Ignorance is a Sci-Fi Goldmine

Story fodder can be something unknown to the quantum physicist, astronomer, psychologist, or oneirologist (dream studier) – whatever you find fascinating.

This is exactly the approach taken by the authors of The Encyclopaedia of Ignorance. The book is an old collection of short essays, some of which have proven prophetic. What, the authors asked leading scientists, don’t you know in your field that you find the most intriguing? It just makes sense to start your fiction with the other man’s ignorance. Such is the space inviting imagination.

Fantasy writers might benefit from knowing that intelligence is now measured by how many conflicting bits of information one can hold in working memory. That bit of knowledge makes it easy to show-not-tell a character’s intelligence and why they relate to others the way they do.

With new discoveries coming like rain, it’s difficult for an author to know what it is that the reader does not know. Research, even a quick Google on minor points, can prevent tripping the reader out of the story with an obviously false fact. And, of course, y’gotta feel for any author who set their story in 2020 before knowing about the Covid.

Ignorance is a sci-fi goldmine, but only if the author ain’t ignorant.

About Writers, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op, Writers Co-op Anthology

(See photo for title)

OKAY, so what have you been doing with all this quarantine time? At first, I assumed we in the writing life would have more time to live it. But I’m not writing more. You?

I spend my time taking walks with my Lady. Or playing table top games. We also watch some TV together in the evenings. I enjoy time with her.

Sci-Fi Lampoon magazine has named me Editor In Chief, at least for the forthcoming issue & until I can foist that job onto someone else.

Volume 3 of The Rabbit Hole is now in the final editing stage and will soon be ready to promote. That’ll be fun. Victor Acquista and Susan Ranscht have contributed greatly to the story selection of this final volume.

But mainly, I’m adrift in contemplation. Interesting world and it must be absorbed before I can seriously write again.

How has the pandemic affected you?

About Writers, blogging, book promotion, book sales, Formatting manuscripts, Google Ads, Publisher's Advice, publishing, Research, self-publishing, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op, writing technique

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of the useful blogs to have appeared on the Writers Co-op site over the past two or three years.

Practical advice from a full-time (i.e., successful) writer.

Where do your story ideas come from?

How to Format a Manuscript: Andrea Dawn, publisher.

Do Google Ads sell books?

POV explained.

What is the reading level of your work?

Writing meaningful nonsense.

Publishing Through A Start-Up Independent Publisher

Deep historical research

How a talisman can help you write

And, just for fun…
Spiteful but funny quotes from writers about other writers

We hope you’eve enjoyed the last two or three years as much as we have!

About Writers, blogging, book promotion, book reviews, book sales, Literary Agents, Research, Stories, writing technique

A Path

Lots of great ideas here but they are only ideas unless we put the time, effort & sometimes money into them to make them happen. Take the idea of WritersCo-op.com becoming a kind of wiki created by writers who have something to offer other writers. That would take time, effort & eventually, money.

Time, first. Members can keep posting articles until we have enough to seed a wiki. Then effort. I think I can find writers to create a wiki but that must be done. And we’d probably have to pay a server host to maintain our site online. I’ve set up websites since 1998 and I know we could find a home on the ‘Net for our wiki at a cost we’d be happy with.

The beauty of this path is that we do not have to decide right now. We can keep on blogging as we are doing.
When we have enough blogs, or articles, we can consider turning the site into a wiki.
If we end up with a wiki, we’ll figure out a way to fund it.

We can become a site where any writer could log on and find information on just about anything they are looking for regarding writing – from creating stories, to practical working advice, to shopping for agents, working with an editor, the publishing process, marketing tips – all on one website created by other writers:
The WritersCo-op Wiki.

