Wednesday, June 29, 2011

TUESDAY TIP: Call Me a Tortoise Anyday!

ETA: Not sure how I did this but I scheduled this to post on Tues. at noon and discovered Wed morning it was still waiting to go--I'd put the right time and wrong date. Ooops. Technology, gotta love (since we can no longer shoot it (<g>)


Every eBook discussion board from Kindleboards to Nookboards is filled with hopeful eBook authors, vying to be the Next Big Thing. They throw around names of authors who've made six and seven figures and attempt to dissect the process as though there's a secret. There is. It takes a lot of hard work and a really great book--or rather, several. It also takes a bit of luck and timing.

And guess what? All of that was and still is true of the traditional publishing path as well.

There's no secret path or system for getting rich quick. The fact that people still faithfully pursue this holy grail is the basis for success of all of those scams coming out of Western Nigeria and the means by which Chinese money launderers are able to steal western identities with relative ease.

I quit work in 2005 to be a writer full-time. I learned in the short year and a half that I had to learn and try my hand at writing novels full-time, that I can, in fact, write a book in 3-6 weeks and edit in another 3-6 weeks, so I could, theoretically, turn out 3-4 new books every year. I definitely am not at a loss for ideas for new books. That's not the problem. Time is. Since I don't have the financial means of support available, I cannot write full-time. Erego, I creep slowly along in my current WIP (the Lacey / Rainey Story). It's very frustrating but it's the path I've chosen.

I can hear some of you now: "But, Sarah, that's what an advance is for!"

Yes, you're probably right, but advances for new, unproven authors aren't really sufficient to live on so I'd have to keep my day job for a while anyway. Instead, I'd rather find that "happy medium" where I chug slowly along, making steady progress, like the tortoise and not try to be a hare.

I don't need to finish overnight or sell 1000 books in the first 30 days. I need to finish. Period. I need to sell 1000 books. Eventually. Maybe just to my 1000 True Fans. If you're not familiar with that model, please do click through, it's a great model that totally applies to self-published eBook authors, far more than it ever could apply to traditionally published new authors (and it simply did not work for self-published authors in the DTB world of Lulu and vanity presses). In the eBook market, obtaining the 1000 True Fans model is "tortoise" approach to financial independence and ultimate success.

As I was reading this Publishing Perspectives blog--loosely, about becoming one of the new overnight successes by slow and persistent plodding along--I kept seeing the analogies to the 1000 True Fans model. I don't know if Sullivan simply hasn't heard of it or didn't realize how similar her argument was, but it's obvious to me anyway that she is preaching the same path.

I'd really love it if I could find some way for someone else to pay my rent and utilities, for me to do nothing all day but write, write, write, but I don't have that luxury. I think that makes it all the sweeter when I complete a book or ultimately, see it succeed financially. One of these ... years *g*

Monday, June 27, 2011

MARKETING MONDAY: mobile movement

This week I want to focus attention on the eBook market--not how to sell books on Kindle or how to format a Word document--but rather on how an eBook is not a Dead Tree Book (DTB), that is, not paper.

I'm a huge proponent of the mobile market. I've been promoting the idea that handheld devices are absolutely taking over the digital market for a number of years. I discounted forerunners like the Palm and early PDA's since they were too proprietary, too large to slip into a pants pocket, and too complicated (not to mention expensive) for your average non-geek user.

These days, however, the "smartphone" is the mobile standard and has completely dominated the digital world everywhere but the US. Big surprise (not!) The Americans were the last to get on board with every other cellular step the world has seen in the last decade, why should net access and mobile computing be any different? I didn't realize this until I lived overseas for four years (in the Middle East) and saw just how common it was for highly-advanced (for then and there times) devices to be in the hands of people who often didn't wear shoes and never had or would own a car.  It's a totally different world out there beyond the borders of the USA and most Americans are so full of--something--we just can't seem to grasp we are NOT leading the world in the mobile marketplace.

This article in TechCrunch today really clicked with me because of how totally wired in the guy is illustrating the world is--or it is outside the US anyway. Only in America are there people actually saying "I still haven't learned how to do that internet thang." Worse, they said it with pride. *shudder*

Given I'm an author, the eBook market, in particular, has to be of special interest to me and in fact, reading books on phones has been a popular activity in large cities worldwide for at least a decade now. The fact that the American publishing industry is just today starting to talk about an "eBook revolution" like it's some kind of new-fangled development that just surfaced overnight is almost laughable--it's just too sad to be funny, though.

Back in 2003 I was trying to figure out how to create an interactive book. I had just finished the original draft of Coming Home (Dicky's Story) and was still unsure if I liked the ending. I wanted to get readers to click and tell me how to end the book. I had about a half a dozen possibilities I'd worked up and written out.

I figured it'd be really fun for readers to get to see the alternate endings and it'd be really interesting feedback for me, as the author, to get a feel for which path was most followed. Alas, fear of having the book stolen and a lack of methods at that time for protecting the content led to my not producing said interactive book. I'm still trying to figure out how to make a go of it, though. I think interactive books will definitely be coming. I base this prophecy on the paths of development video games have taken from XBox 360 to Kinect. Users of games truly get off on actually being in the game.

Readers of books who become "True Fans" of the work will often lose sight of the fact it's just fiction. They start talking about this or that possibility as though it's real life. Their real life. They want to be in the book. In fact, Tuckerization is one of the most sought-after honors by True Fans. I would actually argue it's unlikely that interactive books won't be happening--and soon! Let's say in the next decade (or sooner).

So how does one plan for such an eventuality? Start getting friendly with your smartphone and be sure you really understand the concept of apps on your phone or tablet device. Be sure you actually use apps and aren't a "tech-n00b" if you're going to author an eBook.

It's not that hard to learn what an app is and how the markets work. The Android Marketplace has huge numbers of apps that are free--you name the topic, and to steal Apple's marketing slogan, there is indeed an app for that! The Apple appStore is nearly the same as iTunes so if you learn the ups and downs and obstacles or tricks to iTunes, you've got a handle on the Apple appStore. And anyone can browse iTunes using a computer or any mobile device. Unfortunately, iTunes is, indeed, everywhere. Hopefully, soon, same will be said for the free Kindle eBook Reader apps.

Don't keep thinking in terms of selling DTBs. That's not to say the only future is eBooks. Of course, it's not! I love my paper books but I know for a fact, eBooks are being read all over this planet, probably at a higher rate than DTBs. Did you know that in Japan alone phone users consumed over a billion eBooks all the way back in 2005. Yeah, today Japanese read on smartphones. Back then, they read on tiny little Nokia picture phones before smartphones were affordable! Before videos were even possible on phones, the Japanese were reading books on their phones on the way to work. And there weren't all that many eBooks out there. I don't have numbers on 2011 eBook consumption in Japan (do you? post a link to a data source in the comments!) but I strongly suspect it is higher. Even with the tsunami. Maybe because of it (everything else is destroyed--eBooks are forever).

Don't assume readers of eBooks will read only on a large computer screen sitting at their desk. Accept that most people actually dislike reading on that kind of screen or in that particular seated position and that's okay. Most people who buy eBooks don't like their desk chair and instead sit in a comfortable chair holding some other kind of device which is not their computer. It's only in America that people still think "screen" must equal computer at a desk. There are a gazillion devices out there which are not computers, do not require desks, and will let you read an eBook. Happily.

Most eBooks in the US are selling on Kindle for a reason--you can read them anywhere. The "buy once, read anywhere" slogan is not just a sales pitch, it's a reality and not just for Kindle format books, obviously. Smashwords, bless 'em, has a similar policy of "buy once and get unlimited downloads to unlimited number of devices." I love it.

More importantly, though, is that any eBook eReader device can be taken not only to your favorite chair, but onto the porch, off to the beach (this coming holiday weekend will see record-highs on eBook sales, I guarantee it!!) or even at the gym on your elliptical machine while you're working out.

Understand that eBook readers (the customers, not the devices) are different than DTB customers. Your average eBook reader probably multi-tasks and might actually skim your book, but since they have a copy of it which won't ever wear out or get "dog-eared" pages, they'll also probably read it more than once.At least, they will if they like it, but then, isn't that the goal of every author? To get readers who want to read our stories again and again?

Well, it's my hope and dream. I think it should be yours, too. Aim high or you can never achieve ....a galaxy (as Lois McMaster Bujold once said in the voice of Miles to Ekaterin at the end of the novel Komarr, available in multiple eBook formats from Webscriptions, right here for one low, low price of USD $4.00)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

SAT SURPRISE: Unpublished Prologue to Dicky's Story

This week's Saturday Surprise is a Deleted Scene from Coming Home (Dicky's Story: the unpublished Prologue.

Test readers felt the shift from third-person Leah's POV to Dicky's first-person voice (in which the rest of the book is told) was too jarring, so I stuck with the original opener. Plus, the concensus was that the Prologue gives away (or in my mind, set up) a lot of the story. As I keep saying, however, Coming Home (Dicky's Story) is not a mystery. If you haven't read the book yet and you read this Prologue, you'll have a good taste of where things are headed without having lost anything along the way. Unless you have a really big book <>


Sunday, 7:15 a.m.
Level 9, Crandall at the Crane East-West

Leah couldn't quite see the face of the old man whose hand she held in the dark, but she knew it was wracked with pain. She blinked away welling tears, turned her head when one slipped down her cheek and wiped it off on her shoulder. She swallowed hard before speaking, hoping her voice would not betray her despair to him. He was the center of her world, the leader of their people. She needed to be brave for his sake now.

