Friday, July 18, 2014

Nation's HDs Threaten National Security


FNN National Security reporter, James Bund, filed this report. Mr Bund is a former MI-6 agent cashiered for unsavory behavior.

A new secret document released by Edward Snowden reveals the NSA is disgusted by the state of the hard drives on home computers. The lack of logical organization, the indecipherable file names and innumerable useless files combined with the extensive pornography have frustrated the NSA as they try to track threats to the country.

In the report, the NSA listed two examples of how the disorganized hard drives delayed investigations until the project was abandoned rather than continue to waste resources on the hard drive search investigations.

In one case, a terror plot was uncovered. It planned to destroy silos filled with cattle feed in order to drive up the price of meat and thus harm the nation's economy. The terrorist was believed to be in the Buffalo, NY area so the NSA hacked into over a quarter million home computers. Because of the disgraceful state of the hard drives and the porn that had to be investigated to see if they contained hidden messages, thirty-five analysts wasted two years trying to find clues to the terrorists before the project was abandoned. The wasted effort cost the taxpayers over a quarter billion dollars.

In the second case, NSA learned of a plot to infiltrate a secret location and modify the atomic clock used to time the internet and other national resources. If successful, it would make the atomic clock lose five minutes per year. Such a small change would disrupt airline and train schedules, play havoc with TV and radio shows and cause many other problems. The plot was believed to be centered around Farmburg in Iowa. The NSA hacked into every home computer in the area, but were again frustrated because of the disorganized hard drives.

The report concluded by urging all schools be forced to teach a course on how to properly organize a hard drive and how to name files in a meaningful manner.

The report stated the NSA analysts assigned to the hard drive investigations have to be reassigned after three months of working on the hard drives because of the frustrations of being unable to figure out what was on the computers.

The NSA denies the events in the report ever happened. It also reports that it has no problems with infiltrating and reading home computer hard drive files but it insists it does not do this and never would do anything as despicable as spying on a citizen's home computer.

FNN will monitor this issue for future developments.








Hank Quense is the author of 50 published short stories along with four novels and three collections of stories. All of these are humorous and/or satiric scifi and fantasy. In the non-fiction area, he has over a dozen articles published on fiction writing and he's the author of the Fiction Writing Guides series and the Self-publishing Guides series. Both series consist of a number of ebooks. The Fiction Writing Guides and the Self-Publishing Guides are an outgrowth of his lectures on both subjects.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

ASK PZM - July 2014

Q. Do you have any new thoughts on traditional publishing vs. self-publishing?

I recently read on Wattpad an advice article for aspiring authors by Hugh Howey that I thought had a great deal of food for thought.

(Howey is the self-published author whose success with the dystopian WOOL via Amazon’s KDP led to a book deal with Simon & Schuster for the physical book rights while Howey kept the ebook rights.)

Howey said that you “are much better off with your 10th work exploding than your 1st work.”

I’ve provided the link below to Howey’s entire article so you can read this statement in context.  For me, this comment reminded me that success with self-published works can lead to other opportunities.
For example, the self-published novel of an author I know has won four different awards.  An agent is submitting this novel to traditional publishers even though before self-publication the novel had been passed over by publishers.  Now that there is social proof of how many readers love the book, publishers are more willing to consider the book.

As authors we need to be flexible: A publishing or marketing strategy that may be appropriate at one stage may not be the best strategy at another stage.

This is one reason for following the book publishing industry – keeping abreast of new trends and new opportunities for both traditional and self-published authors.

Whether we publish in different genres (Howey does this) or the same genre all the time, we need to keep an eye on the synergy of how one project could positively impact another project.

For example, I just completed a Cold War memoir – TALES OF AN AMERICAN OCCUPYING GERMANY – on Wattpad and I am now looking for an agent and publisher for this project.

Suddenly a project I unsuccessfully worked on in 2007 has resurfaced as a possible nonfiction book that could be a companion to TALES.   Thus I queried an agent for both projects together.

In conclusion, if we are committed to our book writing, we should periodically review our current strategy in light of industry trends and our own situations.  Then we should brainstorm whether a new direction might be appropriate.   




Q: What do you think of entering book and story contests?

Although I know authors who have had success with entering contests, I’m divided on the issue.
Actually, I’m all for free contests.  Why not submit if your already written content is appropriate for a contest? 

