book promotion, book reviews, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Time To Choose

chooseWe have had many suggested titles for our new section, wherein we allow authors, editors, publishers and professional members of the writing community at large to recommend books. There are three common threads running through the titles suggested here and on Facebook: people like clarity, catchy and enthusiasm.
For pure clarity, it’s hard to beat “Recommended Reading.”
While “Peer Picks” is short and catchy.
And “I Love This Book” is highly enthusiastic.

So, which of the three will communicate best with the widest possible audience? They’re all good.

Last chance, pick one:
1. Recommended Reading
2. Peer Picks
3. I Love This Book

Please vote in the comments section. And, thank you all for your great suggestions!
(For the record, I liked “Hey, Good Bookin'” for the grins 🙂 but it didn’t make the final cut.)

book promotion, book reviews, book sales, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Name This!

Cool LukeWhat we have here is failure to communicate. The word “Review” communicates negative reactions to many authors. Not the least of which is the certainty that all reviews cannot be good reviews. True, that. So, after listening to the gnawback, it’s obvious that we need a better name for our new section than, “Peer Reviews.”

We need a name that says here are books well received by the authors’ peers. The purpose of the new section is to have a place for recommendations by other authors, editors, publishers and professional members of the writing community at large.

The following names have been suggested, but please use the comments section to add more names.

Books We Like
I Like This Book
I Love This Book
Insider Picks
Peers’ Picks
Recommended Reading

What’s your suggestion?


So Ewe Wants to Rite da Book?

Corey Bradshaw - tentacles-of-destruction

Corey Bradshaw – Tentacles of Destruction

Due to the emergence of self publishing there has been a rise in people who maintain a series of beliefs which, heretofore, would have been considered untenable. I mean they would have gotten someone laughed out of a junior high English class. These people believe, and foist proof of those malignable beliefs on us at every opportunity, there are no rules. That all writing is valid if the author claims it is. That all petunias are squids if they say so. To those of you who ignore grammar, punctuation, structure, coherent plotting, logical thought, or other silly fads of the past, I have one simple thing to say to you… STOP! Just stop. Stop writing, stop wasting Create Space’s server space, stop wasting our time. Just come to a full halt and then step to the side. Because I know what’s coming.

I was in the music industry for many years and saw what happened at i-Tunes and CD Baby. When those services went live anyone with a digital recording device and some free time could call themselves a musician. Within five years each company had built in restrictions, and limitations, to weed out the hobbyists. And, let’s be honest, most of the self published stuff is done by people as a hobby. Very few put in the years learning to write, experiencing rejection, or being crucified by their, oh so cruel yet supportive, peers. They just bundle up their Word Doc, or Open Office thing, and hit send.

Self published comics used to have a shot at being distributed by Diamond, the company with the monopoly on U.S. comic book distribution but, thanks to the wealth of “great ideas” matched with poor execution, now face a labyrinth of restrictions and fees. In Diamond’s case, if you don’t have a minimum of $2,500 per release available for promotion, don’t even bother ringing their doorbell.

Before you tell me I’m being a curmudgeon, and hating on you fun loving literary iconoclasts, know that Create Space has already dropped all support services for self published authors. The last marketing article they published is over a year old, the rest are almost three years old and no longer valid, except in the abstract. Within two years they will have enough barriers in place to stem the flood of drivel and then they can begin sifting for gems.

To be clear, Create Space will continue to exist. If you want to publish your book, and buy copies for your friends and family, nothing will stop you. But your path to a wider readership will be greatly narrowed. If you haven’t been already you will be encouraged to join KDP Select, until you have no choice, which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. However, this will keep you out of many other markets. This will allow Amazon, and the rest, to develop a self publishing ghetto.

Oh, I know, this doesn’t pertain to you. You are a serious practitioner of your craft. You’ve seen two or three memes and your mom thinks you’re the bee’s knees. Plus, and this is the super really important part, you have a story you never saw in any of those memes.