"We'll get you out of here, Rebbe. Don't worry."

He was going to die, she was sure of it, and she was powerless to save him, as he had saved and protected her all these years. It was the helplessness of it all that crushed her.

The old man breathed in and coughed. One followed the other predictably at this point. One of his broken ribs had obviously pierced a lung, and he was too old and frail to fight a wound that severe. She reached over with her free hand and tenderly tucked in her cloak around him. He was so cold, she could feel the chill emanating through the cloth. His spirit was the warmest of any she knew, but now, his body was succumbing to the icy cold stone under him as death crept into his mortal shell. His voice was a whisper, barely audible over the racket Ariel and her brother, Rueven, were making as they tried to dig an escape route through the solid rock of the cave in. But no matter how faint his voice, he spoke and she listened. Always.

"Child, it is too late for me. Please stop this. Take back your cloak. You must be cold in here."

"No, Rebbe, I'm fine. Rest now."

"First, promise me something, Leah."

"Anything." She answered reflexively, then added, the smile in her voice not even forced, "Except to give up on you."

He laughed softly, then coughed again. "Do not promise so quickly, until you hear what it is I ask of you."

Ariel was arguing with Rueven now. The small space in which the four of them were trapped was faintly lighted by a fallen electrical conduit with only one bulb left unbroken. Leah could see the ghostly shadows on the old man's face and, when she twisted around to see what her brother and his friend were arguing over, their long black coats and black slacks made them appear to vanish against the dark wall locking them into this chamber. Only their exposed faces and hands caught the light.

They were having a stupid argument about how to make a lever for one of the large chunks of concrete hemming them in. It was hopeless. Couldn't they see that? They had no tools and neither of them were very strong, physically. Leah simply couldn't see why they were bothering. They were scholars, not laborers, but they were trying. She had to give them that much, even if they were unaware these were the Rebbe's last moments.

They were always unaware of the world around them, saw only themselves and their own needs. It was a wonder either of those men had gotten as far in their studies as they had given how foolish they were about the most common, everyday necessities. At least the work digging out kept them busy and away from her. She turned her attention back to the old man lying before her.

"There's nothing you can ask of me that I wouldn't give, Rebbe. Just ask."

"Itzick will come. He will bring a friend, Dicky. They will get you out of here, not to worry. Those two..." He glanced over her shoulder into the shadows. "They are wasting their time and always." His gaze lingered a moment over her shoulder, watching the two men and their hopeless attempt to remove the concrete wall, then he sighed expressing much the same sentiment as Leah had herself and the old man focused once more on her face.

She smiled and brushed his hair out of his face. "I know, Rebbe, but they..." She let her voice trail off, not wanting to speak ill of anyone, even her worthless brother and his annoying friend, no matter how much she agreed they were a waste of energy.

The old man squeezed her hand and pressed his cheek against her palm, then he smiled up at her, a ghostly smile. How could he smile at a time like this? She felt a surge of love for him well in her chest. He was all she had in the world. No, not all. She had Itzick. Or she did, so long as the Rebbe lived and let her care for the child.

She couldn't bear to think about what would happen to herself and to Itzick after the Rebbe died, when someone new came to take the old man's place as leader of their people.

"They are unimportant." He told her now. "Only what I tell you now matters, Leah. You must promise me this. Promise you will stay with Itzick."

She was taken aback. Of course, she would stay with Itzick! He wasn't her son, but she had cared for him everyday since he was in diapers. Five years now. She would protect him as fiercely as if he were her own child. No matter what happened when the new Rebbe came, she would not abandon little Itzick. Why would the old man think he needed to ask for such a promise? Wasn't her devotion obvious?

"Of course, I will." She told him in a soft but firm voice. "You don't need to ask this of me. I could do nothing else."

"Good. He will finish this." The old man was using his teacher's tone with her now. "He knows what to do, but you must listen to him."

She sighed. "I always listen to him. It's unavoidable. The child never stops talking once you get him started, and he has something to say about everything. He is lucky that he is so adorable or I would have to strangle him to make him shut up."
The old man laughed and coughed again.

"I'm sorry, Rebbe, I couldn't resist. I should not be joking about Itzick."

He waved her off as his coughing subsided. "No, you are such a joy, even in this darkness, but I did not mean like this. I mean you must do as he says. Do whatever he instructs, no matter how it sounds--and it may sound strange. Promise me."

She couldn't help herself. Before she realized how disrespectful she was being to this revered man's dying wish, she drew herself up and laughed indignantly. "You can't be serious! You want him to direct my life? You can't expect me to follow the orders of a child, Rebbe, especially this child. He's--" She glanced over her shoulder at Rueven and Ariel and lowered her voice again. "Rebbe, I will look after Itzick, as I have always done, but you know what kind of child he is. He is a very special child, yes, but he is spoiled to the core." She paused and her tone was teasing, not accusatory when she smiled and added, "You know this because you spoil him more than anyone else. Who is going to keep him in line if not me? Hmm?"

He smiled again. "You can tell him no more dessert but there is much to do, and you must let him lead you. Promise me."

She understood now. There were many secrets the old man kept with his great-grandson. The two of them spent most of every day together, hours at a time in a silent communication only they shared. Hours and days spent studying, discussing, a passing of responsibility from the old man to the child. Sometimes, it broke her heart to see how little childhood Itzick was allowed to enjoy. Today, for instance. It was his birthday today, six years old, and instead of having a party with friends his own age, he had been thinking of some plan he and the old man had discussed.

Itzick had insisted they had to come down here to the lower levels today. Itzick had made it sound as though they were on a mission, and the old man had agreed, but Leah still didn't see why they had come down to Level 9 at all. The people who lived down here were horrible, non-believers who broke the laws of man and Hashem as easily as they breathed. And now, because of them, they were trapped and the Rebbe was dying.

No, not because of these despicable people, but because of this horrible world of theirs. She must not blame the people. She must accept that it is Hashem's will. Hashem does only good for His people. There is good in this, too.

She answered the old man quietly, "I will try. That is all I can promise. I know this is important to you, to all of us, so...I will try."

"Even to the end, you cannot simply submit to another." His eyes twinkled in the thin white light. "Good. Do not stop asking questions, Leah, but listen to Itzick's answers. Please."

"I will listen to him, Rebbe, but you need to lie still now. The air in here is getting worse every minute and you are injured in your chest."

"I am not injured, Child, I am dying. This, too, is a part of life. Do not be afraid of this. I will not walk out of here with you, but Itzick will finish the work. You and he will see such adventures in the days to come, you cannot imagine. Oh, I wish I could see it with you, but I cannot. You will fulfill my hopes and dreams, you and Itzick. I can rest now."

"Do not speak like this." She hissed, then commanded the old man more loudly, "Don't give up! You must be strong and courageous, like Joshua."

At just that moment, Rueven came to a stop standing over Leah's right shoulder to look at the old man through the dim light.

"We're not giving up," Rueven announced, "but our bare hands are not very good tools for this. We can only do so much with just our hands and our will. This is not Jericho, Leah. The walls are not going to fall down because you wish it or pray for it. I think we are really trapped in here."

Leah rolled her eyes in silent answer to her brother. Do you really think so, Rueven? Well, aren't you clever for figuring that out!  Ariel shuffled over to join them and he leaned down on Leah's shoulder for support. She cringed at his touch, when she felt the heat of his body against her back. He was stressed from the work of their efforts and probably from the injury to his leg. She felt no sympathy for him and tried to pull her shoulder free, but he was practically draped over her. It was unseemly. Worse, Rueven was standing right there and just let Ariel do it!

Why can't Ariel just leave me alone after all these years? What more does he want from me?

"We are not trapped." Ariel stated flatly, more to the man lying in front of her than to Leah. "We are just taking longer than we had hoped to break through the wall. We will find a way out. Soon."

The Rebbe squinted and smiled at Ariel, who took the sign as one of approval, but Leah knew it was a fake smile. She knew the warmth of the old man's real smiles and there was none of that for Ariel. It was almost painful to watch the polite condescension on the face of an old man she'd known to be the most open and honest human being in her world. Ariel pushed himself up, oblivious to the Rebbe's fa├žade, gripping her shoulder for balance.

She winced at his touch again, and this time, managed to jerk her shoulder out from under his hand. He nearly lost his balance, which she reflected would have been fortuitous but difficult to explain--and, with her luck, he would have fallen right on top of her. Next time, she'd have to think it through and aim him more carefully. Into a wall. Down a bottomless pit. Or bottomless pits being in short supply, at least off a ledge during a cave-in like this and into a sealed maintenance area in one of the lowest levels.

"Are you hurt, too?" Ariel interrupted her reverie.

He sounded both concerned and annoyed at the same time. Only Ariel could be so conflicted. Where were all the bottomless pits and ledges when you really needed one?

"No, I'm fine. Go back to work. Just get a small hole, if you can manage it. Just enough of a hole for fresh air in here will be something."

Rueven answered her, "We are doing our best, Leah. Do you wish to take over this job, too? You think you can do better?"

"I'm sorry, Rueven. I don't mean to be disrespectful," her clipped tone made it clear she most certainly did but she added, "The Rebbe's broken ribs are making it hard for him to breathe. He needs fresh air."

Ariel was openly hostile when he told her, "We all need fresh air, Leah. Maybe if you'd stop talking so much, what little air we have left will last longer. Just sit and be quiet for a change."

Yep, never a good ledge handy when you needed one. Ariel made an impatient, derisive sound at her back, and then she heard the two men scrape across the floor behind her. When they started tapping again, the Rebbe squeezed her hand again. She leaned towards him.

"Do not listen to them. They are dead to you now, Leah. Listen only to Itzick. He is your life, your future. Promise me you will remember this."

Puzzled at his determination, she suddenly felt invigorated by the thought of making such a solemn oath and told him with all her heart, "I promise."

Leah knew she would do more than try. She knew she would stay at Itzick's side, no matter what Rueven or Ariel had to say about it. Itzick was a special child, and there would be objections, but the little imp would be her future, according to the Rebbe. An adventure, he'd said. She would like an adventure. An adventure would mean she'd have something resembling a life.

She smiled at the Rebbe but the frail and bony hand in hers had fallen loose in her grasp already. She felt him go. She wasn't sad. As he'd said, death was also a part of life, and now she understood the words of the Kaddish prayer she began reciting by rote, as if she were hearing it for the first time. She gave heartfelt thanks for the life that had just ended. Trapped behind the cold stone of the cave-in, for the very first time in her life, Leah looked forward to her future.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Freebie Friday Submissions - Get Your Book Featured Here!

Just creating a post to make a space for anyone with a book, novel, short story, poetry collection or any other work of fiction they'd like to have featured here on Freebie Fridays to submit their stuff to me.

The only requirements for your submission are that it be available for free on the Friday for which you are submitting it (whether by coupon code, as at Smashwords, or free all the time somewhere else) and that it is a completed work.

If you provide me with a book page that has the book's cover image, word count and description, I'll use those to "sell" your book in the Freebie Friday post. If you don't, obviously, my pitch of your book won't be very "selling" will it?

Freebie Friday submissions should be entered here in the comment thread. Just make a new comment on this post for each, individual book and tell me:
  1. Your book's title, genre and your pen name
  2. The URL of the book's page on the web (presumably a Smashwords URL but if you have it uploaded elsewhere that readers can get it for free, that's good, too. Only provide one URL for each book.)
  3. The coupon code (if from Smashwords, these are immediately activated but you set the expiration date. To be sure it's active until midnight Friday night, create it no later than the preceding Thursday.)
  4. The Friday on which it will be made available for free (a date, forex, Friday, June 17, 2011 will be the first Freebie Friday here)
Again, completed works only, please (no works in process) and only submit works for which you are the copyright holder. Do not provide more than one URL per comment or your comments will be treated as SPAM.


FREEBIE FRIDAY: Selection of Meats & Cheeses (Danny Gillan)

Because I completely forgot to include this fabulous collection in my primary Freebie Friday post for this week, I just had to do a dedicated post for this gem. A Selection of Meats & Cheeses (approx. 37905 words) is a collection of 12 short stories from Danny Gillan.

Twelve short stories, some sad, some funny; some serious, some silly; some poignant, some pointless. (NOTE: This book contains content that may not be suitable for young readers 17 and under.)

Meet homicidal Estate Agents, happy mendicants, inept stalkers and rubbish action heroes. From crime to comedy and thriller to thought piece, the factor combining these bites of life is that everyone makes decisions, and good people often make bad ones. It's how you deal with the consequences that matters.

This book is currently priced as FREE and, therefore, requires no coupon code.


FREEBIE FRIDAY: Adult Fairytale / NSFW humor (by RJ Silver)

I love good humor and ran across--stumbled upon it, you might say --this fractured fairytale for adults on Smashwords today. I've never heard of this author but will have to come back to explore their body of work after reading this one.

The Princess & the Penis is a short story (approx 10,575 words) revamping the classic fairytale into adult-style humor (NOTE: This book contains content that may not be suitable for young readers 17 and under.)

A beautiful, chaste, and completely naive princess encounters a strange lump in her mattress. The lump soon morphs into a shape familiar to everyone but her, triggering her curiosity and her father's greatest fears. He frantically tries to intervene, but having a large phantom phallus in a curious maiden's bed is never a good combination.

This book is currently priced as FREE and, therefore, requires no coupon code.


FREEBIE FRIDAY: 2 ChickLits, 1 Alt World SF + Dicky's Story Yet Again

This week, we have two new entries and two old favorites. Ladies first.

Remember Newvember, a ChickLit novel (approx. 66905 words) by Jennifer Bogart.

The entire fiasco started as a dare. Try one new thing each day for 30 days – make it entertaining, call it Newvember and create a weblog to track the adventures. Willow thought she could keep things simple and maintain control; how could she know her entire life was about to unravel?

To get this book FREE use coupon code VH59L at checkout.
(Coupon valid one day only, Friday, June 24, 2011

Next up is Impressive Bravado (approx. 8690 words), a debut short story by K.A. Jordan. This is the first entry of a planned series of shorts featuring the lady horse doctor, Katie McCarty.

Deputy Sheriff Shallamon calls Katie McCarty DMV for her opinion of horse mutilations. Someone is targeting local stallions for unauthorized neutering. Anyone with the bravado to sneak into a barn and perform these operations has to be crazy. Is it barn rivalry or something even more sinister? (Revised 5/25/11)

To get this short story FREE use coupon code FU84Q at checkout.
(Coupon valid one day only, Friday, June 24, 2011)

On the old favorites list is The Gods in the Jungle, a steampunky, alternate-world science fiction novel (approx. 125879 words) by Rik Roots. A big hit in last week's Freebie Friday, this book will make a great read to take to the beach for the upcoming holiday weekend!

The jungle city of Bassakesh holds the keys to the future of the Vreski Empire; it is the sole source of the valuable Vedegga dye. Delesse, the Governor's daughter, is marrying Loken, heir to one of the most powerful Clans in the Empire. When plague disrupts the wedding plans, Delesse, with her friends, has to fight to save the city, punish its enemies, and marry the man she loves.

To get this book FREE use coupon code NR38B at checkout.
(Coupon valid until July 17, 2011)

And the last entry for this Freebie Friday trio of books is my own Jewish Inspirational / Romantic Comedy set in the future and with some supernatural fantasy elements, Coming Home (Dicky's Story) (approx. 183,000 words) by Sarah R. Yoffa.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Dicky's Story will make you laugh, cry, laugh some more and then you'll shudder before you *ahem* come to the end of the faith walk and feel those Holy Ghost bumps! This long book is a fun read you won't be able to put down once you start--and will wish was longer once you're done. It's not a mystery, Dicky will "find G*d" and he will "get the girl" but the journey he takes to get there just might help you "come home" to yourself, too.

To get this book FREE use coupon code VM83X at checkout.
(Coupon valid one day only, Friday, June 24, 2011)


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Marketing Monday & Tuesday Tip Combo: My 2 "Sense"

Really, it's not my two forms of "sense" but those defined by Al Ries. Who is he? A Marketing God. One of the backbones of marketing in the 20th century (and his daughter carries on in the 21st century). He's written 11 books that made him kind of famous and he created what I call the "Immutable Laws" books. My favorite was "The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding." He also practically invented the concept of Guerilla marketing (back before the interwebz) and he refocused Madison Avenue (and all of the US through the ads coming out of Madison Avenue) on the power of the media.

One of my favorite articles by Al Ries is currently posted on AdAge's web site (it's been there before and in the print magazine over the years, just change the names and use it again and again--the truth never gets old): Marketing Sense Isn't....Common Sense. Two different kinds of "sense" and Al Ries distills down the gist of the problem so well. Here's the crux of it (emphasis added by me):
Common sense says a second slogan is additive. "Little Caesars is known for takeout, so we'll launch a delivery program. That way we'll be known for two ideas instead of one."

Marketing sense is subtractive. A second slogan seldom gets accepted because it conflicts with an established slogan in consumers' minds. Even worse, a second slogan often undermines the existing one. More is less.

There's little enough common sense going around--just imagine the shortage of marketing sense!

If you haven't read any of the books or articles or other massive contributions to the marketing and advertising industries by Al Ries, do go get your hands on one or two or ten of his books. He makes everything seem simple to understand, not just common sense and marketing sense. Oh and yeah, he is pretty much the one who made that last line (More is less) oh-so-famous--more than half a century ago!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Marketing Monday: the OTHER kind of viral :)

It's only taken me 3 days and about 50 or 60 cycles of rebooting, scanning, rebooting, scanning. Ultimately, I had to go in through the Windows 7 "DOS Shell" (it's no longer DOS underlying Microsoft's Windoze and it's not an actual shell interface, but let's call it that for simplicity's sake, shall we? :-) I manually deleted the faux Flash installer EXE files and voila, scanned without finding newly-bred malware.

This thing was truly malicious in how it rebred itself upon reboots after deleting all of the suspect files the previous time. Left unchecked, the EXE files reproduce tenfold each time you reboot so you can just imagine--or can, at least if you do the math

I'm fairly sure that the OBJECT tag code generated from an Amazon widget was the Trojan's origin, having piggy-backed itself to the call to the Shockwave Flash (SWF) file, but the bugger attached itself to my system by impersonating an Adobe Flash updater. That's why I had to go in through the "shell" and delete all of the alleged Flash updater EXE's to finally kill it. In addition, I had to delete the Adobe DLM Extension from my otherwise current Firefox browser and I updated the Acrobat Reader that I had to make sure it didn't reinfiltrate through that Adobe product the next time I opened a PDF file. This is apparently another way this "karangany" Trojan penetrates normally-defended computers.

