Tuesday, April 8, 2014

If you need an editor, have a look...

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For "another set of eyes" to scan a final version, just before press, I charge $2 per page.
For two passes, I charge $3 per page.
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Monday, February 10, 2014

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pet Peeves

I roam the written word in all of its forms, searching for purveyors of the craft. As I do so, I notice those who are prolific, as well as those who need a helping hand. For the most part, I do this to keep my skills sharp. While cruising, I have noticed that sometimes I am somewhat perturbed to see the repetitive misuse of what should be easy standards. Maybe I am picky, but what kind of writer or editor would I be if I didn't have a pet peeve or two? As a self-described "Grammar Snob," I share with you a short list of common word mistakes, and ways people can change how they use them. 


to/two/too
"To wit: It is too bad that there are more than two."

I am not sure why people have a hard time with this one. I mean, there are three words with a combined total of eight letters! How hard could it be? Given the number of people who struggle with this one, it is plenty hard, apparently. However, I believe that if a person concentrates on the difference between the three homophones for just a week, then they will have it down for life. Here's how it works:

TWO -
The number. Always. Only.
TOO - Means "also" and "in addition," or may indicate an amount.
TO - All other uses

When I notice this mistake, I usually pity the user. Even in a casual setting, like a social network, this misuse should not be made. I make exceptions if I know they are using a phone with auto-correct, but I see this mistake over and over on blogs, in emails and in general use. I also happen to notice when they are used properly, as this indicates that I am dealing with someone who pays attention to detail. That is certainly handy to know about people sometimes.


loose/lose
"I don't want to lose my loose britches."

I am worried about this word combo. As I watch the morphing of language in today's electronic society, the loose/lose combination looks like it might fall through the cracks. I am concerned that due to such abundant misuse, the incorrect use will replace the correct use, and vise versa. I see the term "looser" used so often to describe what is meant to be a "loser" that I believe that an entire generation will think it is the proper spelling. Only time will prove or disprove this hypothesis. For those who care about this potential transmongrafication, here is a rule to help keep it straight:

An extra "O" makes the word LOOSER
You LOSE an "O"


there/their/they're
"They're always asking their parents if they are there yet."

THEY'RE - "They are." Always. Only.
THEIR - Possession, like "heir to the throne"

THERE - "Here" or "there," and all other uses

'Nuff said.

definitely/defiantly
"I defiantly said that I definitely disagree."

This is a blatant case of a person relying too much on spell check. When I notice these types of spelling mistakes, I know I should then expect to see many of the other types of mistakes mentioned in this article. The only thing that makes this one a pet peeve to me is that a quick scan will tell you that there is definitely no "A" in 'definitely.' Such an easy catch, but unfortunately, so often missed.


peaked/piqued/peeked
"If your interest is piqued, and you peeked at your gift, your eyebrows might be peaked."

Some people play crossword puzzles. Others play word search games. I play the "peeked-peaked-piqued" game. I have found that in most cases the wrong word is used. It is a pretty fun game to play, actually. I usually feel pretty smug when I find one, I have to admit. I feel more refined, as if the crude barbarian dare to attempt to join the upper echelon of precise language usage. Of course, I am only fooling myself. Before long, the phrase will probably morph into "peaked," and I will be an anachronism in yet another way. Until then, however, I intend to smile an egotistical pursing of the lips and imbibe in a knowing raise of the eyebrows every time I spot it.


who's/whose
"Who's to tell me whose line it is, anyway?"

WHO'S - "Who is." Always. Only.
WHOSE - All other uses


'Nuff said.


accept/except
"I would accept it, except it is incorrect."

To hear these two words, they are nearly identical, but to write them is another story. There is no way to confuse these two words visually, but people routinely do just that. I can understand how they can be confusing, since there is not as simple a way to differentiate them as there are with other homophones. If you can accept that accept means to receive, then you can know that the other spelling means "but." That's all I have for that one.

that/who

"Who is the man in that car?"


This one is a bit obscure to those who do not edit. While understandable, it nonetheless still irks my liver. Except in rare circumstances, a person, a being, someone with a soul should not be referred to as an object, a "that," a "what" or an "it." Nor should a thing, an inanimate object, a non-person ever be referred to as a "who." Pretty straightforward, I think.

Well, they're you go. I didn't want this article to get two long. That is a great way to loose readers! Hopefully I defiantly peaked your interest, and now you know who's blog to check if you need any clarification on these particular pet peeves. I hope you except these rules as coming from a person that knows there stuff!


