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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Gotten a NEGATIVE REVIEW online?




Try not to cringe too much.



Take the Great Wall of China ...

Yes, it has gotten more than 9.000 Google reviews:

Not very tall. Or big. Just sayin. I kinda liked it. Sort of.”

or this one:

“I don’t see the hype in this place it’s really run down and old … 

why wouldn’t you update something like this? No USB plug ins or outlets anywhere.” 


Or take Shakespeare ...

Yeah, that guy.

Take the 2 Star review of Hamlet on Amazon:

 “Whoever said Shakespeare was a genius lied. 

Unless genius is just code word for boring, then they’re spot on. 

Watch the movie version so you only waste two hours versus 20.”



The Washington Post recently reported that a third of American adults 

use a computer or phone to buy something at least once a week:  

“about as often as we take out the trash.” 


And as you have read ... 
trash is what many online reviews are.

 Yet, with the many reports that many 5 Stars reviews are fake, 

people may depend on negative reviews more than positive ones 

because they see them as more trustworthy. 

 Reviews are subjective,
and the tiny subset of people 
who leave them aren’t average.



Duncan I. Simester , a Nanyang Technological University Professor of Management Science, 

MIT Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

said in a 2016 study:

“Very few people write reviews. 
It’s about 1.5%, or 15 people out of 1,000. 
Should we be relying on these people 
if we’re part of the other 985?” 

Another reason to be wary is roughly one in 15 people review products that

they haven’t actually purchased or used or read, according to Dr. Simester. 

 The problem is consumers are bad at determining which reviews are based 

on actual experiences and which aren’t, said Dr. Simester. 

“We are easily fooled.”


WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT ONLINE REVIEWS?

HAVE BEEN BURNED BY ANY 
THAT YOU FELT WERE BIASED?

Now, for a bit of fun 
to counter-balance all these statistics: 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

WHAT MAKES A BARE-CHESTED COVER ORIGINAL?



In only a little over a month, Heather McCorkle's latest novel is unleashed upon the cyber-world.

Twice Turned, her next novel in her paranormal series 

about modern day Viking werewolves, is coiled ready to pounce upon her many fans.

I think Heather's cover is original and imaginative,

linking a bare chest to the werewolf the protagonist becomes 

and not to the embrace of a clothing-challenged maiden.






 Let's talk about those covers and the bad rap they get based on the stereotype.

 As Iago said in Othello, 

"Reputation is an idle and most false imposition, 

oft got without merit and lost without deserving."

So Remember:

 It's a romance cover, and with that comes a certain level of expectation.

 Romances in general are female fantasy.  

Of course, women would want to fantasize about Ryan Gosling not Pee Wee Herman!

50 million Elvis fans revitalized the music scene, 

and those who pick up romances help create a billion-dollar book industry!


It used to be you wanted to have a cover that would snare the reader from the store shelf.

But store shelves are shrinking, and the books on them change faster than Taylor Swift's boyfriends!

So you want covers that jump off the screen, covers that are eye-catching,

 and capture the attention of people who are browsing with the swipe of a finger.


Look at how Gal Gadot recently got the attention of her male fans with her Instagram photo

to promote WW 84 just now in production.


It certainly got mine.  :-)


SO WHAT DO YOU THINK OF 
HEATHER McCORKLE'S LATEST COVER?

DOES IT TWEAK YOUR INTEREST?

Saturday, June 16, 2018

FATHER'S DAY/SINGLE MOTHERS

Fathers.

As a counselor, I have seen too many doughnut burns --


when a child is shoved into a tub of scalding water, 

the anus tightens in response so that the burn is round with a ring of unburned skin in the center.


I have counseled too many daughters of sexually abusing fathers whose scars, though invisible, will never completely heal.

Single mother households are unfortunately becoming the new “norm.” 

There are a total of 15 million children living without a father in the US alone.

Despite of that, many fatherless children are still succeeding with the help of their mothers.

Many of the hollow-eyed waitresses and sales clerks you meet will be heroic single mothers attempting what sometimes feels to be an impossible task.





According to the 2013 census, 84% of custodial parents are mothers whereas fathers are 15%.

It is my feeling that Single Mothers deserve presents on Father’s Day.

Ladies, you are a gift to society. 


Without your courageous characteristics to take on the responsibilities of your own and others, where would many of us be?

 My last memory of my own father is his receding car speeding down the street called Skid Row in Detroit after he abandoned me there. 

 I can still remember running after his car, screaming, "Daddy, Daddy!"


A street person, Maude, and her little dog, Tufts, took mercy on me for six weeks

 until she conjured the courage to bring me to the Salvation Army outpost (she had a paranoid fear of uniforms.)



In FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE and END OF DAYS, you will find me tipping my Stetson to their memory.




My mother was a single mother, and she handled Father's Day creatively:


She pointed out the verse in Psalm 68:5 -

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.



So I have always thought of Father's Day as Holy and God as The Father.



But what about other single mothers?


How do they handle Father's Day do you think?


Do they have a unique way of celebrating it? Does it make them sad? Angry?


Some mothers get mad at others thinking they should get a nod at Father's Day, saying  

"I am a woman not a man! I am a mother not a father!"


This extreme reaction says to me they obviously have unresolved issues concerning being a single mother. 

Or do you think differently?

The creator of Father's Day was a single man named Charles Berlitz, whose father, Howard Berlit, died of cancer in 1867. 

Charles made the day up to remember him.

Mr. Berlitz unintentionally made a day that is often sour for struggling single mothers and lonely children.


And the questions come murmuring in the night:

“Why don’t my children have the loving father they deserve?”

“Why do I have to do everything and he does nothing?”

“Why must I struggle financially, because he chooses to pay no child support?”

What would you say to them?
***

Thursday, June 14, 2018

SOMETHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN



Novellas (long short stories) are starting to make a comeback.

But they have been around for a while.


  • Animal Farm (George Orwell)
  • A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)
  • Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson)
  • The Turn of the Screw (Henry James)
  • The Time Machine (H.G. Wells)

Now. they are starting to rear their print heads again.


Jason Arthur of Penguin Random House was quoted as saying

 “If a novel is something that you can lose yourself in, get comfortable in and spend weeks reading, a short story will give you a blast like a cold shower.”


 Stephen King loves reading and writing short stories.  

So do I.

I will take his advice:

"You should write because it brings you happiness and fulfillment. I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.”

I am currently working on a collection of new short stories -


SILHOUETTES IN THE KEY OF SCREAM
 (which includes these new tales)

THE DEAD HAVE NO SAY -

 A post WWII movie lot at night.  A sociopathic prop master.  

A severed hand. A dying actress. 

All elements of a strange revenge whose victim is not who you think.



THE LEFT HAND OF GOD -

A small village that hates God. 

 A series of mysterious disappearances of its priests. 

And why do the rose bushes of the rectory bloom so lushly?


  
ALIVE YET NOT -

The things that death can buy are often not what they seem. An aging crime lord finds that the dead are past bargaining with.





 DO YOU READ SHORT STORIES?

DO YOU WRITE THEM?

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF MY STORIES?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

HOW TO GET READERS TO NOTICE YOUR BOOK




We all want to write a best-seller.  Not for fame nor for fortune.  

Just to be able to support ourselves living out our dream.

But how to do that?


I could date Margo Robbie, of course, but I think her new husband might object.  

And he is really big!

No.  

We will have to do it the old-fashioned way: by using the tools at hand the best way we know how.

HOW TO ULYSSES YOUR WAY 
TO NOVEL SUCCESS

1.) SUCKER PUNCH YOUR READER WITH THE FIRST SENTENCE

The thinking behind the studio's thinking on making movie trailers of late is 

TO MAKE IT SO COMPELLING THAT PEOPLE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO BUY A TICKET 

no matter what the critics say.


The first sentence to my story in TALES TO BE TOLD AT MIDNIGHT is

"The rape had been the best thing to have happened to her."

How could you not want to read on?  

And remember the FIRST LOOK option on Amazon will hook your reader 

if you just set the bait correctly.


2.) LEARN FROM THE MOST POPULAR GIRL IN HIGH SCHOOL

BE FAST.  

Not free.  People value what they pay for.

But put out ... as quickly as you can with quality one after another.  

 You want to have other books to offer should lightning strike and you gain a fan.

Which leads me into the next point:




3.) BRAND YOURSELF WITH A SERIES

It won't hurt much, 

but it will give a new fan certainty 

of enjoying more adventures with the characters she or he has grown to love.

Readers who like one novel will confidently buy the next.

And the series name will draw the eye of past readers browsing thumbnails of your book covers.

Which leads me to my next point:


4.) LET YOUR TITLE BE LIKE THE SKIRTS OF THAT POPULAR GIRL

BE SHORT

Choose a brief emotive title. Pack it with meaning, menace and drama.

 Why short? 

Your cover will shrink to a fingernail on Kindle and other mobile devices. 

So make it legible!

James Patterson uses such titles: 

ZOO, THE FIRE, WITCH & WIZARD, THE QUICKIE

Which, of course, leads me to the next point as well


 4.) ATTENTION SPANS HAVE CHANGED

TV sound bites, Twitter feeds, Buzz feeds, Facebook posts ...

All of them have conditioned those who still read to bore easily.

A bored reader is more dangerous to us than any lion, for you will lose them as customers.

Keep your sentences as short as models' skirts.

James Patterson is the expert here. 

His sentences average just six words. 

His paragraphs are typically no longer than five lines and often just one line.

Tell your story your way, but if it is to make an impact there is a model to follow.


 5.) WE ARE A LONELY SOCIETY 

Give your MC a foil character with whom to talk ... even if it is only the moon.

Even Tom Hanks had Wilson, the basketball, 

with whom to share his innermost thoughts and fears on that island.

Conversations with the buddy character can introduce conflict to keep a scene alive, 

give the main character a plausible sounding board for their woes and triumphs, 

and also prompt the protagonist to reveal  information.

 Foil characters also furnish sub-plots. 

Get them into troubles of their own. Make them victims.
  
Use a foil as a series character in your every novel as I do with Mark Twain 

in my NOT-SO-INNOCENTS series and in my Egyptian Victorian fantasies.



6.) A PLOT WORTHY OF A MOVIE



Dueling vampire empires, alien evil clashing with ancient darkness, 

Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Nikola Tesla -- 

all worrying less about saving the world than 

saving their friend who is married to a demon-empress,

poised to set all the world ablaze with her dark ambition.

Outlandish but so was SHE and LORD OF THE RINGS.

You must strive to craft a riveting plot worthy of your reader.


7.) WATER COOLER DIALOGUE

My blood center still has a water cooler and coffee maker where workers chat a bit during the day.

Work to have your dialogue be quoted at the water cooler of today's culture:

Twitter, Facebook, Buzz Feeds, personal blogs.

There is a reason NIKE sells ball caps and T-shirts with their logo.

Be as smart as NIKE, have your fans advertise for you.

I HOPE THIS HELPS 
IN SOME SMALL WAY, 
ROLAND

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

THE ORIGINAL ONE PUNCH MAN



The most disastrous moment of John Ford’s illustrious Hollywood career 

took place at the U.S. Navy base on Midway Island in the Pacific Ocean in September 1954.


The legendary film director was starting work on "Mister Roberts," 

the movie version of the fabulously successful Broadway play, starring his old friend Henry Fonda.


  From the moment they got to the location, Ford and Fonda clashed.  

Fonda felt it was neither as funny nor as nuanced as the original play.

Producer Leland Hayward arranged for a clear-the-air meeting in Ford’s room in the Bachelor Officer’s Quarters.

Ford was sprawled on a chaise lounge with a tall drink in his hand. 

Before Fonda could finish explaining his concerns, Ford sprang up and punched him in the face.

The actor fled the room in stunned silence.




Fifteen minutes later, Ford knocked on Fonda’s door and stumbled through a tearful, abject apology, but things were never the same.

Ford, a life-long alcoholic, started grimly working his way through a case of chilled beer each day on the set.

"Mister Roberts" was a box-office hit, and won three Academy Awards, including Jack Lemmon’s first, for best supporting actor.

But Ford and Fonda were both bitterly disappointed. They never worked together again.

{John Ford's Point}

The Western had been John Ford’s favorite movie genre ever since he first arrived in Hollywood 40 years earlier in the formative days of moving pictures.

At the moment of Ford’s greatest need, his longtime friend and business partner, Merian C. Cooper, came up with the idea for a Western he thought John Ford would find irresistible.


"The Searchers," a new novel by author and screenwriter Alan LeMay, was a captivity narrative set in Texas during pioneer days.

It was based in part on a true story — the abduction of a nine-year-old girl in East Texas in 1836 by Comanche raiders.

While "The Searchers" pays homage to the familiar themes of the classic Western, it also undermines them.

Its central character possesses all of the manly virtues and dark charisma of the Western hero yet is tainted by racism and crazed by revenge, his quest fueled by hatred.

His goal is not to restore his lost niece to the remnants of their broken family but to kill her, because she has grown into a young woman and has become a Comanche bride.


At the heart of "The Searchers" is John Wayne’s towering performance. Wayne had portrayed morally ambiguous men before, but in "The Searchers" he is darker, angrier and more troubled than ever.

This dark knight is determined to exterminate the damsel and anyone who stands in his way. Still, because he is played by John Wayne, his charisma draws us in, making us complicit in his terrible vendetta.

Largely overlooked in its time — it was not nominated for a single Academy Award –


"The Searchers" has become recognized as one of the greatest of Hollywood movies.

It was extraordinarily influential on a generation of modern American filmmakers —

from Steven Spielberg to George Lucas to Martin Scorsese — imprinting itself on their psyches and their ambitions during their formative years.

Just as Ernest Hemingway noted that “all modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called 'Huckleberry Finn,'

Film critic Stuart Byron once declared, “in the same broad sense it can be said that all recent American cinema derives from John Ford’s 'The Searchers.'”



Monday, June 11, 2018

JOHN WAYNE died today



“Myth is much more important and true than history. 
History is just journalism and you know how reliable that is.”
- Joseph Campbell

Oddly enough, we tend to disapprove of figures from yesteryear for not living according to the mores of today.

All the while not realizing that the accepted conventions of today will be different decades from now,

and we may well find ourselves tarred with the same brush with which we have stained others from the past.


If we are remembered at all.

 

John Wayne became a star because of a friendship believe it or not.

John Ford was a hard man, deeply flawed but loyal to his friends. 

I wrote of Ford in my science fantasy, HER BONES ARE IN THE BADLANDS:


Ford literally changed the course of Wayne's career: 

starting as his prop man and stunt man, he gradually progressed until he became his major star, especially in Westerns. 

The relationship between Ford and Wayne was unique, going beyond director-actor collaboration. 

Ford molded Wayne into a distinct screen personality in a manner that sculptors work with clay. 

 Ford also served as a father figure.

Wayne's parents divorced when he was in high school 

and Ford fulfilled parental functions at a time when Wayne was confused about his career and lacked direction for the future.



 Salute (1929), in which Wayne had his first speaking role, marked the beginning of that friendship. 

 An incident during the shooting accounted to a large extent for the mutual respect they held for each other. 

Wayne enjoyed telling it in great detail: 

“They'd always ask how I'd  crouched to bust the line as a football player, and then they'd trip you. 

 It was a corny joke, but I always tried to be patient.

 Ford tried it and I went flat on my face in the mud. 

 I said, 'let's try it again,' 

only this time I turned suddenly and let him have my foot right where it would do the most good. 

This was daring with an important director, but Ford loved it.” 

 After this picture, Ford and Wayne “learned to share all the secrets of friendship.”


I hope you enjoyed learning a little known part of John Wayne's life.

 IS "JOHN WAYNE" A FORGOTTEN NAME TO YOU?

WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU HEAR HIS NAME?