To protect yourself, please be sure your web browser and all of its extensions, plug-ins and related programs having anything to do with Adobe are up-to-date and/or deleted and then reinstalled. Don't trust your own search of your hard disk; use a solid Anti-Virus program like the webroot subscription service or Kaspersky program. Both webroot and Kaspersky conduct sales not only in the USA but also in Europe (and possibly the Middle East).

In any case, it's now 1630 hrs on Monday and I've gotten no Monday Marketing post done, My apologies. Might still get something together tonight but I'll have better luck incorporating it into a fabulous Tuesday Tip!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday Snippet: Lisa & Steffan in an E Type Jag

Today's Something Saturday is a Snippet but I spent so much time today dealing with the darned karagany Trojan, I didn't have time to finish reading/editing this piece so no promises.

It's a Deleted Scene from the Lacey / Rainey Story. The characers, Lisa & Steffan, are Tuckerizations of Barflies and both characters were deleted from the story in the time since writing this scene. Pity, I really liked them both--and Steffan's redshirting (death scene) was fun! He got into a traffic accident due to those darned "faulty brakes" and sailed off a bridge into the Sienne River singing "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" ^_^

Enjoy this for what it is. Rainey (Charles Rainford) is fascinating to see through Lisa's eyes! The scene was intended to be a parody of romance novel sex scenes. I've since been told it actually is too well-written to be a true parody, and given some of the tripe I've seen joked about over at Smart Bitches, I'm starting to believe it. What do you think? Humourous or not?


Lisa L. Satterlund was a patient woman. Scandinavians were known for patience, but she was an usually patient woman. Maybe it was the Canadian side of her heritage. She was patient with everything and polite with everyone, from the weather to the Americans. She was even patient when it came to Steffan Stewart and his “schemes” for improving on an already well-laid plan.

She didn't have much faith in his plans to get her well-laid tonight. They were running out of time to waste, sitting in the car in the middle of the City of Lights. It’s the most romantic city in the world, some said, but not right now. Not for Lisa and Steffan. No, no, no. Utterly-unromantic Steffan was fully-focused on the damned hard-top latch that kept flipping out of place. 

The stupid man.

Pretty, but stupid, this one. Maybe not stupid, just had his priorities skewed. Amazing as it was to think, Steffan was actually trying her patience because honestly, it wasn't as though the top of the car was about to fly off. They were sitting at a standstill, parked with the engine off on the side of the road—and they'd had to pay a tidy sum to get the valet to let them use one of his spaces for an hour or two. Prime real estate this was, not to be wasted on performing minor car repairs!

Lisa leaned back into the leather seat and yanked at the knob on the side with a sigh, reclining her position in jerky stages. When she’d gotten the seat back moved down several inches, she crossed her arms, crossed her ankles, and closed her eyes before crossing them, too. But she really was trying to be patient with Steffan and his need to fiddle with little bits and pieces. She just wanted the bits and pieces to be hers.

She loved her classic E Type Jaguar just as much as he loved his, double-piston caliper brakes notwithstanding. Lisa and Steffan’s cars matched exactly, point for point, right up until you got to the brakes. She’d upgraded hers but he hadn’t yet, claiming it would alter the pedigree of the classic’s continuity from manufacture to the 21st century. No one could tell from just looking that their cars differed, but the whole point was to make their cars interchangeable. How could she drive his car with faulty brakes? Well, not faulty, but not as good as they could be if he’d just had them upgraded.

Especially here in Paris, a girl needed to be able to brake hard and fast and never ever lose control of the road. Owning the road is everything in Paris, a matter of honor more than just car maintenance. She was appalled at the way he failed to maintain his classic, just appalled. Someone could actually kill him, not to mention ruining that masterpiece of a car!

She realized she was grinding her teeth and forced opened her mouth slightly to stop it then blew out a breath as she peeked out of slitted eyes. Steffan glanced over at her.

Without moving from her confrontational stance, she asked, “Are you almost done? Is it my turn yet?”

“I don't know why you're in such a hurry. Even if Charlie managed to get a reservation, which is doubtful, you know the place is packed. They'll be in there for hours!”

She closed her eyes and resettled in the seat, muttering under her breath, “It could take you hours the way you’re getting sidetracked every two seconds.”

Steffan had heard her. He slid his hand across her stomach, under her crossed arms and said, “I can be done in three minutes. You're the one who takes an hour.”

She smirked and said, “I don't really think you want to go bragging about a thing like that.”

He laughed that warm rolling laugh of his and she sighed, let him slide his hands up under her arms and resume disassembling her clothes. He'd only gotten as far as the second button on her blouse before he'd noticed the errant latch. What was next? Adjust the rearview mirror before he got her bra off? At this rate, they'd be here all night, and as fun as all the teasing stops and starts might be, they had a job to do tonight. They didn't have time to screw around. Well, they had had an hour to screw around, while their “job” ate dinner inside Le Berkeley. Now? Less than an hour. She could still enjoy a quickie, the tiny car space wasn't good for much else anyway, but the way Steffan was going, they wouldn't even have time for that before Charlie and Lacey came out again.

This little stakeout duty was supposed to be a relaxing break, not get her all wound up before she had to go off and maybe kill her friends. She hoped Charlie didn't make her kill him. It'd be so much easier if they'd all just agree that Lacey should come in willingly and Charlie should just go away. There are places to go away and disappear. He owns a whole fucking island where he could go away and disappear. 

It'd be a shame to lose a friend like Charlie Rainford. He paid nearly as well for his subcontract jobs as Roger had for this Internal Affairs deal. Lisa just hated office politics—and she hadn't yet had a chance yet to work for Charlie Rainford. She wanted that chance—and his money.

Steffan unfolded her arms and pushed her blouse open, then paused, frozen, staring gape-mouthed and saucer-eyed at the surprise she'd worn just for him. The tiny black lace half-moons of an excuse for a brassiere belonged to his new favorite piece of lingerie. He'd bought it for her just one month ago and been asking her to wear it ever since, but she kept worrying he'd tear it off if she did.

"See what you're missing when you play with your car instead of me?" She asked him smugly and watched his face. He wasn't quite drooling but close. She now had 100% Customer Satisfaction on the bra based on the look in his eyes. Raw hunger.

"I thought we were working tonight." He pressed quick little kisses across the edge of lace on one breast, stopped in the valley to add, "Clearly, this has to come off before you damage it." He opened the front clasp and cupped her breast, watched her torso ripple like a wave at the subtle pressure of his hand on her bared flesh.
In between short breaths, she told him, "Damage it all you like. I went back and bought three more. Red, white and..."

He ran the tip of his tongue over the soft, hot flesh, suckled her nipple into pertness. "And?"

"And I don't remember or give a shit right now. Shut up and kiss me already."

She grabbed his face in both hands and pulled him over the gear shift towards her. He yelped when it stuck him dangerously close to piece parts he hoped to be using in another minute. She devoured him with tongue-lashing, life-draining, mind-numbing kisses. She thought she might burn up from the inside out as she struggled to pull his shirt up. It snagged on his Colt M1911-A1. He was wearing that damned belly band holster, that was the problem.

He covered her face in kisses, nibbled up her jaw line and supported his weight on her seat back while he fought her hand for control of his belt buckle.

Who wears a belt with a belly band holster? She thought with a mixture of indignation and amusement. While her focus was distracted, he got his pants undone and started in on hers. She freed him from his underwear—briefs today, she noted with some disapproval—but forgot every negative criticism when she ran her hand down the long, hard length of him. She took him in hand and enjoyed his appreciate groan in her ear. He was ready for her. 

He was always ready for her. She really loved that about him. Anytime, anyplace, that was her Steffan. Though the logistics of the cramped space in the little Jag always proved challenging. They'd done it here before and, by God, they were doing it here tonight—In the next three minutes!—or die trying.

Then he cupped her, fingers streaking between silken layers, plunging into velvet fire, driving her hard and fast up towards the edge. She forgot about the small space. She forgot about the short time. She almost forgot not to dig her fingernails into his hot flesh, hard and throbbing in her hand. But that's when he slipped his fingers inside her, matching the motion stroke for stroke with his tongue in her mouth. God he was good at this. Three minutes. She was the one who wasn't going to last another three minutes of this.

She thought her ears were ringing from the blood rushing out of her head but no, it was someone tapping on the window behind Steffan.

She glanced over, past Steffan’s ear and she nearly choked when she saw who it was.

“Oh my God! Charlie.”

Steffan came up for air long enough to smirk at her. “Very funny. And here I was thinking it was your turn to come first.”

“No! It’s Charlie! He's behind you.”

“What?” Steffan’s voice had risen two octaves with that.

He lifted off her quickly and hit his head on the rooftop of the cramped space. He grabbed at the rearview mirror on his way down, trying to spin around and get his gun out. What he got was his pants pocket caught on the gear shift. An E Type Jag was just not the place for these kinds of acrobatics.

The only reason Lisa didn't break out in laughter at him was that she was surprised he'd reached for his gun. She'd said it was Charlie. He shouldn't have been reaching for his gun, at least not in the middle of Av Matignon.

Lisa struggled to stuff herself back into her bra. She ducked her head down to look past Steffan at Charles Rainford, leaning casually with his arms folded over the chrome plating under the driver's side window. He was smirking at them, not to mention ogling her breasts, as she struggled with the clasp. The lecherous jerk.
She told Steffan, “Okay, Steff, you can shoot him. Just shoot that smirk right off his fucking face.”

