Tag Archives: writing

What Is the Best Way to Learn What Your Opponent Believes? — post by Michael J. Findley

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In answer to a Quora question: What’s the best way to learn the opposing side’s arguments when it comes to politics?

What is best varies from person to person. I read Plato’s Republic, then acquired an audio version to listen to it many times. Rather than the Communist Manifesto, Plato is the real foundation of the left. Communism/socialism is older than Plato, but Plato is a good beginning. I also read the works of the French revolutionaries, such as Voltaire.

While they were influential in their day, they lack an overall depth of thought. Next I read the Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, which I bought for 50 cents. When a dog ate them, I did not think they were worth replacing. Next I read the personal experiences of those who lived in countries where these religions where forced on the populace, such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago. 

I learned that the term “the left” came from the French Revolution. Revolutionaries took over the French Parliament and sat on the left side of the King. Everyone who opposed them sat to the right of the King. So the term “the Right” means opposed to the Left. “The Right” is not a specific belief or position. It simply means opposed to Communism/Socialism/Fascism. All are various versions of dialectical materialism; tyranny, to use the language of Thomas Jefferson. With Communism, dialectical materialism is god, controlled entirely by the government.

Socialism permits business to join the ruling class of government. Fascism permits anyone who is willing to join the party to rule over those who resist Fascism. Conservatism is quite different depending on the country. In the USA, it stands for private property, personal responsibility, free enterprise, and the understanding (belief), that these gifts are rights from God as explained in the Word of God. Government can only take rights away. It cannot bestow God given rights on anyone.

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When Moving Day Comes: CreateSpace to KDP

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Among my indie author friends, I am seeing a good deal of excitement and concern over the fact that CreateSpace, the go-to print book destination for many of us, is closing down. Our books will now be merged with Kindle Direct Publishing. I am going through this conversion now, and, with 50 titles in print, you can imagine it made me a bit nervous. For the most part the transition has been pretty smooth. I will share the steps in my process in order, and hope to help with what is easy and what is a bit tricky.

Most of us have gotten an email announcing the changeover. Some were able to go straight to CreateSpace and follow three easy steps to transfer books. Some of us, however, were a bit bewildered when we didn’t find any way to activate the process. I was able to take the first step, to verify and link up the two accounts. but that was as far as it went. I waited very impatiently, followed other author comments as they got the nod and did the switch. Nothing for me.

Then one day I had to send a question to KDP. That’s when I saw that one of the things you could ask them about was the changeover. When I clicked on that option, the ability to make the transfer blossomed before my eyes. So I took the plunge and made the transfer. Almost all the books came over very easily. Time will tell if there are problems with the books themselves, but so far it went very easily.

I saw that other people were still talking about the transfer. Some mentioned that there were a few things to be aware of. I wanted to share those here to try to get everything in one place.

  1. You may need to link some print and ebook files manually. Just run through your bookshelf list and see if they all appear to be linked up on your KDP dashboard. If not, follow the instructions. It does a search for the same/similar title and links them up.
  2. You will have access to two more keyword slots. Be sure to take advantage of those.
  3. You can choose one more BISAC category. This helps with discoverability.
  4. You will want to check worldwide rights to potentially reach readers in more countries.
  5. Check your prices and royalties. KDP print figures them differently, especially on shorter works. Adjust as needed.

Here are a couple more items that won’t affect everyone, it seems, but they have affected me.

  1. After changing my books over to KDP print, I got an email saying I would need to change my Benny and the Bank Robber study guides. They implied I wasn’t the author of the original works (I am), or that the original work isn’t included (it is). Happily, when I explained, they published the student and teacher editions without changes.
  2. The first time I tried to publish a print book directly through KDP print, I couldn’t get it to accept my cover. I’ve been designing print covers for myself and others for years with basically very few problems. But the print preview for this kept showing that the cover was sized and positioned wrong, no matter how much I adjusted. I finally gave up and went back to CreateSpace. But now, there’s no going back. So, yesterday I wanted to redo a book already published on CreateSpace and ported over to to KDP. I had no real problem with the interior. The cover, however, kept coming out too high, text at the top outside the dotted line. But, after a few adjustments, I got it to work, I think. Still waiting for final approval, but it looks good. I am hopeful. I think KDP Print is improving its customer experience and they will get it right.

So take the plunge! Please comment about issues you have had with the changeover. We can all help each other get through this. That’s what the indie author community does best. I’d love to hear how the process went (or is going) for you.

Post by Mary C. Findley image from Pixabay User Fabianne1

 

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Review Or Die! (Not you, the Reader — the Author)

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It’s a pain to write reviews. If I liked a book, I liked it. I don’t need to review it. Maybe I’ll tell some friends. Maybe I’ll lend the book to someone else. And it sounds stupid to say, “This book was great! I loved it!” What good does that do anyone? Other readers don’t care about reviews. They pick a book because they get pulled in by the cover, they’re a fan of the genre, or a friend or some bigshot blogger they follow recommended it. Who cares about my little dumb reviews?

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Honestly, I can sympathize with those reasons for not writing a review. But I’m still going to shoot them down and give you some help to understand why every time you read a book but don’t review it, you are sucking just a little bit of life out of that author. If people keep taking these attitudes and not writing reviews, eventually, those authors will die, in a publishing sense. Their books will receive little attention and that’s death for a book and for its author. He really can’t keep his story alive by himself. He needs your help.

  1. “It’s a pain to write a review.” No, it’s not. It’s easy. I even gave you a pattern in a previous blog post. Take a look, follow the steps, and voila! The review is done before you know it. Here’s that link.  https://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/how-to-write-a-book-review-the-author-will-love/
  2. “Maybe I’ll tell some friends.” Please, please, do. But imagine how many friends you can tell if you write your opinion down. You can widen your influence and the author’s if you just take those few minutes and write that review.
  3. “It sounds stupid to say. ‘It was great! I loved it'” Maybe it does to you, but it sounds like music to the author. It’s like water on brown grass. It’s like food to an author’s empty stomach. Be that water. be that food. Say whatever you can say. Write whatever you can write. Just go there and do that review thing!
  4. “Other readers don’t care about reviews.” You might be surprised by how many do. Many people read reviews before deciding to buy a book. If there aren’t many, they might skip on to one that has some.
  5. “Who cares about my dumb little reviews?” But there’s another reason to give an author reviews. It helps give his book reality and credibility with sites where he might want to promote it. Real, genuine reviews are like seeds. They multiply opportunities for an author to get known, get read, and get more sales. You can help in this way that costs you so little. You can help a lot.

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I, as an author care about your reviews. They’re not dumb. They’re your thoughts and feelings. People who put their thoughts and feelings into writing a book welcome feedback. What’s the point in writing a book if no one cares enough to share their thoughts about it? I look at my beloved children, my books that I worked on to produce. I think, when some have ten or more reviews, and some have one or two, or even none, that nobody loves those children. Nobody cares about them, so it must be nobody cares about me either. And I wither a little. I get thirstier, and hungrier, and I die a little.

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I failed to mention one thing about reviews. They don’t have to be good ones. Sure, parents want everyone to love their kids, but if you’ve got constructive criticism on why a book isn’t what you hoped it would be, put that down, too. Don’t think all we want is a string of fives and maybe a few fours. Lay it out there — what you liked and what you didn’t. If we think our books are perfect, we need your humbling. We need your honesty. Help us be better authors. Even if we don’t do a rewrite of that book, it might help us do the next one better.

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So help us. That’s what reviews are really all about. We are flowers. Water us, feed us, encourage us, pinch off our dead blooms and help us grow new ones. Don’t let our books and our fire to write die in discouragement and dim corners. Shine a light on them. we need your help. We can’t do this alone. We are only the authors. You are the readers. — post by Mary C. Findley

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Author or Character Interviews, Anyone?

Microscope

Put yourself under the microscope!

If you write books for a G, PG, or PG-13 audience, you may submit a request for an author interview. Not all interviews will be featured, but I will try to spotlight authors often. Thank you!

Author Interview Questions

Answer whatever questions you wish, and you can modify the first one to fit what you write. Send them back to me at findleymcmj@gmail.com. I will let you know if/when your interview goes live.

1. Many people say that authors can’t or don’t do well with more than one genre. You have contemporary mystery, some romance, and now a western/scifi series. What do you think prepared you or qualifies you to write these different types of books?

2. What do you say to the charge that men can’t write romances that women will like, and how will you tempt guys to read your books?

3. Tell us a little about your “real” (Non-writing) life — family, job, church life. Does it give you inspiration for your writing? Does it get in the way of your writing, or are there times when you get help, from people or circumstances?

4. Tell us about things you enjoy — what you do for fun or personal satisfaction.

5. Tell us about working with any people who help you create your books — Do you use Beta readers? Hire an editor or proofreader? How do you get your covers?

6. Since you have several books out, tell us what you think works for promotion. What are your thoughts on ebooks versus print books and different ways to let people know about you and your books?

7. Have you done anything writing-related, but besides your books, that seemed to get a lot of positive response? Something that encouraged you?

8. Tell us about your newest book. Make us want to read it.

9. What is the “message” of your writing? (For example, is your purpose to encourage old-fashioned values, encourage romance, or do you have different purposes in different books?)

10. Tell us one place you visited or person you met, that made a big impression on you, and why.

11. Tell us one place you want to visit, or person you want to meet, and why.

12. Share something that makes you laugh, with just plain humor, or happiness, or because it’s so stupid.

13. Share something that’s amazing, touching, or that makes you angry.

14. What’s the worst trouble you ever had with getting a book written (plots, finding needed information, getting a cover done)?

15. What’s your next project? Tell us so we can’t wait for it to come out!

Please send images and links, including any good reviews or news you want to share about your books.

OR, perhaps you’d rather do a character interview. If so, follow the example below.

Character Interview Example

Hi, we’re interviewing Leah Masters from Mary C. Findley’s book Send a White Rose. Leah is here to tell us how a lovely young society lady from Boston ended up in territorial New Mexico, in the middle of an assassination plot against the man who sent for you to discuss marriage.

1. What do you do for a living, and how’s business?

I’ve been blessed to be provided for by my father, Senator Masters, but I do keep our household running smoothly, do his accounts, and play hostess at his dinner parties since the death of my mother some years ago.

2. You’ve been seen with some ––––––––––––––– (people, animals, illness, interesting tools, vehicles, weapons, or other things related to your story). What’s your secret to (attracting them, fighting them off, working with them, making them, whichever applies)

Yes, I’m afraid my health is not the best, and I do seem to catch everything that goes around. I can’t believe I was sick right when it was time to visit Judge Durant in New Mexico.

3. When you (took that trip, bought that object, met that person, accepted that job, fired that weapon, whatever applies), that certainly was a life-changing decision, wasn’t it?

It certainly was the most difficult thing I have ever done, but my brother Randall insisted we couldn’t put off the trip until I was over my illness. Of course, neither of us realized how hard the trip was, or how sick I really was. And how humiliating, to faint at Judge Durant’s feet and not even be able to say a word.

4. Did it shock you when you learned (something about another person or an important place or event in the story)?

I had two big shocks one right after the other. First, I learned that my brother had been arrested on suspicion of having tried to assassinate Judge Durant. The second was being told that that Judge Durant had left town, when I came all this way to meet him and discuss the possibility of marriage.

5. Some of us like to exercise the “ask a friend” option at odd times in our lives, but it seems especially odd that you brought ––––––– in to help you solve the problem of ______. What’s special about him/her?

It didn’t seem strange at all to me that Alethia and I would become friends. I didn’t learn until later that many people thought of her as the natural choice to be Judge Durant’s wife. She was the only one who could really tell me the truth about what had happened to Judge Durant.

6. What did you think when _________ (complicating event in the story) happened, and how did you handle it?

Governor Markham insisted he could persuade Judge Durant to see me and help work out this terribly confusing and embarrassing situation between us. I went with him to the hospital, but the judge got angry at all his friends and banished everyone. It was only by pretending to be lost looking for another patient that I found the courage to actually talk to him again. He didn’t even recognize me, for which I was grateful.

7. What was one thing another person did that surprised/angered/delighted/saddened/frightened you, and turned out to be extremely important to how things turned out?

I couldn’t believe, after all the changes for the better that my brother had gone through, that he would revert to his old ways and accuse Alethia of such a terrible thing. But there were so many things I still didn’t understand about my own brother, and what he was capable of.

8. Did you do anything you really regretted/enjoyed/ struggled to accomplish That made a big difference?

It certainly was foolish of me to just run off in the pouring rain trying to find the judge when I had so little information. I just knew that he was in danger, and I couldn’t find anyone else in time. I suppose I didn’t think about how dangerous for me, too.

9. Was there a time when you were certain things just were not going to turn out right?

More than once, certainly. There were so many complications. Even when everything else seemed to be working out, that only made it harder to try to believe that things would work out between the judge and myself.

10. Why would you refuse the marriage proposal you’d crossed the country and gone through so much hardship just to hear?

A combination of anger, humiliation, and honestly, happiness that he’d made a decision, even if it wasn’t for me. I didn’t even understand why he would ask me, when Alethia has loved him all her life.

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“Take Words with You … ” Mary C. Findley

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“Take words with you and return to the Lord.  Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips.” Hosea 14:2

Coming soon — a book for Christian writers about Christian writing.

This book is about how to prepare to be a writer, how to write, and lots of my thoughts and opinions on what you should and shouldn’t write about. Although opinions are like noses – everybody has one, and some of them smell – My opinions are based on decades of reading, writing, and studying what makes Christian writing Christian.
The title of this book should make clear my purpose for writing it, and all the others I have written or will write. I used to think I could write cool stuff and not worry about the message, but the message of glorifying God, of honoring His Word, and of communicating truth, even in fiction, is overpowering. The Scripture verse on the cover is a recent discovery. The context is Israel’s need to repent, but my, oh my, isn’t this what we need to do before we write a word? Don’t we need to take our words to God, to ask Him to purify them, to accept what we offer Him, as if it was that sweet savor He loves in the Old Testament sacrifices? Wow. To think that our books can be our fruit. It’s humbling. It’s terrifying. But God asks us to bear fruit, so let’s see what we need to do to get on with it.

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Why I Write Steampunk … A Part Two of Sorts … Author post by Sophronia Belle Lyon

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We were reading in Jeremiah this morning, and I ran across these verses. It made me think of how we fail the Lord sometimes … Get distracted and fall away from wholehearted service, or become rebellious and stubborn. The Lord invites us to return, and His forgiveness will restore us to “stand before him”, like a servant stands ready to do his master’s bidding.

Then I thought about writing Steampunk, and how man takes good things and twists them, making them evil and vile, or real-life people who corrupt the innocent. Classic themes, characters, and settings become vehicles for sex-peddling, feminist diatribes, exalting the occult, and all the other things Steampunk sometimes does.  But the verses above say God urges us to “take forth the precious from the vile”. He says … *shivers running up and down my spine* … “thou shalt be as my mouth”. I get to speak for God. I get to speak for God!

Listen to what Johannes Keppler says about his studies in Science:

“Now, eighteen months after the first light, three months after the true day, but a very few days after the pure Sun of that most wonderful study began to shine, nothing restrains me; it is my pleasure to taunt mortal men with the candid acknowledgment that I am stealing the golden vessels of the Egyptians to build a tabernacle to my God from them, far, far away from the boundaries of Egypt. If you forgive me, I shall rejoice; if you are enraged with me, I shall bear it. See, I cast the die, and I write the book. Whether it is to be read by the people of the present or of the future makes no difference: let it await its readers for a hundred years, if God Himself has stood ready for six thousand years for one to study Him.”

—Johannes Kepler, Book V, The Harmony of the World

But there’s a strong caution in the Jeremiah passage. I can use Steampunk for His glory, but I have to be careful not to let my hunger to extend my reach — to use this offbeat but popular genre to attract people into the sphere of God’s influence — God says, “let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them.” It’s the old analogy of the person standing on the chair trying to pull up the person on the floor. I can’t end up on the floor. I can’t get down on the world’s level. I have to bring them up into that “Sun” Keppler talked about. I also have to remember that I’m supposed to be rescuing souls, real, precious lives, not just writing a book about it.

I love that reference to a “fenced brasen wall”, because Steampunk things are often made out of bronze. My characters use bronze tools and weapons for defense and offense against the enemies they face. But in reality it is God who protects and preserves those who “stand before” Him. I need to be clear about that with my characters ,too, that as they face “the hand of the wicked” and “the hand of the terrible”, that they rely on and give glory to God for their deliverance.

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A “Striking” Scripture for Writers by Mary C. Findley

Ecclesiastes 12: 11-12
The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.

I hate writing blog posts, or mostly any kind of non-fiction. It’s hard work. But I love writing fiction books. Still, these verses from Ecclesiastes presented quite “striking” image to me, if you’ll pardon the pun. I want to be wise in what I write, fiction or nonfiction. I want my words to be striking. Like a goad to get the cattle moving, I want them to keep people from standing still, from stagnating. I want my words to move people forward for God.

The verse also says something about being a “master of these collections”. I think it’s talking about the wise words being the collection, and that people who hear them and take them to heart can be used by God for another kind of striking. Those people can be like the nails that hold together something that’s well-constructed, like a ministry of some kind. So my words, if they are wise, can help people help their ministries to be solid and strong.

I know only God can do the actual moving, but I want my words to be the instrument. This is where the “given by one Shepherd” part comes in. God gives wise words to writers, if they let him, and they pass those on to those nails who get driven in, hard and fast, and hold a ministry together. It probably hurts to be a nail, metaphorically speaking, a person whom God has to drive into a work. But won’t it be great when you’re helping hold that building together for God?

The rest of the passage is a warning I need to heed as a writer, too. We have 47 publications now, and I’m going through a correction and updating process that makes that “devotion to books” thing ring very true. It is wearying to the body to be doing maintenance on 47 publications. It does seem endless. So it’s good that God said, “Let the books go for a little while, and write about My Word. Goad some people, if you can, and encourage those well-driven nails. While you’re a it.” So I hope I did.

Image from Morguefile

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