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Topics - swolf

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Writers' Cafe / Woman fined $1,000 for online review
« on: September 23, 2015, 12:21:11 pm »
Nothing to do with ebooks, at least not yet.

The reviews are in -- and they'll cost a Staten Island woman $1,000.

That's how much a judge has ordered Emily Fanelli to pay for bashing the owner of a floor refinishing business as a "liar" and a "con artist" in scathing online reviews.

"Are you kidding me? I'm sick," the 67-year-old said after she found about the judge's ruling from the Daily News.

"People do reviews all the time. I shouldn't have to pay anything," she said. "It's freedom of speech."

But in a ruling made public Tuesday, Staten Island Civil Court Judge Philip Straniere said Fanelli's rants on Yelp and another site had crossed the line.

Good news? Dangerous precedent? First step down a slippery slope?

I find the decision surprising, since she did have a bad experience with the company. It wasn't like some of those reviews paid for by competitors.

Writers' Cafe / Mechanical keyboards
« on: August 27, 2015, 10:11:57 am »
I've seen other people mention them on here, and after some procrastination, I decided to take the plunge. I figured this was my full-time job now, so I should try to make it as enjoyable as possible.  Also, just bought a new laptop, and I hate those Chicklet keys. So I needed one that I could toss in my knapsack along with the laptop.

So I did some research, and discovered the choice isn't as simple as going mechanical. There are different types of keys, with different feels. Without being able to actually test the different ones out, I settled for watching Youtube videos showing the differences between them. Eventually, I chose the Cherry MX Blue. I also wanted a keyboard that was backlit, but I didn't want to spend too much.

Here's the one I eventually bought:

CM Storm QuickFire TK - Compact Mechanical Gaming Keyboard with CHERRY MX BLUE Switches and Fully LED Backlit

And I'm loving it. Very click-clacky with a nice tactile feel. Just getting used to the different numeric-keypad configuration. If you type a lot - and most of us do - I'd suggest looking into it.

By the way, they're marketed as gaming keyboards, only because the gamers love how they can process so many keys at once. But of course, they're not strictly for gaming.

Oh yeah, also bought this sweet mouse because my old one died:

Redragon M601 CENTROPHORUS-2000 DPI Gaming Mouse for PC, 6 Buttons, Weight Tuning Set, Omron Micro Switches

Writers' Cafe / Smashwords - Manage preemptive opt out settings
« on: July 26, 2015, 04:01:41 am »
Noticed the 'Manage preemptive opt out settings' at the bottom of the Channel Manager page in Smashwords.  Is this new, or did I miss it's announcement?

With it, you can opt out of any future distribution channels that Smashwords adds. And when you click on the link, it tries to talk you out of using it:

We do not recommend using this tool for the following reasons:
1.All your books will be prevented from shipping to future retailers.
2.If you later decide to distribute your titles to the new retailers, you must manually opt your books in one-by-one.
3.Even if you manually opt your book(s) in at a later date, your book(s) will appear at the new store later than all other Smashwords authors who maintained their automatic opt-in status.  Experience has shown that authors who arrive at the retailer first sell more books than latecomers.
4.If you forget to opt your titles in to new channels, you will miss out on the expanded sales opportunities.
5.This is an all or nothing tool. You cannot selectively preemptively opt out individual titles with this tool. If you use this tool, you are preemptively opting out all your titles from all future, as-of-yet unannounced channels.

I guess it's cool that they did this, even if it goes against their business interests.

I'd prefer something a little more useful, like a template for how you want your books distributed (including an option to opt out of future channels), which is applied to every new book you publish.

Writers' Cafe / A tribute to Ryan
« on: June 29, 2015, 02:15:08 pm »
Most of you probably don't know Ryan Mooney, but I met him a few years ago in my writers' group. Brilliant guy, and one of the best and most creative writers I've met.  Also a hell of a nice person.

If any of you have hung out at LitReactor, you've probably run into him.  He's known as a great help to many there.

Sadly, Ryan took his own life recently.  Part of me wants to be angry with him for making that choice, but most of all I just feel sadness. What a waste.

Wont be able to respond after I post this, as I'm off to his wake.  I'll check back in later for any comments.


Writers' Cafe / In Your Write Mind Writers' Workshop
« on: June 26, 2015, 10:20:56 am »
At Seton Hill University. Apparently, it's more popular than I thought, with folks here from all over the country.  Anyone here attending?