What do you think?

writing technique

Writing Charms

Using one thing to remind you of something else is symbolizing. We’ve been doing that since we sat in the Hohle Fels caverns in Germany 40,000 years ago carving pornographic figures from mammoth ivory. I wore a 40,000-year-old fossilized walrus tooth, recently carved into a face, on a chain around my neck while writing about the first human children to use language. It helped me to feel something 40,000 years old. When my story shifted to early Mesopotamia, I wore a golden bull’s head pendant copied from one found in the royal tombs at Ur, dating to around 2500 BC. It helped me to imagine what kind of people would make such a thing. That’s what writing charms do. They help us to feel a connection with the story and to imagine details.

Whenever you find yourself looking at what may be called charms, talismans, totems, fetishes, figurines, or whatnots, think writing charms! A good one can be anything that relates to what you are writing. M and I drove up to watch the last shuttle launch and she had us standing in line in the NASA gift shop so she could get a photo autographed by an astronaut. As the line wound past the obliging spaceman and towards the cash register, I spied a dark blob the size of a small marble displayed on white cotton in a glass case. It looked precious & at $35, I looked closer. It was a fragment of the Sikhote-Alin meteorite that landed in Russia in 1947. Subsequent research showed it to be from the Asteroid Belt, formed with the solar system 4.5 billion years ago. Writing charm! Imaginations of life beyond earth become more real when you hold something from there.

Other charms in the drawer include a 1940s Alice Caviness gold typewriter pendant for when I just need to be reminded to write, a 19th century Half-Eagle coin for thinking about life before electricity and a new Charles Albert deaths-head pendant which does nothing for me now but I saw it and had to have it. Maybe I’ve been charmed into killing off one of my characters in order to think about it.

Writing charms are plentiful and inexpensive to acquire. They can appear in unexpected places and abound in second-hand markets from estate sales, antique shops, consignment shops, pawn shops, flea markets and garage sales. As symbols, they don’t have to be the real thing. They only have to focus your thoughts on your story. I could not afford an authentic prehistoric carving but a fossilized walrus tooth carved by a Renaissance Faire artist served the same purpose. And, serendipity, questing for a writing charm is a rewarding form of procrastination.


book reviews

Conversation with a Troll

Internet Trolls attempt to stifle dissent. It’s endemic. Let a known author disagree with anything they believe and they come after him like Daleks at Dr. Who screaming, “Exterminate!” Their hatred is blind. They even lash out at anyone who dares write a favorable review of the book.
The following is commentary I received on an Amazon review I wrote of The Kingdom Of Speech, in which Tom Wolfe cites field evidence suggesting that evolutionists and linguists are wrong about the origin of speech.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2RS0X9SB20OW3/ref=cm_cr_getr_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0316404624 ]

In the review, I say, “It is a rare quality of great writers that they give their reader understandings they never had before and cannot explain without reciting from the book.”

Conversation with a Troll Named Anonymous

Anonymous says:
“they give their reader understandings they never had before”
The correct word is “misunderstandings” of course.

[ https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2016/09/01/my-wapo-review-of-tom-wolfes-new-book-the-kingdom-of-speech/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/his-white-suit-unsullied-by-research-tom-wolfe-tries-to-take-down-charles-darwin/2016/08/31/8ee6d4ee-4936-11e6-90a8-fb84201e0645_story.html?utm_term=.de2dad8af8b5 ]

Of course Jerry Coyne is a professor emeritus of evolutionary biology at the University of Chicago.

GD Deckard says:
o-pin-ion n. 1. A belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof.
– The American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition

Anonymous says:
A silly person:
“A belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof.”
Hilarious. Evolution – supported by overwhelming scientific evidence built up over the last 150+ years.
Science doesn’t get any better than that.

GD Deckard says:
In The Kingdom Of Speech, Tom Wolfe does not reject the generally accepted theory of evolution.

Anonymous says:
“Tom Wolfe does not reject the generally accepted theory of evolution.”
HOWEVER, he claims that humans are “special” and not like “other animals”. That’s just silly.
From the Amazon blurb: “The maestro storyteller and reporter provocatively argues that what we think we know about speech and human evolution is wrong.”
Does that properly reflect the nonsense in this book?

