The Author Biz Podcast – Coming June 30th

Learning

I’m launching a new podcast at the end of June that will focus on the nitty-gritty business details of being an author. Guests on the show will include authors who are well established as well as those who may be unrecognized by the big publishing houses, but totally kicking it through self publishing.

However, this is not just another author interview podcast.

We’ll spend time covering the craft of writing, but we’ll also have guests who will speak on topics like business plans for authors, editing, cover design, audio book creation, business structures, taxes, publisher contracts, formatting, marketing, self publishing, and dealing with social media.

Think of The Author Biz as a writer’s conference with multiple tracks. One that you can attend each week without the need for packing, travel, and putting on makeup. The show will be delivered each Monday beginning June 30th and be available through iTunes and other podcast outlets. It can also be streamed from the website, which is www.theauthorbiz.com.

Why this podcast and why me? Two reasons.

First, this is information I’m extremely interesting in learning. Each step along my path has involved fresh questions and a renewed search for answers. I intend to learn from my guests, and hope listeners will as well.

The second reason is that I slogged my way out of an immensely tedious life in corporate finance several years ago, to become a computer software entrepreneur. I started and sold several companies and learned a lesson or two along the way. One of those lessons was to seek out the advice of experts. That’s what I’m doing here. Seeking out the advice of experts so both you and I can learn from them.

Please check out the new site and consider signing up for … Read more

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What can the California Chrome Story Teach Us About Writing & Self Publishing

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California Chrome Winning the Preakness – Creative Commons Image Via Wikipedia

It was a riveting story. Two older guys buy a broken-down horse, breed her with the cheapest horse they can find, and the offspring becomes a national hero. The horse that could finally put an end to horse racing’s 36 year wait for the next triple crown winner.

There’s much more to the story, but you probably know it already. The 77 year old trainer. The owners turning down millions for a partial interest in the horse, but that’s not the point of this post.

If this were a novel there are plenty of ways the story could go that would be satisfying, win, lose or draw. Endings that would cause readers to reach for the next book in the series, or another book the author has written.

Of course, the California Chrome story didn’t end the way most people wanted, and that’s where it gets instructive. If you write books for publication, you want a great plot, richly developed characters, exotic settings, and to take the reader into an exciting world. But then you’ve got to write the ending.

A great story with a poor ending becomes an okay story, not something a reader would recommend to a friend. That’s what happened to the California Chrome story over the weekend. So – what can we learn from this as writers?

1. Write a damn good ending. It doesn’t have to be a happy ending, but it should be satisfying on some level. Endings are what drive next actions from readers. Are they going to click that link in the back of your e-book to buy the next in the series? Are they going to be so thrilled by your story they’re going to write a review? To … Read more

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The Writing Process Blog Hop

Shamus Award winner Paul D. Marks tagged me to join the Writing Process Blog Hop. You can check out Paul’s writing process post at http://www.pauldmarks.blogspot.com. At the end of my post, I’ll tag three other authors who will blog about their writing process, by answering the same four questions on June 9th: Rebecca Forster, Will Graham, and Michael Haskins

1. What am I working on?

Hunter's GambleI’m currently working on the second book in my series featuring Jason Hunter. The first book in the series, HUNTER’S GAMBLE, will be released this summer.

In HUNTER’S GAMBLE, Jason is tasked with finding the most successful sports gambler in Las Vegas, who disappeared after a multi-million dollar win.

To complicate matters, Jason, who lived and worked in a children’s center while recovering from some personal “difficulties,” also finds himself embroiled in a grisly series of murders.

My current work in process (WIP) is the second book in the Hunter series, and it takes place in Las Vegas as well.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is a trick question, right? How is anyone’s work really different? No –– it’s a real question? Okay – First let’s set the genre. HUNTERS GAMBLE is a crime fiction novel, and Jason Hunter, my protagonist, is a ‘sort of’ private investigator. What makes my work different is that Jason Hunter is different. He’s a former insurance investigator who lost his way after dealing with some significant personal tragedy.

He’s a man who is still in love with his wife, despite the fact she died four years ago. His best friend is a Catholic Sister who runs a boys shelter, and his oldest friend is a former sniper for whom the ends always justify the means.

To do … Read more

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Filtering Google Image Search by Copyright License

What I’m currently reading:  Deceived by Randy Wayne White

If you’re a blogger, you may use images you find on the web for your posts. The correct way to do this is either using pictures you’ve licensed, or those that don’t require a specific license for re-use. I use a lot of Flickr Creative Commons images, and they have always worked well for me.

But the Flickr search mechanism, IMHO, isn’t as good as the one provided by Google. So I was pleasantly surprised to learn over the weekend that Google Images has made it easier to search for images with specific copyright licenses. (Thank you Rocking Self Publishing Podcast episode #47)

So I decided to perform a test, but before I do a quick story.

When I grew up we had a beautiful Maple tree in the backyard of our house. That tree not only served as my instructor for tree climbing but also helped to teach me how much fun hard work could be. It did that by dropping it’s leaves each fall. Seriously, what kid doesn’t love jumping into a freshly raked pile of leaves.

I shared that quick story only to explain the rationale for selecting “Maple Tree” as my search term.

To run this search I took the following steps:

1. Go to Google Images

2. Select Search Tools, which brings up a secondary menu

3. Select Usage Rights

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 3.58.46 PM

 

In my case, I selected “Labeled for non-commercial reuse” and clicked return.

The beautiful image below is called Cherry Umbrella, and it comes from Chris Ford.  (Note – check out his collection of photographs.  He’s a talented dude.)

Cherry Umbrella - by Chris Ford

Cherry Umbrella – by Chris Ford

This particular image came up in the second row of choices in Google Image search. When I clicked … Read more

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Listening and Learning – My Three Favorite Podcasts

What I’m currently reading:  THE CHASE by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg.

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Creative Commons Image by francois

When I run on the beach, my preference is to listen to the sound of the shoreline. I enjoy hearing the sound of the waves lapping at the sand, the chirping of the shorebirds, and the roaring of boat engines in the distance. But for those times when I’m running somewhere other than the beach, which is more often than I’d like to admit, I listen to podcasts.

I started listening to podcasts years ago as a way of keeping myself entertained while I ran. That worked, but as my time became more limited I developed a list of shows that would both entertain and educate me while running. There are currently three that I listen to without fail each week. Two of them are long time favorites, and the third is less than a year old.

The Kindle Chronicles

The first on my list is The Kindle Chronicles, hosted by Len Edgerly. I was an early adopter of the Kindle and found Len’s show several years ago. Len is not a kid. He’s either my age or older and I love the enthusiasm and the perspective he brings to the podcast each week. He’s an unabashed fan of the Kindle platform. He’s built a great show format, which includes a news segment, a tech tip and an interesting interview guest. As a long time listener, I also enjoy following where he and his wife are located when he records his program.

While the show is called The Kindle Chronicles, the focus expands to e-books in general, and Len keeps us informed on news about e-publishing and other e-readers.  Nearly everything I know about the Kobo e-reader, comes from this podcast.

The … Read more

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Deadlines and the Revisions Bunker

What I’m reading today - DAY OF THE VIKINGS, by J.F. Penn (HT to the wonderful Terry O’Dell for the  idea of adding the ‘what i’m reading’ to posts.)

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Original image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Cole Vassiliou

You know those people – the self motivated ones – who don’t need deadlines. Heck. You’re probably one of them. I thought I was too, but this writing gig is making it clear that I’m not. At least not right now.

I spent Wednesday. From 5:30 am to 11:30 pm in the revisions bunker. Then did the same thing on Thursday. Why? (Any sane person would ask that question, so don’t feel bad.) Because I set a deadline for myself two weeks ago.

You’d think with two weeks to get maybe 40 hours of work done, I’d break it up. Two weeks, 14 days = 3 hours a day. Heck. Take weekends off. 4 hours a day.

Easy Peasy.

Instead, I gratefully took weekends off. Then took Mondays to work on my website. Then I got busy with another project. And really, if you think something’s going to take 40 hours, it’s probably going to take 60. You know where this is going. Suddenly I’ve got two days left and I’m nowhere near done.

My first thought was to let the deadline slide. If I’m going to ease my way into one book a year, then great. Let the deadline slip. But since the business model for indie writers is to get titles out, this deadline slipping has to stop. Time to knuckle down. (Does anyone say that knuckle down anymore?)

So, into the revisions bunker it was for me. I took time out to run and to eat dinner. That was it. And you know what? It was fun. … Read more

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Separating the important from the fun

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Many of you who visit this site listen to the weekly podcasts I’ve done with mystery and thriller authors.  That podcast was fun for me.  Really fun, and I think I did a pretty good job with the interviews. 

