About Writers, blogging, Uncategorized, world-building, writing technique

Tomorrow’s Challenge

Why do we continue to use digital media to mimic novels set in type? Linear stories presented word by word and scene by scene are analogs in a world that we are beginning to experience as quantum.

Changes are coming even if we ignore them. Digital e-readers are as capable of sounds as they are of words, so why bother describing the sound of a bell when you can make it? Two paragraphs appearing side by side can present two PoVs to the reader at the same time. Comic books do that now. Imagine what a creative writer of the future will be able to do.

But why wait? Are we all just old analogs stuck in a linear perspective incapable of conveying life’s simultaneity?

Just asking 🙂 What do you think?

About Writers, book promotion, book sales, Uncategorized, writing technique


We writers are the pioneers in this brave new world of book marketing. It is our task to boldly go where few authors have gone before. Finding what works for us is often intuitive, so it helps to ask others what they think. What do you think of the following insight from a fellow author about book blurbs?

Book Blurb
“The blurb should draw you into the story, not tell you all about the story.”

Example: (my current blurb)
The Phoenix Diary
Legends speak of a mysterious and powerful record that might be a formula for free energy to rebuild the lost civilization or an ancient tome written by a man from the stars telling of mankind’s true beginning and ultimate destiny. Now three teens – Otero, Rhia, and Marc – set out to find the Phoenix Diary with the help of hints from their own genetic memories. But a mysterious man pursues them relentlessly through the ruins of Denver and into an ancient vault in the Rocky Mountains; he knows the Phoenix Diary is everything the legends say and more. It is humanity’s past, present, and future.

Example: (Proposed revision. Is it better?)
The Phoenix Diary
Can genetic memories guide three teens to a tome written by a man from the stars buried in an ancient Rocky Mountain vault? Does it really tell of humanity’s past, present, and future? Only the warrior pursuing them knows.

Example: (Your Best)
Let’s see your best book blurb!

book promotion

Marketing update


A short while ago I announced I was doing a giveaway. It ended on 5th July, so here are the preliminary results. In fact I also participated in a cross-promotion in which 20 mystery and suspense authors made their books available free on Instafreebie, undertaking to promote the offer to their mailing list.

The giveaway was costly – the value of the prize plus promoting the giveaway itself came to over $200. I’d hoped for a minimum of 200 subscribers; I got 97. Conclusion? Not worth it. Especially when compared to the cross-promotion, which cost me nothing (Instafreebie offer a free trial for a month, after which it’s $20 a month if you want to collect the email addresses of those who download your book).

The cross-promotion brought in 576 subscribers, meaning I now have upwards of 700 altogether. In three years of blogging, I laboriously reached 65, so the sudden influx is massive. Is this the way forward? Everyone says so.

Now the challenge is to convert those subscribers into readers, and ultimately readers who’ll want to pay for the next book in the series. I’m approaching this with some trepidation – send out too many emails, be too pushy or adopt the wrong tone, and they’ll unsubscribe. So far, my unsubscribe rate is under 4%, which is healthy. If it goes up to 7%, Mailchimp (free till you get to 2000 subscribers) suspect you of spamming and send you nasty warnings.

A lot of people, of course, don’t even open the emails. Or don’t read the free books. Or if they do, don’t pay for the next one. So only a tiny proportion of subscribers will become your followers or fans. How tiny? Only time will tell. But at least it feels like I’ve got some sort of traction, a sense of control over a process which has hitherto been random and wasteful. If I convert just 5% of subscribers into followers, that’s 35 – not a lot, but still way more in a single month than in three years of effort up to then. So what do I do next? Rinse and repeat.



reading, Uncategorized

The one-two-three-dollar library sales, heaven on earth!

images.jpgEvery year my husband and I have the same discussion. Do we really need more books? The house is full of books. Books that, mostly, haven’t been read. That we mean to read. Or, rather, to get to. We’re reading all the time.

We bought them because they looked interesting. We sure didn’t buy them to decorate our space. (Some idiot, years ago, suggested to a friend of mine that this is a big reason for buying books!) They’re, mostly, tattered, covers long gone, spines often unreadable.

Books are a drug. Is the urge to acquire a disease or a character flaw? Why, no bookshelf footage left, books piled on tables, under tables, in corners, why do we return to the well? Here’s why: I might find something extraordinary. Period color. A bit of history that I’ve seen nowhere else. A stunning style.

The sales are exciting. It’s a treasure hunt. We pay the five-dollar first-day fee. I head left, to the fiction. I gravitate to ‘literature’, the amount of which, sadly, is less every year. The holders of troves of long out of print, odd and obscure are passing. Here’s my tip: do not ignore the books with crumbling, illegible spines. They are often little known authors telling out-of-style tales in prose that will turn you green with envy. Those moldie-oldies could write.

Another plus of the dollar buys: I highlight to my heart’s content, with no qualms about ruining something. I draw stars and arrows, even circle passages. I can flip through that book on Oliver Goldsmith and find what I need fairly easily. I don’t have to laboriously transcribe into a word doc. I mark useful info up but good, facts, dates, quotes, description. For data, I look to biographies. For artful description, to vintage fiction. Charles Reade is a favorite. Never heard of him? I’m not surprised.

From Wikipedia: Reade fell out of fashion by the turn of the century—”it is unusual to meet anyone who has voluntarily read him,” wrote George Orwell—but during the 19th century Reade was one of England’s most popular novelists. He was not highly regarded by critics. The following assessment is typical:

“Mr. Reade is unsurpassed in the second class of English novelists, but he does not belong to the front rank. His success has been great in its way, but it is for an age and not for time.”

Orwell summed up Reade’s attraction as “the charm of useless knowledge.” Reade possessed vast stocks of disconnected information which a lively narrative gift allowed him to cram into his novels. Can anyone who has read my work come away wondering why I am so enamored of him?

At those sales you find nearly anything you want except for the very latest best-sellers. Wait a year, you’ll find them by the dozens. Therefore, I see no compelling reason to buy anything but e-books. The exception for me is period research, when I’ve been sufficiently beguiled by a mention of a particular work. I have purchased a pricy work on Early Modern French Theater for a specific tidbit of information that I couldn’t find on the web. But, you never know what else you’ll stumble on. Also, I have that huge, eighteenth century work on Astrology. Dense, and then some. I’ll pull what I can out of it, then mangle the hell out of it. For Sly, of course.

I tell my stories again and again, have you heard this one? If so, I apologize for being tiresome. In a circa-fifties interview in Evergreen Review, Dorothy Parker said, “I am the only person you’ll meet who has read all of Charles Reade.” She had to have loved him for his style. His plots are atrocious Victorian treacle. I salivate over his way with words, and his impulse to cross every t and dot every i. The man is fun, damn it!

I share a curious literary enthusiasm with . . . whoa! Dorothy Parker! I call that a feather in my cap.

What will I be looking for tomorrow? Like I said, it’s a treasure hunt. All I know for sure is, anything by Charles Reade.


Book sale wrap-up:

I bought a dozen works of fiction, by Anthony Trollope, Rudyard Kipling, Samuel Johnson, George Meredith, and lesser lights. I found no Charles Reade, not even his most famous work, the one I’ve owned for twenty years, the only one I’ve ever seen for sale: The Cloister and The Hearth.

More importantly, I snagged a dozen compilations of essays and letters, explaining and commenting on life, mostly from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Whatever I found of delightful pontificating, I grabbed for you-know-who. The cashier made a bit of a to-do over an unpriced three-book set of essays. She couldn’t let them go for the two dollars a pop that most of the others cost. These might be valuable, said she, I have to check with a higher-up. I told my husband as we awaited her return: Yeah, like anybody but me wants a set of ‘Select British Essayists’ (copyright 1878). They ought to give it to me just to be rid of it.

At these events I browse, looking for a flavor to the prose that puts a smile on my face, a personality that promises to mesh with, and enrich, my own entrenched (but elastic, I can work in almost anything) style, and for pronouncements that will stuff comfortably into the mouth of a know-it-all cat. Here’s a sample of what caught my eye today:

Homilies and Recreations (copyright 1906)

Representative Men by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Characters of Theophrastus (newly translated and edited, 1927)

Wanderings and Excursions by J. Ramsey MacDonald, 1925

C’mon, where ya gonna find this kind of stuff nowadays, but for the library sales? Something in this vein of recent origin, well, the voice of today is not the sensibility of yesteryear. I revel in a nice bit of vintage pomposity, generally, more preachy than what goes now, and I try to echo it in my screwball epic starring a full-of-himself, scholarly-inclined feline.

Flash Fiction, Satire, Uncategorized


(Flash Fiction, 145 words)

+++The children watched it approach, a dark spot on the horizon becoming a dust cloud then a dust cloud following a truck on a road through the savannah. Others came out of the camp to watch, excited.

+++“It’s the NGO!”
+++“Yes! The NGO is coming.”
+++“We’re saved,” they told each other. “Food is coming.”

+++The children were very hungry. Malnourished and too weak to cheer, they watched the truck arrive, U-turn and back up to the people. Brisk young men and women jumped out. They set up a solar charged battery station and wired it to a TV on a table and got back into the truck and drove off. Everyone gathered around to watch the cooking shows.

+++In New York, an accountant looked at the bill and smiled. Giving needy people a TV was expensive. Taxpayers and donors would pay handsomely for this one.

This is my first and (probably) only Flash Fiction. What do you think of Flash Fiction?
Have you written any? Submitted any to the eZines that pay for it? Had any published?



Our First Themed Co-op Writers’ Showcase


Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, web-surfing I.Q.-augmented transgenic pets and government-controlled robotic mites photographing this computer screen, it gives me great pleasure to usher in . . . [trumpet fanfare & rumble of kettledrums] . . . our first Co-op Writers’ Showcase!

The theme for June 2017 was: 100 Words (Maximum) Related to Numbers. A warm round of applause for all the fast-typin’, hard-thinkin’, talented scritch-scribblers who participated in this inaugural exercise. In no particular order, then:


Writer: Perry Palin

Title: Ten Words

Ten words. The note was ten awful words on a half sheet of lined paper torn from a notebook, crumpled, then smoothed and folded between the pages of a college text.

A spring wind had turned over the leaves on the trees, and then a warm rain rinsed the city dust into the street. Birds carried little things to make their nests. I remember your dark eyes, the hair on your arms, I remember the scent of you. The envelope had melted in the rain, but the message was there.

I won’t be there Tuesday. I can’t do this anymore.”


Writer: Kris Bowes

Chapter excerpt from Beneath Ember Skies

She wandered down the hallway to room eight. Eight, she thought, how sacred and profane. Change one letter for a fight.

The room was immaculate, save the young man inside the exothermal chamber.

Eight: the only other perfect cube that’s a positive Fibonacci prime.

He looked so much smaller inside the chamber.

In the old faiths, eight meant a new beginning, resurrection from death and ascension into eternal life.

She saw a flash of her three-year-old Ray.

Circumcision committed the Holy Spirit to the newborn on the eighth day – maybe it was the other way around. Who knew anymore?


Writer: Mimi Speike

Title: At Ten

Trailing a U-Haul, we were off to Florida, to a sleepy haven. Only two girls my age nearby. Jeanne, a snot with starter boobs. And lavishly upholstered Mary Hippe, pronounced Hip-pee/called Hip-po.

Florida! Cockroaches big as dates. Retirees, fiddler crabs, swarming the sands at the foot of our street. Creepy critters everywhere.1

On a budget! Oil stove shut down come bedtime. (Winters were cold.) AC was for rich folks. Oh-those-months-on-end-of-sweltering days-and-sleepless-nights-Christ-Almighty-how-did-we-endure-it?

In that steambath I wore, not sensible shifts, voluminous skirts buoyed by stiff-starched-net crinolines. (Think JonBenétRamsey)

Why? To fit in.

(Gave that up wayback.)



Writer: Atthys Gage

Title: Three Brutal Curses

He stood, hands dangling. The big guy took his backpack.

“Pleasure doin’ business with you, puto.”

They turned and walked. They hadn’t even frisked him.

His dad always told him: count to ten before you do something stupid. On ten, the little snubnose was in his hand. It barked three brutal curses.

One man dropped. The other scrambled away into the darkness.

Night shivered in silence. He approached the crumpled man. “I’d like a refund, please.”

He took the loco’s handgun. He took the backpack. And he walked.

Ten steps away, and nausea doubled him up like a gut punch.


Writer: Carl E. Reed


Einsatzgruppe C assembled on the parade ground at high noon in Central Ukraine. Their collective punishment: decimation for failing to capture an assigned quota of Jews.

Sieben, acht, neun . . .” the major counted off, pacing the second row of paramilitary police standing at ramrod attention.

Sprawled on the ground in the first row: two corpses in spreading pools of blood.

Zehn!” The major halted, raised his pistol to the head of Sgt. Schmidt.

Schmidt locked eyes with his commanding officer. “Still human,” he said. Yesterday he’d discovered two boys hiding in a crawlspace; moved on without sounding the alarm. “You lose.”


About Writers, book promotion, Stories, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op, writing technique

Writer’s Showcase

Type: Satire, Racial Prejudice
From WiP, Bob Vs The Aliens
Scene: The Aliens have just landed and Piper, reporter for the European news site, Socialism Revisited, is in Atlanta conducting a “man-on-the-street” interview with Bob, who was selected because he struck her as an average white man.

+++An elderly black couple turned to them. They smiled at Piper. She smiled back. “Ignore him,” the man told her. “Bob’s too white to understand what’s really happening here.”
+++“He’s a good boy,” the woman assured her. “Give him some time.”
+++“Hi Mom.”
+++Piper stared at Bob. “Mom?”
+++“I was a surprise.”
+++“Your face is Western European.” Her eyes twinkled.
+++“They love me anyway.”
+++Undaunted, Piper thumbed at the cameraman behind her, “Well, the power’s out again. But our camera still works.”
+++Bob ignored her. “I do understand, Dad,” he answered the old gentleman. “The presence of an Alien species defines all humans as one, right?”
+++Realization came over Piper’s face as if she suddenly sensed the real story here. Signaling the cameraman, she turned to the couple. “Tell me, sir, what was your first reaction when you heard the news?”
+++“White folk are gonna stop looking at me like I’m black.”

Critique & Comments welcome 🙂
Writers: Showcase your writing on Writers Co-op!
We want to see your writing of First Line or Paragraph, Character Introduction, World Building, Backstory, Action Scene, Satire, Humor, Horror, display an Emotion, show a Relationship, or, any Bit Of Writing you’d care to share. (Never more than one page in length, please. Be sure to state the type & book title and introduce the scene.)
Post in our drafts section if you can, or, use our Contact Page to send us your  sample or email it directly to GD (at) Deckard (dot) com.
(Many thanks to Ducky Smith & E.M. Swift-Hook of the SciFi Roundtable for their unwitting contribution of this idea.)