blogging, Research, Uncategorized, world-building, Writers Co-op

Being There

Seeing something helps a writer to describe it. Actually being in a setting lets the words choose themselves. Take the inside of the International Space Station, for example, one of the most advanced miracles of modern technology to have ever been built by mankind. It’s a mess. The room I’m in now is maybe 20 feet wide by 20 feet high by, maybe, a little longer. The white and grey walls are totally covered with color-coded cables, cases, boxes and storage packs. And there are wall panels that slide out like file cabinet drawers to allow access to the experiments being conducted inside. Not a spec of space is wasted on the four walls. You can’t walk on any of them. No floors needed here. Just float between the walls. I guess that explains the four laptop computers fixed at impossible angles. No up or down. Just float over and use one. The panel sections lining the walls are marked by metal strips to which, as astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, of the European Space Agency, showed me, she can attach shower safety hand bars (OKAY, she called them something else.) She uses the bars to hold onto when she’s working. She can also slip her stocking feet (no shoes needed here) under the bar to hold herself in place while she completes an appointed task. Or, attach a camera like the one giving me this inside view.

Yes. It’s virtual reality. But how else am I getting aboard the ISS to see what kind of socks astronauts wear? Or watch the sun rise over the rooftops of London, from a rooftop in London, and turn to see the The Shard sticking up a thousand feet into the sky? Or stand among Parisians in a little park and be the only one rubbernecking the Eiffel Tower towering above me? All without leaving my writing desk.

The little tripper lets you describe settings by putting you inside them. It’s cheap. A $20 viewer will let you use your cell phone to watch YouTube 360 videos of just about any place people can get to today. I recommend virtual reality to any writer without a twenty million dollar travel budget for a ticket to the space station.

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About Writers, book promotion, book sales, publishing, Research, self-publishing, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

WRITING TRENDS

INDIE AUTHORS
Indie authors will continue to grow ebook share. Traditional publishers will continue to price their ebooks above market and will focus on print and audio sales in 2018. They will also continue to focus on their go-to franchises and signing authors who have a built-in audience (celebrities, politicians, successful indies). Indies will continue to fill the void by publishing high-quality, affordable ebooks and writing to niche audiences (something blockbusters cannot do as they require mass appeal). Bestselling romance author, Rachel Van Dyken says, “2018 is bound to be a year for books and a year for readers! Trends come and go but one thing I see coming back in a huge way is sci-fi and fantasy romance. Contemporary will always do well but I think readers are starting to get overwhelmed with the same old rom com with the similar fonts, colors, and titles. I say bring on the other genres—a great palette cleanser for 2018.” As authors like Rachel continue to stay ahead of the curve by innovating on content and design, and become ever more sophisticated at book publishing, readers will continue to shift ebook market share to indies. [Ricci, Written Word Media]
https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/2018/01/08/publishing-trends-indie-publishing/

SOCIAL MEDIA Relevancy
Social media has become the main source of information for everyone. It is logical that people tend to filter content relevant to them in these platforms and ignore junks. Current authors should learn how to utilize social media smartly to leverage the power of these media. For example, setting up a high profile where their target audience is many to capture majority while they interact with the platforms. For instance, if you are doing public relation for a company, you need to build trust and address customers’ concerns to avoid being flagged as a scam in Facebook, Linkedin and Google Plus among others.
https://www.topteny.com/top-trends-for-writing-in-2018/

SHORTER BOOKS
While longer books will never go away, shorter, focused content or short stories will pave the way for big new sales numbers in 2018. So what’s the average length of a short book or novella? Twenty-seven thousand words (give or take) or fifty pages. Book strategists insist that the reason these books take off is because, in the case of fiction, readers sometimes just like that quick story, with an uncomplicated plot and a quick reward at the end. In the case of non-fiction it’s generally very focused content.
https://www.amarketingexpert.com/18-exciting-book-marketing-predictions-for-2018/

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blogging, inspiration, Research, Stories, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Story Fodder (Writers Musings)

How will we identify criminal A.I.? It is all programming and easily changeable. “Nope. I never even thought that. Nothing to see here.”

Cell phones record your fingerprints. That is a positive ID across platforms. Does the NSA capture our fingerprints from our phones?

Voices. “I wonder what they’re saying when I’m sleeping?”

When we awaken, the real world floods in and the world of dreams fade. Just like the real world fades when we dream. Could both worlds be real?

Unreasonable urges: “I must teach my cat to play the piano.”

During the Roman Empire, the Palace Guard often chose the next emperor. Recent reports suggest that our intelligent intelligence community interferes in our presidential elections. Hmmm.

My neighbor just informed me that the Soviet Union beat the US to the Moon… but their cosmonauts never got home.

