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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Should FREE Books get good reviews?

I saw this on one of Amazon's Discussion boards yesterday. 

YES they should get reviews, but people need to be honest in reviewing the books.  If the book engaged you, was interesting, if you enjoyed it, then write a good, warm, glowing review of the book.  If on the other hand the book was unmitigated crap and even though it was free you felt it was an utter waste of your time and you couldn't get past the third chapter, then go back to where you got it and review it honestly.  If I get a bad review I am going to pay attention to that and spend more time working on perfecting my craft of writing, editing, and polishing the next book to make it better.  I do that anyway, because I want to be a Great Writer.  I want the day to come where Agents are calling me asking if I will give them a chance with my next series to get my books traditionally published.  I realize this ranks right up there with all the thousands of valet parking attendants, waiters and waitresses in LA expecting the talent scout to pick them up for the starring role in Ron Howards next block buster movie.  Probably not going to happen!

Self publishing gives everybody a level playing field to get noticed and to have their masterpiece put out in the world in an ever growing environment to be read by the general world public.  Their work will, as I have said before, live or die by word of mouth or in today's world by book reviews from those who have read it.  I feel in this digital age it is up to the reading community to definitely start participating in reviewing and grading the material they read.  All of it!  If it was good, tell the world.  If it was crap, tell the world.  Be honest!  It is the only way of helping sift through the tons of crap out there.  The public is taking the place of literary agents and editors of large publishing houses by their reviewing and grading self published authors.

If another word was never written by another author from today till the end of time, there is enough stuff published to read for your entire life and you still could not read all there is to read.  So readers need to be stingy with their reading time and read what they enjoy.  Read what they feel they get something out of.  When they are paying for it they need to be stingier because now they are investing their money and their time in this piece of literary work.  The way to help determine what you want to read is by seeing what other people are reading and what they thought about the work, before you buy it.  When I am shopping for books, I look for books with really good reviews, or ones with really terrible reviews.  I totally ignore the 2 to 3 star, blah, blah, blah books.  My time is too important.  Why read the really bad ones?  Was it really bad or just controversial and rubbed people the wrong way?  I tend to lean towards the controversial ones they upset readers because it opens up new avenues of thought for me.

One final note is that I keep reading about self published authors who rush their stuff through to get their next book on the market, and do not spend the time to polish their work, edit it properly, and work to improve their skill as a writer.  As writers, I believe, self published or not we need to be held to the same standards or higher than the people who are traditionally published or we should not be doing it.  Here is the catch, if you're self published and nobody is noticing, or buying your stuff and all you get is bad reviews, maybe you shouldn't be writing.  If you're writing and stories are good, people will read it, buy it, and support you with good reviews and positive word of mouth. PERIOD.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cold Enough ?

Have you ever heard the expression? "Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass Monkey."

It is a Nautical expression from back in the days when they used cannons that fired solid round metal cannon balls.  In order to keep the balls from rolling around the deck and breaking peoples ankles, they would tack a brass ring to the deck which was called a 'Monkey'.  When it would get really cold the monkey would shrink (Physics).  The monkey was big enough to hold three cannon balls inside it and they could stack a fourth on top of the three so there would be four cannon balls beside each cannon, ready to go all the time.  When the monkey shrunk the three balls on the bottom would slip out dropping the fourth and you would have loose cannon balls rolling around the deck.  That would produce a very dangerous situation on a gun deck or below the deck near open hatchways.  So when it got cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey, it was pretty dang cold, and a dangerous situation. 

If you have never heard the expression now you have.  If you have heard it, this is what it means and where it originated from. 

Monday, February 21, 2011


This is an experiment with how search engines and blogs work.  I have an average of two page views a day and I have one follower, Phillip Woody, my best friend and most faithful fan of my work.  He gets alerted every time I post a blog because he is signed up as a follower and then I am sure he checks to see what I may be blogging about today.  People who know me personally know that I am given to Rants (Ranting and Raving) about some new thing that I have some strong opinion about.  My daughter enjoys bringing up particular subject matter just to throw me into a rant so she watch for her personal enjoyment.  Yet I get distracted again.

