Sunday, July 31, 2011

Deceptive Reviews and Satisfying Explanations

I've been accused of almost everything a writer can be, except that my books are too long.  They're too short, my characters are bland, I write romances than aren't romances (I don't write romances for starters), I stink at plotting, I have no conception of what constitutes proper grammar (or grammer as she put it) and I can't spell worth a tinker's damn.  Ok!  I know I've left a couple other complaints out but the bottom line is that I find it baffling.  Finally yesterday I saw a review that explains why some readers think I can't spell.


***worth'da $ 'cuz it waz gr8***

Since it was a 5 star review for Dream Horse, I'm not complaining.  Still it is a window into the typed word or, communication.

A friend found an article about software that detects deceptive reviews.  Apparently (just as I suspected) humans aren't very good at it.

Here's some of the article

Steven Cherry: Yeah. So this was sort of the most interesting thing about your research, I think. What did it learn about which are the deceptive ads and which are not?
Myle Ott: So in this study we ended up learning a lot of features to indicate whether a review was deceptive or truthful. And one of the interesting things we learned was that deceptive reviews use more verbs, adverbs, and pronouns, whereas truthful reviews generally had more nouns, prepositions, and adjectives. There was one big exception, which was superlative adjectives, words like “best” and “finest,” which are actually more common in deceptive reviews. Fortunately, this actually fits in really nicely with some previous genre identification studies on imaginative versus informative writing. Imaginative writing, meaning any sort of creative or fictional work, typically contains more verbs, adverbs, and pronouns, much like our deceptive reviews did. Similarly, informative writing, meaning mostly nonfiction work, typically contained more nouns, prepositions, and adjectives, much like we found in our truthful reviews.
Steven Cherry: So that’s supported by some earlier research on the difference between fiction and nonfiction in general. Is that right?
Myle Ott: That’s right. So there’s the British National Corpus, which contains roughly 2500 texts that are broken up into either informative or imaginative genres.
Steven Cherry: Myle, you compared your research to other research that distinguished between fact and fiction. But there’s also research specifically on people lying. Did you look at that as well?
Myle Ott: Right. So there’s actually a lot of work in the psychology community about deception; there’s in fact even sort of ongoing debate in the community about whether or not there exists a sort of universal set of deception cues, some sort of surefire way to know whether someone’s lying or not. And there’s all sorts of theories on what this universal set of cues might look like. For example, one important finding called psychological distancing suggests that people try to distance themselves from their lies, and this results in a decreased usage of the first-person singular words like “I,” “me,” and “myself.” Instead, we found an increased usage of first-person singular in our deceptive reviews, which we believe to be either a subconscious or conscious attempt on the part of our deceivers to enhance their own credibility by emphasizing their own presence. 

As they say read it all here When A Reviewer LIES

Unfortunately, they haven't yet gotten to the lying negative reviews yet, but, all you drunk trolls out there, it's coming.  YIPPEE!

My pal Chris can't write with music on.  Instead he goes to the local Shoney's or something and writes with all the dishes clanging and children screaming.  I don't even like to eat under conditions like that let alone write.  I like music.  BUT.   If I can't find the right music that fits the mood, I struggle.  The first half of Mr. Mitnick's Harem was very problematic.  Then I heard something by Alison Krauss and Union Station and it was clear sailing from then on.   I started the new book listening to a range of things but didn't hear anything that fit until this.  (I have no idea what helps me finish the cookbook.)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Of Dragons And Space Ships

There's a sword and sorcery movie on this afternoon.  Or at least I think it is.  It's actually very much like that horrible Robin Hood movie with Kevin "I'm not wearing tights, I'm wearing warrior clothing" Costner.  There's a Moor, there's a spunky, anachronistic feminist-like princess who isn't wearing a bra, a boy child, a dragon and there's a weary knight.  There are no Eskimos, Hindus or Aztecs so not every sort of earthling is represented but we will overlook that as we will overlook the entire movie.

When the Peter Gallagher character in The Player said "The script writes itself", he could have been referring to this one.

Apparently the terms derivative and predictable have become positives in the entertainment biz instead of the disapprobations they once were.

I hope as epubbery settles down and people stop being so excited by the idea of having the freedom to publish anything they write, they begin to think about what they write.  To think.  To take that freedom and go where traditional publishing wouldn't have accepted.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Thanks to Nook2Android, I can now dual boot perfectly.  I can also buy Kindle content totally by accident.  Yay!  Like I want a digital book that costs $15.37.  I would blame my fingers but I was on the PC so I can't explain how it happened.

I cannot figure how to get books into Aldiko, I sideloaded content onto the chip, but it doesn't see it.
I can't download apps from the Marketplace.  I suppose like most things computer, I'll figure it out eventually.  Or not.  The whole point was to be able to access the Kindle store and I've demonstrated I can do that.

I am intrigued by the process of my new book.  It started with let's call it a logline as you would describe a movie.  It sounded great/cool/current.  Then I began writing.  As a military man would say "No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy."

I know people who plan a story out fully before they write a word.  I've worked with them and saw them do it.
I can't.  I get lead, or lead astray.  Situations, bright and shiny, come up and glow with unexpected promise.  I follow the siren song.  And 50 pages later I realize this is not where I started.

That's why I always stunk when trying to convince agents or editors I could get to the end in one piece.  They insist on having things planned out and I don't write like that.