I'm here, and just enjoyed a Self-publishing class ran by author Shelley Adina.

Writers' Cafe / Check out what I just borrowed from the library
« on: October 29, 2014, 01:37:30 pm »
Pretty cool.

Writers' Cafe / Stephen King's interview in Rolling Stone
« on: October 27, 2014, 05:29:10 pm »
A short excerpt from a long interview:

I want to be talk about writing now. Walk me through your typical day when you're working on a book.

I wake up. I eat breakfast. I walk about three and a half miles. I come back, I go out to my little office, where I've got a manuscript, and the last page that I was happy with is on top. I read that, and it's like getting on a taxiway. I'm able to go through and revise it and put myself - click - back into that world, whatever it is. I don't spend the day writing. I'll maybe write fresh copy for two hours, and then I'll go back and revise some of it and print what I like and then turn it off.

Do you do that every day?

Every day, even weekends. I used to write more and I used to write faster - it's just aging. It slows you down a little bit.

Is writing an addiction for you?

Yeah. Sure. I love it. And it's one of the few things where I do it less now and get as much out of it. Usually with dope, and booze, you do it more and get less out of it as time goes by. It’s still really good, but it's addictive, obsessive-compulsive behavior. So I'll write every day for maybe six months and get a draft of something  and then I make myself stop completely for 10 days  or 12 days in order to let everything settle. But during that time off, I drive my wife crazy. She says, "Get out of my way, get out of the house, go do something - paint a birdhouse, anything!"
So I watch TV, I play my guitar and put in time, and then when I go to bed at night, I have all these crazy dreams, usually not very pleasant ones because whatever machinery that you have that goes into writing stories, it doesn’t want to stop. So if it's not going on the page, it has to go somewhere, and I have these mind dreams. They're always dreams that focus on some kind of shame or insecurity.

Like what?

The one that recurs is that I'm going to be in a play, and I get to the theater and it's opening night and not only can I not find my costume, but I realize that I have never learned the lines.

How do you interpret that?

It's just insecurity - fear of failure, fear of falling short.

You still fear failure after all these years of success?

Sure. I'm afraid of all kinds of things. I'm afraid of failing at whatever story I'm writing - that it won't come up for me, or that I won't be able to finish it.

Do you think your imagination is more active than most people's?

I don't know, man. It's more trained. It hurts to imagine stuff. It can give you a headache. Probably doesn't hurt physically, but it hurts mentally. but the more that you can do it, the more you're able to get out of it. Everybody had that capacity, but I don't think everyone develops it.

Fair enough, but not many people can do what you do.

I can remember as a college student writing stories and novels, some of which ended up getting published and some that didn't. It was like my head was going to burst - there were so many things I wanted to write all at once. I had so many ideas, jammed up. It was like they just needed permission to come out. I had this huge aquifer underneath of stories that I wanted to tell and I stuck a pipe down in there and everything just gushed out. There's still a lot of it, but there's not as much now.

When did you first get the idea for "Revival"?

I've had it since I was a kid, really. I read this story called The Great God Pan in high school, and there were these two characters waiting to see if this woman could come back from the dead and tell them what was over there. It just creeped me out. The more I thought about it, the more I thought about this Mary Shelly-Frankenstein thing.

How long did it take you to write it?

I started it in Maine and finished it in Florida. An actual book takes at least a year. A first draft can be rough, and then you polish it, take out the bad stuff. Elmore Leonard - someone asked him, "How do you write a book someone wants to read?" And he said, "You leave out the boring [crap]."

Later on..

Did the quality of your writing start to go down? [because of the drinking and drugs]

Yeah, it did. I mean, The Tommyknockers is an awful book. That was the last one I wrote before I cleaned up my act. And I've thought about it a lot lately and said to myself, "There's really a good book in here, underneath all the sort of spurious energy that cocaine provides, and I ought to go back." The book is about 700 pages long, and I'm thinking, "There's probably a good 350-page novel in there."

Is "The Tommyknockers" the one book in your catalog you think you botched?

Well, I don't like Dreamcatcher very much. Dreamcatcher was written after the accident. [In 1999, King was hit by a van while taking a walk and left severely injured.] I was using a lot of OxyContin for pain. And I couldn't work on a computer back then because it hurt too much to sit in that position. So I wrote the whole thing longhand. And I was pretty stoned when I wrote it, because of the Oxy, and that's another book that shows the drugs at work.

If you had to pick your best book, what would it be?