A typical interview involved reading the book we’re discussing, writing the questions, scheduling the show, writing the show description, doing the interview itself, and then cutting, posting, and running the show.  All told about 10 plus hours per podcast.

I enjoyed reading the books and speaking with the authors, so it was time I enjoyed spending.  But it’s ten working hours a week that could be invested in my writing.

While I’ve enjoyed doing the podcasts, I’ve missed two deadlines on my book, HUNTERS GAMBLE.  My new, self-imposed deadline is to publish the book in June.  That’s June of this year.  I’m still in revisions and there’s a great deal of work

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Image via Wikipedia

Writing a First Novel in Your Fifties

As you may know, I’m not a kid. I was fifty-five years old when I decided I wanted to write. I’ve been taking classes, reading books, talking to authors, and, most importantly, writing since I decided it was something I really wanted to do.

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve written a number of unbelievably bad manuscripts while I’ve been learning, but I’ve gotten better. One thing that always concerned me was that I’d come to the business of writing too late. Surely you need to start when you’re young to be successful, right?

The short answer is no, but I didn’t fully realize it until this past weekend.

I had the opportunity to spend some time with Laura Lippman at Sleuthfest, in Orlando over the weekend. She’s the New York Times, best selling author of the Tess Monaghan series, as well as the winner of virtually every award for excellence in the crime fiction genre. When I mentioned the age issue, she shook her head, saying she knew of plenty of authors who started at around my age, including some that had achieved great success. She was far too polite to tell me to get over myself, and just do the work.

I’d missed Hank Phillippi Ryan’s keynote address on Thursday, but I purchased the audio recording. Hank’s a big star in the writing world and is a vibrant, glamorous woman. Imagine my surprise when, during her introduction, I learned that she started writing at age fifty-five.

So I did a little research, trying to find well known authors who had their first books published while they were, ahem, getting along in years.  Here are just a few of the ones I found:

  • Frank McCort, the author of ANGELA’S ASHES, had his first book published at age sixty-six.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder,
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Getty Images has made many of their photographs free to use

The Getty Images website, the home of over a hundred years of photography, is now offering the ability to embed images at no cost.  The process is as simple as embedding a youtube video into a website.

Most web content producers have learned that finding images that can be used legally on a website, is not easy, or cheap. However, some don’t care and just use Google Images for whatever they need, without realizing that using those images creates a copyright violation.

This ‘no cost embed’ news from Getty Images, can help to avoid these copyright issues.

As you can see from the image below, which was embedded from the Getty site, they post a notification, and a link, to where you actually found the image.  The photographer also receives credit for the image.  A small price to pay, to avoid breaking the law or licensing the content.

This is an interesting development, and it may be one that will spread to other image providers.

You can get more information on the program here.

HT to @JamiGold for the news on this item.

 

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Laura Lippman and Stephen Campbell at Sleuthfest 2014

Finding the Secret to Writing Success at Sleuthfest 2014

Like all new writers, I’ve been searching for the secret. The key that unlocks the door to writing success. The key that the big time, successful writers have that beginning writers must try and learn. In other words, I’m searching for the Holy Grail of writing.

Well, I got lucky and was able to discover this key at Sleuthfest 2014, in Orlando over the past weekend.

If you’re not familiar with Sleuthfest, it’s the annual conference of the Florida chapter of the Mystery Writers of America. This year’s conference was the 20th.

The conference is primarily for writers, but there were a number of mystery fans there as well, taking advantage of the opportunity to learn from, and hang out with, some of the top writers in the crime fiction genre. This year there were three Guests of Honor. Laura Lippman, Ace Atkins, and Hank Phillippi Ryan. All of the three gave keynote speeches and sat in on a variety of panels.

The panels, primarily educational, ran the gamut from craft related subjects, like plotting, revising and the use of setting in books, to the more detailed and technical issues involved in this new era of publishing. Things like audio book creation, the use of social media to build author platforms, and techniques for partnering with other authors to cross promote one another’s work.

There were also opportunities to meet with agents and editors, as well as roundtable discussions with each of these well-dressed types.

I went to as many panels as possible, looking for the secret. Successful, published authors, most of whom had many books under their belts, populated each panel. Surely they had the secret.

I listened closely, took notes where I could, and then reviewed them at night, looking for this key, or secret. … Read more

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