Thursday, November 20

The Ferryman is Nigh - Keep the Last Obol for Yourself

Paying the Ferryman - Charon Coin PressI'm pleased to announce that Charon Coin Press has chosen to feature my work as part of their upcoming horror anthology Paying the Ferryman!

Eden in Spring is a putrefying, 4600-word tale about a man who finds out a shocking truth about the next life, and learns the hard way that the clock never stops ticking - even after death. It will be featured alongside a dozen other works by talented authors, befitting the theme of a dark outlook on the afterlife.

I'm very excited for the opportunity to be working with some talented individuals on such a delightfully frightening project, and would like to thank the staff at Charon Coin Press for their patronage. Check back here or on Charon Coin's main site for updates as they become available in upcoming months.

The banks of the Styx and Acheron are wet with bile, and the boatman draws near. Flee here for more information!


(The image above is from a cover reveal post for the anthology. It was created by artist Natasha Alterici, and beautifully captures the theme of the book in a chilling moment of white-knuckled suspense!)


Thursday, November 13

Thief in the Night - Surviving the Rapture of Writing

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You've just completed your manuscript. Your novel. Your opus. Your glorious addition to the world of literature. Now you want to share it with the world, but a nascent thought tickles your mind.

What if somebody steals my work?

You just put your blood, sweat, and tears into your baby, and soon it will be in the hands of reviewers, agents, editors, et cetera. What's to keep some dirty criminal from snatching up your prize, beating you to the copyright office, and claiming the rights to your work before you do?

Broaching the subject on writing forums is likely to get you a 50/50 response, with half the users patting your head and calling you a cute little newbie to the world of writing, while the other half warn you to hide your manuscript under your aluminum foil hat for several months until somebody at the copyright office gets around to sending you that shining piece of paper that proves your work is yours. Still others will make suggestions like mailing a copy of your manuscript to yourself before you share it with the world and leaving it sealed, with the idea that the postmark from the United States Postal Service will hold up in court should you have to sue anybody over intellectual property rights. Another suggestion I've heard is asking potential reviewers, or those who might have reason to come in contact with your pre-published work, to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Well, I'll tell you one thing. If you approached me as a potential agent/reviewer/reader or even publisher for your work, and you asked me to sign a legally binding anything simply for the privilege of basking in your glory, then you're going straight to the wastebasket in favor of the hundreds of folks a week who are sending me manuscripts to review and not asking me to get involved in a legal quagmire.

Thankfully, the concept of copyright isn't all about a race to see who can get the first little piece of paper to back up their ©, and it's not nearly as troublesome a subject as one might think. Copyrights cost a little money and a lot of time, but they don't have to. The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works is good reading material for those who want to know. The gist is that your work is automatically protected by copyright the moment you write it, and this copyright is recognized in all of the nations that participate in the Berne Convention. The United states has been a participating member in Berne since 1989. Spiffy, no? You can read more about Berne at Copyright.gov. While you're there, be sure to check out §104 and §104(a) of Title 17 of the United States Code.

If you're still worried, take the following points into consideration:

  • Just as a reputable publisher and/or agent is never going to charge you for their services, they're also not going to take your submitted manuscript down to the copyright office, slap a certificate on it, and spirit it away while you wait around with bated breath wondering if they're interested in representing you. That's not the point of their business. Agents and traditional publishing houses deal with gazillions of manuscript submissions a year. They make no money by stealing your work, and they don't have the time to risk dropping their slush pile in favor of chasing after fame and fortune by pretending to be somebody else.
  • Consider that as authors, we think of our works as our beloved, polished children (myself included). Just like a chef in the Chopped Kitchen who can't believe somebody wasn't amazed by the sweet zing of honey they added to their soy sauce, we authors sometimes have a hard time accepting the idea that while we may have written a great story, we haven't actually redefined literature in our society. Unless you have a considerable track record as a published author, a potential plagiarist has little, if, anything, to gain from stealing your work. If you already are a notable author, a plagiarist still has little to gain, since it now boils down to a question of your word versus theirs.
  • Before you invest the time and money into a copyright certificate for your novel, are you absolutely certain that your manuscript will undergo no significant changes before it goes to print? Minor editorial changes are one thing, but if you're planning to change anything significant, you enter into a grey area called 'substantial and creative' changes. Ever wonder how Walmart can get away with marketing 'store brands' of patented products, with identical ingredient lists, same shape/color packaging, and so forth? Patents may be somewhat different that copyrights, but the core concept is the same - your non-editorial changes just ended up constituting a new derivative work. If you really wanted that piece of paper so badly, you may just find yourself back at square one.
  • Did I mention that Berne is automatic, and should take care of all those sticky little 'substantial and creative' changes nicely? Being free and not taking months to accomplish are some pretty nice bonuses too.

