About Writers, inspiration, Writers Co-op

Hobby Anyone?

That’s a photo of Vladimir Nabokov chasing butterflies.
Ayn Rand collected stamps, Emily Dickinson baked, Dostoyevsky gambled, Tolkien was a conlang* wizard, Tolstoy played chess, and Franz Kafka amassed an extensive collection of pornography.

Mark Twain, friends with Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, obsessed over science and technology. He even patented three inventions of his own.

Why? Flannery O’Connor suggested, “Fiction writing is very seldom a matter of saying things; it is a matter of showing things. Any discipline can help your writing. Anything that helps you to see, anything that makes you look.” I couldn’t agree more.

That may be why E. E. Cummings painted daily, creating 1,600+ drawings, oil paintings, sketches, and watercolors. Other writers who used art to better visualize included Henry Miller, Kurt Vonnegut, Jack Kerouac, and Sylvia Plath. And of course, our own Mimi Speike comes to mind.

What about you? I use photography to “see” things I might otherwise not glance at twice.
What’s your hobby?

~

*conlang is a word used here in an attempt to pay back Carl E. Reed for constantly making me look up words.

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book promotion, Freedom of Writing, marketing, Writers Co-op

Goodbye Facebook

In 2017 I discovered Facebook as a mecca for networking. Recently, Facebook has become a censored banality. In between, I was fortunate to find over 3,000 “friends” living the writing life. Many taught me, some edited and published my stories. I cannot thank Facebook enough for the opportunity to interact with so many talented people. But all things change and now the politicians have infested Facebook to get around the First Amendment and promote their own agenda while censoring that of opponents.

“U.S. Code § 230, (2)Civil liability, permits social media to censor content “whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/230
Yet, the First Amendment clearly states “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” Politicians have used their regulatory and financial relationships with big media to exert a control over public opinion that is otherwise denied to them.

The result is a leveling of public discourse to the lowest common denominator.

And then, of course, Facebook algorithms ensure that writers who don’t buy ads get scant exposure for posts promoting their books. I left Facebook after scrolling down my feed to find any “friends” book promotion to share on my own timeline. I spent literally forty-five minutes enjoying posts of pets, whines, humor, look-at-me-chit-chat, amazing science (I’m a sucker for amazing science,) and feel-good platitudes. Abruptly, it dawned on me: Not one book promotion! This is all gossip! Critical thinkers have crept away while I wasted my time pretending that I was still networking.

What a waste of time. Goodbye Facebook. Gossip bores me.

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humor, scams, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Get Big Money Now! Click or Call!

As writers we learn from everything we read, don’t we? The good, the bad, and the ugly. This includes certain laugh-out-loud funny, grammatically challenged examples of criminal hucksterism that flood our desktop computer and cell phone inboxes daily. These suspect come-ons are designed to tempt us into sharing personal financial info that will lead to immediate disaster and the draining of hacked bank accounts.

I take delight (yes, I’m weird that way: amused rather than irritated) in poorly written spam-scam e-mails that routinely hit my inbox. Even when the suspect communication is grammatically and syntactically correct, there is oftentimes an over-the-top, maniacal energy quality to the socially engineered “call now!” or “click here!” pitch that both alarms and repels. (Leastwise the literate, discerning receiver of such junk e-mail spams.) Here is a baker’s dozen of the best that have entertained me this year, with my considered (though not communicated) replies. 

Would you like to secure your level and be all monies? 

Carl: “Umm . . .” 

Stimulus is available to you now! Mistake if delay. We can give you advance on government checks. 

Carl: “Thank god! East European scammers to the rescue. Uncle Sam is such a slacker!” 

Would you like more money? If such dreams contact ______ at _____ and get approved while only ten minutes pass. 

Carl: “I’ll give you five . . .” 

Respond to Check Adventure today! 

Carl: “Yes! No.” 

Many are the peoples whose accounts fall off due to errors that are not their faults yet bills keep coming. How to resolve? It starts by saying “I want gold.” 

Carl: “I want gold! I want gold! I want gold!” (A beat.) “F#@k! Nothing’s happening . . .” 

We have been trying to complete your application for $10,000 – $100,000. Many pay only $50 a month or less. Approval come quick as you e-sign, so why halt? 

Carl: “I Googled your company.” 

Three times now you no respond to so much money. 

Carl: “And I shall ignore you three times more . . .” 

In just two minutes your life can change. 

Carl: “I’ll bet!” 

Carl, your $10,000 is here! Please contact us so that we can complete the bank transfer. 

Carl: “I don’t wish to own a bank; please send money in the mail.” 

Are you short of cash? That is not your fault. Get what you need today. 

Carl: “I am gratified and reassured! I knew being poor wasn’t my fault. 20k in small bills, please.” 

So many people have happy bills now that they modify with extra dollars. Call our operators to learn how fast you can change the bills. 

Carl: “Joy tremors! I call so fast we go back in time to modify sad-face debts.”  

We tried to reach you by phone and failed. So now we reach out with money that starts by clicking this link to see what amount. Almost everybody get big money! Bad credit is no problem to us.  

Carl: “Well sure; that makes sense–who needs good credit to get ‘big money’ ?” 

And my personal favorite for enthusiastic succinctness, the pitch that began: 

Money everywhere! 

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Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Poem Composed After Reading Gertrude Stein

As Monty Python used to say: “And now, for something completely different . . .”

Gristle Zippers

Hell is a horror is a belt is a house.   

Mommy white-faced, clench-jawed, smoking dollar bills   

green green angry   

our rabbit-eared television    

blares vacuum tube pophisses &   

fingersnap jingle-jangles upon the raptured children   

twixt game glows & sporting ejects   

better soaps & tires, softer sheets, sparkling dishes  

a fork is a fork is a fork   

chow down to father. Chow down. To father. Chow  

down to. father. Chow. Down. To. Father.  

How now cows aflutter  

vulcanized rubber sighs to do, to go, to be

gathered imbecility docility virility   

conditioned by Madison Avenue to consume, to obey   

gun-metal blue the guns, knives, grenades, berets   

foundling war: writhing rhythms   

’mongst blinkered-tinkered-sphincter’d toys    

beribboned chests & broken-backed books.    

O joy! O joke! O death! Deaths.   

Fall silent in the nave   

the grave of mind.    

–Carl E. Reed

——————–

Author’s note: Gertrude Stein would not approve of this poem. It is contemptibly bourgeois and thoroughly unconvincing in the trite, commonplace sentiments it proffers as subversive and borderline anarchist; also, it is cretinously conventional in grammar and structure. Moreover, it makes too much sense; hence violates the core principle of Dada: purest pointlessness. 

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book sales, self-publishing, Writers Co-op

SELF-PUBLISH BOOK SALES

Who makes money self-publishing? Probably, E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey sold the most copies. LJ Ross’ series about Detective Chief Inspector Ryan has a total of around 4.5 million copies. Rachel Abbott has sold over four million copies. Every one of her 11 crime novels hit six figure sales in its first year.

What genres dominate? Half of the e-book bestsellers in the romance, science fiction, and fantasy genres on Amazon are self-published!

Famous authors who self-published? E.L. James, of course. Margaret Atwood self-published her poems. Beatrix Potter first self-published 250 copies of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. And, of course, successful authors from Mark Twain to Stephen King cut out the middle man.

Do many authors make money self-publishing? According to Amazon’s 2019 review of its Kindle sales, thousands of self-published authors earn over $50,000, while more than a thousand hit six-figure salaries from their book sales.
‘course, In 2020, there were over 44.2 thousand writers and authors working in the United States,
https://www.statista.com/statistics/572476/number-writers-authors-usa/
Best estimates suggest the “average” self-published, digital-only book sells about 250 copies in its lifetime. By comparison, the average traditionally published book sells 3,000 copies, but only about 250-300 of those sales happen in the first year.

So should we self-publish? Obviously, we don’t need a publisher to publish a book. To earn their cut, a publisher must promote your book or they ain’t worth feeling good about. And once you’re famous, you just don’t need them. Feel free to treat publishers the way they treat authors: make me money or go away.

DISCLAIMER: Just my opinion here, but obsessing about money misses the point that life’s memories are made from other stuff. For example: Unlike money, an author’s book is never spent.

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About Writers, inspiration, marketing, Welcome, Writers Co-op

I Find the Covid To Be…

Finish that statement as you like. Me, I find the Covid to be rife with story fodder. It provides common references for readers that benefit any genre.

Horror, obviously. The Covid is acidic and round, with spikes that bind to your cell’s outer membrane. As it sits against the cell, more spikes come out, like grappling hooks and soon, its acid burns a hole through the membrane and the virus slips inside. At this point, your body’s defenses cannot find and kill the virus. Your cell is now doomed.
The membrane of the virus dissolves, the genes of the virus spill into the cell, penetrate to the cell nucleus, insert themselves into the cell’s genome, and begin producing copies of the virus. Meanwhile, those spikes have been disintegrating the cell’s outer membrane.
The time it takes for a virus to burst a cell varies, but about 10 hours is not uncommon. Then, a swarm of 100,000 to one million new viruses explode your cell.
That’s real horror.

Or the Thriller genres. No one alive has ever experienced this strong a pandemic, so conspiracy theories abound. Don’t ignore that market of paranoid readers who fear and hate other readers.

And of course, that most popular of genres, Romance: “She could never forget the man she loved because she carried his Covid.”

But, maybe I’m feeling cynical? Six months of quarantine will do that. How about you? How is the Covid affecting your writing life?

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Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

BOGART LAUGHING

And now for something completely different, from Guest Author Michael DiMatteo.

I was having dinner with Humphrey Bogart last night. We’re not friends. In fact, we never met as I’m still alive and he’s been dead for some time now. Yes, I’m talking about that Humphrey Bogart, the one that was the original-original member of the Hollywood Rat Pack. The same guy that starred in what some consider the greatest movie ever made, Casablanca. I don’t know if that’s true, I’ve never seen it (you can start to boo right now if you wish – get it over with).

Anyway, for some reason, I was having dinner with him. He was in a tux and seated to my left. The entire dream was first person, meaning I was seeing things through my own eyes. Ironically enough, my mother was sitting across from Bogart and I, and for some reason, I was standing the entire time. The room we were in was a banquet hall, and while you could hear glasses clanging, the only light in the room was shining on our table, kind of like we were the spotlight of the dream. That’s how it works, right? If you can’t be a star in the movies, at least you can get the spotlight in your own dream.

I was witty. I had all these clever one-liners, and I was stealing the show. Bogart, to his credit, allowed me that spotlight, as someone of his stature would. Why does he need to be the star of the show when he is the brightest star in that cosmos? So, I went on countering the conversation with my witty one-liners and Bogart continued to laugh, a diamond pinky ring on his right hand, and a drink in his left. My guess was some sort of scotch, the ice peeking over the top of the maple colored liquid. The entire scene was surreal, as it should be seeing as I was dreaming.

Then, I looked across the table at my mother. She was not amused. She was dress to the nines, and her hair was piled high. She had a dark sequined dress and really looked great, but she also had that look that only a mother can give when she is unhappy with her son’s behavior. My father was next to her, but he was hidden in the shadow of the spotlight, so I couldn’t see how he was reacting.

She said, “Do you think that all of this is funny?” Again, a look that could cut ice.

“As a matter of fact I do,” I responded. Bogart thought that comeback was funny too. In fact, I had Bogart in stitches the entire dream. I’ve never been that funny, but on this night, in this dream, Bogart was having the time of his life.

My mother shot me another look. “I think you’re getting out of hand,” she said, “and I don’t think any of this is funny. Mr. Bogart isn’t here to laugh at your jokes.”

I paused for a moment, then looked at Bogart. He looked up at me, took a swig from his glass, and started laughing again. “Well, he’s laughing now, Mom,” I said. Then, we all started to laugh.

It was then that a noise outside of my window took me away from my moment with Bogie sans Bacall. My brain switched back to reality and focused on the noise outside my window. I listened carefully to see if someone was trying to break into a car on the driveway. I thought about getting up and peeking through the blinds, but I was too tired. We have insurance, so if they want the car that badly, they can have it, I thought. Then, I drifted back to sleep for a couple more hours. I wonder if Bogart would think that’s funny too.

http://bestoftimes31.blogspot.com/

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editing, Literary critique, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op, writing technique

Purple Prose

Screen enough stories for publication, and the feeling that you know something becomes hard to shake. You read too many stories. The stories are bad, or good, or very good. Why? Bad stories, forget those. But good or very good? What detracts from the author’s best efforts to tell a very good story? I have the feeling that one culprit is purple prose.

Purple prose is prose that is too elaborate or ornate. Another way to explain this is: The extravagant phrasing of tedious prose really hardly ever enhances the mostly mundane meaning.
For those of you who winced at that, all I meant to say was that purple prose kills the clarity.

I see it too often. Here’s an example that glitters with purple prose.

Saphira’s muscled sides expanded and contracted as the great bellows of her lungs forced air through her scaled nostrils. Eragon thought of the raging inferno that she could now summon at will and send roaring out of her maw. It was an awesome sight when flames hot enough to melt metal rushed past her tongue and ivory teeth without harming them.
Note that I’m not talking about style. That’s Christopher Paolini’s style. But it’s still purple prose.

Let’s read that as the editors at Reedsy.com would have it, without the color purple.
Saphira breathed heavily, her nostrils expelling warm air. Eragon sat and marveled at her power. It was amazing that Saphira’s fiery breath could melt metal, yet she was immune to its harm.
[https://blog.reedsy.com/purple-prose/]

Don’t be afraid to tell your story without embellishment. If you edit unnecessary superlatives out of your work and what’s left is the story you want to tell, that’s very good. All that glitters may be mere distraction.

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editing, publishing, Uncategorized, Welcome, Writers Co-op

Opportunity at Dark Owl Publishing, LLC

Associate Editor of Anthologies

We are looking for self-starting individuals to serve as Associate Editors to Dark Owl Publishing to produce 20- to 25-story anthologies.

Our goal is to give authors and editors the opportunity to helm a project that is meaningful to them and that they believe will have a positive impact on the writing community.

This is a flat-fee paid position and is a large amount of work, but we know that you will find it is truly worth your dedication and passion.

Associate Editor Job Description
Dark Owl Publishing is looking for editors!

We are a growing, woman-owned company, and we want to hire editors for a flat fee to produce anthologies in both paperback and ebook forms. Editing an anthology can be an exciting and rewarding experience, and we want to fill the Dark Owl roster with high-caliber books that appeal to large audiences and promote passions for reading.

Job Requirements:

A passion for quality storytelling and producing top-notch anthologies.

English as a first language, or an extremely strong grasp of the English language.

Previous experience with anthology work, such as producing anthologies, slush reading and/or copy editing.

Copy editing skills – ABSOLUTELY MUST know correct English grammar, syntax, and the like.

Self-starter who is good at organization and communicating with others via email and is willing to spend a lot of time on the computer reading stories and sending acceptance and rejection emails.

Ability to meet rigid, established deadlines with no exceptions.

Work with the Lead Editor of the company on the call requirements, requirements for acceptance and rejection emails, and final decisions for stories, TOC order and cover.

Market the book online on social media and send ARC copies out for reviews to established and professional reviewers.

No need to know how to format manuscripts or ebook files: we take care of all of that!

An understanding that payment is a flat fee based on experience and not on hours worked. You may work more or less hours than the flat fee incorporates.

Anthology Requirements:

Genre fiction in the realms of fantasy, horror/thriller, mystery/crime, and science fiction is our main focus, but we are fine with literary fiction anthologies, too. We do not publish extreme horror, overtly sexual content, erotica, romance, fan fiction, manga-type stories, standard romance, religious fiction, overtly political pieces, political satire, or stories with morals that are degrading to any person or persons of any type. Subgenres are accepted, such as steampunk, dark fantasy, psychological horror, historical fiction, alternative history, cyberpunk, westerns, and pulp fiction. These are just examples and are not exhaustive of what we’ll publish. While we mostly publish adult fiction, YA and middle-grade fiction will be considered.

Our company focuses on entertainment and escape rather than social and political issues. We will not produce anthologies or books that are overtly political. While some politics tend to show up in all types of literature, and we are fine with that, we do not take sides in the political arena. We accept you for who you are, not what political/social side you stand on.

Diversity anthologies are welcome! Our goal is to make sure the content is something anyone will want to pick up and read. We aren’t looking for specific diversity themes. We want to showcase authors who are truly excellent storytellers who create characters and situations that feel natural and grounded. Non-traditional characters and situations are welcome, but they must be authentic to the story and entertaining for anyone of any background to read.

Think your idea meets the above qualifications?
https://www.darkowlpublishing.com/

 

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blogging, book promotion, marketing, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

ATTN: Gamers, Writers & Editors

Video games have been around since the early 1990s when we played them over long distance phone lines. Gamers have been forging relationships for 30 years now, and we want to tell some of their stories.

You may have a story or two to tell, about yourself, your friends, or even your marriage, that could only have happened because of online gaming. We’d like to hear it. And so, we believe, would a lot of other people.

We are publishing an anthology of stories by gamers. No fan fiction. Just real stories about real people.

You can note your story in the comments below, or on our Facebook group Stories by Gamers for Gamers at
https://www.facebook.com/groups/932185130543024
or email it to GD<at>Deckard<dot>one.
Don’t worry if you’re not a writer, just say what happened, when, in what game. And if you are a writer or editor, maybe you can help us to ghost-write or edit the stories of others?

This is a brand new venture. So, if you’re interested join us. We’ll work out the details together. Help us to form a group of gamers, writers, and editors and create an anthology of our stories.

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