The Experiment!  I have had a few spikes in views to my blog over the last month but have no idea what caused them.  I know the more people who view my blog raises it in the catch abilty of the search engines and makes it easier for people to stumble across.  So from time to time I will be doing tests or experiments to see what drives this mechanism and try and figure out how this works.  If you were actually looking for naked pictures you would not still be reading this and would have clicked to somewhere else by now realizing that there were no naked pictures here.  I will not be posting any sort of pornography on my blog.  Sorry for those of you who are searching for that, the good news is there are tons of other places on the net you can go and find what you are looking for.  I am curious to see if the number of hits my Blog gets today becomes an all time high number.  It will actually be quite sad if that is the case. 

If you happen to be somebody who knows me or somebody I go to church with welcome to my blog, and I pray the title of today's blog is not what brought you here today.  If you happen to be reading this on any other day than February 21, 2011 and just catching up on what you have missed from me, it's an experiment!  In subsequent blogs I will let you all know how this turned out.  I have a sneaking suspicion that I will for today only get more unwittingly more hits on my sight than I ever have.  I hope honestly I look tomorrow or later today and it is the usual two or at most ten hits to my blog and I can chock this one up to just a day of partial insanity left over from a weekend of too much laundry and two sick kids.

I promise later there will be some good stuff about writing, books, and some interesting stuff here.  But for today HA, HA, just playing with the system.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Priceing your Masterpiece

What to Charge for your Masterpiece!
It seems to me that too many people are way to desperate to be noticed.  The pricing of E-books at 99 cents or worse for free is not helping the e-publishing business, in my opinion.

Established Authors are selling routinely on Amazon dot com at $9.99.  I think that is extremely reasonable. 
A) A new Hard cover book is going to run you from $12.00 - $30.00 on the average.
B) A paperback book usually runs $5.99 to $9.99 on the average.

I believe that E-books should be substantially less than traditional books, especially since there are no real materials being consumed to make the book available and delivered to the customer.  On the flip side of that,  a established author with a loyal following can command a higher price for their newest offering into the market for a while and then by supply and demand it should fall to where the rest of the market is at around $9.99 per book.

This idea that to get established and get out in the market you have to give your book away for free is going to hurt the Independent Authors in the long term.  Granted as I have stated in previous blogs not everybody who is writing and publishing books should be doing so.  The whole process of self publishing puts the selection process and outcome of a authors success in the hands of the reading public to decide by their choices of what to spend their money on and take the time to read.  I highly suggest pricing between $2.99 and $6.99, lower for lesser known authors and higher for better known authors.  I pry someday in a few years many of us will be very well known and all pulling down $9.99 per book.  In the mean time don’t be in such a mad rush to give your work away.  Best wishs and continue writing.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Publishing Revolution

If you go back several hundred years ago, and you wanted a book you would a) have to write it or b) go to a bookseller and buy a hand written copy of a book.  Scribes would work copying books their entire lives, this is a profession that dates way back.

Then along came the printing press in it's various forms.  Today we are seeing a revolution in publishing that has not been seen since the first days of printing.  Between the printing press, and pioneers like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and countless others who inspired and opened up avenues for the printed words and the spreading of ideas, thoughts and opinions faster than ever before in history.

Since the early days of writing up to the advent of the computers and the Internet the publishing industry grew and flourished and entrenched itself in the ways of getting published.  Agents, query letters, editors, publishers, subsidiary publishing, and the many other forms grew to become the giants in a multi-billion dollar industry and they held all the keys and chips.  Why shouldn't they?  There are so many more people on the earth today and more than ought to desire more than anything to become a published author. 

