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Messages - starkllr

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176
Writers' Cafe / Criminal Law question
« on: June 17, 2015, 07:26:35 am »
I need some info for my current WIP.  A character has been arrested for a hit & run accident while he was driving drunk.  It happens on a Friday night, so he spends the weekend in jail.  Monday morning, he's brought before a judge to be arraigned (this is in New York State).

Now if he pleads not guilty, I know what happens.  A trial date is set, and bail (may be) set, at which point he/his family posts it, and he goes home; or now, and he goes back to jail to await the trial.

But what happens if he pleads either guilty, or No Contest?  Is he sentenced then and there, or is a later date set for the sentencing?  And if so, is there any possibility of bail being set or does he automatically go backto jail to await the sentencing?  Does the distinction of guilty vs. No Contest make a difference in this?



177
Writers' Cafe / Re: Have You Posted to Your Blog Recently?
« on: June 16, 2015, 10:40:29 am »
I set up a page to show off some of my photography...

http://writingdreams.net/?p=3470

and redesigned the whole site, too: http://www.writingdreams.net

178
Writers' Cafe / Re: How do you feel about Amazon returns?
« on: June 16, 2015, 05:29:57 am »
THey bug me, but I try to force myself to be rational and not worry about them, since the numbers are so small.

Still, I guess I just do not understand returning a $0.99 book, because I wouldn't do it myself.  That feels like returning a can of soda because it was flat.  I guess people would do that, too - it just wouldn't occur to me to do it.


179
Writers' Cafe / Re: Anyone Use Night Owl Reviews Advertising?
« on: June 15, 2015, 12:55:49 pm »
I'll be curious to hear any experiences, too.  I get regular emails from them but I've yet to try them.

180
Writers' Cafe / Release Schedule Qs
« on: June 15, 2015, 09:10:37 am »
I know the general sentiment (and my own feeling) is to release a new book as soon as it's ready to go.  But I'm thinking ahead to later in the year, and I'm asking for the wisdom of kboards to weigh in on this.

I'm working on the 10th and final book of my current series.  I've got about 30,000 words written.  Assuming nothing horribly out-of-the-blue happens and based on my usual pace, etc. I'll have a book that's ready to be released around the end of September.  It's possible it could go more quickly, but with work, family and so forth, I can't really depend on that.

Usually, I'd just schedule the release for early October and get working on the next book.  But October is not very far from Christmas - and the Christmas shopping season.  So now I'm wondering, should I hold off on releasing the book until closer to the end of the year, to take advantage of Christmas and seasonal promotional opportunities?  If the answer to that is "yes," when would be the best time?  Right before Thanksgiving?  Right after?  Mid-December, 2 weeks or so before Christmas?

If I thought I could have another book ready by the end of the year, then I'd just release the series-ender in October and use the new book as my Christmas-season launch.  But I don't know if I can do it in time.  I've got 15,000 words of what I hope will be the first book of a new series, but progress has been painfully slow on it.  I'm hoping that once my current series is finished, my characters will move out from the space they've set up in my brain and allow someone new to take up residence.

181
Writers' Cafe / Re: Author Website
« on: June 12, 2015, 12:04:46 pm »
I had my blog as the landing page, but I've recently changed it.  I think it's a LOT better now:

http://www.writingdreams.net

182
My current series is written in first person present, and it's just the right fit for that story and that character - the first book was originally written in third person, and it just didn't work nearly as well.

The biggest difficulty I have is in plotting and conveying information I want/need the reader to have, when my MC has no way of knowing it at the time.  But, at least for these books, it's worth dealing with that issue and the headaches it causes me, to get the desired effect and tell the story the way it wants to be told.

183
Writers' Cafe / Re: My WordPress Blog was Hacked
« on: June 02, 2015, 11:30:52 am »
Most of these types of attacks don't involve someone cracking your password. Usually it's a vulnerability with the server. For instance, if Functions.php was created from a Web interface, who owns it? And what are the permissions set at?

If the httpd (server) owns it, then someone may be able to manipulate the server into writing to it.

I'd been thinking about migrating to Wordpress, but the more I look at it, the more problematic it seems. There are just so many moving parts. The WP software is updated (constantly) by one group, the theme software by someone else.... And with so many millions of sites using it, there's a big incentive in finding vulnerabilities.

From what I read while trying to figure out the problem, I did see that there haven been attacks on webhosts (including the company that ultimately hosts my site which is owned by GoDaddy), and that some of the attacks impacted WordPress installations.  I think that's likely how it happened to me.

184
Writers' Cafe / My WordPress Blog was Hacked
« on: June 02, 2015, 09:30:58 am »
Posting this as a heads-up to anybody else using a WordPress blog...

So a bit of malicious code somehow got inserted on my website.  What it did was to add in spam links like "hydrocodone viagra" and so forth (and some links that were nastier than that, too) that would show up on posts but be hidden in the header section of the site (and campflauged with a font color that made them really hard to see, especially if you didn't know to be looking for them).

I only discovered the problem because I use Feedburner & Hootsuite to send out tweets for each new blog post.  So Sunday morning, when the tweet went out for a guest post promoting a clean romance book, right there in the tweet was an offsnsive and obscene link.  Ugh.

It took most of the day to figure out where the problem was.  I initially thought it was the guest post itself, but that was clean.  Then I figured it must be somewhere on the Feedburner end.  But it wasn't.  It was hidden on my site.  The code turned out to be in the Functions.php file within the Theme folder of my WP installation (I'm using the Graphene theme).  I finally discovered it by downloading the WordFence plugin, which found the malicious code right away.  I was able to switch themes and reinstall Graphene, without the added nasty code, so problem (hopefully) solved.

Hopefully this might be of use to someone else here...

One other note - I'm hosting the site on my own domain, not on WordPress.com.  I'm told you can't use plugins on free WordPress.com blogs, so I'm not sure what the solution would be if this problem happens on one of those. 

185
Writers' Cafe / Re: Have you published anything this month?
« on: May 28, 2015, 05:37:25 am »
I published book #9 in my Dream Series last Friday.

186
Writers' Cafe / Re: Tips for getting into Bookbub?
« on: May 16, 2015, 05:57:59 am »
I'm going nuts trying to figure out why BB won't look at me after I had two successful promos with them (one in December, one in February). 

I did my perma-free book one in December ahd had over 40,000 downloads in Supernatural Suspense.  Then they accepted the box set with books 1-3 (normally $4.99) at $0.99, and I had 1,300 or so sales in the same category.  Both results were on the high end of the range they give for expected results.

Since then, crickets.  I've submitted every one of the latter books in the series (regular price $3.99) at $0.99.  I tried the five book box set (usually $5.99) at $0.99.  And now I submitted one of the later books at free, and still a rejection.  On every submission, I'm completely flexible on dates, as well as category.

I mean, if I have books that they liked enough to accept just a few months go, and they did really well according to BB's own expectations, and I'm totally flexible in every respect, what more can I to do to get them to look at me again?

187
I'm seeing something weird with my series.  On the KDP dashboard, I've put in "J.J. DiBenedetto's Dream Series" as the series name for all the books, and for a while, that's what would show up on each books' product page in the details under Series.  But now it's just showing "Dreams Series" which, when I click it, brings up a huge list of books and mine are nowhere near the top of it.

I emailed KDP, we'll see what response I get, if any, about that.

188
Writers' Cafe / Re: Not Dystopian, But Utopian!
« on: April 30, 2015, 06:07:48 am »
Iain M. Banks's Culture novels are utopian science fiction.

He solved the "utopia is boring" problem mostly by having his stories involve conflicts from outside the Culture. Most books were about agents from the Culture trying to intervene in some outside society's problems.

Basically, the Culture is a nice place with very few downsides. The biggest problem seems to be boredom and a lack of purpose, but few people get that badly, and the ones who do usually join the Culture's "Contact" division to make the rest of the universe a better place.

Meanwhile, the books spend a lot of time examining just how hard social engineering really is, especially when governments outside the Culture have a vested interest in keeping people oppressed. The series isn't full of happy-go-lucky funtimes, and can get pretty grim at times, but the Culture itself is rarely threatened. Mostly, it's about the characters who get caught up in the radical social change that happens when the Culture shows up.

(Incidentally, I wouldn't recommend starting with the first book, Consider Phlebas. It's really different from the rest of the series, and the books are all standalone anyway. If you're okay with a book about political maneuvering via sacred board games, I think Player of Games is probably the best starting point.)

I was going to mention this, but you beat me to it!  I agree on Player of Games as a good starting point, too (although the first Banks novel I read was actually Excession.

189
If you haven't checked it out yet, DREAM CHILD is on sale on Amazon today for just $0.99!

http://getbook.at/DreamChild

190
Can you inject drugs into your eye?

And I'm not going to sleep well tonight now...

Let's see, my weird research:
Anatomy class lesson plans and details of dissection procedure, medical uses of thallium, mees lines, booking procedures for the Arlington County Jail, what medals a West Point cadet can be awarded, the most common household items small children swallow, the ten worst snowstorms in New York City history, the Museum of the History of Medicine in Paris, treatments for pesticide poisoning.

191
What about referring to other works of fiction as fiction that exists in the world of your novel?  In one of my books, I have the heroine talk about reading "The Hobbit" to her kids at bedtime.  Is something like this OK?

Quote
My improved mood lasts through dinner, playtime with the kids and the nightly installment of “The Hobbit.”  Tonight is a very exciting chapter, and the twins are especially thrilled when it ends with Smaug the dragon being killed.  I’m confused, though, when Brian sets down the book.  I see that there’s still quite a bit to go, but what else can happen?  They killed the dragon, what’s left to do?


192
Are you still looking for any more authors?  I've got a book that I think would be a great fit for it (book #2 of my Dream Series - it can stand alone very well)

193
Question for the experts who've responded:  The OP states that the accident is discovered in the morning.  If the crash happened during the night, would blood/urine tests still be relevant?  I'm sure the tests would still be performed, but I'm wondering if the passage of time would make the results questionable at best.  (Assuming that the authorities can determine when the crash actually occurred, which might or might not be evidenced by time of death of the passenger.  Gone are the Perry Mason days when a clock would get broken, conveniently capturing the time of the incident.  8)  Unless the vic happens to be wearing an actual watch....   ::) )

I was wondering this, too, actually, but I didn't want to ask too many questions at once!  I know some drugs stay in one's system for hours or days, but would blood or urine tests be able to determine an accurate BAC 6-8 hours after the person finished drinking?

195
I'm working out the plot for the next book, and I'm hoping someone here can help me with some information on how the police investigate the scene of a fatal car crash.

The scenario is, a one-car accident, a crash into a telephone pole on a sparsely-driven road late at night.  It's not discovered until the morning, and the police arrive to find a hungover but otherwise uninjured man just waking up in the driver's seat, and another man in the passenger seat who's dead due to injuries from the wreck.  The presumed driver doesn't remember much, but when he takes a look around him, he takes responsibility for the accident and says he must have been driving. 

So at this point, what steps do the police take? 

Do they do a full forensic investigation of the crash, to determine when it happened, what speed, and any other things that could be figured out? 

Do they try in any way to confirm that the man they found behind the wheel really was driving at the time of the crash?  Besides questioning him, is there anything else that COULD realistically be done to tell that? 

Would an autopsy be performed on the pasenger?

The premise of the story is that the man behind the wheel actually wasn't driving.  The man in the passenger seat (his brother-in-law) was, and he came upon the accident scene after having a fight with his sister (b-i-l's wife) and having had a couple of drinks.  Realizing b-i-l is dead, and not having any idea how he's going to break the news to sister, and already buzzed from drinking earlier, he finds a bottle of vodka in the backseat, drains it, and that's the last thing he remembers.  So when the police show up and he's behind the wheel and can't remember anything, he assumes he was driving, and admits as much to the police.  It's not until after he's been in jail a few days that he begins to piece together his memories of what really happened.

196
Writers' Cafe / Re: Have You Posted to Your Blog Recently?
« on: April 10, 2015, 09:41:00 am »
Posting about a movie that I can't figure out why I liked...

http://writingdreams.net/?p=3168

197
Writers' Cafe / Re: Order of books on Amazon Author Page?
« on: April 07, 2015, 03:51:18 am »
So if you don't have a print version at all, it gets shoved to the bottom of the list (or to page 2, etc)?

198
Writers' Cafe / Order of books on Amazon Author Page?
« on: April 07, 2015, 03:27:52 am »
Is there any way to control the order your books are displayed in on your Amazon Author page?

I've looked, and maybe I'm missing something obvious, but I don't see any way in Author Central to adjust it. Does anyone know how to do it?  Or is it totally driven by Amazon's algorithims?

199
Writers' Cafe / Re: Jane Austen blurb
« on: April 03, 2015, 06:58:16 am »
I don't know much about blurb writing...but as a reader I don't read long blurbs.  I have to say, the first paragraph is pretty much enough to hook me....

I agree with Betsy.  I think the first paragraph would work just on it's own as the complete blurb.

200
Writers' Cafe / Re: Have You Posted to Your Blog Recently?
« on: April 01, 2015, 06:57:01 am »
Posted about casting my books for the day when Hollywood comes calling...

http://writingdreams.net/?p=3127

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