Lisey's Story. That one felt like a an important book to me because it was about marriage, and I'd never written about that. I wanted to talk about two things: one is the secret world that people build inside a marriage, and the other was that even in the intimate world, there's still things that we don't know about each other.

And later...

Do you worry about the death of print?

I think books are going to be around, but it's crazy what happened. They're worried in the publishing industry about bookstores disappearing. Barnes & Noble creating the Nook was like Vietnam; they should have left that alone because Amazon got there first with the Kindle. The death of the music business was insane, but audio recordings have been around now for maybe 120 years. Books have been around for, what, nine centuries? So they're more entrenched than music.

Speaking of Harry Potter, you've become friendly with J.K. Rowling, right?

Yeah. We did a charity event at Radio City Music Hall a few years back. She was working on the last of the Harry Potter books. Her publicist and her editor called her over, and they talked for about 10 minutes. And when she came back to me, she was steaming. [expletive]ing furious. And she said, "They don't understand what we do, do they? They don't [expletive]ing understand what we do." And I said, "No, they don't. None of them do." And that's what my life is like right now.

What do you mean?

When someone says, "What are you working on?" I'll say, "I've got this wonderful story about these two families on two sides of a lake that end up having this arms race with fireworks." but I'm doing this event, and then I've got the political ad and all this other crap. So you have to be stern about it and say, "I'm not going to do this other stuff, because you've got to make room for me to write." Nobody really understands what the job is. They want the books, but they don't, in a way, take it seriously.

Writers' Cafe / I wrote that?
« on: October 27, 2014, 03:47:50 am »
Have you ever looked through your old files at stuff you've never finished, and ran across something that you don't remember writing at all?  Very weird.

Or how about something you kind of remember, but have no clue where you were going with it?

I have a program that I use to keep track of my sales, where I copy and paste the daily KDP report into it and it parses the numbers and shows the results.  I published a book under my main pen name a week ago, which I had been working on and off on for the past few months.

So, I published it, and watched the numbers. First day, no sales.  That's odd for this pen name, but okay, the tectonic plates of self-publishing are shifting, so I need to adjust.  Next day, no sales.  Same for the next and the next and the next.  A week goes by, and zero sales.  Zip.   Something is seriously wrong.  Has my readership abandoned me?  I'm thinking I'm going to have to pull out some phone numbers and try to get my old day job back.

Finally, today I noticed what the problem was.  Since I'd been working on the book for so long, I'd forgotten I'd already added it to my sales program.  So I'd added it again at the bottom.  So the program was putting all the sales in the first entry, and the second entry was getting nada. 

I can breath again.

Writers' Cafe / Method not implemented?
« on: October 12, 2014, 09:19:40 am »
Does anyone else sometimes get this error message when they try to post here?:

It happens now and then for me, and it's no big deal because if you page back the post is intact, but I'm wondering if it's something with my machine or with the website.

Writers' Cafe / October publishing experiment
« on: October 08, 2014, 04:57:57 am »

Writers' Cafe / Nook sales reporting offline for the next six days
« on: September 15, 2014, 04:18:59 pm »
Got this message:

Sales reporting temporarily unavailable from 9/16-9/22

Sales reporting will be unavailable from 11 AM EST Tuesday, Sept 16th until the morning of Sept 22nd due to a standard data migration. No sales will be lost, and all sales reporting will be counted and flow through to bestseller lists and rankings, where applicable.

That sucks.

Writers' Cafe / Woke up to a five-star review, but...
« on: September 13, 2014, 05:55:13 am »
The reader enjoyed the book, but her review is basically a recap of the entire short story and gives away the ending, including two important spoilers.  Very frustrating.  I was even thinking about posting a comment on the review, asking her to revise it.  This seems to be her reviewing style, and she's reviewed a ton of books, laying out the plot for each one.

But then I checked my mail, and she had sent me an email thanking me for the story and letting me know she'd posted a review, including a link to it.   :)

So now I have to put on my diplomacy hat, and send her a response.

Writers' Cafe / Similes to make you smile
« on: September 02, 2014, 01:07:55 pm »
Found these on the internet.  Got any you've written that would fit in?