Amazon is opening up India.  Well that's good because that's where the support is.  Kidding, somewhat, since I did talk to Amazon India about 30 min ago to cancel that accidental purchase.  He might have been called Sean for support purposes but I know his name was Raj or similar.   I hope many Indians are willing to read English not Hindi because I'm not having my books translated.  Not that Indian children would be expected to read my horse books.  I actually have no idea what the book market is like in India but this just reinforces the point that we're in a global marketplace and tradpub/legacy publishing is behind the times while Jeff Bezos races forward.

I love this image.  I was making tabouleh for lunch and putting the stems to the side.  When I looked over there, it looked so great, I had to take a photo of it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Song Lyrics And How We've Changed

I'm one of those dopey people who actually listens to the lyrics.  Provided I can understand them which I admit a lot of the time these days I don't.  And I admit I do not listen to much popular/modern music. 

I posted these two songs here so you would *hear for meaning* the lyrics.  Think about them.  Turn them over in your mind.  Question them and yourself.  Speculate.   Wonder.  Don't just accept what the entertainment culture places in front of you.

So here we have a song from 1963 which has its point of view.

Compare and contrast with this current hit (is it a hit?  Geez I didn't want to go thru her "body" of work to find something else, I'm sure this is pretty representative and I didn't know how to find the Rihanna song where she sings about getting so excited by her boyfriend using whips and chains on her--gee, shades of slavery but we won't mention that.)

Where does this leave us?  No one knows for sure, do they?  It's all opinion.  Discuss amongst yourselves.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


At one point in the past I used to attend horse shows with a very nice young woman.  One day she went to a stable in the neighboring town and saw a horse.  When I asked what his name was she said "Spruckles."

That's a heck of a name.  I had to check on that and asked someone else and they said the horse was named "Boot Buckles".

I think this is the way life is for a lot of people for a reason I couldn't begin to propose.  They're living in a room full of fun house mirrors.  They see life and it bears some relationship to life but it has only a tenuous relationship to reality.  They have no idea how skewed their vision is and would defend their perceptions nearly to death.  Or are they defending their opinions so vehemently because some voice inside is hinting they've got it wrong and that's more than they can bear.

Monday, July 25, 2011

May Be My Favorite 5 Star Review

Got this at BN this week for Summer Horse.



Tffsjxjskhcrc fjt cv gd.gcb 4'- jvhxy 

Hey, it  makes more sense than some of them.

Here's an interesting question--to me anyway.  I was shooting for the cookbook and wound up constructing or deconstructing this mozzarella salad.  I sent it to a photo agency and they rejected it for being a snapshot.
What constitutes a snapshot?  Isn't almost anything a "snapshot"?  If you're driving along and suddenly there's a huge wall of water in the river next to the road and you stop the car, grab your camera and take a picture, isn't that a snapshot?  If you're walking through Yellowstone Park and see an eagle on a tree branch, isn't that a snapshot?  Do you have to be in the studio to take a "real" photo?

I'm completely baffled by this reasoning.  I'm sure there's something about the definition they know that I don't but to me a snapshot is my father pushing me in front of Trevi Fountain then taking a picture.  That's a snapshot.
Planning what to put in the dish, how the colors play against each other, arranging the leaves appropriately getting the light right and then taking a photo, is the opposite of snapshot.

So thus ends my involvement with BigTimePhoto.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Change of Cover Already

Yes.  I was working on the cookbook and had taken a shot of a dessert this morning when I noticed how much I liked the colors, so I turned it into a new cover for Unspeakably Desirable.  I wasn't crazy about the banana tart to begin with so this will be a good if perhaps temporary change.

I think here's the funny part to this.  I had that Nikon D70 for years and hated it because I couldn't get it to be knife edge sharp.  I get the D7K and all I can talk about is how sharp it is, right?  So I take this photo and blow it up past being sharp and use that.  Aside from the fact that it's shot through glass that's fogged over and that's what I love about it.

It's remarkable to me that even given those 2 elements, glass fogging and the blowing up past sharp, how sharp the cake part still is.  I do wonder if that will bother some people.  The drunk trolls I suppose will be really annoyed.

The white is mascarpone which is ridiculously expensive and you can make it at home.  It's really just about reducing the liquid in the cream.  I used to do it in a double boiler but yesterday I did it in the microwave.  Use a large bowl because it will boil up.  Heat on high in 1 minute increments, stirring between, until the cream has thickened.  Then you can try draining it with a coffee filter, I did but the only thing that happened was the coffee filter got wet and I had trouble scrapping the cream off it.  I left it uncovered in the refrigerator and this morning it was the exact correct thickness.  I  saved like $5 or more and it took about 15 min while I was doing other stuff.

Now I'm going to make some polenta for the book.  You can make that in the microwave, too. 

Amazon's New Tab

Didn't I say this just a couple days ago?  Amazon would come out with a tab the minute I rooted the Nook Color.  Scroll down in the article to learn what little we know about the autumnal release.

Amazon Tablet

What gambit of interest, what technological improvement  has traditional publishing made in the last year/5 years/10 years/25 years?

Ooo!  Me!  Me!  Me! Call on ME!

I can remember when it was a big deal, I suppose I should write that as Big Deal (trademark pending), when publishing decided to make the covers of romance novels more like greeting cards with the embossing and glitter.

I'm stumped beyond that.  No, no, wait.  I got a really excellent cook book by Richard Bertinet and it comes with a short DVD so you can see his technique.  Boy, that was very helpful.  And he's a nice man, I wrote to him and he wrote back.  DOUGH

You should be able to do that with an ebook, right?  Include a little tutorial session.

But I don't want to go off on yet another rant about legacy publishing and how they've been stiffing writers and the public for well over a generation now.