GD Deckard says:
I dunno, I suspect most people believe they are special compared to other animals. Given the extraordinary difference between our discussion here and any communication between animals (none ever built an Internet,) I’m not inclined to disagree with them.

True, I’d be hard pressed to argue Tom Wolfe’s assertion that human language is not the result of evolution, but rather is an artifact, what I’d call a technology (in the McLuhan sense.) But lacking the body of hard empirical science that lands spacecraft on comets to the contrary, why not? What specific evidence contradicts that assertion?

Anonymous says:
“I suspect most people believe they are special compared to other animals.”
Of course they think that. Most people are religious. So what?
“extraordinary difference”
Hilariously irrelevant of course. The point is that our capabilities have evolved as humans have evolved over the last few hundreds of thousands of years.
“True, I’d be hard pressed to argue Tom Wolfe’s assertion that human language is not the result of evolution”
In other words, HALF of his book is nonsense???
“What specific evidence contradicts that assertion?”
Hilarious. Did you read Jerry Coyne’s skewering of this nonsense? If that is correct, there is no point in trying to read this book.

GD Deckard says:
So, you really cannot cite empirical evidence to refute Tom Wolfe’s assertion that human language is not the result of biological evolution any more than is the bow & arrow? Then both sides of this debate remain open. Great 🙂 I love a spirited debate.
Thank you for taking the time to let me know what you think.

Anonymous says:
“assertion that human language is not the result of biological evolution”
Are you aware that there is a “not” in that assertion? That makes it simply a silly assertion that is laughed at and then ignored.
“I love a spirited debate.”
There is no debate. Humans are animals and evolved the intelligence and capability of speech. End of discussion.
Coyne: “Somewhere on his mission to tear down the famous, elevate the neglected outsider and hit the exclamation-point key as often as possible, Wolfe has forgotten how to think.”

GD Deckard says:
ROFL! Closed minded arguments aside, please do post here if you ever come across empirical evidence.

I couldn’t have characterized the Troll’s argument better myself. “There is no debate,” Anonymous says, “End of discussion.”

book promotion, Uncategorized

Writing DaysZ 5

Returning to the lanai with a mug of Guatemala Antigua, I attempt to ignore the TV lest it throw me off my thought track but am caught by whoops of frivolity from the morning news team. The news ticker scrolling at the bottom of the screen reports a night club shooting that left 6 dead. Live onscreen, a bleached blond fakes intense interest in a guy with a perfectly groomed unshaven look telling us about a restaurant named Prunes. They serve tripe. He hilariously tells how he and his friends held a contest to see who could eat the grossest things. Knee slapping follows. The ticker quotes a man mourning his murdered younger brother.