Steffan got himself disentangled from the gear shift and dropped back into the seat while grabbing hysterically to roll the window down. Rainford had the buttons on his cuffs actually sitting right on the Jag's pristine chrome. She knew that would not go over well with Steffan, but before Steffan could warn him to keep his buttons to himself, Rainford started in.

“Every hotel in Paris full up, I take it?”

“Back off, Rainford!” Steffan snapped at him.

“I'm not the one with his bleeding Johnson caught in the steering wheel.” Rainford waggled his fingers at Steffan’s lap. “Put that away, would you? It’s distracting.”
Steffan didn't take his eyes off Rainford to reply but he zipped his fly halfway up and snapped, “Now get your fucking buttons off my car.”

Rainford stood up, gently draped his leather-gloved hands over the window's edge and bent down to peer in at Lisa. He gave her a deliberate once-over before smirking again. Her blouse was refusing to cooperate. Figures.

“Hello, Lisa. Such a tasty—uhh, tasteful moment I've interrupted here. Do you two need to borrow my suite at the Bristol? Wouldn't want to give the tourists the wrong ideas. Someone might think you two were actually French from the way you're carrying on here!”

Rainford laughed without constraint. He had a truly annoying laugh, Lisa thought, dark and insulting somehow, like he knew something you wanted to hide and was just waiting for the right moment to throw it back in your face. Lisa started reaching down between her legs for the 9 mil Beretta 93R she’d left on the floor, stuffed halfway under her seat. Steffan put his hand up to stop her before she did something regrettable right here in the middle of Av Matignon.

“What we're doing is none of your business, Charlie, so you can leave now. Nice seeing you.” Steffan tried to roll the window up but Rainford's grasp on the top of it held firm. If only the car had had power windows, Lisa reflected, they could have cut the lout's fingers off with the press of one button.

“Not. So. Fast. What are the two of you doing here in Paris? I heard you had a job Stateside.”

Lisa said, “Just drive away, Steffan. If you can smash his toes when you pull out, I'll give you firsts. Twice, even.”

Rainford shook his head and tossed a leering grin over at her. “Bartering for sex, Lisa.” He made a tsking sound. “It's beneath you. Or someone should be.”

Steffan cut in. “Shut up, Charlie. Look, our client's in the States but the job's here. Not that it's any of your business. Now would you please get the fuck off my car before I consider her offer?” 

Rainford lifted both hands an inch and then straightened. Lisa could tell he wasn’t satisfied with their explanation for being there. Steffan rubbed his elbow over the chrome plating at the window base to polish off any errant marks Rainford might’ve left behind. As if. 

Finally, Steffan started up the engine. He wiggled the gear shift and asked Rainford, “Any preference on which foot I take out for your attack on my manhood?” Lisa swatted at the back of Steffan's shoulder. “Oh, and her honor. Guess I have to run over you twice. Sorry.”

“No, you’re not.”

Steffan lifted his chin and bared his teeth at Rainford and the man finally stepped back one pace. Thank God Steffan pulled out rather than chatting with their target for another five minutes! 

She asked him, "What were you thinking? Why'd you tell him our client's in the States. Are you just an idiot or did I just drain all the blood out of your brain with that heavy petting back there?”

Steffan slammed on the brakes and the horn at the same time, shouted choice words out the open window in Italian, accompanied by appropriate hand gestures, then lowered his voice and told her calmly, as though his reasoning were perfectly logical, “He'd already heard we'd been Stateside. No point lying about that part of it. What if someone saw us yesterday? And you hadn't even started draining me, Babe, but feel free to catch up now.” He grinned at her, glanced down at his still unfastened pants. “I plan to drive around the block we can find another parking space. Plenty of time if you--"

He stopped when he looked over at her again. She wasn't amused. She wasn't hiding it. His fleeting fantasy of her going down on him now wasn't going to happen. A man could dream, though. Lisa sat back, crossed her arms, crossed her ankles and closed her eyes before she crossed them, too. 

She shook her head and scolded him, "I can't believe you were talking to the fucking target. I'm in love with a fucking moron!"

"Only if you fuck me deaf, dumb and blind before the night is out. Lisa, he's been our friend for two years. We had to talk to him. I suppose your brilliant plan would have been to drive away as soon as he knocked on the window?"

"No. No, you're right. I just hate this job. Why'd we take it again?"

He held up his hand and rubbed his thumb and first two fingers together with a grin. "Money, Babe. Lots and lots of money."

"You know if we offer him a counter bid, Charlie might give us double for doing nothing."

"Yeah, he might. Or he might shoot us both before we can finish telling him the amount."

"Yeah. Yeah, he might. You're right. I hate you for it, but you're right." She leaned back into the leather and let Steffan shout in peace at the driver that cut him off on the corner. This was the worst job they'd ever taken, a contract on their friends, but it was more money than either of them had ever been offered before. It could make or break their reputations in the game. They had to do it. They would do it. Or they'd die trying.


trojan kills blogger--or at least my PC

NOT having a good morning. started editing a word doc and suddenly activated a trojan. am now struggling to get McAfee to install but had to remove AdAware 1st which req'd a dangerous restart. on the ipad now..REALLY hope I don't lose my whole hard drive to this crap. i won't be able to anything but email and surf on the iPad -- no writing or blogging. Sorry.

I'll see if I can find a virus killer @BestBuy that I can actually afford to buy on disk. Downloading something is out of the question at this point!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Webbiegrrl on eBook Friendly

Discovered a link to the Webbiegrrl's Writings Kindle Blog when I was just googling around. Thanks for the free advertising, eBook Friendly!


UPDATE: Webbiegrrl's Now on Your Kindle!

I submitted this blog to the Kindle Stores (US, UK and presumably, the DE/German store will get the feed, too) and it was successfully accepted. If you'd like to subscribe on your Kindle account, just visit the Kindle Store's Blogs area or go to my blog product page here.

You can try it out for 14 days free of charge and then Amazon has set a price of $1.99. I'm not sure if the convenience of WhisperNet delivery is really worth $1.99 a month, but I sure am going to try to make the content here worth your money!

As always, you can come here to Blogger and read the blog free of charge. I also setup a "mobile friendly" version (Blogger will auto-detect your mobile device and redirect you).
I've committed to posting at least 4 times a week. Check the Welcome Message for the schedule. Thanks for stopping by.

FREEBIE FRIDAY: 3 SciFi & Supernatural Stories

I didn't plan it this way, but this week's Freebie Friday offerings are 3 books that are either SciFi genre or involve some supernatural elements and/or a futuristic setting. It's nice when a plan comes together ^_^

First up, The Gods in the Jungle, a steampunky, alternate-world science fiction novel (approx. 125879 words) by Rik Roots.

The jungle city of Bassakesh holds the keys to the future of the Vreski Empire; it is the sole source of the valuable Vedegga dye. Delesse, the Governor's daughter, is marrying Loken, heir to one of the most powerful Clans in the Empire. When plague disrupts the wedding plans, Delesse, with her friends, has to fight to save the city, punish its enemies, and marry the man she loves.

To get this book FREE use coupon code NR38B at checkout.
(Coupon valid until July 17, 2011)

Next up, a Christian Inspirational with supernatural fantasy elements by Jason Matthews. Jim's Life (approx. 106641 words) is a sequel to The Little Universe. In this volume, Jim, a teenage boy on trial, can see and heal the human light fields, drawing comparisons to Christ while the world argues over his case. Jim gets his wish for the full human experience. Nurses want to sleep with him, skeptics want to debunk him, patients need his healing touch, and still others want to train him to use his gifts and be the teacher he was destined to become.

This book is offered for free on Smashwords at all times, no coupon code required.

And the last entry for this Freebie Friday trio of books is my own Jewish Inspirational / Romantic Comedy set in the future and with some supernatural fantasy elements, Coming Home (Dicky's Story) (approx. 183,000 words) by Sarah R. Yoffa.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Dicky's Story will make you laugh, cry, laugh some more and then you'll shudder before you *ahem* come to the end of the faith walk and feel those Holy Ghost bumps! This long book is a fun read you won't be able to put down once you start--and will wish was longer once you're done. It's not a mystery, Dicky will "find G*d" and he will "get the girl" but the journey he takes to get there might just help you "come home," too.

To get this book FREE use coupon code SJ92H at checkout.
(Coupon valid one day only, Friday, June 17, 2011)


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

TUES TIP: Soliciting eBooks for Freebie Fridays

If you have a book published on Smashwords or elsewhere that allows you to offer it for a limited time as a free giveaway, please consider submitting it here to be featured on one of the weekly Freebie Fridays giveaways. To submit your book, I'll need to know the following.

Just submit a comment to this post including the following information. Note, you can include one URL only per comment or my spam filtering will kick in and ban you from the site. Just make a new comment for each, individual book.
  1. Your book's title, genre and your pen name as well as the format(s) in which it is available (forex, my own book would be "Coming Home (Dicky's Story), a RomCom/inspirational by Sarah R. Yoffa")
  2. The URL of the book's page on the web (presumably a Smashwords URL but if you have it uploaded elsewhere that readers can get it for free, that's good, too)
  3. The coupon code (if from Smashwords, these are immediately activated but you set the expiration date. Be sure it's active until midnight Friday night!)
  4. The Friday on which it will be made available for free (a date, forex, Friday, June 17, 2011 will be the first Freebie Friday here)
Any genre or style or length. Short stories and/or poem collections are fine, too. Completed works only, please (no works in process) and only submit works for which you are the copyright holder.

