use that term lightly) of Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.
These women are funny.  I offer you 2 TWO! clips from their show French and Saunders and regret I can't link to The Cleaning Ladies which is my favorite of all because I experienced a similar situation and they nailed it.

I should mention, yes, Dawn played The Fat Lady in the Harry Potter movie.

Here they do a parody of Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal.

Here they do a parody of Guns & Roses.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Stop Making Sense!

Or start.  One way or the other.

I've been reading some women's fiction (?)/chicklit (?) by Jill Mansell over the past week on Mr Nook.  She comes up with some cute situations.  The books are quite long.  Are how many pages a reader claims the same as in real life?  There are always so many characters with their own story going on I'm dismayed to say I have difficulty telling them apart.  Wait who's Chloe?  I thought that was Pru.

Obviously I'm in the minority because Jill Mansell is enormously popular.

When I was in daytime television, sometimes you'd get into a predicament storytelling-wise.  Things stopped making sense and you'd be trying to get back onto firm ground but you couldn't get there.  My "Michelle" (the character in Sweeps) would say "Just assign it!"  What she meant is state it clearly, then so mote it be.  So Dr. Cutiepie is a genius in microsurgery which the last writer/producer wanted, but you need someone in ER.  Just say Dr. C wanted the excitement of a Trauma Center and play that from now on.  You don't have a lot of choices in daytime.  You still have to churn out a complete show every day, 5 days a week, until the end of time.

Is writing a novel any different?  Hey, Cassie is now in love with Jake.  Play that.  But why is she in love with Jake?  She just is.  Shut up about it.  "If it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage" doo-wop-doo-wop-doo-wop.
Stop singing and just suspend your disbelief!  Don't we need to see some kind of reasons why they're in this...what's it called again...uh love?  It's freaking chemistry, you dolt!!

Sorry I need more than he has gold flecked eyes and she has long legs.

In one of these books I thought we were actually going to see Jill Mansell go into the reason, a reason.  Miss Blue Hair worked in London and on the street outside of the hair salon where she worked was a bum.  She wasn't paid well but shared her lunch with the bum and got him some warm clothes. (Cute situation)  I thought oh finally, a character who isn't hopelessly self-centered and is worthy of being loved.  errrrrrrkkkk, come screeching to a halt.  She went on to sleep with a guy she barely knew, acted a prat and finally did wind up with the bum who was actually a journalist (same thing AFAIC).  I sort of can fill in the blanks and know why he would "love" her but I would have preferred to see this relationship happen instead of it being assigned.

Let's be honest about it.  That may be what people want, it may be what we're all about now, but this is life lite. There is actually another way to live.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


This is the first, but probably not the last, time I'll tackle this topic head on.  

After years in the business, I can say without reservation I don't like agents.  Oddly enough, there is still one agent I have respect for and that's probably misplaced.  Oh well.

Agents wield an enormous amount of power over your life and they don't often have the intelligence or compassion to wield it wisely.  I told my agent, Barry W., much to his horror and denial, that there are 3 sides in any negotiation.  Mine, his, and the buyer.  He denied it of course "I'm on your side."  Nah.  I love you Barry but it's not true.  You threw me under the bus for Paul.

Agents are running a business.  As another of my ex-agents, Deborah S., told me "We're not friends, this is business."  That's a POV that puts a writer in a seriously creepy position.  You work closely with this person for an extended period of time, you reveal your heart and soul, you become vulnerable and then you find the money is the issue not you or your work.  

They handle what they want to handle, not what you want to write.  If you write something they don't handle, too damn bad.  I happen to be interested in a lot of different arenas.  Too damn bad.  As the agent Michael Larson told me "You are a victim of your own talent."  See it was a bad thing I could do too many things well.  It's better to specialize.

Sure there's wisdom in that.  Brand yourself as a fantasy writer and that's good for business.  

But it's not good for a writer.