 


Enjoy these quality reads by author/editor
Stephen L. Wilson




On Facebook
@wilsonstephenl

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

INTERNET - From the collection "Life Bits and Other Chunks"


Keep in mind that this short essay was written in 1998. Is its wisdom ahead of its time?  
- SLW

Reflect, for a moment, about your personal knowledge of the history of the world. Recall how early civilizations communicated and, more importantly, the extent and scope of those communications. Imagine the capabilities of any known civilization or technology attempting to unify the planet in a singular communication effort.
Compare any that you may have imagined (telephones, ham radios, pony express) with the communication potential of the Internet. It is safe to say that the Internet provides the means for the most comprehensive global communications network in the history of the world.
With such a statement having been made, it would then be safe to proceed and assume such an entity could and would command the attention of powers and powerful people in an attempt to either manipulate the process or take steps to ensure their own protection from manipulation.
This of course leads us to government control (or lack thereof) of the Internet.
Reflect, for a moment, about your personal knowledge of the history of militaries, especially the United States military. Specifically, note any expertise at secrecy or contingency planning. Since the Internet was initially made a reality by a joint effort involving the U.S. Department of Defense and a few universities in 1969, these collaborators can be assumed as being the most experienced in the field of the practical application of internet technologies. Wouldn’t a self-preserving, world-leading government take extra strides to know more about this technology than any other institution or any other powerful, potentially interested party? Without a doubt.
We are now compelled to consider a dynamic probability similar to the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object. Is it truly possible to govern cyberspace? Some have compared the internet to the invention of the printing press, in that they both make available vast quantities of knowledge in a way the world has never before seen. This basically allows people to make their own choices in lieu of authorities making those decisions for them. In this way it is fairly certain that individuals will be able to use the internet to gather information around traditional government structures. Not only that, but people can theoretically do this anonymously or invisibly.
Some internet experts contend that this desire to be anonymous is an urge so strong some people will not be able to resist hiding their true identity while participating. This may make way for a type of internet evolution. Strategically, it would be rather advantageous to remain ‘invisible’ if the knowledge or information being sought were of particular sensitivity or revealing nature to a powerful party. Perhaps it will be this stealthy group that eventually disbands any current ‘controlling’ entities. This anonymity at the hands of very experienced computer experts can be eternal. Imagine the impact of a global network of invisible experts leading a charge with an invisible army against any visible governing entities. At some point a revolution such as this would create a new governing body for the internet. Is there enough of an uprising to support such a revolution?
There are places online where people are able to network and share any information they are interested in. There are multitudes of topic related chat rooms, forums, and bulletin boards, as well as e-mail. The voice of the community at some of these ‘cyber-locales’ is much more direct in cyberspace than in person, for the most part. I would compare it to ‘Letters to the Editor’ in a publication, except for never having to reveal your identity. This aspect allows for an even more pointed attitude on the internet, stemming from certain ambivalence to consequences based on the assurance of one’s anonymity.
This noticeable communication generation is a child of the internet, in my opinion. Even if an argument can be made as to the heredity of this pattern of communication, it is my belief that the environment of the internet has adopted it in a way of its own. In fact, it could even be said that this mentality is in fact popular (or at least trendy) within the social sector of the internet community.
In some regions of cyber society, anonymity has generated notoriety, much like gang ‘tags’ are an anonymous way to be recognized within gang culture. I am talking about ‘hackers’. This brazen group of computer experts with invisible identities has already proven their capabilities to the United States government.
In 1997, the National Security Administration (NSA) hired a group of thirty-five hackers to simulate an infiltration upon the computer-connected and highly sensitive areas of our powerful government. They proved they could effectively manipulate the transportation, communication, economy, utilities and easily infiltrate military electronic systems. As confirmed by Fred B. Schneider, CS professor at Cornell University-"If somebody wanted to launch an attack [on the U.S.], it would not be at all difficult.”
It would appear to me that our global communications experiment we call the internet is entitled to the same unique individuality bestowed upon bodies of law and corporations: a state of having a certain momentum not unlike ‘a life of its own’. As with dynamic models such as these, the necessity of having to adapt continually mandates a perpetual changing within the entity. Unlike the others, the anonymity of the Internet will instigate certain vigilance within hackers to dole out justice at their convenience and leisure. This is exactly the methodology necessary to undermine any unwanted authority.
Traditional authority relies upon structure. I believe that if a group of like-minded, anti-authority, computer-powerful people decided to negotiate digital warfare, any traditional authority remaining on the Internet would be picked apart by hackers, to be replaced with vigilante, cyber-mob rule.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Big Six, Five, Four...

If you are in any way involved with publishing, at some point you will hear the mention of a certain "Big Six" - specifically, the six largest players in the publishing industry. Combined, they make up roughly two-thirds of the books published in the U.S. The Big Six are Random House, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette and Macmillan. I should say, they were considered the Big Six before July 1, 2013, when Random House and Penguin merged. Now there are five.
For quite some time, it was expected by many that something of this nature should happen within the industry. Given that Amazon and Indie self-publishing has changed the face of the entire business model, it stands to reason that the entrenched ways of the establishment must be able to adapt, or they will be phased out. In reliable corporate fashion, this has resulted in a realignment, and now the strong survive and attempt to become stronger with a merge.
After all, the impact of self-pubbing has been swift and strong in it's own right. The new model is dominated by those who understand the barriers to traditional publishing, and are finding ways to do it themselves, along with the companies who provide necessary services for self-publishing. As the established companies scramble to stay abreast of the new industry standards, they will surely make some mistakes in their haste. The best defensive strategy is the obvious tactic that there is safety in numbers, and that the large players may as well team up while they are still the 400 pound gorillas. Is it too soon to expect a conglomeration of "Six-in-one" at some point? Is it too soon to make any educated guesses?
When you factor in the reports of Simon & Schuster merging with HarperCollins, the idea of a mega-monstrosity of a monopolistic publishing giant is looking more and more realistic. Just the fact that merging is happening quickly within an industry with solidly entrenched historical firmament is evidence that there will be a vast new look for the Big Six within the next few years. Who knows? Maybe there WILL be a Six-In-One, Mega-Monstro Monopoly when they finish their scrambling for purchase. Will it really matter, though? Amazon will just buy them out anyway.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Book Promotion Blog: 101 Ways to Blog as a Book Author - Updated

This is one of the BEST lists of clever ideas for marketing your books I have ever seen. Don't miss it!

