Wednesday, October 29, 2014


An article from, which I read on my favorite blog, The Passive Voice, tried valiantly last week to counteract Matt Yglesias’s article stating that “Amazon is doing the world a favor by crushing book publishers.” It listed all the steps Big 5 publishers go through to produce a book, and insisted that the process is too difficult and expensive for self-publishers to do. Before the day was out, that was countered by at least 95 comments from self-publishers who are doing just that, and far cheaper - to say nothing of faster - than the big guys.

Publishers, the middlemen between writers and readers, were once the only game in town, so authors had no choice but to sign the one-sided contracts that gave authors only 15-17% of the profit from selling their books. Compare that to the 70% of the profit Amazon gives authors who self-publish with them.

Amazon didn’t start out to crush publishers. Jeff Bezos was looking for industries where technology could make a difference, and “books” was just one of the six he found. I suspect that, in the beginning, even he didn’t realize exactly how far behind the times publishers were. Little by little he improved life for writers, and, when, instead of following Amazon and making improvements, the industry’s answer was to dig in, to fight progress and to demonize Amazon, he continued to prove how modern  methods could change lives.

Now, just a few years later, the site offers statistics proving self-published authors (mostly through Amazon’s divisions) earn more money from their writing than all the traditionally published authors combined. Over 500 such authors have shared their stories that, for the first time, they can quit their day jobs and make a living selling their books.

How did Amazon do it? First with cheaper books, then with the Kindle e-reader, then its self-publishing program. Later they added their own publishing lines for every kind of book: romance, mystery, science fiction, children’s, young adults, textbooks.

Since then, they’ve added Kindle Worlds, where authors can write, and earn 35%, for stories based on popular “worlds” created by best-selling authors. Then came Kindle Unlimited, where readers can choose, for less than $10 a month, among thousands of books to borrow and read. Plus authors get paid for the “borrows.”

Now another program is starting. Kindle Scout gives authors an opportunity to be published, with a $1500 advance and the possibility of earning $25,000 in royalties, with no long-term commitment and the choice to leave the program at any time. The only requirement is submission of a never-before published book in one of the three most-popular genres, recommended by a group  of readers as something they think should be published.

In my opinion, all of these innovations give authors an opportunity they never had before: to write whatever they want, get their books in front of waiting readers, be paid fairly, and treated like the indispensable partner that they truly are. When many authors take advantage of all the ways Amazon provides, who would willingly go through the trouble of trying traditional publishers? Who will wait for months to learn if they’re accepted (99% are not accepted), then forced to give up most of the income from their creations, to give up control of titles, covers, and prices, often for their lifetime plus 70 years, and to be prevented from writing other books? When enough writers take advantage of Amazon’s programs, then, truly, big publishing will be crushed, because there will be no one left for them.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned Kindle Scout because I intend to submit a book and, if hundreds of other writers do the same thing, I’ll have more competition. But, unlike some of the one percent of trad-published authors, I don’t want to keep it all for myself. Like most Indie writers, I’m willing to share.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Recently a blog that I follow ran an article, “Nine of the Most Terrifying Two-Sentence Horror Stories ever Written,” presumably in honor of Halloween this month. I’ll share two with you:

* * *
“My sister says that Mommy killed her. Mommy says that I don’t have a sister.”

“‘I can’t sleep,’ she whispered, crawling into bed with me. I woke up cold, clutching the dress she was buried in.”
* * *

Frankly, I would never read a book or story that started that way. I admit it. I’m a scaredy-cat. I don’t like to be scared and I don’t read horror novels. I read one Stephen King book and that was enough to turn me off. Judging by his sales, plenty of other people like his work. Just. Not. Me.

Scary movies are worse than books. In fact, I think my phobia began when I was a child (not sure of my age at the time, maybe five) and my cousins took me to a movie theatre to see THE BLACK CAT, (though I might have the title wrong). If a film we rented on Netflix gets scary, I leave the room.

Since I’ve always been this way, I can’t blame it on my aging brain, but these days, I don’t even want to know the news. Isis decapitating people. Ebola spreading. Climate change. Who needs scary stories when real life gets worse by the day? While my husband reads all the newspaper articles, I read the Funnies page, Dear Abby and the Bridge column.