Let's talk about entertainment for a brief moment.  Certainly the Great Depression occurred well before I was born and I actually know very little about it from a financial perspective because me and math are not BFF, but I do know about it from an entertainment POV.  That's a decade I am quite familiar with film-wise much more than the 1940's or even 1950's.

It cost 10 cents to go to the movies in the 1930s.  Maybe even less in a small town 2nd run kind of situation.  Even though times were terrible, people still need to get their minds off their problems and could afford 10 cents.
As I have said Shirley Temple was one of the biggest stars of the decade and musicals were so popular.  Think of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

This is the song "Pick Yourself Up" by the great genius Jerome Kern, lyrics by Dorothy Fields.

What in entertainment today is suggesting we look on the bright side, pick ourselves up, rally, anything positive?
What's uplifting?  Well, gee, I can't think of anything from NYC or LA.  And the disposable income people have is dwindling, not increasing.  It's not going to be increasing any time soon.  So the old models of what people wanted to read or see or listen to is probably going to change even more.

Yet legacy publishing can't see it.  Well, good for them.  Stick to what you know.  Double that for network television.  And let's cancel the good old shows and program in some cheap to produce crap reality shows.  Hey guess what, there's this thing called the internet and the viewing audience doesn't need you anymore.

I wish there was a Charlie Chan marathon on this weekend...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Why E-Readers Stink

The following is definitely a new twist on sentimentality for paper books.  Did Danny struggle to come up with this or did it just come to him?  We've heard that you can't use a reader in the bathtub.  Readers don't smell like books (My books don't smell, is there a website I can send for some book smell like nu-car smell to rectify this problem?)  You can't turn the pages (yeah that's a drawback esp when I think of how bloody hard it is to turn deckled pages), and you can't use a reader as a doorstop.  I repurpose the old glass power line insulators but that's just me.  I'd use the dog, but she won't "Sit. Stay." for more than a couple minutes.
"My wife recently gave me an electronic reader, and I look forward to using it to sample the latest novels, nonfiction and poetry. At the click of a button, as if rubbing a genie from a bottle, I'll be able to summon thousands of books to the screen on my lap.
The books on our living room shelf, on the other hand, were acquired through hours of browsing in bookstores. Lined up at attention from floor to ceiling, they stand as touchstones of my personal geography—bright reminders of places I've been, things I've seen, and people I've met."

His pain must be enormous.  Alert!  Alert!  Cultural Discontinuity Approaching!  Grab nearest stable object and hang on tight until disorientation ceases!

Yeah those hours wasted at The Coliseum, I mean spent fruitfully, yeah, Good Times!

What you can do with old vinyl records

Be creative.  You can turn them into shadow puppets too and play gamelan music while you put on shows.

When you start seeing articles like this even if the WSJ expects me to pay to read more of the mush, you know it's all over.  So Danny, we understand how traumatic this transition will be for you, but if it's that bad, don't make it at all.  Stick to your guns.  Well I mean, not guns, you're probably not someone who advocates the actual having of guns, but stick to your arugula and stay with books.  They'll progressively become more expensive so you will be able to pride yourself on being able to afford them while you sniff them recalling scent memories.

Hey!  Here's an idea for all you self-publishing paper book people who are always trying to come up with marketing gimmicks and usually opt for bookmarks.  This is great.  I am one smart cookie.  A bookmark saturated with book smell fragrance like inserts in magazines selling perfume!

Note to Jeff Bezos: Include small vial of book smell with each Kindle for transitioners.

Friday, July 22, 2011

How To Use Children To Achieve A Political End

I finally saw (ugh!) the commercial I was trying to find when I was talking about those YA books
haranguing the readers with the political messages.  I tried to find this then but "fortunately" it was on today.

This is child abuse.  Maybe not physical but if you take a kid and force adult notions (right or wrong) on them, is that fair, is that right, is that appropriate?  And why is this little girl dressed like this?  Couldn't they find her a one-piece?  Or how about a nice tee-shirt and shorts.

They didn't stop there.

And let's serve up a big honking supply of curly fry lightbulbs full of mercury just to be environmentally safe.  It's for the kids, you know.

Oh let's use wind power and kill off the golden eagles when they get caught in the fan blades.  Still it's for the children!  What's the matter with you, do you hate children or something?  We need wind power.  But not of course if Teddy Kennedy could see the windmills from his bedroom window.  It spoils the view, old sod.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Having A Heat Wave

Embed Alert!  (I mean is it even LEGAL for this man to PLAY this copyrighted music???)

Irving Berlin--appropriate for all seasons and circumstances

I'm still working on the cookbook.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bias or Agenda

I just read a bunch of YA books.  In every single one of them there was a noticeable political agenda. 

Shut up and Sing!  Enough already with the lecturing.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rooting The Nook

I've had the micro SD card for about 2 months waiting for Autonooter 4 to be released.  As far as I can tell that should be early next week because I just bought--from Amazon--a pre-loaded card which enables you to boot from that card.  You're not rooting the Nook.  If you take the card out of the slot, it's your same old comfy Nook.  Put the card in, and you have your Android.

The only reason for me to do this is because Amazon has more books than B&N, and usually cheaper.  I don't need a tablet computer--as far as I know.  Maybe I do.  What's it for?  I want the Android app that goes to Kindle marketplace.

Next thing that's bound to happen is Bezos releases a color touch screen Kindle in Nov. for $175.

As I was driving myself absolutely bonkers with all this...hey, I was prepared this morning to do a manual root but half the files I needed aren't available...I started to wonder about my new book and where I should be going with it.  I still don't know in a sense although I have the endpoint pretty well figured.  I would rather be able to surprise myself along the way.  I would rather make big choices.