Since you don’t know me, and probably wouldn’t like me anyway, allow me to crush your silly dreams.

Writing, like neurosurgery, is a craft. You don’t want some wanna-be brain surgeon, who just saw something on YouTube they think they can handle, operating on your loved one. The same, minus the life threatening implications, applies to writing.

It requires years of study and practice. If you think Strunk and White is a rap group, you should not pretend to be a writer. If you think On Writing follows On Dancer, On Dasher, et al, you should not pretend to be a writer. If you think a subjunctive clause is an alien Santa, you should not pretend to be a writer. If you think a dangling participle is something on a stripper’s outfit, you should not pretend to be a writer.

I could go on but, by now, you’re either laughing your ass off or pissed at me. If the former, congrats, you can write. Or, at the very least, read constructively.

You see, what happens is, the flotsam and jetsam of drek clogs up the pathways and prevents readers from being able to find works worthy of their attention. To that end Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and others, are tweaking their search engines. As Create Space has less and less influence over the next couple of years you’ll see self published books eased out of rankings, search results, and so on. Publishers, even if they’re just indies, will be given preference, just like they are in the music and comic book industries.

It’s simple economics. When something has a failure rate of nearly ninety-five percent the market adjusts. Vanity presses might seem like a viable resource for some, but they come with their own baggage. Often they buy reviews, inflate social media numbers, and are generally shunned by distributors, both digital and traditional. Worse, they tend to hand out meaningless awards, for a fee, to inflate an author’s ego and confuse the market.

Please note, there are a couple of vanity presses tied to traditional publishing companies. They exist to make money and, if something catches the eye of an editor, present new authors to the parent company when their book released. It’s still going to cost you, but at least they’re honest about what they do and what your chances are. Slim is a word heard often. Also, they don’t flood the market with crap posts and fake links.

Since I can already hear the “They’re out to screw the little guys” chants allow me to rebut them here. No, they’re not. Self published authors screwed themselves. Badly and without lube. The plethora of drivel dumped out each day is whelming, to say the least.

While there are self published authors who release high quality stuff, and generate sales from same, they are the minority. And, good news for them, there are safeguards already in place to ensure they don’t get caught up in the swirling cesspool that will soon drag many into blissful oblivion. Those in the minority already receive email updates from Amazon, et al, explaining the future so I need not go into them here. If you haven’t gotten such a missive, well, I hope you know how to swim.

For the rest they will be required to treat writing like the business it is. Have a plan, a marketing budget, clear sales parameters, and a professional package to present the world. In other words, treat the product of your craft with respect and your potential readers with the esteem they deserve.

If you must have a hobby that wastes everyone’s time, and your money, CLICK HERE to accomplish all your goals.

book reviews

A Steampunk Christmas Carol: The Dracosinum Tales

AngeliqueDickens’ A Christmas Carol has been bunged through the remake blender so many times that it’s difficult to imagine anything new attached to it. Yet Angelique Anderson has come up with a fun, and refreshing take on the mythos. We are introduced to a woman named Wylie at the beginning. She’s a Teselym dragon tasked with bringing balance to the world. At least at night. During the day she’s human. It’s clear, early on, she’s not one hundred percent pleased with her existence. But she handles her duties expertly and becomes our avenue into a fascinating universe.

At the center of that universe is Professor Langford.  Like Scrooge before him he’s a despicable human.  Anderson goes out of her way to drive that point home when he’s visited by the first Immortal, a stand in for the ghosts of lore. The professor has abandoned his mother and sisters, leaving them to a life of abject poverty, after he’s stolen money from their business, fired the only honest help they had, and then went on to corrupt an honest man leaving him to be doomed for all eternity to be a Siapheg dragon; a creature that encourages evil in the hearts of men.

This guy is seriously warped. He values money, and power, so highly that he’s prepared to cut the wages of his staff before Christmas, just because, and steal the invention of his best employee and present it as his own. In his personal ethos a Thunderdome-like atmosphere in the work place is desirable. Those who are weak, in his view, will quit and those are strong, or desperate, will stay.

Really, he’s not a nice guy.

If you know Dickens’ original you have a pretty good idea of how this all plays out. Which is fine. In Anderson’s universe the characters are rich, the Immortals are flawed and fascinating, and the clockwork dragons are interwoven flawlessly into the narrative.

Anderson’s universe is wonderfully textured and clearly presented. This is an ideal book to share with your family or enjoy by yourself on a cold, winter’s, night.


book reviews, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Peer Review Page


whispersWhat People Think
Our “proto-work-in-progress” page is up. I posted, on Facebook, a link & invite to comment on the concept. Many think it’s a great idea, some want to contribute now, others are clearly confused by my use of the word “review” and one has a fantastic idea for anyone selling books on Amazon. Here’s a sampling of the initial reaction to the concept.

Sharon Sasaki: I think it would be good if writers review other writers with some kindness and encouragement in mind. Sometimes authors can be extremely critical of other authors.

Bill McCormick: I have a set of reviews I’ve already done that could easily be retrofitted into your format. Would you like those?
(Added as author for posting reviews.)

Mike Van Horn: Seems like a great idea in principle. But I have problems with reviewing books of people I know. What if I review your book and I don’t like it? I don’t think it merits 5 stars? Maybe 3. What if I review your book and I find typos and other glitches? All too common with self-pubs. I have an inner English teacher, and she grades down for these things. I told somebody on the Sci Fi forum yesterday she needs to hire a copy editor. Some people need critiques before they get reviews.

Carlos Morales: And make sure you sign up to be an affiliate, and use affiliate links. There isn’t much money in it, but it’s like playing the lottery. There’s a tiny chance that someone clicks on the book, then decides to buy a $900 computer with their next couple of clicks. If that happens, you pull a decent commission.
It’s happened to me once or twice. Someone bought a $175 tent, and another one bought a laptop for $600 in the same couple of hours during one of my Bargain Promos. It was a good day for revenue.

Thanks all, for the great feedback! As these samples are from a mere 24-hour posting, I think we have a concept worth pursuing. But if we want the writing community to contribute reviews of books they recommend, we may need to re-think our title for the section. Some in the community have been bitten by a “peer review” and many rightfully expect reviews to be negative as well as positive.
We will get more reviews of books recommended by the writing community if we are very clear that is what we are looking for.

Any suggestions for a better title than, “Peer Review?”

About Writers, blogging, inspiration, Research, Stories, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op, writing technique

Steep and Roll

songwriting 2This is a concept that I am gradually beginning to understand how to use. A friend once critiqued my first novel with:

“There’s so much great stuff in there it needs to slow its roll and steep a little, meaning take longer to explain things and have a nice build up.”
– Chris Gabriel, song writer

Chris explained it as a technique that professional song writers use. It made me wonder how many other song writing techniques could apply to story writing. So, I researched song writing advice and found dozens of tips. Here’s the top 6.

1. Practice. Like any other creative process such as playing guitar or programming synth sounds, lyric-writing is a skill that can be learnt and improved upon.

2. Don’t be disheartened if your lyrics aren’t perfect on the first draft. Many professional writers will rewrite a song’s lyrics dozens of times before they make it onto record.

3. Persevere. More often than not, songs aren’t born, they’re created and sculpted. Don’t expect a song to arrive fully formed; they sometimes take time and you’ll need to work at it.

4. If you can’t quite figure out how to say what you want within a particular line, jot down the gist of it and move on to another part of the song – you can come back to it later. That way, you won’t spend hours wrestling with one small line that might turn out to be insignificant in the wider context of the song.

5. Try to have a clear idea of what the song is about. You should be able to sum up the essence of the song in one sentence.

6. Analyze other songs. Try to pick out the differences in lyrics between your favorite songs and your own and apply any lyrical techniques you learn to your own work.

I think we story writers can learn a lot from song writers. Oh and, if anyone has insight into “Steep and Roll,” please post it in the comments?




