So you can read my books

Friday, November 15, 2019




     C'mon, admit it: you skim over the "boring parts" as you read print.  It's instinctive by now.

     But skimming robs you of the power and purpose of the words you skim!


     The sounds of the words will bleed into your own writing.  You will begin to "see" words as images.

     It will limit your use of HE SAID/SHE SAID in every line of dialogue.

     Don't tell me those words are invisible to readers -- only to you as you block them out as you write.

     You'll discover new ways to add pauses to the spoken lines.


     Maybe in your voice.  Maybe in the voice of your favorite narrators.

     It will spotlight "kinks" in your paragraphs.

     The audio's will create a Theater of the Mind letting you see words as images.


     Stephen King stresses that the more you read the deeper your perspective will be in your books.

     You'll read in places you couldn't with a print book: in bed, exercising, gardening, commuting.

     You'll discover favorite narrators and seek out books they narrate no matter the genre and 

your literary horizons will expand, enriching your prose, breathing new ides into your future novels.



     I got Arthur C Clarke's 2001 for $2!  The intro was by Clarke himself, detailing the unique way he wrote the book.

     I got BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S read by Michael C Hall of DEXTER fame (great narrator) for $2!

     Craig Johnson of LONGMIRE fame detailed at the end of one of his books the origin of his hero and how he writes.  Great lessons.



     You'll learn new words from their use in context of the action of the novels.  

     You'll repeat crutch words less as you insert the new words into your prose.


ONLY $7.49!

Elu finally escapes his Mirror Prison only to face an insane Abraham Lincoln and 

the eternal prankster Mark Twain ... which fate is worse would be hard to call!

 Here is John Two Hawks with lyrics

Tuesday, November 12, 2019


 The ghost of Hemingway sat down opposite me, whisky glass in hand. 

"What are you writing?"

"An email, ah, computer letter to a friend having a hard time getting her novel written."

He snorted "If you have to have your hand held, then you have no business being a writer."

I glanced up from my laptop and looked at him through the bronze mists of Meilori's, saying low,

"You once said,

'Writing, at its best, is a lonely life.'"

He nodded, "I was right then.  I am double right now."

I smiled sadly,

"We all walk in the dark, sir.  But that doesn't mean we have to walk it alone."

"You trouble me sometimes, Roland."

I said, "You once said writing had the “the emotional and spiritual intensity and pure classic beauty” few other endeavors ever possess."

Hemingway gruffed, "Pay heed to your own wisdom and not to others if you would write true."

 "It never hurts to look in the past to see if you can find in it a better path to your future."

Hemingway snorted, "I need a drink after that."

He gulped the rest of his whisky down.  "You want advice to give your friends?  Here's some:

When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters.


A character is a caricature.

If a writer can make people live there may be no great characters in his book,

but it is possible that his book will remain as a whole; as an entity; as a novel.

If the people the writer is making talk of old masters; of music; of modern painting; of letters; or of science

then they should talk of those subjects in the novel.

If they do not talk of those subjects and the writer makes them talk of them he is a faker,

and if he talks about them himself to show how much he knows then he is showing off.

No matter how good a phrase or a simile he may have

if he puts it in where it is not absolutely necessary and irreplaceable he is spoiling his work for egotism.

Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque period is over." 

The ghost of F Scott Fitzgerald sat down lazily beside me.  "Posh, old boy.  Even my eyes glazed at that."

He smiled at me.  "I will tell you a secret about most writers:

I’m afraid the price for doing professional work is a good deal higher than they are prepared to pay at present.

You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner.

This is especially true when you begin to write,

when you have not yet developed the tricks of interesting people on paper, when you have none of the technique which it takes time to learn. When, in short, you have only your emotions to sell.

This is the experience of all writers.

It was necessary for Dickens to put into Oliver Twist the child’s passionate resentment at being abused and starved that had haunted his own abused childhood.

One of Ernest’s first stories ‘In Our Time’ went right down to the bottom of all that he had ever felt and known.

In ‘This Side of Paradise’ I wrote about a love affair that was still bleeding as fresh as the skin wound on a haemophile.

The amateur, seeing how the professional having learned all that he’ll ever learn about writing

can take a trivial thing such as the most superficial reactions of three uncharacterized girls and make it witty and charming —

the amateur thinks he or she can do the same.

But the amateur can only realize his ability to transfer his emotions to another person

by some such desperate and radical expedient as tearing your first tragic love story out of your heart and putting it on pages for people to see.

That, anyhow, is the price of admission.

Whether you are prepared to pay it or, whether it coincides or conflicts with your attitude on what is ‘nice’ is something for you to decide.

But literature, even light literature, will accept nothing less from the neophyte.

It is one of those professions that wants the ‘works.’

You wouldn’t be interested in a soldier who was only a little brave, would you?"

Hemingway snorted, "What would you know of 'brave?'"

Fitzgerald smiled drily, "I was married to Zelda, remember?"

He turned to me.

"If you want to get into the big time, you have to have your own fences to jump and learn from experience.

Nobody ever became a writer just by wanting to be one.

If you have anything to say, anything you feel nobody has ever said before, you have got to feel it so desperately that you will find some way to say it that nobody has ever found before,

so that the thing you have to say and the way of saying it blend as one matter—as indissolubly as if they were conceived together."

The ghost of Mark Twain settled in the chair on the other side of me as he shook his head.

"Lord, but don't you boys love to pontificate in prose storm clouds!"

He slapped my arm.  "I will tell you the simple secrets of writing well:

An author should say what he is proposing to say, not merely come near it.

He should use the right word, not its second cousin.

And above all else he should eschew surplusage!"

Hemingway groused, "I need another drink."


Monday, November 11, 2019


War is fire and explosions and machine guns pounding and dying men screaming for help. 

Military service is getting trained for that,

 all the while the instructors knowing there is no preparing you 

for being shot at, the pain of being wounded, and seeing those around you die or writhe in agony ... 

with help nowhere in sight.

Serving is seeing corruption in all layers of the military, spiteful tugs-of-war between rival high-ranking officers ...

veteran sergeants receiving nonsense, sometimes suicidal, orders from green lieutenants. 

Millions of dollars are spent in training our troops, 

but mere cents go to treating the gaping wounds to the souls and spirits of those veterans who survived the madness.

There was a certain healing in WWII of the soldiers returning home by ship in groups

where they had time to talk to one another of the hell they had gone through.

From Viet Nam onward, 

individual soldiers leave a war zone by air and in a matter of hours, they return solo to a country 

where lemonade is sold by children on street corners

 and people look relaxed without the hollow eyes the soldier sees in the mirror.

Policy-makers little know what they are asking of the men they send into combat 

and of the traumatized men who return from the wars they blithely start.

Soldiers deal with death. They take life away from others. This is a task we think belongs to God.

Young men (and now women) are whisked away from high school or college 

and asked to take up the role of God.  

And we wonder why they come back damaged.

Now, in this age of the remote-controlled drone, 

a man can lay explosive waste to a compound in the Middle East and

return home to eat dinner with his wife and tiny daughter.

This is an insane world, facing insane enemies without moral compass or restraint.

So we ask insane things of our soldiers.  

No man can walk a dark road of madness, violence, long stretches of boredom, filled with fury and strangers ...

without becoming a stranger to himself. 

So, yes, veterans deserve a day to be valued.  

Next time you see a veteran,
 say a small prayer for him or her.
They've had their taste of Hell,
 They could use a bit of Heaven.

Friday, November 8, 2019


C. Lee McKenzie emailed me:

I’d love to know more about how you did the audible. It’s something I hadn’t considered until hearing your book.

I thought if Lee had questions, many of you might have as well.  So here goes:

It can be expensive --

There is a price per finished hour of audio – which can vary from $200-$400.

So for a 90,000 word book, this would come out at around 10 hours of finished audio – costing between $2000 and $4000.

This may sound steep –

{Only $1.99 if buy the Kindle book}

but a 10 hour finished book will have at least 75 hours of solid work behind it – 

recording, editing and final quality check (it takes 10 hours just to listen to it!).

If you divide it out, this is paying the actor about $27 per hour on the lower rate – 

which is not not excessive for a professional running a business.  

You shake your head, "How hard could this editing be?"

Editing an audio book is a painstaking job –

removing the errors from the recording 

and maybe adding in pauses for effect or cutting long gaps to smooth out dialogue.

In addition you have to be listening out for and then remove, 

all the strange wheezes and pops, coughs and clunks and stomach gurgles that somehow get onto the track.

Add to this the removal of odd external street noises (police sirens, dogs barking etc) 

which are inevitable if you do not record in a sound-proofed room or have a directional mic.

There is some art involved in this –

deciding to leave a noisy breath in the middle of a sentence or

 removing one from the beginning of a phrase will depend on the flow and context of the passage.

Many authors have not planned in advance for a paragraph to be read aloud 

and this makes the job of the recording artist quite a challenge.

 Frequently there are gaspings as the poor actor struggles to get in enough air after a long sentence with many sub-clauses or commas!



(Lee ask your publisher if you have the audio rights to your books.  

If not, ask them if they could grant them to you since they are not going to use them.  

To use ACX you must own the audio rights to your book.)

For those of you who haven’t visited ACX – you should –

it is a brilliant uploading service for independent producers and authors.

They allow authors to advertise for the type of narrator they would like (accent, age, style etc) 

and provide an audition text for any interested party to use to record a sound test. 

The auditions come in, the author selects the one they like best and then the narrator goes off to do the work.