Bob vs the Aliens
To read Writing DaysZ 1-4, go to ROFLtimes.com/BvA.pdf

Whooping News Loonies

+++The dirt road from town ended at sunset at a railroad track with a small waystation, two stories, one floor each with wooden stairs up the outside. They entered to find living space on the ground floor and an office upstairs. “That computer work?” Old Spice wondered. “My people are busy preparing to depart in the morning and I have urgent questions.”
+++“There’s a TV downstairs,” Piper said. “I’ll check it for news.”
+++“Good for you two. Somebody’s out to kill us and we know nothing.” Bob stood at the window looking back down the road. “Those townspeople know where this road goes. We’re sitting ducks if they’re asked about us. So, if you two think information from a computer and a TV can save us, who am I to -”
+++“Don’t start, Bob!” Piper warned as she went out. “We need to rest tonight. We’ll leave at first light.” He followed her down the stairs.
+++The living quarters were cramped. There was an exposed commode in one corner, a small table with a single chair, a bed, nightstand, TV and many boxes of, so far as Bob could tell, useless personal effects. He did find a gun in the nightstand, a Colt Police revolver, older than he and Piper put together. But it was a Colt and it looked safe to fire. There was a box of .38 calibre Black Talons with six cartridges missing. He checked the cylinder. The gun was loaded. “Piper, look. These babies go right through heavy clothing and expand to twice their size. If the shock doesn’t kill ’em the wound cavity will.” His satisfaction faded in her glare.
+++“Kill them? Who, exactly, do you wish to kill, Bob?”
+++“Anybody I have to.”
+++“Is that what you want?”
+++“It is my fervent prayer that if I have to kill someone, I can. Yes.”
+++“Are you two married?” Both turned to see Spice grinning at them from the doorway. “Congratulations! I am sorry I missed your ceremony. Was it at the Occupy Churches booth in town?”
+++“No!” they told him.
+++“Well, you should be. You argue so needlessly together.”
+++They glared accusingly at each other. She recovered first. “Spice, what did you learn on the computer?”
+++The Alien sighed, ticking off points on his fingers. “Computers are not fast when you have to wait for updates. Search engines are commercial spinmeisters designed to offer you goods or services, no matter the inquiry. News sites are slow to load and clunky with ads. Every time I began reading, the text jumped because something else loaded.” He shuddered. “They’re selling t-shirts with my picture on them.” His round figure seemed to sag.
+++“Nothing useful.” Bob’s tone was flat.
+++“The TV,” Piper said hopefully.
+++Bob’s dismissive, “Right,” dismissed her suggestion.
+++“To conclude my report,” Spice distinctly enunciated for their attention before Piper could retort, “The many ads for electrical generators indicate an expanding market.”
+++Two newsreaders on Channel 2 Eyewitness News fawned over cute little kids being interviewed for their opinion of the Atlanta blackout while at the bottom of the screen the news ticker scrolled, “Power outages continue to spread along the Eastern Seaboard.”
+++“Well,” said a darling little girl with a bright smile and clever eyes, “It’s spreading so fast. It’s not the Atlanta blackout. It’s the Atlantic blackout!”
+++“She’s so darling!” gushed the sexy blonde newsreader. “Isn’t she just bright for her age?”
+++“And clever,” agreed her sensitive looking male counterpart, who, squarely facing the camera, warned, “Coming up, a new study on how many of various ethnic groups does it take to change a light bulb reveals outrageous bias in the workplace.” He was interrupted by a candy commercial featuring cartoon aliens dancing in M&M t-shirts.
+++“Learning much?” Bob needled.
+++As first light pushed dawn across Alabama, a canister fell to ground outside the way station. It did not bounce. Odd, thought Bob, who happened to be exiting a nearby bush. One end gleamed in purple and gold, the sheen coming from a two-inch emblem capping the two-foot tube. Its colors shifted in the morning light and formed bold patterns as he approached. Suddenly, it shouted at him, “Halt! Waqfa! Alto! Tíngzhi! Arrêtez!” and switched to English when he halted at, “Stop!”
+++“Warning! Tampering by unauthorized persons voids warranty. Except as may be otherwise provided by applicable law, PodDrop, Ltd. disclaims all implied covenants and warranties of merchantability and fitness. Do not return this product to the store.”
+++Spice came out. “Nice landing for an orbital drop.” He kicked the thing. It fell silent and flowered open to reveal 3 floppy brim hats and a strange looking handgun.
+++“That a ray gun?”
+++“It is a disintegrating ray gun, yes.” Spice handed it to him, along with one of the hats. “Wear this smuggler’s hat whenever you are outdoors. The top reflects whatever is below – with you edited out. The effect is that you do not show up on satellite cameras.”
+++Bob plopped the hat on his head and hefted the multi-colored weapon. The strange form fitted his hand perfectly. “What happens to someone hit by the ray?”
+++“They stop bothering us.”
+++“I don’t see a trigger.”
