Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life, Uncategorized

Ch1Con Giveaway: Last Chance!

A few weeks ago, Julia from the Chapter One Young Writers’ Conference guest-posted and shared a Rafflecopter giveaway for a free manuscript critique.  There are three days left to enter, and if you haven’t entered already, I encourage you to do so.  It’s too good an opportunity to pass up!

Also, you can click here to read Julia’s guest post about Writing and the Star Wars saga. 🙂

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life, Uncategorized

Gifts for Writers

Every day is somebody’s birthday.  In fact, once every 365 days, I have a birthday too.  (You’ll still have to guess when it is, though.)  Chances are, today, a writer turned a year older, and nobody knew what to get them.  (We can’t help being eccentric people, and no thank you, we already have too many fancy pencils from the last five birthdays.)  Here are some gift-giving ideas for writers and readers alike, in hopes that tomorrow’s writerly birthday boy or girl will be more fortunate. 🙂

Classic Author Quotes Mugs – $15

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Behind every successful writer are six piping hot cups of coffee (or, in my case, decaf green tea).  We writers hurt the environment enough as it is, what with all the trees we 81inwehyxxl-_sl1500_destroy to produce thousands of pages full of words we’ll eventually come to regret ever writing.  The least we can do is stop using disposable cups – go buy us one of these mugs, featuring quotes from  literary greats like Jane Austen and Edgar Allan Poe.  We’ll probably be too engrossed in our manuscripts notice, but the forest will thank you. 😉

 

Skip the Movie, Read the Book Tee – $6

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The mantra by which plenty of readers and writers hold firmly by.  It’s only right to put it on a T-shirt, and a $6 one, at that!  Some of the other shirts offered by this site contain crude slogans.  If you’re going to look for other awesome deals you can snag for $6, please browse responsibly.

 

Composition … Leggings? – $16

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Writers need to be comfortable to write well.  (Unless you’re Hemingway, who wrote some of his best words standing up.  That’s just weird.)  Nothing says comfortable like leggings, and it seems fitting (no pun intended) for a writer who wears them to wear a pair with composition book patterns all over.  If you’re making an author appearance, this would look really nice with a knee-length black dress, tunic, or baggy sweater to complete this bookish look. 🙂

 

Old Book Fragrance – $6-$25

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Speaking of bookish, do you like the smell of old books?  Would you want to smell like an old book?  Well, now you can.  I’ll admit, I’m curious as to what this might smell like.  Since it’s specifically labeled as a cologne, this might be good gift for gentleman writers.  (But you know what?  Phooey on conventions, just this once – every writer wants to smell like an old book!  Am I right?)

 

Storybook Tea Set – $9-$29

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Are you trying to get your writer friend to quit their caffeine addiction?  Try one of these storybook-themed teas.  It’s writerly, it tastes good in a mug, and it’s probably better for you in the long run, too.

….

As an old cowboy who lived in the city once said, there ya go!  (If you got that reference, you are really cool … or old … or both.)  A bunch of gifts that are within a realistic price range that writers actually want.  (At least, this writer does.)

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, Reviews, Uncategorized

Review: Adela’s Curse by Claire Banschbach

I read this book as part of a review exchange with the amazing Claire Banschbach, published author of two other YA fantasy novels, The Rise of Aredor and The Wildcat of Braeton.  She kindly reviewed my novelette, Secrets in Seaport, and the wonderful things she had to say about it immensely relieved much of the low book-esteem I’ve been suffering with since publishing it. 🙂

An original story of love, conflict, adventure, and chock-full of mythical creatures, Adela’s Curse has to be one of the cleanest YA fantasy novels I’ve read in a while.  Adela, a happy young faery, is tricked by a pair of conniving “mortals,” who bind her to them with dark sorcery and force her to use her magical powers to suit their twisted agendas.  Adela is forced to do whatever they tell her – or die.  And every faery fears death above all nasty fates!  (To borrow another science fiction franchise’s terminology, faeries typically “ascend to a higher plane of existence” when their material bodies expire, instead of dying the way people do.)  Adela is a clever faery, and finds creative ways to resist and delay her captors’ machinations, but can she find a way overcome her curse completely before it’s too late?

Claire Banschbach is true a master of world building and fantasy storytelling. There’s a certain light, airy, jovial tone to her writing that makes me (as a reader) feel like I’m being carried through the fantasy world on my own pair of faery wings. Continue reading “Review: Adela’s Curse by Claire Banschbach”

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, Uncategorized

Initial Thoughts on the Clean Reader App

Two years ago, I blogged about how cool it would be if multimedia content filters existed to censor e-books.  There are already several totally legit movie filtering programs and services out there.  Shouldn’t we be doing the same for books?

My friend Michael and I discussed the need for such an innovation – after all, grownups who care can simply take a black marker to whatever bothers them.  My thoughts were:

But what about people whose parents aren’t always around to spot-check the books for them? If today’s generation likes eBooks to begin with, there should be ready-made censored eBooks to purchase and download through honest means. They’d do more than just black out offensive words; they’d polish the entire sentence/paragraph/chapter up nicely with tactful paraphrasing and rewordings so the story still flows and the changes made are less obvious.

I recently discovered something called the Clean Reader App.  I have yet to try it for myself, but from what I can tell, the software blanks out offensive language in eBooks and offers less-colorful alternatives for the sake of context.  That’s kind of like what I’m looking for!  It’s definitely a step up from simply blacking out whole phrases and leaving kids to wonder what’s going on.  This app doesn’t appear to be exclusively for children, though.  Rather, it’s for anyone who doesn’t want to see their pages peppered with profanity, but having such high standards really limits what modern literature they can read.  I know the feeling all too well.

It looks like there are settings to customize your “clean-reading” experience.  I would imagine much of the censoring is automatic, which isn’t entirely foolproof and is sure to lead to some awkwardness.  (Imagine you’re reading a book about your favorite old-timey TV shows.  Every mention of the fellow who played Rob Petrie may make you chuckle/blush more than he ever intended.)

What I would really like to see, someday, is an app that artfully removes lengthier problematic areas (e.g. whole paragraphs depicting explicit or gratuitous suggestive/violent/disturbing content) and replaces them with transitional material written in the same style so readers don’t even know what they’ve just been spared from.  This can’t be done automatically, I understand.  (I think a team of volunteers to write these transitional “filler” texts would be in order.  Plus, you’d probably need the author’s permission to modify their work and then distribute it.  Yeah, it’s easier said than done, but if everyone thought like that, we’d probably still be painting stick figures in caves with mashed berries instead of writing books.)  But I think this profanity-filtering app is a great step in that direction!

Many authors are speaking out against the app, and don’t want their books censored, or “mutilated” (read: modified).  Unless the sole message of your book is that profanity is the best thing since sliced bread, I don’t believe that hiding/replacing a few potentially offensive words changes the message you’re trying to convey through your writing.  If anything, your books can now reach a wider audience that would have otherwise been turned away by your use of profanity.  Perhaps my proposed idea is worse – it does modify the written content, but I would only go forward with mass-distributing censored books in that fashion with the explicit permission of the author/publisher.

Parents and private school teachers have been taking the Sharpie marker and scissors to printed books they deemed offensive for ages.  Simply replacing potentially offensive words with alternatives, in an electronic medium, is far less destructive.

I’m wondering, does the app work with eBooks you’ve purchased and already own, or must you buy them again from the app’s catalog?  I have a feeling it’s the former, and the app (which is available through Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store) simply purchases the media from its host’s digital store (either Google or Apple), and applies a pre-programmed/automatic filter over it.  If that’s how it works, the copyright laws that allow the VidAngel movie filtering service to continue operating (where services like “CleanFlix” have not) should apply here.

Plus, if you don’t want the Clean Reader App’s consumers to read your books, aren’t you guilty of a kind of censorship by preventing this niche audience from having access if the Clean Reader App is the only way they’d read them?  One author stated that he doesn’t want people who use Clean Reader to read his books – he doesn’t want their business, since he doesn’t approve of the app in practice.  That’s kind of like saying that you don’t want wheelchair-bound people to enter your building because you don’t approve of wheelchair ramps.

Lastly, many authors also feel this app infringes on the reader’s freedom of choice to read profanity.  I read a lot of children’s fiction, and oftentimes, I’m shocked at the little inappropriate bits that authors are throwing in purely for shock value.  We wouldn’t want kids to grow up with the false sense that the world is all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, right?  We’ve got to show ’em just how terrible the world is through books!

Maybe some people (regardless of age) can do without that stuff.  Maybe some parents feel their kids aren’t ready for certain things at their current level of development.  (If you think that’s wrong of parents, then so is putting training wheels on your toddler’s first bike.  There’s a time and place for balancing on two wheels the hard way.)  Personally, I’m old enough now that I can handle certain levels of content in media that I couldn’t at age eight.  But I’m choosing not to expose myself to such content more than necessary.  The thing is, nobody’s forcing anyone to use this app.  It’s here if you want to use it, and if you don’t want it, you might as well get over it. I, for one, am choosing to give it a try.  If I like it, I’ll follow up this post with more musings.  🙂

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life

Want an eBook Cover?

There’s a new tab on the blog’s menu thingy, for my Graphic Design Services.  I’m currently offering an inventory of eye-catching premade eBook covers, at introductory rates between $35-$45.  If you’re an independent author looking to self-publish on a digital platform, you’re in the right place!

Take a look at my current inventory, and if you like any of them, let me know which one is your favorite. 🙂

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life, Uncategorized

Writing Music 2016

While I don’t believe that listening to Mozart as a baby makes you smarter, I can’t deny that music has a profound effect on my productivity as a writer.  I took part in an activity a while back as part of a Teens Can Write, Too blog tag, where I talked about how music influences my writing.  Today, I wanted to share some of my favorite songs and albums to write to as of this year. Continue reading “Writing Music 2016”