If after reading all of the above you're still convinced your perfect manuscript (that will never need to be significantly edited in any way) is best kept in a locked box under your bed until the certificate of copyright arrives, well...that's your prerogative. Just bear in mind that there's an easier and cheaper way, and all it involves is slapping 'Copyright [dates] by [author/owner]' on your first page (or words to that effect). I jazz it up a little and use the following:

  • The Goldenwealth Light (The Traveler of Ord, Book I)
    Copyright © 2012 Scott McCloskey

    All rights reserved. This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Any reproduction or unauthorized use of the material herein is prohibited without the express written permission of the author.

Oh, and don't forget...

  • All situations and events presented in this book are works of fiction. All characters portrayed are creations of the author's imagination - any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Feel free to employ some useful derivative with your own name and book title. I won't even come after you for infringement of the copyright on my...copyright statement.

Or something.


Tuesday, October 14

That Man Behind the Paper Curtain

I was asked: As an author, what makes a good character?

I replied: Don't you have anything better to do than ask complicated questions?

I like characters. LOTS of characters - the Traveler of Ord saga alone has upwards of thirty named individuals with significant roles to play over the span of two books, with more to come. It's possible I just want to play god in the second dimension, but I am of the belief that a novel-length tale needs lots of Toms, Dicks, and Harrys (oh my!) running around.

Why? To tell the tale from their own perspective, of course. A good character tells you, the author, how to write for them. A group of good characters reduces you to the role of taking dictation. One way to tell if you're working with such a character is to set aside your opus and write something from the character's viewpoint. A journal entry perhaps. The topic isn't important - just write from the character's perspective.

Go ahead. I'll wait.

Now, what did you learn about your character? Are you absolutely certain they are who you thought they were, or who you created them to be? Don't despair if you find your hero's armor doesn't shine one hundred percent of the time, or your capricious sidekick has some moments of melancholy. After all, can any of us "real" people apply a single line of thinking to every situation we come across? Then why should you expect your characters to?

I submit that the greatest characters - the ones that you will love to write for, are the ones who break out of the mold you created for them and adamantly tell you who they are. Even if it wasn't what you were expecting or hoping for. Even if they throw a sharpened ballpoint into the middle of your well-laid plans and force you to mold your masterpiece around them in ways you weren't expecting. You were so sure the butler did it, but...he's just too nice of a guy. Curses! Time to shift the blame to the haberdasher on the sixth floor that tuned out to be a much shadier figure than you were prepared to give him credit for.

The other great part is that now you have a handy-dandy little short story for your character that you can turn into a compilation after you repeat the process with the rest of your cast.




Friday, September 19

Everywhere the Road Ends is now available!

The time has come! Everywhere the Road Ends, Book II of the Traveler of Ord Saga, is now available in paperback and digital formats on Amazon. The fate of young Theodore Ellsworth at the hands of the wraiths of the Reflectia Woods will finally be revealed, as the overall plot of the series begins to take shape. The road is darkening for Theo and Marie, as well as for their contrary friends; Tessa the gender-confused traversimorph, Maxwell Fableton the apprentice Lorewarden, and Zaradi Bracchus the balthan warrior-girl. Will there be a light at the end of the tunnel, or will everybody get squashed by a pack of wild yurt? Is Theo really a hero, or is he moonlighting as the Beast of Calharik?

Get ready for new allies, new enemies, new twists, two new cities, tall ships, and hours of more page-turning, YA adventure!

Find it here!

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Tuesday, September 2

The Cusp of a Sequel

For those of you who have been waiting patiently for Everywhere the Road Ends, I offer my apologies. We're literally just trying to get the paperback version's spine to line up correctly with the guidelines so the the book won't go to print crooked. This was a tumultuous issue with TGL as well which I attribute to the "machine" - not the illustrious efforts of the dedicated cover artist. Unfortunately the files have to go through multiple checks and reviews each time we try, and we need to have a look at a physical proof copy that takes a few days to ship, to ensure that you, the reader, are getting the best possible product. I won't settle for anything less and I don't expect you to.