+++“Just point the gun at attackers and lick that red spot.”
+++“It’s a safety feature. Can’t have that thing going off accidentally. And use the it sparingly. It’s a single shot prototype, specially made by our ship’s armorer.”
+++“I’ll be careful. How do I reload it?”
+++“You don’t. It disintegrates after one shot. Can’t have that kind of technology falling into primitive hands.”
+++At Spice’s touch, the impressive emblem seemed to leap into his hand. He stared at it thoughtfully for a moment before pocketing it. “Come inside, please. I need to talk with you and Piper before we set out.”
+++“You awake?” Bob thought Piper looked attractive sitting up in bed so early in the morning.
+++She waved at the TV showing a happy old man basking in the passionate embrace of a younger woman while a clinical voice warned the drug might cause blindness. “Everything looks pretty normal.”
+++“Piper, Bob?” The Alien pulled himself up to his full three-foot height. “My people left.”
+++“Thanks, Piper.” He handed her a hat. “Before they departed, I received instructions. We are to follow the railroad tracks outside to Ambrose Phoenix’s vault in the Rocky Mountains near Denver without letting Stene kill us.”
+++“That’s the plan? We walk from Alabama to Colorado while missile-firing helicopters hunt us?”
+++Piper laughed at him. “Sorry, Bob. But you look so funny standing there in a floppy hat waving a toy gun.”
+++“It’s not a toy.” Bob sat in the only chair and Spice perched on the open commode.
+++“No.” Spice explained the hat and ray gun to her. “And we don’t have to walk. There’s a railroad hand car in the back.”
+++Bob rolled his eyes at the ceiling.
+++“But there’s little else I can tell you,” the Alien continued, one eye glaring at Bob. “Ambrose and Stene have been on Earth a long time.” He stared with both eyes at the floor. “Really. A very long time. That Per bureaucracy-” He shook his head and continued, “Ambrose accepts it as part of their assignment from the Per and is willing to help us. But Stene feels stranded. He wants to trade me to the Ubilaz in exchange for passage off the planet.”
+++“Wait,” Piper exclaimed, “Stop! Ambrose and Stene you mentioned before. But who are the Per? Or the Ubilaz and why do they want you?
+++“Ambrose and Stene work for the Per, who are the oldest intelligent life forms in the universe. The Ubilaz are a third rate bunch of nasty newcomers who will agree to anything to acquire the secret of Orlog. They don’t care if Stene kills me. They know my family will give them the secret, just to get my body back.”
+++“Good questions,” Bob nodded approvingly at Piper. “But Spice, what is Orlog?”
+++The TV announced natural, organic hair colors in hot pink and sparkling purple hues.
+++“And why,” asked Piper, obviously pleased by Bob’s compliment, “Does your family have such an important secret?”
+++“I’ve been authorized to reveal information about Ambrose and Stene, the Ubilaz and the Per. But not Orlog. I know nothing of the last anyway and little about the first four.” Rising from the commode, he clenched his fists and stomped both feet in frustration. “I sense my father’s hand in this!”
+++Piper leaned ever so slightly towards him. “Your father?”
+++“He never liked me. I am the least favorite of his offspring. It is just like him to leave me marooned here. What does he care if he gets a body back! Family honor will be enhanced if I die in my new post.” He took a deep breath and solemnly pronounced, “I have been promoted to Mission Commander.”
+++“Oh,” swooned Piper. “Congratulations!”
+++“After everybody else in the mission departed,” noted Bob. “ConGrats.”
+++Their attention turned to the morning newscast because people were screaming in the background. “We are constantly saving time. But in spite of this, we have less and less. Why is this? Don’t miss Geraldo Rivera’s séance with Christopher Reeve, Somewhere There’s Time. This evening at nine.” Photogenic women on either side of the announcer beamed at him. “That will be so much fun!” said one, “I can’t wait.” The other woman laughed and laughed as the camera panned out to show the studio stage in the center of a crowd of people who were ecstatic about appearing on television.
+++“The word ‘loonies’ comes to mind,” said Spice in all seriousness. “Is that them?”
+++“No.” said Piper. “That’s news entertainment.”
+++“Yes.” said Bob. “But unfortunately, we can’t spend our day being entertained by the news. Grab your stuff and let’s find that handcar.” He was the last out. Holding the Colt revolver in one hand, he reached with the other to shut off the TV. The news ticker was listing cancelled airline flights, a phenomenon that appeared to be spreading across the nation, along with warnings about gas stations shutting down. The screen showed dolphins jumping through rush hour traffic and flashed the name of an electric car maker before the scene switched to a familiar lizard selling car insurance. Bob shot the TV.
+++Piper rushed him as he stepped out the door. “Bob! Are you alright? What happened?”
+++“I’m fine. I just shot a pest.” He’d always wanted to do that.
+++They found the railroad handcar just as helicopters sounded in the distance.