I read the news again today, oh boy. China’s launching robotic military submarines. Imagine that A.I. going rogue.
Drudge Report links to an article about “Mysterious creatures frozen for MILLENNIA holding lost secrets of past…”
The UK Daily Star headlines, “Sex robot human CLONES: Chinese firm using 3D printers to scan and make replicas of REAL PEOPLE.”
Newspapers print these articles as bait. They know many many people will read them.
The market for such stories already exists.
Hmmm.

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About Writers, book promotion, inspiration, reading, Research, Uncategorized

Building the Legend

One SheetG.D. Deckard, the fun loving maniac, asked me to write a post about Legends Parallel. That’s a comic book I write, in case you didn’t know. And I will. But first, since this is a blog, I’d like to start with a story.

On June 13th I was at a meeting for the stakeholders in Chicago’s upcoming Juneteenth event. Juneteenth, a/k/a June 19th, is the anniversary of when slaves in Texas finally found out they were free. Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation became law. It’s a big deal in urban areas. The mayor will be there along with other luminaries. And me. I’ll be there promoting my web design business and selling copies of Legends Parallel. Which led to the following fun moment in my life.

Joan Hollingsworth, a force of nature and head of the committee, announced I would be there selling “adult comics.” She made that pronouncement because this comic series is rated “M for Mature.” It gets that rating due to language, sexual activity, violence, use of college level science, and some seriously adult themes. It hits racism and class warfare pretty hard and the LGBTQ community is represented throughout. Combined, it’s not for kids. But, it’s also not porn. After a brief explanation of the ratings we all had a good laugh and went back to work.

The elevator pitches for Legends Parallel vary based on the audience I’m facing. If it’s a general audience I go with “A man, his mom, and her lover, have to save the world. No one said this shit would be easy.” If I’m around college kids, or in a library, I run with “Just in case you thought quantum physics wasn’t violent, or sexy, enough, we fixed that.”

We use them both online.

Back in 2016 Brian Daniel, owner of Hadithi Sambamaba the company that publishes Legends Parallel,  reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in taking a series of unrelated characters and writing them all into a single story. And, boy howdy, were they unrelated. There were, also, about forty of them. Far too many for anything coherent. After a lot of back and forth we settled on a few characters and a basic story.

I began writing. I wrote words, used punctuation, checked my grammar, declared them all worthy, and sent my efforts to Dorphise Jean, author of Spirit’s Destiny and editor for Hadithi Sambamba. She sent them back, shredded and bloody. You see, I’d written a decent script for a movie, or TV show, but not for a comic. The skills are almost diametrically opposed to each other.

She took pity on the idiot she’d been handed and sent me several examples of properly formatted scripts.

A sample example of my errors. You can write “Bob walks to the window” in a movie script. But that makes no sense in a comic. There are too many ways the artist can interpret the instructions, which leads to confusion. So, instead, you need something like this; “Bob, mid motion, walking towards the open window, P.O.V. from behind Bob, the visible light in the window reveals that it’s dusk outside, there are curtains gently blowing.” This is after you have already set the scene by describing the room, in detail, what Bob is wearing, in detail, and so on.

I learned a lot.

I recommend any writer take a shot at writing a comic book script. Even if it never sees the light of day, they will learn a lot about how to set, and relate, a scene.

Back to Legends Parallel.

After the scripts I wrote passed muster for Dorphise Brian began assembling a team. Sherry Vanilla Hardy, owner of V.Yi.P. modeling agency, arranged for some of her models to be used as the basis for the characters. That was important since the artist, Leslie Tejlor, lives in Hungary and wasn’t well versed in drawing black people.  There aren’t many, as in almost zero, there for him to use for reference. Alexander Malyshev, the artist who is famous for his work on the Russian movie series “Guardians,” did the covers.

By late May the first issue was off to the printer.

I built a basic website and we started sending out copies, digitally and on paper stock, for review.

And we waited. And prayed. And drank. Sometimes contemporaneously.

And reviews started coming in. Good ones. From podcasts, well known blogs, and other creators.

As time went on we upgraded our website, released issue #2, signed a national distribution, and IP development, deal with Nerdanatix, and began finding fans. Lots of them.

Legends Parallel isn’t an easy story to wrap your head around initially. It tells the story of Tom Hill, billionaire inventor who inherited a super suit, and multi-national company, from his dad. His dad’s dead at the beginning of the book but his memory lingers on. One of the things his company has discovered is that the multiverse, first posited by Hugh Everett III in the 1950’s, is real and there are five earths which support human life. This discovery is the underlying premise for the whole series. Each earth has its own stories, its own legends, and they are eventually doomed to collide. Tom and, the only person he truly trusts outside his family, Arumar Singh, try and keep everything controlled.

If that worked I wouldn’t have a story, so you know that much now.

Tom’s mom, Sage Hill, wore the suit and used it to fight crime but, now, she’s in her 50’s and getting too old for that kind of lifestyle. Alicia Yang, Sage’s assistant and lover, knows all the family secrets and is a force to be reckoned with all on her own.