So a year ago when I started this blog, I had just dipped a toe into digital.  I don't think many people had a clue what would happen in the next 12 months.  Joe Konrath didn't know.  We were all gambling that it could be a good thing.  But still being in the tradpub mindset, I didn't want my name mixed up with something that might ultimately hurt me.  Don't forget I'm the person with 2 resumes, 1 with the television credits and 1 without because those credits hurt me in the eyes of agents and editors.  I had no idea what digital publishing would do.  Would people hold it against you?  Was it "vanity publishing"?  Was self-publishing an ego trip?  How would it be perceived?  No one knew.  Okay then.  Let Robin O'Neill (my old pen name) take it on the chin for me.  I could distance myself from the ebooks and this blog and still be abused by tradpub without repercussions.

This week some quite well known writer in her genre spoke up on a mailing list I'm on.

I may be just a tad overly sensitive to the word "hack" at present,
having lately been told by my very knowledgeable agent that, yes, she's
interested in representing my proposal for a historical novel but she'll
have to present it to editors under a different name than [redacted]
because my having written 23 novels of history /mystery /would
be a liability. If an editor shows interested, then she/he could be
told about my other books, but to know beforehand that I was the author
of history /mysteries /would count against me. So -- decades of
in-depth research and developing the skills to write well and use
history in novels count for nothing because I've used all that to write
 /mysteries. / I find I am annoyed -- to use the kindest word possible in
the circumstances.

This is obscene.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Romance Novels

Not for me, thanks.

Did it take me all this time for figure that out?  Well, not really.  It's not the genre I make a bee-line for when I want something to read.  Actually I don't read all that much fiction anymore because it makes me all schpilkis.  I did buy 2 books from Amazon this week and running true to form they are cookbooks, pastry.  By Sandra Bullock's sister.  Who knew she HAD a sister, not I.  One's about sugar work and I know nothing about that so I thought now's the time to learn a little bit since as soon as I finish Bad Apple 3, I want to finish "Not Low Maintenance 2".

I've been on the Nook since I got it.  It's a wonderful thing and makes reading for me so much more pleasant.  I acquired some books by Jill Mansell so I've been reading those.  They're not traditional romances--I like the covers a lot better--actually they're hardly romances at all.  If the prime directive of a romance is that you must concentrate solely on the lovers, then the Mansell books don't fit at all.  There was one where the guy showed up sporadically, they fought, he'd disappear for another 100 pages, rinse, repeat, until the last few pages where they declared their undying love.  (Scratches head here.)  I don't think you could get that published in America.  Yes, it's published now because it was published in England.  But if you put Chrissy Barker down as the author and switched the details so it would be America and not England, I don't think an agent would be interested.

Yes, they're all very Bridget Jonesish.  The girls drink--a lot--and they have sex with quite a few men who they don't know (which is always a good policy in real life if you want to get an STD, raped, beaten up or perhaps murdered and left in the pine barrens of Long Island, or just simply very disappointed), lead lives without consequence or meaning and generally bemoan that fact without having a clue what's wrong.  At this point the reviews shriek "Bridget Jones is me!"  (Attendant peals of laughter and pride that I suppose there are others who are as fill in the blank as you.)

Romance novel covers look so similar.  That's so potential readers can identify them.  (Note to self--see, that's where you're going wrong, your covers are all over the place.  Even Konrath warns against that.)

Who wrote the first romance novel?  That's a good question.  We know about the gothics--Jane Eyre.  That's never been topped.  Here's the answer from Wikipedia

One of the earliest romance novels was Samuel Richardson's popular 1740 novel Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, which was revolutionary on two counts: it focused almost entirely on courtship and did so entirely from the perspective of a female protagonist. In the next century, Jane Austen expanded the genre, and her Pride and Prejudice is often considered the epitome of the genre. 

P&P, yeah, it's on my Nook.  Does it really focus solely on Lizzie and Mr. Darcy?  What about the whole plot about Jane and Mr. Bingly or whatever his name was.  And that awful awful sister, Lydia going off with that soldier guy.  And Jane Austen didn't pull any punches with Lydia, it was made quite clear she was sleeping with him.

Here's the wonderful Lesley Gore from the 60's (this is from the 80's but I wanted you to see her).  And I like this song.  For once, listen to the lyrics.  I always get yelled at for listening/making sense of the lyrics "Who cares?!  Why are you talking about the philosophy of the lyrics?!!!" 

