Posts filed under writing

Adventures with Amazon Central

When you decide to self publish, it’s important to be as visible as possible. This is a big part of why I am all over the Internet, and why I’ve just set up my “Author Page” on Amazon Central. Unfortunately the Amazon page is a rigidly set up form that limits what and how authors can share our information.

Possibly the most ironic part of the experience was where the page offers the new user an opportunity to view a “sample” page. What displays is Frank McCourt’s Author Page, which demonstrates where the author photo will sit, as well as showing off Frank’s nice black & white title banner. In creating my own banner, I even made sure to use the exact dimensions of Frank’s banner.

My own black and white author banner, with my gravatar alongside my name written in white letters against a black field

The problem is that while my author photograph rests on the left just like Frank’s, alas, there is no way for me to upload my own black and white name banner to Amazon Central, nor any means of creating one on the site. It is possible such banners used to be allowed, but since that is not the case now, Frank’s page does not provide a true example of how an Amazon Central Author Page will look.

Another difficulty was having a limited space for the biography without knowing what the limit was, exactly. The limit is not screen real estate; it makes no difference whether your words are squished together in a single paragraph or spread out in airy paragraphs. The limit is probably by word or character count, but it required trial and error and tinkering to ensure mine ended where I wanted it to. You can exceed the limit but then are left with only an exerpt, not the best way to make an introduction.

The “Upcoming Events” segment had its issues as well. Naturally I intended to add my participation in NaNoWriMo 2013. While the form allows this, but automatically fills in the venue information with the physical address of the NaNo HQ. My participation will be taking place online, not in California. I can see this being a problem for me forever, since the address for the venue for many of my own events will be “online.” Altering the form to allow the inclusion of a URL as an address would be very helpful.

My last problem is that the section requires an Amazon published book title. While I can understand why Amazon would like to encourage this, NaNoWriMo isn’t an event for selling books that are already written, but to encourage the writing of new novels. Including the name of my debut novel was not really appropriate here, but is required by the form, so I was torn between not making use of the space or including information that isn’t quite right. I’m still trying to come up with a way to make it work.

Beyond these glitches, my page came out fine. 🙂

The Periodic Table of Storytelling

Artist Dawn Paladin created this amazing resource with information gleaned from

Dawn suggests searching the tv tropes wiki catalog of tricks of the trade for writing fiction for more information than is found in each elemental square.

Dawn Paladin's "Periodic Table of Storytelling"

Have fun.

Dawn Paladin released The Periodic Table of Storytelling under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Time to Re-engage in Writing

self portrait reflection photograph of Laurel taken at Kwartzlab

I’ve been distracted by a great many things in my life over the past several months, and am now trying to disenentangle a bit so I can re-engage in the writing part of my life. So today when I stumbled into Litchat, one of my favorite Twitter writing “chats” I stopped in for a while and had a rolicking good time. Connecting with other writers and getting an opportunity to talk shop is important for writers, especially as most of who tend to write in isolation.

LitChat, hosted by Carolyn Burns Bass takes place every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Twitter. Chats consist of tweets using the hashtag #litchat. It’s possible to follow and participate in the chat from the #litchat Twitter search page or from the external Nurph Litchat service and it seems that Tweetchat is back up and running as well. To use Nurph or tweetchat you’ll need to sign in with your Twitter account. Aside from making it easier to follow the largely freewheeling conversation, the services have the advantage of automatically attaching the #litchat hashtag, which makes participation so much easier. As often happens, my conversation continued even after the formal chat.

Today’s Litchat has been published on Storify if you’re interested in checking it out: LitChat: Dan Harmon Story Circle, Part One

Now I need to get my first draft polished and off to beta readers, beta read my brother Larry Russwurm‘s collection of short stories, *and* get ready for NaNoWriMo. October will be a busy month.

I wish I’d had a chance to meet Elmore Leonard

Some of my Elmore Leonard booksToday we lost one of the great writers of our time, Elmore Leonard. Mr. Leonard was at home writing westerns and crime fiction, but he wasn’t a genre writer, he was a ‪#‎writer‬.

I wish I’d had a chance to meet Elmore Leonard, although if I had, I would probably have been too tongue tied to actually open my mouth. His novel “Hombre” was adapted into a powerful movie I saw when I was a kid, but I didn’t know that until much later when my soon-to-be husband first introduced me to his crime fiction.

Leonard’s dialogue came alive on the page, and many of his characters are nothing less than memorable. He was one of the men who write great female characters like Jackie Brown and Karen Cisco. Not to mention great male characters, like Chili Palmer and Raylan Givens. He’s left behind a legacy of wonderful prose.