The contests requiring a submission fee are the ones that I question.

Your marketing budget (it is a marketing expenditure) and common sense are good measuring sticks for entering contests.

If your marketing budget is large, submitting to numerous contests may be worthwhile.  But if your marketing budget is not large, careful consideration of the perceived value of a particular contest is important.  After all, the prestige of each contest is not equal.

And what about time taken away from writing in order to enter a contest?

If it is simply a submission application, that is one thing.  But what if you have to write a new short story in order to submit?  Is it worth interrupting another writing project to do this?

The answer to these questions will be different for each of us, but these questions are important to consider.

P.S.  If you do write a short story specifically for a contest, check whether you can then publish the short story yourself.  You could sell this as a short story on Kindle, for example, or publish it for free on a site such as Wattpad.  In either case you can include information and links about your other written work.


Tweet #1. Traditional publishing vs. self-publishing?   (click to tweet)
Tweet #2. Should writers enter book and story contests? (click to tweet)



Phyllis Zimbler Miller on Twitter is at http://twitter.com/ZimblerMiller and she is the author of fiction and nonfiction books on Amazon. Her fiction books on Amazon can be found atwww.amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller and her nonfiction books atwww.amazon.com/author/phylliszmiller 

She is also a digital marketer who blogs on book topics atwww.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com and you can download a free copy of her YA short story PINKY SWEAR at http://www.phylliszimblermiller.com/keep-in-touch/






Wednesday, July 2, 2014

IWSG: Misguided loyalties


Welcome to the first Wednesday of the month, Insecure Writer's Support Group day. IWSG is the brainchild of our noble leader Alex J. Cavanaugh, who understands our need for fellowship. 

If this sounds like a group for you, check out IWSG's webpage for instructions. 

It's a simple process:

"Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time. Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post."


Our Twitter Hashtag is #IWSG

Alex's co-hosts for today are Krista McLaughlin Kim Van Sickler,  Heather Gardner, and Hart Johnson

Please stop by and thank them for their time.  
THANKS!


We are also trying to get the IWSG on the Writers Digest Best 101 Websites list! 

Please email them at writersdigest@fwmedia.com, subject line 101 Websites, and suggest the IWSG - http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/




Today's Post:



My name is Joylene and I'm not only an insecure writer, I'm an insecure author.


I'm also a coward with misguided loyalties. 

When I found a publisher, after querying for 25 years, it was not happenstance. Someone knew someone who knew someone.


I was so grateful. A Metis from an obscure northern village in BC, and my writing was finally validated.


By my very nature I would never look a gift horse in the mouth. Even when it takes 19 months to receive a royalty cheque, I remain quiet. 

Why?

Do I not believe I deserve better?

Two years and seven months after I sent them the sequel to my novel, I’m just now realizing it’s okay to tell you how sad I feel. They're never going to read my blog or learn I've publicly acknowledged their disrespect. 

When I confessed to a Giller-prize nominated author and friend what was going on, she wasn't surprised. She advised I find a larger publishing house more worthy of my work. 


Eight months later, here I am. 

Why?

They published the first novel in the series and if they don't publish the second ... 

My validation will be revoked?


If this were you telling me about your publisher, I’d say "You deserve better." 

Beats me why I can’t say it to myself.



 Ask PZM - July ... is slated for Saturday, July 5, 2014.

 This month's Phyllis answers 2 questions:

1. Do you have any new thoughts on traditional publishing vs self-publishing? 
2. What do you think of entering book and story contests?

If you have a question you'd like to ask Phyllis for her ASK PZM: August, email it to cluculzwriter at yahoo dot ca and I'll pass it along. 



Friday, June 20, 2014

Strange Worlds Recipes

Please give a warm welcome for my guest Hank Quense. He's back with another post, this one is a recipe I'm not quite sure about; but hey, I'm a Canuck and we've only ever had roadkill grouse.  The part about the feathers I can attest to, though.

After you pirate borrow Hank's recipe, stop by if you will and visit me at C. Lee Mckenzie's blog. Although I'm here, I'm also there talking about the collaborative anthology I wrote with six fellow authors. Yes, I have super powers and can be in two places at once. When my boys were young, that confused them a lot. Now, not so much. 