Let's face reality for a moment.  Everybody has a story!  If even a small portion of the population takes the time to record the story in some fashion, that still adds up to a huge amount.  There are only so many publishers, printing presses, editors, agents, and viable means to get your story into print.  It takes massive persistence, LUCK, timing, getting your story to the right person to even be noticed among the tidal wave of stories, possible books, and people dreams.  I hate to think of the literary works of genius the world has missed because of missed opportunity, bad timing, etc.  One thing is for certain, of the mounds of crap the age old process shifts through they do find a produce some real gems and make some authors look pretty amazing, which only helps to fuel the desire of the masses to join their ranks.

Now for the first time since the invention of the Printing Press a new Revolution is taking shape in several stages simultaneously.
1.  Anyone can publish almost anything for free with e-publishing.
2.  For the first time since the Tower of Babel incident can the entire world communicate - if you have a computer!  We didn't reinvent a common language as the earth had at one time, but the Internet lets you chat, E-mail, share ideas and communicate across the language barrier that has existed for centuries with out having to learn multiple languages yourself.

This is the amazing part of this Revolution.  The reading public gets to play the roles of agent, editor, and decide who will be the next literary greats and who will remain in obscurity.  Of all the books that are out there available for downloading pieces for the public to sample most are crap, I know I am a major contributor to the new published crap.  As I continue to write and get better at it, as I gain notoriety, sales, and hopefully a reputation as a good writer it will ultimately be the public who determines whether I become a success as a writer or wallow in obscurity.  To my fellow Indie Authors (Independent Authors) best of luck, keep at learning and improving your craft.  We will  rise or fall, based off our merits and skills at turning a decent tale and the most polished work we can produce.  I still firmly believe that every great book makes it or not based off of word of mouth.  Of course the Holy Grail of word of mouth is from Oprah's book club, but she is bigger than Face Book and Amazon combined. 

To the Traditional Publishing world, the largest of tempests announces itself a simple breeze.  The wind is blowing, and times are changing.  There will be a market for traditional books for years to come.  I do still dream of getting traditionally published someday in the future, but it will be with a following of loyal readers and a new smash hit series of books.  If they are decent and cooperative I may let them traditionally publish some of my previous E-books.  The times are changing.  I see a day when agents have to entice authors to get their business.  When authors get famous and notoriety before they get traditionally published.  Unfortunately the reading public is now going to be the recipients of tons of trash to sift through in trying to find the next up and coming great authors.  The upside is the price of want to be noticed seems to have dropped to free or 99 cents.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Book Club

I belong to a book club and it is fantastic.  There are seven of us, who meet once a month to discuss the current book we have decided to read.  When we meet, we discuss different aspects of the book.  We decide on future books for upcoming months, and decide on the dates we will meet.

1.  Keep your group small and Manageable.
2.  Keep it simple.  The the book.  Pick another book.  Decide on next meeting day.
3.  Be open and diplomatic about the choices of books you choose to read.

Over the years we have hit upon some real gems and discovered some very talented authors.
The only draw back I have found is once you have read several awesome books in a row, it is hard for average books to measure to what you have been reading.

I am toying around with how to run or host a e-book club and do it through a discussion on one night during a month.  Having people vote for or suggest books to read.  Discuss the book on a predetermined night the next month.  Choose the book for the next month.  If anybody reads this comment about it or send me an e-mail at

Monday, February 14, 2011


E-Published on Amazon - showed up Saturday, had to make minor changes and re-submit, fixed version showed up Monday.

Finally heard back on Manual Review from Smashwords.
Cover art needed cropped and re downloaded.
Had to take the quotes off from around Title.
Had to take out indents and use center function on cover page.
Some what minor changes compared to all that could have been wrong with it.  I have to wait for it to be reconverted and then re-submit to manual review and wait again.
Still way faster than traditional publishing.  With traditional publishing I would be fighting with query letters and trying to figure out which agents trash cans I want to line those with.

Since I began trying to build a social network to spread the word that I wrote a book and asking people to read it for free and write a review of it.
1.  I spend most of my evening time checking face book, e-mails, twitter, etc. trying to be social.
2.  So my wife got me an IPhone which will coordinate all of these functions so I can stay up with them through the day so at night I can get to work and edit, or write.
3.  I have realized I am not a naturally social person, unless of course it is a total stranger and I can speak up to anyone.  To people I know and people who think they know me, well not so much... That's really kind of funny.  I am amazed at my new phone, miss my old keyboard, this one has a digital keyboard and I spend more time backing up than typing on the phone.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Published on Amazon dot com

My book is on Amazon dot com at the follow address
Search for Whisper by Thomas Wilson

It comes up displaying: By Thomas Wilson and Lavon Blake, because I listed Lavon Blake as my editor.  Also the cover art looks stretched and too long even though I made it exactly to Amazon's criteria of 500x1200 pixels.  Next time I will use the same Cover Art format I used for Smashwords.  The important thing is it isn't pretty or perfect but it is out there for the world to see, try, download, read and hopefully begin a loyal following.  I need to see if I can adjust the cover art and get my editors name off the: By part without totally un-publishing and republishing the book.

Again this is a process, and I am learning.  Not the most exciting Blog Post in the world but hopefully some new author somewhere reads this before they make these initial steps and it helps them with knowledge, understanding and courage to make the leap.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Hate Nicholas Sparks

I am part of the greatest book club ever!  We all bring up ideas for interesting books to read and then we decide as a group what books we will read and then discuss for upcoming months.  If you love to read and you're not in a book club I highly suggest you find one or create one.  One of the benefits in being part of a book club is you will be introduced to books you would never normally pick up and read.  The book club got me to read my first Nicholas Sparks book, "True Believer", which honestly I thought was a fantastic book.  I really enjoyed it.  When I found out there was a sequel to it, "At First Sight", I rushed right out and picked it up.  I finished the book on a Friday and had the feeling of just losing a loved one in a car accident right in front of my eyes.  I felt horrible when I finished that book, and that sparked my hatred of Sparks!

Since then I have been coerced by the ladies of my book club to read other Nicholas Sparks books, under protest, mind you.  Through these books Nicholas Sparks creates wonderful settings, rich characters, great plot and suspense, and his is awesome with how people fall in love with each other.  Then he always kills somebody, usually the wrong and last person you want to see die, and rips your heart out of your chest. 

Now some people might like this feeling and have the ability to go through half a box of Kleenex's and feel cleansed and better after word.  As an old school male that was brought up believing that real men don't cry and show their emotions and all that crap.  I don't agree with the way I am, but I am that way.  The feeling I get is stifling, upset, pissed off, and that if I went and vomited it still would not make me feel any better.  I for the life of me cannot understand why he writes that way and further more why some people enjoy reading such depressing stuff. 

It isn't the killing of people that bothers me.  I read James Rollins and he kills people all the time, just not the ones he has invested in and gotten you to fall in love with.  In one of his books he took out a main character 'Monk' and I wasn't distraught when I finished the book, and in his next book the rest of the crew manage to find 'Monk' and Mr. Rollins brought him back from the dead.  One of the reasons I am a writer is because you can do magical stuff like that.

So the reason for this Blog was not to trash the wonderfully talented, way more successful, Mr. Nicholas Sparks, but to explain my feelings for his work and set up for the main reason of my blog.  As a newly published author who is just budding in the industry, I am of course interested in ways of improving at my new love and craft of writing.  So I subscribed to "Writer's Digest", a magazine for Authors.  It covers all different aspects of writing, publishing and cram packed with tidbits and jewels to make you a better writer.  I subscribed to it in early January when I was opening a bank account for my book endeavors, getting my new computer, and purchasing a copy of the newest version of Micro-soft Word.  I received my first copy in the mail Wednesday, the February 2011 Issue.  I was so excited to look at it and begin reading the articles and had to wait until I got "Whisper" uploaded to Amazon dot com to even look at it.  Guess Who is on the cover of the Magazine for February?!  My favorite author Nicholas Sparks!!!  I am excited to read all of it, even what Mr. Sparks has contributed, because he is a gifted author, even if I don't appreciate all of his excellent stories.

