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Messages - ellenoc

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Writers' Cafe / Re: What's the best laptop for writing?
« on: Today at 10:33:40 AM »
I think it's very individual. For me a matte screen was the primary consideration when I bought my last Windows laptop. I thought I wanted a 17" screen, but when looking at them locally found those machines too heavy, so I ended up with a 15" Samsung and have never regretted it. I think it's 3 years old now, runs Windows 7.

I had a couple of Dell laptops years ago. Neither of them lasted 3 years. Maybe I was unlucky and maybe they're built better now.

When I bought a new but dated Macbook Pro for Vellum and the "better" Scrivener, I tried to save a few bucks and got a 13", never reconciled myself to the smaller screen, and ended up finally giving in and getting a used 15", which has the retina screen, which I love. It's beginning to overcome my anti-Mac prejudice.

For me anything that needs the internet to run or stores everything on the internet is out. I finally have wifi at home after years of struggling with dial-up, but still want my programs and my data on my own machines. A cloud backup is one thing, for me for day to day work it's no go.

Wow. Good for Rachel, and I hope Christine can get that clear of an apology.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Have you seen this funny t-shirt for writers?
« on: July 12, 2018, 03:39:57 PM »
Years of struggling with dial-up internet killed any desire to post pictures anywhere even though I now have wifi. However, I bet you can imagine what the t-shirt a friend gave me looks like. It's gray with black lettering that says, "Careful, or I'll put you in my novel."

To my surprise, a few people have actually read that and said something the couple times I've worn it so far.

A sample can tell me if the writing at the beginning is decent, but it can't tell me if the book as a whole contains elements that I don't want to read.

This. I can't tell you how many times I took a chance on a book based on the quality of writing and premise in the sample only to have it fall apart later on. The effect it had on me was to stop me buying books from new-to-me authors. So... I'll try a new author through KU or the library, but won't buy. Yes, I can return, but there's a limit how many returns of anything you can make before drawing Amazon's ire.

What I rely on most heavily is the blurb. If it's poorly written, I figure the book will be too. And if it's one of those that goes through the plot point by point, I figure why read the book, I already know the story.

I do rely on reviews even when it's KU or the library and sometimes for favorite authors who can occasionally go somewhere I don't want to follow. For instance, I skipped a Nevada Barr book based on reviews. Yes, some reviews also do the point-by-point retelling of the plot, but it's easy to identify those at a glance and skip over them. Whether it's fair or not, how heavily I rely on reviews does depend on how many there are. Only a few, and I tend to worry they're all friends and relatives, or in the case of non-books, employees, paid for, etc. But once the total gets to a certain point, I figure there has to be input from ordinary consumers. Generally I don't read that many reviews but go by averages.

I wouldn't want Amazon to ditch reviews, but if it did, I'd be looking for that kind of information elsewhere for non-books. Probably my attitude toward trying new authors couldn't be any more restrictive than it is.

Writers' Cafe / Re: To all the other US authors
« on: July 04, 2018, 12:07:14 PM »

That's got to be the most out of line thing I've ever seen posted on KBoards.

Edited. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca

The Book Corner / Re: Holiday Traditions - the 4th of July
« on: July 02, 2018, 01:06:15 PM »
Sometimes I'm reading a book and a date is mentioned and I realize that it's about the same time of year NOW as in the story -- but that's never a planned thing.

That's nice about the musical. The older I get the more I find myself concentrating on the actual meaning of holidays such as Memorial Day, the Fourth, and Veterans Day. I really dislike the kind of music on the radio these days around Christmas and have had to download the old carols by favorite artists to play for myself in the car and at home. However, I'll also admit that every Christmas calls for sitting down to a re-viewing of Die Hard.

The Book Corner / Holiday Traditions - the 4th of July
« on: July 01, 2018, 08:24:34 PM »
Do most of you have holiday traditions in books? Tonight I was reading a mystery that wasn't holding my attention and wandered over to my bookcase. One book I kept in hard cover when I got rid of all but a few physical books some years ago is McCullough's 1776. So now it's sitting on my chair-side table ready to go. It seems I re-read it every year about this time.

The Book Corner / Re: First Reads July 2018
« on: July 01, 2018, 02:14:54 PM »
Are there actually any thrillers that don't have serial killers, always horribly killed women in them? Its one of the reasons when I see thriller anywhere, I don't even look further.

My feelings exactly. I don't want to spend any time in a killer's mind, and if I see the word "serial" in a book's blurb, I'm gone. The Kindle First Reads hardly ever appeal to me, and since I don't have Prime and would have to pay a nominal price for one, I hardly ever read one. But I keep looking in contrary hopefulness.

Writers' Cafe / Re: 8 years an Indie Author (My story)
« on: July 01, 2018, 01:42:29 PM »
We started about the same time, at about the same age, and for the same reasons, Marti. After that our paths diverged, though. In late 2009 when I discovered KDP, I had two finished novels on my computer. The first I wrote to win a bet with my sister and the second to prove to myself I could write a different genre. However, when the mystery won its division of an unpublished authors contest and I found out what getting traditionally published required and what advances for my kind of books would be, I never wrote another word. I was still working at the time and there were other ways to make such a paltry sum for such major aggravation.