Lastly there’s Stacy Lord, a powerful metahuman (a new breed of human that has been appearing more often lately) who Tom keeps calling Sassy, which becomes an ongoing joke in the series. There are a couple more people on the “good guys’ side” but these give you a basic idea.

On the other side are Oshun, a beautiful assassin and thief who is a mistress of toxins. Her henchman Bes, a metahuman dwarf with a twisted sense of humor. Jack of Spades, a charismatic killer who has a windsock for a moral compass. And Ms. Vin. An ancient metahuman who’s back story plays out over the series.  All she wants to do is rule everything and kill anyone who opposes her. Oh, and she controls a device, called the Gorgon’s Gate, which allows her to visit any of the five earths at will.

You kind of have to pay attention as you read or you’ll get hopelessly lost. Yet another reason it earned an “M” rating.

Issue #3 is in the capable hands of Leslie and we’ll be doing a Kickstarter for issue #4 just so we can get fans some of the cool stuff we’ve been hoarding.

If you want to know more just head over to our website and have fun. There’s neat stuff you can buy, links to the comics, and tidbits about everyone involved. Consider it your one stop shopping mall for all things related to Legends Parallel.

This has been an amazing amount of work but it has led to me working on numerous other titles, and meeting some incredibly talented creators from all over the world. On my Twitter page I say that I have an odd past and an unknown future. All true and I wouldn’t trade it for any of the worlds I’ve discovered.

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About Writers, book promotion, book sales, Research, self-publishing, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Kindle Unlimited

That is, is it worth it to the Author?
Kindle Unlimited (KU) is a subscription service. With Kindle Unlimited, customers can read as many books as they like and keep them as long as they want for a monthly subscription fee.

Author Jon Cronshaw recently asked the question, “Is there anything (beyond the usual wide versus KU debate) that makes wide or KU better?

Author Brian Meeks responded, “That’s a really good question. I’m not sure I can speak to your genre, but I do have some thoughts.

Over the last six months, I’ve noticed something. The conversions I track across all 5 genres in which I write, have changed. It used to be about 50% sales and 50% KU downloads. That’s not the case anymore. The shift has been toward KU.

My data shows 40% sales and 60% KU downloads. This tells me that more people are joining KU and enjoying it like we all do with Netflix. It also makes me think the shift will continue.

There’s one other point that often doesn’t get mentioned. It’s that the MOST voracious readers, naturally, gravitate toward KU.

I hope these thoughts will help you a bit. Good luck.”

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inspiration, Research, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Research Tool: Oculus Go

Oculus Go 2It’s here. $199 takes you into virtual worlds for startlingly up-close research. Float in the Orion Nebula and watch a star being born thanks to NASA’s Hubble Telescope. Look at the world of the 1800s through sepia stereoscope photos. Stand in the streets of major cities and gawk like a tourist.

Oculus Go* is a standalone, portable headset. You don’t need to buy anything else. The world wants to immerse you in free virtual reality. NASA, Nations, the Vatican, NGOs, foundations, zoos, theme parks, the BBC, Al Jazeera, the New York Times, Fox News Live, etc. all benefit from placing you right smack in the middle of what they have to offer. Did I say theme parks? If you haven’t yet, do ride the roller coasters <wicked grin>.

One free app, AltspaceVR, even allows you to set up book launches that can be attended by people from around the world.

This is all new to me as the gadget came on the market just last week. But before I write a scene now, I’m asking myself, can I find that place and go there for inspiration? Or for accuracy? No one needs to write a scene that takes place on the International Space Station without first having been inside it. If you’re not an astronaut, pop the headset on & take NASA’s 3d virtual tour. See it all up close.

*Caution: Should not be worn while operating heavy machinery.

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blogging, inspiration, Research, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

The Writer’s Muse & Inner Critic

Above, Roger W. Sperry, 1913-1994

In his blog “How to Discover Your Writer’s Muse” Harvey points out that creativity springs from the right side of our brain while your knowledge of writing resides in the left side.
“Your writing muse lives in the right side of your brain – the side where all the creative work takes place. The critic lives in the logical left side. The muse has access to your unconscious mind – the place where you dream and imagine and store your hidden memories. The critic has no time for such nonsense. You use your creative side (or your writer’s muse) to supply you with great raw material. Then you use your logical side (or your inner-critic) to make sense of it all and knock it into shape.”

Harvey is suggesting that the more we know about muses, the more we can trust our own. Another way of putting it is, teach the left brain about muses and the right brain can form a useful muse. For those interested, his piece is at:
https://www.novel-writing-help.com/writing-muse.html

And, for those who wonder how much truth there can be in this approach, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine of 1981 was awarded to Dr. Roger W. Sperry, “for his discoveries concerning the functional specialization of the cerebral hemispheres.”
https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1981/

Warning, though. Anyone reading Sperry’s experiments may forever think differently of themselves.
https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/roger-sperrys-split-brain-experiments-1959-1968

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