I am unlikely to review your book myself unless I've already read it (i.e. unlikely to offer to read new books and for now, not requiring that I have read it to feature it here). However, if you have reviews posted somewhere you'd like to have included (to help encourage readers to click-through), let me know. I'd be happy to include a couple of them in the post/featurette.


Tuesday Tip: Be a Better Writer - Here's How!

I'm extremely fond of the saying, "Writers write" and while that's totally true, its simplicity sometimes escapes many wannabes and new authors. They seek out the magic chicken they can wave over their keyboard to make it come to life all by itself.

I have to stop laughing. For a minute there I was picturing it like a scene out of Disney's original Fantasia with the walking broomsticks escorted by walking keyboards and fully-plucked, headless chickens flying overhead. Not a funny scene unless drawn by Disney.

Back to today's tip: how to be a better writer? Well this isn't a magic chicken and there's no secret way to bring your keyboard to life by itself but there are 10 steps you can follow that will improve your writing. Guaranteed. Disclaimer: I didn't author this list. I ganked it from CopyBlogger's Brian Clark, and then wordsmithed a couple of places to make it visually-formatted more smoothly. In fact, it is now shaped much like the lop-sided bell curve arc of a well-plotted storyline with the peak at the 80-90% mark ^_^
  1. Write.
  2. Write more.
  3. Write even more.
  4. Write even more than that.
  5. Write when you don’t want to.
  6. Write when you do want to.
  7. Write when you have something to say.
  8. Write when you have nothing to say.
  9. Write every single day.
  10. Keep writing.


Tuesday Tip: When is a Book Done?

Personally, I find this post from Mark Coker (founder of Smashwords, or 'SW') on the SW Site Updates Page to be hilarious, but it wasn't intentionally written as humor. No, sadly, there are indeed many books that either end too soon, too late, or don't actually end at all. From the SW page:
May 28, 2011 - Tip of the day. We often receive complaints from customers that the book they purchased isn't complete, yet after much investigation we learn the book is complete, it's just that the customer couldn't tell. As we recommend in the Smashwords Style Guide, never end the book with a period and nothing. Provide some clear notation the book is finished. One option is to center "###" (without the quotes) after the last line.
I'd suggest using the traditional The End rather than "###" but yes, you have to put something at the end of the book to indicate there is no more content. It should be obvious. That is, the story should come to a resolution that satisfies the reader, to a conclusion that answers all of the questions it raised and the story should leave the reader feeling satiated and glad they just spent time and effort (and money!) reading your story. Alas, that is not always the case.

What Mark's talking about here is when a book doesn't end even though the story is over. He's referring to books that end before The End or just keep going after the story is done--and then abruptly stop (which might be why Brits say "full stop" instead of period) at some random spot. It's hard to know where and when to end a book.

I ran into this with Coming Home (Dicky's Story), which used to end at a different spot entirely. I used to have an additional scene, an epilogue of sorts, explaining the why behind Dicky's first-person narrative of the entire book. I still feel as though I should have left that in there but my two Copyeditors both felt otherwise.

One of those readers has read the book a handful of times, so he'd seen the various endings I'd tried. Although he liked every ending he read, he felt strongly that this time, I had it just right. The other reader had never read the book before, so he had a "fresh eyes" opinion. He also felt the book ended in just the right place, resolving the plot (faith walk) and the love story concurrently.

I'd even started to write yet another (new) alternate ending! I was just unwilling to leave Dicky and his world behind. Maybe I'll have to give the alternate endings away as a "Freebie Friday" blog to see what you think.

I'm not alone (though at least I had the self-discipline to listen to my readers). A lot of new authors don't want to leave the story and just keep going after The End. After all, the world they created is a nice place for them to be, as its AuthorGod. Also, after writing 100,000 (+/-) words in that world, it's hard to come back to reality and know that you're not going to have any excuses to go back to that special, happy place. Absent a potential sequel, when you get to The End, you're all done with the fun part of creating that book.

You still have to edit (see my remarks on editing in A Word, By Any Other Name) but if you keep writing past The End, your sense of incompletion will be communicated to the reader no matter at what point you just pick your hands up where we can see them and step away from the keyboard.

If you feel as though you have more to say about these people or that world, then consider writing a sequel or another story set in the same world even if it isn't precisely a sequel. During editing, you can insert connection material between the two books or set up the sequel's plot by leaving unanswered questions. Just be careful not to make those questions too prominent or too important to the current story if you're intentionally not answering them.

Mark goes on to make some excellent suggestions for what else you can do at the end of the book to indicate to the reader that the story is really and truly over.

Or, insert additional content like an "About the Author" bio, or take advantage of this special moment (the reader finished your book, they love you, they want more) and add "Other books by this author" with a link back to your Smashwords page.
In addition, I'd know that it's sometimes better to put some of the "front matter" like Acknowledgements at the back of the book instead of the beginning. A "Foreword" for instance, probably will make more sense if it is an "Afterword" instead. As one of my favorite authors, Lois McMaster Bujold, often says, the less material you place between your story and your reader, the better, so put it ALL at the back if you can!

The real advantage to using the back of the book as Mark suggests, however, is that it gives the reader a way to find you again, to spend more money on your work, to get in touch with you. If you take a look at the back matter I've stuck after The End of Coming Home (Dicky's Story), you'll see I stuck all of the links for reaching me and following me online, for hearing about what I'm doing next, into my "About the Author" section. Actually, this reminds me that I need to update that section to include the link to this blog. Good thing I wrote this article!

If you've already bought Coming Home (Dicky's Story), be sure to look for a new version in a week or two (takes Smashwords a while to propagate changes). That's one of the great things about Smashwords: you buy once, download anywhere, anytime, as many times as you like.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Marketing Monday: Digging the Blogosphere

Since I do not already have a following, I have to use whatever social media tools I can to develop one. I'm already on Twitter but haven't been able to dredge up an interest in tweeting every moment of my life Suffice to say I have Networked Blogs feed my RSS through from here on Blogger to Facebook and to Twitter (and from Twitter to LiveJournal). So I'm pretty well "connected" as it were. Or at least automated.

But to solicit interest, I have to BE interesting and not to toot my own horn too much but I know that once I join a conversation, I can sure fire up a spark of interest. Not always a good thing that I am prone to making snarky and provocative remarks but it does make me fundamentally wired for participating in a community like Digg (or or StumbleUpon or others but I like Digg best).

As I'm going to have to manually enter each and every one of my blog posts into the Digg database before I can manually enter its Digg URL into the code to get the button to show up on my Blogger posts (grrrr, this still irks me as ridiculously UNautomated for no good reason), I'll be visiting the Digg site often and should probably avail myself of the opportunity to get involved in other Diggs. I'll have to limit myself (LOL) Yeah, right.

I just think it'll be far more useful to me, however, to participate in public, social networking spaces like Digg and Facebook and Twitter than it would be to spend hours on a site like--for example--Authonomy, which is narrowly focused and even more narrowly populated. Same story with other writer/publishing sites with which I've gotten involved. They might be happily indulgent to me, Sarah, the Webbiegrrl Writer, but they don't help me, the Author who's trying to sell books and generate interest in my words.

Digging on Blogger

Big thanks to Justin for providing the code and instructions on how to add a Digg button to my Blogger posts. I can't believe Blogger doesn't have Digg in either its share toolbar or even in the AddThis widget!

<iframe src="" frameborder="0" height="82" scrolling="no" width="55"></iframe>

Kind of sux that I have to publish the post, get the Permalink to submit to Digg and then come back and edit the post with the DiggURL but annoying as it is, at least it works! And yes, I'm posting this here now so that I can easily copy/paste the source later

Marketing Monday: Crowdsourcing a Work of Art?

This first entry in the Marketing Monday series is more about the marketplace than it is about the marketing activity. Specifically, I want to talk about the subject of Crowdsourcing, the new trend of the 21st century.

This concept is new to me--well, sort of new. I've been out of the web development and graphic design business, thankfully, since 1999 after nearly a decade of running my own business. I hated doing battle daily with these sorts of methods to leech me dry of free labor. I didn't mind showing a client what I had in mind, what I could do, some kind of "proof of concept" or sample that would convince them to hire me. I did mind, however, when a client was simply looking to get something for free. This happened about 10% of the time and I ran away from those clients as quickly as I could. So this new trend--new since 1999 when I left the realm of business owner--of "crowdsourcing" graphics design and its implications to me, as a "self-employed" novelist piqued my curiosity.

It started when I saw an interesting article by a member of a LinkedIn group I've joined. She explains:
Crowdsourcing means getting a whole lot of people to work on a project or solve a problem, usually over the Internet. Sometimes this is a volunteer effort where people are working for the betterment of Mankind, which is the case with SETI@Home and Project Gutenberg. But sometimes, as in the graphics design world, crowdsourcing is synonymous with doing work "on spec." Essentially, a designer is asked to come up with a few ideas for the client’s review before being hired. In other words, working for free.
For some reason, many clients don’t see spec work as a problem because they want to see the product before they pay for it. As I said, I never had a problem offering "proof of concept" work. However, graphic design crowdsourcing sites--such as, CrowdSpring or 99Designs--follow the business model of creating a competition out of every design project. Not everybody can win the contract, but loads of people can spend hours trying.  Hours of uncompensated labor.

So how does this apply to me (or you), as a "self-employed" writer of fiction? Crowdsourcing design services in the graphics world sets a precedent, building a mindset out there that free work is okay to expect--demand, even! Worse, it's lowering the value of artistic creativity and artistic effort.

I'm already a starving artiste, quite literally starving at times when I have to choose between food versus gasoline so I can drive to work and earn the rent on the roof over my head. I don't need new trends in other creative fields to lower the value of art any further. These days, consumerism isn't really focused on the quality of art, but rather on how much this retailer can undercut that retailer on pricing. And can anyone beat Amazon's price-matching. Not to mention stolen works being auctioned on eBay. From pirated music and movies to free "writing on spec," the marketplace is expecting more and willing to pay less for it.

I love to write and will continue to write, but the massive explosion onto the eBook market of low-quality, self-published works going out for 99 cents or free is making it difficult--for me, for my readers, for everyone. Having so free works out there which may or may not be worth what you pay for them, makes it difficult to avoid the crowdsourcing mindset. If this goes on-- (as Robert A. Heinlein once wrote) an eBook author won't be able to survive.

To separate myself from the masses of self-published authors in the eBook market (in addition to having a high-quality body of work), I'll need validation from a traditional publisher. I'd intended to pursue traditional publishing for my Romantic Suspense work anyway, but it would've been nice to self-publish my Science Fiction works. I have the Phoenician Series (Raif's Story is Book 0 of that 5-book series, possibly whittled down to 4 books by the time I'm done) and a few odds and ends novellas I'd wanted to expand and self-publish.

Because I have to work at an outside job for a living, I can only write one or two days a week--if that!--so by the time I get some of it done (YEARS from now), the landscape of the marketplace will have changed again, probably not for the better. So says Sarah, the Cynical Webbiegrrl.

Let it be written, but let it not be done.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

About this Blog

So I've spent the day today setting up and starting to populate this blog again after a 2+ year hiatus from it. Unfortunately, I realize, I've combined my Middle Eastern / Political soapboxing with the Writing related stuff so I'm going to simply delete those posts that aren't writing, publishing or otherwise related to my life as an Author.

If you notice something's gone that you're sure was there this morning, you're not crazy. It's gone. This is why. Visit my Webbiegrrl Writer Facebook fan Page for more political posts every Friday and Saturday ^_^

This blog will have new entries between two and five days a week. At the very least, there'll be something snippeted or given away on Freebie Fridays (coupon codes for a free copy of Dicky's Story, for instance), and probably, I'll post something or other on Saturdays, as I have that day off from my day job. I work only part-time, so on non-work days, I'll be here and posting. That's probably a Monday or Tuesday. It's also possible I could post something on Thursdays, but it completely depends on when I get done with my day job. I'll try to make the content "value-added" enough that the Kindle readers who are actually paying Amazon a monthly fee to have it Whispernetted to their Kindle readers will feel it's worth the money they're paying for it.

You can always get this blog free of charge by visiting this site in a web browser, but if you prefer to get blog feeds through your Facebook Wall, just subscribe to the blog using the widget on the right side of this page and the Networked Blogs app will feed you my words as I post them.

Adding a Pubit! Badge (with cover!) to Your Blog

Because this took me fooooorrrreeeeevvvvveerrrr to find, I'm sharing it with you ^_^ Aren't I nice? Yes. Yes, I am! There are two pieces of information you'll need
  1. your B&N specific "EAN" number, that's the product number for your book
  2. the URL for your book's cover
You can get both of these things from your Product Page. Carefully follow teh instructions at the B&N Pubit! Badge page. They aren't perfect, but you should be able to make a badge from them. I did :)

Well, the badge I put into the sidebar is fine and in the Blogger Post Editor, this one looks fine but when I view the post, itself, the book cover and "I'm a Pubit! Author" images are overlapped. Guess there's a gremlin somewhere--and I don't care. It works where it matters--in the sidebar :)

Smashwords Premium Catalog Process Updated

Never easy to read the munged Site Updates (sans carriage returns or any other formatting) but Mark Coker (founder of Smashwords) always packs good information into those posts so let me reformat his list as a list here and share it around.

  1. As mentioned previously, we reconverted the entire Smashwords Premium Catalog to take advantage of improved NCX features.  A couple days ago, we began reshipping books to Kobo, placing a priority on books that have been awaiting their first shipment.  Due to the volume of titles, Kobo has asked us to throttle the shipments (not ship them all at once), so please expect it may take up to four weeks for shipments to complete.  We're also shipping updates to other retailers, and some have asked to throttle as well.

  2. We are backlogged on Premium Catalog reviews. We plan to hire additional vetting team members in the next 30 days.  The training takes a lot of time, so expect further delays as we staff up.  Currently the vetting queue is running about a week longer than planned, so about two weeks.  Our goal, post-staffing, once the new team is trained, is to get review cycle times down to 3-5 days.

  3. Tip:  If your book is waiting in the review queue, have you opened your .epub file in Adobe Digital Editions, as we recommend in the Style Guide, to ensure the NCX is properly formed?  See the new and improved Step 20 in the Style Guide for more.  Your assistance will help us speed the approvals process so you're approved on the first review.

  4. Why the backlog?  A few reasons:  A.  Smashwords authors and publishers have released 6,300+ new titles in the 30 days (wow).  B.  In the past, the Premium Catalog review process didn't look at the book's NCX.  Now we're looking, and so it's taking some time for our authors and publishers to iterate and get their NCXes working properly.  C.  In the last few weeks, we started reporting EPUBCHECK status.  This too has caused many authors and publishers to upload new revisions for review.  Thanks for your patience as together we improve the capabilities of all Smashwords ebooks for the benefit of you and your readers.
Of course, I'm happy to report that Coming Home (Dicky's Story) is in the Premium Catalog and looks great everywhere but not quite the same everywhere.

Personally, I still highly recommend the Free Kindle Reader App--whether for your Android smartphone, your Blackberry, your iOS device, your desktop (any operating system, Mac or PC). It's still the one app out there that makes a book look the same no matter what hardware platform you use.

The Robopocalypse is Here (book recommendation)

With a doctorate in robotics, Wilson can actually make sense when he explains that the why of the so-called robopocalypse is as important, and as interesting, as the how. I saw this book reviewed and discussed on John Scalzi's Whatever blog and just had to keep reading. In fact, I'm going to have to add it to my Goodreads "to be read" shelf! As Scalzi says, "The novel’s gotten a lot of attention (it’s already been optioned by Steven Spielberg, of whom you may have heard), but there’s more going on than robots and humans thumping on each other."

Weirdly (especially given Speilberg is already optioning the book!) this book's premise reminds me almost exactly of AI: Artificial Intelligence (which was also made into a Speilberg movie, not that I'm complaining! AI is one of my all-time favorite movies ^_^) combined with a weird take on the Terminator series of stories.

From Daniel H. Wilson's Goodreads page for the book:
In the near future, at a moment no one will notice, all the dazzling technology that runs our world will unite and turn against us. Taking on the persona of a shy human boy, a childlike but massively powerful artificial intelligence known as Archos comes online and assumes control over the global network of machines that regulate everything from transportation to utilities, defense and communication.
I'm not sure why the preponderance of robot-killer stories lately but this one actually sounds like it will hold my attention--whereas, the likes of Transformers and Skyline couldn't even interest me enough to Netflix them. For FREE! I attribute the richer story and higher caliber of writing to the fact that Wilson has a Ph.D. from Carnegie-Mellon University. Where else would one go for robots but the place that spawned the World Wide Web? ^_^

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Word, By Any Other Name (guest blog)

by Sarah R. Yoffa

I was having an email conversation with Kat Jordan of Jordan's Croft about writing and editing and we both said, "This should be a blog post!" so here it is, slightly cleaned-up and expanded. Also posted on Kat's blog as a guest blog entry.

One of the most-commonly misunderstood parts of the novel-writing process is what happens after that amazing creative burst subsides, once the story has been disgorged from the AuthorGod's mind. The process isn't finished when you get to "The End," but the fun, creative part is over. No, after all the fun is when the uncreative, hard work of editing begins.

Creative writing and editing are very different activities, tapping into different sides of the brain, but since both activities involve selection and rejection of words, many writers confuse creative "wordsmithing" with actual editing. In addition, there are different levels of "editing" which are actually intended to effect different changes, so it's important to understand the purpose of each level or type of "editing" and treat each activity accordingly. With the possible exception of a class in a School of Journalism, to my knowledge, no literary or creative writing course will teach you how to edit, so let's take a look at the different terms and what they really mean. Or what they mean to me1, anyway.


This is a read-only activity where one used to print out (onto paper) and mark "mistakes" but not actually change anything. Given that computerization's whole point is to eliminate paper waste, this step has become interactive. That doesn't mean you should eliminate it entirely, though, so a word of caution to the novice. Proofreading at the keyboard is much harder to do "correctly" when it's done interactively, as most authors will line-edit while proofreading instead of proofreading as a distinct activity. Proofreading as a reading activity serves a purpose, and making it interactive raises the chances that errors will slip through. In fact, new errors might be introduced through the line-editing process if conducted in parallel with proofreading and these new errors might not be caught at all if there is not a separate and discrete proofreading stage.

Proofreading should be done with a focused mind--focused on the task of simply picking up on typos. That is, typographical errors which the author actually knows are incorrect but, due to typing quickly and with zeal as the story unfolded before them, mistyped or mistakenly typed while so immersed in the creative process. Most of the errors caught during proofreading are related to spelling (transposed letters in a word), grammar (changing singular to plural or using -ed when you meant to write -ing and definitely were not confused as to verb tense), or even simple errors in punctuation and sentence structure.