So...any day now. Ord awaits!


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Don't forget to like the Traveler of Ord on
Facebook! The road home is darkening, and the Ellsworth siblings need your support!


Thursday, August 21

The Choices We Make

Time to wax.

Winnie the Pooh probably would have said, "Blogs are a nice sort of thing to have on a blustery day."

And why not? Everybody wants to be heard - even those of us who prefer not to declare ourselves from a soapbox in the village square. On a blog, you can say your peace at length, and not have it disappear at the bottom of the 'timeline' in three hours. On the other hand, you may end up just talking to yourself.

I choose to talk to myself, except that I ascribe names and personalities to the voices in my head. It's not psychosis. It's writing.

Well...it may be both. They go well together.

Sitting about listening to this little gem of a soundtrack, a topic comes to mind. The topic of choice. We've all heard that life isn't a game and there are no 'do-overs'. I partially subscribe to that notion, but only insofar as it applies to the same life (an entirely different topic). Choices are a part of life, and it can be said that living from moment to moment depends upon making choices.

So? Are you the type who reflects on the choices you've made? Or do you throw more coal on the fire and move full speed ahead through life? Perhaps some of both?

Two choices I've made come to mind. For one, the choice to leave Japan. Of course at the time I was a student on a limited visa with a finite bank account, but I could have worked my way towards returning. Though I enjoy all of the following aspects, I can say I didn't go there just for the people, the culture, the land, or the history. I went there because it felt like the place I wanted to be. A connection I can't really put into words, that made me want to spend my time sitting in a quiet place to relish in the joy of just being. Not that I have any disrespect or lack of love for my roots, but something about it felt like home. Yet, I didn't go back, and now I believe that ship has sailed. There are too many people and too many circumstances binding me to the states, and these are important enough that they must take priority. I am not unhappy - far from it. But, there are times when I find myself sighing with nostalgic melancholy all the same. What would have awaited me had I gone that route? Is it even really worth thinking about? My desire to be there was simply one of existence. Those who know me are probably aware I care little for the pursuit of wealth and power; preferring to enjoy my days at my own pace. I doubt I could have joined a monestary, so would I have been any happier chasing the yen than the dollar? I can't say. What I can say is, there are things I have now that I would miss. My relationship with my wife, I believe, is a rare type of love in this day and age. We are close enough to nearly be extensions of the same person, and though we have as much our share of bickering as any healthy relationship, she has my complete faith and trust. Many people in this life never obtain that - even those who find romance. My children? Well, if I had built a life for myself across the Pacific surely they would be different people, if they existed at all. I like the little people they are now. My books? Considering the circumstances upon how I come across most of my ideas, I doubt any of them would have been written by now. No matter what becomes of them in the future, they will always be a part of my legacy - even if that legacy never reaches beyond my own house.

The other choice is one of career. There was a time some years back where I had an opportunity to pursue a position at a local elementary school. I chose not to - preferring instead to chase the dollar. Uncharacteristic for me, but I learned some very important life lessons from that choice that have shaped a lot of my values today. Had I taken that job, education for my children would have been easy - go to the school I work at, graduate to the one across the street, and graduate again to the next building over from that. But, my first daughter wasn't even an apple in my eye at the time, and even though I do say I don't like money, I do recognize the need for it - I make twice what I would have made at that position now, and I don't have to look for supplementary summer work. Was it the right choice? Hindsight is 20/20.

So, I've made my choices, and now I am a devoted father of two who has chosen to put life on hold until my young ones can stand on their own, as opposed to a Buddhist otaku who may (or may not) have done the same.

It helps to put things in perspective from time to time. I am happy. Perhaps that's all that really matters.

Now then, back to the stories in my head. To whomever may be listening, I invite you to reflect on your own choices. You're more than welcome to share.

My next book? It's already written, but is on hold for a bit to prevent conflicting releases with
Everywhere the Road Ends. The topic is a secret (unless you really want to talk about it). Here's a hint:

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Thursday, August 14

Akiba's Trip: Undead and Just a Game

I recently acquired a rare and unlikely import on my Playstation Vita - a quirky little modern culture romp called Akiba's Trip: Undead and Undressed.

For those that don't know, Akiba's Trip (or 'Akiba Strip', as you like) is a video game featuring an open city environment recreated from modern day Akihabara. In it, you are tasked with exposing undead monsters hiding amongst the populace. Since you are a normal person and not some soldier of fortune hero type we all can't relate to (a refreshing concept), you accomplish this by attacking your targets and stripping off their clothing, while they try to do the same to you. Once they are sufficiently exposed to the sun they disintegrate, much like a vampire.

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I must say, I'm quite entertained. Though I never visited Akihabara while I was on study abroad in Japan, I did frequent enough shopping districts on the Keian line between Kyoto and Osaka for the environments in this game to feel nostalgic, right down to the pitiable street walkers whose job it was to divert attention to the store that employed them by whatever means necessary. I consider myself a rather agreeable person, but as I was very obviously foreign they tended to leave me alone (and made a habit out of directing me to the handicapped toilet).

Me: (in broken Japanese) "Excuse me, but where is the ________?"
***HANDICAPPED TOILET***

I found many handicapped toilets in Japan. Oh well.

Back to subject at hand. When I purchased this game, the salesperson commented that he was surprised it was ever imported. I had to agree with him, though lamentably so. My original interest in traditional Japanese culture went as far as a major in college, but considering my background, it was only a matter of time before I discovered pop-culture about 17 years ago. I haven't looked back, and I suppose that may have to do with why I would immediately gravitate towards a game like this, and not see it as the slightest bit odd. But, the salesperson did have a point. Here's one of the reasons.

The Most Despicable Game Ever.

Before I make my point, I should hope I don't have to bring up the fact that I'm as much a supporter of equality of the sexes as any other forward-thinking, reasonable-minded person. Those who know me should already be aware of that, and those who don't, well, I just told you. I'm proud of the business my wife has built and have every intention of encouraging my two little girls to be all they can be when they grow up. I'm still going to say my peace.

Obviously there is no full nudity in this game (underwear is as far as it goes), nor is there any blatant sexuality apart from a few innuendo comments on the level of primetime TV, but as you can see the game has received criticism on our sexually immature side of the globe through claims that it exploits women, since there are a few screenshots circulating showing a male character removing articles of clothing from a female character. From even a short time playing it, I find it quite clear that as usual, the criticism can mainly be chalked up to ignorance. Despite the concept, the game has very little to do with titillation. It's more a mix of action and comedy, and you strip as many men as you do women (if not more). Later into the game you can also choose to actually play the game as a female character. I suppose the aforelinked article would find it acceptable if said protagonist went around tearing the clothing off of hapless men.

Haters who are just looking for the next cause, I offer you this thought: Calm down, unplug from the social networking for a few hours, go get some coffee or something, and let the people with interests that differ from your own enjoy themselves, as you would like us to allow you to do the same. I might also advise you to explore cultural diversity. Japan's history is centuries longer than that of the United States and was not built upon rigid Puritanical morals. People bathe together. People are less afraid of their bodies. People also expect you to be responsible for your own conduct, rather than feeling a need to police you and save you from yourself. As far as the exploitation/objectification argument is concerned, I'll fight that battle right alongside you - but I won't open fire without a legitimate target.

Peace said. Clicks bated.



(In case you're wondering, I believe Akiba's Trip is rated 'mature'. That should be helpful enough for most of us, but if you're really worried about your kids getting hold of this title, not to mention the oodles of titles portraying extreme violence that are only rated 'teen' (which for some illogical reason we seem to be more accepting of in the states), try doing some parenting now and then, rather than letting society do it for you. A million points to the first person who can explain to me why even taking about, much less providing education on, parts of the body we all have is so taboo, while extreme gore, violence, murdering of people in all walks of life, genocide, etc is considered a 'must-see' film, or perhaps a cop drama.)


Sunday, August 10

Digital Content and E-books - How Much is Too Much?

While this is certainly not a new topic in the world of modern publishing, I recently received a very interesting message from Kindle Direct Publishing, that I felt a need to share.

Bear in mind that this message only represents one side of a particular argument, and I always encourage the formulation of an opinion based upon analysis of both sides of an issue. It does include an expected amount of 'fluff' designed to sway reader opinion, and at the end it becomes so patronizing as to tell the recipient what to do and how to do it, but I believe the core point being made is considerable. I encourage indie authors in particular to give some consideration to this issue and share your thoughts, considering many of us don't have the publishing power to charge exorbitant prices for digital content. By the same token, perhaps higher prices will divert more interest towards non-traditionally published works?

To be fair, here's an article in defense of the opposite side of the issue:

Bestselling authors take out full-page New York Times ad against Amazon


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The message reads as follows:

Dear KDP Author,

Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents – it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year.

With it being so inexpensive and with so many more people able to afford to buy and read books, you would think the literary establishment of the day would have celebrated the invention of the paperback, yes? Nope. Instead, they dug in and circled the wagons. They believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution – places like newsstands and drugstores. The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if “publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them.” Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion.

Well… history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

Fast forward to today, and it’s the e-book’s turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette – a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate – are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive.

Perhaps channeling Orwell’s decades old suggestion, Hachette has already been caught illegally colluding with its competitors to raise e-book prices. So far those parties have paid $166 million in penalties and restitution. Colluding with its competitors to raise prices wasn’t only illegal, it was also highly disrespectful to Hachette’s readers.

The fact is many established incumbents in the industry have taken the position that lower e-book prices will “devalue books” and hurt “Arts and Letters.” They’re wrong. Just as paperbacks did not destroy book culture despite being ten times cheaper, neither will e-books. On the contrary, paperbacks ended up rejuvenating the book industry and making it stronger. The same will happen with e-books.

Many inside the echo-chamber of the industry often draw the box too small. They think books only compete against books. But in reality, books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive.

Moreover, e-books are highly price elastic. This means that when the price goes down, customers buy much more. We've quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. The important thing to note here is that the lower price is good for all parties involved: the customer is paying 33% less and the author is getting a royalty check 16% larger and being read by an audience that’s 74% larger. The pie is simply bigger.

But when a thing has been done a certain way for a long time, resisting change can be a reflexive instinct, and the powerful interests of the status quo are hard to move. It was never in George Orwell’s interest to suppress paperback books – he was wrong about that.

And despite what some would have you believe, authors are not united on this issue. When the Authors Guild recently wrote on this, they titled their post: “Amazon-Hachette Debate Yields Diverse Opinions Among Authors” (the comments to this post are worth a read). A petition started by another group of authors and aimed at Hachette, titled “Stop Fighting Low Prices and Fair Wages,” garnered over 7,600 signatures. And there are myriad articles and posts, by authors and readers alike, supporting us in our effort to keep prices low and build a healthy reading culture. Author David Gaughran’s recent interview is another piece worth reading.

We recognize that writers reasonably want to be left out of a dispute between large companies. Some have suggested that we “just talk.” We tried that. Hachette spent three months stonewalling and only grudgingly began to even acknowledge our concerns when we took action to reduce sales of their titles in our store. Since then Amazon has made three separate offers to Hachette to take authors out of the middle. We first suggested that we (Amazon and Hachette) jointly make author royalties whole during the term of the dispute. Then we suggested that authors receive 100% of all sales of their titles until this dispute is resolved. Then we suggested that we would return to normal business operations if Amazon and Hachette’s normal share of revenue went to a literacy charity. But Hachette, and their parent company Lagardere, have quickly and repeatedly dismissed these offers even though e-books represent 1% of their revenues and they could easily agree to do so. They believe they get leverage from keeping their authors in the middle.

We will never give up our fight for reasonable e-book prices. We know making books more affordable is good for book culture. We’d like your help. Please email Hachette and copy us.

Please consider including these points:

  • We have noted your illegal collusion. Please stop working so hard to overcharge for ebooks. They can and should be less expensive.
  • Lowering e-book prices will help – not hurt – the reading culture, just like paperbacks did.
  • Stop using your authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon’s offers to take them out of the middle.
  • Especially if you’re an author yourself: Remind them that authors are not united on this issue.

Thanks for your support.

The Amazon Books Team

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***Message ends***

Thursday, August 7

A Frozen One for the Boys

You know what I want to see?

I want to see somebody remake Frozen with exactly the same script, except with all the characters gender-swapped. All the same words, except for a change in gender related pronouns and terms ('king' vs 'queen', for example). I wanna see young prince Aaron pining for a girlfriend, and King Elrik change into a blue and white tuxedo during a rendition of 'Let it Go', after being taught by his mother the Queen all his young life to conceal his powers. I wanna see a tall and strong Princess Hannah of the Southern Isles sweep Prince Aaron off his feet and propose to him. I wanna see Kristina riding to the rescue atop Svetlana, like a pungent reindeer queen.

I wanna see Olga the snow-woman who likes warm hugs get impaled.

...or maybe I just want to hear somebody insist that all women pick their noses and then eat it.

Either or.

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In all seriousness though, I think the world could use a Disney princess movie for the boys. I bet you'd be surprised how popular it would be.

-The Journal of Ord's two cents.


Wednesday, August 6

F7 at Your Own Risk

Do you 'spell check'?

Of course you do. 90,000 words later, when you've finally dotted all the 'I's and crossed all the 'T's of your pièce de résistance, you can't take the chance that you overlooked some little faux pas that might give your readers the impression that your command over the English language isn't up to par. So you reach for the F7 key and let fly. What you get should be familiar in one form or another to any user of modern word processing programs:

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The options are straightforward, but it helps to be careful. A three-hundred page novel can be a joy to write, a challenge to edit...and an absolute bore to spell check. The options are as follows:

  • Ignore Once: Selecting this option will tell the program to ignore this one instance of a potentially misspelled word.
  • Ignore All: This option tells the program to ignore ALL instances of this particular spelling quandry.
  • Add to Dictionary: You are now God, and this particular word, which was once not a word, is now a word, because you say so. Use this to tell the program to treat any further instances as a correctly spelled word. You should be using this frequently for character names.
  • Change: See that window at the bottom with all those words in it? Those are the program's suggestions - what it thinks you're trying to say. If you like one of them, select it and choose this option. The program will use the word you selected.
  • Change All: For the bold - this option will change EVERY instance of the potential misspelling throughout the entire document as whatever word you select from the suggestion list.
  • Autocorrect: Be careful here, as now you're letting the program make the decisions for you. It will change the potentially misspelled word to whatever the first choice on the suggestion list is.

First thing's first. Make sure you not only understand what every option does, but that you're taking more than half a second to choose the right one. The 'all' options are bold selections. Are you absolutely certain you want every instance of the word in question to change, throughout your manuscript? There are a few things to bear in mind:

  • Your word processor only speaks one language at a time. Parlez-vous français? may make perfect sense to you, but to your word processor, it has more to do with parleying vows from some guy named Francis, and lord knows Francis isn't an easy guy to parley with.
  • Your spell-checker has never read Tom Sawyer. Neither have the tiny grammar police living inside your motherboard. Try typing in "Ach lad, iffn ye did nae know what’s happenin’ next then I’ve a bridge to sell ya, I do!" and see where that gets you. Consider the fact that at least one of your characters is speaking this way throughout your book, and I dare you to use an 'all' option.
  • If you want your word processor to recognize the names of all of your characters, I hope you're ready for the John Smith brigade.

That last one leads us to the poor case of Jervis Castradé up there. As you can see, if we're getting sick of telling the computer what every last little colloquialism means and we accidentally bop the wrong button, Jervis will be the unfortunate recipient of unintended complications.

I had just such a head-scratcher not so long ago. Those who are familiar with the Traveler of Ord saga will doubtless be acquainted with the riding animals of choice in the Goldenwealth -- horned, horse-like creatures with extra legs called escarots (chariots and Judas Iscariot notwithstanding). Just before The Goldenwealth Light first hit the shelves back in 2012, a kind-hearted beta reader (my father of all people) bemusedly asked me just what kind of appendages I was talking about. I checked the text, and there was indeed a single instance of an escarot with 'sex legs'. I got lucky, as I'm sure I would have been the scourge of mothers and preachers everywhere if that one had made it to the local library shelves. I'd also like to add that contrary to what you may have heard, Chapter Twenty-Sex of Everywhere the Road Ends, Book II of the Traveler of Ord Saga, will only be included in the adult version, scheduled for release sometime in the winter of 200never.

Long story short - be careful when you spell check. You'll want to avoid this:

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Somebody should make a T-shirt. "Do YOU F7?"


Monday, August 4

Fading Away in the Writer's Cup

I've shared this tip before, but I find it to be sound advice to the point that I'm about to put it out there again.

To those writers who find they never quite have time to get anything down on paper, I submit to you that any amount of time you spend on your craft, no matter how insignificant, is still an accomplishment. There's no shame in nickel and dimeing, especially if your willingness to work at all is on the line. It's easy to sink into the assumption that if you only have half an hour a day to write its not worth your time, and you might as well wait until tomorrow. Then tomorrow comes, the weekend comes, vacation comes, and you find that by Christmas you're still right where you started, justifying why only a little time is not enough.

Do you like coffee or tea? I'm partial to Earl Grey myself. No matter how busy your day is, I find it somewhat difficult to accept the fact that you have so little time on your hands that you can't at least sit down to a cup of your choice and the paper (or tablet as the case may be) once a day. If you're so tied up with life that you don't even have time to drink something, that's an entirely different issue. Use that cup as your timer, and instead of whatever you normally do while enjoying your drink, write. When the drink is finished, so are you.

It may not seem like much, but even if it's fifty words (or just a brainstorming session), at least you accomplished something today. That goes a long way towards keeping your eye on the prize and your head in the game. A project never worked on will only fade away.


Thursday, July 31

Never Blocked He Who Writes

Waxing nostalgic, I recently had cause to reminisce over writing experiences in my distant past. In elementary school we were given a marble notebook, and for half an hour every day, we were instructed to write.

"Write about what?" We asked.

We were told it didn't matter what we wrote, so long as we kept our pencils moving.

"What if I can't think of anything else to write?" One student would always voice the thought on many of our minds.

"Then write, 'I can't think of anything else to write'," Came the same response, every time.

I'm not certain what became of that notebook, but the last time I paged through the dubious handwriting and doodles of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the margins, I can say I cannot recall never having anything else to write. Little did we realize what our instructor was trying to instill in us. I wrote stories. I wrote about my day. I had conversations with the doodles in the margins, or drew word bubbles to give voice to their comments on my piece for the morning. Time slowed until the notebooks were opened, then it sped along at a frustrating pace, rocketing towards English or math class on the heels of an inevitably (and regretfully) unfinished sentence. A month later when I was asked to write a three page work of fiction about anything I wanted, I never found myself staring blankly at the wide-ruled looseleaf, wondering if somebody had substituted in legal-sized paper just to mess with me. All the material was already right there waiting for me.

Today I cannot tell you what I wrote about, but I can tell you about the experience. This was my first lesson in 'stream of consciousness' writing; a technique I still use today and wholeheartedly recommend to others. Whether it be journalism, storytelling, or technical drafting, at some time or another one is always presented with the conundrum - 'I can't think of anything else to write.' What to do?

Keep writing, I say. Grab a blank sheet of paper and scribble down whatever you're thinking right now, whether it seems relevant to your project or not. Ever start thinking about how your mind arrived at a commercial jingle from thirty years ago when you were only thinking about what you had for dinner last night? Move your pen the way your semi-conscious mind moves, like the guy behind the curtain operating the stage rigging. You've seen him and you know he's there, but you don't actively acknowledge his contribution to the play. Glance at a billboard, write a word from it, and see where your mind goes. Need a story? Need a plan? Grab that notebook out of your back pocket (you DO have a notebook in your back pocket for sudden muse attacks, don't you writer?) and jot any random thing down. Move your hand for ten minutes, then look back over the amorphous mass of words you just disgorged and see what you now have to work with. Never a writer was blocked who writes.

In short - when it doubt, just write.


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Tuesday, July 29

Journal of Ord Redesign

As you may or may not have noticed, the Journal of Ord has recently undergone a heavy redesign. In anticipation of Book II of the Traveler of Ord saga, I decided Ord's home on the web was in need of a facelift from those standard Blogger templates. And so, here you go. The sidebar was cleaned up, a custom header of my own design was added, and there's now a handy-dandy navigation bar for all your Ordic needs. It took some CCS coding and HTML work, but I'm very happy with the results and will be frequenting the Journal of Ord with new content and topics as a result.

Don't be a stranger, and be on the lookout for Everywhere the Road Ends, coming soon!


Tuesday, July 22

Everywhere the Road Ends - Imminent Cover Reveal!

The time finally draws near!

Being what I suspect will be the longest book in the series, the long and winding road towards the Traveler of Ord Book II is finally ending. Expect a cover reveal in the next few days, followed by kindle and paperback releases!

Monday, April 28

Right Around the Corner!

UPDATE: Everywhere the Road Ends, The Traveler of Ord Book II, is now more than halfway through the final edit phase. This is the last one, really. After this it's going straight to Create Imaginations to start work on the cover design. We're in the home stretch - get ready for more people, more places, more plot - More ORD!


Tuesday, April 15

TGL is back!

Well, it has been for a few days now, but I thought it fair to jump on and mention that formally. I must say the new matte cover finish is WONDERFUL. If you're planning to pick up a paperback copy of TGL and have yet to do so, now is the time!

Book II is now most likely an imminent release for May, as I have taken control of the considerably long editing process in an attempt to get the ball rolling again (4 months is just too long on one book, even for an editor). Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 3

TGL Temporarily Unavailable

I've fallen in love with CreateSpace's new matte cover finish option, and have decided TGL must have it. Therefore, The Goldenwealth Light will be unavailable in the Amazon store for the next few days while the cover finish is updated. Don't mind the price if you try to look it up - as soon as a previously available book on Amazon suddenly becomes unavailable, for some reason the list price shoots up to something ridiculous (like $300+!). All will be well once the book becomes available again. In the meantime, TGL remains available on Kindle for just 99 cents!

http://www.amazon.com/Goldenwealth-Light-Traveler-Ord-Book-ebook/dp/B00AAX3WF2/ref=la_B00AQJQ9S2_1_1_title_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1396575610&sr=1-1


Friday, February 7

Ordic Everygoodness for your Kindle Continues!

The holiday sale of TGL went so well, a decision has been made to extend it indefinitely in anticipation of Book II: Everywhere the Road Ends. Enjoy 99 cents of Ordic goodness on your kindle device, and thank you for your support of the adventures of Theodore Ellsworth!


Get a copy here!


Thursday, January 30

Take care when you imprint

I'm going to be polite and not name names, but I just saw an article promoting a new publishing house for first time, unagented authors, and it reminded me that while I'd enjoy having representation, I won't just desperately go anywhere. Here are some big red warning flags to let you know you might be in for more trouble than it's worth down the road:

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-It's natural for an imprint to request an author provide a marketing/promotional platform (especially if the author in question is unagented and untested). However, if this is requested repeatedly, but there is no word at all about what the imprint is going to do to promote on their end, you might want to look the other way. Especially if the imprint is POD. If the promotions and marketing are going to be entirely your own responsibility anyway, you might as well go POD on your own and not have your rights tied up with anybody else. Should you be responsible for promotions and marketing? Of course you should. But it's a mutual relationship -- why are you seeking a publisher in the first place if not to utilize their added power to help make your book a success?

-Submissions should be detailed, but there's a limit. If you see all the usual requests, but then it's followed up with a dissertation on how every bit of english punctuation should be used in lieu of a simple comment that your manuscript must be properly edited, or a long list of extremely specific "don'ts" that go so far as to say "we want sci-fi, but no stories about space" (yes, I have actually seen this in so many words), then you might want to bring the imprint's professionalism into question. There are certain, very reasonable expectations a publisher should be able to hold you to if you intend to be taken seriously when you submit to them. But you should have your own professional expectations of them as well.

-It's not necessarily bad that an imprint publishes their author contract to view right under the submissions link, but ask yourself why they are doing this. The contract is not step one. Or step two, for that matter. Is there anything in there they might be eager to come back later and say "hey, we showed you the contract before you even submitted to us" about?

-This one should go without saying, but at the first instance of any sort of request for money from the author, head for the hills. Professional publishing houses do not charge their authors for the priviledge of working with them.

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I wish anybody who has written a book great success, but by the same token, if you're not willing to go POD then you're going to need to have great patience. Don't let that extreme desire to see your book in print draw you into agreeing to just anything.


Ord Goes On

Just checking in. The next installment in the Traveler of Ord series, "Everywhere the Road Ends", will include more content, more characters, and more perils for poor young Theodore Ellsworth, as well as a bit of soulsearching and some surprises. Yes, it's late, but be advised it WILL be coming soon. The manuscript has been finished for awhile now. Proofreads and edits are taking some time is all. Book three is also scheduled for later this year, so expect twice the Ordic Everycontent in 2014!

FYI - TGL is doing so well right now, the 99 cent sale has been extended!

Check it out here!


Wednesday, January 15

Have some more Ord!

Due to overwhemlingly positive response, the special holiday sale price for the Amazon Kindle version of TGL has been extended through January. Enjoy the first installment of the sword and sorcery adventures of young Theodore Ellsworth in the world of Ord for 99 cents!

Grab it here!