In late 2009 I was retired, needing extra income, and considering several unpalatable options when I heard about KDP right here on what was Kindle Boards, which I'd joined because I had and loved a Kindle. Amazon would let me put my books up for sale right beside established authors? For free? I had trouble believing it.

Even so, I figured if my books brought in $10 it was better than nothing and so got busy and put the mystery up on Amazon with no expectations and no "launch" except mention in the Amazon forums as allowed at the time. It did well enough to inspire hope.

A couple months later I published the romance, and it took off a couple months after that and proved writing could solve my financial problem. But 50 books? Wow. I applaud you. I've never been able to manage more than one a year since that two-book beginning, although every year I swear I'll begin. For me this is a very satisfactory part-time gig.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Romance Genre?
« on: June 27, 2018, 07:08:42 PM »
IMO, there's very little to be gained by reading a romance written 30 or 40 years ago. Read Nora Roberts' latest book. She still writes actual romances.

I agree with this. And if you're writing a contemporary, read contemporary, not historical, and vice versa.

Writers' Cafe / Re: What Will This Mean For us?
« on: June 27, 2018, 07:06:16 PM »
Personally, I'm a bit concerned by this trend of judging the work or actions of people who lived in radically different historical times through the lens of the present. For a few reasons - for one, I worry about the slippery slope implications. First we remove Laura Ingalls Wilder from the name of a children's book literature award, when she was one of the pioneers of that genre, because some of the statements or concepts in her books offend our modern sensibilities. But a huge proportion of the classic canon contains such things. Do we remove Mark Twain from our schools because his characters use racial slurs? Or Rudyard Kipling for his views on colonialism and race? These authors are firmly woven into the fabric of world civilization - do we just go back and pluck out the threads that don't match the modern pattern? This sort of revisionism is honestly a little dangerous, I think.

That's how I feel about it. Pretending history wasn't what it was isn't good for people today. If you don't know how things were in times before you lived, you misjudge how things are in your own times and don't recognize how much or little change there has been. If more people knew history, we might be less doomed to repeat some of the worst of it.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Recurring Themes
« on: June 27, 2018, 04:47:48 PM »
My villains are usually family members of either the hero or heroine of my romances. I've been hit for it in reviews and was honest in a blog post - I come from a dysfunctional enough family that that's how I see the world. Other than that, I do my best not to write the same story over and over again or have the same characters, just in different settings with different physical attributes. Which is too bad in a way. I think I have some readers who would like to read a slightly tweaked version of the heroine in my most popular romance over and over.

IMO, it's a combination of both. There is a voracious readership for sexy books and many of those readers are less quality sensitive.

I agree with this, but Romance readers aren't the only ones IMO who aren't quality sensitive. I also read mysteries and thrillers and westerns, and some of what's on recommended by Amazon and bestseller lists is really poorly written. Maybe it's an overall trend in modern books? Last night I read a cozy mystery by a favorite author. It's traditionally published and it really needed another editing pass. It actually had things like referring to a character by one name throughout and then all of a sudden a different name for the character popping up once. Since you can reliably change a character's name with a Find and Replace pass in any word processor, how does that even happen? Right before that was a regular mystery that ended not with a cliffhanger but with several plot threads just abandoned.

Readers like me are partially to blame, I guess. I'll buy and read the next mystery by the favorite cozy author in spite of the lessening quality of editing. But I won't read more by the mystery author who left the plot holes.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Finding balance in Description
« on: June 27, 2018, 04:11:33 PM »
I bet most of us write the kind of description we prefer to read. So someone who finds joy in paragraph after paragraph of lyrical description is going to work at writing something similar. Those who prefer just a little slipped in here and there are going work on that. And everything in between. That's the kind of thing that makes one reader's beloved re-read another reader's DNF. There are audiences for it all.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Successful Tortoise writers, Speak Up!
« on: June 27, 2018, 03:18:37 PM »
Since I started in February 2010, I've published eight novels (although many of my readers would argue that the 53,000-word novel is a novella - one actually referred to it as a short story :(), one novella, and one short story. So it's more like one book a year, and I've exceeded your $30,000 marker three times. Not, unfortunately, in the last couple of years, which is no one's fault but mine. I had some personal things that knocked me for a loop and didn't publish anything in 2015, only the short novel in 2016, and only the novella last year. I'm lucky that so far my book income is staying in four figures monthly at all, and if I don't get in gear it may fall below that soon. I attribute the fact that income is holding steady the way it is to KU, but my one book not in KU is holding steady on sales, so maybe I'm wrong.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Why doesn't Amazon give us buyers' emails?
« on: June 26, 2018, 09:29:45 PM »
Email addresses are free, trivial to set up, and require no management. Why wouldn't you have a dozen of the things?