Perhaps this phobia is responsible for my writing romance, where every story must have a HEA (Happy Ever After) ending. True, I also write romantic suspense novels, but they’re mild and often have humor. They’re not “thrillers.” My favorite mystery novelist is Agatha Christie, and my two novels featuring my amateur sleuth (soon to be published, I hope) are definitely “cozy.”

When those books are available, I’ll let you know, so you’ll be warned, in case even “cozy” mysteries are too scary for you. Hey, trust me. I get it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Grammerly, a website that helps writers with grammar questions, recently did a survey of over 3000 writers and asked that question. 59% said women are the better writers.

Specifically, the results showed that in Plot Development, men are 55% more likely to get to the point quickly. Women, on the other hand, are 83% more likely to take longer and do more character development.

In the case of pronouns and determiners, men are more likely to write about people 56% of the time and about things 44% of the time. Women, on the other hand, write about people 68% of the time and about things only 32%.

Men and women writers are similar when it comes to writing about those characters. Men write about characters who are like themselves 54% of the time and about characters who are different only 46% of the time. Results for women are almost identical: 55% for similar and 45% for different.

Differences really show up when comparing writing styles. Men write long sentences only 34% of the time, and short sentences 66%. Women are the opposite. They write long, descriptive sentences 76% of the time and short ones only 24%.

Did the survey participants think longer sentences make women the better writers? Who knows? The final result is still very close.

* * *

A few weeks ago, I posted the news that my novella THE WEDDING GUEST, had been accepted for the Kindle Worlds series and many copies have been sold already. However, there are no reviews. If anyone would like a free e-book in exchange for an honest review on Amazon, please let me know and I’ll send one.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


The cover article in the latest issue of The Writer Magazine is by Jack Smith and titled, “Start to Stop.” Mr. Smith says, “Crafting the beginning and ending of novels takes careful attention, patience, and a flair for the dramatic.”

We’ve been told from day one that, in order to be purchased and read, our novel must have a beginning that hooks the reader. Because of that advice, authors have spent more time on their first chapters, rewriting as many as thirty times. In fact, first paragraphs, even first sentences, get the lion‘s share of our attention.

Smith gives examples of good novel beginnings that are worth studying. Like all writers, I, too, have agonized over beginnings and worked hard to make them grab the reader. Here are a few from my books which I’m especially fond of.

From CHOICES. “Exactly an hour and fifteen minutes after taking off from Los Angeles International Airport, First Officer Reg Humboldt felt the strange vibration.”

From FREE FALL. “It seemed like only yesterday that Jennifer's boss repeated, ‘You're going to drive an airplane down the highway and park it in the middle of the mall?’”

From NORTH BY NORTHEAST. “Haley Parsons stared into the beauty salon's oversized mirror. A stranger stared back at her. The eyes, nose and mouth looked like hers, but the hair made all the difference.”

From STRANGER IN PARADISE. “Dana knew she’d fallen into a dream job. And, like a dream, it could disappear in an instant. Yet, she tried not to think of that. This was Hawaii. This was Paradise.”

From SOUTHERN STAR. "I wouldn't ask Gary Pritchard to captain Southern Star if he were the last skipper left alive in the Bahamas!"

And yet, I think Mickey Spillane said, “The first page sells that book. The last page sells your next book.” Smith gives examples of endings as well, although, not knowing the rest of the book, it’s difficult to judge them. However, I once won a contest by San Diego Writers Monthly Magazine for the best ending.  From DEAD MEN’S TALES, soon to be published. Less than 250 words, here it is:

The client stood, dropped the check on the desk, and left.
I plopped down in the chair and picked up the check. The number itself wasn't that large but some nice zeroes followed. I waved it in Brad's face.
"So are you going to sit around your house being rich?" he asked.
"No, like it or not, as I said, I'm going to become your partner. I think I'm ready to be a private investigator."
"But what about your charity work, your Bridge parties, travel?"
"Oh, I'll still do my charity work and play Bridge, but compared to this business, the other is a little boring."
"You'll have to come in every day, learn a lot, work hard."
"I like hard work when it's really interesting,” I said.
"But it's so erratic: chicken today, feathers tomorrow.  And, even when we get clients, sometimes they don't pay on time, or at all."
"I have an independent income." I waved the check again.  "And a nice cushion besides."
"Worst of all, it can be dangerous."
I leaned back in the chair and smiled.  "Don't be shy, Brad.  Tell me what you really think."
He burst out laughing, leaned across the desk and gave me a high-five. "Welcome aboard, Partner."