Monthly Archives: January 2015

Did gremlins lock me out of my website


Every writer needs a website. I once wrote movie reviews for a newspaper, but when the small town paper ran out of space and neglected to inform me of the change, I put the reviews on my website. It is Big Time Movies Small Town Critic I was not writing e-novels at the time. But I now have excerpts from two novels on the site along with other material.

But . . .

I wanted to change the title of my site since I no longer write film reviews. I wanted to change the title to my name and make other changes. When I clicked publish as usual I logged in my password, but an error number popped up. I contacted Yahoo through an e-mail and was told that there was a possible Java problem. They said they were working on it. Weeks later they said it was fixed, but I still could not publish as the same error number popped up. So I can’t make those changes.

But now . . .

Not only can I not publish, when I click my Yahoo Site Builder icon on my desktop, it does not take me to my dashboard where I can work on the site. Is it Yahoo? Is it gremlins? Is it a cyber terrorist attack? Is it Homeland Security? Is it Satan?

If you are unfamiliar with Yahoo customer service, it is like communicating with an alien race from outer space. At one point before I was locked out, Yahoo wanted me to uninstall, then install Site Builder. They said all my files should be there. SHOULD? I am not risking what I built based on should.

I have not heard from  Yahoo in days. I wonder if they are locked out of their email.

So here I sit. A writer who has a website, but can not update, change, or access my site other than as a visitor.

But as a writer I must do  the ‘what if’ game. I think I have a short story here. I will get back with you.

In the meantime have you read Chet Koski’s latest blog? I know he is a fictional character, but he is still real and he can blog.


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Stephen King blows up plots

I can’t count the number of times I have heard writing coaches, or read in magazines like Writers Digest, or in books on writing, discuss plot . . and blah, blah, blah.

But Stephen King in his book “On Writing” has blown up plots. He writes that plots are incompatible with creative spontaneity. He believes stories “pretty much make themselves.” He is right.

Plotting a story is cumbersome and if a writer maps it out before setting out to write the story, then he must follow his plot outline. Having a plot stifles; it dictates what you have to write, where you have to go. There is no room for creative spontaneity.

I believe, as many writers do, that characters tell your story. Before I became a writer I heard writers talk about characters dictating the story. I thought they were nuts. But when I set out to write my first e-novel and the other books I have done or am doing, I found it to be true. The characters you create take on their own life, they move the story forward. Plot? Don’t need it, don’t want it.

I will go even further. It is heresy I am sure, but I pay no attention to story arc or character arc. Rules, blues. Liberate your self from the constraint of constipated dictums.

First comes the situation. In my short story “Flowers for Martha Clemens” an elderly man goes to a cemetery, digs up a grave, and then does something shocking. The story unfolds with two threads; one followed by a missing persons detective, the other by a young cop, neither of which realize their threads are part of the same case. I knew what the man with the shovel did, but I did not plot the story. I made things up as I went along, letting the detective navigate what he discovered back to the grave in the cemetery.

I like all the characters I have created. They live in their world and they neither want nor want a plot. They like their freedom.

My short story mentioned above is found in “Cemetery Tales and other Phantasms.”

And by the way, Chet Koski, a character I created for two novels with his third story on the way, has another blog for you to read.


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Writers need goals, but what does a goal need

I recently heard former NFL coach Herman Edwards say, “A goal without a plan is a wish.” Eight simple words, three of which are ‘a’ which is hardly a word. But how true those simple words are. Not every person has goals, and some that do have little idea how to create a plan for that goal. It is like having a goal to lose weight, but if you keep eating pizza, ice cream, potato chips, and candy bars, you have not created a plan. You have a wish, but not the plan.

I am currently finishing my third book in my loony series. So what is my plan. One I have created a blog by my fictional narrator from the two previous blogs. The Blog is My Real Fictional Life. Chet has talked about what his plans for the blog are and in his second blog talks about how he met Eveleen Sullivan, a story not told in either of the books. The reason is to create a place to market the character and the book, hoping to entice readers. Also to promote the new book when it comes out.

The second part of my plan is to create a free short story about Chet and Eveleen for Kindle readers on Amazon, one that will have links to the other e-novels. Nothing wrong with giving something away to attract more readers.

Another part of the plan is to raise money through Kickstarter for a more professional cover design.

Finding reviewers is difficult, especially those who do not accept fees. I, nor anyone, should pay somebody to review your book. I also plan on using any free or cheap marketing tools to make readers aware of the book. One can Tweet of course, but as a successful writer said, “when was the last time you sold a book because of Twitter?”

I have yet to fully investigate mailing lists or Facebook, but some plan possibilities are ongoing.

I am sure I will add to my plan before publication in early spring. If you are a writer with a plan feel free to share with your comments.


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A promotional tool to promote your book and it’s free

Back in November I blogged about an idea to promote a book and now I am taking my advice. Some background first to show why I am doing this promotion, one that could last for years at no cost. I have written two e-novels and one collection of short stories. I had the idea-especially good if you have a series-to let a character promote my next book-or rather, in my case,  Chester Koski’s next story, since he takes the readers through his two previous e-novels.

Chet first appeared as a 21 year old rookie for the 1911 New York Giants. He had a girlfriend, Eveleen Sullivan, a chorus girl on Broadway. They then appeared in another story that takes place in 1921 in Hollywood, where Chet solves the true life murder of silent film director William Desmond Taylor.

What I am doing, or rather what Chet is doing, is creating his own blog. It is called My Real Fictional Life. Through his blog Chet can talk about his life, tell stories from his novels, even talk about incidents that were not in the books-sort of like a DVD extra. He can also talk about his upcoming story coming out this spring.

What this does is build a relationship between your character and your reader’s and potential readers. I want Chet to be low key, conversational, not an over the top obvious salesman. It is not his nature to be a blowhard, so I am confident he will be himself.

Many writers feel shy about promoting, myself included. But if you like to hide behind your lead character in fiction, why not hide behind the same character in promoting. I will let Chet do the work, and I am sure Eveleen will put in a word or two as well. I am also sure a young flapper named Clancy will have much to say.

And the good thing is the blog can stand alone. The characters can reveal themselves, can be interesting in themselves, talk back and forth with other characters, because the blog should ne natural and entertaining, with the promotional aspects being the characters themselves. If people enjoy the characters, they may want purchase their stories.

My inaugural, excuse me, Chet’s inaugural blog is here.





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What John Gould taught Stephen King

I have not written a blog since December 14th. Hard to find the time when shopping for gifts and stuffing myself with Christmas cookies, cupcakes, candies, assorted treats, ham dinner, and New Years Eve Kahlua. There are other excuses, but we won’t go there.

Let’s begin the new year with what John Gould, editor of Lisbon, Maine’s, newspaper, who, according to Stephen  King, taught him the most valuable lesson on writing. King writes about it in his book “On Writing,” a book every aspiring writer should read.

What Gould said was, “When you write a story, your telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.” The advice is simple and makes sense. The first sentence about writing the story for yourself tells me to write it the way you want to, using anything that comes to mind; forget editing, let your mind go and worry about everything else later. You are writing for yourself. The second sentence is when you have to let go. When you rewrite you are telling the story to the reader. You must ask yourself if every scene, every bit of dialogue, every scene, helps the reader.

In my first e-novel, “Loonies in the Dugout,” I cut out an entire dream sequence near the end of the book. There was nothing bad about the writing, but the scene did not advance the story, did not enlighten in any way, did not reveal anything about the character we did not know, and I asked myself why in the world do I have a dream sequence when I hate dream sequences. Out you go. I deleted the scene into cyberspace where it floats for eternity with no place to go. Good riddance.

You can not fall in love with your story when you rewrite and edit. That is why it is set aside for a period time long enough for you to approach with some degree of objectivity, looking at through the eyes, not of an author, but through the eyes of a reader.

My Amazon author’s page.

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