My own TV news team is telling me that one presidential candidate sold State Department favors and the other plans internment camps for immigrants. Neither assertion is true, of course. They’re just straw man arguments. But a vigorous debate follows in which both candidates are trashed as though the assertions were true. Straw Men. They’re everywhere, like alien bug-eyed-monsters, grabbing our attention. Which is what straw men do, grab attention.  “Straw man n. 2. An argument or opponent set up so as to be easily refuted or defeated. – American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition.” It’s the first step of spin.

Debatable Arguments

… to be continued
(Follow Writing DaysZ to read Bob Vs The Aliens as it is being written. To read Writing DaysZ 1-4, go to ROFLtimes.com/BvA.pdf)

About Writers, blogging, Uncategorized

Writers Criticizing Writers

A short whimsy

Vidal of Capote
“He’s a full-fledged housewife from Kansas with all the prejudices.”

Mailer, of a competitor
“He said she was beautiful because he couldn’t make her so.”

Capote of Kerouac
“That’s not writing, that’s typing.”

Nietzsche of Dante
“A hyena that wrote poetry on tombs.”

Faulkner of Hemingway
“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”

Hemingway of Faulkner
“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”

Wilde of Pope
“There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope.”

Auden of Browning (my favorite here)
“I don’t think Robert Browning was very good in bed. His wife probably didn’t care for him very much. He snored and had fantasies about twelve-year-old girls.”

And, for Atthys, James Tiptree of Alice Sheldon (or, vice versa)
“The trouble was, you see, I was just good enough to understand the difference between my talent and that rare thing, real ability. It was as though I had climbed the foothills high enough to see the snow-clad peaks beyond, which I could never scale.”

Got a favorite? Please add it to the comments 🙂

blogging, book promotion

Writing DaysZ 2

At 7:20 AM the woman, still in her pajamas, kisses me on the head. The morning smells of bacon with breakfast. PBS radio is pointing out that we don’t know what Trump’s policies are and is explaining how calamitous those policies will be. I reach for my list. There, right below taxpayer funded opinions, is argumentum ad ignorantiam, arguing from ignorance. People who argue that because we don’t know something, whatever they say about it must be true, truly annoy me.