Strange Worlds Recipes


My name is Burga.  Im warrior-cook.  Adventuring is my profession, but cooking is my passion and I love collecting new recipes to try.
Ive been a few short stories and the author, Hank Quense, has promised me a staring role in a novel, but the schmuck hasnt done anything about it. As a consequence, I have to share my recipes to get coins to buy spices and herbs. 
Below are two of my best recipes in my collection.

Lily Pad Bundles

No elfin feast ever begins without these delightful bundles. Cuisine: Elfin
Course: Appetizer
Burga Says: A refreshing change from 'ordinary' appetizers.  The pond scum lends a tasty piquant flavor.A good elf buddy of mine and me swapped a dozen recipes recently and this was one I got.  They make a great appetizer although non-elves often get sick from eating the bundles.

Time: One hour: start to finish
Servings: Twelve
Ingredients:
12 large lily pads
½ pound dried pond scum, chopped
½ pound frog tongues, chopped
1 pound wild onions, chopped
1 pound swamp mushrooms, chopped
1 quart cooking oil
Preparation:
1. Combine all ingredients except lily pads
2. In a heavy skillet, cook mixture until heated throughout
3. Remove from heat and cool.
4. Spread equal amounts of mixture on each lily pad
5. Roll up the lily pad and sealed the ends with a bit of water on a finger tip
6.  Drop into hot cooking oil and cook until lily pads turn golden.

Grilled Road Kill

An alien delicacy from Zaftan 31B.  Don't try to cook this one in a hurricane.  And don't ever try to do this indoors. 
Cuisine: Zaftan
Course: Main
Burga Says: Roadkill to Zaftans is a highly-prized delicacy and the presence of a freshly mutilated creature on the roads often sparks murderous disputes, providing even more roadkill
Time: Marinate 8 hours: grill 15 minutes
Servings: Two
Ingredients:
1 three pound roadkill roast
1 cup motor oil
1 quart ethanol
Preparation:
1. Don't bother to skin the meat. Any fur or feathers will burn off in the cooking process
2. If the roadkill isn't a uniform thickness, bash the thick part with a mallet until it thins out.
3. Combine one cup unused motor oil with one quart ethanol. Pour over meat and marinate overnight.
4. Move a grill at least ten yards from any building. Place meat on grill and pour marinade over it,
5. Ignite the grill using an electric sparked with at least ten feet of cable.
6. When the fire dies down, serve the meat.


My complete collection of recipes is a free download. http://strangeworldsonline.com/PDF%20files/SWCookbook.pdf







Hank Quense is the author of 50 published short stories along with four novels and three collections of stories. All of these are humorous and/or satiric scifi and fantasy. In the non-fiction area, he has over a dozen articles published on fiction writing and he's the author of the Fiction Writing Guides series and the Self-publishing Guides series. Both series consist of a number of ebooks. The Fiction Writing Guides and the Self-Publishing Guides are an outgrowth of his lectures on both subjects.



Monday, June 9, 2014

Hosting: Insecure Writer's Support Group

I'm over at IWSG website today, talking about utilizing DEEP POV.

Meanwhile, for your viewing pleasure, a snapshot of our beautiful grandson, Lucius JJ.





Wednesday, June 4, 2014

IWSG: Ask PZM - June 2014



Welcome to Insecure Writer's Support Group day, compliments of our very own fierce and noble Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh. If you think this group sounds like a good place for you and you'd like to join, click here.

It's a simple process:

"Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time. Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post."

Our Twitter Hashtag is #IWSG


Alex's other awesome co-hosts for today are C. Lee McKenzie, Tracy Jo, Melanie Schulz, and LG Keltner! Please stop by and thank them for their time. 

Please help us spread the word about the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Website. And if you don't already know we have a IWSG Facebook site too.




IWSG Facebook Guidelines:

1. Since the focus of IWSG is support, the Facebook page should reflect this ideal.

2. You are encouraged to support your fellow IWSG'ers who share their writerly-related experiences, which include accomplishments/disappointments/challenges, with the rest of the group. Keep in mind that writers are at different points of their respective writerly journeys. Some lurk for a long time, before finding the courage to share with the rest of the group. Since the IWSG is all about community, a word of encouragement or advice may be just what somebody needs. Or even just a smiley face/thumbs up...

3. Promotional Saturday is your opportunity to add a link for any news you may have. The IWSG administrators reserve the right to remove promotional links, especially if they are posted haphazardly.


Now it's time for another post by my IWSG guest host Phyllis Zimbler Miller. If you have a question for Phyllis for our next IWSG (first Wednesday of the month), please forward your question to cluculzwriter at yahoo dot ca and I'm make certain she receives it. 

If you've missed any of Phyllis's posts, just type in Ask PZM in the search window on the right and it'll take you to all of them. 





Q: Is it worthwhile hiring a PR firm to market my books?

The answer to this question depends on several variables.

First, let us assume that you have a marketing budget that can cover the cost of a PR firm’s campaign, which frequently requires a number of months.

What goals do you want this campaign to achieve? Name recognition, validity for future writing projects, book sales?

If you are hoping for big sales, the question becomes:

How will you feel if you get great publicity in numerous places yet do not sell any books?

And, yes, this can happen.

But before you cross off the idea of paying for a PR campaign, consider what else you might achieve:

There is a marketing adage that people need to see a particular message several times before acting on that message. The same can go for name recognition of you or your book.

Having a PR firm get you publicity in places that you could not do so for yourself has the important advantage of getting your name and book in front of new people. And while these people might not buy your book now, if they come across more publicity about you at a later date, they might be motivated to buy your book then.

Then there is the scenario that you have a second book ready to go and want to get attention for that book from agents and/or book publishers. Being able to share links of multiple publicity features for your first book could have a very positive impact on these agents and book publishers.

It is important before hiring a PR firm to know what achievements are most important to you and whether traditional publicity or digital publicity fits better with these goals.

When reviewing what a firm is offering to do for you for a set price and set number of months, make sure that you and the firm are on the same wavelength. A PR company offering a certain number of followers on Twitter, for example, might not fit well with your main priority of getting book reviews in certain publications.

Another important consideration is how much work you are committed to do yourself for a specific PR campaign. If, for example, you are paying for a company to set up a blog tour for you, clarify how many blog posts in what amount of time you will be responsible for writing.

You will also need to know how many physical books you will be required to provide for a PR company’s review campaign for your book. Will the PR company pay for and do the shipping of these books, or will this be your responsibility?

If you have flexibility in the amount of money you are spending on a PR campaign, you may want to pay a company more if the company will handle these shipping chores. Or you may decide that you are happy to do the shipping yourself.

Although deciding to invest in a PR campaign is something that each author has to decide for herself and himself, this decision should be based on careful consideration of the various factors.


Q. What is #MSWL on Twitter?

#MSWL – Manuscript Wish List – is an organized chat that takes place on Twitter in which agents and editors tweet about the books that they are interested in acquiring and include the hashtag #MSWL.

(It is not, regardless of any such tweets you may see, a place to promote your published book for people to buy.)

You do not need to be present during the actual organized chat to see this list. Instead you can put #MSWL in the search bar of Twitter and see the tweets that have been posted with this hashtag. (Agents and editors may add tweets with this hashtag at times other than the organized chat.)

Sometimes the link for submission is put into the #MSWL tweet. Other times you have to click on the person’s Twitter username and read that person’s bio for the link to the agent or publisher site where manuscripts can be submitted.

Although there has been another way of seeing this list by going to http://agentandeditorwishlist.tumblr.com/ – when I checked in order to write this reply I noticed that the list on Tumblr has not been updated recently.

This may be because there is now a dedicated site for this list where you can search by book genre – check it out at mswishlist.com

TWEET #1 -  Is it worthwhile hiring a PR firm to market your books? (Click to tweet)

TWEET #2 - The cons of using a PR Firm to market your book. (Click to tweet)

TWEET #3 - Understanding #MSWL on Twitter.  (Click to tweet)





Phyllis Zimbler Miller on Twitter is at http://twitter.com/ZimblerMiller and she is the author of fiction and nonfiction books on Amazon. Her fiction books on Amazon can be found at www.amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller and her nonfiction books at www.amazon.com/author/phylliszmiller

She is also a digital marketer who blogs on book topics at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com and you can download a free copy of her YA short story PINKY SWEAR at http://www.phylliszimblermiller.com/keep-in-touch/