  It is a really simple utility to use 

and it marries authors and producers up and handles contracts, payments, sign offs etc 

and then gets the finished job up onto Amazon, Audible and iTunes.

They offer all sorts of payment options for producers –

including royalty splits and they then handle the payments to you when the book sales start flooding in….

With this option your outlay is minimal – you are just sacrificing half your future royalties.

But since the narrator is looking at continuing to be paid, she/he is motivated to do her or his very best work to spread "word of mouth." -- so to speak.

On the other hand -- 

when you as an author offer a royalty share deal to a narrator, you are asking them to work for free.  

Hopefully, it will pay off eventually, but that’s not guaranteed. 

The narrator is taking a risk – 

it could really pay off, given that there’s no upper limit to what a royalty share title could earn. 

However, it could completely flop, and if it does, the narrator is out of luck.   

Many quality narrators will no longer do Royalty Share for that reason.


The option of paying a low per-finished-hour rate, such as $50 – $100 per finished hour, 

plus royalty share, to cover the cost of editing or at least provide a baseline pay 

for the narrator in case the audiobook sales don’t come through spectacularly. 

This is referred to as a “hybrid” deal. 

The way this would work through ACX 

is that the author and narrator would create a royalty share contract, 

and then the author would also pay the narrator the agreed upon rate.  

The hybrid arrangement seems to be a “sweet spot” for a lot of other narrators I’ve talked to –

the best of both worlds. 

This would be a good thing to be prepared to offer if you don’t have the budget 

to offer a pay-for-production deal, but want to attract a good quality narrator.


2. Create an account (click on the big Get Started button after admiring Neil Gaiman for a minute)

3. This account works with your Amazon account - so you'll have the same sign in and password

4. Creating an account here is very similar to creating an account on any e-book platform - just follow the directions and fill in the info

5. Confirm you own the rights to your titles. 

This is similar to adding your books to your Author Central account, sort of an is this book yours? within ACX and then you confirm if it is or isn't.

6. Next comes the bit I found the most tedious - creating your title profile

a. Post a cover photo (don't worry, it's not the FINAL cover art)

b. Post a description

c. Post an excerpt for narrators to audition with

d. Post a write up of anything else potential narrators and producers need to know -

for example, I stated that I needed a female narrator that could handle doing a proper British accent.

e. Post word count, territories (most will be Worldwide like with e-books)

f. Choose your royalty.

 This is where you decide if you are going to pay an upfront hourly rate or royalty share.

Obviously, if you pay's going to cost something.

If you do the royalty share, you don't pay anything upfront, but you do split all of your royalties with the narrator/producer 50/50.


Audible takes 60% of the price.  
You and the narrator 
get 20% each of what is left.

 I chose to share my royalties, and in fact am happy to share my royalties. 

I honestly feel like my narrators put just as much work into creating the audio books as I did writing the books!

 7. Now your title profiles are listed on ACX for narrators and producers to peruse. 

(A lot of the narrators are also the producers.)

You can wait for them to come to you, but I have no patience, 

so I started listening to narrator auditions right away. 

(Go up to Search and click on Narrators for hire.)

If you have any more questions, friends, just email me.  :-)

Wednesday, November 6, 2019


Parents express frustration 
at how difficult it can be to get 
their dyslexic children to read. 

It makes sense that dyslexic children 
don’t want to read – 

who likes to spend time doing 
something that can be so difficult? 

 Reading is one of the important ways that 
students acquire knowledge about the world.

And, reading also enhances one’s vocabulary,
which in turn facilitates thinking.

One of the answers is text-to-speech technology… 
in other words,

  Children with dyslexia 
can comprehend books that 
they hear at a much higher level 
than they can read.  

So, to keep developing their oral language,
including their vocabulary 
and their understanding 
of literary syntax, 

 they need to be exposed to books at their oral comprehension level,
 rather than being limited to 
books they can read independently.

Write a Kindle book,
and the text to speech option
is easily accessed
by dyslexic children.

For a more polished narration,
audio books provide a
more entertaining 
and affordable 

Listening to audio books
helps children
to understand
and remember
how words are pronounced.

Royalty Share Plus gives you access to an upper echelon of producers 

who in the past may have only taken pay-for-production deals, 

while still being able to produce your audiobook affordably at a rate that suits your budget. 

Through the Royalty Share Plus contract, you may negotiate a lower Per-Finished-Hour fee 
than through the Pay-for-Production contract because the Producer will receive a share of royalties upon completion of the audio book. 

A beginning narrator
may still accept a simple
Royalty Share
ACX  gets 50% of the sales,
he gets 25%,
and you the other 25%

It's a way for both you and the narrator to get your work out there.

And perhaps to help the world 
of a Dyslexic student
to grow richer.
How cool would that be?

Oh, by the way ...
I really want to see this TV series
next year