Book Marketing Bestsellers: Book Promotion Blog: 101 Ways to Blog as a Book Author - Updated Again

"We all know that blogging is one of the best ways to get attention in today's Internet world. A blog is a godsend to your website..."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

"Fainting Goats" - From Life Bits and Other Chunks, by Stephen L. Wilson


Maybe you have seen them. They are these little goats that when frightened, tense up and fall over. Apparently they were bred over time to run with herds of sheep. Since sheep are worth more than pygmy goats, when the goats froze up and fell down, predators would eat the goats instead of the sheep. To medieval sheep farmers, this was a crude but effective way to minimize costs. Because of this, I feel that fainting goats have been given an unfair shake in history, and I would like to help them by creating a new historical niche for which they may identify. I feel that fainting goats need some redemption, and I plan on making this happen when I retire.
I have spent enough time in customer service related jobs to come to believe that the famous humorist, Dave Barry, was correct when he said, “A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.” In general, and as a rule, when given any number of alternatives, people again and again choose to be aggressive in their attack on those they deem as socially insignificant. There must be some sort of mechanism in some people that makes them feel important when they rudely attack others in customer service positions. It appears that two circumstances must exist in order to create this ‘perfect storm’ of customer rudeness: a customer willing to displace their pent-up aggression and a customer service policy of “kiss all asses”.
I realize that most people aren’t actually this horrible. However, the trauma of this segment of society overrides the general good found in most people. As a result, there is usually a high turnover in the customer service industry. Those who spend too much time being society’s whipping boy eventually either find a different career, or have a mental breakdown. Rare is the individual who is designed to withstand a lifetime of belittlement, ridicule and the worst of what society has to offer.
It is because of this “retail PTSD” that I have decided that when I retire, I am going to buy a hill. I am going to buy a hill far away from society, and a herd of about thirty fainting goats. At the top of this hill will be enough room for a single folding chair, and a supply of yummy goat food. I plan on spending my remaining years on this planet sitting on top of my hill, feeding fainting goats, and then scaring them.
I am not sure how I will do it. Maybe I will just shout, “Boo!” at the top of my lungs. Maybe I will toss those little popping packets you get at the fireworks tent at them. Maybe I could rig up an air horn somehow. Any way I do it, I can only imagine the fuzzy little fainters freezing up, and then tumbling down the hill.
“Thumpa-thumpa-thumpa!”
Down the hill they will tumble. I will spend my remaining days inventing new ways to scare my goats. And I will laugh so hard when I see them tumble down to the bottom of that hill!
In this way I will help to bring the fainting pygmy goat to a more esteemed station in culture. Instead of being food, the goat is now fun. Kind of like court jesters back in the days of kingdoms and serfs, or rodeo clowns today.
Thanks, rude people. Thanks a lot.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Are you a writer or are you an author?

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When I decided to wade into the thicket of Indie publishing, I knew it would be prudent to educate myself to some degree first. One of the primary distinctions I wanted to establish was whether I was an "author" or a "writer". Maybe these words are interchangeable to others, but to me it made a difference.
If one is to compare the definition of each word, as determined by , the two words seem so close as to possibly be the same. Since the English language rarely works this way, and similar or not, every word has its very own specific meaning, I took a closer look.
While both definitions offered much in the way of similarity, my efforts revealed the subtleties which I knew were there. As it turns out, both a writer and an author may be someone who pens articles, books or other texts. They both may be someone "who has written something specified," as in a particular column, genre or a regular article which is topical in scope. These similarities were what I expected; splitting hairs revealed the fine differences.
The distinction, to me, was in the first definition of each word. A writer is one who pens as an occupation, while an author does it as a profession. Again, the variation may be too slight for some to discern, or even care about. In my mind, however, an occupation is a job, while a profession is a career. An occupation indicates needing only a minimal degree of skill to achieve as compared to a profession. As someone who has an occupation, I am an expendable worker, while as a professional, I express a significant degree of expertise in my field. The difference means that either I write in a casual or even indifferent sense, or I am serious and devoted to my craft. I choose the latter.
To some, this rigorous dissection of the semantics may seem like overkill. After all, one's writer/author is another's tomato/tomahto. For those with a discerning palate for details, however, the distinctions are significant. As we build the label of ourselves which we wish to express to others, the particulars make all of the difference. If we don't take the time to distinguish the finer points, we are taking a chance that others will pigeonhole us with their own version of who we are. I don't know about you, but I prefer to manage my own labels. I prefer to be known as an author. 

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Friday, January 3, 2014

"Blueberry Shortcake" - an excerpt from Life Bits and Other Chunks


When I was twelve, I had a neighbor, whom I will call “Bill”. We were in seventh grade when we met. Now, mind you, this kid had qualities about him to be proud of, to be sure. Unfortunately, his qualities plagued him to a fault.
An example would be his honesty. One time his brother kicked him in his ear. Apparently, the brother’s toenails were so long that Bill had a noticeable gash in his ear. When I saw it, I knew the kids at school would tease him, so I told him to make up a story.
When we boarded the school bus, one of my more obnoxious friends asked Bill what had happened. Poor honest Bill actually told the truth! Being twelve years old and wanting to make an impression on our upperclassmen in Jr. High, this sort of embarrassing revelation was a socially fatal mistake.
 All I could do was shake my head. That’s how it was with Bill. Sometimes he would say or do things so socially damning and sometimes even repulsive, that it was embarrassing to know him.
 Now, don’t get me wrong. He had enough qualities to be an interesting fellow. As an example, he was a smart kid; always on the honor roll. He had a wealth of knowledge in several areas. Again, however, his quality overwhelmed his social skills. He had such a matter –of-fact, know-it-all way of putting things that he easily irritated people.
 All of this was going on during a time when this poor kid was in first-stage adolescence. His athleticism was dormant, marred by un-coordination. He developed gradually from seventh through ninth grade, but the transition was, as mentioned, gradual.
I was a bit more athletic. Having played seventh grade ‘B’ squad and eighth grade being a starter, when ninth grade came along and I was finally an upper classman, I somehow persuaded ol’ Bill to join the football team.
 Mind you, this was not unwarranted. When we played at home, Bill could easily outrun me, though his style was all his own, to be nice. He could also kick the laces off of the ball. Since he was full of knees and elbows, he was tough to tackle. In all, I figured this would be a social progression for him and it was a way I could show my camaraderie by introducing him to a positive way to rub elbows with ninth grades’ upper echelon.
 Looking back, Bill probably thought the same. I mean, now that we were in ninth grade, he would have a chance to show off his varsity uniform on game day: A true social gold star.
 I should have known better. During the first day of practice, he was involved in a time-honored ritual, probably practiced among young adolescents still. What happens is one teammate gets down on his hands and knees behind someone while perpetrator two engages the suspect in conversation. When perp one is ready, perp two pushes the suspect. What results is comical humiliation at the expense of the subject.
 Bill must have been pushed four times or more that day.
 Though I didn’t laugh, I knew better than to disrupt the fate of the issuing of this time-honored tradition. It was pure bad luck. I’ll give him credit. He endured weeks of various versions of time-honored traditions, many of which I suspect were only spur-of-the-moment honored traditions.
 At any rate, he was anxious for game day to arrive. He had earned a starting spot on our special-teams squad! I was impressed by his determination. I said as much to him the night before game day. As for Bill, he was confident, and I couldn’t help feeling a bit of pride under the circumstances. After all, most of the people on the team felt the way I did and pretty much accepted him, despite and because of his ridicule.
 At the bus stop the next day, Bill seemed troubled. I asked him what was wrong. He said that something had happened to his uniform. At first, I thought he meant he’d lost it. I couldn’t believe it. Our colors were blue and gold. The jerseys were bright yellow with royal blue numbers. The pants were snowy white; definitely and obviously snappier than our practice pants. How could he possibly have lost it?
 He told me that it was worse than that. He still had his uniform, but his mom messed up his pants in the laundry. Upon request, he opened his duffel bag and I peered in. Instead of a dazzling display of bleached white pants, what stared back was a pair of pants stained the most brilliant indigo I have ever seen! I had never felt so bad for the man as I did at that moment. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that this qualified him for entry to the next level of ridicule. In fact, this would probably signify him a ridicule legend. What I most likely said was, "Oh, man!"
 All day long, as we strutted our stuff in our varsity, game-day jerseys, we both obviously knew about his pants. I didn’t mention it to anyone, but it weighed heavy on my mind all day.
 Bill, as it turned out, appeared in no way bothered; in fact, he was on cloud nine. For one whole school day, his jersey entitled him to hang out with anyone else who was wearing one. He could nod towards a fellow player, and they dutifully nodded back. In public. Even in front of girls. He was one of the gang.
 In the locker room after school, I noticed him begin to worry. Our first game was at home. People who knew us would be watching. I knew he was headed for trouble the instant he put on his pants. Everyone else had new, unstained, bright pants. Bill stood out embarrassingly.
 I had an inkling that whatever came next would probably be funny, and I was trying to steel myself against it in support of Bill.
 Right then, someone shouted out, "Hey! Check out Blueberry Shortcake!"
 I couldn’t help it. I had a headache for ten minutes from trying to hold back an onslaught of uncontrollable snorts. From that point on, the situation was hopeless. They respected him enough not to verbally embarrass him in front of the home crowd, but the locker room retorts were plentiful. They couldn’t resist. Even the coach bellowed, "Boy! What the hell didjya do to your britches?"
 As for Bill, he never finished the season. I can’t say as I blame him. I haven’t seen him in years, but every time I think of him, I just shake my head.
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If you enjoyed this story, you will like this book! Click on the cover to go directly to the book's Smashwords page, or select it from my Smashwords homepage (link below). 
I routinely add to this book, so it will grow and improve over the years, as I gather more stories. As I revise the book, I update it at Smashwords.
You may also get it from Amazon, but the updates and revisions will not be immediate like they are on Smashwords.
 Thank you!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Reciting Pens - Culturally Important Manuscript - S.L.W. Contributing Editor

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sending Group Messages in Facebook

In today's internet society, there are so many ways to interact that the details can be overwhelming. There are social networks, email, software and setting details included with each and every system we interact with. As a result, it is virtually (internet pun?) impossible to know every detailed process of every system. I believe that everything is difficult until you learn it, and anything is easy once you do. With this in mind, I am answering the request of a friend to explain how to send group messages on FB.
 As far as I know, it is only possible to send group messages while using your personal account. I haven't yet found a way to do this with a fan page. While at your personal page, open your messages by clicking on the 'voice balloons' at the top of the page. Then click on the link 'Send a New Message.' On mine, it looks like this:

A message box will come up, and you just type the name of the person you wish to include in the message group. You may select many people, but I don't know if Facebook has a limit.
After you have chosen your list of people, you can then add a message, file or photo at your convenience. As far as I know, once you create a group of receivers, any correspondence or reply will go to the entire group. If you wish to message one of the members in private, you will have to start a new message with them exclusively.

If you or anyone you know has a question or needs an explanation for "Indie stuff," please PM or Email me. I am always looking for new ways to help Indie authors, and your ideas are always welcome.
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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Announcement for Angels Cried on Indies Unlimited

I would like to take the opportunity to thank Indies Unlimited for adding Angels Cried to their announcements page. Indies Unlimited is a great place for quality Indie authors to learn more about the craft, and to mingle and learn about other authors and their works. IU also serves as a location to find author related services and people. Please take the time to visit their site.
You can view the press release here: 

Thanks for your support!
 





Stephen L. Wilson
Indie Author/Publisher
Smashwords Home Page
Find me on Facebook
@wilsonstephenl

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Wise words from Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker

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 Click here to go to the Angels Cried homepage
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When they criticize you, love them for teaching you humility.

When they heap scorn upon you, love them for helping you discover your resiliency.

When they doubt you, love them for giving your dreams greater courage.
...
When they point out your faults, love them for their accuracy.

When they wound you, love them for showing you your capacity to forgive.

When they try to stop you, love them for making your resolve even stronger.

When they cast you into darkness, love them for helping you discover your inextinguishable light.

And when you stand victorious, when your love has conquered the impossible challenge, invite them to stand with you so they too can see love’s power and possibility.


- Cory Booker
Mayor, Newark, N.J. 



Stephen L. Wilson
Indie Author/Publisher
Find me on Facebook
@wilsonstephenl

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Tasty Twist - Flash Fiction by Stephen L. Wilson

This month I decided to enter a flash fiction contest. I have always wanted to, but with all of my other publishing ambitions, I just haven't had a chance until now. Thanks to Sharon Van Orman, who posted the "Halloween Flash Fiction Contest" on Facebook, I have an opportunity to have some fun in 1500 words or less. If you are interested, voting for the entries begins on Monday at 9 a.m. CST, and lasts until Wednesday at 9 a.m., CST. Please - no early voting! The entry number for my story is "B-17." To vote, simply enter a comment. Only one vote per person - duplicate votes will be rejected. The other entries are linked at the right of Sharon's page. Enjoy!
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 "A Tasty Twist"
by Stephen L. Wilson
 
I was waking up. “Coming to” was more like it. My head throbbed, and my mouth was dry. What was that horrible smell? An organic, deathly permanent smell.
Where had I been? Memories were fragmented, flashing in my mind like bits of archaic newsreel. My lifelong friend, Jason, was taunting the old woman, laughing as he pushed her against the dumpster in the vacant alley.
“Who’s your daddy, Rumpelstiltskin?”
Rumpelstiltskin. That was the name given to the woman by the kids in the neighborhood. She moved, broken and bent, with a cane. She always wore that stained brown pea coat covered in cat hair, and a drab, yellowing scarf wrapping her ancient head. None of us remembered her ever speaking; only glowering at our hateful antics with cold, black eyes which pierced our very souls. Oh, we would laugh and taunt, but with a nervous fear to drive our actions. Usually Rumpelstiltskin would stay close to her home, which was a tiny shack of an A-frame, hiding in a jumbled, foreboding nest of overgrown shrubbery and a few tired trees with branches dangling precariously over the withered and dismal dwelling. On the few occasions when one of us would boldly approach her, she would skitter to her sanctuary with surprisingly quick movements, staring; staring back at us with those shiny eyes once she was in the safety of her surroundings.
Another memory flashed through my mind. Rumpelstiltskin, bouncing off of the dumpster, losing her balance. As she stumbled forward, she was unable to avoid a bar extending from the receptacle. Her head met the protrusion with a sickening crunch. As her body sagged and fell toward the Earth, her face held her up, as if in proud defiance. After a moment, it too gave up, and released her to the ground. She was moaning softly, making helpless motions with her legs. It was as if she was running in slow motion.
I looked at Jason, who was clearly shocked. I turned back to Rumpelstiltskin, noticing first those eyes. Wide and glossy; hurt and accusing, framed by the black paint now covering her face. As she writhed, and the moonlight captured her expression, I saw that it was actually blood, which was now pouring from a cavernous dent just above her eyebrows. For the first time, I heard her voice. It was raspy and crisp, like the clicking of a playing card in the spokes of a bicycle wheel.
“Tasty…flies! Tasty…flies!”
What the hell? Unless I was not hearing her right, that knock to the noggin must have been worse than I thought. Apparently it was, because no sooner had I thought this, than Rumpelstiltskin had expired. There was no need to check her pulse, or perform any type of test to prove it. Jason and I both just knew. Her legs had stopped pumping, and her black, glistening orbs remained open to the world, staring through us even in death. Maybe it was my imagination, but I swore I saw the reflection of both of us in those deep pools of ebony, framed by the crimson of her lifeblood.
Neither one of us spoke during the walk home. Jason was a specter, his face so white it was almost transparent. I couldn’t believe that we had just killed Rumpelstiltskin. I wondered what our fate would be, if the cops would know it was us, if I would ever live past this gruesome moment. When we walked up to my house, we looked at each other one last, grim time, and then I went inside. I quietly and slowly trudged upstairs to bed. Despite my experience, I fell asleep quickly. I must have been drained.
And now I am awake. Again, that smell. That putrid, unhealthy, rotting and eternal smell. For the first time I realize that I cannot move. I cannot open my eyes. My arms are pinned to my side; my legs bound together. Where am I? Am I in bed?
I am now alert and frantic. I feel like I am on some kind of trampoline. My body bobs in rhythm, as if to a slow, gentle imaginary beat. What is going on?
There is a guttural noise to my right. Is that Jason? I feel the trampoline quivering, and a louder, more distinct groaning sound. Yes, it is Jason, but he is not saying anything; only making loud, indistinct noises. At once the trampoline bounces wildly and I thought I was falling. As suddenly as it began, the bouncing settles, and once again I am bobbing to that imaginary beat. Still, that God-awful smell, so unfamiliar to me, permeates my senses.
I have to find a way to see what is going on. I realize that my face is covered with rope or gauze of some kind. Maybe there is some way to loosen it or at least peek around it. Even though my body is tightly bound, I discover that I can move my head a bit. Maybe I can work the rope loose enough to catch a glimpse of my surroundings.
As I writhe my head around in an attempt to free my vision, I hear crusty words being whispered. I can’t quite make out what they are saying, but my heart quickens, and I increase my movements. The trampoline jerks suddenly, and I hear a crunching sound. Jason gurgles an unintelligible scream, which quickly fades to silence. Not exactly silence. His desperate wail is replaced with a steady slurping, which sounds like Jell-o being sucked through a straw. I close my eyes tight and increase my efforts to break free, my head now a wild, whiplashing metronome, moving to the frantic beat of an internal Danse Macabre.
After a moment I lay still, my body gently bobbing on the trampoline. The ghastly slurping sounds have stopped. I open my eyes, and find that my efforts have paid off. The rope has slipped somewhat, and I see a couple of pinhole lights, which are stars in the black sky. I roll my eyes to the right, and see a long, tubular bar with rows of hairy protrusions. Before I can process this information, the trampoline bounces viciously again, and my eyes slam shut in reflex.
The bouncing gently settles into the now familiar pattern of bobbing in time to a slow, silent waltz.
“One-two-three. One-two-three.”
I open my eyes. Directly in front of me are two long, yellow, pointed shafts, about a foot apart. As I focus, I look to the top of the shafts. I see what appears to be dozens of hemispheres in a variety of sizes, each one neatly imitating the next, arrayed in geometrical rows. They look hauntingly familiar. Then I hear the raspy, creaking whisper:
“Tasty…flies. Tasty…flies.”
I don’t know if my scream was audible. I just know I shrieked with my psyche and every fiber of my being as the fangs plunged into my chest. My fear became agony as I realized that the crunch I heard was my ribs breaking and shattering. I could feel the pain and pressure as Rumpelstiltskin withdrew my internal juices with her strong vacuum. The newly familiar slurping sound was all I could hear. As the life faded from my body, my last sight was the visible dent above those rows of eyes. Those probing, knowing, glassy eyes, shrouded by the smell of eternal death.
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Stephen L. Wilson
Indie Author/Publisher
Smashwords Home Page
Find me on Facebook
@wilsonstephenl

Sunday, October 7, 2012

BIOHAZARD 2012 - AN ANTHOLOGY

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Cover for 'Biohazard 2012'
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 I just finished reading an anthology edited by Jocelyne Thomas and David Bean, and I am excited to share it with you! This themed collection asks the question, "What happens if humanity is destroyed by a virus or some similar contagious germ?" The answers, provided by a variety of authors, are original, haunting and deserving of your time.
"Biohazard 2012 - An Anthology" will captivate you and stir your imagination. The different approaches by each of the contributing authors are certainly thought-provoking, and provide the reader with views of humanity which are original and worthy of a look.
If you are fascinated with post-apocalyptic stories, or if you have your own ideas about the fate of humanity, take the time to purchase "Biohazard 2012 - An Anthology." I promise you won't be disappointed! 
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Stephen L. Wilson
Indie Author/Publisher
Smashwords Home Page
Find me on Facebook
@wilsonstephenl

Friday, September 28, 2012

For those without Kindle...

As the self-publishers in your life can tell you, exposure and marketing can be the most difficult part of the job. Networking is not just a word, it is a way of life. As we do our best to make our voices heard in the sea of other self-publishers, we owe it to ourselves to be as efficient and productive with our time as possible. As a result, it would be silly to not take advantage of the largest possible viewership outlets, if at all possible. 

This is why I use Amazon. If for no other reason, it is the biggest source of valid exposure I have. Many things I require as a publisher are already in place, and the company is a household name. While no system is perfect, Amazon is necessary, I believe, if a person considers themselves to be serious about self-publishing.

A conflict arises when our devout and loyal readers do not have Kindle, and we, as publishers, use the "Kindle Direct" feature of Amazon. While it creates a sense of exclusitivity, it also allows the publishers of eBooks to tap an otherwise unavailable source of readers. Since it is for a limited time (90 days), there is no reason for us not to give it a try, depending on the type of eBook we are putting out there.

There is an easy way to continue to show your love for your favorite authors when this conflict arises. Simply download an app. That's all. A Kindle reader app. You only have to use it if you are wanting to support Indie authors who use the unique service provided by Amazon, if you wish. It is such an easy thing to do, with such far-reaching benefits. 
CLICK HERE to choose which version you prefer to use. They have versions for PC's, Androids, Blackberries, iPhones, and more. Please take the time to do this one simple thing so that you may continue to help those diligent Indie self-publishers in your life. Thank you.



Stephen L. Wilson
Indie Author/Publisher
Latest Amazon Promotion
Smashwords Home Page
Visit me on Facebook
@wilsonstephenl

Friday, August 10, 2012

INTERVIEW: A tale of the undead? Hardly! Author Rue Volley shares the secrets to her success


Rue Volley, established adult fiction, YA, and erotica author, has had a successful week. This week alone she has sold over 100 copies of her books. In this post I will attempt to get to the bottom of how she has achieved this success (aside from the obvious - extremely good writing!), so that the rest of us may make strides in that direction.

Where do you live: Ohio
Books you like to read: Anything that makes me go OH SHIT. lol
Favorite authors: Anne Rice, Cassandra Clare, James Patterson, all of my Indie author friends, massive talent there.
When you first knew you wanted to be an author: I still have not figured that out yet, I just write stories and hope for the best.
Other genres you would consider writing about: I have recently branched out into YA, paranormal of course but my heart is with my adult fiction and erotica.
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SLW: Rue, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I know that plenty of other indie authors are interested in knowing the steps you have taken to achieve your success. I noticed that Goodreads has 15 of your books listed. The oldest on the list, "Blood and Light", debuted on the list on 11/8/2010. Is this the first of your published works? And, I suppose I should ask if you consider yourself to be an"indie" author.

RV: Blood & Light was my first published book. I actually self published it before I was picked up by Vamptasy Publishing last year. I had the book out for 6 months and then I did a short in an anthology called “Red Wine” which was with Vamptasy and they took notice of me and started to talk to me about getting signed. We talked for over a month on Skype before a contract was presented, I took it to my lawyer and they checked it out and then I signed with Vamptasy and the honeymoon is still in full swing. AND I am an Indie author, I always will be regardless of whether I am on a traditional or Indie Pub. I believe in Independent arts and I try to spend as much time promoting those who do not get the exposure I feel that they should as I can. Of course my time gets tighter everyday but fortunately I have help now on my fan pages so it opens up more time for me.

SLW: What led you to write in the genre of vampire fiction/fantasy?

RV: I have always loved anything paranormal in nature. I practice in energy, have for years and I have been experiencing paranormal activity since I was 5 years old and saw my first spirit. It is embedded in me to write about it and I find it fun to not live in a box at all and fiction allows that.

SLW: Do you mind breaking down the 100+ books you sold this week? Were they mainly new promotions? Do your oldest works sell better these days, or have sales declined?

RV: My best seller is still the Blood & Light Vampire series. I have spent months promoting it and it has a good following now but it sells consistently every day. Then my erotics sell themselves, I promote them but there is a following for my type of writing so when I release a book in that genre people buy and I am grateful. As far as sales go I have been selling more each month for the past 6 months, this obviously being the biggest month so far. The truth is you get what you put into it. You have to promote and market yourself every single day. I realize that some people have full time jobs. I mean, most artists do, but before I was able to quit my job and do this full time I got up 2 hours early and did promotion and wrote, took my laptop to work and wrote and promoted on breaks and then did promotion when I got home. I kid you not when I say I work 14-16 hours a day on this now. Before it was less, because I had to leave the house, but now I am able to devote all of my time to my business - and that is another thing. A book IS your business, yours to market and yours to sell. You cannot just write a book, place it on Amazon and then kick back, unless you are Anne Rice or someone just as big. You need to do giveaways, get involved with as many networking groups as you can and market yourself. You cannot pummel people with JUST business either, or you get boring and people will block you on their feeds. Make sure to keep your personality intact. I mean, if you saw 50 ads for books. which one will you remember? The ones that say BUY ME NOW!!!!, or the ones that make you laugh? It’s an easy choice. But honestly my sales come from hard work and promotion and the fact that people like my stories, for which I am grateful.