Joe Konrath has an interesting piece up over the last 24 hrs.  The link to his blog is on the right side of the page here.  I'm not 100% thinking about this topic with everything else on my mind but the whole issue of the drunk troll reviews comes up again.  He says he was amused but he doesn't sound amused.  He actually sounds a lot more angry than I've allowed myself to be.  I don't think there's anything to be done about it, it's more a cultural issue.  This is the way people behave on the internet.

It's sort of a literary wilding.  I don't get anywhere near the readership/traffic/denouncements as Joe.  I get a couple bad reviews and I'm spitting nails.  He got 139.  I read through a bunch and to be honest, Joe's thing is not my thing and I wouldn't read it for entertainment knowing that.  But I wouldn't say anything either.  I wouldn't go to the page and see 139 1 star reviews and say "I really have to add my reaction."  It's overkill already.  So what made people numbers 25-139 feel compelled to say how awful this story was for them?

I think I'm going to go weed the garden instead of thinking about drunk on power trolls.

Google Nook2Android if you're interested in that route.

Still Standing

Don't you know I'm still standing better than I ever did
Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid
I'm still standing after all this time
Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind
--Bernie Taupin, of course
Borders didn't find a white knight to buy them out.  Now why would that be.  Surely Borders could be turned around by a savvy business team.  But the reality is, even if the business guys aren't thinking it,  there's nothing to turn it to.  It's a failing industry.  Say Borders did get bought, okay maybe not this year or next, but at some point who is going to be there to produce all the books needed to stock these stores?  The writers the publishers have treated well can fill the tables at Costco.  The rest of us have or are migrating to digital.

For those of you who haven't made the transition yet, I don't know what's holding you back.  Legacy publishing is not trying to do you any favors by publishing you.  It's not a mark of distinction to be published by them anymore.  It's more downside than up.  Get off the Titantic before it sinks.

I'm researching for my new novel.  Yes, it's started!  No, it's not in the Bad Apple series.  Even though it's a topic I'm more than passingly familiar with, I am reading up about it.  I got 2 used books from Amazon Marketplace for some background.  I don't know that there's anything there I'll use but it's understanding, it's about having a different perspective.  Then there was a book I wanted.  In hardcover it was $125.  No, I'm not paying that.  Paperback is $28.  Kindle is $17.  Wait, I have a Nook (that I haven't rooted yet).  BN doesn't have this book.  Kobo does.  It's $28.

This is part of what's killing legacy publishing.  Are you serious, people?   $125 for the hardcover and $30 for the digital?  I'll do without it, thanks.

Then you download the sample and it's 10 pages of crap acknowledgments, front matter, table of contents, dedications, "This page left blank on purpose" and if you're lucky you get a page from the actual book.

In a digital world, you have to put that stuff at the end.  I do now.  I don't even put the cover image up front anymore.  I was sorry to see it go, but while nice and attractive, it didn't help in the sample.

Here's the cover I was going to use for Unspeakably Desirable (I had a border on later versions).

I liked could say strength but I was always going for violence of the fork stabbing the petit four.  People who looked at it, didn't get it.  If the banana tart cover starts to bore me with its rotundity, I'll switch back to this.  I did place a similar image to this one with a stock photo agency so apparently some people do feel its marketable.

I think about covers a lot.  We don't have the resources of legacy publishing (altho I can't imagine how Avalon could have used fewer resources on the cover for my book with them this year--I feel cheated, they couldn't even give me a good strong cover, I would have done the cover and given it to them for free just to have something marketable).  Some people can pay for a professional cover which might cost $500-$1000 or more.
The rest of us have to work around and make it happen.  Covers aren't going to look like the ones from tradpub.
I don't have an art department here helping me out but I can do something else.

I get the feeling, maybe wrongly but it's based on what I've heard, that readers are on one hand really thrilled with the 99 cent price and really angry at the same time.  They expect everything traditional publishing offers but at 99 cents.  Unrealistic.   Even traditionally published ebooks have formatting issues.  As for all the other things writers are accused's wearing thin, people.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Researching Before Writing

There are very few books, and I mean novels, that I haven't researched in one way or another before I started to write.  With the horse books, I put in years on horseback and teaching riding.  With Sweeps and Kate I worked in television.  For Renie Lake, I studied sign language (no that's not available as an ebook and never will be; that it was made into a TV movie is sufficient).  With Love In the Air, I had a pilot's license and watched as many WWI aviation movies as I could get my hands on, plus read a stack of biographies of women pilots.

Even if I know something about the subject, I want to know more.  I want to know the experience of other people.  I want to know the technicalities, the details, the background, the history.

I recently read a book that seemed to gather its research/foundation from what you could learn from TV shows.  And I don't mean The History Channel or like that.  I mean fluff channels.

For me there was nothing that rang true.  I kept feeling like "this writer has no idea what they're talking about".

There are three cures for this
1) Don't go there.

What if you don't know that you don't know?  There's no cure for that mentality.  If don't have first hand personal experience of it, you should research.

2) Avoid saying anything specific.

This is going to make your book untextured but it's your choice.

3) Focus the book on something else that you do know about.

Say you're writing about a fashion model and you don't know squat about fashion, design, the fashion business, Seventh Ave. or  even sewing.   You're in a right little fix, aren't you?  I don't know why you would think you can write this book but let's assume that thought hasn't crossed your mind.  Actually none of these thoughts would cross your mind in this case and you would just go forward and write it.

Ok.  Well, good for you.  Some readers won't notice since they know less than you do.  Now I'm going to say something really antiquated.  The reason for bothering to write a book used to be "enlighten and entertain".
Now it seems like it's more like "make money and make me feel good about myself because I'm so special".

I suppose this is another post that leaves half the visitors saying "What the heck is she talking about?"

Here's something from the photo shoot I did for my cookbook.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

It's Not So Much Confused As Baffled

Why 1 thing sells and not another.  Why 1 person makes it and not another.  It's a mystery, isn't it?

I finished that YA series I've been reading.  I really scrolled thru the majority of the final book which isn't at all fair to the author but very fair to me.  Not liking to get too personal I will say that I don't like to see abuse.  Anything or anyone who can't defend themselves should be protected, not abused.

In the TV show, The OC, which I very much liked, after Marissa's death, Ryan goes off the deep end and takes to cage fighting.  Ok.  I don't enjoy seeing blood and violence, and I didn't watch those parts, but if he as essentially an adult makes that decision, that's fine.  He's punching back.  No one forced him into this position.

If you take a child or an animal and abuse them, you should be f'ing shot.  It's really clear-cut to me.  No parole, no therapy, no short sentence.  I don't want to take the chance that after all that therapy and jailtime, they get out and go right back to their ways.  But that's not social justice in action so that's not what we see.

So in this YA, this kid was abused.  Probably damaged for life.  Gee, that's a fun read!

Anyway, my Keytronic keyboard after being sprayed in the sink (only do this is if your keyboard is membrane) and drying out for 2 days is back to perfect working order.  @@@@@@@@@@@!

I pulled out my Almost Famous dvd and started watching it yesterday.  I was reminded how brilliant Cameron Crowe was in this movie (it's a much better, no superior, movie to what's it...first I thought Tom Hanks, but it's Cruise, um Jerry Maguire).  There are so many scenes to pull for study.  This one is marvelous (and Kate Hudson is radiant and gorgeous and so skillful).  This is character distilled to their essence.  They are saying one thing but revealing a mountain of backstory.  This is the engine moving their lives forward.  Amazing is a word too easily used, but this scene deserves it.

And just because I'm a nice guy, I'll leave you with a photo I didn't quite take.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Don't Try This At Home

Don't walk to your desk holding a glass of V-8 Peach Mango and bump into the chair.  Goodbye Keytronic.

Yesterday was all about covers for books I haven't written yet.

Today is the premiere of Harry Potter 8.  I haven't seen any of them in the theater so I guess I probably won't see this one either.  I'm glad all the kids stuck with it.  We didn't have to deal with a replacement Ron along with way.  I wish Daniel Radcliffe had been a bit more circumspect about his sex life.  I didn't really need to hear about it.

Erica Jong (Fear of Flying, Fear of Not Having Sex With Every Man On The Planet) wrote an unbelievable, even for her, article recently about how the pendulum is now swinging back  After all the progress (eye roll) she and her kind made in liberating women sexually, the current generation craves monogamy.

Has she friggin' *seen* a music video in the last 5 years?  They're singing about chains and whips in a positive way!   I guess if it's with your special guy then it's okay  Even if he does slap you around and send you to the hospital, like this one singer.

No doubt there are many women who crave monogamy but that's not what the media and writers like Jong are selling.  If you set out to push the envelope, don't be surprised when it eventually rips and everything spills out.

Not a 'ho, a whip or a chain in sight.  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

How To Take A Photo

This is fun.  Hope it doesn't alert the authorities but only 9 of you can watch it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I've had to tell my share of really stupid stories.  Another round of the Viki/Niki story on One Life To Live comes immediately to mind.  But yesterday I read something so over the top that I'm still shaking my head in wonderment.

Readers know (except for the drunk trolls) that when they open a novel, it's a fiction.  The audience has been conditioned from an early age to understand that there is a difference between real life and fiction.  6 year olds don't go to first grade believing there are skittle pooping unicorns.  We suspend our disbelief to some degree.  We accept "Expelliarmus!" will disarm a fellow wizard.  (Altho no one has yet been able to explain the aerodynamics of flying a broom ie how do you make it go faster.  I get that it's like riding a motorcycle and if you lean it turns, but how do you stop it.  By pulling on the reins?  Don't if you pull back it gains altitude?  Yeah, it's magic.  Yeah.)

The reason why the world of Potter works is because we know we're in an alternate world.  It's close to the real world but it's not.

The more explicit the real world of the novel is, the harder it will be to pull off a really WAY over the top piece of storytelling.

When those Airport movies were so popular, this was before I got my pilot's license, I knew some commercial airline pilots.  I asked if it was possible for that crossed-eyed girl to actually fly that jet she was supposed to be managing.  The consensus was she could probably turn it, that was about it.  But the audience managed to go along with it because we knew it was just entertainment and we knew Charlton Heston was on the way.

What we're not going to believe is the stewardess getting into the cockpit of an F-35 Raptor, have a dogfight with an enemy squadron flaming them all out and making a beautiful landing at Boston Logan Airport, missing all the commercial traffic arriving and departing, because she ran out of fuel and had to dead-stick it in.

The is sort of the equivalent of what I read yesterday.  And I don't know what to make of it.  Did the author really think we would believe it?  Granted I'm not the target audience, so maybe they did.  Maybe it was whoops and fists pumping in the air.  Way to go!  Was it a case of just not knowing what to do?  The author was out of ideas and this is the only way to get out of the corner that s/he had been written into?

I find it dismaying.  I find it a strange and unsettling choice.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Let's Talk About Writing--Part 2

Specifically, for the moment, Harry Potter which will be the template for that kind of book forever maybe.

Book 1 started with the tone of a children's book.  I understand why.  I don't fault Rowling, this was the beginning of her journey both as a writer and as the captain of the Ship of Potter, and she was finding her way.   There was the quality of being read to like in a library.  That tone was quickly dropped and never returned.  Yay.

An orphan child is not uncommon in literature.  Jane Eyre was an orphan.  A child who goes missing and won't be missed is an invitation to a big honking adventure.  Otherwise you have a Lifetime Channel movie (ugh).

Yes, I'm back to the confidant issue.  Harry Potter immediately regained Hagrid as a friend and protector, soon to be followed by Ron and Hermione.

If you want to keep your character isolated, then you have to deal with that.

Here's some story advice: you have to deal with everything you put on the table.

For everyone who thinks you don't, you can have a guest post and explain why.  You might convince me!

It's a very bleak and psychologically damaged character who cannot connect with anyone or anything.
How many times have you seen Cutting Edge, the ice skating movie?  I've seen it many times.  I love it.  Congrats to Tony Gilroy, that's a really good script.  But I'll tell you what's missing.  We never see Kate being a nice person.  We never see her connect with anyone or any other creature.  And I can tell you where they missed their chance.  It was so simple, it would have taken the same amount of time as what they used (I think Paul Glaser did a great job as director, so maybe it's a guy thing) and it would have given added dimension to Kate.  The audience would know by the movie PLAYING IT (Play it, don't say it.  Show, don't tell.) that Kate was in desperate pain and ached to connect with any living thing.  There's a scene where she's leading a horse by the rink (indoor ring?), it's early winter, there's a little bit of snow falling, it's gray.  Beautiful shot.  She could have stopped, buried her head in the horse's neck for a moment and then kept walking.  That little bit would have solved a big issue.

Maybe no one else had an issue with her.  Okay.  It's just me.  Why did Doug love her?  If she was really the Ice Queen, what was he seeing in her?  If we have the connect with horse scene, then when Doug watches the vid of what happened during Kate's performance at Calgary, we understand how tenuous her life on that tightrope has become.

Or just blow up the rink because ELF is angry with the father as a wealthy industrialist.  And we don't have to think about character motivation and depth.

What can I say.  There is another way to live.

I'm still working on my cookbook and here's a close-up of the shot I took this morning.  I love that D7000.  I got everything set up, raised the camera to my eye and said "I don't have my contacts in."  I can't see a bloody thing with just glasses.  Not up close.  Then I said "Yeah but the camera can see."  That auto-focus is perfect.  Way to go, Nikon!

So I really like colors and shapes and light.  I have a pal and sent this to him this morning saying "Just appreciate it for the colors."  But he sees things very literally.  He didn't like what was in this recipe so he couldn't enjoy it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Let's Talk About Writing

I said I would bring up that YA series, but still don't feel like naming it.  It's very popular--I don't know how popular actually but it seems to be.  There was a movie, and it was supposed to be a franchise.  I saw the movie on youtube and I've read 6 of the X many books.

I'm going to try to sort out all the elements for us so we wind up somewhere other than the Isle of Confusion.

I'm going to work backward and start with the movie that was panned.  The lead actor was gorgeous and a good enough actor for the material.  The production values were wonderful--it was not an inexpensive movie to make.  The supporting actors were well-known/famous although not A-listers.  It was a good way to pass 90 minutes although besides some scenes, I couldn't really give you a timeline of what happened.  I don't even actually remember...oh yeah, I do, what the main point of it was.  Not a good sign.  The  franchise is dead.  Deader than Monty Python's parrot.

The movie reminded me of some research I was doing on the legend of Siegfried.  There is a 2 part movie made in 1924 and it's been assayed a number of times.  This German version might be the most recent, no idea.  The blonde girl is beautiful.  She should have been the star because when she was on camera, she was riveting .  The Siegfried actor really struggled uncomfortably; English wasn't his first language, that might have been a problem.  The photography was quite dark, it was difficult to see what was going on.  It was a multinational mess.

Here we go with an embed felony alert

This was not a good way to spend 90 hours--that's what it felt like.

(You didn't think I'd post the trailer for the movie I'm actually discussing, did you?)

The similarities between these two movies is that they are full of action.  The main character is trying to do something and there are a lot of difficulties but in the end it's all resolved.  Siegfried maybe dies and good riddance.

But if you are not made to care, and it's up to the writer to make the audience care, then the audience glazes over.

That's what happened in this YA series and its movie.  No one cared.  You don't have to believe me, this is what all the movie reviews said.

Characters can't be free-floating.  The hero needs a confidant.  I'm sorry, this is true.  If it's not first person and they're not revealing themselves and their concerns directly to the audience, they need someone to talk to.  Hamlet had Horatio "Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him, Horatio."  The first year of McGuyver Ricky Dean Anderson had no one to talk to and I knew they'd have to change that.  Next season, Dana Elcar was brought in.  This is required.

This is writing 101 and I know this YA author knows better than that but s/he didn't do it.  It wasn't in the book and even though the author wrote the script, it wasn't in the movie either.  Oh yeah, I saw how s/he tried to bring in material from later books, making Ms Y a more prominent character, and bringing in a love interest from a couple books in the future, so the hero would be tethered somewhat.  But it didn't work.  The construction of the structure wasn't there.  When it's not there to start with, it's really hard to insert later.

Do readers notice this?  I suspect not.  The books are like a roller coaster ride so much plot is zooming past you.
If that's the appeal then a time-out for reflection is a big bore.  But like in life sweet is sharpened by tart, the difference between soft and hard is more noticeable when they are positioned together. 

Who is this character?  What does this character want?  Who are these people around the main character?   If the writer takes a time-out to answer those questions as the adventure proceeds, there is texture to the story.

I think this is where this series failed.   Maybe it worked for its target audience but when it became a movie, all the faults in storytelling and character creation became glaring. 

Most of us will never have a movie made of their book so we can get away with a wide-range of slip-ups.  Readers may not even notice.  But that doesn't mean those insufficiencies aren't there.  It's up to you if you care.

The way things are today, I feel like an idiot telling you to care about it.  It's practically bad financial advice.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Unspeakably Desirable

It took about 7 hours but it has been uploaded to Amazon and BN.  No I don't bother with Smashwords anymore.  In a few hours Unspeakably Desirable will be available at BN and available whenever Amazon gets around to it as a Kindle.

Having learned from Rise, I put the html document into Expression Web and checked all the image links manually.  That took a long time between the actual photos and the whisk image I used to separate the text.  (Sometimes it's hard to see those couple spaces in a reader even when it's so obvious in the word processing program.  I suggest you try to do something even if it's *** to let readers know there's a break.)  I fully expected there would be problems but I'm not very psychic and I didn't see anything horrible.  Amazon didn't kick the file back to me.  (Remember, it has to be in zip)  So I'm done with that.  For the time being.

What am I going to do next?  I'm staying away from adult fiction for at least the rest of the year and perhaps longer.  I have the cookbook to do and then think about the prequel to Blue Raja.  I would like to do Bad Apple #4.  Yes, at some point the audience will arrive!  What did you have to do to make Tinkerbell stay alive???  Believe?  Think Happy Thoughts?  Sing about packages tied with string (what's so great about that?)?

This coming week I'm going to talk about a YA series I'm reading now.  A bit on the fence if I should specify what it is but I think there's much to be learned from the books.  They're very popular and easy enough to read without needing to lash your reader to your wrist so it won't  be thrown against a wall in desperation.  Always a good sign.

PS if you want to read more about Unspeakably Desirable go over to

Update:  Wow.  BN is FAST!  Three hours later.  Bel is live  Unspeakably Desirable


On the final stretch with Unspeakably Desirable, I had to fire up Photoshop preparing for the last photos for the book and create this little contribution for the internet.

I know people come here just for the images...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Drunk Troll Review Syndrome

I even have a name for it!

From an article from Australia:

A new study has found that anonymity gives people the same feeling of abandon as power and alcohol intoxication.  Researchers at Northwestern University in the US found that all three states led to extreme behaviour — both good and bad.
"Although these pathways appear to be unrelated on the surface, they all lead to disinhibited states through a common psychological and neurological mechanism," said Jacob Hirsh of the university's Kellogg School of Management.  Dr Hirsh's colleague Professor Adam Galinsky said the loss of inhibition led to "significant behavioural consequences".

Well, I should say so!

When people lose their inhibitions, they often behave in a manner more consistent with their true motives or character. At the same time, they also tend to be more easily influenced by their environment.
"In effect, disinhibition can both reveal and shape the person, as contradictory as that may sound," Professor Galinsky said.
The end result is that power, alcohol and anonymity can all inspire either strong pro- or anti-social sentiments in people.
The study may help explain why anonymous commentators on the web often appear to hold extreme views.
Dr Darryl Cross, a psychologist at Crossways Consulting, said many people believed there were no repercussions for their actions online.
"It's the fact that they're not confronted visually with another person," he told
"People believe the myth that they can say things that ordinarily they wouldn't be able to say just because they are online."

Oh yeah.  Who hasn't noticed that?

Dr Cross said the vitriolic nature of internet comments was a symptom of something similar to a split personality.
"I think what we have is, people have two personas," he said.
"The first is an in built human instinctual personality and that’s always there for all of us, it's an animal instinctual personality.
"And then there's always the second personality which is the more conservative, the more guarded, the personality is more in perspective.
"What you've got (online) is people who are prepared to let their instinctual personality out rather than really taking a second perspective, looking at it in a different way, and then saying the second thing that comes into their mind instead of the first."

My (ungrammatical) word!  I like this guy!

I invite Ms McCartney to come here and post her astute critical analysis of Not Low Maintenance so we all may benefit from her literary wisdom.  I won't change a word.  How can I?  She's clearly my superior in both intelligence and writing skills.  She might also explain why the grammar checker in Microsoft Word 2007 is a mess and I'll forward that to the company so they can make all the repairs Ms McCartney deems necessary.

All correspondence will be spectacularly public because this is the internet after all and if you can say it to the world, you can say it to my face.

Don't we all feel better now?  I feel so good I may raise the price of NLM from $1.99 to $2.99.


Unspeakably Desirable

That's the real title of Not Low Maintenance 2.  And I send Bel Miller out into a world that's probably nuttier than what she experienced in the book.

It's not live yet.  (I haven't finished proofreading it to make sure NONE of the sentences make any sense.)  Here's the latest review for NLM.  Definitely an encouragement not to stay at the 99 cent price point.  If readers are going to waste money, let it be a substantial sum.  You can't buy a Snickers bar plus tax for that where I live!

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Friday, July 8, 2011

Summertime Blues

The background.  Purplish.  Anyway.  It was bluer before I started photoshopping it--I needed to lighten the background.

There's been an interesting entertainment turn of events that's worth noting.  The producer of the cable show Royal Pains (which I quite like) has acquired the rights to the daytime serials All My Children and One Life to Live from ABC and intends to continue programming on his as yet  non-existent (to us) internet entertainment channel.  He wants to do a Hulu kind of thing but new programming.