The 56 best/worst analogies written by high school students

1.Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center.
2.He was as tall as a 6'3" tree.
3.Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
4.From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.
5.John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
6.She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
7.The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
8.He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.
9.Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
10.She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.
11.The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM.
12.The lamp just sat there, like an inanimate object.
13.McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.
14.His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
15.He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
16.Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
17.Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.
18.The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.
19.Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.
20.The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
21.They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.
22.He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River.
23.Even in his last years, Grand pappy had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.
24.He felt like he was being hunted down like a dog, in a place that hunts dogs, I suppose.
25.She was as easy as the TV Guide crossword.
26.She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.
27.The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
28.The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
29.“Oh, Jason, take me!” she panted, her breasts heaving like a college freshman on $1-a-beer night.
30.It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.
31.It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.
32.He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
33.The politician was gone but unnoticed, like the period after the Dr. on a Dr Pepper can.
34.Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any pH cleanser.
35.Her date was pleasant enough, but she knew that if her life was a movie this guy would be buried in the credits as something like “Second Tall Man.”
36.The thunder was ominous-sounding, much like the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in a play.
37.The red brick wall was the color of a brick-red Crayola crayon.
38.She caught your eye like one of those pointy hook latches that used to dangle from screen doors and would fly up whenever you banged the door open again.
39.Her pants fit her like a glove, well, maybe more like a mitten, actually.
40.Fishing is like waiting for something that does not happen very often.
41.They were as good friends as the people on “Friends.”
42.Oooo, he smells bad, she thought, as bad as Calvin Klein’s Obsession would smell if it were called Enema and was made from spoiled Spamburgers instead of natural floral fragrances.
43.The knife was as sharp as the tone used by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) in her first several points of parliamentary procedure made to Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) in the House Judiciary Committee hearings on the impeachment of President William Jefferson Clinton.
44.He was as bald as one of the Three Stooges, either Curly or Larry, you know, the one who goes woo woo woo.
45.The sardines were packed as tight as the coach section of a 747.
46.Her eyes were shining like two marbles that someone dropped in mucus and then held up to catch the light.
47.The baseball player stepped out of the box and spit like a fountain statue of a Greek god that scratches itself a lot and spits brown, rusty tobacco water and refuses to sign autographs for all the little Greek kids unless they pay him lots of drachmas.
48.I felt a nameless dread. Well, there probably is a long German name for it, like Geschpooklichkeit or something, but I don’t speak German. Anyway, it’s a dread that nobody knows the name for, like those little square plastic gizmos that close your bread bags. I don’t know the name for those either.
49.She was as unhappy as when someone puts your cake out in the rain, and all the sweet green icing flows down and then you lose the recipe, and on top of that you can’t sing worth a damn.
50.Her artistic sense was exquisitely refined, like someone who can tell butter from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.
51.It came down the stairs looking very much like something no one had ever seen before.
52.Bob was as perplexed as a hacker who means to access\aaakk/[email protected] but gets T:\flw.quidaaakk/[email protected] by mistake.
53.You know how in “Rocky” he prepares for the fight by punching sides of raw beef? Well, yesterday it was as cold as that meat locker he was in.
54.The dandelion swayed in the gentle breeze like an oscillating electric fan set on medium.
55.Her lips were red and full, like tubes of blood drawn by an inattentive phlebotomist.
56.The sunset displayed rich, spectacular hues like a .jpeg file at 10 percent cyan, 10 percent magenta, 60 percent yellow and 10 percent black.

Writers' Cafe / Foot or feet?
« on: August 03, 2014, 04:07:21 am »
Would you say 'ten foot high fence', or 'ten feet high fence'?

And secondly, should it be hyphenated, such as, 'ten-foot high' or 'ten-foot-high'?

The internet seems to be divided on it, and although the 'ten foot' version sounds right to me, logic tells me it should be 'ten feet'.

Writers' Cafe / Beware of this kind of plagiarism
« on: July 24, 2014, 07:19:17 pm »
I recently came across a book on Amazon that had a title similar to one of mine. (I'm not going to mention the books, because their content isn't appropriate here, and I don't want to get into WHOA.)

Taking a peek at the look-inside, I saw that it began pretty much the same way mine did, but with different character names and a slightly different situation.  So I bought the book (only .99) and to my surprise, the plot basically followed my story, just changed around slightly.  There were no word-for-word copies done, but the progression of events and specific details left no doubt that the person had read my book (published a month prior, where it spent several weeks in the Top 100 of Erotica) and decided to re-write it by changing several points.

This author actually did the same thing with another book of mine, but it's recently been removed.