Downloaded "Whisper" to Amazon

Ok, so I am slow.  I never claimed to be the sharpest crayon in the box, and I am not.  I published my first novel on Smashwords dot com almost two weeks ago.  I thought it would end up on Amazon's web site along with the other places it will eventually end up on once it gets past the Manual Review and hopefully accepted into their Premium Catalog.  Well, I was mistaken.  It took a while reading through the questions and answers section on their site to figure out what people (other authors) are doing is publishing on Amazon and on Smashwords.

So after this realization hit me midway through yesterday, last night when I got home I took the Smashwords stuff off my cover art, re-sized it to Amazons specifications.  Took the Smashwords stuff off of the copyright page, and went through adding page breaks at the end of each chapter.
Then I walked myself through the downloading process to publish my story on Amazon.  Pretty painless after the experience I gained from getting my story ready for Smashwords.  I made sure I used the file that I corrected three times, and re downloaded to Smashwords three times, after it was initially published with them. 

It is a process and learning experience.  For my next book "No Rules of Engagement", I know what I need to do to both versions to get them ready for E-Publishing.  I will publish it on both sites on the same day when I publish it.  I have learned a lot about formatting word documents, re-sizing J-Peg art work, and publishing in just the last two weeks.  I will be better prepared when I finish editing my second book.  The unfortunate part is I have not written a single word on book three (the Sequel to Whisper) in the last two weeks.  I need to find a way to split what time I have to write into editing and writing so that neither suffers and both progress at least a little bit every day.  

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dealing With Things

This will be a short Post, about a trait I hope to instill to my followers.
Dealing with things . . .  I see too often people avoiding problems, side stepping, procrastinating, deferring, robbing Peter to pay Paul.  It comes in as many forms as excuses.  I learned sometime ago to handle things as they arrive.  Solve problems as they present themselves.  Eventually even be pro-active and look for problems before they rear their heads and take action to deal with them on your terms, in your time.  Run your life, don't let it run you.
The people who avoid problems don't realize that they will still be there until you deal with them.  The people who avoid problems will stumble or get caught on a problem and the days, weeks, and months of avoided problems come crashing down on them and they feel over whelmed.  You have to dig your way out of it, problem by problem until you get them all handled and then shift into the proactive part.  Solving tomorrows problems today and next weeks problems tomorrow.  This can transform your entire life if your not currently doing it.I heard this from some movie and it fits exactly, "The only problem is there is no problem!"
Start looking for problems, embrace them, solve them, deal with them head on.  You have to do it sooner or later so do it now, don't bother worrying about it, don't waste the stress, solve it, deal with it and then go find another.  When you run out of problems then get busy doing that little bit today to work on your dream.
Happy Problem Hunting . . .

Friday, February 4, 2011

Back to Normal

I have to admit I was on about a week and a half natural high after publishing my first book.  The last time I had such an extended feeling of elation such as that was the week after white water rafted the Royal Gorge in Colorado.  The we had the blizzard of 2011, OK, survived it, and now it is back to normal.  The elation is gone and it is back to work moving tires during the day and editing or writing in the evenings.

I can't imagine what it must be like if I had not had the option of E-publishing.  If I was stuck now writing query letters to agents trying to get noticed in the flood of want to be published writers.  Even being published I have had 11 partial downloads of my book, 20 copies downloaded that I gave away to get people to read my work and help spread the word, and two actual sales.  Not a stellar leap into stardom of being a published author.  I don't know if I could survive months of mailing people letters just trying to get somebody to try my book.

Anyway, I started reading a great book, "The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy" by Jon Gordon.  Awesome book with useful information that you can apply and use immediately everyday.  It has really helped me stay focused and lightened my spirits through all the emotions, work and trials I have been through in the last two months to bring all this together.  I hope I remember to get another one of Jon Gordon's books and start reading it before I publish my second book.