I realize there are a couple of such shows already on the net, Venice I believe is one show, but I didn't sense they have the gravity or financing behind it that Prospect Park has.

This is potentially very bad for the networks which have been losing audience for years.  This is the kind of hit publishing is going to take from digital.

The audience is fracturing.  Finally after dreaming for the past couple decades, technology has made more outlets feasible and it's possible to reach an audience without going through legacy publishing or the 3 networks.

I thought I was going to be finished with NLM2 today but I'm not.  Maybe Monday.  I'm not rushing through this.  It has to be right for me.

P.S.  Periodically I check to see what search terms brought people here.  Sometimes interesting.

Apparently someone wants to know how many pages long Sweeps is.  It is 359 manuscript pages; 67, 843 words long.  Each one of those words belongs there.  There are no words missing. This is exactly what it took to tell that story.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cooking The Books

Yes, I'm working on my cookbook during the daylight hours and NLM2 in the evening.

I'm learning a lot about my photographic vision--what I like, what I want to see.  Obvious now I would never have made it as a commercial photographer.  Since my professor was an old newspaperman, maybe I would have continued in that direction if things had worked out differently.  I was a stringer for a couple of papers for a while but couldn't get a full-time job at it so I wound up with the writing.

Now you don't need to get permission to do what you want to do and you don't have editors hanging over you saying stuff like "You cropped that too tight."

Some people would say you always need an editor.  I think I agree.  Until you put in your 10,000 hours or a lifetime doing it and then you should be able to go it on your own unless you're just so insecure and can't stand back from your work that you need another voice.

Should the audience decide?  Does the audience know?  Before Harry Potter came out did anyone ANYONE know we all wanted a boy wizard story?  Did anyone know vampires would be the big thing?  Does anyone know what's the next big thing?

The answer's no.

Some schlub is at their computer writing something, even as I type this, that no one wants.  Yet.  No one in the world but that person knows its value.  Yet.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's Harder Than It Seems

Have you ever listened to the Led Zeppelin song Going To California? 

Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams,
Telling myself it's not as hard, hard, hard as it seems. 

(I guess that's a copyright infringement!  I'm calling it Fair Use.)
I don't know why I thought this new cookbook would be a snap but I'm here to say it's really harder than it seems.  For one thing, most writers don't wind up doing the photography so not only am I racing around trying to invent, write, and cook the things, I'm also trying to set up the shots.

I'm also here to say I really needed this after the past 15 months.  I wrote a lot; harder than any time in my life.  I needed a break and since I can't actually GO anywhere, the photography is a nice escape.

I have no idea when I'll be done with this book but NLM2 will be published this week if everything goes well.   I have an almost final version of the cover but I keep moving things around so haven't found the perfect placement yet.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Dancing With The One That Brung You In Perpetuity

Apparently JK Rowling has left her agent of 16 years, Christopher Little, and he is bummed big time.  Majorly.
So much so he's going to sue.

Thanks for the millions, I want more

There is so much wrong about this situation, I don't want to bother with it other than to note its existence.

For all waiting impatiently for NLM2, it is very close to completion.  Soon it will be available for all the negative reviews NLM1 has been receiving of late.  Thanks for the astute comments, please pass the hemlock!

Now that school's out, there has been a definitely rise in sales of Summer Horse and Dream Horse.  Thanks to all you who enjoy these books so much and take time to hit the like icon. 

This morning I make lemon curd and try to think of something to do with it.  Then take an exciting picture.

Today is more important than anything I've said so far.  On the 4th of July, we celebrate the birth of America.  It's a country unique in all the world.  It's a country built on freedom.

Not everyone wants to be free.  Not everyone is comfortable with that concept.  Not everyone wants people to be free.  They prefer to be in power over the population, holding the whip and making pronouncements about behavior that they will not follow themselves.

America was an experiment in maturity.  Can people actually govern themselves or do they need a ruling class of effete elites?  Those who scream in our faces probably believe that the latter is true.

The next few years are going to be very interesting.  I use the word interesting in the worst possible way.  It will only be intellectually interesting after we are all dead and some egghead in the future is dissecting what the first decades of the 21st Century were all about.  If I had to guess I think the thesis will start "WTF????"

Here's the vid I created some years back. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

New Month, New Thoughts Or Something

I started doing mock-ups for the cover of NLM2.  Nothing satisfactory yet.  I continue to do test photos and work with Photoshop.  I love the Nikon D7000.  Great camera.

I raised the price of Fling to $1.99.

In general, I don't like the 99 cent price point for me or for any professional.  It's too low.  It encourages customers to think in bargain basement terms.

I know people, especially newbies, tend to exaggerate the value of their work.  You can't imagine how many stunningly mind-numbing discussions I've heard that started with "If I price my book at  $17.99, then I'll make...."
I had a friend who did the same thing with memo magnets she was going to make and sell to great success.  When your head is there, there is no room for rational thought.

I don't object to 99 cents as an introductory price or a loss leader but I don't agree with John Locke that ya gotta dance with the price that brung ya.  Of course, he just sold a million books so it is a little different situation.
I also don't object to short pieces having a standard price of 99 cents.

My Soda Fountain book will always be 99 cents.  It was work that took place over years, it's probably worth more but I don't care.  The new cookbook I'm doing is actually a lot of work, a lot of experimentation and I don't know that I will even introduce it at 99 cents.  I may start at $2.99 because my time and effort and intelligence is worth something.  Even if it's only to me.  Will I feel differently if I sell 3 copies in 6 months?  Maybe.  But that's what's good about digital--you can change anything.