After leaving a scathing review, informing readers about the book being ripped off, I contacted Amazon's legal department, and laid out the specific details that had been copied from me.  They replied back with an email that contained this statement:

If, after you have reviewed the complete text of each work, you believe that the book(s) referenced contain text you wrote without your permission, please submit a new notice of copyright infringement including the following:

So I wrote them back, asking if they actually had to "contain text you wrote" for it to be plagiarism.  I'm still waiting for a reply.

If anyone wants to take a look at the books themselves, PM me and I'll tell you which ones they are.

Writers' Cafe / Question about handling payroll for indie authors
« on: March 14, 2014, 07:23:33 pm »
A year ago when I created my LLC, the bank hooked me up with a payroll service that wanted to charge me $45 a month to transfer money between my business account and personal account, and then file all the federal, state, and local tax paperwork and pay the taxes.   At that time I decided that was too much to pay, and skipped it.

Now, I'm looking at it again, and I'm wondering what other authors do.  Do you use these kinds of services?  Or do you have software that does it?  Or is it simple enough to learn to do it myself?  I'm not sure a full-blown payroll service would be cost effective for one employee (me).

Any suggestions?

Writers' Cafe / Made the switch to writing full time
« on: February 26, 2014, 08:26:20 pm »
At the urging of my wife.

When I started writing a few years ago, it was all fun and games.  But suddenly, it's gotten real.

Just thinking about all the things out of my control, and getting a nervous feeling in my stomach.

Writers' Cafe / Oh well it was worth a try
« on: February 24, 2014, 05:14:00 pm »
Maybe some other time.

Writers' Cafe / Saving Mr. Banks
« on: January 12, 2014, 07:16:49 pm »
Saw this movie today, and enjoyed it a lot.  I'm posting this here because the movie deals with issues that concern writers, such as why we write what we write, and giving up control of our creations.

The basic plot has to do with Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) trying to convince P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to sell him the movie rights to Mary Poppins. It contains several very emotional moments, and a great supporting cast.

Check it out if you get the chance.  Should be out on DVD in a few months.

Writers' Cafe / Woohoo! Shortest day of the year!
« on: December 21, 2013, 06:11:21 pm »
From here on out, the days get longer.  Soon we'll be enjoying those balmy summer nights again.  (I can dream, can't I?)

Oh, and to make this writing related so the mods don't move it, do you find it easier to write in the evenings when the sun isn't shining outside?    :)

Writers' Cafe / How do you write numbers in your fiction?
« on: December 13, 2013, 05:32:42 am »
Do you spell out the words, or do you use numbers?  Does it matter if it's dialogue or not?

I tend to spell them out, but there are some instances where that becomes unwieldy.

"I was born in sixty-three."
"I was born in 63."
"I was born in nineteen-sixty-three."
"I was born in 1963."
He was born in nineteen-sixty-three, four years before his brother.
He was born in 1963, 4 years before his brother."

"The meeting is at two-thirty."
"The meeting is at 2:30."
John took the bus from the museum and arrived home at two-thirty, in time to meet his kids at the school bus at three o'clock.
John took the bus from the museum and arrived home at 2:30, in time to meet his kids at the school bus at 3:00.

"I'll be twenty-five next week."
"I'll be 25 next week."
Mary turned twenty-five with little fanfare - not even a birthday cake.
Mary turned 25 with little fanfare - not even a birthday cake.

Sarah picked up the crying six-year-old and held her tightly in her arms.
Sarah picked up the crying 6-year-old and held her tightly in her arms.

"I'm staying in Room one-twenty-seven."
"I'm staying in Room 127."

"My phone number is five-five-five, seven-three-one-two."
"My phone number is 555-7312."

"I'll enter the six-digit code.  What is it?"
"Got it."

"I'll enter the 6-digit code.  What is it?"
"Got it."

"I'm an indie writer and I make ten-thousand dollars a day."
"I'm an indie writer and I make $10,000 a day."
Three years ago, Hugh was an indie writer making ten-thousand dollars a day.
Three years ago, Hugh was an indie writer making $10,000 a day.

"Can you read that GUID back to me?"

Writers' Cafe / Thoughts on the Amazon sample
« on: December 05, 2013, 07:34:00 am »
With the thousands upon thousands of books published on Amazon, how much of a human decision do you think is involved in deciding where the sample ends?  Do you think it's just a programmatical 10% and then find the next end of sentence?  Or do you think someone looks at it and moves the cutoff to a point that's more enticing?

I know the latter seems ridiculous on the face, but, at least with my books, it seems to often cut off at just the right spot.  Anyone else seeing this with their books?

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