Category Archives: Books

Books

Birth of a Story

Mara Salvatrucha Gang Members, El Salvador

When I wrote my short story, “Incognito,” I attempted to shine a light on the realities about which most Norte Americanos have no clue. For example, many Trump supporters believe these people who come in caravans to the border from Central and South America are attempting to “smuggle” their illegal children across. In truth, there are very specific laws in the U. S. that allow people coming from war-torn or violent countries to be able to apply for asylum. This is what they are trying to do, for the most part, although one cannot assume for all.

In my story, I chose a Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) family, who is also half indigenous or mestizo. During the Inquisition in Spain, many Sephardi Jews came to South America to escape death. They never became Christian and were thus persecuted. The native tribal people have always been discriminated against. So, my fictional family from El Savador already has two strikes.

Then, I added another layer of problems. First, the Mara Salvatrucha, MS-13, has infiltrated their village, and a group has targeted young girls. My narrator’s sister, Guadalupe, is one of those targets. However, because my narrator is also called a “genius” by his mother for his intelligence at twelve years old, he also sees “visions.” His ability to talk to the gang’s leader, “Smiley,” saves his sister from prostitution, but his brothers are kept to cook meth as insurance for the family’s transport down south to the land of “freedom,” the United States.

The story incorporates a coming-of-age motif for the narrator, Felipe, as well as a unique way for me to explore what I believed about the symbolic connection between all peoples in the Jungian dreamscape of the Collective Unconscious. I am able to weave into Felipe’s visions a creation story based on the Brahma and Shiva myths, as well as the root of Justice in Judaic teachings.

At one point, the gang leader is reading the newspaper, as he is an educated gang leader (there are even educated criminals–what a concept!), and he sees that President Trump has called the MS-13 animals. He remarks that Trump allows his rich gangster friends from Russia to stay at his hotels and create “anchor babies,” but he won’t allow any South or Central Americans, who are poor, to be, in any way, associated with MS-13.

I also added some actual gang practices and rivalries (with Barrio-18) into the story, and contrasted them with the visions that my narrator is having. The reader is made well aware of the contradictions.

So, I tried to add a bit of irony to the story. At any rate, like most of my work, it will not be published in any mainstream press (most likely), but it does my heart good to be able to explore the reality that exists for many people seeking asylum and who are turned away by the greedy and arbitrary laws of this administration.

If you’ve read this far, then perhaps you might want to read the complete story, in case it doesn’t find publication space. Please message me, and I’ll give you a private Docs link.

Philip Roth Will Never Die

A tall figure in the “literary” pantheon has fallen, and he just so happens to be a Jew. As a white kid in the heart of anti-Semitic Orange County, California, I knew nothing about Jews or about their culture. In fact, when I attended a Catholic school, St. Anthony’s, in Long Beach, just over the line from Orange County, we were not “allowed” to read the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures, as my Jewish wife later explained was the proper title). Later, when I took a Bible as Literature class in college, I finally got to study it, and I knew why. It was filled with great stories about sex, violence, and revenge. Those Christian nuns were really not into that kind of stuff.

Philip Roth was, to me, as a writer, somebody who could use his imagination to break taboos. In one of his last interviews with the New York Times, he stated the fact that “writers are people who have great imaginations, which separate them from the rest of the population.” He was also asked if he had anything to say now that his writing career was over. “No, because everything I ever wanted to say was in my books.” How can you not love a guy like that? He’s so anti-tRump, without even mentioning politics.

As a twenty-three-year-old, just out of the service, when I read PORTNOY’S COMPLAINT, I was awakened to the possibilities of fiction. Alexander had this psychological malady that any male kid in America could relate to. When I heard that Roth was getting criticism from his own “people,” the Jews, about his portrayals of the characters in this wildly comedic and imaginative book, I instantly became a protector of Mr. Roth and his “message.” In my mind, he was speaking Truth to Power with his art.

I believe Mr. Roth will be forever read because he could create books that, as Kafka said, “become the axes to break the frozen seas within us.” Each one of Mr. Roth’s novels took chances with imagination and never attempted to become a “best seller” through the use of formula plotting or identifiable, lovable, and non-controversial characters.

Many publishers and even authors today attempt to heap Mr. Roth’s genius into a category: literary. To the commercial hawkers of books to the masses, this spells “boring,” “non-profitable,” and “high-brow.”

To me, and to other writers who have any kind of an imagination, Mr. Roth and his work were an inspiration to do the same and not a genre of fiction. If a writer studies what Roth does in just that single book PORTNOY’S COMPLAINT, he or she can learn about how to create a world so funny, so conflicting and so full of human pathos that it makes the so-called “real world” look pretty dimwitted and chaotic. This, my friends, is why we writers spend so much time in front of blank pages. We pray, nay, we gird our creative loins, hoping to have the inspiration to fantasize such memorable stories.

Mr. Roth, you will be missed by your friends and family, but you will not be missed by us writers. We have you in our midst, to read, to study and to bask in the warmth of your imagination. Until the next Hitler comes to burn your work, we will attempt to carry your bright torch of free thought into the future. Baruch Hashem.

THE FOURTH WAVE: ANOTHER WORLD CRISIS

Alvin Toffler, the famous futurist, ended his exploration into the technological realm of new developments with what he called the “Third Wave” of technology.  These new computerized systems, he said, would be transferred to the Asian powers, mainly China.

Now, in 2018, we have seen that transfer of technological power.  It has been so successful, in fact, that an American “outsider,” Donald Trump, was elected on the jingoistic isolationist slogan of “Make America Great Again!”  He promised to “bring those jobs home” from China and the other countries that had allegedly “stolen them.”

Most experts say that China will overtake the United States by 2029, and China, in fact, already leads the U.S. in purchasing power.  Whereas the U.S. has been investing in the Military Industrial Complex (with its military in over 140 different nations), China has been seeking expansion through the direct economic development of other nations.  This not only adds to China’s world-leading purchasing power (they make loans to these countries in exchange for using their natural resources and other industrial growth resources China needs), it also provides them with future allies.

Whereas the U. S. has been intervening in other countries militarily and making a “quick money killing through regime change,” China has not taken that road.  Instead, they have been joining with the industrialists in other countries to constructively improve their economies and assist them in a more progressive agenda of stabilization.

Examples?  Well, one merely has to look at the state of the Middle East, especially Iraq, to see how the United States has been wasting money and resources.  Certainly, some cherry-picked corporation, such as Haliburton, made out like literal bandits, but nothing in Iraq has been improved overall after the fall of Saddam Hussein.  The Iraqis are in the same predicament, economically speaking, as they were when Saddam ruled the country.  In fact, some would argue, they were better off under Hussein.

The Gallup Poll of 2011 showed that the citizens of Iraq have become increasingly pessimistic about their economy and job outlook.  Whereas the United States, under President Barack Obama, failed to investigate the trillions of dollars lost to the fraud of corrupt corporations in Iraq during the war (Obama said it was “water under the bridge”), which, in my opinion, was one of the worst failures of his two terms in office.

However, what is happening now, under the Republicans and Donald Trump, is far more dangerous than trying to close the barn after the corporate wartime profit horses have escaped.  We are now in the imminent path to fulfilling the unilateralist goals of the Neocon Movement in the United States.  This means an even faster movement toward reliance on the MIC for economic progress than has ever been seen in the history of the modern republic.  This “progress” will come in the form of (once again) regime changes.

The Trump Administration is, step-by-step, breaking down the safety net of systems established to protect its citizens from banking corruption, food pollution, and environmental devastation.  Over in China, on the other hand, there is an international economic expansion going on that defies everything going on over in the U.S.  In fact, the China Development Bank (CDB) recently overtook the World Bank in the number of loans to other countries in 2011.

In addition, instead of propping up losing corporations, the way the U.S. did after the economic crisis of 2018, China is now shutting down corrupt corporations and even imprisoning its executives for a long time.  This was the most recent case in the Anbang Insurance Company scandal.  It seems that if you’re corrupt in the U. S. you get a raise, and in China you get a jail cell.

Of course, China also spends quite a bit less on its military infrastructure compared to the United States.  In fact, the Trump Administration is expanding its nuclear arsenal and hardware in the coming years.  This graph shows how fantastically more reckless the United States has become in military spending.  The U.S. spends over 100 billion dollars more than all the major industrialized countries (including China) combined!

At this point, I want to bring in my hypothesis for these developments.  If both major players (China and U.S.) continue development in their current ways, it could erupt into a stand-off of devastating proportions.  I will first turn to the alliance between China and the theocratic nation of Iran.

Iran has been established as a military and economic “enabler” to many Israel and the United States foes in the Middle East, including Syria’s dictator Assad, the Hezbollah, the Palestinian Hamas, and many others.  In addition, Iran is mostly behind the rebel support in the current proxy war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen.   Iran is supporting the rebels with both hardware and manpower against Saudi Arabia and the U.S. interests.

Will China play a direct part in this war in Yemen if it gets too bad?  Russia intervened on behalf of its economic partner, dictator Bashar al-Assad, and the rebels in Syria are certainly suffering for it.  Why can’t this happen in Yemen?  Perhaps it already is, indirectly.  However, it’s not playing out the way one would expect.  Beijing is already supporting the Saudi government by giving the Saudi-backed government in Yemen millions in economic aide.  How much of that aide will reach the people caught in the middle is, of course, another question.  But, because China has military aspirations of its own in the Middle East, it is willing to risk its alliance with Iran and pay both ends against the middle for the time being.

The Fourth Wave will be a confrontation between the world’s Military Industrial Complex and the world’s Progressive Industrial Complex.  As it stands right now, in 2018, I believe China is winning that confrontation.  Of course, as it did in World War Two, the United States may be willing to “risk it all” by playing its military might against world opinion.  But, whereas we had the world behind us after World War Two because of our lend-lease program in Germany and our direct assistance to Japan’s reconstruction, we no longer have that international “safety net” to allow the United States to have a “get out of jail free card” in the event of a world war.  Let’s face it.  If Trump uses nukes on Iran, North Korea, Russia or China, the game will be over.  Carl Sagan and his “Nuclear Winter” warning will have come to pass, and poor Carl will be spinning in his grave (and so will most of the world’s population).

Stop the Computers, I Want to Get Off

The Fourth Wave of Technology is the increasing reliance on computers in the form of artificial intelligence.  Elon Musk and the late Stephen Hawking had grave fears about AI and its inevitable power getting into the wrong hands.  Vladimir Putin, as that other hand, believes that the nation who controls AI can control the world, and he thinks that’s a good thing.

We have already seen AI’s perniciousness in the form of the Wall Street “flash crashes,”  near-miss nuclear missile assaults, and the encroaching development of robotic and technological speed for profit, over safety for quality assurance.  Unless these developments in artificial intelligence are controlled in order to protect human consumers, they will line the pockets of the owners, but they will endanger the lives of the population.

I propose that our world should have a meeting of scientists and not a meeting of politicians.  Give these world-renowned scientists some political power in order to discover the ways in which we can cooperate in a “non-nation” and “non-political” way, in order to improve the human condition instead of separating humans for profiteering interests.  Unless this occurs, almost immediately, we will be headed toward a military confrontation of historically mammoth and dangerous proportions.

The Dangers of Telling “Truth” to “Power”

Since I was a journalist before I became a creative writer, my heart has always been fixed on the purpose of “telling truth to power.” That means that no matter how seemingly offensive or politically incorrect some words are, I must use them if they are true.

I have been criticized by authors, mainstream publishers and readers because of my adherence to this philosophy. Let’s face it. We live in a unique point in history when both sides of the political spectrum have their “sacred cows.”

To some on the Left, the proper use of English grammar rules can be a “political weapon of discrimination against people of color and the LBGQT community.”  To some of the Right, anybody who doesn’t speak English in public, or who wears “ethnic clothing,” becomes a suspected terrorist.

I want to give three examples of my work that would never be published in today’s mainstream press because the contents would offend some audience out there and thus would reduce sales.  Who cares if it’s historically accurate and/or the truth?  It’s the almighty dollar that matters.

You Can’t Use That Title!  It’s Offensive!

Here’s an exchange I had with a fellow historical fiction author.  I had approached her in a friendly attempt to have my novel Chinawoman’s Chance reviewed by her on her website.  I thought it would be appropriate because she was living in China, and this would help me widen my audience.

Right away, she refused, simply because of the title I used, which, to her, was completely offensive to readers.  I had to give her a brief history lesson as to why I would never change my title, and how my entire purpose for writing the Portia of the Pacific series was to expose the racism, sexism and prejudice that existed in the 1800s of the United State of America:

Hello A:

Respectfully, the title “Chinawoman” was used in the 1800s quite regularly, as well as “Chinaman.” In point of fact, the expression “Chinaman’s chance,” came from the practice of the railroad owners, like Leland Stanford, who would send the coolies out with explosives to blow-up the mountains to make tunnels for the trains to use. Until dynamite was invented by Alfred Nobel, they were regularly killed doing this dangerous act. Ergo, the racist term, which was used down through the years until it became a common expression for “having little or no hope.”

If my readers don’t appreciate the “facts” of discrimination and racism that existed in the United States in that period (which is one of the main purposes that I wrote my series), then they should never read my fiction at all. I use the latest research (I was a college professor for over 25 years) which shows the terms and denigrating treatment of the Chinese in vivid ways.

The narrator for my audio book is also of Chinese decent and she lived in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and she did not find the title offensive in the least. I used other terms that were constantly being used at the time, including chink, coolie, Yellow Peril, pagan idolaters, and demons. Chinawoman is the least offensive of the lot.

At any rate, I bought your book, and I am enjoying it. I will write a positive review, no doubt, unless your mystery takes a plunge for the worse.

Take care, and thanks for your opinions.

Jim

My next example comes from a novel I wrote that received quite favorable reviews from readers and from fellow authors.  However, some people were “offended” because of two reasons:  1.  I was writing as a Black narrator and I was white.  2.  I was “making light” of people with disabilities.

Freak Story: 1967-1969Everybody’s a Freak?  How Dare You Say That!

With the recent death of “new journalism” author, Tom Wolfe, I don’t pretend to be carrying his prestigious mantle.  However, since my novel was compared to Tom’s work by another prestigious author, Dr. Jacob M. Appel, I must explain that my work is an exploration into the 1960s and its range of emotional experiments into revolutionary thoughts and actions.

My “theme,” if you will, is that we are all freaks under the skin, and we are also subject to the same pressures to conform.  My little exploration does not translate well in these times of “political correctness” and “fake news,” however, and I will live with that.

The readers who can see through the defense mechanisms of the present “new journalism” will understand why we must all realize our “freakishness” in order to survive.

My final example is a novel I wrote quite some time ago.  Like my hero, Thomas Harris, I dared to make a serial killer somebody who had an existentially “noble purpose.”  We all know serial killers must be all bad, all the time.

Russian Wolves

You Can’t Show Children Being Killed!  Serial Killers Can’t Be Noble!

I based my thriller upon a real-life serial killer of the 1980s, Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo.  Like me, he was a teacher.  Like me, he came from a dysfunctional background.  Unlike me, he had a psychotic breakdown after seeing his family eaten by fellow “comrades” during the Ukraine’s worst winter on record.

This novel breaks a lot of commercial fiction’s taboos.  However, since most of the murderous descriptions are based on fact, I stand my ground.  The book was never published in the mainstream, but it does have, if you’ll excuse the expression, “cult following” by readers who enjoy historical thrillers.  The same goes for another, even earlier novel, I wrote called Sins of Darkness, about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.

In fact, SOD was so realistic, Sirhan Bishara Sirhan’s lawyer called me on the phone to ask about “the evidence I had found concerning Sirhan’s being hypnoprogrammed to kill.”  Such are the dangers of writing truth to power.  I enjoy it one hell of a lot.  I hope you do to.

What to Do After Your Book is Published

Post-Publication Book-Marketing Actions

Below is a checklist of things you can do after your book is published, and a suggested sequence
in which you can do them. This is not meant to be an all-inclusive or exact time line, but a general
guide to help you market your books more successfully. For more information on any topic contact
jamesmusgrave2122@att.net

  • Continue to prospect for and contact buyers in non-bookstore markets
  • Update your website
  • Continue eCommerce activities
  • Monitor search-engine ranking (SEO)
  • Get active in APSS and your local chapter (www.bookapss.org)
  • Continue social networking
  • Update your strategic marketing plan (http://tinyurl.com/l4zyabe)
  • Compare actual results to budget quarterly
  • Obtain additional endorsements from readers and industry leaders (add to literature)
  • Contact other syndicated columnists
  • Contact magazines with long lead times
  • Plan more tradeshows and book fairs to attend (http://tinyurl.com/b8tk5t5)
  • Create new sales-promotional items
  • Send to niche and post-pub book reviewers
  • Apply to award competitions
  • Send books to post-publication reviewers
  • Rewrite and update your literature
  • Create podcasts
  • Participate in chat rooms, forums and discussion groups online
  • Direct marketing – snail mail and email
  • Build your “pitch pack”
  • Send a proposal package to retail distributors
  • Take media training (http://tinyurl.com/mxgvzm2)
  • Contact associations for cause marketing; membership premium (www.weddles.com/associations)
  • Phone call follow-up media
  • Mail brochures/flyers to prospective buyers
  • Phone follow-up to all prospective customers
  • Conduct a mobile marketing campaign (Apps, texting, QR codes, etc)
  • Conduct virtual tours
  • Participate in book fairs and trade shows (BEA, ALA: http://tinyurl.com/b8tk5t5)
  • Sell foreign rights
  • Continue marketing on sites such as www.shelfari.com, etc.
  • Line, brand and author extensions
  • Prospect for corporate buyers on www.manta.com
  • Work your personal networking lists
  • Conduct retail-store events
  • Conduct virtual media tours
  • Blog regularly
  • Conduct library tours
  • Create contests and/or sweepstakes
  • Write a script to use in telephone marketing
  • Update your elevator pitch and voice-mail message
  • Start a regular newsletter
  • Create a package insert
  • Use creative sales-promotional items (guy@msgpromo.com)
  • Purchase counter displays (www.bookdisplays.com)
  • Back-of-the-room sales at speaking events
  • Update metadata for online retailers
  • Conduct seminars and webinars
  • Sell your books as premiums and ad specialties (www.premiumbookcompany.com)
  • Have associations use your book as a fundraising item (www.premiumbookcompany.com)
  • Write and present proposals for large-quantity sales (www.premiumbookcompany.com)
  • Start and participate in affiliate programs
  • Support all distributors and wholesalers
  • Monitor your attitude
  • Change your strategies for life-cycle stages
  • Bundle various products
  • Market at local craft fairs and events
  • Appearances on more TV and radio shows
  • Start own fan club (Facebook or other)
  • Evaluate discounting strategies
  • Evaluate unit sales, revenue and profit relative to goals
  • Create new hooks as attention getters
  • Practice the 3Vs of media events (Verbal, Vocal, Visual)

  • Experience with Kindle Scout (an Independent Publishing Perspective)

    The above chart shows the final results of my 30-day campaign at Kindle Scout.  My novel was the first in my historical mystery series: Portia of the Pacific Mysteries.  It is called Chinawoman’s Chance.  As a publisher, I was using this campaign as a way to promote my novel to new readers of my work.  The experience was less than beneficial, from this publisher’s perspective.

    First of all, the editors at Amazon told me they would publish my Thank You Message that I wanted to include in the mailing that goes out to all those readers who nominated my book (Amazon never tells you the exact numbers of these people–which should be a warning to self-published or independent publishers).  I was including in my message a link to my publisher’s website where I would be collecting the email address of these folks, who were kind enough to nominate me, but who did not receive a free copy of my eBook because Amazon chose not to publish it.  If they joined my mailing list they would, indeed, receive a free copy when I self-published the book following the campaign.  Lo and behold, these nominating readers never received the thank you mailing that Amazon told me they would include!  Therefore, from my perspective, all of the promotional money I spent to get these excellent numbers in my campaign was totally wasted.  Of course, Amazon is able to collect all these emails for their purposes, but this publisher has nothing to show from it, and it was my intellectual property that Amazon used.

    Not that I didn’t learn from the experience. I did.  I received some average critical comments from the editors, as I was one of the “hallowed short-listed finalists.”  They had, you see, guaranteed that authors who were short-listed would receive “free critiques,” so I suppose they felt obligated.  The email comments they sent me demonstrated that Amazon editors do not do what they promise, and they have no real understanding of the genre categories of the novels listed on their own eBook distribution website (store).

    Here are their exact comments:

    Dear James,

    Thank you for submitting Chinawoman’s Chance to Kindle Scout. Unfortunately, we have decided to pass on publishing, but we wanted to share with you some feedback on the book. We hope you find it useful and encouraging!

    General comments:

    We’re very impressed by the depth of the historical backstory, but in the first half of the book you too often and too lengthily interrupt the main murder-mystery plot with historical asides, and this makes the book sometimes read more like a nonfiction biography than a plot-driven murder-mystery. The main plot does begin to feel fully immersive until chapter 5, but we think readers will enjoy the first half of the book better if it likewise focuses more on the murders and investigation. We also feel that the narrative prose tends to reveal necessary important plot and character details too belatedly, and that the dialogue is over-loaded with background narrative details, which often makes the characters’ speech sound forced and expositional. We recommend that you put the manuscript through another round of developmental editing, focusing on making sure that at least 80% of the content in each chapter relates directly to the murder-mystery – which is what readers of this genre are mostly interested in. We provide more specific observations and recommendations below.

    Developmental feedback:

  • Particularly in the beginning of the book, the reader is expected to divine vital story details by reading between the lines rather than having them stated them directly, and we found this disorienting rather than compelling. Here are a few representative examples:

  • It’s not at all clear in the prologue that Andrew Kwong owns a newspaper or that George works for the newspaper. You hint at these facts, and eventually the reader reads enough hints to make pretty accurate guesses, but I can think of no reason why it wouldn’t be better to simply tell the reader when Andrew is introduced that he owns a newspaper and that George works for him, for example. It’s also not clear enough how the mayor’s background as a newspaper publisher factors into his pressuring the Kwongs to not publish the news story about the murder, and yet George seems to go out of his way to shoehorn this fact into his explanation to Clara.
  • The reader doesn’t have enough context to understand this sentence in the prologue: “Clara knew this information agreed with what Isaiah Lees had told them at the Italian restaurant.”
  • You do a great job of developing the chaotic and colorful San Francisco setting, especially the way you interweave the complex social and civil rights developments and organizations. However, you introduce “holy roller ‘Kid’ Cook” to the story at about the same time as you explain the Vigilante Committee, which strongly implies that Cook is a leader of the Vigilante Committee. As such, it was jarring to me when it clarified later on that Cook is a cop, so I recommend clarifying Cook’s profession when he’s first mentioned.
  • I misunderstood what “tongs” were for longer than was ideal – I inferred that they were specific people rather than organizations. This may well be my own fault, but I think it would be better to tell the reader what tongs are more immediately and directly.
  • We found the prologue very hard to follow and we had the sense that the chapter may have appeared later in the story (sometime after chapter 4 when the Italian restaurant is mentioned again) but was later moved to the beginning and wasn’t edited to account for having been moved. Ideally, we think the novel should open with chapter 1, which would start the book with a great first line, as well as start the story with its inciting event.
  • The narrative relies too much on “telling” and not enough on “showing.” For example, the most exciting scene in the beginning of the book is when Clara is kidnapped and brought before the Chinese business leaders, but this scene feels more like an abstract summary than a gripping action scene because there’s no dialogue and the narrative is more focused on expositing Clara’s personal history than it is on describing the action in progress. Another example: the narrator summarizes Lees’s planning for questioning the suspects in the case, but this would be a lot more compelling if you had Lees meet with his subordinates and explained his plan to them through dialogue.
  • It’s not believable that Clara would be so cavalier about what she believes is the strong likelihood of her being raped by her kidnappers, simply because she has a “keen legal mind” and uses effective modern birth control. Perhaps you are trying to achieve a kind of Sherlock Holmesian mental detachment in the way you’re portraying Clara here, but this was not executed effectively, in our opinion.
  • The dialogue sounds unnatural when the characters explain things to each other that they already know, such as when Dutch gives Lees a history lesson on the Exclusion Act and explains who Cook and Connolly are: all of which the reader knows that Lees already knows. Granted, the reader probably doesn’t know these facts, but it’s primarily the narrator’s job – not the characters’ job – to explain things like these so that the characters’ dialogue can sound believably organic. Therefore, we recommend taking another pass through the manuscript specifically with the objective of moving most of the expository historical background content out of the dialogue and into the narrative prose.
  • Cameron’s general description of pimps seems out of place in his description of Mary McCarthy’s lifestyle. If Cameron’s point is that witnesses would have noticed if Mary had a pimp because pimps are so easy to notice, then he should phrase the observation that way.
  • The transitions between the main plot and the historical background content sometimes feel forced or random. For example, the transition from Clara’s meeting with the leaders of the Six Companies in chapter 2 into the background about how and when Clara learned the law feels disjointed because the reader doesn’t require more background information about Clara’s legal experience at that moment. Providing occasional interesting plot-irrelevant details do help to lend a novel a sense of depth, but you are devoting too much word count to such details, and it has the effect of reducing the main plot’s sense of importance. Regarding the background historical details, I recommend following the old writing advice of “kill your darlings” so that the reader’s attention is never drawn away from the main murder-mystery plot for more than a paragraph at a time, and not more than once every thousand words or so.
  • End of comments from Amazon Press editor(s).

    The greatest objection I had to these comments was the fact that they obviously didn’t read the complete novel.  It’s strange because my complete mystery is only a little over 50K words, as I always write mysteries of shorter length, and I publish them that way because my readers like to read the work in one sitting.  All of these Amazon Press editorial comments take place in the first two chapters.

    Also, they seem to have no understanding of readers who enjoy historical fiction, even mysteries.  These fiction readers of history expect the author to do careful research about the people and times of the novel, and they will call you on any inaccuracies they find, which they have done in the past in my other novels.  The editors at Amazon, however, seem to relegate that research into the “distracting, non-fiction biography department.”  Anything that didn’t show them “action and mystery plot” was not fit to be included.  If I had done that, believe me, my historical fiction readers would have complained!  The reason they select historical fiction, in the first place, is because they want to learn more about the people and times in which the mystery is set.

    Thus, I am, obviously, not deleting my work that took many hours to research just because an editor who has not read the entire novel can go on about “killing your darlings.”  Including the realities of racism, female harassment, and political corruption were part of those times and cannot be deleted.  Also, the “suggestion” that the title Chinawoman’s Chance is racist, was not in keeping with 1884 San Francisco.  Being called a “chinawoman” was the least of the problems of Asian women living in Chinatown.  The Chinese, in point of fact, were seen as sub-human, and the United States Government’s “Chinese Exclusion Act” of 1882 was the most racist legislation (other than slavery) to be allowed as official policy in the history of our country.  These were some of the “darlings” I cover so painstakingly in my book so that my readers can know what kind of political realities women and minorities had to endure.  Taking them out would mean gutting the entire purpose for writing my mystery in the first place.

    I learned a lot from this experience, but I can’t recommend it if you are publisher.  Perhaps self-published authors might get something out of the experience, but if you can’t know who nominated you, and you can’t write to your genre’s very specific audience, then how much will you need to compromise in order to get your small $1,500 advance (which must be paid back before you can even begin to collect your 50% royalties).

    I give my virtually published authors complete remuneration for their hard work.  I am not their publisher (in the sense that Amazon is).  I am their fellow author, eBook consultant, and international distributor.  There are big differences, and until Amazon understands this, I suppose they will keep trying to put the financial burden on the authors who join these scouting expeditions.  Sadly, from a publisher’s perspective, I give Amazon a grade of “C-.”

    New Publishing Paradigm at EMRE Publishing

    New Publishing Paradigm at EMRE: WAR STORIES ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

    Enhanced War Stories

    Readers and artists will be able to get together by supporting the new method of publication at EMRE Publishing, LLC in San Diego.  Raising funds for its first digital and print anthology, the supporters will be able to help the authors protect their intellectual property and create a new way of enjoying enhanced creative material.

    The topic of the first anthology is war.  The title of the anthology is WAR STORIES ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. The method of the artistry will be to create stories that have an element of speculation in each one.  Therefore, they will categorized as fiction, although we will be soliciting stories by authors who have experienced war, whether while in the military or as a civilian living in a war-torn country.  These stories can be in the genres of Science Fiction, Adventure, Mystery, Alternate History, and Fantasy.

    Each anthology will be separately financed by raising funds at Indiegogo, so we hope you can join us in this bold new experiment in publishing.

     

     

    Outlets Don’t Mean More Sales for eBook Publishers

    Outlets Galore.  Microsoft to Open Online eBook Sales Website

    If you’re a publisher or an author, the first impression you might have when getting the news of another eBook sales portal opening is, “Wow, now I can make even more money through these new sales outlets!”  Microsoft’s announcement that it will be selling “hundreds of thousands of frontlist and backlist eBook titles” comes as no surprise to me.

    Most sales go through only 5 major eBook outlets

    However, if you’ve been paying attention, sales of eBooks have not increased in conjunction with these new outlets opening.  On the contrary.  eBook sales are actually going down at a very fast rate if you believe the reports.  Also, sales are not easily tracked when you spread your eBook distribution to all these outlets.

    Not so fast.  Please notice the last line in that Fortune article.  One of the biggest reasons why eBooks seem to be going down is the fact that the Big Five online retailers are “allowing content creators to do an end-run around incumbents and sell directly to consumers.”

    Also, if you notice, nothing is mentioned (except at Book Fairs) about the increasing rate of eBook piracy taking place.  Therefore, the news of new sales outlets should be a sign to publishers that they need to circle the wagons and put their distribution dollars into B2C (business to customer) sales.

     

    We at EMRE Publishing have developed a B2C sales platform that is secure, user-friendly and ePub3 compliant.  We leverage this direct to reader sales model because of the “writing on the wall.”  Readers use their mobile devices, especially their SmartPhones, to read, and they don’t want to hassle with all the logins and rip-offs required of conventional online book sales like Microsoft, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  Readers want speed, convenience and, most of all, they want to be able to follow the authors they want to follow and be informed immediately when that author comes out with a new title.  Our system does all of this–and more.

    I’ll be giving a webinar on May 15, 2017 that explains how you can cash-in on this new paradigm of eBooks sales.  You don’t even have to have ISBN numbers to sell using our platform.  We’ll also be giving away a free installation on your server so you can see how it increases your eBook sales if you follow our plan.  We hope you can attend to learn how to cut your losses and protect your investment by selling direct to your readers.

    EMRE Publishing Makes Life Easier for Authors and Publishers

    The Underside of Reality

    When I worked with engineers at Caltech’s Industrial Relations Center, the challenges were immense when it came to communicating how these technical people could do the job for the marketing and sales people who had little to no technical knowledge.  The problem is that even though authors and creators can envision possible uses for technology (in this case, digital technology), the people who actually implement the code to bring about these “visions” have a vocabulary and genius all their own.  Therefore, most of my job at EMRE Publishing is to make certain my authors and publishers are able to work closely with my genius computer programmers to create the best possible rendering of their vision on the pages of their ePub3 books. Wouldn’t you want the flexibility to design an eBook that looked like the one in the above video?

    I like the metaphor that the late Alan Watts shared concerning reality.  On the surface, we can see the beauty of society in all its glory.  For example, a well written novel is like the top-side of an elaborate quilt;  it reads smoothly and doesn’t seem to make the experience of reading difficult.  However, if we turn this wonderful reality quilt over, we can see the underlying, seemingly chaotic reality that went into making this surface reality so beautiful.  We are therefore surprised to see a complex sequence of geometric patterns and trial and error sequences that go into making such a wonderful pattern on the top-side.  This is the world of creating an excellent eBook for the viewer.

    I’m proud to introduce you to two of our computer developers at EMRE who are the weavers of the complex patterns beneath the resultant beauty of your creation, your ePub3 book.  Bas Van Stein, a PhD candidate in Computer Science at the prestigious Leiden University, the Netherlands, worked with me for over five years to develop our flagship product, the Embellisher (TM) ePub3 Mobile Publishing Platform.  I was able to communicate my vision to Bas, and he was able to explain to me how it could be done.  The final result is a revolutionary platform that makes the display of ePub3 a much more satisfying and secure experience for the publisher and the reader.

    Today, I am proud to announce another member of our team who can work with you to see your vision become reality.  Ric Wright is the Engineering Director at the Readium Foundation.  Aha, you’re saying, what does that mean to me, an author or publisher of eBooks?  Well, since our entire platform was coded using the open source Readium eReader as a starting point, which Ric helped develop, it means when you get a project done with us, you’re getting the wizard behind the miracle of what Readium can do for you and your creative ideas.

    For example, what if you wanted to design a hybrid video game and eBook? Well, since Ric actually teaches how to create 2D and 3D graphics and animations and place them inside ePub3 eBooks, he can do the coding you would need to implement your game inside the eBook!  He is, in fact, a software consultant, so working on such a project would be the proverbial “piece of cake” for him.

    Aha, you’re saying.  Why can’t I just go to iBook and create my ePub3 with them?  After all, they provide all the tools I need to do it.  The “catch” is that since Apple is one of the greediest companies on the planet, you end up having to pay them once your creation is ready for distribution.  As this author found out, after reading the “fine print” of the legal agreement, he was basically turning over all publishing rights to Apple!  As any publisher or author can tell you, this is the kiss of death to owners of intellectual property.

    Therefore, when you work with Ric, you’ll be working in complete confidence that your creation will remain yours to publish freely using our Embellisher (TM) system.  In fact, we’ll be contracting with you using an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), so when your ideas become a reality, there can be no untoward “rip-offs.”  We use Github and Dropbox to securely keep all your developmental files.  In addition, your final product, the embellished eBook, will be inside one of the most secure eReaders available today.

    Take a look at what genres we are working with to create ePub3 titles.  If you think your project fits, and you want to make the most money possible from your creation, then get in contact with us today.  You can also look at what Melcher Media has done for its clients.  If you have an idea for an interactive or embellished project, chances are you won’t have to pay what you’d have to pay Melcher because our overhead is a lot less!  Ric will be happy to make your acquaintance in order to start weaving your quilt from the underside of reality.

    Samples of What We Can Do for You

    Authors are Becoming ePub3 Creators with the Embellisher (TM) Platform

    EMRE Publishing, LLC for authors

    Authors and/or publishers who want to develop an eBook in the latest ePub3 formatting work with us daily to see their creations come to life.  In this article, you can see the nine things you need to know about using ePub3 formatting.  In these three free books, you can learn about how ePub3 works in a hands-on, practical way.

    Now, what if I told you that you don’t have to be technically able to do all the tricks listed in these books?  In fact, we have developers and coders who’ve spent many thousands of hours working on projects that accomplish these feats of daring do, and unless you are a computer engineer, chances are you won’t learn the skills needed to do what you want.

    That’s where EMRE Publishing can step-in and relieve the stress from you.  Although we do suggest you first become familiar with what you can and cannot do with ePub3, it is not a total necessity.  If you’re an author who wants to experiment with a new writing project that can make your work have a lot of extra “pop,” then ePub3 is right for you.  I am specifically suggesting that ePub3 will be most beneficial to authors who write in the following genres:

  • Education textbooks.
  • Self-Help and Inspirational non-fiction.
  • Historical non-fiction and Historical fiction.
  • Children’s interactive books.
  • Choose-your-own adventures and mysteries.
  • Interactive Romance and Erotica.
  • Adventure non-fiction and fiction.
  • Military non-fiction and fiction.
  • All of these types of books lend themselves to incorporating the cool applications in ePub3 technology and interior design.  If you have an idea for adding this technology to your next project, in order to create a professional-looking enhanced (or, as we like to call it “embellished”) title, then contact us today.

    Here’s how we’ll work with you:

  •  First, we’ll get a general idea of what your project is about and what you want to do inside the book.
  • Next, we’ll put you in touch with an experienced ePub3 developer and designer who can create the specific “look and feel” of your project.
  • After our developer gets an idea of what kind of time frame he/she would need to complete your project, we will get back to you with a cost estimate.
  • Finally, the developer will discuss your project’s workflows and how to submit the details of what you want your project to do for reader in a very linear way.  Our computer engineers are very literal minded, so they will need to know exactly what you want the page to do (thus, the “suggestion” that you first become familiar with ePub3 techniques).
  • You pay 1/2 of the cost, and the second 1/2 payment will come once you are satisfied the project is meeting your requirements.  We require a paid fee for work accomplished, based on the time spent by the engineer on your project, should you wish to terminate the project.
  • If you’re interested in getting your next writing project done using the latest ePub3 formatting and technology, just ePub3 technology for authorscontact us.  We’ll discuss it with you in detail to get you enthused about what kinds of things you can do.  Your creative wheels deserve a nice “hard body” running under them, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the way we can make it happen.

    And, if you happen to be a computer engineer or developer, then our Embellisher (TM) platform, for $40, should be enough to get you going!