Monday, July 18, 2016

Republican Platform One Hundred Years Ago

The 1916 Republican Platform was written by conservatives.

The statement above is fact not wishful thinking. The party's liberals had been lost in the previous presidential election cycle when Teddy Roosevelt split the party. These conservatives emerged from their convention with the following plank in the party platform.

Right of Expatriation

We reiterate the unqualified approval of the action taken in December, 1911, by the President and Congress to secure with Russia, as with other countries, a treaty that will recognize the absolute right of expatriation and prevent all discrimination of whatever kind between American citizens whether native-born or alien, and regardless of race, religion or previous political allegiance. We renew the pledge to observe this principle and to maintain the right of asylum, which is neither to be surrendered nor restricted, and we unite in the cherished hope that the war which is now desolating the world may speedily end, with a complete and lasting restoration of brotherhood among the nations of the earth and the assurance of full equal rights, civil and religious, to all men in every land.
How much brotherhood among the nations of the earth will the current party build?

Can we look at today's convention and think about "assuring full equal rights, civil and religious, to all men of every land?"

It is foolish for us to think we can make "America Great Again" by building walls instead of bridges. Greatness cannot be achieved through bullying, belittling, and bashing our neighbors.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Amazon Kindle Policies: Are They Injuring Writers?

Amazon's seven day return policy on ebooks is getting a lot of negative press, with good reason. It is very easy to finish a novel and return it after you've read the book. Avid readers can finish a book or more a day. So why is Amazon being so generous with readers, at the expense of writers?

I could easily make a case that Amazon's return policy is designed to force writers to give them exclusive access to their books. The policy works very well to make Kindle Unlimited a necessity for writers and small publishing houses. Being paid for pages read is far better than having readers download your book, read it, and return it to Amazon. No matter what price point a book has, Amazon's policy makes it free to anyone who wants to game the system.

Let's face it. Lots of people want to take advantage of any loophole they find. So, for honest readers and writers out there, the online petition to end Amazon's seven day return policy seems like a no-brainer. The policy allows for legal piracy of an author's intellectual property. Nearly seven thousand people signed a petition against it.

Amazon considered the number insignificant. They have no plans to change their policy. So what else can be done?

So, what do we do? As a writer and publisher, it is impossible for me to ignore Amazon. Selling ebooks without having them available on Amazon is akin to living without oxygen in your blood. Sure there are other gasses out there, but your body won't survive without oxygen. Kindle sales are the oxygen supply that keeps independent presses and self-published authors alive.

I personally think that Amazon tried to cover the piracy in Part B of their policy. This is the part I don't think most writers are familiar with. Amazon monitors the number of returns by individual readers and if they exceed 30 returns, they are prevented from returning any more books.

I still don't like the policy. I don't believe readers should be able to return ebooks.


Amazon allows readers to sample the book before making a purchase. This is more than sufficient to let a reader decide if they like the writer enough to buy their book. If a book doesn't live up to the sample, they can write a review and let others know what they didn't like.

Also, 30 returns is too many. A reader who returns that many books isn't much of a reader. The high number of returns allowed means that book pirates could simply team up and each keep the number of returns below the cut off point. Maybe, instead of asking them to end the policy, we should try to get that number reduced or limited by frequency. I don't know if that would work. Perhaps what we really need is for Amazon to be broken up. As things stand, they have a virtual monopoly in the ebook market.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Podcast: Historical Kentucky Mysteries and a Famous Madam with Gwen Mayo

Courtesy of Alexandra Amor, Gwen has a new interview that Nessa Donnelly fans are sure to enjoy.
Tune in to learn more about Nessa's background, where she will be headed in future novels, and why Kentucky is such a great location to set murder mysteries.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Hats We Wear

It’s Thursday afternoon, and I’m thinking of all the things that are on my plate, and what to do next. I stop, lean back in my chair, and try to focus. The stack of scribbled notes beside my computer grows daily. My calendar takes up my computer screen and reminds me that I am missing many of the writing events that I would love to attend.

I close my eyes for just a minute. I think about my work and, for some reason, hats. Maybe it’s because the autographed baseball cap given to me by GW Pomichter is on my desk. I think, how many hats do we wear in a day? Like a lot of writers, I write full time but also have to work a regular job full time. There is a fine balance between the work that I do for income/insurance, and the work I do for me in writing/publishing. 

There is an old adage that people who wear too many hats are “jacks of all trades,” masters of none. It’s hard work to be a master writer, but it is what I want to accomplish. 

Is wearing too many hats bad for becoming a master writer? I don't think so. Sure I have to juggle marriage, home, work, family etc. Sure I have to sacrifice some writing time to promote both our press and my personal writing. But the fact is, I don't do it alone. I have a great team of creative people all “wearing multiple hats.”

I believe creative people do well wearing many hats. Those of us who take this journey of being an independent writer or small press often share valuable insights with others. We need those creative contacts that make the story in our head a book we can be proud to put our names on. Sure writing is something we do alone. The craft of writing is not. Sit down and really think about the number of people who mentor, advise, teach, and sometimes give us a kick in the butt to keep us writing. 

No one person can figure out business management, bookkeeping, book covers, layout, editing, formatting, advertising and promotion, blogging, and social media, marketing and  the countless other jobs that fall to a small business person. Yes, "Business" unless you are writing to fill up space on your hard drive, writing is a business. That's a lot of hats. Signing with a traditional publisher can cut down the number of hats you wear, but you still have to attend to the business side of writing.

It can be a struggle at times, wearing all of these hats. You have to shift your balance and re-arrange, and sometimes even topple under the weight. The important thing about wearing a hat is that it isn’t too tight, because that will just give you a headache and bad hair. The ones that don't fit need to be handed off to someone who looks smashing in them. If bookkeeping isn't for you, hire an accountant. Not good with covers, there are lots of people who would be happy to do one for a reasonable price.

Your hats have to fit perfectly, be bold and soft, in order to sit there and work. They have to make you look good.

Do we ever stop wearing too many hats in our life? I hope not! I love the energy, and he feeling of a job well done. When I look at one of my books and see how well they turn out it makes me very proud. So put your hats on, and be grateful that you have so many. 

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Today is the 100th anniversary of a real life historical mystery that remains unsolved. It has all the makings of a great historical novel, an unsavory American businessman sends a message a Canadian reporter that the Germans were planning to blow up Ottawa government buildings. United States authorities also received the tip. The message, for unknown reasons, reaches the authorities seven days later. Too late to save a building that was a national treasure.

It is all too easy in this age of terrorist bombings to imagine the anxiety and war fears 100 years ago. The US had not yet entered WWI, but the shock and anger spread across the border. By dawn on Feb. 4, seven people were dead, and the old tower of the Ottawa Capitol building came crashing down.

One of the witnesses described the golden flames shooting and twisting into the winter sky. The grand old tower stood while its support system crumbled and fell around it. Finally, it crashed onto the concourse, taking with it the old clock still glowing and chiming as it fell.

There are a number of theories about what happened. The official inquiry came to no firm conclusions. All we can do is look at the facts and speculate about the parts we don’t know. I tend to lean toward the bombing side of the argument, others think arson, but whatever the cause it makes for a great story just waiting to be told.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Vying for an Award: 2015 Preditors & Editors™ Readers' Poll

Concealed in Ash is competing for Best Mystery Novel in the 2015 Preditors & Editors™ Readers' Poll.

Please visit the poll to see the list of novels and authors. Right now, I'm tied for 10th place; I would be very grateful to have your vote.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Long Day for the Secret Service

I am such a history junkie that I can’t resist bit of history with an odd twist or two. Today is one of those historical days that I find interesting and a little odd. One hundred years ago the Secret Service and the Washington DC police department were called upon to block off the streets around the White House for the christening of President Wilson’s first grandchild, Ellen Wilson McAdoo.

The President was godfather and little Ellen’s aunt Mrs. Francis Sayre and her cousin Miss Helen Woodrow Bones were chosen as godmothers. The baby was named after her maternal grandmother, the late First Lady Ellen Axton Wilson in a private ceremony in the Blue Room with members of the Wilson family and Secretary McAdoo’s family in attendance.

Being born the daughter of the Secretary of the Treasury and granddaughter/goddaughter of the President means that security was very tight for the Christening. Secret Service members had to extend protection to the guests and inspect christening gifts from hundreds of well-wishers.

After this, you might think the Secret Service could breathe a sigh of relief, but the day was just getting started. The president attended to personal business at his bank, then returned to the White House for dinner with the family members who remained in town for his wedding. Yes, the President was married the same day his first grandchild was christened.

After dinner, streets were blocked off and the motorcade proceeded in the home of Mrs. Edith Bolling Galt where she and the President were married. The bride was 43 and he was 56.

This was a second marriage for both parties and they tried to keep the fanfare to a minimum. No matter how low key the President wants to keep his marriage to a direct descendent of Pocahontas, though, it isn’t going to be ignored. Wedding gifts filled an entire room of Mrs. Galt’s home and it took valiant efforts of the Capitol Police and the Secret Service to prevent crowds breaking through the barricades to get a glimpse of the couple.

For the twist to what makes this date in history a little odd as Wilson’s choice of wedding days has to do with little Ellen’s grandmother, Ellen Axton: the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, who married a young professor at Bryn Mawr College on December 18, 1885. That’s right, on the thirtieth anniversary of his first marriage, Wilson married his second wife.