SLW: Do you have a publisher or promoter, or do you handle that yourself?

RV: I am signed to Vamptasy Publishing in the UK. I also write under the flags of Hot Ink Press and Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing. I have written series with both. As far as promotion, I head that up for myself, but I do have a team now that also handles it for me so I can write and handle my businesses here. I also have a photography business and make jewelry, so I have to have time to devote to all three. ALSO, it is IMPERATIVE that you have a publishing family online, a group of people who promote you as you promote them. It is a balanced and fair trade, and they are also your closest friends. I have quite a few on CHBB and Hot Ink as well as my home pub, Vamptasy.

SLW: Where did you publish your first eBook? Do you have a favorite outlet, such as Amazon or Smashwords?

RV: All of my books are on Amazon as well as an online bookstore with Vamptasy Publishing. My work with Hot Ink and CHBB are also on Amazon, and on their website and bookstore. Amazon (although it can have mental breakdowns from time to time) is my favorite by far. Goodreads is also so important to any author, too. I would say those two are "must do’s," if you have a book out. Smashwords offers books in all formats, so that is a plus for them, but Amazon is king for books.

SLW: Do you sell more eBooks or hard copies?

RV: I sell a ton of eBooks and the print sales go up each month. People want hard copies of their favorite books. Print still sells just slower for everyone.

SLW: Do you mind letting us know how successful your first book was in the beginning? Did it take off immediately, or did you have to work hard to get it recognized?

RV: I had to work like anyone does or should.

SLW: What sort of promotional activities do you do? What seems to work the best? What has been a waste of time?

RV: Promotions happen on Facebook in groups mostly and my fan page. I am in over 55 groups, and started and host 6 of them now. Since I write in YA/adult and erotica, I promote them separately according to their genres. I also promote my erotics mostly later in the day for adults. I constantly get updated with my sales so I know what needs to have attention paid to it, and what promotions are working. I also do giveaways at least once a month on the fan page. I research things, as everyone should do. I know what the trending posts are as far as what people pay attention to, and it is pictures first, links second and videos third. The only thing that ties with pictures is short posts, and when linking your books add the link to buy it, and perhaps a snippet of a review so it is not just you all of the time.

SLW: Bouncing around, being new, trying to find the most efficient way to sell books can be discouraging. What good advice do you have that may help those of us struggling with this?

RV: Get on a blog tour, trade your book for reviews, get your likes/tags and reviews up on Amazon, participate on your fan pages often, even if it is a funny post or a picture you like. Post in groups, network your butt off and keep pushing forward. The effort to find things is all up to you, just type it in the search bar and check it out.

SLW: How do you recommend that a new author become recognized? What is a strategy that you use now that you wish you knew when you were just getting started?

RV: It is a gradual process. Like I said before, you have to be social and network in groups. Meet as many people as possible and pay attention to the ones who promote themselves. You can pick up so much by reading posts and seeing what they are doing. The work is never done, you have to constantly be ready to do an interview, guest blog or join a new group. It’s all about be aware of everything around you and dedicating the time to it.

SLW: If there is one piece of advice you would impart to any aspiring author, what would it be?
 
RV: Never respond to a negative review unless they are personally attacking you, and never let anyone tell you that you are not good enough because it is a lie. ALSO…stop OVERTHINKING your stories! Write it out, and you can go back later to make changes.

SLW: Are there any other words or thoughts you have regarding how to be successful as an online author?

RV: It is up to you. I know it may sound cheesy, but it is true. If you have a great product and you believe in it, then others will too. It is all in presentation and how much time you are willing to sacrifice to it. Treat it like your child and help it grow. You have to, because you know it better than anyone else does. Set yourself up for success by surrounding yourself with people who say "yes" and help you, and not those who say "no" and disappear when you need them most. I try to live in a positive light and I delete those who bring me down. I do not have time for that sort of thing. I am busy trying to climb a mountain here.

Thank you, Rue Volley, for taking the time to answer these questions. I hope that anyone reading this will be able to benefit from your success and wisdom. Keep up the good work, and thanks for being an inspiration.

If you would like to see more work from Rue Volley, or if you would like to be a fan or contact her, please use the following links:

Rue Volley Homepage:  
http://www.ruevolley.com/

Blood & Light Series, on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rue-Volley-Blood-Light-Series/166002266766880

Kindle Store on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_10?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=rue+volley+kindle&sprefix=rue+volley%2Cdigital-text%2C250&fb_source=message  


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Stephen L. Wilson
Smashwords Author/Publisher
Smashwords Home Page
Like me on Facebook
@wilsonstephenl