Because I don't want to? I have one personal and one business and that's it. I don't sign up for things I don't want to receive and do something with things I do want to receive pretty promptly. IMO there's no reason to to accommodate people I don't want to hear from. You're free to attribute that to curmudgeon behavior, which it probably is, but I doubt I'm the only one.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Why doesn't Amazon give us buyers' emails?
« on: June 26, 2018, 08:11:35 PM »
If I knew Amazon gave away my email address, I would never buy from them again.  Even if Amazon only lost 4% of its business to people like me, I don't think they'd risk it.

That's exactly how I feel. It's bad enough to be harassed by vendors I've actually bought from. All they do is get put on my email block list. If Amazon started giving my email to a bunch of indie authors so they could bug me, (a) I'd stop buying from Amazon, and (b) I'd stop buying indie books.

Your mailing list should be something people sign up for willingly because they like your books, and you should tell them what signing up is going to mean up front.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Please save me...
« on: June 24, 2018, 01:18:52 PM »
When I first formatted a paperback, I looked at a lot on my shelves, and like C. Gold, I found books done both ways. So IMO if you have a long book and don't want to be paying any more than you have to for the paperback, just starting each chapter on the next page is best. If you have a short book and want it to look longer, start each one on the right side, although it only gains you a few pages.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Smashwords selling unpublished books
« on: June 22, 2018, 04:48:13 PM »
For anyone who's curious, I got a reply from Smashwords today. These are recent sales and shouldn't have happened. They are investigating.

And yes, if I were wide, I'd be happy about these sales as all 3 are to libraries. Since I'm not wide, I'm not happy and hope it doesn't cause trouble.

The Book Corner / Re: MM Romance reader/reviewers wanted
« on: June 22, 2018, 11:34:21 AM »
This should be in Writers' Cafe.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Smashwords selling unpublished books
« on: June 20, 2018, 12:55:39 PM »
You might have sold via one of the vendors they distribute to. Some of those vendors are extremely slow to report, though more than a year is excessive.

It would actually be more than 18 months right now and it's 2 different buyers but the same vendor. I want to make sure it doesn't happen again as it's a threat to my KU books. IMO absolutely nothing for all of 2017 and more than 5 months of 2018 and then 3 at once means there's a glitch with that vendor and it needs to be addressed.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Smashwords selling unpublished books
« on: June 20, 2018, 12:46:06 PM »

Then click the question mark in the top right.

I already did that. However, afterward I realized that leaves me without a record. Yes, I should have taken a screenshot but didn't think of it until afterward. So I'd like to have a regular email address and remember people emailing directly in the past.

Writers' Cafe / Smashwords selling unpublished books
« on: June 20, 2018, 12:27:21 PM »
Can anyone give me an email address for Smashwords? My books have been down from there for more than a year and all of a sudden they have sold copies of two books.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Western Genre Resurgence?
« on: June 18, 2018, 06:05:55 PM »
You're talking about Code of the West, which probably could be classified as a romance of sorts. Most of Zane Grey could not, and it doesn't make classic westerns with a romantic storyline as a subplot western romances, especially as the category stands today.

I'm not saying classic Westerns and Western Romances aren't different things with different genre expectations. I am saying I think you're wrong about the two having such a stark dividing line they have totally different audiences:

They don't even really belong in the same discussion, because they don't have the same readers or follow the same trajectories.

I read both, and from what I see in my own readers, I believe there's definite crossover. Few readers stick to one genre and since these two have the same settings and types of characters, there's an attraction.

You see the same thing between Historical Romance and Historical Mystery - different genres, different "rules". Romantic threads in Historical Mystery vary in strength, but the two genres appeal to a lot of the same readers.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Western Genre Resurgence?
« on: June 17, 2018, 09:57:10 PM »
Question. I am trying to figure out whether I read Westerns or Western Romances. So, which genre are Zane Gray novels in?

They're classic Westerns. However, I can remember reading one as a girl that would qualify as a Western Romance. Can't remember the title. Girl from the East comes West. Behaves so badly the cowboys around her are all sure she's heading for trouble. Kidnapped and carried off by cowboy who's in love with her. On the trail to isolated place he's taking her she's knocked out by an overhanging tree limb. When she's wakes up she's sure he hit her and is afraid of him. So they get to prepared hiding place, live there in isolation and fall in love. Even today, decades later, I remember the story and am pretty sure her name was Georgie and his Cal. No sex scenes or even anything very physical, of course. ZG wrote before all that started in Romance.

I get male readers telling me they like my Western Romances, which are the kind with action and adventure woven in, not just two people dealing with physical attraction. I think, depending on the book, the divide isn't always as stark as Shelley K believes.

Even in Shane, which is perhaps the best Western ever written, there is a strong romantic thread, although it's not the kind you find in Romances, as it's the attraction between a married woman and Shane, which is the reason he leaves in the end. I don't believe the movie deals with that part of the story at all, but I only saw the movie once long ago and hated it with short blond Alan Ladd in buckskin playing a man who was totally different in the book. The whiny kid was just an added aggravation.

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