Hootenanny.  Oh geez, one of my favorite disparaging words of all times.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Swept Away On A Sunday

I don't talk about Sweeps often enough.

Being #1 in 2 different categories--that's very nice.   It's selling well, exceedingly well any other month and it's dragging Fling with it.  I will always be ambivalent about Fling and its relationship to the world.

There's a review up at Amazon for it and the person targets what I think is a fairly important scene but I suppose if you're just reading as fast as you can and you don't tear it apart, then it's indeed nothing more than walking blocks in the rain to have a 3 sentence conversation as she puts it.

So either one must I assume I am a stupid writer and just made a really bad choice, or I knew what I was doing and there's a good reason Ariel was forced out of the office in horrible weather to go have a cup of tea and a couple dry biscuits with the man who had fallen in love with her.  What could that reason be?  (Scratching head in total bafflement)

Isn't that the answer?  A phone call is impersonal but if you want to connect with someone you do it in person.  I think we learn quite a bit from this scene (or it wouldn't freaking be there!).   You make the effort to get to this "3 sentence meeting" because that says "I have time for you.  I will go out of my way for you.  I will be in a wet and steamy heavy wool sweater in a sleet storm to accommodate you."

You pick up clues from facial expressions.  Is someone nurturing?  Does he help you off with your coat?  Did he order in advance to make things more pleasant?  But we can see Dorsey is not a slick character.  Whatever he says, she takes it the wrong way.  Whatever she says, he takes the wrong way.  He made the effort to connect but it didn't work.  That sets the stage for other incidents.  

We know...well, not all of us, there is something personal going on between them that Ariel is going to resist mightily.  But the forces of matchmaking are working against her.  We know there are 2 warring factions at the studio.  We know Dr. Rees is just another burden in the juggling story task the overwhelmed Ari faces.  This seems like a lot of info in a couple pages.

Maybe this scene isn't needed.  Could it be cut?  Well, if time and space is at a premium, sure it can be cut.  The more you cut these quiet personal scenes from your work, the less texture you have.

When my book Will The Real Renie Lake Please Stand Up was bought to be made into a TV movie, I asked to do the script and the producer said no.  Writers don't know enough about their story to turn a book into a movie.
Whatever time passed and by then I was working with P&G on their show Texas or something when Renie Lake aired.  The P&G liaison with a background in the theater came to me and said "They missed every dramatic set-up in the book."  Yes, they did.  As stupid as they perceived me to be, I couldn't have done worse than they did with all their "wisdom".

This is the problem when you mistakenly think that everything has to be big and hot and action filled.  Taking time for a quiet scene which reveals character and foreshadows the future is also important.

Know what you're doing and why you're doing it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Commonplace or Sublime

A couple years ago when I was trying to delude myself into thinking I could write straight romances (I can't, I nearly went nuts writing Love In the Air), Harlequin was offering free books for their 60th anniversary.  So I downloaded several of them and never read them until the last few days.  Because Mr. Nook is a fixture in my life now and I can see to read.

If you want to be a better writer, you have to read books written by better writers than yourself.  In some genres this may be pretty darn near impossible but I betcha it can be done.

I learned a huge amount about writing, not mystery writing just writing, from Ross McDonald.  He was an accomplished and skillful writer, a man who used his mind.  His work is carefully crafted.  I learned how to create metaphors and similies by seeing how he did it.

I learned delicacy from Laurie Colwin.  All her characters are carefully observed.  There is no insufficiency of information but there is nothing unneeded.  Each word is required.  Her people are real people with genuine, sincere emotions.  

When I finally became serious (a condition yet to be accepted by legacy publishing) about writing women's fiction, I had to look long and hard to find someone who resonated with my sensibilities.  I didn't want to hear about body contours or how beastly men are.  I didn't want bitchiness as a stand-in for backbone.  I wanted to see characters behaving like real (decent, nice) people. 
Eventually, by reading a lot of books and a lot of reviews and going to recommendations "People who bought this also bought..." I found Victoria Clayton.  I had to send to England for a couple of her books but it was worth it.  She writes about adults.  Sometimes the characters stumble but they have real lives and are sincere.  It's not fluff.  It's not cotton candy.  You need a dictionary by your side.  I will be forever in her debt for introducing me to the word trull.  She graduated from Cambridge University and it shows.