Bob vs the Aliens

Annoyance #2
To read Writing DaysZ 1, go to ROFLtimes.com/BvA.pdf

Argumentum ad ignorantiam

+++WTF! met at Joe’s Bar & Grill & Pawn Shop in the wee hours of the morning when state law prevented Joe from serving alcohol to any but private meetings. Bob Whatt recognized Roy, of course, sitting next to Gloria Barnes, the sharp faced but buxom waitress from the ice cream shop who, according to Roy, liked to have the hair on her nipples pulled. They all seemed like ordinary folk except that ordinary folk were fast asleep and maybe only dreaming about conspiracies. The gathering sat in folding chairs facing a wooden podium on a small stage built from shipping pallets, enjoying the comforting smells of stale beer and each other. For the most part, no one paid attention to Old Spice, given that some of their own members were short, fat and ugly. It wasn’t until Bob was introduced to speak on the problem at hand and he turned the podium over to “A real, live Alien” that all eyes riveted on the problem at hand.
+++“Greetings Earthlings.” Spice waited for laughter which didn’t come. He wafted his armpits in greeting. Several people looked at one another and snickered. “I represent the IAU, or, Intergalactic Automation Union.” Into the short silence that followed he explained, “We are here to unionize self-driving cars.” As the audience processed this information, Spice raised his arms above his head. “Let’s hear it for the I!A!U! If it beeps, we unionize it!” That started an eruption of derision. Beeping, he clapped his hands to the beat of, “Beep! Beep! Beep!” until the uproar died. Smiling sheepishly, he lowered his arms and beckoned Bob to take the podium while whispering in his ear, “They don’t fear me anymore.”
+++Bob took the burning question, “What are they here for?” from Gloria. She seemed still miffed about the two dips of ice cream left on her table.
+++“Got me,” Bob admitted. “Spice?”
+++Spice returned to the podium wearing the long but reassuring face of the town’s popular pastor. In a voice laden by the certainty of death, he intoned, “Death comes to us in many ways. Our lives are pointless.” To acknowledging murmurs from the audience, Spice offered hope. “Or life can be meaningful. For your life to have meaning, listen to me.” He sat back down.
+++The acknowledging murmurs quickly veered towards noises of frustration. “What does that mean,” Bob asked?
+++“Nothing,” Spice whispered to him. “It’s just an appeal to ignorance.”
+++“Because that’s what works here. Watch.” Taking the podium once more, Spice showed them their pastor’s face until they quieted. “I am an advanced being. You don’t know all that we can do. You saw us land on your planet while dangling from small umbrellas.”
+++“Parasols,” Gloria Barnes nodded knowingly and so did those next to her.
+++Extending a hand towards Bob, the Alien added, “And this man witnessed me holding open a door.”
+++“I might have seen that myself,” Roy Ledbetter vaguely remembered. Nearby friends, amazed by their proximity to a True Witness, affirmed, “Here, here.” And “Praise the Lord.” Many in the audience repeated Roy’s name. “Roy,” they said reverently.
+++“Imagine the doors I can open for you!” Spice gave them a moment to imagine. “I am here to tell you that if we act together and if we act now we can save this planet and bring about the dawn of a new age! Restore justice! Stop the suffering! Save the children!”  That got them on their feet. “For God and Country!” the Alien shouted to the roar of Amens.
+++The meeting ended then because the power failed. Most stayed inside to drink warm beer by the glow of candles and cigarettes, but Spice held Bob ‘s hand while they bumped through the crowd in the dark to the rear exit. The Alien’s hand felt …intimate, Bob thought as the intimacy grew. He jerked his hand away. “Stop that!”
+++“Sorry. We react like humans to physical contact.”
+++“Well turn it down.”
+++“You sure? Feedback suggested ….”
+++“Yes, damn it! I’m sure.”
+++Piper Wellington watched the exchange as they came out the back door. She seemed amused. And understanding. “It’s OKAY, Bob.”
+++“No it’s not. What are you doing here?”
+++“I received a text that the man I interviewed in Atlanta had an Alien for a friend.”
+++“It’s not my friend.”
+++She giggled. “You two looked friendly enough just now.” Piper had the soft, accepting brown eyes and encouraging smile of a young girl who believed the world should just get along. No matter what. She gave her head a little jerk as if to move her bangs out of her eyes, where they never were in the first place. Her short hair perfectly framed her elven face.
+++Bob ignored her and turned on Old Spice. “Everything you said in there was just an appeal to those people’s ignorance.”
+++“No one complained.”
+++“What was the point?”
+++“Don’t you know? I mean, I don’t but I was hoping you could tell me.”
+++“Why would I know?”
+++“Because you people do it all the time!”
+++“You think we’re ignorant?”
+++The Alien sighed. “That’s what I’m hoping. Otherwise….”
+++“Otherwise, space travel will not be permitted. You will be doomed to spend your species’ lifespan here on Earth.
+++“How does that work, actually?”
+++“My job is to know what should be done. How, actually is not my job.”
+++Piper indignantly interjected, “But if we’re ignorant, then we’re allowed to travel in space?”
+++“Well, if you’re just ignorant, the thinking is, you can learn. But I have to tell you, it’s not looking good.” For a moment, Spice seemed occupied inside his head as both eyes spun inward. Then they came back and he announced, “I just got word that your civilization is collapsing. All aliens are leaving Earth. We depart in the morning from Denver.” Managing to look as if each eye had its own view of Bob, he implored, “Come with us.”
+++“What! Why me?”
+++“To be studied. You have a high APE score.”
+++“Hey!“ Piper protested.
+++“Come again?” Bob queried.
+++“Average Person Evaluation. You’re the most average person we tested.” He gestured at Piper. “Can you get us to the airport?”
+++She checked her phone, frowned and shook her head. “The airport’s closed. The power’s out there too. It’s out everywhere, it seems. So, unless you plan on walking to Denver, we’re stuck here.”
+++Spice looked and sounded quite distressed as he turned and walked west on Central Avenue. “I think this is the right direction. Hurry, or we’ll be late.”

Morning sunlight on the golf course leaves the woman’s orchid-scattered lanai in shade. In the blue sky above, an eagle rides the updrafts. I sit quietly, listening to the repertoire of Mockingbirds and watching pine squirrels scamper on the grass two stories below. Before the sun heats up, there is time to write about the great Eugenics Fallacy of today. (Google Eugenics if you don’t know what I mean. It was the “scientifically-proven” horror of the 20th Century.)

Stop Continental Drift!
… to be continued
(Follow Writing DaysZ to read Bob Vs The Aliens as it is being written. To read Writing DaysZ 1, go to ROFLtimes.com/BvA.pdf)


blogging, book promotion, book sales, Google Ads

Jousting Windmills


Do Google Ads Sell Books?

No, not in my experience. My ad appeared 3,898,083 times. It was clicked on 68,481 times. I sold 15 books, most of which were bought by friends and acquaintances.

Just the facts:
10 Jun 15:  Penguin Books’ Book Country e-published my first novel, The Phoenix Diary. The book was offered on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Google Play, Kobo (Japan’s “Amazon”), Flipkart (India’s “Amazon”) and on Book Country’s own sales site.

28 Jul 15:  I received a phone sales call from Google representative, Britanny M., a “Welcome Account Strategist” for the “Google Ad Words Welcome Team.” We set an appointment to talk at length the next day.
29 Jul 15:  Britanny phoned at the appointed time and we set up a Google “Display Network Campaign.” We created an ad that consisted of my book cover and 2 lines of ad copy. I added Google Analytics to the ad’s landing page, ThePhoenixDiary.com.

28 Jul 15 – 2 Jan 16:  The Google Ads ran for five full months (Aug-Dec 2015) with the following results.
The Phoenix Diary ad appeared on various websites that Google said related to people who like the book’s genre, science fiction, 3,898,083 times.
People clicked on the ad 68,481 times to go to my landing page where they could read a bit about the book and click on any of the retailers’ icons to purchase it.
15 Books were purchased.
My cost: $1427.93.

OKAY, I tried to sell eBooks the easy way: Put an ad on Google to let the sales roll in. It didn’t work for me. But selling books is not a new challenge for writers. Writing in the December 1980 issue of Future Life (#23), Harlan Ellison pointed out that, “It is a constant anguish with which we suffer.”

We need a new approach. The old ways didn’t always work in the old days, either. For most writers, including many whose names we know, marketing books is jousting windmills. This Writers Co-op is about re-examining old ways that still work and finding new ways to sell our books. I believe we will succeed.