Note, by "sentence structure," I'm not referring to a well-flowing sentence. That's an editing issue. Rather, I refer to actual mistakes in the construction of the sentence. The author will instantly see these the next time they look at the work. For example, one of my worst typos is moving a word over by 2 or 3 words in a sentence. This is purely a function of my typing at the high speed of about 100 words per minute (wpm) and thinking at about 180wpm. My fingers simply cannot keep up with my brain so the words come out jumbled. Later, when I'm proofreading, even I can't figure out how some of these sentences got rearranged the way they did.

Proofreading functions on the premise that the reader does not know what the words are until they are actually being read; therefore, mistakes will make them "stumble" as they're reading along. A reader's "stumble" can occur for other reasons (e.g., pacing issues) but usually, it's due to a typo, poor sentence construction or some kind of grammatical mistake. The latter two issues will be addressed when line-editing but the typos are straightforward proofreading issues.

The biggest problem a fiction writer faces is that we read our own work multiple times as it's being created. We practically memorize our novels before we finally say they are done and ready to go out into the world. If you're a novelist, at a minimum, you probably read your own work:

(1) inside your head while you're forming the thought and about to type it;
(2) as you're typing it, and
(3) immediately after you've typed it.

Years ago, when I worked as a secretary, and therefore, had to proofread my own typing as soon as possible after typing it, usually within an hour or less, I discovered that the best way to clear my mind of what I'd just typed was to deliberately immerse myself in something else. I'd type ten letters then go back to proofread the first one. For a novelist, just write another scene, then double back to proofread the previous piece. Leap-frog through the day's work, proofing as you go. Proofreading, not editing. For more on the difference, read on.

When you feel like you could recite your book by heart and can't proofread it effectively anymore, even waiting an entire day after typing it, try reading it out loud. Reading aloud allows you to read it "anew," because you've literally never heard the words before; you've only seen them. By forcing your ears to double-check your eyes, you by-pass your brain's belief that you know what the words say.


Not to be confused with actual editing (see below), this process is sometimes called Copyediting. In fact, traditional DTB publishers have a position whose title is "Copyeditor" and that person might be assigned to do this activity for a novel the publisher has under contract.

It is an interactive process where the author (or a Copyeditor) will change individual words to "tighten" a sentence or improve its flow without actually changing its meaning or having any impact on the story's overall plot. Line-editing might include the deletion of an entire sentence to "tighten" a paragraph or the Copyeditor might add those transitional sentences that are needed between paragraphs to improve the flow of a story's plot and pacing. Line-editing will improve, or polish, the flow of a story without impacting the kernel of the story being told. This is not an activity of correction (so it's not proofreading) but can introduce new errors, so be sure to proofread again after line-editing.


And now we meet the Villian of our story. This is the #1 most-commonly visited activity by new or inexperienced writers. It is also an absolute waste of time and effort. This activity will destroy a new or inexperienced author's efforts to polish their work themselves. It is a distraction, not a productive activity. What is it, exactly?

Wordsmithing is what I call it when an author reads along, has an innate sense that something is "wrong" with the sentence (or paragraph) but rather than deleting the sentence or replacing it entirely, he finds himself changing one word here or one word there. He is unable or unwilling to simply delete the sentence or troublesome phrase. Most commonly, a new writer or one who is inexperienced in editing, will get so attached to a word or turn of phrase, they will wordsmith repeatedly polishing "around" the problem without actually remedying the situation. In fact, they might wordsmith to such an extent they end up bloating the story and still not fixing the original problem. These authors must learn to simply murder their darlings, delete those pet phrases or words, no matter how painful it might seem at the time. Once the newbie author gets past the first or second act of "murder," it's an amazingly freeing activity to simply delete things that aren't working. In fact, it will help build your confidence in your ability to write because if you write something different, you'll probably be writing something better. Best of all, you'll see the improvement the next time you proofread!

Wordsmithing can be just the tweaking of words but it can also involve adding and subtracing commas, quote marks, dashes and other punctuation as though they are paraphrenalia instead of serving an actual mechanical function in a grammatical structure. Most commonly, authors who are committed to wordsmithing--rather than copyediting--will change something, then change it back, then change it again, back and forth, repeatedly, ad nauseum. Literally. It will make you sick to watch an author friend spin their wheels trying to fix something when all they're doing is pushing the same problems around on their plate. Like brussel sprouts

(Actually, I really like brussel sprouts but it made a nice simile).


And tah-dah, now we meet the Hero of our story. Editing. This is one of the hardest activities for a creative writer to master. There's a reason for that. Generating the story is a creative process. Editing a story is usually a destructive process. That is, editing involves a lot more deletion than it does insertion of new material. Editing fiction is hard to define in specific, task-oriented terms.

In journalism, or other non-fiction editing, one looks at how quickly and concisely the message of "who, what, when, where, how and why-should-readers-care" can be delivered. Journalism professionals are concerned with using the least amount of column-space to deliver the largest amount of information with the highest level of emotional content so as to hook the reader's attention and hold it. Sound bites work best in a magazine or newspaper article.

In fiction, however, pacing the plot correctly requires that the content of the story be inextricably linked to how the it's being told. You don't want to rush past the climax in three paragraphs and then dwell on a five-page description of a tree. Unless, like Dickens, you're being paid by the word and they don't care how many words you send them. If you know of a job like this, please post a link in the comments! I can churn out 10,000 meaingless words in an hour for you. Let's talk subcontract!

Editing fiction looks at the over-arching "shape" or flow of a story's plot from the beginning, through the middle and to The End. Your editing will impact the readability of your story and the depth to which the reader is involved in the moment of action on the page. If it's a quiet moment, a character reflecting on a major decision she has to make, you might like to go on for five pages. If it's a shoot out or car accident, not so much. Editing is the process that lets you make your sentences shorter for a faster pace or the expositive more vibrant for a richer setting and world-building experience. You might have to change the content entirely but your editing will not simply change a word here or there. Editing will impact the plot and, therefore, the characters.

Editing is the means by which you make characters more believeable, more sympathetic or likeable (or someone we love to hate in the case of a Villian or Anti-Hero). Editing might be how you create a new character when a plot twist isn't believeable and you need to have someone else in the scene to justify the protagonist's choices. Editing is where you delete paragraphs, pages, even whole chapters, to make the overall length of the book better-suited to the story you wanted to tell.

Editing fiction is not just a process for removing stumbling blocks or scraggly plot points. Editing can also deepen a character, expand on a subtext or set up a sequel. The key to editing is to always look at the "Big Picture" or the overall "shape" of a story's plot. The so-called story arc. Some people call it a story's "theme" or "meta-arc" if it is a common line of plotting that connects one volume to another in a series. Editing is done at what I call the 50,000 foot level while Copyediting and Proofreading are down at the ground level, with your nose an inch from the page. Editing is altering the map of the entire book, not the massaging of paragraphs and certainly not the wordsmithing of individual sentences.

I never used to outline before beginning to write, and I usually begin writing a book at The End and work my way backwards, but as I got better at editing, I realized, outlining first meant I could use it as a guide or map to my story's journey. And it made editing later much, much easier.

Outlining first does not have to restrict you. You are the AuthorGod. You can deviate from the outline and take a little side trip if your Muse leads you down the garden path; but having an outline means you don't lose sight of the Big Picture that is the forest while you're creating those much-loved pet phrases that are the trees populating your story.

I hope these concepts delineating the different levels of "editing" make sense to you and that you can see why the different ways of "touching" a story after you've finished writing it are so distinct and not all clumped under one term. They each serve entirely different purposes. Hiring a professional editor should get you more than mere line-editing or proofreading. If they aren't smoothing out your plot, shaping the story's arc to be most effective for the kind of story it is and ensuring that your characters have depth, then they aren't worth hiring. You can find voracious readers on Goodreads, Authonomy or in any bookseller's web site forums who will proofread and line-edit for you free of charge. They'll think they're getting something for free. With the proliferation of digital eBook reading devices, the numbers of readers who are online looking for free stuff to read is literally infinite.

Real editing requires a professional ability to critique at a 50,000 foot level. An author can--and should--learn to do it for herself, but if you're going to pay someone else to do it for you, be sure he delivers your money's worth. If you aren't sure about the quality of an editor (a) request three (3) references of authors they've worked for previously whom you can contact with questions about the editor and (b) check to be sure they are not listed in the Writers Beware database.

1Most of my knowledge of how to polish a document after it's been composed comes from the one-year Executive Secretarial Program of the Katharine Gibbs School, which taught secretarial skills for over 100 years before it changed, in the 1990s, into a web design school. Accordingly, my information is based on "King's English" and not netspeak or prosaic literature or even on the journalistic rules of written communication. I apply executive communication rules of American English to my fiction, mostly complying with the Chicago Manual of Style, but only on rules of grammar, punctuation and spelling. Style, in fiction, is called a writer's voice and no "manual" or "course" can tell you how to find your own voice. Your writing will "sound" different from mine, hopefully, but we should all conform to the the same rules of English language usage--assuming your story is written in English.

Sarah R. Yoffa can be found on Facebook as Sarah, The Webbiegrrl Writer or on Twitter @webbiegrrl. Her debut novel, Coming Home (Dicky's Story), a Romantic Comedy/Jewish Inspirational, is available in multiple eBook formats at Smashwords or through the Amazon US and Amazon UK Kindle stores.