You won't find these writers using cliches.  The work, the stories, the characters are not derivative.  You haven't seen it or heard it before.

What I learned from Harlequin romances is pretty simple--don't do this.

I wish I could have ended the post there because it was perfect but the women who write Harlequin, Mills Boon and all those sorts of books over the last 50 years believed in the books they wrote.  They're fine stories to distract a reader for 2 hours.  They're needed and appreciated.  Some of them even overcome the genre (but I'm sure it's against the wishes of the publisher).

I will give you the same advice I always give.  Write the best book you can.  At whatever level you're at, stretch.  Think.  Reflect.  Read.  Don't become complacent.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sad News (but not death)

ABC is stupidly cancelling All My Children and One Life To Live.

I think that's all I have to say about it.  I'm in mourning.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Gatekeepers And Why They're Not Morally Up To The Task

This is going to be PG-18 or 38, I'm not sure, so everyone subject to queasy stomachs when confronted with vile material, go to and see lovely photos of food.

For the rest of us, that "marvelous" writer/liar James Frey has a new book out titled The Final Testament of The Holy Bible.  Here's the review in the Guardian (I didn't even mockingly call it the Grauniad)  Feel free to go read it if you'd like.

Here's a quote from the review:

This current crock of mendacity is a "high-concept" fabrication, artlessly crass in its retelling of what's meant to be the greatest story ever told. Christ returns to Earth, to get us ready for the annihilation of our vile, belligerent species. Renamed Ben Zion, he joins a band of apocalyptic loons who hole up in the subway tunnels beneath Manhattan. His divinity seems to be proved when he miraculously survives an accident on a building site after a sheet of glass punctures his skull and severs his arteries. He communes with his heavenly father during epileptic seizures, and gathers around him a gaggle of hapless apostles, to whom he preaches drippy sermons about peace. He licks and laps the genitalia of his female acolytes, disseminating celestial bliss in their nether regions; bouts of tantric sex follow, along with vegetarian love-ins at a rural commune.

This is disgusting and obnoxious, vile, stupid, sick and deranged.  That about covers James Frey.  Except one question.  If you're brave enough to tackle Jesus, Mr. Frey, will you make Mohammed the centerpiece of your next novel?  If not, why not?

I just wasted more of my valuable life on this piece of excrement than I should have.  On to the real topic.

Why was this published?  Let's go for the obvious reason--to make money.  Fine.  But still WHY?  
What is a gatekeeper?  They are supposed to keep the crap from getting through the gate.  So they don't think this is crap.  You take the life of a holy man, the teachings that surround this person have over two thousand years contributed to the civilizing process of the world, and you debase this person and his believers in the most vulgar means possible. 

Try that with Mohammed.  A couple cartoons resulted in deaths world-wide and death threats against the cartoonists.  Yale didn't have the courage to publish the cartoons in a book ABOUT the cartoons because they were worried about fatwas.  They think they've got a good head on their shoulders and would like to keep it that way.

But it makes people in publishing and the media giddy to do this to Christians.  Plus it's safe, right?  Anything good and decent and traditional is to be mocked and torn down, savaged by these hyenas.  They are the gatekeepers. They know what's good for us because we are too stupid to know for ourselves.  So they push this trash at us, trash of all kinds, poor writing, shallow, superficial, inconsequential insisting it's good until most of us don't know the good from the dreck anymore.  They don't know.  Most of them don't.  They don't know they're tearing down the best society the world has ever seen, to be replaced by moral anarchy.  Yippee!

I know.  Not a week goes by that I don't take a shot or two at publishing.  "Why be so angry?"  This is why.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kindle With Ads for $114

That doesn't seem like such a bargain price to have damnable ads on your homescreen.  Hack around that in available in 5...4...3...

$99 maybe.  OR $114 plus a free book priced at 99 cents every month or something.

Over at today they have an excellent deal on Kingston (good brand) micro sd cards 8 gb with an adapter which you need to be able to insert the tiny thing into your computer or card reader and free shipping for about $12.  So I ordered one.

The Nook comes with 8 gb storage so this doubles it or it gives me the ability to root the Nook.

The best vid for rooting the Nook Color

The upgrade is coming (in slow motion) but I have read that it won't include the app Kindle for Android (Did I get that switched???) which is my whole purpose of wanting to root the thing to begin with.  I like B&N (less this month than Dec.) but Amazon does seem to have a more extensive selection.  Without the Android for Kindle app the Nook can't access ... big freaking annoyance.  Be Brave B&N ("Barnes is a great guy but I've heard Noble is a real prick"--Billy Crystal in Analyze This or That who cares.)  Let us access the Kindle store.  Make Bezos look like a coward.  You already blew past him with color.

I finished reading a recently (2010?) published mystery, maybe it's a cozy, it's more Chicklit than that so I don't know what it is classified as.  I won't give the name or the author because it's not my intention to be mean in public.

I couldn't follow it.  The tying  together of all the loose ends at the conclusion, well, that ain't happening.

What I find objectionable about chicklit is that the main character is so bloody self-centered and this amateur sleuth was that in spades.  I really started to hate her and I'm trying to remember if she was that horrible in Book 1 and I ignore it or she got this way over the last couple books.

What the real problem is, I think, that the idea was thin to begin with.  So there was page after skimmable page of filler/nonsense to fill up the book because you have to hit an arbitrary word count or something.  We had a hippie ex war vet or something.  We had the obligatory gay couple.  We had an obligatory earnest young black girl.  We had an obligatory female abuser.  We  had the totally expected political rhetoric clumsily injected in to make us sure Ms Author was in with the in-crowd.  There was a story line that was left hanging completely.

Some novels may just be short.  My first editor, a fine and wise and well-respected woman Jean Karl, said a book is as long as it takes to tell the story.  Having required word counts shouldn't be a factor in digital books.  Digital should be an improvement over the way paper is managed.  Traditional publishing is a tyranny.  It's run by people who make decisions based on nothing concrete, completely whimsical.

Early on in my digital career I was told by someone who sells at lot more copies than I ever will (I'm sure!) that my books are too short.  People are paying 99 cents and they want something as long as War and Peace.  I don't think so.  And the book I read yesterday is the reason why.  I can get the story told without fluff and filler.
Maybe readers want that now.  Maybe they want to prolong the experience of sitting there with the characters.  Yeah I understand.  I love Neal and Truly too.  That's why there's a Bad Apple 3.

I've never been good at following orders.  If you tell me I have to do something to conform, my inner mechanism grinds to a halt.  I'm surprised that so many people consider themselves free-spirits and buckle to authority figures all the time.  I'd rather do something my way and risk failing, than doing what everyone else is doing successfully or not.

No shoes, no water bugs in the future.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Now that I've had my Nook Color for a few days now, I have no smarter things to say about it. It's great.  I added a couple videos to it.  You turn it to landscape mode and it's a beautiful thing to behold.  No, don't bother going outside in the sun, you can't see a thing--Kindle wins that round.  I'll just stay in the shade of the apple tree.

I did remove the gelaskin from the back because it was just so slippery and I'm so clumsy I was concerned I'd drop it.  Peeling it off was no problem and I stuck it back on the sheet the thing came with and am sure I can use it in the future.  No, it didn't leave sticky residue.  The Nook comes with a rubberized back and that was a smart design choice.  I suppose if you have a cover or a case for it, it doesn't matter but I don't have a case yet.  I kept the front skin on and it's beautiful.

There are too many software programs that supposedly help you convert or tweak files.  I still don't get Sigil.  I use Expression Web for all things html.  Longtime readers of this blog know I love that.  For conversion, Calibre does everything.  You don't need anything else and it's freeware.  I had downloaded a PDF copy of a mystery by Craig Rice some months ago.  She's supposed to be so good and witty.  (Yes, she, it's a pen name.)

I just hate reading on screen so much, I couldn't force myself to read it.  I used Calibre to convert it into epub and add the real cover above to the file.  That's how it appears in the Nook library--very nice.

I found somewhere a mobi converter as well as a pdf to epub converter.  Don't bother.  Calibre is sufficient for all your needs.

Not Low Maintenance continues to attract buyers.  I still think they're hording rather than reading it.  I thought it'd hit 1000 in sales this month sometime around noon today but it probably was midnight.  So that was 153 copies in 24 hrs.

I've had some pretty exciting moments in my career but this is leaving me stunned since I never thought about numbers like this.  I hoped to find an audience (Shout out to C. Williams, you are too sweet) but to attach numbers to that isn't me.  For me with dyscalcula, the numbers are now too high (and too many of them) for me to easily process.  I can see the number is getting larger but I can't really compare it to where it was earlier.  I have to open the calculator to do that.

When I looked in the romance category, NLM (in the top 100 whatever it was)  is really something of an outlier or odd duck.  It just doesn't belong with all those very traditional romances.  Amazon really needs a Women's fiction category and I think I'll email them and say so.

What also surprises me is that some writers still cling to the traditional publishing route.  Even when they're being abused and rejected, they won't listen to me or consider digital is a possibility for them.  I felt sorry for a woman this week whose publisher took 22 months to reject her book.  She seemed to be on the verge of tears in her post asking what can she do now with this book specifically written to the specs of this publisher and now they've turned it down.

I said getting rejected was like getting a get out of jail free card.  Now instead of no possibilities, all the possibilities are open to her.  Nah.  What I was saying was such ...fantasy,  she didn't even respond to me.
I felt sorrier for her.

Friday, April 8, 2011

"They must have weapons we've never dreamed of!"

"Figures.  They were smart enough to get here."

Well, yeah, Captain Obvious.

Hey, I am totally all about being terrified of a monster made of leftover heating ductwork.  Did the costumer go to the the hardware store on their lunch hour and pick out a cartfull of shiny stuff then come back to the studio and screw it all together?  "Don't forget the flashlight for its face, Fred!"

No, these robots don't look like they have weapons we've never dreamed of.

I love the sci fi movies from the 50's.  I don't know why people mock Plan 9 From Outer Space, were the others so Oscar-worthy?  Hence the easy success of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

If I have favorites it's more because of an actor I particularly liked rather than the logical plot and great costumes.  We can't compare Forbidden Planet to the B movies.  Forbidden Planet is a wonderful movie compared to any movie in the 50s (or any decade).

I love The Blob, not because it's a good movie, oh it's a very good movie compared to the dreck being churned out at the time, but because of Steve McQueen.  It appears that while this movie was not his first acting credit, it was his first movie (with lines, I'm sure someone will call me out saying I'm making a mistake, I'm relying on IMDB at the moment). 

This is a lesson in the kind of concentration an actor can bring to a role.  He had to know this was stupid.  He knew the only other person on the movie who could act at all was Aneta Corsaut and that was barely.  Yet he obviously showed up each day doing his best work.  This isn't phoned in.  You don't have the feeling he was bored or dismissive.  This was real for him.  Everytime he's on camera, the screen crackles to life.  It's amazing to watch.  The contrast to everyone else in the movie makes his work a bas relief.

I think it's human nature to sink or rise to the level of those individuals in proximity.  Steve McQueen could have done that, but he didn't.  He treated this role as if it was a showcase on Broadway.

This is an awfully good section of the film.  The interaction between Steve and the cop at the 7 min mark deserves special attention.

I can name a couple actors off the top of my head who came onto soaps as a one day character and because they did exactly what Steve McQueen did in The Blob, have enjoyed long careers and financial security.  (That is nothing to sniff at in this business.)

What do I say to you constantly.  Do your best work.  You'll get noticed.  You'll be found.

My Nook with the customized skin

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Nook Color

My Nook Color arrived yesterday and a couple hours later, the WiFi modem so I could connect to B&N and get the thing registered.  I was a bit annoyed that you had to do that first.  That's quite an assumption for them to make that either everyone who wants a NC also has WiFi or lives within a few minutes of a B&N store.  Not where I live.  This is rural.  Why can't you register it with your computer?