Thank you, Mr. Leonard.

npr: Crime Novelist Elmore Leonard Dies

NYT: Elmore Leonard, 1925-2013
A Novelist Who Made Crime an Art, and His Bad Guys ‘Fun’

August is the perfect time to read Inconstant Moon… before the school year begins

Students are just finding their way through the fall semester at Christie University when a brutal on campus attack sends a chill through the Fyfield House residence.  [Caution:  Before giving copies to kids,  remember that this whodunit deals with mature subject matter.]

If you’re on #Goodreads, you can vote for “Inconstant Moon” as the August Mystery Read.  I’m planning on building an “Inconstant Moon” book trailer in August, while my Beta Readers get started reading “The Girl In The Blue Flame Cafe.”

Inconstant Moon Paperback Edition Cover Art

You can also follow me on GoodReads and Library Thing.  Read “Inconstant Moon” online in the serialization blog, or get an eBook from Kobo or Kindle.

Moonday Update

half moon, photographed in day light against a blue sky.

I intend to have the rough first draft of “The Girl In the Blue Flame Cafe” finished this week.

The week following will be taken up with clean up editing to get it ready to pass along to beta readers.


Authors Must Filter Editorial Advice

The world has changed dramatically since I first decided to try my hand at writing a novel in the ninth grade. Back then, it never occurred to me to even mention I was writing a novel to my English teacher. And if “how-to” reference materials existed, I certainly never saw any. Had I known any actual novelists I might have asked them for help.


Today help for writers is everywhere; social media has changed everything. These days, most writers establish a web presence, which can mean:

The one thing we can all write about is our own experience. And we do. Today there is so much advice floating around in the digital arena we need to pick and choose.

Most of us need someone else to look at our work, a gentle reader to point out that we’ve marooned a character in chapter seven, or driven our plot into a wall on page 156. Someone has to tell us that the character we thought we’ve made sympathetic actually comes across as a whiner. We all need someone to tell us whether the words we’ve written communicate what we think they do. Some of us get editorial advice from an editor assigned by the publishing house we’ve contracted with, others get it from the editor we’ve hired ourselves. Although I consider myself a good editor, I know I am too close to the words I’ve written to be able to edit them without the benefit of the fresh eyes provided by my team of beta readers.

No matter where we get our editorial advice, as with any advice, authors need to decide whether the advice is applicable and/or appropriate to our needs.

Some of my favorite online resources are live chats on Twitter. The very first I ever stumbled across was LitCh@t, which is still going strong with three hour-long chats every week. Writers and readers come together to discuss our craft. the nature of the Internet means that we are no longer bound by our geographic chains. Today I’d like to pass along some very good advice from LitChat:

Lauren Baratz-Logsted: On Editoral Advice

“A great editor provides not just a description on what is wrong but also a prescription on how to fix. The most important thing for the author to remember: It is *your* book. Always remember that, but then keep calm.

“Revision advice comes in myriad clothing but, really, it all boils down to three things.

“1) Advice that is good and sometimes even so obvious, you wonder why you didn’t think of it yourself – so you make the change.

“2) Lateral changes – something that will please the editor but in no way alters the integrity of your work/vision; make the change.

“3) A suggestion that, if adopted, would destroy the integrity of your work/vision; no matter who the editor, you don’t make change.”

Lauren Baratz-Logsted on LitCh@t‘s Media Monday Twitter conversation May 6th, 2013

You can read the entire chat online here:
LitChat: Author/Editor Relationships

But my favorite part of today’s chat was Lauren’s lovely suggested response to an editor’s critique :

“Thank you. You’ve given me a lot to think about.”

Thank you, Lauren!

writing on the phone

Today I tried working on “The Girl In The Blue Flame Cafe” on my smart phone on the bus.

It took far too long to type, and the typos are astounding. On the other hand, I got something written, just not very much. Maybe in time I’ll get better at it…. we’ll have to see. I’ve read of people writing entire novels on their cell phones, but that’s not going to happen with me. A netbook is portable enough. Still, I can see the benefit of being able to making notes of ideas while on the fly with the cell phone.

Writing novels on cell phones might work well for the texting generation, but my lot grew up using phones for voice communication. I’ve decided computers work much better for me at this point.

The time sensitive polical stuff I was working in is dealt with, so I’m stepping away from politics for a bit now. Even so, there are several family commitments at hand, but I still need to finish Blue Flame. So I’m going to take a wee break from social networking, perhaps for a week, and see where its at then.


I can’t wait to get back to finishing “The Girl In The Blue Flame Cafe” tomorrow ! (technically today 🙂 )

[I’ve been struggling with a root canal that may or may not come off … and photographing a Medieval Ball (which was a hoot!!!) … and working on the last of my time sensitive political posts for the Whoa!Canada blog ~ I hate writing these things, but its too important to ignore… now I just have to be conscious to edit it down to a manageable size so I can get working on the novel.]

Medieval Ball