My Pied Piper episode is coming in fits and starts, but it’s coming. Finally. It’s half, maybe more than half written, and when it’s done, book three of Sly will be about three quarters done. (I actually had the remainder all written but my thinking has changed radically in the last fifteen years.)

And so, with my novella essentially complete, book three near to it, I have a pair of bookends to a four volume series.

Who here considers himself to be a disciplined writer? Do you put in a set number of hours a day? Someone (someone famous) said his method of writing was: apply butt to chair and write. That may work for you, it doesn’t work for me. I’d be writing crap.

My style is – I think we all know it – style heavy. And I surf from one sentence or thought to the next. I’m not getting events down, to be cleaned up later. I do that sort of thing in fragments below the finished text. I drop down and plunder my notes as the spirit moves me. My file presently contains 95 pages, three quarters of which are my haphazard notes, and research material copied from around the web – in this book heavy on John Dee – waiting to be rummaged through. This mish-mash is as close as I come to an outline.

Bookends: I am going to publish my novella first, and immediately thereafter, to publish book three, the wrap-up. I will tack a synopsis of books one and two onto the novella.

I am moved to go this route partly by the announcement of the demise of Bookkus, all those high hopes! Heartbreaking! And partly by seeing the difficulty everyone is having gaining traction in the marketplace road race. I am ready to throw caution (and, probably, good sense) to the winds.

My attitude now is, to coin a phrase: Just Do It. The faults in my book are baked into it. No amount of polishing is going to change that; they are the essence of my storytelling. Every one of us has to stake a claim to a piece of literary real estate, and my flag is planted on ‘Whatever’.

A friend (not a writer) is reading my new material as I go, and says, and says, and says: you sure have a lot of story here. She means it in a positive way. She loves it. Others will say the same thing and it will be a criticism.

I do have a lot of story. One idea leads to the next. I expand and expand. A question occurs to me and I want to know the answer. If it turns out to be counterproductive to my goal I dump it, but frankly, this rarely happen. I almost always see value, for the next chapter, or fifteen chapters on, or way back in book one. Nothing goes to waste. My abundant hypotheses find themselves a home in some way, shape or form. Sooner or later. For better or worse. For richer or poorer/my bet is poorer. Till death do us part. I’m married to my monster. I’ll be adding to my silliness on the day I die.

How does the song go? Old friends, old friends, sat on their park bench like bookends. This story and me, we are old friends.

On one end of my park bench sits my novella. On the other end, book three, the wrap-up of my essentially endless adventure. Can’t recall the exact title right now, isn’t that terrible? I’m losing my grip. (Maybe I lost it long ago.)

I’m in the middle. Here I am on the bench, on the Group W Bench (W for Wacky/love Arlo, will love him forever) . . . back to S&G:

. . . old men (in this case an old woman) waiting for the sun . . . The sounds of the city sifting through trees settles like dust on the shoulders of the old friends.

Me and this old friend of mine, we’re going down together.

blogging, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op


guest blogsThe WritersCo-op welcomes blogs from those in the writing community, be they authors, publishers, editors, agents, cover & illustration artists, PAs, marketers, etc. We will not publish book promotions save for those of a member’s new release. But, we are interested in just about any blog that interests writers.

Submit your blog, or link to your blog, to GD<at>Deckard<dot>com.

For an idea of what we look for, scroll down past this notice, or click the ARCHIVES button at the top of this page. But don’t let what we’ve done suggest limits. We are always open to fresh ideas.

Writers Co-op Anthology


CurtisCurtis Bausse, author of the Magali Rousseau mystery series, will be publishing the anthology from the Writers Co-op. Curtis is the publisher of the annual Book A Break anthology series that has attracted short story writers from around the world for the last three years.

This year, Curtis invites short stories for the first anthology to be published by the Writers’ Co-op. No theme is set but stories should broadly fit into the genre ‘weird’ – to be interpreted as you wish.

More details at: