So you can read my books

Monday, March 31, 2014


The A to Z Challenge is but minutes away ...

The Outlaw Trail looms before me ...

There will be calls for a lynching from bloggers all over the Net.

But the ghost of Mark Twain urges me onward ....

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Cell Phone-itis:

What is wrong with everyone?

It's like half of our population has been drugged and cannot walk a foot without the blue light of their phone screen guiding them.

Follow me, follow me, it whispers.

Glassy-eyed, they march along the pavements glued to their social network like the Walking Dead

How many times a day do you check your smartphone?

According to the Mobile Mindset Study conducted by security app Lookout,

 58 percent of U.S. smartphone owners check their phones at least every hour -- and a large share check their phones while in bed or in the bathroom.
What were once considered bad behaviors have now become social norms,

according to the following statistics (though that doesn't mean they're not annoying):

    When at a meal with someone else, 30 percent of participants say they check their phones.
      Think that's bad? Forty percent check their phones on the toilet.
When driving, 24 percent admit to checking their phones.
    During a religious service at a house of worship, 9 percent of participants check their phones.  
One of the tragedies of this phonophilia is surely that people just don't like looking each other in the eye any more.
    They're far more comfortable typing their news -- especially bad news -- over a phone.

    They dump their lovers by text. Or, if they're still deeply in love with them --

    but just can't get over their fears that they themselves are not quite good enough -- they'll use the Skype app or FaceTime.
They persuade themselves that if they type into a screen, their feelings will be more accurate and more thoughtful.
They feel sure that, if they hurt the other person, they won't actually have to see their tears.


When the series killed the mother, Laurie, (having her young son shoot her after giving birth to his baby sister) ...

I just went:  "Seriously?" 

I stopped watching then but my co-workers dragged me to the lastest episode.

Now they have this Terminus (yeah, like that's not a foreboding name for a sanctuary or anything?) plotline --

Plus did you catch a glimpse of what Mary (Denise Crosby) was cooking when Glenn, Maggie and company first arrived at Terminus?! 

Alice Wentworth and I don't know about you, but that looked like an arm on the grill to us!

Even actor, Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick Grimes asked the creators of the show if they weren't going a little too far in the finale.


My friends knowing how much I like fantasy insisted I watch an episode of it.  It was RED WEDDING ...

and red did not refer to the wine! 

I am definitely a dinosaur entertainment-wise.  Obviously, thoughtful, clever plots are a thing of the past.  Only CGI, sex, and gore need apply.


Our culture has plainly gotten something wrong with it.

The selfie craze has gotten out of hand.

It started as a bit of fun but now turns out to be a descent into heartless self-obsession and inane photophilia that turns a perfectly normal-looking individual

into a cold Warholian observer of death and disaster, whose only reaction to another's pain is to take a picture of herself in front of the scene she chanced on.

And is that a smile she's cracking?


Adolescent pop poppet Justin Bieber constantly Tweets photos of himself with his shirt off to the shrieking delight of his huge online following.

Rihanna has treated her fans to Instagrammed selfies of her enjoying the view at a strip club, of her buttocks barely concealed by a tiny denim thong and of her posing with two oversize cannabis joints while in Amsterdam.

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian overshares to the extent that, in March, she posted a picture of her own face covered in blood after undergoing a so-called "vampire facial."

In the same month, the selfie-obsessed model and actress Kelly Brook banned herself from posting any more of them (her willpower lasted two hours.)

But if selfies are simply an exercise in recording private memories and charting the course of our lives,

then why do we feel such a pressing need to share them with hundreds and thousands of friends and strangers online?

It is a puzzlement to me.

Most teenage girls do not like the reflection the mirror shows them on a daily basis, yet they are confident enough to take a selfie and post for all the internet to see.

Back in the day, only superstars or famous people were noticed.

Today, social media which allows other users to like or comment on postings has made it quick and easy for the ordinary person to fish for compliments.

To some, the selfie has become the ultimate symbol of the narcissistic age. Its instantaneous nature encourages superficiality.

Research shows that there’s a direct relationship between how many selfies you share on social media and how close your friends feel to you.

There are many possible explanations for this finding, including the self-portrait artist looking or being self-absorbed or lonely or lacking the social skills to know when to say when.

In our Peacock Culture, selfies seem as natural as the LOOK AT ME! or BUY MY BOOK! tweets on Twitter.

Speaking of which --


As an Indie author myself, I understand authors have to promote/market their books/ebooks to get sales,

but how often do you actually click on a Twitter, Facebook, Goodread, etc., link to a book/ebook?

Are you tired of seeing millions of authors promoting their works on social media and simply dismiss promotions on social media?

Do you click on one in ten book/ebook promotions?

One in a hundred? One in a million?

Never click on a book/ebook promo because you're sick and tired of seeing them pop up all the time?

  I occasionally tweet about my books, but I’m convinced no one pays any attention. 

Most likely, my messages blend with all the others in the endless clutter of promotional tweets vying for people’s attention.

How do you promote your work?

How often have you seen "Blah blah blah buy this book" or "Available for free on Amazon for X days only" and just bypassed it?



I've decided to be kind to your eyes.

A short post.
Hibbs, the cub with no clue, just gave his 'that'll be the day' snicker.

That's enough out of you, fur face.

But on to the topic of today's post:

How time gilds the guilty.

It is the season of our city's second Mardi Gras:

Contraband Days. It is based upon a bit of our city's colorful history --

Almost three centuries ago, a notorious and ruthless pirate, Jean Lafitte,

 fled to this region with his band of buccaneers as enemy ships pursued him on his way west to Galveston, Texas.

Legend has it that Lafitte would hide out along the waterways here in Lake Charles.

Whispers around the campfires have it that his favorite hideout was Contraband Bayou in Lake Charles.

If you set out on your boat upon its silver glass surface at night, it is said you may see his ghost, looking in vain for his lost treasure.

In fact, the bayou got its name from the rumored gold and silver hidden somewhere along its winding length.

Hence the name of our festival: Contraband Days.

There was other contraband in Lafitte's ships:


It is rumored that he often sold slaves to Jim Bowie in the waterways of Lake Charles.

As you can imagine, many of our black citizens take an underwhelmed view towards a festival where the contraband might well have been some of their ancestors.

But the Cajun spirit to party hardy is not easily put aside.

So Contraband Days stays as the city's largest festival. The money it adds to the city's pockets is nothing to sneeze at either.

The ghost of Jean Lafitte is probably laughing somewhere tonight in the bayou's billowing mist.

And thanks to David Walston:
We have a lighter moment from ...

Saturday, March 29, 2014


"Hell is other people."

Jean-Paul Sarte wrote that a long time ago.
A good friend quoted it last night in an email.

Recently, she received a rejection from what she called an Uber-Agent.

The agent wrote that if my friend was too stupid to know how to change the formatting of her email then she was too stupid for the agent's time.


When I first started out, I got a similar reply, and I learned how to do it.

I wrote my friend how to change her format. It's a guy-thing.

We hear a friend tell of a problem, we tell how to fix it.

Counselor Rule #1: Listen beneath the words.

My friend is smart. She learned how to format all on her own, thank you very much. No. That wasn't the problem.

Most agents are just like us:

Overworked, underpaid, wondering how to pay the mounting bills in this harsh economy.

You really can't blame them for looking for new ways out of growing debt.

Counselor Rule #2: Cruelty is never personal.

Now, when your nose has just been broken by a bully, it's hard to convince your pain of that. But it's true.

Cruelty is all about some lack, some insecurity in the instigator of it.


The Uber-Agent did my friend a favor.

The cutting rejection was just the tip of the iceberg.

It implied that the agent took the ability to hurt without consequence as license to do so.

I certainly wouldn't want a business partnership with a sadist. I want a professional.

There is a reason we lock the doors when we leave home.

Not everyone is a crook. But they are out there.

Moral: Never wear a raw meat necklace in the jungle.

Counselor Rule #3 : Would you just shut up and do Rule #1.

My friend wrote me because she was beginning to believe that the world of agenting was harsh, greedy, and pain-inflicting.

Counselor Rule #4 : Sometimes the other person is right.

I agreed with my friend that sometimes business is a cold world of numbers. She was indeed right. I went further.

It just wasn't the world of agenting: the whole world was often that way.

Counselor Rule #5 : It is what is. What are you going to do now?

Resigning from the world is not an option.

Within you there is a path out of whatever jungle you find yourself.

Sign Post #1: See the jungle through the other person's eyes:

Mostly the world runs on self-interest.

The agent is not Mother Theresa. She wants to make a good living for her efforts. Just like we do.

You are merely one of the means to do so.

If you're not helping her put money into her pockets,

then the time she is using on you is taking money out of those same pockets.

Solution: Make yourself worth her time.

Learn your craft. Strive to grow daily. Accept assholes as the price of living.

Try not to become an asshole yourself.

Help the people you meet along the way. Become the change you want to see in the world.

Sign Post #2 : Remember Rule #2

It hardly ever is personal when someone hurts you.

It comes from the hurt within them. Look for that hurt. Try not to step on that sore toe ever again.

As long as it is honorable, dance whatever dance that takes.

Sign Post #3:

If you're heading in the wrong direction,

darting forward is certainly not going to get you to your desired destination any faster.

Sometimes harsh people are right in the wrong way. Look at your work. Could it be improved?

Of course it could.

Could you learn more about the busisness end of writing?

Of course you could.

Reading agents' blogs is like listening to Presidential Press Agents:

You are only hearing what they want you to hear.

Those blogs will give you a guide on how not to irritate the agents.

But the true skinny lies behind those curtains.

Sign Post #4: Go behind those curtains.

The blogs that will help you do that:

Two Books that will help you do that :


{In April 1938 F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote to his editor Maxwell Perkins, "What a time you’ve had with your sons, Max—Ernest gone to Spain, me gone to Hollywood, Tom Wolfe reverting to an artistic hill-billy."

As the sole literary editor with name recognition among students of American literature, Perkins remains permanently linked to Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Wolfe in literary history and literary myth.

Their relationships, lived largely by letters, play out in the 221 letters Matthew J. Bruccoli has assembled in this volume.

This collection documents the extent of the fatherly forbearance, attention, and encouragement the legendary Scribners editor gave to his authorial sons. The correspondence portrays his ability to juggle the requirements of his three geniuses.


Blake Snyder was a working, selling writer himself, so that gives the reader a true inside glimpse into what it's like, what it takes, and what to expect on the long road to screenwriting success.

Many screenwriting how-to books are written by people who have few or no real studio credits, so with this book you are getting the info direct from the source of a successful member of the Hollywood elite.

Synder starts out with a bang, describing how important a good title, pitch and concept are, and giving tons of useful advise for whipping those log lines into shape, {the best shape ever in fact, for as the author points out, many industry powerbrokers won't even look beyond a log it better be good. Very good}

He also gives an insider's look at the world of screenwriter's agents {which is not so different from the world of literary agents.}
I thought that if my friend felt as she did, then others out there in the blogverse probably did, too. I hope that today's post helped in some small way


Thursday, March 27, 2014


Don't Panic --

I'll get to some concrete ways you can stop the loss of visitors but first here are some Google Reasons for it --

Three reasons why a ranking drop might occur:

(1) Manual Actions
(2) Crawling Errors or Issues
(3) Algorithmic Penalty

(1) Manual actions show a notification in Google Webmaster Tools, so it is clear cut.

(2) Crawl errors also are likely to show in Google Webmaster Tools, often clear cut also.

(3) Algorithmic penalties are not thought of as a penalty, they are algorithms for ranking. 

General quality and algorithms will determine rankings. So it is hard to tell if an algorithm is hurting you.

 But Google will communicate large scale algorithm changes, such as Panda or Penguin. They will tell you on what date they run, this way you can check the date and see if that algorithm had an impact on your site.

Here is a video concerning a business site that is relevant to our author sites as well:

No problem ... here are some content-oriented solutions to take:
Find a gap in the blogging area of your choice -
Google “top Gregorian Chant blogs” or “top fitness blogs” – whatever your niche is),
and analyze the type of content they put out.
Ask questions, lot of questions:
  • How many words are in the posts?
  • Are they well structured or a wall of text?
  • How much data, research and examples are used (vs personal opinions)?
  • How many images are used? Are they any good (or is it silly clip art and stupid stock photos)?
  • How many external resources are used, linked to?
  • Is it useful? Does it contain action-items?
  • Is it well-written, interesting to read?
  • Legibility: what’s the font size and color (is it easy to read)? Nice typography?
Write posts that would intrigue and amuse those kind of readers in ways that are shaped by the answers to the above questions.
The secret of success is
doing something
that others are not willing to do.
 In a study by Google in August of 2012, researchers found

that not only will users judge websites as beautiful or not within 1/50th – 1/20th of a second,
but also that “visually complex” websites are consistently rated as less beautiful than their simpler counterparts.
The most popular posts are:
1.) SHORT -- 750 to 1500 words (Sweet Spot being approximately 1000 words.)

2.) VISUAL -- Posts with videos, images, and lists will attract almost 6 times more links than a plain text post.

  1. What are other blogs in your area of interest /niche doing well?
  2. What is not being done?
  3. How can your content be noticeably better and/or different?
You need to find a gap, an opportunity, in order to stand out from the noise.

I hope this helps stem hemorrhage of visitors to your blog in some small way.

WidgetBox is closing the 28th -- This is your last chance to play with Maukie.  Give him a Good-Bye pet and listen to him purr.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Today is the last day to play with Maukie the virtual cat in my sidebar.  I hate it.  I've gotten attached to the little guy.
And over the last few years, I have lost too many beloved pets, friends, and other things ---
Although I have gotten my health back.
I'm not great at saying
Yet, it is an inherent part of life.
At the end of all things is the beginning of another. Like black and white, yin and yang, the beginning and end pairing is bound together in time and space.
Like matter's spacial boundaries, time's beginning and end appear to be discreet only due to our inability to recognize their seamless nature.
As a former counselor, the temporal beginnings and ends that I find most fascinating are developmental in course.
From child to teen, teen to adult, single adult to married adult, facilitating life's transitions is an integral part of living.
Within these periods hearts are broken, jobs are lost, babies are born, and dreams are realized.
Just look through your closet --
You might find 
college tank tops, grad school cable crewnecks, bar hopping stilettos, interview suits, beach cover-ups, first date outfits, running gear, and perhaps a swathed wedding dress or a somber dress for funerals with too many grim memories:
A timeline of a life.
Our clothing over a course of a lifetime can become the embodiment of flashbulb memories. Those memories, which are vivid recollections of an emotionally charged moment.
So, too, can objects like childhood toys, furniture bought together with a loved one ...
or a silly widget virtual cat like Maukie with whom I played absently when life was filled with hurt.
Even animals grieve ...
   Animal grief is widespread and the depth with which many animals grieve and mourn the loss of family and friends is heart wrenching.
Life Stages ...
   Have you noticed that as soon as you get halfway comfortable with the stage you're in, life drop-kicks you into the next stage unexpectedly ...
   Where you are a rookie yet again, learning all the rules by breaking them and bloodying yourself.
   Stage after stage of life is like that ...
saying a reluctant good-bye to the comfortable known for the uneasy fumblings in the dark of the unknown.
It is only in looking back that we see the treasures and beauty of the last stage ...
so despite the discomfort strive to find the warmth, laughter, and friendship in whatever uneasy life stage you find yourself.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Life is full of odd bits.  Things that don't fit.

When I counseled abused children, I used a talking Teddy Bear who had 50 random sentences he would speak. 

One was: "I don't understand."  I often catch myself saying those words exactly as he did.


Chris Evans Danielle Levitt Captain America

Chris Evans told Variety that he is leaving acting after his Marvel contract is up to direct. 

Of course, he only has the freedom to direct now because of his Marvel fame. 

Once he stops doing Box Office Sensations, the directing offers will dry up.

It must be hard to grow up in the public eye. 

His first lead - Cellular. Was when he was what - 23. There is a ton of growing up that happens in people between 20 and 40,

And there are strong feelings that we all have at 20 that we look back on as the whimsy of our youth at 40. 

But bad decisions made then cannot be unmade.

Robert Downey Jr Marwencol


Robert Downey, Jr. talks about Chris and his own being picked by Marvel for Iron Man.  He wasn't nervous.  He was begging for the chance.

Was he worried about type-casting? 

"Christopher Reeve went on and did a bunch of other great movies, and his notoriety from the “Superman” franchise helped that, and nobody held it against him.

But the other thing is, everybody knows Chris Reeve was a really good guy. A lot of it has to do with personality. Are you the type of person who incurs ill will?"

If Evans is the “captain of team spirit”as Johansson calls him, then Downey is the group leader,

 keeping the cast intact after tough renegotiations with Marvel last year following the global success of “Avengers.”

“Some actors get a backend,” Evans says. But not him.

Scarlet got $30 million for THE AVENGERS.  Chris Evans got $5 million.  Ouch.

Look at the poster for that movie.  Chris is teeny tiny, hidden by Thor.  Jeremy Renner is large right by Iron Man.


Flannery O’Connor was born on this day in 1925, and William Faulkner’s Pylon was published on this day in 1935.

The following is from “The Regional Writer,” a talk which O’Connor gave when receiving an award from the Georgia Writers Association:

"There’s a story about Faulkner that I like. It may be apocryphal but it’s nice anyway.

A local lady is supposed to have rushed up to him in a drugstore in Oxford and said, “Oh Mr. Faulkner, Mr. Faulkner, I’ve just bought your book! But before I read it, I want you to tell me something: do you think I’ll like it?”
And Faulkner is supposed to have said, “Yes, I think you’ll like that book. It’s trash.”

 Why?  Why insult a woman who has complimented you by buying a copy of your book?

Why would O'Connor like that story in the first place?

Written in three months and with an eye to the drugstore market,

Pylon features a group of dare-devil, bed-hopping aviators. The producer of the 1958 movie wanted to call it “Sex in the Air,” but he settled for The Tarnished Angels.

The cover blurb may give a clue:

"This is the explosive story of three people who had to defy death to live. Homeless, rootless, and lawless, they live from moment to moment in a world which few have penetrated.

Roger raced a condemned plane to pay for his wife's child by another man.

Laverne sacrificed her son rather than abandon flying.

Jack parachuted with a bag of flour and a prayer to pay his precarious way." 


The number of frequent moviegoers in the all-important 18-24 age group plunged an unprecedented 21% in 2013, according to MPAA annual statistics released Tuesday at Cinemacon,

while attendance in the 12-17 age bracket also saw a precipitous drop off, falling almost 15%.

Is Hollywood targeting a market that is shrinking?  How often do you go to the movies?
Just as the movie industry gathered this week at CinemaCon to discuss its future,
Facebook came along and changed it without even bothering to show up in Las Vegas.
The surprise $2 billion acquisition of virtual-reality headset maker Oculus Rift by a social network company might seem to have nothing to do with movie theaters or films.
But in the long term, this kind of technology is going to have a place in the entertainment business. It’s just a matter of time.


Fox and Ridley Scott are moving forward on a sequel to the 2012 sci-fi hit “Prometheus,” with Michael Green on board to script.

Green worked with Scott last year on a rewrite of the script for a reboot of “Blade Runner” from Alcon Entertainment.

Green’s credits include “Smallville,” “Heroes” and “Green Lantern.”

Two of those three were "Turkeys." 
Do you think Blade Runner actually needs a reboot?

  Makes you wonder about Hollywood some more, doesn't it?


Monday, March 24, 2014


{Image courtesy of the genius of Leonora Roy} 
Some novels idle rough.

Some jerk, sputter, then stall.

Others run smooth and fast.

The difference? What's under the hood.

Some time back, I likened your novel to the concept C.A.R.:

C ..... Conflict

A ..... Action

R ..... Resolution


I. You can put a bow tie on a penguin, but that won't make him James Bond.
(And I wouldn't bet any money on him in SKYFALL either.)

* Calling an emotional moment conflict doesn't make it so.

A.) You and I deal in conflict every day

B.) But authors won't be writing books about us.

1.) Our spouse calls us fat, and our snapping back ...

2.) Conflict ..... yes.

3.) Dramatic Conflict? Usually no ...

unless magic revenge spells fly in the next chapter!

C.) My life on the streets of Post-Katrina New Orleans ...

1.) Conflict? Yes.

2.) Dramatic Conflict? No.

3.) Katrina is old news ... which has a shorter shelf life than dead fish.

a.) Its horrors are only fresh to my nightmares.

b.) There were only losers, no winners. All the villains I saw got away with their crimes.

c.) There was no correcting action I could take,

therefore no satisfying resolution. Only comforting the grieving over losses, that in many cases should have never happened.

d.) Your novel should not be depressing. The reader can be depressed for free.

You're asking her/him to part with hard cash money.

II.) Then, what is Dramatic Conflict?

A.) Let Robert Frost explain :

Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.


1.) At least in the mind of your Main Character.

2.) The want must be primal ... the roadblock to it must be overwhelming.

3.) Think Zombie Movies:

a.) You're either Fast Feet or
b.) You're Fast Food.
c.) Life gets cut back to the basics : the quick or the dead or the undead.


I.) Hemingway was right --

A.) "Never confuse movement with action."

B.) What then is Dramatic Action according to Hemingway?

1.) He insisted that the action and its form be solely placed on one individual.

2.) The character needs to dominate that action.

Focusing on a single matador against a single bull distills the larger human drama of all of Mankind against those dark forces that threaten us.

C.) Your hero shapes the kind of action :

1.) Robert Jordan of FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS :

2.) While Jordan is the epitome of the hero in his actions,

he is also in command of himself and his circumstances to a far greater extent than Hemingway's previous heroes.

He is driven to face reality by deep emotional needs.

C.) For action to be dramatic, it must be either ...

1.) A direct attack upon the problem or

2.) A direct defense against it.

D.) Harry Potter writing his Congressman about nasty old Mr. Voldemort just doesn't qualify.


I.) Satisfying.

A.) Simple?

B.) Not hardly. Have you ever thrilled to a great suspenseful mystery, only to gasp out loud at the resolution, "That's it?"

C.) Look at those books that you put down in your lap with a smile. They all had one thing in common:

1.) They lived up to the promise of the build-up.

2.) They lived up to the mood of the prior chapters.

a.) One book I read with gusto. It was about a young painter living above a strip club.

b.) Delightful, picaresque characters, snappy dialog, some truly funny moments, and a pace that never leaves you flat-footed:

c.) "Duncan Delaney and the Cadillac of Doom"

is a comic circus of strippers and bikers, cowboys and Indians, and fine art. How could you go wrong?

d.) An ending that put a sour taste in my mouth and drained all the fun out of the entire read.

Think Christopher Moore's funniest book, ending like THE GREAT GASTBY.

e.) You can buy a hardcover for a dime from Amazon and see for yourself:

D.) Be true to the mood, promise, and premise of your book.

If it takes you a month to write that solution that has your reader gasping in laughter or wonder, take that month.
DAWN OF WOES will come out next year.

To see the introduction of Higgins, the werewolf cursed with human consciousness in her wolf form see END OF DAYS: