The Democratization of Publishing—Independence is Scary

Boy, is this a good one. Kristen has done it again. The analogy is perfect.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

I’m looking over the final formatting for my new book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World. The goal is to release it on July 4th for a number of reasons. My first book was called We Are Not Alone and then we have the whole Rise of the Machines thing goin’ on with the new book. What better day to release than Independence Day? Okay, May the Fourth might have been cooler, but the book wasn’t finished with editing at that point.

Yes, I am a sci-fi nerd :D.

Publishing has Been Democratized

Before the e-book/indie revolution, we writers relied on New York solely to grant us a career or not. We needed favor from the King traditional press to move forward. There was no other way unless we were willing to hand ten or twenty thousand dollars to a vanity press and hope we could duplicate…

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The Three NEVERs of Social Media

Too good not to share. Kristen nails it again.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

I understand that many of you who follow this blog are new, so if you’ve made one of these mistakes, you’re learning. We all oops (especially in the beginning), so don’t sweat it. Yet, I see these three behaviors far more often than I’d like. These three professional blunders can hang on like the smell of dead fish and stink up our author career, so avoid them at all cost.

You’ve been warned ;).

Never Be Nasty in a Blog Comment

I am fully aware that my blog can’t make everyone happy. I work my tail off to entertain and enlighten but I know I can’t be all things to all people. If I’m not your cup of tea, just click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the e-mail WordPress sends you or e-mail me and I will happily assist you leaving (and cry later *sniffles*).

There is no need…

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This entry was posted on June 19, 2013. 3 Comments

Shameless: How to Fail a Book Signing (but Not the Writing Life)

Identify that elephant, he is in the living room of every author.

WordServe Water Cooler

“Art is born out of humiliation.”  W.H. Auden

I had a fantastically unsuccessful book signing in a big box store not long ago. (Yes, signings still occur, despite the takeover of social media.) Afterwards, licking my wounds, I turned to a book on my own shelves, Mortification: Writers’ Stories of Their Public Shame. In it, Margaret Atwood, Rick Moody, Billy Collins and a constellation of such literary brights offer up the most companionable ignominies and embarrassments. (Fittingly, I bought the book used, online, for a penny.) My own parade of humiliations that night were paltry next to theirs. Still, couldn’t I do better?

Two weeks later, an Internet search on “book signings” confirmed my suspicions. According to several book signing experts, I did indeed do everything wrong. First, I missed the Webinar on “The Seven Steps to Turn Yourself into a Celebrity.” In another  article, I violated nearly every one of…

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How to Slash Your Word Count by 20-50% / Editor & Author Jodie Renner

Oh, preach it sister!

Killer Nashville Blog

…and tighten up your story without losing any of the good stuff!

Have you been told your story looks promising or even intriguing, but your novel is way too long? Today’s readers have shorter attention spans, and publishers don’t want to accept long novels from new writers, as they are so much more expensive to produce.

The current preferred length for thrillers, mysteries and romance is around 70,000–90,000 words. Anything over 100K is definitely considered too long in most genres these days. Well-written, finely crafted fantasies and historical sagas can run longer, but newbie writers need to earn their stripes first before attempting to sell a really long novel. Basically, every word needs to count. Every image and decision and action and reaction needs to drive the story forward. There’s no place for rambling or waxing eloquent or self-indulgent preening in today’s popular fiction! Thrillers and other suspense novels especially…

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This entry was posted on June 7, 2013. 2 Comments

Some people do shoot the messenger…

…or would like to. Blaming the editor is common.

Editing is my dream job; there is nothing I would rather do.  That’s the good news.

The bad news is having to deliver bad news. Or ‘much room for improvement’ messages.

The ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you’ messages are easier by comparison. The manuscript is not ready for a professional edit. End of story. An editor doesn’t invest time in the project.

Can this novel be saved?

The good ones, the ones with the bones of a good story  but with a number of holes or inconsistencies, insufficient or improbable character development, ah, those are painful. The pain is evenly distributed between editor and author, although the author doesn’t understand that.  The news that is excruciating to deliver is unbearable to receive.

We don’t want the author to throw the work out or give up on it.

The very fact that the manuscript is accepted and the edit is done is clear evidence that it is not a lost cause. It may need a major renovation but it can be turned into a solid structure which will stand the test of time and get good reviews.


Bad reviews can be the kiss of death, not just for a particular book, but for every book the author has on the market. Bad reviews can stop new readers from giving the author a chance, even if the other books on offer are top-notch.

Reviews are not the only form of negative press that should concern a writer. With social media and the conversations that take place there, thousands more people than the few who may read a review will see a slam against a book or writer.

Editors get paid for the service they provide whether or not a book does well, so we don’t point these weaknesses out to line our own pockets. But consider what it is we are getting paid to do. We want authors to make money, too. You hire us as experts, for our knowledge and experience in getting manuscripts  market-ready.

While personal preferences affect the genres an editor may accept, the comments made on accepted manuscripts are not personal opinions. They are things which will damage your credibility as an author. Be careful about deciding to publish things that are not working based only on the opinions gathered from friends or inexperienced beta readers.

Editors are not executioners. We want you to succeed. To thrive. We are on the same team and you have a lot at stake.


Unedited version sent to the printer?

It can and does happen.

It has happened to me. If you ever purchase a book with my name in it, and suspect some gremlins have run amok through the printing-house, please contact me and I can clear things up.

I now have a clause in my editing contract which states:


Other: Author is responsible for insuring that the FINAL EDITED DOCUMENT is the one sent to the printer or publisher and any discrepancy between said document and the final version the editor authorized is the sole responsibility of the author and in no way a reflection of the quality of the editorial work. (Please initial)  ______ 

That little legal escape hatch helps not at all out in book buying land.

Both the author and editor can survive this seeming fiasco. When we receive emails pointing out our ineptitude we respond with good humor. Nasty reviews don’t go down as easily. Sometimes all you can do is say ‘Oh well’.

Never hesitate to ask an author or editor if some unfortunate slip-up has occurred.

Do not just blindly assume that they are incompetent nincompoops. Any self-published author is only too aware of the cost of printing. Trashing the entire print run (“Off with their heads!”) only sounds like a solution to a lottery winner.


Terrorism in Contemporary Fiction

There is an author daring to incorporate modern reality into contemporary thrillers.


While entertaining and well-written, his latest offerings could be considered alarming and even controversial.

Ian G. Watson is an octogenarian who has witnessed many of the events shaping the last century first hand. Noted primarily for humor (he is a master), he has nevertheless published two books, so far, in a series which deals with the clandestine workings of today’s real world, and he has dared to do this bluntly. That they have received little notice surprises me. Perhaps people are fooled by the cover art. That is a shame.

Plots to take over the world are nothing new and the groups who undertake such schemes are generally patient, not concerned about accomplishing it in their generation.

Just how relevant is Watson’s take on things?

Here is an excerpt of the his WIP (Work In Progress) called “The Washington Rose”, which is due out later this year and is the third book in the Wren Series.

Gwen sipped a glass of water, cleared her throat and began: “A common thread of belief runs through our religion,” she said. “We are all ‘People of the Book’, whether that book is the Qu’ran, the Torah or the New Testament. Our beliefs come to us from Abraham, Jesus and Mohammed. Those beliefs are in one God and Eternal Life.

“So, what has happened to interfere in those basic beliefs and cause our minds to descend into the violence of recent years? What has caused our peoples to enter into wars and terrorism and horror? What has caused us to enter in ‘A Battle for God’ if there is only one God? Why have our religions, with so much in common, become perverted into the tools of politicians? I think the answer is one of control. With violence and the breakdown of order, a fertile ground is left for those who want to turn back the clocks to fundamentalism, militant forms of piety running through our major religions.

“Fundamental Christians object to and fight against scientific principles such as Darwinism while their dogma preaches a return to the principles of Creationism based on Genesis. Jewish fundamentalism came about after the Holocaust and staunchly supports the State of Israel and this in itself is a thorn in the side of Moslems. The Moslems do not trust the secular civilizations where governments are set up to rule in the name of the people. In their view only God can rule the people. 

“Therefore, from these backgrounds, originally those of compassion, the Fundamentalists have forged three ferocious religions. These ‘ferocious’ religions now hold us in their grip. Fundamentalists of all stripes believe that they are fighting to survive and they turn to militancy and ignore the compassion of religion in favor of a ferocious extremism. In this respect all three faiths based on the message of Abraham have developed fundamentalists who follow similar patterns, withdrawing from the mainstream of their faith and forming their own sacred and separate corps. They form ‘study groups’, ‘extreme groups’ and ‘training camps’ like fortresses in which counter cultures exist against modern life, filling them with fear and ferocity.

“From these backgrounds, fundamentalists are active in planning their political, military and social strategies. Strong examples of these phenomena are the Iranian Revolution, the Moral Majority and the Middle Eastern Islamic Jihadists and Jewish Groups.

Christian Fundamentalists in the United States commit few acts of terror, living as they do in a relatively peaceful society. Among such Fundamentalists though is the belief that the democratic government of the U.S. will eventually collapse due to its own size and complexity and become a dictatorship supported or opposed by militias and bodies with vested interests like the National Rifle Association.”

Provocative to be sure.

To be ready for ‘The Washington Rose’ when it comes out later this year you would do well to read the first two books in the series,’ The Just’s Umbrella’ and ‘The Sunless Treasuries’.

DON’T be fooled by the cover art. The stories are linked to dastardly chemical weapons first developed in WW2 but they take place in the 1990s.

The Just’s Umbrella on Amazon

The Sunless Treasuries on Amazon

Ian G. Watson’s website

Ian G. Watson on Facebook

My Favorite Photographer

Kim promo

Kim and I met in a roundabout way. I have never looked back. I think we all have our favorite photographer, and I know several very good ones. A couple of things stand out about Kim for me.

She works well with people, and even reluctant subjects respond positively. (Trust me, I have a couple of extremely reluctant subjects.) She is also financially reasonable in the extreme given the number of degrees she holds. Humble and fun, a friend you will want to keep.

Kim L. Pearce Photography:  She is working on a website.

Some images of the family photo shoot last October:

The Myth About Introverts & Extroverts–Could You Be an Ambivert?

This is fantastic clarification. I have had people laugh when I tell them I am an introvert because they know me to be ‘exuberant’. I am, however, an introvert, and I come home from events where I have been exuberant utterly drained and hoping I don’t have to deal with anybody for days.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

As humans we tend to think in very black and white terms, but as writers and artists, we are wise to remember that people have many dimensions. What we see is not necessarily true, especially when it comes to labeling others as “introvert” or “extrovert.”

What Does It REALLY Mean to Be an Extrovert or Introvert?

Introversion and extroversion are commonly misunderstood. Just because someone is shy, doesn’t mean she’s an introvert. Someone who is bubbly, gregarious and the life of the party can, in reality, be an introvert. The difference between introverts and extroverts is simply this:

Where do we gain or lose energy?

Introverts are drained by people and need alone time to recharge.

Extroverts are drained by too much time alone. They need human interaction to recharge.

Meet the Ambivert

Many people fall into what is called an ambivert, meaning they exhibit traits of both. If you…

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Claire Lautier’s Grasse Roots Perfumery is a Local Treasure

Non-Migraine triggering scent is possible

“Many of the unpleasant effects that people experience when exposed to mainstream perfumes are caused by synthetic chemicals in those fragrances.  Most people who cannot tolerate mainstream fragrances can enjoy natural perfume.  This extends to workplace policies banning scent, as those really should apply to mainstream fragrance.  But awareness about natural perfume isn’t wide enough yet to raise the awareness around that issue.  People assume they’re allergic or react poorly to all perfumes, rather than the toxic ingredients in commercial fragrance.

“Having said that, it’s important to realize that just because a perfume is natural doesn’t mean a person can’t have an allergic response.  Essential oils and other fine perfumery botanicals are potent substances that must be respected.  You should always do a patch test with any product you wear directly on the skin.

“All raw materials are not created equal.  Remember the cocoa absolute! (Claire allowed us to compare a few that had differing quality and we were amazed.~ Wendy)

“Most of us have grown up in a world laden with the synthetic equivalents of real natural smells.  The world is so chemicalized on every level it’s no wonder so many of us experience multiple sensitivities nowadays.  Returning to natural smells makes me feel whole and connected to the earth again.  It’s very healing.” ~Claire Lautier

I am a migraine sufferer. I run into serious trouble in the soap aisle at the grocery store. My friend Melissa is in the same mess, but we both discovered something wonderful on April 22.

“You know when you find something special. Claire is one of the truly extraordinary people. There is so much care and love in these amazing perfumes you will never go back to commercially produced products again. As a serious migraine sufferer, a huge myth was dispelled for me today … natural fragrances, created in natural form, simply open the senses to beauty and do not create migraine triggers! What a lovely discovery to feel pretty again … after years of forgoing scents! Thank you so much Claire Lautier for the delightful afternoon!” ~ Stratford resident and caterer Melissa Roach

Grasse Roots Perfumery owner Claire Lautier (  is an accomplished and successful actor who has always had a love of natural fragrance.

Claire grew up in the Mediterranean Basin and can trace her lineage back for generations in France and Algeria. Her family roots are in the south of France not far from Grasse and one of the most important distillers of essential oils and perfumes from 1795 to the early 1900s in Grasse was called Lautier Fils. (Lautier Brothers)

Claire is a musician, singer and professional actor. Her natural creativity combined with continuing study and experimentation has given her a fondness and respect for the art of natural perfumery.

Grasse Roots is expanding its products to include the Awaken Jewellery  line to complement the liquid and solid perfumes, bath salts and lip balm.

Using only *certified organic essential oils Claire makes every perfume herself, by hand, right in Stratford.

The official website is being updated right now, but you can find Grasse Roots on Facebook and Twitter. Photos are below the links.

Claire played the Central Park reporter in the movie ‘Elf” in 2003.