Anyway there's not much point in me reviewing it since there are a ton of reviews out there already.  I didn't really want a reader.  I don't like gadgets, I don't like things cluttering up my life more than it is already.  I truly dislike reading a lot of material on the computer so knew that the reader was just a lot smaller computer screen in a different shape and could see no earthly purpose beside checking formatting why I would *need* this thing.

If you want a summation of my reaction to it after about an hour reading Pride and Prejudice, this will probably tell you a lot.  I got on the computer and wrote to my writer pal "Who needs paper books anymore?"

The greatness of the Nook Color cannot be overstated.  I know there are nitpickers who find fault with it (everything) I'm not so much like that.  If things do what they're supposed to do, I'm happy.  The NC nailed it.
There's an upgrade coming in another week or so, I don't know what that gives us besides an email client.  There is a way to hack (root) the NC to turn it into the tablet it actually is--the hardware is all there, it's just the software that isn't.  That way you get all the Android apps including Kindle for Android which makes it possible to access the Kindle store.

Even if you didn't do this you can still watch movies on the thing.  The colors are crisp and beautiful.  The screen is great.  People bitch bitch bitch about the LCD.  It didn't bother me.  The touch screen is like magic (yeah I know but I don't have a cell phone).

Anything comparable in technology will wind up costing you at least 2X more which is why geeks are flocking to this and immediately rooting it.  Of course it's not a phone and doesn't have a camera.

NLM is doing well, unbelievably well.  Tess Gerritsen momentarily unseated me from my #2 position yesterday but I'm back.  In what universe could I have ever competed with Tess Gerritsen or James Patterson before digital?  It's in the low 300s as of this morning.  I didn't think that was possible.  Is it possible to break into the top 100???

This is what my NC looks like now but since my Nikon wouldn't cooperate, I had to do it in Photoshop. Close tho

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Men Writing Women/Women Writing Men

Throughout history we've been treated to men writing, describing, women.  How well did they do?  Sometimes quite well, sometimes horridly.

For the short while women have been writing at all, and then they wrote male characters.  Sometimes well, sometimes horridly.

How accurate a depiction of an 18th Century man, was Mr. Darcy?  I have no idea.

It seems that writers either idealize or demonize the opposite sex depending on their own psychology.  Is fiction a fiction or is it a representation of reality.  I tend to like things more on the realistic side myself but I think I'm in the minority.

I'll just ask a couple leading questions and you can work out your own answers.  I don't know the answers.

Do iconic or archetypical portrayals of men or women impact our expectations and relationships?

Do writers write solely to entertain or is there another component at work?

What male writer wrote the most accurate female characters?  What female writer wrote the most accurate male characters?

Is there anyone who doesn't think Arthur Miller was writing about Marilyn Monroe in After The Fall?  Extrapolate.

The Gilderoy Lockhart Question for extra points--What's my favorite color?

Monday, April 4, 2011


No one wanted it.  You knew that, right?

I met a nice woman on the Usenet group for ABC soaps some years ago.  She was friends with a well-respected agent and introduced me to him via email.  (Thank you for the effort, Joan)  I sent him the book, Sweeps.  I think he was the only agent who read it.  He didn't like it, I don't think he made it all the way through, and the part that bothered him the most was that it wasn't printed dark enough by my printer.  What did I do, set it to light especially to bug him?  It printed how it printed.

Talk about reading for meaning!  He couldn't concentrate on the writing at all.  He was just all schpilkis over the type.

You just get the feeling these people are so annoyed by writers.  We put paperclips where they shouldn't be, we use elastic bands incorrectly, we're too stupid to know how to write a query letter.  And then we write these bloody books.  Geez.  Book after book after book.  They keep coming.  Besen Besen zeiss gewesen already!  (That's from The Sorcerer's Apprentice.)

Sweeps got its first review today.   Don't tell me how smart I am, how clever, how talented.  I don't care.  Tell me you're going to reread it and I'm plotzing.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars loved, loved, loved this book, April 4, 2011
C. Williams (Roseville, CA United States) - See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sweeps (Kindle Edition)
Great romantic comedy - with a really thoughtful heroine. Loved her point of view. Interesting insight into daytime television & soaps. I totally enjoyed everything about it, and I think I am going to re-read it now. I really loved it.