Back to normal, the place where we all live day to day.  This is the place where the true magic happens if you let it.  Doing the things you have to do daily.  Doing a little bit everyday to work towards your dreams.  Enjoy your day to day life, because this is the journey, the success, not some distant goal your working to achieve.  Take time to smell the roses, enjoy the sunrises, and sunsets, your loved ones, and your friends.  Be inspired and make your work, play and life exquisite, perfect, and awesome.  Have fun, and suck the marrow out of life and live and love like you have nothing to lose, so when you're old you have absolutely no regrets about how you lived your life.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

More than Plot

How you tell it.
A story is not so much what you tell as it is how you tell it.  Obviously there is a huge difference between a story and a good story.  Then once in a while you run across the elusive great story.  There are many good stories out there that have the potential of sliding over to the category of a great story just by rearranging how the story is told.   As I am not an expert at writing great stories yet, I know one when I am reading one. 
Elements of the Great Story.
1.  Incredible Plot – good planning and execution from beginning to end with all loose ends tied up by the ending.
2.  Mini climaxes timed to coincide with the breaks in the story, right at the end of chapters so you don't want to stop at the end of this chapter but keep going.  Or you can't wait to get back to it because you had to stop at a mini climax at the end of a chapter.
3.  Do not over explain it, over describe it, or lay it in the readers lap.  They are not idiots; the people who read books are intelligent and can figure things out on their own.  Give them just enough information as needed and roll on.  Sprinkle the bread crumbs and let them find their own way through your story.
4.  Generally the stories the leave the greatest impact on me are the ones that sneak something in on you.  Either a surprise ending, a understanding of a puzzling development that as you read the end of the story allows all the dominoes to fall and pieces to fit together.  It reveals the picture of the puzzle you have been endeavoring to solve as you read the entire book.  There should be little discoveries throughout the book but the end piece should make you go WOW.
5.  Books that take me somewhere I have never been before, show some new piece of technology, some new vehicle, some foreign country, exotic place, or something entirely new.

One of my favorite authors once said you should go to a book store and then write the book that you can't find sitting on the shelf.  Write about the things you cannot find there.

A couple of examples of great stories are that movie where the kid is seeing the psychiatrist because he sees dead people and then you find out at the end of the story the doctor is dead also.  The other one is, "The Forgotten Garden" by Kate Morton.  This story is excellently told with giving you just enough information as needed, allowing little discoveries along the way.  It spans the life of three to four generations of women in a family with a brilliantly spun plot.  Another of my favorites is "Flight Of Eagles" by Jack Higgins, it starts with a stuffed bear wearing a flying jacket that has World War I and World War II flying medals attached to the jacket.  Excellent plot and example of the proper way to tell a story.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blizzard Hits Midwest

Snow Day
I have worked for Community Wholesale Tire for nineteen and a half years and I can count on two hands how many times we have cancelled routes due to weather.  Today we are making history because we are essentially shut down due to a blizzard!  We will be closed Wednesday February 2, 2011 because of snow, all routes cancelled.  ME and a few of the hard core regulars of Community Tire – Kansas City will come in tomorrow and finish clearing the loading dock to get ready for Thursday, and maybe set some racks up that we have been waiting on to get ahead of the ball. 

I will get some time to work on editing and writing.  I wanted to say a word about promoting.  My wife was watching a show on television with some doctors on it who were commenting on the crazy things people are doing to themselves to be ultra extreme and get hits on their You-tube videos.  One dumbass nailed his lip to a telephone pole and another one lit his hair on fire.  I was commenting to my greatest fan and best friend Phillip Woody that I cannot set my hair on fire as I am bald.   There is no way in hell I am nailing any part of my anatomy to anything to try and get attention to sell my books.  I have been a little distressed at how hard it is to get noticed and have people read and comment on my book.  No matter how funny it would be to see me nailed to a pole and saying 'Hey check out my new book.'  NOT HAPPENING! 

If you are reading this and haven't checked out my book and you happen to be in the Midwest and socked in due to snow, then check it out.
Drive careful if you have to get out.

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